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Deccan Odyssey - Indian Odyssey
Virgin Holidays' view
Revisit the golden age of rail travel on this Deccan Odyssey across Rajasthan. Beginning in the architectural splendours of Delhi, you’ll travel in genteel style, taking in the iconic sites of Agra and Jaipur and searching for Tigers in Ranthambore National Park.
Day 1: Friday
Welcome to India! Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel for the rest of the day at leisure. Delhi is a bustling metropolis, which combines the ancient with the modern. Amidst the skyscrapers can be found many monuments which stand as silent reminders of the region’s ancient legacy. Stay at The Imperial Hotel or similar for 1 night.
Day 2: Saturday
This morning is at your leisure until check out which is at noon. This afternoon enjoy an afternoon sightseeing tour of New Delhi, where India’s colonial and Mughal past sit in splendid proximity to the bustling markets at Delhi’s vibrant heart. Sightseeing includes some of the architectural delights of New Delhi, originally created for the British Raj during the 1930s. Much of the city’s colonial grandeur can be attributed to the talents of Sir Edwin Lutyens, the British architect who, over a period of some 20 years, created such architectural gems as the India Gate, the Rashtrapati Bhavan (once the home of the Viceroy of India) and the private gardens in which the palace now stands. This sightseeing tour of New Delhi visits Qutab Minar, built during the 13th century to herald the arrival of the Muslim sultans, Humayun’s Tomb as well as a drive by of India Gate, Parliament House and President House. This evening around 9:15pm assemble at the railway station to complete the registration process and check in formalities before being shown to your delightful cabin. As you settle in, the Deccan Odyssey shall depart Delhi for Sawai Madhopur. (B/D)
Day 3: Sunday
Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan is the alighting point for the famous Ranthambore National Park. The park is one of the finest tiger reserves in the country and the most likely place to spot one of these majestic animals. Enjoy an early morning leisurely breakfast before you set out for your village safari. The people of Rajasthan’s villages are mostly tribal who subsist on farming and hunting. These friendly folk are warm and welcoming, happy to show guests around their villages, giving deep insights into their daily lives. The women here wear bright colours to offset the drab desert, and most people live in mud huts. Visit a local home to interact with the family. Return back to comfort of the Deccan Odyssey where you’ll enjoy a leisurely lunch before setting out for a game drive. Ranthambore is home to several other species as well, you can see herds of Chital and Sambhar deer as well as wild boar, Nilgai antelope and chinkara gazelles. There are also sloth bear, a few leopards and crocodiles. Extensive bird life includes jungle fowl, partridges, quails, the crested serpent eagle, woodpeckers, flycatchers etc. There are also water birds like storks, ducks and geese at the lakes and waterholes. If it’s your lucky day, you could spot a tiger lolling around lazily in the sun, or feverishly hunting down deer around the lakes! After a fulfilling afternoon, proceed for high tea at the Sawai Madhopur Lodge, the former hunting lodge of the erstwhile royal family of Jaipur. After high tea, it is time to head back to the Deccan Odyssey where you can relax with a drink before dinner on board, as the Deccan Odyssey sets off for Agra, the city of the world famous Taj Mahal. (B/L/D)
Day 4: Monday
Arriving at Agra, you will realise that the Mughals were not just the greatest dynasty to rule India but also its greatest builders. After a leisurely breakfast on board, you will visit the Taj Mahal, which was Emperor Shah Jahan’s gift of love to his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and is truly the world’s most wondrous monument. The making of the Taj Mahal is as much a fable as the edifice itself. It took 20,000 men and 22 years to build this unrivalled mausoleum and its exquisite white marble was brought from 200 miles away by caravans of elephants and camels. Lunch at a city hotel before continuing your tour of Agra, visiting Itmad-ud-Daulah, a marble mausoleum built by Nur Jahan, the wife of Emperor Jahangir, in memory of her father, Ghiyas Beg. Sometimes called the ‘Baby Taj’, it is beautifully conceived in white marble, mosaic and lattice. Thereafter proceed to Agra Fort, another outstanding example of Mughal architecture, and the seat of Mughal reign and administration for three generations. The present structure owes its origins to Emperor Akbar who had its first buildings of red sandstone erected on the eastern bank of the river Yamuna. His grandson Shah Jahan, the most artistic and prolific builder of the dynasty, later added the impressive marbled private quarters and the mosque while Aurangzeb added the outer ramparts. A visit to the Diwan-e-Am, ‘Hall of Public Audience’ and the Royal Pavilions is not to be missed. Later, you have the opportunity to visit the local markets to admire the exquisite Pietra Dura (marble inlay) artefacts and Mughal ornaments or as an optional activity you may avail of spa facilities at a hotel before completing your tour of this historical city. Late evening, you return to the Deccan Odyssey for dinner and your onward journey to Jaipur, The Pink City. (B/L/D)
