Asia + The Middle East Southern India Cultural richness, jungle clad hills, coffee estates, golden beaches From the cultural riches of Tamil Nadu – with its painted temples – to the natural riches of Karnataka, where jungle-clad hill country is dotted with rice paddies, coconut palms and banana plantations before giving way to coffee and cardamom estates higher up in the coolness of the hills, the southern states are one of the country’s most intriguing regions. Down on the coast in Goa, there’s a Bohemian buzz, but everywhere throughout this off-the-beaten-track region, the pace is relaxed and the crowds (even at the great cultural sites) almost non-existent. In most of southern India, both your guide and choice of hotel are key; some areas simply don’t have any good guides and we know to bring them in from other areas when necessary. Accommodation is gradually improving, though it is still not up to the standard of Rajasthan or parts of Kerala. Knowing which properties to use – and particularly which rooms within those properties is essential in this part of the world. Stories Places to Stay Highlights Location Stories As every one of the holidays we create is truly tailor-made, all of our clients come back with different and interesting stories. We love to hear from our clients on their return to find out about their most memorable moments. Our Destination Experts are also always travelling to our extraordinary destinations and every trip allows us to refine and add value to our clients' future experiences. Festival fun in Jallikattu Whilst driving through a remote part of Tamil Nadu, Alice's guide spotted beautifully decorated bulls, and because he was a local he knew what was taking place nearby. What followed was an extraordinary encounter for Alice. Find out more Christmas In Southern India After her divorce, one of our clients made a promise to herself to never stay at home at Christmas again and to spend them travelling to far flung places of the world. This particular Christmas was spent in Tamil Nadu, getting to grips with the Indian Gods Find out more A First Experience of Southern India The colour and vibrancy was the first thing that struck Mary when she first visited Southern India. Each different part she ventured to offered her something different but the colour of everything that surrounded her will always be in her memory. Find out more A Thoughtful Reflection of India David Farrant spent 18 days travelling from Delhi to Jaipur, moving from one majestic city to the next. His extraordinary journey was shared with many different people, experiencing beautiful sights mixed with the vibrancy of day to day life in India. Find out more Exceeding all expectations Before Alex Wix visited Tamil Nadu, famed for its temples, she was apprehensive that she might get 'templed-out' but with the help of an expert guide she was fascinated by the history of the temples and ancient Hindu customs. Find out more SAMPLING THE FLAVOURS OF SOUTHERN INDIA Penny Buckley, our Asia + The Middle East destination expert, visited Chettinad in Tamil Nadu to experience the culinary delights of Southern India. Here, at this gastronomic hotspot, she learnt how to cook traditional Indian recipes. Find out more Travelling through the stunning South Teresa Buckley visited the South of India with her daughter Penny, travelling from Chennai to Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. They visited many beautiful places on their trip, enhanced by the knowledge of their local drivers and guides who gave them a unique insight into this fascinating country. Find out more Show All Places to Stay At cazenove+loyd, we have no vested interest in the hotels, lodges, boats, trains and tented camps which we select. We only choose what is right for a particular client. We visit each destination in our three regions on a regular basis and have detailed conversations with our clients on their return so our choices are continually refined. Here are just four c+l reviews. This is by no means a prescriptive list, but hints at what we look for and value in places to stay. Palais de Mahe Sitting in the centre of the French quarter of Pondicherry, Palais de Mahe is in an ideal location amidst the area’s bougainvillea lined streets and colourful colonial style houses. In keeping with the surrounding aesthetics, this charming French heritage house turned hotel is the perfect place to relax after a day exploring the city. Find out more Ahilya by the Sea, Goa Ahilya by the Sea is situated at the far end of Coco Beach in Goa near the quiet fishing village of Nerul. Currently serving as a modest guesthouse, Ahilya is set to fully open in September this year. We hope that this charming little gem will successfully match the qualities and expectations of its sister, Ahilya Fort in Central India. With only a small number of individually decorated rooms, al fresco dining and personal touches, we at cazenove+loyd are very excited about this new opening. Find out more The Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad The Falaknuma Palace is one of the main reasons to visit Hyderabad, to also stay here is a real treat. Apart from the incredible views over Hyderabad, the wonderful architecture, grand interiors and attentive service, there is something very distinctive about each room and the love and dedication that has gone into its ten year restoration. This makes it one of Taj’s most opulent Palaces yet and with no motor vehicles allowed inside the grounds it is a tranquil destination to begin or end a unique holiday in India. Find out more The Leela Palace, Chennai We feel The Leela Palace is the best place to stay in Chennai. It is one of the most charming hotels in the Leela group and unlike any of the other hotels in Chennai it is located on the coast with glorious views out onto the Bay of Bengal. Our personal choice is a room or suite with a sea view, as waking up in the morning to the great expanse of blue sea is a wonderful way to start the day. Although not particularly attractive on the outside, the interiors of The Leela Palace are very luxurious and tastefully done. Find out more Highlights For over 20 years we have been creating the best luxury tailor-made holidays, we know our countries inside and out and really know how to get under the skin of each one and the best way to experience them. PONDICHERRY Pondicherry’s picturesque old quarter is enchanting with its lovely seafront promenade, shuttered houses, Catholic churches, and here even the police officers still wear traditional French uniforms. Pondicherry is a peaceful town and relatively easy to explore on foot or by bicycle. Find out more Step Back in time in Mysore Mysore has a long history of eminent dynasties which ruled from it and as a result has a vast collection of Royal palaces, and it is often called the ‘The City of Palaces’. Combined with its many beautiful parks and shaded avenues and the pleasant climate, it is a peaceful highpoint of a visit. Find out more the architecture of Hyderabad Hyderabad has a wealth of historical architecture, museums and cultural sights and the utterly luxurious Taj Falaknuma Palace provides the perfect base from which to explore them. With direct flights to the UK, a few days in Hyderabad works very well at the beginning or end of an itinerary to Southern India. Find out more EXPLORE THE HISTORIC SITES OF CHENNAI Chennai is a jewel of the country and strikes an alluring balance between the modern and the traditional - a modern day metropolis with a distinct old - world charm that can’t fail to please and is a great first stop-off before exploring deeper into Tamil Nadu. Find out more Location We know Southern India better than most. The possibilities are endless and ever-changing. On the map below, we have plotted some of our current favourite places to stay, some c+l highlights and a few pertinent client stories. And you can see if there is a team member travelling in that particular country and link through to them and what they are up to, so you can get them to call you on their return. Best time to visit Southern India Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to go Best Visited between November to March, though the coast has a slightly extended season as it’s less humid and has a breeze. Many enter India to visit the South via Chennai in which case a combination of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka work well as a longer itinerary. However, especially if entering India via Mumbai, combining Kerala and/or Karnataka with Rajasthan (entered via Udaipur) is a good combination. Meet the Team Asia + The Middle East Venetia Chris Penny Florence Auriole We'd love to hear from you Our well travelled Destination Experts have extensive first hand knowledge of their destinations and can open doors that others simply can’t.