Southern India Tamil Nadu and Kerala

Southern India Tamil Nadu and Kerala

Asia

India

Kerala- Southern India

14 Nights Flight

Varied Meal Plan

From £2525 PP Based on 2 sharing

Travel dates: 01 March 2019 - 15 March 2019

Tamil Nadu and Kerala provides a fantastic view of southern India, join Battered and see a side of India less visited.

 

We at Battered Suitcase recognise that our community is well-travelled and looking for new and meaningful adventures. By combining specialist knowledge in heritage-travel with understanding of your needs, hobbies and interests, we will take away the stress of travel preparations and provide you with itineraries tailored to your personality. We are your Partners in the Art of Travel, ensuring that you can enjoy experiences carefully designed for you. By delivering a bespoke product, tailor-made and meticulously planned around your needs, we hope to be your tour operator of choice.

All our world heritage tour collections are tried and tested by our team, who tirelessly conduct field research. Battered Suitcase upholds the highest integrity when creating tour packages, by partnering with local providers ethically and responsibly.

How does the process work ?

Once you have looked through the tour suggestion, talk to us either via email or by telephone or even use our contact form. We will then discuss your likes and dislikes, your passions and areas of interest, even levels of fitness required for tours, remember, unlike an on-line booking site we have experienced all our tours and can offer extensive advice. We can also arrange theatre and restaurant bookings and additional tour content, in fact anything that a normal concierge service would provide.

Once we have included all your requirements into your tour we send you a detailed and fully costed itinerary. This can be further adjusted as many times to suit. Only when you are totally happy with all your arrangements will we proceed with your booking confirmations. We do not charge a planning fee for this service.

The prices quoted on this tour are for specific departure dates.  Because we will tailor design the tour around your preferences the pricing may fluctuate, but full transparency is provided before you book with Battered-Suitcase.com

 

Trip Information

Tamil Nadu | Kerala

Chennai | Mahabalipuram | Pondicherry | Tanjore | Madurai | Periyar | Kumarakom | Cochin

 

Day 1  Namaste India! Chennai

Arrive in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Our representative will greet you at the exit terminal of Chennai International Airport. You will be assisted with your transfer to the hotel.

Overnight at Hotel | Crowne Plaza, Chennai or similar

 

Day 2 Chennai – Mahabalipuram (56 km; 1.5 hours approx.)

Highlights: Kalakshetra, Georgetown, Fort St. George, Mylapore, Kapaleshwarar Temple, St. Thomas Basilica

Your South India tour begins! Tamil Nadu is one of the largest metropolis in India. Tamil Nadu cradles India in the south and has played an integral role in India’s commerce since the colonial era. The region enjoys a highly strategic and commercially pliant geographic position. It is nestled by three fertile rivers and lies on the trade route through the Bay of Bengal.  Tamil Nadu is also a rich cultural hub. Historically the Indian empires which ruled the state enjoyed a zeal for art and literature. The pattern has followed through in the contemporary era; Tamil Nadu having won Indian global accolades in the classical performing arts. It is also home to the multi-talented music maestro AR Rahman, who was lauded at the Oscars for producing the original soundtrack for the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

Today we start the day with an introduction to Indian Classical Dance and Music. We will visit the esteemed grounds at Kalakshetra, an iconic dance school in Chennai (visiting hours between 0800 hrs. – 1000 hrs). Kalakshetra has witnessed the launch of several key artists, who have carried the torch for Indian Classical Performing Arts on a global platform. We will explore the academy grounds as classes take place, observing the daily rituals. Dance masters calling count to the young dancers, who perform with strings of melodious bells attached to their ankles, their feet movement imitating the sound of the percussion instrument. The academy has an enlightening in-house museum and a craft centre.

Next we embark on a heritage walk into the heart of the city. You will explore the architectural influence of the European invaders. We will walk through the heritage townships of Georgetown and Mylapore and visit the St. Thomas Basilica. The old church holds court atop a panoramic spot of the city the pioneering traveller and explorer Marco Polo once visited.

