Deccan Odyssey - India

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Mumbai – Jaigadh – Ganapatipule – Ratnagiri – Sindhudurg – Tarkarli – Sawantwadi – Goa – Pune – Aurangabad – Ajanta Caves – Mumbai

Travel across the heart of India, through the land of the brave Marathas, on a Deccan Odyssey, an imperial ride designed especially for traversing the revellers through the states of Maharashtra & Goa. The royal journey brings to you the images of mythical sculptures, sun-drenched beaches, lush green fields, whitewashed buildings, awe-inspiring fortresses and vast expanses of impossibly-blue Arabian Sea – all with a touch of royalty. Journey back in time and relive the luxury of a regal age on the royal luxury train – the Deccan Odyssey. Travel to beautiful beaches in Goa and Maharashtra, see the grand forts and palaces of the Marathas, Osho Ashram in Pune, ancient architectural wonders of Ajanta, Ellora and Aurangabad. Step aboard the royal odyssey and you’ll step back in time into a more gracious, more splendid and elegant age of travel.

Day 1(Wed): Mumbai (D)
Departs: 1640 hrs

The time has come for you to undertake a journey way back in time. Welcome to Mumbai, a city of dreams that 300 years ago was an agglomeration of seven islands. Modern, yet preserving its antiquities, a short drive through city will reveal this inherent truth. Board the train in the evening at Chhatrapti Shivaji Terminus, which is not only one of the famous Gothic buildings and an integral Part of Mumbai’s skyline, but also a renowned World Heritage Site. Wine and dine in the luxurious comforts of this train and whistle off on your royal voyage. 

Day 2(Thu): Ratnagiri- Ganapatipule-Jaigad (B/L/D
Arrive at Ratnagiri and disembark: 0840 hrs

Return to board the train: 1800 hrs 

Alight in the morning at the Ratnagiri Railway Station an upcoming town at coastal region of Maharashtra state. Enjoy town ride in a luxury bus. Take overview of Thibaw Palace where Thibaw, the last King of Burma was incarcerated by British. Proceed then to Bhatye view point for panoramic view of magnificent coastline of Bhatye beach. Then pass through the landmarks of town & local markets. 

Ratnagiri is also the birthplace of Lokmanya Tilak, the important freedom fighter who was the first Indian leader moved the Indian independence cause from the closed rooms of the intellectuals to the ordinary people, brief visit to the memorial of India’s greatest freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak. Ratnagiri is a land of world famous Alphonso mango. On way visit to see Mango, Cashew Nut, and Coconut plantation made on black solid rock. 

After town visit, it’s time to travel to Ganapatipule by road, an experience by itself. The vast ‘Konkan’ stretch abounds with scenic greenery, red earth and the roofed houses with clean courtyards add a quaint touch to the panorama. 

The serene beach of Ganapatipule, bathe in the golden sunshine and silver moonlight, lapped by gentle foam-flecked waves from the expanse of the Arabian Sea. It’s laced with the unforgettable aroma of fruits, flowers and mangroves. And the timid whispers of swaying coconut tress carry you away into a land, that’s serene, sedate and unspoilt. 

Feast your taste buds over a vast spread of ‘Konkan’ cuisine and spend some time in the company of the locals, who are as warm and cheerful as their surroundings. Even ready to chat with you and make you feel at home. Visit the holy temple shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesh, flocked by millions every year. Walk down the beach to the rune of the splashing waves. 

After sumptuous lunch you can try Tuk-Tuk ride around the Malgund a tiny coastal village and visit the great Indian poet memorial known as “Keshav Sut Smarak or see 150 year old primary school. 

Afternoon board the bus for Jaigad Jetty situated at the foot hills of the 17th century Jaigad fort, high and proud on a cliff with spectacular view of the ocean. Enjoy the backwater cruise in and around Jaigad fort in the mesmerizing silence of the scenic backwater accompanied by an impressive number of exotic birds. Relish an almost unique view of Konkan village life, impossible to get either from road or the rail. This romantic journey brings you back to Jaigad Jetty. Head out towards Ratnagiri in the comforts of the luxury A/C bus. 

Temples, forts and virgin beaches, you would wish you could say a little longer. But the train whistles and you are off to yet another beautiful destination feasting over a royal spread served on board. 

Day 3(Fri): Sindhudurg,Tarkarli And Sawantwadi (B/L/D)
Arrive at Sindhudurg and disembark: 0825 hrs

Return to board the train: 1915 hrs

Next day the train chugs in to the tip of the Konkan coast, Sindhudurg Nagari station. A luxury A/C bus transfers you to Malvan Jetty from the station. Settle in a comfortable boat, arranged just for you, and enjoy the mesmerizing view of flora, birds and caressing waves on the ride to Sindhudurg Fort.

