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Mysore Palace India

South India Explored

20 days
from
£2,399
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Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Leisurely
Activity Level: Leisurely
Trip code: 
AIS
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailor Made Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
4–16
Min age:
16

Explore the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka

A region of great charm, southern India offers travellers beautiful cities, colonial hill stations, colourful temples, a relaxed lifestyle, attractive scenery and some of the best food in India. The major cities of the south were once princely capitals of the maharajas, and their magnificent remains contrast dramatically with the cool, mist-shrouded hill stations established by the British Raj. The natural scenery is also immensely rewarding; forest-clad hills slope down to a shoreline of shady lagoons, wooded islands, ancient spice ports and sandy beaches. This is an exceptionally varied and interesting trip and gives a comprehensive view of the whole of South India.

Highlights

  • Explore the old spice town of Cochin
  • Marvel at the beautiful palace in Mysore 
  • Madurai's magnificently carved Sri Meenakshi Temple 
  • Cruise the Keralan backwaters on a traditional houseboat 

Key information

  • 17 nights hotels, 1 night houseboat 
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus local leader. Min. age 16 yrs
  • Travel by air-conditioned private bus and train
  • Diwali Festival departure available
  • Countries visited: India

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner included
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

London
to
London
  • Day 1

    Depart London.

    Flights usually depart London in the afternoon.

  • Day 2

    Arrive Cochin.

    Those on the group flight will arrive in Cochin in the afternoon and transfer to the hotel. Those who have made their own flight arrangements will join us at the start hotel. Set on the Malabar, or 'Pepper Coast', Cochin (Kochi) is one of South India's most interesting towns and is believed to have been the first European settlement in India. Rich in history despite recent growth it retains a relaxed, quiet atmosphere. Narrow spits of land and coconut covered islands jut out into the wide, almost enclosed bay whose neck is lined with the famous Chinese fishing nets. In the afternoon there will be a full trip briefing by your leader. 
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 3

    Explore historic spice port.

    Today we do a sightseeing tour of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry, where most of the historic buildings are located amongst the narrow streets. The Portuguese Vasco de Gama landed here in 1498 and began trading with the Raja of Cochin. The Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese in the mid 1500's and then was largely rebuilt by its second occupants, the Dutch. Built in traditional Keralan style the wooden architecture and wall paintings of scenes from the Ramayana are still well preserved. Jewish settlers first arrived in Cochin in 587BC and a synagogue dating from the late 1500's still stands in Fort Cochin. Although now there are only about half a dozen Jewish families, the synagogue is a real gem and the individual hand painted 18th century blue ceramic Cantonese floor tiles are evidence of past trading with China. St Francis Church is where Vasco de Gama died in 1524 and the building reflects the new European influence in the area. The Santa Cruz Cathedral is close by and was originally used as a warehouse by the British. The Chinese fishing nets line the entrance to the harbour and were introduced by the Chinese in the late 14th century.  In the evening there is the option to see a Kathakali dance performance.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Climb through Nilgiri Hills to Ooty.

    A long but scenic journey today as we leave the coast and make our way inland into the Niligiri Hills. We leave Kerala and catch the Express train from Cochin to Pallakad (approx. 2.5hrs). We then drive through forested hillsides to Coimbatore (approx. 4-5 hrs drive). The ghat journey up to Coonoor is one of the most scenic in South India giving superb views of the plains below and magnificent groves of the tall, slender areca nut palm trees line the road. Passing through the small hill station of Coonoor we continue winding our way through lush tea and coffee plantations to Ooty, where we stay for the next two nights. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Relax, walk, or ride the miniature steam railway.

    Ootacamund, or 'Snooty Ooty' is queen of the southern hill stations and was a refuge for British officials and tea planters in Southern India. At 2,286m, the climate is much cooler and evenings in winter can be quite chilly.  Today we have a tour of various parts of Ooty including Dobetta Peak which at 2,638m is the second highest in the Western Ghats. From the top on a clear day we can see as far as the Mysore Plateau. A visit to the Botanical Gardens is relaxing and rewarding with  1,000 varieties of plants, shrubs and trees including orchids, ferns and alpines set amidst beautiful lawns.  We will also visit a tea factory for a guided tour.   A major attraction in Ooty is the narrow gauge steam Blue Mountain Railway from Coonoor to Ooty. There is time today to take this optional one-hour train journey (please be aware that this isn't always possible if the weather is bad or if there are technical problems with the train).  Your leader will provide details and make bookings for those who would like to experience this delightful trip. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    To Mysore through Mudmalai and Bandipur N.P.

