Stride climate

Trip Type : N/A
South India tour

South India

Great Value Vacations
4.3 . Great
93%
Travel Style: A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
12 days
From: $ 2,501 $ 208 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

  • Enjoy sightseeing tours lead by local experts through each region.
  • Witness a traditional ceremony while visiting one of India's most iconic temples.
  • Make sure to pick up a souvenir while wandering through India's many colorful and enchanting markets.
  • From the savory Masala dosa to the subtle sweetness of banana curry, indulge in the flavors of India.
  • Go out with a bang and enjoy a traditional Indian show on your last night, including actors, elaborate costumes, song, and dance.

Short Description

Explore magnificent temples, tour spice markets and bazaars, and get a taste of the local cuisine on this exciting 11-night adventure through southern India. Your travel and hotels are taken care of, so all you have to do is go along for the ride, and snap plenty of photos of course!

Trip Type N/A
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport Airfare included
Start City Mahabalipuram
End City Cochin

Trip Includes

  • Round-trip economy class airfare into Chennai (MAA), out of Cochin (COK)
  • All airport and inter-city transfers
  • 2 nights in Mahabalipuram at MGM Beach Resort, or similar
  • Afternoon sightseeing tour of Mahabalipuram
  • 1 night in Pondicherry at Hotel Atithi, or similar
  • City tour of Pondicherry with Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville
  • 2 nights in Tanjore at Sangam Hotel, or similar
  • Sightseeing tour of Tanjore with Brihadeeswara Temple
  • Tour to Trichy with Rock Fort and the Island of Srirangam
  • 2 nights in Madurai at Poppys Hotel, or similar
  • Sightseeing tour of Madurai
  • Aarti Ceremony at temple in Madurai
  • 2 nights in Periyar at Mountain Courtyard Hotel, or similar
  • Sightseeing tour of Periyar with boat ride on the lake and visit to the spice plantation
  • 1 night in Kumarakom at Abad Whispering Palm, or similar
  • 1 night in Cochin at Casino Hotel, or similar
  • Sightseeing tour of Cochin with Mattancherry with Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue, and St. Francis Church
  • Kathkali dance show
  • Breakfast daily

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Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Chennai!

Arrive in Chennai airport (MAA) where you'll be met and transferred to your first hotel. Get ready to begin your South India adventure!

A Tip For Your Trip: The transfer from Chennai Airport to your Mahabalipuram hotel is approximately 2 hours. Please be mindful of this when selecting your flight schedule.

Transfer to Mahablipuram hotel

Day 2: Mahabalipuram

Today after breakfast, embark on an extensive sightseeing tour of Mahabalipuram.

Sightseeing tour of Mahabalipuram

Explore the highlights of Mahabalipuram during your sightseeing tour today! You'll see the city's most iconic structure, including the Arjuna's Penance, also known as the Descent of the Ganga. This open-air rock relief is the world's largest bas-relief, measuring at 764 feet by 288 feet. The legend depicted on these two monolithic rocks tells the story of the river Ganges to earth from the heavens. It is a beautiful composition of hundreds of celestial beings, human and animals all hurrying to a natural rock cleft that divides the giant stone.

You'll also have the chance to see the city's most famous landmark, the Shore Temple, which has stood by the sea for 12 centuries. Its twin spires are pure poetry in granite. Other highlights of this tour include the mandapams, caves scooped from a hillside of solid rock and ornamented with pillars, sculpted with panels and rathams (monolithic rock-cut shrines) that have inspired generations of South Indian temple-builders.

Day 3: Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry

This morning after breakfast, you'll drive to Pondicherry, India's former largest French colony, where you can still see remnants of its French influence today.

Unwind, then embark on your Pondicherry city tour! After the tour, explore the rest of the city at leisure; why not pop over to the city's popular market and pick up a snack or souvenir?

Transfer to Pondicherry hotel

City tour of Pondicherry with Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville

Explore historic quarters, centers of solitude, and diverse living communities on this interesting city tour! Known as The French Riviera of the East, Pondicherry manages to retain evidence of its past as India's largest French colony.

