With the firm belief that nothing new should ever be embarked upon without invoking the blessings of Lord Ganesh, the Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple at Prabhadevi is understandably the most popular of places of worship in Mumbai. It was but a humble consecration by Mrs. Deubai Patil in early 19th century that is supposed to have started attracting hordes of worshippers soon after India’s independence to ‘Siddhivinayak’, as it is popularly known.
Located at Prabhadevi in central Mumbai, the temple’s idol of Shree Siddhivinayak was carved out of a single black stone with the trunk on the right. This is considered a rather unusual appearance of Lord Ganesh. The upper right and left hands hold a lotus and an axe respectively while the lower right and left hands hold a rosary (japmala) and a bowl full of ‘modak’ respectively. On the forehead of the deity is an eye, which almost looks like the third eye of Lord Shiva. On both sides of the Lord Ganesh idol are placed one idol each of goddesses Riddhi and Siddhi and it is because of these two deities along with that of Lord Ganesh that the temple is called the Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple. These goddesses signify sanctity, success, wealth and prosperity.
The wooden doors to the sanctum are carved with images of the Ashtavinayak (the eight manifestations of Ganesha in Maharashtra). The inner roof of the sanctum is plated with gold. Consecrated on November 19, 1801, the original structure of the Siddhivinayak Temple was a small 3.6 meter x 3.6 meter square brick structure with a dome-shaped brick ‘shikhara’. The temple was built by a contractor called Laxman Vithu Patil and was funded by Mrs. Deubai Patil so that Lord Ganesh should grant children to barren women.
An additional five-storied temple complex has been built over the years and special ‘pujas’ are performed on the mezzanine floor. The fourth floor houses a library and a reading room while the kitchen and dining area are on the top floor. A dedicated enclosure inside the temple is for Hanuman, whose statue was unearthed during a road construction project in 1952. It is believed that the two big silver mice statues in the main hall grant the wishes of the faithful if they whisper their requests into their ears.
Interestingly, the temple has adopted modern eco-friendly techniques of rainwater harvesting and is self-sufficient in energy with its own solar unit. The daily floral waste is recycled as compost. At the temple’s entrance are many shops that sell flowers, fruits and sweets that are bought as offerings to the god. Packets of ‘prasad’ containing ‘laddus’ and coconut ‘barfi’ are available at the temple’s outlet within the complex.
Siddhivinayak Temple e – mail Address:
Tuesday is a special day to visit the temple but is also the most crowded. Saturdays and Sundays are crowded too. Call the temple reception office on + 91(022) 24373626 (10am to 5 pm) and find out about crowd status. There is a PRO office just inside the main gate where NRIs and foreigners will get assistance and guidance.
Things to Do
Visit the Neighborhood
In the vicinity of the temple are two interesting places that you could visit. One is the Shivaji Park, the city’s largest park that has historical and cultural value because of the political and social gatherings it has witnessed, both in pre- and post-independence Mumbai. The park is named after the legendary 17th century warrior king, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and was created in 1925 by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation. The grand statue of Shivaji in the park is one of the very few statues in which the Maratha king is depicted without having drawn out his sword. Instead, Shivaji is shown simply leading the way with his arm outstretched. The other place of interest is the Ravindra Natya Mandir which is a preferred auditorium for drama and music groups to hold their shows.
Shop at the Dadar Market
A shopper’s paradise, the market at Dadar near the Plaza theatre is very famous for the purchase of day to day goods like the shopping bags, purses, clothes, sarees, dress materials, imitation jewelery and other such items
If you are a first time visitor to Mumbai, the city has a lot to offer in terms of tourist attractions. From Caves dating to the first century BCE at Kanheri Borivali and Elephanta, a paradise of flora and fauna which is the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a long list of museums as also shopping centres, beaches, places of spiritual interest for people of all faiths and even a Bollywood tour; Mumbai, the capital city of Maharashtra will provide a mesmerizing experience
Image & Information copyright by maharashtratourism.gov.in
The Seven Sisters is the 39th tallest waterfall in Norway. The waterfall consists of seven separate streams, and the tallest of the seven has a free fall that measures 250 metres are definitely the most famous waterfalls the along the Geirangerfjorden in Stranda Municipality in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway. This is a serene waterfall seen in three distinct tiers. A small footbridge crosses over the stream to give the clients a better view and photographic break. In fact, the water levels determine how clearly you can see all seven waterfalls from a distance. It is part of the Geiranger World Heritage Site. As for the Seven Sisters, it consisted of a series of several columns of water with the tallest drop said to be 220m. It is the largest waterfall in Geirangerfjord. On the opposite side of the fjord there is another waterfall called the Suitor (also known as Friaren), and not far from it –Bridal Veil.
The legend of the seven sisters is that they dance playfully down the mountain. Meanwhile, across the fjord, the suitor (or courter) flirts playfully with them from afar. The spectacular waterfall facilitates the tourist to savor the perfect beauty. The waterfall is named so because it is said that water in the waterfall falls in seven stages, which got its name because it is said to fall in seven stages. During good season one can seven different falls side-by-side cascading the cliff, which gives the waterfall its name. It is a seven segmented waterfall that overlooks Bangladesh. The best way to see “The Seven Sisters” is by boat. Geiranger Fjordservice offers a 1.5 hour round trip with sightseeing from the months of May until September. Seven Sister Waterfall flows only during monsoon season, so the best time to come to this place is from May to September. In May-June, the waterfalls are especially beautiful – the snow begins to melt on the rocks and streams become full-flowing. In winter, the waterfalls attract climbers, fans of extreme sports. The water freezes and turns into one of the trails for lifting – the best place for those who prefer to overcome the rocks not over the stones but the glaciers.
This natural beauty won’t leave you indifferent! You can reach the neighborhoods of the Geirangerfjord by plane, bus, car or boat. You can also travel by road from Oslo by bus.
The majestic cascade of white water, gushing over the steep, nearly vertical face of the mountain from a spectacular height of 1017ft; is both breath taking and awe inspiring, making one aware that there are many forces in nature much more powerful that the human mind and body.
The name ‘Dudhsagar’ literally translates to ‘sea of milk’ which many believe is an allusion to the white spray and foam that the great waterfall creates as it cascades into the waters of the lake. The falls are at their zenith during the monsoon season, although they are a popular attraction all year round.
This waterfall is located in the Sanguem Taluka of Goa, and falls into the jurisdiction of the Goa Forest departments since it is a part of the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. One can go by road or rail to Kulem railway station and then trek to the waterfall or hire a jeep with a driver to get closer in; however, there will still be a walk to reach the base of the falls.
Myth and Legend
There is an old legend that centres round the name of the falls. The tale goes that there was once a princess who was the daughter of the King of the Ghats. This young lady was as modest as she was beautiful and believed in purity of heart, mind and body. The legend goes on that she used to bathe in the lake near her father’s castle every day.
After her bath she and her handmaidens would congregate on the shores of the lake whilst the princess consumed a jug of milk. The jug, it is said was wrought of pure gold and inlaid with sparkling diamonds.
One day, as the princess was drinking her milk, a young and handsome prince was making his way through the nearby woods. On hearing the laughter and chatter of the ladies, he stopped to have a look. The princess was much abashed by her scanty bathing attire and her handmaidens poured the milk in a cascade in front of her, thus creating a curtain behind which she could don her clothes.
This cascade of milk, which preserved the modesty of the princess, is the namesake of the Dudhsagar falls.
The river Mandovi, which is the main river of Goa, begins on the Deccan plateau in the state of Karnataka. Winding its way through the Western Ghats, this river plummets over the highest peaks on the border of Goa and Karnataka, thus forming the Dudhsagar falls. The waters form a deep green pool at the base of the falls, before continuing westward to join the Arabian Sea.
The Dudhsagar waterfall measures an impressive 310m (1017ft) in height and about 100ft in width. The waterfall splits into three streams as it pours over the near-vertical cliff face, thus forming a truly magnificent sight. This water fall is also known as Tambdi Surla to some of the local peoples.
The area around the falls is forested and falls into the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife sanctuary. There are a number of animals and birds that call this place home; and the keen observer may even be lucky enough to spot some. The roads to the falls are maintained by the Goa Forest Department, who charge visitors a nominal fee for entry and higher one for photography (Rs. 300 for a still camera and upto Rs. 5000* for professional equipment).
Reaching the falls
To reach this wondrous site, one must either go on foot or by rail. There is also a rather bumpy track that is suitable only for four wheel drive vehicles, but this track still requires visitors to trek about 1km to reach the base of the falls. There are jeeps available for hire which cost about Rs. 1200* and can carry 6 people at a time, the driver then waits at the drop off point for an hour and a half before bringing the visitors back.
The most adventurous trek starts from the village of Kuveshi. However, this trek is not available during the monsoon season as the trail crosses over the Mandovi itself, which is too rough and swollen during the monsoon months. There is also a trek that begins at the Kulhem/Collem railway station which is 11km long and offers tourists a picturesque view of the Ghats and valleys.
One of the preferred tourist treks is the one that begins at Castle Rock station in Karnataka. This trek spans about 14km of rough terrain and one should go prepared. There are also no places around the falls where food or water is available, making it advisable for visitors to carry their own.
From September to May, the tours often suggest making the trip an all-day affair with a picnic lunch surrounded by the natural beauty of the falls. There are even some tours which offer a one night stay at the base of the falls, camping in the open in tents.
During the monsoon season treks are the only way to access the waterfall since they are burgeoning with run off from the hills and can make the passage of a vehicle near impassable. Although reaching the falls in the monsoon season is difficult the sheer majesty and splendour of this natural wonder makes it worthwhile.
Image & Information copyright by goa-tourism.com & commons.wikimedia.org
Featured here is the first of the four trails in the northern district of Wayanad as conceived and promoted by Wayanad Tourism Organization (WTO) an organization taking the lead role in fostering a culture of ‘responsible and sustainable tourism’ in Wayanad.
Of the four trails, we would like to introduce first the ‘Outdoor Trail’, which would cover the following locations in the District of Wayanad.
Attractions & Places to Visit and Explore in Wayanad
At a height of 2100 metres, the towering Chembra Peak is located near Meppadi in the southern part of Wayanad. It is the tallest of peaks in the region and climbing this peak would test ones physical prowess. The climb up the Chembra Peak is an exhilarating experience, as each stage in the climb unfolds great expanses of Wayanad and the view gets wider as one goes up to its summit. Going up and coming down the peak would take a full day. Those who would like camp at the top are assured of an unforgettable experience.
Those who require camping gear may contact the District Tourism Promotion Council, located at Kalpetta in Wayanad.
Located in the southeastern part of Wayanad, and approachable from Kalpetta as well as Sulthan Bathery, Neelimala is a trekkers delight, with options for different trekking routes. At the top of Neelimala, the sight is a breathtaking one with a view to the Meenmutty falls located near by and the valley in the foreground.
Located close to Neelimala the spectacular Meenmutty falls can be reached through a 2 km trekking route from the main road connecting Ootty and Wayanad. It is the largest of waterfalls in the district of Wayanad, and adds to ones curiosity with its three stage falls dropping from about 300 metres.
Yet another waterfall that attracts visitors to Wayanad is the Chethalayam falls, located close to Sulthan Bathery in the northern part of Wayanad. This waterfall is smaller in size when compared to Meenmutty. The falls and the adjoining areas are ideal locales for trekking and a haunt for bird watchers.
Pakshipathalam is located deep within the forest in the Brahmagiri hills at an altitude of more than 1700 metres. The region predominantly comprises large boulders, some of them really massive. The deep caves found here are home to a wide variety of birds, animals and distinctive species of plants. Pakshipathalam is located near Mananthavady and a visit to the region would require a 7 km trek through the forest, starting from Thirunelli. Visitors to Pakshipathalam are to seek permission from the DFO- North Wayanad.
Banasura Sagar Dam
The dam at Banasura Sagar is reckoned as the largest earth dam in India. The dam is located in the southwestern part of Wayanad district and is close to the Karalad Lake. The project area of the Banasura Sagar Dam also has the start point for treks to the Banasura Peak. An interesting feature is a set of islands that were formed when the reservoir submerged the surrounding areas.
While you take in the captivating sights, sounds and fragrance of Wayanad, you may also shop for some specialities of Wayanad like spices, coffee, tea, bamboo products, honey and herbal plants.
For more details on ‘Outdoor Trail’ in Wayanad, please get in touch with Wayanad Tourism Organization.
Planned by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, Jaipur holds the distinction of being the first planned city of India. Renowned globally for its coloured gems, the capital city of Rajasthan combines the allure of its ancient history with all the advantages of a metropolis. The bustling modern city is one of the three corners of the golden triangle that includes Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
The story goes that in 1876, the Prince of Wales visited India on a tour. Since the colour pink was symbolic of hospitality, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the entire city pink. The pink that colours the city makes for a marvellous spectacle to behold. Jaipur rises up majestically against the backdrop of the forts Nahargarh, Jaigarh and Moti Doongri.
Jaipur traces back its origins to 1727 when it was established by Jai Singh II, the Raja of Amber. He shifted his capital from Amber to the new city because of the rapidly-growing population and an increasing water scarcity. Noted architect Vidyadhar Bhattacharya used the established principles of Vastu Shastra to build the city.
Attractions & Places to Visit and Explore in Jaipur
Amber, located about 11 kilometres from Jaipur, sits amidst picturesque and rugged hills. It incorporates both Rajput and Mughal architecture. Constructed by Raja Man Singh I in the late 16th century and completed by Mirja Raja Jai Singh, the fort is made of red sandstone and white marble.
Jaipur City Palace
The City Palace is a splendid example of the foresight that Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II had. As the founder of Jaipur, he took pains to create a magnificent walled city that encloses marvels such as the City Palace. The palace is a beautiful blend of Mughal and Rajput styles of architecture. The previous royal family continues to reside in one section of the palace. Located within the walls of the City Palace, Chandra Mahal is a seven-storeyed tower. However, the ground and first floors have now been given over for the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum.
The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is considered to be the largest of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur. It contains fourteen geometric devices, designed to measure time, track celestial bodies and observe the orbits of the planets around the sun.
The Palace of Winds was constructed in 1799 by the poet-king Sawai Pratap Singh. The five-storied structure is made of pink sandstone and has 356 intricately carved jharokhas (windows). It was designed for the women of the royal family to sit in privacy while observing life on the street.
Albert Hall Museum
The building gets its name from The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the inspiration for its design. The exquisitely built Albert Hall is housed in the centre of Ram Niwas Garden. Sir Swinton Jacob (who is also the mastermind behind many other palaces in Rajasthan) conceptualised and designed it using styles from the Indo-Sarcenic architecture and the Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone of the building in 1876. The museum displays a wide range of metal objects, wood crafts, carpets, stone and metal sculptures, arms and weapons, natural stones and ivory goods. It also houses a large collection of miniatures from Bundi, Kota, Kishangarh, Udaipur and Jaipur schools of art.
