South Indian Splendour-14 days
Places covered: Bangalore, Sravanabelagola, Belur, Halebid, Hassan, Mysore, Ooty, Palakkad, Poothotta Village, Cochin
Day 1 Bangalore arrival:
Arrive at Bangalore International airport. You will be welcomed by Concept Voyages’ representative who will transfer you to hotel for checking in. Bangalore is a bustling city today, Bangalore often reminisces about its days as a sleepy cantonment area of the British - tree lined avenues with quaint sounding names like Richmond Town and Victoria Layout hint that the city does get sentimental about its past. Evening visit Vidhan Soudha and Cubbon Park. The Vidhana Soudha, located in Bengaluru (Bangalore), is the seat of the state legislature of Karnataka. It is an imposing building, constructed in a style sometimes described as Mysore Neo-Dravidian, and incorporates elements of Indo-Saracenic and Dravidian styles. The Cubbon Park, officially known as Sri Chamarajendra Park, is over 100 year old established in year 1870 by Sri John Meade, the then acting Commissioner of Mysore. The park provides sylvan surroundings to the State Legislature building- the Vidhana Soudha, the High Court Buildings – the Attara Kacheri and a number of other organizations located along the periphery. Return back to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 2 Bangalore sightseeing:
Breakfast at hotel. Depart for a relaxed sightseeing tour of Bangalore. The Bangalore Palace, St. Marys Basilica, Tipu’s Palace, ISKCON Temple and the Bull Temple highlights the city’s many personalities and are monuments that mark its journey, ante-IT. Bangalore Palace, a palace located in Bangalore, India, was built by Rev. Garrett, is spread across 454 acres. St. Mary's Basilica has been built in the Gothic style with arches, ornamental motifs and stained glass windows. Multiple columns and the tall spires of the basilica can be seen from quite a distance. Dodda Basavana Gudi (the Bull Temple) is the Hindu temple is inside the park called Bugle Rock. Nandi Temple is exclusively for the worship of the sacred bull (Basava in Kannada) in Hinduism, known as Nandi. The temple was built in 1537 by a local ruler under the Vijayanagara empire in the Vijayanagara architectural style. Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 3 Bangalore-Hassan (185 kms / 3 hrs):
Breakfast at hotel. Checkout from Bangalore hotel to visit Hassan. Enroute visit Sravanabelagola. Shravanabelagola is the home for the statue of Gommateshvara Bahubali is one of the most important destinations of Jain pilgrimage. The 57-feet tall monolithic statue of Gommateshvara is located on Vindyagiri Hill. It is considered to be the world's largest monolithic stone statue. The base of the statue has inscriptions in Kannada as well as the oldest evidence of written Marathi, i.e. Devnagari script, dating from 981 AD. Reach Hassan in mid afternoon. Visit Belur and Halebid temple complexes. Belur was the early capital of the Hoysala Empire. With Halebidu which is only 16 km away, this is one of the major tourist destinations in Karnataka. The main attraction in Belur is the Chennakeshava temple complex as the centre piece, surrounded by the Kappe Chennigraya temple built by Shantaladevi, queen of king Vishnuvardhana. The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures and friezes with no portion left blank. Darpana Sundari (Lady with the mirror) carved on walls of Belur Temple is one of major attractions in the complex. The credit of carving most of the sculptures goes to Jakanachari. Halebidu was the regal capital of the Hoysala Empire in the 12th century. It is home to one of the best examples of Hoysala architecture in the ornate Hoysaleswara and Kedareswara temples. This name is given because this city was ruined two times by Bahmani Sultanate. There is an archaeological museum in the temple complex. The Hoysaleswara temple, dating back to the 1121 C.E., is astounding for its wealth of sculptural details. The walls of the temple are covered with an endless variety of depictions from Hindu mythology, animals, birds and Shilabalikas or dancing figures. Yet no two sculptures of the temple are the same. Overnight stay at Hassan.
