Vajreshwari

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Vajreshwari, the town named after the temple dedicated to goddess Vajreshwari Devi is known for its curative hot water springs emerging from the surrounding volcanic mountains. Vajreshwari Devi is an incarnation of goddess paravati. The ancient temple was supposed to have been built with the belief of the slaying of demon Kalikuli by the goddess. The temple was destroyed during the Portuguese invasion. Present temple is supposed to have been built in the year 1738 by Chimmaji Appa Peshwa, military commander of Peshwa Baji Rao I, who fought and won the Bassein (Vasai) Fort from the Portuguese. The temple is built like a fort.

The temple is located on the bank of Tansa River at the foothills of the Mandagiri hillock, which is supposed to have been formed out of volcanic eruptions, so as the surrounding hills. Due to proximity to the volcanic sites, hot water springs, scientifically attributed to volcanic activity, are spotted in and around the town. Hot springs rich in Sulphur and other minerals attract many visitors for a healthy dip throughout the year. Scenic surrounding made of the mountains, river and the forest adds to the visitors’ delight.

Pilgrims who visit the temple also have a holy bath in the springs, which are referred to as kundas in Sanskrit and are named after Hindu deities like Surya (sun-god), Chandra(moon-god), Agni (fire-god), Vayu (wind-god), Rama (Vishnu’s incarnation), Sita (Rama’s wife and incarnation of goddess Lakshmi – wife of Vishnu) and Lakshmana (Rama’s brother). Temple and the holy dips have converted the place into a pilgrimage center. Many small resorts, guesthouses and home stays offer accommodation and day change facilities for these pilgrims.

Tansa River, that supplies water to Greater Mumbai, has incorporated hot springs within its flow g through the town and people also bathe in the river for its healing properties. Local cuisine and culture can be enjoyed in the town that is a typical Marathi bastion with some some tribes of the neighboring forest.

The temple is surrounded by a stone wall like a fort. Fifty-two stone steps are to be climbed to reach the main shrine. A golden tortoise is carved on one of the steps and worshipped as Kurma, the tortoise incarnation of Vishnu.

Other sightseeing places in and around Vajreshwari Devi temple are Akloli’s ancient Shiva temple, Saibaba temple, Nityanand Swami Ashram, Shri. Gurudev Ashram, Parshuram Mandir, Akloli Kund and Pelhar Lake which is 3 kms from Vajreshwari Devi Temple.

Things to Do

Vasai Fort

Vasai fort, also known as Bassein fort, is situated about 48 kms north of Mumbai just across the Ulhas River. The fort built during Portuguese dynasty in 1535 was the inspiration for Vajreshwari temple’s architecture. There are seven churches and three chapels in the fort that has two gates-towards the East and the West. The fort incorporates fields that are used for growing grains and vegetables. Vasai fort served Portuguese as the headquarters of their Indian operations. Westward bound Mumbai local train can be taken to reach Vasai. The fort is about a 30 minutes drive away from Vasai Station (West).

Akloli

Akloli Kund at Akloli is another popular spot for dips. Main springs within the temple complex here are channeled into three neatly constructed cement tanks decorated with colourful tiles. Each pond has water of varying temperatures. The springs are surrounded by an ancient Shiva temple and a Saibaba temple. Being holy, the place is kept clean and hygienic. Ganeshpuri near Akloli has the ashram of late Swami Nithyananda, a learned guru.

Suruchi Beach

Suruchi Beach is an environment friendly clean beach in Vasai. Arnala Beach is a beautiful beach which has become one of the major attractions of the town today. The beach is surrounded by few magnificent churches. Vasai town would never ever get complete without this splendid beach, which has been attracting tourists from far and wide.

Kelva Beach

Kelva Beach – also known as Virgin Beach, it is a long (about 7 km) stretch of beautiful cost line of Arabian Sea surrounded by abundant Suru trees. It is located 8 kms from Palghar and 85 kms from Mumbai and can be reached by local train. Kelva has a fort and Sheetala Devi temple.

Jivdani Mata Mandir

Jivdani Mata Mandir at Virar is a popular temple of goddess Jivdani, built on a mountain. A climb of 1000 steps takes a visitor up to the temple. The mountain is also used by Para gliders for their activities. Papadkhandi dam and a fort of Shivaji Maharaj are other attractions here. A few resorts are available here for stay.

How to reach:

By Air:

Nearest Airport is Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport, Mumbai

By Rail:

Nearest rail station is Vasai. Vajreshwari is in Bhiwandi city of Thane district and is 31 km away from the rail station at Vasai. Hot springs are found at 21 places in a radius of 5 kilometers. Akloli is 3 kms from Vajreshwari

By Road:

State Transport buses ply regularly from Thane and Vasai to Vajreshwari and Akloli.

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Akkalkot

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A city and a municipal council in Solapur district, Akkalkot is situated 40 kilometers southeast of Solapur and very close to the border between Maharashtra and Karnataka. The city is known for being home to Shri Swami Samarth Maharaj, a 19th century saint who is believed by his devotees to be an incarnation of God Dattatreya. During the British Raj, Akkalkot was a princely state ruled by the royal Bhonsale dynasty.

At Akkalkot it is a very common sight indeed to find pilgrims making their way to the shrine complex of Shri Swami Samarth, continuously chanting his name. According to references found in the ‘Gurucharitra’, a religious text, Shri Nrusimh Sarasvati took ‘samadhi’ in 1458 CE and remained in that state for more than 300 years. With the passage of time a huge ant hill grew over him and he was lost to the outside world. One day, a woodcutter’s axe accidentally fell on the ant hill. He was shocked to find the axe draw blood. He therefore immediately cleared the ant hill and found there a person in deep meditation. This yogi and reincarnation of Dattatreya came to be known as Swami Samarth.

Swami then travelled all across the country and finally settled in Akkalkot. It was in 1856 CE, on a Wednesday, when he appeared at the Khandoba Mandir at Akkalkot. As per his devotees, Swami then looked older by age but there were no wrinkles on his body. He stood tall and healthy with his long hands touching his knees. His belly protruded and he had broad shoulders. His feet were long too. He adorned a sacred mark – a ‘tilak’ on his forehead – and he always wore a codpiece. He also had a rosary and crystal with him.

His teachings to his followers were very simple. “Once you meet the Supreme Master, meditate and focus upon him,” he would often say. He also exhorted his disciples to have firm belief in god because he alone exists everywhere in the universe and to earn a livelihood through sincere efforts. His words of assurance and courage to his followers were: Never be afraid of anything for I am always there to support you. Till date, his followers chant “Shri Swami Samarth, Jai Jai Swami Samarth.” In the months of April and May of 1863, and on the thirteenth day of the dark half of the lunar month of Chaitra as per the Hindu calendar, Swami Samarth breathed his last. He used to stay at the residence of his follower Cholappa, which has since then been converted into a temple and shrine dedicated to Swami Samarth.

The shrine complex is known as Vatavruksh Mandir since it encloses a Banyan tree beneath which the swami used to preach his message. Shri Swami Samarth Annachatra Mandal provides free accommodation and meals to pilgrims. That apart, Akkalkot continues to retain its link with the Bhonsales who ruled here. There is an exhibition of arms in the newly constructed palace of Fattesinh Bhonsale. Some of the other important places include the Balappa Math, Khandoba Mandir, Joshibuva Math, Mallikarjun Mandir and Hatti Tank. Shivpuri, just 3 kilometers away from Akkalkot, is known for Gajanan Maharaj and for the practice of the ancient Vedic therapy of ‘agnihotra’.

Things to Do

Pandharpur

Pandharpur is a prominent pilgrimage city, especially for the Varkari Sampraday, 105 kilometers from Akkalkot. The temple of Lord Vithoba is located on the banks of river Bhima. The month of Ashadh as per the Hindu calendar attracts the largest number of devotees to this bustling temple town. There are plenty of lodging and boarding facilities available here. A favourite of the pilgrims are the sugar-coated groundnuts served at the temple as ‘prasad’.

Tuljapur

Located 73 kilometers from Akkalkot, it has the well-known temple dedicated to Goddess Bhavani and is one of the ‘shakti peeths’ in Maharashtra. The temple has always enjoyed a special association with the Bhonsale clan to which Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj belonged. Goddess Bhavani was the family deity of the Bhonsales. The festival of Navaratri is celebrated here with a lot of grandeur.

Solapur

Located at the distance of 40 k.m.s Solapur is the district headquarter of the district of the same name.It is a hub for the tourists to go to important tourist destinations like Pandharpur, Akkalkot etc.

How to reach:

By Air:

The nearest airport is at Pune.

By Rail:

The nearest rail head is Akkalkot road.

By Road:

Akkalkot is a prominent place for the followers of Dattatreya cult. It is well connected with the state transport buses from Pune, Mumbai, Solapur and the other major cities of the state.

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Ranjangaon

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Earlier known as Manipur, Ranjangaon near Pune is believed to have been created by none other than Lord Shiva. This was after Shiva prayed to Ganesha to make him victorious in a battle with the demon Tripurasur. It is said that this incident took place on the day of Tripuri Pournima, following which Shiva set up Ganesha’s idol in the form of ‘Mahaganapati’. The temple here is now known by that name. It is one of the ‘ashtavinayakas’ (8 Ganeshas) of Maharashtra.

There are several references to Ranjangaon in the Puranas and according to one of the legends Rishi Grutsamada was an ardent devotee of Ganesha. A boy was born out of his sneeze. This red-skinned boy, named Tripurasur, was highly ambitious and cruel too. Grutsamada asked him to worship Lord Ganesha who, pleased with the boy’s devotion, gifted him three cities of gold, silver and iron. Inflated with pride at the grant of this gift, Tripurasur then conquered heaven, hell and earth in his quest for absolute power. The people residing there prayed to Lord Shiva and requested him to relieve them from the demonic ways of Tripurasur. Shiva pitched a fierce battle but could not wield control over the demon because of having forgotten to ask for Ganesha’s blessings before the commencement of the battle. He then prayed to Ganesha to grant him victory. Thus blessed, he destroyed the three cities of the demon with a single arrow.

