A Journey through South India
23 days from £3985 per person
Distinct to the north, exotic South India is a melting pot of cultures and religion. Starting in historic Kochi, join the Nilgiri Mountain Railway to Ooty then on to the wonderful coffee plantation retreat of Tranquil. Visit the sandalwood city of Mysore then fly to Tamil Nadu - a land of dusty plains and spectacular temple cities. Travelling south from Chennai, visit the staggering temple complexes at Mahabalipuram, Chidambaram, Tanjore, Swamimalai and Madurai before returning to Kerala for a private houseboat cruise on the backwaters before relaxing beside the palm fringed Keralan coast.
Also known as Cochin, Kochi has been an important spice trading port for centuries with resulting Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and British influences in architecture and culture.
Situated around 930 metres above the coast, Sultans Battery has pleasant weather year round, a relaxed atmosphere, great views and a climate suited to growing coffee and spices.
2500 year-old Tamil city Madurai’s skyline is dominated by several Hindu temples including the Meenakshi Amman Temple, richly decorated with fascinating, colourful carvings.
Day 1 Depart the UK
Today depart the UK on the Emirates flight to Dubai. (N)
Day 2 Arrive Kochi
Arrive into Dubai and connect onto the Emirates flight to Kochi. Once in Kochi stay for two nights at the Arches Hotel. Alternatively upgrade to the Malabar House or the Brunton Boatyard Hotel. Founded by Vasco-da-Gama in 1502, Kochi quickly developed into a principle port and the centre of the spice trade on the Malabar Coast. A picturesque town of tumble-down buildings, vibrant bougainvillea and a languid palm-fringed harbour, Portuguese, Dutch and British settlers have all influenced this charming city. (N)
Day 3 Kochi
Today explore Fort Kochi with your guide. Starting on foot, begin the day at the church of St Francis, the oldest European church in India, then walk to the town's waterfront—site of the iconic Chinese fishing nets and the many fish stalls that sell the catch. Later visit Mattancherry Palace, which was built by the Portuguese in 1557 as a gift to the Raja of Kochi, and the town's fine synagogue. The area here is also known for its many antique and curio shops. End the day with a sunset cruise around the bustling harbour. (B)
Day 4 Kochi to Coimbatore – 200kms
At leisure this morning to further enjoy Kochi before leaving in the afternoon for the drive to Coimbatore for an overnight stay at the Vivanta by Taj – Surya. Known for cotton manufacturing, Coimbatore commands a strategic location between the plains of Tamil Nadu, the plateaus of Mysore and the coastal ports of Kerala. Coimbatore is also close to Mettupalayam, the starting point of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway to Ooty. (B)
Day 5 Coimbatore to Mettupalayam – 35kms
Mettupalayam to Ooty – by train
This morning transfer by car to Mettupalayam Railway Station in good time to catch the Nilgiri Mountain Railway train to Ooty to stay overnight at the Savoy Hotel. Travelling a distance of 26 miles, this spectacular journey encounters 16 tunnels and crosses 250 bridges. One of the steepest lines in Asia, the views and scenery are breathtaking. Ooty once enticed the British to escape the summer heat of the plains and, later today, visit the well-maintained botanical gardens. (B/D)
Day 6 Ooty to Sultans Battery – 160kms
After breakfast leave Ooty and drive to Sultan's Battery, a small town in the Western Ghats and the centre of a region which produces some of India's finest coffee, cardamom and vanilla. Stay for two nights at charming Amaryllis - a delightful homestay with spectacular views. Alternatively upgrade to Tranquil, a secluded 70 year old plantation bungalow on the Kuppamudi Coffee Estate. (B/L/D)
Day 7 Sultans Battery
Today enjoy Amaryllis and the surrounding local area. Swim in the beautiful pool or relax with a good book. The bird watching at Amaryllis is excellent and, for the more energetic, there are walking trails. (B/L/D)
Day 8 Sultans Battery to Mysore – 125kms
Leaving Sultan's Battery, drive to pretty Mysore and stay for two nights at the Gitanjali Homestay. Alternatively upgrade to the Royal Orchid Metropole Hotel. In the afternoon take a two hour specialist heritage walk in the city which starts at the Town Hall, visits the Devaraja Market and ends at the Jagan Mohan Palace. During the walk the guide will share various stories from Mysore's past and there will also be a chance to taste ‘Mysore Pak’, the city's famous sweet. (B)
Day 9 Mysore
Today explore Mysore with your guide starting at Chamundi Hill, site of the Chamundeswari Temple and famous Nandi Bull. From here continue to the vast City Palace. Re-built by Henry Irwin during 1897 in an Indo-Saracenic style, the palace contains extraordinary wall paintings, stained glass work and inlaid doors. In the afternoon leave the city and visit the temple complex at Somnathpur including the exquisite Keshava Vishnu temple, one of the finest in India, and over 700 years old. (B)
