Start in Kochi (Cochin) and end in Chennai (Madras)! With the in-depth cultural tour A classical Southern Journey (from Cochin to Chennai), you have a 13 day tour package taking you through Kochi (Cochin), India and 7 other destinations in India. A classical Southern Journey (from Cochin to Chennai) includes accommodation in a hotel as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more.
On arrival at Cochin airport, meet our representative and transfer to hotel. Overnight stay in a homestay in Fort Cochin. Cochin - the Queen of Arabian Sea, undoubtedly the Commercial hub of Kerala, where ancient civilization gracefully mingles with the modern life. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure in the streets of the colonial Fort Kochi.? Start point FIRST INTERNATIONAL ARRIVAL TO INDIA, Cochin International Airport (COK), Nedumbassery, Alwaye, Kerala, India
Breakfast at the hotel. We start the tour with visit to Chinese Fishing nets, then St Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica. Take a tuk tuk ride and take a local tour where we stop at Dhobi Khana, streets of Mattencherry, a fruit market, then Spice market, take a pause for a cup of tea at a local tea shop, interact with a Brahmin family and then apply Mehandi on your palms. Then visit the Jewish Synagogue and Dutch Palace. Overnight at the hotel. Today you will Experience Real life of Cochin during an Ethnic tour ? start with the visit of the famous Chinese Fishing Nets of Cochin. The huge cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that droop towards the waters like over-sized hammocks have become a hallmark that represents Fort Kochi on every postcard... Next visit is at the St. Francis CSI Church, the oldest European church in India built in 1503, where the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama was originally buried and the Santa cruz Basilica, one of the finest and imposing churches in India. Then take a tuk tuk? the most popular mode of transport among the localities Go along with your local tour and stop at the Dhobi Khana (laundry station), once throbbing with activity, it is now a picture of slow extinction. Continue through the small streets of Mattanchery, and arrive at the Fruit market on Palace road where locals get a variety of fresh and organic produces at bargains prices. Don?t miss a stop at the Spice Market, where exotic odour of the finest ginger, cloves, cardamom, turmeric and pepper emanate from the spice warehouses lining the street and fills it. Make a pause with a refreshing tea at one of the tea shops where you get the one meter tea. There is now an opportunity to interact with a Brahmin Family. The Brahmin are the highest of the four Hindu castes, made up of priests and scholars of Vedic literature and their traditional occupation is to conduct rites at marriages, births, deaths and other auspicious occasions. Then you will be invite to getting squiggly lines drawn on your hands... This ritual called Mehndi arts holds plenty of cultural significance in Indian traditions and is one of the most important pre-wedding ceremonies in their marriages. Later visit the Jewish Synagogue at the heart of what is locally called the Jew Town, and finally the Dutch Palace with its beautiful mural paintings from the 17th century.
In and around AlleppeyAfter a leisurely breakfast leave for Alleppey by surface, a journey of about 2 hours. You will sail on the famous backwaters of Kerala. A typical Kerala lunch and dinner will be served onboard. Overnight onboard the houseboat. These boats are a reworked version of Kettuvallams of olden times and made out of huge planks of Jack wood, joined with coir from Coconut shells. These original Kettuvallams were once used to carry tons of rice and spices. They are today converted into comfortable floating accommodation offering enchanting cruises through the backwaters. Cruise through the palm fringed canals enjoying the beauty of rural village life. You will be offered to accompany the Chef on a visit to the direction a local food market to buy all the ingredients for your sumptuous Kerala meals served on board. The trip continues through a wonderful area of the lush green vegetation of Kerala backwaters. En route enjoy a country canoe ride ? there is no better way of taking a closer look at the life and activities on the backwaters.
In and around KumarakomBreakfast on board, disembark and drive to Alleppey town to join The Preserve Alleppey project, created by the Lions Ladies Club of Alleppey in 2000. Proceed for your resort in Kumarakom and check-in your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure in your hotel to enjoy resort activities. Overnight at the hotel.? The Preserve Alleppey Society conducts tours of the town. It starts with a presentation of the history and unique features of the town and ends at the Societys gallery where light refreshments are served.It is partly driving and walking through the Gujarati quarter, the canal banks and an old wholesale market with a guide. Your journey will start with a presentation of the town history and later you will be driving and walking through the Gujarati quarter, the canal banks and an old wholesale market with a local guide. A Kerala lunch will be served in one of the members homes, which will grant you an opportunity to visit a home, meet with the residents and to learn about local?s ways of life.
In and around ThekkadyAfter breakfast leave for Thekkady, a journey of about 5 hours. Arrive and check-in at the hotel. Overnight stay in the hotel. Thekkady - Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is an established tourist spot and home to elephants, tiger, bison, sambar, wild boar, langur etc. with unending Chains of hills and spice-scented plantations. Arrive and check-in at the hotel. Later, go on a spice plantation tour where you can touch, smell and taste almost all the spices seen worldwide. Due to its location in the lower mountains around 1000 meters above sea level, Periyar is blessed with numerous types of spices. Later enjoy a stroll through the spice Markets of Kumily.
After breakfast take a full day bamboo rafting ?through the Periyar National Park. Rest of the day free to explore the resort activities Overnight at the hotel.? Full day Bamboo rafting - a community based initiative including the tribal community. This excursion takes the participants into the remote areas of the Periyar National park through a two hour trek and a peaceful and relaxing bamboo rafting. This is a very good opportunity to experience the Flora and Fauna of the region.
