South India with Western India Caves: 22 Days

Begin your tour from the “City of Gardens” Bangalore or Bengaluru , a city blessed with a salubrious climate, beautiful gardens and natural lakes. A major commercial hub in India, the city is home to several industries, IT being one of them. Visit the many attractions, impressive buildings and beautiful parks in the city like Lal Bagh, Bangalore Palace, Cubbon Park and Tipu Sultan's Palace.

Head to Mysore, a city replete with royalty and regalia. Visit the magnificent Mysore Palace, an exquisite example of the Dravidian architecture before moving further to Chennai, South India’s commercial and cultural capital and the fourth largest metropolis in India. With an enthralling past, it is a window to the culture and art forms of south India.

If peace and a break is the most sought after, then Pondicherry is surely one of the choicest holiday destinations in South India. The town offers a unique experience with its mix of modern heritage and spiritual culture. Pondicherry is a curious and charming confluence of French colonial vibe with a bohemian-chic air about it with some typical South Indian flavors to it.

Your next three stops on this temple tour Trichy, Madurai and Rameswaram are important pilgrimage sites with beautiful and exquisitely carved temples exemplifying the brilliance of Dravidian architecture.

Drive through tropical evergreen and deciduous forests to arrive at Thekkady to the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The best way to see the reserve is by taking a boat cruise on the Periyar Lake to do some bird spotting and perhaps catch a glimpse of the elusive tiger!

A short drive takes you to Kumarakom –the awe-inspiring backwater town of Kerala. Enjoy the picture perfect coconut –fringed Kerala backwaters aboard a luxurious houseboat as you sail through narrow canals abundant with aquatic life and animals such as the otters, turtles and beautiful migratory birds. Unwind and relax as you admire your picturesque surroundings and watch the water gently slinking past as you sip cardamom tea from the deck.

Mumbai -the bustling multi-ethnic metropolis is the starting point of this sojourn .A port city which can overwhelm you with its contrasts and paradoxes of wealth and poverty, but will surely charm you with its youthful and carefree vibe, fast paced rhythm and indomitable spirit. Your expert guides take you on a whirlwind tour of this city to witness a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and smells. Highlights of the tour include a visit to Gateway of India, Mumbai Fort and the Elephanta caves to see exquisite carvings and sculptures.

Head towards Aurangabad the industrial city and get a feel of the real India. To the lovers of art and sculpture this city is the gateway to the famous UNESCO world Heritage sites, the Ajanta and Ellora Caves, the finest example of early Buddhist civilization.

A 22 day exhilarating tour which offers a perfect balance of sightseeing ,as well as quiet and relaxation with flexibility and comfort.



Day 01 : Arrival at Bengaluru

COMPASS REPRESENTATIVE will receive you on arrival at the airport and transfer to the hotel.

Legend goes that King Veeraballa of Vijayanagara once lost his way in forest. Hungry and tired, he came upon a lone hut in the thick forest where he met an old woman. When he asked for food, she gave him baked beans ('Benda Kalu' in Karnataka).The King found this humble meal taste better than his royal kitchen menu. To commemorate this incident, he called the place "Benda Kalu Ooru" (place of baked beans).

Capital of the Southern state of Karnataka, Bangalore 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.

Bangalore offers something for everyone-music and dance concerts (Western and Indian), dramas, exhibitions, carnivals, conferences and more.

Overnight will be at Bangalore.

Day 02 : Bengaluru

Breakfast will be at the hotel. Enjoy full day city sightseeing.

Vidhana Soubha: This splendid neo-Dravidian granite building that dominates the northern boundary of the Cubbon Park is the home of the State Legislature and the Secretariat. The massive sandalwood door of the Cabinet room is a spectacular feature of this imposing building. The Vidhana Soudha is bedecked in illuminated glory during special periods and is a sight worth viewing.

