18
Days Train Trip of South India (Rail-07)

Bombay (Mumbai)- Aurangabad - Hyderabad - Chennai - Trichy (Tiruchirapalli)- Madurai- Periyar (Thekkady)- Cochin (Kochi)- Bangalore - Bombay

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Day 01:- Arrive in Mumbai.

On your arrival in Mumbai, you will be transferred to your hotel. Rest of the time is at leisure. Mumbai earlier called “Bombay” is the finance capital of India and consists of seven archipelago islands such as Colaba, Old Women’s Island, Mazagaon, Parel, Matunga-Sion and Mahim. Mumbai influxes a huge number of tourists from across the world throughout the year for the purpose of pilgrimage,sightseeing or simply for an employment opportunity. It gets described as the city of people shrouded in wealth as well as people rolling in extreme poverty, where one can stay in posh area like Juhu and Cuffparade along with Asia’s biggest slum area like Dharavi. Overnight is in Mumbai.

This morning you will be visiting this Bollywood city. Your morning city tour of Mumbai will take you to the Hanging Gardens located on the beautiful slopes of the Malabar Hills as well as Kamla Nehru Park offering a marvelous and panoramic view of the Chowpatty Beach as well as the Marine Drive. You will continue your tour to Mani Bhawan, Prince of the Wales Museum, Gateway of India and Dhobi-Ghat and will drive through Marine Drive, Flora Fountain and Crawford market. Check-out time from the hotel is at 1200 hrs. . Afternoon is at leisure.

You could take an optional tour of Elephanta Caves. The Caves on Elephanta Island located in the Arabian Sea are about 10 kms from Mumbai Harbor and are an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The caves dating back to the 5th to the 8th century AD are divided into five Hindu caves dedicated to Shiva and two Buddhist caves. The caves are closed on Monday and can be reached by boat from Gateway of India. Late evening you will be transferred to rail station in time for your Aurangabad night train. Overnight is on board train.

This morning on your arrival in Aurangabad you will be transferred to your hotel. Aurangabad built in 1610 AD by Malik Ambar was named after the Emperor Aurangzeb. Today you will be visiting the Ajanta Caves. The Ajanta sight-seeing takes you to the Buddhist Chaityas and Viharas with carvings and fantastic wall paintings. The paintings show Buddha’s life and rituals of the Mahayana Buddhism period. The Mural paintings prove that the ancient Indians had mastered a fluent style. The paintings show in detail the life of a wealthy court. The ceilings are painted with detailed decorative motifs and some of them represent the Jataka tales showing the previous lives of Buddha as a ruler. Ajanta Caves are closed on Mondays. Overnight is in Aurangabad.

Sight seeing of important places in Aurangabad- Ellora Caves.
This morning, you will be visiting the Ellora Caves dating back from 5th century to 11the century. The excursion takes you to the monasteries & temples excavated out of the vertical face of a rock. These 34 caves of Ellora have Buddhist monasteries, Hindu temples and Jain temples. The amazing and wonderful Kailasa Temple is the largest monolithic structure in the world. Ellora caves are closed on Tuesdays. After the visits, you will be returning to Aurangabad. Rest of your day is at leisure to discover nearby places in Aurangabad. Some of the places of interest in Aurangabad are Bibi Ka Maqbara, Panchakki, Kali Masjid, Jumma Masjid, Quila-E-Ark, Aurangabad Caves, etc. Bibi Ka Maqbara built in 1678 is the tomb of Aurangzeb's wife Dilras Banu Begum and is called the Baby Taj as it has a similar design as Taj Mahal.

The Panchakki from the 17th-century is a water mill. The Quila-E-Ark from the 17th century is a palace. Aurangabad Caves are 12 Buddhist caves from 3 AD. Kali Masjid and Jumma Masjid are mosques built by Malik Ambar in the 17th century. Aurangabad is known as the City of Gates due to its 52 gates. Aurangabad is famous for being in the proximity of the world famous caves of Ajanta and Ellora which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Ajanta dates back to 100 B.C. while Ellora dates from 5th to 11th century AD. The Ajanta caves have been carved out of solid rock with hammers and chisels by Buddhist monks. The lost caves of Ajanta were re-discovered in the 19th century by British soldiers. Overnight is in Aurangabad.

