Kerala by Design
Day 1 – Arrival at Cochin Airport
At the heart of historical Fort Cochin you will be welcomed in traditional Indian custom. Check in at The Malabar House, member of Relais & Chateaus and winner of the Wold Travel Award 2014. The Malabar house offers you its eclectic mix of history, art, design and fine dining.. Be mesmerized with the cultural program of Kathakali, one of the olds forms of dance performance, noted for the attractive make-up of characters, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements. ( 300 per person)This is followed by a degustation dinner at Malabar Junction, the restaurant of Malabar House. "discover the flavours of Kerala', highlights of the local cuisine translated into a classical degustation menu by chef Manoj. ( 2000 per person)
Day 2 – Introduction of Cochin
After breakfast at the Malabar House we introduce you to the history Fort Cochin, the cradle of globalisation. Given in 1498 by the Cochin Maharaja to Vasco da Gama, it is India's oldest Indo – European town, governed by Portuguese, Dutch and British and till today the hub of the spice trade. Next to the Indo – European Fort Cochin is Mattancherry, the former capital of the Maharajas with its ancient harbour front, home of many communities like Kokanis, Gujaratis, Kutchi Muslims, Jews and Tamil Brahmins. All these communities have created their own settlements, including markets, temples, mosques and churches.
The oldest European Church in India, St Francis Church built in 1510, is just in front of their hotel. It is the place where the Portuguese navigator Vasco Da Gama was first laid to rest in 1502 – his tomb is still open to tourists for viewing.
Some of the mosques in Mattancherry date back to the 14th century. The synagogue in Jew
We also suggest to Visit the Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese in 1557 and subsequently renovated by the Dutch in 1663. It is home of some of the best mural paintings in Kerala. The Malabar House team will be delighted to listen to your interests and help you to put together a personalized program for the day. Whatever you prefer to do, sightseeing at the historical landmarks, browsing through antique shops or contemporary art galleries, fashion shopping or simply soaking up the everyday life in markets & Street, do not miss the sunset at the Chinese fishing nets, Cochins landmark just 5 minute walk from The Malabar House.
(A 3 to 4 hours sightseeing trip on a tuk-tuk is around 650)
In the evening we recommend you to discover the emergence of Indian wines, a wine degustation at Divine, the wine lounge of Malabar house. (1850 per person).
Day 3 – Despatch to Lake Vembanad
After the breakfast we will drive to purity on Lake Vembanad along the scenic beach road with its. The 50 km drive along a string of fishing villages will take you bit more than an hour. Through a narrow village lane you will arrive at purity on Lake Vembanad. Purity is Lunch will be served in the patio around the reflecting pond. The rest of the day is at leisure, relax at the infinity pool at the lakeside. A therapeutic Ayurveda treatment is already pre-booked for your convenience. Follow up the pampering with a candle light dinner at the lakefront.
Day 4 – Introduction to Kerala's water world
Every morning we invite you to a free yoga class. After breakfast at purity we suggest you a tour by tuk-tuk or car. We offer you 2 options:
Alleppey Town Visit
Mullakkal Bhagavathi Temple
This temple, located at the heart of Alleppey Town has a charming building in traditional temple building style of Kerala with a sloping tiled roof. The temple doors open into a wide quadrangle with a corridor in the centre leading to the sanctum. The temple walls are embraced by rows of oil lamps that, when lighted, makes the temple look glorious in the evening hours. Mullakkal Temple offers a quick glimpse of ancient temple architecture still prevalent in many temples across Kerala.
Lighthouse and Beach
A tall lighthouse that was build in 1862 one of the oldest light house on the south west cost .The approach to the lights is through a flight of wooden stairs in the narrow interiors of the tower. The balcony of the lighthouse offers a bird's eye view of the town to the east and the vast sea to the west. Not far from the lighthouse is the long beach of Alleppey, whose sands extend for several kilometres. An old jetty in the beach, now unused and in dilapidated condition is a reminder of the days when Alleppey seashore used to be an active port.
An ancient Jain Temple is located in a quiet lane in the heart of Alleppey Town. The centuries old temple has seen continuous renovations. The temple, built with marble walls is a curious departure from construction style of all structures that you will see in Alleppey.
Alleppey Local Market
Alleppey local market will give you a glimpse of the daily tenure of vegetables and provisions trade. Alleppey is 18 km from purity, the journey will take 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the traffic. Please allow half a day for this excursion. Cost for 2 guests 1600 by car, 900 by tuk-tuk
Arthunkal Church & Cherthala Town Visits
This tour combines the waterfront of the Arabian Sea with the backwater town of Cherthala. It is conducted on a tuk–tuk. The total distance is 28 km including return to the hotel.
