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Treasures of Southern India

Private Travel | General interest 14 Days & 12 Nights Lead-in price: £2740 Current prices from: £2740

The delicate scent of spices, the sound of temple bells and a rich tapestry of ancient arts and craft all characterise Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This journey travels through hill stations, tropical backwaters and templeladen towns while staying in some of the region’s very best hotels.

The Cox & Kings signature experiences

  • Stay in the heart of the French quarter in Puducherry (Pondicherry)
  • Visit Meenakshi Temple for the night ceremony
  • Spend 2 nights relaxing in the Keralan backwaters at the sublime Kumarakom Lake Resort
  • Guided tour of hidden Kochi
  • Stay in 4- & 5-star accommodation
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Superior Group Tour in brief

Day 1: Fly to Chennai

Fly from London (regional connections available) to Chennai (Madras) with British Airways. (N)

Day 2: Chennai

On arrival transfer to the Taj Connemara 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)

Day 3: Mahabalipuram • Puducherry

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)

Day 4: Puducherry

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. Afternoon guided walk through Puducherry, stop by the Aurobindo ashram, stroll to the lively Tamil quarters and experience Hindu faith at the Ganesh temple in the evening. (B)

Day 5: Chidambaram • Kumbakonam

Witness the daily rituals at Chidambaram Temple and the art of Kalamkari, which uses plant-based dyes to create intricate artwork, before driving through scenic countryside to Kumbakonam for 2 nights at the Mantra Koodam. In the early evening, try your hand at pottery and enjoy an interactive culinary demonstration, led by expert chefs. (B, D)

Day 6: Kumbakonam

Discover the crafts and culture of Tamil Nadu. Observe master foundrymen produce extraordinarily detailed bronze cast statues; see the process of ‘pattu’ silk weaving, using wooden handlooms. Try producing your own ‘kolams’, colourful patterns that are displayed outside homes. You will also visit one of the largest vegetable markets in Asia and the Darasuram Temple, renowned for its delicate stone sculptures. The Vedic School dates back 140 years and is a worthwhile visit. Afternoon at leisure or cycle into the countryside. (B, D)

Day 7: Tanjore • Chettinad

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)

Day 8: Madurai

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)

Day 9: Munnar

Travel to the hill country around Munnar for an overnight stay at Fragrant Nature. After lunch in a tea planter’s bungalow, visit the Suryanelli tea factory to enjoy a guided tour, tea tasting and a gentle stroll through the tea plantation. (B, L, D)

Day 10: Kumarakom

Morning at leisure or visit the Srishti Welfare Centre, which trains disabled children in making some amazing handmade products. Travel to Kumarakom for 2 nights at the Aveda Kumarakom (Poolside Premium Cottage). Upgrade to a Lakefront Luxury Villa with plunge pool from £95pp for 2 nights. (B, D)

Day 11: Kumarakom

Day at leisure to enjoy the beautiful surrounds or explore village life in the backwaters. (B, D)

Day 12: Kochi

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)

Day 13: Kochi

Morning sightseeing tour of Kochi including the Chinese fishing nets and the 16th-century St Francis Church. Explore hidden Kochi including Jew Town and dhobi wallah, a washhouse where a sea of white hotel sheets and clothing are slathered on the washing stones. Afternoon at leisure to further explore the streets and their array of local markets. (B)

Day 14: Fly to London via Mumbai

Fly to London via Mumbai with British Airways. (B)

Meal basis:

As per itinerary – B: Breakfast, L: Lunch, D: Dinner, N: No meals.

Important information Superior tour:

This tour is based in 4- and 5-star accommodation.

Private & tailor-made travel:

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 enquire online.

Superior group tour accommodation

  • Palais de Mahé - CGH Earth
    Palais de Mahé - CGH Earth

    A quaint hotel in the heart of Puducherry's French quarter, Palais de Mahé is minutes from the area's famous promenade, historic temples, cathedrals and colourful boutiques. With high ceilings, deep verandas, bright tangerine pillars and ochre colonnades, this heritage-style mansion features spacious guestrooms that echo the distinctive Indo-French architecture, decorated with simple, period-style furniture either sourced locally or crafted by artisans from the region. While traditionally these mansions feature a large courtyard, this has been replaced with an inviting pool. The rooftop restaurant serves delicious south Indian cuisine. Features: 18 rooms, rooftop restaurant, cocktail bar, cafe, swimming pool, spa, Wi-Fi. Room amenities: Air conditioning, television, minibar, safe.

  • Mantra Koodam - CGH Earth
    Mantra Koodam - CGH Earth

    Tucked away in the peaceful village of Veppathru, close to the temple town of Kumbakonam, the Mantra Koodam offers elegant cottages and bungalows surrounded by a serene verdant garden. There is an array of activities on offer at the property ranging from nature and birdwatching walks to cycling and village tours. The restaurant serves delicious vegetarian dishes using locally grown and sourced ingredients.

