What this tour is about: There’s more to Kerala than houseboats and beaches! Come on this immersive journey with us; to explore the many delights of Kerala – the cuisine, arts, crafts, stunning landscapes and above all, the unique community initiatives that make Kerala special.
In Cochin we will walk through the quaint lanes of Fort Kochi and Mattanchery, taking in the confluence of Dutch, Portuguese, British and Jewish influences that make the city unique. We will also go on an excursion to see Pokkali, a unique community-based initiative to preserve a traditional saline-tolerant strain of rice. In a stunning backwater setting, this tour gives an opportunity to understand one of the oldest known crops cultivated through a symbiotic farming tradition. We will go on a canoe ride, interact with farmers who sustain the tradition against many constraints, and have a meal cooked by one of the women of the village.
The Muziris Heritage Area
Muziris is the name of an ancient port city on the Kerala coast, an hour’s drive north of Cochin. The city traded in spices, silk, and precious stones; with exports to Rome, Greece, Egypt, etc. Enriched by trade contacts, Muziris became a melting pot of world cultures. The earliest Jewish settlers in India landed on the Malabar Coast and flourished in Muziris; we will see their beautiful synagogues. Muziris is where St.Thomas the Apostle is said to have first landed in 52AD, bringing Christianity to India. Some of the old churches are still in active use. The first ever mosque in India was also built here.
North of the Muziris area is the ancient river civilization of Nila, known for its rich repertoire of folk and classical music, dance, and traditional musical instruments (particularly, percussion instruments). It is a treat to see some of the art and craft forms of this area – Killimangalam mat weaving, folk dance and music. The highlight of the Cheruthuruthy visit is a walk through Kerala Kalamandalam, a world-renowned institution for 15 different types of performing arts. Kalamandalam has revived arts indigenous to Kerala, some of which were facing a threat of extinction under the colonial Raj. During the tour, we will see classes in progress, and interact with the Masters, who are full time residential teachers following the traditional Gurukul system of teaching.
The tea gardens of Munnar provide a cool respite and contrast to the humid coastal areas. Swathed in greenery, Munnar is also an ecological diversity hotspot, with the Rajamalai Sanctuary providing a home to the endangered Nilgiri tahr. The best way to explore Munnar is on foot, with a guided trek through the hills and plantations (suitable for all age groups and fitness levels).
Kerala's network of navigable backwaters stretches to cover a thousand kilometers. These serene waterways are fringed by palm grove and paddy fields and offer a striking spectacle of rustic life. The backwaters act as a vital waterway for the transport of goods, people and their produce are often the only link between isolated villages and crowded towns. The Alleppey district is one of the most popular areas where you can cruise the backwaters in a traditional kettuvallom (houseboat). It is also one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea-level, using a system of dykes.
Here's an outline of a suggested itinerary:
How to plan your tour:
The itinerary above is only a suggestion. Please write to us telling us how many days you have, what your hotel budget per night is, and what your special interests are. We’ll design a tour that is specific to your needs. We’ll recommend multiple hotels in each city within your budget; you can review and select the one you want. We’ll also arrange transportation and guided tours.