Heart & Soul of India
This holiday is for those who have frequented India before and are looking for something beyond the typical touristy circuit. During the Gwalior tour visit the massive and most invincible hilltop fort that overlooks the Gwalior city. Get transported back in time while exploring the centuries old temples of Orchha. At Sanchi, visit the rock-cut cave sanctuaries carved into a sandstone hill that stands sentinel-like on the horizon. Travel to the unfrequented Maheshwar for its soaring spires and the many-tiered temples; also visit Mandu which is a superb place to retreat from everyday chaos. Your holiday culminates with Ajanta Ellora tour as it takes you on a totally different level where you discover a world of awe-inspiring Buddhist art at Ajanta and Ellora Caves.
- Explore the massive and invincible hilltop fort of Gwalior
- Experience Satpura forest in variety of ways
- Travel to unfrequented Maheshwar
- Discover inspiring Buddhist art at Ajanta & Ellora caves
- A visit to NGO TARAGRAM, Orchha
- A visit to NGO TARAGRAM, Orchha
- Dining experience at Jehan Numa Retreat, Bhopal
Best time to Visit
Day 1 Arrive – Delhi
Upon arrival at Delhi in the evening, you are received and escorted to the Hotel by a Vasco representative. You are welcomed in the hotel in a Traditional Indian style on arrival. Check-in at 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 2 Delhi – Gwalior
After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Delhi railway station to board your early morning train to Gwalior. Upon arrival at Gwalior railway station you will be received by a Vasco representative and escorted to the hotel for check-in.
In the afternoon, we visit Gujari Mahal - an Archaeological Museum (closed on Mondays), Man Mandir, built between 1486 and 1517. The tiles that once adorned its exterior have not survived, but at the entrance, traces of these still remain. There is a charming frieze here of ducks paddling in turquoise waters. Within, the palace rooms stand bare, stripped of their former glory, mute testimony to the passing of the centuries, the Gwalior Fort, dominates the city and is its most magnificent monument. It has been a scene of momentous events: imprisonments, battles and jauhars. A steep road winds upwards to the Fort, flanked by statues of Jain Tirthankaras, carved into the rock face. The magnificent outer walls of the Fort still stand, two miles in length and 35 feet high, bearing witness to its reputation for being one of the most invincible forts of India. This imposing structure inspired Emperor Babar to describe it "the pearl amongst the fortresses of Hind."
We also visit Sas – Bahu Temples built in 11th century. Another landmark is the historic Gurudwara Data Bandhi Chhod built in the memory of Guru Hargobind Sahib, the 6th Sikh Guru who was imprisoned here by Jehangir for over two years. At the time of his release, he wanted 52 Hindu kings who were his fellow prisoners, released with him. Jehangir was very impressed with the Guru and agreed to his condition. And, finally, within the Fort complex, housed in the erstwhile barracks of the British soldiers, is Gwalior's unique gift to modern India: Scindia School acknowledged as one of the finest schools in India, it is only fitting that the country's young citizens receive the best educational grounding surrounded by monuments to a past which is a constant inspiration. A brief stop at some of the bigger Jain Cave temples then drive to Teli-Ka-Mandir, a brief visit to the tomb of Ghaus Mohammed and mausoleum of Tansen.
Later, we proceed for the visit of Scindia Museum at Jai Vilas Palace. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 3 Gwalior – Bateshwar – Padavali – Mitawali – Gwalior
After breakfast at the hotel, we leave for sightseeing. First we visit Bateshwar valley, which is famous for numerous temples, most of which are in a ruined condition. The popular belief is that the statues found here are the creations of the Mother Nature. The valley is blessed with lustrous greenery, which makes the surroundings serene and mesmerizing.
Later we proceed to visit Padavali & Mitawali temple which are closer to each other. Padavali is famous for the magnificent temple built on the fortress of Padavali. The temple displays classic architecture, which can be equated with any of the famous temples. This marvellous temple depicts ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Ram Leela, Krishna Leela, Mahabharat, marriage of Lord Ganesha, and Samudra Manthan. The image of Lord Shiva dancing in the cemetery in Preta form is a specialty of this beautiful shrine. An abode of numerous Hindu gods and goddesses, devotees will be enriched with devotion by the holy darshan.
Mitawali is 3 Kms away from Padavali. The Indian Parliament is the replica of this temple in Mitawali situated on the hill top. The temple is not only attractive but also amazing from the architectural point of view. This site was used in olden times to teach mathematics and astrology to students with help of Sunlight.
