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Best of South India

Duration
15 Days
Prices From:
US$ 3,110

Immerse yourself in the many sights, cultures and colours of South India.


This 15-day adventure takes in the diversity and spectacle of India from Chennai to Mumbai.

Start your journey in Chennai, also known as Madras. A stop at the Government Museum helps put some perspective on your discoveries before exploring Georgetown, Britain’s first Indian outpost, the modern downtown core, and the historic eastern section of the city. A more spiritual side of India awaits at your next stop, Kanchipuram, home to beautiful temples and 58 shrines.

Stop overnight in Mahaballipuram, with time to visit the Shore Temple. This city is actually a World Heritage site with some amazing archaeological remains. Going on to Pondicherry, you’ll find even a French influence has worked its way into India. Broad boulevards, bakeries and Mediterranean style houses are common here, but there’s more to the city than its imported culture. This is home to a spiritual community established by Shri Aurobindo, a prominent Indian philosopher and yogi through the first half of the 20th century. You’ll also explore the Gothic Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

A more traditional style of Indian spirituality can be found at the Thilali Natrajah Temple, Dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. You’ll visit here on your way to Tanjore, the ‘Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu.’ Going on to Madurai, visit the Ganapati Temple complex (Bring comfy shoes. The sights here are worth the climb!). Later in the evening, observe a sacred Aarti ceremony at the Meenakshi Temple, then return during the day to see this architectural marvel in detail.

Thekaddy lets you see a very different side of India, one that boasts some of the world’s most colourful wildlife. You have an excellent chance of spotting endangered species here, particularly at dawn. Your onward journey takes you through sleepy villages and rice paddies for a glimpse of everyday India before you reach Cochin, one of the country’s most relaxed ports. A morning tour takes you to the highlights including the Paradesi Synagogue (we told you India’s diversity was endless). In the evening, a Kathakali dance performance will exhilarate you. You’ll even have a chance to see the artists getting ready before the show.

Finally, fly to Mumbai, the modern commercial hub of India and centre of the country’s Bollywood film industry. This is a huge city packed with sites, and an afternoon tour will help you make the most of your time. Even in Mumbai, there is room for tradition. Snap a quick photo of the laundrymen at work at dhobi ghats, then finish your tour at the majestic Gateway of India. A morning cruise out to Elephanta Island is your last planned activity, but you’ll have a full afternoon at leisure to explore the energy and colour of Mumbai.

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Duration
15 Days
Prices From:
US$ 3,110

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Arrive Chennai

Welcome to Chennai or Madras, also known as the Gateway to Southern India. Like other state capitals such as Mumbai and Calcutta, it is a modern creation, founded by the East India Company in 1639, just north of the ancient Tamil port of Mylapore and the Portuguese settlement of San Thome. A fortified trading post, Fort St. George, was quickly erected, and over the course of the next century the city flourished, expanding rapidly to absorb many surrounding villages.

Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park

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    Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park



    Welcome to Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park. Located 12 km away from Chennai International Airport and close to business and financial hubs. Hotel is situated along numerous cultural attractions, such as Mylapore Temple, Mahabalipuram and DakshinaChitra Hotel boasts 287 guest rooms, with classic accommodations in ...

    Welcome to Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park. Located 12 km away from Chennai International Airport and close to business and financial hubs. Hotel is situated along numerous cultural attractions, such as Mylapore Temple, Mahabalipuram and DakshinaChitra

    Hotel boasts 287 guest rooms, with classic accommodations in the Park Wing or modern aesthetics in the newly refurbished Towers Wing. Plan your company event with us and let it be held on the newly refurbished conference rooms and large banquet halls. Treat yourself to a variety of cuisines served in hotel's on-site restaurants, The Residency, Cappuccino, Dakshin and On the Rocks. Witness a relaxed evening at the Connexions a Hi-Tea Lounge. Slip into a relaxed evening at the Westminster Bar with the best selection of beverages.

    Facilities

    • Fitness Centre
    • Meeting Rooms
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Parking
    • Restaurant
    • Weddings
    • Wellness Center
    • WiFi

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Day 2

Chennai Sightseeing

This morning you will visit Government Museum, also known as Madras Museum, is situated at Egmore, one of the busiest areas in Chennai. Founded in 1851, it exhibits various specimens pertaining to zoology, botany, anthropology and geology. The museum has a fine archaeological section representing all the major south Indian periods including Chola, Vijayangar, Hoysla and Chalukyas. The bronze image of Ardhnariswara (Shiva and Parvathy) is an eye-catching one. The museum also has separate sections for philately and children. It also houses a good ethnology collection. Informative lectures and film shows are conducted occasionally. The museum has a well-stocked library.

