South India - off The Tourist Track
Duration : 15 Days / 14 Nights
Destination Covered : Cochin - Chennai - Kanchipuram - Mahabalipuram -
Pondicherry - Tanjore - Kanadukathan - Madurai - Cardamom House -
Periyar - Vagamon - Alleppey - Houseboat - Alleppey
Day 01: Arrival / Cochin
night arrival. Meeting and assistance upon arrival as our
representatives welcome you and escort you to your car.
Whilst the room keys and check-in is organized, our
representative would introduce the tour to you and hand over the
documents to you.
Welcome to India, or as we say 'atithi devo bhava' (the guest
is an incarnation of God). Thank you for giving us the
opportunity to serve you!
Overnight at Taj Coromandel - a 5* Taj Group Hotel
Day 03: Chennai / Kanchipuram / Mahabalipuram / Pondicherry
breakfast we will spend the day among picturesque villages,
crashing coastline, and rock-cut temples offering a window on
daily life in an ancient Indian kingdom. Visit Mahabalipuram,
seaside capital of the Pallava kings, famed for its shore
temples and remarkable, lifelike rock carvings of animals,
deities and village life 1400 years ago. Good seafood and a fine
beach are among the other attractions to sample in town, before
continuing to Kanchipuram, the golden Pilgrimage City of silks
and shrines. On our way we stop to watch some fishermen
hollowing out canoes from tree trunks. You could also witness
similar craft being hauled out of the sea and fishermen
unloading their catch, watched by fish-eagles hoping, no doubt,
for a share.
Kanchipuram, a Hindu Holy City and capital of the Pallava
dynasty from the 7th to 9th centuries AD, is renowned for
temples and silk, and you will see plenty of both. The temples
range in date from the 8th to the 17th century. The latest
building was impressive in its size, the height of its gopuram,
the intricacy of its carvings and wealth of colour, but, the
earliest temples, of golden sandstone, are more aesthetically
pleasing, the only colour provided is by a flock of ring-necked
Across the road is a workshop where men sit at a loom, weaving
fabrics that you will recognise immediately as "Madras
cotton". However, Silk-weaving takes place on a grander
scale than the cotton-weaving in this town dotted with cottage
workshops. You could visit a factory where all the processes of
spinning, dyeing and weaving take place. Of special note would
be exquisite wedding saris made to order - the silk is heavily
interwoven with gold thread. The sari and blouse are woven
together so as to ensure a perfect match.
Late afternoon, drive on to Pondicherry
Upon arrival check in to Hotel Le - Duplex
Overnight at Hotel Le - Duplex
Day 05: Pondicherry / Tanjore / Kanadukathan (Chettinad) (245
breakfast we will drive to Kanadukathan (Chettinad) enroute we
will visit Tanjore
Tanjore also known as Thanjavur(The rice bowl of TAMIL NADU).
Proceed for sight seeing of Tanjore. Visit the famous Chola
Temple of Brihadeeshwara - A WORLD HERITAGE MONUMENT. Its bronze
and handicrafts make Tanjore one of the highlights of the tour
to South India. The majesty of the palaces and art gallery
attached to the temple is really awe-inspiring. It is also
famous for the silk. From here we continue our drive to Trichy
From here we will drive to Kanadukathan (Chettinad). It is a
region of the Sivaganga district of southern Tamil Nadu.
Chettinad is the homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars
(Nagarathar) a prosperous banking and business community. The
region is well known for a few things. The food here is special.
Many of Chettinad cook has melted the palates of international
clientele, they woo: at their entrepreneurial restaurants.
Chettinad food, now is one of the many reasons why people get to
know Chettinad. Chettinad food is essentially spicy, with a
standard full meal consisting of cooked dhal, eggplant (brinjal)
curry, drumstick sambar, ghee for flavouring rice, and sweet
meats like payasam and paal paniyaram.
Upon arrival, check into Chettinadu Mansion. This 100 year's
old architectural marvel is situated in Chettinadu, one of the
Hidden Treasures of Tamil Nadu. It's 126 rooms and sheer size of
the marriage hall, tall pillars, beautiful balconies, and hidden
lofts the size of a large room in the false ceilings are
features typical of a by gone era of gracious living. Chettinadu
Mansion is a Heritage Home bringing to its guests the living
style of the Chettiars - the business tycoons of the South who
made their livelihood in Burma in the last century. Chettinadu
is equally famous for its astrological talents and of course the
world famous Chettinadu Cuisine.
Rest of the day is at leisure for your independent activities
Overnight at Chettinadu Mansion
Day 06: Kanadukathan (Chettinad)
After breakfast we will
explore Chettinad. The place is rich in cultural heritage, art
and architecture, and is well known for its houses, embellished
with marble and Burma teak, wide courtyards, spacious rooms, and
for its 18th Century mansions. Local legend has it that their
walls used to be polished with a paste made out of eggwhites to
give a smooth texture. We explore the temples of the region.
