Mythical Hampi & Serenity of Kerala Backwater Cruise

Introduction

Far Horizon offers you the experience of the south of India which is very different to the north. It is a land of tea, coffee and spice plantations. Lush green hills, which in places rise to over 2,500m/8,200ft, lead down through wildlife rich reserves to alluring waterways and coconut-fringed beaches. During your stay here you will walk in a plantation as well as cruise along the beautiful backwater lagoons of Kerala on a Luxury riverboat. This is a relaxed but varied trip with lots of off-the-beaten-track places to see, some beautiful gentle walks, lovely accommodation, delicious food and friendly people – perfect!

Tour Highlights

  • Explore the Serenity of Kerala backwaters while cruising on the Kerala River Cruise
  • Experience Kathakali Dance, Martial Arts and Bronze Art work of Multicultural city “Cochin”
  • Explore the city of Nizams “Hyderabad”
  • Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Hampi
  • Cooking demonstration and home hosted meal
  • Village visits and interaction with the local people

Destinations Covered

Detailed Itinerary

  1. Day 1 Arrive Hyderabad

    Hyderabad

    After clearing Customs and Immigration, step into the receiving area, where our representative will meet you and escort you to the hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel (No Meals)

  2. Day 2 Hyderabad

    Hyderabad

    Today we start our exploration from the landmark of Hyderabad City- “Charminar”. The majestic structure was completed in 1591 CE and is not only a landmark building of Hyderabad but also a famous monument of India. Historians believe that this structure is an example for Indo-Islamic architecture combined with few Persian elements. The monument is located in the heart of old city and it is believed that Hyderabad was measured in four directions from Charminar for administrative purposes.

    The historic Mecca Masjid is located adjacent to Charminar in a south-west direction. The construction of this mosque started in the year 1614 by Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah and was completed by Aurangzeb in 1693. Built with local granite, it finds its place among the largest mosques in India and is the most important and largest one in the city.

    From here we proceed to visit Golconda fort located in the western part of Hyderabad. Golconda is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent fortress complexes in India. The history of Golconda Fort goes back to the early 13th century, when it was ruled by the Kakatiya’s followed by Qutub Shahi kings, who ruled the region in 16th and 17th century. The fortress rests on a granite hill 120 meters high while huge crenelated ramparts surround this structure. At Fateh Darwaza one can witness fantastic acoustical effects, which is one among the many famous engineering marvels at Golconda. Clapping your hand at a certain point near the dome entrance reverberates which is heard clearly at the hill top pavilion, almost one kilometer away. This served as a warning note to the inhabitants of the fort of any impending danger, Of course it now amuses visitors. The fort gains an impressive place among the architectural marvels and heritage structures of India and is a testimony to Hyderabad’s glorious past.

    Situated on the southern banks of Musi River, the Salarjung Museum (Closed on Friday) has a unique distinction as the third largest museum in India and has a worldwide fame for its biggest one-man collections of antiques. It is widely known in India for its prized collections dating back to different civilizations. Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III, the former Prime Minister of the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad, spent most of his income over a period of thirty-five years to gather such priceless collections, which according to historians was his intense passion. It also houses the world famous statue of Veiled Rebecca and Marguerite and Mephistopheles, a fine collection of jade, daggers owned by Queen Noor Jahan, Emperors Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb’s sword and other timeless masterpieces.

    Overnight at the hotel (B)

  3. Day 3 Hyderabad - Hampi

    Hampi

    Hyderabad to Vidyanagar by flight

    Vidyanagar to Hampi by road: Approx. 29 Km / 18 Miles / 50 Mins.

    After breakfast, check-out from the hotel and transfer to airport to board your flight to Vidyanagar.

    Arrive Vidyanagar and drive to Hampi. On arrival in Hampi, check-in to your hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel (B, D)

  4. Day 4 Hampi

    Hampi

    This morning, explore Hampi. The discovery of stone artefacts, pottery shards and rock paintings indicate that Hampi has been inhabited since pre-historic times. Hampi has challenged time, survived the centuries and lived to tell the tale.

    Someone rightly said “If dreams were made out of stone, it would be Hampi

    Vittala Temple Complex - The most splendid monument of Hampi is undoubtedly the Vittala Temple Complex with its 56 musical pillars. Here see the famous Stone Chariot with stone wheels that revolve. In front of the shrine stands the great mantapa. Resting on a richly sculpted basement, its roof is supported by huge pillars of granite, each consisting of a central pillar surrounded by detached shafts, all cut from one single block of stone.

    The Virupaksha Temple rises majestically at the western end of the famous Hampi Bazaar. The temple has a 120 feet tall tower on its eastern entrance. The temple contains the shrines of Shiva, Pampa and Bhuvaneswari. Parts of this temple are older than the Vijayanagar kingdom itself. The work of this style dates back to the 11th or 12th century.

    Hazara Ramaswami temple is believed to have been the private place of worship of the royal family. The chief attraction of the temple is the series of scenes from the Ramayana carved on two of the inside walls of the mantapa. The genesis of the place known today as Hampi dates back to the age of the Hindu epic Ramayana when it was the site of Kishkinda, a monkey kingdom.

