13 Nights 14 Days Explore exotic Kerala with backwaters

(Cochin – Munnar – Madurai – Paradisa – Backwaters – Alleppey – Marari – Cochin)

Overview

The south Indian state of Kerala is well-known for its beauty, all around the world. It is flocked by a large number of local and international tourists. If you are keen on exploring the amazing backwaters of Kerala, then opt for this journey. The colourful culture of the state traces its roots from 3rd century before CE and today is essentially a synthesis of Aryan and Dravidian cultures, further influenced by incoming traders and other influences from India and abroad.

Tour Highlights

  • Explore stunning ancient temples of Madurai
  • Green plantations at Munnar
  • Cruise along the backwaters of Kerala
  • Sumptuous regional Food
  • Visit Spice plantation
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From GBP 2900

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  • Itinerary
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Day 1     Cochin

Day 1 Cochin

Welcome to India, Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel, Get a taste of Indian hospitality while you enter the hotel by the hotel staff. You will experience the traditional Indian welcome, whilst you complete the check-in procedures. We realise that our guest will be tired and jet lagged by a long journey, so the first day is for you to relax and get acclimatised to the surrounding.
Later in the evening you will be collected from your hotel and taken to witness spectacular Kathakali Dance Drama. Kathakali is Kerala’s very own classical dance-drama form,which combines facets of ballet, opera, masque and the pantomime. Kathakali explicates ideas and stories from the Indian epics and other story books. Presented in the temple precincts after dusk falls, Kathakali is heralded by the Kelikottu or the beating of drums and to the accompaniment of the Chengila (gong). The riches of a happy blending of colour, expressions, music, drama and dance are unparalleled in any other art form. Those who are interested may come a little early to see make up of the artistes being done which is considered to be a full-blown art in itself and is regarded as important as the dance-drama.

Overnight in Cochin

Day 2   Cochin

Day 2 Cochin

If Kerala is India's most beautiful state, which many believe, then the lovely port of Cochin is its jewel. It has been variously hailed as Queen of the Arabian Sea, Venice of Orient, etc. Some choose to call it simply a museum city for its rich past and colourful present. Cochin displays a blend of people and architecture. It is one place where you can see a Jewish synagogue, Portuguese churches, Dutch architecture, mosques, temples and Chinese fishing nets all in one day.
Your tour of Cochin will include visit to Jewish Synagogue (closed on Fridays and Saturdays), Mattancherry or Dutch Palace (closed on Fridays), St Francis Church and Chinese fishing nets. The Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese in 1555 for the maharaja of Cochin. Later renovated by the Dutch, it came to be known as the Dutch Palace. It has a large central courtyard and a temple depicting scenes from the Ramayana and other legends. The little museum at the palace has a collection of costumes, palanquins and other articles from the royalty. Adjacent to the palace is the Jewish Synagogue built in 1568. This simple building has marvelously rich interiors. There are clusters of coloured glass lamps hanging from the ceiling and the floor has blue willow patterned tiles, none of which are identical. Built in 1503 at Fort Cochin, St. Francis Church is one of the oldest churches in the subcontinent. It was built by the Portuguese, but became a Protestant church with the arrival of the Dutch and an Anglican church after the British occupation. Vasco da Gama was buried in its churchyard. After visiting St Francis Church just walk across to see the Chinese fishing nets along the shores.

Overnight in Cochin

Day 3 Cochin – Munnar (04- 5 HOURS DRIVE)

Day 3 Cochin – Munnar (04- 5 HOURS DRIVE)

This morning you will be driven to Munnar (4.5 hours drive) where you arrive around noon and would be at leisure for the rest of the day. Munnar is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams — Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. At 1600m above sea level, this hill station was the summer resort of the British Government in South India. With its sprawling tea plantations, picture-book scenery, winding lanes and nice holiday facilities, Munnar is still a very popular hill station in Kerala.

