Kerala is known as much for its scenic beauty as for its rich culture, flavorsome cuisine and varied flora-fauna. The swinging coconut trees, the pristine beaches, peaceful backwaters and coastal cuisine. We have seen it all in postcards and heard it all by near ones who have been here. But this trip is going to be much more that backwaters and scenic beauty. In this tour we are going to explore the cultural heritage of God’s own land. Understand the influence of different communities in shaping the culture, architecture and the milieu of this place. Music is an essential part of this trip. From instrument makers to the memorial of a late playback singer. If Kerala has been on your list but you haven’t yet visited the place, maybe you have been waiting for just such a sensorial itinerary.
6 days - 5 nights
- We arrive in Kochi in the morning and look forward to a day where we go for a heritage walk and indulge in an interactive session with Mehboob Orchestra.
Kochi & Mattancherry are twin cities that is a cultural cauldron. From the Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese to the English and Dutch, both places have seen many foreign and colonial influences on its people and places. More than 30 different communities from across India have made the twin cities their homes too.
Fort Kochi Heritage Walk: We Take a tour of Fort Kochi's historic town and learn of its wondrous past and rich present including stories of ancient architecture, multi-cultural cuisines, musical influences and much more. Heritage buildings, home stays, streets named after yester-year heroes make for interesting stories as we walk down the lanes of this sleepy yet vibrant town.
Mattancherry Walk: As we walk from one lane to another, it will be brought to your notice how different aesthetics and architecture blend. More than 30 communities, each with its own unique cultural uniqueness, religious beliefs and customs have made Fort Kochi their home.
Mehboob Orchestra: Walking down the quiet streets of Fort Kochi you will find Mehboob Memorial Orchestra. Formed in the loving memory of the renowned Malayalam playback singer H Mehboob, Mehboob Memorial Orchestra is the first music group in Kerala that specialises in ghazal performances. The evening is a fun filled get together of the still active orchestra members singing popular songs of yesteryears. This is an initiative to revive the culture of 'Mehfils' in Fort Kochi.
- Today we tick off Pokkali Farm visit and a boat ride in the backwaters from our list.
Pokkali Farm visit: In a stunning backwater setting, this tour gives an opportunity to understand one of the oldest known crops, rice, cultivated through a symbiotic farming tradition. It's known for its tolerance to salinity and hence positioned as a climate change resistant food. The day’s excursion highlight involves interaction with farmers and community leaders who sustain the tradition against many constraints. Day’s activities involve organic farm visit, culinary trail, lunch with farmers, and a country boat cruise circumnavigating the island.
Transfer to Muziris after Lunch
Muziris is an ancient port town in Kerala brimming with history and culture. The remnants of its past glory are still visible in place-names, architecture, diet etc. The region is dotted with numerous monuments of a bygone era that conjure up a vast and vivid past. The destination highlights the co habitation of Jews, Muslims and Hindus in the past, the emotions of which still continues. Some of the important sites to visit are various churches, mosques and temples, markets like Pattanam and Kottappuram and Chavittu Nadaka performance centres.
- Today we go to Palakkad, watch Kaniyarkali – a folk dance ritual, visit a traditional instrument maker and then go to Chembai to understand Tamil influence in traditional music.
Palakkad is a destination interesting for its geological relevance also. It has been the gateway of migration for eons through the 'Gap' in the Western Ghats hence making it a cultural hotspot.
Kaniyarkali: A folk dance ritual practiced only in the few villages of Palakkad. Conducted mostly as a post-harvest festival during the summer seasons. Kaniyarkali has various movements influenced by the ancient martial arts of Kerala, the Kalaripayattu. Sometimes depicting their lifestyle through humour and sarcasm (which will be interpreted live for us).
Instrument Making: There are very few practitioners who make traditional percussions in Kerala. Some of the members of communities who migrated from Tamil Nadu and settled on the banks of river Nila still continue to practice the art. The interactive visits ensure that you get a sense of their lifestyle, visit the workshops and may be play a note or two on one of the instruments.
