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Cultural Karnataka & Serene Kerala
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Embark on a journey of two halves as you discover a cocktail of colour in Karnataka, a state peppered with regal palaces and glittering temples, where the undeniable scent of incense hangs in the air. In contrast, neighbouring Kerala’s, palm-fringed beaches, church-covered islands and fishing ports are a whole world away.
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Your Example Itinerary
Fly from the UK to Bangalore
Explore cosmopolitan Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka state, where blooming gardens and leafy avenues sit beside stunning temples and imposing palaces. Something of a cultural melting pot, the city has a definite British influence, which can be seen in the gothic churches and wide streets. Soak up the city’s highlights on a full-day city tour, taking in the beautiful architecture of the Vidhana Soudha, an imposing building housing the Legislative Assembly of Karnataka, and the blossoming rose gardens in vibrant Lal Bagh.
Arrive in Hassan and tour the colourful temple towns of Belur and Halebid. Here, traditional Hindu carvings of agricultural and musical scenes, as well as gods, animals and dancers, adorn the walls. Marvel at the attention to detail and observe the orange-clad, barefoot pilgrims who come here to offer flowers to the gods. Outside the temple a riot of colour awaits, with flower stalls, souvenir shops, fruit and tea stands, as well as numerous worshippers adding to the atmosphere.
Feast your senses on bustling Mysore, where the air is filled with the aromas of jasmine, rose and musk from the city’s incense factories. Look around the city, absorbing the kaleidoscope of colour at the regal Maharaja’s Palace, crammed with stained glass, gilded carvings and mirror mosaics. This over-the-top palace is one of the grandest in all India, and a real highlight of your journey. Next up is the hilltop temple of Shri Chamundeshwari, where an ornate seven-storey tower, known as a Gopuram, dominates.
Take it easy as you cross the state border into Kerala and the peaceful village of Bekal. Here a smattering of ancient citadels, gentle rivers and serene backwaters are waiting to be explored – or you could just kick back and relax on the sun-kissed beaches. The dominating 17th-century Bekal Fort looks out over a long stretch of soft sand, and is the largest fortress in Kerala. It houses a Hindu temple, an observation tower with far-reaching views of the surrounding towns, plus a healthy population of goats.
Breathe in the fresh sea air in Calicut, once a major spice trading port. The city is also known as Kozhikode, and gave its name to calico, which was once produced here. The town offers an assortment of diverting museums and monuments, plus an art gallery and an aquarium. Wildlife lovers should set their alarm to early and head down to Dolphin’s Point to see if they can spot dolphins frolicking in the morning waves.
Stop off at the impressive Guruvayur Temple on your way to the island city of Kochi. With no historical records as evidence, it is difficult to establish the age of the temple, but local legend suggests that it is 5000 years old. After soaking up its history, head down to Kochi’s fine harbour to admire the amazing physics behind the Chinese fishing nets, and tuck in to a delicious lunch with a local family. Take a walk along Kochi’s streets, admiring the Jewish synagogue, constructed in 1568, the astonishing murals of Mattancherry Palace, and the fascinating St Francis Church.
Depart Kochi and return to the UK
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