Sketchbook Art Tour Kerala 2018 Aug/Sep
13 Day Guided Art Tour of Kerala, India
Cochin ~ Alleppey ~ Marari ~ Munnar ~ Cochin
Sunday August 19th – Saturday September 1st 2018
There is much to see in India but so much more to feel.
I invite you to join me in India for 13 magical days, travelling and sketching your way through serene tropical Kerala. Starting in the old Portuguese fishing town of Cochin, we travel to Alleppey where we take a houseboat through the tropical backwaters to the little fishing village of Marrari. Our sketchbooks fill with beach and fishing nets before heading up to the cooler mountains in Munnar where the tea plantations roll into the distance.
A sketchbook tour of Kerala is for the artist at heart – whether you want to learn the basics of sketching, or are an accomplished artist, an abstract artist or a realist. Fill your sketchbooks with the nature and people of Kerala, from the mountains to the sea. We’ll be using mixed media, including embroidered and block printed textiles, and beautiful Sanskrit or local Texts.
We’ll travel with the eyes of an artist. This means taking time to see what is around us, connecting with locals and the environment, guided all the way by our expert Indian tour guide.
Kerala’s biggest Festival, the harvest and flower Festival of Onam is on during our tour, with preparations starting on August 15th with the highlight on the 27th. We can expect to see women making flower mandalas (Pookalam) on the ground in front of their homes. Each day they add to their Pookalam. Traditionally the designs have ten rings with different colours to please the Gods. The Pookalam is made to welcome their benevolent legendary king – Mahabali, as he visits Kerala every year on Onam. As always in Kerala,there will plenty of delicious Onam dishes for you to try.
Day 1 Sunday August 19th
Meet, greet and relax.Today Kamlesh, our guide, will meet you at Cochin airport and take you to our heritage hotel in the old quarter of Port Cochin where you can relax and start to explore a little this seaside fishing town with Portuguese style whitewashed buildings. There are some beautiful quirky local cafes with the most delicious Keralean food. The Portuguese first settled here in 1503, followed by the Dutch and the British, creating an array of architectural influences which makes the area quite unique. The large port was used BC by Arabian and Chinese traders to source spices, especially pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, sandal wood from the Kochi region.
Day 2 Monday August 20th
After an early breakfast, we explore and sketch the harbour as fishermen bring in their morning catch. The ancient practice of lowering the Chinese fishing nets into the water up to 400 times a day still carries on. It is just five minutes walk from our hotel and the harbour offers the opportunity to play with mark making in realism and abstract with bundles of nets and textures everywhere…Afterwards, rest and relax in the local cafes. In the afternoon there will be a workshop on using the art materials.
Day 3 Tuesday August 21st
Today we visit and sketch around Mattancherry, a short rickshaw drive from Port Cochin. We will visit an ancient synagogue and the ‘Dutch Palace’ with murals in the classic Keralan style depicting scenes from ancient old Hindu epics and great information on Kerala’s Marumakkathayam. Women used to inherit property and carry the family name. There are still strong overtones of this prevalent in today’s society. Keralean women have a 93% literacy rate and are found working in all levels of society. There strength and radiance can be seen everywhere.
In the evening we will see the traditional Kathakali dance.
Day 4 Wednesday August 22nd
This morning we travel an hour and a half to Alleppey.
The city of Alleppey is also known as Alappuzha,‘Ᾱlam’ means ‘water’ and ‘puzha’ means ‘watercourse’ or ‘river’. Alleppey stretches from the sea across to Punnamada Lake and a network of backwaters and was originally 7 different “taluks” which go back to the first century AD. The main backwaters are often filled with the bustling life of locals and houseboats: early mornings are the serene times here. But it doesn’t take long to enter into the quieter smaller backwaters to find the tranquility of people washing at the waters edge and canoeing along tapestries of emerald green.
We will arrive from Cochin at our tranquil resort on Punnamada Lake by lunch time, stopping off a cultural museum on the way. It is a serene place to stay with a beautiful Ayervedic spa.
In the afternoon, we have a relaxed workshop in the gardens overlooking the lake and houseboats. In the evening we will go and explore the Onam Festivities in Alleppey.
Day 5 Thursday August 23rd
Today we take a day trip on a houseboat with a delicious lunch prepared by our houseboat chef.
Sketching, relaxing and photographing the passing life of the lake and the backwaters.
Day 6 Friday August 24th
Take small boats around the backwaters and sketch, have lunch out.
Visit villages and any craft activities as we travel by boat.
There are snakeboat races on as part of the Onam Festival so we may change the itinerary around to attend a race.
We head off to Malari in the late afternoon, which is only an hour away.
Day 7 Saturday August 25th
We will stay on a beach resort just 5 minutes walk from a fishing community. The resort has an organic vegetable garden, large gardens to relax in and an Ayervedic spa attended by an Ayervedic doctor.
After an early breakfast we go and sketch at the local fish markets on the northern end of Marari beach as the fishermen bring in their morning catch.
In the afternoon relax, sketch or try out the ayervedic spa.
Day 8 Sunday August 26th
After breakfast, we visit the fishing village next to our resort and sketch the locals and the boats.
Relax after lunch and later in the afternoon visit the Mehadevi Hindu Temple.
Day 9 Monday August 27th
After a leisurely breakfast, we drive to Munnar in the cool hills 4500ft high, north west of Cochin. We break up the 4 hour drive with a lunch stop in the hills at a Spice Garden.
We aim to arrive at our resort at about 4pm in time for you to have an evening walk. Our resort has sweeping views over tea plantations, an excellent restaurant and spa, and yoga is offered every morning.
Day 10 Tuesday August 28th
Today we are exploring and drawing around our hotel and the nearby tea plantations.
If you like take a morning yoga class before breakfast.
In the morning there will be a drawing and painting workshop from the terrace. After lunch we can go for a hike around the local tea plantations and sketch as we go. The spa is excellent for a great afternoon treat.
Day 11 Wednesday August 29th
Today we take a slow drive up to Top station, which is a tiny village overlooking the rolling mountains of the state of Tamil Nadu. We will talk to local rangers to see if we can time seeing some wild elephants on the way.
On the way back we will visit a Tea Factory.
We will stop and sketch during our journey.
Day 12 Thursday August 30th
After breakfast we take a Tuk Tuks to visit Arunya, It is the home, school and livelihood for the local community who have varying degrees of abilities The children learn independence at the DARE school there and go onto create at the highly crafted textile studio. They use natural dyes and fabrics to create the most exquisite textiles in shibori, batik and block printing.
Afterwards we go Tea tasting.
In the afternoon we return to our hotel and draw or relax.
Day 13 Friday August 31st
Drawing and hiking around Munnar during the morning.
After lunch we head back to Cochin for our last night.
Day 14 Saturday September 1st
Our last breakfast together before flying home. Transport to the airport is arranged for you.
Price: $4,500 (private room) or $4000 (twin share)
Start and End: Cochin
Group Size: Min 6 – Max 11
Accommodation: Heritage hotel in Cochin and Munnar, beach cabins in Marrari and a houseboat.
Travel Inclusions: accommodation & breakfast, air conditioned bus travel between towns, tour entrance fees, airport pick up and drop off.
Places Visited: Cochin ~ Alleppey ~ Marari ~ Munnar ~ Cochin