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THE GORGEOUS SOUTH - START FROM CHENNAI AND END AT KOCHI. Immerse yourself in India’s more spiritual side on this journey through the relaxed southern states of the sub-continent. Prized for millennia for its aromatic spices and natural beauty, the south remains a feast for the senses, with fragrant cuisines, friendly people, and fascinating cultures. Bask in the colour and movement of bustling, sophisticated cities, sleepy fishing villages, tropical coastlines, and lush hinterlands. You’ll be astonished by the Pallava sculptures and towering Chola temples of Tamil Nadu, enchanted by the colonial charms of Puducherry, and lulled by the tranquil backwaters of Kerala, in an India still largely undisturbed by tourism.
Arrive in Chennai to a warm welcome and transfer to your hotel. Chennai, (formerly Madras), the capital of spectacular Tamil Nadu, plays the unique role as keeper of South Indian artistic, religious and culinary traditions. Among Chennai’s greatest assets are its people, infectiously enthusiastic about their home town. Recent years have thrown in a new layer of cosmopolitan glamour: luxe hotels, sparkling boutiques, quirky cafes, and smart contemporary restaurants – but the best of Chennai remains its old soul. The rest of the day is yours to explore at leisure. Chennai is a place with many museums and temples to explore, and you might decide to savour deliciously authentic South Indian delicacies or take a sunset saunter along Marina Beach – the world's second-longest urban beach.
After breakfast meet your Tour Guide for a briefing along with your fellow travellers. Take a walking tour and discover colonial Madras through the buildings left behind by the British. Then zigzag your way through the bustling bylanes of vibrant Georgetown with your guide pointing out the fresh produce, famed mulberry silk, local everyday commodities, and colourful market stalls, pausing along the way to taste handpicked street food treats. Finish the day at Marina Beach at sunset before a welcome dinner.
Today, travel south to the heritage listed Pallava capital of Mahabalipuram. Visit Bhagiratha's Penance, a bas-relief sculpted over enormous rocks depicting life-size figures of animals, gods and saints, all watching the holy Ganges River flow from the Himalaya. Then, stop at the Shore Temple, surrounded by gardens and the site of some remarkable seaside monuments including the 7th century open-air Tamil art museum whose displays reflect the heritage of the Sangam era. After a lunch of southern Indian delicacies, head to Puducherry and your hotel in the French Quarter. Puducherry, known affectionately as Pondy, is one of India's most tranquil cities and was a location in Ang Li's film 'Life of Pi'. Established as the headquarters of the French East India Company in 1674, it is awash with yellow and white houses and colourful bougainvillea. This afternoon, take a wander through the 18th century French Quarter which is full of colonial mansions, tree-lined bicycle routes, parks, cafés and boutiques.
Today you'll be exploring 'Pondy' on foot, starting in the French Quarter admiring the wide shady streets, colonial architecture and soft pastel colours. Pause at Sri Aurobindo Ashram which influences much of the city. Founded by the Indian philosopher, yogi, guru, poet and nationalist Sri Aurobindo in 1926, it is home today to 1,200 devotees from around the world. The main building houses the mortal remains of Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, 'the Mother' in a marble mausoleum. This afternoon is your own to explore this captivating city. Pop in to one of the many beautiful boutiques, wander down the tree-lined lanes or track down the perfect afternoon treat at a colourful café. This evening visit the local market under the guidance of a local chef, where greengrocers, fisherfolk and fruit vendors display their wares under colourful canopies, learning how to pick the best produce and what secrets lie behind the perfect Indian cuisine. Back at the hotel, join the kitchen staff in preparing your dinner which, as per tradition, is served in the kitchen for you.
Today you will travel to the nearby community of Auroville, renowned for their unique approach to life. This experimental, New Age community, designed by architect Roger Anger, was founded in 1968 and attracts devotees from over 45 nations who come to follow the teachings of the great Indian philosopher and long-time resident Sri Aurobindo. Particularly impressive is the Matrimandir, a huge golden globe used as a meditation centre. Later, visit Mohanam Cultural Centre, created by a group of young men from the villages surrounding Auroville, designed to bridge the gap between the old and the young, traditional and modern. Cultural events and festivals are conducted here throughout the year, aiming to protect and preserve the rich cultural heritage of South India. The rest of the day is your own to explore, or relax in your hotel.
