Get off the beaten path, explore in depth the rich culinary traditions of south India.Chef Vinod, who hails from Kerala and obtained culinary training from the institute of Hotel Management, Chennai will guide your culinary exploration every step of the way.In addition you will have the opportunity to interact with and get culinary demonstrations from leading chefs immersed in the local culinary traditions.
This 13 day culinary expedition around South India with renowned Chef Vinod begins on India's beautiful east coast with a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mamallapuram. Guests will travel through bustling Bangalore to the historic city of Mysore to experience some traditional Karnataka cuisine and visit the lively local market. Chef Vinod will introduce travellers to the exotic tastes of 'Moppilla' cuisine in Calicut before arriving in Cochin on the Arabian Sea coast. After enjoying a cooking class and exploring the local market, guests will be whisked to charming Alleppey, for a charming backwaters cruise, and onto serene Kumarakom. The last stop on this gastronomic adventure is Kovalam, where Chef Vinod will organize a beachside BBQ and a sumptuous farewell feast.
This tour is being organized in collaboration with : Indus Travels.
winner of the best tour operator award to India given by the Government of India.
Day1 : JAN 31 ARRIVAL CHENNAI TRANSFER TO COVELONG
On arrival at Chennai airport your Tour escort will meet you outside the customs gate and escort you in an air-conditioned Indian made deluxe bus to Covelo (35km/approx 1hr drive). Overnight in Vivanta by Taj Fisherman’s cove.
Day2 : FEB 01 MAMALLAPURAM EXCURSION (B/L/ D)
Start your morning with a trip to Mamallapuram - Its enviable position on the Coromandel Coast, facing the Bay of Bengal, guarantees that this is a popular place to visit. Spend time on the white-sand beach shaded by casuarina trees and hire a bike to pedal through the surrounding countryside but make sure you allow time to explore this wonderful open-air museum, much of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the sightseeing highlights include Arjuna’s Penance a wonderful bas-relief covering two huge boulders. The exquisite detail dating from the 7th century depicts the flow of the Ganges down from the Himalayan mountains as well as scenes from Indian daily life, The Five Rathas - these shrines are carved whole from an outcrop of rock. Each of the five temples is dedicated to heroes from the great epic of the Mahabharata. Spend time admiring the detail of the carvings which include gods, humans and elephants. Visit the Shore Temple by the seaside overlooking the Bay of Bengal with landscaped gardens surrounding it is dedicated to both Vishnu and Shiva. Today’s most memorable experience will be a South Indian thali meal which is served on Banana leaf! This is a well balanced meal with dishes that include rice, dal, vegetables, flat breads, yoghurt, chutney, pickle, papad and a sweet dish. Chef Vinod may insist you try eating this like the locals-without the use of a knife or fork!!!!! Return to Hotel and relax. Evening Enjoy the fresh catch of the day cooked with Bay Spice - local peppers, coriander and tamarind. You'll relish the seafood broth with shredded vegetable, diced seafood and a peg of tender coconut water.
