Cultural Tour of North & South India - 23N/24D

Delhi - Gwalior - Bhopal - Indore - Dhar - Jalgaon - Aurangabad - Sholapur - Gulbarga - Bijapur - Badami - Hospet - Hassan - Coorg - Mysore - Bangalore

Overview

Arrival Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi
Languages English, Spanish, German, Italian, French
Highlights
  • Gwalior Fort, Gujari Mahal, Man mandir Palace - Gwalior
  • Excursion to Sanchi, Udaigiri & Bhojpur
  • Mahakaleshwar Temple - Ujjan
  • Lal Baag Palace, Omkeshwar & Maheshwar Temples - Indore
  • Mandu Fort - Mandu
  • Omkareshwar & Ganesh Temples - Jalgaon
  • CAjanta and Ellora Caves - Aurangabad
  • Bahamani Kingdom Fort- Gulbarga
  • Jumma Masjid, Mehtar Mahal, Asar Mahal, and Anand Mahal - Bijapur
  • Hindu and Jain temples - Badami
  • Excursion to Pattadakal and Aihole
  • Visit famous Temples of Hampi
  • Temples of Halebid and Belur
  • Guided Plantation Tourand Tibetan Monasteries - Coorg
  • Maharaja Palace and Sri Chamundeswari Temple - Mysore
  • Hindu temples in Somnathpur

Tour Map

Tour Itinerary

  • Day 01: Flight to Delhi

    Day 01: Flight to Delhi

    On arrival in Delhi, you will be greeted and escorted by India Holiday Mall Executive to your hotel. On arrival at hotel, check-in.

    (Room will be booked from 12:00 noon).

    In its 3000 years of existence; seven cities have risen where the present capital of India stands. Here you'll encounter a fascinating blend of the ancient and the contemporary. Where government buildings, medieval palaces, and bazaars exist beside a modern metropolis. Delhi is a city waiting to be explored.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 02: Delhi – Gwalior

    In the morning, transfer to the railway station to board the train (Bhopal Shatabadi - 0615 / 0936 Hrs) to Gwalior.

    There is a legend about the foundation of Gwalior: In the 8th century, Suraj Sen a tribal head was suffering from a deadly disease. A holy saint Gwalipa treated him and he got well. As a token of gratitude to the saint, he founded a city and named it after the saint, Gwalior.

    On arrival, transfer to the hotel.

    In the afternoon, visit the majestic hill fort of Gwalior standing on a sandstone precipice 100 m high, 2.8 km long and 200 to 850 m wide. Gujari Mahal (15th century), on the foot of the fort, is an archaeological museum with rich Hindu and Jain sculptures. The palace was built by Raja Mansingh Tomar for his loving wife Mrignayani.

    Visit Man Mandir Palace (1486-1516), the most impressive building in the fort with its 4 story work and famous wall paintings. Pass by Sas Bahu (Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law) Temple dedicated to Vishnu established in the 11th century. The old city has the Jama Masjid (1661) with the tomb of Mohammad Ghaus, an Afghani saint and teacher of Tansen. Tansen was a famous musician and one of the nine gems at the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. One can also see the tomb of Tansen nearby.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 03: Gwalior – Bhopal

    After breakfast, transfer to the railway station to board the train Bhopal Shatabadi - 0939 / 1405 Hrs, to Bhopal.

    Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, combines scenic beauty, historicity and modern urban planning. It is situated on the site of an 11th century city, Bhojapal, founded by Raja Bhoja.

    Bhopal today presents a multi-faceted profile; the old city with its teeming market places, fine old mosques and palaces still bear the aristocratic imprint of its former rulers; among them the succession of powerful Begums who ruled Bhopal from 1819 to 1926. Equally impressive is the new city with its verdant, exquisitely laid out parks and gardens, broad avenues and streamlined modern edifices.

    On arrival, check in at hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel

  • Day 4: Bhopal

    After breakfast, take a full day excursion to Sanchi, Udaigiri & Bhojpur.

    Sanchi: Located on the foot of a hill-- Sanchi is 46 km from Bhopal. Sanchi is a religious place with historical and archaeological significance. Sanchi is a site for the numerous stupas, which were built on a hill top. The place is related to Buddhism but not directly to the life of Buddha. It is more related to Ashoka than to Buddha. Ashoka built the first stupa and had put up many pillars here. The crown of famous Ashoka pillars, with four lions standing back to back, has been adopted as the national emblem of India.

    In Sanchi, visit the great Sanchi Stupa & the Ashok Pillar.

