October 15 - 30, 2018
About This Tour
In our 28-year history, Toto Tours has taken travelers the world over, and one of our favorite places is India. The second-most populous country on earth and the seventh-largest by area, India is so vast that one cannot do it justice with an overview tour. It is better to visit one region at a time. In October 2018 we make our first visit to the south-western state of Karnataka. Diverse geographically, with three principle zones of highlands, plains and coast, Karnataka is equally diverse as a heritage center of India. Settled since Paleolithic times, the region has been shaped over millennia by the cultural influences of at least 10 different empires. Every corner of India is unique, and Karnataka offers new sights, sounds, festivals, and wildlife never seen before on our India tours.
- Bangalore, capital of Karnataka
- Royal City of Mysore
- Hindi Festival of Vijayadashami (Dasara)
- Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary
- Jain Pilgrimage Site of Sravanabelagola
- Temple Town of Hampi *
- Historic Complex of Aihole
- Hindu & Jain Temples of Pattadakal *
- Badami Cave Temples
- Churches and Convents of Goa * * UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Depart home bound for India
Depart your home city today on an overnight international flight to Bangalore, India, also known as Bengaluru. The Bangalore International Airport has the three-letter code: BLR. Use this code when researching flights from your home city. At the end of the tour you will be returning home from Mumbai, whose airport code is BOM. International flights typically arrive in India late at night the day after you leave. Tour services begin in Bangalore with overnight accommodations on October 16. (Meals Aloft)
Arrive in Bangalore
Bangalore is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. With a population of 8.5 million people, it is India’s third most-populous city. Plan to arrive in Bangalore any time today. Touring does not commence until tomorrow, but your hotel room will be available for check-in any time after 3pm today. You will be personally greeted at the International Airport, presented with a fresh flower garland, and transferred to our hotel. Our tour includes only a brief panoramic overview of Bangalore. We encourage you to plan to arrive a day early if you wish to explore more of the city, or simply rest and recover from jet-lag. (Meals Aloft)
Bangalore Overview / Transfer to Mysore
We take a morning sightseeing tour to give us a brief overview of Bangalore. After an early lunch, we drive to Mysore. Enroute we visit Srirangapatnam (16 km/ 10 miles from Mysore), an island fortress in the Cauvery River. Inside the Fort are a Mosque and the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, a popular Hindu pilgrimage site. Images of Vishnu are on pillars, ceilings and domes represented by the 7-headed serpent after whom the island and oldest structure are named. Time permitting, we will also visit Tippu’s summer palace, (Daria Daulat Bagh), built in 1784, which is now a museum. Celebrate the beginning of our adventure with a Welcome Dinner tonight. (All Meals)
Mysore is a magnificent Royal city and site of the Goddess Chamundeswari Temple and the Sacred Chamundi Hill with its Palaces built by Tippu Sultan. Take a morning excursion to Chamudi Hill, stopping first to see the famous Nandi (Shiva’s bull) carved from solid rock nearly 17 feet high. Visit Sri Chamundeswari Temple, a huge structure with a seven-story Gopuram (tower) 131 feet high. Afterwards, visit Mysore Palace, a beautiful Indo-Saracenic Palace built in 1911-12 at a cost of 4.2 million rupees to replace the former Palace destroyed by fire. In the afternoon, drive to the village of Somnathapur to visit the intricately carved star-shaped Prasanna Channakeshara Temple. In the evening we attend a cultural performance. Off in the distance, the majestic Mysore Palace is illuminated by nearly 100,000 lights. (All Meals)
After breakfast we proceed to Maharaja Palace to be seated to witness Dasara Pooja and the procession at Maharaja Palace. A major Hindi festival, Vijayadasami celebrations include processions to a river or ocean front that carry clay statues of Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya, accompanied by music and chants, after which the images are immersed into the water for dissolution and a goodbye. Elsewhere, the towering effigies of Ravana symbolizing the evil is burnt with fireworks marking evil's destruction. This evening we attend rehearsal of the Torch Light Parade at Bannimantap before returning to our hotel in Mysore. (All Meals)
Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary
This morning depart to Nagarhole National Park. Officially known as the Rajiv Gandhi National Park, it is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, India's largest stretch of protected forest, an area which includes several neighboring sanctuaries as well. The Nagarhole ecosystem supports the highest density of herbivores anywhere in Asia with around 108 animals per square kilometer. In addition to large herbivores such as the Chital, Sambar, Gaur, Asian Elephant and more, Nagarhole also boasts many predators including the Tiger, Leopard and Wild dog. On arrival check into the hotel and have lunch. After lunch embark on a jeep safari through the jungle. (All Meals)
Safari at Nagarhole
Early morning guided nature hike on a bird-watching trail. Return to our lodge for breakfast. After breakfast visit the village of Kadu Kurubas. Return for lunch followed by free time for enjoying resort facilities. In late afternoon, embark on a boat safari in Nagarhole National Park. Our evening entertainment will be a tribal dance and wildlife documentary film, followed by dinner. (All Meals)
Sravanabelagola / Hassan
After an early breakfast, we travel to Sravanabelagola. It is one of the oldest and most important Jain Pilgrimage Centers in India, the site of the huge 50-ft. naked statue of Bahubali (Gomateshvara), said to be the world’s largest monolithic statue. One must climb 620 steps up hill to the statue. In the afternoon visit Belur and Halebid Temple Complexes, dating from the 12th to 14th century. Built by the Hoysala kings, the temples are the best examples of what remains of one of the most artistically exuberant periods of Hindu Cultural development. The wealth of sculptural details found on the exterior and interior of these temples makes them the most outstanding example of Hoysala sculptural art. We arrive in Hassan by late afternoon for an overnight stay. (All Meals)
Chitradurga / Tumkur / Hiriyur / Hampi
Today will be a long travel day, beginning with a stop at Chitradurga Fort, which lies at the foot of granite hills. Originally a mud fort and then one built of stone, the Tipu Sultan later had a palace, mosque and granaries built here. Enjoy lunch at Iswarya Fort in Chitradurga and then continue to Tumkur, an important market town. A few miles north is the small Dravidian-style Kaidala Keshava Temple which contains striking stone images. In the town of Hiriyur, built along the bank of the river Vedavati, the Teru-Malleshwara Temple has a 14-meter-high lamp pillar that holds enough oil for the lamp to be relit only once a year. Our final stop for the day is our hotel in Hampi. (All Meals)
After breakfast, explore the ancient art and architecture of Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site showcasing the ruins of the medieval Vijaynagar Empire. Bounded by the torrential Tungabhadra River on one side and surrounded by defensible hills on the other three sides, the site is historically and architecturally significant. We need a whole day to visit the stunning collection of temples, palaces and markets of Hampi. (All Meals)
Aihole / Pattadakal / Badami
This morning drive to Aihole, the first Chalukyan capital and home to monuments dating back to the 5th century. It is regarded as the cradle of Hindu temple architecture. In an area called Morera Angadigalu, excavations have unearthed many prehistoric temples and pottery pieces. Pattadkal is the second capital of the Chalukyan kings between 7th and 8th century and the city where the kings were crowned. Most of the temples cluster at the foot of the hill and displaying a merging of Northern and Southern Indian architectural traditions. We arrive at Badami in the evening. (All Meals)
Set in beautiful countryside amongst red sandstone hills, lakes and peaceful farmlands, the small rural village of Badami has four temples cut into the hillside in the early 6th century. Each cave has various sculptures inside. Other temples of note which we visit include the Buddhist temple near the ancient artificial Bhuthanatha Lake, the 7th century Mallegitti Sivalaya Temple, and the North Fort Temples whose 7th century carvings give an insight into Badami history. (All Meals)
Drive to Goa
Today we drive to Goa, known as "Pearl of the Orient". The state of Goa is located on the western coast of India in the coastal belt known as Konkan. The magnificent scenic beauty and the architectural splendors of its temples, churches and old houses have made this a popular destination for tourists. Upon arrival we check in to our hotel and the rest of the day is free. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Free Day in Goa
