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Classic South India

Discover a thousand shades of green, indulge in some of the continent’s freshest food, and share moments of connection with locals on this 13-day tour. Travel down the scenic East Coast Road into the countryside and across to the west coast before finishing in India’s deep south. Experience the cultures, religions, and histories of this region through its small rural towns, fishing villages, and the scented spice plantations set in the picturesque Western Ghats mountains. This revelatory trip introduces you to an area less travelled from the comfort of a private vehicle.

13 days, from


per person


12 people max


Trip code: HHKS
Style: Comfort
Theme: Explorer


Countries Visited:  India
Accommodation: Hotel (10 nights), Resort (2 nights)
Transportation: Private vehicle , Ferry
Included Meals:

  • 12 breakfasts
  • 1 lunches
  • 5 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Take a nature walk in the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, looking out for tiger tracks with your local village guides.

  • Explore Puducherry and discover its colonial French Quarter and colourful multi-tiered temples, and cruise along the dreamy palm-lined waterways of the Kerala backwaters.

  • See behind the scenes of local cuisine during a hands on cooking class in Madurai and an insightful ayurvedic cooking demonstration in Kochi.

  • Discover the diversity and incredible history of Kochi through a tour of its buildings, like India’s oldest functioning synagogue and a mixture of Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial architecture.

  • Witness the dramatic beauty of Kathakali, a captivating storytelling dance that artists must study for over a decade before performing.


Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Chennai

Welcome to Chennai, India! Formerly Madras, this frenetic city is South India’s largest, and the perfect place to dive straight into the culture, religion and cuisine of the region. On arrival at the airport, you will be transferred to your hotel. Your adventure begins with an important group meeting at 6 pm, where you’ll meet your local leader and the fellow travellers joining you on your journey. If you arrive in Chennai with time to spare, perhaps take a walk along Marina Beach, check out the Santhome Cathedral or get your hands on a cup of the city’s famous filter coffee.

Day 2: Mamallapuram – Puducherry

From Chennai, drive along the scenic East Coast Road to the fishing village of Mamallapuram. Join a local guide for a tour around the town’s laidback beaches and temples, keeping an eye out for the sculptures and carvings dotted around the place. Visit the incredible 8th-century Shore Temple and its mandapams (carved pillars) to pay your respects to the deity Shiva. Continue onto Puducherry (Pondicherry) in the late afternoon where your evening is then free.

Day 3: Puducherry

Explore Puducherry, which was under French rule until 1954, and the European style of the town extends from beautiful colonial architecture right down to the uniforms of the police. Enjoy a walking tour to see local temples, the French Quarter, and the spiritual community of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The rest of the day and evening is free. Puducherry’s food scene is truly unique, as Indian classics have a distinctly French spin on them – be sure to ask your leader for tips on the best places to grab dinner this evening.

Day 4: Karaikudi

Drive to Karaikudi today. On arrival, check into your heritage property accommodation, an elegantly decorated mansion built in 1902. After settling in, take a walk around the village with your leader to learn about the lives of the local communities. Along the way, you’ll stop off to admire havelis – these old mansions were ornately decorated as a display of wealth, and many remain around this region today. This evening, ask your leader for recommendations on where to get some spicy Chettinad cuisine for dinner.

Day 5: Madurai

Continue on to Madurai. Here you will wander through the colourful markets and bazaars, then visit the Sri Meenakshi Temple in the city’s centre. Still in use today, this ancient temple is a maze of lamp-lit corridors leading to shrines where traditional rituals take place, including the remarkable thousand pillar hall. You might also like to explore the National Gandhi Museum (optional), dedicated to the life and achievements of the 'Father of the Nation' and the leader of India's fight for independence. Your evening is then free to spend as you please.

Day 6: Madurai

The day is yours for your own explorations of one of India’s oldest cities. Madurai has a wealth of treasures to uncover, from buzzing bazaars and tailors’ markets to roadside stalls selling cold glasses of jigarthanda and savoury idli rice cakes. Perhaps visit the Art Museum to see a superb collection of carvings, or check out the Tirumalai Nayak Palace. Regroup this evening for a chance to get hands on with a cooking class focused on Tamil cuisine. Local favourites include mutton balls, dosa, and crispy bun parottas, so prepare to leave with a full stomach and a load of new recipes.

Day 7: Periyar

Drive through rubber and pineapple plantations to Thekkady. Your accommodation here is on the outskirts of Periyar National Park, perched lakeside in the ranges of the Western Ghats. The sanctuary surrounds a picturesque lake, which was formed as a result of a dam that was built in 1895. It ambles through the contours of the wooded hills and is a permanent source of water for local wildlife. This afternoon, take a tour of a local spice plantation. Here you’ll gain insight on the plant life, spices, herbs, fruits and flowers of the region, and how they are used in Ayurvedic medicine. Find out how the spices are grown, harvested, dried and prepared. Later in the day, you may like to attend a demonstration of Indian martial arts (kalaripayattu) at the Kadathanadan Kalari Centre.

Day 8: Periyar

In the morning, take a guided nature walk in the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (approximately 3 hours). If you’re lucky, you could spot tiger tracks, spotted deer, Indian elephants and gaur – the world's largest species of buffalo. You may also have the chance to see Bonnet macaques and the Malabar giant squirrel, a species native to India. In the afternoon, unwind with an optional ayurvedic massage or just relax in this scenic setting.

Day 9: Kochi

In the morning, drive to Kochi, aka Cochin. Today is a long driving day, but your journey will be broken up with plenty of stops, and the fantastic scenery is sure to keep your occupied. Kochi is a veritable melting pot of Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and British influences. On arrival, you may like to stretch your legs and wander down the beach at sunset.

Day 10: Kochi

Visit the Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace), which was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese before the Dutch renovated it. Then check out the oldest functioning Jewish synagogue in India, the Paradesi Synagogue. For lunch today, you’ll meet a local expert and learn all about Satvik Bhojan, the ayurvedic diet. Take part in a cooking demonstration using the methods and recipes discussed, then enjoy the dishes for lunch. In the evening witness a classic Kathakali performance, a dramatic dance that combines storytelling with physical technique.

Day 11: Kerala Backwaters

Drive from Kochi to Kumarkon to your resort along the riverside. This sleepy village is quintessential Kerala backwaters, with its shady palm trees, winding waterways and traditional houseboats. On arrival, get out on the water and take a short cruise around the backwaters before heading out on a village walk. Stroll under palm trees and weave in between the rice fields while you see local residents going about their daily lives in this unique and tranquil environment.

Day 12: Kovalam

In the morning, drive to Kovalam via Kerala’s capital, Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram). Kovalam was once a quiet coastal village known for its export of fresh fish and coconuts, but is now one of India’s more popular beach resorts. Visit the ancient temple of Attukal Bhagavathy in the afternoon. If you have free time, explore the old signaling station of Anchuthengu Fort or the 16th-century Koyikkal Palace. Your evening is then free to do as you wish. Perhaps head out with the group for a farewell meal together tonight – the local cuisine is known for its use of coconuts, curry leaves and fresh seafood, so dig in while you have the chance.

Day 13: Kovalam

Your trip comes to an end after breakfast and you’re free to leave the accommodation at any time.