Splendours of South India
A small group tour led by Zara Fleming
Monday 17 February - Sunday 01 March 2020
You will be accompanied on this journey by Zara Fleming, a lecturer, independent art consultant and experienced tour leader. Zara specialises in the art and culture of the Buddhist Himalayas and has been visiting India,Nepal and Bhutan for over 40 years.
On this expert-led tour with Zara Fleming, you will see first- hand rich cultural heritage and learn more about the tradition’s arts and crafts of Southern India and Tibetan refugee camps at Bylakupee which has the largest Tibetan population outside of Dharamshala. At Tashilhunpo festival monks dressed in colourful costumes and masks will perform special ritual dances known as cham; these elaborate performances go on throughout the day and are intended to drive out negativity before the year ahead..
London • Bangalore • Hassan • Belur & Halebid • Kushalnagar • Tashilhunpo • Kabini • Coonoor • Ooty • Mysore • Bangalore • London
(Meals: B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner)
Monday 17 February
Fly from London Heathrow(T5) on British Airways flight to Bangalore.
Depart Heathrow British Airways BA 119 at 13:45.
Tuesday 18 February
Arrive Bangalore at 05:00
Meeting, assistance on arrival and transfer to hotel by a private chauffeur-driven air-conditioned vehicle. Check-in at Gold Finch Retreat for 01 night (Superior Room).
(Bangalore, the capital of the Karnataka, is fifth largest city in India. The exact origin of Bangalore is not known, but it is believed that the city was founded somewhere in the 16th century. Bangalore lies at a distance of approximately 998 km from Mumbai and 562 km from Hyderabad. Situated at an altitude of approximately 920 m above sea level, it is also known as the 'Garden City of India'. The beautiful parks and gardens and tree-lined streets of Bengalooru make travel to the city a pure pleasure. The year 2000 saw the introduction of Information Technology in Bangalore and since then, the city has not looked back. It has reaped the most out of the IT Boom in India and boasts of the highest concentration of IT companies in the country. Today, Bangalore is known as 'The IT Capital of India' and "The Silicon Valley of India'. The Bangalore city is also very famous for its amazing nightlife. Some of the most happening discotheques and pubs of the country are in Bangalore, making it one of the most happening cities in India).
Lunch at Gold Finch retreat. Rest and Relax at your hotel for the rest of the day.
Wednesday 19 February
Morning drive to Hassan (approximately 03 & ½ driving time) offering the much-needed seclusion in a peaceful and beautiful landscape.
On arrival in Hassan, check in at Hoyshala Village Resort for 2 nights (Superior Cottage).
Thursday 20 February
Day Visit to Belur & Halebid
Enjoy a full day excursion to Belur & Halebid. Visit some of the oldest temples, constructed during the Hoysala dynasty from the 10th to the 14th century. Admire the exquisite sculptures of Hindu deities, explore the scenes of Hindu mythology adorning the walls and gain an understanding of the faith which has inspired these masterpieces.
(The 12th C. Hoysala Temples are masterpieces; the ornate filigree stonework is unsurpassed. The marvellous star shaped Shiva Temple, in Halebid is breathtaking – fantastic frieze cover the entire exterior with exquisitely carved elephants, horses and mythical beasts. The Chennakesava Temple at Belur built 900 years ago, is yet another prime example of the Hoysala art).
Return to Hoysala Village resort for the night.
Friday 21 February
Morning drive through the most sought after and popular hill station of Karnataka, lying serenely amidst high mountains that stays misty throughout the year – Coorg (approximately 02 hrs driving time), en-route visit the lesser known Tibetan town in India – Bylakuppe comprising of two Tibetan refugee settlements that were setup in 1961 and 1969 respectively, and has now grown into a full-fledged town housing the largest Tibetan population outside of Dharamshala in India.
On arrival in Kushalnagar few kilometres off Coorg, check in at your Hotel Purple Palms resort & Spa for 2 nights (Panorama Luxury Room).
Afternoon free to relax or to explore one of the nearby monasteries.
(Nestled amid evergreen hills that line the southernmost edge of Karnataka is the luscious Kodagu (Coorg) region, gifted with emerald landscapes and hectares of plantations. In the vicinity of Coorg, a beautiful hill station in the Western Ghats with pleasant climate at another end is what Kushalnagar is. The town is studded with greenery, wildlife, wonderful architecture, waterfalls, monasteries and this is why people want a good getaway in natural surroundings here for a perfect solace. The uneven terrain and cool climate make it a fantastic area for trekking, birdwatching or lazily ambling down little-trodden paths winding around carpeted hills. All in all, Kodagu is rejuvenation guaranteed).
Saturday 22 February
Gustor Festival Tashilhunpo
A day visit to the Tashilhunpo Monastery, established by H.H. the Dalai Lama in 1972. Here we witness part of the Gutor Festival which is held prior to Tibetan New Year (Losar) which this year falls on the 25th February. Monks dressed in colourful costumes and masks will perform special ritual dances known as cham; these elaborate performances go on throughout the day and are intended to drive out negativity before the year ahead.
Return to Hotel Purple Palms for the night.
Sunday 23 February
A day’s drive to Kabini (approximately 04 hrs driving time). Check in at Kaav Safari Lodge for 2 nights (Superior Room). Situated on the edge of the Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary, the lodge is an ideal place to experience the flora and fauna of this remarkable area. The remainder of the day is free to rest and relax.
Monday 24 February
At the break of dawn, a beautiful blue calm, envelopes the horizon, reflecting over the backwaters of Kabini. Today you can choose between a jungle 4×4 safari or a boat ride on the Kabini River backwaters. It’s a tough choice really; given both are such invigorating experiences. The good part – you can enjoy whichever one you do not opt for, in the afternoon of the same day. Most of the naturalists – experienced rangers and jungle guides – are locals who have grown up in vicinity of the Nagarhole jungle and understand the topography like no other.