Today you will drive further south to Thanjavur (formerly Tanjore). The capital of the great Chola empire, it is home to the magnificent temple, the Brihadishvara, commissioned in the early 11th century by King Rajaraja I. Many other temples and shrines were added over hundreds of years, making Thanjavur one of the most important and most visited historical sites in India today. On the way, stop in Chidambaram to visit the vibrant Nataraja Temple, famed for its bronze dancing Shiva. Observe the daily Brahmin rituals at shrines throughout the 40-acre complex. Enjoy lunch in Kumbakonam before arriving in Thanjavur and settling into your hotel, with dinner at the restaurant.
Spend some time today admiring the 11th century Brihadisvara Temple, one of India's most spectacular. Seek out its elaborate stucco sculptures, shrines and statues and the exquisite Chola frescoes. Later, stroll through the 14th century Tanjore Palace built for Maratha royalty and bursting with captivating art, royal artefacts, and many intriguing curiosities. Meet artisans who craft the melodious veena, a musical instrument carved from a single piece of jackwood. Afterwards, be mesmerised as you watch master painters at work perfecting the classical Thanjavur style, and bronze sculptors whose techniques have changed little since the Chola period.
Today, journey on to the Chettinad region, home to a prosperous banking and business community and a remarkable local cuisine, one of Tamil Nadu's most famous. Ride like a local, taking a bull cart to lunch where you'll savour the subtle and aromatic local flavours followed by a visit to a tile factory to marvel at the colourful materials and a weaving centre to admire soft cotton sarees before continuing to Madurai. This evening, enjoy a sundowner on the magnificent Moon Deck overlooking Madurai city followed by dinner. Madurai is an energetic, ancient city on the Vaigai River, with its skyline dominated by the 14 colourful gopurams (gateway towers) of Meenakshi Amman Temple. Covered in bright carvings of Hindu gods, the Dravidian-style temple is a major pilgrimage site, with millions attending the processions and ceremonies of April's Chithirai Festival celebrating Meenakshi and Lord Vishnu.
Today you will step out into vibrant Madurai, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Famous for temples built in the Dravidian style, Madurai is also home to a maze of markets and museums, yours to explore as you wish.This afternoon, choose your own adventure with a variety of Design Your Day activities: 1. Discover spectacular handcrafted wares on the potter's trail :Pay a visit to a potter's village, and watch villagers turn creators as their hands fashion mud dolls and observe their artistic skill as they wield paint brushes to bring to life the finest of details. Try your hand at this traditional skill, regaled as you work by the artists with stories of the long-held traditions of this remarkable region. Afterwards, soak in the peace and calm of a nearby lotus pool. 2. Tantalise your tastebuds on a food trail Head out on a food trail, experiencing Madurai's lively food scene and its varying history that spans two millennia. Eat your way through the culinary legacy of this incredible region, led by a local guide as they entertain you with the stories behind many of the traditional culinary trends. This tour will fill both your mind and your stomach. 3.Take a deep dive into history on a Once upon a Madurai tour: Join a local expert on a walk through the ancient city of Madurai, and be mesmerised by her stories; stories that span the length of time – some set a millennia ago and some of a more recent vintage; stories that zigzag the obscure lines separating history and myth; stories that take you behind the scenes for a glimpse into the city’s heart. This evening travel like a local by tuk tuk to a Hindu prayer ceremony ('aarti') at the 12th century Meenakshi Temple, a multi-tiered, dazzling wonder, heaving with carved mythical figures and devout pilgrims with a local expert guide.
After breakfast, travel overland to Munnar, checking in to your accommodation on arrival. Munnar is a city surrounded by rolling hills, carpeted in emerald green tea plantations. A former resort for the British Raj elite, the plantations were established in the late 19th century. A haven for lovers of flora and fauna, the Eravikulam National Park, is home to the endangered mountain goat Nilgiri tahr, and boasts the Lakkam Waterfalls, hiking trails and the impressive Anamudi Peak, rising up 2,695 metres. Your journey takes you into the Western Ghats, a lush mountain range that rises parallel to India's Arabian Sea coast. Enjoy a sumptuous lunch at your hotel, with the afternoon at leisure. This evening, enjoy a walk through the Windermere cardamom plantation. The two-hour exploration will showcase the beautiful evergreen trees and foliage (the result of cardamom's need for restrained sunlight). Keep an eye out for giant squirrels, admire a variety of trees, flowers and plants, and be enchanted by babbling streams. You will be led by expert naturalists from the region, who will share their local knowledge of the mountains and fascinating stories of the flora and fauna around you.
