Native indian woman

India: Faces of India

28 December to 22 January

Day 1: Wednesday 28 December, Depart Adelaide for India via Singpaore to Kolkata

Overnight stay at Hotel Peerless Inn

Day 2: Thursday 29 December, Kolkata

Sightseeing tour in Kolkata taking in some of the city highlights; Visit the Jain temple, Parasnath and the Kolkata Indian Museum established long back in 1814 in the Asiatic Society Building which was founded by Dr. Nathaniel Wallich, a botanist from Denmark. It is one of the earliest museums established in the world and considered the largest in the country. In 1875, it was shifted to the new building in Italian architectural style designed by Walter B Grawille. Opened to public in 1878, the museum has over 60 galleries under six main sectors of Art, Anthropology, Archaeology, Geology, Industry and Zoology. Drive past the Maidan, Fort William, Raj Bhawan.

Lunch followed by the visit of Victoria Memorial - A splendid example of British architecture, this building was built in memory of Queen Victoria and was inaugurated by Prince of Wales in 1921 possibly the most awesome reminder of the Raj to be found in India. Further optional visit to Missions of Charity, Mother Teresa’s Home.

Overnight stay at Hotel Peerless Inn

Day 3: Friday 30 December, Kolkata – Bhubaneswar

Early morning, drive to airport to connect the Indian Airlines flight to Bhubaneswar Upon arrival in Bhubaneswar, continue with the visit of Udaigiri & Khandagiri caves located some 6 km west of city. These two hills are riddled with caves some ornately carved and are believed to have been chiseled out by Jain ascetics in the 1st century BC. Further visit the “ Museum of Man” an anthropological research centre for tribal customs, beliefs, rituals and languages. Check in at hotel.

After lunch, tour of Parsurameswar Mandir, one of the best preserved ornate Shiva temples in the capital built in about 650 AD with a cluster of 20 smaller temples around. Further visit Mukteswar and Rajarani temples.

Overnight stay at Mayfair Lagoon

Day 4: Saturday 31 December, Bhubaneswar

Morning, visit the most outstanding 54m high Lingaraj Mandir dedicated to Tribhubaneswar, the lord of the three worlds, Bindu Sagar - an ancient water tank believed to contain water from every holy stream in India. Scattered around this holy tank are smaller temples and shrines. Also visit the State Museum. Afternoon: free, Evening: New Year’s Eve Dinner

Overnight stay at Mayfair Lagoon

Day 5: Sunday 1 January, Bhubaneswar – Pipli – Konark – Puri

After breakfast drive to Puri, en route visiting Pipli and Konark. Pipli is a small village notable for its brilliant appliqué craft. We then proceed to Konark to visit the mighty Sun Temple, a World Heritage site and one of India’s most important architectural sites. Thereafter drive on to Puri.

Overnight stay at Hans Coco Palms Beach Resort

Day 6: Monday 2 January, Puri – Raghurajpur - Gopalpur on Sea

Puri is one of the four most important Hindu pilgrimage sites in India and situated on the Bay of Bengal. In Puri, visit the great Jagannath Mandir (from outside) dedicated to Vishnu, the Lord of the Universe. Then drive to Gopalpur-on sea en route visiting Raghurajpur village. We arrive at a place called Chandanpur from where we take a rickshaw ride to go to Raghurajpur village.

Raghurajpur is the village of artists and set on the southern bank of river Bhargavi surrounded by Coconut palms, Mango, Jack-fruit groves and other tropical trees. The houses here are arranged in two neat rows facing each other. In the centre runs a line of small temples dedicated to Bhagabat and Bhusani (the village Goddess of Grama Devati), Radha Mohan, Gopinath, Dasabhuja, Raghunath, Laxminarayan and Gourang. The village has a community of artisans who produce different varieties of handicraft items like patta paintings, palm leaf engravings, stone carvings, making of wooden toys and masks, wood carving, “tussar” paintings etc. The most preserved work till today is the “patta” painting.

Drive to Gopalpur-on-sea (210 Kms/ 4-5 hrs) visiting Chilka Lake en route. Chilka Lake is one of Asia’s largest brackish lagoons 1100 sq. km in area and host to a million or more migratory birds.