Lal Bagh: Hyder Ali laid out this famous botanical garden and his son added horticultural wealth to them by importing plants and trees from several countries. The garden today houses over 1000 species of flora which include rare and enchanting collection of tropical plants, trees and herbs. The Glass House, modeled along London’s CRYSTAL PALACE, is the center of attraction in this 2400 acre park. Bi-annual flower shows attracting participants from all over India is held in the Glass House. In July, 2003 it was decided that the Department of Horticulture and Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) would jointly take up the development of Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens.

Tipu’s Palace & Fort: The Bangalore Fort was built by Kempe Gowda and expanded by Tipu Sultan. Within its walls is the well preserved 16th century Ganapathi Temple. A Wodeyar king built the Bangalore Palace in 1887. Inspired by the Windsor castle, this palace was built in the Tudor style, complete with Gothic windows, the foiled windows, battlements and turrets resembling the Daria Daulat Palace in Srirangapatanam, this summer palace has been constructed largely of wood and is famous for it's carving and paintings.

Government Museum: One of the important buildings, the Government Museum is one of the oldest in India (1886). The special attractions here are the antiquities from MOHENJODARO period. Situated nearby the museum is the VISVESWARAVA INDUSTRIAL & TECHNOLOGICAL MUSEUM named after the great engineer - statesman.

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.

Near the Museum is the K.Venkatappa Art Gallery which has a permanent exhibition of the works of the great artist, K. Venkatappa. The Gallery does much to encourage art in the state.

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: Established by a French missionary Abbe Dubois in 1811, St.Mary's church is the only church in Karnataka state to be elevated to the status of a minor Basilica. Every September, The Virgin Mary's festival is celebrated with a procession that attracts people of all faiths. The church is situated near the Shivaji Nagar Bus Terminal.

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 : Bengaluru – Mysore by Road

Breakfast will be at the hotel. Drive to Mysore visiting Srirangapatnam enroute.

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. The word Mysore expands to "Mahishasurana Ooru" which means the town of Mahishasura. The story goes that the demon Mahishasura was killed by goddess Chamundeshwari atop the Chamundi hill near Mysore, and hence the name. Ever since, the Mysore royal family has worshipped Chamundeshwari as the palace deity. Hills dedicated to her stand at the eastern end of Mysore town today.

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 base and has two well-known incense factories - the Aravinda Parimala and the Vasu and Cycle brand (together these two account for 70% of the incense stick export from India). 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.

Within the town are several places of interest. The grand palace with its four arched entrances stands at the centre of the town. Liberally covered with golden domes and home to the most expensive royal chair (Simhasana), made of gold and studded with diamond and precious stones, this palace rivals the best in the world. During weekends the whole palace is lit with thousands of lights, a great sight. Saint Philomina's church is a fine cathedral dating back to the 18th century. The Venkatappa art gallery has inspired many an artist and conducts courses in traditional painting, drawing and woodwork. It is also the birth-place for the Mysore wooden toys, which are exported worldwide. Overnight will be at Mysore.

Day 04 : Mysore

Enjoy the breakfast at the hotel. Proceed for the sightseeing of Mysore.

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. The majestic Durbar Hall has an ornate ceiling and many sculpted pillars. The magnificent jewel studded golden throne of the Wodeyars is displayed here during the Dasera festival. Illuminated on Sundays and public holidays, the palace presents a spectacle of breathtaking beauty.

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 – Chennai by Afternoon Train

Enjoy the breakfast at the hotel. Morning free to explore the city on own. Later in afternoon take the train to Chennai.

The first British Warehouse came up in 1639 when the British acquired the sandy beach from the local Nayaks on lease. It was called Madraspatinam then. Later by 1654, the Fort St. George was built. Still later the neighbouring villages were included in the city which came either as grants or gifts. Triplicane was rented from the Sultan of Golconda in 1676. In 1744 Robert Clive worked as a writer from the Fort, later to become a military man of British Army. The Fort House, which housed the Governor and his council, were added in the 17th Century, the Assembly Hall in 1910 and the Secretariat in 1925.

All the neighbouring areas were merged into the city now known as Madras or as Chennai as it is officially known. Until Independence, Madras was the capital of what in British times was called the Madras Presidency, comprising nearly the whole of South India, including the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada speaking areas.

