Best of South India - 16 Nights In-depth Cultural

kerala and south india

Start in Mumbai and end in Chennai (Madras)! With the in-depth cultural tour Best of South India, you have a 16 day tour package taking you through Mumbai, India and 12 other destinations in India. Best of South India includes accommodation in a hotel as well as flights, an expert guide, meals, transport and more.

Itinerary

  • Arrive Mumbai

    Namaste ? Welcome to India! Upon arrival, we are greeted the traditional Indian way with hands clapped together. We are then transferred to our hotel and have the balance of the day free to relax or enjoy vibrant Mumbai, India?s largest city and commercial centre. Overnight: Vivanta By Taj President / Trident Nariman Point , Mumbai (2 nights)

  • Mumbai

    We start our day with a visit to the Gateway of India, Mumbais most famous monument. Here we embark on an excursion to the Elephanta Caves*, located on an island in the Sea of Oman. The caves contain a stunning collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva, with huge reliefs adorning the main cavern. We return to Mumbai by motor launch and explore the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai*, visiting the Prince of Wales Museum. Next we explore Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus*, an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture. This building became the symbol of Bombay as the ?Gothic City?, with its remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches and eccentric ground plan. Our next stop is Mani Bhawan museum, where Mahatma Gandhi stayed during the Freedom Struggle. From here we enjoy the Hanging Gardens, the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence and bustling Crawford Market. We end our tour at the Dhobi Ghat, the worlds largest outdoor laundry. (B, D)

  • Mumbai/Kochi (Flight)

    Today we are transferred to the airport for our flight to Kochi, formerly known as Cochin. On arrival, we are transferred to our hotel, with the rest of the day free to sample the cultural delights of this bustling city. Overnight: Trident Hotel, Kochi (2 nights) (B, D)

  • Kochi

    Kochi, formerly known as Cochin, is Kerala?s commercial capital and is home to one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Today we explore this waterfront gem, starting with a visit to St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India. The remains of Vasco De Gama, the first European to find India by sea, were buried here before being taken back to Portugal. Next we visit the Roman Catholic Santa Cruz Cathedral, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. We continue to the Jewish Quarter with its Old Synagogue and the Dutch Palace, also built by the Portuguese. Later we take a boat cruise to visit Bolghatty Palace and observe one of the most photographed highlights of Kerala: the massive traditional Chinese fishing nets. In the evening, we enjoy a vibrant Kathakali dance performance. This dramatized presentation of a play usually based on the Hindu epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas, is a unique combination of literature, music, painting, acting and dance. (B, D)

  • Kochi/Thekkady (Drive)

    In and around ThekkadyJourney on to Thekkady, where we check in to our hotel. The area is famous for its colourful and fragrant spice plantations. In the afternoon, we will visit the breathtaking fields where cardamom, pepper, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, all spice, and tea are grown. We will also see traditional Ayurvedic medicinal plants and have the unique opportunity to buy garden-fresh spices. In the evening, we return to our hotel for dinner. Overnight: Poetree Sarovar Portico, Thekkady (2 nights) (B, D)

  • Thekkady

    Our day starts with a jungle walk at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in the early morning. Home to India?s rare Bengal tigers, this sanctuary is one of the world?s most fascinating natural wildlife reserves. After a jungle walk to spy elephants and unique lion-tailed macaques, we return to our hotel for breakfast. In the afternoon, we enjoy a boat ride on Lake Periyar, watching animals in their natural habitat by the waters edge. Boars, sambar deer, wild dogs, langur monkeys and elephants are all part of the amazing game viewing here. The sanctuary is also a haven for water birds and we can see plenty of darters, grey herons, egrets and kingfishers. Our evening is free to explore the local bazaar in Thekkady and purchase some of the famous spices grown in this area. (B, D)

  • Thekkady/Alleppey (Drive)

    In and around AlleppeyWe continue our exploration of South India as we drive to Alleppey. Here we board our traditional houseboat and embark on a journey through the picturesque backwaters of Kerala, relaxing in tranquility as we take in the stunning scenery. Along the way, we see verdant vegetation, glassy lakes, and locals going about their traditional way of life. Overnight: Deluxe Air-Conditioned Houseboat (1 night) (B, L, D)

  • Alleppey/Kovalam (Drive)

    In and around KovalamWe enjoy breakfast on board, sail to Alleppey and disembark at the Puthenagady Jetty. A comfortable drive gets us to beautiful Kovalam Beach on the Malabar Coast near Trivandrum. The perfect opportunity to relax on the beach today and soak up Kovalam?s world-famous sun and sands. Sit back, relax and drink in the area?s endless white sands, calming blue waters and secluded coconut groves. Overnight: Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort, Kovalam (2 nights) (B, D)

  • Kovalam

    A unique chance to relax as we enjoy a soothing one-hour rejuvenation massage. The rest of our day is free to sample Kovalam?s pristine sands and jewel-toned waters. (B, D)

