South India

Enjoy the variety South India has to offer from high-tech Bangalore to the wildlife haven of Nagarhole National Park to Mysore’s sacred temples.

Country Information

India, Nepal & Sri Lanka

South India Enrichment Series

(Countries Visited)

India, Nepal & Sri Lanka


(Interest Type(s))

Sustainable Travel

,

Safari Tours

,

Adventure Travel

,

Family Travel


(Tour Length)

17 Days


Tour Highlights

Starting at: $8,350
  • Discover Bangalore and its intriguing mix of high-tech industry with old Bangalore’s monuments from the 16th to the 19th centuries
  • Take in Chikmagalur, an important Jain pilgrimage center with its colossal, 10th-century statue of Gomateshwara (nearly 56 feet) on the summit of Indragiri
  • Explore Nagarhole National Park, which boasts an abundance of wildlife including rare tigers, leopards, wild elephants, Indian wild dogs, bison, spotted deer, four-horned antelope, wild boar and sloth bear
  • Experience the quiet charm of Mysore’s verdant gardens, tree-lined boulevards and sacred temples
  • Savor an overnight river cruise on the backwaters of Kerala on your own private, traditional houseboat

 

 

Day 1:  Arrive Bangalore
On arrival, you will be met at the international airport and transferred to your hotel.  Recognized as one of the finest yoga retreats in the world, Shreyas is dedicated to promoting the authentic spiritual tradition of yoga in an environment normally associated with an exclusive star hotel.  The emphasis is on daily yoga, meditation sessions, organic vegetarian food, a no-alcohol policy, in private, serene and simple yet luxurious accommodations.  Shreyas Retreat - Cottage

Day 2:  Bangalore
Bangalore is one of Asia's fastest growing cities and is the principal administrative, cultural, commercial and industrial center of the state of Karnataka.  It is often described as Asia’s Silicon Valley because of its thriving information technology industry.  Until its high-tech boom in the late 1980s, this was known as the Garden City with its pleasant temperate climate.  Today with a growing population of young professionals, it has acquired a vibrant, cosmopolitan air.  In spite of rapid development, vestiges of the city’s historic past are still found in Old Bangalore, with its monuments from the 16th to the 19th centuries.  On this morning’s brief tour, visit Tipu’s Palace within the original citadel, a mud-brick fort built in 1537.  Tipu Sultan's Palace, dating from about 1790, is made mostly of wood with finely embellished balconies, pillars and arches.  This two-story structure is a replica of the Daria Daulat Bagh in Srirangapattana that served as a summer retreat for Tipu sultan.  While the palace retains its original elegant teak pillars, most of the painted decorations have been destroyed.  This afternoon is at leisure.  Shreyas Retreat - Cottage (B)

Day 3:  Bangalore / Chikmagalur (6 hour drive)
This morning, you drive to Chikmagalur, with a stop on the way stop at Sravanabelagola, an important Jain pilgrimage center.  The colossal statue of Gomateshwara (nearly 56-feet/17 meters high) is situated on the summit of Indragiri.  The giant statue was commissioned during the 10th century and is carved from a single block of stone.  Some regard it as one of the largest monolithic statues in the world.  Continue your drive and on arrival check into your hotel, a luxury oasis and destination resort on a coffee estate near Chikmagalur.  The remainder of your day is at leisure to pursue your own interests.  The Serai Resort – Estate Villa (B)

