Welcome to Jewels of the Deccan, an 8-day journey through India’s Deccan plateau on India’s premier luxury train, the Deccan Odyssey. This journey takes you through tales and architectural wonders of the Adil Shahi dynasty in Bijapur, the Chalukyan in Aihole & Pattadakal, the powerful Vijayanagara kingdom in Hampi, the contrasting styles of the Qutb Shahi dynasty of Golconda and the Asaf Jahi, and visits to some of the most prominent and unexplored destinations of west-central India, with a trip to the unrivaled Ajanta & Ellora Caves. Sprinkled among these stories and fables are visits to quaint little towns, famed for hand-operated looms that weave vast quantities of beautiful fabric, and samplings of some of the best Dakkhani cuisine. A rail journey in a land like no other, we welcome you aboard the Deccan Odyssey.
Extend your journey in Mumbai with a stay at our fabulous Virtuoso partner hotel: Taj Mahal Palace.
Day 1: Mumbai to Bijapur
Board the Deccan Odyssey at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station mid-afternoon and begin your enchanting journey from Mumbai to Bijapur. Savor a delicious dinner on board.
Day 2: Bijapur
Enjoy breakfast this morning as the Deccan Odyssey arrives at Bijapur, the historic capital of the Sultans of Deccan.
After breakfast, head to the Gol Gumbaz, literally ‘round dome,’ the second largest tomb in the world. The mausoleum of Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur, is a structural triumph of Deccan architecture, with a circular gallery where even the tiniest whispers are magnified due to the unique acoustics of the dome.
Next, head to the Jumma Masjid, known as one of the first mosques in India, and then to Malik-e-Maidan, the largest medieval cannon in the world. Legend has it that if you touch the gun and make a wish, it will come true!
The journey continues with a visit to Mehtar Mahal, a 17th century ornamental gateway to a mosque. Then, drive to and explore Ibrahim Rouza, considered to be among the most elegant Islamic monuments in India. Its 24 meter (approximately 80 feet) high minarets are said to have inspired those of the Taj Mahal. Return to the Deccan Odyssey for lunch.
Spend the evening marveling at the subtly changing shades of the formidable granite landscape as the Deccan Odyssey snakes its way through the Deccan plateau toward Aihole & Pattadakal.
Day 3: Aihole & Pattadakal
After an early breakfast, head out to explore the temples and ancient settlements of Aihole and Pattadakal, one of the world’s largest temple complexes.
Aihole is often called the cradle of Indian architecture. Explore a few of over 70 unique rock-cut temples, constructed by the Chalukyan kings in a completely experimental style.
Continue on to Pattadakal, situated on the banks of the Malaprabha River, and explore the architectural style that combines forms from Southern India (Dravidian) and Northern India (Nagara).
After lunch on board, choose to participate in an optional tour to the lovely weaving village of Guledgud, famous for its hand and power looms of ilkal and khann. Observe the weaving process and head to an outlet where you can pick up lovely souvenirs to bring home. Alternately, choose to visit the rock cut caves and sculptured temples in Badami.
Return to the Deccan Odyssey for dinner as you make your way to Hampi.
Day 4: Hampi
This morning as you enjoy breakfast, the Deccan Odyssey rolls into Hospet. Today you will visit Hampi, the iconic “City of Victory” and a World Heritage site, famous for its splendid architecture and sculptures.
A short drive quickly changes the landscape from a bustling city to sentient massive boulders as you reach Hampi. Stop at the Narasimha statue and spend some time taking pictures and looking around.
Next, head to the mustard statue of Ganesh, located at the base of the Hemkuta hills. Take in the breathtaking vistas around the hills with their little caves and alcoves. Stroll along the banks of the Tungabhadra River and visit the Virupaksha temple and famed Vittala temple, the polar power sites of Hampi; one is a living temple, and the other is a most extravagant architectural showpiece.
Later, head back to Hospet for lunch on board the Deccan Odyssey.
After lunch, disembark once more to continue your exploration, reaching the Royal Center at Hampi. This area was the citadel of the Vijayanagara kings and encompasses courtly and military structures. Visit the Queen’s Bath, the Stepped Tank, the Mahanavami Dibba (or great platform), the Hazararama Temple, the Queen’s Enclosure with its Lotus Mahal, and the Elephant stables.
