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The Very Best of Southern India

Home Icon 19-day The Very Best of Southern India from £3,245 £3,095pp

Welcome to a 19-day adventure through the heart of Southern India, where vibrant culture, history, and natural beauty converge.

Explore many of India’s charming towns and cities, with highlights including visits to Mysore Palace, Meenakshi Temple in Madurai and Cochin, Kerala’s captivating port city. We also stay overnight on a traditional houseboat in Alleppey, cruising the enchanting backwaters of Kerala.

Our journey begins in Mysore, exploring its enchanting palace, before visits to Ooty, Cochin and Thekkady, where vibrant markets and aromatic spice plantations await, and traditional art forms like Kathakali dance are ready to awaken the senses.

This unforgettable tour also takes us to the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, stopping by Madurai, Kumbakonam, Puducherry and finishing with a relaxing beach stay in Mahabalipuram. Explore the bustling streets of Madurai by cycle-rickshaw and expect centuries of history to come alive as we marvel at the Meenakshi Temple, and enjoy a trip to the famous Brihadeshwara Temple in Kumbakonam.

With experienced tour guides, carefully-selected hotels and an unforgettable itinerary, our Very Best of Southern India tour unfolds a new chapter of discovery and exploration each day.

SAVE £150 per person! Book this tour departing from September 2024 and save £150 per person. Offer ends 1st July 2024.

Day 1

Depart UK

Depart from London Heathrow, Manchester or Birmingham with Emirates. All flights to Bangalore operate via Dubai.

Included meals:

In-flight meals and drinks

Day 2

Bangalore, Overnight

Upon arrival in Bangalore, we will be met at the airport and transferred to the impressive Welcomhotel by ITC. This afternoon, embark on an orientation tour, passing by the majestic Vidhana Soudha and the serene Cubbon Park, and explore the iconic Bangalore Palace. Later this evening, our tour guide will brief us regarding our adventure ahead.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 3

Mysore, 2 nights

We start our day with breakfast, preparing for an exciting day of sightseeing. Today’s highlights include a trip to the impressive summer palace of Tipu Sultan, a prominent British military adversary, and the grand Bull Temple. Later in the day, our journey continues to the enchanting city of Mysore. Upon arrival, enjoy a trip to the illuminating Mysore Palace. Home for the next two nights is the Mysore Radisson Blu.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 4

Mysore

After breakfast this morning, we start our day with a visit to the picturesque Chamundi Hills, affording breathtaking views over Mysore. Continuing into the city, prepare to be mesmerised by the grandeur of Mysore Palace, the artistic splendour of Jaganmohan Art Palace and the bustle of Devaraja market. After a morning of exhilarating exploration, the afternoon is ours to enjoy at our leisure. Relax and unwind at the hotel, or take an optional tour to Keshava Temple – a small but impressive temple that dates back to 1268, and is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 5

Ooty, 2 nights

We begin our journey today with a picturesque drive to the enchanting hill station of Ooty. During this scenic journey, we pass through the renowned Bandipur National Park and Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, where we may be fortunate enough to sight elephants, deer and peacocks on the roadside. Upon arrival in Ooty, we will check in at the wonderful Fortune Resort Sullivan Court and enjoy the rest of our day at leisure. Sit back and relax or explore the surrounding area at your own pace. As the day draws to a close, enjoy dinner at the hotel and retire for a peaceful night’s rest.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 6

Ooty

This morning takes us on an unforgettable Toy Train journey from Ooty to Coonoor through the picturesque Nilgiri mountains. Upon arrival, we visit a local tea plantation to learn the art of rolling and drying tea. This afternoon, we return to Ooty and visit the Botanical Gardens, a serene church, and the vibrant market of Ooty, allowing us to soak in the local culture and marvel at its natural beauty.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 7

