Golden Chariot Glimpses of Karnataka with Kerala Cruise



A very exciting and relaxing rail with river two centre combination of chugging through the beautiful hills and plains of Karnataka in the comfort of the luxurious Golden Chariot train. Visit a tiger reserve national park which is also home to elephants, bison and deer. Explore the amazing palaces and temples of Mysore, a city where an erstwhile Maharaja still resides. Come to one of the most beautiful ancient ruins of South India at Hampi which was earlier called Vijaynagra, which was one of the most powerful empires of South India before the colonial period. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was recently featured in the New York Times and has been called the grandest of all destinations of South India. This three nights and four days on rail is a beautiful home taking us to beautiful destinations of great monuments.

From Karnataka fly to Kerala and board a seven nights Kerala Backwaters Canal Cruise on the MV Vaikundam, which is a comfortable 9 cabin wooden canal cruise boat. Kerala which was described by National Geographic as being one of three most beautiful destinations of the world a while back and was recently also called as one of the fifty most beautiful destinations by the Times. The Kerala Backwaters have been called the Emerald Waterways and the Green Venice of the East. It is a system of lakes and lagoons, rivers and canals. Sailing through narrow canals where the homes on the side of the waterways brush past the boat gives a very intimate experience into the life of the people. The cruise takes you to visit temples and churches, fishing and artisan villages, dance schools teaching traditional dance forms to ayurvedic medicines, traditional wooden boat building yards to metal workers making traditional brasswares, temple bells and metal mirrors. In many places sailing is in canals some twenty feet above the paddy fields held together with dykes and in some places close to the sea separated by beach.

The journey starts from the modern cosmopolitan technology city of Bangalore now called Bengaluru and ends in the harbour city of Cochin now called Kochi, which is beautifully squeezed between the backwaters and the Arabian Sea. Kochi is also a very historical city with its medieval palaces, colonial buildings and the initial burial place for the early European explorer Vasco Da Gama. The journey on wheels and voyage on waters is an amazing combination that is really unique, relaxing and very deep dive into the nature and cultures of South India!

Destinations Covered

Detailed Itinerary

  1. Day 1 Arrive Bangalore


    Arrive in Bengaluru, after clearing immigration and customs, we step into the receiving area where we will be met by our representative and transferred to the hotel.

    Arrive at your hotel and check in.

    Overnight at the Hotel (No Meals)

  2. Day 2 Bangalore


    Today morning after early breakfast, we will proceed for a walking tour of Colonial Bengaluru at 0900 hrs (Two Hour Walk).

    In this tour, we will be tracing Bengaluru’s colonial connections and getting to know how the events that have taken place in our backyard have had far-reaching consequences, on shaping Bengaluru today.

    Learn about the Sahibs (Sir) and the Memsaabs (Ma’am) of the British Raj, by exploring the still traceable remnants of The Raj way of life. Get enthralled by stories of interesting characters that resided in Bangalore, like Winston Churchill and Ronald Ross to name a few.

    Explore all of these through the Churches, the Bungalows, and the Pubs, that make Colonial Bengaluru.

    Later, we explore one of the old neighborhoods of Bengaluru, the age old intellectual centre of the city and spend time where the city’s rich and the famous used to hang out. Get an eyeful of century old structures that still stand beautiful and hear stories of the people who once called it home.

    Taste food meant for the Gods – The true essence of south Indian food, eaten the way old school Bengaluruans still do! Of course, staying true to ‘luru style/Bengaluru style, there has to be options with some interesting twists on old classics as well. A great way to spend your Saturday evening, like a true South Bangalorean!

    Return to the hotel & relax for the evening.

    Overnight at the Hotel (B)

  3. Day 3 Board Golden Chariot Train (Bengaluru to Nanjangud)


    Today check-out from the hotel and drive to Yeshwantpur Railway Station to board the Golden Chariot Glimpses of Karnataka train.

    Arrive at Yeshwantpur Railway Station at around 08:30 AM. Proceed on your sojourn at 09:30 AM after welcome and registration.

    Lunch shall be served on board.

    Proceed for a game drive at Bandipur National Park from Nanjangud Town, approx. 50 km from Bandipur.

    Return to the train for dinner.

    Overnight on the Golden Chariot (B, L, D)

  4. Day 4 Mysore


    After breakfast on-board, proceed to visit the Mysore Palace.

    Return to the train for lunch.

    Visit Srirangapatnam as an Optional excursion.

    Proceed for dinner at a city hotel with cultural activities.

    Return to the train as it proceeds to Hampi.