You have a full day free in Aurangabad for discovering Aurangabad and nearby places. Checkout time is at 1200 hrs. An optional tour of Daulatabad is suggested. Daulatabad which means abode of wealth was a fort city. Muhammad bin Tughluq shifted his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad and moved the entire population of Delhi here but had to abandon it later due to shortage of water. The outer wall - 4.43 kms in circumference once enclosed the city and had three lines of defenses. The fort has been built quite strongly and the only mean of access to the top is through a narrow bridge, with a small passage. The gallery has steep stairs and is covered by a grating. Half way, there is a cave entrance which was to confuse the enemies. In the evening, you will be taken to the rail-station in time for your Hyderabad night train. Night on board.

This morning on your arrival in Hyderabad, you will be transferred to your hotel. Hyderabad or the "Lion City" was established by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1591. The world famous Kohinoor diamond was mined in Golconda. A stroll in the old city through the different bazaars is quite fascinating. Hyderabad historically is a pearl and diamond trading centre and is also called the City of Pearls and its bazaars - Laad Bazaar, Begum Bazaar and Sultan Bazaar are quite busy even today. Do not forget to taste the delicious Hyderabadi biryani.

The afternoon Hyderabad tour includes visits to Char Minar, Mecca Masjid and Salarjung Museum. The Charminar (four minarets) an icon of the city is located in the olden part of Hyderabad and is a square structure with four grand arches and four minarets. The Mecca Masjid is one of the oldest and largest Mosques and is in the old part of the city. The Salarjung Museum established in 1951 is one of the largest museums of India and houses the largest one-man collection of antiques and has a good collection of sculptures, paintings, textiles, manuscripts, etc. collected from all over the world. Overnight is in Hyderabad.

You have free time for discovering more of Hyderabad. One of the important tourist spots in Hyderabad is Golconda. Golkonda was the capital of Golconda Sultanate and the original fort was built by the Kakatiyas in 1143. The fort is on a granite hill and is surrounded by large ramparts. The fort is designed in a perfect system by which a hand clap at the fort's main gates is heard at the top - 300 ft height. The Fort contains the tombs of the Qutub Shahi kings. Golkonda was famous for its fabled diamonds and some of the world famous diamonds mined here are Kohinoor, Darya-e Nur, The Hope, Nur-Ul-Ain, Princie, Regent, etc. Check-out time from your hotel is at 1200 hrs. Later in the evening you will be transferred to rail station for Chennai night train. Overnight is on board of the train.

This morning on your arrival in Chennai earlier known as Madras, you will be transferred to your hotel. The name Chennai was derived from Chennaipattanam, built by the English in 1639. The earlier name- Madras was a short form of Madraspattinam a fishing village. Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu and is the largest industrial and commercial center of South India and also an important centre for Carnatic music. The city is also famous for the Tamil movies and known as Tollywood. Chennai came into prominence because of the British who defended the town against several attacks from the French and converted it to a major naval port.

Today, you will have a full day excursion to Mamallapuram and Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram was the ancient capital of the Pallavas and was the town of a 1000 temples. Kanchipuram sight-seeing takes you through some of the known temples such as Siva temple from the 7th century, Ekambareswara temple, Sri Kailasanathar Temple from the 8th century, the Sri Vardaraja Perumal Temple, the Sri Kamakshiamman Temple, etc. Kanchipuram is a paradise for the shoppers as it offers the world famous Kanchipuram silk and saris.

Mamallapuram is also known as Mahabalipuram or Mamallapattana. This is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and a historic town and seaport. It was also known by the ancient mariners as the city of "Seven Pagodas". Out of the Seven Pagodas, only the Shore Temple survives. Mamallapuram was a bustling seaport and the traders went to countries of South East Asia from here. It was an important port for the Pallavas and most of the monuments portray events from the Mahabharata and date back from the 7th to the 9th century. In an ancient text, this place was noted as Sea Mountain where ships rode at anchor bent to the point of breaking laden with goods.

