Opulent Journeys

Tea, Temples & Spices in India

13 February - 6 March 2018

From (AUD)

$9,940

22 DAY

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1300 219 885 (AU)

0800 456 219 (NZ)

Tour Highlights
  • The astonishing stone carvings at Mahabalipuram
  • Massive temple complexes at Thanjavur. You might even be blessed by a en elephant!
  • Spices galore in Thekkady
  • Lunch at Johnny’s Plantation private home savouring delicious Keralan cuisine
  • Keralan Backwaters day cruise
  • Cooking demonstration at Phillip Kutty’s farm – boat ride there!
  • Exotic Cochin for the famous Chinese Fishing Nets, the Spice market and a fascinating history (think Vasco de Gama!)
  • Tea country in the delightful rolling hills of the Western Ghats
  • Nagarhole National Park for wildlife safaris
  • The incredible Royal Palace at Mysore

 

Dates & Prices

Tour Prices                                    

                               

Per person, twin share                               $9,940
Single room supplement $3,175

 

About Your Tour Leaders - Hilary and Peter Whitehead
Since retiring from the demands of owning and operating a garden centre in Turramurra, Sydney for 23 years, Hilary and I now have some time on our hands to pursue our addiction for travel. But I haven’t stopped loving plants and gardens and as a result I still work as a consultant to the Nursery & Garden Industry of NSW.
 
Over the past 10 years we have taken tours to France, Vietnam, China, India and Bhutan with the latter being a real favourite destination of ours. We’ve also visited India many times, both independently and taking tours. The two of us enjoy showing like-minded travellers why we are passionate about these places – the history, landscape, culture, diversity and vibrancy of these and other countries.
 
Travel is an adventure and we can give you the opportunity to experience and enjoy other cultures and countries.
 
 
What's Included

Inclusions:

  • All aiport transfers with the assistance of an agency representative and portage at airport (on suggested international flights)
  • Accommodation in hotels as indicated on itinerary on sharing twin rooms
  • Meal inclusions as mentioned in Itinerary
  • Ground transportation
  • Services of local English speaking guides
  • Day Cruise on Houseboat
  • Cooking demo + Lunch at Phillip Kutty Farm
  • Kathakli show in Cochin
  • Sunset Harbour cruise
  • Toy Train at Ooty
  • Yoga in Pollachi
  • Jeep + Boat Safaris at Nagarhole
  • Tipping included for tour guides
  • Entry fees to monuments
  • Mineral water during touring and excursions based on two 500ml bottles per person per day

Exclusions:

  • International travel and domestic air fare
  • Travel insurance, medical and baggage insurance
  • Personal expenses (e.g. telephone, drinks, etc.)
  • Still/moving camera fees at the monuments
  • All expenses arising out of voluntary or involuntary re-routing of the program
  • Anything not mentioned above

 

To Enquire or Book this tour:

Phone: 1300 219 885            Email: enquiries@opulentjourneys.com.au

Please Click Here to download the tour details.

As all our tours are bespoke, we aim to provide a seamless, individual service to you. We are aware you may have many questions about the tour and individual flights, and are very happy to assist, so please contact us directly. Once your booking form is completed, we will be in contact with you.

Itinerary
Arrive at the Chennai International Airport and after clearing immigration and customs, you will be met by the guide with paging signs at the arrival hall.
You will be then transferred to your hotel.

This morning visit the Koyambedu Fruit and Vegetable Market, Asia’s largest wholesale market distributing vegetables, fruits and flowers. This market, constructed with a well-laid plan by the Tamil Nadu Government, houses more than 2500 shops and business starts as early as 2 AM, every day around the year. Later, a visit of Kapaleeshwar Temple. Thereafter drive along Marina Beach followed by visit of Fort Saint George. Lunch at Annalakshmi, a traditional South India restaurant where vegetarian dining is a cultural experience. After lunch  we’ll drive to Mahabalipuram with an en-route stop at Dakshin Chitra (meaning picture of the South) museum of art and architecture. We’ll continue our drive and on arrival, check into our hotel.

(Meals: B, L)

 

This morning your guide will meet you to begin your tour of this ancient city.  Mahabalipuram is a UNESCO world heritage site and the Shore Temple is one of the focal points of interest. The Shore Temple is so named for its incredible location – perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Bay of Bengal. The Shore Temple is unique in that its inner sanctum contains a sculpture of both Vishnu and Shiva in his avatar as Somaskanda as well as Shiva’s consort, Parvati and their sons Skanda and Ganesha. The ruins of the rest of the Panch Rathas remain in silent testimony to the skill of the carvers who created them. Named for the Pandava brothers who are the heroes of the Mahabharat epic, they are architecturally ambitious and significant for the level of intricacy they sought to replicate in stone. After exploring the Shore Temple, continue inland to the massive bas-reliefs of Bhagiratha’s Penance. This panel is best seen in the monsoon, for its when the rain falls that one can truly understand the artist’s symbolism in depicting the descent of the holy River Ganges from heaven. Later today, we’ll drive to Pondicherry and check into our hotel.