The northern frontier of Jaipur is fortified by Nahargarh Fort. Situated on a rough crest of the Aravalli range, the fort, which literally means ‘abode of the tigers’, was built in 1734 by Jai Singh to further defend Amber. Later, in 1868, the fort was extended to its present size.
Of the three hilltop forts that overlook the city of Jaipur, Jaigarh is perhaps the most magnificent of them all. About 15 kilometres from Jaipur, it was built by Sawai Jai Singh II sometime in the early 18th century amidst the arid, rocky and thorn-scrub covered hills. Despite its ancient construction, it still retains most of its imposing citadel appearance. Visitors can see the world’s largest canon – Jaiban, at the fort.
Lakshmi Narayan Temple
The Lakshmi-Narayan Temple, also known as the Birla Temple, is a comparatively newer temple built by the Birlas (a noted industrialist family). The temple, constructed entirely of white marble, is home to the deities of Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi.
One of the most wonderful sights in Jaipur is the beautiful Jal Mahal or Lake Palace. The light, sand coloured stone walls and the deep blue of the water make for a wonderful contrast. The palace appears to float in the centre of Man Sagar Lake, where its magnificent exteriors can be enjoyed by tourists.
Just off the Jaipur-Amber road is Gaitore, where the former Maharajas of Jaipur are entombed. The chhatris (cenotaphs), made of white marble display the distinctive Rajput style of architecture. The open pavilions with ornate domes are supported by delicately sculpted pillars. The crematorium is located in the middle of yellow sandstone hills. The décor and extravagance of a particular chattri is meant to reflect the stature and prowess of the ruler it contains. The most graceful and beautiful chattri at Gaitor is that of Maharaja Jai Singh with 20 carved pillars. Tourists are especially drawn towards it because of its intricate carvings.
Sisodia Rani Palace and Garden
Sisodia Rani Palace and Garden is located 8 kilometres from Jaipur on the Agra road. Laid out in Mughal style, it is painted with the legends of Radha and Krishna. The garden is multi-tiered and has fountains, water courses and painted pavilions. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II built it for his Sisodia queen.
Located near Sisodia Garden, this is yet another beautiful garden which is a must-see for visitors. It is named after Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, the Chief Architect of Jaipur.
Central Park is a large green zone right in the centre of Jaipur that offers city dwellers a spot for a moment of respite. Conceptualised and built by the Jaipur Development Authority, it is Jaipur’s largest park. It houses a lush garden, the Polo Ground and a golf club. However, the highlight of the park is India’s first all-day-and-all-night monumental National Flag which also happens to be the country’s tallest flagpole.
Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing
At a mere ten-minute walk through the cobbled streets of Amber lies the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing. Located in a magnificently restored haveli (mansion), the museum displays a varied selection of block-printed textiles alongside images, tools and related objects – all chosen to provide an in-depth look into the complexity of this ancient tradition.
Govind Devji Temple
The Krishna temple is a rare spire-less temple and houses the idol of Govind Devji that Sawai Jai Singh brought from Vrindavan. The deity, worshipped by the erstwhile royal family, is also revered by the Hindus in Jaipur and nearby areas.
Rising from the middle of Jaipur is a small pearl-shaped hill called Moti Doongri. At the top of the hill sits an exotic palace – a replica of a Scottish castle – which is the private property of the royal family. The highlight of Moti Doongri is a famous and auspicious temple of Lord Ganesh located at the foothill.
Akshardham Temple at Vaishali Nagar is among the most popular attractions for tourists visiting Jaipur. The temple, dedicated to the god Narayan, is well-known because of the beautiful architecture that includes magnificent idols, lifelike sculptures and intricate carvings.
Digamber Jain Mandir
The ancient Digamber Jain temple at Jaipur is in Sanganer, 14 km from the city. The principal idol in the Sanghiji Temple is of Lord Adinath in the Padmasan (lotus position) posture. The temple is made of red stone and has attractive carvings. The seven-storied temple has sky-high ‘shikharas’ (spires) and its inner sanctum is a stone shrine with eight sky-high shikharas.
Galtaji is an ancient pilgrimage centre in Jaipur. Set amidst low hills and packed with locals and tourists alike, the attractive spot has temples, pavilions and holy kunds (natural springs and water tanks). Visitors to Galtaji will come across the complex of Ramgopalji temple, locally called the Monkey temple (Galwar Bagh). It gets this moniker because of a large group of resident monkeys. The green landscape and chattering monkeys add to the delight of the area. On top of the hill is a small temple dedicated to the sun god, called the Surya Mandir. Constructed by Diwan Kriparam, the temple can be seen from anywhere in the city.
A life-size white marble statue of Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur, stands tall in the middle of a circle in the C-Scheme area. Erected in his honour, the statue pays homage to the founder of Jaipur.
Ram Niwas Garden
This historical garden was built by Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh in 1868. Located in the heart of the city, the garden houses the Albert Hall Museum (now known as Central Museum), a bird park, a zoo, the Ravindra Rang Manch theatre, an art gallery and an exhibition ground.
The Zoological Garden or Jaipur Zoo was founded by Sawai Raja Pratap Singh in the year 1868. It is located in Ram Niwas Bagh, within walking distance of the famous Albert Hall.
Located at the foothills of Nahargarh hills on the way to Amber, Kanak Vrindavan is popular among the locals for picnics. The beautifully landscaped garden houses an intricately carved temple, several terrace sites, marble columns and lattices, making it a dream location for film shoots as well.
Ishwar Lat, also known as Swarg Suli is a 60 feet high grand minaret in Jaipur. Also called ‘Swarg Suli’ or ‘heaven piercing minaret’, this tower near Tripolia Gate was built by Raja Ishwari Singh in 1749 A.D to commemorate a grand victory against his brother Madho Singh in the Bagru war. Ishwar Lat offers a breath-taking view of Jaipur. Another popular story about Ishwar Lat goes that Maharaja Ishwari Singh built it to secretly view and admire the beautiful daughter of Prime Minister Argobind Natani. She lived in the haveli opposite Swarg Suli and the Maharaja was said to be in love with her.
Amar Jawan Jyoti
The Amar Jawan Jyoti, or the ‘flame of the immortal soldiers’, is a memorial dedicated to the martyrs of Rajasthan. This memorial is situated near Jaipur’s Vidhan Sabha Bhawan (Legislative Assembly).The key attraction of the Amar Jawan Jyoti is that the torches at the four corners of the structure are always burning. In evenings, this formidable structure is attractively lit up in vivid colours. The brilliant lighting effects make this a picturesque spot a favourite with tourists.
Maharani Ki Chhatri
Maharani Ki Chhatri was a special funeral area for women belonging to Jaipur’s royal family and is located on the way to Amber fort. This crematorium has several exquisitely carved cenotaphs built to commemorate them. The cenotaphs are either built with marble or the local stones. As a popular belief, a cenotaph was finished with a roof structure only if the queen died before her king. In case she died after the king, it would remain unfinished. One of the significant features of these cenotaphs is the use of chhatri (umbrella), a quintessential architectural style of the Rajputs. The magnificent beauty and the historical significance of Maharani ki Chhatri makes it one of the most visited tourist attractions in Jaipur.
Nahargarh Biological Park
Nahargarh Biological Park, a part of the Nahargarh sanctuary is located about 12 km from Jaipur on the Jaipur-Delhi highway. It encompasses a large area of 720 hectares and is situated under the Aravalli range. The Park is famous for its vast flora and fauna, and its main aim is to conserve it. It also doubles up as a great place to educate people and conduct research on existing flora and fauna.
How to Reach Here
By air: The Jaipur International Airport is called Sanganer Airport. There are domestic flight connections to and from Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Udaipur and several other places. There are also international flights from Jaipur to Dubai and Muscat as well.
By road: A convenient way to travel to Jaipur is by road. Regular service of AC and Deluxe buses is available from all major cities in Rajasthan.
By rail: Jaipur is connected via rail from Delhi, Agra, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, etc.
Image & Information copyright by tourism.rajasthan.gov.in
Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan is popularly known as the Blue City. The name is clearly befitting as most of the architecture – forts, palaces, temples, havelis and even houses are built in vivid shades of blue. The strapping forts that tower this magnificent city sum up to a spectacle you would not want to miss. The mammoth, imposing fortress of Mehrangarh has a landscape dominating a rocky ridge with the eight gates leading out of the fortress. The new city is located outside the structure. Jodhpur is also known for the rare breed of horses known as Marwari or Malani, which are only found here.
Jodhpur marks its origin back to the year of 1459 AD. The history of this prosperous city revolves around the Rathore clan. Rao Jodha, the chief of Rathore Clan is credited with the origin of Jodhpur in India. The city is known to be built in place of the ancient capital, Mandore of the state of Manwar. Hence, the people of Jodhpur and surrounding areas are commonly known as Marwaris. Also, it is believed that the relics of Mandore can still be witnessed in the Mandore Gardens.
ATTRACTIONS & PLACES TO VISIT AND EXPLORE IN JODHPUR
Rising perpendicular and impregnable from a hill which is 125 metres above Jodhpur’s skyline is the Mehrangarh Fort. This historic fort is one of the most famous in India and is packed with history and legends. Mehrangarh Fort still bears the imprints of cannonball attacks courtesy the armies of Jaipur on its second gate. Chiselled and sturdy, the fort is known for its exquisite latticed windows, carved panels, intricately decorated windows and walls of Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal and Sheesh Mahal.
Located 85 kilometres from the main city, the 400-year old Khejarla Fort is situated in a rural setting. The stunning red sandstone monument, now a hotel, is an example of Rajput architecture. Visitors will be mesmerised by the fort’s picturesque settings, latticework friezes and intricate Jharokas.
UMAID BHAWAN PALACE
Umaid Bhawan Palace was built by Maharaja Umaid Singh in 1929 to counter a famine which had hit the state at the time. It was also known as the Chittar Palace while being constructed thanks to the use of stones drawn from the Chittar hill. The palace was designed by HV Lanchester, a renowned British architect, and was completed in 16 years. Built with sandstone and marble, the architecture of the palace is described as a blend of lndo-Saracenic, Classical Revival and Western Art Deco styles. It is recognised as one of the largest private homes in the world and also one of the more spectacular buildings. It is the only palace built in the 20th century.
Moti Mahal, as the name suggests, is the Pearl Hall where the royal families held their audience. The hall is known to have glass windows and five nooks that enabled the queens to listen to the proceedings taking place in the Sringar Chowki, The Royal Throne of Jodhpur.
Situated within the compound of Mehrangarh Fort is the glass palace of Jodhpur, popularly known as Sheesh Mahal. This magnificent piece of architecture is adorned with walls of mirror work that stretch across ceilings and to the floors. It is superimposed by the mirror work of brightly painted religious figures cast in plaster.
Going by the name, the Phool Mahal or Flower Hall is the most exorbitant of all the halls in the palace. This beautiful chamber is said to be the pleasure dome for the Maharajas. The gold used for constructing the Mahal came from Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
CHAMUNDA MATAJI TEMPLE
Chamunda Mataji was Rao Jodha’s favourite goddess and so her idol was bought to the Mehrangarh Fort. Thus, the fort became a place of worship and was turned into a temple. Since then, locals have followed the culture of worshipping Chamunda Mata. In fact, till date, the goddess remains the Isht Devi (the adopted goddess) of Maharajas and the royal family.
Located near the Fateh Pole in Mehrangarh, the Ranisar and Padmasar are adjacent lakes that were constructed in the year 1459. Ranisar Lake was built on orders of Queen Jasmade Hadi, Rao Jodha’s wife while Padmasar Lake was ordered by Queen Padmini of Rao Ganga, daughter of Rana Sanga of Mewar.
JODHPUR GOVERNMENT MUSEUM
The government museum, located in Umaid Garden, houses a rich collection of relics including armoury, textiles, local art and crafts, miniature paintings, portraits of rulers, manuscripts and images of the Jain Tirthankaras. Wildlife lovers can also visit the zoo, which is located close by.
This milky white memorial built towards the end of the 19th century as a tribute to the leader Jaswant Singh is a huge tourist attraction. Jaswant Singh, who ruled Jodhpur, invested well in his state. He made attempts to bring down the level of crime, subdue dacoits, built railways and broadly worked on raising the economy of Marwar.
Ghanta Ghar, also known as the clock tower of Rajasthan, is situated in one of the busiest areas of Jodhpur, the Sadar Bazaar. It was constructed by Shri Sardar Singh Ji of Jodhpur. The Sadar Market is quite popular among tourists, who throng the streets to purchase Rajasthani textiles, clay figurines, miniature camels and elephants, marble inlay work and classic silver jewellery.
Mahamandir, meaning great temple, is a sanctified spot where tranquillity reigns supreme. Situated on Mandore road, the temple is an architectural wonder. It is supported by 84 pillars and ornamented with detailed designs and figures depicting various postures of Yoga.
The Mandaleshwar Mahadev was built by Mandal Nath in AD 923. It is believed to be one of the oldest shrines in the city. The walls of the temple have some beautiful paintings of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
SARDAR SAMAND LAKE AND PALACE
Built on the banks of the Sardar Samand Lake by Maharaja Umaid Singh in 1933, the Sardar Samand Lake Palace is a spectacular hunting lodge. It remains the royal family’s favourite retreat and houses a vast collection of African trophies and original watercolour paintings. The lake attracts several migratory and local birds such as the yellow-legged green pigeon, Himalayan griffon and Dalmatian pelican, making it a bird watcher’s paradise.
Masuria garden is one of the three most beautiful and famous gardens of Rajasthan. Located on top of the Masuria hill in the middle of Jodhpur, it is popular among devotees because of the centuries-old temple dedicated to a local deity, Baba Ramdev. There is a restaurant located here which offers a stunning panoramic view of the city.
Shastri Circle is a traffic roundabout in the middle of Jodhpur City. While it has a job to do during the day, it is most spectacular at night, when it comes to life with lights and fountains. This draws locals as well as tourists to the spot.
Towards the north of Jodhpur is the ancient capital of Marwar, Mandore. This area is of major historical importance and you will find the dewals or cenotaphs of Jodhpur’s former rulers. Unlike the original chhatri-shaped cenotaphs that are typical patterns of Rajasthan architecture, these are built along the lines of Hindu temples.
Situated on Jaisalmer road, this small artificial lake is an ideal picnic spot. It is like a canvas with a splash of romantic colours. The beauty of the lake stays with you long after you’ve experienced it. For those who’d like to go out on to the lake, boating facilities are also available through R.T.D.C.
