South India Treasures

Chennai, Madurai, Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kumarakom, Kochi
Overview

overview

Southern India is a very different world from the North, and this trip features the best of this greener, gentler India. You'll be welcomed into the country by the "gateway to Southern India," the city of Chennai. Explore various monumental buildings and forts here, including the former British stronghold Fort St. George.  Learn about Gandhi at the Gandhi Museum and see Thirumalai Nayak Palace in Madurai. Spend time exploring around Periyar National Park and enjoy a safari by boat where you may spot hundreds of animals. You'll probably spot a few wild elephants, but if you're one of the lucky few, you'll spot the elusive tiger. Continue on to the beautiful backwaters of Kumarakom and get a glimpse of the lives of the locals that live along the waters of the largest freshwater lake in Kerala. Finally, end in Cochin where you will learn about the rich history of this vibrant city. Experience the artistic culture by watching a Kathakali dance performance, a dance form which depicts characters from epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. The picturesque villages, gracious people, and beautiful countryside of South India await you on this serene and insightful guided adventure.

Continue to detailed itinerary...
itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: arrive chennai
    Welcome to beautiful South India

    Welcome to India! Upon arrival, meet your guide and transfer to your hotel. Chennai (formerly Madras) is also known as the "Gateway to Southern India". The city was founded in 1639 by the East India Company and soon became a fortified trading post. Over the course of the next century, the city flourished, expanding rapidly and absorbing many surrounding villages becoming the modern and bustling city it is today.

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    Lemon Tree Hotel or similar (upgrade to Vivanta by Taj)
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: chennai
    Visit the famous Kapaleeshwarar Temple

    Chennai is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and home to approximately 7 million people. Spend the day exploring the three main parts of this fascinating city: Georgetown, central Chennai, and eastern Chennai. Your first stop will be Fort St. George, built by the British as their stronghold. The fort was the first structure in Madras town and the first territorial possession of the British in India. It's 20 foot walls still encircle India's largest Anglican Church, St. Mary's and the Fort St. George museum. The Tamil Nadu Government Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly are also located inside. Chennai is full of monumental buildings, including the magnificent High Court. With it's white onion domes and sandstone towers, this building is thought to be the finest example of Indo-Saracenic architecture in India. Take a cruise down Marine Drive, along one of the longest city beaches in the world and stop at the Basilica of San Thome, a neo-Gothic church with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. Later, visit the Kapaleeshwarar Temple, a 16th century structure dedicated to Lord Shiva. The huge tower is covered with a multitude of brightly colored plaster figures, and the temple itself is filled with devotees coming to worship. 

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Lemon Tree Hotel or similar (upgrade to Vivanta by Taj)
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: chennai
    Visit the ancient Shore Temple

    After breakfast, make the scenic drive along the Coromandel Coast in the direction of India's stone-carving capital, Mamallapuram. Before reaching your destination, visit Dakshin Chitra, a unique heritage center offering the visitor an authentic insight into the lifestyles of the diverse people of South India. Traditional craftsmen and folk artists work and perform in the reconstructed period spaces of 19th century streets, homes, and workshops. Continue on to Mamallupuram, which was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1995. Admire the astonishing ancient monuments you'll find here, which include open air bas-reliefs, temples, man-made caves, and monolithic rathas or "chariots" carved in situ from single boulders. One of the structures you'll see is Arjuna's Penance, the world's largest bas-relief at 88 feet long and 30 feet high. It is considered one of the great masterpieces of Indian art, portraying hundreds of celestial beings humans and animals watching the descent of the Ganges from the Himalayas. Later, visit the eighth century Shore Temple, which is believed to be the oldest stone temple in South India. The temple boasts five separate freestanding sculptures that portray mythological tales. Also, a life-sized carved elephant stands nearby. Return to your hotel in Chennai for the night.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Lemon Tree Hotel or similar (upgrade to Vivanta by Taj)
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: chennai / madurai
    Tour Meenakshi and other temples in Madurai (photo by Yashi Wong)

