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Golden Chariot Luxury Rail & Kerala Backwaters

A unique brand-new cruise along the Kerala Backwaters, a network of scenic canals, lake and lagoons with included visits to Kerala's remote villages, temples and churches on 18-passenger Vaikundam as well as a 3-night luxury Golden Chariot journey.

Fly-Cruise Package
15 nights

River Cruise Holiday
Kerala Backwaters Cruising
Kerala Backwaters Cruising
Chinese Fishing Nets
Sunset in Cochin
Cochin - Sari Making
A Local School
A local village
Kerala Backwaters
Kathakali Dance
Metal Mirror Making
St Mary's Church
Kalaripayattu - Martial Arts Performance

Call us now on 01756 706500 to secure your cabin!


This exclusive holiday showcases the culture, wildlife and history of this enchanting region of Southern India. Step aboard the luxurious Golden Chariot for a 3-night rail journey through Karnakata, visiting Bandipur National Park, the royal Mysore Palace and UNESCO ruins at Hampi, with sumptuous food and immaculate service on board. Embark your ship for a relaxing and enlightening 7-night cruise through Kerala’s labyrinth of rivers, canals and lagoons. Abundant emerald coconut trees and dazzling sunsets make this ‘Green Venice of the East’ the most serene and fascinating tropical destination.

Begin with a 2-night stay in Bengaluru where you can take part in a walking tour of Colonial Bengaluru. Next, you will board the Golden Chariot, a luxury train equipped with modern amenities and beautifully decorated compartments, for a relaxing 3-night journey to Bengalore. Along the way you can visit many attractions such as Mysore Palace and Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage site. You will disembark to in Bangalore where you will fly to Kochi and transfer to Vaikom.

After a pre-cruise stay, transfer to join Vaikundam for a 7-night cruise along Kerala's Backwaters. This unique itinerary explores off-the-beaten track, visiting remote villages along the way. Stop at the village of Chenganda and spend time with the coir weavers, the shell harvesters and farmers, engaging in conversation with them about the riparian life, and watching various indigenous techniques of fishing. It is common in Kerala that the ladies spend their afternoons in their homes coir weaving to make extra income for the family, so you can see how coir weavers turn the natural fibre from the coconut into a strong rope. We set out by country boat the next day to explore the migratory and endemic birds of Kumarakom, which is a cluster of lagoons of Vembanad wetland eco-system at the backdrop of mangroves, paddy fields and coconut groves. Cruise to Mankompu village where we will witness a cultural performance. During harvest festivals such as Onam (August/September), Thiruvathira (middle of December) and the annual festival following Vishu (middle of April), the village comes alive with various rituals and cultural performances.

Another highlight of the cruise is a visit to Aranmula. Here, the craftsmen preserve a special skill making mirrors using a method which has been perfected over generations, and these mirrors have a distinctive feature as they are 100% reflective, unlike common mirrors. The locals consider these mirrors to bring luck when placed in the home. One of your last stops is the village of Kanjippadom, here you can explore the village we will also visit the boat building yard to understand the traditional method of building wooden boats (Kettuvallom) by joining wooden planks using coir, cotton and natural resin. On the next day you will transfer back to Kochi for a 1-night hotel stay before boarding your return flight home.

This itinerary is ideal for the more adventurous traveller who is looking for somewhere new and different to explore, off-the-beaten-track.

FH248 Operated by Far Horizon



Day 1-2 - UK - Bengaluru (India)

Today take your international flight to India, arriving the following morning into Bengaluru. After clearing immigration and customs, step into the receiving area where you will be met by our local representative and transferred to your hotel, the Taj Westend (or similar).Overnight at the Hotel (No Meals)

Day 3 - Bengaluru

Today, after an early breakfast, we will proceed for a walking tour of Colonial Bengaluru. In this tour we will be tracing Bengaluru’s colonial connections and getting to know how the events that have taken place here have had far reaching consequences, on shaping Bengaluru today.Learn about the Sahibs (Sir) and the Memsaabs (Ma’am) of the British Raj, by exploring the still traceable remnants of The Raj way of life. Get enthralled by stories of interesting characters that resided in Bangalore, like Winston Churchill and Ronald Ross to name a few.Explore all of these through the churches, bungalows and pubs that make colonial Bengaluru.Return to hotel and rest of the day is free at leisure.Overnight at the Hotel (B)

Day 4 - Board Golden Chariot Train (Bengaluru to Nanjangud)

Today check-out from the hotel and we drive to Yeshwantpur Railway Station to board the Golden Chariot train for the "Glimpses of Karnataka" journey.Arrive at Yeshwantpur Railway Station and proceed on your sojourn after welcome and registration.Lunch shall be served on-board.Proceed for a game drive at Bandipur National Park from Nanjangud Town, approx. 50 km from Bandipur.Return to the train for dinner.Overnight on the Golden Chariot (B, L, D)

