Explore languid, verdant Kerala, temple-dotted Tamil Nadu, the historic hill stations of the rolling Western Ghats and the dusty Mysore Plateau. This extraordinary corner of the world, which its inhabitants call 'God's Own Country', is an idyllic, tropical land of ancient trading ports, traditional 'houseboats', and forested uplands dotted with churches, temples and tea and spice plantations.
See Cochin's famous Chinese fishing nets
See Mysore's beautiful Maharaja's Palace
Explore Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Visit a tea plantation
Marvel at Madurai's myriad temples
Enjoy a rickshaw ride to Madurai's markets
Discover French colonial Pondicherry
Take a sightseeing tour of Chennai
Fly overnight to Bangalore via Mumbai or Abu Dhabi.
Arrive in Bangalore, meet your Tour Manager at the airport, transfer to your hotel, check-in and enjoy dinner and a relaxed evening there.
Your discovery of India's many mysteries begins today with a tour of Bangalore. See the vast Vidhana Soudha state 'capitol', the 16th-century Bull Temple, and the Summer Palace of British military adversary Tipu Sultan. Later you'll journey by coach to Mysore.
Today you'll visit the Chamundeshwari Temple atop the Chamundi Hills, Mysore's spectacular Maharaja's Palace and the Railway Museum. This afternoon, we head to the Keshava Vishnu temple at Somnathpur, returning to Mysore in the evening to the glittering sight of the Palace illuminated by thousands of golden lights.
This morning you'll head into Tamil Nadu and the foothills of the Western Ghats as you make your way to Ooty, the 'Queen of Hill Stations' to admire its crumbling colonial splendour, Gothic St Stephen’s Church and Kew-inspired Botanical Gardens. En route, you may also see deer, peacocks and even elephants on the roadside.
Today you'll ride the historic Nilgiri Mountain Railway through forested hills to Coonoor. On the way, you'll stop for a tour of a tea factory followed by an included lunch, then continue to Mettupalayam before heading south to your next hotel, in nearby Coimbatore.
This afternoon we'll take the Ernakulam Express to Kerala for your two-night stay in Kochi.
After a relaxed breakfast, venture out on a guided tour of Kochi. Wander the grounds of Mattancherry Palace, visit the Paradesi Synagogue - the oldest operational site of Jewish worship in the Commonwealth - and tour Fort Kochi, an area famous for its picturesque Chinese fishing nets.
This evening, experience something unique and different - a traditional Kathakali dance performance.
Today you'll head to Alleppey and enter Kerala's backwaters, to board a traditional thatch-roofed 'kettuvallam' houseboat. Spend the afternoon relaxing on-board as the vessel wends its way through the Keralan waterways, passing rice fields, coconut plantations, temples and tiny islands. Later, your on-board chef will prepare a traditional Keralan evening meal for you before you spend the night on board.
Wave a fond farewell to your kettuvallam, and journey through a rolling landscape of tea plantations back into the foothills of the Western Ghats to your next hotel, in Periyar. Once settled in, join your guide for a tour of a local spice plantation.
Witness India's wild side this morning with an optional guided walk through Periyar's wildlife sanctuary. In the afternoon, take a relaxing boat-ride on the lake at the sanctuary's centre. Possibly see numerous rare and endangered mammals, including Indian elephants, palm civets, giant squirrels and - for the lucky few - wild tigers and leopards.
Descending from hill country, you'll journey to Madurai - one of Asia's oldest cities and home to the incredible Meenakshi Temple.
This morning you'll have an introduction to Madurai's Old City, with its colourful temple gates, known as gopurams, and beautiful Meenakshi temple. You'll also have the chance to visit the beautiful 17th-century palace of Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal. Later, enjoy the buzz of the city by night as you take a cycle-rickshaw through the streets and local markets.
Travel through a landscape of rice-paddies to Gallic Pondicherry, where French is still widely spoken and kepi-wearing 'gendarmes' patrol the promenade.
Visit the Pondicherry Museum, and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram spiritual community before we head north along the coast to the seaside resort of Mahabalipuram, where you'll spend your final two nights in India.
Today's morning sightseeing tour includes the extraordinary, 8th-century Shore Temple, the monolithic stone 'chariots' of the Pancha Pandava Rathas complex and the vast, cave-cut Krishna Mandapam Temple.
This evening you'll enjoy a Farewell Dinner at your hotel.
You'll say goodbye to India, today. After transferring to Chennai you'll take a panoramic tour of the city of Clive of India, which will include the Fort Museum, the famous Chepauk Cricket Stadium and St Mary's Church - the 'Westminster Abbey' of Asia.
After the tour, we'll transfer to the airport to board your overnight flight home via Mumbai or Abu Dhabi.
Arrive back in the UK at the end of a colourful, enthralling journey.
14 nights' hotel half-board accommodation at hotels in Bangalore (1 night), Mysore (2), Ooty (1), Coimbatore (1), Kochi (2), Periyar (2), Madurai (2), Pondicherry (1) and Mahabalipuram (2)
One night's full-board accommodation in a traditional, thatch-roofed 'kettuvallam' houseboat
Return flights from the UK to Bangalore via Mumbai, returning from Chennai
Air-conditioned coach travel throughout
Fully escorted by a friendly, experienced Tour Manager
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
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The award-winning, group tour company, Newmarket Holidays has been arranging coach, rail, cruise and air travel for their clients for over 30 years. As one of the UK’s largest, independently owned tour operators they offer fully inclusive short breaks as well as longer explorations. All of their holidays include travel and transfers, accommodation, excursions and knowledgeable tour managers to ensure you have a hassle-free trip.
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Please note: After many years of operation, they have decided to discontinue their UK and European coach breaks and tours departing from local pick-ups in the UK (as of 2019), and to concentrate their resources on their range of UK, European and Worldwide air holidays, ocean cruises and river cruises.
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