India Tour Plan

India Tour Plan

India is among countries that start with I listed on The world religions of Hinduism and Buddhism have their home in India. High-tech modernity and archaic poverty can be found side by side in this country. Impressive natural spaces can be found from the mountains of the Himalayas over the plains of the Ganges to the coasts of the Indian Ocean as well as unique cultural treasures, including the world-famous Taj Mahal in Agra or the highest Sikh sanctuary, the Golden Temple of Amritsar.

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  • Day 1: Off to South India!
  • Day 2: Namaste – Welcome to Kerala!
  • Day 3: Kochi – On local tracks
  • 4th day: fishermen at work
  • Day 5: Thattekad: Bird watching
  • Day 6: Thattekadu – Munnar
  • Day 7: Munnar – Hike in the Western Ghats
  • Day 8: Munnar – Hike to the Top Cliff
  • Day 9: Temple ceremony in Madurai
  • Day 10: Madurai – Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Day 11: Hike in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Day 12: Ayurveda & Backwaters
  • Day 13: A sustainable village project
  • Day 14: Out and about with the houseboat
  • Day 15: Marari Beach: Coconut palms & wide sandy beaches
  • Day 16: Marari Beach: Ayurveda & palm beach
  • Day 17: Good bye, Kerala or extension at Marari Beach

We look out over Munnar’s tea plantations, which form a unique mosaic of shades of green, and from the peaks of the Western Ghats on Tamil Nadu. Swings gently on the houseboat on the waterways of the backwaters. The scent of vanilla, other spices and history is in the air. Kerala is somehow different, they say. Naturally beautiful and relaxed, on land as well as on water. Munnar (1,600 m) was and is an attraction for many with its seemingly endless tea plantations and the pleasantly cool climate. We walk through fields full of tea, cardamom, pepper and other spices. Take a deep breath. Scenically varied hikes lead us to the highest mountains of the Western Ghats. We dive deep into the peace and quiet of the country.

When we drive our own houseboat across the widely branched waterways of Kerala, we get a very special view of the everyday life of the locals. They wash clothes by the river, tap the typical palm wine and breed their ducks. The network of waterways seems as endless as Munnar’s tea plantations. As adventurers we go on a jungle tour through the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and marvel at the variety of flora and fauna in India’s largest nature reserve. In Madurai we travel back into the two thousand-year history of the Hindu temple city and lose ourselves in Kochi in the colonial-looking streets. European influences from the colonial era meet Indian traditions such as the fascinating Kathakali. A mixture of dance, drama, historical narration, mask show and great pantomime art.

Meals: B = breakfast / L = lunch / packed lunch / D = dinner

1st day:

Off to South India!

Today we board the plane to Kochi in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Our great journey begins!

2nd day:

Namaste – Welcome to Kerala!

At Kochi Airport we are welcomed with a “Wander around the world” sign and brought to our hotel in Fort Kochi, the old town of Kochi. Cochin (as “Kochi” used to be called) is located on a group of small islands and has now grown together with the modern city of Ernakulum on the mainland. Kochi was already a famous trading center for spices in ancient times. The traces of the changing rulers (Portuguese, Dutch, British) are still visible in the architecture of the old town. In the 14th century, Kochi developed into the most important port on the west coast of India thanks to the profitable spice trade with China and the Middle East.
In the evening a very special event awaits us: a Kathakali dance performance. This pantomime dance is one of India’s most spectacular dance forms and depicts scenes from the famous epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The dancers are lavishly made up (this can take several hours) and wear elaborate costumes, they are accompanied by drummers and other musicians.

Travel time: approx. 45 min.
Overnight at Hotel Killians in Kochi
(- / – / A)

3rd day:

Kochi – on local tracks

Today we move like a local through Kochi on our tour “Kochinivasi”. We get to know the well-known sights and immerse ourselves in unknown parts of the city where daily life takes place. We travel by public city bus, motor rickshaw, public boat and some of the way by car.
On our exploration tour, history mixes with galleries of modern art, Jewish treasures and a look at Kochi’s special tradition: the Chinese fishing nets. They float mightily over the water and are part of the past and present of the lively city. We pass India’s oldest European-style church (Franciscan church, where Vasco da Gama was buried), charming colonial-style houses and the Catholic Santa Cruz Basilica. Shops, cafes and restaurants are lined up on Shanmugan Road. Our guide will buy banana chips and cashew nuts for us. We stroll along “Broadway” – a busy and contrary to its name, small street.
In the evening we are invited to dinner with a family. The lady of the house shows us how the nuanced dishes of Kerala are prepared. It smells wonderfully of “Masala”, the typical spice mixture for which every housewife has her own recipe.

