Destinations

Incredible India

India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. India’s history and culture is dynamic, spanning back to the beginning of human civilization. It begins with a mysterious culture along the Indus River and in farming communities in the southern lands of India. The history of India is punctuated by constant integration of migrating people with the diverse cultures that surround India. Incredible India has been imprinted with the heritage, culture right from the Pre-historic Indus Valley Civilization through the ancient Vedic ages followed through with the formation of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, which again was trailed by Sultans, Mughal, & European colonies. All the above major influences on the Indian soil combined with the various local princely kingdoms had given Vibrant dimensions to the Incredible India. India takes pride in maintaining the harmony among diversities of 22 recognized languages and about 10 major religions. The meticulously designed Luxury Train Vacations of Maharajas’ Express takes to these vibrant demography’s of Incredible India. Each one of the five Luxury Train Trips of the Maharajas’ Express would be the apt choice for the Tourists yearning for a Luxury Indian Holidays. The Luxury Tour Circuits India of Maharajas’ Express covers the majestic TAJ MAHAL,Monument of Love, One among the Seven Wonders of the World and which is testimony to the rich Mughal Architecture, VARANASI, One of the world’s ancient cities. As Mark Twain wrote about Varanasi “Older than history, older than tradition, older even that legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”,JODHPUR, the Blue City which happened to be the capital of the former princely state of Marwar, UDAIPUR, the capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Mewar, founded by Maharana Udai Singh and is one of the oldest surviving dynasties in the world, JAIPUR, the Pink City and the Capital of Rajasthan, LUCKNOW, the land of Nawabs and region famous for its rich cuisines and art forms, RANTHAMBORE, home to the Royal Bengal Tiger and other natural habitats, BIKANER, popularly called the Camel Country and famous for its Sand-Dunes, KHAJURAHO, the city of exotic temple architecture which are superb examples of Indo-Aryan architecture, BALASINOR, home to the 2nd largest Dinosaur fossil park, popularly called Incredible India’s own Jurassic Park, GWALIOR, the seat of Scindia dynasty- a living heritage of heroism steeped in the splendor of its past, AJANTA, a UNESCO heritage site, Osiyan, referred to as “Khajuraho of Rajasthan” due to the multitude of beautiful Hindu and Jain temples it houses. These Itineraries of Maharajas’ Express across Incredible India is incorporated with the hand-picked off-board Luxury Excursions of Incredible India. Be it the sundowner Cocktails & barbeque at the Sand-dunes at Bikaner, Elephant Polo Match at City Palace, Jaipur, Champagne breakfast at Taj Khema, Agra will be moments to cherish at the Luxury Vacations India. Join aboard the Maharajas’ Express for an Experience Unsurpassed of Incredible India.

DELHI – THE NATIONAL CAPITAL OF INDIA

Delhi, India’s capital territory, is a massive metropolitan area in the country’s north. In Old Delhi, a neighborhood dating to the 1600s, stands the imposing Mughal-era Red Fort, a symbol of India, and the sprawling Jama Masjid mosque, whose courtyard accommodates 25,000 people. Nearby is Chandni Chowk, a vibrant bazaar filled with food carts, sweets shops and spice stalls.

Area : 1,484 Sq Kms Population : 18.98 million Delhi – The Capital City – is a city that connects two different worlds. Old Delhi is a maze of narrow lanes with old havelis and mosques. Setting a contrast, the colonial city of New Delhi is composed of imposing government buildings and spacious, tree-lined avenues. Delhi has witnessed the supremacy of many rulers and kingdoms. The city was built, destroyed and then rebuilt many a times. Fascinatingly, various rulers Delhi, played a dual role, first as demolishers and then as makers. The importance of Delhi is not constrained to the majestic history and magnificent structures, but also in the rich cultural diversity of the city. Chroniclers of Delhi Culture, right from Amir Khusro and Chand Bardai to present day writers, have never witnessed a shortage of topics. The city is dotted with dazzling gems, which include captivating ancient monuments, art galleries & museums, architectural wonders, fabulous eating places and vibrant markets. Delhi has served as a India’s political hub, thus, roots of every political activity could easily be traced here. This legacy has been followed since the mythological era. Indraprastha, which geographically is believed to be the present Delhi, was the capital of the Pandavas of the Mahabharata. As the history of Delhi is as ancient as the epic Mahabharata, earlier known as Indraprastha, eight more cities, adjacent to Indraprastha, came into light such as Lal Kot, Dinpanah, Ferozabad, Tughlakabad, Siri, Quila Rai Pithora, Jahanpanah, and Shahjahanabad. Over 5 centuries, Delhi has been a spectator to the political turmoil. In succession to Tughlaqs and Khiljis, Delhi was ruled by the Mughals. The traditional & present capital of India is not only recognized as the largest commercial center in Northern India, but has also marked its prominence as the largest center of small industries. The economy of Delhi is contributed by the IT sector, fashion, electronic, handloom, and textile industry. From October to March are the months to visit Delhi as the climatic condition is favorable. Along with this, the visitors also get the opportunity to witness the vibrant colors of festivals in Incredible Delhi.

