The Vishnu Shore Temple, MamallapuramBull statues at blue sky in Shore Temple, MamallapuramBrihadeeswarar TempleEllora caves, AurangabadKailas Temple, ElloraMeenakshi Temple, MaduraiMenakshi Temple, MaduraiOne of Indian temples in the complex of ancient ruins in the Pattadakal town in India near Badami

South India

Southern India’s coastline is framed by an abundance of fertile plains and rolling hills. The ever-changing landscape shimmers, a monsoon-blessed paradise of greenery. From this wondrous setting, we explore shore temples, rock-cut shrines and parks; examine elephants up close; enjoy traditional dance performances and more…

November 30 – December 19, 2018 (20 Days)
$7,995 (£6,395) – exc. international airfare
Single supp: $1,350 (£1,080)
Deposit: $1250 (£850)
All meals included


Tour Description


  • Receive the perfect introduction to India on a tour of Mumbai and its bustling bazaars
  • Spend an afternoon at Periyar Game Reserve – a superb spot for viewing elephants up close
  • View the famous rock-cut shrines and shore temples of Mamallapuram

  • Discover Chalukyan architecture at the breathtaking Badami cave temples
  • Go behind the scenes at a thrilling Kathakali dance performance
  • Stand before the world’s largest monolithic statue at Sravanabelagola


November 2018


This morning we depart from the US, and head to Mumbai, India’s largest city, arriving there on Day 2.

We touch down in marvelous Mumbai this afternoon, and transfer directly to our central hotel. The rest of the day is ours to rest and recover from the flight. This evening we come together for dinner at our hotel: a welcoming introduction to the group.
Hotel: Trident Nariman Point

After spending the morning at leisure, we gather for an opening lecture and lunch. Our tour begins in the afternoon, as we take in the major sites of Mumbai and enter the historic Prince of Wales Museum. Built at the start of the 20th century to commemorate King George V’s visit, in 1922 the museum opened as a superb showcase of ancient Indian and Far Eastern artifacts. Highlights include sacred sculptures found in Buddhist caves, and the Indus Valley Culture gallery.

Later we fly inland to Aurangabad, a city founded in 1610 by the popular prime minister Malik Ambar. We check in to our hotel, and prepare for tomorrow’s adventures.
Hotel: Vivanta By Taj, Aurangabad

We spend our fourth day at Ellora, a famed UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we find some 34 cave temples carved out of solid rock, dating from between the 5th and 13th centuries. Of all the temples here, the chariot-shaped Kailasa Temple is by far the most spectacular. Created by monks chiseling out over 3 million cubic feet of stone, and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, Kailasa is the world’s largest single monolithic rock excavation.

We round off this incredible excursion with dinner back at Aurangabad.
Hotel: Vivanta By Taj, Aurangabad

Today our tour continues by way of the Ajanta Caves. Another exceptional World Heritage Site, the caves of Ajanta can be found in a crescent hillside over a lush natural ravine. Here ancient craftsmen left a series of miraculously well-preserved and vividly colored frescos. Combined they present a compelling picture of life in India almost 2,000 years ago. Elegant worship halls and dormitory cells merely strengthen the sense of a great spiritual legacy.

After lunch we fly to Mumbai and then on to Chennai, the city formerly known as Madras, where we check in to our stunning five-star hotel.
Hotel: Taj Coromandel, Chennai

We treat ourselves to a leisurely morning at our hotel before venturing out in to Chennai, Tamil Nadu’s coastal capital.

Our afternoon tour includes a visit to the Government Museum, a site rich in archaeological material including the largest collection of Roman antiquities outside of Europe. For us, however, one of the main attractions is the museum’s Bronze Gallery, where all manner of South Indian sculpture can be found. We also visit Fort St George, the first fortress founded in India by the English, and St Mary’s Church, the oldest British building in India; both striking remnants of the early colonial era.
Hotel: Taj Coromandel, Chennai

This morning we drive south to Mamallapuram where we spend the day visiting a World Heritage group of rock-cut shrines and shore temples. These remarkable constructions are some of the earliest examples of monumental architecture in Tamil Nadu, and are widely celebrated for their complexity and grandeur.

