B26 3QJ, Birmingham, Birmingham
Well this has been brewing and bubbling away now for quite some time, but once the 17 of us who experienced the Epic INDIAN Road Trip Adventure Part 1 finally got home, I just knew that we had to do it again. So here we go, it's time for the Epic INDIAN Road Trip Adventure Part 2!!
The last time we did this was in January 2016, we covered over 2000 miles all by train. It was an incredible, life changing experience which I think all of us agree we loved, however, it was tough going at times, colder than we anticipated and the constant travelling, although exciting, became tiring.
Therefore for the Epic INDIAN Road Trip Adventure Part 2, we're heading right down to the south of the country where average temperatures will be in the mid to high 20's, even in the 30's and the overall mileage is less than half of the first trip. An approx. 960 miles by train and private coach and will look like this.
Although I should just add, that the Chennai to Mysuru leg is an overnight train and not by road, everyone should experience an overnight Indian train at least once in their lives!
To truly comprehend just what a small corner of India this actually is, here's the same route but zoomed out to see the WHOLE country!
Here is the itinerary....
*** Just to add, that although this is NOT a guided tour with a set itinerary each day, as with every trip we do, there will be a 'suggested itinerary' of some of the things you may want to see and do in each location. However it may be an idea to also research the places yourself in case there's something you specifically would like to see***
Thursday 12th January
Flight EK42 from Birmingham at 08.15 to Dubai at 19.10
Flight EK542 from Dubai at 21.00 to Chennai at 02.15+1
Friday 13th January - Chennai - Puducherry
Upon arrival we'll be transferred to a nearby hotel for a few hours sleep and a late breakfast.
You'll have a few hours to explore if you'd like, or simply chill by the pool and relax before our journey starts. Late in the afternoon we'll take our private coach to Puducherry for two nights, or Pondicherry as it's locally known.
Puducherry (formerly called Pondicherry and generally referred to as ‘Pondy’) was under French rule until 1954 and some people here still speak French (and English with French accents). Hotels, restaurants and ‘lifestyle’ shops sell a seductive vision of the French-subcontinental aesthetic, enhanced by Gallic creative types whose presence has in turn attracted Indian artists and designers. Thus Pondy’s vibe: less faded colonial-era ville, more a bohemian-chic, New Age–cum–Old World hangout on the international travel trail.
Coming from Chennai or some of Tamil Nadu's inland cities, Pondy may well seem a sea of tranquillity. The older part of this former French colony (where you'll probably spend most of your time) is full of quiet, clean, shady cobbled streets, lined with bougainvillea-draped colonial-era townhouses numbered in an almost logical manner. The newer side of town is typically, hectically South Indian.
Part of the vibe stems from the presence of the internationally famous Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its offshoot just out of town, Auroville, which draw large numbers of spiritually minded visitors.
Enjoy the shopping, the French food, the beer (au revoir Tamil Nadu alcohol taxes – Pondy is a Union Territory), the sea air and plenty of yoga and meditation.
Puducherry is split from north to south by a partially covered canal. The ‘French’ part of town is on the east side (towards the sea). Nehru (JN) St and Lal Bahadur Shastri St (Rue Bussy) are the main east–west streets; Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Rd and Mission St (Cathedral St) are the chief north–south thoroughfares. Many streets change names as they go along and often have English, French and Tamil names simultaneously.
I've actually been to Puducherry before and absolutely loved it. Not only is it an eclectic and wonderful mix of French and Indian cultures, you'll find that the architecture, cuisine, shops, language, customs, clothes and history all reflect this too. Puducherry was possibly a tiny Indian seaside town unheard of by many, but it became famous with it being the location (and starting point) for Pi in the 2012 film, 'Life of Pi.'
Sunday 15th January - Puducherry - Chennai - Mysuru
We'll take a late afternoon private coach back to Chennai. Then you'll get your first experience of Indian rail travel as we take our overnight train from Chennai to Mysuru. We depart at 21.00 and arrive in Mysuru at 06.50+1
Monday 16th January - Mysuru
After our private transfer to our hotel and checking in, we'll have two nights in Mysuru.
MYSURU (formally Mysore)
One of South India’s most famous tourist destinations, Mysuru (which recently changed its name from Mysore) is known for its glittering royal heritage and magnificent monuments and buildings. The kings of the Wodeyar dynasty set the bar high for the southern cultural capital of Mysuru. Its World Heritage listed palace may be what brings most travellers here, but it’s also a thriving centre for the production of premium silk, sandalwood and incense.
