Ancient Caves with Temple & Backwater
Package price 2480 per person sharing twin
Product Code : AGORA129
On this 16 days tour explore the Ancient Caves of Ajanta & Ellora, visit the marvelous Temple of South India, and rejuvenate in the Backwater of Kerala. You will also visit Hyderabad the city blessed with extraordinary wealth of historic monuments. All airport transfers, sightseeing and excursion will be provide in an air conditioned vehicle, with private government licences local tour guide in each city. You will travel in flight on Mumbai - Aurangabad - Hyderabad - Chennai sectors.
Day 1: Mumbai
On arrival at Mumbai airport meet with our office executive assistance and transfer to hotel (hotels check in time 1200hr afternoon, early check in subject to rooms availability).
Rest time free for personal activities relax. Mumbai is a city that is disciplined by no time frame neither day nor night. Dazzling shopping arcades, exciting sport activity, nightclubs, discotheques, theatre, music & gourmet restaurants offers visitors a heady mix of all this and more. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2: Mumbai
Breakfast at hotel, transfer to Gateway on India. From here cruise by motorboats to Elephanta Caves (Monday closed). A flight of 100 steps takes you to the top of the hill. These caves house rock cut temples dating back to the 5th century BC.
Afterwards in the afternoon cruise back to Gateway of India and then city tour drive thrught Marine Drive one of the most beautifully laid boulevards in the city. Parliament House the Maharashtra State Assembly (view from outside), Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly Victoria Terminus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (view from outside). Visit Dhobhi Ghat the city's famous open-air laundry in action, Prince of Wales Museum (Monday closed) a heritage museum comprises of a number of ancient artifacts. Mani Bhawan a Museum, Gandhi laid the foundation for many independence movements from here. Mount Mary Church, an ancient church, built in 1640 and then rebuilt in 1761, The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount an important religious place in Mumbai.
In the evening, visit Iskcon Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, The architectural splendour of the ISKCON Temple is adorned with murals and sculptures. If time permits visit to Bandra and Juhu area where bollywood celebrity houses are located like Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan etc. (can be seen from outside). Overnight at hotel.
Day 3: Mumbai - Aurangabad (flight)
Breakfast at hotel. As per flight schedule transfer to airport to board flight for Aurangabad.
On arrival at Aurangabad airport assistance and transfer to hotel.
Later city tour of Aurangabad visit Bibi ka Maqbara Built by Azam Shah in 1678, the Bibi ka Maqbara is a son's loving tribute to his mother. Due to its similar design standing spectacularly on the lawns of the landscaped garden with ponds, fountains and water channels, the white marbled monument is popularly known as the mini Taj of the Deccan. Aurangabad Caves situated at a distance of 5 km, nestled amidst the hills are 12 Buddhist caves dating back to 3 A.D. Of particular interest are the Tantric influences evident in the iconography and architectural designs of the caves Also visit a small archaeological museum. Overnight at hotel.
Day 4: Aurangabad - Ajanta - Aurangabad (104kms/ 2hrs approx one way)
Breakfast at hotel. Full day excursion to Ajanta Caves (Monday closed). The Buddhist Caves of Ajanta were discovered by the British officers in 1819 while tiger hunting. Ajanta Caves were first mentioned in the writings of the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang who visited India between A.D 629 and 645. The Caves at Ajanta are older than those at Ellora , which date from about 200 B.C to 650 A.D. Thirty beautiful Buddhist Caves with mesmerizing sculptures and paintings depicting Buddha's life as well the lives of the Buddha in his previous births. Five of these Caves are Chaityas (Place of worship) while the other twenty-five are Viharas (monasteries). Ajanta Caves are divided in two categories based on two schools of Buddhist thought - Hinayana Caves and Mahayana Caves.
Evening back to hotel in Aurangabad for overnight stay.
Day 5: Aurangabad - Hyderabad (flight)
Breakfast at hotel. Excursion to visit the Ellora Caves (Tuesday closed), a UNESCO World Heritage Site from about 200 B.C. to 650 A.D. There are a total of 34 monasteries and temples at Ellora, belonging to the three different religions, namely - Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.
Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana. The temple is an important pilgrimage site in Shaivism tradition of Hinduism, which considers it as the last or twelfth Jyotirlinga (linga of light).
On way back visit Daulatabad Fort one of the most powerful forts of the medieval Deccan. The defence system that made Daulatabad virtually impregnable comprises fortifications with double and even triple rows of massive walls.
Later transfer to airport to board flight for Hyderabad.
On arrival at Hyderabad airport meet with our office executive assistance and transfer to hotel (hotels check in time 1200hr afternoon, early check in subject to rooms availability). Rest time free for personal activities relax. Overnight at hotel.
Day 6: Hyderabad
Breakfast at hotel, explore this wondrous capital, a 400 year-old metropolitan city teeming with bustling-bazaars and Muslim monuments.
Visit Golconda Fort - renowned for its diamond mines that have given the world the famous Kohinoor and Darya-i-noor diamonds. The ancient fort complex of Golconda will charm you with its history, tinged with legends and anecdotes. Qutubshahi Tombs - the tombs differ in size but all are comparable to each other in architectural grandeur and beauty. Charminar - built in 1591 by Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah, the fifth sultan of the Qutub Shahi dynasty of India. The Mecca Mosque - the biggest mosque in Hyderabad and lies 100 yards south-west of Charminar.
Chowmohalla Palace (Friday closed) - once regarded as the center of Hyderabad, the magnificent Chowmahalla Palace was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty where the Nizams entertained their official guests and royal visitors. Salarjung Museum (Friday closed) -famous for being the third - largest museum in the country, the museum boasts of having the largest antiques collection. Artefacts dating back to the first century.
Birla Mandir - dedicated to the supreme incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Lord Venkateshwara. This temple’s marvellous beauty leaves you awestruck as does the legend associated with the God. Hussain Sagar Lake - one of the largest man made lake situated at the confluence of Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Begumpet. It is a sprawling artificial lake that holds water perennially. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it connects the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Overnight at hotel.
Day 7: Hyderabad - Chennai (flight)
Breakfast at hotel. As per flight schedule transfer to airport to board flight for Chennai.
On arrival at Chennai airport meet with our office executive assistance and transfer to hotel.
Later city tour of Chennai. Visit Fort St. George & Museum - Fort St. George is located on the banks of Bay of Bengal. It was built by the British East India Company in 1640 AD. The fort is believed to be the first establishment of the British in India. Dakshina Chitra - a living-history museum, dedicated to South Indian heritage and culture. Arulmigu Sri Parthasarathy Temple - an 8th-century Hindu Vaishnavite temple dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. Evening to walk on Marina beach. Overnight at hotel.
Day 8: Chennai - Kanchipuram - Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry (235kms/ 5hrs approx)
Breakfast at hotel drive to Pondicherry via visiting Kanchipuram & Mahabalipuram.
Visit Kailasanathar temple - 8th century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are 58 small shrines situated around the main shrine as compound wall. Ekambareswarar temple - another ancient temple of the city dedicated to Siva. The 2500-year-old mango tree inside the temple has 4 branches each yields different varieties of mangoes. Varadharaja temple - dedicated to Lord Vishnu, noted for its wonderful sculptures. This is one of the 108 sacred Shri Vaishnavite temples. Vaikundhaperumal temple - dedicated to lord Vishnu, it is also one of the 108 Divyadesams. Kamakshiamman temple - dedicated to Goddess Kamakshi the presiding deity, one of the holy Sakthi worship places in India. It is closely associated with Sri Adi Sankaracharya.
Optionaly visit Handloom industry - famous for handloom Silk Sarees the main profession of people in Kanchipuram.
Continue drive to Mahabalipuram and visit visit Monolithic Temples - locally known as Rathas. They were executed by chiseling out the exterior face of the boulder. The five rathas in one place, Ganesha Ratha, Valayankuttai Ratha & Pidari Rathas.
