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Southern India

Thalis and temples - Trip for singles

Book From   € 999,-
GROUP SIZE: 4-24 | 23 DAYS

Southern India

Here you can find the day-to-day description for Southern India

Highlights

There's plenty to do in this beautiful region. Select below or on the map opposite, the highlight you want to read more information about. Read through carefully and then go directly to the tour description.
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Mamallapuram

Mamallapuram

Visit the delicate coastal temple in Mamallapuram. The entrance to the temple is a courtyard scarred by the wind and the sea. It holds artificially made figures of mystical creatures that are supposed to protect the temple. |India

Pondicherry

Pondicherry

Pondicherry is a charming coastal village that has a French past that is still visible in the architecture. |India

Tiruchirappalli

Madurai

Madurai

Visit the Thirumali Nayak Palace. This building from the 17 th century was erected in the Indo-Moorish style. |India

Periyar (Nationaal Park)

Alleppey

Alleppey

Take a boat tour through the Backwaters, an amazing area full of canals, lakes and rivers. |India

Kochi

Kochi

One of Kochi's attractions are the famous Chinese fishing nets. You can't leave Kochi without having tried one of the delicious fish dishes! |India

Wayanad

Wayanad

Wayanad is surrounded by coffee, tea- and herb plantations. A fantastic place to enjoy the simplicity after all the pomp and splendour! |India

Mysore

Mysore

A visit of Mysore Palace is a must! The breath-taking building is a fantastic example of the overwhelming splendour the former rulers surrounded themselves with. |India

Hassan

Hassan

Hassan is your starting point for a visit of the impressive Hoysala temples of Belur and Halebid which are pearls of Indian architecture. India

Hampi

Hampi

Hampi is more than worth a visit. The temple ruins are on the UNESCO World Heritage List and are a highlight for everyone travelling in India. |India

Goa

Goa

Enjoy the tropical paradise for every traveller! Goa offers breathtakingly beautiful sandy beaches, turquoise waters, fairy- tale fauna and flora, good weather and friendly people. |India

Mumbai

Mumbai

Mumbai is a well-off metropolis where rich and poor live next to each other. And Mumbai is also the centre of the big film industry.

Day to Day description

Transport Route Overnight stay
1 Mamallapuram Mamallapuram
2 Mamallapuram Mamallapuram
3 Bus Mamallapuram - Pondicherry Pondicherry
4 Bus Pondicherry - Thanjavur - Tiruchirappalli Tiruchirappalli
5 Bus Tiruchirappalli - Madurai Madurai
6 Madurai Madurai
7 Bus Madurai - Periyar National Park Periyar National Park
8 Periyar National Park Periyar National Park
9 Bus Periyar National Park - Alleppey (Backwaters) Alleppey (Backwaters)
10 Boat, Bus Alleppey (Backwaters) - Alappuzha - Kochi Kochi
11 Kochi Kochi
12 Bus, Train Kochi - Calicut - Wayanad Wayanad
13 Bus Wayanad - Mysore Mysore
14 Mysore Mysore
15 Bus Mysore - Sravanabelagola - Halebid - Hassan Hassan
16 Bus Hassan - Hospet/Hampi Hospet
17 Hospet/Hampi Hospet
18 Train Hospet/Hampi - Goa Goa
19 Goa Goa
20 Train Goa - Mumbai Night train to Mumbai
21 Mumbai Mumbai
22 Mumbai Mumbai
23 Mumbai End of tour

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Day 1: Mamallapuram

Welcome to South India!

Your tour starts in Mamallapuram, where you can use your hotel room from check in time (12.00 hrs at noon) on day 1. Mamallapuram is situated only 55 km (1 to 1½ hour drive) from the international airport of Chennai. Your travel companions will arrive later today or early tomorrow morning, the exact time will be depending on their flight schedule. You will meet your English speaking tour leader in the morning of day 2, in the lobby of your hotel in Mamallapuram.

Day 2: Mamallapuram

How green can you go? TIP

UNESCO World Heritage site, Mamallapuram is a wonderful place to enjoy Indian country life. Travellers are drawn here for its miles of unspoiled beaches and its famous stone carvings. There will be  time to explore the famous granite Shore temple and to see other Pallava sculptures. You may like to rent a bike to discover more of India’s countryside.