These days ashtanga yoga is another draw card, attracting visitors worldwide with its reputation as one of India’s best places to practice yoga. From deeply significant temples set in the hills to zoos, from the ultra modern university with the most advanced IT department in the country to some of the most beautiful scenery that surrounds the city, there's an abundance of culture in Mysuru.
Wednesday 18th January - Mysuru - Bandipur National Park
Once we've had breakfast and checked out we'll be saying goodbye to Mysuru and taking a private coach to the next leg of the trip, Bandipur National Park for two nights. Here we'll be doing two safaris and just having some down time to chill and relax before the travelling starts again.
Bandipur National Park is regarded as one of the most beautiful and the better-managed national parks of India. Located amidst the picturesque surroundings of the towering Western Ghat Mountains on the Mysore-Ooty highway in Karnataka, Bandipur National Park covers an area of about 874.2 sq. km. Together with Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala and Nagarhole National Park in the North, it creates the India's biggest biosphere reserve popularly known as the 'Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve'. The Bandipur National Park occupies a special place in India's efforts towards Eco-conservation.
Bandipur also has a sizable number of Tigers. Other natural inhabitants of this lovely forest are gaur (a type of bull), sambhar, chital, mouse deer, four-horned antelope, wild dogs, wild boar, jackal, sloth bear, panther, malabar squirrel, porcupines and the black-knapped hare. Birds like jungle fowl and green pigeon are also found here.
Friday 20th January - Bandipur - Kochi
Once we've had breakfast and checked out it'll be a long day by road. We'll have a 7-8 hour drive through the Indian countryside in our own private coach to the next stop on the adventure......Kochi, to spend three nights, two of them on a houseboat in the back waters exploring and discovering Alleppey and Kumarakom.
Kochi (colonial name Cochin) is a vibrant city situated on the south-west coast of the Indian peninsula in the breathtakingly scenic and prosperous state of Kerala, hailed as 'God's Own Country'. Kochi has been drawing traders and explorers to its shores for over 600 years. Nowhere else in India could you find such an intriguing mix: giant fishing nets from China, a 400-year-old synagogue, ancient mosques, Portuguese houses and the crumbling remains of the British Raj. The result is an unlikely blend of medieval Portugal, Holland and an English village grafted onto the tropical Malabar Coast.
Its strategic importance over the centuries is underlined by the sobriquet Queen of the Arabian Sea. Informally, Cochin is also referred to as the Gateway to Kerala. Over the years, Cochin has emerged as the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala and is perhaps the second most important city on the west coast of India (after Mumbai/Bombay). Cochin is proud of its world class port and international airport that link it to many major cities worldwide.
Strictly speaking, Cochin is a small town. But, Cochin has outgrown its original bounds and is now the general name given to much of the region adjoining the original town, which now includes Cochin, Fort Kochi, Mattanchery, Ernakulam and many other nearby towns and villages. Kochi is the arguably the ideal starting point for exploring the unfathomable diversity and beauty of Kerala, rated in the top three tourist destinations by the World Travel & Tourism Council and featured in National Geographic Traveller’s '50 greatest places of a lifetime'.
Monday 23rd January - Kochi - Kanyakumari
Surrounded by Majestic Hills and the plains bordered by colourful sea-shores, fringed with coconut trees and paddy fields, here and there are few elevated patches of red cliffs with undulating valleys and plains between the mountainous terrain and the sea - coast, so closely interwoven with Temples and Churches and other edifices lies the district, 'Kanyakumari'.
This is it, the end of India. There’s a sense of accomplishment on making it to the tip of the subcontinent's 'V', past the final dramatic flourish of the Western Ghats and the green fields, glinting rice paddies and slow-looping wind turbines of India's deep south. Like all edges, there's a sense of the surreal here. At certain times of year, you can see the sun set and the moon rise over three seas simultaneously. The Temple of the Virgin Sea Goddess, Swami Vivekananda's legacy and the 'Land's End' symbolism draw crowds of pilgrims and tourists to Kanyakumari, but it remains a small-scale, refreshing respite from the hectic Indian road.
Wednesday 25th January - Kanyakumari - Vovalam
Kovalam is famous for its beaches, among the most pristine in India. Kovalam is extremely popular among westerners due to shallow waters and low tidal waves. It is also one of the oldest tourist enclave in India, which known among tourist circuit right in 1930s. Kovalam shot into limelight in the early seventies with arrivals of the masses of hippies. That started the transformation of a casual fishing village of Kerala into one of the most important tourist destinations in all India- the Kovalam beach.
