January 8-17, 2019
If you have been on our wonderful North India trips, this is a must do winter adventure. Southern India and Sri Lanka, do one or both this January.
The sights, sounds and aromas of India await as you wind your way through the lush landscapes and colorful markets of Kerala. The Portuguese, Syrian Christians, Jews and Dutch all left their mark on the cuisine and culture. One highlight is visiting during the Rice Festival!
It's Trichy's most important festival, celebrating the harvest with music and ceremony. It's a special thanksgiving to God, the Earth and the Sun.
Day 1 - Jan 9 Arrive Cochin
Fly to Cochin in the state of Kerala (D)
A Welcome dinner is scheduled this evening.
Gateway Ernakulum (Executive Sea Facing)
Day 2 - Jan 10 Cochin
In Cochin, visit the Portuguese church built by St. Francis in 1562, the Jewish Synagogue, the famed Mattancherry Palace, and learn about the Chinese fishing nets. Enjoy an evening presentation of the colorful Kathakali dance drama. Kathkali is a dramatic Hindu dance drama unique to Kerala utilizing vivid makeup and masks. (B)
Day 3 - Jan 11 Cochin to Kumarakom
Drive approximately 1 ¼ hours through rural India to Kumarakom.
Check in at COCONUT LAGOON. Your afternoon is at leisure. You may want to experience an Ayurvedic therapeutic massage, indigenous to this region, which is both relaxing and healing. We’ve arranged a sunset cruise before dinner. Coconut Lagoon (BD)
Day 4 - Jan 12 Cruise
This morning enjoy a boat ride through the series of canals and lagoons snaking their way through several tiny villages and tropical vegetation. Not only do the backwaters of Kerala link the state together, they are an integral element in maintaining ecological balance and creating harmony with nature. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon. (BD)
Day 5 -. Jan 13: Kumarakom / Madurai 6 hour drive
This morning drive to Madurai, the city that grew from drops of nectar that flowed from the locks of Shiva. We will stop on the way to visit a spice plantation. Many pilgrims throng the narrow streets. The Puja ceremony performed nightly at the Meenakshi Temple this evening is fascinating. Heritage Hotel Madurai (BL)
Day 6 - Jan 14 Madurai Sightseeing
Visit Shree Meenakshi Temple, ThirumalaiNayak Palace, the Gandhi Museum, and Mariamman Teppakkulam Tank, site of the annual Teppam, or Float Festival. (BD)
Day 7 - Jan 15 Madurai / Trichy / Chennai (Madras)
Depart after breakfast for Tiruchirappalli (Trichy) Spend the day enjoying the spectacle of the annual Rice Festival before flying to Chennai this evening . (B)
ITC Chola Sheraton (Executive Club)
Day 8 - Jan 16 Kanchipuram & Mahabalipuram Excursion
Journey to Kanchipuram, with its many temples and visit the three that exemplify this sacred town—Kailasantha and Ekambareshwara, dedicated to Lord Shiva, and Vaikuntaperumal dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Travel to the ancient Pallavan port of Mamallapuram and visit the last surviving shore temple, stone chariots and a bas-relief depicting Hindu legends. (BLD)
Farewell dinner this evening
Day 9 - Jan 17 Chennai (Madras) Sightseeing - Depart Chennai
The morning tour of Chennai includes stops at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bronze Gallery and Chennai Museum. The Fort St. George, San Thome Cathedral and Kapaleeswarar Temple complete your visit Bid India farewell and board your International flight home or continue to Colombo, Sri Lanka. (B)
Sri Lanka extension
Colombo / Anuradapura / Habarana / Kandy
Duration: 06 nights / 07 days
Day 1 - Jan. 17 Arrive Colombo (BD)
On arrival in Colombo, Sri Lanka you will be welcomed at the airport by a WTG/SITA representative, who will escort you to your hotel. Check in at your hotel. This afternoon your guide will introduce you to the sights and sounds of Colombo.