Day 5 - Mysore

After breakfast on-board, proceed to visit the Palace of Mysore.Return to the train for lunch.Visit Srirangapatnam as an optional excursion.Proceed for dinner at a city hotel with cultural activities.Return to the train as it proceeds to Hampi.Overnight on the Golden Chariot (B, L, D)

Day 6 - Hampi

After breakfast on-board, proceed to visit the capital of Vijayanagara Kingdom – Hampi. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the ruins at Hampi tell a tale of opulence and grandeur of the kingdom.Return to the train for lunch.Visit Anegundi as an Optional excursion in the afternoon.Enjoy an Indian evening on-board followed by dinner.Overnight on the Golden Chariot (B, L, D)

Day 7 - Deboard from the Train & Fly Bengaluru to Kochi

Breakfast shall be served on-board. After disembarkation at Bangalore railway station we step into the receiving area where we will be met and transferred to Bangalore airport to board the flight for Kochi.Arrive Kochi, step into the receiving area where you will be met and escorted to your hotel.Overnight at the Taj Malabar Hotel (or similar) (B)

Day 8 - Drive from Kochi – Pallippuram – Vaikom & board the Cruise

This morning, we Transfer from the hotel in Kochi to the embarkation jetty at the ancient village ‘Pallippuram’, at the northern border of Kochi. Enroute, we visit a Kalari – the traditional training centre for authentic Martial art (Kalarippayattu). Kalarippayattu in Kerala has its origin from the ancient Indian scripture, Dhanur Veda.The south-west corner of a Kalari houses the guardian deity of the Kalari. The seven tiers symbolise the seven abilities that each person must possess: Strength, Patience, Power to command, the posture, the expression and the Sound. Flowers, incense and water are offered to the deity every day. Before starting the day’s practice, it is the norm for practitioners to pray to the deity. There is also a Guruthara inside all Kalari, where a lamp is kept burning in reverence to all the gurus (masters) of the Kalari.After the performance, we drive to the embarkation jetty.Our welcoming team on-board will help you with smooth check-in, give a briefing about the facilities on-board the safety measures to be familiar with. Relish the Sadya, the traditional freshly cooked complete meal served on clean Banana leaf. Unwind as the boat leaves behind the bustling township and cruises gently to the remote villages. By evening we arrive at the ancient pilgrim town Vaikom and drop anchor.We will have a short walk to visit local cultural centre to watch Kathakali, the traditional dramatic and mimetic dance form, which plays stories from epics. It is a unique blend of dance, music, action, literature and make-up.We will experience the short tuk-tuk ride to the ancient temple. The town is centered at the ancient temple of Lord Shiva. The town made an indelible mark in the history of Casteism in Kerala, when the feudal ban on underprivileged communities from entering temples and their premises, was abolished due to a massive protest of the public. This incident had set in motion the social reformation in Kerala.The architecture of the temples in Kerala is based on ancient science of construction and geographical features of the land. As per the traditional architecture, each element of temple represents an element of human body and, a temple is not only the space for spiritual enlightenment but also the venue for harmonious social networking. Even the devotees from far off places come all the way down to Vaikom for ritualistic ceremonies such as the first meal of babies, marriage and thanks giving offers such as meal for the poor, cultural performances and specific rituals prescribed by the Veda.After watching the ritual by sunset, we return to boat and relax.Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

Day 9 - Vaikom - Chenganda - Kumarakom

After breakfast we sail to Chenganda village. The people of this rustic village are having a laid-back and peaceful life. Visit the village spending time with the coir weavers, the shell harvesters and farmers, engaging in conversation about the riparian life and watching various indigenous techniques of fishing. Chenganda village is devoted to making coir. Return to the boat and cruise to Thanneermukkom. The barrage at Thanneermukkom built across Vembanad, the largest lake of Kerala, divides the lake into two; one half with perennial salty water and the other with fresh water enriched by rivers. This afternoon, visit the house of a Syrian Christian family for a home hosted lunch. This house is located on an island which was made by the men of the house, by reclaiming land from Backwaters. A walk in the farm will be educative. The hostess will demonstrate the preparation of traditional Syrian Christian cuisine. You may also try your hand at cooking and listen to the story of her family, of three generations of laborious men, and equally strong women who supported their pioneering spirit. (B,L,D)

