South India – Coast to Coast Cycling Tour Chennai to Kochi

  • Sport & Abenteuer Reisen
  • Aktive Kultur Reisen
  • Fahrrad & MTB

Overview

 South India – Coast to Coast Cycling is a classic tour focusing on Ancient Temples, Historic Monuments, Scenic Destinations, Village Life and Culture. The tour also offers an ideal opportunity to witness the scenic countryside of Kerala and interact with the warm-hearted South Indians, try out the special Chettinadu Cuisines, South Indian Thali meals, steaming Idli and Sambar, have a closer look at classic architecture and dance forms. The tour starts from Mahabalipuram in the South Eastern Coast of India and ends at the historic city of Fort Kochi on the South Western Coast.

After flying into Chennai Airport, we will drive to a quaint beachside resort in Mahabalipuram and spend your arrival day relaxing by the beach. The next morning, we set off for a sightseeing tour to witness the ancient monuments of Mahabalipuram at the UNESCO heritage site. We will further drive to Pondicherry and see the gleaming Auroville, the French quarters, stroll through the local streets and spend overnight in the colorful city. The next day, we will start our ride along the river Cauvery, towards the temple town of Chidambaram famous for the Thillai Nataraja Temple – a traditional dance center. The temple wall carvings depict 108 foundation postures from which the dance form Bharatanatyam was originated. We will further ride to the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu – Thanjavur to visit the Brihadeeswara Temple and royal palace. The next day, we will ride further to the Chettinadu village famous for its traditional architecture and cuisine of the Chettiyar community. We will progress the ride on the next day ride through villages and backroads towards the temple town of Madurai. Here, we will spend an additional day visiting the magnificent Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple on tuk-tuks and try out the local dishes here. We will restart the ride and transverse through Western Ghats roads to reach the wilderness destination of Thekkady. The next morning, we set out for a forest hike in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary with its remarkable biodiversity. We leave Thekkady the next day and ride through the craggy mountains with the view of scenic valleys and manicured tea plantations to reach yet another hill station – Vagamon. Further, we ride downhill through the lowlands and agrarian villages to reach the backwater world of Alleppey. Here, we will go kayaking through its narrow canals to witness the rustic village life along the great Vembanad lake at close quarters. We then ride to the fishermen’s village of Marari and spend an additional day at the pristine beach. We ride the last stretch of the tour towards the colonial city of Fort Kochi to explore the ancient alleys and the cultural extravaganza of the city and mark the end of the South India Bike Tour.

Highlights: Great Temples of Madurai & Thanjavur / Visit traditional dance school at Chidambaram / Hill Destinations of Vagamon and Thekkady with tea plantations/ Nature Hike in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary / Scenic Countryside and Village Life / Beaches of Marari and Mahabalipuram / Traditional Cuisines of Kerala & Tamil Nadu / Cooking Class at Thekkady / Plantation and Heritage Walks / Kayaking in the Backwater / Sightseeing of Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry & Fort Kochi / Traditional dance and martial arts performance.

Program

Day 1: The serene beach of Mahabalipuram

Arrival and relax by the beach

Our guide will pick you from Chennai International Airport. Leaving the bustling city, we will drive to the nearby town of Mahabalipuram. It will be roughly a 90 mins drive to reach the peaceful beach resort here. After you settle down and relax, the bike fitting is scheduled in the afternoon. Rest of the day, you can relax by the beach and prepare for the South India Coast to Coast ride ahead. 

