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A World Heritage Sites Tour of India

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

Tour Summary

Arrival Mumbai
03 Mumbai/Kochi
Thekkady / Kumarakom
Alleppey / Kovalam
Kovalam / Kanyakumari / Madurai
12 Madurai / Tanjore
13 Tanjore / Pondicherry
14 Pondicherry / Mahabalipuram / Chennai
15 Chennai
16 Chennai / Mysore
17 Mysore / Srirangapatam / Bangalore
18 Bangalore / Departure

UNESCO World Heritage Sites Visited
This tour has been tailored to include the following World Heritage Sites

World Heritage Sites covered on this tour
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), Mumbai
Elephanta Caves
Great Living Chola Temples
Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram
Detailed Itinerary

Day 01: Mumbai
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: ITC Grand Central (2 Nights)

Day 02: Mumbai
We start our day with a visit to the Gateway of India, Mumbai's most famous monument. Here we embark on our excursion to the Elephanta Caves*, located on an island in the Sea of Oman. The caves contain a collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva. Here, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions, particularly the huge high reliefs in the main cave. We return to Mumbai by motor launch and visit the Prince of Wales Museum  and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus*, formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival Architecture in India, blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture. The building, designed by the British architect F. W. Stevens, became the symbol of Bombay as the ‘Gothic City’ and the major international mercantile port of India. Its remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches and eccentric ground plan are close to traditional Indian palace architecture. Our Next Stop is at Mani Bhawan, where Mahatma Gandhi stayed here during the Freedom Struggle. The house is now converted into a Museum. From here we leave for the Jain Temple and Hanging Gardens, the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence, the bustling Crawford Market and drive past Haji Ali, the tomb of a wealthy Muslim merchant. We end our tour at the Dhobi Ghat, the world's largest outdoor laundry. The word Dhobi Ghat is used all over India to refer to any place where many washers are present. (B, D)

Day 03: Mumbai / Kochi
Today we are transferred to airport for our flight to Kochi, formerly known as Cochin. On arrival, we are transferred to our Hotel. Rest of the day is free for personal activities.
Overnight: Crowne Plaza Cochin (2 Nights) (B, D)

Day 04: Kochi
In the morning we explore Kochi, formerly known as Cochin, Kerala’s commercial capital with one of the finest natural harbours in the world. We visit St. Francis Church, the oldest European Church in India. Vasco De Gama was buried here before his remains were taken back to Portugal. Next we visit the Roman Catholic Santa Cruz Cathedral built by the Portuguese in the 16th century; which is famous for beautiful paintings on its ceiling. We continue to the Jewish Quarter with its Old Synagogue and the Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese. Later we take a boat cruise to visit Bolghatty Palace and observe the fascinating Chinese fishing nets in action. In the evening we enjoy Kathakali Dance Performance. This dramatized presentation of a play usually based on the Hindu epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas, is a unique combination of literature, music, painting, acting and dance. (B, D)

Day 05: Kochi / Thekkady
In the morning after breakfast we drive to Thekkady to check in our hotel. The area is famous for its spice plantations and after lunch we will 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 will have the opportunity to buy some garden fresh spices. In the evening we return to our hotel for dinner.
Overnight: Thekkady Wild Corridor (2 Nights) (B, D)

Day 06: Thekkady
Our day starts with a jungle walk at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in the early morning, after which we return to our hotel for breakfast. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the world’s most fascinating natural wildlife reserves. Spread across 777 square kilometres it was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. In the afternoon 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 and we can see plenty of 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. (B, D)

Day 07: Thekkady / Kumarakom
Today we drive to Kumarakom, a beautiful paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddies and coconut groves interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals adorned with white lilies situated by Vembanad Lake. On arrival in Kumarakom we board our traditional houseboat and begin our journey through the picturesque backwaters and small lakes relaxing in the tranquility of Kerala's beautiful scenery. On our journey we come across many boats, canoes and other crafts, as we observe the traditional way of life and activities of the local people.
Overnight: Air-conditioned Deluxe House Boat (B, L, D)

Day 08: Alleppey / Kovalam
We enjoy breakfast on board, sail to Alleppey and disembark at the Puthenagady Jetty. A comfortable drive gets us 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 a coconut groves.
Overnight: Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort (2 Nights) (B, D)

Day 09: Kovalam
Free day to relax on the beach. (B, D)

Day 10: Kovalam / Kanyakumari / Madurai
After breakfast we leave for Madurai, visiting Kanyakumari, the “Lands’ End" of India on the way. Kanyakumari is the southernmost tip of peninsular India where the waters of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea meet. We visit the Temple of Goddess Kumari, the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in the sea where Swami Vivekananda mediated. After lunch we continue our  journey to Madurai. On arrival, we check in our Hotel.
Overnight: Hotel Sangam (2 Nights) (B, L, D)

Day 11: Madurai
Today we explore Madurai, the second largest city in Tamil Nadu. The city revolves around the Meenakshi Amman Temple, a structure in the Dravidian style of architecture.  The complex houses 14 gopurams(gateway towers) ranging from 45-50m in height, the tallest being the southern tower, 51.9 metres (170 ft) high, and two golden sculptured shrines over sanctum of the main deities. The temple is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure was built from 1623 to 1655. There are an estimated 33,000 sculptures in the temple and amongst the highlights are the Hall of a Thousand Pillars, the Tirumalai Nayaka Temple and the Temple Art Museum. (B, D)

