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December 2nd 2005
Published: January 10th 2006
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Tenative Itinerary

Travellers: John Hambleton, Keith Klarer, Will James, Hugh Cree

Will arrives in Chennai on 1/5 and meets John & Keith on 1/15
John & Keith arrive in BOM on 1/14
Hugh arrives in Chennai 1/22 (approx)
Keith departs 1/23
John departs 2/6

Day 1 -- January 14

John & Keith arrive 03:30 in Mumbai (Bombay) from LAX/HNG/BGK . Stay overnight at the Sea Green Hotel in Churchgate

Day 2 -- Depart 10:30 on Jet Airways to Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) -- TRV -- arriving around 13:00 -- meet Will James at 15:00 at the Fusion in Kovolam (where we plan to consume a Kingfisher lager or 3 or 4).

Trivandrum is a very colonial city with lots to see including the famous Ravi Varma paintings and the first Dutch and Portuguese settlements. Vasco Da Gama’s grave is located here. We'll photograph the famous Chinese Fishing nets used for the past 300 years. From Trivandrum we'll go to a beach resort called Kovalam. It has some of the best snorkeling in the country.

We will be staying right on the beach in Kovolam which is a few km south of Trivandrum -- Hotel Rockholm in Kovalam (on Light House Road) for the 15th and 16th. The Fusion is on Lighthouse beach in Kovalam.

Day 3 (1/16) - Drop some jetlag on the beach in Kovalam

Day 4 (1/17) -- backwaters Houseboat from Alappuzha

Located 71 km to the north of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam is the centre of the country's cashew trading and processing industry. One of the oldest ports on the Malabar coast, Kollam was once the port of international spice trade. Thirty per cent of this historic town is covered by the renowned Ashtamudi Lake, making it the gateway to the magnificent backwaters of Kerala.
The eight hour boat trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is the longest and most enchanting experience on the backwaters of Kerala. The district also has some interesting historic remnants and a number of temples built in the traditional ornate architectural style

Day 5 (1/18)-- backwaters

The backwaters of Kerala are meandering inland lakes networked by canals - stretching over 1900km. Travellers boating across these tranquil stretches experience are unique to Kerala. Large Kettuvalloms (traditional country crafts or barges over 60ft. in length) have been converted into luxury houseboats for these cruises.

The boats cross shallow, palm-fringed lakes studded with Chinese fishing nets, and along narrow, shady canals where coir (coconut fibre), copra and cashews are loaded onto boats. Stops are made at small settlements where people live on carefully cultivated narrow spits of land only a few metres wide, and there's the chance to see traditional boats with huge sails, and prows carved in the shape of dragons.

Day 6 (1/19)-- Kottayam backwaters

Just 12km from Kottayam, this unique backwater destination situated on the banks of the Vembanad lake is considered the gateway to the backwaters of Kuttanad. The Kumarakom bird sanctuary is a favourite haunt of migratory birds from across the world which makes it a renowed bird watching center. Kumarakom is also a centre for houseboat cruises.

Day 7 (1/20)-- Kochi (Cochin) -- Raintree Lodge

Fort Cochin is a small town in the southern part of India. For centuries, it remained the focal point to many a European traveler, who eventually made it home. And in years to follow, it gradually acquired an eclectic mix of varied cultures that blend to form a unique existence for itself. Today, much of the place continues to exude this charm. Its tiny allies, European styled villas, quaint cafes and extensive grounds, all of which merge to create a beautiful location.

Kochi (Cochin), the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala, has one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Ancient mariners from Arabia, China, Holland, Britain and Portugal have all left their mark on this beautiful island city.

One of the finest natural harbours on the Arabian Sea coast, Kochi (Cochin), earlier known as Cochin has been a port of call for foreign traders from early times. Its cosmopolitan character is reflected in the buildings and structures representing different regions of the world. A city of peninsulas and islands, today it is Kerala's commercial hub.

Kerala's prime tourist destination, it spreads across islands and promontories in a stunning location between the Arabian Sea and the famous backwaters. Its main sections: modern Ernakulam in the east and the old districts of Mattancherry and Fort Cochin on a peninsula in the west are linked by a complex system of ferries.

One of the most famous synagogues in the world was constructed in 1568 and is the oldest synagogue in the commonwealth. Destroyed in a shelling during the Portuguese raid in 1662, it was rebuilt two years later by the Dutch. Known for mid 18th century hand printed, willow pattern floor tiles from Canton in China, a dock tower, Hebrew inscriptions on stone slabs, ancient scripts on copper plates etc.

Day 8 (1/21)-- Kochi -- Daytrip

We will catch a local bus and head out to a village and spend a day wandering the dikes between the rice paddies and rubber trees, seeing how half the world still lives: men and women stooping to cut rice with sickles, or spreading coconut along the road to dry; water buffalo wallowing in the irrigation ditches; every inch of ground cultivated; every small field lined with palms; a place where little is wasted. It's also a place that works, and in poor, rural Asia, that alone would make Kerala a paradise. The breeze rustling the palm fronds will be a bonus.

