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Itinerary at a Glance
Day 01 : Arrive Cochin
Day 02 : Cochin
Day 03 : Cochin / Thekkady
Day 04 : Thekkady
Day 05 : Thekkady / Backwaters
Day 06 : Backwaters
Day 07 : Backwaters
Day 08 : Backwaters / Cochin & flight to Colombo
Day 09 : Colombo / Pinnawala / Dambulla
Day 10 : Dambulla / Sigiriya / Polonnaruwa / Dambulla
Day 11 : Sigiriya / Matale / Kandy
Day 12 : Kandy
Day 13 : Kandy / Colombo
Day 14 : Departure
Arrive at Cochin airport. After clearing India Immigration and Customs, step into the receiving area where you will be met by our Chennai representative and transferred to Hotel.
Kochi “Queen of the Arabian Sea” (formerly called Cochin), the first of Europe’s colonies in India and the southern state of Kerala’s commercial capital. From antiquity the prosperous spice trade drew seafarers to Kochi: Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Jews, Chinese, Portuguese, the Dutch, and finally the British.
Overnight at the hotel (B)
Today we will have a walking tour of Mattancherry, the bustling part of Old Fort Cochin and the epicentre of the spice trade for centuries. It remains a densely populated place housing people from different ethnic groups and faiths in very close quarters. Mattancherry is home to a small Jewish community whose origin dates back nearly 2000 years, during the period of King Solomon, when large scale trade took place between the Middle East and the Malabar Coast. Our touring today reveals Kochi’s multi-layered past, a rich brew of Arab, Portuguese, British, and Dutch influences. We begin with the Dutch Palace, actually built by the Portuguese as a gift for the Raja of Kochi in 1555. The Dutch renovated and expanded it a century later, earning it its name. The palace also contains some of India’s finest mythological murals; the walls depict scenes from the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (please note: the Dutch Palace closes on Fridays and Saturdays).
Then we see St. Francis, India’s first European church (ca. 1510), famed as the original burial site of Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama, who died in Kochi in 1524 while on his third visit to India. Not immune to the turbulence of the colonial era, the originally Catholic St. Francis changed hands – and denominations – with each new power that took control of Kochi, becoming a Protestant Dutch Reformed church under the Dutch in 1663 then Anglican under the English in 1804. Next we pay a visit to the picturesque Chinese fishing nets unique to Kochi. These iconic land-based nets combine elegance and ingenuity, their massive frames balanced by counterweights manipulated by teams of up to six men. Long believed to have been introduced by the Chinese explorer Zheng He in the 14th century or possibly travelers from Kublai Khan’s court, these nets actually trace their origin to Portuguese settlers from Macau.
In the evening, we attend a performance of Kathakali dance, where facial expressions and hand gestures combine with movement to create this highly expressive traditional Kerala art form which depicts great Indian epics. Distinct among the six classical Indian dances, Kathakali is a highly dramatic and mimetic dance depicting various stories from Indian epics. It originated in Kerala during the 17th century and has developed over the years with improved looks, refined gestures and added themes besides more ornate singing and precise drumming.
Today we will drive toward Periyar. The journey by road itself is an experience, passing through bustling towns in the plains, rubber plantations on the foothills and undulating tea gardens and spice plantations on the mountains.
On arrival, check-in to the hotel.
We will do the guided walk of a nearby private spice plantation which grows pepper, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and more. You will enter the magical world of Indian spices. What they are, how to use them, combine them, and savour the special magic they bring to even the most commonplace foods and understand how each tree has a story to tell.
This morning with packed breakfast proceed for the guided Nature Walk that takes one through dense deciduous forests and swampy grasslands followed by the exciting bamboo rafting
(Special Note: One batch can take maximum 10 people, hence we will divide the group if required – 1st Batch from 0730 – 1200 hrs. and 2nd Batch from 0930 – 1400 hrs.)
This evening witness the Martial Art performance (“Kalaripayattu”). Kalaripayattu-the oldest of martial arts-is a gift to the modern world and known as the mother of all martial arts.
After breakfast, drive along the Keralan coast to the docks at Thothapally in the Alleppey district to board our houseboat.
An environmentally-friendly vessel unique to Kerala’s placid waterways. Prior to their conversion to passenger boats with all the modern comforts, these traditional craft known as kettuvallom once plied these waters as rice barges. Coir (coconut fiber rope) and resin from cashew kernels, not nails, hold the kettuvallom together – a shipmaking practice passed down through the centuries.
The uniqueness of Kerala has always been its Backwaters, and no place in the world is blessed with this mesmerizing beauty. It is for this reason; this heaven is called “GOD ‘S OWN COUNTRY!!”
Overnight onboard Houseboat (B, D)
Today, we see Indian life up close as we slowly cruise along the palm-fringed backwater canals of the Arabian Sea, a distinctive region whose beauty and tranquility have earned it the sobriquet “God’s own country.” Along the way we go ashore to visit some of the local villages and farms, observing traditional livelihoods such as coir making, boat building, fish farming, rice growing and toddy tapping – the extraction of palm sap for production of palm wine, or toddy. We also see churches in a land synonymous with the very beginnings of Christianity: Saint Thomas the Apostle was said to have made a missionary visit to Kerala in 52 AD; to this day Kerala has a significant Christian minority.
