Coast to Coast

Coast to Coast

Each state in South India has a distinct historical background and cultural identity, with none more contrasting than the southern most states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, which exhibit different languages, cuisine, temples, climate and landscapes – they could be different countries if they weren’t neighbouring states!

Coast to Coast

This tour moves at a pace that allows you to fully appreciate their ancient and highly evolved cultures, as well as their natural beauty and laid back pace of life.

Tour Highlights

  1. Mamallapuram UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  2. Walking tour of former French Colony of Pondicherry.
  3. Living Chola Temples world heritage sites including Airavatesvara Temple tour and a visit to Brihadisvara Temple with its 62-metre high tower.
  4. Traditional cooking class in Chettinand
  5. Tour of the wonderful temple town of Madurai.
  6. Tea tasting workshop in Munnar
  7. One night in typical rice boat “ Kettuvalam”
  8. Bienale walk in Cochin


Chennai – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry – Tanjore – Trichy– Chettinand – Madurai – Munnar – Alleppey – Cochin

Day 01: Arrive in Chennai
Welcome to India! Arrive in cosmopolitan Chennai on the Bay of Bengal, gateway to South India; transfer to the hotel. Time to rest, relax and acclimate to your new time zone or venture out to get acquainted with some of the city's extraordinary sights and the lively shops selling vibrant handmade silk sarees
Day 02: Chennai (74 kms – 02 hrs) Kanchipuram ( 65 kms – 01 hr) Mahabaipuram
This morning, travel to Kanchipuram, the "City of a Thousand Temples," one of Hinduism’s most sacred cities. Here, you tour the historically important Ekambareswarar Temple with its 540 pillars. Then, visit the stunning Kailasanathar Temple with its elaborate carvings before having lunch. Kanchipuram, world-famous for its hand-woven silk sarees, is the center of silk production and design in India for over four centuries. As you walk along the lanes of the city, view colorful displays of sarees waving in the breeze, woven on hand looms by artisans throughout the city out of dazzling bright silks, embellished with golden threads. On your exclusive visit to a traditional silk weaving factory, meet with some of the artists and learn how to drape and wear a sari. Afterward, on to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram, an ancient archaeological wonder rising on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Bay of Bengal. Once a major seaport, these magnificent temples, and carvings are remarkable examples of exquisite architecture, illustrating tales from mythology and highlighting the development of the Dravidian temple style. Spend your evening at leisure.
Day 03: Mahabalipuram
Early this morning if you wish, join a yoga session. After breakfast, embark on a guided tour. Admire the Shore Temple standing by the sea for over 12 centuries, with an impressive bas-relief and imposing twin towers. At the southern end of the site, see the Five Rathas carved from large boulders and Arjuna’s Penance, a massive bas-relief that magnificently depicts the flow of the Ganges down from the Himalayas coupled with scenes from Indian daily life. This temple complex is considered the finest early example of medieval southern Indian architecture. This afternoon, relax on the lovely beaches this coastal city has to offer before dinner tonight at the hotel.
Day 04: Mahabaipuram – Pondicherry (110 kms – 02 hrs)
Your journey along the coast takes you to enchanting Pondicherry, a former French colonial settlement that still retains its carefree French atmosphere and architectural legacy. In the charming Old Quarter, with its tree-lined cobbled streets, colonial villas are draped with fragrant bougainvillea, and sidewalk cafes abound. Even the policemen are dressed in traditional French red hats and belts! Lunch is followed by a visit to serene Auroville, City of Dawn famous for the meditation center inspired by the teachings of the Indian yogi Sri Aurobindo. Many spiritually minded visitors come here and stay to nurture his vision of human unity. Next, view the golden-domed Mother Temple. Later, tour a factory where delicate individually handcrafted papers are produced followed by a visit to Aurobindo Ashram. Take a rickshaw ride around the French, Hindu and Muslim quarters of Pondicherry.
Day 05 : Pondicherry (70 kms – 02 hrs) Chidambaram (111 kms – 02½ hrs) Tanjore
Depart Pondicherry for Chidambaram, home to the massive temple complex of Nataraja, one of the holiest of all Shiva sites, a spectacular architectural marvel spread over 50 acres in the heart of the city. After time to relax over lunch, travel to Thanjavur (Tanjore) once a thriving capital of the celebrated Chola Empire, known as the "rice bowl" of the Tamil Nadu region. On arrival, visit the spectacular Maratha Palace, within a maze-like complex; walk through the open courtyard Art Gallery displaying priceless collections of superb Chola bronzes and stone carvings and visit the Saraswathi Mahal Library. The remainder of the day is at leisure in Thanjavur.
Day 06: Tanjore – Chettinand (100 kms – 02 hrs)

