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Natural Treasures of Kerala

Total Days : 14 Days

Tour Destination : Cochin, Dewalokam, Munnar, Periyar, , Kollam, Houseboat, Kovalam

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Namaste! - We welcome you with folded hands

Day 01: Arrival / Cochin (Mattancherry Palace is closed on Fridays & Jew Town is closed on Fridays & Saturdays)

Mid morning arrival, Meeting and assistance upon arrival as our representatives welcome you and escort you to your car.

Whilst the room keys and check-in is organized, our representative would introduce the tour to you and hand over the documents to you. (Though Check – in time is 2 PM, every effort would be made to ensure an as early as possible check-in – subject to availability)

Welcome to India, or as we say ‘atithi devo bhava’ (the guest is an incarnation of God). Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you!

image not foundAfternoon, we proceed on a guided tour of the City. The true character of the city is to be found in the older parts of the Fort Cochin area. It more or less exists as it used to be a 1000 years back, when it was first built. The roads have not been widened because the old haggard buildings, through patchwork repairs over the centuries, still stand on the edges. This part of the city reflects an unusual blend of medieval Portugal, Dutch and English country life grafted on to the tropical Malabar Coast.  The fishing community of Cochin is also very interesting. They ancient cantilevered fishing nets called Chinese Fishing Nets. The net is fixed to a pole on the shore. While fishing, the entire net is lowered by a primitive fulcrum mechanism using long bamboo poles. By the same mechanism the pole is lifted along with the catch. We will explore the sights of Photographic as well as cultural interest. We would also visit the 16th century Mattancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace since the Dutch substantially renovated the palace in the 17th century. The double storied quadrangular building surrounds a courtyard containing a Hindu temple. The Central Hall on the first floor was the coronation hall of the Rajas of Cochin; on display are their dresses, turbans and palanquins. The most important feature of this palace, however, is the astonishing murals in the bedchambers and other rooms, which depict scenes from the Ramayana and other religious legends. These murals are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful and extensive anywhere to be seen in India. The unique feature here is the unexpected and isolated Jewish community, whose origins date back to AD 52. They are self-contained and have their own Synagogue.

The area around the Synagogue, known, as ‘Jew Town’ is one of the main centres of spice trade. Scores of small firms huddle together in old dilapidated buildings and the air is filled with the aroma of ginger, cardamom, cumin, turmeric and cloves. The area is very busy. The potters are loading gunny bags of spices on to carts, which keep running up and down the narrow lanes. We would visit Jew Town, in the Mattancherry section and a short walk from the ferry, is one street long. Jews used to occupy virtually all the houses on Jew Town Road, where they sold fruits, vegetables and spices or worked as oil pressers or carpenters. The spice markets are still located on the narrow street.

Overnight at Hotel Secret Garden (Standard Room)

Day 02: Cochin / Dewalokam (66 Kms) (01 ½ Hrs Drive)

After breakfast, we will drive to Dewalokamimage not found

Upon arrival we will make our way to Dewalokam. Professor Jose and his family live on the premises – an organic farm with goats, cows, buffalo, pigs, chickens, ducks and guineas fowls. Delicious Kerala dishes are prepared for guests using the farm produce. From the patio of your room you can see the Sahyadris mountains (the local name for the Western Ghats), beyond the river and forest.

Time for independent exploration. We suggest you to spend some time in and around this divinely stunning place, tucked in the lap of Mother Nature.

image not foundAfter little refreshments, we visit the organic farm of Dewalokam (guided) that produces almost all the vegetables, fruits and spices. Dewalokam is in the Spice Belt. The Birthplace of spices like pepper, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, curry leaves, etc. Almost all the vegetables used in the kitchen are produced on the farm. A walk in the garden, plucking, smelling, and, tasting, will enrich your earth experience. In these plantations you will see many of the spices growing that you buy in the Department Stores.image not found

Following a little downtime it is time to get working again - sorry! We will participate with the chef and undertake a cooking lesson. Here, you will be explained significance of various spices and measures that we need to bare in mind when preparing South Indian recipes. This is also hands on experience, either make or break your dinner.

