Essence of South India

Road trip to Tamil Nadu and Kerala, from Chennai to Kochi. A trip to South India is ideal for a smooth introduction to the country. Visit Dravidian temples and colonial ports. Enjoy the fragrance of spices and the lavish 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 port cities
  • Lush plantations and tranquil backwaters of Kerala

Day 1 : Chennai

Arrive Chennai, formerly known as Madras. Wander along Marina Drive along the sea.

Day 2 : Chennai / Kanchipuram / Mahabalipuram

Drive to Kanchipuram, a religious and historical centre also famous for silk sarees. Proceed to Mahabalipuram and visit the Shore Temple on the beach, and Arjuna's Penance, an epic recreated on stone bas-relief.

Day 3 : Mahabalipuram / Gingee / Pondicherry

Drive to Puducherry, en route visiting medieval Gingee Fort. Evening stroll along the Promenade beach.

Day 4 : Pondicherry

Admire the beautiful boulevards inherited from brief French occupation and visit Aurobindo Ashram. Trip to the experiential city of Auroville.

Day 5 : Pondicherry / Chidambaram / Thanjavur

Leave the coast and enter Tamil land. Visit famous temples in Chidambaram and Kumbakonam. Proceed to Tanjore, a peaceful town with beautiful monuments built by Chola kings and dedicated to Lord Krishna.

Day 6 : Thanjavur / Trichy / Madurai

In Tiruchirappalli, visit Rock Fort and Srirangam temple complex. Drive further to Madurai, a spiritual centre of pilgrimage and teaching. Visit Meenakshi Sundereshwar Temple, a Dravidan masterpiece, and the Muslim palace of Tirumalai Nayak.

Day 7 : Madurai / Munnar

Drive to Munnar along tea estates and forests in the Nilgiri Hills.

Day 8 : Munnar

Visit Christ Church, a century old church dedicated to tea farmers. Trek in a tea estate or drive to Eravikulam National Park, home to wild elephants. The park also features South India's highest peak, Anamudi.

Day 9 : Backwaters Cruise

Drive along spice gardens to Kumarakom. Board a Kettuvalom, a traditional Bamboo-made rice boat converted into an intimate houseboat on sail. Cruise through coconut lagoons and narrow canals of Kerala Backwaters.

Day 10 : Alleppey / Kochi

Check out of your houseboat in Alappuzha. Drive to Fort Cochin, an eclectic city where different communities have long cohabited : Jewish, Muslim, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch… Wander along the jetty to observe Chinese fishing nets.

Day 11 : Kochi

Visit 16th century 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.

Average travel time:
  • 3 to 5-hour drive between halts
When to go:
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
  • Best time: October to March. Ideal in January-February.
  • Avoid in summer (April to June)
  • East coast sees rainfalls from July to September and in November-December
  • Kerala sees rainfalls in June and July, sometimes in August too
Spice up your trip:
  • Stay in a colonial plnatation estate
  • Extend the trip to Karnataka (Mysore, Hampi...)
  • Cycle early through the lanes of Pondicherry with a French or Tamil breakfast to conclude the ride.
  • 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

Ask for a custom quote now. (mention tour reference : Essence of South India)

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