Khajuraho Group of Monuments

Khajuraho_group_of_temple

The Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a group of Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh, India, They are one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. Khajuraho, through its architectural magnificence, displays the height of artistic excellence reached by the architects of a particular time in ancient India. The temples are famous for their nagara-style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures. Originally a group of 85, they are the largest group of Hindu and Jain temples in the world, although only about 25 of them remain today.

History : 

The Khajuraho group of monuments was built during the rule of the Rajput Chandela dynasty, which reached its apogee between 950 and 1050. It was the principal seat of authority of the Chandella rulers who adorned it with numerous tanks, scores of lofty temples of sculptural grace and architectural splendor. The local tradition lists eighty-five temples but now only twenty-five are standing examples in various stages of preservation. Most temples were built during the reigns of the Hindu kings Yashovarman and Dhanga. Yashovarman’s legacy is best exhibited by The Lakshmana Temple. Vishvanatha temple best highlights King Dhanga’s reign. 

There are three geographical divisions of temples at Khajuraho i.e. western, eastern and southern. Largest among these is the western group. This group consists of famous temples – Jagdambi Temple, Kandariya Mahadeva and Chitragupta Temples. The largest and currently most famous surviving temple is Kandariya Mahadeva built in the reign of King Vidyadhara. The temple inscriptions suggest many of the currently surviving temples were complete between 970 and 1030 CE, with further temples completed during the following decades. Central Indian region, where Khajuraho temples are, remained in the control of many different Muslim dynasties from 13th century through the 18th century. In this period, some temples were desecrated, followed by a long period when they were left in neglect. 

The vegetation and forest took over but in secret yogis and devotees visited the temples. In the 1830s, T.S. Burt, a British surveyor rediscovered the monuments. Apart from these temples, Khajuraho is also popular for its cultural festival of dance and music that is organized by Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad. Classical dancers from all across India come there to perform.

Description:

3=Devi_Jagdambi_Temple_Khajuraho_-_Outer_Wall_01 These temples, featured with erotic sculptures, have made the name of the town get mentioned in the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) list of the World Heritage Sites in the nation. Khajuraho Temples are among the most beautiful medieval monuments in the country. The layout, architecture, and construction are unrivaled. They are built of sandstone with unique mortise and tenon joints. Because of the sculptures, the temples are also referred as Kamasutra temples.  A few of the temples are dedicated to the Jain pantheon and the rest to Hindu deities — to God’s Trio, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and various Devi forms, such as the Devi Jagadambi. 

681px-Varaha_Sculpture_-_Khajuraho A few of the temples are dedicated to the Jain pantheon and the rest to Hindu deities — to God’s Trio, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and various Devi forms, such as the Devi Jagadambi. The artwork symbolically highlights the four goals of life considered necessary and proper in Hinduism – dharma, kama, artha and moksha. Of the surviving temples, 6 are dedicated to Shiva and his consorts, 8 to Vishnu and his affinities, 1 to Ganesha, 1 to Sun god, 3 to Jain Tirthankars. The temples have a rich display of intricately carved statues. While they are famous for their erotic sculpture, sexual themes cover less than 10% of the temple sculpture. The arts cover numerous aspects of human life and values considered important in Hindu pantheon. Further, the images are arranged in a configuration to express central ideas of Hinduism.

The Jain temples are located on east-southeast region of Khajuraho monuments.[37] Chausath jogini temple features 64 jogini, while Ghantai temple features bells sculptured on its pillars.

The temple complex hosts a very good sound-and-light show every evening and an annual dance festival in February. Some of the famous temples in the complex are the Lakshmana Temple, the Vishwanath Temple and the Kandariya Mahadev Temple.

Lakshmana Temple:

Lakshmana_temple Built by Chandela kings, Lakshmana Temple is one of the first magnificent structures established in Khajuraho. Known to be an architectural marvel, this beautiful shrine is amongst the largest temples set in the Western Wing of the Khajuraho complex. Constructed in 930-950 AD, the temple is one of the well-preserved temple having a full five-part floor plan and four subsidiary shrines. The temple is beautifully decorated with patterns of elephants and horsemen carrying out parade and there is a small idol in every corner. It also contains sculptures carved with the life of Lord Krishna like subjugation of the serpent Kaliya and the killing of demon Putana. The shrines also have a three-headed and four-armed image of Lord Vishnu known as Vaikuntha-Vishnu. 

Vishwanath Temple:

Visvanatha_Temple_-_Flickr_-_archer10_(Dennis) Vishwanath Temple is located on the north-eastern corner of the western group complex. Vishwanath temple in Khajuraho is famous for the beautifully carved sculptures of Shivlinga and idol of Lord Brahma. This temple is considered to be a UNESCO world heritage site constructed in the 11th century. The word Vishvanatha means “Lord of the Universe“. The wall of the temples contains carvings of couples making love and various mythical creatures. Adding beauty to the shrine, images of lions and elephants can be seen on the southern as well as northern steps of the temple. The beautifully carved exteriors of the temple are decorated with images of Apsaras to enhance the charm and beauty of this huge temple.

Kandariya Mahadev Temple: 

Kandariya_Mahadeva_Temple,_Khajuraho_(side) Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is the largest, tallest and most beautiful Hindu Temple of the Khajuraho Group of Temples. This is one of the most imposing structures in the Western group of Khajuraho, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Depicting the Chandela art, the huge shrine was constructed in 1025–1050. The mesmerizing looks of the temple and 900 awesomely carved sculptures imply the rich culture of Madhya Pradesh to the visitors. This temple is dedicated to Hindu Lord Shiva, and has a Shiva Linga made of marble, as its sanctum. About 646 statues are installed in its boundary that looks even more appealing. The façade of this temple is east facing.  The beautifully sculpted ceilings and the outer walls with three horizontal panels featuring deities of the Hindu pantheon illustrate the eternal glory of Khajuraho. 

Best Time To Visit:

The beautifully sculpted ceilings and the outer walls with three horizontal panels featuring deities of the Hindu pantheon illustrate the eternal glory of Khajuraho. The ideal time to visit Khajuraho is between the months of October and March. The average temperature remains close to 20°C (68 °F) during the month of October till February making it ideal for outdoor activities like temple visit.

How To Reach:

By Air: Khajuraho has its own Domestic Airport, which is well-connected to most of the Indian cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Allahabad, and Bhopal.

By Rail: Khajuraho has a railway station, but only a few trains halt there. Mahoba is the nearest major railhead, 63 km away. Trains from Mumbai, Mathura,Allahabad, Varanasi, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Kolkata, etc. run regularly to Mahoba.

By Road: Khajuraho is well connected with a good bus network. The highways connect Khajuraho with every city in Madhya Pradesh.

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Sabarmati Ashram

Gandhi_home

Sabarmati Ashram also known as Gandhi Ashram, Harijan Ashram, or Satyagraha Ashram is located in the Sabarmati suburb of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, adjoining the Ashram Road, on the banks of the River Sabarmati, four miles from the town hall. Gandhi stayed at the Ashram from 1915 to 1933 later on the Ashram was disbanded. The Ashram is a witness to many important historical events. Originally it was called the Satyagraha Ashram, reflecting the movement toward passive resistance launched by the Mahatma. It was also from here on 12 March 1930 that Gandhi launched the famous Dandi March 241 miles from the Ashram (with 78 companions) in protest of the British Salt Law, which taxed Indian salt in an effort to promote sales of British salt in India. Generally called Mahatma Gandhi, who lived there for about twelve years along with his wife, Kasturba Gandhi. In recognition of the significant influence that this march had on the Indian independence movement the Indian government has established the ashram as a national monument. 

Today, this ashram is basically a museum, known as Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya. Along with the museum, this ashram houses a library, auditorium and photo galleries depicting the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Consequently the exhibits on view depict the vivid and historic events of Gandhiji’s life. There are books, manuscripts and photocopies of his correspondence, photographs of Gandhiji with his wife Kasturba and other ashram associates, life size oil paintings and actual relics like his writing desk and spinning wheel.

Gandhi_Ashram Sabarmati_Ashram Sabarmati-Ashram-12

History : 

Upon returning from South Africa on January 9, 1915, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was in search for a place to settle himself and a small group of relatives and associates who were with him in the African struggle. Gandhi’s first Ashram in India was established in the Kochrab area of Ahmedabad on 25 May 1915. The Ashram was then shifted on 17 June 1917 to a piece of open land on the banks of the river Sabarmati because Gandhi wanted to carry out various activities such as farming and animal husbandry, in addition to other pursuits which called for the need of a much larger area of useable land, the ashram was relocated to an area of thirty-six acres on the banks of the river Sabarmati, and it came to be known as the Sabarmati Ashram. It was believed that this is one of the ancient ashram site of Dadhichi Rishi who had donated his bones for a righteous war, but his main ashram lies in Naimisharanya, near Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh; it is between a jail and a crematorium, and he believed that a satyagrahi has invariably to go to either place. Mahatma Gandhi said, “This is the right place for our activities to carry on the search for truth and develop fearlessness, for on one side are the iron bolts of the foreigners, and on the other the thunderbolts of Mother Nature”.

Sabarmati-Ashram-2 images (1) photo_at_Gandhi_Memorial_,_Sabarmati_Ashram_,_Ahamadabad

The Sabarmati Ashram (also known as Harijan Ashram) was home to Mohandas Gandhi from 1917 until 1930 and served as one of the main centres of the Indian freedom struggle. The first struggle Gandhi headed from the Sabarmati Ashram was for the textile workers strike. There was a complete deadlock between the mill owners and the inadequately paid workers. It was difficult for the workers not to become angry, as they were starving. However, Gandhi joined with them in fast, and later used the strikers to found a Weavers School at Sabarmati. It was also from here that on 12 March 1930, Gandhi marched to Dandi, 241 miles from the ashram, with 78 companions in protest at the British Salt Law, which increased the taxes on Indian salt in an effort to promote sales of British salt in India. On 12 March 1930 Gandhi had vowed that he would not return to the ashram until India had gained independence. Although India was declared a free nation on 15 August 1947, Gandhi was assassinated on 30 January 1948.

Present Day : 

The ashram now has a museum, the Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya. This had originally been located in Hridaya Kunj, Gandhi’s own cottage in the ashram. It is a place of great historic value, where even today visitors find some of the things which Gandhiji used- a writing desk, a khadi kurta, a yarn spun by him and some of his letters.  It is developing into a Resource Centre for the Gandhian and allied Studies and Research. It also processes the information, data, audio-visual materials, etc., for the use of different categories. One of the important activities undertaken is the establishment of a Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya. The exhibition in the museum consists of 8 life-size painting and around 250 photo-enlargements historic events of Gandhi’s life. Visitors can also see the archive of letters written by Gandhi, displayed in the galleries of the museum. Visitors can explore the ashram in the 90 minutes guided tour that is organised by the trust, which runs this ashram. Today, the Ashram serves as a source of inspiration and guidance, and stands as a monument to Gandhi’s life mission and a testimony to others who have fought a similar struggle. 

Museum  features  & Activities

  • “My life is my message” gallery, consists of 8 life-size painting and around 250 photo-enlargements historic events of Gandhi’s life.
  • Library holds a collection of 35,000 books, all of which are based on the life of Mahatma Gandhi and Indian freedom movement. 
  • Life-size oil painting gallery.
  • An important landmark of the ashram is Gandhi’s cottage ‘Hridaya Kunj’, where some of the personal relics of Gandhi are displayed.
  • Microfilming, lamination and preservation of negatives.
  • Collecting, processing, preserving and displaying archival materials such as writings, photographs, paintings, voice-records, films and personal effects. 
  • Arranging exhibitions on aspects of Gandhi’s life, literature and activities.
  • The Ashram Trust funds activities that include education for the visitor and the community and routine maintenance of the museum and its surrounding grounds and buildings.

How To Reach :

Ahmadabad is well connected to all major cities like Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta, Madras, Trivandrum, Varanasi, Madras, Jaipur, Indore, and Calcutta by Air, Train and buses. 

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Panipat

The ancient, heritage city of Panipat is nestled right in the heartland of Haryana, in North India. It is the foremost historic city of importance after Delhi and is a battleground town close to the banks of the river, Yamuna, is the location of three historic battles that shaped Mughal history. Panipat, a district head-quarter is situated on National Highway No.1 at a distance of 90 km from Delhi. The battles fought at the city in 1526, 1556 and 1761 were turning points in Indian history. Panipat is famous for textiles and carpets. It is also known for its world famous pickle ‘Pachranga International’. Panipat is popular in the country by the name of ‘City of Weaver’. It is also home to many industries such as Indian Oil Co. Ltd. (IOCL) Refinery, NTPC Thermal Power Plant and National Fertilizers Limited. It is the biggest centre for cheap blankets and carpets in India.

History of Panipat :

As found in the epic Mahabharata, Panipat was one of the five cities founded by the Pandavas. The ancient name of the town was Pandu Prastha. Also, the initial canto of the Bhagavad Gita is probably referencing to Panipat as the famous Dharmakshetra. It was an important centre for Sufi saints, Muslim scholars and Moghal rulers. Three pivotal battles have been fought on the land of Panipat. First in 1526 between Babur and Ibrahim Lodi, Second in 1556 between Akbar and Hemu and the Third in 1761 between Durrani Empire and Maratha Empire. Panipat was formed as a district in 1824. As the biggest centre of ‘shoddy yarn’ in the world, and exporter of handloom products to developed countries such as Japan, Canada, Australia and Germany, Panipat has earned a pride of place in the international market for its handloom products.

First Battle of Panipat : 

Article_at_War_Memorial_Museum,_Red_Fort,_Delhi_01 The first battle of Panipat saw emergence of the Mughals, mightiest power in Indian History. According to legends it was the oldest Indian battles to have used gunpowder firearms and field artillery. The first battle of Panipat was fought on 21st April, 1526. This battle was fought between Ibrahim Lodhi, Sultan of Delhi and the warlord of Timurid, Zaheeruddin Babur. Babur’s force defeated Ibrahim’s much larger force of over one lakh (one hundred thousand) soldiers. This first battle of Panipat thus ended the ‘Lodi Rule’ established by Bahlul Lodhi in Delhi. In the end, it was Babur who emerged victorious and established the Mughal Empire, while Ibrahim Lodhi perished in the Battle.

