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South India's temples and backwaters

13 days from $3,115pp

What is tailor made? 100% custom | Exceptional experiences | Hand-picked guides | Lodging with character | Designed to your schedule, budget & interests

    Places visited:

  • Chennai
  • Mahabalipuram
  • Pondicherry
  • Tanjore
  • Chettinad
  • Madurai
  • Kuttikanam
  • Alleppey
  • Cochin
  • 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.

Tigers Nest Paro

What our specialists say...

This journey travels across South India’s most prominent areas, taking in a variety of experiences, accommodation and historical sites. You’ll start off exploring the rich cultural and architectural history of Tamil Nadu, visiting ancient temples, colonial outposts and quirky cities. This pairs well with the more relaxed pace of Kerala, where you can cruise the backwaters on a houseboat and stay in a welcoming homestay, before ending in the old trading town of Cochin. Meeting a variety of guides along the way, you will be able to learn about the history and people that have shaped this fascinating region.

We recommend this trip for:

  • Chennai
  • Mahabalipuram
  • Pondicherry
  • Tanjore
  • Chettinad
  • Madurai
  • Kuttikanam
  • Alleppey
  • Cochin

Itinerary idea in detail

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Ask us if you would also like us to arrange your international flights at our preferred rates.

Day 1 Mahabalipuram

Chennai , Mahabalipuram

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.

Accommodation options

Day 2 Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram

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 home owners properties, and a paper factory run by a local ashram dependant if you are there when it is open.

Accommodation options

Day 3 Pondicherry

Mahabalipuram , Pondicherry

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.

Accommodation

Day 4 Pondicherry

Pondicherry

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

Accommodation

Day 5 Tanjore

Pondicherry , Tanjore

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.

Accommodation

Day 6 Chettinad

Tanjore , Chettinad

Today you will drive to Chettinad, visiting Trichy along the way. Trichy is located right in the centre 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.

Accommodation

Day 7

Chettinad , Madurai

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.

Day 8

Madurai

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.

Day 9 Kuttikanam

Madurai , Kuttikanam

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.

Accommodation

Day 10 Alleppey

Kuttikanam , Alleppey

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.

Accommodation

Day 11

Alleppey , Cochin

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.

Day 12

Cochin

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.

Day 13 Return home

Cochin

This morning drive to Cochin Airport by private transfer to catch your onward flight.

Audley Travel specialist Niall
Tigers Nest Paro

Contact a 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. Your dedicated specialist will take the time to understand your preferences and build them into an itinerary to match, working to your budget. He or she will keep perfecting it until you’re completely happy and ready to book.

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When to go

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Chennai
 
 
 
Mahabalipuram
 
 
 
Pondicherry
 
 
 
Tanjore
 
 
 
Chettinad
 
 
 
Madurai
 
 
 
Cochin
 
 
 

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