Tour: Hampi & Kerala

Date: TBC

Duration: 15 Days 

Day 1 - Arrive at Hubli

Day 1 is arrival day in Hubli. In terms of booking flights, the nearest airport is Hubli (HBX), if flying from the UK then the best route is usually to get a flight to Bengaluru, (BA offers a direct flight) and then a domestic flight from Bengaluru to Hubli (Air India offers a direct internal flight). Once you have booked your flight, email us the details and we will arrange for your airport to hotel transfer. To allow for different arrival times and to give you an opportunity to recharge following your journey, the first meet is at 18:30 for an introduction to your tour leader and the rest of the group prior to dinner.

Hubli: Sunrise 06:17; Sunset 18:32; Daylight 12:14; Temp 21° - 39°

Day 2 - Hubli to Hampi (Sacred Centre)

Following breakfast on day 2, we will spend the morning driving to Hampi, a fascinating collection of ruins and the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, until it was destroyed in 1565, by Deccan Sultanates. In its heyday it was described as a beautiful city, with lush gardens, water pools, temples and palaces. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and will form our base for the next 3 nights. On arrival we will check into our hotel and have lunch, before heading out for an afternoon visit to the Sacred Centre. As the name suggests this is regarded as the most spiritual area in Hampi and contains one of the oldest functioning temples in India, the Hindu Virupaksha temple. The temple was built in honour of Shiva and has been receiving devotees since the 7th Century. The Sacred Centre is also the site of the Hampi Bazaar, making it a hive of activity during the day. Following our walk around the Sacred Centre, we will head up the boulder strewn Hemakuta Hill for a sunset capture of Virupaksha temple.

Day 3 - Hampi (Royal Centre)

On day 3 we will head back to Hemakuta Hill for a sunrise capture, as there are numerous vantage points from which to photograph sunrise and sunset from this hill. Following breakfast we will spend the day exploring the Royal Centre and surrounding ruins located in the south part of the complex, which includes the sites museum. The Royal Centre contains the ruins of the former palace enclosures, varying  from 2 story structures, such as the Lotus Mahal Temple, to barely visible foundations.  The most significant buildings are the Hazara Rama Temple, the Lotus Mahal, the geometric stone water tank and the elephant stables. As sunset approaches we will stay within the Royal Centre, as great images can be captured of either, the geometric tank or through the ornate doorways of the Lotus Mahal Temple.

Hampi: Sunrise 06:12 ; Sunset 18:25; Daylight 12:10; Temp: 21° - 30° 

Day 4 - Hampi (Vittala temple and riverside ruins)

On day 4 we will head to Matunga hill to capture sunrise images from the highest point in Hampi. We will spend the remainder of the day exploring the Vittala Temple complex, containing the stone chariot, along with the surrounding riverside ruins. Following the Vittala complex we will take a short coracle boat ride across Tungabhadra River to visit Anegundi village. This will give us an opportunity to explore daily life as experienced by locals in the area. For sunset we will head back across the river to elect the best location for the final rays of sun, with a choice of either riverside coracle boats or the stone chariot within the Vittala temple complex.

Day 5 - Hampi to Devanhalli

Day 5 will be predominantly a drive day* as Hampi is somewhat isolated from other points of interest. The drive without stopping takes approximately 6 hours, however we will break up the journey with refreshment breaks and lunch on route.

Day 6 - Devanahalli to Mysore via Nrityagram Dance Village

We will begin day 6 with a morning visit to Nrityagram Dance Village, which sits close to Hesaraghatta Lake and is approximately 1 h 15 mins from Devanahalli. The Village is a renowned collective of traditional dancers, who live in a holistic community where they are taught, yoga, meditation, martial arts, Sanskrit and literature, whilst contributing to the running of the centre. Many of the dancers came to the school as children and have remained into adulthood, with some becoming teachers. The students focus on a classical form of dance known as Odissi, which is over 2000 years old and was revived around 75 years ago. They have become so proficient, they now travel the globe giving performances and even Mick Jagger popped in whilst he was on tour in India. If we are lucky enough to catch the troupe, we will have the opportunity to capture the dancers as they go through their rehearsals. Following Nrityagram, we will drive to Mysore, which will take approximately 3h 30 mins. On arrival we will check into our hotel and dependant on our arrival time, there maybe an opportunity to head out to see a kitch sound and light show at Mysore palace.

