Splendors of South India

Introduction

Within India, South India is known for its unique and distinct cultural heritage, fascinating historical monuments, Ayurveda, Eco-tourism and much more to be mentioned. Far Horizon takes you on a special journey, where you will experience the living cultures of 3 Southern splendors of India, Karnataka, Telangana and Kerala. The tour starts with the architectural richness of Hyderabad along with the garden city of Bangalore and finally the journey comes to a close at the‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’- Kochi, showcasing the exotic locales of each state. In addition to this, the beautiful town of Hampi referred as a fantasy world of rocks and ruins, the finest wildlife preserves of the Nagarhole National Park, Coorg with its 300 bird species and the city of palaces, Mysore are some of the special elements of the tour. In short, it’s an experience that captures the romance of a by-gone era making your sojourn an unforgettable one.

Tour Highlights

  • Explore the city of Nizams "Hyderabad"
  • Explore the 14th Century Vijayanagara Empire "Hampi"
  • Safaris in the Nagarhole National Park
  • Taste the perfect cup of Coffee at Coorg
  • Royal City Mysore
  • Cruising on the Kerala Backwaters
  • Explore Cochin known as the "Queen of Arabian Sea"

Destinations Covered

Detailed Itinerary

  1. Day 1 Arrive Hyderabad

    Hyderabad

    After clearing immigration & customers our representative will meet you at the receiving area and will escort you to your hotel.

    Overnight at the Taj Falaknuma Palace

  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 Aurangzeb completed in 1693. Built with local granite, it finds place among 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 most magnificent fortress complexes in India. The history of Golconda Fort goes back to 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, Ofcourse 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 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 Taj Falaknuma Palace (B)

  3. Day 3 Hyderabad - Hampi

    Hampi

    After breakfast, we leave for the airport to connect with flight to Hampi. This short flight will take you back in time to the glorious days of the 14th century Vijayanagara Empire. Let the stone monuments at Hampi tell you the story of what was once described as “the best provided city in the world”.

    On arrival, transfer to the hotel

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

    Overnight at the Evolve Back Kamlapura Palace (B, L, 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.

    Vithala Temple Complex - The most splendid monument of Hampi is undoubtedly the Vithala 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 Hampi.

    Overnight at the Evolve Back Kamlapura Palace (B, L, D)

  5. Day 5 Hampi - Bangalore

    Bangalore

    After relaxed breakfast, check-out from the hotel and transfer to Vidyanagar airport to connect with flight to Bangalore.

    On arrival, check-in to the hotel.

    Every city has the North-South divide, South Mumbai, South Delhi, South Boston, South London. This is deep dive to find out the story behind the South Bangalore. Today we explore one of the old neighbourhoods of Bangalore, the age old intellectual center of the city and spend time where city’s rich and 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.

    Overnight at the Oberoi Bangalore (B)

  6. Day 6 Bangalore - Mysore - Nagarhole

    Nagarhole

    Bangalore - Mysore Train (Shatabdi 1100/1300 hrs.) & drive to Nagarhole (approx. 2 hour drive).

    After breakfast, transfer to Bangalore railway station to board the train to Mysore. Trains in India are the most widely used transport by the locale people to commute between the cities. Experience one of the busiest rail networks in the world transporting over 8 billion passengers annually.

    On arrival at Mysore, lunch at the local restaurant before leaving for Nagarhole National Park, established in 1955, whose abundant wildlife, including leopard, Indian bison, wild dog, deer, antelope, hyena, and more make it one of India’s finest preserves. In the summer months, this park also hosts the world’s greatest concentration of Asian elephants, estimated at 8,000–14,000, who migrate here to feast on riverbed pastures.

    Arrive Nagarhole and check-in to the hotel.

    Every alternate evening, a troupe of Kuruba tribal dancers performs their traditional dance around a campfire, to the accompaniment of two wooden drums and one wind instrument. This dance is traditionally performed during festivals & times of strife and is an invitation to their gods to join them and bless the occasion.

    Overnight at the Evolve Back Kabini (B, L, D)

  7. Day 7 Nagarhole

    Nagarhole

    This morning we take a safari in an open-air 4-wheel-drive vehicle through Nagarhole in search of wildlife. After our excursion, we return to the lodge for breakfast.

    Free time to relax and enjoy the facilities at the resort.

    Post lunch, set out on a boat safari that takes in some of Nagarhole’s 247 square miles. If we are fortunate, we may spot the critically endangered Oriental white-backed vulture, or some of the other threatened bird species that find shelter in Nagarhole. We dine at our lodge tonight.

    Overnight at the Evolve Back Kabini (B, L, D)

  8. Day 8 Nagarhole – Coorg

    Coorg

    Those who are interested can join for the Nature walk with the in-house naturalist of the resort. A guided Nature Walk is one of the best ways to explore the treasures of nature. A Naturalist would unravel the beauty of birds, insects, trees and wild flowers. The walk would take you along the banks of the Kabini river and then through the scrub and fields along the village roads.

    After breakfast, we drive roughly three hours to Coorg (also known as Kodagu) and our excellent accommodations at the Evolve Back Resort. Set on a 300-acre working coffee and spice plantation, the resort has a dramatic backdrop of virgin forest and the Kaveri River. We enjoy lunch here, then take a walking tour of the plantation and learn about the coffee grown on it, the difference between an Arabica and a Robusta bean, and the special, time-honored “monsooning” process applied to the beans harvested here.