Begin the day with a visit to the grand Lord Brihadeeswarar Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where thousands of people worship daily. Built by King Raja Raja Cholan over a thousand years ago, this impressive temple is one of South India’s most magnificent architectural accomplishments.

Continue with a drive to Chettinad, land of the Chettiars, a community that dates back to the Chola period making its fortunes as money lenders, merchants and jewelry dealers. Here, see lavish palaces and mansions that reflect the opulence of a bygone era. Also known for its food and Master Chefs, delight in a distinctive traditional lunch of local favorites.

Day 07: Chettinand - Madurai (90 kms – 02 hrs)
This morning drive to the vibrant city of Madurai on the banks of the Vaigai River, a center of learning and pilgrimage for many centuries. A visit to the Gandhi Museum follows with an opportunity to learn about this remarkable man lovingly called the "Father of the Nation" instrumental in India’s fight for independence. Before dinner, visit a local dance school practicing Bharatnatyam. Meet with students to learn more about the dance and attend a performance. A visit with the group to the ancient Meenakshi Amman Temple, an enormous Nayak complex built between 1623 and 1655, as a majestic testament to their ruler. Later, head to the massive Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace with its imposing courtyard, grand throne chambers and entry flanked by stone carved horses before returning to the hotel for lunch. In the evening, shop at the bargain-filled bazaars bursting with treasures and jewelry shops galore.
Day 08 : Madurai - Periyar National Park (150 kms – 03½ hrs)
Don’t miss this morning's optional Vanakkam (means welcome in Tamil language) private interactive walking tour of Madurai! At the first light of dawn, walk the quiet streets as the city awakens. Observe first-hand how everyday life begins in this Indian city from prayer rituals at the temple to market shopping -- truly a total immersion into the culture. Return for breakfast, Drive to Periyar National Park perched high in the Cardamom Hills, the best-known wildlife sanctuary in South India, home to elephants, antelope, deer and many species of birdlife. Its variety of flora and fauna, pristine lakes and magnificent forests will surely make this visit most memorable. After time to relax and settle in at the hotel, stroll leisurely through one of the area’s spice plantations. You’ll hear about the many different ways to use these spices in both medicines and in the preparation of food. In the evening, join the optional Kalaripayattu Martial Art Show with dinner. Kalaripayattu, one of the oldest fighting styles in the world, is believed to have been adapted from various martial art forms like karate, kung-fu, and judo.
Day 09 : Periyar National Park
Thrilling activities await you today at the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Begin the day with a nature walk inside the National Park. Pass through evergreen and deciduous forests accompanied by your local guide, who informs you about the local flora. A highlight of the day is a scenic Jeep ride to Ottakathalamedu, 1300 meters above sea level, for panoramic views of Thekkady. Afterward, a boat ride on the picturesque lake. At the end of this exciting day, perhaps treat yourself to a rejuvenating and soothing Ayurveda massage. Tonight, gather for dinner together at the hotel.
Day 10: Periyar – Allepey (138 kms – 03½ hrs)
The drive to Alleppey reveals this tranquil backwater region of Kerala. Boarding a houseboat, you cruise along this very intricate network of canals, lakes, lagoons and rivers called the "Venice of the East." Observe Kerala’s rural lifestyle as you glide past tiny villages sprinkled with rice fields and witness a way of life that has changed little through the ages. With women washing clothes on the river banks while children play in the shallows, kingfishers dart among the palm trees and the fishermen stand with water up to their necks, seeking out fish with their feet. Savor a specially prepared lunch and dinner of Keralan cuisine cooked on board just for you.
Day 11 : Allepey – Cochin (60 kms )
Today morning after sumptuous breakfast on board leave for Cochin, a principle port and center of the Malabar Coast spice trade since the 14th century. Known as the "Queen of the Arabian Sea," it was here that the first European settlement in India was established by Vasco da Gama. Subsequently, the city was ruled alternatively by the Dutch and the British until its independence. Today you’re treated to a specially arranged cooking class at a private home in Kochi. Join your hosts in the preparation of lunch while learning some of the secrets of Indian cuisine. Afterward, view 16th century St. Francis Church, before proceeding to the Santa Cruz Cathedral with its pastel-colored interior and impressive murals. Head to the harbor where local fishermen continue to use cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, distinctively unique to Kochi, living symbols of a centuries-old Chinese influence on this coast dating back to the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan. Spend the rest of the day on your own in Kochi. Time to relax before tonight’s colorful Kathakali dance performance, Kerala's popular classical and emotional form of dance, drama and music that combines storytelling with music and rigorous physical training.
Day 12 : Cochin departure

