Trip Highlights :-Mumbai | Bhuj | Gondal | Sasan Gir | Diu | Bhavnagar | Ahmedabad | Mumbai
Tour duration : 14 Nights / 15 Days
Asiatic Lion, known scientifically as Panthera Leo Persica, is a subspecies of the Lion found only in the Indian subcontinent. Asiatic Lions once ranged from the Mediterranean to India, covering most of West Asia where it was also known as the Persian Lion. Even in India, the natural habitat of Asiatic lions has been restricted to Gir National Park of Gujarat. The royal animal is also known as the Indian Lion and has a population of somewhere around 359. Asiatic Lion has been depicted on the National Emblem of India. It also appears in many coats of arms and flags of Asia and Europe, as well as in Hinduism and the Bible.
Mumbai - Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) is one of the most happening cities in India. It is known as much for its throbbing night life as it is famous for being the busiest and economically prosperous city of India. Mumbai is a busy metropolis, nevertheless, it is a tourist hot-spot because of its energy and vigor. This erstwhile insignificant port city has now developed to become one of the foremost metropolis of the world. Other than the charms of being in a beautiful metropolis, Mumbai has monuments of historical importance. The city also has wonderful beaches and these beaches have become wonderful leisure spots for people. As the capital city of the state of Maharashtra, Mumbai is politically one of the most important cities in western India. It also has its own culture, traditions and festivals. This busy metropolis comes to a screeching halt during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. The people in this part of the country speak Marathi but like a true cosmopolitan city, it is a fine melting pot where you will find people from different parts of India living in harmony in spite of the difference in language, dress codes and food habits. The city also has a multi-million dollar film-making industry. Popularly referred to as Bollywood, Mumbai film industry is not only big but also very charismatic. Every year a number of Hindi pot-boilers are produced here. The actors and actresses enjoy a massive fan following throughout India as well as abroad.
Bhuj - Bhuj, a flourishing walled city is the most important town in the Kutch area. Bhuj was the capital of the former native state of Kutch and now it is the head quarters of the Kutch district. Bhuj was chosen by Rao Khengarji I as his capital in 1549. This city was greatly destroyed in the earthquake in the year 1819 and 2001. Bhuj derives its name from the Bhujiyo Dungar, a hill, overlooking the present day Bhuj town. The old walled of Bhuj presents a picture of contrasts with its narrow streets and ancient monuments in the vicinity of the planned township of Gandhidham and the modern port of Kandla. This place is a paradise of handicrafts and lifestyle lovers. There are some villages in Bhuj which are rich in craft and culture. The houses in these villages are decorated both from the outside and inside with linear reliefs made of mud and mirrors. Embroidery is the most important handicraft in this region. The region was also known for the enamel work done on gold and silver jewellery, lacquered wood, seashell toys and metal bells.
Gondal - It is fortified town and is located on the bank of river Gondali. Its history starts way before 17th century, in earlier Raj days Gondal was known as the Paris of Saurashtra. Gondal is a testimony to the great visionary ruler Bhagwat Sinhji Maharaj, who introduced lots of social reforms, planned the development of Gondal town and created it as a model state of Saurashtra in late 19th and early 20th century. Gondal was capital of the former princely State of Gondal, which was ruled by the Kings of Jadeja Rajputs, till the independence of India. Bhagwat Sinhji's was highly educated and made extensive tours to Europe to enhance his aesthetic taste, which can be seen in the architecture and planning of public buildings, parks, bazaars, palaces built during his time. Bhagwat Sinhji was known as king of common man. He took lot of interest to develop Gujarati Dictionary, which is Gujarati to Gujarati meaning and known as Bhagwadgomandal, which took 30 years to complete and still there with City library of Gondal. The Bhagwat Sinhji was only the king who renovated the Gondal city, he had planned so many things which you cannot find in today's developed cities.