PropertyMealActivities for the dayApprox. Distances & Duration
Ideal Beach ResortBArrival, Transfer to Mahabalipuram
Bike Fitting
55 Kms 1.30 Hours

Day 2: The colorful city of Pondicherry

Sightseeing Day – the great monuments of Mahabalipuram and the heritage of Pondicherry

Morning, we set off for a history tour of the UNESCO world heritage sites in Mahabalipuram. The town is known for its temples and the group of monuments that dates back from the 7th – 8th century. The Pancharathas and Shore temple by the beach reflect the architectural splendor and craftsmanship of the Pallava Dynasty. The town is also famous for the traditional rock sculpture-making industry. You can witness the craftsmanship closely at the facility. Today will be more than a sightseeing day, as you will be driving from Mahabalipuram to Pondicherry through the east coast road which takes approx. 2 hours. You will witness local beaches, coconut groves and salt fields along the way. Afternoon at Pondicherry, we will be visiting the miraculous Auroville, a unique sanctum for meditation. Once been a barren land, now the place has evolved into a universal township dedicated to human unity and sustainable living. We will also walk along the French quarters and the happening Promenade beach in the evening. The influence of French architecture and culture can be witnessed while the heritage walk. You can settle back at the hotel to spend the rest of the day relaxing or go around for street shopping.

PropertyMealActivities for the dayApprox. Distances & Duration
Villa Du OceanB DVisit UNESCO Heritage sites in Mahabalipuram
Transfer to Pondicherry
Afternoon visit to Auroville & Local market walk
Sightseeing at Mahabalipuram 2.30 Hours Transfer 96 Kms 2 Hours
Sightseeing at Pondicherry 2.30 Hours

Day 3: Cycling to Chidambaram

Unravel the traditional dance culture of Tamil Nadu

Morning, we will drive (01 hour) to the outskirts of the city to begin our bike ride. We will ride South from the Cuddalore suburb on the flat backcountry and beach roads with the Kollidam river cutting across, which further converges into the Bay of Bengal. You will see fisherman villages, fish farms, and local beaches along the way. After 4 hours of pedalling, we reach our first temple town of Chidambaram famous for the 12th century Thillai Nataraja Temple. The temple wall carvings depict 108 foundation postures from which the traditional dance form Bharatanatyam was originated. A 5-day annual dance festival called Natyanjali is held in the temple premises to commemorate Lord Shiva during the festive days of Maha Shivratri. Each day, performers from different dance schools display their dancing splendor. We will visit a traditional dance school for an organized workshop on the classical dance form – Bharatanatyam.   

PropertyMealActivities for the dayApprox. Distances & Duration
LakshmivilasB (L) DCycling to Chidambaram
Visit Natyanjali Dance school, Traditional Dance Workshop
Total 82 Kms
First 22 Kms – 01 Hour transfer to avoid traffic
Cycling 60 Kmss 4 Hours

Day 4: Cycling to Thanjavur

The Magnificent Brihadiswara Temple

We will ride on flat village roads along the irrigational canals. You will also see paddy fields, small temples and woody patches with Banyan Trees enroute. We will witness how the sacred Cauvery River and its tributaries are the lifelines of the region, especially for the many farming communities. After riding a distance of 60 Kms, we will transfer (1 hour) you to the hotel in Tanjore – the next temple town on our list. Reaching here, we will set out to visit the magnificent Brihadiswara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The 11 Century CE temple was built by the Chola King Raja Raja Chola I and is one of the ‘Great Living Chola Temples” classified by UNESCO. Exemplary Dravidian architecture with its highest Vimana tower in South India and marvellous sculptures makes Brihadiswara Temple truly remarkable. We can also visit the Saraswati Mahal Library, Palace and the Art Gallery if time allows.

PropertyMealActivities for the dayApprox. Distances & Duration
SangamB (L) DCycling to Tanjore
Visit Brihadeswara Temple
Visit Saraswati Mahal Library, Palace and Art Gallery
Total 103 Kms
First 60 Kms Cycling 4 Hours,
Transfer to hotel One Hour
Visit palace and temple 2.30 Hours

Day 5: Cycling to Chettinadu

Heritage Village Walks and the Exotic Cuisines

After breakfast, we will set off to the next cultural hub on Tamil Nadu map – the Chettinadu. Leaving the fertile basin of river Cauvery, our ride will progress through village roads on flat terrain with view of lush green paddy fields and clusters of eucalyptus trees along the way. After riding a distance of 50 Kms, we will transfer (1.30 hour) you to our destination – Chettinadu. Known as the land of Chettiyars, Chettinadu is also famous for its heritage buildings and temples with unique architecture. Chettiyars – the high strata business communities who settled here were also known for their traditional cuisine different from the rest. You will be staying at a typical heritage mansion which depicts the vibrant culture and way of living of Chettiyars. We will also go for an evening walk through the remarkable streets and try out the spicy foods made with special masalas for lunch and dinner at the mansion. Don’t forget to learn from the chef, how these freshly ground masalas are prepared using a variety of spices.

