Inspiration Itinerary | Chennai to Kochi

A Sojourn

across Southern India

Southern India Sojourn

Travelling from east to west you will traverse the vast southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu before crossing Kerala.  Commencing in Chennai, India’s fourth largest city, you will admire the colonially influenced architecture before heading south to Pondicherry – France’s former trading post that exudes old world Parisian charm.  Along the way you will pass fishing villages, beaches and visit the famous Shore Temple in Mahabalipuram and the unmissable ‘City of Dawn’ – Auroville, where people from across the globe, ignoring creed, colour and nationality, work together to sustain a universal, cash-free, nonreligious city.

Moving south Chettinad is famous for its culinary delicacies, Dravidian architecture, elaborate 18th century mansions and unique and ornamented palatial houses; a fascinating stop enroute to Madurai, Tamil Nadu’s cultural capital.  One of the oldest cities in south Asia Madurai’s skyline is dominated by the 14 colourful gopurams (gateway towers) of the elaborately sculptured Meenakshi Amman Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Crossing into Kerala you will marvel at the variety of landscapes from impressive spice plantations to sprawling tea estates, rice paddies to rubber, vanilla and coffee plantations.  After exploring Thekkady and the Periyar Wildlife Reserve you will relax on the shore of Lake Vembanad with the opportunity to cruise along Kerala’s famed backwaters aboard a traditional kettuvallam (boat) soaking in the serene landscapes.  Your final destination is Cochin, or Kochi, the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’. On every traveller’s wish list Kochi provides glimpses of its glorious past through its European churches, palaces, cemeteries, alleyways, fishing nets, spice markets and bustling port.  It’s also a great place to shop and a fitting end to your Southern India Sojourn.

This extraordinary journey can be tailored to suit your style, pace and price – please get in touch to design your own stylish sojourn.

You will love

  • From the Arabian Sea to the Indian Ocean
  • Rich and colourful culture
  • Exquisitely crafted temples
  • Some of India’s finest cuisines
  • Charming, character-filled accommodation



Arrive in Chennai and transfer to your hotel where you have the remainder of the evening at leisure to relax.


Chennai is one of India’s oldest colonial cities and boasts a history of nearly 400 years. While the city has changed tremendously post-independence, part of it, especially the region near Fort St. George still retains its colonial charm with several British-era landmarks and architectural marvels. Enjoy a walking tour around the most popular heritage structures before strolling along Marina Beach -famous around the world as the second-longest urban beach in the world. Later this afternoon venture to Mylapore district to view the Kapaleeswarar Temple, oldest place of worship in the city and the Santhome Cathedral Basilica – said to be one of the only three basilicas in the entire world to be constructed over the tomb of a direct Apostle of Jesus Christ.


Departing Chennai you will drive south along the shores of the Indian Ocean to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Mahaballipuram. Home to over 40 monuments, but most noteably the magnificent Shore Temple, one of the oldest stone buildings in India. Continue to Kanchipuram, the ‘Golden City of Temples’ and visit the Dakshina Chitra South Indian Cultural Centre dedicated to the preservation, presentation and conservation of South Indian cultural heritage, before arriving in Pondicherry.


Pondicherry is a sophisticated city with strong French influences. This morning, accompanied by a storyteller, you will be guided on a ‘French Connections’ walking tour before driving to Auroville, known as the ‘city of dawn’, located 12km from Pondicherry. Auroville was envisioned as an international community free of government, money, religion & strife and you will have the opportunity to engage with local artisans as they work, and you have the option visit a pre-school in Mohanam run by an Auroville NGO.


Depart Pondicherry by road for Chettinad (5 hours). Enroute you will visit Tanjore, an important centre of Southern Indian art, religion and architecture and home to the impressive Brihadeshwara Temple & Fort & Tanjore Palace.


The Chettiars (propserous merchants & bankers who settled here in the 19th Century) built truly opulent mansions that you will visit this morning before meeting ladies from a local initiative that produces delicious snacks for weddings and restaurants. After lunch engage with a small group from the local community who have been instrumental in putting the Chettinad’s art and cultural heritage on the map.


Road transfer to Madurai (2.5 hours), the city known as the Temple City or ‘Athens of Southern India’. The city is built around the magnificent 16th Century Sri Meenakshi Temple, a spectacular complex of shrines, temples, towers & courtyards that is considered one of India’s greatest cultural landmarks. Also pay a visit to the Tirumalai Nayak Palace with its artistic blend of Dravidian and Islamic styles, designed as a residence for the king by an Italian architect it is a ‘must see’ for history lovers and those who appreciate an enviable blend of architectural styles from bygone eras.


