Treasures of Southern India

Resort: Treasures of Southern India
Operator: Cox and Kings
Destination: India
Price From: £2295.00

Overview

The delicate scent of spices, the sound of
temple bells and a rich tapestry of ancient
arts and craft all characterise Tamil Nadu
and Kerala. This journey travels through hill
stations, tropical backwaters and templeladen
towns while staying in some of the
regions very best hotels.

Itinerary

Day 1: Fly to Chennai

Fly from London (regional connections
available) to Chennai (Madras) with British
Airways. (N)

Day 2: Chennai

On arrival, transfer to the Hyatt Regency (or similar) for 1 night (early check in available). At the beginning of the British Raj, Chennai was the busiest and wealthiest port in India, so after some time at leisure at the hotel, explore a city where ancient temples and monuments sit alongside colonial architecture, creating a striking contrast. End the day on the Marina beach stretch, where you can watch fishermen riding the waves on their catamarans and locals enjoying the esplanade. (B)

Day 3: Mahabalipuram Puducherry

Visit Mylapore, a suburb of Chennai and one of the oldest towns in Tamil Nadu. Explore the bustling alleyways and see the jewellers, silk merchants and flower vendors in bazaars providing a colourful backdrop to the Shiva temple, which towers impressively over the town. Continue to Puducherry (Pondicherry), visiting the exquisite rock-cut shore temples at Mahabalipuram en route. Arrive in the charming seaside town and check in to the Palais de Mahe (or similar) for a 2-night stay in the heart of the French quarter. (B)

Day 4: Puducherry

This morning visit a nearby rural village, organised by the Mohanam Cultural Centre, which aims to preserve the culture of the region through a series of heritage workshops. Watch and take part in traditional crafts such as stone carving, ceramics and terracotta work. Afternoon guided walk through Puducherry, stop by the Aurobindo ashram, stroll to the lively Tamil quarters and experience Hindu faith at the Ganesh temple in
the evening. (B)

Day 5: Chidambaram Kumbakonam

Drive through scenic countryside to Kumbakonam for 2 nights at the Mantra Koodam. In the early evening, try your hand at pottery, which has been an integral part of Indian culture for thousands of years with origins dating back to the Indus Valley civilization. Finally, enjoy an interactive culinary demonstration at your resort, led by expert chefs who will introduce you to the wonderful world of south Indian cookery. (B, D)

Day 6: Kumbakonam

Discover the crafts and culture of Tamil Nadu. Observe master foundrymen produce extraordinarily detailed bronze cast statues; see the process of pattu silk weaving, using wooden handlooms. Try producing your own kolams, colourful patterns that are displayed outside homes. You will also visit one of the largest vegetable markets in Asia and the Darasuram Temple, renowned for its delicate stone sculptures. The Vedic School dates back 140 years and is a worthwhile visit. Afternoon at leisure or cycle into the countryside. (B, D)

Day 7: Tanjore Chettinad

Drive to Chettinad, stopping at the Brihadeeswarar temple en route. The temple is known for its frescoes which, despite being over 1,000 years old, have retained their colour and character. Continue to the art gallery and Saraswathi Mahal library at the Tanjore Palace, before arriving in Chettinad for an overnight stay at Chidambara Vilas (or similar). Chettinad cuisine is known for its simple presentation but rich and flavoursome dishes; this evening, enjoy a superb culinary experience at your hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 8: Madurai

This morning visit Chettinad’s bustling village market, where locals pick up their everyday supplies. Continue to the city of Madras, for an overnight stay at the Heritage Madurai. The frenetic centre of the city’s activity is the main temple, the mighty Meenakshi Sundareswarar, which you will visit this evening for the illustrious night ceremony. (B)

Day 9: Munnar

As you leave Tamil Nadu for Kerala this morning, observe how the landscape changes to verdant hills, quiet villages and rolling tea estates. Stay overnight at the Fragrant Nature (or similar) in Munnar, a town developed by Scottish tea planters at the beginning of the 20th century. En route to Munnar visit a tea factory to enjoy a teatasting and guided walk through a tea plantation. (B, D)

Day 10: Kumarakom

Morning at leisure or visit the Srishti Welfare
Centre, which trains disabled children in
making some amazing handmade products.
Travel to Kumarakom for 2 nights at the
Kumarakom Lake Resort (meandering pool
villa) with views of Lake Vembanad. (B, D)

Day 11: Kumarakom

Day at leisure to enjoy the beautiful surrounds
or explore village life in the backwaters. (B, D)

Day 12: Kochi

This morning board a traditional kettuvallam (converted rice boat) for a gentle cruise through the backwaters, passing verdant coconut groves and paddy fields. After disembarking, drive to the enchanting city of Kochi, filled with a melody of Dutch, Portuguese and British architectural influences serving as a reminder of the strategic importance this port town once held on the former spice route. This evening, watch a Kathakali dance performance where stories are told with elaborate hand gestures, facial expressions and choreographed movements, with colourful masks and costumes. Stay 2 nights at Eighth Bastion (or similar). (B)

Day 13: Kochi

Morning sightseeing tour of Kochi including the Chinese fishing nets and the 16th-century
St Francis Church. Explore hidden Kochi
including Jew Town and dhobi wallah, a washhouse
where a sea of white hotel sheets
and clothing are slathered on the washing
stones. Afternoon at leisure to further
explore the streets and their array of local
markets. (B)

Day 14: Fly to London via Mumbai

Fly to London via Mumbai with British
Airways. (B)

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