Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

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The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the “Toy Train”, is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow-gauge railway that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal, India. It is the first, and still the most outstanding example of a hill passenger Railway. Built between 1879 and 1881, the railway is about 86 kilometres (53 mi) long. Its elevation level varies from about 100 metres (328 ft) at New Jalpaiguri to about 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) at Darjeeling. When the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, inscribed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1999, started running in the 1880’s, it was the beginning of a new economic and social life for the surrounding communities. 

Darjeeling_Toy_Train_at_Batasia_Loop Four modern diesel locomotives handle most of the scheduled services: however the daily Kurseong-Darjeeling return service and the daily tourist trains from Darjeeling to Ghum (India’s highest railway station) are handled by the vintage British-built B Class steam locomotive, DHR 778. The railway, along with the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka-Shimla Railway, is listed as a Mountain Railways of India World Heritage Site. The Mountain Railways of India are outstanding examples of hill railways.

The headquarters of the railway is in the town of Kurseong. It is still fully operational and retains most of its original features intact. While Darjeeling was growing, Rowland Macdonald Stephenson was crusading his battle for railway extension in India.   Operating on narrow gauge tracks since 1880s and providing an important transport link to various parts of Darjeeling hills and lower plains, the Toy Train is still unmatched when it comes to absorbing magnificent beauty of the mountains. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway System is the spectacular example of the technical and cultural traits of the colonial era. These trains illustrate different phases of technical developments in the hill areas of the country.

Toy_Train The trains became known as toy trains as the loco engines and the coaches were far smaller than normal broad gauge trains. But there was no such thing as toy railway construction. It was like any other proper railway project, but much more complex because of the terrain. The narrow gauge line did restrict the weight and size of the engines.

DHR was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999, only the second railway to have this honor bestowed upon it,the first one being Semmering Railway of Austria in 1998. The site must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. The protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations. 

How To Reach:

By Air: The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport (96 m), which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Rail: The nearest railway station is Jalpaiguri (62 m), which is well connected to all major city of India. 

By Road: The road network in Darjeeling is quite good, There are regular buses including Rocket and Volvo services between Kolkata (Calcutta) and Siliguri Main Bus Terminal (known as Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus located on Hill Cart Road).

 

 

 

Ramoji Film City

Ramoji_Film_City,_Hyderabad

The Ramoji Film City in India is located in Hyderabad. At 1633 acres, it is the largest integrated film city in the world. Escape to Ramoji Film City, a magical realm filled with excitement and wonderful surprises at every turn. As the world’s largest integrated film city and India’s only thematic holiday destination with magic of cinema. It was brought in existence by the man ‘Ramoji’ himself in the year 1996. A dreadful beauty spread over an area of about 2000 acres. The architecture and engineering of Ramoji Film Studio makes it the first choice of many filmmakers of India.

Ramoji_Film_City,_Hyderabad_-_views_from_Ramoji_Film_City_(40) These include some beautiful gardens, hills, lakes, artificial waterfalls, amusement parks, and striking architecture, making it one of Asia’s fastest growing tourism destinations. There are many modern buildings and high-tech laboratories at Ramoji Film City that serve well to the purpose of film-making. Ramoji Film City has amazing outdoor attractions, like the Mughal Gardens, Sun Fountain, Majestic Garden, Enthralled – amphitheatre, just to name a few. The complex also has urban backdrops of the US and Australia, with Amazon Army Base being the newest additions to the place. Ramoji Film City can accommodate about 50 film units at the same time.

Ramoji_Film_City,_Hyderabad_-_views_from_Ramoji_Film_City_(11) Ramoji_Film_City,_Hyderabad_-_views_from_Ramoji_Film_City_(1) Ramoji film city focuses on everything taking from a holiday place to a great adventurous and learning place for students or a place where you can get an overview of the complete filmy world. It is a place which has played a very significant role in Indian film industry. Films like Jodha Akbar, Dirty Picture, Magadheera to name a few were shot at different locations of the film city. Glamour and glitz is its mantra and it is the wonderland of movies and unlimited entertainment.

It is the perfect venue for shopping, food, movie watching and many more. From lawns, fountains, airport terminal, police outpost, railway station, temples, mosques, churches, chateaus and gateways to rural and urban settings, this Hyderabad film city has everything to mesmerise you.

How To Reach:

Hyderabad is well connected by Air, Rail and Road way, From all major city of India.

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Golkonda Fort

800px-Golconda_Fort_Hyderabad_315

Most of the forts of India are located in Rajasthan. But one of the most beautiful fort named Golconda Fort is located in Hyderabad India, and was the capital of the medieval sultanate of the Qutb Shahi dynasty (c.1518–1687), is situated 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) west of Hyderabad. This historic fort derives its name from the Telugu word “Golla Konda” which means Shepherd’s hill.  The fort stands on a 400 ft high hill and was initially built by the Kakatiya dynasty in the twelfth century. The fort is considered as a hallmark of excellence in military architecture. Golconda Fort is one of the grandest forts in India. 

Founded as early as in the 12th century, the Golconda Fort was constructed by the Kakatias rulers who belonged to Warangal.The mighty Golkonda fort was turned into a mightier one by the Qutub Shahi kings with addition of granite walls and fortifications extending it circumference to around 5 kms. India’s most impressive forts, boasting 87 semicircular bastions and eight mighty gates, complete with gruesome elephant-proof spikes. It was once a city of diamond trade and hence some brilliant gems like  the Koh-i-Noor and the Darya-i-Noor were excavated from the mines around Golkonda. 

History:

Golconda_fort_15032012 Golkonda was originally known as Mankal and built on a hilltop in the year 1143. Golkonda Fort was first built by the Kakatiya dynasty as part of their western defense along the lines of the Kondapalli Fort. It was originally a mud fort but was later reconstructed in stone. This was done by Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah Wali , the fourth Qutub king of the Qutub Shahi dynasty. The area eventually became a heated battleground between three kingdoms, finally culminating in the victory of the Islamic Bahmani Sultanate and the fort became a capital of a major province of the Sultanate.  The Qutb Shahis expanded the fort, whose 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) outer wall enclosed the city. The fort finally fell into ruin in 1687, after a year long siege leading to its fall at the hands of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

Diamonds:

The Golkonda Fort used to have a vault where once the famous Koh-i-Noor and Hope diamonds were stored along with other diamonds. Golkonda’s mines yielded many diamonds. Golkonda was the market city of the diamond trade, and gems sold there came from a number of mines. Magnificent diamonds were taken from the mines in the region surrounding Golkonda, including the Daria-i-Noor or “Sea of Light”, at 185 carats (37.0 g), the largest and finest diamond of the crown jewels of Iran. 

Architecture:

The_geometry_-_Interiors_of_the_Golconda_fort Architect_in_golconda_fort It has 87 semi circular bastions which are 50 to 60 geet high. The fort also contains the tombs of the Qutub Shahi kings. These tombs have Islamic architecture and are located about 1 km north of the outer wall of Golkonda. The Golkonda fort is divided into four distinct forts. The exceptional architecture still shines through in each of the apartments, halls, temples, mosques and even the stables.The important structures inside the fort are the striking Silai Khana, a three-storied armory building, Nagina Bagh, guide lines, Akkanna-Madanna Offices, Ramdas jail, Darbar hall and a Masjib founded by Ibrahim Qutub Shah. Moreover, the fort also has an ingeniously evolved water supply system. The Victory Gate. It is called so as it is through this gate that Aurangzeb marched in with his army after his victory. This humongous gate is laden with huge iron spikes which proved helpful in saving it from being knocked down by elephants. 

Its architecture is also the embodiment of Nawabi culture and style. The eastern gateway is the biggest gate and the only entrance open to visitors now. Constructed on a hill, this intelligently planned architectural splendor has excellent ventilation which used to be a huge respite during the summers for the royals.  It derives too many visitors from different different regions of the world and India. Tourists loves to visit this place. After char minar in Hyderabad , Golconda Fort is the 2nd Most Famous place of Hyderabad.

How To Reach:

By Air: Hyderabad has international airport, Flight from all major city of India and as well as from abroad comes.

By Rail: Hyderabad is headquarter of South Central Railway, which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Road: Hyderabad is capital city which is well connected to all major city of India by road. 

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Keoladeo National Park

A_view_of_the_Bharatpur_bird_sanctuary

Keoladeo National Park or Keoladeo Ghana National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India. It is also a declared World Heritage Site owing to its vast collection of Avi-Fauna and wildlife. Keoladeo National Park (KNP), formerly known as the Bharatpur Ghana Bird Sanctuary. Locally, it is still known as ‘Ghana’ which means a dense forest. It acquired its name, ‘Keoladeo’ due to the presence of the Lord Shiva temple at the centre of the Park. It is also a major tourist centre with scores of ornithologists arriving here in the hibernal season. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971.

The park is home to over 370 species of birds and animals such as the basking python, painted storks, deer, nilgai and more. It is a man-made and man-managed wetland and one of the national parks of India. The reserve protects Bharatpur from frequent floods, provides grazing grounds for village cattle, and earlier was primarily used as a waterfowl hunting ground. This ‘Bird Paradise’ was developed in a natural depression wetland that was managed as a duck shooting reserve at the end of the 19th century. 

History:

The sanctuary was created 250 years ago and is named after a Keoladeo (Shiva) temple within its boundaries. It was a being a hunting ground in the times of Maharajas used to be host to a number of Duck shoots organised here by the Maharajas for the British dignitaries. And duck shoots were organised yearly in honor of the British viceroys. In one shoot alone in 1938, over 4,273 birds such as mallards and teals were killed by Lord Linlithgow, the then Governor-General of India. The park was established as a national park on 10 March 1982. Previously the private duck shooting preserve of the Maharaja of Bharatpur since the 1850. In 1985, the Park was declared a World Heritage Site under the world Heritage Convention. It is a reserve forest under the Rajasthan Forest Act, 1953 and therefore, is the property of the State of Rajasthan of the Indian Union.

Flora And Fauna:

Migratory_birds_at_Keoladeo_National_Park The park is the only area with significant vegetation, hence the term ‘Ghana’ meaning ‘thicket’. The principal vegetation types are tropical dry deciduous forest, intermixed with dry grassland in areas where forest has been degraded. Rich of natural flora and fauna, spread in over 29Km2 of area. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary contains a wide variety of flora representing 64 families, 181 genera and 227 subspecies. Its unique mosaic of habitat types ranges from temporary swamps and potholes, which hold water for a few weeks only, to floodplains where water flows over for several months. 

Keoladeo_ghana_national_park_with_blue_bird Darter_sitting_on_a_tree@_Keoladeo_National_Park Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary as the name suggest is a haven for the birdwatchers and avifauna . Over 370 bird species have been recorded in the park. also home to around 50 species of fishes, 13 species of snakes, 7 species of turtles and many more wild animals. The land insects found here in great numbers are good for the breeding of land birds. It is the only wintering ground for the central population of the rare and highly endangered Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus) in India. A large number of breeding colonies of fish-eating birds occur in the monsoon and autumn months. That is why this park is regarded as the hub of ornithologist for their research works on the various species of birds. During its evolution, it was declared as a protected sanctuary in 1971 and was declared as World Heritage Site in 1985! For ornithologists, the park has 2 important aspects- one important aspect is its location that is a favourite of the migratory waterfowl that comes here in the Indian subcontinent before it goes to the different places. 