Day 9 (1/22) -- Keith heads back to BOM for return to LAX -- Will and Bone hire car to drive to Coonoor (full day drive)

Day 10 (1/23) -- catch early narrow gauge train to Ooty

Day 11 (1/24) -- Ooty, Nilgiri

Udhagamandalam (Ooty), the capital of Nilgiri district, is popularly known as the "Queen of hill stations' among the tourist circuits. It is situated at a distance of 105 km away from Coimbatore. The height of the hills in the Nilgiri range varies between 2280 and 2290 metres, the highest peak being Doddabetta at a height of 2623 metres.

Day 12 (1/25) -- Ooty -- Daytrip

The establishment of numerous tea estates made Ooty famous. Lofty mountains, dense forest, sprawling grasslands and miles and miles of tea gardens greet the passengers on most routes. The annual Tea and Tourism Festival attracts crowds in huge numbers. Visit Ooty during this festival, when tea lovers from all over the world converge. An occasion not to be missed!

Day 13 (1/26)-- descend to Combatore

Ooty is on the narrow gauge railway, connected to Mettupalayam (47 km), which is directly connected to Coimbatore and Chennai. The famous toy train (narrow gauge railroad) connects Ooty with Mettupalayam and Coonoor.

Day 14 (1/27)-- train to Tiruvannamalai (via Vellore) **

Day 15 (1/28)-- Tiruvann (Ashram where Mike Horsey is staying -- friend of Bills) **

Tiruvannamalai is one of the greatest Saivite shrines in India, on a sprawling 24 acre temple campus, drawing hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every full moon. The hill here is considered to be a manifestation of Shiva. Tiruvannamalai is one of the Panchabhoota Stalams signifying the 5 elements of wind (Kalahasti), water (Tiruvanaikka), fire (Tiruvannamalai), earth (Kanchipuram) and space (Chidambaram). Kartikai Deepam festival here is of great significance. Manikkavacakar composed his Tiruvempavai here.The Paatala Linga shrine is connected with the spritual savant Ramana Maharishi. Arunagiri Nathar began composing his Tiruppukazh here at this temple.

Legend here goes that Shiva assumed the form of a huge column of fire, whose origins Bhramma and Vishnu failed to trace.

Architecture: The 11 tiered East Rajagopuram towers to a height of 217 feet, while the fortified walls pierced with 4 gopura entrances offer a formidable look to this vast temple complex . The Pei Gopuram, Tirumanjana Gopuram and Ammanaiammal gopuram are the other three. The 1000 pillared hall and the temple tank were built by Krishna Deva Rayarar of Vijayanagar. Each of the prakarams has a huge Nandi and several towers such as the Vallala Maharaja Gopuram and Kili Gopuram.

Day 16 (1/29)-- Tiruvann **

Visit the ashram founded by Mahan Sri Seshadri Swamigal who lived in the late 20th Century. Sri Seshadri Swamigal Ashram is one of the holy places in Triuvann. People from all over the world visit his Ashram, which is situated near the Sri Ramana Ashram. The Garden in this Ashram is very extensive.

Day 17 (1/30)-- Train to Pondycherry **

Day 18 (1/31)- Day in Pondy **

Pondycherry is a blend of spiritual aura, French colonial heritage, Tamil culture and the cosmopolitan flair of many nationalities in a small but varied town. Pondy's charm becomes most evident in the oldest part of the town which flanks the seashore boulevard. Colonial buildings, some which trace back to the 18th century, line along a grid of straight clean streets and house the French institutions, private homes and businesses, and the sprawling premises of the famous Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The visitor is greeted by mellow colours of cream, yellow, pink and grey with flamboyant bougainvillae bursting over gates and compound walls of cool courtyards.

Day 19 (2/1)-- Chennai

Visit Colleen Redit's orphanage. In 1964, Colleen started serving poor women and children in Chennai (Madras),India. She set up Christian Missions Charitable Trust(CMCT). From the three girls at the beginning whom she taught handicraft, now over 2000 a day receive some kind of benefit from CMCT.

Day 20 (2/2)-- Chennai

Day 21 (2/3)-- Chennai

Day 22 (2/4)-- Fly to BOM

Day 23 (2/5)-- in Mumbai

Day 24 (2/6)-- 5:30 AM -- return flight -- BOM to LAX

** not completely finalized


17th January 2006

Look a amazing, mom says that montreal island is about the size of catalina island, so many in a space that small! Well I'm keeping up these posts are pretty cool.
27th January 2006

Keep on truckin
Really enjoyed looking over your images. India is a place I've got to get to. Hambone, keep em coming! Pete

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