Backwaters & Bollywood
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Last updated: 02/19/2009
From Bangalore, take 2 weeks to reach Mumbai; via exotic Mysore, through beautiful wildlife parks and on to Cochin, by houseboat through Keralas backwaters and to palm-fringed sandy beaches...
Arrival in BangaloreWhen you arrive in Bangalore today, you'll be picked up at the airport by your driver and taken to your hotel. You'll sleep in a very charming restored 120 year old villa just outside of the heart of the city. Its rooms have dark floors, heavy wooden furniture and there is a wonderful garden at the front of the house. This is an excellent place to recuperate from your jetlag.
BangaloreToday you'll have an entire day at your disposal to go sightseeing on your own through Bangalore. The city is modern and spacious and especially well known for its computer industry. At the heart of the city, you'll find wonderful parks where you can stroll around and start off your holiday in a relaxing atmosphere. Be sure to have a look at the red brick High Courts and the English-style Bangalore Palace, both remnants of the colonial times.In the evening you can go out for dinner at one of the many restaurants in the city centre. Southern Indian cuisine is dominated by rice and coconut and food is usually served in small portions on a large banana leaf.You'll spend another night in the authentic villa just outside of the heart of Bangalore.
Bangalore - MysoreHopefully, you'll have seen enough of Bangalore by now, and you'll be ready to head further south city to Mysore. The drive to Mysore should take about 3.5 hours. Along the way, you'll be able to enjoy wonderful scenery and streetside Indian hustle and bustle. Mysore is known for its excellent silk. Incense and sandalwood are also produced here, and so are the base ingredients for perfume. However, above all this city is known as the City of Palaces. The wealthy Maharajas invested heavily in this city. In the evening you'll visit these palaces on a sightseeing tour, which will end with a visit to Chamundi Hill Temple. This temple is located at an altitude of 1062 metres and offers a breathtaking view over the city, which is stunning at sunset. You'll spend the night in an elegant palace with green gardens, which was originally built for the princess of Mysore.
Mysore - Mudumalai National ParkAfter breakfast, you'll leave Mysore and head to Mudumalai National Park. The drive should take you about 3 hours. Mudumalai is home to the largest population of elephants in India, but you'll also find deer, monkeys, bears and tigers here. The Moyar River, which runs through the park, is filled with otters and crocodiles. Mudumalai is located at the base of the Nilgiri Mountains and borders on the Bandipur, Nagarahole and Wayanad parks. These natural reserves are spread out over three states: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. Together they form a 'Biosphere Reserve'. You won't be able to simply take a walk through this entire reserve - its size is approximately 3000 kmÂ².On arrival in Mudumalai you'll drive to your hotel, where you'll stay in a comfortable cabin in lush, green surroundings. Almost every cabin looks out over the immense Nilgiri Mountains. At one time, the owner worked in a coffee and tea plantation, so he can tell you all about his experiences there.After a few hours of relaxation, a jeep will arrive at your hotel and you'll set off on a night-time safari, during which you'll have the opportunity to encounter elephants in the wild. Hopefully, you'll also be able to spot a tiger, although you shouldn't count on it because sightings tend to be pretty rare. You'll be driven in an open jeep, so that you can see as many animals as possible. Don't forget to bring along a pair of binoculars and a camera. After the safari you'll return to the hotel, hopefully with plenty of animals on camera and in your memories.
Mudumalai National Park - CalicutYou can wake up slowly this morning with a tasty breakfast and get ready for the next leg of the adventure. You'll hop into a car and your driver will take you on a 4 hour road trip to the coastal town of Calicut. The remnants of the backwaters and the nearby network of small rivers and lagoons create a very relaxing and laid-back atmosphere in Calicut. This really is a place to stretch out in the sun and relax. You may even want to set some time aside for a typical Indian Ayurvedic massage. In the background, you'll hear tropical songbirds in the rustling palms... Your luxurious resort is located on an emerald riverback. While eating in the restaurant, you'll look out over the calm waters and small boats sailing by. This is a perfect spot to unwind with a book by the pool. However, if you're feeling more active, you can visit the old trade city with its historic temples, churches and mosques.
Calicut - CochinToday, you'll travel south along the coastline to the next town. You'll be visiting Cochin (its new name is Kochi), an island town where you'll find many Portuguese and Dutch influences. From 1503 to 1663 the town was ruled by the Portuguese, and afterwards by the Dutch. Then, in 1814, the town was taken over by the British. Cochin is the largest city in the state of Kerala and it is an important harbour city for the trade in gold, textiles and fish. At one time, many spices were also traded here. You'll spend the night in a colonial hotel located in the part of town referred to as Fort Cochin. This is a really quaint and atmosperic area, with Portuguese character and quirky cafes. The rooms in your guesthouse will be decorated in this style and there is also a courtyard with restaurant.In the evening, you'll be able to visit a Kathakali dance show (optional - at a small extra cost). This is a typical type of dance originating from Kerala. Kathakali literally means 'acted out story' and it features dancers in extreme make-up, clothing and music. There are no words used during these shows, only facial expressions and dance (especially the eye-movements are intriguing) are used to tell stories.
