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Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

South India’s Temples



9 Days

Prices Start from

£2,950pp (ex. flights)

Suitable for

Couples Solo Traveller

This holiday idea offers you the most comprehensive, contrasting and experience-led journey through Southern India’s temple state of Tamil Nadu.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Vintage Tricycle Rickshaw, Pondicherry, India 1

Explore Pondicherry

Experience the bohemian-chic of old town Pondicherry, a former French colony.

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, India 2

Marvel at Temples

Visit temple towns, all with their own distinct style and prominence.

Chettinad Mansion, Chettinad, Tamil Nadu, India 3

Discover Chettinad

An age-old trading region, full of opulent mansions.

South Indian Sculpture, India 4

Visit Madurai

Watch villagers turn clay into dolls and deities ready for temples and festivals.

Why we like it

This holiday idea has been created for those wishing to journey through spectacular Tamil temple towns, for those intrigued by the surprisingly different food and culture of the region of Chettinad and for those inspired by French-influenced Pondicherry. This holiday idea ends in Madurai, leaving it wide open to being extended into the neighbouring region of Kerala. Simply, continue the drive over the Western Ghats mountains and to reach Cochin, the famous backwaters and the Arabian Sea.

Included as Standard

Airport VIP meet and greet, a bottle of wine on arrival, a spa treatment, a dedicated member of our team available 24/7, an upgrade at one of your chosen hotels and cars with Wi-Fi connectivity.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1


  • Day 2

    Chennai - Pondicherry

  • Day 3


  • Day 4

    Pondicherry - Tanjore

  • Day 5


  • Day 6

    Tanjore - Chettinad

  • Day 7


  • Day 8

    Chettinad - Madurai

  • Day 9

    Madurai - Chennai

Day 1


Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

With its historic landmarks and buildings, long sandy beaches, cultural and art centres and … Chennai had been the most visited city in India by foreign tourists.

Day 2

Chennai - Pondicherry

Day 3


Vintage Tricycle Rickshaw, Pondicherry, India

Experience the bohemian-chic of old town Pondicherry, a former French colony.

Day 4

Pondicherry - Tanjore

Day 5


Day 6

Tanjore - Chettinad

Day 7


Chettinad Mansion, Chettinad, Tamil Nadu, India

An age-old trading region, full of opulent mansions.

Day 8

Chettinad - Madurai

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, India

Watch villagers turn clay into dolls and deities ready for temples and festivals.

Day 9

Madurai - Chennai

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More details

Front view, Palais de Mahe, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, India
Palais de Mahe, Pondicherry, India

Visit Pondicherry - Cool and Quiet, with a Distinctly French Aesthetic

Coming from Chennai, Pondicherry is a breath of fresh air. A former French colony, the town has a distinctly French aesthetic with quiet, clean, shady cobbled streets, lined with colonial-style houses. Pondicherry itself is easy to navigate although we highly recommend employing our resident guide to help you discover all the best places this unusual, south Indian town has to offer. Don’t miss an early morning rickshaw ride with one of our training driver/guides who’ll give you insight into life in Pondi. Visit the ashram and Auroville, India’s famed utopian community.

Gangaikondacholapuram temple, Tamil Nadu, India
Mahabalipuram, India

Temples of Tamil Nadu - The Ultimate Showcase for the Skilled Artisan

Across the south of India, each town has a temple quite distinct from the other. There are more than 30,000 temples, each temple not just a place of worship, but a place for social gatherings, education and celebration, a place where the artisan’s skill was showcased.

We can discuss with you which temples are actually worth a visit during your holiday but the ones we think are most impressive are Gangaikondacholapuram, Kumbakonam and Chidambaram.

