Glimpses of South India - Chennai to Cochin

Tour Overview

Glimpses of South India is a two-week tour that starts from Chennai [MAA] and ends in Kochi [COK] in Kerala. The south India tour intends to showcase different cultural beauties, ancient temples, local culture & lifestyle, nature, history, and art. The initial stretch would be through Tamil Nadu where you get to see the temples of Pallavas, the Temples of the Chola Kings that was built nearly thousand years back. Take you around with stories about the Nattukottai Chettiar. The Meenakshi temple of Madurai will give you a beautiful insight into legendary stories from Hindu mythology. We would enter Kerala through the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, exploring the forests of Periyar and the Cardamom Hill Reserves. Further we move down to the west coast of Kerala to the backwaters of Alleppey and the beaches of Mararikulam and Fort Kochi, eventually flying back from Cochin International Airport. Green earth trails, best south India tour operator assure you to give full pleasure of experiencing south India.  

South India Itinerary map

Program Highlights

  • Visit a series of Chola - Dravidian Hindu Temples in Tamil Nadu, known for its architectural and sculptural marvels. Including the 1000-year-old Brihadeshwara Temple in Tanjore.

  • Visit the French Quarter of Pondicherry.

  • Visit the Pallava Shore Temples and the Temple rock carvings.

  • See around the artistic mansions of Chettinad, a historical marvel from the business community of Chettiars.

  • Take part in the night ceremony at the Madurai Meenakshi Kovil.

  • See around the tea and cardamom plantations spread across the Western Ghats of Kerala in Munnar and Thekkady.

  • Witness the beauty of the Western Ghats, its exquisite flora, and fauna.

  • Learn about cardamom, coffee, and tea plantations of Munnar and Thekkady.

  • Take part in forest-based activities at Periyar National Park.

  • Experience the backwaters of Kerala at the agrarian backwater town of Kumarakom. One of the first destinations in Kerala practically implementing responsible and community-based tourism programs.

  • Enjoy the reminiscence of Kochi, its history, and colonial decor which was one a hub of colonial powers.

Itinerary

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Day 1 - Arrival at Chennai Airport - transfer to the hotel

Arrival in Chennai – Upon arrival, after clearing immigration and customs, you will be met by our representative and transferred to the Hotel. Today would be more of a rest day in Chennai.

 

Chennai is a metropolitan Indian city, capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. It was one of the oldest settlement of the British in India, Chennai was renamed to Madras by the British and remained unaffected in spirit. Only the cathedral and the Fort of St. George are a reminder of its British past. Marina Beach - second longest beach in the world are all part of this Tamil City. Overnight stay at the Hotel.

Chennai is the best place to start the South india tour. As the best south India tour operator we do the best to give you the best south India tour experience.

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Day 2 - Drive from Chennai to Mahabalipuram [70 Kms 2 hours]

Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple: Not far from Triplicane, in Mylapore, there is yet another 8th century Pallava temple. The temple 'Gopuram'(tower) is characteristic of Dravidian style architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple has some beautiful sculptures, among which the bronze idols of 63 Saivite Saints (Nayanmars) which adorn the outer courtyard are rare Met on arrival and transfer you to the Hotel in the City. Proceed for an orientation Tour of Chennai and you drive pass Egmore - St Andrews Krik – a Scottish church, Chennai Central Railway Station, Flower Market and to St. George Fort area, Marina Beach and San Thome Church.

 

Later proceed to Kancheepuram and Visit to the Silk Saree Weaving Centre and followed by the visit to the famous Kancheepuram Temples. After the visit, drive to Mahabalipuram. On arrival check into your Hotel.

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Day 3 - Visit the Pallava temples of Mahabalipuram and Dakshinchitra

After breakfast, proceed for Dakshinchitra - A Museum that focus on showcasing traditional art, crafts, and architecture mostly found in the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The visit will give you an ideal perspective of the lifestyle and culture of Southern India.

 

Later proceed to the visit the temples of Mahabalipuram, famous for sculptures and temples of typical South India architectural designs, the five Radhas - A group of Monolithic monuments of animal figures carved out of solid rock, the shore temple, lashed by the waves of the sea, and the Huge frescoes, the penance of Bhagirath.

South India tour will not be complete without experiencing the Mahabalipuram.

