Coast to Coast – OCTOBER
In 2006 we became the first company to offer self drive in India when we took participants to drive Hindustan Ambassadors on a 900km route across the mountains and plains of South India. The tour has run every year since but eventually it became too difficult to source Ambassadors so we had to call time on this venerable Old Lady of Indian Roads.
Our new trip is bigger and better with an entirely new route, improved accommodation, more places to visit, increased down time and of course, a modern air conditioned SUV.
If you have travelled with us before on our previous Classic India tour, you may be wondering how similar this new trip is. All the hotels are new and there is only one 45km section of road which is common to our previous trip but we are doing it in the reverse direction so the route is really all new. We are having a day off (in Munnar) in the middle of the trip. There are also far more places of interest to see and visit than on the previous trip.
The trip is quite physical. Some of the monuments we are visiting require a fair bit of walking and climbing although you could always view without climbing up. During the day off in Munnar you will have the option of a short or long trek through some of Asia’s highest tea plantations. These are both optional and you could easily opt not to do these if you wish.
You will note in the itinerary there is an option to visit Cochin. The reason for this is because if you took part in one of our previous Classic India trips you probably had either a full day or half day off in Cochin and therefore we have not included Cochin as part of the tour. If you haven’t been to Fort Cochin you may want to visit, hence offering the option. The vehicles we will be driving are confirmed as Suzuki Brezzas. This is not a model we have in the UK but they are ideal for the trip. The trip length is 1000kms.
We are very excited about this trip and thrilled with the itinerary. We have got some great accommodation, fascinating visits and some lovely routes.
Route Map – For a map of the route click here
Day 1 – London to Chennai. Catch a flight to Chennai on the East coast of India. British Airways offer a direct flight from London. Emirates and Etihad have frequent flights via UAE.
Day 2 – Chennai to Mahabalipuram. Arrive Chennai and transfer to our hotel located on the coast, south of Chennai on the edge of Mahabalipuram.
Day 3 – Mahabalipuram. We will have a welcome briefing in the morning followed by a tour of the Mahabalipuram sights, including temples dating back to the 7th century. The afternoon will be free to relax at the bar, beach or swimming pool before we undertake car allocation in the late afternoon.
Day 4 – Mahabalipuram to Pondicherry. We will set off early to visit Gingee Fort. In the 9th century this was a small fort but it was modified in the 13th century to create an unbreachable citadel to protect the small town of Gingee. The fort was so well defended that it ranked it as the “most impregnable fortress in India” and it was called the “Troy of the East” by the British. For the energetic you can walk to the top for the most breathtaking views. By mid afternoon we will arrive in Pondicherry, formerly home to the largest French colony in India, which has a long and interesting history of trade and war. There is a strong French influence in the city, especially in the old quarters, with Rues and Boulevards lined with Mediterranean style houses and bakeries, although the city remains very much Indian. French is still understood, and the whole city makes for rather pleasant mix of East and West. In order to fully embrace the city we will be taking a pre dinner guided tour.
Day 5 – Pondicherry to Thanjavur. On the way to Thanjavur we will stop mid morning at a huge 10th century Hindu temple. At lunchtime we are stopping at a lovely little house for a traditional Indian Thali lunch. We should arrive at our hotel by mid afternoon allowing ample time to enjoy the facilities.
Day 6 – Thanjavur to Chettinad. The day starts with the two main attractions of Thanjavur. The temple and the royal palace. Thanjavur’s royal palace is a mixed bag of ruin and renovation, superb art and random royal paraphernalia. The maze-like complex was constructed by different dynasties over several hundred years from 1500 to 1850. After visiting we depart for Chettinad arriving mid afternoon to enjoy the quirky accommodation and fascinating town.
Day 7 – Chettinad to Madurai. The town of Madurai is quite congested so we will head straight to the hotel and then head into town on tuk-tuk’s to see Madurai’s three must see attractions, one of which is quite unbelievable.
Day 8 – Madurai to Coimbatore. We head north to the City of Coimbatore, often referred to as the Manchester of South India. We are in the process of arranging a visit to a working textile factory where you will be able to see garment production up close. Tonight’s accommodation is modern and a complete contract to some of the previous heritage hotels.
Day 9 – Coimbatore to Munnar. Today we leave the city behind and head for the hills. Winding our way up through the Western Ghats we travel along what we believe are some of the most beautiful roads in India before finally reaching our two night stop in the old British hill station of Munnar. It is surrounded by rolling hills dotted with tea plantations established in the late 19th century.
Day 10 – Munnar, Day off. The small town of Munnar offers some interesting sights and shopping. The mild climate lends itself perfectly to trekking, and for those who want it, we will be organising different length walks up through the beautiful hills giving you a chance to see firsthand how tea is picked and processed.
Day 11 – Munnar to Kumarakom. After a leisurely start we head down the other side of the mountains arriving at our overnight stop in Kumarakom mid afternoon.
Day 12 – Kumarakom, Boat trip. After breakfast we will be picked up from our hotel in small house boats which will take us on an interesting trip down the real backwaters of Kerala. The afternoon will be free to enjoy the resort.
Day 13 – Kumarakom to Marari Beach. After a short drive we finally meet the West Coast of India completing our journey. Here we can all enjoy the coastal vibe and look forward to a special evening to end our trip.
Day 14 – Marari Beach to Airport. Transfer to Cochin International airport for your flight home.
Day 14 – OPTIONAL EXTRA. Take a morning (short) transfer to Fort Kochi and enjoy the afternoon looking around before catching a flight from Cochin International the following day.
BOOKING INFO AND COST
2020 – £3445 per person based on two people sharing a vehicle and accommodation.
2021 – Cost to be confirmed
• All transfers
• All accommodation – based on two people sharing
• Breakfast and dinner every day
• Hire of an SUV for the duration of the event
• Entrance fees to most places of interest
• All route books and necessary maps
• The Great Road Journey’s team doing their utmost to ensure you have an unforgettable holiday
• Travel Insurance
• Flight – the current cost of the (Economy Class) flight is approximately £600 per person
See photos of previous Great Road Journeys in South India HERE
What happens next?
Send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details. After that we will be in touch. A deposit of £750 per person will be required upon booking. The balance is payable one month before departure. In the meantime you’ll receive regular updates from us guiding you through everything you need to know.