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Onam Festival Group Tour

Duration:
9 days / 8 nights
Destinations:
Cochin, Periyar, Kumarakom, Alleppey, Mararikulam
Price Guide:

Prices from £1250 based on hotels shown in the itinerary

 

This group tour starts from Cochin on 24th August 2020

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Overview

This Onam festival group tour starts from Cochin on 24th August 2020

Immerse yourself in the sights, tastes and energy of Kerala on this unique holiday that features the Onam celebrations. From traditional cookery demonstrations to spotting elephants in the Periyar tiger reserve and the wonderful backwaters, this adventure includes some must-see places with the Onam celebrations as its highlight.

The most significant festival in the state of Kerala is undeniably Onam, known as the Festival of Rain Flowers. It involves 10 days of dancing, performances, food offerings and intricate floral displays to honour the return of the mythical Asura King Mahabali to earth. Held in either August or September each year, at the start of the Malayalam Calendar, the first and tenth day of Onam are the most important. 

Originating from a Hindu celebration, nowadays all different religions celebrate Onam together with Malayalis wearing their finest traditional clothes. The large, multi-coloured Pookkalam flower motifs can be admired at many of the key places we visit as well as outside local homes. One of the most spectacular performances is the tiger dance, where dancers’ bodies are painted with tiger’s faces. You will also hear music from the Onavillu ceremonial bow as well as cheering from the many boat races.

Please remember all our private tours are designed to meet your exact requirements, and this tour is just an example to help inspire you.

Celebrate Onam in Kerala Group Tour - 9 Days / 8 Nights

See the best of Kerala on this wonderful tour which features the Onam festival as its highlight.

  • 2 nights Cochin
  • 2 nights Periyar
  • 1 night Kumarakom
  • 1 night Alleppey
  • 2 nights Mararikulam

Code: GRCOC003

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Day 1 - Arrive in Cochin

Upon arrival at Cochin International Airport, you will be welcomed by your Authentic India Tours representative who will transfer you to your hotel, one of the top historic hotels in the area.

This evening you will experience a traditional Kathakali performance, a Kerala classical dance famed for its colourful costumes and athletic movements. We recommend arriving early, to see the artists apply their intricate makeup. If all this cultural sensation works up an appetite, you will relish the seafood speciality restaurant arranged for dinner.

Accomodation: Brunton Boatyard Hotel or similar
Meals included: Welcome Dinner
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Day 2 - Cochin

Today you get to explore Cochin a melting pot of cultures, religions and nationalities. You will see St Francis Church, which is the oldest European church in India, as well as the lavish 16th century Jewish Synagogue. Then you can explore the Mattancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace due to its colonial influences.  The afternoon is at leisure, so you may wish to wander around the quaint cobbled streets which house a number of interesting antique shops.

This evening is all about discovering Keralan cuisine as we visit the local fish market and then the home of local foodies Nimmy and Paul. Nimmy has been a professional cooking instructor for more than 20 years and is passionate about serving great food with homespun secret recipes. She will teach you about the intricacies of typical Keralan delicacies and will cook a traditional meal in her home that's sure to fill you up.

Accomodation: Brunton Boatyard Hotel or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 3 - Cochin to Periyar

In the morning, we leave Cochin and drive up beautifully winding roads to the Plantation Bungalow at Kanjirapally. Here you can sample some of the best authentic Keralan cuisine, cooked by traditional Syrian Christians in traditional ways which have been used for generations. Your lunch will be served on the generous front lawns of the Plantation Bungalow, under a large mango tree and surrounded by singing birds.

After lunch we continue to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, for a stay at the tribal village setting of your first class Spice Village hotel. In the evening, learn from the local experts about the magical and unique spices grown in the region.

Approximate travel time and distance: 4 - 5 hours, 170 kms

Accommodation: Spice Village or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 4 - Periyar

When you think of Indian wildlife, the Periyar wildlife sanctuary is probably what you imagine. Before breakfast, the more fearless travellers will have the chance to discover the Periyar Tiger Reserve on foot with a local tribal tracker, whose unique expertise in the area will make this trek a wonderfully rewarding experience.

Then, in the late afternoon, we will take a boat ride on Lake Periyar for a chance to see various species of wildlife in their natural habitat without disturbing their way of life. From the comfort of a covered boat keep a look out for wild elephants, bisons, sambar deers, nilgir langurs, malabar giant squirrels and a wide variety of birdlife.

Accommodation: Spice Village
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 5 - Periyar to Kumarakom

Today, you will descend from the Western Ghats through the lovely countryside to the small village of Kumarakom, hidden in the backwaters off the South Eastern end of Vembanad Lake and Kerala's backwater canals.