Located on the Pune-Ahmednagar highway, 51 kilometers from Pune, the majestic temple is the fourth in the ‘ashtavinayaka’ circuit. It faces east and has a huge entrance with two large-sized ‘dwarapalas’ on either side. The temple is designed in such a way that during ‘dakshinayan’ and ‘uttarayan’ (movement of the sun to the south and north) the rays of the sun fall directly on the deity. The sanctum of this temple was constructed by Thorale Madhavrao Peshwa and the hall by Sardar Kibe of Indore. The image of Mahaganapati is seated, faces east and has his trunk to the left. The forehead of the deity is exceptionally broad. Here, Bhadrapad Chaturthi is celebrated in a big way. Ranjangaon is also an industrial hub and home to many manufacturing set-ups.

Things to Do

Yadava Period Temple

Just 4 kilometers from Ranjangaon is a Yadava period temple in the village of Pimpri Dumala. The temple is known for its intricate carvings. It also has a pond with steps leading to the water. With its ancient Banyan trees and tranquil atmosphere, the place is a favourite with those seeking respite from urban chaos.

Potholes at Nighoj

A natural wonder, the potholes at Nighoj are just 30 kilometers from Ranjangaon. These were created by immense water force and stones on the river bed over a long period of time.

How to reach:

By Air:

The nearest airport is at Pune

By Rail:

The nearest railway station is at Pune

By Road:

This place is en route Pune Aurangabad highway hence all the buses of state transport stops at the Ranjangaon. Ample of buses are available from the Shivajinagar bus station of Pune.

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Siddhivinayak Temple

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With the firm belief that nothing new should ever be embarked upon without invoking the blessings of Lord Ganesh, the Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple at Prabhadevi is understandably the most popular of places of worship in Mumbai. It was but a humble consecration by Mrs. Deubai Patil in early 19th century that is supposed to have started attracting hordes of worshippers soon after India’s independence to ‘Siddhivinayak’, as it is popularly known.

Located at Prabhadevi in central Mumbai, the temple’s idol of Shree Siddhivinayak was carved out of a single black stone with the trunk on the right. This is considered a rather unusual appearance of Lord Ganesh. The upper right and left hands hold a lotus and an axe respectively while the lower right and left hands hold a rosary (japmala) and a bowl full of ‘modak’ respectively. On the forehead of the deity is an eye, which almost looks like the third eye of Lord Shiva. On both sides of the Lord Ganesh idol are placed one idol each of goddesses Riddhi and Siddhi and it is because of these two deities along with that of Lord Ganesh that the temple is called the Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple. These goddesses signify sanctity, success, wealth and prosperity.

The wooden doors to the sanctum are carved with images of the Ashtavinayak (the eight manifestations of Ganesha in Maharashtra). The inner roof of the sanctum is plated with gold. Consecrated on November 19, 1801, the original structure of the Siddhivinayak Temple was a small 3.6 meter x 3.6 meter square brick structure with a dome-shaped brick ‘shikhara’. The temple was built by a contractor called Laxman Vithu Patil and was funded by Mrs. Deubai Patil so that Lord Ganesh should grant children to barren women.

An additional five-storied temple complex has been built over the years and special ‘pujas’ are performed on the mezzanine floor. The fourth floor houses a library and a reading room while the kitchen and dining area are on the top floor. A dedicated enclosure inside the temple is for Hanuman, whose statue was unearthed during a road construction project in 1952. It is believed that the two big silver mice statues in the main hall grant the wishes of the faithful if they whisper their requests into their ears.

Interestingly, the temple has adopted modern eco-friendly techniques of rainwater harvesting and is self-sufficient in energy with its own solar unit. The daily floral waste is recycled as compost. At the temple’s entrance are many shops that sell flowers, fruits and sweets that are bought as offerings to the god. Packets of ‘prasad’ containing ‘laddus’ and coconut ‘barfi’ are available at the temple’s outlet within the complex.

Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple
Prabhadevi,
Mumbai 400 028
Tel: +91 022 24373626
Email: eo@siddhivinayak.org

Siddhivinayak Temple e – mail Address:
svl@vsnl.com
info@siddivinayak.org
admin@siddivinayak.org

Tuesday is a special day to visit the temple but is also the most crowded. Saturdays and Sundays are crowded too. Call the temple reception office on + 91(022) 24373626 (10am to 5 pm) and find out about crowd status. There is a PRO office just inside the main gate where NRIs and foreigners will get assistance and guidance.

Things to Do

Visit the Neighborhood

In the vicinity of the temple are two interesting places that you could visit. One is the Shivaji Park, the city’s largest park that has historical and cultural value because of the political and social gatherings it has witnessed, both in pre- and post-independence Mumbai. The park is named after the legendary 17th century warrior king, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and was created in 1925 by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation. The grand statue of Shivaji in the park is one of the very few statues in which the Maratha king is depicted without having drawn out his sword. Instead, Shivaji is shown simply leading the way with his arm outstretched. The other place of interest is the Ravindra Natya Mandir which is a preferred auditorium for drama and music groups to hold their shows.

Shop at the Dadar Market

A shopper’s paradise, the market at Dadar near the Plaza theatre is very famous for the purchase of day to day goods like the shopping bags, purses, clothes, sarees, dress materials, imitation jewelery and other such items

Explore Mumbai

If you are a first time visitor to Mumbai, the city has a lot to offer in terms of tourist attractions. From Caves dating to the first century BCE at Kanheri Borivali and Elephanta, a paradise of flora and fauna which is the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a long list of museums as also shopping centres, beaches, places of spiritual interest for people of all faiths and even a Bollywood tour; Mumbai, the capital city of Maharashtra will provide a mesmerizing experience

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Mansar

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A town in the Ramtek tehsil of Nagpur district, Mansar is one of the prime archaeological sites in the country, known for many interesting excavations that have resulted in the discovery of various shrines, a palace complex identified as Pravarapura which was the capital of the Vakataka king Pravarasena II and an extensive temple complex. It’s a place that beckons historians, the curious and the tourists in equally large numbers.

Located 45 kilometers northeast of Nagpur city, Mansar shot into prominence when in 1972 an image of a deity, later identified as Shiva Vamana, was found from a hillock in this area, locally known as Hidimba Tekri. Important excavations were carried out at the ancient sites of Mansar since 1997-98 and so far five sites have been excavated that have yielded significant 5th century sculptures of Hindu deities, artefacts and some coins. The water reservoir around the site and findings of ancient tools and other objects point to the fact that a large population inhabited the area 1,600 years ago.

The site of Mansar has been excavated by Nagpur University, thereafter the Archaeological Survey of India and the Bodhisatva Nagarjuna Smarak Sansthava Anusandhan Kendra, Nagpur. The excavation revealed four cultural periods: Period I – Maurya-Sunga (300 BC to 200 BCE), Period II – Satvahana (200 BCE to 250 CE), Period III – Gupta-Vakataka (275 to 550 CE) and Period IV designated as the rule of Vishnukundin. The main dominating feature of the remains at Mansar is a huge palace complex built on a high raised solid brick platform with entrance from the west. It consists of many large and small rooms, surrounded by a lobby (corridor) between the inner and outer main walls of the palace.

The outer walls of the palace and the ‘adhistana’ (moulded platform) are embellished with pilaster mouldings which were lime-plastered with red and white colour alternately. The ‘kapota’ level was decorated with brick ‘makara’ figures at regular intervals. The palace was fortified by a massive brick wall on all four sides. The fortification wall in the east and south had a moat whereas the north and west were surrounded by a huge tank. The most striking feature of the structures here is its intriguing terraced arrangement with a number of straight and curving steps, arrays of round brick projections of various heights and sizes. Frequently, brick surfaces have been reshaped through patterns of incuse lozenges devised by means of moulded bricks.

The excavations have further revealed evidence of symbolic human sacrifice. Sites on the hill within the same complex called Hadimba Tekdi have revealed a Buddhist ‘stupa’ built on solid bedrock with rammed earth and 38 raised courses. The staircases were provided on the eastern side to approach the stupa. Another box pattern brick stupa was built over the original one and has rectangular boxes filled up with small boulders, bricks and earth. The base and knob of a limestone relic casket was found in the stupa. The stupa and ‘chaityagriha’ belong to the Maurya-Sunga period of about 300 BC to 200 BC.

A Shiva temple was found built in bricks on one of the hillocks that consists of an octagonal sanctum provided with black granite ‘linga’, ‘antarala’ and ‘mandapa’ with approach steps. The Shiva temple belongs to the Vakataka period. On the western and southern side of the main complex a row of 16 brick-built Shiva shrines were found placed on three terraces approached by a flight of steps. Out of these, six have ‘shivalingas’. The excavations here have revealed a number of beautiful sculptures like Vaman-Shiva (now in the National Museum), ‘trinetra’ Parvati, a turbaned male head, Shiva-Parvati with bull, a Narshimha riding on Garuda and Kartikeya riding a peacock, etc.

Things to Do

Visit the Fort

The fort of Ramtek, the temples within and a sculpture of Trivikrama are within 10 kilometers from the site of Mansar. The condition of the road is good, offers a pleasant drive for an hour or so one can stay at Nagpur and plan a one-day return trip of Mansar-Ramtek. A MTDC resort and PWD guesthouse at Ramtek offer accommodation by the side of the spectacular Khindasi Lake.

How to reach:

By Air:

The nearest airport is at Nagpur. Mansar is 40 kms away from Nagpur.

By Rail:

Nagpur Railway Station is major railway station 36 km from to Mansar. Ramtek Railway Station (near to Ramtek) , Amdi Halt Railway Station (near to Ramtek) are the Railway stations reachable from nearby towns.

By Road:

Ramtek is the nearby town to Mansar having road connectivity to Mansar. From Mumbai, take the NH6 and continue. It will take around 11 hours to reach Mansar from Mumbai.

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Lonar Crater

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A town in the Buldhana district of Vidarbha, Lonar’s claim to fame is the huge meteor crater that is not only visually dramatic but also of ecological and scientific interest. It is made all the more interesting because the crater is believed to have references in the most ancient Indian texts such as the Valmiki Ramayan. And in addition to the crater, Lonar in itself is a beautiful place, just ideal for a short break to get away from urban pressures.

Lonar is situated around 550 kilometers from Mumbai and 160 kilometers from Aurangabad, a little more than a four-hour drive from the famous Ajanta Caves. Most tourists come here to see the crater, now considered a rich heritage site. Ranked among the world’s five largest craters and the third-largest salt water lake in the world, the crater was first discovered in 1823 by a British officer, C J E Alexander.