Climate:

The summers are too hot in Keoladeo as the temperatures can reach soaring heights making it a really unbearable place for tourism, the temperature ranges from 38 ° C to 45°C. winter the temperatures reach a maximum of 350C and a minimum of 50C The monsoon precipitation is about 69 cm. November to March is the best time, for the migratory birds are there as well as the residents. But the park is a treat all year round.

How To Reach:

By Air: The nearest airport is Agra (55 km), Which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Rail: Bharatpur Railway station is 5 km away from the national park, Which is well connected to major city of India like Mumbai, Delhi, Agra, Kolkata etc.

By Road: Buses are available for Bharatpur from most cities and towns in Rajasthan and taxi services are available from major cities like Agra, Jaipur and Delhi. Alwar, Fatehpur Sikri, Mathura and Sariska are also in close proximity to Bharatpur.

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Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station

The_Chhatrapati_Shivaji_Terminus

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is a historic railway station in the city of Mumbai, India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a spitting image of Victorian-Gothic style of architecture in India. Its name used to be Victoria Terminus. The station is also called VT (as short-form of Victoria Terminus) or CST (as short-form of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus). Built in 1888, the station is a grand reminder of the British Raj in India and still one of the most historical landmarks within the Central Business District of Mumbai.

Chatrapati_Shivaji_Terminus_(Victoria_Terminus_Station) The building, designed by the British architect F. W. Stevens, became the symbol of Bombay as the ‘Gothic City’ and the major international mercantile port of India. The station stands as an example of 19th century railway architectural marvels for its advanced structural and technical solutions. Whatever its stature on the world stage, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is for most Mumbaikars essentially a transit point—people get on or off the suburban or long-distance trains and make their way towards their destinations. They might stop and glance at CST momentarily, click a selfie with it perhaps, but their engagement with it mostly ends there. It is the busiest railway station in India. There are always a lot of people at the station. Short-distance trains and long-distance trains come to this station.

History:

Victoria_Terminus,_Bombay_(c._1900) The Chhatrapati Shivaji station, formerly known as Victoria Terminus, was built in 1888. Designed by the British architect F.W. Stevens, the structure became a symbol of Bombay (Mumbai) and the city was labeled the ‘Gothic City’ due to this magnificent building’s architectural styles. Its remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches and eccentric ground plan are close to traditional Indian palace architecture. It is an outstanding example of the meeting of two cultures, as British architects worked with Indian craftsmen to include Indian architectural tradition and idioms thus forging a new style unique to Bombay. Bori Bandar’ station, located in Eastern Mumbai, was the main station for all commercial and trade activities in the city, starting its first rail service covering a total distance of 34 kilometer to Thane. 

It was during the British Rule that it was re-designed by F. W. Stevens, who named it Victoria Terminus (VT), after the then-reigning Queen Victoria. At the time, the building was the most expensive structure in Mumbai costing 260,000 Sterling Pounds.  In 1996, the Minister of Railways, Suresh Kalmadi, changed the name of the station to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a famed Maratha king.

Architecture:

Gare Chhatrapati Shivaji (anciennement gare Victoria) Chhatrapati_Shivaji_Terminus_(formerly_Victoria_Terminus)_-_Central_dome_over_grand_staircase_-_5 This building, designed by F. W. Stevens, is spread across a 2.85 hectare area. The terminal was built over a period of 10 years starting in 1878. This is one of the finest functional Railway Station buildings of the world and is used by more than three million commuters daily. The style and the ornamentation of the edifice were acceptable to both Indian and European culture.  Complete with turrets, pointed arches and an eccentric ground plan, the CST was a novel achievement during that period. The entrance of the Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus is flanked by figures of a lion and a tiger representing the two countries-great Britain and India. From the outside, it looks far more imposing that its three storeys for its profusion of spires, turrets, domes and gables. Close up, the building is heavily ornamented with floral and animal patterns. The grand, modern identity the British sought for their colonial cities must have been evident in this cathedral that enshrined the power of steam locomotion. and the interiors of the station are lined with high-quality Italian marble.

It is among the top ten railway stations in the world. It is perhaps the second most photographed monument in India after the Taj. It has stood for 129 years. Unless a major natural calamity strikes, it could stand for another 500 or 1,000 years.

How To Reach:

Mumbai is well connected to all Big city of India by Flight, Train and Road way. Its also have International Airport which is connected to domestic as well as International flights.

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Dashashwamedh Ghat

Dashashwamedha_ghat_on_the_Ganga,_Varanasi

Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main ghat in Varanasi on the Ganga River. It is located close to Vishwanath Temple and is probably the most spectacular ghat. The literal meaning of the Dashashwamedh is the Ghat (river front) of the ten sacrificed horses. Brahma sacrificed 10 horses (aswa) here. Second mythologies surround the ghat, one being that Lord Brahma created it to welcome Lord Shiva when he came to Earth.

Visiting the ghat of Varanasi is the best thing to do in this city known for its religious significance to Hindus. Taking a dip in the Ganga at one of the ghat to wash away your sins is something you must do here to feel how thousands of pilgrims do all year round. Close to Ghat there are many Temples dedicated to Sulatankeshvara, Brahmeshvara, Varaheshvara, Abhaya Vinayaka, Ganga (the Ganges), and Bandi Devi which are part of important pilgrimage journeys. A large number of priests can be seen performing religious rituals on this Ghat. Close to Ghat there are many Temples dedicated to Sulatankeshvara, Brahmeshvara, Varaheshvara, Abhaya Vinayaka, Ganga (the Ganges), and Bandi Devi which are part of important pilgrimage journeys. A large number of priests can be seen performing religious rituals on this Ghat. 

Ganga aarti:

Ganga_Aarti_in_evening_at_Dashashwamedh_ghat,_Varanasi_03 It is great to see the real attraction of this ghat in the evening when Gange aarti is held here. This ghat has become the religious spot for the devotees and pilgrims for years and tourists as well.  It is great to see the real attraction of this ghat in the evening when Gange aarti is held here. Elaborate rituals are performed at this ghat every evening by a group of 8-10 priests standing atop a pedestal, who chant mantras and propitiate the river with thousands of diyas and torches, with bhajans playing loudly in the background. This ghat has become the religious spot for the devotees and pilgrims for years and tourists as well. The riverbank lights up with flaming lamps and the smell of sandalwood envelops the ghat. Special Aartis are held on Tuesdays and on religious festivals. A maha Gange aarti held at the ghat at Kartik Purnima which attracts an unbelievable crowd.

Nearby Attraction:

Kashi Vishwanath Temple:

Shri_Kashi_Vishwanath_Mandir,_BHU_03 The list of places to visit in Varanasi would be incomplete without including the famed Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas and has also been referred to in the holy scriptures. The Kashi Vishwanath temple has been built and re-built several times over the past few centuries. The present temple was built in the 18th century by Rani Ahalyabai Holkar of Indore after Mughal emperor Aurangzeb destroyed the previous temple and built a mosque at the site. Five major aartis are held daily, but the temple is always abuzz with worshipers. Sadly, non-Hindus may not enter, but by taking a stroll through the Vishwanath Galli that runs the length of it, you can get a glimpse of the interior, which exudes pungent smells and constant noise. For a small donation, you can climb to one of the second floors or rooftops of the shops that line the lane and get a good view of the temple interiors.  It is located in the city of “Kas” or “Light” and is also known as the Golden temple due to the presence of 15.5m high golden spire. Every day, the temple is visited by about three thousand devotees, which go up to a lakh or more on special festive occasions. One of the most auspicious times to visit the temple is Shivaratri.

Ramnagar Fort:

Ramnagar_Fort,_Varanasi,_UP Located near Ganges river on its eastern bank, Ramnagar fort is a structure in Varanasi built in 1750 by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh. The fort is constructed in red sandstone and is made in a typical Mughal style of architecture with stunning carved out balconies and open patios. This old rampart is also home to a vintage museum that is famous for its rare collection of old American cars, ivory works, medieval costumes, and a huge astronomical clock. The architecture of this fort is a blend of Indian and Islamic style.The temple dedicated to Ved Vyasa is said to be the place, where the sage who wrote the Indian epic Mahabharata, spent some days of his life. Among other tourist attractions in Ramnagar are the Durga Temple, Chhinnamastika Temple, and Dakshin Mukhi Hanuman.During Dussehra, the fort and its surroundings are decorated magnificently and it’s certainly worth a visit.

Bharat Kala Bhavan:

Bharat_Kala_Bhavan_Museum,_Banaras_Hindu_University,_Varanasi Bharat Kala Bhavan is located inside the Banaras Hindu University campus. It was established on 1 January 1920 as an extension of Bharat Kala Parishad. It displays India’s heritage and preserves the past of the nation. It houses a wide collection of paintings, textiles and costumes, decorative art, Hindu and Buddhist sculptures and other materials of archaeological importance. There are some displays which date back to 1st to15th century. The total number of displays are 1,00000 plus. It also has an art gallery dedicated to the Russian artist, Nicholas Roerich. However, the main credit for creating the collection and establishment goes to Padmavibhushan Late Rai Krishnadasa, the renowned Hindi writer.

How To Reach:

By Air: Varanasi airport is well connected to all major city of India.  

By Rail: There two railway station Varanasi railway station and another one is Kashi railway station, Varanasi railway station is well connected to all  major city of India by regular train.

By Road: Varanasi is well connected by Road way from the near by city and near by states.

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Allahabad

On_the_banks_of_New_Yamuna_bridge,_Allahabad

Allahabad  also known as Prayag is a city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, It is also called the “Tirth Raj”, the king of all pilgrimage center.  And the administrative headquarters of Allahabad District, the most populous district in the state. It is a ‘tale of two cities’. The old city has a glorious past and the new city that is rubbing shoulders with modernity. The Kumbh held in every six years and Mahakumbh in every 12 years at Allahabad the largest religious fair in the world. It is located at the junction of the holy rivers the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Saraswati.

The city’s original name–Prayag, or “place of offerings”–comes from its position at the Sangam (confluence) of the GangaYamuna and mythical Sarasvati rivers. It is the second-oldest city in India, and plays a central role in Hindu scriptures. The place where river Ganga and river Yamuna meet is called Sangam (union). Sangam is the venue of many sacred fairs and rituals, and attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year. These rivers has played an important role in weaving the society and cultural fabric of the city which is which is visited by pilgrims from virtually every corner rom country during the month of Magh. It is the place of importance in the Hindu religion. It is a city which has the mixed culture of Hindus, Muslims, Jains and Christans.