Day3 : FEB 02 MAMALLAPURAM – KANCHIPURAM –BANGALORE
Today we depart from Hotel and Drive to the impressive temple town of Kanchipuram covering a distance of 60kms in approx 1.5 hour. Known as the Golden City of a Thousand Temples, it is one of the oldest towns in India. It is famous for both its temples and its hand-woven silks. Most of the temples which were built during 7th and 8th century AD are well preserved. The prominent temples of Kanchipuram are Ekambareshwar Temple, Kamakshi Temple etc. Kanchipuram silk is famous all over the world. Visit the local homes of the weavers and watch them create magic out of silk thread into saris. Return to Mamallapuram to catch a flight to Bangalore. Tonight Chef Vinod welcomes you to the Taj West End hotel to experience a well contemplated Anglo Indian Menu that draws inspiration from the British Raj. The fusion food that emerged during those day’s thus became a staple of the Country’s Anglo- Indian Population. Plunge back into time and indulge in a menu conceptualized with a colonial touch. Overnight in Bangalore
Day4 : FEB 03 BANGALORE – MYSORE (140km/3.5h) (B/D)
Begin with a visit to the botanical gardens at Lal Bagh conceived and laid out by Sultan Hyder Ali in 1760. His son, Tipu, expanded the gardens further planting exotic plants from Persia, Kabul, Turkey, and Mauritius (tropical and subtropical species) over 96 hectares (240 acres). Highlights include the Lawn Clock and the British-built glasshouse, structurally based on London's Crystal Palace and then drive to Mysore - You will be charmed by the faded grandeur of Mysore, the former capital of the much loved Wodeyars dynasty who reigned from the 16th century. We will visit the Royal palaces, sacred temples and majestic buildings but leave enough time to stroll through some of the city’s many parks, gardens and wide leafy boulevards. Evening enjoy an exclusively designed menu by Chef Vinod that features traditional Karnataka cuisine, dinner will be a love of labor, full of nostalgic memories-a very special treat indeed! Overnight in Mysore
Day5 : FEB 04 MYSORE (B/D)
Morning we visit Devaraj Market – A most colourful local market, Chef Vinod is on hand to explain the spices, fruits and vegetables, the home made sauces and pastes, pickles and the many varieties grains, rice and lentils sold here. Pick up some to bring home and impress your guests at your next Indian dinner party! Chef Vinod will give you special tips and recipes too! Next visit the Mysore Palace - once home to the royal family. Admire this treasure trove of works of art from all over the world. If you are in Mysore on a Sunday or national holiday don't miss the spectacle of the palace illuminated by thousands of light bulbs. Jaganmohan Palace houses a collection of 19th century paintings by skilled Indian artists who used natural vegetable and mineral dyes. Enjoy the traditional Mysore 'gold leaf' paintings which are on display here. Evening Head up Chamundi Hill for panoramic views of the city spread out below before exploring the exquisite hilltop temple dedicated to the goddess, Chamundi and dominated by a 40m-high gopuram (tower). Make a short stop at the huge statue dedicated to Nandi, the bull of Lord Shiva, on the way down. This evening enjoy Mughlai food at Olive garden (windflower). Mughlai food is known for its richness. It is famous for the exotic use of spices, dried fruit and nuts. The Mughals did everything in style and splendor and Chef Vinod will explain the layering of the spices that gives each preparation an exotic taste and flavor. Taste Saffron, almonds, raisins, apricots and pistachios in the dishes prepared specially for you tonight. Overnight In Mysore
Day6 : FEB 05 MYSORE – CALICUT (210km/5h) (B/D)
Drive to Calicut and visit Beypore, a prominent port and fishing harbour of ancient Kerala. Visit the fish markets with Chef Vinod who will point out the many varieties of seafood caught fresh daily off these shores and the special ways the locals prepare it for their families. Later venture into town and visit the Sweet Meat Street with many colourful shops. Visit the Boat yards in Beypore, which have been building vessels since early centuries for legendary seamen. The astounding feature is the way in which the boats are built wherein the skilled craftsmen build boats based on just experience-without any drawings or charts. You can also visit a century old tile factory founded by the Germans and later acquired by the British. The century old machinery and systems that are still in use to produce tiles and bricks make for a very interesting visit. Check in to you resort. Tonight enjoy a special dinner featuring Moppilla Cuisine -The cuisine of Kerala Muslims, well known for its delicate blend of spiciness and subtle mix of ingredients that add a touch of the exotic! The Mappilas of Malabar love eating and cooking has developed into an art-form that is perfected by every girl by the time she gets married. Ask any Mappila man, and he will swear by his mom's 'Thalassery biriyani'. Mappila cuisine is one of the most exotic, and yet, one of the least known, of India's major cuisines.
