Temples, Spices and Backwaters South India Group Tour

14 Day – Group tour with air-conditioned vehicle and guide
Price Guide: £2095 per person
ABTA and ATOL protected holidays

This Temples, Spices and Backwaters South India Group Tour is the perfect tour for discovering the culture and heritage of Tamil Nadu combined with the gorgeous lush landscape of Kerala. Take this fascinating trip from Chennai on the coastal plains of Tamil Nadu to the captivating port city of Cochin in Kerala. On route you will discover world heritage sites, breathtaking architecture, vibrant temple ceremonies, lively bazaars, historic hill stations, enchanting wildlife and the famous palm fringed Kerala backwaters.

Highlights of the Temples, Spices and Backwaters South India Group Tour

UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), Tamil Nadu
  • Sightseeing tour of Chennai
  • Mahabalipuram world heritage site visit
  • Full day tour of Pondicherry
  • Nataraja, Airavatesvara and Brihadisvara Temples
  • Chettinad craft demonstration
  • Madurai tour
  • Spice garden visit
  • Trek in Periyar Tiger Reserve and Boat trip
  • Vembanad Lake cruise
  • Overnight private houseboat stay
  • Cochin sunset cruise
  • Fort Cochin tour
  • Kathakali dance performance

 

Temples, Spices and Backwaters South India Group Tour Itinerary

Temples, Spices and Backwaters South India Group Tour

On arrival at Chennai International Airport you will be met by your Authentic India Tours representative, who will transfer you directly to your hotel which will take about 45 minutes.

After a period to settle in, it’s time to explore the fascinating city of Chennai on a sightseeing tour. You’ll discover Fort St George, St Mary’s Cathedral and San Thome Basilica which is said to have been built over the tomb of Thomas the Apostle. Later you will visit the ancient Shiva temple of Kapaleeshwar during the evening ceremony and experience the busy bazaars around the temple. This is followed by a welcome dinner hosted by your tour leader.

Accommodation: Taj Connemara*, Chennai
Meals included: Dinner

After breakfast we take the coastal road to the historic fishing village of Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO world heritage site, and home to an amazing collection of 7th and 8th century monuments and temples. Immerse yourself in a treasure trove of buildings and sculptures, including temples in the form of chariots (rathas), a giant open-air rock relief and the impressive, intricately decorated Shore Temple

After lunch, we proceed to the chic town of Puducherry, a former French colony. This evening, a cycle rickshaw ride through the French and Tamil quarters of the town is included. The lively nature and diversity of this colonial town and the delicious mix of food make for a memorable experience.

Approximate travel time and distance: 4 hours, 170 kms
Accommodation: Palais de Mahe*, Puducherry
Meals included: Breakfast

Today you wake up in Puducherry, a small town steeped in history and surrounded by miles of gorgeous sandy beaches. You will have the chance to meet Lakshmi the elephant at Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple, before visiting a handmade paper making unit and Puducherry museum, where you can have a glimpse at Puducherry’s colonial past.

In the evening, wander through the cobbled streets of the historic French Quarter and treat yourself to a dish from one of the best restaurants in Southern India, offering a fusion of French and Indian delicacies.

Accommodation: Palais de Mahe*, Puducherry
Meals included: Breakfast

The next stage of your adventure takes you inland to the bustling temple town of Kumbakonam.  On route you will visit Chidambaram, home to one of Tamil Nadu’s Dravidian architectural highlights, the famous Nataraja Temple complex. We then continue to Darasuram, where you will find the famous Indian landmark, the ornate Airavatesvara Temple, a UNESCO world heritage site.

There will also be time to visit Swamimalai, and experience the brilliance of the bronze artists. Swamimalai is popularly known as the cradle of Chola bronze statues and stone sculptures. Here you can witness the traditional wax method of bronze casting which has been perfected over generations.

In the evening there will be time to explore Kumbakonam and its abundant, colourful temples.

Approximate travel time and distance: 4 hours, 160 kms
Accommodation: Mantra Koodam*, Kumbakonam
Meals included: Breakfast

This morning we drive to the Chettinad region, stopping on the way in the historic town of Thanjavur, famed for its Living Chola Temples. We also visit the Bronze Museum and Brihadeeshwara Temple, which has a 62 metre high sandstone tower ornately decorated in religious carvings.

Chettinad is the homeland of the Chettiars, a community of merchants who grew prosperous in the 19th century and spared no expense building huge palatial mansions. It has a very distinct character from the rest of Tamil Nadu and the style of cooking is unique to this area.