Overnight at Dewalokam (Standard Room)

Day 03: Dewalokam

Following breakfast we undertake a general nature walk through the forested areas that surround your resort. This would be a great opportunity to get up close to the birds and a variety of vegetation as well as bloom. You also get to see medicinal and ornamental plants that are found in the vicinity.

image not foundIf you have a bone or two, for exciting activities, then we also indulge in some soft adventure of Bamboo Rafting on the adjoining lake. This is an easy activity that is possible for all age groups. The Rafting takes us deep into the forest for a true nature experience.

Back to Resort for lunch

Following lunch we will go native! How? We ride on a public bus for a short distance to a neighboring village. Upon arrival we will walk through the rubber estate to the village where we will witness traditional dwellings, interact with the natives, learn about their beliefs, as well as practices, and, get a better understanding of people and culture. Along the way you will also get to see a rubber factory started by the British in 1913. Following the walk, we would have a special ride in a unique public transport – the local tuktuk!image not found

In the evening (at leisure) you may choose to book yourself into regular Ayurvedic massages and treatments. The resort has well appointed Ayurveda center.

Overnight at Dewalokam (Standard Room)

Day 04: Dewalokam / Munnar (90 Kms) (02 ½ Hrs Drive)

After breakfast, we will drive to Munnar.

On arrival check into SpiceTree Resort, a luxury boutique Resort and Spa center. The latter is the perfect destination for those wanting to get away from it all. At SpiceTree, you have everything that you expect from Munnar, image not foundbut much more by way of peace, freshness, tranquility, and, total privacy. Each room of the resort is just wonderful and offers a soothing feel with energy saving warm lights, wooden floor, a sofa cum bed by the window, a balcony with a coffee table; all add up to make for a cozy warm experience.

Afternoon we will visit the Anayirangal Dam - Surrounded by the Tata Tea plantations and evergreen forests. The view of this imposing dam can also be enjoyed by taking a boat trip. The scenic beauty of this place is simply astounding. Lots of wading birds can also be seen here.

Later, we will visit the remnants of the stone-age, just to the right of the Resort. These Dolmens are believed to be the dwelling places of the inhabitants of this area during the stone-age. These now stand as monumental witness of a pre- historic era. Little is known about them through written history; but they were apparently the rulers of this beautiful land. Ideal for photography, one can experience some great views of the mountains covered in lush green vegetation from here.

Overnight at Spice Tree Resort (Classic Room with Jacuzzi)

Day 05: Munnar (Plantation Walk and Bison Valley Village Tour)

Following breakfast we proceed on an excursion to Bison valley – a small village overlooking the SpiceTree Resort. This village is one of the oldest migrations for the high range region of the central part of Kerala. We are offering a tour to explore Bison Valley to reveal its ‘Spice’ tradition using the guidance of a trained team of experts who have an in-depth knowledge about this area and its valuable place image not foundin history. During the tour of this place you will get a chance to take a glimpse into the life and cultural activities of the people living in this village valley who are mainly spice growers and farmers. Down below, in the valley you will also witness paddy fields that again adds yet another uniqueness to this area. These paddy fields are perhaps the rarest at this very high altitude. Guests also visit a variety of plantation to witness their day to day working, and also interact with the locals. Prominent plantations would be that of tea and cardamom. If willing, you may also indulge in soft treks, or nature walks. This beautiful valed village depicts a different culture and has a totally different story to tell compared to Munnar’s colonial plantation culture.

image not foundAs we return after our beautiful village experience, learn some authentic South Indian dishes. Kerala has always been famous all over the world for its spices. The best Kerala dishes are a clever blend of exotic spices and delicate herbs. The chef will introduce you to some of the popular and traditional recipes of Kerala, and make it look easy for you. This would be an ideal activity if you wish to experience the true flavors and preparations of Kerala food in an easy and relaxed manner.

Afternoon we will visit the Tea Museum inaugurated by Tata Tea a major producer of packaged tea so as to keep the history of tea plantation in India intact. The Munnar Tea Museum houses some of the exclusive artifacts like the 'Pelton Wheel' used in the power generation plant, the original Tea roller, and, an ancient rail engine wheel of the Kundale Valley that shuttled men and material between Munnar. Besides this Museum is a tribute to the efforts of all the unsung heroes who were determined to make Munnar a major tea plantation center in Kerala, India.image not found

Optional For those who are interested, a detailed tea tasting experience can be conducted at SpiceTree upon prior request. You will be briefed on the production of tea, and introduced to the different varieties of tea available in Munnar. The session ends with high tea.

