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From its ancient temples to cultural cities such as Cochin, colorful old towns, lush plantations, houseboats on the backwaters of Kerala, expansive nature reserves and golden, palm-fringed beaches – explore laid-back southern India in depth, from the east coast to the west.

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Itinerary Summary

DayPlaceHighlightsHotel Options
1 - 1ChennaiGandhi Memorial, Kala Kshetra Dance School, Marina Beach
1 - 3MamallapuramShore Temples, Arjuna’s Penance Monument, Pancha Pandava Rathas Monument, Krishna’s Butterball RockIdeal Beach Resort, Vivanta by Taj - Fishermans Cove
3 - 4PondicherryFrench Town, Colonial Buildings, Aurobindo Ashram, AurovilleLes Hibiscus, Palais De Mahe
4 - 5ThanjavurUNESCO World Heritage Site, Brihadeshvara Temple, Statue of Nandi The BullIdeal River View Resort, Svatma
5 - 7ChettinadChettinadu Palace, Mansions, Antique ShopsThe Bangala, Visalam
7 - 8MaduraiMeenakshi Temple, Gandhi Museum, Vandiyur Kanmoy Tourist ComplexHeritage Madurai, The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai Madurai
8 - 10MunnarMatupetty Dam, Tea Plantations, Soft Trekking, Kannan Devan Tea MuseumThe Tall Trees, Spice Tree Munnar
10 - 12CochinFort Kochi Harbor, Matancherry & Pardesi Synagogue, St. Francis Church, Kochi-Muziris BiennaleEighth Bastion, Old Harbour
12 - 13Backwaters of KeralaLagoons & Lake, Houseboat Cruise, Village Life & Local CultureLakes And Lagoons, Spice Coast Cruise
13 - 16MararikulamPristine Beach, Village LifeA Beach Symphony, Xandari Pearl
16 - 16CochinFort Kochi Harbor, Matancherry & Pardesi Synagogue, St. Francis Church, Kochi-Muziris Biennale

Ideal For

  • Beaches
  • Heritage
  • Landscape
  • Wine & Food
Travel Consultant Enchanting Travels

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Itinerary Details

Day 1 - 1

International Arrival

We will welcome you at the airport.

Chennai

0 Days

Chennai is the gateway to South India, yet the actual city is only about 350 years old, beginning as a small fishing village before it expanded into India’s first major English settlement of Madras under British colonial rule.

Day 1 - 3

Drive from Chennai to Mamallapuram (58 km, 1 hr)

Mamallapuram

2 Days

Mamallapuram was once a bustling seaport that provided shelter to illustrious travelers like Ptolemy and Periplus in the first century! Today, the city’s claim to fame lies in its ancient Pallava heritage, evident in Mamallapuram’s exquisite collection of temples, caves, rathas (chariots) and monuments.

Included Activities

Highlights of Mamallapuram
Unearth several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Tour the stunning two-towered 8th century Shore Temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva and built in the typical architectural style of the Pallava dynasty, who ruled South India for three centuries. With the temple’s oceanic backdrop, this is especially beautiful at sunrise and sunset. Explore Arjuna’s Penance, a gigantic 7th century relief carving, depicting the legend of the holy River Ganges,or the Anantasayana Panel, which shows a reclining Vishnu, and Varaha Cave. Head to the Pancha Pandava Rathas (Five Rathas or chariots). These 7th century architectural monuments were hidden under sand until 200 years ago and are intricately carved out of a single large rock. Observe the mysteriously balancing rock of Krishna’s Butterball. Unwind with a leisurely amble along the town’s sandy shores.

Hotel Options
RoomStandard Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleBeach Resort
RoomSuperior Charm Sea View
MealsBreakfast
StyleBeach Resort
Day 3 - 4

Drive from Mamallapuram to Pondicherry (130 km, 2.5 hrs)

Pondicherry

1 Day

Pondicherry offers a slice of France in South India! Once a sleepy fishing village, the trading town was a French settlement since the 17th century until the Indian Independence.

Included Activities

Highlights of Pondicherry
Revel in the fusion Indo-French culture of this quaint French town, best explored by foot. Amble leisurely through cobbled streets to discover stunning boutique shops brimming with handmade, contemporary crafts, and a proud café culture, tucked within grand colonial and Tamilian buildings. In the Tamilian side of town, you can visit the living Manakula Vinayagar Temple. Wander through the famous Aurobindo Ashram, a spiritual community that follow the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, and the resting place of The Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual collaborator. Venture to the town’s outskirts and visit Auroville, a universal community that is heavily involved in sustainable and alternative living projects. Kindly note that Auroville is closed every Sunday afternoon.

