- Receive the perfect introduction to India on a tour of Mumbai and its bustling bazaars
- Spend an afternoon at Periyar Game Reserve – a superb spot for viewing elephants up close
- View the famous rock-cut shrines and shore temples of Mamallapuram
- Discover Chalukyan architecture at the breathtaking Badami cave temples
- Go behind the scenes at a thrilling Kathakali dance performance
- Stand before the world’s largest monolithic statue at Sravanabelagola
Fri, Dec 29 & Sat Dec 30, 2017
Depart from the US on Friday, arriving in Mumbai on Saturday.
Sunday, December 31
After a morning at leisure we gather together for an opening lecture and lunch. Touring begins with an exploration of the major sites of Mumbai and a visit to the Prince of Wales Museum. We fly to Aurangabad this evening.
Monday, January 1
Today begins with the cave temples of Ellora, a World Heritage Site, carved out of solid rock between the 5th and 13th centuries. Of the 34 temples, Kailasa Temple is the most spectacular, created by Buddhist and Hindu monks who chiseled out over 3-million cubic feet of stone.
Tuesday, January 2
Touring continues at the famed Ajanta Caves, set into a crescent hillside over a lush ravine. Here, the ancient craftsmen left miraculously well-preserved and vividly colored frescos that tell the story of life in India almost 2000 years ago. We return to Mumbai this evening.
Wednesday, January 3
This morning we take a short flight to Chennai, formerly known as Madras, in the Bay of Bengal. Our visits here today include the Government Museum, Fort St George and St Mary’s church.
Thursday, January 4
We drive to Mamallapuram where we spend the day visiting the famous rock-cut shrines and shore temples. These temples are some of the earliest examples of monumental architecture in Tamil Nadu. We end the day with a performance of the famous Bharatanatyam dance.
Friday, January 5
A morning flights takes us to Tiruchirapalli, once the seat of power in southern India. We spend a full afternoon at the magnificent Ranganathaswamy Temple complex, with wonderful views from the temple walls. We continue to Thanjavur this evening.
Saturday, January 6
We visit the fine collections of Chola bronzes at Raja Museum and Brihadeshwara Temple. After lunch at a Chettinad mansion we depart for Madurai. This evening we are treated to the first of two visits to the great the Meenakshi Temple. Amongst the worshippers, we may be lucky enough to witness the giving of offerings, and even a local wedding.
Sunday, January 7
This morning we visit Thirumalai Nayak Palace and make a further visit to Meenakshi temple. The afternoon is at leisure to explore or relax in Madurai.
Monday, January 8
Today, we explore some of the natural wonders of India, as we spend the afternoon at Periyar Game Reserve. Elephants, deer and exotic birds can all be spotted by the patient observer.
Tuesday, January 9
Our day begins with a visit to the spice gardens around Periyar Lake. We then drive through lush tea plantations to Alleppey. Here we board a rice boat for a wonderful trip through the canals and backwaters before we continue to Cochin.
Wednesday, January 10
Our touring in Cochin, the first European settlement in India, includes Mattancherry Palace, St Francis Church, Cochin Museum and the Synagogue. We enjoy an afternoon at leisure before regrouping to watch a Kathakali Dance Performance with the opportunity to go backstage.
Thursday, January 11
We fly to Bangalore and continue to Mysore. En route we stop at the lovely Somnathpur Hoysala Temple, famed for its symmetrical architecture, intricate sculpture and prominent shrines to forms of the Hindu god Vishnu.
Friday, January 12
Today we visit Srirangapatnam, the summer palace of Tipu Sultan ‘the Tiger of Mysore’. We continue to the Maharajah’s Palace, one of the largest and most splendid in India with dazzling throne room, pavilions, and marriage hall. We then enjoy a drive in the Chamundi Hills before spending some time at leisure.
Saturday, January 13
We drive to Chikmagalur stopping en route at Sravanabelagola, an ancient Jain pilgrimage site. The 58-feet tall statue of Gommateshwara is considered to be the world’s largest monolithic statue. This afternoon we tour sites around Hassan, including Keshava temple at Belur and Hoysalesvara Temple at Halebid. The latter is famed for its wonderful friezes depicting scenes from the Ramayana.
Sunday, January 14
Today we drive to Hospet, our base for exploring the extraordinary Vijayanagara ruins at Hampi. Founded in 1336, Hampi was capital of one of the largest Hindi empires, at its peak the city covered several square miles and was surrounded by seven fortified walls. We explore the temples, pavilions, bath complexes and palaces – replete with the most wonderful art – of this World Heritage Site.
Monday, January 15
We continue our touring in Hampi all today, before returning to our simple but new hotel in Hospet.
Tuesday, January 16
Our touring today takes us to Badami. Here we explore the glorious rock-cut Chalukyan cave temples, located in a beautiful canyon. We enjoy an afternoon at leisure and final, farewell dinner this evening.
Wednesday, January 17
The last day of our tour but by no means the least! We explore two of the Aihole Hindu Temples and the archaeologically significant Temples of Pattadakal, construced between the 7th and 8th centuries BCE. We then drive on to Hubli before flying to Mumbai where we transfer to the airport for departures home or onward travel.
We stay in a selection of hotels in Mumbai,
Aurangabad, Chennai, Tanjore, Madurai, Periyar Lake, Cochin, Mysore, Chikmagalur, Hospet and Badami.
Dr Mehreen Chida-Razvi
Prof. J. Daniel White