11 Days Highlights of South India Tour

meenakshi temple madurai

Tour Overview

Explore the vibrant tapestry of South India on this 11-day journey that begins in Cochin, a city steeped in history and culture. Immerse yourself in the legacy of the past as you visit landmarks like St. Francis Church, the oldest European-built church in India, and the Jewish Synagogue adorned with intricate decor. Discover the Dutch Palace, a testament to architectural evolution, and witness the iconic Chinese Fishing Nets that add charm to the coastline. Engage in the enthralling artistry of Kathakali Dance Drama, a captivating display of storytelling through dance. Embark on a serene houseboat journey through the famed Kerala backwaters, experiencing the timeless traditions of Kettuvallom sailing.

Proceed to Periyar, where you’ll delve into the tribal life of the region, bathe and feed elephants, and traverse aromatic spice gardens that reveal the secret treasures of nature. In Madurai, witness the fascinating ceremony at Meenakshi Temple, an architectural marvel that stands as a testament to the artistry of Dravidian architecture. Journey to Trichy to explore the magnificent Rock Fort Temple and the colossal Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, among the largest in India. Continue to Mahabalipuram, a treasure trove of ancient art, and be awed by Arjuna’s Penance and the Shore Temple’s captivating sculptures.

Conclude your voyage in Chennai, where the Santhome Cathedral Church, Marina Beach, and Fort St. George await your exploration. Experience the essence of South India’s rich history, spirituality, and breathtaking landscapes on this unforgettable odyssey.

Duration:  11 days / 10 Nights

Places:  Cochin > Madurai > Tanjore > Trichy > Mahabalipuram > Chennai

11 Days Highlights of South India Tour from Cochin

Destinations Covered

Cochin: A city with a rich past and vibrant present, Cochin is often referred to as the “Queen of the Arabian Sea” and the “Venice of the Orient.” Its historical significance is evident in landmarks like St. Francis Church, which holds the legacy of Vasco da Gama, and the Jewish Synagogue adorned with exquisite decorations. The Dutch Palace stands as a symbol of architectural evolution, and the iconic Chinese Fishing Nets add a touch of quaint charm to the coastline. A Kathakali Dance Drama immerses visitors in the captivating world of traditional storytelling through dance.

Munnar: Nestled amidst sprawling tea gardens, Munnar is a popular hill station known for its breathtaking landscapes. The tea estates form a lush backdrop as you explore attractions like the Mettupatty Dam, Echo Point, and Kundala Lake, offering a serene escape into nature’s beauty.

Kumarakom: Set against the picturesque Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom entices with its exotic resort and tranquil waters cruise through the renowned backwaters of Kerala. This enchanting location offers a unique experience of the region’s natural beauty.

Alleppey: With a blend of scenic beauty and cultural experiences, Alleppey is a gateway to the captivating Kerala backwaters. Embark on a houseboat journey through the canals and coir villages, immersing yourself in the region’s unique way of life.

Periyar: Surrounded by lush greenery, Periyar offers a glimpse into the tribal life of the region. Engage with elephants at an elephant camp, explore spice plantations, and discover the aromatic treasures that make Kerala’s spices famous.

Madurai: Revered for its architectural marvels, Madurai boasts the magnificent Meenakshi Temple, a 2000-year-old Dravidian masterpiece. The Tirumalai Nayak Mahal presents a splendid example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, while the evening ceremony at the temple is a captivating spectacle.

Tanjore: Tanjore’s Brihadeshwara Temple and Fort showcase the grandeur of Chola architecture. The temple’s towering structure and intricate carvings are awe-inspiring, while the fort’s rich history adds to the allure of the region.

Trichy: Trichy’s Rock Fort Temple perched atop an 83-meter-high outcrop offers panoramic views and an insight into the region’s spiritual significance. The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, known for its elaborate architecture, stands as a testament to the city’s historical and religious heritage.

Mahabalipuram: Mahabalipuram is a treasure trove of ancient art and architecture. Arjuna’s Penance, a masterpiece carved into a rock, and the Shore Temple, adorned with intricate sculptures, showcase the artistic achievements of ancient India.

Chennai: The vibrant city of Chennai is steeped in culture and history. The Santhome Cathedral Church, the Marina Beach, and Fort St. George offer glimpses into the city’s colonial past and spiritual significance. The city’s bustling atmosphere blends seamlessly with its rich heritage.

This tour provides a comprehensive journey through South India’s iconic destinations, each offering a unique blend of history, spirituality, and natural beauty. From the coastal charm of Cochin to the artistic wonders of Mahabalipuram, and the cultural experiences in between, this itinerary promises an unforgettable exploration of the region’s diverse facets.

