Tamil Nadu and Kerala tour, private departure

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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

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
In this historically rich tour we have chosen responsible heritage properties and homestays for you as much as possible to support the environment, local heritage and community. A special experience will be your farmstay at Dewalokam. Sustainable Travel is the motto of Dewalokam. Bio-diversity is maintained with the help of ayurvedic herbals and a variety of native fruit plants. The organic waste produced here is recycled with the help of fish, fowls, animals and a compost unit. Cooking fuel is produced with the help of a biogas plant and solar energy is tapped for the water heating system. They produce much more than they consume at the resort.

Dewalokam is an ancestral organic farm that produces fish, meat, eggs, milk, fruits and vegetables. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are not used here. The produce is purely for in-house consumption and not intended for the market. Hence, the demands of the market do not have any influence on the farm and its products. The guests are welcome to see and experience the abundance and diversity of mother earth here. This farm is not a tourist centre at all. Jose and Sinta, farmers by tradition and teachers by profession, started taking in guests to stay with them, because their elder brother visited the family farm with his friends in Germany. Soon, friends and family encouraged them to open the farm for paying guests. The place offers a freshwater pool and the farm has a rich collection of all spices like pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, turmeric and so on.

You will also stay at the Ambady Estate, witnessing rare and unique trees, flowers and herbs and fresh mountain air. Focus here is on the well-being of the soul and to bring you closer to nature. Ambady Estate was born out of love and respect for the Munnar Hills and its surroundings. Because very little of the once great rainforest of the Western Ghats had remained, and the fact that the Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas, it made them upgrade their ‘plant-a-tree’ concept to ‘Project Rainforest’, to recultivate the forest. When they endeavored to get organic certification for the plantation, they realized that there are many chemicals which are allowed in organic cultivation. The idea of 100% chemical free environment led them then to the unique principle of spiritual farming (2010), where absolutely no insecticides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used.

You will also stay at the Heritage Madurai. While the emphasis is on building an environment-friendly ‘green’ Resort, the Heritage Madurai ensures that the property’s historical value was carefully preserved. The old colonial bungalows have been refurbished maintaining the traditional South Indian flavor, only found in Madurai.

We work with local providers who 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.

On the tours, we strongly request each guest 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.

Nature & Wildlife
The trip includes natural wildlife time, nature walks, hikes and boat rides at the Periyar National Park and Periyar Lake. 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. It is notable as an elephant reserve and a tiger reserve. The protected area covers an area of 925 km2. 305 km2 of the core zone was declared as the Periyar National Park in 1982. 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.

You will also experience the Nilgiri Mountain or Blue Mountains. The Nilgiri Hills are part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (itself part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and form a part of the protected bio reserves in India. Over 2,700 species of flowering plants, 160 species of fern and fern allies, countless types of flowerless plants, mosses, fungi, algae, and land lichens are found in the sholas of the Nilgiris. No other hill station has so many exotic species.

Culture & Building
Part of your entrance fees goes to the maintenance of important UNESCO world heritage sites and important cultural and historic sites, such as the Mahabalipuram Temples. The group of monuments at Mahabalipuram is a collection of 7th- and 8th-century CE religious monuments and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site has 400 ancient monuments and Hindu temples, including one of the largest open-air rock reliefs in the world: the Descent of the Ganges or Arjuna's Penance.

Also the Shore Temple is part of the UNESCO group of the Mahabalipuram temples. It is so named because it overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal and it is a structural temple, built with blocks of granite, dating from the 8th century AD. It is one of the oldest structural (versus rock-cut) stone temples of South India.

Another important building you will visit is the 11the century Brihadishvara Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva in Tanjore. It is one of the largest South Indian temples and an exemplary example of a fully realized Dravidian architecture. The temple is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Great Living Chola Temples", along with the Chola dynasty era Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple and Airavatesvara temple.

With your visit you will also help preserve the Saraswathi Mahal Library, one of the oldest libraries in Asia. It has on display a rare collection of Palm leaf manuscripts and paper written in Tamil and Sanskrit and a few other languages indigenous to India. The collection comprises well over 49,000 volumes, though only a tiny fraction of these are on display.
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

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.

If you do want to shop other souvenirs, then we will take you to local collectives where locals of that very region craft there products and help keep the money earned in that very community. Our souvenirs to our guest are always locally produced, hand-made with local products.

On this tour, you will for example visit and support the Athangudi Tiles Factory. Athangudi is one of the many small villages that form Karaikudi and is renowned for its handcrafted terracotta tiles across the country. Since ingenious crafts and art go into making the tiles, it cannot be bought from anywhere else other than Athangudi. Over the years, Athangudi has become one of the most enterprising villages in Karaikudi where tile making has become the most distinctive local art. The 200 year old tile factory is the place where you can observe the famous tiles are being made.

In Kochi, our experienced local guide will take you on a very special tour in Fort Cochin, providing you with rare and researched inisights about culture, heritage and spiritual history of the 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. In Kochi, we will take you to the local fishermen suspended on Chinese fishing nets, introduced by Chinese explorers. It is a very unique and unusal method of fishing operated from the shore. Set up on bamboo and teak poles and held horizontally by huge mechanisms lowering them into the sea, they look like hammocks and are counter-weighed by large stones tied to ropes.

All our guests visit the Cultural centre or theatre to witness the Kathakali dance show, or a Kalari martial art performance or other music festival. The very special and sacred performance of Kathakali is performed by the local dancers, telling stories from the ancient Hindu epic – Ramayana and Mahabharata.

The destination Kerala and the rest of South India all understand that all guests be it their own countrymen or foreign nationals need to be warmly welcomed. From our side, we welcome all our guests during their first arrival with a garland at the airport, and we also encourage our hotel friends to welcome you with arti, tikka, garlands and a welcome drink. Our drivers greet guests every morning and our guides will always show their respect. We try to create a home away from home atmosphere.

Climate

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