Tamil Nadu and Kerala holiday, India

“A luxurious two weeks exploring Tamil Nadu and Kerala, particularly its superb food, with a private driver and exclusive accommodation.”


Chennai | Mahabalipuram | Chettinad | Madurai | Idukki wildlife sanctuary | Periyar National Park | Kumarakom | Mararikulam | Alleppey houseboat cruise | Cochin

Description of Tamil Nadu and Kerala holiday, India

This 14 day tailor made Tamil Nadu and Kerala holiday, India, is all about relaxation and wonderful food in this wonderful region of India, well known for its superb cuisine. This is a holiday that celebrates food, while also weaving in plenty of culture, history and time to relax on the beach.

Your holiday includes a city tour of Chennai and Cochin with you own private and very knowledgeable guide, and the chance to explore temples and learn more about local culture. You’ll see wildlife and birds in Idukki wildlife sanctuary, cruise the canals around Alleppey on a traditional houseboat and enjoy time relaxing on the beach. Each night, you’ll enjoy superb and atmospheric accommodation in some of the best properties in southern India, including Shalimar Spice Garden, Kumarakom Lake Resort and Heritage Madurai. Throughout this 14 day break, you’ll have a private vehicle with air conditioning and your own driver and there will be a support network on the ground, so you can relax and get the most from this beautiful portion of India.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Responsible Resorts
This tour will include stays at two CGH Earth Hotels that offer tourism respectful of nature and local ethos, in search for new harmonies, including nature as integral and respected part of the resorts. The CGH Earth Hotels adopted the construction methods of the Ooralie tribe of Periyar and the fishermen of Mararikulum and made them their own. They have borrowed the recipees of the local communities using locally grown ingredients for wholesome food that is unique to the region.

The CGH Earth resort Visalam on your trip is a heritage mansion of the noble land of Chettinad, restored only with materials that were faithful to the originals, woodwork and original art deco grilles. The walls and plastering at Visalam resort are unique to the region, made from an exotic recipe of egg shells, lime, palm jaggery and sea shells, ground together by hand. The final polishing is done with egg white, reflecting an attitude to craftsmanship now rare in the world.

Visalam is dedicated to ecological living, having a solar water heating system, a rainwater harvesting system, a sewage treatment plant to recycle waste water for gardens and even a pool that uses non-chlorinated, oxygenated water treated through a natural eco-friendly method.

You will also stay at the Vivanta by Taj resort, which is representing EARTH (Environment Awareness & Renewal at Taj Hotels), a project that reiterates the conscious effort to commit to energy conservation and environmental management. EARTH has received certification from EarthCheck, the only worldwide environmental certification program for travel and tourism.

At the Marari Beach resort, you can learn from nature with the locals, for example on a morning stroll with a naturalist to discover the unique ecosystem of the Malabar coast with its 97 species of butterflies, more then 350 species of endemic plants, 3 varieties of turtles, 10 kinds of frogs and an uncountable number of birds...

In your trip, you will also visit the Idukki Wildlife Reserve. A land-locked district, Idukki is one of the most nature-rich areas of Kerala. Situated at an altitude of 450-748 m above sea level, this sanctuary occupies the forest land between the Cheruthoni and Periyar rivers. There is a scenic lake around the sanctuary, covered by an enchanting canopy of tropical ever-green and deciduous trees.

We also work with local partners that are part of TOFT (Travel Operators for Tigers), a pioneering international collective action campaign to advocate, plan, support and fund the protection, conservation and rewilding of natural wilderness and their wild inhabitants, especially tiger habitat, through the clever and wise use of nature tourism, using better visitor guidance, more community involvement, targeted green investment and enhanced governance and monitoring.

The Impacts of this Trip

A fair deal
We only work with local guides that come from the very region you are visiting, giving back to their families and communities. While many operators pay per day or per tour, our guides receive an hourly rate which allows a fair and fruitful reward for their expertise.

The CGH Earth resorts we choose for you also endeavour to employ people from local community, be it the naturalist who guides you through the wilderness or the therapist who rejuvenates your mind and body. CGH Earth resorts have been instituting community based programmes that help rehabilitate poachers and smugglers. Local tribes were taught organic farming techniques, which helped them to prosper and preserve their way of life. CGH Earth have adopted the local culture and way of life as a form of respect for the local heritage and traditional modes of living. They set up market mechanisms such us purchasing produce from the local community only.