Learn more about the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville. The Ashra was founded by a revolutionist-turned-poet and his Parisian-born painter mother as a center for yoga, meditation, and inner development. Experience Auroville, a community like no other. Envisioned as a town where humans with varying nationalities, faiths, and beliefs living together in peace and harmony. Here you'll find citizens from over 30 different countries living together to explore cultural, educational, scientific, and spiritual pursuits.

Don't forget to stop by the Meditation Hall, home to the world's biggest man-made crystal ball!

Day 4: Pondicherry - Tanjore

After breakfast, enjoy a drive over to your next destination: Tanjore. Unwind at your hotel, then head off on your special sightseeing tour!

Transfer to Tanjore hotel

Sightseeing Tour of Tanjore with Brihadeeswara Temple

Thanjavur, formerly Tanjore, is an important center of South Indian religion, art, and architecture. See some of its most famous icons on your sightseeing tour today. Pass by the famous for the Brihadeeswara Temple, with its massive towers, standing over 90 feet high and sculpted with breathtaking detail and intricacy.

The towers lead to a vast courtyard in which the main temple stands guarded by two sentries, carved out of single stones. Facing the sanctum is a nandi (bull), Shiva’s favorite vehicle. The corridors around the sanctum have many sculptures as well as Chola frescoes which were recently discovered.

The Palace and the remains of the fort that surround it can still be visited. Members of the former royal family of Thanjavur still occupy some apartments in the inner recesses but the Palace is now mainly used as an art gallery.

Day 5: Tanjore

After breakfast, it's time for your day-trip to Trichy, including a visit to the Island of Srirangam!

Tour to Trichy with Rock Fort and the Island of Srirangam

Discover Trichy, a historical town former capital of the Chola rulers. You'll visit the Rock Fort which dominates the landscape, standing at 300 high, which dominates the landscape. Climb to the top and enjoy sweepign views of the city below!

You'll then pay a visit to the Island of Srirangam across the River Kaveri - 3 miles away. Explore the temple here, which is practically a town in itself with several residential streets within its 1 square mile.

Day 6: Tanjore - Madurai

Today you will head to Madurai, India's ancient home of culture. Your sightseeing tour is tomorrow, so today you can spend the day exploring at leisure; perhaps you'd like to stop by the Gandhi Museum and Memorial, or head to a local market to find a souvenir or something to snack on.

Transfer to Madurai hotel

Day 7: Madurai

Today is your sightseeing tour of Madurai - make sure your camera is charged and ready to go!

In the evening, you'll have the chance to witness the special Aarti Ceremony at the temple.

Sightseeing tour of Madurai Including Sri Meenakshi Temple & Thirumalai Nayaka Palace

Explore Madurai and discover why it's known as "the Temple City." Although it served as the former capital of the Pandya Kingdom, it was during the reign of the Nayaks (10th - 18th century) that the city's most iconic structure was built: the magnificent Meenakshi Temple. Legend has it that if you place a literary work in the tank of this temple, it will determine if it is worthy or not: if it sinks it is worthless. If floats; worthy!

Visit the magnificent Sri Meenakshi Temple, which is the abode of the triple-breasted, fish-eyed Goddess Meenakshi Amman ("fish-eyed" is an adjective for perfect eyes in classical Tamil poetry) and considered by many to be the height of South Indian temple architecture. It’s not so much a temple as a 15-acre complex enclosed by 12 Gopurams, the highest of which towers 170 feet over Madurai, and all of which are carved with a staggering array of gods, goddesses, demons, and heroes.

Also visit the elegant Thirumalai Nayaka Palace. Built in 1636 in the Indo Mughal style, its 15 domes and arches are adorned with stucco work. Its Celestial Pavilion, an octagonal structure, is curiously constructed in brick and mortar without supporting rafters.

