Essence of Kerala
A two Weeks tour covering the best known tourist destinations in Kerala. Beginning in Cochin or Kochi as its known today, visit Munnar, a hill station much loved for its cool climate and beautiful tea plantations, and then to Periyar, famous for its wildlife and thereafter to the backwaters finally ending on the beaches of Kovalam.
The below itinerary is only a pilot programme to give you an idea on the destinations which could be covered within a certain period. It will be our pleasure to customise the programme to suite your interests, budget and duration. Please feel free to contact us for any such customisation and prices.
Day 01 – Cochin
On arrival at Cochin Airport, you will be met & transferred to your hotel. Day free to relax. Evening, enjoy Greenix Show which is a kaleidoscope of Indian classical art forms and martial arts. Overnight at Hotel .
Cochin the queen of the Arabian Sea is one of the most interesting cities of India and has one of the finest natural harbors in the world. A root-conscious people of Kerala have preserved their past not only in the form of history books but also in the form of monuments and palaces. Places, palaces and institutions of historic value are being preserved conscientiously.
Day 02 – Cochin
After breakfast,go for a guided city tour of Cochin.After sightseeing, proceed to Kumbalangi, a model Tourism Village.You will have lunch at Heritage Methanam Restaurent set on Cochin Backwates and later visit the fishermen village to watch the village activities and fish farm.Evening you may opt to spend time at the Chinese Fishing nets in Fort Cochin to watch the sunset.Return to your hotel for overnight stay.
Cochin Sightseeing - St Francis Church, built in 1510 by friars brought to India by Vasco da Gama, is the first European church built in India and is the site where Vasco da Gama was buried. The Jewish Synagogue was built in 1568, Chinese hand-painted tiles are one of the attraction. This, the only Synagogue in India has a nostalgic past of a Jewish Diaspora. The "Dutch Palace" was built in the 1550s; the palace contains excellent mythological murals and a rare example of traditional Keralite flooring - a subtle mix of burnt coconut shells, lime, plant juices and egg whites - which gives the effect of polished marble.
Kumbalangi is a village in Cochin, 13 kms away & it is identified as the first model fisheries and tourism village in India. Experience a ride by an autorikshaw through the narrow country roads from the main road and you can see the village folk engaged in different activities for there livelihood, may be a woman in her village provision shop, a farmer in his paddy field, a fisherman spreading his net, a kid with a fishing net ....it goes on.
Day 03 – Cochin
Morning, after breakfast, proceed for a village backwater Cruise with lunch. Afternoon back to Cochin. Afternoon free for shopping.Evening visit Pepper Trails Kitchen to witness a cookery demo followed by Dinner.Overnight at the Hotel.
Village backwater Cruise – An unforgettable journey in a country boat into the pristine backwater villages of Kerala.... goes through the zigzagging narrow canals and paddy fields fringed with coconut palms.....watch rare birds....country boat making....a natural fish farm where you can go fishing…You will witness coir making, toddy tapping and enjoy a typical Kerala lunch at a farmhouse.
Kerala has a distinctive cuisine, very unusual and different from the rest of India. Cooking in Kerala is all about discoveries, aromas and colours. Kerala cuisine is very hot and spicy and offers several gastronomic opportunities to those willing to experiment with the local cuisine. Traditionally, in Kerala food is served on a banana leaf. One has to take food with right hand. Tender coconut water is a refreshing nutritious thirst quencher..Seafood's are main diet of Coastal Kerala. Here at Pepper Trails, we are trying to pass on a tradition of our kitchen to the World. The cookery demo will be conducted at short distance away from Kochi, in the beautiful ambiance of a Kerala’s modern architectural bungalow, nestled on the top of a valley in its natural setting with a peaceful ambience combined with refreshing environment, promising to make your another day in Kerala a wonderful experience. Enjoy a warm welcome by the breath taking lush green landscape complimented by a welcome drink and... now you are a part of our home… This cookery demo is not just being in the kitchen, will give you hands on experience, you’ll learn to prepare 3-4 variety of Kerala’s delicacies in a friendly, relaxed, informal environment. Each dish will be demonstrated, prepared and cooked. You will then be able to enjoy tasting each dish and take home the recipes as a memento of your delicious day.
Day 04 -Cochin – Munnar
Morning, after breakfast, proceed to Munnar, known as nature lover’s paradise (04 Hours). You will drive through Midland crops like Rubber,arecnut,pineapple etc.Afternoon free to go for a plantation walk. Overnight at the Hotel.
Munnar… breathtakingly beautiful - a haven of peace and tranquility - an idyllic tourist destination in God's own country with unending expanses of tea plantations… pristine valleys and mountains…exotic species of flora and fauna in its wild sanctuaries and forests… aroma of spice scented cool air. Munnar has all these and more… It's the place you would love to visit… It’s the place you would wish never to leave.
