Enjoy an Indian Real Food Adventure from Bangalore to Kochi

Discover the incredible flavours of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala on this Real Food Adventure through South India. Dine on idli and parotta, stroll through plantations of coffee, tea and spices, joina passionate foodie for a tasting tour of Madurai and cook up a storm in Kochi. Savour Kodavan cuisine in Coorg, stay in a heritage mansion in Kandukathan and discover life (and food) on the Kerala backwaters. You will relish every taste of this delicious trip through the heart of southern India.

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Start
Bangalore, India
Finish
Kochi, India
Country
India
Style
Original
Theme
Food
Code
HHZI
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Taste the true heart of India through its food – explore the ingredients, flavours and tastes of the key southern Indian food regions of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu

  • Uncover the verdant beauty of the Western Ghats and the distinct culinary traditions of the Kodava people in Coorg

  • Get a truly local insight into Madurai’s street food scene guided by a passionate foodie

  • Learn about Chettinad cuisine an impressive nineteenth century mansion – the Chettiars have a reputation of eating like kings!

  • Cook up a Keralan storm with an ex-rickshaw driver turned food guru

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip aims to give you an exciting, diverse and well-rounded experience of India's cuisine. India is a great place to travel for vegetarians and vegans - offering lots of choice and great quality fare. If you have dietary requirements, simply contact your agent at the time of booking for further information on how this may impact on your ability to take part in included activities and meals. Come with an open mind and open mouth, and you won’t be disappointed!

  • India is a big country and there are some long travel days on this departure. Use these as an opportunity to relax, witness everyday life from the window of your vehicle and to get to know your fellow travellers.

  • This trip travels by overnight train from Mysore to Madurai. While the overnight train can seem a little daunting, it is a very efficient way to travel long distances and maximising time in each place. Note that long distance and overnight trains can often be delayed and occasionally cancelled due to heavy fog between December and February.

  • This trip stays in a mix of accommodation to experience a variety of Indian life. Standards can vary though – there will be hot water in most but not all hotels.

  • Southern India can get very hot during the summer so remember to drink lots of water, wear skin protection and bring a variety of clothing – light cotton fabrics work best in the heat.

  • You will visit some temples on this trip, which requires a certain level of modesty. Please bring clothes that cover the arms and pants/skirts that go past the knees. A light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when it’s hot.

  • Accommodation in the backwaters of Kerala is a multi-share homestay, so be prepared to share space (along with stories and a delicious home-cooked meal).

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Namaste! Welcome to India. A fusion of modernity and tradition, the vibrant colours of India are truly captivating. Be at one with bustling cities, surrender to the simplicity of villages, and feel the touch of the land’s spirituality. A journey through India is enriching, inspiring and unforgettable.

Your adventure will begin with a 6pm welcome meeting in the hotel. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception as soon as possible. We'll be verifying your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details ready. 

Your trip starts in Bangalore (aka Bengaluru), the capital of Karnataka State. Bangalore is the centre of India's high-tech industry but is also known for its abundance of parks and green spaces. Enjoy an authentic Bangalorean dinner after the welcome meeting, followed by an orientation walk near the famous Mahatma Gandhi Road. This road is one of the busiest in the city and captures the metropolitan spirit of Bangalore ¬with a bounty of stores, food outlets and restaurants near the offices and metro stations.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Welcome Dinner
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Start the day in Bangalore with a breakfast before a private vehicle will transport you to the verdant landscapes of the Western Ghats and the Kodagu province. While a long drive (approximately 7 hours), the reward will be apparent when you arrive at the hotel which will be your home for the next 2 nights. Set in the heart of the picturesque coffee plantation region Kodagu (Coorg) province, you will be surrounded by luscious plantations and greenery.

This region is a major centre for coffee and spice production, this rural expanse is also home to the Kodava people, who are divided into 1000 clans.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
1. Our accommodation in Kodagu is of a higher level than the rest of the itinerary due to limited hotel options for twin bedding and groups of 12 in the region. Travelers should bring their swimming gear in the warmer months as the hotel here has a pool.

2. Please also note that Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity in Kodagu can be inconsistent due to its remote location.
Clasped deep within the rolling hills of the southernmost edge of Karnataka lies the Kodagu (Coorg) region. While the place boasts stunning thick greenery and an interesting warrior heritage, the next stage of the journey shares the hidden secret of Kodagu – the intensely fragrant and flavourful coffee. Drink a cup of the local brew and see if you can detect the notes of toasted nuts, citrus and milk chocolate. Spend the morning taking a walk through a plantation before indulging in a cooking class that focuses on signature Kodavan (Coorgi) dishes. Coorgis, a warrior tribe from southwest india, have made no effort to hide their love for pork dishes. Typically they cook using pork, jungle mangoes, jackfruit, kembh leaves and rice, cooking specialties such as nooputtu (string hoppers), otti (rice roti), pulao (mixed rice with or without veg) and kadumbuttu (rice-flour balls).

