South India by rail holiday

“Our only holiday by train through Kerala and Tamil Nadu, staying at heritage hotels and homestays, tailor made, with private driver for transfers.”


Cochin | Kathakali performance | Night on houseboat | Kerala backwaters | Kanyakumari | Madurai | Trichy temples | Tanjore | Pondicherry | Mahabalipuram World Heritage Site | One night on sleeper train | Coonoor

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700


Departure information

This trip can be tailor made to suit your dates and requirements.
Our top tip:
Treat yourself to an Ayurvedic treatment or spa on this trip. This is the place for it.
Trip type:
Tailor made.
Solos welcome. Same room price as for couples, but rail ticket is individual, so better value for solo travellers than car transfer trips.
Mix of houseboat, heritage hotels and homestays.
Accommodation, all breakfasts, train tickets, full board on last two days, other transfers, local taxes.
Budget £15/day for meals.
Holiday type

Tailor made holiday

The tour operator offering this holiday is a British company with an intimate knowledge of the destination. All their holidays are tailor made which means that they can create a unique holiday for your individual requirements. They offer a range of accommodation from guesthouses and homestays to the more luxurious hotels. Where possible they use properties that are heritage or characterful. Quality and value are the hallmark of these trips. They are licenced to sell flights from the UK and will search for the best airfare for your dates. If you book flights with them, then the whole holiday will be protected by ATOL. This tour operator is also a member of ABTA – this means that all their holidays adhere to the ABTA Code of Conduct, their finances, insurances etc are checked regularly and if you have a complaint that cannot be resolved there is an arbitration scheme available to you.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: South India by rail holiday


All the long journeys are by train - normal India Rail trains. Train travel is generally accepted as the most environmentally friendly way to travel. Another benefit of train travel is the opportuntil to meet local people - ordinarly people going about their lives and taking the train to get to weddings, funerals, work, friends, family etc.

The owners of all the accommodation used on this tour have a commitment to environmental issues and as you travel between the properties you will find good practices, eg waste being recycled, low power light bulbs, water being heated by solar panels etc. With small numbers of individuals staying in small properties the impact on the environment is reduced, as waste, lighting etc will be minimal. Many of the accommodation options on this tour are homestays and small guesthouses – the longest stay (three nights) is spent at an eco-hotel.

The Dune - The Dune is an eco hotel. There is a very long list of environmental benefits offered by the owner and staff of this hotel including the fact that it was built using reclaimed and recycled materials, not one tree was cut down, all kitchen waste is converted to compost which they use on their organic farm etc, etc.


In addition to the environmental responsibility, The Dune is actively involved with the local communities in the field of education, local capacity building, vocational training and rehabilitation following the 2004 tsunami. These activities are carried out under an Indian trust – ‘Children of the World’ (supported by the French Red Cross).

The ground handling of this tour is provided by our local agent and we supply him with more than 90% of his turnover. All of the drivers and staff are local people. Thus we have fifteen local families that are directly financially reliant upon us. Our drivers have a contract and are paid a monthly wage. This is very unusual in South India where most drivers are normally employed on a commission-only basis (not easy for such seasonal work).

All of our customers are supplied with detailed information about their holiday. We supply general advice relevant to all customers as well as more specific facts about your particular tour. These documents offer our customers lots of advice and guidance including how to obtain an Indian Visa, which immunisations are recommended, how much to tip people, how to dress appropriately and how to behave in National Parks.

We support local charities and invite our customers to do so too (details are supplied with your travel documents).

4 Reviews of South India by rail holiday

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 21 Feb 2017 by

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

The diversity between the different hotels/resorts/homestays. We were excited over a lot of things, cultural, historical places and the people we met. The
mix between interesting places and relaxing places.

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

Don't worry, the local travel agent are very thorough and competent.

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

Travelling by train reduces environmental impact. Some hotels and resorts had an ecological approach. We where impressed that there was clear thoughts
and actions to save water.

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

We are very satisfied our holiday met all our expectations. The local organisation gave us the feeling of security and good planning. Like a "guardian
angel" by our side. But not to close, we felt as we where on our own when we wanted that.

Reviewed on 25 Oct 2015 by

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

For us there were two extra special parts of this holiday, both of which were on our bucket lists. Firstly spending two nights on the houseboat in the backwaters, we were treated like royalty by the crew and loved watching the world go by in peace and tranquility.
The second was visiting the temples of Tamil Nadu. No peace or tranquility here, but so beautiful.

We also appreciated our final few days in Cochin. It was great to return to a familiar place and spend time relaxing.

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

Tip your drivers generously, they work really hard and take care of their guests so well.
Local mosquito repellent is cheapest and best, and really necessary.
Make the most of each stop/place, you may never be back here and this tour takes in some really magical places.
Take a small towel everywhere with you. Hand washing facilities are everywhere, but no drying facilities!
Finally, if you are waiting around for your bag at Cochin airport, check the end of the conveyor, they take them off and leave them there!

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

As we went just ahead of the season we hope that the few extra weeks of work were of benefit to all of the people we came in contact with; drivers, boat crew, local shops and restaurants and the hotels.
At some of our hotels there were bikes that we could use for getting around and these were very welcome.
In most places we were happy to see solar heated water and local products being used.

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

We very much enjoyed this holiday, completely met and often exceeded our expectations. This was in no small way due to the staff of the holiday providers who could not have been better. The hotels were well chosen, although if would have been nice to be closer to town in Pondy.

However, overall, this was one of our best holiday experiences ever!

Reviewed on 06 Mar 2015 by

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

Sitting with the train door open looking out over paddy fields as the train made its way south to Kanyakumari.
Watching the sunset over the boulder fields and temples of Hampi.
Walking in the tea covered hills near Coonoor.

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

Towns are exhausting and many of the amazing temples are in towns/cities, so factor in some peaceful time in the countryside too. Use some trains, driving is not always relaxing

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

Yes we spread our spending around to a wide variety of people. I'm afraid improving the environment in India will need a huge investment in the infrastructure to clean up polluted waterways and start a proper refuse collection service. Train rubbish just gets dumped on the tracks.

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

An amazing way to get an insight into the many sides of India. Trains are a brilliant way to see the countryside and talk to Indian people. The tour company was the most helpful travel company I have ever dealt with and I highly recommend using them.

Reviewed on 23 Feb 2011 by

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

Staying in some fabulous homestays. Arriving at the first one, Nelpura, Moncompu in a canoe felt like royalty.

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

No need to take too many clothes so easy to get things washed. Had thought we would be dressing up for dinner so took clothes to cover this eventuality.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

It was wonderful to go into people's houses to see craftsmen at work - the potter, weaver, basket. Since returning have told many people about life out there, how people have so little materialistic but are so happy, friendly and grateful to be spoken to and if their photo is taken it makes their day. The school we visited was amazing, education so important but no resources, sharing this with children over here.

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

Brilliant/amazing. The operator did a wonderful job organising a holiday so suitable for us.

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