Local South India Experts
The trip.me way of travel
Travelers invariably come back from India exhausted, but with stories to tell and an insatiable desire to return.
So just what is it about India that captivates people so much? Firstly, India is one of our planet's most diverse countries. It's home to a baffling array of languages, religions, cultures and foods, as well as beguiling landscapes. Secondly there's the sheer madness of the place. Millions of people line the streets in the cities in an array of colorful garments, while scooters whiz by and cars pile up in the roads. It's hectic - a touch overwhelming, at times - but this chaos creates a unique energy that's difficult to sum up. And that's the third thing that makes India so loveable: it's unique. There's no place in the world quite like India, and those that try to do it justice more often than not find themselves clutching for adjectives that, unfortunately, our language just isn't rich enough to offer.
A trip to India is a journey in self-discovery. It will challenge you, but you'll come out stronger, wiser and refreshed. We've put together an India itinerary for the Southern parts of the country, which are less-explored but equally fascinating.
Day 1, Arrive in Channai
The first day of any trip should really be spent recovering and resting for the upcoming days. In India, this is truer than ever. Get to your hotel, maybe explore the city just a little, but get your energy levels back up so you're prepared for the upcoming adventure.
Day 2, Exploring the 'City of Gold'
I said India was a melting pot of cultures and religions, didn't I? It's your first proper day in India and the melting pot is pretty much going to be obvious to you straight away. In Chennai I'd recommend that you visit the Cathedral of San Thome and Fort George. The Cathedral of San Thome is the resting place of St. Thomas the Apostle (the guy that brought Christianity to India), while Fort George is where the history of Chennai was written.
You can manage this in the morning and then in the afternoon head to Kanchipuram - the home of the South Indian silk saris. Once you've seen how the saris are made and spoken to the maestros that are responsible for their creation there should be time for a little beach visit, where the holiday part of your trip to India can really begin. Mahabalipuram is your next stop, where the most stressed you'll be is when you're trying to say the name of the town.
Day 3, Cave Temples in Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram isn't just about beaches. In fact, the area's most appealing aspect are the stunning works of architecture on offer - ancient works of art that have fascinating stories behind them. Don't miss Arjuna's Penance, Mahishasurmardini Cave Temple, Adhivarha Cave Temple, Tiger's Cave, Pancha Ratha or the Shore Temple (the latter being perhaps the most impressive thanks to its carvings).
Visiting these sights should pretty much take all day, so spend the rest of your time relaxing and eating some delicious Indian cuisine.
Day 4, Wah Lah, You're in France!
Seen Life of Pi? If not, don't worry, because you're about to live Life of Pie (well, except for the whole having a tiger as a buddy thing). From Mahabalipuram head to Pondicherry, a French-influenced town on India's coast. Be sure to visit Auroville, a bohemian, experimental town full of artists, architects, dancers, painters and spiritual healers. This township was founded in 1968 and is intended to be a "universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony [...] The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity." Lofty ambitions, no doubt.
After this, take the evening to explore the French Quarters of Pondicherry.
From Pondicherry head to Thanjavur, known as the "Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu". This, as you may have guessed, isn't for the bowl shape of the place but rather the amount of rice produced in the region. Be sure to visit the Brihadeeshwara temple. This UNESCO World Heritage site is made out of 130,000 tons of granite and is a great example of Dravidian architecture.
Day 6, Food time
No doubt you've read all about India's spice route. No doubt you've heard all about Indian food. No doubt you've decided to go to India to get your hands dirty and fill yourself with some of the most delicious cuisine in the world.
Today is the day all your curry-based dreams come true.
Head to Karaikudi, the home of Chettinad cuisine. Take the opportunity to visit the Chettinadu mansions before spending the evening in a cookery class with local chefs. In the evening, stuff yourself with as much food as you can take. A simple plan for a day, but one that truly captures one aspect of India's appeal.
Days 7 & 8, Temples
Wake up, travel. Get yourself to Madurai to see the fascinating temples in the city. These colorful temples are full of tales from Hindu mythology and a guide is absolutely essential in order to understand exactly what's going on in the intricate carvings.
Be sure to visit the Meenakshi Temple and the Tirumal Nayak Palace - both fascinating enough to warrant a good few hours of study.
Days 9 & 10, Spice Plantations and Wildlife
Wake up early and head to Periyar, which is the heartland of Indian spices. Needless to say, the area is very fragrant, filled as it is with plantations for cardamom, pepper, vanilla, nutmeg and much more. It's also an incredibly beautiful place, so a walking tour is highly recommended to try and take advantage of all the fantastic photo opportunities.
Living in the region (and just waiting to be spotted by budding wildlife enthusiasts) are also waterfowl, cuckoos, owls, egrets, herons, moorhens, darter and the Siberian crane.
On your second day in the area grab yourself a bamboo raft and sail through the Periyar Tiger Reserve. You'll see a wealth of wildlife (including giant squirrels) and some fantastic panoramic views of the region.
Day 11, A Thoroughly Different Cruise
Not all cruises are P&O style pre-packaged tours. If you travel to Kumarakom (a picturesque drive in itself) you can take a houseboat made from twine, wicker and bamboo onto the backwaters on a journey towards Alleppey. The locals you'll see on the way still enjoy their traditional way of life as they farm, fish and more in order to feed themselves day-to-day. It's a fascinating glimpse into one of the various shades of life in India.
Day 12, Cochin
Just to really have the whole "melting pot of cultures" thing hit around your head, finish up your trip to India by visiting Cochin. Explore the Old Fort area, where Potuguese, Dutch and English cultures all come together with that inimitable dash of Indian spice.
In the evening, try to get yourself to a Kathakali dance performance before heading to a delicious restaurant (you want to enjoy something pretty special on your final day, after all).
Himanshu did an excellent job. He followed us throughout all the trip, frequently contacted us to check if everything is going right and assisted in all our requests. Strongly recommend his company to everyone who is looking to organize custom-made trip to India.Read More Read More Less
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Himanshu provides an excellent service. He is very attentive to the customer's requests, responds to the emails quicly and effeciently and is very flixble at the stage of plannig the route.
During the trip, he and his staff follow after its implementation and keep in touch on a daily basis. When an obstacle occured (and it might happen during a long and complicated trip), he has done the best he could in for providing satisfactory solutions on the spot.
The drivers and guides he provided for the trip were all very good.
I strongly recommend Himanshu.
Since flights from Canada take 15 hours to reach India I wanted to spend 3 weeks vacation there. I was able to see something for 14 days that I liked but Amit was able to customise it to include Ranthambore National Park and some extra days in Goa, The trip was fantastic, guides were first rate and I had the same wonderful driver (Sundev Singh) for 10 days. I was met after each internal flight with a guide and driver. India is not a country I feel I could tour on my own as a older solo female traveler. To have everything looked after let me enjoy this wonderful country. If I return, I would book with Trip.Me again. This is my second trip with you- the first was an amazing trip to Egypt in 2017.Read More Read More Less
Amit was an excellent travel agent, all the time was in the disposal to bring the necessary information about the sites that I wanted to visit, even though I didn´t like the hotel in Jaipur, he immediately gave a solution, and the guides, the drivers were very kind and never let me alone, all the time they took care of me.Read More Read More Less