South India Small Group Tour
13 nights / 14 days
Starting from USD 1599 / person
14-day South India Small Group Tour Package starting at USD 1599 per person. Explore the charms of Southern India starting from Chennai. Visit ancient temples in Kanchipuram and the UNESCO-listed monuments of Mahabalipuram. In Pondicherry, experience the French influence, visit temples, and wander through the charming French quarter. Continue to Tanjore, home to the Brihadeshwara Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Traverse Chettinad’s traditional houses, marvel at the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai and delve into the tea plantations of Munnar. Experience Periyar’s wildlife on a rafting trip and unwind in the backwaters of Alleppey. The journey concludes in Cochin, where you explore the Dutch colonial heritage of Fort Kochi.
Day 1 – Chennai:
Morning or Evening: Your South India small group tour begins upon arrival at Chennai International Airport. You will be greeted by your tour guide at the airport and then transferred to the hotel.
Depending on your arrival time, you can rest at the hotel or start exploring the city.
Day 2 – Chennai / Kanchipuram / Mahabalipuram:
Morning: After breakfast, set off for Mahabalipuram, an ancient port city renowned for its UNESCO-listed monuments. En route, visit the temples of Kanchipuram, once the capital city of one of India’s most ancient dynasties, the Pallavas. Take a tour of the Ekambareswara temple, famed for its gigantic Shiva lingam, and the Kailasanathar temple, one of the oldest in the city, dating back to the 7th century.
Afternoon: Arriving at Mahabalipuram in the early afternoon, check into your hotel and lunch. Once settled, visit Arjuna’s Penance, a 7th-century bas-relief that tells the story of Arjuna, the hero of the epic Mahabharata, followed by a visit to Krishna’s Butter Ball, a massive balanced rock that has fascinated visitors for centuries. Explore the local markets of Mahabalipuram.
Evening: Evening dinner at your hotel.
Day 3 – Mahabalipuram / Pondicherry:
Morning: Start your day early on the beach in Mahabalipuram, watching the fishermen return with their catch. Next, visit the Shore Temple, dating back to the 7th century. It’s one of the oldest stone temples carved from a single block. Explore the five ‘rathas’ or chariots of Pandavas too – these unique rock sculptures represent the chariots of heroes from the epic Mahabharata. Late in the morning, depart for Pondicherry, the former French trading post in India.
Afternoon: Upon arriving in Pondicherry, check in at your hotel and have lunch. The city was a French outpost until 1954 and its French influence is still palpable. In the afternoon, visit the Vinayaga Temple dedicated to the God Ganesh. Following this, visit the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and Our Lady of Angels. The former is known for its colorful stained glass, while the latter offers an intriguing blend of French and Tamil architecture.
Evening: In the evening, explore the French quarter of Pondicherry. Here, you will find streets lined with houses boasting colorful shutters and French names.
Dinner at your hotel.
Day 4 – Pondicherry:
After breakfast at the hotel, depart for a rickshaw ride, traversing various aspects of Pondicherry. Our first stop is the Muslim quarter, buzzing with energy and diverse sounds. Then, we head towards the Goubert market, a burst of colors and fragrances where everything from fresh fruits to handmade jewelry is for sale. The journey concludes in the historical part of the city, a place where the colonial past meets the present.
After lunch, depart for Auroville. Auroville surprises with its international community, dedicated to universal peace and harmony. The Matrimandir, with its golden sphere, stands as a symbol of spirituality. The Sri Aurobindo ashram provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in an environment of tranquility, conducive to reflecting on the sage’s teachings.
Late Afternoon: Explore the markets on MG Road. It’s the perfect place to hunt for souvenirs or simply soak up the local atmosphere. Dinner at your hotel.
Day 5 – Pondicherry / Chidambaram / Gangaikondacholapuram / Darasuram / Tanjore:
Morning: In the morning, depart for Tanjore, a city rich in history and culture. En route, we make our first stop at Chidambaram to visit the famous Nataraja temple, dedicated to Shiva in the form of a cosmic dancer. This temple is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture and a significant locus of Hindu spirituality.
Afternoon: Lunch on the way and continue your journey with a stop to visit the temple at Gangaikondacholapuram, dedicated to Shiva as the “Lord of Victory over the Three Worlds”. Here, the intricate sculptures and meticulous details capture one’s attention. Next, we head towards Darasuram to visit the Airavatesvara temple, another splendid example of Dravidian architecture, known for its sculpted miniatures. Upon arrival in Tanjore, check into our hotel.