For ages there was much debate over whether the crater had been created by a meteor or whether it has a volcanic origin because of its perfectly round basin-like structure with definite edges. Geologists, for quite some time, were in favour of the volcanic theory but recent research has proved that it was definitely created out of the impact of a meteor due to the typical glassy material found around the crater, created due to the heat generated at that time.

The crater, and the lake at its centre, has also been associated with the distant past. It has, for example, a reference as Panchapsar in the Valmiki Ramayan and has been later written about by the epic poet Kalidas 16 centuries ago. He too has termed it the lake Panchapsar in his famous text, Raghuvansh. According to mythological lore, when Lord Rama was flying overhead on his way from Sri Lanka to Ayodhya, his capital, he showed his beloved Queen Sita the crater, which looked like a moon among clouds. Researchers are of the opinion that he was definitely referring to the lake at Lonar. As for the name Panchaspar, it has been derived from the fact that there are five different streams that feed the lake. The Lonar crater also finds a mention in ‘Ain-e-Akbari’ which was authored during the later Mughal period.

Further, the crater finds a link with the Daitya Sudan Mandir in Lonar. As per a folk tale, Lonarasur, a demon, used to stay in the crater’s saline waters. Vishnu, the god known for sustaining life, killed the demon in the Lonar Lake. Inspired by this story, one of the Chalukya kings built the magnificent Daitya Sudan Mandir. This 6th century masterpiece still remains among the finest sculptures of ancient times and serves as an example of the impressive architectural sensibilities that were prevalent during those times. At Lonar you will also find many other temples such as the Shankar-Ganesh Mandir, Wagh-Mahadev Mandir and Ambarkhana Sun Temple.

For those drawn to study how temples were built in the old days, the ones in Lonar may be of special interest because they used the Hemadpanthi style of architecture i.e. constructed without the use of cementing agents. At the lake itself, one of the amazing sights is that of the hundreds of peafowl which live inside the crater. Snakes, monitor lizard, mongoose, fox and deer are some of the other wild life sightings possible in the vicinity of the crater.

Things to Do

Shegaon

Earlier known as Shivgaon because of the presence of a temple of Lord Shiva, Shegaon mainly draws the faithful to the ‘samadhi’ of Sant Shri Gajanan Maharaj. A holy man, he brought about tremendous change in the lives of many people with his spiritual knowledge and power within a short period of 32 years. In 1908 he drew a line to his incarnated life and also hinted at exactly the place where his final resting place would be. The temple is now a source of inspiration and spiritual insight for millions of devotees.

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta is located 107 kilometers from Aurangabad and 60 kilometers from Jalgaon. A cluster of 32 Buddhist caves not far from a medieval village of the same name, the site is a protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India. Moreover, since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ellora Caves

One of the most fascinating archaeological sites in Maharashtra, Ellora dates back to the Rashtrakuta dynasty, about 1,500 years ago, and is the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 caves are actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the hills of Charanandri and you will find here evidence of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain ‘viharas’ and ‘mathas’ which tell the story of how social and economic order was often represented through religion. A protected site under the aegis of the Archaeological Survey of India, Ellora’s Cave 16 popularly known as Kailash Temple, has been given the status of a World Heritage Site.

Bibi ka Maqbara

A smaller tribute to the same architectural sensibility that gave form to the Taj Mahal at Agra, Bibi-ka-Maqbara is the final resting place of Dilras Banu Begum (1622-1657). Known posthumously as Rabia-ud-Daurani (Rabia of the Age), Dilras Banu was the first wife of Emperor Aurangzeb, the last of the great Mughal emperors.

How to reach:

By Air:

The nearest international airport is at Mumbai.
Aurangabad is the nearest airport, located about 122 km away and is well connected to major Indian cities.

By Rail:

Aurangabad is the nearest major railhead. It is connected to cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Madurai, Bhopal and Delhi by regular train service. Aurangabad is located about 145 km. away. Jalna is another railhead, located about 102 km away.

By Road:

Reaching Lonar by road is most convenient and preferable. State transport buses ply regularly to Lonar from Aurangabad, Mumbai, Pune, Alibag and Daman. Aurangabad, the nearest city, is also well connected to several cities.

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Koppeshvara

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At Khidrapur, close to Kolhapur, the multi-dimensional temple of Koppeshvara is more than just an aesthetic achievement; it reflects the deeply felt spiritual understanding of the architect and the depth and range of its all-encompassing narrative in stone.

A small town on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border, Khidrapur, located approximately 60 kilometers from Kolhapur, is best known for its magnificent Koppeshvara Mandir which dates back nearly a 1,000 years to between the 11th and 12th centuries CE. It is remarkable for its Shilahara style. Legend has it that the temple was built to placate Lord Shiva’s rage after his consort Sati immolated herself, giving the temple the name Koppeshvara. However, inscriptions found carved in the temple appear to mention a village called Koppam, thus logically making Koppeshvara the local deity.

The first striking feature about the temple, situated at the confluence of the rivers Krishnaveni and Kuweni, is its stunning plinth base. Standing on this intricately carved base or ‘adisthana’ are 92 carved elephants, roughly a meter high each. The plinth and the elephants together form the base for the entire temple. These majestic creatures are shown shouldering the burden of the superstructure and also serving as mounts to various gods who are seated on their backs. Each elephant is separated from the next with a carved figure of a ‘surasundari’, each beauty standing on her own plinth. This kind of plinth or ‘jagati’ of a structural temple is rare. Some consider Koppeshvara as a miniature replica of the plinth of the world famous Kailasa at Ellora in Aurangabad district.

This sacred structure consists of a sanctum, an antechamber, almost of the same size as that of the sanctum, a closed hall which has impressive entrances to the south, north and east and a slightly detached octagonal mandapa known locally as swargamandapa as it open out to the sky and seems to let the heavens in.

Inside, the ‘garbhagriha’ (sanctum) is square with three unusual smaller chambers, the entrances of which are flanked by female doorkeepers. The ‘shivalinga’ is known as Koppeshvara. The dome of the ceiling is supported by the eight figures on the pilasters and four corner figures. Both the chambers and these figures are the special features of the sanctum. The doorjambs are decorated with scroll and bead design at the foot of which are carved the figures of deities. The ‘gudhamandapa’ (closed hall) can be approached through the eastern main door. This is flanked by pillars, one at each side, and at its foot are ‘vyala’ figures in small niches.

Koppeshvara is worth visiting not only for its aesthetic aspects but also for the well-integrated imagery of its sculptural scheme. The architect has achieved a balance between the southern and the northern side of the structure by pairing two opposite or complementary deities such as Ganesha and Saraswati – both related to learning or Brahma flanked by Savitri and Gayatri and Vishnu with Lakshmi and Bhudevi on two sides of the hall, both facing the east and honouring the main deity Shiva in the centre, i.e. in the sanctum. Further, the selection of two scenes – one from the Ramayana and the other from the Mahabharata – indicate the artist’s depth of knowledge and the symbolic importance of the temple.

How to reach:

By Air:

The nearest airport is at Pune.

By Rail:

Miraj and Kolhapur are the nearest railway stations.

By Road:

Khidrapur is about 60 kms away from Kolhapur and 32 kms from Miraj. State transport buses ply regularly between these cities to Khidrapur.

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Kaas Pathar

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If ever you have wished to be surrounded by a bounty of colourful flowers and nothing else for quite a distance, the Kaas Plateau is where you should be. Just 25 kilometers from the bustling city lies this pristine and wonderfully unique ecosystem nestled in the Sahyadri Mountains. The metamorphosis that takes place here during the monsoon season is like witnessing Mother Nature unfolding a miracle for the world to be astounded with.

Known as the ‘Plateau of a Million Flowers’, Kaas has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the reason is quite clear – it is acknowledged as home to endemic life forms that are found nowhere else in the world! But what truly amazes, and presents a breathtakingly colourful picture, is the blossoming of thousands of flowers during the monsoon season when the plateau becomes covered with sheets and drapes of innumerable tiny flowering plants in a riot of yellows, pinks, blues, purples, and so on. The show that starts sometime late in July continues, changing dramatically, throughout August and into September.

The making of this very special place can be traced to the time when it was part of the Deccan Plateau which had 29 volcanic lava flows across 20 crore years. With every eruption, a new layer of lava flowed from the land’s fissures and spread horizontally over the already weathered older strata. When the flow of magma finally stopped, the action of many water streams and huge rivers began, eroding the flat land mass and forming deep valleys and gorges, thereby giving it its present form. With the arrival of the southwest monsoon clouds, the region receives up to 2,500 mm of rainfall in just about three months. The water that accumulates from this catchment finds its way into the Kaas Lake, which is the source of the river Urmodi. It is due to this life-giving rain that the thin layer of red soil suddenly erupts in a profusion of flowers.

Soon enough, the land is covered with the golden-hued Smithias and Sonkis. Not to be left behind are the carpets of pink, lavender and purple of the Balsams. Then there is the dazzling white from the blooms of Gend – Eriocaulon with their head-like flowers. In contrast is the peach of Murdania, which has spectacular sheen of gold dust on its petals. Adding to the colour purple is Seeta’s Tears or Utricularia, which have small bladders around their roots. Tiny insects, attracted to these bladders, get trapped, thus providing the plant with nitrogen and phosphorus. Taking this glamorous show forward is the universe of the ground orchids, including Habeneria digitata with its greenish-yellow flowers. Some of the other unique species found here include the Ceropegia, whose lantern-like appearance gives it its appropriate vernacular name of ‘Kandil Kharchudi’.

However, the story of Kaas would remain incomplete without a mention of the ubiquitous Pleocaulus ritchei, known in vernacular terms as ‘Topli Karvi (basket kept upside down). This plant flowers only once in its lifetime of eight years. And yet when it blossoms, it is a sight to behold with baskets of purple flowers swaying in the breeze. And with so many plants coming to life, the landscape also buzzes with bees, butterflies, insects and frogs for whom the plants provide yet another cycle of life.

