Beaches & Temples
Our southern sojourn starts on the wide sweeping beaches at Mamallapuram on the Coromandel Coast where we can to relax and admire the magnificent shore temples or visit the former French colony of Pondicherry. We head south by train to Madurai to mix with the swirling crowds who pack into the Hall of 1000 Pillars within the colourful Meenakshi Temple, a place of unceasing festive pandemonium!
A very scenic drive takes us across the backbone of the green-cloaked Cardamom Hills to Kerala, where we explore the tranquil palm-fringed Backwaters on a cruise from Quilon to Allepey. The waterways are alive with picturesque fishing boats, huge butterfly fishing nets and local ferries. To gain a deeper insight into the lives of the Keralans we stay with local families - a chance perhaps to try spicy coconut curry! In Kochi we stay in the old Portuguese fort - there's time to discover its diverse history from Jewish synagogue to Syrian Christian churches, take a sunset boat cruise or even see Kathakali dancers interpret the demons and heroes of the great Indian epics.
Nilgiri Hills to Goa
Taking the train to Metupalayam, we then climb by narrow gauge steam toy train through the Nilgiri Hills to refreshing climate of Ooty, a hill station at 2268m. In Mysore we can visit the Maharaja's Palace and climb Chamundi hill to see the giant Nandi Bull. Karnartaka's Hampi is a laid-back kind of place; we've two days to explore the ancient Vijayanagar capital and enjoy the giant boulder-strewn countryside. Descending across the Western Ghats the long white sandy beaches of Goa are the perfect place to end our adventure.
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