Southwest India
Kerela and Karnataka
Monday 13th– Saturday 25th November 2023

*Fully Booked*

I find with India, even a mundane question turns into a thread, which weaves a fabric across all history. It is not unlike Italy in that regard, India is a cradle of so much civilisation. India seems both within the grasp of our consciousness but it is also so different, surprising and at times challenging. Furthermore, with its vast population, burgeoning economy and increasingly powerful stance, India cannot be ignored. As AHA tends to do, we are interested in all aspects of life and culture, from art to architecture and sculpture, to the landscape, ecology, resources, the economy, religions and food.

We propose a tour of some of southern India, to Kerela and Karnataka. It is the more verdant part of India, initially connected to Europe through the spice trade, pepper and later tea. The landscape is green and the predominant religion is Hinduism. This will be the first of three tours in the coming years, working our way North to Mumbai and Rajasthan and then New Delhi and Varanasi.

Lucy Harwood (Cressida’s great aunt) Travelling 1927


Monday 13th November – Tuesday 14th November
Our flight arrives in Kochi in the middle of the day on Monday. We will travel in a private bus for an hour to Raza Gurukul, which is a spacious hotel in the countryside by a broad river. We are there for two nights partly to settle after a long flight and also to acclimatise to our new surroundings. We will use our time well. It is an opportunity for Nick to introduce some of the history of India and the themes we will explore. The hotel is also a working farm and Gyles will be able to speak of the unique geography of southern India, resources and farming. The owner of the hotel, Das Sreedharam, is an award winning chef, social entrepreneur and food philosopher. In the nineties he ran the best vegetarian Indian restaurant in London and became a pioneer of Indian food on the television. We will take the opportunity learn about cooking with his staff.

Wednesday 15th November – Friday 17th November
We leave for a two-hour drive to a heritage hotel Dutch Bungalow in Fort Kochi where we will stay for three nights. The hotel is spacious and has a swimming pool. After lunch we will get our bearings both historically and geographically, taking in the dramatic Chinese fishing nets, the house of Vasco da Gama and the church of Saint Francis. We will also seek out some of the modern art scene which features in the biannual contemporary art show here in January. Before supper we will attend a Kathakali classical dance theatre. On Thursday we will explore the Synagogue and particularly the Mattancherry Palace which has some of the most noted Hindu mural paintings of the Ramayana. In the early evening we are planning an optional visit to an Ayuvedic Doctor who will diagnose your body type and recommend what kind of food suits you. On Friday we will drive 90 minutes to board one of the famous traditional houseboats where we will explore some of the waterways and enjoy a good lunch. We will then return to Fort Kochi for the night. While in Kochi, I aim that we should watch a film from the Keralan school, which is quite different in style and content to Bollywood, heralding from Mumbai.

Saturday 18th November – Sunday 19th November
Leaving in the morning we will drive inland to Munnar, one of the hill station towns set in a spectacular mountain landscape. On the way we will stop for lunch to break the four hour journey. Entering Munnar we will pause at the Tea Museum where we will meet our friend Divya who will be with us for a few days. She is an expert on the tea plantations and is also very good at explaining the intricacies of Hinduism. We arrive at our hotel, The Hotel Dream Catcher set amongst the lofty clouds. We have been able to book four of the hotel’s special tree houses which are available on a first come basis at a supplement of £140 over two nights. Supper in the hotel. On Sunday we spend the day exploring the history and cultural life of a tea picker, packer and producer. We will have practical experience of picking in the tea plantations following the tea’s journey to the factory, sharing meals with the workers and understanding the subtleties of tea tasting.

Monday 20th November
We will drive back to Kochi, stopping along the way at a wildlife park or bird sanctuary as yet to be decided according to the time of day when we arrive. The variety of avian life is one of the great joys of India and indeed life. We are aiming for the night train travelling overnight to Bangalore (Bangaluru) which is both a more sustainable route and quite an experience. For those who would prefer to fly, this is possible too. Picnic supper on the train.

Tuesday 21st November
The train arrives in Bangalore early on Tuesday morning and we have booked early arrival at the Jai Mahal Palace Hotel, where we will be staying for one night (two nights if you took the flight). After breakfast and a moment to refresh we will go out to explore. Bangalore is arguably the most dynamic city in India, growing fast spurred on by tech. We want to explore some of the assumptions and difficulties of modern India while taking in this sophisticated city, known as India’s tidiest, ‘garden city’. We will visit the Government Museum, which has a good collection of miniatures, one of Tipu Sultan’s summer palaces and leave some time for shopping. Bangalore has a touch of glamour, and whether visiting a stylish restaurant, going to a glitzy cinema or, if the fixture list will allow, visiting the famous Chinnaswamy Stadium for a spot of Cricket.

