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SOUTH INDIA - Kerala fishermen

In an age-old tradition, which is surprisingly effective, local Keralan fishermen throw huge nets into the sea, then slowly pull them in, harnessing a wealth of fish in the process.

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Houseboats were traditionally used to carry grain stores up the Backwaters of Kerala. Luxuriously adapted, they now the offer the unique chance to travel these nature-filled network of waterways.

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Walk among smiley locals as you wander the relaxed streets in South India.

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SOUTH INDIA 3A Farmers In Kerala Original

An ox-drawn plough races through the paddy fields of fertile Kerala.

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A warm traditional Indian welcome, offering flowers and a blessing.

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South India Chinese Fishingnets Fort Cochin

Watching the sunset behind the iconic Chinese fishing nets in Cochin makes for a memorable experience, especially from aboard Brunton Boatyard's boat.

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Everyday life in India – you’ll be surprised how much even a tiny shop can sell; bananas, cigarettes, even gasoline!

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SOUTH INDIA Taj Falaknuma Palace Facade At Night

Feel history seep from the walls of Hyderabad's Taj Falaknuma Palace, which boasts marble staircases, lavish chandeliers and rare objects d’art. It really is as grand and magnificent as it looks – a real-life fairytale!

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SOUTH INDIA - Taj Falaknuma Palace Dining room

Dine in stately grandeur in the opulent dining room of the Taj Falaknuma Palace and re-live the history of the Nizams of Hyderabad.

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South India Tamil Nadu Tanjore Temple

The stone temples in Tanjore are decorated with bas-relief figures and make for the perfect place to shelter from the sun while watching busy Hindu temple life unfold. 

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SOUTH INDIA Private Dinning On Beach

South India has a great buzz but sometimes it’s the quiet, peaceful spots that give you the lasting memories, like this scenic dining experience in front of lapping waves at the Taj Exotica in Goa.

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400 kilometres west of the Malabar coast lies the dazzling Lakshadweep Islands. Above water, find a deserted paradise and below, discover plentiful corals teeming with colourful fish.

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Pick through the exotic bazaars of Goa to immerse yourself in local life.

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A glittering morning scene as the fishermen set off on Marari beach, Kerala.

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South India Swaswara

The gentle pace here means that you can rest and rejuvenate in the natural surroundings.

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Marvel at the vibrantly coloured carvings that greet you at Chidambaram, one of Tamil Nadu's most exotic Hindu temple complexes.

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Multi-tiered brass lamps are lit by worshippers in temples across Kerala.

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SOUTH INDIA - Tamil Nadu (7)

The coastline of Tamil Nadu, remote and windswept, is largely off the tourist track. Come here to discover a chilled out pace and friendly welcome.

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Locals climb the swaying palm trees with ease to pluck coconuts.

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Be enchanted by a unique lifestyle aboard your traditional houseboat, drifting up the fertile canals and lagoons of Kerala’s Backwaters.

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SOUTH INDIA - Marari Beach Resort, Mararikulam, Kerala,

For an alternative and atmospheric beach break, Marari Beach in Kerala can't be beat. This laid-back resort consistently gets great feedback from our clients.

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SOUTH INDIA - marari beach, fish basket

Rise early to experience the bustle of the morning catch coming to shore at Marari Beach. Potential buyers line the beach to choose the day’s catch straight from the fishing boats. Fresh fish is a staple part of every Keralan’s diet – often laced with fiery chillis!

 

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SOUTH INDIA - Leela Kimpinski Goa

At the Leela Kimpinski in Goa, expect staff to go the extra mile to make your day. Al Fresco dinner surrounded by water lilies and candles? Not a problem.

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Philip Kutty's Farm is a luxurious private homestay in Kerala's Backwaters which offers a peaceful eco-friendly escape, coupled with amazing Ayurvedic treatments. You’ll feel totally re-junevated after a stay here.

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SOUTH INDIA - elephants at Periyar National Park

Watch magnificent elephants take a refreshing drink in the Periyar National Park. Keep an eye out for tigers too!