MACHIYA SAFARI PARK
This park is situated on the way to Jaisalmer, about 1 kilometre from Kailana Lake. It offers a bird watching point for visitors and is also home to several animals such as deer, desert foxes, monitor lizards, blue bulls, hare, wild cats, mongoose, monkeys, etc. The park also offers spectacular views of sunset and should not be missed.
Situated right in the middle of Pali city, the Somnath temple is known for its historical background and sculptures. It was built by the King of Gujarat, Kumarpal Solanki in the year 1920 and is home to many smaller temples of other gods and goddesses.
Balsamand Lake is about 5 kilometres from Jodhpur on the Jodhpur-Mandore Road. Built in 1159 AD, it was planned as a water reservoir to cater to Mandore. The Balsamand Lake Palace was built on its shore later as a summer palace. It is surrounded by lush green gardens that house groves of trees such as mango, papaya, pomegranate, guava and plum. Animals and birds like the jackal and peacock also call this place home. This lake is now a popular picnic spot with tourists and locals.
Guda, a Bishnoi village, is home to a vivid range of exotic wildlife and nature. It is a habitat for thousands of migratory birds in the area. One can often catch the Demoiselle crane frolicking at the lake. Antelopes and black bucks can also be spotted by the pond. This place is a must-visit for nature lovers.
HOW TO REACH HERE
By air: Jodhpur is connected to Delhi and Mumbai and the airport is about 5 kilometres from the city centre.
By road: Jodhpur is well-connected by road to all major cities and towns.
By rail: Jodhpur is well-connected by direct trains from all metros and major cities in India
Image & Information copyright by tourism.rajasthan.gov.in
The city of Ajmer gets its name from ‘Ajay Meru’. Roughly translated, it means ‘invincible hills’. Nestled in the Aravallis south west of Jaipur, Ajmer was founded by Raja Ajaypal Chauhan in the 7th century AD. Till the late 12th century AD, Ajmer was the epicentre of the Chauhan dynasty. After Prithviraj Chauhan’s loss to Mohammed Ghori in 1193 AD, Ajmer became home to several dynasties. The Mughals in particular, fancied it as their favourite destination due to the presence of the holy Ajmer Sharif Dargah.
One of the early meetings between the Mughal King Jahangir and the Ambassador of the Court of Queen Elizabeth, Sir Thomas Roe, took place here in 1616. A few centuries later, the city was handed over to the British, making Ajmer the only region in Rajputana to be directly controlled by the East India Company. Ajmer is now regarded as an educational and cultural centre.
Ajmer is home to the famous Dargah Sharif, which houses the Tomb of Garib Nawaz, also known as Moinuddin Chisti, the founder of the Chisti order of Sufism. Ajmer is also known for Mayo College, one of the country’s first schools that was a stepping stone for British style of education. It is also a sacred city for Hindus and Muslims alike and is renowned for being a centre of history and culture and beauty.
ATTRACTIONS & PLACES TO VISIT AND EXPLORE IN AJMER
THE AJMER SHARIF DARGAH
The Ajmer Sharif Dargah is considered to be among the holiest Muslim shrines in India and is also a famous landmark in Ajmer. Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti, the Sufi saint from Persia is enshrined here. In keeping with his secular teachings, its doors are open to people of all faiths and religions. Some say that Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti believed he was a direct descendant of Muhammad and preached his beliefs to the masses. While on his world travel, he was urged by Muhammad, in a dream, to visit India. He reached Ajmer, via Lahore, and made it his home from 1192 till his death in 1236 AD. The shrine was built by Mughal King Humayun in honour of this saint. You can step inside the Dargah through a series of massive silver doors that lead into a courtyard where the saint’s tomb is centred. Made of marble and gold plating, the actual tomb is guarded by a silver railing and a marble screen. During his reign, Emperor Akbar made a pilgrimage to Ajmer every year. He, as well as Emperor Shah Jahan, built mosques inside the shrine complex. Visitors to the shrine are awed by the atmosphere of peace and serenity that the combined effects of flowers, sweets and burning incense sticks create.
ADHAI DIN KA JHONPDA
The Adhai Din Ka Jhonpda was originally built to function as a Sanskrit college but was later converted into a mosque by Sultan Ghori in 1198 AD. An impressive blend of Indo-Islamic architecture, the structure was further beautified by Sultan Iltutmish in 1213 AD. Legend has it that the mosque is known as Adhai din ka Jhonpda (literally meaning, The Hut of Two and a Half Days) because of a two and half day fair held here during Urs in the 18th century.
Mayo College is one of India’s oldest independent boarding schools. Founded in 1875, and named after Richard Bourke, the 6th Earl of Mayo, Mayo College was set up to provide the scions of India’s princely states with an education similar to that provided by the Eton College in Britain. John Lockwood Kipling, father of Nobel Laureate, Rudyard Kipling, as principal of Mayo College, furnished the design of the Coat of Arms which shows a Rajput and a Bhil warrior. The college building is one of the finest extant examples of Indo-Saracenic style of architecture.
Anasagar Lake is a scenic artificial lake, commissioned and built by Arnoraj Chauhan, son of Ajaypal Chauhan, between 1135 and 1150 AD. Arnoraj was also known as Anaji, which gives the lake its name. Many years later, Mughal Emperor Jahangir added his touch to the lake by laying out the Daulat Bagh Gardens near the lake. Emperor Shah Jahan too, contributed to the expansion by building five pavilions, known as the Baradari, between the garden and the lake.
SONIJI KI NASIYAN
Soniji ki Nasiyan, also known as the Ajmer Jain Temple, is a wonderful example of ornate architecture, and is dedicated to Risabh or Adinath. Its entrance is made of red stone and the marble staircase inside is engraved with images of the holy Tirthankars – omniscient teachers of Jain faith who taught righteousness. Constructed in the late 19th century, this temple is counted among the richest temples in India. Its main chamber, Swarna Nagari (City of Gold), is aptly named so because of the several gold-plated wooden figures it houses within its walls. This famous architectural marvel finds a mention in Kurt Titze’s book, ‘Jainism: A Pictorial Guide to the Religion of Non-Violence.’
LAKE FOY SAGAR
A beautiful artificial lake that appears flat, Lake Foy Sagar was built by an English engineer, Mr. Foy in 1892 AD. Interestingly, this work was taken up to provide famine relief through wage employment to locals. Lake Foy Sagar offers a beautiful view of the Aravalli range.
NARELI JAIN TEMPLE
The Nareli Jain Temple in Ajmer, also known as the Shri Gyandoaya Tirth Kshetra, is situated on the outskirts of Ajmer on the national highway to Jaipur. This modern edifice is celebrated for being a perfect blend of traditional and contemporary architectural styles. It consists of 24 miniature temples in its vicinity. Known as Jainalay, they represent the Jain Thirthankars. The Nareli Jain Temple is an important point of pilgrimage for Digambara Jains.
SAI BABA TEMPLE
Spread over an area of over five bheegas (or over two acres) at Ajay Nagar, the Sai Baba Temple in Ajmer was constructed by Suresh K Lal, a resident of the Garib Nawaz City in 1999. It’s one of the most recent pieces of architecture and is very popular among all Sai Baba devotees. The temple is built with the purest form of marble that possesses the unique quality of a translucent stone, allowing light to pass through it. Every Sai Baba disciple should definitely visit this shrine once in their lifetime.
AJMER GOVERNMENT MUSEUM
The Ajmer Government Museum serves as one of the prime tourist destinations in Ajmer. The museum is housed within the magnificent fortified palace of the legendary Mughal Emperor Akbar, which was built in 1570. The museum is also known as Bharatpur Museum and is home to a rich collection of archaeological artefacts. Along with stone sculptures, inscriptions and armours, it features the finest paintings of the previous Maharajas of Bharatpur.
HOW TO REACH HERE
By air: The Jaipur Airport is the closest and is located 138 kilometres away.
By road: You can hop on to a bus from almost any city in and around Rajasthan and get here. These include Jaipur, Agra, Aligarh, Bikaner, Bharatpur, Barmer, Haridwar, Chittorgarh, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Nagaur.
By rail: Ajmer is located on the Delhi-Jaipur-Marwar-Ahmedabad-Mumbai railway line. It is well connected by rail as most trains on this route halt at Ajmer.
Image & Information copyright by upload.wikimedia.org & tourism.rajasthan.gov.in
In Gir you touch the history of India before humanity itself. Before monuments, temples, mosques and palaces. Or rather, a history as humanity was emerging, when humans coexisted with lions, before the former had overrun the continent (and the world) and pushed the latter to the brink of extinction.
Many come to Gir because, outside of Africa, it is the only place with wild lions. But to truly experience Gir and the lions, you must explore their natural habitat, with everything from tiny wild birds, not easily seen, but heard singing in the forest canopy, to crocodiles floating in the marsh waters.
Driving around, you are uncommonly aware you are in someone else’s territory. You stay in your vehicle because you are in the home of lions, leopards, hyenas, crocodiles; you remember that humans do not rule the world, and however “advanced” we think we are, most of us would not survive very long on our own in a place like Gir.
That is not to say that all humans are out of place. The local Maldhari community has lived here for generations and coexists magnificently with the wilderness. They sustain themselves by grazing their livestock and harvesting what they need from the forest. The sizeable portion of their herds lost to lions and other predators is considered prasad, offered in exchange for living in another’s homeland.
How many of us are aware, let alone as concientious as the Maldharis about the impact of our lifestyle on other species? How can we be, if we so distance ourselves from the habitats that are ravaged to feed our material appetites? When you visit Gir, try to see the Maldharis not with nostalgia for a picturesque past, but as crucial teachers for a better present and future. You don’t have to be a shepherd living with wild lions to learn from their way of life. Ask yourself why we have reached the point where National Parks like Gir are necessary; what happened to these lions who used to inhabit everywhere from Greece to Bangladesh. If you begin to understand the deeper implications of these questions, you will return home, whether home is a hut in the countryside, or a high-rise apartment, whether in Mumbai or Berlin, charged with new inspiration for evolution in your own life.
Gir is a place that deserves time and involvement. Your chances of spotting wildlife in a few hours is small, especially in the middle of the day; to truly experience the wonders of the Gir forest, and hopefully see a wide variety of its diverse wildlife, three or four days is recommended, particularly with a knowledgeable guide. This will vastly improve the depth of your visit.
While Gir is most famous for its lions, the park is one of the most diverse places in Gujarat, both in flora and fauna.
Most of the area is rugged hills, with high ridges and densely forested valleys, wide grassland plateaus, and isolated hilltops. Around half of the forested area of the park is teak forest, with other trees such as khair, dhavdo, timru, amla, and many others. The other half is non-teak forest, with samai, simal, khakhro and asundro jambu, umro, amli, vad and kalam; mostly broadleaf and evergreen trees. The river Hiran is the only one to flow year-round; the rest are seasonal. There are also areas of the park with open scrub and savannah-type grassland.
Deer and Antelope
This variety of vegetation provides for a huge array of animals. The most-sighted animal in the park, the chital, or Indian spotted deer, inhabits the dry and mixed deciduous forest, with a population of over 32,000. The more reclusive sambar, the largest of the Indian deer species, weighing 300-500 kg, lives in the wetter western part of the park. Both the sambar and the chausingha, the world’s only 4-horned antelope (chau= four, singha= horns), are very dependent on water, and rarely found far from a water source. Another one-of-a-kind is the chinkara, the only gazelle in the world with horns in both males and females. The fastest of the Indian antelopes, the blackbuck, also lives in Gir, but has a relatively small population here compared to Velavadar National Park (near Bhavnagar), as it prefers open grasslands to forests.
Along with the famous lions, who number around 350, the park is also home to four other wild cats. There are around 300 leopards, though they are nocturnal and thus harder to spot. Of the three smaller wildcats, the jungle cat is the most widespread, and lives in deciduous scrub and riverine areas. The mysterious desert cat is almost never seen. The rusty spotted cat, previously thought to only live in the Dangs of southeast Gujarat, has only recently been found in Gir.
Other animals and reptiles
The top and middle canopies of the dry, mixed and riverine decidous forests are home to troops of hanuman langur monkeys. The striped hyena is usually seen scavenging alone in the grasslands and scrub forest, far more solitary than the African hyena. Wild boars rooting into the ground for tuber provide aeration of the soil. If you look closer, you may see smaller mammals like pangolins, pale hedgehogs, Indian hares, or grey musk shrews. The ratel or honey badger is renowned for its snake-killing exploits, earning it the “most fearless animal” title in the Guinness Book of World Records. Another snake-killer in Gir is the ruddy mongoose; the snakes they contend with include the common krait, russell’s viper, and the saw-scaled viper. The Kamaleshwar reservoir now houses the largest population of marsh crocodiles in the country. Other reptiles include the soft-shelled turtle, star tortoise, Indian rock python and monitor lizard (which grows to over 1.5 m long; don’t look for the lizards that live in your yard.)
Gir is also home to more kinds of birds than any other park in Gujarat, yet somehow is not known for its birdlife. While it may not have the half-million flamingoes found in Kutch during breeding season, Gir is home to over 300 species of birds, many of which can be seen year-round, from the Malabar whistling thrush to the Paradise flycatcher, from the crested serpent eagle to the king vulture, from pelicans to painted storks. The noted ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali said that if there were no lions here, Gir would be well-known as one of the best bird sanctuaries in western India.
The Asiatic Lion
Until the early 19th century, Asiatic lions roamed an immense area of South and Southwest Asia, as far east as Greece and as far west as modern Bangladesh. As humanity has lived in this region for millennia, people coexisted with lions for thousands of years, but in the last few centuries, the growth of the human population has come at the cost of the lions’ habitat. Like the Bengal Tiger and the Asiatic Cheetah, lions saw a dramatic decline in population as their preferred habitat of grasslands and semi-forested areas became overrun with humans. Beyond just habitat reduction, though, once guns arrived and became widespread, from 1800-1860, nearly all the lions remaining outside Gujarat were hunted and killed. The last Asiatic lions in India outside of Gir forest were killed in 1886 at Rewah, and the last wild lion sighted the world outside Gir was in Iran in 1941.
In 1901, Lord Curzon was offered to be taken lion hunting while visiting Junagadh. Noting that these were the only lions left in Asia, he declined, and reportedly suggested to the Nawab of Junagadh that it would be better to conserve the lion population than to hunt it. The Nawab began what was probably the first institutional wildlife conservation effort in India and one of the earliest in the world (though various human societies have been operating in ways that conserve wildlife throughout the ages), banning all lion hunting entirely. From a population reported to be as low as 20 in 1913 (considered exaggerated by some wildlife experts, noting that the first official census in the 1930s found over 200 lions), the lions have rebounded to now number 359 in the most recent census of 2005. This is due almost entirely to the Nawab’s conservation efforts, and the Indian Government’s post-independence ban on lion killing in 1955.
