Beaches and Backwaters
Arrive Mumbai by an international flight. After clearing immigration and customs formalities you are met by a representative from First Tours India and transferred to The Oberoi Mumbai located on Marine Drive, the famed boulevard along the coast in South Mumbai. The hotel is an hour's drive from the airport and only minutes away from the heart of Mumbai's business district and South Mumbai's shopping and entertainment areas. Mumbai is a long, narrow promontory covering 166 square miles, which juts into the Arabian Sea. Its downtown is the historic Fort Area in South Mumbai that derives its name from earlier colonial fortifications. This is the city's nerve centre, with the best known sights, hotels & restaurants.
The Oberoi Mumbai
Today explore the Kala Ghoda area that teems with museums and art galleries, educational institutions, boutiques, restaurants and the finest array of heritage buildings in the city of Mumbai. Visit Prince of Wales Museum housed in an impressive building designed by George Wittet to commemorate the visit of Prince of Wales to India in 1905. The museum has a good collection of ancient Indus Valley artifacts dating back to 2000 BC and some priceless Tibetan and Nepali Art. The chief attraction here is the collection of over 2000 miniature paintings from the various art schools of India. Also visit National Gallery of Modern Art, the Jehangir Art Gallery that holds short term exhibitions of contemporary art, Victoria Terminus, Crawford market, Hanging Gardens, Kamla Nehru Park, Jain Temple and Mani Bhawan – Gandhi's Mumbai base between 1917 & 1934, this house is now a permanent memorial to the Mahatma. En route to your hotel stop on the Mahalaxmi Bridge to see the extraordinary activity at Dhobi Ghat, the largest open air laundry of the world.
Fly to Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is the state capital of Tamil Nadu and the gateway to the rich and varied culture of the South India peninsula. Originally a cluster of fishing hamlets along the Coromandel Coast, the city developed its cohesive shape under the British. Today, it is South India's commercial and cultural capital, and the fourth largest metropolis in India. Arrive Chennai and transfer to Taj Fisherman’s Cove Resort & Spa, a snug resort built on the ramparts of an old Dutch fort. Set amidst 22 acres of whispering casuarinas and palm trees, the resort is located on Covelong beach offering a view of the enthralling Bay of Bengal. In the afternoon enjoy a short excursion to Mahabalipuram, a UN World Heritage Site, and explore the Pallava period cave temples, monolith temple chariots and relief sculptured rock panels. Set in a boulder-strewn landscape on the Bay of Bengal this 7th century city is called to be a sculptor's delight which boasts some of India's most sublime rock-cut art. The spectacular Shore Temple perched dramatically on a promontory by the sea has a low boundary wall with rows of seated Nandis surrounding it. Placed inside are a reclining Vishnu, a 16-faceted polished linga and reliefs of a composite form of Shiva with his consort Parvati and sons Skanda and Ganesh.
Taj Fisherman’s Cove Resort & Spa
Begin touring of Chennai visiting the Kapaleswar and Parthasarathi temple complex. The Kapaleswara temple is a 16th century Siva temple with a 40 meter Gopuram or gateway, built after the original was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1566. Dedicated to Lord Krishna as the royal charioteer, the 8th century Parthasarathi temple complex shows five of Vishnu's 10 incarnations. Also visit Fort St. George – Britain's first bastion in India, St. Mary's Church – the oldest Anglican church in Asia, San Thome Cathedral, Chennai High Court - a masterpiece of Indo-Saracenic style architecture and University building. We suggest hot lunch at Annalakshmi Restaurant which serves fine south Indian food in a beautiful environment. After lunch visit the Government Museum that houses the world's most complete and impressive selection of Chola bronzes and stone sculptures from South India and the Deccan. Return to your resort en route visiting Dakshinachitra. This heritage village on the Coromandel Coast provides a fascinating glimpse into the homes and lifestyles of the southern Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
This morning fly to Kochi and transfer to Taj Malabar Resort & Spa, located on Wellingdon Island with magnificent views of the harbor and the beautiful backwaters. Kochi, better known as Cochin, is Kerala's most cosmopolitan city and also its main trading centre for spices and seafood. Built around a saltwater lagoon of the Arabian Sea, Kochi is in fact a collection of narrow islands and peninsulas. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure. This evening you are guests for dinner at the private home of Nimmy Paul to experience Kerala cookery and her warm hospitality.
Taj Malabar Resort & Spa
Today visit the Dutch Palace also known as Mattancherry Palace built by the Portuguese in 1557 as a gift for Raja Veera Kerala Verma of Kochi in exchange for trading rights. The main highlight of the palace is the series of murals painted on the wooded walls. Proceed to the 1568 Synagogue located at the heart of Jew Town. The synagogue's treasures include beautiful silver and gold Torah scrolls, a multitude of hanging oil lamps and crystal chandeliers, and a superbly crafted brass pulpit. The floor is covered with exquisite hand-painted blue willow-pattern tiles which were brought from Canton in the mid-18th century making it one of the most striking places of Jewish worship anywhere. Later enjoy a walking tour of the old streets of Fort Kochi to discover this historical town. The area of Fort Kochi was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and has now been declared a Heritage Zone to preserve its many historic buildings. Also visit the spice market where the air is filled with the pungent smell of spices, the Chinese fishing nets along the Vasco Da Gama Square; Santa Cruz Basilica, a church built originally by the Portuguese and was proclaimed a Basilica by the Pope John Paul II in 1984; the 1510 St Francis Church originally dedicated to Santo Antonio, the patron saint of Portugal; VOC Gate, the large wooden gate built in 1740 with the monogram of the once mighty Dutch East India Company carved on it; and the Indo-European style Bastion Bungalow built in 1667 on the site of the Stromberg Bastion of the old Dutch fort.
