7 nights Backwater Cruise (South to North) with Heritage of India

15 NIGHTS | 16 DAYS

Region, State: Cochin, Backwater Cruise, Cochin, Mumbai, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur, Ranthambore, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Delhi

Itinerary at a Glance:

Day Activities Activities
Day 1 Friday, October 04, 2019 Arrive Cochin – Alleppey - Backwater Cruise
Day 2 Saturday, October 05, 2019 Backwater Cruise
Day 3 Sunday, October 06, 2019 Backwater Cruise
Day 4 Monday, October 07, 2019 Backwater Cruisei
Day 5 Tuesday, October 08, 2019 Backwater Cruise
Day 6 Wednesday, October 09, 2019 Backwater Cruise
Day 7 Thursday, October 10, 2019 Backwater Cruise
Day 8 Friday, October 11, 2019 Backwater Cruise - Cochin
Day 9 Saturday, October 12, 2019 Cochin - Mumbai
Day 10 Sunday, October 13, 2019 Mumbai – Board Maharaja Express
Day 11 Monday, October 14, 2019 Maharaja Express – Udaipur
Day 12 Tuesday, October 15, 2019 Maharaja Express - Jodhpur
Day 13 Wednesday, October 16, 2019 Maharaja Express - Bikaner
Day 14 Thursday, October 17, 2019 Maharaja Express - Jaipur
Day 15 Friday, October 18, 2019 Maharaja Express – Ranthambore & Fatehpur Sikri
Day 16 Saturday, October 19, 2019 Maharaja Express – De-board in Delhi & Departure

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1: Friday, October 04, 2019:
Arrive Cochin – Alleppey - Backwater Cruise
Cochin to Alleppey by road: Approx. 160 Kms. & 5 Hrs. drive

Arrive Cochin and drive to Alleppey (Alappuzha), a prominent ancient trade centre visited by the Greek, Arabs and Romans.

Alappuzha (Alleppey) or Venice of the East as visualized by the British, or the present-day Rice bowl of the State, Alappuzha is blessed with natural bounties. This coastal town is built on strips of land along a magical network of rivers, lakes and lagoons. Seafood, coir, rice and metals & minerals are the major resources of Alleppey (Alappuzha).

Upon arrival in the town, proceed to the jetty and embark on RV Vaikundam. Check-in and set sail to experience the serene and green world of meandering waters and expanses of paddy fields and coconut plantations. This spectacular   water world, of fertile land, tropical greenery and rich avian & aquatic species, at the southernmost corner of Indian peninsula is disconnected from the hustle and bustle of cosmopolitan life.

Passing by low-lying paddy fields and tiny hamlets, you may see country boats loaded with paddy or local produces or duck farmers herding schools of ducks, or local people criss-crossing by canoes.

We arrive in Kanjippadom village by evening. Take a leisurely walk, visit a dock for building or repairing of traditional wooden boats. It will be enjoyable to see how the coir rope tying process is used to lash the wooden planks of the boats together.

Explore the birds of the region. Return to boat and cruise till the fishermen lay their nets.

Overnight on-board on RV Vaikundam (B, D)

Day 2: Saturday, October 05, 2019:
Backwater Cruise

After breakfast, we sail to a quaint village. Here a statue of Buddha of 11th century is preserved in a tiny shrine.  Take a relaxing walk in the village indulging in the serenity of the surroundings. We cruise to Thrikkunnappuzha village till evening. The lunch will be served while cruising. The Enjoying calmness, soothing and refreshing, arrive in Thottappalli village close to the sea coast. Take a short walk to the beach to enjoy the sunset. Return and short cruise to Naluchira village.

Overnight on-board on RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

Day 3: Sunday, October 06, 2019:
Backwater Cruise - Excursion

After breakfast, drive to a temple inside a sacred grove where snakes are revered and worshipped   with much piety. The cult of worshipping serpents is still prevailing in Kerala.

We continue the journey through the midland to Konni to spend time with elephants at a shelter at the backdrop of forest.  Elephants have significance in Hindu mythology and culture. The trip leader will share interesting facts about role of elephants in temple festivals in Kerala.

Proceed to Aranmula village which is home to a family of craftsmen who are skilled at making mirror out of a special combination of certain metals. The secret of the trade has been passed down through generations. Visit the mirror makers. 

Listen to the story of the ritualistic Snake boat regatta of the village.  Have lunch at a beautiful house of the village, located on the bank of the Holy River Pampa. Return to Thottappalli village to board the boat and cruise to Thakazhi village, interior village of Kuttanad- the expanses of land reclaimed from the shallow waters of lake and peripheries of rivers for cultivating paddy, during a period of famine in the beginning of last century. These paddy fields are at lower level than the sea and are protected from flooding by building dykes around them. It is very picturesque to sail in canals 10-15 feet above the surrounding paddy fields.

Overnight on-board on RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

Day 4: Monday, October 07, 2019:
Backwater Cruise – Champakkulam

Arrive in Changankari village to take a leisurely walk. Stop by to watch toddy tapping.

