South India: Colour and Contrast, Oct 30 - Nov 10, 2017
With Jeremy Woodhouse & Herb Leventon
October 30 - November 10, 2017 (13 days/12 nights), max 10 people
South India is truly a land of color and contrasts. On this photography tour we will traverse the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. This is the south of India where people work the soil, and the sweet scents of jasmine, tea and incense are omnipresent. The people are darker, their smiles are wider, the landscape is lush, and the air is so much cleaner than in the north. This photography-intensive trip will take us to a few carefully selected locations that offer myriad photo opportunities.
Image © Jeremy Woodhouse
The journey will begin in the former royal city of Mysore. In this easily-navigated, and friendly city, the group will photograph the incense makers, flower sellers, knife sharpeners, papaya vendors, and the colorful fruit and vegetable markets. It is here that we will see women stringing together garlands of flowers in their homes and their husbands selling them in the market. In the neighboring rural hamlets we will photograph local people on the banks of the holy river performing the daily puja (prayer ritual). Karnataka is heavily Hindu and we will take a day trip to a somewhat undiscovered temple town to witness the pilgrims in prayer.
From here, we will make the scenic climb through the Western Ghats. The verdant green, former British hill stations of Ooty and Munnar will be our destination. Home to the world’s highest tea plantations which criss-cross the mountain ridges, the tea bushes create incredible geometric patterns. As the light changes, the terraced plantations take on a surreal look. We will also photograph the tea pickers in their barracks-like homes.
The backwaters of Kerala have a soft, calm and gentle feel. Families use the narrow canals to bathe, fish, wash their copper pots, and travel in traditional boats. We will have a model shoot on the grounds of our coconut tree-laden resort, which is dotted with restored teakwood cottages. Ayurvedic massage, yoga, meditation and the culinary delights will help charge our creative vision.
The trip will end in Cochin, one of the most historical ports on the Arabian Sea. Located on the “spice coast”, we will photograph the elderly women working in centuries-old, beamed warehouses. We will capture them sifting through cardamom, ginger, pepper and turmeric. The Chinese fishing nets, old Dutch cemetery, and decaying colonial-era bungalows in the historic Jew town will fill our viewfinders.
The fragrant markets, royal palace of Mysore, village life, and lush, brilliant green fields all create a palette for the photographer who wants to travel to a part of India that is diverse and culturally intact.
Day 1 : October 30 Bangalore
Upon arrival you will be greeted and driven to our hotel. The group will meet in the lobby in the early evening for a trip orientation which will be followed by dinner.
Day 2 : November 1 Mysore
After breakfast we will make the 4-hour drive to Mysore, a city of 1 million inhabitants and the fourth least polluted city in India. Once we reach Mysore we will check into our hotel and have a buffet lunch. The afternoon will be spent in the the atmospheric 127-year-old Devaraja market where we will photograph the garland sellers, colorful powder piles used for making rangoli patterns outside homes, perfume sellers, and the fruit and vegetable stalls.
Seventy five percent of floriculture comes from Karnataka and the hint of jasmine permeates the air in the market. We will also shoot street scenes at the historic clock tower which is adjacent to the market. At 7 PM we will shoot the Mysore Palace as it is illuminated.
Royal Orchid Metropole Hotel
Recognized as a Grand Heritage Hotel, Royal Orchid Metropole Hotel is located in the heart of Mysore city and spread over 2.5 acres of land. For its perfect fusion of old world charm and modern elegant designs, imperial arches, impressive pillars, and flamboyant corridors which was originally built by the former Maharaja of Mysore in 1920, Royal Orchid Metropole is considered as one of the best hotels in Mysore near railway station.
Day 3 : November 3 Mysore
Leaving the hotel at 6:30 AM we will shoot the daily flower auction at the market. After breakfast we will roam the streets located behind St. Philomena's Church. It is like being in a rural village in the midst of a city. We will photograph psychedelic-hued, tile-roofed homes, cows being milked, ladies stringing garlands on the floor of their small homes, and vegetable carts roaming the lanes. We end the morning in the narrow lanes of the Mysore car parts junkyard. Lunch will be at Mylari Dosa. This proverbial 80-year-old hole in wall is know world wide to foodies and locals. Later in the afternoon we will drive seven miles to Chimundi Hills to photograph the Sri Chamundeswari Temple and viewpoint.
Royal Orchid Metropole Hotel
Day 4 : November 2 Mysore
Departing the hotel at 6:45 AM we will drive to Ghosa Ghat. We will encounter Hindu priests chanting, local pilgrims taking a dip in the water, and ladies washing their sari's and putting them on the steps of the ghats to dry. The scene at the nearby bridge is reminiscent of the black and white lithographs from 100 years ago. A picnic breakfast will be at the Paschimavahini Raja Ghat. Here we will walk the lanes of this very rural hamlet, where the people will be washing clothes and where horse carts are a mode of transport. We are bound to stop on the road side for a fresh coconut drink.
We will journey a further 30 miles to Melkote. Life in Melkote is centered around the 12th century Cheluvanarayanaswamy Temple and the Yoganarasimhaswamy Temple on the hill overlooking the town. Pilgrims will be in abundance and the landscape is green and lush, the lake picturesque, where the Hindu Temples dwarf their surroundings.
Royal Orchid Metropole Hotel
Day 5 : November 3 Mysore - Ooty
Today we will begin our ascent into the Western Ghats. Memorably nicknamed ‘Snooty Ooty’, it was established by the British in the early 19th century as the summer headquarters of the Madras government. We will stop to photograph the landscape and villages that dot the highway. After checking into our hotel we will have lunch at the Woodland restaurant that serves the best parotta in the the Western Ghats. During the afternoon we will wander along the chaotic main street in this hill station town culminating with a sunset shoot from a scenic vantage point.
