Culinary Tour – South India

Departure Date

Monday

Duration

12 Days/11 Nights

Views

534

12 DAYS & 11 NIGHTS

CHENNAI I PONDICHERRY I CHETTINAD I MADURAI I PERIYAR I ALLEPPEY I COCHIN

 

This is a very special tour to South India – an ‘insider’s experience’ to the beauty, splendor and romance of this ancient land coupled with a culinary passage through a variety of cuisines that differ from region to region. Our 12-day tour encompasses some of the most spectacular sights, sounds and tastes of South India.Our journey takes you on an in depth exploration of the rich traditions of South Indian cooking and to some of the most sacred temples in India as we learn about Hinduism.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01Arrive – Chennai by Int’l flight

Arrive Chennai International airport

Meet & assistance on arrival and transfer to hotel

(Hotel check-in time would be 1400hrs)

Transfer to your Hotel.

Briefing of the tour by the executive and handing over of exchange orders/vouchers

Chennai formerly known as Madras, is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Chennai, popularly regarded as the Gateway to the South, is the capital city of Tamil Nadu. It is the fourth largest metropolis in India, located on a 17 km stretch of the Coromandel Coast. The city grew up around the English settlement of Fort St. George and gradually absorbed the surrounding towns and villages. However, despite the strong British influence, Chennai has retained its traditional Tamil heritage and effectively blended it to create a unique synthesis of cultures.

Overnight at hotel

Day 02Chennai

Breakfast in the hotel

Depart for half day sightseeing tour of Chennai visiting

Fort St. George Fort is located on the banks of Bay of Bengal. It was built by the British East India Company in 1640 AD. The fort is believed to be the first establishment of the British in India. It is a military architecture marvel, which was erected as a trading post and later evolved to be the origin of modern Indian Army. Situated in the coastal state of Tamil Nadu, this ancient monument is worth watching on your trip to Chennai. St. George Fort holds great historical importance and is looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India & also visit

The Fort St. George Museum. The Museum began with a small collection of objects of the British Raj donated by the then Madras Presidency Government, the St. Mary's Church authorities, the disbanded army units and others.

Also visit The Hindu Temple and Marina Beach –the Second longest in the world, running 12 km in length.

In the afternoon visit the local markets

Enjoy Dinner an extensive Thali (traditional South India meal with a large selection of gravies, chutneys and condiments) at "Anna Lakshmi".

Overnight at hotel

Day 03Chennai/Pondicherry via Mahaballipuram (140kms/5hrs)

Breakfast in the hotel

Depart for Pondicherry en route visiting Mahaballipuram

Mahabalipuram was a 7th century port city of the South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas around 60 km south from the city of Chennai. It is believed to have been named after the Pallava king Mamalla. It has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and the 9th century, and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monuments are mostly rock-cut and monolithic,

Some important sculptures are The Shore Temple - a structural temple along the Bay of Bengal with the entrance from the western side away from the sea. Recent excavations have revealed new structures here. The temple was reconstructed stone by stone from the sea after being washed away in a cyclone. Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) - five monolithic pyramidal structures named after the Pandavas (Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhishtra, Nakula and Sahadeva) and Draupadi. An interesting aspect of the Rathas is that, despite their sizes they are not assembled — each of these is carved from one single large piece of stone & other temples.

Cooking demonstration at local restaurant in Mahaballipuram followed by Lunch

After Lunch drive to Pondicherry and check in at hotel

Pondicherry - It is a former French colony, consisting of four non-contiguous enclaves, or regions, and named after the largest region, Pondicherry. It is also known as The French Riviera of the East. Pondicherry, is also considered an educational hub of Southern India.

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Depart for sightseeing tour of Pondicherry visiting

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram was founded by Sri Aurobindo on the 24 November 1926 (Siddhi Day). At the time there were no more than 24 disciples in the Ashram. Located on rue de la Marine, is one of the most well known and wealthiest ashrams in India, with devotees from India and all over the World flocking to it for spiritual salvation. Its spiritual tenets represent a synthesis of yoga and modern science.

And also visit Light House, Glass House, French Institute

Overnight at hotel

Day 04Pondicherry/Chettinad (280kms/6hrs)

Breakfast in the hotel

Depart for Chettinad and check in at hotel

The origin of Chettinad begins in the 13th century when the Nattukottai Chettiars migrated to Karaikudi. They left their previous area, the Cauvery Poompattinam, following a massive flood. The new settlement eventually became the Chettinad region (Land of the Chettiars) of 96 villages (in 1947) over a 600-1500 square mile area, out of which around 75 villages still exist today. Starting as traders, the Chettiar’s travels took them to various states in South East Asia, such as Sri Lanka, Singapore, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia.

The most endearing symbol of the Chettiar era has been the Chettinad homes. From cuisine, architecture, furniture and customs, the rich and well-travelled Chettiars evolved a unique style combining western and eastern sensibilities. These result in an experience found nowhere else in the world.