We end the day back in Chennai, with dinner and a private performance of Bharatanatyam Dance, a classical and regional artform, thought to be the oldest of its type in all of India. Traditionally danced exclusively by women, Bharatanatyam expresses Hindu ideas of religion and spirituality, and makes for a memorable way to crown our last night in Chennai.
Hotel: Taj Coromandel, Chennai

A morning flight takes us down to Tiruchirappalli. Once the seat of power in southern India, Tiruchirappalli’s recorded history goes back as far as the 3rd century BC, when it was ruled by the culture-rich Chola dynasty.

After lunch we spend a full afternoon at the magnificent Ranganathaswamy Temple Complex, the largest operational Hindu temple in the world, and an illustrious pilgrimage site. After admiring the intricate architecture of this towering sanctuary, we enjoy amazing views from the temple walls.

We continue to Thanjavur this evening, a Chola city widely considered to be Tamil Nadu’s cultural capital.
Hotel: Svatma, Thanjavur

Our ninth day begins with a viewing of the fine collections of Chola bronzes at the Raja Museum, and continues via the iconic Brihadeshwara Temple. Completed in 1010 AD, Brihadeshwara is one of the largest temples in the country and is distinguished by its truly immense stone-carved tower.

After a traditional lunch at a Chettinad mansion we depart for the Tamal city of Madurai. This evening we are treated to the first of two visits to the great Meenakshi Temple, a historic complex decorated with enormous vividly sculpted towers. As we wander among the temple’s visiting worshippers, we may be lucky enough to witness the giving of offerings, perhaps even a local wedding.
Hotel: The Gateway Hotel, Pasumalai

This morning we visit Thirumalai Nayak Palace, a visual feast of column-flanked courtyards, cloistered archways and tranquil gardens created in the early 1600s. We also pay a second visit to the bustling halls and shrines of Meenakshi Temple.

This afternoon is ours to explore more of magical Madurai’s highlights in our own time, before the group comes back together for an evening meal.
Hotel: The Gateway Hotel, Pasumalai

We leave Madurai and drive to the protected wilderness of Periyar Game Reserve, for an afternoon witnessing the natural wonders of South India. Wild elephants, deer exotic birds, and even the occasional tiger can all be spotted here by the patient observer, and we keep our eyes peeled as we ride in to the heart of the reserve on our motor launches.

Tonight we dine and unwind within the four-star mountain luxury of the Spice Village Hotel.
Hotel: Shalimar Spice Garden, Periyar

After breakfast we continue our journey with a visit to the spice gardens around Periyar Lake – a chance to learn more about the history and practices of Ayurvedic medicine, as well as the various properties of this area’s indigenous plants.

We then drive through miles of lush tea plantations to the palm-fringed Keralan settlement of Alleppey. Here we board a traditional rice boat for a laid-back voyage through local canals and backwaters before continuing on to our base for the next two nights: the charismatic city of Cochin.
Hotel: Fragrant Nature, Cochin

We tour Cochin together this morning, getting to know the country’s first ever European settlement. Also known as the “Queen of the Arabian Sea”, the port of Cochin stood at the center of India’s spice trade for many centuries. As part of our tour we visit Mattancherry Palace, a Portuguese palace gifted to the king of Cochin in around 1555. We also stop at St Francis Church – the oldest European church on Indian soil – the 16th-century Paradesi Synagogue – the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth – and the excellent Cochin Museum.

Following lunch we go our own ways for an afternoon at leisure, before regrouping to watch a Kathakali Dance Performance. As well as offering us an exciting taster of Kerala’s ancient heritage, this experience also includes a special opportunity to go backstage. This evening is not to be missed!
Hotel: Fragrant Nature, Cochin

We fly to Bangalore this morning, and, from there, make our way over to Mysore, the cultural capital of the state of Karnataka.