Day 6 : November 4 Ooty - Munnar
After an early breakfast we will drive through Bandipur game park where we may catch elephants, spotted deer, and peacocks on the side of the road. The road to Munnar is very curvy and the drive should get us there by mid-afternoon. It will be he longest drive of the whole tour. Munnar at 4,500 feet is home to the highest tea plantations in the world, some which are as high as 7,300 feet. Winding roads run through dense forest and scenic hills. The geometric emerald-green carpets of the tea-planted slopes will surround us. Munnar is a hill region and we will be there at the perfect time, as the climate moves from summer into winter. After checking into our hotel the afternoon is free. Be sure to check out the viewpoint from the grounds of this bespoke hotel.
In the early evening we will head to Pothamedu to photograph the whole transition from day to dusk, in the stunning tea-estate scenery.
Day 7: November 5 Munnar
Leaving our hotel in the cool and misty dawn, we will travel by jeep through the lush, emerald green, geometrically patterned hillside of the Lockhart tea plantation region. We will encounter endless rows of bushes where women in ruby, turquoise and emerald saris nimbly pluck the tea leaves, flicking them into net bags that hang from a band tied around their heads. The group will have multiple opportunities to photograph the scene from various vantage points and angles. The billowing clouds, the mist, the gravel road, the clean and crisp air, will embrace us. A picnic breakfast will be laid out high up in the verdant hills. The group will visit and photograph the local tea pickers in their barracks-like homes that are called "lines", and if possible we will visit the school in Nagamalai. The people are warm and friendly and have strong, weather beaten features.
On the way down we will have photograph the wooden Suryanelli factory where the leaves are sorted, mixed, processed and bagged for shipment.
Back at the Windermere we will have lunch, and in the late afternoon a tea tasting. At 4:00PM the Windermere offers a walk through the cardamom fields.
Every room at Windermere has been thoughtfully handcrafted over the years.As you step inside you will feel the warmth and comforts of home. Step outside, and you are rejuvenated in the fresh mountain air
Day 8: Munnar
After breakfast, we will drive for one hour to the Munnar country village of Vattava. It is famous for the wide variety of crops which are not seen in other parts of Kerala, which include strawberries, blackberries, plums, gooseberries, egg fruits, peach and passion fruits. We will photograph the landscape and the field workers on the terraced slopes. Returning in the afternoon, the group will be free to wander in the covered market in Munnar or relax and work on their images at the hotel.
Day 9: Munnar - Kumarakom
The drive to Kumarakom is 100 miles (160 kms) and we will arrive there by lunch time. This enchanting backwater resort is on the banks of Lake Vembanad. On the grounds are small byways, roaming cattle, and a swimming pool. They offer yoga, meditation, bird watching, cooking, Ayurvedic massage, traditional Kathakali dance displays. The massage staff engage in intense martial arts at 6:00 AM every morning. The seafood and culinary offerings are all gourmet. Directly outside the gate is a local backwaters village where it is easy to engage with the locals. In the evening we will take a sunset cruise.
Day 10: November 8 Kumarakom
We will venture out by boat to photograph the villagers in the backwaters. This will yield images of people washing their copper pots, women brushing their long, jet black hair, men chest deep in the canals bathing, kids in school uniforms riding their bikes, fisherman fixing nets, and rice harvesters knee-deep in the fields. In the afternoon we will split into groups and have a model shoot with the angelic young women who work in the resort. The backdrop will be the small bridges, lake front and whatever your photographic vision calls forth.
Day 11: November 9 Cochin
The two hour drive from Kumarakon will take us to our last destination, Cochin (Kochi). As written in the Lonely Planet guide, "Serene Kochi has been drawing traders, explorers and travelers to its shores for over 600 years. Nowhere else in India could you find such an intriguing mix: giant fishing nets from China, a 400-year-old synagogue, ancient mosques, Portuguese houses and the crumbling remains of the British Raj. The result is an unlikely blend of medieval Portugal, Holland and an English village grafted onto the tropical Malabar Coast”.
In the afternoon we will shoot the Dutch cemetery, moss-covered and decaying lanes, great graffiti, and the streets of Fort Cochin. We will photograph the sunset at the Chinese fishing nets along the banks of the river. For those interested, a cultural performance of Kathakali and martial arts takes place across from our riverside hotel.
Fort House Hotel
Day 12: November 10 Cochin
The group will start the day at the Vannar Sangham Dhobi laundry photographing the workers in their stalls washing and pounding the water out afterwards. From there we will head directly to the historic Mattancherry section by tuk tuk. Here we will hop from spice warehouse to warehouse to photograph the sari-clad, elderly women sifting spices in darkened cave like buildings, the workers unloading 100 pound bags on their backs, the Pardesi Jewish synagogue, Mattancherry Palace and street scenes. During the afternoon you will be free to wander, shop, and further explore quaint and calm Cochin. We will have a farewell dinner on the dock of our riverside hotel.
Fort House Hotel
Day 13: November 11 Airport
Transportation will be provided to the two-year-old Cochin Airport which is an hour way.
Image © Jeremy Woodhouse
in association with
Tour Cost $6,700
Trip Deposit $1,000
Single Supplement (if available) $970
Couples Discount $300
Maximum Group Size 10
2 SPOTS OPEN
Jeremy Woodhouse & Herb Leventon
This trip is limited to only 10 participants.
Tour Fee Includes
The tour fee excludes
Chat Puja Festival in the ancient city of Varanasi (Benares). Please click on the following button for details