Beaches, Heritage & Western Ghats

Beaches, Heritage & Western Ghats

This itinerary combines the very best of Goa and Karnataka. History, culture, cuisines, majestic landscapes and a World Heritage Site for each day of the week – all beckon you to parts of South India often overlooked.

Karnataka is a microcosm of South India, with spectacular temples and grand palaces telling wonderous tales from bygone eras. This is the cradle of South Indian empires, where the grandeur of the Vijayanagara empire and the Chalukyas, the elegance of the Hoysalas and the Rashtrakutas, the aesthetics of the Wodeyars and the bravery of Tipu Sultan can still be felt through their imprints on this land, now considered some of the biggest architectural treasures in all of India.

All this is set in a landscape as varied as it is grand, from a glorious coastline to the bio-diverse wealth of the Western Ghats, to the boulder strewn inland plains.

Neighbouring Goa, where we start is so much more than the sandy beaches it is best known for, with rich Portuguese history in Velha Goa (Old Goa) and Goan cuisine. A scenic train ride on India’s famous Konkan Railway down the West coast brings us to cosmopolitan Mangalore, with a distinctive cuisine and early Christian history.

Proceed inland to stunning Coorg (Kadagu), nestled on the slopes of the Western Ghats. Coorg’s undulating hills, lush green forests and a spectacular landscape dotted with coffee plantations, vast tea gardens and orange groves explain why it is known as ‘the Scotland of India’. The 18th-19th century regal splendour of Mysore (Mysuru) enchants with its grand facades and lavish interiors.

If you love hiking, or coffee, or both, you’ll love Chikkmangalore (Chikkamagaluru), with its picturesque landscape, soothing climate and coffee plantations.

The newly described World Heritage Sites of the Hoysala Temples are exquisite examples of delicate stone sculptures, while the boulder strewn golden hills of Hampi are home of one of the most evocative ruins anywhere in the world.

The World Heritage Sites of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal are magnificent story-tellers of how South Indian temple architecture evolved with empires and eras.

Our circular route brings us back to South Goa, where the vibe is serene, the beaches quieter and the sands whiter – a perfect way to end this epic holiday.

20 DAYS
FROM £3595
Idea
Themes:
Activity Levels
Moderate
WHAT'S INCLUDED
  • Activities and excursions as specified
  • Entrance fees/tickets for the above
  • In-destination transfers & transport
  • Accommodation & Meals as specified
  • English speaking guides
  • 24/7 support while you travel

Explore this itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Goa
On arrival at Goa’s International airport, you’ll be met by our representative and transfer to your hotel in North Goa. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Dinner
Day 2: Goa

Enjoy the day relaxing on the beaches of North Goa this morning.

After lunch, visit the World Heritage Site of Old Goa. Goa was the former capital of the Portuguese territories in India. Belfries, baroque church facades and other artefacts of Portuguese colonial history remain in Old Goa’s preserved pedestrian enclave. The church of Bom Jesus contains the tomb of St Francis-Xavier.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3: Goa – Mangalore

A relaxed morning at your resort or at the beach at leisure.

You’ll be transferred to the Madgaon Railway Station to catch your train to Mangalore (departs 1215 – arrives 1750). This is the famous Konkan Railway route, an epic of railway engineering that runs along the coast and the Western Ghats all the way from Mumbai to Mangalore through magnificent scenery. Sit back in your luxury 2AC seats and enjoy the views.

On arrival in Mangalore, you’ll be received and transferred to your hotel for one night.

Mangalorean cuisine is one of the biggest draws here. The city retains Portuguese and Catholic influences in their food. Seafoood and pork feature prominently in dishes flavoured with coconut, curry leaves, ginger, garlic and chilli.

Tonight, you’ll dine in one of the most popular local restaurants that serve this regional cuisine.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4: Mangalore – Coorg

A morning tour of Mangalore highlights its muti-cultural nature, with Hindu temples and some fine churches which speak of Christian influences all along India’s west coast.

Drive (3.5 hrs) to the picturesque region of Coorg and check into your resort for 2 nights.

Coorg nestles on the slopes of the Western Ghats, and offers stunning vistas of undulating hills, lush green forests and a spectacular landscape dotted with coffee plantations, vast tea gardens and orange groves.

