South India Women-only Cultural Tour

Tour Details

South India Women-only Cultural Tour

Dates: February 26 - March 9, 2019
Number of Days: 12

Tour Closed* We’re sorry you missed this tour. Please contact us using this form if you’d like to be notified about future India tours or if you’d like to join us for any of our other tours.

WanderWorld Foundation – A portion of your tour cost will go to supporting a program in South India. In the past, we’ve supported the Sri Arunodayam Charitable Trust in Chennai and the Sambhali Trust in Jodphur.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

HIGHLIGHTS of the South India Cultural Tour

* Explore fantastical temples and caves from the 7th century
* Soak up the former French colonial town of Pondicherry
* Learn the intricacies of South Indian cuisine in two cooking classes
* Visit the idyllic tea-growing region of Munnar
* Overnight on a lovely air-conditioned houseboat in Kerala
* Enjoy unique 4- and 5-star hotels, which make perfect places to rest after your days in India
* Returning WanderTours participants receive a 5% discount on land cost
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Note: Cancellation fees apply. Please read our Booking Terms and Conditions before registering.

South India Women-only Cultural Tour

The adventure starts in Chennai on February 26, 2019. You’ll be met at the airport and driven to Mahabalipuram, about an hour away and where the tour officially begins.

Alternately, if you’d like to arrive early in Chennai, we can arrange additional nights at a hotel so you can explore the city on your own or we can arrange a guide for you. You can then meet up with the group for Day 1 of the itinerary.

Day 1
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 – Arrive in Chennai – Mahabalipuram
Meals – Dinner

Upon arrival in Chennai, you will be met by a driver and taken to our hotel in Mahabalipuram (about an hour away). If you arrive in time for dinner, it is included on this day at the hotel.

Group at Mahabalipuram IndiaOvernight in Mahabalipuram at Ideal Beach Resort or similar.

HIGHLIGHT! Mahabalipuram is a small seaside village that was once the main port of the region. Today, it is a wonderful place to relax in order to get ready for your South India adventure!

Day 2
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, we’ll enjoy a tour of the amazing temples in this region, including the Shore Temple, which overlooks the Bay of Bengal, as well as the Five Rathas, known as the temple chariots. These were built in the late 7th century and each created from just one large granite stone.

We’ll then proceed to the French Colonial town of Pondicherry (about two hours Pondicherry India Touraway). We’ll stop at Auroville and make a reservation for a meditation session for the following day.

After lunch in Pondicherry, we’ll take a walking tour of the French Quarter where some of the buildings have been designated as heritage sites and are breathtakingly beautiful. In addition to an engaging introduction to the French influence, this walk is also about the journey of Sri Aurobindo, the revolutionary freedom fighter from East India who introduced integral yoga to the world.

Dinner and overnight in Pondicherry at La Villa Shanti or similar.

HIGHLIGHT! Pondicherry is a former French colony and, as such, is a unique destination in India. It’s known as the French Riviera of the East and is filled with unique shops, markets and cafes, many of which are French-influenced.

Day 3
Thursday, February 28, 2019 – Pondicherry
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After an early breakfast, we’ll go to Auroville visit the Matrimandir, the globe-like

Aurobindo Ashram

structure located at the heart of Auroville. Here we’ll have a chance to meditate, relax and enjoy “silent concentration.”

After soaking up the peaceful vibes, we’ll tour Auroville to learn firsthand what this “City of Dawn” is all about. On the property is a community of approximately 2,500 people from around the world. Here they have farms, businesses, music stores and more, all while practicing peace! We’ll have lunch at one of the many unique restaurants within Auroville.

We’ll then head back to nearby Pondicherry and, if there’s time, you can wander and shop before we reconvene for dinner.

Dinner and overnight in Pondicherry at La Villa Shanti or similar.

HIGHLIGHT! Auroville was created in the mid-1960s and is considered the first and only internationally endorsed ongoing experiment in human unity transformation of consciousness. It was established by The Mother (with help from Sri Aurobindo) and is prepared to accommodate up to 50,000 people!

Day 4
Friday, March 1, 2019 – Pondicherry – Trichy – Chettinad
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Following breakfast, we’ll have a long drive to Chettinad (about six hours away) with stops for lunch and to visit a temple in Trichy.

Which temple we visit depends on whether any festivals are taking place on this day. Our guide will help determine whether we visit Rock Fort Temple or Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. Rock Fort is Trichy’s most famous landmark and an important pilgrimage site for Hindus while Sri Ranganathaswamy is a large and finely detailed 237-foot-tall temple.