    The Great Sanchi Stupa: This probably is the most visited and most photographed structure in Madhya Pradesh. This dome shaped building and the panels are inscribed with many drawings that depict the life of Buddha. You will also find Brahmi script carved at different places in the stupa. The stupas of Sanchi have been recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO. The construction of the Stupa was approved by Emperor Ashoka in the third century. This hemispherical dome structure was built to house the relics of Buddha.

    The Ashoka Pillar: The magnificent Ashoka Pillar was built by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century. The pillar is located close to the southern gate of Sanchi Stupa. The pillar here is known for its 'aesthetic proportions and superb structural balance. However, the pillar does not have the 24 spoked dharmachakra or wheel of life that you will find on the pillar in Sarnath. The base of the pillar is intact but the top of the pillar, which was crowned with the famous four lions is not the same any more. The four lions have been removed and have been kept in the archaeological museum nearby.

    Later, drive to Udayagiri
    Udayagiri Caves: Hardly 3 km further to Sanchi is the Udayagiri caves. These rock cut caves find an inscription dating back to the 4th and 5th century A.D. during the time of Chandragupta Maurya. The rock cut images carry the distinctive features of the Gupta dynasty. Most of these caves are dedicated to Hindu Gods other than two which are dedicated to the Jain religion. The caves have massive structures of Lord Vishnu in his Boar incarnation holding the earth on his tusks. Another idol is that of reclining Vishnu.

    After visiting Udayagiri, drive to Bhojpur.

    Bhojpur: Hardly 28 km from the main city of Bhopal stands the actual city, founded by the Paramar King and named after him, Bhojpur. Bhojpur today is famous for its ancient unfinished Shiva temple, which is known as the Somnath of the East. This temple and its architecture dates back to the 13th century and remains mysteriously unfinished. The most attractive feature of the temple other than its architecture is its massive Lingam that stands about 2.3 meter tall.

    After sightseeing, drive back to Bhopal.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 5: Bhopal – Ujjan – Indore

    After breakfast, drive to Indore.

    Indore - Planned and built by Rani Ahilyabai, the brave Holkar queen, Indore lies to the extreme west of Madhya Pradesh on the banks of the rivers Saraswati and Khan, which unite at the centre of the city.

    En-route, visit Ujjan. Modern Ujjain is situated on the banks of the river Shipra, regarded since times immemorial as sacred. The belief in the sacredness of Shipra, has its origins in the ancient Hindu mythological tale of churning of the Ocean by the Gods and the Demons, with Vasuki, the serpent as the rope.

    Later, visit the famous Mahakaleshwar Temple.

    Mahakala of Ujjain is known among the twelve celebrated Jyotirlingas in India. The glory of Mahakaleshwar temple has been vividly described in various puranas.

    The Mahakaleshwar temple is located near a lake; it has five levels, one of which is underground. The temple itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls. The shikhara is adorned with sculptural finery. Brass lamps light the way to the underground sanctum. It is believed that prasada offered here to the deity could be re-offered unlike all other shrines.

    After the visit of Mahakaleshwar temple, drive to Indore.

    On arrival, transfer to the hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 6: Indore – Omkareshwar – Maheswar – Dhar

    After breakfast, enjoy the sightseeing of Indore. Visit Lal Baag Palace, which is one of the grandest monuments of the Holkar dynasty in Indore. A reflection of their taste, grandeur and lifestyle, its construction began in 1886 under Tukoji Rao Holkar II, and was carried out in three phases.

    Later, drive to Dhar. En route, visit Omkeshwar & Maheshwar Temples.

    Omkareshwar Temple - A two-kilometre long wedge-shaped outcrop of sandstone, seen from above bears an uncanny resemblance to the symbol 'OM'. This coupled with the presence (on its sheer south-facing side) of a revered Shivalingam, has made Omkareshwar, 77 kilometres south of Indore, one of the most sacred sites in central India.

    Maheshwar Temple is one of the oldest constructions that unveil the history to the recent times. The temple bears the carved overhanging balconies. This place is wonderfully decorated with stone carvings, there are intricately worked doorways and all these splendid carvings are ideal for showing the rich past and their taste in work of art.

    Later, continue your drive to Dhar.

    On arrival, transfer to the hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 7: Dhar – Mandu – Dhar

    After breakfast, enjoy the sightseeing of Mandu, the largest fort complexes in the world.