After a full day of visiting the wonders of Hampi, return to the Hospet station. Board the Deccan Odyssey for your onward journey to Hyderabad as you sit down at dinner.
Day 5: Hyderabad
This morning, the Deccan Odyssey rolls into the royal city of the Nizams: Hyderabad. There are many legends over how this capital of the Asaf Jahi dynasty received its name. One of the more interesting ones is that it was named after Bhagmati, the Hindu wife of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, who converted to Islam and changed her name to Hyder Mahal.
After an early breakfast this morning, disembark and drive toward Golconda, the epitome of Nizami culture and grandeur. Originally a mud fort, it soon gained prominence as the center of the Qutub Shahi dynasty. Return to the Deccan Odyssey for lunch and a little rest.
Alternately, you could take an optional shopping tour. Hyderabad is a city known for its pearls, lac bangles, and custom-made oil-based fragrances, or “ittars,” among other special items. Spend your morning shopping and follow it up with lunch, featuring the famed dish Hyderabadi Biryani.
Continue on to Falaknuma Palace, which translates to “like the sky,” as it stands tall, reaching for the clouds. Take a tour of this beautiful palace, followed by a sumptuous high tea.
Later, explore the old city area of Charminar and its bustling bazaars. Standing tall in the center of the city, the iconic Charminar is one of the most recognized structures of India. This mosque was built by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah after a plague epidemic had finally ceased in Hyderabad. Walk through Laad Bazaar for the local jewelry, especially exquisite bangles, and to Pather Gatti for the famous Deccan pearls.
Return to the Deccan Odyssey for dinner and a restful evening as the train departs Hyderabad for Aurangabad.
Day 6: Aurangabad & Ellora Caves
As you enjoy lunch, the Deccan Odyssey arrives at Aurangabad. From here, a scenic drive takes you to the Ellora Caves, a World Heritage Site, carved into the side of a basaltic hill 30 km (about 19 mi) from the city. The finest specimen of cave-temple architecture in India, the site encompasses 34 rock-cut shrines representing Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu art dating from the 4th to 5th century AD. The 12 caves to the south are Buddhist, the 17 in the center are Hindu, and the 5 caves to the north are Jain. The most remarkable is the Kailash temple, meant to be a replica of Shiva’s celestial abode on Mt. Kailash. It is the best example of rock-cut architecture and an engineering marvel.
Later, savor leisure time on board as the hinterland of Maharashtra sweeps past, with its ever-changing colors and landscape.
In the evening, sit back, unwind, and enjoy cocktails fixed by our bartender on board, followed by a magnificent dinner and well-deserved rest as the Deccan Odyssey proceeds toward Jalgaon to visit the exquisite Ajanta Caves.
Day 7: Ajanta Caves
The Deccan Odyssey arrives at Jalgaon station this morning. After breakfast on board, you will disembark and drive to the Ajanta Caves, another World Heritage site and an architectural marvel. The 30 rock-hewn Buddhist caves at Ajanta have been masterfully carved and are adorned with sculptures and paintings of Buddhist religious art, depicting a fusion between the Buddhist and Hindu faiths.
Lunch will be on board the Deccan Odyssey. The rest of the day is at leisure for you to relax.
In the evening, watch the tapestry of rural India unfold as you sip a sun downer before dinner and the train makes its last leg of the journey to Mumbai.
Day 8: Mumbai
After an early breakfast, disembark in Mumbai and bid farewell to the Deccan Odyssey as your royal passage through the grand vistas of India comes to an end.
2019 Dates:February 16
2020 Dates:February 15
Twin / Double
Pricing is per person and does not include 5% service tax. Government tax rate subject to change without notice.
Note: prices are increasing as follows for all departures beginning fall 2019:
Deluxe Cabin: for Double Occupancy, $4,830 per person; for Single Occupancy, $6,734 per person
Presidential Suite: for Double Occupancy, $7,292 per person; for Single Occupancy, $14,584 per person
25% deposit required to book.
Medical & evacuation insurance is required for this journey.
An Indian visa is required for U.S. citizens.
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