Discover spirit of South India: Explore magnificent temples
$2,106*PER PERSON – 11NIGHTS – AIR – TRANSFERS – HOTEL – BREAKFAST – TOURS
Explore magnificent temples, tour spice markets and bazaars, and get a taste of the local cuisine on this exciting 11-night adventure through southern India. Your travel and hotels are taken care of, so all you have to do is go along for the ride, and snap plenty of photos of course!
- Round-trip economy class airfare into Chennai (MAA), out of Cochin (COK)
- All airport and inter-city transfers
- 2 nights in Mahabalipuram at MGM Beach Resort, or similar
- Afternoon sightseeing tour of Mahabalipuram
- 1 night in Pondicherry at Hotel Atithi, or similar
- City tour of Pondicherry with Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville
- 2 nights in Tanjore at Sangam Hotel, or similar
- Sightseeing tour of Tanjore with Brihadeeswara Temple
- Tour to Trichy with Rock Fort and the Island of Srirangam
- 2 nights in Madurai at Poppys Hotel, or similar
- Sightseeing tour of Madurai
- Aarti Ceremony at temple in Madurai
- 2 nights in Periyar at Mountain Courtyard Hotel, or similar
- Sightseeing tour of Periyar with boat ride on the lake and visit to the spice plantation
- 1 night in Kumarakom at Abad Whispering Palm, or similar
- 1 night in Cochin at Casino Hotel, or similar
- Sightseeing tour of Cochin with Mattancherry with Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue, and St. Francis Church
- Kathkali dance show
- Breakfast daily
Great Ways to Explore
- Enjoy sightseeing tours lead by local experts through each region.
- Witness a traditional ceremony while visiting one of India’s most iconic temples.
- Make sure to pick up a souvenir while wandering through India’s many colorful and enchanting markets.
- From the savory Masala dosa to the subtle sweetness of banana curry, indulge in the flavors of India.
- Go out with a bang and enjoy a traditional Indian show on your last night, including actors, elaborate costumes, song, and dance.
Take an 11-night journey through the stunning south of India. Visit temples, traipse through wildlife sanctuaries, and enjoy stays in nine diverse regions.
Sit back and relax as all hotels, transfers, and tours are provided for you. Unique excursions through each new city lead by expert guides offer you the chance to see India in all its glory and get a genuine feeling for the spectacular country. Dig into local cuisine, follow the crowd through open air markets, step lightly in temples that reach for the heavens, and enjoy dancing and music performances.
ALL FOREIGN TRAVELERS TO INDIA REQUIRE AN ENTRY VISA PRIOR TO ARRIVAL IN INDIA. Government of India has launched VISA on arrival enabled with an ETA scheme for more than 100 countries. Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kingdom of Tongo, Laos, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Niue, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Papua & New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Kiribati, Republic of Korea (i.e. South Korea), Republic of Marshall Islands, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Palau, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vietnam and Vanuatu.
Any traveler with a passport from one of the above countries can apply for their VISA online. https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
TRAVELERS FROM COUNTRIES NOT LISTED ABOVE SHOULD CONTACT THEIR TRAVEL AGENT OR LOCAL VISA PROCESSING COMPANY FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON REQUIREMENTS AND PROCESSING TIMES.
Day 1. Welcome to Chennai!
Arrive in Chennai airport (MAA) where you’ll be met and transferred to your first hotel. Get ready to begin your South India adventure!
A Tip For Your Trip: The transfer from Chennai Airport to your Mahabalipuram hotel is approximately 2 hours. Please be mindful of this when selecting your flight schedule.
Transfer to Mahablipuram hotel
Day 2. Mahabalipuram
Today after breakfast, embark on an extensive sightseeing tour of Mahabalipuram.
Sightseeing tour of Mahabalipuram
Explore the highlights of Mahabalipuram during your sightseeing tour today! You’ll see the city’s most iconic structure, including the Arjuna’s Penance, also known as the Descent of the Ganga. This open-air rock relief is the world’s largest bas-relief, measuring at 764 feet by 288 feet. The legend depicted on these two monolithic rocks tells the story of the river Ganges to earth from the heavens. It is a beautiful composition of hundreds of celestial beings, human and animals all hurrying to a natural rock cleft that divides the giant stone.
You’ll also have the chance to see the city’s most famous landmark, the Shore Temple, which has stood by the sea for 12 centuries. Its twin spires are pure poetry in granite. Other highlights of this tour include the mandapams, caves scooped from a hillside of solid rock and ornamented with pillars, sculpted with panels and rathams (monolithic rock-cut shrines) that have inspired generations of South Indian temple-builders.
Day 3. Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry
This morning after breakfast, you’ll drive to Pondicherry, India’s former largest French colony, where you can still see remnants of its French influence today.
Unwind, then embark on your Pondicherry city tour! After the tour, explore the rest of the city at leisure; why not pop over to the city’s popular market and pick up a snack or souvenir?
Transfer to Pondicherry hotel
City tour of Pondicherry with Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville
Explore historic quarters, centers of solitude, and diverse living communities on this interesting city tour! Known as The French Riviera of the East, Pondicherry manages to retain evidence of its past as India’s largest French colony.
Learn more about the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville. The Ashra was founded by a revolutionist-turned-poet and his Parisian-born painter mother as a center for yoga, meditation, and inner development. Experience Auroville, a community like no other. Envisioned as a town where humans with varying nationalities, faiths, and beliefs living together in peace and harmony. Here you’ll find citizens from over 30 different countries living together to explore cultural, educational, scientific, and spiritual pursuits.
Don’t forget to stop by the Meditation Hall, home to the world’s biggest man-made crystal ball!