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SOUTH INDIA - Goa

Set on an idyllic spit of land in north Goa overlooking the ocean, ‘Elsewhere – The Beach House’ is a simple but charming 3 bedroom Portuguese-style house with just the friendly staff, fishermen and egg-laying turtles for company… bliss.

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SOUTH INDIA - Coconut Lagoon, Kerala

Accessible only by boat, Coconut Lagoon resort in Kumarakom, set amongst glistening lagoons, lakes and coconut plantations is a seriously serene spot. 

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SOUTH INDIA - Pondicherry Church

Explore the fine colonial architecture of Pondicherry and be sure to stop by this vast Roman Catholic church, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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Gaze out at views like this from one of our favourite hotels in Goa, Ahilya by the Sea.

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SOUTH INDIA - Coconut Lagoon

Use your time in the Backwaters to gain an understanding of daily life on these sleepy Keralan waterways. In between the rice paddy fields are a criss cross of canals, which locals use for transport.

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South India: Best time to go

Not only do the palm-fringed beaches of Goa, the idyllic Backwaters of Kerala or even be it the general slower pace of life, drive visitors south, but so do the comfortable yet still glorious sun-bathing temperatures. Cooler breezes spreading across from the west bordering Arabian Sea can make for a much-needed break if having soaked up the Golden Triangle heat.

The dry season (DecemberMarch) is the ideal time of year to visit southern India. Use these reliable months to visit India as a whole, but especially for exploring the calmer southern states at a comfortable temperature ranging between 20-30°C. Although an experience, we wouldn’t recommend exploring Kerala’s Backwaters for the first time, during a tropical storm. Instead, travel through peak season for guaranteed wall-wall glorious sunshine, to be wonderfully enjoyed at some of Goa’s tranquil beach resorts. 

If the warm temperatures aren’t enough to encourage you to stop south during a bespoke tour of India, then maybe the chance to fully immerse yourself into some of India’s culturally magical and colourful festivals will. December is packed with exciting dates to fill your diary. From the third week until mid-January the temple town of Mahabalipuram works with southern state - Tamil Nadu Tourism Board, to bring the Mahabalipuram Dance Festival. A 20-day celebration of India’s culturally rich and diverse folk-dance scene. Another great festival to attend during a winter sun escape, is the renowned Chennai Music Festival – a season spanning across nine weeks showcasing talented professional and amateur musicians from across the country. It’s important to bear in mind, that because of these festivals and the desirable weather, planning your Christmas escape during southern India’s peak season, can result in higher hotel prices and busier crowds.

Come spring (AprilMay) temperatures start to climb reaching 40°C and humidity in the tropical south can be too intense, just in time for monsoon season. India is subject to two monsoons, the southwest and northeast. The former, which is more significant, comes in from the west Arabian Sea and hits the coastal state of Kerala from early June. Precipitation levels circle the coastal areas, west of the Western Ghats during the summer months (JuneAugust). However, these months are considered the best for rejuvenation therapies. According to Ayurvedic traditions, the body’s pores are fully open during the tropical heat – allowing them to absorb the oil rich treatments. So, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to spend some time relaxing at our recommended favourite Kumarakom’s Coconut Lagoon to experience some Keralan traditions.

To avoid disappoint, move across to Tamil Nadu for an alternative slower southern taste of India. With the cool breeze reaching in from the Bay of Bengal, the summer months are much drier here - the perfect weather to explore the Dravidian style Hindu Temples the state is famed for and celebrate the local festivals of Tamil New Year. Most of Tamil Nadu's rainfall sweeps in during October and November from India's second hit of monsoon season, this time from the northeast. So, if travelling during transitioning periods, it’s imperative to be aware that changing seasons could be unreliable - late or early and potentially partial to the odd burst of rain all throughout the country.