Overnight at hotel
Day 05Chettinad

Breakfast in the hotel

Depart for visit some of the ancient temples unique to this area. Tamil Nadu was once ruled by the Chola Dynasty (9-13th centuries), who constructed some of the most ornate temples in South India. Dedicated to various Hindu gods, these temples contain intricate life-size carvings, beautiful murals and are a display of master craftsmanship. Afterwards, for lunch, we drop in to a local family to enjoy a traditional Chettinad meal. You will also get the chance to interact with them and learn about Chettinad/Tamil culture. Later, visit Chettinad mansions, which are unique in their layout and design, especially the use of space and extensive space.

In afternoon enjoy cooking class with the expert chefs. You will learn about Chettinad food and what makes it distinctive. Although dishes are typically very spicy, these can of course be toned down. Exciting Chettinar dishes include the fried murrell, a delicately spiced lamb dish, and robust curries with hints of fresh pepper and raw mango. Enjoy an excellent meal.

Chettinad cuisine is typically spicy and pungent, and consists of mainly non-vegetarian food. The dishes contain freshly ground masalas, and often topped with a boiled egg, which is usually considered an essential part of a meal. They also use a variety of sun-dried meats and salted vegetables, reflecting the dry environment of the region. Meat dishes are restricted to fish, prawn, lobster, crab, chicken and lamb. People from this region do not eat beef and pork.

Overnight at hotel
Day 06Chettinad/Madurai by road (100kms/2.5hrs)

Breakfast in the hotel

Depart for Madurai and check in at hotel

Madurai is a major city in Tamil Nadu and home to the Meenakshi Temple. It is one of the most ancient heritage sites of India truly reflective of the cultural ethos of India. It is also known as the Temple City of India. You can find temples in almost every street in Madurai. The city is called "Thoongaa Nagaram", which means Sleepless City. You can find coffee/tea shops open at almost any time of day and night.

Meenakshi Temple

In the afternoon you will be taken to visit
Meenakshi Temple.
The Temple is dedicated to the goddess Meenakshi (a form of Parvati) with a sanctum for her consort, Sundareshwarar (Shiva). The original temple was built by Kulasekara Pandya, but the entire credit for making the temple as splendid as it is today goes to the Nayaks. The Nayaks ruled Madurai from the 16th to the 18th century and left a majestic imprint of their rule in the Meenakshi - Sundareswarar Temple. The Temple complex is within a high-walled enclosure, at the core of which are the two sanctums for Meenakshi and Sundareshwara, surrounded by a number of smaller shrines and grand pillared halls. Especially impressive are the 12 Gopuras. Their soaring towers rise from solid granite bases, and are covered with stucco figures of Deities, mythical animals and monsters painted in vivid colours.

Thirumala Nayak Palace

Thirumalai Nayak Palace is a 17th century palace built by King Thirumalai Nayak, one of the Madurai Nayak rulers in 1636 AD in the city of Madurai, India. This Palace was built with the help of an Italian Architect and is a classic fusion of Dravidian, Islamic and European styles. The building, which can be seen today, was the main Palace where the king lived. The original Palace Complex was four times bigger than the present structure.

Also visit the bustling market of Madurai outside the Meenakshi Temple.

Food Safari tour tour in the evening.

Overnight at hotel

Day 07Madurai/Periyar by road (140kms/5hrs)

Breakfast in the hotel

Depart for Periyar and check in at hotel

This mini-village recreated in the lush tropical forest of Thekkady is a nature lover's paradise. You will be staying in traditionally constructed cottages, with perfectly integrated modern comforts.

Afternoon is free to explore the local surroundings, take a walk, or do some bird-watching. In the evening, you will watch a cooking demonstration outdoors. Your chef will unveil a few of his South Indian cooking secrets, using the freshest local spices and ingredients. You can choose to eat out in the long verandah or in the rustic wooden dining hall.

Overnight at hotel
Day 08Periyar

Breakfast in the hotel

In the Morning, you will visit one of Thekkady's many spice plantations. Learn all about the spices that are grown here - pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves and more. Return to your cottage.

In the afternoon you will be taken into the park. The most thrilling and ideal way to move into the park is by a boat cruiser. The boat cruiser will allow you harmonize with the natural surroundings of the Periyar Sanctuary. Look out for local wildlife (elephants, deer, sloth bears) coming to the lake for water. Afterwards, go for a jungle walk (2 hours). Return to the hotel for lunch

Dinner in the local Village

Overnight at hotel
Day 09Periyar/Alleppey by road (140kms/5hrs)

Breakfast in the hotel

Depart to Alleppey to board the Rice Houseboat.

Afternoon you would be sailing in the canales of the massive lake where you can see people doing their daily ritual

Your Chef will give you the cooking demonstration.

Dinner & overnight on the houseboat
Day 10Alleppey/Cochin by road (60kms/1.5hrs)

Breakfast in the houseboat

Disembark the houseboat at Alleppey boat Jetty

Drive to Cochin and check in at Hotel

Kochi (colonial name Cochin) is a vibrant city situated on the south-west coast of the Indian peninsula in the breathtakingly scenic and prosperous state of Kerala, hailed as 'God's Own Country'. Its strategic importance over the centuries is underlined by the sobriquet Queen of the Arabian Sea. Informally, Cochin is also referred to as the Gateway to Kerala.