Overnight at Hotel Killians in Kochi
(B / – / D)

4th day:

Fisherman at work

Very early today we set off to a fishing village by tuk tuk or bike. There the fishermen are already in the process of bringing their catch ashore and auctioning them off. On the way we see how ropes are twisted from coconut fibers and mats are made. A hearty breakfast is served in a farmhouse on the edge of the backwaters. Then we look around the fishermen’s village and walk to the Panchayath ferry. Rice fields and shrimp farms line our way. We hear of alternative cultivars that are only practiced here. Continue to the fish market by bike or by tuk-tuk. There we learn how a balanced economic system between the communities works, from which everyone benefits.
Then we drive to Hornbill Camp, an eco-lodge beautifully embedded in nature near Thattekad. Between palm groves, right on the banks of the Periyar River, we can overlook the forests and the river from here. This paradise is the starting point for our discovery tours through the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary. With its wealth of different bird species, the nature reserve can only be compared with the eastern Himalayas. We spend the night in comfortable, solid tents with a roof and a platform built on stilts.

Driving time: 2.5 hours (75 km)
Overnight at Hornbill Camp
(B / – / D)

5th day:

Thattekad: Bird Watching

On our hike through the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary today we are accompanied by a polyphonic bird concert. Over 270 species of birds live in this bird paradise, endemic species as well as migratory birds that overwinter here. Our local nature guide has exciting reports from the bird world.
If you want to explore the river later, you can go on a kayak tour (depending on the water level). We glide over the water past Kerala’s typical villages that grow spices, fruits and vegetables.

Hike: 2 hours
overnight at Hornbill Camp
(B / – / D)

6th day:

Thattekadu – Munnar

Today we leave the lowlands and go to higher regions. Our destination: Munnar, once an important mountain station and health resort for the British. Today popular summer residence of Indians and tourist magnet. Due to its altitude at 1,600 m, the climate here is pleasantly cool. Our drive over hilly mountain roads line green terraces with tea plantations, pepper plants, fields with cardamom and other spices. When you arrive in Munnar, it is easy to understand why this place was called an idyll by the British in the 19th century. In the next few days we will be surprised by crystal clear lakes and babbling waterfalls, pristine forests and tea plantations.
In the afternoon we explore the Eravikulam National Park, which is famous for the Nilgiri Thars (a type of goat antelope), which is unfortunately on the list of endangered species. Then we enjoy a relaxed end of the day. If you want, you can stroll through Old Munnar and immerse yourself in life on the streets, in the large market hall or in the traditional pubs. (The Eravikulam National Park is closed from February 1st to April 15th)

Driving time: approx. 2.5 hours (75 km)
Overnight at Silver Tips, Munnar
(B / – / D)

7th day:

Munnar – Hike in the Western Ghats

After an early breakfast a short drive brings us to the starting point of our hike at 1,400 meters. We hike through tea plantations for a while and soon reach the mountain ridge, which we then hike along. Again and again there are impressive views – of tea plantations and evergreen Shola forests on one side and rocky mountain slopes on the other. When the sky is clear we can even see the Anamudi, at 2,695 m the highest peak in South India. Our gaze also wanders to the reservoir of the Idukki dam, which is one of the highest dams in Asia. We strengthen ourselves with a picnic and then walk on through coffee and cardamom plantations, here we can also discover some of the endemic bird species that only live in the Western Ghats.

Hike: approx. 3 hours (+/- 500 m)
Overnight at Silver Tips, Munnar
(B / L / D)

8th day:

Munnar – Hike to the Top Cliff

After an early breakfast we drive up to the Top Cliff today and pass some sights like the Madupatty Dam or the Echo Point. The starting point of our hike is 1,800 m above sea level, the highest point at 2,250 m. Our varied hike takes us through tea plantations, evergreen Shola forests, through grasslands and along the eastern mountain ridges of the Western Ghats, from where there are always magnificent views of the Tamil Nadu lowlands.

Hike: approx. 5 hours (+/- 450 m)
Overnight at Silver Tips, Munnar
(B / – / D)

Day 9:

Temple ceremony in Madurai

Today we drive to Madurai, one of the oldest cities in South India. The city of one million on the banks of the Vaigai River has two thousand years of history to tell. Colorful Madurai is known for its rich cultural heritage. The main attraction is the Hindu Meenakshi Temple in the heart of the old town, built between the 16th and 18th centuries, and dedicated to Lord Shiva. As one of the largest temple complexes in all of India, its gate towers (gopurams) protrude far into the sky. There is always something going on. It seems as if one religious festival flows seamlessly into the next. Before the prayer, the believers bathe in water basins and crowd into the “Hall of a Thousand Pillars”. There we are allowed to attend “Palli Arai”, an atmospheric, Hindu ceremony tonight.

Driving time: approx. 5 hours (180 km)
Overnight at Hotel Germanus, Madurai
(B / – / D)

10th day:

Madurai – Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

We leave Madurai behind and drive back to Kerala to the small village of Thekkady. The streets lead us uphill through the Western Ghats and reach the center of spice cultivation. We can stop at the many stores that sell cardamom, vanilla pods, pepper, turmeric, and more. From here it is only a tiger’s jump to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. With 777 km² it is one of India’s largest nature reserves with a large lake that was created by the British at the end of the 19th century to provide water. The lake is surrounded by marshland and grassy areas. This area is an important habitat for large mammals, which find adequate protection, food and water here. So it is not uncommon to see herds of Indian elephants here, Nilgiri langurs or – in slightly higher areas of the park – the funny-looking bearded monkey. The tropical forest is characterized by its mixture of temporary and year-round green areas, moist valleys, mighty trees and a closed canopy of leaves, criss-crossed by extensive strips of grassland. The rich bird life of the park is home to the giant hornbill as well as cormorants, darters and the flag dragon with its special tail feathers.
During a trip by ship, we are close to the lush flora and wildlife on the shore of the lake. In the afternoon a local expert tells us more about the spices we will see while walking through the gardens in Kumily.

