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Contrasting Cultures of India

As you traverse through these two hidden gems of India, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, witness the depth of Indian history and experience its profound culture. Spend six magical nights in the heart of India and then exile yourself in the dazzlingly diverse Gujarat. At Ujjain, Mandu and Sanchi, view the finest Hindu, Islamic and Buddhist monuments. The Bhopal Tour offers you a glimpse of the traditional and modern day Bhopal which has shaped up as an important cultural centre of Madhya Pradesh.   Experience the Gandhian way of life as you walk in his footsteps at Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad; visit Patan, Modera and Bhuj, the cultural pillars of Gujarat. Get acquainted to the wilderness in Dasada which offers fascinating vistas of the jungle landscape of the region.

After the visit, we drive to Delhi International Airport to board your evening flight to Bhopal. Upon arrival you will be greeted by your Bhopal tour operator representative of Vasco Travel who will transfer you to the hotel booked for the overnight stay.

After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Vadodara (earlier know as Baroda), check in at hotel upon arrival. The evening is at leisure. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

The next morning, your Vadodara tour starts with an excursion to Champaner and nearby villages.

After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Ahmedabad. Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel for an overnight stay.

In the afternoon, we visit the highly decorated, white marble Hathi Singh Temple, just north of  Delhi Gate, dedicated to Dharmanath. Sabarmati Ashram - Gandhi’s Ashram originally known as Satyagraha & Harijan Ashram – is one of the most important places to visit in Ahmedabad. The Sangrahalaya (museum) in the Ashram includes a Library, Archives & a Picture Gallery depicting Gandhi's life in photographs & paintings. A five minute film on his life can be also seen several times a day. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

You can relax for a while, as later we visit Aina Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) in the afternoon. The Mahal has exquisite ivory inlaid doors, China floor tiles and marble walls covered with mirrors and gilt decorations. Ramsinh Malam, who trained as an artisan for 17 years in Europe, is a reflection of the most exotic mix of European and Indian craftsmanship. Proceed to the colourful Swaminarayan Temple, one of the prominent Bhuj temples located behind the palace. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

16 Days

Route

Start From

Delhi

Ends Here

Bhuj

Highlights

  • In Delhi visit the tallest minaret in India
  • Travel to unfrequented Maheshwar
  • In Mandu we visit India's first marble structure
  • Dasada a hub for tribal heritage and wildlife
  • Visit mirror palace of Bhuj

Optional Experiences

  • Dining experience at Jehan Numa Retreat, Bhopal

Best time to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
June
July
Aug
Sept
Oct
Nov
Dec
Best time to visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
Not advisable

Days

Day 2 Delhi – Bhopal

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi

After breakfast at the hotel, we leave for city tour of New Delhi. We visit Qutab Minar, the tapering monument built in 1199 it symbolizes the supremacy of Islam. This structure was eventually the prototype of all minars or towers in India. Our next stop is Humayun's tomb, built by his senior wife and mother of Emperor Akbar. This is the earliest example of Mughal architecture in India. It is believed that it was this mausoleum, which inspired Shah Jahan to build the Taj Mahal. We drive past the India Gate, Presidential Palace and Parliament House.

 

After the visit, we drive to Delhi international airport to board your evening flight to Bhopal Upon arrival met and greeted by a Vasco representative and transferred to the hotel for check in. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

Optional Inspiring Experiences

Dining experience at Jehan Numa Retreat, Bhopal

In the evening we will dine at Jehan Numa Retreat’s signature restaurant – Under the Jamun Tree – which is a visual and sensual delight, the simple but enchanting style and décor in perfect harmony with the natural beauty of its location and surroundings. Enjoy the ambience and the setting, as for the delicious and very select kebabs and curries served from the house live kitchen, created for a gourmet’s palate. The pleasant environs, a cool breeze filled with the most heavenly aromas and food that will transport your senses into a different world with every bite and give you an experience that's hard to forget.

Day 3 Bhopal

Photo Credit: Nagarjun Kandukuru A local dung-painting her house

After breakfast at the hotel, we leave for the excursion to Bhimbetka to view the rich collection of prehistoric paintings in South Asia. In the middle of a dense deciduous forest there are more than 1000 shelters stretching for about ten kilometers. Half of them have prehistoric paintings while a smaller number of shelters have evidence of Stone Age habitation from Lower Paleolithic period to later Mesolithic period. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

 

In the afternoon we visit Sanchi & Udayagiri. Sanchi is known for its Stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from the 3rd century B.C. to 12th century A.D. The most famous of these monuments, the Sanchi Stupa, was originally built by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, the then governor of Ujjayini, whose wife Devi was the daughter of a merchant from adjacent Vidisha. Their son Mahindra and daughter Sanghamitra were born in Ujjayini and sent to Sri Lanka, where they converted the King, the Queen and their people to Buddhism.

