India & South Asia Journeys with

South Asia is a kaleidoscope of immensely colorful people and places filled with spectacular art, architecture and ancient history writ large across innumerable cultures and sub-cultures. Belief systems are bewildering in their complexity and manifestations, and always fascinating to outsiders. Co-existing with superb human achievement is a saga of human endurance as so many struggle—with surprising grace—to survive in chaotic cities and impoverished countryside, where everyone and everything is under pressure. The contrasts are striking and unforgettable; the images, flavors, scents and sights indelible. In the exotic bazaar of South Asian destinations and experiences, South India and Sri Lanka are the most compelling, made for visitors exhilarated by new discoveries at every turn of a corner or page of a menu. Chennai, Pondicherry, Madurai and Ramshwaram are the journey's South Indian urban highlights featuring extraordinary temple architectures. Sri Lanka brings beautiful landscapes to bear, adventurous experiences afield on safari, and the incredible Navam Perahera celebration—one of the world's most colorful processions. Lodging is in highest-quality accommodations available: 4 and 5-star boutique hotels in the cities, safari lodges in the field.

for 2016...
Extraordinary Hindu temples, British Colonial legacy towns, a 100-elephant parade & Asian wildlife safaris
February 8
Exploring South India & Sri Lanka
Chennai, India
+ air

Day 1 (Rendezvous Day): Group members rendezvous in Chennai. Tour the city by private car and on foot. 5-star hotel night in Chennai.

Day 2: Drive south to Mahabalipurnam. Visit the 7th Century AD UNESCO World Heritage Site rock-cut sculptures. Continue to French-flavored Pondicherry and walk the old cobbled French Quarter. Night in Pondicherry.

Day 3: Explore Pondicherry’s Tamil Quarter and the Ganesha Temple with its 40-odd depictions of the widely worshipped elephant-headed god. Return to Chennai and fly to Madurai, home of South India’s most spectacular high-rise temples. 5-star hotel night in 2,500 year-old Madurai.

Day 4: Tour Madurai's UNESCO World Heritage Site Meenakshi Amman Temple covered with thousands of brilliantly-colored stone statues of gods & goddesses from Hindu mythology. By train travel 160 km to Rameshwaram at India's tip. A 4-star hotel night.

Day 5: Tour the Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple and its famous mandaba, the longest non-Pentagon corridor in the world. At Land's End see the Indian Ocean meet the Bay of Bengal. Night in Rameshwaram.

Day 6: Morning free to explore
Rameshwaram. Return by train to Madurai for the night.

Day 7:Fly to Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka. Tour the city and walk the seaside Fort District. A 5-star boutique hotel night in the city.

Day 8: Drive northeast to Kandy, Sri Lanka’s most famous temple town and gateway to the Sri Lankan hill country. Explore Kandy town and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Temple of the Sacred Tooth. Walk in the hills to visit colorful Hindu & Buddhist shrines.

Day 9:
Drive to Nwara Eliya and through the famous tea plantations of Sri Lanka. Night at a former tea factory converted to a beautiful hotel with sweeping views over tropical forest.

Day 10:
After a tea factory visit drive to Uda Walawe National Park, Sri Lanka’s premier wildlife park featuring hundreds of Indian Elephants, leopard, sloth bear and large herds of wild buffalo. Night at a 4-star safari lodge.

Day 11: An early start for an Uda Walawe safari. Drive south to Tissamaharama, the base for excursions into coastal Bundala National Park. Embark on an afternoon safari through the wetlands rich with birdlife and abundant crocodiles. A 5-star lodge night.

Day 12: Drive west on the coast road to the UNESCO World Heritage Site town of Galle, a former fortified Dutch town. At Wellgama Bay observe the famous Sri Lankan stilt fishermen perched on the poles. Walk the Dutch Quarter, night in Galle.

Day 13: Day free to walk the ramparts and bastions of Galle Fort, the Dutch Quarter and shop the New Town. Night in Galle.

Day 14: Fly to Colombo in the morning. Afternoon free, then gather to witness the evening parade of a hundred ornamented elephants in Sri Lanka's world-famous Navam Perahera procession. A 5-star boutique hotel night in Colombo.

Day 15: Tour Colombo's environs and attend the spectacular finale of the Navam Perahera celebration on this Evening of the Full Moon. Night in Colombo.

Day 16: Morning free to visit the Sri Lankan National Museum, the country’s premier cultural institution. Dine south of Colombo in Mount Lavinia on a rocky promontory overlooking the sea. Night in Colombo.

Day 17:
Fly to Sigiriya. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Lion’s Rock of Sigiriya", an ancient citadel built on top of a giant basalt plug. Continue to UNESCO World Heritage Site Anuradhapora, Sri Lanka’s most extensive archeological complex and its capital for a thousand years. End the day in Dambulla in a 5-star boutique country inn.

Day 18: Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Cave Temples of Dambulla. Drive to Sigiriya and depart by air for Colombo where the Calidex journey comes to a close.

Scroll down for the Photo Galleries

  • The British imprint on Chennai and the city's colorful dynamism;

  • The monolithic stone carvings of Mahabalipurnam;

  • The French imprint and legacy in Pondicherry;

  • The spectacular, sculpture-clad UNESCO World Heritage Site tower temples of Madurai;

  • The exotic regional dishes of South India from sweet to searing;

  • The Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameshwara and its pillar-flanked corridor—the longest in the world except for the U. S. Pentagon;

  • The tropical delights of seaside Colombo;

  • Kandy and the Temple of the Tooth where a molar from Buddha raked from his funeral pyre is secreted away;

  • The rippling green tea plantations of interior Sri Lanka;

  • Hiking the hills and tribal paths around Nuwara Eliya and Kandy;

  • On safari in the world-class wildlife parks of Sri Lanka;

  • The dazzling night-time Navam Perahera celebration featuring a hundred or more ornamented elephants and hundreds of costumed musicians and performers, all illuminated by a full moon
Mahabalipuram monolithic stone carvings near Chennai, India
The world-famous Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, India
The Valluvar Kottam Monument, Chennai—a temple chariot replica
The Ramanathaswamy Temple mandapa—a portion of the longest temple corridor in the world, Rameshwaram, India
On safari in Uda Walawe National Park, Sri Lanka
The fantastical full-moon NavamPerahera procession underway,Colombo, Sri Lanka
Dambulla Cave Temple, Sri Lanka
Stilt fishermen near Galle, Sri Lanka


A 25% deposit secures your slot plus full payment for Indian & Sri Lankan domestic airfares. Upon receipt of your deposit you'll receive a trip kit with maps, detailed day-by-day itinerary, a clothing & equipment list, flight information, health precautions and other essential information. Trip price includes all lodging, ground transportation, guides, village entry fees, many meals, safaris & excursions. Please click on How to Reserve to review cancellation and refund policy. To reserve space, call or e-mail us with your contact information.

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