A Kannanghat Bhagavati Theyyam at the festival at Kavinisseri Bhagavati temple, Kannur, Kerala, India

Itinerary: Spirit of the South - Journey to South India

31 January to 25 February 2025

With its sumptuous mix of traditions, spiritual beliefs, festivals, architecture and landscapes, India will set your memories ablaze long after you've left its shores. The spirit of India has fascinated the world with its very mystique. There is no place on earth which enjoys such a diversity of environments and a profusion of creative energies as India, a subcontinent with a 5000-year-old history. A civilization united by its diversity, India has always been known as a land where history echoes itself with all its wonders in every piece of stone and every particle of dust. Our Indian Journeys seek to explore and open windows, to link myth and ritual to ageless arts forms and vibrant heritage in the natural and built environment. Like a giant wedge plunging into the ocean, South India is the subcontinent's steamy heartland – a lush contrast to the peaks and plains in the north.

Hands with henna holding lit candle

On this journey you will:

• immerse yourself in the diverse languages, cuisines, peoples, and cultures of the South
• engage with a whirl of colour, devotion, and rituals of ancient Hinduism at the great temple cities of Madurai, Mysore, Tanjavur, Hampi and more
• journey deep into the forests and go spotting for gibbon, hornbills, elephants, tigers, butterflies, and jungle denizens
• sample an array of local foods and delicacies in authentic settings
• encounter the time-honoured crafts people, devotional image makers and sculptors of the South
• witness a kaleidoscope of Kathakali and Theyyam dance forms
• engage with local peoples, places and wildlife
• drift through Kerala’s lush backwaters on a traditional ‘houseboat’
• explore multi-cultural Kochi on the Malabar Coast

Is this trip right for you?:

Accommodation:

We understand that travel isn't all about a fleeting glimpse of popular mass tourist spots, but is also about time, space, privacy and those special destinations and moments that turn your holiday into a truly magical experience. When we select places to stay, we look for the interesting, imaginative, and hospitable. Many of the hotels are ‘heritage’ style, some being converted former residences, and as such room types may vary.

PLEASE NOTE: Hotels are 'indicative' at this stage and subject to change. They will be confirmed closer to departure.

Please note that the order of visits and activities described may be modified to accommodate changes in flight schedules, special access to museums and craftspeople, the pathways chosen by our experienced and knowledgeable local guides, local road conditions and unexpected contingencies such as festivals, street processions, weather events or religious ceremonies. Prices are subject to change. Driving times are indicative only, as many things can slow us down!

Elephant herd in water, Pinnawala, Sri Lanka

Vehicles:

Our vehicles are fully registered with the Indian Government Tourist permit systems and are inspected for safety and road worthiness. Drivers are all licensed.

Solo Travel:

Many of Zen ‘Journeyists’ are solo travellers, and with our small groups you may travel solo ‘but not alone’. They are experts in understanding and valuing the uniqueness of individuals within a group situation. You will always have someone to take a photo of you…and the new friends you will have made. If you wish to share a room, we will endeavour to match you with a person of the same gender, but if we can’t do this then the Single Supplement must be applied.

Meals:

Meals included in the tour price are indicated in the itinerary as per B (breakfast), L (lunch), and D (dinner).

Traditional meals served on banana leaf, South India
Download detailed printable itinerary: Spirit of the South: Journey to South India - PDF format

Itinerary: (subject to change)

Day 1: 31 January 2025, Arrive Chennai – Mahabalipuram

Depart your home cities this morning to arrive at Chennai Airport where we will be met and transferred to the hotel in Mahabalipuram (around 1 hour 30 minutes’ drive).

Overnight stay: Kences Palm Beach Resort or similar

Day 2: 1 February 2025, Mahabalipuram, B/Welcome Dinner

After a leisurely morning, our Journey to the South begins. Famous for its intricately carved temples and rock-cut caves, Mahabalipuram as it is famously known, is a historically important and well-loved tourist location situated on the Coromandel Coast along the Bay of Bengal. The serenity, the alluring atmosphere and the impressive setting with many beautiful white sandy beaches dotted with casuarina trees are all reasons as to why one would want to visit this wonderful town. We visit the Shore Temple, lashed by the waves of the sea, and the seven rathasor temple chariots, a group of monolithic monuments and animal figures carved out of gigantic boulders of solid rock, the earliest known examples of Dravidian (Southern Indian) architecture.

