to INDIA is not
for everyone. Independant travel and tours to
India are for travelers wanting cultural
wildlife, nature and tigers;
the heart and
spirit of diverse
and varied cultures;spiritual journeys;
art and architecture;
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.
Celebrate Culture, Nature and Spirit
(other itineraries available -- create the one to match your imagination)
November - Mid March is the best time to travel to south India.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
15 - 16: MADURAI Morning city tour
and evening farewell puja ceremony in Minakshi temple.
DAY 16: MADURAI - BOMBAY- ABROAD Transfer
to the airport
more information on this tour or to design a customized itinerary
you may e-mail Ellen Lyon directly.