800 554 7016
top
Limited Edition Small Group Journeys

India: The Beautiful South 2021-22


15 days from $6,295 per person

Limited to 18 guests

This journey is a unique opportunity to travel with other international guests on a limited-edition itinerary operated by A&K Australia.

Immerse yourself in India’s more spiritual side on this journey through the relaxed southern states of the subcontinent. Prized for millennia for its aromatic spices and natural beauty, the south remains a feast for the senses, with fragrant cuisines, friendly people and fascinating cultures. Bask in the color and movement of bustling, sophisticated cities, sleepy fishing villages, tropical coastlines and lush hinterlands. Observe the astonishing Pallava sculptures and towering Chola Temples of Tamil Nadu, the colonial charms of Puducherry and the tranquil backwaters of Kerala, in an India still largely undisturbed by tourism.

A&K Advantages

  • Explore historic Chennai, the cultural, culinary and artistic hub of southern India
  • Marvel at the extensive cave temples and life-size bas-relief sculptures of Mahabalipuram
  • Join a local chef in Puducherry for a market visit and cooking lesson
  • Join 45 nations at Auroville, the New Age community founded in the 1960s that still attracts devotees the world over
  • Experience an evening aarti ceremony at Meenakshi Temple with a local guide
  • Enter a world of tea, from plant to pour, amid the plantations of Munnar
  • Soak up the colonial charms of the colorful port city of Kochi, “Queen of the Arabian Sea”

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1
ARRIVE CHENNAI, INDIA
Day 2
Chennai
Day 3
Mahabalipuram
Days 4–5
PUDUCHERRY
Day 6
Thanjavur
Day 7
Thanjavur
Day 8
Karaikudi
Day 9
Madurai
Day 10
Munnar
Day 11
Munnar
Day 12
Periyar River
Day 13
Kochi
Day 14
Kochi
Day 15
DEPART KOCHI
Day 1
ARRIVE CHENNAI, INDIA

Arrive in Chennai (formerly Madras) and transfer to your hotel.

Taj Connemara
Day 2
Chennai

Discover colonial Madras through the buildings left behind by the British. Then, zigzag your way through the bustling bylanes of vibrant Georgetown as your guide points out the fresh produce, local everyday commodities and colorful market stalls, pausing along the way to taste handpicked street food treats. Finish the day at Marina Beach at sunset before a welcome dinner.

Taj Connemara
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3
Mahabalipuram

Travel south to the ancient Pallava capital of Mahabalipuram, site of the UNESCO-listed cave temples, bas-relief sculptures, pillared halls carved out of the rocky hillside and the delightful shore temple. After a lunch of southern Indian delicacies, head to Puducherry and your hotel in the French Quarter.

Palais de Mahe
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Days 4–5
PUDUCHERRY

Explore “Pondy” on foot starting in the French Quarter, admiring the wide shady streets, colonial architecture and soft pastel colors. Pause at Sri Aurobindo Ashram, which influences much of the city. Founded by the Indian philosopher, yogi, guru, poet and nationalist Sri Aurobindo in 1926, it is home today to 1,200 devotees from around the world. The main building houses the mortal remains of Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, “the Mother,” in a marble mausoleum. On your first evening, visit the local market under the guidance of a local chef, where greengrocers, fisherfolk and fruit vendors display their wares under colorful canopies, learning how to pick the best produce and what secrets lie behind the perfect Indian cuisine. Back at the hotel, join the kitchen staff in preparing your meal. The nearby New Age community of Auroville, founded in 1968, also attracts devotees of Aurobindo from over 45 nations. If you wish, wander through the site and visit Mohanam Cultural Center, which preserves the rich cultural heritage of South India.

Palais de Mahe
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner (Day 4); Breakfast (Day 5)
Day 6
Thanjavur

Drive farther south to Thanjavur (formerly Tanjore), the ancient Chola capital, stopping on the way in Chidambaram to visit the vibrant Nataraja Temple, famed for its bronze dancing Shiva. Observe the daily Brahmin rituals at shrines throughout the 40-acre complex.

Svatma, Thanjavur
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7
Thanjavur

Spend some time today admiring the 11th-century Brihadisvara Temple, one of India’s most spectacular. Seek out its elaborate stucco sculptures, shrines and statues, along with the exquisite Chola frescos. Later, stroll through the 14th-century Tanjore Palace — built for Maratha royalty — and meet artisans who craft the melodious veena, a musical instrument carved from a single piece of jackwood. Watch master painters at work perfecting the classical Thanjavur style, and bronze sculptors whose techniques have changed little since the Chola period.

Svatma, Thanjavur
Meals: Breakfast
Day 8
Karaikudi

Journey on to the Chettinad region, home to a prosperous banking and business community and remarkable cuisine, among Tamil Nadu’s most famous. Take a bull cart to lunch, where you’ll savor the subtle and aromatic local flavors, followed by a visit to a tile factory and a weaving center to admire soft cotton sarees before continuing to Madurai. This evening, enjoy a sundowner on the magnificent Moon Deck overlooking Madurai city followed by dinner.

The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai, Madurai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 9
Madurai

Step out into vibrant Madurai, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Famous for temples built in the Dravidian style, Madurai is also home to a maze of markets and museums. This afternoon, choose between three Design Your Day® activities.

Visit a potters’ village, and discover mystifying stories from the potters who breathe life into mud structures.

Head out on a food trail, experiencing Madurai’s lively food scene and some of its recorded history spanning two millennia.

Dive into history on a Once Upon a Madurai tour, walking through the ancient city with a local expert, who mesmerizes with her stories of Madurai's past.