The church, officially Arthunkal St. Andrew's Forane Church, Arthunkal was originally built by the Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century. It was rebuilt in 1584, under the then vicar Fr. Jacoma Fenicio, whom the devotees claim, possessed magical powers to heal the body and mind. Devotees fondly referred to him as "Arthunkal Veluthachan", which in English translates to "fair skinned father". Fr. Fenicio died in 1632. Eight years after his death, the church was rebuilt again, this time facing the west towards the long white-sand beach on the shores of the Arabian Sea. In 1647, a statue of St. Sebastian, struck with arrows all over his bleeding body (he was executed on the order of the Roman emperor for embracing the Christian faith) sculptured in Milan, was brought and placed in the Arthunkal church. Cherthala
A tour of the small town of Cherthala to see the local markets and the nearby Karthyayani Devi temple. Please permit 2 to 3 hours, cost for 2 guests 900
Take a swim or revisit the spa (optional) after your return. A complementary high-tea will be served in the late afternoon, we also invite you to canoe ride along the lake shore, including the visit of an operational Chinese fishing net. The a la carte dinner of the purity kitchen will be served at the place of your preference: on the lakefront, at the roofed patio or at the terrace of your suite.
Day 5 – Houseboat Cruise (Overnight Stay on the Houseboat)
Breakfast at purity. Toward lunchtime you board discovery, the Malabar escapes houseboat for a cruise through the many canals and waterways. Discovery is the most eco-friendly houseboat in the backwaters and has been listed repeatedly as one of the best houseboats in the world. The sun beds and the dining table on the upper deck become the grand stand while the daily life in the backwaters passes by. Passing through rivers and canals, you sit in the shade and enjoy a delicious meal.. Dinner & overnight stay is at the houseboat.
Day 6 - Despatch to Thekkady
After Breakfast check out at purity for the transfer to Thekkady. This is India's largest wildlife sanctuary and a dream destination for all tourists. Along this 4 hour drive you will go through into the panoramic Western Ghats from small quaint towns to rubber plantations into lush green tea plantations and scenic valleys up a winding road.
Check in at Niraamaya Retreats Cardamom Club, followed by a relaxed lunch.
Visit acres of verdant groves and enjoy a guided spice plantation tour. Experience how spices such as cardamom, pepper, vanilla, nutmeg and cloves are grown. These exotic and fresh spices make for a great takeaway.
You are at leisure. Dinner will be served at the retreat.
Day 7 - Introduction to the Periyar
Today you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to adventure!
Choose between a 4-km trek from within the retreat to Mount Miracle at dawn, a great opportunity to catch the local wildlife such as the Gaur or 'Indian Bison' and various species
Or look out for one of the rarest animals on earth. The Periyar Tiger Sanctuary is one of the few places where these big cats can prowl freely. Elusive as they may sound, even if you can manage to catch a flash of yellow and black; you will return awed and inspired.
Or, experience an elephant back ride - an absolute must-do. Our elephant trainers will accompany you to the jungle camp where you can ride and bathe these gentle giants. End this amazing tour by feeding elephants by hand.
For lunch today our Chef will organise a handy backpack which offers delectable gourmet delights. Post your return to the retreat, your evening is at leisure. Enjoy the calls of exotic birds that surround you or enjoy a quiet read over mountain coffee made with beans from our own garden.
This evening we take you to watch Kalaripayattu - the oldest form of martial arts indigenous to Kerala with careful measured movements the clash of swords guaranteed to leave you mesmerized. The performance will be followed by dinner at the retreat.
Day 8 – Thekkady Gavi jeep safari
Our team has organised a plethora of choices! For a genuine safari experience, we will travel by jeep into the dense reaches of spice hills in Gavi. The safari will take you through all forms of terrain - valleys, tropical forests, sprawling grasslands and cascading waterfalls. It includes three hours of trekking and two hours of paddle boating. Try and spot the rare lion tailed macaques, the yellow-necked Nilgiri marten, Salim Ali's fruit bats, black bears, wild elephants and tigers. Or
If you are game for a little more adventure, you can opt to go bamboo rafting down the Periyar Lake. Steer your craft through dense forests, skirt the rapids we assure you will come back with a new respect for the wild.
Breakfast and lunch is organised in a quaint hamper for either excursion.
Your dinner today is Niraamaya special BBQ dinner and bonfire. End the blissful day with our sundowners, stargazing at the bright blanket of stars that stretch across a clear night sky, before a crackling bonfire.
Day 9 – Despatch to Kovalam
Post breakfast, we drive you to Kovalam. This 5-hour drive will take you through the villages and towns in Kerala.
Check-in at Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra followed by lunch. You are at leisure for the evening. The only spoiler will be the spa treatments lined up for this evening. You will be treated to 60 minutes of Abhyanga Snana, a blissfully rhythmic body massage with warm medicated oils that facilitates circulation and relieves fatigue and body aches.
At 6PM, we will entertain you with a performance centred on Carnatic music - Indian classical music. An authentic Kerala dinner tweaked to the sensibilities of your palate will follow.
