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South India Experience

$2,795.00

TAMIL NADU & KERALA ADVENTURE
Our Southern India adventure begins in the deep-south state of Tamil Nadu. It is the homeland of one of humanity’s living classical civilizations, stretching back uninterrupted for more than two millennia and very much alive today in the Tamils’ language, dance, poetry and Hindu religion. Tamil Nandu culture is as dynamic as it is immersed in tradition. Fire-worshipping devotees who smear tikka on their brows in Tamil Nadu’s famously spectacular temples might rush off to IT offices – and then unwind at a glitzy night-time haunt in rapidly modernizing Chennai or with sun salutations in bohemian Pondicherry.

Continue to Kerala, famous for its backwaters, elegant houseboats, Ayurvedic treatments and taste-bud-tingling cuisine. Kerala is also home to wild elephants, jaguars, and the odd tiger. This is a fascinating journey through India’s laid-back tropical south, to experience the diversity in scenery, architecture, culture, and most importantly…the people. Some of the friendliest folks in the world live in Kerala. Kerala is a tropical bliss with an idyllic coastline and lush tropical hills. Despite its relative riches, the majority of the population in Kerala life continue with agriculture, tea, coffee, and spice plantations and the coir industry, which still provides the basic economic structure of the region. Experience firsthand why they call it ‘God’s Own Country’.

Available upon request.

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HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:

    • – Strolling the quiet French colonial quarter in Pondicherry

 

    • – Visiting multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Temples in Tamil Nandu and Kerala

 

    • – Sampling delicious cuisine and learning how to cook traditional foods

 

    • – Hiking through the tea plantations near Munnar

 

    • – Meeting local artisans and artists to chat with them about their trades

 

    • – Exploring the Backwaters of Kerala in a traditionally made houseboat

 

    • – Experiencing traditional dance and musical performances

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Day 01: Arrival to Chennai – Mahabalipuram (65Kms/1.5hrs)
Upon arrival at Chennai International airport, meet and assistance by our office representative, followed by a transfer to your Sea side Hotel in Mahabalipuram.
Check-in on arrival and reset until evening then go explore the masterpiece of Mahabalipuram‘s Rock Cut Caves representing the scenes of Hindu myths and finish by the site of the Five Rathas. Each of these temples was named after one of the Pandavas, the five hero-brothers of the epic Mahabharata.

Drive back to your hotel, Overnight stay. (Bed and Breakfast)

Day 02: Mahabalipuram –Dakshina Chitra – Mahabalipuram (30Kms/30 mnts)
Breakfast at the hotel, proceed on a tour of Dakshina Chitra, a Cultural Living Museum of Art, Architecture, Lifestyles, Crafts and Performing Arts of South India. Enjoy a live performance organized at activity hall.
After the visit enjoy a delicious Lunch.

Drive back to your hotel, Overnight stay.
Lunch + (Bed and Breakfast)

Day 03: Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry (100kms/2.5hrs)
Breakfast. Check-out, head to Pondicherry. Settled by the French in the 18th century, Pondicherry retains a quiet colonial atmosphere with wide shady streets lined with colourful stucco houses. An ongoing French presence in the town means that many local dishes are subtly fused with French ingredients and techniques. En-route visit Auroville and understand the unique community living here based on universal harmony. You will be taken through the visitor’s centre and a few of the Auroville units which innovatively work on paper, textile, bamboo and stones among others. Experience the Lunch at Solar kitchen – the community Kitchen. See the Matri mandir (the meditation centre) from outside.
Continue drive to Pondicherry and check in at the hotel. A walk through promenade beach is suggested in the evening . Overnight at the hotel. Lunch + (Bed and Breakfast)

Day 04: Pondicherry
Enjoy a small stroll through the colonial streets of the white town with your Storyteller. Take a hint into the lifestyle shops; wander in the bohemian chic atmosphere of the French quarter, continue through the Tamil quarter with the Storyteller. Pass by the Tamil quarter and learn the anecdotes of the distinctiveness of Franco-Tamil culture, creating a fusion of diversity in the air of Pondy… go see the Ganesha temple. Return to your hotel.
Rest of the day Free to explore Pondicherry on your own.
Overnight stay. (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 05: Pondicherry – Kumbakonam – Tanjore (170 Km /4.5hrs)
Breakfast. Drive to Tanjore, former capital of the mighty Cholas
Empire. Enroute visit the Colony of Silk Weaver at Darasuram and discover the Art of the Saree Weaving, made out from their Traditional Wood Machinery, tracing few generations. Follow to and see its famous Airavatesvara Chola Temple, UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Open from 06.00 A.M.-12.30 & 04 P.M. – 8.00 P.M).

