South India With Ajanta & Ellora
South India is home to ancient civilizations, bustling modern cities, mountains, forests, exotic wildlife, temples, beaches and backwaters. This tour takes in a variety of destinations while still giving you the chance to see local life up close and engage with the wonderfully warm and friendly people who call this land home. Later experience the difference between the Modern Cities and the ancient caves depicting early century architectural finesse. Catch a glimpse of how an entire monastery complex would dwell in solid rock caves in Aurangabad
South India With Ajanta & Ellora
Day 02: Bangaluru Sightseeing
Day 03: Bangaluru – Mysore
Day 04: Mysore
Day 05: Mysore – Madras
Day 06: Madras (Chennai) – Pondicherry
Day 07: Pondicherry
Day 08: Pondicherry – Chidambaram – Tanjore
Day 09: Tanjore – Trichy – Madurai
Day 10: Madurai
Day 11: Madurai – Periyar (Thekkady)
Day 12: Periyar (Hiking Tour)
Day 13: Periyar - Appelley (Houseboat)
Day 14: Houseboat – Cochin (Kochi)
Day 15: Cochin(Kochi)
Day 16: Cochin – Mumbai – Aurangabad
Day 17: Ajanta Caves Excursion
Day 18: Ellora Excursion
Day 19: Aurangabad – Mumbai (Flight)
Day 20: Mumbai & Dep. Transfer
Name of Program: South India With Ajanta & Ellora.
Places Visit: Bangaluru – Mysore – Madras (Chennai) – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry – Tajore – Trichi – Madurai – Periyar – Houseboat – Cochin (Kochi) – Aurangabad – Ajanta – Ellora-Mumbai.
Duration: 19 Nights
Best Time: Oct-March.
Day 01: Arrival Bangaluru (Bangalore)
Upon arrival at Bangluru international aiport, meet to our representative and transfer to your pre-booked hotel. Capital of the Southern state of Karnataka, Bangaluru today is Asia`s fastest growing cosmopolitan city. It is home to some of the most high tech industries in India. Bangalore is also home to some of India’s premier scientific establishments. Blessed with a salubrious climate, gardens & parks, natural lakes, architectural landmarks, shopping malls, the best restaurants and pubs in this part of the globe, business opportunities, Bangalore is the ideal gateway to India and beyond. Bangaluru offers something for everyone-music and dance concerts (Western and Indian), dramas, exhibitions, carnivals, conferences and more. Overnight will be at Bangalore.
Day 02: Bangaluru Sightseeing
Breakfast & Dinner Breakfast will be at the hotel. Later enjoy the full day local sightseeing. Visit Vidhana Soubha, Lal Bagh, Tipus Palace & Fort, Government Museum, Next to the VITM is the Visveswaraya Industrial Trade Center, the first of its kind in India. In addition to its trade promotional activities, the Center has two exhibition floors housing a permanent display of all that is manufactured in Karnataka. Also in the Cubbon Park are the Seshadri Iyer Memorial Hall, which houses the public library, the High Court and the Jawahar Bal Bhavan. The Bhavan, with its toy train, fairgrounds and theatre, is a recreational, hobby and educational centre for children. St. Mary`s Church. Enjoy shopping or just sit in one of the numerous modern pubs in downtown area just enjoying the latest music and crowd. It will be a nice experience as the weather in this city is pleasant all through the year. Overnight will be at Bengaluru.
Day 03: Bangaluru – Mysore (150 Km Drive)
Breakfast & Dinner After breakfast drive to Mysore, en route visit Srirangapatnam. Visit Srirangapatnam this fort was the stronghold of Tipu Sultan, son of Haider Ali. Tipu made a last minute ditch against the British in 1799 before surrendering his kingdom. Among the many fort buildings still intact, are Tipu’s airy Summer Palace and his tomb at the Darya Daulat Bagh (garden). Here, is also the celebrated Sri Ranganatha Temple. Continue drive to Mysore. Reach and check into the hotel. Mysore city was the capital of the old royal Mysore province. To the people of India the word Mysore is synonymous with Sandalwood, silk and fine inlay-work using ivory. It is the home of incense sticks dipped in sandalwood oil perfume. Mysore is also the home of many well regarded musicians and artists. It is even today the hub of the tourist map of Karnataka. Nearby are several places of interest to visitors, some of these are Brindavan Gardens, Srirangapatnam, Rangana Tittu bird sanctuary, Chamundi Hills, Nanjanagudu, Bandipur forest reserve, Shivanasamudra falls, and Talakaadu. Overnight will be at Mysore.
