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South India Tour Itineraries - Complete South India Tour

This is a very comprehensive, near month-long tour of South India, taking you in a great arc from Chennai in the south east, down through the culturally rich plains of Tamil Nadu, across into verdant and scenic Kerala, and up into Karnataka where you’ll see evidence of some of India’s great civilisations of the past. This itinerary finishes in cosmopolitan Mumbai.

Complete South India Tour - ( 27 Days & 26 Nights )


Day 1 : Chennai- Mahabalipuram

On arrival into Chennai you will be met and introduced to your driver. Depart immediately and drive a couple of hours south to Mahabalipuram, a nice relaxing place from which to commence your travels. Overnight in Mahabalipuram


Day 2 : Mahabalipuram

The beachside town of Mahabalipuram is home to several UNESCO World Heritage-listed monuments including the largest bas relief carving in the world and the much-photographed Shore Temple among others. Tour these sights with a guide, and later enjoy a stroll along the beach (generally it’s not safe to swim here). Overnight in Mahabalipuram.


Day 3 : Mahabalipuram - Kanchipuram - Mahabalipuram

Today you’ll make an excursion to Kanchipuram, famous for some wonderful temples, and for the beauty of the fine silks which are woven here. Overnight in Mahabalipuram


Day 4 : Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry

After breakfast drive to Pondicherry, the old French colonial capital of India. The French Quarter, adjacent to the promenade and main beach (no sand, all rocks unfortunately) still retains a French atmosphere in its architecture and planning. Time in Pondicherry can be pretty much unstructured as all of the most interesting places are within a small area around the French Quarter and the markets of the city centre. You can visit Aurobindo Ashram, the former home and teaching base of Sri Aurobindo Ghose, a Bengali philosopher who came to Pondicherry in the early 20th century. The markets and boutiques of Pondicherry are among the best in South India. Overnight in Pondicherry


Day 5 : Pondicherry - Chidambaram - Gangaikondacholapuram - Kumbakonam

After breakfast drive to Kumbakonam- this is a full day’s journey including stops. First visit Chidambaram, one of the main pilgrimage sites in India, a bustling temple, privately run and dedicated to the dancing Shiva, Nataraja. Continue on to Gangakondacholapuram which is now UNESCO World Heritage listed and a remarkable indicator of how incredibly advanced South Indian culture and technology was as early as 1000 years ago. Continue on to the town of Kumbakonam, settle in at your hotel and relax. Overnight in Kumbakonam


Day 6 : Kumbakonam and Tanjore

A full day for visiting some of the many beautiful examples of why this is the ‘Temple Heartland’ of South India. Indeed there are few places in the world were so many temples of such beauty can be found in a small area. Perhaps the most unique this is that there is really no such thing as an abandoned temple in South India- almost any temple, no matter how neglected, will have someone going there to offer prayers and light an oil lamp. The vast majority of temples in Tamil Nadu are very much active and attract hundreds, even many thousands, of pilgrims daily. Tour the area with a guide; overnight in Kumbakonam


Day 7 : Kumbakonam - Chettinad

Drive from the lush agricultural lands of the Cauvery Delta to the more arid region known as Chettinad. This part of Tamil Nadu is home to the Chettiar merchants, who amassed significant wealth in the 19th and early 20th centuries in their role as bankers and intermediaries in trade during the British imperialist period. Many of the Chettiar families used their wealth, and their trade connections, to build extravagant mansions, some up to 3500 square metres of floor space and usually 2 storeys high. Constructed using materials from across the British trading empire (Belgian glass, Italian marble, British steel) and using architectural techniques from around the world, these mansions manage to avoid being garish and are really quite beautiful. Best of all, several have been restored as hotels and you can stay in one! Overnight in Chettinad


Day 8 : Chettinad

A full day to walk and explore in the many towns and villages of Chettinad. This is a low-key sort of region, and you won’t find too many places where the pace of life is more languid or the people more friendly. The sightseeing is more interesting than jaw-dropping with local temples, (genuine) cottage industries and plenty of places to try local delicacies and drink chai with the people you’ll meet along the way. Chettinad cuisine is also very noteworthy and rather different to that found in the rest of South India, being richer and, if anything, spicier! Overnight in Chettinad


Day 9 : Karaikudi - Madurai

After breakfast drive to Madurai- around 2 hours. Later in the day join a guide and visit Tirumala Nayak Palace - a gracious building in Indo Saracenic style famous for the stucco work on its domes and arches. There is also an extensive museum dedicated to the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi. In the later afternoon take our very own ‘food safari’ to sample some of Madurai’s best street food and local restaurants. Overnight in Madurai


Day 10 : Madurai - Periyar

An early start this morning to take another of our Madurai team’s local initiatives, Vanakkam Madurai, a morning walking tour in the central city. Vanakkam means welcome in Tamil, and what a way to welcome in the new day. You’ll see the city waking up, and walk in streets which just hours later will be wall to wall with activity while only a few of the city’s inhabitants are up and about. This is a magical experience and well worth setting an early alarm for. Visit Meenakshi temple after breakfast before leaving Madurai (and Tamil Nadu) behind and heading up into the hills to Periyar, which is famous for its spice plantations and wildlife sanctuary. Overnight in Periyar


