From Tamil Nadu to Kerala
From 1102 $ per person
Visit South India on this mammoth journey. We start off by exploring Tamil Nadu, where the focus will be on culture, visiting temples (such as the famed Meenakshi Temple) and Indian bazaars. We will also have the opportunity to explore Pondicherry, the former French trading post of the East Indies, with its old world charm as well as the fishing villages and magnificent beaches of Mahabalipuram.
We then move on to god’s own destination of Kerala. At the crossroads of myriad ancient maritime trading routes, Kerala boasts great cultural wealth. Egyptians, Phoenicians, Chinese, Arabs, Portuguese and Dutch have successively called in at its ports. Their influences are particularly noticeable in Kochi, a port built on the islands in the Arabian Sea which face the rugged coast of the continent.
But Kerala is not just about history. The immense variety of its natural scenery (mountainous jungle, tea farms, flooded paddy fields, coconut plantation, spice gardens, rugged Malabar coast), its extremely rich fauna and flora, and its hospitable inhabitants all combine to make this one of the most appealing parts of India.
After exploring Periyar National Park, we take a well deserved rest, first on the backwaters, where the charm and comfort of the houseboats and the natural beauty of the area, with its canals, lakes and lagoons make for a perfect combination, and then on the superb beach at Marari.
To culminate this wonderful tour in South India, we end up in Kochi (Cochin), a captivating port with a rich past which symbolises to perfection the eclecticism of Kerala. Design your tailor made tour of South India with Shanti Travel and live out your dream holiday!
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Day 1 : Chennai (Madras) - Mahabalipuram [60 km - 1 ½ hours by road]
Arrive Chennai, usually during the night. Drive to Mahabalipuram. Check into and spend night in hotel.
Day 2 : Mahabalipuram-Pondicherry [100 km - 2 hours by road]
En route see the relief carving depicting the descent of the Ganges and the magnificent temples on the edge of the sea. Opportunity to swim. Set off for the former French trading post of Pondicherry. Check into and spend night in hotel.
Day 3 :Pondicherry
Visit this town where the French influence is still apparent in its architecture, especially on the seafront and the French Quarter. Overnight in hotel.
Day 4: Pondicherry - Thanjavur [210 km - 5-6 hours by road]
Morning departure for Thanjavur. En route visit Chidambaram and the superb temple of Nataraja , one of the best examples of Dravidian architecture. Overnight in hotel in Thanjavur.
Day 5 : Thanjavur - Madurai [180 km - 5-6 hours by road]
Morning visit of the temple of Brihadishwara, a masterpiece of Chola temple architecture, and the Palace. Depart for Trichy, with its two extraordinary temples. Visit Rock Fort temple and Srirangam Temple. Moving south we come to the great holy city of Madurai in the early evening. Overnight in hotel.
Day 6 : Madurai
Madurai is the cultural capital of the Tamul region and an important site in Hinduism. It is one of the oldest cities of southern India and also one of its holiest, as can be seen from the impressive number of devotees and sadhus. We shall visit the vast holy complex of Meenakshi, one of the most animated temples in Southern India as well as the palace of the Nayaks and the market, with its labyrinth of bustling lanes. Overnight in hotel.
Day 7 :Madurai - Kodaikanal (Elephant valley) [130 km -2-3 hours by road]
We enter the mountainous region of the Western Ghats, driving until we reach a wild area, straight out of Paradise, called ’Elephant Valley’ with an eco-lodge surrounded by jungle, coffee plantations,waterfalls, traditional villages and wild animals, including elephants. Check into eco-lodge. In the afternoon the eco-lodge offers a range of activities (to be arranged at the time with the hotel): walk through coffee plantations, hike to the waterfalls, horse riding, yoga and meditation. Night in eco-lodge
Day 8 :Kodaikanal (Elephant valley) - Periyar [120 km - 3-4 hours by road]
We follow small winding mountain roads through beautiful lush countryside to the Periyar National Park, on the border between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Check into hotel. Afternoon exploration of Periyar reserve. A range of activities are possible: boat trips on the lake, elephant rides through the spice plantations, jeep tours or hiking in the jungle. Bamboo rafting is available for the more adventurous or you can also relax with an ayurvedic massage in the hotel (not included in the price, to be arranged at the time with the hotel). Overnight in hotel.
Day 9 : Periyar - "Backwaters" [140 km - 4 hours by road]
We leave for Palai with its paddy fields stretching to the horizon, endless coconut palms, tiny peaceful villages and its magnificent canals and lagoons, the backwaters. Check into the hotel on the edge of superb Lake Vembanad. Afternoon to relax and/or explore Palai. Overnight in hotel.
Day 10 : Houseboat on the "Backwaters"
After a warm welcome on board by the crew, composed of captain, cook and cabin boy we set out on a traditional houseboat We explore the canals, lagoons and Lake Vembanad, enjoying the serenity of these peaceful waters. Imagine yourself in a tropical Venice, where water takes the place of roads. Boats are constantly coming and going, propelled by the boatmen who push off from the bottom with long bamboo poles. On the banks you will see old houses made of teak, mahogany and rosewood and villages bright with hibiscus and bougainvillea as well as shimmering paddy fields and endless coconut palms. Meal and night afloat (double bedroom with bathroom). Full board.
Day 11: "Backwaters" - Malabar Coast : Marari beach [30km - 1 hour by road]
Land at Allepey at the end of the morning. Drive to one of the most beautiful beaches on the Malabar coast. Check into hotel. Relax, swim and meet the many fishermen with their flimsy craft. Overnight in hotel.
Day 12: Marari Beach - Kochi [60km - 1 hour by road]
Travel to Fort Kochi and check into hotel. Visit the town which is an unlikey blend of medieval Portugal, the Netherlands and an English country village, with the tropical Malabar coast as a backdrop. Discover the oldest church in the country, winding streets lined with mosques and old Portuguese houses dating back 500 years, Chinese fishing nets, a sixteenth century synagogue and a palace built by the Portuguese.This is also the ideal place to see a Kathakali show. Overnight in hotel.
Day 13: Kochi - airport
Airport transfer depending on your flight time. Shanti travel says ’au revoir’.