Taste of South India

India

Culture | Culinary

Experience the flavours and exotic spices of South India

15 days £2,495 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Start your culinary journey in the bustling city of Hyderabad renown for its heritage sites and mouthwatering biryani. Fly down to the temple town of Madurai then move on to Chettinad where expert chefs will have you serving up spicy dishes enjoyed in Tamil Nadu. Pluck and brew your own tea in Munnar, visit Thekkady's spice and pepper plantations, and sample fresh fish on board a rice barge on Kerala's backwaters. End your trip in the charming colonial town of Cochin, the centre of the spice trade.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Journey along the Spice Route
  • Savour spicy Chettinad dishes
  • Stay in luxurious heritage properties
  • Munnar's verdant tea gardens
  • Walking tour and cruise in Cochin
  • Sample Idli and Dosa dishes

Places Visited

Hyderabad - Madurai - Chettinad - Karaikudi - Pollachi - Munnar - Alleppey - Cochin - Jewish Synagogue - Dutch Palace

What's Included

Airport transfers
Ground transport
Internal flight & train transport
Accommodation
Cooking classes with expert chefs
Sightseeing
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Breakfasts and some meals (as per itinerary)
Drivers and guides
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Hyderabad

Arrive into Hyderabad airport. You will be greeted by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. Freshen up and relax. In the afternoon, enjoy a guided sightseeing tour. Overnight in Hyderabad.

Meal plan: n/a

The twin city of Hyderabad-Secunderabad, the capital of the Andhra Pradesh state, combines both Islamic and Hindu influences. It  is an important centre of Islamic culture and  was planned in a grid pattern with enormous arches.  Hyderabad was founded in 1589 by Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, but Secunderabad (located beyond the artificial Hussain Sagar Lake) was established by the British only in the early 1800’s. 

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Day 2 : Hyderabad

Today, you will go on a tour to discover Biriyani, the 'Food of the Kings' and enjoy a traditional meal. You will have the afternoon to spend at your leisure. Overnight in Hyderabad.

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Biriyani  is a mixed rice dish made with an abundance of spices and meat. It i s a key part of Indian cuisine that is enjoyed by everyone, from sultans to poor villagers. The 'Food of the Kings' tour explores the many regional and foreign influences that make the dish so special. You will wander your way through Hyderabad's many Biriyani hubs to see giant handis of fragrant rice and secret combinations of meats and spices.

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Day 3 : Hyderabad - Madurai - Chettinad (Karaikudi)

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for a short flight to Madurai. You will be met on arrival and transferred to the Sree Meenakshi Temple. Note, the temple is closed from 12:00-16:00. During this time the temple can only be seen from outside. Afterwards, drive to Chettinad (Karaikudi) and check in to your hotel.
Evening free. Overnight in Chettinad (Karaikudi).

Meal plan: Breakfast

Madurai is one of South India’s great temple towns. It was an important cultural and commercial centre in 550 AD. Sitting on the banks of the river Vaigai, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Chettinad is best known for its unique ancient temples. Tamil Nadu was once ruled by the Chola Dynasty (9-13th centuries), who constructed some of the most ornate temples in South India. Dedicated to various Hindu gods, these temples contain intricate life-sized carvings, beautiful murals and are a display of master craftsmanship.

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Day 4 : Chettinad (Karaikudi)

After breakfast, set off to explore some of the ancient temples unique to Chettinad. You will also visit the famous Mansions of Chettinad, which is unique to this region. Lunch at a local restaurant/hotel. In the evening, join a local family for the preparation of a traditional meal. You will get to interact with them and learn about Chettinad/Tamil culture. Enjoy your cooking demonstration and prepare local delicacies with the chef, which you will then eat for dinner.
Overnight in Chettinad (Karaikudi).

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Chettinad cuisine is typically spicy and pungent, and consists  mainly  of non-vegetarian food. The dishes contain freshly ground masalas, and are often topped with a boiled egg, which is considered an essential part of a meal. They also use a variety of sun-dried meats and salted vegetables, reflecting the dry environment of the region. Meat dishes are restricted to fish, prawn, lobster, crab, chicken and lamb. People from this region do not eat beef and pork. Exciting Chettinar dishes include the fried murrell, a delicately-spice lamb dish, as well as robust curries with hints of fresh pepper and raw mango.

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Day 5 : Chettinad - Pollachi

Set off early for Pollachi in Kerala. Drive through towns, villages and lush tropical countryside. Stop off en-route for lunch. Arrive mid-afternoon and check into the hotel. Dinner at your hotel. Overnight in Pollachi.
 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 6 : Pollachi

After breakfast, you will have a village tour, where the residing farming family will serve you a traditional sumptuous lunch. After lunch, you will be able to interact with the family for a while, who will show you their farm. You can even milk a cow if you want!
Return to your hotel in time for your interactive cooking demo with the hotel’s chef followed by dinner. Together you will prepare some typical food from the
Kongunadu cuisine, which derives its unique flavours from the extensive use of sesame seeds, groundnuts, dry coconut, dry ginger and roasted turmeric.
Overnight in Pollachi.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 7 : Pollachi - Munnar

After breakfast, drive to the beautiful Munnar, known for its rolling green hills, and check in to your resort. You will have the afternoon to wander around the nearby tea plantations. Overnight in Munnar.