    Later visit the Achyutaraya Temple and walk through the bazaars of Sule and Hampi.

    Return to the hotel by evening.

    Overnight at the hotel (B, D)

  5. Day 5 Hampi - Cochin

    Kochi

    Drive Hampi to Vidyanagar & fly to Cochin via Bangalore

    After breakfast, check -out from hotel and drive to Vidyanagar airport to board your flight to Bangalore.

    On arrival in Bangalore connect with the flight to Cochin.

    On arrival at Cochin, check-in to the hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel (B)

  6. Day 6 Cochin

    Kochi

    We take a tour of Mattancherry, the bustling part of Old Fort Cochin and the epicenter of the spice trade for centuries. 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.

    We begin with the Dutch Palace, actually built by the Portuguese as a gift for the Raja of Kochi in 1555. The Dutch renovated and expanded it a century later, earning it its name. The palace also contains some of India’s finest mythological murals; the walls depict scenes from the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (Dutch Palace remains closed on Fridays and Saturdays)

    Then we see St. Francis, India’s first European church (ca. 1510), famed as the original burial site of Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama, who died in Kochi in 1524 while on his third visit to India. Not immune to the turbulence of the colonial era, the originally Catholic St. Francis church changed hands – and denominations – with each new power that took control of Kochi, becoming a Protestant Dutch Reformed church under the Dutch in 1663 then Anglican under the English in 1804.

    Next we 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 travelers from Kublai Khan’s court, these nets actually trace their origin to Portuguese settlers from Macau.

    Lunch and dinner on own

    Overnight at the hotel (B)

  7. Day 7 Cochin / R.V.Vaikundham

    Kochi

    This morning post breakfast drive to the nearby village Nettoor to a Kalari centre – the authentic training centre of Kalaripayattu, the traditional martial art of Kerala said to have been the origin of all martial arts including Karate.

    Drive to the nearby village Marad and embark on the Kerala backwater cruise by noon. The team on-board welcomes you to the cruise and helps you with smooth check-in. Gather at the lounge for a safety briefing about the cruise. We set sail, gently cruising by the islands interspersed along rivers, lake, coastal estuaries and lagoons, leaving the skyscraper lined horizon of the city of Cochin behind. Enjoy a traditional Kerala lunch and relax on-board.

    Our expert will talk about Cochin, the Queen of the Arabian Sea, and its geographical, cultural and social significance.

    By evening we arrive at the ancient village, Vaikom. By tuk-tuk (auto-rickshaw) or by foot we proceed to the ancient temple of Shiva. We take a tour around the temple to get to know about its history and architecture. 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 the cruise. Post dinner, we retire for the night.

    Overnight on-board RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  8. Day 8 Vaikom-Chenganda-Kumarakom

    Kumarakom

    After breakfast on the boat,by tuk-tuk or by foot we proceed to the cultural centre in the locality to watch the traditional dance performance – 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.

    Commence on the cruise towards Chenganda village. The people of this rustic village live a laid-back and peaceful life. Spend time with the coir weavers, the shell harvesters and farmers, engaging in conversation about the riparian life and watching various indigenous techniques of fishing.

    Return to the boat for lunch.

    Cruise through Thanneermukkom barrage. 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 5 rivers flowing from the hills. We talk about indigenous practices of paddy cultivation in Kuttanad.

    Cruise through the expanses of Lake Vembanad experiencing its wetland ecosystem. We visit a farm house by evening.This house is located on an island which was made by the men of the house, by reclaiming land from the 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, of three generations of hard working men, and equally strong women who supported their pioneering spirit. We will have dinner at thier home.

    Return to the boat and retire for the night.

    Overnight on-board RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  9. Day 9 Kumarakom - Kavalam

    Kavalam

    Post an early and light breakfast, we set out by country boat to watch the migratory and endemic birds of the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, which is a cluster of lagoons of Lake Vembanad, with the backdrop of mangroves, paddy fields and coconut groves.

    Waterfowl, cuckoo, owl, egret, heron and the water duck are some of the endemic species seen here. Parrots, teal, larks, flycatchers, wood beetle, and other birds are seen here during their respective migratory seasons.

    Return to the boat, refresh and while cruising a more elaborate breakfast will be served.

    While cruising the lake we get a glimpse of the rich wetland ecosystem of Lake Vembanad.

    Lunch will be served while cruising.

    We arrive at Kavalam where river Pampa reverses its course and drains 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 women.

    Return to the boat and cruise till dusk, further interior to Veliyanad village. Post dinner retire for the night.

    Overnight on-board RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  10. Day 10 Kavalam-Kainakari-Pulinkunnu

    Kavalam

    Post breakfast cruise to Kainakari. We visit Chavara Bhavan, the ancestral home of the Catholic Saint Kuriakose Chavara which is now preserved as a museum. Saint Chavara, the first canonized Catholic male saint of Indian origin, was the co-founder of the first congregation for men, the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate-C.M.I., and of a similar one for women, Congregation of the Mother of Carmel-C.M.C.

