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Kerala & Exotic Southern India

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Unforgettable tour of Southern India, visit cities, temples and tea plantations.

You are viewing the 2021 itinerary. Select your departure year
20202021
16 days From £2,595 per person
Low Deposit

Take advantage of our low deposit offer of £69pp on all 2021 tours when you book on or before 30th June 2020.

Terms & Conditions

2021 Tour code: GCJ21

About the tour

During this truly unforgettable tour of southern India, we visit the cities, temples and tea plantations of the Tamil Nadu region before heading to Kerala. We explore the captivating city of Kochi, relax on Kerala's beaches and cruise through the backwaters of Vambanad Lake.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Days 1-3 - London and Mysuru

We depart London Heathrow on our overnight flight to Bengaluru, travelling via Dubai. Arriving on Day 2, we transfer by coach to Mysuru.

Here, we enjoy a fullday tour on Day 3, exploring the cultural icons of the city such as St Philomena's Church, a large neo-Gothic cathedral inspired by Cologne Cathedral in Germany, and Mysuru Palace, a beautiful and intricately decorated building that boasts Hindu, Muslim, Gothic, and Rajput architectural influences. We move on to Srirangapatna, known for its temples and forts and as the site of a major battle between the British and Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore. We pause for lunch before making our way to the local market of Chamundi Hills, and the Bull Temple, which features a gigantic 16-foot granite statue of a bull.

Mysore Royal Palace
Days 4-6 - The Nilgiri Mountain Railway and Ooty

This morning we travel to Ooty by coach, where we stay for 2 nights. This afternoon is at leisure. On Day 5, we explore the Botanical Garden with its vibrant displays planted in typical English-style terraced beds, and Doddabetta Peak that offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and reserve forests. We stop for lunch at a local restaurant before a visit to St Stephen's Church.

On Day 6, we travel by toy train to Conoor and enjoy a tour of this enchanting town before visiting a local tea factory. Across the Nilgiris, isolated colonial mansions dot hillside tea plantations, a key indicator of the region's main industry. This mountainous area has been producing tea for more than 100 years, in particular a variety known for its distinctive dark colour and strong aroma. We pause for lunch at a local restaurant before boarding the UNESCOlisted Nilgiri Mountain Railway, one of the world's steepest operational rack-andpinion railways. The steam-hauled service takes us through forest-covered hills to Mettupalayam, where we board a coach to Coimbatore for an overnight stay.

Ooty
Days 7-8 - Kochi

Following a morning at leisure, we board our train to the captivating city of Kochi. We discover Kochi on a guided tour on Day 8. Sometimes known as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea', Kochi is a fascinating city to explore. Our tour includes the St Francis Church in Fort Kochi, one of the earliest European churches in the country where Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, was originally buried before his body was carried back to Lisbon. We also visit the Dutch Palace - built by the Portuguese in 1555 then renovated and extended by the Dutch in 1663. We experience the daily life of the local people with a visit to the Dhobi Khana, a sprawling open air laundry where hundreds of clothes are washed every day and hung out to dry. This evening, we are treated to a Kathakali dance performance. Kathakali is the traditional dance-drama of Kerala and combines bright colourful costumes, ornate headdresses, very deliberate and ritualistic dance movements, and live music.

Kochi
Days 9-10 - Kerala houseboat cruise

On Day 9, we enjoy a guided tour of the Jewish Synagogue, home to an array of treasures including The Great Scrolls of the Old Testament, before we transfer to Alleppey. Here we board a houseboat, or kettuvallam, for a scenic cruise discovering Kerala's naturally idyllic backwaters. Constructed using traditional materials, these incredible boats were once used to shuttle goods, including exotic spices and rice, between Cochin and Kuttanad, and could carry up to 30 tonnes of cargo. We begin at Vembanad Lake, the longest lake in India. As we glide serenely through the bewildering maze of canals and channels, we enjoy lunch on board. We disembark at Kumarakom for an overnight stay at the Coconut Lagoon Resort.

On Day 10, we continue to Thekkady, where your afternoon is free.

Kerala Houseboat
Days 11-13 - Kerala’s spices and Madurai

Today's excursion takes us to an aromatic spice plantation, where we enjoy a guided walking tour uncovering the secrets of southern India's spices. This afternoon we head to Lake Periyar, a stunning lake in a large wildlife sanctuary, for a cruise across its peaceful waters.

Day 12 takes us to Madurai and we continue to a nearby village inhabited by artisans who specialise in sculpting aesthetic idols and puppets out of clay. This evening we venture out to the Meenakshi Temple. Here, we are invited to watch the 'puja', the Hindu ritual of offering prayers. Each day the priests symbolically bathe, dress, and feed the idol of God Shiva and we witness the final puja of the day as Shiva is put to bed alongside his wife, Goddess Meenakshi, to whom the temple is dedicated.

We take a guided tour of Madurai on Day 13, which includes the impressive 17thcentury Thirumalai Nayak Palace and the Gandhi Memorial Museum.

Madurai
Day 14 - Chennai

After breakfast today, we take an internal flight to Chennai, formerly known as Madras, a metropolis within the Bay of Bengal. An important port during the colonial era, Chennai's architecture and culture bear pronounced Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British influences, while being rooted to local traditions. We explore the San Thome Cathedral Basilica, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Kapaleeshwarar Temple, originally constructed in the 7th century, and the Madras War Cemetery on Marina Beach. We also pay a visit to the city's flower market in George Town, soaking up the myriad of colours and fragrances.

Chennai
Days 15-16 - Chennai and London

There is an optional excursion* this morning to Mamallapuram, known for its UNESCO-listed temples (payable locally). Otherwise, enjoy the day at leisure before we transfer to the airport for our flight to London, via Dubai, landing in London Heathrow on Day 16.

* Please note: passengers flying to a regional airport will leave on the morning of Day 15 and therefore the optional excursion will not be available.

Mamallapuram

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Visa requirements
Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Hotel Taj Coromandel, Chennai

Hotel Taj Coromandel, Chennai

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Vivanta Coimbatore, Coimbatore

Vivanta Coimbatore, Coimbatore

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Taj Malabar Resort & Spa, Kochi

Taj Malabar Resort & Spa, Kochi

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Coconut Lagoon

Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom

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The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai, Madurai

The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai, Madurai

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Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Mysore

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Mysore, Mysuru

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Taj Savoy Hotel, Ooty

Taj Savoy Hotel, Ooty

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Spice Village, Thekkady

Spice Village, Thekkady

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Train

Nilgiri Mountain Railway

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Mumbai

Reviews

90% of travellers would recommend this tour

Based on 10 verified reviews

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Anonymous

Submitted 05/03/2020

Excellent except flight arrangements with inconveniently timed layovers in Dubai prevent me giving 5 stars

Mrs P Emmett

Submitted 19/04/2019

Very well planned itinerary with lots of interesting places and happenings.

Mr B Whittingham

Submitted 18/04/2019

A thoroughly enjoyable tour from start to finish

Anonymous

Submitted 18/04/2019

We thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The hotels were first class and the tour Manager excellent

Mrs S Britton

Submitted 18/12/2018

Very enjoyable but a lot of travelling. Good to great hotels.

Ms A Jardine

Submitted 13/11/2018

Well organised, friendly and approachable tour manager, knowledgable local guide, great hotels, fabulous food and lots of different locations.

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Worldwide Holidays by Rail 2020/21

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Kerala & Exotic Southern India

Unforgettable tour of Southern India, visit cities, temples and tea plantations.

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