A Gourmet Journey in South India

A Gourmet Journey in South India

Package Duration: 14 Nights and 15 Days
Places Covered: Cochin – Alleppey – Kumarakom – Thekkady – Rajakkad Estate – Chettinadu – Pondicherry – Mahabalipuram - Chennai

Tour Overview

A fascinating journey through India's tropical south, do experience the diversity in scenery, architecture, culture and most importantly the people. Tamil Nadu the most leading feature is the prevalence of Hinduism, which has given rise to a unique style of temple architecture found in this state alone. The most magnificent is the great temple in Madurai. This temple is not only a spectacular architectural feat, but still provides the focus for daily life. Kerala is a tropical bliss with an idyllic coastline and lush tropical hills. Despite its relative riches, the majority of the population in Kerala life continues with agriculture, tea, coffee and spice plantations and the coir industry, which still provides the basic economic structure of the region.

Highlights :

  • Kathakali Dance Performance in Cochin
  • Overnight in a houseboat
  • Bamboo rafting in Periyar National Park
  • Visit to Organic Farm and lunch
  • Stay in The Bangala, Chettinad
  • Lunch at Auroville , Pondicherry

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 I Arrive in Cochin
Meals Included: Dinner

On arrival at Cochin airport, meet our representative and transfer to hotel. Overnight stay in a homestay in Fort Cochin where your host will show you some cooking demonstration followed by dinner.

Cochin - the Queen of Arabian Sea, undoubtedly the Commercial hub of Kerala, where ancient civilization gracefully mingles with the modern life. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure in the streets of the colonial Fort Kochi. Tonight join your host for a Cooking Demonstration of Christian Kerala cuisine at her demo kitchen at home, following by a Dinner. This is a great opportunity to share thoughts, culture or simply discuss about the life of a Keralite…

Day 2 I A day in Cochin
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Breakfast at the hotel. We start the tour with visit to Chinese Fishing nets, then St Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica. Take a tuk tuk ride and take a local tour where we stop at Dhobi Khana, streets of Mattencherry, a fruit market, then Spice market, take a pause for a cup of tea at a local tea shop, interact with a Brahmin family and then apply Mehandi on your palms. Then visit the Jewish Synagogue and Dutch Palace. Dinner at a famous Fort Cochin local restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.

Today you will Experience Real life of Cochin during an Ethnic tour – start with the visit of the famous Chinese Fishing Nets of Cochin. The huge cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that droop towards the waters like over-sized hammocks have become a hallmark that represents Fort Kochi on every postcard... Next visit is at the St. Francis CSI Church, the oldest European church in India built in 1503, where the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama was originally buried and the Santa cruz Basilica, one of the finest and imposing churches in India. Then take a tuk tuk– the most popular mode of transport among the localities Go along with your local tour and stop at the Dhobi Khana (laundry station), once throbbing with activity, it is now a picture of slow extinction. Continue through the small streets of Mattanchery, and arrive at the Fruit market on Palace road where locals get a variety of fresh and organic produces at bargains prices. Don’t miss a stop at the Spice Market, where exotic odour of the finest ginger, cloves, cardamom, turmeric and pepper emanate from the spice warehouses lining the street and fills it. Make a pause with a refreshing tea at one of the tea shops where you get the “one meter” tea. There is now an opportunity to interact with a Brahmin Family. The Brahmin are the highest of the four Hindu castes, made up of priests and scholars of Vedic literature and their traditional occupation is to conduct rites at marriages, births, deaths and other auspicious occasions. Then you will be invite to getting squiggly lines drawn on your hands... This ritual called Mehndi arts holds plenty of cultural significance in Indian traditions and is one of the most important pre-wedding ceremonies in their marriages. Later visit the Jewish Synagogue at the heart of what is locally called the Jew Town, and finally the Dutch Palace with its beautiful mural paintings from the 17th century.

Dinner at The Fort Kochi - a renowned Seafood restaurant Described by a famous food critic writer as "one of the most renowned seafood restaurants in India". Here, you pick from an array of king prawns, lobster, squid, mussels, salmon, mackerel, shark and more ; practically straight off Cochin’s famous fishing nets.