This afternoon you will explore majestic Chennai, established by the British as their seat of power, and boasting many "Splendours of the Raj." You'll get an introduction to all three of the main areas, Georgetown, site of the first British outpost in India; central Chennai, the modern, commercial heart of the metropolis; and the eastern section, with its interesting old quarters and its long straight Marine Drive.

Your first stop is Fort St. George, built by the British as their stronghold, but looking more like a complex of handsome colonial mansions. The fort was the first structure in Madras town and the first territorial possession of the British in India. Its 20-foot walls still stand in the city, encircling India's largest Anglican Church, St. Mary's, and the Fort St. George Museum. Today the fort also houses the Tamil Nadu Government Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly. Continue to St. Mary's Church, constructed with thick walls and a strong vaulted roof to withstand the city's many sieges. Its distinctly English style has allowed for concessions to the climate, with windows and doorways open to the breeze.

The city is full of monumental buildings, as you will see as you drive past the magnificent High Court. With its white onion domes and sandstone towers, it is reported to be the finest example of Indo-Saracenic architecture in the country. Cruise the Marine Drive, along one of the longest city beaches in the world. As the prime beachfront property is all occupied by government buildings, there is none of the usual tourist development.

Visit the celebrated Kapaleeshwarar Temple. Seventh century Tamil poet-saints sang the praises of the celebrated Kapaleeswara Temple; the present structure, dedicated to Lord Shiva, probably dates from the 16th century. The huge tower is covered with a multitude of brightly coloured plaster figures, and temple itself is filled with devotees coming to worship. Prayers are said, blessings are given, and shrines of the various gods are adorned with marigolds and anointed with water and ghee (clarified butter).

The shore road takes you to the Basilica of San Thome, a neo-Gothic church with a barrel-vaulted ceiling, built on the site of earlier churches possibly erected by Nestorian Christians from Persia during the 10th century. It is said to house the remains of St. Thomas, the apostle. Doubting Thomas is believed to have come to India in AD52, lived and preached in Mylapore. Inside the church, in Indian style, Jesus sits on a lotus, surrounded by peacocks.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 3

Chennai - Dakshinchitra - Mahaballipuram

After your tour you will travel down the Coromandel Coast to India's stone-carving capital, Mamallapuram, whose astonishing ancient monuments include the famous Shore Temple, and a collection of exceptional rock sculptures.

En route stop and visit Dakshin Chitra, a unique heritage centre offering the visitor an unforgettable and authentic insight into the lifestyles of the diverse people of south India. Traditional craftsmen and folk artists work and perform in the reconstructed period spaces of 19th century streets, homes and workshops. Have a look at a farmhouse from the fertile delta region, a potter's house complete with terracotta exhibition, the adobe and thatch huts of basket weavers, and a shrine to the village guardian-deity.

Later today you will explore the stunning archaeological remains of Mamallapuram. The importance of this site was acknowledged in 1995, when Mamallapuram was granted World Heritage Site status by UNESCO. The monuments are of four types, open-air bas-reliefs, temples, man-made caves and monolithic rathas literally "chariots" carved in situ from single boulders. Begin with the piece de resistance, Arjuna's Penance (also called the Descent of the Ganges, India's holy river) the world's largest bas-relief at 88 feet long and 30 feet high and one of the great masterpieces of Indian art.

Continue to the Shore Temple which dates back from the early 8th century, it is considered to be the earliest stone temple in south India. The mandapas are shallow, pillared halls carved out of the rocky hillside. The Pancha Pandava rathas are a remarkable group of monoliths five separate freestanding sculptures, imitating in granite temple structures that were originally built of wood. They are named for the five brothers who are among the main characters in the Mahabharata. A life-sized carved elephant stands nearby.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Ideal Beach Resort

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    Ideal Beach Resort



    Ideal Beach Resort is nestled in the sprawling Coromandel coastline overlooking the Bay of Bengal, it is an ideal place to enjoy some of India's unique cultures. The resort is in close proximity to Mahabalipuram one of India's architectural splendours which offers you an exciting ...

