Ancient Caves, Architecture, Hill & Backwater
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Product Code : AGORA130
The Ancient Caves, Architecture, Hill & Backwater tour will begin in Mumbai, a city famous as the heart of the Bollywood film industry. Fly to Aurangabad and explore the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora. Fly to Hyderabad and visit Golconda Fort that was once the Qutb Shahi dynastic capital. Fly to Vidyanagar and begin the driving tour till Cochin exploring the architecture wonder of Hampi, Halebedu, Belur, Shravanabelagola & Mysore, the hills of Ooty & Munnar, the spice plantation of Thekkady and the backwater of Alleppey.
Day 1: Arrive Mumbai
On arrival at Mumbai airport assistance & transfer to hotel (Standard hotel check in time 12pm, early check in subject to room availability).
Mumbai 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. Rest time free for personal activities. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2: Mumbai
Breakfast at hotel. City tour of Mumbai. Drive via Marine Drive one of the most beautifully laid boulevards in the city to reach Gateway of India. Board a ferry from here to reach Elephanta Caves (Monday closed). A flight of 100 steps takes you to the top of the hill where caves are located. Afterwards cruise back to Gateway of India and then city tour. Drive pass CST & Parliament House. Visit Dhobhi Ghat to see the city famous open air laundry in action. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalay, a grade I Heritage Building of the city counted amongst one of the most prominent museums of India. The complex exhibits a myriad collection of ancient artefacts, artwork and sculptors of the country which give a unique insight into our past. Overnight at hotel.
Day 3: Mumbai - Aurangabad
Breakfast at hotel, transfer to airport to board flight for Aurangabad.
Arrival transfer to hotel. Later visit Bibi ka Maqbara built in 1678 is a sons loving tribute to his mother, Panchakki which discharged water on the wheel to power the flourmill and grind grain for the pilgrims & Aurangabad Caves artificial caves that were dug out of soft rock during the 6th & 7th century. Overnight at hotel.
Day 4: Aurangabad - Ajanja - Aurangabad (210kms round)
Breakfast at hotel, excursion to Ajanta (Monday closed). The Buddhist Caves of Ajanta were discovered by the British officers in 1819 while hunting tiger. Ajanta Caves were first mentioned in the writings of the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang who visited India between AD 629 and 645. The Caves at Ajanta are older than those at Ellora which date from about 200 BC to 650 AD. 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. Drive back to 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 BC. to 650 AD. There are 34 monasteries and temples at Ellora, belonging to the three different religions Buddhism, Hinduism & Jainism. Grishneshwar Temple one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana. On way back visit Daulatabad Fort one of the most powerful forts of the medieval Deccan.
Breakfast at hotel, transfer to airport to board flight for Hyderabad. Arrival transfer to hotel check in. Overnight at hotel.
Day 6: Hyderabad
Breakfast at hotel, city tour of Hyderabad, explore 400 year old metropolitan city teeming with bustling bazaars & Muslim monuments. Visit Golconda Fort renowned for its diamond mines that have given the world famous Kohinoor and Darya-i-noor diamonds. The ancient fort complex of Golconda will charm you with its history, tinged with legends and anecdotes. Qutub Shahi Tombs a group of small and big mosques and tombs built by the rulers of the Qutub Shah dynasty on a raised platform and have a dome-shaped structure. Charminar built in 1591 by Quli Qutub Shah is an identifying landmark of Hyderabad. It is also famous for the market that sprawls around it called Laad Bazaar. Salar Jung Museum (Friday closed) a treat for tourists famous for being the third largest museum in the country, having the largest antiques collection dating back to the first century. Chowmahalla Palace (Friday closed) the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty where the Nizams entertained their official guests and royal visitors. Birla Mandir made of pure white Rajasthani marble the temple beauty leaves you awestruck. Also drive pass Hussain Sagar Lake one of the largest man made lake renowned for its monolith of Lord Buddha placed right at the center of the lake. Overnight at hotel.
Day 7: Hyderabad - Vidyanagar/ Hampi
Breakfast at hotel. As per flight schedule transfer to airport to board flight for Vidyanagar.
On arrival assistance & transfer to hotel in Hampi check in. Rest time free and easy to relax. Overnight at hotel.