    Overnight on the Golden Chariot (B, L, D)

  5. Day 5 Hampi


    After breakfast on-board, proceed to visit the capital of Vijayanagara Kingdom – Hampi. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the ruins at Hampi tell a tale of opulence and grandeur of the kingdom.

    Return to the train for lunch.

    Visit Anegundi as an Optional excursion in the afternoon.

    Enjoy an Indian Evening on-board followed by dinner.

    Overnight on the Golden Chariot (B, L, D)

  6. Day 6 Deboard from the Train & Fly Bengaluru to Kochi


    Breakfast shall be served on-board as the train arrives into Yeshwantpur Railway Station at around 11:00 AM.

    After Deboard at Bangalore Yeshwantpur Railway Station, we step into the receiving area where we will be met by our representative and transferred to the Bangalore airport to board the flight for Kochi.

    Depart Bengaluru 16:10 Hrs. Indigo Airlines flight # 6E-602
    Arrive Kochi 17:20 Hrs.  

    Arrive Kochi, step into the receiving area where you will be met by our representative, who will assist you and escort you to your hotel.

    Arrive at your hotel and check-in.

    Overnight at the Hotel (B)

  7. Day 7 Kochi – Punnamada Village, Alleppey (Approx. 41 Miles / 65 Kms. / 2 hours’ drive) & board the Cruise


    Arrive at the coastal village of Alleppey to board RV Vaikundam this afternoon at Punnamada in Alleppey. Punnamada Lake is the venue of the annual Snake boat race which held on 2nd Saturday of August every year. People gather in large numbers to watch nearly 100 ft long boats compete against each other to the tune of old boat songs.

    Our welcoming team on-board will help you with smooth check-in.

    Unwind, as the boat leaves behind the bustling township and cruises gently to the villages interspersed along the tranquil emerald green water world of rivers, lakes, lagoons, canals and coastal estuaries, expanses of paddy fields, swaying tall coconut trees, banana plantations and variety of tropical fruit bearing trees. Enjoy the traditional lunch served on clean banana leaf.

    As you relax on-board you can watch a presentation on Alleppey – the Green Venice of the East, its geographical, cultural and social significances.

    We drop anchor at Kanjippadom, where we will explore the village by a leisurely walk. We will also visit the boat building yard to get to know about the indigenous method of building boat (Kettuvallom) using wooden planks, coir, cotton and natural resin. Return to the boat and dinner on-board.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  8. Day 8 Kanjippadom – Karumadi – Thottappalli


    After breakfast, we set sail to a quaint village Karumadi. The small shrine preserving an ancient ruin of a sculpture of Buddha, speaks of legacy of the value creating Buddhist philosophy underlying the rich cultural heritage of Kerala. Buddhism prevailed in Kerala for around 8centuries, from 3rd AD onwards. On-board our boat we will watch a presentation and discuss in detail about the cultural heritage of Kerala.

    We continue sailing to the calm coastal village, Thottappalli, passing by the spillway which prevents the saline water at river mouth from flooding the low-lying paddy fields. We get to know about indigenous practices of paddy cultivation on reclaimed land at lower altitude than the Sea.

    We will drop anchor at Thottappalli and enjoy a walk to the to see the life along the coast.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  9. Day 9 Thottappalli – Changankari


    Early this morning we can enjoy a leisurely walk in the laid-back village.

    Honouring your cruise with us, we plant a sapling of coconut tree. Coconut tree is revered as the ‘Kalpavriksa’ or the Divine tree of Kerala since all parts of the are useful to earn a livelihood; the coconut water is a healthy drink; the fresh kernel and the oil extract from dried kernel are inevitable components of South Indian cuisine; fibre from the coconut husk is used to make coir, mats and geotextile; the palm fronds are used for thatching roof; the wood suitable for making furniture and all the dried parts of coconut make good firewood. Last, but not the least, the toddy – the boost for the labourers toiling in the fields.

    After breakfast, we take for a short drive (approx. 30 min) to visit an ancient sacred grove where serpents are worshipped, the only temple in Kerala having female priests. We will walk inside to see the rituals going on. The cult of snake worship in Kerala is closely interwoven with the life of the people and is a component of its rich cultural heritage.

    We then continue our drive (approx. 45 minutes) to an ancient village Mannar (45minutes) which is famous for bell metal craft to watch casting of traditional lamps, ornate locks, bells, cauldrons and various types of vessels being used in temples. Fine clay, which is easily available on the bank of the river and rivulets flowing through the region, is being used for the lost-wax method of casting of these bell metal products (The workplace remains closed on Sundays and religious holidays).