Visit to Chembai: Palakkad lifestyle is influenced by music from across South India especially Carnatic music brought by the Tamil. Some of the remaining Brahmin settlements (Agraharam), as well as the village where famous proponent Sri Chembai Vaidya Natha Bhagavatar was born continue to be the bastion of classical music. The lecture demonstration gives an opportunity to listen to some of the music and percussion associated with it. The interactive session will happen within the inner courtyard of heritage homes.
- Today we will witness Kathakali classes, Glove Puppetry and a dance performance that you can join in. Let’s go to Shornur.
Shornur railway station, which is one of the major railway junction in Kerala is 5 minutes away from village Cheruthuruthy, our destination today. Set on the banks of River Nila, this village was chosen by Sri Vallathol, great Malayalam Poet to set up an art school (which later became Kerala Kalamandalam) to preserve classical dances forms of Kerala.
Day with The Masters: A rare opportunity to visit classes where they teach various art forms ranging from classical Kathakali to percussions. In these 3 hours walk through the campus of Kerala Kalamandalam, one gets to see the strenuous effort taken by teachers and students in this residential school. All visits will be accompanied by storytellers who will help interpret art forms and their present relevance. Anyone with a slight interest in music and art will immensely love the energy and ambiance of the place.
Glove Puppetry: Centuries ago folk drama changed to Kathakali since that was the popular form in Kerala. From this was born a new form of glove puppetry that combined aspects of puppetry as well as traditional play acting. As the puppets come alive the performer emotes the characters and presents their lives. The performer belongs to one of the four families of Paruthippully village who practice the craft taking it to the many hamlets in the three districts around the Nila.
The evening is dedicated to rhythmic music and folk art forms that will make you want to dance along with the locals. There's no way one can just sit and watch performances of the evening. Organized with the village community, the performance happens in one of the artists’ household.
- Our journey today takes us to Tirunavaya where we go on a musical trail and also meet the Pulluva Folk Musicians.
Tirunavaya is a small village along the banks of river Nila and is dotted with historical relics and stories. Colonisation drive saw Swiss German Basel Mission entering the area as part of religious conversion and trade. Tirunavaya is also important for the Hindus because of the requiem they do for the dead on the banks of the river. Islamic influence in martial arts, Ayurveda and lifestyle is another highlight of the region.
Musical Trail: Along the banks of River Nila in Kerala, thrived many forms of art in the years gone by! One such incredible art-form is the enchanting percussion-based music; traditionally restricted to be performed within the confines of the temple sanctum sanctorum. Discover the story of how one inspirational proponent of this art took the music to the masses. Follow the gradual decline of the art in the aftermath of his demise and revel in the struggle of his son to protect, document and nurture this precious heirloom of centuries.
Pulluva Folklore: Pulluvars are the folk ballads of Kerala. Legend says they migrated from North India many centuries ago and settled on the banks of River Nila. Out of the 800 families living in Kerala, some of them still continue their tradition of snake worship and as part of the rituals, they make very interesting floor decorations. They also use very unique musical instruments made of pot and single strings: pulluva kudam and pulluva veena. Locals believe that their singing the praises of Snake Gods protects the villages from snakes.
- With this our Musical and Cultural trail of Kerala comes to an end. Today when we pack our bags and go back to Kochi for our return flights, we take with us bits of musical history. To share this extravaganza with people we meet next.
- Stay on twin sharing basis.
- Commute between the cities and to excursions
- Pickup and drop from Kochi airport (on group basis)
- Breakfasts (except on Day 1)
- Live music as mentioned in the itinerary
- Lunch on Day2
- Glove Puppetry as mentioned in the itinerary
- 5% GST (Rs. 1,750)
- Air and train tickets
- Lunches and Dinners
- Any personal expense like shopping, tipping, etc
- Water bought for personal consumption
- Anything not included in inclusions
Note: Single occupancy can be arranged at an extra cost.