Day Trip to Chidambaram & Gangaikondacholapuram
Enjoy temple tours and historical ruins! Discover some of the most beautiful temples of South India during your day tour of Pondicherry. Visit Chidambaram Thillai Nataraja Temple, which was built by the Chola dynasty to honour the Hindu god Shiva in the form of Nataraja – the Lord of Dance. Travel to Gangaikonda Cholapuram, the city of the Chola who allegedly conquered River Gange, and was once the beautiful capital of this powerful kingdom. Explore the magnificent three storey high Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple, which is surrounded by a massive fort-like wall and affords plenty of amazing photo opportunities.

Hotel Options
Les Hibiscus – Opt 1
RoomStandard Rooms
MealsBreakfast
StyleBoutique
Palais De Mahe – Opt 2
RoomStandard Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleBoutique
Day 4 - 5

Drive from Pondicherry to Thanjavur via Chidambaram and Gangaikondacholapuram (190 km, 5 hrs)

Thanjavur

1 Day

Thanjavur is a fascinating cultural melting point and was once considered India’s cultural capital.

Included Activities

Highlights of Thanjavur
Delight in the traditions and talents of Thanjavur, beginning with the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brihadeeswarar Temple, a thousand year old temple dedicated to Hindu God Shiva and home to India’s largest lingam (a phallic symbol of fertility). Venture onwards to another temple in Shiva’s honour, the Panchanatheesvarar Temple. Kindly note that footwear is not permitted within the temples. Visit the home of an artisan within his community and watch how he handcrafts the incredible brass sculptures that the city is famous for. Learn how the intricate and foiled famous Tanjore paintings are crafted.

Hotel Options
RoomRiver View
MealsBreakfast
StyleResort
Svatma – Opt 2
RoomDeluxe Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleBoutique
Day 5 - 7

Drive from Thanjavur to Chettinad (90 km, 1.5 hrs)

Chettinad

2 Days

Chettinad is renowned across India for its unique spectacular combination of flavorful cuisine, yet few venture to this sleepy, tranquil village.

Included Activities

Highlights of Chettinad
Discover the traditions of South India. Explore the crumbling mansions – replete with rubies – of former Chettinad traders and visit ones of these traditional homes to learn more about daily life and the customs and rituals that are such an important part of Tamil heritage. Spend time at the Kamban Mani Mandapam, where the famous poet Mahakavi Chakravarthy Kamban spent several hours writing poetry each day. Visit the library and art gallery at Kaviarsar Kannadhasan Mani Mandapam, which was built to honour another revered poet – Shri Kannadhasan. Travel onwards to the famous tile factory in Athangudi, where your guide will explain how the renowned handmade terracotta tiles of Chettinad are crafted and readied. You can also visit a unique handloom workshop, which preserve the uniquely Chettinadu check-patterned sari fabric.

Hotel Options
The Bangala – Opt 1
RoomStandard Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleGuest house
Visalam – Opt 2
RoomStandard Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleHeritage
Day 7 - 8

Drive from Chettinad to Madurai (105 km, 2 hrs)

Madurai

1 Day

Madurai, the city of incense and chiming cymbals, is one of the oldest in India! Dubbed the “Athens of the East’, the historical city was reputedly visited by learned men from Rome and Greece, including Megasthenes in the 3rd century BC! Cozily nestled amidst the towering mountains, this is an energetic city of contrasts where Hindu Gods and a growing IT industry go hand in hand.

Included Activities

Evening Ceremony at Sri Meenakshi Amman
Experience the fascinating ‘resting’ ceremony at the ornate and colorful Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai. Accompanied by your local guide, traverse the lively town to enter the grand temple complex. Under the sunset glow, marvel at the twelve brilliantly decorated towering structures, each featuring an assortment of figurines – deities, demons, and mythical animals. Visit the magnificent hall of a thousand pillars, and soak in the splendid architecture around. As night falls, witness the centuries-old ritual that is religiously performed every single night – but only for the deities! Following a final worship session for the day, watch as the head priests and a train of devotees carry an image of Shiva (aka Sundareshwara) in a silver palanquin to his consort, Parvati’s (aka Meenakshi) shrine, to be kept together until the morning. Join the chorus of voices, while chants, music, dance, and purifying smoke fill the air. The divine beings are believed to rest together for the night, a tradition that is expected to maintain balance in the world. (Half Day; Time: 2100 hrs, Fridays at 2130 hrs; Duration: 2.5 hours; Shared Activity & Private Transfer; Notes: Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple’s main sanctum, but can witness the ceremony from a gallery outside, Photography not allowed)

