Please contact us for a detailed itinerary and current price Trip Code: WV20SIRR
Discover the diversity and traditions of South India travelling at a relaxed pace, with active days and spacious stays experiencing a heritage home, traditional hotels and an eco-lodge, in settings of a coffee plantation, tea estate, wildlife reserve and areas of natural beauty.
A 21-day tour exploring the stunning scenery of South India allowing for immersive stays in properties especially selected for their eco-friendly awareness. The days include visits to ancient temples, colourful markets and craft centres. Meet and engage with locals during guided village walks, rural rambles and working plantation tours. Cycling, canoeing and kayaking are available for those inclined. A relaxing day on a rice boat, cruising the backwaters of Kerala with a local lunch brings the itinerary to an end.
As this itinerary is tailor made, it can be customised to meet your particular interests and level of fitness. This tour is also ideal and rewarding for Bird Watchers, wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Day 1 Pondicherry
You will be met and welcomed upon arrival at Chennai airport. Commence the drive to Pondicherry, a journey of around 3 hours.
Upon arrival check into your accommodation. The Dune Eco Village and Dune Healing Centre is an eco-friendly beach resort sprawling across 35 acres of rich gardens and untouched natural land, located just by the beach. The resort incorporates green policies and is careful in minimising its impact on the environment and maximising the benefit to the local community.
The remainder of your day is at leisure.
Day 2 Pondicherry
This morning commence your discovery of the Pondicherry area with a full day visit to Auroville.
Auroville is a cluster of scattered settlements in the midst of forested and village areas, established in 1968 as a place for alternate living, where people live in harmony preserving nature and culture.
Auroville is spread out and dotted with “green” industries who focus on Auroville’s efforts towards a self-supporting township. There are small to medium-scale industries, training centres, arts and crafts, and the city’s administration. A local guide will introduce you to Auroville and how the community works. All units practice eco-friendly and responsible practices and use mainly organic materials. Lunch will be at the ‘Solar community kitchen’ which in itself is an experience. The visit can be tailored to include any particular interests.
Day 3 Pondicherry
Today continue your exploration of Pondicherry on guided tours covering life in the French and Tamil quarters of this fascinating seaside town.
Pondicherry retains much of its French influence, especially in its architecture and cuisine.
This morning set out on a leisurely, guided stroll around the tranquil, broad tree-lined boulevards and avenues of the French Quarter where colonial heritage villas line straight, clean streets. Call into the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Founded in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo, a great seer, poet and prophet, this serene and diversified spiritual community located in the heart of the town, attracts thousands of devotees and visitors from around the world.
This afternoon continue to the Tamil quarters. In years gone by, European settlers were separated from the Tamil people. Visit the lanes where individual communities lived and see the very distinct styles.
The tour starts at the Indian Coffee House, a landmark in Pondicherry and then progresses to the local markets to experience local life in Pondicherry. The main fruit and vegetable market are where the local’s shop for their daily household groceries. A colourful and lively place, also a photographer’s delight. The tour is mostly on foot and where necessary, transport by an auto-rickshaw is available.
Day 4 Kumbakonam
This morning depart Pondicherry for the drive to the temple town of Kumbakonam. You may wish to visit the ancient Chola Temple at Gangaokondacholapuran en-route. The journey is around 4 hours.
Upon arrival check-into your accommodation at the Mantra Koodam Hotel. Located in the village of Veppathur, the property is designed in the style of a Tamil village with cottages dotted around the grounds. Located on an island amidst lush greenery, this is an ideal setting to explore true Tamil countryside and a rural village. The remainder of your day is at leisure.
Day 5 Kumbakonam
Early this morning set out on a rural ramble. This is the time of the day to see the village come to life.
Veppathur is famous for its weaving population. The handloom silks saris produced in these village homes are popular around the world. Take a leisurely bullock cart ride to explore the village.
For those interested in Dravidian Temple architecture there are a few around the village that are both ancient and interesting and not on the tourist circuit.
This afternoon visit the Darasuram Temple, a temple with intricate carvings on granite which has been restored by the archaeology department. Continue to the village of Swamimalai to witness bronze idol making, using the ancient lost wax process.