Overnight in Munnar

Day 4    Munnar

Day 4 Munnar

Full-day to explore Munnar and the neighbouring regions with our car and driver at your Disposal, You may visit Eravikulam National Park (15 km from Munnar) which was established to protect the Nilgiri Tahr (Nilgiri Ibex). If you are lucky, you can observe the Tahr from close quarters here. Or, visit Tea Museum where you also get to taste some tea. Or, simply sit and relax at the hotel….

Overnight in Munnar

Day 5   Munnar – Madurai

Day 5 Munnar – Madurai

This morning you will be driven (4 hours) to Madurai where you arrive in the afternoon. Madurai is one of south India's oldest cities, and has been a centre of learning and pilgrimage for centuries. Madurai's attraction is the famous Shri Meenakshi Temple. The temple seethes with activity from dawn to dust, its many shrines attracting pilgrims from every part of India and tourists from all over the world. Sri Meenakshi Temple is a riotously baroque example of Dravidian architecture with 'gopurams' covered from top to bottom with a breathless profusion of multi coloured images of gods and goddesses, animals and mythic figures. Designed in 1560 by Vishwanath Nayak, the present temple was substantially built during the reign of Tirumalai Nayak (1623-55 AD), but its history goes back 2000 years to the time when Madurai was the capital of the Pandya kings. There are four entrances to the temple, which occupies six hectares. It has 12 towers, ranging in height from 45 to 50 metres, and four outer-rim nine-storey towers, the tallest of which is the 50-metre-high southern
tower. In the evening you will be taken to visit the temple to witness the ‘evening temple ceremony’, the nightly wedding ritual of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. A ceremonial procession wends its way through the temple each evening, accompanied by music and chanting. The statue of Lord Shiva is transported to the chambers of Meenakshi, where a ritual wedding is performed and image
is left overnight.
Overnight in Madurai

Day 6   Madurai – Chettinadu - Madurai

Day 6 Madurai – Chettinadu - Madurai

Early this morning you may revisit the temple one more time.After breakfast you will be taken on a full-day excursion to Chettinadu where you visit the lovely traders’ bungalows of Chettinadu (2 hours each way). Chettinadu is the homeland of the famous Tamil traders Chettiars, a prosperous banking andbusiness community, many of whose members migrated to various part of South-east Asia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today Chettinadu is well known for its mansions, embellished with marble and Burma teak, wide courtyards, spacious rooms. Sadly, all these lovely mansions today are vacant, though they are still well-maintained by the Chettiars living in different parts of the world…as they come once in few years to visit their homeland. It is an absolutely amazing experience to wander around a typical Chettinadu village and explore these largely abandoned mansions.
Your lunch will be in Chettinad and you will sample the unique Chettinad cuisine that has transcended the boundaries of the state to carve a worldwide following. Chettinad cuisine is famous for its use of a variety of spices in preparing mainly non-vegetarian food.
Late in the afternoon you will return to Madurai and would be at leisure

Overnight in Madurai

Day 7      Madurai – Paradisa

Day 7 Madurai – Paradisa

This morning after a leisurely breakfast you will be driven to Paradisa (4 hours drive). On arrival in Paradisa check into your hotel and rest of the day may be spent at leisure or explore the neighbouring hills for spice and coffee plantation gardens.

Set amidst the tranquil atmosphere of organic coffee and spice plantations, Paradisa Plantation Retreat comprises separately arranged traditional wooden Kerala style houses. Sitting in your cottage, the view itself on offer is enough to rejuvenate your mind and body. From Paradisa Plantation Retreat you can hike through the plantations to see the cultivation and harvesting of coffee, cardamom, cloves and pepper. The tea plantations and factory are also well worth a visit.

Overnight in Paradisa

Day 8   Paradisa

Day 8 Paradisa

Full-day at leisure or you may explore the plantation and hill country with the help of hotel staff. Overnight in Paradisa

Day 9     Paradisa - Kumarakom

Day 9 Paradisa - Kumarakom

This morning you will be driven (3 hours) to Kumarakom on Lake Vembanad. On arrival you will check into your hotel and would be at leisure for the rest of the day.