N.B. All information given here is to the best of our knowledge, however, changes do occur, sometimes at short notice. Ampersand cannot be held liable for such happenings. Of course, if you have any tips that you feel would benefit other travellers, please pass them onto us and we will add them.

There are direct flights from UK to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Direct flight times are between 8 - 10 hours. India has an excellent network of domestic flights and combining the north and south is easy.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate visa(s) for your trip.

The easiest way is to apply online (www.indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html) up to 4 months before your arrival in India. A recent square passport style photograph against a white background will need to be uploaded with your visa application – this should be no bigger than 1MB and saved in a PDF or JPEG format. You will also need a clear image of the picture page of your passport, which should be no bigger than 300KB and can only be in a PDF format – both of these can be done with a good smart phone. The visa fee is US$ 75 per passenger and should be paid right away. The application will not be processed until payment has been made.

If you would like to use a visa service to process your visa on your behalf, we recommend CIBT Visas. They have expert knowledge in visa requirements, and are dedicated to ensuring that obtaining your visas is as efficient and hassle-free as possible.

CIBT provide various levels of visa service, including detailed information about which visas and documentation you and your party require, clear and user-friendly application forms, and a full concierge service to manage your application from start to finish. There is a team of experts on hand to offer advice, and liaise with embassies on your behalf.

Ampersand can personally endorse the services CIBT provides, and our partnership secures a 20% discount on all CIBT services fees for our clients. We would highly recommend speaking to a specialist at CIBT to determine which service would best suit your needs.

You can begin the process of finding out which visas you require and how to apply by following this link. This will log you in to the Ampersand CIBT account, securing your dedicated discount. For more information, please contact the CIBT visa team on 020 7593 6100 or info@cibtvisas.co.uk, or discuss with your Ampersand consultant.

It is essential to visit your GP as soon as possible to check if you need any vaccinations prior to travel. Risk for vaccine preventable diseases can change at any time. MASTA (Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad) can supply a quick and easy online Travel Health Brief. This includes easy to understand vaccination advice for single or multi-country trips. Their website is www.masta-travel-health.com

London - Chennai: 10 hours
London - Bangalore: 10 hours
London - Hyderabad: 9 hours 40 minutes

London - Goa: There are no direct flights from London to Goa. The best route would be to fly via Mumbai. With a short connection, the flying time is usually 12 hours 35 minutes.

London - Cochin: There are no direct flights from London to Cochin. The best route would be to fly with Emirates via Dubai. With a short connection, the flying time is usually 12 hours 30 minutes.

We highly recommend you reconfirm your onward and return international flights at least 72 hours prior to departure.


Client Testimonials

We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had dealings with. Everything – from the individual care and attention in helping to plan the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round.
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India

From our Instagram

A luxury holiday to #Goa feeds the soul and the senses 🇮🇳🌅
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Attracting three million tourists every year, the #tokyotower has quickly become Tokyo's international symbol since its opening in 1958. 🗼
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Our Africa Specialist captured these memorable moments during their recent stay at @matetsivictoriafalls 🦓🐘
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Today marks #InternationalTigerDay & we couldn’t be happier that #India’s wild tiger population now touches almost 3,000! 🐅🐅🐅
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'Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever' 🙏
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Today, 2nd October 2019, marks 150 years of celebrating Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. The celebration of Gandhi Jayanti is observed in India as a national holiday, where ceremonies and tributes are conducted across the nation.
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If you would like to celebrate this special time of year in India, do get in touch and let us help you plan a trip for 2020. 🇮🇳
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As the year begins to draw in, here at Ampersand HQ we've been thinking about where our adventures in 2020 will be, but where will be yours? 🌍
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Will it be on the soft white sand beaches of #Cambodia @songsaaprivateisland, indulging in the colourful cuisine of #Vietnam, rejuvenating at @vanajourney, #India, hiding away beneath the #okavangodelta or exploring the endless shrines and Temples found in #Japan...
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It's never too early to start planning! For inspiration, get in touch with one of our experts today to start your 2020 adventure.
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