Arrive Chennai. On arrival in Chennai you’ll be met and assisted with the transfer to your hotel. Stay at your hotel for 02 nights.
Today morning enjoy a sightseeing tour of Chennai including the historic Fort St George, St. Mary’s Cathedral, San Thome Basilica and the Kapaleeshwara Temple. Later proceed to Saravana Bhavan the famous Vegetarian restaurant for the opportunity to sample a traditional Thali meal. This is the staple lunch of the vast majority of the population of Tamil Nadu and consists of a large selection of gravies, chutneys and condiments served with mountains of rice and an array of breads and rice-flour concoctions. Overnight at the hotel.
Today you travel to the sacred temple city of Kanchipuram, before driving to the beachside town of Mahabalipuram. Stay at your beach resort for the night. Evening visit Five Rathas, Arjuna’s Penance and the famous Shore Temple.
After breakfast drive Southwards to the Former French Colony of Pondicherry. Stay at your hotel in Pondicherry for the night. In the afternoon you will have time to explore the French Quarter on foot and later spend some time in the Tamil Quarter which is far more ‘Indian’ in feel and home to some superb shops and boutiques.
Today’s drive will take you away from the India's eastern coast and inland to Tanjore via Darasuram, home of the UNESCO World Heritage Airavetisvara Temple. In Tanjore you visit the Brihadeeshwara Temple complex, its 62m high tower is the highest in India and the Bronze Museum. Later proceed to Chettinadu. Stay at your hotel for 02 nights. Chettinadu is well known for its Chettinadu cuisine, Mansions, and Temples. This will be your base for the next 2 days with plenty of time to explore the villages, observe the local craft of tile making, visit the markets and even join in cooking a meal or two.
Plenty of options for the day including a bullock cart ride around the village. You may like to have your future predicted by the rather unusual method known as ‘parrot astrology’ in which a specially trained parrot selects a card from a Tarot-like deck and this is then interpreted by the fortune teller. The unique cuisine of Chettinad is a major focus for visitors here- richer and including more meat than most Tamil food, the Chettinad style is famous throughout India with many restaurants the length of the country offering Chettinad dishes.
Today you drive to the town of Madurai which is home to some fine examples of Dravidian architecture and in particular the stunning Meenakshi Temple complex with its vast colourfully carved gopuram (towers). Thiru Malai Nayak Palace, actually designed by an Italian architect, makes for an interesting visit, along with the Puthu Mandapam and Pillared Hall (which now houses a Museum of Temple Art.) This evening enjoy an atmospheric tour of the Meenakshi temple complex. Overnight at the hotel.
Leaving the plains around Madurai you drive southwards to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Cardamom Hills. Stay at your resort for 2 nights. Evening enjoy a spice garden visit to learn more about the spices grown in this region and later enjoy an elephant ride in the plantation. Late evening learn to cook with spices at the evening cookery classes at your resort. The focus is on Kerala cuisine, with the accent being on (of course) the effective use of spices.
Morning at leisure or take a stroll through the town of Kumily to buy fresh Spices. Afternoon enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Periyar to spot herds of Wild Elephants, Bisons, Sambar Deers, Nilgir Langurs, Malabar Giant Squirrels and variety of species of birds. Ovenring at the hotel.
Today you drive down the hills visiting a Tea Factory enroute towards the Keralan midlands to Kanjirappally. Here lies the Manjappally Plantation Bungalow, and is perfect stop over when you drive down the hills. Sample the best of authentic Kerala cooking, as made in traditional Syrian Christian homes. Lunch will be served on the large front lawn. Savour the flavours of estate life clustered around tables in little groups of 4 or 5, under a large mango tree, surrounded by birdsong, gentle breeze and friendly conversation.After lunch descend from the hills to Kumarakom. You will be transferred by motor boat to your resort. Stay at your backwater for the night.
Morning at leisure.
Afternoon you board your houseboat (possibly a converted rice barge) from the resort boat jetty for an overnight cruise to Alleppey, through the famous Vembanad Lake. Each houseboat has a driver and a cook, who’ll prepare delicious Keralan meals, with some fresh ingredients likely to be purchased during the cruise. Overnight on board the houseboat.
After a leisurely breakfast disembark at Alleppey Boat Jetty. You will be met by the driver and proceed to Mararikulam ; a quaint little fishing village. Stay at your beach resort for 2 nights. Later in the evening enjoy a Sea Food Speciality Dinner at the resorts Sea Food Restaurant.
Full day at leisure to relax by the beach or to experience some authentic ayurvedic therapies at the resorts Ayurveda Spa.
Today morning proceed northwards to Cochin enroute visiting Kumbalanghi Model Tourism Village to experience the fishermen village activities like live fish catching, Crab farm, coir making etc. Later enjoy a home cooked lunch by the side of backwaters.After lunch proceed to Cochin. Stay at your hotel for 02 nights. In the evening visit the fish market and later proceed to the house of a traditional Syrian Christian family. Enjoy a traditional "Sadhya" served on a banana leaf, an extensive meal usually served at weddings and other festivals. The host will explain the traditions and history behind the dishes.
Afternoon you’ll explore a sightseeing tour of Fort Cochin & Mattancherry. You could visit the local fish market, Chinese Fishing Nets and the St. Francis Church in Fort Cochin. Later proceed to Mattancherry to see the Dutch Palace and the Jewish Synagogue. After noon at leisure to take a stroll through the Jew Street to hunt for handlooms, ethnic wears, spices and antiques. In the evening witness Kathakali dance performance. Accompanied by a gong, drums and cymbals, Kathakali performers combine dance and theatre in a ritualistic portrayal of gods and demons.
In goodtime you will be transferred to Cochin International Airport to connect your flight home.