SOUTH INDIA - MUMBAI TO KOCHI TOUR - DEC 2020 – JAN 2021
MUMBAI / AURANGABAD / PUNE / HYDERABAD / BIJAPUR / HAMPI / HASSAN / MYSORE / BANGALORE / KOCHI / MUMBAI
Explore the most fascinating historical sites in West-Central and Southern India in this amazing journey. This interesting exploration starts with a boat ride on the Arabian Sea to Elephanta Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 7 caves date from 6th & 7th Centuries and are dedicated to various forms of the Hindu deity, Shiva. From Aurangabad visit the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain caves in Ellora followed by a full day excursion to Ajanta Caves, that are carved into a perpendicular side of a horse shoe shaped river gorge. Some of the caves at Ajanta are painted while others are only carved in stone. All depict various incarnations of the Buddha. The Aga Khan Palace was the place where the British put Mahatma Gandhi and his wife under house arrest during India's freedom struggle. The next stop is the former princely state of Hyderabad. From here you will go to Bijapur that is famous for GolGumbaj mausoleum, one of the largest domes in the world. In Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will view the impressive remains of the sculpture and architecture of Vijayanagar Empire that had its capital here. Near Hassan are the famous temples of Belur and Halebidu on the way to the rich princely state of Mysore, where Tipu Sultan ruled for a short but dynamic period. On the way to Bangalore airport visit another famous temple complex at Somnathpur. Later enjoy the relics and remains of the city of Fort Kochi where once Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus lived and traded in Indian spices among many other commodities. End the interesting journey with a full day sightseeing of India's financial capital and Bollywood.
Day 1 // Tuesday, December 29, 2020, FRESNO:
Board flight to Mumbai.
Day 2 // , Wednesday, December 30 2020, MUMBAI:
Arrive in Mumbai Airport. Assistance and transfer to Hotel Fariyasfor overnight.
Day 3 // Thursday, December 31, 2020, MUMBAI ELEPHANTA CAVES/ AURANGABAD (FLIGHT):
After breakfast board the ferry boat at 9 AM for a ride to Elephanta Caves from the shore of Arabian Sea near Gateway of India overlooking the world famous Taj Palace Hotel.
The Mumbai region came under the rule of many dynasties after the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka the Great who ruled from his capital in Pataliputra (present day Patna in Bihar state) most of the Indian sub-continent from Afghanistan in northeast to Bangladesh in the east and all of India except regions in the southernmost peninsular India. The following are translations of the fragments of the edicts found in archaeological excavations at Sopara by A.L. Basham and RomilaThapar. In these edicts, Ashoka refers to himself as "Devanampiya"(Beloved of The Gods) and "Piyadassi" (The handsome one).
"In the past, kings went on pleasure tours, which consisted of hunts and other similar amusements. The Beloved of the gods, the king Piyadassi, when he had been consecrated for 10 years, went to the tree of Enlightenment. From that time arose the practice of tours connected with Dhamma, during which meetings are held with ascetics and brahmans, gifts are bestowed, meetings are arranged with aged folk, gold is distributed, meetings with people of the countryside are held, instruction in Dhamma is given, and questions on Dhamma are answered. The Beloved of the gods, the king Piyadassi, derives more pleasure from this, than from any other enjoyments." and "Thus speaks the Beloved of the gods, the king Piyadassi: People practice various ceremonies in illness, at the marriage of sons and daughters, at the birth of children, when going on a journey - on these and on other similar occasions people perform many ceremonies. Women especially perform a variety of ceremonies, which are trivial and useless. If such ceremonies must be performed they have but small results. But the one ceremony which has great value is that of Dhamma. This ceremony includes regard for slaves and servants, respect for teachers, restrained behavior towards living beings, and donations to sramanas and brahmans - these and similar practices are called the ceremony of Dhamma. So father, son, brother, master, friend, acquaintance and neighbor should think, 'This is virtuous, this is the ceremony I should practice, until my object is achieved.”
