16 Day Spiritual Southern India



Land Only


Air & Land

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2017 Dates & Prices
Dates Land Only Air & Land
Mon, Mar 27  (Sold Out) $1749 $2579*
Thu, Mar 30  (Sold Out) $1749 $2539*
Thu, Apr 06  (Sold Out) $1849 $2609*

*Not Included:
Prices do not include optional tours, India visa fees and gratuities for guides/tour managers. Land only prices do not include arrival/departure transfers.

Additional Information:
Feb 16 departure will be accommodated at Holiday Inn Cochin, Kochi.

Nov 24, Feb 13, Mar 6 and Mar 13 departures will be accommodated at Ideal Beach Resort, Mahabalipuram.

Jan 9, Feb 13 and Mar 6 departures will be accommodated at Heritage Madurai, Madurai

Entry Requirements:
Passengers traveling abroad require a passport valid for six months beyond their travel dates. All travelers are responsible to check if a visa is required for all countries on their itinerary. For visa information, check our Visas page.

Is This Trip Right for You?

This is an active trip. Our small group covers a lot of ground each day, and we spend 3-4 hours on our feet during tours and 4-7 hours driving between cities. Some of our tours require walking over uneven surfaces or up and down steep slopes. We have many early mornings. This tour is not recommended for people who have difficulty walking or who have heart conditions.

Extend Your Stay

Flight Details

Accommodation Details

  • Requests are not guaranteed and are subject to each hotel's discretion and availability

Package Includes

  • Small groups of maximum 22 travelers guaranteed
  • International flights New York-Chennai, Kochi-New York
    Other departure cities available. Please click on date of departure for selection and prices
  • Airline taxes & fuel surcharges
  • 14 nights accommodations
    • 2 nights Chennai
    • 2 nights Mahabalipuram
    • 1 night Pondicherry
    • 2 nights Thanjavur
    • 2 nights Madurai
    • 2 nights Periyar National Park
    • 3 nights Kochi
  • Hotel porterage
  • All transfers and sightseeing per itinerary in modern air-conditioned vehicles
  • 32 meals: 14 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 8 dinners with wine
  • Bottled water provided during sightseeing excursions
  • Services of English-speaking tour managers throughout
  • Comprehensive, guided sightseeing and entrance fees per itinerary
  • Comfortable wireless earphones for enhanced touring
  • Active itinerary with unique cultural features


Tour Highlights

  • Thanks to our small group size, we can get to the heart of our destination, visit places that other tours miss, and get to know the locals
  • Travel to the cross-cultural village of DakshinaChitra, an open-air museum and treasure chest of art
  • Visit the UNESCO site of Mahabalipuram, an ancient archaeological wonder rising on a rocky outcrop
  • In Kanchipuram, "City of a Thousand Temples," tour the Ekambareswarar and Kailasanathar Temples
  • Exclusive visit to a traditional silk weaving factory - meet with artists and learn how to drape and wear a sari
  • Journey to enchanting Pondicherry, a former French settlement that retains its carefree French atmosphere
  • At serene Auroville, visit the Meditation Center inspired by the teachings of the Indian yogi Sri Aurobindo
  • Witness pilgrims immersing themselves in a ritual bath at Amma Mandapam on the banks of the river
  • Tour the spectacular Maratha Palace with its priceless collections of Chola bronzes and stone carvings
  • View the impressive UNESCO-listed Lord Brahadeeswarar Temple, a magnificent architectural achievement
  • In vibrant Madurai on the banks of the Vaigai River, view the 1000-year old Meenakshi Temple
  • Visit the Gandhi Museum dedicated to this remarkable man lovingly called the "Father of the Nation"
  • Join throngs of people at the spectacular candlelit Aarti Prayer Ceremony at the Meenakshi Amman Temple
  • Enjoy two nights at Periyar National Park, the best-known sanctuary in South India, home to Bengal tigers
  • Attend a colorful Kathakali Dance performance that combines storytelling with music and physical strength
  • Visit the Paradesi Synagogue in Kochi the oldest existing Jewish synagogue in India
  • Specially arranged cooking class in Kochi reveals some of the secrets of Indian cuisine
  • In Alleppey, board a houseboat that cruises along the intricate network of canals, lakes, lagoons and rivers