 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Munnar, located at 1,650m above sea-level, is the most breathtakingly-beautiful hill station on the Western Ghats. The area's pristine green valleys and mountains provide the perfect setting for anyone in search of peace and tranquility. Believed to mean ‘three rivers’, Munnar used to be the favourite summer resort of the British rulers during colonial days. It is the tea plantation capital of India and the local Eravikulam National Park, home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr mountain goat, is a popular destination for visitors.

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Day 8 : Munnar

Enjoy a relaxed breakfast before going to the Talayar Tea Factory. Here, you will learn how to pick tea leaves (choose stems with a mother leaf and two leaf buds). While your tea leaves are drying in machines, you will go on a tour of the factory and you will get to mix your own tea followed by lunch. End the experience with a tea tasting. Overnight in Munnar.

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

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Day 9 : Munnar - Thekkady

After a leisurely breakfast, check out of your hotel and drive to Thekkady, the spice capital of India. You will have the afternoon free to explore the surroundings, do some bird watching or take a nap. Overnight in Thekkady.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Centred around a large artificial lake, Thekkady is the location of the Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary -  one of India's largest wildlife sanctuaries, which spans across the entire district. Declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978, the sanctuary supports 62 species of mammals (many of which are rare and endangered) and 320 species of birds, as well as a host of reptiles, amphibians and fish. 

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Day 10 : Thekkady

After an early morning breakfast, set off for a boat ride on Lake Periyar. Look out for local wildlife (elephants, deer and sloth bears) that come to the lake for water. Afterwards, go for a two-hour jungle walk. In the afternoon, you will visit one of Thekkady's many spice plantations. Learn all about the spices that are grown here - pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves and more. Return to your accommodation and rest of the afternoon free at leisure. Overnight in Thekkady.

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 11 : Thekkady - Alleppey

After breakfast, drive to Alleppey. Stop en route at Kanjirapilly for lunch at a traditional Christian homestay. You can join your host in the kitchen as she prepares a mouthwatering South Indian platter of meat and vegetarian dishes. After lunch, take a walking tour of the owner’s spice and rubber plantations. Continue on to Alleppey. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight in Alleppey.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Also known as the 'Venice of the East', Alleppey is a town with a large network of picturesque canals, backwaters, lagoons and beaches. In the past, Alleppey was one of the busiest trade centres along the Malabar coast.

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Day 12 : Alleppey

Free morning at your leisure. In the afternoon, board the houseboat for a ride through Kerala's enchanting backwaters. You will see various birdlife, rice barges and Chinese cantilever fishing nets. You can watch the onboard chef prepare a local fish dish - Karimeen (pearl spot) fry. In the early evening, return to the hotel, visit a market or simply rest. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight in Alleppey.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 13 : Alleppey - Cochin

After an early breakfast, check out and drive to Cochin. Upon arrival, you will visit the Synagogue followed by check-in at the hotel. You will have the afternoon to explore the beautiful surroundings of Cochin, after which you will go on a sunset cruise in Cochin harbour. Overnight in Cochin.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Cochin, the 'Queen on the Arabian Sea', is a major port city that was once a much-prized pawn for the English, Portuguese and Dutch due to its strategic location and prominence in the lucrative spice trade. This history of foreign colonies has resulted in a diverse culture, with European influences visible in much of Cochin's architecture and overall development, aiding it to become the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala. 

The Jewish Synagogue in Cochin, also known as the Paradesi Synagogue, was built in 1568AD.There are a number of antiquities of interest in this synagogue including, the Great Scrolls of the Old Testament and the 10th-century copper plates of privileges given to Joseph Rabban, the earliest known Cochin Jew. The floor of the synagogue is tilled with hundreds of hand-painted 18th-century Chinese tiles, each of which is unique. 

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Day 14 : Cochin

After breakfast, set off on a two-hour walking tour of Fort Cochin to wander its narrow lanes and discover its many colonial influences. You will visit the Dutch Palace this morning. For lunch, you will proceed to Francis Residence, a homestay, where you will also experience a cooking class using unique South Indian recipes. After leaving, you will go on a food tour of Cochin, which will take you through some of the most popular eating places of the local community, where you will get to see Idli and 36 varieties of dosa. Overnight in Cochin.

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

The Dutch Palace, also known as Mattancherry Palace, was built by the Portuguese and presented to the Raja of Cochin in 1555AD. It acquired its current name after 1663 when the Dutch carried out extensions and repairs on the palace. Its interiors are decorated with murals from the Ramayana and there are some lively displays of royal costumes and palanquins.

Idli is a soft and fluffy savoury cake made out of rice and steamed lentil batter. It is a traditional breakfast dish prepared by many south Indian families. As it is very healthy and easy to digest, it is an absolute staple food of southern cuisine. Perfect pairings for idli include any kind of chutney (coconut, tomato, tamarind or green chili mint) and sambar (a tangy lentil soup with vegetables).

