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Discover Southern India and Kerala

4.3 stars(6 reviews)

Unforgettable Southern India awaits, a land of serene backwaters, ancient temples and fragrant tea plantations.

You are viewing the 2022 itinerary. Select your departure year
16 days From £2,395 per person

2022 Tour code: GCJ22

About the tour

During this unforgettable tour of Southern India, we visit the cities, temples and tea plantations of the Tamil Nadu region before heading to Kerala. Here we explore the captivating city of Kochi, relaxing on Kerala's beaches and cruising through the backwaters of Vambanad Lake.


What’s included


Day 1 - London and Bengaluru

We depart London Heathrow on our overnight flight to Bengaluru, travelling via Dubai.

Day 2 - Mysuru

 Arriving on Day 2, we transfer by coach to Mysuru for two nights.

Day 3 - Mysuru

We enjoy a full-day's guided tour on Day 3, exploring the cultural icons of the city such as St Philomena's Church, a large neo-Gothic cathedral inspired by Cologne Cathedral in Germany, and Mysuru Palace, a beautiful and intricately decorated building that boasts Hindu, Muslim, Gothic and Rajput architectural influences. We continue to Srirangapatna, known for its temples and forts and as the site of a major battle between the British and Tipu Sultan, before pausing for lunch then making our way to the local market of Chamundi Hills. Our last visit is to the unique Bull Temple, which features a gigantic 16-foot granite statue of a bull.

Day 4 - Ooty

We travel to Ooty by coach, where we stay for two nights. Your afternoon is free to explore.

Day 5 - Ooty

Today we visit the Botanical Garden, home to vibrant displays planted in typical English-style terraced beds, and Doddabetta Peak, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and reserve forests. We stop for lunch at a local restaurant before a visit to St Stephen's Church.

Day 6 - Nilgiri Mountain Railway

On Day 6, we travel by toy train to Conoor, enjoying a tour of this enchanting town before visiting a local tea factory. Across the Nilgiris, isolated colonial mansions dot hillside tea plantations, a reminder of the region's main industry. This mountainous area has been producing tea for more than 100 years, in particular a variety known for its distinctively dark colour and strong aroma. We sit down to lunch at a local restaurant before boarding the UNESCO-listed Nilgiri Mountain Railway, one of the world's steepest operational rack-and pinion railways. The steam-hauled service takes us through forest-covered hills to Mettupalayam, where we board a coach to Coimbatore for an overnight stay.

Day 7 - Kochi

Following a free morning, we catch the train to the captivating city of Kochi for two nights. 

Day 8 - Kochi

We explore Kochi with a guided tour on Day 8. Sometimes known as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea', Kochi is a fascinating destination to experience, and our tour includes the St Francis Church in Fort Kochi, one of the earliest European churches and where Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, was originally buried before his body was carried back to Lisbon. We also visit the Dutch Palace - built by the Portuguese in 1555 then renovated and extended by the Dutch in 1663. We get an insight into the daily life of the local people at the local Dhobi Khana, a sprawling open-air laundry where hundreds of clothes are washed every day and hung out to dry, then, this evening, we're treated to a Kathakali dance performance. Kathakali is the traditional dance-drama of Kerala and combines bright colourful costumes and ornate headdresses, with ritualistic dance movements set to a soundtrack of live music played by local musicians.

Day 9 - Kerala and its backwaters

We enjoy a guided tour of the Jewish Synagogue this morning, home to an array of treasures including The Great Scrolls of the Old Testament, before transferring to Alleppey. Here, we board a houseboat, or kettuvallam, for a scenic cruise through Kerala's naturally idyllic backwaters. Constructed using traditional materials, these incredible boats were once used to shuttle goods, including exotic spices and rice, between Cochin and Kuttanad, and could carry up to 30 tonnes of cargo. We begin at Vembanad Lake, the longest lake in India. As we glide serenely through the bewildering maze of canals and channels, we enjoy lunch on board. We disembark at Kumarakom for an overnight stay.

