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South India - Tamil Nadu and Kerala Highlights

Tailor Made Itinerary

16 Days From A$6,355

Overview

Often overlooked, Tamil Nadu is the cultural heartland of South India, where trade, European influences and Tamil culture come together in a magnificent clash of architecture and history. This remarkable private journey encompasses some of the country’s most authentic cultural experiences, known for the finest cuisine, providing a richly contrasting insight into the traditions, heritage and flavour of one of India’s most fascinating regions. Following the Coromandel coast south, you’...
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TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Visit UNESCO World Heritage sites and admire Chola architecture at Mahabalipuram and Tanjore
  • Explore the cultural and architectural heritage of Pondicherry, Chettinad and Cochin
  • Spot the rich birdlife and diverse wildlife species in the jungles of Periyar Tiger Reserve
  • Embark on a private cruise through the Kerala Backwaters and enjoy the tranquil beaches of Mararikulam
  • Learn to cook delicious traditional Tamil dishes in Shyama’s kitchen with her family
  • Experience some of South India's most characterful and charming boutique and heritage properties

ITINERARY

This is a suggested itinerary. Our experts have all travelled widely in the region and will be happy to tailor any of our itineraries to suit your tastes, or build a trip from scratch.

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COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: ARRIVE CHENNAI

DAY 1: ARRIVE CHENNAI

Arrive into Chennai where you will be met by a Wild Frontiers representative who will transfer you to your hotel. Later in the afternoon enjoy a short orientation tour of Chennai.

Taj Coromandel

DAY 2: CHENNAI 

DAY 2: CHENNAI 

The flower market in Chennai is worth waking up early for, and the perfect way to start your colourful journey of Southern India. From here you will be taken to some of the city’s cultural highlights, including the 17th century Fort St. George, the ancient Shiva temple of Kapaleeshwarar and the streets of the bustling Georgetown Bazaar.  

Taj Coromandel
Breakfast

DAY 3: CHENNAI - MAHABALIPURAM - PONDICHERRY

DAY 3: CHENNAI - MAHABALIPURAM - PONDICHERRY

One of the largest cities in India, Chennai and the surrounding area is a cultural melting pot, and the area is a centre for classic music and dance, art and the location of the Tamil film industry. Following an early breakfast, today you will set off south to the former French colonial town of Pondicherry, stopping en route to discover more of the cultural heritage of this region. Visit the performing arts school and weaving centre established by the Kalakshetra Foundation, before continuing on to the relaxed seaside town of Mahabalipuram where you can visit the famous UNESCO heritage monument site. Modern day stone carvers, tourists and local fishermen mingle amongst the ancient ruins and stone carvings, some of which date back as far as the 7th century. Arrive in Pondicherry late afternoon.

Palais De Mahe
Breakfast

DAY 4: PONDICHERRY

DAY 4: PONDICHERRY

This morning's activity is a cooking class in Shyama's kitchen before sitting down to enjoy your lovely meal with her family. In the afternoon, discover the historic Tamil and French quarters of Pondicherry on a guided walking tour. Finish the day with a guided tour from Storytrails, who hire local people as storytellers in order to give visitors an insight into the many myths and rituals behind every day Indian life.

Palais De Mahe
Breakfast

DAY 5: PONDICHERRY - TANJORE

DAY 5: PONDICHERRY - TANJORE

Today you will be driven south along coastal roads to the ancient capital of Tanjore, stopping en route to visit the mythical site of Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram, one of the oldest temples in Tamil Nadu. Arrive in Tanjore, one of the ancient cities of India with a long and varied history dating back to the Sangam period, now World Heritage Site. Spend the afternoon visiting the impressive Brihadeshwara Temple and Fort and the majestic Tanjore Palace of the Marathas and the Nayaks.  

Svatma
Breakfast

DAY 6: TANJORE

DAY 6: TANJORE

Today you can take advantage of the numerous activities by Svatma. Each experience has been designed to give you an insight into the abundant charms of Tamil Nadu - its arts, architecture, culinary heritage and culture. Spend time with expert bronze sculptors and master craftsmen, academics, priests and culinary masterminds, or simply relax by the pool and soak up your surroundings - the choice is yours.

Svatma
Breakfast

DAY 7: TANJORE - TRICHY - CHETTINAD

DAY 7: TANJORE - TRICHY - CHETTINAD

Depart Tanjore after breakfast and head towards Chettinad, stopping at one of the oldest inhabited cities in Tamil Nadu - Trichy. Famed for its spectacular Rock Fort and its Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Trichy is blessed with a rich ancestry that includes Chola, Pallava and Nayak influences. Also see the unusual architecture of the 19th century Georgian church of St. John. Continue to Chettinad, where you will check into your hotel and visit the Kanadukathan village with a local guide.

Visalam
Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 8: CHETTINAD - DINDIGUL

DAY 8: CHETTINAD - DINDIGUL

The morning is yours to explore Chettinad independently. Why not visit the famous mansions left by the Chettiars, a prosperous community of bankers and merchants who migrated across southern Asia during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Continue to Dindigul on to your hotel within the cooler climes of the Palani Hills.

