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Welcome to another exclusive journey to India with On the Go Tours. Upon your early morning arrival into Mumbai at 00:20 you will be met by our local representative and transferred to the Leela Mumbai Hotel (Premium City View Room) for immediate check in and some rest before breakfast and a transfer back to the airport for your flight to Indore (9W 7025, 10:45/12:10, Economy). Upon arrival into Indore you will be met and transferred to Maheshwar for hotel check in.
Today is Diwali, festival of lights and one of the best known Hindu festivals. We have a full day of activities planned for you today so that you make the most of this wonderful day. Enjoy local guided sightseeing in Maheshwar town (includes visit to Ahilya School, local markets and village visit) as well as sunset boating on River Narmada with tea/Champagne (on prior request). Then in the evening, celebrate Diwali with the in-house guests and staff of Ahilya Fort. Fireworks will be followed by cocktails, wine and beer offered complimentary by the host Prince Richard Holkar.
After a leisurely breakfast and hotel check out we drive 5hrs to Aurangabad. Square shaped, stone homes with smooth edges line the streets in small sections of town. Thousands of travellers tromp to Aurangabad using it as a base for exploring the caves at nearby Ajanta and Ellora. As a result of this constant influx, the tourist infrastructure is better developed in this city than in most throughout the state. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
Today enjoy a sightseeing tour of Ajanta Caves. Nestling in an inner fold of the Sahyadri hills, 100 kms from the city of Aurangabad in the shape of a mammoth horseshoe are the 30 rock-hewn caves of Ajanta, dating from 2nd century B.C. Discovered in 1819, by a group of British Officers, these startling achievements took around 600 years to create. Carved with little more than a hammer and chisel, Ajanta, once the retreat of the Buddhist monastic orders features several “Chaityas” and Viharas. The exquisite paintings and sculptures of Buddha’s life belong to the Mahayana period.
Today you will be visiting Ellora caves and other popular tourist sites. Impressive in their own right are the rock-hewn temples and monasteries of Ellora that lie just 30 kms away from Aurangabad city - a meeting point of the Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. In all, there are 34 cave temples - 12 Mahayana Buddhist caves (550-750 A.D.), 17 Hindu caves (600-875 A.D.) and five caves of the Jain faith (800-1000 A.D.). 22 more caves dedicated to Shiva have been recently discovered. We also visit Bibi-Ka-Maqbara and Daulatabad Fort.
It's an early start this morning as we transfer you to the airport for your flight to Jodhpur via Mumbai (9W 314 departing Aurangabad 07:45/08:35, departing Mumbai 11:40/13:20). On arrival in Jodhpur you will be transferred to Rohet (approx. 45 minutes driving time) where the remainder of the day can be spent resting after your day of travel.
Today is a day at leisure with a car and driver at your disposal. Perhaps you'd like us to arrange a driver to take you to the villages inhabited by the Bishnoi tribe who are staunch believers in the sanctity of plant and animal life. The villages are marked by khejri trees and deer which thrive there. The cult was established in the last 15th century by Guru Jambhoji, who outlined 29 conservation principles. The Bishnois hold all animal life as sacred and the rare blackbuck thrives in their region. At Guda Bishnoi, along the small artificial lake, migratory birds, blackbucks and chinkaras can be seen.
After breakfast we drive to Deogarh. Enjoy a tour of the Deogarh temple with a local guide. The remainder of the day can be spent exploring this small village or the Palace. The Deogarh Mahal is a 17th century palace built by Rawat Dwarka Das, a Rajput Jagirdar. He received Deogarh and its neighbouring areas in a land grant from the Maharana of the mighty Rajput kingdom of Mewar. Today the Deogarh Mahal is a Heritage Hotel run by the direct descendants of its builder. The palace stands at a height of 2100 feet amidst lakes and the enchanting Aravalli mountains. The bulbous domes and pretty arches make the mahal look like something out of a storybook.
Today we drive to make our way to Ajmer, an oasis surrounded by green hills, for a spot of guided sightseeing (driving time approx. 3hrs). We then continue to perhaps the greatest spectacle that takes place in the state of Rajasthan. Our destination is Pushkar and the festival is the Pushkar camel fair. The journey from Ajmer takes around 45 minutes and later this afternoon there'll be time to visit the festival with our guide.
