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10-Day Wonders of Southern India

10-Day Wonders of Southern India

10 days

10-Day Wonders of Southern India
from $1395 USD

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No traveler can journey the whole of India and not feel the palpable difference between the North and the South. The dominant features of South India are its tropical climate with lush-green tropical vegetation in the coastal areas, as well as its architecture, cuisine, culture, languages and lifestyle. Despite repeated exposure to foreign influences, these elements have, at their core, remained essentially true to their roots.

On this Southern sojourn, traveling through Tamil Nadu & Kerala, experience the unique and breathtaking architecture, sculpture, and ancient culture and legacy left by the Pallava, Chola, and Pandya dynasties. See how India absorbed the influences of so many waves of colonizers and yet remained distinctly and proudly Indian.

Start this private tour any day, however, the best time of year to visit southern India is between October and March.


Day 1: Arrive Chennai

Welcome to India!  Arrive in Chennai.  On arrival, you will be met and assisted by our office representative to the hotel (rooms will be available starting at 2:00 pm.)

Meals included: n/a
Mid-Range Accommodations: Fortune Select Palms

Day 2: Travel Chennai to Mahabalipuram

After breakfast, we will visit the local Hindu temple, which has a constant stream of devotees. Later in the morning, we will drive to Mahabalipuram (approximately 2 hours), getting a glimpse of the Bay of Bengal as we drive through. On arrival, you will check-in to the hotel.

In the afternoon, we will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site temples at Mahabalipuram. Mahabalipuram, famous for its shore temples, is a welcoming old port city. From the 8th to the 11th century, the Pallava dynasty conducted a thriving maritime trade here with the Far East. The magnificent Shore Temple, although ravaged by the elements and the pounding ocean waves, still reflects the glorious past of these intrepid merchants. We will also visit the Arjuna’s Penance bas-relief and the Ratha monument complex.

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Ideal Beach Resort

Day 3: Travel Mahabalipuram-Kancheepuram-Mahabalipuram

After breakfast, we will journey to Kancheepuram, where you will see the devotees in a huge living temple. Kancheepuram, the city of thousand temples, is one of the seven most sacred pilgrim centers for the Hindus. The city was the capital of the early Cholas as far back as the 2nd century BC and a Pallava capital between the 6th and 8th century. The Ekambareswarar Temple here is spread over 20 acres and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Apart from temples, this small town is also known for its thriving handloom industry. The silk weavers of Kanchi settled more than 400 years ago and have given the town an enviable reputation as the producer of the best silk saris in the country. We will explore the homes of local weavers and photograph them as they work their trade. Afterwards, we will return to Mahabalipuram.

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Ideal Beach Resort

Day 4: Travel Mahabalipuram-Chennai-Madurai

After breakfast, we will transfer you to Chennai airport where you will board the flight for Madurai. On arrival, you will check-in at the hotel.

In the evening, we will view the magnificent gopurams of Meenakshi temple and also witness the temple ceremony of pattabishekam (coronation) of Goddess Meenakshi and also the wedding ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi with Lord Sundareswarar. We will then return to the hotel for your overnight stay.

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Fortune Pandiyan

Day 5: Explore Madurai

Today, we will visit Madurai. Madurai, built on the banks of the Vaigai River, is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu and was once the capital of the Pandya dynasty (7th to 13th century AD). Known as the Temple City and as one of India's most sacred pilgrimage centres, Madurai was laid out in accordance with an ancient temple custom whereby the Great Temple dedicated to the goddess Meenakshi was placed at its centre. Considered to be the finest of its kind in Tamil Nadu, this Great Temple's towering gopurams are covered in a riot of gaily painted, dancing, and cavorting gods and goddesses. If you would like, you can make both a morning and an evening visit to experience the pujas, processions, music, and singing in the Meenakshi Temple's numerous pillared halls.

In the afternoon, we will visit the Tirumalai Palace, the Mariamman Teppakkulam, and the Temple Art Museum. Afterwards, you will be free to wander around the local market of Madurai.

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Fortune Pandiyan

Day 6: Travel Madurai to Periyar

After breakfast, we will drive to Periyar National Park. On arrival, you will check-in to the hotel. Then, we will visit the park, a unique wildlife sanctuary centered around an artificial lake fed by the Periyar River.

In the afternoon, we will visit a spice plantation in Kerala, the capital of the spice trade, to see how different varieties of spices grow together. Later in the afternoon, we will go game viewing by boat on the Periyar Lake.

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Poetree Sarovar Portico

Day 7: Travel to Kerala's backwaters

After breakfast, we will drive to the Alleppey Jetty, where you will board a traditional boat to cruise the backwaters of Kerala. You will have a private, air-conditioned room with attached toilet (air-conditioning works from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am). The boat has a common sitting and dining area. The cook will prepare local delicacies procured while you are doing a short walk.

The romantic and unique backwaters of Kerala are made up of a labyrinth of canals and lakes that stretch between the capital Cochin and Quilon in the south. From the vastness of Lake Vembanad to the quiet streams just large enough for a canoe, the backwaters form the arteries through which rural daily life calmly flows - children splashing in the water, women washing clothes at the water's edge, fishermen up to their necks in water digging out fish with their feet, rice barges transporting coconuts and rice (the staples of the Keralan diet), and, above all, an overriding sense of peace and tranquility that permeates every aspect of this stunning region. We will experience the village life from the boat as well as get a chance to get off and visit local villages.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Deluxe Houseboat

Day 8: Kerala backwaters to Cochin

After a short cruise in the backwaters, you will de-board the houseboat at the Jetty and we will drive you to Cochin. On arrival, you will check-in at the hotel. Late in the afternoon, we will visit the cultural center, where we will see the artists putting on their makeup, followed by a Kathakali performance in the theater.

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Spice Fort

Day 9: Explore Cochin

Cochin, documented since Roman times, is the oldest European settlement in India. With its enchanting Jewish quarter, picturesque Chinese fishing boats, Portuguese churches, Hindu temples, and bustling spice and antiques bazaars, Cochin has a seamless blend of diverse architectural and religious influences. This ancient port has now split into two main parts: the old town of Fort Cochin on the peninsula, with its winding alleyways lined with merchant houses and spice markets; and the brash, modern industrious city of Ernakulam on the mainland.

After breakfast, we will visit the Jewish synagogue (closed on Fridays and Saturdays), the Dutch Palace (closed on Fridays), Chinese fishing boats, and the Vasco da Gama Church. In the afternoon, you are free to walk around the fort area and experience its various art galleries, coffee shops, and designer boutiques.

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Spice Fort

Day 10: Depart Cochin

Today, we will transfer you to the airport in time for your international or domestic departure to Goa or elsewhere.

Meals included: Breakfast


10-Day Wonders of Southern India
from $1395 USD
*** Contact Us for other group sizes and lodging options! ***

NOTE: Prices are per person in U.S. dollars based on double/triple occupancy. All quotations are based on the current rates of park fees, VAT, other government taxes, and current exchange rates. Should any of these be increased or a new tax introduced, these increases will be added on even if your trip has already been paid for.

  • All accommodations per itinerary
  • All meals per itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All tours and entrance fees per itinerary (unless listed as excluded)
  • All transportation and transfers per itinerary
  • International and domestic flights
  • Meals not listed
  • Beverages and alcohol
  • Tips for guides, drivers, hotel staff
  • Optional tours
  • Single room supplement
  • Personal expenses (visas, airport taxes, Internet, etc.)

-- Optional single supplement ($650)

-- MAA/IXM flight (about US$115/person)

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