Overnight stay: Ideal Beach Resort or Kences Palm Beach Resort

Shore temple in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Five Rathas, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Day 3: 2 February 2025, Mahabalipuram – Thanjavur, B/D

On route today there is an opportunity to visit Chidambaram, home to what is perhaps the most iconic temple in India dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Chidambaram Nataraja temple is one of the few temples in India that feature Shiva as an anthropomorphic being, rather than being represented by the lingam. (Phallic form of Lord Shiva), The bejewelled image enshrined in the temple poses in the iconic cosmic dance as Lord Shiva dances to destroy the universe. Consisting of five courts, the 10th century temple was rebuilt around 1213 AD and sprawls across a vast environment teeming with pilgrims and sacred activities. The temple is ancient and important from the historical, sculptural, and architectural viewpoints.

The Gangaikondacholapuram Temple was built by the Chola king Rajendra Chola in the 11th century and has the largest Shiva lingamin South India. This temple is a living history of the Cholas in stone from the period of Rajendra-I, and a beautiful gallery of Chola art and architecture. Many sculptures brought from Andhra, Karnataka and Bengal as war trophies are also preserved in the temple and in the nearby villages. Recently UNESCO declared the temple a world heritage monument.

Overnight stay: Svatma or Great Trails River View Resort

Day 4: 3 February 2025, Thanjavur, B/D

In this part of Tamil Nadu, a temple famed for size and detail has mystified archaeologists and inspired legends.In the city of Thanjavur sits a massive temple spotted easily from several kilometres away.The Cholas came to power in the late 9th century, and until the late 13th century, they ruled most of south India, Sri Lanka, the Maldive Islands, and even parts of the Indonesian island of Java from their homeland near Thanjavur. They also maintained diplomatic ties with countries as distant as Burma (Myanmar), China, and Malaysia. The Brihadisvara Temple was built under Raja Raja Chola.A vision for the temple came to him in a dream while visiting Sri Lanka, and he ordered it built in honour of his reign, which was seen as a victorious one needing a grand temple to match the large size of the empire. At 66 meters at its highest point and carved completely of granite, it took 12 years to complete. It was finished in 1011 AD and is dedicated to Shiva.Designated as a World Heritage site, “The Great Living Chola Temple” is built in a signature Tamil architectural style–high walls, a fort-like entrance, a moat (that is no longer there), separate rooms inside, long corridors, and paintings of Shiva on the walls.

Brihadeeswara Temple, constructed between 1002 and 1010, Thanjavur, India

Then we visit the bronze museum. Chola rulers were active patrons, and during their reign, poetry, drama, music, and dance flourished. Some of the best-known artistic remains from this time are the bronzes that were commissioned for each temple.While the stone sculptures and the inner sanctum image empowering the temple remained immovable, changing religious concepts during the 10th century demanded that the deities take part in a variety of public roles like those of a human monarch. As a result, large bronze images were created to be carried outside the temple to participate in daily rituals, processions, and temple festivals. Admired for the sensuous depiction of the figure and the detailed treatment of their clothing and jewellery, Chola-period bronzes were created using the lost wax technique. Although bronze casting has a long history in south India, a much larger and a much greater number of bronze sculptures were cast during the Chola period than before, further attesting to the importance of bronze sculpture during this period. When in worship, these images are covered in silk cloths, garlands, and jewels.

We will also explore the famous Thanjavur Painting, Bronze Sculpting, and handicrafts and also spend time relaxing at the resort enjoying its pool and spa. the illusions standing in the way of moksha (transcendence).

Overnight stay: Svatma or Great Trails River View Resort

Day 5: 4 February 2025, Thanjavur - Karaikudi (Chettinadu), B/D

Today we drive to Trichy (Tiruchirappali) and visit the famous Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, one of the most illustrious temples dedicated to Vishnu in the country. We will explore the ethereal setting on the island of Srirangam that is bounded by the two rivers, Cauvery and Kollidam; a magnificent living temple and sacred centre of pilgrimage.

