A short tour of God's own country - verdant hillsides with their bounty of spices; intensely green paddy fields, the backwaters, wildlife and lush countryside of Kerala. Cochin, where the journey begins, is a cluster of islands and one of the finest natural harbours in the world.
Taking you through tranquil backwaters to exotic tea plantations and spice gardens, promising a tryst with Indian wildlife as well as culture, the tour tastefully adds Madurai known for Meenakshi Temple, vibrant with living tradition.
- An English speaking local guide and air conditioned transfers
- Enjoy entertainment including a Kathakali Dance Show in Cochin, Boatride in Periyar Lake and more
- Stay in deluxe hotels and a fantastic houseboat
- Departs: london
- Arrives: cochin, India
- Departs: cochin, India
- Arrives: london
Best of Kerala with Madurai
- As Per Itinerary
- As Per Itinerary
- Enjoy a fabolous India tour in comfort
- Enjoy various extras during this tour
- Stay in fantastic hotels and houseboat
A short tour of God's own country - verdant hillsides with their bounty of spices; intensely green paddy fields, the backwaters, wildlife and lush countryside of Kerala.
Cochin, where the journey begins, is a cluster of islands and one of the finest natural harbors in the world. Taking you through tranquil backwaters to exotic tea plantations and spice gardens, promising a tryst with Indian wildlife as well as culture, the tour tastefully adds Madurai known for Meenakshi Temple, vibrant with living tradition.
Day 1 - Arrive Cochin
Arrive Cochin and you will be assisted & transferred in your private car to your hotel for check-in.
Kochi (colonial name Cochin) is a vibrant city situated on the south-west coast of the Indian peninsula in the breathtakingly scenic and prosperous state of Kerala, hailed as 'God's Own Country'. Its strategic importance over the centuries is underlined by the sobriquet Queen of the Arabian Sea. Informally, Cochin is also referred to as the Gateway to Kerala.
Rest of the day is at leisure to overcome Jetlag / for independent activities.
Overnight at the hotel
Day 2 - Cochin
After breakfast you will proceed for the half day sightseeing tour of Cochin City.
Your city tour will begin with the visit to Mattancherry and visit the oldest Jewish Synagogue (Closed on Fridays Saturdays & All the Jewish holidays) in India, built in 1568; it was destroyed by the Portuguese and rebuilt by the Dutch a century later. You will also visit The Dutch Palace - which was built in 1555 and its coronation hall and murals at Ramayana are noteworthy features. Your next stop will be St. Francis Church, originally named after Santo Antonio and dedicated to him as the Patron Saint of Portugal, St. Francis Church is the first church to have been in the new European influenced tradition. Originally a wooden building was replaced by the present stone building. Vasco De Gamma died on the site in 1524 and was originally buried in the cemetery. 14 years later his body was removed to Portugal. The church was renamed St. Francis in 1663.
In the evening, you will be taken to a Kathakali dance centre where you will witness the most elaborate of the dance forms in southern India. Here you will witness the artists readying themselves up with the make up for the final performance. Kerala owes its transnational fame to this nearly 300 years old classical dance form, which combines facets of ballet, opera, masque and the pantomime. It is said to have evolved from other performing arts like Kootiyattam, Krishnanattam and Kalarippayattu. Kathakali explicates ideas and stories from the Indian epics and Puranas. Presented in the temple precincts after dusk falls Kathakali is heralded by the Kelikottu or the beating of drums in accompaniment of the Chengila (gong).
Overnight at the hotel
Day 3 -Cochin To Alleppey
Today morning after breakfast, you will be transferred in your private vehicle to Alleppey (60 kms / 02 Hrs).
Also called Alappuzha, Alleppey is a pleasant easy-going market town surrounded by coconut plantations. With its large network of canals, it is a major center for backwater cruises and the venue for spectacular snake boat races. Also called "Venice of the East", the town is the headquarters of Kerala's coir industry and also important for cashew nut processing.
Climb aboard the traditional kettuvallams (riceboats) converted into houseboats with bedrooms and attached toilets. Originally these boats were used as ferries to carry rice. Cruise through the backwaters of Kerala. Houseboat is one of the 50 "must do" things as described by the National Geographic Traveller magazine. The backwater cruise through the narrow canals that criss-cross a typical Kerala Village, rich with green paddy fields and verdant coconut trees and is a thrilling experience. The boat cruise takes you to small islets tucked away amidst those waters where you get glimpses of village at the best of its serenity and innocence. Lunch and dinner will be served on board.
Overnight on board.
Day 4 -Alleppey To Thekkady
Morning post breakfast you will be driven to Thekkady (140 kms / 4.5 Hrs). Upon arrival proceed for check-in at hotel
The very sound of the word Thekkady conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hills and spice scented plantations. The Periyar forests of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India. Spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold great opportunities for treks and mountain walks.