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Day 4 - Proceed to Pondicherry [100 Kms 2.5 hours]

Pondicherry is an Indian Union Territory, which was earlier a French colony. You will definitely find the reminiscence of the French Era of Pondicherry. On route visit to the Auroville, a concept of a global Universal village where people of different countries/cast or creed/politics live together in peace and harmony. Our group can visit the main office – where they have a presentation of the concept and you get an idea of how the village works. This here include the Exhibition Centre / Visitors Centre and followed by a visit to the ‘Matrimandir’ -  This place is basically for meditation & Silence and Not a Place for Tourists and hence entry inside is restricted. The ‘Matrimandir’ could be seen only from the outside. All your visits in Pondicherry will be done with a local guide.

 

Afternoon explore by foot / Visit to the special Flower Market.  An evening walk on the Beach & back to the Hotel by foot.

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Day 5 - Transfer to the Temple Town of Tanjore [165 Kms 4 hours]

Today we drive to Tanjore, on route drive pass the Kumbakonam Temples. On arrival in Tanjore – Check into your Hotel of stay and later Visit the Tanjore Brehadeshwara Temple - Sri Brehadeeswarar Temple built by Raja Raja Chola in 1010 is the crowning Flory of Chola temple architecture. Constructed from a single piece of granite weighing an estimated 80 tones, the dome was hauled into place along a 4 km earthwork ramp in a manner similar to that used for the Egyptian pyramids.  This is the only temple whose shadow of the pillars and the ‘Gopuram’ does not fall on the ground . It remains India's largest temple and is one of the greatest glories of Indian architecture. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Option to visit the Palace located near the Temple, with huge corridors and spacious halls, the art gallery, housing granite and bronze statues of the Chola period. The temple visit is a highlight of the South Indian Tour.

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Day 6 - Transfer to Madurai via Chettinad [200 Kms 3.5 hours]

After the breakfast – drive to Madurai on route exploring Chettinad (2.5 Hrs) the Land of Chettiars, a prosperous banking community whose inhabitants ventured overseas to South and South East Asia in the 19th and 20th Centuries and amassed great fortunes.  Chettinad is rich in cultural heritage, art, architecture, and is well-known for its Mansions - embellished with marble and Burma teak, wide courtyards, spacious rooms—and for its 18th-century mansions & Palace. Local legend has it that their walls used to be polished with a paste made out of egg-whites to give a smooth texture. Later after the Lunch at Chettinad, proceed to Madurai. A two-hour drive on-route you get to visit the Madurai Flower Market. Check-in the hotel and later in the evening, after an early dinner, proceed for a Night Ceremony at the Madurai Meenakshi Temple. Feel the glimpse of south India with the best South India tour Operator.

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Day 7 - Transfer to Munnar after the sightseeing tour of Madurai [160 Kms 4 hours]

After the Breakfast proceed for the visit of Madurai, the Palace of Thirumalai Nayakar and followed by Cycle Rickshaw Tour through the narrow Streets of Madurai and the Banana Markets to reach The Meenakshi Temple. Famous for it’s many carved and painted halls, this magnificent temple to the goddess Meenakshi and Lord Shiva has the tallest ‘Gopuram’ (Temple Gateway) in the world. It also houses the Temple Art Museum and a 1,000 pillared Grand Hall.

 

After the Lunch drive to Munnar in the state of Kerala, known as “God’s own country” for its great natural beauty. Munnar is a Hill Station full of Cardamom, Tea Plantations and Coffee Plantations on beautiful rolling hills. This is one of the best Hill stations in the Country. We have a very nice Resort overlooking the valley. You will check into the resort on arrival.

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Day 8 - Visits in an around Munnar

After breakfast, full day exploration of Munnar. The hills of Munnar were known as the Kannan Devan Hills. A British officer named J.D. Munro formed the North Travancore Land Planting and Agricultural Society and members of the society developed their own estates in various parts of the High Range. The first cultivation was undertaken in 1877. The pioneers tried many crops (such as coffee, cinchona, sisal, and cardamom) before discovering that tea was best suited to the area. The visit offers you a fine opportunity to learn more about the effort and process that goes into producing some of the finest tea in the world. The visits include Sprawling Tea plantations and enchanting rolling hills, countless Cardamom Estates, Reservoirs for Hidel Projects, Tea Museum, and Srishti “handicraft center run by the physically challenged. See some of the off beat things you can do in Munnar.