History:

Allahabad_Montage_II_Dec_2014 The name Prayāga existed during the Vedic period, and is mentioned in the Veda as the location where Brahma (the Hindu creator of the universe) attended a ritual sacrifice. The city was once part of the Kuru dynasty, who made it their capital after the destruction of Hastinapur by floods. According to historian Badauni, the great Mughal Emperor Akbar also visited Prayag and founded the imperial city of Illahabad that later on came to be known as Allahabad. The construction of the Akbar Fort bears testimony to the importance of the city that was made the provincial capital during the Mughal period.According to historian Badauni, the great Mughal Emperor Akbar also visited Prayag and founded the imperial city of Illahabad that later on came to be known as Allahabad. The construction of the Akbar Fort bears testimony to the importance of the city that was made the provincial capital during the Mughal period.

Prayag is birth place of Som, Varuna and Prjapati. Prayag has been associated with mythological personalities in Brahmanical(Vedic) and Buddhist Literatures. It was the seat of the great sge Bhardwaj, sage Durvasa and Sage Pannas sage Bhardwaj lived here circa 5000BC and taught more than 10000 disciples. He was the greatest philospher of ancient world. Puranas pay a glowing tribute to the city of Prayag which is also illustrated in the beautiful verses of the great poet Kalidasa. The famous character of poet in the drama Raghuvansham, speaks of the great line which divided the clear blue stream of The Yamuna from the muddy stream of The Ganga. Allahabad is known as the “city of prime ministers” because seven out of 15 prime ministers of India since independence have connections to Allahabad (Jawaharlal NehruLal Bahadur ShastriIndira GandhiRajiv GandhiGulzarilal NandaVishwanath Pratap Singh and Chandra Shekhar). All seven leaders were either born there, were alumni of Allahabad University or were elected from an Allahabad constituency.

Climate & Culture :

Allahabad is blessed with a rich, artistic and cultural heritage. Every twelve years, the city hosts Kumbh Mela, which attracts tourists from all over the country. Other famous festivals that are keenly celebrated are Ardh Kumbh Mela and Magh Mela where devotees from different cities and states take a solemn dip in the holy rivers. Hindustani Classical Music and Kathak are popular classical music and dance forms. 

Allahabad has a humid subtropical climate common to cities in the plains of North India. The annual mean temperature is 26.1 °C (79.0 °F); monthly mean temperatures are 18–29 °C (64–84 °F). The month of March marks the start of summers in Allahabad and it lasts till June. Temperature ranges between 30°C to a mercurial 45°C during these months. July to September is when Allahabad experiences monsoon, which brings intermittent showers of rain. Winter runs from December to February, with temperatures rarely dropping to the freezing point. The daily average maximum temperature is about 22 °C (72 °F) and the minimum about 9 °C (48 °F). The best season to visit Allahabad is the winter season in the months of October to March. The temperature remains comfortable and is apt for sightseeing and other.

Tourist Attraction:

Triveni Sangam:

Triveni_Sangam Triveni Sangam, located at a distance of 7 km from the Civil Lines is one of the most famous tourist attractions of the city. Triveni Sangam also known as Sangam is the confluence of three rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. One can clearly identify the pale yellow waters of the Ganga and the blue waters of the Yanuma. It is believed that some drops of nectar fell from a pitcher in the hands of the Gods, which makes up Triveni Sangam. Therefore, a bath in the waters here is said to cleanse people off all their sins. The holy Sangam is the site for Annual Magha Mela/Ardh Kumbh/Kumbh Mela. It is during the Kumbh/Ardh Kumbh that the Sangam truly comes alive, attracting millions of devotees from all over the country. 

Anand Bhavan:

Anand_Bhawan The ancestral home of the illustrious Nehru first Prime-Minister of India family, Anand Bhawan has now been converted into a museum and displays the memorabilia of India s First Family, where many decisions and events related to the freedom struggle have been known to take place. Indira Gandhi, first lady Prime Minister of India was born there. Jawahar Planetarium is also located inside the Anand Bhawan. The exhibits inside the house highlight the events, which describes the participation of prestigious family in independence of India. The most beautiful parts of the museum are the bedroom of Nehru and his study. Here one is offered a glimpse of the lifestyle of the family that retained for a long time and even today the status of the most important political dynasty in India. It is a two storied building which has rooms including the one where Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi used to stay during his visits.

Allahabad Fort:

India_Bikaner_Junagarh_Fort Allahabad Fort stretched along the banks of River Yamuna narrates the heroic tale of Allahabad’s legendary past built by Emperor Akbar in 1583 AD. This huge, majestic fort has three magnificent galleries flanked by high towers. Presently, the army uses the Allahabad fort and only a limited area is open to visitors. The important monuments and buildings inside are the Zanana palace for the women, the Saraswati Koop which is considered as the source of the Saraswati River and a 3rd century BC Ashoka Pillar. In addition, the fort also has Ashoka Pillar which was built back in 232 B.C by Mauryan Empire. This gigantic pillar is a polished sandstone with an height of 10.6 metre. Visitors require a permit from the Ordnance Depot or the Tourist Office for visiting this Fort.

Khusro Bagh:

Tomb_of_Nithar_,_sister_of_Sultan_Khusro_01 Khusro Bagh was completed in 1622 AD and houses the tombs of Khusrau Mirza (eldest son of Emperor Jahangir), his mother Shah Begum, and his sister Sultan Nithar Begum. The three sandstone mausoleums within this walled garden, present an exquisite example of Mughal architecture. The most beautifully designed monument is of Prince Khusrau, hence the name. Enjoy the sight of Mughal architecture and go on a relaxing walk in the park. You can learn about the place from the boards put inside and from the localities of the city.  In addition, there is another tomb which was constructed for Khusro’s mother. She poisoned herself in despair as she was not able to handle Khusro’s opposition of his father Jahangir.

How To Reach:

By Air: Barmauli Airport (15 km) is connected to metro city of India. Delhi and Kolkata is nearest International airport.

By Rail: Allahabad have major rail head and its well connected to all major city of India.

By Road: Allahabad has a good connectivity of roads and highways from whole Country. 

ImageCopyright by commons.wikimedia.org

 

 

 

 

Thirupparamkunram Murugan temple

Tirupparamkunram_Murugan_Temple

Tirupparankunram Murugan Temple is a Hindu temple and one of the Six Abodes of Murugan, located at Tirupparankunram. this is the first temple. While Lord Muruga graces in a standing form in other five army camp temples, He graces in a sitting, wedding form with His consort Deivanai, the divine daughter of the king of heaven, Indra, and he is said to have worshipped Shiva here as Parangirinathar. The temple is built in rock-cut architecture and believed to have been built by the Pandyas during the 6th century.  This is a 2000 years old hillock temple beaming with the pride of being the pioneer of other five army camps.

It is carved in rock and is monstrous in size for such an architecture. There are number of cubical pillars with lotus medallions at the entrance of temple. The temple has innumerable cave shrines that are small and approached through narrow dark passages. The inscriptions on the chamber walls are believed to date back to the early medieval period. There are 11 famous ponds around the temple, out of which, Saravanapoigai and Lakshmi Theertham are very famous. A cave temple dedicated to the element of earth and mentioned in various classical Tamil texts as the ‘Southern Himalaya’ where the gods assemble, Tiruparankundram is also mentioned in legend as ‘the place where the sun and moon abide’.

Architecture:

Thiruparamkundram_(14) There are several architectural features of interest, especially the temple is built rock-cut architecture dating back to the Pandya period of 6th century and the life sized sculptures in the mandapas of the Nayaka period during the 16th century. An Aasthaana Mandapa with several artistically carved pillars lead one to the towering 150 feet (46 m) high seven-tiered rajagopuram at the entrance.The granite hill behind the temple is 1,050 ft (320 m) has a shrine of Kasi Viswanatha at the top. The image of Vinayaka in the temple in the temple is sported holding sugarcane and fruits. The main shrine is an early rock cut temple which has cells that house the sanctums of Subramanya, Durga, Vinayakar, Shiva and Vishnu. All the statues are carved on the wall of the parankundram rock. A notable feature of this temple is that the Shiva and Vishnu face each other in the main shrine, considered a rare thing in ancient Hindu temples. Outside the temple there is tank, where according to the temple tradition, the fishes are served with salt and rice flakes by the devotees. There are five Theerthams, or divine water sources, in and around the temple, Saravana Poigai, Lakshmi Theertham, Saniyasi Kinaru (well), Kasi Sunai, and Sathiya Koopam.

Skanda Shashti festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Panguni (October – November) is the most prominent festival of the temple. Muruga are taken in procession to Madurai to celebrate Minakshi’s wedding (Chittirai festival), with residents of Madurai dressed in festive clothing. Nakkirar’s association with this temple is also celebrated as a festival. Since the image of Vishnu is in the temple, Vaikunta Ekadashi is also celebrated.

Those facing obstacles in marriage alliances, risk to the welfare of children pray here. They also light lamps in the Durga shrine during the Rahu Kala time each day. The Temple time is open from 5.00 am to 1.00 pm And 4.00 pm to 9.00 pm.

How to reach:

By Air: The nearest airport is Madurai Airport(10 km), which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Rail: The nearest railway station is madurai railway(08 km), which is well connected to all major city of India by daily train.

By Road: Buses from Madurai Periyar and Thirumangalam bus stands will aid you to reach the temple. From the bus stand temple is at a walkable distance.

ImageCopyright by commons.wikimedia.org

Brihadeeswarar Temple

Brihadeeswarar_Temple_Full_View

Brihadeeswarar Temple Big Temple (locally known as “Thanjai Periya Kovil”) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Siva Peruman located in Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is also known as RajaRajeswara Temple Rajarajeswaram and Peruvudayar Temple. Thanjavur named after the legendry asura “Tanjan”, is one of the ancient temples in India. The 1000 year old temple was built by Raja Raja Chola I to grace the throne of the Chola Empire in 1 to grace the throne of the Chola Empire in 1010 AD and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. known as the “Great Living Chola Temples”, with the other two being the Peruvudaiyar Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Airavatesvara temple.

Nandi_of_The_Big_Temple- The vimanam (temple tower) is 198 ft (60 m) high and is one of the tallest in the world. The Kumbam (the apex or the bulbous structure on the top) weighs around 80 tons.There is a big statue of Nandi (sacred bull), carved out of a single rock measuring about 16 ft (4.9 m) long and 13 ft (4.0 m) high at the entrance.  This is the second largest  Nandhi in India and is carved out of a single stone.  Everything about this temple is big, majestic.  No wonder it is referred  as The Big Temple.The structure is a proof of wealth, artistic expertise and power of the Chola kingdom. According to the inscriptions present in the temple, Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perumthachan was the engineer and architect of this famous temple.  The tower stands tall and one can see this fabulous structure even as one enters Tanjore.  The temple is entirely built of more than 130,000 tons of granite. 