This morning depart on a tour of the Mattancherry Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese and later renovated by the Dutch in the 17th century. Then, continue to the heart of the Old Quarter. Here, visit the Paradesi Synagogue, the oldest existing Jewish synagogue in India. Magnificently decorated with hand-painted Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers, the synagogue has preserved four important scrolls of the Old Testament. Back at the hotel and according to flight timing transfer to airport.

  • Best Season:  From 01 September –  30 April
map of Nawabs of Lucknow

The highlights of this trip

Kanchipuram  Saree Weaving

Synonymous with style, sophistication and grace, Kanjeevaram sarees have been an integral part of the wardrobe of South Indian women for centuries. Mostly worn during weddings and festivals, they not only look rich and beautiful but also hold traditional importance. The distinct feature of these sarees is the excessive use of real gold zari threads.

Chettinand Cuisine

Chettinad is a popular style of cooking that uses local spices generously. Some of the common flavours you would come across are star anise, maratti mokku (dried flower pods), kalpasi (stone flower) and pepper. Authentic Chettinad dishes mostly use seafood and some of the delicacies you can sample are pepper chicken, chicken varuval (dry spicy fried chicken), mor milagai (chillies marinated in yoghurt and dried in the sun). The vegetarian counterpart of the cuisine is murukku (a deep-fried round crunchy snack made with rice flour).


Kathkali Dance

Renowned all over the world, the magnificent Kathakali dance is one of the seven classical forms in India. Originating about 300 years ago, it is a blend of dance, music, drama, devotion, make-up and costumes. Woven so as to represent tales of the past and scenes from the Indian epics, the dance leaves spectators in awe.

As the dancers dive into an intricate series of steps and motions, they mesmerise the audience not just with their moves but also their elaborately painted faces. The make-up of the artistes depends on the character they are depicting like gods, saints, goddesses, animals and demons.


  • Cultural 90% 90%
  • Monuments 95% 95%
  • Local Experiences 95% 95%
  • Landscapes 90% 90%

Historical sights along with the wonderful foods.

“This is an excellent trip that gives you a good taste of the southern culture and historical sights along with the wonderful foods. There is a fair bit of travelling but it is the nature of trying to see a lot in a short time. “

Craig, Lund, Sweden

Great mix of places and experiences.

“Excellent overview of Southern India. We saw a lot in 2 weeks but didn’t feel time pressured. Great mix of places and experiences, great group, great guide.”

Anne-Marie, Aubonne, Switzerland.

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