 

Another 13 kms from Sanchi and 4 kms from Vidisha are a group of rock-cut cave sanctuaries carved into a sandstone hill that stands sentinel-like on the horizon. An inscription in one of these states that it was produced during the reign of Chandragupta II (382-401 AD), thus dates these caves to 4th-5th century AD. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

Day 4 Bhopal – Ujjain – Indore

  • 255 km

  • 5 hr

Photo Credit: Arian Zwegers Ram Ghat, Ujjain

Today we leave for Indore after breakfast. En route a stopover at Ujjain, which is one of the seven most sacred city for the Hindus and one of the four sites where the holy festival of Kumbh is held once every twelve years. During the visit see some of the important temples at Ujjain, specially the Mahakaleshwar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of Ujjain itself. After experiencing the holy yet quiet town of Ujjain, continue driving to Indore where, upon arrival you check-in to the hotel. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

Day 7 Maheshwar – Mandu

  • 45 km

  • 1 hr

Photo Credit: Arian Zwegers Local family in Mandu

After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Mandu, check in at hotel upon arrival. Late morning we drive for an excursion to the city of Mandu. Once dubbed the city of joy, Mandu is now a deserted fort atop a desolate hill with tales from the past sweeping through the streets. Mandu, once the capital of Malwa, was constructed by Raja Bhoj in the 10th century as a summer retreat and fortress. Mandu is one of the finest examples of Afghan architecture in India.

 

The golden period of Mandu was under the rule of the Afghans who turned Mandu into an independent kingdom and during this period many temples, palaces and ghats were constructed in the Afghan style of architecture. The edifices of Mandu can be divided into three parts: The Royal Enclave which is basically a group of temples, The Village Group which is the residential area complex and The Rewa Kund area famed as the site of the legendary romance between Baaz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati.

 

Amongst the various sites and places we visit, the most notable ones are the Baaz Bahadur Palace, Rani Roopmati Pavilion, Jahaaz Mahal, Jama Masjid and the Hoshang Tomb.

Overnight stay is at the hotel.

Day 11 Ahmedabad

Photo Credit: Bhavishya Goel Uttarayan festival celebration in Ahmedabad

Early morning after breakfast we leave for a unique experience by undertaking a Heritage Walk through Ahmedabad. We will show you this historic city in such a way that most of city residents too would have missed. This tour is a mix and match of everything. It’s a maze of small narrow streets with impressive array of old houses, wood carvings, water wells. You wind through tiny streets and alleys of one of the subcontinent's most atmospheric cities.

 

Hear and see details of Ahmedabad that are literally not possible to access otherwise, and during the tour, photo opportunities are endless. Being a part of the heritage walk makes you see how Ahmedabad has woven itself around its occupation and religion and still it is interconnected through the secret passages. The walk commences from Swaminarayan Temple and culminates by reaching Jumma Masjid.

 

Return to hotel to get fresh for your journey. Afternoon is at leisure.

 

In the evening we will visit the old city, a maze of crowded Bazaars, pols, exquisitely carved facades temples, mosques & subterranean step-wells. Bhadra fort, southwest of the fort is Ahmed Shah's Mosque, a simple place of worship, built in 1414 on the site of an early 13th century Hindu Temple; Jama Masjid has one of the best examples of the Second Period of Gujarat's provincial architectural development. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

Day 1 Arrive – Delhi

Terminal 3, Delhi International Airport

Upon arrival at Delhi in the evening, you are received and escorted to the hotel by a Vasco representative. You are welcomed inside the hotel in a Traditional Indian style. Check-in to the hotel for overnight stay.

 

Known for its survival against all odds, Delhi the capital of India has been the epicenter of Indian politics for centuries. The delightful ambiance of Delhi leaves a hypnotic spell on the visitors with its old world charm and modern lifestyle that coexist in this city of Djinns. Upon arrival you will experience the newly built state of the art Delhi airport and as the journey unfolds, you will be fascinated by the ancient architecture of Mughal Era while traveling through the crowded by lanes of Chandni Chowk where the sights and sounds of the ever growing city and spicy traditional Indian food will caste a magical spell on you. Several luxury hotels adorn the skyline of Delhi and are known for their traditional warmth and hospitality the world over. The mystic charm of Delhi lies in its architectural marvels and rich traditional background.

