picking Coconuts

Tour Itinerary                                                                                                     
SOUTH INDIAN BEAT

Trip Duration 12 days
Grade – Heritage & Nature Tour
Accommodation: 11 nights hotel stays

From US$1110 per person – See Below

The Experience

A fascinating journey through India’s tropical south, do experience the diversity in scenery, architecture, culture and most importantly the people.

Tamil Nadu the most leading feature is the prevalence of Hinduism, which has given rise to a unique style of temple architecture found in this state alone. The most magnificent is the great temple in Madurai. This temple is not only a spectacular architectural feat, but still provides the focus for daily life.

Kerala is a tropical bliss with an idyllic coastline and lush tropical hills. Despite its relative riches, the majority of the population in Kerala life continue with agriculture, tea, coffee and spice plantations and the coir industry, which still provides the basic economic structure of the region

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  • Dravidian Temple architecture
  • Auroville visit
  • Heritage walking tours
  • Bicycle city tour with a Storyteller
  • Local Arts and crafts
  • Typical South Indian meals
  • Hills & Plantations
  • Jeep tour in Kulukumalai Tea Estate
  • Jeep Tour in Spice Plantation
  • Trek in the Periyar National Park
  • Lunch in Traditional family with a cooking session
  • Tharavadu Heritage home visit
  • Rural and Fisherman Village walks
  • Country canoe ride in canals
  • Bicycle in the Backwaters
  • Traditional art Form

TOUR ROUTE
PICK UP FROM CHENNAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT>>>ACHENNAI 1NT>>>BMAHABALIPURAM1NT>>>CPONDICHERRY1NT>>>D TANJORE 1NT>>> E MADURAI 1NT>>>F MUNNAR 2NTS>>> G THEKKADY 1NT>>> H KUMARAKOM 1NT>>> I COCHIN 2NTS>>>DROP COCHIN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

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Day 01 Arrive Chennai
Upon arrival at Chennai International airport, meet and assistance by our office representative, followed by a transfer to your hotel for check-in. After some rest and depending on your arrival time, be introduced to the “Capital of the south” during an orientation tour. Explore the diverse neighbourhoods and sense its role as a keeper of South Indian artistic and religious traditions… Pass though the excellent British-built Government Museum, the Roman style San Thome Basilica and the majestic colonial Fort St George. Finally take a sunset walk along the long stretch of Marina Beach and barge into a cricket game or catch some families evenings gather. Later have a diner with a view seated in one of the costal beach restaurant.

Return back to your hotel for your overnight. (Half-board)

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Day 02 Chennai – Mahabalipuram (60 km / 1.5 hrs)
Start your day with an easy guided walk in the heart of the bustling Mylapore, zigzag though the very beat and pulse of this neighbourhood, learn about Tamil Nadu myriad customs and Hindu traditions. Visit the impressive Kapaleeshwarar temple, with its rainbow-coloured gopuram and pillared mandapas. Your journey will lead in these characterful market streets with a chance to be predicted your future from a fortune teller or to enter into a sacred Brahmin family house. After an early delectable South India breakfast in a local spot, experience a Colonial British Trail. Walk to discover the colonial Madras through the buildings the British left behind. Look closely at each structure and listen the history of this vibrant city. Return to your hotel for your lunch and check-out, drive to your next stop, the seaside town of Mahabalipuram, port of the Pallava kings in the 5th to 8th centuries. Along the shore lies a stunning series of temples and sculptures, carved from the living rock 1,200 years ago. Unlike many Hindu temples, the rocks show scenes of everyday life. Check-in your hotel and later go visit with your guide the magnificent Shore temple, symbolising the heights of Pallava architecture and the maritime ambitions of their kings. Go explore the masterpiece of Mahabalipuram’s Rock cut caves representing the scenes of Hindu myths and finish by the site of the Five Rathas. Each of these temples were named after one of the Pandavas, the five hero-brothers of the epic Mahabharata. Tonight, enjoy a Seafood dinner in a terrace facing the sea shore. Drive back to your hotel for an overnight stay. (Full-board)

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Day 03 Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry (100 km / 2 hrs)

After your breakfast and your check-out, head to Pondicherry. Settled by the French in the 18th century, this colonial town retains a tranquil atmosphere with some French architecture aesthetic. Make a first stop at Auroville, situated outskirt of the town, this spiritual community was founded in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo and a French-born woman known as ‘the Mother’.