Sasangir - The Gir Forest National Park is located in the Indian state of Gujarat. Spread across an area of 1412 square km, this sanctuary was established in 1965 to protect the dwindling population of Lions. Today, it is the only place where Asiatic Lions can be found, and that makes it one of Asia's most important protected areas. The Gir National Park experiences a tropical monsoon climate with extreme hot and humid conditions during the summer months of May to August. The sanctuary remains closed to visitors during the summer months. It is estimated that this reserve in Gujarat has more than 38 species of mammals, approximately 300 species of birds and 2000 insect species. Of the mammals, the Asiatic Lion was counted at 411 a few years back. Various efforts have been undertaken by the government and nature enthusiasts to preserve the rare species of Lion. One of these efforts has been setting up of the Lion breeding programme. Under this program, breeding centers for the Asiatic lion have been set up in various parts of the state to increase their population. The center also studies the behaviour of the Asiatic Lion and carries out advanced studies on this lion species.
Diu - Diu has a very long and glorious history that stretches back into legends and mythology. It was believed that Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata spent a part of their 14 years exile in Diu. According to the legends, Diu was the first settlement in India of the Parsis fleeing from Persia in the 7th century. Diu was also ruled by the Mauryans during 322-320 BC and was the main trade center on the Saurashtra Coast. When the Mughal emperor Humayun attacked the Sultan of Gujarat, the Gujarat Sultan entered into a treaty with the Portuguese in 1535 for their help against him. Diu was also rewarded to the Portuguese governor Nuno De Cunha, who constructed a fort in Diu and raised his arsenal. Governor Joao de Castro finally seized Diu in 1546 and it remained a Portuguese enclave till its liberation in 1961 along with Daman and Goa. Diu was also an opium exporting centre and still is an important centre for smuggling goods into India or out of it.
Bhavnagar - Founded as a port in 1743, Bhavnagar is still an important trading post for the cotton goods manufactured in Gujarat. The Bhavnagar lock gate keeps ships a float in the city's port at low tide.Bhavnagar was founded by Bhavsinhji Gohil (1703-64 AD) in 1723 AD near the Gulf of Khambhat, on a carefully chosen strategic location having potential of maritime trade. Till independence, Bhavnagar State was ruled by the Gohil Rajput clan.The Gohil Rajputs came to Gujarat from Marwar in 1260 AD and had 3 capitals- Sejakpur, Umrala and Sihor; before finally establishing Bhavnagar as their capital. The old town of Bhavnagar was a fortified town with gates leading to other important towns of the region. The Darbargadh (royal residence) was located at the center of the town. The rulers of Bhavnagar subsequently shifted to Motibag and Nilambag Palace. It remained a major port, for almost two centuries, trading commodities with Africa, Mozambique, Zanzibar, Singapore and the Persian Gulf. This flourishing maritime trade resulted in the high rate of urbanization surplus wealth and cosmopolitan culture of the town
Ahmedabad - Founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah in 1411 AD, Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat, has grown into one of the most important modern cities of India. Straddling the Sabarmati river, this prosperous city of six million is a delight for archeologists, anthropologists, architects, historians, sociologists, traders, bargain hunters, and plain tourists. Thos multicultural city is home to some of the finest Indo-Saracenic Mosques and Jain Temples. An exciting combination of traditions and modernism, Ahmedabad captures all visitors with its diversity of places, religious and ethnic communities. Its famous walled area is one of the finest examples of community living and the city thrived as the textile capital and was nicknamed 'Manchester of the East' in 1888. The Sidi Sayed Ni Jaali with its delicately curved branches in a masterpiece carved in stone. The elaborate Havelis of wealthy Gujarati Sethias are part the city's living heritage. It enjoys a thriving cultural tradition, being the centre of Gujarati cultural activities and diverse traditions of different ethnic and religious communities. Popular celebrations and observances include Uttarayan - an annual kite-flying day. The nine Nights of Navratri are celebrated with people performing Garba - the folk dance of Gujarat, at venues across the city.
