SOUTHERN SPICES OF INDIA

20% off for the 2nd person when booked as a party of two. Discount deadline is April 30, 2017 (*on selected dates)

Cultural tour of India

India is many times rightfully referred to as a subcontinent. On this tour we travel from Chennai to Kerala, explore the beautiful Backwaters and beaches of the Arabian Sea and visit the magnificent temple cities and heritage sites of Tamil Nadu. India features many different geographical regions where diverse civilizations and cultures flourished. At Bestway Tours & Safaris we have developed several tours that focus on India’s regions. Combine these tours and gain in-depth knowledge of this vast subcontinent.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites covered in this tour
1. Great Living Chola Temples
2. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram
3. Western Ghats

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Tour Information
Tour Duration : 16 days
Min. Tour Size : 02 persons
Max. Tour Size : 15 persons
Includes international air
Tour Price (from) : US$
Day 01: Arrive Chennai (Flight)
Day 02: Chennai
(B)
Day 03: Chennai/Mahablipuram/Pondicherry (Drive)
(B)
Day 04: Pondicherry/Tanjore (Drive)
(B)
Day 05: Tanjore/Trichy/Madurai (Drive)
(B)
Day 06: Madurai
(B)
Day 07: Madurai/Thekkady (Drive)
(B)
Day 08: Thekkady/Munnar (Drive)
(B)
Day 09: Munnar
(B)
Day 10: Munnar/Kochi (Drive)
(B)
Day 11: Kochi
(B)
Day 12: Kochi/Alleppey (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 13: Alleppey/Kovalam (Drive)
(B)
Day 14: Kovalam
(B)
Day 15: Kovalam
(B)
Day 16: Kovalam/Trivandrum/Onward destination (Flight)
(B)
Better still, why not join our Srilanka-Jewel of the Indian Ocean cultural tour!
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Day 01: Arrive Chennai (Flight)

Arrival. Namaste! We are warmly welcomed the traditional Indian way with hands clapped together at the airport and transferred to our hotel. The remainder of the day is free to relax.
Overnight: Hotel in Chennai (2 Nights)

Day 02: Chennai

After breakfast we start city tour in Chennai, visiting the National Art Gallery & Museum, which contains some of the best collections of bronzes in the country including the famous icon of Natraja. We continue to India's oldest surviving British church, St. Mary's Church, built in 1680. We end our tour with a visit to People’s Park and the beautiful Marina Beach and the clock towers. The remainder of the day is free for personal activities. (B)

Day 03: Chennai/Mahablipuram/Pondicherry (Drive)

After breakfast we drive to Mahabalipuram. On arrival we check in at our hotel. In the afternoon we visit the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram*. This group of sanctuaries, founded by the Pallava kings, was carved out of rock along the Coromandel Coast in the 7th and 8th centuries. It is known especially for its rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries), giant open-air reliefs such as the famous 'Descent of the Ganges', and the temple of Rivage, with thousands of sculptures to the glory of Shiva. We drive to Pondicherry and check in at our hotel. This former French Colonial city in Tamil Nadu didn’t come under Indian rule until 1954. Pondicherry, otherwise known as Puducherry means a “New Hamlet” and is located on the Coromandel Coast. Its main attraction is actually outside of town: The Ashram at Auroville, built by followers of Sri Aurobindo, a philosopher-prophet born in 1870, famous for his Integral Yoga and philosophical literary works. In the International Town where people from all over the world reside. Here we will see the Matrimandir, the famous monument built by the Auroville Society representing a lotus flower. We will also visit the 400-year old Manakula Vinayagar Temple, which features several frescos telling the life story of Ganesha, one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. The most recurrent motif in these stories is that Ganesha was created by Parvati using clay to protect her and Shiva beheaded him when Ganesha came between Shiva and Parvati. Shiva then replaced Ganesha's original head with that of an elephant.
Overnight: Hotel in Pondicherry (1 Night) (B)

Day 04: Pondicherry/Tanjore (Drive)

