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South India - Tamil Nadu & Karnataka Highlights

Tailor Made Itinerary

15 Days From £2,965

Overview

The cultural heartland of South India, the twin states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu encompass some of the oldest and most magnificent of India’s rich and colourful cultures. Across these vast and fertile landscapes, you can discover a history of human civilisation that can trace its languages and its traditions back over two millennia, to the Chola and Pallava dynasties of the 1st century AD. Discover the regal splendour of Mysore and ride the famous Toy Train to Coonoor, enjoy some uniquely ...
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TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore the cultural and architectural heritage of Madurai and Pondicherry during unique walking tours
  • Enjoy a fascinating tour of Mysore’s famous flower market, palace and monuments
  • Visit the ancient and dramatic UNESCO sights including the shore temple of Mahabalipuram
  • Explore the sacred south east and its Dravidian roots and the fascinating culture of Karnataka
  • Ride the historic Toy Train of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway through the lush mountainous landscape
  • Discover the spectacular Chola temple architecture of Southern India

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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DAY 1: ARRIVE BANGALORE - MYSORE

DAY 1: ARRIVE BANGALORE - MYSORE

On arrival in Bangalore today, you will be met at the airport by your Wild Frontiers representative and driven to Mysore, travelling via the culturally and historically important town of Srirangapatnam. 

Green Hotel

DAY 2: MYSORE

DAY 2: MYSORE

A day in the cultural capital of Karnataka provides an opportunity to enjoy the city that once lay at the heart of the Mysore Princely Kingdom. Begin the day with a visit to the colourful and less-visited Devaraja Flower Market, a wonderful way to observe daily life in the city.  Accompanied by a local guide you'll then learn about the battles fought between the British and Tipu Sultan, the famed “Tiger of Mysore”. You'll also visit Mysore's opulent palace, still the official residence of the Wadiyar dynasty that once ruled here. Finally, you'll enjoy the colour and vibrancy of the local markets and discover first hand why food is as important as tradition to the residents of Mysore. 

Green Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 3: MYSORE - OOTY

DAY 3: MYSORE - OOTY

Today you will be collected from your hotel in Mysore and transferred to the pretty hill station of Ooty. Located in the heart of lofty mountains and dense forest, Ooty used to be a popular getaway for the British of the colonial Raj. A guided tour of the town after lunch today will include a visit to the impressive St Stephens Church, whose timber framework was taken from the palace of Tipu Sultan after his defeat by the British in the Mysore War. You'll also explore the beautifully maintained Botanical Gardens, whose oldest inhabitant is a 20-million-year-old fossilised tree.

Taj Savoy
Breakfast

DAY 4: OOTY - COONOOR - MADURAI

DAY 4: OOTY - COONOOR - MADURAI

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is one of the oldest mountain railways in India. Running through the Western Ghats between Ooty and Coonoor, the railroad was built by the British in 1908 and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Still operated by a fleet of steam locomotives, it offers a wonderful glimpse of a golden age of travel. On arrival in Coonoor you will be met and driven on to the temple city of Madurai, where you can enjoy in evening at leisure.

Heritage Madurai
Breakfast

DAY 4: MADURAI

DAY 4: MADURAI

Your discovery of Madurai begins this morning with a fascinating Story Trail through the streets, a chance to enjoy a more whimsical view of a city that has flourished here since the 2nd century BC. This afternoon you then experience the rich vibrancy and colour of the Hindu religion with a visit the Tirumalai Nyak Palace and the magnificent 16th century Sri Meenakshi Temple. Spend some time exploring the temple with your guide before watching the daily closing ceremony involving music and chanting.

Heritage Madurai
Breakfast

DAY 6: MADURAI - KARAIKUDI - CHETTINAD

DAY 6: MADURAI - KARAIKUDI - CHETTINAD

The Chettinad region is the traditional homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars, wealthy merchants who were known for their opulent displays of wealth. Leaving Madurai after breakfast your first port of call will be the ancient streets and antique markets of Karaikudi, a heritage town famed for its palatial limestone houses and its distinctive cuisine. This afternoon then sees you joining a cooking class under the expert guidance of a local chef, where you will learn how to prepare and make some classic Chettinad dishes.