Enjoy a warm lunch at the Paradise Resorts in Kumbakonam. Later drive to Tanjore visit of the World Heritage-listed Brigadeswara Temple, build in the 11th century by Raja Raja I (‘King of Kings’). Enter through the Nayak Gate, followed by two original Gopurams with some elaborate stucco sculptures. Inside discover several shrines, including one of India’s largest statues of Nandi (Shiva’s sacred bull).

Proceed to the hotel and check-in. Indulge in the Resort activities, possibilities to witness light Classical Music or a Dance Performance in the evening.

Lunch + (Bed and Breakfast)

Day 06: Tanjore –Chettinad (100kms/2.5hrs)
Breakfast. Check-out, drive to see the Art of Tanjore Veena making and Bronze idols by Stapathis (sculptors) as per the traditional Shilpa Sastras ( Hindu Craft System) prevailed from the Chola period. Continue your visit to the Thanjavur’s Royal Palace, which preserves memories of other powerful dynasties from later centuries. Here, explore the Saraswati Mahal Library Museum housing over 30000 Indian and European manuscripts and the Art Gallery.

Later drive through the plains to the unique area of Tamil Nadu known as Chettinad.
On arrival Check in hotel & Lunch. Evening free to explore the place .
Overnight stay at hotel (Half Board)

Day 07: Chettinad
Breakfast. Proceed for a Heritage tour to explore the elaborately decorated and unique feature of the Chettinad mansions. Visit the Chettinad Palace, built for the royal Alagappa Chettiar in 1912. Stained glass, teak, tiles, granite and wrought iron work truly makes the Chettinad Palace a work of art. Go around the village to see some of the centers making local snack called Murukku and also a small scale weaving centre.

Later visit a tile factory at Athangudi. Athangudi tiles are basically cement tiles like mosaic, but unlike the machine pressed and produced mosaics, they are handmade over glass surfaces. Back to hotel for rest and later in the evening drive to village outskirts to see the Ayyanar temple (horse temple). A place where rows of grinning and colourful terra cotta horses greet you once you enter the temple complex. Ayyanar is an ancient and regional expression of the Hindu God Shiva. These smiling horses are offerings from villagers – thanks giving for a prayer fulfilled.
Chettinad cuisine is perhaps the most renowned fare in the Tamil Nadu repertoire. It uses a Variety of spices and the dishes are made with fresh ground spices ”Masalas” like star aniseed, lichen, tamarind, chilies, fennel, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, peppercorn, cumin and fenugreek. Chettinad cuisine offers a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Chettiars also use a variety of sun dried meats and salted vegetables, reflecting the dry environment of the region. Most of the dishes are eaten with rice and rice based accompaniments.

On your return participate in a Cooking Demo learning the intricacies of Chettinadu Cuisine followed by dinner.
(Half Board)

Day 08: Chettinad-Madurai (100kms/2hrs)
Breakfast. Drive south to another vibrant city of Tamil Nadu, Madurai. On arrival check in at your Hotel. Later the day proceeds on a Guided Tour and go deep into the real life of this Tamil rooted oldest city. Walk in the narrow streets flanked by flowers and bananas stands, interact with local people, watch people milking cows by hand and stroll down in the bazaars. Learn with your guide the 5000 years old legends of this busting city while having a south Indian Filter coffee from the corner tea stall.

Transfer by autorickshaw to a Roof top Dinner with views to the Gopurams of the Meenakshi temple.
Later attend the Night Ceremony at the Temple when the temple bronze of Lord Shiva is carried to the
Overnight stay. Dinner +(Bed and Breakfast)

Day 09: Madurai – Munnar (185 Km / 6 hrs)
Breakfast. Check out and leave for Munnar. Stop at the Nearby Tirumalai Nayak Palace, built in 1636 by king Thirumalai Nayak, in Indo-Sarcenic style with the input of an Italian architect. Then on route enjoy the unique opportunity to make a Stop at the Madurai’s flower market, which is one of the biggest in the southern region, and transacts as much as 10 tonnes of flowers in a day, mainly the renowned Madurai malli and other flowers like marigolds, tuberoses and roses.