Though the lions have maintained a small healthy population, their habitat continues to shrink, and they remain a critically endangered species. The Gir forest area, which covered over 3000 square km in 1880, was reduced to just over 2500 square km by the mid-20th century, and only 1400 square km today. Of that, a mere 258 square km make up the National Park itself. While the population has grown due to successful conservation programs in the park, the park is too small for the number of lions it now houses, and lions are straying outside to seek further living space, often not surviving well in the other areas.
Locally called sher or sinh, the Asiatic lion is over two and a half meters long, weighs 115 to 200 kg, and can run short distances at 65 km/h to chase down the sambar, chital, nilgai, and chinkara that are its preferred prey. However, when not hungry, it will never attack an animal; after a lion makes a kill, it will gorge itself on up to 75 kg of meat, and then not worry about eating for a few days, so it is not unusual to see a well-fed lion lounging calmly beside a herd of grazing deer. The lions prefer open scrub and deciduous forest areas, and are very bold, not shy around humans. So even if they seem tame or timid, do not approach them, they are still very powerful wild animals.
Humans and Gir
Humans’ relationship with Gir is long and mixed. The very existence of a sanctuary is testament to the dire need of a protected area, given the rapid expanse of civilization that has completely taken over everywhere else around (see above section on the lion.) After India’s independence in 1947, the rapid push for food independence led much wild grassland to be converted to agriculture. This had major effects on the wildlife of Saurashtra, but also on the human population; as large-scale farming spread across the region, those peoples who traditionally herded livestock in wild grasslands were pushed further and further into much more limited regions. Faced with this situation, the Maldhari community migrated into the Gir forest despite obvious dangers and a total lack of infrastructure, in order to maintain their way of life. When the park was declared, they were allowed to remain and continue their traditional practices; in fact, Gir forest is now virtually the only area where the Maldharis still live as they wish.
As herders, they shepherd their cattle and buffalo around the park, which opponents (including the Forest Department) claim overgrazes the area and makes it harder for the wild deer, antelope, and other species to graze as well. However, recent studies have shown that between 25 and 50% of the Gir lions’ diet is made up of Maldhari livestock, meaning that the presence of the Maldharis is vital to the survival of the lions. In fact, the Maldharis apparently consider livestock lost to predators as payment for living in their territory. Furthermore, as vegetarians, the Maldharis are never poachers.
Compare this attitude with that of farmers near the park, who have killed many lions who they say “encroached on their land,” not realizing that they have in fact encroached on the lions’ land, and the lions of course cannot know where people have drawn the park boundary line. The humans who do know this, however, often graze cattle illegally inside the park adding further pressure on the ecosystem from the 97 villages within 5 km of the park. For these reasons and many others, the Gir forest and the critically endangered lions are under increasing threat from human activity.
Tourism itself is a growing threat to Gir. Clearly, the genuine visitor is beneficial, but tens of thousands of people visit the park every year simply as an afterthought to their trip to Somnath or Junagadh, stopping in for a few hours to snap a photograph of the lions in captivity. These visitors create a huge demand for infrastructure but do little of benefit to the park or the lions, not even staying long enough to really experience it or learn much at all. The presence of several temples inside the park also puts strain on the ecosystem, as visitors to them also demand accommodation and infrastructure that often conflicts with the park’s conservation goals, leading to great controversy and political tension between park management and temple management.
While all of these threats may have distinct immediate origins, they are in fact all the result of having reached a point where wild natural environments are confined to extremely limited areas, and human civilization, industry and economy has overtaken everything else. The problem is not, in fact, that the lion population has grown “too big for the park,” but that the park is far too small for the lions. As a visitor, let this be an opportunity to spark your imagination on the question of shifting the priorities of humanity towards re-integrating ourselves with the rest of life.
For shorter visits, the Gir Interpretation Zone, at Devalia, 12 km west of Sasan Gir, has some lions in captivity, but this is not the same as visiting them in the wild. After all, to see a lion in captivity you can visit a local zoo; come to Gir to see them in the wild. Entry fees for the Interpretation Centre (different from the park itself) are, for Indians Rs. 75/- Mon.-Fri, Rs.95/- Sat.-Sun, Rs. 115/- on Holidays and for foreigners US$20, payable only in rupees.
Use official guides.
Do not rouse, feed, or disturb wildlife
No smoking whatsoever (cigarette butts cause many forest fires.)
No flash or intrusive photography
Picking plants or insects prohibited; do not remove anything from the park
No walking or hiking allowed in the park, for safety; always travel in vehicles, preferably with a guide.
No quick or sudden movements to scare off wildlife.
No littering. Trash is only to be disposed of in proper receptacles.
No picnicking or camping, use only designated areas.
No hunting devices or other weapons.
Carry lots of water.
Carry field guides to learn about your surroundings.
A permit for entering the park can be obtained at the Sinh Sadan Orientation Centre, Open from 07.00 am to 11.00 am and 03.00 pm to 05.30 pm
For more information, contact the Forest Dept. at Sasan Gir 02877 285541.
By road: A permit for entering the park is obtained at the Sinh Sadan Orientation Centre, Visit Gujarat Forest Department Website for timing. A 35-40 km driving route through the park is maintained for visitors. (IMPORTANT NOTE: Unless traveling with an official and experienced guide, you must not leave your vehicle at any time, for your own safety as well as the well-being of the park and its inhabitants.) Entry fees, per vehicle with up to 6 occupants, are, for Indians- Rs. 400/- Mon.-Fri., Rs. 500/- Sat.-Sun., and Rs. 600/- for holidays. Entry for foreigners US$40 (must be paid in rupees.) For more information, contact the Forest Dept. at Sasan Gir, Tel: 02877 285541. Gir National Park is 60 km from Junagadh, the most common base for making a visit, and 360 km from Ahmedabad. The main centre is at Sasan Gir, and has a forest guest house maintained by the park, just opposite the railway station.
By rail:One can travel by rail to Junagadh from Ahmedabad or Rajkot and then take a 65 km road trip on bus or taxi to Sasan Gir.
Agatti is located 459km off Cochin. It is six km long and about a kilometre wide. In Agatti, coral growths and multi-coloured coral fishes abound in its lagoons. Agatti is perhaps the only island besides Minicoy that gets surplus fish as fishing is the main occupation. Agatti is a part of the Lakshadweep Islands, which is the smallest union territory of India.
Agatti is one of the Lakshadweep islands open to tourism. Visitors, however, are allowed to the Island under certain restrictions. They are required to obtain Entry Permit from the Lakshadweep Administration for entering or visiting the island. Entry Permit is issued based on the visitor having a confirmed place to stay. There are only two hotels or resorts in Agatti:
1. Agatti Island Beach Resort (AIBER) and 2. Sea Shells Beach Resort.
A road runs through the island, which can be best enjoyed by hiring a bicycle available at many places. Agatti Islands are visited as a getaway for its remoteness and crystal clear waters & White sand beaches. Scuba diving enthusiasts and activity centric guests arrive here to unexplore coral sites around the area and experience the remoteness and beauty. Activities at Agatti comprise swimming in crystal clear waters, snorkelling and scuba diving Deep Sea Fishing, sailing, glass bottom boat rides, water skiing and kayaking are amazing.
Recently reviewed tourist attractions in Agatti, which are great places to visit, are Museum,Bangaram Island. Agatti can be visited in summer, monsoon or winter
The museum in Agatti Island is located 2 km from the beach near a village. It takes around INR250 in an autorickshaw from the jetty. Motor cycles can also be hired to travel the 2 km distance. The museum is a government run museum which contains various replicas and sculptures of marine life. Various corals, shells, fish and aquatic animals are found in aquarium like enclosures. Trinkets like ornaments, headgear, clothing, etc. belonging to the tribes from different parts of the Lakshadweep islands are found in this place. In the entrance to the museum is a large cannon.
Bangaram Island is one of the inhabited islands in Lakshadweep. Boat tours to Bangaram take around 2 hours. There is a Bangaram Resort in this island. During a visit to the Bangaram islands, snorkelling, diving and scuba diving can be done. Lunch can be had on the island, or packed food can be arranged from Agatti. The area of the shipwreck beyond the reefs is a place full of fish and corals, where diving can be done. The trip to Bangaram Island starts at around noon and the return to the Agatti Island is possible in the evening.
Lunch can be had on the island, or packed food can be arranged from Agatti. The area of the shipwreck beyond the reefs is a place full of fish and corals, where diving can be done. The trip to Bangaram Island starts at around noon and the return to the Agatti Island is possible in the evening.
How to reach :
Lakshwadeep is connected to Cochin by sea route. Seven passenger ships operate between the two ports and it takes 14–20 hours for the passage. These ships have modern facilities that includes entertainment area, video shows, cafeteria and offer comfortable A/C accommodation.
Agatti airport is well known domestic airport situated in the southern end of Agatti island of Lakshadweep a union territory of India. This is the only airport in Lakshadweep that offers services to all island situated here.
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Kaziranga National Park is one of the prides of India. Kaziranga National Park is the name to exemplify the most popular conservation efforts to save the endangered species like one-horned rhinoceros in India. The park’s population of 1800-odd rhinos represents more than two-thirds of the world’s total. Kaziranga National Park is spread over 858 sq.kms and is located in the floodplains on both sides of the Brahmaputra river. Patches of mixed deciduous forests are interspersed with vast stretches of savannah grasslands, wetlands and chars of river islands formed by the shifting course of the Brahmaputra. Kaziranga National Park is Located in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of the state of Assam, India.
In the heart of Assam, this park is one of the last areas in eastern India undisturbed by a human presence. It is inhabited by the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses, as well as many mammals, including tigers, elephants, panthers and bears, and thousands of birds. The Endangered Ganges dolphin is also found in some of the closed oxbow lakes.Forests is marked by the 41% of the tall grasses, 29% open jungle, 11% short grasses and rest is covered with the rivers and the water bodies.
Indian one-horned rhinoceros and also declared as a tiger reserve in 2006, holding the highest density of tigers in the world.
The park is divided into five ranges:
1. Central 2. Western 3. Eastern 4. Western-most Burha Pahar 5. Northern
The first four lie on the southern side of the river while the last is on the northern bank
The terrain in the park comprises mainly of sandbanks, riverine lakes, Semi-evergreen forests, moist broad-leaf forests and grasslands. The park is spread in a massive area which makes it one of the largest protected forests in the Sub-Himalayan belt.
Climate & Rainfall :
The climate of Kaziranga Park is tropical, The park experiences three seasons: summer. monsoon, and winter. The winter season, between November and February, is mild and dry, with temperatures reaching a low 5 °C. During this season, beels and nallahs Dry up. The summer season between March and May is hot, with a maximum temperature approx 37°C . During this season, animals usually are found near water bodies. The rainy monsoon season lasts from June to September, and the average annual rainfall is 2,220 mm. During the peak months of July and August, three-fourths of the western region of the park is submerged, due to the rising water level of the Brahmaputra.
Kaziranga National Park is one of the major wildlife tourist’s attractions in India. Thousands of travelers from different part of the country and world come here every year to unlock the doors of diverse wildlife and scout the exquisiteness of the natural empire. The perfect topography with a river and its varied grasslands winds through its entire length, Kaziranga promises an adventure that you will never forget. The tourism of Kaziranga is not just about spotting one of the many one-horned rhinoceros or tigers but also to watch the three giant herbivores that reside in the park called – The Asiatic Elephant, The Swamp Deer and the Asiatic Water Buffaloes. The park has also been demarcated as an important bird area by the Birdlife International in order to promote the conservation of endangered species.
Fauna & Flora :
Kaziranga National Park has chiefly three major types of flora as alluvial inundated grasslands, tropical wet evergreen forests and tropical semi-evergreen forests. But, the main characteristics of flora in Kaziranga are the dense and tall elephant grass intermixed by small swamplands left behind by the receding floodwaters of the river Brahmaputra. n addition to grasses and forests, the swamps of Kaziranga National Park have an abundant cover of water lilies, water hyacinth and lotus, providing a beautiful look to the surroundings of the park. Rattan Cane, which is a type of climbing palm, also adds to the natural beauty of Kaziranga National Park.
The best season to visit Kaziranga National Park is between November and April. From 1st of Nov to 30th of April, the park remains open daily for continuous six months being the monsoons as the exceptional season to close the area for safety reasons by the national park management. You can see the migratory birds closely in a fine temperature.
Nearby Places :
Rowraiah (Jorhat) is Nearest Airport which is 97 Km away from Kaziranga, LGBI Airport which is 239 Km away from Kaziranga. The nearest railhead is at the distance of 75 kms from the Kaziranga National Park in Furkating.Government transports are available frequently from nearest cities and towns such as Jorhat (89 Kms.), Nagaon (96 Kms.), Guwahati (219 Kms.), Golaghat (73 Kms.) and Bokakhat (21 Kms.).
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A small border town in the Jaintia Hills, Dawki and its famed river Umngot is a must visit if in Meghalaya. Dawki-Tamabil is one of the few road border crossings between India and Bangladesh. The small city, besides being a trade hub is also famous for its tourism scene, with many people flocking to the city in order experience a boat ride in its famed Umngot River and enjoy the nearby sights and sounds. Travelling to the North-East is something that always generates lots of oohs and aahs from whoever you tell about your journey there, or your plans. A day’s excursion from Mawlynnong, Dawki lies but 2 Kms from Bangladesh. Despite the fact that the area is located in a place that has been for years demanding development, one is amazed by the quality of the roads, and the road to Dawki perhaps epitomizes the idyllic hill drive. This had more to do with the area’s strategic importance as well as the limestone and coal mines. Some 500 trucks cross the border every day in peak season.
Dawki river with greenish-blueish water so clear that one can see the bottom of the river even from as high as the bridge over the river. It flows very close to the customs checkpost at Dawki with Jaintia Hills District on one side and East Khasi Hills District on the other. As it enters the plains of Bangladesh it loses its beautiful color and becomes heavily strewnwith rocks and small boulders. It is the gateway to Bangladesh. Located at the end of the Guwahati-Shillong-Dawki Raod, Dawki is a small town well knownfor its sweet, juicy orange markets.
The umngot river is popular not only for its scenic beauty but also for the annual boat race which is conducted here in the month of March – April at Umsyiem. Due to the temperate climate, this place is the house of different kinds of flora and fauna, seeing this large emerald-green serpent threading its way through the hills, with fishermen’s boats dotting its surface, right into the plains of Bangladesh, is a sight whose majesty echoes long after you leave it. The tourists visiting Dawki should not forget to taste the sweets and oranges of Dawki, as it is quite famous for the same. The surrounding greenery, the cold water of the river and the beautiful suspension bridge on the River Umngot make Dawki a place worth a visit.
