The Golden Chariot

Key Info

  • DURATION 7 nights / 8 days
  • ACTIVITY GRADING Easy
  • BEST TIME TO TRAVEL October to April

Highlights

  • Asiatic Elephant in Bandipur national park
  • Mysore - World of Royalty
  • Belur & Halbid - World of Worship
  • Hampi & Badami - World of Heritage & Architecture.

DAY 1:

Bangalore: A World of Opportunity

The capital of Karnataka is known as the Garden City because of its salubrious climate and greenery. Perched 3,250 feet above sea level, temperatures seldom exceed 30oC (88oF). Founded by Kempegowda, a powerful chieftain, the city is unique with its rich cultural heritage that coexists with its modern day technological and industrial achievements.

Today Bangalore is popularly known as India's Silicon Valley.

Bandipur:

Tread the path of the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore with a visit to Bandipur, about 80km south of Mysore on the Mysore-Ooty Road. The reserve is a playground for wildlife, with elephants taking the lead role. Be prepared for an unforgettable experience - you might see a tiger prowling amidst the mix of deciduous, evergreen forest and scrubland vegetation. Set against the picturesque backdrop of the enchanting Niligiri mountains with its mist-covered peaks, Bandipur was once the Mysore Maharaja's private hunting ground. It was brought under Project Tiger in 1973. This is one of the best game sanctuaries in India to observe and photograph wildlife in close proximity. A temple perched atop Himad Gopalaswamy Hill, the highest peak in the Bandipur range, is worth a visit.

DAY 2:

Mysore/ Kabini/ Bandipur

Kabini: A World of Wildlife

Rajiv Gandhi National Park, Nagarhole (Kabini), the hunting retreat of the Mysore Maharajas, is definitely the perfect destination for wildlife lovers in South India. The excitement starts with a safari into the heart of the park, where you are sure to spot wild animals in their natural habitat. Some of the popular sightings are elephant, gaur, sambar, chital, wild boar and the more exclusive predators like tiger and leopard. A bird watcher's paradise, the park is home to over 300 species of birds, many of which are endemic to these jungles.

DAY 3:

Mysore

Mysore: A World of Royalty

Mysore has been always associated with the royal families and their patronage, be it the Wodeyars or the Sultans. Mysore is a city known for its resplendent palaces and majestic buildings. A visit to the city conjures up visions of the glory, still evident of the illustrious Wodeyar Kings. This former state capital still retains its tradition in music and dance, art and literature and its time-honoured crafts.

A 141 kms from Bangalore, the city enchants you with its quaint charm, verdant gardens, tree-lined boulevards and its sacred temples.

Mysore, once the state capital, today is a vibrant city teeming with tourists and visitors. It is known the world over for its exotic sandalwood and rich silks. Many culinary delights await those inclined to sample the regional cuisine.

Mysore Palace: 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. The magnificent jewel -studded golden throne of the Wodeyars is displayed here during the Dasara festival.

Srirangapatna: The island fortress of the legendary warrior king Tipu Sultan is just 14 km from Mysore city. Inside the fortress is Tipu's mosque with its

DAY 4:

Hassan

Belur & Halebid : A World of Worship Belur in Hassan district 220 kms from Bangalore and 38 kms from Hassan) is famous for its magnificent Hoysala Temple Complex. The Chennakesava Temple here is the major attraction, built by Hoysala Vishnuvardhana, to commemorate his victory over the Cholas. The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures with no portion left blank. It is the only Hoysala Temple still in active worship.

Halebid in Hassan district is 27 kms away from Hassan and was the capital of the Hoysalas. It has one of the finest Hoysala temples. The Hoysaleswara Temple, perched on a star-shaped base amidst lawns, is a sculptural extravaganza. Its walls are richly carved with an endless variety of Hindu deities, sages, stylized animals, birds and friezes depicting the life of the Hoysala Kings.

Shravanabelagola, 52km from Hassan, is an important Jain pilgrim centre. It is home to Asia's largest monolithic statue Lord Gomateswara here towers 58 ft., looming atop the picturesque Vindhyagiri Hill. Every 12 years, Jain pilgrims gather here to participate in a splendid head-anointing ceremony.

DAY 5:

Hospet

Hampi: A World Heritage Site If dreams were made out of stone, it would be Hampi. Hampi has been classified as a World Heritage Center and is one of the major tourist destinations in India.

Hampi, the seat of the famed Vijayanagara empire was the capital of the largest empire in post-moghul India, covering several states. The Vijayanagara empire stretched over at least three states -Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. The destruction of Vijayanagar by marauding Moghul invaders was sudden, shocking and absolute.

