The Hindu heartland of this fascinating subcontinent presents a dazzling array of experiences unique to the region; from colonial railways crossing bottomless gorges to priceless temple craftwork depicting spiritual legends, our in depth 16-day itinerary immerses you within this mystifying province. Cruise the palm-fringed backwaters of Alleppey, marvel at royal splendour in Mysore Palace and catch a glimpse of Kabini's allusive Bengal tiger.
- City tours of Bangalore, Mysore, Munnar and Cochin
- Jeep and boat safaris in Kabini
- Meet people of the Todo Tribe
- Ride the UNESCO recognised Nilgiri Mountain Railway from the town of Ooty
- Wander through the renowned Meenakshi Amman Hindu Temple in Madurai
- Overnight cruise of Alleppey's backwaters
Day 1 - UK to Bangalore
Depart London on your scheduled, overnight flight to Bangalore, via Mumbai.
Day 2 - Bangalore
On arrival into Bangalore, you will be met by a local guide and transferred to your hotel. After settling in, discover the cosmopolitan hub of India's booming IT industry peppered with Victoria-era architecture on your afternoon tour of the city. Visit the atmospheric Bull Temple, home to an enormous granite monolith of Nandi the celestial bull, wander through Lalbagh Botanical Gardens to admire the world's most diverse plant species and marvel at Vidhan Soudha's colossal Neo-Dravidian architectural splendour. In the evening, sample delicious local delights at your welcome meal.
Day 3 - Bangalore to Mysore
Following breakfast, depart Bangalore for the 18th century fort town of Srirangapatnam, once the stronghold of ruler Tipu Sultan before his defeat by colonial forces. Cross the main bridge over the Cauvery River to discover intriguing monuments documenting South India's power struggles, including a striking marble church built by French missionaries. Later, proceed to your hotel in the ancient city of Mysore.
Day 4 - Mysore
Considered one of India's most flamboyant cities, Mysore boasts a glittering royal heritage, bustling marketplaces and a thriving centre for yoga expertise. Your full day tour takes you to the heart of the city and one of India's grandest royal abodes - the sprawling Mysore Palace. Discover the palace's painted glass ceiling with peacock motifs in the Marriage Pavilion, treasured royal paintings that line the Public Durbar Hall and a glistening Golden Howdah used to carry the Maharaja. Atop the nearby Chamundi hills, visit the Chamundi Temple famed for intricate carvings on its towering gopuram entrance and panoramic vistas over Mysore.
Day 5 - Mysore to Kabini
This morning travel to Kabini - wild wetlands that surround the Kabini River. The riverbanks boast a rich variety of wildlife, particularly in summer as the receding water presents luscious meadows on either side. Upon arrival, enjoy the remainder of today at leisure.
Day 6 - Kabini
Spend this morning exploring the surrounding jungle on a jeep safari. From peculiar beaked Malabar Pied Hornbills perched upon mammoth Rosewood trees, to Indian bison meandering across the road and the prized Bengal tiger pacing amongst evergreen bamboo, your safari route gives you the best chance to observe South India's most intriguing natural inhabitants. In the afternoon, spot the largest congregation of Asiatic elephants, a plethora of majestic water birds and marsh crocodiles stalking shallow waters during your river safari.
Day 7 - Kabini
Your final day in Kabini will be free for you to spend at leisure.
Day 8 - Kabini to Ooty
After breakfast journey to the hill station of Ooty, one of three that occupy the UNESCO recognised biome of Nilgiri Hill. For the next two nights, your elevated position offers stunning views across the southern plains and tea gardens that hug the sloping terrain.
Day 9 - Ooty
Completed in 1899 by British colonial forces, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway transports passengers through a series of gauges, across lofty bridges and around hillsides blanketed by tea plantations. Having completed this extraordinary sightseeing route, head to the nearby Toda tribe for a humbling insight into indigenous life; witness a village of barrel-shaped bamboo huts occupied by residents adorning cotton shawls and learn how water buffalos are central to this fascinating way of life.
Day 10 - Ooty to Madurai
Depart Ooty for one of India's oldest cites, Madurai. As an important place of worship and commerce, it encapsulates the complex historical tapestry of South India. Later this evening, witness a night ceremony at Madurai's biggest temple; during this procession, behold the spectacle of Lord Shiva's bronze statue being carried to the Hindu God of Love's bedchamber, accompanied by religious prayer and atmospheric temple music.
Day 11 - Madurai
This morning, visit one of India's grandest temples, Meenakshi Amman Temple. This complex presents 33,000 sculptures, illustrating vivid Hindu tales amongst 12 gargantuan gopuram towers engraved with gods, goddesses and demons - all in staggering detail. The pinnacle of your visit and testimony to the region's architectural finesse lies within the 'Hall of a Thousand Pillars', a masterpiece of lifelike sculptures clinging to towering pillars within a vast gallery.
Day 12 - Madurai to Munnar
Following breakfast, cross into the Indian state of Kerala arriving in Munnar - a region famed for its rolling hillsides coated in emerald tea plantations. The rest of your day is at leisure.
Day 13 - Munnar
Today visit natural splendours of the region including the mirror-like waters of Mattupetty Lake, call out at Echo Point whilst listening patiently to the returning call from surrounding hills, discover the origins of your morning tea at a plantation and witness the unforgettable scene of the Jungle Honey Bee Nest - 25 hives occupying a single tree. Return to Munnar for a well-deserved rest.
Day 14 - Munnar to Alleppey
In the morning, travel from Munnar to Alleppy - a hub of Kerala's vast waterway network. Here you will board a traditional houseboat which will be your transport and accommodation for the night. Enjoy a leisurely cruise through winding backwaters and meander through picturesque lagoons to admire stunning rural scenery whilst observing quaint surrounding villages.
Day 15 - Alleppey to Cochin
Beckoning merchants and explorers for over 500 years, the port city of Cochin offers a dynamic cultural mixture of Portuguese houses, ancient mosques and crumbling remains of British colonialism, all overlooking the tropical Malabar Coast. Disembark this morning for a half-day sightseeing tour to visit the seemingly modest Mattancherry Palace, home to astonishing Hindu murals depicting Puranic legends. Continue to the edifice of St Francis Church, believed to be one of India's oldest churches and gaze at Cochin's promenade, lined with distinct spiderlike Chinese fishing nets. This evening, enjoy a farewell meal at your hotel.
Day 16 - Cochin to UK
Depart your hotel after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your scheduled flight back to the UK.
Why Mercury Holidays?
Mercury Holidays have been operating for over 36 years and have more recently added a fantastic range of escorted tours to their portfolio of holidays. They have grown from small beginnings to become one of the UK's leading independent Tour Operators. They specialise in arranging award-winning package holidays, escorted tours and river cruises to destinations the world over - and all at unbelievable prices!
Their escorted tours offer the ideal choice for those seeking the value of a carefully planned itinerary along with the security and reassurance of a knowledgeable and experienced local guide on hand to ensure your touring holiday is nothing short of perfection. Packed with special touches and little extras, their itineraries will show you the true character of each destination and take you beyond the norm, whether your chosen destination is closer to home or far-flung. They also offer a price match guarantee if you find a like for like tour for less.
There are no hidden extras in their tours, and all flights, accommodation, transfers and entry fees are included. They also offer tailored extensions to create your perfect tour holiday itinerary. If you’re travelling solo, where possible they have secured a limited number of places without a single supplement on each escorted tour. These are strictly subject to availability and once they are all booked a supplement may apply.
Another multi-award winning company, they have scooped no less than 8 British Travel Awards and 90% of their clients are more than satisfied with their service.