Chettinad Mansion, Chettinad, Tamil Nadu, India
Chettinad Mansion, Chettinad, India

Huge Mansions and Incredible Cuisine are the Secrets of Chettinad

In contrast to the many temples in the south, the region of Chettinad is a total surprise. In the early 19th century, wealthy traders settled here and built themselves opulent mansions, with no expense spared. Over time, with the collapse in trade, these beautiful houses were abandoned and left to ruin. Many have been sold off piece by piece, however today a few still remain and are well worth visiting. The architecture and design are quite exquisite and the town of Karaikudi is a treasure trove of antique shops. The region is also well-known throughout India for its exceptional cuisine.

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

Madurai and the Living, Breathing Meenakshi Temple

The holy city of Madurai is an eminent religious and cultural centre in India. The Meenakshi temple dates back as far as 2,500 years and is probably the most impressive temple of Tamil Nadu. The temple complex covers 14 acres, and has 4,500 pillars and 14 towers, it is huge.

The sheer size of the temple means that it’s easy to get lost inside, so we highly recommend you employ one of our expert guides to help you navigate it. It’s a “living” temple, full of industry and a constant stream of couples waiting to be married in its corridors.

One of the highlights at Meenakshi Temple, which you really shouldn’t miss, is the night ceremony. This is a puja (worship) performed, amidst much chanting, drums, horns and smoke.

Read More
Tea Plantation, Munnar, Kerala, India
Darjeeling, India

Tour Extension Suggestion: Kerala

Considering extending this itinerary? We would suggest visiting Kerala, just over the hills. Leave the flat plains of Madurai and continue into the Western Ghats, a line of hills that separates Tamil Nadu from its neighbour, Kerala. The rather splendid scenery and cooler climes are extremely attractive and a welcome contrast from the dusty plains of Tamil Nadu. Munnar offers excellent walking and the opportunity to learn about tea production. Descending from the hills, the journey brings you to Cochin, the backwaters and the coast. During your time in Kerala, you can visit villages, markets, cruise on small canals, watch unusual, traditional dance displays, eat a whole new type of Indian cuisine and rest and relax on its golden beaches.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we have recommended for this journey.

Visalam £££££

  • India
  • Boutique

Visalam heritage hotel, set in a converted mansion with original woodwork and art deco artefacts, is located in the small village of Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu. Visalam is a lovely base from which to explore a part of Tamil Nadu that has many surprises.

View Property

De L’Orient £££££

  • India
  • Boutique

Pondicherry boasts stunning buildings reflecting its French colonial past, and Hotel De L’Orient offers a selection of suites in one of the old mansion houses.

View Property

Palais De Mahe £££££

  • India
  • Boutique

Palais de Mahe is an elegant, chic hotel a short distance from the waterfront of Pondicherry.  

View Property

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A faultless trip so brilliantly expedited and organised by Steppes Travel but with a major backup from those on the ground, in India.


Everything was simply wonderful. We had two great tiger sightings at Nagarhole and caught a glimpse of three fully grown cubs. The driver we had was really excellent and has looked after us so well. It is all simply wonderful.

Nagerhole, India

At no point did we feel anything but full confidence in Kate. We actually returned from India having enjoyed the week she arranged for us immensely. We stayed in beautiful places and had wonderful experiences. Thank you, Steppes has delighted us.


In a very short period of time, Charlotte was able to come up with an excellent itinerary, to keep us informed of reservations on a timely basis and to make changes to meet our requirements. She was always available either on the phone or through email exchanges which was most reassuring and hugely appreciated. A valuable asset!


Overall another amazing trip from Steppes Travel. We saw so many different sights and had so many new experiences. Would always highly recommend Steppes.

Steppes Travel

Dev Shree's rural location allowed us a glimpse of India off of the beaten track. We had a memorable afternoon wandering the small town.

Dev Shree - Rajasthan, India

A great itinerary for an introduction to India. It has given us lots of ideas and enthusiasm for a return trip.


We had an absolutely amazing time. Everything ran smoothly, all accommodation and other arrangements were fabulous and the contacts were such wonderful and professional people we feel we have made friends for life.


Outlining a trip and having Joe fill in the details and make suggestions or changes meant we had a wonderful experience.