    Enclosed by 45 km of parapets and walls, it can be entered by 12 gates. The most important gate among all gates is the Delhi Darwaza, the main entrance of this fortress city. Mandu, also known as the city of joy, is an example of Indo-Islamic architecture, it is a romance in stone rumbling joyous life and the love tales of poet-prince Baz Bahadur for the beautiful Rani Roopmati.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 8: Dhar – Jalgaon

    After breakfast, drive to Jalgaon. On arrival, check in at the hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 9: Jalgaon – Ajanta – Aurangabad

    After breakfast, visit Omkareshwar and Ganesh Temples in Jalgaon.

    Later, drive to Aurangabad. En route visit Ajanta Caves. The caves are older than those at Ellora, date from about 200 BC to 650 AD. They are cut from the volcanic lavas of the Deccan. After the 7th century, they were abandoned and rediscovered in 1819 by a party of British soldiers who were hunting and noticed the top of the façade of Cave 10. There are 30 caves consisting of Buddhist monasteries, and temples. The tempera technique has been used in these paintings belonging to the Aurangabadmost beautiful rock paintings in the world. These Jataka paintings relate to the Buddha's previous births – showing the progress of the soul. Caves 1, 2, 10, 16, 17, have lights, 11, 19 and 26 are also worth visiting.

    After the visit, continue the drive towards Aurangabad. On arrival, transfer to the hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel.

    IMP : AJANTA CAVES ARE CLOSED ON MONDAY.

  • Day 10: Aurangabad

    After breakfast, visit Ellora Caves; carved during 350 A.D. to 700 A.D. these structures represent the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. These caves are 34 in number and are located 30 km from Aurangabad. They are fascinating and the finest example of cave temple architecture housing elaborate facades and exquisite interiors. The 12 caves to the south are Buddhist, the 17 in the centre dedicated to Hinduism, and the 5 caves to the north are Jain.

    Overnight at the hotel.

    IMP: ELLORA CAVES ARE CLOSED ON TUESDAY.

  • Day 11: Aurangabad – Sholapur

    After breakfast, drive to Sholapur.

    On arrival, transfer to the hotel and check in.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 12: Sholapur – Gulbarga

    After breakfast, drive to Gulbarga.

    In the afternoon, enjoy sightseeing of Bahamani Kingdom Fort with its citadel Mosque and the great Tomb in the eastern quarter.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 13: Gulbarga – Bijapur

    After breakfast, drive to Bijapur. On arrival in Bijapur, check in at the hotel.

    Later. enjoy the sightseeing of Bijapur or city of victory as known by Adil Shah.

    Enjoy the city tour, which includes the visit to the following: The Gol Gombaz or Gola Gummata - The dome is the second largest in the world, 124 feet in diameter. The architecture of this building is unique with the four minarets being the four staircases leading to the top dome. The acoustics of the enclosed space makes it a whispering gallery, where even the smallest sound is heard across the other side of the Gombuz. At the periphery of the dome is a circular balcony where visitors can witness its greatest marvel, "ECHO". Any whisper, clap or sound gets echoed 9 times (11 times with fading) and creates an ideal stereophonic stage even for the weak-lunged singers. Even the smallest whisper amplifies and is clearly heard at the diagonally opposite side of the dome.

    The story has it that the Adil Shah with his beloved, went up this balcony and both were looking down the awesome nine storied depth of its central hall. "You do love me a lot," said the Shah, "Now, would you do ANYTHING for my sake?" "Yes," said the beautiful one. "If so," said the Shah jokingly, "would you jump down this balcony?" "Sure, and here I go" the beautiful one jumped out to show her eternal love. Heart-broken, the Shah cursed himself for testing the eternal bond between them and wept for the rest of his life. The beauty and excellence of this dome must be experienced at least once in a lifetime. Lovers come here to whisper (aloud!), singers to enjoy the stereophonic effect and children to test the strength of their giggle.

    Jumma Masjid - Jumma Masjid is the other attraction of this city. Jumma Masjid still used for worship has been called one of the first mosques in India. It holds an exquisite copy of the Quran, written in gold. Also dating back to the period of Adil Shah this is the largest Masjid in the region. Barah Cummon (12 arches) is another wonderful piece of architecture created simply with twelve interleaving arches as a centre stage for art festivities.

    The Ibrahim Roza - Further to the edge of the city is the Ibrahim Roza, a beautiful tomb with artistically laid out corridors and interconnecting buildings with richly decorated walls and perforated stone windows. Ibrahim Roza, the mausoleum of Ibrahim Adil Shah II, is said to have inspired the Taj Mahal in Agra. At the centre of the town are large arches signifying the forts and their beauty in moonlight.