The Temple Complex is massive in scale and spread over 63 hectares. According to some scholars, this makes Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple the largest Functioning Temple in the world and is often found ranked amongst the largest religious complexes, including the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Borobodur in Indonesia, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Vatican City. The Temple Complex has 21 very colourful sculptedgopurams(consecrated gateways with towers), 50 sub shrines, 9 sacred pools, gilded Vimana(dome) over the sanctum sanctorum of the presiding deity, and other interesting features such as fresco paintings. The temple is the nucleus, and the life of people is centred around it.

Ancient Hindu God painted on wall, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Tiruchirappalli (Trichy), Tamil Nadu, India

Later today we drive to Chettinadu and explore the area and visit a famous Chettinad Palace, a palatial mansion decorated in Burmese teak and Italian marble.

Chettinadu is known as ‘Shekhawati of the South’. The Nattukottai Chettiar traders followed the expansion of the British Empire into Southeast Asia for their business. They brought back Burmese teak and European tiles for their mansions and were inspired by colonial and palace architecture. They also incorporated the wealth of wood sculpting and craftsmanship from local craftsmen in their homes. Chettinad architecture stands out for its use of large spaces in halls and courtyards, ornate embellishments like Belgian glasswork, intricate woodwork, spectacular ceramic tiles, stone, iron and wooden pillars, together creating an indigenous amalgam of traditional Indian architecture and various European styles.

We will also enjoy a traditional Chettinadu cuisine dinner at the hotel.

Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace architecture, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Overnight stay: The Bangala or similar

Day 6: 5 February 2025, Thanjavur - Madurai, B/L/D

Continue driving to arrive in Madurai, (around 2 hours). and this evening we make our first visit to the Meenakshi temple one of the oldest and most important temples in India. The temple has great mythological and historical significance. It is believed that Lord Shiva assumed the form of Sundareswarar (‘the handsome one’) and married Parvati (Meenakshi) at the site where the temple is currently located. It is also one of the main attractions of South India with thousands of devotees thronging it every day. We will attend the night ceremony at the temple when the bronze image of Lord Shiva is carried to the bedchamber of Parvati. The procession is accompanied by religious prayer and temple music.

Overnight stay: Taj Gateway or similar

Day 7: 6 February 2025, Madurai, B/L/D

Be prepared for a sensory overload when we return to the Meenakshi temple. Synonymous with Madurai, the temple is the pivot around which the city has evolved. The Temple complex is literally a city – one of the largest of its kind in India and undoubtedly one of the oldest too. The temple grew with the contribution of each dynasty and victorious monarchs, into an enormous complex. The temple first came in to being 2000 years ago and was substantially expanded during the regime of Thirumalai Nayak (1623-55 AD). There are five massive gateways enclosing the two shrines. Even a casual visitor is fascinated by the many paintings and sculptures. A striking feature of the temple is the astonishing structure known as “Ayiramkaal Mandapam” or the Hall of Thousand Pillars and each pillar features high, ornate, and bold sculptures. Also visit the palace of Tirumala Nayak which is an example of the architectural mastery of the Nayaks, a blend of Hindu and Saracenic architecture. It’s enormous, roofed arcade supported by 15 m high stone pillar still stands.

Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, Tamil Nadu, India

Relief of Menakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil-Nadu, India

Overnight stay: Taj Gateway or similar

Day 8: 7 February 2025, Madurai - Munnar, B/D

Today we drive to Munnar, located high in the rolling green hills of the Western Ghats (around 4-5 hours drive), drive past several tea plantations. Indians love a good cup of tea (chai) and India is one of the largest tea growers in the world, with over 70 percent of it consumed by Indians themselves. The production of tea really took off during the days of British rule in India, when large tracts of land were converted for mass tea production.

Enjoy stay at the lovely Windermere estate, set in a lush green cardamom plantation with panoramic views across the hills from your private balcony.

Overnight stay: Windermere Estate

Day 9: 8 February 2025, Munnar, B/L/D

Today we will enjoy the pleasures of town, with its bustling shops and cafes. We will visit the Tea Museum, where they have fascinating displays revealing what life was like on the tea plantations over the years, and detailed descriptions on how tea is cultivated, from the first buds to the final mug and also enjoy a tea tasting session. Later we visit Shrishti, an institute for differently abled children and have an opportunity to buy their products made out of recycled paper etc.

