The grand odyssey begins in Mumbai, the city of dreams, the city of stars - Bollywood, the commercial capital of India. One can see it all in Mumbai. Modern, yet preserving its antiquities, the city's gothic and modern architecture stand side-by-side, providing some awesome views. And once evening dawns, you're all set to board The Deccan Odyssey for dinner and for the journey.
You alight at the Bhoke Station from where you go to the Jaigad Fort. The Fort's awesome pride and stance is sure to leave you speechless. Travel next to Ganapatipule, a beach bathed in golden sunshine and silver moonlight all for you to relish. And after a sumptuous lunch here, head straight Ratnagiri, the Land of Alphonso mangoes. Visit the Lokmanya Tilak Smarak, Ratnadurg Fort and then you're back to the laps of luxury, The Deccan Odyssey, for dinner and a quiet sleep.
The train chugs into the tip of the Konkan coast, Sindhudurg Nagari Station. A luxury bus transfers you to Malvan Jetty. From here a boat ride to the unconquered Ocean Fort of Sindhudurg. See the temples dedicated to Bhavani, Mahadeo, Jarimari, Mahapurush and Shivaji in its premises. The next stop, Tarkarli. A virgin beach at the confluence of river Karli and Arabian Sea. A hard day at the sea is imminent, so rest at the Tarkarli Beach Resort's 'Konkani' style cottages is soothing. (Not to mention, the mouth-watering Konkani food that'll leave you asking for more.) From here, move on to Tarkarli Jetty for a romantic boat ride to Kalse Jetty. A kuxury bus then takes you to Sawantwadi. The evening promises a royal meal in the train, so keep yourself hungry.
Goa, the fabled land for many, is the next stop. Brilliant lush green fields surrounding the villages and hamlets, whitewashed churches standing out against the occasional empty patches of startling soil. Some of India's finest golden sand beaches along with jungle-clad hills, imposing ancient churches and elegant mansions dot this state. Perhaps that's why people from all over the world flock here in droves. Start off with Old Goa, as you walk amid the ruins of vast gardens and old churches of Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral and the Church of St. Assissi. Also on the cards is a walk through Fontanhas, the Latin quarters at Panjim. Followed by a typical Goan styled lunch, after which you are free to explore Goa on your own. As the day ends, you can look forward a splendid dinner on board The Deccan Odyssey.
Next morning the royal train pulls into Pune, the erstwhile capital of the Marathas. Also known as the cultural capital of the state. Pune is the hometown of Maratha awakening and the traditional centre of Maharashtrian culture; many famous poets, writers, singers and artists were either born or lived here.
Start off with a visit to the Raja Kelkar Museum, a treasure house enshrined with antiques of 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Next stop, the magnificent Shaniwarwada built by the Peshwas in 1732. And after a splendid lunch, visit the imposing Aga Khan Palace. On to the world famous Rajneesh (Osho) Ashram next. And finally, the David Sassoon Synagogue. Built by Sir David Sassoon in 1867, this synagogue is believed to be one of the largest and finest in the world. And finally, end this day with a royal dinner, which is all hot and streaming on board The Deccan Odyssey.
It's Aurangabad next morning. Get set to travel along the rolling hills and picturesque ruins of the past. After a scrumptious breakfast in the train, a luxury bus takes you to the majestic fortrees of Daulatabad. An impregnable defense in its days, it still stands tall and proud. Aurangabad, founded by Aurangzeb, has scores of monuments, tombs and Buddhist caves. Visit the world famous Ellora Caves. This World Heritage Site's 34 brilliantly carved rock-cut temples represent Buddhist, Jain and Hindu faiths. Back to Aurangabad for lunch with live cultural entertainment. Also on the itinerary will be Bibi-Ka-Maqbara. And for the perfect memorabilia, do spend some time shopping at Aurangabad.
Seventh day brings you to Jalgaon railway station. After a royal breakfast in the train, board the MSRTC bus to surround yourself by dramatic views of the Waghora Valley; the hideout of the Ajanta Caves. Older than Ellora Caves, these caves once lost to the world, were discovered accidentally by a party of British officers on a hunting trip. 'Bodhisattva Padmapani', 'Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara', 'The Birth of the Buddha' and 'The Thousand Buddhas' are a few amongst the many fine murals and sculptures you'll cherish. Then a mouth-watering lunch on board as you reach Nashik, from where you travel to vineyards at Govardhan Park in the comforts of a luxury A/C bus. On the way to the vineyard, visit Old Ghat (The Kumbh Mela is held here once every 12 years) and see some great views of the Gangapur Dam site. And get set for a lavish wining and dining session at the vineyard.
Enjoy the breakfast on board as the sun rises over beautiful Mumbai. You alight at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus after a week-long dream journey. And as you finish this royal journey, needless to mention an unforgettable one, you'll only wonder why good things have to end. Perhaps, this end is just a beginning. A beginning for you to travel, to explore the unsen lands; full of questions and unfound answers.