Day 10 - The glorious heritage of Kovalam
Pre-dawn tea will be served at Niraamaya's pristine secluded beach. Watch the spectacular Kovalam sunrise and the play of colours over the majestic Arabian Sea
Visit to the local fish market at 6AM with our celebrity Chef. The open air fish market which is situated at the harbour where the boats come to unload. It has such an energetic atmosphere that you just have to keep your camera going. The view across the harbour looks past the big Old Catholic church right on the beach and two distant mosques at the far end.
Back at the retreat your breakfast awaits, post which we will take a trip around Kovalam to experience the local attractions.
We first take you for a look around the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. This ancient temple is the most dominating feature of Thiruvananthapuram. The temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu who is depicted reclining on Sri Anantha, the hooded snake from which the city derives its name. It has been in the news for one of the richest treasure troves ever found – supposedly known to be even richer than the Vatican. After that we walk down an amazing bazaar street. This colourful market is Kerala's hidden treasure and a prime shopping destination for the 'daring' buyer only. At the end of the bazaar we reach Ganapathy temple with a chance to enter. Please note photography is not allowed at this divine place of worship.
Today's lunch is an amazing Sadhya meal served on a banana leaf in Thiruvananthapuram's famous 'shabby chic' restaurant. After lunch, we head on to Kuthiramalika Palace museum, where you will get a glimpse of classic Kerala Architecture. The palace, with its excellent carvings and amazing architectural designs, is by itself a slice of heritage. The museum has a wide range of exhibits representing the erstwhile state of Travancore.
Post your return you are at leisure, however do not miss the sunset over a cocktail at the Madira Bar. Dinner of your choice will be served at the retreat.
Day 11 – Backwaters, Sun, Sand & Sea
You start your day with sunrise Yoga on the platform by the cliff overlooking the majestic Arabian Sea for 30 minutes. This light workout will be followed by breakfast at Cafe Samsara.
A short 20-minute drive south of Niraamaya retreats, the Poovar estuary so named by the erstwhile king Marthanda Varma of Travancore, was the epicentre of trade in sandalwood, spice and ivory. We transfer you to a motor boat that cruises through pristine coconut groves on either side of the river leading you to the Golden Sand beach where you can see where backwater meets Arabian Sea. Enjoy a special picnic hamper that our chef has prepared and relax in this amazing spot over a glass of chilled wine.
On your return, the boat will take you through a pristine mangrove forest, before you transfer back to retreat. Back at the retreat enjoy a classic high tea on your porch while your pre-booked spa therapy awaits, Niraamaya Sync for 60 minutes. It has two skilled therapists, in perfect synchrony kneading away all your tension. This is the ideal anti-stress therapy.
Day 12 - A day of divine wellness at Kovalam
This is a day designed primarily for relaxation and self-discovery. You start your day with sunrise Yoga on the platform by the cliff overlooking the majestic Arabian Sea. This light 30 minute's workout will be followed by breakfast at Cafe Samsara.
Our objective is to ensure you return home not just rejuvenated but with an empowered inner self. Your wellness program will continue with 30 minutes of Shirodhara at Niraamaya Spa. A relaxing therapy with lukewarm medicated oils gently poured in a stream over the forehead. Shirodhara is known for diffusing mental tension and easing headaches, improving sleep and strengthening hair roots.
This will be followed by 60 minutes of Abhyanga Snana Classic. This is a traditional massage with warm medicated oils administered by two therapists with synchronized movements. This ancient therapy perfected over 5000 years improves blood circulation, relaxation and enhancing energy flow. Lunch will follow post your therapies.
Optional retreat walkthrough accompanied by our naturalist. He will introduce you to the flora and fauna at the retreat and also take you through our home grown organic garden. You will also learn of all the environmental friendly initiatives at Niraamaya. Hi-tea will be organized at the ancient wishing well during your walk around. This evening during Dinner we present a traditional Kerala cultural show.
Day 13 – Post breakfast, despatch to Trivandrum airport
Room Category: Roof Garden Suite in Malabar House, Vembanad Suite at Purity, One bedroom Suite on Discovery, Deluxe Room in Thekkady and Rock Garden Suite at Surya Samudra.
1st January 2017 till 30th April 2017, Euro 5400 for two adults + 2 kids up to the age of 6 years on room sharing basis
1st May 2017 till 31st October 2017, Euro 4200 for two adults + 2 kids up to the age of 6 years on room sharing basis
The price includes: Pickup from Cochin airport, transfers between all the properties Room at Malabar House & purity on Room and Breakfast (CP)basis, discovery, Cardamom Club Thekkady and Niraamaya Surya Samudra on Full board (AP). Cruise on the electric propelled country boat. Free use of cycles and sailing dinghy. Free use of Internet. All applicable taxes.