Dinner and overnight at CGH Visalam or similar in Chettinad.

Day 5
Saturday, March 2
, 2019 – Chettinad
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, we’ll partake in a temple tour of Chettinad.

Chettinad Food India TourThe temples in this area are from the early Tamil dynasties and built by wealthy sponsors after the royal families lost their fortunes. Even today, much of Chettinad’s daily activities center around festivities at the temples, each one with its own unique deity. There are many famous temples here and we’ll rely on our guide to determine which are the best ones to visit when we’re in town based on any activities/festivals that might be taking place.

This afternoon, we’ll take part in a hands-on cooking class and then eat what we have prepared!

Dinner and overnight at CGH Visalam or similar in Chettinad.

HIGHLIGHT! Chettinad is well-known for its distinct cuisine, which relies on a variety of spices and dishes made with fresh ground masalas. YUM!

Day 6
Sunday, March 3, 2019 – Chettinad – Madurai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, we’ll drive onward to Madurai (about two hours away).Temple India Tour

Madurai is the third largest city in Tamil Nadu and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is most famous for its temples and is one of India’s most prominent Hindu pilgrimage centers.

Upon arrival, we’ll check in to our hotel and then have some free time in the afternoon to relax as the evening will be quite busy.

After an early dinner, we’ll visit Thirumalai Nayak Palace and Shree Meenakshi Temple. This temple is literally a city—one of the largest and oldest of its kind in India. Here, we’ll enjoy an evening of religious prayer and temple music.

Overnight in at Gateway Pasumalai by Taj or similar in Madurai.

HIGHLIGHT! Madurai is best known for the magnificent Meenakshi Temple, a 2,000 year-old structure found within an enormous complex and that is a major pilgrimage destination for Hindus.

Day 7
Monday, March 4, 2019 – Madurai – Munnar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Munnar Tea Plantations India TourAfter an early breakfast, we’ll drive onward to Munnar (about five hours away), which has some of the world’s highest tea growing estates. Along the way, we’ll see villages and rolling green plantations as we make our way up into tea country. It’s difficult to imagine so far south, but Munnar is approximately 5,000 feet in altitude! The views from the hilltops are stunning, particularly at sunset.

In the afternoon, we’ll have time peruse the town of Munnar and shop for  incense, food, spices, tea, carvings, jewelry, clothing and tapestries.

Dinner and overnight at Tea County Hotel or similar in Munnar.

HIGHLIGHT! Munnar is an idyllic hill station with its velvet lawns and exotic flora and fauna. Breathing in fresh, cool mountain air is a rare experience in India and you’ll have plenty of it here. 

Day 8
Tuesday, March 5, 2019 – Munnar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we’ll visit nearby Eravikulam National Park, located in the high ranges of Idukki District. The park covers nearly 40 square miles over high rolling plateaus.Tea plantations munnar india tour

The park is best known for its large population of the endangered Nilgiri Tahr—an ibex whose numbers are estimated at around 700—but it also has elephants, Nilgiri martens, otters, mongoose, dusky striped squirrels and more than 120 species of birds.

Dinner and overnight at Tea County Hotel or similar in Munnar.

Day 9
Wednesday, March 6, 2019 – Munnar – Alleppey
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, we’ll continue on to Alleppey (about five hours away). We’ll arrive in time for lunch on board our houseboat(s)!

In the afternoon, we’ll meander along Kerala’s network of rivers (commonly referred to as the backwaters) in our houseboats to experience life on the river.

Just before sunset, we’ll tie up for the night and have dinner on-board.

Overnight in the backwaters on board a houseboat.

HIGHLIGHT! These are no ordinary houseboats. You’ll have your own private room (unless you’re sharing) with air conditioning and a private bathroom. Food is prepared fresh on board by an excellent chef and you’ll enjoy the peace and quiet while listening to the water lapping against the boat.

Day 10
Thursday, March 7, 2019 – Alleppey – Kochi
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Following a lovely fresh breakfast on board the boat, we’ll drive to Kochi Kathakali Dance India Tour(about one and a half hours away). Upon arrival, we’ll check in to the hotel.

We’ll have lunch at the hotel and then the afternoon will be free for relaxing by the pool or shopping in town (easily within walking distance).

In the late afternoon, we’ll go to a traditional Kathakali dance show! We’ll first get to see the dancers and musicians applying their elaborate makeup and costumes before the actual performance.

Dinner and overnight in Kochi at Fort Kochi Hotel or similar.

HIGHLIGHT! Kathakali is a traditional dance form in Kerala. The impressive facial expressions, hand gestures and dance moves are all integral to the storytelling.

