India: The Beautiful South – A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2023/24)

Immerse yourself in India’s more spiritual side on this journey through the relaxed southern states of the sub-continent.

Journey Overview

Immerse yourself in India’s more spiritual side on this journey through the relaxed southern states of the sub-continent. 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 colour and movement of bustling, sophisticated cities, sleepy fishing villages, tropical coastlines, and lush hinterlands. You’ll be astonished by the Pallava sculptures and towering Chola temples of Tamil Nadu, enchanted by the colonial charms of Puducherry, and lulled by the tranquil backwaters of Kerala, in an India still largely undisturbed by tourism.

Journey Highlights

  • 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 chef in Puducherry for a market visit and cooking lesson
  • Visit Auroville, the New Age community founded in the 1960s that still attracts devotees the world over
  • Experience an evening aarti ceremony at Meenakshi Temple
  • Enter a world of tea, from plant to pour, amidst the plantations of Munnar
  • Watch the colourful port city of Kochi come to life with an expert guide
  • Travel during the festival of lights, Diwali (Nov 2023 departure only), or the Pongal Festival (Jan 2024 departure only), a famous thanksgiving celebration dedicated to the Hindu sun god (Mar 2024 departure only)
  • Enjoy the contemporary opulence of the Colonial Rooms With Private Sit-Out at Taj Connemara in Chennai
  • Typically features a small group size of 10–12 guests

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Chennai, India

Welcome to Chennai (formerly Madras) where you are met by A&K and transferred by private vehicle to your hotel. A bustling hub situated on the Bay of Bengal, Chennai showcases India’s artistic, religious and culinary traditions, with many museums and temples to explore and deliciously authentic delicacies to sample. The remainder of your day is at leisure.

Taj Connemara

Day 2: Chennai | Colonial Madras

After breakfast meet your Resident Tour Director for a briefing along with your fellow travellers. Take a walking tour and discover colonial Madras through the buildings left behind by the British. Then zigzag your way through the bustling bylanes of vibrant Georgetown with your guide pointing out the fresh produce and colourful market stalls, pausing along the way to taste handpicked street food treats. Finish the day at Marina Beach at sunset, before a wholesome welcome dinner held at award-winning restaurant, The Raintree.

Taj Connemara | Meals: BLD

Day 3: Mahabalipuram | World Heritage Wonders

Travel south to the ancient Pallava capital of Mahabalipuram, site of the UNESCO World Heritage 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: BLD

Day 4: Puducherry | Local Flavours

Explore ‘Pondy’ on foot, starting in the French Quarter admiring the wide shady streets, colonial architecture and soft pastel-colours. Pause at Sri Aurobindo Ashram, founded by the Indian philosopher, yogi, guru, poet and nationalist Sri Aurobindo in 1926, and today a community of more than 1,200 devotees. The main building houses the mortal remains of Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, ‘the Mother’ in a marble mausoleum.

This evening, visit a local market with a chef who will provide important tips on the selection of fresh ingredients before joining kitchen staff at your hotel in preparing dinner which, as per tradition, is served in the kitchen.

Palais de Mahe | Meals: BD

Day 5: Puducherry | The Legend of Auroville

Travel to the nearby New Age community of Auroville. It was founded in 1968 and attracts devotees of Sri Aurobindo from over 45 nations. You will also have a chance to wander through the site and visit Mohanam Cultural Centre which is preserving the rich cultural heritage of South India. The rest of the day is your own to explore, or relax in your hotel.

Palais de Mahe | Meals: B

Day 6: Thanjavur | Nataraja Temple

Drive further 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. Thanjavur is home to many magnificent temples and shrines, making it one of the most important and most visited historical sites in India today.

Svatma | Meals: BLD

Day 7: Thanjavur | Dravidian Temple Architecture

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 and the exquisite Chola frescoes. 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. Enjoy time at leisure where you may choose to indulge in the facilities of the hotel before dinner.

Svatma | Meals: BD

Day 8: Karaikudi | Chettinad Cuisine and Culture

Journey on to the Chettinad region, home to a prosperous banking and business community and a remarkable cuisine, one of Tamil Nadu’s most famous. Take a bullock to lunch where you’ll savour subtle and aromatic local flavours followed by a visit to a tile factory and a weaving centre to admire soft cotton sarees before continuing to Madurai. This evening, savour a sundowner on the magnificent Moon Deck, admiring spectacular city views.

The Gateway Pasumalai | Meals: BLD

Day 9: Madurai | Design Your Day

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, chose from a selection of Design Your Day activities:

  • Visit a potter’s village to observe their artistic skill and discover mystifying stories from the potters who breathe life into clay models.
  • Head out on a food trail, experiencing Madurai’s lively food scene experiencing some of its recorded history that spans two millennia.
  • Join a local expert on a stroll through this ancient city and discover stories that span the length of time – some set a millennia ago, some more recent.

This evening travel like a local by tuk tuk to witness the aarti​ Hindu prayer ceremony at the 12th century Meenakshi Temple, a multi-tiered, dazzling wonder, heaving with carved mythical figures and devout pilgrims.

The Gateway Pasumalai | Meals: B

Day 10: Munnar | Western Ghats

Your journey continues into Kerala and the lush Western Ghats to Munnar, a city surrounded by rolling hills, carpeted in emerald green tea plantations. After settling into your old-world plantation retreat, stroll around the estate with an expert naturalist who will identify the local flora and fauna.

Windermere Estate | Meals: BLD

Day 11: Munnar | Tea Immersion

Discover a world of tea today as you witness the complete process from leaf plucking and processing to packaging and pouring. Visit the tea gardens, see the plantation workers and their villages, taste the various grades and enjoy the opportunity to ‘make your own brew’. Afterwards, visit a nearby village to experience local regional life and admire houses amidst the rolling green hills.

This evening, enjoy some lively conversation with the planter’s family over high tea in the hotel.

Windermere Estate | Meals: BLD

Day 12: Kochi | Capital of Kerala

Drive through scenic countryside where rubber trees grow and spices are cultivated to Kochi (formerly Cochin), known as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’. Set on a magnificent estuary, serene Kochi has been drawing traders, explorers and travellers to its shores for over 600 years. After lunch with your group, the afternoon is yours to explore. This evening motor around the harbour and soak up the sunset.

Brunton Boatyard | Meals: BL

Day 13: Kochi | Oldest European Settlement in India

Spend the morning with a local expert as Kochi comes to life. Watch as the fishermen reveal their catch before the morning hustle at the fish market. Have tea at a local chaikadda, then pay a visit to the Soviet-era communist reading rooms. Take a ride on the local ferry to Ernakulam, where you can catch all the action of the local market and pay a visit to the city’s namesake temple.

After breakfast, visit one of the oldest Jewish synagogues in India, decorated with blue ceramic Chinese tiles and surrounded by an aromatic spice market and the boutiques of Jewtown. 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 harbour shore, see the cantilevered fishing nets brought from southern China by traders — a testament to the centuries old link between these regions.

This afternoon is at leisure before absorbing Kerala’s Hindu culture at a Kathakali performance. See the elaborate make-up process before the show, an extravagant display of costumes and expressive dance.

Brunton Boatyard | Meals: B

Day 14: Kochi | Design Your Day

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

  • Enjoy 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 admire the impressive craftsmanship of local boat builders.
  • Meet a local cook and food consultant, Nimmy, who shares her Syrian Christian heritage through homecooked 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.

Return to your hotel in time for a farewell dinner.

Brunton Boatyard | Meals: BD

Day 15: Depart Kochi

Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

Meals: B

Journey Details

Minimum age is 10 years.
First group event: tour briefing at 8:30 a.m. on Day 2.
Last group event: farewell dinner at 7:00 p.m. on Day 14.
Departures are guaranteed to operate with a minimum of 2 guests.

Please note: Proof of COVID-19 full vaccination is required for this program.

Included with every Limited Edition Small Group Journey

  • All accommodation as detailed with private facilities
  • Meals as specified in itinerary, including welcome and farewell dinners
  • Services of English speaking A&K Resident Tour Director
  • Airport welcome
  • Porterage
  • Group transportation by private air-conditioned vehicle
  • Bottled water during transfers and touring
  • Wine & beer during lunches and dinners (selected by Resident Tour Director)
  • All entrance fees
  • Planning, handling, operational and communication charges
  • All tipping

Customise this Journey

Talk to one of our expert Journey Designers or your travel agent about booking this tour as a private journey for your own small group with family or friends. Or, if you would prefer to travel privately, find out more about creating the perfect bespoke tailor-made journey based on this itinerary.

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Preferred Accommodation

Preferred Accommodation

This journey features the following Preferred Accommodations:

Taj Connemara, Chennai

India: The Beautiful South – A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2023/24)
A&K Favourite

As Chennai’s only heritage hotel, Taj Connemara is an absolute standout. As the presidency of Madras became the metropolitan of Chennai, ... Read more

Palais de Mahe, Puducherry

India: The Beautiful South – A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2023/24)

A freshly crafted gem in the heart of Puducherry’s French Quarter, Palais de Mahe combines the flavours of Southern India with French fla... Read more

Svatma Thanjavur

India: The Beautiful South – A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2023/24)

The Svatma experience is designed as a voyage to discover the mind. Experience this magical journey by indulging in the luxury of leisure... Read more

The Windermere Estate, South India

India: The Beautiful South – A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2023/24)

At 1600 metres above sea level the views from The Windermere Estate are stunning, look out to endless tea plantations against the backdro... Read more

Brunton Boatyard, Kochi

India: The Beautiful South – A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2023/24)

Although a new building, this hotel perfectly echoes the Dutch and Portuguese colonial architecture of old Fort Kochi. With lime-washed w... Read more

Dates & Prices

Journey Dates & Prices

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy

Sep 13, 2023 - Sep 26, 2023 Special
Price AU$8,465pp Single Supplement AU$0 was AU$2,195 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Oct 4, 2023 - Oct 17, 2023 Special
Price AU$9,495pp Single Supplement AU$0 was AU$3,545 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Nov 1, 2023 - Nov 14, 2023 Special
Price AU$9,495pp Single Supplement AU$0 was AU$3,545 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Jan 10, 2024 - Jan 23, 2024 Special
Price AU$9,495pp Single Supplement AU$0 was AU$3,545 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Mar 13, 2024 - Mar 26, 2024 Special
Price AU$9,495pp Single Supplement AU$0 was AU$3,545 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire

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