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An odyssey to discover the natural and man made wonders of the Deccan region.
Deccan Odyssey
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Deccan Odyssey Tour

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Aurangabad/Ellora Caves
Arrival In Auragabad
The train arrives at the Daulatabad Railway station at 07.30 hrs. Breakfast is served on board before the train reaches the station. Thereafter, tourists board an AC bus and depart for local sightseeing.

About Aurangabad and Ellora Caves
Named after the last great Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb, Aurangabad has a rich historical past. Its strategic location on the Silk route earned it a prestigious place in trade industry. Its significance as passage to the Deccan also earned him the name of Khidki (this was before it was named Aurangabad). Mohammad Bin Tughlaq was so impressed by its location that he shifted his capital from Delhi to Aurangabad.

Though there are many attractions within the city of Aurangabad itself, tourists come here mostly to pay a visit to the nearby Ajanta and Ellora caves. The Ellora caves are little closer than the Ajanta caves, and have been declared a World Heritage Site. Also dissimilar to the Ajanta Caves, the Ellora Caves never lost its significance, mainly because it lay on the route used quiet repeatedly.

Morning Sightseeing
Daulatabad Fort » Daulatabad Fort - The Daulatabad Fort was once a Hindu, or more specificly a Yadav stronghold and was known as the Devgiri. The name Daulatabad was given by Mohammad Bin Tughlaq, who made Aurangabad the capital of India. The fort is quiet famous for its series of trick defense and secret escape routes. The fort itself stands on a hill with the base dug upto 40 feet below. This moat was earlier full of crocodiles, and thus made any attacking army shudder at the thought of getting caught in it. This, and many more defence technique helped to save the fort from enemies many a times. Within the fort, other structures that stand include the Jama Masjid (now the Bharat Mata Temple), the Chand Minar, Elephant Tank and the Chini Mahal or the Chinese Palace.

» The Ellora Caves - The Ellora caves lie just 30 km from Aurangabad and have a total of 34 caves. Out of these 34 caves, 12 are Buddhist, 17 are Hindu and the remaining 5 are Jain. The caves face the western direction, as such they are best visited during the afternoon. The Buddhist caves occupy the far right portion while the Jain Caves can be found on the far left. The Hindu caves lie somewhere in middle. The Buddhist caves were built between the period of 550-750 AD. The Hindu Caves were built between the period of 600-875 AD while the Jain Caves were built during 800-1000 AD.

Cave number 12 (Buddhist), Tin Tala, is a 3 storeyed plain structure with little sculptural work in the interiors, however, its significance lies in the fact that it was carved out of a single piece of rock. The skill of the workmen is evident in every nook and corner of the cave. Infact, even the ceilings and floors are smooth, flat and unbroken. The Tin Tala cave is a spacious monastery with sufficent number of cells to provide shelter to atleast 40 monks.

Cave number 16 (Hindu), Kailasha Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and named after his abode in the Himalayan range, Kailash Parbat. The Kailash temple is splendid piece of work which has been carved out of a single rock. The three storeyed structure has a main mandapa, two giant dhwajasthambas (or pillars) and four sub shrines. Sculptures in the interiors depict scenes and events from two great Hindu epic, Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Cave number 32 (Jain), the Indrasabha Cave is the most beautiful in all the Jain caves. It is a two storeyed structure with its doorway opening up into a spacious courtyard containing a number of mini shrines dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras. Tourists have to climb a flight of steps to reach the temple which is guarded by a dhwajsthamba and an elephant statue.

» Lunch - After a trip to the Ellora caves, tourists are brought back to Aurangabad hotel where they enjoy a delicious meal. Thereafter, they are left to enjoy some free time in the hotel.
Bibi ka Maqbara
Post Lunch Sightseeing
» Bibi ka Maqbara - This is a tomb dedicated to Aurangzeb's wife, Begum Rabi Durani. Since the architectural design of this tomb bears close resemblance to the Taj Mahal, it is also quiet frequently referred to as the Taj of South. It was built by Aurangzeb's son in remembrance of his mother and has a well laid out garden infront like the rest of the Mughal structure.