Day 10 - Kumarakom – Kavalam

Early this morning, set out by country boat to watch the migratory and endemic birds of Kumarakom, which is a cluster of lagoons of Lake Vembanad, at the backdrop of mangroves, paddy fields and coconut groves. Waterfowl, cuckoo, owl, egret, heron and the water duck are some of the endemic species seen here. Parrots, teal, larks, flycatchers, wood beetle, and other birds are seen here during their respective migratory seasons. Return to the boat, refresh and while cruising an elaborate breakfast will be served. While cruising the lake, pass by expanses of the oldest paddy cultivating regions reclaimed from the bed of the Lake – Vembanad. These paddy fields are below sea level. Lunch will be served while cruising. Arrive in Kavalam where river Pampa reverses its course and drain into Lake Vembanad. You may take the ferry to explore the region, walk along the dykes surrounding the expanses of paddy fields and interact with the farmers and women’s collective. As you cruise, along the way we interact with toddy tappers, who collect the sap of coconut palm and make the alcoholic beverage – Toddy. Learn about the process of making toddy and an opportunity to taste it. Continue the cruise till dusk, through the remote interiors of Kavalam. (B,L,D)

Day 11 - Kavalam – Kainakari – Mankompu

After breakfast cruise to Kainakari, passing through the oldest and core regions of paddy cultivation on reclaimed land from the lake. Take the country boat to cruising through the narrow canals, get closer to the laid-back, yet harmonious, life along the way. Stop to visit the Chavara Bhavan, the ancestral home of Saint Kuriakose Chavara which is now preserved as a museum. Saint Chavara, the first canonized Catholic male saint of Indian origin, was the co-founder of the first congregation for men, the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate – C.M.I, and of a similar one for women, Congregation of the Mother of Carmel C.M.C. He had dedicated his life for the upliftment of the poorest among the poor. Return to boat. After having lunch onboard, cruise to Mankompu village. While cruising, enjoy an informative lecture by an Ayurveda doctor to know about this 5000-years old Science of life – Ayurveda, which is still being practiced by the local people. Cruise to Mankompu village where we will witness a cultural performance. (B,L,D)

Day 12 - Mankompu – Champakkulam – Changankari

Excursion to Aranmula:After early breakfast, we drive to an ancient village, Aranmula. En route you may visit a Rubber plantation. Aranmula famous for its metal mirrors. The technical know-how behind the making of this unique metal mirror is confined to only some households of master craftsmen in Aranmula. These mirrors have the distinctive feature of 100% reflection unlike the common mirror. These mirrors are unique to this locale and haven’t yet been replicated anywhere else in the world.We will then visit the ancient temple of Lord Krishna “Aranmula Sree Parthasarthy Temple”. The story goes that the temple had its idol brought here in a raft made with “Aru (six)” pieces of “Mula (bamboo)”. This is what gave the place Aranmula its name as well. Dedicated to the Hindu Deity Lord Krishna, the temple is situated on the banks of the Pamba River.We will have a traditional lunch at a beautiful house of a local family, situated along the bank of Pampa River.Post lunch we will visit the institute intended for promotion and presentation of Traditional Architecture and Mural Painting.We will drive back to board our boat and will sail to Champakkulam village. Kerala’s old spice trade used to pass through this town enroute to Cochin and other ports on the west coast. Champakkulam settled more than 1000 years ago by Syrian Christian traders, who later converted to Roman Catholicism under the Portuguese. We will visit the St. Mary’s Church, one among the oldest churches in Kerala, the St. Mary’s Church or Champakkulam Church in Alappuzha is believed to be one of the seven established by St. Thomas in AD 427.As you stroll along you get the chance to interact with the school children, local small-scale entrepreneurs and the local artisans (open on weekdays) who make biblical heroes. Continue cruising to the remote village – Changankari, passing through the serene canals.Dinner on board.Overnight onboard RV Vaikundam (B, L, D)

Day 13 - Changankari – Thottappalli

Early this morning, enjoy a leisurely walk in the laid-back village. After breakfast, continue our sailing towards the coastal village, Thottappalli, passing by the spillway at the southern area of Kuttanad, which prevents the saline water at river mouth from flooding the low-lying paddy fields. Get to know about indigenous practices of paddy cultivation on reclaimed land at lower altitude than the Sea. Honouring your cruise in Kerala, plant a sapling of coconut. Coconut tree is considered as the ‘Kalpavriksha ‘or the Divine tree of Kerala because all parts of coconut tree are useful in one way or the other: the water inside is a healthy drink; the fresh kernel and the oil extract from dried kernel are inevitable components of South Indian cuisine; fibre from the coconut husk is used to make coir, mats and geotextile; the palm fronds are used for thatching roof; the wood suitable for making furniture and all the dried parts of coconut make good firewood. Last, but not the least, the toddy – the boost for the labourers toiling in the fields. Stop at Thottapalli and enjoy a walk to the beach to see the life along the coast. (B,L,D)