Enjoy a lunch at Solar kitchen – the community Kitchen for the inmates and understand the unique living here, based on universal harmony. You will be taken through the visitor’s centre and a few of the Auroville units which innovatively work on paper, textile, bamboo and stones. Pass by the Matri mandir (the meditation centre) and learn from those who choose to join, build and live this unique lifestyle. Later on, attend a Kolam class in Alamkuppam village and find out about this traditional custom of drawing in the houses entrance with sparkling powders or fresh flowers, to invite the Goddess Laxmi to bring luck and prosperity…
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Reach Pondicherry and check-in at your hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day free in the colonial streets. Take a look into the lifestyle shops, wander in the bohemian chic atmosphere of the French quarter, and go see the Ganesha temple around or search for inspiration at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram bookshop. Tonight you will taste some delicious French fusion cuisine at the restaurant La Villa Helena, a charming old colonial house located in one of the town’s bougainvillea-draped streets. Overnight at the hotel. (Full board)

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Day 04 Pondicherry – Tanjore (180 km / 4.5 hrs)

Early morning enjoy a bicycle tour through the French district and the Tamil quarter with a Storyteller. Pass by the white town (as the French quarter is popularly known as) with its heritage colonial buildings, keep biking toward the Tamil quarter and learn the anecdotes of the distinctiveness of Franco-Tamil culture, creating a fusion of diversity in the air of Pondy… Return back to your hotel for your breakfast and check-out. Later head to the local spot Surguru to savour a south Indian vegetarian meal. Continue your journey to Tanjore, former capital of the mighty Cholas Empire. On route stop at Swamimalai and observe the art of making Bronze idols by Stapathis (sculptors) as per the traditional Shilpa Sastras (craft Hindu system) prevailed from the Chola period. Follow to Darasuram and see its famous Airavatesvara Chola Temple, UNESCO world heritage site, carved with vivid elephants and horses pulling chariots and dating from the 12th century. You will then be invited to meet the adjacent colony of silk weaver and discover the art of the Saree weaving, made out from their traditional wood machinery and tracing few generations. Arrive at Tanjore and check-in at your hotel for your dinner and overnight stay. (Full board)

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Day 05 Tanjore – Madurai (190 km /3.5 hrs)

Breakfast at the hotel and check-out. This morning be immersed into the Chola Empire legacy during a visit of the world Heritage-listed Brigadeswara Temple, build in the 11th century by Raja Raja I (‘king of kings’). Enter through the Nayak gate, followed by two original gopurams with some elaborate stucco sculptures. Inside discover several shrines, including one of India’s largest statues of Nandi (Shiva’s sacred bull). Both west and north walls of the main building are lined with exquisite lime-plaster Chola frescoes. Continue your visits at the Thanjavur’s Royal Palace, which preserves memories of other powerful dynasties from later centuries. Here, explore the Saraswati Mahal Library Museum housing over 30000 Indian and European manuscripts and the Art Gallery containing a collection of superb, mainly Chola, bronzes and stone carvings.

Have a traditional Sadhya lunch at the heritage style Satvma hotel.

After, it is time for your next enlightment, sneak into a small house and witness the Tanjore veena art making process, there an entire instrument is carved on a single block of Jackwood. Carnatic music played on these Veenas has won the hearts of millions of music lovers. Later on learn about the Tanjavur painting technique with gem stones inlay demonstration from the masters. Drive south to another vibrant city of Tamil Nadu, Madurai. Upon arrival check-in at your hotel. After some rest, leave the hotel by auto-rickshaw, and have a dinner on a roof-top with views on the Gopurams of the Meenakshi temple. Later take a visit of the temple and attend the night ceremony when the temple bronze of Lord Shiva is carried to the bed chamber of Parvati. Return to your hotel by auto-rickshaw.
Overnight stay. (Full Board)