  • Kovalam/Kanyakumari/Madurai (Drive)

    After breakfast, leave for Madurai. En route, visit Kanyakumari, the Lands? End" of India. Kanyakumari is the southernmost tip of peninsular India, where the waters of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea meet. We visit the Temple of Goddess Kumari, the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in the sea where Swami Vivekananda meditated. After lunch, we continue our journey to Madurai. On arrival, we check in to our hotel. Overnight: Heritage Madurai, Madurai (2 nights) (B, L, D)

  • Madurai

    Today we explore Madurai, the second largest city in Tamil Nadu. At the heart of this 2,500-year-old city is Meenakshi Amman Temple, a Dravidian-style complex that includes 14 gopurams (gateway towers) and two shining golden shrines. Each aspect of the temple is intricately carved, and the entire complex boasts an estimated 33,000 sculptures. The temple is a significant symbol of the Tamil people, and though the current reconstruction was built in the 1600s, references to the temple can be found in Tamil literature that is thousands of years old. In the evening, we take in the enchanting night closing ceremony of the temple. (B, D)

  • Madurai/Tanjore (Drive)

    In and around TanjoreAfter breakfast, we drive to Thanjavur and check in at our hotel. Thanjavur is popularly known as Tanjore. ?In the afternoon, we explore the Brihadisvara Temple, one of the Great Living Chola Temples*. This stunning temple is more than 1000 years old and one of the largest in India. Set among its vibrant decorations are the names of dancers, musicians and poets, reminding us of the significant role the monument played in 11th century Indian art. We end our tour of Tanjore with a visit to the Tanjore Palace & Museum, which has an eclectic collection of regal memorabilia mostly dating from the early 19th century.? Overnight: Hotel Sangam, Tanjore (1 night) (B, D)

  • Thanjavur/Pondicherry (Drive)

    In and around ThanjavurAfter breakfast, we drive to Pondicherry. This former French Colonial city in Tamil Nadu didn?t come under Indian rule until 1954. Its main attraction, the ashram at Auroville, is actually outside of town. This colony is an experiment in human unity and hosts people from more than 50 nationalities in its cash-free settlement. In Auroville?s International Town, we will visit the Matrimandir, a famous monument representing a lotus flower that took almost 40 years to build, only being completed in 2008. We will also explore the 400-year old Manakula Vinayagar Temple, which has several frescos telling the life story of a half human and half animal lord. Overnight: The Promenade, Pondicherry (1 night) (B, D)

  • Pondicherry/Mahabalipuram/Chennai (Drive)

    An exciting visit today to Mahabalipuram*. Carved out of the coast in the 7th and 8th centuries, this group of ancient archaeological wonders is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is known for its stunning rathas, temples in the form of chariots, and mandapas, intricately decorated cave sanctuaries. A highlight is Rivage temple, which contains thousands of sculptures celebrating Shiva. ?After that, we continue our journey to Chennai. We check in to our hotel upon arrival with the rest of the day free. Overnight: Hyatt Regency Chennai, Pondicherry (2 nights) (B, D)

  • Chennai

    We tour Chennai, visiting the National Art Gallery & Museum, which contains some of the best collections of bronzes in the country, including the famous icon of Natraja. We continue to Indias oldest surviving British church, St. Marys Church, built in 1680. Topping off our tour is a visit to People?s Park, the beautiful Marina Beach and the clock towers. (B, D)

  • Depart Chennai

    Today, enjoy the vibrant artistic and cultural traditions of Chennai. Sample some of the city?s top museums and temples, wander through the chaotic streets or savour authentic South Indian cuisine. Hotel check out time is 12:00 noon. In the evening, we enjoy our farewell dinner at a well-known local restaurant. After an incredible tour of the Best of South India, we are transferred to the international terminal for our flight home. We bid farewell to India after what will have been a memorable journey into history, culture, art and architecture, having made new friends and lots of memories. Or extend our adventure with tours to other regions of incredible India. (B, D)? NOTES ?? Baggage allowance in internal flights with in India is 15 Kg per person ? Unless specified, check-in at hotels in India is at 14:00 Hrs and check out is at 12:00 Hrs

Inclusion

  • GST on total package
  • Accomodation in a well appointed room
  • Meals as per hotel plan and ones mentioned in itinerary
  • All transfers and sightseeing as per the itinerary in an air-conditioned vehicle (except in the hills when the air-conditioner will be switched off)
  • All toll taxes, parking fees and driver allowances
  • All applicable hotel taxes

Exclusion

  • Anything not mentioned under ‘Package Inclusions??:tm:
  • All personal expenses, optional tours and extra meals
  • Camera fees, alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages
  • Vehicle service on leisure days for sightseeing not included in the itinerary
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Tips, laundry and phone calls

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