Observe tigers and elephants in their natural habitat along with rare flora and fauna in a protected nature reserve, take in a traditional dance performance and even visit a tea plantation.
The vibrancy, diversity and authenticity of India is simply ideal for motivating the creative mind and there will be many opportunities to put paintbrush to paper or canvas on this fifteen-day artistic adventure. From the winding canals of the Backwaters and the wild safari grounds of Periyar to the incredible national parks, there will be something to delight and captivate every artistic eye.
Soak up the culture with a display of Kalaripayattu, which is a martial art that originated as a style in Kerala, and watch a special Kathakali dance performance. Catch a glimpse of endangered species at Periyar Tiger Reserve, which is also home to elephants, Indian bison and sambar deer.
Today we depart from London’s Heathrow airport for our evening flight that will take us to Cochin.
Upon arrival at Cochin airport, we transfer to our first hotel, the Cocobay Resort in Kumarakom. We will stay in this hotel for four nights and while here we will explore the surrounding canal systems by both land and water. Painting locations include a boatman’s house, the waterside and the grounds of our hotel. Enjoy a sightseeing cruise before setting up to capture the scenery on paper and then returning to our hotel to unwind. This area is fascinating; a system of interconnected canals, rivers and lakes that span over 900km, with cities and dotted sporadically around it.
We head to the wild landscapes of Periyar, where we will stay for the next three nights. Here, we will discover the town of Thekaddy and the surrounding spice gardens that are filled with fragrant cardamom, pepper, fenugreek and cinnamon. Paint elephants in their natural habitat, marvel at the area’s untamed beauty and wander around the village. Optional activities include a Jeep safari to Tamil Nadu, a boat ride to see more of this part of the country, or perhaps a wild jungle walk and we will also take in a Kalaripayattu martial arts show on our sixth evening of this tour.
On the morning of the ninth day, we head to Munnar. At 1,500 metres and located in the Western Ghats region, this vibrant small town is set amidst the lush, green tea gardens that contour the landscape. We will be treated to a full day of painting at the glorious Eco Tones resort, there will be the chance to express our creativity at a working tea plantation, and we will also make a stop at both a tea museum and the Rajamalai National Park. This particular nature spot is famous for the endangered mountain goat – the Nilgiri Tahr – and also for the Neelakurinji flowers, which blossom once every 12 years and are next scheduled to make a vibrant purple appearance in the summer of 2018.
The final stretch of this beautiful tour of southern India will be spent in Cochin. This ancient headland separates the backwaters from the Indian Ocean, and the wonderful buildings here are a reminder of this area’s rich colonial past. A wonderful old synagogue, spectacular Chinese fishing nets that tourists flock to see and the burial place of Vasco de Gama – a Portuguese explorer who was the first European to reach India by sea – are a few of the fascinating sights that we can discover here. The aforementioned fishing nets are fixed land installations and are still used for a unique method of fishing. While in Cochin, we will be able to get a little closer to the traditional culture as there is an optional Kathakali dance performance scheduled for one of our evenings. This classical dance form is visually intoxicating, with dancers wearing captivating costumes, masks and also intricate make-up.
After a short transfer from our hotel to the airport at Cochin, we will catch our return flights back home.
Trained at the Royal College of Art, Kevin is a highly versatile artist. He has illustrated numerous books, designed textiles and architectural decoration in the Middle East, including much of the marble work at The Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi. Nowadays he concentrates on painting and printmaking – primarily watercolour and mixed media which he exhibits widely. An experienced tutor, teaching both students at university and adult workshops, he is very supportive and teaches with enthusiasm and humour.
Our four hotels offer authenticity, quality, service and proximity to our locations. We have deliberately selected upmarket hotels some of which are heritage style and others much more modern. They are all very comfortable.