Cochin, 2 nights

This morning, we embark on a scenic drive to Coimbatore. Later, we board the train to Cochin, providing a leisurely journey that allows us to relish the beauty of the local scenery from the comfort of our carriage. Upon arrival in Cochin, we transfer to the delightful Casino Cochin Hotel for our next two nights.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 8

Cochin

Today we explore the vibrant city of Cochin, Kerala’s captivating port city, steeped in history and allure. Wander through enchanting Fort Cochin, where Chinese fishing nets grace the shores and colonial architecture adorns narrow lanes. We will also visit the ancient Jewish synagogue; St. Francis Church; Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica and Kerala Folklore Museum. In the evening, witness the mesmerising 2,000-year-old traditional Kathakali dance, a colourful fusion of costumes, literature, music, painting and dance. Cochin’s unique charm and rich cultural heritage will create lasting memories and leave a profound impact on your journey across Southern India.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 9

Alleppey, Overnight

Tour Highlight
Today promises to be one of the highlights of our tour as we embark on a fascinating journey to Alleppey. Our first stop is the renowned Mattancherry Palace, also known as the ‘Dutch Palace’, where we’ll no doubt be captivated by its exquisite murals. Later, we head to Alleppey for a truly memorable experience – an overnight stay on a traditional, thatch-roofed ‘kettuvallam’ houseboat. Cruise through the enchanting Keralan backwaters, a labyrinth of canals, waterways, coconut groves, rice fields, hidden temples, and tiny islands. This incredible adventure will leave us with memories to cherish for years to come!

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 10

Thekkady, 2 nights

After an enthralling time on our houseboats, it’s time to embark on our journey to Thekkady; a destination renowned for the prestigious Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. We make our way to Periyar, stopping en route at a home set amongst the plantations of Kanjirapallyor, where we enjoy lunch and local family hospitality. This evening, enjoy a traditional Kalaripayattu performance, showcasing the mastery of traditional Indian martial arts. Home for the next two nights is the wonderful Elephant Court Hotel.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 11

Thekkady

This morning, adventure enthusiasts might choose to enjoy an optional, early morning trek in Periyar National Park. This trek offers an excellent opportunity to observe local birds, butterflies and other wildlife on a challenging yet rewarding 5km walk, taking approximately two and a half hours, and returning to the hotel in time for breakfast. After breakfast, an enchanting and memorable experience awaits, as we explore a spice plantation, unveiling the mysteries of the Indian tea and spice industry. Later, we enjoy a tranquil cruise on Periyar Lake, surrounded by the vibrant Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, teeming with birdlife and wildlife, including elephants and graceful sambar deer. Later, we return to the hotel where our evening is at leisure.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 12

Madurai, 2 nights

We bid farewell to Periyar National Park and set off on a journey to the vibrant and ancient city of Madurai, located in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Early this evening, the bustling streets and vibrant markets come alive as we explore them by cycle-rickshaw. Later, after an early dinner, enjoy a truly unforgettable experience at Madurai’s famous Meenakshi Temple and experience the ‘Going to Bed’ ceremony. Our home for the next two nights will be the fabulous Heritage Madurai.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 13

Madurai

Tour Highlight
Today’s adventures begin in the Old City of Madurai, where we revisit the magnificent Meenakshi Temple, marvelling at its ornate façade and towering gateways. Witness the traditional ceremonies, devotions and vibrant markets that enliven this sacred place. Continuing our journey, we visit Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahall, a dazzling palace built in 1636 AD. The rest of our day is ours to enjoy as we please. Continue your adventures in Madurai or simply unwind by the hotel pool.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 14

Kumbakonam, Overnight

We begin our morning with a scenic drive to Kumbakonam. Along the way, we pay a visit to the famous Brihadeshwara Temple, a magnificent dedication to the God Shiva. For lunch, enjoy a delightful meal at a renowned local restaurant. Upon arrival in Kumbakonam, we check in at the Mantra Koodam Hotel for an overnight stay. The rest of the evening is ours to enjoy at leisure.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 15