Arrival in India (Mumbai) by international flight, traditional welcome by our representative at airport, transfer assistance to hotel. Check-in at hotel, before you proceed to your room, our representative will hand-over the travel documents and brief you about the tour programme. Overnight stay at hotel.
Breakfast at hotel and later proceed for the full day sightseeing of the city. In the morning take an excursion to Elephanta Island Caves, board the boat / ferry from Gateway of India. The rock cut architecture of the caves has been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries, these caves were designated as World heritage site by UNESCO in 1987 No wonder this place resonates with the spiritual energy of India. The cave complex is a collection of shrines, courtyards, inner cells, grand halls and porticos arranged in the splendid symmetry of Indian rock-cut architecture and filled with exquisite stone sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. At the entrance to the caves is the famous Trimurti, the celebrated trinity of Elephanta: there's Lord Brahma the Creator, Lord Vishnu, the preserver and Lord Shiva the Destroyer.
Return and visit Gateway of India, It is one of the architectural marvel, located on the southern part of Mumbai on the shores of Arabian Sea. It is a combination of the "Indo-Sarcenic" architecture and was built in Yellow Basalt stone in 1924 to celebrate the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary. The design and the plan was given by George Wittet which was approved by the then Governor General of Mumbai, Sir George Sydenham Clarke. The construction began in 1911 and took thirteen years for the entire project to be completed. It was inaugurated by the Viceroy, the Earl of Reading on 4th Dec 1924. The Gateway of India became all the more symbolic when the last British Force left our country on 28th February 1948.
Afterwards proceed to Prince of Wales Museum, was set up in the early 20th century to commemorate the visit of the then Prince of Wales (King George V) to India. Designed by an eminent architect, George Wittet, the museum is an impressive heritage building of Mumbai. Built in 1905 to 1915, this museum served as a Children's Welfare Centre and a Military Hospital during the First World War. In 1922 however, it was transformed into Prince of Wales Museum. The architecture of the colonial building is worth observing. The museum can be categorised into three main sections namely, Art, Archaeology and Natural History. One of the standout collections is the rare and ancient exhibits on Indian history. Artifacts from the Indus Valley Civilization and relics from the Gupta and Maurya periods. The rare Sculptures, Miniature Paintings, Decorative Arts, Arms and Armours, Bronzes and Textile. Sections on Nepal / Tibet and Far Eastern Art lend the museum a larger perspective.
Visit Jehnagir Art Gallery located near Prince of Wales Museum in Kala Ghoda. Built in 1952, this mansion was founded by Sir Cowasji Jehangir on being constantly urged by K. K. Hebbarand and Dr. Homi Bhabha. This gallery is a great specimen of Indian Arts and sculpture and is a historic monument related with the renaissance of Indian arts. This gallery is a perfect place for all artists to exhibit their talent under common roof and for the art connoisseurs to take a look at their works. The gallery exhibits famous works by well-known Indian artists. There's plenty of art is displayed outside as well. It is full of artists offering their work for sale and also for commission assignments.
Visit Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, earlier known as Victoria Terminus is an UNESCO World Heritage building. An architectural splendor, it was built in year 1888, after nearly 10 years of construction, as the rail terminus based on the model of St Pancras Station in London and is designed by English architect Frederick William Stevens.
Later drive past the Flora Fountain - take a photo stop. Proceed to visit Dhobi Ghat - The traditional open air laundry of Mumbai, where 200 dhobi families work together and continue to maintain their hereditary occupation.
After the tour return to hotel for overnight stay.
Early breakfast at hotel, check-out from hotel. In-time transfer to airport to board flight for Bhuj. Arrival in Bhuj and transfer to hotel and check-in. Later during the day visit the DSP Office / Collector's Office to obtain the permits, required to visit the tribal Banni villages on Day 04.