Discover a world of tea today as you witness the complete process from leaf plucking and processing to packaging and pouring. Visit the tea gardens, see the plantation workers and their villages, taste the various grades at the Lockhart Tea Factory established in 1879, and try your hand at this traditional art, with the opportunity to make your own brew. Following your tea immersion, you will be guided to the nearby village, exploring the beauty of regional life. Witness cattle grazing in the meadows and admire the houses amidst the hills covered in the iconic rolling tea plantations. This evening enjoy some lively conversation, and gain an in-depth understanding of life on the plantation over high tea with the planter's family in the hotel.
This morning, drive through the countryside, spotting the masses of impressive rubber trees and with the aroma of cultivated spices filling the air, to Kochi (formerly Cochin). After lunch with your group, the afternoon is yours to explore. Set on a magnificent estuary, serene Kochi has been drawing traders, explorers and travellers to its shores for over 600 years. The region hosts an intriguing mix of giant Chinese fishing nets, a 450-year-old synagogue, ancient mosques, Portuguese and Dutch-era houses and the crumbling remains of the British Raj. It's also an important centre for Keralan arts (traditional and contemporary) and a standout place to see Kathakali (classical Indian dance) and kalarippayat (an Indian martial art). This evening, motor around the harbour and soak up the sunset. Breathe in the glorious sea air and keep your eyes peeled for a dolphin or two.
Today, watch Kochi come to life with the aid of a local guide, when you catch the early morning sea traffic as the local fisherfolks set off to cast their nets. Get a peek into the massive seafood auction and witness the morning hustle as the fisherfolk haggle over their prized catch. As you observe, you`ll catch the locals at their daily fitness regime – a walk along the coastline, a gym by the beach or yoga on the sands. Savour a cup of tea at a local Chaikadda, after which you will visit a soviet era communist reading room. Later, ride the local ferry to Ernakulam to further your live action market experience. End your tour with a visit to the local temple Eernakulatappan, and savour some fresh South Indian breakfast. After breakfast, visit one of the oldest Jewish synagogues in India, decorated with blue ceramic Chinese tiles and surrounded by an aromatic spice market and the boutiques of Jewtown. See the story of the Ramayana depicted in the wonderful murals at charming Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace) and visit St. Francis Church, both of which were erected by the Portuguese in the 16th century. On the harbour shore, see the cantilevered fishing nets brought from southern China by traders - a testament to the centuries old link between these regions. This afternoon is at leisure before absorbing Kerala's Hindu culture at a Kathakali performance, one of the oldest dance styles in the area. Witness the elaborate make-up process of the performers before the show, then watch this unforgettable art form combining classical dance, theatre, opera and pantomime.
Today, choose your own adventure with a selection of Design Your Day activities: 1. Embark on an exploration of the Kerala backwaters: Begin with a leisurely walk through the village, admiring the lush green paddy fields and the houses of the local people, built in many different styles. Then, cycle to a market to taste local fruits and delicacies, before a leisurely cruise down palm-lined canals, lunching on typical Keralan fare with a local family and marvelling at the impressive craftsmanship of local boat builders. 2.Savour flavourful fare on a culinary trail :Meet Keralan local Nimmy, and be amazed as she demonstrates her flare for traditional Kerala home recipes and works with you to bring your own delicious dishes to life. Feast on some of the delicious treats during your included lunch. Nimmy has worked as a professional cookery instructor for over 20 years, and her culinary prowess is well regarded. 3. Immerse yourself in local history on a Muziris cultural tour :Embark on a guided Muziris tour, an introduction to the many faiths and history of the Malabar Coast. Visit the Old Synagogue, before exploring the Paliam Palace Museum, once the residence of the prime ministers to the Rajas of Kochi. Discover the Cheraman Juma Masjid, the first mosque in India, then explore a colourful and vibrant local bazaar, the Hindu temple Kodungalloor Bhagavathi, and wander through the archaeological Pattanam Museum with a last stop at the Kottakavu Church. Return to your hotel in time for a farewell seafood dinner with your travel companions.
