Coast to Coast Bike Tour
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.
Journey 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. This cycling tour will certainly transport you into civilizations before. 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. Add to this, a chance to tap your adventurous side and trying surfing and scuba diving. The trip is planned as a mélange of food, culture, classical music, temples, history and a great cycling topography.
Kochi | 13:00hrs
70km or 42mi
Min. 2, Max. 14
Gods own countryGet to see the very best of Kerala – sandy beaches, meandering backwater canals, the lush green hills and thick wilderness
|DAY 1||Kochi||Fort House||D|
|DAY 2||Alleppey||Pamba Heritage Villa||B,L,D||75km / 47mi||cycling|
|DAY 3||Vagamon||Winter wale||B,L,D||63km/39mi||cycling|
|DAY 5||Madurai||JC Residency||B,L,D||75km/47mi||cycling|
|DAY 6||Chettinad||Chettinad Mansion||B,L,D||75km / 47mi||cycling|
|DAY 7||Chettinad||Chettinad Mansion||B,L,D|
|DAY 8||Thanjavur||Ideal river view hotel||B,L,D||90km / 56mi||cycling|
|DAY 9||Kumbakonam||Indeco Swamimalai||B,L,D||72km / 45mi||cycling|
|DAY 10||Pondicherry||Anantha Heritage||B,L,D||85km / 53mi||cycling|
|DAY 11||Pondicherry||Anantha Heritage||B,L||25km / 15mi||cycling|
|DAY 12||Mahabalipuram||Ideal beach resort||B,L,D||85km / 53mi||cycling|
|DAY 13||Chennai||Grand Chennai||B,L|
Day 1: Kochi
Meet your trip leader at the hotel, post-lunch at 13:00hrs, 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, came a cocktail of religions, cultural practices, and diverse food. Kerala owes its 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 the next day.
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. See the birdlife in action with egrets, cormorants, herons, kites, kingfishers, ducks, and many more. A short stop to see the art of making traditional boats, locally called “Kettuvallom”. They make wooden boats both for backwaters and sea.
We may also see coconuts, cut into halves being dried under the sun. The dried coconuts will be further pressed in the oil mills nearby to make the coconut oil. From curries to Ayurvedic oils, coconut and its oil is an essential part of daily life here.
Other common sights that you may see – People collecting clams by diving in and out of the backwaters, small village fish markets and auction centers, ladies walking door to door for selling fish, fishermen returning from sea, and Christian churches almost every few kilometers.
We keep biking through small fishermen villages, lush coconut trees, and plentiful fish farms.
The ride finishes at your hotel in Alleppey.
Day 3: Vagamon
From below sea level village in Alleppey to the hill station of Vagamon, the lands transforms from rice fields & lakes to rubber plantations & valleys.
We take an hour vehicle transfer to cycling start point. A hilly ride, with both dips and steep climbs, but the shades of plantations help you grapple with this challenging ride better. The last 15 km of cycling is an uphill ride all the way to the hotel.
Vagamon is an enchanting hill station where you can either relax or indulge in outdoor activities like easy hikes or explore nature trails.
Day 4: Thekkady
This is going to be a beautiful ride – from the tea gardens of Vagamon to Cardamom Hills of Thekkady, with few coffee plantations in between. It’s the last day for hills and is yet another challenge.
The birdlife is plenty with mynas, parakeets, drongos making calls, and flying from one tree to another.
Thekkady and surroundings are known for forests and spice plantations. The queen of spices, “Cardamom”, is native to these hills of Thekkady.
Day 5: Madurai
We take in the spectacular views of the western ghat mountains before descending to the neighboring state Tamil Nadu.
Cycling through many villages with banana plantations, vegetable farms, vineyards, and windmills we reach the town of Theni. Post cycling we have around 2 hours of vehicle transfer to Madurai.
Madurai one of South India’s oldest cities and has been a center 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.
Day 6: Chettinad
It’s best to visit the main temple early in the morning when it’s 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. Today look forward to your stay at Chettinad Mansion, more than 100 years old the palatial home of Kanadukathan village.
Day 7: Chettinad
Today the day is at leisure and you can plan your own day. Chettinad is home to the Chettiar community, a wealthy merchant class family from Tamil Nadu. With palatial houses that used to host life celebrations, festivities, and rituals, the village has a story to tell of its glorious past. Most of the palatial 18th century mansions that one will get to see here were built using materials imported from east Asian countries and Europe about 100 years ago.
The celebrated Chettinad cuisine is one of the spiciest and the most aromatic in India. The fresh ground masalas give it the distinctive integrity in taste. The cuisine that is pre dominantly non-vegetarian stretches out into interesting snacks and delectable vegetarian dishes too. At Mansion, one can learn to cook Chettinad cuisine with the Aachi(elderly lady) from the village.
Aathangudy, a village situated about 10 Kms from Visalam is a place famous for its hand made tiles. There are over one hundred small scale tile factories in this village where the entire tile making process is carried out by human hands.
The famed Chettinad's Cotton sarees and textiles are woven on in small handloom home units across Chettinad. A couple minutes walk away from Mansion is one such handloom unit making the most vibrant Indian textile.