JAIPUR – THE PINK CITY

  Jaipur, popular as “Pink City”, is known for housing some of the best architectural structures and heritage sights of the country. Everything in and around the city appears like the watermark of the rich heritage of the city in the erstwhile days. The local handicrafts, the ancient monuments, the Royal Palaces and the colorful saris, everything around Jaipur give a glimpse into the glorious lives of monarchy. Area:111.8 sq. km Established on: November 18, 1727 Founded by: Jai Singh II   History Planned by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, Jaipur holds the distinction of being the first planned city of India. He designed the city according to strong scientific principles of Shilpa Shastra, the traditional architectural manual and helped in forming Jaipur as India’s best planned city till date. Renowned globally for its coloured gems, the capital city of Rajasthan combines the allure of its ancient history with all the advantages of a metropolis. The bustling modern city is one of the three corners of the golden triangle that includes Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. The story goes that in 1876, the Prince of Wales visited India on a tour. Since the colour pink was symbolic of hospitality, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the entire city pink. The pink that colours the city makes for a marvellous spectacle to behold. Jaipur rises up majestically against the backdrop of the forts Nahargarh, Jaigarh and Garh Ganesh Temple. Jaipur traces back its origins to 1727 when it was established by Jai Singh II, the Raja of Amber. He shifted his capital from Amber to the new city because of the rapidly-growing population and an increasing water scarcity. His rivalry with rulers of Mewar, Sisodia Rajputs formed his alliance with Mughals and gave him importance in Rajasthan. He ruled from Amber Fort and took over Mewar (Udaipur) and Marwar (Jodhpur) kingdoms. He tried to support Aurangzeb’s son Azam Shah to get the throne after Aurangzeb’s death, but it went to Bahadur Shah, who asked for his banishment from courts. Jai Singh then formed alliance with other Rajput clans and defeated Mughals and reinstated his position.Jai Singh ordered construction of a city around Amber fort and named it as Jaipur. Jaipur – The Modern City There is no doubt in one’s mind why the Pink city is included in almost every itinerary when one plans a tour to India. Jaipur is a city like no other in the world. The city of Jaipur definitely makes it to the top of the list if one talks about India’s most beautiful destination. The city which acted as the stronghold of varied erstwhile rulers of Rajasthan, the city is flushed with numerous heritage buildings all around itself. The city boasts about treating tourists from all over the world with traditional Royal hospitality. The city of Jaipur is located right in the center of Thar Desert, and it is this strategic location that has provided her with a unique sense of lifestyle, architecture, culture and history. Jaipur is ideal when it comes to shopping activities. Tourists travel from faraway lands to this exotic destination and use the opportunity smartly to shop for authentic Rajasthani ornaments, artifacts, embroidered shoes and clothes, pottery items and other exotic items. Apart from shopping, Jaipur has other things to offer to tourists as well. The Jaipur fairs, pageants and festivals flushed with exceptional people in colorful clothes are as much a spectacle as the shops, houses and Havelis in the city that are all painted in Pink. Walking around the old city, seeing the magnificent architecture of the town, feeding on the authentically cooked Jaipur cuisines, is just a magical experience. Truly this city is marked for some of the best sightseeing ventures. The traditional outfit of Jaipur people is very appealing and one definitely would love to try them on himself/herself. For men, the outfit is white colored shirts and dhotis along with spectacularly colored turbans. For women, the colorful swaying saris are perfect. Right in this magical demonstration of colors, Jaipur houses some of the best tourist attractions. These attractions showcase the significance of the rich cultural aspects of Jaipur. A tour to some of these attractions is an experience of a lifetime.

