India – Group
Gift Giving
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Vegan Dishes
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South India 7
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In Kadiapati


16 – Day South India Adventure


GROUP SIZEMaximum 16 people
GROUP MINIMUM1 person (all our trips are guaranteed departures)
ENDS INChennai
START DAYSaturday @ 9:00 AM
END DAYSunday @ 7:00 PM

16-day journey into the heartland of South India where ancient ruins, terrific temples, gorgeous gopurams, magnificent monuments, sensational saints, palatial palaces, paddies, peaks and plantations meet vibrant villages, coconut tree lined coasts, brilliant backwaters, bustling bazaars and balmy breezes!


Wedged between the mountainous Western and Eastern Ghats of Southern Asia – lies the hidden gem of South India! Far less visited than the North or the tourist saturated beaches of Goa, South India is a wealth of cultures, architecture, history, geography, really cool (and colorful) temples and some of the tastiest vegan food found on the subcontinent. Home to coconut-tree-lined coasts that give way to fine sandy beaches, vast plains scattered with paddy fields, small villages and ornate temples, wild jungles, wild elephants and misty mountains, as well as bustling metropolises flourishing with skyscrapers that rise up next to surviving relics of ancient history – South India is a true melting pot of civilizations.

Discovering the history, heritage, traditions and cuisines of this unique part of India through cultural immersion and local interaction is what this adventure is all about. From joining local families at their homes in the countryside where we’ll learn about village life and customs to watching the sun set at the southern most tip of India and exploring intricately carved temples painted in Technicolor hues in fantastic temple towns. From following in the footsteps of the mighty Chola, Pallava and Pandyan dynasties who ruled the region for centuries and whose reach extended all the way to the shores of Southeast Asia, to enjoying the laid back beach life and backwaters of Kerala – we’ll journey off-the-beaten track as we discover the treasures and wonders of the region.

No VegVoyages adventure is complete without a little eating (okay, a lot of eating), and this adventure is definitely no different – as we love South Indian food! South India is home to some of the tastiest vegan cuisine found on the subcontinent! This includes a definite cultural contribution to the world of culinary arts – the delectable dosa! Southern food is not just about dosas, and as any South Indian foodie will tell you – there’s nothing quite like a tasty banana leaf meal. With a mound of rice in the middle of a fresh banana leaf, local veggies, dhal, spicy rasam, papad and pickles are piled up in front of you! Banana leaf meals are usually an all-you-can-eat endeavor – so be careful on this adventure or you may take home a few extra pounds!

On our South India Serenade adventure, we invite you to journey off-the-beaten-track with us into the heart and soul of the deep south exploring the stunning states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the old French enclave of Pondicherry, learning about the diverse cultures, cuisines, and way of life of the people who make up the rich tapestry of South India!



15 nights accommodations (combination of historical heritage inns, old colonial-era villas, palatial mansions, boutique bed & breakfasts, seaside hotels, a charming plantation bungalow, backwater river houseboat and jungle camp)


45 meals (16 breakfasts, 16 lunches, 13 dinners)

  • Private air-conditioned vans
  • bicycles
  • rickshaws
  • jeeps
  • boats
  • and domestic flight to Chennai (on last day of trip)

VegVoyages Adventure Leaders & Local Guides

  • Vegan cooking classes
  • daily language lessons
  • all local guide fees
  • live traditional music and folk dances
  • Bharatanatyam classical dance workshop
  • South Indian cultural lessons
  • introduction to local martial arts
  • airport arrival pick up *
  • national park entry fees
  • jungle safari
  • village visits
  • heritage walks
  • guests at local schools
  • donation to local schools
  • guests at a local tribal villages
  • exploring local bazaars
  • visit to a local animal rescue
  • donation to a local animal rescue
  • meals with local families
  • participation in an ancient aarti (Hindu ritual) ceremony
  • visit to auspicious South Indian temples
  • visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mahabalipuram historical temples & sanctuaries
  • tea plantation hike
  • bicycling
  • vegan welcome package
  • and all other activities and entertainment as per the itinerary

* Airport pick up is provided only if you arrive a day or two earlier than the tour date. If you would be arriving three days or more early, please arrange for your own airport pick up.


International airfare, airport departure transfer, visa for India, personal travel insurance, gratuities and items of a personal nature.


