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Essence of South India

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namaste!  - We welcome you with folded hands

Day 01:  Arrival / Mumbai

Late night arrival. Meeting and assistance upon arrival as our representatives welcome you and escort you to your car. Whilst the room keys and check-in is organized, our representative would introduce the tour to you and hand over the documents to you.

Welcome to India, or as we say ‘atithi devo bhava’ (the guest is an incarnation of God). Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you!

Overnight at Hotel Sun–n–Sand (Superior Room)

Day 02:  Mumbai / Goa (9W 475 – 1200 / 1300 Hrs)

Morning transfer to the airport to board your flight to Goa Meeting and assistance upon arrival and transfer to your Varca Palm Beach Resort Rest of the day is at leisure for your independent activities

Overnight at Varca Palm Beach Resort (Garden Villa)

Day 03: Goa

Day is at leisure to enjoy spectacular beaches of Goa

Overnight at Varca Palm Beach Resort (Garden Villa)
 
Day 04: Goa / Badami

Morning, we will drive to Badami

Badami is famous for its rock-cut cave temples. These temples have been carved out on the red sandstone hills that surround the town. There are four cave temples at Badami. These temples date back to the 6th and 7th centuries AD and ornately carved with figures of Hindu deities. Three temples are dedicated to Hindu gods. The fourth one is a Jain temple and was built much later. Near these caves lies the 5th-century Agastyatirtha Tank, dotted with Bhuthnath temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva. The archeological museum is located near this tank, which in turn is near the historic Badami fort.

Upon arrival check in to the Hotel Badami Court

Overnight at Badami Court

Day 05: Badami / Hampi

After a leisurely breakfast we will drive to Hampi

Upon arrival check into Hampi Boulders

Nestled in the Yamani Hills on the banks of the majestic river Tungabhadra and 7 km from Hampi lies this resort. Swift flowing Tungabudra river criss-crosses to create an awesome array of naturally sculpted rock formations. This network of eroded boulders, make a beautiful sight of the resort. A sight that leaves you gazed on in wonder. From the vantage points of our luxury cottage, savour this unique and unspoilt glimpse of nature’s wonderment, the water and rock formations that leave you spellbound. The closest you can get to paradise on Earth.

Overnight at Hampi Boulders

Day 06: Hampi

A world heritage center, Hampi- is the most beautiful of all the ruins in Karnataka. Founded in the 14th Century, this was the glorious capital city of a flourishing dynasty that was great patrons of art and architecture. The remains can still be seen in the vast ruins of Hampi, which historians have praised as 'greater than Rome'. Hampi is famous for its ruins belonging to the erstwhile medieval Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar and it has been declared a World Heritage site. The temples of Hampi, its monolithic sculptures and monuments, attract the traveler because of their excellent workmanship. The Hindu style of architecture found at Hampi reflects the splendor of the Vijayanagar Empire. The rugged landscape adds to the historic ambience of this site.

Overnight at Hampi Boulders

Day 07: Hampi / Chikmagalur (62 Kms)

After a leisurely breakfast we will drive to Chikmangalur

Upon arrival check in to Taj Garden Retreat

Rest of the day is at leisure for your independent activities, of course you have car and driver available for local visits.

Overnight at Taj Garden Retreat – a 5* Taj Group Hotel

Day 08: Chikmangalur / Halebid & Belur / Hassan

This morning we will drive to Belur and Halebid - temple towns, slightly bigger than villages. The temples in typical Dravidian style are excellent examples of traditional Hindu architecture. These temples are the cream of what remain the most artistically exuberant periods of Hindu cultural development. The wealth of sculptural details on the temples makes them easily the most outstanding example of art and architecture. Every inch of the outside wall and much of the interiors are covered with an endless variety of Hindu deities, sages, scenes from wars, hunting, agriculture, music and dance and some very sensual sculptures explicitly portraying the amorous lifestyles of the dancing girls. The life outside the temples is extremely busy and colorful. Pilgrims, bare feet with horizontal or vertical sandalwood paste smearing on their foreheads and wearing traditionally colored saffron or black pilgrim’s costumes move in and out of the temple complex with flowers and other offerings in their hands. The pavement flower shops, shops selling religious artifacts, the fruit and tea stalls with pilgrims flocking around, add color and character to the place.

Later we will drive to Hassan. We stop a few times for pictures such as a line of village women carrying grass over their heads in huge sprawling bundles - the head hardly visible.

We are free to explore Hassan independently on foot. There is only one main road, the rest are dignified trails. Little shops (grocery, vegetables, tailors etc.) and small temples with a steady stream of pilgrims seem to be bursting on to the lanes. Women and men wearing traditional costumes, stand at their doors with shy curiosity as we walk past the door steps of their typical houses. Our walk would be invariably accompanied by friendly shrill shrieks of children - “hello”, “your name? “Which Country”

Upon arrival check in to hotel Southern Star

Overnight at Hotel Southern Star

Day 09: Hassan / Shravan Belagola / Mysore

After breakfast drive to Mysore. Enroute visiting Shravan Belagola, which is one of the oldest and the most important pilgrimage centres for the followers of Jain religion. It is the site of the 17mtr monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali - believed to be the world’s tallest monolithic statue. From here we will continue our drive to Mysore

Upon arrival, check into hotel Metropole. A journey back in time. A haven of luxury, charm and romance, Hotel Metropole was built as a royal residence in the 1920’s to accommodate the British guests of the Maharaja of Mysore. Today the beautifully restored mansion, decorated with period antiques, continues the building’s legacy of gracious hospitality combined with the ease of modern comforts. Furnished with handcrafted antiques, Metropole’s rooms are a graceful retreat into a royal past. Bright colours and sumptuous fabrics, enriched with deep mahogany wood transport you to a bygone era. Complete with a range of modern amenities, the Metropole rooms are the epitome of elegance and seamless comfort. Hotel Metropole is located at the heart of Mysore, in close proximity to the city’s major tourist attractions like the Mysore Palace

After rest and relaxation, we visit the extremely colourful Devaraja Fruit and vegetable market where tropical fruits and vegetables are arranged in fascinating heaps and shapes.  Watch out for the amazing patterns in which fruits and vegetables are heaped upwards as hills.The adjoining local bazaar is also a very popular spot with local Indian shoppers where all things needed for daily use can be found.