Day 04: Mysore
Breakfast & Dinner Enjoy the breakfast at the hotel. Proceed for the sightseeing of Mysore. Visit Mysore Palace: The Maharaja`s Palace is one of the important sights in Mysore. Built in Indo-Saracenic style with domes, turrets, arches and colonnades, the Palace is a treasure house of exquisite carvings and works of art from all over the world. Intricately carved doors open on to luxuriously furnished rooms. Chamundi Hills: A well-known 335 meters high landmark, Chamundi Hill can be reached by a 13 km road or by climbing up the 1,000 steps laid out by the Mysore Maharaja in the 17th century. Half-way up along the stone steps is Nandi, Lord Shiva`s Bull, a majestic 4.8 meter monolith. At the top is the 12th century temple of Chamundeshwari, the patron goddess of the Wodeyars. Close to the temple is the gigantic statue of the demon Mahishasura. The summit offers a panoramic view of Mysore`s lakes, parks and palaces. Brindavan Gardens: Located at the KR Sagar Dam [Kannambadi], Brindavan Gardens is one of the best gardens in South India. Spread over an acre, Brindavan Gardens has since the 1960s provided the backdrop for many Indian films. Special attractions include the “Dancing Fountains”. Timings: Monday-Friday: 6:30 PM - 7:25 PM and Saturday-Sunday: 6:30 PM - 8:25 PM. Overnight will be at Mysore.
Day 05: Mysore – Madras (Chennai)
Breakfast & Dinner Breakfast at hotel. Morning free to explore the city on own. Later in afternoon take the train to Chennai. Overnight train to Madras (Chennai). Next day arrival Chennai, on arrival meet to our representative and transfer to hotel. Morning free for take relax. PM Sightseeing of Madras (Chennai). Chennai (formerly known as Madras) is the capital city of the state of Tamil Nadu, and the fourth largest city in India. In 1639, when the East India Company chose to select a new location for settlement, the erstwhile fishing village called Madraspatnam was born and renamed Madras. The tour includes the following places of interest: Fort St. George, Marina Beach, The Fort Museum, & Santhome Cathedral Basilica. Overnight stay in Madras (Chennai).
Day 06: Madras (Chennai) – Pondicherry (180 Km)
Breakfast & Dinner After breakfast drive to Pondicherry, en route visit Mahabalipuram, a small town with vibrant history dates back to the Tamil Pallava dynasty in the 7th and the 9th century in South India. This town is famous for its rock carved temples, sculptures and the world’s largest stone bas relief. The extravagant shore temples are the most famous spots in Mahabalipuram for photography in the country. The structures here are mostly carved out of granite and are one of the oldest existing examples of the Dravidian architecture. There are nine rock-cut cave temples in the area. These temples have interesting carvings on them portraying the Hindu Gods and Goddesses in various postures, some mythological relating incidents. There is a carving of the celebrated fight between Mahishasura and Goddess Durga and a carving of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The major attraction here is the carving of the magnificent Pandava Rathas (dedicated to the Pandava brothers of Mahabharata) all carved out of a single rock. There is also a huge rock known as the Arjuna’s Penance, where the Mahabharata hero was said to have paid for his worldly sins. There are also famous ‘Mandapams’, which are rock-cut galleries with sculpted figures inside them. Later proceed to Pondicherry. On arrival check in hotel, rest of the time visit Beach side.
