Caves, Forts & The Unknown Beachs Of Maharashtra

Caves, Forts & The Unknown Beachs Of Maharashtra

Package Duration: 16 Nights and 17 Days
Places Covered: Mumbai - Nashik - Aurangabad - Solapur - Kohlapur - Tarkarli - Ganpatipule - Raigad - Lonavala - Alibaug - Mumbai

Tour Overview

Narrating many a tales of the chivalrous Marathas, the forts in Maharashtra are an inseparable part of the state’s major tourism attractions. Though mostly in ruins now, the forts in Maharashtra that is over 350 in number gleam with history and signs of architecture richness. There are forts in the state that even date back to 12th century, while some fortress in Maharashtra go back to 15th century and boasts being perched on the hilltops. Also, the state offers unique fort structures amidst the sea, whereas, and there is also a fort in the state, inside which, is settled an entire city. And we would be exploring some of the Konkan beaches in Maharashtra’s Konkan range which is blessed with some of the finest beaches in India. If you are looking for a blissful concoction of nature, adventure and tranquility, the beaches on Konkan Coast are worth visiting.

Highlights:

  • Ajanta & Ellora caves
  • Visit of Elephanta Caves in Mumbai
  • Sindhudurg Fort
  • Beaches of Konkan
  • Visit to Murud & Jhanjira Fort at Aligarh

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01 : Arrive in Mumbai
Arrive in Mumbai by your international flight. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to the hotel. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 02 : In Mumbai
Breakfast at the hotel. Morning visit the Elephanta Caves. Drive by the Victoria Terminus, see the Crawford Market, the Dhobi Ghats (a place where a large number of washer men wash clothes), Mani Bhawan & the Jain temple. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Northeast of the Gateway of India in Mumbai Harbour, the rock-cut temples on Gharapuri, better known as Elephanta Island, are a Unesco World Heritage Site. Created between AD 450 and 750, the labyrinth of cave temples represent some of India’s most impressive temple carving. The main Shiva-dedicated temple is an intriguing latticework of courtyards, halls, pillars and shrines; its magnum opus is a 6m-tall statue of Sadhashiva, depicting a three-faced Shiva as the destroyer, creator and preserver of the universe, his eyes closed in eternal contemplation.

It was the Portuguese who dubbed the island Elephanta because of a large stone elephant near the shore (this collapsed in 1814 and was moved by the British to Mumbai’s Jijamata Udyan). There’s a small museum on-site, with informative pictorial panels on the origin of the caves.

As poignant as it is tiny, Mani Bhawan is a museum in the building where Mahatma Gandhi stayed during visits to Bombay from 1917 to 1934. The leader formulated his philosophy of satyagraha (nonviolent protest) and launched the 1932 Civil Disobedience campaign from here. Exhibitions include a photographic record of his life, along with dioramas and documents, such as letters he wrote to Adolf Hitler and Franklin D Roosevelt and tributes from Ho Chi Minh and Albert Einstein.

Gateway of India has bold basalt arch of colonial triumph faces out to Mumbai Harbour from the tip of Apollo Bunder. Incorporating Islamic styles of 16th-century Gujarat, it was built to commemorate the 1911 royal visit of King George V, but wasn’t completed until 1924. Ironically, the British builders of the gateway used it just 24 years later to parade the last British regiment as India marched towards independence.

Day 03 : Drive to Nashik
After breakfast at the hotel, leave for Nashik by surface, a journey of about 3.5hrs. Arrive and proceed for sightseeing tour of the Ghats of Godavari river where Kumbh Mela occurs, temples and Pandavleni caves. After visits check-in at the hotel. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Pandavleni caves: Buddhism has also left its mark in Nashik with 24 rock-cut caves that date back to the 2nd century BC. Inscriptions indicate that most of the construction happened during 2nd century AD and that the caves were occupied up until the 7th century AD. Following the decline of Buddhism, Jain monks began inhabiting the caves and contributed to their structure. Funding for the caves was provided generously by rulers of the Satavahana dynasty, along with donations from people of all walks of life. The main cave, number 18, is a prayer hall with a stupa. The other caves that hold the most interest are three and 10. Cave three is notable for its sculptures of idols, while cave 10 is structurally intact along with its inscriptions. It's believed to be as old as the Karla Caves near Lonavala in Maharashtra.