Detailed Tour Plan


Arrive Cochin. Cochin has been variously hailed as Queen of the Arabian Sea, Venice of Orient, etc. Some choose to call it simply a museum city for its rich past and colorful present.


On arrival, transfer to the hotel (Rooms will be available from 1200 hrs)

Overnight at the hotel

DAY 02:  COCHIN       

Today enjoy the city tour, which includes the visit to the following:

St. Francis ChurchSt. Francis Church: 

It is the oldest church built by Europeans in India. On his 3rd visit to Kerala, Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese trader who reached India from Europe by sea, fell ill and died in Kochi. He was buried in the St. Francis Church. Later his remains were taken back to Portugal. In spite of that, his burial spot inside the church has been clearly marked out.

Jewish-Synagogue-CochinJewish Synagogue: 

The synagogue, built in 1568, is magnificently decorated by Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. It is located near the Dutch Palace in Mattancherry.

Mattancherry Dutch Palace

Note: It remains closed on Fridays and Saturdays. Timings for the visit: 0900 hrs to 1200 hrs and from 1500 hrs to 1700 hrs.

Dutch Palace: 

The Dutch Palace was originally built by the Portuguese. Later, in 17th century, the Dutch modified it and presented it to the Raja of Kochi.

Mattancherry Dutch PalaceCoronation of many Rajas of Kochi were held here. The palace has a fine collection of mural paintings depicting scenes from the Hindu epics Mahabharatha and Ramayana. The palace is located in Mattancherry.

Note: It remains closed on Fridays. Timings for the visit: 1000 hrs to 1700 hrs.

Chinese Fishing Nets:

The Chinese fishing nets (Cheenavala) are distinctly unique to Cochin. It is believed that traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan introduced these nets here. Oddly, these nets are found only in Kochi, outside China! Many fishermen earn their livelihood by fishing using these massive nets. A whole stretch of the coast along Fort Kochi and Vypeen are dotted with these nets.

Kochi chinese fishnets

In the evening enthrall yourself with a special presentation of the colorfully costumed Kathakali Dance Drama in a local theater. Kathakali is a traditional dance form of Kerala and the impressive facial expressions, hand gestures and dance moves will leave one spellbound.


Overnight at the hotel

DAY 03: COCHIN – BACKWATERS (65 Kms /01 hr 30 min)           

After breakfast,drive to the jetty to board House-boat (Kettuvallom) on the World famous Backwaters of Kerala.


“Kettu” literally means to tie up and “Vallom” means ” boats”. The boats played a major role in the economic development of ancient Kerala, moving cargo and men from the very nook and corner of otherwise unreachable area, cutting across the length and breadth of the land.

Overnight on Houseboat


After breakfast on the rice boat (Kettuvallom) get down at jetty and drive to Periyar. On arrival in Periyar, transfer to hotel.

tribal village periyar

Later drive to a tribal village. This will be a very nice and interesting 01 hour visit whereby the clients will be able to observe the lifestyle of the Tribals from close quarters.

Elephant Camp periyar

After the visit, drive to an Elephant Camp where we will organize elephant bathing and elephant feeding. We will also organize a 30 min Elephant ride. After visiting Elephant Camp, visit a Spice Plantation.

Spice Plantation Periyar Spice Plantation Periyar

You will walk through the aromatic spice gardens where the air is laden with the fragrance of nature’s bounty. Spices can be defined as “aromatic substances of vegetable origin, used for Flavoring food or as a preservative.” Many spices are also known to have medicinal value, for instance turmeric is a known anti-oxidant and curry leaf can control and prevent diabetes.

The spice plantations of Kerala are fascinating farms to wander in, for different sections of each plantation are dedicated to different spices. Apart from spices traditionally grown in India such as pepper, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom farmers in Kerala have taken to growing spices that are used worldwide. Some of the spices cultivated in spice plantations are vanilla, oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, bay leaf and sage.

Overnight at the Hotel

DAY 05:         PERIYAR – MADURAI        (160 Kms /4 hr 30 min)

After breakfast, drive to Madurai. On arrival in Madurai, transfer to hotel and check in

meenakshi temple madurai

In the evening, visit the Meenakshi Temple to attend the evening ceremony known as ‘Bedtime of the God’. A colorful procession, in which the image of Shiva is carried accompanied by musicians, temple singers and priests from his shrine. Enroute Shiva visits the other deities before entering Parvati’s (Meenakshi) temple to sleep with her for the night. This ceremony is worth witnessing.