    The Malik-e-Maiden. - The largest medieval cannon in the world is 14 ft long, weighing 55 tons. Legend has it that if you touch the gun and make a wish, it will come true!

    Also worth visit are the Mehtar Mahal, the Jod Gumbaz, Afzal Khan's Cenotaph, Asar Mahal, Anand Mahal, Ark-Killa, etc.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 14: Bijapur – Badami

    After breakfast, drive to Badami. Badami once called Vatapi, magnificently nestled in a canyon, and was the Chalukyan capital from 543 - 757 A.D. The ancient city has several Hindu and Jain temples; a Buddhist caves and remains peaceful and charming.

    On arrival in Badami, check in at the hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 15: Badami - Pattadakal - Aihole - Badami

    After breakfast, drive for an excursion to Pattadakal and Aihole

    Pattadakal - Pattadakal has a distance of 134 kms from Bijapur. A world Heritage centre, it has 10 major temples representing early Chalukyan architecture. The biggest temple dedicated to Virupaksheshvara has a huge gateway and several inscriptions. In front of the temple is a majestic Nandi. The Mallikarjuna and Papanatha Temples, and the Jain Temple from the Papanatha Temples and the Jain Temple from the Rashtrakuta period are well worth a visit.

    Aihole - This temple city is 110 kms away from Bijapur. It is famous as the 'Cradle of Indian Temple Architecture'. Aihole has over 125 temples all intricately carved and rich in detail. The oldest temple here is perhaps the 5th century Lad Khan Temple. The Durga (Fort) Temple has a semi-circular apse and a complete portico. The Hutchmalli Temple, the Ravalphadi Cave Temple, The Konti Temple Complex, The Uma Maheshwari Temple, The Jain Meguthi Temple and The Two-storeyed Buddhist Temple are the other attractions at Aihole.

    Later, drive back to Badami.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 16: Badami – Hospet

    After breakfast, drive to Hospet.

    On arrival, check in at the hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 17: Hospet – Hampi - Hospet

    After breakfast, drive for an excursion to Hampi. Hampi, the seat of the famed VIJAYANAGARA Empire was the capital of the largest empire in post-mogul India, covering several states. The empire reigned supreme under Krishnadevaraya, the Emperor. The destruction of Vijayanagar by marauding Mughal invaders was sudden, shocking and absolute. They reduced the city to ruins amid scenes of savage massacre and horrors beggaring description.

    Although in ruins today, this capital city once boasted riches known far beyond the shores of India. The ruins silently narrate the story of grandeur splendour and fabulous wealth. Most of the ruins are along the road leading from Kamalapura to Hampi. Three km down the road, on a commanding site, stands the temple of Malyavanta Raghunathaswamy. It is built in the Dravidian style. Strange-looking fishes and marine monsters carved along its outer walls are worth noticing.

    The Virupaksha Temple rises majestically at the western end of the famous Hampi Bazaar. The temple has a 120 feet tall tower on its eastern entrance. The temple contains the shrines of Shiva, Pampa and Bhuvaneswari. Parts of this temple are older than the Vijayanagar kingdom itself. The work of this style dates back to the 11th or 12th century.

    Nearby is the 6.7m tall monolith of Ugra Narasimha. An inscription nearby states that it was hewn from a single boulder in 1528 during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya.

    Vithala Temple Complex - The most splendid monument of Hampi is undoubtedly the Vithala Temple Complex with its 56 musical pillars.

    To the east of the hall is the famous Stone Chariot with stone wheels that actually revolve. In front of the shrine stands the great mandapa. Nearby is the 'Purandra Dasara Mantapa' which has been also declared a protected monument.

    House of Victory- It was built when Krishnadeva Raya came back from his victorious expedition against the King of Orissa. The spaces between the rows of the plinth-mouldings here are most elaborately and elegantly carved. The kings of Vijayanagar used to sit on a grand throne in the House of Victory and witness the nine-day Dasara festival.

    Westwards from the House of Victory, leading through two ruined gates, the path leads to the Hazara Ramaswami temple. This temple is believed to have been the private place of worship of the royal family.

    King's Balance - Hampi is also full of surprises: like the King's Balance where kings were weighed against the grain, gold or money which was then distributed to the poor, the Queen's Bath, aswimming pool, 50 ft. long and 6 ft. deep, with its arched corridors, projecting balconies and lotus-shaped fountains that once sprouted perfumed water.