Day 5: Tuesday
Legendary for the triumphs of its proud Rajputs, Jaipur, the City of Victory, is surrounded by the rugged Aravali hills – crowned by formidable forts - and beautiful palaces, mansions and gardens. Royal processions and parades, in all their splendour, graced these palaces and forts once. The city is a colourful oasis in the desert and you will notice a timeless quality to Jaipur's bazaars and its people. After breakfast you drive to Maharaja Mansingh’s 17th century masterpiece, the Amber Fort that overlooks the beautiful Maota Lake. The fort is a sprawling complex of courtyards, halls and rooms adorned with beautiful paintings, precious stones and mirrors. Behold the Sheesh Mahal, ‘Hall of Mirrors’, where a single lamplight reflects in many mirrors, and lights up the entire room, creating a dazzling effect. En-route to Amber Fort visit the Palace of Winds, otherwise known as the Hawa Mahal, famous for its intricate pink sandstone carving and a beautiful view of the city. Thereafter you will visit the famous City Palace of Jaipur, an overwhelming complex of exquisite palaces, gardens and courtyards, decorative art and carved doorways. The palace museum houses collections of rare manuscripts, armoury, costumes and carpets. Walk across to the adjacent Jantar Mantar, the astronomical observatory built in the 18th century by Sawai Jai Singh. A wondrous achievement for its time the observatory gives accurate readings even to this day. Lunch will be at a city hotel. Following lunch you may choose to participate in one of the optional tours. Enjoy spa facilities at a palace hotel or have the opportunity to explore the colourful bazaars of the Pink City which offer a wide range of ethnic handicrafts produced in the city centre and its outskirts. After your full day of delving in the royal past of Jaipur you will return to the Deccan Odyssey for dinner on board as it departs for Udaipur. (B/L/D)
Day 6: Wednesday
The Deccan Odyssey rolls into Udaipur in the morning. Set on the shores of the placid Lake Pichola, Udaipur, known as the City of Lakes, is easily one of the most romantic cities of India, surrounded by scenic hills. Enjoy your breakfast as you admire the picturesque landscape of the Aravali hills. You will then disembark to visit the famous City Palace, the largest palace complex in Rajasthan, with its scalloped arches, fretted balconies, and cupolas, which also houses the spectacular Crystal Gallery. Later, board a ferry to ride on Lake Pichola to reach Jagmandir, a 17th century Palace located on an island on the picturesque lake, for an exquisite lunch. Allow the sounds of the Tabla and the unique Jal Tarang to soothe your inner rhythm as you glance out to the lovely views of one of the most romantic cities of Rajasthan. After lunch, return to Deccan Odyssey for a short rest. Later embark on a Walking Tour through the Old City of Udaipur. Sample the exquisite variety of handicrafts ranging from toys, bewitching puppets, wall hangings, cloth lanterns, handmade papers, jewellery, paintings, painted wooden boxes, pottery, and brassware and terracotta sculptures. Thereafter you return to the Deccan Odyssey for a relaxed evening and dinner as we depart for Vadodara. (B/L/D)
Day 7: Thursday
Today you arrive at the capital of the Gaekwads, Vadodara, located along the seasonal river Vishwamitri. Breakfast over, you will disembark and proceed to visit Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the only complete and unchanged pre- Mughal Islamic city in India. This concentration of largely unexcavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties is cradled in an impressive landscape. Marvel at the Jami Masjid (Great Mosque ) built in 1513 representing a perfect blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture which was a model for later mosque architecture in India. Drive back to Vadodara for a leisurely lunch on board the Deccan Odyssey. After lunch, you will visit the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, originally constructed as a school for the Maharaja's children. Today, art lovers can view a large number of works of art displayed in the museum including a collection of the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and other renowned European Masters as well as a collection of sculptures in marble and bronze. Enjoy high tea at the resplendent Laxmi Vilas Palace, built in 1890, and the residence of the Royal family even today. Reputedly four times the size of Buckingham Palace, its overwhelming Durbar Hall boasts a Venetian mosaic floor, Belgian stained glass windows and walls with intricate mosaic decorations. The palace also houses a remarkable collection of old armoury and sculptures in bronze, marble & terracotta by Fellici. Witness a folk performance typical of the region as you savour some of the special delicacies from the Royal kitchen. Return to the Deccan Odyssey for dinner as it pulls out for Aurangabad. (B/L/D)