Day 4 Hassan to –Mysore (119 kms / 2 hrs):
Breakfast at hotel. Checkout from hotel and depart for Mysore. Enroute visit Srirangapattana and Tipu’s Summer Palace. Srirangapatna is one of the most important Vaishnavite centres of pilgrimage in south India. The Ranganatha Swamy temple is a medley of the Hoysala and Vijayanagar styles of temple architecture. Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace was the summer residence of Tipu Sultan in Mysore till his death in the year 1799 during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War. This magnificent structure has been built entirely with French Rose wood and stands adorned with pillars, arches and balconies. There is also a small museum in the palace which is open to public. Arrive Mysore and check into hotel. Relax a bit and depart for visiting Mysore Maharaja Palace, Philomena Church and spend the evening at Brindavan Gardens. The Palace of Mysore (also known as the Amba Vilas Palace) is the official residence of the Wodeyars - the erstwhile royal family of Mysore that ruled the princely state of Mysore for over seven centuries. The architectural style of the palace is commonly described as Indo-Sarcaenic, and blends together Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic styles of architecture. It is a three-storied stone structure, with marble domes and a 145 ft five-storied tower. St. Philomena's church is a church built in the honour of St. Philomena, was constructed in 1936 using a Neo Gothic style and its architecture was inspired by the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The Brindavan Garden lies adjoining the Krishnarajasagara dam which is built across the river Kaveri. Return back to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 5 Hassan-Bandipur (200 kms / 3 hrs 40 mins):
After breakfast, checkout from hotel and each Bandipur by road. The Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary puts life back into perspective. Trying to spot elusive animals, listening for bird calls and commuting on the first elephant into the heart of the forests that were once the private hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Mysore himself - its a little like everyday life, only drastically different. Proceed for an evening safari in the park. The Sanctuary is home to the spotted deer, the sambar deer, pythons, sloth bears, porcupines, monkeys and over 230 species of birds. Overnight stay at resort.
Day 6 Bandipur Jungle Safari:
Depart for an early morning elephant safari which is an experience not only because you feel like the lord of all that lies before you, but also because, you never know what you might see. There is a bigger chance of spotting animals early in the morning around water hotels in the jungle. Bandipur is one of the best places in India to observe and photograph wildlife at close proximity. Free afternoon at leisure in Bandipur. Alternately you can indulge in some exciting trekking packages, with trails that range from moderate to highly challenging. Visit the Himavad Gopalaswamy Temple, perched at a height of 1,455 m during one such treks. The nearby Cauvery Fishing Camp is famous for its angling opportunities. Return back to resort for overnight stay.
Day 7 Bandipur to Ooty (49 kms / 1 hr 30 mins):
After breakfast checkout from hotel in Bandipur and you will be taken to Ooty. built up a fame as the `all-seasons -hill resort' and the `queen of hill stations'. Nature unfolds itself in and around Ooty in a myriad of profiles, each one with a distinctive grandeur and individuality. Free day at leisure to enjoy the tranquil nature of Ooty. Overnight stay at the resort.
Day 8 Ooty Toy train ride and sightseeing:
Early morning at 5.30 AM, depart for a breath taking train journey for half a day starting at Mettupalayam. UNESCO added the Nilgiri Mountain Railway as an extension to the World Heritage Site of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the site then became known as "Mountain Railways of India." The journey itself from Mettupalayam to Ooty is full of scenic beauty enroute. Starting from Mettupalayam, a small place that sits on the banks of river Bhavani, the train rises to an impressive 4363 feet, and covers a total distance of 116 km and crosses 250 bridges and 16 tunnels. The tourists are treated to outstanding views of the eastern slopes of forested Nilgiris. The train passes amidst tranquil and serene views of Coonoor, Wellington, Lovedale to finally reach Ootacamund. Afternoon you will arrive at Ooty. Visit the Botanical Gardens, Dodabetta Peak, Tiger Hill, and the famous Ooty lake. Overnight stay at the resort.
Day 9 Ooty-Palakkad (137 kms / 3 hrs 30 mins):
After breakfast, checkout from Ooty and reach Palakkad by road. Celebrated as the granary of Kerala, Palakkad is a vast expanse of verdant plains interspersed with hills, rivers, mountain streams and forests. The gateway to Kerala from the north, a 40 kilometre break in the mountains known as the Palakkad Gap gives access to this land situated at the foot of the Western Ghats.Palakkad Fort is an old granite fort situated in the very heart of Palakkad town is one of the best preserved in Kerala. It was built by Hyder Ali of Mysore in 1766. The fort was taken over and modified by the British in 1790. It is now preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India. Overnight stay at Palakkad.
