The cuisine of Tamil Nadu and Kerala is quite unique and on this tour you will have the opportunity to sample the full array of flavors on offer. Hundreds of years of influence and various cultures have impact over the cuisines of South India. During this holiday, you will travel through rich fishing grounds, eat at open kitchen restaurants, have walking tours, discover the Indian continental influence, and take part in cooking classes surrounded by the best sights of South India.
During this holiday, you will be accommodated in double rooms, in the hotels assigned for each location as follows:
On arrival in Chennai, you’ll be met and assisted with the transfer to your hotel. During your stay at Chennai, your accommodation will be the Radisson Blu City Center.
During your day at Chennai, you will have sightseeing activity that will include the historic Fort St. George and Vivekananda House. You will also have your first opportunity to sample a traditional Thali meal. This is the staple lunch of the vast majority of the population of Tamil Nadu and it consists of a large selection of gravies, chutneys, and condiments served with mountains of rice and an array of breads, and rice-flour concoctions. Anna Lakshmi restaurant is one of the most famous eateries in Chennai, a great place to sample this fabulous food and meet some locals.
This day will start with a travel inland to the sacred temple city of Kanchipuram, before driving to the beach side town of Mahabalipuram. Its proximity to the rich fishing grounds of the Bay of Bengal and a number of excellent beachfront restaurants makes this a great place to sample seafood. You will be able to select your own fish and choose the way you would like it cooked. This day you will sleep in Mahabalipuram city at the Radisson Blu Temple Bay hotel.
This day you can visit the cultural village at Dakshinachitra and later enjoy a sightseeing tour of Mahabalipuram taking in the UNESCO world heritage listed monuments which are the highlights of this one-time trading port and dynastic capital. Mahabalipuram today is a sleepy town but the legacy of the past is rich and the temples and rock carvings here are outstanding for their craftsmanship and sheer beauty.
Head south and drive to Pondicherry, a former French colony with a quite different atmosphere and culture to the surrounding areas. Although the French left Pondicherry more than half a century ago, the city retains a strong Gallic feel. The rooftop restaurants serving a variety of excellent continental dishes, the superb bakeries, and the wonderful cafes are all testimony to the lasting continental influence. In the afternoon, you will have time to explore the French quarter on foot and later spend some time in the Tamil quarter which is far more Indian in feel and home to some superb shops and boutiques. This day you will spend the night at Pondicherry, in the Maison Perumal hotel.
This day you will continue south and inland to Tanjore for a visit to Chidambaram, Gangai konda Cholapuram, and Dharasuram. You will later arrive at Tanjore site, one of south India’s most spectacular temples. You will enjoy a tour of the temple, palace, and art gallery with a local guide. After, you can enjoy time by the pool at your hotel later in the day. You will spend the night at Tanjore in the Ideal River View hotel.
This day, you will have a short drive from Tanjore to the Chettinad district of Tamil Nadu, which is famous for its ornate mansions and equally unique and spectacular cuisine. This will be your base for the next two days with plenty of time to explore the villages, observe the local craft of tile making, visit the markets, and even join in cooking a meal or two. During your stay at Kannudakathan, Chettinad, you will stay in one of the spectacular 40,000 square foot homes owned by a local family called The Visalam.
This day will give you plenty of options, including a bullock cart ride around the village. You may like to have your future predicted by the rather unusual method known as "parrot astrology", in which a specially trained parrot selects a card from a tarot-like deck and this is then interpreted by the fortune teller. The unique cuisine of Chettinad is a major focus for visitors here.
Including more meat than most Tamil food, the Chettinad style is famous throughout India with many restaurants along the country offering Chettinad dishes. Being the source of the style you can experience, this wonderful food in its purest form is spicy but not hot, with complex combinations of flavors making every dish distinct and unforgettable.
Madurai is the next stop on the itinerary. It is a mix of modern commercial center and ancient pilgrimage site, melded together into a compelling whole. The emphasis of your time here is on the major sights like the Meenakshi Temple and Tirumalai Nayak Palace, but there will also be time to visit some of the multitude of bazaars, and the flower and vegetable markets. You will spend the night at Madurai, in the Heritage Madurai hotel.
