Explore the best of Southern India, travelling from Chennai on the east coast and ending in Kochi on the west coast. Discover the coastal region from Chennai down to Pondicherry before taking in some exquisite UNESCO listed temples in the state of Tamil Nadu. End in the idyllic coastal town of Kochi, full of history and fantastic flavours.
Chennai - Mahabalipuram. Saturday. Welcome to Southern India! On arrival at the airport you’ll be transferred to our hotel in Mahabalipuram, which is around a 90 minute drive away. The rest of the day is free to explore. Perhaps visit the giant Krishna’s Butterball - this 250 ton boulder is perched on a slope - and looks like it could roll down at any moment, when in fact it has stood here for 1,200 years.
We start our day meeting the rest of our group and guide for a welcome meeting at 8:00 before visiting the ancient city of Kanchipuram to see some of its impressive temple sites. Explore the northern Shiva temples and some of the 15 temples dedicated to the god Vishnu.
In the afternoon we return to Mahabalipuram and delight in a tour of the town’s highlights. We’ll explore the impressive Shore Temple overlooking the beautiful Bay of Bengal before continuing to the world’s largest bas-relief carving, Arjuna’s Penance, which tells the story of the descent of the sacred Ganges from the heavens to Earth. Our final stop is to the Five Rathas, five giant temples that were all individually carved from five rocks and covered by sand until the British rediscovered them around 200 years ago.
Overnight: Mahabalipuram | Breakfast
Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry. This morning we depart Mahabalipuram and travel to the former colonial city of Pondicherry, where the French influence is still visible in the architecture. Visit Pondicherry Beach and the beautiful 19th century Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
Overnight: Pondicherry | Breakfast
Pondicherry - Tanjore. After breakfast we head away from the coastal Pondicherry to an important centre of South Indian religion, art and architecture - Tanjore (Thanjavur). En route we'll visit temples in the towns of Chidambaram, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Darssuram. Continue to the UNESCO-listed Airavateswara Temple and marvel at the stone carvings here before we reach Tanjore, our final stop for the day, for an afternoon at leisure.
Overnight: Tanjore | Breakfast
Tanjore - Madurai. This morning we discover the ancient fortified town of Tanjore, with a guided tour exploring the glorious history dating back more than 1,500 years. Take in the incredible Brihadishwara Temple. The dome on top of this giant temple was hauled into place in a similar way to the construction of the pyramids in Egypt.
Continue to Madurai this afternoon, where we check in to our hotel, before making our way to Meenakshi Temple to enjoy an Aarti Ceremony, a Hindu ritual of worship, where candles are lit and songs are sung in honour of the gods
Overnight: Madurai | Breakfast
Enjoy a half day city tour of Madurai today, taking in highlights including the impressive Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal temple and Thirupparankunram Murugan, which is cut straight into the rock. Gaze in awe at this colourful site before our tour ends at the bustling Madurai bazaar.
Overnight: Madurai | Breakfast
Madurai - Trichy - Kochi. Leave Madurai today and stop at Ranganathaswamy Temple. This colourful temple is located on an island in the river and is one of the largest functioning Hindu temples in the world. Our next stop is the most prominent landmark in the city: the famous Rock Fort Temple in Trichy (Tiruchirappalli). Originally a temple, its strategic location on top of a giant ancient rock meant that it became an important fortification in the 16th century. In the evening we board the overnight train to Kochi.
Overnight: Overnight Train | Breakfast
On arrival in Kochi this morning you’ll be transferred to our hotel. The rest of today is free to explore Kochi as you please. Why not enjoy a Kathakali dance show? This traditional form of dance originated in Kerala and is known for its exciting costumes and use of make up.
Sunday. Our Indian adventure comes to an end today with an included departure transfer to the airport.
PREFER A PRIVATE TOUR OR TO EXTEND YOUR STAY?
• This tour can be arranged exclusively for you and your family or friends on a private basis, by paying a private tour supplement. Please contact us for details.
• Extend your stay in this vibrant country, view our selection of add-ons and short stays.
• For information about visas, top travel tips, best time to travel and much more, browse our dedicated travel guide.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates marked with a 'G' are operating. All departure dates from 1 Apr 2023 are guaranteed to operate when there are 2 persons booked on the tour. Prior to this date a departure is guaranteed with 4 persons. 'Twin Share' prices are per person when there are 2 people sharing a room. 'Single Room' prices are applicable to solo travellers or anyone wanting the privacy of a single room.
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard.
MGM Eastwood , Mahabalipuram
Sprawled across 3 acres of lush landscaped gardens and swaying palm fronds, this resort features quaint pathways leading to its spacious guestrooms. Once inside, you’ll find the rooms are well-equipped with modern amenities, including free WiFi and 24-hour room service. Other dining options include the Virundhu Restaurant, which offers all-day dining on a selection of continental, Indian and Oriental fare. The azure blue swimming pool is also particularly inviting and the perfect place to spend a leisurely afternoon cooling off.
Hotel Mamalla Heritage, Mahabalipuram
Located a stone’s throw away from Mahabalipuram’s Temples, the Hotel Mamalla Heritage offers the perfect location for exploring the towns highlights. Each air-conditioned guest room features a TV, en-suite facilities and 24-hour room service. Guests can enjoy a dip in the swimming pool before sampling some local delicacies in the onsite restaurant.
Hotel Atithi, Pondicherry
With its great selection of facilities, this modern hotel has marked itself one of the finest hotels in Pondicherry. Each room is fully equipped with all the essential amenities, with the added perks of 24-hour room service and free WiFi. Guests can enjoy the in-house gym, rejuvenating spa and an outdoor pool offering amazing views over the city. There are plenty of options when it comes to dining, with a lounge bar, two multi-cuisine restaurants and a fun-filled rooftop bar. If that wasn’t enough, Hotel Atithi is also well-located close to many of the top attractions in this heritage city.
Hotel Sangam, Thanjavur
Set among the historic temples of Thanjavur, Hotel Sangam offers you a peaceful and comfortable stay. Its guestrooms are spacious and feature modern interiors with large windows allowing for plenty of natural light. Enjoy local and international cuisine at the Thillana Restaurant, where you’ll find both guests and locals alike, or opt for a light snack and cool beer in the Layam Bar. An outdoor pool serves the perfect place to kick back and relax after a day of sightseeing. And you can always expect a warm greeting from staff, who are more than happy to share their knowledge of the area.
GRT Regency, Madurai
The GRT Regency is a modern, tastefully designed hotel with comfortable rooms that have been elegantly decorated with just a splash of colour. The hotel has extensive business and conferencing facilities as well as a modern gym and health centre to ensure that visitors want for nothing during their stay. Dining options are allow guests to choose from a range of different cuisines including traditional Indian and international. The hotel is only 2 km from the city centre and 3 km from the railway station.
Casino Hotel, Kochi
Casino Hotel is a modern hotel located on Willingdon island, set in tropical gardens it is a beautiful blend of art deco and colonial Indian architectural styles. With a large pool and and spacious comfortable rooms this hotel offers a fantastic experience when in Kochi. Casino Hotel boasts 2 restaurants, a 24-hour health club as well as free wifi in public areas.