Southern India with Goa

15 days

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The greatest of Southern India’s jewels will be witnessed on this immersive voyage through stunningly scenic tea and cardamom plantations, rolling verdant foothills and lush rice paddies. Delve into cultural experiences from traditional dance and music to tea tasting, temples, and a culinary class. A three-night sojourn through Kerela’s waterways by luxury houseboat is sure to be a highlight. You’ll also participate on a birdwatching walk, mingle with local fishermen, indulge in Indian cuisine and try Ayurvedic holistic treatments. Savor the fresh salty air from seaside properties with panoramic ocean views and absorb the calmer pace of life that Southern India exudes so effortlessly.

Highlights

  • Kerela houseboat experience
  • Tour scenic tea and spice plantations
  • Indian cooking experience, learning the use of traditional spices
  • Stunning oceanfront accommodations
  • Meet local fisherman harvesting pearls
  • Witness a Kathakali dance, telling stories of ancient Indian epics
responsible travel

Itinerary

DAY 1

Cochin – Arrive India – Witness a Kathakali Dance

Welcome to India, a country pulsating with color and culture, fascinating history, and rich cuisine. After clearing customs, you’ll be transferred to the Brunton Boatyard, a historic seaside hotel, and former shipyard. Enjoy your afternoon at leisure watching fisherman’s boats cruise past while gulls cry overhead, or take a stroll along the waterfront to stretch your legs after your flight. In the evening, witness the dance and dramatic art of Kathakali, where actors adorned in huge skirts, elaborate makeup and colorful headwear tell stories from ancient Indian epics such as Ramayana and Mahabarata. Myth and legend come to life in the temple courtyards of Cochin before you return to your hotel for the evening.  

DAY 2

Cochin – Cochin City Tour

After your morning meal, meet your guide for an exploration of Cochin’s pivotal historical monuments and stories. Visit Fort Cochin, believed to be the oldest European settlement in India with the Portuguese flag first hoisted here in 1500. Attracting visitors worldwide for its beauty, hear stories about the fort’s key position in the Spice Route with the East India Company. Next, visit the Dutch Palace, containing mythological murals and a rare example of Keralite flooring. Down by the sea, observe a unique way of fishing. Then, take a stroll around Mattancherry, the Jewish quarter, full of antique shops and the Jewish Synagogue built in 1568 is next, containing the Grand Scroll of the Old Testament. After a lovely day of exploring, enjoy a traditional tea in a local teahouse, before returning to your hotel for the evening.

DAY 3

Munnar – Eravikulam National Park and the Foothills of Munnar

After breakfast, a private transfer whisks you to the Eravikulam National Park, with time to stretch your legs in search of mongoose, otter, squirrel, and a unique flower known as Neelakurini which blooms only once every 12 years. Continue driving to the stunningly scenic Munnar, filled with lush green foothills, cardamom and tea plantations. Spend the next two nights at the Windemere Estate, where you may take a guided tour through their plantation, stroll the tea gardens, cozy up with a book in the library, or hike to the top of a picturesque lookout point for the stunning views.

DAY 4

Munnar –Tea Plantations and Mattupetty Dam

Enjoy a morning at leisure in tranquil surroundings, appreciating the countryside while exploring the estate. This afternoon, visit Mattupetty Dam, a vital source of electricity generation for Munnar and a haven for wild birds and animals. Afterward, visit the largest working tea plantation in all of South India; the Kanan Devan Tea Museum, covering an area of 60,000 acres and producing 48 million pounds of tea annually. Learn the process of growing and producing quality tea, and how this has become the backbone industry of the region today.

DAY 5

Periyar – Scenic Drives, Spice Plantation Visit and Cooking Class

After a delicious breakfast, embark on a scenic drive past tea plantations and rolling hills towards Periyar. Check in to your lodge here, the Spice Village. Humble cottages with thatched roofs are nestled amongst verdant gardens and crisp forest air, and guinea fowl and Malabar Flying Squirrel roam free. Sustainability is well represented with 75% of energy gained by solar power. Enjoy lunch, followed by a spice plantation tour where you’ll meander along peppercorn vines and learn the secrets of Indian spices, how they are grown and harvested. Return to the lodge for a culinary adventure where chefs share the mysteries of traditional Kerela cuisine in an evening cookery class. Inhabit the world of Indian spices and savor the magic they bring to a meal. Return to your cottage for the evening.

