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New rough Tamil Nadu/Kerala itinerary (long!)

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I've done a bit more work since my last post and all the helpful comments. Following is a new rough itinerary developed with an Indian based company.

A bit of background - we are very excited about the prospect of 8 to 10 weeks in India starting mid January, 2014. Typically in an 8-10 week itinerary we break it out as follows:

· first 3 weeks - lots of travel with multi night stops - we're starting in South India
· middle 2 to 3 weeks - villa/apartment rental where we relax and entertain ourselves, usually by figuring out the local markets and cooking (which we love) - Likely Goa
· final 3 weeks - more travel with multi night stops - in this case the North/maybe Nepal

Our interests in priority are:

· historical importance
· art and architecture
· animals
· scenery

By no means is "scenery" unimportant to us -- but it is meant to give you some perspective about our interests.

My comments on the itinerary below so far are:

- it's 29 days - I would like to trim 3 or 4 days although I could live with 29 if it is the best
- assumes private car/driver (I'm assuming an Innova?)
- Hotels TBD - getting the itinerary nailed down first
- there are too many two nighters, but I am coming to realize how hard it is to change that because of the driving distances involved - any recommendations for compressing some stops to elongate others?
- I didn't include all the sightseeing trips.....made it too long to reasonably ask anybody to read but there are lots of sightseeing opportunities
- I have spent a lot of time considering Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary .... looking at pics/videos/reviews. The reviews are inconsistent - I realize we won't see tigers but would like some average or above average animal viewing. Maybe better to do wildlife when we get to the North? That would free up 2 nights
- similarly I am starting to wonder about a 2 night houseboat trip from Kumarakom to Alleppey.....I loved the idea of 2 nights but based on what I've read perhaps that is too long - indeed maybe just a day trip?
- the TO added the Hassan two nights - haven't investigated that yet.

Day 1 - 5 (4 nights)
Arrive Chennai-Mahabalipuram ( 55 Kms/ 1 & ½ Hrs)
Overnight at hotel

Day 5 (1 night)
Mahabalipuram-Pondicherry ( 130 Kms/ 3 Hrs)
Overnight at hotel

Day 6 -7 (2 nights)
Pondicherry-Chidambaram-Tanjore (190 Kms/ 5 Hrs)
AM-Drive to Tanjore, en-route Visit Chidambaram
PM-Visit Tanjore
Overnight at hotel

Day 8-9 (2 nights)
Tanjore-Thirumayam Fort-Chettinad ( 100 Kms/ 3 Hrs)
AM-Drive to Chettinad en-route visit Thirumayam Fort
Overnight at hotel

Day 10 (2 nights)
Chettinad-Athangudi- Madurai ( 95 Kms/ 2 & ½ Hrs)
AM- Drive to Madurai, en-route visit Athangudi Tile Factory
Overnight at hotel

Day 12 - 14 (2 nights)
Madurai-Periyar ( 160 Kms/ 4 Hrs)
Overnight at hotel

Day 14 (1 night)
Periyar-Kumarakom (140 Kms/ 4 Hrs)
AM-Drive to Kumarakom, PM-Free for independent activities
Overnight at hotel

Day 15 -17 (2 nights)
Kumarakom-Alleppey- Houseboat
AM-Drive to Alleppey, on arrival board Houseboat
Overnight in Houseboat

Day 17 -19 (2 nights)
Houseboat-Alleppey-Cochin ( 62 Kms/ 1 & ½ Hrs)
De-board at Alleppey, drive to Cochin
Overnight at hotel

Day 19 (1 night)
Cochin-Coimbatore (190 Kms/ 4 & ½ Hrs)
AM- drive to Coimbatore, rest of the day free
Overnight at hotel

Day 20 -22 (2 nights)
Coimbatore- Coonoor ( 60 Kms/ around 01 & ½ Hr)
Hill Train No- 564 ( Train at 1315 Hrs /1745 Hrs)
De-board at Ooty
Overnight at hotel

Day 22 -24 (2 nights)
Ooty-Wayanad ( 120 Kms/ 3 Hrs)
PM- free
Overnight at hotel

Day 24 - 27 (3 nights)
Wayanad-Mysore ( 135 Kms/ 3 & ½ Hrs)
Overnight at hotel

Day 27 - 29 (2 nights)
Mysore-Hassan (140 Kms/ 3 & ½ Hrs)
Overnight at hotel

Day 29
Hassan-Shravanbelagola-Bangalore ( 195 Kms/ 4& 1/2 Hrs)
Bangalore-Goa (Flight)

If you're still reading - thanks for any comments!

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