This morning head out for a walking tour of Madurai to experience the city as it awakes before driving through the picturesque hills and plantations to Thekkady, home to the Periyar Wildlife SanctuaryAfter breakfast you will travel to Thekkady, home of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary – a community based ecotourism project which aims to provide a living for the local residents whilst protecting the region’s rare flora and fauna. Settle into your hotel before enjoying a cultural experience and an impressive martial arts show this evening.


Today stretch your legs by joining a half day walking tour through the forests of Periyar. Rich in bird life and home to the hooded leaf monkey, Nilgiri Langur, as well as larger animals including elephant, gaur and sambar (although you are unlikely to see these on foot). Early in the afternoon wander through a Spice Plantation learning all the attributes of the key ingredients in Southern India’s delicious dishes. Late afternoon a boat ride on the lake within the park will hopefully reveal sightings of larger species.


Check out after breakfast and road transfer to Kumarakom (approx 3.5 hours) on the shores of Lake Vembanad. This unique ecosystem presents you with a time-honoured image of an India long forgotten. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure with a chase to wander the shoreline, indulge in an ayurvedic treatment and enjoy a spectacular sunset.


Embark on a traditional kettuvalum (houseboat) today and venture along the palm fringed canals of the famed Kerala Backwaters, weaving amongst the labyrinthine channels passing villagers that live today as they have for generations. Lunch is served on your tranquil boat cruise and you can alight as often as you wish before being delivered back to your hotel by late afternoon.


After breakfast commence your drive to Cochin, stopping at Kumbhalanghi on the way to experience local village activities – take a boat ride to view a crab farm and traditional fishing nets, watch local women weave rope, learn how to best throw a Keralan fishing net and harvest coconuts. The garden is also littered with a stunning array of orchids. On reaching Cochin, the glittering ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’ check in to your hotel and relax before joining a sunset cruise on the harbour this evening.


Cochin is the oldest European settlement in India and also home to the oldest church and synagogue in the country. Built on trade, the city began to prosper with the arrival of Jewish and Arab traders before being influenced by first the Portuguese and then the Dutch and English; resulting in a vibrant city that incorporaties a rare fusion of European and Asian styles & traditions. You will visit Mattancherry Palace and Church of St. Francis, explore the handicraft shops of the Jewish town and appreciate the oldest living synagogue in the world. The city is also famous for its Chinese fishing nets, best viewed at dusk for fabulous photos. Enjoy a traditional Kathakhali dance performance this evening before your final dinner and overnight in India.


Your sojourn across Southern India ends today with a transfer to the airport to begin your return journey home, or to start your next adventure.


This itinerary provides the perfect framework for a spectacular sojourn across Southern India, however it can be designed to suit your preferred pace, price and pursuits. Contact us for a tailormade journey.


Stylish suggested accommodation for your sojourn

The Leela Palace – Chennai, Southern India

The Leela Palace is Chennai’s only modern palace hotel, set on the glittering Bay of Bengal. With opulent design features and palatial interiors, it evokes the rich heritage of Tamil Nadu and offers guests a full, royal experience in one of Chennai’s most prestigious and stunningly beautiful locations. Read More

Palais de Mahe – Pondicherry, Southern India

In the heart of Pondicherry’s French Quarter, Palais de Mahe is a characterful retreat within easy wandering distance of the picturesque promenade. Spice-laden breezes drift off the Bay of Bengal and local artists display their work. Palais de Mahe is a grand and fitting base for exploring this beautiful and enchanting city. Read More

Visalam – Chettinad, Southern India

Visalam hotel is located 10km from the famous Thirumayan Fort in the Kanadukathan village of the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu. It is a century-old palatial home with a lot of love and care put into keeping it to its former glory and where some of the many charms of Chettinad can be admired. Read More

The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai – Madurai

The Gateway Hotel is perched atop the Pasumalai Hill, amid 62 acres of peaceful, landscaped gardens. It is 15km from Madurai Airport and a 15-minute drive from Madurai City Centre. The Gateway Hotel offers a comfortable stay amidst a tropical garden setting within easy reach of the Madurai City Centre. Read More

