Real South India

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Real South India

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Description

Get deep into the heart of India on a 13-day exploration of some of its hidden gems. Explore the real sides to Hyderabad, Madurai and Mysore, and understand the local way of living in the south. Discover the unusual and expansive Ramoji Film City, get exploring around the carved temples of Mamallapuram, visit a tea plantation in the highlands of Coonoor, and finish off seaside in the important port city of Kochi. Oh, and did we mention the biryani and chai you’ll devour? Experience authentic India with a knowledgeable local leader and a comprehensive itinerary to suit.

Trip Name
Real South India
Last Updated
2020-01-22
Days
13
Capacity
16
Highlights
  • Spend a day exploring the world of Bollywood in Ramoji Film City: an expansive park full of filming locations. You’ll feel like you’re on the set of a blockbuster!
  • Gaze in awe at the Pancha Rathas – five Hindu temples in Mamallapuram that are each carved from a single piece of rock.
  • Go in search for elephants and tigers, as well as macaque, civet, giant flying squirrel, striped hyena and leopard on an included safari in the lush Bandipur National Park.
  • Tingle your taste buds with the perfect cuppa on a visit to one of Coonoor’s tea plantations. Learn about how tea leaves go from plant to cup.
  • Get a taste of southern Indian cuisine, indulging in sweet chutneys, seafood curries, stuffed dosa and more. Witness the ancient art of a chai wallah, preparing a cup of goodness in front of your eyes in Madurai.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Hyderabad
Namaste! Welcome to southern India. Hyderabad is the capital of southern India's Telangana state. There will be an important group meeting at 6 pm, where you’ll get to meet your group leader and fellow travellers. If you happen to arrive early, good for you! There’s much to see in this busy tech-focused city. Check out the Golconda Fort and its well-manicured gardens, head to Hussain Sagar – a heart-shaped lake with a large standing Buddha statue, and pick up a delicious biryani on your travels. Once you’ve had your important meeting, get the gang together and tuck into some local food! Your group leader will know a great place to go.
Day 2 - Hyderabad
This morning, take a walking tour of Hyderabad with your leader to get your bearings and learn a little bit more about this southern Indian city. You’ll also get the chance during the day to discover the weird and wonderful world of Bollywood with a visit Ramoji Film City. This 2000 acres of land is the largest integrated film city and the largest studio complex in the world. It can accommodate up to 20 film units at one time, with various shooting locations such as a London street, Japanese gardens, an airport, a hospital, and even a laboratory.
Day 3 - Hyderabad - Overnight Train
Today, take a visit with your group to Charminar, also known as the Four Minarets. Constructed in 1591, this monument and mosque has become an icon of Hyderabad, and provides an area where locals Islamic communities come together in the surrounding markets to celebrate events and festivals. The afternoon is free for you to explore, and a perfect opportunity to take up one of the optional activities on offer, like a visit to the Golcanda Fort and the Salar Jung museum. This evening, be ready to take an overnight train to Chennai.
Day 4 - Puducherry
Arrive in the morning to Chennai, and then take a private vehicle to Puducherry (also known as Pondicherry) via Mamallapuram. You’ll have time to see the sights of Mamallapuram, including the striking granite structure of the Shore Temple overlooking the Bay of Bengal, the ancient carvings of Arjuna’s Penance and the Pancha Rathas (Five Rathas). These five Hindu temples clustered in the southern end of the city are extraordinary examples of structures carved from single large rocks in the 7th century, fully hidden in the sand until they were excavated by the British around 200 years ago. Afterwards, arrive in coastal Puducherry and perhaps relax with a coconut curry. The total driving time today is approximately 5 hours.
Day 5 - Puducherry
The city of Puducherry (Pondicherry) has a strong French influence, seeing it was a French colonial settlement in India until 1954. Explore this cultural mix on a sightseeing walk with your group leader and visiting the French quarter, as well as Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Ganesh Temple. During your free time take a walk along the Beach Promenade.
Day 6 - Madurai