This afternoon visit the Aiana Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), this palace was built by Rao Lakhpatji in 1750 AD. Aina Mahal is a part of a large palace complex. It is a two storey building with Darbar Hall, Hall of Mirrors, and Suites for Royal family. In the 18th century, the Rao Lakhpatji sent a local craftsman Ramsingh Malam to Europe to perfect his skills in glassmaking, enamelling, tile making and iron founding. When he returned, he constructed the hall of mirrors of Venetian glass. It has white marble walls which are covered with mirrors and gilded ornaments and the floor is lined with tiles, which were designed efficiently. The platform above the floor is surrounded by a series of fountains operated by an elaborated system of pumps below a Venetian chandelier. It is a unique example of an Indian palace built European influence.
Visit the Prag Mahal it is a 19th century palace, which was commissioned by Rao Pragmalji II, and construction began in 1865. It was designed by Colonel Henry Saint Wilkins in the Italian Gothic style and many Italian artisans were involved in its construction. It was constructed using sandstone and Italian marble. The structure of the palace has beautiful Jali work and Corinthian pillars that are carved with European animals and plants.
Later visit the Kutch Museum, formerly known as the Fergusson Museum, was founded by Maharao Khengarji III in 1877 AD. This museum was built by the state engineer Sir Ferguson, and thus named aft er him. This museum remained a private exhibit for the Maharaos till independence and was renamed as the Kutch Museum. This museum is built in the Italian style, a section of the museum is devoted to tribal cultures, with many examples of ancient artifacts, folk arts and crafts and information about tribal peoples. It also has exhibits of Embroidery, Paintings, Arms, Musical Instruments, Sculpture and precious Metalwork.
Return to hotel for overnight stay.
Breakfast at hotel, this early morning proceed for full day excursion of Banni Villages inhabited by the tribal Kutch communities, each being identified by their individual costumes. These villages are known for their handicrafts and embroidery work with minute details on it. Visit the following villages to interact with the locals, where each one is distinctive settlement. A visit to Sumraser - To see scoff embroidery done by Harijan & Soda community, visit Nirona - to see bell making by Khatri Muslim community, to see Rogan Art by Khatri Muslim community to see Lacer work by Vandh community. Dhordo - to see Jatt community working on Muthwa embroidery & visit village. Ludiya - to see Wood carving & painted houses of Harijan community and visit Khavda - to see Ajarak print & painted pottery work done by Muslim Khatri community.
In the evening return to Bhuj for overnight stay.
Early breakfast at hotel and later check-out. This morning drive to the stately town of Gondal in the heart of Saurashtra. Enroute visit the village of Bhujodi - a major textile center of Kutch, here you can meet Weavers, Tie-dye artists and Block printers most of whom belong to the Vankar community. Later visit Dhamadka village - famous for Ajrakh print and other handicrafts. After the visit drive to Gondal, arrive and check-in at hotel. Overnight stay at hotel.
Breakfast at hotel. This morning you will have the opportunity to see the Maharaja of Gondal's private vintage car collection in Royal Garages. These garages are known for a wide collection of Classic and Vintage cars, belonging to the period extending between 1910-1955. This collection includes cars used during World War II and the post-war period, along with American cars dating between 1940-1950. The garages also have different types of limousines and sports cars manufactured between 1950 and 1960. Majority of the cars have the original state number plates.
Later visit the 17th century Naulakha Palace, one of the most impressive privately owned Royal Castle which is a fabulous example of medieval Indian architecture. It is also known as private palace museum of Maharaja Bhagwat Singhji. It has a wide collection of princely relics, antiques and artifacts.
Overnight stay at hotel.
Breakfast at hotel and later check-out. This morning drive to the world famous Gir National Park which is the only abode of majestic Asiatic Lions, en-route visit the 09th century Uparkot Fort in Junagadh. After the visit drive to Gir, upon arrival check-in at hotel. Overnight stay at hotel.
