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Monsoon holidays

Indian poet, Kalidasa 100 B.C.

"The sky on every side is shrouded by rain-clouds Which wear the beauty of deep lotus petals, And here look like heaps of made-up eye salve, and there Possess the charm of breasts of women with child."

Chasing the Monsoon, Alexander Frater 1990

"The meeting of the earth and the clouds is a kind of love-making."

Tourist spots

Wondrous monsoon rain, study of a great weather system, rejuvenated earth, rejuvenated you through Ayurvedic oil bath and massage, discover south and central Kerala, rain forest, tree houses, fishing villages, beaches,houseboat cruises, shopping, architecture, sightseeing.

On June 1st, with miraculous timing every year, this great weather system enters India at the tropical city of Trivandrum on the Malabar Coast. We suggest you arrive at Trivandrum Airport at least one day before. As the monsoon breaks, watch the clouds collecting over a Fresh Fish Curry lunch in one of this city's many fine hotels (average cost of a Buffet Lunch 300Rupees, about 5 pounds sterling; local vegetarian restaurants offer a thali meal, that's a variety of small dishes, for about two pounds).

Catch a movie in English, Malayalam or a Bollywood great in the afternoon if you want to escape the showers. Then catch up with the violety sky it as it arrives in the beach resort of Kovalam, one of the finest in India. Join the chatty locals as they study the pattern of the biggest weather system known to man. Experience some local snacks in any of the beach restaurants. Afterwards shop for souvenirs along the seafront and settle down for the night in a unique beach cottage.

The rains rejuvenate! They work their magic on the banana and coconut trees and this climate will work its magic on you too. traditional ayurvedic massage, which rejuvenates mind, body and soul, is best taken at the start of the monsoon. Try a foot massage where the technician swings from a rope in the ceiling and massages your oiled body with his feet. Book in for a week's rejuvenating beauty treatment which is guaranteed to knock years off your age. You can try different Ayurvedic centres as you follow the skies. It's a quiet, relaxing time in the state of Kerala. No hoards of tourists. All the attention will be focused on you, giving you a new lease of life.

Chase the monsoon from the backseat of a private taxi all the way north from Kovalam. Next stop is the temple town of Varkala with its old-fashioned cottages and sweeping red laterite cliffs from which rich mineral water gushes that is believed to cure all sorts of ailments. This town is a major Hindu pilgrimage centre so a visit to the 3000 year old Janardhana Swamy temple with its own ambalakulam or temple pool on Sivagiri Hill is a must.

As you can see, the magic of the monsoon season has fascinated people from the earliest times to the present day. Why not join the gang?

No, the rains don't lash down all day long. There will be heavy rain for about an hour or two and afterwards lots of warm Kerala sunshine when you can catch up on your sun tan, lounge by the pool or do some sightseeing.

Journey on another 20 kms to Kollam on the banks of the Ashtamudi Lake and now the centre of Kerala's cashew nut industry. The beach at Thirumullavaram circles a small fishing village and after your sightseeing you can start one of the most memorable parts of your Kerala yatra, a night cruise by traditional riceboat to Alleppey. Alleppey with its networks of waterways is known as the 'Venice of the East'. Here you can walk the beautiful white sands of a nearly deserted beach, shop for gold, visit temples and watch the evening sky from a Heritage Home overlooking the beach.

It's on to Cochin, 'Queen of the Arabian Sea', a unique Indian city which comprises a bustling business district and several small islands. Take a half-hour ferry ride to an island and view a historic palace, catch another ferry and enjoy the comforts of a five-star hotel on the edge of the water. See the Chinese fishing nets, brought originally from the court of Kublai Khan, haul in your dinner back on the mainland in historic Fort Cochin and saunter along the spice-filled streets of Mattancherry. Stay in a city hotel and have another relaxing Ayurvedic Rejuvenation massage before sunset.

Next day it's straight into the heart of a 500-acre tropical rain forest where you will observe nature from an authentic tree house, perched 86 feet above ground level and made from all natural materials. You move up in the world by way of a genuine cane lift and all your food comes from an organic farm.

Now you have a choice. You can continue to chase the monsoon through northern Kerala and even on to Goa. Or you can book in for the rejuvenating benefits of a one-week ayurvedic Treatment and enjoy Indian Head Massage, Body massage, Oil Bath, Steam Bath and many other calming treatments.

Ultimately this holiday will be tailored by you - and of course, by the skies. That's why we can't plan it day to day.

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