Originally built to appease the Gods, the temples of Chettinad
stand testimony to the spiritual beliefs of its denizens. The
temples are more than rock and stone. Scattered over the whole
place, each temple has its own tank called oorani where water
lilies are grown, and used for holy rituals. Even today much of
chettinad's daily tidings are centered around the festivities
around the temple; which as inferred are much revered and
frequented. Among the many famous temples, a few are Vairavan
Kovil temple, Karpaga Vinayakar temple, Kundrakudi Murugan
temple, Kottaiyur Sivan temple.
Overnight at Chettinadu Mansion (Standard Room)
Day 07: Kanadukathan / Madurai (90 Kms)
a leisurely breakfast we will drive to Madurai
Upon arrival check in to the Hotel Taj Garden Retreat
Madurai is one of the oldest cities of southern India. It has
been a center of pilgrimage, for centuries. The Meenakshi
temple, the main architectural attraction here, is an excellent
example of Dravidian architecture, with gopurams or multi
pillared halls, covered from top to bottom, in a profusion of
multicolored images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical
However, besides the temple, our tour includes a walk along the
main street leading to the temple. The well-organized confusion
caused by pilgrims in traditional clothes, pavement shops of all
shades, holy men in robes of different colours etc add an
unmistakable colour and atmosphere to this fascinating Temple
Overnight at Taj Garden Retreat
Day 09: Cardamom House
experiencing a great, traditional accommodation in stunning
natural settings, we also want you to experience a typical back
of beyond unhurried Athoor village that has remained frozen in
time. We suggest that you simply stroll through the village at
your own pace, absorbing the atmosphere and watching as the
rural life unfolds. On the track you will pass a Hindu Temple
situated under a Banyan Tree, Continuing your stroll you will
pass Banana Plantations, fields of Chilli and Groundnuts, and of
course hundreds upon hundreds of Coconut Trees. The villagers
whose Way of life is dependent on agriculture, are Very friendly
and will welcome you. Some of the Cardamom House staff either
hail from, or are living in Athoor and will ensure that they are
there to help you, introduce you to people and help with the
devilishly difficult Tamil language, Athoor is truly an
unspoiled Indian Village waiting to be discovered.
Overnight at Cardamom House
Day 10: Cardamom House / Periyar (150 kms)
breakfast we will drive to Periyar.
Upon arrival check into the Spice Village Resort. Set in the
heart of the Cardamom Hills of Kerala, Spice Village is an
unprecedented tourist destination, offering a rare opportunity
to enjoy South India's wildlife and beauty. The village lies
just outside Periyar Tiger Reserve, and a stay here is the
perfect way to appreciate and respect the environment. This is a
place for everyone who loves nature: somewhere to fill your
lungs with fresh mountain air, to savour the rich fragrance of
cinnamon and cloves, to watch young elephants drinking at the
water's edge. The resort itself provides every comfort the
modern traveller could wish for - luxurious accommodation,
mouth-watering cuisine, and an exclusive swimming pool.
Recreating the mood of the local tribal community, our
architects have designed individual cottages amongst a
landscaped spice garden. Each dwelling is thatched with elephant
grass and offers simple luxury and privacy. Throughout the
village, the atmosphere is relaxed and enchanting.
This evening, we visit a spice farm where our guide will show
and explain the various Spice plantations.
Overnight at Spice Village
Day 11: Periyar / Vagamon (100 Kms)
breakfast this morning we would take a short trek inside the
forest. The birdlife comprises of darters, cormorants,
kingfishers, great hornbills (the great Malabar hornbill) and
racket-tailed drongoes. The reptilian population boasts of
monitor lizards, which can be spotted basking in the sun, on the
rocks along the lakeshore, especially in the cooler months.
Pythons, king cobras, flying lizards, flying squirrels, flying
snakes and to top it all, flying frogs are the other inhabitants
of this amazing sanctuary. There are a few fascinating tribal
villages around the Periyar, primarily the Manan and Oorali
tribes. The Manans are ace fishermen, and a few of them still
indulge in the traditional, if dangerous, practice of collecting
the honey of large and deadly hill bees. The Ooralis build tree
dwellings, though not as residences, but watchtowers to keep
wild pigs, and elephants from ruining their crops. Later we will
drive to Vagamon through incredibly scenic countryside. We do
have opportunities to stop on the way a few times to take in the
beauty of the place as also to interact with the locals.
Reaching this high range destination is a winding-uphill
journey. With a number of twists and turns the tarred road goes
winding a number of hills until you reach a top. Even before you
approach the foot of the hills to be ascended, you pass along
paddy fields, rubber plantations and a few seemingly forested
areas. Greenery every where you see. This experience is sure to
add a very special flavour to your trip.
