|Ancient cities of the Deccan
2 weeks. London - Bangalore - Hyderabad -Bidar - Bijapur -
Badami - Hampi - Chik Magalour - Belurhalebid - Mysore - Bangalore
Empires rise and fall
and India has seen many great empires come and go. This tour takes us into the heart of
the country exploring the Deccan Plateau with its marvellous legacy of architectural
masterpieces hinting at the former glory of the empires of which these World Heritage
sites were once the capitals.
There are few places
on earth where there has been so much conflict as India and it is one of the most
inspiring experiences to speculate as to the wonder that was India both before and after
the arrival of the Moslems.
Before the middle of
the Eighteenth century, India was the only known source of diamonds and Golconda was the
most famous of all the diamond mines in India. It made the rulers of the state of
Hyderabad very rich and powerful this tour stars in Hyderabad before visiting other famous
Moslem states in the Deccan, which flourished in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries.
We visit Bidar where the famous Bidri metalwork has its origins.
One of the great
Moslem cities in the subcontinent is Bijapur, once the capital of the Adil Shah dynasty of
Deccani sultans and a great centre for the visual arts. In 1689 the city was brutally
sacked by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. This was a tragedy but some of the great architectural
monuments remain, including the incredible Gol Gumbaz, which is the largest domed space in
the world, larger even than the Pantheon in Rome. The building has an amazing telephonic,
which has to be heard to be believed.
Journeying south we
leave the world of the Islamic sultans and enter a marvellous world of contrasting Hindu
empires. The Chalyukias are the oldest of the dynasties. We survey their capital Badami is
one of the lesser-known wonders of India but is one of our favourite places. The rock-cut
temples contain some outstanding sculpture, as do the temples in nearby Paddatakal and
Vijayanagara the last of the great Hindu Kingdoms and in many ways the most incredible. In
the Sixteenth century this may well have been the greatest city in the world before a
confederation of Moslem states defeated the forces of Vijayanagra at the battle of
Talikota in 1564. This was the end of Hindu hegemony in India until independence.
Hampi, as the site is
now called is set in one of the most dramatic landscape settings, a boulder-strewn site
with temples and palaces nestled in between. Hampi has a good claim to be the greatest
ruined city in the world.
South of Hampi we
discover yet another great civilization the Hoysalas, masters of detailed sculpture. We
visit the temples at Belur, Halebid and Somnathpur. Before arriving in Mysore, we visit
the great Jain monument at Sravanabelgola. A marvellous and unique sculpture depicting the
Jain Saint Gomateswara who meditated for so long that roots started growing around his
Finally we arrive in
Mysore, a delightful city and great Hindu capital. Nearby is the fort and tomb of Tipu
Sultan who allied to the French opposed the British in Southern India. His defeat in 1799
marked the end of French opposition to British ambitions in South Asia.
The tour flies in and out of