A Compass India Inc. representative shall meet you on arrival at Aurangabad and organize your hotel transfer.
The city of Aurangabad was founded in 1610 by Malik Kafur, prime minister to the Nizam. F called Fatehpur, it was later named Aurangabad when it came under the rule of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who built walls around the city to fortify it from Maratha invaders.
Aurangabad’s best recognized landmark is Bibi ka Maqbara, also known as the “Taj of the Deccan.” Built by Aurangzeb’s son Azam Shah in memory of his mother Rabia-al-Daurani, it finds mention in the accounts of French traveller Tavernier who witnessed its construction during his journey to India. In his writings, he describes how marble for the structure was carried in from faraway Surat on three hundred carts, each pulled by 12 oxen.
Aurangabad is known the world over as the gateway to the Ajanta and Ellora Caves.
Overnight will be at Aurangabad.
Breakfast will be served at the hotel.
Proceed for a visit to the Ellora and Aurangabad Caves.
The magnificent rock-hewn cave temples of Ellora are just a short drive from Aurangabad. The 12 Mahayana Buddhist caves were built first between 550-750 AD. Then came 17 Hindu caves between 600-875 AD followed by 5 Jain caves from between 800 to 1000 AD. Recently, 22 more caves of Hindu origin dedicated to Lord Shiva have been uncovered.
The remarkable Kailas Temple in cave 16 occupies pride of place among the Ajanta Caves. Carved out of a single massive rock by hand, the temple is complete with a gateway, a pavilion, a courtyard, a vestibule, a sanctum sanctorum and a tower. Several generations of a seven thousand strong team of laborers are believed to have worked in continuous shifts over a period of one hundred and fifty years to coax out its massive form from unyielding rock. A stupendous living testimony of the workmanship of the era.
The Aurangabad Caves are a set of twelve with the oldest dating back to the 2nd Century A.D. and show a distinct Buddhist lineage featuring chaityagrihas, viharas and exquisite panels and sculptures depicting the Avalokiteshwara and his consort Tara. Of particular interest is Cave 3 with its extremely intricate columns and sculptures depicting scenes from the Jakata tales that describe Buddha’s various incarnations and Cave 7 with its praying Bodhisattva.
Overnight will at Aurangabad.
Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Proceed for the sightseeing of Mumbai.
The Prince of Wales Museum, (now the Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya), designed by architect George Wittet, was completed in 1915 but served as a military hospital during the Great War, and used as a museum only subsequently from 1922. Built to commemorate the visit of the then Prince of Wales (who was later to become King George V) the museum is among India's finest and houses artefacts from every age of Indian history including the ancient Maurya and Gupta Empires, as well as the 5000 year old Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilzation.
Mani Bhawan or Gandhi Museum is the house where Gandhi would reside during his visits to Mumbai. On display are some of his books and belongings.
The decidedly un-fortress-like business district to the North of Kolaba is popularly known as Fort and gets its name from a long-dismantled East India Company fort that, soon after the Maratha Wars, gave way to the grand colonial buildings which give this part of Mumbai its distinctive architectural flavour. Of note is St. John’s Church, dedicated to British soldiers who laid down their lives in Afghanistan and Sind in the 19th century.
To travellers flying into Mumbai, the city’s most recognizable feature is perhaps the Marine Drive, a long sea-facing promenade that runs from Nariman Point to Malabar Hill in a shallow arc, along the lapping waters of the Arabian Sea. In the evening, the Marine Drive glitters in a stunning crescent of light and is appropriately named “Queen’s Necklace.”
What the Queen’s Necklace is to air travellers today, the Gateway of India was to the seafaring visitors of the early 20th century. Built in 1911 to welcome King George V and Queen Mary to the land of their subjects, this magnificent arch was ironically also the point from where the last British ship departed India after the latter gained independence in 1947. A flight of steps leads down to the sea where motor launches bob in the water, offering short cruises to tourists. After sundown, and weather permitting, the excursion is well worth the fare as the view from the sea towards the dramatically illuminated Gateway is nothing short of splendid. Towards the east lies Apollo Bunder, abuzz with street vendors, fortune-tellers, evening walkers and tourists.
Carved out of Portland Stone shipped from England, Flora Fountain was erected in 1864 and named after the Roman goddess of fertility and abundance whose statue stands at the center of the structure. The fountain is further embellished with carvings of sea creatures and mythical beasts. The traffic intersection where it stands is now called the Hutatma Chowk or Martyr’s Memorial after those who died in the popular, and successful, movement for the creation of a separate Maharashtra state.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Victoria Terminus is one of India’s busiest railway stations and a unique amalgamation of Indian and Gothic architectural styles. The centerpiece of the station is a 160 foot high dome and an ode to progress in the form of the statue of a woman carrying a torch. Movie buffs may be interested to know that Victoria Terminus featured prominently in the Academy Award winning “Slumdog Millionaire.”
In the evening, enjoy a stroll on the beach.
Chowpatty Beach is situated at the end of Marine Drive and while a far cry from what is understood to be a beach in Western countries, there is no denying the carnival atmosphere that descends here every evening. The thin stretch of sand is crowded with numerous street food vendors, happily squealing children, the pious taking a dip in the sea at sunset, couples and evening walkers. Your Mumbai experience is not complete unless you have tasted a tangy-spicy golgappa at Chowpatty.
Overnight at Mumbai.
Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Later, proceed for an excursion to the Elephanta Caves.
The Elephanta Caves are situated on an island to the North-east of Apollo Bundar. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, they date back to the 6th and 7th centuries and get their name from a giant elephant statue found on the site which now resides in the Jijamata Garden in Mumbai.
Cut from solid basalt, the caves depict magnificent figures of Lord Shiva in his various forms. One of the caves features the Ardhanarishvara, a figure bearing both male and female features, representing the masculine and feminine energies that unite to keep the cosmos in balance, somewhat similar to the concept of Yin and Yang. The central cave has a colossal figure of mahesha murthy, depicting the three faces of Shiva.
Open from three sides, the temple lets in slanted light from many angles creating the illusion that the sculptures are moving as the light changes with time.
The caves are accessible by a very steep flight of stairs. It is also possible to be carried up on a chair. Your Compass India Inc. guide will be happy to arrange one for you should you require it. Overnight at Mumbai.
Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Later, you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.