Day 8: Hampi
Breakfast at hotel. City tour of Hampi an UNESCO world Heritage sites dotted with numerous ruined temple complexes from the Vijayanagara Empire on the bank of the River Tungabhadra. Although the city was destroyed by marauding Moghul invaders in the 16th century, much of it remains today. The vast site of monuments and ruins are a mute witness to an ear of glories, triumphs and tragedies. The ruins of Hampi are so majestic and imposing that they leave the visitor totally dumbfounded, awestruck and humbled. Visit Hazara Rama Temple, Kings Balance, Mahanavami Dibba, Royal enclosures, Statue of Ugra Narasimha Temple, Virupaksha Temple, Vithala Temple Complex, Lotus Mahal & ASI Museum. Overnight at hotel.
Day 9: Hampi - Hassan (330km)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Hassan enroute visit Belur, once the capital of the Hoysala Empire is known for its exquisite temples. Celebrated temple of Chennakeshava built by the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 AD, is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture. Everything is carved in black stone looking like metal. Kappe Chennigaraya Temple is another majestic 12th CE temple built next to a pond. The stone architecture has splendid carvings and bas-relief work. Temple complex include two ornate pillars, one of the Garuda built during the Vijaynagar period and one with a lamp built during the Hoysala period. Lakshmi temple, Sowmyanayaki temple & Ranganayaki temple are other temple in same complex.
In Halebedu visit the Hoysaleswara Temple built in 12th CE surrounded by ponds, mantapas and lakes. It is well known for the sculptures and architecture of Hoysala period standing on platform like a casket, richly endowed with most finely detailed scroll work in stone. The walls of the temple are covered with an endless variety of gods and goddesses. Other temple in Halebedu are Kadareswara Temple, Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Ishvara Temple, Koravangala Temple, Lakshmi Devi temple & Hulikere Pond. Also visit the Jain bastics.
Continue drive to Hassan check in at hotel.
Day 10: Hassan - Mysore (140km)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Mysore via visiting Shravanabelagola one of the most important Jain pilgrim centers. Visit Vindhyagiri Hill where a 17m high naked Lord Bahubali (Gommateshwara) the world tallest monolithic statue, is placed. And Chandragiri Hill which is also a seat of several ancient Jain centers, much older than Gommateshwara statue. (30 minuts tough walk to reach the temple).
Arrive Mysore check in at hotel, later city tour visit Mysore Palace built in the 1912 for the 24th Ruler of the Wodeyar Dynasty and is counted amongst one of the biggest palaces in the country. Chamundi Hills, site of the Chamundeswari Temple, one among the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas located on the eastern edge at the height of 1000ft. The temple also has statues of Nandi Bull and Mahishasura the demon. City Palace which was re-built by Henry Irwin during 1897 in an indo-saracenic style. The palace contains astonishing wall paintings, authentic stained glass work and ornamented doors. St. Philomena`s Church the second tallest church of Asia built in Neo-Gothic style of architecture. Jaganmohan Palace that housed the royals before the construction of The Mysore palace, this structure displays various paintings of the past kings of Mysore and is one of the oldest buildings in the city.
Day 11: Mysore - Ooty (120km)
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Ooty check in at hotel. Ooty is all-seasons hill resort and the queen of hill stations at an elevation of 7216 ft above sea-level. Surrounded by trees, central Ooty Lake is a huge artificial expanse of water with beautiful boats. Enjoy the town and visit the well-maintained botanical gardens, which have over 1, 000 varieties of plants, shrubs and trees. Also take a ride on the famous Nilgiri Mountain Railway that winds its way down through spectacular scenery and breathtaking views to the nearby town of Coonoor. It was established in the early 19th century by the British now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 12: Ooty - Munnar (240kms)
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Munnar, check in at hotel. During the British rule in India, Munnar was the summer resort of the Government officials. The natural beauty, calmness and mild cold climate throughout the year make it the favorite tourist places. The tea estates, hills, lakes and forests inside Munnar range expose its beauty. Later tea estate visit and tea testing. Overnight at hotel.
