Classic South India - India Tour Itinerary
Classic South India - 16nights/17days
Starting out at Chennai, India's fourth largest city and the site of the first settlement of the East India Company in 1639, the itinerary journeys through the three southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, to take you to some of the most well-known places. In Tanjore, marvel over the Brihadeshwara temple a World Heritage monument; at Madurai once the center of Tamil learning there is the Meenakshi temple with its towering gopuram. Stop at the artisans village in Mahabalipuram; visit Pondicherry and Auroville, that unusual combination of European culture and Indian traditions; the grand palace in Mysore capital of the Wodeyar dynasty which ruled the state of Karnataka for some 150 years.
An exhilarating and unique ride on the Toy Train takes you through the natural beauty of the Nilgiris ‘blue mountains' from Ooty to Coonoor. There's more of nature's bounty amidst the scenic beauty of Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary that slumbers on the banks of the famous Vembanad Lake, with its majestic canals, streams and distributaries that weave an intricate and enchantingly beautiful web around.
Cruise the backwaters in country boats, absorbing the beauty of Kerala villages. Pause at wildlife sanctuaries – at the Pariyar National Park, in the shadow of the Western Ghats, roam elephants, sambar, tigers, gaur, lion-tailed macaque and Nilgiri langurs. You can watch them frolic at the edge of the lake from the safety of a boat.
It would not be far from the truth to assert that vast diversity that is South India cannot be encapsulated in one itinerary. However, at the risk of leaving out cities and sites that are in no way secondary, we have attempted to capture the flavour of region as a curtain raiser that will tease and tantalize you into returning to uncover the details. The hotels in each city are the best, giving you a balanced mix of both heritage and modern.
price on application
Cost Includes: Accommodation for 16 nights with breakfast daily, transfers, excursions and sightseeing with English speaking guide in an air-conditioned chauffeur driven car, monument entrance fee, porterage, mineral water in car, boat ride at Periyar for wildlife viewing, morning boat cruise and evening Kathakali dance performance in Cochin and train travel in air-conditioned executive chair-car as per itinerary
Hotels Superior : Ambassador Pallava (executive) Chennai, Reegalis (superior) Mysore, Taj Garden Retreat (standard) Coonoor, Trident Hilton (superior) Cochin, Abad Whispering Palms (garden view) Kumarakom, Cardamom County (cottage) Periyar, Sangam (standard) Madurai, Oriental Tower (deluxe) Tanjore, Sterling Swamimalai (standard) Madurai, Anamalai International (standard) Pondicherry Deluxe (upgrade to): Le Meridien (deluxe) Chennai, Metropole (royal wing room) Mysore, Le Meridien (royal club) Cochin, Coconut Lagoon (bungalow) Kumarakom, Taj Garden Retreat (cottage) Periyar, Taj Garden Retreat (deluxe) Madurai, Ideal River View (cottage) Tanjore, De L'orient (suite) Pondicherry Luxury (upgrade to) : Taj Connemara (executive heritage) Chennai, Lalitha Mahal Palace (standard) Mysore, Brunton Boatyard (standard sea view) Cochin, Kumarakom Lake Resort (pool villa) Kumarakom, Spice Village (standard) Periyar.
Classic South India - 16nights/17days
Day 01 Arrival
Reception and welcome at Chennai airport followed by transfer to your hotel. Spend the afternoon sightseeing museums and the profusion of suberb Indo-Saracenic buildings.
Day 02 Chennai
Drive out in the morning to the nearby town of Kanchipuram well known for the exqisite silk saris that are woven here. On the way back to Chennai stop at the Kalakshetra, the centre for traditional performing arts, and the flower and fruit markets.
Day 03 Chennai - Mysore
Take the express train to Mysore. You are booked here for two nights
Day 04 Mysore
The city has more than enough to keep you busy all day.
Day 05 Mysore - Coonoor
Drive to Ooty in the morning. After lunch take the exhilarating ride on the unique ‘Toy Train' that connects Coonoor and Ooty.
Day 06 Coonoor - Kochi
A long and interesting drive takes you to Kochi, previously known as Cochin, on the west coast of India.
Day 07 Kochi
A boat cruise in the morning to see Chinese fishing nets and the old city at Fort Cochin. Enjoy a Kathakali dance performance in the evening.
Day 08 Cochin - Kumarakom
A breathtakingly beautiful sanctuary on the banks of Vembanad Lake.
Day 09 Kumarakom - Periyar
An early lunch will give you enough time to stop at spice plantations en route to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Day 10 Periyar
Spend the day with nature and take a boat ride on the lake that is the heart of the sanctuary.
Day 11 Periyar - Madurai
Drive to Lotus shaped Madurai, once the seat of Tamil learning.
Day 12 Madurai - Trichy - Tanjore
Leave early to drive to Tanjore with a stopover at Trichy en route.
Day 13 Tanjore
Explore the city and the World Heritage Site at the Brihadishvar Temple.
Day 14 Tanjore - Kumbhakonam - Dharasuram – Swami Malai
En route to Swami Malai, stop at the temple town of Kumbhakonam and the temple at Dharasuram.
Day 15 Swami Malai - Pondicherry
Gangaikondacholapuran makes for an interesting halt on the way to Pondicherry and the Sri Aurobindo Ahsram.
Day 16 Pondicherry - Chennai
Drive back to Chennai via Mahabalipuram, visit the shore temple and the rock-cut murals that adorn the caves here.
Day 17 Departure
The day is at leisure to spend as you will, as you await transfer to the airport in time for your flight out.
THE BENELUX BONANZA
The journey I was about to undertake would not only in geographical terms span vast distances over land and sea......it was an odyssey which would cover a period of over four hundred years and one in which I would try to establish a "connection" with my ancestors.
I had attempted to obtain tickets for the Palace on Wheels (POW) from a specialist rail tour company in the United States, only to be informed that the ticket allocation has been exhausted on the date we wanted to travel. I incidentally mentioned this to Andre as part of a broaderPeter Bermingham