All guides, drivers and vehicles were superb and it was such a great way to see everything and know everything. The service was excellent.


Joe was wonderful and very knowledgeable about India. He was patient with us as we made numerous changes to the itinerary and very quick to respond.  


Charlotte knows India extremely well. Very happy to answer even the most trivial of questions. Nothing is too much trouble.


Outlining a trip and having Joe fill in the details and make suggestions or changes meant we had a wonderful experience.


In Kathmandu, our guide Archie was fabulous. She was knowledgeable, thoughtful, fun, warm, open and a total pleasure to have with us. She really made sure we got the most out of our two days in Kathmandu - a real class act.


We had the most amazing holiday. Thank you to all at Steppes and a huge thank you for our surprise meal at Ministry of Crab. We are so grateful.

Sri Lanka

It was all very last minute from us so Kate did a great job in responding to a change in dates and negotiating a good deal.

Sri Lanka

Kate Hitchen's help in organising this trip was excellent. She was very knowledgable and tailor-made our trip to suit our three teenage children.

Sri Lanka

Kate Hitchen was excellent and managed to book and organise our trip to India perfectly, it was even better than expected. Thank you.


Everything went smoothly, we were met as arranged by extremely knowledgeable personnel. The guides and drivers came up to and exceeded, our expectations.


Joe was FANTASTIC! He really knew his stuff and really guided us to a terrific trip!


Naturalists at the two lodges responded well to the individual needs of us as their guests. I showed an interest in the local school in Kanha, and Chin took us there, introduced us to the head and showed us a classroom - very interesting and insightful into the local community.

Kanha National Park

A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
From £2,950 Per person

When to travel

India in January

January is a very popular time to travel to India, due to mild temperatures and very little rainfall. The climate varies across India from snow in the Northern States to the Southern regions experiencing daily sunshine – perfect for an escape to Kerala’s beaches.

India in February

During peak season, February is an ideal month to travel to India, experiencing all regions of the country from Rajasthan in the North to Karnataka in the South.

India in March

Temperatures begin to rise with March typically being the last month of the peak season. A significant month for religious, Hindu festivals, March can become busy in some regions however also a perfect time to travel to experience Indian culture and wildlife.

India in April

With temperatures starting to rise, regions in Northern India start to become more accessible with excellent opportunities to discover hiking trails and the wildlife of these regions. Temperatures can sometimes exceed 40°C, with high levels of humidity in Southern India.

India in May

From May to September, Monsoon rains affect the North and Central states of India with daily rainfall and thunderstorms. During the Monsoon season, it is best to experience high altitude regions and avoid beach resorts.

India in June

Most regions of India will experience the Monsoon season in June alongside high daily temperatures and high levels of humidity. Whilst, not a popular time to travel, experience the mountainous regions as opposed to Central India to experience slightly cooler temperatures at the start of the month.

India in July

At the peak of the Monsoon season, most of the country experiences frequent, heavy rainfall. Whilst travel plans may be interrupted due to the climate, it is a great time to visit India to experience the national parks and the great outdoors.

India in August

As the Monsoon continues, the climate is very similar to that of June and July. Whilst not a suitable time to travel to India’s Southern beaches, other Northern Regions are popular with locals for hiking and outdoor pursuits.

India in September

As the final month of the Monsoon season, rainfall will be less frequent with the occasional sunny spell showcasing the lush, green vegetation that has flourished during the heavy rains.

India in October

As the monsoon rains have finished, humidity levels remain high and the peak travel season begins. During the month of October, there are lots of religious festivals, including Diwali, where some regions may become busier with domestic tourists.

India in November

As one of the best times to visit the country, November brings comfortable temperatures for sightseeing with the monsoon rains dying out from October. As the temperatures drop, however, Northern India and the Himalayas will become less accessible.

India in December

In December, temperatures and climate will be dependant on the region. In the Southern States, India will see a pleasant and mild climate, ideal for sightseeing, whereas, in Northern India and mountainous regions, snow and cold temperatures are likely.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?

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