En route we stop at the lovely Somnathpur Hoysala Temple, a 13th-century complex much admired for its symmetrical architecture, intricate sculpture and prominent shrines to Vishnu. We check in to our fabulous four-star hotel, and celebrate another successful day over dinner as a group.
Hotel: Radisson Blu Plaza, Mysore

We start our morning at Srirangapatna Fort, former summer palace of Tipu Sultan, an 18th-century ruler known to many as “the Tiger of Mysore” for his ferocious attacks against the British and his murder of political dissenters. We continue to the Maharajah’s Palace, one of the largest and most splendid royal residences in India, where we find a dazzling throne room, pavilions, and grandly mosaiced marriage hall.

Pausing for lunch, we go on to enjoy a drive in the nearby Chamundi Hills before spending the rest of the day in the city as we wish. Dinner is served to the group this evening.
Hotel: Radisson Blu Plaza, Mysore

It is time to move on, and this morning we head first for Shravanabelagola, an ancient Jain pilgrimage site. The 58-foot tall statue of Gommateshwara here is generally considered to be the world’s largest monolithic statue. We continue north, roaming sites around the city of Hassan, including Keshava Temple at Belur and Hoysalesvara Temple at Halebid. The latter is famed for its detailed friezes depicting scenes from the Ramayana, while the former is said to be one of the largest Vishnu temples in existence.

We end the day at Chikmagalur, a verdant town in the foothills of the Mullayanagiri Range, where we check in to our hotel for dinner and well-earned rest.
Hotel: The Gateway Hotel, Chikmagalur

Our travels take us further north to the temple town of Hampi, our base for exploring the extraordinary Vijayanagara ruins. Founded in 1336, Hampi is the former capital of one of the largest Hindi empires, the Karnata. At its peak the city covered several square miles and was surrounded by seven fortified walls. We explore the temples, pavilions, bath complexes and palaces of this wonderful World Heritage Site before retiring to our hotel for dinner.
Hotel: Heritage Resort, Hampi

We continue to tour the sites of Hampi throughout the day – seeing all that we can of this treasure trove of handsome temples, majestic artwork and stunning Medieval architecture – before returning to our comfortable hotel.
Hotel: Heritage Resort, Hampi

Our final full day in South India takes us to Badami on the shores of Agastya Lake. Badami was the capital of the ruling Chalukya dynasty from the 6th to the 8th centuries and is well known for its rock-cut Chalukyan cave temples, located in a beautiful canyon.

This afternoon is free for us to explore the area in whatever way we wish: enter the caves, wander the lakeside temples, or perhaps sip a fragrant chai or two by the water’s edge. Tonight we reunite for a unforgettable farewell dinner with the group.
Hotel: Badami Court, Badami

We may now only have hours left in India, but there’s still enough time to explore! After breakfast we head straight to two of the richly-decorated Aihole Hindu Temples, as well as the archaeologically significant Temples of Pattadakal, a magnificent set of structures erected between the 8th and 7th centuries BC.

We continue on to the city of Hubli, to catch a flight back to Bangalore. From here we transfer to the international airport and make our return journey home.

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2018 Accommodation

Trident Nariman Pointtriedent-1

Wake up to serene views of the ocean as this hotel towers above the city.  Trident’s iconic views and luxury design has become a landmark of Mumbai. The rooms are spacious and airy with large windows, the light-wood floors and fresh décor creates a fresh and crisp feel to leave you feeling rejuvenated. The modern amenities don’t leave you disappointed either!



Vivanta By Tajvivanta-by-taj-1

This hotel brings India to life with vibrant colours in a blend of contemporary & traditional styles. This chic hotel has the coolest bar to spend the evenings. Alternatively, find a calm urban retreat in the Jiva spa, so you can put your feet up after a day’s exploring. The breakfasts are equally delightful with a wide range of choices, both Asian and Western.