Bedtime of the God

Overnight at the hotel

DAY 06:  MADURAI    

After breakfast, enjoy the city tour of Madurai, which includes the visit to the following:

Meenakshi Temple:

meenakshi temple madurai 1

This temple is nearly 2000 years old placed in the heart of the old town – a splendid example of Dravidian architecture. The present temple was designed in 1560 by Vishwanatha Nayak and subsequently built during the reign of Tirumalai Nayak.

Meenakshi TempleThere are four entrances to the temple with an area of six hectares. Each of its 12 towers has the height of 45 to 50 meters. The Potrama Raikulam or the Golden Lotus Tank is the place where the Tamil literacy society, called Sangam used to meet to decide the merits of the work presented to them. The temple museum has 985 richly carved pillars and each one surpasses the other in beauty.

Note: Meenakshi Temple remains closed from 1200 hrs till 1530 hrs.

Thirumalai Nayak MahalTirumalai Nayak Mahal:

This Indo-Saracenic building was constructed in 1523 and was originally four times large are today. Sound and light show on the life of the Tirumalai Nayak and the story of the Silapathikaram are conduced daily.

Overnight at the hotel

DAY 07:  MADURAI – TANJORE -TRICHY  ( 130 Kms / 04 hr)

After breakfast, drive to Trichy. Enroute visit Tanjore.


Brihadeshwara Temple & Fort:

Built by great Chola king in the 10th century it is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed in world heritage. On the top of the apex of 63 metres high, a dome is said to be constructed from a single piece of granite, weighing an estimated 81 tones. The dome was hauled into place along a 6 km earthwork ramp in a manner similar to the one used by the Egyptian Pyramids. The temple has been the sense of continuous worship for over thousand years. Only Hindus are allowed inside.

Note: Brihadeshwara Temple remains closed from 1200 to 1600 hrs.

Later continue your drive to Trichy. On arrival in Trichy, transfer to hotel.

Overnight at the hotel

DAY 08:  TRICHY – MAHABALIPURAM ( 265 Kms / 06 hrs) 

After breakfast,visit of the following-

Rock Fort TempleRock Fort Temple:

The temple tops an 83m high outcrop. This smooth rock was first hewn by the Pallavas who cut small cave temples into the southern face, but it was the Nayakas who made use of its naturally climb up the 437 steps cut into the stone to the top but well worth it for the views. Non-Hindus are not allowed into the Vinayaka Temple at the summit nor did the bigger Sri Thayumanaswamy Temple dedicate to Siva, halfway up. Occasionally temple priest waive this regulation.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple:

This superb temple complex at Srirangam, about three km from the Rock Fort, is surrounded by seven concentric walls with 21 gopurams and is probably the largest in India. Most of it dates from the 14th to 17th centuries, and many people have had a hand in its construction, including the Cheras, Pandyas, Cholas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagars. The largest gopuram in the first wall on the southern side was completed as recently as 1987 and now measures an astounding 73m.  The temple complex is very well preserved, with excellent carvings throughout and numerous shrines to various gods, though the main temple is dedicated to Vishnu. Even the Muslims are said to have prayed here after the fall of Vijayanagar Empire.

Note: Temples remains closed from 1200 hrs till 1500 hrs.

After the sightseeing, drive to Mahabalipuram. On arrival, transfer to hotel

Overnight at the hotel

DAY 09:  MAHABALIPURAM           

After breakfast, enjoy the sightseeing of Mahabalipuram, which includes the following-

arjuna's penance mahabalipuram

Arjuna’s Penance :

Carved in relief on the face of a huge rock, Arjuna’s Penance is the mythical story of the River Ganges issuing from its source high in the Himalaya . the panel depicts animal animals, deities and other semi-divine creatures, fable from the Panchatantra, and Arjuna doing a penance to obtain a boon from Siva.

Shore Temple

Shore Temple:

This beautiful and romantic temple, ravaged by wind and sea, represents the final phase of Pallavas art and was built in the late 7th century during the reign of Rajasimha. It is believed that at one point in time there were seven such temples, six of them were victims to the natural elements of erosion. This temple has three shrines; one dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the other two to Lord Shiva. The frothy waves form a striking backdrop to the temple, protected by rows of rock-carved bulls. The most unique feature of the temple is that it houses shrines to both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.

krishna mandapam mahabalipuram


There are eight mandapams (shallow, rock-cut halls) scattered over the main hill, two of which have been left unfinished. They are mainly of interest for their internal figure sculptures. One of the earliest rock-cut temples is the Krishna Mandapam. It features carvings of a pastoral scene showing Krishna lifting up the Govardhana Mountain to protect his kinsfolk from the wrath of

Indra. On the hill rests a dangerously balanced boulder named Krishna’s Butterball after his legendary affinity for fresh butter.

rathasmahabalipuramFive Rathas

These are the architectural prototypes of all Dravidian temples, demonstrating the imposing gopurams and Vimanas; multi pillared halls and sculptured walls, which dominate the landscape of Tamil Nadu.

