Golden Sands and Silvery Backwaters of South India

A Transformational Journey of Tropical Yoga and Radiant Meditation

Tour operated in cooperation with Sacred Earth Journeys

February 26 – March 11, 2012

 

Day 1 Sun, Feb 26: Arrive Kochi (D)

Arrive in Kochi (Cochin) on the west coast of India.  Be met at the airport by our representative and be transferred to our hotel in the Fort Cochin area. Kochi is a jewel in the crown of Kerala with its European heritage and true cosmopolitan air. A centre of trade, Kochi merchants began trading spices such as black pepper and cardamom with the Arabs, Dutch, Portuguese, and Chinese more than 600 years ago. A striking scene here is the row of Cheena vala, Chinese fishing nets that line the mouth of the harbour, which leads to the Arabian Sea in Fort Kochi. A leisurely walk through its streets is one of the best ways to discover all that the city has to offer including it’s natural harbour and historical sites. This evening we will gather for our Welcome Dinnerat the Terrace Garden Restaurant where we will first meet Padma and our fellow yogis. (Overnight in Kochi at Grande Residencia)

Day 2 Mon, Feb 27: Kochi (B, D)

After breakfast in the hotel, we meet from 8:00 – 10:00 AM for our orientation meeting along with introductions, setting intentions and our first meditation session to initiate the journey. Afterwards, we leave for a guided tour of Kochi. We visit the St. Francis Church considered the first European-built Church in India, built in 1562 by St. Francis and then continue on to the Mattanchery Dutch Palace, a double-storied palace. The most important features of Mattanchery Palace are the murals in the bedchambers, which depict scenes from the epic story, the Ramayana, Mahabharata. These murals are some of the most beautiful and extensive in India. We then visit the Jewish Synagogue, which was constructed in 1568 and is the oldest in the Commonwealth. While driving along the coastline, at the Harbour’s mouth, you can also catch a glimpse of the unique and still-in-use Chinese fishing nets, which were introduced by the Chinese traders in the 14th Century. Our city tour ends in the Fort Kochi area where you will have time to walk through the historical Dutch and Portuguese areas. Some parts of the nearly 500-year-old Fort are amazingly well preserved.

After lunch on your own, we meet again at the hotel for our 3:00 – 4:30 PM yoga class. This will be a gentle and restorative yoga class designed to help you recover from jet lag and to settle you easily into India.
In the evening you will witness the Kathakali Dance Show, India’s most spectacular dance drama based on stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The dancers are elaborately made up with paint and masks, accompanied with drummers and musicians. We reach the theatre early to get a chance to see the dancers getting ready for the show and their faces being painted. Afterwards, we return to the hotel for dinner.  (Overnight in Kochi at Grande Residencia)

 

Day 3 Tue, Feb 28: Kochi; Munnar (B, L, D)

After breakfast we leave for Munnar (150 kms / 5 hrs including stops), the summer resort of the former British in South India. Situated 1600 metres (5249 feet) above sea level, Munnar is a confluence of three mountain rivers – Mudrapuzha, Nallathani and Kundala. Nestled in the midst of 60 acres of cardamom plantations, our hotel, Windemere Estate, has a harmonic relationship with nature. Manicured tea gardens merge with the lush green forests of the western ghats. After checking into our rooms and getting settled in we enjoy lunch at the hotel.

In the afternoon, we tour this hill station town. Munnar offers a breathtaking view of the hills draped in folds of green carpets of tea, coffee and cardamom plantations. Beyond the rolling hills, discover the rich tropical forests abounding in exotic flora & fauna. It is here that you will spot Anamudi peak, the highest peak in the Western Ghats at 2479 metres (8133 feet). Munnar’s serene atmosphere, silver streams and pleasant climate welcome you to breath deeply. We visit the sprawling tea estates as well as the tea museum, where we learn more about the various stages of tea processing and the area’s interesting history. At a tea tasting, you learn about the different delicious varieties of south Indian tea.

Later we enjoy an evening yoga and meditation class from 5:30 – 7:30 pm to help us unwind and decompress. Padma will teach a class designed to keep you limber and relaxed. She will guide a peaceful meditation, introducing some yoga philosophy to clarify the kinds of thinking and emotions that arise on a journey in India. We start to explore how Indian philosophy aligns perfectly with the magical experiences of the country. Afterwards, enjoy dinner at the estate. (Overnight in Munnar at Windemere Estate)

Day 4 Wed, Feb 29: Munnar (B, L, D)

Today we enjoy the entire day at leisure for our yoga and meditation practice as well as independent activities. All our meals will be enjoyed at the estate for our convenience.

