A Luxury Tour of Southern India

Backwaters of Kerala – © Pixabay
Palace Mahal, Madurai, India – © Pixabay
Pondicherry, India – © Pixabay
Street Magic in Chennai, India - © Pixabay

Holiday Highlights

  • Stays in luxury hotels
  • Great sightseeing excursions
  • Luxury Rail Tour on Golden Chariot
  • Visit some of India’s most historic landmarks
  • Experience the ancient and modern culture of this spiritual country
  • Unforgettable cruise along the backwaters of Kerala
  • Sunrise views on India’s Southern Peninsula where 3 oceans meet
  • 17 Days from £6,890pp

We created a very special tailor made tour to India for Mr & Mrs J Collings from Devon who wanted to experience the culture, history and spirit of the Sub-Continent in relative luxury. This 17-day tour included stays in luxury hotels, allowing time to relax and tour at leisure in Chennai, combined with an 8-day journey on the luxury Golden Chariot train along its Southern Splendour route through the Tamil Nadu region in Southern India. Mr Colling shared his views of the unforgettable holiday.

"Excellent - Both the Taj Fisherman's Cove and Taj West End Hotels were wonderful. We had an excellent holiday in Southern India with all the hotels, train and ground transfers working well."


Day 1 – Flight to Chennai

From London Heathrow to Chennai.

Days 2–6 – Relaxing stay in Chennai

Arrive Chennai and transfer to hotel Vivanta by Taj - Fisherman's Cove for a 6-night stay on a bed & breakfast basis. The hotel is situated on the site of an Old Dutch Fort and Vivanta by Taj offers 5-star luxury by Chennai’s coast and features a private beach, modern European-style rooms and a full-service spa. The hotel is just 1.6 miles from the heritage village of Dakshina Chitra and 9.9 miles from Tiger Cave.

Day 7 & 8 – Flight to Bangalore

Transfer to Chennai Airport for an internal flight to Bangalore (Hindustan) to be met by a local rep who will present tickets for the Golden Chariot Southern Splendour rail tour and accompany you to the Taj West End hotel for a 2-night stay. The hotel is spread over 20 acres of landscaped gardens, a city retreat located in central Bangalore. Situated next to Bangalore Golf Club, across the road from Bangalore Turf Club and about 1.4 miles from the city centre. Guests can exercise at the fitness centre, or arrange day trips and car rentals at the tour desk.

Day 9 – Board the Golden Chariot Train

Check-in for the rail journey at the Taj West End and enjoy high tea while you watch a train tour presentation and cultural program. Visit the ISKON Hindu Temple before arriving at Yashwantpura Railway Station to board the Golden Chariot for a 9pm departure. Dinner is served on board.

Day 10 – Chennai and Mahabalipuram

Arrive in Chennai this morning for a sightseeing tour of Saint Thomas Cathedral, built over the tomb of apostle St Thomas, Travel along Marine Bay Road Drive to Mahabalipuram Beach. In Mahabalipuram we visit the 8th Century built stone cut Hindu temples complex located on the seashore and now an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy a sumptuous lunch at a beachside 5-Star Resort. In the afternoon we take a 2.5hrs drive to Pondicherry Railway Station to board the train. Dinner onboard.

Day 11 – Auroville

After breakfast take a 1.5 hour drive to Auroville Ashram, a spiritual township conceived in 1968, that has stimulated people from all over the world to join in this laboratory of human evolution. Enjoy a tour of Auroville Ashram, Matra Mandir and shopping in the Ashram. Return to Pondicherry for lunch in a boutique restaurant and return to the train for brief rest before a visit to Aurobindo Ashram and a 17th Century built Ganesh Hindu Temple. Enjoy wandering through the 19th Century built cobbled streets known as the Latin quarters, built by former French Colonial rulers, and a stroll along the Promenade Beach. Dinner on board train.