(Meals: B)

In the morning we begin sightseeing in Pondicherry. We visit Colonial town, Aurobindo Ashram,  and Ganesh temple. Spend the afternoon imbibing the quintessential colonial flavour of Pondicherry, a former colony of France. Walk through the canary-coloured town along streets bearing French names lined with structures erected by French historical personnages. Tucked away amidst the colonial quartier, White Town are a few distinct grey structures that belong to the Aurobindo Ashram – a spiritual centre that has drawn followers from far and wide, and where the remains of Sri Aurobindo, a fiery revolutionist and philosopher-poet lie. Then continue onto the Manakula Vinayagar Temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god in Hindu mythology. After lunch drive to Kumbakonam. Enroute visiting Chidambaram and Darasuram. En route from Pondicherry to Thanjavur, stop over at the Chidambaram temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, which represents the element of ‘ether’  among the 5 basic elements. Chidambaram is the birthplace of the sculpture and bronze image representation of Lord Shiva as the cosmic dancer, Nataraja that has since become notable as a symbol of Hinduism. We continue driving to Kumbakonam.                

(Meals: B)

This morning, proceed on a guided visit of  the11th century Brihadeshvara Temple Complex,  built by a ruler of the Chola Empire in accordance with a dream he had. The Brihadeeswarar Temple was intended to display the power and position of the emperor in the universal order, and today, it has been classified a UNESCO World Heritage monument, one among three ‘Great Living Chola Temples’.  The Museum within the complex also details the history of the Chola Empire and showcases certain artefacts from the era.        

(Meals: B)

After breakfast drive to Madurai. On arrival at Madurai check into your Hotel.

(Meals: B)

After leisurely breakfast at the hotel, you can set off for the visit of Meenakshi Temple. The Meenakshi Temple is famed for its many carved and painted halls, this magnificent temple of goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundaram, a form of Lord Shiva, has the tallest ‘gopuram’ or temple gateway in the world. Later, drive to Munnar and check into the hotel. Rest of the day will be at your leisure. 
(Meals: B)
This morning proceed on a tea trail, from a visit to the lush, verdant slopes of a tea estate where you can get a glimpse into an industry that is over a hundred years old and learn the story behind your morning cuppa. Follow this with a visit to the Tea Museum, which houses curios, photographs and machineries representing a turning point for the tea industry in the region, as also some colonial-style furniture. Don’t miss out on the tea-tasting demonstration, where your infusions of different tea varieties and an insight into the nuances of tea-processing await! 
(Meals: B)
After breakfast you will drive to Thekkady, on arrival check into your hotel. This afternoon you can set off for a sightseeing tour through the Spice Plantations to see varieties of spices growing in that area, like the Black Pepper, Cloves, Cardamom, Vanilla, Ginger, Coffee, Tea etc. In the evening, witness a Kalaripayattu Show. The oldest of martial arts is a gift to the modern world and known as the mother of all martial arts. Kalarippayattu originated in ancient south India. It was crafted in ancient South India. 
(Meals: B)
After breakfast we’re driving to Kumarakom where we’ll stop en route at a family-run plantation (Jonny’s Plantation) which grows pineapples and rubber. Following a walk around the plantation, the family will invite you into their home, a sprawling plantation house which was built by their ancestors over one hundred years ago. Here we enjoy a delicious Keralan lunch, featuring some of the famous fresh vegetables and delicious local spices so typical of the state’s cuisine. We’ll continue the drive to Kumarakom and on arrival you will check into your hotel.
(Meals: B, L)
After breakfast you will drive to Alleppey and on arrival board your private Houseboat at noon for a backwater day cruise. The cruise will take you through the rice bowl of Kerala, where you will see her wealth of paddy crops. Relax in the comfort of your houseboat and watch the lives of people living on the bank of the lake. After we disembark the houseboat, we’ll drive to Kumarakom and on arrival check into the hotel. Return to the resort and rest of the afternoon at your leisure to enjoy the in house Ayurveda spa.
(Meals: B, L)
This morning after breakfast drive through nearby villages where you will get an opportunity to visit women weavers spinning coconut fiber into ropes.
Later we’re driving to Vechoor village to visit the charming Phillip Kutty Farm. Beautifully situated along the backwaters, the farm grows coconut, spices, fruit, and much more. In this day and age of processed, over-packaged food, sometimes, it can make a world of a difference to go back to the basics. World over, the farm-to-table experiences, where fresh farm produce makes its way with as little preparation and cooking, into a hearty, healthy fare, has made waves. In India, the Phillip Kutty farm strives to do the same. The farm is run by the family who owns it and today you will enjoy a delightful interactive session on Syrian Christian cuisine and learn how to cook some of these delicious dishes. The backwaters add their influence to the food at the farm and fish, duck, and poultry figure prominently alongside farm fruit and vegetables. Then in the evening, witness a Kathakli Show to finish for the day.
(Meals: B, L)
In this morning after breakfast you will set off for the visit of Ernakulam Market – one of Kerala’s shopping hubs. Originally the Maharaja of Cochin had given the market area to Jewish traders for business, who sold their shops to the local people when they left the country and even today most of the buildings have traditional architectural influences. This afternoon we’ll visit the spice market at Mattancherry, the Jewish Synagogue and the Dutch Palace. Later, proceed to Fort Cochin to visit the St. Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica and Chinese Fishing Nets. In the evening enjoy a sunset cruise on the Cochin Harbor, passing through Wellington Island, Bolgatty Islands, fishing boats and ending up at the Chinese Fishing Nets. These huge cantilevered fishing nets are the legacy of one of the first visitors to the Malabar Coast. 
(Meals: B)