After breakfast we drive to Thanjavur, also known as Tanjore, where we check in to our hotel. In the afternoon we explore the Brihadisvara Temple, one of the Great Living Chola Temples*. The great Cholas established a powerful monarchy in the 9th century. They enjoyed a long, eventful rule lasting for four and a half centuries with great achievements in all fields of royal endeavor, such as military conquest, efficient administration, cultural assimilation and promotion of art. The Brihadisvara temple marks the greatest achievement of the Chola architects and is set in spacious grounds, featuring a circumambulatory path all around the sanctum housing a massive linga.  The temple walls are embellished with expansive and exquisite mural paintings, as well as fine bas-reliefs. Inscriptions record the names of dancers, musicians and poets a reminder of the significance of this area to the development of the arts in the 11th century. The tradition of temple worship and rituals established and practiced over a thousand years ago, based on still older Agamic texts, continues to this day and is an inseparable part of life of the people. We then visit the Tanjore Palace & Museum, which features an eclectic collection of regal memorabilia, most of which dates to the early 19th century.
Overnight: Hotel in Tanjore (1 Night) (B)

Day 05: Tanjore/Trichy/Madurai (Drive)

After breakfast we drive to Tiruchirapalli or Trichy, as it is commonly known. Tiruchirappalli's recorded history begins in the 3rd century BC, when it was under the rule of the Cholas. The city features a number of exquisitely sculpted temples and fortresses built in the Dravidian style of architecture. We begin our tour with a visit to the Rock Fort Temple, consists of a set of monolithic rocks accommodating many rock-cut cave temples. The temple complex has three shrines. We then explore the maze of the Mathurubhuteshwar Shrine and various other local temples, followed by a visit to some local villages to observe rural life in Southern India. After our visit we drive to Madurai and check in to our hotel.
Overnight: Hotel in Madurai (2 Nights) (B)

Day 06: Madurai

Today we explore Madurai. The city revolves around the Meenakshi Amman Temple, which forms the heart and lifeline of the 2,500-year-old city and is a significant symbol for the Tamil people. The temple complex is divided into a number of concentric quadrangular enclosures contained by high masonry walls, featuring four entrances facing four directions. Though the present structure was built between 1623 and 1655, the temple dates to the 6th century BC. Built in the Dravidian style of architecture, the complex houses 14 gopurams (gateway towers) ranging from 45-50 meters (135-150 ft.) in height. Each gopuram is a multi-storeyed structure, covered with thousands of stone figures of animals, gods and demons painted in bright colours. The outer gopuram presents steeply pyramidal tower encrusted with plaster figures, while the inner gopuram serves as the entrance to the sanctuary. The temple features two golden sculptured shrines over sanctum of the main deities and houses some 33,000 sculptures. An absolute highlight is the Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam (Hall of a Thousand Pillars), featuring two rows of pillars carved with images of yali, a mythological beast with body of lion and head of an elephant. The Hall of a Thousand Pillars actually contains 985 carved pillars. There are close to 50 priests in the temple who perform the puja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis, allowing us to witness various ceremonies first hand. (B)

Day 07: Madurai/Thekkady (Drive)

Today we drive through the Western Ghats*, internationally recognized as a region of immense global importance for the conservation of biological diversity to Thekkady and check in to our hotel. The area is famous for its spice plantations. In the afternoon we visit a spice plantation, where cardamom, pepper, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, all spice, and tea are grown. We will also see Ayurvedic medicinal plants and get the opportunity to buy some garden fresh spices. Afterwards we enjoy a boat ride on Lake Periyar, to watch animals in their natural habitat by the water's edge. We are likely to see animals like boars, sambars, wild dogs, langur monkeys and wild elephants. The sanctuary is also a haven for water birds, such as darters, grey herons, egrets and kingfishers. The evening is free to explore the local bazaar in Thekkady and purchase some of the famous spices grown in the area.
Overnight: Hotel in Thekkady (1 Night) (B)

Day 08: Thekkady/Munnar (Drive)