Elephanta Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a collection of cave temples predominantly dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. They are on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri (literally "the city of caves"), in Mumbai Harbour, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) east of Mumbai in the Indian state of Mahārāshtra. The island, about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) west of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port, consists of five Hindu caves and a few Buddhist stupa mounds that date back to the 2nd century BCE, as well as a small group of two Buddhist caves with water tanks. The Elephanta Caves contain rock cut stone sculptures that show syncretism of Hindu and Buddhist ideas and iconography. The caves are hewn from solid basalt rock. Except for a few exceptions, much of the artwork is defaced and damaged. The main temple's orientation as well as the relative location of other temples are placed in a mandala pattern. The carvings narrate Hindu mythologies, with the large monolithic 20 feet (6.1 m) Trimurti Sadashiva (three-faced Shiva) that is also named Maheshmurti, Nataraja (Lord of dance) and Yogishvara (Lord of Yoga) being the most celebrated. The origins and date when the caves were constructed have attracted considerable speculations and scholarly attention since the 19th century. These date them between 5th and 9th century, and attribute them to various Hindu dynasties. They are more commonly placed between 5th and 7th centuries. Most scholars consider it to have been completed by about 550 CE. They were named Elefante – which morphed to Elephanta – by the colonial Portuguese when they found elephant statues on it. They established a base on the island, and its soldiers damaged the sculpture and caves. The main cave (Cave 1, or the Great Cave) was a Hindu place of worship until the Portuguese arrived, whereupon the island ceased to be an active place of worship. The earliest attempts to prevent further damage to the Caves were started by British India officials in 1909. The monuments were restored in the 1970s. In 1987, the restored Elephanta Caves were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are currently maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The oldest site on the island are two large stupas and some mounds that were built by Hinayana Buddhist around 2nd Century BCE. The giant elephant after whom the caves are named was taken away and is now preserved in Jijamata Garden in Mumbai. The temples in the caves are dedicated to Shiva. The most famous idols in Elephanta are the 3-faced Maheshmurti depicting the deity's three aspects: (a) Aghora or turbulant& fearsome; (b) Tatpurusha or benign & meditative and (c) Vamadeva or the mild, pleasing & lovable. The other famous idols in the caves are the Ardhanareshwara or the half female form of Shiva and the Shiva Nataraja or the Shiva dancing in the ring of the fire of the creation (Nadabrahma - the big bang of Hindu mythology).
Later transfer to ChatrapatiShivaji Airport for flight to Aurangabad. Departure from Mumbai: 3.25 PM // Arrival in Aurangabad: 4.30 PM. On arrival, assistance and transfer to the Lemon Tree Hotel for gala new year eve dinner and overnight.
Day 4 // Friday, January 1, 2021, AURANGABAD:
After breakfast this morning you will visit the Ellora caves (closed on Tuesdays). There are altogether 34 rock-cut caves belonging to Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religions. The Cave number 1 to 12 at the southern end are Buddhist Chaityas (Halls of worship) or Viharas (residential monasteries) and were carved out of the face of an escarpment over a period of nearly 200 years.
The Caves numbers 13 to 29 in the middle area are of Hindu origin. Lord Shiva is reigning deity in all the Brahmanical caves at Ellora. Shiva is represented in Ellora in the popular phallic emblem called Linga as well as in all his other attributes as Mahakala, the manifestation of death; as Mahayogi, the eternal yogi; and as the lord of creation in his Nataraja or the dance pose. The female energy, Shakti in the form of Durga as well as the other two lords in the Hindu trinity, Brahma and Vishnu are also depicted in various sculptural panels suggesting that Shaivites were tolerant of the other religious philosophies within Brahmanism.
The finest of the Ellora group of rock-cut caves is the magnificent Kailasanatha Temple (cave number 16), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Commissioned by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna I in the 8th century, this mammoth complex was carved out of a huge rocky cliff face. Sculptors chiseled through 85,000 cubic meters of rock, beginning at the top of the cliff and working their way down. The resulting marvel, embellished with huge sculptural panels, was meant to depict Mount Kailasa, the sacred abode of Lord Shiva.
The Jain section starts from Cave number 30 and ends with the last Cave number 34. These caves date from ninth to eleventh century CE. Architecturally the Jain caves conform to the Buddhist and Hindu style of caves in Ellora with no stylistic innovations. The main idols in the Ellora caves in all the three groups are larger than life-size. In the afternoon explore the highlights of Aurangabad, including the city’s most famous monument, the Bibi kaMaqbara and Emperor Aurangzeb’s very simple grave in a Sufi monastery complex. Overnight stay at Lemon Tree Hotel.