Day 10 - Thekkady

On Day 10, we continue to Thekkady for two nights, where your afternoon is free.

Day 11 - Kerala’s spices

Today's excursion takes us to an aromatic spice plantation, where we enjoy a guided walking tour that helps us uncover the secrets of Southern India's flavoursome spices. This afternoon we head to Lake Periyar, a stunning lake in a large wildlife sanctuary, for a cruise across its peaceful waters.

Day 12 - Madurai

Travelling to Madurai on Day 12 for two nights, we visit a nearby village inhabited by artisans who specialise in sculpting aesthetic idols and puppets out of clay. This evening, we make our way to the Meenakshi Temple where we're invited to watch the 'puja', the Hindu ritual of offering prayers. Each day the priests symbolically bathe, dress and feed an idol of God Shiva, and we witness the final puja of the day as Shiva is put to bed alongside his wife, Goddess Meenakshi, to whom the temple is dedicated.

Day 13 - Madurai

We take a guided tour of Madurai on Day 13 that includes the impressive 17th-century Thirumalai Nayak Pal-ace and the Gandhi Memorial Museum.

Day 14 - Chennai

We take an internal flight to Chennai for the night, formerly known as Madras and a metropolis within the Bay of Bengal. An important port during the colonial era, Chennai's architecture and culture bear pronounced Portuguese, Dutch, French and British influences, while also being rooted in more local traditions. We explore the San Thome Cathedral Basilica, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the Kapaleeshwarar Temple, and the Madras War Cemetery on Marina Beach. We also pay a visit to the city's flower market in George Town, soaking up a myriad of colours and fragrances.

Day 15 - Chennai

There's an optional excursion this morning to Mamallapuram, known for its UNESCO-listed temples. Otherwise, enjoy a free day before we transfer to the airport for our flight, via Dubai, to London Heathrow.

Day 16 - London

We land back in the UK on Day 16.

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Visa requirements
Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Hotel Taj Coromandel, Chennai

Hotel Taj Coromandel, Chennai

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Vivanta Coimbatore, Coimbatore

Vivanta Coimbatore, Coimbatore

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Taj Malabar Resort & Spa, Kochi

Taj Malabar Resort & Spa, Kochi

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Coconut Lagoon

Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom

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The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai, Madurai

The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai, Madurai

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Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Mysore

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Mysore, Mysuru

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Fortune Sullivan Court

Fortune Sullivan Court, Ooty

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Spice Village, Thekkady

Spice Village, Thekkady

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Nilgiri Mountain Railway

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Flight upgrades
London Hotels
UK rail connections

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4.3 stars4.3 / 5 · 6 reviews

  1. 5 stars
  2. 4 stars
  3. 3 stars
  4. 2 stars
  5. 1 star

Mrs P Emmett

5 stars

Submitted 19 Apr 2019

Very well planned itinerary with lots of interesting places and happenings.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr B Whittingham

4 stars

Submitted 18 Apr 2019

A thoroughly enjoyable tour from start to finish

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mrs S Britton

4 stars

Submitted 18 Dec 2018

Very enjoyable but a lot of travelling. Good to great hotels.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr J Edwards

3 stars

Submitted 18 Dec 2018

Too many churches and museums visited, no free time. When it said afternoon free,it did not happen. We loved the hotels and the temple visits. Not terribly keen on our English guide, he was a headmaster und you felt you were on a school trip. He also got easily flustered and a bit bad tempered even though our group was not a difficult one.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Ms A Jardine

5 stars

Submitted 13 Nov 2018

Well organised, friendly and approachable tour manager, knowledgable local guide, great hotels, fabulous food and lots of different locations.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr G Trimmer

5 stars

Submitted 14 Mar 2018

A wonderfully organised experience that we thoroughly enjoyed

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

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Discover Southern India and Kerala

Unforgettable Southern India awaits, a land of serene backwaters, ancient temples and fragrant tea plantations.


Lynne Broadley
Luke Simpson
Rhianna Coote
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