Arrive at Chennai and transfer to the hotel. Check – in and relax. Overnight will be at Chennai.

Day 06 : Chennai – Pondicherry by Road

Enjoy the breakfast at the hotel. Proceed for the sightseeing of Chennai:

Santhome Cathedral: Built by Portuguese in the 14th and 15th century, this Cathedral is named after St. Thomas. Historically important, it is one of the pilgrimages for the Christian community.

Kapaleeswarar Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kapaleeswarar temple has inscriptions from the 13th century A.D. The temple 'Gopuram' (tower) is in the characteristic Dravidian style of architecture. The walls and pillars of temple have very delicate and intricate carvings which depict the scenes from Hindu mythology. Post sightseeing of Chennai drive to Pondicherry.

French dreams of an Indian Empire began and ended in Pondicherry. But in the scattered territories of the Union Territory of Pondicherry there remains what little there is left of the French influence in India and that makes the territory, especially its headquarters, Pondicherry, unique, something quite different from the rest of India. The Union Territory of Pondicherry comprises of 4 coastal regions of Pondicherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. Pondicherry is on the east coast about 162 km south of Chennai (Madras) located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. This erstwhile French colony on the east coast of South India merged with the rest of the country in 1954. Legend says that Pondicherry is the place where St. Agasthaya settled down.

Reach and check – in at hotel. Enjoy the walk around the promenade in the evening and watch the colorful culture (lot of French influence). Overnight will be at Pondicherry.

Day 07 : Pondicherry

Enjoy the breakfast at the hotel.

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.

Aurobindo Hand made Paper factory: This factory is one of the Ashram’s most successful commercial enterprises, with the paper produced here are being exported to other countries (but now the production has become less).

Pondicherry Museum: It is located in the former residence of the French Administrator building. The museum has a collection of rare bronzes and stone sculptures from the Pallava and Chola dynasties and artifacts excavated from Arikamedu.

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.

Sacred Heart Church: Located on Subbayah Salai, this white and brown neo-gothic church is one of Pondicherry’s finest Catholic churches. The church has an imposing entrance and the beautiful stained glass panels depict incidents from Jesus Christ’s life. Further along the southern boulevard is the cemetery, which has some interesting tombs with ornate marble decorations.

Return to the hotel. Relax. Overnight will be at Pondicherry.

Day 08 : Pondicherry – Chidambaram – Tanjore by Road

Breakfast will be at the hotel. Drive to Tanjore en route visit Chidambaram.

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. This is spread over an area of 40 acres with a gopuram on each side; the eastern gopuram is 40.8 m. high and carved on it are the 108 dance poses of Bharatanatyam. The western tower has also similar carvings while the northern tower that soars to a height of 42.4 m. is the tallest. The idol of Nataraja is installed in the kanakasabha, the roof of which is covered with gold Plates. The icon is a stunning piece of sculpture that evokes a sense of continuous movement.

Post visit of Nataraja Temple drive to Tanjore.

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.

Brahadeeswarar Temple: It is also called as 'Big Temple', which was built by King Raja Raja Chola. It is an architect's marvel & is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. The main shrine of this temple is Lord Brahadeeswarar (Shiva). The Shiv Linga of Brahadeeswara is probably the grandest in existence. Big Temple stands tall with its beaming tower. It's one of the architectural wonders of the world. The Massive Nandhi measures 25 tons weight. This is the second biggest Nandhi in India. It will take 1 hour to visit this place.

Saraswathi Mahal Library: 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 by Road

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 temple’s fame stands for its Rajagopuram, which is the highest tower in south India.

Reach Madurai and check – in at hotel. Relax.

Madurai is one of the oldest cities of South India which is located on the banks of river Vaigai. Madurai has developed Tamil language in all aspects. Madurai is the busiest commercial centre in south Tamilnadu round the clock. This sacred city of south India attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors from India and abroad. It is famous for Ancient Dravidian Culture. The greatest poet Nakkerrar developed Tamil language in this city. Earlier, it was ruled by Pandyas and it was the capital city of great Pandya Kings.

