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Kerala & Exotic Southern India

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

From £2,595 per person


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.

The itinerary for your journey
Tour highlights

What’s included

Days 1-3 - London and Mysuru
Mysore Royal Palace

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.

Days 4-6 - The Nilgiri Mountain Railway and Ooty
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.

Days 7-8 - Kochi
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.

Days 9-10 - Kerala houseboat cruise
Kerala Houseboat

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.

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

Day 14 - Chennai
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.

Days 15-16 - Chennai and London
Mamallapuram

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.

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 Dates
30 January 2021From £2,695
9 October 2021From £2,595
6 November 2021From £2,595

All prices are per person and assume full occupancy of the room.
Please always refer to the website for up-to-date prices and availability.

Trains
Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Tamil Nadu's Nilgiri Mountain Railway is one of the world's steepest rack-and-pinion railways. The route was established over a century ago and the cogwheel-driven Blue Mountain Express is now UNESCO World Heritage listed.

Hotels
Hotel Taj Coromandel, Chennai
Hotel Taj Coromandel, Chennai

Located in the heart of Chennai's business and commercial district, the 5-Star Taj Coromandel is one of the city's best known landmarks. The superb hotel has a large landscaped swimming pool, a fitness centre, a spa and wellness centre, hot tub, two restaurants, a bar and sun terrace. Room facilities include a TV and DVD player, bathrobes and slippers, tea/coffee making facilities, a minibar and Wi-Fi internet access.

Vivanta Coimbatore, Coimbatore
Vivanta Coimbatore, Coimbatore

In the centre of the second largest city in Tamil Nadu, the Vivanta Coimbatore is intrinsically modern in style and atmosphere. The hotel features a lounge with scenic views of Coimbatore, a large outdoor pool, spa treatments and a 24-hour fitness centre. Three restaurant dining experiences are offered and private meals are bookable with the executive chef, Vijayan. Rooms feature a large LCD television, telephone, electronic safe, high-speed wireless internet (payable locally), complimentary tea and coffee making facilities, healthy mini-bar, room service, and an en suite bathroom.

Taj Malabar Resort & Spa, Kochi
Taj Malabar Resort & Spa, Kochi

In Kochi, we stay at the beautiful 5-Star Taj Malabar Resort & Spa, set amidst landscaped gardens with a lovely view over Kochi harbour. There is a choice of 5 restaurants and eateries, serving delicious cuisine ranging from Thai to Italian. There is also a jetty bar, a 24-hour gym, a beauty salon and an outdoor swimming pool. The rooms include a television, tea & coffee making facilities, an in-room safe, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom
Coconut Lagoon

Our hotel in Kumarakom is the beautiful Cocunut Lagoon. This delightful hotel is located on the verdant shores of the azure Vembanad Lake, making this the perfect place in which to relax after a long day of exploring the region. The restaurant at the resort offers traditional 'Kerala food' in a traditionally decorated and airy setting, and the rooms are decorated in neutral tones with beautiful wooden accents.

The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai, Madurai
The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai, Madurai

Situated in acres of landscaped gardens on Pasumalai Hill, the 4-Star Gateway Hotel Pasumalai is a fine example of colonial architecture. The hotel boasts a number of facilities such as a fitness centre, a swimming pool, an Ayurveda centre and a nature trail. The rooms are equipped with amenities such as a TV, telephone, safe, minibar, hairdryer and tea & coffee making facilities.

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Mysore, Mysuru
Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Mysore

The 5-Star Radisson Blue Plaza in Mysuru offers stunning views of the Chamundi Hills. Boasting a fitness centre and outdoor swimming pool, the hotel ensures that guests are comfortable. Each room is air-conditioned and Wi-Fi enabled and has tea & coffee making facilities, a safe, ironing facilities, a hairdryer, a television, and a magnifying mirror.

Taj Savoy Hotel, Ooty
Taj Savoy Hotel, Ooty

Quietly seated on hillside near to Ooty in the Nilgiri region, The Savoy Hotel's accommodation comes in the form of colonial style cottages nested in six acres of bright, landscaped gardens. The cosy rooms feature a telephone, music player and satellite television, and most have their own fireplace. 24-hour room service, internet connection and laundry are offered. Exercise at the badminton, basketball, volleyball courts and fitness centre, or relax at the Ayurvedic spa.

Spice Village, Thekkady
Spice Village, Thekkady

Surrounded by mountains and spice plantations, the unique Spice Village Resort boasts modern amenities in a quiet natural setting. Check in and enjoy a delightful herbal tea, that you can custom make yourself, and enjoy the leisure facilities on offer here. These include Tennis courts, Badminton courts, an outdoor pool, and a library. There is also a restaurant and a bar. The rooms are en-suite throughout, and traditionally decorated with elephant grass roofs, and feature coffee making facilities and a minibar. 

 

Upgrades

We offer a selection of upgrades and 'add-ons' designed to help you make the most of your holiday - and make it even easier!

Upgrade your flight to Premium Economy
Flight Upgrade

• Upgrade your flight to Premium Economy from £400 per person each way

London Hotels
London hotels

Spending a night in London before your tour can make such a difference to the first day of your holiday - you can arrive in the capital in good time, relaxed and ready to join your Tour Manager the next morning. You may even want to take in a show on the West End, or dine in one of London's famous restaurants. Perhaps on your return to London, you would like to break your journey with an overnight stay before continuing home.

We are able to book a wide range of hotels in central London or, for our holidays beginning with a flight, at Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester Airport for the night before or after your holiday. The hotels listed below are some of the more popular hotels our customers book in Central London, others are available on request.

Hotel       Room Rate From Price 
The Ambassador Hotel      From £65 per person

Above prices are approximate, subject to availability, and per room per night based on two people sharing. If you require a quote for single occupancy at any of the hotels please contact us on 01904 734 805. 

UK rail connections
UK train tickets

Buying tickets for UK train services can be a tricky business - there are so many fares to choose from, each with different rules and restrictions. As you are connecting with an international departure, we strongly recommend that you book a fully flexible ticket to ensure that should the departure times for your holiday change, your rail ticket can allow for these changes.

We can book fully-flexible UK rail tickets from your local station to join your holiday whether this be a European holiday from St Pancras or a UK holiday. The prices are competitive and tickets are not restricted to a particular train or time of day, and in most cases offer you a free choice of routes.

For an up to date quote from your local station, please ask one of our Tour Advisors.

This page was printed from redirect.greatrail.com/tours/kerala-southern-india-tour/#GCJ21 on 3 July 2020.
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