One cannot truly understand India’s rich religious and cultural history without a visit to South India, where Hindu traditions have survived strongly. The tour begins with the great rock-cut cave shrines of Ellora and Ajanta. Here the development of Buddhist and Jain beliefs and practices, as well as the transformation of Hinduism, is demonstrated by amazing architecture, sculpture, and wall paintings. Next the tour visits the best and most unique sites of the state of Karnataka. You’ll explore spectacular rock-cut temples at Badami, the fascinating ruins of the 15th-century city of Vijayanagar, and the sculptural wonders of Belur, Halebid, and Sravanabelagola. We continue on to Mysore, which never fails to spellbind visitors with its rich heritage, majestic buildings and palaces, exquisitely laid-out gardens, sacred temple complexes, and broad shady boulevard. The tour concludes at Mamallapuram, a magical realm of historical beauty. Mamallapuram’s claims to fame are the exquisite Pallava architecture of its temples, caves, rathas and monuments, casuarina trees, handmade crafts, and the many unspoiled sunny beaches.
The Vijayanagara ruins at Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. | The extraordinary rock-cut cave shrines of Ellora and Ajanta, whose sculpture and wall paintings highlight the development of Buddhist and Jain beliefs and practices. | The intricate temple architecture and sculpture at Belur and Halebid temples. | Exploring Mysore, city of palaces, gardens, markets, and silk and sandalwood shops. | The Meenakshi Temple of Madurai, with its famous collection of Chola bronzes. | Mahabalipuram’s Rock-Cut Shrines and Shore Temples | Shravanabelagola, one of the most important Jain pilgrim centres.
DETAILED ITINEARY :
DAY 01: MUMBAI
Welcome to Mumbai! Meet and greet, then to the hotel, with an opening lecture in the evening.
DAY 02: MUMBAI
Visit Mumbai’s major monuments and the Prince of Wales Museum.
DAY 03: AURANGABAD
Morning flight to Aurangabad. Visit the cave temples of Ellora, carved out of solid rock by 5th-13th century Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain monks.
DAY 04: AURANGABAD
Visit the Ajanta Caves, set in a crescent hillside over a lush ravine. Theravada Buddhists carved these caves, perhaps as early as the 2nd century BCE, and Mahayana Buddhists continued construction until the 7th century CE.
DAY 05: SOLAPUR
Drive to Solapur for an overnight stay.
DAY 06: BADAMI
Drive to Badami, located in a beautiful canyon. Visit Badami’s glorious rock-cut Chalukyan cave temples.
DAY 07: BADAMI – HAMPI
Morning tour of Badami, including two Aihole Hindu temples and the archaeologically significant 7th- and 8th-century temples of Pattadakal. The 6th-3rd century BCE dolmen and menhir scattered amongst the temples are evidence of the area’s long history. Drive to Hampi.
DAY 08: HAMPI
Tour the fascinating ruins of the 15th-century city of Vijayanagar, set in an extraordinary landscape of giant granite.
DAY 09: HASSAN
Drive to Hassan to visit the exquisitely carved temples of the Medieval Hoysala kings, built in the 12th and 13th centuries.
DAY 10: HASSAN
Sightseeing in Hassan, including the 13th-century Keshava temples at Belur and Halebid, the Hoysalesvara temple, with its lovely carved friezes depicting the Ramayana. The sculptural decorations of these temples are among the finest in India.
DAY 11: MYSORE
Drive to Mysore. On the way, visit Shravanabelagola, one of the most important Jain pilgrim centres. View the 17 meters high monolith statue of Lord Bahubali, built in 981 CE.
DAY 12: MYSORE – MADURAI
Sightseeing in Mysore, including the Maharaja’s Palace, Giant Nandi Bull, Chamundi Hills, and Devaraja Market – one of India’s most colorful fruit and vegetable markets. Overnight train trip to Madurai.
DAY 13: MADURAI
Tour Madurai, center of Tamil culture and the abode of the goddess Meenakshi. A high point of our tour will be our two visits to the great Meenakshi Temple, its gopurams carved with gods, goddesses and mythical figures, all restored to their original polychrome colors. (*)
DAY 14: MADURAI – TANJORE
Drive to Tanjore,Visit the fine collection of Chola bronzes at the Raja Museum and the famous Brihadeshwara Temple, built by the Chola ruler Raja Raja (985-1014).
DAY 15: TANJORE MAMALLAPURAM
Drive to Mamallapuram. Spend the day visiting its famous rock-cut shrines and shore temples. These temples are the earliest examples of monumental architecture in Tamil Nadu and are adorned with wonderful examples of Pallava art.
DAY 16: MAMALLAPURAM
Spend your day at leisure.
DAY 17: CHENNAI AIRPORT
Depart to Chennai airport.