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Day 06 Madurai – Munnar (154 km / 4 hrs)
Start your day with a guided walking tour and go deep into the real life of this Tamil rooted oldest city. Walk in the narrow streets flanked by flowers and bananas stands, interact with local people, watch people milking cows by hand and stroll down in the bazaars. Learn with your guide the 5000 years old legends of this busting city while having a meter tea from the corner tea stall. Return back to your hotel for your breakfast. On your way pass by the biggest flower market in the southern region which transacts as much as 10 tons of flowers in a day, mainly the reputed Madurai malli (Jasmine). After your check-out, go visit the sprawling Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal, 17th century palace of the emperor of the Nayak dynasty and capture its hybrid Dravidian-Islamic style. Follow with a meaty feast at the local spot Kumar Mess and try their spicy Biryani before driving up hills to Munnar, the South India’s largest tea-growing region. On route act like a local and experience short ride on a state bus between the villages Adipetti and Uslampatti on the way. Upon arrival in Munnar, check-in and dinner at your hotel. (Full Board)

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Day 07 Munnar

Breakfast at the hotel. This morning explore the hillside of Munnar and start your journey by Jeep, followed with a moderate trek into the tea carpeted rolling hills, reaching up Kulukamalai Tea Estate, the highest located tea factory in the world (8000ft). Enjoy a packed lunch uphill surrounded by the carpeted tea bushes. Witness the manual tea-making process at this old fashioned factory, unchanged since the British constructed it in the 1930s and have a savoring tea tasting session with panoramic views of the mountains ridge that rise around. Drive back to the hotel for your dinner and overnight. (Full Board)

Day 08 Munnar – Thekkady (100 km / 3.5 hrs)

After your breakfast at your hotel and check-out, take a beautiful drive to Thekkady, down to the green mountains of the Nilgiris, rubber, coffee and cardamom plantations will follow. Upon arrival experience a Kerala style Cooking Session in a family house followed by lunch with them. Later, take a Spice Plantation Jeep excursion into the tropical fields of the Cardamon Hill reserve where you can touch, smell and taste almost all the spices seen worldwide. Finally check-in at your hotel and this evening enjoy a tasty meal at the English manor-style, Ambadi restaurant. Overnight at the hotel. (Full Board)

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Day 09 Thekaddy – Kumarakom (130 km / 4 hrs)

This early morning proceed with a nature walk and observe the flora and fauna in the remote areas of the National Periyar Park accompanied by a trained tribal guide. Return back to your hotel for your breakfast, check-out and drive east to Kumarakom. On route stop at the home stay Kuruvinakunnel Tharavadu to experience a typical Syriac Christian lunch, followed by a walk into the owner’s plantations. This ancestral home was built around 400 years back and is located in the midst of a lush green estate. Continue your tropical journey towards Kumarakom, a backwaters village located on the shore of vast Vembanad Lake – Kerala’s largest lake. Upon arrival check-in and dinner at your hotel. (Full Board)

Kochi Chinese Fishing Nets
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Day 10 Kumarakom – Cochin (50 km / 1.5 hrs)

Breakfast at the hotel. This morning go in the Aymanam Village, home of Arundhathi Roy’s novel ‘The God of Small Things’. Start your local immersion with a ride on a traditional canoe cruise through the narrow, winding canals and catch the scenic daily life of the bordering houses. Follow with a walk in the heart of this typical Kuttanad village surrounded by paddy fields and identify the snake’s abodes, sacred to earliest habitants. Be invited in a Kathakali master house who will introduce you to this traditional theatre form, which adapts styles of ancient Sanskrit with visual presentations of human expressions. There, take an opportunity to share a homely made family lunch with delicious blend of curries fish or meat with rice. After a check-out, this afternoon you will reach your next destination by Bicycle through small fishermen villages and lush coconut trees sceneries. You will row through a small stretch of backwaters and reach Fort Kochi. Refresh and check-in at the hotel.
Tonight have a dinner at the Italian restaurant Upstairs with a prime view on the Santa Cruz Basilica. Overnight stay at the hotel (Full Board).

Day 11 Cochin

Breakfast at the hotel.
Today you will experience the real local life of Cochin during an Ethnic tour – start with the visit of the famous Chinese Fishing Nets of Cochin. The huge cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that droop towards the waters like over-sized hammocks have become a hallmark that represents Fort Kochi on every postcard…
Next visit is at the St.Francis CSI Church, the oldest European church in India built in 1503, where the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama was originally buried and pass by thefinest Santa Cruz Basilica.
Take a tuk tuk – the most popular mode of transport among the localities, go along with your local tour and stop at the Dhobi Khana (laundry station), once throbbing with activity, it is now a picture of slow extinction.

