Essence of Kerala India Itinerary

14 Days 13 Nights

Itinerary Overview

Essence of Kerala India Tour showcases the best of Kerala covering major highlights. Discover Cochin as a local, enjoy a cup of tea from a tea plantation in Munnar, visit the spice gardens of Thekkady, visit the famous Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, enjoy an overnight houseboat on the backwaters, and end the tour by relaxing in Kumarakom on the backwaters of Kerala referred to as “God’s own country”.

Day 1 Kochi

Namaste and welcome to India!

Arrive Kochi, and after immigration, baggage, and customs, exit the arrival halls. A Geringer Global Travel representative will greet you with a placard bearing your name.

You will be assisted and transferred to your hotel.

Hotel: CGH Eighth Bastion Hotel
Day 2 Kochi

After breakfast, take a walking tour which shows the various facets of the old town of Kochi. Walk through the narrow lanes and explore its different buildings, temples, and markets.

Enjoy a cooking demonstration and lunch at the residence of Nimmy, a professional culinary instructor for more than twenty years. She teaches the nuances of traditional Kerala recipes. She is also a food consultant to writers, chefs, and magazines.

After lunch, enjoy a performance of Kathakali, Kerala’s unique dance drama. Originally performed only by men, this art form with its intricate hand gestures, facial expressions, and choreographed movements evolved from an ancient martial art form.

Dinner is at Sea Grill Terrace Restaurant at Brunton Boatyard Hotel which offers excellent Kerala cuisine.

Hotel: CGH Eighth Bastion Hotel
Day 3 Kochi

After breakfast, take the Blue Bus Tour. Experience travel like a local, wander the bazaars like a local, and eat like a local! The Blue Bus Tour will take you from the old-world charm-ridden Fort Kochi to the bustling Ernakulam city. Upon reaching Ernakulam, explore the market on foot. This is where the locals come to buy everything from a needle to groceries to jewelry. From here, go to the iconic Indian Coffee House to try some local delicacies and coffee. Take the ferry to Fort Kochi and be dropped off at your hotel.

Lunch is at the hotel.

The afternoon is free to walk around Fort Kochi, to enjoy Ayurvedic treatments (on direct payment), or just to relax.

Dinner is at Malabar House, which specializes in innovative Keralan cooking using local produce and fresh seafood.

Hotel: CGH Eighth Bastion Hotel
Day 4 Munnar

After breakfast, drive to Munnar (approximately 4-5 hours). Idyllically set at the confluence of three mountain streams, Munnar is a beautiful hill station. Characterized by rolling hills dotted with colonial bungalows, streams, waterfalls, and 19th-century tea plantations, Munnar once served as a popular vacation resort for the British Raj elite.

On arrival, check into the hotel and enjoy lunch at the hotel.

After lunch, visit Eravikulam National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is spread over an extensive area of 97sq km. It is home to the largest population of the endangered Nilgiri Tahr (Mountain goat). Inhabited by various animal species and more than 120 beautiful species of birds, this region is a paradise for ornithologists. (The park remains open from 7:00 am – 4:00 pm and is closed for visitors from February 1 to March 31 due to the calving season of the Nilgiri Tahr.)

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Windermere Estate
Day 5 Munnar

After breakfast, hike to Top Station to view the massive peaks. The hike starts at 8 am and ends at about 2:30 pm. A packed lunch is provided by the hotel.

After lunch, visit the Tea Museum in Munnar, which is a miniature working tea factory as well as a museum. It showcases the old machinery that was used to manufacture tea during the British Raj in India.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Windermere Estate
Day 6 Madurai

After breakfast, drive to Madurai (approximately 3-4 hours). The ancient city of Madurai is one of southern India’s oldest cities. This town has been patterned on the lotus flower with the temple of the Goddess Meenakshi at the center.

Lunch is at the Banyan Restaurant at the Heritage Madurai Hotel.

After lunch, join your local expert on the Potter’s Trail Tour. Discover the special narratives of pottery making that are individual to the Madurai experience.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: The Gateway Pasumalai Madurai Hotel
Day 7 Madurai

After breakfast, visit the vibrant Banana market which is filled with many stallholders and over 16 varieties of bananas.