Aarti ceremony at a local temple

Often called the "ceremony of light," Aarti is one of the most important and popular ceremonies of the Hindu faith. The prayerful ceremony involves waving lighted wicks before the sacred images to infuse the flames with the Deities’ love, energy and blessings. It is performed by sadhus (Hindu monks) and pujaris (attendants to the Deities).

Day 8: Madurai - Periyar

Today you head to Periyar park and sanctuary. On your way you'll drive through Thekkady, which will enchant you as the road winds through tranquil countryside, rich plantations, and thick jungles.

Transfer to Periyar hotel

Day 9: Periyar

Another lovely day in South India. First breakfast, then enjoy your Periyar tour today, including a boat ride and visit to a spice plantation!

Sightseeing tour of Periyar

Your morning starts with a scenic boat ride on Lake Periyar, where you can observe the region's wildlife and water birds! Perhaps you'll encounter elephants bathing or a herd of bison nearby. You can spot the spotted and sambhar deer as well.

Later in the day you'll enjoy an adventure for all the senses as you visit the spice plantation in in Thekkady, one of the major spice plantations in Kerala. The spice plantations in Kerala are captivating farms to wander in, since different spices are cultivated in different sections of each plantation.

Day 10: Periyar - Kumarakom

Breakfast starts early today! Enjoy your meal, then begin the drive to your next destination, which lies on the eastern shore of the Vembanad Lake bird sanctuary. This region is home to waterfowl, cuckoo, and wild duck.

Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure; why not treat yourself to an authentic South Indian meal? Unlike many areas of India, the region of Kerala is known for its abundance of meat and seafood, from chicken to king prawns!

Transfer to Kumarakom hotel

Day 11: Kumarakom - Cochin

Today after breakfast you will head to Cochin, a natural harbor built by the Portuguese with lagoons, canals, and fishing hamlets! Enjoy a sightseeing tour in this port city.

In the evening, enjoy a Kathakali dance show - an amazing way to spend your last night in South India!

Transfer to Cochin hotel

Sightseeing tour of Cochin

Your Cochin sightseeing adventure starts with a visit to the Mattancherry Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese in the year 1555 and renovated by the Dutch in 1663. In the ancient rooms are 17th century murals that relate in vibrant color the story of the epic Ramayana.

The next leg of your tour takes you to a Jewish Synagogue, followed by St. Francis Church, the oldest European Church in India. You'll also see the Chinese Fishing Nets, along the tip of Fort Cochin. These nets are unique to this part of Kerala and symbolize the centuries-old Chinese influence on this coast.

Kathkali Dance Show

Experience a form of classical Indian dance with your included Kathkali show! This story-based form of art features elaborate costumes, makeup, and masked dancers. Traditional themes of the shows focus around local mythology, legends, and spiritual ideas from Hindu stories.

While traditionally the performers of these shows have been all male, modern compositions feature female performers as well.

Day 12: Depart India

Enjoy a transfer to the airport in accordance with your departure flight home.

Transfer to Cochin airport (COK)

Fly home!

Availability

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Price Per Day: $ 208 per day
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6,665 Great Value Vacations Travel Reviews & Ratings

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4.3 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 3,962
Great 1,549
Average 688
Disappointing 255
Terrible 210
Value
4.3
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4.3
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4.3
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4.3
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4.3
Meals
4.3

South India

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The customer service was excellent

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
When I booked with Great Value I was nervous because it seemed too good to be true. Nope, just a really great deal. I was able to take my dream trip to Ireland and Scotland and it was within my budget. Everything was covered, my lodging, flights, and rental car. There was no hidden fees, or fine print that would nickel and dime me later on, as "good deals" usually have. I also had to change the date of my trip and the customer service was excellent and this change was simple. Thank you Great Value, I'll be using you every time I travel from now on
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Everything on the trip was excellent.

