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grand south india tour

Discover India: 
the grand tour of South India

This tailor-made tour of South India will seduce you with the variety of its landscapes and regional cultures: from the colourful crowds of Tamil Nadu to the tropical coasts of Kerala, from the green heights of the Western Ghats to the monotonous plateaus of Karnataka.

South India is a culture unchanged for centuries and a land inhabited by a welcoming people: the Dravidians. You will find here a certain sweetness of life and a climate which does not know excesses. You will cross a land of coconut trees, sugar cane, mango trees, banana trees, rubber trees, spices, tropical jungles, canals and rivers. A country where dance, music and theatre are expressed through masks and flamboyant costumes. 

In short, the magic of South India is a complete change of scenery for either the connoisseurs of the subcontinent or those who are coming for the first time.

The grand South India Tour

21 Days / 20 Nights

Stops in Chennai - Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry - Tanjore - Chettinad - Madurai - Munnar -  Thekkady - Backwaters  - Kochi - Mysore - Hassan - Hampi

grand south india tour

Day 1 • Chennai (formerly Madras)

Arrival at Chennai international airport. Whatever the time, we are at the arrival gate to greet and transfer you to your hotel.

Day 2 • Chennai

Full day dedicated to the visit of Chennai, the capital city of the Tamil country. A city of tradition which is now the 4th biggest metropolis of India. You will discover the waterfront dominated by Fort Saint-George, the first British fortress in India, before a stroll in the district of Mylapore where Saint-Thomas cathedral basilica stands as well as the venerable temple of Kapalishwara.

Day 3 • Chennai - Mahabalipuram

In the morning, you will take the road towards Mahabalipuram. On the way, you will visit one of the seven holy cities of India: Kanchipuram. Former capital of the Pallavas, it is nicknamed as the city of 1000 temples, which are masterpieces of Dravidian architecture. You will visit the temples of Ekambaranathar and Kailasanatha.

Day 4 • Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry

In the morning, visit of Mahabalipuram monuments. Built in the 7th and 8th centuries during the Pallava dynasty, all of them were carved in the rocks along the Coromandel Coast. After the visits, continue towards Pondicherry. On arrival, check in at the hotel and stroll through the "white city" which still retains the atmosphere of the old French colonies.

Day 5 • Pondicherry

Full day tour of the city, now called the "Riviera of the East". You will discover the waterfront (Beach Road, or Promenade), the French Quarter and its old residences (the Alliance Française, the Consulate, the French High School, Raj Niwas, ....), as well as the churches of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of the Angels.

Day 6 • Pondicherry - Tanjore

Morning drive towards Tanjore. On the way, in the heart of the Chola country and the flat landscapes of the Kaveri river delta, you will find three famous villages that are home to beautiful temples built in the 11th and 12th centuries. 

Day 7 • Tanjore - Chettinad

In the morning, you will visit the Saraswathi Mahal Palace, built in the 17th century and home to a superb collection of Chola bronze and, in its library, more than 30,000 European and Indian manuscripts written on paper and palm leaves.

Then you will depart to the Chettinad area. En route, you will explore Trichy including the temples of the Rockfort complex, out of which one is considered the largest Hindu temple in India.

Continue to Chettinad. With a rich cultural and architectural heritage, the area is also renowned for hosting large houses made of Burmese marble and teak and built in the 18th century.

Day 8 • Chettinad - Madurai

In the morning, you will visit the village then will drive on to Madurai. Located in the heart of Tamil country, it is one of the oldest cities of India. A major literary centre during the first three centuries of the Christian era, it is sometimes called Athens of the East because of its architectural richness in temples. In the evening, after check in at the hotel, rest of the day at leisure.

Day 9 • Madurai 

In the morning, visit the Tirumalay Nayak Palace. This gigantic palace was built in the 17th century and its Indo-Muslim architecture reflects an Italian influence. Continue with the visit of villages where local specialities are made before going to discover the Meenakshi temple, one of the most beautiful in South India, the interior surface of which covers 6 hectares. Its inner hall has 985 columns and the ceilings of the huge galleries surrounding the sanctuary are covered with frescoes. In the evening, you will attend Shiva's ceremony.

Day 10 • Madurai - Munnar

In the morning, you will depart towards the mountains of Kerala and the city of Munnar which once housed the summer residence of the British governor. It remains little-known but it is full of charm because of its location in the middle of tea plantations. Upon arrival, check-in and rest of the day free. 