Day 3: Mamallapuram - Pondicherry

Today we drive to Pondicherry, a former French enclave known first and foremost for the mystic Sri Aurobindo, whose followers founded temples, Ayurvedic clinics and countless other organizations. North of the city lies Auroville, an ideal city planned by Aurobindo and his followers. This city should have become a model for the ideal society of the future, and when people started to build it, soil from 124 countries was brought together in a giant urn to stress the unity of mankind.

Karigari Project

The Literacy India Foundation, an organisation dedicated to fighting illiteracy, started the 'Karigari Project', which we support in collaboration with our local agent in India. 'Karigari' helps women to be self-sufficient through offering courses in sewing, embroidery, driving, learning to use the computer and learning to read.

Read More

Day 4: Pondicherry - Thanjavur - Tiruchirappalli

Today you will first visit Thanjavur. The city and the surrounding lands are located in the fertile basin of the Cauvery River. The great Shiva temple was built in the 10th century by Emperor Rajaraja I and is one of the finest buildings in the world. On the temple grounds stands a huge statue of Nandi the bull, which Shiva rides. Inside a former palace is one of the most notable collections of bronze statues in the country.

After a two hour drive we arrive in Tiruchirappalli (Trichy). On the north side of this chaotic city, on an island in the Cauvery River is India’s largest temple complex, Srirangam. The main gate is more than ninety metres high and twenty thousand people live and work in this labyrinth where numerous pilgrims arrive daily. Inside the temple and along the riverside, festivals are almost continuously celebrated.

The total travel time for today is approximately six hours (275 km).

Day 5: Tiruchirappalli - Madurai

Today we travel to Madurai, the oldest city in Tamil Nadu. It still attracts thousands of pilgrims to its Meenakshi temple and is one of the larges and oldest of its kind in India. Priests here perform rituals, you can be blessed by an elephant and astrologers will offer to read your palm. There is also the opportunity to take a rickshaw ride through the city where a local guide will point out other points of interest.

Day 6: Madurai

Day at leisure. Continue to explore the Meenakshi temple where upon the grounds you will find a complete market full of religious trinkets. In the bath of the temple, bathe all believers. The temple also has a museum with beautiful bronze statues. In the evening, within the walls of the temple, sermons and concerts are often given in honor of the gods. Not to be missed is the evening ceremony where the god Shiva is headed to the bedroom of his wife Meenakshi. This takes place with great fanfare. Madurai is also an excellent place to look around at bronze statues, carpets or other souvenirs. Optional sightseeing by rickshaw is also well worthwhile!

Day 7: Madurai - Periyar National Park

How green can you go? TIP

You will travel to an area where tropical rainforest still largely remains well maintained: the Periyar National Park. Just before the end of the ride you will pass a real border barrier at the border with the state of Kerala. You stay in a nice hotel in Thekkady on the edge of the reserve.

Wildlife in the Periyar National Park can best be observed by boat. There are many animals to see, including herds of elephants, bison and wild boar troops. There are also various types of monkeys that are often close to the hotel. Other animals in the park include otters and porcupines. Among the most important bird species in the area are the ospreys and Snake-necked birds. It is also possible to arrange hikes through the jungle, accompanied by a guide.

Day 8: Periyar National Park

Another free day. You can choose to do other activities in the national park or instead sign up for a so-called "spice tour". This is a great way to explore this beautiful green area. Using the group bus, you will visit a spice plantation in the countryside region where a guide will explain to you about the many spices including vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and pepper.

Day 9: Periyar National Park - Alleppey (Backwaters)

Today you drive to the famous "backwaters", a beautiful area full of canals, lakes and creeks. The whole life of the population takes place here on the water. The people sail, fish, swim and bathe there. They use it to do their laundry and dishes too. Their homes are by the water and it is quite common to see people talking for an hour, while standing with all but their heads submerged. Boats will carry supplies and the main mode of public transport is by water. You'll stay in Thrikkunnapuzha. Farmers are mainly living in this area of Kerala. The agricultural areas are all located below sea level. Various migratory birds also take up temporary residence here.

The total travel time for today is approximately five hours (145 km).

Day 10: Alleppey (Backwaters) - Alappuzha - Kochi

After breakfast travel to the busy market place of Alappuzha. After lunch we board the ferry for a 3 to 4 hour journey through the famous 'backwaters', a beautiful territory full of channels, lakes and coves. You can sunbathe on the deck or watch the landscape go by from the shelter of the boat. This trip is included.