Cave Temples - cut and decorated with panels in the Mamalla style of the Pallava period in the 7th century. Remnants seen in the caves also indicate that they were plastered and painted when built. Many of the caves of the Pallava period have remained incomplete. Krishna's Butterball - a gigantic granite boulder resting on a short incline. Shore Temple - built with blocks of granitein in 7th century during the rule of King Narsimha-Varman II Rajasimha the temple complex consisting of two Siva temples and a carving of Anantasayana Vishnu. The temple facing east is entered by a small gopura. It is one of the oldest structural stone temples of South India. As one of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984.
Continue drive to Pondicherry check in at hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Day 9: Pondicherry
Breakfast at hotel visit Aurovil - an experimental community in southern India. It was founded in 1968 by the spiritual leader Mirra Alfassa as a town where people from all over the world could live in harmony. Its focal point is the Matrimandir, a futuristic, spherical temple covered in gold discs. Auroville Botanical Gardens protects the region’s tropical dry evergreen forest. Auroville Beach is a long sandy stretch with gentle surf. Sri Aurobindo - established in 1926 by Shree Aurobindo and 'The Mother'. Together they explored the possibilities of yoga and meditation as a path to salvation.
Pondicherry Museum - an art and history museum especially noted for its collection of fine lost wax bronzes form the period of the Chola Empire. The Museum's collection includes 81 Chola bronze sculptures, ranking as one of the largest collections of Chola bronzes.
French Colony - Pondicherry has some of the finest examples of old French culture with a hint of Tamil influence in its visual aesthetics. In this tour, you will catch sight of some of the unique and old infrastructures. Observe and get inspired by the architectural beauty of the French part of the town while enjoying a cup of coffee and some deserts along the way. As part of the package, customise your walk with your guide to cover the visit of French consulate, French Institute, Raj Nivas, Bharati Park (Aayi Monument), Government Square, Beaches, Monuments, Churches, French schools.
Evening to relax on the beach. Overnight at hotel.
Day 10: Pondicherry - Chidambaram - Gangai Konda Cholapuram - Darasuram - Thanjore (185kms/ 4hrs approx)
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Thanjore. Enroute visit Chidambaram Nataraja Temple which is dedicated to the Nataraja or the dancing posture of Lord Shiva. This temple is located in the heart of the town and has undergone numerous renovations under the reign of Chola and Pallava kings. In 1213 AD, Aragalur Udaya Iraratevan Ponparappinan rebuilt some of the parts of this temple. The Nataraja Temple is known for its attractive gopurams, carvings, five mandapams and inscriptions. Built during the 10th century by Chola Kings, this temple is known for huge walls, four tall shikharas in four directions and a big Sivagangai tank. The four tall shikharas are decorated with 108 carved dance postures of Natya Shastra.
Further drive & visit Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple - built in Tamil style of architecture with a square plan. The original courtyard is two squares stacked next to each other, all mandapas, the upapitham, the shrine plans, the garbha griha (sanctum) and the tower elements are all square shaped and incorporate circles and principles of geometric symmetry. The structural elements resemble the big Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur. Both include a courtyard entered through multiple gateways and relatively small gopuram (tower). There is an image of a seated Nandi bull in the courtyard, aligned axially 200 m (660 ft) facing the sanctum. There are five shrines around the sanctum and a Lion well, which was added during the 19th century. The temple site has a monolithic representation of Navagrahas, the nine planetary deities.
Continue drive & visit Darasuram Temple - a storehouse of art and architecture. The vimana is 85 feet high. The front mandapam itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses. The temple has some exquisite stone carvings. The main deity's consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is situated adjacent to Airavateshwarar temple.
Continue drive to Thanjore check in at hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Day 11: Thanjore - Trichy (60kms/ 1.5hrs approx)
Breakfast at hotel. Visit Brihadeshwara Temple & Fort - built by great Chola king in the 10th century. It is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed in UNESCO world heritage site. On the top of the apex of 63 metres high dome is said to be constructed from a single piece of granite, weighing an estimated 81 tones.
Thanjavur Palace & Museum - the palace near the temple is a vast building of masonry built by the Nayakas around 1550 and partly by the Maratha. The palace houses an art gallery, a library and a hall of music. The art gallery occupies the Nayak Durbar Hall. It has a superb collection of Chola bronze statues from the 9th to 12th centuries. The Saraswati mahal Library is next door to the gallery. Art Gallery - in the Palace there are a number of granite and bronze statues of the Chola period. Saraswathi Mahal Library - another section of the Palace is the library where over 30,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts in India and European languages are preserved.
