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.
WHAT DOES THE PRICE INCLUDE?
Day One: Fly to India
Fly overnight to Bangalore via Mumbai or Abu Dhabi.
Day Two: Travel to your hotel in Bangalore
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 Three: Explore 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 Four: Explore the sights of 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.
Day Five: Travel into Tamil Nadu to Ooty
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' to admire its crumbling colonial splendour, Gothic St Stephen’s Church and Kew-inspired Botanical Gardens. En route, you may also see deer, peacocks and even elephants on the roadside.
Day Six: Ride on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Today you'll ride the historic Nilgiri Mountain Railway through forested hills to Coonoor. On the way, you'll stop for a tour of a tea factory followed by an included lunch, then continue to Mettupalayam before heading south to your next hotel, in nearby Coimbatore.
Day Seven: Travel to Kerala
This afternoon we'll take the Ernakulam Express to Kerala for your two-night stay in Kochi.
Day Eight: Explore 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.
Day Nine: Cruise on a traditional houseboat
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 10: Travel to Periyar and visit a spice plantation
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 11: See Periyar's wildlife
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 12: Travel to Madurai
Descending from hill country, you'll journey to Madurai - one of Asia's oldest cities and home to the incredible Meenakshi Temple.
Day 13: Explore 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 14: Journey to French-speaking Pondicherry
Travel through a landscape of rice-paddies to Gallic Pondicherry, where French is still widely spoken and kepi-wearing 'gendarmes' patrol the promenade.
Day 15: Explore Pondicherry and travel to Mahabalipuram
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 16: Sightseeing tour of 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.
This evening you'll enjoy a Farewell Dinner at your hotel.
Day 17: Explore Chennai before flying home
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.
Day 18: Arrive home
Arrive back in the UK at the end of a colourful, enthralling journey.
Kerala and India's South Touring Hotels ★★★★
Passports and visas
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 $100 (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.
Foreign Office Travel Advice
Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.
Hotel transfer times
The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately one hour.
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. In many developing countries access is sometimes not as easy as at home. Should you have walking difficulties, getting around monuments and attractions may be harder and, in some cases, impossible. Should you have any concerns whatsoever please do contact us prior to travel.
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.
Changes to your hotels
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.
In developing countries road networks are continually being improved and expanded, which can mean that, from time to time, roadworks and rough road surfaces can extend journey times. Some journeys are made on winding mountain roads and passes, which may also make for slow travelling - although the scenery is usually worth it! Many roads do not have separate pavements or safety barriers, and great care should be taken when crossing or walking alongside roads.