Continue through the small streets of Mattanchery, and arrive at the Fruit market on Palace road where locals get a variety of fresh and organic produces at bargains prices. Don’t miss a stop at the Spice Market, where exotic odours of the finest ginger, cloves, cardamom, turmeric and pepper emanate from the spice warehouses lining the street.
Make a pause and have one “meter tea” at one of the tea stall. There is now an opportunity to interact with a Brahmin Family. The Brahmin are the highest of the four Hindu castes of priests and scholars of Vedic literature, their traditional occupation is to conduct rites at marriages, births and other auspicious occasions.

Have a lunch at the Indo-French restaurant Caza Maria, overlooking the Mattancherry spices bazaar and filled to the brim with antiques. Then you will be invited to get squiggly lines drawn on your hands… This ritual called Mehndi arts holds plenty of cultural significance in Indian traditions and is one of the most important ritual during the wedding ceremonies.
Visit the Jewish Synagogue at the heart of what is locally called the Jew Town, and finally stop at the Dutch Palace with its beautiful mural paintings from the 17th century.

Enjoy a cultural evening at Greenix Village Cultural Centre and discover the famous dance drama of Kerala, the “Kathakali” show. This dance can be characterized by grotesque gesticulations, amazing costumes and very extensive make-up. The stories are mostly taken from the epics Mahabharatha and Ramayana.

Tonight enjoy a Seafood dinner at the waterfront restaurant Fort House. Overnight stay at the hotel. (Full board)

Day 12 Departure Cochin

Time to say good bye. After breakfast transfer to the Cochin International airport to connect your flight back home.

PLACE

NO. OF NIGHTS

STANDARD

CHENNAI

1

Raintree Hotel St Mary’s road

MAHABALIPURAM

1

INDeco Hotel Mamallapuram

PONDICHERRY

1

Shenbaga Hotel

TANJORE

1

Lakshmi Hotel

MADURAI

1

Regency Madurai by GRT

MUNNAR

2

Ecotones Munnar Camps

THEKKADY

1

Hotel Treetop

KUMARAKOM

1

             Green Fields
COCHIN

2

Chiramel Residency

 

PLACE

NO. OF NIGHTS

SUPERIOR HOTELS

CHENNAI

1

Raintree Hotel St Mary’s road

MAHABALIPURAM

1

Ideal Beach Resort

PONDICHERRY

1

Villa Helena

TANJORE

1

Hi Tanjore

MADURAI

1

Heritage Madurai

MUNNAR

2

Ecotones Munnar Camps

THEKKADY

1

Greenwoods

KUMARAKOM

1

Lakesong Resort

COCHIN

2

Fort House

DATES FOR GROUP FIXED DEPARTURES

    • From 23rd October to 3rd November 2016
    • From 13th  to 24th  November 2016
    • From 4th  to 15th  December 2016
    • From 15th  to 26th  January 2017
    • From 12th  to 23rd  February 2017
    • From 12th  to 23rd  March 2017
    • From 2nd  to 13th April 2017  

Group Fixed departure cost :
STANDARD HOTELS – US$1110 per person (based on 2 persons travelling together) PLUS £200 Acceptance Fee per person
Single supplement: + $483per person

SUPERIOR HOTELS – US$1335 per person (based on 2 persons travelling together) PLUS £200 Acceptance Fee per person
Single supplement + US$682 per person

Departure guaranteed from 2 travellers
Validity : October 2016 to April 2017

Please note: There is a supplement of 25 US$ per person for the period between 19/12/2016 to 21/01/2017 (applicable only with superior hotel programme version).

Payment
1. On acceptance – £200 per person, Acceptance Payment/Deposit (non-refundable) payable to “S W & M Miller” by International Bank Transfer to UK Bank Account.

Your Contract for all tour arrangements is directly with our Partner Company Marvel tours, Cochin, India to whom payment for the tour is made.

Payment for flights included in the itinerary may be required at the time of flight confirmations.