Day 3 I Drive to Alleppey
Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

After a leisurely breakfast leave for Alleppey by surface, a journey of about 2 hours.You will sail on the famous backwaters of Kerala. A typical Kerala lunch and dinner will be served onboard. Overnight onboard the houseboat.

These boats are a reworked version of Kettuvallams of olden times and made out of huge planks of Jack wood, joined with coir from Coconut shells.These original Kettuvallams were once used to carry tons of rice and spices. They are today converted into comfortable floating accommodation offering enchanting cruises through the backwaters. Cruise through the palm fringed canals enjoying the beauty of rural village life. You will be offered to accompany the Chef on a visit to the direction a local food market to buy all the ingredients for your sumptuous Kerala meals served on board. The trip continues through a wonderful area of the lush green vegetation of Kerala backwaters. En route enjoy a country canoe ride – there is no better way of taking a closer look at the life and activities on the backwaters.

Day 4 I Disembark at Alleppey and drive to Kumarakom
Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Breakfast on board, disembark and drive to Alleppey town to join The Preserve Alleppey project, created by the Lions Ladies Club of Alleppey in 2000. End your tour with lunch one of the members home. Check-in your hotel and rest of the day at leisure in your hotel to enjoy resort activities. Overnight at the hotel.

The Preserve Alleppey Society conducts tours of the town. It starts with a presentation of the history and unique features of the town and ends at the Society's gallery where light refreshments are served.It is partly driving and walking through the Gujarati quarter, the canal banks and an old wholesale market with a guide.

Lunch at one of the members' homes. This is a unique opportunity to enjoy an authentic Kerala meal,featuring local tropical produce. Lunches also provide visitors an opportunity to visit a home,meet with Alleppey residents and to learn about each other’s lives.

Your journey will start with a presentation of the town history and later you will be driving and walking through the Gujarati quarter, the canal banks and an old wholesale market with a local guide.A Kerala lunch will be served in one of the members' homes, which will grant you an opportunity to visit a home, meet with the residents and to learn about local’s ways of life.

Day 5 I Drive to Thekkady
Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch

After breakfast leavefor Thekkady, stop at Manjappally Planation for lunch. Continue onwards to Thekkady, arrive and check-in at the hotel. Overnight stay in the hotel.

Manjappally Plantation Bungalow is situated mid way between Alleppey and Kottayam, this 125 year old heritage property is nestled among the rolling plantations of Kanjirapally. Visit the plantations spread around the Bungalow and later on sample the best of authentic Kerala cooking, as made in traditional Syrian Christian homes.

Thekkady - Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is an established tourist spot and home to elephants, tiger, bison, sambar, wild boar, langur etc. with unending Chains of hills and spice-scented plantations. Arrive and check-in at the hotel. Later, go on a spice plantation tour where you can touch, smell and taste almost all the spices seen worldwide. Due to its location in the lower mountains around 1000 meters above sea level, Periyar is blessed with numerous types of spices. Later enjoy a stroll through the spice Markets of Kumily.

Day 6 I A day in Thekkady
Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch

After breakfast take a full day bamboo rafting  through the Periyar National Park. Rest of the day free to explore the resort activities Overnight at the hotel.

Full day Bamboo rafting - a community based initiative including the tribal community. This excursion takes the participants into the remote areas of the Periyar National park through a two hour trek and a peaceful and relaxing bamboo rafting. This is a very good opportunity to experience the Flora and Fauna of the region. (Breakfast & Picnic Lunch)

Day 7 I Drive to Rajakkad Estate
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

After breakfast leave for Rajakkad Estate, a journey of about 4 hours. En-route we will stop for Organic farm visit and lunch at Harvest Fresh Farm. After lunch continue your journey towards Rakakkad Estate, arrive and check-in at the Estate. Overnight stay in the hotel.