Second Battle of Panipat : 

The_Third_battle_of_Panipat_13_January_1761 The Second Battle of Panipat was fought on 5 November 1556 between the forces of Akbar and Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, a Hindu King of Delhi. The Hindu Hemu, the last minister of the Afghan kings who had regained control of Delhi and Agra after Humayun’s death. Taking the advantage of Humayun’s death he was successful in capturing the reigns of Agra and Delhi without much difficulty. This victory of Adil Shah and Hemu didn’t last much as Bairam Shah, who was the chief Minister and guardian of Akbar proceeded with a large army towards Delhi. This king, also known as Vikramaditya had won 22 battles against the Afghan rebels from 1553–1556 from Punjab to Bengal, and had his coronation at Purana Quila in Delhi on 7 October 1556 and had established ‘Hindu Raj’ in North India. Chandra had a large army, and initially his forces were winning, but suddenly Hemu was struck by an arrow in the eye and he lost his senses. On not seeing him in his howdah on the back of an elephant, his army fled. He was executed shortly thereafter. His head was sent to Kabul to be hanged outside Delhi Darwaza, and his torso was hanged outside Purana Quila in Delhi. Thus, it was this ferocious battle that reestablished the strong Mughal Empire which had a powerful reign of Akbar to create history.

Third Battle of Panipat :

2-12th_Madras_Native_Infantry_at_the_Battle_of_Assaye,_1803._Painting_by_JC_Stadler_(1780-1822),_c._1815. The third battle of Panipat was fought on 14 January 1761 between Ahmad Shah Abdali and Sadashivrao Bhau Peshwa of Pune. The Afghans had a total strength of 125,000 soldiers, and the Marathas had 100,000 soldiers and 25,000 pilgrims. During the eighteenth century the parallel decline of Mughal Empire and defeat of Marathas in the battle of Panipat saw a new beginning of the colonial rule in India. The Maratha soldiers were unable to get food because of non-cooperation of other empires of Hindustan and this resulted in having to eat the leaves off trees to survive. The Afghans were supported by Najib and Sujaudolla for the supply of food, and the Maratha had pilgrims along with them, who were unable to fight, including female pilgrims also. This battle resulted in a bad defeat for the Marathas and was followed by the British conquest of India. On the single day of 14 January, more than one lakh (100,000) of soldiers died resulting in the victory for the Afghans.

Along with being a significant historic destination of India, Panipat is also the biggest centre of Shoddy Yarn in the world. Its Samalkha subdivision is also famous as a Foundry of Agricultural instruments. With its rich history, dating back to the times of the Mahabharata, it is but natural that Panipat should be full of interesting places to visit. The government has made it easier for the tourist by setting up a museum, where the visitor can have a comprehensive look at all the significant events and the relics that the rich history of the place has given rise to. Panipat also has some significant tourist destinations like Hemu Samadhi-Sthal, grave of Ibrahim Lodhi, Kabuli Bagh, Devi Mandir, Salar Gunj Gate as well as the famous Tomb of Bu Ali Shah Qalandar.

Tourist Attraction :

Devi Temple :

Devi_Temple The Devi Temple of Panipat exists on the banks of a large tank and is dedicated to a local goddess, has been an important part of the folklore in Hindu culture. This temple is known for its unique architecture and ancient sculptures. The temple is about 250 years old. Located quite centrally in tehsil camp Panipat, Devi temple is a must visit while you are in Panipat Besides this a Shiva temple believed to have been built by a Maratha warrior named Mangal Raghunath who had remained in Panipat after the battle, also exists as a popular pilgrimage destination.

Tomb of Bu-Ali Shah Kalandar :

mosque Standing deftly for seven hundred years, this tomb is also known as Dargah of Shah Kalandar Khizar Khan, the son of Allau-din Khilj was born in 1190 A.D about 700 years ago. Enclosed at Qalandar chowk, this is one tomb, whose architecture matches the likes of Ajmer Dargah, Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah at Delhi among others, but is largely unexplored as of now. This tomb is visited by a large number of Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, especially on Thursdays. Every Thursday prayers are offered at the Dargah of Shah Kalandar Khizar Khan, son of Allah-uh-din Khilji, the tomb attracts a lot of crowd who come here to offer prayers.

Tomb of Ibrahim Lodhi :

Tomb_of_Mohammed_Shah_(Lodhi_Garden) Ibrahim Lodhi was the Afghan Sultan of Delhi who was killed by the Turco-Mongol warlord Babur in April 1526 in the First Battle of Panipat, is situated near the Tehsil office of Panipat. It is a plain rectangular structure built on a high platform. The Grave of Ibrahim Lodhi is certainly not a minor site to many of the tourists visiting Panipat. A much-venerated site. The British government rebuilt the original tomb, and an inscription that carried Ibrahim Lodhi’s life history and contributions was incorporated in the mausoleum. Another memorial, however, is said to have existed which used to be a place of pilgrimage for the people of Gwalior since Vikramaditya, the last Raja ( king of the old dynasty ofGwalior, fell in the same battle. This memorial, according to Alexander Cunningham, was destroyed when the Grand Trunk Road was made.

Panipat Museum :

panipat-museum The Panipat Museum is the most popular attraction of Panipat which is home to a lot of precious artefacts and showcases the history of the region. This museum was established with the main purpose of imparting information about the three legendary battles of Panipat held in 1526, 1556 and 1761 which marked the turning point in Indian history. The display of antiquities, inscription, sculptures, arms and armors, pottery, old and valuable documents, jewellery and art and craft objects, have been augmented by maps, writeups, and photographs and translides, etc. These include Sadashivrao Bhau, Peshwa Vishwasrao, Jankoji Rao Scindia, Shamsher Bahadur I (Krishna Rao) – son of Bajirao I and Mastani, Ibrahim Lodhi, Tukoji Shinde, Hemu, Vyankatrao Wable – a local hero also known as Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya called so after winning 22 continuous battles and who belonged to Haryana, Raja SurjaMal of Bharatpur, Vikramaditya (Vikramajit) of Gwalior, Maharaja of Patiala, Sher Shah SURI. A large number of contemporary weapons, armory, guns, etc. have been acquired through loan from the Archaeological Survey of India. A few important miniatures are also present in the galleries of this museum in the form of enlarged photos of Babur-Nama and Akbar-Nama.

Kabuli Bagh Mosque :

Kabuli_Bagh_Mosque The garden of Kabuli Bagh is situated at a distance of 2 km from the city of Panipat. The most popular feature of this garden is the Kabuli Shah Mosque, built by Babur to celebrate his victory over Lodhi. The first Mughal monument in India, the impressive edifice is named after Babur’s wife Mussammt Kabuli Begum which nestles cozily inside an enclosure. The gateway is built with red sandstone and has intricate work on the huge arch. A few years later, of the construction of this tomb, a masonry platform was added to it called the Chabutra, by Humayun after he defeated Salem Shah, near Panipat. The mosque has octagonal towers on its corners and an entrance to the north. The bagh attracts a lot of tourists for its historical importance and beauty alike.

Panipat is home to more than 50 senior secondary schools, most notable are Nalwa Public School, Nalwa College of Education, SD Vidya Mandir, DAV Cent. Public School, HUDA,Delhi Public School, Panipat Refinery and D.A.V. Public School, Thermal G D Goenka Public School. There are half a dozen colleges providing courses from undergraduate to graduate level; some of the well known are S.D (PG) College (which also offers PhD courses) at G.T Road Panipat, Arya (PG) College G.T Road Panipat and I.B (PG) College, G.T Road Panipat. There are also several engineering colleges, including NCCE Israna. 

How To Reach : 

By Air : Nearest airport is Indira Gandhi International Airport (94 km). which is well connected to all major city of India. 

By Rail : Panipat is well connection of Railway by all major city of India.

By Road : As well as railway panipat is well connected to all major city of India by Road way.

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Fatehpur Sikri

Panoramic_vie_of_Fahpur_Sikri_Palace

Built back in the 16thcentury by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular destinations of India, is a city in the Agra District of Uttar Pradesh state. Farehpur Sikri is capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585, when it was abandoned. By going for tours to this historical site, you can get a feel of the rich historical culture of medieval Mughal India. The surviving palace and mosque are a tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name, Fateh is of Arabic origin and means “victory”. The city houses a number of historical monuments which are all built of red sandstone. These monuments display a blend of Hindu, Persian and Indo-Muslim traditions in their architecture.

History :

Akbar didn’t had heir till the age of 26. Regarding this, he visited the saint, whose blessing gave Akbar 3 sons.  Akbar named the boy Salim after the astrologer, and, two years later decided to move the capital to Sikri. The glorious city was planned by Akbar, the great emperor of Mughal dynasty. The name Fateh is originated from Arabic which means “victory” and Sikri means “thanks to god” and the city came into significance when Akbar the Great made it as head quarters and built a majestic fort. Akbar had visited the village of Sikri to consult the Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chishti, who predicted the birth of an heir to the Mughal throne. Akbar attacks at this city many times but when he attacks at seventh time Rajput left the city Sikrigrah and because of these sikrigrah was named fatehpur sikri.  It was built between 1569 and 1585. It is bounded on three sides by a wall of 6 km, fortified by towers and pierced by 9 gates, in which a number of impressive edifices of secular and religious nature, which exhibit a fusion of prolific and versatile Indo-Islamic styles, exist. It was intended to be the joint capital with Agra, but was soon deserted because the water system could not support any residents. That’s why the capital was later shifted to the city of Agra within 20 years. 

Tourist Attraction :

Diwan-I-Khas :

Diwan-i-khas,_Fatehpur_Sikri,_India At a distance of 1 km from Fatehpur Sikri Railway Station, Diwan-i-Khas or Hall of Private Audience is located inside the complex of Fatehpur Sikri Fort, is one of the most interestingly orate buildings in Fatehpur Sikri. This is where Emperor Akbar had discussions with people about the faiths belonging to different religions. The Diwan-I-Khas in Fatehpur Sikri offers an excellent glimpse of the life in the Mughal court in Fatehpur Sikri. It is designed according to the Persian style of architecture and is decorated with fine sculpture and precious stones. There are 4 kiosks, which are located in the middle of the court. The hall was meant for special people and religious leaders who wanted or were summoned for a private audience with the Emperor. This building is composed of three halls of equal size. 

Buland Darwaza : 

Buland_Darwaza_gate_2010 This is also known as the “Gate of Magnificence” and was built by Akbar in 1602 AD to commemorate the victory over Gujarat,  And the total height of the structure is 54 meters from the ground. Showcasing a perfect amalgam of Persian and Mughal architectures, this grand doorway serves as the main entry to the imperial complex, Fatehpur Sikri. The 15-storied high gateway is located at the southern entrance of the city. The doorway is richly carved with rhymes from the Holy Quran cut in bold Arabic letters. Buland Darwaza is an astounding example of the Mughal architecture. It is made of red and buff sandstone, decorated by white and black marble. The Buland Darwaza is also indication of the religious tolerance of Akbar the Great, evident from the inscription upon it attributed to Jesus Christ – “The World is but a bridge, pass over but build no houses on it.”

Jama Masjid :

Jama_Masjid_(Fatehpur_Sikri) It is a Jama Mosque meaning the congregational mosque and was perhaps one of the first buildings to be constructed in the complex was built by Akbar under the directions of Salim Chishti. It was built in the manner of Indian mosques, with iwans around a central courtyard. Inlaid geometric designs, colored tiles and calligraphic inscriptions adorn the walls of the Jama Masjid. The massive central courtyard in the mosque has served as a haven for prayer and meditation for the devoted over the centuries. The structure of the Jama Masjid is in a rectangular form and is placed on an elevated platform. The inside of the mosque is decorated with stone carved Mirhabs or altars and is one of the prized collection of Mughal Architecture and marks the transition of the Islamic architecture which was combined with the Hindu style architecture. In its south is the Buland Darwaza and on the east side is the Badshahi Darwaza. Buland Darwaza is the main and largest entrance of the two. Badshahi Darwaza is the royal gateway, which is towards east. 

Jodha Bai’s Palace :

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The place was the living quarter of the Mughal Queen Jodhabai. The first of the palace buildings is the largest, the Palace of Jodh Bai, and the one-time home of Akbar’s Hindu wife, said to be his favorite. Jodha Bai Ka Rauza is an excellent example of the fusion of Hindu and Muslim architectures. The architecture is a rich amalgamation of the Hindu Rajputana styles with the Islamic Mughal style due to Jodhabai belonging to the Hindu Rajput clans of Amer. Several Hindu motifs like hams (swan), parrot, elephants, lotus, srivatsa mark, ghant mala etc. are decorated in the interior. 

Tomb of Salim Chisti : 

Salim_Chishti's_Tomb_06 The Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti is famed as one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture in India, is essentially the most important buildings in the palace complex and was built between 1580 and 1581. The mausoleum, constructed by Akbar as a mark of his respect for the Sufi saint, who foretold the birth of Akbar’s son, who was named Prince Salim after the Sufi Saint and later succeeded Akbar to the throne of the Mughal Empire, as Jahangir. The building is made of carved white marble and is one of the finest examples of the artistic stone carving mastery in medieval India. Showcasing excellence in craftsmanship are the jali screens that are intricately carved out of marble. You will be amazed to see the spectacular serpentine brackets that are made to support the broad chajja on four sides. During the time the city was inhabited, it served as one of the major centers of the Sufi movement in India.

Panch Mahal :

Panch_Mahal,_Fatehpur_Sikri Panch Mahal was a pleasure palace and is a wonderful structure consisting of five storey of decreasing size and has 176 carved columns. There is a pavilion in the Panch Mahal which gives a majestic view of the Fort. The pillars were separated with stone carved meshes or Jaalis in older times and were probably meant for the women of the Zanana enclosure that is located nearby. The palace was also specially constructed to cater to the emperor’s queens and princess. The palace lies close to Anup Talao which was a beautiful and one-of-its-kind water tank built by King Akbar. The tank was used for storing water and distribution purposes. The palace was built as a summer retreat and an entertainment center, there is also a pool made in front of the Panch Mahal which is known as the Anoop Talao, which was filled with water and acted as a venue for musical performances during Akbar’s time. The main purpose of this building is known to be entertainment and was often used for various theatrical, musical and dance performances.