Day 12: Madurai / Thanjavur
In the morning after breakfast we drive to Thanjavur and check in at our hotel. Thanjavur is popularly known as Tanjore.  In the afternoon we explore the Brihadisvara Temple, one of the Great Living Chola Temples*. The temple, set in spacious grounds, has several pillared halls and shrines. 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. We end our tour of Tanjore with a visit to the Tanjore Palace & Museum, which has an eclectic collection of regal memorabilia most of it dating from the early 19th century.
Overnight: Hotel Sangam (B, D)

Day 13: Thanjavur / Pondicherry
In the morning after breakfast we drive to Pondicherry. 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 Coromandal 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, we will find the Matrimandir, the famous monument built by the Auroville Society representing a lotus flower.  Today we will also visit the 400-year old Manakula Vinayagar Temple, which has several frescos telling the life story of a half human and half animal lord.
Overnight: Hotel Sunway GRT Grand (B, D)

Day 14: Pondicherry / Mahabalipuram / Chennai
In the morning 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.  After lunch, we continue our journey to Chennai. On arrival we check in our Hotel. Rest of the day is free to relax.
Overnight: Sheraton Park Hotel & Towers (2 Nights) (B, L, D)

Day 15: Chennai
We tour 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. (B, D)

Day 16: Chennai / Mysore
Early morning we are transferred to railway station to embark on tour express train to Mysore. Shatabdi Express trains are fully air-conditioned and travellers enjoy complimentary meals and seating comparable to business class on airlines. On arrival, we are transferred to our hotel. In the afternoon we visit the Maharajah's Palace, Shri Chamundeswari Temple and the Nadi Shiva's Mount. Mysore has never failed to mesmerize with its rich heritage, magnificent palaces, beautiful gardens, imposing buildings, broad shady avenues and sacred temples. The evening is free to enjoy the Vrindavan Garden and City Palace, which is beautifully lit on certain days.
Overnight: Royal Orchid Metropole (B, D)

Day 17: Mysore / Srirangapatam / Bangalore
In the morning after breakfast we drive to Bangalore, visiting Srirangapatam, the island fortress that was once the capital of the warrior-kings Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore, en-route.  On arrival in Bangalore we check in our Hotel. In the afternoon we explore Bangalore, visiting the Vidhana Soudha, an imposing edifice built almost entirely of dressed Bangalore granite, that houses the Legislative Chambers of the state government; the 3000 acres of verdant tranquility of Cubbon Park; Tipu Sultan's Palace, now a museum, and one of the most remarkable Islamic buildings in the city; Lal Bagh Garden, India's most beautiful botanical gardens with rare trees brought from far off Persia, Afghanistan and France. The evening is free for shopping in the local bazaar.
Overnight: ITC Windsor (B, D)

Day 18: Bangalore / Departure
Today is free for shopping and other personal activities. In the evening we enjoy our farewell dinner. After a memorable journey through incredible India, we are transferred to the airport for our departure home or to our next exciting destination. (B, D)
B = Breakfast
L = Lunch
D = Dinner

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Departure Dates

Jan 16, Feb 20, Mar 19, Apr 23, May 18, Jun 15, Jul 14, Aug 18 & Sep 15

Departures 2016
Double Occupancy
Single Supplement
Jan 16, Feb 20, Mar 19
US $ 3100
US $ 950
Apr 23, May 18, Jun 15, Jul 14, Aug 18 & Sep 15
US $ 2877
US $ 810

Tour Price Includes Tour Price Does Not Include:
  • Accommodation on twin share basis in the mentioned hotels.
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
    (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
  • Transfers and sightseeing as per the itinerary by air-conditioned Vehicle.
  • Road tax, Toll Charges, parking fees and driver’s overnight wages.
  • Services of local English speaking guide
  • Entrances to museums and sites included in the itinerary
  • Harbor Cruise in Cochin (Common Boat)
  • Kathakali Dance performance -Cochin
  • Spice plantation tour - Thekkady
  • Boat Ride at Lake Periyar –Thekkady
  • Guided Jungle Walking Tour -Thekkady
  • 02 Rejuvenation Massages at Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort – Kovalam
  • Airfare in Economy Class from Mumbai to Cochin
  • Train Fare in Executive Class from Chennai -Mysore
  • International airfare & airport/departure taxes
  • Insurance / Visas
  • Tips/Gratuities to Drivers & Guides
Domestic / Regional Airfare INCLUDED in Tour Price (Subject To Change)

Estimated International Airfare (included in tour price)
East Coast US $ 1000
West Coast US $ 1400
This tour operates with a minimum of 02 and a maximum of 15 participants.

Other Dates / Customized Itinerary / Languages
In addition to our set programs we are also pleased to offer customized tours.
Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your individual needs.

Customized tours can be conducted in English, French, German, Spanish or Italian. Each departure is conducted in the designated language only.

Contact Information
Bestway Tours & Safaris
Fax: +1-604-264-7774
206–8678 Greenall Ave Phone: +1-604-264-7378
Burnaby B.C., Canada Toll Free (US & Canada): 1-800-663-0844
V5J 3M6 Email:
33 years in small group journeys

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photographs © Peter Langer
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