History:

Brihadeeswarar_Temple,_Thanjavur The temple was built to grace the throne of the Chola empire by the Tamil emperor Arulmozhivarman, popularly called Rajaraja Chola I, in compliance to a command given to him in a dream. This is the Chola dynastys finest contribution to Dravidian art.  The Big Temple  was an expression of the success of Raja Raja Chola’s empire.  This temple is also called as  Brahadeeswara Temple or Peruvudaiyar Kovil or Rajarajeswaram. The emergence of such features as the multifaceted columns with projecting square capitals signal the arrival of the new Chola style. The style of construction of temple resembles the temple in Bhuvaneshwar. The temple is built over 29 square base and is surrounded by moat on two sides and Grand Anaicut river on the other side. The walls of the complex are adorned by beautiful paintings belonging to the Chola and Nayak period.  The temple is entirely built of more than 130,000 tons of granite. Intended to display the emperor’s vision of his power and his relationship to the universal order, the temple was the site of the major royal ceremonies such as anointing the emperor and linking him with its deity, Siva Peruman, and the daily rituals of the deities were mirrored by those of the king. The temple “testifies the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.

Architecture:

Brihadeeswarar_Temple_3624 The architect and engineer of the temple was Raja Raja Rama as stated in inscriptions found at the temple.  The temple took 12 years to complete, and King Raja Raja Chola – I, performed the Kumbhabhishekam (consecration ceremony) in 1011 AD. The temple was built in honour of his victorious reign, during when the Chola kingdom (10th to 14th centuries AD) extended till Ceylon and some parts of the Malaya archipelago. The fresco painting can be seen in the ceilings of the corridors and also in the ceilings of the many sub-shrines. They are an invention of the Cholas and the painting, which are about 1000 years old are still brightly colourful. The Temple, like many others built during this period served many functions; the walls are very high and the entrance is built like a fort, along with a moat. On the inside, there are separate waiting areas for musicians, workers etc and the periphery served as a meeting place for the public.  Built towards 600AD, the architecture is considered ‘modern’ in the scale of Dravidian architecture. The temple is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu.

The day of the Ruling star, satabhishag is treated as a festival day every month as it symbolizes the ruling star at the time of birth of Rajaraja. The temple is also the venue of the annual festival that is celebrated here for the period of nine days in the month of Visaka according to the Hindu calendar. The deity is bathed with the water soaked with the fragrant Champaka flower.

How To Reach:

By Air: The nearest airport is at Trichy (45 km), which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Rail: Thanjavur railway station is well connected to all major city of India

By Road: Thanjavur is well connected to all major city of India, Regular buses to Thanjavur from other major cities of the country are always available.

ImageCopyright by commons.wikimedia.org

Mount Mary Church

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While Bandra in Mumbai is one of the elitist areas that is also home to some of the biggest retailer brands and fine dining restaurants, it is where the devotees of Virgin Mary congregate to pray and seek blessings at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, more commonly known as Mount Mary Church. The most looked forward to event here is the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrated on the first Sunday after September 8.

The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount stands on a hillock, about 80 meters above sea level overlooking the Arabian Sea, and attracts people from all faiths who pray to Virgin Mary for expressing their gratitude or requesting favours. However, the one time that it really comes into prominence is during the Bandra Fair when devotees come here in thousands. This is when the entire area gets decorated with festoons and buntings. Many pitch up stalls selling religious articles and savories. Wax figures of the Virgin Mary, along with an assortment of candles shaped like hands, feet and various other parts of the body are sold at kiosks.

Although the current church edifice is just 100 years old, the history behind the current statue of Our Lady goes back to the 16th century when Jesuit priests from Portugal brought the statue to the current location and constructed a chapel. In 1700 Arab pirates interested in the gilt-lined object held in the hand disfigured the statue by cutting off the right hand. In 1760, the church was rebuilt and the statue was substituted with a statue of Our Lady of Navigators in St. Andrew’s Church nearby. This statue has an interesting legend. It goes that a Koli fisherman dreamt that he would find a statue in the sea and it was actually found floating in the sea.

In 1879, H. Bomonjee Jeejibhoy built a flight of steps on the northern side of the hill. In 1882, a portico came to be added to the front of the building but by the end of the century it was resolved that only a new church would accommodate the growing numbers who made their way to the top of the hill to venerate the Lady of the Mount every September. Shapoorji N. Chadabhoy, an architect, designed the new chapel. The style is neo-gothic and the new altar reflects the style. Seven steps in white marble peaked by three niches lead the eye of the pilgrim or visitor to the Mother and child Jesus, the wooden statue now crowned and resplendent with a white and gold veil that flows down to the topmost marble step. Unlike most icons of Mother Mary this one has the child on the right arm. The murals in the nave depict scenes from the life of Mary.

Things to Do

Explore the capital of Maharashtra

Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra. It has numerous attractions for a visitor ranging from the museum visits to roadside shopping. The city is a paradise for such visitors. It truly is a city that does not sleep so it is worth exploring in the night too.

Visit Esselworld

Have a Fun day at the Esselworld which is one of India’s largest amusement parks. From rib tickling crazy cups and copper choppers to scary monsters in the mist as well as adrenaline charging rocking alleys and zipper drippers, you can spend an exciting day and spend quality time with the family.

Explore the Sanjay Gandhi National Park

On the periphery of Mumbai, this is a beautiful park where tranquility prevails and the flora and fauna are allowed to have a free hand. It offers to the tourists, naturalists, bird-watchers and environment researchers a fascinating treasure of wildlife and innumerable plants and trees. In fact, almost a quarter of India’s avifauna has made their home here, including many mammals such as the elusive leopard. The park also offers various activities like boating, trekking, safaris and even a toy train ride.

Explore the Mumbai caves

The Kanheri caves have the earliest images of the Buddha in South India and were made famous across the world because Chinese monk traveller Hiuen Tsang had visited the monastery in 7th century CE and is reported to have carried a wooden image of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara to China along with numerous Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts.

Known as Mandapeshvara, the caves at Borivali, are the final chapter in the history of cave architecture in Mumbai. Along with these, the caves at Mahakali, Magathne, Elephanta, Jogeshwari etc are the testimony of the city’s rich heritage.

Explore the Neighbourhood

Apart from the fact that there is the whole of Mumbai that you can enjoy during your visit to the Haji Ali Dargah, there are some places which are close by for a quick visit when you are in this area. One is the Mahalaxmi Temple dedicated to Mahalakshmi, the central deity of Devi Mahatmya. Built around 1785, the history of this temple is supposedly connected with the building of the Hornby Vellard. According to a legend, after portions of the sea wall of the Vellard collapsed twice, the chief engineer, Pathare Prabhu, dreamt of a goddess statue in the sea near Worli. A search recovered it, and he built a temple for it. The temple contains images of the goddesses Mahalakshmi, Mahakali and Mahasaraswati.

Also situated in this area is the Mahalaxmi Race Course which has been modelled on the Melbourne Race Course. The length of the track is 2,400 meters and it was built in 1883 on 225 acres of land facing the sea. And if your interest veers towards the skies and all that lies beyond earth, you must visit the Nehru Planetarium. Commissioned on March 3, 1977, it has grown into a centre for scientific study of astronomy and for meeting of scientists and scholars for discussions and lectures, arranged periodically on various stellar and astronomical events. The planetarium also has programmes aimed at inspiring students. These include special arrangements to watch, study, and photograph solar and lunar eclipses.

How to reach
Mt Mary Rd, Mt Mary, Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050
Phone- 022 2642 3152

Image & Information copyright by maharashtratourism.gov.in

Haji Ali Dargah

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A tomb on an island in the middle of the Arabian Sea! Doesn’t that immediately sound enticing enough? But there is more to the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai than just its location. Such is the reverence that this Muslim saint commands that his final resting place draws the faithful from all communities who come here with the firm hope that their prayers will be answered. With a mosque located adjacent to the tomb complex, the edifice is also a brilliant specimen of the Indo-Islamic style of architecture.

Located about 500 meters from the coast off the Lala Lajpatrai Marg at Mahalaxmi in Mumbai, the Haji Ali Dargah was constructed in 1431 in memory of a wealthy Muslim merchant, Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, who renounced all his worldly possessions before making a pilgrimage to Mecca. It is said that he had come to India from Bukhara in the ancient Persian Empire and had travelled around the world before deciding to settle down in Mumbai.

According to a legend, the saint once came upon a poor woman crying on the road with an empty vessel in her hands. Upon inquiring the reason for her sorrow, she said that the oil she was carrying in the vessel had been accidently spilled and that she was now afraid of being beaten by her husband. The saint asked her to lead him to the spot where the oil had been spilled. There, he jabbed a finger into the soil and the oil gushed out, which the woman filled into the vessel and went home.

However, this incident is reported to have led Haji Ali experiencing disturbing dreams about injuring the earth. Full of remorse, he soon fell ill and directed his followers that upon his death his coffin should be cast into the sea. Haji Ali left this world during his journey to Mecca and miraculously the casket carrying his body floated back to the Mumbai shore, getting stuck in the string of rocky islets just off Worli. And so it was that the ‘dargah’ was constructed here.

The tomb in itself is simple in design. On an elevated platform is the main structure with a white dome and minarets. Men and women enter the ‘dargah’ through different entrances to arrive on either side of the shrine. The main hall has marble pillars embellished with artistic mirror work: blue, green, yellow chips of glass arranged in kaleidoscopic patterns interspersed with Arabic patterns which spell the 99 names of Allah. The Kinara Masjid is behind the ‘dargah’ and an open Qawwal Khana chamber next to the tomb works as a stage for Sufi singers. There is a fountain within the complex lined with a few trees adjacent to which is a tea and snack vendor and a shop selling books and ‘chaddars’ that are bought for the shrine.

The pier and the promenade leading to the ‘dargah’ have several vendors along the way selling flowers, incense sticks, colourful shawls, imitation jewellery, dresses, picture postcards, toys and souvenirs. The ‘dargah’ is also a favourite with photographers because of the sheer beauty of the place, especially the view of the sunset that is best enjoyed from the rocky edge behind the tomb.

Things to Do

Explore the capital of Maharashtra

Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra. It has numerous attractions for a visitor ranging from the museum visits to roadside shopping. The city is a paradise for such visitors. It truly is a city that does not sleep so it is worth exploring in the night too.

Visit Esselworld

Have a Fun day at the Esselworld which is one of India’s largest amusement parks. From rib tickling crazy cups and copper choppers to scary monsters in the mist as well as adrenaline charging rocking alleys and zipper drippers, you can spend an exciting day and spend quality time with the family.

Explore the Sanjay Gandhi National Park

On the periphery of Mumbai, this is a beautiful park where tranquility prevails and the flora and fauna are allowed to have a free hand. It offers to the tourists, naturalists, bird-watchers and environment researchers a fascinating treasure of wildlife and innumerable plants and trees. In fact, almost a quarter of India’s avifauna has made their home here, including many mammals such as the elusive leopard. The park also offers various activities like boating, trekking, safaris and even a toy train ride.

Explore the Mumbai caves

The Kanheri caves have the earliest images of the Buddha in South India and were made famous across the world because Chinese monk traveller Hiuen Tsang had visited the monastery in 7th century CE and is reported to have carried a wooden image of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara to China along with numerous Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts.

Known as Mandapeshvara, the caves at Borivali, are the final chapter in the history of cave architecture in Mumbai. Along with these, the caves at Mahakali, Magathne, Elephanta, Jogeshwari etc are the testimony of the city’s rich heritage.

