Book a 2018 holiday before 14 August and our home pick-up service is doubled to 100 miles.
Meals included: 13 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner
On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
This morning enjoy a sightseeing tour, visiting Fort St George, San Thome Cathedral, the National Art Gallery and the Government Museum. Next, travel to Dakshinachitra - a unique heritage centre for the living traditions of art, craft and architecture of India. Afterwards journey to Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Today's sightseeing begins with a visit to Kanchipuram. The city is also famous for its silk industry, with weavers making luxurious saris following designs which are hundreds of years old. Back in Mahabalipuram visit the Five Rathas, a monolithic temple complex, each carved from a single piece of pink granite. Next you will see Arjuna's Penance - one of the largest open-air rock canvases in the world; and Krishna's Butterball, a puzzling geological wonder. Your visit concludes with the Shore temple, comprising two Shiva temples and a carving of Anantasayana Vishnu.
Depart this morning for Kumbakonam, a holy city renowned for its many temples, art, brassware and handloom saris, stopping for lunch en route. This afternoon visit Darasuram, famous for its Temple of Airavateshvara, a UNESCO World Heritage site, dedicated to the Lord Shiva and a well preserved example of 12th century Chola architecture.
Today journey to Karaikudi, the capital of the Chettinad region - well known for its cuisine, elaborate mansions and temples. Here you will have an included lunch at the much-revered Bangala, sampling the celebrated Chettinad cuisine. Later, learn about the rich cultural heritage of the Chettiar community on a visit to a tile making centre where patterned tiles are manufactured by a unique process. Tonight you will experience real old colonial charm as your overnight is at The Bangala.
Travel to Madurai, which at 2500 years old, is one of south India's oldest towns. Visit the Thirumalanayak Museum, before getting a glimpse of Madurai's devout religious culture on a visit to the atmospheric Meenakshi Temple at prayer time.
This morning drive to Periyar with the rest of the day at leisure. High in Kerala's Western Ghats this magnificent reserve boasts wooded hills, a picturesque lake and a cool climate, creating perfect conditions for exotic wildlife, including elephants, deer, boar, kingfishers and the elusive tiger, of which there are thought to be around 40 living in the park.
Before breakfast, embark on a truly wonderful experience - a 'Green Walk' trek through Periyar National Park offering an excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wild life. Return to your hotel for breakfast and the rest of the morning at leisure. This afternoon, visit a spice plantation where you will learn more about the pepper and cardamom which famously grows in this area, as well as a host of other spices. In the evening, watch a thrilling Kalari Payatyu (local martial arts performance). (B)
Head to Kumarakom this morning and board your houseboat for a cruise along the still backwaters. You'll pass a mosaic of palm plantations and local people swimming and washing their laundry on the riverbanks, giving you an enthralling insight into hidden Kerala. Overnight stay on Lake Vembanad. (B,L,D)
Say goodbye to your houseboat this morning at Alleppey and drive to Kochi (Cochin). This afternoon, see the city's Portuguese-built Mattancherry Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue and St Francis Church, which holds the palm-leafed title deed that the Raja handed to the occupying Portuguese in 1503. Also, marvel at the intricate beauty and rhythm of Kochi's legendary Chinese Fishing Nets, unique to this part of Kerala. In the evening, enjoy a spectacular show of Keralan classic dance.
This morning we head to Ooty. Known as the 'Queen of Hill Stations', Ooty nestles in the slopes of the picturesque Nilgiri mountains and is encircled by lush vegetation and sweeping valleys.
Today, board a miniature, narrow gauge 'toy train' for a wonderfully evocative journey meandering through green hills to Connoor, returning by road. This afternoon, soak up the delights of Ooty's famous Botanical Gardens with their exotic flora and fauna, and the 20 million year old fossilised tree trunk. Also visit the St Stephen Church.
This morning, drive to Mysore. This afternoon's sightseeing takes you on a drive past Mysore's colonial buildings to the stunning Mysore Palace. From there travel to Chamundi Hill, the site of a summer palace complex housing an ancient temple and the Nandi, a giant depiction of a sacred bull carved from a single boulder.
Today brings a visit to Srirangapatnam, a fortress built on a long island on the Cauvery River. In the afternoon, travel to Bengaluru for an overnight stay.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to the UK, or extend your stay in Goa.
There's no need to shop around. Find a cheaper like-for-like tour from another company, and we’ll not only match their price but also give you a £50 discount when you book with us.
They have in-depth knowledge of the places you’ll visit and will be on hand every step of the way with commentary entirely in English. 96% of customers rate them 'excellent' or 'good'.
We've been creating unforgettable holidays since 1994. We are a member of ABTA and all our flight-inclusive holidays are fully protected by the CAA's ATOL scheme.