Dawki does not have any airport; the closest airport is the Guwahati airport. Nearest rail head is at Guwahati from where one can either hire a cab or catch public or private buses either direct till Dawki or till Shillong. Buses are also available for the 70 kilometres (43 mi) journey from Shillong. On the other side the Tamabil bus station, 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) away, has regular bus service to Sylhet 55 kilometres (34 mi) away.
The place becomes heavenly in December with a pleasant temperature ranging from 12 to 20 degrees. Shillong is the only hill station in the country which is accessible from all sides. The water of Unmgot river in Dwaki is so clear that a boat floating on it, seems like it’s flying in mid-air. The river is not the only place here. Entertain yourself at some really amazing festivals organized here in December—Tysim Festival, Baghmara, Pinjera Festival, Williamnagar and Tura Winter Festival, Tura. Try out the delightful Meghalayan delicacies such as Jadoh, Dohneiihong, Makham-Bitchi and Jhur Sideh.
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Ayurveda is a perfect ancient science of life; the word Ayur literally means life and Veda the science or knowledge. Kerala’s equable climate, natural abundance of forests, are best suited for Ayurveda’s curative and restorative programs. Rejuvenate your body, mind and soul by taking Ayurveda treatment atleast once in your life time.
Thiruvananthapuram – Kovalam
Meals: No Meals
Today you arrive in the capital city of Kerala – God’s Own Country, Thiruvananthapuram. After you arrive at the airport you are greeted by our local representative. You are later driven by an air conditioned car to Kovalam Spa Resort. Upon arrival you check in at the resort and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. In the evening you will get into discussion with Ayurvedic physician consulting the kind of Ayurvedic Therapy you need.
Today is day 01 of your Ayurvedic Therapy.
Today is day 02 of your Ayurvedic Therapy.
Today is day 03 of your Ayurvedic Therapy.
Today is day 04 of your Ayurvedic Therapy.
Meals: Breakfast , Lunch , Dinner
Today is day 05 of your Ayurvedic Therapy.
Kovalam – Thiruvananthapuram
Today morning after breakfast is your last day of therapy, you are driven back by car to Thiruvananthapuram Airport/Railway Station for your flight/train back home after being rejuvenated.
Kozhikode – Wayanad – Thekkady – Kumarakom – KozhikodeA long shoreline with serene beaches, Tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters, Lush hill stations, Exotic wildlife, Waterfalls, Sprawling plantations & Paddy fields, the scenes of Kerala are Captivating in every sense. The phrase ‘God’s own country’ is perhaps the most apt way of describing Kerala. You will realize and appreciate the fact that ‘life is beautiful’ after you holiday in this beautiful state.
Kozhikode – Wayanad
Meals: No Meals
Today you arrive at Kerala – “God’s Own Country”. Upon arrival at Kozhikode you are transferred in an air conditioned car to Wayanad (approx 76 kms / 2H). This unexplored clean, pristine, enchanting and hypnotizing land is filled with history and culture. After you arrive check in at the hotel and refresh. Later you visit the Edakkal Caves. “Edakkal” literally means “a stone in between”. You can enjoy the indoor and outdoor games at the resort.
Today after breakfast you are taken to Meenmutty Falls, the largest and most spectacular waterfall in the Wayanad District. It is Kerala’s second largest waterfall and the one most unspoiled in its natural setting. Each of its three tiers requires a separate hike through a moist, deciduous forest. The path is quiet dangerous and tiresome but the waterfalls is worth it.
Wayanad – Kochi
Today after breakfast you are driven by car to Kochi (approx 276 kms / 6H). Upon arrival you check in at the hotel. Later proceed to Fort Kochi to see the Santa Cruz basilica – a Roman Catholic Cathedral, one of the finest and impressive churches in Kerala and St Francis Chruch which has the reputation of being the first church built by the Dutch in the year 1503AD. In the evening vist the Cherai Beach and also shop around the local markets. You can also enjoy the sea food delicacies at the local restaurant on your own which Kochi is famous for.
Kochi – Thekkady
In the morning after breakfast you are driven by car to Thekkady (approx 146 kms / 3H 30M). Upon arrival you check in at the hotel. Rest and refresh. Thekkady is famous for its dense evergreen, semievergreen, moist deciduous forests and savannah grass lands. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure
Today after breakfast in the morning you will enjoy a visit to the Spice Plantations and feel transported into a green paradise. Thekkady is considered a heaven for natural spices such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and clove. Later proceed for an elephant ride through the jungle. Rest of the evening is at leisure for shopping around the local markets for fresh Spices.
Thekkady – Kumarakom
After breakfast you are driven by car to Kumarakom (approx 117 kms / 2H 30M). Upon arrival you check in at the hotel/resort. Kumarakom slumbers on the banks of the famous Vembanad Lake. In the afternoon you are taken to Bay Island Driftwood Museum. It will give you a rare chance to view exhibits made of driftwood. Rest of the day is at leisure.
Meals: Breakfast , Lunch , Dinner
Today in the early morning after breakfast you are taken to the Bird Sanctuary, which is home to many rare varieties of migratory birds from different parts of the world. Later you proceed to the houseboat and check in upon arrival. Enjoy the sight of the green fringed palms rippling the blue waters and blend into the wavelets. The whole atmosphere spells peace, bliss and tranquility.
Alleppey – Kozhikode
Today after breakfast and enjoying your day relaxing on the houseboat on the beautiful backwaters you are dropped off at Alleppey. From Alleppey you are driven by car to Kozhikode (approx 264 kms / 5H 30M). Upon arrival you check in at the hotel. In the afternoon visit the Pazhassiraja Museum, known for its collection of the antiques and royal itinerates. In the evening you visit the Kappad beach, which finds mention in history as the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama sailed and stepped into Kerala.
Today after breakfast you are driven to the Airport/Raiway Station by car for your flight/train back home as you feel rejuvenated and refreshed by spending time in God’s Own Country – Kerala
Called Panjim by the Portuguese, Panaji, which means “the land that does not flood” is the state capital of Goa. Unlike many capital cities, Panaji has a distinct unhurried character. It is situated on the southern banks of the Mandovi River, which makes this town all the more charming.
Typical of a Goan town, Panaji is built around a church facing a prominent square. The town has some beautiful Portuguese Baroque style buildings and enchanting old villas. The riverside, speckled with brightly whitewashed houses with wrought iron balconies, offers a fine view.
There are some fine government buildings along the riverside boulevard, and the Passport Office is especially noteworthy. In the 16th century, the edifice was the palace of Adil Shah (the Sultan of Bijapur). The Portuguese took over the palace and constructed the Viceregal Lodge in 1615. In 1843, the structure became the Secretariat, and today it is the Passport Office.
1. Church Of Our Lady Of Rosary:
Not far to the west of the Basilica of the Bom Jesus is the Holy Hill at the extremity of which is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. Built of laterite and plastered with lime mortar, it has a two-storeyed portico. The portico as well as the façade of the church has rounded towers on either side with the cross on top. The roof of the church is tiled, supported by wooden rafters.
The Chapels And Altars
There are two chapels and three altars. The main altar is dedicated to our Lady of the Rosary. The church, with windows near the roof and with rounded towers giving an impression of a fortress church, is Manuline in style though Gothic influence can be seen in the rib-vault at the portico.
Cenotaph Of Dona Catarina
To the right of the main altar is a marble cenotaph commemorating Dona Catarina whose marriage with Viceroy Garcia De Sa was performed by St. Francis Xavier. The cenotaph slightly projecting from the wall is artistically decorated with carved miniature pillars and inscriptions in Portuguese and has a triangular pediment crowned by a shell moulding. The foliage and other decorations emanating from a vase closely resemble those on the tombs of Gujarat, thus suggesting influence of a regional art-style.
This votive chapel was built in fulfilment of a vow taken by Afonso de Albuquerque while reviewing the battle between his forces and those of the Bijapur sultan from the same spot, on which the church stands. The vow, however, could be fulfilled only after his death, since this church was built in 1544-49.
2. Dona Paula:
At the place where two of Goa’s famous rivers meet the Arabian Sea is the secluded bay of Dona Paula with a fine view of the Marmagao Harbour. 7-km from Panjim, nestled on the south side of the rocky, hammer-shaped headland that divides the Zuari and Mandovi estuaries, this former fishing village is nowadays a commercialized resort. This is an idyllic spot to relax and sunbathe. Water scootering facilities are also available over here.
The official residence of the Governor of Goa, Known as Cabo Raj Bhavan is situated on the westernmost tip of Dona Paula. Along the road leading to this place lies the ruins of the small military cemetery the British built at their brief occupation of the Cabo, to deter the French from invading Goa.
A Love Story
Named after Dona Paula de Menezes, this place is called the Lovers Paradise due to a myth that has been attached to this place. According one legend the Viceroy’s daughter after facing objections from her family about her love affair with a poor fisherman jumped of the cliff.
Another legend says that punished for captivating Francisco de Tavora, the Count of Alvor with her charm the Viceroy’s daughter was pushed off a cliff to drown in the waters below. Her irrepressible spirit still continues to haunt every visitor with legends of her lovers. She is even supposed to have been seen emerging from moonlit waves wearing only a pearl necklace.
Tranquil and blue, Dona Paula unravel the ultimate in aquatic sport and fun.Dona Paula Sports Club, Dona Paula offers some of the best water sports facilities to the sports enthusiasts including Water-scooter rides, Motor-boat rides, etc.
3. Miramar Beach:
On the way to Dona Paula, 1-km ahead of the confluence of the Arabian Sea and Mandvi River, under the palm shade, is “Gasper Dias” or Miramar Beach and is just 3-km away from the capital city of Panjim.
In Portuguese language ‘Miramar’ stand for viewing the sea. Situated on a good location for evening walks, the coast is spread upto 2-km, having a fine silvery sand bed. From here one has an excellent view of the Aguada fort just across the Mandovi River.
India has almost a 6000 km long coastline, which is home to some of the finest beaches in the world. Andaman & Nicobar Islands has many beautiful, crystal clear and fine eco-friendly beaches.
(1) Cellular Jail:
The motive of the Islands and the result of the East India Company arriving in the region, Initially built to hold captive the supporters and allied members of the Revolt of 1857, especially of the Maughal Royal family was later extended to hold the Political Prisoners of the Indian Freedom Struggle. The most famous prisoner to be held at the Cellular Jail was “Veer Savarkar”. The Cellular jail was known for its infamous cruelty meted out to prisoners, made to toil under the extreme vagaries of nature without food and water alike, death for the prisoners was an easier option rather than a release or escape.
(2) Corbyn’s Cove Beach:
The Islands only beach near by the city, corbyn’s cove gets its name due to its unique shape, being one of its kind in the country and is named after Corbyn Chaplain of Port Blair. The beach is flanked at the edges by Japanese Bunkers to remind visitors of the days of Japanese occupation of the island. The pristine sands and water make it an experience to remember for any visitor.
Chidiyatapu is a tiny fishing village situated at the southern most tip of South Andaman Island. It is about 25 km from Port Blair in Andaman District. The place is also famous for its 46 varieties of endemic birds, white spotted deer and seasonal orchids. This village has earned the name, Bird Island.
government approved U.P handloom shop, Khadi Bhandar, Garhwal wool and craft shop etc.
The climate here is continental type but its location in the foot hills gives it a pleasant weather throughout the year. One can visit Rishikesh any time of the year.
Best time to visit
October to April
Rishikesh, an important pilgrimage in the country is located in northern Uttaranchal, surrounded by hills and cut across by the holy Ganges. Today it is considered as the `Yoga Capital of the World’. The town of Rishikesh lies in the foothills of the Garhwal region and is the gateway to the upper Garhwal region and is the starting point for pilgrim routes to the four dhams of Uttarakhand-Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
In the 1960s Rishikesh gained instant fame because Beatles the famous music band came to stay with their guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Getting There Air : The nearest airport is Dehradun (Jolly Grant), 35 kms from Haridwar. Vayudoot services operates from Delhi to Dehradun (Jolly Grant). Jagson Airlines also operates flights from Delhi to Dehradun.
Rail : Rishikesh is connected by rail via Haridwar (24 kms), to Howrah, Bombay, Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Dehradun and other cities.
Bus Service: Haridwar is connected by bus with Agra, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Kullu, Manli, Shimla, Rishikesh etc.
Major Attractions in Rishikesh Lakshman Jhula : This suspended iron bridge was built in 1939 and is a major attraction among the tourists. Ram Jhula is the other suspended Iron bridge was recently constructed between Shivanand Ashram and Sawarg Ashram.
Gita Bhavan : Built recently, this building is famous for its attractive paintings and statues from the Hindu mythology and is situated just across the Lakshman Jhula.
Triveni Ghat : This is a bathing ghat where daily in the morning and evening thousands of people come to take bath and enjoy the Maha Aarti being performed.
It goes silent at twilight, the cacophony of the background fades till pin drop silence, bereft of tourist and there is no menace in the jungle. But its just when you are trying to twirl you ears for some sound, the silence is intervened by flocks of elephants in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary Indentured within the Western Ghats in the southern Indian state of Kerala, Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve is one of the most outstanding wildlife parks in the world. Located at the center of park, this sanctuary possess a picture perfect lake, where the water surges forward, inundating the land. The day is full of commotion and golden streaks exude their colour in the night. But at once you can ind that beauty and nature go hand in hand at Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Besides the nature and beasts faces from world over are seen in the sanctuary. An amazing destination, Periyar is rightly termed as ‘Jewel of South’.
Main flora found in Periyar:
Periyar Widllife Sanctuary boasts a quite rich and diverse flora. The flora in Periyar National Park chiefly comprises of Tropical Evergreen forests (30,500ha) and Semi-evergreen forests (27,500ha) around the reservoir, and Moist-deciduous forests and Woody grasslands in the central part of the park.
The major flora in the park include the Teak, Rosewood, Terminalia, Eucalyptus, Sandalwood, Jacaranda (a hardwood timber tree with purple flowers), Mango, Jamun, Tamarind, Banyan, Pipal, Plumeria, Gulmohar and Bamboo among many others. The thick vegetation of the Periyar wildlife sanctuary provides both excellent cover and nourishment in the form of succulent shoots and grasses.
Season(Periyar National Park)
Monsoon: Southwest and Northeast monsoon with maximum rainfall in July and minimum in January.