    Ideal Beach Resort is nestled in the sprawling Coromandel coastline overlooking the Bay of Bengal, it is an ideal place to enjoy some of India's unique cultures. The resort is in close proximity to Mahabalipuram one of India's architectural splendours which offers you an exciting location for basking in the glory of the tropical conditionings. Your choices for recreations and relaxation are endless.

    Facilities

    • Bar(s)
    • Conference Facilities
    • Games Room
    • Gift Shop
    • Internet Access
    • Massage Treatments
    • Pool (s)
    • Restaurant(s)
    • Spa
    • Tennis
    • Volleyball

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Day 4

Mahaballipuram - Kanchipuram - Pondicherry

This morning you will drive out to Kanchipuram, popularly known as "Kanchi" is one of the ancient pilgrim centres of south India famous for its lovely magnificent temples. Here you will visit the Sri Ekambaranathar temple which is a very ancient sacred temple of worship and is the largest temple in the town of Kanchipuram. You will also visit The Kailasanath temple which is the oldest temple of Kanchipuram. This temple contains the family of Lord Shiva, the Lord himself, his wife Goddess Parvati and his sons Ganesha and his brother Kartikeya. 58 shrines are in and outside the temple.

After your tour you will depart for Pondicherry, stopping en route to visit Auroville which was envisioned as a Universal Town, where people from different nationalities, faiths and beliefs, can live in peace and harmony. The construction of this 'universal town' was started in 1968 under the guidance of The Mother, a Paris-born painter musician who became Sri Aurobindo's disciple and close companion from 1924 till his death in 1950. The development of this utopia is still in progress.

Arrive into Pondicherry. The township of Pondicherry is planned on a grid system, which is to say that the roads meet each other at right angles. On the seaward side is the long Petit Canal which divides the town so that the French township is on the side facing the sea and the predominantly Indian/Tamil one on the other.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Le Dupleix

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    Le Dupleix


    Located in the heart of French Pondicherry, Hotel Le Dupleix Pondicherry is modernized and offers both luxury and comfort. The hotel is mere footsteps away from the beach, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and central shopping areas. The hotel offers 14 guestrooms, all of which exude ...

    Located in the heart of French Pondicherry, Hotel Le Dupleix Pondicherry is modernized and offers both luxury and comfort. The hotel is mere footsteps away from the beach, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and central shopping areas.

    The hotel offers 14 guestrooms, all of which exude an atmosphere of total peace and harmony. Hotel Le Dupleix Pondicherry is an ideal place for travellers seeking charm, comfort and convenience in Pondicherry.

    Facilities

    • Ironing Board
    • Currency Exchange
    • Lounge Bar
    • Medical Services
    • Meeting Rooms Available
    • Restaurant
    • Tour Desk

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Day 5

Pondicherry

Today you visit the Shri Aurobindo Ashram, Shri Aurobindo, the great seer, poet and prophet of the twentieth century, made Pondicherry his home from 1910 till his death in 1950. His vision and ideals continue to draw people from all over the world.

Continue to The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, constructed in Gothic style, is a highly revered religious destination in Pondicherry. This gigantic church is one of the most attractive churches in Pondicherry and is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is noted for its Gothic architecture, stained glass corridors and panels depicting incidents from the life of Jesus Christ. Within the church you will see Glass pictures of 28 saints who were related to the devotion of Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Pondicherry Museum houses some of the superb collections of sculpture which has an excellent gallery with sculptures and has the remains of archaeological findings from the Arikamedu Roman settlement. There is also a very good collection of snail shells, bronze sculptures of god and goddesses, a variety of temple lamps, handicrafts and art and some pieces of Chola and Pallava art from Pondicherry and Karaikal are displayed in the sculpture gallery.

Explore the French quarters of the town. The French ruled this territory for 300 years, and today, it stands as a living monument of the French culture in India. Pondicherry traces its origin to Saint Agasthya, the revered sage of the south. Excavations near Pondicherry reveal that a Roman settlement existed here, 2000 years ago.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 6

Pondicherry - Thanjavur

Today you will proceed towards Thanjavur (Tanjore) stopping en route to visit the Thillai Natrajah Temple at Chidambaram. This is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram. Chidambaram is one of the five holiest Shiva temples, each of which represents one of the five natural elements, Aether, Earth, Fire, Water and wind. Chidambaram represent Aether.