DAY 1 - Depart for India
Depart for India

DAY 2 - Arrive in Chennai
Welcome to India! Arrive in cosmopolitan Chennai on the Bay of Bengal, gateway to South India; transfer to the hotel. Time to rest, relax and acclimate to your new time zone or, venture out to get acquainted with some of the city's extraordinary sights and the lively shops selling vibrant handmade silk sarees
Overnight: Chennai

DAY 3 - Government Museum, St. George Fort, Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Elliot's Beach
After a welcome lunch at a local restaurant, begin your exploration of the city at the Government Museum, with its fascinating exhibits about ancient Chennai. Then, on to St. George Fort built in 1653 by the British East India Company, housing the Tamil Nadu's Legislative Assembly and Secretariat. At the Fort Museum view important relics dating back to the British rule in India including weapons, medals and uniforms. Then, on to the 7th century Kapaleeshwarar Temple, highlighted by its ornate rainbow-colored monumental tower and pillared pavilions dedicated to Shiva. A scenic drive along the coast then takes you to Elliot’s Beach, a surprising combination of historical temples, churches and monuments accented by the natural beauty of endless skies and sea. Leisure time in this lovely setting before returning to the hotel. This evening, join your Tour Manager and fellow travelers at a briefing on the exciting discovery of South India that lies ahead. Following the briefing, dinner at the hotel
Overnight: Chennai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4 - Village of DakshinaChitra, Mahabalipuram’s Temples
This morning, travel to the cross-cultural village of DakshinaChitra, an open-air museum, acknowledged as South India’s treasure chest of art and architecture. View the astonishing collection of reconstructed authentic historical houses. Walk the lanes of the preserved village, stop at the artisan workshops and art galleries (pottery, silk weaving, basket making), and enjoy a delightful lunch. Afterward, on to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mahabalipuram, an ancient archaeological wonder rising on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Bay of Bengal. Once a major seaport, these magnificent temples and carvings are remarkable examples of exquisite architecture, illustrating tales from mythology and highlighting the development of the Dravidian temple style. On your spectacular walking tour, admire the nearly submerged Shore Temple standing by the sea for over 12 centuries, with the world’s largest bas relief and imposing twin towers. At the southern end of the site, see the Five Rathas carved from large boulders and Arjuna’s Penance, a massive bas-relief that magnificently depicts the flow of the Ganges down from the Himalayas coupled with scenes from Indian daily life. The rest of the day is at leisure for independent activities. At dinner together tonight, recall highlights of this fabulous day
Overnight: Mahabalipuram
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5 - Kanchipuram, "City of a Thousand Temples," Silk Weaving Artisans
Today, visit Kanchipuram, the "City of a Thousand Temples," one of Hinduism’s most sacred cities. Here, you tour the historically important Ekambareswarar Temple with its 540 pillars, and the stunning Kailasanathar Temple with its elaborate carvings. Next, an authentic Indian lunch before heading to Varadaraja Perumal, a huge temple complex on over 20 acres with almost 400 halls, known for its beautifully carved ceilings gilded with golden lizards. Kanchipuram, world-famous for its hand-woven silk sarees, is the center of silk production and design in India for over four centuries. As you walk along the lanes of the city, view colorful displays of sarees waving in the breeze, woven on hand looms by artisans throughout the city out of dazzling bright silks, embellished with golden threads. On your exclusive visit to a traditional silk weaving factory, meet with some of the artists and learn how to drape and wear a sari. Return to Mahabalipuram after an enlightening day
Overnight: Mahabalipuram
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 6 - Pondicherry's French Quarter, Auroville Meditation Center, Paper Factory
Your journey along the coast takes you to enchanting Pondicherry, a former French colonial settlement that still retains its carefree French atmosphere and architectural legacy. In the charming Old Quarter, with its tree lined cobbled streets, colonial villas are draped with fragrant bougainvillea, and sidewalk cafes abound. Even the policemen are dressed in traditional French red hats and belts! A relaxing lunch is followed by a visit to serene Auroville, City of Dawn famous for the Aurobindo Ashram meditation center inspired by the teachings of the Indian yogi Sri Aurobindo. Many spiritually minded visitors come here and stay to nurture his vision of human unity. Visit the golden domed Mother Temple that includes a meditation hall and the place where the Yogi is interred, bursting daily with fresh flowers. Later, tour a factory where delicate individually handcrafted papers are produced. Tonight, dinner together at the hotel
