South India in Depth

from $2730
Duration:
17 Days / 16 Nights
Type:
Private Tour
Run:
Everyday

The southern states of India offer a rich heritage ethnically and culturally distinct from that of northern India. Palm-fringed seashores, fertile rice fields, upland tropical forests, intricately carved temples and calm ocean lagoons complete the picture. A night houseboat journey along the picturesque backwaters of Kerala, the best in Indian temple art at Mahabalipuram, and the spectacular Maharaja's Palace in Mysore are just some of the highlights of our this trip.

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Day 1: Bangalore Arrival

Arrive Bangalore officially known as Bengaluru is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. The center of India high-tech industry, the city is also known for its parks and nightlife. Upon arrival at Bangalore airport, our representative would receive you and escort you to hotel. Rest of time at leisure.

Overnight stay.

Day 2: Welcome Hassan

This morning we depart by road for Hassan. En route we stop at Shravanabelagola, the famous Jain pilgrimage center and one of the oldest in India. The collosal statue of Gomateswara (57 feet) is situated on the summit of Indragiri hill from which we can enjoy expansive views. After our visit we drive further to reach our hotel in Hassan.


Overnight in Hassan.

Day 3: Hoysala Village Resort, Hassan

Today we have a day-trip to Belur and Halebid. Belur and Halebid were both capitals of the medieval Hoysala kings who built the exquisitely carved temples in the 12th and 13th centuries. Then return to Hassan.


Overnight in Hassan.

Day 4: Mysore Tour

Today we travel by road to Mysore. Our sightseeing of this princely town will include the famous Palace of Mysore, once the residence of Wodeyar kings and one of the largest of its kind in India. We will visit the Jayachamsrajendra Art Gallery housed in the Jaganmohan palace. This gallery has a collection of exquisite paintings dating back to 1875 and then we drive to Chamumdi Hill Temple at a height of 1062 m (3,500 ft). The 2,000-year-old temple is dedicated to Goddess Chamundi. A seven storey, 40 m (130 ft) high tower, dominates the temple. A view of the entire city from this hilltop is impressive.


Overnight in Mysore.

Day 5: Bandipur National Park

After breakfast we drive to Mudumalai, via a tour of Srirangapatna, one of the most important Vaishnavite centers of pilgrimage in south India, built by the Chieftain Thirumalaiah in 894 AD. We continiue to Mudumalai, one of South India's largest wildlife reserves. On arrival we check in to our hotel. This evening we view the Elephant Worship (Pooja) ceremony.


Overnight in Mudumamai.

Day 6: Continuing Bandipur National Park

Mudumalai Wildlife Reserve was the first sanctuary in South India. It has various hills, valleys, watercourses, ravines, and swamps. The vegetation consists of tropical moist deciduous forests, dry deciduous forests and scrub forests. There are wild elephant, gaur, deer and primates, like the bonnet macaque and langurs. The predators include the tiger, leopard and the dhole -- the Asiatic wild dog, which hunts in packs. In the cool of the dense forests, among the stands of teak and bamboo thickets, are colourful birds hornbills, the great black woodpecker with its dramatic red-crested mynahs, barbets and parakeets. The tiny eared owl, the scops owl and the little scops owl are more heard than seen. In the morning we have a jeep safari in the forests of Mudumalai. You can enjoy elephant ride to areas inaccessible by vehicles (if available).


Overnight at Mudumalai.

Day 7: Welcome Coimbatore

Today we travel to Ooty where we visit the Botanical Gardens. After a lunch break we catch the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a steam train to Mettupalayam (1500 hrs to +/- 1800 hrs). Moving at a pace little faster than walking, the journey takes a while, but is more than compensated by stunning views.

Overnight in Coimbatore.

Note: Train operation is occasionally curtailed due to heavy rains or landslides.

Day 8: Kochi Arrival

Today we travel by road to Kochi (Cochin). This evening we attend the famous dance drama of Kerala, the "Kathakali". This dance is featured by grotesque gesticulations, amazing costumes and very extensive make-up. The stories are mostly taken from the epics Mahabharatha and Ramayana.


Overnight in Kochi.

Day 9: Proceeding Kochi

Today we have a tour of Kochi, including:

Chinese fishing Nets: A legacy of one of the earliest visitor to the Malabar Coast, these nets are unmistakable as one enters the harbour. The best place to watch is from Vasco Da Gama square, a narrow promenade that parallels the beach with little stalls that serve fresh seafood, tender coconuts and so on.

Santa Cruz Basilica: The church was built by the Portuguese and was elevated to a Cathedral by the Pope Paul IV in 1558.

Mattancherry: is the Paradesi Synagogue (also referred to as the Cochin Jewish Synagogue or the Mattancherry Synagogue), built in 1568 AD by the prosperous Jewish trading community whose links with Kerala begin in Kodungallor (Cranganore) in the north of the state. This is the oldest synagogue in India and the oldest in the Commonwealth of Nations.


Overnight in Kochi.

Day 10: Welcome Alappuzha

Today we drive to Alappuzha (Alleppey), known as the Venice of the East situated on the Vembanad Lake, the longest lake in India.

Today we board our houseboat for a very special Kerala delight, a slow boat cruise through its forests and palm-shaded canals. We take a leisurely cruise on the beautiful backwaters, enjoying the pleasant scenery along the waterways and stopping to admire what history and religion have left along the way. Our trip goes through a wonderful area full of palm trees and rice fields, and we stop along the way, walk through some villages and observe local life close up.