If you are interested in ancient learning methods, visit a Vedic school where children as still taught the ancient Vedas in the Gurukulam system
Day 6 Chettinad
This morning drive from Kumbakonam to Thanjavur. The journey is around an hour.
Thanjavur is famous for the magnificent Chola monument, the Brihadeshwara Temple or Big Temple. The guided tour of Thanjavur covers the temple complex, Chola bronze museum and the Nayak Palace. Later stop to have a tradition meal in a local restaurant.
After lunch continue to Chettinad, a journey of around 3 hours. Upon arrival check-into your accommodation. A 1930s mansion, Visalam, has been sensitively and lavishly restored. The interiors are cool and serene with their high-rafted teak ceilings, traditional egg plaster walls, handmade tiled floors, shuttered windows and Art Deco furniture.
Day 7 Chettinad
Start the day with a bicycle tour of the local village passing main buildings and old Mansions.
Chettinad is the collective name of the region and consists of 9 villages. Spend time today exploring the local area as there are several small towns that are worth visiting, according to your interests; architecture, temples and crafts.
Day 8 Chettinad
A relaxing day around the village of Chettinad. Visit the village market, see local units run by the village ladies, take a bullock cart ride or just explore the place on foot.
Enjoy a traditional Chettinad lunch and for those interested, a cooking demonstration can be arranged at the hotel.
Day 9 Dindigul
This morning drive from Chettinad to Manjelparappu. The journey is around 5 hours.
Upon arrival check into your hotel, the Rajakkad Estate Hotel Dindigul, formerly Pallam Palace, a royal residence in Kerala.
Originally constructed in the 18th century, this building is a fine example of the southern vernacular, a jigsaw of wooden parts influenced by the house building traditions of Kerala. Drawn from the forests of the Western Ghats, it is a construction of many thousands of interlocking beams, panels and screens, sheltered by a roof canopy that appears to float above, making light of a structural complexity that reflects a forgotten refinement. With just 7 rooms guests are assured of having their own space with a sense of serenity and tranquillity.
Day 10 Dindigul
Rajakkad Estate is located high in the Palani Hills, known for its cooler climate and thick jungle. The estate farms are mainly coffee and pepper however they also have other produce.
You day can be spent relaxing beneath the shade of the garden trees in a hammock, reading and looking for birds or exploring the estate paths, visiting the farm with its animals and coffee drying yard and to the village beyond.
Day 11 Dindigul
A further day at leisure or participate in a guided excursion offered from Rajakkad Estate;
River walks through rocky gorges beneath the tree canopy; over escarpments of craggy pink granite with panoramic views; through coffee plantations and on into the surrounding hills, where waterfalls and isolated swimming pools offer a glimpse of undisturbed peace. Delicious picnics can be arranged. During the picking season, auctions of coffee, lemon, pepper and banana take place.
Day 12 Munnar
This morning depart for the drive from Rajakkad to the Lockhart Tea Estate in Munnar. The journey is around 4 hours. Upon arrival check into your Tea Planters Bungalow, reserved for exclusive use.
The Manale Bungalow is an original British bungalow built over 150 years ago, still retaining its original character. While most of the original furniture has been retained some refurbishments have been made to ensure a comfortable stay. The bungalow has 2 bedrooms, is fully staffed and has wonderful views from the lawns and lovely gardens. The food served is simple and wholesome with the ingredients sourced locally. This afternoon explore the estate on a short walk.
A stay at Manale Bungalow is a responsible tourist initiative by the tea company to maintain the bungalows and retain their staff from the local area.
Day 13 Munnar
Once a British plantation, the Harrison and Crossfield Estates is now under Indian management. The Lockhart Estate is a fully functional tea estate with extensive acreage producing one of the best quality teas in India.
This morning engage in a ‘Make Your Tea’ program as organised by the estate. Start at the tea factory to learn about the history of tea and tea production. Go into the field to see how tea is picked, processed and packaged. The guided tour provides an insight into the life on the tea estates where little has changed for decades. The remainder of your day at leisure.
Day 14 Munnar
This morning drive from the Lockhart Estate to Yellapetty village, a journey of around an hour.
En-route stop in Munnar town to visit the Srishti Trust, a charitable organisation started for differently-abled children of the people from the estate. They produce some amazing goods from waste materials and have an organic dying and printing unit.
