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Escorted Tours

Sacred South India including



2 NIGHTS from £148pp

Tour Highlights
  • Spend time exploring the amazing city of Dubai
  • Explore three of the 'elemental' Pancha Bhuta Temples representing Water, Fire, and Space
  • Discover colonial and ancient history behind the modern facade of Chennai, formerly Madras
  • Visit the majestic Arunachaleswara Temple at Thiruvannamalai, the spiritual hub of South India
  • Ponder the mythical red Mountain of Arunachala, where Sri Ramana Maharshi meditated for 23 years
  • Take a tour around the boulevards of Pondicherry's French Quarter, then visit the famous spiritual communes of Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville
  • Marvel at the magnificent Brihadeeswarar Temple at Tanjore, Chola King Rajaraja's extravagant creation a thousand years ago
  • Witness the evening ceremony at Meenakshi Temple, the crowning glory of Madurai
  • Enjoy a trip to a tea plantation up in the lush hill country around Munnar

Extension from £148pp

Tour + Extension from £1492pp

To book call us on 0800 408 0506

Dubai Extension

With incredible beaches of powdery white sand and an azure sea which is crystal clear and warm, an extension to Dubai and the Emirates is the perfect place to relax and soak in the Arabian sun. Famed for its luxury shopping and ultra modern architecture, Dubai offers a kaleidoscope of attractions for you to experience.
Choose a hotel from our handpicked options or speak to our reservations team about our entire range of hotels available.

Tour Itinerary

UK to Chennai

Depart London on your scheduled overnight flight.


On arrival, you will be met by a local guide and transferred to your hotel.

  • Dinner

British presence in India was established in Chennai, formerly Madras, by the East India Company in 1639. Today India's fourth largest city is a technology boomtown but there is some interesting history behind the modern facade. This morning's tour starts with a visit to Fort St. George, completed in 1653 as a bastion of British power. Its museum gives a fascinating insight into early colonial life, and nearby St Mary's is the oldest Anglican church in India. The drive along the elegant promenade by the world famous Marina Beach takes you to Mylapore, the old heart of Chennai. Look inside the San Thome Basilica, resting place of "Doubting Thomas", the Apostle who ended his days preaching on the nearby beach.

  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Chennai to Thiruvannamalai, via Mahabalipuram

Today's transfer takes in a visit to the monolithic shrines and rock-cut temples of Mahabalipuram, once a thriving port city under the Pallava dynasty between the 4th and 9th centuries AD. Highlights of this UNESCO World Heritage Site includes the Shore Temple, built to honour Lord Shiva c700 AD; the cluster of temples known as the Five Rathas; and the incredible 'Arjuna's Presence' bas-relief carving. From here continue to Thiruvannamalai and a relaxing dinner at your hotel

  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Thiruvannamalai to Pondicherry

Thiruvannamalai is the spiritual hub of South India, and top of this morning's agenda is a trip to the majestic Arunachaleswara Temple. This is a sacred place for Hindus where Lord Shiva is worshipped as Agni Linga ('the form of fire'). The temple complex, which covers 10 hectares, lies at the foot of the mystical red mountain of Arunachala, today's next port of call, which for many is as sacred as the temple itself. A short walk away from the main temple, on the way to Arunachala, we'll pass the sanctum sanctorum which houses the ancient Agni Linga itself - a place where the linga has remained unmoved for millennia. Whilst exploring the Arunachala mountain, see the Virupaksha cave on this extinct volcano - reputed to be one of the world's oldest mountains - where Sri Ramana Maharshi meditated for 23 years from 1899 to 1922. Continue on to Pondicherry, your base for the next three nights

  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

After breakfast, take a rickshaw ride around the serene boulevards of Pondicherry's French Quarter and savour the Gallic colonial style of architecture, especially the 200-year old Raj Niwas, the former Governor's residence. This laid-back seaside town was under French rule until 1954 and the legacy is brilliantly illustrated in the Pondicherry Museum, even down to Governor Dupleix's bed! Don't miss Pondy's most attractive church, the Notre Dame des Anges, where you'll see a rare painting of Our Lady of the Assumption - a gift from Napoleon III. Then discover your inner yogi with a visit to Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the famous spiritual commune whose followers practice a form of yoga that involves practical community work more than meditative retreat. See how the New-Age philosophy was extended in the 1960s at nearby Auroville (the 'City of Dawn'). It's as futuristic in appearance as it is idealistic in principle, with around 1,500 residents from 35 countries involved in an enlightened experiment in alternative living.

