ABTA 38 Years | Mon - Fri: 9am to 5:30pm | Sat: 9am to 5pm | Sun & Bank Hols: 10am to 4:00pm
Neilson Ski - £100pp off all holidays to Hotel Le Menuire & Spa >>
Home » Destinations » Asia » India » Riviera Travel Southern India’s Coastal Route
Explore the remarkable cities, ancient temples, and breathtaking natural wonders of Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, and Kerala. This journey through South India unveils thousand-year-old rock-cut and granite temples, towering at over 200 feet, as well as colonial-era forts, mansions, and churches from British, French, Dutch, and Portuguese rule.
Experience the tranquillity of Kerala’s backwaters on converted rice barges, wander through fragrant spice plantations and pristine tropical forests of the Western Ghats. Accommodations range from colonial hotels to lakeside bungalows, thatched cottages, and centuries-old traders’ mansions, offering renowned Indian cuisine and hospitality. This diverse blend promises an inspiring adventure.
Take your overnight flight to Chennai vis Muscat
On arrival, transfer to the hotel
Begin your immersion in one of the world’s oldest cultures this morning in Chennai. Explore bustling streets, pass Victorian-era buildings, and visit the famous Marine Beach with its vibrant fish market and colourful wooden fishing boats on the shore. Your journey takes you to the heart of colonial Madras, Fort St. George, a pivotal outpost of the British Empire.
Heading south, you’ll reach Mahabalipuram, an ancient port that once traded with Rome. Its impressive 7th-century temples, intricately carved from colossal granite monoliths, are now UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Following breakfast, journey south to Pondicherry, where upon arrival, you’ll embark on a walking tour of the enchanting old French colonial district of ‘Pondy.’ This area boasts a unique architectural and atmospheric charm distinct from any other Indian town.
You’ll experience a tranquil, almost Mediterranean ambiance, with bougainvillea-adorned walls and neo-classical villas in a striking mustard-yellow hue. Highlights of the tour include a visit to the imposing Governor’s residence and the historic site of the French fort, designed by the renowned French military architect Vauban.
Continue the journey south to Tanjore. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
Tanjore, the former capital of the ancient Chola Empire, is renowned for its remarkable Brihadeeswara Temple, a prototype for all southern Indian temples. This temple, soaring over 200 feet in height, features an intricately-carved ochre-colored facade that radiates in the morning sunlight.
Functioning as a place of worship for over a millennium, the temple is enclosed by colonnaded halls and a protective fortification—a testament to the Chola Empire’s opulence and influence. At sunset, it appears to emanate a crimson glow. Tanjore is also celebrated for its exquisite metalwork, and the nearby Royal Palace’s art gallery showcases a captivating collection of bronze sculptures.
Today, head to the nearby Chettinad region, a hidden gem that promises to captivate you. It offers an authentic glimpse of rural India with its small farming communities. Tonight, you’ll savor a dinner included in your experience, featuring the region’s distinctive cuisine served on a traditional banana leaf.
After breakfast, you’ll explore this hidden region, visiting impressive mansions, the local Maharaja’s palace, and experiencing local handicrafts. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit a delicately handmade tile workshop and witness the weaving of traditional saris on wooden handlooms.
In the afternoon, drive to Madurai for one of the tour’s highlights: the Meenakshi Amman Temple. Often referred to as Southern India’s Taj Mahal, it’s a vast shrine complex with courtyards, grand pillared halls, a sacred lake, and an astonishing twelve gateway towers adorned with thousands of brightly painted stucco carvings. Madurai, an ancient city that predates Chennai, was known for trading spices with the ancient Romans and stands as the cultural and spiritual heart of Tamil Nadu.
This afternoon, use tuk-tuks to visit the temple at dusk, exploring its bustling traditional markets filled with heavily laden stalls and tailors diligently working on their vintage Singer sewing machines.
