Organic & Vegan Séjour

Organic & Vegan Séjour

Discovering the history, heritage, traditions, and cuisines of this unique part of India through cultural immersion and local interaction is what this adventure is all about. From joining local families at their homes in the countryside where we’ll learn about daily life in the villages and exploring intricately carved temples painted in Technicolor hues in fantastic temple towns. From following in the footsteps of the mighty Chola, Pallava, and Pandya dynasties who ruled the region for centuries and whose reach extended all the way to the shores of Southeast Asia – we’ll journey off-the-beaten-track as we discover the treasures and wonders of the region.

Organic & Vegan Séjour

Home to vast plains scattered with paddy fields, small villages, and ornate temples, wild jungles, wild elephants, and misty mountains, as well as bustling metropolises flourishing with skyscrapers that rise up next to surviving relics of ancient history – South India is a true melting pot of civilizations.

Tour Highlights

  1. Vegan meals & Vegan Cooking Class (South India snacks class)
  2. Live Traditional Music and Folk Dances
  3. Hike & Learn About Life in the Tea Plantations of the Hill Country of Coonoor
  4. Yoga Lessons
  5. Hike & Learn about life in the Countryside of the Chettinad Heartland
  6. Explore the Ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brihadeeswarar Temple


Chennai – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry – Neduncherry – Tanjore – Kadiapatti – Coonoor – Masinagudi – Mudumalai – Coimbatore – Chennai