You will be transferred to your heritage hotel, Coconut Lagoon, via a short boat trip. Take some time to relax and enjoy the scenery because come the evening it's time for another boat ride through the narrow canals and across the lake, giving you an intimate glimpse at village life along the shoreline.

Approximate travel time and distance: 4 hours, 150 kms

Accomodation: Coconut Lagoon or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 6 - Kumarakom to Alleppey

Spend a laid back morning going on a gentle stroll around the lake, relaxing by the pool, or indulging in any of the other activities that your hotel has to offer. After that it’s time for a once in a lifetime experience – an overnight stay on a luxury houseboat.

You will board your private houseboat from the your hotel jetty, then just sit back and relax as an expert driver navigates you across Vembanad Lake and down the narrow canals of the backwaters. As you drift along the water keep an eye out for electric-blue kingfishers, snake birds and herons and take in glimpses of village life on the backwaters.An on board cook will cater for your every need, serving up Keralan delicacies, dishes infused with spices, aromatic curry leaves and fresh coconut. You’ll be lulled to sleep by the sound of the water and the gentle rocking of the boat. In the morning you’ll find yourself in Alleppey, known as the ‘Venice of the East’ due to its network of narrow canals.

Accomodation: Deluxe Houseboat
Meals included : Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
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Day 7 - Alleppey to Mararikulam

After a leisurely breakfast onboard the houseboat you will disembark at Alleppey Boat Jetty for a short drive to the quaint little fishing village of Mararikulam. 

You will be staying at the Marari Beach Resort and for the remainder of the day you can just relax by the beach or experience some authentic Ayurvedic therapies at the tranquil spa.

Approximate travel time and distance:

Accomodation: Marari Beach Resort or similar
Meals included : Breakfast
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Day 8 - Mararikulam

The day spent in Mararikulam is the highlight of the tour. This is where you'll experience and take part in the famous Onam celebrations. Indian festivals are grand affairs, and on this Kerala holiday you'll be immersed in the harvest celebration that commemorates the annual visit of mythical King Mahabali. You'll learn about this legend and take part in the festivities, with men wearing the traditional attire of Mundu and Kurtha and women wearing the Kerala sari.

You're one with the locals here, and welcome to partake in every element of Onam. You'll have the opportunity to make pookalams, the intricate floral arrangements of Onam, in various designs that are delicately laid on the floor. If it all gets your tummy rumbling though, the authentic local food of the Onam feast outshines them all. You'll indulge in the Onasadhya or Onam Sadhya vegetarian meal, where over 20 mouth-watering dishes are served on a banana leaf. It's the most central part of the Onam way of life, so don't be shy about tucking in to these massive, healthy portions.

Accomodation: Marari Beach Resort or similar
Meals included : Breakfast
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Day 9 - Mararikulam - Cochin Departure

The last day of your tour. You will say your goodbyes in the morning and then be transferred to Cochin International Airport in good time for you to make your return flight home.

Approximate travel time and distance: 2 hours and 30 minutes, 100 kms

Meals included : Breakfast

Accommodation

The accommodation during your Onam Festival tour is diverse and includes a hotel located in a former Victorian boatyard, a spice village heritage retreat and thatched cottages on the Arabian Sea.

Brunton Boatyard, Cochin

Located in a former Victorian boatyard in the Fort Kochi district, the Brunton Boatyard Hotel overlooks a waterway. What once stood as the site of a boat manufacturing business belonging to Geo Brunton and Sons, the building has been lovingly restored to provide travellers with a glimpse into 19th Century life in Kochi, complete with tall ceilings and traditional low hanging fans. This is a truly beautiful colonial property in a fabulous location.

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Spice Village, Periyar

Occupying a stunning position in the highlands of Thekkady, Spice Village is inspired by the dwellings of the Mannan Tribe. Using local materials rooms have thatched roofs made from elephant grass, perfect for keeping the temperature cool and allowing you to embrace the beauty of the natural surroundings. The Spice Village is a fine example of the Eco hotels on offer in India providing a unique back to nature experience combined with modern facilities.

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Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom

The award-winning Coconut Lagoon is located in a charming cove in Kumarakon on the Vembanad Lake, offering a unique and delightful setting. A scenic boat ride from a private jetty to reach Coconut Lagoon will ensure you witness beautiful Kerala scenery and get a wonderful introduction to this captivating resort. No two rooms are the same, they are quirky and inspiring, offering guests an experience like no other.