Day 10 Mysore to Bangalore – 190kms
Bangalore to Chennai – by air
This morning leave Mysore and visit Srirangapatnam where Tipu Sultan was killed in battle against an East India Company army including Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington. Later continue to Bangalore Airport and fly to Chennai for a two night stay at the ITC Grand Chola. Alternatively upgrade to the Taj Coromandel. One of India's largest cities, Chennai remains a principle port and a major gateway to the south and retains an elegant colonial heritage. (B)
Day 11 Chennai
This morning take a guided heritage walk through the historic heart of the city and discover colonial Madras through the buildings the British left behind. St Mary’s (1678), the first Anglican church east of Suez, and the homes of Clive and Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington) stand rather neglected within the ramparts of old Fort St George (now a museum). They recall the East India Company, just as the later raj is epitomised in the mixture of neo-classical and Indo-Saracenic administrative buildings, banks and railway stations. Later in the afternoon take a further guided walk through the bustling bazaar of George Town. Walk through the by lanes, where plenty of history, mythology and folklore intertwine to give you a true glimpse of living India teeming with life and spilling over with colour, noise and exuberance. (B)
Day 12 Chennai to Pondicherry – 170kms
Today leave Chennai and drive south to the former French colony of Pondicherry stopping en-route in Mahabalipuram to visit the beach-side temple complex – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Pondicherry stay overnight at the Maison Perumal and later explore the town which still retains its typically French atmosphere. (B)
Day 13 Pondicherry to Tanjore – 170kms
via Chidambaram and Gangaikondacholapuram
Leave Pondicherry this morning and drive Chidambaram to see the Nataraja Temple complex and then continue to nearby Gangaikondacholapuram, which is renowned for its Chola temple art and was part of a hydraulic lay-out that seems to anticipate Cambodia’s Angkor. From here continue to Tanjore and stay for two nights at Ideal River View Resort or upgrade to Svatma. Situated in the lush green delta of the Kaveri River Tanjore is a pretty town and home to one of the most impressive monuments of South India – the Brihadisvara Temple. (B)
Day 14 Tanjore
This morning explore Tanjore and the surrounding area starting your day at the spectacular Brihadisvara Temple which was constructed between 1003 and 1010 AD by the Chola King Rajaraja I. Later drive to Kumbakonam, visit the 1,200 year old Nagesvara Swami Temple then continue to the Sarangapani Temple, one of the largest in Kumbakonam with a 44 metre tall gopuram. End the day at the nearby town of Swamimalai which has a renowned school teaching the art and craft of making bronze idols. (B)
Day 15 Tanjore to Madurai – 180kms
After an early breakfast head to Trichy which is dominated by its Rock Fort and, after visiting the Rock’s temple, continue to Srirangam – a religious complex spread over an island in the nearby Cauvery River. Leaving Trichy drive south to Madurai, a hub of learning and pilgrimage for many centuries. A centre for Tamil culture, the main attraction of this crowded but vibrant pilgrimage centre is the famous Sri Meenakshi temple complex located in the heart of the city. Stay for two nights at the Gateway Hotel Pasumalai or upgrade to the Madurai Heritage. (B)
Day 16 Madurai
Start the day with a morning visit to the Thirumalai Nayaka Palace then make your way to the impressive 17th century Sri Meenakshi temple. An exact contemporary of the Taj Mahal in Agra, this exceptional temple complex dominates the old city and is instantly recognisable. With its nine gopurams, profusion of multi-coloured images, flower sellers, musicians and a decorated temple elephant, the temple is a hive of activity from dawn until late into the night. (B)
Day 17 Madurai to Periyar - 150kms
After breakfast leave Madurai and continue by road to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary set in the Cardamom Hills on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Stay overnight at Shalimar Spice Garden. Alternatively upgrade to Spice Village or the Niraanaya Retreats Cardamon Club. Later visit a tea estate and spice plantation. (B)
Day 18 Periyar to Alleppey – 160kms
Today take an early morning guided forest walk in the reserve. Later leave Periyar and continue towards the Keralan backwaters to join a private Houseboat for a two night cruise. Authentic and comfortable, all meals are cooked on board and the boat is staffed with a captain, a deck hand and a cook. Spend the remainder of day cruising the beautiful and peaceful backwaters. (B/L/D)
Day 19 Keralan Backwaters
At leisure. The backwaters consist of a network of lakes, coconut shaded canals and estuaries—tiled and thatched cottages bright with hibiscus dot the embankments and the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets hang over the water's edge. Witness local life with children swimming and playing in the water, women attending to their daily chores and men fishing from their canoes. (B/L/D)