Today, your beautiful South India tour comes to an end, and you are transferred to the airport for your departure flight.
Anything that is not mentioned in the INCLUSION.
Your contract is with Mountain Adventure Tours & Travels. A contract exists between us when we have confirmed you on our tour / hotel booking / or any other travel related services of your choice and we have received your booking request and deposits. All correspondence/s in respect of Tours / Travel Service bookings should be addressed to Mountain Adventure Tours & Travels.
For the services contracted, 40 % advance payment should be made to hold the booking on a confirmed basis and the balance amount should be paid before commencement of your tour. We hold the right to decide upon the amount to be paid as an advance payment, based on the nature of services and the time left for the commencement of the services.
Payment can be made by Bank Transfer, Cash payment to our office or by Demand Draft / Cheque. All payments should be free and clear of any withholding tax and deduction. Bank charges, if any, for remittance (by remitting bank or by intermediary bank) would be strictly borne by payer.
Tour once commenced will strictly go as per the itinerary finalised. In case of events and circumstances beyond our control, we reserve the right to change all or parts of the contents of the itinerary for safety and well being of our esteemed passengers.
In case of cancellation of tour/travel services due to any avoidable/unavoidable reason/s we must be informed in writing. Cancellation charges would be effective from the date we receive letter in writing and cancellation charges would be as follows:
Please note – Irrespective of above mentioned cancellations slabs – in case of cancellation of tour services after the booking is made with us – a minimum 10% service charges would be applicable.
In case you cancel the trip after commencement refund would be restricted to a limited amount that too would depend on the amount that we would be able to recover from the hoteliers we patronize. For unused hotel accommodation, chartered transportation and missed meals etc. we do not bear any responsibility to refund.
Where as in case of Cancellation before the commencement, it will take atleast two weeks time to refund the said amount.
Please note that after the finalization of the tour/service cost, if there are any hikes in entrance fees of monuments/museums, taxes, fuel cost or guide charges by the Govt. of India, the same would be charged as extra.
Mountain Adventure Tours & Travels act only in the capacity of agent for the hotels, airlines, transporters, railways & contractors providing other services & all exchange orders, receipts, contracts & tickets issued by us are issued subject to terms & conditions under which these services are provided by them.
All itineraries are sample itineraries, intended to give you a general idea of the likely trip schedule. Numerous factors such as weather, road conditions, the physical ability of the participants etc. may dictate itinerary changes either before the tour or while on the trail. We reserve the right to change any schedule in the interest of the trip participants’ safety, comfort & general well being.
Our rates are based on the prevailing rates as negotiated by us with the hotels, airlines etc. Hotels and Airlines retain the right to modify the rates without notice. In case of such changes the rates quoted before the modification, can be changed by us according to the modifications by hotels or airlines. All hotel bookings are based on usual check in and checkout time of the hotels until unless indicated in the itinerary.
We shall not be responsible for any delays & alterations in the programme or expenses incurred – directly or indirectly – due to natural hazards, flight cancellations, accident, breakdown of machinery or equipments, breakdown of transport, weather, sickness, landslides, political closures or any untoward incidents.
We shall not be responsible for any loss, injury or damage to person, property, or otherwise in connection with any accommodation, transportation or other services, resulting – directly or indirectly – from any act of GOD, dangers, fire, accident, breakdown in machinery or equipment, breakdown of transport, wars, civil disturbances, strikes, riots, thefts, pilferages, epidemics, medical or custom department regulations, defaults, or any other causes beyond our control.
We do not have any insurance policy covering the expenses for accident, sickness, loss due to theft, or any other reasons. Visitors are advised to seek such insurance arrangements in their home country. All baggage & personal property/s at all times are at the client’s risk.
To travel to India from overseas countries except for the citizen of Nepal & Bhutan, one needs a 06 months valid passport and a valid Visa. And processing of Passport and Visa are not included in the tour cost.
Any person who has a contagious disease is forbidden to travel, any person found during the tour with such a disease will be asked to leave the tour and will have to make their own arrangements to return home.