Day 04 : Drive to Aurangabad , en-route Panchvati, Ellora caves & Khuldabad
After breakfast leave by surface for Aurangabad en-route visit Panchvati, Ellora caves (closed on all Tuesdays) & Khuldabad a journey of about 5hrs. Arrive in Aurangabad, check – in at the hotel. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Holy land for the believers of Ramayana, Panchvati attracts a lot of pilgrims. A serene town located near Nasik, the site offers small sightings having a lot of significance in the epic of Ramayana. Given the legend of Panchvati, the place holds a lot of religious significance even in the present day. Sites such as the Kalaram Temple and the Sita Gufaa are on every pilgrims list. The Kumbh Mela takes place on the river banks of Godavari, and has a surplus of pilgrims from every corner of world during the occasion.

Give a man a hammer and chisel and he’ll create art for posterity. Come to the Unesco World Heritage Site Ellora cave temples, located 30km from Aurangabad, and you’ll know exactly what we mean. The epitome of ancient Indian rock-cut architecture, these caves were chipped out laboriously over five centuries by generations of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monks. Monasteries, chapels, temples – the caves served every purpose and they were stylishly embellished with a profusion of remarkably detailed sculptures.

Khuldabad is a small town located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. It is situated 13 km away from the main city of Aurangabad and 3 km from the world heritage site of Ellora caves. Khuldabad is an important city owing to its religious and historic importance. In the early period of 14th century, it was the abode of several Sufi saints who resided here for a long time. In the later years, it was captured by the last ruler of the Mughal empire- Aurangzeb, whose tomb was built in the city itself.

In the 14th century, Khuldabad was known as 'Rauzaa', which means the garden of paradise. It was called so because the city was resided by several Sufi saints. Burhan-Ud-din and Zain-Ud-din were the two important saints. Nearby, there is a place called "Valley of Saints" which is believed to have buried the bodies of 1500 Sufi saints. In the early 17th century, the city was captured by Aurangzeb who built a strong wall as a protection around the town with seven entrances inside the city Nagarkhana, Pangra, Langda, Mangalpeth, Kunbi Ali, Hamdadi and a wicket gate called Azam Shahi. The ruins of the monument from the Mughal era can still be seen here.

Aurangzeb's tomb: The last emperor of the Mughal dynasty gave the historic importance to the small town of Khuldabad. During his reign, he built several masterpiece edifices of the typical Mughal architecture that still adorns the city. Out of all the famous monuments, Aurangzeb's tomb is the most famous monument of the city. After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 A.D, the coffin was brought by his son Azam Shah. As per his wish, the body of the Mughal emperor is buried unmarked at the complex of the dargah or shrine of Sheikh Zainuddin, who was the spiritual guru of the ruler.

Day 05 : A day in Aurangabad
After breakfast full day excursion to visit Ajanta Caves (closed on all Mondays).  Return in the hotel after visits. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Superbly set in a remote river valley 105km northeast of Aurangabad, the remarkable cave temples of Ajanta are this region’s second World Heritage Site. Much older than Ellora, these secluded caves date from around the 2nd century BC to the 6th century AD and were among the earliest monastic institutions to be constructed in the country. Ironically, it was Ellora’s rise that brought about Ajanta’s downfall and historians believe the site was abandoned once the focus shifted to Ellora.