Cochin - City TourAfter breakfast, your private driver will be waiting to show you around Cochin. In Cochin (or Kochi) you'll encounter both the Portuguese and Dutch maritime history. Cochin has also always had a large Jewish community, known for their quaint old antique stores. During your sightseeing tour, you'll visit the 'Dutch Palace', the Jewish Synagogue in the heart of the Jewish quarter and the Saint Francis church (the oldest European church in India). You'll also take a look at the amazing Chinese fishing nets, brought to Cochin by Chinese traders, and still in use today.
Cochin - Periyar National ParkHopefully by now you'll have seen all of lovely Cochin, as it's time to move on this morning to Periyar National Park. You'll be picked up at your hotel in Cochin after breakfast, and the drive to the park located in the south should take about 4 hours. Along the way, you'll be able to look out over the brilliant green tea plantations. You'll spend the night in a cosy home stay accommodation run by an Indian family in the town of Thekkady. This town is located about 4km from the park.
Periyar National ParkEarly this morning, you'll take a boat across the Periyar National Park Lake. If you're lucky, you'll spot many different kinds of animals here, including deer, otters, bison, monkeys and wild bears. However, Periyar is most famous for its wild elephants, which can be seen in large numbers throughout the park. The large grey giants wander around the riverbank and spend their time splashing around in the water, so you'll see them close up when your boat passes by.After the boat ride, you'll visit some fascinating spice plantations, walking through coffee trees, tea fields and pepper plantations. On the way back to your hotel in Thekkady, you'll stop off at a local market where you'll be able to try out the local spices. Just be careful of those chillies!
Periyar National Park - Alleppey - Keralan HouseboatToday you'll travel from Periyar to Alleppey, at the heart of the backwaters territory. This is one of the highlights of this module. Around noon you'll travel by charming houseboat through the backwaters. This is the ideal way in which to enjoy this waterway paradise in the Kerala hinterland. The canals are filled with palm trees and everywhere you look you'll see people hard at work on the land. You'll often see the happy smiling faces of those waving to you from the dikes. You'll move along these waterways very slowly, which is perfect because after a while you won't want to leave.You'll visit various villages, small temples, a 400-year old church and a snake boat. If you're lucky a snake boat race will be held while you're here, featuring dozens of brightly coloured rowers.This evening you'll spend the night on your boat on the romantic Vattakayal Lake.
Keralan houseboat - KovalamThis morning, you'll drift back to the mainland over the backwaters, and then drive on to Kovalam. The drive is quite long (about 6 hours), but you won't be bored with all of the breathtaking scenery around you. Once you reach Kovalam you'll forget all about your long tiring trip. This is the most famous beach in Kerala and probably the most beautiful as well. This area hasn't been become a mass tourism magnet unlike some beaches in Goa. There are great restaurants on the beach, where you can order any kind of seafood.Your resort is a few beaches away and located in a quiet area. This is the Nellikunnu beach, only 10 mins by tuk-tuk from Kovalam main beach. There is a traditional Ayurvedic Spa that offers all kinds of massages and alternative treatments. Your lovely cabin will be decorated stylishly with large amounts of teak wood and the beach here is peaceful.
KovalamToday is completely free and you can spend it as you wish. This is a great place for a swim, the water is pleasantly warm and deepens gradually. Alternatively, you can lie back in a hammock with a good book, or go shopping at one of the many stands on Kovalam beach where you'll also find delicious food. However, you could also choose to go for a day trip to Kanyakumari, the southern-most point of India, or you could relax on the beach while watching the colourful fishing boats float around.
Kovalam - MumbaiToday a driver will take you from Kovalam by car to Trivandrum airport in approximately 20 minutes. You'll fly from Trivandrum to the cosmopolitan city of Mumbai (formally Bombay), known for its colourful Bollywood movies featuring with beautiful Indian movie stars. You'll be able to arrange your own taxi cab at Mumbai airport to take you to your hotel. If you rather that we arrange this for you, just let us know. For a small fee we can add an arrival transfer to your travel plan. In Mumbai you'll stay in a charming, comfortable hotel in the centrally located district of Colaba. This area lies near the famous Gateway of India and the lively, colourful Colaba market, which you'll be able to explore the same day. In the evening you'll be able to become acquainted with Mumbai's nightlife; the city has a very lively restaurant and club culture. You could also choose to go to Chowpatty Beach, where you'll find entire families on the beach having a chat and having a bite to eat at one of the illuminated food stands.
Mumbai - End of itinerary Today you'll have time to further explore Mumbai before your flight home. For instance, you could step into the harbour and board a boat to the Elephanta Caves, located on an island 9 kilometres from the harbour. Here you'll find beautiful rock temples with images of Lord Shiva and the green environment will offer a sense of tranquillity after the hustle and bustle of the city. On the Oval Maidan, a grass field situated between tall colonial buildings, boys usually play an insanely popular game: cricket. You could also choose just to stroll through the streets and view the colourful street life around you. Depending on the time of departure of your flight, you'll arrange your own transportation to Mumbai International Airport. Keep in mind that check-in must take place three hours prior to departure of your flight. Again, if you would like us to arrange your transfer for you to the airport, please just let us know.
- Inclusions -
- Hotels with breakfast, full-board on houseboat, transportation by car and domestic flight and excursions with guides.
- Exclusions -
- International flights and local entrance fees, meals other than stated above.
- Extras -
- This is a private trip based on 2 people sharing (not a group tour). It can be modified to suit clients needs. Accommodation is authentic, small friendly and comfortable. We can upgrade to heritage style where possible.
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