Later in the day, we leave the high-octane metropolis of Chennai and head towards Mahabalipuram, the ancient seaport of the mighty Pallava Empire.

Overnight at Hotel | Crowne Plaza, Chennai or similar

 

Day 3  Mahabalipuram

Highlights: UNESCO World Heritage City Mahabalipuram, stone-cut temples and shrines, explore the temple town of Kanchipuram

Today, explore Mahabalipuram - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The history of this site dates as far back as the 7th and 8th century, having rightfully gained Mahabalipuram the tag of a UNESCO World Heritage City. Here you explore stone carved ruins, the iconic Shore Temple, Arjuna’s Penance and The Five Raths Shrine. Spend the day at leisure exploring these old stone townships, where powerful kings ruled and empires were forged.

We can arrange for bicycles (on request) to explore the corners of the township, breaking for a refreshing drink of tender coconut water.

Also embark on a day excursion to the sacred city of Kanchipuram, also known as the “city of a thousand temples”. It is one of the seven holy cities in India. This ancient temple town houses some of the most architecturally magnificent temples of Hindu worship. The construction and preservation of the various monuments here passed through the hands of some of the most powerful empires in Indian history, each new king contributing to the magnificence of the architecture and landscape.

Kanchipuram is also a thriving hub of silk saree manufacturing. The craftsmanship from this town is an iconic signature. You will visit the artisans and get an up-close lesson at the process of making a silk saree.

Overnight at Hotel | InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort or similar

 

Day 4  Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry (100 km, 2.5 hours approx.)

Highlights: Fishing village, scenic drive towards the colourful coastline, French quarter of Pondicherry

Early this morning, we take an off-beat excursion to a local fishing village in Mahabalipuram to observe the native lifestyle of the locals. After a leisurely breakfast, as the sun ascends, we head towards Pondicherry.

Later, we have our eyes set on the charming Pondicherry or as the locals say Pondy. This picturesque town is a cultural starburst, where South India meets France!  Pondy was under French rule until 1954 and the architectural influence naturally leans towards the Parisian style. Don’t raise an eyebrow if you hear fluent French being spoken by locals here mixed with the South Indian dialect. The highlight of this sleepy town is the local cultural atmospherics. So, we will ride the wave with walks through the narrow streets, sampling the bohemian local bazaars and rickshaw rides.

Overnight at Hotel | Maison Perumal or similar

 

Day 5  Pondicherry

Highlights: Auroville township, yoga, hand-made paper factory

Pondy is also a spiritual hub. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville township has been a big draw for those seeking meditation and peace. Auroville is an experimental township designed and modelled around the concept of unity. It has had extended support from UNESCO and the organisation has lauded the concept behind the township. 

A yoga class, depending on the number of participants, can be arranged at Auroville. (Yoga sessions at Aurobindo Ashram requires prior permission, based on number of participants). We also recommend a visit to the hand-made paper factory; the diaries and cards here make amazing souvenirs. Those who seek gastronomic meditation can skip Auroville and sample the variety of local pubs on the beachside promenade at Pondicherry.

The best way to experience Pondy is to make it personal. You can venture out on your own, choose which lane you want to lose yourself into and find yourself in another!

Overnight at Hotel | Maison Perumal or similar

 

Day 6 Pondicherry – Tanjore (168 km; 4.5 hours approx.)

Highlights: Enroute to Tanjore we will visit the temple towns of UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Gangai Cholapuram, Darasuram and Kumbakonam

We leave sleepy Pondicherry today and make way our towards Tanjore, an important temple town of Tamil Nadu. En route we will make many stops along the scenic drive to explore some of the key pilgrimage sites of South India.

