Spice farms, friendly villages, coconut groves, rubber plantations, coffee and tea gardens, wildlife sanctuaries, the great temples of Madurai & Tanjore, the beaches at Tranquibar along the East coast, the former French enclave of Pondicherry and the exquisite rock carvings at Mahabalipuram are on offer for you during the next two weeks while you travel through the heart of Southern India and while experiencing this Coast to Coast South India Cycling Tour. This is an ideal way to go off the usual touristy trails and meet the people and places that make up this culturally vibrant region. Your journey will also take you to great temples, remote villages and wildlife areas.
Most of the Meals
Transportation by AC car as per the itinerary
Accompanying Biking guide
Mineral water & Refreshments during cycling
Arrival at Cochin International airport and transfer to Fort Kochi. This port has seen the Portuguese, Dutch and English, making their mark on this bustling city known as the “Queen of the Arabian Sea” and trading still in tea, coffee, rubber, cardamom and pepper. You can take a short walk down the Fort Cochin area with your guide & attend a Kathakali dance recital in the evening.
We transfer a little distance and start the first day’s ride of this Coast to Coast South India Cycling Tour towards the great waterfalls at Athirapilly at the foothills of the Western Ghats. Our ride passes through the back roads, plantations of rubber, oil palms and spices as we gradually gain in altitude. Our destination is near the magnificent waterfall in Kerala and one of the largest in all of the Western Ghats. Recently this was in the news with conservationists in Kerala managing to stave off a big dam which would have irreversibly destroyed the rich bio-diversity of this region. There are projects to link the fragmented forests to ensure that the migrations of the Asiatic elephants are not hindered.
Today is a fantastic ride through the rich canopy of the Western Ghats up towards the hill station of Valparai with vast swathes of tea and forests. The area is rich in birds & mammals, many of them endemic to the Western Ghats. Keep a look out for the highly endangered Malabar Pied Hornbill and Lion Tailed Macaques which are on the IUCN Red List. The rain forests here also hold promises of sightings of the endemic Malabar Grey Hornbill, Wayanad Laughing Thrush and the Nilgiri Langurs. Elephants, leopards and gaurs (Indian Bison) are commonly spotted near the roads, as we gain in altitude to nearly 1500m at Valparai. On arrival, we will stay at a colonial Tea Estate Bungalow.
Ride downhill through the 24 ‘hair pin’ bends to the great plains of Tamilnadu, arriving at a quaint village near Pollachi. The Indira Ghandhi National Park is in the vicinity and a trip there awaits you on the second day here. The ride gives us a spectacular plains of Tamilandu through which rest of our ride would be passing through. Our stay would be at a resort set amidst a coconut grove.
Riding forward, we reach the small village on the banks of the Kamaraj Lake, near Dindigul. The scenic ride will be passing through coconut groves, sugar cane fields, small villages and towns.
The village of Athoor is itself very small and is home to a thriving farming community. Here we will stay at a beautiful county home and spend the day in the village meeting the local farmers, going on walks & bird watching.
Today we will cycle to the great temple city of Madurai. After checking into our hotel, we will visit the Madurai Meenakshi temple in the afternoon. Established in the Sangam period of the pre Christian era, this bustling town in Tamil Nadu is famous for ancient temple – the Meenakshi Temple. The beautiful architecture of some of the temples that can be seen today is attributed to this history – the architectural genius of the Meenakshi temple, the multi colored gopurams of the other temples, classical Carnatic music and bharatnatyam (a classical dance born in the temples of South).
We will take the ride through the countryside to the famed Chettiar village. Chettinad is well known for its local cuisine, architecture, and religious temples. This small town is also famed for its houses – large, colourful and with rooms numbering more than 100! This is also great countryside for cycling through the fascinating Tamil countryside with its great swathes of farmlands, rural farming communities, temples and massive Chettinad Mansions.
Our next destination in this coast to coast India Cycling tour is the town where classical arts still thrive – Thanjavur. Today also we will make a ride through the villages and countryside of rural Tamilnadu passing through vast rice growing areas of the Cauvery River Delta and the coconut plantations. You will also get an opportunity to walk through this bustling town where splendid bronze and stone sculptures from the 9th and 12th centuries are found.
Stroll through the Saraswati Mahal Library established in the 1700s containing ancient manuscripts on palm leaf, works on medicine and plenty of rare treatises. Ruled at one point by the greatest Chola king, Raja Raja Chola and Nayaks and Marathas at later times, Thanjavur is also where the Tanjore style of painting was developed. We will visit the The Brihadeeswara temple, the wonderful Palace and Art Gallery.
Today’s coast to coast south India cycling tour passes through the delta of the great Cauvery river with long stretches of rice cultivation which makes this area the true granary of South India. We will reach the coast today at Tranquibar – known as Thiranganbadi locally – a centre of Dutch conquest and trade during the eighteenth century.
