Detailed Itinerary (Page 2)
All itineraries subject to slight change

Please contact Baraka Journeys for most current itinerary

January 13 - February 7, 2014 (26 days)

Day 11 Thursday, January 23
Madurai/Periyar (in Tamil Nadu state)
This morning you will be driven 130 km to Periyar., one of the most picturesque nature reserves in India.  A dam constructed on the Periyar River in 1895 led to the submersion of a large forest area and the formation of a 55 sq. km lake which assured the local wildlife a perennial source of water and led to its rapid multiplication. 

In the afternoon, enjoy a boat ride on Lake Periyar to see wildlife on the banks of the lake.

Dinner and overnight at Spice Village or Shalimar Spice Garden www.shalimarkerala.net  
 
Day 12 Friday, January 24
Periyar/Kumarakom (in Kerala state)
Early in the morning take a jungle trek with a local expert.  You will see spice gardens filled with an abundance of pepper, gooseberry, and tamarind trees, along with cinnamon, all-spice and curry plants which are planted in the in these gardens. 

Later you will be driven to the village of Kumarakom (125 kms), home of the famous “backwaters of Kerala”  which comprise one of South India’s most picturesque rural areas; an idyllic network of rivers and canals in a luxuriant coastal terrain, originally created by 45 rivers, which flow down from the Western Ghats to the coast.  The region is characterized by lush coconut groves and paddy fields.  The village of Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake and this small water world is part of the Kuttanad region, ”the land of the short people” a reference perhaps, to the sight of the men and women working knee deep in paddy fields.  It is an unbelievably beautiful paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals adorned with white lilies.

In the afternoon enjoy a cruise on these celebrated backwaters.  For centuries, the waterways provided an efficient, peaceful transport system, for the local farmers and inhabitants.  Foreign invaders, too, appreciated their importance as trade and communication arteries, and built a number of settlements along the riverbanks.  Today, coconuts and peppers are still carried in country boats, newspapers are delivered by skiff, and children go to school by ferry.  The scene is idyllic and the mood is dreamlike.  Life on the backwaters is quite distinct from the rest of India, beating to its own gentle rhythm.  Dinner and overnight at a local resort either Coconut lagoon www.cghearth.com/coconut-lagoon or Kumarakom Lake Resort www.kumarakomlakeresort.in

Day 13 Saturday, January 25
Kumarakom/Cochin (also known as Kochi) (in Kerala state)
After breakfast drive 90 kms to the historic city of Cochin, en route visiting a “coir” factory. 
This is a factory that makes ropes and mats from coconut fiber.

The morning will offer a sightseeing tour of Cochin.  See one of the oldest Jewish Synagogues (from the exterior, because it is closed Friday & Saturday).  The synagogue was built in 1568 and rebuilt in 1664.  Its interior is a melange of styles, with hand painted blue and white floor tiles from Canton, 19th century Belgian oil-burning chandeliers and an elaborately carved Ark housing four scrolls from the Torah, (the first five books of the Old Testament). 

Also visit the Dutch Palace, which was originally known as Mattancherry Palace.  It was built by the Portuguese and presented to the King of Cochin in 1555 AD.  The Dutch carried out some extensions and renovations in the palace in 1663, and thereafter it was popularly named after them.  Today, it is a portrait gallery of the Cochin Rajas and notable for some of the best mythological murals in India, which are in the best traditions of Hindu temple art. 

Continue to the Francis Church, a Protestant church which was originally built by the Portuguese in 1510 AD.  This church is believed to be the oldest church built by the Europeans in India.  It is here that the remains of the inveterate traveler, Vasco da Gamma were initially buried.  14 years later however, his mortal remains were taken to Portugal.  The Santa Cruz Basilica Church, which is situated close to St. Francis Church, has beautiful paintings. 

The air of Cochin is filled with the scent of spices.  The pepper in this area was given the name ‘Black gold.’  True to its name, this spice was identical to gold for several centuries.  You will be taken on a visit to some “godowns” or spice warehouses.  You also will see the Chinese fishing nets in operation at the entrance of Kochi Harbor, a fascinating sight.  Chinese traders first brought them back from Kublai Khan's court. 