Overnight onboard Houseboat (B, L, D)
A vast network of lagoons, lakes, and canals formed by the confluence of Kerala’s numerous rivers and the Arabian Sea, the Kerala backwaters run alongside the coast for more than 550 miles. These labyrinthine waterways have served as a thoroughfare for boats like ours from ancient times, and the daily existence in the communities here has changed little over the centuries.
After relaxed breakfast, check-out and drive to Cochin airport to connect with flight to Colombo.
Our Sri Lankan representative will meet you on arrival at the Colombo airport and transfer you to the hotel near the airport.
After breakfast, leave for Dambulla. En-route visit the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala – This orphanage is the home for about 89 elephants, out of which some are baby elephants found abandoned or orphaned in the wild. They are being cared, fed and trained by the wild life authorities. The best time to visit is during the feeding times, when one will have the opportunity of seeing the baby elephants being bottle-fed. Also could accompany the elephants to a river close-by and see them having their daily bath.
Continue drive to Dambulla and visit the Dambulla Rock Temple. Climb up to the temple, which was donated by king Walagambahu in the 1st century BC to Buddhist monks. Dambulla is a World Heritage site and is the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples. The complex of five caves with over 2000 sq. meters of painted walls and the ceiling is the largest area of paintings found in the world. These caves contain over 150 images of the Buddha of which the largest is the colossal figure of the Buddha carved out of rock spanning 14 meters.
Today we explore the World’s heritage site Sigiriya. Climb the 5th century Sigiriya rock, built by King Kashyapa (477-495 AD). The ‘Lion Rock’ is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 meters from the scrub jungle. The rock was the innermost stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town. A moat, rampart, and extensive gardens including the renowned water gardens ring the base of the rock. Visit the world-renowned frescoes of the ‘Heavenly Maidens’ of Sigiriya, which are in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway. These frescoes are painted in earth pigments on plaster.
Thereafter we leave to enjoy a Sri Lankan village experience where a walk along the village path will bring us to a “Wewa” typical village lake. The village homes are totally different to build up urban areas of Sri Lanka. The small houses are surrounded by green woods on the edge of which their home gardens extend. It is common to spot watch huts in the fields from which the men folk keep up at night on the lookout for wild Elephants and Wild Boar.
Cross the Lake by canoe observing the rich birdlife. Once we reach the farm, the lady of the house gladly demonstrates her cooking abilities using a traditional hearth. We can also participate if you wish in this experience before partaking off her delicious meal.
Once completed, proceed on a sightseeing tour of Polonnaruwa – which was the 2nd capital city of Sri Lanka, built in the 11th and 12th centuries AD, and which is a world heritage site – Here you can see the ruins of the Royal Palace, the Gal Viharaya – where 4 splendid statues of the Buddha in ‘Upright’, ‘Sedentary’ and ‘Recumbent’ postures carved out of rock, the Audience Hall, the Lotus Bath, king Parakramabahu’s statue, and the Parakrama Samudraya lake built by King Parakramabahu the great. There are also monuments of famous places of worship such as the Shiva Temple, the Lankathilake, the Watadage, the Galpotha, the Kiri Vehera and the remains of a former Temple of the Tooth Relic.
Return to Dambulla for the overnight stay
After breakfast, leave for Kandy. En-route visit a Spice garden in Matale to see the different types of flavours the island is famous for and how they are grown.
Continue drive to Kandy and check-in to the hotel on arrival.
In the evening visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic and thereafter witness a cultural show featuring traditional Sri Lankan dancing.
Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings, and is a World Heritage Site. The name Kandy conjures visions of splendor and magnificence. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive. Drive around the Kandy Lake built by the last Sinhala king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1798. Visit the Kandy town and Bazaar, the arts & crafts center and a gem museum and a lapidary. Enjoy the tuk tuk ride in the Kandy bazaar.
Thereafter, visit a tea plantation and factory.
After breakfast, leave for Colombo. On arrival, check-in to the hotel and thereafter proceed for the sightseeing tour of city. The city skyline has dramatically changed during the last decade, trendy malls and cafes sit alongside old colonial architectural monuments and local eateries. The city tour will take you pass the Colombo harbor to the area known as the Fort, the islands administrative and main banking quarter adjoining the famous Dutch Hospital and the esplanade known as the Galle Face. The colorful religious edifices that adorn the different zones in the city reflect the countries multi-ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. The Cinnamon Gardens, the ‘chic’ residential section of Colombo with its numerous villas and mansions blends well with the recently restored Race- Course and Victoria Park. The Gangaramaya Temple with its collection of oriental antiquities and Buddhist manuscripts offers visitors a completely different turn-around from the rich and grand archeological monuments of Sri Lanka.
After breakfast, check-out and transfer to Colombo international airport to connect with flight to onward destination.
Valid From: 01-Oct-2018 to 30-Sep-2019
Price Not Valid From: 20–Dec-2018 to 10–Jan-2019