On to Munnar, South India’s largest tea-growing region – enroute stops for Refreshments and Lunch (Payable Locally). Passing through the rolling hills and sculpted tea gardens arrive at your next accommodation.

Overnight stay. (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 10: Munnar
Early in morning start by jeep to the trek point. Go on a Half-day trekking passing through the rolling hills and sculpted Tea gardens of Munnar (Easy trek / duration 4 hrs). Gradual trek and hike through the tea plantations. View from top of the hill is spectacular. Picnic time!

Later visit the Tea factory at Lockhart Estate and enjoy the tea tasting. You will be transferred by Jeep back to the hotel. Early Evening head to Srishti TATA project for a visit. This project is a venture of Tata Global Beverages for the rehabilitation of the differently abled. Enjoy some shopping time in this community center and get some Strawberry jam (handmade), handmade paper or clothing naturally dyed on site. Also visit Tea Museum which explains the history of Tea in Munnar – a good opportunity to get authentic tea dust and related products.

Overnight stay at your hotel. (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 11: Munnar – Kumarakom (180km / 5 hrs)
Breakfast. Drive downhill to Kumarakom. This town slumbers on the banks of the famous Vembanad Lake, with its majestic canals, streams and distributaries along its banks, weave an intricate and enchantingly beautiful web. The bird sanctuary close by is an ornithologist’s paradise and a favourite haunt of migratory birds.

Check-in at your hotel.
Rest of the day free to explore the resort and its activities. Village Walks, Country Canoe ride, sunset cruise or a
rejuvenating Ayurveda Massage (Payable Locally), to name a few.

Overnight stay at your hotel. (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 12: Kumarakom
Breakfast. This morning goes into: Ayamanam Village”, home of Arundhathi Roy’s novel ‘The God of Small Things’. Start your local immersion with a ride on a traditional canoe cruise through the narrow, winding canals and catch the scenic daily life of the bordering houses. Follow with a walk in the heart of this typical Kuttanad village surrounded by paddy fields and identify the snakes abodes, sacred to earliest habitants.

Be invited in a Kathakali master house who will introduce you to this traditional theatre form, which adapts styles of ancient Sanskrit with visual presentations of human expressions. Back to hotel, rest of the day is free for independent activities.

Overnight stay at hotel. (Bed and Breakfast)

Day 13: Kumarakom – Alleppey Houseboat (45 Km / 1 hrs)
Breakfast. By Mid day drive to Alleppey to board your Private Houseboat for an enchanting cruise through the Backwaters.
These boats are a reworked version of kettuvallams of olden times -once used to carry tons of rice and spices, today are converted into comfortable floating accommodation. Cruise through the palm fringed canals enjoying the beauty of rural village life. A sumptuous Keralan Meal is served on board. The trip continues through a wonderful area of the lush green vegetation of Kerala backwaters. Tea and Local snacks are served.

Dinner and Overnight stay on Board (Full Board)

Day 14: Alleppey – Cochin (65Kms/1.5Hrs)
Breakfast. Check-out and drive to Cochin , On arrival you will experience the real local life of Cochin during an Ethnic tour – On arrival visit the Jewish Synagogue at the heart of what is locally called Jewish Town, and the Dutch Palace with its beautiful mural paintings from the 17th century. Continue through the small streets of Mattancherry, and arrive at the Fruit market on Palace road where locals get a variety of fresh and organic produces at bargains prices. Enjoy the aroma of Spice Market, where exotic odour of the finest ginger, cloves, cardamom, turmeric and pepper emanate from the spice warehouses lining the street and fills it.

