Southern Splendours Tour
04 - 18 January 2022
Join us in exploring this beautiful part of India as we traverse from the eastern coast to the western coast over 14 nights. From massive temple spires to colonial settlements, from local artisans to performing arts, from serene coastal villages to fragrant spice plantations and from smiling faces to the delectable cuisine- this is a region where you are bound to lose your heart!
Once ruled by mighty kingdoms like the Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas, the southern states of India are today a reflection of the culture, religion and architecture of that glorious past. Protected by the Vindhya mountain, the region remained uninfluenced by the northern kingdoms and thereby maintained its uniqueness.
This tour is led personally by Bindu Lall, owner of Jasmine Trails. Accommodation has been carefully selected to give you the best experience in each location. It is a mix of luxury resorts, heritage hotels, 4-star properties and a simpler accommodation at one city.
The safety and good health of our clients is our highest priority:
As much as we’d like to have you over, we will operate the tour only if travel advisories of your country and of India permit it and if travel seems safe in our judgement.
Our protocols for ensuring proper hygiene, sanitizing and health safety for not just clients but our team members are in place. Our team members and vendor staff members will practice such protocols during all interaction with clients throughout the tour. Hotels have also implemented hygiene and safety measures in all areas like rooms, lobbies, kitchens, restaurants, spas etc.
We are also limiting our group size to 8-10 participants also makes it easier to maintain these hygiene and health safety standards while enjoying the company of like minded travelers. Additionally we have introduced a wireless tour guide system with personal headsets for each traveler, that allows social distancing at sites without missing a single word your guide speaks.
Why you'll love this tour
- Tour led by Jasmine Trails’ owner Bindu Lall and accompanied by local expert guide
- Small group of 8-10 people
- 14 nights easy paced tour with time to explore as well as unwind
- Immersive and experiential tour that takes you to all major sites as well as off-beat places.
- Discover the splendid architecture, temple towns, history and traditions of Tamil Nadu and then move on to Kerala with its verdant landscapes and fascinating history of international trade and cultural interaction. Get to know all about the Jewish heritage here.
- Visit talented craftspeople at work who keep traditional arts alive
- Learn about exotic spices in a guided walk through a spice garden
- A day cruise in a houseboat on the placid, palm fringed backwaters
- Soft trek in the jungles of Thekaddy with an expert naturalist
- Watch a martial arts performance as well as a masked dance performance
…the list is endless.
Contact us for further details
What the tour looks like
Excluding your day of arrival, we have a full day in this modern but historically rich city. Visit the colorful and vibrant Kapaleeshwar temple where you will get your first introduction to temple architecture. Orientation drive to see the various historic buildings from the colonial era.
On the drive to Pondicherry we stop to marvel at monolithic stone chariots, rock cut temples and sculptural panels in the seaside village of Mamallapuram.
Pondicherry stands apart from the rest of India for its distinct fusion of Tamil and French cultures. Walking tour of French neighbourhood and Tamil town as well as the ashram of Aurobindo, the 20th Century seer and prophet.
Embark on temple visits that will leave you astounded. The off-beat Gangaikoda Cholapuram and Darasuram temples are not to be missed. In Tanjore visit the famous Chola temple of Brahadeswarar – the colossal, timeless edifice is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A fantastic collection of Chola bronzes awaits us at the Palace museum.
This region is famous for silk sarees and bronze casting, both of which we will learn more about at interactive visits with artisans.
The Meenakshi temple spread over 6 hectares, will astound you due to its sheer size, sculptures and religious rituals that still continue inside. Also visit the Thirumalai Nayak palace, built in 1636. Its massive columns and rich ornamentation is impressive indeed. The busy flower market with its incredible variety of flowers is a colourful photo opportunity.
Into the greenery of the rolling hills and crisp fresh air of Thekkady. Here we enjoy a guided walk through a spice garden, a soft trek through the jungles of the Periyar wildlife reserve where a naturalist will introduce the flora and birdlife of the region to us. A Kalari Payattu performance of a traditional and ancient martial art will keep you on the edge of your seats.
Enjoy a relaxing and interesting day cruise through backwaters on Kettuvalloms or Houseboats. In Kumarakom there will be time to enjoy Ayurveda treatments and massages, which Kerala is so famous for. Rest, rejuvenate and take part in the activities that the resort offers.
Visit a village to see local life up-close. Meet and interact with people who practice different professions like coir-making, coconut harvesting etc. Enjoy the rural and rustic atmosphere and smiling faces which will greet you.
We also visit several highlights in Kochi such as the St. Francis Church which was originally dedicated to Santo Antonio, patron saint of Portugal, the 14th-15th century cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that still are being used, the Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese and the Jewish Synagogue in ‘Jew Town’.
We have a traditional Kathakali dance performance lined up for you. The masked dance is performed by men playing all roles and narrates mythological stories.
Farewell dinner is in a specialty restaurant. Tomorrow morning/Late tonight you will be transferred to the airport for your international flight from Kochi.
We have just returned from the holiday of a lifetime with Bindu leading our tour through southern India. The professionalism with which Bindu had organised every aspect of our trip, meant that we could relax and enjoy all the experiences we shared. We stayed in beautiful, eco friendly hotels whilst travelling in great comfort. Local guides enlightened us on the temples and sites visited. Our itinerary was thoughtfully planned, balanced and inspirational. Bindu was an excellent tour guide, charming, calm and very considerate. We cannot recommend Jasmine Trails highly enough and are already saving for our next trip with Bindu.
Littlue and Peter Smith
Southern Splendours, January 2020
My husband and I had a wonderful experience traveling to South India with Bindu Lall, our trip organizer. We can’t imagine an excursion more carefully planned, scheduled and carried out than the one Bindu put together for our small group. We visited a stimulating variety of temples, historical properties, nature preserves and demonstrations of local crafts. In addition to her professionalism, Bindu was always charming and fun at group meals, which were all first rate. Indeed, we felt spoiled by the sumptuous array of choices at meals and top accommodations at the variety of hotels we enjoyed. In short: we always felt safe, secure and well informed under Bindu’s watchful eye.
Karen Moss and Dennis Livingston
Southern Splendours, January 2020
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Image Credits: We are grateful to our friends who so generously allow us to use their photos on our website.
On this page, by Barbara Coombs Gaskin: Man sitting under the banyan tree, Kathakali dancer with painted face and headdress, Garuda sculpture with parakeets, priest praying with a plate of offerings. See more of her work at https://barbaragaskinphotography.com/