There are no planned activities today. You have an entire day to enjoy the amenities of our hotel, explore the city on your own, spend time relaxing on the beach, go shopping, or find a fine dining restaurant for this evening’s dinner. Overnight in Goa. (Breakfast)
Drive to Old Goa, and see the beautiful Basilica of Bom Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a fine example of baroque architecture. Next, visit several important churches and Sri Mangueas Temple, the most important of all temples in the area. Afterwards we visit a tropical spice plantation located in a nearby village, where we enjoy a lunch in the traditional Goan style. Later visit Ancestral Goa, an open-air museum recreating rural life here as it had existed in the days of yore. Culminate the day at Miramar Beach, where the Mandovi River meets the Arabian Sea, a point that offers the best location to watch the sunset. After toasting our final full day together, we celebrate our adventures at a farewell dinner. (All Meals)
Fly to Mumbai / Departure
Transfer to the airport for our afternoon flight AI-660, departing at 3:00pm and arriving in Mumbai at 4:10pm. On arrival transfer to The Lalit Hotel nearby, where we have the use of day rooms to wash, change and rest until 9:00 pm. At that time the hotel shuttle transfers us back to the International Airport for return flights home. Let us know if you wish to extend your stay at The Lalit for a full night, with check-out tomorrow morning. (Breakfast)
OPTIONAL EXTENSION TO MUMBAITuesday, October 30, 2018
Fly to Mumbai
Fly with the group to Mumbai, saying farewell at the airport to those who are returning home before continuing to our beautiful hotel in the city. After check-in, the evening is free. (Breakfast)
After breakfast we start our tour by visiting Mumbai's most famous monument: The Gateway of India, built as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay in 1911. Continue to the Prince of Wales Museum. This Gothic and Moorish style building is crowned by a sparkling white dome and houses a priceless collection of art, sculpture, china and other antiques. Drive past old colonial buildings like Victoria Terminus (undoubtedly the British Raj's piece de resistance, featuring carved stone friezes, stained glass windows and flying buttresses), Mumbai University and Rajabai Clock Tower. Proceed down Marine Drive, South Mumbai’s windswept promenade, flanked by the sea and a row of art deco buildings. Our panoramic tour also features Chowpaty Beach, the Parsi Towers of Silence and Malabar Hill.
After lunch, participate in a truly memorable encounter: a tour of the Dharavi slum. Around 60% of the citizens of Mumbai live in slums. Dharavi, with a population of at least half a million, probably has become the most famous of them, especially after the success of the movie “Slumdog Millionaire.” Our walking tour begins in the commercial area, where waste recycling is a big business. The residents scavenge materials from all over the city and bring them to the little workshops here to clean, process and recycle them. Climbing to a rooftop right in the center of the settlement, we can appreciate the vast dimensions of the place and the number of people working and living here. After the tour we return to the hotel where we have the use of our rooms to wash, change and rest until 9:00 pm. At that time, we transfer to the International Airport for return flights home. Let us know if you wish to extend your stay for a full night, with check-out tomorrow morning. (Breakfast)
Entry Requirements - All U.S. citizens need a valid passport and valid Indian visa to enter and exit India for any purpose. Most visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, must apply for visas at an Indian embassy or consulate abroad before entering the country. U.S. citizens seeking to enter India solely for tourist purposes, and who plan to stay no longer than 30 days, may apply for an electronic travel authorization at least four days prior to their arrival in lieu of applying for a tourist visa at an Indian embassy or consulate. Please visit the Indian government's website for electronic travel authorization for additional information regarding the eligibilities and requirements for this type of visa.Immunizations and Health - No immunizations are required, but the U.S. Center for Disease Control strongly recommends the following inoculations: tetanus, hepatitis A & B, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis. Please check out their website at: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/indianrg.htm for complete details. You should only drink boiled or bottled water in India. Avoid cut salads, raw vegetables and fruits without skin everywhere except in hotel restaurants.
