Waterbus tour, visiting Fort Kochi, Mattancherry Palace and St Francis Church. Visit to a tea plantation and spice gardens. Cheeyappara Water Falls, Nature Trek in Periyar National Park, Cruising and staying overnight on a traditional Kerala Houseboat. Experience an overnight stay with local village families. Time on the beautiful Beaches of Kerala.
Sketch Itinerary :
Kochi | Munnar | Periyar | Alleppey | Kovalam
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This tour concentrates on Kerala, one of the most fascinating states of southern India, whose very name, it is said, comes either from the local word ‘kera’, the coconut palm, or from ‘cheralam’, meaning land of the chera kings or ‘marshy land’.
We explore the enchanting coastal strip of land between the high Sahya ranges in the east and the vast Arabian Sea in the west. Along the way we will see beautiful waterfalls, exotic spice gardens and tea plantations whilst our overnights include time on a traditional style Kerala house boat and a local home stay before relaxing on the beaches of Kovalam
Highlights: Mattancherry is famous for its 'Jew Town' and its Jewish Synagogue
Description: After checking in at our hotel this morning we meet our Tour Leader and discuss the week ahead. After that our day is left free for us to acclimatise after perhaps a long flight, and to wander at our own pace, visiting the bazaars or taking a waterbus. Kochi lies around a vast bay, and is made up of several different areas. Ernakulam is today the main commercial area, and it is here that the vast majority of homes, workplaces and shopping districts are located; it is the area that perhaps most people mean when they refer to Kochi. But elsewhere in or around the bay lie Mattancherry, Fort Cochin, Vypeen Island and Bolghatty Island. Willingdon Island is home to the main port of the city. Fort Cochin, where Koder House is located is famous for its Chinese fishing nets and its meld of Dutch, Portuguese and English influences. Mattanchery is famous for its 'Jew Town' and its Jewish Synagogue. This is the historic part of Kochi, made famous by centuries of spice trade. Whilst today is free for us to relax, it is possible to take one of a number of optional excursions, which your Tour Leader will arrange for you. Tripunithura Hill Palace was the home of the Maharajahs of Kochi and is worth a visit, or you may prefer the bustle of the markets. This evening we have the option of seeing Kathakali dancing; an art form originating around Kochi. After hours applying very heavy and stylised makeup, the dancers usually take as their subject stories from the Ramayana and other Indian epics.
Highlights: The Portugese and the English have all left their mark on the architecture and culture
Description: After Breakfast you have a guided tour of Kochi. Waterbuses dot the waters of the bay of Kochi and one of these vessels will be used for part of your tour today. You visit Fort Kochi; dating from the 16th century and considered to be the oldest European settlement in India. The Bay has been a trading centre for centuries and over time the Dutch, the Portugese and the English have all left their mark on the architecture and culture of the settlements around the bay. The Portugese built the Mattancherry Palace but the Dutch renovated it; the murals here are some of the most impressive in India. You'll visit the Jewish synagogue and pass the iconic Chinese fishing nets that line part of the shore. After your tour the rest of the day is left free.
Highlights: visit to Tea plantations and Mattupetty
Description: After Leaving Kochi and the coast, Drive inland to the Cheeyappara Falls which are regarded as one of the beauties of Kerala. You continue on to the small town of Munnar and check into your hotel. You are now in the tea growing and spice production region of Kerala; over the last two millennia Romans, Chinese and Arabs have come here for spices, particularly pepper - 'black gold'. Trade was two-way, and traders brought Christianity and Islam here, giving rise to the distinctive cultural melange of Kerala. This afternoon you visit one of the tea plantations, to see first-hand how tea is produced, harvested and prepared then continue to Mattupetty, some 1700 meters above sea level. Mettupetty is famous for its specialised dairy farm; part of an Indo-Swiss livestock project. Visitors are allowed into 3 of the 11 cattle sheds at the farm. Close to the farm is the Mettupetty Lake, and Dam, which is a local picnic spot. Elephants can at times be seen coming down to the water here.
Highlights: Spice Plantation at Periyar; Experience an overnight stay with local village families
Description: After Breakfast head for Periyar wildlife sanctuary, arriving in the early afternoon and check into your hotel just outside the Park. This afternoon you visit the Spice Plantation at Periyar, where ginger, garlic, cardamom, vanilla, pepper, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are all produced. It is also possible this afternoon to take an optional cookery lesson in one of the neighbouring villages.