How to Reach :

By Air : Nearest airport is Kheria Airport (40 km) Agra and is well connected to all major city of India.

By Rail : Nearest Railway station is Agra Cantt (40 km) and regular trains are available from all major city.

By Road : Fatehpur Sikri is well connected by road from all major city of India. 

Image Copyright by commons.wikimedia.org

Rishikesh

1280px-Rishikesh_view_from_Lakshman_Jhula

Rishikesh is a city, municipal council and a tehsil in Dehradun district of the Indian state, Uttarakhand. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known as the ‘Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas. Rishikesh has been a magnet for spiritual seekers. Today it styles itself as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’, with masses of ashrams and all kinds of yoga and meditation classes. It is approximately 25 km north of the city Haridwar and 43 km southeast of the state capital Dehradun. The sacred river Ganga is truly astonishing and breathtaking which enhances the elegance of the area. The town is a famous tourist spot and also a major pilgrimage spot for the Hindus.

Rishikesh has been a part of the legendary ‘Kedarkhand’. Legends state that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the asura king of Lanka; and Lakshmana, his younger brother, crossed the river Ganges, at a point, where the present ‘Lakshman Jhula’  bridge stands today, using a jute rope bridge.  The glorious attraction of Rishikesh is none other than the great river Ganges herself, running rapidly throughout the city. In the ancient time and still so many yogis, rishis, sages and sannyasis attracted to Rishikesh to practice yoga in this peaceful location. Since then, Rishikesh has known as an abode of sages. Rishikesh is a holy town with so many Ashrams and it is famous for the yoga world wide. Rishikesh is now world famous as a Yoga Capital of the world. Every year during the March month one week long International yoga festival is hosted by Rishikesh.

For all tourists heading to northern India, River Rafting in Rishikesh or White Water Rafting in Rishikesh is a major attraction. Since, rafting is a sport which can be enjoyed by the whole family, tourists arrive in Rishikesh in huge number. It doesn’t matter whether you are a newbie in the field or a skilled rafter, Rishikesh offers rafting opportunities for all. With the assistance of professional rafters and trainers, Rafting in Rishikesh can be a lot of fun. While rafting along the Ganges River, you can also feast your eyes upon the scenic sights that welcome you on the either side of the river.

Rishikesh Attraction :

Triveni Ghat :

Gita_Mandir_on_Triveni_Ghat_near_Somnath_Temple_Gujrat Triveni Ghat is biggest bathing ghat in Rishikesh. Situated near the main market this ghat has mesmerizing view of mountain and river. It is the place where tourists can witness Hindu pilgrims in hordes. Pilgrims from all across the country arrive here to observe a holy dip in the Ganges. The scene however becomes surreal as hundreds of pilgrims flock to the ghat in the evening to attend the Ganga Aarti, an important ritual to worship the Ganga. Hundreds of diyas afloat the River Ganges add much to the sight. a ceremony accompanied by lights, drums and chanting, with the entire ghat lit with lamps glowing from a distance. This is beautiful place to sit right on the bank of the river and view the mountain and river with the company of cool river breeze

Ashrams in Rishikesh :

1280px-Gardens_at_Parmarth_Niketan,_Muni_Ki_Reti,_Rishikesh In rishikesh there are many ashram with different facilities. The prime tourist attractions in Rishikesh are the ashrams. world renowned centres for spiritual studies and lessons on meditation. Some of the most popular and much visited ashrams in Rishikesh include Paremarth Niketan, Sivanand Ashram, Yoga Niketan, Omkaranand Ashram, Vanprastha Ashram, Shankaracharya Nagar Transcendental Meditation Centre, Vithal Ashram and Yoga Study Centre.

Paremarth Niketan is one of the top Yoga center in India, And the biggest ashram in the area. Sivananda Ashram is also known as Divine Life Society. There are several activities performed by the Ashram such as Yoga Meditation and hospital. Sivananda Ashram is one of the most popular ashrams in Rishikesh. Omkaranand Ashram Lyengar yoga is the soeciality of this ashram. It has its own ghat where daily aarti is performed. Vanprastha Ashram Baba kali kamli wale is the founder of Vanprastha Ashram, and it is located at swarg ashram.

Lakshman Jhula & Ram Jhula :

Ramjhula_-_bridge_over_the_Ganga Big iron suspension bridge on the river Ganges which is 4.5 kms far from Rishikesh. It is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Rishikesh. Built back in the year 1929, the Lakshman Jhula is actually a suspended bridge. As per the Hindu traditions, it is believed that Lakshmana crossed the river here with the help of a jute rope, thus making this another important pilgrim attraction. Lakshman temple and Tera Manzil Temple is also situated here. From the bridge you can have spectacular view of river and the city.

Another similar suspension bridge Ram Jhula was built in 1986 at nearby Sivananda Nagar. The bridge serves as the connection between the Shivanand Ashram and Swarg Ashram. ananda Ashram, Yog Niketan Ashram and Omkarnanda Ashram is located at one end of the brindge and the other end has Swarg Ashram, Gita Bhawan and Parmarth Niketan Ashram. Ram Jhula is pedestrian bridge but it is also used for bikes

Shivpuri :

Chhatri_shivpuri 19 km from Rishikesh, lies this town of Shivpuri which is pure heaven. Shivpuri is situated on the banks of the river Ganges and is famous for its Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This town offers a wide variety of adventure options and is one of the best places to visit in Rishikesh.  However, it is also renowned for its Various Beach camps that are near the banks of the river Ganges, The main attraction of Shivpuri are the camps by the river bank. most of the beach camps located here offers the visitors a trilling adventure sport called white water rafting for about 16 kilometres in the river. The place is not only trilling but often provides a soothing and picturesque view of the Ganges valley, with its lush green and serene environment.

The Beatles Ashram :

Ramjhula_-_bridge_over_the_Ganga In February 1968 the Beatles travelled to the Indian town of rishikesh to attend a session of transcendental Meditation at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It was this visit that changed the world’s outlook of Indian spirituality. The calmness and tranquility of this place will leave you spell-bound and explain why this ashram is one of the best tourist places in Rishikesh. The most important event that took place during the Beatles’ visit to this facility was their rehabilitation from LSD abuse, which in turn inspired them to write a huge number of songs. In 2009, McCartney commented that Transcendental Meditation was a gift the Beatles had received from the Maharishi at a time when they were looking for something to stabilise them.  A quiet session of meditation here will make you fall in love with its spiritual beauty. Though it lacks maintenance and information, this quiet getaway is worth visiting.

Neelkanth Mahadev Temple :

NeelKanth_Mahadev_Temple To be found at a distance of 12 km from Rishikesh, Situated at 1670 m, amidst the sylvan forest above Swarg Ashram the Neelkantha Mahadev Temple is one of the most important shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in the Republic of India. In Hindu mythology, the temple stands at the exact spot where lord Shiva drank the Venom ‘halahala’ that originated after the churning of the ocean by the Devas and Asuras in order to obtain the Amrita or the elixir of life. Lord Shiva’s throat became blue colored due to the poison so he is known as a NeelKanth (Blue throated) here. Thousand of tourist visit this temple during Shivratri and Kanwar Mela. The inside tomb depicting the saga of Samudramanthan is one of the key attractions here. The temple also has a freshwater spring which attracts many devotees for a bath.

Kaudiyala :

kaudiyala Kaudiyala is considered to be one of the most visited view-points in Rishikesh. Located at around 36 kilometres from Rishikesh towards Dev prayag and 380 meters above sea level, Kaudiyala is famous for offering its visitors the adventure sport of white water rafting and is one of the premier locations in the country for this sport. The stretch from Dev prayag and Rishikesh has been on the rafting and adventure tourism map of the country for decades now! There is nothing quite like the ‘pure energy high’ one gets from riding foaming white water rapids. The rafting stretch between Kaudiyala and Rishikesh, offers some of the fast action white water rapids. With opportunities for plenty of bodysurfing and bird watching, the rafting stretch offers an opportunity to enjoy the natural surroundings. Starting from Daniel’s Dip at Kaudiyala to begin with and then the biggest rapid on the Ganga.

Bharat Mandir :

tera-manzil-temple Bharat Mandir, situated at the bank of River Ganga, is one of the oldest temples of Rishikesh. Located in the centre of the old town, this temple is just half a kilometre away from Triveni Ghat. The ancient records of ‘Kedarkhand’, this temple was built by Adi Guru Shankaracharya. This temple is said to be devastated in 1398 AD by Tamur Lane. The Bharat Mandir is one of the major reasons behind the success of Rishikesh as a holy town in India. The temple is famous among visitors as it comprises an idol of Lord Vishnu, which is placed in the inner sanctum of this temple. This idol was carved out of Saligram, a single black stone and has Himalayan cast of features. Several tourists throng this temple at the time of the famous spring festival, know as Basant Panchami. The temple is also famous for old statues, pots, coins and various artefacts that are housed inside.

Rishikesh is also known as one of the best spots for rafting and bungee jumping with professional bungee jumping courses from New Zealand. Rishikesh is also a great place if you want to enjoy camping near the shores. Trekking, rock climbing, rappelling, cliff jumping are the other adventure sports that are offered in Rishikesh.

Best time to visit :

The only season Rishikesh should be avoided is during the monsoons. The place is full with a lot of scenic beauty during the rainy season but landslides and flooding of the river is common and visitors should be extremely careful during this season. The best season to visit Rishikesh is late September till February. Unlike other hill stations which are visited by tourists during the summers, Rishikesh is best visited during the winters when the climate is the most pleasant and the scenery can be enjoyed without the scorching sun or the fear of heavy rainfall.

How to Reach : 

By Air : Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest airport to the Rishikesh situated at a distance of 21 kms. Jolly Grant Airport is well connected to the Delhi with daily flights.

By Train : The nearest railway station to Rishikesh is Haridwar, which is approximately 25 kilometres away. Haridwar is connected to major cities and can be reached easily from Rishikesh too. There are buses, cabs and private taxis available outside the station that can be used to reach Rishikesh from Haridwar.

By Road : Rishikesh is well connected to all the major roads and national highways and can be easily reached from all the parts of the country.

Image copyright by commons.wikimiidea.com, en.wikipedia.org, allseasonsz.com

Udaipur

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Often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’, the lake city of Udaipur is known as the centre for performing arts and crafts. The famous Lake Palace, located bang in the middle of Lake Pichola is easily one of the most beautiful sights of Udaipur. Udaipur is also home to Jaisamand Lake, the largest artificial lake in Asia. The beautiful City Palace and Sajjan Garh (Monsoon Palace) add to the architectural beauty and grandeur of the city. The city is also known for its profusion of zinc and copper mines. The solar observatory in Udaipur is known as one of the best in Asia and has been modelled after the Solar Observatory at Big Bear Lake in Southern California. Udaipur is also renowned for is miniature paintings. The Shilpgram festival, held sometime around the New Year manages to pull in great crowds of people interested in arts and crafts.

Udaipur was founded in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II as a new capital of the Mewar kingdom. It is located in the fertile, circular Girwa Valley to the southwest of Nagda, which was the first capital of Mewar. Until Udaipur was built, the capital of Mewar was Ahar, a flourishing trade town.

Attractions & Places to Visit and Explore in Udaipur

Udaipur City Palace

WE109225 The City Palace stands tall over Pichola Lake, having served as an abode for the ruling royalty. Construction was begun by Maharana Udai Singh and was continued by successive Maharanas who incorporated several palaces and structures to the complex. Interestingly, each addition preserved the original style of the design. Visitors enter the palace through Bari Pol (the Big Gate) which leads one to Tripolia (the Triple Gate) where it was once a custom to distribute the Maharaja’s weight in gold and silver to his subjects. It now serves as the main ticket office. The palace has numerous balconies, cupolas and towers that overlook Pichola Lake. The structure is just as beautiful inside as it is spectacular from the outside. Each palace is designed in a unique way, and decorations like mirrored tiles, paintings, glass work and ornamental tiles bring to life the opulence of the era. Today, the main section of the palace has been converted into a museum that houses a large collection of artefacts.

Lake Palace

222 (1) Now a hotel, The Lake Palace was originally called Jag Niwas Palace and served as a summer palace. Built between 1743 and 1746 on the island near Jagmandir Palace in Lake Pichola, the palace, which faces east, is a wondrous sight to behold. The walls made of black and white marbles are adorned by semi-precious stones and ornamented niches. Gardens, fountains, pillared terraces and columns line its courtyards.

Jag Mandir

223 Jag Mandir is a palace built on an island on the Lake Pichola. Also called the ‘Lake Garden Palace’, the construction for this began in 1551 and was completed around 1652. The royal family used the palace as its summer resort and for hosting parties. Interestingly, Prince Khurram – later Emperor Shah Jahan – was given shelter here when he rebelled against his father Emperor Jahangir. The palace had such an impact on Emperor Shah Jahan that it went on to become the inspiration for one of the most magnificent Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal.

Monsoon Palace

10 Located just outside Udaipur, this 18th century palace was built by Maharana Sajjan Singh of the Mewar Dynasty and is also named after him. Situated on top of Bansdara Mountain of the Aravalli range at a height of 3100 feet, the Maharana had initially commissioned it as a five-storey astronomical centre. However, his premature death brought the plans to a halt. It was then turned into a monsoon palace and hunting lodge. The elevation of its site means the majestic palace towers over the countryside while offering panoramic vistas to visitors. The palace belonged to the Mewar royal family for a long time and has only recently been handed over to the Forest Department of the Government of Rajasthan. It is now open to the public, who throng to the palace to soak in the beauty of the white marble structure with its high turrets, massive central court and exquisitely carved pillars. Beautifully illuminated at night, the Rajasthani architecture of this magnificent palace inspires awe.