Devanahalli: Sunrise: 06:08; Sunset: 18:17; Daylight: 12:09; Temp: 20°- 29°; 

Day 7 - Mysore to Bandipur National Park

On the morning of day 7, following breakfast we will visit Devaraja Market in Mysore, a vibrant and lively bazaar dating back to Tippu Sultan's reign and an ideal site for photographing daily life amongst colourful conicals of bindi powder, flower garlands and exotic spices. Following the market we will visit Mysore Palace. The Palace was built by Maharaja Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, who commissioned the British architect Henry Irwin in 1897 to re-design the structure, following the destruction of the original building in a fire.  The palace was completed in 1912 and is built in an Indo-Saracenic architectural style, employing influences from Hindu, Mughal, gothic and neo-classical architecture. Its ornate interior offers a fascinating window into the royal lifestyle of the Wadiyar Maharajas up until the mid 20th Century. Unfortunately photography is not permitted within the interior of the Palace, but as it is considered one of India’s finest palaces and attracts over 6 million visitors a year we've elected to include it for a  morning visit. Photography is however permitted in the grounds of the palace which, rather zealously, contains 12 temples. On completion of our visit to Mysore Palace we will drive approximately 1h 30 mins to our overnight accommodation near Bandipur National Park.

Mysore: Sunrise 06:12; Sunset 18:21; Daylight: 12:08; 20° - 28° 

Day 8 - Bandipur National Park to Coonoor

On day 8 we will start with an early morning safari through Bandipur National Park, which used to be the private hunting reserve for the Maharaja of Mysore, before being inaugurated as a protected area in 1974. It covers 338 sq miles of a mainly forested biosphere, known as the Nilgiris. The type of wildlife roaming the park, are a small population of tigers and leopards, elephants, sambar and spotted deer, bison, macaques, langurs, antelope and over 200 different species of birds. On completion of the safari we will drive for approximately 2 hours to a tea estate*, where we will learn about the tea making process, from when the leaf is first plucked, to its arrival for rolling, drying and packaging. After our visit to the tea estate we will head to our hotel to check in and reconvene for dinner.

 

There are currently road works affecting this day which we expect to have been cleared by September when this tour runs, if not it will mean dropping the visit to the tea estate on this day but there is another opportunity to visit a tea estate in a couple of days. 

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Day 9 - Coonoor - Kotagiri (day trip to Dolphin's Nose and Keystone Foundation)

We will begin day 9 with a morning drive to a viewing point called Dolphins Nose. Following Dolphin's Nose we will visit the Keystone Foundation in Kotagiri. The foundation was set up in 1993, following an extensive on-foot geographical survey through Tamil Nadu.  On completion of the survey the group committed to support 11 indigenous communities across 15 hill ranges. Today it has expanded to working with 135 tribal communities. During our time with Keystone we will visit indigenous tribal villages while learning firsthand about how Keystone initiatives are ecologically supporting their survival and progression in the 21st century. More information about the foundation can be found at the end of this itinerary.  

 

Coonoor: Sunrise: 06:11; Sunset:18:18  Daylight: 12:07; Temp: 22° - 32°;

Day 10 Coonoor to Pollachi

Following breakfast on day 10, we will visit a neighbouring tea estate, to give us a second opportunity to capture tea estate scenes, before checking out of our hotel and driving approximately 3 h 30 mins to our overnight accommodation in Pollachi. On arrival we will check into our hotel and relax before reconvening for dinner.

Pollachi: Sunrise 06:10; Sunset 18:14; Daylight 12 h 03; Temp 22° - 32°; 

Day 11 - Pollachi to Athirappilly Water Falls

On day 11 following breakfast, we will spend the morning learning about the production of organically grown cotton, from farm to weave to factory with an opportunity of capturing this traditional process. Before continuing our journey to our next overnight accommodation near Anthirappilly Water Falls (approx. 3 h 30 mins). If we arrive in good time we will head out to the falls to capture before the light fades if not we will have another opportunity to do so following morning.