An inclined description of the Jaisalmer fort, rated among the most renowned fort in the world. Perched in the heart of the Thar Desert (literal meaning abode of the dead), it upsurges like a mirage from the golden sands, with its huge lookout tower pointing skywards. Built in 1156, Jaisalmer is the second oldest of Rajasthan’s major forts after Chittorgarh. Founded by Raja Jaisal, who was desperately in search for a new capital as Lodurva, the earlier capital was easily accessible for invasions.
Jaisalmer Fort, famous for its antiquity and repertory of architectural wealth is also known as Sonar Quila, which stands on a high hillock known as Trikuta Hill (80 meter high). There are two parallel walls around it, the lowest wall famous as “Peetha” had served as a base wall, at the time, when Aksaya Pol (Gate) was added to the fort, some part of Peetha wall near the above Pol was extended to the newly built gate. Two other parallel walls are made up of solid blocks of stone, without using mortar or clay was erected like a buttress and outer walls.
The buttress wall was built by Maharawal Bhim in 16th century by linking the same with Suraj Pol Gate. These two walls appear to be fascinating in their yellowish stones. It is therefore called the golden fort. The fort, thus, has a chain of shield.
Sights and Sounds of the Golden Fort !!!
This hefty fort looks more beautiful with the desert ambiance and setting sun, which gives it a golden look as you see from outside the fort. The tourist can enter this fort from the massive gates via an enormous stone paved ramp that leads to a large courtyard inside the fort. At the front you can see a beautiful palace of former ruler, that has many squares which were formerly used to review troops, hear petitions and present extravagant entertainment for important visitors.
The City Inside the Fort !!!
During the time of two Muslim invasions, when the fort was surrounded by the Sultans the necessity was felt, that a fortified defense structure should be laid. Thus, a Rang Burj was added to the fort by Maharawal Jetasi in the year 1508 AD. About a quarter of the old city’s population resides within the fort walls, which have 99 bastions around their circumference. It’s fascinating to wander around this place. The fort walls provide superb views over the old city and surrounding desert dunes.
The Influence of Jain Artistry !!!
The Akshya Pol is the entrance gate of the fort. While going upon a stone road, we come across the gate Suraj Pol. It was built by Maharawal Bhim. On its upper most part an arched toran, embellished with a figure of Sun, has been engraved. This imposing Toran, reminds us of the influence of Jain arts.
The Placing of Powers !!!
After crossing the road, we come near the Ganesh Pol, which is named after a figure of Ganesh installed on the main lintel. On the outer wall between Suraj pol and Ganesh pol, there is also a figure of Ganesh, installed in 1679 AD, during the reign of Maharawal Amar Singh. There is a figure of Sun embossed near it. The Ganesh pol was perhaps the main entrance pol. Whereas the Hawa pol (Wind Gate) was constructed during the 17th century AD.
The Ancient Caravans Avenue !!!
As you visit the various sights and sounds of this magical Jaisalmer Fort that consists of romantic palaces, bastions, chhatris, handicrafts shops, winding lanes and massive gates, watch the handsomely carved ceilings and intricate lattice work. Jaisalmer Fort is the most popular attraction for tourists, as there are several temples and the residential complexes of the armies and traders placed critically on the trade route, from where the ancient caravans embarked through the en route of huge kingdom in its bygone days.
The Eye shot of the Jaisalmer City !!!
Above the fort flies the Jaisalmer standard, featuring a chhatirs against a red and yellow background. The fort looks especially magical when it is lit up at the night. As you start exploring this rugged fort, you will find a number of corners, where you can set your heart. Whereas the fort walls provide superb views over the old city and surrounding desert. Strolling around the outer fort ramparts is a popular activity at the time of sunset. These are some of the memorable pictures of architectural purity that cannot be seen elsewhere.
In a special collector’s issue released just before the turn of the century, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER gifted the tourists of the world with a priceless treasure – a well researched compilation of the 50 destinations of a lifetime. The only Indian destination that featured in it was KERALA other than the Taj Mahal in the World Wonders section.
Kerela was celebrated as a ‘Paradise Found‘ – one of the ten in the world, A perfect description for a land renowned as “God’s Own Country“. What adds to the charm of its backwaters, beaches, Ayurveda health holidays, hill stations, wildlife, festivals, monuments and vibrant art forms, is its amazing social development indices that are on par with the developed world.
The Important tourist spots in kerala is given below :
>> Kovalam Beach
The Kovalam beach situated 16 Km. south of Trivandrum city, is one of the best beaches in India. It’s a must see destination of India. On account of it’s natural location, it affords facilities for safe sea bath.
Kovalam is an internationally renowned beach of Kerela, with three adjacent crescent beaches. Kovalam has been a favorite haunt of tourists, especially Europeans, since the 1930s. A massive rocky promontory on the beach has created a beautiful bay of calm waters ideal for sea bathing. The leisure options at this beach are plenty and diverse – sunbathing, swimming, herbal body toning massages, special cultural programmes, Catamaran cruising etc.
The tropical sun acts so fast that one can see the faint blush of coppery tan on the skin in a matter of minutes. Life on the beach begins late in the day and carries on well into the night.
Thiruvananthapuram ( Trivandrum ), the capital city of Kerala, is just 16 km away from Kovalam and getting there is no hassle. But if you are on holiday it is better to stay in Kovalam and visit the city. Thiruvananthapuram has interesting places to see like the Napier Museum, the Sri Chitra Art Gallery , the Padmanabhaswamy Temple , Puthenmalike Palace, Zoo, Planetarium, Veli Lagoon, Ponmudi hill station etc. SMSM Institute,a State owned handicrafts emporium, is the ideal place to pick up ethnic curios and other articles.
Nearest railway station: Thiruvananthapuram central, about 16 km
Nearest airport: Thiruvananthapuram International Airport,about 10 km.
>> Chowra Beach
The soft white sand is what that draws visitors to this beach and it is ideal for beach volleyball. The long stretch of beach is dotted by many cattamarams; a country fishing boat, which is three logs tied together in the shape of a boat.
>> Alleppey [ Alappuzha ]
Alappuzha is famous for its boat races, houseboats, coir products, fish and lakes. Alappuzha remains prominent on the tourist trial of Kerela as one of the major centers for backwater boat trips.
Alappuzha or Alleppey is famous for its boat races, houseboats, coir products, fish and lakes. Alappuzha remains prominent on the tourist trial of Kerela as one of the major centers for backwater boat trips.
A host of boat races are held here during the harvest season ( between July and September ).
Alleppey or Alappuzha is also known as the “Venice of the East” its was here that traders from across the seven seas came in search of black gold and souvenirs.
Alappuzha or Alleppey is also home to Kuttanad, The rice bowl of kerala, one of the very few places in the world where farming is done below sea level.
Kuttanad is a land of lush paddy fields and stretches for 75 Km sandwiched between the sea and the hills.
Kuttanad is the most beautiful backwaters region of Kerala. It is here that most of the snake boat races are conducted and a majority of the rice boat & houseboat cruises are scheduled.
Kerala’s network of navigable backwaters stretches to over 900km. These serene waterways are fringed by palm grove and paddy fields and offer a striking spectacle of the rustic life.
In Alleppey or Alappuzha, the life revolves around water. Cildren learn to swim before they walk. They learn to row boats before they bicycle. They learn their first lesson from the school of fish.
Situated in Kuttanad popularly known as the rice bowl of Kerala, QST & R Block Kayals (backwaters) remind the visitor of the famous dikes of Holland.
A striking example of the indigenous agricultural engineering know-how, here cultivation and habitation are made possible at four to ten feet below the sea level. For this purpose extensive land has been reclaimed from the backwaters and is protected by dikes built around it. A leisurely cruise along the canals here is a memorable experience.
Alappuzha or Aleppey was once the busiest coast south of Mumbai, and its canals and backwaters helped in the passage of cargo – be it tea, rubber or other produces from the hills – to the sea.
The lighthouse and the pier helped the boats ferry accross, facilitating trade in their own way. Today, the 1000 ft long pier at Allepey beach , built in 1862 by Captain Hugh Crawford is a mere skeleton of its past.
Alleppey’s allure is the backwaters. Begin with a cruise, then stroll back into the town past the canals covered with mauve hyacinths.
A backwater cruise on the Punnamada Kayal takes you along canals past scenic islands offering sublime views of coconut and paddy fields, chinese fishing nets and toddy tappers at work.
Alleppey or Alappuzha‘s beauty is not merely in its backwaters, but in the man-made islands that you will find amidst the waters. These islands are hedged by mud walls, a haven for migratory birds, with paddy fields inundated with water throughout the year. These fields stand below sea level. R Block is especially famous for the fresh toddy served to guests.
Nearesh Airport – Cochin ( Kochi ) International Airport ( Travel time – 120 mins )
Nearest Railway Station – Alleppey Railway Station & Ernakulam Railway Station ( travel time – 90 mins )
The village of Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake, and this small water world is part of the Kuttanad region. The bird sanctuary here, which is spread across 14 acres is a favorite haunt of migratory birds and an ornithologist’s paradise.
The village of Kumarakam is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake, and this small water world is part of the Kuttanad region. The bird sanctuary here, which is spread across 14 acres is a favorite haunt of migratory birds and an ornithologist’s paradise. The South West monsoon is from early June to early August. However, slight drizzles persist till early November. Average rainfall is 1100 mm per year.
An enchanting backwater destination, Kumarakom offers visitors many other leisure options. Boating and fishing facilities are available at Kumarakom. Holiday packages on the houseboats, traditional Kettuvalloms, are an out-of-this-world experience at Kumarakom.
An unbelievably beautiful paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals adorned with while lillies – this is Kumrakum. There is always a cool, fresh breeze, which makes even the warmest weather readily agreeable. The South West monsoon is from early June to early August. However, slight drizzles persist till early November. Average rainfall is 1100 mm per year.
Kumrakom, located on the Southern coast of India enjoys a well-balanced tropical climate. Nature has composed its magic to perfection here. A million verdant coconut palms lining the rivers lean to examine its reflections on the glassy rivers. Everywhere, nature is at its best. Blooming forth in perfumes of flowers. In the riot of colours of multi-hued birds. In the fresh, succulent and bountiful freshwater fishes
The local spring season emerges from August and coincides with the harvest festival of Onam. The lowest and highest temperatures recorded are 16.10 C and 37.80 C.
The tourist season is from September to March
Nearesh Airport – Cochin ( Kochi ) International Airport ( Travel time – 120 mins )
Nearest Railway Station – Kottayam Railway Station (travel time – 30 mins ) & Ernakulam Railway Station ( travel time – 90 mins )
>> Thekkady [ Periyar ]
The pride of Kerela and a testimony to nature’s splendor and human innovation, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the banks of the Periyar lake – an artificial lake, at Thekkady. Here the high ranges of the Western Ghats are clothed in dense evergreen, moist deciduous forests and savannah grass lands. Below this thick green canopy roam herds of elephants, sambars, tigers, gaurs, lion tailed macaques and Nilgiri langurs.
Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary-Thekkady
The pride of Kerela and a testimony to nature’s splendour and human innovation, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the banks of the Periyar lake – an artificial lake, at Thekkady. Here the high ranges of the Western Ghats are clothed in dense evergreen, moist deciduous forests and savannah grass lands. Below this thick green canopy roam herds of elephants, sambars, tigers, gaurs, lion tailed macaques and Nilgiri langurs.
In addition to elephant rides, cruises on the lake and treks to the ruined Mangala Devi temple – a beautiful old stone temple situated in the heart of the Thekkady forest, this sanctuary offers the unique opportunity to watch and photograph wild elephants at close quarters.
The Periyar Widlife sanctuary is spread across 777 sq km, of which 360 sq km is thick evergreen forest, the Periyar Wiild Life Sanctuary was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. Noted for its geomorphology, diversity of wildlife and scenic beauty, the Reserve attracts visitors all over the world and is one of the world’s most fascinating natural wildlife reserves.
The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River adds to the charm of the park. This is the only sanctuary in India where you can have the unique experience of viewing wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat on the lake. The greatest attraction of Periyar, however are the herds of wild elephants that come down to the play in the lake.
Nearest railway station: Kottayam Railway Station & Ernakulam Railway Station
Nearest airports : Cochin International Airport, about 190 km.
>> Kochi ( Cochin )
The eventful history of this city began when a major flood in AD 1341 threw open the estuary at Kochi, till then a land locked region, turning it into one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Kochi thus became a haven for seafaring visitors from all over the world and became the first European township in India when the Portuguese settled here in the 15th century.
The eventful history of this city began when a major flood in AD 1341 threw open the estuary at Kochi, till then a land locked region, turning it into one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Kochi thus became a haven for seafaring visitors from all over the world and became the first European township in India when the Portuguese settled here in the 15th century.
The Dutch wrested Fort Kochi from the Portuguese in AD 1663 and later in the last phase of the colonial saga, the British took over, the town in 1795. During 1660’s, Fort Kochi peaked in stature as a prime commercial centre and its fame spread far and wide – variously as a rich trade centre, a major military base, a vibrant cultural hub, a great ship building centre, a centre for Christianity and so on. Today, centuries later, the city is home to nearly thirteen communities.
A few interesting sites included in the tour are the Chinese fishing nets along the Vasco Da Gama Square, Santa Cruz Basilica, St.Francis Church, VOC Gate, Bastion Bungalow etc. Apart from these architectural splendors, an array of restaurants serving fresh seafood are also popular among tourists. The Chinese fishing nets erected on teak wood and bamboo poles work on the principle of balance. Records say they were first set up here between AD 1350 and 1450. Vasco Da Gama Square, the narrow promenade that parallels the beach, is the best place to watch the nets being lowered and pulled out of the sea.
The Santa Cruz Basilica, a church built originally by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul 1V in 1558, was spared by the Dutch conquerors who destroyed many Catholic buildings. Later the British demolished the structure and Bishop Dom Gomez Vereira commissioned a new building in 1887. Consecrated in 1905, Santa Cruz was proclaimed a Basilica by the Pope John Paul II in 1984.
Jewish Synagogue : Fort Kochi is also home to one of India’s oldest churches – the St.Francis Church. This was a Roman Catholic Church during the Portuguese rule from 1503 to 1663, then a Dutch Reformist Church from 1664 to 1804, and Anglican church from 1804 to 1947. Today it is governed by the Church of South India (CSI). Another important fact about the church is that Vasco Da Gama, who died in 1524, was buried here before his mortal remains were returned to Portugal 14 years later… Each and every structure, street, door, window and brick in Fort Kochi has several stories to tell.
Fort Kochi is accessible by bus or ferry. The bus ride from Ernakulam town, which is nearly 13 km away, takes about an hour and the ferry ride from Main boat jetty at Ernakulam about 20 minutes.