Another ride along the coast and we will be at Pondicherry – the erstwhile French enclave. Here we can cycle around this last remnant of colonial France and visit both the French quarter & the ‘native’ quarter, where we stay at the well appointed restored heritage bungalow.
The final ride of this coast to coast south India cycling tour takes us along the East Coast all the way to the famed temple town of Mahabalipuram – a UNESCO Heritage area. We can take a ride around to see the architectural wonders and see the life of the people here. The temples of Mamallapuram, portraying events described in the Mahabharata, built largely during the reigns of Narasimhavarman and his successor Rajasimhavarman, showcase the movement from rock-cut architecture to structural building.
Accommodation, Most Meals, Transportation by AC car as per itinerary, Multi-geared bicycles, Accompanying Biking guide, Mineral water & Refreshments during cycling, All applicable taxes
Q. Are cycles provided for this tour?
Cycles are provided for the tour
Q. What type of cycles are provided?
We provide CANONDALE / TREK / GIANT cycles.
Q. Will I get choice of my size?
We can provide frame sizes from 13” to 21”.
Q. Can I get my own cycle?
Yes, you can, but do let us know in advance.
Q. What other equipment are provided?
Standard items provided with the cycles are Pedals, Bar ends, water bottles and Helmets. We however recommend you bring your own helmets and camelbaks.
Q. What about transfers?
All transportation is included in the cost including airport pick up & drop at the nearest airport. The vehicle is also used to ferry your luggage , cycle & yourself as required.
Q. What kind of terrain can I expect?
The terrain consists of both level roads and mountainous terrain.
Q. What are the distances cycled each day?
We will send you this with the detailed itinerary.
Q. Are meals included in the package?
Most meals are included. The itinerary will have the details.
Q. What do I do if I’m too tired to cycle?
There is a vehicle that accompanies you throughout the trip. You can load the cycle on to carriers and take a ride it till you are ready to cycle again.
Q. Are panniers provided?
No but can do on specific request.
Q. Do we have a guide who cycles with us?
Yes, our guide will cycle with you throughout the trip.
Q. Do we get to shop along the way.
Yes, you will get opportunities en-route to do a bit of shopping. However, unless specifically asked for, our guides will not recommend any particular shop. We or our guides do not take commissions on shopping.
Q. Do we get to interact with local people?
You will get lot of opportunities to interact with local people and the itinerary specifically designed for such interactions.
Q. Does our visit help the local community in any way?
Yes, Most of the places you would be staying at are in small homestays, family owned resorts or camps and eco lodges managed by local community members . Your guides are selected from amongst the locals.
Q. Are entries into national parks, treks, elephant rides etc. included in the package?
No, all entries and activities will be charged extra but at actuals.
Q. Is the water available en-route safe to drink?
We recommend that you drink only the bottled water provided by us or if you are buying water, ensure that the bottle is sealed and has an ISI mark (India Standards Institute).
Q. How spicy is the food?
Typically Kerala food is spicy. We ensure that the food we provide is medium spicy unless you ask for bland food. Any special food requirements can be met if sufficient advance notice is given.
Q. Do we get an option of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food?
Q. What is the type of accommodation?
Accommodation provided is a combination of heritage villas, Eco Lodges & luxury Tents - all with a common thread of excellence in service. Most are family owned and run with great care and love. Food is a very important part of these journeys and we have ensured that Keralan cuisine is a part of this adventure. Our prices are based on 'twin-sharing' basis. For those interested, we provide single rooms, but at additional cost. While staying at the camp we provide all essentials including sleeping bags. A open-air barbeque around camp fire is another highlight of this adventure.
Q. What are the Exclusions ?
• Insurance - Please take your own insurance
• Tips to the guide and driver
• Personal expenses like beverages, laundry, telephone bills etc..
• Airport departure taxes (if any)
Q. Do we need a VISA ?
Yes, visitors to India must obtain a Visa before departure.
"Myself and my wife joined two other cyclists and we were guided by Ratan and Jeffen.In essence, we had a wonderful time on this holiday.The cycling was well tailored to our abilities and the fact that there was always a back-up vehicle for us was a very important factor in our being able to relax and enjoy each day. It allowed, of course, people of different abilities to enjoy the same route and was a very welcome refuge particularly when the tropical heat got that bit too much for us. We were very pleased with the standard of the bicycles: this made the cycling much easier and the bikes were sturdy and well maintained: a big plus, as we did not know what to expect from the standard. We were more than happy. The accommodations we found varied and delightful: each one had a different strength and character and they were obviously chosen from experience. We were particularly impressed by the way the guides and your office dealt with our holiday very personally. We felt that we were in good hands and that our enjoyment was something that was important to you and you did not cut corners anywhere. We got on well with our guides who were always courteous, good-natured and well informed. Thank you for an enjoyable experience on our first trip to India. " -
James (Tony) Maguire - 19-Mar-15 James (Tony) Maguire 2015-03-19