The leisure options at this beach are plenty and diverse. Sunbathing, swimming, herbal body toning massages, special cultural programmes and catamaran cruising are some of them. The tropical sun acts so fast that one can see the faint blush of coppery tan on the skin in a matter of minutes. Life on the beach begins late in the day and carries on well into the night.
The City of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) is only 18 kilometres away and has interesting places to see like the Napier Museum, the Sri Chitra Art Gallery, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Ponmudi hill station etc. SMSM Institute, a State owned handicrafts emporium, is the ideal place to pick up ethnic curios and other articles.
Saturday 28th January - Kovalam - Thiruvananthapuram airport
After breakfast we'll take an early morning coach to the airport for our flights home.
Flight EK521 from Thiruvananthapuram at 10.05 to Dubai for 12.55
Flight EK037 from Dubai at 14.50 to Birmingham for 18.40
As with the Epic Indian Road adventure part 1, none of the hotels will be revealed before departure, this is for two reasons. Firstly we sometimes get members checking out the hotel choices in advance then either suggesting or commenting on alternatives we may like to 'consider.' But the main reason is purely that of mystery! On our first venture to India it was exciting and added to the adventure of the trip watching the members discover where they were staying only once they had arrived, so it will be this time too. However..........I love to tease!! So, your hotel in......
Bandipur National Park
2 nights on one of these....
And 1 night here..
And our last location, Kovalam
After the 'back to basics' stripped back Epic Part 1 trip, we felt this time we'd explore the south in total comfort, hence the far superior accommodation, the Emirates flights...from Birmingham, less train journeys and our very own private A/C coach to drive us between locations and to and from airports and stations.
So who's coming to experience the south of India with us? With glorious sunshine, amazing food, spiritual towns, trains and coaches through break taking landscapes, beautiful beaches, and most importantly, wonderful company, it certainly promises to be another memorable adventure and once in a lifetime experience.
The total cost of this trip is £1,875 per person based on sharing a twin room (Including all flights)
To attend this trip you will need to pay a NON REFUNDABLE deposit of £275 via PayPal when you RSVP. Your place will not be guaranteed until your deposit is paid.
There is no single room option on this trip I'm afraid. With taking a group of 20 it's been difficult enough finding accommodation with 10 rooms.
The 2nd payment of £600 will be due NO LATER than Sunday 31st July
The 3rd payment of £500 will be due NO LATER than Friday 30th September
The final balance of £500 will be due NO LATER than Wednesday 30th November
All payments are your responsibility and must be paid into the following bank account before the dates given above. Please make a note of these dates as you will not receive reminders and your space will not be guaranteed if payments are late.
Please make a note of these dates and put them in your diary, as failure to pay on time may result in your place being cancelled with a loss of your deposit.
What IS included:
• Return flights from Birmingham with Emirates (via Dubai)
• A 30kg luggage allowance
• 16 nights accommodation sharing a twin room
• 16 breakfasts
• Full board for 2 nights on the houseboat
• 2 safaris
• Overnight train ticket from Chennai to Mysuru
• Train ticket from Kochi to Kanniyakumari
• Train ticket from Kanniyakumari to Trivandrum
• All transfers to and from airports and train stations in our own private A/C coach
• 4 overland road journeys in our private A/C coach
• Transfers in Kochi and Kanyakumari
• All hotel & local taxes
What is NOT included:
• Visas. You are responsible for obtaining your own visa which you can do by clicking on the following link..... https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/
• Any meals other than breakfast not listed in the itinerary
• Any entrance fees
• Personal spending monies
• Travel insurance. You are responsible for your OWN travel insurance
Outbound - Thursday 12th January 2017
Depart Birmingham at 08.15 and arrive in Dubai at 19.10 Flight EK42
Depart Dubai at 21.00 and arrive in Chennai at 02.15+1 Flight EK542
Inbound - Saturday 28th January 2017
Depart Trivandrum at 10.05 and arrive in Dubai at 12.55 Flight EK521
Depart Dubai at 14.50 and arrive in Birmingham at 18.40 Flight EK37
Andy & the team
Travel is my passion, any where, any time, any place - will you be joining me on these adventures???
Hi im jase. love exploring new countries and going away 4 weekends in Europe...
Hi Looking forward to this adventure and exploring with new adventurers
Hi I'm Jackie. Enjoy meeting new people, eating out, travelling and reading.
The journey is about to begin... :)
Refunds are not offered for this Meetup.