Exquisite Temples and Tropical Landscapes


South India is simply dazzling, with its spice ports, colonial towns, and magnificent temples nestled in a lush tropical landscape. Our hand-crafted journey delves deeply into this colorful realm as we watch an ancient dance-drama performance, explore by houseboat on tranquil Kerala waterways, and discover Tamil Nadu’s sacred architecture, where carved temples soar high above palm forests. Along the way, we savor legendary cuisine, from coconut-infused fish curries to tangy rasam.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2

In Cochin, with its stunning location along the Arabian Sea, our walks reveal the legacies of its European past, from British mansions and Dutch cottages to a 16th century synagogue.

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Days 3-7
Kerala Houseboats / Periyar / Madurai

As we glide by deluxe private houseboat, Kerala’s picturesque rural scenes are all around us. Our journey on waterways through this quiet region reveals the life of people working their fields with water buffaloes and fishing with nets from traditional longboats. We may even see some school boats (no school buses here). After heading through tea plantations to Periyar in the Cardamom Hills, we continue to Madurai. The vast, fortress-like Shri Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar temple dominates this city, and we immerse ourselves in the fascinating temple scene, with its Shaivite priests and ongoing weddings.

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Days 8-10
Karaikudi / Thanjavur / Kumbakonam

Crossing a green landscape of rice paddies and coconut palms, we discover Chettinard mansions and ancient temples in wayside villages. Bustling Karaikudi, with its antique shops, and famed Thanjavur, a center for art and music, are wonderful highlights. On Day 10, we explore, Kumbakonam, the main commercial area for the Thanjavur region and home of the 17th century Kubareshwara Temple, which towers over the town.

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Days 11-14
Pondicherry / Mamallapuram / Chennai

In Pondicherry, the former capital of French India, we walk the lanes of the French Quarter. From our beach resort, we marvel at Mamallapuram’s rock-cut temples by the sea and visit an open-air museum of traditional Tamil culture. Depart on Day 14.

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Ancient trading port of Cochin on the Arabian Sea
Private houseboat with an on-board chef
Madurai’s colossal temple, French colonial Pondicherry by the sea
South India’s savory cuisine, from curries to dosas


Length: 14 days
Cost From: $8495  
Arrive: Cochin, India
Depart: Chennai (Madras), India
Lodging: 12 nights first-class hotels, 1 night aboard private houseboat
Meals: All meals included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Overland travel with walking tours, cultural explorations

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