Tuesday 25 February
Morning drive to a small yet enchanting hill town of Tamil Nadu - Coonoor (approximately 05 hrs driving time). Check-in at Hotel Taj Gateway Coonoor for 2 nights (Standard Room).
(Coonoor is one of the three Nilgiri hill stations – Ootacamund, Kotagiri and Coonoor – that sit high above the southern plains. Smaller and quieter than Ooty (20km northwest),it is situated at an altitude of 1930 metres. It is a delightful location to explore, visit the impressive Catherine Falls and enjoy beautiful views of the Nilgiri Hills. Coonoor is renowned for its verdant scenery, manicured hills and colonial influence.)
Wednesday 26 February
Day return trip to Ooty
After breakfast transfer to the railway station, to board the charming toy train to the delightful hill station of Ooty.
Depart Coonoor MTP UAM PASSR (First Class Carriage) at 10:40
Arrive Ooty at 12:00
(Ooty is often referred to as Snooty Ooty because of its Raj era connection. It was constructed by British colonialists in the 19th century, as a retreat from the stifling heat of the plains. Known as the “Queen of Hill stations”, it is a peaceful old-fashioned town situated in the Nilgiri Hills at an altitude of 2000 metres.)
After lunch at Taj Savoy there is a chance to explore the attractions of Ooty, which include the outstanding Botanical Gardens, the Tribal Research Centre Museum (as this area is home to many hill tribes), the Nilgiri Library, the Lawrence School or step back in time and visit the Ootacamund Club founded in 1841 and the place where snooker was invented.
Drive back to your hotel (approximately 01 hr driving time) at Coonoor for the night.
Thursday 27 February
Morning begin your drive to Mysore (approximately 04 hrs driving time). On arrival in Mysore, check-in at the Metropole Hotel for 2 nights (Royal Wing Room).
(Mysore is a pleasant town with tree-lined streets and well-maintained historic buildings. Dubbed as the ‘city of palaces’, few Indian cities can rival the stately charm and easy-going atmosphere of Mysore.)
Friday 28 February
Morning sightseeing tour includes a visit to the remarkable Maharajah’s Palace, designed in Indo-Saracenic style and set within walled gardens. The interior is renowned for its lavish decoration and outstanding craftsmanship. Other places of interest are the hilltop Sri Chamundeswari Temple, the striking monolithic Nandi Bull and the bustling Devraja market.
In the afternoon, visit the superb Keshava Temple at Somnathpur. The Hoysalas created many temples in Southern India between the 10th and 14th centuries, but this is one of the most beautiful and best preserved. The architectural style is notable for its intricate decoration and elaborate sculptural detail.
(Somnathpur is a small village on the banks of the river Cauvery that was founded by the commander of the Hoyasala army, Somnath. The village is famous for its splendid and grand Keshava temple that has been built in the Hoyasala style. The temple is famous for its elaborate and intricate sculpturing. The temple is enclosed in a walled courtyard that has a gate and a porch. The temple is built on an elevated star shaped platform).
Saturday 29 February
To Bangalore en-route visit Srirangapatnam
Leave for Bangalore in the morning enroute visiting Srirangapatnam (approximately 3 & ½ hrs driving time).
(Srirangapatnam was the former capital of Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore during the second half of the 18th century. Visit a number of places related to this extraordinary man, who was obsessed by tigers and tiger stripes adorned all his possessions. After the Battle of Srirangapatnam and the death of Tipu in 1799, the British secured control of the whole of Southern India.)
On arrival in Bangalore, check-in at Gold Finch Retreat Hotel for overnight stay (Superior Room).
Sunday 01 March
Morning transfer to Bangalore airport (approximately 01 hr driving time) to board your British Airways flight to London.
Depart Bangalore: British Airways BA 118 at 07:00
Arrive London at 12:40
- How to Book this Tour
- International flights on British Airways Airlines (Economy Class).
- Accommodation as per the itinerary in sharing double/ twin or single room (Check-in is 1400 hrs and checkout 12 noon. Early check-in and late checkout are subject to availability).
- Meal Plan: Daily breakfast and dinner at hotels. Lunch in Bangalore and in Ooty.
- Services of our English-speaking representative for all arrival and departure transfers to assist you at the airports & railway stations.
- All transfers and sightseeing by a chauffeur driven private minivan.
- Services of English-speaking guide during sightseeing as specified in the itinerary.
- Entrance fees to all monuments during sightseeing as specified in your itinerary.
- Complimentary mineral water whilst driving.
- 100% protection of payment by our ATOL and ABTA Licenses
Cost does not include:
Visa Fee: E- Tourist visa facility is now available for India for citizens of most countries of the World. We will send you a step by step guide how to apply for E-tourist visa.
Travel Insurance: Foreign office advises all overseas travellers to have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place before departure. You may wish to take a quotation for your insurance from the link below:
Any expenses of a personal nature like laundry, telephone calls and beverages.
Camera fees at monuments and other places of interest.
- Tips and gratuities
- To book this tour , please compete the booking form, sign and e-mail it to us. A non-refundable deposit of £500.00 per person is needed at the time of booking. Balance payments will be due 8 weeks before departure. You can make the deposit payment by debit card or electronic transfers to our bank. Our Bank details are on the booking form. Bookings are confirmed on first come first served basis. When the tour is full we will take about 5 additional names on the waiting list to replace their booking with any cancellations etc.
- If you wish to join the tour and fly from any country other than United Kingdom please contact us for land only arrangements.