    A beautiful drive of about five hours winds down the eastern side of the Niligiri Hills back to the plains. We drive through the Mudumalai and Bandipur National Parks as we cross the border from Tamil Nadu and into Karnataka. We may spot deer, elephant and monkeys on our journey. Just before we enter Mysore we will visit Chaumundi Hill where there is a temple dedicated to Durga. On the road up to the temple there is a giant stone Nandi bull carved in 1659. We arrive in Mysore in the late afternoon and spend two nights here.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Explore palaces and temples of Mysore.

    Mysore is the city of royal palaces, sandalwood and the manufacture of incense sticks; it is the former capital of the princely state and is Karnataka's second largest city. Today we have a sightseeing tour of Mysore and its surroundings. Just outside of Mysore is Srirangapatnam the capital of Haider Ali and his famous son, Tipu Sultan. Tipu's famous battles against both the French and the British are depicted in the murals of his delightful summer palace. Ruins of the fort and the Gumbaz, the family mausoleums are also here. Returning to Mysore we spend the afternoon exploring the beautifully restored City Palace. Designed by Henry Irwin and built in 1897, it is a remarkable building with domes, arches and colonnades of carved pillars and shiny marble floors. The stained glass, wall paintings, ivory inlaid doors and ornate golden throne are all remarkable. The rest of the day is free to wander round the bazaar.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Mysore colonial and market tour; train to Chennai

    This morning we take a drive around the city to see some of its colonial past in a number of historic buildings including the Silver Jubilee Clock Tower, Government House, Wellington Lodge, Lalitha Mahal Palace and St Philomena’s Cathedral. Where possible we will get off the bus in order to take photographs and a walk around. We will then head to the lively Devaraja Market for a guided walking tour. This market dates back to the 18th century and we will find traders selling traditional items such as flower garlands, fragrant spices and conical piles of kumkum which is used for the bindi dots worn in the centre of the forehead. This is said to be where the sixth chakra or seat of concealed wisdom is found. The scent of flowers and spices permeate the air and pyramids of fruits and vegetables make for some very colourful photographs. We will have lunch in Mysore before boarding the afternoon express train to Chennai. This journey from one side of southern India to the other will include some picturesque scenery and small villages. We arrive in Chennai in the evening and transfer straight to our hotel.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Tour of Chennai; visit St Thomas Church; on to Mahabalipuram

    Formerly known as Madras, Chennai is the state capital of Tamil Nadu and also South India's commercial and cultural hub.  It is a garden city; a mix of old and new with colonial buildings and modern high-rises sharing the skyline. Fort St George was Britain's first bastion in India and the area known as George Town was where the cloth for the British East India Company's textile trade was manufactured.  We take a tour of the colonial areas and then head south to visit the Cathedral of St Thomas.  This impressive Gothic structure is said to mark the final resting place of St Thomas the Apostle.  Behind the Cathedral is a tranquil tomb where a 'Relic of St Thomas' a tiny bone fragment is housed, with the rest of his mortal remains said to reside in Italy.  We continue driving along the Coromondel coast for around 1.5hrs to the small seaside town of Mahabalipuram.  We stay here for 2 nights and in addition to exploring its magnificent World Heritage listed temples there is time to relax after the busy last few days. 