Overnight stay at Swosti Palm Resort

Day 7: Tuesday 3 January, Gopalpur-on-sea – Rayagada via Taptapani

From the peaceful blue water beach of Gopalpur drive to Rayagada (226 Kms/6 hrs) visiting the hot springs of Taptapani on the way. Rayagada lies close to the rolling hills and forests of the Eastern Ghat, home to Orissa’s indigenous tribes.

Overnight stay at Hotel Sai International

Day 8: Wednesday 4 January, Rayagada – Chatikona – Jeypore

In the morning proceed to Chatikona to watch the interesting colorful weekly market (on Wednesday) of Doms, Desias and Dongoria Kondh tribes. Dongoria Kondh tribe is one of the most ancient tribes of India living in the high slopes of the Niyamagiri Hills. These people are horticulturists. Men wear ear-rings, nose-ring and keep their hair long like women making a side-bun. Later, drive down to Jeypore visiting Desia Kondh & Jharia Paroja villages. (Total distance - 205 Kms)

Overnight stay at Hello Jeypore

Day 9: Thursday 5 January, Jeypore – Onukadeli - Lamptaput – Jeypore

In the morning drive to Onukadeli to see the fierce Bonda tribes when they come down to trade at the weekly market on Thursday. They live in the remote hills and keep themselves isolated from the world. The Bonda women are noticeable by their bead necklaces, striking brass and silver ornaments and their shaved heads decorated with leaves. Later, proceed to Lamptaput and the nearby villages to see another interesting and ancient tribe of Orissa called Gadabas. They are one of the early settlers of this country and trace their origin to the time of the sacred Epic “The Ramayana” (180 Kms)

Overnight stay at Hello Jeypore

Day 10: Friday 6 January, Jeypore - Visakhapatnam – Chennai

Very early this morning we drive south over hilly terrain and flat land along NH-43 and NH-5 to arrive the coastal city of Visakhapatnam (225Km/5-6Hrs) in the state of Andhra Pradesh to connect the flight to Chennai (IC 7477 ETD VTZ 14:45 ETA MAA 15:50). Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel in Chennai city. Rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight stay at Hotel Radha Park Inn

Day 11: Saturday 7 January, Chennai – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram

In the morning, tour of Chennai city, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, along with the visit to the bronze gallery of the Government Museum (closed on Fridays and public holidays), which has a superb collection of Chola bronze art. Later drive to Mahabalipuram en route visiting the golden city of Kanchipuram, one of the seven sacred cities of India famous for its temples and silk saris & weavers.

Overnight stay at Quality Inn MGM Beach Resort

Day 12: Sunday 8 January, Mahabalipuram

Full day tour in Mahabalipuram, which includes Shore Temple which is an architectural wonder created between 600–750 AD, Arjuna’s Penance - one of the world’s largest and finest relief carving constituting a rich and engrossing tale of Hindu mythology and the Ganesh Rathas. I am currently seeking permission to visit the recently found 2000 year old brick temple belonging to the late Tamil Sangam period at the beachfront at Saluvankuppam beach head near Mahabalipuram uncovered by the recent Tsunami waves.In the later afternoon, visit Dakshinachitra art village followed by dinner.

Overnight stay at Quality Inn MGM Beach Resort

Day 13: Monday 9 January, Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry

Drive to Pondicherry (135 Kms/ 3-4 hrs), the former French colony, which is a charming Indian coastal town with few enduring pockets of French culture and an ashram dedicated to Aurobindo. Afternoon free.

Overnight stay at Hotel Annamalai International

Day 14: Tuesday 10 January, Pondicherry – Chidambaram – Thanjavur (Tanjore)

Drive to Chidambaram (55 Kms/ 2 hrs) to visit the famous Lord Natraja’s (dancing Shiva) Temple, Tamil Nadu’s stunning Dravidian architectural highlight. Late afternoon, drive to Thanjavur (117 Kms/ 3 hrs), the ancient capital of the Chola kings.

Overnight stay at Hotel Parisutham

Day 15: Wednesday 11 January, Thanjavur

Full day tour in Thanjavur, which includes the visit to Brihadishwara Temple – the crowning glory of Chola temple architecture and the fascinating monument enlisted as World Heritage site, Thanjavur palace and the museum.