Taj CoromandelAAG_LobbyReception3x2Taj-CORO

Taj Coromandel is a grand luxury hotel, step onto the marbled floor of the lobby with the twinkling light of the crystal chandelier. In the past, the hotel has played host to Prince Andrew and the Emperor & Empress of Japan. These exquisite rooms are tranquil places to unwind with contemporary furniture and polished wood flooring.



Ideal River ViewIdeal-river-view

An oasis in Thanjavur. Enjoy spacious rooms and Sri Lankan cuisines. The hotel has a friendly atmosphere and the restaurant terrace is the social hub for the hotel. The rooms are in blocks around the hotel’s reception and the hotel gardens are very well looked after and have views over the river.




The beautiful interior of the hotel and rooms replicate that of a charismatic & elegant family home. Every spot of the hotel has personality, from the social terraces and lounges to the hidden away corners for a private retreat. The neutral décor is brought to life by blasts of rich bright colours and golds in a traditional style. Try something unique in this hotel and reenergize in an evening’s yoga session with traditional asanas & meditation.



The Gateway Hotel PasumalaiThe-gateway-1

Situated on top of a hill this enchanting hotel is surrounded trees of a coconut plantation and looks over the Negombo Lagoon below. You’ll be welcomed by unmatched hospitality inside, and also be greeted by native peacocks wandering the hotel grounds. The hotel is equipped with modern amenities and the rooms are modern and cosy.



Spice VillageSpice-village-1

This beautiful hotel is a CGH Earth Hotel. These hotels are built around a truly indulgent experience to immerse your senses while upholding their core values of environmental and cultural awareness. Check in and receive a herbal tea, you’re able to pick the herbs yourself as your bags are taken to your room. While the hotel village is built using materials found on the mountain, all the comforts of modern hotel amenities exist but don’t intrude.



Shalimar Spice GardenShalimar-Spice-Garden-Thekkady--1

Nestled into the deep jungle, Shalimar Spice Garden blends European hospitality and Indian living in a rich cocktail of culture. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary borders the resort, with wildlife and even coffee and cardamom plants growing around the cottages. The interior boasts top class amenities without losing the traditional delights.



Fragrant NatureFragrant-nature-1

Wake up hidden away in the mist covered mountains in the Fragrant Nature Hotel. Breathe in the crisp air and look out on stunning scenery and dew-covered tea leaves. The world-class hospitality will leave you regenerated… and with exciting cultural dance & music displays at the hotel, you’ll have an embellished stay! At breakfasts try some Indian delicacies, with continental selections too.



Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel.Radison-Blue-1

Offering stunning views of the Chamundi Hills, this luxury hotel is one of the best in Mysore. These rooms are contemporary and the soothing tones create a space to recline after a busy day exploring. With all the state of the art amenities, you’ll can wake up to picturesque views.



Heritage Resort, HospetHeritage-]

In the centre of the World Heritage site, the luxury Heritage resort has been designed for you to soak up the culture and enchanting vibe of Hampi. Wake up to the sounds of exotic birds in the surrounding Mango and coconut plantations, and in the evening recline on the pool-side.



Badami Courtbadami

This hotel is an oasis, designed around comfort, you’ll be met by a warm and friendly Indian welcome, which you would have come to know well. The restaurant is packed with explosive flavors is the social hub of the hotel. The garden lawns make a quiet retreat for the evenings, as you can watch the sunset above the spot-lit pool.



Taj Bangalore

This luxury and modern hotel makes the perfect end to your holiday. You can relax in the calm of the terrace and enjoy the hotels alfresco dining or venture to the hotel’s chic spa facilities and pool. The hotel’s emphasis is on elegance and style and the rooms reflect this with all modern & comfortable furnishings, looking out over the gardens and water features.


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