Rest of the day is free to relax

In the evening you will be invited to witness KATHAKALI – the ancient and traditional dance drama of Kerala. The drama shows different scenes from the epics of Maharabharata and Ramayana. To understand the entire process you must reach the place an hour before the show and see the make-up being done on the artist.

Dinner is at the specialty seafood restaurant - Rice Boat. This restaurant features ultra-fresh seafood, hauled from the backwaters and displayed in a show kitchen where in the guests can interact with chefs to create customized specialties. The menu offers cuisine from regions where the original rice boats travelled. They also showcase distinct seafood styles. They include, Kerala backwater cuisine, featuring local sweet water fishes, seafood cooked in authentic Kerala curries and grills, with exotic ocean catch with Lobsters, Scampi, Mussels, and more. Internationally-renowned seafood including Norwegian Salmon, Octopus, Oysters, and Clams are also available. The restaurant’s new, extended windows offer panoramic views overlooking the water and the colonial warehouses of Fort Cochin with views towards the open ocean and beyond – truly a unique experience among restaurants in the region

Overnight at hotel

Day 11Cochin

Breakfast in the hotel

Depart for half day sightseeing tour of Cochin

Jewish Synagogue (Closed on Fridays & Saturdays) – built in 1568 the oldest synagogue in the commonwealth stands, adorned by hundreds of exquisite hand – painted Chinese tiles in blue at the heart of what is locally called the Jew Town lies the Synagogue of the white Jews near Mattancherry palace. The Synagogue is now a fascinating mixture of shops, warehouses and spice auction rooms. The Great Scrolls of the Old Testament and the Copper Plates recording the grants of privilege made by the Cochin rulers to the Jewish community are displayed here.

Dutch Palace (closed on Fridays)

The Dutch Palace at Mattancherry was actually built by the Portuguese and presented to the Cochin Raja in AD 1555. The palace acquired its present name in 1663 when the Dutch carried out some extensions and repairs in it. The main attractions of the palace lie in its wall murals that depict the scenes from the Ramayana.

Chinese Fishing Nets

Chinese Fishing Nets, Fort Kochi
 The chinese fishing nets are distinctly unique to Cochin. It is believed that traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan introduced these nets here. Oddly, these nets are found only in Kochi, outside China! Many fishermen earn their livelihood by fishing using these massive nets. A whole stretch of the coast along Fort Kochi and Vypeen are dotted with these nets.

St. Francis Church

St. Francis Church- it is the oldest church built by Europeans in India. On his 3rd visit to Kerala, Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese trader who reached India from Europe by sea, fell ill and died in Kochi. He was buried in the St. Francis Church. Later his remains were taken back to Portugal. In spite of that, his burial spot inside the church has been clearly marked out.

Nimmy Paul’s residence

In the afternoon take a cooking lesson at Nimmy Paul’s residence, followed by lunch.

Nimmy and Paul have been involved in 'At Home' hospitality for more than twelve years. Nimmy, a professional cooking instructor for more than twenty years, and her stockbroker husband Paul, offer food and hospitality to foreign guests. Nimmy and Paul belong to traditional Syrian Christian community in Kerala. In keeping with the tradition of their families they enjoy having guests and serving good food. Nimmy conducts cooking classes and teaches guests the nuances of traditional Kerala recipes. She is also a food consultant to writers, chefs and magazines. Articles by her and about her have appeared in magazines and newspapers. Nimmy, Paul, and their son Joseph live in KochiWe also provide take home recipes that they learn from the cooking classes. Apart from the items prepared in the menu, an elaborate lunch also awaits the travelers.

Overnight at hotel
Day 12Depart/Cochin by Int’l flight

Transfer to Cochin airport in time to connect your onward flight to next destination

COST & INCLUSIONS

PremierLuxuryComfort
SummerUS$2697US$2285US$2163
WinterUS$3177US$2442US$2291
ChennaiTaj CoromendelITC Grand CholaRaintree Hotel
PondicherryPalis-de- MaheMainson PerumalThe Promenade
ChettinadCGH VisalamCGH VisalamThe Bangala
MaduraiThe Gateway HotelSangamFortune Pandiyan
PeriyarSpice VillageGreenwoodAbad Copper Castle
AlleppeyPremium HouseboatDeluxe HouseboatDeluxe Houseboat
CochinVivanta by Taj - MalabarCrown PlazaHoliday Inn

  Tour Includes

 

   Share twin accommodation with breakfast
   Transfers & sightseeing by Air Conditioned vehicle
   Cooking demonstration in Cochin at Nimmy Paul’s residence
   Kathakali dance drama ticket
   Boat cruise in Periyar with naturalist
   Cooking class in Chettinad
   Lunch and Dinner during stay on the houseboat
  Present Applicable taxes as on 15th Oct 2017

  Tour Excludes

 

      Entrance tickets to Monuments
   International Airfare
   Domestic Airfare
   Visa fee & Insurance
   Items of personal nature i.e. laundry, telephone, camera fee, drinks & tips etc

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