 

Day 6 Maheshwar

Photo Credit: Arian Zwegers Ahilyabai Temple, Maheshwar

After breakfast at the hotel, we leave for the half day city tour of Maheshwar. Maheshwar was a glorious city at the dawn of Indian civilization when it was called Mahishmati, capital of king Kartivarjun. This temple town on the banks of the river Narmada finds mention in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Revived to its ancient position of importance by the Holkar queen Rani Ahilyabai of Indore. Maheshwar's temples and mighty fort-complex stand in quiet beauty, mirrored in the river below.

 

The temples of Maheshwar are famous for the unique overhanging balconies. Like temples of olden times in many parts of India, temples here also have intricately crafted walls. And the one thing that will capture your attention will be the exceptionally carved doorway that welcomes you to the world of history. Kaleshwara Temple, Rajarajeshwara Temple, Akhileshwara Temple and Vithaleshwara Temple are the most known temples of the area.

 

We also visit the Archaeological Site of Navdatoli - Situated just outside Maheshwar, Navdatoli is an archaeological site that was discovered in the 1950. In the early stages of excavation, painted pottery and microliths were found. But as they dug deeper, it was confirmed that people of many cultures from Lower Paleolithic period till 18th century have resided here. Structures of washed away houses have also been found that tells us that a big flood would have struck this area.

 

Return to the hotel. Rest of the day is free. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

Day 9 Vadodara – Excursion to Champaner

Photo Credit: Emmanuel Dyan Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadadora

Today morning early morning we leave for an excursion to Champaner and near by villages.

 

Champaner is situated 60 Kms from Vadodara, it was subjugated by Sultan Mahmud Begada in 1484 and made it his new capital. Champaner lies at the foot of Pavagadh Fort. This fort was recently identified and declared as one of the hundred endangered architectural monument of the world. We return to Vadodara in the afternoon.

 

Then we visit some interesting museums and art galleries and the beautiful Kammati Bagh and Sayaji Bagh.

 

Sayaji Bagh - This extensive park is a popular spot for an evening stroll. Within the park is the Vadodara Museum and Art Gallery. The museum has various exhibits, while the gallery has Mughal miniatures and a collection of European masters. Also within the park grounds is a planetarium, where demonstrations are given each evening and there is also a small zoo.

 

The other attractions are Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum (closed on Monday) & Laxmi Niwas Palace (closed on Wednesday). Overnight stay is at the hotel.

Day 10 Vadodara – Ahmedabad

  • 125 km

  • 3 hr

Photo Credit: Nichalp Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad

After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Ahmedabad, check-in at hotel upon arrival.

 

Afternoon we visit the highly decorated, white marble Hathi Singh Temple, just north of the Delhi gate, dedicated to Dharmanath. Sabarmati Ashram - Gandhi’s Ashram originally known as Satyagraha & the Harijan Ashram. The Sangrahalaya in the Ashram includes a Library, Archives & a picture gallery depicting Gandhi's life in photographs & paintings. A five minute film on his life can be also seen several times a day. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

Day 12 Ahmedabad – Patan – Modera – Dasada

  • 225 km

  • 6 hr

Photo Credit: Manoj Radhakrishnan Sun Temple, Modhera

After early breakfast, we drive to Patan, which also used to be the ancient capital of Gujarat. In Patan, we pay a visit to Rani-Ki-Vav. It is a famous step well which was built during the Solanki period in 1063. A stepped corridor compartmented at regular intervals with pillared multi-storied pavilions is its unique feature. It was one of the largest and the most sumptuous structures of its type and time. Befitting its name, the Rani-Ki-Vav is now considered to be the queen among step wells of India.

 

Post Rani-Ki-Vav, we proceed towards 11th century Sun Temple at Modhera. This temple is an excellent example of Solanki architecture. It was built in 1026 by King Bhima I of Solanki dynasty. It is so precisely laid out in an east-west direction that the sun’s ray course through its chambers and strike the centre of the inner sanctum at high noon every day. The carvings on the walls depict a pantheon of Hindu deities as well as scenes from everyday life. After the visit, we continue driving towards Dasada, check-in at the hotel upon arrival. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