    Return to the boat. After lunch, relax on the boat, enjoying the serene rural landscape.

    By evening we take a walk along Thottappalli beach.

    Aboard our boat we will have an informative lecture by professional Ayurveda doctor to know about this 5000-years old Science of life – Ayurveda, which is still being practiced by the local people and across the world. You may give a treat to yourself with an authentic wellness massage by experienced therapists (male or female) will be available on-board.

    We drop our anchors when we reach the remote village, ‘Changankari’.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  10. Day 10 Changankari – Champakkulam – Mankompu


    Excursion to Aranmula

    After early breakfast, we drive to an ancient village, Aranmula, famous for its metal mirrors. The technical know-how behind the making of this unique metal mirror is confined to only some households of master craftsmen in Aranmula. These mirrors have the distinctive feature of 100% reflection unlike the common mirror. These mirrors are unique to this locale and haven’t yet been replicated anywhere else in the world.

    We will then visit the ancient temple of Lord Krishna “Aranmula Sree Parthasarthy Temple”. The story goes that the temple had its idol brought here in a raft made with “Aru (six)” pieces of “Mula (bamboo)”. This is what gave the place Aranmula its name as well. Dedicated to the Hindu Deity Lord Krishna, the temple is situated on the banks of the Pamba River.

    We will have a traditional lunch at a beautiful house of a local family, situated along the bank of Pampa River.

    Post lunch we drive back to board our boat sail to Champakkulam village. Kerala’s old spice trade used to pass through this town enroute to Cochin and other ports on the west coast. Champakkulam settled more than 1000 years ago by Syrian Christian traders, who later converted to Roman Catholicism under the Portuguese. We will visit the St. Mary’s Church, one among the oldest churches in Kerala, the St. Mary’s Church or Champakkulam Church in Alappuzha is believed to be one of the seven established by St. Thomas in AD 427.

    As you stroll along you get the chance to interact with the school children, local small-scale entrepreneurs and the local artisans (open on weekdays) who make biblical heroes. Continue cruising to the remote village –Changankari, passing through the serene canals.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  11. Day 11 Mankompu – Kainakari – Kavalam


    This day after breakfast we cruise to Kainakari. We will take the country boat to cruising through the narrow canals, get closer to the laid-back, yet harmonious, life along the way.

    Stop by Chavara Bhavan, the ancestral home of the Saint Chavara, the first canonized Catholic male saint of Indian origin, the co-founder of the first congregation for men, the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate – C.M.I, and of Congregation of the Mother of Carmel C.M.C. He had dedicated his life for the upliftment of the poorest among the poor. Now this house is preserved as a museum.

    Return to the boat. Have Lunch onboard, while cruising to Kavalam, where the river reverses its course and drain into Lake Vembanad. You may take the ferry to explore the region, walk along the dykes surrounding the expanses of paddy fields and interact with the farmers and the members of the women’s collective-‘Kudumbha shree’.

    As we cruise, along the way we interact with toddy tappers and watch how they collect the sap of coconut palm and make the alcoholic beverage–Toddy! We continue the cruise till dusk, through the remote interiors of Kavalam.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  12. Day 12 Kavalam – Kumarakom


    By early morning, we set out by country boat to explore the migratory and endemic birds of Kumarakom, which is a cluster of lagoons of Vembanad wetland eco-system at the backdrop of mangroves, paddy fields and coconut groves. It is home to Waterfowls, Cuckoos, Owls, Egrets, Herons, Moor hens, Cormorants, Gulls, Terns, Skimmers, Storks, Vultures, Storks, larks, flycatchers, wood beetle, and many more.

    This afternoon, we will visit the house of a Syrian Christian family for a home hosted lunch. This house is located on an island which was made by the men of the house, by reclaiming land from Backwaters. A walk in the farm will be educative. The hostess will demonstrate the preparation of traditional Syrian Christian cuisine. You may also try your hand at cooking and listen to the story of her family, the laborious work of three generations of men and equally strong women who supported their pioneering spirit.

    Return to our boat and cruise to Thanneermukkom.

    The barrage at Thanneermukkom built across Vembanad, the largest lake of Kerala, divides the lake into two; one half with perennial salty water and the other with fresh water enriched by rivers. Relax on the boat, enjoying the soothing breeze and the exuberance of the energy that the majestic lake is spreading around.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  13. Day 13 Kumarakom – Chenganda – Vaikom


    After breakfast we sail to Chenganda village. The people of this rustic village are having a laid-back and peaceful life.