Day 11
Friday, March 8, 2019 – Kochi
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we’ll tour the town of Kochi!

Our day begins with a visit to the Jewish Synagogue. Built in 1568, it’s the oldest synagogue in India and was built by the prosperous Jewish trading community. The floors were paved in the mid-18th century using exquisite handpainted blue willow tiles from China. We’ll then continue on to the Dutch Palace, notable for some of the best mythological murals in India.

Next stop will be St Francis Church, the oldest European church in India, and then nearby Santa Cruz Basilica, considered to be one of the finest and most impressive churches in India.

South India Fishing NetsWe’ll have lunch in town and, in the afternoon, we’ll see the iconic Chinese fishing nets that are unique to Kochi (they aren’t even found in China!). Our tour ends with a visit to Fort Cochin—a small community in itself. Since it is a natural harbor and one of the most important trade centers in South India, this is one of the most important towns in the state.

Tonight for our final dinner, we’re in for a real treat! We’ll first walk through a local bazaar with our hosts for the evening to learn about traditional ingredients in Keralite cuisine. We’ll then visit their home for a traditional South Indian cuisine cooking demonstration and we’ll get to eat what was prepared!

Overnight in Kochi at Fort Kochi Hotel or similar.

HIGHLIGHT! Kochi is a vibrant city situated on the southwest coast of the Indian Peninsula in the breathtakingly scenic and prosperous state of Kerala.

Day 12
Saturday, March 9, 2019 – Kochi
Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, we’ll check out of the hotel and head to the airport for our flights home or to your next destination.

** Itinerary subject to change without notice.


* We’re sorry you missed this tour. Please contact us using this form if you’d like to be notified about future India tours or if you’d like to join us for any of our other tours.


India Main Tour Costs:
Single supplement: 

Interested in sharing the cost with another fabulous traveler? We do our best to pair up our tour participants so you can avoid the single supplement. However, priority is given to the first deposits received. If you’re interested in sharing, please send in your deposit as soon as possible in order to take advantage of this benefit. (Why a single supplement? See this FAQ page for an explanation.)

Booking and Payment Details

Price includes: 11 nights accommodation in lovely 4- to 5- star hotels, sightseeing entrance fees, 32 meals, English-speaking guides, tips for guides and drivers, and bottled water during transport and sightseeing.

Price does not include: International flights to Chennai or from Kochi, Indian visa, travel and evacuation insurance (highly recommended), some meals, souvenirs, personal purchases (such as books and snacks) and beverages other than water.

This trip is limited to 16 women and requires a deposit of $800 to secure your spot.

Minimum bookings required: 8 people (minimum reached!)

Final payment due no later than December 26, 2018.

It’s easy to register…

We love checks as it helps keep our costs down by avoiding credit card fees. If you’re able to pay the deposit or full amount by check or wire transfer, we’ll not only love you more, but we’ll send you a free copy of one of Beth’s books (your choice which one). ** U.S. residents receive a print copy, international residents receive a PDF.

Here’s our mailing address:

PO Box 16102
Seattle, WA 98116

Of course, you can pay by credit card as well. Simply click on the Register Now button below and you’ll be taken to PayPal where you add your debit or credit card information for the $800 deposit. Though this goes through PayPal, you do not need a PayPal account. Subsequent payments may be made through PayPal or by check (see above for our wonderful offer!). 🙂

Note: Cancellation fees apply. Please read our Booking Terms and Conditions before registering.

The fine print

South India 2019 Tour Registration Form (online)

South India 2019 Cultural Tour Itinerary (PDF)

We recommend Insure My Trip for travel and/or evacuation insurance.

For questions, contact Beth at:
beth (at) wandertours (dot) com

Trip Escort

About Beth Whitman
Beth has been traveling to India since the late 80s and has wandered extensively from north to south, east to west. Over the years, she’s returned both on her own and with groups.

Asking whether she prefers north or south is like asking about a favorite child. While the north has so many iconic sights to experience, she loves the south for its relaxed pace, beautiful landscape and gentle people.

She’s thrilled to be sharing “her” India with this group.

Beth is the author of the Wanderlust and Lipstick guides including The Essential Guide for Women Traveling Solo and For Women Traveling to India. She is also the publisher and founder of Wanderlust and Lipstick and WanderTours and hosts the Be Bold podcast, which can be found through your favorite podcast provider.

She is also the founder of the WanderWorld Foundation.

Related Links:
Read India FAQs and learn about what to expect in India
View South India Photo Gallery
See Beth’s recommended books on India