During this truly unforgettable tour of southern India, we visit
the cities, temples and tea plantations of the Tamil Nadu region
before heading to Kerala. We explore the captivating city of Kochi,
relax on Kerala's beaches and cruise through the backwaters of
Board the UNESCO-listed Nilgiri Mountain Railway that takes you through forests and tea plantations
Attend a Kathakali performance that combines colourful costumes, ritualistic dance movements, and live music
Enjoy a scenic cruise on a traditional houseboat through Kerala’s backwaters, taking in coconut tree-lined banks
Get a glimpse of local life at the open-air community laundry space or Dhobi Khana in Fort Kochi
Discover the art of crafting puppets from locally available sand and clay as you tour an artisans' village in Madurai
13 nights' hotel accommodation including 2 nights at the 5-Star Radisson Blu in Mysuru, 2 nights at the 5-Star Taj Savoy in Ooty, 1 night at the 5-Star Vivanta by Taj Surya in Coimbatore, 2 nights at the 5-Star Vivanta by Taj Malabar in Kochi, 1 night at the 4-Star Coconut Lagoon in Kumarakom, 2 nights at the 4-Star Spice Village in Thekkady, 2 nights at the 4-Star Gateway Hotel Pasumalai in Madurai, and 1 night at the 5-Star Taj Coromandel in Chennai
Luggage transfers throughout
Excursions & Entertainment
UK Tour Manager from start to finish
All rail and Volvo coach transfers
Food & Drinks
31 meals, including 13 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 13 dinners, including lunch and evening tea whilst on board our Kerala houseboat cruise
Flights and airport transfers
Flights from London Heathrow to Bengaluru, via Dubai, Madurai to Chennai, and Chennai to London Heathrow, via Dubai
Regional Departures Available
What’s not included
Cancellation & Travel Insurance is not included in the price of the tour but can be arranged
British Citizens require a visa to enter India. We can help you with visa applications up to 21 days before departure - please see the Visa section of 'Things You Should Know' for further details
In India it's customary to leave a tip for local guides, coach drivers and assistants. Tipping is at your discretion, but should you wish to leave a token of your appreciation, we recommend £37 to cover all necessary services, which can be arranged with the Tour Manager at end of your holiday
Days 1-3 - London and Mysuru
We fl y from London Heathrow to Bengaluru via Dubai and arriving
on Day 2, we transfer by coach to Mysuru.
Here, we enjoy a full-day tour on Day 3,
exploring the St Philomena's Church, a large neo-Gothic cathedral
inspired by Cologne Cathedral in Germany, and Mysuru Palace, a
beautiful and intricately decorated building that boasts Hindu,
Muslim, Gothic, and Rajput architectural infl uences. We move on to
Srirangapatna, the site of a major battle between the British and
Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore. Afterwards, we make our way to
the local market of Chamundi Hills, and the Bull Temple, which
features a gigantic 16-foot granite statue of a bull.
Days 4-6 - The Nilgiri Mountain Railway and Ooty
This morning we travel by coach to Ooty, where we stay for two
nights. After we check in, you are free for an afternoon at
leisure. On Day 5, we visit the Botanical Garden,
with its vibrant displays planted in typical English-style terraced
beds, a reminder of the region's colonial influences and St.
Stephens Church. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant during the
On Day 6 we travel by toy train to Conoor where
we enjoy a tour of this enchanting Indian town, before we visit a
local tea factory. Throughout Tamil Nadu, isolated colonial
mansions stare out across lush tea plantations which cover the
hillsides, and tea production is the region's main industry. The
mountainous area has been producing tea for more than 100 years and
is known for its distinctive dark, aromatic varieties.