Exit Requirements - No airport tax is currently charged upon departure from India, nor is one anticipated. However, any such taxes or fees instituted after publication of this itinerary will be the responsibility of the clients to pay directly to the appropriate airport authorities.
Making Travel Arrangements to IndiaOn this tour, international airfare is NOT included. You will need to purchase international air to Bangalore, India (airport code BLR), and return from Mumbai (code BOM). We encourage you to work with Steven Goldberg at Frosch Travel in Chicago, who will work with you to get the best flights from your home city.
One internal flight within India is included in the price of this trip.
You will need to arrive in Bangalore by late night on October 16, 2018 (or even after midnight on October 17). Late night departure is from Mumbai on October 30, 2018 (OR on October 31 if staying for the optional Mumbai extension).
Steven Goldberg / Frosch TravelToll-Free in USA: 1-800-323-1276
International guests, please call +1-312-371-9686 (Steven’s direct line)
When calling, please identify yourself as a Toto Tours participant. If you leave a message on Steven’s voice mail, he will return your call promptly. He will be happy to discuss your travel plans and help you decide when to purchase your ticket for the best rate. He can even get you discounted prices for Business Class travel.
NOTE: The recent trend in travel is for travelers to finalize their plans much closer to departure time than was customary in the past. While we try to be as flexible as possible we often must turn away last-minute registrants because we relinquish hotel space and air reservations 8 – 12 weeks prior to departure! Please keep this in mind when making your travel plans.
For passport / visa assistance, call Marc Gilland / Passport & Visa AdvisorsDirect: 704-246-6373
Toll-Free in USA: 1-844-318-1765
Please contact Marc via email, phone or Skype. When calling, please identify yourself as a Toto Tours participant. Marc and his direct staff have worked with Toto Tours for years and we recommend his services for our client’s passport and visa needs. Marc is readily available and typically will respond to emails promptly, after hours as well.
PassportsA valid passport is mandatory for international travel from the USA. Before booking travel please review your passport for the following required criteria:
- It’s valid for six months or longer after returning home
- Must be signed
- Has several blank pages in the passport (not including the last three pages of the book)
- Passport is in your current name
- Must be in reasonable good shape without torn pages, chewed cover or other mutilations. General wear and tear is acceptable
VisasE-visaA visa is required for travel to India and the Toto Tours participant must apply before departure for our trip. The two visa options applicable for this trip are an Indian e-visa and a tourist visa. Both can be applied for on your own or via PVA services.
E-visa - valid for 120 days, double entry for stays up to 60 days. Lead time is 3-5 business days. The e-visa application can be completed and paid or online. Costs for the e-visa are between $75-$80 and payment made directly through India channels. PVA charges and a’s process the application for an additional fee and will pay the visa fee using their credit card and charge you for the visa and PVA fees at one time.
Tourist visa – valid for up to 10 years, multiple-entry for stays up to six months. Lead times are between 10-15 business days after the submission. The traveler must complete an application form online, print/sign and send passport, application, money and supporting documents for submission to the Indian consulate that serves the traveler’s state. If you think you will want to return to India in the future (and Toto Tours offers many amazing tours in different parts of India), you should definitely apply for the 10-year visa PVA offers the service of filling out your forms for you if requested.
What to BringIn October, the weather will still be very warm in India, with temperatures ranging between the upper-60s to the mid-80s in all the areas we visit on this tour (slightly warmer in Mumbai). Laundry can be done at some of the places where we stay for two or more nights. You will be happier if you pack half of the clothes you think you need, do laundry along the way, and save room in your suitcases for fantastic purchases!
Suggested Packing List:
- Proof of citizenship. Passport required.
- Comfy walking shoes for day tours.
- Polo shirts / T-shirts (5 - 6).
- Lightweight, long sleeve shirts (2 - 3) for cool evenings.