Make a pause at one of the tea shops –to experience the “one meter” Tea. The Brahmins are a prominent community spread across the whole of India. Now is the opportunity meet with a Brahmin family who is the highest of the four Hindu castes, made up of priests and scholars of Vedic literature and their traditional occupation is to concern themselves with the spiritual guidance of the people, conduct rites at marriages, births, deaths and other auspicious occasions. See the Art of KOLAM which each family does on daily basis in their front yard. Enjoy Lunch at a Cafe Restaurant.

And then proceed to start with a walking tour , visit of the famous Chinese Fishing Nets of Cochin. Next visit is at the St. Francis CSI Church, the oldest European church in India built in 1503, where the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama was originally buried and the Santa Cruz Basilica, one of the finest and imposing churches in Indiabefore then taking a Tuk – Tuk the most popular mode of transport among the localities- to the Dhobi Khana (laundry station), once throbbing with activity, it is now a picture of slow extinction.

Drive to Hotel and check-in for overnight stay. Tonight we enjoy our last meal together.
Lunch , Dinner + (bed and Breakfast)

Day 15: Departure Cochin (45kms/1.5hrs)
Time to bid good bye. After breakfast transfer to the Cochin International airport to connect your flight back home or continue to Northern India.

…Tour Ends…

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Important Info” tab_id=”1449289392103-be095264-cb20″][vc_column_text]PLEASE NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change. Although we always do our best to stick to the itinerary, due to the ever changing nature of Namibia, activities, restaurants, hotels, campsites, and visits are subject to change due to forces beyond our control.

PASSPORTS: Must be valid for at least 6 months upon return date to your home country. Proper documentation is the responsibility of each traveller.

VISAS: Most visitors require a VISA when visiting India. It is the TRAVELLER’S responsibility to check on entrance requirements. Please visit https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html.

INDIA: How can you possibly prepare yourself for Travel?
To take advantage of your trip, we suggest prepare yourself a little. Here are some Travel tips which we hope will be useful, ensuring comfort, while travelling in Southern India.
In order to enter India you will need:
A signed, valid passport and a tourist visa. Your passport must remain valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of your trip. It is also imperative that your passport has at least 2 blank visa pages available for entry and exit stamps. The government of India offers two options for tourist visas. Your entry requirements may vary depending on your nationality. Please consult the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the country or countries you will be visiting. One option is a multiple entry visa which can be obtained through the traditional application process. This type of visa has a 1 year validity and allows multiple visits and a stay of up to 90 days. You need to apply for a traditional Indian visa if you are exiting and re-entering India during the course of your tour.
The other option is the Electronic Tourist Visa (eTV). This type of visa allows a single entry for a stay of up to 30 days in India.
More information regarding the eTV system can be found here https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html. Please read and follow all instructions carefully to avoid any possible complications on arrival in India. Do not apply an eTV any earlier than 34 days and no later than four days before your scheduled date of arrival.

India’s unit of currency is the Indian Rupee.
Exchange currency only at authorized outlets such as exchange kiosks, banks and hotels. Keep receipts of Transactions which
may be required when exit the country, and also if you intend to reconvert local currency.
We suggest travelling with some U.S. dollars or Euros, or Sterling Pound to be exchanged for local currency and at least two major credit cards. Hotels and some stores in large cities accept all major credit cards, but in small towns cash may be required. Notify your credit card company of your travel plans prior to your departure to avoid any fraud concerns. ATM access is available in any cities. Cash is the best (generally, the only) option in street markets.
We do not recommend traveller’s cheques as they are not as widely accepted as in previous years. Lodges outside of major cities do not accept traveler’s cheques.

Required Vaccination
A yellow fever vaccination is required to enter India only if you are arriving from or have transited through a yellow fever endemic area in South America or Africa. If vaccination for yellow fever is necessary, you must carry an International Certificate of Vaccination provided by your physician; If you are advised against receiving the vaccination because of your personal medical history, a certificate from your Physician to this effect is required.
India is a huge country and its weather conditions are affected by diverse regions which include mountains, deserts, highlands and coastal plains. In general, India’s climate is warm and tropical although parts of northern and western India can be very cold from December through January.
The months of November to February bring the most pleasant weather throughout the country. Average temperatures in Delhi during this cool season range from daily highs of 60 -80 F to lows between 40 -50 F. Summer begins in mid-March and lasts through mid-June with April and May being the hottest months. The heaviest rains of the monsoon season begin in July and last through mid-October, with the amount of rainfall varying by region. The northern states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Sikkim in the northeastern hills, have a cooler, more continental influenced climate.

