Departure Date: 08/12/2019
Also known as Cochin, Kochi is a city in southwest India's coastal Kerala state. This attractive city has served as a popular port for over 600 years and is known for its eclectic architecture and its array of religious monuments, museums, galleries, cafes and antique shops.
The city stretches across a number of peninsulas and islands, which can be reached by a network of water taxis and bridges. The majority of Kochi’s visitor highlights can be found on the peninsula of Fort Kochi. These highlights include the St Francis Church, the oldest European-built church in India; and Mattancherry Palace, which dates back to 1557 and contains some exceptional Kerala murals and temple art. Other must-see attractions include the Kerala Folklore Museum, displaying more than 4,000 cultural and ethnic artifacts; the 16th-century Jewish Synagogue; and the local market, where the air is filled with the aroma of exotic spices.
Day 1: Arrive Cochin
On arrival at Cochin airport you will be received by a Travel Counsellor Representative and he will transfer you to your hotel for check in. (Standard check in time – 1400 Hrs)
Overnight: Hotel Arches
Built at the heart of the enchanting and historic Fort Kochi, across from the famed St. Francis Church, Hotel Arches distills and blends the essence of European heritage and with local cosmopolitan temperament. The hotel's beautifully detailed colonial architecture offers guests a cool respite of tiled floors and wooden ceilings. Hotel Arches, Fort Kochi features deluxe rooms and one suite. Each room is equipped with a well appointed modern bath and air conditioning. Enjoy the warmth of traditional furnishings, handcrafted by local master cabinetmakers. Open Room, the hotel's rooftop restaurant features beautiful panoramic views. Guests can take in the charming tree top vistas of the settlement's roofs and spires under traditional tiled space.
Day 2: In Cochin
After breakfast enjoy half day sightseeing tour of Cochin.
In the evening enjoy Kathakali Dance Show.
Fort Kochi takes its name from a long-gone fort which was built during its occupation by the Portuguese. The Portuguese were followed by the Dutch, who left their own legacy, and hot on their heels came the British with their own unique ways. Independent now for many years, Fort Kochi remains a colourful melting pot of diversity, retaining its colourful history in its architecture and culture.
The best way to experience Fort Kochi is on foot and tour operators offer a variety of walking tours where visitors are taken to sites such as the historical Santa Cruz Basilica, Cochin Bishop House, the Dutch Cemetery, the Parade Ground, the famous St Francis Church, and the Indo-Portuguese Museum. Visitors can also buy a map and go on a self-guided tour.
Visitors to Fort Kochi would invariably be treated to many a cultural representation. They all have left their marks in the form of traders, asylum seekers, rulers and those who came to spread their religious faiths. What we are going to unravel is a landmark in a place called Mattancherry in Fort Kochi; a monumental one that rose from the cultural traits and religious beliefs of a community that came to Kochi seeking asylum. The Jews of Fort Kochi, who fled their homeland - Israel during the Diaspora embraced Fort Kochi as their second home.
A short walk from Mattancherry bus stand or from the boat jetty nearby would take you to the Jewish Synagogue, situated at one end of the Jew Street in the Jew Town enclave of Mattancherry in Fort Kochi. This synagogue was built in 1568 by the Malabar Yehudans or Cochin Jewish community. It was built close to the Mattancherry Palace Temple on the land gifted by King Rama Varma, a former ruler of Kochi. The Mattancherry Palace Temple and the Mattancherry synagogue share a common wall. This synagogue at Mattancherry is the oldest one in the Commonwealth of Nations.
As one approaches the synagogue on Jew Street, its white facade begins to appear very prominently. A clock tower can also be seen, towering over and close to the facade. This was built in 1760 by Ezekiel Rahabi an affluent Jewish businessman. Of the four faces of the clock, the one facing the maharaja's palace showed the time in Malayalam. And among the other three, the face with etchings in Roman numerals was meant for the traders. Of the remaining two faces of the clock, one had writings in Hebrew while the other remains blank.
Stepping inside the Synagogue, one's eyes would easily go to the glass chandeliers and blue willow-patterned Chinese floor tiles. The chandeliers are of Belgian origin. Also of interest are the Scrolls of the Law housed here and the several gold crowns received as gifts and the brass-railed pulpit. And for some exclusive pieces from history, the synagogue also houses the copper plates of privileges given to Joseph Rabban, the earliest known Cochin Jew, dating from the 10th century, written in Tamil, by the ruler of the Malabar Coast.
Kathakali is a highly stylized classical kerala dance performance noted for its attractive make-up of characters, their elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music and complementary percussion.
Kathakali is nearly a 300 year old classical dance form, said to have evolved from other performing arts like Kootiyattam (a classical Sanskrit drama existing in Kerala), Krishnanattam and Kalarippayattu. Kathakali explicates ideas and stories from the Indian epics and Puranas.
