Best of South India tour
£2257To£2555 excluding flights
Description of Best of South India tour
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) vacation so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.
PlanetThis tour offers a unique mix of responsible properties and small-scale homestays to support the local environment and community as well as its culture and traditions.
A special place on this tour is the Gitanjali Homestay for example. The Achaiahs are a Kodava family who have been running Gitanjali as a home stay for the past nine years. The Kodavas are a minority community from Kodagu district; a martial race with a fascinating culture based on ancestor worship. One-on-one interaction allows guests to take a peek in their local lives. Gitanjali takes care of the surrounding space and natural beauty. Solar water heating, rain water harvesting and water conservation, segregation and composting of waste as well as the maintenance of an organic garden are their small endeavours towards sustainable eco-tourism. In addition, they have joined hands with neighbours in cleaning the adjoining areas of plastics and garbage.
We also bring you to the Kurumba Village. Named after the Kurumbas, a forgotten tribe, the resort is a tribute to the ancient clan that co-existed happily with nature in this hot spot of great bio-diversity. The resort, wrapped in a haze of green, sprawls earthy and natural, meandering pathways lead you to your tribal-style cottages and suites - all crafted with natural materials, with creature comforts in place. The resort has been built artfully in a 10-acre former spice plantation, sculpted into a hill, without felling a single tree. The resort is built to emerge in an organic way from the earth much like the dwellings of the eco-friendly kurumbas. In the interiors too they have used local fabrics and tribal motifs to try and give guests the best and most authentic experience possible. They strive to leave a light footprint – they minimize the use of plastic, or the over-use of detergents, have good waste management practises, enhance the quality of soil, water and air and purchase everything locally. They have a sewage treatment plant, shampoo bottles are all reused, noise levels and vehicle movements are minimised, they have planted more than 3,000 native species of trees within the resort including fruits and plants that are a natural habitat for birds and amphibians, and the use of lights is optimized to minimize disturbance to nocturnal wildlife.
Further, you will support the CGH Earth resort Visalam with your stay. It is a heritage mansion of the noble land of Chettinad, restored only with materials that were faithful to the originals, woodwork and original art deco grilles. The walls and plastering at Visalam are unique to the region, made from an exotic recipe of egg shells, lime, palm jaggery and sea shells, ground together by hand. The final polishing is done with egg white, reflecting an attitude to craftsmanship now rare in the world. Visalam is dedicated to ecological living, having a solar water heating system, a rainwater harvesting system, a sewage treatment plant to recycle waste water for gardens and even a pool that uses non-chlorinated, oxygenated water treated through a natural eco-friendly method.
You will also stay at the Heritage Madurai. While the emphasis is on building an environment-friendly ‘green’ Resort, the Heritage Madurai ensures that the property’s historical value was carefully preserved. The old colonial bungalows have been refurbished maintaining the traditional South Indian flavor, only found in Madurai.
In general, we work with local partners who are committed to best practices in terms of environment protection and local community benefits. Our excursions maintain small-group sizes to limit the negative environmental impact in accordance to the carrying capacity of the visited site.
On the tours, we strongly request each guest help in protecting the nature by being responsible during their journey. In our UK office we concentrate on providing information online via our website and electronically rather then producing a glossy brochure, hence reducing the use of paper and inks.
We include sustainable ways of transport whenever possible, via city walking tours such as your morning walking tour in Mysore, plenty of nature walks and treks in Coonoor, a cycle rickshaw ride in Pondicherry and your Toy Train ride.
Culture & Building
This is a historically rich tour that will help preserve plenty of cultural and local heritage. Part of your entrance fees go to the maintenance of important UNESCO world heritage sites and important cultural and historic sites, such as the Mahabalipuram Temples. The group of monuments at Mahabalipuram is a collection of 7th- and 8th-century CE religious monuments and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site has 400 ancient monuments and Hindu temples, including one of the largest open-air rock reliefs in the world: the Descent of the Ganges or Arjuna's Penance.
Also the Shore Temple is part of the UNESCO group of the Mahabalipuram temples. It is so named because it overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal and it is a structural temple, built with blocks of granite, dating from the 8th century AD. It is one of the oldest structural (versus rock-cut) stone temples of South India.
Another important building you will visit is the 11the century Brihadishvara Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva in Tanjore. It is one of the largest South Indian temples and an exemplary example of a fully realized Dravidian architecture. The temple is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Great Living Chola Temples", along with the Chola dynasty era Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple and Airavatesvara temple.
With your visit you will also help preserve the Saraswathi Mahal Library, one of the oldest libraries in Asia. It has on display a rare collection of Palm leaf manuscripts and paper written in Tamil and Sanskrit and a few other languages indigenous to India. The collection comprises well over 49,000 volumes, though only a tiny fraction of these are on display.
Also the toy train to Coonoor is part of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, an extension to the World Heritage Site of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
PeopleWe work with local partners who genuinely commit to encourage and involve the local community in the best way, requesting potential friends from the local area first, like local home stays, guides and restaurants.
We make sure our staff has fair working conditions. As per need, colleagues attend trainings conducted by different institutions, for example programmes towards skill development for teams. Employees are also offered family trips to enhance product knowledge on a regular basis.
The CGH Earth resorts we choose for you also endeavour to employ people from local community, be it the naturalist who guides you through the wilderness or the therapist who rejuvenates your mind and body. CGH Earth resorts have been instituting community based programmes that help rehabilitate poachers and smugglers. Local tribes were taught organic farming techniques, which helped them to prosper and preserve their way of life. CGH Earth have adopted the local culture and way of life as a form of respect for the local heritage and traditional modes of living. They set up market mechanisms such us purchasing produce from the local community only.
Local culture & traditions
At Visalam you will have the opportunity to join the local traditions practised by the local staff – be it for ‘kolam’ or ‘rangoli’ in the morning, a traditional art form of sprinkling rice powder and colour onto the floor, creating a kaleidoscope of geometric patterns, or making flower garlands, joining into the traditional Tamil board game "Pallanguli" or grab a pair of sticks to join for the 'Kolattam’ stick dance!
We will also bring you to the Cotton Trail programme workshop in Pollachi, where you can learn from a unique social enterprise and one of India's first ethical fashion brands to produce ehtical and sustainable cotton.
If you do want to shop other souvenirs, then we will take you to local collectives where locals of that very region craft there products and help keep the money earned in that very community. Our souvenirs to our guest are always locally produced, hand-made with local products. We take you for example to the local flower markets in Mysore.
In general, we welcome our guests during their first arrival with a garland at the airport, and we also encourage our hotel friends to welcome you with arti, tikka, garlands and a welcome drink. Our drivers greet guests every morning and our guides will always show their respect. We try to create a home away from home atmosphere.