Day 12 – Tanjavur (Tanjore)

Tanjavur is popular for its Chola bronze collection and 3 Dimensional paintings done in gold leaf. After breakfast, visit the famous Brihadeshwara Temple complex, built in the early 11th Century and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main temple dedicated to Hindu God Lord Shiva is carved out of single granite rock which weighs around 80 tons and has a bulbous structure on the top. The temple tower is 66m high. Facing the temple is a big statue of Nandi (Sacred Bull) again carved out of single rock and measuring 16ft long and 13ft high. Later visit Former Royal Palace with and its interesting museum, art gallery and Library. After lunch in Tanjore Hotel, depart by road for Trichy Town (1.5hrs drive) to visit the Sri Rangam Temple, dedicated to Hindu God Lord Vishnu. The main entrance rises from base area of 5720sqft and goes up to 237ft, moving up in eleven progressively smaller tiers. The temple is enclosed by 7 concentric walls with a total length of over six miles. The complex has 21 towers, 39 pavilions, 50 shrines, a hall with 1000 pillars and several small water bodies inside. Non-Hindus are allowed up to the second outer courtyard but not inside the gold topped sanctum sanctorum. Join the train at Trichy Railway Station for Dinner and departure.

Day 13 – Madurai Temple Visit

Madurai has been inhabited since at least the 3rd Century BC and is famous for its silks, pearls and spices. It was this lucrative trade that let its Pandyan kings to erect the mighty Meenakshi temple in the 13th Century. Visit the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, dedicated to Hindu Goddess Paravti(consort of Lord Shiva).The present temple was reconstructed in 17th Century and houses 14 gateway towers, tallest of which is 170ft high. There are an estimated 33,000 sculptures in the complex with two golden structured shrines over the main deities in the inner sanctum. Return to train for lunch and brief rest before an evening including a visit to the 17th Century built Thirumalai Nayak Palace and a Madurai Sound and Light Show based on Silappatikaram, one of great epics of Tamil Literature. Later return to train for dinner and departure.

Day 14 – Kanyakumari and Wooden Palace

Early arrival at Nagercoil Railway Station for a 5am excursion to sunrise point at Kanyakumari. This location is the southernmost tip of Peninsular India where three oceans meet - the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. After breakfast on the train and brief rest, we drive to the early 17th Century built Padmanabhapuram Wooden Palace, a hallmark of traditional Kerala style architecture. Return to the train at Nagercoil Railway Station for departure and lunch on board. Arrive at Kochhuvelli Railway Station (Near Trivandrum) by 4:30pm and drive 45 minutes to the world famous Kovalam Beach on the Arabian Sea. Enjoy free time on the beach followed by dinner and a cultural program at a leading 5-star beach resort. Return to train by 10.30pm for departure.

Day 15 – Alleppey (Kerala Backwaters)

After breakfast we travel to Alleppey Jetty Point and board Kettuvallam , a traditional houseboat, to enjoy a cruise through the backwaters of Punnamada Lake and lunch on board. We later drive to Cochin to visit the 16th Century built Fort Kochi Town. Here we enjoy a tour of Chinese Fishing Nets, a Jewish Synagogue and the local spice market. Later we travel to Ernakulam Railway station to join the train for dinner and departure.

Day 16 – Return to Bangalore

The Golden Chariot journey ends at 11am on arrival at Yeshwanthpur Railway Station, Bangalore. Transfer to the Taj West End hotel for a 1-night stay.

Day 17 – Homeward Bound

Morning flight from Bangalore to London Heathrow, arriving lunchtime.

Selected Hotels

Vivanta by Taj, Chennai

Taj West End, Bangalore

Please note - hotels can be subject to change

Price Includes

  • 6 night stay in double Garden room at the Vivanta by Taj hotel on bed & breakfast basis
  • 3 night stay in double room at the Taj West End Hotel on a bed & breakfast basis
  • International flights with BA with 23kg hold luggage per person in Premium Economy
  • Internal flight with Jet Airways with 15kg hold luggage - additional luggage to be added at airport, 300Rupee per kg
  • Private transfers as specified
  • 7 nights on Southern Splendour train which includes: Travel and stay on board in private A/C sleeping chambers with attached bathrooms; Bed Tea and Daily three meals; Group excursions and sightseeing tours by air-conditioned buses with English speaking guide; Monument entrance fees, Bottled drinking water; Backwaters cruise in Alleppey

Price per person

From £6,890 per person sharing

Booking form

Download your tour booking form here.


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