Day 07: Pondicherry
Breakfast & Dinner Breakfast at hotel, later proceed to full day sightseeing. Pondicherry is a former French colony settled in the 18th century and is now a union territory and an attractive seaside town, still with a Anglo–French flavor. Proceed for the sightseeing of Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, was founded by Sri Aurobhindo, a Bengal revolutionary and Philosopher who struggled bitterly against the British for freedom. After his period, the Mother - the chief disciple of Aurobindo, ran the ashram. Its spiritual principle represents a combination of Yoga and Modern Science. Auroville City of Dawn an experimental town, was founded by Ms. Mirra Richard also called as Mother. Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity. It is located 8 Km from the Pondicherry city. Manakkula Vinayagar Temple, This temple is more than 300 years old and is dedicated to Lord Ganesh. It has a golden spire and walls portraying forty different forms of Lord Ganesh. Return to the hotel. Overnight will be at Pondicherry.
Day 08: Pondicherry – Chidambaram – Tanjore (175 Km)
Breakfast & Dinner Breakfast will be at the hotel. Later proceed to Tanjore en route visit Chidambaram. The Land of Cosmic Dancer (Lord Nataraja) is an important pilgrim centre and a holy place for Saivites as the famous Nataraja Temple is located here. Dedicated to Lord Nataraja, this ancient temple of Cholas is unique not only because it is devoted solely to the art of Bharatanatyam, but also it is one of the rare temples where Shiva is represented by an idol rather than the customary lingam. After visit of Nataraja Temple drive to Tanjore. A city famous for Brahadeeswarar Temple and known as Granary of South India, lying in the deltaic region of the famous river Cauvery. An important centre for South Indian art and architecture as most of the living Chola temples and UNESCO world heritage monument are located in and around Tanjore. Tanjore is also the home of the Tanjore painting, a unique style of this region. Tanjore was at height of its glory during King Raja Raja Chola. The Saraswathi Mahal Library was started between the intervals of 1535 AD and 1673 for the Royals of Nayaks and the Maratha kings between 1673 AD and 1855 expanded the library. Specifically during the kingdom of Saroboji II, thousands of books were got placed. And the library has collections of rare and illustrated manuscripts in Indian and European languages. The palm leaf manuscripts go beyond 20,000 in number. The rare Sanskrit books in the library were collected by the King Saroboji from various places of the western side of India and hence the name Saroboji. Overnight will be at Tanjore.
Day 09: Tanjore – Trichy – Madurai( 130 Km)
Breakfast & Dinner Enjoy the breakfast at the hotel. Drive to Madurai en route visit Trichy for the sightseeing of Rock Fort Temple and Srirangam. Rock Fort Temple: The most famous landmark of Trichy is the Rock Fort temple which is 83m tall, perched on a huge rocky out crop. The temple complex is composed of two parts - a Shiva temple (Thayumanaswamy) carved in the middle of the rock and a Ganesh temple at the top portion of the rock. The Ganesh temple is much smaller with an access through steep steps carved on the rock and provides a stunning view of Trichy, Srirangam and the rivers Kaveri and Kollidam. The Rock fort Hillock is said to be 230 crore years old. Due to its ancient and impressive architecture created by the Pallavas, the temple is maintained by the Archaeological department of India. It will take 1 - 2 hours to visit this place. Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple: It is an important pilgrimage centre and an exclusive Vaishnavite landmark. Srirangam looks like an island surrounded by river Cauvery and Kollidam on its either side. It is situated at a distance of 7 km from Trichy Railway station. This temples fame stands for its Rajagopuram, which is the highest tower in south India. Reach Madurai and check in at hotel. Relax.
Day 10: Madurai
Breakfast & Dinner Today morning visit the flower market. Return to the hotel and enjoy the breakfast. Later proceed for the sightseeing of Madurai: Meenakshi Amman Temple: This is one of the famous temples in South India, which is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Shiva. Main goddess is Lord Meenakshi. The temple is located in the centre of the city. Most impressive of the temple is its 12 Towers. This temple has five entrances, four entrances were built according to the direction like East, west, North and South and name as East Tower, West Tower, North Tower and South Tower and it is famous for Golden Lotus tank also. In this temple various festivals are celebrated continuously around the year. All the temple towers are decorated with paintings with arts and architecture. Thousand pillars hall is located inside the temple itself. (Architecture of the temple is amazing & one must see this remarkable temple in his/her lifetime).- During festival season, all the temple towers and water tank will be illuminated with colorful lights. Thirumalai Nayak palace: King Thirumalai Nayak, who was one of the Nayak rulers, built this palace. The building, which we see now, was the main palace where the King Nayak lived. Still, his throne is kept in the palace for exhibition. The palace was divided into two parts, one is called Swarga Vilasam and another one is called Ranga Vilasam. The specialty of the palace: The style of the architecture and the designing of the palace is the combination of all Dravidian, Islamic and European styles. Huge circular pillars surround the Courtyard of the palace. Every evening, sound and light show is conducted as well with stories depicting Nayak` s life history and about his rule. Gandhi Museum: This museum was built to honor our Father of nation, Gandhi JI. It gives a detailed history about his freedom struggle. We shall see many pictures of Freedom struggle and Gandhian thoughts. The pictures exhibits based on Indian political leaders, peace movements and some of the collections of world events. We shall also witness some of the things which were used by Gandhi Ji. In the evening either enjoy the Sound n Light Show at Thirumalai Nayak Palace or visit Meenkashi temple for evening Aarti. Overnight will be at Madurai.