The Houseboat will be approx 60 feet long and 13 feet wide in the middle. There are two bedrooms on each boat with one bathroom with shower; comfortable beds, and traditional lanterns. There will be a sundeck for daytime relaxation. The boats are made of local natural fibres that truly echo the villagers harmony with the natural surroundings. We will enjoy the magnificent scenery along the waterways and stop to view working villages and witness locals fishing, swimming, crafting, and bathing. The houseboats have air-conditioning, but most travellers do not care for the all-night gasoline engine noise required to run the units. Most people find the peace and quiet, and comfort provided by a fan, are preferred.

Overnight houseboat cruise.


Note: Single cabins are NOT available on the houseboat. Single supplements reflect sharing for these nights.

Day 11: Thekkady Arrival

Today we disembark our boat and travel by road to a lower lying part of the mountain range where tropical rainforest still holds its own in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (travel time +/- 6 hours). En route we can visit a plantation. On arrival we check in to our hotel.


Overnight in Periyar.

Day 12: Madurai Tour

This morning we board a boat for a tour of the park. With luck, there are many animals to see, including herds of elephants, bison and packs of wild boar that roam through the woods and parade along the shores of the lake just before sunrise and sunset. You can also see different species of apes. Other animals often observed are otters and porcupines, while turtles can often be seen sunning themselves on the pieces of wood that stick out of the water. This afternoon we have a guided forest walk in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. This 3 hour walk gives you an opportunity to see the wild life at a very closer distance. You can have a (slim) chance to spot a leopard or tiger. We then return to the hotel for refreshment and check out before driving to Madurai.

Overnight in Madurai.

Day 13: Continuing Madurai

Today we have a tour of Madurai, visiting the Sri Meenakshi Temple where thousands of priests and worshippers come daily. People are blessed by the temple elephant and astrologists read the stars and hands. You can also get your fortune read by parrots picking tarot cards out of a pile. All the believers bathe themselves in the temple baths. In the evening sermons are held within the walls of the temple and concerts are often given in honour of the gods.


Optional: Later you might choose to participate in a local rickshaw tour. Over the years the local rickshaw wallas have been trained to show clients the town of Madurai in their cycle rickshaws to earn a living. This tour takes you to the local oil mill run with cattle, the local vessel merchants and many interesting sites.

Overnight in Madurai.

Day 14: Puducherry Arrival

We depart the hotel early this morning and transfer to the railway station and board the train to Villupuram. On arrival in Villupuram we drive to Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry). On arrival we check in to our hotel.

Overnight in Puducherry.

Day 15: Proceeding Puducherry

Puducherry is a well-planned and well-built town. After breakfast, proceed for Pondicherry sightseeing. Followers founded temples, Ayurvedic clinics and a number of other businesses. Pondicherry still features French street names, croissants and policemen in French-style uniforms.

Overnight in Puducherry.

Day 16: Mahabalipuram Tour

Today we travel by road to Mamallapuram. Upon arrival and check we have a guided tour of this important site, including Arjuna Penance (Bass Relief), and the monuments of Krishna Butterball, Lion's throne, Five rathas (symbolising equality of men and women), ending with at the famous Shore Temple.

Overnight in Mamallapuram.

Day 17: Final Departure

Today we transfer to Chennai and embark on a city tour.

After breakfast, embark upon a colonial tour of Chennai, located in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Chennai is a comparatively modern creation. Our city sightseeing of Chennai includes a visit to the National Art Gallery and Museum which has a selection of ancient paintings from almost all schools of art, as well as a section entirely devoted to modern art. We will visit Fort St George, once a stronghold of the British; St Mary's Church, the oldest Anglican church in India; the San Thome Cathedral where the remains of St Thomas the Apostle are believed to have been buried; the Mylapore Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and the Light House which is the only one of its kind in the world to be located on top of a High Court. We drive along the Marina, the thirteen kilometre-long beach which, with its shining white sands, aqua blue sea and violet lights at night, is the pride of Chennai.

Accommodation :

Golden Accommodation

 

Royal Orchid Central / Bangalore

The Ashok Hassan / Hassan

Sandesh the Prince / Mysore

The Windflower Tusker Trails Bandipur / Bandipur National Park

Vivanta By Taj Surya / Coimbatore

Fort Cochin / Kochi

Alleppey Deluxe Houseboat / Alappuzha

Poetree Sarovar Portico / Thekkady

Fortune Pandiyan / Madurai

Shenbaga Hotel & Convention Centre / Puducherry

Ideal Beach Resort / Mahabalipuram

April-Sep
$ 2730 Per Person in Double Room
$ 4710 One Person travelling alone
Oct-Mar
$ 3000 Per Person in Double Room
$ 5335 One Person travelling alone

Diamond Accommodation

 

The Chancery Pavilion Hotel / Bangalore

Hoysala Village Resort / Hassan

Royal Orchid Metropole / Mysore

The Windflower Tusker Trails Bandipur / Bandipur National Park

Vivanta By Taj Surya / Coimbatore

CGH Eighth Bastion Hotel / Kochi

Alleppey Deluxe Houseboat / Alappuzha

Spice Village / Thekkady

Heritage Madurai / Madurai

Le Pondy Resort / Puducherry

Radisson Temple Bay / Mahabalipuram

April-Sep
$ 3035 Per Person in Double Room
$ 5300 One Person Travelling Alone
Oct-Mar
$ 3585 Per Person in Double Room
$ 6270 One Person Travelling Alone
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