Marvelous Madurai Heritage Walk
Witness the beating heart of Madurai, a thriving market town since 2nd century BC! Discover more about its long history, and its journey as the center of power for many dynasties over the ages. Learn fascinating anecdotes and tidbits as you walk around – such as why a street was named after a man who razed a part of it to the ground! Also discover how the common cold shaped the history of this ‘lotus-shaped’ city, and a mere toad thwarted the mighty plans of a king – incredible stories await around every corner! While some of these tales are set a millennia ago, others are more recent, and they will keep you enthralled, located at the intersection of history and myth. As your walking tour proceeds, you will hear about fantastic tales of temperamental gods and amazing mortals, whimsical kings and landmark monuments, and uncover the true essence of this city. (Half Day, Time of Day: Morning, 0700 – 1000 hrs, or Afternoon, 1600 – 1900 hrs, Duration: 3 hrs; Private Activity & Transfers; Fitness Level: Moderate)

Hotel Options
Heritage Madurai – Opt 1
RoomDeluxe Club
Meals
StyleResort
RoomPasumalai Superior Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleInternational
Day 8 - 10

Drive from Madurai to Munnar (160 km, 5.5 hrs)

Munnar

2 Days

Munnar offers a haven of peace and tranquility within the verdant hills of Kerala.

Included Activities

Highlights of Munnar
Explore this beautiful panoramic town with its sprawling tea plantations! Begin with a drive to Mattupetty Dam where, at Top Station and Echo Point, views of lush mountainsides await and your voice will echo back. Head onwards to Kundala Dam, where you can go boating. The following day, after a dinner in the town and a good night’s sleep, enjoy a drive through winding lanes as you witness the exotic forest and grassland flora. Enjoy a 20 minute trek on a paved path before returning to the city.

Tea Delights of Lockhart
Explore the Lockhart Tea Museum situated at Devikulam, a scenic hill station and national park on the outskirts of Munnar in southern India. Drive along meandering country roads flanked by lush tea plantations and wooded hills. In a while you will reach the expansive Lockhart Estate established in the late 1800s as one of High Range’s earliest tea plantations. Accompanied by an in-house expert, tour the working tea factory, following the staff in action at every stage. Learn about orthodox tea, and its entire production process from tea leaf picking to your teacup. Understand the various health benefits of tea and its many uses. Visit the tea museum to know more about the history of tea in the region. Discover a collection of vintage equipment related to tea manufacture, and browse old photographs that trace the evolution of the town itself. Visit the adjoining nursery and garden where you can observe life behind the scenes. Finally, enjoy a tea tasting session while appreciating the fantastic scenery around! (Half Day; Duration: 1 hr; Private Activity & Transfer; Fitness level: Easy)

Hotel Options
The Tall Trees – Opt 1
RoomCinnamon Cottage
MealsBreakfast
StyleResort
RoomSpice Tree-Classic Room With Jacuzzi
MealsBreakfast
StyleResort
Day 10 - 12

Drive from Munnar to Cochin (160 km, 5.5 hrs)

Cochin

2 Days

Kochi, formerly Cochin, is considered the Queen of the Arabian Sea as it was one of the first European settlements in India, due its ideal positioning for trading.

Included Activities

Dances of Kerala: A Cultural Evening
Discover the art and culture of Kerala. Spend an evening at the Greenix Village in Cochin where you can enjoy a special performance of some of Kerala’s most celebrated dance forms. Learn the complex rhythm and artistic skills of popular classical dance forms such as Kathakali, Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam, performed by trained dancers over a period of two hours. The most famous and popular of these is Kathakali – a harmonious blend of dance, drama, music, literature and painting. Observe the detailed make up, grand costumes and intricate gestures which characterize this art form. (Half Day, Evening Activity & Transfer; Duration: 2.5 hours, from 1700 hrs to 1930 hrs including observing performer’s makeup session)

