Single supplement $1022 AUD
- Day 1 - Arrival in Kochi (Cochin)
- Day 2 - Kochi
- Day 3 - Kochi to Periyar
- Day 4 - Periyar to Kumarakom
- Day 5 - Kumarakom to Alleppey on house boat
- Day 6 - Alleppey to Kovalam
- Day 7 - Kovalam
- Day 8 - Kovalam to Trivandrum
- Meet and assistance on arrival at airports
- 7 nights accommodation
- Breakfast daily, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
- Transportation in an air conditioned vehicle
- English speaking local guides
- All sightseeing as per itinerary
- Entrances fees to sites mentioned in itinerary
- Spice garden visit in Periyar
- Boat ride in Lake Periyar
- Kathakali dance performance in Cochin
- Witness Nehru Boat Race
- Scrubba Wash Bag
- International flights
- Travel and medical insurance
- All services, meals other than those indicated above
- Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
- All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc
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Nehru Trophy Boat Race
The serene backwaters overflowing, the green earth bursting with life freshly washed by unrelenting rains, and the melody of the birds is matched by the joyous song of the farmer, grateful for the paddy harvest. Preparations gain momentum for the Nehru Trophy Boat race, to win the coveted rolling trophy that will bring joy to the winning village for many months to come. The teams, crossing over a hundred members each, have been living together for weeks, toiling to get into the rhythm which will keep the giant boats afloat. As the participants work under strict rules of diet, daily regimens of exercise, and practicing celibacy to preserve their vital strength, the villagers are busy rooting for their favourite team.
On the day of the race, one can safely say that all roads lead to the waters. Large groups of people rush in the morning to grab their favourite spot, on banks and staircases, on roofs and the balcony seats - trees overhanging the channels from which the boats will pass. The Kali-Vallangal (racing boats) start lining up, decked up in bright colours, the snakes open hood gleaming in the sun, umbrellas held aloft add to the spectacle, but it is the sound and sight of the boats, as they race across the Punnamada Lake which is truly mesmerising. Tranquil waters burst into shower, sliced by hundreds of oars held by sinewy arms working in tandem with the rhythm of the drums and songs. Join us for a mesmerizing experience.
We welcome you to the shores of Kerala, ‘God’s own country’. Paddy fields announcing a rich harvest, calm sea waters snaking into the land, lush green trees and the simplicity of the people who inhabit these lands. Allow Crooked Compass to unravel the layers of this bewitching seaside. This southern state of India is at once very cosmopolitan, with all the world religions represented here and ties with the outside world dating back to the earliest civilizations and at the same time rooted in timeless traditions, a simple lifestyle still untouched by the individuated fast pace of modern living. We will introduce you to all of this and more during your stay here. Relive history in the lanes of Kochi and the spice farms of Periyar. Tantalise the palate with scrumptious cuisine - with each region and each village adding a special twist to the fresh foods scoured from sea and land. Immerse yourself in local customs and traditions in Kumarakom, introduce yourself to local crafts and skills in Kovalam, a lesson in ecological conservation and be overwhelmed by a sense of wellbeing. At the snake boat race, we take you to the very best locations, on the water itself on our special house-boats. We promise you an unforgettable experience.
Day 1 - Arrival in Kochi (Cochin)
We welcome you to the old port town of Kochi, which has welcomed visitors from time immemorial. These hospitable people and lands received all who landed on these shores, allowing the flourishing of rich and vibrant cosmopolitan culture, an important hub of political diplomatic and economic activity.
