25 December, Thursday
Arrive by AI 805 at 10:10 PM. You are met and transferred to your hotel.
26 December, Friday
You visit the historic Kala Ghoda Area, the heart of the Fort Mumbai area. A feast of architecture ranging from Gothic to art deco, the area is a lively area to explore on foot, Street vendors, cafes, galleries, local cricket matches and food stalls all find place to exist in this area. The tour will end at the soaring Victoria Station, a land mark of the area. A UNESCO world heritage site, it is a busy station for both local commuter and national rail services. This part of the walk will be led by a student from the architectural college.
Later you drive to Churchgate Station to watch a very typical Mumbai trade – the Dabbawallahs. These are the men who are key to keeping the white collared work force of Mumbai fed, delivering over 200,000 thousand home cooked meals collected from homes in the distant suburbs and always delivered right on time to the right person. Using a system of colors and codes, the Dabbawallahs meet in front of Churchgate station, rapidly segregate the steel Tiffin carriers (which all look exactly the same) into areas and depart with their load. Their time management and operations is impeccable, resulting in a Six Sigma rating by Forbes Global and study done by Harvard
Later walk in Chor Bazaar, the thieves market, the lanes crammed with bric a brac ranging from genuine antiques, vintage Bollywood posters, and other treasures. You will return to your hotel via the Dhobi Ghat a large open air laundry and a sight unique to the city.
27 December, Saturday
In the morning you will walk down to the Gateway of India and will you will board a private launch for a one hour journey across the harbor to the cave temple at Elephanta. Carved out of solid rock, and dating to the 6th century, Elephanta is one of the remarkable 2500 cave temples in India. A gentle climb of 140 steps takes you to the caves. All along the way the path is lined by stalls selling a remarkable range of souvenirs, and the occasional monkey entertains you. If the climb is too much, sedan chairs are available to carry you up. The cave here is dedicated to the Indian deity Shiva, and the sculptures here are considered to be masterpieces of Indian art.
Bombay occupies a proud chapter in Jewish history that echoes with lost tribes, shipwrecks and remote villages. At its peak by 1950, Bombay supported a Jewish community of about 35,000, made up of the indigenous Bene Israel overlaid with Jews from Baghdad. Though the community has dwindled to 3,500, it does its best to celebrate Jewish events with vibrancy and joy. You will explore this heritage with a guide from the community.
28 December, Sunday
Just after midnight you are transferred to the airport for departure on UL 142 at 03:05 hrs.
12 January, Monday
Arrive Cochin by Sri Lanka Airline flight UL 167 at 2:05 PM. You are met after you exit immigration and custom and you will be transferred to the Brunton Boatyard. The transfer will take a little over one hour.
13 January, Tuesday
Kerala, and especially Cochin, was one of the main ports of the spice route. The history of Kerala reflects the significant influences these foreign visitors left behind. Christianity first came to India through Kerala, and the Islamic influence in the state can be seen when traveling north. Even after they left, the cultural influence is still seen in the architectural inheritance of Fort Cochin and in the cuisine. The areas are a jumble of antique and spice shops, and souvenir shop leading to the Synagogue, the oldest in India. It is a fun area to wander at leisure.
The area s a jumble of antique and spice shops, and souvenir shop leading to the Synagogue, the oldest in India. It is a fun area to wander at leisure. Later you meet your guide at a designated time you continue back to your hotel stopping along the way on Bazaar Street, famous for its spices and antiques.
You can visit some of the exhibitions which are part of the Kochi- Muziris Biennale, an annual international art festival that showcases art from India and overseas. Showing in various galleries and cafes and restaurant the activities will range from contemporary art to the performing arts.
14 January, Wednesday
In the morning you explore the Heritage Zone, Which with its varied architectural styles highlights Cochin’s history of being occupied by various foreign rulers. In this area, which is protected, is St Francis’ Church, first established by the Portuguese in the 1500s. This is one of the earliest European churches in the country. The simple facade served as the prototype for future churches here. Vasco Da Gama was buried here in 1524 before his body was taken to Portugal 14 years later. You will also visit the Santa Cruz Cathedral which was built in the late 19th century and has impressive murals on its ceiling. The walking tour ends at the Chinese Fishing Nets, which were first erected between 1350 and 1450 indicating trading ties with China.
15 January, Thursday
Today you drive an hour and a half to the Kumarakom Lake Resort. Nestled amongst the tropical greenery of the backwaters, it has panoramic views of the Vembanad Lake.
The rest of the day is at leisure.
Hotel Kumarakom Lake Resort
16 January, Friday
The morning is at leisure.
In the afternoon you will board your houseboat, and you will have a leisurely journey through the Kuttanadu area of the backwaters. This is one of the few areas where farming is done below sea level, and as you travel through the labyrinthine maze of canals and waters ways you will pass paddy fields, banana and coconut plantations, small villages and boats commuting between villages and ferrying children to school and farmers to the markets.
You disembark at 5:30 PM and drive an hour and a half to Cochin where you have an early dinner before continuing to the international airport for your onward flight.
Meals Breakfast, Lunch