CULTURE & NATURE OF SOUTHERN INDIA

Key Info

  • DURATION 10 nights / 11 days
  • ACTIVITY GRADING Easy
  • BEST TIME TO TRAVEL October to March

Highlights

  • Belur and Halebid temples
  • Elephants of Kabini jungle.
  • Nilgiri hills of Ooty.
  • Fort Cochin area

DAY 1:

Arrive Bengaluru

Arrive to Bangalore and transfer to the hotel.

Bangalore, India's sixth largest city is known as the Garden City because of its countless parks and tree-lined avenues. It was founded in 1537 by a local chieftain called KempeGowda, and later extended by Tipu Sultan, the Wodeyars of Mysore and the British. Set at an altitude of over 1000 m, the climate adds to the attractions of this city, now famous as the Silicon Valley of India.

Take a tour of the city of Bangalore visiting the LalBagh which has a variety of old trees, fountains, lotus pools, terraces and an assortment of tropical and sub-tropical herbs. Also, see the Peninsular Gneissic Complex that is home to a 2500-2600 year old rock. You will also visit the Bull Temple with its monolithic bull statue and drive past the government buildings. Also visit the Botanical Garden of Bangalore

  • Optional experience: Victorial Bangalore Walk

DAY 2:

Bangalore – Hassan (161 Km / 4 hour)

Drive to Hassan en-route visiting Sravanabelagola, a hill place of pilgrimage of the Jains, where stands the great statue of Sri Gomatheswar.

DAY 3:

Hassan – Mysore (100 Km / 2 hour)

In the morning visit of Belur. A star-shaped temple with hand lathe-turned filigreed pillars and sculptures will take your breath away. Friezes of charging elephants, each different from the other, mythological figures, military scenes, dancers and musicians, and elaborate decorative motifs charge the imagination.

Built this temple during 1121 A.D and attributed to his king, Vishnuvardhana and queen, Shantala Devi. Even then it is learnt that it took 105 years to complete. If one stands on the platform of the temple and sees around he will see the hills opposite and two big bulls facing the temple and Ganesh afigure on the south.

After visit the temple Halebidu, magnificent temple built during 1121 A.D.From the platform of the temple you will see the hills opposite and two big bulls facing the temple and Ganeshafigure on the south.

Days 4

Mysore

Take a half-day city tour of Mysore, Known for its magnificent palaces, majestic buildings, sprawling gardens, tree-lined boulevards, shimmering silks and sandalwood. Visiting the Maharaja's palace built in 1911-12. The palace harmoniously synthesizes the Hindu and the Saracenic styles of architecture with archways, domes, turrets, colonnades and sculptures, which are truly magnificent. Visit the art gallery and drive up to the 1062 m high Chamundi hill to see the Chamundeshwari temple with a panoramic view of Mysore. On your way back, see the 5 m high Nandi Bull carved out of solid rock in 1659.

  • Optional experience: Of the Kings Trail

DAY 5:

Mysore – Kabini (70 Km / 1 ½ hour)

Private transfer to Kabini.

Stay at Orange County Resort.

Bordered on two sides by the Kabini River, Orange County Kabini is a unique resort built in traditional tribal village style with palm thatched lodges. Providing wildlife and jungle adventures, an Ayurvedic spa, an infinity pool and great food, the resort's stunning position close to Nagarhole and Bandipur National Parks translates into outstanding wildlife experiences and fascinating encounters with nature.

Take a coracle ride down the Kabini River or visit a local tribal village for an insight into the culture of the Kuruba tribe.

DAY 6:

Kabini

Leave to an Orange County Kabini jeep safari into Nagarhole National Park to catch sight of wild elephant, muntjack, antelope, macaques and the occasional leopard or tiger.

In the evening enjoy one of the activities, like Elephant bathing, elephant ride, coracle ride, tribal dance or relax at the scenic Reading Lounge or try a traditional Ayurvedic Spa treatment.

DAY 7:

Kabini – Ooty(160 Km / 3 hour)

"Queen of hill stations". Used to be popular summer and weekend getaway for the Britishers during the colonial days. The establishment of numerous tea estates made Ooty famous. Lofty mountains, dense forest, sprawling grasslands and miles and miles of tea gardens greet the passengers on most routes.

Visit in the afternoon a tea plantation.

Days 8

Ooty

Explore a sightseeing of Ooty, the area Nilgiry has been declared as one of the 14 'hotspots' of the world because of its unique bio-diversity.

Day 9

Ooty – Cochin (320km / 8 hour)

Cochin (Kochi) is spread across islands and promontories in a stunning location between the Arabian Sea and the Backwaters. The city was founded in 1341 when a flood created a natural safe port which became the principal harbor for Malabar Coast's spice trade. Cochin was on the main trade route between Europe and China. The rulers invited people of various religions to settle here, attracting the Jews and the Christians who built places of worship and their own communities.

Day 10

Cochin

Visit of The Dutch Palace (closed on Fridays) at Mattancherry, which was built by the Portuguese , the oldest Jewish Synagogue (closed on Saturdays & All the Jewish holidays) in India, St.Francis church to finish at the historic Fort Cochin harbour area and a stop to view the immense Chinese fishing nets.

Enjoy 02 hours sunset cruise in the Cochin harbor. See the cantilevered fishing and the beautiful coastline from the motor boat.

Day 11

Cochin

Transfer to the airport to take the flight back home.



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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.