After sightseeing drive to Trichy check in at hotel. Later visit Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. There are 22 gopurams including India’s tallest (72 meters, 13 storey high). Many people have had a hand in its construction, including the Cheras, Pandyas, Cholas, Hoysalas and rulers from Vijayanagar. Ivory sculptures of Lord Vishnu in various poses and the images of Nayak Kings with consorts donated by Nayak kings who ruled Madurai during the 17th century are available here.
Rock Fort Temple: The 83m high Rock Fort is the only outcrop in the otherwise flat land of the city. The rock is one of the oldest in the world-approximately 3.800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Greenland and older than the Himalayas. At the top of the rock is the Uchipillaiyar Koil, a temple dedicated to Lord Vinayaka from where one can enjoy a panoramic view of Tiruchirappalli. A flight of steps leads to the Mathrubutheswarar of Thayumanaswami temple, dedicated to Lord Siva where the lingam is a projection of the rock itself. Below the Siva temple are the two Pallava cave temples that have beautiful sculptures of the 6th and 7th centuries. At the foot of the Rock Fort are a tank and a pavilion which are used during the float festival of the temples. The Rock fort Hillock is said to be 230 crore years old. The materials like Quartz used in glass making and felspar used in ceramic are found in this Rock formation.
Tiruvanaikkaval - the Jambukeshwara temple, here is dedicated to Shiva, and it houses five concentric walls, and seven gopurams. Once an elephant worshipped Lord Shiva under the holy Jambu tree and hence the name Jambukeshwar. Overnight at hotel.
Day 12: Trichy - Madurai (140kms/ 3hrs approx)
Breakfast at hotel drive to Madurai heck in at hotel. Later city tour visit the Meenakshi Sundareshwar - one of the largest temple complexes in India built between the 16th and 18th centuries. Apart from the estimated 33 million sculptures there, the temple is absolutely absorbing with the endless rounds of ceremonies, prostration of countless devotees and glittering market stalls. Later visit Tiruparankundram Murugan Temple, Palamuthirsolai Murugan Temple. Also visit the Tirumal Nayak’s Palace; a highly decorative monument. Its enormous roofed arcade supported by 48 – foot high stone pillar, still stands. In the evening visit the famous Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple to attend the Aarti (Prayers) witnessing interesting rituals and ceremonies. Overnight at hotel.
Day 13: Madurai - Periyar (Thekkady) (160kms/ 3hrs approx)
Breakfast at hotel drive to Periyar check in at hotel. Afterwards take a spice plantation tour to see crops of cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, tea estates etc. You could stop at the local market and pick up some fragrant spices. Rest time free and easy to relax. Overnight at hotel.
Day 14: Periyar (Thekkady)
Breakfast at hotel. Visit the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary on a boat. Nestled between the Cheruthoni and Periyar rivers Wildlife Sanctuary is blessed with the most diverse flora and fauna. The sanctuary has a gorgeous lake that is perfect for romantic boat rides. The tropical evergreen and deciduous forests teeming with elephants, bison, sambar deer, wild dogs, jungle cats, tiger and wild boar along with various species of snake including cobras, vipers, kraits and many non-poisonous snakes is a wildlife lover’s dream. A variety of birds such as grey jungle fowl, Malabar grey hornbill, woodpeckers and bulbuls also have found a home in this sanctuary.
Afterwards take a spice plantation tour to see crops of cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, tea estates etc. You could stop at the local market and pick up some fragrant spices. Overnight at hotel.