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Tour of Mahabalipuram temples; free afternoon

    This part of Tamil Nadu has a language over 2,000 years old and poetry dating back to before the birth of Christ. It also boasts some of the most remarkable temple architecture in India, and with a living tradition of music and dance, is culturally very rich. In the morning we visit the rock cut caves and temples at Mahabalupuram. Occupying a stunning position on a rocky outcrop between the beach and a lagoon, the port was made famous by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th century. There are numerous cave temples, monolithic carved shrines in the shape of chariots, stone temples and relief sculptured rock panels all dating back to the 7th century. Carving in stone is still a living art here and we will see stonemasons chipping away from dawn till dusk along the busy roadside, practicing the skills that flourished centuries ago.  The afternoon is free to walk along the beach and explore the small town with its many craft and souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    To French colonial Pondicherry

    This morning we head inland for 52km to the Vedantangal Bird Sanctuary, an important breeding ground for water birds. Cormorants, egrets, herons, storks, ibises and pelicans come here to breed and nest for about six months from November to March. At the height of the breeding season in December and January there can be up to 3000 birds here. Please note the sanctuary is not open at certain times of the year due to low water levels which means few birds may be seen.  We plan departure dates during times when the sanctuary should be open, however, if there has been insufficient rain we may be advised during a tour that it is closed.  Your leader will have up to date information and will advise if a visit is not possible.  Our final destination today is Pondicherry with its elegant mansions, tree-lined avenues and French colonial atmosphere.  A short orientation walk of around 2-3 hours will introduce you to 'Pondy's' Tamil and French Quarters and its long sea front promenade. After the tour there is free time to explore the easy grid pattern of streets in search of more of the hidden Gems this town has to offer. There are plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants to tempt you. 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Drive to historic Thanjavur

    Our journey today will take us through the fertile Kaveri Delta or 'the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu' to the historic city of Thanjavur, or Tanjore. (approx. 5 hours) Starting in the 9th century and continuing for almost 1,000 years Thanjavur was the capital of three powerful dynasties, the Cholas, Nayakas and Marathas. Two famous monuments that capture these times are the magnificent Chola Brihadishvara temple and the Royal Palace dating to the Nayakas and Marathas periods. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Explore Thanjavur; on to Madurai.

    This morning we visit the beautiful 16th century Royal Palace which houses an interesting library as well as the Rajaraja Museum which has a collection of magnificent Chola bronzes. Thanjavur is most famous for the stunning Brihadisvara Temple, a World Heritage Site, and one of the great monuments of southern India. The temple is the achievement of the Chola King, Rajaraja I, who was a great patron of the arts. It is built mainly from granite and has outstanding inscriptions and sculptures of Shiva, Vishnu and Durga.  Later today we will drive to Madurai passing through granite mountain ranges. (approx. 4 hours) Spread along the banks of the rocky bed of the Vaigai River stands the bustling city of Madurai, where we spend two nights.
    Comfortable Hotel

     

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Visit Meenakshi Amman Temple; free time.

    Madurai is one of Tamil culture's most vital centres and the temple and bazaar are at the heart of this vibrant and colourful city. The most famous sight in Madurai is the Meenakshi Amman Temple, an outstanding example of Vijaynagar architecture. Built between the 16th and 18th centuries, it is a hive of activity and the scene of an almost continuous religious festival. The temple's nine towering gopurams stand out with their colourful stucco images of gods, goddesses and animals. There are about 4,000 granite sculptures on the lower levels and numerous pillared temple halls surrounding the Golden Lotus Tank. The main temple is dedicated to Meenakshi, the 'fish-eyed goddess' and the consort of Shiva. One of the spectacular parts of the complex is the 16th century Thousand Pillared Hall with exquisitely carved columns and sculptured ceiling depicting a wheel showing the 60 Tamil years. We also visit the Thirumalai Nayaka Palace, which was built in 1636 in Indo-Mughal style by the Nayak dynasty. The bazaars are colourful and lively and Madurai is a great place to take a cycle rickshaw ride. The town is also renowned for its silk and cotton.
    Comfortable Hotel

     

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    To Periyar National Park in Kerala

    We drive westwards and enter the state of Kerala today. Nicknamed 'God's own country', it is the southernmost state of India. High levels of education and healthcare have given Kerala an enviable reputation elsewhere in India and its unique balance of Hindu, Muslim and Christian sets it apart from its neighbouring states. The journey takes about four hours through lush countryside to Thekaddy and the Periyar National Park. Set on the attractive Periyar lakeside the wildlife park is known for its elephants, sambar, wild boar and barking deer. This afternoon we take a walking tour of a spice garden with our informative local guide. Coffee, tea, rubber, cardamom and pepper are just some of the local crops found in this area.

