Enchanting South India Bike Tour

  • Get to see the very best of Kerala – sandy beaches, meandering backwater canals, the lush green hills and thick wilderness
  • Experience a little bit of France in India at the seaside town of Pondicherry.
  • Get upclose to the coastal village life of Tamil Nadu, passing through scenic fishing villages and seeing them buzzing with activity as the catch comes in.

From coastal South to east of South India, starting from Kochi and ending in Chennai, this tour takes you through two contrasting; backwaters and hills of Kerala to rural & coastal sides of Tamil Nadu.

A trip into the heart of Tamil Nadu gives you a chance to peek into the 2500 years old Dravidian civilization. The state is particularly known for centuries old temples and brilliant architecture. Along with a slice of history, expect to cycle down pristine coastlines, forested mountains and bucolic small villages where children run to greet you with a big smile. Gorge on fresh seafood at local haunts picked out by our experts and soak in some of India’s beautifully detailed rock carvings in laid-back Mahabalipuram. You also have a short rendezvous with the French colony, Pondicherry with perfect spots for yoga sessions.

Quick Facts

  • Duration

    13 days / 12 nights

  • Start / End

    Kochi / Chennai

  • Hotels

    Premiere Inns

  • Riding Style

    Easy Rider

Group Departures

PRIVATE TRAVEL

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GROUP TRAVEL

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ITINERARY

Brief Itinerary

* with shuttle
DayPlacePremiere InnsDuration~ Cycling Distance
1KochiXandari Harbour1
2 – 3AlleppeyPurity250km / 30mi*
30km / 18mi
4ThekkadySpice Village150km / 30mi*
5MaduraiHeritage Madurai160km / 36mi*
6 – 7ChettinadChettinad Visalam Hotel250km / 30mi*
8ThanjavurSvatma160km / 36mi*
9KumbakonamMantra Koodam170km / 42mi
10 – 11PondicherryMaison Perumal270km / 42mi*
30km / 18mi
12MahabalipuramTaj Fisherman’s Cove Resort & Spa170km / 42mi*
13Departure

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Cochin

Meet your trip leader at the hotel and head out to see Fort Kochi by foot.

One of the foremost trading hubs on the western coast of India, Fort Kochi drew colonial interest with its aromatic spices. Along with traders from China, Portugal, Arab and Holland, in came a cocktail of religions, cultural practices and diverse food. Kerala owes it cosmopolitan vibe to the traders who braved the seas to come to this land.

Later, in the evening, go to see the traditional dance form, Kathakali (you can also see the face painting before the show). After the show, we will have dinner at a seaside restaurant known for seafood and indian delicacies.

There is a lot to pack in this day, but be well rested for the night as we start early on next day.

Meals: Dinner

Day 2: Alleppey

A classic coastal ride along a beautiful stretch of white sandy beach on one side and unevenly spread serene backwaters on the other. Ride through small fishermen villages, lush coconut trees and plentiful fish farms and enjoy a picnic lunch at the beach. The ride finishes at your hotel in Alleppey.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~50km / 30mi

Day 3: Alleppey

Ride through the narrow lanes and experience a fabulous bird life before arriving at Kumarakom, situated right at the edge of mesmerising Vembanad Lake.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 30km/18mi*

Day 4: Thekkady

This is going to be a beautiful ride – from the backwaters to the mid lands of Kerala and that too, through the rubber plantations.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 50km/30mi*
Shuttle time: ~ 2.5 hours

Day 5: Madurai

We take in the spectacular views of western ghat mountains before descending to Madurai. As you are riding, the 360 degrees view of the lush green forest will be forever etched in your minds.

Madurai one of South India’s oldest cities and has been a centre of learning and pilgrimage for centuries. This is where Mahatma Gandhi took the decision, in 1921, to wear nothing but khadi (homespun cloth). Khadi textiles and tailors’ shops are everywhere in town.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 60km/42mi*
Shuttle time: ~ 2 hours

Day 6: Chettinad

It’s best to visit the main temple early in the morning when its relatively less busy. Meenakshi Amman (Sri Meenakshi) temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati. The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2500-year-old city of Madurai. The temple complex houses 14 magnificent Gopurams or towers including two golden Gopurams for the main deities.

