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Cruises arriving into India generally dock at three ports – Mumbai, Goa, and Kochi. There are two ways in which one can participate in a pre / post Cruise Tour.
Disembark from the ship. You will be met at the pier and escorted by an English-speaking guide to your vehicle and depart for a tour of Goa.
Variously known as “Pearl of the Orient” and a “Tourist Paradise”, the state of Goa is located on the western coast of India in the coastal belt known as Konkan. The magnificent scenic beauty and the architectural splendors of its temples, churches, and old houses have made Goa a firm favorite with travelers from around the world. But then, Goa is much more than just beaches and the sea. It has a soul which lies in the interiors and hinterland away from the coast.
The Portuguese ruled Goa for 450 years and left the shores of this state in 1961. But it is impossible to miss their influence all around – from a sizable Christian population to Portuguese architecture.
The landscape of Goa is dotted with heritage houses, villas, and mansions reminiscent of the Portuguese era as well as some unique examples of a clever blend of the Indian and Portuguese styles. The Braganza House is one such classic example.
Later, a visit to the Spice Plantation, which is quite interesting:
The Spice Plantations of Goa are quite popular as a tourist attraction. On a typical excursion to the spice plantations, one starts by exploring the fields and the farms. It is an astonishing sight to see men climbing on tall trees while maintaining balance, and at the same time plucking betel nut fruits from those swaying trees. Some major spices produced at these plantations are black pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, chilies, coriander, cashew and betel nut palm. Apart from these spices, many tropical fruits like Custard apples, Papaya, Bananas, Pineapples, Citrus fruits etc. are also grown.
After lunch, visit “Old Goa” – famous for beautiful Churches like the Bascilla of Bom Jesus, Church of St. Francis Assissi , Se Cathedral, and Panjim city.
Return to the ship, stopping briefly for a photo stop at scenic spots.
Disembark from the ship. You will be met at the Pier and escorted by an English-speaking guide to your deluxe vehicle and depart for an excursion of Elephanta Caves by motorboat.
The Elephanta Caves are a great tourist attraction in the vicinity of the large Mumbai metropolis. These caves house rock-cut temples dating back to the 5th century BC. The Elephanta Island was so named by the Portuguese, after the statue of an elephant near the landing area of the island. These rock-cut temples, created by carving out rock, are dedicated to Shiva Mahadeva and are rich in sculptural content. The entire temple is akin to a huge sculpture, through whose corridors and chambers one can walk. The colossal 20 feet high image of the three-headed Shiva Trimurthy is a magnificent one and considered to be a masterpiece of Indian art.
Return to the Pier to board the ship for overnight stay.
Disembark from the ship to enjoy a day tour of Old Bombay (now called Mumbai) visiting:
This 26 meter high Triple-Arch Gateway was built in 1911 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India. The Gateway of India overlooks the Arabian Sea, adjoining the famous Taj Mahal Hotel, and ferries take tourists from here to the nearby Elephanta Caves and Alibaug.
Built in the Indo-Saracenic style, this building houses one of the finest collections of Indian art in the world. Designed by George Wittet and completed in 1914, it marked the visit of the Prince of Wales to the city. The museum has three main sections – art, archaeology, and natural history.
This bungalow on Laburnum Road was Mahatma Gandhi’s Mumbai residence from 1917-1934. It is now converted into a museum in his memory. Besides the plain spartan room, there are pictures of events from his life, a research library, and a mini theater showing films on Gandhi and India’s struggle for independence.
This famous fountain is situated in the heart of the city where five roads meet. It is named after Flora – the Roman Goddess of Flowers, Spring and Fertility. It was erected in 1869 to honor Sir Bartle Frere for dismantling the Fort and shaping much of modern Mumbai.
Headquarters of Central Railways, it was designed by William Stevens in 1887 to coincide with Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. The city’s most impressive Gothic structure makes a striking sight with its cathedral-like spires, arches, & stained glass windows.