Things to Do

Satara

A small district in western Maharashtra, Satara has an incredible historical background. Places like Karad, Pateshwar, Mahuli, Rajpuri Caves, Bavdhan and Yeradwadi reveal its antiquity. Forts like Pandavgad, Sadashivgad, Vasantgad, Vasota and Ajinkyatara are very popular tourist sites. It is home to places like Adalatwada, Rajawada, Bansapuri-Math, and Char-Bhinti. Furthermore, 97 temples and seven lakes add to the beauty of this region. The other attraction in the city is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum. This museum holds artefacts like weapons, clothes and glass paintings from the 17th and 18th century. The descendants of the royal Bhosale family still live in Satara. Satara is also nicknamed the ‘district of power’ because of the giant Koyna hydroelectric plant along with smaller dams like Dhom, Kanher and Urmudi. Not to be missed is the district’s famous sweet delicacy known as ‘Kandi Pedhe’.

How to reach:

By Air:

The nearest airport is at Pune.

By Rail:

Satara station is 30 kms away from Kaas. Satara is connected to most of the cities.

By Road:

From Mumbai, take the Mumbai-Pune Express way to Pune and then take the highway 47 to Satara and turn on to the Kaas road. Several private buses and State transport buses ply to Satara from many big cities in Maharashtra and Goa.

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Markandi Temple

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If unique art motifs in temples are what attract you, the group of temples of Markandi or Markanda Deva in Gadchiroli district of Vidarbha would be worth a visit for they certainly stand as an embodiment of the finest traditions of sculptural and architectural art of the Vidarbha region. Also, the surrounding landscape of small hillocks and the river flowing below have made Markandi a pleasing tourist attraction.

Located about 216 kilometers southeast of Nagpur, the village Markandi is believed to have acquired the name probably after the main temple of Shiva at the site, known as Markanda Deva or Markandi. The group of temples here is situated on the eastern periphery of the village and has acquired sanctity over the years as it stands on the bank of the perennial and holy river Wainaganga. The main temple in the group is assigned to Markanda Rishi. The ‘Puranas’ also refer to Markandeya, the son of Mrikanda, to whom another temple in the complex is dedicated. Markandeya is referred to in several of the Puranas and it is stated that he was very famous and long-lived. He is believed to have practiced severe penance to get the favours of Shiva.

Four of the 20 temples viz Markanda Rishi, Yamadharma, Mrikanda Rishi and Shankara Temple are still well preserved. Of these, the main temple draws the maximum number of devotees as well as tourists and connoisseurs of art. Unlike any of the temples not only in Vidarbha but also in Maharashtra, the exterior of this temple is full of lavishly carved sculptures. It has human sculptures modeled with rhythm and grace, and the images of gods and goddesses represent interesting aspects in iconography.

In fact, some of the imagery found here has unique characteristics. As for example, the image depicting Lord Ganesha engaged in dance. It occupies a prominent place on the south face of the temple and is one of the most enchanting icons in the entire range. Here, Ganesha is shown holding a battle axe, tooth, serpent, flower, etc. Equally fascinating is the image of Saraswati who is shown with six arms with a lotus flower in her upper right; rosary in her lower right; the third right playing upon a musical instrument; the middle left with a manuscript; and the lower left having a fruit. She is seen wearing all her usual ornaments of which the armlets are noteworthy. The peacock, her mount, is shown in a shallow niche below her.

It is said that when Bibhishan, the brother of Ravan, the prince of the Rakshasas, was sick, Hemadpant, the minister of the Yadavas, cured him and the grateful patient told him to ask for a wish. Hemadpant asked for the aid of Rakshasas to build temples wherever he might require them. The boon was granted but on condition that the Rakshasas were not to work for more than one night at a time. Hemadpant accordingly built all the temples at Markanda, Bhandak, Neri, etc., in one night. This is a legend told about the temples of Hemadpanti origin in this district as also the rest of Maharashtra.

How to reach:

By Air:

Nearest airport is at Nagpur.

By Rail:

The nearest railway station is at Chandrapur, 80 km from Gadchiroli. The distance between Markandi and Gadchiroli is about 30 kms.

By Road:

From Mumbai, it’s a long drive via Nashik, Aurangabad, Jalna, Yavatmal and Chandrapur before finally reaching the town of Markanda.
From Nagpur, Markanda is a pleasant three and a half hour drive via the Nagbhir-Nagpur highway.

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Sher Shah Suri Tomb, Sasaram

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The tomb of Sher Shah Suri is in the Sasaram town of Bihar state, India. Sher Shah Suri is truly regarded as one of the brilliant national heroes of India.  Sher Shah Suri is truly regarded as one of the brilliant national heroes of India.  The tomb was built in memory of Emperor Sher Shah Suri, a Pathan from Bihar who defeated the Mughal Empire and founded the Suri Empire in northern India. the enterprising Pashtun who forced emperor Humayun out of India, took charge of his empire, and established a dynasty that kept the Mughals at bay for 15 long years. Hailed as one of the most magnificent tombs of the ‘octagonal style’ in India, the monument continues to draw a steady stream of visitors throughout the year.

Tomb_of_Hasan_Khan_SuriSher Shah Suri is truly regarded as one of the brilliant national heroes of India. Apart from a brave, intelligent and tactful military genius with shrewd political foresight, Sher Shah (original name Farid Khan) was a person of extra ordinary skill and ability in civil administration also.  The construction work of this tomb was started by Sher Shah himself and completed by his son and successor Islam Shah some 3 months after the death of Sher Shah in 1545 A.D. The chief architect of this structure was Alawal Khan. UNESCO give the following account ‘The tomb of Sher Shah Suri at Sasaram is an imposing structure of stone standing in the middle of a fine tank and rising from a large stone terrace.It is currently protected and maintained by the Archeological Survey of India. 

Architecture :

Entry_gate_of_Hasan_Khan_Suri's_tombHis tomb is an example of Indo-Islamic architecture, it was designed by the architect Aliwal Khan and built between 1540 and 1545, this red sandstone mausoleum (122 ft high), which stands in the middle of an artificial lake, which is nearly square, is known as the second Taj Mahal of India. The imposing structure is surrounded by all sides with large stone stairways leading to water of the excavated lake. It is an imposing brick structure partly veneered with stone standing in the middle of a fine square tank measuring about 305 mts and rising above a large stone terrace. The 9.15 mts high terrace is enclosed by a parapet wall with octagonal domed pavilions at four corners. The eastern side there is a grand doorway which is the only way to the Tomb. These verandahs further include 24 smaller domes supported by four arches. Its roof is also a pillared cupola which used to have white glazed tiles that are much faded now. 

Balcony_at_Sher_Shah_Suri_TombThe 3-storied mausoleum is located on a low octagonal pedestal right at the middle of the terrace. The mausoleum was originally planned to be a typical island tomb with no access to the mainland. These arches stand 22 ft tall to support the lofty dome, which is one of the largest domes in India. The main mausoleum building has large octagonal chamber surrounded by a wide verandah on all of its sides. The chamber that houses the main tomb is supported by beautiful arches.  Half-a-kilometer from Sher Shah’s tomb lays the tomb of his son Aslam Shah. It is grand but incomplete. Nearby this location also lies Alawal Khan’s tomb, the superintendent of these constructions on the outskirts of the town.

How To Reach:

By Air: The nearest airport is Gaya (108 km), which is well connected to all major city of India.

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

By Road: Sasaram is well connected to other major cities of the country via regular buses.

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Alappuzha Beach

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Alappuzha Beach is a beach in Alappuzha town and a tourist attraction in KeralaIndia. Beach has an old pier which extend to sea is over 150 years old. Known as the Venice of the East, Alappuzha has always basked a major place in the maritime history of Kerala. Alappuzha (Alleppey) is a landmark between a network of rivers flowing into it and the Arabian Sea. Alleppey Beach is located on the coastal side of Alleppey. Alleppey beach stands 5th best beach after Kovalam, Varkala, Cherai and Marari beaches in Kerala. One can enjoy the mesmerizing views of sunrise and sunset. With its fine white sand and freshwater lakes and few buildings in its vicinity, a beach is a perfect place for pleasurable beach holidays.

Alappuzha_BeachIt has secured a unique spot for itself in the maritime history of Kerala. The rice bowl of Kerala in the Kuttanad region also comes within the Alappuzha District. Another name for the Alappuzha Beach is Alleppey Beach. One of the must-do things in Alleppey is to board one of the many magnificent houseboats and go on a cruise of utter pleasure and romance. One can try adventurous activities at the beach like boating, or enjoy at children’s park with toy bicycles or trains. Hallowed with nature’s green beauty and scenery, Alappuzha is a wonderland of Kerala state. Alleppey beach consists of a long stretch of stores densely populated with the swaying palm groves. The shores, the sea, and the surrounding landscape offer a fascination to the beach, not to be found elsewhere.

Nearby Attraction:

Karumadikkuttan:

Karumadikkuttan_at_karumadi,_AlappuzhaKarumadikkuttan is the name of a granite statue of lord Buddha located in Karumadi near Alleppey.  The Statue is, unfortunately, missing its entire left half but has now been conserved by the Kerala State Government. It’s actually a huge, black granite statue of Lord Buddha dating back to 10th century AD. The statue was recovered by the Archeological Society of India and is now kept in a protected enclosure near the Karumadi Canal. It is believed that the statue has some powers of severe healing and it is really sought after by the locals there is Karumadi. 

Marari Beach: 

Marari_Beach_Sunset_01The stunning Marari Beach is located about 11 kilometers from Alleppey in the quaint, little town of Maraikulam. Marari Beach is a perfect location for holidaying with family or friends. This beach in Kerala is eternal with coconut palm trees and golden sands are famous for its Ayurvedic centers and stylish beach resorts. Watching sunrise and sunset here is quite a romantic experience that couples would love to enjoy. It is just the perfect place for spending quality time with family or to enjoy the honeymoon with your partner.

Backwaters of Kuttanad:

Kuttanad_landscapes-WikiJalayatra-ViswaPrabha-08Known as the rice bowl of Kerala, Kuttanad is the only area where farming is done below sea level. It’s known far and wide for its huge spreads of green paddy fields against the backdrop of placid backwaters. The region is surrounded by the sea and the hills and offers a beautiful scenic vista to its guests. The entire length of Kuttanad is 150 km which covers a distance from Kollam to Kochi. You can enjoy this water body with the help of rice barges or houseboats. Inland waterways which flow above land level are an amazing feature of this region. Here, farming is done below the sea level, usually 4 to 10 feet, which is interesting for travelers who seek to learn more about Kerala’s tourism.

