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Download Tribes and Temples of India Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Bhubaneshwar
There are no planned activities today but if you have the energy, explore on your own! There will be a group meeting and welcome dinner this evening. Overnight in Bhubaneswar.
Day 2: Bhubaneshwar - Temples & Tribal Museum
Today we explore Bhubaneshwar with a Heritage tour. We will visit some of the temples that are right in the city starting with the Mukteswara Temple and continue onto the Parsurameswar Temple. We will have walk around the city streets before we visit the Tribal Museum. Dinner and overnight in Bhubaneswar.
Day 3: Sun Temple (UNESCO); Puri by Rickshaw
Today we travel along country backroads to reach the UNESCO World Heritage Sun Temple in Konark. Conceived as a giant chariot, this is one of ancient India's architectural marvels. We then skirt the coastal Marine Drive to the pilgrimage city of Puri. In the afternoon, we explore Puri by cycle rickshaw.
Day 4: Explore Chilika Lake
We have an early start to our day with a visit to Asia's largest salt water lagoon; Chilika Lake. Enjoy a quiet boat cruise as you search for bird life along the banks of the lake. We finish our boat journey at the former colonial town of Gopalpur on the Sea. Once a prominent trading port for the Dutch, this little fishing village is now a popular beach destination for the world. We have time to relax by the beach before our upcoming remote tribal journey.
Day 5: Journey to Tribal India
Today we have another early start as we have a long day of driving as we leave the coast and head for the rolling hills of the Eastern Ghats. Adivasis, or literally "original inhabitants", are the indigenous population of India. Nestled in the remote hills, they constitute 25% of Orissa's population - the most populous Adivasi region of all of India. Approximately 400 tribal villages compromise 62 diverse ethnicities and although co-dependent, they fiercely guard their own distinct traditions. We learn about the cotton trade as we drive through cotton fields before arriving at our hotel in the late afternoon.
Day 6: Muniguda, New Hope NGO Community
Today is a special day as we have a full day exploring some of the surrounding villages. We meet some wonderful people, as well as see the younger boys perform their traditional dance for us and the villagers. We will visit an orphange and learn why these children are here and also enjoy lunch with them. This is a special opportunity to meet these friendly and fascinating people in their village in this remote region.
Day 7: Chatikona Market & Dongria Kondh Tribe, To Chandoori Sai
We say goodbye to our gracious hosts at New Hope community and drive to the Chatikona Market in hopes to see the Dongria Kondh people. This is a weekly market for the Dongria Kondh community who descend the hills to trade local produce once a week. A healthy balance maintained between co-dependency and individual identity is most apparent during these occasions. We explore this market and after lunch, we continue onto Chandoori Sai where we arrive at our guesthouse in the late evening. Dinner and overnight in Chandoori Sai.
Day 8: Onukadelli Market and Paraja & Gaddava Tribes
Today is an exciting day as we rise before the sun to journey 3 hours to the colorful Onukadelli Market. Here we hope to see India's most ancient indigenous communities; the Bonda Tribe. The Bonda people are also seldom seen within the markets and surrounding areas due to the remoteness of their villages. We will see the Paraja & Gaddava people and possibly other tribes. Soak up the festive atmosphere and try your luck in the ancient art of bartering. Explore a typical Gaddava village, visit their homes and fields, learning about their farming methods and enjoy a traditional Dhemsa tribal dance. Depending on the days events, we will learn about the communities in Chandoori Sai and will walk through the local village, famous throughout the region for their hand-crafted terracotta pots. You can even try your hand at the clay wheel. Dinner and overnight in Chandoori Sai.
Day 9: To Vishakhapatnam
Today we travel to Vishakhapatnam, stopping in the early morning to visit a local market as they trade and sell livestock, baskets and so much more to local villagers. Today is a long travel day so upon arrival you will have a free evening to relax before our early flight the next day.
Day 10: Fly to Chenni, Drive to Mahabali Puram
Today we have a chance to relax in the morning. After lunch we fly from from Vishakhapatnam to Chenni. We then have a scenic drive to Mahabalipuram (also known as Mamallapuram), once a flourishing port of the Pallava Kings of Kanchipuram. Upon arrival we will have a relaxing evening.
