Onam Festival

11 nights

  • Exciting festivities, snake boat racing
  • Special houseboat
  • Bangalore, Fort Cochin and Mysore
  • Village discovery in upland Kerala


Kerala is a seductive place to visit at any time, but during the festival period of Onam it becomes all the more vibrant, showcasing the local culture and traditions at their very best. For ten days in August and September the south Indian state comes alive with music, parades, intricate flower decorations, worship, culminating in the spectacular Vallam Kali snake boat races. This is the end of the southwest monsoon season, with occasional rain to freshen up this most verdant of Indian states, and a good time to discover the astonishing variety of Kerala.

Spectacular Onam

boat racing in Onam Festival, Kerala

Experience the wonders of the Onam festival, as parades, fireworks and boat races take place across Kerala. The height of the festivities is reached on Thiruvonam, celebrating the return of mythological King Mahabali. The traditional dancing and martial arts performances, including Pulikali (tiger dancing) and Kathakali (enactments of local legends), are not to be missed.


Vibrant port city

Chinese fishing nets CochinThe bustling port city of Kochi, or Cochin, is the ideal place to be during the harvest festival of Onam. Discover the historic quarter of Fort Cochin, the frescoes of the Mattancherry palace and the huge Chinese fishing nets. Visit the Kathakali centre and immerse yourself in the festivities. Endlessly fascinating, with its unique blend of cultures and history, Kochi is one of our favourite Indian cities.


A very special houseboat

Enjoy gently cruising on the Goodearth houseboat as it winds through the backwaters from village to village and discover how Onam is celebrated in these quiet, authentic communities.

Contrast the gentle pace of the houseboat with the excitement of the snake boat races, as you witness scores of oarsmen moving at lightning speed, cheered on by the crowd.

The hill stations of Kerala

Head further north in Kerala to explore the peaceful Wayanad hills, staying in the village of Mothakkara. Enjoy wonderful hospitality and discover the traditions and way of life among the farms, visiting pepper and rubber plantations. This really is an enchanting place to relax and unwind, and the cooking at our village guesthouse is a real highlight!


Opulent Mysore

Mysuru (Mysore) is known as the city of palaces and silk. Discover striking palaces and cathedrals and explore the lively bazaars. The lavish Mysuru palace is illuminated at night during festival periods, adding to the theatre. This small city, just across the state border in neighbouring Karnataka, is another favourite city, with so much to discover and enjoy.

Bangalore and Fort Cochin

Day 1

Welcome at Bangalore airport, transfer to hotel for overnight stay.

Day 2 - Day 4Chinese fishing nets at Fort Cochin

A morning flight takes you to Kochi. Enjoy three nights in a traditional hotel in Fort Cochin, exploring the wonderful old fort district and discovering the festival traditions of the port city. On one of the days, a short drive takes you to a nearby village to watch a country boat race and enjoy a village lunch, before returning to Fort Cochin. 

In the Backwaters

Day 5 - Day 6

A short transfer takes you to Vayalar village to board the Kayal Kettuvallam houseboat. Spend two nights onboard the Goodearth Kayal Kettuvallam, winding through the backwaters from village to village. Enjoy a traditional lunch with join in the local Onam celebrations. Spend a day at the site of the magnificent Vallam Kali boat races, cheering on the brightly decorated boats and their oarsmen.


The houseboat has two twin cabins with private facilities. If there are fewer than four in your party, you may wish to upgrade and have exclusive use of the houseboat.

In the Wayanad Hills

Day 7

plantations near MothakkaraFrom the houseboat a transfer takes you to the nearby town of Ernakulam to catch the day train to Kozhikode. From Kozhikode it is a 3 hour drive to the delightful village of Mothakkara in the Wayanad hills of upland Kerala. Overnight in the Hill House guesthouse in Mothakkara.

Day 8 - Day 9

Enjoy a full day with the community of Mothakkara. Explore the local farms and the coffee and pepper plantations, visit the local pottery and immerse yourself in village life in this beautiful part of Kerala.

DAY 10 - Day 11

A road journey (4 hours) takes you to the enchanting city of Mysuru. With two nights in a comfortable hotel, you have time to explore the opulant palaces and discover the local markets.

Day 12

Return by road to Bangalore for your homeward flight.


For this holiday we recommend flights to and from Bangalore. We ask guests to make their own arrangements for international travel.

Transfers included

We look after you from the moment of your arrival at Bangalore airport. Your holiday includes transfers, your own guide throughout your stay with the communities, accommodation in Mothakkara village, on the Goodearth Houseboat and in the cities.

All meals are provided during your stay with the communities. In the cities and during transfers, meals are at your own local charge.

Your own houseboat

The houseboat has two twin cabins with private facilities. If there are fewer than four in your party, you may wish to upgrade and have exclusive use of the houseboat. This can be arranged at a supplement.

Extra nights

All our itineraries can be tailor-made to create your perfect holiday. You can extend your stay on the houseboat, in Mothakkara, Fort Cochin, Mysore and Bangalore or shorten the itinerary if time is limited. Our knowledgeable staff will be delighted to help fashion the holiday to suit you.

Contact our bookings team

Our experienced reservations team will be happy to talk you through your options and help you to create your ideal holiday to south India.

From UK or other countries:
+44 (0)1223 750049

From France:
+33 (0)5335 20774

From India:
+ 91 9920882409 or +91 9869005642

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Booking enquiries: 01223 750049