Thirumalai Nayakar had played a great role in developing Madurai. Cultural heritage and commercial trading was well developed in Madurai. This city is also called as Temple city. The famous Meenakshi temple is located in Madurai. Lord Meenakshi is considered as power, wealth and knowledge. This city is also famous for Jasmine flowers, textiles and for South Indian spicy food. Overnight will be at Madurai.

Day 10 : Madurai

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.

Thiruparankundram Temple: This temple is the first one, among the six abodes of Lord Murugan (Karthikeya). This temple was built by carving the hills. Lord Muruga marries goddess Deivayanai, who is the daughter of Indra (King of the Heaven). One more specialty of this temple is the idols of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu both faces each other in the main shrine, which is rare thing in Hindu temples. The vehicle of Murugan is the peacock and his weapon is Vel (Javelin).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 – Thekkady (Periyar) by Road

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. Relax.

In the evening watch the Kalarippayattu Dance Show. Overnight will be at Thekkady.

Day 12 : Thekkady (Periyar)

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 : Thekkady – Kumarakom by Road

Enjoy the breakfast at the resort. Drive to Kumarakom.

Kumarakom 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. Kumarakom is an unbelievably beautiful paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves. The village of Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake in Kerala. Kumarakom offers nature's best with its virgin forest backwaters. It is a place fit for those quiet and intimate moments when you just want to be with yourself in tranquillity and peace.

Board the houseboat in the afternoon for a cruise in the backwaters.

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 : Alleppey – Cochin by Road

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

Breakfast will be at hotel. 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 by Flight : Mumbai – Aurangabad by Flight

Enjoy the breakfast at the hotel. Proceed to airport to board the flight for Mumbai and take 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 : Aurangabad

Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Proceed for full day sightseeing with excursion to 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.

Once known as 'Devgiri', this magnificent 12th century fortress stands on a hill just 13 km. from Aurangabad. It was given the name Daulatabad, the 'city of fortune', by Muhammad Tughlaq, Sultan of Delhi. Initially a Yadav stronghold, it passed through the hands of several dynasties in the Deccan. One of the world's best preserved fort of medieval times, surviving virtually unaltered, Daulatabad yet displays the character that made it invincible. This is a Fortress that was conquered only by treachery. A series of secret, quizzical, subterranean passages lie coiled like a python amidst the fort. Here flaring torches were thrust upon an unwary enemy. Or hot oil poured down his path, as he deliberated in the labyrinth. Also the heat from a brazier was blown into the passage by a process of suction suffocating the entire garrison within. The Fort itself lies in the body of an isolated hill; the steep hill - sides at the base falling so sharply to the moat that no hostile troops could scale the height. The moat, 40 ft. deep with mechanical drawbridges teemed with crocodiles. A 5-kilometer sturdy wall, artificial scarping and a complicated series of defences made Daulatabad impregnable. The 30-meter high Chand Minar (Tower) built much later with 3 circular galleries had a defensive and religious role in the fortress. Overnight will be at Aurangabad.

Day 18 : Aurangabad

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' 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 by Flight

Breakfast will be at hotel. Today morning take the flight to Mumbai. COMPASS REPRESENTATIVE will receive you on arrival at the airport and transfer to 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 south-eastern section of the Mumbai city. Enjoy 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.

Victoria Terminus/Western Railway Station: At the site of the Koli's original temple to Mumba Devi now stands Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus - one of Mumbai's most prominent buildings and architecturally one of the finest stations in the world. It is built in a style that combines Gothic and Indian influences. It was completed in 1885. Designed by F.W. Stevens the building commenced in 1878. This Italian gothic Building has a frontage of over 15, 00 feet. The administrative offices form three sides of a rectangle enclosing an ornamental garden, the entrance gate guarded by a massive stone Lion and Tiger. The most prominent feature of this building is the high 160 feet dome crowning the centre. On top of the giant dome is a figure of a women with a torch held aloft to symbolize progress.