Puducherry, 2 nights

Today we witness the time-honoured art of ‘Pattu’ silk weaving, a magical transformation of strands of thread into intricate silk saris, adorned with fine gold thread. Marvel at the master craftsmen skilfully working on hand-assembled wooden machines, weaving the silk with utmost precision. The mesmerising process of Pattu silk weaving will leave us in awe. After this unforgettable experience, we continue our journey to Puducherry. This evening, enjoy a leisurely walk along Promenade Beach, a perfect spot to witness the breathtaking sunset, before dinner at the hotel. Our next two nights are in the Palais De Mahe Hotel.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 16

Puducherry

This morning we explore Puducherry Museum, offering insights into the city’s history, followed by a visit to the charming French Quarter and the renowned Sri Aurobindo Ashram – a unique experiment in communal living that attracts visitors from around the globe. This afternoon, why not enjoy an optional tour of Auroville Puducherry, the City of Dawn? This international community is dedicated to peace, sustainability and divine consciousness. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Alternatively, you might prefer to simply relax at the hotel and enjoy your surroundings? This evening, enjoy a cookery demonstration followed by dinner with a local family, immersing ourselves in the flavours and traditions of authentic Creole cuisine. This cultural culinary journey promises to be an unforgettable highlight of your trip to Puducherry.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 17

Mahabalipuram, 2 nights

Tour Highlight
An early morning drive leads us to the historic town of Mahabalipuram. Upon arrival, we shall immerse ourselves in a captivating sightseeing tour of this ancient city. Marvel at the awe-inspiring Shore Temple – a magnificent 7th century structure that reflects the royal taste of the Pallava dynasty. Our exploration continues with a visit to the stone carvings portraying Arjuna’s Penance and The Five Rathas. Don’t miss the grand Krishna Mandapam, the largest cave-cut Hindu temple. Despite being in ruins, the intricate details preserved from the 7th century make these landmarks truly exceptional. After a busy day of sightseeing, we arrive at the Welcomhotel by ITC, Kences Palm Beach for our final two nights in India.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 18

Mahabalipuram Freedom Day

As we near the end of our trip, our final day in India is ours to spend as we please. This Freedom Day offers an excellent opportunity to explore the city at our own pace, sampling local delicacies and meeting the friendly locals, or merely to relax in the most pleasant surroundings.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 19

Depart Chennai / Arrive UK

Our 19-day journey across Southern India comes to a close, but we leave with memories that last a lifetime. Early this morning, we depart for Chennai Airport where our flight back to the UK awaits. All flights are via Dubai with Emirates, arriving at your chosen UK airport in the early evening, bringing our tour to a conclusion.

Included meals:

Breakfast, in-flight meals and drinks

See more of India

Why not extend your stay in Mahabalipuram? If you wish to spend a little longer relaxing at the Welcomhotel by ITC, Kences Palm Beach, please speak with one of our travel experts.

Departure dates & prices

SAVE £150 per person! Book this tour departing from September 2024 and save £150 per person. Offer ends 1st July 2024.

To really help you make the most of your time in Southern India we have a maximum group size of 24 passengers, allowing more time to experience this wonderful country.

For a small supplement you could experience this tour in your own private group. Please click here to see the applicable supplements.

 Departure date Price (pp) Availability Offer
 2024
 27 September £3,395 £3,2457 ROOMSSAVE £150 per person
 25 October £3,395 £3,245AVAILABLESAVE £150 per person
 08 NovemberSOLD OUTSOLD OUTSOLD OUT
 2025
 17 JanuarySOLD OUTSOLD OUTSOLD OUT
 31 January£3,395 £3,2452 ROOMSSAVE £150 per person
 14 February SOLD OUT SOLD OUTSOLD OUT
 21 February £3,395 £3,245 AVAILABLESAVE £150 per person
 07 March £3,395 £3,2453 ROOMSSAVE £150 per person
 28 March £3,245 £3,095AVAILABLESAVE £150 per person

Prices
Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room.