Upon arrival, check into Vagamon Hideout Resort, a real
romantic true eco-friendly Heritage resort and also a memorable
destination for those seeking quiet amidst natural splendours!
The resort is surrounded by romantic hills with un-spoilt
nature, sparkling streams, lake, country boats, fishing, green
tea gardens and cardamom plantations.
Overnight at Vagamon Hideout Resort
Day 13: Vagamon / Alleppey / Houseboat (190 Kms)
a leisurely breakfast, we ride to Alleppey for a houseboat
experience through the narrow canals and channels of the
backwaters of Kerala.
The materials that go into the making of houseboat are all
local and Eco-friendly; bamboo poles, coconut fiber ropes,
bamboo mats carpets etc. The main wood used is "Anjali ".
The Houseboat provides all comforts - Beds, a kitchen, western
toilets and an upper deck. Traditional lanterns are used as
lights. The cuisine is of traditional Kerala flavour along with
the local Specialities - delicious fish and prawns.
Cruise on your boat through remote tribal villages along the
tranquil backwaters of Kerala is a superb experience.
Sensational in its own silent way, the cruise takes you along
snake boat docks, friendly cheering villagers, coir (Jute)
making communities, toddy (local spirit) shops, fishing nets
pitched for the day's catch, bunded paddy fields and manual
canoes of different sizes criss-crossing each other. The
experience enables you to reach beautiful untouched areas.
Overnight aboard Deluxe Houseboat
Day 14: Houseboat / Alleppey / Cochin (45 Kms)
breakfast we disembark houseboat at Alleppey and drive to Cochin
Upon arrival, check into your hotel Taj Malabar. This hotel
combines the old world charm with unparalleled luxury. The hotel
takes its very character from this beautiful city. Situated on
the Willingdon Island with a magnificent view of the harbor, it
has elegantly designed interiors a heritage wing built in 1935
and brings you the very best in contemporary comfort all of
which it the perfect place to start any journey through Kerala.
After rest and relaxation, we proceed on a guided tour of the
City. The true character of the city is to be found in the older
parts of the Fort Cochin area. It more or less exists as it used
to be a 1000 years back, when it was first built. The roads have
not been widened because the old haggard buildings, through
patchwork repairs over the centuries, still stand on the edges.
This part of the city reflects an unusual blend of medieval
Portugal, Dutch and English country life grafted on to the
tropical Malabar Coast. The fishing community of Cochin is also
very interesting. They ancient cantilevered fishing nets called
Chinese Fishing Nets. The net is fixed to a pole on the shore.
While fishing, the entire net is lowered by a primitive fulcrum
mechanism using long bamboo poles. By the same mechanism the
pole is lifted along with the catch. We will explore the sights
of Photographic as well as cultural interest. We would also
visit the 16th century Mattancherry Palace, also known as the
Dutch Palace since the Dutch substantially renovated the palace
in the 17th century. The double storied quadrangular building
surrounds a courtyard containing a Hindu temple. The Central
Hall on the first floor was the coronation hall of the Rajas of
Cochin; on display are their dresses, turbans and palanquins.
The most important feature of this palace, however, is the
astonishing murals in the bedchambers and other rooms, which
depict scenes from the Ramayana and other religious legends.
These murals are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful and
extensive anywhere to be seen in India. The unique feature here
is the unexpected and isolated Jewish community, whose origins
date back to AD 52. They are self-contained and have there own
The area around the Synagogue, known, as 'Jew Town' is one of
the main centres of spice trade. Scores of small firms huddle
together in old dilapidated buildings and the air is filled with
the aroma of ginger, cardamom, cumin, turmeric and cloves. The
area is very busy. The potters are loading gunny bags of spices
on to carts, which keep running up and down the narrow lanes. We
would visit Jew Town, in the Mattancherry section and a short
walk from the ferry, is one street long. Jews used to occupy
virtually all the houses on Jew Town Road, where they sold
fruits, vegetables and spices or worked as oil pressers or
carpenters. The spice markets are still located on the narrow
A special treat awaits us this evening as we proceed to witness
the strength and vigor of Kathakali dance drama, as it enacts
episodes from great Indian epics. The extremely stylized
gestures,the elaborate make-up, the masks and the splendid
costumes of these all-male dancers, recreates an incomparable
sense of pageantry.
Overnight at Taj Malabar - a 5* Taj Group Hotel
END OF SERVICES
We do hope the flavor of India will
remain on your taste buds for all times to come and hopefully would
kindle an indelible fondness for the country and her people; Thank you
for being our guest, and as we say in India 'Please Come back Soon"