Day 06 : Drive to Solapur
After breakfast proceed to visit the Aurangabad city, in which we will visit like Bibi ka Maqbara, Jama Masjid and local market.  After visits leave for Solapur, a journey of about 6.5hrs. Arrive and check-in at the hotel. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Having a striking resemblance to Taj Mahal, the Bibi ka Maqbara is often referred to as the Taj of the Deccan. Bibi ka Maqbara was constructed by Azam Shah, son of Aurangzeb in the memory of his mother Dilras Banu Begum. It is the principal monument in the historic city of Aurangabad.

Day 07 : Drive to Kohlapur
After breakfast leave for Kohlapur a journey of about 6.5hrs. Arrive and check-in at the hotel. In the afternoon visit Mahalaxmi temple. Overnight stay at the hotel.

A little-visited city, Kolhapur is the perfect place to get intimate with the flamboyant side of India. This historic settlement boasts an intensely fascinating temple complex. Gastronomes take note: the town is also the birthplace of the famed, spicy Kolhapuri cuisine, especially chicken and mutton dishes.

One of Maharastra’s most important and vibrant places of worship, the Mahalaxmi Temple is dedicated to Amba Bai (Mother Goddess). The temple’s origins date back to AD 10, but much of the present structure is from the 18th century. It draws an unceasing tide of humanity, as pilgrims press to enter the holy inner sanctuary and bands of musicians and worshippers chant devotions. Non-Hindus are welcome and it’s a fantastic place for people-watching.

Day 08 : Drive to Tarkarli, en-route Sindhudurg Fort
After breakfast leave for Tarkarli a journey of about 5.5hrs. En-route visit Sindhudurg Fort. Arrive and check-in at the hotel. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Sindhudurg Fort - Located off the coast of Maharashtra, the Sindhudurg Fort is an ancient fortress occupying an islet in the Arabian Sea. This imposing construction is spread over an area of 48 acres, with its massive walls standing tall against the crashing waves of the sea. The main entrance of the fort is hidden away in such a manner that no one can identify it from the outside. With its solid walls and conspicuous gateways, this fort is a fascinating piece of history which makes it a favorite tourist spot.

The Sindhudurg Fort is a tangible example of the Maratha foresight and resourcefulness. Built by none other than Chhatrapati Shivaji, this construction utilizes the natural protection of the surrounding rocks to their advantage.

Day 09 : A day in Tarkarli
Breakfast at the hotel. Full day to relax and enjoy the beach. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 10 :  Drive to Ganpatipule, en-route visit Panhala & Vishalghad forts
After breakfast leave for Ganpatipule, en-route visiting Panhala and Vishalghad forts. Arrive in Ganpatipule, check-in at the hotel. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Vishalgad fort, is also called ‘Khelna’ or ‘Khilna’ by locals, and was one of the important forts of the Maratha empire. The name ‘Vishalgad’ means grand fort in Marathi, the name was given by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj after annexing it during 1659. The structure covers an area of 1130 m and was built on a hilltop in the Sahyadri mountain ranges at a height of 3500 feet above sea level, and is about 76 km north – west of Kolhapur.

Day 11 : In Ganpatipule
Breakfast at the hotel, morning is at leisure. Afternoon visit Jaighad Fort and Thibaw Palace. Overnight at the hotel.

The 17th century Jaigad fort is located about 15 KMs from Ganapatipule. The Jaigad fort offers some beautiful sea views especially during evenings. Now in ruins Jaigad Fort is a perfect place to have a picnic perched on a cliff overlooking the confluence of River Sangameshwar and the arabian sea.

Thibaw Palace was built for the exiled King & Queen of Burma in 1910-11. There is a Sculpture Museum and 3 rooms on the first floor. A short drive away from here is the scenic Thibaw Point.

Day 12 :  Drive to Raigad
Breakfast at the hotel, leave for Raigad by surface a journey of about 6hrs. Arrive and check-in at the hotel. Afternoon visit the Raighad Fort by ropeway, this is one of the most important forts in Maharashtra. Overnight at the hotel.