  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Enjoy the full day at your leisure.

  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Ponicherry to Tanjore

Set off for Tanjore, stopping en route at Chidambaram to visit the magnificent Nataraja Temple, one of Tamil Nadu's five Pancha Bhuta temples - this being aligned with the element of 'space'. Notice the heavy emphasis on dancing, with carvings of the 108 sacred positions of the classical Indian dance form Bharatanatyam. The temple is a dedication to Shiva as the Natajara - Lord of the Dance - and a representation of the exuberance of creation. The five-temple structure was built in the Chola times and boasts a golden roof and four massive gopuram towers, the whole complex covering around 35 acres. It is believed to have been consecrated by Patanjali, the 'Father of Modern Yoga', more than 2,000 years ago. The beauty and intricacy of the various carvings, murals, shrines, and images are awe-inspiring. Continue your journey to Tanjore to enjoy a relaxing evening with dinner at your hotel.

  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

This morning takes in a visit to the incredible Brihadeeswarar Temple, a World Heritage Site built at vast expense by the Chola King Rajaraja a thousand years ago. As you look at the colossal 230 ft tower over the inner sanctum you can only wonder at the engineering skill and architectural vision, whilst the beautiful fresco murals on the inner walls rank alongside those in the Ajanta caves. Before lunch, there's still time to see the nearby Royal Palace, built as the home of the Nayak rulers and later the Marathas in the 16th century. Admire the huge corridors and spacious halls, and take in the fabulous view from the Arsenal Tower. Part of the palace has been turned into an impressive art gallery with much to admire, mostly from the Chola period. The afternoon is yours to spend at your leisure, with the option of a bullock cart ride to the nearby village and, in the evening, a mouth-watering cooking demonstration of vibrant South Indian cuisine.

  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Tanjore to Madurai

After breakfast, transfer to Madurai, one of the oldest cities in the world. After lunch make a fascinating excursion to the nearby "Potters Village" of Vilacheri, where everyone is engaged in the craft of turning wet clay and papier-mache into dolls, idols and other figures. Hear the locals talk about this strange tradition while you watch them mould, bake and paint their creations. Have a go and create a piece of your own if you fancy trying your hand at the art! In the evening pay a visit to the Meenakshi Temple, the crowning glory of Madurai and on' of India's finest temples. Watch the nightly closing ceremony where an icon of Lord Shiva is carried to the Goddess Parvati's chamber for the night to celebrate their celestial union.

  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Madurai to Munnar

After breakfast drive to the hilltop hotel near Munnar, South India's largest tea growing region, and enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure.

  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Today you'll discover the lush beauty of this region, with tea-covered, mist-shrouded slopes, refreshingly cool climate and spectacular mountain scenery. Gaze upon the mirror-like waters of the lake created by the Mattupetty Dam. Listen to your own echo bouncing around the surrounding hills at Echo Point. Learn about the origins of your morning cuppa at one of the tea plantations owned by the mighty Tata corporation. And on your way back, take a photo of the amazing Honey Bee Tree, a huge tree that is home to 25 honey bee hives, and ask yourself, why did they choose this tree alone to build their nests? Return to the hotel for a well-earned rest and reviving dinner.

  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Munnar to Kochi

In the morning, drive to Kochi (formerly Cochin), then enjoy an afternoon walking tour through the old streets of Fort Kochi. In 1341 it became one of the finest harbours in the world by accident, thanks to a massive flood, making it the first port of call for Arabs, then Chinese and finally Europeans. In just a few hours the walk gives an insight into hundreds of years of history that have created a unique melting pot where fourteen languages are spoken and myriad cultures combine. Watch fishermen hoisting their catch from the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that line the shore. Then stop by St. Francis Church, India's oldest European church. Other highlights among many include the Santa Cruz Basilica, Mattancherry (Dutch) Palace and the unmissable Paradesi (Jewish) Synagogue. Return to the hotel to freshen up before a farewell dinner capped by a mesmerising Kathakali dance performance.

  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Kochi to the UK

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight back to the UK or continue onto your chosen extension.

  • Breakfast

Upon arrival you will be transferred to your chosen hotel in Dubai where you will be free to spend your time as you wish.

  • Breakfast
Dubai to the UK

Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK.

