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Taste of India

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Taste of India

1-Join tour in Bangalore
We begin our gastronomic journey in Bangalore, the thriving political hub of the region and one of India’s most cosmopolitan cities. Whilst the city itself is short on the historical sights so beloved of other parts of the country, it can boast possibly the richest variety of culinary choices in South India. Here, French and Italian cuisine shares the stage with regional Indian food from Andhra Pradesh and Kerala and this evening we’ll have our first opportunity to experience some of this fine food with dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Rooms Available

2-Explore Gandhi Bazaar food market
This morning we pay a visit to the Gandhi Bazaar, in the heart of the Basavangudi area of the city. Colourful and chaotic, it is a wonderful mix of sights, sounds and smells, selling as it does a vast array of fruit, vegetables and flowers. We’ll take a stroll through the market’s food section this morning, stopping to chat with the stall holders and enjoy the aroma of spices and freshly cooked masala dosas. Continuing on through to the 16th century Bull Temple, we’ll then meet up with our bus and drive to lunch at a Mangalorean restaurant, where we can enjoy a traditional Thali of fish, meat or vegetables. This afternoon we then drive past the immense Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore’s huge State Secretariat and the largest civic building in India. Our destination is the Kempegowda Museum, named after the founder of the city and filled with artefacts and memorabilia dedicated to Bangalore’s past (be aware, you will need to remove your shoes to enter the museum). This evening we will pay a visit to VV Puram, Bangalore’s famous street food quarter, where we can savour the delights of one of the city’s most renowned eating spots.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Rooms Available

3-Make momos at Bylekuppa Tibetan settlement
Leaving Bangalore after breakfast this morning we head west, towards the rugged landscapes of the Western Ghats. Our journey will take us by way of Bylakuppe, home to one of the oldest and largest Tibetan settlements in India. A large town of some 40,000 people, Bylakuppe boasts several monasteries, a traditional Tibetan medical facility and an important research centre that educates farmers and community leaders from the outlying Tibetan communities on the benefits of organic farming. We will pay a visit to the Golden Temple, the most revered of the town’s monastic buildings, before moving on to a momo restaurant to learn how to make the delicious and savoury dumplings. We’ll also have a chance to make (and eat) some of our own creations before departing the town for Madikeri.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Rooms Available

4-Walk through coffee, cardamon and pepper plantations
The cool and fertile highlands of the Coorg region are home to coffee plantations, cardamon and peppers and this morning we take a walk up to the Capitol Resorts Plantation to explore its rich variety of produce. Coorg cuisine is very much influenced by its geography and heritage. Rice is grown in an abundance here and Akki Ottis (rice chapattis) are a favourite for breakfast. Baimbale Curry, made from bamboo shoots and Kumm, whose main ingredient are the wild mushrooms grown in the surrounding forests, are other favourites, whilst Pandi curries hark back to a time when the locals hunted wild boar. Lunch today takes the form of an interactive cooking demonstration, after which we will pay a visit to the local market, to wander through the stalls of spices, coffee and honey. Dinner this evening will be at our own expense and we plan to pay a visit to the Raintree Restaurant, a favoured haunt of the locals.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Rooms Available

5-Market visit and dinner with Hema Nandi
Today we drive to the city of Mysore, famed for its silk, sandalwood and its Dasara festivities. The so called ‘City of Palaces’, it was, until the middle years of the last century, the heart of the regal state of Mysore. Today it is renowned as the cultural capital of Karnataka. Our journey will take us by way of the Dubare Elephant Camp, located on the banks of the River Kaveri, where we will stop and enjoy some time interacting with these gentle giants. We should arrive in Mysore in time for lunch, after which we will take a tour through the Devaraj market with Hema Nandi, a member of Mysore royalty and a renowned chef in her own right. She will accompany us through the fruit and vegetable market, before hosting us for dinner this evening at her house. Following recipes that have been passed down from the royal kitchens, she will demonstrate how to make a few local dishes which we can then all share.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Rooms Available

6-Mysore sightseeing; overnight train to Madurai
This morning we will explore some of Mysore’s cultural highlights including the sumptuous Maharajah’s Palace and the famous Nandi Bull, located in the Chamundi Hills that overlook the city. Originally built in the 14th century, the palace is an opulent mélange of Hindu and British architecture, filled with stained glass, mirrored halls and a fascinating mix of the elegant and the gaudy. Lunch today will be a Thali at the Lalitha Mahal Palace, where we will watch the chef demonstrate how to make traditional dosas. This evening we then board an overnight train on to Madurai, one of the oldest cities in South Asia.
Overnight: Basic Overnight Train

