A South Indian odyssey

Culture, cuisine and serene yoga stays
5 HOTEL STAYS
14 DAYS, 13 NIGHTS

from

£2,545 (US$3,445)

per person, including transfers

(based on two people sharing)

here for you 24/7

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Highlights

  • Stay in luxury and boutique Mr & Mrs Smith hotels throughout (we'll always try to get you the best room or suite)
  • Explore Pondicherry's colourful French mansions and lively Tamil Quarter
  • Seek enlightenment at the famed Sri Aurobindo ashram
  • Find your spiritual footing in Thanjavur's many temples
  • Take part in an Indian cookery class with a renowned domestic goddess
  • Perfect your downward dog at a stellar yoga retreat

Destinations

Tamil Nadu's treasures

Starting amid Pondicherry's Gallic grandeur and ending at a Bangalore yoga retreat, this trip showcases south India's cultural treasures and natural wonders. See the best of India's south side, and take your stay to the next level with this fully customisable trip; learn the stick dance, work a handloom and make samosas from scratch. If you’d like a little something extra, trips can be tailored to your tastes.
After touchdown in Chennai your driver will be waiting for you at arrivals. He'll take you to your first stop in an luxurious, air-conditioned minivan.

3 Hours

A little extra to start…

The drive from the airport is fairly long, so you'll take a brief pit stop at shoreside temple Mahabalipuram. This ancient sea port is laden with architectural wonders: lavish bas reliefs, heavily decorated caves, grand temples and the curious attraction, Buddha's Butterball, a rock balanced just so on a hill that seems to defy the laws of physics.

Days 1–3: Pondicherry

Pondicherry’s French quarter, where colonial big-wigs built still-standing grand houses, is the best base from which to explore. Formerly colonised by the French, this city's one of the few spots in India where you can enjoy a guilt-free steak, too.

Style

Pondicherry on top

Setting

Fabled French Quarter

Room

Superior Room

You’ll stay at boutique hotel Palais de Mahe, right in the centre of the city's most historic quarter, for three nights. The saffron-hued, French Colonial stay has a serene pool in its inner courtyard, antique furnishings in rooms and extremely helpful staff.

Smith Extra

Two dinners for the price of one in Les Alice

Day 1

On arrival in Pondicherry, you'll first notice the rainbow-hued houses. Venture out to wander round the galleries in the French quarter, or sniff out the spice stalls at Goubert Market and you'll discover that the city's culture is equally vibrant.

Day 2

Today you'll get the inside scoop on Pondicherry as a private guide shows you around.

Pondicherry city tour and cookery class

An in-the-know local will guide you past French-influenced, multi-hued buildings and the market stalls on the Tamil Quarter’s madcap streets. You'll seek inner peace at Sri Aurobindo Ashram, then visit Ganesh Temple, dedicated to pious pachyderms. In the evening, make samosas with goddess of modern-Indian cuisine, Shyamala Banik, then feast on dishes from all corners of India.
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Day 3

We've planned a visit to city of artisans, Auroville, and a cycle through the city streets.

Guided visit to Auroville and a bike tour of Pondicherry

Auroville is a unique, flower-shaped township created by yogi Sri Aurobindo to foster peace. If you don’t find that, resident artisans sell souvenirs including paintings, pots and jars of pickles from resident artisans. Later, hop on your bike for a tour through Pondicherry’s streets, stopping at sculpture-clad temples and decorous churches along the way.
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After a chauffeured drive along the coast and through India's jungle interior, you'll arrive at your next destination…

4 Hours

A little extra on the way…

Fancy a spot of temple-hopping? On the drive down, there's the option to add on a visit to the complexes at Chidambaram, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Darasuram and Kumbakonam. This little diversion adds two hours of drive-time, but a wealth of spiritual well-being.

Days 4–5: Thanjavur

Sacred Thanjavur has a high concentration of Unesco World Heritage monuments, including the Great Living Chola Temples.

Hotel

Svatma

Style

Committed to culture

Setting

Teeming with temples

Room

Millennium Deluxe

Historic stay Svatma, has a museum’s worth of old-school wonders within. This garden-surrounded stay houses galleries of chola bronzes and Carnatic musical instruments, a restaurant that bursts into colour when the sun hits its stained-glass windows, and truly unique activities: veda chanting and bronze-casting anyone?