Raigad was the capital of the Marathas under Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Britishers named it 'Gibralter of the East' as the well-fortified structure atop a hill that had repeatedly defied attackers. Shivaji built the fort in the 14th century. Chit Darwaja, also known as Jit Darwaja is at the foothills near village Pachad.
 
Raigad Fort: Alone on a high and remote hilltop, 24km off Hwy 66, the enthralling Raigad Fort served as Shivaji’s capital from 1648 until his death in 1680. The fort was later sacked by the British and some colonial structures added, but monuments such as the royal court, plinths of royal chambers, the main marketplace and Shivaji’s tomb still remain – it's worth an excursion.

Day 13 : Drive to Lonavala
Breakfast at the hotel, leave for Lonavala by surface a journey of about 2hrs. Arrive and proceed for a local sightseeing of Lonavala where you will visits Pawna Lake and Lohgarh Fort. Arrive and check-in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.

At a distance of 11 km from Lonavala, the Lohagad Fort (Iron Fort) is a historical fort situated along the Sahyadri hills in Lonavala region of Maharashtra. It is one of the best places to visit in Lonavala and also one of the popular historical places in Maharashtra. Perched atop a hillock at an altitude of 1050 m, the fort separates the Indrayani basin from the Pawna basin.

At a distance of 10 km from Lohagad Fort, Pawna Lake is an artificial lake formed by water of Pawna dam.

Day 14: A day in Lonavala
Breakfast at the hotel. Leave for full day visit to 2nd century caves Karla and Bhaja. Overnight at the hotel.

Karla and Bhaja Caves are located near Lonavala in Maharashtra. The Bhaja caves are regarded to be from the times of Hinayana phase of Buddhism, which is of 2nd to 1st century BC. These caves are also mainly Viharas and Chaityas and located just 3 km away from the main road amidst green surroundings. There is also a waterfall near the cave where tourists can refresh themselves with a dip.

Karla Cave is the largest Hinayana Buddhist chaitya (temple) in India built during Satavahana's rule. Karla is the best example of rock-cut architecture, which is believed to carve out from a living rock. Some of its 2000 year-old wooden beams are still alive. It takes nearly 20 minutes to climb up the steep way of the Karla caves. There is a 45 meter (148-foot) long Chaitya, possibly the finest of its kind in the country. A temple has been built recently built at the entrance using pillars from the Budhist period.

Day 15 : Drive to Alibaug
Breakfast at the hotel, leave for Alibaug by surface a journey of about 2hrs. Arrive and proceed for a local sightseeing of Alibaug where you will visit Lohgarh Fort. After visits check-in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.

Lohgarh is one of many forts of Chhatrapati Shivaji, adorned with elements and styles of Maharshtrian architecture. Not only the grandeur of the structure, but the sceneries and views all around, make it another favorite of all its visitors. Literally translated into 'the Iron Fort', this fort was used to house prisoners during the reign of Shivaji. Later, it was used to keep looted treasures.

Day 16 : In Alibaug
Breakfast at the hotel. Visit Murud and Janjira Fort. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.

The commanding, brooding fortress of Janjira, built on an island 500m offshore, is the most magnificent of the string of forts that line the Konkan coastline. This citadel was completed in 1571 by the Siddis, descendants of slaves from the Horn of Africa, and was the capital of a princely state.

Over the centuries Siddi alignment with Mughals provoked conflict with local kings, including Shivaji and his son Sambhaji, who attempted to scale the walls and tunnel to it, respectively. However, no outsider (including British, French and Portuguese colonists) ever made it past the fort’s 12m-high granite walls which, when seen during high tide, seem to rise straight from the sea. Unconquered through history, the fort is finally falling to forces of nature as its mighty walls slowly crumble and wilderness reclaims its innards.

Day 17 : Drive to Mumbai Airport
Breakfast at the hotel. Leave for Mumbai by surface , a journey of about 3hrs. Arrive and connect your onward international flight for back home.

Travel Route

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