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Discover the treasures of Kerala and Karnataka with GH
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Southern India has so much more to offer than sunshine and paradise beaches. It's also a land of myths, mysteries and magnificent religious temples as well as spice-perfumed air, delicious food and some incredible places to stay - from heritage hotels to traditional houseboats that cruise the steamy backwaters of the Keralan coast.
On this exclusive 11-day itinerary you and fellow Good Housekeeping readers will dip beneath the surface of Keralan society to discover something of its food, traditions and artistic culture, including the fascinating Kathkali dance and Kabalyam martial art.
Neighbouring Karnataka is much less visited yet boasts the architectural splendour of Mysore, the stunning wildlife of Nagarhole National Park and the sandalwood forests of Karnataka.
Dividing these two states are the Western Ghats, an imposing ridge of strikingly beautiful mountains which you'll travel through to get a sense of the remarkable landscape. You'll also visit Kochi, the glittering 'Queen of the Arabian Sea' and the oldest European settlement in India.
Travelling in a small group of no more than 17 fellow readers, you'll discover the authentic delights of two of South India's most welcoming states. Combine this tour with our exclusive tour in the Golden Triangle beforehand for an incredible 23-day once-in-a-lifetime holiday.
Optional single supplement
If you're a solo traveller, you can choose to be paired with a fellow Good Housekeeping reader of the same sex to avoid paying the single supplement.
Reasons to book
Safari in Nagarhole National Park
Unique cultural experiences
Travel in a small group
- Wild Frontiers tour leader with local guides and drivers
- All meals as detailed in the itinerary
- All transport as detailed in the itinerary
- All accommodation
- All entrance fees, as per itinerary
Day1Tour starts in Bengaluru (Bangalore)Bangalore, India
Meet your fellow travellers this morning in Bangalore, capital of India's southern Karnataka state. You'll drive out of the city westwards towards Mysore, one of the country's cultural gems. After lunch, check-in to the Fortune JP Palace or similar and enjoy an orientation walk around this fascinating city.
Long known for its festivals and palaces, Mysore boasts one of the most opulent and iconic buildings in Southern India, the ornate Mysore Palace. A wonderful fusion of European and Indian influences, the palace is still the official residence of the Wodeyar dynasty, the royal family of Mysore. After your visit you'll drive out into the Chamundi hills which surround the city and are home to the impressive Sri Chamundeswari Temple and the sacred Nandi bull, one of the largest of its kind and carved from a single piece of rock. You'll also stop at the impressive Srirangapatnam with its 18th-century remains of Tipu Sultan's fort, palace and mausoleum.
Day3Nagarhole National ParkNagarhole National Park, India
Today's journey will takes you to Kabini, on the edge of the Nagarahole National Park. This afternoon, head out on safari to spot some of the local wildlife including Asian elephant, Samba deer, Langur monkeys plus over 250 species of birds. Stay at the Kadavu Resort or similar.
Day4Nagarhole - CalicutKozhikode (ex Calicut), India
Enjoy an early morning safari in the Nagarahole National Park to see tigers and leopards. Later you'll depart for Calicut, across the border in Kerala, an important trading centre and the place where Vasco de Gama first set foot on the Indian Subcontinent in 1498. This evening you'll visit a kalari (a special Keralan gymnasium) to witness kalarippayattu, a distinct martial arts discipline dating back over 1500 years. You'll stay at the Kadavu Resort or similar.
Day5CheruthuruthyCheruthuruthy , India
Today head south towards Cheruthuruthy on the Nila River. After a traditional lunch you'll get the chance to meet local artisans, including potters, weavers and toymakers. This evening enjoy a performance of local folk song and dance. Stay at the River Retreat or similar.
This morning you'll visit a Kalamandalam - a performing arts centre - which prides itself on maintaining and teaching the great arts and traditions of Keralan society for which it is famed. You'll then drive south towards the famous Keralan backwaters and spend the night in Kumarakum at the Backwater Ripples Resort or similar.
Days7-8Allepey – backwater cruiseAlleppey, India
This morning you'll drive to Allepey to take to the waters on a traditional houseboat. The next two days will be spent cruising the waterways and channels that honeycomb the coastal plains running parallel to the Arabian Sea. Keralan houseboats known as Kettuvallam once negotiated these canals carrying rice, grain and even royalty. Today they give a unique glimpse into the tranquillity and tradition of this part of southern India - pass isolated communities and gardens of hibiscus and vegetables, hop off the boats to visit interesting sights and spend your evenings moored up besides the lapping shores of these idyllic backwaters.
