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HAMPI & THE DECCAN PLATEAU

Located in the midst of an austere landscape of giant boulders, Hampi was once the capital of the flourishing Vijaynagar Empire. The famed ruins include such marvels as the Vittala Temple, a World Heritage Site. The Chalukyan capital of Badami, set amidst red sandstone hills, rock-hewn tanks and nearby villages, is dotted with a profusion of outstanding temples. T he town of Bijapur boasts the Gol Gumbaz, one of the largest domes in the world. Hyderabad, known for its fine cuisine and culture, is home to the famous Salar Jung Museum, the intricately carved Hoysala temples at Belur, Halebid and Somnathpur and the colourful bazaars of Mysore are a fitting finale to a trip so rich in offerings. The hotels in the remote areas are modest but the experience rewarding, ending with a couple of days of relaxation at an inviting beach in Covelong.

Days 1, 2, 3 Hyderabad
Arrive into Hyderabad and transfer to the Taj Deccan for two nights (or the Falaknuma Palace); Visit the Charminar, Lad Bazaar, Salar Jung Museum and the Golconda Fort.

Day 4 Gulbarga
Drive to Bidar to see the ruins of the Bahmani Kingdom. Continue to Gulbarga for a night at the simple Hotel Aditya.

Day 5 Bijapur
Explore the fort and the tombs of Bahmani kings; drive on to Bijapur, stay at Shashinag Residency.

Days 6 & 7 Badami
Visit Gol Gumbaz and the magnificent tomb of Mohammed Adil Shah. Drive on to Badami and check into the Badami Court for two nights. Visit Aihole including the Lad Khan temple, dating back to 450 AD, where the earliest form of temple design can be seen, and Pattadakal, which has temples of the northern Nagara and southern Dravida schools. Later visit Badami including cave temples from the 6th & 7th century AD and the famous Malegitti Shivalaya temple.

Days 8 & 9 Hospet (Hampi)
Drive on to Hospet, stay at the Malligi Tourist Home for two nights (or Hampi Boulders); visit Hampi, the city razed by the five Deccan sultans in 1565, including the Virupaksha Temple.

Days 10 & 11 Chikmagalur
Continue to the plantations of Chikmagalur, stay two nights at the Taj Gateway (or The Serai); visit the intricately carved Hoysala temples at Belur and Halebid; free time.

Days 12 & 13 Mysore
Drive to Mysore visiting the imposing statue of Gomateshvara at Shravana- belagola and Tipu's Summer Palace at Srirangapattanam; stay at PRS Calm or Windflower Hotel for two nights. Visit the sights including the Mysore Palace, Chamundi Hill, Nandi Bull and the colourful Devraja Market; excursion to Somnathpur.

Days 14 & 15 Covelong
Take the afternoon Shatabdi Express to Chennai and transfer to the Taj Fisherman's Cove for two nights; visit the rock carvings and the shore temples of Mahabalipuram; free time.

Day 16 Return
Transfer to Chennai airport for your onward flight.

Price indication: $1900 to $2200 per person for a private tour for two.

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