Day 15: Thekaddy – Alleppey (135kms/ 3hrs approx)
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Alleppey transfer to boat jetty to board houseboat and sail to Alleppey through the tropical countryside enchanting backwaters. While sailing enjoy palm fringed narrow canals winding through the vast expanse of paddy fields and the neat tiny hamlets lined up along either side of the canals, the panoramic sights one can never forget. The Chinese fishing nets the reminiscent of our past trade links are also found on the way. Flocks of duck swimming around the banks and tiny birds flying across the sky remains as enduring pictures reflecting the charm of this tourist land, you also enjoy fishing from the houseboats, evening enjoy sunset from the sun-deck of the houseboats. The Houseboats have generated electricity, sitting cum dining area, separate bedroom with attached English toilets, sun deck and fully loaded kitchen with a Chef, and Driver. Lunch, Dinner and overnight in houseboat.
Day 16: Alleppey – Cochin (60kms/ 1.5hrs approx)
After breakfast disembark from houseboat and drive to Cochin.
City tour of Cochin - one of few places in India that has managed to preserve the remnants of its colonial past with utmost care. Visit Fort Cochin famous for Chinese fishing nets, scenic beaches and architectural style of ancient buildings. At St. Frances Church see the town of Vasco da Gama. The Jewish Synagogue, built in 1568 in the old part of Mattancherry Town, one of the oldest lively synagogues. Mattancherry "Dutch" Palace which has an incomparable collection of huge Kerala Temple murals, exhibits & portraits. You may also visit the famous Hill Palace Museum, the largest archaeological and heritage museum in Kerala. Bolgatty Palace the oldest living Dutch palaces outside Holland, now converted into a heritage hotel. Willingdon Island a man-made island created in 1933 with wonderful walkways and jetty’s.
Later in evening/ night board flight for onward destination.
Garland welcome and assistance of our office representative at airport
15 Nights accommodation in selected price category hotels.
Daily breakfast at hotel.
Accommodation in Alleppey Houseboat includes all meals.
Bottled drinking water in car
Private English speaking guide in each cities on sightseeing days.
Private chauffer driven air-conditioned deluxe car for airport transfers, sightseeing & excursion as per program.
01 Time monument entrance & activites charges mentioned in the itinerary.
Kathakali dance show ticket.
Boat safari on Pariyar River in Thekkady.
Hotels used or similar
Mumbai x 2 nights
3* - Hotel Suba Palace/ BW Hotel Sahil
4* - Sun-N-Sand Hotel/ Fariyas Hotel
5* - Trident Hotel/ ITC Grand Central
Aurangabad x 2 nights
3* - 7 Apple Hotel Aurangabad / Ginger Aurangabad
4* - Ambassador Ajanta / VITS Hotel
5* - WelcomHotel Rama International / Lemon Tree Hotel
Hyderabad x 2 nights
3* - Aditya Park/ Lemon Tree Hotel
4* - Lemon Tree Hotel/ Fortune Park Vallabha
5* - ITC Kakatiya, a Luxury Collection/ Trident Hotel
Chennai x 1 night
3* - Raj Park/ MGM East Woods
4* - The Raintree/ Accord Metropolitan
5* - ITC Grand Chola/ The Leela Palace
Pondicherry x 2 night
3* - Shenbaga Hotel/ Annamalai International
4* - Le Pondy/ The Windflower Resort & Spa
5* - Palais De Mahe/ La Villa
Thanjore x 1 night
3* - Grand Gardenia/ Oriental Towers
4* - Le Pondy/ The Windflower Resort & Spa
5* - Svatma
Trichy x 1 night
3* - Red Fox Hotel/ Grand Gardenia
4* & 5* - Sangam Hotels/ Ideal River View Resort
Madurai x 1 night
3* - Astoria by Sparsa/ Madurai’s Residency
4* - GRT Regency/ Fortune Pandiyan Hotel
5* - Heritage Madurai/ The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai
Pariyar (Thekkady) x 2 night
3* - Abad Green Forest/ Hotel Treetop
4* - The Elephant Court/ Cardamom County
5* - Spice village/ Cardamom County
Alleppey x 1 night
3* - ATDC Houseboat/ Dream Boats
4* - ATDC Houseboat/ Dream Boats
5* - Xandari Riverscapes/ Lakes & Lagoons/ Spice Route Premium
Any air fare
Camera charges at monuments
Main Meals, Lunch or dinner unless mentioned
Expenses of personal nature like liquor, laundry, tips, telephone, fax, internet etc.
Or anything not mentioned above.