SMALL GROUP JOURNEYS
Flavours of Tamil Nadu
A 12-Day Culinary Journey through Spice and Tradition
Pre & Post Tour Extensions Available
Limited to 7 guests | Escorted by Joji Jacob
20th Feb to 2nd Mar 2024
Please contact us if you wish to customise this itinerary to suit your travel needs.
Savour the Spices of Tamil Nadu
Experience the best of Tamil Nadu’s cuisine, culture, and history on this 12-day tour. Accompanied by Joji Jacob, a self-taught cook who has spent some of his days in Tamil Nadu, you will visit the significant cultural and culinary sites of the region. This comprehensive tour takes you to the most important cultural and culinary destinations in Tamil Nadu, including:
- Madurai, the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu, home to the Meenakshi Amman Temple and the world-famous Madurai Meenakshi Idli Shop.
- Chettinad, a traditional Tamil town known for its ornate architecture and delicious cuisine.
- Thanjavur, home to the Brihadeeswarar Temple, one of the most impressive temples in India.
- Pondicherry, a French colonial town with a unique blend of cultures.
- Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its temples and sculptures.
In addition to visiting these amazing places, you will also have the opportunity to:
- Take cooking classes and learn how to make some of Tamil Nadu’s most famous dishes.
- Visit local markets and learn about the different spices used in Tamil Nadu cuisine.
- Walk through the tile and brass metal cottage industries.
- Visit large and small flower and vegetable markets.
- Explore the vibrant culture of Madurai, a city known for its temples, festivals, and street food.
- Discover the unique architecture of Chettinad, a traditional Tamil town with a rich history.
- Marvel at the Brihadeeswarar Temple, one of the largest and most impressive temples in India.
- Relax on the beaches of Pondicherry, a French colonial town with a laid-back atmosphere.
- Explore the ancient temples and sculptures of Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You will also have the opportunity to learn about the different spices used in Tamil Nadu cuisine, take cooking classes, and attend cultural performances.
This tour is suitable for all levels of experience, from first-time travellers to seasoned foodies. The group size is limited to 7 people, so you can get the most out of your experience.
The tour includes all accommodation, meals, transportation, and activities. There are no hidden costs, so you can book with confidence.
This is a truly unique and unforgettable way to experience the best of Central Kerala.
Book your tour today and start planning your culinary adventure!
Chennai | Madurai | Thanjavur | Chettinadu | Pondicherry | Mamalapuram | Chennai
A foodie, self- taught cook & Tour Director @ ATI Travel NZ
Joji Jacob, a native of this region, is leading this tour. He has spent many years travelling and studying these regions and has acquired a deep knowledge of their cuisine, culture and natural wonders. He will share his enthusiasm and insights throughout this tour, showing you the hidden gems and the best spots to enjoy the local cuisine, scenery and traditions. You will learn a lot from his expertise and experience and have a memorable and enriching tour with him.
Day 1, - Chennai (Madras) - Arrival
Namaskara – Greetings from Chennai, the Gateway to South India and capital of Tamil Nadu!
Upon arrival at Chennai International Airport, one of our team members will personally welcome you and escort you to your private transportation for a comfortable ride to your accommodation.
Meals: – | – | –
Accommodation: The Accord Metropolitan
Day 2, 3 & 4 – Madurai - A Tapestry of Heritage, Architecture, Culture, and Cuisine
On day 2, we will fly from Chennai to Madurai. Our driver for the next 10 days will come to receive us at the Madurai airport with his vehicle and then transfer to the hotel.
Madurai, with a history spanning over 2,500 years, is deeply intertwined with India’s ancient heritage. Iconic landmarks like the Meenakshi Amman Temple showcase the city’s historical prominence. Its awe-inspiring architecture features ornate entrance towers and a blend of traditional South Indian design. Madurai’s culture revolves around age-old customs, with festivals like the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam showcasing devotion and heritage. Traditional dance and music forms add to the city’s cultural vibrancy.
Madurai offers a diverse culinary experience for foodies of all kinds. Breakfast includes soft idlis, crispy dosas, and flavourful Pongal. Non-vegetarian options like Chettinadu cuisine, known for its bold and spicy flavours, and fresh coastal seafood dishes, further enrich the culinary landscape. While we are here, we plan to explore Madurai through a street food tour. The cuisine will be prepared right before our eyes and served piping hot, all while being safe to consume. Approach this adventure with an open mind and indulge to your heart’s content, as this will undoubtedly be a unique and unforgettable opportunity.
Madurai is a living heritage where history meets breathtaking architecture, rich traditions, and a vibrant culinary scene. Explore this captivating city to uncover its many facets and flavours.