Today, take a local bus from Puducherry to Villupuram (approximately 2 hours), and then a 6-hour train journey to Madurai. Once arrived and checked-in, take a leader-led orientation walk around Madurai city, where you’ll spend the rest of tomorrow exploring. This evening your leader can take you on an optional walk through Madurai market, where you can try crispy dosas, flaky parotta (flatbread) and jigarthanda (Madurai’s answer to a lassi). You might even witness the art of a chai walla (chai street vendor) seamlessly pouring between the jug and cup, and putting on a bit of a show while preparing your drink.
Day 7 - Madurai - Overnight Train
Wake up in Madurai and go check out the historic Meenakshi Temple, located on the banks of the Vaigai River. It’s colourful and ornate structures are definitely worth a photo. Otherwise, there is the option to visit the National Gandhi Museum, housing important artefacts of Gandhi, as the city of Madurai played an important part of his journey. Make sure you take some time to relax today, as you will board an overnight train bound for Mysore (approximately 14 hours).
Day 8 - Bandipur
Arrive in Mysore in the morning (approximately 10 am), and head directly to the ornate Mysore Palace. This is the official royal residence of the Wadiyar dynasty and is the seat of the Kingdom of Mysore. It dominates the skyline of the city and is a clear example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Afterwards, head by private transport to Bandipur (approximately 1.5 hours). On the way, stop by your local driver’s home for a biryani lunch. Delicious!
Day 9 - Coonoor
This morning, head out and take up an included safari in the Bandipur National Park. The park covers 874 square kilometres and has many endangered animal and plant species in its boundaries. The park is well-known for spotting elephants and tigers, as well as macaque, civet, giant flying squirrel, striped hyena and leopard, to name a few. After your park safari has come to an end, travel by private vehicle for around 2 hours to the highland district of Coonoor.
Day 10 - Coonoor
Coonoor is in the heart of India’s tea plantations and one of the three Nilgiri hill stations, along with Ooty and Kotagiri. The actual township of Coonoor is a colourful and bustling place perched on the hillside. Today, enjoy a ride on the famous toy train ride on the mountain railway line, passing through the other Nilgiri hill stations, and enjoying the mountainous scenery along the way. Also included today is a visit to one of the surrounding tea plantations, where you’ll get to walk through the estate and learn more about the process of tea making and have a taste, of course.
Day 11 - Kochi
This morning say goodbye to Coonoor before taking a private vehicle to Coimbatore (approximately 2.5 hours). Around mid-day, we embark on an five hour train journey to Kochi – a major port city on India’s southwest coast.
Day 12 - Kochi
This morning we explore Kochi on a leader-led sightseeing tour of Kochi, where you’ll pass the Dutch Palace, the Jewish synagogue and the unique sight of shore operated lift nets, more commonly known as Chinese fishing nets. There is also the opportunity to book into an optional cooking class or to learn the art of Kathakali dance. Ask your group leader for more information if this interests you.
Day 13 - Kochi
With no activities planned for the final day, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time. That doesn’t mean that your adventure has to end! There is a selection of Urban Adventures tours that may interest you, including Aromas of Kochi – a sightseeing experience around the Fort Kochi area, visiting a pappadum factory, among other highlights. Visit urbanadventures.com/destination/Kochi-tours for more information.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
08-02-202020-02-2020AUD $ 862-
22-02-202005-03-2020AUD $ 978-
16-05-202028-05-2020AUD $ 1,185-
15-08-202027-08-2020AUD $ 1,185-
19-09-202001-10-2020AUD $ 1,185-
03-10-202015-10-2020AUD $ 1,107-
24-10-202005-11-2020AUD $ 1,107-
07-11-202019-11-2020AUD $ 1,107-
21-11-202003-12-2020AUD $ 1,107-
12-12-202024-12-2020AUD $ 1,148-
19-12-202031-12-2020AUD $ 1,148-
26-12-202007-01-2021AUD $ 1,148-
06-02-202118-02-2021AUD $ 1,098-
20-02-202104-03-2021AUD $ 1,098-
13-03-202125-03-2021AUD $ 1,066-
15-05-202127-05-2021AUD $ 1,066-
12-06-202124-06-2021AUD $ 1,066-
17-07-202129-07-2021AUD $ 1,066-
21-08-202102-09-2021AUD $ 1,066-
11-09-202123-09-2021AUD $ 1,066-
16-10-202128-10-2021AUD $ 1,066-
30-10-202111-11-2021AUD $ 1,066-
13-11-202125-11-2021AUD $ 1,066-
27-11-202109-12-2021AUD $ 1,066-
04-12-202116-12-2021AUD $ 1,066-
18-12-202130-12-2021AUD $ 1,066-
25-12-202106-01-2022AUD $ 1,066-

Accommodation

Hotel (9 nights),Jungle Resort (1 night),Overnight Sleeper Train (2 nights)

Transport

Private vehicle,Public bus,Overnight sleeper train,Taxi,Train

Map