You can start the day early around 06:00 to enjoy a heritage walk in the old town of Madurai, where you will be able to enjoy the morning life of the Tamil people. Here, you will find people milking cows with their hands, an old lady preparing dosa which is a traditional pan cake made of rice, local tea shops making masala chaai and vadas dumpling snacks. You can also visit the local fruit and vegetable market where you can find a large number of exotic varieties.
Later in the day, you can visit the Gandhi museum and take excursion to a nearby doll making Vellacherry village. In the evening around 17:00, you can have a foodie’s day out walking tour which focuses on the culinary aspects of this grand city. During this walk, you will be able to enjoy a number of delicacies such as Halwa, Idli, Idiyaappam, Paruthipaal, and Adhirasam.
This day you will departure Madurai and head west towards Kerala, you will drive through lush agricultural areas and the spice market at Theni, which is one of the largest in South India. After a short but steep ascent of the Western Ghats, Periyar will be reached by lunch time. You will spend time in the afternoon touring a spice garden and seeing the origin of many of the condiments you take for granted in your kitchen at home. You will spend the night at Periyar at the spice village.
This day you will head back down the hills towards the Keralan midlands, reaching Kanjirapally for lunch. Your accommodation here will be at an estate bungalow on a plantation surrounded by planted areas of rubber, coffee, cocoa, and vanilla. With delicious meals prepared from locally grown ingredients this is another culinary delight in a trip studded with them. You will spend the night at Kanjirapally in the Kalaketty Estate accommodation.
You will descend from the hills to Alleppey and board a houseboat for an afternoon cruise with lunch on board. You will enjoy the scenery as it slips by, and later disembark the boat for a night spent at a resort or home-stay adjacent to the backwaters where you can enjoy wonderful Keralan food. You will spend the night near Alleppey at the Purity Malabar Escapes.
You will spend some time around your accommodation, exploring the region further, before heading back to the mainland and driving two hours to Fort Cochin, south India’s most important trading port for more than 500 years. Here you can spend the afternoon on a guided tour of the historic areas of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry covering elements as diverse as India’s oldest synagogue and attendant Jewish area, the Dutch Fort and St. Francis church, all testimony to the vast range of influences brought to bear on Cochin over the years. You will spend the night at Fort Kochi and stay at the Eighth Bastion hotel.
During the morning, you will visit the fish market and later you will visit the home of Mrs. Nimmy Paul a renowned Keralan chef. You will enjoy a traditional Sadhya served on a banana leaf, an extensive meal usually served at weddings and other festivals. Nimmy will explain the traditions and history behind the dishes. During the afternoon, Nimmy will lead a cooking demonstration in which you can participate in preparation of a special dinner.
During this day, you will have free time in Cochin town followed by your transfer to the airport for departure.
During this culinary vacation, you will take trips, cultural, and culinary tours in the towns of Allepey, Chennai, Chettinad, Fort Kochi, Kanjirappally, Madurai, Mahabalipuram, Periyar, Pondicherry, and Tanjore. You will also have the chance to visit rural areas of India, such as the spice village, and to go on a day cruise in a houseboat with lunch.
This holiday will take place at Tamil Nadu and Kerala, India. India has unspoiled natural beauty which is one of the top reasons for the tourists to go on holiday in various parts of the country. Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka are beyond any description.
The southern region is also known for backwaters, waterfalls, lakes, and lush green forest areas.
This holiday includes a daily delicious breakfast and one lunch at a day cruise in a houseboat. You will have the opportunity to try different restaurants and local food options for lunch and dinner for an additional cost.
During this holiday, you will enjoy free time for yourself at the different locations. You may explore the surrounding villages, enjoy time by the pool at your hotel, visit the local shops and boutiques, observe the local craft of tile making, visit the markets, and even join in cooking a meal or two.
Please book your flight to arrive at Chennai International Airport (MAA). Transfer from and to the airport is included. The Indian Panorama will pick you up from the airport.
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