Afterwards you will continue to Gangaikonda Cholapuram and visit the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Chola emperor Rajendra I (1012-1044) built this Gangaikondacholapuram temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with an imposing gopuram that can be seen miles around. It is a replica of the Brihadeeswara temple at Thanjavur built by his father. There are many beautiful sculptures on the walls of the temple and its enclosures. It was built in commemoration of his victory over the kingdom abutting the Ganges.

A large tank was built at this site and filled with water brought from the sacred River Ganga in north India, hence Raja Raja also assumed the name Gangai Konda Cholan. There is a huge Nandi in front of the temple made of brick and mortar, a lion-faced well with yawning mouth through which a flight of steps lead to the water beneath and gigantic dwarapalakas (gate-keepers) are the other thrilling features of this temple.

You will continue through the temple town of Kumbakonam to Darusaram where you will visit the Airavatesvara Temple. This temple is a storehouse of art and architecture and has some exquisite stone carvings. The main deity's consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is situated adjacent to Airavateshwarar temple. The Airavatesvara temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Shiva here is known as Airavateshvara, because he was worshipped at this temple by Airavat, the white elephant of the king of the gods, Indra. Legend has it that Airavata, while suffering from a change of colour curse from Sage Durvasa, had its colours restored by bathing in the sacred waters of this temple.

After your visit you will continue to Tanjore or Thanjavur, also known as the "Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu". Thanjavur was the cultural capital of the country in 1790. Thanjavur gained prominence during the period of Chola Kings, who made it as their capital.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Ideal River View

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    Ideal River View



    Ideal River View is located on the banks of Cauvery, South India's largest river. The resort has strategically combined the idyllic settings of the historic city of Tanjore with stylish accommodations and seamless service. The resort offers an extensive range of accommodation, including standard rooms, ...

    Ideal River View is located on the banks of Cauvery, South India's largest river. The resort has strategically combined the idyllic settings of the historic city of Tanjore with stylish accommodations and seamless service. The resort offers an extensive range of accommodation, including standard rooms, suites independent cottages and deluxe suites. All rooms have been aesthetically decorated and styled with soothing colours providing a warm welcome and a perfect ambience for a romantic stay.

    Facilities

    • Bar(s)
    • Barbeque Facilities
    • Conference Facilities
    • Games Room
    • Gift Shop
    • Massage Treatments
    • Pool (s)
    • Restaurant(s)
    • Spa

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Day 7

Thanjavur

Your touring of Thanjavur includes a visit to the Brihadeeswarar Temple, also known as Rajarajeswaram and is considered as one of the greatest glories of Indian architecture. Constructed completely out of granite it reflects the power of its creator, Raja Raja Chola I. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Great Living Chola Temples.

Your exploration of the town includes a visit to the Thanjavur Palace, Museum, Art Gallery and Library. The Maratha and the Nayaks of Madurai built this vast labyrinthine building in the 16th century. Many sections of this palace are in ruins due to neglect. The evidence of its original splendour can be seen at its ornate Durbar hall.

The Royal Museum has a collection of royal memorabilia dating back to the 19th century. Within the museum there is a gallery with a representative collection of stone sculpture from the Pallava, Chola, Pandya and Nayaka periods. Another gallery contains samples of the characteristic glass paintings of Tanjore. There are two principal traditions in this style of painting in South India, especially in Thanjavur. Every Hindu home is supposed to have a prayer room, where the family deity is installed after the house is built. These household images of gods and goddesses are in bronze, silver or clay and painted pictures. The paintings are done on wood, using a variety of colours, and to enhance the pictures, details of jewelry and clothing are added by attaching gold leaf, paper, semi-precious and precious gems. This museum is however best known for its outstanding collection of bronze sculpture collection, of rare artistic quality.

The Kalyanasundara Murti, the iconographical depiction of the marriage of the Shiva and Parvati. The Saraswathy Mahal Library, established around 1700 has a compilation of over 30,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts in Indian and European languages.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 8

Thanjavur - Trichy - Madurai

This morning you will depart Thanjavur and proceed to Madurai, stopping en route to visit the Sri Rangam Ranga Natha Temple, which lies on an island, enclosed by the Kaveri River and Kollidam River. Lord Vishnu is enshrined as Ranganatha - the reclining position of Lord Vishnu over the Shesha Nag (serpent Adisesha). It is believed that this is the form in which Lord Mahavishnu is open to listening to all of his devotee's woes and blesses them.