Rest of the day is free to relax on beach.

Overnight at the hotel

DAY 10:  MAHABALIPURAM – CHENNAI (55 Kms /01 hr)    

After breakfast, drive to Chennai. On arrival in Chennai, transfer to the hotel.

Later enjoy the visit to the following:

Santhome Cathedral ChurchThe Santhome Cathedral Church:

The Santhome Cathedral Church built in 1504, then rebuilt in neo-Gothic style in 1893, this Roman Catholic Church near Kapaleeshwarar temple is said to house the remains of St. Thomas the Apostle.

marina beach chennaiMarina Beach:

The stretch of beach known as the Marina extends for 13km. South of the pitiful aquarium is the Ice House, once used to store massive ice blocks transported by ship from North America. It later became the venue from which Vivekananda preached his ascetic philosophy.

kapaleeswarar temple chennaiKapaleeswarar:

Kapaleeswarar, an ancient Shiva temple, is the biggest temple in Chennai. A masterpiece of Dravidian style and displays the architectural elements – gopurams, mandapams and a tank. There are some fragmentary inscriptions dating back to 1250 AD.

fort st. george chennaiFort St. George & Museum:

St. George fort was built by the British East India Company. the fort was built in 1640 AD, under the direct supervision of Francis Day and Andrew Cogon. Today it is used as an office of Tamil Nadu Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly. The fort houses a St. Mary’s Church and fort museum.St. Mary’s Church the oldest Anglican Church in India built in 1680 and the tombstones in its courtyard are the oldest British tombstones in India. This ancient prayer house solemnized the marriages of Robert Clive and Governor Elinu-Yale, who later founded the Yale University in the States.

Overnight at the hotel


Today you will be transferred to the airport to connect the flight for onward journey.

End of Tour

FAQs about the Tour

q: What is the significance of Cochin in this tour?
a: Cochin, also known as Kochi, is the starting point of the tour and offers a rich blend of historical landmarks, cultural experiences, and coastal charm.

q: What can I expect from the city tour of Cochin?
a: The city tour includes visits to landmarks like St. Francis Church, the Jewish Synagogue, Dutch Palace, and the iconic Chinese Fishing Nets. You’ll also witness a colorful Kathakali Dance Drama, a traditional form of storytelling through dance.

q: How does Munnar stand out in this tour?
a: Munnar is a picturesque hill station known for its sprawling tea gardens and serene landscapes. It provides a tranquil escape and opportunities to explore attractions like Mettupatty Dam, Echo Point, and Kundala Lake.

q: What makes Kumarakom special?
a: Kumarakom offers a unique experience of the Kerala backwaters with an exotic resort and a peaceful waters cruise on the Vembanad Lake.

q: What can I expect during the houseboat experience in Alleppey?
a: Alleppey offers a memorable houseboat journey through the scenic backwaters, allowing you to immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty and local way of life.

q: How does Periyar add to the tour’s diversity?
a: Periyar provides insights into tribal life, engaging elephant interactions at a camp, and exploration of spice plantations, showcasing Kerala’s diverse cultural and natural offerings.

q: What are the main attractions of Madurai?
a: Madurai is famous for its Meenakshi Temple, known for its stunning architecture, and the evening ceremony called ‘Bedtime of the God.’ The Tirumalai Nayak Mahal and city tour offer additional historical and cultural experiences.

q: What is the highlight of Tanjore?
a: Tanjore’s Brihadeshwara Temple and Fort showcase the grandeur of Chola architecture, featuring intricate carvings and a towering structure that highlight the region’s historical significance.

q: How does Mahabalipuram stand out in the itinerary?
a: Mahabalipuram is a treasure trove of ancient art and architecture, featuring carved masterpieces like Arjuna’s Penance and the Shore Temple, showcasing India’s artistic achievements.

q: What experiences does Chennai offer?
a: Chennai combines a blend of historical and contemporary experiences, from the colonial architecture of the Santhome Cathedral Church and Fort St. George to the vibrant atmosphere of Marina Beach and the spiritual significance of Kapaleeswarar Temple.

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