When considering a trip to India, it can be hard to look past the Taj Mahal, or Jaipur’s striking Palace of the Winds, but beyond the Golden Triangle lies a side to India that travellers rarely get to experience. Gujarat is one of the least visited, but also one of the most rewarding states in India, and APT’s 23-day Contrasts of India gives travellers the chance to get to the heart of this truly captivating region, from the vast salt flats of Kutch to the ancient fortified city of Patan. Aboard the deluxe Deccan Odyssey train, travellers will explore the most authentic parts of Gujarat, providing a window into a side of India that is far from the hustle and bustle of the Golden Triangle.
The Deccan Odyssey
Inspired by the imperial carriages used by the Maharajahs, touches of royalty can be seen in the smallest of details aboard the Deccan Odyssey. Each cabin is outfitted with its own private ensuite and a cosy interior design, while private butlers service each cabin daily. Complemented by a choice of two restaurant cars, travelling aboard this deluxe rail service makes for a truly memorable experience. Unpack once and discover the convenience of rail travel in India, the perfect escape from its congested roads and bustling airports.
Sasan Gir National Park
The forested, hilly terrain, deep valleys and numerous rivers of Sasan Gir National Park make it the ideal habitat for a vast array of wildlife. A safari through its thick, undisturbed forests is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as Sasan Gir is the last remaining place where the Asiatic lion can be seen in the wild. Hunted near to extinction towards the end of the 19th century, only about a dozen Asiatic lions were left in India, causing them to be listed as critically endangered in early 2000. Thanks to the conservation efforts of the park, numbers have increased dramatically and it is now considered one of the most important protected areas in Asia. Its forests are also home to panther, jackal, sambar, crocodile, deer, wild pig, and over 300 species of resident birds.
Little Rann of Kutch
The vast Kutch region of Gujarat is often described as India’s “wild west” and its barren, salt-tinted land is a compelling example of nature at its harshest. A Jeep safari is the perfect way to explore its seemingly endless expanses of desolate landscape and the first drive into the terrain feels slightly surreal. Cracked earth unfolds in all directions as far as the eye can see and heat mirages dance along the horizon. Though it may appear to be uninhabited, the Little Rann is in fact home to extremely rare wildlife including the last remaining population of the chestnut-coloured Indian wild ass. Other species here include the desert fox, jackal, jungle cat and an array of birdlife.
Rani Ki Vav Stepwell, Patan
A masterpiece of subterranean architecture, Rani Ki Vav is the only stepwell in existence to be declared a World Heritage site. Located in Patan, it is one of the biggest stepwells in Gujarat and is renowned for its exquisite detail and 1,500 intricate sculptures, all of which hold important religious and mythological significance. Lost under layers of sand for hundreds of years after it was initially constructed in the 11th century; the stepwell was excavated by archaeologists in 1980, when it was discovered to be in near-pristine condition.
APT’s 23-day Contrasts of India takes travellers to all of these fascinating destinations plus many more, with prices starting at $25,895 per person twin share.
To find out more about joining APT in 2019 for an unforgettable discovery of India or to request a brochure, please call APT on 1300 196 420 or visit aptouring.com.au