Ancient Caves with Temple & Backwater
Package price On Request
Product Code : AGORA129
On this 16 days Ancient Caves with Temple & Backwater 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: 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. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2: Mumbai
Breakfast at hotel, morning excursion to 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.
Later city of Mumbai, drive pass Marine Drive one of the most beautifully laid boulevards in the city, CST & Parliament House. Visit The Gateway of India an arch-monument built to commemorate the landing of King-Emperor George V & Queen-Empress Mary in December 1911 at Apollo Bunder. 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. Kala Ghoda Art Precinct area that stretches from the Regal Circle at the Southern end of Mahatma Gandhi Road, up to the Mumbai University at the northern end, flanked by the Oval Maidan to the west and the Lion Gate to the east. Its curious name, meaning Black Horse, can be traced back to a bronze equestrian statue of King Edward VII that existed there during the colonial era. Dhobhi Ghat to see the city famous open air laundry in action. Overnight at hotel.
Day 3: Mumbai - Aurangabad (flight)
Breakfast at hotel. As per flight schedule 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. 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.
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 - Chennai (flight)
Breakfast at hotel, transfer to airport to board flight for Chennai. Arrival transfer to hotel check.
Later city tour visit Fort St. George & St Mary`s Church inside the fort built by the British East India Company in 1640 AD. Kapaleeshwarar Temple a holy shrine of Lord Shiva originally built by the mighty Pallavas and rebuilt in 16th century by the Vijayanagar kings. Vadapalani Murugan Temple one of the most frequented places of worship for Hindus in Chennai. Government Museum built in the Indo-Sarcenic style it houses a rich collection of works of Raja Ravi Varma. Santhome Cathedral a historical and ancient pilgrim centre, which was built during the 14th to the 15th century AD by the then reigning Portuguese. Drive Pass Marina Beach a 13kms long natural urban beach along the Bay of Bengal. Overnight at hotel.
Day 8: Chennai - Kanchipuram - Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry (235kms)
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Pondicherry via visiting Kanchipuram an ancient city famous as city of thousands temple.
In Kanchipuam visit Kailasanathar temple 8th century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Ekambareswarar temple an ancient temple dedicated to Siva, 2500 year old mango tree inside the temple has 4 branches each yields different varieties of mangoes. Varadharaja temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Vaikundhaperumal temple dedicated to lord Vishnu & Kamakshiamman temple the ultimate form of Goddess Parvati.
Further drive to visit Mahabalipuram, UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In Mahabalipuram visit Monolithic Temples Five Rathas an excellent examples of the evolution of Dravidian style architecture. Krishnas Butterball a gigantic granite boulder resting on a short incline. 7th century Cave Temples cut and decorated with panels in the Mamalla style. Shore Temple built with blocks of granite 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 Arjuna`s Penance an enormous rock-cut relief, one of the largest in the whole world.
Continue drive to Pondicherry check in at hotel. Rest time to relax on the beach. Overnight at hotel.
Day 9: Pondicherry
Breakfast at hotel. Visit Aurovil an experimental community 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. Pondicherry Museum it houses a fantastic collection of bronze sculptures of god and goddess, a wide gathering of temple lamps, handicrafts and art. Drive pass or walk through stunning French Quarters, charming mustard streets, colonial villas and vibrant Tamil settlements. Besides a very picturesque view of the lovely alleys and narrow lanes, you can also marvel at the gorgeous architecture of the French colonial settlements which include French consulate, Raj Nivas, Government Square, Churches & French schools.
Evening to relax on the beach. Overnight at hotel.
Day 10: Pondicherry - Chidambaram - Gangai Konda Cholapuram - Darasuram - Thanjavur (185km)
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Thanjavur via visiting Nataraja Temple dedicated to the dancing posture of Lord Shiva at Chidambaram. Constructed during the 10th century when Chidambaram used to be the capital of the Chola dynasty, the architecture of temple represents the link between arts and spirituality.
Also visit The Great Living Chola Temples at Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple built in Tamil style of architecture with a square plan. The temple complex includes Nandi Mandapa, Alankar Mandapa, Maha Mandapa, Mukha Mandapa and Ardha Mandapa. And Darasuram a storehouse of art and architecture with 85 feet high vimana. The front mandapam itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses. The temple has some exquisite stone carvings. The main deitys consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is situated adjacent to Airavateshwarar temple.
Arrive Thanjavur check in & overnight at hotel. Arrive Thanjavur check in & Overnight at hotel.
Day 11: Thanjavur - Trichy (60km)
Breakfast at hotel. Visit Brihadeshwara Temple, built in the 10th century it is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed in UNESCO world heritage site. The shrine is a 216 feet structure, the sanctum is dotted with paintings from the Chola and Nayak periods and the statue of Nandi the Bull welcomes at the entrance. Vijayanagar Fort built by Nayaks and partly by Maratha rulers during the early 1550 AD. Thanjavur Art Gallery, located in the Thanjavur Palace has an exquisite collection of ancient sculptures and coins. Saraswathi Mahal Library another section of the Palace where over 30, 000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts are preserved.
Drive to Trichy check in at hotel. Later visit Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple the largest functional temple in the world. The temple complex along with the surrounding area covers a total area of 156 acres, 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. Rock Fort Temple the 83m high Rock Fort is the only outcrop in the flat land of the city. The rock is one of the oldest in the world-approximately 3800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Greenland and older than the Himalayas.
Also visit Jambukeswarar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, it houses five concentric walls, and seven gopurams. Overnight at hotel.
Day 12: Trichy - Madurai (135km)
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Madurai check in at hotel.
Later visit Meenakshi Temple one of the largest temple complexes in India built between the 16th to 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. Thirumalai Nayakar Palace built in 1636 AD by King Thirumalai Nayak, the palace depicts the perfect blend of Dravidian and Rajput styles.
Also visit Alagar Koil, Tiruparankundram Murugan Temple & Palamuthirsolai Murugan Temple. Overnight at hotel.
Day 13: Madurai - Thekkady (160km)
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. Overnight at hotel.
Day 14: Thekkady
Breakfast at hotel. Explore 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 15: 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. Lunch, dinner & overnight in houseboat.
Day 16: 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.
Later as per flight schedule transfer to airport to board flight for onward destination.
Assistance on arrival at airport.
15 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
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
Mumbai - Aurangabad - Hyderabad - Chennai 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.