Day 3: Cochin- Munnar
Idyllically set at the confluence of three mountain streams, Munnar is a beautiful hill station in the Western Ghats mountain range in India’s Kerala state. The village once served as a popular vacation resort for the British Raj elite who flocked to here to enjoy the pleasant cool climate and the scenic natural surroundings characterised by rolling hills dotted with colonial bungalows, streams, waterfalls and 19th-century tea plantations. The main attraction in the area is the extraordinary Eravikulam National Park, which is famous for its diverse array of wildlife including the endangered mountain goat known as Nilgiri tahr. The park is also home to the exquisite Lakkam Waterfalls, some excellent hiking trails, and the impressive 2,695m-tall Anamudi Peak.
After breakfast, you will be driven to Munnar (approx 160 kms/ 05 hours drive)
Arrive Munnar and check in at the hotel.
Spend rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight: The Tall Trees Munnar
Not far away from the most sought-after wild-life sanctuaries of South India and close to one of the most popular hill stations on the Western Ghats, the Tall Trees Resorts nestles on a verdant slope among misty mountains and evergreen forests. It is a unique property of 66 acres that has successfully preserved the pristine nature without any change to the delicate ecologic equilibrium, even though all the modern creature comforts are tastefully arranged in each of the well appointed cottages nestling among the greenery.
The property has hundreds of old and tall trees overshadowing the resort landscape covered with stretches of preserved wilderness, carefully nurtured cardamom plantations, gurgling streams, rocky formations, wet and green with moss and lichens and the numerous orchids and wild plants covering the tree barks and rocks. The highly endemic species of birds, butterflies, moths, small and harmless wild animals and several varieties of wild flowers all cohabit and make this piece of nature a reflection of the Garden of Eden.
The whole air is suffused with the honeymoon ambience with all the privacy and security that you have ever dreamed of. The sound of birds singing, humming of the bumble bees and chirping of the crickets, the rustle of leaves and the swishing of branches as the perennial breeze plays with them, the gurgling sound of the stream, all add to the 'honeymoon in the lap of nature' ambience. The shady trees, the flower-bedecked bushes and vines, the aroma of exotic flora and the colourful butterflies add to the enchanting aura.
Day 4: In Munnar
After breakfast enjoy half day sightseeing tour of Munnar.
Tata Tea Museum is a popular tourist spot situated in Munnar of Kerala. It is situated at a distance of about 12 km from the resort. This tea museum is first of its kind in India. It is located at KDHP’s Nullatanni estate in Munnar. The aim of this museum according to its founders is to showcase the growth of more-than-a-century-old tea plantations in this region. Anyone visiting this museum will get a clear picture of how laborious this tea processing really is.
A section of the Tea museum also houses classic bungalow furniture, typewriters, wooden bathtub, magneto phone, iron oven, manual calculators and EPABX of the1909 telephone system.
Visit to the Tea factory. Tea was first brought to Munnar by James Finlay & Sons who formed the Kannan Devan Hill Produce Company which has ultimately become Tata Tea Company. A visit to the tea factory gives one an insight into the fascinating process of tea making.
Day 5: Munnar- Thekkady
A tourist attraction in Kerala, Thekkady is a district located at the Periyar National Park. Thekkady comprises evergreen forests and savanna grasslands, and is known for its natural spices such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove. Elephants, tigers, sambar and many other species inhabit the park. Top attractions include the exquisite ancient Mangla Devi Temple, the aromatic Abraham’s spice garden, and the massive waterfall at the sleepy, picturesque village of Chellarkovil. Take in panoramic views of the extraordinary landscape from the Chellarkovil viewpoint, and picnic on the rolling, lush green lawns at Pandikuzhi. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Kadathanadan Kalari Centre, to see demonstrations of the best traditional martial arts. Thekaddy is home to India’s sole Tiger Reserve, and has a rich living tribal culture.
After breakfast, you will be driven to Thekkady (approx. 110 kms/ 04 hours drive)
Arrive Thekkady and check in at the hotel.
Spend rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight: Poetree Sarovar Portico
From the shaded seclusion of this property, designed with minimalist and aesthetic principles, guests can relax in luxury and admire unforgettable views over the Periyar forest and across expansive mountain ranges, with the distant backdrops of waterfalls and the ever-providing Periyar River. From each room, guests can soak in a calm and serene vibe, a feeling of being one with the land, distinct to Periyar and Thekkady.
Day 6: In Thekkady
Early morning proceed for a Nature walk at Periyar National park.
Later visit Spice Plantations.
Different nature trails traversing diverse habitats form the trekking routes, generally 4 to 5 km. in length. This is an interpretive program offering excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The trails often pass through evergreen and moist deciduous forests interspersed with marshy grasslands. The program is offered between 7.00 am and 10.30 am and between 2.00 pm. and 3.00 pm. and lasts for about 3 hours. A maximum of 5 persons can go for trekking at a time along each nature trail, accompanied by a trained tribal guide. The Nature walk is the right program to feel nature, hear her whispers and smell her flowers.