Day 11 : Periyar

Full day around Periyar with a number of possibilities- if you’re feeling energetic there are full-day hiking and bamboo-rafting programmes, or for a slightly more relaxing day, take a 2-hour guided walk to look for wildlife in the Periyar Sanctuary and tour a spice plantation, or just enjoy time at in the beauty of this lushly-forested area. Overnight in Periyar


Day 12 : Periyar – Alleppey

Drive down the hills to the famous Kerala backwaters around Alleppey. Whether you are staying at a boutique guesthouse, traditional homestay or a stylish resort, time around Alleppey will be very soothing and restful, as there is only as much to do as you want to do, and again the pace of life is relaxed to say the least. Overnight near Alleppey


Day 13 : Alleppey

Spend an entire day around the backwaters, walking or cycling, paddling a kayak, riding in a small canoe paddled by a local fisherman, or relaxing on a luxury houseboat for an afternoon cruise. Overnight houseboat options are available, but we don’t recommend this any longer as the preferred way of seeing the backwaters- one of our tour planners will explain the pros and cons of an overnight houseboat for you. Overnight near Alleppey


Day 14 : Alleppey- Cochin

Reconnect with your driver and first head to Manakkodam village- this is another Indian Panorama initiative, this time devised by Sona from our Cochin office. The village tour here has drawn universal praise over a few years now, and you’re assured of both a warm welcome and a very genuine experience of a Keralan village. Continue on to reach Fort Cochin by late in the day. Overnight in Fort Cochin


Day 15 : Fort Cochin

Spend the morning on a sightseeing tour of historic Fort Cochin- this 500-year old port town (the main city, Ernakulam, aka Kochi, is across the harbour) bears witness to influences from many of the traders who have passed through here during the time it has been in existence. As a result, Portuguese churches, a Dutch Palace, fishing nets of Chinese origin, British colonial mansions and more all overlap in a dizzying patchwork of styles. In the afternoon, take a cruise on the harbour and later enjoy a cultural show with traditional dance and martial arts. Overnight in Fort Cochin


Day 16 : Fort Cochin

A free day with options for cooking classes or an excursion to nearby Cherai Beach. If you just want to wander around in Fort Cochin, that can make for a very nice day too. Overnight in Fort Cochin


Day 17 : Cochin - Bangalore - Mysore

After breakfast drive to Cochin airport and fly Bangalore. Here you will be met and introduced to your next driver. Depart immediately and drive around 4 hours to Mysore. Settle in on arrival and relax. Overnight in Mysore


Day 18 : Mysore

Guided sightseeing around the city including the Sultan’s Palace, Jaganmohan Palace, St. Philomena's Church, Chamundi hill-top temple and the famous Devaraja vegetable and fruit market. Overnight in Mysore


Day 19 : Mysore - Hassan

After breakfast drive to Hassan, with a stop en route at Shravanabelagola, a huge Jain statues depicting the god Gommateshwara, carved out of a single rock and visible from a distance of 25km. Continue on to Hassan, visiting the impressive Hoysala (11th/12th century) temples at Belur and Halebid. Overnight in Hassan


Day 20 : Hassan - Hospet

Depart for the long drive (don’t worry, there are refreshment stops!) of around 8 hours to Hospet. Most people stay in Hospet as there is very little accommodation in Hami itself, but there are options in Anegundi, just across the river. Overnight in Hospet


Day 21 : Hampi

The vastness of Hampi could easily tie you up for a week or more- there is almost no limit to how much you could see here if you had the time. Our recommendation is no less than 2 days, with a guide to help you on the first day, both to explain something about Hampi’s past, and to assist you with orientation and getting around. Overnight in Hospet/Anegundi


Day 22 : Hampi

A free day to walk, cycle, take auto-rickshaws or get around with your driver- however you do it, you’re sure to be in awe of the vastness and scale of Hampi. This was the richest city in Asia around 400 years ago, and while the streets of gem-sellers are now long gone, the size and opulence of the buildings gives some idea of how wealthy the Vijayawada kingdom once was. Overnight in Hospet/Anegundi


Day 23 : Hospet - Badami

After breakfast drive to Badami, and area rich with Hindu and Jain cave temples carved out of sandstone hills. The carved temples date back to the 6th century. The hilltop fort encloses large granaries, treasury and a watch tower. The Malegitti Shivalaya temple set on the summit of a hill is built of stones without mortar. Overnight in Badami


Day 24 : Badami - Pattadakal - Aihole - Badami

Full day excursion to Pattadakal and Aihole to visit the great temple sites there. Pattadakal is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a cluster of 10 major temples, each displaying interesting architectural features. Aihole has about 125 temples divided into 22 groups scattered all over the villages and the nearby fields. Tour both places with a local guide and learn more about this unique area. Overnight stay at Badami


Day 25 : Badami - Goa

This is another day-long drive but again with plenty of breaks along the way. On arrival in Goa, check-in at your accommodation and relax with a walk on one of Goa’s lovely beaches. Overnight in Goa.


Day 26 : Goa

As you tour nears its end, you can see the sights of Goa, or just enjoy a day on the beach. Overnight in Goa


Day 27 : Goa – Depart

Transfer to Goa airport and fly to your international hub airport with departure from India in the evening.

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