Krishnapuram Palace:

Krishnapuram_palace2The 18th century Krishnapuram Palace built during the reign of the Travancore monarch, Marthanda Varma, is a double storied structure which displays typical characteristics of Kerala architecture-gabled roofs, dormer windows, narrow corridors. Inside this palace, you’ll find a museum of paintings, bronzes, and antique carvings. The palace is a major tourist attraction and also contains a small museum maintained by the Archeological department of Kerala.  This palace is an archeological museum whose best attraction is a 49 square meter single mural painting which is titled as Gajendra Moksham which means the salvation of elephant king.

Best Time To Visit:

November to February winter is the best season to visit Alleppey as the weather is mild and pleasant. The average temperature during this time is between 17 degrees to 32 degrees Celsius with minimal fluctuations.

How To Reach:

By Air: The nearest airport is Kochi International Airport (78 km), which is well connected to all major cities of India.

By Rail: Alleppey is connected to the major cities of Kerala like Cochin, Kottayam, Changanassery, and Chengannur. 

By Road: Kerala State Run Transport Corporation (KSRTC ) buses connect Alleppey to most major cities in Kerala. Tourists can reach Alappuzha by bus or local transportation.

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Varkala Beach

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Varkala Beach, also known as Papanasham Beach is a beach in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, along with the Arabian Sea, part of the Indian Ocean. Popular for its natural fisheries and springs, and the samadhi of Kerala’s saint Sree Narayana Guru, Varkala is a coastal town with pristine beaches, hills, lakes, forts, lighthouses, altogether making it a subtle bit of paradise in Kerala. 

Varkala_Beach_ParaglidingVarkala beach is the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea. Counted as one of the top ten seasonal beaches in the world by discovery channel, this beach has a stunning beauty of landscapes, brown sand, and sea.  These tertiary sedimentary formation cliffs are a unique geological feature on the otherwise flat Kerala coast are known among geologists as Varkala Formation and a geological monument as declared by the Geological Survey of India. It’s a perfect spot to relax with a laidback atmosphere. Popular for beach activities like swimming and sunbathing, this beach offers a striking sunset view. It can simply take your breath away with its long winding stretch of a cliff that expands over the Arabian Sea.

Varkala-beach-sunsetVarkala Beach is also called Papanasam beach as it is believed that taking bath here wash away all sins. It is the ideal tourist spot surrounded by the greenery, beautiful meadows, deep puzzling valleys, and dales. The enchanting hill station dotted with tea gardens will soon be one of India’s foremost eco-tourism projects. It is considered to have medicinal and curative properties. A dip in the holy waters at this beach is believed to purge the body of impurities and the soul of all sins; hence the name ‘Papanasam beach’. Welcome to a land which would make you come back again and again.

Varkala beach offers many beach activities like sightseeing, sunbathing, windsurfing, parasailing, and soaking in the beauty of this calm beach resort. Varkala beach offers many beach activities like sightseeing, sunbathing, windsurfing, parasailing, and soaking in the beauty of this calm beach resort. Varkala has a lot of architecture too, to attract tourists such as the Janardhana Swamy Temple, Anjengo Fort, Vishnu temple and Sivagiri Mutt. 

Tourist Attraction:

Janardhana Swami Temple:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis 2000-year old divine abode is one of the oldest temples in Kerala, situated just two kilometers away from Varkala railway station and a famous tourist spot. Its spectacular architecture attracts travelers from all over the world. It is so popular as it is the only shrine dedicated to Vishnu in the name of Janardhana in this part of the country, with the temples usually being dedicated to Krishna. There is an old banyan tree on the temple ground along with idols of Gods and Goddesses. Non-Hindus are not permitted to enter the inner sanctum but can hang around the temple. Janardhana Swamy temple is also famous for the festival known as “Arattu” which falls in the month of March or April.

Sivagiri Mutt:

SivagiriSivagiri Mutt is the headquarters of one of Kerala’s most important guru Shri Narayana Dharma.  Built on the top of Sivagiri Hill near Varkala, this ashram is only three kilometers away from Janardana Swami temple, well within walking distance. The Samadhi (the final resting place) of the Guru here attracts thousands of devotees every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days – 30th December to 1st January.

Anjengo (Anchuthengu Fort)  Fort:

Anjango, Kerala, IndiaAnjengo Fort also known as Anchuthengu Fort and the lighthouse are certainly worth a visit. Apart from the nature-lovers and the devout, the locality of Varkala has something to offer even to those fascinated with local history. Apart from the nature-lovers and the devout, the locality of Varkala has something to offer even to those fascinated with local history. Anjengo Fort is a National Heritage monument tagged with foreign connection-Dutch and Portugese; the fort shelters quite an old cemetary and burials inside.  The fort served an important purpose during the Anglo-Mysore war.  With its walls and ramparts still holding against the mighty Time, one can experience the magnetic pull of Kerala’s not so ancient history while taking a stroll across the expanse of this fort. 

Ponnumthuruthu island:

Varkala_beach_-_cliff_viewPonnumthuruthu, also known as Golden Island is located 20 km from Varkala. This island in the middle of a backwater lake is home to the Shiva-Parvati Hindu temple. According to legends, the Queens of Travancore Royal family used to hide their gold on the island to keep it safe, and hence the name. It’s also a major heritage center that has so many historical values. From the cliff, you can view the fresh water spring at the beach. Taking bath over here is very important as it is believed that it will clean away all your sins. 

Best Time To Visit:

Winter is the best time to travel to Varkala, From September to April. As Varkala is located to the south of Kerala it experiences a hot and humid climate most of the year while winters are pleasant and comparatively cooler. 

How To Reach:

By Air: The nearest airport is the Thiruvananthapuram Airport (50 km), Which is well connected to all major city of the India.

By Rail: Varkala has its own railway station and is well connected with major cities in South India and New Delhi.  

By Road: Buses are available from both Kochi and Trivandrum. KSRTC buses are frequent and the can be boarded from the respective main bus stands.

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Fateh Burj

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The Fateh Burj is the tallest Minar in India situated in the historical village of Chappar Chiri in the SAS Nagar district, Punjab.  Fateh Burj or Victory Tower is the tallest victory tower with a height of 328 ft in the city of Mohali, Punjab and dedicated to the establishment of the Sikh rule.  It was here that Banda Singh Bahadur, one of the most respected Sikh warriors, won a decisive battle against Wazir Khan, commander of the Mughal army. 

History:

Banda_Bahadur_the_Sikh_Warrior_,In 1710, Banda Singh Bahadur won the battle against Wazir Khan, who commanded the Mughal army at Chappar Chiri. Wazir Khan had planned to stop the march of the Sikh army led by Banda Singh Bahadur to Sirhind. At the time of the battle. His plan was to stop the sikh army which was being led by Banda Singh Bahadur. In this battle, the Khalsa established the first Khalsa reign by taking revenge of the martyrdom of younger Sahibzadas of the tenth Guru Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Banda Singh Bahadur taught a lesson to Wazir Khan who killed younger Sahibzadas. The minar was established on 30 November 2011 to mark the third centenary of the historical battle of Chapparchiri.The Fateh Burj minar or tower is 328 ft tall with total three stories at 67 feet, 117 feet, and 220 feet.

In this structure, a special waterproofing EPDM membrane has been used. The reflected image of the tower in the water body adds another dimension. Hailed as the tallest religious memorial in the country, the Fateh Bhurj is an Octagonal tower with a RCC central core which resists the total lateral and seismic force.

The Historical place Fateh Burj  is a worth visiting place. The visiting hours of the burj is from 10 to 8 A.M. Visit this place at the time of sunset and sunrise. The effect of the sunlight around the monument makes it look immensely beautiful.

How To Reach:

By Air: The nearest Airport is Chandigarh airport (15 km), which is well connected to all major city of India. 

By Rail: Mohali has its oven railway station, which is well connected to the major city of India.

By Road: Mohali is well connected by road. Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) and Haryana Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) buses do ply regularly from several cities of Punjab and Haryana.

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Akal Takht

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The Akal Takht, meaning throne of the timeless one, is one of five takhts (seats of power) of the Sikh religion. It is located in the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) complex in Amritsar, Punjab. Akal Takht is situated exactly opposite to the Golden Temple within the temple complex. Akal Takht is a combination of Persian and Punjabi words, literally, it means “The seat of Timeless one” or “The seat of God”. The Akal Takht was built by Guru Hargobind as a place of justice and consideration of temporal issues; the highest seat of earthly authority of the Khalsa (the collective body of the Sikhs) and the place of the Jathedar, the highest spokesman of the Sikhs.

History :

Akal_takhat_amritsarOriginally known as Akal Bunga, the building directly opposite the Harmandir Sahib was founded by sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind, as a symbol of political sovereignty and where spiritual and temporal concerns of the Sikh people could be addressed. The Akal Takhat was founded by Guru Hargobind on June 15, 1606 (now celebrated on 2 July) and was established as the place from which the spiritual and temporal concerns of the Sikh community could be acted upon. The original Takht was a simple platform, 3.5 meters (11 ft) high, on which Guru Hargobind would sit in court to receive petitions and administer justice. He was surrounded by the insignia of royalty such as the parasol and the flywhisk. Later, there was an open-air semi-circular structure built on marble pillars and a gilded interior section. The modern building is a five story structure with marble inlay and a gold-leafed dome. Three of the stories were added by Ranjit Singh in the 1700s. Contemporary restoration work found a layer of paint decorated lime plaster that might have been part of the original structure but later than the time of Harminder.

Architecture:

Harminder_Sahib_by_Night,_taken_from_the_east,_with_Akal_Takht_Sahib_in_the_backgroundInterior_of_Akal_TakhtAkal Takht is a great 5-storied modern structure (3 stores were built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh) with inlaid marble and a gilded dome, but that does not convey the Guru Hargobind’s design of simple Takht. The original Takht was a simple platform, 3.5 meters (11 ft) high, on which Guru Hargobind would sit in court to receive petitions and administer justice. He was surrounded by the insignia of royalty such as the parasol and the flywhisk. Later, there was an open-air semi-circular structure built on marble pillars and a gilded interior section. Contemporary restoration work found a layer of paint decorated lime plaster that might have been part of the original structure but later than the time of Harminder.

