15 days from $4,995 pp*
  • Experience a touch of France in India's Pondicherry.
  • Overnight on a houseboat in the backwaters of Alleppey.
  • Enjoy unique temples, spice gardens and palm-fringed beaches.
  • Private transfers and tours throughout.
  • Featuring expertly selected premium hotels.
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First-time travelers to India, invariably, express a desire to see Delhi, Agra and Jaipur with, perhaps, another stop in the north added to the itinerary. It’s a classic itinerary, for sure. There is, however, another classic Indian route, this one shaped like a scimitar and connecting Chennai on the Bay of Bengal side of the ocean with Cochin (or Kochi) on the side of the Arabian Sea. It's an inspiring journey that offers plenty of magnificent temples, lots of spices, palm-fringed silvery-white beaches, calm backwaters with houseboats and a very diverse history.

Start this intriguing journey in Chennai, the fourth-largest city in India, and the commercial soul of this part of the country. The town's famous temple is called Kapleeshwarar, but just half a mile down the road is the Santhome Cathedral Basilica Church. The point of interest here is that it was built over the tomb of the Apostle St. Thomas. Only two other places in the world share this notoriety; St. Peter in the Vatican and St. James in Compostela, Spain. To show how well religion and culture can mix: the statue of Mother Mary in Chennai’s Portuguese church dons a new sari every day. The city also boasts the world’s second largest beach, stretching some 8 miles, with a 150-feet tall lighthouse offering a superb view over the city and the bay.
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On the way to Pondicherry, enjoy a brief stop at Mahabalipuram, known for the intricate stone carvings dating back to the 7th century AD, many of which have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Pondicherry, meanwhile, six thousand miles from France offers fresh-baked baguettes and croissants for breakfast and the locals celebrate Bastille Day as might be expected from a former enclave of French India. Little quirks of this colonial town lie in widely spoken Tamil accented with French and its police force wearing bright-red kepis.

Next stop is Tanjore (Tanjavur), once considered the cultural capital of India. Visit the 'Big Temple' with its unique architectural features and the gigantic statue of Nandi, the Bull, guarding the inner shrine. A plethora of splendid temples is waiting for you just 50 miles further south in Chettinad. There are nine temple compounds spread within a radius of 16 miles, however, the intriguing aspect of Chettinad is its century-old mansions, with open courtyards, Italian marble, Spanish tiles and Burmese teak pillars displaying grandeur and opulence.

The number of temples in India is presumed to be around six million. The Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai is thought by many experts to represent the peak of South Indian temple architecture. It’s not just a temple but a 6-hectare complex with a staggering array of gods, goddesses and demons encrusted on many tall gatehouse towers. Not surprisingly, it is known as the Athens of the East and its history can be traced back 2,500 years.

The final portion of your journey in the classical South embraces Thekaddy, Alleppey and, finally, Cochin. Wildlife, spices and the backwaters of Kerala are in full focus here, including a spice garden and bird sanctuary tour, plus an overnight on a comfortable and elegant houseboat. The tranquility of the water, the enchanting landscapes and the melodies of the evening birds turn this into an incredibly delightful part of the trip.

Arrive, at last, in Cochin, known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea from the 14th century onwards. Let your private guide take you to the Dutch Palace, the Synagogue and Jew Town and the Chinese Fishing Nets on the shore at the tip of Fort Cochin. The city’s rich multi-cultural heritage will become clear almost immediately, after visiting those historical places and buildings with its Portuguese, Dutch, Jewish and British influences. No visit to Cochin is complete without attending a Kathakali dance performance where you watch the actors apply their make-up – a very detailed process – and well worth attending before the actual start of the show.

Kensington Tours creates private trips from the world’s finest ingredients. Tailor-made with care by your personal Destination Expert, your personalized trip is always a one-of-a-kind experience made just for you. Expert local guidance and 24/7 service come standard.
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Day
Activities Hotel & Meals
Hotel & Meals
  • Day 1 Chennai
    Chennai
    • Airport Meet & Greet
    • Private Transfer - Airport - Vehicle/Driver/Assistant
    Breakfast
  • Day 2 Chennai
    Chennai
    • Private Tour - 1/2 Day City Tour - Vehicle/Driver/Guide
    • Private Tour - Kalakshetra Dance Academy Tour - Vehicle/Driver/Guide
    Breakfast
  • Day 3 Chennai to Pondicherry
    Chennai to Pondicherry
    • Private Transfer - Chennai - Pondicherry [via Mahabalipuram ] - Vehicle/Driver
    Breakfast
  • Day 4 Pondicherry
    Pondicherry
    • Private Tour - Pondicherry City Tour - Vehicle/Driver/Guide
    Breakfast
  • Day 5 Pondicherry to Thanjavur
    Pondicherry to Thanjavur
    • Private Transfer - Pondicherry - Thanjavur [(4 hrs)] - Vehicle/Driver
    • Private Tour - Brihadeeswarar Temple Tour - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
    Breakfast
  • Day 6 Thanjavur
    Thanjavur
    • Private Tour - Full Day Tour of Kumbakonam including Visit to Local Handloom & Bronze Wax Sculptor - Vehicle/Driver/Guide
    • Activity - Bharatanatyam Dance Performance - Vehicle/Driver/Admission
    Breakfast
  • Day 7 Thanjavur to Chettinad
    Thanjavur to Chettinad
    • Private Transfer - Thanjavur - Chettinad [via Namana Samudram (3 hrs)] - Vehicle/Driver
    • Private Tour - Chettinad City Tour - Vehicle/Driver/Guide
    Breakfast
  • Day 8 Chettinad to Madurai
    Chettinad to Madurai
    • Private Transfer - Chettinad - Madurai [(3 hrs)] - Vehicle/Driver
    • Private Tour - Madurai Bazaars Afternoon Walking Tour - Guide
    • Private Tour - Meenakshi Amman Temple & Night Ceremony Tour - Vehicle/Driver/Guide
  • Day 9 Madurai
    Madurai
    • Private Tour - Thirumalai Nayak Palace, Theppam Pond & Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple - Vehicle/Driver/Guide
  • Day 10 Madurai to Thekkady
    Madurai to Thekkady
    • Private Transfer - Madurai - Thekkady [(3 hrs )] - Vehicle/Driver
    • Private Tour - Half Day Mayanath Spice Garden Tour with Lunch (3 hrs) - Vehicle/Driver
    Breakfast
  • Day 11 Thekkady
    Thekkady
    • Private Tour - Nature Walk - The Guided Day Trek - Guide/Entrance
    • Shared Tour - Common Boating at Periyar - Entrance
    Breakfast
  • Day 12 Thekkady to Alleppey
    Thekkady to Alleppey
    • Private Transfer - Thekkady - Alleppey [3.5 hrs] - Vehicle/Driver
    • Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat Activities - Embarkation Day
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day 13 Alleppey to Cochin
    Alleppey to Cochin
    • Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat Activities - Disembarkation Day
    • Private Transfer - Alleppey - Cochin [1.5 hrs] - Vehicle/Driver
    • Private Tour - Synagogue & Palace - Vehicle/Driver/
  • Day 14 Cochin
    Cochin
    • Private Tour - Cochin City Tour - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
    • Activity - Kathakali Dance Performance - Vehicle/Driver/Admission
  • Day 15 Cochin
    Cochin
    • Private Transfer - Airport - Vehicle/Driver/Assistant
We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.
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Day 1: Chennai

An English-speaking airport representative will be waiting for you outside the customs area for you with a sign with your name on it for your added comfort on arrival. The representative will help you meet up with your private driver and accompany you to your accommodation.

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with private vehicle, driver and English-speaking assistant.

Accommodation: Taj Coromandel

Situated on Mahatma Gandhi Road, the Taj Coromandel Madras Hotel Chennai is in the heart of the city, near Fort St. George, Marina Beach as well as the Santhome Cathedral Basilica are the major attractions in Chennai. Designed for your comfort and convenience, the luxurious rooms are well-appointed and come with all the contemporary amenities to make your stay a pleasant one. The Match Point Coffee Shop offers a selection of international flavors. Enjoy delicious cuisine in an elegant setting of the on-site Southern Spice Restaurant. Sip a drink and relax in the cozy atmosphere of the tastefully designed bar. You can workout at the state-of-the-art gymnasium, have a bracing dip in the swimming pool, pamper yourself at the sauna or enjoy the steam bath at your leisure.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  the Taj Coromandel Madras Hotel Chennai
the Taj Coromandel Madras Hotel Chennai
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  room
room

Day 2: Chennai

Meet with your private guide and driver to spend a half day exploring Chennai’s fascinating historical and architectural gems. Situated on the Bay of Bengal and formerly known as Madras, Chennai is India’s 6th largest city and bustles with a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Begin with a visit to Kapaleeshwarar Temple, a 7th-century Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Shiva. The temple is an excellent example of Dravidian architecture, evident by its gopuram, an ornate monumental tower. Continue to the St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica in the Santhome neighborhood, constructed by 16th-century Portuguese explorers over the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle, who preached Christianity in India.

Drive along Marina Beach, India’s longest urban beach. The beach was heavily impacted by the devastation of the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Drive by Presidency College, a fine example of mid-19th century Indo-Saracenic architecture along the way to Fort St. George, the oldest English fortress in India, founded in 1644. The fortress now serves as the headquarters for the legislative assembly for the state of Tamil Nadu. Visit St. Mary’s Church inside the fort, the first Anglican Church constructed in Asia. End with a visit to the Indo-Saracenic-style Government Museum (also called the Madras Museum), which is the second oldest museum in India. The museum includes a rich archaeological and numismatic collection and is home to the largest collection of Roman antiquities outside of Europe.

Traditional dances make up an integral part of India’s cultural flavor, with different costumes, songs and forms of dance originating in different parts of the country, developed alongside the local traditions. With your private guide and driver, visit Chennai’s prestigious Kalakshetra Dance Academy, where talented young performers learn how to perfect the precise movements of classical dance styles including Bharatanatyam, one of India’s oldest classical dance styles. Founded in 1936, the school is Tamil Nadu’s leading academy of the arts, focusing on traditional dances and music styles from this state – the word “kalakshetra” means “holy place of the arts”. With an expert, learn about this ancient dance and its accompanying Carnatic (classical music of South India) vocals and music, played on instruments such as cymbals, drums, and flutes and you can watch student dancers and musicians learning some of the traditional movements. Photography is not permitted at the dance academy.

Accommodation: Taj Coromandel
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Kapaleeshwarar Temple Architecture
Kapaleeshwarar Temple Architecture
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Traditional Indian Dancers
Traditional Indian Dancers

Day 3: Chennai - Pondicherry

Leave behind the bustling city of Chennai and head south along the cost with your private driver and guide towards Pondicherry via the temples Mahabalipuram, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of stone cut Tamil monuments. Along the way, stop at Dakshina Chitra, an outdoor living museum that is a project of the Madras Craft Foundation NGO. Here, traditional houses from various parts of South India have been transported and re-built, offering you an unforgettable and authentic insight into the lifestyles of the diverse people of South India. The traditional arts and crafts of each South India state are skillfully demonstrated, from pottery to silk weaving. Continue onwards to Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram. The open-air museum of Tamil art was carved into enormous rock formations by students under the patronage of the Pallava rulers. Strewn along the coast are some outstanding examples of 7th-century sculptures, the cave temples, an enormous bas-relief which depicts scenes from the Indian epic the Mahabharata and an amphitheater of chariot shaped temples. The most breathtaking landmark is the Shore Temple, overlooking the Bay of Bengal. The granite temple is one of the oldest structural stone temples of South India and is the only surviving one of the complex – the rest have been claimed by the sea over the centuries. At the end of the visit, transfer to your hotel in Pondicherry.

Accommodation: Palais de Mahe

One of the luxurious hotels in Tamil Nadu is Palais de Mahe. Situated in the French district of Tamil Nadu, the hotel features splendid French architectural patterns that immediately captures one's attention and makes their stay in here purely exotic. The building is designed according to the French colonial building styles. A stay in here is truly memorable.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  The Matrimandir at Auroville
The Matrimandir at Auroville
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Palais de Mahe
Palais de Mahe

Day 4: Pondicherry

A former French colony, Pondicherry shows an unusual combination of European culture and Indian traditions. Today, accompanied by your private guide explore the highlights of this beautiful city. Its history can be traced back to Agastya, the revered sage of the south who built his hermitage here in 1500 BC. While it became a part of India in 1954, the traces of its history as a French colony still remain in its churches, cuisine, grid-pattern streets, and colonial buildings. Behind every charming façade, you will find incredible stories. Explore the architecture and the ironies, the contradictions and the culture, the things Pondicherry did right and many things that didn’t work out. Surrounded by the British in India, the French here were gritty, stubborn and refused to disappear. Walk around the French Quarter of the town, telling tales of kings and commoners, poets and villains, all of whom wove their way into the fabric of Pondicherry. Here you will also have the opportunity to visit art galleries like Aurodhan, Tasmai and Kalinka with your expert guide. In the late afternoon proceed to visit the Tamil quarters and Auroville which developed around the ashram of the Indian yogi, Sri Aurobindo. Upon the conclusion of your tour you will be privately transferred back to your accommodation.

Accommodation: Palais de Mahe
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Local Pouring Traditional Tea
Local Pouring Traditional Tea

Day 5: Pondicherry - Thanjavur

Meet your driver and make yourself comfortable for the private transfer from Pondicherry to Thanjavur. Approximate driving time is 4 hours.

Today with your private English-speaking guide, visit the Brihadeeswarar Temple, also called the Big Temple, and dedicated to Lord Shiva. One of the more popular temples in Southern India, the Brahadeeswarar Temple is the Chola dynasty's finest contribution to Dravidian temple architecture. What makes the construction so unique is the diversion from the usual temple building norms of having a tall gopuram and smaller vimanams (the towers over the sanctum).

Accommodation: Svatma

Svatma is a hotel unlike many. It is the epitome of Tamil culture and art that has evolved into a travel destination of mystique and allure. There are no standard rooms in this property, each is unique, built as an elite family residence over a hundred years ago and lovingly restored. Think of it as a sort of romantic notion by contemporary artists, flirting with curated antiques and experimenting with ancient art forms. What’s been created here is almost an affair of the mind, moving between Carnatic Music and Chola Bronzes while witnessing traditional Bharatanayam in an amphitheater, occasionally pervaded by the aroma of traditional filter coffee. At Svatma, the residency becomes a journey in itself, a voyage of discovery, an immersion in the arts.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Brihadeeswara Temple
Brihadeeswara Temple
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Thanjavur
Thanjavur

Day 6: Thanjavur

Start on a full day exploration of Kumbakonam and visit the bronze sculpture artisans. These talented sculptors create superb replicas of traditional South Indian bronzes through the lost-wax method. The design and construction of these artworks follows the strict aesthetic guidelines outlined in the Shilpa Shastra, an ancient treatise on Indian art. Many of the originals upon which they are based can be seen in the Rajaraja Museum in Thanjavur. You will then visit the silk weavers of Kumbakonam, who create brightly colored saris and pattu pavadai (children’s dresses), featuring floral and animal motifs. Enjoy a unique session with these expert handloom weavers to understand the step by step procedure of weaving.

This evening, watch a scintillating Bharatanatyam dance performance. The performance brings to life mythological characters of divine origin which blends music, rhythm, poetry and expressions.

Accommodation: Svatma
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Silk Weaving
Silk Weaving
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Bharatanatyam Performer
Bharatanatyam Performer

Day 7: Thanjavur - Chettinad

Meet your private driver for a transfer from Thanjavur to Chettinad, with a stop en route at Namanasamuthiram where a local guide will join you on a visit to an Ayyanar koil with more than 100 terracotta horses and elephants, making up Tamil Nadu's own miniature "Terracotta Army". After your visit, continue by private vehicle to Chittnad.

Situated between Pudukottai in the north and Sivagangai in the south, the 74 villages of Chettinad stretch over 600 square kilometers of mostly arid land with a splash of green at irregular intervals. Chettinad, the land of palatial houses, enormous temples and excellent cuisine can convey volumes to the newcomer. From the days of trading diamonds, gems and salt under the Cholas, these townsfolk have made great progress. The weather is warm and life in Chettinad is comfortable. As a visitor, when you ramble through the narrow streets, you will stumble, literally on stones and worn out roads, and figuratively in stupefaction that there is so much untouched by tourism. Today, there is a curious mix of old stately mansions, English-styled bungalows, partially ruined homes, wedding halls, shops and schools. Somewhere in between will be the temple, with its gopurams in colors varying from washed-out to recently painted tomato red, cobalt blue, parrot green and sunflower yellow. The main streets hum with activity in some villages and others only glimpse an occasional bus off-loading or picking up a couple of village folk. There is so much here for everyone to see, but nothing beats the local cuisine. The Chettinad region and Karaikudu especially is a treasure trove of antiques and well-crafted hand-made products ranging from Jewelry to furniture making shopping a must do activity for every visitor.

Accommodation: Chidambara Vilas

Chidambara Vilas is a 110 year old heritage Chettiar home that provides an authentic showcase of the luxurious Chettinad lifestyles of the last century. The luxury is truly in the details, made possible through a 3 year restoration effort by the Sangam group which manages this heritage property. You can now experience one of the best examples of authentic Chettinad architecture, furniture, glasswork, tile work and paintings. The guestrooms have been recreated and restored to the smallest details. At the same time the rooms have been subtly enhanced with all luxuries and amenities to offer a personalized experience that gives the best of both worlds, a full century apart. Savour the world famous Chettinad cuisine through three unique dining experiences at Chidambara Vilas, interactive, experiential and fine dining. Enjoy a complete Chettinad experience through the custom designed indoor and outdoor activities. Relax in the international standard swimming pool and lounge area within the property.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Tamil women collecting tea leaves on plantation
Tamil women collecting tea leaves on plantation
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Indian cuisine
Indian cuisine

Day 8: Chettinad - Madurai

Meet with your private driver, and settle in for the transfer from Chettinad to Madurai. Approximate driving time is 3 hours.

This afternoon, with your private English-speaking guide, walk through Madurai’s vibrant bazaars, where you can admire crafts made specifically for the region’s Hindu temples and religious festivals. In Pudhu Mandapam, you can often find Muthangi, which are garments made for temple deities. While they were historically decorated with zari, pearls and precious stones, glass beads are typically used today. You can also find appliquéd textiles used to decorate temple chariots and doorways. This will be followed by a visit to the Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple, one of the most vibrant living temples in South India. This complex features 12 gigantic gopuras, or towers, covered with brightly-colored deities, animals and monsters. The Thousand-Pillared Hall, now a small museum, contains 985 highly-decorated pillars; a set of pillars just outside of the hall produce the seven notes of Carnatic music when struck.

This evening, visit Madurai’s showpiece, the 17th-century Meenakshi Amman Temple, overlooking the River Vaigai. Marvel at the sprawling temple, dedicated to Parvati and Shiva, and view its spectacular gateway towers (gopurams), covered in brightly painted carvings of Hindu gods. During your visit, experience a night ceremony at the temple. Each night the image of Shiva, is carried from his shrine to join his consort Parvati at hers, in another part of the temple.

Accommodation: Heritage Madurai

Heritage Madurai rings with historic charm that echoes in every hallway and every room. Lounge by the Olympic-sized temple tank pool, or relax in a plunge pool in your own private villa. Dine under a 200 year old banyan tree, serenaded by bird calls, while enjoying a delightful meal prepared by your own personal chef, specifically prepared to please your particular taste buds. Take a leisurely ‘historic’ walk through the corridors where, it seems, every stone has a story to tell.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple
Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Meenkashi Temple
Meenkashi Temple

Day 9: Madurai

Discover the historic atmosphere of Madurai, known as one of the great temple towns of Southern India. With your private driver and English-speaking guide. Start your morning off with a visit to Meenakshi Sundareswarar, a historic Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati, in the form of Meenakshi. The ceilings of the temple are vibrantly painted and the columns are lined with elaborate carvings of Hindu deities, and it was a frontrunner candidate to be named one of the “New” Seven Wonders of the World. Since Minakshi is the presiding deity, the daily ceremonies are first performed at her shrine.  This is a living temple and each shrine has priests performing rituals in front of them and you may also see a temple elephant. Continue to Thirumalai Nayak Palace. The architecture of this 17th century palace mixes Dravidian and Rajput influences with impressive columns, and in its heyday, it was one of the grandest in the south of the country. Its Celestial Pavilion, an octagonal structure, is curiously constructed in brick and mortar without supporting rafters. Your tour ends with a private transfer back to your accommodation.

Accommodation: Heritage Madurai
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple

Day 10: Madurai - Thekkady

Meet your private driver and settle in for your private transfer from Madurai to Thekkady. Approximate transfer time is 3 hours.

Experience the tranquil setting of the Mayanath Spice Garden, located in the village of Chellarkovil, straddling the state line between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Your private driver will accompany you to the spice garden, where the Spice Plantation owner will show you around the property and through the lush vegetation of the spice garden. The traditional style Kerala home on the property was originally constructed in 1860 and has seen numerous restorations over the years. The property offers sweeping bird’s eye view of the plains of Tamil Nadu to the east that you would traverse during the journey from Madurai to Thekkady.

The small green gate at the entry of Mayanath marks the boundary between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The farm owner will open the gate and take you for a leisurely stroll on the Tamil Nadu side of the slope. Green mountains and fertile fields stretch for miles from this scenic outlook. After enjoying the stunning vistas, return to the Kerala side of the fence with your host, and tour the fertile spice garden where pepper, cardamom, cloves, vanilla, coffee and tropical fruits are all grown year round. End your visit with a home-cooked lunch of simple but delicious Kerala food. After lunch, return to your hotel.

Accommodation: Spice Village

The Land Where Pepper Grows. Spice Village is located in the Periyar wilderness, high in the western ghats of Kerala. For centuries, the area attracted voyagers and adventurers, mercenaries and empire builders, kings and merchant princes. Men and women drawn not only by the lure of spices, but by the romance and wild beauty of the land. The Portuguese and the Jews of Cochin visited as traders, turning the natural bounties of the area into wealth. Pepper and cardamom, cinnamon and ginger, nutmeg, mace and anise the Periyar hills became nature's taste factory in the 14th century, as Cochin became nature's harbour, the port of lading for a spice-hungry world. Today, it's the rainforests, the animals and the vast silences that attract the modern visitor.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Thekkady Landscape
Thekkady Landscape
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Elephant
Elephant

Day 11: Thekkady

Today your guide will pick you up from your accommodation to walk one of the different trails traversing diverse nature habitats. The treks are generally between 4 and 5 kilometers in length. This is an interpretive program offers excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The trails often pass through evergreen and moist deciduous forests interspersed with marshy grasslands. The walking tour lasts for about 3 hours departs between 7.00 a.m. and 10.30 am and returns between 2.00 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. A maximum of 5 persons can go for trekking at a time along each nature trail, accompanied by a trained tribal guide. The Nature Walk is the right program to feel nature, hear her whispers and smell her flowers.

A boat cruise in the Periyar Lake is the best way to spot wildlife in the park. Herds of elephants come often to the lake for water. Hence, the lake becomes a prime site for animal watching. You may be able to observe some rare bird species that frequently visit Periyar including the Ceylon frog-mouth and rose billed roller, and the Osprey and Ratchet - tailed Durango.

Accommodation: Spice Village
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Elephant
Elephant
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Periyar Boating
Periyar Boating

Day 12: Thekkady - Alleppey

Meet your driver for a private transfer to Alleppey. The drive is approximately 3.5 hours.

Board the Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat from Alleppey at noon where you will be briefed with an introduction with the houseboat crew before your cruise begins. Cruise through Vembanadu Lake and anchor for lunch at approximately 1 pm.  After lunch, your cruise resumes at 3 pm and proceed to Muhamma. Reach Muhamma where you will visit a traditional village market for a coir making demonstration. After the visit, proceed to Pathiramanal and anchor for the overnight.

NOTE: cruise itinerary is subject to change.

Accommodation: Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat

Lakes & Lagoons is the first and only ISO 9001 - 2000 certified Houseboat Tour Company in Kerala. With a fleet of more than 21 luxury Houseboats, Lakes & Lagoons offer some of the best backwater cruise journeys. The Houseboats are situated in Alleppey, which can be described as a real natural treasure house providing splendid views of the blue over the lake surrounded by the green of the palms and vegetation, active with the aquatic life and local villages engaging in everyday errands.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat
Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Alleppey Backwaters
Alleppey Backwaters

Day 13: Alleppey - Cochin

Enjoy the early morning at leisure to enjoy the beautiful scenery. After breakfast, cruise to Alleppey and reach Pallathuruthy by 9.30 am for check out.

Meet your professional driver for a private transfer to Cochin. The drive takes approximately 1.5 hours.

Your guide will pick you up from your accommodation for your private tour of Cochin. The first stop is the Paradesi Synagogue. Built in 1568, it is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. The synagogue is magnificently decorated with Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. Then visit Dutch Palace offering a fantastic view of the city. This palace is notable for some of the best mythological murals in India, particularly in the bed chambers. In that room one can see the entire story of Ramayana on the walls. The palace also contains rare examples of traditional Kerala flooring, which look like polished black marble but are actually a mixture of burned coconut shells, charcoal, lime, plant juices and egg whites.

Accommodation: Brunton Boatyard (Fort Kochi)

The Brunton Boatyard possesses a remarkable sense of scale, evident the moment you turn into the tiled forecourt. The lobby is a vault of sunlight and air, framed by arches and overhung with punkahs - enormous, old-fashioned fans of Indo-Portuguese origin. Most rooms have a balcony. The corner suites are large with a separate sitting / dining and a private pantry for the Butler. All bathrooms too enjoy a great view and there is no better way to enjoy a luxurious bath than to lie in the long tub and keep the window shutters open to watch a fascinating scene below. The hotel has its own private jetty, which doubles up as a ‘café’, overlooking the pool garden and the sea.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat
Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Paradesi Synagogue
Paradesi Synagogue

Day 14: Cochin

Today, explore the city starting with a walk through the bustling harbor area and quaint backstreets to discover its rich and multifaceted past. Cochin is full of echoes of Kerala's past colonizers, including Hindu and Mughal dynasties, Portuguese and Dutch conquerors, and the British Empire - which came seeking control of the lucrative pepper trade. The city hosts the oldest church in India, 500-year-old Portuguese houses, old tiled houses built in the Chinese pagoda style, and a Jewish community whose roots go back to the Diaspora. St. Francis Church, originally named after Santo Antonio and dedicated to him as the Patron Saint of Portugal. Once a wooden building, it was replaced by the present stone building. Vasco De Gamma died on site in 1524 and was originally buried in the cemetery. His grave is still marked with a plaque and a brass rail, though his remains are back home in Portugal. Walk past, the four-century old Jewish synagogue, where looming protectively over the synagogue is the Mattancherry palace, erstwhile home to the Verma kings and today a fine museum.

This evening, enjoy a Kathakali dance performance. Dating back to the 17th century, it originated in the southern Indian state of Kerala. The word Kathakali literally means "Story-Play". It is known for its large, elaborate makeup and costumes. Usually performed only by men, the actors rely heavily on hand gestures to convey their story.

Accommodation: Brunton Boatyard (Fort Kochi)
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  St. Francis Church
St. Francis Church
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Kathakali Performer
Kathakali Performer

Day 15: Cochin

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with private vehicle, driver and English-speaking assistant.

Accommodation: Depart (Int`l Airport) (standard)

Depart from International Airport. End of itinerary.

We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.

Trip Terms & Conditions

  • Your deposit is due immediately on booking (30% of program price, minimum $350). The balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
  • Cancellations of confirmed bookings 90 days or more prior to departure will receive full refund minus a $350 (per person) administrative fee and any non-refundable paid fees (e.g. non-refundable airfare, cruise or hotel deposits). 60-89 days will be subject to loss of 30% of program price. 30-59 days will be subject to loss of 50% of program price. 29 days or less will be subject to loss of 100% of program price.
  • Tour quotes do not include airfare to/from the trip start point unless noted on the itinerary
  • Cost increases in currency exchange, government fees, taxes, surcharges or hotel/lodge tariff increases between quote date and start date are payable by the client.
  • Availability cannot be guaranteed until booked. We will exercise best efforts to book hotels per the itinerary, however, in busy seasons and with client bookings made within 90 days of tour date we may be forced to offer substitutes.
  • Payment of the program price constitutes your acceptance of the terms and conditions set out at www.kensingtontours.com/terms-and-conditions
  • Living Standards and practices at destination may differ from those in North America with respect to provisions of utilities, services and accommodation.

