Duration: 12 Days
This affordable holiday in India begins on the Bay of Bengal in eastern India’s ancient city of Chennai. Guided sightseeing includes Fort St. George, built in 1644, and Dakshinachitra heritage centre where fascinating history and sights bring Indian art and architecture to life. Continue to the historic port city of Mahabalipuram, take a Life of Pitour in Puducherry, and explore the temple and palace of Tanjore.
In Madurai, wander the flower market, visit the palace and temple, and explore the Gandhi Memorial Museum. Your inspiring tour of India also includes visits to Thekkady to visit a spice plantation and enjoy an ancient martial arts performance. Board a houseboat for an overnight cruise into the beautiful backwaters of Kerala. Your value-minded tour of India concludes with two nights in Cochin—home of the traditional Chinese fishing nets and a colourful dance performance.
Welcome to Chennai, India's fourth largest metropolis. Hotel rooms are available for mid-afternoon check-in.
Enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city. Visit FORT ST. GEORGE, built in 1644, and stroll through Mylapore, the cultural hotspot of Chennai. Your evening is free to explore at leisure. (B)
Start your day with a visit to DAKSHINACHITRA, a unique heritage centre for the living traditions of Indian arts, crafts, and architecture. Later, journey to MAHABALIPURAM, once the main port of the Pallava Kingdom and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Arrive in Puducherry early this evening. (B)
A full day of sightseeing awaits you today. First, visit AUROVILLE, the city of dawn. This experimental township was established as a universal place where men and women of all countries could live in peace and harmony above all nationalities, politics, and religious beliefs. Then, enjoy a LIFE OF PI TOUR and HERITAGE WALK of the French Quarter. Visit the SRI AUROBINDO ASHRAM, one of the highlights of Puducherry, visited by thousands of people from all over the world. (B)
Travel through the rich and varied countryside to Tanjore in Tamil Nadu. Once there, visit the famous BRIHADESHWARA TEMPLE and TANJORE PALACE. This evening, enjoy a cooking demonstration and dinner. (B,D)
Continue exploring Southern India on the way to Madurai via Chettinad. Visit Chettinad Village Market where you can opt to try a traditional meal served on a banana leaf. Later, arrive in Madurai, one of southern India's oldest towns. (B)
In the morning, enjoy a tour of the local FLOWER MARKET, followed by a visit to the THIRUMALAI NAYAK PALACE, built in 1636. Then, reflect on Mahatma Gandhi and his influence on India's history at the GANDHI MEMORIAL MUSEUM. This evening, enjoy a glimpse of Madurai's devout religious culture during a visit to the atmospheric MEENAKSHI TEMPLE at prayer time. (B)
Admire the changing sights as you journey to Kumarakom. Along the way, stop for a visit to a SPICE PLANTATION. Later, enjoy a KALARIPAYATTU PERFORMANCE, one of the oldest martial arts forms in the world that developed in Kerala. (B)
Board your HOUSEBOAT for an overnight cruise on the backwaters of Kerala. As you drift along, enjoy authentic local food, watch the villagers go about their daily chores, and marvel at the beauty of southern India's backwaters. Tonight, remain on board for a unique stay on Lake Vembanad. (B,L,D) NOTE: Due to space restrictions, please plan to pack a small overnight bag for the houseboat stay.
Say goodbye to your houseboat and travel to Cochin, an important spice trading port since the 14th century and now a cosmopolitan business centre. Along the way, enjoy lunch at a local village. (B,L)
Your tour of Cochin starts with the CHINESE FISHING NETS-the livelihood of many local fishermen-and a HERITAGE WALK in Fort Cochin. This afternoon, enjoy free time to explore, shop, or visit an art cafe. In the evening, celebrate the success of your tour at a spectacular show of KATHAKALI DANCE, a form of storytelling distinguished by the elaborately colourful costumes and face masks worn by the dancers. (B)
Your tour ends with breakfast this morning. (B)