South India Food Tour | Join-In Tour | Pyala Travel - Travel Program
Learn why South India is the gastronomic center of India! Prepare to experience a whole new world of flavor and culture as India and her incredible cuisine transform your taste buds forever.
South India Food Adventure
Learn why South India is the gastronomic center of India!
Prepare to experience a whole new world of flavor and culture as India and her incredible cuisine transform your taste buds forever.Learn traditional family recipes, prepare an authentic Indian dinner, experience local hospitality, and sample streetfood
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Day 1 arrival CochinArrive in Cochin. An ancient port town, Cochin attracted traders and invaders from all over the world.
Meander through the old districts of Mattancherry and Fort Cochin where the various European influences are most apparent with merchant houses and old warehouses cramming the waterfront and narrow streets. Starting with the huge cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that droop towards the waters like over-sized hammocks the St. Francis CSI Church, the oldest European church in India built in 1503, where the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama was originally buried and pass by the finest Santa cruz Basilica. Take a tuktuk – the most popular mode of transport among the localities, go along with your local tour and stop at the Dhobi Khana (laundry station), once throbbing with activity, it is now a picture of slow extinction. Continue through the small streets of Mattanchery. Arrive at the Fruit market on Palace road where locals get a variety of fresh and organic produces at bargains prices. Don’t miss a stop at the Spice Market, where exotic odors of the finest ginger, cloves, cardamom, turmeric and pepper emanate from the spice warehouses lining the street. Visit the Jewish Synagogue at the heart of what is locally called the Jew Town, and finally stop at the Dutch Palace with its beautiful mural paintings from the 17th century.
Day 2 CochinAfter breakfast, stroll through the local spice and fish markets in Fort Cochin and visit the St. Francis Church, Dutch Palace, and Jewish Synagogue. Then it’s back to the hotel for an introduction to Indian and Keralan cuisine, followed by a cooking demonstration with an emphasis on seafood.
Witness the Onam celebration in Kerala to mark the homecoming of the Great King Mahabali. It is also said to mark the harvest season for Kerala. Enjoy the Onamsadya Lunch.
In the evening, the epic Ramayana comes to life at a Kathakali performance, traditional Keralan dance, where the characters use larger than life gestures, wear outrageous costumes and dramatic make up. Overnight in Cochin In the evening, the epic Ramayana comes to life at a Kathakali performance, traditional Keralan dance, where the characters use larger than life gestures, wear outrageous costumes and dramatic make up.
Day 3 Cochin - KumarakomDrive to Kumarakom, enchanting Kerala backwater destination famous for its islands, coconut lagoons and paddy fields
Afternoon proceed to Farm to enjoy cooking demo. The cuisine is predominantly Syrian Christian with a strong backwater influence. Most of the dishes served are centered on fish, farm vegetables and fruits, duck, chicken.
Overnight stay in Kumarakom
Day 4 KumarakomTake a short backwater cruise. Experience the daily lives of the locals from the decks of a house boat. Pass women washing their clothes in the river and farmers bathing their buffalo; watch as fishermen and vegetable sellers go from house to house by boat selling their wares; pass villagers standing up to their necks in water gossiping with their neighbour. Enjoy tasty local meals as the boat drifts along and watch as the sun sets over the ever-changing scenery before retiring to your cabin to be lulled to sleep by the gently lapping water.
Take a cooking lesson to sharpen your skills.
Day 5 Kumarakom - PeriyarDrive to Periyar for a cooking demonstration highlighting some of the fresh aromatic spices from the surrounding forests, such as nutmeg, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, tamarind, whole red chillies, and bay leaf.
The evocative name of the Cardamom Hills is home to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, a reserve on the Kerala/Tamil Nadu border which is surrounded by tea and spice plantations. Lush forest, with a vast lake at its heart, is home to many indigenous animals.
Evening cooking demonstration highlighting some of the fresh aromatic spices from the surrounding forests, such as nutmeg, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, tamarind, whole red chilies and bay leaf.
Day 6 PeriyarRise early to board a small boat for the chance to cruise the lake at the heart of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. From the tranquility of the lake, enjoy the lush scenery all around you and keep a look out for animals that may come down to the water's edge – maybe a family of elephants, scurrying Wild Boar or the magnificent Sambar Deer. Return hotel for Breakfast. Afternoon visit spice plantations, the Cardamom Hills are the ideal location to explore a garden where spices and other aromatic plants are grown. Overnight in Thekkady
Day 7 Periyar - MaduraiDepart from hotel and drive to Madurai – the old city of Tamilnadu. The name Madurai reminds the city of the legend that a drop of sweet nectar from the hair of the god Shiva fell to earth here. ‘Madhuram’ means ‘sweet’ in Sanskrit.