Taj Coromandel : Chennai

Situated on Mahatma Gandhi Road, the Taj Coromandel Madras Hotel Chennai is in the heart of the city, near Fort St. George, Marina Beach as well as the Santhome Cathedral Basilica are the major attractions in Chennai. Designed for your comfort and convenience, the luxurious rooms are well-appointed and come with all the contemporary amenities to make your stay a pleasant one. The Match Point Coffee Shop offers a selection of international flavors. Enjoy delicious cuisine in an elegant setting of the on-site Southern Spice Restaurant. Sip a drink and relax in the cozy atmosphere of the tastefully designed bar. You can workout at the state-of-the-art gymnasium, have a bracing dip in the swimming pool, pamper yourself at the sauna or enjoy the steam bath at your leisure.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  the Taj Coromandel Madras Hotel Chennai
the Taj Coromandel Madras Hotel Chennai
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  room
room

Palais de Mahe : Pondicherry

One of the luxurious hotels in Tamil Nadu is Palais de Mahe. Situated in the French district of Tamil Nadu, the hotel features splendid French architectural patterns that immediately captures one's attention and makes their stay in here purely exotic. The building is designed according to the French colonial building styles. A stay in here is truly memorable.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Palais de Mahe
Palais de Mahe

Svatma : Thanjavur

Svatma is a hotel unlike many. It is the epitome of Tamil culture and art that has evolved into a travel destination of mystique and allure. There are no standard rooms in this property, each is unique, built as an elite family residence over a hundred years ago and lovingly restored. Think of it as a sort of romantic notion by contemporary artists, flirting with curated antiques and experimenting with ancient art forms. What’s been created here is almost an affair of the mind, moving between Carnatic Music and Chola Bronzes while witnessing traditional Bharatanayam in an amphitheater, occasionally pervaded by the aroma of traditional filter coffee. At Svatma, the residency becomes a journey in itself, a voyage of discovery, an immersion in the arts.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Svatma
Svatma
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Svatma Swimming Pool
Svatma Swimming Pool

Chidambara Vilas: Chettinad

Chidambara Vilas is a 110 year old heritage Chettiar home that provides an authentic showcase of the luxurious Chettinad lifestyles of the last century. The luxury is truly in the details, made possible through a 3 year restoration effort by the Sangam group which manages this heritage property. You can now experience one of the best examples of authentic Chettinad architecture, furniture, glasswork, tile work and paintings. The guestrooms have been recreated and restored to the smallest details. At the same time the rooms have been subtly enhanced with all luxuries and amenities to offer a personalized experience that gives the best of both worlds, a full century apart. Savour the world famous Chettinad cuisine through three unique dining experiences at Chidambara Vilas, interactive, experiential and fine dining. Enjoy a complete Chettinad experience through the custom designed indoor and outdoor activities. Relax in the international standard swimming pool and lounge area within the property.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Chidambara Vilas
Chidambara Vilas
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Chidambara Vilas
Chidambara Vilas

Heritage Madurai : Madurai

Heritage Madurai rings with historic charm that echoes in every hallway and every room. Lounge by the Olympic-sized temple tank pool, or relax in a plunge pool in your own private villa. Dine under a 200 year old banyan tree, serenaded by bird calls, while enjoying a delightful meal prepared by your own personal chef, specifically prepared to please your particular taste buds. Take a leisurely ‘historic’ walk through the corridors where, it seems, every stone has a story to tell.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Heritage Madurai
Heritage Madurai

Spice Village : Thekkady

The Land Where Pepper Grows. Spice Village is located in the Periyar wilderness, high in the western ghats of Kerala. For centuries, the area attracted voyagers and adventurers, mercenaries and empire builders, kings and merchant princes. Men and women drawn not only by the lure of spices, but by the romance and wild beauty of the land. The Portuguese and the Jews of Cochin visited as traders, turning the natural bounties of the area into wealth. Pepper and cardamom, cinnamon and ginger, nutmeg, mace and anise the Periyar hills became nature's taste factory in the 14th century, as Cochin became nature's harbour, the port of lading for a spice-hungry world. Today, it's the rainforests, the animals and the vast silences that attract the modern visitor.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Spice Village Courtyard
Spice Village Courtyard
Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Spice Village Cottage
Spice Village Cottage

Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat: Alleppey

Lakes & Lagoons is the first and only ISO 9001 - 2000 certified Houseboat Tour Company in Kerala. With a fleet of more than 21 luxury Houseboats, Lakes & Lagoons offer some of the best backwater cruise journeys. The Houseboats are situated in Alleppey, which can be described as a real natural treasure house providing splendid views of the blue over the lake surrounded by the green of the palms and vegetation, active with the aquatic life and local villages engaging in everyday errands.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat
Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat

Brunton Boatyard (Fort Kochi) : Cochin

The Brunton Boatyard possesses a remarkable sense of scale, evident the moment you turn into the tiled forecourt. The lobby is a vault of sunlight and air, framed by arches and overhung with punkahs - enormous, old-fashioned fans of Indo-Portuguese origin. Most rooms have a balcony. The corner suites are large with a separate sitting / dining and a private pantry for the Butler. All bathrooms too enjoy a great view and there is no better way to enjoy a luxurious bath than to lie in the long tub and keep the window shutters open to watch a fascinating scene below. The hotel has its own private jetty, which doubles up as a ‘café’, overlooking the pool garden and the sea.

Classic South India Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Brunton Boatyard
Brunton Boatyard

Depart (Int`l Airport) (standard): Global Location

Depart from International Airport. End of itinerary.

We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.
We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.
  • Reginald B — April 14, 2019 — Asia

    This was a GREAT tour to Thailand! It exceeded my expectations in many ways (ie. itinerary, flexibility, and customer service). I would recommend this tour and Kensington Tours to family and friends. I will definitely use Kensington Tours for my future travel plans. My destination expert was Ms. Forkan. She expertly tailored my experience to my needs and wants. She filled in all the "unknowns" and ensured a safe, smooth trip/tour. Her professionalism and support was a 10/10. Thank you Ms. Forkan for designing this trip of a lifetime!

  • Ann L — June 05, 2019 — Asia

    Our guides made our whole trip - we will remember them as much as China itself. Jerry immediately put us at ease and made us feel like his best friends - he was sincere and authentic and open. Katy (in Chengdu) had great energy and showed us how people really live. Even though she must see the pandas every other day of her life, she still seemed to genuinely LOVE seeing them. (And, later, when we discovered we'd left valuables in the safe at our hotel, she went WAY above and beyond to take care of things - even after we were already in Shanghai!). Nancy (in Shanghai) was amazing - we truly enjoyed our time with her and she took us to markets and encouraged us to take our time at the places that interested us most. When we'd seen enough temples, our guides communicated with each other to rearrange our tours in coming destinations. We felt like we were on the food tour of China - the meals were wonderful, and it was - really - TOO MUCH FOOD! No part of our day was wasted, but if we wanted to start later or call it a night sooner, plans were easily rearranged. We would absolutely go with Kensington again!

  • Sandra S — February 09, 2019 — Asia

    We had a really interesting trip and your team made it all so easy. Our guides were not only informative, but they took very good care of us. They kept us on schedule with all the city transfers, made the Visa process so quick and introduced us to some of the things they loved about their cities as well as the scheduled sites. There were so many highlights on this trip, but I was especially wowed by the cruise on Ha Long Bay. Our guide in Hanoi went above and beyond on my birthday and arrived to pick us up with some beautiful orchids and a lovely gift. We were very happy with all our accommodations as well.

  • Daryl H. — January 26, 2019 — Asia

    I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the superb attention to detail in fulfilling my requests and my dreams

  • Laura E. — January 08, 2019 — Asia

    One of the benefits was that the guides were very flexible and suggested and accommodated changes to plans based on the weather and other circumstances. They all said they could do this when working with Kensington because Kensington supported it and empowered them with this flexibility. A big advantage in making the trip perfect!

  • Ajitkumar P. — January 04, 2019 — Asia

    The whole trip was well organized and we have recommended using Kensington to our friends.

  • Donna F. — February 03, 2018 — Asia

    Mark was able to put together the perfect tour! Our guide was very knowledge and we really appreciated her being so flexible with the holiday as we were there for Chinese New Year! She was able to take us to all the sights and part of the highlight was eating traditional Chinese food for New Year's.

  • Marjorie H. — October 01, 2018 — Asia

    This tour was so well organized - everything went off perfectly. As two women traveling together in a country where the language barrier was a challenge, it gave us great peace of mind to know that we would be escorted wherever needed. We appreciated not being part of a group - our private tour guides were delightful and the entire trip was very special for my daughter and me.

  • Sandra S. — October 13, 2018 — Asia

    The trip was very enjoyable. We gained new insights into China and the Chinese people. I wish we could have stayed longer. There is so much to see. My favorite sites were the Great Wall, Terra Cotta Soldiers, White Jade Buddah and the Shanghai night skyline. Cindy was most helpful in planning our trip. She's truly an asset to your company. Kensington Tours met all of our vacation needs.

  • Gina A. — January 09, 2019 — Asia

    I usually don't write reviews but I have to tell you, this was the best vacation. Yuki, our Destination Expert, did an excellent job putting it all together and the guides were excellent. I will be using you guys for my next international vacation.

We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.

* USD per person, double occupancy. Custom designed personal tour. Prices subject to change.

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