 
Padma will offer two yoga and meditation classes today, one in the late morning from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM and another in the early evening from 5:30 – 7:30 PM, each carefully designed to suit your needs of the day. If everyone is tired, she will lead a more restorative class. If the group is feeling more active you will start to work on poses and sequences that gently build your strength and move your energy in a way that’s perfect for you. The class includes yogic breath work and beautiful Sanskrit chanting. Padma will also teach meditation techniques which you will be able to practice while gliding along on the houseboat ride the next day, since there will be no formal class together on the boats.  (Overnight in Munnar at Windemere Estate)

 

Day 5 Thu, Mar 1: Munnar; Alleppey (B, L, D)
After an early breakfast we drive to Alleppey (240 kms / 6 hrs including stops) and embark at approx. 1:00 PM on our luxuriously furnished houseboats for a relaxing overnight backwater cruise, enjoying freshly cooked traditional meals onboard. Fondly known as the “Venice of the East”, Alleppey is famous for its Snake Boat Races. This charming town of picturesque canals, backwaters, beaches and lagoons, is the perfect place to enjoy a little R & R. As we drift peacefully along the backwaters on our beautiful and charming houseboats, we can enjoy the breathtaking scenery, a microcosm of flora and fauna, which includes a large species of birds such as kingfishers, pheasants, cormorants, drogues, woodpeckers, bee-eaters and kite, and admire the scenes of local villages. Our boat cruise will take us to small islets where we will be able to catch glimpses of serene village life at its best. Watch village girls picking mussels and laundering clothes while men are busy harvesting coconuts and dates from the trees, and observe the locals making the golden fibre called coir from coconut husk to be transformed into various coir products. With an abundance of rustling coconut groves around us, we shall stop to drink fresh coconut water from the kernel and watch the toddy-tappers at work. This will be a great day to take time for meditation, journaling and contemplation.  Padma will be available to offer private consultations as much as possible. (Overnight on Houseboat)

 

Day 6 Fri, Mar 2: Houseboat; Chowara (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we disembark our houseboats at approx. 9:00 AM, drive to Chowara (175 kms / 5 hrs including stops), and check in to our resort upon arrival. Our resort is located on the lovely shores of the Arabian Sea at Chowara, south of Kovalam, near Trivandrum, Kerala. Set on 14 acres of lush green land overlooking the blue sea and soft golden sands, this resort will be our haven for the next 4 nights. This afternoon, enjoy lunch at the resort restaurant, relax, and stroll around to become better familiar with the grounds. This would also be a good time to book some optional Ayurvedic treatments for the remainder of your stay at the resort’s Ayurvedic Centre, which will help you bring back the equilibrium of tridoshas and live your life in a much healthier way.
We will thoroughly delight in our yoga and meditation class from 5:30-7:30 PM after having had a long drive today. Padma will continue to introduce yogic thought and the ancient art of expanding our awareness. We will practice yoga, breath work, Sanskrit chanting and meditation. There will also be time for more questions and answers together. Later, we enjoy dinner together at the resort.  (Overnight at Travancore Heritage Resort)

 

Day 7 Sat, Mar 3: Chowara (B, L, D)
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the resort this morning before beginning our 3 day yoga and meditation retreat with Padma. The classes of yoga, breath work and philosophy will build and evolve in synchronicity with the theme of the whole journey. Our morning yoga session from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, will include a workshop from Padma’s Elemental Series TV show where you will learn Padma’s unique program of foundational yogic health practices. This workshop offers an overview of the subtle energy bodies that we all have. Through yoga, breath, chanting, and meditation you will come to understand how you can keep yourself in peak fitness, joy, and wellness.
During our evening meditation classfrom 5:30 – 7:30 pm, Padma will guide you to become established in a foundational meditation practice that will stay with you your whole life. She will expand and refine the teachings each day as we all settle more and more into the blissful space of what is truly mystical about India, it’s heritage of clear and spiritual awareness. In your free time, relax on the beach, enjoy the pool and resort amenities, explore on your own, or enjoy optional Ayurvedic treatments at the ayurveda centre.  (Overnight at Travancore Heritage Resort)

 

Day 8 Sun, Mar 4: Chowara (B, L, D)

After another leisurely breakfast at the resort, we continue our retreat with Padma. This morning from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, we enjoy our yoga class, a workshop from Padma’s Modern Meditations Series TV show. This workshop will feature Padma’s unique program, which explores how the many various yogic practices and meditations can easily be applied to everyday, real situations and bring balance, strength, and clarity to your life. You will gain an understanding of how therapeutic and useful yoga can be.