Drive through the commercial and city center known as the “Fort”, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century where grand colonial era buildings stand alongside dern office structures. See the vibrant markets and bazaars of Pettah, and the National Museum with its fine collection of lovely antiques and art of Sri Lanka. You could visit a Buddhist temple and a Hindu Kovil to experience the diversity of religion, ethnicity and customs of the people. Hotel in Colombo: Ozo Colombo
Day 2 Jan. 18 Colombo to Anuradapura (BD)
After breakfast set off to Anuradhapura and check in to your hotel on arrival. After a short rest, visit the sacred ancient city of Anuradhapura founded in the 4th century B.C a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982. It has the largest number of ancient monuments of the great Sinhala civilization which flourished in this region.
You will see some of the most famous as well as the tallest Stupas of Sri Lanka and the ruins of ancient royal palaces. Another amazing site is the ‘Sri Maha Bodhi’ or the sacred Bo tree which is over 2200 years old grown from a branch of the very tree under which “The Buddha” attained enlightenment - the oldest historically documented tree in the world. Hotel in Anuradhapura: Forest Rock Garden Resort
Day 3 Jan 19 Mihintale / Aukana (BD)
After breakfast leave for Mihintale. Visit the ancient remains of Mihintale, a sacred place which is regarded as the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The rock is dotted with shrines and rock dwellings. A grand stairway of 1840 steps made of granite slabs, 17 feet wide leads to the summit with its splendid views of the surrounding countryside.
Proceed to Aukana to see the statue of the Aukana Buddha. This is undoubtedly the most magnificent undamaged ancient image in the island. The 5th century statue ascribed to King Dhatusena is 13 meters high standing beneath a recently constructed brick shelter. Evening at leisure. Hotel in Anuradhapura Forest Rock Garden Resort
Day 4 Jan. 20 Anuradhapura / Polonnaruwa / Habarana (BD)
After breakfast continue to one of the ruins of ancient Ceylon - the UNESCO World Heritage City of Polonnaruwa, which was the Capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to 13th century. A well-planned medieval city defended by enclosing walls (around 3 mi. which still remain), graced by palaces, shrines, monasteries, pavilions, parks, ponds and irrigation lakes. Polonnaruwa is strewn with ruins in a resplendent state of preservation.
The ‘Gal Vihara’ which consists of statues of the recumbent, standing and seated Buddha have been cut from a single granite wall and rank among the true masterpieces of Sri Lankan Art.
After sightseeing leave for Habarana, a small village with excellent hotel accommodation, a central location for all the ancient city sites. Check in at your hotel on arrival and spend the rest of the evening at leisure. Hotel in Habarana Habarana Village
Day 6 Jan. 21 Sigiriya excursion (BD)
After breakfast leave for Sigiriya. Begin the morning by climbing the rock fortress of Sigiriya - a 5th Century "Fortress in the Sky". Built by King Kassapa the fortress was a Royal Citadel for more than 18 years. The lion rock ( UNESCO World Heritage Site) is a citadel of unusual beauty, rising 674 feet from the scrub jungle. The base of the rock is ringed by a moat and rampart and extensive gardens including the renowned water gardens. The majestic Lion’s Paw picturesquely guards the stairway of the palace on the summit. See the famous frescoes of the “Heavenly maidens” of Sigiriya in a sheltered pocket of the rock and the 10-foot-high Mirror Wall.
Evening at leisure. Hotel in Habarana Habarana Village
Day 7 Jan. 22 Habarana to Kandy (BD)
After breakfast leave for Kandy. En route you will visit a spice garden in Matale. You will check in at your hotel on arrival and once you are rested, continue on your tour of Kandy!
Kandy, the bustling hill country capital is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is famous for the pink painted Temple of the Tooth which houses the most sacred religious relic, the tooth of the Buddha, the Kandy Lake built in 1807 which is an attractive centerpiece to the town and the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.
In the evening you will visit the sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic. Thereafter enjoy the Kandyan Cultural show at the Kandyan Arts & Cultural Centre. The show features the graceful and rhythmic dancers and drummers culminating in an impressive fire walking display. Hotel in Kandy Cinnamon Citadel
Day 8 Jan. 23 Kandy to Colombo Airport (B)
After breakfast your chauffeur / guide will take you to the international airport in time for your return flight. Say farewell to a lovely tropical isle.