The best time to visit Amritsar is between November and March when the weather is comparatively pleasant and ideal for sightseeing and visiting the Golden Temple. However, sometimes the temperature can touch a freezing – 4 Degree Celsius.

How To Reach: 

By Air: Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport Amritsar is 11 km away from the Akal Takht, Which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Rail: Amritsar Railway Station is well linked to other railheads in the state and also connected to most of the cities in India. 

By Road: There are bus services available that connect Amritsar with cities like Delhi, Dehradun, Shimla, Jammu and other towns in North India.

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Khajuraho Group of Monuments

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

History : 

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

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

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

Description:

3=Devi_Jagdambi_Temple_Khajuraho_-_Outer_Wall_01These temples, featured with erotic sculptures, have made the name of the town get mentioned in the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) list of the World Heritage Sites in the nation. Khajuraho Temples are among the most beautiful medieval monuments in the country. The layout, architecture, and construction are unrivaled. They are built of sandstone with unique mortise and tenon joints. Because of the sculptures, the temples are also referred as Kamasutra temples.  A few of the temples are dedicated to the Jain pantheon and the rest to Hindu deities — to God’s Trio, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and various Devi forms, such as the Devi Jagadambi. 

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

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

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

Lakshmana Temple:

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

Vishwanath Temple:

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

Kandariya Mahadev Temple: 

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

Best Time To Visit:

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

How To Reach:

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

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

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

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Barabar Caves

Barabar_Caves_-_Lomas_Rishi_Cave_(9227394172)

The Barabar Caves are the oldest surviving rock-cut caves in India, mostly dating from the Maurya Empire (322–185 BCE), some with Ashokan inscriptions, located in the Makhdumpur region of Jehanabad district, Bihar, India. The caves are situated in the Barabar Hills. There are similar caves in the Nagarjuni Hills which are located less than two km away which are also considered as part of the Barabar Caves. Between second century BC and first millennium AD, Rock-cut architecture had become the key feature of Indian architecture. The roots of this architecture are found in Maurya era. Though Buddhists themselves, they allowed various Jain sects to flourish under a policy of religious tolerance. 

The caves were used by ascetics from the Ajivika sect, founded by Makkali Gosala, a contemporary of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and of Mahavira, the last and 24th Tirthankara of Jainism. Also present at the site are several rock-cut Buddhist and Hindu sculptures. The caves have huge arches and all the caves have two chambers that have been carved completely out of granite. They have an echo effect that is unique to these caves because of the way they have polished interiors.  Most caves at Barabar consist of two chambers, carved entirely out of granite, with a highly polished internal surface and exciting echo effect. The first chamber was meant for worshippers to congregate in a large rectangular hall, and the second, a small, circular, domed chamber for worship. This inner chamber probably had a small stupa-like structure, at some point, though they are now empty. 

Barabar Hill contains four caves, namely, Karan Chaupar, Lomas Rishi, Sudama and Visva Zopri. Sudama and Lomas Rishi Caves are the earliest examples of rock-cut architecture in India, with architectural detailing, made in the Mauryan period, and became a trend the subsequent centuries, like the larger Buddhist Chaitya, that were found in Maharashtra, as in Ajanta and Karla Caves, and greatly influenced the tradition of South Asian rock-cut architecture. Barabar caves have magnanimous arches which are few in ancient history.

Barabar_Caves_-_Rock_Pile_(9224781991)Barabar_Caves_-_Rock_Carvings,_Kawa_Dol_(9224485705)Barabar_Caves_-_Rock_Carvings,_Kawa_Dol_(9224515053) (1)

Lomas Rishi cave: 

Lomas Rishi caves are the most beautiful and alluring caves. The caves have been cut out from a huge granite rock.  It has an arch-like shape facade that imitates contemporary timber architecture. On the doorway, a row of elephants proceed towards stupa emblems, along with the curved architrave. 

Sudama cave: 

Sudama Cave was dedicated by emperor Ashoka in 261 BC and consists of a circular vaulted chamber with a rectangular mandapa, Which looks just like a bow and there is a circular chamber. look just like a bow and there is a circular chamber.

Karan Chaupar:

The Karan Chaupar cave consists of a single rectangular room with polished surfaces, contains inscription which could be dated to 245 BCE. 

Visva Zopri: 

Fourth cave – Visva Zopri can be reached by simple steps cut in stone – “Ashoka Steps” 500 – 1000 meters northwest from the other three caves in the south-facing cliff face. There are two rectangular caves over there. There are two rectangular caves over there.

The best time to visit Barabar Caves is between the month of October and March. 

How To Reach: 

By Air: The nearest airport Gaya (31 km)  and Patna (105 km), The Gaya airport is a domestic airport but at the same time is connected to international cities of Colombo and Bangkok.

By Rail: The Nearest Railway station is Gaya (20 km)

By Road: Barabar caves are well connected by roadways to other major places such as Patna(105 km), the state capital of Bihar, Bodh Gaya(12 km). 

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Bodh Gaya

796px-Bodh_Gaya_1899

Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. As the site of the Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment, Bodh Gaya is the most revered of all Buddhist sacred sites. Bodh Gaya is the most revered of all Buddhist sacred sites. Bodhgaya (also written Bodh Gaya) is the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment and the holiest of four main Buddhist pilgrimage destinations. Known as Uruvela in the Buddha’s time, the city of Bodhgaya is now a town of about 30,000 permanent residents. For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha, the other three being Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath. In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The history of this town can be traced back to 500 BC. History mentions Bodhgaya as Bodhimanda and the main monastery as the Bodhimanda-vihara. 

History :

Bodh Gaya is the holiest place for the followers of the Buddhist faith all over the world. Situated by the bank of river Neranjana the place was then known as Uruwela.  In the 6th century B.C. Prince Siddhartha Gautama attained Supreme Enlightenment at this Holy place and became the Buddha. As Siddhartha, he renounced his family at the age of 29 in 534 BC  and traveled and meditated in search of truth. The disciples of Gautama Siddhartha began to visit the place during the full moon in the month of Vaisakh (April–May), as per the Hindu calendar. Over time, the place became known as Bodh Gaya, the day of enlightenment as Buddha Purnima, and the tree as the Bodhi Tree. 

After gaining Enlightenment, Gautam became Buddha (The Enlightened One) and spread his message of love and peace. To mark the spot where Gautam Buddha had attained Enlightenment, the great Mauryan ruler King Ashoka built a small shrine here in the 3rd century BC. Subsequent rulers left their mark on this shrine, which finally took the shape of the Mahabodhi temple that still stands.

Tourist Attraction:

Mahabodhi Temple:

Mahabodhi_temple._The_Mahabodhi_temple,_Bodh_Gaya,_IndiaOne of India’s prime spiritual places, Mahabodhi Temple is not just a temple but Buddha’s actual enlightenment place, which is declared as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. It contains the Mahabodhi Temple with the diamond throne (called the Vajrasana) and the holy Bodhi tree. This tree was originally a sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka, itself grew from a sapling of the original Bodhi tree. Inside the Mahabodhi templecomplex, you can also enjoy the Lotus Pond or the meditation garden. Though the temple was constructed in 7th century AD, it has been repeatedly repaired and renovated, the last being in late 19th century by the Burmese King and Archeological Survey of India. It has a very calm and serene ambiance, which people from all walks of life can appreciate.

Bodhi Tree:

Bodhgaya_3639641913_f4c5f73689_tIt is believed that this tree is a direct descendant of the one under which the Buddha Sakyamuni attained enlightenment, inside the Mahabodhi complex. Buddha meditated below this tree for the first seven days of enlightenment. The original tree was burned down and destroyed by many Kings. Emperor Ashoka was in fact so depressed that he ordered a branch of the tree in Sri Lanka and planted it and took so much care that the jealous queen ordered its destruction. The current tree is the descendant of the original. Devotees circle around the tree and gather fallen tree leaves and seeds as blessings from the lord.

80_feet_buddha_statueGreat Buddha Statue:

The gorgeous idol stands tall at a height of 80 ft and is made of sandstone blocks and red granite and was instated by the XIV Dalai Lama in 1989. This huge figurine depicts Lord Buddha meditating (dhyana mudra) while he is seated on a giant lotus in open air. Bordered by 10 smaller sculptures of Buddha’s disciples in the passageway leading to the Great Buddha Statue, the entire visual is a breathtaking sight.

Best time to visit:

October to March is ideal for a visit according to the weather conditions, but tourists flock here throughout the year. 

How  To Reach:

By Air: The nearest Airport is Gaya (17 km), It is connected to Kolkata by flights; however, the frequency is less. Kolkata is the nearest international airport, around 485 km away.

By Rail: The nearest Railway station is Gaya (14 km), It is well-connected to major Indian cities. 

By Road: Bodhgaya is well connected to many cities of India through roads. The Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation provides deluxe buses for tourists twice a day.

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Dilwara Temples

Dilwara_Prashvantha_Temple

The Dilwara temples of India are located about 2½ kilometers from Mount Abu, Rajasthan’s only hill station, Its rank among the popular tourist attractions in Rajasthan. The five temples of Dilwara – Vimal Vasahi, Luna Vasahi, Pithalhar, Khartar Vasahi, and Mahavir Swami – have their own uniqueness to speak of. These Jain temples were built by Vastapul Tejpal, Jain laymen between the 11th and 13th centuries AD and are world-famous for their stunning use of marble. some experts also consider it architecturally superior to the Taj Mahal. 

The marble temples have an opulent entranceway, the simplicity in architecture reflecting Jain values like honesty and frugality. The temples are in the midst of a range of forested hills. A high wall shrouds the temple complex.  The door opens on to a blend of irresistible beauty and elegance. The temples are surrounded with mango trees and wooded hills and a high wall that shrouds the entire temple complex.The door opens on to a blend of irresistible beauty and elegance. The temples are surrounded with mango trees and wooded hills and a high wall that shrouds the entire temple complex. Dilwara Temple forms a famous pilgrimage of the followers of Jainism. The striking use of marble, in the construction of this temple, is truly worth-admiring. 