We start at Gangaikonda Cholapuram, here the Brihadisvara Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This tiny town was once the seat of the Chola Empire which ruled over a major chunk of South India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Cambodia. Next stop is Darasuram, which houses the iconic Airavateshvara Temple, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Together the temples of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Darasuram form the two pillars of the trilogy called the Great Living Chola Temples.

Next stop is Kumbakonam. During the British era, the place was nicknamed the Cambridge of the East, as it was a prominent centre of European as well as Hindu education. Nowdays, Kumbakonam is globally known for the famous Mahamaham festival, which takes place every 12 years. Pilgrims take a holy dip in a spiritual tank to cleanse themselves and the festival sees a high footfall because of the rare dates of the event. Kumbakonam boasts over 188 temples and the splendid colourful gopurams decorate the skylines. It is an essential town of trade as well. Here you will visit a Betel farm and brass and bronze pottery artisans. We will arrive at Tanjore late evening.

Overnight at Hotel | Sangam Hotel or similar

 

Day 7  Tanjore – Madurai (190 km; 5 hours)

Highlights: UNESCO World Heritage Site, classical instrument making workshop, Meenakshi Temple.

Today we start the day with a visit to the third and the most prominent of the Chola temples, the Brihadishwara Temple which is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Brihadishwara Temple was sanctioned and built by Indian ruler Rajaraja whose name translates as King of Kings. The architectural opulence outdoes itself in this structure.

After admiring the temple grounds, we head towards a veena making workshop. A veena is a traditional Indian classical stringed instrument and the design and engineering of it is unique to Indian culture.

Later, we leave the bustling Tanjore and head towards Madurai, arriving there by evening. This evening we visit the Meenakshi Temple, where we will experience the dazzling evening prayer ceremony. 

The historic city of Madurai is known to have been built around a temple. The city is rich with stories of mythology, tales of the powerful South Indian empires, and trade connections with ancient Rome and Greece. Contemporary Madurai is famous for the Meenakshi Temple and jasmine flowers.

After the evening prayers at the temple, we will check-in to our hotel to settle for the night.

Overnight at Hotel | Heritage Madurai or similar

 

Day 8 Madurai – Periyar (140 km; 4 hours approx.)

Highlights: Scenic drive to Periyar, Kerala; en-route visit to grape plantation, warrior dance

Saying goodbye to Tamil Nadu, we change gear to head to a new leg of this journey. The caravan moves towards Periyar. The hilltop region has lush forests and nurtures abundant wildlife. It is home to the famous Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, where elephants rule. Periyar located in Thekkady is also known as a spice plantation hub.

En route we will stop at a vineyard. The fruit has a special place in ancient Indian medicine, with its healing prowess mentioned in documents dating as far back as 1356-1220 BC. In South India, grape plantations were introduced by Christian missionaries around 1832 AD. In contemporary times, the fruits yield high remunerations for the planters. So, we will set about the plantation, exploring the fertile fields.

We’ll arrive in Periyar and have a late lunch (direct payment). This evening, take a front row seat to observe the traditional martial art form of Kerala, performed by trained warriors.  You have the evening at your leisure to enjoy the hotel facilities.

Overnight at Hotel | Niraamaya Retreats Cardamom Club or similar

 

Day 9  Periyar

Highlights: Boat cruise at Periyar National Park, elephant camp, spice plantation visit. 

Nature calls! Start today with an excursion to an elephant village. Here dedicated Mahouts train female elephants for various temple festivals. Enjoy a day getting to know these gentle beasts.

Next, we’ll head towards one of the thriving spice plantations. Explore the vast spread of numerous spices and try to identify them in their raw form!

This evening, as the sun slowly sinks beyond the horizon, enjoy a leisurely boat ride in the protected forest reserve of Periyar. Enjoy the thrill of exploring the wild.

Overnight at Hotel | Niraamaya Retreats Cardamom Club or similar

 

Day 10  Periyar – Kumarakom (120 km; 4 hours approx.)

Highlights: Rubber plantation visit, soothing backwater channels.