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.
The village is also known for Thanjavur dolls, Thanjavur paintings which can be bought as souvenirs.
Day 9: Kumbakonam
Today is a classic ride where we pass through small villages and see plenty of rice fields on one side and the river Kaveri flowing on the other.
Kumbakonam dates back to a historically significant period and was ruled by many distinguished dynasties 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. The town reached the zenith of its prosperity during the British Raj when it was a prominent centre of European education and Hindu culture; an apt moniker, “Cambridge of South India” was attributed to the city. Kumbakonam is known for its temples and religious groups, called ‘maths’. There are around 188 Hindu temples within the municipal limits of Kumbakonam. Apart from these, there are several thousand temples around the town thereby giving it another apt sobriquet, the ‘City of temples’.
Day 10: Pondicherry
The ride to Pondicherry is slightly long but not difficult. It’s easy to pace up given that there are no major climbs. You will find fishing villages and salt plains, as you ride along the breezy sea. A former French colony, Pondicherry is a quaint seaside town with cobble-stoned boulevards, bright cafes, buildings remnant of French architecture, and the famous Aurobindo Ashram. The town was distinctly divided into the Black (local) and White (for Europeans) town and has a vast amount of history and architectural interest.
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.
Day 11: Pondicherry
This morning, we ride around 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 center 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.
Day 12: Mahabalipuram
After breakfast enjoy a gorgeous ride to Mahabalipuram through the coastal route; the East Canal Road (highway) stretches along the coast and you can detour anytime into the untouched beaches for a quick dip. Cycling is easy as there are no ascents – you will only have to hydrate yourself a lot due to the clammy weather. 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 center for stone carving. As you enter the village, you’ll see and hear the constant tapping of hammer and chisel as artisans chip away at exquisite sculptures.
Day 13: Chennai
Mahabalipuram is a very small town, most of which you can cover on foot. It wakes up to the sound of sculptors’ chisels on granite, creating impressive sculptors, which make for great souvenirs. You can browse hassle-free and buy from the fixed-price Poompuhar Handicrafts Emporium or from the craft shops that line the main roads. Explore the lighthouse and take a guided trip to the temples of Mahabalipuram.
After the morning exploration of Mahabalipuram’s 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 color.
Day 14: Departure
Please make arrangements as per your onward travel.
Dates and Prices
Couldn't find a trip with convenient dates?
Open your date as a join-in tour or customize further as private one.
We offer private departures on almost all our itineraries, and for groups of four or more, they cost the same as our standard trips!
All hotels as mentioned in the tour details (subject to availability). All options are personally reviewed.
Expert Trip Leader(s) who look after your every need and add meaning to your vacation.
Immaculately maintained bike with helmet, suited to a terrain.
A Van support that follows the group of riders and carries all belongings.
Meals as per itinerary. Guests are given the opportunity to dine on their own so that they discover a location independently.
Refreshments and mineral water while cycling.
Entrance fees to most of the monuments and temples.
Airport pickup and drop
We recommend to book direclty from airport or hotel.
Some meals may not be included. Please check your itinerary.
Beverages such as alcohol, tea, coffee, juice at a hotel or restaurant.
Reviews from our friends
Thang Nguyen from AU5.0
had a great trip
We had a great trip, biking from Kochi to Chennai. Our group of 3 made up of one avid young cyclist, and two elderly newbies. The avid biked ahead at twice the speed, so Ajesh, the van driver, followed/led her thru the daily course. Muthu - the guide- and the newbies followed later. Muthu helped shield the crazy Indian traffic from the newbies. We all had a good time. We rode early into sunrises over beautiful countryside, sampled exotic fruits and local cuisine, stayed in historic mansions or local boutique hotels, smelled different Indian spices, visited old majestic temples, and took photo with many warm wishers from villages. There were not many foreign tourists back roads, so we were quite noticeable and welcome. The traffic was just crazy and nerve-racking at times for us newbies coming from the US and riding on the right side of the road (not that it mattered), although Muthu did his best to shield us from the traffic, and re-route the route to less traveled rural roads. Experienced bikers might be more comfortable with traffic though. We would rate the trip higher otherwise. Guide Muthu and driver Ajesh were great: friendly, helpful, professional, timely. We enjoyed their company.
Sheila Wong from UK5.0
true immersion in the sights, sounds, and smells of South India
The Kochi to Chennai ride is a true immersion in the sights, sounds, and smells of South India. It is suitable for adventurous riders. There’s some tough hills going through the Western Ghats (days 3 & 4), with rest of the ride through Tamil Nadu mostly flat. The guide and driver were friendly and attentive. The lodging and food are good. The historical sites visited, especially the ones in Mahabalipuram, are wonders.
Lael Hinds from US5.0
We had a wonderful experience
We had a wonderful experience on our bike trip in Tamil Nadu. The two guides were exceptionally friendly and helpful, the driver was also wonderful. I would recommend riding with this tour company without reservation! Thank you for a wonderful time!
End of reviews