Day 01: Arrive in Chennai
The first stop on your South India tour is Chennai, the thriving capital of the Southern state of Tamil Nadu and a rich storehouse of Southern culture and tradition. On arrival at Chennai International Airport you will be met our driver and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon you will embark upon a discovery tour of Chennai. Highlights of the tour include the ancient Shiva temple of Kapaleeshwarar, Fort St. George and Santhome Basilica, which is said to have been built over the tomb of Thomas the Apostle. Traditional Tamil Lunch (specially veganized just for us). End the day with a visit to Marina beach, a 13km stretch of sand and sea. It is a popular hangout spot for the locals and is perfect for an evening promenade. Meet up with local vegans for a delicious vegan dinner of the fusion classics of Chennai – all specially veganized just for us.
Day 02: Chennai - Mahabalipuram (60 kms – 01 hr)
Vegan breakfast feast of traditional Chennai dishes. This 7th-century erstwhile port city of Mahabalipuram is famous for its historical stone carvings and rock-cut shore temples. Stop at the Shore Temple, Arjuna’s Penance, Krishna's Butterball, and the Five Rathas. Vegan lunch with a local Family. Don't forget to leave time to enjoy the stunning views of the town and the sea from the lighthouse on the hill. A cooking demonstration and vegan dinner in restaurant by the beach.
Day 03: Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry (110 kms – 02 hrs)
Vegan breakfast feast of traditional dishes. Our journey takes us along the scenic Coromandel Coast. As we move further, you’ll start getting a taste of how South India has been for centuries – with small, peaceful villages, swaying palm trees, salt pans and sleepy backwaters hugging the coast. Journeying down the East Coast Road – or ECR as it is known locally, we’ll make our way to the magnificent monuments of Mahab’s whose history and stunning stone sculptures date back well over a millennium before settling down for the next three days in the charming old French enclave of Pondi – as the local still calls it, which comes from Pondicherry – but is now called Puducherry – which means “New Town”. Boasting beautiful old French architecture, colonial-era houses, sweeping promenades, quaint cafés and bakeries, classic cathedrals, and aging canals. Vegan lunch will be organized with fusion of French and local delicacies in a local French restaurant. we will take in the town’s winding streets and narrow lanes seeing it from a local’s point of view before joining our friends who will teach us all about South India’s extraordinary classical dance form. Bharatanatyam, as this extraordinary classical dance form is now called, originated in Tamil Nadu well over a millennia ago. After our dance workshop, we’ll join our friends for a traditional home-cooked vegan dinner.
Day 04: Pondicherry
Traditional Yoga Lesson – learning and practicing yoga in its birthplace, India So to start the day, after yoga and breakfast, we’ll make our way out to the local market to begin our cultural culinary experience where we’ll learn how to cook a full course delightfully delicious South Indian meal. After filling our minds and bellies, we’ll make our way back to our villas where you’ll have some time free to freshen up and relax. Explore the local fruit, veggies, and spices market and learn about the different ingredients commonly used in South Indian dishes. Followed by South Indian dishes cooking class where we’ll learn to make a delicious vegan banana leaf meal. In the early evening, we’ll set out off-the-beaten-track into the countryside to witness the very important but unfortunately dying social art of village street theater with our friend Srini and his troupe.   As the moon rises over the South India countryside, we’ll sit down with the street theater’s troupe, Srini, and his family, back at his home to enjoy a tasty traditional dinner together specially veganized for us.
Day 05: Pondicherry – Neduncheri (150 kms – 04 hrs)
Vegan breakfast and bidding adieu to the historical town, we’ll head out well off-the-beaten-track on the back of rural South India to a small village located among the paddy fields, farms, and rural temples of Tamil Nadu. Making our way down the coast, before reaching our home for the next two days, we’ll visit an ancient temple where we’ll learn about the stunning elements of a Dravidian temple design. From the gorgeous gopurams to finely carved pillars, marvelous mandapams, and temple tanks. Then we’ll continue further south following the Coromandel Coast before heading inland to our home for the next two days, a renovated landlord’s bungalow. We’ll spend our time here learning about local customs, culture, cuisines, and way of life in rural South India. Sitting down for a delicious banana leaf lunch, we’ll learn about the intricacies behind eating this most traditional of South India meals. Dhotis & Dosas – learn about the unique dhoti attire and culture of Tamil Nadu including how to properly wear and tie it; and part 1 of the 2 part dosa-making lesson. As the sun sets on the horizon, we’ll settle down for refreshing drinks and a tasty dinner under the stars. Cultural Culinary Experience – Introduction to Eating Etiquette of South India where we’ll learn how to properly eat a banana leaf meal following local eating customs and etiquette.
Day 06: Neduncheri
After a traditional breakfast overlooking the village and farms, we’ll set out on “traditional” bicycles into the surrounding countryside. Peddling our way through rice paddies, passing local Ayyanar deity temple unique to the Tamil people, a potter’s village, farms, fields, and cool countryside – we’ll learn about the unique way of life in rural Tamil Nadu. In the early afternoon, we’ll take a breather from our bikes and settle down with a local family at their home for a tasty lunch of fresh local delicacies. After lunch, we’ll return to our bungalow for today’s cultural culinary experience, where we learn to make the staple rice-based dishes of the South – delicious dosa, fluffy idly, and uttapam. As the sun sets over the paddies, we’ll make our way to one of the region’s most sacred temples to learn about their auspicious aarti (Hindu worship ritual) ceremonies. After, we’ll return to the village for a colorful evening of Tamil folk music, dance, drinks, and dinner under the stars.
Day 07: Neduncheri (100 kms – 03 hrs) Tanjore (90 kms – 02 hrs) Kadiapatti
Traditional vegan breakfast, starting early, we’ll head further inland across the plains and farmlands of Tamil Nadu making our way into the heart and soul of Chettinad, the legendary land of the Chettiars! On our way will have stop-over at Tanjore to visit Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Brihadeeswarar Temple and learn about the rich history of this larger-than-life temple and the kingdom that built it. Further continue our journey to a very prosperous merchant community, the Chettiars were vital in the wealth and business affairs of South India as far back as the reign of the Chola Empire.  Their rich heritage, history, and culture are more than evident in their ornate temples and palatial palaces – magnificent mansions with grand halls, pillared courtyards, sweeping verandahs, and gorgeous tiles, which they have become famous for. Settling down in the evening for our introduction to the famous, albeit a bit spicy, cuisine of Chettinad!
Day 08: Kadiapatti
What a better way to start the day than with the sweet smells and tastes of piping hot fresh appam, idiyappam, and paniyaram – during our cooking demonstration this morning we’ll learn how these tasty breakfast treats are made – and of course, eat them too! Then we’ll head out into the countryside where we’ll explore some stunning ancient ruins set around a large stone hill, forest and farm fields, a really cool Jain cave, and a formidable fort. Hike through peaceful picturesque villages that seem lost in time as we get well off-the-beaten-track in Chettinad and its surroundings. We’ll also have a tasty picnic lunch just outside of a small village set amongst some centuries-old ruins. Returning in the late afternoon, you’ll have time to relax and freshen up with a swim in the pool before we meet for a delicious dinner of local, albeit a little spicy again, Chettinad delicacies!
Day 09: Kadiapatti – Coonoor (340 kms – 07 to 08 hrs)
On our journey today you’ll see the terrain change quite a bit, especially as we head up into the Nilgiri. Be ready for some spectacular views and be on the lookout for wildlife – especially monkeys, deer, and bison! Part of the Western Ghats, the Nilgiri is also known as the “Blue Mountains” (in Tamil, “Neelam” means blue, and “Giri” means mountain or hill). The Nilgiri is also home to a rich and diverse biosphere made up of both moist evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, tropical thorn forests, savannah woodlands, and grasslands among others, and a wide variety of wildlife including roughly 350 species of birds, 100 species of mammals, 31 species of amphibians, 60 species of reptiles and 39 species of fish. Arriving in the old town of Coonoor, our home here will be in a charming 19th-century bungalow complete with high ceilings, wood flooring, and a fireplace – which believe it or not, comes in handy for the town’s cool climate. Special candlelight dinner, in the theme of Connoor’s history, we’ll enjoy a fusion of South Indian and European-influenced dishes.
Day 10: Coonoor
With cool mountain breezes brushing past the tree-lined hillside of our bungalow, after breakfast, we’ll meet up with our close friend, a longtime local resident who will introduce us to the people, culture, traditions, and way of life in the Nilgiri. Then, we’ll head out on foot into the hills, valleys, and ravines of Coonoor’s beautiful countryside. During our hike today we’ll focus on learning about the people whose livelihood revolves around the area’s many tea plantations and agriculture. On our trek, be on the lookout for the mountain’s famous, if not a little bit notorious, wild bison – yes bison, which tend to make themselves quite at home among the tea plant-laden hillside slopes. During our trek, we’ll also be guests of a local community education program where we’ll deliver the supplies we have put together and join in some activities the teacher and students have planned for us. As the sun sets over the mountain peaks, we’ll settle down around the fire for a tasty dinner of local fusion delicacies!
Day 11: Coonoor – Masinagudi ( 70 kms – 03 hrs)
After a fusion breakfast of local vegan favorites, we’ll set out by van and by foot up into the Blue Mountains to learn about the people who settled the Nilgiri well before the British arrived. The original people of the mountains have been here for centuries, and some of the tribes can trace their roots in the Blue Mountains back thousands and thousands of years. One tribe, the Toda, believes their people have called the Nilgiri their home since the beginning of time. It is estimated that 28% of the population here belongs to Scheduled Castes or Schedule Tribes. Then we’ll say goodbye to “the hills” as we meet our jeeps and journey down from the peaks to the plains and the wilds of Mudumalai! Part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, the protected forests and plains in and immediately around Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary stretch over 321 square kilometers. In the late afternoon, we will arrive at our forest bungalow – in the heart of the jungle on the edge of this truly epic national park! Festive farewell dinner around the campfire under the shadow of the Blue Mountains on our last evening in South India together.
Day 12: Masinagudi (130 kms- 04½hrs) Coimbatore (Flight) Chennai
For early risers, check out the “lookout” a short distance from our bungalows. After breakfast, we’ll board our vehicles, say goodbye to Masinagudi, and make our way on a scenic journey passing protected forests and small villages over the Nilgiri to Coimbatore where we’ll catch our flight to Chennai on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. We’ll be having lunch at a local family’s home before boarding the plane.
  • Best Season: September – April