START DATEJanuary 20January 19
END DATEFebruary 4February 3
START DAYSaturdaySaturday
END DAYSundaySunday


DAY   1 Chennai

Vanakkam! Welcome to Chennai! Previously known as Madras, the capital of Tamil Nadu was once a scattering of villages along the coast of the Bay of Bengal until the British arrived and changed the course of its history forever. Today, it’s a bustling city where the old and new sit side-by-side with the city’s ancient roots felt on almost every street as skyscrapers rise up next to ancient temples and traditional shops. Your Adventure start at 9:30 AM.  After our orientation meeting in the morning, we’ll head out into the city’s lively streets where we’ll not only learn about the capital’s fascinating history, but also get our first taste of the rich culture and heritage of South India! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

DAY  2 Mahabalipuram & Puducherry

From the busy streets of Chennai, our journey takes us along the Coromandel Coast past sleepy villages, swaying palms, salt pans and backwaters to the magnificent monuments of Mahabs whose stunning stone sculptures date back well over a millennium. After, we’ll continue to the old French enclave of Pondy – as the locals still call it, where we’ll be staying in charming villas in the heart of the old town. Boasting beautiful old French architecture, sweeping promenades, quaint cafés, classic cathedrals and aging canals, this afternoon we’ll take in the town’s historical streets seeing it from a local’s point of view. As the sun sets, we’ll settle down for a tasty vegan dinner accompanied by traditional music and dance performed by students from a local arts school. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

“What a fantastic trip! It was unlike any other trip we’ve experienced. We had the opportunity to learn from and interact with people that we would never had the opportunity to meet, and it’s given us a taste for more adventurous and more rewarding travel. We can’t thank the VegVoyages team enough for all the hard work and long hours you clearly put into making your tours so rewarding!”

James McLean (Canada)

DAY  3 Puducherry

It’s not just the French influence that made Pondy what it is today, but more so, the influence of the different cultures and communities who settled here over the centuries. So to start the day, we’ll make our way out to the local market to begin our cultural culinary experience where we’ll learn how to cook a full course South Indian meal. After filling our minds and bellies, we’ll join a grassroots street theater troupe for the evening where we’ll experience the work they do in getting the word out on important issues to rural villages through the important, but unfortunately dying, art of street theater. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

DAY  4 Neduncherry

Bidding adieu to the big city (okay, Pondy isn’t that big, but it will seem that way compared to where we’re going), we’ll head off-the-beaten-track to a small village located among the paddy fields, farms and rural temples of Tamil Nadu. Here, we’ll spend our time focusing on local customs, culture, cuisines and way of life in rural South India. On arrival, we’ll sit down for a delicious banana leaf lunch where we’ll learn about the intricacies behind eating this most traditional of South India meals before setting out to explore the countryside. Then, we’ll make our way to one of the region’s most sacred temples to learn about their auspicious aarti (Hindu ritual) ceremonies before returning to our village for dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

DAY   5 Neduncherry

Kaalai Vanakkam (Good Morning in Tamil)! After a traditional breakfast, we’ll set out on bicycles into the surrounding countryside peddling our way through rice paddies, sleepy villages, farms and fields where we’ll learn about the unique way of life in rural Tamil Nadu. Later, we’ll take a breather from our bikes as we’ll settle down as guests of a local family at their home for a lunch of fresh South Indian delicacies. Today we’ll have a colorful evening of Tamil folk music, dance and dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

“VegVoyages is the absolute best. I am overwhelmed by the amazing memories and stories shared. While it’s a “tour” in the traditional sense of lots of sightseeing, lots of informations, lots of food – it’s not a typical “tour” in any other way. Truly the most unique and amazing experience that is a credit to the amazing hosts, and you feel more like a much-loved and much-welcomed guest than you do a tourist.”

Marta Garbarek (Victoria, Australia)

DAY   6 Tanjore & Kadiapatti

Starting early, we’ll head across the plains of Tamil Nadu making our way to the legendary land of the Chettiars! A prosperous merchant community, the Chettiars were key in the wealth and business affairs of South India as far back as the reign of the Chola Empire. Known both as seafaring traders, merchants and moneylenders, their influence extended well outside the borders of India all the way to Singapore, Malaya (Malaysia), parts of Africa, and beyond. Their rich heritage, history and culture is evident in their ornate temples and magnificent mansions. During our journey today we’ll also visit the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Brihadeeswarar Temple, before settling down at our mansion for an introduction to the famous, albeit spicy, cuisine of Chettinad! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

DAY   7 Kadiapatti

We’ll begin with a cultural culinary experience for breakfast where we’ll learn how to make appams, idiyappams and paniyarams – and of course, eat them too! Then we’ll head into the countryside where we’ll explore ancient ruins set around a large stone hill, some cool Jain caves, and an old historical fort. We’ll be out all day, including have a local picnic lunch amongst some centuries old ruins. Back at our palace, you’ll have time to relax and freshen up with a swim before we meet for a delicious dinner of local Chettinad delicacies! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

DAY   8 Madurai & Kanyakumari

We can’t get anymore south in India than where we’re going today – to Kanyakumari – the southernmost tip of mainland India! The town’s proximity at the tip of the country makes it a very auspicious location as it is where three great bodies of water meet – the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, and Arabian Sea. Kanyakumari is also the site of the serene Swami Vivekananda Memorial – located on the rock where Swami Vivekananda discovered his mission in life. Before arriving in Kanyakumari, we’ll visit the ancient city of Madurai and learn about its over two millennia year old history. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

“Thank you very much for the amazing holiday! The adventure was a wonderful experience and I am sure it will take me weeks and weeks to all sink in. I am so glad I have hundreds and hundreds of photos to edit and remind me of every second.”