    To add to your experience in Theddaky there are some optional activities on offer.  These are subject to availability and may not be bookable on every trip. Your leader will advise you of the options which are available.  These include a cooking demonstration/dinner in a local home, Ayurvedic Massages and Martial Arts Show. (Please see the Extra Expenses and spending money section of these trip notes for approximate prices)

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    Jungle walk in Periyar N.P; optional boat ride

    An early start for a guided nature walk with an experienced ranger in Periyar National Park. Before starting out we are shown how to put on our leech socks to help protect our feet and legs.  A short crossing of the lake on a small bamboo raft brings us to thick forest where our ranger will point out the local flora and fauna as we follow a route through majestic trees.  From time to time we walk alongside the lake where there are beautiful views of this lush national park. We cannot guarantee the birds and animals will cooperate but the park is home to elephant, otter, wild pig and buffalo. There is also an abundance of bird life - kingfishers, storks and hornbills are the most commonly spotted. In the afternoon there is an optional boat ride on the lake which affords more wonderful views and a second chance to hopefully spot birds and wildlife.  Early in the tour your leader will ask who would like to do the boat ride option so that they can ensure tickets are booked.  (Please see the optional excursions section of these trip notes for approximate price)
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 17

    To Alleppey; Kerala houseboat cruise.

    We start out early for the drive to Alleppey (approx. 5 hours) to ensure we are boarding our houseboats in time for lunch.  Lunch is served in the dining area on deck and then it is time to kick back and enjoy the stunning scenery of the tranquil backwaters. This cruise is one of the real highlights of the trip - these enchanting houseboats, built of Anjili wood and bamboo were the traditional method for transporting goods for hundreds of years. Now they have been decorated and made into cosy cruise boats. The network of rivers, streams, lagoons and canals occupy the alluvial plain between the Western Ghats and the Indian Ocean. As our boat meanders through areas of lush tropical vegetation we have the opportunity to view not only the prolific bird life but also gain a differing perspective on village life. The cruise takes us around the lake and along palm-fringed waterways where coconut fibre and cashews are loaded on to dugouts. In the evening the boat is anchored in the lake close to one of the small local villages where you can get out for a stroll during sunset. In the evening the group comes together on one houseboat to enjoy a traditional Keralan dinner. All the houseboats are comfortably equipped and one boat has between 3 and 5 twin or double bedded rooms with small bathroom. There is a cook and boat driver and assistants for each boat. 
    Houseboat

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 18

    Disembark houseboat: drive to Kovalam.

    Following a short cruise and breakfast we disembark from our houseboats and drive along the scenic Malabar Coast to Kovalam (approx. 5hrs). Until the 1960s this was just a sleepy fishing village but then it was added to the hippy trail because of its beautiful beach and crystal clear waters.  Today there are both luxury and budget resorts, cafes and stalls selling various handicrafts. Despite the increase in its popularity is still retains its relaxed charm. On arrival there is free time for an easy walk from the hotel down to the sheltered bay of Lighthouse beach. 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 19

    Free day or optional visit to Kanyakumari.

    A free day to enjoy the idyllic soft sandy beaches, warm clear waters and wide views of the ocean horizon that Kovalam has to offer. If you are keen on another sightseeing day then there is the option to travel down to Kanyakumari.  This is the end point of India where 3 oceans meet, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.  This small town is believed to be the abode of Kumari a Goddess who is supposed to have done penance here so that she could marry Shiva. Her temple Kumari Amman is a popular pilgrimage centre on the seashore.  On the way if it is open you will stop to visit the old wooden palace at Padmanabhapuram which was the capital city of the Hindu rulers of Travancore.  This is a marvellous building with fantastic woodcarvings, and there is the Hindu temple at Suchindran with its amazing stone carvings. This trip can be booked and paid for locally - please note it is a very long day and the road conditions are not very good. (See the Extra Expenses and spending money section of these trip notes for approximate prices.)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 20

    Fly to London.

    Those on the flight inclusive package will depart for London this morning, from Trivandrum airport, for the daytime flight back to London; Land Only arrangements will finish after check-out from the hotel.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

India

Visas are required if you are British and for most other nationalities. For UK residents full details of the visa process can be found here. Other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies.