Day 11 • Munnar 

Tea, coffee and cardamom form natural carpets in Munnar as the plantations where they are grown are vast and numerous. A cycle ride or a walk is still the best way to discover them and to appreciate the atmosphere of this climatic station very appreciated by the first British settlers. You can also go as far as the Madupatty dam, from where you can enjoy a beautiful panorama over the mountainous landscape.

Day 12 • Munnar - Thekkady

In the morning you will depart for the "Periyar Lake Wildlife Sanctuary of Thekkady" through the tea and rubber plantations. The sanctuary, which stretches over the Eastern Ghats is located in one of the most beautiful protected areas in South India. After check in at the hotel, rest of the day at leisure for walk to the village and the temple, giving you an insight into local life.

Day 13 • Thekkady - Kumarakom

In the morning, leave for Kumarakom, a village on the shores of Lake Vembanad where the sunsets are magnificent. Here you will board a houseboat for a tour of the canals that form the famous Backwaters of Kerala. This is an excellent opportunity to experience the special way of life of the local people, dictated by this unique natural environment. Lunch, dinner and overnight stay are provided on board.  

Day 14 • Kumarakom - Kochi  

You will disembark after breakfast and take time to visit Kumarakom before continuing on to Kochi (ex-Cochin) and where you will arrive in the late morning.

The afternoon will be free to stroll through the old Kochi market streets lined with the old spice stalls. At the end of the afternoon, you will attend a Kathakali show, a form of dance theatre originating in Kerala.

Day 15 • Kochi 

This day will be dedicated to the visit of the "museum city" as it is called, and more specifically the historical center in the Fort Kochi area.  There stand the Synagogue dating back to 1568 and St Francis church the oldest European church where Vasco de Gama was laid to rest in 1524 before being repatriated to Portugal 14 years later. The rest of the day will be at leisure for you to walk in the small narrow streets of old Kochi that are lined with the colourful old mansions of the spice merchants.

Day 16 • Kochi - Bangalore - Mysore

In the morning, transfer to the domestic terminal for the flight to the state of Karnataka and its capital, Bangalore. On arrival, meet and greet and continue by road to Mysore, the ancient capital and lush green city, famous for its jasmine and sandalwood and the splendour of its palaces. Shortly before arrival, stop at the small island of Srirangapatnam on the Kaveri River, known as the tomb of Tipu Sultan, India's greatest opponent of British rule. Its summer palace, the Daria Daulat Bagh, contains beautiful murals depicting the battles of the "Tiger of Mysore".

Day 17 • Mysore

In the morning you will visit the Chamundeswari Temple located on the Chamundi hill overlooking the city before discovering the most famous palace of the city: the Maharajas' Palace, riot of mirrors, mosaics, coloured glasses, gilding, mahogany ceilings, solid silver doors, wrought columns ... After the visit, you will go on foot, accompanied by a guide, to discover the alleys of the old city and in particular the flower and incense markets.

Day 18 • Mysore - Hassan

In the morning departure to Hassan, a very ancient city whose history dates back to the 11th century. Before settling in at the hotel, you will drive to Belur and Halebid, the two great cities of the Hoysala rulers, 17 km apart and famous for their temples, masterpieces of the 12th century Hoysala sculptors. You will check in at the hotel in Hassan at the end of the day.

Day 19 • Hassan - Hampi

In the morning, depart for a long day's drive north. Your destination is the city of Hampi, one of the most extraordinary archaeological sites in India.

Day 20 • Hampi 

Full day sightseeing tour of the last capital of the Vijaynagar kingdom which reached its peak in the 14th century. Surrounded by seven walls, Hampi managed to contain the advance of Islam until its conquest in 1565. The superb remains of this brilliant city are today scattered in a setting of strange beauty and have been listed as a World Heritage site since 1986.

Day 21 • Hampi - Hubbli - Chennai 
In the morning, transfer by road to Hubbli and its airport from where you will take a flight back to Chennai and home. 

Ideas for magic south

This tour is only a suggested itinerary; it can be booked as is or used as a starting point to create your own custom-made tour in South India. 

- Do the tour the other way round.
- Add / replace a few days to enjoy ayurvedic treatments for which South India is renowned.
- Plan to stay with local people at one or more of the stopovers for a full experience of the local life.
- Add a few days for a beach holiday in Kerala.
- You can go there all year round. Ho
wever, we recommend December and January for the best weather. 


Please contact us for a tailor-made quote, excluding international flights.

Other ideas for Tours in South India

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