Day 5 // Saturday, January 2, 2021, AURANGABAD / AJANTA CAVES:
After breakfast drive about 100 Kilometers to explore the magnificent Ajanta Caves (closed on Mondays). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 30 extraordinary rock-cut caves at Ajanta lie within a horseshoe-shaped escarpment. The caves were occupied for a period when the monks were living in the Viharas, also cut into the rock façade and, over time, the surrounding jungle concealed their existence. They were rediscovered quite accidentally in 1819 when John Smith of the 28th Madras Cavalry suddenly saw the top of the façade of Cave 10 while on a tiger hunt. Ajanta’s caves fall into two groups. The early group belongs to the more austere Hinayana phase of Buddhism (2nd century BC), during which the Buddha was not represented in human form but only by symbols such as the Wheel of Law or a Bodhi tree. The second group dates from the Mahayana period (5th century AD), carved out during the rule of the Vakataka dynasty when artistic expression was more exuberant. The caves were inhabited by monks, artists, and craftsmen, who used them as “Varshvatikas” or monsoon shrines. Magnificent, detailed compositions, the murals include depictions of court scenes, princes, and musicians, and offer fascinating glimpses of daily life in the 5th century. The colors, derived from plants and minerals, are in rich shades of ochre, lime, black, green and lapis lazuli. Return to Aurangabad and overnight stay at Lemon Tree Hotel.
Day 6 // Sunday, January 3, 2021, AURANGABAD / PUNE (235 KMS) / HYDERABAD (FLIGHT):
After breakfast at hotel drive to Pune (235 Kilometers) for sightseeing of Shaniwarwada / Aga Khan Palace, where the British had kept Mahatma Gandhi and his wife under house arrest. Kasturba Gandhi, the wife of Mahatma Gandhi, passed away while living here in house arrest. She was cremated in the back yard of the palace and later a memorial was built there to commemorate the event. Later transfer to airport for flight to Hyderabad. Departure Pune: 4.15 PM / Arrival Hyderabad: 5.25 PM.
Upon arrival, assistance and transfer to hotel. Hyderabad is the capital of southern India's Telangana state. A major center for the technology industry, it's home to many upscale restaurants and shops. Its historic sites include Golconda Fort, a former diamond-trading center that was once the QutbShahi dynastic capital.
The Charminar, a 16th-century mosque whose 4 arches support towering minarets, is an old city landmark near the long-standing Laad Bazaar. Overnight stay at Lemon Tree Banjara Hills Hotel.
Day 7// Monday, January 4, 2021, HYDERABAD:
After breakfast at hotel, visit Golkonda Fort in the morning: Situated in the Western part of the beautiful city of Hyderabad at a distance of approximately 9 km from Hussain Sagar Lake, Golconda Fort is one of the region's best-preserved monuments. The construction of this fort was completed in the 1600s and it is reputed for being the area where once, the mighty Koh-I-Noor diamond was stored. It is said that if you clap your hands at the bottom of the fort, the echoes of it can be heard right to the top! The architecture, the legends, the history, and the mystery of Golconda Fort add to its allure and make it one of the must-visit places in Hyderabad.
The mines here are known to produce some of the most coveted and popular gems ever known in the world such as Idol's Eye, the Hope Diamond, Darya-i-noor and the famous Koo-i-noor.
In the evening, Golconda Fort comes to life with the light and sound show which showcases snippets from its regal past. The grandeur, the rise, and the fall of the fort are all spectacular in their own right. With its fascinating history, the place is definitely worth a visit. In the afternoon enjoy the sightseeing of Hyderabad city visiting:
Salar Jung Museum: It is located at Darushifa, on the southern bank of the Musi River, in Hyderabad. This is one of the three national museums in the country. The collection of museum was sourced from the property of Salar Jung Family and it has a myriad collection of paintings, sculptures, carving etc.
Charminar: It is the most important landmark in the city of Hyderabad. The monument was erected when QuliQutb Shah shifted his capital from Golconda to Hyderabad. The monument got its name from its structure as it consists of four minarets. The monument looks amazing during night when it is illuminated.
Hussain Sagar Lake: It is one of a largest man-made lake situated in Hyderabad. Renowned for its monolith of Lord Buddha placed right at the center of the lake, the place is famously known as a Tank Bund, a popular spot of tourist attraction. Overnight stay at Lemon Tree Banjara Hills Hotel.
Day 8 // Tuesday, January 5, 2021, HYDERABAD / KOHLAPUR (FLIGHT) / BIJAPUR (149 Kilometers):
After breakfast at hotel, assistance and transfer to airport for flight to Kolhapur. Departure Hyderabad: 11.35 AM // Arrival Kolhapur: 1.30 PM. Upon arrival, straight drive to Bijapur (150 Kilometers / 3 Hours). Upon arrival, check in at hotel
Bijapur, officially known as Vijayapura, is the district headquarters of Bijapur District of Karnataka state of India. It is also the headquarters for Bijapur Taluka. Bijapur city is well known for its historical monuments of architectural importance built during the rule of the AdilShahi dynasty. Overnight stay at Hotel Le Grand in Bijapur.