Wednesday 22nd November – Saturday 25th November
We will drive three hours by private bus to Mysore (Mysuru). We will take a route which takes us past all sorts of rural crafts and occupations. This might be sugar cane processing (Jagari), or a brick kiln. So often the very act of travelling is an adventure in India. On the drive we will also stop at Somanathapura, one of the finest temples in the South from the 12th – 14th centuries. The golden age of maharajahs and princes may have past, but Mysore remains a city of splendour, with palaces (17), beautiful gardens and handsome tree lined boulevards. One such palace is now the Metropole Hotel in the middle of the city, a colonial set piece, where will stay for three nights.
On Thursday morning we should start with the Devaraja Market, a wonder of fruit, vegetables and flowers. You could wander here all day and no one leaves empty handed. From here we go to the Maharajah’s palace, with sumptuously furnished apartments, all hugely extravagant and great fun. Ironically, Mysore is India’s most sustainable city and we will spend some time considering this – we are hoping to meet someone from the University to talk about this. After lunch we should visit Chamundi Hill, a very active pilgrimage spot focused on the 12th century Sri Chamundeswari temple and the enormous Nandi Bull.

On Friday, our last full day, we will drive out to Srinringapatham to the fortress of the Muslim leaders Hyder Ali and his son, the brave Tipu Sultan, who defied the East India Company until his death in 1799. His elegant summer palace remains. We can ride bicycles or ride rickshaws around this extensive site and visit the oldest Dravidian Temple in Karnataka from 894, Sri Ranganathaswamy.
For our last day, Saturday, we should visit the Ranganathittu Sanctuary as the birds are at their most active and the crocs lurk drowsily. A last chance to refresh ourselves at the hotel before a lunch and the bus journey to the airport back to Bangalore where we check in at 18.00.

Painting from the Mattancherry Palace

Further Details

Tutors – The tutors will be Nick Ross and Cressida Ross. We will be joined by Gyles Morris, a geographer who has travelled in India throughout his adult life, most recently crossing India on a bicycle. Because we have plans for courses for students, we will be joined at AHA’s expense by three tutors. We will also be accompanied by Sandesh, one of the Partners of our Indian affiliates (IEXP 360) on this, our inaugural tour.

Flights – We do not book the flights thus allowing you to travel to suit your budget, use airmiles, travel between different airports or on different dates. NB You must book your flight to leave London for at least the day before the course starts. We recommend buying the following flights with Etihad Airlines:

Sunday 12th November
Etihad EY26 Depart 19.20 from Heathrow Terminal 4
Landing 06.05 Abu Dhabi T3
Depart 08.50 Abu Dhabi T1 for Kochi EY1687
Landing Cochin/Kochi (COK) T3 at 14.10 + 1 (November 13th)

Saturday 25th November
Etihad EY237 Depart 20.35 from Bangalore/Bengaluru (BLR) Terminal 4
Landing 23.25 Abu Dhabi T1
Depart 02.55 Abu Dhabi T3 for Heathrow (LHR) Etihad EY11
Landing Heathrow (LHR) T4 at 06.45 +1 (November 26th)

Transport – This will be a mix of a private coach and trains. There is the option of taking a flight for the longer journey instead of a train.

Hotels (Kochi) (Kochi) (Munnar) (Bangalore) (Mysore)

Ability – As someone who is slightly lame, I don’t find India a problem, but one thing to bear in mind is uneven surfaces and pavements – India is not a great place to fall over. When up in Munnar, we will be walking some distances and at Mysore, it’s fun to do some cycling. Also, an abiding worry is to be unwell while travelling and we will give advice on how best to protect oneself. However, at this stage, it’s wise to encourage all coming to eat as a vegetarian in India – it has certainly preserved me. Personally, and as someone who loves meat, I do not miss it and in fact, I relish the vast range of new tastes in Southern Indian, and largely Hindu cooking. Nick Ross

Dinners – Six dinners (not including drinks) are included in the fees for the other dinners we will divide the bill equally between everyone.

Cost – The fees are £3800 which includes accommodation and breakfast, all lunches, 6 evening dinners (not including drinks), transfers for the recommended flight, transport when connected with teaching, entrance fees, tuition, reading lists and local advice. The single occupancy supplement is £340 (double room for single use). The supplement for a Tree House is £140 per room. Not included are the flights, all other suppers, travel insurance. The group will not exceed 12 people.

To register – Please complete the online registration form, having read our terms and conditions and pay the deposit of £600 per person via bank transfer. We will send you our details once we have received your form.

If you have any queries please email [email protected] or call 01379 871800 (302)

Please note you must book your own flights

To Register

Please complete the online application form and pay a deposit of £600 per person via bank transfer.

Please express an interest soon as there are few places. We will send an information pack about visas, inoculations, money and so on.

Please  email [email protected] if you have any queries.

This trip is now fully booked

Terms & Conditions