2 nights at Eight Bastian or similar
Day 2 - Kochi
The lanes of the city open themselves up to reveal treasures of this unique blend of cultures. Kerala welcomed the faiths of Judaism, Bahai, Christianity and Islam, all of which find expression here. You will visit the Jewish Synagogue in Jew town, admire the willow patterned floor tiles of the Dutch Palace, and the St. Francis Church, the oldest church in India. The gigantic Chinese fishing nets spread on the coastline provide a scintillating frame to the setting sun. In the evening, complete this cultural extravaganza enthralled by the mesmerizing hand gestures and exaggerated facial expressions of Kathakali dancers as they recount ancient tales. (B)
Day 3 - Kochi to Periyar
Notice the changing countryside as you drive through the hilly terrain of the Western Ghats of India to arrive at Periyar. A sensory extravaganza awaits you as we weave our way to the special treasures of the region that attracted the spice traders of yore. Glide through the calm waters of the Periyar wildlife sanctuary in search of the 35 species of mammals and 265 birds spotted here. The spectacular panorama is a photographer’s delight, while others simply want to soak in the visual treat. The Spice Garden, offers another, different onslaught to the senses, as aromatic flavours engulf your being. Spend a night of blissful sleep cushioned by the smell and sounds of nature. (B)
Overnight at Spice Village or similar
Day 4 - Periyar to Kumarakom
Get a glimpse of the life of the people as we drive through the beautiful countryside. The breathtaking landscape, the simplicity of the village life, evidences of the changing pace of modernizing cities, will keep you engrossed during the long drive. The afternoon is at leisure, to explore the splendours on offer at your resort and the surrounding village. Relax by the waters or experience the holistic pleasures of an Ayurvedic massage. Spices are an integral part of Indian cuisine serving not just the demons of the palate, but maintaining a healthy body. Learn the powers of these spices at a cooking demonstration. (B)
Overnight stay at Coconut Lagoon Resort or similar
Day 5 - Kumarakom to Alleppey on house boat
You will take a houseboat to Punnamada Lake, Alleppey the venue of the Nehru Trophy boat race. Of the many categories of races, including that of women’s teams during the event, it is Chundan Vallams (snake boats) which are the most popular.
Deep ties of coastal people with the land and the waters, make the boat races an integral part of village life. At one point of time, these waterways served as the primary means of transport and the skill of the oarsmen, a coveted one. Life was and to an extent still is lived on the banks of the waters but with increasing surface transport, some of the skills are kept alive only due to the periodic races held throughout the year. With each group representing a village, they are a moment of building ties, working together and most importantly celebrating a common victory and bemoaning a common loss.
Colourful banners, announcements on loudspeakers and a hurried frenzy in the direction of the waters, together generate excitement in the participants and the spectators. You will watch the spectacular event from your own personal house boat. Take your place and ready yourself for a memorable experience. The cheerful laughter, the singing of folk songs gives way to the excitement from the waters as the first boats begin to appear.
Having worked on their skills for months and years, each team now wants to bring the glory of the trophy to their village. Excited instructions to those manning the front and the back, keep the oarsmen afloat and working in a single direction. For the largest boat, these instructions are conveyed by sounding the drum. The mesmerising spectacle of oars moving to the rhythm of Vanchipattu, the song sung in honour of King Mathanda Varma who fought the Dutch forces. Many of the boats will topple on the way, but nothing can dampen the excitement in the air. Behind the race boats come the exquisite floats depicting the life and customs of the people. Enjoy this day as the locals do. Pick a team or cheer the spirit of the men and women who pick up their oars. (B,L,D)
Overnight on a traditional houseboat
Day 6 - Alleppey to Kovalam
You arrive at Kovalam, ‘the grove of coconut trees’, the beachside town situated in southern most reach of Kerala. While beautiful beaches beckon some irresistibly, others may enjoy leisurely walks through the surrounding villages. A leisurely day spent in the cool waters of the Arabian Sea or simply basking under the sun in pristine sands, shaded by coconut trees. Why not take a walk observing local craftsmen and women as they craft fine specimens out of coconut produce, you are simply spoiled for choice. Walk through the local fish market as the fishermen and their family sell the fresh catch of the day. (B)
2 nights at Travancore Heritage or similar
Day 7 - Kovalam
The day is at leisure, to bathe, stroll or shop for souvenirs. (B)
Day 8 - Kovalam to Trivandrum
A short drive takes you to Trivandrum for your onward journey. We hope that you have enjoyed your stay in this land believed to be blessed by the Gods. A land that bewitches enthrals and beckons for return again and again. (B)