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South India tour, culture, adventure, spriritual, tigers and palaces.
Celebrating Culture, Nature and Spirit


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Travel to INDIA is not for everyone. Independant travel and tours to India are for travelers wanting cultural experiences; adventure, wildlife, nature and tigers; interaction with the heart and spirit of diverse and varied cultures;spiritual journeys; brilliant art and architecture; romantic accommodations; and pure stimulation of the senses.


Ellen Lyon, India Specialist, holds a Masters degree in social work. She has had a life long interest in cultures and spiritual systems. Much of her work has been devoted to creating and presenting training programs to professionals on multicultural issues. Ellen has traveled extensively from budget through ultra deluxe. She has led highly successful groups to India, Nepal, Itlay, Greece and the Galapagos.


SOUTH INDIA

Celebrate Culture, Nature and Spirit

South india travel, wildlife, palaces, Kerala, houseboats.

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SOUTH INDIA ITINERARY (other itineraries available -- create the one to match your imagination)
Mid November - Mid March is the best time to travel to south India.

DAY 1: BOMBAY Welcome to India! Upon arrival in Bombay, you will be met by a representative, assisted and transferred to the Taj Hotel, offering classic Raj style ambiance of a bygone era.

DAY 2: BOMBAY
After breakfast, we begin our morning, sightseeing tour of Bombay with a visit to the Prince of Wales Museum seeing their extensive collection of fascinating 18th & 19th century miniature paintings; elegantly carved ivory artworks; and a rich collection of Nepalese and Tibetan art, among other fine works of art.

Then it is on to the Gateway of India overlooking the Harbor and the Dhobi Ghat, the unique and colorful outdoor 'laundry'.

Later we drive up to the Malabar Hill and the lovely Hanging Gardens and the Kamla Nehru Park for a wonderful view of Bombay and the Arabian Sea. We will visit Mani Bhavan, a small museum dedicated to the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi; and the bustling Crawford Market.


DAY 3: BOMBAY - BANGALORE - MYSORE
After breakfast at our hotel, we will be transferred to the airport in time for: Lv. Bombay at 1000 hours by IC 109 Ar. Bangalore at 1130 hours.

Upon arrival, we are met by our English speaking, university level Indian Guide who will accompany us throughout the rest of our journey. We then meet our driver and his helper and climb aboard our air-conditioned van.

On the drive to Mysore, we visit Srirangapatnam, once the summer palace of Tipu Sultan, known for its fortress and tomb of this famous Warrior King. Also, we will stop at the Sai Baba (an internationally known guru) Temple where there is a picture of him that constantly and mysteriously emanates ashes that are said to heal
.

DAY 4: MYSORE
This morning, we explore Mysore, the erstwhile capital of Wodeyars, the rulers of Mysore state. The Wodeyar family ruled Mysore since the 14th century except for a short period of 40 years when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were the rulers.

Mysore charms with her rich heritage, magnificent palaces, beautifully laid-out gardens, imposing buildings, broad shady avenues and sacred temples; and her markets with exotic rosewood, sandalwood and incense, Mysore silk sarees and stone carved sculptures.

Mysore traces its history mythologically to Mahishasur (Mahishasura) or the buffalo-headed demon king who is believed to have lived here. Goddess Chamundeshwari of Chamundi hills killed this demon and hence victory of good over evil began here.

We visit the Maharaja's Palace, which is lavishly decorated in a mixture of styles; the Mysore Arts & Crafts Center and then proceed to the Chamundi Temple, the temple of Goddess Chamundeshwari. The temple can be approached by 1000 steps built by the Maharaja of Mysore in the 17th century.

Half way towards the temple is the giant stone carved Nandi Bull. Close to the Chamundi temple is the giant and colorful statue of the demon Mahishasura. From the hill summit, one can have a panoramic view of the Mysore city.

The afternoon is free for independent activities. In Mysore, we stay in a centrally located hotel close to the Palace, markets, and the center of activity
.

DAY 5: MYSORE
Today we futher explore Mysore with time to follow our interests.

DAY 6: MYSORE - MADHUMALAI
After an early breakfast, we drive to Mudumalai Sanctuary lying in the shadow of the Western Ghats and known as one of the finest habitats of the Asian elephant.

Drained by the Moyar River, its open forest makes it easy for visitors to see the elephant, gaur and maybe a tiger in natural surroundings. This is a jungle experience including elephant safari.


DAY 7: MADHUMALAI - OOTY
This morning we drive from Madhumalai to Ooty. Ootacamund or Udhagamandalam, which stands 7,349 feet above sea level in the Nilgiris, is known as the Queen of southern hill resorts of India.