5.0
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Value5.0
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Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
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Everything on the trip was excellent. The only concern with any services from GVV was initial communications ahead of the trip regarding when and how we'd receive all our travel vouchers, as some were available online, and some were to be picked up in country upon arrival. It took no less than 5 phone calls to learn some vouchers would be picked up in country. The trip was outstanding, exhausting, but gloriously beautiful. It was exhausting from the perspective of moving around the country and only a few places were 2 nights. But, we knew that going in, and we wanted to see ALL of Switzerland and this certainly checked those boxes. We saw majestic mountains, we saw countless waterfalls and glaciers. The trains in Switzerland were all clean and we felt safe. The hotels were good with delicious breakfasts each morning. Overall, I would recommend GVV to a friend or family member and I would personally book another vacation with GVV.
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Our trip was amazing!

5.0
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Value5.0
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Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
This was my first time planning a trip out of the country. I read previous reviews who had a good experience with Great Value Vacation. Our trip was amazing! The booking and reservations were easy to use with the vouchers provided. The staff was helpful. The only downside was I upgraded to have an automatic vehicle and they gave me a stick shift. It took a while to get sorted out but other than that I loved my trip! I will definitely use great value vacations again when I book my next trip. I opted for the additional wine tasting package and I did not regret it! I recommend adding those additional tours to get a more complete experience.
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Great customer service

5.0
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Value5.0
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Activities5.0
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Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
My wife and I recently booked our vacation through Great Value Vacations. We were a bit nervous to travel to Europe for the first time, but we are glad we did. Great Value Vacations took care of us. Great customer service. Seamless transactions. They booked the hotels and flights for us. All we had to worry about were the daily activities! I would highly recommended them. The hotels offered through the package were as advertised: nice and in great locations. The flights times were also convenient. The best part was the price. I am thankful for the experiences Great Value Vacation was able to provide for us!
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Really enjoyed both of my trips

5.0
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Guide5.0
Activities5.0
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Really enjoyed both of my trips through Great Value Vacations. I went on one family trip to Ireland (Adare villa, rental car with trips out to Dublin, Cliffs of Moher and more) . The villa was very comfortable with a kitchen, three bedrooms, and proximity to the local shops /restaurants. We were able to upgrade to an automatic car and had fun navigating to each location on our itinerary. The trip as planned by the agency still leaves time for exploring on your own and since we picked a trip with our own transportation, we had flexibility on which tours we wanted to do and when.

My second trip was a solo trip to Scotland. I like to go on vacation by myself sometimes, but it can be hard to find ones where you aren’t penalized for being on your own. This train trip to Edinburgh, Inverness, and Glasgow worked out really well for me. The hotels were all near the train stations and in safe areas (good lighting, plenty of people, etc.). I got a good mix of options for sightseeing in each city. The hop-on, hop-off bus circuit was especially useful for getting around Edinburgh. I also added an extra tour on in Glasgow to see nearby castles and a distillery and was very glad to have done so as the views of the countryside were amazing!

Summary: Have enjoyed my previous experiences and would definitely use again
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Above and beyond our expectations

5.0
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Value5.0
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Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Just got back from our trip to Italy booked through Great Value Vacations & was our dream come true! We could not have gone if it were not for their unbelievable rates. Each 4 Star Villa we stayed at was above and beyond our expectations...I cried after leaving each part of our journey. I am so glad I took a leap of faith and would HIGHLY RECOMMEND booking with them. Besides the Villas being beautiful, great locations, clean, and great staff; each place we arrived at actually said, "They said to give you a very nice room." (with a rate of just under $1,900 a piece for 9 nights not counting travel days at 4 stars Villas in Rome, Tuscany, & Venice including airfare and rent a car... a few friends told us to expect the worst rooms at the places we were staying ~ NOT the case! Our rooms had the best views...I could go on and on. Every step of the way was smooth with no worries whatsoever. Thanks again GVV! LOVED IT!
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Details

Flights & Transport

Airfare included

Group Size:

Intimate Group - 12 max

Accomodations

  • MGM Beach Resorts
  • Sangam Hotel
  • Whispering Palms Kumarakom
  • Casino Hotel
  • The Mountain Courtyard Thekkady
  • Poppys Hotel
  • Hotel Atithi

Trip ID#:

greatvaluevacations-PK-GC4P-SH-SI-MAA

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