Overnight: Pondicherry
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7 - Chidambaram Temples, UNESCO Site of Darasuram, Thanjavur
Depart Pondicherry to Chidambaram, home to the massive temple complex of Nataraja, one of the holiest of all Shiva sites, a spectacular architectural marvel spread over 50 acres in the heart of the city. After time to relax over lunch travel to Darasuram, home of the outstanding UNESCO World Heritage-listed Airavatesvara Temple with its unique design symbolizing an elephant pulled chariot and exquisite carvings. As you walk up the steps, don’t be surprised to hear different musical notes when tapped. At the end of the day, you arrive in Thanjavur (Tanjore) once a thriving capital of the celebrated Chola Empire, today is known as the "rice bowl" of the Tamil Nadu region. The remainder of the day is at leisure in Thanjavur
Overnight: Thanjavur
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 8 - Amma Mandapam, Ranganathaswamy Temple, Maratha Palace, Lord Brihadeeswarar Temple
The early morning drive to Trichy is highlighted by a visit to Amma Mandapam, a religious bathing ghat on the banks of the Kaveri River. Witness pilgrims immersing themselves in a ritual bath before proceeding to worship at the sacred Ranganathaswamy Temple. Stop at this famous temple, one of the most illustrious in the country, nestled in an ethereal setting on the island of Srirangam. Following lunch, arrive at the spectacular Maratha Palace, within a maze-like complex; walk through the open-courtyard Art Gallery displaying priceless collections of superb Chola bronzes and stone carvings and visit the Saraswathi Mahal Library. The day concludes with a stop at the grand Lord Brihadeeswarar Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where thousands of people worship daily. Built by King Raja Raja Cholan over a thousand years ago, this impressive temple is one of South India’s most magnificent architectural accomplishments. Tonight, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant
Overnight: Thanjavur
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9 - Chettinad’s Palaces, Meenakshi Temple, Madurai’s Bazaars
Your travels take you to Chettinad, land of the Chettiars, a community that dates back to the Cholas making its fortunes as money lenders, merchants and jewelry dealers. Here, see lavish palaces and mansions that reflect the opulence of a bygone era. Also known for its food and Master Chefs, enjoy a distinctive traditional lunch of local favorites. Next, you reach the vibrant city of Madurai on the banks of the Vaigai River, a center of learning and pilgrimage for many centuries. In the afternoon, shop at the bargain filled bazaars bursting with treasures and jewelry shops galore. This evening, dinner at a local hotel
Overnight: Madurai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10 - Madurai's Temples, Ghandi Museum, Aarti Prayer Ceremony
Don’t miss this morning's optional Vanakkam (means welcome in Tamil language) private interactive walking tour of Madurai! At the first light of dawn, walk the quiet streets as the city awakens. Observe first-hand how everyday life begins in this Indian city from prayer rituals at the temple to market shopping -- truly a total immersion into the culture. Return for breakfast, followed by a visit with the group to the ancient Meenakshi Amman Temple, an enormous Nayak complex built between 1623 and 1655, as a majestic testament to their ruler. Later, to the massive Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace with its imposing courtyard, grand throne chambers and entry flanked by stone carved horses. A visit to the Gandhi Museum follows with opportunity to learn about this remarkable man lovingly called the "Father of the Nation" instrumental in India’s fight for independence. After dinner on your own, join together to witness throngs of people at the spectacular candlelit Aarti Prayer Ceremony at the Meenakshi Amman Temple, along with singing songs in honor of the deities. Surely, an experience you'll long remember
Optional: Vanakkam Madurai Tour (AM)
Overnight: Madurai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 11 - Periyar National Park, Spice Plantation
