South India with Kerala River Cruises and Festivals

12 NIGHTS | 13 DAYS
Festival Extension: 1 Night | 2 Days

CHENNAI | MAHABALIPURAM | PONDICHERRY | TANJORE | MADURAI | PERIYAR |  BACKWATERS | COCHIN

Far Horizon takes you on a journey through the heart of the Dravidian South. Visit the famous temples of South India with their elaborate carvings and architectural styles. Glide through the backwaters of Kerala – God's own country. The backwaters give you an opportunity to Experience the Living Cultures of Kerala at close quarters. The incredible festivals of the south, with gold caparisoned elephants and garishly decorated chariots moving in processions through the temple towns, complete the cultural experience. 

Visit the Periyar Sanctuary where you can see wildlife in its natural habitat. Walk through the Spice Plantations for a glimpse of the exotic spices used in Indian cooking. Kerala is known for its wonderful food, come enjoy the food and learn the secrets of this wonderful cuisine.

Day 1: Arrive Chennai
Our representative will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 2: Chennai / Mahabalipuram (Approx. 36 miles / 58 kms / 1 ½ hour drive).
After breakfast, visit Fort St. George which was built by the British East India Company. The fort also houses a quaint little museum known as the Fort Museum. Later on, drive to Mahabalipuram. En-route visit the Cholamandal Art Village, a colony where about 30 artists and sculptors live and work. You can get some great bargains here. Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 3: Mahabalipuram / Kanchipuram (Approx. 41 miles / 65 kms / 1 ½ hour drive) 
Take a half-day excursion to Kanchipuram, also known as the, 'city of a thousand temples'. The most famous of these are the Ekambeshwara temple and the Varaderajaswamy temple. Drive back to Mahabalipuram to explore its five 'Pagodas' or chariots . Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 4: Mahabalipuram / Pondicherry (Approx. 86miles / 138 kms / 3 ½ hour drive)
Drive to Pondicherry after breakfast and check-in to your hotel. Discover the huge cream and brown church, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, one of Pondicherry's finest Catholic churches. You are sure to be enthralled by the stone sculptures, bronze weapons and paintings at your next stop, the Pondicherry museum. Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 5: Pondicherry / Tanjore (Approx 111miles / 177 kms / 5 hour drive)
In the morning, drive to Tanjore. Explore the Brihadeeswara Temple, the main attraction of Tanjore. Visit the art gallery which has a rich collection of bronze and stone statues, dating from the 9th to the 12th century. Tanjore is famous for its paintings. Visit the village and marvel at artists making Tanjore paintings using gold foil. Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 6: Tanjore / Trichy / Madurai (Approx. 94 miles / 150 kms / 5 hour drive)
In the morning, leave for Madurai, via Trichy and visit the Rock Temple and Sri Rangnathaswamy Temple. Later drive to Madurai which is also known as the Temple City and is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu. The evening will be spent at the Meenakshi temple to witness 'aarti' ceremony.  Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 7: Madurai
After breakfast, visit the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. We will also visit the weaver's colony to learn how the famous Madurai cotton is woven. Later in the afternoon, visit the Gandhi Museum and explore the Tirumalai Nayak Mahal. Enjoy the sound and light show which gives a musical glimpse into the rich history of Madurai. Later in the evening, explore the colorful markets of Madurai . Overnight at the Hotel (B)

Day 8: Madurai / Periyar (Approx. 91 miles / 145 kms / 4 ½ hour drive)
After breakfast, drive to Periyar and check-in to your hotel. Enjoy a boat ride to see wildlife in their natural habitat. Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 9: Periyar / Backwaters (Houseboat) (Approx. 134 miles / 215 kms / 5 hour drive)
In the morning, visit the spice plantations and later drive to the starting point of your boating trip to board the luxury houseboat. Traditionally called a Kettuvallom, or rice barge, the shallow and rounded hull of the boat is made without using a single nail. Overnight onboard (B, L, D)

Day 10: Backwaters (Houseboat)
On this comfortable floating home you may spend your day relaxing and unwinding. As you slowly cruise along the backwater canals of the Arabian Sea, you may choose to stop and explore some of the many small villages, farmlands, old temples and churches that you come across. Overnight onboard (B, L, D)

Day 11: Backwaters (Houseboat) / Cochin (Approx. 56 miles / 90 kms / 2 ½ hour drive)
After breakfast, drive to Cochin and check-in to your hotel. Spend the afternoon at leisure exploring Cochin. In the evening watch a Kathakali dance performance, the most developed form of dance-drama of India. Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 12: Cochin
After breakfast, enjoy a tour of Cochin. Fort Cochin, your first stop, where the Portuguese flag was first hoisted, is also believed to be the oldest settlement in India. Thereafter, visit the St Francis Church, built in 1510 by Friars brought to India by Vasco da Gama. The gorgeous view of the ocean from the beach, enhanced by the Chinese fishing nets, first erected between 1350 and 1450 AD makes an extremely picturesque sight. This is followed by a visit to the Jewish Synagogue (closed to non-Jews on Fridays and Saturdays). Depart for the Dutch Palace (closed on Fridays) which contains mythological murals and traditional Keralite flooring.

End your day with a traditional cooking demonstration and dinner with Nimmy, a professional cookery instructor and her stockbroker husband, Paul. Overnight at the hotel (B, D)

Day 13: Departure Cochin
You will be escorted to the international airport to board your outgoing flight. 

FESTIVAL EXTENSION

NOTE: The exact dates and sequence of events of the festivals at the local temples in South India are not predictable and more often they change, with very little or no notice. We may thus adjust the itinerary in order to accommodate the festival.

Day 11: Backwaters (Houseboat) / Festival Ground (Approx. 156 miles / 250 kms / 5 hour drive)
After breakfast, drive to the festival ground. On arrival, check-in to your hotel. The festival is an expression of the rich cultural traditions of the area. Overnight at the hotel (B, L, D)

Day 12: Festival Ground / Cochin (Approx. 94 miles / 150 kms / 3 ½ hour drive)
After breakfast, participate in the morning activities at the festival ground. Later, drive back to Cochin and check-in to your hotel. In the evening enjoy a Kathakali dance performance. Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 13: Cochin
After breakfast, attend a tour of Cochin. Fort Cochin, your first stop, where the Portuguese flag was first hoisted is also believed to be the oldest settlement in India. Thereafter, visit the St. Francis church, built in 1510 by friars brought to India by Vasco da Gama. The gorgeous view of the ocean from the beach enhanced by the Chinese fishing nets, first erected between 1350 and 1450 AD makes extremely picturesque sight only to be followed by a visit to the Jewish Synagogue (closed to non-Jews Fridays and Saturdays). Depart for the Dutch Palace (closed on Fridays) which contains mythological murals and traditional Keralite flooring.

End your day with a traditional cooking demonstration and dinner with Nimmy, a professional cookery instructor and her stockbroker husband, Paul. Overnight at the  hotel (B, D)

Day 14: Departure Cochin
You will be escorted to the International airport to board your onward flight.

 

 

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