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The Plaza Grande in Quito is absolutely fabulous, the Royal Palm in the Galapagos is the best hotel we ever stayed in; the chef is outstanding, his meals are some of the best we ever had. Did you know that Prince Charles stayed there when he visited the islands? We are sure that the service we received was just as good as his. We had a marvelous time in the Galapagos and it was living a dream.
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Splendours of Southern India

In this unparalleled voyage through Southern India, you will appreciate not only the ancient monuments and diverse history of India but also gain an insight into the natural beauty and wildlife, including the tigers and elephants of Kerala. The tour includes a visit to the three states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, with an appreciation of the temples & monuments of Tamil Nadu and the intriguing French connection in Pondicherry. Best months to travel are from October - May avoiding the monsoon season.
16 days/ 15 nightsBangalore - Mysore - Ooty - Cochin - Alleppey - Kumarakom - Thekkady - Madurai - Tanjore - Pondicherry - Chennai

ITINERARY
Day 1. Bangalore
Arrival at Bangalore Airport, reception and transfer to your hotel for 1 night stay.
Bangalore often referred to as the 'Garden City' is known for its numerous parks and avenues. Afternoon, sightseeing tour of Bangalore including Tipu Sultan's Palace, Bull Temple, Lalbagh Gardens, Cubbon Park & Museum and Vidhana Soudha -which houses both the State Legislature and Secretariat. Overnight stay at Bangalore.

Day 2. Bangalore - Mysore (B)
After breakfast, drive to Mysore. The capital of a former princely state, Mysore is a city of palaces and gardens and is famous for its silk, sandalwood and jasmine. En route, visit the Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan, Srirangapatnam and the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. On arrival, check into the hotel for 2 nights. Evening free to explore the colourful bazaars. Overnight stay at Mysore.

Day 3. Mysore (B)
Today, a morning city tour including Mysore Maharaja's Palace, which is one of the largest in India. Later, you will visit the Nandi Bull and Chamundi Hills. The rest of the day is free to relax. Overnight stay at Mysore.

Day 4. Mysore - Ooty (B)
After breakfast, proceed to Ooty, referred to as the 'Queen of Blue Mountains' and located at a height of 2286 m. On arrival, check into the hotel for 1 night stay. In the afternoon, a visit to the Botanical Gardens, Lake Doddabetta, Mukurti Peak and tea plantations. Overnight stay at Ooty.

Day 5. Ooty - Cochin (B)
This morning, you can opt for a toy train ride through the hills. Drive to Cochin and on arrival, check into your hotel for 2 nights' stay. Cochin, the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea' has one of the finest natural harbours in the world. The ancient churches, palaces and synagogues in this city are a delight to visit. In the evening, a motorboat cruise to watch the sunset and the Chinese fishing nets. Overnight stay at Cochin.

Day 6. Cochin (B)
After breakfast, you embark on a half-day sightseeing tour of Cochin covering the Dutch Palace (closed on Fridays), which was built by the Portuguese in 1555 and was presented to the Raja of Cochin as a gesture of goodwill. The Jewish Synagogue (closed on Fridays & Saturdays) was originally constructed in 1568, but was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662.This was rebuilt two years later when the Dutch took over Cochin. The St. Francis Church, said to be India's oldest European-built church was constructed in 1503. Having died in Cochin in 1524, Vasco da Gama was buried here for 14 years before his remains were taken to Lisbon.
Afternoon at leisure. Late evening, drive to the Cultural Centre to enjoy the Kathakali dance show. Overnight stay at Cochin.

Day 7. Cochin - Alleppey (B, L & D)
After breakfast, drive to Alleppey where you will check into a Houseboat at 1200 hrs for a night cruise towards Kumarakom. Alleppey has a large network of canals and is the centre for backwater cruises in the state.
During the cruise, you can stop for short walks through the nearby villages, enjoying local life. Meals will be served on board. Overnight stay in Houseboat.

Day 8. Alleppey - Kumarakom (B)
Arrive at Kumarakom around 0930 hrs after a relaxing breakfast on board. Check into the local resort for 1 night stay. Rest of the day at leisure. You can opt for an Ayurvedic Full Body Massage at the resort. Overnight stay at Kumarakom.

Day 9. Kumarakom - Thekkady (B)
Early morning, you can opt to visit the nearby bird sanctuary. After breakfast, drive to Thekkady, the land of unending chains of hills and spice scented plantations. It houses the famous wildlife sanctuary in South India and has also been declared as a Tiger Reserve. On arrival, check into the hotel for 2 nights' stay. Afternoon, visit to the spice plantations and the Kumily town. Overnight stay at Thekkady.

Day 10. Thekkady (B)
Today you will go for a trek through the Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary which was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River adds to the charm of the park. The greatest attraction of Periyar are the herds of wild elephants that come down to play in the lake. Reserve. Opportunity to go for an elephant ride.
In the evening, you can enjoy boating through Lake Periyar to watch the wildlife. Overnight stay at Thekkady.