After the visit we return to the hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 4 Gwalior – Datia – Orchha
After breakfast at the hotel we drive to Orchha en route we take a stop to visit Datia, a town whose antiquity can be traced back to the Mahabharata. A town of great historic significance, Datia's seven-storied palace built entirely of stone and brick by Raja Bir Singh Deo in 1614, is considered to be one of the finest examples of Bundela architecture in the country. Within the palace are some fine wall paintings of the Bundela School. An interesting blending of cultures can be seen in the frescoes in a temple; Datia's other attraction is its imposing Gopeshwar Temple.
After the visit of Datia we continue our drive to Orchha, and check-in at hotel upon arrival.
You will relax for a while at the hotel. In the evening we will visit Orchha; a medieval temple town situated on the Betwa River. We explore the 16th - 17th century palaces and temples built by the Bundela rulers; most of them still in their pristine perfection. We visit the fort complex consisting of palaces, temples, cenotaphs, and memorials. Return to the hotel late evening for overnight stay.
Day 5 Gwalior – Jhansi – Bhopal
After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Jhansi to board your late morning express train to Bhopal and in time you will be transferred to the Jhansi railway station.
Upon arrival you will be received by a Vasco representative and escorted to the hotel for check-in. Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh combines scenic beauty, historicity and modern urban planning. It is situated on the site of an 11th century city, Bhojapal, founded by Raja Bhoja. Bhopal today presents a multi-faceted profile; the old city with its teeming market places and fine old mosques and palaces still bear the aristocratic imprint of its former rulers; among them the succession of powerful Begums who ruled Bhopal from 1819 to 1926.
The afternoon is dedicated for sightseeing tour of the city. We will visit a few historical monuments but most of them are just good enough for a quick look and drive past.
We will also visit Taj Ul Masjid which is one of the largest mosques in Asia, built by Nawab Shahjahan Begum. We end today’s sightseeing by visiting the State Museum of Madhya Pradesh. This museum possesses a careful selection of artefacts showcasing the multifaceted rich cultural heritage of Madhya Pradesh.
After the visit we return to the hotel. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 6 Bhopal – Full day Excursion of Udayagiri & Sanchi
After breakfast at the hotel, we will leave for full day excursion to Sanchi & Udayagiri caves. Excursion to Sanchi and witness the masterpieces of Buddhist Art which speaks of the story of Emperor Ashoka’s becoming follower of Buddhism.
Sanchi is known for its Stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D. The most famous of these monuments, the Sanchi Stupa 1, 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.
Udayagiri is 13 kms from Sanchi and 4 km 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 A.D), thus is dating these caves to 4th-5th century AD. The evening is at leisure. 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 7 Bhopal – Bhojpur – Bhimbetka – Satpura
After breakfast at the hotel, we will drive Satpura en route visit Bhojpur temple & Bhimbetka rock shelters.
Bhojpur – Founded by the legendary Parmar King of Dhar, Raja Bhoj (1010-1053), and named after him, Bhojpur, 28 km from Bhopal, is renowned for the remains of its magnificent Shiva temple and Cyclopean dam. The temple which has earned the nomenclature of the Somnath of the east is known as the Bhojeshwar Temple. The temple was never completed and the earthen ramp used to raise it to dome-level still stands. Had it been completed, it would have had very few rivals. As it is, even with the ravages of time, it remains one of the best examples of temple architecture of the 11th - 13th centuries.
Bhimbetka – Surrounded by the northern fringe of the Vindhyan ranges, Bhimbetka lies 46 km South of Bhopal. In this rocky terrain of dense forest and craggy cliffs, over 600 rock shelters belonging to the Neolithic age were recently discovered. Here, in vivid panoramic detail, paintings in over 500 caves depict the life of the prehistoric cave-dwellers making the Bhimbetka group an archaeological treasure, an invaluable chronicle in the history of man.
After the visit continue our drive to Satpura, check-in at hotel upon arrival. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 8 Satpura
Satpura National Park is very beautiful, with diverse habitats and several options for wildlife viewing, including walking, elephant rides, boats as well as the normal jeep excursions and above all else it’s quiet, so a complete contrast to the renowned tiger reserves.
Fauna: The mammal watching is good with sloth bear, gaur and wild dog sightings. There's also a good possibility of tiger, leopard, wolf, hyena, wild boar, muntjac deer, chital deer, sambar, nilgai antelope, chausingha, and Rhesus Macaques. Interestingly it is the only place in Central India to harbour Malabar Giant squirrels and mouse deer. A range of smaller mammals include the Indian civet, palm civet, Indian porcupine, Bengal Fox, Black-naped hare, Jungle Cat and the rare rusty-spotted cat.The bird life is magnificent as well and includes such exciting species as Black eagle, Rufous bellied eagle, Malabar pied hornbills, Shahin falcons, Bonelli's eagle, various species of harriers and an exciting range of smaller birds. The waters of the Tawa Dam are suitable habitat for a range of waterfowl like Ruddy Shelduck and Bar-headed Geese along with terns and kingfishers.