Continue onwards and visit the Rock Fort Ganapati Temple also known as Ucchi Pillayar koil which stands 83m tall perched atop the rock. The temple is mystic in its nature with its awe-inspiring rock architecture. The temple complex is a collection of three temples - the Manikka Vinayaka temple at the foot of the hill, the Uchhi Pillayar Kovil, a Ganesh Temple at the top of the hill and the Taayumaanava Kovil, a Shiva Temple on the hill. You would need to climb up the 437 steps cut into the stone to reach the temple.

Arrive Madurai, often referred to the 'City of Nectar', 'Temple City' or 'City of four junctions' Madurai is among the oldest continuously inhabited cities. Madurai was the capital city of ancient Southern civilization and its heritage goes back to 2500 years. Madurai is built around the Meenakshi Sundareswar Temple. Concentric rectangular streets surround the temple, symbolizing the structure of the cosmos. The entire city is laid out in the shape of a lotus. Some of these rectangular streets are named after Tamil months. The six major rectangular streets around Meenakshi temple are Chittirai, Aadi, Aavani Moola, Maasi, Maarat and Veli streets.

Arrive and visit the Thirumalai Nayak Palace, which was built in 1636 by King Thirumalai Nayak with the help of an Italian Architect and is a classic fusion of Dravidian, Islamic and European styles. The building that we see today was the main Palace where the King lived. The original Palace Complex was four times bigger than the present structure. The courtyard and the dancing hall are the major center of attractions of the palace. North East of Madurai stands a celebrated Vishnu Temple dedicated to Lord Alagar. The temple is situated on a hill amidst panoramic surroundings. The shrine is known as Alagar Kovil and the hill as Solaimalai. The temple also contains some beautiful carvings. Palamudirsolai, one of the six abodes of Lord Subramaniya is located atop the Hill.

This evening you will witness the wondrous ceremony at the Meenakshi Temple, which is performed at 9.15 every night. Nagaswaram players serenade the deities with melodious music for the traditional ceremony where Sundareswarar goes to rest beside Meenakshi. Another mystical sight is the mysterious labyrinth corridors of the temple, which are swathed by the gently lit lamps.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Heritage Madurai

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    Heritage Madurai



    Hertitance Madurai is a "resort in the city" built on 17 acres of lush green gardens, landscaped to make one forget their presence in the heart of this bustling metropolis. The hotel will cater to the ardent pilgrims and the demanding corporate clientele who visit ...

    Hertitance Madurai is a "resort in the city" built on 17 acres of lush green gardens, landscaped to make one forget their presence in the heart of this bustling metropolis. The hotel will cater to the ardent pilgrims and the demanding corporate clientele who visit Madurai to take part in the numerous temple festivals and the many events that the city plays host to.

    Facilities

    • Bar(s)
    • Bellman/Porters
    • Business Centre
    • Currency Exchange
    • Daycare/Babysitting Service
    • Internet Access
    • Laundry/Dry Cleaning Service
    • Medical Services
    • Parking (Valet)
    • Pool (s)
    • Reception (24 hrs)
    • Restaurant(s)
    • Room Service

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Day 9

Madurai - Thekaddy

Early this morning you will visit the Meenakshi Temple again. The temple is a complex of many deities. The Shiva shrine lies at the centre of the complex, suggesting that the ritual dominance of the goddess developed later. Outside the Shrine, lies huge sculpture of Ganesh carved of single stone and there is a shrine for a giant Ganesh temple, called the Mukuruny Vinayakar. This deity is believed to have been found during an excavation process to dig the temple lake. The Meenkashi shrine is on the left of the Shiva shrine and is of sculpturally less valuable than the Shiva shrine.

Return to your hotel for breakfast before departing for to Thekaddy - the heart of 'God's own country' and home to India's largest wildlife sanctuary. The sanctuary is spread over an area of 777 sq. km and in the centre of the reserve is an artificial lake, which covers 25 Sq. kms which is an important source of water for the many wild animals. Thekkady is a paradise on earth for nature lovers. With its vast and bountiful treasures of tropical flora and fauna it is the ultimate reservoir for many an endangered species. The forests around the lake were declared as a reserved area in 1899 and its geomorphology, diversity of wildlife and scenic beauty attracts visitors from all over the world.