Dosa is a thin long crepe made out of fermented rice and black lentil batter that can be stuffed with a wide variety of fillings, like spiced potatoes, green gram bean or masala curry. It is another staple of Keralan cuisine.


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Day 15 : Departure

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport at an appropriate time for your outbound flight. If you have a flight later in the day, you could spend time exploring more of Cochin or browsing the markets for handicrafts and wares. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Radisson Blu Plaza

Situated in a great position, near the city centre, the Radisson Blue Plaza Hotel has 2 restaurants, a bar, an SPA, an outdoor pool and a fitness centre. 

Visit hotel's site
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The Bangala

Enjoy the famous Chettinad hospitality at this traditional heritage stay. 

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Coco Lagoon by Great Mount

Located close to Pollachi Junction, Coco Lagoon Resort by Great Mount has a restaurant and an outdoor swimming pool. It also organizes a number of activities and games such as boating, archery, billiards, table tennis, cricket and others. 

Visit hotel's site
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The Tall Trees Resort

The Tall Trees Resort is nestled in the valleys of the Western Ghats. The resort is surrounded by almost 70 acres of natural forest land. The comfortable bedrooms provide a space to relax after a day of exploring your surroundings. Hill Spice restaurant serves traditional delicacies from the Kerala region, along with national and international options. Guests can also choose to dine in the Nature Restaurant, where food is served in open, thatched-roof huts. 

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Carmelia Haven

Carmelia Haven is an eco-friendly resort set amidst a tea and cardamom plantation. It offers a multi-cuisine restaurant, a games room, a coffee shop and a swimming pool. 
 

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Punnamada Resort

Punnamada Resort is the best luxury resort in Kerala, located next to Punnamada Lake Alappuzha. It offers an Indian restaurant, a swimming pool and a Yoga & Ayurveda centre. It offers its guests the possibility to enjoy a number of different activities and games, such as minigolf, volleyball, basketball, cycling, chess, table tennis, cards and many more. 

Visit hotel's site
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Tissa's Inn

Set in beautiful, colonial Fort Cochin, Tissa’s Inn is a boutique hotel.  The mansion has air conditioned rooms, a restaurant serving fresh seafood- Indian and Continental style, an open-to-the-sky swimming pool on the deck, and a yoga and meditation centre that nestles among the verdant tree tops.

Visit hotel's site
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Reviews

I just took the Food Tour of Kerala and Malabar Coast and it was purely unforgettable. The accommodation was superb as was the food and hospitality. I essentially came back feeling like a baby hippo - that should tell you you NEED to take this tour ASAP!

Anupy is the author of best-selling Indian cookery book - The Indian Slow Cooker - which is available for purchase on Amazon.

Anupy Singla Gupta , Taste of South India, India

An excellent introduction to South India. The itinerary was varied and interesting and the accommodation and food excellent. The real highlight for me was going to many places that were very much off the beaten track and getting the opportunity to meet local people in their homes, at local markets and cultural events.

Julie Hindmarch , Taste of South India, India

I would highly recommend Travel the Unknown to anyone visiting India. The service we received both prior to, during and following our travels was always timely and excellent. We were able to customize our trip to our liking and to enjoy a wide variety of activities. The guides in every location were outstanding! Honestly. Having travelled through much of the world I can truly say that we have never been more impressed with the quality of the guides arranged for us in each location, as well as the service we received. Similarly, the hotels were excellent and allowed us to live very comfortably while, at the same time, enjoy an authentic Indian experience. If you haven`t already booked your trip with Travel the Unknown, then either do so now....or at least give them a chance to show you what they can offer.

Tracey & Gary , Tailormade India

I have been on 3 tailor made trips with Travel The Unknown and have found them to be knowledgeable and reliable. We`ve stayed in some wonderful places and have had some unusual and satisfying experiences that go beyond the standard tours.

Joan Edmunds (USA) , Tailormade India

What an excellent service! Rahul adapted, extended and improved our trip so many times without a qualm and we ended up with the trip of a lifetime. The destinations are unusual and interesting but everything has been checked out by the team and works brilliantly. I can`t wait to do another trip.

Penelope Smith , Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival, India

This is our second fabulous trip with Travel The Unknown and we were not disappointed. Rajasthan's vibrant colours of turbans and saris, the noise, the spicy aromas, the silence in the hot air balloon over rural Jaipur, the majestic forts and palaces of ancient times, sighting leopards in the wild, all far exceeded our expectations and the heritage homes and hotels we stayed in, whilst being of high standard in every way, still had a friendly family touch. Thanks so much to Rahul and the team for such a memorable trip. Six weeks on and we still can't stop talking about it. I can't wait for the next one!

John & Christine Gregory , Tailormade India

Another fantastic trip with this company. WE really managed to get off the beaten track and have seen some amazing sights. Well put together. We will travel again with Travel the Unknown

Hazel & James Frost , Tailormade India

I thoroughly enjoyed my tailor made tour of northwestern and central India. Guides and accommodations were excellent and we saw as much of the area as could be packed into two weeks. I look forward to another tour with Travel the Unknown.

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Christina Taft , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

This trip was my first time travelling with Travel The Unknown, but definitely not my last!

Lori Martin , Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival, India

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