THE GOLDEN CHARIOT train named after the famous Stone Chariot in Hampi, a world heritage site in Southern India. Embark on a luxurious voyage of discovery through the cradle of Stone Architecture. Journey through the magnificent World Heritage Sites at Hampi and Pattadakkal, the exquisite temples at Belur and Halebid, golden beaches of Goa and Wildlife Reserve at Nagarhole.
MONDAY BANGALORE DEPART
Report at the lobby of Hotel Taj West End by 4pm for Check-In formalities of Golden Chariot Train Tour, followed by high tea, brief train tour presentation and cultural program. Proceed to visit ISKON Hindu Temple, before reaching Yashwantpura Railway Station by 815pm to board the Golden Chariot Train.
At 9pm train departs. Dinner is served onboard.
TUESDAY MORNING MYSORE PALACE & DEPART KABINI JUNGLE
Morning 10 a.m. pack overnight clothes for night stay in Jungle Lodge. First, drive to visit the early 20th century built Amba Vilas Mysore Palace, whose architectural style is a mix of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles. View the Durbar Hall Wing and personal Art Gallery of the former royalty. Later drive 2 hrs to Kabini Forest.
Arrive in Kabini by 1.15 pm and check into your rooms at Jungle Lodge. After lunch and brief rest proceed for a safari into the Kabini jungles. Rajiv Gandhi National Park, Nagarhole (Kabini), the hunting retreat of the Mysore Maharajas, is definitely the perfect destination for wildlife lovers in South India. The excitement starts with a safari into the heart of the park, where you are sure to spot wild animals in their natural habitat. Some of the popular sightings are elephant, gaur, sambar, chital, wild boar and the more exclusive predators like tiger and leopard. A bird watcher's paradise, the park is home to over 300 species of birds, many of which are endemic to these jungles. In the evening return to the jungle lodge for screening of a wildlife film, followed by campfire and dinner.
Night stay Kabini Jungle Lodge.
WEDNESDAY KABINI BOAT RIDE & MYSORE
Early morning at 6.30 am proceed for a boat ride in Kabini River, to watch crocodiles basking in the sun, and many hued birds flitting in and out of the forest's green canopy. Return to the Jungle Lodge for breakfast and check-out by 930 am to drive back to Mysore railway station (2 hrs) to board the train.
After brief rest and lunch, proceed at 3.30 pm for excursion to the 18th Century built Srirangapatnam Fort, which witnessed many a skirmish between popular King Tipu Sultan and British Colonial rulers. Inside the fortress is Tipu's mosque with its twin minarets, the Wellesley Bridge and the dungeons where British officers were once imprisoned. After visiting Dariya Daulat and Tipu's Mausoleum, drive back to Mysore and enjoy time free for shopping. Later attend a cultural program and dinner at Lalita Mahal Palace, now converted into a 5 Star hotel.
Return to train by 10 p.m. The train is stationary at Mysore Station for the night.
THURSDAY MORNING SHRAVANABELAGOLA MONOLITH
Early morning train departs from Mysore to Hassan Railway station and at 9.am proceed for excursion (1.5 hrs one way) to Shravanabelagola village. Climb 700 steep steps, carved in a stone hillock to view 10th century built statue of Jain Monk Gommateshvara Bahubali- an architectural marvel towering 58 feet high.
Later, climb down the steep steps to board your bus standing at base of the hillock and drive back to Hassan Railway station to board the train by 1p.m. for lunch and brief rest.
NOTE: Guests unwilling to climb the steep steps can stay back on board The Golden Chariot.
Afternoon: Belur & Halebidu Temples
From Hassan Railway Station depart at 2.45 pm. for excursion (1.5 hrs one way) to view ancient Hindu temples at Halebedu & Belur. Belur is famous for its magnificent Hoysala Temple Complex. The Chennakesava Temple here is the major attraction, built by Hoysala Vishnuvardhana, to commemorate his victory over the Cholas. The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures with no portion left blank. It is the only Hoysala Temple still in active worship.
