South India Adventure – Exploring the Southern India from Coast to Coast
Tamil Nadu and Kerala are the two southernmost states of India, and they provide the perfect contrast to experiencing peninsular India and the two Indian coast on either end. The mountain ranges that run along the western coastline referred to as the Ghats in South India divide the region, by language, cultures, traditions, its people and their way of life.
You will pass some of the most impressive landscapes; meet and interact with locals, indulge your senses with incredible sounds, scents, tastes and textures that Southern India has to offer. You’ll journey back in time to stories of kings, of glorious kingdoms, of religions, Gods and demi-Gods. Southern India also bears strong influences of new-age forms of spirituality and community, including more recent accounts of colonization in places like Fort Kochi- A former Portuguese Colony and Pondicherry – a former French colony.
To delight your cultural and culinary curiosities, the ancient temples and local traditions with tropical spice plantations and green paddy fields in the plains make way for authentic local food, colonial influenced cuisines and culturally significant stories.
You’ll trail from the east to the west coast mapping your passage to Southern India through colonial towns, backwaters and unending stretches of coastline.
Who can do this tour?
MEDIUM INTENSITY Moderately challenging due to some long stretches of riding and weather condition.
This is a tour for anyone who wishes to soak into and take back memories of the true flavors of Southern India. Rich in history, varying flavors of foods, an interest in learning about the arts and crafts of the region, seeks an adventure, and is committed to preparing for an adventure of a lifetime. At Unventured we offer participants all necessary support, training, guidance and practice information to prepare for this tour.
You’ll start on the Eastern Coastline and journey through the countryside taking in the flavours and after you make your way up to cooler highlands and tea estates in the Western Ghats of Kerala and her tranquil backwaters. Here, a relaxing hammock by the bustling backwaters in Kerala provides the perfect setting to reflect on your 11-day bicycle adventure before heading home.
At an average of 70 Kilometers per day and 10 full cycling days, this is a moderate level tour. You’ll find yourself on mostly quiet back roads and some stretches of road riding alongside with locals on motorized transport with moderate traffic as you enter and exit the city areas.
The primary prerequisite is a love of new things and an open heart and mind. India indeed has so many things to offer that it can get a bit overwhelming. But you’ll find that life gets simpler when you spend time in the saddle and your days provide the perfect chance to reflect and soak in all that you are experiencing.
You are to arrive in Puducherry by 12 noon today. Post luch and after a bit of relaxation, and assembling your bikes, We explore this former French colony on a short evening walk, this is a great way to get aquainted meet the other riders and alos learn about this fomer French colony. The evening is reserved for a breifing session to elaborate on the tour plan, introduce you to the crew members and also get aquainted with routes and riding plan, after an early dinner we’ll hit the sack and get ready for the long riding days to come.
Accommodation Type: Boutique Hotel
• Meet and greet our fellow riders on the tour
• Walking tour of the French promenade
• Briefing session and early dinner
Starting from our hotel, we ride out of Pondicherry and soon leave the busy city for quiet back roads. Our ride distance is about 95 KMs through quaint villages and mild off- trail routes bedecked with mud huts and trails along the coastline with glimpses of the sea en route to Chidambaram. We will spend the evening exploring this temple town known for its many temples dating back to the 10th Century with intricate architecture, depicting the then social and cultural way of life.
Ride Distance: 95 KM
Accommodation Type: Heritage Home
• Coastline Ride
• Undulating terrains and local interactions
• Visit to a 10th century Thillai Nataraja Temple
The ride takes us further inland as we ride along the banks of the river Cauvery. We ride about 75 KMs and drive out the remaining 35km to get to Tanjavur. In the evening, we will visit the Royal Palace of Tanjavur which houses one of the finest collections of bronze sculptures and stone carvings in Southern India, followed by a visit to the huge Brihadiswara Temple, one of the tallest in India.
Ride Distance: 75 KMs
Accommodation Type: Heritage Hotel
• First 100 KM ride
• Stop by to visit local craftsmen working on metal sculptures
• Visit the Tanjavur Palace and Big Temple
Our next stop along this journey is into Tamil Nadu’s heartland Chettinad. The ride takes us along a less busy highway and into the heart of the countryside in the region. Renowned for its impressive mansions built by wealthy community/caste of traders known as Chettiars. Chettinadu villages and the mansions they sport are a treat to the eye. But the real flavor of this region comes to life from the kitchen that is tucked away at the rear end of these houses. The curries of Chettinad cuisine are one of world renowned flavors. These are slow cooked in copper pots over a wood stove, and are as memorable as the ride to get here.
Ride Distance: 90 KMs
Accommodation Type: Heritage Mansion
• Long ride day on open roads
• Highway lunch (traditional plantain leaf meal)
• Overnight in a old Hertiage Mansion
Today we keep the day relaxed with some amount of riding as we explore the Chettinadu region for its local food and way of life. Some of the palatial houses have been converted to boutique hotels, offering a glimpse of the past. The grand interiors of Burmese Teak and elaborate plasterwork retain much of the traditional architecture of a bygone age. We will be riding through villages, learning about the crafts, the grandeur and history of the many mansions, trailing along to Karakudi a bustling market city at the the epicenter of Chettinad. Walk about satiating your curiosity about high streets stores selling antiques from a bygone era. Post lunch we ride back to our mansion house for a relaxed evening in the pool and a cooking session in the evening.