This evening, travel like a local by tuk-tuk to an aarti (Hindu prayer ceremony) at the 12th-century Meenakshi Temple, a dazzling, multitiered wonder alive with carved mythical figures and devout pilgrims.

The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai, Madurai
Meals: Breakfast
Day 10
Munnar

Your journey continues into Kerala and the lush Western Ghats, where your old-world plantation retreat is located. Stroll around the estate with an expert naturalist, who identifies the local flora and fauna.

Windermere Estate
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11
Munnar

Discover a world of tea today as you witness every step, from leaf plucking and processing to packaging and pouring. Visit the tea gardens, see the plantation workers and their villages, taste the various grades at the Lockhart Tea Factory established in 1879, and enjoy the opportunity to make your own brew. Afterward, enjoy some lively conversation with the planter’s family over high tea in the hotel.

Windermere Estate
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12
Periyar River

Drive through scenic forest into the countryside, where rubber trees grow and spices are cultivated. After lunch, continue the drive to Kochi (formerly Cochin). This evening, motor around the harbor and soak up the sunset.

Brunton Boatyard
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 13
Kochi

Today, watch as the local fisherfolk set off to cast their nets. Get a peek into the massive seafood auction and witness the morning hustle as buyers haggle over the prized catch. Savor a cup of tea at a local chaikadda, after which you visit a Soviet-era Communist reading room. Later, ride the local ferry to Ernakulam to further your live action market experience. End your tour with a visit to the local temple Ernakulathappan, and savor some fresh South Indian breakfast. After breakfast, visit one of the oldest Jewish synagogues in India. See the story of the Ramayana depicted in the wonderful murals at charming Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace) and visit St. Francis Church, both of which were erected by the Portuguese in the 16th century. On the harbor shore, see the cantilevered fishing nets brought from southern China by traders, a testament to the centuries-old link between these regions. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure before absorbing Kerala’s Hindu culture at a Kathakali performance, one of the oldest dance forms in the area. See the elaborate makeup process before the show, and then, watch this unforgettable art form combining classical dance, theater, opera and pantomime.

Brunton Boatyard
Meals: Breakfast
Day 14
Kochi

Today, personalize your travel experience with a selection of Design Your Day® adventures.

Meet a local cook and food consultant, Nimmy, who shares her Syrian-Christian heritage through home-cooked food.

Tour the city with a local expert, who shares the heritage and history of the Malabar Coast through its temples, mosques, palaces and museums.

A day in the backwaters. Cycle to a market to taste local fruits and delicacies, cruise leisurely down palm-lined canals, lunch on typical Keralan fare with a local family and witness the impressive craftsmanship of local boat builders.

Return to Kerala in time for a farewell seafood dinner.

Brunton Boatyard
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 15
DEPART KOCHI

Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

Meals: Breakfast
Program Note: Travel in this remote region entails long travel days; best available accommodations; and limited access to Western cuisine.


Prices are in USD, per person, based on double occupancy.

  • 2021
  • Sep 15 - Sep 29
    Available
    Price
    Single Supplement
    Availability
    Price
    $6,295
    Single Supplement
    $1,795
    Availability
    Available
    How many people are travelling in your group?
  • Oct 20 - Nov 03
    Available
    Price
    Single Supplement
    Availability
    Price
    $7,395
    Single Supplement
    $2,895
    Availability
    Available
    How many people are travelling in your group?
  • Nov 24 - Dec 08
    Available
    Price
    Single Supplement
    Availability
    Price
    $7,395
    Single Supplement
    $2,895
    Availability
    Available
    How many people are travelling in your group?
  • 2022
  • Jan 26 - Feb 09
    Available
    Price
    Single Supplement
    Availability
    Price
    $7,395
    Single Supplement
    $2,895
    Availability
    Available
    How many people are travelling in your group?
  • Mar 09 - Mar 23
    Available
    Price
    Single Supplement
    Availability
    Price
    $7,395
    Single Supplement
    $2,895
    Availability
    Available
    How many people are travelling in your group?
Journey Details

Minimum number of guests to guarantee operation: Departures are guaranteed to operate with a minimum of 2 guests.

Maximum number of guests: Limited to 18 guests.

First group event: Welcome briefing at 8:30 a.m. on Day 2.

Last group event: Farewell dinner at 7:00 p.m on Day 14.

Tour inclusions: All accommodations as detailed on a double-occupancy basis with private facilities; meals as specified; bottled water during transfers and touring; airport welcome; assistance with luggage and group transportation by private air-conditioned vehicle; services of English-speaking A&K Resident Tour Director; economy flights only if specified as included in itinerary; all entrance fees, planning, handling, operational and communication charges; and all tipping.

Tour exclusions: International flights not specified as included; visas; insurance coverage of personal loss, injury, illness or damages incurred during your trip; items of a purely personal nature such as drinks, laundry, dry cleaning, Internet, fax or phone charges; transfers, sightseeing or meals not specified in itinerary; and excess baggage charges.


Preparing for Your Journey

Review A&K's quick travel tips to ensure you are prepared for your journey.

Download PDF

Essential Information

Download important information about your destination(s), including passport and visa requirements; vaccinations; baggage restrictions; a packing list; and tipping guidelines.

Download PDF

Passports & Visas

See passport requirements and A&K's recommendations for obtaining necessary visas.

Learn More

CDC Information

Familiarize yourself with health and vaccination requirements for your destination, at the Centers for Disease Control’s website.

Visit CDC

Chat
Now