Then you travel in 1 ½ hours (65 km) further to the ancient city of Kochi on the Arabian Sea. Kochi is the center of the famous dance drama of Kerala, the Kathakali. This dance is characterized by grotesque gestures, gorgeous costumes and very extensive make-up. The stories are usually drawn from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. First, a little dance is performed that the public remains hidden from, behind a white sheet. This is a special dance for the gods. At every performance there is an oil lamp on the front edge of the stage. This lamp symbolizes the presence of the divine.

What can I do?

Sustainable travel means taking into account the people, nature and culture so that travel remains possible in the future. The negative effects of tourism are increasingly palpable. 'So what can I do?', you may ask. Shoestring gives you 10 tips. Read More

Day 11: Kochi

Kochi (also known as Cochin) is situated on a number of islands and peninsulas linked by ferries. Today you are free to explore the area at leisure.

Visit the ‘Dutch Palace’ and admire its attractive wall paintings which portray episodes from Hindu mythology or the 16th century Jewish synagogue in the only Jewish community in India. The Bolgatty Palace on the island of the same name is a stately home where the former Dutch colonial governor of Kochi lived, and is also a great place to enjoy your lunch under the tall tropical trees around the lagoon.

Day 12: Kochi - Calicut - Wayanad

First this morning you take the train to Calicut, a journey of around 4 hours. After arriving in Calicut you continue by road to the 'hill station' of Wayanad, nestled among the coffee, tea and spice plantations in the Western Ghats mountain range.

Explore the village arts and crafts, important for the numerous different Adivasi tribes from the area. If time permits, take a jeep safari in the tranquil Wayanad National Park where with any luck you'll encounter wild elephants and other wildlife.

Day 13: Wayanad - Mysore

Journey to Mysore by bus. Mysore is situated at a pleasantly cool height on the Decca Plateau and is the city of sandalwood, the basis for making such incense. In the streets, the sweet smell of incense and perfume sometimes greets you from afar. The Devaraja market, where vegetables and fruit are displayed in cleverly constructed stacks, is one of the most photogenic markets in the country. The people are very friendly and before you know it you're in the perfume sellers’ booth sniffing their most exotic scents.

The total travel time for today is about 4 ½ hours.

Day 14: Mysore

Free day. An essential highlight of any visit to Mysore is the palace of the Maharaja. The breathtaking building is an excellent example of the overwhelming splendour in which the former princes lived. Aside from the palace, visit Mysore city to enjoy a wonderful stroll around the shady lanes and alongside the many beautiful buildings. You can also go to Chamundi Hill, from where you have a lovely view over the city.

You may choose an excursion to Somnathpur. The Kesava temple is located on the outskirts of the village and lies about 33 miles east of Mysore. The walls of this stunning building are filled with exuberant sculptures of scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita. The ceilings display very intricate patterns and beautiful pictures of many different Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism and you can really see the craftsmanship of the artists.

Day 15: Mysore - Sravanabelagola - Halebid - Hassan

The end point of today is Hassan, but before you reach there, you will first witness another highlight of the program: Sravanabelagola. It is one of the oldest and most important pilgrimage sites for Jains in India. You can climb up the stairs barefoot however in summer it can be a problem because the stone steps sometimes get very hot, but you can keep your socks on.

The trip continues to Hassan, the starting point for visiting the beautiful Hoysala temples of Belur and Halebid. They contain intricate and detailed carvings and they have a high base with friezes that run around the walls. The sculptures of Halebid are more sophisticated than those of Belur. The best known and most impressive temples of Halebid are the Kedareshvara Hoysaleshvara temples. The total travel time for today is about 3 ½ hours (145 km).

Day 16: Hassan - Hospet/Hampi

After breakfast you will leave for Hospet. Hospet is situated 13 km from Hampi and is the place where we spend the night. This afternoon you can go by bus to Hampi for a first exploration. For many, Hampi is the favourite place on this trip. This once colossal city was reduced to just a few temples during the 16th Century destruction. Since then, this once wealthy city has relied on small numbers of pilgrims and priests. Hampi Bazar is dominated by the Virupaksha temple. From the other end leads a path to the main attraction of the ruins, the Vitthala temple. This unfinished temple has a one-piece stone chariot, eight meters in height and is in very good condition. This temple is dedicated to Vishnu and the building is now on the list of UNESCO s’ World Heritage Monuments.