Tourist Spots within Kochi are as under:
Bolgatty Palace : This Dutch palace is situated on the Bolghatty island. At present it is being used as hotel. The island has a fine golf course and the panoramic view makes it an attractive picnic spot. Frequent boat service is available from the mainland
Chinese Fishing nets : The chinese fishing nets found here are the only ones of its kind in India. It is believed that traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan introduced these nets here. Erected here between 1350 and 1450 AD by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, these nets are set up on Teak wood and bamboo poles. The best place to watch the nets being lowered into the sea and catch being brought in is the Vasco da Gama Square, a narrow promenade that runs along the beach. The Square is ideal place to idle, with stalls serving fresh delicious sea food, tender coconut etc
Dutch Palace : The Dutch Palace was originally built by the Portugese. Later, in 17th century, the Dutch modified it and presented to the Raja of Kochi. Coronation of many Rajas of Kochi were held here. The place has a fine collection of mural paintings depicting the scenes from the Hindu epics Mahabharatha and Ramayana.
Pierce Leslie Bungalow : This charming mansion was the office of Pierce Leslie & Co., coffee merchants, founded in 1862. A representative of the Fort Kochi colonial bungalow, this building reflects Portuguese, Dutch and local influences. Characteristic features are wood panels that form the roof of the ground floor, arched doors and sprawling rooms. Waterfront verandahs are an added attraction.
Santa Cruz Basilica : This historic church was built by the Portguese and eleveated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558. in 1795 it fell into the hands of the British when they took over Kochi, and was demolished. About a hundred years later Bishop Dom Gomez Ferreira commissioned a new building at the same site in 1887. The Church was proclaimed a Basilica in 1984 by Pope John Paul II.
Hill Palace : Built in the 19th century by Raja of Kochi, the Kochi province was ruled from here. The palace has been converted into a museum displaying a fine collection of articles used by the Rajas of Kochi apart from many archaeological findings.
Jew Town : The area around the Synagogue is a centre of spice trade and curio shops.
Museum of Kerala History : The museum has on display life size statues of many famous personalities and several paintings depicting Kerala History.
Cherai Beach : This lovely beach bordering Vypeen island is ideal for swimming. Dolphins are occasionally seen here.
Pallipuram Fort : It is the oldest European fort built in India.
Parikshit Thampuran Museum : The museum is situated near the famous Siva Temple, Ernakulam. It houses a treasure of archaeological findings and relics including old coins, sculptures, oil paintings and murals.
St Francis Church : It is the oldest church built by European in India.On his 3rd visit to Kerala, Vasco da Gama, the Portugese trader who reached India from Europe by sea, fell ill and died in Kochi. He was buried in the St. Francis Church. Later his remains were taken back to Portugal. In spite of that the exact place where he was buried has been marked out inside the church
Nearest railway station : Ernakulam about 1 1/2 km from the Main boat jetty.
Nearest airport : Cochin International Airport, about 20 km
>> Munnar Hills
One of the most popular hill stations in India is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams – Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. Located at 1600 m above sea level, this was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India. Sprawling tea plantations, picture book towns, winding lanes, trekking and holiday facilities make Munnar a unique experience. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India – Anamudi , which towers over 2695 m. Anamudi is an ideal spot for trekking.
Munnar hills is siatuated at an altitude of 5000 to 8000 Ft above sea level. and is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams – Mudrapuzha, Nallathani & Kundala. This beautiful hill station was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India. Sprawling Tea plantations, picture book towns, winding lanes, and holiday facilities make this a popular resort town.
Munnar also has the highest peak in South India – Anamudi , which towers over 2695 m. Anamudi is an ideal spot for trekking. The high ranges of Munnar were earlier known as Kannan Devan Hills,named after a certain Kannan Devan,who had been land lord in the Anchanad Valley on the eastern side of the district. The main cultivation crops in Munnar are Tea and Coffee.
Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands in Munar is the Neelakurinji. This flower which bathes the hills in the blue every twelve years, will bloom next in 2006 AD.
The Main attractions in Munnar include the following :
Mattupetty : Mattupetty is situated at a height of 1700 m above sea level. Mattupetty Lake and Dam is a beautiful picnic spot with the panoramic view of the tea plantations and the lake. Boating facilities are available in the reservoir. Mattupetty is also well known for its highly specialized dairy farm – the Indo-Swisss Live Stock project. The Shola forests in and around Mattupetty are ideal for trekking and are habitat to a variety of birds. Rivulets and cascades crisscross the terrain here, which again adds more attraction to the place.
Rajamala : Rajamala is the natural habitat of Nilgiri Tahr. Half the world population of this rare mountain goat is found here, which is fast becoming extinct.
Echo Point : Echo Point has a natural echo phenomenon and offers panoramic views.
Eravikulam National Park : A sanctuary for the endangered mountain goat of South India, the Nilgiri Tahr ( Hemitragus hylocrious), the Eravikulam National Park stands out for the stark beauty of its rolling grasslands and sholas, spread over 97 sq km in the Rajamalai hills.
Anamudi, the highest peak (2695 m) south of the Himalayas, towers over the sanctuary in majestic pride. The slopes of the hills abound in all kinds of rare flora and fauna. The Atlas moth, the largest of its kind in the world, is a unique inhabitant of the park. Other rare species of fauna found here are the Nilgiri Langur, the lion-tailed macaque, leopards, tigers, etc.
An ideal place for trekking, facilities are provided here and tourists are allowed to go on foot up to Anamudi.
Wayanad lies at an altitude varying from 700 – 2100 metres above the sea level. The district has the highest number of tribal settlements in Kerala. The sanctuary is very rich in flora and fauna. The management lays emphasis on scientific conservation with due consideration for the general lifestyle of the tribals and others who live in and around the forest region.
Wayanad lies at an altitude varying from 700 – 2100 metres above the sea level. The district has the highest number of tribal settlements in Kerala. The hill ranges of Vythiri taluk (taluk is a sub division of a district), through which the road from Kozhikode ascends the Wayanad plateau over the mind boggling bends and ridges, are the highest locations of Wayanad district.
Established in 1973, the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is contiguous to the protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka on the northeast and Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu on the southeast. Rich in bio-diversity, the sanctuary is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which has been established with the specific objective of conserving the biological heritage of the region. The sanctuary is very rich in flora and fauna. The management lays emphasis on scientific conservation with due consideration for the general lifestyle of the tribals and others who live in and around the forest region.
Pookat lake : A natural fresh water lake surrounded by evergreen forest and rolling hills. A fresh water aquarium with large variety of fish is an added attraction. Tourists can also avail of boating facilities, children’s park, and a shopping centre for handicrafts and spices
Kuruvadweep : This 950 acre, uninhabited island on the eastward bound Kabani river is an ideal picnic spot. The wooded stretch of land is home to rare species of birds, orchids and herbs.
Kuruvadweep Thirunelly Temple : Surrounded by Kambamala, Karimala and Varadiga, the Thirunelly temple is a marvel of temple architecture. The shrine is shielded with 30 granite columns and the ground is paved with huge square pieces of granite. The crystal clear waters of the Papanasini river running downhill add to the enchantment of the place.
Thirunelli temple Pazhassi tomb : The memorial of ‘ the lion of Kerala’ – Veera Pazhassi Raja – who organised the guerilla warfare against the British East India Company, is situated at Mananthavady. The Pulpally cave is where Pazhassi took refuge until he was captured by the British.
The Glass Temple of Kottamunda : This temple is located on the slope of Vellarimala and is dedicated to Parswanatha Swamy of the Jain faith. The mirrors inside the temple walls reflect images of the icons in the temple’s sanctum sanctorum.
Pakshipathalam : This place can be accessed only by trekking. Rare species of birds can be sighted from the watch tower of this bird sanctuary.
Pakshipathalam : Herbal garden, nature care centre, sericulture unit, perma-culture centre etc., established by the Wayanad Social Service Society and Jean Park (the Indo-Danish project for promoting herbal gardening) are situated here
Chembra Peak : At 2100 m above mean sea level, Chembra is the highest peak in Wayanad and is an ideal area for trekking.
Edakkal Caves : The two caves are located at a height of 1000 m on Ambukutty Mala near Ambalavayal. The New Stone Age pictorial writings on the walls of these natural caves at Edakkal are evidence of the civilisation that existed in these regions in prehistoric times. The caves can be accessed only by a 1 km trekking trail from Edakkal. Morning hours are the best time to visit the caves. Entry is permitted only up to 1700 hrs.
Lakkidi : Lakkidi, the gateway to Wayanad, is situated 700 m above mean sea level, at the crest of the Thamarasseri Ghat pass. Lofty peaks, gurgling streams and luxuriant forests add magic to the journey up the winding roads to this hill station.
Nearest railway station : Kozhikode about 63 km .
Nearest airport : Karipur International Airport, Kozhikode about 63 km
Road: Well connected by roads from Kozhikode, Kannur, Ooty (175 km from Kalpetta) and Mysore (140 km from Kalpetta).
>> Trivandrum ( Thiruvananthapuram )
The Capital city of Kerala. The wooded highlands on the Western Ghats in the eastern and northeastern borders give Thiruvananthapuram some of the most enchanting picnic spots. A long shoreline, with internationally renowned beaches, historic monuments, backwater stretches and a rich cultural heritage make it a much sought after tourist destination.
Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of Kerala. The wooded highlands on the Western Ghats in the eastern and northeastern borders give Thiruvananthapuram some of the most enchanting picnic spots. A long shoreline, with internationally renowned beaches, historic monuments, backwater stretches and a rich cultural heritage make it a much sought after tourist destination.
Padmanabha Swamy Temple : The temple is located inside the East Fort. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple is a blend of the Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture. It is known for its mural paintings and stone carvings. One among the 108 sacred Vishnu temples in India, the presiding deity in here is Lord Vishnu reclining on Anantha the Serpent
Kuthiramalika (Puthenmalika) Palace Museum : The palace was built by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Balarama Varma – the King of Travancore, who was a great poet, musician, social reformer and statesman. This rare specimen of workmanship in the traditional Travancore style of architecture also has exquisite wood carvings. The palace museum displays paintings and various priceless collections of the royal family and is located near the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple.
The Napier Museum: Built in the 19th century, the Indo – saracenic structure boasts a “natural” air conditioning system and houses a rare collection of archaeological and historic artifacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot and ivory carvings. The use of plastic is banned in the museum premises.
Sree Chithra Art Gallery : Located near the Napier Museum, this art gallery displays select paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, Svetlova and Nicholas Roerich and exquisite works from the Rajput, Mughal and Tanjore schools of art in India. The collection also includes paintings from China, Japan, Tibet and Bali.
Shankhumugham Beach : Just 8 km from the city, this is a favourite haunt of sunset watchers. The beach is adjacent to the Thiruvananthapuram Airport and Veli Tourist Village. An indoor recreation club, the matsya kanyaka (a gigantic, 35 m long sculpture of a mermaid) and a restaurant shaped like a starfish are some of the attractions here. Chacha Nehru Traffic Training Park here provides opportunity for children to learn the traffic rules
Veli Tourist Village : This picnic spot, where the Veli Lake meets the Arabian Sea, offers boating facilities. Pedalboats and paddleboats can be hired to explore the charms of the lagoon in a leisurely manner. For a quick ride over the waters, speedboats are available for hire. Children enjoy climbing over the huge sculptures which dot the landscape.
Varkala : Varkala is a seaside resort and spa. It is also an important Hindu centre of pilgrimage. The final resting place of the great social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru, is near Varkala, atop a hill called Sivagiri. High cliffs with mineral springs rise majestically from the coastline. According to a myth, sage Narada was approached by a group of mendicants who confessed to having sinned. Narada threw his valkkalam (cloth made of the bark of a tree) into the air, and the place where it landed was subsequently named Varkala. The mendicants were directed by Narada to offer their prayers in the newly created place by the seashore. The place where they prayed for redemption, came to be known as the Papanasham Beach ( Papanasham means redemption from sins). The 2000 year old Sree Janardhana Swamy Temple and the Nature Care Centre are the two main attractions here.
Ponmudi : An idyllic hill resort with narrow, winding pathways and cool, green, wooded environs, Ponmudi is located 915 metres above sea level. Along with a variety of beautiful mountain flowers, exotic butterflies, small rivulets, springs and the deer park nearby, this hill station also has excellent trekking trails
Kovalam Beach : This internationally renowned beach resort has been a favorite haunt of tourists since the 1930s. Kovalam consists of three adjacent crescent beaches. The southernmost, known as the Lighthouse Beach, is the most popular. Kovalam offers accommodation options to suit all budgets.
>> Cherai Beach
This lovely beach near Kochi, bordering Vypeen island which is a major centre for commerce, is ideal for swimming. Dolphins are occasionally seen here. A typical Kerala village with paddy fields and coconut groves nearby is an added attraction of this beach
A pleasant retreat set amidst the lush forested hills, Mt. Abu is a green oasis in the barren desertscape that’s Rajasthan. Situated at the southern tip of the Aravali range the hill retreat owes its cool climate to its rich flora covering the entire hillside that includes coniferous trees and flowering shrubs. The road leading to Mount Abu is a curved one characterized by arid region dotted with huge rocks in weird shapes and high velocity winds. The only hill station in Rajasthan, Mount Abu is more than just a summer retreat. Its stunning array of exquisite Dilwara Jain Temples, dating back 11th- 13th centuries, make it a popular pilgrimage centre. ‘Abu’ according to a legend stands for the son of Himalayan, deriving its name from Arbuada, the powerful serpent who rescued Nandi, the sacred bull of Lord Shiva, from a chasm.
Mount Abu has been home to many sages and saints. Most famous of them was Sage Vashishtha who is believed to have created four agnikula Rajput clans from a fire-pit by performing a ‘yagna’ or fire sacrifice, to protect the earth from the demons.
Places to visit at Mount Abu:
Down on the Abu Road side of Mount Abu, a small stream flows from the mouth of a marble cow, giving the shrine its name. There is also a marble figure of the bull Nandi, Shiva’s vehicle. The tank here, Agni Kund, is said to be the site of the sacrificial fire, made by sage Vashistha, from which four of the great Rajput clans were born. An image of Vashishtha is flanked by the figures of Rama and Krishna.
Delwara Jain Temples
The Temple complex includes two temples with exquisite marble carvings. The older of the temples is the Vimal Vasahi, built in 1031 by a Gujrati minister named Vimal. It is dedicated to the first tirthankar (Jain Teacher), Adinath. The later Tejpal Temple is dedicated to Neminath, the 22nd tirthankar, and was built in1231 by the brothers Tejpal and Vastupal.
About Adhar Devi Temple
The Adhar Devi temple, about 3km north of town, is chiseled out of a huge rock reached by a flight of 365 steps. You have to stoop to get through the low entrance of the temple. It is a favorite tourist spot.