Overnight stay at Hotel Parisutham

Day 16: Thursday 12 January, Thanjavur – Tiruchirappali (Trichy) – Madurai

Drive to the historic town Tiruchirappalli (Trichy). In Trichy, we visit the city’s famous landmark, Rock Fort and the Temple situated on 83 m high rock and the island of Srirangam Temple. Trichy is also described as Rome of the east. Drive further to Madurai via Karaikuddi/Chettinadu visiting a unique village of the Chettias known for their sharp business acumen who have constructed grand mansions in their place of origin that lie vacant. Special lunch at Chettinad Mansion to sample their exotic cuisine. Proceed on to Madurai.

Overnight stay at Fortune Pandiyan Hotel

Day 17: Friday 13 January, Madurai

Madurai is one of south India’s oldest cities and has been a centre of learning and pilgrimage for centuries. Visit Sri Meenakshi Temple – a spectacular pastiche of Dravidian architecture, Tirumalai Nayak Palace – an Indo-Saracenic palace and the museum. Evening visit the madurai market. Sri Meenakshi can be visited at night to witness the evening rituals associated with the goddess and her consort as they return by great wheeled temple carts to their respective shrines each evening. Music, dance and ritual accompany the processions.

Overnight stay at Fortune Pandiyan Hotel

Day 18: Saturday 14 January, Madurai – Cape Comorin

Drive to Kanyakumari (231 km/5-6 hrs). Kanyakumari is the “Lands End” of the Indian subcontinent, where the Bay of Bengal meets the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. It is a pilgrimage town where people fulfill their spiritual duties.

Late afternoon, visit Vivekananda Puram, the museum that displays an exhibition titled “The Wandering Monk”, which details the extensive journey made by the Hindu philosopher Swami Vivekananda. Further, continue with the visit of Kumari Amman Temple.

Overnight stay at Hotel Singaar International

Day 19: Sunday 15 January, Cape Comorin – Kovalam

Morning, visit Vivekananda Memorial located on the two rocky islands about 400m offshore. Swami Vivekananda meditated here in 1892 before setting out as one of India’s most important religious crusaders. After the visit, continue on to Kovalam (110 km/3-4hrs) visiting Sucheendram temple, a “Tri-Muti” temple of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. (Men to remove shirts, shorts and colourful clothing is prohibited)

Overnight stay at Estuary Island, Poovar

Day 20: Monday 16 January, Kovalam

Day is at leisure at this renowned tropical beach of Kerala. Possibility of optional Ayurvedic massages and to see the Kathakali dance performances or school visits.

Overnight stay at Estuary Island, Poovar

Day 21: Tuesday 17 January, Kovalam – Pallathuruthy – Alleppey (Alappuzha)

Drive to Pallathuruthy (98 Kms/2 hrs) to board the houseboat for an overnight backwater cruise to Alleppey. With the Arabian Sea in the West and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers criss-crossing it, Alleppey is a place of immense natural beauty with diverse animal and bird life.

Overnight stay on Houseboat

Day 22: Wednesday 18January, Alleppey – Kumarakom

Disembark from houseboats and drive from Alleppey to Kumarakom (50 Km/1.5 hr) Check in at your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure to relax and explore on own.

Overnight stay at Abad Whispering Palms Resort

Day 23: Thursday 19 January, Kumarakom – Cochin (Kochi)

Early morning, visit the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. Return to hotel for breakfast. After breakfast drive to Cochin, with the visit of the temples of Mannanam & Ettumanur en route. Transfer to your hotel.

Afternoon, sightseeing in Cochin, which includes the visit to the Church of St. Francis Xavier, Mattancherry Palace, Jewish Synagogue and the ancient Chinese Fishing nets. In the evening, we witness the Kathakali dance performance.

Overnight stay at Hotel Abad Plaza

Day 24: Friday 20 January, Cochin – Singapore

The day is free for personal activities. Late evening, transfer to the airport to connect the Silk Air flight to Singapore and on to Adelaide.

Sunday 22 January, Arrival Adelaide International Airport 09:05
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