Option: You can join Joji on an early morning commuter bus trip to the vegetable market, an opportunity to mingle with the locals.
Meals: B | L(1) | –
Accommodation: Heritage Madurai
Day 5 & 6 – Chettinadu - Spice Symphony & Architectural Splendours
Our next destination is Chettinadu, nestled in the heart of Tamil Nadu, a destination that beckons with its grandeur and flavours that will leave you craving for more. As you explore the opulent Chettinadu mansions, architectural marvels adorned with intricate woodwork, stunning courtyards, and vivid tilework, prepare to be transported back in time. These grandiose residences stand as a testament to the wealth and magnificence of the Chettiar community, offering a glimpse into the past that’s nothing short of breathtaking.
But Chettinadu isn’t just about captivating history; it’s also a gastronomic paradise that promises to tantalise your taste buds. Indulge in the rich and aromatic Chettinadu cuisine, where each dish is a symphony of flavours that dance on your palate. Picture yourself savouring the bold and spicy Chettinadu Chicken Curry or delighting in the fragrant Chettinadu biryani, a dish that weaves a tapestry of spices like no other. The liberal use of aromatic ingredients infuses every bite with a tantalising depth that will leave you craving more.
As you wander the charming streets and savour the delectable Chettinadu cuisine, you’ll discover that this region is not just a destination but a sensory journey through grandeur and flavour. Chettinadu invites you to step into a world where history and cuisine merge seamlessly, creating an unforgettable experience that will linger in your memory and leave you yearning for another visit. Come, indulge your senses and embark on a journey of grandeur and culinary delights in the heart of Chettinadu.
Meals: B | L(1) | –
Accommodation: Chettinadu Mansion
Day 7 – Thanjavur - Cultural Splendour, Magnificent Architecture, and Timeless Music
During our stay in Thanjavur, we will experience the enchanting city of Thanjavur, where cultural magnificence, stunning architecture, and timeless music blend together. The breathtaking Brihadeeswarar Temple, featuring its towering vimana intricately decorated with carvings, is a masterpiece that seems to touch the heavens.
Besides its impressive architecture, Thanjavur is also renowned for its delicious cuisine, offering a delightful journey into South Indian flavours, from crispy dosas to Tanjore-style sweets that will tantalise your taste buds. This city is also filled with the melodies of Carnatic music, seamlessly blending history and culture to create a sensory voyage through time and tradition. Thanjavur beckons you to immerse yourself in its rich heritage, promising a magical experience that will leave you enchanted and longing for more.
Meals: B | – | –
Day 8 & 9 – Pondicherry - Creole Fusion and French Bakery Delights
Discover Pondicherry, where history and culture meld seamlessly, offering a captivating blend of flavors and artistic inspiration. This former French colonial enclave boasts charming architecture that whisks you back in time, with elegant mansions and lush gardens setting the stage.
However, what truly sets Pondicherry apart is its culinary experience. Here, coastal seafood delicacies infused with aromatic spices coexist harmoniously with exquisite French pastries that will transport your taste buds to new heights of delight. The city’s culinary diversity is a testament to its rich heritage.
Pondicherry is not just about history and cuisine—it’s also a vibrant artist community. Galleries and artistic residences dot the streets, providing endless inspiration. Whether you’re indulging in mouthwatering dishes or immersing yourself in artistic creativity, Pondicherry is where culture, cuisine, and creativity converge to create an unforgettable journey.
Meals: B | L(1) | –
Accommodation: Grand Hotel D’Europe
Day 10 – Mahabalipuram - Coastal Charms and Seafood Treasures
As our culinary journey winds through the 12-day adventure, our second last destination awaits—Mahabalipuram. This coastal gem on India’s east coast promises captivating experiences that will leave an indelible mark on your journey. Explore pristine beaches and savour the tranquil ambience that soothes the soul. Witness UNESCO-protected rock carvings, a testament to ancient artistry etched into massive granite boulders.
Engage with skilled artisans, witnessing their craft come to life in intricate sculptures. Savour mouthwatering seafood cuisine, a symphony of spices and coastal flavours that tantalise the palate.
On the way to Chennai, we will visit Kanchipuram, the “City of a Thousand Temples.” Marvel at its grand temples, each a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture. The region is also known for silk sarees and rich traditions.
Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram offer a captivating expedition blending history, art, culture, and cuisine, leaving you yearning for more.
Meals: B | – | –
Accommodation: Ideal Beach
Day 11 & 12 – Chennai Departure!
We have reached the end of our ‘Flavours of Tamil Nadu’ foodie tour. It brings us great joy to take our guests on such journeys and introduce them to the serene pleasures of South India.