Smith Extra

A copy of the sacred Hindu text the Bhagavad Gita (translated into English by Annie Besant) in a special gift-box

Day 4

On your first day in Thanjavur, pay deference at Brihadeeswarar Temple, a dramatic Dravidian structure erected in honour of Lord Shiva. To see a crowd of the bronze sculptures the city's famous for, head to the Raja Raja Chola Art Gallery within the regal confines of Thanjavur Palace.

Day 5

Today you'll get the full complement of Svatma's cultural experiences: a visit to a temple site, guided by a academic, an art and jewellery-making demo, and learning how to work a handloom and wrap a sari.

A historian-guided temple tour, traditional art lesson and jewellery-making and sari-wrapping experience

To start, a visit to a temple site, guided by a academic who’ll school you on restoration techniques, ancient architecture and iconography. Next up, an art demo back at the hotel. This is no ordinary paint-by-numbers – the local artists pimp their pieces with gold leaf and sparkling stones, so you could pick up a dazzling addition to your walls back home. You’ll also see how the lavish local jewellery is made. Finally, you’ll get to grips with a handloom, to learn how to weave like a pro (well almost). Back at the hotel, you'll be schooled in how to wrap a sari, too.
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In the morning your private driver will arrive for you and your luggage. Charge up your devices and settle in for the four-hour chauffeured drive south.

4 Hours

Days 6–8: Karaikudi

Karaikudi is a municipality in Tamil Nadu, which is home to magnificent residences, all dressed to the nines.

Hotel

Visalam

Style

Racked with spice

Setting

Charming Chettinad

Room

Chettinad Room

You’ll stay for two nights at historic boutique hotel Visalam, which has been lovingly restored to its former marble-clad, art deco-influenced glory by the descendants of its former, merchant prince owners.

Smith Extra

Two-for-one dinner in the main restaurant

Day 6

Today a private guide will escort you on a tour of the local villages.

Private tour of Karaikudi

Led by a local insider, you'll tour Athangudi, where villagers are famed for crafting boldly coloured, geometric tiles. Here, you'll also see the grand bungalows that once belonged to the Chettiars, a wealthy community of bankers and gem merchants.
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Day 7

Chettinadu is a region hailed for its handicraft and 18th-century mansions. Today a private guide will show you the region’s best bits.

A cultural tour of Chettinad

A private guide will show you the region’s best bits, starting with Chettinad Palace and Museum, an ornate building filled with heirlooms. Scavenge a treasured antique of your own in Chettinad’s market, then we'll take you for a special lunch of curries and chutneys served on a banana leaf. Later, you can learn how to make poomalai flower garlands, wrap a sari, and dance the kolattam, a rhythmic dance using sticks.
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You driver will take you on a five-hour odyssey inland to the west and India's sprawling national parks. There are scenic countryside views along the way, but top up the charge on your time-passing devices for lengthier stretches.

5 Hours

Days 8–9: Rajakkad

Your next stop sits high, very high, in fact – 1,000 metres above sea level – in the Palani Hills of the Western Ghats: the petite village of Rajakkad. This hilly spot is densely covered in palms and frangipani trees.

Hotel

Rajakkad

Style

Red hot coffee peppers

Setting

High in the Palani Hills

Room

Standard Room

Homey hotel Rajakkad is set amid frangipani-scented gardens. This serene stay is a former retreat for Travancore royalty, its regal heritage is evident in a marble yoga deck and lavish grounds. Guests can hike, laze in hammocks and sip locally-harvested coffee to their heart’s content.

Smith Extra

A packet of Rajakkad’s home-grown pepper for each guest

Day 8

Drop your bags and take a gentle wander through the surrounding lemon trees and coffee plantations.

Day 9

Slip on khakis and sturdy shoes for a guided ramble through Rajakkad's farmland, plantations and forests.

Hiking in Rajakkad

Your personal guide is deft at spying monkeys in the treetops and will stop along the way to hack open a jackfruit or skin bark from a cinnamon tree for guests to taste. Post-hike, lunch amid gloriously green gardens.
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After your driver has delivered you to Madurai (a three-hour journey) you'll board a a 90-minute domestic flight to Bangalore.

4.5 Hours

A little extra before Bangalore…

Take a quick pit-stop at seat of Shiva worship Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, a sprawling complex with teetering gopurams (carved towers).