Although in ruins today, this capital city once boasted riches known far beyond the shores of India. The ruins of Hampi of the 14th Century lies scattered in about 26 sq. km area, amidst giant boulders and vegetation.

Protected by the tempestuous river Tungabhadra in the north and rocky granite ridges on the other three sides, the ruins silently narrate the story of grandeur splendor and fabulous wealth.

The splendid remains of palaces and gateways of the broken city tells a tale of man's infinite talent and power of creativity together with his capacity for senseless destruction. A visit to Hampi is a sojourn into the past. Most of the important structures and ruins are located in two areas, which are generally referred to as the Royal Centre and the Sacred Centre.

A visit to Anegundi village by traversing the gushing Tunga Badra river on a coracle is an experience that provides the guests with a glimpse into the traditional country life in Karnataka.

DAY 6:

Badami

Badami: A World Heritage Site

Badami is picturesquely situated at the mouth of a ravine between two rocky hills. The exquisite sculptures and the rust red sandstone cliffs of Badami tell many a tale of yore. The first sculptural embellishment to dazzle the eye is the 18 armed Nataraja striking 81 dance poses.

Pattadakal, with its beautifully chiseled temples is a World Heritage Site located on the banks of the Malaprabha River. It bears testimony to the richness of the Chalukyan architecture. Pattadakal reached its pinnacle of glory under the Chalukyan Kings and was once used as a ceremonial center where kings were crowned.

DAY 7:

Goa

Goa: A World of Golden Beaches

Also known as "Pearl of the Orient" and a "Tourist Paradise", the state of Goa is located on the western coast of India in the coastal belt known as Konkan.

The magnificent scenic beauty and the architectural splendors of its temples, churches and old houses have made Goa a firm favorite with travelers around the world.

But then, Goa is much more than just beaches and sea. It has a soul which goes deep into unique history, rich culture and some of the prettiest natural scenery that India has to offer.

Besides the natural beauty, the fabulous beaches and sunshine, travellers to Goa love the laid-back, peaceful, warm and friendly nature of the Goan people. After all, more than anywhere else on planet earth, this is a place where people really know how to relax.

DAY 8:

Bangalore

Breakfast onboard The Golden Chariot - Pride of The South
Reach Yeswanthpur railway station, farewell by the entire crew.


Recommended Luxury Trains

Program 1- Indian Maharaja

Program 2- Palace on Wheels

Program 3- Royal Rajasthan on Wheels


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DELHI

India's capital city, Delhi is the second most widely used entry point into the country, being on the route of most major airlines. It is well linked by rail, air and road to all parts of the country. The remains of seven distinctive capital cities – among them Shahjahanabad and QutabMinar – can be seen. Here, museums, art galleries and cultural centers attract the finest exhibitions and performances from India and abroad. Shopping encompasses virtually everything that can be bought in the country; hotels range from the deluxe to the more modest. Most fascinating of all is the character of Delhi which varies from the 13th century mausoleum of the Lodi kings set in a sprawling park to ultra modern chrome and glass skyscrapers; and from imperial India's Parliament House and the President's Palace to the never ending bustle of the walled city surrounding Jama Masjid. Delhi also makes the ideal base for a series of short excursions to neighbouring places, all connected by road.

The capital of India, Delhi blends an historic past and a vibrant present. The Imperial city planned for the British by Lutyens is set in parks and shaded avenues. Legend has it that Delhi, then called Indraprastha, was originally founded around 1200 B.C. by the Pandavas, the august heroesof the epic Mahabharata. Present day Delhi is built around the ruins of seven ancient cities

HARYANA

This state could well be called a perfect vacation land: A state that blazed a trail of holiday traditions, with its highway tourism policy. The bird named complexes of Haryana Tourism dot the five national highways passing through the state. They also await the holiday maker at district headquarters towns and place of tourist interest. Here you get in touch with Nature. Kick off your shoes and relax with pampered treatment. Eat out at well appointed restaurants. Crowd the icecreamparlours. Gift shops, bars.

Whereas the seventies saw the initial establishment of the tourism strategy and infrastructure, the eighties saw Haryana Tourism concentrate on promoting cultural and pilgrim tourism. The nineties brought in Adventure and Golf Tourism. The turn of the century is seeing Haryana Tourism venturing into privatization, village tourism, development of new locations and the opening of crafts centres. Beginning with one resort in 1966, today Haryana Tourism runs 44 tourist complexes dotted all over the State. The resorts provide a wide range of tourist facilities such as a hotel, motels, restaurants, bars, fast food centres, health clubs, conference halls and recreational facilities like lakes for boating, picnic hides and children's parks. 777 guest rooms are available in the resorts run by Haryana Tourism.