Ahar Museum

225 Ahar Museum is in close proximity to an impressive cluster of cenotaphs of the Maharanas of Mewar. The museum has a small, but rare collection of earthen pottery. You can also browse through sculptures and archaeological finds, a few dating back to 1700 BC. A 10th century metal figure of Buddha is a special attraction here.

Jagdish Temple

226 An example of the Indo-Aryan style of architecture, Jagdish Temple was built in 1651 and continues to be one of the most famous temples in Udaipur. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the structure is an architectural marvel with carved pillars, graceful ceilings and painted walls. This three-storied temple was built by Maharana Jagat Singh.

Deen Dayal Upadhyay Park

227 For an evening out, the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Park is a great destination. This beautiful garden is built around Doodh Talai and provides a spectacular view of Jag Mandir, Lake Palace, Lake Pichola and City Palace. Musical fountains, a ropeway to the Karni Mata Temple and a sunset spot complete the outing.

Fateh Sagar Lake

228 Fateh Sagar Lake is a charming lake surrounded by hills and woods. This artificial lake was constructed by Maharana Jai Singh in 1678 AD and it lies north of Lake Pichola. It was later reconstructed during the reign of Maharana Fateh Singh (1884-1930 AD) after the earthen bund (dam) was washed away in floods. The Maharana built Connaught Dam to commemorate the visit of the Duke of Connaught and the lake was renamed Fateh Sagar Lake. Fateh Sagar Lake is one of the four lakes in Udaipur and it houses three small islands. The largest among them, the beautiful Nehru Island, is popular with tourists; the second island has a public park and a spectacular water-jet fountain; the third island is home to the Udaipur Solar Observatory. All the islands can be visited by motorboats. The calm, blue surface of the lake set against the green mountains make Udaipur India’s ‘second Kashmir’.

Lake Pichola

229 Lake Pichola gets its name from Picholi village that got submerged when Maharana Udai Singh founded the city of Udaipur and enlarged the original lake. This artificial freshwater lake was created in 1362 AD and was intended to meet the drinking and irrigation requirements of the city of Udaipur and its neighbouring towns. Over the centuries, the area inside and around the lake has been carefully developed and has several palaces, temples, family manors, and bathing ghats (raised platforms usually found within a courtyard). This picturesque lake houses the Jag Niwas Island and the Jag Mandir within its waters. The famous City Palace (now a heritage hotel) is spread along the lake’s eastern bank, while the Pichola Palace is in the middle of the lake. From Bansi Ghat one can take boats to all the other parts of the lake, including Arsi Vilas Island which is a bird sanctuary as well as the Sitamata Game Sanctuary.

Saheliyon Ki Bari

230 Built by Rana Sangram Singh as a garden for women, Saheliyo-ki-Bari or the Courtyard of the Maidens is a popular tourist destination. Along with a small museum, it has several attractions such as marble elephants, fountains, kiosks and a lotus pool.

Gulab Bagh and Zoo

231 Gulab Bagh (Sajjan Niwas Garden) is the largest garden in Udaipur. Spread over 100 acres, the garden proudly displays innumerable species of roses, from which it also gets its name.

Sukhadia Circle

Sukhadia Circle lies to the north of Udaipur. It comprises a small pond that also houses a 21 foot tall, three-tiered marble fountain. Decorated with beautifully carved motifs, the fountain looks spectacular at night when it is lit up. The fountain is surrounded by gardens, creating a perfect oasis in a city bustling with tourists.

Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal

233 Dedicated to the study of folk art, culture, songs and festivals of Rajasthan, Gujrat and Madhya Pradesh, Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal is a cultural institution in Udaipur. Besides propagating folk culture, it also houses a museum that exhibits various artefacts of Rajasthani culture.

Bagore Ki Haveli

234 Bagore-ki-Haveli is located by Lake Pichola, at Gangaur Ghat. Amar Chand Badwa, the Prime Minister of Mewar, built it in the 18th century. The massive palace has over a hundred rooms that display costumes and modern art. The glass and mirrors in the interiors are structured in classical haveli style.

Shilpgram

235 Situated 7 kms west of Udaipur near Lake Fateh Sagar is the Centre’s Shilpgram – the Rural Arts and Crafts Complex. Spread over 70 acres, and surrounded by the Aravallis, the Rural Arts and Crafts Complex has been conceived as a living museum to depict the lifestyles of the folk and tribal people of the west zone.

Udaipur Solar Observatory

The Udaipur Solar Observatory is built on an island in the Fateh Sagar Lake. Being surrounded by water reduces air turbulence caused by ground heat and makes the location perfect for an observatory. It is modelled after the Solar Observatory at Big Bear Lake in Southern California.

Udai Sagar Lake

Udai Sagar Lake is one of the five striking lakes situated in Udaipur. Located about 13 kilometres to the east of Udaipur, the construction of this lake was started in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh. The lake is actually a result of a dam being built on the river Berach to supply adequate water to the Maharana’s kingdom. Udai Sagar Lake is 4 kms in length, 2.5 kilometres in width and about 9 meters at its deepest.

Haldighati

337 Haldighati is a famed mountain pass in the hills of the Aravalli Range. The pass, about 40 kilometres from Udaipur, connects the districts of Rajsamand and Pali. The pass gets its name from the yellow-coloured soil of the region (turmeric is called haldi in Hindi). The mountain pass has gone down the annals of history as the site where the Battle of Haldighati was fought in 1576 between Rana Pratap Singh of Mewar and Raja Man Singh of Amber who was the general of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The site of the battle lies at the south-west side of Nathdwara. Maharana Pratap fought a brave war, but his loyal horse, Chetak, gave up his life as the Maharana was leaving the battlefield. In 1997, the Government of India proposed and constructed the Maharana Pratap National Memorial, and it is today dedicated to the spirit and valour of the Rajput King. The memorial, a cenotaph with white marble columns, displays a bronze statue of the Maharana riding Chetak. Besides the battle, Haldighati is known around the world for its charity rose products and mud art of Molela.

Doodh Talai Lake

338 The road that takes visitors to Pichola Lake has another popular destination – the Doodh Talai Lake. The lake is nestled between several small hillocks which themselves are tourist attractions. The Deen Dayal Upadhyay Park and the Manikya Lal Verma Garden are part of the Doodh Talai Lake Garden. The Manikya Lal Verma Garden gives an amazing view of Lake Pichola and Doodh Talai Lake. It is among the more recent attractions and was built in 1995 by the Nagar Parhisad (Municipal Council) of Udaipur. One can reach the top by climbing steps or by driving up. Locals often go up the hillock to the Karni Mata Temple that houses a white stone idol of the goddess. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Park is a small garden on the adjacent hillock, developed by the Urban Improvement Trust (UIT) of Udaipur. Its highlight is Rajasthan’s first musical fountain, a popular attraction among the locals and visitors as well. The garden overlooks Lake Pichola and offers a spectacular view of sunset to visitors. A ropeway connects the tops of these two hillocks and takes tourists to the Karni Mata temple. This 4-minute ride is Rajasthan’s first ropeway and offers a panoramic view of the city.

Jaisamand Lake

343 Jaisamand Lake is renowned for being the second largest artificial lake in Asia. In fact, it used to be the largest artificial lake in Asia until Aswan Dam in Egypt was not constructed. Located at a distance of 48 kilometres from the city of Udaipur, it is also known as Dhebar. In 1685, Maharana Jai Singh built this lake during the construction of a dam on the Gomti River. Jaisamand Lake covers an area of 36 square kilometres, it stretches to a length of 14 kilometres and width of 9 kilometres. The massive dam was constructed on this lake also houses a centrally located Shiva temple. The summer palace of the queen of Udaipur forms a perfect backdrop to the Lake. There are six, intricately carved marble cenotaphs on its embankment. Jaisamand Lake comprises seven islands, of which, one is still inhabited by the tribe of Bhil Minas. Graceful marble steps lead to the water and you can enjoy a lovely boat ride in the mesmerizing waters. Jaisamand Lake is close to the Jaisamand Sanctuary which serves as habitat to various types of birds, panthers, leopards, deer, wild boars and crocodiles. It is definitely worth a visit.

Jugaad

380 Resembling an aggregation of leftover automobile parts, Jugaad is known for its innovativeness. This modified four-seater bike is an example of sheer intelligence by a retired army officer, Tahir Merchant. Amidst the vast expanse of the Thar Desert, Jugaad is surely something you must have a look at.

How to Reach Here

By air: Dabok Airport, also known as Maharana Pratap Airport is the closest at about 25 km northeast of the city centre. There are daily flights from Delhi and Mumbai on Jet Airways, Air India and SpiceJet.

By road: Udaipur is easily accessible by road from every major destination in India, including Chittorgarh, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Ajmer, Sawai Madhopur / Ranthambore, Jaipur, Bikaner, Agra, Delhi, Mumbai and Khajuraho.

By rail: Udaipur is connected by rail to several major cities in India including Chittorgarh, Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur, Agra, Delhi, Mumbai and Khajuraho.

Image & Information copyright by tourism.rajasthan.gov.in

Chittorgarh

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Chittorgarh resonates with stories of Rajputana bravery, pride and passion. The bards of Rajasthan sing tales of courage and sacrifice recounting stories that are known to every child and adult in the city. Chittorgarh is named after its most imposing structure, the Chittorgarh Fort which stands atop a 180 metre high hill and is spread across 700 acres.

Chittorgarh Fort has had a tumultuous past. This bastion of the Rajputs has faced violent attacks thrice in its entire history. The first was in 1303 when the Sultan of Delhi, Ala-ud-din Khilji, who was enamoured by Queen Padmini, launched an attack to abduct her. More than two centuries later, in 1533, it was Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat, who caused immense destruction. Four decades later, in 1568, Mughal Emperor Akbar attacked and seized the fort. It was finally in 1616, under the rule of Mughal Emperor Jahangir that the fort was returned to the Rajputs.

Attractions & Places to Visit and Explore in Chittorgarh

Chittorgarh Fort

71 Chittorgarh Fort is a fitting symbol of the Rajput spirit. Set atop a 180 metre high hill and spread across 240 hectares, this majestic fort features in tales of courage, pride and romance that the bards of Rajasthan have been singing for centuries. Legend has it that the construction of the Chittorgarh Fort was begun by Bhim, one of the heroic Pandava brothers from Mahabharata, India’s eminent mythological epic. The fort houses several magnificent monuments, some unfortunately ravaged by the passage of time. The imposing structure takes one back to the days of conquests and tragedies, and its walls continue to ring with incredible tales of extraordinary men and women. A one-kilometre road weaves its way from the foothills to the summit, taking visitors through seven gates before arriving at Rampol (Gate of Ram). On the road between the second and the third gate, visitors get to see two ‘chattris’ (cenotaphs) built in honour of Jaimal and Kalla, heroes, who laid down their lives in the 1568 siege by Emperor Akbar. The main gate of the fort is Surajpol (Sun Gate).

Rani Padmini’s Palace

16 This palace plays an important role in Rajput history. The structure is built on the banks of a lotus pool and has a pavilion that provides privacy for the women of the royal family. Ala-ud-din Khilji, then Sultan of Delhi, spotted Queen Padmini’s reflection in the pool and was so besotted by her beauty that he led his forces in battle to abduct her.

Vijay Stambh

73 Vijay Stambh (the Tower of Victory) was built by Maharana Kumbha between 1440 AD and 1448 AD to immortalise his triumph of defeating the Muslim rulers of Malwa and Gujarat. Built partly from red sandstone and partly white marble, this architectural wonder is nine-storey tower decorated with detailed sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses. Narrow steps lead to the terrace where one can catch a spectacular view of the entire town from the balconies.

Kirti Stambh

74 This Tower of Fame is dedicated to Adinathji, the 1st Jain Tirthankara (great teacher). Adorned by the figures of the Digambars (Jain monks), this seven-storied tower was built by a wealthy Jain merchant in 12th century AD.

Fateh Prakash Palace

75 Constructed by Maharana Fateh Singh, this palace functioned as his residence. It was built in the Rajput style of architecture as a declaration of his taste for art and culture. The palace has a vast collection of wood crafts of Bassi village, post medieval statues of Jain Ambica and Indra from Rashmi village, weapons such as axes, knives and ancient shields, clay replicas of regional tribal people clad in their traditional costumes, paintings, and crystal ware. It has now been converted into a museum.

Jain Temples

76 The fort of Chittor has six Jain temples contained within its walls. The largest among them is the temple of Bhagawan Adinatha which has 52 ‘devkulikas’.

Kalika Mata Temple

77 Built in 8th century AD, this ancient structure was initially constructed to worship the sun god. In the 14th century, the temple was dedicated to Goddess Kali, the symbol of power and valour.

Tulja Bhavani Temple

Tulja Bhavani temple, an architectural wonder, is a Hindu temple of the goddess Durga, built in the 16th century by Banvir. Legend says that it is named after Banvir who donated various ornaments (Tula Dan) equaling his weight for relief funds.

Gaumukh Reservoir

79 Gaumukh Reservoir is a deep tank that is fed by a spring. The spring emerges from a rock formation resembling a Gaumukh or ‘cow’s mouth’. The tank is considered sacred by the locals.

Ratan Singh Palace

80 The winter palace of the royal family, it overlooks a small lake. Although fairly rundown now, it is an interesting place to explore and attracts many tourists.

Rana Kumbha Palace

81 A ruined edifice of great historical and architectural interest, this is one of the most massive monuments in the Fort of Chittor. The palace is believed to have underground cellars where Rani Padmini and other women committed ‘Jauhar’ (self-immolation).

Kumbha Shyam Temple

82 The temple was constructed during the rule of Rana Kumbha and is built in the Indo-Aryan style popular in those times. It bears a strong connection to the mystic poetess Meerabai, a zealous devotee of Krishna’s. She was the wife of Prince Bhojraj.

Meerabai Temple

83 Meerabai, an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna’s, worshiped him at this temple. The structure is designed in the classic North Indian style of temples. It rises from a raised plinth and its conical roof can be seen from far. The temple houses a beautiful shrine surrounded by an open porch with four small pavilions in four corners.