Explore the Neighbourhood

Apart from the fact that there is the whole of Mumbai that you can enjoy during your visit to the Haji Ali Dargah, there are some places which are close by for a quick visit when you are in this area. One is the Mahalaxmi Temple dedicated to Mahalakshmi, the central deity of Devi Mahatmya. Built around 1785, the history of this temple is supposedly connected with the building of the Hornby Vellard. According to a legend, after portions of the sea wall of the Vellard collapsed twice, the chief engineer, Pathare Prabhu, dreamt of a goddess statue in the sea near Worli. A search recovered it, and he built a temple for it. The temple contains images of the goddesses Mahalakshmi, Mahakali and Mahasaraswati.

Also situated in this area is the Mahalaxmi Race Course which has been modelled on the Melbourne Race Course. The length of the track is 2,400 meters and it was built in 1883 on 225 acres of land facing the sea. And if your interest veers towards the skies and all that lies beyond earth, you must visit the Nehru Planetarium. Commissioned on March 3, 1977, it has grown into a centre for scientific study of astronomy and for meeting of scientists and scholars for discussions and lectures, arranged periodically on various stellar and astronomical events. The planetarium also has programmes aimed at inspiring students. These include special arrangements to watch, study, and photograph solar and lunar eclipses.

How to reach

Visitors can reach Haji Ali Dargah via the many modes of local transport available in Mumbai city – Metered taxies, B.E.S.T. city buses and Local trains are available. The nearest railway station is Mahalakshmi on the western line. Auto rickshaws ply in the suburbs of Mumbai only and will not come all the way to Haji Ali. One needs to take another mode of transport beyond Mahim / Sion when traveling into the city from the suburbs.

Image & Information copyright by maharashtratourism.gov.in

Global Vipassana Pagoda

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As an architectural wonder that helps promote peace and harmony, the Global Vipassana Pagoda near Gorai in Mumbai is a landmark monument that brings us closer to the philosophies and teachings of the great Buddha. It also has the distinction of being Asia’s tallest stone structure that majestically rises against the background of the shimmering waters of the Arabian Sea.

The Global Vipassana Pagoda has been the inspiration of the well known Vipassana meditation master Acharya S N Goenka and is representative of the teachings of Gautama Buddha. It is also an expression of the country’s heartfelt gratitude towards Emperor Ashoka and the chain of Buddhist masters starting from his teacher Moggaliputta Tissa up to the present day’s Burmese Vipassana masters like Ledi Sayadaw, Saya Thetgyi and Sayagi U Ba Khin for protecting, preserving and spreading Buddha’s teachings in India and abroad.

Built on the lines of famous Shwedegon Pagoda of Yangon, where the hair relic of the Buddha is enshrined, the Global Vipassana Pagoda houses genuine bone relics of Buddha. Some of these relics were found by the archaeology department of the imperial British government in the ruins of a ‘stupa’ in Bhattiprolu in southern India before the Second World War. They were then kept in the Museum of London and were returned to the Mahabodhi Society of India after the war. The Society presented them to Acharya Goenka to place in the Global Vipassana Pagoda for the benefit of the countless faithful who come here to meditate.

The monument is a three-storied huge hollow stone structure painted in a shining Thai golden paint. It is the world’s largest pillar-less dome especially designed for meditation. For this very reason, it is called the Vipassana Pagoda. Keeping in view the convenience of those who wish to meditate, the relics are enshrined in the centre of the middle dome and a revolving stage is created in the centre of the main dome at the ground level so that meditation can be done around it while listening to the sermons. It has the capacity of accommodating over 8,000 meditating people at a time.

The top key stone depicting the Dhamma Wheel suspended at a height of 90 feet weighs almost 4 tonnes. Besides the main pagoda there are two smaller pagodas of 60 feet height built on both sides in the north and south. The northern pagoda has a meditation hall used for teaching Anapana meditation to the general public whereas the southern pagoda contains 108 meditation cells. A grand Ashoka pillar with the Dhamma Wheel similar in shape and size to the original pillar in Sarnath has been constructed to the east of the Global Vipassana Pagoda.

The imposing complex houses a vipassana centre called Dhammapattana to the southwest of the main pagoda at the basement level where students’ courses of ten days’ duration are being conducted regularly since October 2007. The centre is well-equipped with 100 air-conditioned rooms and a meditation hall. Recently a research centre devoted to the study of Pali language and Buddha’s teachings has been established near it. There is also an audio-visual centre and a gallery of wall mounts and photographs adjacent to a book and souvenir shop. Service facilities such as rest-rooms, offices, quarters and a food court are located on the ground floor of the basement area.

Things to Do

Explore the capital of Maharashtra

Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra. It has numerous attractions for a visitor ranging from the museum visits to roadside shopping. The city is a paradise for such visitors. It truly is a city that does not sleep so it is worth exploring in the night too.

Visit Esselworld

Have a Fun day at the Esselworld which is one of India’s largest amusement parks. From rib tickling crazy cups and copper choppers to scary monsters in the mist as well as adrenaline charging rocking alleys and zipper drippers, you can spend an exciting day and spend quality time with the family.

Explore the Sanjay Gandhi National Park

On the periphery of Mumbai, this is a beautiful park where tranquility prevails and the flora and fauna are allowed to have a free hand. It offers to the tourists, naturalists, bird-watchers and environment researchers a fascinating treasure of wildlife and innumerable plants and trees. In fact, almost a quarter of India’s avifauna has made their home here, including many mammals such as the elusive leopard. The park also offers various activities like boating, trekking, safaris and even a toy train ride.

Explore the Mumbai caves

The Kanheri caves have the earliest images of the Buddha in South India and were made famous across the world because Chinese monk traveller Hiuen Tsang had visited the monastery in 7th century CE and is reported to have carried a wooden image of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara to China along with numerous Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts.

Known as Mandapeshvara, the caves at Borivali, are the final chapter in the history of cave architecture in Mumbai. Along with these, the caves at Mahakali, Magathne, Elephanta, Jogeshwari etc are the testimony of the city’s rich heritage.

Distance from Mumbai: 42 kms from the domestic airport terminal in Mumbai
Global Vipassana Pagoda is located in the southwest of Mumbai, near Gorai Beach.
From the Western Express Highway, head north towards Dahisar/Borivali/Ahmedabad.
For more information log onto: www.globalpagoda.org
Contact Details: Global Vipassana Pagoda, Next to Esselworld, Gorai Village,
Borivali (West), Mumbai 400091
Telephone: 91 22 33747501 (30 lines), 022 28451204 / 1170
Email: pr@globalpagoda.org

Titwala

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For all those who believe in the power of Lord Ganesh, regular visits to the Siddhivinayaka Mahaganapati Temple at Titwala is always high on the ‘faith’ list. The place is steeped in ancient legend and the temple is also frequented by those who believe that separated married couples can be united and the marriages of desired people can be arranged easily if the Ganesha image installed in the temple is worshipped with devotion.

Visited by thousands of devotees, particularly on Angarika Chaturthi – a Tuesday that follows on the fourth day of the lunar bright fortnight – the Siddhivinayaka Mahaganapati Temple at Titwala also witnesses a huge congregation during the occasions of Ganesh Chaturthi and Ganesh Jayanti. Another reason for its religious popularity is that Titwala is believed to be the putative site of the hermitage of sage Kanva, the foster parent of Shakuntala who was born here. Titwala is also an easy place to go to with its proximity to Mumbai. In fact, the domestic and international airports of Mumbai are just about 75 kilometers away.

There is a fascinating legend attached to this place. The village was part of the Dandakaranya forest where the Katkari tribe lived. Sage Kanva, who resided here, had adopted Shakuntala, who was abandoned immediately after her birth by her parents. King Dushyanta of Gandhara Kingdom while on a battle campaign was passing through the forests when he and Shakuntala fell in love with each other and got married according to the Gandharva rite in the hermitage. Since Dushyanta had to leave Shakuntala after some time due to unrest in his capital city, he gave Shakuntala a royal signet as a sign of their love, promising her that he would return for her.

Once, while Shakuntala was in the hermitage in pensive mood thinking about her husband Dushyanta, she did not pay the desired reverential attention to sage Durvasa who was visiting the place. Known for his short temper, he felt offended by this slight and cursed Shakuntala saying that the person she was dreaming of would forget about her altogether. Later, however, Durvasa toned down his curse to mean that the person who had forgotten Shakuntala would remember everything again if she showed him a personal token that had been given to her.

It is said that sage Kanva, realising the gravity of the issue faced by Shakuntala, directed her to build a shrine in honour of Lord Ganesha as Siddhivinayaka. He assured her that by her sincere prayers Siddhivinayaka would bless her and she would once again join her husband Dushyanta. This eventually came true after considerable effort and lapse of time and by which time Shakuntala who had conceived after marrying Dushyanta, also gave birth to a son who came to be known as Bharata.

The Siddhivinayaka Mahaganapati Temple built by Shakuntala with the stated legendary background was submerged under a tank. During the rule of Peshwa Madhavrao I, to resolve the drought situation in the town, the tank was de-silted to provide drinking water to the town. It was during the de-silting operations that the temple was found buried. The image of Ganesha was found by Ramchandra Mehendale. Soon thereafter, the renovation of the temple was undertaken and a stone temple was built. Peshwa Madhavrao I consecrated the ancient Ganesha image in this new temple, after the conquest of Vasai Fort. Initially, the temple was very small with a wooden ‘sabha mandap’, which was in a run-down condition. Since the temple had also degenerated over time, in 1965–66 renovation work was initiated again and a new temple was constructed at the same location.

Things to Do

Go Boating

There is a pond next to the temple complex which is surrounded by a garden. Peddle boats of two- and four-seater capacity are available here between 4 pm to 7 pm for recreation.

Visit Other Temples

There is another famous temple dedicated to Vithoba and his consort Rukmini in Titwala that is worth visiting. So also is the exquisitely carved Vithoba Temple at Shahad. Also called the Birla Mandir, it is 10 kilometers away from Titwala and accessible by train and road.

How to reach:

By Air:

The nearest airport is at Mumbai.

By Rail:

Titwala is a suburban railway station on central railway’s Mumbai-Kasara line.

By Road:

Drive through Kalyan-Shahpur-Titwala. State transport buses ply from Thane and Kalyan.

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Bhimashankar Temple

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A pristine natural environment with hills, waterfalls and forests; a wild life sanctuary and an ancient temple! Bhimashankar offers the ideal setting to find spirituality. It is also the perfect place for adventure lovers with a plethora of treks. Moreover this is where you can find the shekru the giant flying squirrel which is also the state animal of Maharashtra.

Nestled in dense forests, the Shiva temple in Bhimashankar is the sixth jyotirlinga and one of the most popular places for the worship of Lord Shiva. It is believed that the original temple of Bhimashankar was built in 12th century CE. However, no material remains dating to that period have been found since the temple has undergone many alterations over a period of time. The temple was renovated by Chimaji Antaji Bhide Naik in 1733 CE followed by some repair works by Dikhit Patwardhan in 1766 CE. A well was constructed in the complex by Raghunathrao Peshwa. The famous minister of the Peshwas, Nana Phadnavis carried out a lot of renovations, including the construction of the shikhara.