    In the morning, proceed to the airport for your flight to Madurai, often referred to as "Temple City." Madurai is among the oldest continuously inhabited cities with a date of origin going back roughly 2,500 years. In the afternoon, visit the Gandhi Memorial Museum. The museum actually contains a piece of blood-stained cloth from the robe Gandhi wore when he was assassinated. Continue to Thirumalai Nayak Palace, built in 1636 by King Thirumalai Nayak with the help of an Italian architect. The building is a classic fusion of Dravidian, Islamic, and European styles. Finally, end your tour with a visit to Meenakshi Temple. The temple represents many deities and features a Shiva shrine, a huge sculpture of Ganesh, and a shrine for a giant Ganesh temple called the Mukurony Vinayakar.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hotel Sangam or similar (upgrae to the Gateway Hotel)
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: madurai / thekaddy
    See Wild Elephants in Periyar

    In the morning, transfer to Thekkady (approx. 4 hrs), home to one of India's largest wildlife sanctuary. The sanctuary spans about 300 square miles and contains a massive lake that provides water for the animals. Thekkady is a paradise on earth for nature lovers with its vast and bountiful treasures of tropical flora and fauna. On arrival, check-in at your hotel where the rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy the natural scenery.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    The Elephant Court Hotel or similar (upgrade to Spice Village)
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: thekaddy
    Cruise Lake Periyar and look for wildlife

    Today you head to the Periyar Tiger Reserve for fantastic wildlife viewing by boat. Wildlife viewing by boat is a great vantage point for encountering animals along the edge of the lake. There are about 35 species of mammals that roam the park including the the elusive Bengal tiger and Indian elephant. Other species you might see are the wild pig, jungle cat, sloth bear, lion-tailed macaque, and Indian giant squirrel. The park is also home to many species of birds including the Malabar grey hornbill, blue-winged parakeet, the great hornbill, and the oriental darter. There are a variety of reptiles that roam the park as well including the King cobra and striped coral snake.  In the afternoon, explore a spice plantation that produces vanilla, oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, bay leaf, and sage. Return to your hotel in the late afternoon.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    The Elephant Court Hotel or similar (upgrade to Spice Village)
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: thekaddy / kumarakom
    The serene Kerala backwaters

    In the morning, drive to Kumarakom (approx. 4 hrs), an other worldly escape featuring the largest freshwater lake in Kerala. The slender coconut palms, never ending paddy fields, meandering lagoons, and dense mangroves will invigorate your mind. Along with the pristine beauty, enjoy the local people, boating, and fresh, tropical air. You'll have the afternoon free to relax by the lake.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Lakesong Kumarakom or similar (upgrade to The Zuri Kumarakom)
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: kumarakom
    Relax on a comfortable houseboat while exploring the backwaters

    Today you will enjoy a lovely backwater cruise on Vembanad Lake. The lake is rich in marine life, such as spotted fish, kanju, tiger prawns, crabs, and more. During the monsoon, the shores of the lake are transformed into a rich fertile land. The streams and lagoons break their banks to nourish the shrubs that sprout. Float through majestic canals, streams and distributaries while appreciating the fringed palms, blue water, and utter tranquility. Return to your hotel in Kumarakom for the night.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Lakesong Kumarakom Hotel or similar (upgrade to The Zuri Kumarakom)
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: kumarakom / cochin
    The make-up and costume of the Kathakali dancers is unique to this area

    After breakfast, make the two hour drive to Cochin, a trading port founded during the Roman times. Cochin boasts a relaxed, seaside ambience that has changed little over the centuries. Experience the bustle of commerce in and about the city's courtyards, the vendors of betel nut, ginger, peppercorns, and coconut husks. The air is filled with the scent of exotic spices and shouts of vendors pushing heavy carts. It's easy to forget that one is in the 21st century.