PropertyMealActivities for the dayApprox. Distances & Duration
Narayana VilasB (L) DCycling to Chettinadu
Heritage walk
Cooking demo on Chettinadu Cuisine
Total 115 Kms
First 50 Kms Transfer 1.30 Hours
Cycling 65 Kms, 5 Hours
Heritage walk 1.30 Hours

Day 6 & 7: Cycling to Madurai and a Daybreak

The Madurai Meenakshi temple and the local ride on tuk-tuk

Today, we will ride through a combination of highways and countryside roads initially. The ride will progress further on mostly flat through villages of Narasingam, Melur and Pillayarpatti with small temples, granite quarries and workshops along the way. After approx. 80 Kms of Cycling, we will transfer (1 hour) you starting from busy roads to the Madurai city. We will relax at the resort after the long ride.

Tomorrow is the first break day and it’s again the day to visit the epic Madurai Meenakshi Temple on Tuk Tuks. The temple is dedicated to Goddesses Meenakshi – a form of Parvati and Sundareshwar – a form of Shiva. The narration of the temple dates back to 6th Century CE. The temple complex covers an area of 14 Acres with its many grand pillars, sanctums, Mandapas, Gopuras, sculptures and wall paintings. The 10 Day Meenakshi Tirukalyanam (Holy Marriage) Festival in April – May is the prime attraction here. Millions of pilgrims gather here to offer prayers during the occasion. After our temple visit, we will further visit the 17th Century Tirumala Naykar Palace, stroll through the local market with its fruits and flower shops and try out different varieties of Dosas at a famous local food stall.

PropertyMealActivities for the dayApprox. Distances & Duration
AstoriaB (L) DCycling to Madurai through scenic countryside and plantations, Leisure

Rikshaw ride to Meenakshi temple through the market
Visit Thirumalai Naik Palace
Taste authentic food from Murugan Idly Shop popular for different varieties of Masala Dosa, taste Mushroom Masala Dosa & Gigarthanda etc
Total 100 Kms
80 Kms Cycling 6 Hours
Transfer to hotel to avoid city traffic 1 Hour

Temple visit 2 Hours,
Rikshaw ride 20 minutes
Palace visit 1 Hour

Day 8 & 9: Cycling to Periyar / Thekkady

The wilderness destination and spice plantations

Today, we will ride through the countryside along the grape yards, coconut grooves, vegetable plantations and small temples. After riding a distance of 60 Kms on flat roads, we will transfer (2.30 Hours) you to Thekkady crossing the state border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The eastern frontier of the Western Ghats stands tall while we drive through ghat sections with many hairpin bends. We will reach the spice-growing hamlet of Thekkady and head for a spice plantation visit. Here, we will get to know more about the local spice growing, harvesting, processing and how the favorable climate of the region aids local cultivation.

The next day, we will visit the Periyar Tiger Reserve for a day-long trek along the rainforest periphery. We will be escorted by a local tracker belonging to one of the indigenous tribes and presently employed with forest department to safeguard the reserve. The biodiverse reserve is abundant in flora and fauna with 35 species of Mammals including the majestic Bengal Tiger (spotted rarely) and the Asiatic elephant, more than 260 Bird species including the Great Indian Hornbill. After the forest activities, we will be heading for a cooking class and to have the dinner cooked with our own hands.