Driving time: approx. 4 hours (140 km)
Overnight at Tree Top Hotel, Periyar
(B / – / D)

11th day:

Hike in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Accompanied by two nature guides, we start our hike through the wilderness of the nature reserve. We hike at an altitude of between 900 and 1,300 meters, where it goes uphill and downhill alternately. We overlook the steep slopes of the park’s watershed and the vast plains far below. Gaure, sloth bears, elephants are often seen here, and of course countless birds and butterflies. In the late afternoon we return to our hotel and look forward to some refreshment.

Hike: approx. 5 hours (14 km), medium difficulty
Overnight at Tree Top Hotel, Periyar
(B / L / D)

Important: The activities in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary are organized by the Kerala government. This hike is only for 2 groups with max. 12 participants possible at the same time. If we do not receive a permit for this hike, we will take an exciting tour with bamboo rafts on the lake.

12th day:

Ayurveda & Backwaters

Today we drive on a winding route with impressive views through bright green coffee and tea growing areas down into the backwaters to Kumarakom. On the way we visit a factory in Kuttikanam, where Ayurvedic medicines are made. We see the elaborate process in which the remedies are produced according to the more than 1000 year old health theory – Ayurveda. An Ayurveda doctor will be happy to answer all of our questions about the history, philosophy and mode of action of Ayurveda. We also learn a lot of interesting facts in the attached Ayurveda Museum and can feel it for ourselves with a 15-minute foot massage. (subject to availability on this day). Lunch with a family gives us new energy.
Ayurveda is a holistic health system that includes all aspects of life from conception to death. It is therefore one of the most comprehensive and oldest medical systems in the world. Ayurveda regards people as an indivisible unit of body, soul and spirit. The focus is not on the health or illness of individual organs, but on harmony, happiness and well-being for the whole person.
Our current domicile is a “Heritage Resort”, which is quietly situated on the bank of the backwaters, idyllically framed by coconut groves and rice fields. The perfect place to relax and enjoy the day in these peaceful surroundings.

Overnight in Eastend Lake Song, Kumarakom
(B / – / D)

13th day:

A sustainable village project

Today we start quite early and drive to the village of Manchira, which is surrounded by coconut trees in the small watercourses of the backwaters and is committed to sustainable, socially responsible tourism. The income from the activities stays with the village community. We travel in canoes through the idyllic canals that meander between the islets on the edge of Lake Vembanad. We see how ropes and nets are woven from coconut fibers and how palm wine is made. Vessels and baskets are woven from the leaves of the coconut palms. Fishing with the large nets is also an art in itself. If we feel like it, we can try it all out ourselves. We return to our hotel around noon and enjoy a few relaxing hours by the pool or on a walk through the village.

Overnight in Eastend Lake Song, Kumarakom
(B / – / D)

14th day:

Out and about with the houseboat

Today we are going to board a houseboat that will take us on an enjoyable and relaxing journey. We cruise on the world-famous backwaters of Kerala, a system of canals and natural lakes built by the British, lined with countless coconut trees, lush green rice fields and small villages. We observe everyday life on the bank: women washing clothes; Children waiting for the school boat; Christian churches and Hindu temple festivals. We also spend the night on the houseboats, which are equipped with comfortable cabins (2 cabins with shower / toilet per boat, each boat with cook, boat operator and assistant). Let’s enjoy a sundowner and dinner under the stars on board!

Overnight on the houseboat
(B / L / D)

15th day:

Marari Beach: Coconut palms & wide sandy beaches

In the morning we disembark our houseboat and continue to Marari Beach. Here the fishing families live their traditional life in small villages. Every morning you can watch the fish bring their catch ashore and often sell them there. Here we find seemingly endless sandy beaches lined with palm trees. It often seems like we have the beach to ourselves. Only in the evening do the villagers flock to the beach to enjoy the cooler breeze and watch their children fly kites. Our charming resort is located on the kilometer-long fine sandy beach in a spacious coconut grove. You can relax in the hammocks and deck chairs in the palm garden and on the beach!

Driving time: 45 min (25 km) Overnight at Abad Turtle Beach, Marari
(B / – / D)

16th day:

Marari Beach: Ayurveda & palm beach

Today is “enjoyment day” on the beach! To round off the enjoyment with even more relaxation, a gentle Ayurveda massage awaits us in the Ayurveda center of the resort (1 hour per guest).

Overnight at Abad Turtle Beach, Marari
(B / – / D)

17th day:

Good bye, Kerala or extension at Marari Beach

We are brought to the airport in time for our flight home and land in Europe on the same day. We should give ourselves some time to arrive and process all the new impressions.

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