    In the evening, proceed to a local theater and witness a dance performance called Kathakali. This is one of the oldest forms of dance in the world. This dance-drama originated in Kerala and depicts characters from the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The performers don extraordinarily elaborate costumes to bring the myths to life in the temple courtyards.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Dream Cochin Hotel or similar (upgrade to Vivanta by Taj)
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: cochin
    Explore Cochin, meet fishermen, and see the famous fishing nets

    Most of Cochin's historic structures are contained within Fort Cochin, constructed by Portugal's Alfonzo de Albuquerque in 1500. First visit the Pardesi Synagogue, a tiny, beautiful structure built in 1568. Then continue to Mattancherry or "Dutch Palace" which houses a remarkable series of murals rich in color and painstaking detail. Later, explore the surrounding area of Jew Town, wander in and out of shops, through spice auction rooms and more. The Jewish population here was a very thriving community that dates back to King Solomon, but it has shrunk considerably. The large, graceful Chinese fishing nets that line the shore of Fort Cochin are probably the most iconic image of Kerala. Walk along the shore to have a look at this clever fishing system. Chinese fishing nets were actually introduced by traders from the court of Kublai Khan. The nets are periodically raised to check for catch.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Dream Cochin Hotel or similar (upgrade to Vivanta by Taj)
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: depart cochin

    Transfer to the airport in time to check-in for your international flight onwards, or perhaps add a few extra days to spend relaxing at a beach resort in Cochin.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    None
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
$3,250
Includes local domestic flight Hotel upgrade available for $850 more
Single Supplement:
$900
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Privately on Request
Jan 25-Feb 4, 2016
Dec 5-15, 2016
Need to Know

Need to Know

We recommend booking early. Hotels and flights fill up quickly.

Travel times listed in quotations are estimated and may vary depending on traffic or the number of stops required.

Duration:
11 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
●●●○○
(see full descriptions)
Charming lodges to 4-star Western hotels Upgrade to 5-star hotels available
Activity Level:
●○○○○
(see full descriptions)
Group Size:
2-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation and check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in Journeys Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: $500 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. Custom trips and private departures require $800 per person deposit. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure.  Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well.  Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail, or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Air fares: Journeys can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

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Duration: 3 days

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Angkor Wat 3-Day Odyssey

Duration: 3 days

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Angkor Wat 5-Day Odyssey

Duration: 5 days

This excursion takes you to Siem Reap where you explore the magnificent Angkor sites followed by a ride on the Tonle Sap to see the local fishing villages. Then a short flight to Phnom Penh where you visit interesting museums, including Toul Sleng, a... read more

Delhi Hospitality Package

Duration: 3 days

The capital city of Delhi has a history that dates back to the sixth century BC.  In Old Delhi, you'll visit some of the most important ancient sites, many that are currently listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. New Delhi, which was built by the... read more

River Kwai & Erawan National Park

Duration: 4 days

This extension gives you a mixed variety of history and nature. You begin by exploring along the River Kwai stopping at important historical sites. You then travel to Erawan National Park, a unique and rugged landscape of high elevation plateau and s... read more

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comfort level
Choose accommodations and amenities that fit your personal style
●○○○○ Simple
Our most natural accommodations. Bath facilities often shared, sometimes rustic.
●●○○○ Delightful
Comfortable and especially personal. Small to mid-sized lodges, typically with private bath.
●●●○○ Superior
Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined artistry, or extra-special settings.
●●●●○ Deluxe
Exclusive or luxury lodges, hotels, or safari camps with fine dining options.
●●●●● Uncommon
The most indulgent accommodations arranged specially for private trips.
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activity level
Match the trip’s intensity to your ability and motivation.
●○○○○ Gentle
Easy walking, with opportunities for low-key physical activity.
●●○○○ Active
Energetic exploration with optional day hikes, leisurely cycling, or light canoeing.
●●●○○ Vigorous
Day-long active excursions and options for demanding activity in varied environments.
●●●●○ Challenging
Strenuous hiking or other intense activity that may be at high altitude or over rough terrain.
●●●●● Demanding
Multi-day trekking and other activities requiring endurance or strength. Steep trails. No technical expertise necessary.
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