Once a year this sleepy lakeside town erupts into a frenzy of activity, as hundreds of thousands of cattle traders, pilgrims, breeders, herdsmen, farmers and travellers descend upon the town for the annual Pushkar Camel Fair. Enjoy a day at the fair grounds for a glimpse of this authentic cultural affair. Here you can witness the serious business of livestock trading as well as watch (or take part) in some fun activities, such as a game of tug of war, a cricket match, a competition for the longest moustache, and a camel beauty-pageant. There are also plenty of market stalls with local wares on sale, including bracelets, clothing, and fabrics. Today your guide will take you through this spectacle.
Enjoy a final leisurely morning amongst the bustle of Pushkar before our short drive to Jaipur (approx. 3hrs). On arrival into Jaipur check in to your hotel and spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure with a car at your disposal to explore if you wish.
Another early morning as we transfer you to the airport for your flight to Chennai via Mumbai (flight departs Jaipur at 08:10, arrives Mumbai 10:00, departs 11:15 and arrives into Chennai at 12:10). Upon arrival in Chennai it's a further 2.5hr drive to Pondicherry. Spend the rest of the day relaxing after your day of travel.
Today enjoy a sightseeing tour of Pondicherry. This restored, attractive former French colony exudes a Mediterranean aura with its chic streets, whitewashed residences and ornamental gardens. Apart from the charming atmosphere, excellent restaurants and cheap beer, most travellers come to Pondicherry to visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its offshoot, Auroville, 10km outside town. The ashram, whose spiritual tenets combine yoga and modern science, is one of the most popular and affluent in India. An afternoon siesta from 1- 4pm is common with most shops closing at this time. In the evening it is a pleasant activity for the tourists is to walk on the foreshore overlooking the ocean.
This morning we drive from Pondicherry to Chettinad (approx. 4.5hrs). The town is characterized by the eccentric mansions of the Chettiars, which are well worth a visit. The people who became the Chettiars of Tamil Nadu were originally gem and salt merchants and ship-chandlers operating on the coasts of the state when it was a Chola kingdom. In course of time the coastal merchants became financiers and, thanks to their reputation for scrupulous integrity, acquired wealth and power. Enjoy an afternoon guided tour of Chettiandu.
Today drive from Chettinad to Madurai (approx 2hrs). Arrive and check in at your hotel. Afternoon enjoy sightseeing tour of Madurai. The life of Madurai revolves around the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. Meenakshi Temple has a thousand pillared 'Mandapam'. Precisely there are 985 pillars and each of them is delicately and exquisitely carved. Among these are the musical pillars, which produce music when tapped. Surprisingly, these musical pillars are carved out of a single granite rock. The temple has been a hub of Tamil culture and has been sponsoring literature, art, music, and dance in the region for a long time. The temple also has an art museum.
This morning we continue to Periyar, famed for the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the largest wildlife reserves in India. Later in the evening enjoy a Kathakali dance show in the evening. The most popular and sacred dance-drama of Kerala, Kathakali evolved across the last 400 years. This classical dance requires lengthy and rigourous training to attain complete control of the body and sensitivity to emotion so as to be able to render all its nuances through facial expressions and hand gestures. Themes centre on the two great Indian epics - the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. We suggest arriving early in order to witness the artists putting on their make-up.
Enjoy a morning visit to a local spice plantation. We later drive to Alleppey where you will embark on a houseboat. The commercial centre of Alleppey lives in a maze of canals and is one of the best starting points to explore the unspoilt countryside of Kerala. Parallel to the sea are lakes and backwaters with several openings to the sea. This helped develop a natural port, which made Alleppey a famous trade centre. Enjoy the scenes of Kerala as your houseboat plies its course.
Day at leisure enjoying the backwaters from the comfort of your houseboat.
After disembarking from your houseboat we drive you to Kochi airport for the flight to Mumbai - G8 345 departing at 19:00 and arriving in Mumbai at 21:05. On arrival we will transfer you to the hotel.
Today marks the end of your incredible adventure with On the Go Tours. We will transfer you to the airport in time for your depature flight.
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