DAY 6

Kumarakom – Morning Birdwatching Walk, Paper Making Workshop and Earth-To-Table Lunch

As dawn arrives, meet your naturalist guide for a birdwatching tour of the property. Return to the lodge for a hearty breakfast made from local ingredients, and attend a paper making workshop for a hands-on experience using recycled pulp. Next, visit the organic gardens full of vegetables, fruits, and spices with the chef to handpick ingredients for a delicious lunch. After lunch, press onward to your next destination, Kumarakom, for the evening. The night will be spent at the Taj Kumarakom, once a historic family estate, set next to a freshwater lagoon. Tomorrow beckons an exciting adventure, so perhaps this evening may be spent reviving body and mind at the hotel spa.

DAYS 7-9

Waterways of Kerela – Houseboat Experience

Cruising the peaceful waterways and lush tropical landscapes of Kerela on a luxury houseboat is an epic experience afforded to few travelers. On your three-night journey aboard the Oberoi Vrinda, life eases into a slower pace. You’ll meet local fishermen in search of pearls and enjoy a traditional rice boat along quiet canals. Visit a revered statue of Lord Buddha and an architecturally stunning Hindu temple. Enjoy evening performances featuring traditional music and dancing. Dine on delectable Indian cuisine, experience heartfelt hospitality, and from the houseboat rooftop, take in the scenic views that make Kerela one of India’s magical places.

DAY 10

Kovalam – Scenic Drive and Sunset over the Ocean

Disembark your houseboat this morning, bidding farewell to the new friends you’ve made on your journey. A driver will transfer you along the scenic route to Kovalam, an oceanside village famous for Ayurvedic treatments and yoga. This evening is at leisure to enjoy your accommodation for the next two nights, The Raviz, a garden property with breathtaking 180-degree views across the ocean. Enjoy an evening of relaxation, with the opportunity for a yoga class, an Ayurvedic spa treatment, dip in the infinity pool, or dinner at the rooftop restaurant as the sun slips into the sea.

DAY 11

Kovalam – City Tour

Savor the sunrise from the stunning rooftop with your morning coffee and breakfast, and perhaps fit in a morning yoga class. Your guide leads you on an exploration of Kovalam today, beginning with the Southernmost point of mainland India, Kanyakumari. Visit the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi and learn of his life and legacies. View the Vivekananda Rock Memorial with the picturesque ocean as a backdrop,  and explore the 3,000 year-old Kumari Amman Temple, dedicated to the virgin goddess Kanya. Finally, the 16th-century magnificent wooden Padmanabhapuram Palace provides insight into Kerela’s indigenous style of architecture, adorned in murals, colored windows, mahogany ceilings and secret underground passages. Return to your hotel for another sunset over the ocean and restful slumber.

DAY 12

Goa – Seaside Stroll and Relaxation

After breakfast today, transfer to Trivandrum airport for your flight to Goa. You’ll be escorted to one of the most beloved properties in Southern India, Ahilya by the Sea. This idyllic oceanfront property provides the opportunity for a serene escape from India’s concrete cities. Bright, airy rooms feature private balconies with direct ocean views, a sunrise infinity pool overlooks the ocean, and beautiful tropical gardens are dotted with coconut palms and pink frangipani trees. Take a stroll along the sea and explore nearby beaches, peruse the unique collection of Indian art and sculptures at your hotel, or indulge and rejuvenate your senses at the Banyan Spa.

DAY 13

Goa –Scenic Drive and Tour of Goa

Your discovery of Goa’s sights begins after breakfast. Drive past enchanting emerald hills, rice paddy fields, and coconut trees to the Shantadurga Temple. Next, visit a plantation, where you are welcomed with herbal tea and a guided tour to learn how spices are grown. Enjoy a delicious gourmet lunch at an open-air restaurant where food is served in a traditional manner on a banana leaf. With your hunger satisfied, visit two key churches in the area with great historical importance; the Se Cathedral and the Basilica of Bom Jesus. Visit Panjim, a riverfront town with Portuguese heritage. Wind your way through its Latin Quarter with narrow sinuos streets, historic houses with overhanging balconies, red-tiled roofs and numerous small bars and cafés. While the local markets are a treasure trove of indigenous handicrafts, the upscale shopping malls teem with designer boutiques and international brands. Return to your hotel this evening after a full day of activity.

DAY 14

Goa – Respite To Savor Your Final Moments

After an incredible journey through India’s southern highlights, today is yours to enjoy as you wish. You may choose to spend the day at the beach to appreciate your last moments by the ocean. In the afternoon, perhaps ramble to the Reis Magos Fort dating back to 1551, to explore its history. Return to the hotel in time for sunset aperitifs by the pool, and once last decadent Indian feast.

DAY 15

Flight to Delhi – Begin Your Journey Home

Fly back to Delhi to connect with your onward flight home. Southern India’s charm and waterways leave an impact on everyone, begging you to return once more.