This evening you can discover the unique Chettinad architectural style displayed in its buildings, experience the flavour of local life in a bustling, colourful market and sample the Chettinad cuisine.

Approximate travel time and distance: 3 hours, 150 kms
Accommodation: The Bangala*, Chettinad
Meals included: Breakfast

Today’s discovering tour of Chettinad will introduce you to wonderful old mansions exhibiting splendid art and architecture, the most famous of which being Chettinadu Raja’s Palace. This is followed by a tour of the Ayyanar shrine of Kothadi with the alignment of terracotta figures which have been offered to the village Deity.

Later there is time to wander around some of the best local markets in South India. You will also be able to admire expert craftsmen at work at the Athangudi handmade tile making unit and the traditional saree weaving centre. Then discover unique antiques from local Chettiar homes at the market on Muneeswaran Koil Street in Karaikudi. This is the perfect opportunity to pick up some souvenirs to take back home

In the evening there is a culinary demonstration to learn about Chettinad cuisine from the renowned chefs at The Bangala followed by dinner.

Accommodation: The Bangala*, Chettinad
Meals included: Breakfast

After breakfast, a short 2 hour journey will take you to the famous temple town of Madurai home to some fine examples of Dravidian architecture, and in particular, the stunning Meenakshi Temple complex with its colourfully carved gopuram.

This afternoon’s tour of the vast temple complex will give you time to marvel at this multi-tiered, technicolour wonder covered in bright carvings of mythical figures and to learn more about its history. You will also visit the imposing Thirumalai Nayak Palace, which was actually designed by an Italian architect.

Madurai is a thriving city and later this evening a rickshaw ride through the busy markets selling a whole host of items including utensils, textiles, jewellery and vegetables will be an invigorating experience.

Approximate travel time and distance: 2 hours, 90 kms
Accommodation: Heritage Madurai*, Madurai
Meals included: Breakfast

Be prepared for a total change of scenery and pace of life today as we leave the flat lands of Tamil Nadu and head for Periyar in the Cardamom Hills of Kerala.  It will take around 4 hours to reach Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, a beautifully preserved area and home to a wide range of animals and birdlife.

This afternoon you will get your first taste of Periyar with a spice plantation tour led by an expert on spices and the local area. He will introduce you to the different spices grown such as pepper, cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and coffee.

Approximate travel time and distance: 4 hours, 150 kms
Accommodation: Spice Village*, Periyar National Park
Meals included: Breakfast

This morning you will be transferred to the boat landing point of Periyar Tiger Reserve for a wonderful adventure in touch with nature

The experience includes bamboo rafting where you can try your hand at navigating a raft across the famous Periyar Lake followed by a trek through some of the richest forest paths of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. This area is known for sightings of wildlife including elephants, Sambar deers and Indian bisons but nothing is guaranteed.

The rest of the day is at leisure to enjoy the hotel facilities including the gorgeous spa and swimming pool or maybe take part in some hotel activities. Alternatively enjoy some retail therapy in the nearby shops.

Accommodation: Spice Village*, Periyar National Park
Meals included: Breakfast

Today we leave the mountain region and travel past rubber and tea plantations to the picturesque village of Kumarakom, located on the south eastern shore of Vembanad Lake. There’s a tasty stop on route at a plantation bungalow in Kanjirapally where we are treated to a home cooked lunch

Kumarakom is an oasis of calm, hidden in the Kerala backwaters, a network of canals, lakes and coconut groves. The calm waters, verdant surroundings and abundant wildlife makes it the perfect spot to unwind. In the evening, simply relax and enjoy a sunset cruise over Vembanad Lake, where birds gliding across the calm surface of the lake can be spotted. The Coconut Lagoon is known for its cultural programme and there’s usually a performance to be enjoyed.

Approximate travel time and distance: 3.5 hours, 120 kms
Accommodation: Coconut Lagoon*, Kumarakom
Meals included: Breakfast

After a leisurely morning and just before lunch you will board your air conditioned, deluxe houseboat for an overnight cruise through the famous Kerala Backwaters. For many people this is the highlight of their holiday.

Your relaxing voyage will take you through the tranquil Kerala backwaters, gliding across Lake Vembanad, then along waterways passing low lying rice fields, churches, temples, schools and village life. Lunch, evening tea and dinner will be served on board by your own exclusive crew. At sunset the houseboat anchors to prevent getting tangled in the fishing nets. Experience a truly magical evening of being rocked gently whilst counting stars before finally going to bed. The air conditioning on board functions from 20:00 until 6:00.

