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The delicate scent of spices, the sound of temple bells, exotic flora and fauna, and idyllic sandy beaches all characterise Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This journey travels through hill stations, tropical backwaters and temple-laden towns while staying in some of the region’s very best hotels.
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Fly from London (regional connections
available) to Chennai (Madras), via Dubai with
On arrival, transfer to the Hyatt Regency (or similar) for 1 night (early check in available). At the beginning of the British Raj, Chennai was the busiest and wealthiest port in India, so after some time at leisure at the hotel, explore a city where ancient temples and monuments sit alongside colonial architecture, creating a striking contrast. End the day on the Marina beach stretch, where you can watch fishermen riding the waves on their catamarans and locals enjoying the esplanade. (B)
Visit Mylapore, a suburb of Chennai and one of the oldest towns in Tamil Nadu. Explore the bustling alleyways and see the jewellers, silk merchants and flower vendors in bazaars providing a colourful backdrop to the Shiva temple, which towers impressively over the town. Continue to Puducherry (Pondicherry), visiting the exquisite rock-cut shore temples at Mahabalipuram en route. Arrive in the charming seaside town and check in to the Palais de Mahe (or similar) for a 2-night stay in the heart of the French quarter. (B)
This morning visit a nearby rural village, organised by the Mohanam Cultural Centre, which aims to preserve the culture of the region through a series of heritage workshops. Watch and take part in traditional crafts such as stone carving, ceramics and terracotta work. Later, explore Puducherry and see how the French presence and influence is still very much evident in the town's architecture and how historic buildings jostle side by side with charming sidewalk cafes. The promenade of the town, located close to the hotel, features in the award-winning film Life of Pi and is an excellent place to interact with locals, who gather here in the early evening. (B)
Drive through scenic countryside to Kumbakonam for 2 nights at the Mantra Koodam. On arrival, enjoy a traditional regional tea or coffee at the hotel's tea station, or 'kadai', modelled on the tea shops found throughout south India. In the early evening, try your hand at pottery, which has been an integral part of Indian culture for thousands of years with origins dating back to the Indus Valley civilization. Finally, enjoy an interactive culinary demonstration at your resort, led by expert chefs who will introduce you to the wonderful world of south Indian cookery. (B, D)
A day to discover the crafts and culture of Tamil Nadu. Observe master foundrymen produce extraordinary detailed bronze cast statues using only rudimental materials; see the extraordinary process of 'pattu' silk weaving, using wooden handlooms to create beautifully complex and delicate saris that are sold all over the world. Try producing your own 'kolams', colourful patterns that are displayed outside homes using rice flour, coloured chalk and sometimes herbs, as a sign of health and prosperity. Today you will also visit one of the largest vegetable markets in Asia and the Darasuram temple, one of the best-preserved temples in southern India, renowned for its delicate sculptures carved into the stone. Finally, visit the former home of Srinivasa Ramanujan, the mathematician who was the inspiration for the 2015 film The Man Who Knew Infinity. (B, L, D)
Drive to Chettinad, stopping at the Brihadeeswarar temple en route. The temple is known for its frescoes which, despite being over 1,000 years old, have retained their colour and character. Continue to the art gallery and Saraswathi Mahal library at the Tanjore Palace, before arriving in Chettinad for an overnight stay at Chidambara Vilas (or similar). Chettinad cuisine is known for its simple presentation but rich and flavoursome dishes; this evening, enjoy a superb culinary experience at your hotel. (B, L, D)
This morning visit Chettinad's bustling village market, where locals pick up their everyday supplies. Continue to the city of Madras, for an overnight stay at the Heritage Madurai. The frenetic centre of the city's activity is the main temple, the mighty Meenakshi Sundareswarar, which you will visit this evening for the illustrious night ceremony. (B)
As you leave Tamil Nadu for Kerala this morning, observe how the landscape changes to verdant hills, quiet villages and rolling tea estates. Stay overnight at the Fragrant Nature (or similar) in Munnar, a town developed by Scottish tea planters at the beginning of the 20th century. (B, D)
This morning take a guided stroll through a working tea plantation to see the tea pluckers in the field and learn how tea was first introduced and procured in the early days of the British Raj. Continue to Kumarakom for 2 nights at the Kumarakom Lake Resort (or similar), set within verdant gardens and with panoramic views of Lake Vembanad. The lake is a prime fishing ground for local villagers and also an important nesting ground for migratory wetland birds. (B, D)
Enjoy a day at leisure to enjoy the facilities at your hotel and its beautiful surrounds. (B, D)
This morning board a traditional kettuvallam (converted rice boat) for a gentle cruise through the backwaters, passing verdant coconut groves and paddy fields. After disembarking, drive to the enchanting city of Kochi, filled with a melody of Dutch, Portuguese and British architectural influences serving as a reminder of the strategic importance this port town once held on the former spice route. This evening, watch a Kathakali dance performance where stories are told with elaborate hand gestures, facial expressions and choreographed movements, with colourful masks and costumes. Stay 2 nights at Eighth Bastion (or similar). (B)
Morning sightseeing tour of Kochi's highlights including Mattancherry Palace, the Chinese fishing nets and the 16th-century St Francis Church. Then explore hidden Kochi including Jew Town, which showcases a number of dying arts such as exquisite French lace embroidery. Continue to dhobi wallah, a wash-house where a sea of white hotel sheets and clothing are slathered on the washing stones. Afternoon at leisure to further explore the labyrinthine streets and their array of local markets. (B)
Fly to London via Dubai with Emirates. (B)
As per itinerary – B: Breakfast,
L: Lunch, D: Dinner, N: No meals.
This tour is based in 4- and 5-star
This itinerary can be taken privately on a date that suits
you, for which guideline prices are shown.
Alternatively, it can be tailored to your exact
requirements. Please call to speak with a Cox & Kings consultant or
This tour can be booked / reserved online by clicking on one of the coloured links below.
CMK2019: 12 Nights
Kochi (Cochin), overlooking the Arabian Sea and once a strategic port on the spice route, is an enchanting blend of east meets west...
Madurai, formerly the seat of power for the Pandya dynasty, is one of the oldest cities...
An island on Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom is just 16 km west of Kottayam and only 1 hour 30...
Chennai (Madras), offers pre-colonial highlights including the Kapaleeswarar Temple and...
The hill town of Munnar is set amid dramatic mountain scenery and surrounded by mile upo...
The charming seaside town of Puducherry (Pondicherry) is a former French colony settled...