Evening participate in “Street Food trails” by walking the streets to see how daily life unfolds and connects to the delicious food you’ve been enjoying. Overnight stay in Madurai
Dag 8 MaduraiYou will wander the tailors markets and bazaars before visiting the Sri Meenakshi Temple, which lies at the heart of the city. Still active today, this ancient temple is a maze of lamp-lit corridors. The corridors lead to shrines where mysterious rituals take place. Something is always happening here – ceremonies, musicians playing, weddings, prostrating pilgrims, festivals – making it a compelling place to spend time and enjoy temple life. The temple is the geographic and ritual center of the ancient city of Madurai and divided into a number of concentric quadrangular enclosures contained by high masonry walls. It is one of the few temples in Tamil Nadu to have four entrances facing four directions. This temple has four towers each intricately decorated with thousands of colored figures. You could spend hours examining each tower. The northern tower is more bare, so as not to tempt the demons. There are eight more towers and a hall with a thousand decorated pillars. Our next stop is ThirumalaiNayak Palace of India is an example of architectural grandeur and was built by King ThirumalaiNayak in 1636 AD. The palace was designed by an Italian Architect and served as the residence of the King. Today, the palace is famous for its courtyard and the dancing hall. The paintings and sculptures in the shrine are fascinating.
Afternoon take a rickshaw tour to explore colorful Madurai. Actually this city is without a doubt the most spectacular city in Tamil Nadu. Through this tour you are going to explore banana market, cotton weaving industry, vegetable markets and Gandhi Museum.
Dag 9 Madurai - KaraikudiDepart from hotel and Drive to Karaikudi, a major town from the Chettinad region, which is famous for its heritage and traditions. The palatial mansions with their rare architecture make chettinad a place of rare charm, and a must-visit destination. Karikudi is also known for its cuisine.
Evening Participate Chettinad Cooking Demonstration: This regional cuisine in revered throughout India and is well regarded for its liberal use of spice, replacing chilli with pepper to impart a subtle heat to dishes. Chettinad cuisine also incorporates seafood, chicken and lamb, although Chettiars do not eat beef and pork. Learn to prepare famous Chettinad dishes including the signature chicken drumstick curry accompanied by mint chutney, and follow it with a sumptuous feast.
Dag 10 Karaikudi - Kumbakonam via TanjoreProceed to Kumbakonam. Stop at a tile manufacturing unit at Athangudi. Later drive to Tanjore, Visit Brihadeshvara Temple - This magnificent temple, over 1000 years old and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site evokes the power of the Chola kings as it towers over the town. Study the detailed inscriptions which depict temple life and the dancers, musicians, potters, goldsmiths and astrologers who lived there. Enter the pavilion in the main courtyard to view the shining black Nandi statue, one of the largest in India, and weighing an astonishing 25 tons.
Continue to check in Kumbakonam. Overnight in Kumbakonam
Dag 11 KumbakonamAwake up with a cup of Kumbakonam Special Degree coffee and after breakfast, Visit a legendary Vedic school when in old Kumbakonam Town. The Raja Veda Kavya Patasala has produced renowned scholars and pandits since its establishment in 1542. You will witness students of Vedic studies partaking in vedic chants – a meditative practice rich in spiritual traditions
If you would like to experience art as a cultural institution, visit Ramamohan’s house in Kumbakonam. There, he is keeping the ancient art form of Kalamkari alive and thriving. A heritage passed on from generation to generation in his family, he is now carrying the art form into its new age.
Later visit bronze manufacturing village ‘ Lost Wax Casting’ , watch master craftsmen use the ‘Lost Wax’ technique, to combine wax and soft clay from the river bed to make moulds for ornate bronze sculptures. Overnight in Kumbakonam
Day 12 Kumbakonam - MamallapuramCheck out from the hotel and drive to Mamallapuram, Enroute we’ll explore an organic farm called Solitude Farm owned by Mr. Krishna and enjoy lunch in their outdoor cafe. Solitude was started in 1996 by a group of young Aurovillians. One of them, Krishna McKenzie, inspired by the founder of the natural farming movement, Masanobu Fukuoka, developed the farm to completely incorporate natural farming and permaculture. No pesticides or fertilizers have ever been used on the land. McKenzie and his team practice non-tillage and no machines or tractors are used. Every part of this land is honored and respected and the food that comes from it is vibrant and full of taste. As Auroville houses and incredible community of artists, we’ll take the time to shop at the ashram’s boutiques before Continuing to Mamallapuram
Day 13 MamallapuramToday morning enjoy Cycle tour to explore the Seventh and eighth-century reliefs, rock temples, cave temples and "chariot" temples carved into the golden stone of the Coromandel Coast have made Mahabalipuram an astonishing UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Pallavas, one of Tamil Nadu's three great dynasties, dominated from the eighth to the eleventh century, building a thriving port here and growing rich on the lucrative trade with Southeast Asia. The town has a wonderful Shore Temple to Vishnu, built by the grateful merchants, as well as rock temples, over a dozen cave temples, constructed stone temples and some fine bas-reliefs - including the world's largest, the Penance of Arjuna.
In the afternoon, we’ll experience a traditional banana leaf thali lunch. India has a long-standing tradition of serving food on banana leaves. Especially in South India, eating food on banana leaves is considered healthy and auspicious. Most people use banana leaves to serve an authentic South Indian feast on festivals and family get-togethers. Banana leaves are loaded with nutrients and food served on banana leaves is enriched with several nutrients that we would otherwise miss.
Evening at leisure, Overnight Stay in Mamallapuram
Day 14 Mamallapuram - ChennaiDepart to Chennai Airport.
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