In the early morning we take a jungle walk at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the world’s most fascinating natural wildlife reserves, which was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. After our jungle walk we return to our hotel for breakfast. After breakfast we drive to Munnar, a beautiful hill station located in the Western Ghats* range of mountains. The name Munnar is believed to mean ‘three rivers’, referring to its location at the confluence of the Mudhirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers. This hill station was once the summer resort during the British Raj in South India. Upon arrival we check in at to our hotel. The remainder of the day is free to relax.
Overnight: Hotel in Munnar (2 Nights) (B)

Day 09: Munnar

Munnar is famous for its tea plantations, many of them started by the British. We drive through the vast tea plantations of the area and visit the Mattupetty Tea Museum. Afterwards we explore Eravikulam National Park, home to Nilgiri Tahr Gaur, Langur, Lion-tailed macaque and elephants. We visit Echo Point, Kundala, Top Station, Rajamala, Attukad waterfalls and the Pothamedu View Point. (B)

Day 10: Munnar/Kochi (Drive)

Today we drive to Kochi, formerly known as Cochin. A beautiful drive through sprawling tea and spice plantations, picturesque towns gets us from the Western Ghats to the Arabian Sea. Upon arrival in Kochi we check in our hotel. In the evening we get to enjoy a Kathakali Dance Performance, one of the major forms of classical Indian dance. The traditional themes of the Kathakali are folk mythologies, religious legends and spiritual ideas from the Hindu epics, such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas. Of all classical Indian dances, Kathakali has the most elaborate make-up code, head dress, face masks and vividly painted faces. We will be absorbed by the colors, makeup, lighting, acting, dance and sound of the performance.
Overnight: Hotel in Kochi (2 Nights) (B)

Day 11: Kochi

Today we explore Kochi, Kerala’s commercial capital, featuring one of the finest natural harbours in the world. We visit St. Francis Church, the oldest European Church in India. The great explorer Vasco De Gama was buried here before his remains were taken back to Portugal. Next we visit the Roman Catholic Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, a church built originally by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558. We continue to the Jewish Quarter and visit the Old Synagogue, built in 1568 by the Malabar Yehudan community in the Kingdom of Cochin. Cochin Jews are the oldest group of Jews in India, with possible roots claimed to date to the time of King Solomon. Following expulsion from Spain in 1492, a few families of Sephardic Jews eventually made their way to Cochin in the 16th century. They became known as Paradesi Jews (Foreign Jews). We then go to the Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese in the traditional Kerala style of architecture, featuring a courtyard in the middle.  Later we take a boat cruise to visit Bolghatty Palace, one of the oldest existing Dutch palaces outside Holland, built in 1744 by Dutch traders and observe the fascinating Chinese fishing nets (Cheena vala), which are fishing nets that are fixed land installations and hold out immense horizontal nets. (B)

Day 12: Kochi/Alleppey (Drive)

After breakfast we drive to Alleppey, where we board a traditional rice boat, which has been converted to a house boat, and begin our magical journey through Kerala’s picturesque inland waterways, relaxing in the tranquility of the backwaters and lakes, watching the way of life and activities of the locals. A special treat is the authentic and exquisite Kerala cuisine cooked on-board.
Overnight: Air-conditioned Deluxe House Boat (1 Night) (B, L, D)

Day 13: Alleppey/Kovalam (Drive)

After breakfast we disembark and are driven to beautiful Kovalam Beach on the Malabar Coast near Trivandrum. We then get to relax by the beach with endless white sands by the blue waters of the Arabian Sea in secluded coconut groves.
Overnight: Resort in Kovalam (3 nights) (B)

Day 14: Kovalam

We enjoy a visit to Kanyakumari, formerly known as Cape Comorin. It is the southernmost tip of peninsular India, where the waters of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea meet. The oldest and the most ancient landmark here is the temple of Goddess Kumari, who prayed to Lord Shiva to be accepted as wife by him. The name of this place has taken after the name of the Goddess. After our tour we return to our hotel. (B)

Day 15: Kovalam

The day is free to relax on the beach or to take an optional Ayurvedic treatment at our resort. (B)

Day 16: Kovalam/Trivandrum/Onward destination (Flight)

Today we are transferred to Trivandrum International airport for our flight home or another exciting destination. We bid farewell to India after what will have been a memorable journey through nature, history, culture, art and architecture. (B)

Better still, why not join our Srilanka-Jewel of the Indian Ocean cultural tour!