After sampling some tantalising flavours at the end of the class, spend the rest of the day relaxing around the estate or exploring the lush countryside.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kodagu - Kodava Cooking Class with Lunch
  • Kodagu - Coffee Plantation Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Depart from your guesthouse and drive to Mysore (3-4 hours). After arriving, you’ll be welcomed into a local home where the secrets to creating an authentic Indian biryani await.

Biryani is typically prepared with spices, rice and meat, resulting in a fragrant dish that’s full of flavours. Depending on culture and region, different preparation techniques along with varying levels of spices and meats are used to prepare the dish. Hyberabadi biryani, for example, is one of the most popular styles of the meal and typically comes prepared with goat as opposed to Delhi biryani which can feature anything from expensive meats to pickles depending on the economic factors of a region. Considering the variety of biryanis out there, you might accidentally end up creating your own style during your stay!

If there's time after lunch, take some time to explore the impressive gardens, arches and red domes of Mysore Palace or the Chamundi Devi Temple. In the evening, board an overnight train to Madurai.
Included Activities
  • Mysore - Biryani Demonstration and Lunch
Optional Activities
  • Mysore - Maharaja's Palace - INR200
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Arrive in Madurai by mid morning. Crammed full of bazaars, temples, small industries, pilgrims, cycle-rickshaws, beggars and street markets, Madurai showcases southern India at its colourful and lively best. Madurai is Tamil Nadu's second largest town and ancient capital, with a recorded history that dates back to third-century BC. The city is recognised as the centre of Dravidian culture, with its main attraction the famous Shree Meenaksh Temple in the heart of the old town. Take some time to explore this ancient, still active temple, which is a labyrinth of lamp-lit corridors that lead to shrines where some mysterious and interesting rituals are performed. Its many gopurams (temple towers) are covered with profusions of multi-coloured images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures and the views from one of the temple towers are breathtaking. The cuisine of the state of Tamil Nadu is also highly regarded and it is believed that the English word curry is derived from the Tamil word 'kari'. Characterised by the use of rice, legumes and lentils, the food of Tamil Nadu also has a number of regional variants, of which Madurai is a great example. Discover it's signature flavours on a street food tour. Travel the city from east to west, past markets and temples, and get the inside scoop on the best street food the city has to offer. You’ll have the opportunity to sample delicacies such as peppercorn semolina, lentils and hand-churned ice cream made with sarsaparilla and seaweed. Finish up at a famous masala dosa spot which is so popular it only opens for 4 hours a day!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Madurai - Street Food Tour
  • Madurai - Walking tour
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple guided tour
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Drive on to Kandukathan (approximately 2 hours), famous for its unique architecture and salt trade, arriving around midday. Settle in at your accommodation, an impressive mansion built in 1902 by prosperous merchants who used construction materials, decorative items and furnishings imported from East Asian countries and Europe. Relax, go for a swim in the swimming pool, then get ready for a real treat – a masterclass in Chettinad cuisine. Chettinad cuisine is distinct to the Chettiars, a successful trading community who built a reputation for ‘eating like kings’. This regional cuisine in revered throughout India and is well regarded for its liberal use of spice, replacing chilli with pepper to impart a subtle heat to dishes. Chettinad cuisine also incorporates seafood, chicken and lamb, although Chettiars do not eat beef and pork. In the hall of the mansion, learn to prepare famous Chettinad dishes including the signature chicken drumstick curry accompanied by mint chutnie, and follow it with a sumptuous feast in the open-air courtyard.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kandukathan - Chettinad Cooking Demonstration
  • Karaikudi - Village walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Rise early and drive past rubber and pineapple plantations and thick jungle to the spice plantation town of Thekkady (approximately 5 hours). Thekkady is the gateway to Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve, perched high in the ranges of the Western Ghats. Thekkady proudly celebrates the food traditions of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and the town and its neighbouring villages are highly regarded for their spice cultivation. Prepare for a fragrant tour of a spice plantation and discover some of the many varieties grown here, from ginger, cardamom and vanilla, to pepper, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Periyar - Spice plantation visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning, venture into the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary for a guided nature walk. The sanctuary surrounds a picturesque lake, which was formed as result of a dam that was built in 1895. It ambles through the contours of the wooded hills, and is a permanent source of water for local wildlife. Wildlife encounters are never guaranteed, but if luck is on your side you may see some Indian elephants, deer, tigers or gaur – the world's largest species of buffalo. You are more likely to see Bonnet macaques who are often found near the entrance to the reserve, or the Malabar giant squirrel, a species native to India. In your free time, you can enjoy an optional ayurvedic massage or attend an exciting demonstration of Indian martial arts (kalaripayattu) at the Kadathanadan Kalari Centre. In the late afternoon, head out to the home of a former rickshaw driver turned cooking teacher. The class will be conducted in an open courtyard with a small barbeque, where some of the cooking will take place. In this class you will also learn the secret to preparing porotta, a layered flatbread typical to parts of Southern India. Feast on your efforts over dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Periyar - Guided nature walk
  • Periyar - Keralan Hands-on Cooking Class
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Before departing Thekkady, stop and learn about the important staple crop of tea with a local grower. Enjoy a hearty cup or two before embarking on your onward journey. Transfer by private vehicle to a homestay on the banks of the Kerala Backwaters (approximately 7 hours). Swaying palm trees, lush rice paddies, winding waterways, Ayurvedic massage and welcoming locals all await on this amazing Kerala Backwaters homestay. In the evening, join your hosts for a home-cooked dinner and pick up the trick to whipping up payasam (a delicious, jaggery and coconut dessert).
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Notes: Accommodation is on a multishare basis and all the families live within a few hundred metres of each other, with at least one person in the family speaking a reasonable standard of English. Food is traditional Keralan home cooking.
Wake early and help prepare a traditional Keralan breakfast staple, appam (a type of pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk). After breakfast take a walk through the village and hop on a pole boat ride to explore the waterways. Transfer to Allepey by boat (approximately 1 hour) and then take a private vehicle to Kochi (Approximately 2 hours). Cochin, as it was formerly known, is spread over several islands and is a melting pot of Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and British influences. Take an orientation tour of the town on arrival, stopping by Fort Kochi. In your spare time a boat trip is the best way to tour the main sights, which include the oldest church in India and Vasco de Gama's final resting place. You can also explore the city by bike. The evening is free for you to explore. Perhaps seek out the best coconut curry in town or witness a Kathakali dance performance, a classical, powerful, and dramatic dance style that combines symbolic storytelling with physical technique.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kerala Backwaters - Pole boat ride
Optional Activities
  • Kochi - Kathakali performance - INR300
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today take in some of the city's most interesting sights. Visit the Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace), which was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese and later claimed by the Dutch in 1663. The Dutch improved upon the existing palace before presenting it to the rajas of Cochin. Interestingly Kochi is also home to a Jewish community that has roots going back as far as 1,000 AD, and you’ll see the Jewish synagogue in the city. Built in 1568, the Pardesi Synagogue is one of the oldest existing synagogues in India. Late in the afternoon visit a traditional 1940's Kerala home located in the heart of Fort Kochi, and enjoy a final cooking class. Among the dishes you’ll learn to prepare will be a Keralan classic – fish curry. Sit down and enjoy a final feast with your new friends.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kochi - Dutch Palace
  • Kochi - Jewish Synagogue
  • Kochi - Cooking Class and Dinner
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Your Real Food Adventure of South India ends this morning. There are no activities on your final day and you are free to leave at any time. If you wish to extend your stay, perhaps consider heading further south to relax on the beaches at Varkala.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