The present temple sanctum (garbhagriha) and the shikhara are built in the Nagara or Indo-Aryan style and have a strong influence of Rajasthan and Gujarat on the figurines and motifs of the temple. The exterior walls of the sanctum are adorned with scenes from the Ramayana, Krishna Leela, Shiv Leela and Dashavataras. Inscriptions in the courtyard give a record of grants given and a large bell confiscated from the Vasai fort by the Maratha Commander Chimaji Appa hangs in front of the sabhamandapa.

Bhimashankar is also the perfect place to combine adventure and trekking. Monsoon is a good season to enjoy the region’s stunning natural beauty.

Things to Do

Visit the Chas Kaman Dam

This dam is a very important Hydel power projects in the country and one of the important dams of Maharashtra. Built on the Bhima river amidst picturesque settings, this place with the dam and it’s backwaters is an ideal monsoon retreat.

Explore the Wilderness

The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is part of the Western Ghats recognised as one of the 12 biodiversity hotspots of the world. It is home to a large diversity of endemic and specialised flora and fauna. It is also an important catchment area which feeds the rivers Bhima and Ghod that flow downstream. The Forest Interpretation Centre equipped with a library and nature-related guidance and interpretation, is a wonderful place for children and adults alike to learn about nature and adventure.

Go Trekking

Bhimashankar is a trekker’s delight. It is surrounded by innumerable forts of varying heights and varying degrees of difficulty. To name just a few of them – Shivneri, Kothaligad, Padargad, Siddhagad all provide for adventure and excitement to refresh yourself from the urban chaos.

Study About Sacred Groves

There are about 14 sacred groves or ‘Devrais’ as they are called in local parlance, in this area. Forest patches are earmarked as sacred in order to protect endemic species of flora and fauna and often for water security. They provide a rich environment for study of ecological and cultural heritage.

Discover Other Treasures

The entire region is a tourist’s delight. From the scenic Malshej ghat to the historic Junnar caves, there exist innumerable possibilities for a memorable holiday.

How to reach:

By Air and Rail:

Bhimashankar is 213 km from Mumbai and 110 kms from Pune. The nearest airport is Pune and so is the railway station.

By Road:

You can take the route of Pune-Rajgurunagar-Manchar- Ghodegaon–Pokhari Ghat Bhimashankar. State Transport buses are available at regular intervals from the Shivajinagar Bus Terminus and the last bus is at 5 pm. Private transport is more convenient if you would like to visit places around Bhimashankar.

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Theur

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One of the ‘ashtavinyaka’ (8 Ganeshas) temples of Maharashtra, the Chintamani Mandir of Theur is located 25 kilometers from Pune and is one of the larger and more famous of the eight revered shrines of Ganesha. Surrounded by the Mula river on three sides, it is just adjacent to the Pune-Solapur national highway.

The legend attached to this place says that in ancient times there was a king named Abhijit who was ruling this region along with his wife Gunavati. They both were worried because they did not have a child. With strong penance in the jungle they got a boon in the form of a son whose name was Gana. He was strong but arrogant. Once he went to the ashram of Kapilmuni where he saw the jewel named Chintamani. He asked for that jewel but was refused and hence he forcefully took it from Kapilmuni. The Rishi prayed to Durga Devi, and as per her order he prayed to Vinayak, who assured the Rishi that he would get the stolen jewel back. Vinayak fought Gana and retrieved the jewel Chintamani from him and returned it to the Rishi. But the Rishi was unhappy and asked Vinayak to settle at the place. Vinayak agreed and settled there in the name of Chintamani under the kadamb tree where all these incidences occurred. The habitation around the kadamb tree was known as kadambpur which is now called as a Theur. There are many more legends related to Indra, Brahmadev, king Nal which are attached to this place.

This temple was constructed by Shri Dharanidhar Dev, son of Shri Moraya gosavi. Shrimant Madhavrav Peshwa built the sabha mandapa after about 100 years. Then onwards Haripant Phadake and some Ganesha devotees made some alterations to the temple. Chimaji Appa the younger brother of Bajirao Peshwa offered a big bell which he got from Vasai as a memento of his victory. Shri Moraya Gosavi performed penance at Theur and it is said that Ganesha met him in the form of a tiger.

The temple’s main gate located to the north is relatively smaller compared to the scale of the temple. The central icon of Chintamani-Ganesha faces east. The hall also has a black stone water fountain. Besides the central shrine dedicated to Ganesha, there are a number of smaller shrines in the temple complex, including the Mahadeva Mandir, Vishnu-Lakshmi Mandir, Hanuman Mandir, etc. Behind the temple is the Peshwa Wada. It was once the residence of Madhavrao. Like other ashtavinyaka icons, the central icon of Ganesha is considered self-manifested and therefore there are hardly any features except for the head studded with jewel eyes and trunk.

Ganesha utsav is performed at Theur in the month of Bhadrapad and in Magh. A fair is arranged on this occasion. One more important festival celebrated at Theur is on kartik vadya 8 as per Hindu calendar which is the death anniversary of Shrimant Madhavrav Peshwa and his wife Ramabai saheb.

Things to Do

Carvings at Bhuleshwar

A Yadava period Shiva temple is situated on a hill at Bhuleshwar. One can see here intricate carvings in stone. The icons of ‘sursundaris’, different deities and a huge Nandi create the spiritual ambience of the place. A unique feature of this temple is that the Ganesha icon is in the form of a lady seen on the corridor wall of the temple. In the medieval period the temple was secured by fortification and was known as Daulatmangal Fort.

Pune

Known as the cultural capital of Maharashtra as also for its industry and academics, Pune is where you should ideally stay for a visit to Jejuri. The city has a lot to offer by way of entertainment, cuisine and a curious mix of the old and new styles of architecture. Some of the places of tourist interest include the Aga Khan Palace, Dagduseth Ganpati, Sarasbaug, Empress Garden, National Defence Academy, Sinhagad, Shanwarwada, Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum, etc.

How to reach:

By Air:

The nearest airport is at Pune

By Rail:

The nearest railway station is at Pune which is 25 kms away from here.

By Road:

Theur is adjacent to the Pune-Solapur highway and hence is very much approachable. The Pune municipal transport buses ply from Mahatma Gandhi bus stand (Pool gate) regularly to Theur.

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Sundarbans National Park

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Sunderbans national park is located at the South Eastern tip of the 24 Paraganas district in the state of West Bengal, India. It is a National Park, tiger reserve, and a Biosphere Reserve in the Sundarbans delta. It got its name from one of the mangrove plants known as Sundari (Heritiera Minor). The mangrove forests are a part of the greater Sundarbans and lies in close proximity to the Sundarbans reserve forests in the neighboring republic of Bangladesh.  It contains the world’s largest area of mangrove forests. They are constituted by the crisscrossing of 54 small islands along with numerous River Ganges tributaries. Sundarbans National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Southeast Bengal in India, which is formed by three rivers named Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. It is considered as a World Network of Biosphere Reserve (Man and Biosphere Reserve) in 2001.

Sundarbans Sundarbans National Park, the land where entire wildlife  embroidered to the perfection, is situated in South 24 Parganas at the  most charismatic location of Sundarban delta which is largest delta of the world. The total area of the Indian part of the Sundarban forest, lying within the latitude between 21°13′-22°40′ North and longitude 88°05′-89°06′ East, is about 4,262 sq km, of which 2,125 sq km is occupied by mangrove forest across 56 islands and the balance is under water. 

Today this tiger conservation effort in the Sunderban area is really rocking the dense masses with the exemplified glaring of royal tigers in Bengal. It is estimated that there are now 400 Royal Bengal tigers and about 30,000 spotted deer in the area. The forest is called ‘Sunderban’due to the rich growth of Sundari trees.

Flora:

Tiger_Sundarbans_Tiger_Reserve_22.07.2015 Sundarbans-national-park The mangrove vegetation of Sundarbans has 64 plant species with the capacity to withstand estuarine conditions and saline showering on account of tidal effects. There is mangrove scrub forest, salt water mixed forest, brackish water mixed forest and alluvial grasslands. Due to the dense and huge forest reserve, Sundarbans has also been classified as a World Biosphere Reserve. The crab-like red flowers of the kankra and the yellow flowers of khalsi can be seen. Some of the other commonly found plants and trees in the park are dhundal , passur, garjan,  sundari and goran. The forest in the Sunderbans mainly consists of Saline Water Type Mixed Forest, Tidal Swamp Forest, Brackish Water and Palm Forests. In general 64 various species of Flora has been discovered in the deltaic Sunderbans. 

Fauna:

SUNDARBANS_3 Sundarbans (Sundari Trees) The Sundarbans forest is home to more than 400 tigers. This area has a silent charm that manages to amaze one with the simplicity and naturalness of its ecological balance in spite of offering habitat to some of the most dynamic and awe inspiring fauna. it was discovered that the Bangladeshi part of the Sunderbans supports diverse biological resources that includes 150 species of commercially important fishes, 270 species of birds, 42 species of mammals, 35 reptiles and 8 amphibian species. The royal Bengal tigers have developed a unique characteristic of swimming in the saline waters, and are famous for their man-eating tendencies. Tigers can be seen on the river banks sunbathing between November and February. Apart from the Bengal tiger, Fishing cats, Leopard cats, Macaques, Wild boar, Indian grey mongoose, Fox, Jungle cat, Flying fox, Pangolin, Chital, are also found in abundance in the Sundarbans. Some of the aquatic animals found in the park are sawfish, butter fish, electric rays, silver carp, starfish, common carp, horseshoe crabs, prawn, shrimps, Gangetic dolphins, skipping frogs, common toads and tree frogs.

Summers could be quite hot and send the temperature shooting up, but are an ideal time to visit the wildlife sanctuary. The monsoons with full generosity in showers may make travelling a little difficult but the lush green surroundings might just make up for it. The best time to visit Sunderbans is during winters between December and February.although the park is open for longer from September to March. This is the period when the maximum migratory birds are also present here.

How To Reach:

By Air: The nearest airport is Dum Dum Airport Kolkata (166 km), which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Rail: The nearest railway station is Canning (48 km), regular local trains running between Canning and Kolkata.

By Road: Sundarban National Park is well connected with Kolkata – Basanti High way.

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Siddhatek

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One of the ‘ashtavinayaka’ (8 Ganeshas) temples in Maharashtra, the Siddhi Vinayak Mandir of Siddhatek is the only one in the Ahmednagar district. Located on the northern bank of the river Bhima in the Karjat taluka, it is close to the railway station of Daund and is accessible from the small village of Shirapur in Pune district, on the southern bank of the river, from where it can be reached by boat or a newly constructed bridge. The temple stands on a hillock, surrounded by thick foliage of Babul trees, which also makes it a tourist destination.

According to legend, Lord Brahma was inflated with pride, considered himself as the supreme God and started creating the earth. A number of obstacles blocked his creation. He then invoked Lord Ganesha, worshipped him at Siddhatek and received blessings from him. Then onwards his work went on smoothly.

