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Sandalwood & Spices

This itinerary takes you deep into the heart of South India, a land rich in sights, sounds – and flavours! You’ll get a taste of the southern peninsula’s spiritual and cultural riches as well as its culinary delights in a varied, exciting tour that covers forests, backwaters, the seaside and captivating urban centres. Highlights include a generous sampling of the rich and varied temple architecture in three different states, boat rides down peaceful waterways, visits to lush spice plantations, the salubrious Goan seaside, ringside seats at traditional dance and music performances and more. It’s the perfect way to experience southern comfort – Indian style!

Duration:16 days
Budget for 2: USD 7100, with an additional USD 480 per head for local flights
Places Visited: Chennai, Madurai, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala backwaters, Kochi, Bangalore (only in transit), Mysore, Chikmangalore, Halebid, Hampi, Badami, Goa, Mumbai

Places visited

DelhiDays 1 & 2
A city with a rich colonial past, Madras is today a major cultural, commercial and educational hub. Your Madras experience includes the National Art gallery and Museum, the neo-Gothic San Thome Basilica and Mylapore, a cultural hub where you will witness captivating performances of traditional music and dance.

MaduraiDays 3
One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It’s a favoured pilgrimage spot owing to its wealth of ancient temples, built by the Pandyan and Madurai Nayak kings. Even for non-believers, these exemplars of Dravidian temple architecture are a must-see, especially the famous Meenakshi Temple with its many architectural and sculptural attractions.

Periyar Days 4 & 5
A drive through the Western Ghats takes you through coffee and tea plantations and market towns en route to Periyar, home of the Periyar National Park. You’ll stay in spice plantation in the Cardamom Hills and visit the wildlife sanctuary, which includes elephant and tiger reserves and wealth of other flora and fauna. Finally, spend a night in a house boat in Alepey.

KochiDays 6 & 7
An important trading centre for centuries, Kochi was the first European colony and was held by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. Your visit to this post city includes a harbor cruise at sunset, visits to a 16th century synagogue, to Mattancherry, a palace with vivid murals depicting scenes from the Indian epics, strolls through markets and streets with old Portuguese houses, a traditional dance performance and more.

Mysore/ShravanabelagolaDays 8 & 9
The capital city of the Wodeyar kings, Mysore is known for its palaces, festivals and cultural heritage. A highlight of your visit will be the Indo-Saracenic Mysore Palace, a treasure house of artistic delights. Next, you’ll drive to the tongue-twisting Shravanabelagola, a Jain pilgrimage centre where you’ll see the 58 foot statue of Lord Gomateshwara atop Vindhyagiri Hill.

HalebidDays 10
The 12th-century capital of the Hoysala empire, Halebid is notable for the Hosyaleswara Temple, a stone cut temple complex. With a bounty of fascinating stone carvings adorning the walls and interiors of the temples, this is a place where you can spend hours immersed in the atmosphere of bygone days.

HampiDays 11 & 12
The town of Hampi is situated amidst the ruins of the capital of the Vijaynagar empire, one of the largest empires to co-exist with the Mughals. The stone ruins of Vijaynagar are UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s much to see here, including ancient temples like the Virupaksha temple, remains of various imperial buildings and a plethora of gorgeous stone carving.

BadamaiDay 13
Located in a ravine between two craggy peaks, Badami, named for the almond-coloured sandstone found in this area, is a site rich in ancient temples. Your visit here will you bring you face-to-face with stunning examples of sculpture and temple architecture.

GoaDays 14 & 15
‘The pearl of the Orient’, sunny Goa is a land of sun, sea, and an atmosphere redolent of its Portuguese past. Visit the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which houses the remains of St. Francis Xavier who brought Christianity to Goa in the 16th century and stroll through Old Goa with its charming multi-coloured traditional homes, to say nothing of visiting the world-famous beaches. You’ll also stop for a typical Goanese lunch with a family in an Old Goa house.

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