10 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners

Transport

Private Vehicle, Overnight Train, Boat

Accommodation

Hotel (8 nights), Overnight Train (1 night), Homestay (1 night), Heritage Stay (1 night)

Included activities

  • Welcome Dinner
  • Kodagu - Kodava Cooking Class with Lunch
  • Kodagu - Coffee Plantation Tour
  • Mysore - Biryani Demonstration and Lunch
  • Madurai - Street Food Tour
  • Madurai - Walking tour
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple guided tour
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple
  • Kandukathan - Chettinad Cooking Demonstration
  • Karaikudi - Village walk
  • Periyar - Spice plantation visit
  • Periyar - Guided nature walk
  • Periyar - Keralan Hands-on Cooking Class
  • Kerala Backwaters - Pole boat ride
  • Kochi - Dutch Palace
  • Kochi - Jewish Synagogue
  • Kochi - Cooking Class and Dinner

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Important notes

FESTIVALS IN INDIA:
Please note travelling during major festivals such as Holi and Diwali can, at times, cause disruption the published itinerary. Please see the 'Safety' section for more details.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
A Single Supplement is available on this trip. However is not available for the Overnight Train or Homestay nights.

DAY 2 & 3:
Our accommodation in Kodagu is of a higher level than the rest of the itinerary due to limited hotel options for twin bedding and groups of 12 in the region. Travelers should bring their swimming gear in the warmer months as the hotel here has a pool. Please also note that Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity in Kodagu can be inconsistent due to its remote location.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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.

Reviews

Our South India Real Food Adventure trips score an average of 4.76 out of 5 based on 34 reviews in the last year.

Real Food Adventure - South India , November 2017

Denise Schlachter

Real Food Adventure - South India , October 2017

kathryn whitby