During our evening meditation class from 5:30 – 7:30 pm, Padma will teach us about the Sanskrit language, chanting, and mantra yoga. During this session, you will come to understand the power of sound as well as the power of thought. (Overnight at Travancore Heritage Resort)

 

Day 9 Mon, Mar 5: Chowara (B, L, D)

After another leisurely breakfast at the resort, we continue our retreat with Padma. This morning from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, we enjoy our yoga class, a workshop from Padma’s Blissful Living SeriesTV show. This workshop highlights Padma’s decades of expertise with a sublime and unique yoga practice that perfectly integrates pure wellness with blissful spiritual awareness. Learn from a master teacher.

During our evening meditation class from 5:30 – 7:30 PM, Padma will guide us to explore the very special and esoteric spiritual wisdom that permeates India. She will offer the wisdom of her 22 years of study and experience of being a yogi and of living in India.  (Overnight at Travancore Heritage Resort)

 

Day 10 Tue, Mar 6: Chowara, Madurai (B, L)

Today we check out of the resort after breakfast and drive to Madurai, the oldest inhabited city in the Indian peninsula, stopping for lunch en route (325 kms / 7 hrs including stops). Upon arrival at our hotel, we will check in and then you can enjoy the afternoon at your leisure to explore this fascinating city.

In the evening from 6:00 – 7:30 PM we will gather for our session with Padma, who will lead us in a replenishing and restorative yoga class with deep meditation.
This evening enjoy, take the opportunity to explore the city independently once more or with your new-found friends and try a traditional dinner at one of the many restaurants nearby. (Overnight in Madurai at The Gateway Hotel)

 

Day 11 Wed, Mar 7: Madurai (B)

After breakfast at the hotel we leave for a sightseeing tour of the most important temples in Madurai, the Meenakshi Temple, an enormous temple complex dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati or Meenakshi. The temple with its majestic stone walls and 12 towers known as “Gopurams”, which rise out of the swarming streets of the city centre, were built in the 17th century by Nayak rulers. The highlight of the Meenakshi Temple is the “Hall of a Thousand Pillars”, built in the 16th century in Dravidian architecture. Not to be missed here are the “Musical Pillars”, which when struck, produce a different musical note. You then have time to wander about the city and enjoy lunch on your own. Later, we visit the Tirumala Nayak Palace, a gracious building in the Indo-Saracenic style, famous for the stucco work on its domes and arches.

After our sightseeing, we enjoy a yoga and meditation class from 4:00 – 6:00 PM where Padma will guides us in harmony with the energy of the day while building on the themes and explorations of the journey so far.
After dinner on your own, we return to Meenakshi Temple to witness the daily prayer ceremony when the temple bronze of Lord Shiva is carried to the bedchamber of Parvati. The procession is accompanied by religious prayer and temple music. (Overnight in Madurai at The Gateway Hotel)

 

Day 12 Thu, Mar 8: Madurai; Chennai (B, L)

This morning, enjoy breakfast at your leisure. Our yoga and meditation classwill be from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM after which you will have free time until departure for independent activities.

In the afternoon, we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Chennai on the Coromandel coast of the Bay of Bengal (just over 1 hour long), arriving at approximately 6:00 PM. After a meet and greet on arrival by our representative, we will transfer to the hotel and settle in. Dinner is on your own this evening to sample some delicious Tamil cuisine at any of the great restaurants in Chennai. (Overnight in Chennai at GRT Grand Hotel)

 

Day 13 Fri, Mar 9: Excursion to Kanchipuram & Mahabalipuram (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we leave for an excursion to Kanchipuram, one of Hinduism’s seven most sacred cities. This “Golden City of a Thousand Temples” dates back to the early Cholas in the 7th century AD. Only around 70 temples of the original 1000 old temples are still intact and the most famous of them is the Kailasanatha Temple built of sandstone in the early seventh century A.D. As Kanchipuram is also known for its silk weavings, a visit to the nearby villages to see the craftsmen at work on their looms will be a wonderful experience. We will enjoy lunch here.

We then continue on to Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) to visit the seventh century rock-hewn monuments. The Shore Temple, a World Heritage Monument and the only surviving one of seven, is a unique example of a temple built of rock quarried elsewhere and carried to the shore. The best known of the rock carvings is the immense bas-relief which is sculpted in fascinating detail on a huge whaleback-shaped rock, depicting the descent of the Ganges to the earth, the penance of Arjuna and myriad characters from the Mahabharata story. We also visit the Five Rathas,a set of monolithic rock temples located on a sandy compound and a perfect example of the evolution of Dravidian style architecture. The Rathas have an association to the great epic Mahabharata, which describes the heroes of Mahabharata with their wife Draupadi.