How to Reach Here

By air: The nearest airport is Dabok Airport in Udaipur city which is about 105 kms away.

By road: Regular buses are available to Chittorgarh from all major cities in Rajasthan.

By rail: Chittorgarh is connected by rail to and from Udaipur, Ajmer, Jaipur and Delhi.

Image & Information copyright by tourism.rajasthan.gov.in

Jaisalmer

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If geology interests you, then Jaisalmer is where you need to journey. The Wood Fossil Park or Aakal is located about 15 kilometres away from the city. Here, one can discover and trace geologic tragedies that occurred in the Thar Desert 180 million years ago. The city of Jaisalmer also acts as the guard to western Rajasthan (and India’s) frontier. This ‘Golden City’ is located close to the Pakistan border and in close proximity to the Thar Desert. The city’s most prominent landmark is the Jaisalmer Fort, also called Sonar Qila (Golden Fort). Unlike most other forts in India, Jaisalmer Fort is not just a tourist attraction. It houses shops, hotels and ancient havelis (homes) where generations continue to live.

Jaisalmer traces its inception to the 12th century. History tells us of Rawal Jaisal, the eldest heir of the Rawal of Deoraj, was passed over for the throne of Lodurva and a younger half-brother was crowned king. Rawal Jaisal went looking for a new location to set up his capital when he came across sage Eesul. The sage told him about Krishna’s prophecy which said that a descendant of his Yaduvanshi clan would found a new kingdom at this same spot. It was in 1156 that Rawal Jaisal constructed a mud fort, named it Jaisalmer after himself and declared it his capital.

Attractions & Places to Visit and Explore in Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer Fort

132 The Jaisalmer Fort also goes by the name Sonar Quila (Golden Fort) as it rises from the desert itself and seems to become one with the golden hues of the sand. The setting sun adds its own magic and shrouds the fort with mystique. The fort is constructed in the classic style of the royals by local craftsmen. This fort is a world heritage site and forms an important plot point in one of Satyajit Ray’s famous Feluda stories and corresponding movie, Sonar Kela (The Golden Fortress).

Jaisalmer Government Museum

133 Established by the Department of Archaeology and Museums, it is a prime attraction for tourists visiting Jaisalmer. The most striking display is the trophy of Rajasthan‘s state bird Godawan (the great Indian bustard). Traditional household items, rock-cut crockery, jewellery and statues from the 7th and 9th century AD displayed here are remnants of the city’s rich cultural heritage.

Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli

137 Two architect brothers built Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli in the 19th century. They worked on the haveli from two sides and the outcome is a beautiful blend of the symmetrical construction. Miniature style paintings and mighty tuskers carved out of yellow sandstone are used for decoration.

Salim Singh Ki Haveli

138 This haveli was built in the first half of the 18th century and a part of it is still occupied by descendants of the original residents. The high arched roof is supported by carved brackets designed in the shape of peacocks. Legend has it that there were two additional wooden stories that made it match the Maharaja’s palace in height, but he ordered for the upper level to be demolished.

Patwon Ki Haveli

139 Among the largest and the most elaborately carved havelis in Jaisalmer, this five-storey structure sits proudly in a narrow street. While the haveli has lost some of its early glory, a few paintings and mirror work art can still be seen on the inside walls.

Mandir Palace

140 The five-storeyed majesty of the Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace) is further enhanced by its pagoda-like Tazia Tower. Each floor of the palace has an intricately carved balcony. The Badal Palace owes its beauty to the skills of Muslim craftsmen who moulded the tower in the shape of a Tazia (a float that’s part of the procession of Muharram).

Jain Temples of Jaisalmer

142 The Jain Temples located inside the Jaisalmer Fort date back to the 12th and 15th centuries. The temples are dedicated to Rikhabdevji and Shambhavdevji, famous Jain hermits known as ‘Tirthankars’ (wise teachers who taught people how to attain nirvana). Like all other structures in Jaisalmer, the temples are carved out of yellow sandstone. They have been built in the famed Dilwara style which is known for its beautiful architecture.

Gadisar Lake

353 Gadisar Lake was constructed in the 14th century by Maharawal Gadsi Singh to meet the water needs of his arid lands. Considering its importance, many small temples and shrines were constructed around it, transforming it into a pilgrimage centre and a tourist attraction.

Bada Bagh

354 About 6 kilometres to the north of Jaisalmer lies Bada Bagh, also called Barabagh (literally Big Garden). This garden complex houses chhatris or royal cenotaphs of the Maharajas of Jaisalmer state, including that of Jai Singh II. The location of the garden is such that it offers wonderful sunset vistas to tourists.

Desert National Park

355 The Desert National Park displays the best of the Thar desert’s ecosystem and its varied wildlife. The Park is formed of undulating sand dunes, jagged rocks, dense salt lake bottoms and inter-medial areas. Various species of animals such as black buck, chinkara and desert fox inhabit the Park. The highly endangered Great Indian Bustard, one of the world’s heaviest flying birds, can also be seen here. In winter, the park hosts an incredible variety of migratory raptors such Himalayan and Eurasian Griffon Vultures, Eastern Imperial Eagle, and the Saker Falcon.

Kuldhara

356 84 medieval villages were abandoned by the Paliwal Brahmins overnight. The two most prominent of them are Kuldhara and Khabha, located about 18 and 30 kilometres respectively from the southwest of Jaisalmer. The ruins of Kuldhara and Khabha are fine examples of architectural excellence of that era and are a treat for shutterbugs. Several stories abound, but nobody is really sure why the mass exodus took place. Villagers believe the place is cursed and hesitate to venture inside.

Tanot Mata Temple

Some 120 kilometres away from Jaisalmer is the Tanot Mata Temple. Tanot Mata is considered to be a reincarnation of Goddess Hinglaj. There are many stories of how during the 1965 India-Pakistan war, Tanot was under heavy attack and shelling. However, none of the shells or bombs fired at the temple exploded. This reaffirmed people’s faith that Goddess the temple. Post the war, the Border Security Force (BSF) rebuilt the temple and today, the temple is managed by a BSF Trust.

Ramdevra Temple

Located 12 kilometres from Pokhran on the Jodhpur – Jaisalmer route lies Ramdevra Temple. While most people assume it is a temple dedicated Lord Ram, it is in fact, dedicated to renowned saint Baba Ramdevji. The temple marks the eternal resting place of Baba Ramdevji and is visited by people of all faiths. Between August and September, a large fair known as Ramdevra Fair is held here, and it attracts large numbers of devotees who sing devotional songs all night long.

How to Reach Here

By air: The closest airport is Jodhpur airport which is 284 kms away.

By road: Jaisalmer is connected to Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaipur by bus and taxi.

By rail: There is a direct train service between Jaisalmer and Delhi, with a few trains connecting the two cities.

Image & Information copyright by tourism.rajasthan.gov.in

Bikaner

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Bikaner is home to one of the only two models of the biplane used by the British during World War I. They were presented by the British to Maharaja Ganga Singh, then ruler of the city. Another unique aspect about Bikaner are the sand dunes that are scattered throughout the district, especially from the north-east down to the southern area. Bikaner is situated in the northern region of Rajasthan. One of the earlier established cities, Bikaner still displays its ancient opulence through palaces and forts, built of red sandstone, that have withstood the passage of time. The city boasts of some of the world’s best riding camels and is aptly nicknamed ‘camel country’. It is also home to one of the world’s largest camel research and breeding farms; as well as being known for having its own unique temple dedicated to Karni Mata at Deshnok, called the Rats Temple.

The origins of Bikaner can be traced back to 1488 when a Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji, founded the kingdom. Legend has it that Bikaji, one of Rao Jodhaji’s five sons, left his father’s Durbar in annoyance after an insensitive remark from his father, the illustrious founder of Jodhpur. Bikaji travelled far and when he came upon the wilderness called Jangladesh, he decided to set up his own kingdom and transformed it into an impressive city.

Attractions & Places to Visit and Explore in Bikaner

Junagarh Fort

35 Junagarh is an impregnable bastion that holds the distinction of having never been captured. It was constructed in 1588 AD by Raja Rai Singh, one of Emperor Akbar’s most distinguished generals. The fort complex houses some magnificent palaces constructed in red sandstone and marble and visitors can feast their eyes on an attractive assortment of courtyards, balconies, kiosks and windows.

National Research Centre on Camel

36 The National Research Centre on Camel is 8 kilometres from the city. This camel research and breeding centre is the only one of its kind in Asia. The centre is spread out over 2000 acres of semi-arid land and is managed by the Government of India.

Lalgarh Palace and Museum

37 Maharaja Ganga Singh commissioned the construction of this majestic palace. This architectural marvel is made entirely of red sandstone and was built in 1902 to commemorate his father, Maharaja Lal Singh. The design was conceptualised by Sir Swinton Jacob, who created this oriental fantasy by blending Rajputana, Islamic and European architecture.

Rampuria Haveli

38 Bikaner has several havelis (aristocratic homes), the most famous cluster being the Rampuria Group of Havelis. Built of dulmera (red) stone, every aspect of the havelis – jharokhas (casements), entrances, latticed windows, divankhanas, gumaharias or basements – is simply exotic. Leaves and flowers decorate every jharokha, lending it a pleasant touch. These massive havelis are decorated with golden work of the highest quality. Their dankhanas (drawing room) take one back to the Mughal and Rajput era. One can notice an abundance of Victorian influence in their design as well. The wood carvings in Rampuria Havelies are extremely exquisite. Spaced close to each other, the havelis are truly a sight to behold.

Ganga Government Museum

39 Described as the best museum in the State, the museum contains a rich display of archaeological artefacts from Harappa and the early Gupta periods. There are separate sections for paintings, arts and craft, woven carpets, clay pottery, ancient coins and Rajput weaponry.

Laxmi Niwas Palace

40 Laxmi Niwas Palace was the residence of the king of Bikaner, Maharaja Ganga Singh. Built between 1898 and 1902 by British architect Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob, this structure displays an Indo-Saracenic architectural style. It is now a luxury hotel.

Prachina Museum

41 Located in the great Junagarh Fort, this museum hosts royal costumes, textiles and accessories of Rajasthani royalty. The ‘Poshaks’ (garments worn by ladies) are a reminder of the now lost craft of traditional designs, styles and workmanship. The family portraits on display narrate a story about how changing cultural settings influenced the style of immortalising the former rulers.

Deshnok Karni Mata Temple

43 The Karni Mata Temple at Deshnok is a beautiful structure made of stone and marble, inside which resides an image of Karni Mata. The image is decorated with a ‘mukut’ (tiara) and garlands. The images of her sisters and the sisters of Avad Mata give her company on either side. The temple is known the world over for the presence of kabas (rats) that roam freely within the temple precincts.

Jain Temple Bhandasar

44 Jain Temple Bhandasar is a 15th century temple dedicated to the 5th Tirthankar (a person that has conquered the cycle of life, death and rebirth and paved the path for others to attain nirvana), Sumatinathji, and is one of the oldest monuments of Bikaner. The temple design includes intricate mirror work, murals and gold leaf paintings. Devotees throng to the temple from all corners of the country.

Kodamdesar Temple

45 24 kilometres from Bikaner is the Kodamdesar Temple. Kodamdesar Bhainru Ji was installed by Rao Bikaji sometime during the first three years of his arrival from Jodhpur. This place of worship was initially chosen as the site to lay the foundation of Bikaner, but was later shifted to its present location.

Shri Laxminath Temple

46 The rulers of Bikaner regarded Lord Laxminathji (Lord Vishnu) as the real king of Bikaner and themselves as his Deewans or Ministers. This temple, made of marble and red stone, was constructed to enshrine Lord Laxminath whose throne rests here.

Shiv Bari Temple

47 Located just 6 kilometres from Bikaner, this Shiva temple is fortified by a high wall. It was commissioned and built by Maharaja Doongar Singh in the 19th century to commemorate his father Maharaja Lal Singh. The highlights of this red stone temple are beautiful wall paintings, the four-faced black marble Shiva statue and a bronze Nandi statue facing the Shiva-Lingam. The temple also houses two large reservoirs of water known as bawaris.

Gajner Palace and Lake

48 Gajner is an incomparable jewel of the Thar. The Gajner Palace was founded by Maharaja Gaj Singh ji of Bikaner in the year 1784, and then completed by the great Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner on the banks of the lake. It was meant to serve as a hunting and relaxing lodge for the royal family as well as for visiting guests. It has now been converted into a hotel.

Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary

49 Barely 32 kilometres from Bikaner, on the Jaisalmer road, is a lush green forest which is a haven to the nilgai, chinkara, black buck, wild boar, flocks of imperial sand grouse and many other species of migratory birds that make the sprawling forest their winter home.

Devi Kund

50 8 kilometres from Bikaner is the royal crematorium. It has several exquisite chhatris (cenotaphs), each dedicated to the memory of a ruler of the Bikaji dynasty and situated on the exact spot where each of them was cremated. The chhatri of Maharaj Surat Singh is a fine example of the architecture of that era. Devi Kund also has cenotaphs of 22 female members of the royal family prior to Maharaja Gaj Sigh Ji, who committed sati. There is also one cenotaph of a Sata (male sati) of a ruler. Maharaja Surat Singh’s Chhatri is built entirely in white marble with spectacular Rajput paintings on its ceiling.

Rajasthan State Archives

51 Visitors to the archives are mostly researchers and academicians who come here to study the ancient administrative records that are preserved here. Some of the records date back to the Mughal period and include, among others, Persian Farmans, Nishans, Manshurs, etc. Records created during the administration of the various princely states of Rajasthan can also be found here. This exceptional collection is of immense value.

Kolayat

52 Kolayat is an important pilgrimage place for Hindus. Locals as well as devotees from distant places visit this temple complex every year. History tells the story of Kapil Muni, the advocate of Shankya yoga, who was so mesmerised by the serenity of this place that he interrupted his journey to the northwest and stopped here to carry out a ‘tapasya’ (penance) for the redemption of the world. The main attractions of the town are its several temples, ghats, the sacred lake and the town market. Kolayat is about 50 kilometres from Bikaner.