In this morning, after breakfast drive to Pollachi and on arrival you will check into your hotel. Remainder of the day will be at your leisure.

(Meals: B, L, D)

In the morning our first stop will be Aliyar Ashram or Temple of Consciousness which is only 28 kms from Coco Lagoon Resort and is the focus for a silent revolution. It is set in beautiful natural settings at the foothills of the Western Ghats where we’ll enjoy yoga. Vethathiri Maharishi, born of humble origins into a weaver’s family, was the founder of the ashram. He synthesized a complete science of living for the betterment of humanity through Simplified Kundalini Yoga (SKY) with the purpose of achieving world peace through individual peace. Later, continuing to Coonoor and on arrival check in. 
(Meals: B, L, D)
After breakfast we’ll go to Mettupalayam Railway station for a toy train ride to Ooty. (Train departs at 0700 hrs, so we’ll have to leave the hotel by 0500 hrs.) Afterwards, lunch at Taj Savoy. On arrival a visit of the Botanical Garden. This Government Botanical Garden is divided into several sections, covers an area of 22 hectares, and lies on the lower slopes of Doddabetta Peak. After which we’ll explore St. Stephen’s church which dates back to the 19th century. Also visit the unique nearby Bee Museum. Through much has been lost in recent decades, Ooty retains a strong sense of its British tea traditions – we visit a chocolate shop on the mall which has been family run since the days of the British Raj. Drive back to Coonoor. Overnight in Coonoor.
(Meals: B, L)
After breakfast, we’ll commence our drive to Nagarhole. On arrival you will check into your hotel. Spend rest of the day leisurely in Nagarhole and enjoy the hotel facilities.
(Meals: B, L, D)
This morning we’ll set off through the rich forest cover of Nagarhole for a Vehicle (Jeep/Canter) Safari through the national park with its hills, valleys, streams and waterfalls . Some of the park’s flagship species include: the royal Bengal tiger, the Asiatic elephant and the Indian gaur or bison, species like the Indian leopard, wild dog, jackal, sloth bear, striped hyena, grey mongoose, sambar, chital, and wild boar who are frequently sighted. The park also hosts over 270 bird species, noteably the critically endangered Oriental white backed vulture, the lesser adjutant, the greater spotted eagle and the Nilgiri wood pigeon. In the afternoon we’ll proceed on a Boat safari through the national park, and on both safari’s we will be accompanied by a naturalist guide. 
(Meals: B, L, D)
This morning after a leisurely breakfast, we’ll drive to Mysore and check into the hotel. In the afternoon we’ll be driving to the outskirts of the city to Chamundi Hill, a noted landmark. Later, a walking tour through the colourful Devaraja market, one of India’s liveliest and with a fantastic range of produce. The fresh flower, oils and dye powder sections are particularly popular with photographers and also offer fantastic bargains in local oils like jasmine and sandalwood. We will also stop at a very special sweet shop where you can try some of the delicious local treats – a sweet tooth is definitely required! 
(Meals: B)

We begin the day by visiting a silk factory where you will get to see the making of Mysore silk saree from the yarn to the whole fabric, and find out why saree is so special aswell as learning of its royal connections. Then, we’ll enjoy an authentic meal for lunch at a local restaurant but not before making a stop at the local market. After Lunch you will depart for village experience where the students visit a nearby village and experience its lifestyle. Activities like taking a bullock cart ride or experiencing farming will be included as a part of this experience.

(Meals: B, L)

After breakfast, we’ll be visiting Mysore City Palace, a treasure house of exquisite carvings and works of art from all over the world. Following lunch, drive off to Srirangampatnam, the island fortress in the Kaveri River. After which we go to Bangalore where you can check into the hotel and enjoy the day.

(Meals: B)

Later this morning, you’ll be transferred to the international airport for your flight back home.

(Meals: B)

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