Today, drive to Periyar National Park perched high in the Cardamom Hills, the best-known wildlife sanctuary in South India, home to Bengal tigers, elephants, antelope, deer and many species of birdlife. Its variety of flora and fauna, pristine lakes and magnificent forests will surely make this visit most memorable. After time to relax and settle in at the hotel, stroll leisurely through one of the area’s spice plantations. Magnificent aromas permeate the landscape on your walk through fields of cardamom, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and other fragrant spices. You’ll hear about the many different ways to use these spices in both medicine and in the preparation of food. Tonight, dinner at a local restaurant
Overnight: Periyar National Park
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 12 - Periyar National Park
Thrilling activities await you today at the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Begin the day with a boat ride on the picturesque lake followed by a nature walk inside the National Park, observing animals drinking at the water's edge. A highlight of the day is your visit to the Elephant Camp and an elephant ride - watch them bathe, eat and drag piles of timber. At the end of this exciting day, perhaps treat yourself to a rejuvenating and soothing Ayurveda massage. In the evening, join the optional Kalaripayattu Martial Art Show with dinner. Kalaripayattu, one of the oldest fighting styles in the world, is believed to have been adapted from various martial art forms like karate, kung-fu and judo
Optional: Kalaripayattu Marital Art Show with dinner
Overnight: Periyar National Park
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 13 - Kochi, Kathakali Dance Performance
Arrive in Kochi, a principle port and center of the Malabar Coast spice trade since the 14th century. Known as the "Queen of the Arabian Sea," it was here that the first European settlement in India was established by Vasco da Gama. Subsequently, the city was ruled alternatively by the Dutch and the British until its independence. Time to relax before tonight’s colorful Kathakali dance performance, Kerala's popular classical and emotional form of dance, drama and music that combines storytelling with music and rigorous physical training. Following the performance, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant
Overnight: Kochi
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 14 - Mattancherry Dutch Palace, Paradesi Synagogue, Home Hosted Cooking Class
Today you’re treated to a specially arranged cooking class at a private home in Kochi. Join your hosts in the preparation of lunch while learning some of the secrets of Indian cuisine. After lunch, highlights of your exploration of Kochi include the Mattancherry Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese and later renovated by the Dutch in the 17th century. View 16th century St. Francis Church, before proceeding to the Santa Cruz Cathedral with its pastel-colored interior and impressive murals. In the heart of the Old Quarter, a visit to the Paradesi Synagogue, the oldest existing Jewish synagogue in India. Magnificently decorated with hand-painted Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers, the synagogue has preserved four important scrolls of the Old Testament. After, head to the harbor where local fishermen continue to use cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, distinctively unique to Kochi, living symbols of a centuries-old Chinese influence on this coast dating back to the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan.Enjoy the rest of the day on your own in Kochi
Overnight: Kochi
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 15 - Alleppey Back Waters, House Boat Cruise, Farewell Dinner
The drive to Alleppey reveals this tranquil backwater region of Kerala. Boarding a house boat, you cruise along this very intricate network of canals, lakes, lagoons and rivers called the "Venice of the East." Observe Kerala’s rural lifestyle as you glide past tiny villages sprinkled with rice fields and witness a way of life that has changed little through the ages. With women washing clothes on the river banks while children play in the shallows, kingfishers dart among the palm trees and the fishermen stand with water up to their necks, seeking out fish with their feet. Enjoy a specially prepared lunch of Keralan cuisine cooked on board just for you. Return to Kochi for overnight. Back at the hotel, time to freshen up before tonight's festivities. Enjoy a very special Farewell Dinner - a perfect conclusion to your wonderful journey through South India. Bid farewell to your Tour Manager and fellow travelers
Overnight: Kochi
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 16 - Depart India
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight
Meals: Breakfast