Athirappilly: Sunrise 06:13; Sunset 18:16; Daylight 12h 03; 

Day 12 - Athirappilly Water Falls to Kochi (Cochin)

On day 12 there will be a final opportunity for an early morning capture of Athirappilly falls before we checkout out and drive approximately 1h 45 mins to Kochi (also known as Cochin). On arrival we will check into our hotel, before heading out to explore the main attractions. We will focus our time around the Mattancherry district, a fascinating area ideal for street photography, consisting of the spice district (including a ginger factory), the large community laundry (where clothes are scrubbed by hand in huge concrete vats), the Jewish quarter (including the oldest Synagogue in India built in 1568), Mattancherry Palace and finally Cochin Fort with the iconic Chinese fishing nets, which will serve as our subject for our sunset capture. On completion of our street walk, we will our day with an evening performance of classical dance at the Kerala Kathakali Centre.

Cochin: Sunrise: 06:13; Sunset: 18:14; Daylight: 12 hours; Temp: 24°- 30°; 

Day 13 - Kochi (Cochin) to Alleppey

On day 13 there is a final opportunity photograph the fishing nets at sunrise. Following breakfast, we will check out and drive 1h 30 mins to Alleppey, to board a traditional Kettuvallam house boat for lunch on which we will spend the remainder of the afternoon touring the backwaters of Kerala. Kettuvallams are also known as rice barges, as before the age of railways and road transport they were the most effective mode for transporting rice to Cochin port. The name Kettuvallam translates as 'tied boat', which reflects that traditionally, no nails are used used during the construction of these boats. Instead Jackwood planks are tied together with coir rope and then coated with a black resin made from boiled cashew nut shells. Following our tour of the back waters we will either remain on the boat overnight or disembark to a local resort dependant on size of group (traditional boats have limited single accommodation and bathroom facilities and the boats remain moored at the jetty overnight, so we will elect the most comfortable option dependant on group size).

Alleppey: Sunrise 06:13; Sunset 18:15; Daylight: 12h 02; Temp 24° - 30°;

Day 14 - Alleppey to Kochi (Cochin)

On day 14, for those of you still hungry for sunrise shots, there will be an opportunity for a final capture of Alleppey beach before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Following breakfast and check out, we will head out on a small boat tour through the backwaters, as it is difficult to get close the the banks and villages whilst on the larger boats. Photographically this will give us more opportunities to photograph local life in and around rice paddy fields, banana plantations, coconut farms and fishing villages. Following our small boat tour we will drive back to Kochi, to check in and freshen up before reconvening for our final dinner before departure the following morning.

 

Kollam: Sunrise 06:11; Sunset 18:13; Daylight: 12h 02;

Day 15 - Kochi (Cochin) - Departure Day

Day 15 is departure day from Kochi. The nearest airport to Kochi is Cochin International Airport. We advise booking your flights in line with an 11 am check out at the latest and allow an hour for transfer to airport. Once you have booked your flights email us the details so we can organise your transfer for you. 

The ethical bit...

For each tour we select a charity or not for profit, that works in the area we visit to donate £25 per person to. For this tour we have selected The Keystone Foundation. The foundation was set up in 1993, by four founding members, including a socio-economist and ecologist, following an extensive on-foot geographical survey through Tamil Nadu. The survey exposed the group to fascinating ancient hunter gatherer activities, such as practised by the rock face scaling honey hunters, juxtaposed against an overzealous introduction of chemical fertilisers and tree harvesting. On completion the group committed to support 11 indigenous communities across 15 hill ranges. Today this has expanded to working with 135 tribal communities covering 15,000 people, on eco development initiatives including, non timber forest produce, land and water management and the revival of traditional agriculture. If you are interested in finding out more about the foundation please do not hesitate to visit their website www.keystone-foundation.org

www.keystone-foundation.org

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