Arrival. Namaste! We are warmly welcomed the traditional
Indian way with hands clapped together at the airport and
transferred to our hotel. The remainder of the day is free
Overnight: ITC Grand Central (2 Nights)
We start our day with a visit to the Gateway of India,
Mumbai's most famous monument. Here we embark on our excursion
to the Elephanta Caves*, located on an island in the Sea of
Oman. The caves contain a collection of rock art linked to
the cult of Shiva. Here, Indian art has found one of its most
perfect expressions, particularly the huge high reliefs in
the main cave. We return to Mumbai by motor launch and visit
the Prince of Wales Museum and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus*,
formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, an outstanding
example of Victorian Gothic Revival Architecture in India,
blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture.
The building, designed by the British architect F. W. Stevens,
became the symbol of Bombay as the ‘Gothic City’
and the major international mercantile port of India. Its
remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches and eccentric
ground plan are close to traditional Indian palace architecture.
Our Next Stop is at Mani Bhawan, where Mahatma Gandhi stayed
here during the Freedom Struggle. The house is now converted
into a Museum. From here we leave for the Jain Temple and
Hanging Gardens, the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence, the bustling
Crawford Market and drive past Haji Ali, the tomb of a wealthy
Muslim merchant. We end our tour at the Dhobi Ghat, the world's
largest outdoor laundry. The word Dhobi Ghat is used all over
India to refer to any place where many washers are present. (B, D)
03: Mumbai / Kochi
Today we are transferred to airport for our flight
to Kochi, formerly known as Cochin. On arrival, we are transferred
to our Hotel. Rest of the day is free for personal activities.
Overnight: Crowne Plaza Cochin (2 Nights) (B,
In the morning we explore Kochi, formerly known as
Cochin, Kerala’s commercial capital with one of the
finest natural harbours in the world. We visit St. Francis
Church, the oldest European Church in India. Vasco De Gama
was buried here before his remains were taken back to Portugal.
Next we visit the Roman Catholic Santa Cruz Cathedral built
by the Portuguese in the 16th century; which is famous for
beautiful paintings on its ceiling. We continue to the Jewish
Quarter with its Old Synagogue and the Dutch Palace, built
by the Portuguese. Later we take a boat cruise to visit Bolghatty
Palace and observe the fascinating Chinese fishing nets in
action. In the evening we enjoy Kathakali Dance Performance.
This dramatized presentation of a play usually based on the
Hindu epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas, is a unique
combination of literature, music, painting, acting and dance. (B, D)
05: Kochi / Thekkady
In the morning after breakfast we drive to Thekkady to check
in our hotel. The area is famous for its spice plantations
and after lunch we will visit a spice plantation, where cardamom,
pepper, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, all spice,
and tea are grown. We will also see Ayurvedic medicinal plants
and will have the opportunity to buy some garden fresh spices.
In the evening we return to our hotel for dinner.
Overnight: Thekkady Wild Corridor (2 Nights) (B, D)
Our day starts with a jungle walk at the Periyar
Wildlife Sanctuary in the early morning, after which we return
to our hotel for breakfast. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
is one of the world’s most fascinating natural wildlife
reserves. Spread across 777 square kilometres it was declared
a Tiger Reserve in 1978. In the afternoon we enjoy a boat
ride on Lake Periyar to watch animals in their natural habitat
by the water's edge. We are likely to see animals like boars,
Sambars, wild dogs, Langur monkeys and wild elephants. The
sanctuary is also a haven for water birds and we can see plenty
of darters, grey herons, egrets and kingfishers. The evening
is free to explore the local bazaar in Thekkady and purchase
some of the famous spices grown in the area. (B, D)
07: Thekkady / Kumarakom
Today we drive to Kumarakom, a beautiful paradise
of mangrove forests, emerald green paddies and coconut groves
interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals adorned
with white lilies situated by Vembanad Lake. On arrival in
Kumarakom we board our traditional houseboat and begin our
journey through the picturesque backwaters and small lakes
relaxing in the tranquility of Kerala's beautiful scenery.
On our journey we come across many boats, canoes and other
crafts, as we observe the traditional way of life and activities
of the local people.
Overnight: Air-conditioned Deluxe House Boat (B, L,
08: Alleppey / Kovalam
We enjoy breakfast on board, sail to Alleppey and
disembark at the Puthenagady Jetty. A comfortable drive gets
us to beautiful Kovalam Beach on the Malabar Coast near Trivandrum.
We then get to relax by the beach with endless white sands
by the blue waters of the Arabian Sea in secluded a coconut
Overnight: Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort (2 Nights) (B,
Free day to relax on the beach. (B, D)
10: Kovalam / Kanyakumari / Madurai
After breakfast we leave for Madurai, visiting Kanyakumari,
the “Lands’ End" of India on the way. Kanyakumari
is the southernmost tip of peninsular India where the waters
of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea
meet. We visit the Temple of Goddess Kumari, the Vivekananda
Rock Memorial in the sea where Swami Vivekananda mediated.
After lunch we continue our journey to Madurai. On arrival,
we check in our Hotel.