Overnight at Spice Tree Resort (Classic Room with Jacuzzi)

Day 06: Munnar / Periyar (110 Kms) (03 Hrs Drive)

An optional yoga and meditation class is available at the resort. You may choose to take your Yoga practice a step beyond the physical exercise. The resident yoga master is highly experienced in the monastic traditions of yoga. He will take you through the journey of yoga, meditation, and, Pranayama in order to discover the potential of your body and mind.

After a leisurely breakfast, we will drive to Periyarimage not found

On arrival check into Kofiland at Thekkady, an eco-friendly resort set in hundreds of acres of greenery that exudes the most exotic experience of God’s own country - Kerala. Built mostly using rock, stones and mud from the area, the architecture of Kofiland is contemporary and influenced in no small measure by the profusion of nature. A lake formed between adjacent hill slopes is however the central motif, casting its bewitching allures into all the cottages that offer splendid views from the balcony. Set between the lobby and pool, is the resort’s multi cuisine restaurant elegantly appointed with robust wood furniture, and, earth toned fabrics, serves the distinctive flavors of the different cultures of Kerala that are bound to delight a discerning plate.

image not foundAfternoon we experience a unique time with elephants, this two hour tour offers you the chance to experience the idyllic natural beauty of Thekkady and getting up close and personal with Kerala’s iconic elephants. Start off on elephant back for a marvelous trek through the nearby forest, a beautiful & very exotic experience for your memories of Thekkady. You get quality time with the elephants, starting with a ride through the jungle & ending in the river where you can bathe them. You are guaranteed to have an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Your adventure includes witnessing elephants timber dragging and, hand feeding of these wonderful animals. After a genuinely thrilling experience you will be served a refreshing cup of a Tea or Coffee.

In the evening we would walk through the Spice plantation and Ayurvedic plants of Kofiland. A naturalist will accompany introduce us to various spices and plants. The walk winds through the vines of pepper and vanilla, past cardamom bushes and tracts of clove, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and nutmeg. Besides, there is also a café and an Organic store set at the entrance to the plantation. Here you can refresh yourself and also buy some exclusive organic souvenirs for your near and dear ones.image not found

After an absorbing fun filled day with Elephants and Spices, it’s now Showtime, as we witness tribal dances, and, a kaleidoscopic dance drama. The various performances include - Episode of Kathakali, Traditional Welcome dance of Kerala, Mohiniyattom, the classical dance of Kerala, Bharathanatayam, the south Indian classical dance and many more!

Overnight at Kofiland Resort (Planters Villa)

Day 07: Kofiland (Periyar Trek – Morning Tour)

This morning we would trek inside the periyar forest. The birdlife comprises of Butterfly, darters, cormorants, kingfishers, great hornbills (the great Malabar hornbill) and racket-tailed drongo. The reptilian population boasts of monitor lizards that can be spotted basking in the sun, on the rocks along the lakeshore, especially in the cooler months. Pythons, king cobras, flying lizards, flying squirrels, flying snakes and to top it all, flying frogs are the other inhabitants of this amazing sanctuary.

image not foundThere are also a few fascinating tribal villages around the Periyar, primarily the Manan and Oorali tribes. The Mana ns are ace fishermen, and a few of them still indulge in the traditional, if dangerous, practice of collecting the honey of large and deadly hill bees. The Ooralis build tree dwellings, though not as residences, but watchtowers to keep wild pigs, and elephants from ruining their crops.

Afternoon we would experience a unique visit to a tea garden and a tea factory where you witness the entire process of making tea. In the tea gardens, we would see plucking of tea leaves by women and storing in beautiful bamboo baskets on their back, strapped to their foreheads. From here we will proceed to witness the multi-staged tea processing in the factory. You would notice how the leaves are dried, crushed, and, different grades are finally made. Of course you will also have an opportunity to buy what you have just seen.

Overnight at Kofiland Resort (Planters Villa)