This is a full day of amazing sightseeing. There is no time for a formal yoga class at the hotel, however, hopefully there will be an opportunity for a meditation at one of the sites. Padma will work with the guides to find a lovely location for us to sit with her and take a few moments of rest and reflect. Upon our return to Chennai, we will have time to freshen up before enjoying dinner at the hotel. (Overnight in Chennai at GRT Grand Hotel)

 

Day 14 Sat, Mar 10: Chennai (B, D)

After breakfast, we depart for a sightseeing city tour of Chennai, which served as the economic and political capital of the East India Company from the 17th century onwards. Among the highlights of the city is Fort St George that marks the beginning of Chennai as an important centre for trade. Within the fort is St Mary’s Church, the first English church in India and the oldest British building to survive. We will also spend some time in the Mylapore Temple area visiting the 16th century Kapleeswarar Temple as well as explore the fruit and flower market.Enjoy lunch on your own to sample some of the delicious local fare. Later, in the afternoon, enjoy some free time for shopping and other independent activities. There are so many treasures to be found here in Chennai!

In the evening, we gather together for our last yoga and meditation class from 5:30 – 7:30 PM where Padma will summarize and review the explorations and discoveries we have made throughout our journey. This class will beautifully conclude the adventures we’ve shared and send you off with confidence and satisfaction in your yoga and meditation practice. Later we enjoy a final Farewell Dinner at a lovely local restaurant in Chennai. (Overnight in Chennai at GRT Grand Hotel)

 

Day 15 Sun, Mar 11: Depart Chennai (B)
This morning is free to relax and enjoy the hotel amenities. Check out is at 12:00 noon but you can leave your luggage at the hotel for the afternoon. This afternoon you have the opportunity for last minute shopping. The bus will then take you to a shopping centre and return to the hotel at approx. 6:30 PM. Lunch and dinner are on your own and in the late evening you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight (most departures are late evening, however an extra night can be arranged if required).
(B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner)
Note: This itinerary is subject to change due to conditions beyond our control.

 

Tour Inclusions and Price

Tour Includes:

  • 14 nights accommodation in Hotels, Resort, and Luxury Houseboat
  • Arrival and Departure Transfers
  • Breakfast Daily, 10 Lunches and 11 Dinners
  • Transportation by Private Air Conditioned Coach
  • Hotel Taxes
  • Baggage Handling at the Hotels (1 bag per person)
  • Admission to all sites as per itinerary
  • All Local Guide services as per itinerary
  • Domestic flight from Madurai to Chennai

Special Added Features:

  • Travel with Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Padma
  • 30 hours of Yoga and Meditation Instruction with Padma
  • Private One-on-one Meditation Consultations
  • Kochi Sightseeing Tour
  • Kathakali Dance Show
  • Tour of Tea Estate & Museum with Tea Tasting
  • Overnight Backwater Cruise
  • Visit Meenakshi Temple and Tirumala Nayak Palace in Madurai
  • Prayer Ceremony at Meenakshi Temple
  • Visit Kanchipuram
  • Visit Mahabalipuram
  • Chennai Sightseeing Tour

Tour Does Not Include:

  • International Airfare to Kochi (COK) and return from Chennai (MAA)
  • Cancellation & Medical Insurance (ask us for a quote)
  • Meals and drinks not specified as indicated in the itinerary
  • Cost to obtain valid passport
  • Any items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks and telephone calls. Any item that is not specifically detailed on our website or in the final retreat itinerary.

Please read the Terms and Conditions for this tour.

TOUR PRICES:
** Bonus! SAVE! You will receive a 5% discount if ALL payments are made by check or money order. This discounted price is noted below in red.

Price Per Person (Land Only)

$4,335 payments via check or money order
$4,563
payments via credit card

Single Supplement

$1,374 payments via check or money order
$1,446
payments via credit card

Pre-Paid Gratuities
$180 payments via check or money order
$189
payments via credit card
Note: Pre-paid gratuities to cover guides, drivers, waiters, baggage handling, etc. Your local Tour Guide will carry and disburse these funds so that you can relax and enjoy your trip, knowing that everyone assisting you is being taken care of properly.

Note: The single supplement is ONLY for those who would like to secure a private room throughout the tour, at the indicated additional price. If you are not traveling with anyone you know and would like to share a room, we will be happy to work to find you a suitable roommate. Per our Terms and Conditions, registration for the tour will be held open until two weeks before the departure date in order to try to match everyone with a roommate. If by that date we have not been able to match you with a suitable roommate, you will be responsible to pay for the single supplement. An early registration will facilitate this process.

Travel Insurance

Body Mind Spirit Journeys highly recommends the purchase of Trip Cancellation/Interruption Travel Insurance, and we therefore provide you with an easy way to contact BMSJ’s preferred insurance provider, Access America

If you need additional information or have questions, please call Access America directly at 800-284-8300, and refer to code F025323.

 

For Flight Assistance and Ticketing, call: 631-624-7612 or email horst@rmctravelight.com