7-Visit the Meenaski Temple; afternoon free
Arriving in Madurai early this morning we will drive to our hotel to freshen up, before taking a sightseeing tour of the city. We’ll visit the stunning Tirumalai Nayaka Palace and the 16th century Meenakshi Temple, whose imposing gopurams (monumental gates) and dominating towers rise above the chaotic exuberance of the seemingly endless throngs of pilgrims. The afternoon has been left free to explore Madurai at our own pace, with an option to join a fascinating ‘Once upon a Madurai’ walking tour of the city. Offering a remarkable insight into the city, the tour is led by local people, who lead us through the streets and temples at the heart of the city, providing local colour and some wonderful stories of city life. This evening there will be an option to return to the Meenakshi Temple to witness the ‘Going to Bed Ceremony’, where a festive procession of priests and musicians accompany a statue of the Lord Shiva as he is carried to the chamber of his wife, Parvati, on a silver chariot.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Rooms Available

8-Cooking demonstration of Chettinad’s spicy cuisine
After breakfast we drive to Chettinad today, a region famed for its cuisine, its architecture and its Tamil temples. Typically spicy and pungent, Chettinad cuisine is one of the main reasons that people visit the area and the hospitality of the locals is legendary. Its dishes combine fresh ground masalas and boiled eggs with sun-dried meats and salted vegetables, reflecting the region’s dry environment. Traditional home of the Nattukottai Chettiars, a once prosperous banking and business community, the area is also renowned for its impressive 18th century mansions and today we’ll visit a market, a temple and one of the town’s palatial residences before enjoying lunch and a cookery demonstration at a local hotel. Later this afternoon we will then drive back to Madurai for a second evening in the city.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Rooms Available

9-Drive to Thekkady; spice plantation tour
Today we drive towards the border between Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the small town of Thekkady, close to the Periyar National Park. This is a land of dense jungle and savannah grasslands, where elephant, tiger and sambar roam. It is also a region famed for its spices, particularly black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and clove. Indeed, it was to the spice rich shores of the Malabar coast that Christopher Columbus was heading when he bumped into America by mistake. We’ll enjoy a talk on Ayuveda and Sattvic cooking today, a diet very much considered to be beneficial to both the body and the mind. We will also visit the Kumily spice market and take a tour of a local plantation, to enjoy an aromatic journey through what was once one of the world’s most sought after commodities. This evening is free.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Rooms Available

10-Boat ride through the backwaters
Continuing our journey towards the Arabian Sea coast this morning we head next for Alleppey, one of the most important region’s on the west coast for cashew and coir production. Occupying the alluvial plain between the Indian Ocean and the Western Ghats, Allepey is the ideal spot to enjoy a little something of the area’s famous backwaters and on arrival we will take a motorboat ride to the Attumukham Restaurant & Fish Corner for lunch. Featured in Rick Stein’s recent series on Indian cuisine, we will enjoy a cooking demonstration by the chefs and even get a chance to join in, before returning to Alleppey after lunch by way of one of the town’s famous toddy shops. From here we then drive on to Kochi (Cochin), the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’ and the site of India’s oldest European settlement. This evening has been left free for us to enjoy a little of this coastal gem at our own pace.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Rooms Available

11-Kochi sightseeing; Keralan cooking lesson
This morning we take a tour of Kochi’s historic heart. Home to the oldest church and the oldest synagogue in India, Kochi also boats the majestic Mattancherry Palace, originally built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, but extensively renovated by the Dutch some 100 years later to earn it the title of ‘The Dutch Palace’. We’ll also take in the famous cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, said to have been brought here by Chinese traders from the court of Kublai Khan before paying a visit to the Ginger House Restaurant (also featured by Rick Stein). This afternoon we enjoy a demonstration of Keralan cooking, with the emphasis being very much on food for the mind, body and soul, following as it does the principles of yogic philosophy. This evening then offers a chance to enjoy a performance of traditional Kathakali dancing, considered by many to be the very essence of Keralan culture.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Rooms Available

12-Morning fish market visit, cooking lesson
This morning we pay a visit to Kochi’s bustling fish market, to choose ingredients for lunch. The plan for today is for us all to prepare something for a buffet lunch, under the expert guidance of a local chef. Dividing into teams, we will head out armed with a recipe and a list of ingredients and buy what we need from the local markets. With the help of our resident expert, we will then prepare the meal back at the hotel for lunch and a prize will be awarded for the best effort. Our culinary journey is perfectly rounded off this evening with a visit to a local seafood restaurant for a farewell dinner (at our own expense).
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Rooms Available

13-Tour ends in Kochi
Our tour ends this morning after breakfast.

Tour includes:

12 Breakfast
9 Lunch
3 Dinner
Bus, Train
11 nights Standard Hotel
1 night Basic Overnight Train
Tour Staff:
Driver(s), Explore Tour Leader, Local Guide(s)
Group Size:
Generally 8 – 14

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