Kerala is cushioned on one side by the great Arabian Sea and on the other side by peaceful backwater channels. Kerala backwaters are a unique trail of lakes, lagoons, rivers and canals. These water bodies both connect and divide the villages and farmland situated there. Today, you will head back towards the coast. You’ll settle for the night on the banks of one of these exotic backwater trails in Kumarakom.

En route to Kumarakom, we stop at a rubber plantation and observe the traditional method of collecting sap, which is the raw material for rubber processing.

Check-in at your farm stay, and have the remainder of the day at leisure.

Overnight at Hotel | Philipkutty’s Farm or similar

 

Day 11  Kumarakom

Highlights: Fish auction experience, breakfast with local family, backwater day cruise with traditional lunch. 

It's an early morning start today. You’ll be taking the coastal highway towards a quaint township known as Manakkodam. En-route take in the countryside scene, as villagers wake up for Sunday Mass, dressed in their best. On the way to the village you’ll be stopping to observe the early morning fish auction. The fishermen go into deep waters during the early hours and get back with the haul as day breaks. The natives eagerly await the fresh haul and the fish is sold via an auction. The process is very unique and interesting to watch; the price of fish rises dramatically in just a few short minutes.

At Manakkodam we’ve arranged for a traditional breakfast at a local homestay. The family is warm and welcoming. Enjoy the simple fare laced with big hearted hospitality from the family. Later set about exploring the tiny village.

From Manakkodam we make ourway towards Alleppey. We’ve arranged for a relaxing backwater day cruise on a traditional houseboat. As you float through the emerald green channels, you will glimpse interesting snippets of  local village life. Coconut palms fringe the banks, with bird’s chirpings amplified in the quietness. Let the rhythm of the boat lull your senses, as you observe the routine of the villagers. Lunch will be on board, cooked fresh by the staff.

Overnight at Hotel | Philipkutty’s Farm or similar

 

Day 12  Kumarakom – Kochi (58 KM; 1 hour 30 minutes approx.)

Highlights: Mattancherry Township

After a  morning at leisure arm yourself with a sunhat and your wanderlust shoes and head towards Kochi. We’ll explore the sprawling township of Mattancherry today, starting with the Dutch Palace. The palace has an interesting mix of mural paintings and royal antiques. From here we will head towards the Jewish Quarter. The quaint and charming streets in this town house antique boutiques and pretty architecture. Sights to visit are the Paradesi Synagogue (closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish Holidays), andthe Clock Tower. Finally, no visit would be complete without a visit to explore the Spice Market. In eras gone by, business was done through the value of Black Gold or black pepper. The heady scent of spice follows you like an aura through the streets.

Overnight at Hotel | Spice Fort or similar

Day 13  Kochi

Highlights: Fort Kochi, Chinese fishing nets, Kathakali performance, farewell dinner.

Today we visit Fort Cochin where you will see footprints of the Portuguese, Dutch and British settlements. The tour will visit St Francis Church, the original burial site of explorer Vasco De Gama and Santa Cruz Basilica, one of the oldest churches in India. Explore on your own the popular local haunts of Princess Street and Loafers Corner.  Fort Cochin is also home to the Chinese fishing nets, one of the most iconic sights of Kerala. Spend time walking along the promenade as the sun sets on the marina.

In the evening we visit a local theatre where you can observe the classical dance form of Kathakali. It is a dance form of pure expression. Face muscles exaggerated with make-up and vivid hand gestures convey emotions. The costumes are pure theatre, which amplify the overall effect of the performance. The dance form transcends the barriers of language, the expressions and music beautifully convey the story.

We will be happy to arrange for a farewell dinner (supplement cost) in Fort Kochi before bidding farewell to glorious Kerala.

Overnight at Hotel | Spice Fort or similar

 

Day 14: Kochi – Onwards

Your trip concludes and our representative will assist you with your international departure.

 

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