Day 4:  Chikmagalur
Chikmagalur is a serene town nestled in the Baba Budan Hills with valleys, streams and coffee plantations.  Coffee was planted here for the first time in India in the mid-17th century.  The area of Chikmagalur is a trekker's delight with the rugged mountain trails and rare wildlife sanctuary in addition to ancient temples and forts.  Take a stroll through the coffee plantations or catch a magnificent sunset.  Experience the best of Western Ghats in Chikmagalur.  After breakfast, visit the famous temples of Halebid and Belur, built in the early 12th century.  In the 16th century, the temples were at the heart of the throbbing Hoysala Empire.  The Hoysala were huge patrons of art and architecture and built massive temples that have survived the ravages of time.  Some of the sculptures are so exotic, erotic and eloquent - that you half expect them to speak or move.  Halebid was the capital of the Hoysalas until it was destroyed in the early 14th century by the Delhi Sultanate.  The Hoysaleshwara temple survived the pillage but it remained incomplete even after 87 years of uninterrupted construction.  The temple is dedicated to Shiva and has two enormous Nandi bulls at the entrance.  About 16 km away is Belur with the outstanding Chenakeshava temple, a monumental edifice that took 103 years to build, possibly because of the intricate details and the myriad of friezes and sculptures that embellish the walls.  Scenes from the epics, elephants in battle and sensuous dancers come alive in stone.  The 42 'madanikas' or celestial dancers were inspired by Queen Shantaladevi, who is said to have epitomized beauty.  The Hoysala architects had an eye for detail and such wizardry with their chisels that the earrings on the lobes of the dancers can rotate and beads of perspiration glisten in the hair of some.  Return to your hotel and overnight in Chikmagalur.  The Serai Resort – Estate Villa (B)

Day 5:  Chikmagalur / Nagarhole  (5 hour drive)
After breakfast drive through the lovely South Indian countryside to Nagarhole National Park.  On arrival in Nagarhole, you will check into the resort of Orange County.  Its ‘Spirit of the Land’ philosophy finds its most intimate expression at Kabini.  While you are cradled in the lap of luxury, the resort gives you a wildlife experience like no other.  Steeped in local lore and culture, and inspired in design by the tribal villages, this resort is bordered on two sides by the Kabini River.  This afternoon will be at your leisure to relax and explore your surroundings; or enjoy the spa facilities at the resort.  Orange County Resort – Jacuzzi Hut (B,L,D)

Day 6:  Nagarhole
Nagarhole National Park has an astonishing abundance of wildlife including large mammals such as tigers, leopards, wild elephants, Indian wild dogs, bison, spotted deer, four horned antelope, wild boar, sloth bear, mongoose etc.  The landscape is one of gentle slopes and shallow valleys.  The change in terrain throughout the park is refreshing and the river system provides a unique wildlife viewing experience.  Enjoy a boat safari and a canter safari through the Wildlife Park.  Orange County Resort – Jacuzzi Hut (B,L,D)

Day 7:  Nagarhole / Mysore (2 hour drive)
On arrival in Mysore, check into your Balinese-style cottage set amidst tall coconut palms and lush landscaping.  Mysore was the political capital of the Wodeyar family who ruled the state of Karnataka for some 150 years until independence from British rule.  These kings were great patrons of art and culture, and Mysore was the cultural capital of the south under their rule.  The city enchants you with its quaint charm, verdant gardens, tree-lined boulevards and sacred temples.  In the afternoon, drive to the outskirts of the city to Chamundi Hill, a noted landmark.  About halfway up the hill you see the Nandi Bull statue carved in 1659 from a single boulder.  It is 25 feet long and 16 feet high.  On top of the hill is the Chamundeshwari temple that dates from the 11th century.  Return to the hotel and rest of the day at leisure.  Windflower Hotel – Executive Room (B)

Day 8:  Mysore
Early morning, visit the fabulous Devaraja Fruit and Vegetable market for its colorful displays of fresh flowers and fruits.  Return to the hotel for breakfast before setting out to see Mysore City Palace, designed by an English architect and completed in 1912.  Part of the palace is still occupied by the former Maharaja of the Wodeyar family.  Built in Indo-Sacracenic style with domes, turrets, arches and colonnades, the palace is a treasure house of exquisite carvings and works of art from all over the world.  The collection of stained glass, mirrors and intricately carved rosewood doors inlaid with ivory is magnificent.  After lunch drive to Srirangapatnam, the island fortress in the Kaveri River.  This is the sight of the battles between the British and Tipu Sultan, the “Tiger of Mysore”.  Visit Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace and the Jumma Masjid Mosque.  Windflower Hotel – Executive Room (B)