We ride to Chettinad, famous for its cuisine, architecture and temples. The evening is at leisure.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~50km / 30mi*

Day 7: Chettinad

Today the day is at leisure and you can plan your own day. Take a walk in nearby village or spend time reading a book.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Thanjavur

After breakfast, we ride into the adjoining temple village, Thanjavur. The World Heritage–listed Brihadishwara Temple is the main highlight here with its large Maratha Palace complex. Thanjavur is dotted with beautiful living temples in the entire region and we head out with a guide to see the important ones. The village is also known for its bronze paintings that can be bought as souvenirs.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: 60km / 30mi*

Day 9: Kumbakonam

Today is a classic coastal ride past typical rural hamlets.

Kumbakonam dates back to a historically significant period and were ruled by many distinguished dyanaties of India – the Early Cholas, Pallavas, Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Pandyas, the Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks and the Thanjavur Marathas. It rose to be a prominent city between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, when it served as a capital of the Medieval Cholas.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: 70km / 42mi

Day 10: Pondicherry

Today we ride to Pondicherry, a former French colony, which still has its colonial ambience intact in cobble-stoned streets, bright cafes, and architecture style in most of the buildings.

Head out in the evening to explore the Pondicherry town. You can walk along the main Goubert Avenue where the whole town congregates in the evenings for walks as the breeze from the sea makes the weather ever pleasant.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: 70km / 42mi*

Day 11: Pondicherry

This morning, we ride to Auroville. A unique township, Auroville was constructed to include communities from all over the world, based on the vision of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. It wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. It has ballooned to encompass more than 80 rural settlements spread over 20km, and about 1800 residents. If you’re really interested in the philosophy it’s worth the ride out to the visitors centre to find out how it all works and eat some great food at the café.

You can also try your hand at surfing in the mild waves of the Tamil Nadu coast or take a quick dip with scuba experts on this day.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Distance cycled: 30km / 18mi

Day 12: Mahabalipuram

A coastal ride takes us to Mahabalipuram. Famous for its ancient rock carvings, especially the Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram was once the second capital and seaport of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram. Mahabalipuram is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and the 9th centuries and remains a renowned centre for stone carving. As you enter into the village, you’ll see and hear the constant tapping of hammer and chisel as artisans chip away at exquisite sculptures.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: 70km / 42mi*

Day 13: Chennai

After the morning exploration of Mahabalipuram age-old temples, we take a transfer to Chennai. Explore a bit of Chennai if you have the time. The hot sultry seaside city represents a wonderful cusp of traditions and contemporary lifestyle. Visit the busy Mylapore temple area to see pilgrims buzzing in and out of the famous temple and the streets drenched in a splash of colour.

If you have time, we recommend to extend at the beach for few days before departing from Chennai.

Meals: Breakfast

*With shuttle – short transfers.

YOUR BIKE

Scott, Marin, Giant, Trek

When you have a road and the thrill of a journey ahead of you, it’s imperative to have a good bike to enjoy it. All our bike tours in Kerala run on some of the best hybrid bikes in the cycling tour industry (and we maintain them meticulously). Upright position, good traction and optimal balance between performance and comfort are some of the characteristics.

MEET THE LOCAL SPECIALIST

Dibin Devassy

Dibin Devassy

From Art of Bicycle Trips

After six years, Dibin was happy to leave Dubai’s clinically clean environs and come home to exploring the wonderfully unkempt and thickly green landscape of good old Kerala on his cycle. Amongst the diverse Kerala experiences, Dibin loves the traditional cuisines and organic farming methods the most! If he’s not scouring through the Kerala trails, you will find him hooked to movies with an intellectual tug; Into the Wild is his favourite! He is a native of Thrissur, Kerala.