Use a website such as weather.com to find average temperatures and rainfall during your travel times.

India – 220 volts and 50 hertz

Smart Casual clothing such as lightweight pants, loose shorts, trousers and at the least, short-sleeved shirts are recommended.
It is suggested that Women pack a scarf large enough to cover bare neck and shoulders. Other items, worthwhile to carry are;
Comfortable, walking shoes with low or no heels
Sweater or lightweight jacket
Lightweight raincoat or poncho
Swimming suit
Sunglasses, sun block and a sunhat
Mosquito repellent
Lightweight binoculars (optional)
Simple first-aid kit, Prescriptions and medications
Charging cables for electronics. Voltage converter and adapter plugs

In India, the National language is Hindi. Each state, however, has its own regional official language as well – 14 in all. English is widely spoken all over the country. After Hindi it is the most widely spoken tongue in India and probably the most widely written and read.

Do not use tap water for drinking or brushing teeth. It is always preferable and safer to use only bottled or canned water. Regardless of precautions, changes in water and diet can result in mild abdominal upsets and nausea. To prevent serious illness, avoid suspect foods such as uncooked vegetables, peeled fruit, un-pasteurized milk and milk products. Be selective when you try any food or drink sold by street vendors.

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SAMPLE HOTELS (Subject to change)
PLACE NIGHTS DELUXE HOTELS MEAL PLAN
MAHABALIPURAM 02 Ideal Beach Resort Bed and Breakfast
PONDICHERRY 02 Promenade Bed and Breakfast
TANJORE 01 Ideal River View Bed and Breakfast
CHETTINADU 02 The Bangala Half Board
MADURAI 01 TAJ Gateway- Pasumalai Bed and Breakfast
MUNNAR 02 Blackberry Hills Bed and Breakfast
KUMARAKOM 02 Backwater Ripples Bed and Breakfast
Alleppey 01 Houseboat Full Board
COCHIN 01 CGH Eighth Bastion Bed and Breakfast
Please note ALL ACCOMMODATION IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. Hotels will be confirmed 30 days prior to departure.

Pre and Post Tour Accommodation: If you require accommodation before or after your tour we can arrange this for you as well as additional Tours to Taj Mahal, Varanasi, etc.

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TOUR PACKAGE INCLUDES:
• 14 nights accommodation on double / twin sharing basis at all hotels mentioned hotels (or similar).
• Breakfast at all Places and Meals as mentioned in itinerary (14 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners)
• Transportation as per itinerary by chauffeur driven air conditioned Vehicle.
• Local English Speaking Guides at places for the sightseeing as per itinerary
• Entrance charges at the monuments as mentioned in the itinerary
• Visit of Auroville with English speaking Guide
• Pondicherry walking tour with a Storyteller
• Visit to Bronze making center, Painting and Veena making centers in Tanjore
• Flower market visit in Madurai
• Evening ceremony in Meenakshi temple in Madurai by Auto-rickshaw
• Soft Trek at Munnar
• Lockhart Tea Factory visit at Munnar
• Backwater Experience by Houseboat Cruise(Overnight)
• Ethnic tour of Fort Kochi by walk and Auto-rickshaw ride
• Assistance on arrival and departure
• All currently applicable taxes
• Tips for guides/drivers/included meals

TOUR PACKAGE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
• International flights to/from India – (arriving to Chennai/departing from Kochi) Contact [email protected] for a
quote. Please DO NOT book flights until the tour is confirmed.
• Camera fees & activity charges other than those listed in the itinerary inclusions
• Meals & drinks not included in itinerary
• Mandatory travel medical insurance (available through [email protected])
• Expenses of personal nature such as porterage, laundry, telephones, tipping etc.
• International/Domestic flight charges and Visa/Insurance charges, if any
• Any other items not covered under inclusions

*IMPORTANT NOTES:
– Though we will do our best to follow this itinerary as closely as possible, it is subject to change due to factors beyond our control[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Pricing & Dates” tab_id=”1449223591510-29ce0fb2-4171″][vc_column_text]

Date: UPON REQUEST

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