Green tea plantations. Munnar, Kerala, India

Female Tea Pickers, Sri Lanka

Overnight stay: Windermere Estate

Day 10: 9 February 2025, Munnar - Alleppey - Houseboat Cruise, B/L/D

After breakfast drive to Alleppey/Kumarakom boat jetty where we embark on a houseboat cruise on board traditional rice boats – “Kettuvallam” through the picturesque backwaters and small lakes relaxing in the tranquillity of Kerala’s beautiful scenery The backwaters of Kerala are a unique waterborne world – a colossal web of lakes, lagoons, canals and rivers lined with towering palms and lush foliage. Experience the way of life and activity of the local people. Lunch and Dinner will be served with freshly bought produce from the local markets and cooked on board.

We can relax on the ‘sundeck’ and watch the way of life and activity of the local people, sipping from a tender coconut and enjoying the sheer peace of the surroundings.

Traditional Houseboat, Kerala, India

Sunset, South India

Overnight stay: Premium A/C Houseboat

Day 11: 10 February 2025, Alleppey - Kochi, B/D

After breakfast, we disembark from our Houseboat and drive on to Cochin (around 2 hours’ drive).

Rest of the day is at leisure-maybe take a relaxing walk around Fort Kochi and along the waterfront and experience life around the area.

In the evening, we witness Kathakali, the traditional dance-drama of Kerala. It developed as a distinct art form in the mid-seventeenth century, drawing influences from a variety of other performance traditions. Men traditionally played all roles, but women train and perform in some contemporary troupes. The epic stories come from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Bhagavata Purana. Characters are mostly superhuman archetypes: gods, demons, and humans, plus a few animals. Kathakali can be performed in temple grounds as well as in private and public areas, and there is implicit understanding that Kathakali, like its forerunners, reinforces moral codes and glorifies the gods through dramatic representation.

Actor of traditional Kathakali theater, Varkala, Kerala, India

Indian traditional dance drama Kathakali, Chennai, India, Performers play Krishna (pacha) and Balarama (pazhupu) characters in Ramayana

The performance integrates drumming, singing, cymbals, and dance marked by specific body stances, hand gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. These performance aspects are developed through years of intensive training. Costumes and makeup are an important element of Kathakali, as they identify characters, bring focus to expressive areas of the body, create an otherworldliness appropriate to the characters and stories, and provide extravagant spectacle against a minimal set.

Overnight stay: Old Courthouse, Dutch Bangalow or similar

Day 12: 11 February 2025, Kochi, B/D

Enjoy a sightseeing tour in the morning and discover the interesting mix and blend of cultures for which Kochi is renowned. Chinese, Jews, Portuguese, Dutch and of course the British have all left their mark on this tropical port on the Malabar coast. Visit the Chinese fishing nets, the Dutch Palace, the Paradesi Synagogue (the oldest in India, built in 1568) and the vibrant spice markets, still going strong after hundreds of years. The quaint Old Dutch houses around ‘Jew Town’ are now home to boutiques and antique shops.

Sunset over Chinese Fishing nets and boat, Kochi, Kerala, India

Bisop house, Fort Cochin, India

Later in the evening we will enjoy a cooking demonstration followed by dinner with a local culinary expert where we will learn the intricacies of cooking Syrian Christian/Kerala cuisine. Kerala has been a major spice junction for hundreds of years and is particularly famous for its pepper and cardamom. The essence of Kerala cooking is in the successful blend of aromatic spices with fresh, tropical fruits and vegetables found in this lush, monsoon-swept region. Cardamom, cinnamon, peppercorns, ginger, coconut, and turmeric perfume and add subtle layers to easy-to-prepare rice, fish, meat, and lentil dishes.

Delicious Indian food, India

Traditional Indian food diversity

Overnight stay: Old Courthouse or similar

Day 13: 12 February 2025, Kochi - Thrissur, B/D

After a leisurely breakfast we will drive to Thrissur (around 3.5 hours’ drive). The Cultural Capital of Kerala, Thrissur houses some of the top cultural institutions in Kerala, such as the Kerala Kalamandalam, Kerala Sahitya Akademi, and the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi.