Day 11: Madurai – Periyar (Thekkady) 120 Km
Breakfast & Dinner Enjoy the breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Thekkady, which is famous for spice plantations and for the river Periyar. The river Periyar is the longest river in Kerala. This is the only perennial river in South India with clean water. The river occupies an important place in the history of Kerala. In the Sangam age Tamil epics such as Chilapathikaram, Akananuru, Purananuru etc much has been said about this mighty river, formerly known as the Choorni Nadi or Thamraparni Nadi (Sukasandesam stanza 66). A land route existed in the Sangam age from Mussuris (present-day Kodungalloor) to Madurai, which passed near the banks of the river Periyar. The capital of the old Chera Empire presumably existed on the banks of the river Periyar. It is believed that there was a flood in the 4th century AD that severely damaged the areas along the Periyar and the people living there had to escape to safer locations, abandoning their homes and livelihoods. The flood of AD 1341 resulted in the closing of Kodungalloor port and the opening of a new port at Kochi. The huge landslide that began in the high ranges as a result of the heavy downpours sent massive flows of mud and sand which created an Island at the Azhimugham of the Periyar which is now known as the Vyppin Islands. Reach and check in at the resort. In the evening watch the Kalarippayattu Dance Show. Overnight will be at Periyar (Thekkady).
Day 12: Periyar (Hiking Tour)
Breakfast & Dinner Breakfast will be at the resort. Today you will visit the rare species of plants and animals by taking a NATURE TREK into the Park and then a short walk. In the afternoon visit spice plantations like cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, tea estates etc. on your way back to the hotel, you could stop at the local market and pick up some fragrant spices. Visit Kumily market to buy the best spices available. Overnight will be at Thekkady.
Day 13: Periyar - Appelley (Houseboat) 135 Km
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Breakfast at hotel or resort. Drive to Alleppey. Is a small backwater village lying west of Kottayam. It is a part of Kuttanad, which is a “wonder land”, lying below sea level in the backwaters. Alleppey backwater is an unbelievably beautiful paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves. Afternoon embark in the traditional houseboat for a cruise in the backwaters & enjoy your meal (Lunch & Dinner). Our boat awaits and we begin a thrilling and colourful boat ride through the `backwaters` to Ambalaphuza, all sitting on the deck to see more! The term `backwaters` actually refers to the extensive network of rivers, lakes, canals and lagoons that lace the coastal plain interior coastline and stretch from Cochin almost down to Trivandrum. Small canoes, elderly sailboats, coconut-laden barges, tiny skiffs full of school children, Chinese-style Junks and thatch-covered country craft are common sights. Overnight will be at Houseboat.
Day 14: Houseboat – Cochin (Kochi) 60 Km
Breakfast & Dinner Enjoy the breakfast at the houseboat. Disembark from the houseboat at Alleppey Jetty and proceed to Cochin. The eventful history of this city began when a major flood in AD 1341 threw open the estuary at Kochi, till then a land locked region, turning it into one of the finest natural harbors in the world. Kochi thus became a haven for seafaring visitors from all over the world and became the first European town-ship in India when the Portuguese settled here in the 15th century. The Dutch wrested Fort Kochi from the Portuguese in AD 1663 and later in the last phase of the colonial saga, the British took over, the town in 1795. During 1660`s, Fort Kochi peaked in stature as a prime commercial centre and its fame spread far and wide - variously as a rich trade centre, a major military base, a vibrant cultural hub, a great ship building centre, a centre for Christianity and so on. Today, centuries later, the city is home to nearly thirteen communities. In the early evening proceed for a private harbor cruise. Enjoy watching the dolphins, the fishing island and the Bolghatty Palace. Cruise till the mouth of the sea and enjoy the sunset. Overnight will be at Cochin.
