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Step foot in South India and you’ll discover that the Hindu heartland is a far cry from the mountainous north. This 15-day journey takes us into the south, where the true Indian culture—Dravidian culture—originated and thrives. We’ll be captivated by extraordinarily diverse landscapes, enchanting retreats, smiling locals, and the cultural legacies left behind by ancient dynasties, Muslim spice traders, and European seafarers.
We begin in the Tamil Nadu capital of Chennai, formerly known as Madras. Then it’s off to Mamallapuram to explore World Heritage Site stone-sculpted reliefs and temples. Flying south, we visit the Trichy (Tiruchirapalli) rock fort and the Brihadishwara Temple, a treasure of Chola architecture. We get a sense of the spicy Chettinad region through its culinary delicacies and embellished mansions before traveling to the 2,500-year-old city of Madurai, home to the ornate Meenakshi Temple. Next we climb into the high ranges of the Western Ghats to hike though bright green tea estates and browse markets near lovely Munnar. After descending to Kerala’s lush waterways and meandering by houseboat, we take in the spirited music, dancing, painted elephants, and colorful fireworks of a village festival, and get to know the historic city of Kochi.
Itinerary at a Glance
- Day 1: arrive in Chennai (Madras)
- Day 2: Chennai
- Day 3: excursion to Mamallapuram
- Day 4: fly to Trichy, drive to Tanjore
- Day 5: Tanjore to Chettinad
- Day 6: explore Chettinad
- Day 7: Chettinad to Madurai
- Day 8: Madurai
- Days 9 & 10: drive to Munnar, Munnar exploring
- Day 11: on to Kumarakom and the Kerala backwaters
- Day 12: on the backwaters
- Day 13: Kumarakom to Kochi (Cochin)
- Day 14: Kochi
- Day 15: depart.