SAWAI MADHOPUR

Area: 5042.99 sq km Founded by: Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I of Jaipur Founded in: 1756 Location: Around 146 km north-east of Jaipur GATEWAY TO RANTHAMBORE Cuddled up in the eastern zone of Rajasthan, Sawai Madhopur is one of the prominent conurbations of Rajasthan. Popularly known as the ‘Gateway to Ranthambore’, the town has seen many historic episodes and reigns. Sawai Madhopur has partly plain and partly undulating hilly terrain. The South and south east part of the district has hills and broken ground which form a part of a vast track of rugged region enclosing the narrow valley of the Chambal river. Surrounded by Vindhyas & Aravalis, this place is a treat for adventure enthusiasts as well as the ones with a fascination for history, with the Ranthambore National park- the most renowned national park in northern India and the Ranthambore Fort which was recently included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, being the main attractions. Passed on from the Chauhan Rajput king, Govinda to Vagabhatta, from RanaKumbha to Akbar and Aurangzeb, the city has been patronized by almost all the rulers. Beautification and renovation of the city has been regularly undertaken in almost all the regimes. Under the rule of Rao Hammir, the last Chauhan ruler the Ranthambore region prospered magnificently. In ancient India the region was more popularly known as Ranthambore. It was much later that it received the name, Sawai Madhopurfrom Maharaja SawaiMadhoSinghji I who is believed to have given the city its current plan in 1765 AD. During the British Rule Sawai Man Singh built a railway line between Jaipur and Sawai Madhopur. As a result it became accessible from a central spot in the state of Rajasthan. Today it has grown as one of the popular tourist destination in India. Former state of Karauli, Ranthambore was amongst the strongest forts of medieval India and is linked to Prithviraj, the ruler of Shakambhari who has golden cupolas put on the Jain temple of Ranthambore. To check the increasing incurious of the Marathas, Madho Singh, the ruler of Jaipur State requested for the grant of the fort of Ranthambore but did not succeed.

UDAIPUR

One of the most popular cities in Rajasthan, Udaipur is quite famous for its lakes and palaces. Known as ‘Jewel of Mewar’, this city was founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1553, on the banks of Lake Pichola. Claimed as the most romantic city of the royal state of Rajasthan, it is one of the prime destinations of the week-long journey of the Palace on Wheels. Udaipur boasts of picturesque locations and scenic surroundings offering an amazing vacation option for discerning travellers. Today, it is a perfect mix of old-world charm and contemporary attractions. Area : 64 sq. km Established On : In year 1553 Founded by : Maharana Udai Singh Location : On the Southern End of the Aravalli ranges THE CITY OF LAKES AND PALACES Often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’, the city of lakes Udaipur is located around azure water lakes and is hemmed in by lush green hills of Aravallis. The famous Lake Palace, located in the middle of Lake Pichola is one of the most beautiful sights of Udaipur. It is also home to Jaisamand Lake, claimed to be the second largest man-made sweet water lake in Asia. The beautiful City Palace and Sajjangarh (Monsoon Palace) add to the architectural beauty and grandeur of the city. The city is also known for its profusion of zinc and marble. Solar observatory in Lake Fateh Sagar is the only observatory in India located on an island and has been made on the pattern of Big Bear Lake in Southern California. The ten-day Shilpgram Festival which starts from 21 Dec to 30 Dec pulls in a large number of people interested in arts and crafts. Udaipur was founded in 1553 by Maharana Udai Singh II as the new capital of Mewar Kingdom. It is located in the fertile, circular Girwa Valley to the southwest of Nagda, which was the first capital of Mewar.