Visalam
Breakfast

DAY 7: CHETTINAD

DAY 7: CHETTINAD

After breakfast this morning you'll depart for a half-day tour of the nearby villages of Kanadugathan. Here you have an opportunity to visit the traditional tile makers of the famous Athangudi floor tiles, whose designs and production still follow traditions that have been handed down through the generations. Following this you then pay a visit to Chettinad's old railway station, a local weaving centre and the famous Chettinad mansions.

Visalam
Breakfast

DAY 8: CHETTINAD - THANJAVUR

DAY 8: CHETTINAD - THANJAVUR

Departing for Thanjavur after breakfast you'll travel by way of a roadside village dedicated to the Hindu deity, Ayyanar, one of Tamil Nadu's guardian folk deities. Thousands of terracotta horses flank the roadside and there will be an opportunity to visit the temple before continuing towards the royal city of Thanjavur. One of the oldest cities in India and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this afternoon provides an opportunity to visit Thanjavur's famous Brihadeshwara Temple and Fort, one of India's most magnificent architectural monuments.

Svatma
Breakfast

DAY 9: THANJAVUR - KUMBAKONAM

DAY 9: THANJAVUR - KUMBAKONAM

Continuing your exploration of Thanjavur this morning you'll pay a visit to Tanjore Palace, whose galleries house a large collection of Chola bronzes, Tanjore painting and precious stones. A visit to a bronze works and a Veena (traditional Indian musical instrument) making centre is then followed by a short drive on to the 'temple city' of Kumbakakonam. Breaking the journey en route at Darasuram, you'll have an opportunity to visit the UNESCO temple of Airavatesvara, built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century.

Mantra Koodam
Breakfast

DAY 10: KUMBAKONAM: THARANGAMBADI

DAY 10: KUMBAKONAM: THARANGAMBADI

Formerly known as Tranquebar, the coastal town of Tharangambadi was once home to the first Danish trading post in India. Established in 1620, and eventually sold on to the British East India Company, the colony was home to the second largest Danish fort ever constructed (Fort Dansborg). Your visit today will include the imposing ramparts and bastions of the fort, as well as the New Jerusalem Church and the Tranquebar Museum, which is home to an impressive collection of 17th and 18th century antiquities and relics.

Mantra Koodam
Breakfast

DAY 11: KUMBAKONAM - CHIDAMBARAM TEMPLE - PONDICHERRY

DAY 11: KUMBAKONAM - CHIDAMBARAM TEMPLE - PONDICHERRY

You head next towards India's French Riviera and the bustling city of Pondicherry, one of South India's most popular destinations. The drive takes you by way of the huge towers and intricate carvings of the Chidambaram Temple, whose 10th century origins make this one of the oldest surviving active temples in South India. On arrival in Pondicherry the rest of the day is free to enjoy the city's rich mix of French and Tamil influences.

Palais De Mahe
Breakfast

DAY 12: PONDICHERRY

DAY 12: PONDICHERRY

This morning discover the Tamil and French historic quarters of Pondicherry on a guided walking tour, stopping by such sights as the 17th century church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, founded by one of the most influential ashrams in all India. Finish the morning 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. After returning to the hotel, the afternoon then sees you setting out on a food tour, savouring the stories and flavours of a city whose tastes have been refined and reinvented during centuries of trade and tradition.

Palais De Mahe
Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 13: PONDICHERRY - MAHABALIPURAM

DAY 13: PONDICHERRY - MAHABALIPURAM

Today you will drive north to the beautiful coastal town of Mahabalipuram. Lying beside the waters of the Bay of Bengal sits the once great port city of Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that can trace it origins back to the 7th century. Built by the kings of the Pallava dynasty and famed for its seven Rathas (temple chariots), it is home to some of the earliest examples of Dravidian architecture on the subcontinent including the magnificent Shore Temple, one of the oldest stone buildings in India. After visiting the site, the rest of the day is at leisure.  

Taj Fishermans Cove
Breakfast

DAY 14: MAHABALIPURAM

DAY 14: MAHABALIPURAM

Located close to the beach, today offers up a chance to relax and reflect on the journey, with a free day beside the picturesque waters of the Bay of Bengal.

Taj Fishermans Cove
Breakfast

DAY 15: MAHABALIPURAM - DEPART CHENNAI

DAY 15: MAHABALIPURAM - DEPART CHENNAI

Transfer to Chennai in time to connect with onward flight.

Breakfast

SUGGESTED ACCOMMODATION

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

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

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

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 & KARNATAKA HIGHLIGHTS (15 DAYS) £2,965

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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