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history • 8 days, 7 nights

South Indian Cinema: Film, Fandom & Abandoned Theaters

history • 8 days, 7 nights

South Indian Cinema: Film, Fandom & Abandoned Theaters

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  • Group Size 12 People Maximum
  • Activity Level
  • Travel Style
    Communities Up Close
from $4,335 USD per person
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  • Implemented expansive new safety protocols
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Trip Overview

From Bollywood to Kollywood, Sandalwood, and beyond, India’s film industries are among the most prolific in the world. In the past, the cinema halls where these films debuted were institutions themselves. Not only did they serve as portals to captivating alternate worlds, but they also became pilgrimage sites for audiences to pay respects to beloved actors and actresses. Though recent years have ushered in an era of multiplex theaters, many of these magnificent movie houses still stand. From the gleaming green exterior of the Tharangam theater to the high-ceilinged Saravanna, these structures are extraordinary relics of a vibrant architectural and cultural era. 

On this journey, we’ll explore the cities and smaller villages at the heart of South Indian cinema. As we explore abandoned theaters and active sets, we’ll trace the legacies of actors, musicians, and businesspeople integral to the industry. We’ll cast an ear to the stories of industry vets, go behind the scenes, and learn a few moves from a dance professional. Before long, we’ll find ourselves slipping into the wonderfully contagious world of fandom.

  • Spectacular old and abandoned theaters
  • Immersion in a traditional film club
  • Expert-led cinematic dance workshops
  • Behind-the-scenes glimpses into contemporary movie production


Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. We expect to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.

Additional Info


The listed price of the trip is per person based on double occupancy. If taking the Rajasthan extension, the total trip cost per person is $6,655 based on double occupancy. 

Traveling Solo?

You’re in good company. Solo travelers typically make up about half of our small groups. With curiosity at the center of our experiences, there’s a natural camaraderie that develops over the course of a trip. We have two options for you: 

Shared Room (subject to the latest Covid-19 guidelines): You’ll be matched with another solo traveler of the same gender.

Private Room: Have your own room, subject to availability, for a supplemental cost of $460 ($815 if taking the Rajasthan extension). After booking your trip, please request a private room when you fill out your traveler information form and we’ll add the option to your booking and final balance.

Arrival & Departure

Our trip begins with a welcome lunch in Chennai on Day 1. We recommend you arrive in Chennai the day before so you can settle in at the hotel and meet our guide and group in the lobby in time for lunch. Our trip concludes in Madurai, in the afternoon on Day 8. If leaving Madurai directly after the trip, we recommend departing in the evening on Day 8. If you’d like to continue on for our three-day extension in Rajasthan, the flight to Delhi also departs in the evening on Day 8. The extension concludes during the morning of Day 12 in Jaipur.

Activity Level

Travelers should be comfortable walking one to three miles over the course of each day, climbing stairs, and remaining on their feet for long periods of time. Though our pace will be relaxed, we’ll spend most of our time in busy towns, cities, and a few quiet villages. Keep in mind that we’ll be spending time in bustling and crowded places, so to have the best experience possible, travelers should be eager to fully immerse themselves in the buzzing energy of it all.

  • Seven nights of accommodation (plus four additional nights of accommodation for those taking the extension) at specified hotels.
  • All meals described in the itinerary.
  • Bottled water.
  • Transportation throughout the trip via private bus. 
  • Experienced local guides to accompany you for the duration of the trip, as well as special guests throughout.
  • Admission to all proposed activities, locations, and events.
  • Charges for one still camera at all monuments.
  • 24/7 emergency assistance through Global Rescue.
  • Transportation to Chennai and from Madurai or Jaipur.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Video camera fees at monuments.
  • Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings, including most alcoholic beverages.
  • Travel insurance (recommended.)
  • Pre- and post-trip accommodations.
  • Applying for an Indian visa, if applicable.
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Trip FAQ

If informed in advance, dietary restrictions can be accommodated for most meals. However, there will likely be several experiences throughout the trip, such as the sampling of street food and traditional meals, where special dietary requests can’t be accommodated. If you have a severe allergy, please contact us to find out if this is the right trip for you.

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Upcoming Departures

  • Oct 29–Nov 5, 2021
    from $4,335
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