An unforgettable journey to bring you in touch with the vibrant culture of South India. Sample the coconut-infused dishes of Chennai, explore the temples of ancient Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry and Thanjavur and feel the good karma of Madurai. Spot wildlife at Lake Periyar, spend a night on a houseboat on the backwaters of Alleppy and discover historic Kochi.
Namaste! Are you ready to feel the warm atmosphere and vibrant colours of Southern India? Pack your bags and head to your departure airport, ready to catch a flight * to Chennai. Night on board.
* If either your outbound or inbound flights depart in the early hours (before 4:00 a.m.) you must arrive at the airport the night before the indicated departure day.
Arrive in Chennai, formerly Madras, and capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Beaches, ancient Hindu monuments and quirky colonial architecture mean there's something to suit all travellers. Transfer to the hotel and spend the rest of the day exploring at your leisure, or simply kicking back and relaxing after the journey. Think of yourself as a bit of a foodie? This part of India is well-known for its delicious seafood curries. Tuck in! Overnight stay in Chennai.
Breakfast at the hotel. It's time to set off on your journey through southern India, starting with a road trip to Mahabalipuram. Stop en route in Kanchipuram to visit the temples of Kailasanatha and Ekambaranatha. You can literally feel the history in this ancient city so open your imagination and reconnect with your spiritual side. Continue the journey to Mahabalipuram, sandwiched between the Bay of Bengal and the Great Salt Lake. You can expect amazing landscapes and a Pallava dynasty monuments. Arrive, transfer to the hotel and spend the remainder of the day at your leisure, the perfect opportunity to cool off by the pool. Overnight stay in Mahabalipuram.
Breakfast at the hotel. Make like Indiana Jones today and explore the ancient monuments and temples of Mahabalipuram. One of the oldest in the region, the Temple of the Shore was designed to capture the first rays of the rising sun. Examine the world's largest bas-relief: the 'Penance of Arjuna', and trace the mythological stories carved into the giant stone. Impressive yes, but wait until you see the Rathas, a series of monolithic temples in the shape of chariots. What's more, their construction remains a mystery. Of the eight Rathas, five have been baptized with the names of the Pandava brothers, the heroes of the epic-mythological work Mahabharata. After a day of intrepid exploration, return to the hotel. Overnight stay in Mahabalipuram.
Breakfast at the hotel. Depart by road to Pondicherry, a former French colony, famed for its charming architecture. If you're a sucker for a beautiful beach, you're in the right place as the coastline here is simply breathtaking. Transfer to the hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure, catching some rays on the beach or immersing yourself in the local culture in the town. Pondicherry's is also a centre for yoga and meditation, so you could always get spiritual with the local yogis. Overnight stay in Pondicherry.
Breakfast at the hotel. Continue south to Thanjavur, on the Vennar River. Arrive and transfer to the hotel. This afternoon it's time to discover the Temple of Brihadisvara, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Walking across the threshold you'll instantly feel the good karma and tranquil atmosphere. Over 1000 years old, it is alive with history! Afterwards, return to your hotel and spend the evening at your leisure, the perfect opportunity to get out and sample the local cuisine and people-watch. Overnight stay in Thanjavur.
Breakfast at the hotel. Today, the journey of discovery continues in beautiful Trichy, another jewel of South India. The first order of the day is to discover the impressive Sri Rangam Temple, dedicated to Visnu Arrive and visit the Sri Rangam Temple, dedicated to Vishnu and the largest in all of India! It's a labyrinth of monumental gateway towers, temples, courtyards and collonaded rooms. Next, transfer to Madurai, another of South India's ancient cities. Of such great Hindu importance, you can smell the aroma of marigold garlands, used as offerings in the city's temples. Get some rest as more discovery awaits tomorrow! Overnight stay in Madurai.