Single occupancy supplement
£995.

Deposit
£500 per person if travelling Economy Class, £1,000 per person if travelling Premium Economy Class and £1,500 per person for Business Class.

Flight upgrades
Emirates upgrade to Premium Economy from £1,895 per person return, or Business Class from £3,895 per person return.

Visa information
A Tourist visa is required for travel to India. For more information on applying for your visa and the associated costs, please refer to our FAQ’s page.

Important information
Our holiday prices are subject to fuel surcharges and the availability of flights in the lowest fare booking class. The correct price will always be confirmed to you before you book, and once you have booked, our Price Promise will guarantee there will be no further increases. For full terms and conditions see our terms and conditions page.

Private Touring Supplements

Should you prefer to take The Very Best of Southern India tour as a private tour, please add the relevant supplement below to the main tour price.

Guests choosing a private tour may select their own departure date.

 Number of Guests Tour Supplement (pp)
 All Dates
 2 guests £1,195
 3 guests £695
 4 guests £595
 5-6 guests £395
 7-9 guests £295
 10-14 guests £95
 15+ guests No extra charge

Prices
Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room.

Please note, alternative airlines may be considered or further supplements may apply in certain periods when international flight prices are higher.

So much included

At Distant Journeys, we offer a leisurely tour of Southern India that represents exceptional value for money. Your scheduled international flights, overseas transfers, expertly chosen hotels, experienced local tour managers and knowledgeable guides and many amazing excursions are all included. Great food is always a feature of India tours, and we make it easy for you by including daily breakfast, four lunches and dinner each evening, including lunch in a tea plantation and dinner in a family home. Knowing that so much is taken care of in the price of your tour means you can relax and truly enjoy every minute.

Small group touring

  • Maximum only 24 passengers

Flights with leading scheduled airlines

  • Return economy class flights
  • Fly with Emirates from London Heathrow, Manchester or Birmingham
  • All airport charges, security charges and any applicable fuel surcharges
  • UK Air Passenger Duty

Carefully selected hotels

  • First class and deluxe hotels in great locations
  • All hotel porterage
  • Applicable hotel taxes

Many meals worth £634 per person

  • Daily breakfasts
  • Four lunches including lunch in a tea plantation
  • Dinner each evening including dinner in a family home

Unforgettable experiences

  • Sightseeing tours in Bangalore, Ooty, Cochin, Madurai, Puducherry and Mahabalipuram
  • Visit magnificent Mysore Palace
  • Drive through Bandipur National Park and Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Ride the enchanting Ooty Toy Train to Coonoor
  • Visit a tea plantation and spice plantation
  • Cruise the Keralan backwaters on a traditional thatch-roofed ‘kettuvallam’ houseboat
  • Discover the natural beauty of Periyar National Park
  • Experience the ‘Going to Bed’ ceremony at Madurai’s famous Meenakshi Temple
  • Explore the Shiva god temple, Brihadeshwara Temple
  • Learn about Pattu silk weaving
  • Explore the 7th century Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram

On the ground

  • Services of an experienced local Tour Manager
  • All overseas transfers
  • Modern, air-conditioned coaches throughout

100% confidence

  • Your holiday is covered by our Price Promise
  • Your holiday is fully ATOL protected

Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels, Bangalore

Located in the heart of “The Garden City”, Welcomhotel Bengaluru combines warm Indian hospitality with thoughtful sustainability. The hotel's prime location on Richmond Road provides easy access to popular attractions, shopping destinations and entertainment venues. The hotel itself brings a… Find out more >
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Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Mysore

Nestled in the heart of the city, the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Mysuru offers spacious guestrooms complete with top-notch amenities and breathtaking views of the Chamundi Hills. Its city-centre location, close to local transport hubs, makes it a convenient base… Find out more >
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Fortune Resort Sullivan Court, Ooty