Day 05: Munnar
Full day sight seeing of Munnar. Morning you will go for a guided Nature History tour of Munnar.You will also walk through the Tea Plantations.Later visit Tea Museum, Mattupetty etc... Overnight at the Hotel.
Set at an altitude of 6000 ft in Idukki district, situated at the confluence of three mountain streams, Munnar was the favored summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days. Sprawling tea plantations, picturesque towns, winding lanes, trekking and holiday facilities makes Munnar a holiday resort. Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands here is the Neelakurinji a flower, which bathes the hills in blue once every twelve years. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India - Anamudi - which towers over 2695 M and is an ideal spot for campers who like trekking.
Munnar History Trail is a soft hiking programme highlighting the following:
- Head works dam- the first hydro –electric project in Kerala built during the British period. The trail leading to the next destination from this point is passing through tea garden and lake side which gives a fine birding walk.
- The Blossoms Park – The Blossom park is attached to the Head works dam. The tunnel from the dam to the power house is located in the park. Plenty of exotic trees and plants from British period can be seen in this park
- High range club – It is a club of plantation managers constituted during the British period. An old golf course is also located in this club.
- Heather cottage – built and found during the British period , this is the first of its kind in Kerala. The founders practiced worshiped Anti-Christ
- Old hanging bridge – connecting the Old Munnar market with Club road
- The CSI church- Built during the British period where early planters were buried. It was built in memory of Eleanor Isabel – young wife of a planter died after 7 days of Marriage.
- Munnar Market- a beautiful vegetable and provision market
- Fusion Hill- where a mosque, church and temple are located face to face. It is the place which is mentioned in ‘Life of Pie’-
Day 06: Munnar
After breakfast at the Hotel, drive to Marayoor Sandalwood forest for a soft trek and later to visit a tribal village.Afternoon you will be taken to Chinnar National Park for a 3 hour trekking through the forest.Return to Munnar for overnight stay.
Munnar is a misty, lush green hill station up in the Anamalai range of Kerala; Munnar's tea gardens, some of the highest in the world, stretch up the sides of the hills and are interspersed with pockets of forest rich in birds. Its is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams - Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. Surrounded by almost 30 tea gardens that give it a picturesque view, Munnar is near Anaimudi, the highest peak of the Kerala Western Ghats.
Exotic and pristine, Marayoor is a unique place where tourism meets adventure. The enchanting beauty of Marayoor offers diversity in every aspect of the land and culture. Hamlets, rocky hills, rivers, brooks, cave temples, paddy and sugar cane fields, waterfalls, sandal wood and bamboo forests… Marayoor is famous for its natural sandalwood forests grown in natural abundance. Marayoor is the only place in Kerala where natural sandalwood forest is seen. Chinnar wild sanctuary is the haven for two highly endangered species-the grizzled giant squirrel and the star tortoise.
As you go on the nature trail in Chinnar, you are bound to come across a fascinating plethora of bird and animal life. In your journey to Anamalai, you will touch the main land again but on the eastern side of the Western Ghats. On the way you can see an entirely different way of village life from Kerala. The vast expanse of hundreds of crops, sacred groves, termite mount temples and if in season, can participate in a village festival like fire walk, Jelly Kettu (Bullfight) etc.
Chinnar Sanctuary is located in the eastern slope of Western ghats sharing its flora and fauna with Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and Eravikulam National Park. The sanctuary has an area of 90 sq.km. Chinnar has the unique thorny scrub forest with Xerophytic vegetation . The undulating terrain with rocky patches manifolds the scenic splendor of the sanctuary. As the altitude varies from 500 to 2,400 m above sea level within a few kilometer radius, there is a drastic variation in the climate and vegetation.
This sanctuary has also rainfall ranging from 600 mm to 3000 mm and a dry season ranging from three to six months Elephant, gaur, leopard, spotted deer, sambar, grizzled giant squirrel, hanuman languor etc. inhabit the Chinnar forests. The grizzled Giant squirrel is an endangered species.
Day 07 – Munnar – Periyar ( 3 Hours drive)
Today, you will be transferred to Periyar ,the famous wildlife destination of Kerala. Enroute stop at a Cardamom Plantation to interact with the planter and see the cultivation.Evening visit a Spice Plantation and an elephant farm for a safari. Overnight at Hotel.
Indian agriculture began by 9000 BC as a result of early cultivation of plants, and domestication of crops and animals. Settled life soon followed with implements and techniques being developed for agriculture. Plants and animals— considered essential to their survival by the Indians—came to be worshiped and venerated.