Later, we board the UNESCO-listed Nilgiri Mountain Railway, one
of the world's steepest operational rack-and-pinion railways. The
steam-hauled service takes us up the hillside through verdant
forests to Mettupalayam where we board a coach to Coimbatore for
and overnight stay.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Guided tour of Ooty
Days 7-8 - Kochi
Today we transfer by coach to Coimbatore, from where we board
the train to the truly captivating city of Kochi. We discover Kochi
on a guided tour on Day 8. Sometimes known as the
'Queen of the Arabian Sea', Kochi is a fascinating city to
Our tour includes the St Francis Church in Fort Kochi. We also
visit the Dutch Palace - built by the Portuguese in 1555, then
renovated and extended by the Dutch in 1663.
This evening, we are treated to a Kathakali Dance performance.
Kathakali is the traditional dance-drama of Kerala, which combines
bright colourful costumes, ornate headwear, very deliberate and
ritualistic dance movements, and live music. The drama is full of
emotion and involves some of the most intense facial expressions
you may ever see.
Kathakali dance performance
Days 9-10 - A houseboat cruise
On Day 9, we enjoy a guided tour of the
Jewish Synagogue, home to an array of treasures including The Great
Scrolls of the Old Testament, before transfering to Alleppey,
where we board a kettuvallam, or houseboat, for a scenic cruise
discovering Kerala's naturally idyllic backwaters. Constructed
using traditional methods and materials, these incredible boats
were once used to shuttle goods between Cochin and Kuttanad, and
could carry up to 30 tonnes of cargo, including exotic spices and
We begin at Vembanad Lake, the largest lagoon in the region,
which maintains its quiet and calm feel. As we glide serenely
through the bewildering maze of canals and channels, we enjoy lunch
and an evening tea on board. We disembark at Kumarakom, where we
stay at the Coconut Lagoon. On Day 10, we
continue to Thekkady, where your afternoon is free.
Days 11-13 - Kerala’s spices and Madurai
Today's excursion takes us to an aromatic spice plantation,
where we enjoy a guided walking tour, uncovering the secrets of
southern India's spices. This afternoon we head to Lake Periyar, a
stunning lake in a large wildlife sanctuary, for a cruise across
its peaceful waters.
On Day 12 our tour takes us to Madurai, where
this evening we venture out to the Meenakshi Temple. Here, we are
invited to watch a 'puja', religious ceremony. Each day here, the
priests symbolically bathe, dress, and feed the statue of the god
Shiva, and this evening we witness the final puja of the day, as
Shiva is put to bed alongside his wife, the goddess Meenakshi, for
whom the temple is named.
We take a guided coach tour of Madurai on Day
13, which includes the impressive 17th-century Thirumalai
Nayak Palace, an oppulent building filled with stunning carvings
and umerous pillars. This impressive structure was once considered
to be one of the most incredible buildings in India, however it was
ruined over 400 years due to war and neglect. The building was
eventually restored in the 19th century, and although it is a truly
mesmerising building, it hasn't maintained its former glory. We
also visit the Gandhi Memorial Museum, which tells of the history
and life of one of India's most famous men.
Day 14 - To Chennai
After breakfast today, we take an internal flight to Chennai,
formerly known as Madras. This afternoon, we take a sightseeing
tour, including some of the city's colonial heritage, seen in the
architecture that remains.
The city was the 17th century French colonial capital, and today
it boasts a rich blend of French-Tamil culture and the hustle and
bustle of a modern Indian city. Tuk tuks whizz by, driving on both
sides of the road as the weave their way through pedestrians, cars,
and hundreds of beeping motorbikes. The smell of street food fills
the air; an inviting combination of both Tamil and Creole
Some sights that we see on our tour include the Regional Railway
Museum, a drive past the British buildings, a visit to a Madras War
Cemetery along with Marina Beach, San Thome Cathedral Basilica
& Kapaleeshwar Temple.
Days 15-16 - Return to London
There is an optional excursion this morning to Mamallapuram,
known for its UNESCO-listed temples (payable locally). Otherwise,
enjoy the day at leisure, before we transfer to the airport for our
flight to London, where we arrive on Day 16.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature
the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be
found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices
& Availability' button. We write to all booked customers
approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise
the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.