Day 15: Cochin(Kochi)
Breakfast & Dinner After breakfast, proceed for a sightseeing tour of FORT COCHIN. A few interesting sites included in the tour are the Chinese fishing nets along the Vasco Da Gama Square, Santa Cruz Basilica, St. Francis Church, VOC Gate, Bastion Bungalow, Jewish Synagogue, Mattancherry Palace, etc. Learn the operation of the interesting Chinese fishing nets erected on teak wood and bamboo poles which work on the principle of balance. Records say they were first set up here between AD 1350 and 1450. Vasco Da Gama Square, the narrow promenade that parallels the beach, is the best place to watch the nets being lowered and pulled out of the sea. Enjoy the KATHAKALI DANCE PRESENTATION in the evening. Overnight will be at Cochin.
Day 16: Cochin – Mumbai – Aurangabad
Breakfast & Dinner After an early breakfast, proceed to airport to board the flight for Mumbai and connecting flight to Aurangabad. The city of Aurangabad was founded in 1610, on the site of a village, Khirki by Malik Ambar - the Prime Minister of Murtaza Nizam Shah II. When Fateh Khan, Malik Ambar`s son turned successor in 1626, he gave the city the name `Fatehpur`. Later in 1653, when Prince Aurangzeb became Viceroy of the Deccan, he made the city his capital and called it Aurangabad. Aurangzeb added the walls that enclose the central part of the city in 1686 in order to withstand attacks from the Marathas. There are four principle gateways to the city - the Delhi Darwaza, the Jalna Darwaza, the Paithan Darwaza and the Mecca Darwaza. Nine secondary gateways also formed a part of the defensive system of this city. Aurangabad district has always been a prominent region on the Deccan plateau. Having been inhabited since the Stone Age, it has a long artistic and cultural history - to which several dynasties have made major contributions over the years. Maurya rule marked the arrival of Buddhism in Maharashtra. Aurangabad today is a bustling city of Maharashtra with diverse big and small industries, fine silken textiles, and exquisite hand woven brocades of silver and gold fabrics, Himroo of world frame. To scholars and lovers of art and culture the city is more familiar as the gateway to the ancient caves of Ajanta and Ellora, both famous as treasure houses of Indian Art and Sculpture. Arrive at Aurangabad and transfer to the hotel. Check in and relax. Overnight will be at Aurangabad.
Day 17: Ajanta Caves Excursion:
Breakfast & Dinner After breakfast commence full day excursion of Ajanta Caves. Ajanta caves: Nestling in an inner fold of the Sahyardi hills, 100 km from Aurangabad in the shape of a mammoth horse- shoe, are the 30 rock-hewn caves of Ajanta. The Caves date from the 2nd century BC. Discovered in 1819 by a group of British army officers, these startling achievements took around 600 years to create. Carved with little more than a hammer and chisel, Ajanta, once the retreat of Buddhist monastic orders features several `chaityas` (chapels) and `viharas` (monasteries). The exquisite wall and ceiling paintings, panels and sculptures of Buddha`s life are famous throughout the world as the earliest and finest examples of Buddhist pictorial art. Return to Aurangabad and visit the Daulatabad Fort. Overnight will be at Aurangabad.