Evening is at leisure.

Optional: (at an extra cost) we can enjoy a beautiful sunset cruise on the serene Karuvannur Puzha with views of the landscape, local vegetation, and village life.

Cultural performance, Kerala, India

Traditional Female Indian Performer, India

Overnight stay: River Retreat at Cheruthurthy or similar

Day 14: 13 February 2025, Thrissur, B/D

Today we will spend time with a master at Kerala kalamandalam, the premiere public institution in India preserving the artistic heritage of Kerala through rigorous training and performance. This University for Art and Culture is the foremost centre of learning a variety of traditional performing arts. We may see some of the classes in progress, have a presentation on a variety of dances, classical music of Karnataka, mural painting and visit the Art Gallery and Museum here.

Overnight stay: River Retreat at Cheruthurthy or similar

Day 15: 14 February 2025, Thrissur – Kozhikhode, B/D

After a leisurely breakfast, drive to Kozhikhode (around 4 hours drive). This town was called Calicut and is famous for its temple festivals, THIRA THAYYAM – a folk art performance, which is very vibrant and colourful and happens at night. Thayyam does not have fixed dates or times as it’s an authentic expression of local Hindu ritual. If one is taking place on any one of the evenings, we will take you there to experience this amazing performance.

Mask of ritual dancer, Theyyam Festival near Thottada, south of Kannur, Kerala, India

A Chamundi Theyyam, Festival at Kavinisseri Muchilot Bhagavati temple, Kannur, India

Overnight stay: at Taj Gateway Hotel Kozhikhode

Day 16: 15 February 2025, Kozhikhode, B/D

Very early this morning we will visit the fish market to see the morning trade and buy sea food that we cook and prepare for dinner. Back to the hotel for breakfast and explore the city and learn about its historic involvement in the spice trade on this walking tour, led by a storyteller guide. You can listen to the fascinating tales of maritime history, legendary stories of the King Zamorin, colonial tales of Malabar, and Arab-Chinese Portuguese influences on the city from your expert tour guide.

Dinner today is with a local family, Moosa and Faiza to sample authentic Mopilah cuisine of the Malabar (North Kerala) region which has Arabic and Portuguese influences.

Overnight stay: at Taj Gateway Hotel Kozhikhode

Day 17: 16 February 2025, Kozikhode - Nagarhole, B/L/D

Drive to Nagarahole (around 4 hours) and rest of the evening is at leisure

Today we will enjoy an evening jeep safari in the Nagarahole National Park, an important Tiger Reserve in Karnataka and a major hub of conservation under Project Tiger and Project Elephant. The Protected Area supports large assemblages of carnivores and herbivores: Tiger, Leopard, Asiatic wild dog and Sloth bear, Asiatic Elephant, Gaur, Sambar, Chital, Muntjac, Four horned antelope, Wild pig, Mouse deer and South-western langur. The park has a good number of streams and rivulets and is acclaimed as one of the high-density tiger populations in the country. It comprises some amazing landscapes and marvellous streams that swerve around like a snake, leaving the wildlife enthusiasts and the visitors astonished with its natural beauty.

The animals are most active during early mornings and evenings. Look out for elephants, tigers, spotted deer, mongoose, peacocks, and jungle fowl.

Young female tiger, India

(PLEASE NOTE: Kindly note that safaris in Nagarhole are on seat in a vehicle basis with 8 people in one jeep and there are different routes or zones for vehicle which are allotted by the forest department. Though we will try and keep people in the same vehicle but there are possibilities that we may be sharing the vehicle with other visitors and travelling to different zones. Also the safaris will be mix of Jeep and Boat rides so some people will be on Jeeps and other doing boat ride)

Overnight stay: at Kabini River Lodge or similar

Day 18: 17 February 2025, Nagarahole, B/L/D

Imagine waking at the crack of dawn and setting forth for the experience of your life. Witnessing the wild rousing from its slumber is a life changing experience. The animals are most active during early mornings and evenings. We will be travelling in an open-top vehicle, so make sure you bring something warm to wear.

