Southern India Sojourn
Moving south Chettinad is famous for its culinary delicacies, Dravidian architecture, elaborate 18th century mansions and unique and ornamented palatial houses; a fascinating stop enroute to Madurai, Tamil Nadu’s cultural capital. One of the oldest cities in south Asia Madurai’s skyline is dominated by the 14 colourful gopurams (gateway towers) of the elaborately sculptured Meenakshi Amman Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Crossing into Kerala you will marvel at the variety of landscapes from impressive spice plantations to sprawling tea estates, rice paddies to rubber, vanilla and coffee plantations. After exploring Thekkady and the Periyar Wildlife Reserve you will relax on the shore of Lake Vembanad with the opportunity to cruise along Kerala’s famed backwaters aboard a traditional kettuvallam (boat) soaking in the serene landscapes. Your final destination is Cochin, or Kochi, the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’. On every traveller’s wish list Kochi provides glimpses of its glorious past through its European churches, palaces, cemeteries, alleyways, fishing nets, spice markets and bustling port. It’s also a great place to shop and a fitting end to your Southern India Sojourn.
This extraordinary journey can be tailored to suit your style, pace and price – please get in touch to design your own stylish sojourn.
You will love
- From the Arabian Sea to the Indian Ocean
- Rich and colourful culture
- Exquisitely crafted temples
- Some of India’s finest cuisines
- Charming, character-filled accommodation
14 UNFORGETTABLE DAYS
DAY 1 | CHENNAI | 2 NIGHTS
Arrive in Chennai and transfer to your hotel where you have the remainder of the evening at leisure to relax.
DAY 2 | CHENNAI
Chennai is one of India’s oldest colonial cities and boasts a history of nearly 400 years. While the city has changed tremendously post-independence, part of it, especially the region near Fort St. George still retains its colonial charm with several British-era landmarks and architectural marvels. Enjoy a walking tour around the most popular heritage structures before strolling along Marina Beach -famous around the world as the second-longest urban beach in the world. Later this afternoon venture to Mylapore district to view the Kapaleeswarar Temple, oldest place of worship in the city and the Santhome Cathedral Basilica – said to be one of the only three basilicas in the entire world to be constructed over the tomb of a direct Apostle of Jesus Christ.
DAY 3 | PONDICHERRY | 2 NIGHTS
Departing Chennai you will drive south along the shores of the Indian Ocean to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Mahaballipuram. Home to over 40 monuments, but most noteably the magnificent Shore Temple, one of the oldest stone buildings in India. Continue to Kanchipuram, the ‘Golden City of Temples’ and visit the Dakshina Chitra South Indian Cultural Centre dedicated to the preservation, presentation and conservation of South Indian cultural heritage, before arriving in Pondicherry.
DAY 4 | PONDICHERRY
Pondicherry is a sophisticated city with strong French influences. This morning, accompanied by a storyteller, you will be guided on a ‘French Connections’ walking tour before driving to Auroville, known as the ‘city of dawn’, located 12km from Pondicherry. Auroville was envisioned as an international community free of government, money, religion & strife and you will have the opportunity to engage with local artisans as they work, and you have the option visit a pre-school in Mohanam run by an Auroville NGO.
DAY 5 | CHETTINAD | 2 NIGHTS
Depart Pondicherry by road for Chettinad (5 hours). Enroute you will visit Tanjore, an important centre of Southern Indian art, religion and architecture and home to the impressive Brihadeshwara Temple & Fort & Tanjore Palace.
DAY 6 | CHETTINAD
The Chettiars (propserous merchants & bankers who settled here in the 19th Century) built truly opulent mansions that you will visit this morning before meeting ladies from a local initiative that produces delicious snacks for weddings and restaurants. After lunch engage with a small group from the local community who have been instrumental in putting the Chettinad’s art and cultural heritage on the map.
DAY 7 | MADURAI | 1 NIGHT
Road transfer to Madurai (2.5 hours), the city known as the Temple City or ‘Athens of Southern India’. The city is built around the magnificent 16th Century Sri Meenakshi Temple, a spectacular complex of shrines, temples, towers & courtyards that is considered one of India’s greatest cultural landmarks. Also pay a visit to the Tirumalai Nayak Palace with its artistic blend of Dravidian and Islamic styles, designed as a residence for the king by an Italian architect it is a ‘must see’ for history lovers and those who appreciate an enviable blend of architectural styles from bygone eras.
DAY 8 | THEKKADY | 2 NIGHTS
This morning head out for a walking tour of Madurai to experience the city as it awakes before driving through the picturesque hills and plantations to Thekkady, home to the Periyar Wildlife SanctuaryAfter breakfast you will travel to Thekkady, home of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary – a community based ecotourism project which aims to provide a living for the local residents whilst protecting the region’s rare flora and fauna. Settle into your hotel before enjoying a cultural experience and an impressive martial arts show this evening.
DAY 9 | THEKKADY
Today stretch your legs by joining a half day walking tour through the forests of Periyar. Rich in bird life and home to the hooded leaf monkey, Nilgiri Langur, as well as larger animals including elephant, gaur and sambar (although you are unlikely to see these on foot). Early in the afternoon wander through a Spice Plantation learning all the attributes of the key ingredients in Southern India’s delicious dishes. Late afternoon a boat ride on the lake within the park will hopefully reveal sightings of larger species.