Breakfast at hotel, the day to visit the world of wild fauna with an expert naturalist. The Gir National Park - the largest compact tract of dry deciduous forests in the semi-arid western part of India is the last abode of the big and regal predator Asiatic Lion (Panthera Leo Persica) an endangered species. Declared as a sanctuary in 1965, it is internationally acclaimed for successfully saving this precious species from the brink of extinction. It has a topography made up of succession of rugged ridges, isolated hills, plateaus and valleys. Besides, being the last abode of Asiatic lions, other animal inhabitants here are Sambar Deer, Chital Spotted Deer, Nilgai Antelope, Chowsingha Four-Horned Antelope, Chinkara Gazelle, Wild Boar, Langur Monkey, Jackal, and Hyena and numerous birds like Paradise Flycatcher, Bonneli's Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Woodpeckers Flamingo etc.
The overwhelming presence of the omnipotent big cat diverts the attention of the common man from the remarkable bird population that the sanctuary has. People mostly link Gir with "Maldharis" who have survived through the ages by having symbiotic relationship with the Lion. They are religious pastoral communities living in Gir. Their settlements are called "nesses". During the last century in British rule, Lion population touched an all time low of 20 in 1913. The serious conservation efforts by the then Nawab of Junagadh saved the species from the brink of extinction.
Overnight stay at hotel.
Early morning jungle safari, return to hotel for breakfast and later check-out. Afterwards drive to Diu, a Portuguese colony.
Arrive and check-in at hotel.
Overnight stay at hotel.
Breakfast at hotel. This morning proceed for the sightseeing Diu, enjoy a visit to the magnificent Fort that dominates the tiny island of Diu, considered to be one of the most important Portuguese forts in Asia.
Afterwards visit St. Paul Church, which is solely dedicated to 'Our Lady of Immaculate Conception'. This church was constructed over a decade during 1601-1610. The Gothic architectural style of this church is similar to that of the Bom Jesus Church of Goa. There is an elaborate facade in this church that is illuminated by flood lights.
Later visit Makata Lane with its impressive old mansions of rich Portuguese and Indian merchants.
After the tour, remaining day will be at leisure for independent activities. You can opt to visit the colourful and bustling markets or relax at Nagoa beach.
Overnight stay at hotel
Breakfast at hotel and later check-out. This morning drive to the erstwhile port town of Bhavnagar, which overlooks the Arabian Sea. Upon arrival in Bhavnagar, check-in at hotel.
Later during the day, visit the Barton Library and Museum - a 19th century library, one of the oldest libraries of the city. It is located in the central part of Bhavnagar it is a hub of historical and cultural significance. The library houses a number of books and manuscripts in different languages. Barton Museum was also established in the 19th century. The museum houses a private collection of Colonel Barton, a prime British representative of Saurashtra. It showcases weapons, coins, agricultural implements, wood carvings and fossils.
Later visit Gauri Shankar Lake - locally known as Bor Talav is a tourist location. The lake bordered by a garden, popularly called Pil Garden, is also a major picnic spot. One can also visit the planetarium near the site of the lake.
Visit Takhteshwar Temple - This temple is located at the center of Bhavnagar city. The temple is observed as a tribute to Lord Shiva. In fact, it is one of the popular Shiva temples located in the state of Gujarat. The temple was constructed in year 1893. It was named after Maharaja Takhatsihnji, one of the influential rulers of Bhavnagar, who had built it. This temple offers a good aerial view of the entire city of Bhavnagar along with the surrounding regions.
Afterwards visit The Lock Gate - Bhavnagar Lock Gate is a popular tourist spot. It enables the ships to remain afloat when the tide is low. The Lock Gate is the only its kind in the city and the first one to be built in the state of Gujarat. It is situated in a dockyard of the city that was built 100 years ago. It is a very old dry dock, which is still operational. It is at present used for the making of ships. The Lock gates impound the sea-water in order to keep the ships floating in the time of low tides. One can watch the lock gates in action after taking special permission.