Discovery Tours itineraries may contain suggestions for activities for your leisure time; these suggestions do not constitute a recommendation nor an endorsement of any specific service provider and the decision to participate in any such activities should be made independently.
Book your Optional Tours before you travel. See more, save time, save money.
  • Tours purchased while travelling may cost an extra 10% or more
  • Tours often sell out. Avoid disappointment
  • Save your cash. Credit card processing may not be possible locally
  • Travel insurance only covers services purchased prior to departure
  • Book Online or call to book these tours up to 1 week before your departure
  • The day the optionals operate varies by the day of the week
Vanakkam Madurai Tour

Take an early morning walk through the narrow alleys of Madurai, the oldest city in South India, to get an up-close glimpse of everyday life. Discovering the morning rituals and daily activities in this ancient temple town is a fascinating and memorable experience. Witness people milking cows, cooking, and women cleaning and decorating their doorsteps with beautifully detailed Kolams (drawings) to welcome guests. Visit the local markets as they open, drink your morning tea in the twenty-four hour tea shop and enjoy sampling local snacks, including a Vada (savory doughnut). For a unique perspective into the local economy, interact with street vendors, visit the fruit and flower markets, and see a roadside hair salon.

Approximate tour duration is 2 hours.

Day #10 01 Jan 2017 - 31 Mar 2017 $24.00
01 Apr 2017 - 30 Apr 2018 $24.00
Vanakkam Madurai Tour Thumbnail
Kalaripayattu Martial Art Show with dinner

Tonight, treat yourself to a Kalaripayattu martial art show. The martial art form of Kerala, dating back to almost 2000 years, is regarded as the oldest of its kind in the world. It derives its name from two words, 'kalari' which means combat arena and 'payattu' which means practice. Following preparation with an oil massage, the performers will execute the art, using weapons such as bow and arrow, swords, spears, and maces. Afterwards for dinner, travel to Spice Village, set in 15 acres of spice gardens and resembling a traditional tribal community. At the restaurant, enjoy the timelessness of the place with its antique rosewood furniture and old-world atmosphere. Savor delicious South Indian cuisine flavored by local spices, prepared with fresh ingredients from the organic farm on site.

Approximate tour duration is 3 hours.

Day #12 01 Sep 2016 - 30 Apr 2017 $34.00
Kalaripayattu Martial Art Show with dinner Thumbnail

Spiritual Southern India, February 2017
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Had a great time. The guide, driver and his helper were all great. Gate 1 personnel were at the airport to greet me and the driver and assistant on the way back were there on time and were very courteous. The sites were incredible and the hotels were amazing. I really learned a great deal about S. India's country, its culture, religion and people. I would recommend this trip to any seasoned traveller that hasn't visited India. Thank you, Gate 1, for putting together such a comprehensive trip and for executing the plans so professionally.

Janice K. Newport Beach, CA
Spiritual Southern India, January 2017
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Our trip was fantastic. Our fellow travelers made it extra special. This is my 2nd trip with Gate 1 and I'm pleased with the level of service . Our tour guide, Sushila, was extremely helpful and knowledgeable about the history of all the sites we visited we visited. We will definitely travel with Gate 1 again.

Lallbachan S. Ocoee, FL
Spiritual Southern India, November 2016
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Back home after an amazing trip to South India. Hotels, meals, entertainment and our tour manager were excellent. I am looking forward to my next trip in January to Myanmar. I am a very satisfied customer, congrats to Gate 1 for providing excellence.

Ana H. Coral Gables, FL