Day 20 Alleppey to Mararikulam – 15kms
After breakfast leave your houseboat and travel the short distance to Mararikulam where you will stay for three nights at the Marari Villas or Xandari Pearl. Alternatively upgrade to the Marari Beach Resort which is set in twenty-five acres of coconut groves and has grounds leading down to the beach. (B)
Day 21 Mararikulam
Day 22 Mararikulam
At leisure to relax and enjoy the Marari Beach Resort. (B)
Day 23 Mararikulam to Kochi – 65 kms
Kochi to the UK
Today transfer back to Kochi Airport to catch the Emirates flight to Dubai. On your arrival connect onto the onwards Emirates flight to the UK. (B)
KEY: N = No meals B = Breakfast L = Lunch D = Dinner
- International flights from the UK
- Domestic flights
- Train travel as specified
- Private car with English speaking driver
- Sightseeing with local English speaking guides
- Wildlife viewing with local naturalist
- Hotel accommodation and taxes
What's not included
- Cost of visas
- Travel Insurance
- Expenses of a personal nature
Guide to Price
The price above is a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and season. If you wish to travel alone we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements and will provide a proposal on request
We are pleased to offer the following selection of suggested itineraries based on our personal experiences. By combing these itineraries with your thoughts and ideas we can tailor any journey to make it special, unique and designed around you.
16 days starting from £3790 per person
Kerala is rightly one of India's most popular destinations. A region of staggering scenic beauty encompassing jungle and beach, tea hills and historic towns, this journey encapsulates the best of Kerala using small and unique hotels. Commencing in the coffee plantation retreat of Tranquil, travel...
Classical India - A Journey from Mumbai to Agra
18 days starting from £3980 per person
As one of the world's great nations, India has an unrivalled historic tradition with this itinerary exploring the ages of Indian history through religion, architecture and people. Leaving the Victorian grandeur of Mumbai, journey to central India, home to the cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora,...
The Golden Triangle and Beyond
15 days starting from £2995 per person
Home to some of India's most recognisable sights, northern India is a region defined by splendid architecture, pulsating cities, grand scenery and traditional rural life. Start your journey in Delhi, where there will be ample time to explore the city. From Delhi, travel by rail south to Agra,...
Foothills of the Himalayas - A Journey from Amritsar to Shimla
15 days starting from £3320 per person
From the magnificent Golden Temple of Amritsar, heart of the Sikh religion, to the quintessentially British hill station of Shimla, this tour incorporates the best of India's beautiful and the evocative Himalayan foothills. Stop en-route in the colourful Tibetan enclave of Dharamsala, home of the...
The Vale of Kashmir
10 days starting from £2480 per person
The enchanting Kashmir valley is the perfect summer retreat. Soft mountain air, pine forest, serene lakes and spectacular Himalayan mountain scenery offer a direct contrast to the sapping heat of the north Indian plains. Dividing the visit into two parts, this itinerary begins with three nights...
Crossing the Zanskar - An Overland Journey from Delhi to Ladakh
15 days starting from £3350 per person
One of the great journeys of the subcontinent, this tour is centred on the spectacular Manali to Leh road - one of the highest in the world and a route only briefly open for travel from July to September each year. Starting with three nights in the charming British hill station of Shimla, travel...
Images of India - From the Himalayas to the Taj Mahal
16 days starting from £3395 per person
Squeezed between Tibet, Nepal and the lowland plains of India the state of Uttarakhand sits in the shadow of the mighty Himalayas. Travelling by train to Haridwar, time is spent in this holy pilgrimage city and neighbouring Rishikesh before continuing to fabulous Corbett National Park, India's...
Land of Discovery - Ladakh and Kashmir
14 days starting from £3430 per person
Jammu and Kashmir is India's most northerly state. It is also a region characterised by its strong diversity - geological, cultural and religious. This itinerary joins Ladakh with the Kashmir valley and, in doing so, creates one of the finest journeys of the Indian subcontinent. Starting in...
The Indian Mutiny
12 days starting from £3200 per person
The Indian Mutiny of 1857 was the bloodiest insurrection in the history of the British Empire when, for a time, the very fate of British India hung in the balance. This unique journey covers the three main centres of resistance - Old Delhi, Lucknow and Kanpur as well as Agra where the British...
