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January 22 - February 2, 2024

Cultural, spiritual, and culinary immersion in the hidden enclaves of South India

15 Days immersion in temples, spices, tea plantations, and Ayurveda

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware   - Martin Buber

Over the mountainous Ghats and down fabled Malabar and Coromandel coasts lie the less-frequented gems of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Far less visited than the north, South India has unique architecture, history, topography, textiles, and some of the subcontinent's tastiest cuisine.

Uninterrupted millennia-long temple tradition has given rise to a rich culture. Geographically, expect coconut tree-lined coasts and verdant plains carpeted with tea, paddy, and backwaters. Interspersed with ornate temples, thriving former Dutch and French colonial outposts, microcosms of hereditary communities, and IT hubs of the 21st century.  


This is India at arguably its most beautiful. South India is a destination you’ll savour long after your return home.


  • Insider visits with architectural insight to 6th - 12th C temples and monuments of Mahabalipuram, Chidambaran, and Meenakshi

  • Cuisine, lifestyle, and architecture of fascinating Chettinad 

  • Tea plantations of serene Munnar

  • Backwaters cruising in God's own Country, beautiful Kerala

  • French élan of heritage Pondicherry

  • Dutch overtones at Fort Kochi (Cochin)

  • Delightful accommodation on tea plantations and select boutique hotels throughout

  • Packed with inclusions: culinary lessons, dance workshops, artisanal demos, and meals with local families

 Minimum group size: 08 pax/Maximum 14 pax 

Optional Post Tour: 3 nights Yoga and Ayurveda Retreat, Marari Beach, Kerala. Please enquire. 

This trip was the beginning of my love affair with India -- Dalia Margalit Faircloth, Vancouver 

For your trip to South India, there is only ONE person to contact. Her name is Shila Desai. You’re in excellent hands – Shelley Kirsch,Toronto

Trip reports : click here 

Tropical Sunset

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Chettinad mansions from an insider  

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Hindu Statue
Ancient living temples 

Insight into the architectural chronology of Tamil Nadu's most revered temples, from earliest rock-cut sites at Mahabalipuram to bustling Madurai and Chidambaram where daily acts of devotion have continued uninterrupted for hundreds of years. 


South India's best kept secret. A genteel microcosm of wealthy hereditary bankers, Chettinad will astonish you with its exquisite heritage mansions, rich culinary tradition, antique stores, and artisanal tile-making. Hosted by a Chettiar friend of Shila's who has an endless cache of fascinating insider stories.  

India with a soupçon

Seaside Pondicherry (Puducherry)'s French heritage combined with Auroville's experiential spiritual vibe. Shop for exceptional arts and crafts, enjoy outstanding cuisine, take in guided walks, and explore colour-drenched streets. 

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Breath of fresh

Time travel to a bygone age. Enter a tea-planter's bastion. Learn how the best tea is grown, picked, graded, and processed before it lands in your cuppa. A chance to pick tea alongside tea-pickers and walk in undulating carpets of green. 

Classical South Indian dance 

Workshop at the venerable Kalakshetra school of classical Bharat Natyam and performance of Kathakali dancers of Kerala. Classical dance is inextricably linked to the deeply devotional temple culture of South India 

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Culinary delights 

From crisp dosas to peppery curries, South Indian food delights the palate and is sure to launch a lifelong love affair. Think rice-based, steamed, spiced, and coconut flavoured. Meals with families and culinary workshops will have you recreating the magic in your own kitchen in no time

Kalamkari, hand painted textiles
Handmade textiles 

Heritage weaves, temple saris of Kanchipuram, painted textiles of Kalamkari, and exquisite embroidery of French Catholic-run women's co-operative for the textile lovers on this tour -- and for the culturally curious too.

Backwaters cruising 

Kerala is known as God's Own Country  for a reason. Capture its essence while drifting through a watery world of rice paddy canals on a magnificent kettuvallam or houseboat. Be lulled to sleep and wake up to a gentle peace. You won't want to leave. 

Yoga and ayurveda 

Optional post tour add on: Exhale and destress at a beautiful Marari Beach yoga and Ayurveda retreat. Kerala is the home of Ayurveda. Medical grade treatments available. Come back completely refreshed and rejuvenated. 


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