Meeting upon arrival at the International airport by our representative & transfer to hotel. Mumbai (Bombay) is the vibrant and pulsating capital of Maharashtra. For over a century, Mumbai has been a commercial and industrial centre of India with a magnificent harbour, imposing multi-storeyed buildings, crowded thoroughfares, busy markets, shopping centers and beautiful tourist spots. The British acquired Mumbai from the Portuguese in 1665 and handed it over to the East India Company in 1671 for a handsome annual rent of Sterling Pounds 10 in Gold! Later, these seven islands were joined together by causeways and bridges in 1862.
After breakfast at the hotel, proceed for an excursion to Elephanta Caves.
The Elephanta Caves is 22 Kms off the coast of Bombay and an hour’s ride by motor launch from the Gateway of India. The cave temples of Elephanta date back to the 7th century. Four rows of massive columns cut into solid rock form three magnificent avenues, leading to the outstanding three-headed sculpture representing Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. Dedicated to Shiva, the beauty and power of these phenomenal sculptures, depicting the various manifestations of Shiva, is overpowering. Afternoon: City tour of Mumbai visiting the 19th century Jain Temple with its silver doors, the Kamala Nehru Park and the Ferozshah Mehta Gardens known as the Hanging Gardens of Bombay and the Towers of Silence where the Parsis dispose their dead. Visit Mani Bhavan where Mahatma Gandhi spent 17 years of his life working for the freedom of India. The Prince of Wales Museum has an excellent collection of miniatures.
After breakfast at the hotel, proceed for full day excursion to Ajanta caves. The Ajanta caves are located 100 kms northeast of Aurangabad in the Waghora Valley. These magnificent rock-cut caves, 30 in number, date from 2nd Century BC to 7th Century AD. They are exclusively Buddhist and unique in that they combine three forms of Art architecture, sculpture and painting. The superb frescoes and paintings depict episodes from the Jataka stories and the life of Lord Buddha.
After breakfast at the hotel, proceed to visit Ellora caves & Daulatabad Fort.
30 kms from Aurangabad lie the finest rock cut cave temples of Ellora (4th & 9th century) which encompasses the three religions - Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The Buddhist shrines are relatively simple and austere but the Hindu temples are marvelously elaborate. Of the 34 caves that are both monasteries and temples, the most remarkable is the magnificent Kailasa temple. The entire structure has been carved out of a monolith and took over 100 years to complete. The temple itself is decorated with themes and incidents from the puranas, in a manner that leaves one in rapturous delight! Recently, 28 new caves have been discovered dating between 9th & 13th centuries. The new caves are in three clusters around pools of water formed by streams flowing into the Velurganga river. According to a legend, Lord Shiva created the river by striking the rock of the Ellora Caves with his trident to quench the thirst of Parvati.