The tour of Mahabalipuram takes you through the cave temples and mandapams cut in the rocks showing depiction of incidents from Hindu legends, epics and mythology. The temples were built during the rule of Narasimhavarman and Rajasimhavarman. The city was mostly developed by Narasimhavarman. The bas relief Arjuna's Penance with life size images carved on the rock wall is the largest Bas-relief in the world. The five chariots are carved out of a single rock. The twin structure of the Shore Temple is one of the oldest in South India and is worth visiting. The Shore Temple built from dressed stone has bas reliefs, one 100 ft long and 45 ft. high, carved out of granite. Overnight is in Chennai.

This morning, you will be taken around Chennai for visiting the various places of interest. The Government Museum of 1857 is one of the oldest museums of India and has 46 galleries and different sections for Archaeology, Zoology, Geology, Bronze, etc. The Museum is closed on Fridays and other public holidays. The Bronze Gallery with its beautiful statues going back to a thousand years is worth visiting. San Thome Basilica from the 16th century was built by the Portuguese and later in the 19th century was rebuilt by the British as a church. Drive through the Flower and Fruit market, High court, Marina Beach, and other places of interest. Check-out time from the hotel is at 1200 hrs. Late in the evening transfer to rail station for your Tiruchirapalli night train. Overnight is on board of the train.

You will be arriving at Tiruchirapalli in the morning and will be transferred to your hotel. One can feel the holiness of this city in every occasion that gets celebrated over here with great grandeur and pomp. Tiruchirapalli played an important role in the Carnatic Wars between the British and the French. Textile, leather-work and gem cutting are important crafts practiced here. Trichy has a large number of religious places like Rock fort temple, Samayapuram Mariamman Temple, Erumbeeswarar Temple, Nadir Shah Mosque, Christ Church, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, etc. The main festival in Trichy is a harvest festival celebrated in January.

This afternoon you will enjoy a tour of Tiruchirapalli also known as Tiruchi or Trichy. This city was the citadel for the Cholas and was developed by the Nayaks of Madurai and is an eminent city as it is known for its scholars of Tamil. The tour will take you to the Danish Church, Rock Fort a temple complex and a fort built on a rock with 434 steps to reach the temple of Lord Ganaesha and more for the temple of Lord Shiva. This fort complex had witnessed the fierce battles in between the Bijapur and Madurai Nayaks, Marathas and Carnatic forces. It has been said that this fort played a huge role at the time of Carnatic wars that helped in the foundation layout of British Empire. Overnight is in Tiruchirapali.

This morning, you will be driven from Tiruchirapalli to Thanjavur. Thanjavur also known as Tanjore was the capital of the Chola dynasty and is famous for the Tanjore paintings and Bharatanatyam the famous form of classical dance also originated from this land. The Brihadeeswara Shiva Temple which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by King Raja Raja Chola in the 11th century AD. The temple is capped by a monolithic cupola made of a single granite block weighing 80 tons which was taken to the top with the help of a 6 km long ramp, an old technique used by the Egyptians for building pyramids. The walls are covered with paintings from the Chola and Nayak periods. The other places of interest are the Thanjavur Maratha Palace constructed by the rulers of Thanjavur, the Saraswati Mahal Library with more than 30,000 manuscripts written on palm leaf and paper and the Raja Raja Chola art gallery with a huge collection of stone and bronze idols dating back from the 9th to the 12th centuries. After the visit of Thanjavur, you will continue your drive towards Madurai. Overnight is in Madurai.

Madurai is one of the oldest living cities in the world and the recorded history dates back to 3rd century BC. Madurai comes from the word Madhura which means sweetness. The people of Madurai celebrate many festivals and one of the important festival is the annual 10 days Chittirai festival. Rani Mangamma's palace has been converted into Gandhi Memorial Museum and houses the blood-stained garment worn by Mahatma Gandhi when he was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. Mahatma Gandhi had adopted the loin cloth as his mode of dress after seeing agricultural laborers in Madurai wearing it. Meenakshi Temple is in the list of nominees of the "New Seven Wonders of the World".