    Return to the cruise. After having lunch on-board, cruise to Pulinkunnu village. Get closer to the laid-back, yet harmonious, life along the way, paddling along narrow canal by country boat, interacting with the villagers.

    Return to the boat for dinner and retire for the night.

    Overnight on-board RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  11. Day 11 Pulinkunnu-Nedumudy-Champakkulam-Changankari

    Kavalam

    Post breakfast, cruise to Nedumudi.

    On arrival at Nedumudi we drive through the quaint and scenic villages for a little over one hour to Mannar, which is famous for bell metal and brassware crafts. We interact with the artisans and watch the indigenous method of casting of traditional lamps, utensils and ornate locks.

    Return, refresh, have lunch and relax on-board.

    We cruise to Champakulam village. Kerala’s old spice trade used to pass through this town en route Cochin and other ports on the west coast. Settled more than 1000 years ago by Syrian Christian traders, who later converted to Roman Catholicism under the Portuguese, the people chose to keep their syncretic cultural heritage.

    This can be seen in the monumental St Mary’s Church on the riverside. Built in 1550, the foundations are said to be as old as 5th century AD. Architecturally, it is a mélange of several European styles, from the Levantine altar and structure to the Dutch arches that tower overhead.

    We visit the old church, a school, the local artisans (open on weekdays) who skilfully and passionately craft biblical heroes. Take a look at the narrow and long Snake boat (Chundan Vallom) of the villagers, gracefully docked on the shore. These types of boats, which are being used for races today in modern days, were once maritime war boats and their structure and design reflect the prowess of ancient Kerala architecture and are one of the icons of Kerala culture. Over one hundred oarsmen power these boats in races where they sail at speed generated to the beats of drums at the aft.

    Cruise to Changankary village till dusk, passing through the serene canals. You may relax on board or take a walk.

    Post dinner retire for the night.

    Overnight on-board RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  12. Day 12 Excursion from Changankari

    Alappuzha

    After an early breakfast, we drive to the prosperous and picturesque midland to Konni village (You may have to wait near a railway crossing if the train is delayed), at the backdrop of the forest. Spend time with elephants at a shelter camp. Elephants are integral part of Kerala culture. It is the State animal and is featured on the State’s emblem. Pageant of gold caparisoned elephants accompanied with percussions is the highlight of all temple festivals in Kerala.

    Proceed to Aranmula village which is home to a family of craftsmen who are skilled at making mirror out of a special combination of metals. The secret of the trade has been passed down through generations. These mirrors have the distinctive feature of 100% reflection unlike the common mirror. Local people consider it as auspicious to keep it at home to attract prosperity and luck.

    We visit the mirror makers and watch the different methods of their work.

    The ancient temple of Krishna, snake-boat building, the mural art and the school of traditional architecture are the other highlights of this old village of heritage value.

    Lunch will be arranged at a local house of beautiful architecture, located on the banks of Pampa, the holy river for the locals. The host will talk about the art of snake-boat building and the ritualistic annual regatta in Aranmula.

    Arrive at Thottappalli village by evening.

    Post refreshment, cruise through the picturesque and serene interiors. You may take a leisurely walk to the beach.

    Later return to the boat. Post dinner retire for the night.

    Overnight on-board RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  13. Day 13 Thottappalli-Karumadi-Kanjippadom

    Alappuzha

    Today poat an early breakfast, take a short drive to visit an ancient sacred grove near Harripad where serpents are worshipped. This is the only temple in Kerala having female priests. You can take walk inside and see the rituals going on.

    Return to Thottappalli.

    In the honour of your cruising with us, we plant a coconut sapling for the village. Coconut tree is considered as the ‘Kalpavriksha ‘or Divine tree of Kerala. All parts of coconut tree are useful in one way or the other: the water inside is a healthy drink; the fresh kernel and the oil extract from dried kernel are inevitable components of every cuisine; fiber 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 local alcoholic beverage which serves as a boost for the laborers after toiling in the fields.

    After a leisurely sail we arrive in a quaint village – Karumadi village. We take a walk around a small shrine preserving the ruin of a sculpture of Buddha that belongs to the early centuries of current era. Along the way we interact with toddy tappers, who collect the sap of the stem of blossoming coconut flower and make the alcoholic beverage–Toddy. We learn from them the process of making toddy and may take a sip from the pot!

    We visit the village Kanjippadom for a leisurely walk where we meet the carpenters at the boat building yard and talk about the traditional method of building wooden boats (Kettuvallom), joining wooden planks using coir, cotton and natural resin.

    Tonight we celebrate our sojourn over Farewell Dinner on-board RV Vaikundam.

    Overnight on-board RV Vaikundam (B)

  14. Day 14 Kanjippadom-Punnamada / Disembark at Alleppey / Departure

    Alappuzha

    Post breakfast we cruise to Punnamada Lake. This lake is the venue of the annual spectacular race of Snake boats of different villages of Alleppey and its neighbouring places on 2nd Saturday in the month of August.

    We disembark by 9.30 AM.

    Post taking a walk through the markets of Alleppey, transfer to Cochin airport to connect with flight to onward destination.

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