Any bank charges levied by the sending bank relating to transfers to our Partner Company or Complete India & Asia must be paid by the Client and added to the amount to be transferred.

2. You pay 25% of the total on Acceptance or if less than ten weeks – in USD, by International Bank Transfer to Marvel Tours, India

3. The balance of 75% is payable by International Bank transfer, in US$, direct to Marvel Tours 4 weeks BEFORE ARRIVAL

WE RECOMMEND: Payment via our Currency Payment transfer system which gives a commercial rate and NO bank charges apply –Please ask.

Cancellation Charges
Before 60 Days: Full Refund.
60 – 46 Days: 25% of the Tour Cost.
45 – 31 Days: 50% of the Tour Cost.
30 – 16 Days: 75% of the Tour Cost.
15 days to Day of Departure: 100 % of the Tour Cost or No Refund.
Flight cancellation is not included in these charges
Acceptance Payment non refundable

SPECIAL NOTE:
• Check in / check out time at the Hotels is 1200 Noon except few hotels / cities.
• For International flight check-in time is 03 hours before the departure time.
• For Domestic flight check-in time is 01 hour before the departure time.
• Flight schedule and air fare quoted is subject to change as per the airlines notice from time to time.
• Prices are subject to change with any increase in the cost.
• Any additional expense incurred due to a change in the Government of India and Reserve Bank of India regulations pertaining to taxes, fuel hikes, air-fares and transport and any force majeure situation due to political conditions, we reserve the right to change the cost.
• In case of any increase in the accommodation cost and other services by the service providers will be applicable and levied on the above advised cost.
• Any increase in rate of exchange leading to an increase in surface transportation and land arrangements, which may come into effect prior to departure.
• Please be advised that we have not blocked any accommodation for this tour at the time of quotation. Once we receive your acceptance of the same will proceed ahead with the bookings. In case of non-availability of original Hotels as envisaged will book alternate Hotels of similar standard.

TOUR PACKAGE INCLUDES :

  • Accommodation on double / twin sharing basis at all hotels mentioned or similar in standard room
  • Full board basis as per described in itinerary (Bottled water included at each meal)
  • Transportation as per itinerary by chauffeur driven air conditioned large vehicle
  • Local English Speaking Guides for the sightseeing of Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry,  Auroville, Darusaram, Tanjore, Madurai,  Munnar, Thekkady and Cochin
  • English speaking Tour-escort during the entire trip
  • Entrance charges at the monuments as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Half-day Heritage city tour in Chennai
  • Visit of Auroville with a lunch at Solar Cafe
  • A Kollam class in Pondicherry
  • Bicycle tour in Pondicherry with a Storyteller
  • Visit to Bronze making center, Painting and Veena making centers in Tanjore
  • Walking tour in Madurai
  • Evening ceremony in Meenakshi temple in Madurai by Auto-rickshaw
  • Kulukamalai Estate Jeep Safari with a Picnic lunch
  • Lunch in a Family house in Thekkady
  • Spice plantation visit by Jeep in Thekkady
  • Trek in Periyar National Park
  • Aymanam Village half-day excursion in Kumarakom including a Country canoe ride
  • Bicycle tour in the Backwaters
  • Ethnic tour of Fort Kochi by walk and Auto-rickshaw
  • Ticket for the Kathakali Dance show in Fort Kochi
  • Assistance on arrival and departure
  • All currently applicable taxes
  • Where US$ are quoted the UK pounds price shown is for comparison only and is subject to change

 

TOUR PACKAGE DOES NOT INCLUDE:

  • Camera fees & activity charges other than those listed in the itinerary inclusions
  • Expenses of personal nature such as porterage, laundry, telephones, tipping etc.
  • International/Domestic flight charges and Visa/Insurance charges, if any
  • No tipping is included.
  • Any other meals or services not mentioned in the itinerary or ‘includes’ list.
  • Any international airfares to India and Asia
  • Domestic economy airfares, indicated in the itinerary, are subject to change.
  • Any airport taxes where applicable in each country
  • Any subsequent increase in airfares, fuel costs, monuments/sightseeing fees.
  • Any other taxes subsequently introduced by Government, State or Tourist Ministry.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa Fees, if applicable, in any country
  • Any Christmas, New Year and Gala dinners