South India is home to ancient civilisations, bustling modern cities, mountains, forests, exotic wildlife, temples, beaches and backwaters. This tour takes in a variety of destinations while still giving you the chance to see local life up close and engage with the wonderfully warm and friendly people who call this land home.
Day 1: On arrival in Chennai you’ll be met and introduced to your driver. Depart immediately and drive 90 minutes south to the beachside town of Mahabalipuram. Overnight in Mahabalipuram.
Day 2: Your first full day in India will be relatively low-key with a half-day sightseeing tour of the ancient monuments of Mahabalipuram in the afternoon, after a morning spent acclimatizing and perhaps strolling on the beach. Overnight in Mahabalipuram.
Day 3: Day excursion to the temple town of Kanchipuram, one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites in southern India. On the way back to Mahabalipuram you will visit the Cultural Village of Dakshinachitra and the Crocodile Bank - a unique centre for the study of these amazing reptiles. Overnight in Mahabalipuram.
Day 4: Departing Mahabalipuram the next stop is at Trichy, another of Tamil Nadu’s important Temple Cities and home to Srirangam and Rock Fort Temples. The climb to the top of Rock Fort is rewarded with views over the city and Srirangam temple, one of the largest in Asia. Rock Fort Bazaar is a very interesting market, seething with people and a great place to buy almost anything. Overnight in Trichy.
Day 5: Leave Trichy after breakfast and drive 3 hours to Madurai. Later in the day visit Meenakshi Temple and the Nayak Palace, with free time in the late afternoon to explore the markets of Madurai, the second largest city in Tamil Nadu and one of its most fascinating. Overnight in Madurai.
Day 6: Early morning visit to the famous Madurai flower markets, and after breakfast drive 4 hours to Periyar, high in the hills of the Western Ghats. Options for the afternoon include guided trekking in the forests of the famous Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, a visit to a spice plantation, bamboo rafting or a chance to ride, feed and bathe an elephant. Overnight in Periyar.
Day 7: Depart Periyar and drive down to Alleppey; board a houseboat here for a lunch cruise on the famous Kerala backwaters. At the end of the cruise you’ll be dropped at your accommodation for the night, a homestay or resort alongside the backwaters. Overnight near Alleppey.
Day 8: Morning around your accommodation before transferring back to the mainland and driving 90 minutes north to Cochin. Afternoon sightseeing around historic Fort Cochin, a major trading port for centuries and home to a multitude of cultural influences - overnight in Fort Cochin.
Day 9: Full day drive to Wayanad- a remote district in the north of Kerala - overnight in Wayanad.
Day 10: A day in the Wayanad district where you can go trekking, visit a wildlife sanctuary by jeep or see some of the local attractions which include India’s oldest Neolithic rock carvings and ancient Jain temples in the forests. Overnight in Wayanad.
Day 11: Morning drive down to Mysore and in the afternoon visit the famous flower market and sumptuous Mysore palace. If you happen to be in Mysore on a Sunday you can see the amazing sight of the nearly 100,000 lights of the palace being turned on. Overnight in Mysore.
Day 12: Depart Mysore and drive to Hassan, en route visiting the giant Jain statue at Sravanabelgola. Later in the day you will be able to see two of the most intricate temples in south India- the Hoysala Dynasty structures at Belur and Halebid. Overnight in Hassan.
Day 13: Full day drive to Hospet; settle in to your accommodation ahead of the next two Days at Hampi which is 12km/20 minutes from Hospet.
Day 14 and 15: 2 full Days are needed to do justice to this remarkable site- spend one day with a guide to get some background and understanding of the history of Hampi, and on the second day explore at your own pace. Overnight in Hospet.
Day 16: A full day excursion to the temples and caves at Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami, overnight Badami.
Day 17: Drive west to the coast and the world famous beaches of Goa, India’s smallest state. Overnight in Goa
Day 18 and 19: Wind down with 2 Days relaxing on the beach. If you are interested in the history of Goa, a full day tour is an option. Overnight in Goa.
Day 20: Morning flight to Mumbai, where you will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon, visit some of the many highlights of Mumbai including the Gateway of India, the Dhobi Ghats (probably the world’s largest open-air laundry), the Hanging Gardens and historic colonial buildings of south Mumbai. Overnight in Mumbai.
Day 21: orning visit to the rock-cut temples at Elephanta Caves, on Elephanta Island in the middle of Mumbai Harbour. Later in the day transfer to Mumbai airport for your flight home.