A Compass India Inc. representative will meet you at the airport and facilitate your hotel transfer.
The ancient port city of Cochin or Kochi comprises a cluster of islands and peninsulas in a serene saltwater lagoon. Ferries connect the islands to Ernakulam town on the mainland. Dotted with lakes and gently swaying palm groves, Kochi’s otherworldly beauty, coupled with the lure of spices and seafood, draw scores of travellers every year to this natural harbour.
Proceed for a guided tour of Cochin.
The Old Cochin area is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, and the Paradesi Synagogue built in 1568 is a must-see treasure of this eclectic corner of South India. Known for its distinctive tiled roof and bell towers, the synagogue’s interiors feature intricately hand-painted blue and white Chinese willow tiles of which no two are alike. Elegant Belgian chandeliers adorn its central area. An exquisite oriental rug and gold crowns received as gifts from visitors are also on display.
Also of interest is the intriguing International Pepper Exchange that deals in the global trade of black pepper. Nearby are Vasco Da Gama Square, the Santa Cruz Basilica that counts among India’s oldest churches, St. Francis Church where Vasco Da Gama was originally interred, VOC Gate and Bastion Bungalow, all of which, according to local records, go back to between the mid fourteenth and early fifteenth century.
Kochi’s famed Chinese fishing nets are perhaps one of the most iconic and oft photographed sights of . Mounted on teak and bamboo poles and supported by large stone counterweights, they hang gossamer-like all along the Fort Kochi seafront. Their origins are obscure with some claiming they were imported by the Portuguese from Macau while according to others, the credit goes to Chinese traders from the court of Kubla Khan himself.
Embark on a private harbour cruise early in the evening. Enjoy dolphin-spotting as you sail out to the fishing island and the Bolghatty Palace. Sail up to the edge of the Arabian Sea to watch the spectacular sunset.
Wind up your day with a Kathakali performance later in the evening. A traditional dance drama form involving elaborate costumes, highly stylized expressions and choreographed to hypnotic music, the Kathakali is a truly unforgettable facet of your luxury holiday in exotic .
Overnight at Cochin.
Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Later, board your spacious, comfortable Compass certified vehicle and enjoy a scenic drive to Thekkady, passing tea gardens, traditional houses, rolling hills and sparkling waterfalls.
On the banks of the Periyar river, amidst coffee plantations and the fragrant cardamom hills, lies the Periyar National Park, one of India’s major wildlife reserves. Look out for the Asian elephant, antelope, the Indian bison, the elusive Bengal tiger, the dhole or wild dog, and the extremely rare and endangered Nilgiri Tahr, a species of ibex native to the region.
Birdwatchers may be rewarded with sightings of greater hornbills, darters, herons, egrets, owls and brightly coloured kingfishers.
Proceed for a bamboo rafting excursion down the river Periyar.
The raft offers a great opportunity to watch animals, particularly elephants, as they come down to the waters to cool off in the daytime. You may also be able to spot sambars, barking deer, mouse deer, wild pigs, porcupines, lion-tailed macaques, the Malabar Squirrel and sloth bears. Tigers and Leopards are usually hard to come by on the banks during the day.
Check-in at the resort and enjoy lunch.
In the afternoon, visit the spice plantations as well as the coffee and tea estates. Fragrant spices at the local market make great gifts for the folks back home.
Overnight at Thekkady.
Breakfast will be served at the hotel.
After, breakfast, embark on a jungle walk with a highly experienced guide. This is a unique programme where tourists get the chance to get deep into the forest the least obtrusive way - on foot, maximising the chances of wildlife sightings. These walks can be customised depending on how long the guest wishes to spend in the park.
Your Compass India Inc. certified guide will also try to organize an elephant ride for you, if available.
Overnight at Thekkady.
After breakfast at your resort, take the scenic road to Kumarokom. Stop en route to visit a tea garden.
Check into hotel at Kumarokom.
Barely 16 kms from the city of Kottayam, Kumarakom is located by the Vembanad, ’s largest fresh water lake, and is one of the important venues for ’s famous boat races. During the festival of Onam, hundreds of traditional boats, some seating as many as fifty highly vocal rowers, steak down the lake amidst much fanfare, competing for top spot.
