From the high Himalayas to lush rain forests and far-reaching deserts, to the World Heritage Sites and Buddhist temples of Sri Lanka, this India expedition highlights the vast geographical and cultural riches of the region. We explore by sea aboard the 110-passenger Clipper Odyssey, taking us from the peaceful villages of the south to the cacophony of Mumbai. Our Sri Lanka tour includes stops at the fortress of Galle, the Temple of the Tooth and the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage. Join us for India adventure travel at its best, encompassing historic trade routes, ancient cities, and a melting pot of language, architecture, and religion.
India and Sri Lanka Expedition highlights include:
- Visit to the famous Meenakshi Temple Complex in Madurai, India, where pilgrims come to worship at the 121 towers, some over 150 feet in height.
- A high point of your Sri Lanka expedition: The Temple of the Tooth which houses the tooth of Buddha.
- A Kalari Payattu demonstration, an ancient martial arts form.
- Comprehensive India touring with stops in Kochi, Mangalore, and Goa, visiting local villages.
- Tour of renowned Marine Drive in Mumbai, passing Chowpatty Beach, Malabar Hill, and Hanging Gardens.
What to expect:
For our India tour, a relatively low level of exertion is required. We ask that you be able to walk moderate distances, unaided, on uneven paths, up and down stairs, and in crowed markets. As with any India and Sri Lanka expedition, we must be mindful of the local cultures and customs. You will be expected to remove your shoes when visiting temples and mosques; women should be prepared to wear long sleeves and long pants or skirts. Average daily temperatures on our India tour are expected to range in the upper 70s to low 90s°F.
Depart the USA on your independent flights to Chennai, India. Day lost due to crossing the International Date Line
Chennai (Madras), India
Arrive in Chennai early this morning, transfer to our hotel, and enjoy the morning at leisure. Chennai is an ancient city that boasts a rich cultural heritage. During the colonial period it was the capital of the Madras Presidency, one of the largest areas of India under British control. During this time the city flourished as a great metropolitan center. This afternoon our tour incorporates both colonial history and modern-day life as we visit the National Art Gallery and Museum, San Thome Cathedral, the South Indian Temple, Fort St. George Museum, and drive along Marina Beach. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Chennai / Madurai
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our flight to Madurai, arriving in time to check into our hotel and enjoy lunch. This afternoon we explore the Thirumalai Nayak Palace famed for the stucco work on its domes and arches. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Madurai / Tuticorin / Embark Clipper Odyssey
Madurai is an ancient cultural center encircling the famous Meenakshi Temple Complex and after breakfast we visit this 16th-century masterpiece. Pilgrims from all over India come to worship at this soaring edifice of 121 towers, some over 150 feet in height. The structures are covered in dazzling multicolored carvings. The Thousand-Pillared Hall showcases the Temple Art Museum, with its friezes and exhibits devoted to Hindu deities. Nearby is the bustling marketplace, filled with brilliant flowers that are presented as offerings at the various temples. We also visit the Gandhi Museum before our drive to Tuticorin to embark the Clipper Odyssey, our home for the next 10 nights.
Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle’s historic district is one of the best preserved examples of a European-built fortified city in south Asia, reflecting both colonial and South Asian architectural styles. After lunch onboard we enjoy a tour of this charming city visiting the Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum; Poorvarama Temple; and Galle Fort, a World Heritage Site, built by the Dutch in the 16th century. As we drive along the coast, keep an eye out for the iconic fishermen of Koggala, who perch precariously on stilts in the surf. Return to the ship for dinner as we sail to Sri Lanka’s largest city, Colombo.
Colombo / Kandy
Today we disembark in the bustling city of Colombo for our overnight excursion into the highlands of Sri Lanka, passing through lush, rolling countryside dotted with tea plantations. In Kandy we explore the stunning Temple of the Tooth which houses the tooth of Buddha. This World Heritage Site was originally part of the Royal Palace complex of the Kandyan Kingdom and is one of the holiest places of worship and pilgrimage for Buddhists around the world. We will also visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and the Botanical Gardens. Overnight at our hotel in Kandy. The following day we return to Colombo where we reboard the Clipper Odyssey.
Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), India
Located near India’s southern tip, Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala is a pedestrian-friendly town spread out over seven hills. Today we visit the village of Pongumoode and its surrounding rubber plantations where we witness the various stages of rubber processing. We also enjoy a Kalari Payattu demonstration, Kerala’s ancient form of martial arts, and have time to stroll among the colorful fishing boats lining the shore.
Our leisurely two-day exploration of Kochi reveals this delightful community’s mélange of international influences: Portuguese houses, the Dutch Palace (Mattancherry), the Anglican St. Francis Church, and the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that grace the beaches. To better explore this maze of islands and waterways, we board local houseboats for a cruise through Kochi’s backwaters where we may spot locals doing laundry or fish farming. In the evening enjoy a performance of Kathakali classical dance onboard our ship.
During our morning at sea, our lecturers brief us about Jainism, a religion dating from the 6th century b.c., whose followers strive to attain purity through rituals of non-violence and an ascetic austerity. Their temples, however, are richly adorned with sculptures. This afternoon we take a countryside drive through this pleasant landscape of rolling hills dotted with tea, coffee, and cashew nut cultivation to visit Karkala’s Gomasteshwara Statue, dedicated to a Jain saint, followed by a tour of a rural pineapple farm.
Marmagao’s Portuguese heritage commenced with the establishment of a trading colony in 1510, led by explorer and later viceroy, Vasco da Gama. The successful spice-trading colony endured for centuries, and today its colonial remnants lend a European charm—cobblestoned lanes, whitewashed Catholic churches, and balconied, tile-roofed homes. We explore the distinctive churches, museum, and convent of Old Goa and savor local cuisine at lunch. Time at leisure this afternoon allows us to wander through the old Portuguese district of Fontainhas in the small capital of Panjim, and we have the rare opportunity to visit a traditional Goan home. Optional afternoon excursion to the Taj Exotica for high tea and time on the beach.
Mumbai (Bombay) / Disembark Clipper Odyssey
Disembarking the ship this morning, the fascinating city of Mumbai is ours to explore. The city’s astonishing diversity reflects its myriad indigenous inhabitants, as well as its history of colonial occupation by the British. In the former British fort area, we see elegant colonial buildings such as the Gothic Victoria Terminus railway station, and the Prince of Wales Museum. We drive along famed Marine Drive, passing Chowpatty Beach, to Malabar Hill with its superb views, parks, and Hanging Gardens. We check into the Taj Palace Hotel where we have dinner and overnight.
This morning we board local boats at the doorstep of the India Gateway triumphal arch monument for a ride across the bay to visit Elephanta Island. This World Heritage Site has caves with elaborately carved depictions of the Hindu god Shiva in his various manifestations as destroyer, creator, and preserver. Views of Mumbai’s skyline from the bay are superb. Return to our hotel for an afternoon at leisure prior to dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Mumbai / USA
Transfer to the airport for your early morning independent flight homeward.
One of the finest adventure ships afloat, the Clipper Odyssey is a 110-passenger luxury expedition vessel, ideally suited for cruising in off-the-beaten-path locales. On all Clipper Odyssey expeditions, guests have access to a fleet of Zodiacs, which allows remote landings anywhere nature or curiosity dictates. All cabins on a Clipper Odyssey cruise have an ocean view, safe, minibar, individually controlled heat/air conditioner, in-room music system, and sitting area with sofa. Beds can be configured for twin or queen-size sleeping arrangements, and all cabins have an en suite bathroom complete with shower and small bathtub. In the comfort of their cabin, passengers can track the progress of their expedition on the Global Positioning System broadcast—a highlight of a Clipper Odyssey voyage for adventure-minded guests. Additional facilities include a gourmet kitchen featuring American and international cuisine, dining room, lounge, small library and gym, outdoor pool, and gift shop. An elevator services all passenger cabin decks. Ship registry: Bahamas.
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.
Options and Extras
Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.