South India: Coast to Coast

South India: Coast to Coast
Group tour with Pamela Draycott
July/August 2018

The visit is a must for those with an interest in the great religions of India. It will provide a wide range of opportunities to experience first-hand the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of southern India and reflect on the diversity of religions and cultures practiced. The tour is varied with time for relaxation and ample opportunity to deepen understanding and gather photographs, video and artefacts – a particular help for teachers! The tour is open to teachers and others.
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The Route

Our coast to coast journey begins in Chennai before moving on to visit the world heritage site of Mahabalipuram and the former French coastal colony of Pondicherry. From here, we continue to Trichy and Madurai with their magnificent temples, ascend the mountains of the Western Ghats with their tea and spice farms, and end our journey on the coast at Cochin.

Tour Leader

Pamela is an experienced tour and pilgrimage leader, and is widely experienced in the field of Religious Education. She worked for many years for RE Today, was a Curriculum Adviser for RE and Citizenship for Kent County Council and an Associate Head teacher at a rapidly improving inner London school.
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If this is your first trip to India the tour is designed to give insight into this captivating continent. If you have travelled with Pamela to India previously on her ‘Encountering Religions’ tour you will find that, ‘Southern India: Coast to Coast’, complements your previous experience very well indeed.

Scroll down for the full itinerary.

South India: Coast to Coast

Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry – Trichy – Madurai – Munnar – Cochin – Kumarakom

Itinerary

DAY 1: SATURDAY 28TH JULY 2018 – FLY UK TO CHENNAI

We meet at Heathrow Terminal 3 to board Emirates flight EK0002 from Heathrow (14:15) to Dubai (00:15). Change at Dubai to board connecting Emirates flight EK0544 from Dubai (02:45) to Chennai (08:25) the next morning.

DAY 2: SUNDAY 29TH JULY 2018 – CHENNAI

On arrival in Chennai we transfer to the Hotel Accord. After freshening up, we head out for our first encounter with the city, visiting two of Chennai’s most interesting places of worship. First we make our way to St Mary’s Anglican Church, the oldest British building in India (fondly known to locals as the ‘Westminster Abbey of the East’), before visiting the Hindu temple of Kapaleeshwarar, a grand and impressive example of Tamil temple architecture with thousands of trademark colourful carvings.

Overnight in Hotel Accord, Chennai

DAY 3: MONDAY 30TH JULY 2018 – CHENNAI

Today we ascend St Thomas’ Mount, where it is believed that the apostle was martyred, and later visit his tomb in the Roman Catholic Basilica of San Thome.

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Overnight in Hotel Accord, Chennai

DAY 4: TUESDAY 31ST JULY 2018 – PONDICHERRY

This morning we leave Chennai and drive south along the Coromandal Coast to Mahabalipuram, the ancient and stunning ‘temple by the sea’.

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After lunch we continue south on the coastal road down to the French colonial seaside town of Pondicherry. There will be an opportunity to take an evening stroll along the famous beachfront promenade.

Our overnight stay is at the charming heritage hotel Maison Perumal.

DAY 5: WEDNESDAY 1ST AUGUST 2018 – PONDICHERRY

Full day guided sightseeing of Pondicherry.

Overnight in Maison Perumal, Pondicherry

DAY 6: THURSDAY 2ND AUGUST 2018 –TRAIN TO TRICHY

Morning transfer to Pondicherry railway station to board “Pdy Cape Express”, train number 16861 from Pondicherry (11:45) to Trichy (17:05) in 2-Tier AC Class. Journey time: 5h 20m

Please note Pondicherry’s new name is Puducherry, and Trichy’s long-form name is Tiruchchirapali.

At Trichy we check into the Hotel Breeze Residency

Overnight in Hotel Breeze Residency, Trichy

DAY 7: FRIDAY 3RD AUGUST 2018 – TRICHY TEMPLES & DRIVE TO MADURAI

Today is a day for fascinating temple visits. In the morning we stretch our legs before climbing the 326 steps up to the Rock Fort to visit its historic temples, and in the afternoon we explore the magnificent and colourful Ranganathaswamy Temple.

Trichy

After lunch we will drive 135km (3-4 hours) to Madurai and check into hotel Heritage Madurai.

DAY 8: SATURDAY 4TH AUGUST 2018 – MADURAI

The Shri Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is arguably the finest and most fascinating temple complex in India, and is a major pilgrimage centre in the south. Dedicated to “the fish-eyed goddess” Meenakshi, the site houses several shrines surrounded by 14 large colourful gateway towers.

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Just a mile down the road, we also stop to visit the impressive 17th century king’s palace of Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal. The afternoon is at leisure.