All complexes are dotted with beautiful lakes, picturesque landscaping, golf courses, bath complexes, tennis and billiards facilities. Here Adventure sport means canoeing & kayaking, trekking & rock climbing, camping and river rafting.

HIMACHAL PRADESH

Himachal Pradesh is a tiny hill state whose pleasant summers make it a popular holiday resort. The Raj still lingers in Shimla, the state capital and former summer capital during British rule. Kullu-Manali are neighbouring resorts, surrounded by pine covered hills and lush meadows. Himachal has, in addition to popular resort towns, a series of secluded hill retreats ideal for interested anglers, trekkers and those wanting a quiet getaway. Many of these include: from Shimla – Mashobra, Kufri, Naldehra; those around Kullu-Manali include Manikaran, Naggar and Brighu Lake; the barely accessible valleys of Lahaul and Spiti are a trekker's delight.

JAMMU & KASHMIR

Jammu and Kashmir, India's fascinating northernmost state consists of three regions differing in topography and culture. Jammu was the stronghold of Hindu Dogra kings and abounds with popular temples and secluded forest retreats. Kashmir's capital city, Srinagar offers delightful holidays on the lakes with their shikaras and houseboats.

Ladakh is the northern most province of the state, with a bleak terrain of barren mountains. Hilltop monasteries and a colourful way of life, completely at one with the surroundings, make Ladakh one of the best living traditions of Tibetan Buddhism in the world today.

Amongst the three regions of Jammu & Kashmir State, Jammu, perhaps, offers the widest diversity of terrain and beauty. The entire region is pocketed with lakes and valleys, some still little explored. The foundation of the settlement of Jammu is attributed to King Jambulochan of the 9th century BC. In 1730 AD, it came under the Dogra rule of Raja Dhruv Deva and Jammu became an important centre for arts and culture, now renwned as the Pahari School. Religion, too, played an important part in its development, so beautifully evidenced in its various shrines and temples spread throughout the region.

PUNJAB

Punjab, the land of five rivers and integrated cultural history,is a treasure trove for an avid tourist.For this land of the great gurus not only boasts of ancient monuments but throbs with historical embodiments.It is no secret that whoever comes to this land of yellow fields with blue mountains providing the romantic and picturesque backdrop has never gone back without imbibing the essence of Punjab.

There is no dearth of breathtaking palaces,for Punjab was the seat of royality,as the imposing Quila Mubarak will tell you. Museums galore and so are the religious places with the Golden Temple offering succour to the mind and soul of any one visiting. If you are a wild life freak, then Punjab can take you on a tour of the sanctuaries,which are hot favourites with migratory birds.Since this state borders Pakistan,there are two main posts from which you can peep into the land that was once an integral part of Punjab and experience the feelings of the people separated by a line. The much truncated India's portion of present Punjab is divided into three natural regions :theMajha,theDoaba and the Malwa. Punjab, the chief wheat producing area of the country, is the overland entry point into India. The state is also known for its production of sports and hosiery goods. The holiest shrine for the Sikhs is the Golden Temple in Amritsar, so called because the dome is covered with gold leaf.

AMRITSAR

Amritsar - the holy city of Sikhs, has grown from a sacred village pond intoa spiritual temporal centre of Sikh culture. The city gets its name from thepool-Amritsar (Pool of Nectar), which was constructed by the fourth religiouspreceptor of the Sikh faith. It also lies on the Asain Highway.

CHANDIGARH

The city of Chandigarh lies in the valley surrounded by Shiwalik Hills that hem the great Himalayas. From here one can travel northwards to the hill resorts of Shimla Kulu, Manali, Dharmashala and Dalhousie. Chandigarh is not only the most modern city in the country but has been planned to perfection by the world famous French architect le Corbusier.

RAJASTHAN

Rajasthan, India's desert state, was once a collection of princely kingdoms where feudal traditions still carry on amidst forts and palace hotels.

Bharatpur is famous for its 29 sq km bird sanctuary which has the largest concentration and variety of birdlife in Asia. Throughout the year Bharatpur's native population of tree and water birds can be seen, the latter breeding in July-August. However, the sanctuary has gained worldwide attention as being the winter home of several migratory species including the endangered Siberian crane.

