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South India's temples & backwaters

14 days from £2,860pp

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Tour highlights

  • Soak up the view of the Shore Temple at sunset.

  • Enjoy France in India in the former colonial enclave of Pondicherry.

  • Stay in a village of 19th century merchants' homes.

  • Witness the ceremonies in Sri Meenakshi temple with hundreds of pilgrims and the smell of incense.

Price includes:

  • Scheduled international flights
  • In-destination transfers
  • Activities and excursions as detailed
  • All accommodation
  • 24-hour support while you travel
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Travel that's shaped around you

We know that travel has the most meaning when it's created individually for you. Our specialists will only start designing your trip once they understand exactly what you want it to be. So, consider this idea simply as inspiration for your own experience.

Itinerary idea in detail

Includes international flights from a choice of UK airports, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • Today you begin your journey by boarding your international outbound flight to Chennai.

  • Arrive into Chennai International Airport to be greeted by one of our local representatives. Your private driver will stay with you for the duration of your trip, on hand to assist during long journeys and suggest places to stop along the way for refreshments or comfort breaks.

  • Today your Indian adventure starts with a tour of Mahabalipuram, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you will see the many influences that have shaped the city, the government project to restore homeowners' properties, and a paper factory run by a local ashram dependent if you are there when it is open.

  • This morning you will drive further south to the former French enclave of Pondicherry. Along the way you will pass many salt flats, if you wish to stop please ask your driver.

  • Today you will enjoy a private guided tour of the colonial quarter. You will find that hotels, shops and cafés all have a French influence, and you'll find that many locals still speak French.

  • Continue to Tanjore today, stopping to enjoy various temples and their sacred art en route. The history is fascinating — local guides can be arranged if you would like a detailed tour or you can explore independently.

  • Today you will drive to Chettinad, visiting Trichy along the way. Trichy is located right in the heart of Tamil Nadu and is an important religious site since the 3rd century BC. A local guide is on hand to show you around the temples and explain the rituals which locals may be performing. You'll also be able to climb to the Rock Temple for views across the town.

  • Enjoy the drive to Madurai today. When you reach there you will be able to enjoy some leisure time before joining hundreds of pilgrims this evening in the Sri Meenakshi Temple, to witness the ceremony which puts the holy book to bed.

  • Enjoy your rickshaw tour of Madurai today. It begins with a visit on foot to the Meenakshi temple to allow you to take it in at your own pace. From here you can enjoy your rickshaw ride, taking in the markets, Vaigai River and Thirumalai Palace.

  • Cross the Western Ghats today, a beautifully scenic drive of about six hours which will take you into the state of Kerala. You might like to stop and visit one of the villages along the way — many serving spiced tea (chai) which we can strongly recommend. This afternoon you can relax or take a stroll to explore the local tea and coffee plantations.

  • Your journey in Kerala continues today as you head to the iconic Backwaters. This two-hour drive passes some particularly lush areas which are good for birdwatching — your driver will be happy to stop for you to enjoy the views. Stay in a family-run homestay this evening and enjoy the laid-back lifestyle of this part of India.

  • After breakfast this morning, you will disembark the boat and travel by road north to Cochin. When you arrive simply enjoy exploring this relaxed city which is easily done on foot.

  • Today you will meet a local guide who will give you a guided tour of the city. A blend of Dutch, Portuguese and British colonial influences, there is a range of unusual architecture to explore. As well as seeing the key sites such as the fort and Jewish Synagogue, our guides are keen to show you some of the less explored areas of the city. Finish your tour with views of the Chinese fishing nets — hopefully you can catch the fishermen in action.

  • This morning drive to Cochin Airport by private transfer to catch your onward flight. Your return flight will arrive the same day.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodation, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

What our clients say about us

Hannah, an Audley Travel specialist

Contact an India specialist

The specialist who designs your trip to India will have explored the country many times and, in some cases, lived there. Their first-hand knowledge gives us the belief that no other travel company can match our expertise in helping you plan your trip.

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When to go

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Place Daily max temperature (°C) Monthly rainfall (mm)
Chennai
 
Mahabalipuram
 
Pondicherry
 
Tanjore
 
Chettinad
 
Madurai
 
Cochin
 

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