Like any regional cuisines, Mappilas have also developed a cuisine that makes the best use of locally available ingredients. As such, most dishes are made from various forms and combinations of rice, banana, coconut and egg, besides of course, meat. In addition, the Muslim tradition of using lots of dry fruits can be seen even here. Over night in Calicut
Day7 : FEB 06 CALICUT- COCHIN (B/ D)
Today we drive to Cochin -Kochi- with its wealth of historical associations and its beautiful setting on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas, the fascinating city of Cochin perfectly reflects the eclecticism of Kerala. Cochin now renamed Kochi, boasts of one of the finest natural harbors on the Arabian Sea coast and has been a port of call for foreign traders from very early times. Its cosmopolitan character is reflected in the many buildings and structures, which bear testimony to the different influences that the city has acquired from the world over. Cochin is a fascinating synthesis of old and new. This evening we go to the theatre for a Kathakali dance show - the epic Ramayana comes to life at a Kathakali performance, traditional Keralan dance, where the characters use larger than life gestures, wear outrageous costumes and dramatic make up. Enjoy your Dinner at The Malabar Junction – A superb, open-sided restaurant in the garden. It is known throughout India for its exceptional food (probably the best pasta in India!). Overnight in Cochin
Day8 : FEB 07 COCHIN (B/L)
This morning take a Cooking Class at house of Nimmi Paul. Nimmy and Paul have been involved in 'At Home' hospitality for more than twelve years.
Nimmy, a professional cookery instructor for more than twenty years offers food and hospitality to foreign guests. Nimmy and her husband Paul belong to traditional Syrian Christian community in Kerala. In keeping with the tradition of their families they enjoy having guests and serving good food.
Nimmy conducts cookery classes. She teaches guests the nuances of traditional Kerala recipes. She is also a food consultant to writers, chefs and magazines. Articles by her and about her have appeared in magazines and newspapers
We will also arrange for Market trip –like visit vegetable market and spice market. Guests are also provided the opportunity to enjoy a meal with an Indian family whereby they can enjoy delicious food in homely ambience and get an opportunity to interact with members of the host family on a personal level and experience the nuances of a joint family system. The unique experience brings tourists in close touch with the traditions; values and cultural ethos of this enchanting land. Afternoon visit the Jewish Synagogue built in 1568. Scrolls of the Old Testament and a number of copper plates inscribed in Hebrew script are preserved here. The building was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662 and rebuilt by the Dutch two years later. Continue on to visit St. Francis Church, the oldest church constructed by the Europeans in India. Built by the Portuguese in 1510; it housed the remains of Vasco de Gama for 14 years before it was transferred to Lisbon. His tombstone can be seen inside the church. Also visit the Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese in 1555. The Palace was presented to the Raja of Cochin as a gesture of goodwill. This was also known as the Dutch Palace, resulting from substantial renovation by the Dutch after 1663. The central hall was the Coronation Hall of the Rajas.
Day9 : FEB 08 COCHIN – ALLEPPEY – KUMARAKOM (85km/2h) (B/L)
This Morning we drive to Alleppey - Board a boat for a lazy few hours drifting along shimmering waterways passing coconut groves, a green patchwork of rice paddies and isolated villages where daily life is dominated by the rhythm of the waters. Pass boats laden down with cargo and fishermen throwing their nets from small rowing boats and watch small ferry boats busily crisscrossing the rivers Enjoy your Traditional Lunch served on Boat. Evening Disembark from House boat and further drive to Kumarakom - the enchanting backwater destination slumbers on the bank of the famous Vembanad Lake, which is a part of Kuttanad ('granary' of Kerala). The Vembanad Lake with its majestic canals, streams and distributaries along its banks weave an intricate and enchantingly beautiful web. Kumarakom is an unbelievable beautiful paradise!! The amazing shades of green of the vegetation that include mangroves, coconut palms, and paddy fields cover the verdant countryside. Arrive in Kumarakom and check in to hotel. Evening meal will be an informal feast with dishes chosen by Chef Vinod and specially prepared by the hotel chefs, perhaps Chef Vinod will prepare for you while you watch one of his signature dishes! where rooms will be pre-booked. Overnight in Kumarakom.