Next stop the one time naval base, stubbornly guarded, till today by the unconquered Ocean Fort of Sindhudurg. As you approach the fort from Malvan jetty past a rocky reef, marvel at the hard work of over 6000 skilled hands that worked round the clock for 3 years. Within its premises are temples dedicated to Bhavani, Mahadeo, Jarimari, Mahapurush and Shivaji. Walk on the two-mile long rampart walls and watch the breath-taking view of the vast open sea as it fires a volley of spray 30ft. below. And at times even 30 feet high, an amazing experience indeed.

Head out to Tarkarli by luxury A/C bus. A virgin beach at the confluence of river Karli and Arabian Sea with silver soft sands and pristine clear waters. The wide river, the beautiful sailboats, the tiny islands, the hamlets at the river bank, all contribute to the picture-postcard beauty of Tarkarli. Enjoy a relaxed lunch at the well-appointed MTDC Beach Resort, complete with twenty ‘Konkani’ style cottages. Indeed a perfect place to enjoy the mouth-watering ‘Malvani’ cuisine and then unwind.

Next stop, Tarkarli Jetty, for a romantic boat ride through the Tarkarli creek up to Walawal Jetty At Walawal visit the Lakshmi Narayan Mandir and feel blessed. Move on to Sawantwadi by luxury A/C bus, situated on the southernmost point of Sindhudurg. This elite heritage destination is the entry point to Goa. The colourful town, once an estate capital, is home to the Chitar Ali. Shilpa Gram is yet another place you must visit. A craft village, where you can watch local craftsmen manufacturing handicrafts and what’s more, you can buy some mementos too.

The evening promises a traditional meal in the train. As the train heads to Goa from Sawantwadi, you will leave behind this coastal paradise rich in history and natural splendour. 

Day 4(Sat): Goa (B/L/D) 
Disembark at Karmali Station: 0825 hrs

Return to board the train: 1645 hrs

As the train pulls in to Goa, get ready to explore an exotic destination frequented by tourists from all corners of the globe. Brilliant lush green fields surrounding village and hamlets, white washed churches standing out against occasional empty patches of startling red soil. Welcome to Goa, the land of India’s finest golden sand beaches, jungle clad hills, imposing ancient churches and elegant mansions, splashed with colour of bougainvillea. Goa is indeed a great collage of sights, experiences and history.

Once in Goa, you can start off with Old Goa. Take a walk amid the ruins, ramble in the vast gardens and grounds of the old church buildings. Visit St. Augustine Church for its serene ambience. Move on to Basilica of Born Jesus, Se Cathedral and the Church of St. Francis of Assisi that began as a mosque but now is an archaeological museum for Goan antiques.

Visit Fontanhas, the Latin quarters at Panjim, the capital of Goa State. Soon, it’ll be time for an afternoon laced with heady traditional music, dance and finger licking Goan delicacies.

The day has ended, but in Goa, it is just the beginning. Non Stop fun, virgin beaches, ancient sites and caves, religious icons and shrines are set deep in your mind as you head back to the Madgaon station. Wine and dine on board the royal train. It’s true, no matter much time you have in Goa; it will always seem too little. 

Day 5(Sun): Kolhapur & Pune (B/L/D) 
Disembark at Kolhapur Station: 0800 hrs

Return to board the train: 1145 hrs

You arrive at Kolhapur, a city with a multifaceted persona and a mythical past. Kolhapur has survived regimes of various rulers from the legendary past to the modern age. The Satavahana Kings, the Shilaharas, the Marathas and the British have all left their imprint on it.

Your first stop is at The New Palace. This Indo-Sarecenic architectural marvel was built in 1881 and houses the Chhatrapati Shahu Museum-a curious array of the former Maharaja’s possessions. Visit Bhavani Mandap, where an immaculate display of martial arts awaits you. 

At the Mahalakshmi Mandir you learn how goddess Mahalakshmi destroyed the demon Kolhasura and how the goddess took abode in a shrine, which is the temple today. The temple complex is adorned with horizontal mouldings and vertifical offsets, creating a rich light and shade pattern. Travel to Shalini Palace on the west bank of the picturesque Rankala Lake to discover the beauty of the gigantic architecture bearing the crest of the Maharaja of Kolhapur.

Head back to the train for a lavish lunch as it chugs out to Pune-the early home of Shivaji, the great Maratha warrior. This city is the erstwhile capital of the Marathas and is also known as the cultural capital of the state. Step into the Raja Kelkar Museum, a quaint Rajasthani styled building with an interesting personal collection of artefacts and antiques belonging to the 17th, 18th and 19th Century.