This is not merely a culinary expedition but a soul-stirring encounter with Tamil Nadu’s multifaceted flavours and culture, leaving indelible imprints of wonder and enchantment. Join us on this extraordinary odyssey, and let Tamil Nadu’s rich tapestry of experiences captivate your senses and spirit.
We offer an inclusive airport transfer service to Chennai International Airport for those returning home today. We eagerly await your return for another exhilarating ATI Travel experience. Namaskaram!
We offer tour extension options for guests who want to stay longer in India. Here are a few suggestions:
Tour Extention 1 – (3N/2D) Chennai city experience from NZ$500
Tour Extention 2 – (6N/7D) Heritage train journey, hills, tribes and village experience from NZ$1200
Tour Extention 1 – (4N/3D) Bangalore city experience from NZ$1000
If you haven’t yet booked your tour extension, kindly get in touch with us for more details.
Meals: B | – | –
Group Organiser Discount Available
A group organiser (4-10) can avail up to $2000 discount on a twin share package price. Please contact us for further details.
- Airport meet and greet with private transfers
- Private air-conditioned coach
- Handpicked boutique accommodations
- Private cooking classes
- Meals as per trip note
- English-speaking local guides
- All entrance fees, tips & gratuity
- Guaranteed departure with just 5 guests
- Visa fees
- Travel Insurance
- Medical Tests & other medical expenses
- Personal expenses
REQUEST DETAILED ITINERARY
Call Joji on +64 (0) 21 505 713
WhatsApp Joji on +64 21 505 713
Why should you join our escorted Culinary Journeys?
* A small-group (max 7) tour means better access to your guide for questions
* Discover authentic local cuisine
* Learn about the eclectic cuisine while getting to know the locals
* Learn the stories behind each item you try, meet local artists
* Learn about the local lifestyle, markets, temples, and architecture
* Street food walks
* Expand your knowledge of Indian cuisine on this exciting food tour
* No need to worry about stopping to pay at each venue, as food tastings are included
* Explore a variety of eateries, including Chef’s homes, restaurants, cafes and local joints
* Real hands-on experience
* Shop for fresh ingredients at the local markets
* Master the spice secrets behind dishes
* Prepare and eat four separate dishes in an authentic home kitchen
* Take home various chef’s original recipes
* Factory tour
* Family style lunch
* Wine tour – Discover the local wine
* This tour is perfect for foodies visiting India for the first time
* Sit back and relax in a private air-conditioned vehicle
An ideal trip for:
Solo Traveler, Group of Friends, Couples
If you want a rich and truly authentic experience of the region(s) being visited in a slow and well-paced manner as part of a small group of like-minded people who appreciate the personal care and attention provided to them, then this is the trip for you.
Safe Travels with ATI
We are uniquely qualified to ensure your well-being when travelling with us.
Our local partner offices work tirelessly with us behind the scenes
Our local suppliers and partners know our health & safety requirements, and our requirement to comply with all local regulations.
We follow the health and safety protocols required for your journey
All protocols involving physical distancing, vaccinations, masking, testing and other safety practices are communicated both before and during your journey. These protocols are carried out according to the latest local regulations and service provider requirements.
We facilitate in-country COVID-19 testing and provide round-the-clock support for any health-related matters
ATI’s network of local offices has the contacts and knowledge to support you throughout your journey, from coordinating COVID-19 testing (for travelling between countries and returning home) to answering any questions you have during your journey. Our local partners are experienced in handling any situation and have the contacts and knowledge to support guests 24/7.
ATI Travel will constantly monitor its safe travel plans to comply with global health and safety protocols
In the event that the tour director has to isolate, the tour will continue with the tour director remotely managing the tour in conjunction with the local team members.
If any of the guests have to isolate, all arrangements will be made to find accommodation and their medical support. This is not included in the package costs and must be covered by the individual’s travel insurance.
The guest can join the tour after the required isolation and clearance if the tour is still active. In the event that the tour has been completed, the guest will be supported to make their return passage home.
We Got You Covered
Something for everyone
Whether you are a first-timer or experienced traveller, our tours meet the expectations, needs and interests of each individual on the tour. Our guests continuously tell us that it surpasses all their expectations.
This tour is suitable for guests who do not mind travelling that extra mile in search of those unique experiences. If you are interested in culture, cuisine, architecture, people interaction and textiles, you will love this tour.
Boutique accommodation, handpicked by us, for you to rest and rejuvenate in beautiful settings such as palaces, homestay, mansions, farm stay, business hotels and glamping is part of the travel experience we curate for you.
Travel in comfort
We provide airport to airport service, for your comfort and safety. Your private vehicle and the English speaking driver will accompany you throughout the journey. Check out the feedback we have received from our guests.