Breakfast, Dinner
Days 5 & 6: Coorg

Aptly dubbed as ‘the Scotland of India’, Coorg (or Kodagu) offers a spellbinding visual treat with its cloud-covered peaks, chirping of birds and sparkling streams, not to mention the unique, mouth-watering flavours of Kodagu cuisine.

Explore the region’s numerous walking and hiking trails, waterfalls, coffee plantations and quaint small towns over two days.

On the second evening, drive (2.5 hrs) to Mysore, the royal city and check into your hotel for 3 nights.

Breakfast, Dinner
Days 7 & 8: Mysore

Over two days, explore this ‘City of Palaces’, the former capital of the Wodeyar dynasty which ruled Mysore from 1399 right up to its merging with Independent India in 1950.

Visit the grand Indo-Sarcenic City Palace, one of India’s most opulent buildings and Chamundi Hills for India’s largest Nandi bull statue.

The city is famous for its beautiful silk, sandalwood and incense industries. Enjoy an informative and memorable visit to the famous Karnataka Silk production centre to learn all about silk, and walk through the lively Devaraja Market for a sensory delight.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9: Srirangapatnam – Ranganathittu - Somnathpur

After breakfast, leave Mysore behind and drive north (2 hrs), stopping en-route to admire sites of historical, cultural, natural and religious significance.

After breakfast, leave Mysore behind and drive north (2 hrs), stopping en-route to admire sites of historical, cultural, natural and religious significance.

First, a boat ride to admire the birdlife and peaceful nature at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. It comprises six islets on the banks of the Kaveri river, and has been a protected Ramsar site since 2022.

Then, explore Srirangapatnam, the capital of Tipu Sultan’s Mysore kingdom and site of the last and decisive battle of the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1799) which led to Tipu’s death and British control over Mysore. The site is a delight to explore, being littered with monuments, dungeons and cemeteries that evoke the spirit of the past.

Proceed to Somnathpur’s Keshava Temple with its intricate stone carvings and sculptures.

Finally, admire the giant Gommateshwara Bahubali statue at Shravanabelagola, one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for the Jain faith. The 58-feet tall monolithic statue is considered to be the world’s largest monolithic statue. The base of the statue has an inscription in Prakrit, dating from 981 AD. More than 800 inscriptions have been found at this ancient site, dating from 600 AD to 1830 AD.

Check into your hotel in Hassan for one night.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10: Hoysala Jewels

Today, enroute to the next destination of Chikmangalore (total 2 hrs drive), marvel at the brilliance of Hoysala temple architecture in Belur and Halebid, which along with the previous day’s Keshava Temple in Somnathpur are the triumvirate of Hoysala Temples that have been awarded World Heritage status in 2023.

The star shaped Chennekesava Temple in Belur has filigreed pillars and sculptures and is the only Hoysala temple still in active use for worship. The temple has exquisite artwork on its outer walls adorned with bracket figures of dancing girls in various poses.

Halebid’s Hoysaleswara Temple has intricately carved Hindu deities, sages, stylised animals, birds and friezes depicting the life of Hoysala kings.

Check into your hotel in Chikmangalore for three nights. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Breakfast, Dinner
Days 11 & 12: Chikmangalore

Over two days, explore Chikmangalore, a quaint town and region with a serene vibe, nestled in the Western Ghats. The picturesque landscape with gushing falls, a wildlife sanctuary and coffee plantations is a trekker’s delight due to the variety of mountain trails over hills, valleys and fresh water streams.

The first coffee plantations in India were here, and the coffee museum surrounded by lush coffee plantations is an excellent way to learn the interesting history, processes and varieties of local coffee.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 13: Chitradurga Fort - Hampi

After a leisurely breakfast and our last morning in the Western Ghats, we leave the delights of South Karnataka and proceed via a long drive to the jewels of North Karnataka.

First, a drive (3 hrs) to Chitradurga Fort, a hidden gem. The stunning 17th-century fort, set in unique topography with its concentric walls, gates, watchtowers, temples and secret entrances and pathways, is a photographer’s delight.

The climb up the fort is a bit challenging, and it is at its best early evening when the sun’s fury has abated and the majority of other tourists have left for the day. The setting sun’s gentle light bathes the fort in an aesthetically pleasing honeyed glow.