Spice Village – Thekkady, Southern India

Set amidst the landscaped spice gardens, the cottages at Spice Village are where you will rest your head at night are simple, yet luxuriously furnished and naturally elegant. Immerse yourself in nature, culture and the local way of life - look no further than Spice Village for a true wilderness experience. Read More

Coconut Lagoon – Kumarakom

Coconut Lagoon sits amongst rice paddies, tranquil waterways and lush gardens boasting authentic heritage, exquisite cuisine and a unique insight into this beautiful corner of Kerala. During your stay you are free to wander through the cool wildflower and butterfly garden, take a sunset cruise or explore the network of canals by canoe. Read More

Eighth Bastion – Cochin, Kerala

Eighth Bastion, located in the Malabar region of Fort Kochi, is remnant of a time long past where the VOC was busy trading and fighting over spices and trade routes. The hotel’s outdoor pool and garden are great places to unwind after a busy day of exploring. Look no further than Eighth Bastion Hotel for your stay in Kochi. Read More


14 delightful days that can be shortened or extended to suit

14 delightful days that can be shortened or extended to suit

Please enquire for pricing based on your preferences

Please enquire for pricing based on your preferences

START: Chennai, India     |     Finish: Kochi, India

This itinerary provides the perfect inspiration for a spectacular journey & can be tailored to suit your style, pace, preferences and budget.  Elements of this trip may vary based on your chosen season & dates of travel which may also present the opportunity to see & do even more!

Exellent and wonderful, reaching way above expectations.

Elizabeth Mackintosh

Julia you did a fantastic job - everything was first class. Well organised, efficient and stress free. We all agreed it was the best holiday we've ever had. Cant wait to travel with CSC again.

Milford family

We are so happy we put our trust in CSC, we had an amazing adventure and would recommend them to anyone.

Kim & Brad Balance

The trip exceeded my expectations and was the best family holiday I have ever had. Our children simply loved it and now I know more about African wildlife than they do about our own farm animals.

Rowntree family

Classic Safari are the people who genuinely know other culture and offer incredible insight to perfectly meet your expectations.

Melanie McMillan & Iain Jones

We loved it all. Our son wants to go back tomorrow. We would ALL go back again!

Laurence & Remi Cunningham

An amazing experience - the best family holiday we have ever had. We were extremely impressed by the meticulous attention to our itinerary. I can't speak highly enough of all the elements of this exciting journey!

Sheryl & Robert Taylor

Thank you for making our trip to Africa so spectacular. The attention to detail really made it special. It really was the trip of a lifetime.

Paul Cozzi

Very knowledgeable and patient. Our trip was all that we hoped for. Wonderful!

Jane & Robert Happell

Everything was perfect! Advice and information on destinations and activities hit everything I had hoped to experience. I contacted the Classic Safari Company upon recommendation and have now, in turn, recommended to others.

Tim Bradley

You can't improve on perfection. I had my best birthday and holiday with my family celebrating my 80th birthday in Africa. Everything that Julia organised was perfect and the whole trip was a highlight!

Buckingham Family

The trip of a lifetime, couldn't have dreamt of a better adventure if I tried.

Emma Jeffcoat

Absolutely everything was first class & so well organised.

Simon & Jackie Adams

Classic Safari Company has done it again! A unique experience that ticked all the boxes - wildlife, culture and dining experience. A dream come true!

Ros Wheeler

Their experience and knowledge of Africa is evident and we couldn't have been happier with the total package. This has given us a taste for Africa - now we are ready for more.

Andrew & Pip Stevens

If you want the most sensational experience in Africa let Julia and the staff at Classic Safari Co plan it for you! Their knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm for their job means your every wish will be fulfilled.

Miriam & Joseph Harrison

Classic Safari is the place to go to for "top end" adventure travel.

Ron & Alison Guthrie

Classic Safari Company were brilliant - 10/10

Di & Kingsley Yates

The Classic Safari Company is the best I have dealt with. Extremely knowledgeable & professional, friendly, patient & understanding of first timers to Africa.

Annette Whiley

It certainly was the best trip we have EVER had. The experiences were mind blowing.  We want everyone we know to experience Africa - the animals, the people - magical.

Jo-anne & Dean Mifsud

Would do it all again and not change a moment. Best holiday ever!

The McGowan Tribe

An absolutely fantastic travel company - every one of the many trips they have organised for us over 22 years have been faultless and fabulous.

Judith & Roger Williams

begin your journey now

Take advantage of our highly personalised advice, inspiration and experience