History :

DILWADA_TEMPLEMount Abu located in the southwest part of Rajasthan is a part of the Aravalli Mountain Ranges and is separated from the Aravalli by a narrow valley and Guru Shikhar is the highest point at the northern end. These Jain temples were built by Vastapul Tejpal, a Jain layman between the 11th and 13th centuries AD. The five legendary marble temples of Dilwara are a sacred pilgrimage place of the Jains. Some consider them to be one of the most beautiful Jain pilgrimage sites in the world. The five shrines that are dedicated to Lord Adinath, Lord Rishabhdeo, Lord Neminath, Lord Mahavir Swami and Lord Parshvanath respectively. All of its ceilings, doorways, pillars and panels has minutely carved ornamental details which show its architectural uniqueness. The Dilwara temples are dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras and served as storehouses of illustrated manuscripts and treatises. The temples at Mount Abu were constructed between 800 AD and 1200 AD. Vimala Shah, Vastu Pala and Teja Pala contributed a lot toward the development of Jain art and architecture.

Five Unique Temples of Dilwara:

There are five temples in all, each with its own unique identity. Each is named after the small village in which it is located. 

 1. Vimal Vasahi Temple:

Jain_temple_Mt.AbuThe oldest among the five temples of Dilwara, this exquisite piece of architecture was constructed by Vimal Shah, completed in AD 1032. This temple is the oldest of all and dedicated to Shri Adinath Ji – The first jain trithankar, the temple has an open courtyard surrounded by corridors all beautifully decorated with marble carved stones. The plan of the temple resembles that of Kashmiri Sun temple at Martand.Elaborately columned porticoes surround the main shrine and front the cells lining the courtyard. The ceilings of this temple are festooned with patterns of petals, flowers, lotus-buds and murals depicting scenes from the mythology. The central dome and the 12 pillars of Rang Mandap hall are stunning to look at. 

2. Luna Vasahi Temple:

LDDilwaraCeilingThe Luna Vashi temple is dedicated to Lord Neminath. This temple was built in 1230 A.D. by two brothers known as Tejpal and Vastupal, they dedicated this temple to the 22nd saint of Jainism – Shri Nemi Nathji. Its the second most important temple amongst the temples of Dilwara. The architecture and sculpture of this temple closely follow the Vimal Vasahi temple. The main hall or Rang mandap features a central dome from which hangs a big ornamental pendant featuring elaborate carving, Which has three hundred and sixty (360) tiny idols of Jain trithankar. Made on the same structural pattern, Luna Vasahi Temple also has a Hathishala with 10 marble elephants. Again, Navchowki holds nine delicately carved ceilings with intricate marble work.

3. Pittalhar Temple:

Kalpavruksha_pagePittalhar Temple is dedicated to Lord Rishabdeo, the first Jain Tirthankara Lord. This temple was built by Bhima Shah, a minister of Sultan Begada of Ahmedabad. This temple is known as Peethalhar temple because in this temple most of the statues are built using ‘Pittal’ (Brass Metal). The Shrine consists of a main Garbhagriha, Gudh mandap and Navchowki. It seems that the construction of Rangmandap and the corridor was left unfinished. 

4. Parshvanatha Temple: 

Interior_of_the_Neminath_Temple,_Dilwara,_Mount_Abu_by_William_CarpenterThis temple, dedicated to Lord Parshvanath, was built by Mandlik and his family in 1458-59. It consists of a three storied building, the temple has the tallest shrine along with four big Mandapa’s amongst all dilwara temples. This three-storied building is dedicated to Lord Parshavanath, the 23rd Jain Tirthankar Lord. The outer walls of the sanctum comprise beautiful sculptures in gray sandstone, depicting Dikpals, Vidhyadevis, Yakshinis, Shalabhanjikas and other decorative sculptures comparable to the ones in Khajuraho and Konark. 

5. Mahavir Swami Temple:

Dilwara_Temple_(c._1900)This is a small structure constructed in 1582 and dedicated to Lord Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankara Lord. Though small, the carvings on the temple walls make this a marvelous conception in marble. On the upper walls of the porch there are pictures painted in 1764 by the artists of Sirohi. 

The Dilwara Jain Temples are open from 12 P.M. to 5 P.M. for tourist’s for free and No photography is allowed inside the temple complex.

How To Reach:

By Air: The nearest Airport Dabok Airport (185 km) Udaipur, Which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Rail: The nearest Railway station is Mount Abu railway station (25 km), Which is well-connected to different cities in India like New Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad.

By Road: Daily bus services are available from cities like Baroda and Ahmedabad. From Abu Road, you can hire a cab or take private/state transport buses to Mount Abu.

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Thousand Pillar Temple

Thousand_Pillars_Temple

The Thousand Pillar Temple or Rudreshwara Swamy Temple is a historic Hindu temple located in the town of Hanamakonda, Telangana State, India. It is dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Surya. Thousand Pillar Temple is a popular pilgrimage center, where thousands of devotees of all faith come here to pay their homage. The temple has an old and long history and dates back to the Chalukyan era. Thousand Pillar Temple, along with “Warangal Fort” and “Ramappa Temple” are added to the tentative list of World Heritage sites recognized by UNESCO.

An outstanding example of architectural brilliance during the reign of Kakatiya rule, Thousand Pillar temple is a place not only for devotees but for every history enthusiast and architecture lover. As the name suggests, the temple has a thousand pillars and is designed in the Kakatiya style of architecture. 

History : 

The Thousand Pillar Temple was believed to be constructed during the period between 1175–1324 CE by order of the king, Rudra Deva. The temple depicts the typical Chalukyan style of architecture. Constructed for almost 72 years, the Thousand pillar temple also finds mention in the accounts of Marco Polo. The Kakatiyas dedicated the Thousand pillar temple to Lord Vishnu and Lord Surya as well. Its rock-cut elephant sculpture, massive monolith of Nandi (Lord Shiva’s divine vehicle), intricate carvings will leave you mesmerized. The spiritual aura of Thousand Pillar Temple makes the experience even more enriching. It stands out to be a masterpiece and achieved major heights in terms of architectural skills by the ancient Kakatiyavishwakarma sthapathis.  The temple was destroyed by the Mughal Empire after the invasion of southern India. Massive renovation works have been undertaken to conserve and preserve the heritage of the temple.

Architecture : 

The temple is star-shaped with several shrines and lingams. Though Shaivisam (devotion to lord Shiva) continued to be the religion of masses of kakatiya dynasty still intellectuals preferred the revival of Vedic rituals. They sought to reconcile the Vaishnavites (followers of lord Vishnu) and the Shaivites (followers of lord Shiva) through the worship of Harihara (combination of lord Vishnu and lord Shiva). There are 1,000 pillars in the structure, but no pillar obstructs a person in any point of the temple to see the God. The temple is supported by the richly carved out pillars. The screens and the beautiful sculptures which adorn the walls of the temple add to the magnificence of the structure. This temple is constructed by using an unique technique called sandbox technique for strengthening the foundation. The temple is surrounded by a big garden in which many small lingam shrines can be seen. There is a carving of a Nandi bull in the form of a highly polished black basalt monolith. 

Roof-Thousand_pillar_templeMiddle_View_of_Thousand_Pillar_Temple

The Thousand Pillar Temple is constructed on a platform that is raised to a height of 1metre (3.3 ft) from ground level. Rock-cut elephants and perforated screens in the temple are characteristic of the then prevailing dynasty. This discovery has led some archaeologists to believe that the foundations of the temple might have been built upon water.

The best time to visit the Thousand Pillar Temple is during the winter months of October to March when the weather is pleasant in Warangal. Thousand pillar temple timings are from 6 AM to 8 PM.

How To Reach: 

By Air: The nearest Airport is Rajiv Gandhi International Airport Hyderabad (150 km), Which is well connected to all major city of India. 

By Rail: Warangal has well-established railway station, which connects all India and lies on South Central Railway zone. 

By Road: Regular buses ply on the roads from Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Karimnagar, Khammam and other districts of Andhra Pradesh.

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Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary

Photos_from_Parambikulam_Tiger_Reserve_and_its_Pooppara_section_during_the_Butterfly_Survey_2016_(38)

Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most scenic places in the Western Ghats and a biodiversity hotspot is a 391 square kilometers (151.0 sq mi) protected area in Chittur taluk in Palakkad district of Kerala state, South India. It is one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world supports diverse habitat types and endemism. The wildlife sanctuary, which had an area of 285 square kilometers (110 sq mi) was established in 1973. Previously it was known as Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary and it became the 38th Tiger Reserve and second of Kerala in 2010 February 19. This sanctuary is under the consideration of UNESCO to be declared as the World Heritage Site.

Tented_Niche_Accommodation_at_Parambikulam_Tiger_ReserveParambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is in the Sungam range of hills between the Anaimalai Hills and Nelliampathy Hills, is the home of four different tribes of indigenous peoples including the Kadar, Malasar, Muduvar and Mala Malasar settled in six colonies. The thick, opulent habitat of the sanctuary with ample water supplies make it an abode for wildlife and thereby for tourist who can have treasured memories of animal sightings and that of being in the lap of mother nature. Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is the most protected ecological piece of Annamalai subunit of Western Ghats, surrounded on all sides by protected areas and sanctuaries of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the sanctuary is endowed with a peninsular flora and fauna which are excellently conserved due to a total protection and minimal human interferences. 

Geography :

The sanctuary is located between Longitude:76° 35’- 76° 50’ E, and Latitude:10° 20’ – 10° 26’ N. It is 135 kilometers (84 mi) from Palakkad town and adjacent to the Annamalai Wildlife Sanctuary to the east in Tamil Nadu. Much of the sanctuary is part of Anamalai hills with peaks up to 1,438m (Karimala Gopuram) in the southern boundary of the sanctuary, 1,120m (Vengoli malai) in the eastern boundary, 1,010m (Puliyarapadam) in the west and 1,290m (Pandaravarai peak) in the north.  The sanctuary has three man-made reservoirs; Parambikulam, Thunacadavu (Thunakkadavu) and Peruvaripallam, with a combined area of 20.66 km. The Thuvaiar water falls empty into one of the reservoirs. There are 7 major valleys and 3 major rivers, the Parambikulam, the Sholayar and the Thekkedy. The Karappara river and Kuriarkutty river also drain the area.

Flora and Fauna: 

imagesMorning_at_Parambikulam_Tiger_Reservectuaries are home to 32-36 tigers. About 39 species of mammals, 16 species of amphibians, 61 species of reptiles, 47 species of fish, over 1000 species of insects and 124 species of butterflies have been reported from the region. The presence of 250 species of birds offers fantastic bird watching opportunities. It is also home to 39 species of mammals, 16 species of amphibians, 268 species of birds, 61 species of reptiles, 47 species of fishes, 1049 species of insects and 124 species of butterflies making it the perfect destination for wildlife and nature enthusiasts.