The museum is divided into two sections. The first section has been adorned by a diorama of local tribal hut with their usual living style by adding a gallery of weapons, musical instruments, ladies ornaments like barly, damani, karna, guthma toda, gaga wala thoomar, kanksi berla, various type of earrings and garments etc. belonging to hill dwellers.
The second section has a series of miniature paintings based on raga-ragnis, lain images from Sirohi, medium sized shields, a small canon called ‘Topdi’ and some pieces of carvings on local wood.
Of the various points around the town, Sunset Point, 1.5 km from the tourist office of Mount Abu, is the most popular. Hoards stroll out here every evening to catch the setting sun, the food stalls and all the usual entertainment. Is is a one kilometer walk from the road to the viewpoint or you can hire a horse.
Honeymoon Point, 2.5 kms northwest on Ganesh Road, also known as Andra Point, offers an enchanting view of the verdant plains and valleys. The place looks most beautiful during the dusk hours. The route to Honeymoon Point goes past the Nakki Lake.
Other popular viewpoints include the Crags and the Shanti shikhar. Shanti Sikhar, west of Adhar Devi temple, presents panoramic views.
At the end of the plateau, 15km from Mount Abu, is Guru Shikar, the highest point in Rajasthan at 1722m. A road goes almost all the way to the summit. At the top is the Atri Rishi Temple, complete with a priest and good views all around.
The Shiva Temple of Achaleshwar Mahandeva, in Achalgarh, boasts a number of interesting features , including what is said to be a toe of Shiva, as well as a brass Nandi (Shiva’s vehicle, a bull) and, where the Siva Lingum would normally be, there is a deep hole that is said to extend all the way down to the underworld.
Gardens & Parks
Beautifully laid parks and gardens are interspersed throughout the hilly paradise. Ashok Vatika,Gandhi park, Municipal Park, Shaitan Singh Park and Terrace Garden are some of the noteworthy gardens.
Another park, the Brahma Kumaris Peace Park is both lovely and serene, It is the realisation of a dream, a natural environment where silence and recreation co-exist, The Peace Park is nestled between two famous peaks of the Aravalli hills – the well known spiritual pilgrimage destinations of Guru Shikhar and Achal Garh. The Park Is an oasis of natural beauty found only 8 kms from the Brahma Kumaris Headquarters in Mount Abu.
Situated near the ‘Nakki’ lake is the temple dedicated to Shri Raghunathji with a beautiful image of the deity that was placed here in 14th century A.D. by Shri Ramanand the famous Hindu preacher.
Named after the British engineer who constructed it, Trevor’s Tank is a delight for bird watchers with densely wooded hills that are a haven to pigeons, peacocks and partridges.
Taj Mahal of India – “the epitome of love”, “a monument of immeasurable beauty”. The beauty of this magnificent monument is such that it is beyond the scope of words. The thoughts that come into the mind while watching the Taj Mahal of Agra is not just its phenomenal beauty, but the immense love which was the reason behind its construction. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan got this monument constructed in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, with whom he fell in love at the first sight. The very first sight of the Taj Mahal, the epitome of love and romance leaves one mesmerized.
Standing majestically on the banks of River Yamuna, the Taj Mahal is synonymous with love and romance. It is believed that the name “Taj Mahal” was derived from the name of Shah Jahan wife Mumtaz Mahal and means “Crown Palace”. The purity of the white marble, the exquisite ornamentation, precious gemstones used and its picturesque location, all make Taj Mahal travel gain a place amongst the most popular ones. However, unless and until, one knows the love story behind the Tajmahal of India, it will come up as just a beautiful building. But, the love behind this outstanding monument is what has given a life to this monument.
Location: On the banks of river Yamuna in Agra Year of Construction: 1631-1653 Built By: Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan Spread Over: 42 acres Significance: One of the Seven Wonders of the World
Best Time to Visit: October to March (Winters)
The best time to visit Taj Mahal revolves around the weather of Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal. As per the climate of Agra, the peak season for Taj Mahal visit is the winter season i.e., from October to March. Otherwise, there is no such thing as “the best time” to visit this magnificent monument. You may see Taj Mahal in any month of the year and it will come forward as breathtaking as it has always been. Infact, different seasons as well as different hours of the day lend a different aura to it.
Visit the Taj in the morning and it will come up with a pinkish glow to it. As the day passes, the pinkish glow turns into milky white by the evening. However, the radiance of the Taj under the moonlight is beyond any explanation.
Delhi is India’s main point of arrival for overseas visitors, and the major transport hub for destinations in the states of rajasthan, the Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh as well as central north India. Delhi city, the showacse of India, has been the centre of political activity from time immemorial. The ancient fortness, majestic buildings and historic ruins find their modern counterparts in the tall skyscrapers, diplomatic enclaves and well-planned townships of New Delhi. The people here, their lifestyles, traditions and even the climate are a rich and varied mixture of all that is india.
From the tourism point of view, New Delhi benefits a lot from its history. The city was built to the south of the old city built by Shahjahan. Before the Mughuls came on the scene, Delhi was the headquarters of many dynasties that have ruled India or major parts of it. Tughlaqabad, Old Fort built by Humayun, the monuments at Mehrauli, and of course, the Red Fort are among the best known tourist attractions of New Delhi. Later additions by the British like the Viceroy’s House ( Rashtrapati Bhavan ), the parliament House, and Connaught Place are also among the highlights of the New Delhi tours.
The city holds tremendous importance for the country, being the national capital. All the major ministries and the secretariats are located here as are the head offices of major government organizations. New Delhi is synonymous to the governance of modern India, much as Old Delhi was the center of political activities in medieval India.
Tourism in New Delhi comprises all the major historical places and monuments that are the relics of the past dynasties. These include the famous monuments like Red Fort and Qutb Minar, and a large number of forts, palaces and tombs built by the erstwhile rulers. The Rashtrapati Bhavan, Rajpath, India gate, Connaught Place, and the parliament House are some of the modern buildings which should be visited by tourists during New Delhi tours. In addition to the above mentioned spots, New Delhi is also home to a large number of religious places. The most prominent among these are the Jumma Masjid, the Akshardham temple, and the Lotus temple. New Delhi has been the residence of many prominent figures of Indian politics including the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and his equally famous descendants. The residence of Jawaharlal Nehru is also a major tourist attraction of New Delhi. The memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, known as the father of the nation, at Rajghat, and the memorials of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, both of whom were assassinated, are also some notable sites.
Delhi’s climate is, sad to say, infamously bad, combining the scorching aridity of Rajasthan’s deserts with the frigid cold of the Himalayas. From April to October, temperatures are scorchingly hot (over 40°C is common), and the monsoon rains deluge the city in July and August. With every air-conditioner running at full blast, the city’s creaky infrastructure is often stretched beyond the breaking point, with power and water outages common. In winter, especially December and January, temperatures can dip to near-zero and the city is blanketed in thick fog, causing numerous flight cancellations. The shoulder seasons (Feb-Apr and Sep-Nov) are comparatively pleasant, with temperatures in the 20-30°C range, but short.
Places to visit in Delhi:
Chandni Chowk – One of the main markets of Delhi, Chandni Chowk was once lined with beautiful fountains. But today the place is very crowded and congested. Chandni Chowk is located opposite the Red Fort. The Area has got the Digamber Jain Temple which houses the Birds hospital. On one end of Chandni Chowk is the Fatehpuri Mosque which was erected by the wives of Shah Jahan. Opposite the old police station or the Kotwali is the Sunheri Masjid from where Nadir Shah ordered his troops to plunder and massacre Delhi.
Old Delhi – The City of Shahjahanabad was the capital of Shah Jahan but little remains of that old city. The Old Delhi or the walled city served as the capital for many emperors. Today, remains of the historical city are the gates like – Kashmiri Gate, Ajmeri Gate, Turkman Gate, Delhi gate. Near Delhi Gate is Feroz Shah Kotla, close to this is kept the Ashokan Pillar which was brought from Meerut by Feroz Shah Tughlaq.
The Ghats – Along the banks of Jamuna are located the places were the leaders and freedom fighters of India were cremated. The Raj Ghat is one of the most visited ghats. A simple square platform of black marble marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated after his assassination in 1948. To North of Raj Ghat is the cremation ground of Jawaharlal Nehru named as Shanti Van. The cremation ground of Indira Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi are also in the vicinity. The cremation ground of Lal Bahadur Shastri is nearby.
Rajpath & India Gate – Flanked by ornamental ponds and lawns, Rajpath is host to the Republic Day Parade. The two secretariat buildings and Rashtrapati Bhawan on the Raisina hills are located on the two sides of this immensely broad road. Previously the Boat Club, besides the Rajpath, was host to many demonstrations and Rallies. India Gate is towards the eastern end of Rajpath .
India Gate is a 42m high stone arch of triumph. It bears the name of the 85,000 Indian Army Soldiers who died in the campaigns of WW1, the North-West Frontiers operations and the 1919 Afghan Fiasco. Below the arch is the memorial to the unknown soldier. India Gate is surrounded by green grass lawns and trees.
The Parliament House– Sansad Bhawan or the Parliament house is the supreme law making body in the country. It is the center of power and politicians decide the fate of the Indian Democracy here. Visitors are not allowed inside the house but when the house is in session, visitors may take permission to go inside and watch the proceedings of the house. The parliament consists of three halls- Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the central hall. For the foreign visitors permits are given only after they obtain an introductory letter from the respective embassy.
Crafts Museum– Crafts museums is at Pragati Maidan Grounds. Open from 10am-5pm daily.
Gandhi Darshan & Gandhi National Museum – Gandhi Darshan & Gandhi National Museum is across Rajghat and Gandhi smriti is on Tees January Marg
Dara Shikoh Library – Dara Shikoh Library is an archaeological museum in Civil Lines and is open from 10am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Dolls Museum – A unique museum of Dolls is located near the ITO crossing on the Bahadur Shah Jafar Marg . These dolls are collected from different parts of India as well as from other countries of the world. These dolls reflect the tradition and culture of the region from where they come. Children Book Trust of India is In the same building. This is an organisation which is committed to provide quality books for the little ones.
National Science Centre – National Science center is located near Pragati Maidan. This center is famous for the models which can be operated by the visitor himself. Children are particularly fascinated by the mysteries of science. Open through out the week except on Mondays.
Humayun’s Tomb – Built by the wife of Humayun, Haji Begum in the mid 16th century, this red sand stone structure is considered to be the predecessor of Taj Mahal. The structure is one of the best example of Mughal Architecture. Humayun’s wife is also buried in the red and white sandstone, black and yellow marble tomb. The entry in the complex is free on Fridays.
Old Fort – It is believed that the Pandavas had built their capital, Indraprastha at the place where the old fort stands today. This fort, now in ruins, was the seat for administration for many emperors. The legendary Prithviraj Chauhan ruled from here till he was defeated by Abdali in the battle of Panipat. A new light & sound show is held by the Department of Delhi Tourism every evening. Timings and Tickets are available from the tourist office.
Safdarjung Tomb – The Safdarjang tomb is besides the of Safdarjang airport. This tomb was built by the Nawab of Avadh for his father. The structure is one of the finest example of architecture of its time and tells a saga of the last remnants of a dying empire.
Jantar Mantar – Few minutes walk from Connaught Place is is a strange collection of solomon coloured structures. These were built by Maharaja Jai Singh and is actually an observatory. Though not as large as its compatriot in Jaipur Jantar Mantar at Delhi also an attraction for the tourists. The astonishing part of these observatories is that they can calculate many astronomical movements very accurately.
Red Fort – Built in Red Sand stone this imposing fort is 3 kms in perimeter with the height of the wall varying from 18 to 30 meters at places. When the Red fort was being built Yamuna used to flow on its one sides and there were deep moats on the other. Today Yamuna flows almost a kilometer away from the fort and the moats have dried up. In the evening the Delhi Tourism organises a light and sound show which narrates the history of Delhi in context of the Red Fort.
The Lahore gate, the main entrance, has some emotions and sentiments attached with the Indian independence as the Tricolour flutters on the top of this gate. On 15th August the Indian Prime minister addresses the nation from here. As soon one enters in the fort from the Lahore gate There is a small Bazzar, here all kinds of items are available. This Shopping arcade was known as the Mina Bazzar and was open only to women on Thursdays’s during the Mughal era.
The arcade leads to the Naubat Khana or the drum house where the Musicians used to play drums on the arrival of Emperors or princes. Just above the Naubat Khana is the Indian war memorial museum which has a rich collection of armours, guns, swords, and other items related to war.
The Dewan-i-Am or the place of public hearing had a wall paneled with marble in laid with precious stone which were removed during the mutiny of 1857. The Dewan-i-Khas or the place for special hearing was the area where the emperor used to hold meetings with his ministers. Next to Dewan-i-Khas are the royal baths or the Hammams and Shahi Burj which are closed for public viewing. The white marbled Moti Masjid or the pearl mosque was the private mosque for Aurangzeb.
Qutab Minar – In 1199, Qutbuddin raised the Qutab Minar either as a victory tower or as a minaret to the adjacent mosque. From a base of 14.32 mtrs. it tapers to 2.75 mtrs. at a height of 72.5 mtrs. It is still the highest stone tower in India, one of the finest stone tower in India, one of the finest Islamic structures ever raised and Delhi’s recognised landmark. It was completed by the Sultan’s successor and son-in-law, Iltutmish. The tomb of Iltutmish, which he himself built in 1235, is nearby, Its interiors are profusely decorated with calligraphy, though the dome has collapsed.
The Gardens – Though Delhi is fast being converted into a concrete jungle, the Delhi Development Authority is trying best to provide the residents of Delhi with some greenery by construction of parks and gardens. The DDA has also installed some musical fountains at specific locations which are worth visiting. Being part of the Aravalies,
Moghul Gardens – The Mughal Garden is located in the premises of the President house. This garden is not opened to public viewing. During the spring seasons of February and March, when the garden is in full bloom people are allowed inside. This garden have some exotic and rare flower plants. The dwarf orange trees and numerous Rose plants are special attraction in the garden. The fountains add to the beauty of the place.
Rose Garden – National Rose Garden is situated in the Chanakya Puri area of the capital. This garden has some of the rare and imported rose variety. The best season to visit this garden is during December / January when the flowers are in full bloom.
Lodhi Garden – Adjoining the India International Center is the Garden, around the tombs of Sayid and Lodhi rulers. This garden is very well planned and has artificial streams. The Tombs of the rulers adorn the architectural style which was latter used in the construction of Taj Mahal.
The Zoo – The Delhi Zoo is located near the Purana Qila on the Delhi-Mathura road. Delhi Zoo has many animals which includes the rare and exotic white tigers. This place is particularly popular among the children.