Day 1 London - In flight
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home, for your journey to London Heathrow Airport and a scheduled Jet Airways flight to Cochin via Mumbai or Emirates flight via Dubai.
Day 2 Cochin
On arrival in Cochin, we transfer to the Casino Hotel (4T) to spend the remainder of the day at leisure.
Day 3 Cochin
This morning we take a walk to experience the historic city of Cochin (Kochi). This region was landlocked until a major flood created the estuary in AD 1341, making one of the world’s finest natural harbours and attracting seafaring traders from around the world. The walk will take you through the town’s nooks to see the historic St Francis Church and the Santa Cruz Basilica, reminders of the Portuguese settlers who turned this into the first European township in India, and watch the age-old Chinese fishing nets still in use in the bay. Visit the Synagogue and Dutch Palace, built in traditional Kerala Nalukettu style, with temples dedicated to the royal deity Pazhayannur Bhagavati, Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva. The tour ends in the Fort Kochi area. Some parts of this nearly 500-year-old fort are still amazingly well preserved, with an abundance of historical Dutch and Portuguese buildings. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before we take a short tuk-tuk ride through the city streets. This evening we witness a Kathakali dance performance, India's most spectacular dance drama based on stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. The dancers are elaborately made up with paint and masks, accompanied with drummers and musicians.
Day 4 Cochin - Thrissur
After breakfast we visit the beautiful Athirappilly Falls. Kerala’s most spectacular waterfall plummets for 80 feet, creating a thunderous roar in an otherwise tranquil scene of green hills. We continue our journey to Thrissur, a name anglicised from ‘Thrissivaperur’ which means ‘the town of the Sacred Shiva’. This town is a place of great antiquity, known for sacred sites and colourful festivals, and has played a significant part in South India’s political history. We arrive at our hotel, River Retreat (3T+), in time for lunch. Your afternoon is free to start your explorations, before an evening visit to Vadakkunnathan and Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temples, the latter being one of the largest ancient temples in Kerala (non-Hindus are not allowed inside temples, however their façades and stories of their creation are worthy of a visit alone).
Day 5 Thrissur
Today we visit Thrissur’s Art Gallery. This museum has a wonderful display of wood carvings, metal sculptures, ancient jewellery, stone figurines and some Chinese and Japanese artefacts. We also have an introduction to Kerala’s performing arts, spending time with masters to learn about traditional Sanskrit theatre - the music, make-up, costumes and the training of each art form that combine to create the poetic plays that have told the stories of love, heroism, politics and religion for millennia. After lunch in a local restaurant, we take a walk through the village of traditional houses, shops and markets to understand the lifestyle and challenges of living in the countryside. Later, we see a Tholpavakoothu - believed to have originated in the 18th century, performances of this traditional shadow puppetry show are based on stories and characters out of the religious epics, mainly the Ramayana, and performed ritually during festivals.
Day 6 Thrissur - Munna
After breakfast we take to the road for a journey through captivating countryside to the verdant slopes of tea country where, in Munnar, we check in to Chandy’s Windy Woods (4T). Its stunning location, set in a hillside grove of silver oak trees, with views of endless greenery on dramatic mountains, begs to be explored during your afternoon at leisure. This evening, we take a walking tour of the small but vibrant local market, with stalls of colourful fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, and vendors selling homemade treats.
Day 7 Munnar
Munnar is a quaint little town that exudes a rare old-world charm, evoking memories of the days of the Raj with its elegant splendour, soothing sunshine and invigorating scent from the tea gardens. We take a sightseeing tour, passing old colonial homes and, after lunch in a local restaurant, visit a tea plantation and tea museum, where you can watch a documentary narrating the interesting history of tea in Munnar. We also visit the beautiful areas of Mattupetty Dam, Echo Point, a natural echo phenomenon; Kundala Lake; Jungle Honey Bee Nest and Rajamalai National Park (subject to being open), the natural habitat of the rare mountain goat.
Day 8 Munnar - Periyar
We depart Munnar this morning, swapping views of tea plantations for spice plantations. Sitting a kilometre above sea level, Periyar boasts the perfect natural environment for growing cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, vanilla, ginger and coffee. Through millennia of generations, Periyar has produced much of India’s pepper and became an important part of the 15th century spice trade, when black pepper was equal in worth to its weight in gold. We check in to our hotel, the Poetree Sarovar Portico (4T), and take lunch here before proceeding to a spice garden to learn about their harvest. Afterwards, we take a boat ride on Lake Periyar for a chance to see various species of wildlife. In the midst of a sanctuary that bears its name, where elephants, tigers and Indian wild dogs roam; deer, boar, otters and a great array of birdlife are more readily spotted on this adventure.
Day 9 Periyar - Alleppey
This morning we head to Alleppey and board a beautifully crafted deluxe houseboat (3T+) for an unforgettable overnight cruise. These elegant crafts were once common along the backwaters of Kerala, used as cargo vessels, poled along by one or two men. They are now restored as extremely eco-friendly houseboats that glide through the 1,500km maze of waterways that link small lakes and lagoons, surrounded with an array of coconut trees and endless paddy fields. Take this opportunity to relax to the sound of nature and gently rippling waters, and to step ashore for short strolls through riverside villages, interacting with the locals. Lunch and dinner will be taken on the boat today.
Day 10 Alleppey - Trivandrum
After breakfast we disembark the houseboat and drive to Kerala’s capital, Trivandrum. On arrival, we check in to the Uday Suites (3T+), and then take lunch in a local restaurant. The rest of the day is free for you to explore this city. Named after Anantha Padmanabha or Lord Vishnu, Trivandrum is home to many ancient temples, and its long shoreline holds several internationally renowned beaches. Maybe visit a grand temple, the Museum of History and Heritage for further information on Keralan history and culture, or the Puthe Maliga Palace Museum, showing portraits of maharajas and their ornate artefacts.
Day 11 Trivandrum
Today we take a sightseeing tour of Trivandrum, the City of the Sacred Snake. It has managed to retain the magic ambience so characteristic of Kerala, with red-tiled roofs and narrow winding lanes. We visit the world’s richest temple - Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, which dominates Trivandrum (non-Hindus are not allowed inside). This ancient temple is a splendid example of Dravidian temple architecture with exquisite stone carvings and pavilions with beautifully sculpted pillars. Visit the Sree Chitra Art Gallery, holding paintings by Raja Ravi Varma which are reflected today in the scores of religious pictures found in every Hindu home and workplace, and enter the Napier Museum to see a collection of South Indian bronzes, Keralite ornaments, costumes and a model of a tharawad, the traditional, ancestral home of an extended Nair family. After lunch we proceed to the lavish Kanakakkunnu Palace, used by the Travancore royal family to entertain their guests. It is one of the last architectural vestiges of the colonial era and inside you will see massive crystal chandeliers and an array of exquisite pieces of royal furniture. We end our day with a farewell dinner at the hotel.
Day 12 Trivandrum - London
We transfer to Trivandrum Airport for a scheduled Jet Airways flight to London Heathrow via Mumbai or Emirates flight via Dubai. On arrival you will be met and guided to your Titan vehicle, for the journey home.