Golden Triangle & Kerala vacation, India

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Golden Triangle & Kerala vacation, India

Environment

Your tour will include stays at two CGH Earth Hotels that offer tourism respectful of nature and local ethos, in search for new harmonies. The CGH Earth Hotels adopted the construction methods of the Ooralie tribe of Periyar and the fishermen of Mararikulum and made them their own.

Your first hotel will be the CGH Earth resort Brunton Boatyard in Fort Cochin. With a giant rain tree in the middle, the hotel was resurrected from the remains of a Victorian shipbuilding yard in the 19th century, using the precise building materials of the time - brick, lime, wood and terracotta.

The eco-friendly hotel is one of the rare hotels where small refillable ceramic pots are used for shower gel and shampoo as an alternative to single-sized plastic bottles. Brunton Boatyard also adapted an innovative solution of rain water harvesting that supplies all year around, without putting a drain on the city´s resources. You will moreover find filtered drinking water in large refillable glass bottles from rainwater that has been purified. If you don´t mind the heat, you can also rent bicycles from the hotel to explore the city with your guide in a more sustainable way.

Kerala has taken a deeper interest in increasing locally produced food and organic foods in the last years. The state is now meeting over 70% of its demand for vegetables on its own compared with just 20% a few years ago. Large tracts of land are now being converted for organic cultivation. Initiatives by government agencies, social organisations and farmers are all participating in what is becoming an organic farming revolution in Kerala, that will not only benefit the environment but also your health.

Wildlife
The greenest state of India offers shelter to some of the best and rarest plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species. Naturally there are many wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala that have been developed to look after and preserve the wide variety of birds and animals.

During your stay in Kumarakom you will visit the Vembanad Lake, the largest fresh water lake in Asia located in Kottayam. Kottayam is a vast network of several rivers and canals that drains water into the large expanse of the Vembanad Lake. The lake supports the large variety of flora and fauna, from mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves to white lillies. You can also visit the famous Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary on the eastern bank of the Vembanad Lake.

Kumarakom, the clump of small islands on the Vembanad Lake, has launched a Responsible Tourism model, linking the local community to the hospitality industry and has won the national award for the best rural tourism project. Kerala Tourism’s “Responsible Tourism” model at Kumarakom also got the biggest international recognition when it was conferred the top United Nations Award, UNWTO Ulysses Award, for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance.

We believe that there are a thousand small ways to give back more than we take from the earth. We are trying to keep the extra unneeded waste to a minimum in all our tours and actively promote that our guides educate local families that they visit with you to do the same.

Community

The CGH resorts we select for you endeavor to employ people from local community, be it the naturalist who guides you through the wilderness or the therapist who rejuvenates your mind and body. CGH instituted community based programmes that helped rehabilitate poachers and smugglers. Local tribes were taught organic farming techniques, which helped them to prosper and preserve their way of life. CGH Earth have adopted the local culture and way of life as a form of respect for the local heritage and traditional modes of living. They set up market mechanisms such us purchasing produce from the local community only.

Local Culture
In Kochi, our experienced local guide will take you on a very special tour in Fort Cochin, providing you with rare and researched inisights about culture, heritage and spiritual history of the the city and its diverse buildings. We will take you for example to the oldest synagogue in all the Commonwealth of Nations, the Paradesi Synagogue, built in 1568. It is run by the last and only Jewish woman in India.

We will take you to the local fishermen suspended on Chinese fishing nets, introduced by Chinese explorers. It is a very unique and unusal method of fishing operated from the shore. Set up on bamboo and teak poles and held horizontally by huge mechanisms lowering them into the sea, they look like hammocks and are counter-weighed by large stones tied to ropes.

You also have the possibilitiy to witness a very special and sacred Kathakali dance, performed by the local dancers, which tells stories from the ancient Hindu epic – Ramayana and Mahabharata, and maybe a Kalari spectacle, demonstrating parts of the origin of Martial Arts.

The Brunton Boatyard in Cochin also features a group of five Baul musicians. The Bauls are from West Bengal and combine heterogeneous spiritual and religious traditions, a mix of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sufi Islam — probably a good message for our fragmented societies today. The Baul community profess universal brotherhood and refuse differences of race, caste and religion. They wander from village to village detached from worldly possessions, except for their instruments, which are as simple as their singing - an ‘ektara’ has only one string while the ‘dotara’ has two - apart from their distinctive percussion, called the ‘dubki’.

On your boat ride or house boat visit on the serene lake Vembanad, you might be able to celebrate Onam (August-September), the most ancient Hindu festival, with a spectacular water regatta - the snake boat races. It is indeed amazing to watch oarsmen, at least a hundred in one boat, slice their way through the waters to the fast rhythm of their own full throated singing. All boats used for the races are home-made out of indigenous materials.

At Marari Beach, you can learn local & sustainable traditions by watching the fisherwomen using palm fronds to prepare sapling protectors, or the fascinating process of coir making, a wonder fibre that forms the basis of numerous items, from handbags to ropes to sandals to mattresses.

If you do want to shop, then we will take you to local collectives where local women of that very region craft there products and help keep the money earned in that very community.

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