Carrie Madison (Australia)

DAY   9 Kerala Beach

Saying goodbye to Tamil Nadu, we’ll cross into Kerala. The border here, much like many borders in India – was not just drawn up on “geographical” lines, but more so – on linguistic and cultural lines. As we make our way into Kerala you’ll notice the script, language (no more Tamil, they speak Malayalam here), food and movie posters have all changed (different language = different movies). Before crossing the border, we’ll visit the well-preserved ruins of an old seaside fort. Arriving in Kerala – its time for sun, sand and sea as we’ll be staying near the shores of the Arabian Sea with fresh ocean air and warm water. (Breakfast, Lunch)

DAY 10   Kerala Beach

Waking up to the sound of waves crashing against the shore, we’ll make our way into Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala! Trivandrum, as it was mispronounced for years, was an important trading outpost for spices whose history dates back centuries. Then, we’ll be introduced to the formidable Kerala martial art form of Kalaripayattu. After having lunch with a local family, we’ll head back to our beachside cottage and you’ll have time to relax, enjoy the beach and do some shopping if you’d like. (Breakfast, Lunch)

“Thank you for coordinating the most amazing journey for us! You’ve made this such a memorable trip. Thank you for putting as much heart, soul and thoughts into this adventure. It definitely created a love and curiosity of Indian culture for us.”

Staci Nicoletti & John Predny (California, USA)

DAY 11   Kerala Backwaters

Driving along the Malabar Coast, you’ll see quite a difference in the villages and geography that hug the main road from those we’ve seen while we traversing Tamil Nadu. In addition to the different script on signboards, different political flags, and different movie posters, another difference you’ll notice is the geography that varies from coconut groves and forests to foliage-thick banks and backwaters – which we’ll be exploring. With over 900 kilometers of canals, lakes and lagoons that are fed by more than 38 rivers and the Arabian Sea, these peaceful waterways also make-up an important ecosystem that is home to a over 225 species of birds. Climbing aboard our traditional-style houseboats, we’ll spend the day, and night, along the canals, lakes and lagoons of Kerala’s famous backwaters! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

DAY   12, 13 & 14 Coonoor / Nilgiri Mountains

Arriving back onshore, we’ll make our way from sea level up into the Nilgiri Mountains, one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world! On our journey today you’ll see the terrain change a lot as we head up into the mountains! Part of the Western Ghats, the Nilgiris are also known as the “Blue Mountains” and its inviting cool climate, local indigenous tribal cultures, forested hills and tea plantation slopes are synonymous with the mystique and majesty of these ancient highlands. The Nilgiris are also home to a diverse biosphere and a wide variety of wildlife. Over the coming days we’ll learn about the rich history, heritage, local cultures, customs, cuisines and way of life of the people of the Nilgiris, as we’ll be guest at a local Toda village. A small tribal community in the secluded part of the Nilgiris, the Toda’s have attracted “a most disproportionate amount of attention because of their ethnological aberrancy”. (Breakfast (x3), Lunch (x3), Dinner (x3))

DAY 15   Masinagudi

We’ll head out on a picturesque journey to the hilltop town of Ooty. Over a century old, as we the make the journey up the mountain, be ready for some lovely scenery on both sides of the train. Then we’ll make our way down from the mountains to the wilds of Mudumalai on the other side! The protected forests of Mudumalai National Park stretch over 321 square kilometers and are home to a variety of wildlife with over 55 species of mammals – including wild elephants, 227 species of birds, and 34 species of reptiles. In the morning, we’ll visit a local Animal Sanctuary and spend the time there to help out, learn about the work they do. After spending the first part of the day at the sanctuary,  we’ll go on safari exploring the national park and its surroundings before enjoying our last evening together in South India with drinks and a delicious vegan feast. (Breakfast (x1), Lunch (x1), Dinner(x1))

DAY 16   Masinagudi – Chennai

After breakfast, we’ll board our vehicles and say goodbye to Masinagudi as we make our way to catch our flight back to Chennai where your adventure ends on arrival in the evening at around 7:00 PM the airport. Mikka, mikka nandri (thank you very much)! (Breakfast, Lunch)

“This most memorable trip filled with delightful discoveries, enhanced (in no small measure) by VegVoyages’ attention to details and commitment to immersing us in the diverse culture, language and cuisines that is South India. We may have begun the trip as tourists, but gradually found our way as travelers.”

Lory Kitamura-Tintor (California, USA)