  • Breakfast

Important Information


A visa is required for entry into India. British Citizen Passport Holders will need to obtain an e-Tourist Visa (eTV) for travel to India. We work closely with The Travel Visa Company who will be able to arrange your visa on your behalf. Please call them on 01270 250 590 and quote 'Mercury Holidays'. The cost of the visa is approximately £114 per person. The Travel Visa Company can only apply for these 120 days before your proposed travel date and takes around 10 working days to issue. It is only valid for a 60-day single entry stay from the date of arrival. When calling the Travel Visa Company, they will advise you of any changes to the fees or the procedure, they will also advise you of all information they will require in order to apply for the visa. Alternatively, you can visit The Indian Visa Application Centre in London: 142-148 Goswell Road, London, EC1B 7DU. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months before you enter India. Visa requirements are subject to change and obtaining a visa is the responsibility of the traveller and not Mercury Holidays. We recommend you check with your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy prior to departure for the most up to date guidelines regarding visas and passport validity.


If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.

Flight Information

Flights are operated with Emirates, departing London Heathrow via Dubai. Each passenger is entitled to 30KG of hold luggage plus 1 item of hand luggage not exceeding (Max 10kg - 55cm/38cm/ 20cm) in size. Weight restrictions will be finalized on E-ticket receipt. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay extra at check- in. Check-In should be at least 3 hours before departure.
IMPORTANT: Please note that final flight details will be confirmed on your e-ticket and final documentation which will be sent to you approximately 10 days before departure.

Health and Vaccinations

It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include;,,, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.

Physical Accessibility

This tour is accessible to most people with an average level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves full days of sightseeing, often on foot, & includes some climbing of stairs and getting on and off coaches. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.

Group Size

There is no minimum number of travellers for this extension however the main tour passenger numbers will apply for the main part of the tour. If in the unlikely event there are less than the required number of people booked on your main tour date then you may be asked to change to a different date. A full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.

Tour Guide

This is a fully escorted tour, meaning that you will be met on arrival by your national guide who will remain with you for the duration of your trip. You will also be joined by a local guide in each of the cities which you visit, ensuring that you have first-hand knowledge at all times.

Currency Information

The currency in India is the Rupee or Rs. The Rupee is a closed currency and officially you are not allowed to take any cash out of India. US Dollars and GBP are also widely accepted in India should you wish to keep an alternative currency on you. There are restrictions on taking Indian rupees into India. Visitors, including tourists, are not permitted to take any amount of Indian currency into the country. You can take cash or travellers' cheques (in pounds sterling or another foreign currency) and/or a bank card with you and exchange or withdraw rupees once in India.

Personal Expenses

You will need to take some extra money with you to cover any personal purchases, such as souvenirs, laundry and extra drinks and snacks. Approximately £400 per person will be sufficient for the duration of the tour.
Tipping is at your discretion; however, we would recommend approximately £12 per person for the duration of your tour. Any accompanying guides we suggest approx. £3 per person per day and for the driver we suggest approx. £1 per person per day. All tips will be collected by your guide at the beginning of your tour for your convenience. Tips are accepted in the local currency, however, it is asked that if you do not tip in the local currency that you only pay with notes, as coins cannot be exchanged.