Set in the heart of the serene Cumbum Valley, Harvest Fresh Farms is flanked by mountains that kiss the clouds with streams gushing down its slopes and lush farmlands. A short 15Kms drive down the windward side of Kumily, Thekkady, Kerala, the farm is strategically located at Lower Camp, in communion with pristine nature yet close to small towns and the famous Periyar Tiger Reserve. A charming bullock cart ride takes the visitor to the organic farm that grows pomegranates as it chief harvest along with papaya, grapes and an apiary that produces the finest honey. The farm is also home to cows, geese, turkey, flying ducks and a flock of hens. A well laid out vegetable garden and herbal garden

Later on proceed onto check-in at Rajakkad Estate bungalow. This Heritage property, nestled in the lush forests and the coffee estates of the Palani Hills, offer number of activities. Accompanied by an estate guide, walk up the river through rocky gorges; visits the nearby coffee plantations and the surrounding hills with waterfalls and much more

Day 8 IDrive to Chettinadu
Meals Included: Breakfast

After breakfast leave for Chettinadu, a journey of about 4.5 hours. Arrive and check-in at a heritage hotel – The Bangala. Rest of the day is to relax at this beautiful hotel. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Today drive down to the plains to the unique area of Tamil Nadu known as Chettinadu. Experience every nuance of the Chettiar's lavish lifestyle in a heritage stay that is true to the tradition. Welcome to the Bangala. Every meal here is an elaborate affair running into several courses resembling a typical chettinad wedding feast. With a generous dose of pepper and not chilli, making it spicy but not hot. The spicing is subtle and its secret is the "instinctive hand" of the "Achi",(The host) dumping a handful of this and a pinch of that in the masala leading the taste buds on a journey of intrigue and delight.

Day 9 I A day in Chettinadu
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Breakfast at the hotel. Proceed for a heritage tour of Chettinadu region which includes Chettinadu Palace, some local market, a weaving center. Tonight you will have a cooking demonstration and a dinner at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.

This morning proceed on Heritage tour of the region with a local guide. Explore the elaborately decorated and unique feature of the Chettinad mansions. Visit the Chettinad Palace, built for the royal Alagappa Chettiar in 1912. Stained glass, teak, tiles, granite and wrought iron work truly makes the Chettinad Palace a work of art. And continue on the visits with some of the surroundings Chettinad Temples. See the local market, see how murukku (a local snack) is made by the families for commercially and also the weaving center. Enjoy a tender coconut offered by your story teller.. Rest of the day free to interact with the host or to do some antiques shopping.

Day 10 IDrive to Pondicherry
Meals Included: Breakfast

Breakfast at the hotel. Leave for Pondicherry, a journey of about 4.5 hours. Arrive and check-in at the hotel. Later afternoon take a walk in French quarters of the town. Overnight at the hotel.

Settled by the French in the 18th century, Pondicherry retains a quiet colonial atmosphere with wide shady streets lined with colorful stucco houses. An ongoing French presence in the town means that many local dishes are subtly fused with French ingredients and techniques.

Late afternoon take a stroll through the French boulevard with our Storyteller. Through reminiscence of almost a century old European occupation, walk through the white town (as the French quarters is popularly known as) while our Storyteller relates the history with what you see around.

Day 11 I A day in Pondicherry
Meals Included: Breakfast

Breakfast at the hotel and leave for visit to Auroville and Matri Mandir.  Return to the town and then you are free to explore some restaurant on your own. Overnight at the hotel.

In morning after your breakfast take a visit to Auroville and understand the unique community living here based on universal harmony. You will be taken through the visitors center and a few of the auroville units which innovatively works on paper, textile, bamboo and stones among others. See the Matri mandir (the meditation centre) from outside. Rest of the day free to visit the eclectic range of restaurants, ranging from traditional vegetarian to fusion "Pondicherry cuisine". Don't forget to visit Baker's Street, a bakery run by a French man who sells the most delicious cheese baguettes, quiches and freshly baked bread, as well as éclairs and fruit tarts.

