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India's far south
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.
Kerala Holiday Itinerary
Fly overnight to Bangalore via Mumbai or Abu Dhabi.
Day One: Fly to India
Arrive in Bangalore, meet your Tour Manager at the airport, transfer to your hotel, check-in and enjoy dinner and a relaxed evening there.
Day Two: Travel to your hotel in Bangalore
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.
Day Three: Explore Bangalore
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.
Day Four: Explore the sights of Mysore
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.
Day Five: Travel into Tamil Nadu to Ooty
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.
Day Six: Ride on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway
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 in Kochi.
Day Seven: Travel to Kerala
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.
Day Eight: Explore Kochi
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.
Day Nine: Cruise on a traditional houseboat
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.
Day 10: Travel to Periyar and visit a 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.
Day 11: See Periyar's wildlife
Descending from hill country, you'll journey to Madurai - one of Asia's oldest cities and home to the incredible Meenakshi Temple.
Day 12: Travel to Madurai
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.
Day 13: Explore Madurai
Travel through a landscape of rice-paddies to Gallic Pondicherry, where French is still widely spoken and kepi-wearing 'gendarmes' patrol the promenade.
Day 14: Journey to French-speaking Pondicherry
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.
Day 15: Explore Pondicherry and travel to Mahabalipuram
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.
Day 16: Sightseeing tour of Mahabalipuram
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.
Day 17: Explore Chennai before flying home
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.
Day 18: Arrive home
Goa Extension Itinerary
Day 18: Travel to Udaipur
Fly to lakeside Udaipur, be greeted by your tour guide and transfer to your hotel. Choose to spend the rest of the day pool-side, re-energising after your trip, or strike out into the welcoming streets of one of India’s most magical cities.
Day 19: Get to know Udaipur
Today, take a tour of Udaipur, the former capital city of the Mewar Kingdom, home to the incredible City Palace that incorporates 11 ornate palaces, Sahelion-ki-Bari gardens and Jagdish Temples. After a day spent around the lake, the evening brings the opportunity to take to the water on a boat ride to see the spectacular water palaces up close.
Day 20: Fly from Udaipur to Delhi
Enjoy your last morning in warm-hearted Udaipur, before bidding farewell to one of India’s jewels and flying to the country’s bustling capital. Check into your hotel and enjoy your last evening in India.
Day 21: Fly home
Wave goodbye to India and her wonderfully welcoming people, as you board your flight back to the UK.