Highlights: Nature trek in Periyar Sanctuary; Experience an overnight stay with local village families
Description: Before breakfast you take a morning nature trek in Periyar Sanctuary. It was in 1899, that the cardamom jungle around the lake was declared as Periyar Lake Reserve. And in 1934, the sanctuary came to be known as Nellikampetti Sanctuary. It was also included in Project Tiger in 1979. A trek into the depths of the Periyar forest opens up tranquil views of the mirror-still lake disturbed only by an occasional ripple from a rising fish, the verdant wilderness curving on either side, and a clear sapphire sky reflected in the waters. Periyar is one of India's tiger reserves, with around 40 tigers here, although in the nearly 800 acres of the park the chances of seeing one are slim. Your game viewing here is done on foot, walking through the grasslands, forest and tropical jungle of the sanctuary looking for giant malabar, boar, flying squirrel, porcupine and elephant. After breakfast you drive back to the coast and the backwaters, arriving in the early afternoon. At Alleppey you forego the use of a hotel and instead stay with local families, an evening which offers an insight into local life in Kerala. A number of houses may be used for the overnight stay, depending on the size of your party and the homes that are used vary to some extent, with some rooms having private facilities and some not. As these are family homes there are no single rooms available and twin, triple and occasionally four bed rooms may be used.
Highlights: Cruising and staying overnight on a traditional Kerala Houseboat.
Description: Today is something of a lazy day, with this morning free for a leisurely exploration of Alleppey. This small town is something of a waterborne equivalent of a railway junction, with boats passing through on the canals that run through the town, inevitably drawing comparisons between Alleppey and Venice. After a leisurely morning wandering the backstreets of town, we head before lunch from our home-stay to our houseboat. A Kerala houseboat is a traditional style of vessel that was used in earlier times for the transport of goods from the isolated villages of the interior to the coastal towns. In the Malayalam language "kettu" means "to tie" and "vallam" means "boat" - the two words together make up the local name for a houseboat: a "kettuvallam". Each houseboat is constructed using long established principles and techniques of boat building by the local carpenters using 'Anjili' wood. Coir ropes are used for fastening the wooden planks together. With the advent of roads, bridges and ferry services, the era of the kettuvallom as a means of freight transport came to an end. But now tourism has led to a resurgance in the use of kettuvalloms as a tourist attraction allowing the visitor to experience life on the backwaters of Kerala. The house boats have most of the creature comforts of a standard hotel with well-furnished bedrooms, modern hygienic toilets, a well-appointed living room and a beautiful kitchen. There are usually two or three bedrooms on each boat, and looking after us are a cook, two or three assistants, and the boat captain. After boarding, we sail for a while along the colourful waterways, just watching life along the banks, where families manage to keep livestock and tend vegetable gardens amidst the tropical palm trees . Meanwhile on the water a variety of boats are part of the scene: motor launches and sailing vessels carry produce, people, mail and animals. Some of the boats have a bow carved in the shape of a dragon, a reminder of the boats used in the water pageants that are a part of the Kerala calendar. We sail today for around five hours, and after a leisurely voyage we tie up for the night on the banks of one of the waterways. Dinner on board a houseboat is a special experience, with quiet but efficient service in the dining room.
Highlights: Kovalam Beach
Description: After Early breakfast aboard your houseboat before sailing slowly for two or three hours back along the waterways in the direction of Alleppey, and disembarking around mid-morning. Then you head south on the drive to Kovalam, for some time on the beach. Kovalam is still a relatively unspoilt place; there is a small village, but the place essentially consists of several bays, split by rock outcrops, each bay having beachside cafes ideal for whiling away the day. The two main beaches are Eve's Beach and Lighthouse Beach. Your hotel is by the beach so you can easily wander along the shore at your own pace
Highlights: Optional excursion to Kanyakumari
Description: Today is all about relaxation. If you are feeling active there is an optional excursion to Kanyakumari, lying at the extreme south of India. But an alternative option is to just relax around Kovalam: there's a wealth of shopping possible, or how about an optional cookery class in south Indian cuisine. Or just lie on the beach and watch the fishermen come in.
Highlights: Today your tour ends in Kovalam
Description: Return to Onward Destination