Coast to Coast
DEC 30th 2023 to 12th JAN 2024
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Imagine flying to India at the end of this year to experience a New Years Eve party like nothing you have witnessed before. There will be Bollywood dancing and a gala buffet over one hundred yards long. After spending a day recovering, on the 2nd January, equipped with one of our easy to follow route books, you will set off for a 1000km coast to coast drive across India.
In 2006 we became the first company to offer self drive in India when we took participants to drive Hindustan Ambassadors on route across the mountains and plains of South India. We ran the tour each year until 2017. 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.
I think it is fair to point out that some of the places we visit 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 Suzuki Brezzas which is similar to a European Vitara. They are ideal for the trip.
The inaugural Coast to Coast took place in 2019 and the feedback from participants was excellent. We stay in some great accommodation, and the itinerary includes fascinating visits and beautiful roads. Route Map – For a map of the route click here
Day 1 | DEC 30th – 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 | DEC 31st – Chennai to Mahabalipuram. Arrive Chennai and transfer to our hotel located on the coast, south of Chennai on the edge of Mahabalipuram.
Day 3 | JAN 1st – 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 | JAN 2nd – 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 | JAN 3rd – 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 | JAN 4th – 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 | JAN 5th – 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 | JAN 6th – Madurai to Kodaikanal. Leaving the heat of the lowlands we head 7000 ft into the hills to Kodaikanal, referred to as the ‘Princess of Hill Stations’. We should arrive just after lunch meaning you’ll have all afternoon to explore. Popular with honeymooners, Kodai is built around a huge lake and offers numerous attractive walks.
Day 9 | JAN 7th – Kodaikanal to Munnar. We undertake a spectacular descent towards Palani before tackling the gradual climb towards Munnar. As we approach Munnar we travel along what we believe are some of the most beautiful roads in India. We will be staying two nights 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 | JAN 8th – 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 | JAN 9th – 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 | JAN 10th – 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 | JAN 11th – 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 | JAN 12th – Marari Beach to Airport. Transfer to Cochin International airport for your flight home.
Day 14 | JAN 12th – 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
• All transfers
• All accommodation – based on two people sharing
• New years eve party, Gala dinner, entertainment, alcohol
• 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 email@example.com with your contact details. After that we will be in touch. A deposit of £1000 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.