Day 4. Pondicherry – Tanjore
After breakfast, enjoy a drive over to your next destination: Tanjore. Unwind at your hotel, then head off on your special sightseeing tour!
Transfer to Tanjore hotel
Sightseeing Tour of Tanjore with Brihadeeswara Temple
Thanjavur, formerly Tanjore, is an important center of South Indian religion, art, and architecture. See some of its most famous icons on your sightseeing tour today. Pass by the famous for the Brihadeeswara Temple, with its massive towers, standing over 90 feet high and sculpted with breathtaking detail and intricacy.
The towers lead to a vast courtyard in which the main temple stands guarded by two sentries, carved out of single stones. Facing the sanctum is a nandi (bull), Shiva’s favorite vehicle. The corridors around the sanctum have many sculptures as well as Chola frescoes which were recently discovered.
The Palace and the remains of the fort that surround it can still be visited. Members of the former royal family of Thanjavur still occupy some apartments in the inner recesses but the Palace is now mainly used as an art gallery.
Day 5. Tanjore
After breakfast, it’s time for your day-trip to Trichy, including a visit to the Island of Srirangam!
Tour to Trichy with Rock Fort and the Island of Srirangam
Discover Trichy, a historical town former capital of the Chola rulers. You’ll visit the Rock Fort which dominates the landscape, standing at 300 high, which dominates the landscape. Climb to the top and enjoy sweepign views of the city below!
You’ll then pay a visit to the Island of Srirangam across the River Kaveri – 3 miles away. Explore the temple here, which is practically a town in itself with several residential streets within its 1 square mile.
Day 6. Tanjore – Madurai
Today you will head to Madurai, India’s ancient home of culture. Your sightseeing tour is tomorrow, so today you can spend the day exploring at leisure; perhaps you’d like to stop by the Gandhi Museum and Memorial, or head to a local market to find a souvenir or something to snack on.
Transfer to Madurai hotel
Day 7. Madurai
Today is your sightseeing tour of Madurai – make sure your camera is charged and ready to go!
In the evening, you’ll have the chance to witness the special Aarti Ceremony at the temple.
Sightseeing tour of Madurai
Explore Madurai and discover why it’s known as “the Temple City.” Although it served as the former capital of the Pandya Kingdom, it was during the reign of the Nayaks(10th-18th century)that the city’s most iconic structure was built:the magnificent Meenakshi Temple. Legend has it that if you place a literary work in the tank of this temple, it will determine if it is worthy or not; if it sinks it is worthless, if floats, worthy!
Get lost in the beauty of the temple during your sightseeing tour. Inside you’ll find beautiful sculptures of Shiva as well as the breathtaking Court of a Thousand Pillars. Be sure to stop at the temple’s Musical Pillars; tap them and hear the different musical notes they produce!
Aarti ceremony at a local temple
Often called the “ceremony of light,” Aarti is one of the most important and popular ceremonies of the Hindu faith. The prayerful ceremony involves waving lighted wicks before the sacred images to infuse the flames with the Deities’ love, energy and blessings. It is performed by sadhus (Hindu monks) and pujaris (attendants to the Deities).
Day 8. Madurai – Periyar
Today you head to Periyar park and sanctuary. On your way you’ll drive through Thekkady, which will enchant you as the road winds through tranquil countryside, rich plantations, and thick jungles.
Transfer to Periyar hotel
Day 9. Periyar
Another lovely day in South India. First breakfast, then enjoy your Periyar tour today, including a boat ride and visit to a spice plantation!
Sightseeing tour of Periyar
Your morning starts with a scenic boat ride on Lake Periyar, where you can observe the region’s wildlife and water birds! Perhaps you’ll encounter elephants bathing or a herd of bison nearby. You can spot the spotted and sambhar deer as well.
Later in the day you’ll enjoy an adventure for all the senses as you visit the spice plantation in in Thekkady, one of the major spice plantations in Kerala. The spice plantations in Kerala are captivating farms to wander in, since different spices are cultivated in different sections of each plantation.
Day 10. Periyar – Kumarakom
Breakfast starts early today! Enjoy your meal, then begin the drive to your next destination, which lies on the eastern shore of the Vembanad Lake bird sanctuary. This region is home to waterfowl, cuckoo, and wild duck.
Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure; why not treat yourself to an authentic South Indian meal? Unlike many areas of India, the region of Kerala is known for its abundance of meat and seafood, from chicken to king prawns!
Transfer to Kumarakom hotel
Day 11. Kumarakom – Cochin
Today after breakfast you will head to Cochin, a natural harbor built by the Portuguese with lagoons, canals, and fishing hamlets! Enjoy a sightseeing tour in this port city.
In the evening, enjoy a Kathakali dance show – an amazing way to spend your last night in South India!
Transfer to Cochin hotel
Sightseeing tour of Cochin
Your Cochin sightseeing adventure starts with a visit to the Mattancherry Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese in the year 1555 and renovated by the Dutch in 1663. In the ancient rooms are 17th century murals that relate in vibrant color the story of the epic Ramayana.
The next leg of your tour takes you to a Jewish Synagogue, followed by St. Francis Church, the oldest European Church in India. You’ll also see the Chinese Fishing Nets, along the tip of Fort Cochin. These nets are unique to this part of Kerala and symbolize the centuries-old Chinese influence on this coast.
Kathkali Dance Show
Experience a form of classical Indian dance with your included Kathkali show! This story-based form of art features elaborate costumes, makeup, and masked dancers. Traditional themes of the shows focus around local mythology, legends, and spiritual ideas from Hindu stories.
While traditionally the performers of these shows have been all male, modern compositions feature female performers as well.
Day 12. Depart India
Enjoy a transfer to the airport in accordance with your departure flight home.
Transfer to Cochin airport (COK)