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Classic South India

South India

Classic South India

Hiking
·
Start: Chennai
·
End: Kovalam

From Chennai to Kovalam, see the best of evocative South India

Activity
Hiking
LocationSouth India
Duration15 days
Start / EndChennai / Kovalam
Tour operatorIntrepid Travel

South India

Classic South India

Hiking·
15 days·Intrepid Travel
Start: Chennai
·
End: Kovalam

Description

Travel to India and embark on this classic southern Indian journey from Chennai to Kovalam through Kerala. Discover a thousand shades of green, indulge in some of the continent’s freshest food, and share smiles with the friendly local people in this lush, tropical part of the country. Experience the culture, religion and history of this region and discover its small rural towns, fishing village...

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Itinerary

Day 1Chennai
Welcome to Chennai, India. On arrival at the airport, you will be transferred to your hotel. Your Indian adventure begins with an important group meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. If you arrive in Chennai with free time to spare, perhaps visit the local marketplaces and temples. In the evening, maybe head out for dinner with your fellow travellers.
Day 2Mamallapuram – Auroville - Pondicherry
From Chennai, drive along the scenic East Coast Road to the fishing village of Mamallapuram. Take a guided tour around the town’s laidback beaches and temples, keeping an eye out for the sculptures and carvings dotted around the place. Visit the incredible 8th-century Shore Temple and its mandapams (carved pillars) to pay your respects to the deity Shiva. Drive on to the living project of Auroville. This intriguing experimental township, founded in 1968, has more than 80 rural settlements some 1,500 residents, around half of whom are foreign nationals. Auroville is also home to the world’s largest solid crystal, which you can examine. Continue onto Puducherry (Pondicherry) in the late afternoon where your evening is then free. Today's drive should take around three hours in total.
Day 3Pondicherry
Explore Pondicherry, which was under French rule until 1954, and the European style of the town extends from beautiful colonial architecture right down to the uniforms of the police. Enjoy a walking tour to see local temples, the French Quarter and the spiritual community of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The rest of the day and evening is free.
Day 4Thanjavur
Head to Tanjavar (approximately 5 hours). Visit the World Heritage-listed Brihadeeswarar Temple, an awesome, thousand-year-old Hindu marvel. Dedicated to Shiva, its one of the largest temples in India and was completed in 1010. Keep an eye out for the sacred bull, carved from a single peice of granite measuring around 5 x 4 metres.
Day 5Karaikudi
Drive to Karaikudi today (approximately 2.5 hours). Take a walk around the village after checking in and get a taste of village life. Visit some havelis (mansions), whose grandiose architecture will no doubt impress. Be sure to sample some spicy Chettinad cuisine while you're here.
Day 6Madurai
Continue on to Madurai (approximately 2 hours). Here you will wander through the colourful markets and bazaars, then visit the Sri Meenakshi Temple in the city’s centre. Still in use today, this ancient temple is a maze of lamp-lit corridors leading to shrines where traditional rituals take place. You might also like to explore the National Gandhi Museum (optional), dedicated to the life and achievements of the 'Father of the Nation' and the leader of India's fight for independence. Your evening is then free to spend as you please.
Day 7Madurai
Enjoy a day of free time in Madurai. Perhaps visit the Art Museum to see a superb collection of carvings, check out the Tirumalai Nayak Palace or simply relax over endless cups of chai. 
Day 8Periyar
Drive through rubber and pineapple plantations to Thekkady and explore the Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve, perched lakeside in the ranges of the Western Ghats. The sanctuary surrounds a picturesque lake, which was formed as result of a dam that was built in 1895. It ambles through the contours of the wooded hills, and is a permanent source of water for local wildlife. This afternoon, take a tour of a local spice plantation. If you have time, perhaps attend a demonstration of Indian martial arts (kalaripayattu) at the Kadathanadan Kalari Centre.
Day 9Periyar
In the morning, take a guided nature walk in the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (approximately 3 hours). Encounters with animals in the wild are never guaranteed, and this is more of a jungle walk than an animal spotting tour, but look out for tiger tracks, spotted deer, Indian elephants or gaur – the world's largest species of buffalo. In the afternoon, unwind with an optional ayurvedic massage or just relax in this scenic setting.
Day 10Kochi
In the morning, drive to Kochi, aka Cochin (approximately 5 hours). This place is a veritable melting pot of Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and British influences. Use your free time to get out on the water by local ferry, or wander down the beach at sunset.
Day 11Kochi
Visit the Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace), which was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese before the Dutch renovated it. Then check out the oldest functioning Jewish synagogue in India, the Paradesi Synagogue. In the evening witness a classic Kathakali performance, a dramatic dance that combines storytelling with physical technique.
Day 12Kerala Backwaters - Kumarakom
Discover sleepy Kumarakom in the backwaters of Kerala. Drive from Kochi to Kumarkon to our resort along the riverside. Take a short backwaters cruise before heading out on a village walk. This is a great chance to meet and talk with the people who live in the backwaters, stroll under palm trees and weave in between the rice fields in this tranquil landscape.
Day 13Kovalam
In the morning, drive to Kovalam (approximately 4 hours) via Kerala’s capital, Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram). Kovalam was once a quiet coastal village known for its export of fresh fish and coconuts, but is now one of India’s more popular beach resorts. Visit the ancient temple of Attukal Bhagavathy in the afternoon. If you have free time, explore the old signalling station of Anchuthengu Fort or the 16th-century Koyikkal Palace. Your evening is then free to do as you wish.
Day 14Kovalam
Enjoy free time today. You might like feast on some delicious seafood, check out Anchuthengu Fort, wander around the village or relax on the beach. Perhaps head out with the group for a farewell meal together tonight.
Day 15Kovalam
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast and you’re free to leave the accommodation at any time.