    We visit the village spending time with the coir weavers, the shell harvesters and farmers, engaging in conversation with them about the riparian life, and watching various indigenous techniques of fishing. Coir, one of the major exports of Kerala, is of much relevance today than ever before when plastic has become a global menace. People of Chenganda are major suppliers of this cottage industry.

    We drop the anchor at the ancient village, Vaikom. We visit a cultural centre to watch Kathakali, the traditional dramatic and mimetic dance form, which plays stories from epics. It is a unique blend of dance, music, action, literature and make-up.

    Experience a short tuk-tuk ride to the ancient temple of Shiva. The architecture of temples in Kerala is based on ancient science of construction and geographical features of the land. As per the traditional architecture, each element of temple represents an element of human body and, a temple is not only the space for spiritual enlightenment but also the venue for harmonious social networking.

    Return to boat where we celebrate our sojourn over farewell dinner.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  14. Day 14 Vaikom – Pallippuram – Kochi (Approx. 34 Miles / 54 Kms. / 1 ½ hours’ drive)


    The filial church of St. Thomas – 2nd AD

    We disembark at the ancient village ‘Pallippuram’, at the border of Kochi City.

    The 7 Nights’ cruise concludes after watching the traditional Martial art (Kalarippayattu) at the nearby village. By road we visit a Kalari – the traditional training centre for authentic Martial art (Kalarippayattu). Kalarippayattu in Kerala has its origin from the ancient Indian scripture, Dhanur Veda. This training helps to understand the 107 energy points in human body, learn the practices to maintain the normal flow of the energy and to heal ailments by Marma therapy.

    These exercises help to gain stamina, flexibility, calibrated functioning of body and mind, and quick reflexes required for self-protection. The south-west corner of a Kalari houses the guardian deity of the Kalari. The seven tiers symbolise the seven abilities that each person must possess: Strength, Patience, Power to command, the posture, the expression and the Sound. Flowers, incense and water are offered to the deity every day. Before starting the day’s practice, it is the norm for practitioners to pray to the deity. There is also a Guruthara inside all Kalari, where a lamp is kept burning in reverence to all the gurus (masters) of the Kalari.

    After watching the performance, you will be transferred to the hotel in the Kochi.

    Arrive Kochi and check-in to the hotel. Thereafter, enjoy a guided tour of Fort Kochi.

    Explore the Fort Kochi, where the Portuguese flag was first hoisted, which is believed to be the oldest settlement in India. At each and every nook of this island steeped in history, there is something amusing awaiting you. It is a world of its own, retaining the specimens of a bygone era and still proud of those days.

    Visit St. Francis Church, 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.

    Pay a visit to the picturesque Chinese fishing nets unique to Kochi. These iconic land-based nets combine elegance and ingenuity with their massive frames balanced by counterweights manipulated by teams of up to six men. Long believed to have been introduced by the Chinese explorer Zheng He in the 14th century or possibly travellers from Kublai Khan’s court, these nets actually trace their origin to Portuguese settlers from Macau.

    Proceed to visit the Jewish Synagogue. It was built in 1568 and was considerably embellished in the mid-18th century by Ezekiel Rahabi, who built a clock tower and paved the floor of the synagogue with hand- painted tiles brought all the way from Canton in China. It is magnificently decorated by Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. It is the oldest synagogue in all the Commonwealth of Nations. (Closed to non-Jews Friday afternoon and Saturday and Jewish Holidays).

    Later visit the Jew town of Mattancherry, the epicenter of the spice trade for centuries and the bustling part of Old Fort Kochi. It remains a densely populated place housing people from different ethnic groups and faiths in very close quarters. Mattancherry is home to a small Jewish community whose origin dates back nearly 2000 years, during the period of King Solomon, when large scale trade took place between the Middle East and the Malabar Coast. Our touring today reveals Kochi’s multi-layered past, a rich brew of Arab, Portuguese, British, and Dutch influences.

    Explore The Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace), originally built by the Portuguese and modified by the Dutch in 17th centuary and mpresented to the Raja of Kochi. Coronation of many Rajas of Kochi was held here. The palace has a fine collection of mythological mural painting and has traditional Keralite flooring. (Closed on Friday).

    In evening, watch Kathakali, the traditional art form, at local cultural centre.

    Overnight at hotel (B)

  15. Day 15 Fly Kochi & Departure


    Today on time, check-out from the hotel and drive to Kochi International airport to board the flight for your onwards destination.


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