Day 9:  Mysore / Bangalore (4 hour drive to the airport) / Cochin
Today, drive to Bangalore and transfer with assistance to the airport for your flight to Cochin.  On arrival you will be met and transferred to your accommodations.  Moored on a historic stretch of Cochin’s famed harbor, just a walk away from Fort Cochin, The Brunton Boatyard was resurrected from the remains of a Victorian shipyard.  Each of the 22 rooms overlooks the harbor and offers the chance to relax and watch the dolphins weaving between the fishing boats.  Brunton Boatyard – Deluxe Sea Facing Room (B)

Day 10:  Cochin
Kochi, better known as Cochin, is Kerala’s most cosmopolitan city and also the main trading center for spices and seafood.  Built around a saltwater lagoon of the Arabian Sea, Cochin is a collection of narrow islands and peninsulas.  While the mainland boasts of concrete shopping malls and fancy apartment buildings, the fort area has an old world charm with its blend of Dutch, Portuguese and English bungalows  and quaint narrow streets.  The result of these cultural influences is seen in the many examples of Indo-European architecture.  A leisurely walk through the city is the best way to discover historic Fort Kochi.  Begin with a visit to the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth, constructed in 1568.  Destroyed by shelling during the Portuguese raid in 1662, it was rebuilt two years later by the Dutch.  This is also a center for the spice trade with many curio shops.  Then proceed to the Mattancherry Palace.  Built by the Portuguese in 1557 and presented to the Raja of Kochi, the palace was renovated in 1663 by the Dutch.  On display here are beautiful murals depicting scenes from the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata and some of the Puranic Hindu Legends.  The Palace also houses Dutch maps of old Kochi, royal Palanquins, coronation robes of former Maharajas of Kochi as well as period furniture.  St Francis Church was established in the early 1500s by the Portuguese.  It is one of India’s earliest European churches.  The afternoon is at leisure.  At sunset, enjoy a cruise on the Cochin Harbor, passing by Wellington Island, Bolgatty Islands, fishing boats and ending up at the Chinese Fishing Nets.  These huge cantilevered fishing nets are the legacy of one of the first visitors to the Malabar Coast.  The best place to watch the nets being lowered into the sea and the catch being brought in is the Vasco da Gama Square, a narrow promenade that runs along the beach.  Brunton Boatyard – Deluxe Sea Facing Room (B)

Day 11:  Cochin / Alleppey / House Boat Cruise
This morning after breakfast drive to Alleppey.  En route stop at the Kerala Folklore Theatre and Museum, built in Kerala’s Temple architectural style.  The ground floor housing the museum is done in Malabar style, the first floor with its arched windows is in colonial style and the top floor with its fabulous ceiling and mural panels is in the rich Travancore style.  The place houses a collection of South Indian art and craft.  On arrival in Alleppey, board your personal traditional houseboat for an overnight cruise on the backwaters of Kerala.  This labyrinth of shimmering waterways, composed of lakes, canals, lined with dense vegetation preserves rural Keralan lifestyle that is largely cut off from the outside world.  It is an intricate network of innumerable lagoons, lakes, canals, estuaries and the deltas of 44 rivers that drain into the Arabian Sea.  Overnight on House Boat (B,L,D)

Day 12:  House Boat / Kumarakom
After breakfast, continue your cruise to Kumarakom Lake Resort, and check in.  The resort nestles on the serene banks of Lake Vembanad decorated with thick mangrove forests, green paddy fields and coconut groves interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals.  Sprawling across 25 acres of lush greenery, it exudes the charm of Kerala’s true heritage while offering a complete range of ‘new age’ amenities.  In this small water world you’ll come across plenty of traditional country crafts, boats and canoes that will take you into the heart of the scenic lake.  Rest of the day is at leisure to explore your beautiful surroundings.  Kumarakom Lake Resort – Meandering Pool Villa (B)

