The Grand South India Journey
This incredible journey takes us from the shores of the Bay of Bengal to the beaches of the Arabian Sea, on a fascinating odyssey of discovery across the beautiful landscapes of South India. Beginning on India’s French Riviera, we will have a chance to enjoy the colonial charms of Pondicherry and the cultural heartland of the Tamils, before heading across the Western Ghats to the breathtaking backwaters and golden beaches of Kerala and Goa. Along the way we will take in the historic ruins of Mahabalipuram and Hampi, visit Mysore and Cochin and enjoy the natural beauty of Periyar and Wayanad. Using a combination of trains, vehicles and traditional Keralan houseboats, we have a chance to experience some of southern India’s most diverse and captivating landscapes on a breathless journey of natural and cultural contrasts.Enquiry
21 Days, 20 Nights
The UNESCO ruins of Mahabalipuram and the colonial charms of Pondicherry.
Itinerary : The UNESCO ruins of Mahabalipuram and the colonial charms of Pondicherry.
Day 1 : Arrive Chennai and drive to Mahabalipuram
Arriving in Chennai today we will be met at the airport and then driven south, towards the shores of the Bay of Bengal and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram. The once great port city of the Pallava dynasty, Mahabalipuram can trace its ancestry back to the 7th century and is home to some 40 different monuments and temples, including the magnificent Shore Temple, one of the oldest stone buildings in India.
Day 2 : Mahabalipuram to Pondicherry
One of South India’s most popular destinations, and a city that can trace its origins back to the Greeks and Romans, Pondicherry today is a rich mix of French and Tamil influences, whose old colonial quarter is still sprinkled with some majestic examples of 18th and 19th century architecture.
Day 3 : Pondicherry to Madurai (Dindigal)
Departing Pondicherry and our destination is the temple city of Madurai, a place that can trace its history back some 2,500 years. The city is built around the magnificent Sri Meenakshi Temple, a spectacular complex of towers, temples, courtyards and shrines that is considered one of India’s great cultural landmarks.
Day 4 : Madurai
Our full day in Madurai gives us an opportunity to visit the Ghandi Museum, the Tirumalai Nayak Palace and, of course, the magnificent 16th century Sri Meenakshi Temple and the Hall of 1,000 Pillars. After our visit we have the chance this afternoon to explore Madurai’s bustling streets, bazaars and perhaps even taking the chance to watch a traditional Aarti ceremony.
Day 5 : Madurai to Ooty
Turning north this morning we continue into the landscapes of the Western Ghats, heading towards the hill-town resort of Ooti. The town sits high amongst the cool highlands, surrounded by tea plantations and mist shrouded hills. Once a favourite summer retreat of the British administration, the hill station lies amongst a verdant landscape of rolling hills, waterfalls and the reminders of a colonial heritage that harks back to the days of the Raj
Day 6 : Ooty
We will spend the day wandering through the town’s Botanical Gardens, some of the loveliest in India that spread over 22 hectares; enjoying Ooty Lake (perhaps a spot of boating!) and taking in the views from over the gorgeous green vista from Dodabetta Peak, the highest point in the district at 2,623 meters.
Day 7 : Ooty to Chennamkary
After breakfast we will take the ‘toy train’ on the short, but truly stunning journey through the hills to Coonoor. Each turn will bring spectacular views of the lush countryside and tea plantations. From Coonoor we drive to the small village of Chennamkary and the beautiful backwaters of Kerala.
Day 8 : House Boat
Enjoy a backwater cruise, lazing in this converted rice barge now the house boat as it meanders through the tranquil network of water canals, dotted with busy hamlets, lush green paddy fields. The food is authentic Kerala cuisine, purchased fresh along the way. Overnight stay in House Boat.
Day 9 : Alleppey - Cochin
After disembarking from house boat drive to Cochin - "The Queen Of Arabian Sea".
Day 10 : Cochin
Today you will be taken on a half-day tour of Cochin – visiting Mattancherry Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue, St. Francis Church & the famous Chinese Fishing Nets. The rest of the day will be at leisure or visit the Jew Town for your shopping. Later this evening you will be taken to enjoy a performance of colorfully costumed Kathakali Dance.
Day 11 : Cochin - Kannur
Today we board the train to reach Kannur - a city that prospered from trade with the Persians and Arabs of the 12th and 13th centuries. Once the third largest city on the western coast of British India, Kannur today is home to Asia’s largest naval academy and the golden sands of Payyambalam Beach.
Day 12 : Kannur
With a full day to enjoy Kannur, you can take a stroll along the unbroken coastline of Payyambalam Beach. The city also hosts the Arakkal Museum, dedicated to the only Muslim family to rule in Kerala, as well as the 15th century fort of St. Angelo. Kannur is also well known for its ritualistic folk art including its Theyyam performances, a living cult whose rituals and customs embrace many of the region’s Hindu castes and classes.
Day 13 : Kannur to Nagahole
This morning we will drive the short distance into Karnatika to stay for two nights at Nagarhole National Park. This enchanting 247 square-mile park has an astonishing abundance of wildlife including large mammals such as tiger, leopard, wild elephant, dhole (Indian wild dog), and gaur (Indian bison). The landscape is one of gentle slopes and shallow valleys.
Day 14 : Nagaholé National Park
All day in this gorgeous setting to enjoy more games drives and local activities. But that is not all. Here we will be staying at the luxury Bison camp which offers one of the best possible wild experience anywhere in the country.
Day 15 : Nagaholé to Mysore
After a final game drive and breakfast we will head on to Mysore, the stunning cultural capital of the Karnataka region, located at the base of the Chamundi Hills. Long known for its festivals and palaces, Mysore can boast one of the most opulent and iconic buildings in southern India, the stunningly ornate Mysore Palace.
Day 16 : Mysore
This morning we visit the island town of Srirangapatnam and the ruins of the fort of Tipu Sultan, the famous ‘Tiger of Mysore’. Returning to Mysore this afternoon we then have a chance to explore the city and visit its spectacular palace, before perhaps enjoying an opportunity to shop for some of Mysore famous silk and sandalwood.
Day 17 : Mysore - Hospet
Today we take a overnight train journey to Hospet.
Day 18 : Hospet - Hampi
Arriving in Hospet this morning we then drive the short distance on to Hampi, where we find the medieval ruins of the once great capital of the Vijayangara Empire. Between 1336 and 1565, this small town lay at the centre of a Hindu empire that was one of the largest in all India.
Day 19 : Hampi to Goa
Our final train journey sees us heading back across the Western Ghats to the city of Madgaon, one of the oldest recorded towns in Goa. From here we then complete the journey back to the coast by road, a relatively short hop that deposits us amongst the golden beaches and palm-fringed shores of one of India’s most serene locations.
Day 20 : Goa
Today we can enjoy the long beaches of the Goan coastline, making the most of the turquoise waters of the Arabian Sea. Other options available include a possibility to perhaps visit a local plantation, or take a walk through the rambling streets of Panaji, Goa’s charming capital.
Day 21 : Depart
Tour ends this morning after breakfast.