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Kerala Houseboat

Described as the 'Venice of the East', Allepey is a dreamland of interlinking canals and rivers and what better way to explore the exquisite Kerala backwaters than on a Houseboat? Offering an enchanting experience the houseboats are constructed from local and natural materials including bamboo, ropes and coconut fibre and are up to 120 feet long. With an onboard crew to cater to your needs you can sit back, relax and enjoy the cruise.

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Marari Beach Resort

Set on the white sandy shores of the Arabian Sea, the Marari Beach Resort offers an environmentally friendly, premium resort. The accommodation comprises of thatched cottages which are beautifully simple and sympathetic to the natural surroundings but feature all the mod cons that today's traveller expects. Whether you're looking to relax under a palm tree or enjoy the excellent activities programme the Marari Beach Resort hotel is an idyllic coastal hideaway.

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Destinations

The Kerala Onam festival tour has a destination for every traveller, from palm-lined beaches to the historical quarters in Cochin. Of course the highlight of your stay will be in Mararikulam, where the event's exciting celebrations begin. Below are more of the destinations you will explore on this tour.

Cochin (Kochi)

Cochin, also known as Kochi, is a port city located on an extensive network of waterways in the state of Cochin. It has been one of the primary gateways to the region for distant merchants and travellers since 1341. Cochin is a great place to start your Kerala holiday offering beautiful hotels, wonderful culture and architecture, friendly people and the opportunity for some retail therapy.

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Periyar National Park (Thekkady)

If you've ever dreamed of seeing elephants roaming free, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary offers you the chance of experiencing these beautiful animals in the wild from the comfort of a covered boat or car tour, without disturbing their way of life.

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Kumarakom

Hidden in the backwaters off the South Eastern end of Vembanad Lake in Southern Kerala is the small village of Kumarakom. Calm waters, lush greenery and abundant wildlife ensure that this is the perfect spot for total relaxation. The area offers beautiful quality award winning hotels and is ideally located to enjoy the Kerala backwaters. 

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Kerala Backwaters

Known as the ‘Venice of the East’, Alleppey is the gateway to the  Kerala backwaters, an intricate network of lakes and waterways. Here you’ll find thousands of houseboats, converted rice barges with distinctive curved roofs. Float along the backwaters on one of these luxury boats, gazing out onto the lime green paddy fields, coconut palms and tranquil villages that line the water’s edge. Watch the sun set on the water and fall asleep lulled by the gentle rocking motion of the boat.

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Mararikulam Beach

This village is known for the authentic and quiet Mararikulam beach lined by coconut trees. It’s aptly nicknamed the ‘secret beach’ and is a favorite of the Keralan beaches on offer among locals. Mararikulam also boasts the stunning Sree Mahadeva Temple, one of the oldest temples in India, and the only temple where the deities Shiva and Parvati sit facing each other.

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Dates, Pricing and Inclusions

This small group tour starts on 24th August 2020 from Cochin

The tour price starts from £1250

The Onam Festival tour operates with a minimum number of 4 and a maximum number of 16 travellers.

Included with this tour are the following:

  • Authentic India Tours meet & greet assistance on arrival
  • All transfers and sightseeing tours using an air-conditioned vehicle
  • Accommodation for 8 nights on twin sharing basis
  • Standard category rooms at all hotels unless otherwise mentioned
  • Meal plan: houseboat on full board; bed & breakfast elsewhere
  • Welcome dinner at the sea food speciality restaurant
  • Cooking class & dinner at Nimmy Paul's Residence
  • Lunch at plantation bungalow Kanjirapally
  • Onasadhya or vegetarian feast at Marari beach resort
  • Tickets for Kathakali dance show in Cochin
  • English speaking tour escort for the entire tour
  • Spice plantation tour in Periyar
  • Nature trek with tribal trackers in Periyar tiger reserve
  • Boat trip on Lake Periyar
  • Entrances at all National parks, Museums and Monuments as per the itinerary
  • Mineral water on all days of travel

Price does not include:

  • International flight tickets
  • Travel insurance and visa
  • Expenses of personal nature like laundry, tips, beverages etc
  • Meals other than mentioned in the above meal plan
  • Camera & video fees at National parks, Museums & Monuments

Prices mentioned above are per person based on two people sharing a twin room. The prices which were valid at the time of publication may be subject to change, based on your date of travel and local market fluctuations. You will be informed of any price differences prior to booking.

For a quote based on your dates of travel, any alternative accommodation or changes to this itinerary, please call us on 01792 315499 or email us at info@aitholidays.com