Days 10–14: Bangalore

Bangalore’s leafy surrounds make it a mellow spot to stay in; beyond the city limits, it's meditative and magical – the ideal spot for a little spiritual enlightenment.

Hotel

Shreyas Retreat

Style

Om queen

Setting

Bucolic Bangalore countryside

Room

Poolside Cottage

Secluded stay Shreyas Yoga Retreat is laser-focused on wellness: guests spend most of their time meditating or detoxing; meat and alcohol are banned in favour of yoga sessions and Ayurvedic treatments. The restorative surroundings certainly speed up your inner well-being, with a large pool to do laps in, trees hung with lanterns and open yoga pavilions.

Smith Extra

A cooking lesson with the chef and a visit to the local school to share your new-found skills, or, a tour of the local temples

Days 10–14

Once you arrive at your serene stay, you’ll decide how you'd like to pass the time: meditate in the frangipani-scented grounds, swim in the cool waters of the courtyard pool, or wake at dawn to bend and stretch to the sunrise. All of the healthful meals are included, and the yoga instructors are world-class, so let them guide your limbs. Split your time between body toning and pampering in Anaha spa. Hit the huge, modernist wellness centre for massages, hydrotherapy sessions, stints in the steam rooms or mani-pedis.
With a newfound sense of wellbeing, a fully-detoxed form and some new bendy moves, you’ll bid farewell to Shreyas Retreat. Your private driver will collect you and your bags to take you to Bangalore Airport to fly onwards to your next destination.

1 Hour

When to go

The heat in the south is sultrier than the desert north; lush greenery and a coastal climate mean the monsoon season lasts a little longer, from May to October. From late November to early March, the south sees sunshine without the scorching temperatures.

Getting there

You’ll need to book flights to Chennai International, which can easily be reached from all over the world. The Smith24 Team can book these for you on request. There are direct flights from London, and flights from the US arrive via Mumbai or Delhi. Flights from Asia and Australasia stop over in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. Inland travel is by train (in a first-class carriage, of course) and air-conditioned car with an English-speaking chauffeur.

Packing tips

Bring your yoga gear (getting bendy is a big deal here), a temple cover-up, and a cache of electronics, books and portable speakers to make the long transfers whizz by.

MORE THAN A TRAVEL AGENT

We’re the travel club for hotel lovers – and we go above and beyond to tailor-make trips worth writing home about. From booking through to check-out and beyond, we'll ensure you have a trip to remember

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FAQs

  • How can I trust Mr & Mrs Smith's hotel choices?

    A hotel or experience has to be genuinely special to make it into a Mr & Mrs Smith itinerary. The Smith team has to have ensured that any inclusions meet our high standards before they'd consider adding them to our exclusive packages.

  • How do I book?

    Either call us on 0330 100 3180 or get in touch using one of the inquiry forms attached to the itineraries.

  • Do I need to pay a deposit, and when is the full amount due?

    Costs vary depending on your chosen itinerary; however, all require a 50 per cent deposit on booking to secure your place. The balance must be paid 30 days before your planned arrival date.

  • What's the cancellation policy for itineraries?

    Please refer to our terms and conditions page for our full cancellation policy.

  • What if I want to add on a few extra nights or arrange a special meal? Can I add on a waterskiing lesson? I've always fancied that… And can we stay in the honeymoon suite instead?

    We may have to get back to you about the waterskiing, but no problem; we can create a bespoke itinerary for you, and our travel specialists can recommend some of the area's more unique activities.

Terms and conditions

What's included
The package includes all accommodation in Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotels; and all applicable taxes.
What's not included
International flights and car hire, visa fees, airport taxes or insurance. Any items which are not mentioned as included in the itinerary. Any increase in government taxes. For the Timeless Tuscany package, car hire is included, but guests will be responsible for drop-off fees if delivered to a different end point than Florence Airport, refuelling charges, delivery and collection, extra insurance, additional driver costs, admin fees, tax and parking.
General conditions
The price for this itinerary applies for each guest. All prices are in GBP and are subject to change, depending on what time of the year you travel. All prices are subject to any revisions to taxes or tariffs.

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Price information

Best-price guarantee

Found your stay for less elsewhere? We'll match the price and give you a £50 voucher.

Free Smith Extras on arrival

From a bottle of champagne, to a spa treatment or a cookery class, you’ll get a little extra thank you with every booking

Here for you 24/7

Personal service from Smith24, our in-house travel specialists, 1 800 464 2040

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