16 days starting from £4820 per person
The Himalayan landscape becomes more exotic the further east you travel and this unusual tour provides the opportunity to explore this rich diversity. Journey through jungle-covered foothills up into rhododendron forest and within sight of some of the world's highest peaks. Himalayan cultures...
Highlights of Gujarat
18 days starting from £3495 per person
India's westernmost state, Gujarat is a time-honoured desert land of historic cities and indigenous cultures with a fauna unique to the region. Starting in Ahmedabad, drive to Dasada, via the magnificent sun-temple of Modhera, then bird-watch in the Little Rann of Kutch. Travel on to Bhuj and...
20 days starting from £3920 per person
Exploring the diversity and heritage of India's most iconic state, this itinerary is a comprehensive journey covering the region's key cities. A land of immense forts and breathtaking palaces, begin in Delhi before heading to Nagaur and the remote desert cities of Bikaner and Jaisalmer. Discover...
Rajasthan - Land of Kings
19 days starting from £4980 per person
Covering some of the most significant sites of northern India, this itinerary encompasses the main highlights of this colourful and historic region. Based, where possible, around luxurious heritage hotels, begin your journey in the historic city of Delhi before travelling south to Agra, home of...
North India - A Journey to the River Ganges
18 days starting from £3970 per person
No journey to northern India is complete without a visit to Varanasi – India's holiest city. An itinerary offering a cross–section of Indian society, the first half of this journey starts in Delhi, visits elegant Udaipur and Rajasthan’s capital Jaipur. Watch sunrise over the Taj Mahal...
18 days starting from £3940 per person
A unique opportunity to experience the rural towns and villages of princely Rajasthan, this itinerary focuses on the many ancestral homes for which this state is famous. From palaces to colonial bungalows, forts to hunting lodges, this is a leisurely journey through traditional India. From Delhi...
A Trek through the Aravalli Hills in Rajasthan
14 days starting from £2480 per person
Stretching over 350 miles from Gujarat to Delhi, in southern Rajasthan the beautiful Aravalli Range is heavily forested and is the source of several important rivers. This journey, perfect for keen walkers, explores the region around the Aravalli Hills and includes a unique three day trek from...
Spices and Sandalwood - A Journey from Mysore to Kochi
17 days starting from £3990 per person
Traversing arguably one of the most beautiful and historic regions of India, this itinerary is a memorable journey from princely Mysore, home to a grand City Palace and monumental Nandi Bull, to the fascinating spice town of Kochi. Time is spent in Nagarhole National Park - arguably the finest in...
Hidden Treasures of the Deccan Plateau
16 days starting from £3340 per person
Standing separate from the regular tourist-trail, the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are at the centre of a staggeringly diverse region few visit. A heady mix of culture and history, this novel itinerary represents a journey of rediscovery with visits to Mysore, spectacular Hampi and the...
Karnataka's Hidden Treasures
16 days starting from £3265 per person
Karnataka is India for the aficionado - a land of endless tree-lined roads leading to spectacular historical remains. A microcosm of Indian history, the state is blessed with a mix of influences which this journey aims to capture. Starting in Mysore undertake a specialist heritage walk in the...
Undiscovered Karnataka and Kerala
14 days starting from £2965 per person
Despite the region's popularity, certain parts of both Karnataka and Kerala remain relatively underexplored. This journey combines culture, scenery and relaxation to highlight the best of southern Karnataka and northern Kerala. Starting in Mysore visit the city, nearby Somnathpur and...
A Journey through South India
23 days starting from £3985 per person
Distinct to the north, exotic South India is a melting pot of cultures and religion. Starting in historic Kochi, join the Nilgiri Mountain Railway to Ooty then on to the wonderful coffee plantation retreat of Tranquil. Visit the sandalwood city of Mysore then fly to Tamil Nadu - a land of dusty...
Rural Images of Kerala
15 days starting from £2980 per person
This tropical state is, for many, the essence of south India. A land of swaying palms and rustic wooden villages, famous trading cities and the idyllic backwaters, this is a relaxed itinerary exploring the rural heart of Kerala. Begin your journey in two homestays, the first at Olavipe, a century...
Sacred Places and Natural Beauty of Madhya Pradesh
15 days starting from £3695 per person
Despite being one of India's most rural states, Madhya Pradesh is the cradle of Indian civilisation with a strong Hindu-Buddhist culture, abundance of historical sites and plethora of wildlife unrivalled throughout the subcontinent. After an exploration of Delhi, fly to Bhopal and visit the...