Highlights of Cochin (Half Day)
Cochin is an engaging city to explore, from the absorbing views of Fort Kochi harbor with its huge Chinese fishing nets, to ancient mosques, Portuguese architecture, and the crumbling remnants of the British Raj. Explore Mattancherry, where you can observe murals and antiquities at the Dutch Palace and Cemetery. Indulge your senses browsing traditional spice and antique markets. Encounter the fascinating 400 year old, fully-functioning Parsi Synagogue in the Jewish quarter. Visit the original grave of Vasco da Gama in St. Francis Church, used before his remains were returned to Portugal. Discover Hill Palace, the state’s largest archaeological museum, which is located in the regal and artistic suburbs of Tripunithura.
(Half Day, Private Activity & Transfer; Fitness Level: Easy; If you have a preference for timing, please tell your travel consultant at the time of booking, otherwise our team will schedule the tour at the best available time)

Hotel Options
Eighth Bastion – Opt 1
RoomStandard Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleBoutique
Old Harbour – Opt 2
RoomSuperior Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleBoutique
Day 12 - 13

Drive from Cochin to Kerala's Backwaters (65 km, 1.5 hrs)

Backwaters of Kerala

1 Day

Kerala’s famous backwaters are a labyrinthine network of tree-fringed lagoons, idyllic lakes, and river systems, running parallel to the Arabian Sea along the Malabar coast.

Included Activities

Overnight Houseboat Experience
Cruise Kerala’s backwaters and stay overnight in a traditional kettuvallom, a boat made from coconut rope and wooden planks. This unique and exotic barge experience provides all the comforts of a hotel, with furnished bedrooms, a modern shower and toilet room, a living area and a shaded balcony for relaxing on as you enjoy uninterrupted views of rural Kerala. There is also a kitchen where the boat’s crew will rustle you up deliciously fresh meals and snacks, served traditionally on banana leaves. The skipper (captain), might moor up and take you to visit a backwater village, where you can meet local people and observe ancestral homes and places of worship. After a relaxing day, drop anchor and rest your head to the gentle sounds of the swishing lake waters.​

Hotel Options
RoomA/C Deluxe
MealsFull Board
StyleHouseboat
RoomOne Bed Room
MealsFull Board
StyleHouseboat
Day 13 - 16

Drive from Kerala's Backwaters to Mararikulam (35 km, 0.5 h)

Mararikulam

3 Days

Mararikulam located a short drive from the town of Alleppey, epitomizes the tropical dream with its pristine white sands and crystal clear waters.

Hotel Options
A Beach Symphony – Opt 1
RoomCottage
MealsBreakfast
StyleBeach Resort
Xandari Pearl – Opt 2
RoomGreen Pearl
MealsBreakfast
StyleBeach Resort
Day 16 - 16

Drive from Mararikulam to Cochin Airport (75 km, 2 hrs)

Cochin

0 Days

Kochi, formerly Cochin, is considered the Queen of the Arabian Sea as it was one of the first European settlements in India, due its ideal positioning for trading.

International Departure

 Price & Inclusions

  • Option 1 From $ 3,790 /person
  • Option 2 From $ 4,390 /person

Prices are in USD and exclude international flights. This trip price is based on low season rates for accommodation and other applicable services, and may change depending on availability, currency fluctuations and number of people traveling together. For high season prices, please contact us with your exact travel dates and preferences.

Price Includes

  • Accommodation in one double room for 16 days / 15 nights.
  • Meals as indicated
  • All activities as listed :
    • Mamallapuram: Highlights of Mamallapuram
    • Pondicherry: Highlights of Pondicherry
    • Pondicherry: Day Trip to Chidambaram & Gangaikondacholapuram
    • Thanjavur:  Highlights of Thanjavur
    • Chettinad:  Highlights of Chettinad
    • Madurai: Evening Ceremony at Sri Meenakshi Amman
    • Madurai: Marvelous Madurai Heritage Walk
    • Munnar: Highlights of Munnar
    • Munnar: Tea Delights of Lockhart
    • Cochin: Dances of Kerala: A Cultural Evening
    • Cochin:  Highlights of Cochin (Half Day)
    • Backwaters, Alleppey/Kumarakom: Overnight Houseboat Experience
  • A high-quality air conditioned vehicle with chauffeur for the activities specified in the itinerary
  • All airport and hotel transfers as indicated above
  • All activities specified in the itinerary, including entrance fees, accompanied by your tour guide
  • Your Trip Coordinator: a 24/7 point of contact, supporting you during your trip
  • Welcome kit including all important documents and information regarding your itinerary
  • Fees and taxes

Not Included

  • Camera fees
  • Tips, additional meals and personal expenses
  • Visa fees
  • Travel, health and cancellation insurance
  • International airfare (from your home country to your destination and return)
Inquire Now
Simply South India: Heritage, Landscapes and Beach

16 days $ 3,790 / person

Contact Us

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