Indian spices include a variety of spices and herbs grown across the Indian subcontinent (South Asia). With different climates in different parts of the country, India produces a variety of spices, many of which are native to the Subcontinent, while others were imported from similar climates and have since been cultivated locally for centuries.Spices are typically heated in a pan with ghee or cooking oil before being added to a dish. Lighter spices are added last, and spices with strong flavor should be added first. Curry is not a spice, but a term which refers to any side dish in Indian cuisine. It could be with a gravy base or a dry item. A curry typically contains several spices blended together.
Periyar - Conjures up images of elephants, chains of hill and spice scented plantations. Here, in the crisp, cool air of the Western Ghats you will see a lot of wildlife and observe the way of life of simple mountain people. Periyar Tiger Reserve is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India, and spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold great opportunities for treks and mountain walks.
Day 08 – Periyar
Full day explore the wildlife of Periyar. Go for a guided trekking in the Wildlife Park. Afternoon visit a nearby village viewpoint to have a view of Tamilnadu. Evening you may visit local shops for buying spices.Also if you are interested, you may opt to go for a boating in the Periyar Lake. As the advance reservations are with restrictions, this is strictly subject to availability. Overnight at the Hotel.
The Thekkady sanctuary is one of the best in the country for watching and photographing wildlife. A cruise through the waters of Periyar Lake around which the wildlife sanctuary is situated, offers lots of photo opportunities. This is the only sanctuary in India where you can have the unique experience of viewing wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat on the lake. The greatest attraction of Periyar remains the large herds of wild elephants that come down to the lake's edge. Tigers are sighted when the forest water holes dry up and these animals come and drink water from the river.
Day 09 – Kumarakom
After breakfast, drive to Kumarakom, which is famous for its backwater & scenic beauty, sprinkled with traditional houseboats, country crafts, rural lifestyles and Tranquility. You may opt to go for a rejuvenating Ayurvedic Massage. Also you go for a village walk through the nearby villages. Overnight at the Resort.
The slender coconut palms standing here, there and everywhere, its never ending paddy fields, meandering lagoons and backwaters, mangroves nesting birds of a hundred varieties can peacefully calm and invigorate your mind with renewed inspiration for your vocation and life. And that is the pristine beauty of Kumarakom.
Day 10 – Kumarakom
Full day to explore the backwaters. You may opt to visit Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary by taking a boat which will be interesting. If you are interested you may try to join the local farmers working in the pady field or try your luck on fishing. Overnight at the Resort.
Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake and a picturesque, clean village like most places in Kerala. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is spread across 14 acres, the bird sanctuary is a favorite haunt of migratory birds and an ornithologist’s paradise. Egrets, darters, herons, teal, waterfowl, cuckoo, wild duck and migratory birds like the Siberian stork that live in flocks are a fascination for visitors. The best way to watch the birds of the Kumarakom sanctuary is a boat trip round the islands.
The village of Kumarakom, a cluster of little islands on the eastern banks of Vembanad Lake, is part of the Kuttanad region. The bird sanctuary here, spread across 14 acres, has an interesting variety of birdlife. If you are a bird enthusiast, visit the sanctuary between June and August, the breeding season of resident wetland birds such as Indian Darter, Little cormorant, different species of egrets and herons, white ibis, several species of kingfishers, etc. Between the months of November and May, the bushes and woods of the sanctuary play host to some rare migratory birds. The Vembanad lake body attracts waterfowl like pin-tailed duck, garganey teal, spot-billed duck, birds of prey like osprey, marsh harrier, steppe eagle, etc. Bird lovers can also take a boat trip to the nearby Kaipuzha Muttu, Pathiramanal, Narakathara, Thollayiram Kayal and Poothapandi Kayal to watch local birdlife and migrants which could easily be more than a hundred species.
Day 11 – Kumarakom
Full day explore the beauty of backwaters. You can have your rejuvenating Ayurvedic Massage here. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 12 – Houseboat
Enjoy your breakfast at the resort. By noon the Houseboat will pick you up from the resort jetty for a night’s stay. Your meals are cooked and served on board. Explore the amazing backwater life of Kerala! Overnight at the Houseboat.
What is truly magical about a houseboat is the breathtaking view of the untouched and otherwise inaccessible rural Kerala that it offers. The houseboats have all the creature comforts of a good hotel including furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cozy living rooms, a kitchen where are cooked on board and supplemented with fresh fish from the backwaters. Today, the tradition is still continued and the food from the local cuisine is served by the Kuttanad locals, on board. The name Backwaters brings you the very thought of Houseboats. Food and leisurely times spent on-board with the feeling and privacy of house as well as enjoying the natural beauty. A Cruise amidst marvelous mangrove forests, captivating coconut canopies, swaying palms, mangrove forests, pulsating paddy fields sprinkled with enchanting waterways and canals decked with white lilies, can be quite a rejuvenating experience for the weary traveler. Enjoying a cruise in these backwaters is not to be missed, as it leaves you feeling fully rejenuvated. The banks of these backwaters in Kerala are the most enchanting picnic spots. You get to experience the native way of living. The experience on the Houseboat is not the one to be explained by words.Its to be lived and evolved by yourself.