The resorts and agents we chose are committed to serve its many local communities by furthering education and skills training, particularly among rural populations, and to preserve Indian art.

Local Crafts & Culture
We also try when possible to give you a rural taste and really get the flavour of real India whether it be a visit to a school or lunch / or even cooking with a local family. It's not uncommon for our guests to offer to stand up in a local school and tell the children a little about where they come from and what they do.

At Visalam you will have the opportunity to join the local traditions practised by the local staff – be it for ‘kolam’ or ‘rangoli’ in the morning, a traditional art form of sprinkling rice powder and colour onto the floor, creating a kaleidoscope of geometric patterns, or making flower garlands, joining into the traditional Tamil board game "Pallanguli" or grab a pair of sticks to join for the 'Kolattam’ stick dance!

At Marari Beach, you can learn local & sustainable traditions by watching the fisherwomen using palm fronds to prepare sapling protectors, or the fascinating process of coir making, a wonder fibre that forms the basis of numerous items, from handbags to ropes to sandals to mattresses.

If you do want to shop, then we will take you to local collectives where local women of that very region craft their products and help keep the money earned in that very community.


4 Reviews of Tamil Nadu and Kerala holiday, India

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 18 Jan 2020 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Visiting the temples and towns during the day and spending the nights at beautiful hotels

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared to be surprised and amazed

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

No, not really

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Very interesting and spectacular

Read the operator's response here:

Hi Steve,Thanks so much for your wonderful comments - it was really very enjoyable working with you to create this adventure.

We are glad that you enjoyed the hotels - we are very careful about what hotels partners we choose for our guests and they generally have well established
policies in place to supporting local communities in very many different formats which may not have been obvious to you - maybe a school or local
community project, maybe its commitment to recycling and reducing environmental waste or even something to the continued on going welfare support
of its workforce in times of adversity.

We do look forward to welcoming you back as no doubt India would have left its imprint on you and when you are ready we will be all too delighted to help
you plan another journey with us.

Many thanks


Reviewed on 05 Mar 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing the evening ceremony at the ghats in Varanasi and visiting the temples of Madurai and Tanjore.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take lots of sunscreen as well as a hat - it is very, very hot and sunny in Tamil Nadu.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

To a certain extent yes as nearly all our hotels were local ones rather than multinationals so the money we spent stayed in India. However, we still had a huge carbon footprint due to the flights and use of car.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was truly memorable and a fantastic experience.

Reviewed on 29 Jan 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

So many highlights of our month-long trip to Tamil Nadu. We'll never forget the stunning trek
through the Nilgiris, spotting langur monkeys, deer and leopard poo (though no leopards!) and a host of birds with our knowledgeable guide, who took us
to meet welcoming hill tribes on a route during which we didn't spot a single other tourist! Fabulous. We were blown away by the temples at Madurai, by
the exquisite mansions of Chettinad, and the unspoilt countryside near our hotel in Kumbakonam (more bird-spotting from the patio outside our room). A
final week in Pondicherry showed us yet another side of Tamil Nadu, a state of extradordinary contrasts, where Western visitors are relatively few (which
meant we kept getting stopped and asked for selfies!), and the locals are wonderfully friendly.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take the Toy Train journey to or from the Queen of Hillstations Ooty - spectacular. Oh, and if you're going to the Nigiris in the winter, pack some warm
clothes - it gets properly cold and sometimes frosty at nights, though daytimes are lovely and warm.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We stayed at hotels that made a point of supporting local people and using local staff, using organic and local food, and doing their best to avoid the
environmental impact of plastic use

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

One of the best holidays we've EVER had. We loved it.

Reviewed on 04 Dec 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Meeting so many kind and funny Indian people everywhere we went. Everyone was helpful, full of fun and the joys of life.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Think carefully and realistically about what you want to do/see and factor in travelling from one place to another via very slow Indian roads - or use trains
which in our experience were efficient and much faster.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. Local people acted as guides and drivers. We stayed in a home stay and also hotels with good eco credentials. The local naturalists were passionate about
conservation and we learnt a lot about the challenges faced and how we as tourists can support their work.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Best ever!

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you so much for your lovely words Lesley- you were are pleasure to help and for your first trip to India you certainly tore up the rule book and did what folk do on there second or fourth trip. I know the teams in the south all enjoyed meeting with you and very much hope to make your next India experience just as rich.

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