Kerala’s old spice trade used to pass through this town en route to Cochin and other ports on the west coast. Settled more than 1000 years ago by Syrian Christian traders, who later converted to Roman Catholicism under the Portuguese, the people chose to keep their syncretic cultural heritage. This can be seen in the monumental St Mary’s Church on the riverside. Built in 1550, the foundations are said to be as old as 8th century AD. Architecturally, it is a mélange of several European styles, from the Levantine altar and structure to the Dutch arches that tower overhead.

You may visit an old church, a school, the local artisans (open on week days) who, skillfully and passionately craft biblical heroes.

On a dock on the shore you will find the Snake boat (Chundan Vallom) which is the pride of the villagers. These types of boats being used for races today in modern days were, once maritime war boats and their structure and design reflect the prowess of ancient Kerala architecture. Life in the village comes to  a state of exuberance and enthusiasm during the annual Snake boat race, despite being celebrated at the peak of monsoon rains. Return to the boat and cruise to Nedumudi. Lunch will be served while cruising.

Excursion:  Drive from   Nedumudi /Mannar
Drive through the scenic expanses of greenery and waterways, to the village Mannar (1.30hrs).

The village is famous for the traditional ornate locks, and lamps and vessels of different sizes and designs. These items are being used in temples and houses for ritualistic practices. The large utensils are for preparing food for feast.  Interact with the artisans; inspire them, watching the indigenous method of casting of lamps, utensils and locks. Return to Nedumudi. Cruise till dusk and arrive in Pulinkunnu village.

Overnight on-board on RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

Day 5: Tuesday, October 08, 2019:
Backwater Cruise – Kuttanad - Nedumudy

Cruise to Kainakari. This village in Kuttanad is of vast stretches of paddy fields, dykes   criss-crossed by narrow canals.

This day as we cruise through the interior yet vibrant village, we visit a traditional Ayurveda centre. Interact with Ayurveda doctors and get to know about this ancient knowledge on holistic way of life. You may try any of the wellness massages, as per the recommendation of the doctor.

A short cruise ahead we arrive at Chavara Bhavan, the ancestral home of Saint Kuriakose Chavara, the first canonized Catholic male saint of Indian origin.

Saint Chavara was an Indian Catholic priest and social reformer. He was the co-founder of the first congregation for men, the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (C.M.I.), and of a similar one for women, the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (C.M.C.). The ancestral home of the Saint has now been preserved as a museum.  

You may also visit a toddy shop and see the various local cuisines like tapioca, duck and variety of fishes, which goes along with Toddy. 

Cruise to Kavalam.  Here we watch local folk dance (Kai kotti kali) performance by school children. We continue the cruise till dusk.

Overnight on-board on RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

Day 6: Wednesday, October 09, 2019:
Excursion - Kumarakom

Arriving from Kavalam, we visit a farm house. This house is located on an island which was made by the men of the house, by reclaiming land from Backwaters. A walk in the farm will be educative. Experience the cordial living of a mother and her daughter-in-law. The hostess will demonstrate the preparation of traditional Syrian Christian cuisine. You may try your hand at cooking and also ask for their story of family of three generations of hard workingmen, and equally strong women who supported their pioneering spirit.

We set out by Canoe to watch the migratory and endemic birds of Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, which is a cluster of lagoons of Vembanad lake at the backdrop of mangroves, paddy fields and coconut groves.

Waterfowl, cuckoo, owl, egret, heron and the water duck are some of the endemic species seen here. Parrots, teal, larks, flycatchers, wood beetle, and other birds are seen here during their respective migratory seasons.

Return to the boat and cruise to Thanneermukkom.

Overnight on-board on RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

Day 7: Thursday, October 10, 2019:
Cruise on Lake Vembnad

Arrive in Vechoor village. You may watch the morning prayers in an old church or take a leisurely walk. Breakfast will be served while cruising to Chenganda village.

The people of this village are engaged in coir making and fishing. Interact with them. The will demonstrate how to collect mussels and their indigenous methods of fishing and farming. Return to boat for lunch. Our Chef will demonstrate the preparation of mussels. You may also try your hand at it.

By evening we arrive in an ancient village Vaikom, in Kottayam-the land of natural rubber, by early evening. Watch cultural performance at a cultural centre in Vaikom.

Visit the temple of Lord Shiva. Witnessing civil rights’ movement against discrimination for socially and financially under-privileged entering the temple or even using the public spaces around the temple, Vaikom got prominence in the history of Kerala during Indian independence movement when unity was of utmost importance. Take a tour around the temple to get to know about its history and architecture. The architecture of temples in Kerala is unique. It is based on ancient science of construction and geographical features of the land. As per the traditional architecture, each element of temple represents an element of human body, and, a temple is not only the space for spiritual enlightenment but also the venue for harmonious social networking. Vaikom temple is one of the biggest in Kerala.

