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DESTINATIONS

Incredible Southern India

Fort Cochin

Fort Cochin was one of  the earliest Portuguese settlements so many of the buildings resemble the old Portuguese style of architecture. St. Francis Church was the first European made church in India. The body of  Vasco da Gama, the great Portuguese sailor, was buried here in 1524 and later removed to Portugal. The church was renovated by the Dutch and became protestant. Since 1949 it has been attached to the Church of South India.  

Not far from the church is the small town of Mattanchery, well known for its old Jewish settlement and pepper trade. The Jewish street ends with the old Jewish synagogue founded in 1568 and rebuilt in 1664. The building is best known for its interior, an attractive if incongruous hotch potch design, paved with hand painted 18th century blue and white tiles from Canton. The 19th century glass oil burning chandeliers were imported from Belgium.

The sight at the top of most visitors' itineraries is Mattanchery Palace (open daily except Fridays).  Situated on the roadside a short walk from the Mattanchery jetty, just one kilometer south east of fort Cochin. Known locally as Dutch Palace, the two storey building was actually erected by the Portuguese as a gift to the Raja of Cochin, Vira Kerala Varma (1537-61) - though the Dutch did add to the complex later. The interior is particularly captivating. The murals that adorn some of the palace rooms are among the finest examples of Kerala’s underrated school of painting.


Kerala Wildlife zone

The Kerala Wildlife Zone sits high in the middle part of Kerala’s Western Ghat region. Closely associated with Tamil Nadu's forest region, it is located just on the border of the two states.

Situated in the middle segment of the Western Ghats, this reserve is renowned for it’s biodiversity. Declared a protected area covering 1000sq kms, the tropical evergreen forest contains teak, rosewood, bamboo and is home to Tigers, elephant, langurs, leopards, gaur, deers and antelopes, not to mention a rich variety of birds and reptiles. This is a region of incredible natural beauty and tranquility.

 


Tamil Tribal zone

The Tamil Tribal Zone is situated in the middle segment of the Western Ghats which borders with Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The tribal group called 'Muduvan' have lived in these mountains since the pre-historic age. They used to make their living by hunting, collecting wild honey and making handicrafts with bamboo. These days their population is decreasing and they are struggling to make a living because of the diminishing wild resources which were previously plentiful. The government is organising various health and education programs to support this community but they are still living in poverty.

Green Foot Prints uses part of your trip fee to support this community by bringing food materials each time we visit their village as part of a tour. 


Western Ghat Nature camp

The Western Ghats Nature Camp is situated in the foot hills of Munnar, which is stunningly beautiful with lush green spice plantations and tiny rivers. The reservoir of a hydro electric dam project here is an infinite source of fresh water for the local villagers. The people here are hard working and friendly.

This place is one of the highlights of Green Foot Prints Travel and offers travellers a number of activities such as canoeing, swimming, fishing and sight seeing.


Madurai

Madurai is an animated city packed with pilgrims, beggars, business people, bullock carts and legions of  under-employed rickshaw drivers. One of the oldest cities in India, the main attraction here is the famous Sri Meenakshi Temple in the heart of the town. The temple is a perfect example of the old Dravidien architecture with gopurams covered from top to bottom in a breath taking profusion of  multicoloured images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures.

Madurai resembles a huge bazaar crammed with shops, street markets, hotels, restaurants and small industries.

 


Kumily

Named after thekku (teak trees) the small village of Thekkady is the only entrance point in to the Periyar Tiger Reserve and sits high in the southern cardamom hills of Kerala’s Idukki district. Closely associated with Thekkady is the plantation and the spice trading town of Kumily, located only 4 km away on the border with Tamil Nadu.

Kumily is literally the heartland of spice growing country. It is possible to visit tea and spice plantations surrounding the sanctuary where you can see spices growing such as cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, black, white and green pepper, cinnamon, star anise and the delicious aromatic vanilla.


Alleppey Northern Beach

20 km northwest of Alleppey, the Northern Beach has a spectacular long stretch of clean white sand lined with coconut palms.  There are a handful of discreet resorts hidden amongst the palm trees (one of which you'll be staying in) but the majority of people living along the beach are local fishermen and their families.  You'll be charmed by the fishermens' brightly-coloured boats and daily catch of fish with traditional nets.  The resort has direct access to the quiet beach where you can swim and sunbathe in western-style bathing suits without attracting unwanted attention.  The sea is beautiful to swim in and 2 life guards are on duty to ensure your safety at all times.

Far less touristy and much quieter than the famous beaches of Varkala and Kovalam, Green Foot Prints considers this one of the most beautiful and unspoilt beach destinations in Kerala.  Because of the lack of commercialism, this destination does not have lots of restaurants, cafes and shops on the doorstep.  However, the retreat restaurant serves excellent seafood, snacks and drinks and other facilities include a swimming pool, badminton court, recreation room, butterfly garden, organic vegetable garden and an Ayurvedic Centre where you can have a free consultation with the Ayurvedic Doctor or book a relaxing massage.  

 


Back Waters

One of the most memorable experiences for travellers in India is the opportunity to take a boat journey through the backwaters. The bewildering labyrinth of shimmering water ways, composed of lakes, canals, rivers and rivulets, lined with dense tropical greenery preserves rural Keralan lifestyles.

The main economy of the backwaters is through rice and coconut farming. Sadly, there are now some threats to the eco-system caused recently by the increasing number of motorized ferries and houseboats. Another environemntal problem is the African moss which carpets the surface of the narrow water ways, proving a menace to small boats and starving the under water life of light and oxygen. Nevertheless, staying in a local family homestay and soaking up the traditional backwater village atmosphere is an unforgettable experience.