Day 13 Dasada

Photo Credit: Uzair Kasbati Indian Wild Ass, Dasada

Early in the morning, we begin Jeep Safari to The Little Rann of Kutch. Highlight of this sanctuary is the Asiatic Wild Ass or 'Gudkhur' that is common to the region and is one of the most endangered species in the world. Other mammals that could be seen are Nilgai, Black Buck Antelope, Chinkara Gazelle, Indian Wolf, Indian Desert Fox and Jackal. It is also is a paradise for bird watchers. The key dry land birds are McQueen's Houbara Bustard, Chestnut Bellied & Spotted Sandgrouse, Indian Courser, 13 species of Larks & Sparrow Larks, 5 of Quails (including Button quails), Thick-knee, Desert Warbler, Desert & Variable Wheatear, Aquila Eagles, Short Toed Snake Eagle, six species of Falcon & Three Harriers. Five species of Vulture have been recorded. Apart from all these you can hope to see Greater & Lesser Flamingo, three species of Pelican, Spoonbill, Demoiselle & Common Cranes, and a number of Ducks in flocks of several thousand during winters. We return to the hotel for breakfast.

 

After lunch, we leave for the second round of Jeep Safari to the nearby Tribal Villages of the Rabari. In the evening gather for dinner and overnight stay is at the hotel.

Day 14 Dasada – Bhuj

Photo Credit: Ahub1988 Ajrakh Block Printing, Ajrakhpur

Today we have an early breakfast at the hotel, drive to Bhuj en route stop at Ajrakhpur. It is known worldwide for the art of Ajrakh block printing. These printing blocks are hand-carved. Ismail Mohammed Khatri’s traditional expertise in block-printing and natural dyes was given due recognition when De Montfort University of Leicester presented this skilled craftsman with an honorary doctorate in textiles. We visit a weaver’s house to watch them at work.

 

Then we proceed to Bhujodi, a major textile center of Kutch with the vast majority of 1200 inhabitants are involved in textile handicraft production. Here, weavers produce traditional shawls, stoles, textiles and carpets with traditional motifs on pits and shuttle looms in local wool cottons and silks. Later, we drive a short distance to Bhuj and check-in at the hotel.

 

You can relax for a while, as later we visit Aina Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) in the afternoon. The Mahal has exquisite ivory inlaid doors, China floor tiles and marble walls covered with mirrors and gilt decorations. Ramsinh Malam, who trained as an artisan for 17 years in Europe, is a reflection of the most exotic mix of European and Indian craftsmanship. Proceed to the colourful Swaminarayan Temple located behind the palace. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

Day 16 Bhuj – Mumbai (By Flight) - Journey Home

Breakfast is at the hotel. In time you will be transferred to Bhuj airport to board your evening flight to Mumbai.

 

You will be assisted by a Vasco representative at the Mumbai airport and in time transferred to the International terminal to board your flight back home.

Day 5 Indore – Omkareshwar – Maheshwar

  • 165 km

  • 4.5 hr

Photo Credit: YashiWong Shiva Statue in Omkareshwar

After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Maheshwar en route visit sacred city of Omkareshwar. Sacred because the island on which it is situated is shaped like an ‘Om’. The site houses a Hindu temple and is one of the twelve enshrined ‘Jyotirlingam’ shrines of the Lord Shiva. The main temple is that of Omkareshwar whereas the other is the Amareshwar – ‘lord of the immortals’. Omkareshwar lies at the meeting point of the rivers Narmada and the Kaveri and is as scenic as it is holy. Soak in the experience of this sacred site set amidst the true rustic India.

 

After visiting the township of Omkareshwar, we drive to Maheshwar, check in at hotel upon arrival.

Overnight stay is at the hotel.

Day 8 Mandu – Vadodara

  • 400 km

  • 8 hr

Photo Credit: Sudhamshu Hebbar Sunset at Vadodara

After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Vadodara (earlier know as Baroda), check in at hotel upon arrival. The evening is at leisure. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

 

Baroda State was a princely state in present-day Gujarat, ruled by the Gaekwad dynasty of the Maratha Confederacy from its formation in 1721 until 1949 when it acceded to the newly formed Union of India. With the city of Baroda (Vadodara) as its capital, during the British Raj its relations with the British were managed by the Baroda Residency. It was one of the largest and wealthiest princely states existing alongside British India.

Day 15 Bhuj

Photo Credit: Vikas Abbott Local artisan at work

Today, we leave for a full day excursion to Banni Villages. Banni area is famous for Handicrafts like Embroidery, Patch Work, Tie & Dye Fabrics, Leather Embroidery and other handicrafts. This area is a riot of colours. One can also visit close by villages like Brindriara, Juara, Hodko, Dumado and Dhordo. Here, each village has its own identity of craft and embroidery. Overnight stay is at the hotel.

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