Day 9 // Wednesday, January 6, 2021, BIJAPUR:
After breakfast at hotel full day visit of Bijapur:
GolGumbaz:It is also known as Gola Gummata in literal sense means a circular dome. It is the mausoleum of Mohammed Adil Shah, Sultan of Bijapur. The tomb is located in Bijapur, Karnataka and was built by architect Yaqut in 1656. It is considered as the structural triumph of Deccan architecture. The dome of GolGumbaz was the largest in the world at the time of its construction.
Ibrahim Rauza: Also known as The Taj Mahal of the Deccan, it is home to the remains of the Adil Shah ruler Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his wife Taj Sultana.
The Citadel: Also known as The Taj Mahal of the Deccan, it is home to the remains of the Adil Shah ruler Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his wife Taj Sultana.
Juma Masjid: Also known as The Taj Mahal of the Deccan, it is home to the remains of the Adil Shah ruler Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his wife Taj Sultana.Overnight stay at Hotel Le Grand in Bijapur.
Day 10 // Thursday, January 7, 2021, BIJAPUR / HAMPI (220 KMS / 05 HRS):
After breakfast drive to Hampi, upon check in at hotel.
Hampi is an ancient village in the south Indian state of Karnataka. It’s dotted with numerous ruined temple complexes from the Vijayanagara Empire. On the south bank of the River Tungabhadra is the 7th-century Hindu Virupaksha Temple, near the revived Hampi Bazaar. A carved stone chariot stands in front of the huge Vittala Temple site. Southeast of Hampi, Daroji Bear Sanctuary is home to the Indian sloth bear. Rest of the day leisure.Overnight stay at Hampi Boulders Hotel.
Day 11 // Friday, January 8, 2021, HAMPI:
After breakfast at hotel full day visit of Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage site of Karnataka. At its peak, the city had up to 500,000 inhabitants. Abandoned following Muslim invasions from the north of the Deccan, it was earlier the capital of the great empire of Vijayanagar. This archaeological site, one of the most fascinating in the country, drew its wealth from the trade in spices and cotton. Its many temples and palaces are listed as World Heritage Sites. Overnight stay at Hampi Boulders Hotel.
Day 12 // Saturday, January 9, 2021, HAMPI / HASSAN (320 KMS / 06 – 07 HRS):
After breakfast drive to Hassan. The city takes its name from the name of the goddess Hassanamba. The city was founded by ChannaKrishnappaNaik in the 11th century. From the 10th to the 13th century, all the artistic beauty of the Hoysala could flourish there. The visit is dedicated to the two major sites of Hindu art and more particularly of the Hoysala dynasty. Arrive and check in at hotel. Rest of the afternoon is at leisure. Overnight in Hoysala Village Resort.
Day 13 // Sunday, January 10, 2021, BELUR & HALEBID:
After breakfast full day visit of Belur and Halebid :Belur is the first site built by the Hoysala dynasty (11th and 12th centuries), on a star plan.
The many beautiful reliefs depict scenes from the battle between Vishnuvardhana and Cholas, his neighbor in Tamil Nadu. In Halebid, the temple of Hoysaleshwara appears as a jewel by the quality of its sculptures. Overnight at Hoysala Village Resort.
Day 14 // Monday, January 11, 2021, HASSAN / MYSORE (135 KMS / 03 HRS):
After breakfast drive to Mysore: a city in India's southwestern Karnataka State, was the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1947. In its center is opulent Mysore Palace, seat of the former ruling Woodyear dynasty. The palace blends Hindu, Islamic, Gothic and Rajput styles. Mysore is also home to the centuries-old Devaraja Market, filled with spices, silk and sandalwood.Upon arrival, check in at Royal Orchid Metropolitan Hotel.
In the afternoon visit Bird and Crocodile Sanctuary: One of the best zoological gardens in India, it was established in the year 1892 by Maharaja ChamarajaWodeyar for the royals and handed over to the Department of Parks and Gardens of the State Govt on attaining freedom. Along with being home to various species of birds, mammals and reptiles, this zoo also engages in captive breeding of exotic and endangered species.
Mysore Palace: The former residence of the royal family of Mysore, the Mysore Palace is an extremely breath-taking example of the Indo-Sarcenic style of architecture. It was built in the year 1912 for the 24th Ruler of the Wodeyar Dynasty, and is till date one of the biggest palaces in the country. It's one of the most popular and well known tourist attractions in India.
City Shopping: While in Mysore, take home Mysore silk saris, Mysore sandalwood artifacts and handicrafts, incense sticks, and traditional Mysore paintings called Ganjifa paintings, that the town is known for. Overnight stay at Royal Orchid Metropolitan Hotel.