The trip covers spice plantations such as cardamom, pepper, vanilla, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, ayurvedic herbs etc. Over twelve varieties of spices including ginger, garlic, cardamom, vannilla, pepper, cinnamon, coffee, tea, clove and nutmeg is cultivated in Thekkady and its neighboring villages.
Day 7: Thekkady- Alleppey
Located in the Indian state of Kerala, the bustling city of Alappuzha, also known as Alleppey, is set along the coast of the Laccadive Sea. Dubbed the ‘Venice of the East’, it is renowned for its houseboat cruises which float along the tranquil backwater canals of Kerala. It is said to be one of the most popular tourist centres in the state. While cruising the palm-shaded canals is the main attraction, visitors can also enjoy visiting Alappuzha’s beautiful beaches, exploring the little riverside villages dotting the lush countryside and discovering an array of resplendent temples. Don’t miss the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race held at Punnamada Lake.
After early breakfast, you will be driven to Alleppey (Approx. 130 Kms / 4 Hours drive).
On arrival board the Houseboat by 12:30 Hrs. for a cruise over the backwaters of Kerala.
Note: Houseboat will be anchored in the evening till morning as per regulations. Also note that air-conditioner in the room will operate only from 9 pm till 7 am.
Overnight: Deluxe Houseboat
The houseboats or Kettuvallam as they are traditionally called were at one time the mode of transportation for man and goods. Today, these are made to cater to the discerning guests who can lay back and enjoy the gentle cruise. Cruise the backwaters from the main Vembanad Lake through the small estuaries that link small villages to the mainland. Today, these are refurbished and all modern conveniences have been added for tourists who visit this beautiful water locked region of the country. The houseboat cruise takes you through the intricate maze of backwaters, mesmerizing and surprising you at every turn with its serene beauty & simple charm. Enjoy the countryside of Kerala at its best. Soak your eyes & soul with array of coconut trees & endless paddy fields. You will also get chance to take a small stroll through the villages & interact with the locals.
Day 8: Alleppey- Marari
Situated only 40 km from the city of Cochin, in the Alappuzha district of Kerala, Mararikulam is a charming little coastal village known for its pristine sand beaches, swinging coconut palms and quiet, laidback atmosphere. The village has managed to avoid the mass development associated with many of the other beach towns in the area resulting in an untouched natural environment dotted with only a handful of small resorts. The main attraction in the area is the exquisite Marari beach where you will find fishermen heading out daily to fish the waters of this stretch of the Malabar coast, much as their ancestors have done for generations.
After breakfast, disembark the houseboat and you will be driven to Mararikulam (approx 14 kms/ 30 minutes drive)
Arrive Marari and you will be transferred to the hotel for check in.
Spend rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight: Abad Turtle Beach Resort
The resort is located at Mararikulam - a fishing village about 15 km from Allapuzha. Spread across an area of 13 acres, the resort overlooks the white sandy Marari beach. The Abad Turtle Beach hotel is an ideal family vacation destination.
Day 9-10: In Marari
Day Itinerary. Breakfast at the hotel.
These days you will be at leisure in Marari (No vehicle will be at disposal). You may enjoy the spa and Ayurvedic treatments directly from the hotel’s wide variety of treatments (on direct payment basis)
Day 11: Marari- Cochin Int’l airport departure
Breakfast at the hotel (Standard check out time is 1200 Hrs)
At an appropriate time, you will be assisted & transferred to Cochin airport (approx 50 kms/ 02 hours drive) to board the flight for onward journey.
Return flights ex Johannesburg via Dubai to Kerala, approx. airport taxes, 10 nights’ accommodation on Double/Twin Sharing basis at the hotels mentioned above; meal plan as indicated in the itinerary, half day Cochin sightseeing and Kathakali Dance Show; Tea Factory and Tea Museum visits in Munnar [subject to availability]; Nature walk & Spice Plantation in Thekkady: Sightseeing tours as stated with local English speaking guides; Entrance fee to the places of visit; All transfers, sightseeing Tours and excursions will be by an air-conditioned Toyota Innova or similar; Travel Counsellors representative for assistance on all arrival and departure transfers with meet and assist; A cell with local SIM for the length of stay in India; Mineral water and picnic hamper in the vehicle; All currently applicable taxes, including the service tax of 5% applicable on total invoice amount.
10 Nights from R35,699 pps
These offers are brought to you by Travel Counsellors (Pty) Ltd. Valid: 8 - 19 Dec 2019. Offers are per person sharing. Rates for other periods are available on request. Packages are subject to availability, seasonal surcharge; high season supplements, flight price increases and currency fluctuations. Packages excludes: Flights, airport taxes, visas, items of a personal nature, meals and drinks not indicated and travel insurance. Supplier's terms and conditions are available on request. Additional information available on request. Valid for SA residents only. Terms and conditions apply. Prices and information correct at time of publishing. E&OE.