If your trip visits Ladakh, in the very north of India, or Sikkim in the northeast, do not mention this on your Indian visa application. This can sometimes slow down or even cause the embassy to reject your visa.

When you reach immigration, you are required to pick up an immigration form. If you have an e-visa, ensure you stand in the correct queue - please follow the signs to the e-visa booth (in Delhi this is at the back of the immigration hall). You will need to fill out an additional form at the booth - please make sure that you have the details of your start hotel ready (these details can be found on your Final Joining Instructions).

 

Vaccinations

India

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. Some of our India trips spend time at altitude. In regions over approx. 2000m, there is low to no risk of mosquito-borne diseases. For trips going to altitudes of over 3000m there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please see the TRIP NOTES for further information.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner included.

The houseboat is full board. You should allow at least 1400 INR (approx. GBP£16, CAN$26, US$20, AUS$28) per day for lunch and dinner. You can eat out very cheaply in India, but if you go to the more expensive restaurants most of the time, you will spend more than the suggested amount. In most of the towns there is a good choice of restaurants and in some there are Indian and Western style foods available. If you are a vegetarian, India is probably one of the best destinations to travel to. Tea and soft drinks are very cheap. Please note that hotels (apart from 5-star hotels) and bars in Kerala are no longer allowed to sell alcohol but it is still possible to buy alcohol in government shops. Some hotels and restaurants are completely vegetarian and do not serve alcohol. Mineral water is widely available.

Weather

The most important feature of the Indian climate is the monsoon. The main monsoon strikes the coast of Kerala in late May and sweeps its way northward over the next month or so. The midsummer months are very hot in South India. The ideal time to visit is during the dry season from October to March, although there can be some rain in Tamil Nadu from October to early December. Days will be hot and the nights warm, the average range of maximum daytime temperatures being 20ºC - 30ºC and 6ºC - 20ºC at night. In Ooty the temperatures can be considerably cooler and you can expect temperatures to drop to a few degrees above zero at night in winter. Please note that swimming in the sea at Kovalam is not always possible, depending on recent weather conditions, however the hotel we use in Kovalam will always have a pool.

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 1 (Leisurely). Although this is not a demanding tour, it is a busy itinerary with lots to see. Traffic and road conditions can significantly increase estimated driving time, so you should be prepared for some early starts and long days. The times stated in the trip notes are actual driving times and do not include photo, tea, comfort or lunch stops.

Please note that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) are responsible for the conservation of many monuments in India and very occasionally this may mean that work is taking place at sites visited on this trip. The ASI’s schedule is never published so it is not possible to forewarn our clients of when work will be taking place.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels and houseboat

You will spend 17 nights in a mixture of comfortable and standard hotels and 1 night on a houseboat.

Hotels in India usually do not have heating as there are really only a couple of months in the year when the weather can be cooler.  You can however request more blankets or the hotel may be able to provide a standing heater for your room.  Please talk to your tour leader if you need help in this matter.  

The houseboats are comfortable and all rooms have toilet facilities. Each boat has 3 to 5 twin bedded rooms. The houseboat also benefits from a deck & dining area. The number of boats will vary depending on group size and availability. Customers should be aware that the gas water heaters used on all houseboats are open-flued systems, as used in many parts of India. While this complies with Indian law, it does not meet UK standards and therefore we must inform travellers that there is a risk (while minimal) of carbon monoxide emissions. We have asked our leaders to install a Carbon Monoxide alarm, and to brief your group about keeping their rooms ventilated at night (i.e. window open) to ensure sufficient air circulation. 

 

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed March 2020

    Awesome trip, feel close to nature

    Whenever I think about to travel, every time I think about South zone because of their diversity, culture, beauty and nature. Finally I decided to visit South Zone and trust me nothing can be better than this. You can get everything here like colonial hill stations, beautiful temples, relaxed lifestyle, extra-ordinary scenery and the best food in India.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Houseboat trip is the one.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Amazing
  • Reviewed March 2020

    Fall In Love With The Diversity, Celebrate The Heritage

    The Southern part of India is bursting to the seams with culture and vibrancy, and is appealing to any tourist looking to experience that particular facet of the country. This tour will give you a chunky bite out of some really magnificent pieces of history, still living and breathing in every nook and cranny (not to mention the heart of the people living generations upon generations, keeping the heritage basically unchanged).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Mysore Palace is a definite highlight - it is unlike any royal residence you will ever visit. By day it is a palatial Museum - by night, the entire palace lights up in spectacular glory.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Anna was wise beyond his years. I really loved his method of guiding. 4/5