Breakfast at the hotel, leave for Periyar (85 kms / approx. 3.5 hrs). Upon arrival in Madurai , check ?in at the hotel. Late evening proceed for a night ceremony in Meenakshi Temple. Overnight stay at the hotel. Madurai, situated in southern Tamil Nadu, is a district with its headquarters in Madurai city, on the banks of Vaigai River. It is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu, and is more than 2500 years old and still an important cultural and commercial center. ?Madurai, once the seat of Tamil learning and still the place where the Tamil language is spoken in its purest form, is planned in the shape of a lotus. ?Modern Madurai is a burgeoning industrial center, even though the vast stretches of lush paddy fields, dusty roads and crowded bazaars make it seems almost like an overgrown village. ?Neon signs above shops selling designer wears with international labels light up the spires of the nearby century-old temples. Youngsters driving Japanese model motorcycles overtake women carrying baskets of bananas on their heads. ?Modernity has reached the city, but not at the cost of its rich tradition and culture.
Breakfast at the hotel. Visit the flower market and Meenakshi temple. Later visit the Thirumalai Nayak Palace and Art Museum. Overnight stay at the hotel. Sri Meenakshi Temple is synonymous with the Sri Meenakshi, the consort of Lord Shiva. ?The five gopurams that surround the temple are known for stuccowork, and the 48.8 meter high southern gopuram is the tallest. ?Legend has it that when the last Tamil Sangam (Academy) met here, literary works were thrown into the temple tank. ?Those that floated were deemed to be outstanding literature. ?The Hall of Thousand Pillars is a museum of icons, photographs and illustrations. ?Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal, 1 km from the temple is known for the musical pillars and the pathway. ?Gandhi Museum is dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi?s life and work and is housed in the 300-year-old Mangammal Palace. ?It has a collection of Gandhi?s personal memorabilia, books and letters, a fine exhibition of South Indian village industries, handicrafts and a huge open-air theatre.
Breakfast at the hotel. Leave for Pondicherry, a journey of about 6 hours. Arrive and check-in at the hotel. Later afternoon take a walk in French quarters of the town. Overnight at the hotel. Settled by the French in the 18th century, Pondicherry retains a quiet colonial atmosphere with wide shady streets lined with colorful stucco houses. An ongoing French presence in the town means that many local dishes are subtly fused with French ingredients and techniques.? Late afternoon take a stroll through the French boulevard with our Storyteller. Through reminiscence of almost a century old European occupation, walk through the white town (as the French quarters is popularly known as) while our Storyteller relates the history with what you see around.
Breakfast at the hotel and leave for visit to Auroville and Matri Mandir. Have lunch at the Solar Kitchen at Auroville. Return to the town and then you are free to explore some restaurant on your own. Overnight at the hotel.? In morning after your breakfast take a visit to Auroville and understand the unique community living here based on universal harmony. You will be taken through the visitors center and a few of the auroville units which innovatively works on paper, textile, bamboo and stones among others. Enjoy Lunch at Solar kitchen - the community Kitchen for the inmates. See the Matri mandir (the meditation centre) from outside. Rest of the day free to visit the eclectic range of restaurants, ranging from traditional vegetarian to fusion "Pondicherry cuisine". Dont forget to visit Bakers Street, a bakery run by a French man who sells the most delicious cheese baguettes, quiches and freshly baked bread, as well as ?clairs and fruit tarts.
Breakfast at the hotel. Leave for the famous town of shore temples ? Mahablipuram a journey of about 3 hours. Check-in at the hotel and proceed for visit to the shore temples. Overnight stay in the hotel. Mahabalipuram is a small town which was a port for the Pallava kings in the 5th to 8th centuries. Along the shore lies a stunning series of temples and sculptures, carved from the living rock 1,200 years ago. Unlike many Hindu temples, the rocks show scenes of everyday life. Stunning Shore temple set at the edge of the waves features an altar to the god Siva that is lit by the rising and setting sun. Later on explore the Rock cut caves. Mahabalipuram has become a centre for stone carvers, and hundreds ply their trade in the streets and alleys of the old town. You may opt for a dinner at one of the beachside restaurants.
After breakfast leave for Chennai City, a journey of about 2 hours. Arrive in Chennai and check-in at the hotel. In the afternoon visit the Pantheon Complex (closed on Sundays and National Holidays) which has the Government museum- see the Bronze Gallery and the National Art Gallery. The Chennai museum (closed on Fridays) is famous for its splendid collection of Chola bronzes & The Kapaleeswarar temple with its massive and intricately carved gopurams reach out to the skies.
After breakfast proceed for sightseeing tour of Chennai visiting Kapaleeshwarar temple, St Marys Church and Cathedral of San Thome. Drive along the Marina beach seeing the Presidency College, the statue of Triumph of Labour . In the late afternoon transfer to the Chennai International Airport for your onwards flight. The Cathedral of San Thome, the last resting place of St. Thomas the Apostle who brought Christianity to India in 52 AD, and the Fort George - where most of Chennai early history was written are focal points of visit. ?The St Mary?s Church in the Fort was built in 1678 ? 80, and Robert Clive was married in this church in 1753. Elihu Yale who in his later years founded the famous Yale University in the US, was one of the early Governors of Madras as it was then known. Today, the Fort houses the Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly.End point FINAL DEPARTURE FROM INDIA, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India