Fortune Resort Sullivan Court is a serene retreat set in the picturesque landscapes of Ooty, conveniently located close to the city centre, railway station, and airport. This modern-day tribute to John Sullivan, the founding figure of the town, exudes a… Find out more >
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Casino Hotel, Cochin

Built in the 1950s, the Casino Hotel on Kochi’s historic Willingdon Island is CGHEarth’s flagship property. It reflects the vision of the CGH Earth brand and takes guests on a journey through old and new Kochi through its interiors, surroundings… Find out more >
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Houseboat, Alleppey

A kettuvallam is a traditional houseboat widely used throughout Kerala. With their distinctive thatched roofs and wooden hulls, these houseboats are a familiar sight on the rustic Keralan backwaters, a network of tranquil canals and lagoons. While the houseboats are… Find out more >

The Elephant Court, Thekkady

Set amongst four acres of lush, green landscaped hills, the Elephant Court is a tranquil travellers’ hideaway. Guests can revel in the untainted wilderness and serenity of Thekkady, surrounded by swaying trees, exotic wildlife and the fresh breeze of the… Find out more >
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Heritage Madurai, Madurai

Steeped in the history of the 2,500-year-old city of Madurai, Heritage Madurai exudes a captivating charm that resonates throughout its architecture and interiors. Beautifully designed accommodation with modern amenities and facilities along with private plunge pools are accompanied by the… Find out more >
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Mantra Koodam, Kumbakonam

Mantra Koodam is a gorgeous riverside lodge located in the picturesque Veppathur village of Kumbakonam – known as ‘the town of 5,000 temples.’ This stunning resort is an ode to the region’s rich history and culture, taking guests on a… Find out more >
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Palais De Mahe, Puducherry

Located just a stone’s throw away from the picturesque seaside promenade of Puducherry, Palais de Mahe offers a relaxing experience thanks to the soothing cool breezes and gentle rumblings of the Bay of Bengal. Located at the crossroads of colonial… Find out more >
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Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels, Mahabalipuram

Welcomhotel by ITC, Kences Palm Beach in Mahabalipuram is a refreshing, verdant beach oasis overlooking the Bay of Bengal. The hotel provides easy access to the Shore Temple and other ancient monuments of the Mahabalipuram UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sandy… Find out more >
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Keshava-Temple

Mysore: Keshava Temple, Somanathapura

Small in scale but masterly in detail, the astonishingly beautiful Keshava Temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture, just like the masterpieces of Belur and Halebid. Built in 1268, this star-shaped temple, located 33km from Mysuru, is adorned with superb stone sculptures depicting various scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Bhagavad Gita, and the life and times of the Hoysala kings.

From £28 Read More >
periyar natural trek

Thekkady: Periyar Natural Trek

In small groups you will venture into Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary with your forest guide to begin your trek through the jungle. During this time you may be fortunate enough to spot various species of birds, sambar deer, macaques. The trek will be approximately 4-5km long giving you the chance to capture some picturesque moments!

From £25 Read More >
Auroville-Puducherry-927375_1280

Puducherry: Visit to Auroville

Explore Auroville, the City of Dawn, a destination that resonates with those embracing idealistic values. This international community is devoted to peace, sustainability, and 'divine consciousness,' bringing people together worldwide. Situated approximately 7.5 miles northwest of Puducherry. Auroville was established in 1968 by 'the Mother,' co-founder of Puducherry's Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

From £35 Read More >

Holiday Extensions

To make the most of your time in India, why not extend your stay after the Very Best of Southern India tour, with our relaxing Mahabalipuram extension?

 

Customer reviews  feefo logo

This is a new tour with the inaugural departure in 2024. This page will be updated with reviews as soon as our returning customers are contacted by the independent reviews company Feefo. In the meantime, please feel free to look at the reviews for some of our other tours to India – we’re sure you will be impressed with the service our guests receive and the great reviews they kindly give us!

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