DAY 10 | KUMARAKOM | 2 NIGHTS
Check out after breakfast and road transfer to Kumarakom (approx 3.5 hours) on the shores of Lake Vembanad. This unique ecosystem presents you with a time-honoured image of an India long forgotten. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure with a chase to wander the shoreline, indulge in an ayurvedic treatment and enjoy a spectacular sunset.
DAY 11 | KUMARAKOM
Embark on a traditional kettuvalum (houseboat) today and venture along the palm fringed canals of the famed Kerala Backwaters, weaving amongst the labyrinthine channels passing villagers that live today as they have for generations. Lunch is served on your tranquil boat cruise and you can alight as often as you wish before being delivered back to your hotel by late afternoon.
DAY 12 | COCHIN | 2 NIGHTS
After breakfast commence your drive to Cochin, stopping at Kumbhalanghi on the way to experience local village activities – take a boat ride to view a crab farm and traditional fishing nets, watch local women weave rope, learn how to best throw a Keralan fishing net and harvest coconuts. The garden is also littered with a stunning array of orchids. On reaching Cochin, the glittering ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’ check in to your hotel and relax before joining a sunset cruise on the harbour this evening.
DAY 13 | COCHIN
Cochin is the oldest European settlement in India and also home to the oldest church and synagogue in the country. Built on trade, the city began to prosper with the arrival of Jewish and Arab traders before being influenced by first the Portuguese and then the Dutch and English; resulting in a vibrant city that incorporaties a rare fusion of European and Asian styles & traditions. You will visit Mattancherry Palace and Church of St. Francis, explore the handicraft shops of the Jewish town and appreciate the oldest living synagogue in the world. The city is also famous for its Chinese fishing nets, best viewed at dusk for fabulous photos. Enjoy a traditional Kathakhali dance performance this evening before your final dinner and overnight in India.
DAY 14 | END OF ITINERARY
Your sojourn across Southern India ends today with a transfer to the airport to begin your return journey home, or to start your next adventure.
This itinerary provides the perfect framework for a spectacular sojourn across Southern India, however it can be designed to suit your preferred pace, price and pursuits. Contact us for a tailormade journey.
WHERE YOU'LL STAY
Stylish suggested accommodation for your sojourn
The Leela Palace – Chennai, Southern India
The Leela Palace is Chennai’s only modern palace hotel, set on the glittering Bay of Bengal. With opulent design features and palatial interiors, it evokes the rich heritage of Tamil Nadu and offers guests a full, royal experience in one of Chennai’s most prestigious and stunningly beautiful locations. Read More
Palais de Mahe – Pondicherry, Southern India
In the heart of Pondicherry’s French Quarter, Palais de Mahe is a characterful retreat within easy wandering distance of the picturesque promenade. Spice-laden breezes drift off the Bay of Bengal and local artists display their work. Palais de Mahe is a grand and fitting base for exploring this beautiful and enchanting city. Read More
Visalam – Chettinad, Southern India
Visalam hotel is located 10km from the famous Thirumayan Fort in the Kanadukathan village of the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu. It is a century-old palatial home with a lot of love and care put into keeping it to its former glory and where some of the many charms of Chettinad can be admired. Read More
The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai – Madurai
The Gateway Hotel is perched atop the Pasumalai Hill, amid 62 acres of peaceful, landscaped gardens. It is 15km from Madurai Airport and a 15-minute drive from Madurai City Centre. The Gateway Hotel offers a comfortable stay amidst a tropical garden setting within easy reach of the Madurai City Centre. Read More
Spice Village – Thekkady, Southern India
Set amidst the landscaped spice gardens, the cottages at Spice Village are where you will rest your head at night are simple, yet luxuriously furnished and naturally elegant. Immerse yourself in nature, culture and the local way of life - look no further than Spice Village for a true wilderness experience. Read More
Coconut Lagoon – Kumarakom
Coconut Lagoon sits amongst rice paddies, tranquil waterways and lush gardens boasting authentic heritage, exquisite cuisine and a unique insight into this beautiful corner of Kerala. During your stay you are free to wander through the cool wildflower and butterfly garden, take a sunset cruise or explore the network of canals by canoe. Read More
Eighth Bastion – Cochin, Kerala
Eighth Bastion, located in the Malabar region of Fort Kochi, is remnant of a time long past where the VOC was busy trading and fighting over spices and trade routes. The hotel’s outdoor pool and garden are great places to unwind after a busy day of exploring. Look no further than Eighth Bastion Hotel for your stay in Kochi. Read More
NEED TO KNOW
14 delightful days that can be shortened or extended to suit
14 delightful days that can be shortened or extended to suit
Please enquire for pricing based on your preferences
Please enquire for pricing based on your preferences
START: Chennai, India | Finish: Kochi, India
This itinerary provides the perfect inspiration for a spectacular journey & can be tailored to suit your style, pace, preferences and budget. Elements of this trip may vary based on your chosen season & dates of travel which may also present the opportunity to see & do even more!
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Julia you did a fantastic job - everything was first class. Well organised, efficient and stress free. We all agreed it was the best holiday we've ever had. Cant wait to travel with CSC again.Milford family
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