Evening, enjoy the Kalaripayattu show. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 5 - Thekkady
Today morning proceed for common boat ride at the Lake Periyar. The Periyar Tiger Reserve and National Park - Established in 1934 as the Nelliampatty Sanctuary, the park was enlarged in 1950 and is India's southernmost tiger reserve. The lake covers some 10 sq. miles and most of the sanctuary is undulating. Since boat travel is the only means of transport in the park, large areas can be covered in a short time. Among the game found here are gaur (the largest of the world's wild oxen), elephant, wild pig, sambar, barking deer, mouse deer, the rare and endangered lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri langur, the common langur and the bonnet macaque, porcupine, Malabar squirrel, wild dog and tiger.
Later proceed for a guided walk through spice plantation to see the cultivation of cardamom, pepper, vanilla and coffee.
Optional - Interactive Session with the Elephants (GBP 20 Per Person)
In this programme we give you the opportunity to try a new and unforgettable experience, off the beaten tracks of the very traditional elephant walk offered by the Periyar National Park, or on the roads of Kerala.
Five elephants live in this farm, under the attentive care of their Mahouts. A very particular relationship is here created between these wonderful pachyderms and you, and we offer you the opportunity to spend a rare and special moment with them. Located just outside of the city, nestled within the cardamom, coffee and pepper plantations, the surrounding itself is already very peaceful.
During this 1.30 hour, you will get the chance to feed your new friend, do a walk within the plantations, and then give him his bath.
Evening is at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 6 - Thekkady To Madurai
Today morning after breakfast, you will be driven to Madurai (140 kms / 4 Hrs). Upon arrival proceed for check-in at hotel.
Most cities in India have a legend surrounding its origins. Madurai is no exception, and the story tells how Shiva looked down on this city and drops of nectar fell from his locks and so it was named Madurai, or city of nectar. Ancient Madurai was a center of Tamil culture, famous for its writers and poets and the history goes back to the 6th century BC when it traded with Greece and Rome. The Nayakas laid out the old town in the pattern of a lotus with narrow streets surrounding the Minakshi Temple at the center. Spend the evening at leisure. Stay overnight in Madurai.
Spend the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 7 - Madurai
Today visit the magnificent Minakshi Temple that is an outstanding structure dedicated to Minakshi the "fish eyed goddess" and the consort of Shiva who also has a temple dedicated to him. Since Minakshi is the presiding deity, the daily ceremonies are first performed at her shrine. This is a living temple and each shrine has priests performing rituals in front of them and there is also a temple elephant. The temple is entered through massive gopurams or gateways profusely covered in very colorful carvings, which are believed to be an encyclopaedia of Indian dance poses. The mandapas surrounding the main shrine have exquisitely carved pillars and panels. Of note is the panel showing the marriage between Shiva and Minakshi and another showing Shiva in 24 forms.
Also visit the elegant Thirumalai Nayaka Palace that was built in 1636 in the Indo Mughal style, its 15 domes and arches are adorned with stuccowork. Its Celestial Pavilion, an arcaded octagonal structure, is curiously constructed in brick and mortar without supporting rafters.
The original complex had an armory, a theatre, royal quarters and a shrine. Only a quarter remains since Thirumalai's grandson removed sections to build another palace in Tiruchirapalli.
Late evening revisit the Temple to attend the night ceremony at the temple. This is a ceremony that takes place every evening when the temple bronze of Lord Shiva is carried to the bedchamber of Parvati. The procession is accompanied by religious prayer and temple music.
Day 8 - Madurai To Munnar
Today post breakfast you will be driven from Madurai to Munnar (160 kms / 4.5 Hrs). On arrival proceed for check-in at your hotel.
Munnar is the nature-lover's paradise. Snuggling in the green and serene Kannan Devan Hills lies the quiet and restful resort of Munnar. Panoramic views of low-flying clouds and mist filled valleys make it a pretty little heaven with a cool bracing climate. It was opened up out of virgin forests a century ago by pioneering planters. Within its remote and elderly churches - gracious, stone-structures with ancient chandeliers and rosewood pews. A little beyond lies Anaimudi, South India's highest peak.
Spend the rest of the evening at leisure. Overnight at the hotel
Day 9 - Munnar To Cochin
Today morning after breakfast enjoy a visit to the tea factory & plantations.
Later you will be transferred in your private car back to Cochin (135 kms / 04 Hrs). On arrival proceed for check-in at your hotel.
Evening is at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 10 - Depart Cochin
Today morning on time, you will be transferred in your private car to Cochin International airport to connect flight for onward destination.
END OF TOUR
Sita travel were helpful and efficient - excellent driver and guides Raj hotel and 2 visits to temple in Madurai were highlights
Andy Fogell reviewing Best of Kerala with Madurai (29-Jan-2017)
£1019 per person
Your holidays include:
- Representation Services