Day 13:  Kumarakom
Today after breakfast, visit Philip Kutty’s Plantation situated on the backwaters.  The farm is set on a beautiful small Island and practices organic methods of farming, growing coconut, toddy, nutmeg, banana, cocoa, vanilla and black pepper.  On arrival, you meet family members and take a look at the farm.  Enjoy a traditional Syrian Christian lunch with the family, and glimpse a Keralian way of life.  Return to the hotel and afternoon at leisure.  Kumarakom Lake Resort – Meandering Pool Villa (B)

Day 14:  Kumarakom / Cochin Airport (2 hour drive) / Hyderabad
Disembark from the houseboat and transfer with assistance to the airport to board your flight for Hyderabad.  On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.  Passed on for generations like a precious jewel, Falaknuma Palace, or ‘Mirror of the Sky,’ was the royal guest house of the Nizams, who governed the legendary city of Hyderabad.  After ten years of sensitive restoration, the Taj has infused new life into this private palace.  Nestled amidst verdant and unique themed gardens, Taj Falaknuma Palace is a rare blend of Italian and Tudor architecture.  Made entirely of Italian marble, the palace is home to priceless art and artifacts.  Evening is at leisure.  Taj Falaknuma Palace – Palace Room (B)

Day 15:  Hyderabad
This 400-year-old city of minarets and Mughlai food has recently staked another claim to fame — as India’s newest tech city.  Some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies, including giants like Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Google, have set up shop here in the last decade or so, thus earning it the sobriquet of Cyberabad.  In the 1500s when it was founded on the banks of the Musi River, it became a wealthy city trading in pearls and diamonds.  Legend has it that the shah fell in love with and married a local Banjara (gypsy) girl, who changed her name to Hyder Mahal upon her conversion to Islam, thereupon bestowing her name to the city.  Divided by the picturesque Hussain Sagar tank into the twin towns of Secunderabad and Hyderabad, this ancient city has a charming landscape dotted by tanks and hills.  The original town on the river bank, now known as ‘old city’ has the famous Charminar and Mecca Masjid, and its narrow bustling streets contrast sharply with the new Hyderabad.  The old city is where the locals go for the best Hyderabadi cuisine, which is a rich blend of Mughal, Persian and Telugu influences.  Walk into the teeming old markets close to Charminar with shops selling bangles, pearls and jewelry.  In fact, Hyderabad still presides over a thriving trade in cultured pearls.  This morning after breakfast, tour the Golconda Fort and Qutab Shahi Tombs.  Sprawling across a boulder-strewn plateau, Golconda Fort was the citadel of the Qutb Shahi dynasty that ruled Hyderabad from 1507 to 1687.  The earlier mud fort was transformed into a splendid fortified city of grand palaces, mosques and gardens.  The fort was also famous for its great hoard of diamonds, mined nearby, which included the celebrated Kohinoor Diamond.  Qutb Shahi Tombs - this royal necropolis where seven of the nine Qutb Shahi rulers are buried is laid out in gardens with water channels, pools and tree-lined pathways.  The tombs, built by each king in his lifetime, display a distinct and eclectic architectural style.  Enjoy this afternoon to pursue your own interests.  Taj Falaknuma Palace – Palace Room (B,L)

Day 16:  Hyderabad
Charminar (Four Towers) in the heart of the Old City is Hyderabad’s signature landmark.  Built in 1591, it is the hub of a busy commercial area, where the grand mosques and palaces of the rulers are today surrounded by lively bazaars selling everything from pearls and perfumes to vegetables and computers.  Drive to the Salar Jung Museum with its fascinating collection of art.  This eclectic collection of over 40,000 objects once belonged to Salarjung III, Prime Minister of Hyderabad between 1899 and 1949.  The pride of the museum is the outstanding Mughal Jade collection and inlaid ivory objects.  The remainder of the day is at leisure.  Taj Falaknuma Palace – Palace Room (B)

Day 17:  Hyderabad / Depart
This morning, you will be transferred to the airport at Hyderabad for your onward flight to the next destination.  (B)

Land cost, per person, double occupancy:  Starting from $8,350

Internal Airfare (subject to change until ticketed):  $505

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