India’s rich culture comes to life on this journey through the exotic South. Experience the history of India as you explore beautiful towns and cities still showing evidence of European influence in three different States – Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. Step into the past as you discover majestic temples filled with art and artifacts and enjoy the serenity of a houseboat ride down a network of canals on the backwaters of Kerala. Search for the rare tiger, ndole (wild dog) and wild elephant at Nagarahole National Park. Be enchanted by the tranquility of Coorg with its coffee and spice plantations, where perhaps, you may find inner peace. Be enthralled by the contradiction that is India!
Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.
India is best visited during winter – October through March. During this time, there’s hardly ever any rain, and the days are warm – not hot – while the evenings are cool. During summer, it can be very hot, which is also the time of the monsoons, with a substantial amount of rainfall. It can be foggy in Delhi during the winter months. For our South India program, for best viewing of wildlife at Nagarahole, April/May is recommended, when the elephants congregate at the banks of the lake and can be seen in massive herds. It is warm, but the wildlife viewing warrants it. For our Wild India program, the parks close between June and mid-October when temperatures can soar to 120 degrees. For our Little Tibet program, this part of India is best visited June through September. Because of the high elevation and winding mountain roads, driving the rest of the year could be treacherous and it will be quite cold. June through September, the average temperature ranges from the low 60’s at night, to the high 80’s during the day. Delhi at this time of year will be quite hot and possibly rainy – temperature could be around 100 degrees.
Board your overnight flight and arrive at Chennai, a major center for music, art and culture in Tamil Nadu, India. Continue onto Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and home to the picturesque Shore Temple and the DakshinaChitra, a center for living traditions of art and architecture. Explore the area on day 3 and in the evening, feast on delicacies of the South during a welcome dinner. On the confluence of the Bay of Bengal and the Adyar river, your stunning palace is Chennai’s most luxurious hotel. With spectacular sea views, the inspiration of its design is drawn from the Chettinad Dynasty, exuding a regal and opulent style. THE LEELA PALACE CHENNAI . (Meals Aloft; B,D on Day 3)
A scenic drive takes you to Kanchipuram, one of India’s seven holy cities. Visit the Ekambareswar Temple, best known for its gopuram (tower) that rises to almost 200 feet in height and the Kailasanatha Temple, the oldest temple in town. Well-known for their expertise at producing some of the finest silk and cotton saris in India, enjoy a demonstration by local weavers at their homes and handloom center. THE LEELA PALACE CHENNAI (B,L)
A morning flight takes you to Bangalore in Karnataka. A long, but fascinating drive takes you to Chikmaglur, the birth place of the Hoysala dynasty and Indian coffee, and home to hundreds of temples. Next day, visit two beautiful temple clusters in Karnataka – Belur and Halebid. Built in the 12th century, the temple sites house some of the richest collections of Hindu art and sculpture in India. See the temple of Channakeshava, built by the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana to commemorate his conversion from Jainism to Vasihnavism, and the Hoysaleshwara temple, standing on a platform like a solemn casket, a sculptural extravaganza, richly decorated with the most finely detailed scrollwork in stone. Your luxury resort hotel situated on a coffee estate, offers unequaled service coupled with breathtaking scenic beauty. THE SERAI. (B,L,D; B,L)
Your drive to Coorg is filled with coffee estates, pepper and cardamom plantations and a landscape of misty hills and lush forests. Located on an elevated area with stunning views of the valley, your resort sits amidst 300 acres of coffee and spice plantation. The next day, enjoy a visit to a traditional Kadava home and learn about local culture and history as you enjoy lunch with the family. ORANGE COUNTY RESORT COORG. (B,L,D Daily)
Start your day with a drive to Mysore, the capital city of the Wodeyars, to see the magnificent Mysore Palace. Built in 1912 in the Indo-Saracenic style, the palace exudes a grandeur that is unmatched. After lunch, continue to Nagarahole National Park with its rich wildlife – elephant, tiger, ndole, four-horned antelope, sloth bear, civet, wild boar, spotted deer, flying fox, and over 250 species of birds make their home here. Activities include boat rides on the Kabini Lake, traditional bamboo and buffalo hide boats, and a drive on a canter to view the majestic wildlife in the Park. See a wildlife movie in the audio-visual hall followed by cultural dances, and end your night with a campfire and barbecue at the Ghol Ghar. Your luxurious resort is situated in the heartland of the Kadukuruba tribe and is surrounded on three sides by the Kabini River. ORANGE COUNTRY RESORT NAGARAHOLE. (B,L,D Daily)
Return to Bangalore Airport for your flight to Cochin, the oldest European settlement in India, and one of the finest natural harbors in the world. Enjoy an exquisite meal prepared at your luxury, historic hotel situated right on Willingdon Island, and take in the breathtaking view of Cochin harbor as you relax in the resort. Take a stroll the next morning through St. Francis Church – the original burial place of Vasco de Gama. Visit the Dutch Palace, the Jewish Synagogue, and Fort Kochi to see historic Dutch and Portuguese buildings, and shop at Jew Street – a walk down the lanes of antiquity where every piece on sale has its own tale to narrate. In the evening, enjoy a sunset harbor cruise and a Kathakali performance – an art form unique to this part of India. VIVANTA TAJ MALABAR. (B, Packed L,D; B,D)
A short drive this morning takes you to Alleppey to board your Kettuvalam (Rice Boat) for a cruise down the backwaters of Kerala, as you make your way towards Kumarakom, a scenic landscape dotted with lush forests of mangroves, coconut palms and paddy fields. Witness the daily life of the locals from the comforts of your Kettuvalam and enjoy lunch at Phillipkutty’s Farm, a family-owned organic spice plantation. Your luxurious home is situated on the picturesque banks of Vembanad Lake with an enchanting infinity pool, an Ayurveda center and original works of art in many of the rooms. KUMARAKOM LAKE RESORT. (B,L)
Spend your last day at leisure – perhaps preparing for your return trip with an Ayurveda treatment – before your farewell dinner in the evening. Afterwards, transfer to Cochin for your return flights home. (B,D; Meals Aloft)
Discover the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, once an important port for the spice trade in Southeast Asia, now a country of historic, cultural and natural beauty with a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites and an amazing blend of religions – Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, all co-exist side by side. Explore Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, Kandy and other places of historic and cultural significance. Learn how to pick tea leaves in Nuwara Eliya, take a two-hour elephant-back safari through the forests and villages of Habarana, visit an elephant orphanage in Pinnawela and seek out the European influence with a tour through its capital city, Colombo. Enjoy world-class accommodations, from an innovative nature resort in Sigiriya, to a converted tea factory in Nuwara Eliya, to a historic hotel in Colombo, and bask in the friendliness of the locals.
Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.
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