Disembark at Pune Station: 1945 hrs

Return to board the train: 2130 hrs

You return to the luxury of the train, looking forward to the next day’s destination: the 6th century. 

Day 6(Mon): Aurangabad (B/L/D) 
Disembark at Daulatabad Station: 0815 hrs

Return to board the train: 1715 hrs

Next morning, traveling along the rolling hills and picturesque ruins of the past, you travel way back in time to Aurangabad. Founded by Aurangzeb, Aurangbad’s heritage is rich and varied. After breakfast in the train, a luxury bus takes you to the majestic fortress of Daulatabad. An impregnable defense in its day, it still stands tall and proud. Walk around the ruins, which tell you extraordinary stories of bravery and valour.

Next stop is the world famous Ellora Caves. Just 30kms from Aurangbad the historical Ellora caves in now a World Heritage Site. This Hindu, Jain and Buddhist caves at Ellora are among the finest in India. Lying on the ancient trade route, the caves are thought to be the work of priests and pilgrims who used the route. Abandoned and forgotten for a few centuries, the 34 caves were cut out of volcanic rocks of the Deccan trap. 12 are Buddhist (600 to 700 AD), 17 Hindu (800-1000AD) and five Jain (1000-1300 AD). The Buddhist caves belong to the Vajrayana sect of the Mahayana School. The caves include ‘viharas’ (monasteries) and ‘chaityas’ (chapels) where the monks worshipped. 

The Hindu caves lie in the centre of the group. The most famous of them being the Kailasanatha Temple (8th century). It is the most magnificent of all rock-cut structures at Ellora. Completely open to the elements, it is the only building that was begun from the top. The Jain caves, less grand in comparison to the others are richly carved with lotus, elephant, lions and ‘tirthankaras’ of Lord Mahavira. They offer an aura of peace and simplicity. 

Come back to Aurangabad for lunch at one of the finest Hotel in town.

Move on to the Bibi-Ka-Maqbara, a tribute of the Emperor’s son to his mother. A replica of Taj Mahal, the fairy tale Maqbara stands out as the only piece of Moghul architecture on the Deccan Plateau. Spend some time browsing through Paithani and Himroo showrooms for a perfect memorabilia.Soon, it’s time to go back to the station for a mouth-watering feast in the train and then to travel even further back in time. 

Day 7(Tue): Ajanta Caves & Nasik (B/L/D) 
Disembark at Jalgaon Station: 0730 hrs

Return to board the train: 1245 hrs 

Alight at Jalgaon railway station after a royal breakfast. Travel to T-Junction in a luxury A/C bus. Board the MSRTC eco-friendly bus and it’s time to travel back in time. Soon, you will find yourself surrounded by dramatic views of the Waghora valley where the Ajanta Caves are located. Older than the Ellora caves (200 BC to 650 AD) they are also cut from the volcanic lava of the Deccan Trap in a Steep crescent shaped hillside. 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. 

At Ajanta, the Mahayana group, Hinayana group and the later Mahayana group, complete the spectrum of Buddhist development in India. ‘Bodhisattva Padmapani’. Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara’, ’17 Jatakas’. The Birth of the Buddha’ and ‘The Thousand Buddhas’ are amongst the finest murals and sculptures ever found. The paintings on the ceiling, particularly the elephant scattering the lotus, charging bull, the black princess and the row of dancers with musicians mesmerize tourists from all over the world. After a quick shopping break for artefacts and souvenirs, back track to Jalgaon Station in the same luxury A/C bus. Travel along to Nashik in the royal comforts of the train while the magnificent images of the ancient caves linger on in your mind. Enjoy the mouth-watering spread on board of the royal train.

Disembark at Nasik Station: 1700 hrs

Return to board the train: 2030 hrs

Alight at Nashik Road station with a traditional welcome of garlands, ‘arti’ and ‘kumkum tilak’. Depart for the Panchvati Ghats that is lined with a number of ancient temples that’ll surely impart its peaceful air to you. The Nashik Kumbha Mela, which held here every 12 years, is generally acknowledged to be the most sacred of all the festivals. It is also known to be the largest religious gathering in the world.

Finally, when you head back to the Nashik Road Station, it’s time for the farewell dinner as the Deccan Odyssey moves from the past to the future. Get ready to alight at the most advanced business capital of India, Mumbai. 

Day 8(Wed): Mumbai (B) 
Disembark at Mumbai CST Station: 0815 hrs

Enjoy the breakfast on board as the sun arises over the commercial capital of India. Alight at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in the morning enriched with the rich legacy of this land. The royal journey is over, but the memory of which will live on forever.