Overnight at Hotel Metropole (Standard Room)

Day 10: Mysore / Bangalore
Bangalore / Cochin (9W 523 – 1715 / 1815 Hrs)

Morning, we proceed on a guided tour of the city Mysore, which has been for centuries an important center for South Indian culture and learning. It is also the city of lingering aroma of Jasmine, Musk, rose, sandalwood, etc. This is so because Mysore is one of the major manufacturers of incense sticks through scores of family owned factories. The city is also a crafts center. It is an extremely friendly and easygoing city and at an altitude of 770 meters it has a wonderful climate. The Maharaja’s Palace (1907) is a huge building in Indo - Saracenic style of architecture; it hosts an extravaganza of stained glass, mirrors, gilt and gaudy colors, beautifully carved wooden doors, mosaic floors and a series of historically important paintings. Of special mention are the beautifully carved mahogany ceilings, solid silver doors, white marble floors and superbly collumned durbar hall (Hall Of Public Audience).. Next we visit the temple of Shri Chamundeshwari, set on top of the Chamundi Hills (1602 meters.). Three quarters up the hill is the famous Nandy (Lord Shiva’s Bull - His vehicle) carved out of a single solid piece of granite and 5 meters in height. The temple itself is a huge building with a 40mtr high seven-storied Gopuram (tower).

Later transfer to the Bangalore airport to board your flight to Cochin

Meeting and assistance upon arrival and transfer to hotel The Trident Hilton

Overnight at Trident Hilton – a 5* Hotel (Superior Room)

Day 11: Cochin

After breakfast, we proceed on a guided tour of the City. The true character of the city is to be found in the older parts of the Fort Cochin area. It more or less exists as it used to be a 1000 years back, when it was first built. The roads have not been widened because the old haggard buildings, through patchwork repairs over the centuries, still stand on the edges. This part of the city reflects an unusual blend of medieval Portugal, Dutch and English country life grafted on to the tropical Malabar Coast.  The fishing community of Cochin is also very interesting. They ancient cantilevered fishing nets called Chinese Fishing Nets. The net is fixed to a pole on the shore. While fishing, the entire net is lowered by a primitive fulcrum mechanism using long bamboo poles. By the same mechanism the pole is lifted along with the catch. We will explore the sights of Photographic as well as cultural interest. We would also visit the 16th century Mattancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace since the Dutch substantially renovated the palace in the 17th century. The double storied quadrangular building surrounds a courtyard containing a Hindu temple. The Central Hall on the first floor was the coronation hall of the Rajas of Cochin; on display are their dresses, turbans and palanquins. The most important feature of this palace, however, is the astonishing murals in the bedchambers and other rooms, which depict scenes from the Ramayana and other religious legends. These murals are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful and extensive anywhere to be seen in India. The unique feature here is the unexpected and isolated Jewish community, whose origins date back to AD 52. They are self-contained and have there own Synagogue. 

The area around the Synagogue, known, as ‘Jew Town’ is one of the main centres of spice trade. Scores of small firms huddle together in old dilapidated buildings and the air is filled with the aroma of ginger, cardamom, cumin, turmeric and cloves. The area is very busy. The potters are loading gunny bags of spices on to carts, which keep running up and down the narrow lanes. We would visit Jew Town, in the Mattancherry section and a short walk from the ferry, is one street long. Jews used to occupy virtually all the houses on Jew Town Road, where they sold fruits, vegetables and spices or worked as oil pressers or carpenters. The spice markets are still located on the narrow street.

Kathakali Dance :
A special treat awaits us this evening as we proceed to witness the strength and vigor of Kathakali dance drama, as it enacts episodes from great Indian epics. The extremely stylized gestures, the elaborate make-up, the masks and the splendid costumes of these all-male dancers, recreates an incomparable sense of pageantry.

Overnight at Trident Hilton – a 5* Hotel (Superior Room)

Day 12: Cochin / Kumarakom

After a leisurely breakfast we will drive to Kumarakom

Upon arrival check in to Coconut Lagoon, this has rightly carved its place among the top 10 heritage resorts of the world. The resort is on a small island and can be reached only by boat. The accommodation consists of individual cottages built in the traditional Kerala style, relying heavily on wood and some with private pools.

Overnight at Coconut Lagoon (Mansion Room)

Day 13: Kumarakom

Day is free for independent activities. You can also enjoy the optional ayurvedic body massage at the resort. You could also choose to explore the surrounding tribal villages, visit the nearby water bird sanctuary or ride through the narrow backwater channels through back of beyond Kerala.

Overnight at Coconut Lagoon (Mansion Room)

Day 14: Kumarakom / Cochin
   Cochin / Departure

Transfer to the Cochin airport to board your flight back home

 

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