Explore the south of vibrant India from Bengaluru to Puducherry

Rich in diversity, language, culture and religion, India is fuelled by the energy of some 1.25 billion people, a place where the air is warm and sweet from countless sticks of incense, and the cries of street vendors sound day and night. Explore the south and feast on biryani with a local family on the Karnataka Plains, discover myriad temples in Mysore, Puducherry and Madurai, and seek out tigers and leopards in Periyar National Park. Ride tuk-tuks, drive and take a sleeper train as you criss-cross the country, and then swap it all for the serene glide of a houseboat on the Kerala backwaters. You will encounter incredible sights, sounds and people, and leave with a heart full of experiences and memories on this southern India family adventure.

Start
Bangalore, India
Finish
Kovalam, India
Countries
India
Themes
Family
Code
HHFR
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 5
Group size
Min 2 Max 16
Carbon offset
288kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Cruise the Kerala Backwaters in a traditional kettuvallam
  • Race each other up the 1,008 stone steps to the summit of Chamundi Hill in Mysore
  • Try to count all of the carvings at Arunja’s Penance
  • Crunch on a croissant in the French Quarter of Puducherry (Pondicherry)
  • Join the jubilant procession to ‘put Shiva to bed’ at Meenakshi Amman Temple
  • Soak up the sun on Kovolam Beach
  • Spot wild elephants in Periyar National Park

Itinerary

Welcome to Bengaluru (aka Bangalore). The capital of Karnataka state is India’s tech hub, but is also known for its abundance of parks and green spaces. If you’re hankering for adventure then the Wonderla Amusement Park will deliver the goods, or you could spend an afternoon visiting one of the many local green parks or lakes.
Travel across the undulating Karnataka plains to Mysore. Stop en route to enjoy a homemade biryani lunch with a local family. There’s plenty to see, so take an orientation walk with your leader to get your bearings. Mysore Palace and Jaganmohan Palace - and the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery within - are just a ten-minute walk apart.
After breakfast, set out for the intricate Keshava Temple in Somanathapura. For a better look at the surrounding countryside walk the 1,008 ancient stone steps to the summit of Chamundi Hill – stopping halfway to look at the huge statue of the bull Nandi, carved out of a single piece of black granite. Board a comfy air-conditioned sleeper train to travel overnight to Chennai.
Disembark in Chennai and then drive on to Mamallapuram, enjoying the sights along the East Coast Road. Take a bike tour and visit the heritage-listed Shore Temple and Arunja’s Penance – a bas-relief carving that’s one of India’s greatest ancient art works. If you’re keen to slow the pace perhaps simply relax at a shorefront restaurant and enjoy the afternoon, before heading on to Puducherry for the evening.
Satisfy croissant cravings in this scenic former French colony. Explore the shorefront city on a guided walking tour and take in local temples, the old French quarter and the spiritual community of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
Take a half-day drive to Madurai and arrive in town around lunchtime. In the afternoon head out to explore this scenic city, full of temples and markets. Walk the intricate halls and sanctuaries of Meenakshi Amman Temple and then take a look at Pudhu Mandapa’s Thousand Pillared Hall, Art Museum and shrines. In the evening, return to Meenakshi Amman Temple and follow along as an icon of Sundareswarar (Shiva) is hoisted aloft and taken on a frenetic, joyous procession to spend the night at Meenakshi’s shrine. The following day is free for doing as much or as little as you like. Simply hang out by the hotel pool, or venture further afield on a trip to Thirumalai Nayak Palace or even to Trichy and its prominent and historic Rock Fort Temple. The afternoon might be spent shopping for trinkets and keepsakes at the local markets.
After a five-hour drive in the morning, arrive at Periyar National Park – one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in India, and home to many species of mammals and birds. Keep an eye out for grazing sambar and chital deer, wild boar, lumbering gaur and playful otters. This park is also home to rare tigers and leopards – as well as the occasional wild elephant. Tour a local spice plantation in the afternoon. The next morning take a walk around the park and look out for elephants, monkeys and birds.
Today we leave behind the delights of Periyar behind and travel on the next leg of our journey to Kochi the gateway to our time on the Malabar backwaters.
This morning we descend from the hills and make the three hour drive to Alleppey. Here we board a houseboat to begin a cruise through the complex system of beautiful lagoons and canals known as the ‘Malabar Backwaters’.
Get a slice of some royally sanctioned paradise with the next two days at Kovolam Beach, developed and promoted by the Godavarma Raja who fell in love with its beauty when honeymooning here in 1934. Move from the sun lounger, to the beach, to the hotel pool, and back again (perhaps with a massage squeezed in as well). If you’re keen to explore there’s plenty to do in and around this coconut tree-ringed spot: the nearby town of Vinhinjam has a wide array of Hindu temples and churches; maybe hire bicycles and explore the streets or take a traditional wooden boat ride out on the bay to go snorkelling. Enjoy a farewell dinner with the group on your last evening and your family adventure concludes on the morning of Day 14.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
13 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
Transport
Overnight sleeper train, Private Bus
Accommodation
Hotel (11 nights), Overnight boat (1 night)
Included activities
  • Cycle Rickshaw Ride in Madurai
  • Kochi - Dutch Palace
  • Kochi - Fort Kochi sightseeing
  • Kochi - Jewish Synagogue
  • Kochi - Kathakali performance
  • Leech Socks
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple Guide
  • Mamallapuram - Shore Temple
  • Mamallapuram Guide
  • Mysore - Chamundi Hill temple
  • Mysore - Home cooked lunch & family visit
  • Mysore - Keshava Temple
  • Mysore - Maharaja's Palace
  • Mysore Guide
  • Orientation Walk of Mysore
  • Periyar - National Park
  • Periyar - National Park Green Walk
  • Periyar - Spice farm tour & dinner
  • Pondicherry - Auroville
  • Pondicherry - Walking tour and Sri Aurobindo Ashram
  • Sri Meenakshi 1000 Pillar Entrance

Dates

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Important notes

Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 with you.
Minimum age for children on this trip is 5 years old.
A discount of 10% applies on this trip to children 14 years and under at time of travel.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Southern India Family Holiday trips score an average of 4.8 out of 5 based on 5 reviews in the last year.

Southern India Family Holiday , August 2015

Southern India Family Holiday , August 2015