In the afternoon there’s a chance for a second expedition with an expert local naturalist, so pack sunscreen and a hat. We may even take a boat ride down the River Kabini which may reward with sightings of herds of elephants, crocodiles sunning themselves and many hued birds flitting in and out of the forest’s green canopy.

Overnight stay: at Kabini River Lodge or similar

Day 19: 18 February 2025, Nagarhole - Mysuru, B/D

In the morning enjoy our final jeep safari in the Park. Later drive to Mysuru (around 3 hours).

Waterbirds on the shore, India

Cheetal deer near a water hole, India

Overnight stay: at Metropole or Windflower

Day 20: 19 February 2025, Mysuru, B/D

The historic settlement of Mysuru (which changed its name from Mysore in 2014) is one of South India's most enchanting cities, famed for its glittering royal heritage and magnificent monuments and buildings. Its World Heritage–listed palace brings most travellers here, but Mysuru is also rich in tradition, with a deeply atmospheric bazaar district replete with spice stores and incense stalls.

We then visit Srirangapatnam, a small island town in the Cauvery River. It’s an architectural masterpiece of Hoysala and Vijayanagar styles. One of the most important Vaishnavite centres of pilgrimage- the Ranganathaswamy temple, is the major attraction of the town which draws thousands of visitors every year.

Once the capital of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, (whose Palace we will visit), this city is home to multiple sites of historical relevance. Srirangapatnam has immense historical as well as religious importance with its interesting mix of temples, tombs, military warehouses, and palaces. This town is also notorious for being the site of the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, which consolidated the British Empire in India and the martyrdom of a valiant warrior king, Tipu Sultan. The monuments on the island town have been nominated for UNESCO world heritage.

Mysore palace, India

Overnight stay: at Metropole or Windflower

Day 21: 20 February 2025, Mysuru - Hassan, B/D

Drive to Hassan (around 3 hours drive). We will drive past the hill of Shravanabelagola is a noted place of pilgrimage for the Jains. On top of the hill is the tallest free-standing sculptural figure in the world at around 18 meters. It was carved from the solid granite hill between 978 to 993 AD and depicts Sri Gomatheswar, also known as Bahubali, the son of the legendary first Tirtankara Adinatha. Tirtankaras are the enlightened sages of Jainism. A flight of 614 steps chiselled into the granite leads to the summit where stands an open court and the great image. Mystics, hermits, and ascetics have resided here from at least the 3rd century BC.

Overnight stay: at Hoysala Village Resort or similar

Day 22: 21 February 2025, Hassan - Hampi, B/L/D

Today after an early breakfast drive to Hampi (around 7-8 hours’ drive), we will visit Halebid and Belur on the way. Halebid (or Halebidu) is a city adorned with a beautiful collection of temples, shrines, and sculptures. It is also known as the ‘Gem of Indian architecture’ owing to its magnificent Hoysala architecture, its beautiful temple complexes and some stunning Jain sites. Once the majestic capital of the Hoysala empire, the city is in ruins now. Frozen in time, Halebid was the imperial capital of the great Hoysala Empire during the 12th and 13th centuries and is now home to the distinguished Hoyaleswara and Kedareshwara temples. During the 14th century, it was twice looted and plundered by Malik Kafur of the Delhi Sultanate.

Panorama of Hampi at sunset, India

Hampi at sunset, Karnataka, India

Belur, a UNESCO world heritage site has the magnificent Chennakesava (lit, "handsome Kesava") temple dedicated to a form of the Hindu god Vishnu. The temple has been an active Hindu temple since its founding. It is reverentially described in medieval Hindu texts and remains an important pilgrimage site in Vaishnavism. The temple is remarkable for its architecture, sculptures, reliefs, friezes as well its iconography, inscriptions, and history. The temple artwork depicts scenes of secular life in the 12th century, dancers and musicians, as well as a pictorial narration of Hindu texts such as theRamayana, theMahabharataand thePuranasthrough numerous friezes. The temple sculptures reverentially include many themes fromShaivismand Shaktism, as well as images of a Jina fromJainism and the Buddha. The Chennakeshava temple is a testimony to the artistic, cultural and theological perspectives in 12th-century South India and the Hoysala Empire rule.