Also of note, a bird sanctuary renowned for its visiting flocks of migratory birds.
Your stay in Kumarokom begins with a visit to the sanctuary.
Kumarokom is also your entry point into ’s famous Backwaters, a massive 900 square kilometer network of lakes, rivers, streams, lagoons and canals that both connect and divide the region, giving rise to a unique amphibious culture and way of life that’s perhaps unique in the world. Here, the saline waters of the Arabian sea mix with fresh water from inland streams resulting in a knife-edge ecosystem that’s as fragile as it is distinctive. Teeming with fish, mudskippers, crabs, turtles and otters, the lush vegetation on its banks is home to flocks of cormorants and terns. Human habitation in the region too are a gift of the backwaters, with the brackish channels snaking into the land often being the only means of transportation between villages and towns. Tranquil and mysterious, the backwaters feature, for obvious reasons, prominently among the highlights of your luxury holiday in exotic South India.
Later, check into a traditional thatched houseboat and embark on a leisurely cruise of the backwaters. Equipped with all the modern amenities that you may need, the houseboat is the best and most luxurious way to see , drifting effortlessly into places other modes of transportation cannot reach. Houseboats also allow one to take things at one’s own pace, and the rare luxury of procuring fresh produce for all meals while on board.
Overnight in houseboat.
Enjoy a leisurely morning aboard the houseboat as it gently cruises to Alleppey while on the banks, village bazaars bustle to life as the morning progresses.
The city of Alleppey or Alappuzha is the headquarter of Alappuzha district
and highly popular with travellers. The name Alappuzha means “the land between the river and the sea” and its intricate network on inland canals earn it the title of “Venice of the East.” This watery network has long been Alleppey’s lifeline, from its days as one of the best known ports on the Malabar coast up until modern times as the world’s gateway to the Backwaters. Alleppey too is an important venue for boat races, in particular the Nehru Trophy Race on the Punnamada Lake. Other attractions in Alappuzha include the beautiful Alappuzha Beach, the Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, the Edathua Church and the Krishnapuram Palace.
Disembark at Aleppey where your driver will be waiting to drive you to Kovalam.
If you have been craving a bit of sun and sand, then pristine Kovalam is just what the doctor ordered. A tranquil bay with three stunning crescent shaped beaches of white sand, Kovalam is the beach lover’s paradise and idyllic traditional fishing village rolled into one. In spite of gaining popularity as a tourist spot, the life of the fishing communities nearby seem to follow centuries old mores, untouched by the hurly burly of the modern world. Highly recommended for the view is the short walk up to the quaint lighthouse atop a hill.
The rest of the day is free.
Overnight at Kovalam.
Enjoy your breakfast at the resort. Leave for an excursion to KANYAKUMARI.
Located at the confluence of the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Munnar and the Indian Ocean, Kanyakumari is the tip of the narrow triangle that marks the Southern end of the Indian mainland. Kanyakumari has always been an important port of entry for seafarers in search of India. The apostle St. Thomas was among the first known, and his followers in went on to form one of the world’s most ancient Christian communities.
Kanyakumari, unsurprisingly, is believed to be a holy place of great spiritual power, its shores attracting countless pilgrims who take ritual dips in the waters of the three seas. A little offshore is the freestanding Vivekananda Rock that marks the spot where the great 19th century social reformer whose name it bears meditated and had an epiphany about the course his life was about to take.
Nearby is a lighthouse which is used by the met department to observe the course of the advancing monsoon every year towards the end of summer. The monsoons make or break millions of farmers in the subcontinent everywhere, and is another reason to pray to the deity at Kanyakumari.
Don’t miss spectacular multi-coloured sunset over Kanyakumari as yet another day draws to a close in this ancient, mystical, exotic land.
Overnight at Kovalam.
After breakfast at your hotel, drive to Trivandrum.
Proceed on a short sightseeing tour.
Later you will be driven to the airport for your flight home.