PropertyMealActivities for the dayApprox. Distances & Duration
Green ViewB (L) DCycling to Thekkady through villages and Ghat roads
Spice plantation

Full day border hike at Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Cooking Demo
Total 140 Kms
Cycling 60 Kms, 04 Hours
Transfer 85 Kms, 2 Hours 30 Mins
Spice Plantation Walk, 1 Hour

Border Hiking, 8 Hours
Cooking Demo, 1 Hour

Day 10: Cycling to Vagamon

Riding to the misty hills of Vagamon

Today, we ride through the final stretch of Western Ghats section. The terrain will be a combination of inclined and undulating backcountry. Further, you will be riding on the winding roads along cardamom and tea plantations with the view of scenic hills, valleys and dancing meadows in the refreshing breeze. Passing through small settlements and towns of Vandiperiyar and Elapara to reach yet another scenic hill station – Vagamon. National Geographic Traveller has listed this quaint hill station on their directory of the “50 most attractive places to visit in India. The perfect blend of stunning landscapes, hilly meadows and pristine nature add to the allure of Vagamon. The 60 Kms ride will end at a small eco-resort nestled amidst a lush tea plantation at the hill destination. Evening we will go out for a casual countryside walk or relax at the resort watching the picturesque misty hillocks.

PropertyMealActivities for the dayApprox. Distances & Duration
WintervaleB (L) DCycling to scenic hills of Vagamon
Local walks / Leisure
Total 60 Kms
Cycling 5 Hours undulating terrain

Day 11: Cycling to Alleppey

Ride to the backwater village and local experiences

The day is going to start with continuous downhill ride through the midlands. We transverse through the rubber country Pala and Erattupetta along the valleys with rubber, spice and pineapple plantations, tranquil villages, small temples and churches. After 60 Kms ride, we will transfer you to our next destination, located remote in the meandering water world. We will drive along the lush green paddy fields, fish and duck farms, coconut lagoons and canals to reach the backwater Village. Here, you will be greeted at a serene backwater resort situated right on the banks of Vembanad lake. After lunch, we will explore the tranquil village on bikes or either on foot to see the local church, toddy shop, vegetable market, tea shop and also meet the delighted villagers.

PropertyMealActivities for the dayApprox. Distances & Duration
Paloma BackwatersB (L) DCycling to Alleppey
Backwater Village and Local Experiences
Total 99 Kms
First 60 Kms Cycling 3 Hours
Long downhill

Day 12 & 13: Cycling to the pristine beach of Marari

Morning kayaking & ride through coconut groves and fishermen villages

Visit to the backwaters is incomplete without a kayaking adventure through its narrow intrinsic canals. We will paddle lazily across the small islands and wetlands to see up close, how the village life wakes up to life with the golden lights of the sun. You can see toddy tappers climbing up the high coconut tree, the local fishermen harvesting clamshells and pearl spot fishes on their canoe, women washing clothes and children walking to the school, while flocks of ducks paddling across the narrow canals, the patient kingfishers, egrets and cormorants keeping a watchful eye on their next catch.

Winding up the rustic experiences of the backwater village, now we ride toward the pristine beach destination of Marari. The road will again be flat with some high bridges over the backwater canals. You will be passing along paddy fields and coconut lagoons. We will visit the coir factory en-route to know how various products are made out of coir fibre. You will get to know how every part of a coconut tree is used for various purposes and has been blended into the culture of the land. Coir cottage industry was once a prime source of income for the locals, men and women alike. We will end our ride at a serene beach resort, and the pristine Marari beach is only a couple of steps away from your cottage. The next day, we will have a martial art (Kalari-payettu) workshop at a traditional Kalari School nearby or a yoga session at the quaint beach resort. The rest of the day can be spent at leisure along the beach or we can walk to the fishermen’s village nearby and meet the brave sea warriors trying to know more about their intense life.