Evening: In the evening, take a stroll through the markets of Tanjore City to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere, whether it be wandering through the bustling streets or enjoying a relaxing moment in a local café. Dinner at your hotel.
Day 6 – Tanjore / Chettinad
Morning: In the morning, after breakfast, we set off to visit the Brihadeshwara Temple. An excellent example of Chola-era art and architecture. This 11th-century temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is renowned for its towering vimana (sanctuary tower) and detailed sculptures. It is a must-see for understanding the depth of South Indian spirituality and artistic skill.
Afternoon: Visit the Maratha Palace. The Maratha Palace is an impressive structure that bears witness to the grandeur of past dynasties. This palace houses opulent halls, art galleries, and a fascinating museum. After lunch, depart for the Chettinad region, home to the wealthy Chettiar merchant community that once traded between India and Southeast Asia.
Late Afternoon: On arrival check in to your hotel and take a tour of the traditional houses in the Chettinadu region, buildings that bear witness to the prosperity and sophistication of the Chettiar community. Each of these houses is a unique representation of local art and architecture.
Evening: You have a free evening at the hotel, providing time to unwind or engage in personal activities. Dinner at your hotel.
Day 7 – Chettinad / Madurai:
Morning: In the morning, after breakfast, set off for Madurai, a city often considered the heart and soul of Tamil Nadu. Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel to freshen up and prepare for the afternoon sightseeing.
Early Afternoon: After lunch, visit the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, an iconic site of Hindu spirituality. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Meenakshi and her consort, Shiva. Uniquely, the temple comprises two main buildings. Although not the largest temple in India, it was for a long time the tallest in Asia, with a tower rising nearly 60 meters.
Late Afternoon: After visiting the temple, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the evening sleeping ritual performed by the deity within the temple. It’s a fascinating ritual that provides a glimpse into the depth of religious devotion.
Evening: The evening is free for you at your hotel. Dinner at your hotel.
Day 8 – Madurai / Munnar:
Morning: In the early morning, depart for a visit that will awaken all your senses: the flower market of Madurai. The air is filled with heady perfumes, offering an authentic glimpse of local life. After this enriching visit and breakfast, drive to Munnar. A journey along mountainous roads surrounded by tea fields.
Afternoon: Upon arrival, check into the hotel and take a little time to rest and lunch. The afternoon is reserved for a visit to the Tata Tea Museum, also known as the tea museum. This venue offers a fascinating insight into the history and manufacturing process of tea. You will also have the chance to see the tea plantations that stretch as far as the eye can see, forming a rolling green carpet over the hills of Munnar.
Note: It’s important to note that the museum is closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly.
The evening is free for relaxation at the hotel. Dinner at your hotel.
Day 9 – Munnar:
In the morning, after breakfast, depart for a 3 to 4-hour hike in the company of your local English-speaking guide. This adventure begins by crossing the Tata tea plantation, where you’ll get an up-close view of the meticulous work that tea cultivation requires. With each step, you’ll immerse yourself more deeply in the lush landscape that is the pride of Kerala.
The hike continues through verdant meadows and picturesque villages of Kerala. It’s an opportunity to immerse oneself in local life, observe Kerala traditions, and enjoy the surrounding nature.
After a morning: rich in discoveries and exercise, you’ll return to Munnar with free time to relax and reflect on the day’s experiences. Dinner at your hotel.
Day 10 – Munnar / Periyar:
Morning: After breakfast, depart for Periyar National Park, an ecological gem nestled in the heart of Kerala’s mountains.
Afternoon: Upon arriving at Periyar, head off to visit a spice garden. Embark on a unique sensory experience as you explore a spice garden in Periyar. Learn about the local spices while wandering through this lush garden.
Late Afternoon: Attend an enthralling performance of Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala, for a deep dive into local culture and traditions. Experience an impressive demonstration of martial skills, acrobatics, and athleticism.
Day 11 – Periyar:
Morning: After breakfast, head out for a rafting trip on Periyar Lake. This journey provides a unique opportunity to observe the wildlife and flora of Periyar National Park, surrounded by lush forests.
Afternoon: In the afternoon after lunch, return to your hotel for some relaxation time. Free time for an Ayurvedic massage. It’s the perfect opportunity to relax and rejuvenate. Enjoy a free evening at your hotel. Dinner at your hotel.
Day 12 – Periyar / Alleppey: Backwaters Excursion
In the morning, after breakfast, depart for Alleppey. Upon arrival, embark on a houseboat for the exploration of the backwaters. Savor authentic local meals, explore riverside villages, and enjoy a magical sunset before spending a peaceful night aboard with dinner.