After a breakfast drive 2 hours through scenic countryside to the backwaters region of Alleppy. On arrival embark The Oberoi Motor Vessel Vrinda at 1 pm. Once on board, Vrinda sets sail along the main waterway on Vembanad Lake and enters the Alleppy canal. Lunch will be served on board. The cruiser sails along the scenic waterways for four hours and returns to the Vembanad Lake in time to watch the sunset. Later in the evening, enjoy a performance of the highly ritualized "Kathakali" dance which tells stories from the ancient Hindu epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata. Performances begin with the application of elaborate makeup which is based in traditional Ayurveda principles. The vessel will anchor for the night at the Vembanad Lake jetty.
The Oberoi Vrinda
At 7 am Motor Vessel Vrinda will sail from the Vembanad Lake jetty and head south, towards Alleppy. Breakfast will be served on board. The vessel will enter the waterways of the Pamba River through the Alleppy canal. Sailing through scenic backwaters, guests can observe life along these "water highways" while passing through one of the few areas in the world where farming is done below sea level. The vessel will anchor near Kanjippadam and you will be transferred to a traditional rice boat to navigate through the narrower sections of the backwaters. For the next few hours, you will observe and experience a way of life unique to this region, accompanied by a guide. This section of the cruise includes a visit to the half-statue of Lord Buddha at Karumadi and a traditional Kerala Theravada (family residence). Later in the day, return to M.V. Vrinda where lunch will be served as the boat passes through picturesque stretches of the backwaters on the way back to Alleppy, known as the "Venice of the East". Motor Vessel Vrinda will anchor for the night at the Vembanad Lake jetty.
At 7 am Motor Vessel Vrinda will sail from the Vembanad Lake jetty and head South, past Kanjippadam. M. V. Vrinda will anchor near Chambakulam where you will transfer onto the rice boat once again for a pre-lunch sightseeing excursion. You will visit St. Mary's Church, established by St. Thomas in 1721 and Sree Bhagavathy Kshetram - a 100-year old Hindu temple to Mother Goddess - at Nedumudy. Guests can also explore the Chambakulam snake boat yard, which displays one of the traditional long snake boats used in races. After cruising through the backwaters in the afternoon, Motor Vessel Vrinda will return to Vembanad Lake, where you can enjoy a "Mohiniattam" recital on board. This classical dance form, distinctive to Kerala, is also called the 'Dance of the Enchantress'. Dancers attired in beautiful traditional costumes perform with slow, graceful movements and highly emotive expressions.
At 8 am Motor Vessel Vrinda will sail north along the main waterway channel on the Vembanad Lake. Breakfast will be served on board following which the vessel will return to the Vembanad Lake jetty. After completing check-out formalities disembark from The Oberoi Motor Vessel Vrinda and transfer directly to Kochi airport in time for flight to Goa. Arrive Goa and transfer toTaj Exotica Resort & Spa, a graceful oasis of luxury and tranquility. Located on the southwest coast of Goa, overlooking the Arabian Sea, this Mediterranean-style resort is one of the finest luxury resorts in Goa. Set amidst fifty-six acres of lush gardens, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa is a showcase for relaxation with tropical-inspired design touches, grand architecture, a sun-drenched atrium, wide shady corridors, and flower lined patios for a memorable stay.
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa
Visit Velha Goa or Old Goa, the Portuguese capital until the mid-18th century. At one time a byword for splendor, with a population of several hundred thousand, this impressive ghost city of Old Goa has been granted World Heritage status for its magnificent complex of cathedrals, churches and monasteries. It houses two of Goa's most important religious monuments, the Basilica de Bom Jesus and the grand Se Cathedral and ends on Holy Hill, where some of Goa's oldest churches are located. Most of these buildings designed by Italian or Portuguese architects encompass a range of European styles from sober Renaissance to exuberant Baroque and Portuguese Manueline.
The tiny state of Goa located along the Konkan Coast is one of India's most popular holiday destinations with its idyllic beaches, lush paddy fields, coconut plantations and villages dotted with pretty white washed churches and grand mansions. Goa's distinct culture is a legacy of its colonial past. In 1510 Alfonso de Albuquerque established a small but powerful Portuguese enclave here. Though Goa became a part of the Indian Union in 1961, evidence of the 400 years of Portuguese rule is still apparent in the people's dress, language, religion and cuisine and in their music. The day is at leisure to experience Goa's easy going ambience, good food and the salubrious climate that has made Goa one of the most popular spots in South Asia.
Fly to Mumbai and transfer to Taj Santacruz where day-use room is reserved. This luxury hotel is a mere 10 minutes from the international airport.
Today depart Mumbai with colorful memories that will add untold pleasure to last for a lifetime.