Built in 1920 on reclaimed land, this beautiful promenade stretches in crescent shape with the Arabian Sea on one side and modern day high rises on the other! When lit up at night, the entire drive gleams like a “Queen’s Necklace”. Horse-driven “Victoria” carriage rides are available.
Built in 1880 and renovated in 1921. It is landscaped on top of three reservoirs which stores 30 million gallons of water to supply to the city.
Literally, Dhobi means “Washerman” and Ghat means “Laundry”. A sight unique to Mumbai, one can see rows upon rows of concrete pens fitted with a flogging stone where hundreds of “dhobis” and their families together do their rinsing and washing in a profession which is hereditary.
One of Mumbai’s most famous markets, it is named after Arthur Crawford, the first Municipal Commissioner. It houses wholesale market for fruits, vegetables and poultry. Completed in 1869, this Norman and Gothic architectural marvel was the first building in the city to be lit with electricity.
Disembark from the ship. You will be met at the pier and escorted by an English-speaking guide to your private vehicle for a tour of Kochi city.
Kochi, the commercial hub of Kerala, is a town of great historical importance. It has a fine natural harbor around which the city has grown. The city has seen arrival of Moors, Turks, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and British over the years for trading with the West. Attracted by trade and its liberal laws, many foreigners have made this their home. After the fall of Jerusalem, many Jewish refugees sought sanctuary in this lush trading post.
You begin your tour by witnessing the traditional Kerala Dance Program of Kathakali.
Kathakali is the most well known dance drama from the south Indian state of Kerala. The word Kathakali literally means “Story-Play”. It is known for its large, elaborate makeup and costumes. The elaborate costumes of Kathakali have become the most recognized icon for Kerala and performed in a text that is Sanskritised Malyalam. The themes of the Kathakali are religious in nature and typically deal with the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the ancient scriptures known as the Purana.
After the dance program, continue with sightseeing visiting:
This sepia-tinted part of the city is on the peninsular land bit that juts out of Ernakulum. Narrow winding streets, old weather-beaten cottages and a tiny Jewish community characterize old Cochin. Tranquil and picturesque, facing the sea on one side, backed up against a maze of lagoons on the other, Fort Cochin oozes charm.
The St. Francis Church may be the oldest European church on Indian soil. The Portuguese Franciscans built it in wood in 1503, but it now stands in stone after having been rebuilt some years later.
The pastel interiors of the Santa Cruz Basilica are lovely and the grand exterior is impressive. Along the water’s edge, huge Chinese fishing nets rest on their cantilevered stands. The technique came from Emperor Kublai Khan’s court in China and till date serves the purpose of fishing.
Also known as “Dutch Palace”, the Mattancherry Palace with its medieval charm is situated at Palace Road. The entrance to the Mattancherry Palace compound is through two arches which are typically Portuguese in character and a flight of steps through a portico on the south gives access to a suite of public rooms on the upper level of the palace.
The Palace with two floors built around a central courtyard follows the traditional Kerala style of architecture known as “Nalukettus”.
The Synagogue and Jew Town in Mattancherry is home for the 20 odd Jewish families who still live in Kerala. Mostly old timers, they chose to stay on even after the creation of Israel and the immigration by most of their younger generation to the Promised Land. The Synagogue dates back to the 17th century and has pretty patterned floor tiles that were brought in from China. The thick aroma of spices hangs in the air and the street is dotted with tiny stalls selling curios. (No photography allowed at the Synagogue.)
Disembark from your ship and drive to Alleppey (2 hours). Board a typical Kerala Rice Boat called “Kettuvalam”. Take a relaxing cruise through the “backwaters” – a maze of canals meandering through coconut-lined villages on either side. As you relax and sip a beer, lunch is prepared and served to you on board. Watch the saga of everyday Kerala village life on the banks as you pass by schools, markets and fields with myriad activities.
Later in the afternoon, return to Alleppey and drive to Cochin harbor in time to board your ship.