Day 11: Shore & Varaha Cave Temples (UNESCO)
We explore Mahabali Puram with a visit to the Shore Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, originally constructed around the 7th century and which contains shrines dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. We continue onto the Five Rathas (Pancha Pandava Rathas dating from the 7th century and ending with the UNESCO World Heritage site and Varaha Cave Temple. After lunch we will visit the Arjuna's Penance, also known as the Descent of the Ganges which has been designated as a World Heritage site.
Day 12: Pondicherry - Sri Aurobindo Ashram
This morning we drive to Pondicherry to explore this ancient city, which was prosperous as early as the 1st century. Legend has it that Sage Agastya built his Ashram here and Pondicherry became a Vedic center. The French became the rulers in 1816, ruling until it became a part of India. We walk through the French streets before we visit the famous Sri Aurobindo Ashram and The Sri Vedapureeswarar Temple.
Day 13: Thanjavur - Brihadeewarar Temple
We journey to Tanjore (Thanjavur) where we visit the grandest temple in all of South India. The World Heritage listed Brihadeeswarar Temple is known for its superb religious, historical and artistic associations. The dome of the Temple was made from a single piece of granite and weighs approximately 80 tonnes. The sanctum of the temple houses a 13ft high lingam that has a circumference of 23ft.
Day 14: Tiruchirapalli - Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple; To Madurai
We depart early this morning for Tiruchirapalli (also called Trichy), situated on the banks of the river Cauvery. Tiruchirapalli is the Chola Center from the Sangam Age. The Nayaks of Madurai built the town and the Fort, which played a vital role in the Carnatic War in the 18th century. It is now a center for pilgrimage and commerce. Upon arrival, we visit Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple which is dedicated to Vishnu and dates from the 10th century. We also pay a visit to the Cavery River Ghats.
Day 15: Meenakshi Temple
Madurai is celebrated for its Meenakshi Temple which is an exquisite example of Dravidian style architecture: it has nine majestic Gopuram (towers) which are covered in fantastic, multi-colored images of animals, gods and goddesses. The most interesting feature of this temple is the thousand-pillared hall, built in the 16th century. Some of its life-size sculptures are a marvel of patience and artistic skill. We will have an early dinner and then return to the temple in the evening, during 'Pooja Time'.
Day 16: To Thekkady
We drive to Thekkady where Periyar National Park is located. After lunch, there will be time to relax and enjoy the surrounding area. We will take a walk for those that want to and watch as the shop keepers slice the plantains into huge pans of oil to make salty, crisp platain chips.
Day 17: Periyar: Boat Journey and Spice Garden
This morning we enjoy a morning boat ride on Lake Periyar in hopes of seeing sambar deer, black monkeys, otters and bird life. Periyar is one of India's most picturesque reserves. We will also visit the Spice Gardens to see pepper, coffee, cardamon, vanilla, and clove growing and learn about how it is all harvested and processed. This afternoon we can relax, go for a walk or enjoy a soothing Ayurvedic massage which is part of the ancient Indian lifestyle. We will have dinner at the spice garden in the local home cooked by a local family and enjoy the evening getting to know the family. Overnight in Thekkady.
Day 18: Kumarakom
Today, we descend from the hills to Kumarakom. The ancient village and plantation homes, called Tharawads, have been painstakingly transported and reconstructed using ancient carpentry methods. Set around the lake and the irrigation canals, they retain their original charm with thick doors, intricate window carvings and terra cotta tile floors. Traditionally, Keralites bathed in the rivers and in rural areas many people still do, however our cottages feature bathrooms, some located in an inner courtyard so you can shower al fresco under a starlit sky in complete privacy.
Day 19: Backwaters cruise, Kochi (Cochin)
Today we embark on a small boat journey into the true Kerala where we see local families and how life is lived in the backwaters of India. We spend the day cruising on a boat through small canals; passing by rice paddies, villages and coconut plantations. Learn how these backwaters are actually man-made and the influences the Portuguese had from faith to style of living.
Day 20: Sites of Cochin; Synagogue, Dutch Palace & St. Francis Church
This morning we visit the synagogue; the center for the Jewish community - which can be traced back to the exodus from Palestine 2000 years ago. The magnificent structure was built in 1568. The Great Scrolls of the Old Testament, copper plates of inestimable historical worth containing the privileges granted to Jews by the Cochin Maharajas and the exquisite Chinese hand painted tiles are artifacts of great interest at the synagogue.
Day 21: Depart Kochi (Cochin)
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.
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