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India's far south
BOOK BY 27TH JUNE QUOTING CODE: TAJMAHAL
Explore languid, verdant Kerala, temple-dotted Tamil Nadu, the historic hill stations of the rolling Western Ghats and the dusty Mysore Plateau. This extraordinary corner of the world, which its inhabitants call 'God's Own Country', is an idyllic, tropical land of ancient trading ports, traditional 'houseboats', and forested uplands dotted with churches, temples and tea and spice plantations.
Fly overnight to Bangalore via Mumbai or Abu Dhabi.
Arrive in Bangalore, meet your Tour Manager at the airport, transfer to your hotel, check-in and enjoy dinner and a relaxed evening there.
Your discovery of India's many mysteries begins today with a tour of Bangalore. See the vast Vidhana Soudha state 'capitol', the 16th-century Bull Temple, and the Summer Palace of British military adversary Tipu Sultan. Later you'll journey by coach to Mysore.
Today you'll visit the Chamundeshwari Temple atop the Chamundi Hills, Mysore's spectacular Maharaja's Palace and the Railway Museum. This afternoon, we head to the Keshava Vishnu temple at Somnathpur, returning to Mysore in the evening to the glittering sight of the Palace illuminated by thousands of golden lights.
This morning you'll head into Tamil Nadu and the foothills of the Western Ghats as you make your way to Ooty, the 'Queen of Hill Stations'. En route, you may see deer, peacocks and even elephants on the roadside.
Today you'll ride the historic Nilgiri Mountain Railway through forested hills to Mettupalayam. On the way, you'll stop for a tour of a tea factory followed by an included lunch.
From Mettupalayam we'll head south to your next hotel, in nearby Coimbatore.
This afternoon we'll take the Ernakulam Express to Kerala for your two-night stay Kochi.
After a relaxed breakfast, venture out on a guided tour of Kochi. Wander the grounds of Mattancherry Palace, visit the Paradesi Synagogue - the oldest operational site of Jewish worship in the Commonwealth - and tour Fort Kochi, an area famous for its picturesque Chinese fishing nets.
This evening, experience something unique and different - a traditional Kathakali dance performance.
Today you'll head to Alleppey and enter Kerala's backwaters, to board a traditional thatch-roofed 'kettuvallam' houseboat. Spend the afternoon relaxing on-board as the vessel wends its way through the Keralan waterways, passing rice fields, coconut plantations, temples and tiny islands. Later, your on-board chef will prepare a traditional Keralan evening meal for you before you spend the night on board.
Wave a fond farewell to your kettuvallam, and journey through a rolling landscape of tea plantations back into the foothills of the Western Ghats to your next hotel, in Periyar. Once settled in, join your guide for a tour of a local spice plantation.
Witness India's wild side this morning with an optional guided walk through Periyar's wildlife sanctuary. In the afternoon, take a relaxing boat-ride on the lake at the sanctuary's centre. Possibly see numerous rare and endangered mammals, including Indian elephants, palm civets, giant squirrels and - for the lucky few - wild tigers and leopards
Descending from hill country, you'll journey to Madurai - one of Asia's oldest cities and home to the incredible Meenakshi Temple.
This morning you'll have an introduction to Madurai's Old City, with its colourful temple gates, known as gopurams, and beautiful Meenakshi temple. You'll also have the chance to visit the beautiful 17th-century palace of Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal. Later, enjoy the buzz of the city by night as you take a cycle-rickshaw through the streets and local markets.
Travel through a landscape of rice-paddies to Gallic Pondicherry, where French is still widely spoken and kepi-wearing 'gendarmes' patrol the promenade.
Visit the Pondicherry Museum, and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram spiritual community before we head north along the coast to the seaside resort of Mahabalipuram, where you'll spend your final two nights in India.
Today's morning sightseeing tour includes the extraordinary, 8th-century Shore Temple, the monolithic stone 'chariots' of the Pancha Pandava Rathas complex and the vast, cave-cut Krishna Mandapam Temple.
This evening you'll enjoy a Farewell Dinner at your hotel.
You'll say goodbye to India, today. After transferring to Chennai you'll take a panoramic tour of the city of Clive of India, which will include the Fort Museum, the famous Chepauk Cricket Stadium and St Mary's Church - the 'Westminster Abbey' of Asia.
After the tour, we'll transfer to the airport to board your overnight flight home via Mumbai or Abu Dhabi.
Arrive back in the UK at the end of a colourful, enthralling journey.
British citizens require machine-readable passports when travelling overseas. Your passport must contain two blank pages and be valid for 180 days after your return date from India. A visa is also required for entry to India. Full details of how and when to apply will be sent out about eight weeks before departure. British CITIZENS and some other European nationals satisfying certain conditions may use the online e-Tourist Visa application process at a cost of $75 (US) per person. Other British passport holders, who are not British CITIZENS, must apply for a full visa which costs £112. You may also, at extra cost, use the services of CIBT, our recommended visa handling partner, who will handle the whole process for you. Note that all travellers of Pakistani descent, regardless of citizenship, will generally be subject to more detailed processing by the Indian authorities, which can take up to four months from application.
Passports and visas
The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately one hour.
Hotel transfer times
You are permitted to take one suitcase per person on the aircraft, which should not exceed 23kg.
If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.
The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made.
Occasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.
Should circumstances require, we reserve the right to accommodate you in alternative hotels, of a similar standard, nearby. Full details of your hotels will be sent with your Final Travel Documents.
Changes to your hotels
*This offer applies to new bookings made between 14th and 27th June 2017 (inclusive) and applies to selected escorted tours that include travel to India. Prices shown when booking do not include the discount. The discount will be applied to your booking once the promo code has been entered and will be confirmed before purchase. The offer may not be used in conjunction with any other offer, is subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time.