A Sacred Trail with Kerala Backwaters



  • Visit Meenakshi Temple
  • Tour of Madurai City
  • Explore Kanyakumari (boat ride to visit Vivekanand Memorial)
  • Visit Padmanabha Temple, Trivandrum
  • 2 Nights Stay on the traditionally built Kerala boat with all meals
  • Explore the Kerala Backwaters
  • Tour of Fort Cochin

Destinations Covered

Detailed Itinerary

  1. Day 1 Arrive Madurai


    Arrive Madurai and drive to your hotel.

    Check-in to the hotel.

    Madurai: Known as a Temple town, renowned for the phenomenal Meenakshi Sundareshvara Temple. Once the Meenakshi Temple was built, Madurai became the cultural center of the Tamil people. It was the seat of the Pandya Empire (7th – 13th Centuries), and then the short-lived capital of an Islamic sultanate in the 14th Century. After 1364, Madurai became a part of the Vijayanagara Empire. By the middle of the 16th Century the local Hindu governors, the Nayakas, asserted their independence and the city became an independent kingdom until the arrival of the British.

    Evening at leisure to explore the city on own or relax at hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel (No Meals)

  2. Day 2 Madurai


    We will start the visit of Thirumalai Nayak Palace, built in the 17th Century and partially restored by the British in the 19th Century. The Palace is built on a grand scale, with towering pillars and a large courtyard, where the ruler Thirumalai Nayaka received his audience in bygone days.

    Thereafter, explore one of the most important temples in the South, the awe-inspiring Meenakshi Temple, whose complex occupies an area of six hectares. The Meenakshi temple of Madurai is estimated to receive 10,000 pilgrims every day. A riotously baroque example of Dravidian architecture with twelve gopuras (towers), ranging in height from 130 to 165 feet, the towers are covered from top to bottom in a breathtaking profusion of multicolored images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures. Legend has it that the temple was founded by Indra (King of Gods) himself. Every point in the temple has a legend attached to it.

    While exploring the temple, visit the “Hall of a Thousand Pillars,” with its fascinating study of “human expression” carved on the pillars, the walls and the ceiling. Just outside you will find the “musical pillars,” each emitting a different musical note when struck. Explore the Kambatti Mundapum (yet another hall) containing pillars sculptured with various manifestations of Lord Shiva. The Meenakshi Temple is arguably the preeminent example of South Indian temple architecture, and is also one of India’s most important places of pilgrimage.

    Return to the hotel.

    Later in the evening, we drive to the Meenakshi temple in time for the evening Aarti, a ceremony at the great Meenakshi temple where the Lord Shiva is reunited with his wife Meenakshi for the night.

    Overnight at the hotel (B)

  3. Day 3 Madurai - Kanyakumari (Approx. 254 Kms / 5 hours’ drive)


    After breakfast, check-out from the hotel and drive to Kanyakumari.

    Arrive and check-in to the hotel.

    After check-in, proceed for visit to Kanyakumari. Take the ferry (Boat Ride) to visit the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, as its name implies, it is essentially a sacred monument, built by the Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee to commemorate the visit of Swamy Vivekananda to “Shripada Parai” during 24th, 25th and 26th December 1892 for deep meditation and enlightenment. From very ancient times, the rock has been regarded as sacred place. In Puranic tradition, it has been known as “Sripada Parai: meaning the rock, that has been blessed by the touch of Shripada feet of the Goddess.

    Overnight at the hotel (B)

  4. Day 4 Kanyakumari - Trivandrum - Backwaters (Approx. 250 Kms / 5 - 1/2 hours’ drive)


    After breakfast, check-out and drive to Kerala backwaters.

    En-route, we stop at Trivandrum for the brief visit from outside of the Padmanabhaswamy temple (Non Hindus are not allowed to enter inside the temple). The Temple has nine entrances, indicating the nine orifices of the human body. The Temple has a seven storeyed gopuram built on the eastern entrance. It is a fine example of South Indian architecture an exclusively in Dravidian style.

    Thereafter, we will continue our drive along the Kerala coast to the docks at Thothapally in the Alleppey district to board our River Vessel.

    An environmentally-friendly vessel unique to Kerala’s placid waterways. Prior to their conversion to passenger boats with all the modern comforts, these traditional craft known as kettuvallom once plied these waters as rice barges. Coir (coconut fiber rope) and resin from cashew kernels, not nails, hold the kettuvallom together - a shipmaking practice passed down through the centuries.

    The uniqueness of Kerala has always been its Backwaters, and no place in the world is blessed with this mesmerizing beauty. It is for this reason this heaven is called “GOD’ S OWN COUNTRY!!”

    Lunch and Dinner on-board.

    Overnight on-board River Cruise (B, L, D)

  5. Day 5 Backwaters

    Backwaters of Kerala

    Today, we see Indian life up close as we slowly cruise along the palm-fringed backwater canals of the Arabian Sea, a distinctive region whose beauty and tranquility have earned it the sobriquet “God’s own country.” A vast network of lagoons, lakes, and canals formed by the confluence of Kerala’s numerous rivers and the Arabian Sea, the Kerala backwaters run alongside the coast for more than 550 miles. These labyrinthine waterways have served as a thoroughfare for boats like ours from ancient times, and the daily existence in the communities here has changed little over the centuries.

    Along the way we go ashore to visit some of the local villages and farms, observing traditional livelihoods such as coir making, boat building, fish farming and rice growing.

    We also see churches in a land synonymous with the very beginnings of Christianity: Saint Thomas the Apostle was said to have made a missionary visit to Kerala in 52 AD; to this day Kerala has a significant Christian minority.

    On this comfortable floating home you may spend your day relaxing and unwinding. As you slowly cruise along the backwater canals of the Arabian Sea, you may choose to stop and explore some of the many small villages, farmlands, old temples and churches that you come across.

    Lunch and Dinner on-board.

    Overnight on-board River Cruise (B, L, D)

  6. Day 6 Backwaters – Kochi (Approx. 95 kms / 2 ½ hours’ drive)


    Today we will drive towards Kochi. Arrive and check in to the hotel.

    Kochi is the last port of Vasco Da Gama, where you will find synagogues, mosques, churches and temples side by side, is a place with a fascinating history. It is a vibrant city situated on the southwest coast of the Indian peninsula in the breathtakingly scenic and prosperous state of Kerala, hailed as 'God's Own Country'. Heralded as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Kochi was an important spice trading center on the Arabian Sea coast from the 14th century.

    After check-in, start the day with exploring the Fort Kochi.

    A charming seaside area, Fort Kochi is known for its Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonial architecture, and elaborate bamboo fishing nets at Fort Kochi Beach. St. Francis Church was the original burial site of explorer Vasco da Gama. Upscale eateries and chic cafes serve Keralan specialties, and quaint shops sell cotton clothing and handmade souvenirs. Heritage buildings house contemporary art galleries.

    Visit the old commercial area of Mattancherry.

    We will visit a local slave shrine - where Kochiites come and pray irrespective of caste, creed and religion. We will also visit a spice godown and understand the role of the Spice trade in Kochi's multiculturalism.

    Later proceed to visit the Dutch Palace (Closed on Friday), 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.

    Visit the St. Francis Church, built in 1510 by friars brought to India by Vasco da Gama. The gorgeous view of the ocean from the beach is enhanced by the Chinese fishing nets, first erected between 1350 and 1450 AD makes an extremely picturesque sight.

    Overnight at the hotel (B)

  7. Day 7 Kochi & Departure


    (Hotel Check-out time is 12:00 Noon)

    Breakfast at the hotel.

    Later check-out from the hotel and drive to your onward journey.



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