    This evening, a private dinner set up lay down in the front of 160 year old Ramapuram Bungalow of the Chairman of Evolve Back Resorts.

    Enjoy a cultural dance performance before the dinner.

    Overnight at the Evolve Back Coorg (B, L, D)

  9. Day 9 Coorg

    Coorg

    Coorg is sometimes known as the “Scotland of India,” those who are interested can join on an early morning birdwatching walk to see some of the 300 species – 25% of all India’s bird species – found here. We return to the resort for breakfast.

    We encounter everyday life here up close this morning as we wander the narrow lanes of a nearby village. Here we see a traditional coffee pour, then experience the round “coracle” boats used by local fishermen; we ride comfortably and close to water level as our boatsmen expertly 2maneuver these unique vessels. Back at our lodgings, we enjoy lunch then have some time to explore the extensive grounds, relax at the coffee lounge, enjoy the library or spa, or join the hotel staff on a walk to discover more of Coorg’s unique geography and culture.

    Overnight at the Evolve Back Coorg (B, L, D)

  10. Day 10 Coorg – Mysore

    Mysore

    After breakfast, check-out from the resort and drive to Bylakuppe Tibatan settlement. It was started in 1960 and is the second largest settlement (after Dharamshala) of the exiled Tibetan diaspora on Indian soil. One gets the feeling of entering the gates of some far eastern oriental wonderland. The road meanders through undulating well-kept fields that rise and fall with the geography of the land here. Prayer flags fluttering from tree tops and fences remind you that you are indeed amongst a different people and a unique culture.

    After the visit, continue drive to Mysore and check-in to the hotel on arrival.

    The best way to take in a city, is to experience its true essence. From food, produce, people, colours, language, loose yourself in the day to day life of a local. What better way to get all of this under one roof, than to explore its markets. In Mysore over 125 year old Devraja market is truly special. With its vibrant colours, arrays of smells and multitude of people, this place never disappoints. With more than 700 stalls and dedicated lines, it’s always bustling with energy.

    Overnight at the Hotel Radisson Blu (B, L)

  11. Day 11 Mysore

    Mysore

    This morning, we visit the Chamundi Hills, site of the 12th-century Chamundeshwari Temple with its 1,008 ancient steps leading to the summit. The highlight of this lofty temple is the statue of Nandi, the enormous bull used as a mount by Hindu god Shiva, which sits on the 800th step of the temple. The ornately carved granite bull presides over the temple’s visitors; at over 15 feet high and 24 feet long, it dwarfs the iconic Charging Bull statue in New York’s Financial District.

    Our next stop brings more magnificent architecture, as we visit the Palace of Mysore, the Indo-Saracenic blend of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic styles that remains the home of the Maharajahs of Mysore and counts among India’s most popular attractions. The palace before us, among India’s most grand, and the fourth to stand on this site, replaced the last which fire destroyed in 1897. An exquisite opulence greets us within through a dazzling array of carvings, chandeliers, mosaics, stained glass, paintings, and frescoes. From these two overwhelming structures, we move to a humbler stop: a visit to a local workshop to learn how the local sandalwood incense is made by hand. We have the afternoon free for exploration and lunch on our own. Options include wandering the local markets to find Mysore’s renowned silk saris and ties, spices, and sandalwood crafts.

    Overnight at the Hotel Radisson Blu (B)

  12. Day 12 Mysore - Bangalore - Cochin

    Kochi

    After breakfast, leave for Bangalore airport. Along the way, we visit the river island town of Srirangapatna, with its celebrated 9th-century Hindu Ranganatha Temple. The Indian ruler Tipu Sultan made his capital here and opposed the English East India Company forces in four wars until he fell in a siege in 1799; the temple and the island as a whole has become an important pilgrimage site.

    Lunch at local restaurant.

    Arrive Bangalore airport and connect with flight to Cochin.

    On arrival, check-in to the hotel.

    Overnight at the Brunton Boatyard (B, L)

  13. Day 13 Cochin

    Kochi

    We have a walking 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 (please note: the Dutch Palace closes 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 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, 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.

    In the evening, we attend a performance of Kathakali dance, where facial expressions and hand gestures combine with movement to create this highly expressive traditional Kerala art form which depicts great Indian epics. Distinct among the six classical Indian dances, Kathakali is a highly dramatic and mimetic dance depicting various stories from Indian epics. It originated in Kerala during the 17th century and has developed over the years with improved looks, refined gestures and added themes besides more ornate singing and precise drumming.

    Overnight at the Brunton Boatyard (B)

  14. Day 14 Cochin - Backwaters

    Alappuzha

    Today you will be driven approximately 3 hours along the Kerala coast to the docks at Thothapally in the Alleppey district to board your houseboat. 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’s the reason; this heaven is called “GOD ‘S OWN COUNTRY!!”

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  15. Day 15 Backwaters

    Alappuzha

    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.

    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.

    Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

  16. Day 16 Cochin & Departure

    Kochi

    After breakfast disembark the Kerala cruise and drive to Cochin airport to connect with flight to onward destination.

    (B)

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