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Drink sufficient liquids of this trip, since it can get quite exerting.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Simply enjoy the places you visit. Let the heritage engulf you. Be welcoming of the diversity you experience.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    A highly informative trip that covers three states in south Inddiaa

    The trip covers a significant part of south India; our bus covered 2,800 km. At times, the trip seems rather rushed with only one night stays in some locations. This said, our leader Santo certainly got the best for us. Street food, a variety of hotels, different languages, beautiful green countyside, fresh fruits and vegetables, food not too spicy when requested, fantastic elements of the trip spent on boats etc. Exodus, as always, had all angles covered and we were able to enjoy ourselves, especially the walks and boat trips with interesting wildlife to see.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The houseboat trip was the highlight for me, sadly only one night on the boat, could have extended this!!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Santo was excellent. I have never had a better tour leader. He is so well-informed and is great company. Without him, the trip could not have beeen so enjoyable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do cover all angles as far as power connectors are concerned. The variety of sockets in hotels is nothing short of mind boggling.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thr trip could benefit from one less location so that single night hotel stays are limited/avoided. The chances of catching sight of tiger are very slim indeed! The option to travel on the Miniature Blue Mountain railway was not offered. But, we did travel on a 1 metre guage railway.
  • Reviewed December 2019

    Mind Blowing Trip

    A completely enjoyable excursion which worked out as expected. We went out the way where we can see all the little "incidentals" which make the excursion, for example, tile making, rubber tapping, rice and spice plantations. The quality of the lodgings was amazing. On the off chance that you have three weeks to spare and need to see the highlights of South India, this is the excursion for you. Far reaching inclusion of the primary temples, royal residences, hill stations and different attractions of the area. Despite the fact that the excursion packs in every one of the sights, it didn't feel hurried and there is sufficient time left allowed to investigate without anyone else. South India appears to be substantially less frantic than the north and the food is astonishing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Backwaters in Alleppey.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Group leader was very nice and friendly.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Vicky Campbell

    Our outstanding tour leader made this trip special

    This was our first visit to India. The itinerary is excellent and provides a varied experience as shown in other reviews. Each day brought new sights, sounds and encounters, some of which will stay with us for ever. Although this is classed as a leisurely trip it is quite “full on” and tiring at times but the long travel days and early starts are necessary in order to cover the ground. Most of the hotels were good with helpful staff and safe, comfortable accommodation. All were well- located. We enjoyed the food ( some evening meals were eaten in the hotels, others in local restaurants).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Many of the places we visited obviously left a lasting impression. However, in terms of being inspirational, I think our encounters with local people were exactly that. We were privileged to have a number of opportunities to share some time with people who live very different lives, surely one of the reasons for travelling.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Suresh is absolutely first class. He is experienced and professional and from day one, showed that he genuinely wants everyone to gain from this trip. His love for the people of the country and his desire to show us as much as possible made the whole trip very special. Every day brought something extra which was not in the itinerary, nor could it be. Suresh was always on the look out for anything which would enable us to experience the real India. He would stop the bus, quickly check something out and usually would urge us to get off the bus. Our stop at a village where rope is made and our wedding encounter are examples of such diversions. Suresh is knowledgable and readily explained any issues raised by the group, some based on what we saw and at other times, historical matters. Most days, he would talk about where we were going whilst travelling on the bus so we were always prepared for the day. The bus driver, Mohan, was excellent. He was safe and confident and we were able to relax with him at the wheel. The assistant, Manu was also excellent and we were very well looked after.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Our “ bus” was comfortable. Some people did use their neck cushions on the longer travel days. There is a constant supply of drinking water on board so you can refill your bottle whenever you want to.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We enjoyed the company of our fellow travellers. The camaraderie was well established quite early on, partly due to the time spent together on the bus. In retrospect, we think this trip represents great value for money. We feel that by doing this trip, we have made useful contributions to local communities ; much of this is down to the positive way that Exodus operates but Suresh facilitated so much more.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Ruth Durbano