Hampi at sunset, Karnataka, India

Overnight stay: at Royal Orchid Central Keeriti or similar

Day 23/24: 22/23 February 2025, Hampi, B/D (Farewell Dinner)

Situated in the shadowed depth of hills and valleys is the ancient city of Hampi. Over the next two days, there will be plenty of opportunities to explore the ruins and monuments in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once the capital city of the Vijayanagara Empire, it was an Imperial city to rival Rome with its palaces, temples, and sculptures. As one of the largest Hindu empires to have ever existed, the ruins at Hampi are extensive and, in many cases, exceptionally well preserved. Established in the early 1300s, there is an impressive array of palaces, temples, structures and ruins to visit including the Vitthala Temple, Stone Chariot, Lotus Mahal, Elephant Stables and Queen’s Bath. Surrounded by 500 ancient monuments, beautiful temples, bustling street markets, bastions, treasury building and captivating remains of the Vijayanagar Empire.

The terrain around Hampi is as mysterious as the ruins itself - the city is surrounded by boulders of different sizes, and you can climb to the top of them to get a stunning view of the entire city and its stunning geography.

Overnight stay: at Heritage Resort or similar

Day 25: 24 February 2025, Hampi - Bangalore, B/L/D

Today we cover the remaining sights of Hampi and also spend some relaxing time at the resort.

After lunch we will drive to Hubali around 4 hours drive. Fly to Bangalore (Indigo Flight 6E 7378 2100-2215). On arrival transfer to an hotel near the airport,

Overnight stay: at an hotel near Banguluru Airport

Day 26: 25 February 2025, Bangalore - Fly home) Singapore Airlines 11:55, B

Transfer to the airport for our flight back home.

Hindu wall painting, India

Hotels included: (These are our chosen hotels but cannot be guaranteed until booked)

City Hotel Room Category No of Nights
Mahabalipuram Kences Palm Beach Resort or similar Deluxe Rooms 02
Tanjore Svatma or similar Millinium Deluxe 02
Chettinadu The Bangala or similar Heritage Block Rooms 01
Madurai The Heritage Madurai or similar Deluxe Club Room 02
Munnar Windermere Estate or similar Garden Rooms 02
Houseboat Premium AC Houseboat Premium AC Rooms 01
Cochin The Old Court House or similar Deluxe Rooms 02
Thrissur/Cheruthurthy River Retreat Deluxe Rooms 02
Kozhikhode (Calicut) Taj Gateway Hotel Calicut Superior Rooms 02
Kabini Kabini River Lodge/Red Earth Lodge or similar Standard Rooms/Cottage 02
Mysore Royal Orchid Metropole hotel or similar (A former Maharaja’s residence) Royal Wing Rooms 02
Hassan Hoysala Village Resort Superior Cottage 01
Hampi Royal Orchid Central Kireeti Deluxe Room 01
Bangalore Clarks Inn or similar ( near Airport Hotel) Deluxe Room 01

PRICING:

Spirit of the South - Journey to South India: 31 January to 25 February 2025

Duration: 26 days

Prices and hotels can be subject to change due the volatility of the Australian Dollar and other circumstances beyond our control.

15+ Passengers using A/C 27 seater Coach : Price per person twin share (Land only) AUD 8627.00
Single Room Supplement: AUD 3385.00

COST INCLUSIONS:

• Tour Leader Lee Grafton from Australia (min 15 pax onwards)
• Accommodation in the above-mentioned hotels or similar
• Meals as mentioned at hotels or local restaurants
• Air-conditioned Vehicle (Large or Medium AC Coach) for all transfers as per the above-mentioned itinerary
• Local guides for sightseeing where needed as per the program
• Shared Boat/Jeep/Canter safaris in Kabini
• Accompanying escort/ Indian tour manager for the entire trip
• All entrances to the monuments as per the itinerary
• Economy flight Hubali to Bangalore (Luggage Allowance is 15 Kg Check in and 7 Kg Handbag)
• Domestic flight
• All currently applicable taxes

COST EXCLUSIONS:

• International airfare to & from India
• Meals not specified
• Camera fee wherever levied separately
• Any increase in entrance fares as per Government notifications in future
• Any additional taxes levied by the Government of India on the tourism sector in future
• Any expenses of personal nature such as hard/soft drinks, laundry, phone/fax calls, tips etc.
• Any item not mentioned in the quote includes section
• Any increase in the entrance fee to the National park. The quote is based on the presently applicable entrance fee
• Cost incidental to any change in the itinerary/stay on account of flight cancellation due to bad weather, ill health, roadblocks and/or any factors beyond control

Important:

Kindly note that names of hotels mentioned above only indicate that our rates have been based on usage of these hotels and it is not to be construed that accommodation is confirmed at these hotels until and unless we convey such confirmation to you. In the event of any of the above mentioned hotels not becoming available we shall book alternative accommodation at a similar or next best available hotel and shall pass on the difference of rates (supplement/reduction as applicable) to you. Program and proposal is based on the request dates, destinations and number of persons (travelling together) and if there would be any change on said element in future, then it will affect per person cost and new cost will be advised with revised program and proposal based on new detail.

FLIGHTS:

Zen Oriental Journeys does not issue flight tickets. The costs associated with the software and on-going training programs are prohibitive for a very small business like ours. We would rather pass savings on to you. For tickets, we work in partnership with

Sharon Evans
Owner/Manager
Helloworld, Marion Westfield Mall, Level 2
Westfield Marion
Oaklands Park SA 5046
Telephone: +61 (08) 8358 1949
Fax: +61 (08) 8358 1960
E-mail: Sharon

IS THIS JOURNEY RIGHT FOR YOU:

Please be aware that it is the traveller's responsibility to check on government travel advisories and regulations. Information is changing quickly, and advisories and regulations may change at any time depending on the status decided upon by each country’s government. Be sure to contact DFAT’S Smart Traveller website before booking.

Some changes to the itinerary may occur due to inclement weather or circumstances beyond our control. While we do our best to prevent this happening, it may be unavoidable. It can also happen with little notice so please bear with us if we must make modifications to the itinerary. We may make slight amendments depending on the planned exhibitions at various galleries/museums as they are confirmed closer to departure, or if any of our activities and experiences need to change days or dates. We’ll always let you know of any proposed changes to the itinerary. The order of visits may change depending upon local conditions.

TRAVEL ADVICE:

Before booking, please refer to the DFAT website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting:

Please visit http://www.smartraveller.gov.au or ring 1300 139 281 for information on current Government travel advice.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL:

As we take more travellers to more remote parts of the world, we recognize our obligation to plan and operate our Journeys in a responsible and sustainable fashion. We view this as an environmental, cultural, and social necessity. Above all, we are committed to the well-being of the communities, which are our hosts, the cultural and natural environment that we are there to experience. We also believe that by following these policies we can provide you with more rewarding and interesting experiences.

Prices may fluctuate due to changes in charges, taxes and currency. Prices and flights are correct at time of preparing this program and are subject to availability at time of booking. Special conditions and seasonal surcharges to airfares and package prices may apply depending on date of travel. Flight times are subject to change by the airline.

CANCELLATION POLICY:

On International Flight tickets

• Please refer to your individual Booking Terms and Conditions

On land package cost

• Between 64-31 Days: 65 % of land cost
• Between 30-16 Days: 75 % of land cost
• Between 15-04 Days: 90 % of land cost
• Within 2 days-No show: 100% of land cost

For further information, don’t hesitate to contact Zen Oriental Journeys by emailing Lee Grafton or ring 0401 123 347

FINAL PAYMENT & CLOSE OF BOOKING: 25 NOV 2024

Bookings will be processed in order of receipt. Any bookings after this date will be accepted subject to visa processing, flight availability, land content and room availability. Such booking must be paid in full after confirmation of your acceptance in the tour. Special conditions and additional charges to airfares and package prices may apply depending on date of booking.

Costs associated with the Asia In-Country Study Tours can be tax deductible. Educators may be able to claim their study tour expenses under a number of tax deduction categories which include: self-education expenses; excursions, school trips and camps if these trips have an educational benefit and are related to the curriculum or extra-curriculum activities of the school; acquisition of teaching aids used for curriculum development and teaching programs. Participants must contact their tax advisor or visit the Australian Tax Office website to confirm eligibility.

 
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