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 & 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 Coast to Coast. 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.
Day 1: Kochi
Arrival at Kochi. Meet & assist at the 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.
Day 2: Athirapilly
We transfer a little distance and start the first day’s ride 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.
Day 3: Valparai
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.
Day 4: Pollachi
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.
Day 5, 6: Athoor
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.
Day 7: Madurai
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).
Day 8: Chettinad
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.
Day 9, 10: Tanjore
Our next destination is the town where classical arts still thrive – Thanjavur. Today also we will make a transfer after our ride through the villages and countryside of rural Tamilnadu with its vast rice growing areas of the Cauvery River Delta and the coconut plantations. 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.
Day 11: Tranquibar
Today’s ride 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.
Day 12: Pondicherry
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.
Day 13: Mahabalipuram
The final ride 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.
Visitors to India must obtain a Visa before departure. You can consult the nearest Indian Embassy/ High Commission/ Consular Office for the same.
Our guides have been adequately trained in first aid and always carry a comprehensive first-aid kit. In case of any medical emergency we have facilities to transfer you to the nearest hospital immediately.
You will be put up in Heritage Hotels, Villas, eco-lodges & camps.
The weather is tropical and warm. Monsoons months are June to September.
Transportation (sometimes including airport transfers) are included in the cost. The vehicle with roof top carriers will accompany throughout. We provide qualified cycling guide for the tour.
Food is a very important part of these journeys and we have ensured that the local Cuisine is a part of this adventure. Refreshments and bottled mineral water are provided on all cycling days. Any special food requirements can be met if sufficient notice is given.
During the cycling there will be opportunities to do some shopping and money spent along the way goes directly into the hands of the local communities.
What to bring
Warm Clothes (Fleece, Jackets, Gloves, Caps)
Binocs & Camera (optional)
Sun screen lotion
Bike type: Cannondale/ Trek / MERIDA
Number of gears: 21-24
frame range: 16 - 21
Bike bag provided: No
Water bottle holder provided: Yes
Water bottle provided: No
Adjustable handlebars: No
Female saddles provided: No
Gel saddles provided: No
Option to fit own saddle: Yes
Option to fit own pedal: Yes
Bar ends : No