Flora: The flora of the national park consists of mainly sal, teak, tendu, aonla, mahua, bel, bamboo, and a variety of grasses and medicinal plants.
Enjoy morning and afternoon game drives. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 9 Satpura
Satpura offers unique experience to visit the National Park.
You will also get the opportunity to enjoy the bird watching and wildlife viewing by boat, canoe or kayak and ride on the elephants for an hour to visit otherwise inaccessible areas of the forest for close-up views of the mammals. Trips on elephant back cannot be guaranteed, as this depends on the availability; and also, on occasions, elephants can be withdrawn by the Forest Department if their urgent use is required elsewhere.
Enjoy morning and afternoon game drives. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 10 Satpura – Ahilya (Maheshwar)
Day 11 Ahilya – Full day visit of Mandu
After breakfast at the hotel, 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. Later return to Dhar for overnight at the hotel in Dhar. 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 excursion revolves around these magnificent constructs of imagination and love. 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.
Return to the hotel after the visit. Evening is at leisure. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 12 Ahilya – Omkareshwar – Burhanpur
In the morning after breakfast we visit the historic temple town (Maheshwar) situated at the banks of the beautiful Narmada River, Maheshwar is overflowing with its past glory. Spend the rest of the day visiting the ghats on the river bank, the many interesting temples that the city has and undertake a tour the historic Ahilya Fort.
The city finds mention in the epics; it was the capital of the great King Kartivarjun and according to the translation of its original name, ‘Mahishmati’, is the abode of Lord Mahesh or Shiva. This explains the strong and close connection of the city with Lord Shiva.
Next we will drive to visit the sacred city of Omkareshwar so called 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 Burhanpur, check-in at hotel upon arrival. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 13 Burhanpur – Ajanta – Aurangabad
In the morning after breakfast, we will visit Jama Masjid & Badshahi Qila. Jama Masjid is located at the center of town at Gandhi Chowk. It was built by the Faruqi ruler, Adil Shah and completed by Emperor Akbar. Its symmetrical arches and sparsely decorated pillars create a sense of severe beauty, while the two 36mts high minars tower over the mosque's arched compound.
Badshahi Qila is a well fortified fort having many structures added to it, the fort houses the Diwan-e-Khas and Diwan-e-aam maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India are set beautifully manicured gardens which come alive in the evenings with families and young couples.
Afterwards we will drive to Aurangabad en route visit Ajanta Caves ( Closed on Monday )listed as a World Heritage Site and dating back to the second century. The caves contain sculptures and paintings depicting Buddhist religious art. The Ajanta Caves have thirty rock cut Buddhist caves the basic purpose of which was to serve as prayer halls (Chaitya) and as Buddhist monasteries (Vihara). The Chaityas - large, rectangular chambers separated by rows of pillars are decorated by sculptures and murals depicting the many incarnations of Buddha. After the visit we will continue our drive to Aurangabad, check-in at hotel upon arrival. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 14 Aurangabad
After breakfast at hotel we drive to visit Ellora Caves & Bibi Ka Makbara.
Ellora Caves (Closed On Tuesday) are similar to Ajanta Caves and are listed in the world-heritage list. They were built by the rulers of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty and were built in the 7th century AD. The Kailash Temple of the Ellora caves is a masterpiece and the most attractive of all the temples housed in the caves. Carved out of a rock with the help of some 7000 labourers, it took nearly 150 years to complete. The Ellora caves are a mix or both Hindu and Jain faiths and house some amazing and un-imaginable works of art – the likes of which cannot be found anywhere else. Later, before re-entering the hotel, spend some time visiting the city to experience its various sights and smells.
Bibi Ka Maqbara is situated 5 km away from Aurangabad. Aurangzeb’s son, Prince Azam Shah built it in 1678 in the memory of his mother Begum Rabia Durani. This mausoleum is a replica of the famous Taj Mahal. After sightseeing we return to the hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 15 Aurangabad – Mumbai – Journey Home
After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Aurangabad airport to board your flight to Mumbai. Upon arrival at Mumbai airport you are assisted by a Vasco representative and escorted to international terminal to board your onwards flight back home.