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

12 NIGHTS | 13 DAYS

Region, State: Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Delhi, Cochin, Backwater Cruise

Itinerary at a Glance:

Day Activities Activities
Day 1 Sunday, December 15, 2019 Delhi – Board Maharaja Express - Agra
Day 2 Monday, December 16, 2019 Maharaja Express – Agra & Ranthambore
Day 3 Tuesday, December 17, 2019 Maharaja Express - Jaipur
Day 4 Wednesday, December 18, 2019 Maharaja Express – De-board in Delhi
Day 5 Thursday, December 19, 2019 Delhi - Cochin
Day 6 Friday, December 20, 2019 Cochin – Backwater Cruise
Day 7 Saturday, December 21, 2019 Backwater Cruise
Day 8 Sunday, December 22, 2019 Backwater Cruise
Day 9 Monday, December 23, 2019 Backwater Cruise
Day 10 Tuesday, December 24, 2019 Backwater Cruise
Day 11 Wednesday, December 25, 2019 Backwater Cruise
Day 12 Thursday, December 26, 2019 Backwater Cruise
Day 13 Friday, December 27, 2019 Backwater Cruise - Cochin – Departure

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1: Sunday, December 15, 2019:
Delhi – Board Maharaja Express - Agra


Assemble at the Safdarjung Railway station in the morning. After completing the registration formalities, board the train and enjoy a warm traditional welcome & a welcome drink. The train departs for its first destination, Agra.

Post on-board lunch, disembark at in Agra and visit Agra Fort. Evening is free at leisure. Dinner will be served on-board.

Overnight on-board Maharaja Express (L, D)

Day 2::Monday, December 16, 2019
Maharaja Express – Agra & Ranthambore

The second day of the Gems of India tour begins at Agra where guests visit the Taj Mahal, the famous epitaph of Mughal Queen, Mumtaz Mahal; an architectural marvel and an eternal symbol of love. Visit to Taj Mahal is followed by a sumptuous breakfast at an exclusive venue.

Return back to train as it departs for Ranthambore. Post lunch proceed for an exciting game drive in Ranthambore National Park, where you can spot the elusive tiger crouching amidst the sprawling greenery. Return back to the Maharajas' Express for dinner.

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

Day 3: Tuesday, December 17, 2019:
Maharaja Express - Jaipur

Morning have breakfast on-board. Later disembark to explore the magnificent Amber Fort. Later drive back to Maharaja Express for lunch and relax. Evening proceed for dinner at an exclusive venue. Later return back to train, as it departs for Delhi.

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

Day 4: Wednesday, December 18, 2019:
Maharaja Express – De-board in Delhi

Today, after an early breakfast, de-board the train in Delhi and transfer to your hotel.

Later proceed to visit for half day city tour of Old Delhi. On the tour of “Old Delhi,” you will head out to explore this exotic locale with its narrow dirt roads, myriads of people and inexpensive and coloruful bazaars that keep alive the traditional workmanship for which Delhi has always been famous. Drive past the Red Fort, and visit the Jama Masjid, one of the largest Muslim mosques in India.

A bicycle rickshaw would take you into the heart of Chandani Chowk (the silver square - so named because of the silver merchants). Negotiating alleyways, which seemingly get narrower and narrower as you end up at the Asia’s largest wholesale spice market, operating since the 17th Century.

Overnight at hotel (B)

Day 5: Thursday, December 19, 2019:
Delhi - Cochin

Delhi to Cochin by flight: AI 512 at 1405 / 1710 Hrs.

Morning have breakfast at hotel. Later transfer to Delhi airport to board your flight to Cochin. On arrival in Cochin transfer to your hotel. Evening is free at leisure.

Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 6: Friday, December 20, 2019:
Cochin – Alleppey – Backwater cruise

Cochin to Alleppey by road: Approx. 65 Kms. & 2 Hrs. drive

After breakfast, check-out from the hotel and drive to Alleppey (Alappuzha), a prominent ancient trade center 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 the 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 cross-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 onboard on RV Vaikundam (B, D)


Day 7: Saturday, December 21, 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 onboard on RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

Day 8: Sunday, December 22, 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 offorest.  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 makingmirror 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 onboard on RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

Day 9: Monday, December 23, 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 onweek days) who, skillfully and passionately craft biblical heroes.

On a dock on theshore, 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 forfeast.  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 onboard on RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

Day 10: Tuesday, December 24, 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 onboard on RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

Day 11: Wednesday, December 25, 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 Vembanadlake 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 onboard on RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)


Day 12: Thursday, December 26, 2019:
Cruise on LakeVembnad

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 the 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. Watchcultural 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 onancient 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 onboard on RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

Day 13: Friday, December 27, 2019:
Cruise – Alleppey - Cochin - Departure

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 theFolk lore museum at Thevara.

Thereafter, transfer to Cochin airport to connect with flight to onward destination.

(B)

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