In the evening return to hotel for overnight stay.
Breakfast at hotel and later check-out. In the morning visit the Old bazaar of Bhavnagar. Afterwards drive to Ahmedabad, en-route visit the remains of Harappan excavation site at Lothal. Later continue to drive to Ahmedabad, Arrive and check-in at hotel. Remaining day is at leisure for independent activities. Overnight stay at hotel.
Breakfast at hotel. This morning proceed for the full day city tour. Which includes visit to The Calico Museum (closed on Wednesday) - renowned as one of the finest museums of textile in the world, it also displays old weaving machines. Visit Ahmed Shah's Mosque - constructed in year 1414 A.D. by Sultan Ahmed Shah, the founder of Ahmedabad, Teen Darwaza - it is truly an epitome of the fine Islamic architecture, consisting of gorgeous arched gates, it is one of the longest as well as the oldest gateways, later visit Bhadra Fort - spread over an area of 44 acres, this fort includes a garden along with a grand pavilion. Known for its architecture, this fort features carved arches and balconies and windows with aesthetic Jali works, Siddi Sayyad's Mosque - This Mosque is world renowned for its intricate stone carvings, especially for its ten unique and splendid semi-circular tracery windows. The tracery resembles the famous silver filigree work, depicting the intricate intertwining of the branches of a tree. Constructed in 1573 by Siddi Sayyad, a slave of Ahmed Shah, the mosque presents a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture,
Visit the Daria Khan's Ghumat, Swami Narayan Temple - It is the first and foremost temple Swaminarayan sect, being the most prominent temple, it is always thronged by people to seek the blessings of the deity. Temple boasts of its exquisite wooden carvings.
Hathisingh Jain Temple - this Temple was established in 1850 by Seth Hathisingh, who was a rich Jain merchant. This temple is dedicated to the 15th 'Jain Tirthankar', known as Dharamnath.
Visit ruins of Jhulta Minar (Swinging Minarets) is a part of Sidi Bashir Mosque, it is renowned for its unique construction, its minarets vibrate on shaking and stall almost as surprisingly within a few seconds. The vibration is set off by a slight exertion of force at the arch of the upper gallery, Jama Masjid, Rani Sipri's Mosque & Tomb, Rani Roopmati Mosque and Sabarmati Ashram.
Overnight stay at hotel.
Breakfast at hotel. This morning proceed for a full day excursion which includes a visit to Modhera - renowned for the 11th century Sun temple one of India's finest architectural works. The Sun temple is situated on a knoll in Modhera, this temple was built by Solanki ruler King Bhimdev I in 1026-27 AD, about two centuries before the Sun Temple at Konark in Orissa. The Sun rays during the equinoxes fall directly on the main deity of the temple which is quite an interesting sight.
Later continue Patan, with its many finely carved wooden houses, Jain temples and 'Patola' weavers. En-route visit the Rani Ki Vav stepwell, it is the oldest and the grandest step well in the state of Gujarat. It is said to been constructed by Queen Udayamati wife of King Bhimadeva I (A.D. 1022-1063). This is the highest watermark of Solanki architecture. It is 65 m long and 20 m wide. It was originally constructed of seven stories of which only five are now preserved. The step is oriented in east-west directions. The step well has long stepped corridor descending down to the underground tank, it is having four compartmental multi-storeyed pillared pavilions with circular draw well at rear end. The corridor walls, pillared pavilions and inner side of well are embellished with fine sculptures. Nearly 400 sculptures have survived out of the original estimated 800 sculptures, which comprise of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, Apsaras and miscellaneous themes.
Later in the evening return Ahmedabad for overnight stay.
Breakfast at hotel and later check-out. In-time transfer to airport to board flight for Mumbai. Transfer to international airport to board return journey flight.
Departure by an international flight early in the morning.