India with Worldview Tours

This item appears on page 54 of the May 2011 issue.

I love India. I visited again at 83, traveling with my 60-year-old son on the 16-day “Ancient Heritage of South India” tour, March 6-23, 2010, with Worldview Tours (Newport Beach, CA; 800/373-0388). It was offered with no single supplement, making it affordable for us.

I would certainly recommend Worldview Tours, whose Nino Mohan assured us that even if few people signed up, the tour would still go. As it turned out, we had a driver and air-conditioned Toyota SUV all to ourselves. All arrangements went as planned, and we were contacted twice while on tour to see if we had any requests.

We traveled from Chennai on the Bay of Bengal to Kochi on the Arabian Sea, with visits to Mamallapuram, Pondicherry, Tanjore, Madurai, Periyar, Kumarakom, Bangalore and Mysore. We made our own arrangements for two days in Mumbai.

The land price for the two of us with separate rooms was $4,380. We were expected to tip our daily guides and, at the tour’s conclusion, our driver.

I cannot say enough about our excellent driver, Jaya Paul. He watched over us when we wandered and told us more about South India than the guidebooks.

We saw hills of bright-green tea plantations and rice paddies; saw rubber trees and spice plantations, and learned about salt reclamation and how temples are an integral part of family life. We watched bronze casting, woodcarving and silk saris being woven — all on a family basis, not machine production.

People we encountered were gracious, helpful and eager to please. We saw beauty everywhere — colorful garments, decorated lorries, incredible carvings on the temples and flower offerings to the gods.

I worried that I might be too old to be taking such a long trip. Age turned out to be no problem. I did not get sick, and my only complaint was that my feet got sore walking barefoot in the temples.

The tour’s best part? All of it!

Concord, NC