This morning, return to the temple to explore it in daylight. Afterward, tour the nearby Nayak Palace, featuring a vast throne-room and a ceremonial courtyard. Then, embark on a westward journey toward the distant Western Ghats, marking the border between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
As you travel along winding roads through lush forests, you’ll catch fleeting glimpses of green valleys below. Upon crossing the border, reach Kumily, nestled amidst spice plantations and the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Rise early to the sounds of a tropical dawn chorus and venture into the wildlife sanctuary for a guided nature walk amidst teak, bamboo, wild fig, and jacaranda trees. The reserve boasts diverse birdlife, including hornbills, parakeets, kingfishers, eagles, kites, and flycatchers. There’s also a chance to spot rarely seen tigers, as well as Malabar giant squirrels and lion-tailed macaques.
Following a late breakfast back at the hotel, the day offers free time until our afternoon excursion to a local spice plantation. Here, the guide enlightens you on the various uses, both medicinal and culinary, of spices such as pepper, cloves, curry leaves, cardamom, vanilla, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, and more.
This morning, descend from the hills of Periyar, passing picturesque tea plantations, en route to the captivating Keralan backwaters. Here, enjoy an overnight stay aboard a traditional Kerala Houseboat.
Departing from Alleppey, each houseboat accommodates six to eight guests and is crewed by three individuals who prepare delicious Keralan lunches and dinners onboard. As you cruise through the serene waterways, surrounded by paddy fields, coconut palms, and vibrant local houses, keep an eye out for the abundant birdlife, children commuting to school by rowboat, and locals going about their daily routines, including washing clothes, utensils, and themselves in the narrow canals.
After an enchanting dawn experience, awakened by the tranquil beauty of the backwaters, disembark from the Kerala houseboat and proceed to Kumarakom.
The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy at your leisure. In the early evening, we partake in a sunset boat cruise on Lake Vembanad, one of India’s largest lakes and a thriving wetland ecosystem teeming with diverse birdlife, wildlife, and plant species.
Early risers with a passion for bird watching can seize the opportunity to explore the avian wonders of the area and embark on a village walk. The remainder of the day is yours to relish the serenity and natural beauty of this exceptional location.
This morning, depart from Coconut Lagoon for a brief drive to Cochin, the historic port of the Malabar Coast, known for its pivotal role in shipping India’s prized spices to Europe. In the city’s oldest section, Fort Cochin, you’ll find a captivating labyrinth of narrow lanes and grand merchant residences. Nearby, the bustling Mattancherry district houses the Dutch Palace and the subcontinent’s oldest synagogue. A must-see attraction in Cochin is the iconic Chinese fishing nets, enormous cantilevered devices that remain operational to this day.
Fly home to the UK via Muscat, arriving later the same day
Crowne Plaza Adyar Park, Chennai
The Crowne Plaza Hotel in the heart of Chennai offers a range of amenities including a 24-hour front desk, bar, restaurant, fitness centre, swimming pool, air conditioning, elevator, laundry service, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a spa. The hotel boasts 286 comfortable air-conditioned rooms equipped with showers, hairdryers, safes, TVs, and tea/coffee-makers. This four-star superior hotel provides a central location in Chennai’s city centre.
Ideal Beach Resort, Mahabalipuram
Ideal Beach Resort offers a range of amenities including a swimming pool, spa & wellness facilities, lounge & bar, restaurant, fitness center, 24-hour front desk, air conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, laundry service, snacks, gift shop, and terrace. The hotel provides rooms equipped with TV, air conditioning, minibar, and balcony, offering pool and garden views. The hotel is situated along the Coromandel coastline with stunning views of the Bay of Bengal.
Atithi Hotel, Pondicherry
The three-star superior Atithi Hotel in Pondicherry offers a range of amenities, including a 24-hour front desk, lounge & bar, restaurant, fitness center, swimming pool with a rooftop bar & grill, spa & wellness facilities, air conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, and laundry service. The hotel features 60 air-conditioned rooms with twin or double beds, equipped with a shower, hairdryer, safe, minibar, TV, tea/coffee maker, and free Wi-Fi. Conveniently situated in the heart of Pondicherry amid charming avenues lined with wildflowers.