 

JODHPUR

Jodhpur is the second largest city of Rajasthan and a major tourist attraction in the country. Situated at the edge of the Thar Desert, it was founded by Rajput chief Rao Jodha in the year 1459. The erstwhile capital of the kingdom of Marwar, Jodhpur is dotted with a number of tourist attractions including forts, palaces, museums, and much more. Also known as the ‘Blue City’ or the ‘Sun City’, it is strategically placed on the road that links Delhi to the western Indian state of Gujarat. Area : 112.40 square km Established On :1459 Founded By : Rao Jodha, chief of the Rathore clan Location : Located towards the west of Jaipur (Distance: 338 km) A DELIGHTFUL BLEND OF THE MODERN AND THE TRADITIONAL Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan is popularly known as the Blue City. The name is clearly befitting as most of the architecture – forts, palaces, temples, havelis and even houses are built in vivid shades of blue. The strapping forts that tower this magnificent city sum up to a spectacle you would not want to miss. The mammoth, imposing fortress of Mehrangarh has a landscape dominating a rocky ridge with the eight gates leading out of the fortress. The new city is located outside the structure. Jodhpur is also known for the rare breed of horses known as Marwari or Malani, which are only found here. Jodhpur marks its origin back to the year of 1459 AD. The history of this prosperous city revolves around the Rathore clan. Rao Jodha, the chief of Rathore Clan is credited with the origin of Jodhpur in India. The city is known to be built in place of the ancient capital, Mandore of the state of Manwar. Hence, the people of Jodhpur and surrounding areas are commonly known as Marwaris. Also, it is believed that the relics of Mandore can still be witnessed in the Mandore Gardens.

AGRA – The CITY OF TAJ MAHAL

The Mughal City of Agra, fondly referred to as the city of the Taj, is one of the most well-known tourist destinations, all around the globe. Agra is placed on the western banks of the Yamuna also called the city of Taj Mahal is the perfect finale to your royal sojourn. Agra, the medieval city, is home to a number of tourist attractions including UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Area : 1, 880.40 km2 Established On : 1475 Founded By : Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king Location : On the banks River Yamuna towards the southwest corner of Uttar Pradesh state History The great Hindu epic Mahabharata mentions Agra, as Agraban, a forest near Mathura. However, Agra was founded by 1475 by Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king. Sultan Sikander Lodi made Agra his capital in 1501 but he was defeated in battle of Panipat in 1526 by Emperor Babur. Between the mid of 16th and the 17th century, Agra’s popularity was at its zenith when it was under the rule of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. This period was the time of construction of Taj Mahal also. In the year 1761, Agra came into the hands of Jat rulers who also looted some of the most beautiful temples of the city. While in 1770, it was under the reign of the Marathas, the British took over in 1803. After the revolt of 1857, Allahabad became the administrative province of the British and Agra was left on its own. This is when; it developed as a hub of heavy industry. Today Agra is a must-visit destination for all. Culture The Agra city is inhabited by people of all religions and cultures and so one can witness a mix of various cultures here. Agra is an amalgamation of traditional and modern way of living. Being close to Lord Krishna’s land Mathura, a touch of Brij culture can be seen here on the language of the locals. However, the influence of Mughal culture can be seen in everything, mannerisms, food, language and buildings. The people of Agra celebrate all the major festivals such as Diwali, Holi, Taj Mahoysav, Muharrum, Id-ul-Fitr, Id-ul-Adha with great zeal Taj Mahotsav, an annual extravaganza, is a great show of classical dance and music, folk performances, poetry, camel and elephant rides, a food festival, a Craft Mela and more. Shopping Agra has a lot to offer if you are one of those who love to indulge in shopping. You can get your hands on mini Taj replicas, as keepsakes and souvenirs. Another item which is a must-buy in Agra is its leather goods such as decorative stuff, bags, purses, sandals and much more. Be careful that you buy only original goods. The handicraft emporiums of Agra sell an array of rosewood and sandalwood items, stone-carved images and decorative pieces, made in brass. One of the most sought-after items, which you can buy in Agra markets, is beautiful pieces of exquisite Zari work. You also get good-quality carpets and durries here as well. However, the most popular amidst the tourists are the local renditions of Dal Moth (salty) and Peetha (sweet). Some of the famous markets in Agra are Sadar Bazaar, The Taj Complex, Loha Mandi, Raja Mandi, Kinari Bazaar, and Fuhaara.