This famous hill station is at the junction of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, three southern states of India. It was founded by the British, in the early part of the 19th century, to serve as summer headquarters for the government of Madras. Before that time, the area was inhabited by Todas. These tribal people still inhabit the area, but only around 3000 remain.

In the afternoon, we explore Ooty and the terraced Botanical Gardens, which are a landmark in Ooty and have many rare trees and flowering plants. Tonight we stay in a former Raj Palace with beautiful gardens. Each room is different and offers a taste of royalty.

DAY 8: OOTY - GURUVAYOO Today our journey takes us to the state of Kerala whose original inhabitants were animists, followed by the Dravidians. After Alexander's triumphant sweep over Asia Minor, the ports of Kerala became a link between the Middle East, the Mediterranean and China. After our morning drive from Ooty to Guruvayoo, we check into our hotel in this most Important Hindu Pilgrim Centre in Kerala where the famous Sree Krishna Temple is situated.

The historic temple is shrouded in mystery. According to local belief, the temple was created by 'Guru', the 'preceptor of the gods' and 'Vayu', the 'god of winds'. It was also the hub of the 'Guruvayoor Sathyagraha', a historic movement demanding temple entry rights for the 'so called' lower castes.

This afternoon we go to the camp where more then fifty elephants are cared for and trained to be used in religious festivals. This is our opportunity to experience Hindu Indian as few Westerners have.

DAY 9: GURUVAYOO - COCHIN Morning drive from Guruvayoo to Cochin and check into the HOTEL MALABAR HOUSE RESIDENCY, a converted raj palace with romantic ambiance and 5 star service.

This afternoon, sightseeing tour of Cochin. Visit the Jewish synagogue built over 400 years ago. It contains beautiful Belgian glass chandeliers and is paved with hand painted tiles from China. Later, visit the "Dutch Palace" with its wonderful murals depicting the entire story of the Ramayana. Proceed to see the St Francis Church, the first European Church built in India.

Afternoon free for independent activities.


DAY 10: COCHIN
Today we will further explore the Cochin area and perhaps take time to relax by our pool.

DAY: 11 -12 COCHIN - ALLEPY ----BACKWATERS----KOTTAYAM
After breakfast, it is on to Allepy to board our HOUSE BOAT for a two-night adventure in the Backwaters of Kerala with all meals included and served in the best tradition of South India.

Fringing the coast of Kerala and winding far inland is an intricate network of lakes, innumerable lagoons, canals, estuaries and the deltas of forty-four rivers that drain into the Arabian Sea.

These Backwaters are both the basis of a distinct lifestyle and a fascinating thoroughfare. This bewildering labyrinth of shimmering waterways composed of lakes, canals, rivers and rivulets is lined with dense tropical greenery and preserves Kerala lifestyles that are completely hidden by road. Traveling by boat along the Backwaters is one of the highlights of Kerala.

The boats cross shallow, palm-fringed lakes studded with cantilevered Chinese fishing nets and travel along narrow shady canals, where coir, copra, and cashews are loaded into the boats and lush vegetation and wildlife abound.


DAY 13: KOTTAYAM - THEKKEDY
Today we drive to Thekkedy Wildlife Sanctuary known for spotting elephants, sambhar, bison, spotted deer, tigers, leopards, malabar flying squirrels, stripe necked mongooses, etc. There are over 260 species of birds here; including Nilgiri wood pigeons, blue-winged parakeets, white bellied tree pies, laughing thrushes and fly catchers. Late afternoon nature walk at Periyar.

DAY 14: THEKKEDY - MADURAI Early morning boat ride at Periyar and then we drive from Thekkedy to Madurai, known as the Athens of the East, Madurai, the second largest city in Tamil Nadu is situated on the banks of the river Vaigai.

An ancient city, more than 2,500 years old, Madurai is believed to have been built by the Pandyan King Kulasekara in the 6th century BC. The city is said to have gotten its name from the drops of nectar (Mathuram) that fell from Shiva's locks when he came to bless its people for constructing a temple for him. Originally named Madhurapuri or the 'land of nectar', the name later was modified as Madurai.

From such legendary beginnings, the actual history of Madurai emerges sometime during the 3rd century BC when it was the prosperous Pandya's then capital which had trading contacts with Greece and Rome.

Our last nights in India will fittingly be at the Taj Garden Retreat. This on a plantation once owned by a British gentleman. It is extensively wooded; has superb bird life; and over five star accommodations including a swimming pool.

DAY 15 - 16: MADURAI Morning city tour and evening farewell puja ceremony in Minakshi temple.

DAY 16: MADURAI - BOMBAY- ABROAD Transfer to the airport

For more information on this tour or to design a customized itinerary
you may e-mail Ellen Lyon directly.
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