South India Real Foods Adventure

12 Days, from AU $2,799

Pulao

Santa Cruz Basilica

Madurai

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During this 12 day trip, you will see a lot of South India's culinary side. The adventure starts in Bangalore, known for its abundance of parks and green spaces. On to the next city, you will visit the centre for coffee and spice production. Enjoy a cup of the local brew in Koduga and see if you can notice the notes of toasted nuts, citrus and milk chocolate. Make sure you're ready for a masterclass in Chettinad, because this regional cuisine in revered throughout India and is well regarded for its liberal use of spice, replacing chilli with pepper to impart a subtle heat to dishes. The Real Food Adventure of South India delivers the perfect balance of flavours in an often overlooked foodie paradise.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Bangalore

Welcome to India. Home of Ayurveda, the traditional health system that takes a holistic approach to physical and mental health. Spirituality here is a prominent force in everyday life. Your trip starts in Bangalore (aka Bengaluru), the capital of Karnataka State. Bangalore is the centre of India's high-tech industry but is also known for its abundance of parks and green spaces.

Day 2: Kodagu

Start the day in Bangalore with a breakfast before a private vehicle will transport you to the verdant landscapes of the Western Ghats and the Kodagu province (COORG). While a long drive (approximately 7 hours), the reward will be apparent when you arrive at the hotel which will be your home for the next 2 nights. Set in the heart of the picturesque coffee plantation region Kodagu (Coorg) province, you will be surrounded by luscious plantations and greenery. 

This region is a major centre for coffee and spice production, this rural expanse is also home to the Kodava people, who are divided into 1000 clans. 

Day 3: Kodagu

Clasped deep within the rolling hills of the southernmost edge of Karnataka lies the Kodagu (Coorg) region. While the place boasts stunning thick greenery and an interesting warrior heritage, the next stage of the journey shares the hidden secret of Kodagu – the intensely fragrant and flavourful coffee. Drink a cup of the local brew and see if you can detect the notes of toasted nuts, citrus and milk chocolate. Spend the morning taking a walk through a plantation before indulging in a cooking class that focuses on signature Kodavan (Coorgi) dishes. Coorgis, a warrior tribe from southwest india, have made no effort to hide their love for pork dishes. Typically they cook using pork, jungle mangoes, jackfruit, kembh leaves and rice, cooking specialties such as nooputtu (string hoppers), otti (rice roti), pulao (mixed rice with or without veg) and kadumbuttu (rice-flour balls).

After sampling some tantalising flavours at the end of the class, spend the rest of the day relaxing around the estate or exploring the lush countryside.

Day 4: Kodagu – Mysore Drive & Mysore - Madurai Overnight train (1805/0725 Hr)

Depart from your guesthouse and drive to Mysore (3-4 hours). After arriving, you’ll be welcomed into a local home where the secrets to creating an authentic Indian biryani await. 

Biryani is typically prepared with spices, rice and meat, resulting in a fragrant dish that’s full of flavours. Depending on culture and region, different preparation techniques along with varying levels of spices and meats are used to prepare the dish. Hyberabadi biryani, for example, is one of the most popular styles of the meal and typically comes prepared with goat as opposed to Delhi biryani which can feature anything from expensive meats to pickles depending on the economic factors of a region. Considering the variety of biryanis out there, you might accidentally end up creating your own style during your stay!

(Optional) If there's time after lunch, take some time to explore the impressive gardens, arches and red domes of Mysore Palace or the Chamundi Devi Temple. In the evening, board an overnight train to Madurai.

Day 5: Madurai

Arrive in Madurai by mid-morning (0725 hr). Crammed full of bazaars, temples, small industries, pilgrims, cycle-rickshaws, beggars and street markets, Madurai showcases southern India at its colorful and lively best.

Madurai is Tamil Nadu's second largest town and ancient capital, with a recorded history that dates back to third-century BC. The city is recognized as the Centre of Dravidian culture, with its main attraction the famous Shree Meenaksh Temple in the heart of the old town. Take some time to explore this ancient, still active temple, which is a labyrinth of lamp-lit corridors that lead to shrines where some mysterious and interesting rituals are performed. Its many gopurams (temple towers) are covered with profusions of multi-colored images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures and the views from one of the temple towers are breathtaking. The cuisine of the state of Tamil Nadu is also highly regarded and it is believed that the English word curry is derived from the Tamil word 'kari'. Characterized by the use of rice, legumes and lentils, the food of Tamil Nadu also has a number of regional variants, of which Madurai is a great example. Discover it's signature flavours on a street food tour. Travel the city from east to west, past markets and temples, and get the inside scoop on the best street food the city has to offer. You’ll have the opportunity to sample delicacies such as peppercorn semolina, lentils and hand-churned ice cream made with sarsaparilla and seaweed. Finish up at a famous masala dosa spot which is so popular it only opens for 4 hours a day!

Day 6: Kandukathan (Chettinad)

Drive on to Kandukathan (approximately 2 hours), famous for its unique architecture and salt trade, arriving around midday. Settle in at your accommodation, an impressive mansion built in 1902 by prosperous merchants who used construction materials, decorative items and furnishings imported from East Asian countries and Europe. Relax, go for a swim in the swimming pool, then get ready for a real treat – a masterclass in Chettinad cuisine. Chettinad cuisine is distinct to the Chettiars, a successful trading community who built a reputation for ‘eating like kings’. This regional cuisine in revered throughout India and is well regarded for its liberal use of spice, replacing chilli with pepper to impart a subtle heat to dishes. Chettinad cuisine also incorporates seafood, chicken and lamb, although Chettiars do not eat beef and pork. In the hall of the mansion, learn to prepare famous Chettinad dishes including the signature chicken drumstick curry accompanied by mint chutnie, and follow it with a sumptuous feast in the open-air courtyard.