In the evening enjoy a Kathakali dance performance.  Kathakali literally means “story-play” and is an elaborate dance depicting the victory of truth over falsehood.  A striking feature of Kathakali is the use of elaborate make-up and colorful costumes to emphasize that the characters are super beings from another world.  Their make-up is easily recognizable to the trained eye as satvik (godlike), rajasik (heroic), or tamasik (demonic).  Continue to the private home of a local Syrian Christian family where you are invited for dinner.  Overnight at your hotel known as Tea Bungalow www.teabungalow.in  

Day 14 Sunday, January 26
Cochin/Bangalore/Mysore (in Karnataka state)
Early morning transfer to the airport for flight to Bangalore.
Dep: Cochin JetAir 445    at 07.30 am
Arr: Bangalore        at 08.35 am

Upon arrival in Bangalore, have a short drive through the city and see its highlights.  Continue southwest towards Channapattana to The Heritage Winery for a tour and tasting and lunch.

After lunch continue to the city to see the manufacture and lacquering of wooden toys.

Disembark bus at Mandya and take a train ride (just for fun!) to Mysore depart 4:25, arriving 5:30.  Transfer from rail station to check into hotel for dinner and overnight in Mysore at The Windflower www.thewindflower.com 1st of 2 nights.

Day 15 Monday, January 27
Mysore (in Karnataka state)
Full day sightseeing in Mysore and at Tipu’s summer palace at Srirangapatnam.  See remarkable wall paintings of Karnataka’s ruler Tipu Sultan at the island fortress that was once the capital of the warrior king Hyder Ali and his son Tipu.  

Mysore has a long history of eminent dynasties that ruled from here and created a city that, even today, is one of the finest in southern India with tree-lined boulevards, beautiful gardens, parks and stately palaces.  As the principal residence of a former royal family, Mysore offers palaces with a profusion of exquisite domes, arches and turrets.

Visit the Mysore Palace (also known as the Maharajah's Palace), which is the most attractive monument in the city and was the residence of the Wodeyar Maharajah’s.  The original palace built of wood, burned down in 1897 and was rebuilt, designed in Indo-Saracenic style by the well-known British architect, Henry Irwin.  The palace is a treasure house of exquisite carvings and works of art from all over the world.  

On Chamundi Hill we find the summer palaces and the 2,000-year-old temple of Chamundeswari, dedicated to the deity of the Mysore royal family.  Also visit the Devaraja fruit and vegetable market.  Heaps of crimson chili peppers in reds yellows and greens mingle with local color to become a photographer’s dream.  

Visit a Yoga School and attend a special Coorgi Dinner (Coorg is a former province in SW Indian, now part of Karnataka state).  This 12-course meal will be hosted by a Coorgi Family dressed in their traditional finery proceeded by a performance of The Dollu Kunita Dancers.  Overnight at your hotel in Mysore The Windflower www.thewindflower.com 2nd of 2 nights.

Day 16 Tuesday, January 28
Mysore/Hassan (in Karnataka state)
This morning drive to Hassan 130 kms away (approx 3 1/2 hrs.)  En route visit Shravanabelagola (93 km from Mysore).  This is one of the most popular pilgrimage centers for the Jain community in South Indian and is known for its colossal monolithic statue of Gomateswara, on top of a hill.

In the afternoon visit Belur and Halebid.  Belur is located on the banks of the Yagachi river.  It was once the capital of the Hoysala Empire, today made unforgettable for its exquisite temples.  The Chennakeshava Temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture.  It took 103 years to complete and you can see why.  The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures and friezes with no portion left blank.  Elephants, episodes from the epics, sensuous dancers, they are all there - awe-inspiring in their intricate workmanship.  Inside are filigreed pillars all hand-turned on lathes.  




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SOUTHERN INDIA AND SRI LANKAN ODYSSEY

In India visit Dravidia

(the states of Karnataka, Andrha Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala)

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Email: barakajourneys@sbcglobal.net  Telephone: (626) 570-1700   Contact: Christine Robison
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