Drive Distance: 40 KM
Accommodation Type: Heritage Mansion
• Visit local villages and marvel at the mansions
• Traditional tile factory visit
• Try local food and afternoon at leisure
Today we leave behind opulance of our heritage mansion and head out looking for culture, traditions, street food in one of the biggest temple complexes in the world. As we take the back roads to Madurai, we pass the granite quarries and workshops of the master-masons, this community has been carving temple pillars for 2500 years. Around the town of Melur we’ll see hundreds of red clay horses surrounding small village shrines – these represent the local deity who protects the village boundaries. In the evening we explore the old city one of the largest temple complexes in India. Thousands of huge stone pillars line the hallways, each adorned with different deities, that are said to represent the 3,333,333 Gods of the Hindu cosmos. A constant flow of worshipers, chanting prayers, add to the heady atmosphere of incense and camphor smoke, and make this an unforgettable experience of understanding the local way of life.
Ride Distance: 95 KM
Accommodation Type: Hotel
• Learn about old shrines and local deities of Tamilnadu
• Guided walk around the Madurai temple complex
• Evening market walk and street food of Madurai
We leave the heat of Madurai for the cool air of the Cardamom Hills, transferring 2 hours by car and crossing state borders. Our ride begins by the foot of the hills below Kumily, we ride up trailing through banana and plantain plantations, forested slopes of the Western Ghats for a slow but beautiful ascent up through the rainforest to Thekkaday, a small town close to the entrance of the Periyar Wildlife sanctuary. This region is famed for the many spice plantations that are the primary source of revenue and earnings for the locals in the region.
Drive Distance: 67 KM
Accommodation Type: Hotel
• Steep climb up into the hills
• Amazing views of hills and farm landscapes
• Visit to spice plantations
Riding from the hotel we cycle through cardamom plantations winding up and down hills and into a region of tea plantations. Stopping mid-morning for a warm cup of tea and visit the local tea factory, learning more about the tea making process. Refreshed, we continue along hilly tea plantation roads with a lunch break at a small roadside restaurant en route to Vagamon, an area of outstanding natural beauty and one of the most scenic roads in Kerala. We end the ride with a steep climb and winding descent on a quiet road and stay at an old plantation bungalow.
Ride: 55 KM
Accommodation Type: Plantation Hotel
• Short steep ascents and rolling hilly terrain
• Beautiful views of tea plantations
• Overnight at a Plantation hotel overlooking the tea gardens
Today we ride through rubber and spice plantations en route to Aleppey, known for its backwaters, waterways and beautiful countryside. Here grand Churches dot the landscape and we break for lunch mid-way tin the town of Kottayam, its busy streets and bustling traffic brings us back into the urban jungle, but just momentarily. All roads converge itowards the backwaters of Kerala, and onward to the Vembanad lake, the largest lake in southern India and the setting for the renowned book “God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy.
Ride Distance: 93 KM
Accommodation Type: Resort
• Long downhill ride
• Riding amidst rubber and spice plantations
• Overnight in a resort overlooking the backwaters
We take the coast road north to Marari Beach for our first view of the Arabian Sea, as we realize this adventure of cycling from coast to coast across South India. The many people we met, their journeys and the many interesting experiences along the way. The ride ends at Fort Cochin, with a relaxed afternoon, late lunch and celebrations with beers.
Drive Distance: 73 KM
Accommodation Type: Hotel
• Riding through villages and coastlines
• View of the beach on the western coast of India
• Explore old colonial port town of Kochi and lots of sea food
We bid goodbye to our fellow travellers and friends we’ve made en route our journey riding through coast-to-coast of Southern India, private transfers to your next destination can be arranged on prior notice.
If you wish to stay longer and ejoy Fort Kochi, we will be happy to arrange for an extended stay in Fort Kochi or onwards to any other destination in Kerala.
Unlike most tours in the region we aim to offer an end to end experience that combines the endurance with local off the beaten path experiences enjoyed in the company of like minded travellers. We’ve ensured and well planned a trail that you will endure but also have the luxury of pausing to soak in the views, stop and enjoy its beauty and celebrate a journey in the company of like minded TRAVELLERS.
On our tour we’ve ensured we put a good mix of local experiences like cooking sessions, visit to local toddy shops, temple experiences, visit local home & cottage industries , stay at a local home-stay’s in a quaint village where you can walk around the village and make conversations with the locals.
Difficulty Level: High Intensity (Challenging due to some long days of riding)
Preparedness – Physical & Mental
The Coast to Coast bike tour is truly a unique cultural experience for cycling in India. It is a great combination of long distance riding with unique experiences and insights into cultures and traditions that have shaped this land and its people. It is NOT the age or gender that will be key to a fun tour; but coming with an open mind to soak in the interesting quirks of the land and its people.
Over the years, our closely monitored training regime has helped participants not only to endure the tour but also relish every moment along the way. We’ve had instances where participants (men & women) who were NEW to cycling trained and practiced, to pedal almost all the way and completed the tour.
Your tour will be supported by a well trained mechanic, and a full repair kit with essential spares. However, we strongly encourage participants to carry their basic bike maintenance kit along. We will also be carrying a back-up cycle along the expedition; just so that nobody misses out on the riding experience should their bike have a serious breakdown.
Accommodation will be in Hotels, BnB’s and homestays with good hygienic attached bathrooms offered on a twin-sharing basis.
A team of 10-12 riders will be supported by 2 support vans with a carrier that will transport both the riders and bikes along with a spare cycle, one of the vehicles will trail the riders through the day, should any emergency occur or you choose to drive a part of the trail.