Tour Dates & Prices

Depart UKArrive UKExtension PriceTour PriceTotal Price
2020 DATES
Marco Polo
20 May 202004 Jun 2020£129£1459£1588
03 Jun 202018 Jun 2020£129£1169£1298
09 Sep 202024 Sep 2020£129£1479£1608
16 Sep 202001 Oct 2020£129£1519£1648
23 Sep 202008 Oct 2020£159£1369£1528
07 Oct 202022 Oct 2020£159£1599£1758
21 Oct 202005 Nov 2020£159£1589£1748
04 Nov 202019 Nov 2020£159£1529£1688
18 Nov 202003 Dec 2020£159£1499£1658
2021 DATES
13 Jan 202128 Jan 2021£149£1569£1718
27 Jan 202111 Feb 2021£149£1569£1718
10 Feb 202125 Feb 2021£149£1659£1808
24 Feb 202111 Mar 2021£149£1519£1668
10 Mar 202125 Mar 2021£149£1489£1638
24 Mar 202108 Apr 2021£149£1739£1888
21 Apr 202106 May 2021£129£1739£1868
12 May 202127 May 2021£129£1439£1568
19 May 202103 Jun 2021£129£1339£1468
02 Jun 202117 Jun 2021£129£1189£1318
08 Sep 202123 Sep 2021£129£1439£1568
15 Sep 202130 Sep 2021£129£1439£1568
22 Sep 202107 Oct 2021£159£1389£1548
06 Oct 202121 Oct 2021£159£1429£1588
20 Oct 202104 Nov 2021£159£1459£1618
03 Nov 202118 Nov 2021£159£1479£1638
17 Nov 202102 Dec 2021£159£1519£1678
2020 DATES
Stella di Mare Dubai Marina Hotel
22 Apr 202007 May 2020£189£1519£1708
20 May 202004 Jun 2020£189£1459£1648
03 Jun 202018 Jun 2020£189£1169£1358
09 Sep 202024 Sep 2020£189£1479£1668
16 Sep 202001 Oct 2020£189£1519£1708
23 Sep 202008 Oct 2020£239£1369£1608
07 Oct 202022 Oct 2020£249£1599£1848
21 Oct 202005 Nov 2020£249£1589£1838
04 Nov 202019 Nov 2020£249£1529£1778
18 Nov 202003 Dec 2020£249£1499£1748
2021 DATES
13 Jan 202128 Jan 2021£249£1569£1818
27 Jan 202111 Feb 2021£249£1569£1818
10 Feb 202125 Feb 2021£249£1659£1908
24 Feb 202111 Mar 2021£249£1519£1768
10 Mar 202125 Mar 2021£249£1489£1738
24 Mar 202108 Apr 2021£249£1739£1988
21 Apr 202106 May 2021£189£1739£1928
12 May 202127 May 2021£189£1439£1628
19 May 202103 Jun 2021£189£1339£1528
02 Jun 202117 Jun 2021£189£1189£1378
08 Sep 202123 Sep 2021£189£1439£1628
15 Sep 202130 Sep 2021£189£1439£1628
22 Sep 202107 Oct 2021£239£1389£1628
06 Oct 202121 Oct 2021£249£1429£1678
20 Oct 202104 Nov 2021£249£1459£1708
03 Nov 202118 Nov 2021£249£1479£1728
17 Nov 202102 Dec 2021£249£1519£1768
Itinerary Note

The order of events and sightseeing may vary according to local conditions or for operational purposes. For this reason, we have indicated approximate times only. Your local guide will inform you of any schedule changes as they are informed of them. Some road construction and/or weather conditions may lengthen the driving times. Our intention is to adhere to the day to day itinerary as printed; however, order of events and sightseeing may vary according to local conditions.

What to expect

Fact File
Min/Max temperature

23 °C / 40 °C

When to go

Weather can vary throughout the year, so please familiarise yourself with the climate charts below.





What to pack
  • Sunglasses, Sunscreen and hat in summer
  • Warm clothing and thermals in winter
  • Long trousers and a top with sleeves (required when entering any religious sites)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Camera and charger
  • An electric plug converter - The voltage in India is 220 Volts with plugs and sockets having either grounded 3 pin connections or ungrounded 2 pin connections
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Loo paper for public WCs
  • Antibacterial hand gel
  • Binoculars
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Small day pack for excursions
  • Waterproof, lightweight jacket
  • Lightweight clothing
Tour Dossiers
Other Extensions
  • India
    Marari Beach Stay

    3 nights from £275pp

  • Kerala
    Kerala's Backwaters

    4 nights from £574pp

Here to help

Hotels & Accommodation

Other Extensions

Marari Beach Stay
Tour Route
  • UK
  • Chennai
  • Tirvuannamalai
  • Pondicherry
  • Tanjore
  • Madurai
  • Munnar
  • Cochin
  • Marari
  • UK

Nestled beside the quaint fishing village of Mararikulam, discover the untouched sandy beaches of Marari on your three-night extension within a truly tropical retreat. Whether lounging by the beach soaking up the year-round sunshine, swimming within the Arabian Sea's glistening waters or enjoying a traditional Ayurvedic massage at your hotel, the Marari extension is the ideal way to conclude your tour.

3 nights
from £275pp
View Extension
View Extension
Kerala's Backwaters
Tour Route
  • UK
  • Chennai
  • Tiruvannamalai
  • Pondicherry
  • Tanjore
  • Madurai
  • Munnar
  • Cochin
  • Houseboat
  • UK

Discover the most captivating areas, including an overnight boat cruise on the rural backwaters.

4 nights
from £574pp
View Extension
View Extension

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