Breakfast at the hotel. Set off to Minakashi Temple, on the banks of the sleepy Vagai River. Built 2000 years ago, watch as pilgrims leave offerings for the Hindu god Shiva and soak up the peaceful atmosphere. The 14 gopurams, or gateway towers, depict stories from Hindu mythology through their colourful sculptures. The sacred temple pool is the perfect spot to sit and contemplate the amazing spirituality of the place, or simply admire the golden lotus flowers that sit upon the water. Spend the remainder of the day at your leisure, taking some time to relax or discussing all you've experienced so far with your travel companions and new friends. Tomorrow you'll leave the cities behind for something a little different... Overnight stay in Madurai.
Breakfast at the hotel. Hit the road, en route to Periyar, one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in the country. Located on the shores of a beautiful lake, it is home to majestic wild elephants, rare white tigers, buffaloes, spotted deer and various species of reptiles and birds. Get your binoculars ready! Arrive and transfer to the hotel. The wildlife spotting starts straight away with a cruise on tranquil Lake Periyar. Sense the wildlife all around and try to spot the animals drinking and bathing along the shoreline. If this wasn't exciting enough, the lush green forests that surround the lake are simply stunning. You'll sleep soundly tonight, surrounded by the soundtrack of nature! Overnight stay in Periyar.
Breakfast at the hotel. Today, you'll finally live the dream of spending the night on an authentic houseboat on the sleepy backwaters of Alleppey! After travelling west towards the Arabian Sea coast arrive in Alleppey and board a House Boat for an unforgettable day of cruising. You'll get a real insight into the local lifestyle as you pass by villages and plantations, all the while enjoying the breeze and the shade of the palm trees. Lunch on board and continue cruising through the backwaters, as you wind down after your brilliant journey through southern India. What better way to end a trip of a lifetime that with a sundowner drink from the deck of a houseboat? Dinner and overnight stay on the houseboat.
Breakfast at the hotel. Disembark the houseboat, filled with fond memories and head towards the city of Kochi. This city is one of the most famous ports on the coast of the Arabian Sea, known by merchants and navigators since time began! Its cosmopolitan character is reflected in its buildings and structures from different parts of the world. Arrive and transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon enjoy a half-day tour of Kochi where you can discover the Church of San Francisco, the incredible Chinese style fishing nets along the coast, the Dutch Palace and the local Synagogue. Afterwards, attend a Kathakali dance show, to feel the rhythms of southern India and experience the vibrant local culture. Overnight stay in Kochi.
Please note: the Dutch Palace is closed on Fridays and the Synagogue is only open on Fridays between 10:00 and 13:00 and closed on Saturdays.
Breakfast * at the hotel. Sadly, it's time to leave India behind and return to home, although the experiences you've had, the culture you've absorbed and the memories you've made on your journey will stay with you forever! At the indicated time, transfer to the airport for a return flight back to the UK/Ireland. Arrive in the UK/Ireland and end your journey.
* Depending on the return flight schedule and the hotel breakfast service, you may not be able to enjoy the included breakfast on the last day.
*In case the advertised hotels are not available they will be replaced by one of these alternative hotels with the same quality: Grand by GRT Hotels.
Indian visa (required), drinks, tips and any other services not mentioned in what's included.
If you are travelling to India with a UK passport, you will require an Indian visa. For other passport holders, we recommend that you check with the Indian Embassy for further details:
Useful information India
Remember to download your e-ticket to confirm the times of your flights and to complete online check-in using the airline’s website, or directly at the check-in desk at the airport.
Accommodation at the hotels is as indicated. In the event of any changes to accommodation, they will always be of the same or a higher category. The category of hotels is not standardized across all countries in the world. For this reason, the criteria may differ depending on the destination country's own standards.
In the case of adverse weather conditions, for safety reasons or for any other reasons deemed appropriate, the order and duration of the excursions included in the itinerary may be changed or cancelled without prior notice.
Triple room: the third bed will be a rollaway bed.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office offer up-to-date travel advice by visiting www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Tips in India are subject to the decision of the client based on the level of satisfaction of the service provided and the experience in general. Taking into account that they are not obligatory, they are usually expected.
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