Day10 : FEB 09 KUMARAKOM (B)
Yoga enthusiasts will want to rise early for a morning session with a Yoga master in a serene setting at the hotel. Rest of the day will be at leisure for spa/ayurveda and independent activities. There are no planned activities today, just relax and enjoy your surroundings. Overnight in Kumarakom
EXCLUSIVE GALA MOCK INDIAN WEDDING WITH KERALA FEAST: Traditional Ceremony: Maintaining the chastity of the sacramental institute of marriage the traditional ceremony mainly involves three events. Beginning the traditional ceremony the Jaimala (exchange of garlands) takes place and therefore takes each other as husband and wife. The bridegroom thereafter takes the seven steps together known as Pheras taking oaths of loyalty and love to each other. Finally the Kanyadaan (giving away the bride) takes place when the bride's father or an elder brother gives away the bride to the groom with all the trust. The Indian wedding is all about colors, joy, rituals and fun.
The evening will also include:
1. Live performance of classical music of Kerala
2. Lavish buffet spread with live cooking
3. Stewards dressed in typical village style
Day11 : FEB 10 KUMARAKOM – KOVALAM (B)
Drive to Kovalam beach covering a distance of 195 kms in approx 6 hours. Kovalam is a renowned beach destination. With three adjacent crescent beaches, it has been a favorite of tourists, especially Europeans, since the 1930s. A massive rocky promontory on the beach has created a beautiful bay of calm waters ideal for sea bathing. The leisure options at this beach are plenty and diverse. Sunbathing, swimming, herbal body toning massages, special cultural programmes and catamaran cruising are some of them. Life on the beach begins late in the day and carries on well into the night. Tonight enjoy a beachside BBQ organized by Chef Vinod and meet some of the local chefs, fellow travelers and lovers of Indian cuisine! Overnight in Kovalam
Day12 : FEB 11 KOVALAM (B/D)
Day will be at leisure. Relax on the warm palm-fringed sands, rejuvenate your senses with some ayurvedic treatments, or wander along the headland. Standing at the old lighthouse you can watch the sky and waters burn as the sun sets over the Arabian Sea. Evening enjoy a sumptuous fare well dinner at your hotel; meet the executive resident chef and other staff who have worked so hard to create an unforgettable feast for you. Overnight in Kovalam
PLAN YOUR DAY AND CHOOSE FROM THE SUGGESTED OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES:
1. ORIENTATION CITY TOUR OF TRIVANDRUM. ALSO EXPERIENCE A RIDE ON LOCAL BUSES!
Visit Napier Museum & Art Gallery (Closed on Monday & National holidays). Built in the 19th century, this Indo - Saracenic structure boasts a natural air conditioning system and houses a rare collection of archaeological and historic artifacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot and ivory carvings. Next visit Sree Chithra Art Gallery (Closed on Monday & Wednesday forenoons) - located near the Napier Museum, this art gallery displays select paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, Svetlova and Nicholas Roerich and exquisite works from the Rajput, Mughal and Tanjore schools of art in India. Further visit the Kanakakunnu Palace - the palace and its sprawling grounds are today the venue for many cultural meets and programmes and the University Observatory - located at the highest point in the city, near the Museum complex 60 meters above sea level, one can have a bird's eye view of the city from here.
In order to give the guests a more authentic experience, we will arrange a short ride using local buses. An amazing sight to watch! These colorful buses are part of every day life!
2. A SHORT MOVIE EXPERIENCE AT A LOCAL THEATRE
Enjoy the experience of an electrifying local Malayalam movie flick at a local theatre just as the locals do!
Day13 : FEB 12 DEPART FROM TRIVANDRUM (B)
After breakfast, our representative will escort you to Trivandrum International airport (30 min approx) for your flight to onward destination.
Hotel Check out time 11.00am
From US $ 4995/- for more information please e mail - Raju@indus.travel or call toll free :
Toll Free (USA & Canada) +1 866 978 2997