Ideal River View Resort, Tanjore
Ideal River View Resort, a tranquil three-star superior hotel, features a 24-hour front desk, lounge & bar, restaurant with a river-view terrace, spa & wellness facilities, a swimming pool, air conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a garden with hammocks. The 42 simply furnished rooms offer amenities like air conditioning, bath/shower, safe, TV, and a balcony or terrace with views of the river or garden. Located in a peaceful rural setting amidst paddy fields overlooking the Cauvery River, it’s approximately a 20-minute drive from the city center.
Heritage Hotel, Madurai
The four-star Heritage Hotel, once a British club during the Raj, stands as one of the city’s premier properties. Set within 17 acres of lush gardens, the hotel boasts a sizable sunken pool, surrounded by the open-air lobby, restaurant, coffee shop, and bar. Its 73 spacious and simply furnished air-conditioned rooms, located in low-rise buildings, offer amenities like twin or double beds, shower, hairdryer, safe, minifridge, TV, and complimentary Wi-Fi. Located in the vicinity of Madurai’s city centre, the hotel enjoys an expansive and tranquil setting.
Spice Village, Kumily
The four-star Spice Village, nestled amidst 35 acres of lush gardens near Kumily, offers a range of amenities, including a swimming pool, lounge & bar, restaurant with complimentary tea & coffee, fitness centre, 24-hour front desk, complimentary Wi-Fi, laundry service, snacks, gift shop, and terrace. Rooms are spacious and equipped with ceiling fans, showers, hairdryers, minibars, safes, and tea/coffee-makers, but no TVs. Bird-watching and daily cookery demonstrations are also offered.
Kerala Houseboat, Kerala
Experience the charm of traditional houseboats on the Backwaters of Kerala, offering air-conditioned accommodations with unique and homely décor. Each houseboat accommodates six to eight guests, featuring a variety of colours, natural wood flooring, and single-pane windows that provide picturesque views as you glide through the backwaters. Modern amenities and attached bathrooms ensure a comfortable stay. The hotel also boasts a restaurant and a lounge & bar, along with complimentary tea & coffee service.
Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom
The four-star superior Coconut Lagoon resort, accessible by a short boat transfer, sprawls across 30 acres of picturesque gardens and canals, featuring a palm-shaded pool, early-morning yoga sessions, an Ayurvedic spa, a bird sanctuary, and a butterfly garden. The serene, wood-panelled rooms are air-conditioned and offer outdoor walled bathrooms with showers, hairdryers, and safes. Notably, there are no TVs, preserving the tranquil ambiance. The resort enjoys a stunning location overlooking Lake Vembanad.
The Trident, Cochin
The four-star Trident Cochin offers a range of amenities, including a swimming pool, spa & wellness facilities, lounge & bar, restaurant serving Keralan specialties and continental cuisine, fitness center, 24-hour front desk, lift between floors, air conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, and laundry service. The 85 air-conditioned rooms, feature showers, hairdryers, minibars (local charges apply), safes, TVs, and tea/coffee-makers. The hotel is located in a tranquil area on Willington Island, conveniently positioned between the historic quarter of Fort Cochin and the modern city.
*All transfer times listed here are approximate and dependent on traffic.
Please call us free on 0800 707 6229 for pricing and availability
Need more information?
Get A Quote
Huge & Exclusive Savings, Call Now!
0800 707 6229
Prices subject to Terms and Conditions
You Might Also Like
Save up to £1000 on selected October Cruises. 10 nights for 7 on select cruises. Free enhanced drinks package on July and August Cruises. Group & Solo Savings. Plus, extra savings on top from us!
Visit the three cities known as the ‘Golden Triangle’ – New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and then unwind on a beach in South Goa
From the flawless grandeur of the Taj Mahal to the mighty fortresses of Rajasthan and from the reminders of past glories of the Raj in Delhi to the teeming markets of Jaipur, this tour encompasses the very best of northern India, ensuring a lifetime of truly amazing memories.
Explore the wonders of two fascinating nations on a tour of Vietnam and Cambodia. Delve into the history and culture of Vietnam, explore UNESCO-listed attractions and visit the incredible temple city of Angkor Wat.
Why Book With Us?
Please Call Free:
0800 707 6229
Get The Latest Offers
Socialise With Us:
© Travel Club Elite 2023
Book Holiday Extras; parking & more..
Sign Up to Our Newsletter
"*" indicates required fields