    Later, drive to Hospet.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 18: Hospet – Hassan

    After breakfast, drive to Hassan.

    Hassan is a picturesque, quiet and peaceful town. The city acts as an entry point to famous archaeological sites Belur, Halebid and Shravanabelgola, all situated in its close vicinity. The name Hassan comes from the name of the presiding deity Goddess Haasanamba. Founded back in the 11th century by Channa Krishnappa Naik, Hassan has a very bleak history. It was under the rule of the Hoysala dynasty from the 11th century till the 13th century. It was during this period that the splendid temples of Halebid and Belur were built.

    On arrival in Hassan, check in at the hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 19: Hassan – Coorg

    After visiting Halebid and Belur head to the Hoysalesvara Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva at Halebid is perched on a star-shaped base. Every centimetre of the outside wall of this temple and much of the interior is covered with an endless variety of Hindu deities, sages, animals and birds. A few kilometres further we reach Belur. The religious capital of Hoysala. Visit the ornamental gopuram of the Chennakesava Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, which appears unexpectedly around a bend. It took 103 years to complete.

    Later, drive to Coorg. On arrival in Coorg, check in at the hotel.

    Coorg is situated on the Western Ghats. Set amidst verdant valleys, imposing mountains and teak wood forests, this is one of the most beautiful hill stations you can visit. It lies on Karnataka's south-western end, covering an area of 4,102 sq km. It is often said as Scotland of India.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 20: Coorg

    After breakfast, enjoy the guided plantation tour.

    Take a guided tour of the 300-acre working coffee and spice plantation on foot. Learn first-hand the difference between an Arabica and Robusta, how the Malabar blend got 'monsooned',

    Enjoy the lunch at planters family.

    Later, visit Bylakuppe Tibetan settlement. Bylakuppe is the largest Tibetan settlement in India, the settlement set up in 1960 holds a several monasteries and temples of all major Vajrayana (Indo-Tibetan Buddhist) lineages. The largest monasteries are Namdroling (Nyingma tradition) and Sera (Gelugpa lineage).

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 21: Coorg – Mysore

    After breakfast, drive to Mysore. Arrive in Mysore and transfer to the hotel.

    Mysore is rightly known as the "Cultural Capital of Karnataka". It is a scenic town located in the state of Karnataka and is also the second largest city in the state following the capital city of Bangalore. A trip to Mysore is always an enriching experience since you will come across its rich culture, heritage, glorious history, and breathtaking tourist sites apart from the genial and hospitable people.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 22: Mysore

    After breakfast, enjoy the sightseeing of Mysore.

    Visit Maharaj Palace, once a seat of the government, the Maharaja's palace in Mysore is the epitome of grandeur and extravagance that was during the British Raj. In 1897 the old wooden palace was completely burnt down in a fire mishap during the princess's marriage. So a new palace had to be built to match the royal stature of the Wodeyars of Mysore who had succeeded in making Mysore state, the model state of British India.

    Also, visit Chamundi Hills, which is named after the Goddess of Mysore "Goddess Chamundi". It is believed that through her meditation the Goddess protects the wellbeing of the town below. She is an incarnation of Parvati (consort of Shiva), who killed the demon Mahishasura. Thus, bringing peace to the country (Mysore is named after her). One thousand steps or a taxi takes one to the top of the hill. From the top one can get a bird's eye view of the Mysore City below, which looks very enchanting and beautiful. More than halfway up a 5 Mt high granite stone "Nandi" (Shiva's holy bull) guards over the city of Mysore. Sri Chamundeswari Temple on the summit is dedicated to the royal Wodeyar family's presiding deity, the "Goddess Chamundi."

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 23: Mysore – Bangalore

    After breakfast, drive to Bangalore. On the way, visit Somnathpur.

    Somnathpur temples in Karnataka are the windows to the rich historical past of Karnataka. As soon as you lay eyes on these temples you will notice that there is an exceptional kind of stillness in the temples making them eternal. Somnathpur is one of the most ancient village of Karnataka thus earning it a name of heritage destination.

    At a distance of 40 km from Mysore and 180 km from Bangalore, the rural town is famous for its splendid and grand Keshava temple that has been built in the Hoyasala style. A tour of Somnathpur is suggested to all those who want to have a personal experience with the history of Karnataka.

    After visiting Somnath, drive to Bangalore.

    On arrival, transfer to the hotel.

    Overnight at the hotel.

  • Day 24: Bangalore Departure

    On time transfer to the airport to board the flight for onward journey.

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