Day 12 I Drive to Mahabalipuram
Meals Included: Breakfast

Breakfast at the hotel. Leave for the famous town of shore temples – Mahablipuram a journey of about 3 hours. Check-in at the hotel and proceed for visit to the shore temples. Overnight stay in the hotel.

Mahabalipuram is a small town which was a port for the Pallava kings in the 5th to 8th centuries. Along the shore lies a stunning series of temples and sculptures, carved from the living rock 1,200 years ago. Unlike many Hindu temples, the rocks show scenes of everyday life. Stunning Shore temple set at the edge of the waves features an altar to the god Siva that is lit by the rising and setting sun. Later on explore the Rock cut caves. Mahabalipuram has become a centre for stone carvers, and hundreds ply their trade in the streets and alleys of the old town. You may opt for a dinner at one of the beachside restaurants.

Day 13 I A day in Mahabalipuram
Meals Included: Breakfast

Enjoy a day at leisure at your Beach resort. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 14 I Drive to Chennai
Meals Included: Breakfast

After breakfast leave for Chennai which is just 2 hours’ drive away. Arrive and check-in at the hotel. In the afternoon proceed for sightseeing tour of Chennai visiting  St Mary's Church and Cathedral of San Thome. Drive along the Marina beach seeing the Presidency College, the statue of “Triumph of Labour” . At around 5 PM meet your hostmeet your host Sundari to experience the authentic south Indian cooking where you will exchange the culture and cuisine with her.  Overnight in the hotel.

The Cathedral of San Thome, the last resting place of St. Thomas the Apostle who brought Christianity to India in 52 AD, and the Fort George - where most of Chennai early history was written are focal points of visit.  The St Mary’s Church in the Fort was built in 1678 – 80, and Robert Clive was married in this church in 1753. Elihu Yale who in his later years founded the famous Yale University in the US, was one of the early Governors of Madras as it was then known. Today, the Fort houses the Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly.

The Chennai museum (closed on Fridays) is famous for its splendid collection of Chola bronzes & The Kapaleeswarar temple with its massive and intricately carved gopurams reach out to the skies.

Join your host Sundari in Chennai for a market visit, cooking demonstration and in-home meal. Experience authentic Indian life and cuisine with Sundari as you visit her local market, cook her favorite family recipes, and eat a delicious South Indian meal. Leave with new recipes, a new friend, and lifelong memories.

Market tour followed by cooking demo and lunch at local house.

Sundari is a cheerful host who will instantly make you feel at home in her in-laws converted home, surrounded by fruit trees and filled with traditional art and decor. Sundari has been cooking since she was 8 and delights in sharing her South Indian culinary and cultural traditions with guests.You will start your experience with a tour of Sundari’s home and an overview of the food you will be cooking before embarking on your market visit. At the local Sastri Nagar neighborhood market, you will watch Sundari get her wheat milled, coffee get her ground and visit the local temple. You will then walk back to Sundari’s home through the neighborhood.Roll up your sleeves and join Sundari in the kitchen where you will learn how to prepare 4-5 of Sundari's favorite dishes. Your menu may include typical

South Indian Tamilian dishes such as rasam (peppery soup of lentils and spices made with lemons, tomatoes or tamarind), sambar (lentil and tamarind based vegetable stew), kuzhambu (a tangy and spicy South Indian specialty flavored by sun-dried vegetables), vegetable curry, kootu (a special dish made of vegetables, lentils and coconut), rice, raita, appalams (also known as pappadams) and a spread of Indian condiments and snacks. Your meal might conclude with South Indian filter coffee, a specialty coffee drink made by mixing frothed and boiled milk. Alternatively, you may request to learn to make a South Indian brunch of dosas, idlis and vadas with a variety of chutneys instead.Sit with Sundari while eating your South Indian vegetarian meal, which you will eat with your hands on stainless steel plates or fresh banana leaves. Please note, this is not a professional cooking class, rather this experience is a visit into an authentic, local home to meet a local person and share the culture and cuisine together.

Day 15 I Drive to Chennai
Meals Included: Breakfast

After breakfast leave for Chennai Airport for your International Flight.

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