Mumbai High court: An attractive building in early English Gothic style, situated next to the Oval Ground is well worth a visit for its impressive architecture. Statues representing Justice and Mercy surmount the Central structure.

Siddhivinayak Ganpati Mandir: It is the most popular & significant places of worship of Shree Ganesh in India.Shree Siddhivinayak Temple of Mumbai located in Prabhadevi is counted amongst the most venerated temples of India. It is dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the Elephant God, and is situated in the Prabhadevi locality of the city. The credit for the construction of the temple goes to Vithu and Deubai Patil. Built in the year 1801, Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir is visited by people belonging to almost all the sects of the society. The temple comprises of a small mandapam (hall), where the idol of Siddhi Vinayak (Lord Ganesha) has been enshrined. Boasting of exquisite architecture, the sanctum sanctorum has been fitted with wooden doors that have been meticulously carved with the images of the Ashtavinayaka (the eight manifestations of Lord Ganesha). Its inner roof has been beautifully adorned with gold plating. Inside the sanctum is placed the central statue of Lord Ganesha. The idol portrays the Lord with four arms, carrying a lotus, an axe, modakas (sweet dumplings) and a garland of beads, respectively. Overnight will be at Mumbai.

Day 20 : Mumbai

Breakfast will be at the hotel. Proceed for an excursion to Elephanta caves.

The Elephanta Island is the site of the magnificent Elephanta caves, containing beautiful carvings, sculptures, and a temple to the Hindu God, Lord Shiva. These caves are located at a distance of 7 miles from the city of Mumbai (in the sea) and are now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island of Elephanta, being a commercial, military and religious centre for centuries has traces of early Buddhist culture.

The Elephanta caves are thought to date back to the Silhara kings belonging to the period between 9th - 12th centuries. With the Brahminical resurgence during the reign of Gupta dynasty in 3rd century AD, these great cave dedicated to Lord Shiva exploded into existence at Elephanta. Legends and history suggest that the great warrior prince of Chalukya dynasty Pulkesin ll raised the shrine to celebrate his victory. Some historians also suggest that these caves were built by the Kalchuri King Krishnaraja in 6th century AD.

As the worship of the figure of the Buddha began to be encouraged with rise of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism, a shrine was introduced to house Buddha's image, replacing the cells at the centre of the back wall. The Monasteries of Ajanta lead us directly to Elephanta. Overnight will be at Mumbai.

Day 21 : Mumbai

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. Day will be free to shop around and explore the hotel. Overnight will be at Mumbai.

Day 22 : Mumbai – Home

Breakfast will be at the hotel. We would transfer you to the airport in time for your flight home with sweet memories of India.

TOUR ENDS

Tour Highlights

• Accommodation at suggested hotels,
• Daily buffet breakfasts at suggested hotels,
• All meals on houseboat,
• Air conditioned Toyota Innova as per itinerary,
• Local English Speaking Guides for sightseeing as per itinerary,
• Spice Plantation Tour at Thekkady,
• Short Nature Walk,
• Elephanta Caves Tour in Mumbai,
• Half day city tour of Mumbai,
• Kalaripayattu Dance Show at Thekkady,
• Kathakali Dance Show at Cochin,
• Sunset Harbor cruise at Cochin,
• Train fare of Executive class for the Mysore - Chennai,
• Internal airfare in economy class for mentioned sectors,
• Monument Entrance Fees,
• Driver allowance, toll taxes, interstate permits, fuel charges,
• Currently applicable government service taxes.

Hotels

CITY HOTEL NIGHT
BENGALURU THE LALIT ASHOK 02
MYSORE METROPOLE 02
CHENNAI GRT GRAND 01
PONDICHERRY MAISON PERUMAL 02
TANJORE PARISUTHAM 01
MADURAI TAJ VIVANTA 02
THEKKADY SPICE VILLAGE 02
BACKWATERS A/C DELUXE HOUSEBOAT 01
COCHIN CASINO 02
AURANGABAD TAJ RESIDENCY 03
MUMBAI TAJ MAHAL (TOWER) 03

Tour Price

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