Rajakkad Estate
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: DINDIGUL

DAY 9: DINDIGUL

This 18th century property, 1000m above sea level and within an estate, has changed very little over the last century and so has the lifestyle. Spend your free day visiting the farm and nearby village, looking for birdlife along an estate path or snoozing in the hammock under the shade of the trees. There are also guided excursions from the estate such as nature walks and visits to the hill station of Kodaikanal.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: DINDIGUL - THEKKADY

DAY 10: DINDIGUL - THEKKADY

After breakfast you will travel to Thekkady, home of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, a community-based ecotourism project which aims to protect the rare flora and fauna of the region as well as providing a living for the residents of the area. This afternoon will be spent in Periyar Nature Reserve, walking through some of the wilder forest of the reserve. Animals such as tigers, elephants, sambar, giant squirrels and Nilgiri langur may be spotted, as well as native tribes people fishing or swimming. Periyar Nature Reserve is a treat for wildlife enthusiasts and ornithologists alike, with its rich fauna and vast open land, a wonderful place to experience some of southern India’s wildlife. In the early evening you can also enjoy a birdwatching walk led by a specialist naturalist guide.

Spice Village
Breakfast

DAY 11: THEKKADY – ALLEPPEY – BACKWATERS 

DAY 11: THEKKADY – ALLEPPEY – BACKWATERS 

Heading back onto the alluvial plains that lie between the Western Ghats and the Indian Ocean, this morning you will journey by road to the town of Alleppey. Here you will board your private houseboat for an exploration of the remarkable Keralan Backwaters, the ideal way to observe life amongst the channels and waterways of the west coast.  

Xandari Houseboat
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: ALLEPPEY - COCHIN

DAY 12: ALLEPPEY - COCHIN

Disembarking this morning you will travel by road to Cochin, the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea'. The oldest European settlement in India, Cochin is a vibrant mix of Arab, Chinese, European and Indian influences and home to the oldest church and the oldest synagogue in the country. This evening you will have the option to enjoy a remarkable performance of Kerala's famous Kathakali dancing.

Eighth Bastion
Breakfast

DAY 13: COCHIN

DAY 13: COCHIN

Start your day early and explore Cochin at dawn. Watch the city come to life as the morning boat rush hour begins, when local fishermen set off to cast their nets. A walk along the coastline gives you the chance to see daily fitness regimes such as yoga on the beach. Stop for a cup of tea at a local tea shop before visiting the Soviet era communist reading rooms. From here take the local ferry to Ernakulam to discover the bustle of the sea food auction, where the fishermen return with their fresh catch. Later this afternoon you can explore more of the Queen of the Arabian Sea, with its colonial history including the beautiful Portuguese church of St. Francis and the remarkable 16th century Synagogue.

Eighth Bastion
Breakfast

DAY 14: COCHIN - MARARIKULAM

DAY 14: COCHIN - MARARIKULAM

Today you will be swapping the colourful wonders of Cochin for the golden beaches of the Arabian coast for some much-needed relaxation. You will be collected from your hotel in Cochin by your driver and taken to Mararikulam. On arrival, the rest of the day is free to enjoy at your leisure.

Marari Beach Resort
Breakfast

DAY 15: MARARIKULAM

DAY 15: MARARIKULAM

Spend the day enjoying the pristine sands and warm waters of Marari Beach at Mararikulam. Nestling close to a small, sleepy fishing village, the beach offers the perfect unspoiled conclusion to your southern adventure.

Marari Beach Resort
Breakfast

DAY 16: MARARIKULAM - COCHIN - DEPART

DAY 16: MARARIKULAM - COCHIN - DEPART

This morning you will be transferred to the airport in Cochin in time for your onward flight.

Breakfast

SUGGESTED ACCOMMODATION

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Luxury

Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience

Luxury

Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Accommodation listed here is intended as a guide only, to give you a taste of what we can do. Our experts can tailor any aspect of this itinerary and accommodation to suit your budget and tastes.

GUIDELINE PRICE & WHAT’S INCLUDED

SOUTH INDIA - TAMIL NADU AND KERALA HIGHLIGHTS (16 DAYS) A$6,355

MEALS

As specified in the itinerary, sampling some of the country's finest cuisine.

TRANSPORT

Private air-conditioned vehicles with experienced, dedicated drivers.

ENTRANCE FEES

Tours and admission fees, including tickets specified in the itinerary.

EXPERT TEAM

Licensed English-speaking guides and a support team available 24/7.

ACCOMMODATION

As specified in the itinerary, using some of our favourite local properties.

ACCOMMODATION

Ultra - The best of the best, the ultimate indulgence
Luxury - Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium - Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior - Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple - No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

If you book international flights through Wild Frontiers.

This itinerary is aimed to give you an idea of what we can offer. The price shown above is based on two people travelling outside of peak periods. As this itinerary is only a suggestion and can be tailor-made to suit your interests and budget, your final price may differ.

START PLANNING YOUR TRIP

Our team of experts have a wealth of knowledge and experience to help you plan your adventure of a lifetime.

WHEN TO GO

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

Meet the expert, Shalmali

Shalmali is our Indian Subcontinent expert, who has travelled extensively in the region.

Speak to Shalmali by calling
+44 (0)20 3944 6258

India rewards the traveller with its rich variety of unforgettable experiences, diversity of culture, stunning wealth of architecture, varied landscapes, delicious cuisines, fine textiles and crafts, colourful festivals, and wild places teeming with wildlife.

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