Explore this region of outstanding natural beauty and its wealth of traditional textiles and culture. A land of tea and coffee plantations, small fishing ports, bustling cities, pristine beaches and sleepy backwaters.
Criss-crossed by coconut palms and rice paddies, this region is rich in traditional hand weaving, village industries and culture. We’ll give you a taste of traditional Kerala and its performance and village rituals which still flourish here.
On this tour you’ll experience authentic Kerala and be welcomed by her friendly, hospitable people.
Day one, welcome on arrival at Kochi International Airport. Transfer to your hotel for a four night stay in historic Fort Kochi. Kerala has a tropical climate, with temperatures around 33C in January.
On day two, enjoy a free day to rest, acclimatise and to explore the atmospheric and picturesque old streets and harbour of Fort Kochi. The glorious faded architecture is evidence of the various European traders who occupied Kochi in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Visit the Dutch Palace, Mattancherry’s spice warehouses and antique shops. Walk into Jew town, with the beautiful Paradesi Synagogue and embroidery shops. Stroll along the harbour front and see the famous Chinese nets in action.
You’ll find excellent cafe’s, art galleries, boutiques, and the unique Chinese fishing nets all within walking distance of your hotel . There’s so much to discover here.
Our first textile expedition takes us by ferry from Fort Kochi to Vypin Island. This area was once the home of the weavers to the Rajah of Cochin, now providing an income for a small community of artisans, producing hand woven cotton saris, dhotis and household linens.
Depending on the weaver’s schedule that day, we may see street sizing and warping and visit hand spinners in their homes, as well as seeing hand loom weavers at work in a women run co-operative and possibly coir rope makers at work.
In the evening discover the colour and skill of a traditional Kathakali performance with its intricate make-up, flamboyant costumes and subtle gestures.
Take a six hour rice boat trip on the serene local backwaters south of Fort Kochi. Float silently through the lush vegetation of the lagoons in a sustainable, motor-less rice boat, and enjoy a delicious Keralan style lunch in a local waterside village, with a demonstration of local crafts. In the afternoon, experience life along the smaller waterways in a local, punted wooden ‘snakeboat’
Experience a wonderfully scenic drive up into the mountains of the Western Ghats to the old British hill station and
tea-growing centre of Munnar. Your hotel for three nights is set in the contoured greenery of the tea gardens. Enjoy an evening walk around the surrounding coffee and spice gardens with a knowledgeable naturalist before dinner at our hotel.
The first day of our two day workshop with Aranya Natural at the natural dyeing and printing workshops of SRISHTI. Using natural dyes, we’ll create beautiful textiles with decorative techniques such as wax resist block printing, and tie dyeing using indigo, tea waste, marigold petals and eupatorium leaves.
Day two of our natural dyeing workshop with Aranya Natural where we’ll be experimenting with eco-printing and natural dyeing with various flowers and leaves. Share your results with the group and with our host before a visit to their extensively stocked on site store. An inclusive dinner will be provided at your hotel this evening ready for an early start in the morning.
A travel day through the most diverse and stunning scenery so far, winding up through Munnar’s sculptural tea gardens into the mountains that divide Kerala and Tamil Nadu and down into the Chinnar Wildlife and Adimali Tiger Reserves as we descend into Tamil Nadu . There is the possibility of spotting some wildlife, if you are lucky! We hope to fit in a visit to some of the last silk weavers working in their homes in a village near Pollachi, before a short drive to your nearby hotel resort for a one night stay.
A short drive back into the lush paddy fields and banana plantations of Kerala takes us to the remote rural craft village of Peruvamba, to see how traditional musical instruments are made in the age old way taught from father to son down through the generations using all natural materials. This whole area is immersed in traditional arts and crafts that would at one time have serviced the wealthy Namboothiri Brahmin families who served in the famous temples of this region and hosted the temple performances and festivals.
Learn how the complex gold and silver borders of the iconic Kerala sari are achieved on the Jaquard loom today on our visit to the famous weaving village of Kuthampully which has been devoted to weaving for the past 500 years. These saris are much prized in South India for weddings and festivals. We hope to have a taster session using the flying shuttle here for you to try your hand at. There are also over two hundred sari shops in the village to visit if you have the stamina!
To continue the theme of the lores of Kerala we’ll visit Vellinezhi, a village lost among the paddy fields that is the spiritual home of the most refined form of Kathakali. Here we’ll find echos of a time past lingering in the workshops where skilled craftsmen, wood carvers, decorators and stitchers make the ornate ornaments, crown and costume of the Kathakhali performers as they have been practising for centuries. It takes four months to make one set of ornaments for one Kathakali performer!
Experience the Indian Railway system today on the scenic route to a remote and unspoilt beach resort for three nights, near Kannur in North Kerala that provides delicious traditional Keralan home cooking. You’ll have time to unwind before we explore the rich cotton weaving heritage of the Kannur area. Experience the famous and unique north Keralan ritual of Theyyam during our stay in Kannur, where dedicated performers in magnificent colourful costumes and makeup, actually manifest as the various Hindu gods as they re-enact traditional stories and perform feats such as fire walking.
A free day to relax and explore miles of unspoilt beaches, watch the fishermen bring home the night’s catch, enjoy watching the sun set over the Arabian sea followed by an inclusive Keralan home cooked dinner. Ayurvedic massage and treatments are available nearby.
Explore one of Kannur’s thriving co-operative handloom weaving workshops this morning. The warping, winding, dyeing and weaving processes will be explained as you tour the workshops. After lunch at a nearby restaurant, we delve into the rich cultural life of the region at the Kerala Folklore Akademie, based in beautiful traditional Kerala palace. Alternatively, relax and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the secluded beach resort.
A flexible day to explore the shopping possibilities for clothes, fabrics, handloom, hand woven bed linen, khadi and sarees, in nearby Kannur or to simply enjoy another glorious day on the beach.
The end of your textile and culture journey with us for now. Enjoy a free transfer to Kozhikode International Airport for return flights to all destinations or to Kannur railway station for journeys south to Kochi.
Thank you for letting us share with you the extraordinary everyday of life in Kerala and for helping to raise the profile of weavers, spinners, dyers, and all Keralan artisans by travelling with us in this beautiful land between the sea and the mountains.
We hope this gentle introduction to Kerala will nourish and rejuvenate you and we look forward to welcoming you back soon to explore more of Gods Own Country with us.
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