Overnight: Hotel Sangam (2 Nights) (B,
Today we explore Madurai, the second largest city
in Tamil Nadu. The city revolves around the Meenakshi Amman
Temple, a structure in the Dravidian style of architecture.
The complex houses 14 gopurams(gateway towers) ranging
from 45-50m in height, the tallest being the southern tower,
51.9 metres (170 ft) high, and two golden sculptured shrines
over sanctum of the main deities. The temple is a significant
symbol for the Tamil people, and has been mentioned since
antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure
was built from 1623 to 1655. There are an estimated 33,000
sculptures in the temple and amongst the highlights are the
Hall of a Thousand Pillars, the Tirumalai Nayaka Temple and
the Temple Art Museum. (B, D)
12: Madurai / Thanjavur
In the morning after breakfast we drive to Thanjavur and check
in at our hotel. Thanjavur is popularly known as Tanjore.
In the afternoon we explore the Brihadisvara Temple,
one of the Great Living Chola Temples*. The temple, set in
spacious grounds, has several pillared halls and shrines.
Inscriptions record the names of dancers, musicians and poets
a reminder of the significance of this area to the development
of the arts in the 11th century. We end our tour of Tanjore
with a visit to the Tanjore Palace & Museum, which has
an eclectic collection of regal memorabilia most of it dating
from the early 19th century.
Overnight: Hotel Sangam (B, D)
Day 13: Thanjavur / Pondicherry
In the morning after breakfast we drive to Pondicherry. This
former French Colonial city in Tamil Nadu didn’t come
under Indian rule until 1954. Pondicherry, otherwise known
as Puducherry means a “New Hamlet” and is located
on the Coromandal Coast. Its main attraction is actually outside
of town: the ashram at Auroville, built by followers of Sri
Aurobindo, a philosopher-prophet born in 1870, famous for
his Integral Yoga and philosophical literary works. In the
International Town where people from all over the world reside,
we will find the Matrimandir, the famous monument built by
the Auroville Society representing a lotus flower. Today
we will also visit the 400-year old Manakula Vinayagar Temple,
which has several frescos telling the life story of a half
human and half animal lord.
Overnight: Hotel Sunway GRT Grand (B, D)
14: Pondicherry / Mahabalipuram / Chennai
In the morning after breakfast we drive to Mahabalipuram.
On arrival we check in at our hotel. In the afternoon we visit
the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram*. This group of sanctuaries,
founded by the Pallava kings, was carved out of rock along
the Coromandel Coast in the 7th and 8th centuries. It is known
especially for its rathas (temples in the form of chariots),
mandapas (cave sanctuaries), giant open-air reliefs such as
the famous 'Descent of the Ganges', and the temple of Rivage,
with thousands of sculptures to the glory of Shiva. After
lunch, we continue our journey to Chennai. On arrival we check
in our Hotel. Rest of the day is free to relax.
Overnight: Sheraton Park Hotel & Towers (2 Nights) (B, L, D)
We tour Chennai, visiting the National Art Gallery
& Museum, which contains some of the best collections
of bronzes in the country including the famous icon of Natraja.
We continue to India's oldest surviving British church, St.
Mary's Church, built in 1680. We end our tour with a visit
to People’s Park and the beautiful Marina Beach and
the clock towers. (B, D)
16: Chennai / Mysore
Early morning we are transferred to railway station to embark
on tour express train to Mysore. Shatabdi Express trains are
fully air-conditioned and travellers enjoy complimentary meals
and seating comparable to business class on airlines. On arrival,
we are transferred to our hotel. In the afternoon we visit
the Maharajah's Palace, Shri Chamundeswari Temple and the
Nadi Shiva's Mount. Mysore has never failed to mesmerize with
its rich heritage, magnificent palaces, beautiful gardens,
imposing buildings, broad shady avenues and sacred temples.
The evening is free to enjoy the Vrindavan Garden and City
Palace, which is beautifully lit on certain days.
Overnight: Royal Orchid Metropole (B, D)
17: Mysore / Srirangapatam / Bangalore
18: Bangalore / Departure
In the morning after breakfast we drive to Bangalore,
visiting Srirangapatam, the island fortress that was once
the capital of the warrior-kings Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan,
the Tiger of Mysore, en-route. On arrival in Bangalore
we check in our Hotel. In the afternoon we explore Bangalore,
visiting the Vidhana Soudha, an imposing edifice built almost
entirely of dressed Bangalore granite, that houses the Legislative
Chambers of the state government; the 3000 acres of verdant
tranquility of Cubbon Park; Tipu Sultan's Palace, now a museum,
and one of the most remarkable Islamic buildings in the city;
Lal Bagh Garden, India's most beautiful botanical gardens
with rare trees brought from far off Persia, Afghanistan and
France. The evening is free for shopping in the local bazaar.
Overnight: ITC Windsor (B, D)
Today is free for shopping and other personal activities.
In the evening we enjoy our farewell dinner. After a memorable
journey through incredible India, we are transferred to the
airport for our departure home or to our next exciting destination. (B, D)