Upon arrival at Yellapetty village commence your arrival walk up the hill to Camp Footprint. Check into your accommodation. Camp Footprint is located half way up the slopes of Meesapulimali, the second highest peak in South India. With a view of the hills on one side and the valley on the other Camp Footprint is located in reserve forest where the chances of spotting wildlife are good.
With just 3 tastefully designed Tepee’s, with all comforts including en-suite facilities, it is truly a great glamping experience. During your stay here you will have the services of a naturalist and the units are fully serviced.
Day 15 Munnar
Your day is at leisure to enjoy the property and the optional walking activities on offer. Discuss the various options with the naturalist according to your ability and interest.
Meeshapulimala Trek; This is a great walk for people interested in long treks. Start early from Camp Footprint by jeep. Arrive at the starting point of the walk after a 90-minute drive from Camp Footprint.
Meesapulimalai; The second highest peak in South India, popular with people interested in walking up high peaks. At a height of 2,640 meters the Meeshapulimalai Peak is indeed a spectacular peak and the vistas from the top are breathtaking. Once nearer the top, feel on top of the world with clouds swirling around the peaks below. Prior permission and permits are required from the Forest department for the trek which are arranged in advance. Have a knowledgeable trek guide accompany you for the walk, including refreshments and packed lunch. One needs to be reasonably fit for this walk. The duration of the walk is around 6 hours depending on the pace you walk.
Day 16 Neriyamangalam
This morning walk to the village and drive to Neryamangalam. The journey is around 4 hours.
Upon arrival check-into the Windermere River House. This is a property is a part of the Windermere Estate, known for its highly personalised service. The property with 5 rooms and a pool is an ideal base to explore the area.
Neriyamangalam is an area known for its wildlife and tribal population and is on the banks of the Periyar River. Flanked on one side by jungle and the other by acres of rubber plantation it is an ideal getaway. Cycles are available to explore the nearby village. Canoes and Kayaks are available. Village walks or forest treks assisted by property staff are other options.
Day 17 Neriyamangalam
Today visit a family run rubber plantation for a plantation visit and lunch
Your host will show you around the estate. See how rubber is grown, harvested and processed. For those interested in traditional architecture their house is an example of the traditional style of plantation homes. After visiting the estate enjoy lunch with the family. Visit the kitchen to see how the dishes are prepared. Food served will be local and most ingredients will be produced on the estate.
This afternoon there is an option for a birding session with a naturalist at the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary or a kayaking trip on the river.
Day 18 Kumarakom
Today depart Neriyamangalam for the drive down to the backwaters of Kumarakom. The journey is around 4 hours.
Upon arrival check into the Coconut Lagoon. A 12-hectare eco-friendly property, Coconut Lagoon is set in a coconut grove on the shore of Vembanad Lake, surrounded by palms, fruit trees, flowering shrubs and organic rice paddies.
This afternoon you go for a village walk, visit the nearby bird sanctuary or try your luck at some country fishing! In the evenings enjoy a cultural program.
Day 19 Kumarakom
This morning transfer to Alleppey for a relaxing day on the Backwaters. The journey is around an hour.
Visit a farm in the heart of the backwaters of Kuttanad in Alleppey. Little has changed over the years and life moves at a slow pace. The area is unique as farming is below sea level. Your host will show you around the village and experience life in an authentic backwater village.
Board a private rice boat at midday and cruise through the backwaters of Kittened and Vamana Lake back to your resort. Lunch will be served onboard. The cruise is around 4 hours and you will disembark at your resort by late afternoon.
Day 20 Kumarakom
A full day at leisure.
Coconut Lagoon offers various optional programs such as village walks, bird watching and a cooking demonstration. Coconut Lagoon has a renowned Ayurvedic along with yoga and training for Kolari, the ancient martial art form of Kerala.
Optional full day visit to Fort Cochin:
A full day tour covering the main sights like the Matte cherry Palace, spice markets, St Francis Church, the Chinese nets and the synagogue. A traditional meal on banana leaf at local restaurant is included.
Day 21 Cochin
Today you will be transferred from Kumarakom to Cochin airport for your departure flight. The transfer time is around 2 hours and 30 minutes.
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