Day 13 – Kovalam
Morning, enjoy your breakfast on board! Later proceed to the world renowned beach destination of Kerala, Kovalam. On arrival, check in at the Hotel. Day free to enjoy the beach life. Overnight at the resort.
Kovalam is considered as the most trendy beach retreat in India. A combination of three small beaches, Kovalam, meaning "a groove of coconut trees," is just 16 km from the state capital of Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram. The sheltered natural bay, the azure blue waters and the sumptuous spread of green palm groves make it a tropical paradise of sorts. This enchanting strip of golden sands is adorned by coconut palms. With high rock promontory and a calm bay of blue waters, this beach paradise creates a unique aquarelle on moonlit nights. One can walk into the sea about 100 meters without loosing ground. The underwater views, which are visible during snorkeling, are a marvel.
Day 14 – Kovalam – Cape – Kovalam
After breakfast, proceed to Kanyakumari (Cape Comerin), the southern most tip of Indian peninsula (2 Hours). Enroute, visit the Sucheendram Temple & Padmanabhapuram Palace. Enjoy the sightseeing places of Kanyakumari. After sunset, drive back to Kovalam. Overnight at the resort.
Kanyakumari is the only place in India where one can enjoy the unique experience of watching the sunset and moonrise simultaneously on a full moon evening. Explore, Gandhi Memorial, Swami Vivekananda Rock memorial, Kumari Amman Temple & Tiruvalluvar Statue. Sucheendram Temple, has a beautiful gopuram, musical pillars and an excellent statue of the Hanuman, apart from a valuable collection of art from different periods. Padmanabhapuram Palace, a magnificent wooden palace of the 16th century, is a fine specimen of Kerala's indigenous style of architecture.
Day 15 – Kovalam
Full day explore the beauty of beaches. You may opt to drive to Trivandrum City for a short city tour and shopping. Overnight at the resort.
Kovalam was a small, sleepy village. It lay in humble obscurity along the picturesque coast of Kerala. Then around 1930, this little village was unexpectedly shaken out of its lethargic slumber and thrust on the international tourist map. The vendors of holiday dreams along the sea had discovered the fabulous silver sands and palm-fringed shores of Kovalam. From then onwards, there was no looking back. From sun bathing to swimming, Ayurvedic rejuvenation to yoga and meditation, herbal body toning massages to special cultural programmes and catamaran cruising, holidays in Kovalam is a tourists delight. The Kovalam lighthouse beach is where most visitors spend their time.
Being the capital city of Kerala, Trivandrum is surrounded by seven hills and endorses ancient and modern style of architecture. Visit, Napier Museum, which houses a rare collection of archaeological and historic artifacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot, ivory carvings and life-size Kathakali dancers; Sree Chitra Art Gallery, which display a century old world famous paintings of Raja Ravi Varma. Kuthiramalika Palace Museum, with rare specimen of workmanship in traditional Travancore style of architecture has exquisite woodcarvings.
Day 16 – Trivandrum Departure
Like all good things, your holiday experience comes to an end but you will always carry with you memories of this unique and unforgettable experience.Today, you will be assisted and transferred to Trivandrum International airport for your flight home!!
Package Cost Includes:
* 15 Nights stay at designated hotels as per itinerary
* Daily breakfast at all the hotels.
* All meals on Houseboat
* Greenix show at Cochin
* Village Backwater Cruise with lunch at Cochin
* Cookery session with dinner at Cochin
* Kumbalanghi Fishermen Village Visit with lunch
* English speaking local guides at Munnar,Periyar,Cochin,Trivandrum and Kanyakumari
* Spice Farm visit in Periyar
* Elephant ride in Periyar
* Jungle trekking in Periyar
* All transfers and sightseeing as per attached itinerary by excellent Chauffer driven Aircon Vehicles
* All monument entries and park entry fees.
* Driver allowance, Parking, Fuel, etc.
* All taxes including government service tax
Package Cost Excludes:
* Any meals other than those specified
* Any sightseeing unless otherwise specified
* Any train/ air fare which are not included in the package.
* Any Camera fee, Guide fee other than those specified, Ride etc.
* All expenses of personal nature like soft/ hard drinks, Telephone/ Fax, Laundry, Tip etc.
* All other services not mentioned under package cost includes section.
* Prices are valid from 01 October 2011 till 31 March 2012 except during the Peak Season from 15 Dec 2011 till 20 Jan 2012