- Shorts – 2 or 3 pairs.
- Lightweight long pants.
- Sunscreen / lip balm.
- Sunglasses / sun hat with tie-on.
- Personal toiletries
- Mosquito repellent, with Deet.
- Camera, lots of digital memory, extra batteries.
- Ziploc Bags (sandwich size for documents, gallon size for wet items or toiletries).
- Electrical Adapter. The electricity supply in India is 220 Volts. Click here to see what kind of adapter to bring with you.
- A good book or two for the beach and the long flights.
Money MattersThe currency unit in India is the Rupee (INR). As of November 20, 2017, the interbank exchange rate was 64.94 INR to the U.S. $1.00. ATMs are readily available in the major cities, and offer the best exchange rate for obtaining local currency. Credit cards are also widely accepted in establishments catering to tourists.
Tipping Guidelines—Virtually everyone in India expects to receive a tip. In tourist restaurants or hotels a 10% service charge is often added to bills. We will make collective tips to our drivers and guides, and a suggested tip amount will be provided prior to departure.
The Toto SpiritToto Tours provides Adventure Travel Experiences as differentiated from tours in the traditional sense. Adventure Travel allows (even encourages) you to be an active participant. Adventurers can be identified by certain traits. They are:
- fun-loving optimists who have a sense of humor and accentuate the positive
- good natured realists who are willing to accept situations as they exist
- undaunted by the unexpected, like occasional delays or bad weather
- willing to forego some of the amenities we normally take for granted
- eager to try new things & test limits
- not whiners!
Travel InsuranceWe recommend you purchase travel insurance with Travel Guard to cover for unforeseen events prior to and during your trip. Please follow the link below or call us for more information.
Tour prices per personPrice: $4,400 in double occupancy hotel accommodations. Add $350 for Mumbai Extension.
Private Room: $1,400 additional, for a total tour price of $5,800. Add $500 for Mumbai Extension
(Paying a single supplement is not required. Toto Tours will try to match you with a roommate if you are traveling alone and prefer to share a room. If this is not possible, a single supplement will be applied to your reservation before the final payment date.)
(Due at time of registration for the tour. May be paid with a credit card.)
Remaining Balance (main tour): $3,800 double / $5,200 single
Remaining Balance Due: July 28, 2018 (80 days prior to departure)
(Full payment required with reservation form if enrolling after this date.)
Included: Airport transfers at the beginning and end of the tour; 14 nights hotel accommodations; hotel breakfasts daily plus Welcome & Farewell Dinners and other meals as specified in the itinerary; day room use for late departure from Mumbai; ground transportation in air conditioned motorcoach; internal flight within India (Goa to Mumbai); sightseeing activities and entrances as listed in the itinerary; 2 bottles of mineral water per day during drives; porterage at hotels, railway stations and airports; festivals and cultural performances as indicated; fully guided and escorted tour.
Not Included: Round trip airfare to Bangalore, India (BLR) and returning from Mumbai, India (BOM); visa fees; airport taxes and departure fees; ground transportation for sightseeing on your own (taxis, local guides, etc.); meals and optional activities not specifically listed in the itinerary; camera fees; bottled water beyond two bottles included daily; alcoholic beverages; insurance; laundry; telephone calls; faxes; or any other expenses of a personal nature. Tips to drivers and guides and other conveyance attendants are not included; tipping guidelines for our group tips will be provided prior to departure.
Click hotel name to read description
- Bangalore (1 night): Hotel Vivanta by Taj
- Mysore (3 nights): Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel
- Nagarhole Sanctuary (2 nights): Kuruba Safari Lodge, Kabini
- Hassan (1 night): Hoysala Village
- Hampi (2 nights): Heritage Resort
- Badami (2 nights): Krishna Heritage Hotel
- Goa (3 nights): Cidade de Goa Resort
- Mumbai (day room): The LaLiT Airport Hotel
- Mumbai (one night plus day room): Trident Hotel, Nariman Point