Katariasar Village

53 45 kilometers from Bikaner on the Jaipur Road is a village rich in ethnic, rural and cultural life. In Katariasar, one can walk on sand dunes and view the sunset against the desert landscape. The main attraction of this village is its inhabitants, the Jasnathjis, who are fire dancers. Herds of chinkaras, desert foxes, rabbits, peacocks, parrots and partridges can be spotted here.

How to Reach Here

By air: The nearest airport is Civil Airport at Jodhpur which is 253 kilometres away.

By road: The bus stand is north of the city centre. There are frequent express buses to Agra, Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Barmer, Delhi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jhunjhunu, Jodhpur, Kota and Udaipur.

By rail: Bikaner has railway connections to several destinations in India including Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Churu, Jodhpur, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati etc.

Image & Information copyright by tourism.rajasthan.gov.in and Vinay Joshi

Jhalawar

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Jhalawar, once called Brijnagar is known for its rich natural wealth of vibrant flora and fauna. However, unlike other cities of Rajasthan, Jhalawar has a rocky but water-laden verdant landscape. Red poppy fields and orange laden orchards are strewn across Jhalawar, lending it a colourful look. They also contribute a major share to the production of citrus in the country. This place has a varied cultural heritage that includes many forts and palaces from the Rajput and Mughal periods. It is solely famous for the large numbers of temples and religious sites.

Jhalawar was named after its founder, Jhala Zalim Singh in 1838. He was the Dewan of Kota State and established the town as a cantonment, then known as Chaoni Umedpura near the existing Jhalrapatan Fort. At that time, the township was surrounded by dense forests which were home to many exotic species. The Dewan often came here to hunt and grew so fond of the place that he decided to turn it into a township. It was later turned into a military cantonment when the Maratha invaders passed through the city to capture Hadoti states.

Attractions & Places to Visit and Explore in Jhalawar

Jhalawar Fort

147 Situated in the centre of the town, the Jhalawar fort or Garh Palace is a beautiful monument. It was built by Maharaj Rana Madan Singh and his successors added beautiful paintings inside the rooms. These can be seen with the permission of appropriate authorities. The Zenana Khas or the ‘Women’s Palace’ has some excellent frescoes on both, walls and mirrors and they are prime examples of the Hadoti school of art.

Jhalawar Government Museum

The Jhalawar Government Museum is one of the oldest museums in Rajasthan established in 1915 A.D and has a fine collection of rare paintings, manuscripts and idols. The museum is situated bang in the middle of the city and is also a part of the Fort Palace. This ancient structure is a great tourist attraction.

Bhawani Natyashala

149 The Bhawani Natyashala is one of the most unusual theatres in India, constructed in 1921 A.D where Parsi plays and cultural events would take place. This architectural wonder gives one an excellent insight into the world of theatre and art and is known to have an underground passage which allowed horses and chariots to appear on stage.

Gagron Fort

150 Gagron Fort is a fine example of a hill and water fort. It is one of the six hill forts of Rajasthan to be a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Surrounded by the tranquil waters of the Ahu, Kali and Sindh rivers on three sides, the fort is indeed a sight to behold. A beautiful mausoleum of Sufi saint Mitheshah just outside the fort is the venue for an annual colourful fair held during the month of Moharram.

Chandrabhaga Temple

151 On the banks of the magnificent Chandrabhaga River stand some beautiful Chandrabhaga temples with intricately carved pillars and arched gateways. This region is known for the Shri Dwarkadheesh Temple that was built by Jhala Zalim Singh in the 11th century and the Shantinath Jain Temple which has houses some beautiful murals and sculptures.

How to Reach Here

By air: The closest airport is Indore 240 kilometres away followed by Jaipur Airport 345kms

By road: Jhalawar lies on Highway No. 12 and is connected by bus to many cities in Rajasthan

By rail: Jhalawar has a newly-constructed railway station that is 2 kilometres from Jhalawar city.

Image & Information copyright by tourism.rajasthan.gov.in

Ajmer

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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

3 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

5 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

DPA-NMJ-144120 - © - DINODIA 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

7 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

18 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

9 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

Nareli_Ajmer 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

Champaner – Pavagadh

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A concentration of largely unexcavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties cradled in an impressive landscape which includes prehistoric (chalcolithic) sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and remains of the 16th-century capital of the state of Gujarat. The site also includes, among other vestiges, fortifications, palaces, religious buildings, residential precincts, agricultural structures and water installations, from the 8th to 14th centuries. The Kalikamata Temple on top of Pavagadh Hill is considered to be an important shrine, attracting large numbers of pilgrims throughout the year. The site is the only complete and unchanged Islamic pre-Mughal city.

The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park with its ancient Hindu architecture, temples and special water retaining installations together with its religious, military and agricultural structures, dating back to the regional Capital City built by Mehmud Begda in the 16th century, represents cultures which have disappeared.

Jama_masjid_in_Champaner The structures represent a perfect blend of Hindu-Moslem architecture, mainly in the Great Mosque (Jami Masjid), which was a model for later mosque architecture in India. This special style comes from the significant period of regional sultanates.

The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is an outstanding example of a very short living Capital, making the best use of its setting, topography and natural features. It is quite vulnerable due to abandonment, forest takeover and modern life.The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is a place of worship and continuous pilgrimage for Hindu believers.

Interesting facts

The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in the Panchmahal district of the Indian state of Gujarat. Centred around the city of Champaner or Muhammadabad built by Sultan Mahmud Begada of Gujarat, it’s a very significant place historically and culturally. This place is the only complete unchanged Islamic pre-Mughal city. Also deemed to be of mythological significance, a larger part of Champaner- Pavagadh is still unexcavated.

Online Booking for Champaner Monuments Asi Monuments : http://asi.payumoney.com/#/Common/Booking/Index

How to get there

By road: Champaner is 45 km from Vadodara, accessible by bus or private vehicles. Cars can be hired in Vadodara to drive to Champaner-Pavagadh, which is the best option if you want to combine the journey with other sites like Jambughoda.

Image copyright by upload.wikimedia.org 

Modhera Sun Temple

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History

As one traverses the length and breadth of Gujarat, one constantly stumbles across architectural legacies of the’ Solanki’ rule. You keep coming across, living spaces and monuments of another time, offering an eclectic glimpse of the artistic and ingenious beauty that makes this exotically state vibrant.

A soothing drive amidst green farmlands just 35 km away from Mehsana on the way to the temples of goddess Bahucharaji reposes the village of Modhera. Set along the backdrop of River Pushpavati, surrounded by a terra-formed garden of flowering trees and songs of birds, rests the famed Sun temple of Modhera.

As you relax and soothe your nerves, become one with nature and open your mind to the poetry in stone, dedicated to the sun god, living glimpses of the era far elapsed emerge out of the intricacies of narrative sculptures . The remains of the Sun Temples at Modhera are relics of times gone by when reverence of the natural elements fire, air, earth, water and sky were at their peak sharing space with myriad manifestations of Vedic gods. The ancient philosophy venerating natural elements and its association with humans was considered the prime force and energy of the life cycle. A walk around the serene temple campus makes you aware of the positively strong aura of energy which the place radiates and through it brings one closer to the environs.

The exclusively carved temple complex and the magnificently sculpted kund are jewels in the art of masonry of the Solanki period apparently which was also known as the Golden Age of Gujarat. Savor your voyage through time to the magnificent eons of the Golden period as you get welcomed personally by the life like icons, narrating stories and legends of Modhera!

Things to do

Modhera is an ideal destination for being away from the hustle-bustle of city life for a day. The unruffled peaceful landscape and the majestically welcoming temple complex will ensure to take you away from the mundane routines of daily life to the glorious times back in the Golden Age.

Sun_Temple_Modhera,_Gujarat As you enter the historical complex, you first come across the magnificent kund known as the Ramakund, built in rectangular shape containing 108 shrines to various gods and demi-gods. Check out the three main shrines positioned on the three sides of the kund, dedicated to Ganesh and Vishnu and an image of Lord Shiva dancing the ‘tandav’ facing the temple of the sun which covers the fourth side. Various shrines showcasing different mudras are arrayed along the staggered configuration of steps leading down to the base of the ‘Kund’.Try following the rhythmic ups and downs of the steps.

Beautiful_Modhera_Sun_Temple Walk up the steps to the ‘Sabha Mandap’ or the assembly and convene with sculpted renderings of twelve ‘Adityas’ (another name for the sun god). The twelve representations carved on the pillars represent the sun according to the twelve months. It is believed that these ‘Adityas’ are the base myth to the temple of sun, the legend imparts Aditya’s to be sons of ‘Aditi’, the goddess of Infinity and the constant within the inter-connectedness of the universe.

Erotic_Art_of_Sun_Temple_at_Modhera,_Gujarat If you love listening to stories, make sure you find the purohit or priest who has been taking care of the temple, and stays close to the vicinity. Request him to narrate or explain the tales and sequences from epics and legends which are carved on the 52 pillars adding grace and poise to the temple section. Even if you do not find him around, do go through the carved murals which serve as a virtual encyclopedia of history of communities, lessons in mortality, descriptions of fairs and festivals and rituals of the golden era. If time permits may be you can examine each panel in turn and witness the intricate details encompassing the panels speaking and sharing about their costumes, jewelry, performing arts, erotica and the intensely enigmatic art of making love, medicinal plants, and the pharmacopoeia etched in stone.

After witnessing and traveling across time with the raconteur figurines, a visit to the Garbagruha will definitely feel as a spiritual experience. The statue of the sun god no longer exists and the Suryavanshi Solanki’s have been scattered into the dust of history since a thousand years but still on the day of the Equinox, one can almost hear the chanting of the prayers, the aroma of incense, the tinkling of bells as the sharp, linear rays of the sun illuminate the inner core of life and light.

Do enjoy sitting under those shady trees and feel the tranquility and bliss of being part of the magnificent temple complex of Modhera!

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Background

Legendary Past

Although the districts of Patan and Mehsana are best remembered for the historical lineage of the Solanki dynasty, the area around Modhera traces its origins to antiquity. Puranic references refer to the place as ‘Modherak’ or ‘Moherak’ meaning mounds of the dead, and the locale has seen layers upon layers of settlements. Jain Manuscripts refer to the land as ‘Bhagvad Gram’. The Brahmapurana and the Skandapurana, alludes the legendary land of ‘Dharmavanyakshetra’ or land of righteousness to the area around Modhera.

Legend narrates that after vanquishing Ravanain battle, Lord Rama and Sita halted here on their way back. After due consultations with sage Vashishtha, Lord Rama decided to conduct a yagna here to cleanse himself of the sin of killing a Brahmin, namely Ravana who was a Shaivite and one of Shiva’s most glorious disciples. This yagna was performed by a local Brahmin belonging to the Modh community thus originated the name Modhera. There is even a temple of Modheshwari, a manifestation of the mother goddess near by.

Foundation of the Temple Complex

Rainbows of light cutting swathes of illumination on grandiose sandstone edifices of Modhera, marks the pinnacle of Solanki architecture. The temple complex was constructed as a magnificent offering in sculpture to the lord of life and light, fiery Surya, the sun god, under the patronage of Bhimdev I in the year 1027 AD. The king was a patron of the arts and an equal supporter of all religions.The Solanki kings of Anhilwad Patan enshrined their eminence in history through stone, most notably the Rani-ki-vav at Patan, the Jain temples at Taranga, Rudra Mahal at Sidhpur, and the sun temple at Modhera which incidentally is the only temple structure to have a ‘kund’ or ceremonial tank seamlessly dovetailing into the main complex thus emphasizing the dichotomy of the elements of fire and water.

The ‘Silavats’ were image or idol makers with an oral tradition of temple engineering. The temple complex is a marvel of planning engineering, mirroring their principles of ‘vaastu shastra’ and astronomy. Supervised by a mistry or elder, workmen chipped away at stone creating marvels of flora and fauna, creatures of fantasy, panels of narrative art depicting myth and legends and graphical impressions of geometrical shapes.

The temple is a classic example of the material aspect of Solanki architecture, namely a mastery over the elegantly intricate carving of stone and the judicious use of lime mortar. Ensconced in an undulating landscape of green foliage, the design element of the temple follows the tenets of Vastu – Shilpa. The kund and the entrance passageway face east in an aura of welcome to the tantalizing rays of the sun, and the entire structure floats on a plinth resembling a flowering lotus as an ablution to the sun god. The design specs of the steps are a stylized mirror image of the temple ‘shikhar’, thus symbolically linking fire and water, dream and reality. The main complex is divided into three parts, the entrance which is the ‘Sabha Mandap’, ‘Antaral’ the connecting passage and the ‘Garbagruha’, the sanctum sanctorum.

Decline

‘ With the waning of the Solanki dynasty and a decline in Sun worship, vagaries of time’Islamic iconoclasts and devastating’ earthquakes have all chipped at this structures form. Mehmood Ghazni during his raid of Gujarat marched into the Solanki Empire creating mayhem and after a great deal of loot and plunder was finally attacked by a regrouped Solanki army under Bhimdev which through knowing the terrain well destroyed almost half of the Muslim army and Mehmood and his shattered remnants had to flee to Ghazni where his death occurred in Ad 1030.

Owing to this ignomous defeat Gujarate njoyed immunity from foreign invasion for a period of 160 years. This peace was disturbed by the arrival of Allauddin Khilji, who after occupying Delhi and the north looked towards Gujarat as an ocean link for trade. Master pieces of Solanki architecture including Modhera once again defaced and plundered. Not content with just looting the temple marauding soldiers under royal command placed gun powder in the Garbagruha and set fire to it creating an explosion that damaged and caused the main shikhara to collapse.

In spite of it all and a shikhara missing the Modhera sun temple is still a magnificent work of art in stone and if your Itinerary allows you only one town in this region, then by all means make it to Modhera.

How to get there

By road: Distance from Ahmedabad to Modhera is 101 km and it takes around 1.45 hours. From Mehsana it is 26 km.

By rail: The train can take you as far as Mehsana (1.5 hours).