Drive onwards (2.5 hrs) to Hampi and check into your hotel for 3 nights.

Breakfast, Dinner
Days 14 & 15: Hampi

The capital of the mighty Vijayanagara empire, Hampi’s glory days lasted about 200 years from 1350s to 1560s, after which it fell into decline. The remains of its massive palaces, marvelous temples, fortifications, baths, markets, aqueducts, pavilions, stables for royal elephants and elegantly carved pillars are set in an spectacular rocky landscape on the banks of River Tungabhadra.

Today, this World Heritage site is one of India’s most spectacular and awe-inspiring. The majority of the ruins are located in two areas called the Royal Centre and the Sacred Centre. The Royal Centre has the ruins of palaces, baths, pavilions, royal stables and temples. The Sacred Centre is located on the banks of River Tungabhadra, in the northern edge of the city.

Explore Hampi’s treasures over two days.

If you are up for it, climbing the Matunga hill on one of the mornings to witness the stunning dawn over this magnificent landscape is well worth the effort. You’ll also enjoy a coracle (traditional circular shaped boat) ride on the river waters, a nice way to relax while enjoying the fine views.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 16: Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami

An early start to the day driving (6hrs) towards Hubli city, stopping enroute to visit the sites of World Heritage Sites of Aihole, Pattadakal & Badami. These three sites are the undoubted crown jewels of North Karnataka.

Badami is picturesquely nestled at the mouth of a ravine between two rocky hills. The exquisite sculptures in its four rock-cut caves are adorned with carved pillars and bracket figures cut out of red sandstone. The largest among the caves is the third one which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The first cave has an 18-armed Nataraja sculpture striking 81 dance poses. The caves overlook the water reservoir whose banks are dotted with small evocative temples.

Situated on the banks of Malaprabha River, Pattadakal is a testament to the richness of Chalukyan architecture. This is where Chalukyan kings were crowned and commemorated. The site has a cluster of 10 major temples, each displaying experiments and evolution of the Chalukyan temple architectural styles.

Heralded as the cradle of Hindu temple architecture, Aihole is a tranquil village on the banks of Malaprabha River. Hundreds of temples pepper the villages and fields nearby. The most noteworthy among them is the Durga Temple composed of a semicircular apse, an elevated plinth and a gallery encircling the sanctum. The Lad Khan Temple is one of the earliest temples in the region and was initially a royal assembly hall.

Check into your hotel in Hubli after the day’s cultural exploration.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 17: Hubli – South Goa

After breakfast, leave inland Karnataka behind, as Goa’s beaches beckon.

The drive (4 hrs) passes through Western Ghats on roads that curve around the hills, providing a never ending vista of rich lush greenery, interspersed with waterfalls.

Check into your hotel in South Goa, and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 18 & 19: South Goa

Enjoy two days in South Goa at your leisure to cap off this adventure.

To unwind after your Karnataka sojourn, enjoy the secluded and pristine beaches of South Goa at the utterly fabulous Cabo Serai. It’s lush tropical setting is the perfect way to end your holiday on a blissful note. The unique and delicious Goan cuisine is bound to leave a lasting imprint on your memory too.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 20: Departure
You’ll be transferred to Goa’s International Airport to catch your return flight.
Breakfast
Day 1: Arrival in Goa
On arrival at Goa’s International airport, you’ll be met by our representative and transfer to your hotel in North Goa. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Dinner
Day 2: Goa

Enjoy the day relaxing on the beaches of North Goa this morning.

After lunch, visit the World Heritage Site of Old Goa. Goa was the former capital of the Portuguese territories in India. Belfries, baroque church facades and other artefacts of Portuguese colonial history remain in Old Goa’s preserved pedestrian enclave. The church of Bom Jesus contains the tomb of St Francis-Xavier.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3: Goa – Mangalore

A relaxed morning at your resort or at the beach at leisure.

You’ll be transferred to the Madgaon Railway Station to catch your train to Mangalore (departs 1215 – arrives 1750). This is the famous Konkan Railway route, an epic of railway engineering that runs along the coast and the Western Ghats all the way from Mumbai to Mangalore through magnificent scenery. Sit back in your luxury 2AC seats and enjoy the views.

On arrival in Mangalore, you’ll be received and transferred to your hotel for one night.