According to the Mudgal Purana, at the beginning of the creation of the universe, the creator, Brahma, emerged from a lotus while Vishnu slept in his ‘yoganidra’. When Brahma started creating the universe, two demons, Madhu and Kaitabha, rose from the dirt in Vishnu’s ear. The demons disturbed Brahma’s process of creation, thereby compelling Vishnu to wake up from his deep slumber. Vishnu therefore pitched a battle against the demons but could not defeat them since he had not invoked Ganesha – the god of beginning and obstacle removal – before the fight. Therefore Vishnu performed penance at Siddhatek, invoking Ganesha with his mantra – “Om Sri Ganeshaya Namah”. Pleased, Ganesha bestowed his blessings and various ‘siddhis’ (powers) on Vishnu, who returned to fight the demons and eventually slayed them. The place where Vishnu acquired ‘siddhis’ was thereafter known as Siddhatek.

The sanctum of the temple was built by Ahilyabai Holkar, the queen of Indore and Sardar Haripant Phadke, an official with the Peshwa rulers, built the Nagarkhana – a chamber which stored ‘nagaras’ (kettle drums) and a paved pathway to the main door of the temple. The idol of Ganesha is seated on a throne and is 3 ft high. The outer ‘sabha-mandapa’ (hall) – previously built by Mairal, a landlord from Baroda – was broken in 1939 and rebuilt in 1970.

The place is also famous as Shri Moraya Gosavi performed severe penance here and is supposed to have been given the order by Ganesha to go to Morgaon. Narayan Maharaj of Kedgaon also achieved siddhi here because of strong penance. Sardar Peshwa Shri Haripant Phadke performed worship for 21 days and wrote some 21 chants in praise of Ganesha which are sung regularly in this temple.

A unique feature of the deity here is that Ganesha’s trunk is turned to the right. Usually, the trunk of Ganesha is depicted turned to his left. It is believed that the right-trunked Ganesha is very powerful, but difficult to please. The temple is thus considered as a ‘jagrut kshetra’ where the deity is said to be highly powerful. The temple, constructed in black stone, faces north. The ‘garbhagriha’ (sanctum) is 15 feet high and 10 feet wide. It has the ‘Jaya-Vijaya’ – the gatekeepers of Vishnu’s abode – brass sculptures flanking the central icon of Siddhi Vinayaka.

The festivals on bhadrapad and magh chaturthi are celebrated on a large scale at Siddhatek. A festival and fair is also held on Vijayadashami and Somavati Amavasya, a no-moon day that falls on a Monday.

Things to Do

Deepmalas of Rashin

A beautiful temple of Goddess Yamai at Rashin is just 22 kilometers from Siddhatek. There are two big ‘deepmalas’ erected on the temple premises. A wooden handle is fixed on the top of one of the deepmalas and when operated, the deepmalas start leaning on both the sides – an architectural wonder! There are two rock inscriptions written in the Devnagari script. Rashin is the native place of the famous Peshwa personality, Antaji Manakeshwar, reference to whom can be found in one of the five inscriptions carved here.

How to reach:

By Air:

The nearest airport is at Pune

By Rail:

The nearest railway station is at Daund on the central railway which is 16 kms away from here. Trains plying from Pune to Delhi and to the south stop at Daund.

By Road:

Lot of state transport buses ply from Pune, Daund, Patas, Rashin, Shrigonda to this holy place Siddhatek. From Pune buses are available from Shivaji Nagar bus station.

Image & Information copyright by maharashtratourism.gov.in

Mehrangarh Fort

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Mehrangarh Fort, located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, is one of the largest forts in India. It is also the most magnificent fort in Jodhpur, intact, in the whole Rajasthan. The fort was built by Rao Jodha in 1459 when he transferred his capital from Mandore, the fort is situated 410 feet (125 m) above the city and is enclosed by imposing thick walls.  Its immense size makes it one of the largest forts in India and it has been designated as “the work of giants” by Rudyard Kipling. The Fort houses a number of palaces inside its premises; these palaces display some of the fine Rajputana art works and carvings on their walls.  

Jodhpur_mehrangarh_fort The fort has seven gates of which the noted ones are the Jayapol meaning victory, built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806; Fatehpol or the Victory Gate built by Maharaja Ajit Singh; and the Lohapol or the Iron Gate. The fort has seven gates of which the noted ones are the Jayapol, built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806; Fatehpol or the Victory Gate built by Maharaja Ajit Singh; and the Lohapol or the Iron Gate. Other attractions of Mehrangarh Fort, Rajasthan include several palaces inside the fort, with their sprawling and huge courtyards. The museum in the Mehrangarh fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan. In one section of the fort museum there is a selection of old royal palanquins, including the elaborate domed gilt Mahadol palanquin which was won in a battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730. The museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms.

History:

Mehrangarh_Fort,_Jodhpur,_India Rao Jodha, the chief of the Rathore clan, is credited with the origin of Jodhpur in India. He founded Jodhpur in 1459  which is previously know as marwar. Jodhpur Mehrangarh Fort History is related to Rao Jodha. He became the fifteenth Rathore ruler in 1459.  One year after his accession to the throne, Jodha decided to move his capital to the safer location of Jodhpur, as the one thousand years old Mandore fort was no longer considered to provide sufficient security. The one thousand years old Mandore fort was slowly and gradually deteriorating. This led to the foundation of Mehrangarh Fort. Mehrangarh – a word for ‘fort of the sun’ – was chosen as the name of this massive structure that is 500 yards long and features 120-feet high and 70-feet thick walls. The eventful history, well-preserved heritage and impressive architecture of this fort make it the face of Jodhpur on national as well as global platform. 

Architecture:

Carved_balcony,_Mehrangarh_Fort Decorated_room,_Mehrangarh_Fort,_Jodhpur,_Rajasthan,_India Mehrangarh Fort is the crowning glory of Jodhpur, a majestic fortress perched proudly on a rocky hillock. It’s a historic monument blessed with jaw-dropping architecture, fine art and exquisite ornamentation. The fort has 68-ft wide and 117-ft elevated walls which overlook the surrounding plain.  the first of the fort’s seven defensive gates. The sixth of the seven gates, Loha Pol, has a sharp right-angle turn and sharper iron spikes to hinder the ascent of charging enemy elephants. the most famous among them is the Jayapol (meaning victory). This gate was constructed by Maharaja Man Singh to celebrate his triumph over the armies of Jaipur and Bikaner. The second one, Fattepol, was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to commemorate the defeat of the Mughals. The palm imprints on these gates are the centre of attraction of tourists even today. 

Within the fort are several brilliantly crafted and decorated palaces. These include, Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesha Mahal (Mirror Palace), Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana. The museum houses a collection of palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniatures, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. The ramparts of the fort house preserved old cannon (including the famous Kilkila), and provided a breath-taking view of the city. A large part of the Mehrangarh Fort has been converted into a heritage museum, which is one of the finest museums across the country.

Ticket is not need to enter the fort. A ticket is needed only to enter the museum section and the Chokelao Bagh. And every year on May 12, the foundation day of the fort, entry remains free. Fees for Indian are 60 rupees and for Foreigners 300 rupees.

How To Reach:

By Air: Jodhpur has domestic airport which is around 5km away from the city. Flights to Jaipur, Delhi, Udaipur, and Mumbai can be taken from here.  The nearest International airport is Jaipur. 

By Rail: Jodhpur railway station is well connected to all major city of India. 

By Road: Jodhpur is well-connected with national and state highways that connect cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Udaipur and Jaipur.

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Lenyadri

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Among the ‘ashtavinayakas’ (8 Ganeshas) of Maharashtra, references of Lenyadri can be found in the ‘Ganesh Purana’ as a Jeernapur or Lekhanparvat. These are Buddhists caves carved out in the hills near Junnar. In one of these caves is an image Girijatmaj Ganesh which is very unique among all the ashtavinayakas since it has been carved out of the cave wall and can be seen from the rear only.

According to a legend from the Puranas, Parvati, daughter of Himavana, desired Vinayaka to be her son. To fulfill this wish she rendered penance in the cave of Lenyadri for 12 years. During this time she created an image of Ganesh from clay and started worshipping it. Lord Ganesh was pleased and stood in front of Parvati in the form of a small child. The child had six hands, three eyes and a beautiful body. Further, this child, called Girijatmaj Ganesh, performed penance for a furthermore 12 years and it is said that in his childhood he defeated many demons and protected the ‘rishis’ from trouble. He also tamed Shesh, Yama and Indra at Lenyadri and stayed here for another 15 years before vanishing from the cave.

To visit Lenyadri, located about 8 kilometers from Junnar, you have to climb 283 steps carved out of stone. The shrine here is nothing but a rock-cut cave at the entrance of which are eight pillars with carvings of elephants and lions. Next to these pillars is a big hall. In the south-facing cave there are 18 niches carved on the right side of the sanctum. Here, there is no separate image of Ganesh but a rock-cut image on one wall which is adorned with ‘sindoor’. Devotees can only see the back of Ganesh. Assuming that the face can be seen from the other side of the hill, there are some who have tried to traverse the hill. However, this is dangerous, especially because of the many honeycombs on the hill.

There are two small water cisterns near the temple cave. Descending a few steps on the western side will bring you to a ‘stupa’, known as the mace of Bhima, the hero from the legend of ‘Mahabharata’. On the top of this hill is a small and tiny shrine of Shiva, called Hatakeshwar, which is also a favourite with trekkers. The rituals at Lenyadri are performed by the Chinchwad Trust and a festival is celebrated on the 4th day of the Hindu months Bhadrapad and Magh. These include religious rituals like ‘sahastravartan’, ‘kirtan’ and ‘mahapooja’.

Things to Do

Fort Shivneri

This is the birthplace of the Maratha ruler Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and is just 8 kilometers from Lenyadri. You will find here an impressive statue of child Shivaji with his mother Jijabai. The temple of Shivai Devi, the goddess the fort, can be seen en route. While climbing the fort one has to cross seven doorways. There is also another route called the ‘Sakhalichi Vaat’. You will also come across some ancient rock-cut caves while climbing up the fort.

Nane Ghat

This is a part of an ancient trade route that begins from Pratishthan (Paithan) and goes to Shurparaka (Nalasopara). It has a huge rock-cut cave carved out by the Satavahana queen Naganika. There is an inscription in the Brahmi script on the three walls of this cave which enumerates the different sacrifices (yajnyas)’ performed by the queen and the list of donations given at that time. Naneghat is a trekkers’ paradise and also worth a visit are the forts of Jeevdhan, Chavand and Hadsar in its vicinity. A village called Poor, 15 kilometers from Naneghat, has a temple called as Kukadeshvar which is known for its sculptures carved out in stone.

Khodad

The place is known for having the world’s largest giant meter wave radio telescope (GMRT). Located about 20 kilometers from Lenyadri, the telescope has 30 antennas, each with a diameter of 45 meters.

Ozar, another Ganesha from the Ashtavinayak is just 10 kms away from Lenyadri. Also in the vicinity is the picturesque Malshej Ghat and the fort of Narayangad

How to reach:

By Air:

The nearest airport is at Pune

By Rail:

The nearest railway station is Pune.