REVIEWS

from our friends

“This Classic Kerala cycling tour provided a fabulous introduction to India and avoided most of the negatives associated with this country. The whole family enjoyed the trip with its wide variety of activities to suit everyone – quite a challenge given the range of ages (6, 13, 15 and 17) of our four children. The route selected for riding made cycling on Indian roads an enjoyable experience – we felt safe allowing our six-year old to ride much of it, and went through some stunning scenery. We bought our six-year old’s Islabike with us and the bikes that were provided were excellent – all worked well and came equipped with optional handlebar bags and mini LED lights. We had some great food and the accommodation selected was delightful with Fort House, Kaivalyam Retreat, the Houseboat and Marari Flamingo deserving special mention. The limited TV and internet meant we spent lots of quality time together as a family playing cards and board games in the evening – a real bonus. The support team was excellent – friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, spoke good English and drove safely. Thank you Dibin for making this tour so enjoyable and I highly recommend this tour to others.”

Penny, Simon and familyHK

“Classic Kerala was a great adventure!!!!!!!! The sights, smells and scenery were all unforgettable. The trip description promised “a ridiculous amount of green” and we were not disappointed. We enjoyed the variety of bicycling experiences through many different terrains. Dibin was impressive as a superb guide. He and the driver, Dipu, were both very knowledgeable, helpful and shared their culture freely. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS TRIP!!!!!!!”

Nancy & RichardUS

Stan’s group and GinaUS

“I feel great! It was a dream vacation for me. I would do it again (but don’t feel like I need to be pampered quite so much!). I didn’t hold any expectations going into it, just curiosity, but had I held any expectations the trip surely would have surpassed them. I am a little afraid that future tours I may take may not be as delightful, challenging and balanced.”

GinaUS

” It was a glorious trip, with miles of beautiful scenery, fabulous bright colours, exotic aromas and lots of music. The Art of Bicycle crew looked after all our creature comforts, made sure our bikes were in good nick and made every effort to make sure we had a great trip. We certainly saw a lot more than we would have been able to from a coach and we built up good appetites for the splendid food.”

Penny HammarUS

“I really enjoyed it. Fantastic time and experience and very good staff.”

David SmithUS

“It was a great experience and a wonderful family cycling holiday for us – cycling in Kerala enabled us to feel so much more part of the place than seeing it through the car window! Some of the route was quite challenging in the heat but also rewarding. It was especially great when we arrived at or departed from the overnight stays on bike. I would certainly recommend this to others.”

Suzanne and familyUK

“I would thoroughly recommend this trip – it was simply magical! We were a little worried that this was a local company of whom we knew nothing and we have been used to the large global operators in this field. We need not have worried at all. The itinerary was perfect and, with the interludes of visiting tea, rubber and cardomom plantations and spice gardens, we had a perfect mixture of cycling and interesting things to do. The bikes were great and the hotels were a very good choice. The terrain was challenging, as its quite mountainous, but we did not need to get off and push at all, as all the climbs were just steady, slow hills, not steep at all. We got up to over 7,000 feet at one time and the views were simply breathtaking! Our guide, Thomas, was wonderful, with his perfect English, he was both charming and interesting as well as caring and thoughtful. Selvam was much more than just a driver as he was at all times looking after us and keeping his eye on how we were doing, stopping at just the right time to give us rest, fresh water and food, exactly when we needed it. If we tired, and we did sometimes, then he was more than ready and willing to pack up the bikes and take us into the cool interior of the car for a while. All in all it was a really good week and the very best cycling tour we have done anywhere in the world, and that is saying a lot….. as we have done cycling holidays in England, France, Italy, Cuba and Croatia. This one beat them all hands down!”

VivienneUK

“All in all we feel that we had a fantastic trip – cycling is a superiour way to expereience Kerala! Our guides as well as our driver were terrific – very accommodating and informative. There were several highlights but outstanding for us was the kerala backwaters on day 2 and the houseboat on day 8. Well Done!!”

Shelley & JoeCanada

“Great tour, all round. Very good mix of cycling and sightseeing/activities. Excellent driver. Guide – Very good knowledge + explanation. Leader – Great all round.”

BruceAustralia

“Dibin is an excellent guide thoughtful assessed how we rode and ammended the program to suit. We like the mix of cycling and sight seeing, riding 55K then relaxing on a boat. A great trip all round.”

LindseyAustralia