AJANTA CAVES

Ajanta is the pride of Maharashtra. The rock-cut caves of the site illustrate the degree of skill and artistry that Indian craftsmen had achieved several hundred years ago. The village of Ajanta is in the Sahyadri hills, about 99 kms, from Aurangabad; a few miles away in a mammoth horseshoe rock, are 30 caves overlooking a gorge, `each forming a room in the hill and some with inner rooms. All these have been carved out of solid rock with little more than a hammer and chisel and the faith and inspiration of Buddhism. Here, for the Buddhist monks, the artisans excavated Chaityas (chapels) for prayer and Viharas (monasteries) where they lived and taught. Many of the caves have the most exquisite detailed carvings on the walls, pillars and entrances as well as magnificent wall paintings. The 30 caves of Ajanta were created over a span of some 600 years. These caves were discovered by an Army Officer in the Madras Regiment of the British Army in 1819 during one of his hunting expeditions. Instantly the discovery became very famous and Ajanta attained a very important tourist destination in the world. The caves, famous for its murals, are the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting. ” These caves are excavated in horse-shoe shaped bend of rock surface nearly 76 m in height overlooking a narrow stream known as Waghora. The location of this valley provided a calm and serene environment for the Buddhist monks who retreated at these secluded places during the rainy seasons. This retreat also provided them with enough time for furthering their religious pursuits through intellectual discourses for a considerably longer period.

Listing Of Caves

Phase I Caves 9 & 10 : Chaitya Halls or shrines Caves 12 & 13 : Viharas or monasteries Phase II: 5 th century AD to 6 th century AD Caves 19,26 & 29 : Chaitya Halls or shrines Caves 1-7, 11, 14-18, 20-25, 27 & 28 : Viharas or monasteries Unfinished Caves: 3, 5, 8, 23-25, 28 & 2 In all, total 30 excavations were hewn out of rock which also include an unfinished one. Out of these, five (cave no. 9, 10, 19, 26, and 29) are chaityagrihas and the rest are viharas. In date and style also, these caves can be divided into two broad groups. The earliest excavations belong to the Hinayana phase of Buddhism . These caves are datable to the pre-Christian era, the earliest among them being Cave 10 dating from the second century B.C. The object of worship is a stupa here and these caves exhibit the imitation of wooden construction to the extent that the rafters and beams are also sculpted even though they are non-functional. The world famous paintings at Ajanta also fall into two broad phases. The earliest is noticed in the form of fragmentary specimens in cave nos. 9 & 10, which are datable to second century B.C. The 30 caves of Ajanta were created over a span of some 600 years. The second phase of paintings started around 5th – 6th centuries A.D. and continued for the next two centuries. The specimen of these exemplary paintings of Vakataka period could be noticed in cave nos. 1, 2, 16 and 17. The variation in style and execution in these paintings also are noticed, mainly due to different authors of different time periods. It is worth walking away from the caves in order to look back on to the horseshoe gorge. The ingenuous water cistern system can be seen which must have provided water for the monks and their visitors. Ajanta was on the ancient trade route leading to the coast so there must have been considerable activity and many visitors. Nobody really knows what life was like in those times and visitors can interpret the past as they wish, which is perhaps yet another secret charm of Ajanta.