Day 14 - Thottappalli – Karumadi – Kanjippadom

After breakfast, take a short drive (approx. 30 min) to visit an ancient sacred grove where serpents are worshipped, the only temple in Kerala having female priests. Walk inside to see the rituals going on. The cult of snake worship in Kerala is closely interwoven with the life of the people and is a component of its rich cultural heritage. Continue our drive (approx. 45 minutes) to an ancient village Mannar (45minutes) which is famous for bell metal craft to watch casting of traditional lamps, ornate locks, bells, cauldrons and various types of vessels being used in temples. Fine clay, which is easily available on the bank of the river and rivulets flowing through the region, is being used for the lost wax method of casting of these bell metal products (The workplace remains closed on Sundays and religious holidays). Return to the boat for lunch and sail to a quaint village Karumadi. Take a walk around a small shrine preserving the ruin of a sculpture of Buddha that dates back to the 11th century, made of solid black granite. Stop at Kanjippadom and explore the village by a leisurely walk. Visit the boat building yard to understand the traditional method of wooden boat building by joining wooden planks using coir, cotton and natural resin known as Kettuvallom. (B,L,D)

Day 15 - Kanjippadom – Punnamada & Disembark at Alleppey & drive to Kochi

After breakfast we cruise to Punnamada Lake. Punnamada Lake is the venue of the annual Snake boat race which held on 2nd Saturday of August every year. People gather in large numbers to watch nearly 100 ft long boats compete against each other to the tune of old boat songs. We disembark by 9.30 AM. After taking a walk through the market place of Alleppey, you will be drive to Kochi and transferred to the hotel in the Kochi.Arrive Kochi and check-in to the hotel. Thereafter, enjoy a guided tour of Fort Kochi.Explore the Fort Kochi, where the Portuguese flag was first hoisted, which is believed to be the oldest settlement in India. At each and every nook of this island steeped in history, there is something amusing awaiting you. It is a world of its own, retaining the specimens of a bygone era and still proud of those days.Visit St. Francis Church, the oldest church built by Europeans in India. On his 3rd visit to Kerala, Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese trader who reached India from Europe by sea, fell ill and died in Kochi. He was buried in the St. Francis Church. Later his remains were taken back to Portugal. In spite of that, his burial spot inside the church has been clearly marked out.Pay a visit to the picturesque Chinese fishing nets unique to Kochi. These iconic land-based nets combine elegance and ingenuity with their massive frames balanced by counterweights manipulated by teams of up to six men. Long believed to have been introduced by the Chinese explorer Zheng He in the 14th century or possibly travellers from Kublai Khan’s court, these nets actually trace their origin to Portuguese settlers from Macau.Proceed to visit the Jewish Synagogue. It was built in 1568 and was considerably embellished in the mid-18th century by Ezekiel Rahabi, who built a clock tower and paved the floor of the synagogue with hand- painted tiles brought all the way from Canton in China. It is magnificently decorated by Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. It is the oldest synagogue in all the Commonwealth of Nations. (Closed to non-Jews Friday afternoon and Saturday and Jewish Holidays).Later visit the Jew town of Mattancherry, the epicenter of the spice trade for centuries and the bustling part of Old Fort Kochi. It remains a densely populated place housing people from different ethnic groups and faiths in very close quarters. Mattancherry is home to a small Jewish community whose origin dates back nearly 2000 years, during the period of King Solomon, when large scale trade took place between the Middle East and the Malabar Coast. Our touring today reveals Kochi’s multi-layered past, a rich brew of Arab, Portuguese, British, and Dutch influences.Explore The Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace), originally built by the Portuguese and modified by the Dutch in 17th centuary and mpresented to the Raja of Kochi. Coronation of many Rajas of Kochi was held here. The palace has a fine collection of mythological mural painting and has traditional Keralite flooring. (Closed on Friday).Overnight at hotel (B)

Day 16 - Kochi - UK

Today, check-out from the hotel and drive to Kochi International airport to board the flight home.

Please note, this is a unique cruise with just 18 passengers, so the itinerary may be altered during the trip. Key: B - Breakfast, L - Lunch, D - Dinner

Price Includes

  • 7-night full board cruise
  • 3-night journey on board The Golden Chariot luxury train, full board with sightseeing
  • Two overnight hotel stays in Kochi
  • 2-night hotel stay in Bangalore with sightseeing
  • Return flights from London
  • Overseas transfers and internal flights
  • All taxes and port charges

Price Does Not Include

  • Tips and Gratuities
  • Visa
  • Optional Excursions & Visits
  • Personal expenses

Please contact us for the latest dates and prices

Call us now on 01756 706500