By Road:

There are ample buses available for Junnar from Pune and Mumbai. Lenyadri is just 8 kms. From Junnar and the state transport buses as well as private vehicles are available in ample numbers.

Image & Information copyright by maharashtratourism.gov.in

Parali Vaijnath Temple

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A renowned town in Beed district, Parali is identified by the presence of the Vaijnath Temple, a ‘jyotirlinga’ temple on a small hill that attracts a large number of devotees all through the year. Parali is also known for a thermal power station. That apart, the small town provides a unique flavour of a laid-back atmosphere that is in stark contrast to the ‘life in a fast lane’ culture of most metro cities.

Out of the 12 ‘jyotirlingas’ of Lord Shiva, five are situated in Maharashtra. Parali Vaijanath is one of them. Being popular as a ‘jyotirlinga’ it attracts a constant stream of devotees throughout the year and especially so in the Hindu calendar month of Shravan when pilgrims come here to have ‘darshan’ of the auspicious ‘shivlinga’. Parali is a taluka in Beed district and is primarily known for the temple. Known as the Vaijanath Temple, it is built out of stone on a small hill and is surrounded by a wall that protects it from all sides.

Facing towards the east, the temple has two doors in the south and north directions. At the entrance is a large hall constructed out of teak wood. The complex has a spacious courtyard and a big corridor for circumambulation of the temple. While the exact date of the building of the temple is not known, experts feel that it belongs to the Yadava period that goes back to 12th or 13th century CE. There are records stating that the temple was renovated in the year 1706. The aesthetical and architectural beauty of the temple is enhanced with some ponds around the temple which too have religious significance. One of them is Harihara Teerth, the water of which is poured over the Shivlinga every Monday. This place defines the assimilation of the Shaiva and Vaishnava sects.

As is the case with any temple, the Vaijnath Temple too has its share of mythological tales. One such is the story of Satyavan and Savitri that is said to have taken place at Parali. Another story is that of Lord Vishnu helping the gods to obtain nectar from this region. There is also the legend from the Ramayana about Ravana halting here while on his way to Lanka with the Shivlinga. It is said that to be able to relieve himself, Ravana asked a herdsman to hold the Shivlinga for a while. However, the boy was unable to do so for long and placed it on earth, which is how the jyotirlinga happens to be here. The belief is that Shiva decided to reside here in the form of Vaidyanatheshwar. Even the story of Markandeyanugraha is said to have taken place at Parali.

Celebrations take place at Parali on several auspicious occasions such as Gudi Padawa, Vijaya Dashami, Tripuri Pournima and Mahashivaratri. Parali is well-connected by road from Beed, Parbhani and Ahmednagar. Parali is a railway station on the South Central Railway. State transport buses too are easily available from all over Maharashtra to Parali. Since this is a prominent pilgrimage centre, there are ample lodging facilities in the town and the Vaidyanath Mandir Committee has their own Bhakta Niwas and Yatri Niwas where rooms are available at very affordable rates.

How to reach:

By Air:

The nearest airport is at Aurangabad.

By Rail:

Parali Vaijanath is the nearest rail head.

By Road:

State transport buses ply regularly from Parbhani, Latur, Nanded, Pune and Mumbai.

Image & Information copyright by maharashtratourism.gov.in

Aundhya Nagnath

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One of the most popular places on the pilgrimage circuit of Maharashtra, the temple of Aundhya Nagnath is not just famous for its rock-cut images but also for the fact that it is considered to be the eighth (‘aadya’) of the 12 ‘jyotirlingas’ in the country. The mythological name for this place is Darukavana and the highly decorated temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is a sight to behold.

Aundhya Nagnath is located in the Hingoli district of Marathwada and the present temple is said to have been built by the Yadavas of Devgiri, dating back to 13th century CE. The temple covers an area of about 7,000 square feet and the total area of the temple complex is about 60,000 square feet. Apart from its religious significance, the temple itself is worth seeing for its amazingly beautiful carvings. The temple architecture is said to be of Hemadpanti style i.e. the construction without mortar, and has on the exterior numerous images of Shiva, including Anugraha (blessing) and Sanhaar (destroying). Stories from the different ‘Puranas’, Ramayana and the Mahabharata are depicted on the temple walls.

The name of the place has been derived from a mythological tale. Daruka was a demon who used to trouble the residents of the area, making their lives miserable. The hermits prayed to Lord Shiva who granted them their wish of destroying the demon. It is said that before she died, the demon repented her deeds and requested Shiva that her name be remembered forever and be associated with that place. Shiva agreed and hence the name Darukavan.

The temple has intricate images of Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and other deities. The main ‘garbhgruha’ (sanctum) is underground and it was probably built this way to save the temple from the invaders of that time. Upon entering the ‘sabhagruha’ you have to descend a few steps through a narrow channel of rock-cut steps. There is a chamber here that consists of four pillars in the midst of which is a ‘Shivlinga’ that is worshipped as the main deity. Some people believe, however, that Aundhya Nagnath does not have the real ‘Jyotirlinga’. But this is more a matter of belief and pilgrims continue to come here in large numbers.

The temple also has contemporary relevance due to its association with the famous saint poet Namdev. It was here that he met his guru, Visoba Khechar. Namdev was advised by Sant Dnyaneshwar to visit this temple and when he did so, he found Visoba resting with his feet on the sacred Shivlinga. Namdev asked him not to do so and in reply Visoba asked the saint-poet to place his feet where there would be no shivlinga. Namdev tried to put Visoba’s feet in many other places but each time he did so, ashivlinga would spring up. Thus the whole sanctum was filled with shivalingas and with this Visoba taught Namdev the omnipresence of god.

Aundhya Nagnath is easily accessible with state transport buses plying regularly from Parbhani, Aurangabad, and Hingoli. Parbhani is the nearest big town, about 50 kilometers away. The nearest railhead is also Parbhani. In terms of accommodation, there are limited lodging facilities at Aundhya Nagnath. It is therefore advisable to stay at Parbhani.

Things to Do

Hit the Holy Trail in Parbhani

There are many notable temples in Parbhani, which include Shree Motha Maruti (a temple of Lord Hanuman), Shree Supari Hanuman Mandir, Ashtbhuja Mandir, Pardeshwar Temple and the Beleshwar Mahadev Temple, known for the worship of Lord Mahadev (also known as Bhagwan Shankar). The Naag Temple is also present in Parbhani, near the Temple of Lord Shani. Shri Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple at Vidyanagar is one of the important and famous temples in the city. Recently a temple of Goddess Maata Hingulambika has been constructed by the Bhavsar community behind Shri Datta Dham on Vasmath Road. The ‘dargah’ of Hazarat Turabul Haq Shah is also located in Parbhani. It consists of the tomb of this saint who lived here during the last days of his life.

See More Rock Images

Just 8 kilometers from Aundha Nagnath is Rajapur, where in a small temple you can see the rock-cut images of Saraswati, Narsimha and Ardhanarishwara. These are beautifully carved out of stone and adorned with ornaments.

How to reach:

By Air:

The nearest airport is at Aurangabad.

By Rail:

The nearest rail head is at Parbhani which is at 51kms from Aundhya Nagnath.

By Road:

State transport buses ply regularly from Parbhani, Latur, and Nanded.

Image & Information copyright by maharashtratourism.gov.in

Khasi Hills

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The Khasi Hills are part of the Garo-Khasi range in the Indian state of Meghalaya , and is part of the Patkai range and of the Meghalaya subtropical forests ecoregion. It is perhaps best known for Sohra (Cherrapunjee), geographically famous for being the wettest place on earth and also Shillong, one of the most beautiful hill stations in India. The area consists mostly of hilly regions and includes the Shillong Plateau; it is drained by tributaries of the Brahmaputra and Surma rivers. The region is inhabited mainly by tribal Khasi dwellers, which are traditionally in various chieftainships, states known as the Khasi Hill States. One of its capitals, Cherrapunji, is considered one of the wettest places in the world which receives rainfall throughout the year. The capital city of Shillong which is the most popular tourist attraction is also a part of the Khasi Hills. The hill region is divided into broad parts further into East Khasi and West Khasi out of which the East Khasi Hills District is the most famous and most beautiful too. South West Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya is known for it’s scenic beauty and green vallies. These hills are famous for their tourist friendly environs and are a lovely place to explore. 

South West Khasi Hill tours are the picture perfect destination trips in Meghalaya with numerous travel attractions and places to visit.

Umiam Lake:

Umiam_Lake,_Shillong,_Meghalaya,_India It was made by damming the Umiam waterway in the mid 1960s. The chief catchment range of the lake and dam is spread more than 220 square km. More popularly known as Barapani, this is the biggest artificial lake in the State. The highest portion of the hill mass that comprises most of Meghalaya. Surrounded by sylvan hills and wrapped in the beauty of an assortment of green Khasi-pines and the azure blue skies is the majestic Umiam lake. The lake situated just 15 km from Shillong on the Guwahati-Shillong National Highway has left a lasting impression on each and every person who has come to this lake. The Water Sports Complex situated in the lake provides a choice of row-boats, paddle-boats, cruise boats, sailing boats, water scooters and speed boats.

Elephant Falls:

Elephant_falls-_at_Meghalaya Elephant Falls, the Three Steps Waterfalls as it is originally called, is located 12 km from the capital city.  This waterfall was originally named Kshaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew, which means a three-step waterfall in local parlance.  This beautiful region is famed for its sapphire blue skies, thick pine groves, stunning landscapes and valleys, British style houses along the meandering streets and clouds caressing the hills. its scenic beauty has earned it a huge number of admirers, especially couples and families. Its crystal clear white water and the nearby greenery creates a dreamy world which is worth clicking. The rainy season brings more life to the already energetic waterfalls and you will see the falls in full vigor. 

Lady Hydari Park:

Shillong_golf_course2 Lady Hydari Park is a verdant tract that stretches up to a kilometre in the heart of Shillong.  It is named in the memory of Lady Hydari, who was the wife of Assam’s erstwhile Governor. Established and maintained by the Forest Department, this park incorporates a mini zoo, a deer park, and an open area for children to play. The vast stretches of rose-beds make it strikingly beautiful.  There is also a museum in a small house located inside the park. The rich biodiversity of Meghalaya has been showcased in this museum, which includes photos of rare species, stuffed leopard, dried skin of python, and skulls of elephant.

Laitlum Canyons:

images (1) A paradise by every definition, Laitlum canyons in the Khasi Hills gives you panoramic views of the hills and valleys. This hilltop is carpeted with lush greenery and covered with dense mist, which together make it a hidden paradise in the hilly state of Meghalaya. This is a must visit destination and should make it to your bucket list when you’re in Meghalaya!  You will have breathtaking views of valleys and surrounding hills from here. Trekkers are in for great exercise and even if you are not one, you are going to love every minute of it.

How To Reach:

By Air: The nearest airporrt is Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport Guwahati (132 km), which is well connected to all major city of India. 

By Rail: The nearest railway station is Guwahati(132 km), which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Road: One can easily get around in the state by hiring a cab at affordable rates or through state run buses which ply to almost all major tourist destinations in the hill ranges.

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