Arrive Thekaddy and visit a Spice Plantation. Columbus went west to find the sea route to the land of spices but found America. Vascodagama, the Arabs and other explorers and traders came to India for the same purpose and stumbled on the spice rich south western tip of India, now known as Kerala. Spices have always been an important part of life in Kerala. Here the masters of Ayurveda, the science of life, discovered the use of spices for medicinal purposes. Spices also play an important role in the Kerala cuisine, non-ayurvedic medicine and cosmetics. Periyar due to its location in the lower mountains around 1000 metres above sea level, is blessed with numerous types of spices. Consequently, the spice plantation tour is in one of the most important activities outside the reserve that a visitor can engage in. It is an opportunity to see why the Kerala cuisine is so different from most of the other Indian cuisines. The tour gives you a chance to enjoy cardamom, pepper, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and many other varieties of spices and medicinal plants.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Shalimar Spice Garden

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    Shalimar Spice Garden



    Built on a verdant land unscathed by modernization, the Shalimar Spice Garden is a perfect blend of European and Indian living without diluting the rich heritage of Kerala. The resort borders the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, making it a great place for your holiday. Shalimar is ...

    Built on a verdant land unscathed by modernization, the Shalimar Spice Garden is a perfect blend of European and Indian living without diluting the rich heritage of Kerala. The resort borders the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, making it a great place for your holiday. Shalimar is the perfect place to be, for you to get closer to nature. The pace of life here is so easy and peaceful that even the birds and the butterflies do not seem to be in a hurry. The lush foliage of the coffee, cardamom and other spices plants surround the cottages.

    Facilities

    • Restaurant(s)
    • Spa
    • Swimming Pool

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Day 10

Thekaddy To Alleppey

An enchanting way to explore the Periyar Tiger Reserve is by boat. As the boat glides upon the still dark waters of the lake, visitors can feast their eyes upon the vibrant green of the surrounding foliage. As the boat brushes gently against branches of trees, one is transported back to the times when this was the only means of transport. This incredible experience is further enhanced by rare sights of animal's drinking water at the edge of the lake. The best time to sight the animals is in the wee hours of the morning, when the day has just broken.

Depart and travel to Alappuzha (previously called Alleppey), nestled in the midst of a thick tangle of lush tropical waterways. Upon arrival you will board your houseboat. The Backwater Cruise through Alleppey which is also known as the, "Venice of the East". It has a large network of canals that meander through the town. The term "backwaters" actually refers to the extensive network of rivers, lakes, canals and lagoons that lace together the coast and interior south of Kochi. For centuries the backwaters have acted as a vital waterway for the transportation of goods, people and their produce. This is often the only link between isolated villages and crowded towns. In Kerala, the total expanse of backwater stretches over 1500 kms, and Alleppey forms the main part of this network. Even today, coconut, pepper, coir (coconut husks), rice and other goods are carried along the waterways in traditional longboats called kettuvallam.

Upon arrival you will board your houseboat for an idyllic trip through the majestic forests and palm-shaded backwaters of the city and surroundings. As you glide in your "Kettuvallam" (Houseboat) you will travel through the enchanting backwaters of Alleppey. Pass through shimmering waterways lined with dense tropical vegetation, and observe rural Keralan lifestyles that you would never see from the road. Views range from narrow canals walled in with thick greenery to open vistas of brilliant green paddy fields. Papaya, mango, jackfruit and cassava grow along the palm-lined banks. Along the way you will see the coconut harvesting and coir factories that make up the main industry of Kerala. Churches, mosques and temples can be glimpsed among the trees, and you might catch the blue flash of a kingfisher, flocks of ducks swimming around the banks or maybe get a fleeting glimpse of a green parakeet. You will observe rural life as you pass villagers bathing and wash their clothes, and sometimes their buffalos, at the water’s edge. Time seems to come to a standstill as the sparkling water and caressing cool breeze relaxes you completely.

Lunch and dinner will be served onboard.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Duration1 Night
Day 11

Alleppey To Cochin

After breakfast onboard your houseboat you will drive to Cochin. A trading port since at least Roman times, Cochin is on the main route between Europe and China. With a relaxed seaport lifestyle, it has changed little over the centuries. Guests experience the bustle of commerce in and about the city's go downs (warehouses) and open courtyards heaped with betel nut, ginger, peppercorns and hanks of coir (coconut husks). The air is filled with the scent of exotic spices and the shouts of vendors pushing heavy carts. It is easy to forget that one is in the 21st century.