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Day 9 - Drive to Thekkady - Periyar National Park [100 Kms 3 hrs]

After the Breakfast drive to Thekkady know for the Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve. On route, you will find the cardamom hill reserve where almost 95% of cardamom production in India happens. The most top quality cardamom - often referred to as the queen of spices come from these high ranges of the Western Ghats. The Periyar National Park gives visitors a chance to cruise through the reservoir that extends into the core forest areas, this cruise gives you a chance for sighting wild beings of the forest namely Elephants, Wild Boar, Indian Guars, otters and a wide range of birds including the Hornbill. If it is a lucky day, you might even spot a tiger. On arrival, we head to the boat landing point   Evening witness the famous Martial Art form of Kerala – ‘ Kalaripayattu ‘ in a theatre at the towncenter.

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Day 10 - Visit the agrarian backwater village of Kumarakom [135 Kms 4 Hours]

After the breakfast drive to Kumarakom – on route visit to a Spice Plantations in Thekkady where you get an idea about the plantations and nature of the spices from the high ranges of Kerala. Kumarakom is one of the prominent destinations in Kerala known for its backwaters and the responsible tourism model where the villagers, directly and indirectly, benefit from tourism ventures based out of Kumarakom.

 

On arrival check in at the Backwater Resort.  Option for consulting Ayurveda doctors for Ayurveda Treatments & Massages on personal cost are available. The weather would be humid and Ayurveda therapies would be a great option to have a relaxed evening on the banks of the backwaters of Kerala. Overnight stay at the backwater resort.

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Day 11 - Proceed for a cruise the Alleppey and by surface to Cochin [70 Kms 1.5 hrs]

After breakfast, you board a Keralan houseboat right from the resort of stay. The Houseboats are traditional rice barges converted into small homes where you get to explore the backwaters at its best. The Houseboat would have a bedroom, living room, and a kitchen at the rear. This would be a day cruise with lunch and hi-tea served on board. Cruise across the Vembanad lake to the backwater town of Alleppey, where you get to cruise through the narrow canals to witness the backwater lifestyle and culture.

 

By evening you will disembark the house where your car would be waiting for you. Board the car and drive all the way to Kochi - The Queen of the Arabian sea. The old port town was the settlement of the Portuguese, Dutch and the English and was a primary trade center of Tea and Spices.

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Day 12 - City tour of Cochin

Cochin is essentially divided into two, the Old Cochin which is known as Fort Cochin and the New Cochin, known as the commercial hub of Kerala - Ernakulam. Fort Cochin refers to the area where there was more of colonial concentration, European mansions, warehouses and the port. However, Ernakulam is the new commercial hib of Kerala with administrative offices and markets.

 

Proceed for a sightseeing tour of Cochin with an accompanying guide who will explain to you about Colonial stories, the Paradeshi Synagogue, the Dutch Palace, the first European church built named as St. Francis Church and the Chinese fishing nets at the estuary. Return back to the hotel after a farewell dinner at an amazing restaurant in Fort Cochin.​

Day 13 - Departure Transfer to Cochin International Airport [2 hours]

The program includes

  • Accommodation in the below mentioned hotels / resorts in standard rooms.

  • The respective meals during the course of the tour as mentioned in the itinerary.

  • The transportation would be in a cab or larger SUV or Van based on the number of travelers in the group.

  • Local guides would be assigned wherever is required based on the itinerary for sightseeing and city tours.

  • Entry tickets and mandatory permits are included in the cost. however certain points of interest will have a camera / video camera ticket, which is not included in the price.

  • There would be one 500 ml bottle of water in coach per day.

  • Tips, Table drinks, shopping or expenses of personal nature are not included in the tour and has to be paid directly at the point of purchase.

Notes

  • This tour can be organized for both Free Individual Travelers as well as a group. This is very much a customizable itinerary based on the interest of the travelers. Price would be based on the customization and the accommodation options included in the tour.

  • Once you have decided to go ahead with the tour, you will require to take an Indian Visa on your own contacting an Indian embassy or Indian missions abroad. 

  • To confirm your participation we would require 50% of the tour as an advance deposit. You can make this deposit with either by bank transfer or by credit card.

  • The tour does not come along with a travel insurance.

  • In case of an emergency, the required would be done by us as a tour operator within our limits.

  • Kindly contact us to know more about the itinerary, cost along with the cancellation policy.