Day 7: Periyar

Rise early and drive past rubber and pineapple plantations and thick jungle to the spice plantation town of Thekkady (approximately 5 hours). Thekkady is the gateway to Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve, perched high in the ranges of the Western Ghats. Thekkady proudly celebrates the food traditions of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and the town and its neighbouring villages are highly regarded for their spice cultivation. Prepare for a fragrant tour of a spice plantation and discover some of the many varieties grown here, from ginger, cardamom and vanilla, to pepper, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.

Day 8: Periyar

This morning, venture into the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary for a guided nature walk. The sanctuary surrounds a picturesque lake, which was formed as result of a dam that was built in 1895. It ambles through the contours of the wooded hills, and is a permanent source of water for local wildlife. Wildlife encounters are never guaranteed, but if luck is on your side you may see some Indian elephants, deer, tigers or gaur – the world's largest species of buffalo. You are more likely to see Bonnet macaques who are often found near the entrance to the reserve, or the Malabar giant squirrel, a species native to India. In your free time, you can enjoy an optional ayurvedic massage or attend an exciting demonstration of Indian martial arts (kalaripayattu) at the Kadathanadan Kalari Centre. In the late afternoon some of the cooking will take place. In this class you will also learn the secret to preparing porotta, a layered flatbread typical to parts of Southern India. Feast on your efforts over dinner.

Day 9: Kerala Backwaters (Alleppey)

Before departing Thekkady, stop and learn about the important staple crop of tea with a local grower. Enjoy a hearty cup or two before embarking on your onward journey. Transfer by private vehicle to a hotel on the banks of the Kerala Backwaters (approximately 7 hours). Swaying palm trees, lush rice paddies, winding waterways, Ayurvedic massage and welcoming locals all await on this amazing Kerala Backwaters hotel. In the evening, join your hosts for a home-cooked dinner and pick up the trick to whipping up payasam (a delicious, jaggery and coconut dessert).

Day 10: Kochi

Wake early and help prepare a traditional Keralan breakfast staple, appam (a type of pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk).

After breakfast take a walk through the village and hop on a pole boat ride to explore the waterways (approximately 1 hour) and then take a private vehicle to Kochi (Approximately 2 hours).

Cochin, as it was formerly known, is spread over several islands and is a melting pot of Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and British influences. Take an orientation tour of the town on arrival, stopping by Fort Kochi. In your spare time a boat trip is the best way to tour the main sights, which include the oldest church in India and Vasco de Gama's final resting place. You can also explore the city by bike. The evening is free for you to explore.

Perhaps seek out the best coconut curry in town or witness a Kathakali dance performance, a classical, powerful, and dramatic dance style that combines symbolic storytelling with physical technique.

Day 11: Kochi

Today take in some of the city's most interesting sights. Visit the Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace), which was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese and later claimed by the Dutch in 1663. The Dutch improved upon the existing palace before presenting it to the rajas of Cochin. Interestingly Kochi is also home to a Jewish community that has roots going back as far as 1,000 AD, and you’ll see the Jewish synagogue in the city. Built in 1568, the Pardesi Synagogue is one of the oldest existing synagogues in India. Late in the afternoon visit a traditional 1940's Kerala home located in the heart of Fort Kochi, and enjoy a final cooking class. Among the dishes you’ll learn to prepare will be a Keralan classic – fish curry. Sit down and enjoy a final feast with your new friends.

Day 12: Kochi

Your Real Food Adventure of South India ends this morning. There are no activities on your final day and you are free to leave at any time. If you wish to extend your stay, perhaps consider heading further south to relax on the beaches at Varkala.

Travel Styles

All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.

Superior:from AU $2,799

All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!

Important Information

Accommodation:

Hotels each night of the itinerary (excluding your departure day). All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.

Inclusions:
  • All Meals during stay at BANGALORE, COORG, MYSORE; MADURAI, CHETTINAD, PERIYAR, ALLEPPEY & KOCHI.
  • all transfers, sightseeing tours, excursions and inter-city travel will be provided by an excellent quality air-conditioned vehicle Superior Car
  • All Road / Toll / Interstate Taxes, Parking Fee, Fuel Charges and Driver’s allowance etc.
  • Entry fees are included for all the Monuments & other sightseeing places as per the programme.
  • Services of Local English speaking guides for all sightseeing tours as per programme.
  • Train transport: Mysore – Bangalore in 2nd Air-condition sleeper class
  • Meet & assistance at the airports.
  • All prevailing taxes by the Central & State Government.

Exclusions

  • Flights to / from India
  • India visa application fees
  • Other meals not listed in the itinerary e.g. lunch & dinner
  • Expenses of personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, beverages
  • camera fee and video charges at monuments.
  • Tips or Gratuities to Guides, Drivers or at the Restaurants.
  • Porterage (for baggage handling) at the hotels & airports
  • Any other expenses not mentioned under inclusions.
  • Insurances of any kind relating to Trip (Delay or Cancellation), Baggage (Lost or Damaged) and Medical (Medication, Consultation or Hospitalization).
Notes:

Visas for India
All nationalities need to apply for an Indian visa in advance. Give yourself at least 4 weeks.

The Indian Government has advised that from December 2014, all visa applicants will need to be physically present at a visa application centre, by appointment, to submit their applications and biometric data, including fingerprints and facial imagery.

ALL Australian travellers to India will need to personally attend their nearest consulate to complete their visa formalities. There is NO visa on arrival in India for all nationalities. Indian visas CANNOT be obtained in Nepal.

Price Dependent:

Availability of accommodation and season.

Trip Information

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