Tigers, Temples and Distant Palaces of Central India
20 days starting from £4680 per person
Visiting India's central states is a hugely rewarding experience. Rich culture, spectacular scenery, exceptional wildlife and a strong tribal heritage combine to make travel worthwhile to parts of an India few ever get to see. After admiring Kolkata's architecture, travel by air to Raipur in the...
Return to Darjeeling and Sikkim
18 days starting from £3440 per person
A relaxed and scenic journey, this itinerary represents an excellent introduction to the eastern Himalayan region. Starting in Kolkata, the cultural heart of India, continue on to the old Raj hill station of Darjeeling before travelling further north to explore some of the many monasteries of...
Land of the Buddha
17 days starting from £3135 per person
The Buddha's life and history play an important role in Indian society and form an integral part of the country's religious tapestry. This itinerary covers some of the Indian subcontinent's key Buddhist centres and incorporates the four places pivotal to the life of the Buddha - Lumbini in Nepal,...
Journey through Assam
18 days starting from £4690 per person
Assam is defined by the mighty Brahmaputra River, boasts two out of India’s five UNESCO environmental World Heritage sites and remains one of India’s main tea producing regions. Combining these strands, this itinerary includes visits to both Manas and Kaziranga National Park, a short Assam...
The Enchanted Frontiers - India and Bangladesh
18 days starting from £4760 per person
The neighbouring countries of India and Bangladesh have a shared history and many similar cultural traditions and this itinerary combines both with a unique journey through North East India and rural Bangladesh. Flying to Dibrugarh, visits are made to Dibru Saikhowa and Kaziranga National Parks...
Arunachal Pradesh and the Reh Festival
16 days starting from £3995 per person
Arunachal Pradesh is not only North East India's largest and most remote state but is also one of the least densely populated. Stretching from the foothills of the eastern Himalayas to the mountainous peaks of the north, the state has a truly rich tribal heritage with strong links to neighbouring...
Nagaland and the Hornbill Festival
14 days starting from £3780 per person
One of India's last remaining frontiers, travel to the eastern tribal state of Nagaland is challenging but hugely rewarding. A land of spectacular beauty and timeless history indelibly linked to the colourful indigenous tribal groups which form such an important part of the region, this itinerary...
The Defence of Kohima and Imphal
16 days starting from £3970 per person
For many the North East of India is synonymous with World War II and the battles of Kohima and Imphal which turned the tide of war in Asia. Combining both locations this itinerary begin in Kolkata, former capital of the Raj, before flying to Kohima where visits will be made to the Kohima War...
'India's Orient' - A Journey Across India with John Keay
16 days starting from £4390 per person
To the Mughals as to the British, India’s greatest prize lay in its eastern provinces of Bengal and Awadh. For ‘fertility, wealth and beauty’ they were described as ‘unrivalled anywhere in the world’. Today’s hi-tech India may have passed them by, but the massive monuments and...
Land of the Tiger - A Journey through the Wildlife Parks of India
16 days starting from £4125 per person
India is renowned throughout the world for its exceptional wildlife and this itinerary covers four of the country’s finest nature reserves. The national parks of Pench, Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Panna are home to a staggering and diverse array of animal and birdlife including leopard, jackal,...
Call of the Jungle - The Wildlife of Northern India
16 days starting from £3810 per person
India is synonymous with wildlife and the country is blessed with numerous excellent reserves. This itinerary combines three of the best with a break en-route in Agra to visit the wonderful Taj Mahal. Starting in Delhi, travel by road to Corbett National Park which is named after the legendary...
Taj and Tigers - From Ranthambore to Corbett
14 days starting from £3435 per person
The Indian subcontinent is home to a number of excellent wildlife reserves but the national parks of Corbett and Ranthambore remain two of the best and most popular. This itinerary combines both, whilst also incorporating comprehensive visits to Old and New Delhi, Agra for the Taj Mahal and two...
The Wildlife of Southern India
14 days starting from £2990 per person
Southern Karnataka and northern Kerala form part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest protected area in southern India. Within this reserve are Nagarhole and Bandipur national parks – arguably the region’s finest reserves which support a range...
The National Parks of North East India
16 days starting from £3985 per person
Wild and remote, India’s north east is a wildlife lover’s paradise. From the spectacular Dibru-Saikhowa National Park close to Arunachal Pradesh and isolated Nameri National Park to world-famous Kaziranga National Park, home of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros, this journey highlights the...