The sanctuary has a variety of trees mainly teak, neem, sandalwood, and rosewood. Even the oldest ever teak tree, Kannimara Teak exists here. It is about 450 years old and has a girth of 6.8 meters (22 ft) and a height of 49.5 meters (162 ft). It won the Mahavriksha Puraskar given by the Indian Government.

Climate : 

The challenging hill ranges here are placed at an altitude of 300 to 1438 m above sea level and the place offers a good climate with temperatures ranging from 15 degree Celsius to 32 degree Celsius. The Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary gets the monsoon rains.  The average annual rainfall is 1600 mm. The place receives rainfall in the months of January, February, March and April. From November to April is a most preferred time for visiting this place.

How To Reach:

By Air: The nearest Airport is Coimbatore international airport (110km), which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Rail: The nearest railway station is Coimbatore railway station (96 km),  which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Road: The nearest town is Pollachi (47 km), Two daily buses connect the tiger reserve to Pollachi.

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Yelagiri Hills

800px-Farms_in_Tamil_Nadu_from_Yelagiri_hills

Yelagiri is a hill station in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu, India, situated off the Vaniyambadi-Tirupattur road. This is the best closest hill station to Bangalore & Chennai. It is also one of the famous weekend getaways from Bangalore & Chennai. Yelagiri is a beautiful place in Southern India. Located at an altitude of 1,110.6 meters above Mean Sea Level and spread across 30 km, the Yelagiri village (also spelled Elagiri at times) is surrounded by orchards, rose-gardens, and green valleys.  The drive to the picturesque idyll winds through 14 hairpin bends that open up to spectacular mountain landscapes; after every twist and turn, the city seems to fade away a little more. 

1280px-Yelagiri_HillHowever, the district administration has now taken up the task of developing Yelagiri Hills into a tourist destination by promoting adventure sports such as paragliding and rock climbing. The first thing that hits you on arrival in Yelagiri is the lack of noise. The beautiful rustic surroundings are extraordinarily quiet and when someone rings a temple bell somewhere on the hill, you can hear it as clearly as if you were right there. The hill also attracts thousands of people during the annual Summer Festival. Yelagiri Hills has developed as an ideal destination for adventure sports lovers, especially paragliders and trekkers. Some of the trekking places are from Mangalam to Swamimalai (it is a 2-3 hr trek) and from near Athvanur bus stand to the sunset point in the evenings. The Yelagiri Adventure Sports Association (YASA) promotes paragliding, rock climbing, trekking, cycling at Yelagiri hill station. Yelagiri is one of those typical, silent places that seem ordinary on the outside, but are more and more startling as you discover it. It has all the features of a great hill station, be it sunset points or lakes and parks.

History : 

The main town of Yelagiri Hills is Athanavur, which comprises a winding road through the hills with isolated villages. The Whole of Yelagiri was once the private property of the Yelagiri Zamindar Family. It was taken over by the government of India during the Early 1950s. The house of the Yelagiri Zamindars still exists in Reddiyur. Fr. Francis Guezou of Don Bosco, worked for the uplift of hill tribals. He has been the main reason for the educational upliftment to the people of Yelagiri. Location And OverviewThe Yelagiri hill station is not as developed as other hill stations in Tamil Nadu like Ooty or Kodaikanal.

Tourist Attraction: 

Nature Park:

Nature_Park,_Yelagiri_Karnataka_IndiaNature Park is located adjacent to Punganoor Lake, Which surrounds the lake. Spread in an area of 12 acres, the Nature Park is an alluring place. A Park was established in the year 2008. It consists of an aquarium, rose garden, an artificial waterfall, and a musical fountain. The musical fountain has the water dancing to popular songs. The musical fountains show is there at 7 PM every day. The fish aquarium has a large variety of fish and tortoises. People of every age love to visit this park for a picnic to relax in the pleasant atmosphere of this park.

Entry Fee: Rs.15/- for adults and Rs.5/- for children and Rs 25/- for a musical fountain.

Timings: 7 AM – 8 PM on all days

Punganoor Lake: 

Yelagiri_Lake2 It is on of the most popular landmark in Yelagiri Hills. It is an artificial lake 25 feet deep with an adjoining park. There is also a fountain in the middle and boating facilities are available.  The tranquil atmosphere and lush green park adjoining will give you a pleasant experience. In the vicinity of the lake, there is a floriculture garden that houses a variety of flowers and rides for kids. The boat club here offers pedal and motor boat rides. The waters of the lake are calm and serene. There’s a walking track around the lake circumference, a children park, a small tree top view point, boating and few shops. One can take a short walk along the lakeside and also enjoy a boat ride. The Punganur lake is an ideal place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. 

Jalagamparai Waterfalls:

CourtallamAt a distance, 37 km from Yelagiri, 37 from Athanavur and 13 km from Thirupattur, magnificent Jalagamparai Waterfalls near Jadayanur is created by the River Attaaru running through the valleys of Yelagiri Hills. It is one of the best places to visit in Yelagiri Hills. It’s an hour, 5 km, walk from Yelagiri downhill. The falls are inundated with water from November to February and remain dry for most of the summer months. Through the valleys of Yelagiri Hills, Attaru River flows. the falls are inundated with water from November to February and remain dry for most of the summer months. Through the valleys of Yelagiri Hills, Attaru River flows. There is a Murugan Temple which has been constructed in the shape of a Shiva Lingam. 

Swamimalai Hill: 

3191168556_87fbbbb430_bSwami malai hills are the hills in the shape of cake with a strong base at the bottom and a high peak. It is a perfect place for those who love to enjoy the pleasure of trekking and mountain climbing spot with tourists. The Swamimalai temple on top offers stunning views of the countryside. Situated at 4,338 feet above the sea level, the 2-hour trekking starts at the eastern side of the Punganur lake. This trek leads one to a small peak from where the entire valley is visible.

 

Best Time To Visit Yelagiri Hills:

Yelagiri has a moderate climate, therefore, travelers love to visit the city all through the year.  Owing to its latitude, it never really gets too hot. But  if you want to see its Summer Festival, then May and June is the time to go. The 3-day Summer Festival in May is a time of festivity and cultural programs.

How To Reach : 

By Air: The nearest Airport is Bengaluru International Airport (191 Kms), Which is well connected to all major city of India.

By Rail: The nearest Railway station is Jolarpettai (21 km), Trains connect the Jolarpettai junction to Chennai, Bengaluru and Coimbatore railway stations.

By Road: Yelagiri sees regular buses from all major nearby centers. The Vellore Bus Stand is regularly connected with the hill station. Buses are also available from other nearby areas.

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Jog Falls

Jog_falls_front

Jog Falls, Gerosoppa Falls or Joga Falls is the second-highest plunge waterfall in India located near Sagara taluk, Shimoga district in the state of Karnataka. These magnificent falls are a major tourist attraction in Karnataka, the spellbinding view of which creates a truly memorable experience. Jog Falls is a segmented waterfall. That is, as it makes its descent, the waters of the Jog Falls makes separate forms (segments). It is also called by alternative names of Gerusoppe falls, Gersoppa Falls and Jogada Gundi. Its height is 830 feet and is located on Sharavati River. The falls are in four distinct cascades called as, Raja, Rani, Roarer and Rocket.

Jog Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in India and one of the top destinations of Karnataka Tourism. It is created by the Sharavathi River dropping 253 m (830 ft), making it the second-highest plunge waterfall in India after the Nohkalikai Falls with a drop of 335 m (1100 ft) in Meghalaya. Jog Falls does not fall from one rock to another in a stepped (tiered) formation, but falls directly straight from its peak. The number of drops of Jog Falls is just 1. 

Jog_Falls_2013Mighty_JogJog_falls,_Karnataka

Sharavati, a river which rises at Ambutirtha, near Nonabur, in the Thirthahalli taluk and takes the north-westerly course by Fatte petta, receives the Haridravati on the right below Pattaguppe and the Yenne Hole on the left above Barangi. On arriving at the frontier it bends to the west, and precipitating itself down the Falls of Gersoppa and passing that village (properly Geru-Sapp), which is really some 29 kilometers distant, discharges into the sea at Honnavar in North Kanara. Associated with the waterfall is the nearby Linganmakki Dam across river Sharavathi. The power station has been operational since 1948 and is of 120 MW capacity, one of the largest hydroelectric stations in India at that time and a small source of electric power for Karnataka now. The power station was previously named Krishna Rajendra hydro-electric project, after the King of Mysore at that time. The name was later changed to Mahatma Gandhi Hydroelectric Project. 

Before the onset of monsoon season, when there is not much water in the Linganmakki dam, the Jog Falls are a pair of thin streams of water trickling down the cliff, as the water collected in the dam is exclusively for generation of electricity; during monsoons local rain water is the source of water to the falls. Jog Jalapatha doesn’t flow in a stepped fashion; it is an untiered waterfall. Each of the four falls, take a vertical plunge which creates a misty atmosphere around the falls. The beauty of the waterfalls is enhanced by the lush green surroundings, which provide a scenic backdrop. Visitors can hike to the base of the falls and take a plunge in the water. The area near the falls is also ideal for trekking. Swarna Nadi riverbank, the Sharavathi valley and the lush green forest around the waterfalls are just as scenic. Other places to visit near the falls are Dabbe falls, Linganamakki Dam, Tunga Anicut Dam, Thyvare Koppa Lion and Tiger reserve and Sharavati River. 

The months of June till September witness heavy rainfall in the region. The monsoon season is the best season to visit Jog falls, as the beauty of the place is enhanced during monsoons.

How To Reach

By Air : The nearest airport to Jog falls is Hubli airport  (171 km), Which is well connected to all major city of India. 

By Rail : The nearest station Shimoga (100 km) is well connected to Bangalore and Mangalore via regular trains. 

By Road : Jog fall located on National Highway number 206 connecting Honovar to Tumkur and is well connected by road. Buses too are available for traveling to Jog Falls from the major cities in South India. Buses are available from Mangalore (243 km), Bangalore (387 km) and Shimoga (101 km).

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