The highlights of this trip


Adventure is complete without a little eating (okay, a lot of eating), and this adventure is definitely no different – as we love South Indian food! South India is home to some of the tastiest vegan cuisine found on the subcontinent! This includes a definite cultural contribution to the world of culinary arts – the delectable dosa! Southern food is not just about dosas, and as any South Indian foodie will tell you – there’s nothing quite like a tasty banana leaf meal. With a mound of rice in the middle of a fresh banana leaf, local veggies, dhal, spicy rasam, papad, and pickles are piled up in front of you. Banana leaf meals are usually an all-you-can-eat endeavor – so be ready to eat!


This quaint little town is famous for its majestic houses built in typical Chettinad style of architecture and authentic Chettinad cuisine. Built in the early 20th century by wealthy merchant families, the huge Chettinad mansions are adorned with intricately carved doors that resemble the gateways of the Hindu temples in South India. The most attractive building is the 115-year-old Chettinad Palace, which is frequented by visitors for its imposing architecture and opulent interiors. 

Tea Estates

A vast variety of wildflowers and birds can be found here. The main attraction is the tea estates that can be found in abundance. The hill station presents the perfect opportunity for adventure activities as well, there are plenty of hiking and trekking trails as well as camping sites. Coonoor is situated at an elevation of about 200 ft and other nearby places of interest include Lambs Rock, Lady Cannings Seat, Dolphins Nose, St. Catherine Falls, Sim’s Park. A toy train connects Coonoor to other nearby stations and makes for an enjoyable ride.

  • Cultural 90% 90%
  • Landscape 85% 85%
  • Cuisine 95% 95%
  • Art & Architect 80% 80%

What a fantastic trip!

“What a fantastic trip! It was unlike any other trip we’ve experienced. We had the opportunity to learn from and interact with people that we would never have the opportunity to meet, and it’s given us a taste for more adventurous and more rewarding travel. We can’t thank ITP team enough for all the hard work and long hours you clearly put into making your tours so rewarding!”

John Dean – New York, USA

It’s not a typical “tour” in any other way..

“ITP is the absolute best. I am overwhelmed by the amazing memories and stories shared. While it’s a “tour” in the traditional sense of lots of sightseeing, lots of informations, lots of food – it’s not a typical “tour” in any other way. Truly the most unique and amazing experience that is a credit to the amazing hosts, and you feel more like a much-loved and much-welcomed guest than you do a tourist.”

Marjorie Gard – California, USA.

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