PropertyMealActivities for the dayApprox. Distances & Duration
Turtle BeachB (L) DMorning kayaking in the backwaters
Cycling to Fishermen Village

Martial Arts Workshop / Yoga
Leisure at the beach
2.30 hours kayaking
30 Kms Cycling 2 Hours

90 Mins activity

Day 14: Fort Kochi

History tour of the colonial city and traditional dance performance

After breakfast, we will start our ride toward the colonial city of Fort Kochi. The road will be mostly flat throughout with a view of the Arabian Sea. You will be riding along the Fishing Harbour of Andhakaranazhi through coconut groves, patches of wetlands and coastal villages of Chellanam and Ezhupunna. Afternoon, we will go out for the History tour of Fort Kochi, to know more about its colonial heritage on our bikes. Once been a major port and trade center, it evolved as a settlement hotspot for numerous merchants from across the world, deep rooted to this day. The gradual intermingling of their cultures for centuries made Fort Kochi a unique heritage city on the world map. We will walk through the Jew street, flea market, watch the creaking Chinese fishing nets against the sunset, and proceed for the late evening traditional Kathakali dance performance. It will be nice to check out the local restaurants for dinner and wind down at the comfy hotel.

PropertyMealActivities for the dayApprox. Distances & Duration
Fort BungalowB (L)Cycling to Fort Kochi
Fort Kochi sightseeing on cycle
Kathakali Dance Performance
Total 45 Kms
Cycling 3 Hours and sightseeing 2.30 Hours Kathakali make up starts 5.00 to 6.00, show 6.00 to 7.00

Day 15: Cochin Airport

Tour ends

It’s the time to say Adieu, with fond memories of the South India Coast to Coast Ride. We will be happy to drop you at the Cochin International Airport if this is as per your schedule.

PropertyMealActivities for the dayApprox. Distances & Duration
  Drive to Cochin Airport42 Kms, 1.30 Hour

Services

  • Accompanying English Speaking Guide
  • Transfers in AC vehicle
  • Accommodation in Twin Room
  • Meals as mentioned
  • Refreshment & Drinking Water
  • Mountain or Hybrid Bikes
  • Activities as mentioned
  • Airport Pickup and Drop
  • Toll, Interstate Permit & Parking Charges
  • Entry Fees at Monuments, Plantation, Museums etc
  • Government Taxes
  • Visa
  • International Flight
  • Tips (approx. 50 €)
  • Expense on Additional Services availed en-route and at Properties
  • Personal Expenses including Camera Fees
  • Travel Insurance & Medical Expenses

Highlights

Prices and Dates

Fixed Dates:

will be announced shortly

8-16 participants per person from 1900 €

Private Tour:

2-3 participants: from 2200 €

4-7 participants: from 2000 €

Single supplement: 400 €

Note:

15 December to 15 January Peak Season Supplement Surcharge

Accommodation depends on availability

Tour Info

Requirements

The bike tours are moderate but sometimes require good endurance and fitness. You should be prepared to cycle for several hours in the tropical climate with temperatures up to approx. 30°C and high humidity on partly unpaved paths in mountainous terrain. During the cycle tours we have not only routes in the plain but also stages with steeper ascents and descents. There is the option to book e-bikes or using the backup car from time to time.

Stay

We stay in beautiful and well-kept middle-class hotels and guesthouses. Especially the overnight stays in the family-run guesthouses, the so-called “homestays”, are a particularly nice experience, as one gets a little closer to the life of the locals here.

Arrival

Please book a flight to Chennai Airport and from Airport Cochin with arrival Day on day 1 and Departure Day on Day 15. We will welcome you at the airport.

Frequently asked Questions

Do I need an adapter in India?

Yes, an adapter is necessary, as in India most of the plugs are used. More information here.

What is the climate in Southern India?

The climate is subtropical. In July/August is monsoon season, which manifests itself in short showers. The best time to travel is October to March.

In the south of the country, the sun’s irradiation is particularly intense due to its proximity to the equator. In order to avoid unpleasant and long-term dangerous sunburns, care must be taken to ensure good sun protection and adequate fluid absorption.
Dangerous currents continue to lead to bathing accidents on the coasts. Warnings on the beaches are essential.