Overnight in Heritage Madurai

DAY 9: SUNDAY 5TH AUGUST 2018 – DRIVE MADURAI TO MUNNAR

Today we leave the frenetic city of Madurai and head to the cooler climes of Munnar, the old British hill station surrounded by tea estates and green hills. The 155km drive will take 4-5 hours. Here we check in to Fragrant Nature for two nights.

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Overnight in Fragrant Nature, Munnar

DAY 10: MONDAY 6TH AUGUST 2018 – MUNNAR

Spend the day enjoying the tranquil surroundings and plantations. We will also visit the British-era CSI Christ Church and Catholic Mount Carmel Church.

Overnight in Fragrant Nature, Munnar

DAY 11: TUESDAY 7TH AUGUST 2018 – DRIVE MUNNAR TO COCHIN

This morning we visit the Tea Museum, as close as you can get to a working tea factory around Munnar, and then we descend to Fort Cochin (stopping at a spice farm en route) and check in to hotel Fragrant Nature. Total drive: 130km in 4 hours.

Overnight in Fragrant Nature, Cochin

DAY 12: WEDNESDAY 8TH AUGUST 2018 – FORT COCHIN

Today we have a day sightseeing in Cochin where we visit the Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Jewish synagogue and St Francis Anglican Church.

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We also make a visit to the Mattancherry palace with its Keralan style murals depicting Hindu temple art, portraits and exhibitions of the Rajas of Kochi. In the evening we will witness traditional Keralan dances before returning to the hotel for dinner and a well-deserved overnight rest.

Overnight in Fragrant Nature, Cochin

DAY 13: THURSDAY 9TH AUGUST 2018 – BACKWATER CRUISE

Today we take a relaxing backwater cruise and check into hotel Cocobay in the backwaters at Kumarakom.

Overnight in Cocobay, Kumarakom

DAY 14: FRIDAY 10TH AUGUST 2018 – DAY AT LEISURE IN RESORT

Spend the final day relaxing in the backwater resort.

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Overnight in Cocobay, Kumarakom

DAY 15: SATURDAY 11TH AUGUST 2018 – INTERNATIONAL DEPARTURE

Early morning transfer to Cochin airport to board Emirates flight EK0531 from Cochin (10:30) to Dubai (12:55). Change at Dubai to board connecting Emirates flight EK0003 from Dubai (14:15) to London Heathrow (18:40).

The cost per person sharing a twin or double room:
£2,660
Single room supplement:
£510
The cost includes:
  • International return flight from London Heathrow to Chennai, and from Cochin to London Heathrow, as per itinerary, with Emirates in Economy Class. (Guests joining from outside the UK – please get in touch for alternative airfares)
  • 13 nights’ accommodation in a sharing twin or double room or single room with en-suite facilities (Check-in is 1400 hrs and checkout 12 noon. Early check-in late checkouts are subject to availability).
  • Breakfast and dinner each day
  • All arrival/departure transfers, long drives and sightseeing by a chauffeur driven private air-conditioned car or coach
  • Train tickets and reservations as per itinerary
  • Services of a local English-speaking representative for all arrival and departure transfers to assist you at airports
  • Services of English speaking guide during sightseeing as specified in the itinerary.
  • Entrance fees to all monuments during sightseeing as specified in your itinerary
  • Mineral water while travelling
  • Full ATOL bonding
The cost does not include:
  • India visa fee (USD $75 per person).
  • Lunches
  • Any expenses of a personal nature like laundry, telephone calls, beverages, gratuities etc.
  • Camera fees at monuments and other places of interest.
  • Travel Insurance: It is essential to have adequate travel insurance in place before your departure. This should be appropriate for your age, health and destination you are visiting.
Please ensure:
  • It includes comprehensive medical and repatriation cover
  • It provides cover for your whole trip
  • It covers you for all activities
  • It covers all your pre-existing medical conditions
  • Keep your Policy Number and Insurer’s 24-hour Emergency Number handy with you

A non-refundable deposit of £400.00 per person is needed at the time of booking. Balance payments will be due 8 weeks before departure

CONTACT US

To enquire or make a booking on this tour, please call: 020 8901 7630 Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm, Saturday 11am – 4pm

TESTIMONIALS:
“I cannot recommend this company enough. Safe to say India has got under our skin and into our hearts, and when we visit again we will definitely be booking with this company - if you are thinking of going I urge you to do the same.”- Gillian and Ashley Iredale
``The whole experience was great, the most relaxing day of the holiday was the cruise up the backwaters when the whole group experienced it together``- Margaret Fortune
``A whole variety of experiences- worship, culture, scenery, friendliness of the people & their hospitality``- Daphne Brindle
``Being in India and witnessing the faith that the people of India have, Hindus, Muslim or Christians, seeing with my own eyes the devotion the people have`` - Steve Breward
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