Quintessential South India

10 Days in South India: Pondicherry | Tanjore | Madurai | Periyar | Alleppey | Cochin

  • Pondicherry
  • Tanjore
  • Madurai
  • Periyar
  • Alleppey
  • Cochin

Quintessential South India

Trip Code: AITQTS

Option 1 Prices – 3 star and heritage hotels: from AU$3,830 per person twin share

Option 2 Prices – 4 star and heritage hotels: from AU$4,890 per person twin share

Prices are valid until 30 September 2024, except for the Christmas / New Year period, February and certain festival dates.

Please contact us for a detailed itinerary and current prices.


  • Accommodation in a double or twin room with breakfast
  • One night stay in an air-conditioned houseboat with all meals
  • Air-conditioned Toyota Innova vehicle with English speaking driver for all transfers, touring and sightseeing as per the itinerary
  • All expenses related to the vehicle and driver such as fuel, tolls, parking charges, inter-state tax, driver accommodation and meals, etc
  • English speaking local guides in Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Tanjore, Madurai and Cochin
  • Periyar: 02 hours elephant package; spice plantation tour; and Kalaripayattu performance show
  • Alleppey: Heritage Walk conducted by Preserve Alleppey Society
  • Cochin: Kathakali dance performance
  • Assistance on arrival and departure at airports
  • 24 hour support through our local representative offices
  • Complimentary mineral water in the vehicles

Not included:

  • Entrance or camera fees at sightseeing places
  • Activities other than those specifically mentioned as included
  • Meals other than those mentioned as included
  • Tips, porterage and personal expenses
  • Visa Fees
  • Flights

Option 1 Hotels:

Option 2 Hotels:


  • Introduction

    A perfect 10-day introduction to the laid-back lifestyle and readily accessible culture of South India.

    Each state in South India has a distinct historical background and cultural identity, with none more contrasting than the southern most states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, which exhibit different languages, cuisine, temples, climate and landscapes – they could be different countries if they weren’t neighbouring states!

    However, one thing that runs true through both states is the friendly and hospitable nature of the Tamils and Malayalis (people from Kerala).

    This tour moves at a pace that allows you to fully appreciate their ancient and highly evolved cultures, as well as their natural beauty and laid back pace of life.

  • Day 1 Pondicherry

    You will be met on arrival in Chennai and transferred to Pondicherry, three hours south of Chennai.

    If you in arrive in Chennai in the morning, you can visit Mahabalipuram en route to Pondicherry. Mahabalipuram is famed for its World Heritage listed 7th century rock cut temples, including one of the world’s largest bas-relief carvings, the 29m x 9m frieze entitled “Arjuna’s Penance”.

  • Day 2 Pondicherry

    Full day to explore Pondicherry. Take a walking tour of the French heritage quarter and visit the paper and incense making units of the Aurobindo ashram (a diversified spiritual community that forms a vibrant part of the town, attracting thousands of devotees and visitors).

    Pondicherry is also a shoppers’ paradise with boutiques down almost every street, catering to a wide variety of tastes, offering textiles, leather, pottery, handicrafts, aromatics, fashion, antiques, etc.


  • Day 3 Tanjore

    After breakfast, begin a 5-hour drive to Tanjore, with a stop en route at a bronze-casting foundry, where Hindu statues are made using an ancient wax mould process.

    The Brihadeeswara temple at Tanjore is not as well known as the Meenakshi temple in Madurai – but it should be! Differing greatly in design and appearance, this temple is significant for the height of the central tower and methods used to construct it. A sunset visit gives you the best chance to fully appreciate this amazing complex.

  • Day 4 Madurai

    After a leisurely breakfast, begin the 5 hour drive to Madurai, visiting the Chettinad mansions en route. Chettinad has a distinctive cuisine, which you can sample at one of the restored mansions here.

    After lunch continue on to Madurai, Tamil Nadu’ssecond largest city which has been a major settlement for two millennia. It is thought to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

  • Day 5 Madurai

    Spend this morning sightseeing with local guide, including visits to the fruit and vegetable market, the Gandhi Museum and the famous ‘fish-eyed goddess’ Meenakshi Temple. The temple, which has 12 outer towers, decorated with literally hundreds of thousands of deities, plays a central role in the life of Madurai.

    The afternoon is free for shopping and personal activities, or take a walk through town with your guide and call into a local tea stall for a cup of chai.

  • Day 6 Periyar

    This morning drive 4 hours to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. One of the most popular Parks in South India, it is situated high in the Western Ghat mountain range, on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

    In the afternoon there are several activities to choose from: spend time with working elephants, washing and feeding them and having a short ride; take an energetic nature walk in the Wildlife Sanctuary with local naturalist guide; or visit a spice plantation for a tour and lunch.

    This evening there is the option to see a Kalaripayyat demonstration, an ancient Keralan martial art.

  • Day 7 Alleppey

    Transfer to Alleppey this morning to board a houseboat for an overnight cruise. Lunch will be served on board as it meanders through the tranquil network of water canals, dotted with busy hamlets and lush green paddy fields. A houseboat ride through these placid waters, with visions of life gliding silently by, is a quintessential south Indian experience.

  • Day 8 Cochin

    After breakfast on board the houseboat, disembark in Alleppey. This morning you have the option to take (short) walking tour of Alleppey conducted by a member of the Conservation Society, who will describe the traditional activities of the local economy and the preservation and restoration activities taking place in the area.

    Afterwards proceed to Cochin (a 2-hour drive).

  • Day 9 Cochin

    This morning tour historic Fort Kochi, with its various European, Chinese and Jewish influences. Sightseeing with a local guide will include visits to the famous Chinese fishing nets, the Dutch Palace and one of India’s last remaining Synagogues.

    The afternoon is free for shopping or relaxing before an evening viewing of a Kathakali dance performance, where heavily made up and elaborately dressed artists play out the Hindu epics.

  • Day 10 Cochin

    Transfer to the airport for your flight home or onward travel in India, perhaps to one of our favourite R&R locations.

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