Explore South India Tour
A combination of temples, ancient monuments, nature, wild life and beaches. The essence of South India. A comprehensive tour that takes you through the villages and towns of three states - Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Goa - to experience the incredible diversity and culture of this country.
There is time to discover India 's glorious history, the incredible power and vibrancy of its religion as well as its spectacular wildlife – and the food of course.
Where are you going?
Day 1: Arrive Chennai and transfer to hotel.
Day 2: Chennai, capital of Tamilnadu, is India's 4th largest city. With rich traditions it is a blend of old and new. Sightseeing includes the famous Kapaleeshwarar Koil ( Shiva Temple ) and Partha sarathy Koil (Vishnu temple) built in Dravidian style.
Day 3: Kanchipuram is the temple town of south India. The Ekambareshwar Temple, dedicated to Shiva, is one of the largest and houses the 3500-year-old mango tree from which its name derives and whose branches are said to represent the four Vedas. The oldest and most beautiful of Kanchipuram's temples is Kailasanathar, an excellent example of Dravidian architecture. A fitting compliment to all this history is a typical south Indian lunch of thali, served on a banana leaf.
Mamallapuram is a wonderful combination of heritage monuments, sandy beaches and excellent seafood. The perfect introduction to Indian life, it is also one of the best places in south India for handicrafts.
Day 4: Drive through rice fields and palm woods to Pondicherry , a former French enclave that is especially famous for the temples and Ayurvedic clinics founded here by followers of the mystic, Sri Aurobindo.
Day 5: In Chidambaram Shiva is worshipped as the Celestial Dancer, victor in the great dance contest against Kali, his hair flying in the cosmic wind, his body in divine equilibrium in the tandava pose.
Day 6: Today's first stop is Gangaikonda Cholapuram (a famous Shiva temple) with beautiful high towers adorned with many small sculptures depicting the stories of old epics. It is then on to Darasuram temple, built in memory of the white elephant - Airavath. Evening arrival in Tangore.
Day 7: Sri Brihadeshwara Temple, built by the great Chola king Raja Raja in the 10th century, is an outstanding example of the Chola architecture and houses Asia's largest image of Nandi, Shiva's bull. The Raja Raja Palace has been converted into an excellent Museum & Art Gallery. Trichy is situated on the bank of river Cauvery and Srirangam, the largest temple complex in India , has twenty thousand people living and working within its labyrinths. Festivals are almost continually celebrated in the temples and along the river.
Day 8: Drive through plantations and along villages of rope makers and silk weavers to the oldest city of India, Madurai.
Day 9: Thousands of priests and worshippers come daily to Sri Meenakshi Temple where believers bathe themselves in the temple baths and have their fortunes told. The evening ceremony where the god Shiva is led to the bedroom of his wife, Meenakshi is not to be missed. Madurai is also a great place to look for bronze statues, carpets or other souvenirs.
Day 10: Enter Kerala and the low-lying mountain range where tropical rainforest still holds its own in the Periyar National Park.
Day 11: The best way to observe the game in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is by boat. There are herds of elephant, and bison, packs of wild boar various species of ape including the golden langur monkey, rarely seen elsewhere in India. Turtles can often be seen sunning themselves on the pieces of wood that stick out of the water. Osprey and cormorants are the most prevalent bird species in this area.
Day 12: Drive through magnificent mountain country with jungle, palm forests, tea and coffee plantations, slowly descending to a green area where cocoa, rubber and spices grown. A private boat takes you into the backwaters, a splendid area of canals and lakes; palm trees, water birds, rice fields and floating water plants, where life takes place on the water. Peddlers take care of the supplies and the public transport is by boat. Return to land at sunset for a 1-hour drive to Cochin.
Day 13: Cochin is situated on a number of small islands and peninsulas. Ferries join the islands and you are transported by boat through the green lagoons that form the city's harbor. In 1653 the Dutch settled in Cochin to trade in pepper. The spice trade is still important, as is shipbuilding. In the Dutch Palace beautiful murals depict episodes in Hindu mythology. Cochin boasts a 16th century Jewish synagogue and the only Jewish neighborhood in India . The ten-meter high Chinese fishnets that Marco Polo mentioned are wonderful to see - a method of fishing that originated in the 11th century. After a trip to a backwater village finish the evening with the famous dance drama of Kerala, the Kathakali. Grotesque gesticulations, amazing costumes and very extensive make-up characterize this dance. The stories are mostly taken from the Mahabharaata and Ramaayana
Days 14-15: It is a beautiful drive to Mudumalai, one of South India 's largest wild life reserves. Situated in the foothills of Nilgiris, it is a large reserve stretching from semi-evergreen forests to swamps and grasslands. It is home to spotted deer, Indian bison, tiger, panther, wild boars and sloth bear. Otters & crocodiles inhabit the Moyar River . The wild elephant population, estimated around 600, is one of the largest in the country. Safaris by jeep and elephants will give you the best wild life sightings.
Day 16: En-route to Mysore stop at the Kesava Temple at Somnathpur. This star shaped temple is covered with beautiful sculptures depicting stories from the epics. Mysore is the “Palace City” of Karnataka State and is famous for its silk and as a thriving sandal wood incense center. Nearby Ranganathitu Bird Sanctuary is a good place to see storks, ibis, egrets, spoonbills and cormorants.
Day 17: Sightseeing includes Saravana Belagola, one of the oldest and most important Jain pilgrimage centers in India and the Palace of Mysore. In the evening visit the bull temple and a 2000-year-old temple dedicated to Goddess Chamundi.
Day 18: Drive to Hassan Via Belur & Halebid. The 12th century temples display some of the most beautiful sculptures in south India . Typically these temples are squat & star shaped.
Day 19: Hampi was the capital of one of the largest Hindu empires in Indian history. The ruins of Vijayanagar are one of the most fascinating historical sites in south India - superb ruins set in a strange and beautiful landscape.
Day 20: The small rural town of Badami was the capital of the Chalukyan Empire, which covered much of the central Deccan between the 4th and 8th centuries. Here, and at nearby Aihole and Pattadakal, you can see some of the earliest and finest examples of Dravidian temples and rock-cut caves. The forms and sculptural work at these sites provided inspiration for the later Hindu empires that rose and fell in the southern part of the peninsula before the arrival of the Muslims.
Days 21-22: Goa is a tiny emerald land on the west coast of India , with incredible natural scenic beauty, attractive beaches, churches and temples famous for its architecture. The former Portuguese enclave presents a mixture of Hindu and Christian cultures.
Day 23: Depart. Transfer to airport or railway station as required.