Mangalorean cuisine is one of the biggest draws here. The city retains Portuguese and Catholic influences in their food. Seafoood and pork feature prominently in dishes flavoured with coconut, curry leaves, ginger, garlic and chilli.

Tonight, you’ll dine in one of the most popular local restaurants that serve this regional cuisine.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4: Mangalore – Coorg

A morning tour of Mangalore highlights its muti-cultural nature, with Hindu temples and some fine churches which speak of Christian influences all along India’s west coast.

Drive (3.5 hrs) to the picturesque region of Coorg and check into your resort for 2 nights.

Coorg nestles on the slopes of the Western Ghats, and offers stunning vistas of undulating hills, lush green forests and a spectacular landscape dotted with coffee plantations, vast tea gardens and orange groves.

Breakfast, Dinner
Days 5 & 6: Coorg

Aptly dubbed as ‘the Scotland of India’, Coorg (or Kodagu) offers a spellbinding visual treat with its cloud-covered peaks, chirping of birds and sparkling streams, not to mention the unique, mouth-watering flavours of Kodagu cuisine.

Explore the region’s numerous walking and hiking trails, waterfalls, coffee plantations and quaint small towns over two days.

On the second evening, drive (2.5 hrs) to Mysore, the royal city and check into your hotel for 3 nights.

Breakfast, Dinner
Days 7 & 8: Mysore

Over two days, explore this ‘City of Palaces’, the former capital of the Wodeyar dynasty which ruled Mysore from 1399 right up to its merging with Independent India in 1950.

Visit the grand Indo-Sarcenic City Palace, one of India’s most opulent buildings and Chamundi Hills for India’s largest Nandi bull statue.

The city is famous for its beautiful silk, sandalwood and incense industries. Enjoy an informative and memorable visit to the famous Karnataka Silk production centre to learn all about silk, and walk through the lively Devaraja Market for a sensory delight.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9: Srirangapatnam – Ranganathittu - Somnathpur

After breakfast, leave Mysore behind and drive north (2 hrs), stopping en-route to admire sites of historical, cultural, natural and religious significance.

After breakfast, leave Mysore behind and drive north (2 hrs), stopping en-route to admire sites of historical, cultural, natural and religious significance.

First, a boat ride to admire the birdlife and peaceful nature at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. It comprises six islets on the banks of the Kaveri river, and has been a protected Ramsar site since 2022.

Then, explore Srirangapatnam, the capital of Tipu Sultan’s Mysore kingdom and site of the last and decisive battle of the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1799) which led to Tipu’s death and British control over Mysore. The site is a delight to explore, being littered with monuments, dungeons and cemeteries that evoke the spirit of the past.

Proceed to Somnathpur’s Keshava Temple with its intricate stone carvings and sculptures.

Finally, admire the giant Gommateshwara Bahubali statue at Shravanabelagola, one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for the Jain faith. The 58-feet tall monolithic statue is considered to be the world’s largest monolithic statue. The base of the statue has an inscription in Prakrit, dating from 981 AD. More than 800 inscriptions have been found at this ancient site, dating from 600 AD to 1830 AD.

Check into your hotel in Hassan for one night.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10: Hoysala Jewels

Today, enroute to the next destination of Chikmangalore (total 2 hrs drive), marvel at the brilliance of Hoysala temple architecture in Belur and Halebid, which along with the previous day’s Keshava Temple in Somnathpur are the triumvirate of Hoysala Temples that have been awarded World Heritage status in 2023.

The star shaped Chennekesava Temple in Belur has filigreed pillars and sculptures and is the only Hoysala temple still in active use for worship. The temple has exquisite artwork on its outer walls adorned with bracket figures of dancing girls in various poses.

Halebid’s Hoysaleswara Temple has intricately carved Hindu deities, sages, stylised animals, birds and friezes depicting the life of Hoysala kings.

Check into your hotel in Chikmangalore for three nights. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Breakfast, Dinner
Days 11 & 12: Chikmangalore

Over two days, explore Chikmangalore, a quaint town and region with a serene vibe, nestled in the Western Ghats. The picturesque landscape with gushing falls, a wildlife sanctuary and coffee plantations is a trekker’s delight due to the variety of mountain trails over hills, valleys and fresh water streams.