B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Departure Dates
English Speaking Departures (Please contact us for information on French, German, Italian and Spanish speaking departures).

2017

Jan 07; Feb 04; Mar 06; Apr 01; May 06*; Jun 03; Jul 01; Aug 05; Sep 02; Oct 07; Nov 04*; Dec 02

(*) what's this?

Tour Price

We accept payment in US $ (US Dollars), CA $ (Canadian Dollars) or equivalent EURO (for clients outside North America). Bestway Tours & Safaris offers conversion rate protection. Once full payment has been received, and no modification has been made to the tour itinerary, we will honour that rate. For complete payment procedures, please click here

VALIDITY (Jan 01 to Dec 31, 2017 except between Dec 20 to Jan 05)
Hotel Category Per Person on Twin Sharing Single Room Supplement
Option 1 US$ 2750 US$ 1120
Option 2 US$ 3375 US$ 1670

Hotels below or similar for Option 1 & Option 2

City Option 1 Option 2
Chennai
(2 Nights)
Hyatt Regency (5 Star)
Hyatt Guest Room
Taj Coromandel (5 Star Deluxe)
Luxury Room
Pondicherry
(1 Night)
Le Dupleix (Boutique Hotel)
Deluxe Room
Maison Perumal (Boutique Hotel)
Standard Room
Tanjore
(1 Night)
Sangam Hotel (4 Star)
Standard Room
Sangam Hotel (4 Star)
Standard Room
Madurai
(2 Nights)
The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai (5 Star)
Superior Room
The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai (5 Star)
Superior Room
Thekkady
(1 Night)
Cardamom County (4 Star)
Periyar Cottage
Spice Village (Boutique Hotel)
Standard Villa
Munnar
(2 Nights)
Mountain Club Resort (4 Star)
Cottage
Windermere Estate (Boutique Hotel)
Garden Room
Kochi
(2 Nights)
Trident Hotel (5 Star)
Superior Room
Eighth Bastion (Boutique Hotel)
Standard Room
Alleppey
(1 Night)
Deluxe A.C. Houseboat
A.C. Bed Room
Deluxe A.C. Houseboat
A.C. Bed Room
Kovalam
(3 Nights)
Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort (Ayurveda Resort)
Standard Cottage
Vivanta by Taj Green Cove Kovalam (5 Star)
Superior Charm Garden Room

Notes

N/A



Inclusions


Tour Price Includes
  • Accommodation as mentioned or similar, including hotel taxes
  • 17 Meals as mentioned (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All sightseeing and transfers by Private transportation
  • Services of local English speaking guides cum drivers
  • Entrance fees to museums and sites included in the itinerary
  • Spice Plantation Tour at Periyar
  • Jungle walking tour at Thekkady
  • Boat ride at Lake Periyar- Thekkady
  • Harbor cruise- Kochi
  • Kathakali dance performance- Kochi
Not Included
  • International airfares
  • Insurance/visas
  • Tips/gratuities

Estimated International Airfare (International airfare is NOT included in this tour)

CANADA(West Coast)
US$ 1600

USA(West Coast)
US$ 1400

CANADA(East Coast)
US$ 1200

USA(East Coast)
US$ 1000

Participants

This tour operates on a minimum of 02 and a maximum of 15 participants

Customised Itinerary

If you would like to have a tour on dates other than the above ones or with a customised itinerary, please contact us and we will be happy to work out an exclusive program for you.

Contact Info
You may e-mail us at bestway@bestway.com or call 1-604-264-7378. Residents of U.S.A./Canada may call us toll free at 1-800-663-0844.