Day9Kochi (Cochin)Kochi, India
You'll disembark in the morning and drive to Kochi, the glittering 'Queen of the Arabian Sea'. The oldest European settlement in India, Kochi is a vibrant mix of Arab, Chinese, European and Indian influences and home to the oldest church and the oldest synagogue in the country. Enjoy a walking tour around the historic old streets of Fort Cochin and the red-tiled riverfront of Mattancherry, once the old capital's main market area and the centre of the Malabar spice trade. The city is also famous for its Chinese fishing nets, as well as the Santa Cruz Basilica and the Church of St. Francis, where the body of Vasco de Gama was held before being returned to Portugal. This evening enjoy a sunset cruise on the harbour before learning how to cook a traditional dinner with a local family. Stay at the Fragrant Nature hotel or similar.
Day10Vaikom villageVaikom, India
Today you'll head into rural Kerala to get a feel for everyday village life, spending time with the people of Vaikom. There'll be opportunities to witness and perhaps even take part in various activities including rope and basket-making, mat-weaving and for the more active, canoeing and toddy-tapping - which involves climbing coconut trees to collect sap, which is later turned into 'toddy', a palm wine. This is a great way to experience life beyond the beach resorts for which Kerala is usually known. Fragrant Nature hotel or similar.
Day11Tour ends in KochiKochi, India
Your tour ends after breakfast when you can choose to depart for the UK on our suggested flights.
Fortune JP Palace
The timeless beauty of Mysore is reflected in this palatial hotel
Fortune JP Palace embodies the exuberance of Mysore with its palatial-style architecture, landscaped gardens and magnificent view of the famous Chamundi Hills. The hotel offers tradition with a contemporary twist, as seen in the 108 beautifully-furnished and spacious rooms, with modern facilities and services. Conveniently situated opposite the Government House in Mysore and well-connected to nearby tourist destinations, the hotel lies only 2 km from the Mysore Palace, 700 meters away from St. Philomena's Church, 3 km from the railway station and 12 km from the Mysore airport.
Kabini River Lodge
Wildlife resort nestled in the southern fringes of the Nagarahole National Park
The Kabini River Lodge is a perfect getaway for nature lovers. Its breathtaking locale in the tranquil backwaters of the River Kabini presents an ideal setting for a relaxing stay. Fourteen spacious double rooms, six twin-bed cottages in sylvan surroundings and five tented cottages with bathroom attached, can be found around the colonial-style main building. Facilities include a well-equipped bar, seminar room, and communal dining gazebo- the circular Ghol Ghar - which overlooks River Kabini.
The Raviz Resort & Spa Kadavu
Scenic detox hotel that celebrates the spirit of Kerala
Just a short drive from Calicut city, the Raviz Kadavu is nestled on the banks of the legendary Chaliyar River. Designed by the celebrated architect Tony Joseph, and styled on the Nallukettu home, the nine-acre of sprawling land have been carefully landscaped using indigenous plant varieties. Accommodation includes cottages and rooms decorated with mural art. An open grill, Ayurveda and yoga centre and waterfront dining make this a serene spot for many activities.
The River Retreat
This Ayurvedic palace breathes history in every detail
Once the summer palace of the Maharajas of Cochin, The River Retreat is now a four-star Heritage Ayurvedic Resort. The palace breathes history in every detail, offering you Ayurvedic rejuvenation and therapies in the ambience of a palace. A wide range of Ayurvedic packages are on offer and a skilled and experienced team of masseurs, along with pristine environs, are ideal for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Backwater Ripples Resort
Keralan resort spread across 10 acres of lush green land with inland waterways at Kumarakom
Get close to nature at Backwater Ripples, a tranquil destination, directly overlooking the shimmering sapphire Lake Vembanad. 34 rooms are made up of heritage villas, garden and lake view rooms and family suites. Enjoy coconut water straight from the palms, relish a psychedelic sunset on a montage of clouds, taste the day's catch of Pearl Spot and Jumbo prawns and listen to the flurry of evening birds in the breeze. The suite also houses a huge gym and events hall, outdoor dining area and infinity pool.
Fragrant Nature Hotel
Five-star south Indian hotel with views over the harbour
Just a short walk from all the best sightseeing spots in Fort Kochi including the Jewish Synagogue, Dutch Palace and the famed Antique Market., the Fragrant Nature Hotel is located in the same locale as the East India Company office. This grand building with the first clock tower in Fort Kochi is a landmark. The all-day-dining restaurant dishes out Indian and continental delicacies and is a popular restaurant in the region and Prana, the state-of-the-art spa, offers a blend of relaxing ayurvedic and modern therapies to soothe your mind, body and soul.