Halebid in Hassan district is 27 kms away from Hassan and was the capital of the Hoysalas. It has one of the finest Hoysala temples. The Hoysaleswara Temple, perched on a star-shaped base amidst lawns, is a sculptural extravaganza. Its walls are richly carved with an endless variety of Hindu deities, sages, stylized animals, birds and friezes depicting the life of the Hoysala Kings.
Return to Hassan Railway station by 7.15 p.m. for dinner and depart for Hospet.
FRIDAY MORNING: HAMPI PALACE COMPLEX
From Hospet Railway station at 8.30 a.m. proceed for excursion (30 minutes one way) to UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hampi Palace ruins. Located in an awesome granite boulder-strewn landscape, Hampi was the capital of mighty South Indian Vijayanagar Empire in 14th Century-with opulent palaces, marvellous temples, massive fortifications, private baths for royalty, markets, pavilions & stables for Royal Elephants. The city's merchants traded in diamonds, pearls, fine silks, brocades, horses and much more. Protected by the tempestuous river Tungabhadra in the north and rocky granite ridges on the other three sides, the ruins silently narrate the story of grandeur splendor and fabulous wealth. The splendid remains of palaces and gateways of the broken city tells a tale of man's infinite talent and power of creativity together with his capacity for senseless destruction. Return to Hospet Railway Station by 1 p.m. to board the train for lunch and brief rest.
Afternoon: HAMPI Temples
At 3.30 p.m. proceed for excursion (30 minutes one way) to 16th century built temple complex of Vithala, dedicated to Hindu God-Lord Vishnu. In courtyard of the main temple is a massive stone chariot, after which Golden Chariot train has been named. The stone wheels of the chariot can be rotated, but have been cemented by authorities to avoid damage.
One of the most notable features of Vittala temple are the musical pillars. Each of the pillars that support the roof of the main temple is supported by a pillar representing a musical instrument, and is constructed as 7 minor pillars arranged around a main pillar. These 7 pillars, when struck, emanate the 7 notes from the representative instrument, varying in sound quality based on whether it represents a wind, string or percussion instrument. Enjoy free time to sit on banks of nearby located Tungabhadra River for sunset view. Depart by 6 p.m. back to Hospet Railway station to board the train for dinner and depart.
SATURDAY MORNING BADAMI & PATTADAKAL
Morning 8.30 a.m. proceed from Badami Railway station for excursion to UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Badami caves and Pattadkal Temple Complex Carved out of sandstone hills. The 7th century built Badami Cave temples are dedicated to Hindu religious sects of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Buddhist and Jain faiths. The highlight of the cave sculptures is a 18 armed Lord Shiva in Tandav dancing pose.
The Pattadakal Temple complex, built between 7th to 9th Century, offers 10 temples built in fusion of various Indian architectural styles. There are numerous Kannada language inscriptions on the temple walls. Return to Badami Railway Station by 130 pm and depart for Goa. Lunch and dinner onboard.
Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the country side.
SUNDAY OLD GOA CHURCHES AND BEACHES
Train arrives in Goa-Vasco de Gama Railway Station early Morning 1 a.m. At 10 a.m. proceed for sightseeing of UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Goa Churches. Founded in 15th century by Muslim Rulers of Bijapur Sultanate and capital of Portuguese Colonial rulers from early 16th to mid-19th century, the town of Old Goa is famous for its churches affiliated to various congregations, including the Se Cathedral (the seat of the Archbishop of Goa), the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, the Church of S. Caetano, and notably, the Basilica of Bom Jesus which contains the relics of Saint Francis Xavier, Later visit an old Portuguese house and time free for shopping.
By 2 p.m. reach luxury beach resort for lunch and at leisure. Option to enjoy sea sports activities at extra cost. Depart from Beach Resort at 5.30 p.m. and drive back to Vasco De Gama Railway Station(1 hr) to board the train and depart.
MONDAY MORNING BANGALORE
Train reaches Yeshwanthpura Railway Station Bangalore by 11.30 a.m. and the tour ends.