Day 13: Munnar
Breakfast at hotel. Visit Pothamedu which offers an excellent view of the tea, coffee and cardamom plantations in Munnar. Mattupetty dam and its reservoir, a concrete gravity dam built between the hill ranges for water storage for hydroelectric projects. Rajamala a hill station in Eravikulam National Park a natural habitat of the Niligiri tahr 2695 Mts above sea level. Half the world`s population of the rare mountain goat or tahr which is fast becoming extinct, is now found here. Mattupedi Dairy Farm, famous for the Indo-Swiss Farm, a highly specialized dairy farm which comes under Indo-Swiss Livestock Project. Echo Point, go there and scream as loud as you can and wait for a minute to hear your echo back! Also visit Tea Museum to know more about the century old culture a lively glimpse of how the tea culture flourished across South India. Overnight at hotel.
Day 14: Munnar - Thekkady (110km)
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Thekkady via Ramakkalmedu one of the windiest places in Asia and being so, one can find here a wind farm generating electricity. Visit Frog Rock, Turtle Rock and the highest twin-statue in Kerala called Kuravan & Kurathi. Evening watch Kalaripayattu (Martial Arts for self-defense) & Kathakali Dance show performance.
Day 15: Thekkady
Breakfast at hotel. Visit Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary on a boat. 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 some fragrant spices. Overnight at hotel.
Day 16: Thekaddy - Alleppey (135km)
Breakfast at hotel, transfer to Alleppey boat jetty to board houseboat and sail 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. Pass through one of the few areas in the world where farming is done below sea level. Alleppey is referred as the Venice of the East, due to canals, backwaters, and lagoons. Boats are the main mode of transportation here, you can see Shikara boats, small motor boats, passenger boats, cargo boat, and 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 & driver. Overnight in houseboat.
Day 17: Alleppey - Cochin (60km)
After breakfast Disembark from the houseboat and drive to Cochin.
City tour of Cochin the lovely seaside city flanked by the Western Ghats on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. You will find here a unique mix and match of traditional as well Western architecture and lifestyle. Visit Fort Cochin a charming seaside area known for its Dutch, Portuguese & British colonial architecture and elaborate bamboo fishing nets at Fort Kochi Beach. St. Francis Church was the original burial site of explorer Vasco da Gama. Upscale eateries and chic cafes serve Keralan specialties, and quaint shops sell cotton clothing and handmade souvenirs. Heritage buildings house contemporary art galleries. Also visit Jewish Synagogue & the Mattancherry Dutch`s Palace. In the evening enjoy Kathakali, a traditional dance form of Kerala with lavish costumes, exotic makeup, masks etc.
Later as per flight schedule transfer to airport to board flight for onward destination (standard hotel check out time 11 AM)
Assistance on arrival at airport.
16 Nights' accommodation in selected price category hotels.
Daily breakfast at hotels. Any other meal (lunch/ dinner) if clearly mentioned in the itinerary).
Private air-conditioned deluxe car for airport transfer, sightseeing and excursion as per program.
English speaking tour guide on sightseeing days (local guide in each city), as per program.
Monument entrances and activities charges mentioned in the itinerary.
Bottled drinking water in car.
Hotels used or similar for 16 nights accommodation
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* - Keys Hotel The Aures/ Aurangabad Gymkhana Club
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
Hampi x 2 nights
3* - Krishna Palace/ Kishkinda Heritage Resort
4* - Heritage Resort / Royal Orchid Central Keerti
5* - Hyatt Place/ Hampi Boulders
Hassan x 1 night
3* - Candy Southern Star/ Pavanputra Resort & Spa
4* & 5* - Hosyala Village Resort/ The Ashok
Mysore x 1 night
3* - Southern Star/Sandesh The Prince
4* - Fortune Park JP Palace/ Grand Mercure
5* - Royal Orchid Brindavan Garden/The Windflower Resort & Spa
Ooty x 1 nights
3* - Monarch Hotel/ Hotel Darshan
4* - Fortune Resort Sullivan Court/ Sinclairs Retreat
5* - Savoy - IHCL SeleQtions
Munnar x 2 nights
3* - Fort Munnar/ Abad Copper Castle
4* - Nature Zone Jungle Resort/ Fragrant Nature Munnar
5* - Chandys Windy Woods/ Tea County
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
Mumbai - Aurangabad - Hyderabad - Vidyanagar flight fare approx INR 15,500 per person in economy class.
Camera charges at monuments.
Meals other than mentioned in day plan.
Expenses of personal nature like liquor, laundry, tips, telephone, fax, internet etc.
Gratuities & optional activities.
Anything not mentioned in inclusions.