Tamil Nadu and Kerala Tour, India

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Tamil Nadu and Kerala Tour, India

Environment

We work with local providers that are committed to best practices in terms of environment protection and local community benefits. Our excursions maintain small-group sizes to limit the negative environmental impact in accordance to the carrying capacity of the visited site.

In the tours, we strongly request each guest to help in protecting the nature by being responsible during their journey. That means we are trying to keep the extra unneeded waste to a minimum in all our tours through our “bring it in, bring it out” policy for litter and rubbish such as food packaging and recycling wherever possible.

Also in our UK and local offices we re-use or recycle the information booklets we provide to every client on arrival wherever possible. We moreover concentrate on providing information online via our website and electronically rather then producing a glossy brochure, hence reducing the use of paper and inks.

Environment & Food
With your visit to Kerala, you encourage a state that has taken important steps in increasing locally produced and organic foods in the last years. Kerala is now meeting over 70% of its demand for vegetables on its own compared with just 20% a few years ago. Large tracts of land are now being converted for organic cultivation. Initiatives by government agencies, social organisations and farmers are all participating in what is becoming an organic farming revolution in Kerala, that will not only benefit the environment and our planet, but also your health.

Accommodation
We choose responsible resorts as much as possible for you. Your tour will include stays at three CGH Earth Hotels. CGH Earth offer tourism respectful of nature and local ethos, in search for new harmonies. Most CGH Earth Hotels adopted the construction methods of the Ooralie tribe of Periyar and the fishermen of Mararikulum.

Coconut Lagoon is one of them. It is a celebration of harmony, life and natural beauty that touches every sense and takes you into a world still unsullied by modern ways. More than 8 of Coconut Lagoon’s 30 acres are given over to rice cultivation, particularly the medicinal 'njwara' variety. Coconut Lagoon abounds in rare plants, butterflies and birds (90 varieties of birds). With its conservation efforts, the resort hosts the rare Vechoor cows, the smallest cows in the world who give only very little milk, as well as the rare Darter bird. Other green initiatives include an experimental solar powered boat, a biomass digester to turn garden and kitchen waste into rich soil, functional art to recycle plastic bottles and a weekly village clean-up to help clear the neighbouring village of accumulated garbage.

The second CGH Earth Hotel is the Spice Village in Periyar. Spice Village is the essence of a mountain tribal village, re-imagined for the modern independent traveller, curled around a misty ridge 2,000ft high in the Periyar vastness, with fruit trees, rare herbs and a profusion of flowering plants. Hewn stone replaces shag carpets. Birdsong takes the place of television.  Spice Village grows its own produce and a profusion of medicinal herbs too. The whole of Spice Village is a chemical-free zone. The sprayer you'll hear most afternoons is actually helping the ecology, not harming it. It uses only oils extracted from the forests, mixed with a little water. Little clay pots dotted about the grounds provide natural mosquito control, as does the camphor burner in your room and the incenser use in the afternoons. It burns Black Damur, a powerful tree resin that insects hate. Even the strings of aloe vera plants hanging from the verandah thatch serve a purpose, keeping flying pests away from the dining areas. The tennis court has a natural mud surface, almost all the energy needs of Spice Village are met by solar power.

Wildlife
By visiting Kerala you encourage a state that offers shelter to some of the best and rarest plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species. Naturally there are many wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala that have been developed to look after and preserve the wide variety of birds and animals.

The trip includes precious time at the Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve. Zealously guarded and managed, the reserve is a repository of rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna and forms the major watershed of two important rivers of Kerala, the Periyar and Pamba. People oriented and park centered community based ecotourism is the hallmark of Periyar Tiger Reserve. Programmes are conducted by local people responsible for the surveillance of the vulnerable parts of the reserve. By taking tourists along, they are involved in the conservation of the forests of Periyar and some valuable revenue is generated for community welfare. People who once made a living by illegal operations in the forests have since become forest protectors and earn their livelihood through these programmes.

Our local partners are part of TOFT (Travel Operators for Tigers), a pioneering international collective action campaign to advocate, plan, support and fund the protection, conservation and rewilding of natural wilderness and their wild inhabitants, especially tiger habitat, through the clever and wise use of nature tourism, using better visitor guidance, more community involvement, targeted green investment and enhanced governance and monitoring.

Overall, on our nature tours our guides are trained and actively promoting practices such us not disturbing wildlife, keeping a safe distance to wildlife, reducing production of disturbing sounds, prohibiting feeding, avoiding litter at all times, using water sparingly and not polluting with harmful detergents, avoid being intrusive when taking photographs, dressing appropriately and in subdued colours when wildlife watching, etc. We encourage guests to respect and follow the lead.

Culture & Buildings
Tamil Nadu and Kerala are full of important colonial architecture and heritage sites. You will encourage the preservation of cultural sites such as the Sacred Heart Church, the Chettinad Temples who were originally built by early Tamil dynasties like the Cholas and stand testimony to the spiritual beliefs of local people, or the Meenakshi Temple, a historic Hindu temple that forms the heart and lifeline of the 2,500-year-old city of Madurai. Part of the entrance fees go to the Archaeological Survey Of India who helps maintain the monument sites.

Community

We work with local partners who genuinely commit to encourage and involve the local community in the best way, requesting potential friends from the local area first, like local home stays, guides and restaurants.

We make sure our staff has fair working conditions. As per need, colleagues attend trainings conducted by different institutions, for example programmes towards skill development for teams. Employees are also offered family trips to enhance product knowledge on a regular basis.

The CGH resorts we select for you endeavor to employ people from local community, be it the naturalist who guides you through the wilderness or the therapist who rejuvenates your mind and body. CGH instituted community based programmes that helped rehabilitate poachers and smugglers. Local tribes were taught organic farming techniques, which helped them to prosper and preserve their way of life. CGH Earth have adopted the local culture and way of life as a form of respect for the local heritage and traditional modes of living. They set up market mechanisms such us purchasing produce from the local community only.

For the Spice Village for example, the tribals' lives are tied to theirs. For the tribes, Spice Village is not a hotel, but a source of employment, and a place where they can get better rates for their pepper harvest. They are also the mainstay of the organic garden, putting spanking-fresh produce on the table each day.

In Kochi, our experienced local guide will take you on a very special tour in Fort Cochin, providing you with rare and researched insights about culture, heritage and spiritual history of the city and its diverse buildings. We will take you for example to the oldest synagogue in all the Commonwealth of Nations, the Paradesi Synagogue, built in 1568. It is run by the last and only Jewish woman in India.

You also have the possibility to witness a very special and sacred Kathakali dance, performed by the local dancers, which tells stories from the ancient Hindu epic – Ramayana and Mahabharata, and maybe a Kalari spectacle, demonstrating parts of the origin of Martial Arts.

If you do want to shop, then we will take you to local collectives where local women of that very region craft there products and help keep the money earned in that very community.

Another way of embracing more of India's wisdoms and culture and connect with the locals in authenticity is through your stay at the Pondicherry Ashram. It has been created "with another object than that ordinarily common to such institutions, not for the renunciation of the world but as a centre and a field of practice for the evolution of another kind and form of life which would in the final end be moved by a higher spiritual consciousness and embody a greater life of the spirit."

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