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Spices of India

Start in Chennai and end in Cochin

Suggested Number of Days 14 Nights / 15 Days

South Indian cuisine is as different from its northern, eastern and western counterparts as it is possible to be! Much of India’s spice production happens in the southern regions, and consequently, the food here is rich in a variety of spices. This tour takes you to Chettinad, famed for its signature cuisine, and Kerala, where coconut, rice and seafood are staples – it is culinary heaven, to say the least! Along the way, take in the famous Pallava and Chola dynasty architectural gems in Mahabalipuram and Tanjore, the wildlife of Thekkady, and the charming backwaters of Alleppey and Kumarakom.

Chennei

Chennai

Recommended Stay

2 Nights / 3 Days

Formerly known as Madras, the city of Chennai is nourished by its rich heritage … classical music, architecture, art, dance and a diverse culinary tradition form an indigenous part of the city's identity. The city houses the famous Fort St. George, built in 1644 – it is now a museum that celebrates the city’s roots as a British military garrison and East India Company trading outpost. The city is also home to Marina Beach, the second longest urban beach in the world. Despite developing as a bustling, cosmopolitan city, Chennai retains its intrinsically charming old soul. Enjoy a Chennai Tour, visiting some of its famous temples and landmarks. Sample a traditional Dinner at Karaikudi Restaurant.

PONDICHERRY, TAMILNADU

Pondicherry

Recommended Stay

2 Nights / 3 Days

Distance From Chennai to Pondicherry via Mahabalipuram

170 kms drive

Mahabalipuram lies on the Coromandel Coast, and was a well-established seaport between the 7th and 10th centuries. It was the second capital of the Pallavas who ruled Kancheepuram. During the Pallava reign famous poets, dramatists, artists, artisans, scholars and saints emerged – they were great innovators in art and architecture, and Mahabalipuram is one of the best showcases of the considerable skill of their artisans. Visit the Dakshinachitra Museum to obtain an insight into Tamilian traditions and get ready for a South Indian Breakfast Cooking Class, mastering the art of making dosas. Enjoy lunch at Dakshinachitra. Visit the Panch Rathas and Shore Temple. Move on to Pondicherry.

Pondicherry is referred to by names such as 'India's Little France' and 'The French Riviera of the East'. This territory was under French rule for around 280 years. It still retains its French flavor, palpably visible in the colonial homes, shady boulevards, promenades, and street names on signboards. It is home to the world-renowned ashram Shri Aurobindo Ashram, founded in the year 1926, by Shri Aurobindo, a revolutionary turned Yogi from Bengal along with The Mother (Mira Alfassa), a French painter and sculptor. The ashram attracts people from all over the world. Enjoy a Pondicherry Tour with Auroville, visiting the ashram, and a Coffee Tasting session at a local café. Your dinner experience will be at Villa Shanti.

THANJAVUR TAMILNADU

Thanjavur (Tanjore)

Recommended Stay

2 Nights / 3 Days

Distance From Pondicherry

170 kms drive

Tanjore, or Thanjavur, is the centre of Tamil learning and culture. Thanjavur was the royal city of the Cholas, Nayaks and the Marathas, and the original home of Dravidian art and architecture – besides being the centre of the Tamil classical dance, Bharatha Natyam. Enjoy a tour of the Tanjore Temples to see the Great Living Chola Temples and visit the Tanjore Palace & Museum. Have lunch at Mantra Koodam.

Chettinad showcases the rich art and cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu, and its peppery cuisine has a story of its own to tell. The ancestral home of the prosperous Chettiyar business community, Chettinad houses some beautiful mansions built by wealthy businessmen over the centuries. Characterized by large verandas, pillared passages and rooms that can fit a thousand people, some of the traditional mansions of Chettinad are now boutique hotels, while others are open for public viewing. Take the Chettinad Mansions Tour while the proud caretakers show off the fine carvings on the doors, teak pillars from Burma, marble tiles from Italy and ceiling tiles from Spain. Chettinad is known for its flavourful and fiery cuisine, the most well-known dish being Chettinad chicken curry. The food derives its flavours from the judicious mix of several spices: star anise, cinnamon, black pepper, red chilli, fennel seed, and tamarind being the most predominant. Try a Chettinad Cooking Class and hone your skills in understanding spices!

MADURAI, TAMILNADU

Madurai

Recommended Stay

2 Nights / 3 Days

Distance From Thanjavur

190 kms drive

Madurai’s recorded history goes back to the 3rd century BC, when it was referred to by Megasthenes, a Greek ambassador to the Maurya empire. It is impossible to miss the skyline dotted with the 14 colorful gopurams (towers) of the Meenakshi Amman Temple – located on the banks of the river Vaigai, the ancient city was once the capital of the Pandya Kingdom. Covered in bright carvings of Hindu gods, the Dravidian-style Meenakshi temple is a major pilgrimage site. Experience the divine wafting fragrance of jasmine mingled with the ancient Vedic chants that fill the air, as devotes come from distant places to pay homage to the consort of Shiva. The city houses a number of historical monuments, with the Meenakshi Amman Temple, Koodal Azhagar Temple and Tirumalai Nayak Palace being the most prominent. This Palace is a classic fusion of Dravidian and Rajput styles and is famous for its stunning 248 pillars.

KUMARAKOM, KERALA

Kumarakom

Recommended Stay

2 Nights / 3 Days

Distance From Madurai

260 kms drive

Experience a Houseboat Cookout on the Backwaters as you travel through the palm fringed canals from Alleppey to Kumarakom – this is Kerala's Venice of the East, a heartland of lagoons and mangrove fields, inter-linked with hundreds of narrow winding canals. Enjoy lunch and tea on board the houseboat. Soak in the panoramic sight of the serene, palm fringed canals winding through the vast expanse of paddy fields, and the neat tiny hamlets lined up along either side of the canals. Indulge yourself with an Ayurvedic Treatment in your hotel and enjoy dinner with the coconut and seafood rich Keralan cuisine. Attend the Banana and Coconut Cook Off – these are two crucial ingredients in Keralan cuisine.

Kochi

Kochi

Recommended Stay

2 Nights / 3 Days

Distance From Kumarakom

90 kms drive

Kochi (colonial name Cochin) is a vibrant city, also referred to as the Gateway to Kerala. It has been a busy port since 1341, when a flood carved out its harbor and opened it to Arab, Chinese and European merchants. The influences of these traders are visible Fort Kochi, a settlement with tiled colonial bungalows and diverse houses of worship – indeed, the twin cities of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry have preserved an extraordinary wealth of really old colonial architecture spanning the Portuguese, Dutch and the British eras. Take a Tour of Kochi, where you will visit Fort Kochi, the historic synagogue in the Jewish Quarter, built over 400 years ago.

The amazing, cantilevered Chinese Fishing Nets are strung out along the tip of the peninsula. It is believed that these were introduced to Kochi by traders from the court of Kublai Khan. The backwaters of nearby Alleppey are worth seeing! Attend a Malabar Biryani Demo at the Casino hotel, and enjoy a biryani lunch thereafter. Enjoy a Syrian Christian Dinner at Brunton Boatyard’s History Restaurant, where the stories of the past speak volumes. You can try a traditional, rejuvenating Ayurvedic Treatment, one of the most interesting things to do in Kerala. One evening take a Kathakali Dance Performance, a tradition from Kerala that is rich in storytelling and unmatched in visual imagery.

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