Arrive and proceed to your hotel and the rest of the day is at leisure.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Crowne Plaza Cochin

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    Crowne Plaza Cochin



    Crowne Plaza Kochi, Kerala, is an ideal staying place for both the professional and leisure travelers from across the world. It is placed amidst exotic surroundings that comprised of alluring attractions of the city. The hotel is blessed with excellent accommodation arrangements in the presence ...

    Crowne Plaza Kochi, Kerala, is an ideal staying place for both the professional and leisure travelers from across the world. It is placed amidst exotic surroundings that comprised of alluring attractions of the city. The hotel is blessed with excellent accommodation arrangements in the presence of fully furnished rooms and suites. Moreover, the extensive premises of the hotel consist of excellent arrangements for business and personal events.

    Facilities

    • Bar(s)
    • Business Centre
    • Concierge
    • Conference Facilities
    • Gym/Fitness Centre
    • Pool (s)
    • Restaurant
    • WiFi

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Day 12

Cochin Sightseeing

Most of Cochin's historic buildings are in Fort Cochin, constructed by Portugal's Alfonzo de Albuquerque in 1500. Albuquerque arrived with half a dozen ships bearing settlers and five friars and built the first European church in India, St. Francis Church. The simply styled building is enhanced only by the beautiful floor tiles that line the main aisle. A holdover from colonial days is the continued use of punkahs, large swinging cloth fans suspended above the congregation and manually operated from outside the church. On the same square and in striking contrast, is the flamboyant decor of the 20th century Santa Cruz Cathedral in an Indo-Romano-Rococo style.

The large, graceful Chinese fishing nets that line the shore of Fort Cochin are probably the single most familiar image of Kerala. Chinese Fishing Nets were actually introduced by traders from the court of Kublai Khan. They cantilever over the harbour, and operate by a system of weights and levers. The nets, on wooden frames, are raised periodically to check the catch.

Visit the Pardesi Synagogue, a tiny but delightful structure built in 1568. They then continue to Mattancherry or "Dutch Palace" which houses a remarkable series of murals rich in color and with painstaking detail. In the royal bedroom alone are 45 paintings illustrating the Ramayana every inch of space covered with rich colour and painstaking detail. There is also an interesting collection of Dutch maps of old Kochi, coronation robes belonging to the maharajas, royal palanquins, weapons and furniture. The surrounding area still called Jew Town. Spend time is spent in exploring a fascinating mix of so called antique shops, warehouses, and spice auction rooms. Signs for N.X. Jacob's tailor shop, and the offices of J.E. Cohen serve as reminders of a once thriving community now consisting of about seven families. One tradition states that the first Jews settled near Cochin in 587 BC, after fleeing the occupation of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. Another legend claims that they came much earlier in the 11th century BC, as part of a trading fleet sent by King Solomon. The earliest concrete evidence of their presence is a copper inscription dated AD 388. Whatever the truth of their arrival, they became and remained respected members of Kerala society.

Late this afternoon you will proceed to a local theatre and witness a Kathakali dance performance, one of the oldest theatre forms in the world. It originated in the area of southwestern India now known as the state of Kerala. It is a well-developed dance-drama, where the actors depict characters from the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The Kathakali dance performance is very dramatic and is enacted with elaborate masks and costumes. Kathakali recitals are emotive and narrative, and combine dance with dialogue to bring myth and legend to life in the temple courtyards of Kerala. A traditional Kathakali performance begins in the evening and continues throughout the night, culminating at the auspicious hour of dawn, when Good finally conquers Evil. Today, however, this dance performance has been modified for the stage and the audience can witness this ritualistic theatre experience in the comfort of a plush auditorium, within the span of a couple of hours.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 13

Cochin To Mumbai

This morning board your flight to Mumbai. The city of Bombay originally consisted of seven islands and in the 500 years since its "discovery" by the Portuguese. These islands, home to communities of fishing colonies have since been joined together by a series of reclamations. Now a sprawling metropolis and the money capital of India. Renamed as Mumbai in 1995, it is a magnet for entrepreneurs, the home of many important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, The Bombay Stock Exchange, The National Stock Exchange as well as being the headquarters for many national and international companies. This city alone generates more than 40% of India's GNP, its port handles half the country's foreign trade, and its movie industry is the largest in the world.