More info

Last modified (date)

23 Jan 2019

Trip title

Classic South India

Trip code

HHKS

Validity

Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019

Introduction

Travel to India and embark on this classic southern Indian journey from Chennai to Kovalam through Kerala. Discover a thousand shades of green, indulge in some of the continent’s freshest food, and share smiles with the friendly local people in this lush, tropical part of the country. Experience the culture, religion and history of this region and discover its small rural towns, fishing villages a... Read more

Style

Comfort

Themes

Explorer

Transport

Private vehicle,Ferry

Physical Rating

2

Joining point

Pride Hotel Chennai

Joining point description

Located near the city centre of Chennai, each room has air conditioning, en-suite bathrooms and an electronic safe. www.pridehotel.com/chennai-hotels

Joining point instructions

Intrepid offer a complementary pre-arranged transfer service. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. You will be met in the arrivals hall by your representative with a sign board If you have any problems and cannot locate our representative, or if your flight is delayed please call the following 24 hour number: +91 974 647 9660 If you do not ha... Read more

Finish point

Sagara Beach Resort

Finish point description

Sagara Beach Resort facilities include laundry, doctor on call, currency exchange and safe deposit. The hotel also has an Ayurvedic Centre, swimming pool and a restaurant on the roof. http://www.sagarakovalam.com/

Finish point instructions

A departure transfer is available - please enquire at time of booking. A taxi to Trivandrum airport takes about 45 minutes and should cost between INR600-800. Hotel reception or your leader can help you arrange a taxi. Normal check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.

Group leader

All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leade... Read more

Safety

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and upd... Read more

Communications

WIFI WiFi access is widely available; it's usually free in public areas of hotels but some properties will charge for in room use. Please ask your tour leader or the specific hotel reception upon check in. Many restaurants and cafes (especially in tourist areas) offer customers free WiFi. Ask for the password when ordering. Internet cafes are widespread in India and connections are usually reasona... Read more

Visas

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with ... Read more

Why we love it

Experience the south of India, which offers a unique vibrancy and distinctly different landscape and culture.

Is this trip right for you

We’ll be visiting multiple temples during the trip so it’s important to wear appropriate clothing that covers the arms, legs and shoulders. Southern India can get very hot during the summer so remember to bring lots of water and a variety of clothing. Wearing light, loose layers is one of the best ways to tackle the heat. As we'll be walking through varying terrain in national parks and villages... Read more

Health

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/o... Read more

Food and dietary requirements

FOOD IN INDIA: Food is a way of life in India. You can snack for a bargain or dine in the finest Indian restaurants. Generally you can eat very cheaply in India. There is a huge choice of restaurants and street stalls serving traditional and local Indian food. In bigger restaurants in areas frequented by more tourists there is a choice between Indian, Chinese and Western style food. Here's some id... Read more

Money matters

The official currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR). It's symbol is ₹ The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in is via ATMs, which are readily available in most towns. Look for Bank of India or ICICI ATM's. Our experience has shown they are the most reliable ATM's to use for withdrawals. Cash shortages at ATMs can be a problem in rural areas. Foreign currency notes t... Read more

What to take

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes). Many travellers carry their luggage in a bac... Read more

Climate and seasonal

INDIA SEASONS: As a general rule have a look online to check the weather in India just before you are about to travel. This gives you a clearer understanding of what to pack. Here are some general ideas of seasons in India: December to March: Pleasant weather – warm days, cool nights. December and January bring chilly nights in the north. Fog can delay trains travelling across the north of the ... Read more

A couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol... Read more

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

Emergency contact

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, transfer or accommodation issues, you can reach our local India Intrepid office on their 24 hour number: For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/ While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things... Read more

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsible... Read more

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed mo... Read more

Accommodation notes

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving... Read more

Transport notes

TRANSPORT IN INDIA: Main roads in India are usually very busy with an assortment of vehicles from the biggest trucks (who always have right of way) down to bikes (and animals!). Overtaking on blind corners at speed is common as is the total use of the horn as a form of communication. Our leaders have complete authority to remove groups from local transport if the driver is not driving safely. Driv... Read more

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and th... Read more

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit... Read more

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weat... Read more

Accommodation

Hotel (11 nights),Resort (3 nights)
15days
€2,015per person
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Apr 1
Chennai
Apr 15
Kovalam
€2,015
Seats left: 10
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Sep 6
Chennai
Sep 20
Kovalam
€2,015
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Sep 13
Chennai
Sep 27
Kovalam
€2,015
Seats left: 12
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Sep 20
Chennai
Oct 4
Kovalam
€2,015
Seats left: 12
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