Next visit the Meenakshi Temple, an outstanding structure, dedicated to Meenakshi the “fish-eyed goddess” and the consort of Shiva. The temple houses an estimated 33,000 sculptures along with several shrines, corridors, and pillars that are adorned with wonderful artwork.

Visit Thirumalai Nayaka Palace which was built in 1636 in the Indo Mughal style. It has 15 domes and arches adorned with stucco work. The Celestial Pavilion, an arcaded octagonal structure, is curiously constructed in brick and mortar without supporting rafters. The original complex had an armory, a theater, royal quarters, and a shrine. Only a quarter remains since Thirumalai’s grandson removed sections to build another palace in Tiruchirapalli.

Visit St. Mary’s Cathedral with its beautiful stained-glass work and the Gandhi Memorial Museum which has a huge treasury of objects and writings of Mahatma Gandhi’s life.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: The Gateway Pasumalai Madurai Hotel
Day 8 Thekkady

After breakfast, drive to Thekkady (approximately 4 hours). Thekkady is known for its spices such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove. The wildlife reserve has animals such as elephants, tigers, and sambars.

On arrival, check into the hotel and have lunch.

Afterwards, enjoy the Spice Plantation Tour with your guide. The tour starts with a short jeep ride to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Kumily town, Periyar National Park, agricultural fields, and forests. You will be introduced to the magnificent Western Ghats, a 1600 km long mountain range, that runs parallel to the western coast of India. This is one of the world’s eight biodiversity hotspots. Visit the home of a spice farmer who has won many awards for best agricultural practices. Tour the farm and learn about spices: the variety, the various processes, the market, and the economy. The tour ends with a cup of spice tea and homemade chocolates with your host.

Dinner is at the resort.

Hotel: Spice Village Resort
Day 9 Thekkady

After breakfast, enjoy a full-day hiking and rafting program through some of the richest forest tracts of Periyar National Park. A mosaic of habitats will be traversed before you get into rafts made of bamboo. The rafting is about three hours and you will have a panoramic view of forest-clad hills. Animals like elephants, gaur, and sambar are sighted keeping close to the edges of the lake. The program includes about 13 km of walking and 2 hours of rafting in Periyar Lake. Snacks, lunch, and bottled water are provided.

After the excursion, return to the hotel.

Dinner is at the resort.

Hotel: Spice Village Resort
Day 10 Alleppey

After breakfast, drive to Alleppey (approximately 4 hours) to embark on the houseboat cruise.

Dubbed the ‘Venice of the East’, Alleppey is renowned for its houseboat cruises which float along the tranquil backwater canals of Kerala. While cruising the palm-shaded canals, enjoy Alappuzha’s little riverside villages dotting the lush countryside.

Lunch and dinner are on the houseboat.

Hotel: Houseboat
Day 11 Kumarakom

After breakfast, disembark from the houseboat at Kumarakom Lake Resort. Kumarakom is a village on Vembanad Lake in the backwaters of Kerala. It is a popular place to study yoga, meditation, and enjoy Ayurvedic massages.

Lunch is at the resort.

The rest of the day is at leisure for independent resort activities that include cultural programs.

Dinner is at the resort.

Hotel: Kumarakom Lake Resort
Day 12 Kumarakom

After breakfast, visit Philipkutty’s Farm for a cooking demonstration followed by lunch. A member of the family will perform the cooking demonstration.

After lunch, visit Bay Island Driftwood Museum which houses unique collections of articles made of driftwood. The driftwood articles are highly valued and modern art techniques have been used in their making.

Dinner is at the resort.

Hotel: Kumarakom Lake Resort
Day 13 Kumarakom

After breakfast, visit the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. The 14-acre bird sanctuary is the favorite spot for migratory birds from all parts of the world. It is situated on the banks of Vembanad Lake and houses a wide range of birds including cuckoo, water duck, owl, kingfishers, woodpeckers, and egret.

The afternoon is at leisure or you can opt for various in-house activities offered by the resort.

Lunch and dinner are at the resort.

Hotel: Kumarakom Lake Resort
Day 14 Kumarakom - Kochi - Departure

After breakfast, transfer to Kochi airport for the flight home.