Temples and Nature
TOUR WITH A THEME
Memorable experiences with Nature, Heritage and Culture in God ’s own. country
Kerala is one of India’s most inviting travel destinations, it has a little of everything to offer everybody – rivers, canals, oceans, mountains, valleys and beaches, modern infrastructure, timeless culture and art, friendly people, delicious cuisine and warm hospitality.
- 15 days
- Discover tour
- 2 days walk
- House-boat on backwaters
- Old Cochin, Kathakali dance theater
- Munnar, mountain trekking
Walk though National Park of Periyar
- Sri Meenakshi Temple in Madurai
- Kovalam and Varkala beaches
19/12/06 - 02/01/07
30/01/07 - 13/02/07
27/02/07 - 13/03/07
27/03/07 - 10/04/07
Arrival in the morning at Trivandrum International Airport. Transfer by bus (1 hr) to Kovalam Beach.
Kovalam is one of the most celebrated beaches on the West Coast of Kerala. The ocean here is ideal for swimming and the beach for sunbathing.
Kovalam is famous for delicious sea food, which many fine restaurants here are serving. One can also take advantage of a variety of herbal and natural massages for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Hotel in Kovalam
Transfer to Quilon for a boat ride though the tranquil backwaters, which are Kerala’s unique trademark.
These backwaters are a complex of lagoons, lakes and rivers that will make for a most memorable travel experience. Our first stop is the Amrit Anandamayi Ashram, home of an internationally renowned yogini.
From here we transfer to Alleppey. Hotel in Allepey.
D3: Cruise on "House-Boat"
These big boats – called Kettuvallam – are floating hotels with all the modern amenities. They are well-furnished with private rooms and bathrooms. In the past, such boats were used to carry products of the region and building material along the backwaters.
Lunch will be served on the deck as we come aboard, just as the boat leaves the jetty. The cruise will take us along the rippling backwaters fringed by innumerable coconut palms, and we will breathe in the paradise-like quality of this beautiful trip. We will also pass many villages along the way, typical of the backwater region and unlike those on the mainland.
Night on the house-boat.
Transfer to Cochin (1h).
Today the city has been renamed “Kochi” (its original name). This city was built on a small cluster of islands around a narrow peninsula.
Blessed with a natural harbour, it had been from ancient times an important trading destination for all the major civilizations of the world. Formerly referred to as the spice capital of the world, the character of Kochi as we witness it today was created by the Portuguese and the Dutch who, in turn, occupied this beautiful town in the lap of the Arabian Sea.
We will walk though the narrow streets of the old city and discover its wonderful secrets from the past – stately houses and buildings from Portuguese times, the Dutch palace, the tomb of Vasco de Gama (the first Portuguese visitor to India), the synagogue (the only one of its kind in southern India), and the famous Chinese fishing nets along the beach.
Sightseeing afternoon: free to explore the town on your own. It has many shops selling curios and handicrafts. If you are an art lover, pay a visit to “Kasi Art Gallery / Café” located on the opposite side of the Park on the promenade across from the Chinese fishing nets.
In the evening, we will take in a performance of Kerala’s unique art/dance form – Kathakali.
D6: From the sea...to the mountain: Cochin - Munnar
Transfer to Munnar, a reputed hill-station on the Western Ghats (the biggest mountain range in the South of India), located at an altitude of 1500m.
Discovered by the British in the latter part of the 19thcentury and developed by them for tea, spice and coffee cultivation, Munnar is a small town surrounded by bubbling streams, beautiful trekking paths, cascading waterfalls, rare wildlife and splendid views.
D7: Trekking around Munnar
Transfer to ”Silent Valley”. The trek from an altitude of 4500' gradually goes to over 8000’ and passes through sholas and mountain streams which criss-cross the area. After, a climb will bring us to Meesapulimala (the hill of the mustache tiger! 2630m), the second highest point of the Western Ghats. Picnic on the top, the views from here are breathtaking – a 6-hour walk. Bivouac overnight.
D8: Munnar / Periyar
We experience different landscapes on the second day of trekking. A 4-hour walk. Transfer by bus to Periyar. Hotel.
Periyar is a famed natural reserve in Thekkady, a few hours drive from Munnar, located at an altitude of 1000m and situated across a lake, the Periyar Lake, named after the river that flows into it. We will have a walk in the Reserve Parks with trained forest guides, who may be able to help us spot some of the wide variety of animals that live here.
Afternoon: sightseeing at a spice-garden. Hotel
D10: Periyar / Madurai
Madurai, one of the oldest cities in South India, has been a center for religious training and pilgrimage for many centuries. In the heart of the town is the 1000-year old Meenakshi Temple (the fish eyed Goddess – a manifestation of Shakti, the female divine principle in the cosmos), with its complex corridors and holy shrines, one of the finest examples of Dravidian craft and temple architecture. Its huge Gopuram at the entrance and walls are covered with many delightful sculptures and figures representing many symbols of Indian mythology, culture and religion. It is a truly elevating experience to visit this temple and its colorful courtyards.
D11: Cape Comorin
Morning: shopping in the market of Madurai. After lunch transfer to Cape Cormorin (whose principal town is Kanyakumari), the southern most tip of the Indian peninsula, or land’s end. Three of India’s oceans – the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean – meet here. Hotel in Kanyakumari.
D12 : Kanyakumari
Owing to its geographical peculiarity Kanyakumari (the place of the virgin Goddess) is sacred to Indians and draws many visitors. It also gives you splendid views of the ocean at sunrise and sunset – two things that every tourist is advised not to miss.
Because of its location by the sea and its tranquil atmosphere, Kanyakumari is a place that moves the religious and those who are spiritually inclined. The visionary saint/ statesman of pre-independence India, Vivekananda, spent time here in reflection and founded his center for the overall development of Indian youth. The famous Vivekananda offshore rock-memorial out at sea is visited by countless tourists each year. The temple of the virgin goddess is also an attraction.
Transfer to Varkala, en route stop to visit the magnificent Padmanabhapuram Palace. This was the abode of the erstwhile rulers of Travancore (now Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu), built almost entirely with wood. Its architecture and form are splendid and say much about the high levels of aesthetics possessed by the craftspeople of that time.
D 14: The Varkala Beaches
Varkala is a very pleasant coastal town located on the otp of giant red sandstone (laterite) cliffs, overlooking the ocean in many places. The place is famous for natural health and rejuvenating therapies owing to the presence of laterite (a mineral) in the soils here. One can relax on the beach though the ocean is not always conducive to swimming. Large coconut and cashew groves atop cliffs make for wonderful sight. Further North of the town is the world famous Sri Narayana Guru Matt or Ashram founded by India's reformer guru - Sri Narayana - who preached human unity at the turn of the last century when Keralite society was essentially feudalistic. The ashram has a small museum depicting
chapters in its founder's life, as well as a big library hosting countless titles on philosophy and religion from all parts of the world. Many senior monks of this order have become famous writers, activities, educators and social workers, who have contributed much to the advancement of the poor and underprivileged in Kerala. The ashram welcomes visitors who are keen to know about its work. There is also a "silent space" if you are the contemplative type.
D 15: Flight