The afternoon tour of Madurai includes Meenakshi Temple, Tirumala Nayak Palace, Alagar Hills and Tirupara Kundran Rock temple. The Meenakshi Temple complex is one of the largest and oldest in India. The temple was built 2000 years ago and was expanded by Thirumalai Nayak. This is a temple of Lord Siva and his wife Meenakshi. The temple has a Hall of Thousand Pillars with every pillar showing life like features. The outermost corridors have musical pillars of stones which when tapped, produce different musical notes. Thirumalai Nayak Palace was built in 1636 by the king Thirumalai Nayak and is famous for its domes and arches. Overnight is in Madurai.

Today morning you will drive from Madurai to Periyar animal sanctuary which is also known as Thekkady. Your evening is free for game viewing. Periyar is famous as an Elephant and Tiger Reserve and shelters various animals like Bengal Tiger, Indian elephant, wild boar, sambar, tiger, leopard, wild dog, langur, monkeys, etc. It has an abundance of birds and plants. A boat ride in the Periyar Lake gives you the possibility of watching the different animals. The Park is surrounded by various plantation regions for coffee, tea, etc. and a visit to these plantations is a worth. If time permits, you could make a soft trek to the nearby areas. Overnight is in Periyar.

Today you will be driven from Periyar to Kochi. Rest of the day is at leisure. Kochi earlier known as Cochin is referred as the Queen of Arabian Sea. Kochi has remained the popular centre in across the world for the trade of spices for number of centuries. The name of the city comes from Malayalam term “Kochazhi” that actually means small lagoon. Kochi was put on the world map by Vasco-de-Gama. The Arabs, Portuguese, British, Dutch, all have left their impression on the history of Kochi. After Mumbai, Kochi is probably the second most important city on the west coast of India. Optionally in the evening you could enjoy a Kathakali dance show. Overnight is in Kochi.

During the morning city tour of Kochi, you will be taken to some of the renowned spots of Kochi that will include the Portuguese churches, mosques and temples along with the Jewish synagogue. You will be taken to watch the Chinese style fishing nets which are mostly seen in Kerala. It holds around 10m of height and consists of cantilever along with an outstretched net that is suspended in the sea and one huge stone suspended on other end with ropes for the counterweights. Every installation of this fishing-net gets operated by group of six fishermen. Checkout time from the hotel at 1200 hrs. You have an afternoon at leisure. Later in the evening transfer to rail station for Bengaluru night train. Overnight is on board of the train.

This morning on your arrival in Bengaluru also known as Bangalore, you will be transferred to directly to Mysore. Rest of the day is free. Mysore also known as Mysooru served as the capital city of the Mysore Princely Kingdom nearly from the 14th century to 1947. Mysore is known as the city of palaces and quite famous for its Dussehra festival. Mysore was ruled by the Wadiyars except for some time in the 18th century when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan ruled this place. The Wadiyars were great patrons of art and culture which benefitted the cultural growth of the city, due to which Mysore is called the Cultural capital of Karnataka. Overnight is in Mysore.

The morning city tour of Mysore will take you to the Mysore palace that was originally built by the Maharaja of Mysore in the year 1911-1912. The palace is of harmonious synthesis of the Hindu and Saracenic styles of architecture having archways, domes, turrets, colonnades and sculptures. Visit the art gallery. Drive to the Chamundi hill to visit the Chamundeshwari Temple. From the hill itself you will get a panoramic view of the city of Mysore. On your way back to Mysore, visit the Nandi bull. You have an afternoon at leisure. Optionally you could visit the Krishnarajasagar dam and the Brindavan Gardens in the evening. Mysore is a good place for buying the famous "Mysore silk". Overnight is in Mysore.

Today you will be transferred to Bangalore airport in time for your Mumbai flight. In Mumbai you will be connecting to your onward/return flight. Accommodation is not included.
END OF YOUR WEST INDIA + SOUTH INDIA RAIL TOUR