Day 8: Friday
Aurangabad, named after the last Great Mughal Aurangzeb, is an industrial town in Maharashtra and the stop from where to head out to visit the exceptional Ellora Caves, a World Heritage site. The city itself has deep Mughal influences and there are several monuments of note here; the Daulatabad Fort, Bibi-ka-Makbara and the city’s 52 gates, each with its own history, amongst them. Today brings a late start, leaving the morning free for you to enjoy a languid breakfast and enjoy some of the activities available on board. Later, as you savour lunch, the Deccan Odyssey arrives at Aurangabad, from where a scenic drive takes you to the Ellora Caves, carved into the side of a basaltic hill 30km 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 centre 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. After exploring Ellora, return to the Deccan Odyssey. This evening relax with a sun downer at the Mumbai-Hi before dinner is served. (B/L/D)
Day 9: Saturday
Early this morning, after breakfast, you will disembark at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station, Mumbai. Bid farewell to the Deccan Odyssey as your royal passage through the grand vistas of India comes to an end. Upon disembarkation, you will be met by a Cox & Kings representative, who will introduce you to your guide for a half day sightseeing tour of Mumbai. Your tour begins as you drive past the stretch of Marine Drive, also known as the Queen’s Necklace. Visit the Hanging Gardens, from where you can get an excellent view of the city. Also visit Mani Bhavan – today a museum, this was the residence of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, when he stayed in Mumbai between 1914 and 1934. Make a quick photo stops at Dhobi Ghat – an open air laundry, which is still popular with the citizens despite the advent of the modern washing machine and Gateway of India – a huge stone Arch of Triumph, constructed to commemorate the first visit of the British Monarch, King George V and his consort, Queen Mary, to India in 1911. Transfer to hotel Trident Nariman Point or similar for your overnight stay. (B)
Day 10: Sunday
Depart for Mumbai Airport for your onward travel arrangements or you may wish to spend a few nights on the beautiful beaches of Goa? (B)
Meals: B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Dates & prices
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Pre/Post Tour information
The first day of the tour is at leisure so allows you enough time to arrive and relax. If you wish to arrive earlier extra nights can be added to your tour in the Maidens Hotel in Delhi. We recommend extending your tour with a few nights on the tropical beaches of Goa.
GMT +5 1⁄2 hours (summer) +6 1⁄2 hours (winter).
- International flights in economy class, including all UK and overseas airport taxes and applicable fuel surcharges
- Private air conditioned transfers and assistance of a representative during arrival & departure transfers at airports & railway stations
- Accommodation in double/twin bedded cabin with en-suite bathroom
- Soft beverages during meals on the train only
- Valet service
- Sightseeing as detailed including entrance fees, still camera fees and game drives
- The services of an experienced local guide in each destination.
- Flight upgrades and airport transfers in the UK
- Items of a personal nature such as alcoholic drinks, soft drinks outside of meal times, laundry, tips & gratuities, video camera fees at monuments
- The required Indian visa - details will be provided at time of booking
- Anything not detailed on the itinerary.
8 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 7 dinners.
- Game drives in Ranthambore National Park in open jeeps
- Guided off train excursions listed in the itinerary.
Optional activities (not included and booked locally)
- Sightseeing tour, New Delhi
- Sightseeing tour, Mumbai.
Occasionally we may need to substitute one or more of the hotels with that of a similar standard.
India is a vast country and journey times between destinations can sometimes be long. Journey times are listed in the itinerary and are approximate.
An Indian visa is required for all British passport holders and MUST be obtained before your arrival in India. Recent changes mean you can now apply for an e-Visa at a cost of $60USD per person at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html, This must be completed between 7-30 days prior to arrival in India, eg if you are applying on 01 Sep then you can select an arrival date from 05 Sep-04 Oct. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your departure date from India and have at least two blank pages. Further information can be viewed on the above link. If you wish to obtain a paper visa we recommend using ‘CIBT’ who will obtain all visas in person, and return your passport to you by registered post. Contact them on www.uk.cibt.com/virginholidaysjourneys or 0844 800 4650.