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South India Cultural Highlights

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.

FROM $11,400 PER PERSON
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DURATION

14 days | 13 nights

DESTINATIONS

India

INTERESTS

Architecture

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore the vibrant markets of Mumbai and Karakkudi 
  • Take in the intricate details of Hampi’s ancient ruins and temples
  • Look out over the Bay of Bengal from one of southern India’s oldest structures
  • Be charmed by the “French Riviera of the East” in Pondicherry

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Experience the cultural highlights of Southern India with this magical 14-day luxury itinerary, taking in the sights of Mumbai, Hampi, Bangalore, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Karakkudi (Chettinad) and Madurai. Experience the rich culture of the south through visits to ancient ruins and a slew of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, food and market tours, and more. 

DAY-TO-DAY

DAY 1: Mumbai

Arrive in thrilling Mumbai, the flamboyant home to India’s rich and famous and the renowned Bollywood scene, and transfer to your plush suite at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, where you’re likely to spot celebrities and/or royalty alike, who often frequent the hotel.

DAY 2: Mumbai

Today you’re going to become well-acquainted with Mumbai. Your first stop: the Elephanta Caves, a network of sculpted caves located on the island of Elephanta in the Arabian Sea. Next, you’ll be off on a market tour, where you can haggle for everything from fresh fruits, to scarves, to jewelry. Finally, you’ll head to the Kala Ghoda Art District, home to a slew of art galleries, universities, museums, and more.

DAY 3: Hampi

Head to Hampi today, home to the ruins of the ancient Vijayanagara Empire, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll fly to Hubli Airport, and then drive three hours to Hampi. Check in to your room at one of our two recommended luxury hotels, Hampi Boulder or The Hyatt Place, and get settled in.

DAY 4: Hampi

Take a peek into India’s past today with a tour of Hampi’s temples, many of which are decorated in fascinating ancient motifs and elaborate frescoes. See the city from atop Matanga Hill, a special Hampi attraction known for its particularly magical sunrise and sunset views. Finally, if you happen to be visiting in November, take part in the Utsav Festival, Hampi’s largest festival, featuring music, dance and puppet performances, as well as fireworks and more.

DAY 5: Bangalore

Take off for Bangalore today, well-known as the country’s information technology capital, and India’s third-largest city. Transfer to your suite at the Taj West End, which holds the title of the city’s first hotel, and become acquainted with your new surroundings.

DAY 6: Bangalore

Explore Bangalore today, on a tour that takes you to Lal Bagh, a botanical garden with India's largest collection of tropical plants; Dodda Basavana Gudi, also known as the Bull Temple, representing a sacred Hindu demi-god, and Bangalore Palace. Spend the rest of your day relaxing in the palatial surroundings of your hotel, or exploring the city as you like. 

DAY 7: Mahabalipuram

Today you’ll fly to Chennai, and then drive for two hours to Mahabalipuram, an ancient historic town that’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Check in to your room at Vivanta by Taj - Fisherman's Cove, and get settled in. Relax at your hotel for the evening.

DAY 8: Mahabalipuram

Get acquainted with Mahabalipuram today, starting with a visit to the Five Rathas, believed to have once been a learning tool for teachers to instruct young students the art of carving. Next up, visit the Shore Temple, overlooking the Bay of Bengal, one of the oldest structural stone temples of South India. 

DAY 9: Pondicherry

It’s back on the road for 2 hours again today, your destination: the charming city of Pondicherry, or as the locals know it, Pondi. The city was once the largest French colony in India, and still retains much of its colonial elegance. The Old Quarters are lined with Mediterranean-style houses and bakeries, though this “French Riviera of the East” is still true to its Indian roots. Check in to your hotel, located in the Old French Quarter, La Villa Shanti. 

DAY 10: Pondicherry

Discover Pondicherry’s historical sights today, on a Heritage Walk that will take you through the city’s Old Quarters, where you’ll take in both French and Tamil style architecture. Learn more of the city’s history and culture with a visit to Pondicherry Museum. Afterwards, unwind on one of the unspoilt beaches nearby. Spend the night once again at La Villa Shanti.

DAY 11: Karaikudi

Today you’re off on a drive to Karakkudi (5 hours away), a Heritage town in Tamil Nadu, famous for its palatial limestone structures. Check in to your suite at the mansion-cum-hotel Visalam. Relax there today - the hotel’s stunning pool is calling your name.

DAY 12: Karaikudi

Karaikudi is known for its non-vegetarian delicacies, and is a haven for foodies. See what all the fuss is about on a food tour of the city. Follow this up with a private palace tour, before enjoying some retail therapy during a market visit. Relax back at your hotel for the evening. 

DAY 13: Madurai

It’s back on the road today. This time your destination is Madurai, 2 hours away on the banks of River Vaigai. Check in to your hotel, the Taj Garden Retreat, which has a lovely view of Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. Once settled in, venture to the temple’s grounds to see it close up. Next, pay a visit to Thirumalai Nayak palace, a sprawling royal abode once considered one of the wonders of the South.

DAY 14: Departure

Say goodbye to Madurai and India today. Fly to Chennai, from where you can catch a flight to your next destination. 

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