Day 18: Ellora Excursion:
Breakfast & Dinner Breakfast will be at the hotel. Proceed for a visit to the Ellora Caves and Aurangabad Caves. Ellora Caves: Impressive in their own right is the rock-hewn temples and monasteries of Ellora that lie just 30 km away from Aurangabad city. In all, there are 34 cave temples, 12 Mahayana Buddhist caves (550-750 AD), 17 Hindu caves (600-875 AD) and 5 caves of the Jain faith (800-1000 AD) 22 more caves, dedicated to Lord Shiva, were recently discovered. Kailas Temple (cave16), the central attraction at Ellora, is the most remarkable. Chiselled by hand from a single massive rock, it includes a gateway, pavilion, courtyard, vestibule, sanctum, sanctorum and tower which bear testimony to the excellence of Dravidian art. It is believed to have taken 7000 laborers, working in continuous shifts and 150 years to build. Ever since the first European visitors in 18th Century, Ellora has attracted chroniclers, antiquarians, scholars and in more recent years, ever- increasing number of tourists. Aurangabad Caves: The almost forgotten caves of Aurangabad lie just outside the city. Excavated between the 2nd and 6th century AD, they reflect TANTRIC influences in their iconography and architectural designs. In all there are nine caves which are mainly viharas (monasteries). The most interesting among these are Caves 3 and 7. The former is supported on 12 highly ornate columns and has sculptures depicting scenes from the legendary “Jakata’s tales”. Cave 7 with its detailed figures of bejeweled women also has a dominating sculpture of a `Bodhisattva` praying for deliverance. Overnight will be at Aurangabad.
Day 19: Aurangabad – Mumbai (Flight)
Breakfast & Dinner Breakfast will be at hotel. Today morning take the flight to Mumbai. Reach and check into the hotel. Its young, its lively and a confluence of varied cultural currents and cross currents have given Mumbai a unique position of the most multi-ethnic city of India. The capital city of Maharashtra State formerly known as Bombay lies in the southwestern part of India and occupies a peninsular site originally composed of seven islets lying off the KONKAN COAST of western India. Oozing with the cocksure self-confidence of a maverick moneymaker and "Bindass" (carefree) attitude, Mumbai is also country`s financial and commercial hub and has a principal port on the Arabian Sea. Yet, there`s another face of Mumbai too that is of the most densely populated cities in the world. Mumbai is located on a site of ancient settlement and took its name from the local Goddess "Mumba" - a form of Parvati, the consort of Shiva, one of the principal Gods of Hinduism - whose temple once stood in what is now the southeastern section of the Mumbai city. Overnight will be at Mumbai.
Day 20: Mumbai & Dep. Transfer:
Breakfast & Farewell Dinner Breakfast will be at the hotel. Proceed for a half day tour of Mumbai. Mumbai Fort: The area north of Colaba is known as Mumbai Fort, since the old British fort was once located here. There are a lot of impressive buildings from Mumbai`s golden period here. St. John`s church, dedicated to the soldiers, who laid down their lives in the Sindh campaign of 1838, and the first Afghan war of 1843, is also worth a visit. Marine Drive in Mumbai: Marine Drive located in the central Mumbai, built in the 1920s and 30s on land reclaimed from the sea, is Mumbai`s most famous thoroughfare. It is also referred to as the Queen`s Necklace because of the dramatic line of street lamps lit up at night. Recently it has come to known as Netaji Subhashchandra Bose Road with Nariman Point on one end to Babulnath, at the foot of Walkeshwar on the other. Gateway of India: Mumbai`s principal landmark, the Gateway of India is a huge archway on the water`s edge at Apollo Bunder. It is the starting point for most tourists who want to explore the city. This famous monument was built to commemorate the visit of the first ever British Monarch, King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Flora Fountain/ Hutama Chowk: This fountain situated in the heart of the city was erected in 1869 in honour of a British Governor of Bombay. Sir Brtle Frere. Flora Fountain marks a junction of five streets and known as the `Picadilly Circus `of Mumbai, which is decorated at its four corners with mythological figures, the Fountain is a structure in dull stone with a figure the Roman Goddess of flowers, at the top. Hanging Gardens in Mumbai: Also known as Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens, the Hanging Gardens were built in 1880 and renovated in 1921. These gardens are popularly known as Hanging Gardens, because of their location on the slope of a hill. The terrace garden looks south from Malabar Hill towards Colaba, and affords a panoramic view of the city or a breathtaking sunset. It is built over three reservoirs, which store 30 million gallons of water pumped here for cleaning before being supplied to the town. Later proceed to local restaurant and enjoy the farewell dinner and provide the departure transfer, back home with sweet memories.