The capital city, Jaipur, was the stronghold of a clan of rulers whose three hill forts and series of palaces in the city are important attractions. Known as the Pink City because of the colour of the stone used exclusively in the walled city, Jaipur's bazaars sell embroidered leather shoes, blue pottery, tie and dye scarves and other exotic wares. Western Rajasthan itself forms a convenient circuit, in the heart of the Thardesert which has shaped its history, lifestyles and architecture. Jodhpur's exquisitely lovely fort, now a museum; art deco royal palace converted into a hotel, and quaint markets, all vividly testify to the history of the princely state. Jaisalmer, in the heart of the desert, is surrounded by sand-dunes which rendered the sand coloured fort impregnable. Today it is an inhabited city whose chief attraction is lacy filigree of pierced stonework facades of private houses, and a series of ornately carved Jain temples.

Bikaner too has echoes of the past in its sandstone palace, temples and cenotaphs. In the north of Rajasthan, Shekhavati is approachable by road from Jaipur. The greatest attraction here are the deserted mansions of local merchants decorated with a profusion of wall paintings. The subjects and styles vary greatly, and are not encountered elsewhere in India. Nearby Dundlod and Mandawa are forts, now converted into charming hotels. Bundi is remarkable for its palace fort and gallery of fine frescoes, executed in the style for which the state is famous.

Approachable by road from Jaipur are Ajmer and Pushkar. Ajmer's pre-eminence is due to the shrine of a Muslim saint who is believed to fulfill one's wishes. Nearby Pushkar has one of the very few temples dedicated to Brahma the Creator. The sleepy town with its placid lake is catapulted into prominence for 10 days every November as India's most splendid camel fair takes place here, attended by thousands of locals flashing jewellery and exuding colour. For the thousands of tourists who visit Pushkar, accommodation is in the form of tents which cater to all budgets.

Also in Rajasthan is the wildlife sanctuary of Sariska where a royal hunting lodge has been converted into a hotel. Sariska's wildlife includes the tiger, panther, deer and antelope.

UTTARAKHAND

Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India in November 2000. Carved out of the state of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand mainly comprises the hilly regions of Uttar Pradesh. The state borders Himachal Pradesh in the north-west and Uttar Pradesh in the South, and has international borders with Nepal and China. A picturesque state, Uttarancahal has magnificent glaciers, majestic snow-clad mountains, panoramic views of the Himalayas, dense forests and the valley of flowers, as well as some of Hinduism's most sacred pilgrim sites. The State's 13 Districts can be grouped into three distinct geographical regions, the High mountain region, the Mid-mountain region and the Terai region. This is the land where the Vedas and Shastras were composed and great Indian epic, The Mahabharatha, was written.

The state is very rich in natural resources especially water and forests as it has many glaciers, rivers, forests, mountain peaks. The famous peaks of Uttarakhand are Nanda Devi, Kedarnath, Trishul, Bandarpunch and Mt Kamet. The major glaciers include Gangotri, Pindari, Milam and Khatling. The Ganga, The Yamuna, Ramganga and Sharda are principal rivers of this region.

The name Haridwar means "gateway to God", and it is from here that the pilgrimage to two famous temples, Kedarnath (Lord Shiva) and Badrinath (Lord Vishnu) starts. It is situated on the banks of river Ganga, at the foothills of the Shivalikmountains. It is one of the four places where the Kumbhmela is held every 12 years. During this fair, millions of devotees take a holy dip in the river Ganges to wash away their sins. It is said that the pitcher of Amrit was kept in hiding here by Devtas when it was unearthed from SagarManthan. The same pitcher was taken to the other places, i.e. Allahabad, Ujjain and Nasik. In the struggle with Asuras the pitcher broke spilling some sacred water (amrit), since then these places became very holy and the Kumbhmela is held every 3 years in these cities in succession. Every evening, after sunset, aarti of the Ganga is performed in Har-ki-Pauri.

UTTAR PRADESH

In Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow was associated with the princely court of Oudh and then with the British, both traditions lingering on in the city whose finest monument is the Bara Imambara. Further east, Varanasi is the oldest city in India. An important centre of Hindu pilgrimage, it is believed that those who die in Varanasi will be released from the cycle of rebirth. Pious Hindus still come to Varanasi to spend their last days, living in spartan communes run by a multitude of religious trusts. The focus of interest to a visitor is the sacred River Ganga. At the series of steps leading down to it, people come to wash away their sins by bathing in the river, the dead are cremated and holy men meditate. In the narrow bylanes of the city are crowded bazaars selling brassware and silk brocades.