Accommodation: Houseboat, Kerala Backwaters
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

This morning we suggest getting up early to enjoy breakfast taking in the fascinating backwater activity with people going to work and children going to school. Upon disembarking at Alleppey boat jetty you’ll be met by your guide and taken to the bustling cosmopolitan port of Cochin.

On this afternoon’s sightseeing tour of Fort Cochin & Mattancherry, you can explore remnants of Cochin’s multicultural past by visiting St Francis’ Church and the local fish market. Later, proceed to Mattancherry to see the Jewish Synagogue and the Dutch Palace which houses murals depicting the Ramayana.

In the evening, you will witness a traditional Kathakali dance performance – we suggest arriving early if you want to experience the elaborate make-up preparation.

Approximate travel time and distance: 1 hour, 55 kms
Accommodation: Eighth Bastion*, Cochin
Meals included: Breakfast

This morning your tour includes a visit to the Kumbalanghi fishing village where you will experience traditional village activities such as catching fish, crab farming and coir making.

Following a home cooked lunch by the side of the backwaters you will be taken back to your hotel for some free time. You could relax and enjoy the hotel facilities such as the rooftop swimming pool, or maybe jump in a tuk tuk and explore the heritage quarter and pick up some last minute souveniers along Jew Street.

Another lovely memory will be this evening’s boat trip past Cochin’s waterfront. As the sun sets, you will see the famous cantilevered fishing nets. It’s fascinating to watch the fishermen skilfully dip the hammock-like nets into the water, silhouetted against the orange and pink sky. To round off an action packed day you can enjoy an interactive Keralan cooking demonstration and a farewell dinner with a local family.

Accommodation: Eighth Bastion*, Cochin
Meals included: Breakfast

In plenty of time you will be transferred to Cochin International Airport to board your return flight.

Approximate travel time and distance: 90 minutes, 40 kms
Meals included: Breakfast

 

 

Beach extension

If you would like to extend your holiday by staying a couple of nights at  Mararikulam Beach or Kovalam, or would like a stopover in the Middle East please let us know.

Please contact us for more details and to discuss your individual requirements

Temples, Spices and Backwaters South India Group Tour Gallery of Images

Marina Beach, Chennai. Tamil Nadu
Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Marina Beach, Chennai. Tamil Nadu
The Autos, Chennai. Tamil Nadu
UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), Tamil Nadu
Shore Temple, Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), Tamil Nadu
Five Rathas, Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), Tamil Nadu
Fishing Boats, Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), Tamil Nadu
French Quarter, Puducherry, (Pondicherry)
Rickshaw Ride, Puducherry, (Pondicherry)
Lycee Francais, Puducherry, (Pondicherry)
Serenity Bay, Puducherry, (Pondicherry)
Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
Lord Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu
Lord Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu
Lord Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu
Brihadeshwara Temple, Thanjavur (Tanjore), Tamil Nadu
Temple Enterance, Thanjavur (Tanjore), Tamil Nadu
Market, Chettinad, Tamil Nadu
Terracotta Horses, Ayyanar Temple, Chettinad, Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu Countryside
Thirumalai Nayakar Palace, Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Meenakshi Amma Temple Complex, Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Bamboo Rafting, Periyar National Park, Periyar, Kerala
Periyar National Park, Periyar, Kerala
Cardamom Plantation Worker, Periyar, Kerala
Cardamon Selection, Periyar, Kerala
Serene Lake Vernadamen, Kumarakom, Kerala
Tranquil Backwaters, Kumarakom, Kerala
Canal Boat Ride, Kumarakom, Kerala
Woman Transporting Water, Kumarakom, Kerala
Evening Chai on Boat, Kumarakom, Kerala
House Boat, Kumarakom, Kerala
Private House Boat, Kerala Backwaters, Kerala
Typical Houseboat Bedroom, Kerala Backwaters, Kerala
Village Life, Kerala Backwaters, Kerala
Chinese Fishing Nets, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala
Fishing Boats, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala
Jewish Synagogue, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala
Kathakali Performance, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala
Shopping in Jew Street, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala
Street Vendor, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Marina Beach, Chennai. Tamil Nadu

Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Marina Beach, Chennai. Tamil Nadu

The Autos, Chennai. Tamil Nadu

UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), Tamil Nadu

Shore Temple, Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), Tamil Nadu

Five Rathas, Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), Tamil Nadu

Fishing Boats, Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), Tamil Nadu

French Quarter, Puducherry, (Pondicherry)

Rickshaw Ride, Puducherry, (Pondicherry)

Lycee Francais, Puducherry, (Pondicherry)

Serenity Bay, Puducherry, (Pondicherry)

Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu

Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu

Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu

Lord Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu

Lord Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu

Lord Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu

Brihadeshwara Temple, Thanjavur (Tanjore), Tamil Nadu

Temple Enterance, Thanjavur (Tanjore), Tamil Nadu

Market, Chettinad, Tamil Nadu

Terracotta Horses, Ayyanar Temple, Chettinad, Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu Countryside

Thirumalai Nayakar Palace, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Meenakshi Amma Temple Complex, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Bamboo Rafting, Periyar National Park, Kerala

Periyar National Park, Kerala

Cardamom Plantation Worker, Periyar, Kerala

Cardamon Selection, Periyar, Kerala

Serene Lake Vernadamen, Kumarakom, Kerala

Tranquil Backwaters, Kumarakom, Kerala

Canal Boat Ride, Kumarakom, Kerala

Woman Transporting Water, Kumarakom, Kerala

Evening Chai, Kumarakom, Kerala

House Boat, Kumarakom, Kerala

Ayurveda Medicines, Kumarakom

Private House Boat, Kerala Backwaters, Kerala

Typical Houseboat Bedroom, Kerala Backwaters, Kerala

Village Life, Kerala Backwaters, Kerala

Chinese Fishing Nets, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Fishing Boats, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Jewish Synagogue, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Kathakali Performance, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Shopping in Jew Street, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Street Vendor, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala

Places on the Temples, Spices and Backwaters South India Group Tour

Temples, Spices and Backwaters South India Group Tour

Below are the hotels we plan to use on the tour but they are subject to availability. If they are not available, hotels of a similar standard will be chosen.

Dates, Pricing & Inclusions

This Temples, Spices and Backwaters South India Group Tour is available from Chennai on the following dates (prices per person)

Tour starts Tour ends Price Single Room Supplement
12 November 2022 Sat Chennai 25 November 2022 Fri Cochin £2,145 £895
3 December 2022 Sat Chennai 16 December 2022 Fri Cochin £2,145 £895
28 January 2023 Sat Chennai 10 February 2023 Fri Cochin £2,195 £945
11 February 2023 Sat Chennai 24 February 2023 Fri Cochin £2,195 £945
4 March 2023 Sat Chennai 17 March 2023 Fri Cochin £2,145 £895
1 April 2023 Sat Chennai 14 April 2023 Fri Cochin £2,095 £875
21 October 2023 Sat Chennai 3 November 2023 Fri Cochin £2,295 £995
11 November 2023 Sat Chennai 24 November 2023 Fri Cochin £2,295 £995
2 December 2023 Sat Chennai 15 December 2023 Fri Cochin £2,295 £995
Private Travel Supplement: £245 (minimum 2 persons traveling together)

 

Suggested Extensions Per person twin-share Single Room Supplement
Marari Beach (4 days) £295 £135

 

Our tour operates with a minimum number of 4 and a maximum number of 16 travellers on this Southern Splendour group tour

The prices quoted are without flights. If you would like us to arrange your flights, all the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. 

Included with this tour are the following:

  • Authentic India Tours Meet & greet assistance on arrival
  • All transfers and sightseeing tours using an air-conditioned vehicle
  • English speaking tour escort for the entire tour
  • Accommodation for 13 nights on twin sharing basis
  • Standard category rooms at all hotels unless otherwise mentioned
  • Meal plan: Houseboat on full board; Bed & Breakfast elsewhere
  • Spice plantation tour in Periyar
  • Nature trek in Periyar Tiger Reserve
  • Tickets for boating on Lake Periyar
  • Sunset cruise by private motorboat along the Cochin harbour
  • Tickets for Kathakali dance show in Cochin
  • Entrances at all national parks, museums and monuments as per the itinerary
  • Mineral water on all days of travel

Price does not include:

  • International flight tickets
  • Travel insurance & Visas
  • Expenses of personal nature like laundry, tips, beverages etc
  • Meals other than mentioned in the above meal plan
  • Camera & video fees at national parks, museums & monuments

Authentic India Tours is a member of ATOL and can provide ATOL protected holidays with flights.

Prices mentioned above are per person based on two people sharing a twin room. The prices which were valid at the time of publication may be subject to change, based on your date of travel and local market fluctuations. You will be informed of any price differences prior to booking.

 

For more information please email info@aitholidays.com or call our India specialists on 01792 315499.

ABTA and ATOL Protected Tour Package

Authentic India Tours is a member of ABTA and ATOL. All the holidays on this website are ABTA protected. If you would like us to arrange your holiday including flights we will be happy to provide a quote and your holiday will also be ATOL protected.