The first coffee plantations in India were here, and the coffee museum surrounded by lush coffee plantations is an excellent way to learn the interesting history, processes and varieties of local coffee.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 13: Chitradurga Fort - Hampi

After a leisurely breakfast and our last morning in the Western Ghats, we leave the delights of South Karnataka and proceed via a long drive to the jewels of North Karnataka.

First, a drive (3 hrs) to Chitradurga Fort, a hidden gem. The stunning 17th-century fort, set in unique topography with its concentric walls, gates, watchtowers, temples and secret entrances and pathways, is a photographer’s delight.

The climb up the fort is a bit challenging, and it is at its best early evening when the sun’s fury has abated and the majority of other tourists have left for the day. The setting sun’s gentle light bathes the fort in an aesthetically pleasing honeyed glow.

Drive onwards (2.5 hrs) to Hampi and check into your hotel for 3 nights.

Breakfast, Dinner
Days 14 & 15: Hampi

The capital of the mighty Vijayanagara empire, Hampi’s glory days lasted about 200 years from 1350s to 1560s, after which it fell into decline. The remains of its massive palaces, marvelous temples, fortifications, baths, markets, aqueducts, pavilions, stables for royal elephants and elegantly carved pillars are set in an spectacular rocky landscape on the banks of River Tungabhadra.

Today, this World Heritage site is one of India’s most spectacular and awe-inspiring. The majority of the ruins are located in two areas called the Royal Centre and the Sacred Centre. The Royal Centre has the ruins of palaces, baths, pavilions, royal stables and temples. The Sacred Centre is located on the banks of River Tungabhadra, in the northern edge of the city.

Explore Hampi’s treasures over two days.

If you are up for it, climbing the Matunga hill on one of the mornings to witness the stunning dawn over this magnificent landscape is well worth the effort. You’ll also enjoy a coracle (traditional circular shaped boat) ride on the river waters, a nice way to relax while enjoying the fine views.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 16: Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami

An early start to the day driving (6hrs) towards Hubli city, stopping enroute to visit the sites of World Heritage Sites of Aihole, Pattadakal & Badami. These three sites are the undoubted crown jewels of North Karnataka.

Badami is picturesquely nestled at the mouth of a ravine between two rocky hills. The exquisite sculptures in its four rock-cut caves are adorned with carved pillars and bracket figures cut out of red sandstone. The largest among the caves is the third one which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The first cave has an 18-armed Nataraja sculpture striking 81 dance poses. The caves overlook the water reservoir whose banks are dotted with small evocative temples.

Situated on the banks of Malaprabha River, Pattadakal is a testament to the richness of Chalukyan architecture. This is where Chalukyan kings were crowned and commemorated. The site has a cluster of 10 major temples, each displaying experiments and evolution of the Chalukyan temple architectural styles.

Heralded as the cradle of Hindu temple architecture, Aihole is a tranquil village on the banks of Malaprabha River. Hundreds of temples pepper the villages and fields nearby. The most noteworthy among them is the Durga Temple composed of a semicircular apse, an elevated plinth and a gallery encircling the sanctum. The Lad Khan Temple is one of the earliest temples in the region and was initially a royal assembly hall.

Check into your hotel in Hubli after the day’s cultural exploration.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 17: Hubli – South Goa

After breakfast, leave inland Karnataka behind, as Goa’s beaches beckon.

The drive (4 hrs) passes through Western Ghats on roads that curve around the hills, providing a never ending vista of rich lush greenery, interspersed with waterfalls.

Check into your hotel in South Goa, and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 18 & 19: South Goa

Enjoy two days in South Goa at your leisure to cap off this adventure.

To unwind after your Karnataka sojourn, enjoy the secluded and pristine beaches of South Goa at the utterly fabulous Cabo Serai. It’s lush tropical setting is the perfect way to end your holiday on a blissful note. The unique and delicious Goan cuisine is bound to leave a lasting imprint on your memory too.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 20: Departure
You’ll be transferred to Goa’s International Airport to catch your return flight.
Breakfast

Interested in this itinerary? It's great as is, but we'll be happy to tailor it for you.

Our prices do not include international flights unless explicitly stated.

The price shown is per person, based on two people travelling and sharing a room, outside peak periods. Prices may vary depending on the time of travel, and single supplements may apply.