By air: Nearest airport is Ahmedabad

Image copyright by upload.wikimedia.org 

Dwarkadhish Temple


Dwarkadheesh_temple

Dwarka is a municipality of Devbhoomi Dwarka district in the state of Gujarat. Dwarka is one of the foremost Chardhams, four sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites and is also known as the kingdom of Lord Krishna. And is one of the Sapta Puri, the seven most ancient religious cities in the country.The Dwarkadhish temple, also known as the Jagat Mandir.  Dwarka is often identified with the Dwarka Kingdom, the ancient kingdom of Krishna, and is believed to have been the first capital of Gujarat. The city of Dwarka is regarded as the ‘Gateway to Moksha (Salvation)’. The term ‘Dwarkadish’ refers to Lord Krishna, who is regarded as the “Lord of Dwarka”. The city’s Dwarkadhish Temple dedicated to Krishna was originally built around 2,500 years ago.

Dwarka is well connected to the rest of India by air, rail, and road transport. It is 131 kilometres  by State Highway 947 from Jamnagar, where there is a domestic airport. The Dwarka railway station is on the broad gauge railway line that runs from Ahmedabad to Okha at a distance of about 137 kilometres from Jamnagar. Dwarka is 217 kilometres  away from Rajkot and 378 kilometres  from Ahmedabad.

dwaja_arohan-23-07 Besides the ruling place of Shree Krishna, Dwarka is the place where Lord Vishnu killed the demon named Shankhasura. Besides this historic event, the Puranas one of the 12 JyotirLingas (columns of lights) specifically manifesting Lord Shiva named Nageshwar Mahadev is in the sanctified place of Dwarka. Original temple dwarkadheesh was built by Lord Krishna’s grand son Vajaranabhji in 400 BC after the end of Historical city Dwarka,  but current temple was built in 16th century. Dwarkadheesh temple is built in Chalukyan style of architecture. This beautiful temple has 51.8 meters height, Covers area of 27 metre by 21 metre with east-west length of 29 metre and north-south width of 23 metres, with a 24 m long multi-colored flag, with symbols of sun and moon. 

In the temple, worship or puja is conducted by Aboti Brahmins Every day, Arti is performed at regular intervals and ‘abhishek’ is done. The Lord is decked in new clothes, jewels and flowers. Janmashtami is the major festival that is celebrated at Dwarkadhish Temple. At the time of festival, the entire temple is festooned with lights. Every year, the temple witness millions of devotees and pilgrims, who come to seek salvation, with the blessings of the Lord. The importance of Shri Krishna’s life and teachings was not limited to his contemporary period but is equally so to the posterity. That is why his birthday is remembered and celebrated today even after five thousand years. 

Dwarkadheesh Tempe has two entrance one from north and one from south.Entrance from north is also known as Moksha Dwaar and Entrance from south is also known as Swarg dwaar. If you step down from south entrance then you will reach at bank of river gomti. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In 1241, Mohammad Shah invaded Dwarka and damaged the temple. During this battle, five Brahmins  fought against him, died, and were honoured as martyrs. A shrine was built near the temple in their honor and is known as “Panch Peer“, which is a name of Muslim origin. In the year 1473, Sultan of Gujarat, Mahmud Begada ransacked Dwarka and damaged the temple which was again rebuilt. In the year 1551 when Dwarka was invaded by Turk Aziz, the idol of Lord Krishna was moved to Bet Dwarka Island in an attempt to protect it.The Okhamandal area plus Dwarka used to be ruled by Gaekwad of Baroda at the time of the time of the revolt of 1857. In the year 1858 a warfare took place between British forces and the Vaghers natives. The Vaghers emerged victorious and ruled the region until the year 1859. In 1859, Vaghers were overthrown by the joint forces of Gaekwads, British and many other troops of adjoining princely states. During that time too the temple of Dwarka as well as Bet Dwarka underwent damage. Later on the locals of the region reported about the atrocities hurled by the Britishers and that eventually led to the temples’ restoration. Later, Baroda’s king Maharaja Gaekwad offered the temple Shikhara with a charming golden pinnacle around 1958. Since the year 1960, the responsibility of the temple’s maintenance is being shouldered by the Indian government.

Dwarka had always been the fond hub for archaeologists due to its close association with the great epic Mahabharata and the mythical claims about the sunken city. Numerous explorations and excavations have been carried out off shore as well as on shore in the mighty Arabian Sea. The first excavations were undertaken around the year 1963 and it brought to the fore, many ancient artifacts. Archaeological excavations that were conducted on Dwarka’s seaward side at two places un-earthed many interesting things such stone jetty, few submerged settlements, triangular three-holed stone anchors etc. The settlements that were discovered consisted in shapes similar to fort bastions, outer and inner walls etc. Typographical analyses of the anchors of the unearthed anchors tell that Dwarka had been a flourishing port city during India’s middle kingdom era. Archaeologists opine that coastal erosion could have resulted in the destruction of this busy, rich port.

Between 1983 to 1990, the well-fortified township of Dwaraka was discovered, extending more than half mile from the shore. The township was built in six sectors along the banks of a river. The foundation of boulders on which the city’s walls were erected proves that the land was reclaimed from the sea. The general layout of the city of Dwaraka described in ancient texts agrees with that of the submerged city discovered by the Marine Archaeology Unit

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There is a lighthouse at the Dwarka Point on the Dwarka peninsula, which provides a panoramic view of the city. It is a fixed light situated 70 feet (21 m) above the sea level, and the light is visible over a distance of 10 miles (16 km). The lighthouse tower is 40 feet (12 m) in height and is 117 yards (107 m) away from the high water level in the sea. The radio beacon provided on this lighthouse tower is powered by a solar photovoltaic module

The underwater ancient city off the coast of Bet Dwarka has been proposed to be developed as a scuba diving site. This project is a joint initiative of Adventure Sports Ltd (ASL) and the Government of Gujarat, with investment of ₹13 crore. This is believed to be the first effort anywhere in the world to exploit a submerged city for tourism. Water and beach sports are also being promoted by the state government, and there are proposals to further promote aero and submarine sports

The temple is open from 6.00 am to 1.00 pm and 5.00 pm to 9.30 pm.

Image copyright by en.wikipidia.org, youtube.com, namsteindiatrip.com

Jaipur – A Pink City

Rajasthan’s beautiful Pink City Jaipur, was the stronghold of a clan of rulers whose three hill forts and series of palaces in the city are important attractions. Known as the Pink City because of the colour of the stone used exclusively in the walled city, Jaipur’s bazaars sell embroidered leather shoes, blue pottery, tie and dye scarves and other exotic wares. Western Rajasthan itself forms a convenient circuit, in the heart of the Thar desert which has shaped its history, lifestyles and architecture.

Jaipur - Palace Jaipur - Palace

Architectural Planning

Jaipur’s architectural planning may have been ancient, but its execution was definitely modern. Best represented by the City Palace complex, it brought together all that was excellent in Rajput and Mughal architecture, creating a new tradition that found wide currency over much of north India. As in the Mughal tradition, the durbar or court areas became much more open, characterised by a series of arched pavilions held on delicately crafted pillars. Ornamentation had always been a part of the state’s architectural heritage, now it became much more opulent. The private wings of the family also extended their entertainment areas. Since defence was no longer a primary concern, larger, more ornamental windows were built to over look the streets or courtyards outside these wings. Gardens were no longer planned within the internal courtyards only, but were added to the external vistas, and water, a basic feature of Mughal palaces and gardens, was utilised in a similar fashion, in canals and fountains.

Attractions

Jantar Mantar

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The observatory consists of fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars’ location as the earth orbits around the sun, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemerides. Each is a fixed and ‘focused’ tool. The Samrat Yantra, the largest instrument, is 90 feet (27 m) high, its shadow carefully plotted to tell the time of day. Its face is angled at 27 degrees, the latitude of Jaipur. The Hindu chhatri (small cupola) on top is used as a platform for announcing eclipses and the arrival of monsoons.
Built from local stone and marble, each instrument carries an astronomical scale, generally marked on the marble inner lining. Bronze tablets, all extraordinarily accurate, were also employed. Thoroughly restored in 1901, the Jantar Mantar was declared a national monument in 1948.
An excursion through Jai Singh’s Jantar is a unique experience of walking through solid geometry and encountering a collective astronomical system designed to probe the heavens.

City Palace

Diwan I Khas City palace City Palace, Jaipur, which includes the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal palaces and other buildings, is a palace complex in Jaipur, the capital of the Rajasthan state, India. It was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the head of the Kachwaha Rajput clan. The Chandra Mahal palace now houses a museum but the greatest part of it is still a royal residence. The palace complex, which is located northeast of the centre of the grid patterned Jaipur city, incorporates an impressive and vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings. The palace was built between 1729 and 1732, initially by Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber. He planned and built the outer walls, and later additions were made by successive rulers right up to the 20th century. The credit for the urban layout of the city and its structures is attributed to two architects namely, Vidyadar Bhattacharya, the chief architect in the royal court and Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob, apart from the Sawai himself who was a keen architectural enthusiast. The architects achieved a fusion of the Shilpa Shastra of Indian architecture with Rajput, Mughal and European styles of architecture.

Rajasthan Assembly Building

Rajasthan Vidhansabha The Rajasthan Assembly Building is one of the most modern legislature complexes in India. It is situated in Jyoti Nagar, Jaipur the capital of the state.
The exterior of the building has been provided with famous traditional features of Rajasthan such as Jharokas, Chhatries, Kamani, Baradaries, Arches, Todies etc. in Jodhpur and Bansi Paharpur stone. The interior entrance lounges have been decorated in the famous Rajasthani traditional art on walls and ceilings representing traditional art of four regions of Jaipur, Shekhawati, Marwar and Mewar.
The building is an eight storeved frame structure having height of 145 feet and floor area of 6.08 lac sqft. The main dome has a diameter of 104 feet. The assembly hall has a seating capacity for 260 members and a hall of identical capacity over it at fifth floor for future Vidhan Parishad (Upper House).

Ramgarh Lake

Ramgarh Lake Ramgarh Lake is an artificial lake situated near Jamwa Ramgarh in Rajasthan, India. It lies 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Jaipur and covers an area of 15.5 square kilometres (6.0 sq mi). At one time the lake was the main source of water supply to Jaipur city. It is a popular picnic spot, particularly after the rainy season. There are ruins of an old fort and temple of Jambwa Mata.[1]
During the 1982 Asian Games the rowing events were held on Ramgarh Lake.
The dense forest surrounding the lake and the nearby areas is home to a wide range of wildlife including lions, chital, and neelgai, and was declared a wildlife sanctuary by the Government of India in 1982.

Narayan Sarovar

In a land replete with pilgrimage sites, Narayan Sarovar is a different kind of holy experience. At almost the westernmost point of land in India, it can only be reached by traveling over 100 km from Bhuj across the barren scrubland of Kutch. A journey after which the appearance of a vast lake will surprise you even though you have come to see it and its spiritual significance will be tangible.

Narayan Sarovar:

Narayan Sarovar Narayan Sarovar

Narayan Sarovar Lake is one of the 5 holy lakes of Hinduism, along with Mansarovar in Tibet, Pampa in Karnataka, Bhuvaneshwar in Orissa and Pushkar in Rajasthan. The lake is associated with a time of drought in the Puranic area, when Narayan (a form of Lord Vishnu) appeared in response to the fervent prayers of sages and touched the land with his toe, creating the lake, now revered as holy to bathe in (though this is not recommended).

Vishnu Temple:

Vishnu Temple at Narayan Sarovar There are temples to Shri Trikamraiji, Laxminarayan, Govardhannathji, Dwarkanath, Adinarayan, Ranchodraiji and Laxmiji, built by the wife of Maharao Desalji. These are of more interest to those on religious pilgrimage here; other visitors are likely to find Koteshwar a more interesting option.

According to Hindu theology, there are five sacred lakes collectively called Panch-Sarovar (‘Sarovar’ means “lake”). Namely, Mansarovar, Bindu Sarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar and Pushkar Sarovar.[1] A fair is held here on the 11th to 15th days of month Kartik of the Hindu calendar (November/December).[4]
Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya during his lifetime is said to have visited Narayan Sarovar and spent time here as such the site is sacred also for follower of Pushtimarg.

Here, you can see red antelopes or chinkaras and in year 1981 the area around was notified and named after Narayan Sarovar as Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary.

How to reach:

By road: From Bhuj, 125 km away, buses go to Narayan Sarovar twice a day (morning and evening). However, that is the only public transportation available. Koteshwar Temple is a mere 2 km from Narayan Sarovar, on the coast, but visitors to Lakhpat (28 km further) or Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary (15 km) will need a private vehicle; this can only be hired in Bhuj. Prices for hired cars range from Rs. 5.50/- per km to Rs. 10/- per km depending on the type of vehicle and whether or not it has AC.

Unless you only want to visit the Narayan Sarovar lake and temples, hiring a car in Bhuj is recommended. Accommodation and food are available in Narayan Sarovar, but not in any of the other three sites (except the gurudwara in Lakhpat.) Visitors to the wildlife sanctuary should bring their own food and water.

Luxurious Kerala

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.

Fort Kochi Beach
Fort Kochi Beach

Day 1

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.
St Francis Church
St Francis Church

Day 2

Wayanad
Meals: Breakfast
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.
Santa Cruz Basilica
Santa Cruz Basilica

Day 3

Wayanad – Kochi
Meals: Breakfast
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.
Kerela Vascodagama
Kerela Vascodagama

Day 4

Kochi – Thekkady
Meals: Breakfast
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
Kerala Cherai Beach
Kerala Cherai Beach

Day 5

Thekkady
Meals: Breakfast
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.
Kerala Cherai Beach
Kerala Cherai Beach

Day 6

Thekkady – Kumarakom
Meals: Breakfast
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.
Kerala Cherai Beach
Kerala Cherai Beach

Day 7

Kumarakom
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.
Kerala Cherai Beach
Kerala Cherai Beach

Day 8

Alleppey – Kozhikode
Meals:  Breakfast
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.
Kerala Cherai Beach
Kerala Cherai Beach

Day 9

Kozhikode Departure
Meals: Breakfast
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
Fort Kochi Beach
Fort Kochi Beach

Visakhapatnam

Find a beach for every season… and for every reason. Sunny, golden, bright and breathtaking… that’s Visakhapatnam, popularly known as Vizag. Beautiful blue       ocean and sparkling beaches… this second largest city of Andhra Pradesh is gorgeous. But if you think Vizag is all about beaches… you are in for a surprise. Green picturesque hills greet you, wherever you go. Lush greenery, fascinating tribal dance, and historical Buddhist remains will enchant you. And just in case you need some man-made intervention… there are ample entertainment and shopping zones.