Overnight on-board on RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

Day 8: Friday, October 11, 2019:
Cruise – Alleppey - Cochin

Cruise to Cochin through the serene Backwaters, passing by green and quite islands. Disembark by 9.30pm at the jetty at Marad in Ernakulam.  . Drive to the Kalari at Nettoor to watch authentic Kalaripayattu performance, Regarded as the oldest and most scientific in the world, kalaripayattu, the martial art form of Kerala, is an integral of the Malayali culture. Bodhidharama, a Buddist monk, who visited China during the reign of Emperor Wu of the Ling dynasty, is believed to have presented the world with a self-defense system; from which evolved almost all the present day martial are forms. Scholars believe that his philosophy was influenced by the ancient martial culture of malabar - kalaripayattu the mother of all martial arts.

Visit the Folk lore museum at Thevara.

Thereafter, transfer to your hotel. Evening is free at leisure.

Overnight at hotel (B)

Day 9: Saturday, October 12, 2019:
Cochin – Mumbai

Cochin to Mumbai by flight: 6E 205 at 1350 / 1600 Hrs.

Morning after breakfast, enjoy a tour of Kochi. 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 on Fridays and Saturdays).

Depart for the Dutch Palace (closed on Fridays) which contains mythological murals and traditional Keralite flooring.

Later transfer to airport to board your flight to Mumbai. On arrival in Mumbai transfer to your hotel.

Overnight at hotel (B)

Day 10: Sunday, October 13, 2019:
Mumbai – Board Maharaja Express

Morning after breakfast, we will proceed to board the Maharajas Express Train, bestowed the "World's Leading Luxury Train" award at the World Travel Awards for five consecutive years from 2012 to 2016. The Maharajas' Express has redefined the luxury travel experience by offering guests the opportunity to explore fabled destinations providing a glimpse of rich cultural heritage of Incredible India which will leave you with fond memories of this train journey to be cherished.

After welcome & registration process train departs for Udaipur, where our guests have their brief affair with the rich Indian history. Lunch & dinner would be served on-board.

Overnight on-board Maharaja Express (B, L, D)

Day 11: Monday, October 14, 2019:
Maharaja Express - Udaipur

Morning have breakfast on-board. As soon as guests arrive in City of lakes, Udaipur they proceed for a rejuvenating boat ride on the calm waters of lake Pichola followed by visit to grandiose City Palace which also has a vast collection of ancient miniature paintings and Crystal Gallery. In our iconic Indian heritage luxury tours guests can also peek into Indian artistry.

Lunch will be arranged at exclusive venue. Later you may opt to return back to the train for relaxed afternoon or may choose to explore the Lake City on your own. Dinner will be served on-board as train departs for Jodhpur.

Overnight on-board Maharaja Express (B, L, D)

Day 12: Tuesday, October 15, 2019:
Maharaja Express – Jodhpur

Morning have a sumptuous breakfast on-board and spend the morning at leisure. Have your lunch on- board. Post lunch, guests proceed to visit the archaic Mehrangarh Fort followed by walking tour of the Old Clock Tower Market. Dinner will be arranged at exclusive venue in Jodhpur. Post dinner transfer to Maharaja Express. Train proceeds to Bikaner.

Overnight on-board Maharaja Express (B, L, D)

Day 13: Wednesday, October 16, 2019:
Maharaja Express - Bikaner

Morning lavish breakfast on-board and have relaxed morning. Have your lunch on-board. Post lunch proceed to visit Junagarh Fort. Evening enjoy bar-be-que on sand dunes. Guests later return to the comforts of the Maharajas' Express and the opulent train leaves for Pink City, Jaipur.

Overnight on-board Maharaja Express (B, L, D)

Day 14: Thursday, October 17, 2019:
Maharaja Express – Jaipur

Morning after breakfast, explore the magnificent Amber Fort. Later visit the City Palace for an exciting Elephant activity, which includes painting them, feeding them or taking a joy ride on elephant back. Lunch will be arranged at an exclusive venue. Later transfer back to the train for a sumptuous dinner as train leaves for Ranthambore.

Overnight on-board Maharaja Express (B, L, D)

Day 15: Friday, October 18, 2019:
Maharaja Express – Ranthambore & Fatehpur Sikri

Morning enjoy a jeep safari after breakfast, early in the morning at the Ranthambore National Park. Then relish a delicious lunch on-board the luxury train while traveling to Fatehpur Sikri (UNESCO World Heritage Site), which will be your next destination.

After reaching there, go for an off the train sightseeing tour including Buland Darwaza and Panch Mahal. Return back to the train to have your dinner and train leaves for Agra.

Overnight on-board Maharaja Express (B, L, D)

Day 16: Saturday, October 19, 2019:
Maharaja Express - Agra & De-board in Delhi & departure

Morning visit to Taj Mahal followed by breakfast at an exclusive venue. Lunch on-board as train proceeds to Delhi. De-board the train in Delhi and transfer to airport to board your flight. 

(B)

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