Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, India

South India’s Temples



9 Days

Prices Start from

$5,154pp (ex. flights)

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

Created for those wishing to journey through spectacular Tamil temple towns, for those intrigued by the diverse cuisine and culture of the Chettinad region, and for those inspired by French-influenced Pondicherry. Ending in Madurai, this holiday showcases the best of this often overlooked but incredibly rewarding state. Time your visit to coincide with one of the many festivals to see the temples alive with locals in celebration.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India 1

Marvel at Temples

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

Chettinad Mansion, Chettinad, Tamil Nadu, India 2

Discover Chettinad

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

Vintage Tricycle Rickshaw, Pondicherry, India 3

Explore Pondicherry

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

South Indian Sculpture, India 4

Visit Madurai

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

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1

    Chennai (Fishermans Cove)

  • Day 2

    Chennai - Pondicherry (Palais de Mahe)

  • Day 3

    Pondicherry (Palais de Mahe)

  • Day 4

    Pondicherry - Tanjore (Svatma)

  • Day 5

    Tanjore (Svatma)

  • Day 6

    Tanjore - Chettinad (Visalam)

  • Day 7

    Chettinad (Visalam)

  • Day 8

    Chettinad - Madurai (Heritage)

  • Day 9


Day 1

Chennai (Fishermans Cove)

Arrive into Chennai and transfer to your accommodation. Later visit some of the cities historic landmarks and cultural and art centres.

Day 2

Chennai - Pondicherry (Palais de Mahe)

Journey from Chennai to Pondicherry, a picturesque coastal journey of around three and a half hours with views of the Bay of Bengal, passing local villages, paddy and lush forests. On arrival at this former French colony, check into your accommodation.

Day 3

Pondicherry (Palais de Mahe)

Take an early morning rickshaw ride for a fascinating insight into life in Pondicherry. Later join a story teller for a heritage walk through the history of the city, experience Hindu faith at the Ganesh Temple and the many colours and smells of Goubert Market.

Day 4

Pondicherry - Tanjore (Svatma)

Today, head inland to Tanjore, a journey of around four and a half hours. On arrival, check into your accommodation.

Day 5

Tanjore (Svatma)

Today, an early morning visit to the UNESCO-listed Brihadisvara Temple, best explored when the light is soft and the temperatures cooler. This afternoon visit an workshop where artists craft the Veena, one of South India’s oldest musical instruments.

Day 6

Tanjore - Chettinad (Visalam)

Today, journey south for around two hours to the city of Chettinad, an age-old trading region, full of opulent mansions.

Day 7

Chettinad (Visalam)

Explore the Chettinad region, with its attractive mansions and houses. Known for its rich culture, cuisine, art and architecture, this is a fascinating – yet rarely visited – part of the country. The area’s buildings are particularly notable and their colourful architectural style is unique to the towns and villages of Chettinad.

Day 8

Chettinad - Madurai (Heritage)

Travel further south west to the city of Madurai, a journey of around two hours. On arrival visit the Meenakshi temple, dating back 2,500 years the huge complex covers 14 acres with 4,500 pillars and 14 towers. Take an evening visit to the temple to witness a traditional night ceremony.

Day 9


Transfer to Madurai airport for your onward travel.

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More Details

Gangaikondacholapuram temple, Tamil Nadu, India
Brihadisvara Temple
Temple, Tanjore, Tamil Nadu, India
Brihadisvara Temple, Tanjore
Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Shore Temple

Temples of Tamil Nadu

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. Talk to our experts to discuss with temples might work best for your holiday.

Chettinad Mansion, Chettinad, Tamil Nadu, India
Chettinad Mansion

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
Meenakshi Temple

Madurai and Meenakshi Temple

The holy city of Madurai is an eminent religious and cultural centre in India and home to one of the regions most impressive temples – Meenakshi Temple. Covering 14 acres with 4,500 pillars and 14 towers, the sheer size of the temple is incredible. It’s a “living” temple, full of industry and a constant stream of couples waiting to be married in its corridors. As the sun sets traditional ceremony’s take place amidst much chanting and drumming – an immersive and authentic experience to behold.


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

Palais De Mahe £££££

  • India
  • Boutique

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

View Property

Svatma £££££

  • India
  • Boutique

Svatma is a luxury, boutique heritage hotel located in a peaceful enclave of the city of Tanjore in Tamil Nadu, southern India. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, Svatma has been lovingly restored by its current owner into a beautifully designed boutique hotel.

View Property

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

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India: Backwaters and Beaches of Kerala

Continue into the hills and tea plantations of Kerala before descending to the network of lagoons and rivers known as the backwaters. Stay onboard a private houseboat for an insight into a unique way of life before time to relax on the regions golden beaches.

5 days - Price on request

Traditional House Boat, Kerala, India
Traditional House Boat, Kerala, India

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 $5,154 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.

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