Vizag is truly a destination for every imagination. Set out to explore this charming city… set to redefine great holidays as you know it.

(1) Rishikonda:

Only 8 km from Vizag, Rishikonda has everything that the passionate traveller in you seeks – alluring beaches, hills and adventure water sports – skiing & wind surfing. The sea and hill cottages further enhance your holiday moments. Just right for your honeymoon or to rekindle those nostalgic moments.

(2)  Bheemunipatnam:

En route to Bheemunipatnam, the journey is as charming as the destination. The 25 km stretch from Vizag never once lets go of the beautiful coastline. Be sure you don’t miss out on ‘Erramattidibbalu’ – a very creative formation of red sand.
Stop by Bheemili, a sleepy little town with a rich colonial past. River Gosthani greets you as you enter Bheemili. While at Bheemili, visit the pilgrim centres, temples, old churches, clock tower, light house, and the port.

(3)  Ramakrishna Beach:

This offers you the usual joys of the beach – sea, sand and shore… plus a Submarine Museum, Visakha Museum, Aquarium, numerous parks, War Memorial and statues of eminent personalities.

(4)  Kanaka Maha Lakshmi Temple:

The Kanaka Maha Lakshmi Temple at Burujupeta is worshiped as the Goddess of the Visakha city. The idol of the deity is said to have been installed in the early 18th century. Festival celebrating Kanaka Maha Lakshmi takes place during Margasira masa (November and December) every year. Visakha district attracts tourists with its scenic natural beauty.

(5)  Kalingapatnam:

Srikakulam District has a sea coast of 193 km. A heritage town in Srikakulam district with the constructions of colonial rule is Kalingpatnam. It has a light house and from the top of it, visitors can enjoy the wonderful view of Sagar Sangamam of perennial river Vamsadhara.

(6)  Kailasagiri:

Picture this… a lush green park over a 130 m high hill overlooking the Bay of Bengal. Could your soul ask for more? The presence of giant statues of the celestial couple, Siva and Parvathi, make Kailasgiri a must visit on your list. The place also offers a breathtaking view at night – a million lights and the enchanting waves further away. Other highlights include: Ropeway to the hill, art gallery, air-conditioned conference hall, a capsule lift to the highest view point, food court, art gallery and souvenir shops.

 (7)  The Vuda Childrens Park: 

If you are holidaying with kids… don’t forget to visit this park. With dancing musical fountains, boating facility, skating ring and camel & horse rides – the kids are going to be thrilled.

(8)  Tenneti Park:

Located on the beach road, this is where you can enjoy your evenings with sea view and cool breeze. Also around are food courts and a big screen show where you can watch movies.

(9)  Gangavaram:

This is a paradise of every film marker and nature lover. Located near the steel plant, your most cherished beach fantasy comes true here. Gangavaram has a beautiful stretch of beach, lined with palm trees along the coast. One can laze on the hammock, while gentle waves play hide and seek with the coastline.

Tirupati

Tirupati is located at a distance of about 525 km from Hyderabad. Situated at the southern edge of the Eastern ghats in Andhra Pradesh, Tirupati, is surrounded by seven picturesque hills, which have perennial water falls, forests and superb views of valleys.

While Tirupati is the town at the foot of the seven hills, Tirumala is the temple township located on top of the hills. The age old temple of Lord Sri Venkateswara located here, is considered to be the richest temple in the whole world… The outer walls of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple are covered in a sheet of pure glitteringgold… what a splendid sight to behold! The drive up the winding ghat road is a delightful experience as you get to enjoy fresh air and some breathtaking views. Now, Tirupati is a great holiday destination and pilgrimage center, thanks to its serene beauty and the facilities available.

Horsley Hills is a scenic hill-station at about 150 km from Tirupati. Here you can enjoy some great adventure sports, or just sit back and relax amidst the clouds. Visit Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park and wildlife sanctuary or enjoy trekking at Mamanduru, a truly refreshing experience. Visit the historic Chandragiri Fort and marvel at the architectural prowess of the Vijayanagar Dynasty. There is no end to the fun you can have here… Tirupati, will charm you indeed!

(1)  Singarayakonda:

200 years ago, at the time of erection of “Dwajastambam” in Varaha Narasimha Swamy temple, a saint installed Prasannajaneya swamy statue. Here, in 1918 a bridge was constructed over ‘Bhasanti’ river. The grand Brahmotsavalu celebrations held in June every year attracts a large number of devotees. The place is connected via rail and road.

(2)  Motupalli:

Motupalli is located 12 km from Chirala & 45 km from Ongole. An ancient seaport, Motupalle flourished under various dynasties from the 1st century A.D. onwards. It is also the site of Buddhist stupas and sculptures. An ancient temple of Sri Rama is also situated here. The place is connected by road.

(3)  Chandavaram:

Located at 75 km from Ongole, a major Buddhist site has been excavated here on a hillock known locally as Singarakonda, beside the Gundlakamma rivulet. A unique double terraced stupa on the hilltop, perhaps the only one of its kind in South India, is reminiscent of the famous Dharajaka stupa. A museum at the site houses important sculptures and other relics such as coins, black and red ware and inscriptions in the Brahmi script dating back to the 2nd century B.C. The place is connected by road.

 

Madurai

Madurai has a long and well recorded history. As early as the 3rd century BC, Megasthenes visited, the city being referred to as “Methora” in his accounts. The city is also mentioned in Kautilya’s Arthashastra. Madurai has been described as the seat of the Pandyan Dynasty in Sangam literature (especially in Maturaikkāñci). The city is also described extensively in the 2nd-century CE epic Silapathikaram. The city was home to the third and last Tamil Sangam (between 300 BCE and 200 CE). Madurai finds mention in the works of Roman historians Pliny the Younger and Ptolemy and those of the Greek geographer Strabo. It is also mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.

After the Sangam age, most of present day Tamil Nadu, including Madurai, came under the rule of the Kalabhras dynasty, who were ousted by the Pandyas around 550 CE. The Pandyas were in their turn removed from power by the Chola dynasty during the early 9th century. The city remained under control of the Cholas until the early 13th century, when the second Pandyan empire was established with Madurai as its capital. After the death of the last Pandyan ruler, Kulasekara Pandian, Madurai came under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate. The Madurai Sultanate, then seceded from Delhi and functioned as an independent kingdom till its destruction by the Vijayanagar Empire in 1378. Madurai became independent from Vijayanagar in 1559 under the Nayaks. Nayak rule ended in 1736 and Madurai changed hands several times between Chanda Sahib, Arcot Nawab and Muhammed Yusuf Khan (Marudhanayagam) in the middle of the 18th century.

In 1801 the British East India Company took direct control of Madurai and brought it under the Madras Presidency. In 1837, the city was expanded to accommodate the growing population by demolishing the fortifications around the temple. This was done on the orders of the then collector John Blackburn. The moat was drained and the debris was used to construct the new streets – Veli, Marat and Perumaal Mesthiri streets. The city was constituted as a municipality in 1866.

Madurai played a role in the Indian independence movement. It was there that Gandhi made the decision to switch to wearing a loin cloth after seeing agricultural laborers wearing it. The independence movement in Madurai was led by leaders such as N. M. R. Subbaraman, Mohammad Ismail Sahib and Meer Niyamatullah Ibrahim Sahib.[citation needed] Post-independence, the city has expanded particularly to the north of river Vaigai by the development of new residential neighbourhoods like Anna Nagar and K. K. Nagar.

Day 01: Thanjavur – Madurai

Today morning after breakfast you are driven by car to Madurai (approx 170 Kms / 5-6 hrs). Madurai was the capital city of the great Pandya kings, and today it is Tamil Nadu’s most happening cultural arena. Upon arrival check-in at the hotel, rest and refresh. Rest of the day is at leisure.
Meals: Breakfast

Day 02: Madurai

In the morning after breakfast visit the Meenakshi Temple, the Teppakkulam Tank and the ancient Tirumala Nayak Palace. The structures of the Meenakshi Temple date mostly from the twelfth to the eighteenth century. Its enormous gopurams, covered with gaily-coloured statues, dominate the landscape and are visible from all over Madurai. At every turn there is superb sculpture; a magnificent architecture. The Tirumala Nayak Palace is a gracious building in the Indo Saracenic style, famous for the stucco work on its domes and arches.
Meals: Breakfast

Day 03: Madurai

Today morning after breakfast you are driven by car to Madurai Airport/Railway Station for your flight/train back home with beautiful memories of your holiday.
Meals: Breakfast

Thanjavur

There are no references to Thanjavur in any of the Sangam period records though some scholars believe that the city has been existing since then. Kovil Venni, situated at a distance of 15 miles to the east of Thanjavur, was the site of the Battle of Venni between Karikala and a confederacy of the Cheras and the Pandyas. The Cholas seemed to have faced an invasion of the Kalabhras in the 3rd century AD after which the kingdom faded into obscurity. The region around the present-day Thanjavur was conquered by the Mutharayars in the 6th century CE and ruled up to 849 AD.

During the first decade of the eleventh century AD, the Chola king Raja Raja Chola I constructed the Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur. The temple is considered to be one of the best specimens of South Indian temple architecture.

The Cholas came once more into prominence through the rise of the Medieval Chola monarch Vijayalaya in about 850 AD. Vijayalaya conquered Thanjavur from mutharayar king Elango Mutharayar and built a temple to the Hindu goddess Nisumbhasudani at this place. His son Aditya I consolidated their hold over the city. The Rashtrakuta king Krishna II, a contemporary of the Chola king Parantaka I claims to have conquered Thanjavur but there exists no evidence to support his claim. Gradually, Thanjavur became the greatest and most important city in the Chola Empire and remained its capital till the construction of Gangaikonda Cholapuram in about 1025 AD.

Day 01: Pondicherry – Thanjavur

In the morning after breakfast you are driven by car to Thanjavur (approx 189 Kms / 3-4 hrs). Upon arrival check in at the hotel. Rest and refresh. Rest of the day is at leisure. Thanjavur was once the royal city of the Cholas and the Nayaks. It is still considered the centre of all the classical arts and music, and is also well known for its unique painting style called Tanjore Painting
Meals: Breakfast

Day 02: Thanjavur

Today after breakfast you are taken for a brief city tour of Thanjavur. Home to 93 temples, Thanjavur stands out as a towering monument proclaiming the glory of the Chola regime, and its commitment to the arts and culture. Visit the Gangaikondacholapuram Temple. The Gangaikondacholapuram Temple lies right to Kumbakonam. The son of Chola king Raja Raja, Rajendra Chola, had built the temple on the lines of the big Temple of Thanjavur. Till date, even the ruins of the temple are visited for the splendid specimens of Chola sculpture.
Meals: Breakfast

Day 03: Thanjavur – Madurai

Today morning after breakfast you are driven by car to Madurai (approx 170 Kms / 5-6 hrs). Madurai was the capital city of the great Pandya kings, and today it is Tamil Nadu’s most happening cultural arena. Upon arrival check-in at the hotel, rest and refresh. Rest of the day is at leisure.
Meals: Breakfast
 

Pondicherry

The History of Puducherry can be traced back to the 2nd century. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, of the early 2nd century, mentions a marketplace named Poduke (ch. 60), which G.W.B. Huntingford identified as possibly being Arikamedu (now part of Ariyankuppam), about 2 miles from the modern Pondicherry. Huntingford further notes that Roman pottery was found at Arikamedu in 1937, and archeological excavations between 1944 and 1949 showed that it was “a trading station to which goods of Roman manufacture were imported during the first half of the 1st century AD”.

A remarkable degree of French influence in Puducherry exists to this date. Puducherry was designed based on the French (however originally Dutch) grid pattern and features neat sectors and perpendicular streets. The entire town is divided into 2 sections, the French Quarter (Ville Blanche or ‘White town’) and the Indian quarter (Ville Noire or ‘Black Town’). Many streets still retain their French names, and French style villas are a common sight in Puducherry. In the French quarter, the buildings are typically colonial style with long compounds and stately walls. The Indian quarter consists of houses lined with verandas and houses with large doors and grills. These French and Indian style houses are identified and their architecture preserved from destruction by an organization named INTACH. The use of French language can be still seen in Puducherry.


Pondicherry still has a large number of Indian and a small number of non-Indian descent residents with French passports. These are descendants of those who chose to remain French when the then ruling French Establishment presented the people of Puducherry with an option to either remain French or become Indians at the time of Puducherry’s transfer to India in 1954. Apart from the monuments pertaining to the French period, there is the French Consulate in Puducherry and several cultural organisations. Another important one is ‘Le Foyer du Soldat’. It is a legion hall for soldiers who served in the different French wars.

Day 01: Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry

In the morning after breakfast you are driven by car to Pondicherry (approx 96 Kms / 2-3 hrs). Upon arrival check in at the hotel. Rest and refresh. Later you visit the Aurbindo Ashram. This ashram promotes Aurbindo’s ideas in bringing about a synthesis of Yoga and modern science, so as to unite the material and soul. Later go on for a visit to Auroville – a unique experiment in international living and in creating a new environment where men and women of all nationalities live together in harmony.
Meals: Breakfast

Day 02: Pondicherry – Thanjavur

In the morning after breakfast you are driven by car to Thanjavur (approx 189 Kms / 3-4 hrs). Upon arrival check in at the hotel. Rest and refresh. Rest of the day is at leisure. Thanjavur was once the royal city of the Cholas and the Nayaks. It is still considered the centre of all the classical arts and music, and is also well known for its unique painting style called Tanjore Painting
Meals: Breakfast