What language is spoken in India?

The official national languages are English and Hindi. In Kerala, however, Malayalam is spoken. In addition, there are numerous regional national languages, all of which differ in word and writing, and there are also over a hundred dialects.

Is there a time difference?

Yes, there are:  (CET) + 4.5 hours, during European daylight saving time it is + 3.5 hours.

Notes on money/currency:

The local currency rupee may not be entered or exported. Travellers wishing to import more than 5000 cash or traveller’s cheques must indicate this on the currency declaration form you receive upon your entry. We recommend taking euros with you. It is easily possible to exchange money in hotels or banks and bureaux de change, with the exchange rate being uniform. It is recommended to keep the receipt to ensure a return at the airport. International credit cards are accepted by most hotels in major cities and tourist centres.

Notes on additional costs and tipping:

For meals, drinks and snacks not included in the price of the trip, you should calculate approx. 15,- (Euro) per day.

Tips are a voluntary service, which everyone should decide for themselves. Please note, however, that tipping is common in many cultures and is an important part of income due to the relatively low wage level. As a rule of thumb, 5-10% of the invoice amount is appropriate. India is a travel country where a tip is expected for each service. Be it the luggage carrier, the service staff in the restaurant and hotel, for the toilet or the rickshaw ride.

Here is a detailed orientation. Menus often include a surcharge indicated as a service batch. However, the waiters usually see little of this. An additional tip of 5-10% is appropriate. Porters, drivers and guides also expect tipping. For racks 20-30 Rs per bag is attached, for maids 20-30 Rs per day. Your tour guide will be happy to advise you.

Tip: Talk to your fellow travellers. It has often been proven that one of the group gives a reasonable tip on behalf of the whole group (e.g. for the tour guide and driver). Experience has shown that each traveller will receive a tip of around 60 € for the entire trip. But: Tips are voluntary and please communicate with the group on site how you want to deal with it.

Notes on vaccination:

There are no vaccination regulations for direct entry from Germany. The Foreign Office recommends checking the standard vaccinations when travelling to India. These include vaccinations against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, mumps, measles, rubella and influenza, as well as pneumococci.

Vaccinations against hepatitis A and typhoid, long-term stays or special hazards are also recommended for travel vaccinations against hepatitis B, rabies, meningococcal meningitis ACWY and Japanese encephalitis.

Please keep in mind that vaccination regulations may change in the short term. In addition to the family doctor, individual information is also provided by the health offices or tropical institutes.

What equipment you should think of?

  • Passport
  • Printing of the electronic tourist visa (e-TV)
  • Cash/EC card/credit card
  • Photocopies of the most important documents (keep separate from originals). Send a copy via PDF to your own email in advance.
  • Travel documents
  • Day backpack (approx. 25l volume if possible with integrated rain cover) for food and drinks on the go
  • For the hikes/trekking we recommend: walking shoes and well run-in; breathable sportswear (e.g. functional shirt/quick-drying; light long hiking trousers) and 2-3 pairs of hiking socks.
  • Cycling clothes, helmet, drinking bottle, cleat Pedales, if required
  • light sneakers or sandals (for aerating the feet)
  •  A pocket/headlamp is recommended for overnight stays in the tent.
  • Drinking bottle or field bottle (minimum 1 liter)
  •  Wind and rain protection (e.g. breathable rain jacket)
  • Long trousers and sweater/jacket (for the evening and/or rooms with air conditioning)
  • Towel
  • Handkerchiefs (possibly also wet handkerchiefs for body hygiene)
  • Photo equipment
  • Field cutter/remote glass if necessary
  • bathing suits, bath towel
  • Sun protection and headgear (cap, hat or headscarf, sunglasses, sunscreen)
  • Travel pharmacy, first aid kit, possibly personal medications, insect repellent
  • Due to different socket types, we recommend taking an international adapter set with you.

South India – Coast to Coast Cycling Tour Chennai to Kochi

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