  • Kumarakom Lake Resort
    Kumarakom Lake Resort

    Looking out to a panoramic view of Lake Vembanad and set in 4 hectares of gardens, the Kumarakom Lake Resort is a haven of peace and tranquillity. The resort comprises 52 double-bedded air-conditioned traditional cottages. Each cottage, painstakingly relocated and restored ‘Illums' (Keralan homesteads), provide a relaxed and informal Keralan atmosphere. The resort offers a wide range of Ayurvedic treatments.

  • Hyatt Regency Chennai
    Hyatt Regency Chennai

    Centrally located in Chennai, the Hyatt Regency is a modern, luxurious hotel with large rooms and an array of fine-dining options to choose from. Rooms are fitted with every modern convenience required for a comfortable stay and many offer a wonderful view over the city of Chennai. Enjoy traditional Indian or international cuisine at the wonderful Spice Haat restaurant or try one of the Italian, Chinese or Japanese speciality restaurants. Features: 325 rooms, 4 restaurants, bar, wine cellar, swimming pool, spa, Wi-Fi. Room amenities: Air conditioning, television, minibar, safe, tea & coffee facilities.

  • Heritage Madurai
    Heritage Madurai

    Heritage Madurai (previously Heritance Madurai) is a seamless blend of traditional elegance and modern comfort set among lush gardens. The original Madurai Coats Club from the time of the British Raj, this property has not lost its British flavour. After extensive refurbishment it was completely restored in keeping with the traditional architecture of the town. The rooms are spacious, tastefully furnished and designed to meet the demands of discerning travellers. The 18th-century columns and antique doors from the Chettinad district give the hotel a distinctive character. Features: 70 rooms, 2 restaurants, bar, swimming pool, spa, Wi-Fi. Room amenities: Ceiling fan, television, minibar, safe, tea & coffee facilities.

  • Fragrant Nature Munnar
    Fragrant Nature Munnar

    Located in the hills of Munnar and offering panoramic views of valleys, villages and mountains, Fragrant Nature is an excellent choice for those wanting luxurious comfort in a remote location. All the rooms are tastefully designed with traditional décor and have their own fireplaces to keep you warm in the chill of the mountains.

  • Chidambara Villas A Luxury Heritage Resort
    Chidambara Villas A Luxury Heritage Resort

    Originally built during the late 19th century by the Chettiyars of the Karaikudi region, Chidambara Vilas is a mansion that has been converted into a hotel. Sympathetically restored over a period of 3 years, the hotel retains many of its original features including the period furniture, pillared columns exquisitely carved out of Burma teak and the Belgian Chandeliers. Each of the 25 spacious rooms is comfortably furnished and carefully combines old-world charm with the essential requirements of modern-day traveller. The rooms are decorated individually and no two are the same size. The hotel's facilities include a main dining area that serves traditional Chettinad cuisine. The interactive kitchen set next to this dining area offers guests the opportunity to learn about traditional Chettinad cuisine. There is also a fine dining restaurant with an ambience that takes you back to colonial days. The fine dining restaurant serves Chettinad delicacies prepared according to guests preference. ...

Superior group tour extensions

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Dates & prices


Main Costs

Flexible Prices & Itineraries
For a quote based on alternative accommodation standards or flight options, or to tailor this itinerary, please call 020 7873 5000 or send an email enquiry

Additional Information

Please call 020 7873 5000 for more information or to make a booking.

Prices above are per person in pounds sterling (£), based on two people sharing a twin-room. The prices which were valid at the time of publication, may be subject to change, particularly as a result of variable flight costs. You will be informed of any such changes prior to booking.

  • • 4- & 5-star accommodation
    • Flexible - extensions, room & flight upgrades available
    • Small group size - average 14 people (max 18)
    • International flights with Emirates
    • Transfers in an air-conditioned vehicle
    • Experienced local tour manager
    • 13 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 6 dinners
    • Guided sightseeing & entrance feest
    • Porterage at airports & stations
    • Balanced pace

Destinations on this tour

  • Chennai (Madras)

    Chennai (Madras), offers pre-colonial highlights including the Kapaleeswarar Temple and...

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  • Puducherry (Pondicherry)

    The charming seaside town of Puducherry (Pondicherry) is a former French colony settled...

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  • Madurai

    Madurai, formerly the seat of power for the Pandya dynasty, is one of the oldest cities...

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  • Munnar

    The hill town of Munnar is set amid dramatic mountain scenery and surrounded by mile upo...

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  • Kumarakom

    An island on Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom is just 16 km west of Kottayam and only 1 hour 30...

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  • Kochi (Cochin)

    Kochi (Cochin), overlooking the Arabian Sea and once a strategic port on the spice route, is an enchanting blend of east meets west...

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