South India trip by road from Chennai to Kochi. Explore Tamil Nadu and Kerala. South India is ideal for a smooth introduction to India. Visit Dravidian temples and colonial ports. Enjoy the fragrance of spices and tropical greenery.
11 days / 10 nights
Chennai - Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry - Thanjavur - Madurai - Munnar - Alleppey - Kochi
- Vibrant temples of Tamil Nadu
- Colonial ambience of Madras, Pondicherry and Cochin ports
- Lush plantations and backwaters of Kerala
Day 1 : Chennai
Arrive Chennai (Madras). Wander on Marina Drive along the sea.
Day 2 : Chennai / Kanchipuram / Mahabalipuram
Morning visit Kanchipuram temples and silk sarees markets. Then proceed to Mahabalipuram. Explore Shore Temple by the beach. Then visit Five Rathas, Krishna's butterball and Arjuna's Penance bas-relief.
Day 3 : Mahabalipuram / Gingee / Pondicherry
Drive to Puducherry. Option to visit Gingee Fort. Evening stroll along the seaside Promenade.
Day 4 : Pondicherry
Admire the beautiful French era architecture and boulevards. Visit Aurobindo Ashram, and its perfume and paper factories. Trip to the experiential city of Auroville.
Day 5 : Pondicherry / Chidambaram / Thanjavur
Leave the coast and enter Tamil land. Visit Chidambaram and Kumbakonam temples. Then drive to Tanjore.
Day 6 : Thanjavur / Trichy / Madurai
Trip to Tiruchirappalli; visit Rock Fort and Srirangam temple. Drive further to Madurai, a spiritual centre. Visit Meenakshi Sundereshwar Temple, a Dravidian masterpiece. Later visit Tirumalai Nayak Palace.
Day 7 : Madurai / Munnar
Drive to the Nilgiri Hills along tea estates and forests. Stay in Munnar.
Day 8 : Munnar
Visit Christ Church, an old church dedicated to tea farmers. Trek in a tea estate. Or drive to Eravikulam National Park, home to wild elephants.
Day 9 : Backwaters Cruise
Drive along spice gardens to Kumarakom in Kerala's backwaters. Board a cozy houseboat on sail. Cruise through coconut lagoons and narrow canals.
Day 10 : Alleppey / Kochi
Check out of your houseboat in Alappuzha. Then drive to Fort Cochin. Different communities have long cohabited here: Jewish, Muslim, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch… Observe Chinese fishing nets.
Day 11 : Kochi
Visit Pardesi synagogue, Mattancherry Dutch Palace and Saint Francis Church. Evening attend a traditional Kathakali dance performance. Then transfer to airport and board your flight for onward destination. End of your South India trip!
Average travel time:
- 3 to 5-hour drive between halts
When to go:
- Best time for a South India trip: October to March.
- Ideal in January-February.
- Avoid in summer (April to June)
- East coast sees rainfalls from July to September and November to December
- Kerala sees rainfalls in June and July, sometimes in August too
Spice up your South India trip:
- Stay in a colonial plantation estate
- Extend the trip to Karnataka (Mysore, Hampi...)
- Cycle early morning down the lanes of Pondicherry.
- Rejuvenate yourself with an Ayurvedic massage
Monument closing days:
- Pardesi Synagogue on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays in Kochi
- Mattancherry Palace on Fridays in Kochi