Day 10 Palakkad-Marari Beach:
After breakfast, checkout from Palakkad and you will be transferred to Marari beach. After breakfast, reach Marari beach by your private car. Check into your resort. Marari Beach is an endless vista of sand and surf, but it is more. An authentic experience of the world of Kerala's traditional fishing villages, and a recreation of an ancient, harmonious way of life. Free day at leisure to enjoy the tranquil beach in Marari. Marari Beach, you'll find, is the one place where you can unwind completely, without the trying bit. You can't watch TV to relax, for example. There isn't one in your room. You can’t plunge into a whirl of holiday activities like surfboarding or beach parties. Marari is not merely an antidote to stress. It's a cure for that other vexing holiday problem: Trying to take it easy. Because here, you can throw away the ‘to do’ list and be free, with no effort at all. Relax at Marari Beach. Overnight stay at resort.
Day 11 Mararikulam:
After breakfast, free day at leisure to enjoy beach activities and yoga at Marari. The village of Maraikulam lies on a forgotten shore, midway up the Malabar coast, where the Indian Ocean finally decides that it has now become the Arabian Sea. It was here that we found all our answers. A beach is a beach is a beach. Until you can seek out its living heart, the culture that calls it home. And so, Marari Beach is a celebration of Kerala's coastal fishing villages. Inspired by this ancient way of life, we sought to capture its essence and create a new experience in sensitive travel for the modern-day visitor. Overnight stay at the Resort.
Day 12 Marari to Cochin (50 kms/ 1 hr):
After a leisurely breakfast, checkout from Marari and reach Cochin. Check into hotel and go for a short sightseeing tour of Cochin. Known as the queen of the Arabian Sea is one of the most interesting cities of India and has one of the finest natural harbours in the world. St Francis Church, built in 1510 by friars brought to India by Vasco da Gama, is the first European church built in India and is the site where da Gama was buried. The Jewish Synagogue was built in 1568, Chinese hand-painted tiles are one of the attraction. This, the only Synagogue in India has a nostalgic past of a Jewish Diaspora. The "Dutch Palace" was built in the 1550s; the palace contains excellent mythological murals and a rare example of traditional Keralite flooring - a subtle mix of burnt coconut shells, lime, plant juices and egg whites - which gives the effect of polished marble. Evening watch Kathakali dance show. Overnight stay at the Hotel.
Day 13 Cochin-Poothotta Village backwater cruise:
After breakfast at hotel, depart for visiting the Poothotta village. Your village backwater cruise will be an unforgettable journey in a country boat into the pristine purity of a typical backwater village of Kerala as your boat goes zigzagging through the narrow canals and paddy fields fringed with coconut palms. Drive towards Vaikom-Kottayam and reach Poothotta - a fisherman's village. The backwaters are network of lakes, coconut shaded canals and estuaries - tiled and thatched cottages bright with hibiscus dot the embankments. Backwaters are a gateway for the visitor to see first hand the unhurried village life of rural Kerala. The life is tough and traditional work is highly labour intensive. Here one meets the people engaged in country boat building, prawn cultivation, sand mining, coir manufacture, limestone collection, rice farming and duck rearing, Bamboo basket making, coir craft, straw mat weaving, toddy tapping etc., Such unhurried life holds a certain fascination for the visitor to these places. Watch a demonstration of toddy tapping and coir crafts before having a sumptuous lunch at the village home. Visit coir and coconut farm -spices garden like Black pepper-coffee-cashew nut, coco, pineapple, Nut meg-Betel nut etc. You can also watch the cooking demonstration directly from the villagers who will be glad to teach you prepare some delicacies. Relax till evening and depart for Cochin for overnight stay at hotel.
Day 14 Cochin departure:
After breakfast, free day at leisure to shop in Cochin. Afternoon checkout fro hotel and you will be transferred to Cochin (COK) airport to board flight to your onward destination.
End of tour.