Day 11. Thekkady - Madurai (B)
After an early breakfast, drive to Madurai. Known as the temple town of Southern India, Madurai is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu. On arrival, check into the hotel for 1 night stay. Afternoon, for sightseeing tour of Madurai. Madurai is famous for the Meenakshi Temple, with its towering gopurams and rare sculptures. Other important attractions include Thirumalai Naicker Palace, Koodal Azhagar Temple and the Gandhi Museum. In the evening, a visit to Sri Meenakshi Temple and attend a Pooja ceremony. This Hindu ritual is performed on a variety of occasions to pray or show respect to God, Gods, and guru. The purpose of puja is to communicate with God and the Gods or the satguru (the true teacher) to keep a thread to continuity of the relationship between this physical world and the subtle inner worlds. Overnight stay at Madurai.

Day 12. Madurai - Chettinadu (B)
After breakfast, we will take the two hour drive to Chettinadu, the land of Chettiars - an ancient merchant community renowned in the 19th century as the bankers of Southern India. Of the 78 villages in the Chettinadu region, Karaikudi and Kanadukathan are the largest and some of finest Chettinad Mansions are found here.
In Chettinadu you will visit the Chettinad Palace, the local Chettinad market, where one can witness the local marketing skills of the village folk and view the colourful arrangements of vegetables, fruits, snacks, Chettinad baskets, and other rural produce. After, you shall visit the Athangudi Tiles factory, basket making cooperative units , the sari-weaving centre at Karaikudi and finally to Tirumayam fort.
Check in at Visalam - a heritage home which once belonged to the Chettiars. Overnight stay at Chettinadu.

Day 13. Chettinadu - Trichy- Chettinadu (B)
After breakfast, you will visit Trichy (Tiruchirapalli) and the magnificent rock fort which dominates the city. 437 steps cut out into the rock side which are interspersed with shrines, lead to the Vinayaka Temple built at its highest point. The ascent affords a magnificent view of the sacred Kaveri River. Further below you will see the Tanumanaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. In the afternoon, we shall visit Sriranqam, a huge temple on an island in the Cauvery and dedicated to Lord Ranganathaswamy. The temple has 21 magnificent gopurams and is adorned with exquisite sculptures. Return to Chettinadu. Overnight stay at Chettinadu

Day 14 Chettinadu - Tanjore - Pondicherry (B)
After an early breakfast, drive to Pondicherry. En route, visit Tanjore which was once the capital of the Chola dynasty, that ruled Southern India between the 10th and 14th centuries. Visit the most spectacular Brihadeeswara Temple, capped by a monolithic cupola made of a single granite rock weighing 80 tonnes. The temple itself is decorated with carved panels depicting mythological events. Later, visit Saraswathi Mahal Library and the Art Gallery with its large collection of chola bronzes.
On arrival to Pondicherry, you will check into the hotel. Pondicherry is a charming coastal town with a few enduring pockets of French culture and an ashram. Afternoon to explore the nearby places including the Auroville, Pondicherry Museum and the Botanical Garden. Evening to relax by the beach. Overnight stay at Pondicherry.

Day 15. Pondicherry - Mahabalipuram - Chennai (B)
After breakfast, drive to Chennai. En route, visit Mahabalipuram. Mahabalipuram was once a flourishing port of the Pallavas (an ancient kingdom) of ancient India. The monuments and sculptures here are world-renowned. Visit the Shore Temple, Arjuna's Penance and Artisans Village at Mahabalipuram. Later proceed to Chennai and check into the hotel for your last night. Overnight stay at Chennai

Day 16. Chennai (B)
Morning at leisure. Afternoon transfer to Chennai Airport for your return flight home.

ITINERARY OVERVIEW
16 days/ 15 nights
Day 1. Bangalore
Day 2. Bangalore - Mysore (B)
Day 3. Mysore (B)
Day 4. Mysore - Ooty (B)
Day 5. Ooty - Cochin (B)
Day 6. Cochin (B)
Day 7. Cochin - Alleppey (B, L & D)
Day 8. Alleppey - Kumarakom (B)
Day 9. Kumarakom - Thekkady (B)
Day 10. Thekkady (B)
Day 11. Thekkady - Madurai (B)
Day 12. Madurai - Chettinadu (B)
Day 13. Chettinadu - Trichy- Chettinadu (B)
Day 14 Chettinadu - Tanjore - Pondicherry (B)
Day 15. Pondicherry - Mahabalipuram - Chennai (B)
Day 16. Chennai (B)
PRICE
WHAT IS INCLUDED / NOT INCLUDED
Our price Includes:
The price includes international return flights from London in economy class, accommodation in the very best hotels in each region including 5 star deluxe hotels, deluxe beach resort and beautiful boutique hotels, all tours and transfers in private Mercedes vehicle with an English speaking guide, local English speaking guide for each destination, meals as indicated in the itinerary, full board on the houseboat and all taxes.
Our price does not include:
Meals not specified, camera/video fees if applicable, airport tax and travel insurance are not included. Business class and First class air ticket quotes provided upon request.
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