Overnight in Kumarakom

Day 10   Kumarakom

Day 10 Kumarakom

Day at leisure or free to explore neighbouring areas with our vehicle at your disposal.

Overnight in Kumarakom

Day 11    Kumarakom - Houseboat

Day 11 Kumarakom - Houseboat

This morning you will be driven a short distance (45 minutes) to board your Houseboat.The entire state of Kerala is criss-crossed with waterways that provide for irrigation and also serveas convenient modes of transportation and commerce. Next to the coastline, these endless stretches of lakes and lagoons are together called the backwaters. Life along these canals and by-ways is quite different from that seen along the highways. Many of the villages are isolated and entirely dependent on the canals for means of livelihood, transportation and communication…and the best way to discover these surroundings is by a ‘kettuvallam’ or houseboat.
In Malayalam the word ‘kettuvallam’ means a sewn or stitched canoe. Traditionally they were built of planks sewn together with coir cordage, threaded through with a needle carved from a palm frond. The seams, caulked with coir plugs soaked in sardine or cashew oil made the boats waterproof. The traditional houseboat of Kerala is one of the most enduring images of the backwaters - its natural, cocoon-like profile complementing the surrounding countryside. These ‘kettuvallam’, were designed to carry heavy cargo, such as coconuts and spices and to provide living accommodation for the boatmen.
Preserving their historic character and style, craftsmen have created a unique atmosphere onboard, a comfortable, self-contained world from which to observe rural Keralan life flowing gently. Most of the houseboats come with bath-attached bedrooms, a living room, open deck and a kitchenette. The crew – an oarsman and a cook will ensure that you have a comfortable voyage filled with simple pleasures, exotic sights and memorable experiences.
Enjoy backwater cruise in your houseboat as it meanders through the tranquil network of water canals, dotted with busy hamlets and lush green paddy fields. A houseboat ride through these placid waters is a heavenly experience, with visions of life gliding silently by.

Overnight in Kumarakom

Day 12      Houseboat – Marari Beach

Day 12 Houseboat – Marari Beach

After leisurely breakfast you will disembark the houseboat and driven a short distance (30-40minutes) to Marari Beach. Rest of the day will be at leisure by the beach.

Overnight in Marari

Day 13    Marari

Day 13 Marari

The entire day is at leisure. Enjoy sun kissed Marari beach and ethnic local delicacies.

Overnight in Marari

Day 14     Marari Beach – Cochin Airport – Onward Destination

Day 14 Marari Beach – Cochin Airport – Onward Destination

This morning you will be collected from your hotel and driven 2 hours to the airport to board your flight to onward destination with a bunch of enthralling and mesmerizing memories of your tour.

Travel Insurance

Yes. All Zigi Tour’s guests are required to purchase travel insurance prior to their India tour. Your leader will record your insurance details on the first day.We have negotiated very special rates with our colleagues at Holiday Extras – with no upper age limits and no medical declaration for UK tours.

To obtain a quotation simply call them on 0800 2800 104 – Please ensure you quote our special price code Q4228

Dust Masks

Unfortunately pollution is a global phenomenon. It is advisable to carry dust masks if you are sensitive to dust or may have conditions like asthma, etc.

Charcoal Tablets

They’re an incredibly effective way of stopping diarrhoea and preventing dysentery (Delhi Belly). It quickly absorbs the toxins or pathogens that are causing the problem and keeps you strong.

Passport Pouch

A pouch to keep your personal belongings like passports, loose money, personal medications, Photo ID, etc. is strongly recommended.

Camera

India is a place of endless eye candy and spectacles that you won’t see anywhere else. Naturally a camera comes in handy.

Personal water filter

We provide complimentary mineral filtered water for our tours. It is strongly advised to consume only packaged drinking water or carry water purification tablets.

Power adapter

It is important to carry international travel adapters to charge your electronic items such as laptops , phones, toothbrush, tablets, etc