» Shopping - After plenty of sightseeing, it's now time to do a bit of shopping. Auranagabad is pretty well known for its woven Himroo shawls and Kimkhab weaves. Apart from these two, Paithani sarees are a dream of every women. Tourists can pick up these items from the Paithani and Himroo showrooms. Also, semi precious stones in rough or polished jewellery form, bidri ware and old Mughal coins can also be bought from Aurangabad.

Back to the Deccan Odyssey
At around 17.15 hrs, tourists are taken back to the Deccan Odyssey. The luxury train heads for its next destination - Jalgaon and the Ajanta Caves- at around 18.00 hrs. Dinner is served on board.

Ajanta CavesJalgaon/ Ajanta Caves/Nasik
Arrival at Jalgaon Railway station
The train arrives at the Jalgaon Railway station at 07.30 hrs. Breakfast is served before that. On arrival, tourists are boarded on an AC coach and taken straight to the Ajanta Caves.

About Jalgaon and Ajanta Caves
Formerly known as the east Khandesh, Jalgaon lies in the northern Deccan plateau. It is far more easier to access the famous Ajanta caves from here. The Ajanta caves, like the Ellora caves have been declared a World Heritage Site. The name Ajanta is drawn from the name of a nearby village of Ajintha.

The Ajanta caves were lost in oblivion for centuries before they were finally dug up by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Morning Sightseeing
» Ajanta Caves - There are in total 30 caves here that vary from 35-110 feet in height. These caves include five Chaityagriha (prayer halls) and remaining are Sanghramas or Viharas (monasteries). The caves represent two distinct school of thought of Buddhism, the Hinayana and the Mahayana. The Hinayana followers believed in symbolic representation of Buddha like his footsteps, a throne and a stupa. However, the Mahayana sect was more open and represented Buddha in human form.

Ajanta Caves The Hinayana Caves in Ajanta include Cave number 9,10 (both chaitya caves) , 12, 13 and 15 A(all viharas). The origin of these caves can be traced bak to the period of 1st and 2nd century. The Mahayana phase is also called the Vakataka phase, after the Vakataka ruling dynasty. The Mahayana caves include cave number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29. For a long time, it was believed that cave number 8 was Hinayana cave, however recent research prove otherwise. During the Mahayana phase three Chityagriha were excavated as compared to two in the Hinayana phase. The rest of the caves of the Mahayana phase are viharas.

An interesting thing about the caves is that they are not numbered according to chronology. Rather, they are numbered according to their accessibility from the entrance. In the earlier times the caves could be reached only from the river front by individual staircases. This is not so anymore. Today, a terraced path is used to gain access to the caves.

Back to the Deccan Odyssey
At around 12.45 hrs, tourists are taken back to the Deccan Odyssey. The train leaves for its next destination, Nasik, at around 13.15 hrs. Lunch is served on board from 13.30 hrs onward. After lunch, spend some free time.

Arrival In Nasik
The train arrives at Nasik station at around 17.00 hrs. Tourists are boarded on AC coaches and taken to see some of the sights in Nasik.
About Nasik
Lying at a distance of 200 km from Mumbai, Nasik is the administrative headquarters of Nasik district. The place is important from both religious and historical perspective. It is said that Nasik got its name during the period of Ramayana. Shurpanakha, Ravana's sister had proposed marriage to Lakshman. Enraged, Laxmana chopped off the nose or the Nasika of Shurpanakha.

Historically, the significance of Nasik lies in the fact that it is the venue for the massive Kumbh Mela. There are only four places in India where this event is organised, Nasik being one of them.

Evening Sightseeing
» Panchwati Ghats& Temples - The Panchwati Ghats or the area of five banyan trees is believed to be the same place from where Sita was carried off by Ravana, King of Lanka. The ghats of river Godavari is full of temples.

Back to the Deccan Odyssey
At around 20.30 hrs, tourists are taken back to the Deccan Odyssey. The luxury train starts off on a back journey to Mumbai at 22.30 hrs. Dinner is served on board.

Arrival In Mumbai
The train arrives in Mumbai at around 07.30 hrs. Breakfast is served on board. The royal journey on Deccan Odyssey ends here but the memory of it will stay forever in the hearts and mind of the passengers.

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