Exotic Tamilnadu And Kerala Tour
India’s two southernmost states are a study in contrasts- geographically, culturally, historically they are very different, and the cuisines of the two states are quite unalike as well.
But the people are universally friendly and welcoming and you’ll be assure of the warmest of hospitality during your time in South India. This tour is a mixture of ancient sites, scenic wonders and the contrasts between old and new India.....
Day 1 - Chennai Arrival - Mahabalipuram
You’ll be met on arrival at Chennai airport and introduced to your driver. Depart right away and drive 90 minutes or so down the coast to Mahabalipuram. Overnight in Mahabalipuram.
Day 2 - Kanchipuram excursion
Day trip to the important temple and pilgrimage city of Kanchipuram with sightseeing and a visit to one of the many famous silk-weaving centres here. Time later in the day back in Mahabalipuram will give you an opportunity to wander around and see some of the many unique rock-cut carvings and temples here. Overnight in Mahabalipuram
Day 3 - Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry
A short drive down the coast to Pondicherry, a former French enclave and a town quite different to any other in south India. The long beach front promenade could, save for the giant Gandhi statue in the middle, be straight out of southern Europe. The designer boutiques, and the excellent patisseries and cafes are unlike anything in this part of the country too. The ‘French Quarter’ lies just behind the promenade and its ‘rues’ and boulevards are leafy and quiet - the perfect place for an afternoon stroll. There is a lot more in Pondicherry than shops and coffee though- it is the nearest town to Auroville, a unique international society of several thousand people from around the world whose goal is to create a totally sustainable and spiritually oriented society. There is also more than a touch of Hinduism present in Pondicherry and the first of several temple elephants you will encounter in your travels is found here. Overnight in Pondicherry.
Day 4 - Pondicherry - Chidambaram - Gangakondacholapuram - Kumbakonam
Today you will enter the ‘temple heartland’ of Tamil Nadu with stops at Chidambaram, one of the main pilgrimage sites in India, a bustling temple, privately run and dedicated to the dancing Shiva, Nataraja, and later at Gangakondacholapuram which is one of the finest examples of Chola temple architecture. A somewhat remote spot now, the temple has been under UNESCO management since the early 2000s and is now surrounded by gardens and lawns. A very picturesque spot and a stunning temple. Continue on to reach your next stop late in the afternoon. Overnight in Kumbakonam.
Day 5 - Tanjore excursion
Kumbakonam is home to many wonderful temples, and at nearby Darasuram there is another which is under UNESCO protection. You’ll have a guide for the day to help you get the most out of your time around Kumbakonam and Tanjore. The biggest and most impressive of all the Chola-period temples is Brihadishwara in Tanjore which is over 1000 years old and is still a centre for both social interaction and worship for the local community. Overnight in Kumbakonam
Day 6 - Kumbakonam – Chettinad
Drive 2 hours or so down into the Chettinad region. This area is famed for its vast and impressive mansions, built by the Chettiar merchant community from the late-19th to mid-20th centuries. The region retains a very traditional feel, and this combination of opulence and humility, with a range of excellent heritage accommodation options, makes this a singularly unique spot in which to spend some time. You can explore and foot around the many small towns and villages, visit local temples and cottage industries or shop for antiques in the district headquarters of Karaikudi. Overnight in Chettinad.
Day 7 - Chettinad- Madurai
Depart Chettinad for the short drive down to Madurai. There are several important sights here- the Gandhi Museum is highly recommended- but nothing compares to Meenakshi temple for scale, spiritual importance and ‘wow-factor’. Tour the main sights in the afternoon, then head out on our very own ‘food safari’ in the early evening to sample some of Madurai’s best street food and local restaurants. This is a great chance to learn about Tamil cuisine and enjoy some of the unique dishes with local experts. Overnight in Madurai
Day 8 - Madurai - Periyar
An early start this morning for our Vanakkam Madurai walking tour, which is a great way to see the city as it’s waking up in the time around dawn. You’ll met locals, have traditions explained and experience the city in a way which is just not possible when traffic is everywhere. Depart Madurai after breakfast and drive 4 hours up into the hills to the town of Thekkady, on the fringes of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Afternoon options include a forest hike or an informative walk around a spice plantation. Overnight in Periyar
Day 9 - Periyar - Munnar
Take an early morning boat ride on Periyar Lake, and later drive to Munnar. While Thekkady is largely surrounded by thick forest, Munnar has much more open country around it, with tea plantations carpeting the hills and creating spectacular vistas. Check in to your accommodation on arrival and relax, with options for walking all around if you wish to take in the clean mountain air. Overnight in Munnar
Day 10 - Munnar
There are plenty of options for your full day in Munnar with everything from a visit to the tea museum to hiking, a trip to the Eravikulam National Park to see the rare Nilgiri Tahr, or just a leisurely scenic drive are all among the possibilities. Overnight in Munnar
Day 11 - Munnar - Alleppey
Leisurely morning in around Munnar before departing for the 3-4 hour drive down the hills to Alleppey. This is the heart of the famous Kerala backwaters and (somewhat fancifully perhaps) dubbed the Venice of the East. Regardless of titles, the region around Alleppey is truly unique and the lifestyle of the people here is both bucolic and quite traditional. During your time around Alleppey you can explore on foot, by bicycle or on a variety of waterborne craft, to visit ancient temples, churches, paddy fields, and village. Watch toddy tapping (gathering of palm spirit from coconut trees), traditional fishing, duck-herding (really!) and just watch the world go by. Overnight near Alleppey
Day 12 - Alleppey
Continue to engage with the local lifestyle, and if you wish visit one of the nearby beaches or take a heritage walk in Alleppey. Overnight near Alleppey
Day 13 - Alleppey - Cochin
Head towards Cochin mid-morning- the drive takes around 2 hours. After lunch, head out on a sightseeing tour around historic Fort Cochin taking in the synagogue, Dutch Palace, St. Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica, and the Chinese fishing nets. In the evening you can opt to watch a theatrical performance of Kathakali dance, a traditional Keralan art form, or head out into the markets for some last-minute shopping. Overnight in Fort Cochin
Day 14 - Cochin- Depart
Transfer to Cochin airport and head to your next destination or depart for home