Spice, Trade and Botanicals: Histories of the Malabar Coast

19 Jan - 2 Feb 2020
  • Cultural Tours

About the tour

The Malabar Coast has been a meeting place of cultures throughout history; its lush landscapes produced precious spices, rubber, teak and tea, which brought traders from far and wide. This tour takes you through the most evocative parts of Malabar, from Bangalore to Mysore, known for its glittering royal heritage, a city of sandalwood, spices and silk. Travel into the highlands of Ooty and Coonoor and explore the pristine high montane forests of the Blue Mountains, before continuing to the Cardamom Hills to Madurai and the low lying spice plantations of Periyar, with its verdant landscapes and rich birdlife. Continue to Cochin, a melting pot of culture and religion through the ages, and onto the tranquil backwaters of Kerala, where you will cruise the backwaters on a luxury houseboat. Learn about the trade in spices, plants and ideas with expert talks and visits.

Your tour leader

Picture of JBT tour leader, Bill and Helen  Bynum

Bill and Helen Bynum

Bill Bynum is Professor Emeritus at University College London. A Yale graduate in medicine, he began his career in the history of medicine with a Cambridge PhD before moving to the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. His 'History of Medicine: A Very Short Introduction' and 'A Little History of Science' have been translated into 14 languages.

After a PhD in the History of Medicine from University College London, Helen Bynum lectured at the University of Liverpool before beginning a freelance career as a medical historian and popular science writer. Together with Bill she edited 'Great Discoveries in Medicine' before turning their attention to the world of plants and their histories in 'Remarkable Plants that Shape our World' and 'Botanical Sketchbooks'. ‘Team Bynum’ have led and lectured on successful tours and cruises for Jon Baines Tours. 

Need more information?

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Itinerary at a glance

  • 19 Jan (Sun) Bangalore: Botanical Discovery in the land of the Hortus Malabaricus. Arrive Bangalore and transfer to the hotel
  • 20 Jan (Mon) Bangalore: Botanical Art of the “Company School”. Visit the Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens. Visits the library with its fine collection of botanical art. Visit an Ayurvedic botanical garden.
  • 21 Jan (Tues) Bangalore / Mysore: Silk: made with mulberries. Drive to Mysore, stopping en route to visit the Sri Rangapatna – Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace - and the silk workshop. Arrive Mysore and check into the hotel
  • 22 Jan (Wed) Mysore: Sandalwood: the scent of Mysore. Visit Mysore Maharaja’s Palace. Visit Dervaraj Market and see the temple. Visit a Sandalwood factory. Take afternoon tea on the balcony of the Lalitha Mahal Palace with views over Mysore. Return by tonga (horse and carriage) to the hotel
  • 23 Jan (Thurs) Mysore: Ayurveda and its botanicals. Visit an Ayurvedic medicinal garden and a traditional Ayurvedic pharmacy factory. Visit Brindavan Gardens, including the government fruit orchards, to learn of their work
  • 24 Jan (Fri) Mysore / Ooty: Gin and tonic, cinchona bitters. Drive into the Blue Mountains and up to the hill station at Ooty. Visit Ooty Botanical Gardens and the old cinchona factory and residence of William Graham McIvor, the founder of the Ooty Botanical Garden
  • 25 Jan (Sat) Ooty: Planting Gardens. Explore some of the pristine high montaine forests in the Blue Mountains on a nature walk. Return in the afternoon and at leisure
  • 26 Jan (Sun) Ooty / Coonoor / Ooty: Tea: two leaves and a bud in the south. Take the toy train to Coonoor. Visit the tea plantation and tea factory
  • 27 Jan (Mon) Ooty / Madurai: Hill stations: healing nature. Drive across the Cardomon Hills to Coimbatore. Continue to Madurai
  • 28 Jan (Tues) Madurai / Periyar: Curry: making the dish. See the Madurai Temple and take part in a culinary tour. Drive to Periyar.
  • 29 Jan (Wed) Periyar: Pepper: Kerala’s gift. Visit a spice garden on a guided tour and enjoy lunch at a planter's house with locally grown spices
  • 30 Jan (Thurs) Periyar: Spice plantations: export riches. Morning nature walk in the Periyar National Park. At leisure
  • 31 Jan (Fri) Periyar / Cochin: Rubber: tapping for wealth. Drive to Alleppey, stopping at a rubber plantation en route to observe rubber tapping. Board a houseboat and cruise the beautiful Keralan backwaters. Continue to Cochin
  • 1 Feb (Sat) Cochin: Trade: why the world came to Cochin. Explore old Fort Cochin and visit the Dutch Palace and learn of Cochin’s long history. Visit Cochin's old spice houses before a farewell dinner in the evening.
  • 2 Feb (Sun) Cochin: Transfer to airport for departure flight OR take the Ayurvedic Resort extension in southern Kerala

Tour cost

Ground only cost of the tour (excluding international flights and transfers) is US$4,030 pp sharing

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