Starts/Ends in: Mumbai
Day 1: Mumbai
Welcome to India and the start of your holiday! Arrive Mumbai, included transfer to hotel. Overnight - Mumbai.
Day 2: Elephanta island
Mumbai - breakfast. Mumbai or Bombay, as it was formerly known - remains India’s city of dreams. Built largely by the British around one of the best-protected natural harbours in the world, Mumbai is India’s strategic economic centre and also home to the country’s Bollywood film industry. Today embark on a glittering city tour, with a morning visit to the cave temples of Elephanta Island sculpted during the 5th to the 8th centuries. In the afternoon enjoy a city tour, highlights include the Prince of Wales museum, Marine Drive, Victoria Terminus, Dhobi ghats and the Hanging Gardens. Overnight - Mumbai.
Day 3: Mumbai walking tour
Mumbai - breakfast. This morning take a guided heritage walking tour, visiting the main buildings in South Mumbai, which form an integral part of the cities architectural heritage. Late this afternoon embark upon further exploration of the city, visiting the Afghani Church and the holy Banganga Tank - an ancient water tank built over a freshwater spring under the Silhara dynasty in the 14th century. The spring is believed to be an underground offshoot of the Ganges, so the waters are considered just as sacred and effective for healing as those of the great river itself. This evening enjoy a leisurely horse and buggy ride along Marine Drive toward Chowpatty beach. Overnight - Mumbai.
Day 4: Fly Mumbai to Goa
Mumbai - Goa - breakfast. Flying south to the former Portuguese enclave of Goa we enjoy some fun in the sun. Goa is reknown for palm-fringed sandy beaches, exotic cuisine and heavy Portuguese influence in the form of white-washed, terracotta tile-clad architecture and Catholicism. Goa can be explored at ease with long sandy beaches in the south and Panaji - the old city in the north. Overnight - Goa.
Day 5: Tropical Goa - all aboard
Goa - breakfast. Mid morning we embark upon the old city sightseeing tour of the Convent and Church of St Francis of Assisi built in 1661 and the Basilica of Bom Jesus is famous throughout the Roman Catholic world, as it contains the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier who in 1541 spread Christianity among subjects of the Portuguese colonies in the east. Late this afternoon, all aboard as we journey north on the exclusive Deccan Odyssey - an opulent train comprising 10 luxurious carriages, each with approximately 4 themed cabins. There are lounge carriages, a dining carriage, bar, laundry and maid service, staffed to the highest standard to ensure you have the experience of a lifetime. Dinner and overnight - train.
Day 6: Pune
Pune - breakfast. Enjoy breakfast as our wagon pulls into Pune, the capital of the Maharashtra state. Pune was chosen by the British in 1820 as an alternative headquarters for the Bombay Residency and many of the British buildings survive. Visit the Raja Kelkar Museum which houses an eclectic collection of artworks and curios and Shaniwar Wada - a 17th century ruined fortress-like palace. Later we tour to the famous Rajneesh (Osho) ashram and Aga Khan’s Palace - the site where Gandhi and other leaders of India’s independence movement were detained for nearly two years. Late evening departure for Aurangabad. Lunch, dinner and overnight - train.
Day 7: Aurangabad and Ellora Caves
Aurangabad - Ellora - breakfast. Much of the old city, seen today was built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1682. Our morning is spent spend touring the majestic Fort Daulatabad built in 12th century emerging dramatically 600 ft above the Deccan plain. It is one of the world’s best preserved forts of medieval times and also one of the few impregnable forts in Maharashtra with excellent architecture. The city was named Daulatabad, ‘The city of fortune’, by Mohammed bin Tughluq, the sultan of Delhi. After time to wander on your own we explore the Ellora caves, a World Heritage site, having 34 cave temples dedicated to three different religions - Hinduism, Buddhism & Jainism. We visit caves No 7 and 8. Our last stop is Bibi-ka-Maqbara, a 17th century mausoleum dedicated to Aurangzeb’s wife, Rabia-ud-Daurani is an imitation of the Taj Mahal, though a grand piece of Mughal architecture all the same. Returning to the Deccan Odyssey we enjoy dinner on board. Lunch, dinner and overnight - train.
Day 8: Ajanta
Ajanta - breakfast. Older than the Ellora caves (200 BC to 650 AD) the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Buddhist caves of Ajanta are also cut from the volcanic lava.
They reside on the near-vertical, horse-shoe shaped ravine known as the ‘Deccan Trap’. Lost to the world after the 7th century it was discovered by accident in 1819, by a party of British officers on a hunting expedition. This morning we visit some of the 30 caves, boasting remarkably preserved frescoes created and painted using minerals, ochres and lime.
Returning to the Odyssey we are served lunch on board. As our wagon strikes west we arrive at Nasik - located on the Godavari River, one of the holiest rivers of the Deccan. We visit the riverbanks, lined with temples and colourful bathing ghats witnessing the countless pilgrims, beggars, sadhus, traders and religious specialists performing their daily rituals. This evening marks our last night on board as we continue travelling westward arriving in Mumbai in the early hours of the morning. Lunch, dinner and overnight - train.
Day 9: Explore Mumbai your way
Mumbai - breakfast on board and onward transfer and hotel check in. Free day at leisure, perhaps a final walk along Chowpatty Beach or a spot of shopping in the popular Kalbadevi and Bhuleshwar bazaars. Overnight Mumbai.
Day 10: Mumbai
Mumbai - breakfast. Hotel check-out and included onward transfer to airport.