Day to day Itinerary

Day 1: Kochi (formerly Cochin), KERALA

After a welcome meeting, the group will visit the harbor to enjoy sunset over the Chinese fishing nets followed by a group dinner.

Day 2: Kochi

IndiaMapTraders have inhabited Kochi for over 1600 years. The Portuguese & the Dutch arrived in 1664. We will visit the sites reminiscent of the time when Europeans first accessed India directly, by sailing around Africa, rather than indirectly, through linkages presided over by Mediterranean & Middle Eastern merchants. Our orientation walk/lecture will include the Dutch (Mattancherry) Palace, its 400-year-old Jewish Pardesi synagogue (with a floor from China), the Indo-Portuguese (Catholic) Museum, the Santa Cruz basilica St. Francis Church, the oldest church in India, & the Dutch cemetery as well as the spice market That evening we will attend a Kathakali performance, a combination of dance, music & ritual enacting Hindu epics such as the Mahabharata & Ramayana.

Day 3: Kochi/Kalpetta, KERALA

We will take a morning train to Kozhikode, & then private vehicle to Kalpetta, in the Watyanad district of Kerala, in preparation for our next day’s touring.

Day 4: Kalpetta

We will walk the nature trails in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary—home to many endangered species & a wide diversity of flora & fauna. There we will visit the prehistoric Eddakai Caves, believed to have been a shelter for Neolithic peoples. We will travel through rice paddies, coffee plantations, forests of betel nuts & bamboo & stay in a local village (hopefully touring at least one cultivation).

Day 5: Kalpetta/Mudumalai, on the border of KERALA & KARNATAKA

We will travel from the hills of Wayanad to the plains & spend the night in the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the most important refuges for elephants & the vulnerable gaur (Indian bison) in India. After an afternoon on safari (in small jeeps or minibuses), we will spend the night in the sanctuary, also haven for Bengal tigers, leopards & the endangered chital (spotted deer).

Day 6: Mudumalai/Mysore (Mysuru), KARNATAKA

We will be transferred by private vehicle to Mysore, capital of the Woedyar maharajas (who ruled this region from 1399-1950), for a guided tour of the Mysore Palace. Then, just outside town, we will hike to the Chamundeshwari temple atop the Chamundi hills, & see statuary of Nandi the Bull ridden by the Hindu god Shiva. We will also visit the Devaraja fruit & vegetable market. A yoga class is a possibility as well.

Day 7: Mysore/Mamallapuram

This day we will travel via India’s vast rail system to the east coast. Once in Chennai, we will visit the Shore Temple—an impressive group of 7th & 8th century freestanding granite monuments & dedicated to the Hindu gods, Vishnu & Shiva. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the temple affords a stunning view of the Bay of Bengal.

Day 8: Mamallapuram

A major seaport since the 7th century under the Pallava kingdom (based at Kanchipuram), Mamallapuram is sometimes known as ‘backpackistan’; there will be some free time to take advantage of recreational opportunities on the waterfront as well as to explore monuments built during the rule of Narasimhavarman I.

Day 9: Mamallapuram/Puducherry (Pondicherry)

After relocating to Puducherry, we will visit an ashram & learn about Sri Aurobindo Ghose. Formerly the largest French colony in India, Puducherry was an important trading town. The French influence is still evident in the city’s layout—with wide boulevards, French-style houses & a canal—but the city is undoubtedly Indian. We will probably take a historical bike tour with Sita’s Bike Tour as well as a Shanti walking tour.

Day 10: Puducherry/Madurai

Moving back inland, we will make a stop at an India coffee house & enjoy the scenery in India’s extensive plantation region.

Day 11: Madurai, TAMIL NADU

Known as the ‘city of nectar’ since the 3rd century BCE, Madurai is southern India’s textile capital. Enticed by its products, the British East India Company razed its fort in 1840. We will visit the famous Meenakshi Temple—dedicated to Shiva & his consort Parvati or Meenakshi--a complex dating from the time of Tirumalai Nayak. We will also have time to explore handicraft shops where custom shirts are still produced on antique foot-pump sewing machines. We will also take an eco-friendly rickshaw tour to check out the fruit & vegetable market, watch the pressing of oil by bullocks & visit the Gandhi museum & palace. As an option, we may return to the temple to witness nightly rituals.

Day 12: Madurai/Periyar Sanctuary

This day we will drive to Thekkady & take a guided tour of the spice plantations in the Cardamom Hills & then visit a tea factory. We will take a boat ride on Periyar Lake, amid a sanctuary that should permit us to spot monkeys, wild boars & elephants.

Day 13: Periyar Sanctuary/Kerala Backwaters

From Periyar, we will take a bus to Alleppey & transfer to a riverboat for homestays. There will time for a guided walk along the lagoon & explore the islands before enjoying the sunset on the winding backwaters. We may be able to take a cooking lesson.

Day 14: Kerala Backwaters/Kochi

After watching toddy tappers at work & some free time in the morning, we will travel back (by boat & car) to Kochi in the afternoon & catch flights back to the states the next day.