Southern India

This epic journey, from Goa’s palm lined beaches in the North to historic Chennai in the South, will be a most exotic and colourful experience. Travelling by bus, boat and train we will enjoy a leisurely and varied exploration into the culture and heritage of four Indian States; Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Goa.

Meander along the lush Malabar backwaters on a houseboat and walk in the countryside through wilderness and well-tended plantations, for this is the land of spices, tea, coffee and rubber. Visit an array of glorious monuments that reflect the region’s rich cultural heritage and colonial past; Maharaja’s palaces, colonial mansions, hill stations, nature reserves, historic cities and ancient temples……while each day savouring the delights of Southern India’s distinctive cuisine.

Our itinerary will include:
  • The Malabar Backwaters - A network of palm-fringed canals, lakes and estuaries, a beautiful and serene environment. Stilt-house villages and hibiscus gardens adorn the shoreline and the waterways are alive with river craft. Stay one night on a rice barge house-boat and two nights at a backwater resort.

  • Hampi - The magnificent 16th Century Vijayanagar ruins at Hampi. These World Heritage temples are considered to be the most fascinating historical site in Southern India.

  • Badami - These fabulous cave temples are fine examples of Indian Rock architecture.

  • Madurai - The very heart of Tamil Nadu where the gigantic gopurams of the Meenakshi Temples tower above the surrounding markets. In the evening visit the temple to watch the ancient daily ceremonies.

  • Mysore - One of the finest cities in Southern India, Mysore is a city of gardens, tree lined boulevards and art galleries. The magnificent Maharaja’s Palace with its stained glass ceilings and exquisite paintings is a must-see.

  • Munnar - Nestled on the eastern border of Kerala State, the beautiful hill station of Munnar is renowned for its tea, spice and vanilla plantations. The region offers some most enjoyable wilderness and plantation walking.

  • Cochin - A spice trading port since Biblical times. In historic Fort Cochin you will find Vasco da Gama's church,  which built in 1503  is the oldest European church in India, narrow winding streets, five hundred year old Portuguese houses and waterways lined with huge Chinese styled butterfly nets.

  • Periyar Wildlife Park - A wildlife sanctuary where the Malabar flying squirrel, tiger, elephant and leopard can be spotted. Activities here will include bamboo rafting, a jungle trek/walk and a guided walk in the spice gardens.

  • Goa - A coastline of white sand and palm-fringed beaches which are rated as some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Relax and swim in the warm waters of the Arabian Sea, browse the lively markets and enjoy this unique and relaxed corner of India.

  • Pondicherry - A French colonial settlement until 1954, Pondichery’s French legacy is preserved in its French Quarter, where you will find tree-lined streets, mustard-colored colonial villas and chic boutiques.

  • Mahabalipuram - Home to the famous UNESCO World Heritage Shore temples.

  • Chennai - For a fascinating insight into the daily life of this bustling city we will take a late afternoon walking and rickshaw tour called the “Bazaar Trail”.

Draft Itinerary outline:

Cochin: 2 Nights

Malabar Backwaters Resort: 2 Nights

Rice Barge: 1 Night

Periyar: 2 Nights

Munnar: 2 Nights

Madurai: 1 Night

Overnight train: 1 Night

Mysore: 1 Night

Overnight train: 1 Night

Hampi:  2 Nights

Badami: 2 Nights

Goa: 3 Nights

Mahabalipurum: 1 Night

Pondicherry: 1 Night

In Depth Experience: Observe artists and craftsmen; visit home industries, villages, farms and plantations; enjoy countryside walks and if you wish cycling and wilderness hikes. Delve into the culture and customs with dance, music and cooking demonstrations. Local guides provide an insight into South Indian culture as well as social and economic issues. 

Transport: Essentially a private bus trip so that we can stop and “investigate” as the whim takes us. However, we will also use two overnight sleeper trains for the longer journeys, a domestic flight and a variety of watercraft. In some flat'ish locations such as around historic sites, cycling will be offered as an alternative  transport mode. 

Accommodation: Where possible the tourist grade hotels will reflect the heritage of the region, twin-share/double rooms with private facilities being the norm. One night on a houseboat with all facilities.

Meals: Breakfasts are included at all hotel stays and during the houseboat cruise all meals are included. This region of India is famous for its wonderful cuisine, particularly its vegetarian dishes and use of exotic spices. Our itinerary includes many opportunities to enjoy and observe local produce and cooking styles. “Eating” will be a real highlight and an adventure in itself.

Climate: As this is a tropical region the trip will take place in the cooler early winter season.  For the most part it will be warm so you will only require lightweight easy care clothing, things that wash and dry overnight. The hill country areas may be cooler so please take a light sweater and longs. 



Trip Code:  IS

Date: Not currently scheduled 

Duration: 24 days 

Party: 10 to 16 + leader

Price Guide: