Tour of the cultural insights of South India
Travel to places outside of a regular tourist map during this incredible India tour. Experience the pulse and vibrancy of locals and enjoy the warmth of their hospitality. Dwell in the magnificence of the rich history and culture of South India.Read more
Some of the highlights of your trip include:
Arrive Cochin airport and transfer to your hotel evening watch the performance of Kathakali Dance overnight in Cochin
After breakfast, proceed to Fort Kochi for a guided tour. Wander through the old districts of Mattancherry and Fort Cochin, where the various European influences are most apparent in the merchant houses and old warehouses, cramming the waterfront and narrow streets.
Explore the Paradesi Synagogue in Jew Town, (closed on Friday & Saturday), St Francis Church - the oldest European church in India, the 16th century Dutch Palace and the much-photographed Chinese nets. At sundown, set sail on a two hour sunset cruise, at the beautiful fishing harbor of Vypin and picturesque islands of Fort Kochi. Overnight in Cochin. Meals included: Breakfast.
Today on the cards is a trip to Munnar. Munnar, still retains its colonial charm and is famous for its tea plantations, most of which are privately owned. After a beautiful drive around town with its sprawling estates, rolling hills, sparkling waterfalls, picturesque hamlets and undulating valleys, you will then visit a Tea museum and the local market of Munnar. Overnight in Munnar. Meals included: Breakfast.
After breakfast, proceed to Athoor Village, located on the lap of nature. Athoor is an ideal place for relaxation and contemplation. Kamarajar Dam at Kamarajar Lake is a 400-acre monsoon-fed water body, 6 km West from Athoor village. This lake is set at a beautiful location with the hills of the Western Ghats overlooking it.
Fishermen in their coracles on the lake, and coconut and banana plantations and cardamom estates are the common sights on the surrounding hills. This natural site, is a perfect place for bird watching and a village walk. You will be assisted by a local guide during the course of these activities. Overnight in Athoor. Meals included: Breakfast.
Travel to the temple town of Madurai. This vast, pulsating city is one of the oldest cities in South India, dating back 2500 years, and sprawls along the banks of the River Vaigai. Wander through the fun, packed streets, full of pilgrims, wandering cows, open-air kitchens and colorful bazaars.
After lunch, you will then take a rickshaw tour, to explore multicolored Madurai. During this tour, you are going to explore the famous banana market of Madurai, the cotton weaving industry, the vibrant vegetable markets and the Gandhi Memorial Museum. Overnight in Madurai. Meals included: Breakfast.
You get an opportunity to wander around the tailor markets and bazaars before visiting the Sri Meenakshi Temple. This ancient temple is a maze of lamp-lit corridors. You will always find something that takes place here – ceremonies, musicians playing, weddings, prostrating pilgrims and festivals – making it a compelling place to spend time and enjoy the sights of a typical temple life.
The next stop is the Thirumalai Nayak Palace, an example of architectural grandeur. It was built by King Thirumalai Nayak in 1636 AD. The palace was designed by an Italian architect and served as the residence of the King. In the evening you can then attend the Night Ceremony, a highlight at the Meenakshi Temple (optional).
An image of Lord Shiva is carried out from his shrine by temple priests, in procession in a chariot, to his wife, Meenakshi's shrine, where he spends the night and a ceremonial puja (worship) is performed, amidst much chanting, drums, horns, and smoke. Overnight in Madurai. Meals included: Breakfast.
The day starts with a drive to Tanjore. On the way, you can stop at Karaikudi/Chettinadu, a city known for its elegant mansions, highlighting the best of the region's art and architecture. Karaikudi is also famous for its mouthwatering cuisine. So enjoy an authentic Chettinad lunch, which is best sampled in the elegant ambience it deserves- like the banquet hall.
You can then proceed towards Tanjore. A bustling market town, in one of the main rice-growing regions of Tamil Nadu, Tanjore was once the capital of the Chola empire and though, many structures from that period no longer survive, the town still boasts of its lovely temples. Overnight in Tanjore. Meals included: Breakfast.
Your day starts with a tour of the Brihadeshvara Temple. This magnificent temple, over 1000 years old, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, evokes the power of the Chola kings, as it towers over the town. Our next stop is at The Thanjavur Art Gallery. This gallery was built in the beautiful Thanjavur Royal Palace of the Nayaks in 1600 A.D.
The walls of the art gallery are adorned by painting and sculptures of South India that prevailed during the peak of the Tamil history. Then we proceed to the village to explore bronze casting and Tanjore paintings. With a history of traditional bronze casting, take the opportunity to view the masters at work using the lost-wax method.
This method, used to create sacred temple bronzes during the Chola period, is still practised today and is being passed down through the generations, to ensure that bronze casting continues to thrive. In the evening, feel free to explore the vibrant market roads of Tanjore, or you can even enjoy a local movie for an Indian theater experience. Overnight in Tanjore. Meals included: Breakfast.
After breakfast, head out to Pondicherry. Attractively set on the Bay of Bengal, with delightful unspoilt beaches, this surprising town is a throwback to colonial times, when it was a French enclave, but nowadays it is richly blended with Tamil culture. Those, used to British colonial architecture will enjoy the Gallic imprint, with the profusion of Catholic churches and distinctly French buildings, such as the beachfront Hotel de Ville and excellent French restaurants.
In the evening, explore this beautiful town on a bicycle and visit places like The Shri Aurobindo Ashram, the Church of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, or the Hindu temple of Lord Ganesh, whose walls are embellished with a wonderful series of paintings of Ganesh in various forms. Overnight in Pondicherry. Meals included: Breakfast.
Drive on to Mamallapuram. On the way you can visit the harmonious community of Auroville, inspired by The Mother, where people can come together, regardless of nationality, belief or colour, to live a meaningful life. Mahabalipuram - Seventh and eighth-century reliefs, rock and cave temples as well as "chariot" temples, carved into the golden stone of the Coromandel Coast have made Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, an astonishing UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After check in, you can choose to walk through the history of Mamallapuram. Each of the cave temples, monolithic chariots, sculpted reliefs and structural temples, has its own story to tell. The 7th Century town, which boasts of the oldest existing remains of the Dravidian architecture, will have your hearts captured with its quaint beauty and timeless stories. Overnight in Mamallapuram. Meals included: Breakfast.
In the morning, you will participate in a village tour by Auto Rickshaw – Villages are the best places to learn about the Indian culture and tradition. Maybe that’s the reason why Gandhi said, "Villages are the heart of our nation". This tour on an auto rickshaw - the famous hooded threewheeler of India, covers a trip around the village, where you can enjoy the sights of little mud huts with outdoor kitchens, village panchayat schools - where classes are sometimes conducted under the shade of a tree, little temples, pottery sites where one is able to listen to a tale or two as the potter spins the wheel, and lush green agricultural fields to experience an authentic Indian village. Enjoy your lunch in a local house / local restaurant.
Free Afternoon to be spent as desired. Overnight in Mamallapuram. Meals included: Breakfast / Lunch.
| 11 days | No flight
India: Cochin, Munnar, Thekkady, Alleppey, Quilon, Kovalam, Trivandrum
from 883 €
| 12 days | No flight
India: Cochin, Periyar National Park, Kumarakom, Alleppey, Kovalam, Trivandrum
from 639 €
| 13 days | No flight
India: Cochin, Calicut, Wayanad, Mysore, Hassan, Bangalore
from 1,173 €