Treasures of South India

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, Jan 8- 9, 2024

In Kochi (formerly 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.

Brunton Boatyard
Kochi, India
Days 1 to 2 (2 nights)
Days 3-7, Jan 10-14, 2024
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.

Traditional Houseboat
Alleppey, India
Day 3 (1 night)
Spice Village Hotel
Periyar, India
Days 4 to 5 (2 nights)
Gateway Hotel Pasumalai
Madurai, India
Days 6 to 7 (2 nights)
Days 8-10, Jan 15-17, 2024
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.

Bangala Hotel
Karaikudi, India
Day 8 (1 night)
Mantra Koodam
Kumbakonam, India
Days 9 to 10 (2 nights)
Days 11-14, Jan 18-21, 2024
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.

Palais de Mahe
Pondicherry, India
Day 11 (1 night)
Grand Hotel d'Europe
Pondicherry, India
Day 11 (1 night)
Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay
Mamallapuram, India
Days 12 to 13 (2 nights)



Ancient trading port of Kochi 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: $8895  
Arrive: Kochi, India
Depart: Chennai (Madras), India
Lodging: 12 nights first-class hotels, 1 night aboard private houseboat
Meals: All meals included as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Overland travel with walking tours, cultural explorations

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