    Wonderful trip

    A wonderful experience, very varied with a generally good standard of hotels. Excellent guide, bus driver and helper.Fantastic places visited, which combined historic places,temples,Ashram,caves and nature reserves where we saw lots of birds and animals. Also had a little time free to soak up the feeling of the areas and of course some retail therapy, ending up at a beautiful seaside resort to relax for the final day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The beauty and tranquillity of the stay on the fabulous houseboat in the backwaters in Kerala, would have liked another night ! Also the whole experience of Mahabalipuram.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lukose was amazing, very knowledgeable, very helpful and always looking out for everyone.He went the extra mile on so many occasions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a full on trip with amazing sights,food and nature full of wildlife.Quite a few hotels don't have fridges,hairdryers or safe boxes in the rooms.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I wasn't over impressed with cookery demonstration. I could have done with a little more free time,but overall an absolutely brilliant holiday and experience.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    robert lacey

    south india

    Well i preferred the South generally to the north, but I felt there where to many Temples etc, and I would have preferred more time visiting farming families and being involved with the land more. This was my 1st coach holiday,and I found that quite tiring. Kerala waterways was lovely.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Kerala waterways. And the people.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good guide, cound'nt do enough for you to make you comfortable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a soft cushion. and be prepared for some long journeys.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I found the south more pleasing then the north, and although the trips where spread out it was a good way to see such a large area.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Geoffrey Leigh

    Chaos, colour and cacophony

    A full-on three weeks, travelling around 3,000km by road, rail and water in the three southern most states in India. The trip took in contrasting landscapes, languages, culture, religion, wildlife, history, heritage and daily life.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I think inspirational maybe a little too OTT. There were many times we were brought face to face with the complexity and seeming timelessness of many aspects of India - the way religion is part of the daily life of so many with temples, mosques and churches everywhere and well attended. The enormous gap between rich and poor. The hard work so many people carried out to earn a living and the number of people it took to perform a simple task, each one earning a small amount for a small task. Whereas we would have one person multi-tasking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    PK was fun and well organised. His English was sometimes confusing but not seriously so. He never became frayed even tho' there were times he was under pressure. and in the beginning dealing with a difficult situation.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do your homework beforehand! Look at the itinerary, buy a decent map and do some reading. Be prepared for seeing abject poverty. Try to keep an open mind.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Highly enjoyable three weeks. A really fun group we were with.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Joanna Birt

    Brilliant experience of Southern India

    Our first experience of India, what an unforgettable trip. Such a wide mix of history, culture & wildlife. A very busy 2 weeks, very little spare time, but so worth it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    On exiting Chennai airport the atmosphere hits you, the sights, the sounds & the aromas! (Of course the heat) So much poverty, the women bathing, & washing in the river was so moving but I felt like an intruder. At the other end of the spectrum Mysore Palace was amazing. Bandipur Tiger reserve was a brilliant experience despite no tiger making an experience, witnessing the wild life both at dawn & dusk. See elephants in the wild. Eating with the locals, trying local dishes, I loved it. The back water of Kerala just stunning!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam was a very good leader, excellent English, very knowledgable. He had a good sense of humour, was very helpful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it! Read the itinerary, & the trip notes. It is a full on tour, with a few very early starts & long days, but it’s all worth it. Not much time for relaxing. Timings our only a guide & are flexible
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Anne-Marie Robinson

    Fascinating trip

    This trip has an interesting and varied itinerary, with plenty of excellent cultural visits. There is quite a lot of travel involved, as stated in the trip notes, but it's a big country and there's loads to see....palaces, temples, nature reserves, tea plantations, markets, backwaters and beaches.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed the whole trip, but the highlight was the day and night spent on the backwaters in Alleppey. Just wonderful!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was outstanding. He was brilliantly organised, totally efficient, thoughtful, and charming. He made the trip a real pleasure to be on.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a lot of travel between places. If you don't like temples, don't do this trip!

Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros  Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros  Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros  Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

 Private Adventures 

Not found the date you’re looking for? We can organise this itinerary as a Private Adventure – just click on the tab above the list of dates and prices, let us know your preferred dates of travel and how many people are travelling, and we’ll do the rest!

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