Day 17: Hospet/Hampi

Free day. Hampi is situated on the southern bank of the Tungabhadra, in a rocky environment, punctuated with green banana plantations. Rise early to go and see the first red rays of the sun splintering down onto the mighty granite rocks.

On the north side of downtown, near the river, lie the great temples of Vijayanagar. The main one, the Vithoba temple, is undoubtedly the most northerly of the three. In the entrance hall are fourteen columns with "Yali's' (elephant-lion sculptures), together with their riders. South of the Sule Bazar are the Lotus Mahal and Elephant Stables. The Lotus Mahal is an elegant pavilion designed in a walled complex known as the Zezana (Harem). The building takes its name from the lotus bud in the center of the dome ceiling.

Day 18: Hospet/Hampi - Goa

Goa, the smallest state of India is known for its endless beaches. What is often forgotten however is that this former Portuguese colony in many aspects contains interesting differences with the rest of India. There's definitely more to offer than just sun, sea and sand. The interior has a varied landscape and everywhere you will find reminders of the Portuguese rule.

Everywhere there is a tropical feeling and many markets and shops stop to take a siesta in the afternoon, to escape the heat. Benaulim is located in the central part of Goa, almost hidden among the greenery. Tourism is still relatively small here, but for the enthusiast, there is plenty of entertainment in the nearby Colva. Further away are more beautiful beaches, all accessible by public transport or taxi. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places is Palolem Goa, around one hour’s drive south. The total travel time for today is approx. 8 hours (340 km).

Sustainable travel

As a responsible company our mission is to increase and improve sustainability in our business. Find out more about the measures that we currently take as well as our further plans to ensure we achieve our green ambitions. Read More

Day 19: Goa

You have the next couple of days free. Given the central location you can easily make excursions from Benaulim to other parts of Goa. There is a weekly flea market in north Anjuna, where the old hippie era still seems to live on. Closer still is the capital Panaji, a quaint town with a distinct Mediterranean feel. Strolling through the narrow streets with overhanging balconies and many churches, you find yourself more in Portugal than in India.

Day 20: Goa - Mumbai

Another day in Goa to breathe the fresh air and culture. At the end of the day you will have a transfer to the train station where you will board the night train to Mumbai.

Day 21: Mumbai

Early this morning we arrive at the immense Victoria Station in Mumbai, the fastest growing city in India. It's an impressive metropolis full of contrasts. In the district of Colaba is the Gateway of India, a remarkable triumphal arch at the spot where the English first stepped onto Indian shores. Along the quiet avenues of Colaba you can find beautiful colonial buildings. Under the arcades along the Colaba Causeway, there are endless market stalls erected on the sidewalks. You will still see the red English double-deckers driving through the streets of Colaba.

Day 22: Mumbai

Free day. Perhaps you can take a trip to the coast, just offshore lies the island Elephanta where you have a beautiful view of the skyline of this part of town. Other attractions include the Prince of Wales Museum, Hanging Gardens and the Towers of Silence on Malabar Hill, the sea mosque of Haji Ali, Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat and the municipal open air laundry!

The group normally departs late tonight/early tomorrow.

Day 23: Mumbai

The last day of your tour. You can use your hotel room in Mumbai until check out time (most times at 12.00 hrs noon) But you can of course leave luggage with the hotel until your departure if necessary.
We wish you a comfortable journey home and are sure you will take with you some wonderful memories of South India.

Your personal ‘my.shoestring’ page on our website is the perfect way to make contact with other travellers before and after your trip. You can read and create journals from trips and upload your photos onto the photo gallery. Visit my shoestring today.

When booking your tour, please check to see whether you need any post-tour nights, bearing in mind that accommodation for the night of the final day of the tour (day 23) is not included

Note: The above journey time per day is of course approximate.

FESTIVAL TOURS


During the trip departing on September 17, 2017 visit the DUSSHERA
FESTIVAL in Mysore.

Note: The travel routes during festival tours may be adapted. If this is the case you can find information under the 'News' section. For more information about the festivals themselves, check under 'More info' and then 'Festivals'.
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