01904 734 939
Tour Search

Discover Southern India and Kerala

You are viewing the 2024 itinerary. Select your departure year
16 days From £2,495 £2,295 per person


Southern India is calling, a land of peaceful freshwater lakes, ancient temples and fragrant tea plantations.

Operated by our sister company Great Rail Journeys

Mobility Rating 2

2024 Tour code: GCJ24

About the tour

On this unforgettable tour of Southern India, we visit the cities, temples and tea plantations of the Tamil Nadu region followed by a stay in beautiful Kerala. Here, we explore the captivating city of Kochi, relax on Kerala's beaches and cruise the Vambanad Lake.


What’s included


Day 1 - London to Bengaluru

After meeting at London Heathrow, we depart on our overnight flight to Bengaluru, travelling via Dubai.

Day 2 - Mysuru

Arriving in India, we transfer by coach to Mysuru for two nights. On arrival, there's time to settle in and unwind after our journey.

Day 3 - Discovering Mysuru

We enjoy a full-day's guided tour, exploring the cultural icons of Mysuru such as St Philomena's Church, a large neo-Gothic cathedral inspired by Cologne Cathedral, and Mysuru Palace, a beautiful and intricately decorated building with Hindu, Muslim, Gothic and Rajput architectural influences. We continue to Srirangapatna, known for its ornate temples and forts and, poignantly, the site of a major battle between the British and Tipu Sultan. We pause for lunch then head to the local market of Chamundi Hills. Our last visit is to the unique Bull Temple.

Day 4 - Ooty

We travel to the Nilgiri hill station of Ooty by coach where we spend two nights. Your afternoon is free to begin sightseeing independently. Situated amid the Blue Mountains, named after a blue flower which blossoms every 12 years on the 'Nilgiris', we are surrounded by forested foothills and verdant tea plantations. Named the 'Queen of the hills', Ooty is a picturesque paradise for nature lovers - you may like to take a cruise on one of the nearby lakes, walk through the gardens, or visit the local honey and bee museum.

Day 5 - Exploring Ooty

Our first excursion of the day is to Ooty's popular botanical gardens, with its vibrant displays of over 650 types of flora in terraced beds. Among beautiful native flowers, are several water features and sculptures. We continue to Doddabetta Peak, the highest point in the Nilgiris, for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and reserve forests, then - after lunch at a local restaurant - we visit St Stephen's Church, known for its colourful depiction of 'The Last Supper'.

Day 6 - Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Today we take the local toy train to Coonoor, for a walking tour of this enchanting hill town and a visit to a local tea factory. Across the Nilgiris, isolated colonial mansions dot hillside tea plantations. The area has produced tea for over 100 years, in particular a variety with distinctively dark colour and strong aroma. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant then board the UNESCO-listed Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a steam-hauled service which takes us into forest-covered hills to Mettupalayam, where we travel by coach to the city of Coimbatore for an overnight stay.

Day 7 - To Kochi

Following a free morning in Coimbatore - on the banks of the Noyyal River, surrounded by the Western Ghats mountain range - we catch the train to the captivating city of Kochi, in Kerala, for two nights.

Day 8 - Guided tour of Kochi

Known as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea', Kochi - also called Cochin - is a fascinating destination. Our tour includes St Francis Church where Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, was first buried before his body was carried back to Lisbon. We also visit the Dutch Palace for an insight into the daily life of local people at the Dhobi Khana, a sprawling open-air laundry where hundreds of pieces of clothing are washed every day and hung out to dry. In the evening, we watch a Kathakali dance performance - a Keralan tradition, this ritual dance combines colourful costumes with traditional music played by local musicians.

Day 9 - Kerala and its backwaters

We enjoy a guided tour of the Jewish Synagogue this morning, where we see incredible treasures -including The Great Scrolls of the Old Testament - before transferring to Alleppey. Here, we board a houseboat, or kettuvallam, for a scenic cruise through Kerala's idyllic 'backwaters' - a network of lagoons and canals. Constructed of traditional materials, these boats were carried goods, including exotic spices and rice, between Cochin and Kuttanad. We begin at Vembanad Lake - the longest freshwater lake in India - gliding through a palm-lined maze of canals. We disembark at Kumarakom for an overnight stay.

Day 10 - To Thekkady

We transfer to Thekkady for two nights, enjoying a relaxed afternoon to settle in on arrival.

Day 11 - Thekkady

Today's excursion takes us to an aromatic spice plantation, where we enjoy a guided walking tour that helps us uncover the secrets of Southern India's flavoursome spices. An area that has grown and exported some of the world's most popular and fragrant spices - including ginger, garlic, cardamom, vanilla, pepper, cinnamon and clove - we learn how each one is cultivated and have the opportunity to stock up on authentic seasonings for our spice cupboards back home. In the afternoon, we head to Lake Periyar, a stunning body of water set in a large wildlife sanctuary, for a peaceful cruise.

Day 12 - Madurai

Travelling to Madurai for two nights, we visit a nearby village inhabited by artisans who specialise in sculpting aesthetic idols and puppets out of clay.

Day 13 - Guided tour of Madurai

We take a guided tour of Madurai which includes the impressive 17th century Thirumalai Nayak Palace and the Gandhi Memorial Museum. A frenetic yet ancient city located on the Vaigai River in Tamil Nadu, Madurai's skyline is dominated by 14 colourful gopurams, or gateway towers, of the Meenakshi Amman Temple. Covered in bright carvings of Hindu gods, this Dravidian-style temple has been a major pilgrimage site for centuries, here we watch the 'puja', a traditional Hindu ritual of offering prayers. Each day the priests symbolically bathe, dress and feed an idol of God Shiva, and we witness the final puja of the day as Shiva is put to bed alongside his wife, Goddess Meenakshi, to whom the temple is dedicated.

Day 14 - Chennai

We take an internal flight to Chennai for the night, a city once known as Madras and a metropolis within the Bay of Bengal. An important port during the colonial era, Chennai's architecture and culture has Portuguese, Dutch, French and British influences, while being rooted in local aesthetics. We explore the San Thome Cathedral Basilica, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the Kapaleeshwarar Temple, and the Madras War Cemetery on Marina Beach. We also pay a visit to the city's flower market in George Town, soaking up a myriad of colours and fragrances.

Day 15 - Mamallapuram

There's an optional excursion this morning to Mamallapuram (payable locally), known for its UNESCO-listed temples and monuments built by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th and 8th centuries. The seafront Shore Temple consists of three ornate granite shrines, while Krishna's Butter Ball is a massive boulder balanced on a small hill near the Ganesha Ratha stone temple. Otherwise, enjoy a free day before we transfer to the airport for our flight, via Dubai, to London Heathrow.

Day 16 - London

We land in the UK this morning and our adventures in Southern India come to an end.

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We will write to you around 10 weeks before your departure date with the precise meeting times for your tour group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Hotel Taj Coromandel, Chennai

Hotel Taj Coromandel, Chennai

View hotel

Vivanta Coimbatore, Coimbatore

Vivanta Coimbatore, Coimbatore

View hotel

Taj Malabar Resort & Spa, Kochi

Taj Malabar Resort & Spa, Kochi

View hotel

Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom

Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom

View hotel

The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai, Madurai

The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai, Madurai

View hotel

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Mysore, Mysuru

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Mysore, Mysuru

View hotel

Fortune Sullivan Court

Fortune Sullivan Court, Ooty

View hotel

Spice Village, Thekkady

Spice Village, Thekkady

View hotel


Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Enhance your holiday


Flight upgrades
UK rail connections
London hotels