Day 13 – Alleppey / Cochin :
Morning: After breakfast at the House Boat, disembark at Alleppey and then transfer to your hotel in Cochin.
Afternoon: In the early afternoon after lunch, depart for the visit of the Cochin Synagogue, also known as the Paradesi Synagogue. This historical building, constructed in 1568, is famous for its blue ceramic floor tiles and crystal chandeliers. Located in the heart of the city’s Jewish quarter, it bears witness to Cochin’s rich multicultural history.
(The synagogue is closed every Friday and Saturday)Enjoy the evening at your leisure, exploring the neighborhoods of Fort Kochi. Dinner at your hotel.
Day 15 – Cochin: Cochin Tour
Morning: In the morning, following breakfast, we embark on a tour to discover the Mattancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace. Constructed in 1555 by the Portuguese—the first Europeans to settle in the region—it was a gift for the King of Cochin, Veera Kerala Varma. The alternative name comes from renovations carried out by the Dutch in 1663. Despite its European roots, the palace exhibits an Indo-Keralite architectural style, characterized by intricately carved frameworks, splendidly decorated compartmental ceilings, and roofs akin to Chinese pagodas.
Afternoon: In the afternoon after lunch, we visit the St. Cross Cathedral of Cochin and the Chinese fishing nets. The St. Cross Cathedral in Cochin is more than a religious building. Built in 1505, it has witnessed the ebb and flow of politics, religion, and culture in Cochin for over five centuries.
Next, we tour the Chinese fishing nets. Originating from the coast of the South China Sea, they have become an iconic image of Cochin.
Late Afternoon: In the late afternoon, attend a Kathakali dance performance, a form of danced theater native to the state of Kerala, known for its elaborate costumes, distinctive makeup, and complex facial expressions.
Evening: Transfer to Cochin International Airport for your return flight.
END OF OUR SERVICES
- Chennai – Quality Inn Sabri Grand***
- Mahabalipuram – Mamalla Heritage***
- Pondichéry – Executive Inn***
- Tanjore – Gnanam***
- Chettinad – Chettinadu Mansion (heritage)
- Madurai – GRT Regency***
- Munnar – Deepwoods Resort***
- Periyar – Tree Top***
- Alleppey – House Boat
- Cochin – Dutch Bungalow (heritage)
The price includes:
- A vehicle suitable according to the number of participants, comfortable vehicle for the journey with the driver, air-conditioned, spacious (parking fees, gasoline, road taxes, and toll included).
- Experienced English-speaking driver (including his accommodations, meals, and salary).
- Accommodation in a “double” room, taxes, and breakfasts included.
- Lunches and dinners at your hotels or local restaurants.
- English-speaking guide throughout the entire tour.
- Entrances to all monuments and sites to visit.
- Hiking in Munnar to visit tea plantations.
- A boat ride/rafting for the discovery of Lake Periyar.
- Kalaripayattu martial arts performance in Periyar.
- Overnight in a houseboat in Alleppey with full board.
- Kathakali performance at the Kerala Cultural Center.
- An ayurvedic massage during the tour (40mins).
- International flights.
- Visa fees.
Good to know :
- A visa is mandatory for travel to India. We offer visa services for India, consult us for the procedures.
- The tea museum in Munnar is closed on Mondays.
- In temples, access is permitted for foreigners but not inside the sacred chapels.
- A fee for video equipment is sometimes requested at the entrance of monuments.
- Travel time may be longer than expected, but the quality of discoveries at every moment compensates for this slight discomfort.
- The Kochi synagogue is closed on Fridays and Saturdays.
- Please provide photocopies of your passport upon reservation.
- Baggage weight for domestic flights is limited to 15 kilos for checked baggage and 7 kilos for hand luggage.
- An additional fee of 3 euros per kilo will be charged at the time of check-in for domestic flights.
- You can pay us directly in France with your premium or gold visa card, which will allow you to benefit from cancellation and repatriation insurance.
- This tour may be subject to minor modifications based on changes in the airline and rail companies’ schedules, hotel availability, and monument entry times.
- We also want to specify that our drivers are chosen for their reliability, service orientation, availability, and competence. Unfortunately, they do not all have a perfect command of English.
- When they do speak it, they become guides! However, communication is always possible and usually sufficient. If you wish, you may occasionally request the services of a local English-speaking guide (depending on the site) during your visits.