This afternoon your exploration of the city begins with a drive past the University of Mumbai, the Mumbai High Court, continue past the Flora Fountain, also known as 'Hutatma Chowk' since 1960, is declared as one of India's Heritage structures. Built in 1864, its name ''Flora' was derived from the name of the Roman Goddess of Flowers. Your tour takes you past the Victoria Terminus which was built during Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee year. It is an extraordinary conglomeration of domes, spires, Corinthian columns and minarets in a style described by journalist James Cameron as "Victorian-Gothic-Saracenic-Italianate-Oriental-St. Pancras-Baroque." In 1853 the first train in India left from this station and today more than half a million people use this station every day.

You will drive past the lively Crawford market famous for its wholesale fruits, fresh vegetables and poultry produce. Drive down Marine Drive, Mumbai's seaside promenade, an eight-lane highway with a wide pavement after your visit you will drive through the residential area of Mumbai's rich and famous on Malabar Hill. Also on the hill is the Jain Temple, built of marble and dedicated to Adinath, the first of the twenty-four thirthankars or Jain prophets. The approach to the central chamber is covered with mirrors and colorful paintings. A polished marble image of Adinath is enshrined in within. Continue to the Hanging Gardens, laid out in 1881. Here an assortment of hedges, have been trimmed into animal shapes. Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city and is home to people belonging to different religious backgrounds like Hinduism, Islam and even Zoroastrianism! Due to this diverse nature, Mumbai showcases the best monuments, churches, and shrines. One such unique structure built for a unique purpose is indeed the Towers of Silence which is built for the exposure of the dead. As you drive past this structure you will realise that despite the open exposure to dead, the place has a feeling of calm and peace, owning in part to the beautiful architecture.

Enjoy a photo stop at to the dhobi ghats. Even if you are not interested in other people's dirty laundry, you'll be fascinated by this sight. The dhobi is a traditional laundryman who collects your dirty linen which is then soaped, soaked, boiled, beaten, and thrashed. The next day, after being dried it is, pressed, folded and neatly wrapped into bundles and returned from whence they came.

Thereafter you will visit Mani Bhavan which was Gandhi's Bombay base between 1917 and 1934. It is now a permanent museum and memorial to the Mahatma, and contains a research library of more than 20,000 volumes. A series of tiny dioramas tell his life story in an interesting fashion. The walls are covered with photos of historic events and noteworthy people and there are a number of personal artifacts.

Your tour ends with a photo stop at the Gateway of India, located on the waterfront in Apollo Bunder. This is the city's most famous landmark it has been built from yellow basalt and reinforced concrete. This Indo-Saracenic archway built in 1911 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary. Its design is a unique combination of Hindu and Muslim architectural styles.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Trident Nariman Point

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    Trident Nariman Point



    The Trident Nariman Point is a modern high rise 4 star hotel located on Marine Drive at Nariman's Point. The hotel, delivers a memorable experience for guests - from excellent amenities to warm and friendly service. The hotel has 555 well-appointed rooms. Be it for ...

    The Trident Nariman Point is a modern high rise 4 star hotel located on Marine Drive at Nariman's Point. The hotel, delivers a memorable experience for guests - from excellent amenities to warm and friendly service. The hotel has 555 well-appointed rooms. Be it for business or leisure, a comfortable and invigorating experience awaits every time you visit Mumbai.

    Facilities

    • Bar(s)
    • Business Centre
    • Concierge
    • Conference Facilities
    • Daycare/Babysitting Service
    • Gym/Fitness Centre
    • Hair/Beauty Salon
    • Laundry/Dry Cleaning Service
    • Parking (Valet)
    • Pool (s)
    • Restaurant(s)
    • Room Service
    • Spa

    More Details

    Preferred Hotel
Day 14

Mumbai Sightseeing

This morning proceed to the jetty and board a cruise to the serene and densely forested Elephanta Island where the caves are located. The rock cut architecture of the caves has been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries however their origins are not clear. The caves are hewn from solid basalt rock and were also originally painted in the past, but now only traces remain.

The afternoon is at leisure.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 15

Depart Mumbai

Proceed to the airport for your onwards flight.

Meal Plan Breakfast

Other Information

DEPARTURES:

Daily.

PRICE INCLUDES:

  • 14 nights accommodations
  • Private touring and transfers with English speaking guide
  • Sightseeing as described
  • Meals as specified on the itinerary
  • Flight from Cochin to Mumbai including taxes

PRICE EXLUDES:

  • Travel insurance
  • International and domestic airfare & airfare taxes unless specified
  • Visa fees if applicable
  • Meals and beverages not mentioned
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please inquire.

TB TRAILBLCHE0119SG: BOSI FC 2
10 Sep 2020
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