Day 15 // Tuesday // January 12, 2021, MYSORE / BANGALORE (140 KMS / 03 HRS) / KOCHI:
After breakfast sightseeing of Chamundi Hills: Built atop the Chamundi Hills, this temple dates back to the 12th century.
The idol of the main deity is made of gold. Also featured in this temple is an intricately engraved seven storeyGopuram with a silver plated entrance. Bangalore : Bengaluru (also called Bangalore) is the capital of India's southern Karnataka state. The center of India's high-tech industry.
In the afternoon drive to Bangalore airport en route visit Tipu Sultan Summer Palance and Somnathpur Temple: The village is named after Somnath, the commander of the Hoysala army who founded this place. It has a perfect natural setting for a family picnic. Also, the Somnathpur temple is a classic example of the stone carvings in Hoysala architecture. On arrival early dinner/snacks at a restaurant and transfer to airport to board the GoAir flight # G8-658 departing at 6.10 PM and arrive in Kochi at 7.20 PM. After arrival in Kochi transfer in about 1 hour 20 minutes to Fort Kochi HotelDutch Bungalow, close to all the historical attractions of Fort Kochi for overnight.Fort Kochi Hotel Dutch Bungalow is a heritage property located in Fort Kochi. It was built in 1668 by the Dutch East India Company and named as “Crystal Palace”. The natives called it “Kannadi Malika” meaning “Palace of Glass”. The British took over the building in 1796 and used it for naval purposes. It came private possession in 1874. It is now a heritage hotel in the heart of historical Kochi Fort area.
Day 16 // Wednesday, January 13, 2021, KOCHI:
After breakfast sightseeing of the winding narrow lanes in Fort Kochi that are home to some Old Dutch houses, spice markets, the Dutch Palace, India’s oldest European church built in1503 and a Jewish synagogue. Huge, elegant Chinese fishing nets that line the tip of Fort Cochin are a must see. After early dinner a spectacular Kerala Culture Evening with Kathakali Dance-Drama performance in Kerala Culture Center. We will witness the make-up of the Kathakali artists, which is an elaborate job that last around one hour before the actual performance. Return to hotel and overnight inFort Kochi Hotel Dutch Bungalow.
Day 17 // Thursday, January 14, 2021, KOCHI - MUMBAI:
Early morning transfer to Kochi airport to board the Air India flight at 8.15 AM to arrive in Mumbai at 10.15 AM. Full day sightseeing of Mumbai with stop for lunch in a city restaurant.Later farewell dinner at Suba International Hotel near ChatrapatiShivaji International Airport and transfer to board the return flight.
Day 18 // Friday, January 15, 2021, MUMBAI - FRESNO, USA:
Board the international flight a little after mid-night and arrive in Fresno, USA on same day.
THE ABOVE MENTIONED PRICE INCLUDES:
- Round trip international airfare between Fresno and Mumbai in economy class including taxes and fees
- 16 overnights - accommodations in the mentioned or similar hotels inclusive of taxes on double or twin room occupancy basis -
- Daily buffet breakfast and dinners at your hotels. Lunches in selected city restaurants during sightseeing.
- Intercity travel and city sightseeing with air-conditioned deluxe coach with 2 bottles of water on board daily.
- Entrance Fees to monuments & museums
- English speaking local guides at each city as per program
- Escorted in India
- Boat ride in Mumbai to Elephanta Caves & on Arabian Sea in Kochi
- Entrance fee for Kerala Culture Center Kathakali Performance
- Domestic flights Mumbai / Aurangabad / Pune / Hyderabad / Kolhapur / Bangalore / Kochi / Mumbai in economy class
- All applicable supplement for high season (peak period)
- All taxes, parking fees, interstate taxes, state taxes, driver’s allowance etc.
LAST DATE FOR REGISTRATION AND ADVANCE PAYMENT IS July 29, 2020
NOT INCLUDED IN ABOVE PRICES:
- Single hotel room occupancy supplement is shown separately
- Cost of travel insurance, please inquire the premium amount and coverage details
- All drinks in hotels & restaurants etc.
- Still and Video Camera Fees at monuments
- Tips: $ 2 per day per person to driver, $ 2 per day per person to local guide and $ 1 to hotel porters.
- All expenses of personal nature like telephone calls / laundry / room service charges in hotels etc. as well as any item not included in the above (included) list.
A non-refundable advance payment of US$ 1,750 is due and payable with completed reservation form (the form will be sent). The balance amount (also non-refundable) is due and payable on or before September 29, 2020.