VARANASI also called BENARES

Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Many names have been given to Varanasi, though its recently revived official appellation is mentioned in the Mahabharata and in the Jataka tales of Buddhism. It probably derives its name from the two rivers that flank the city, the Varuna to the north and the Asi to the south. Many still use the anglicized forms of Banaras or Benares, while pilgrims refer to Kashi, first used three thousand years ago to describe the kingdom and the city outside which the Buddha preached his first sermon; the “City of Light” is also called Kashika, “the shining one”, referring to the light of Shiva. Another epithet, Avimukta, meaning “Never Forsaken”, refers to the city that Shiva never deserted, or that one should never leave. Varanasi’s associations with Shiva extend to the beginning of time: legends relate how, after his marriage to Parvati, Shiva left his Himalyan abode and came to reside in Kashi with all the gods in attendance. A city which, since it is both an exalted place of pilgrimage and centre of faith, has been likened to Jerusalem and Mecca.According to the historians, the city was founded some ten centuries before the birth of Christ. The city is mentioned in Holy Scriptures like ‘Vamana Purana’, Buddhist texts and in the epic ‘Mahabharata’.Mark Twain,the English author and litterateur,who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Banaras,once wrote:”Banaras is older than history,older than tradition,older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Varanasi’s prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrivalled. For the devout Hindu the city has always had a special place, besides being a pilgrimage centre,it is considered especially auspicious to die here, ensuring an instant route to heaven.The revered and ancient city Varanasi is the religious centre of the world of Hindus. A city where the past and present, eternity and continuity co-exist. The city of Banaras is situated on the west bank of the holiest of all Indian rivers, the Ganga or Ganges. The relationship between the sacred river and the city is the essence of Varanasi – ‘the land of sacred light’. The Ganga is believed to have flown from heaven to wash away the worldly sins of the human race.Life on the banks of the Ganga begins before dawn when thousands of pilgrims – men, women and children – come down to the river to wait for the rising sun when immersion in the sacred river will cleanse them of their sufferings and wash their sins away. Along the water’s edge, there are the burning ghats. The most sacred one is Manikarnika, associated with Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva’s wife. The major shrine is the Vishwanath Temple the abode of Lord Shiva, the most important of the trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara, the Lords of this universe. Around this temple evolved the spiritual identity of Varanasi . It is beside the holy waters of the Ganga that the activities for which Banaras is held sacred are performed. Everyday thousands of residents and pilgrims bathe, offer prayers to the elements, to the rising sun, and to their dead ancestors who have been carried away by these waters. What draws people to the river is an ingrained belief that these waters can absolve the sins of many generations. Everyone has their own way of celebrating the ritual contact with the holy Ganga: some bathe; other dip themselves entirely into the water once, thrice or any number of times; some drink the water; other make water offerings to the sun; while others fill their pots with holy water to take back to their homes to perform rituals and purification.The offerings to the sacred waters vary. Pilgrims give flowers, fruits, lamps and their respectful prayers. The appearance of the pillar of light is said to have occurred at the site of Vishvanatha Temple. The holy city within Banaras is thus called Kashi “The Luminous One’ or the ‘City of Light’. Light in Hindu philosophy has great meaning for it exemplifies the wisdom that destroys the darkness of ignorance. Sin and evil are understood to be the acts of ignorance. When wisdom is acquired, evil will disappear. Sin cannot be washed away by water or prayer but only by wisdom. Immorality is also reached through wisdom and understanding. So the City of Light is the City of Eternal Wisdom as well. To die in the city beside the river of life is to die with a promise of redemption, a promise to be liberated from the endless cycle of life and death and reincarnation, and to gain moksha or eternal absolution. So for centuries thousands of people have come to Banaras to die and thousands have brought the ashes of the dead here to immerse them in the holy waters. Banaras has always been associated with philosophy and wisdom. A place of learning for many years, the Banaras Hindu University carries on this tradition. The University campus, to the south of the city, was built at the beginning of this century. Pundit Madan Mohan Malviya was instrumental in founding it.

PLACES

DASHASHWAMEDHA GHAT Dashashwamedha is Varanasi’s most popular and accessible bathing ghat, with rows of pandas sitting on wooden platforms under bamboo umbrellas, masseurs plying their trade and boatmen jostling for custom. Its name, “ten horse sacrifices”, derives from a complex series of sacrifices performed by Brahma to test King Divodasa: Shiva and Parvati were sure the king’s resolve would fail, and he would be compelled to leave Kashi, thereby allowing them to return to their city. However, the sacrifices were so perfect that Brahma established the Brahmeshvara lingam here. Since that time, Dashashwamedha has become one of the most celebrated tirthas on earth, where pilgrims can reap the benefits of the huge sacrifice merely by bathing. MANIKARNIKA GHAT Varanasi’s pre-eminent cremation ground, Manikarnika Ghat. Such grounds are usually held to be inauspicious, and located on the fringes of cities, but the entire city of Shiva is regarded as Mahashmashana, the Great Cremation Ground for the corpse of the entire universe. The ghat is perpetually crowded with funeral parties, as well as the Doms, its Untouchable guardians, busy and pre-occupied with facilitating final release for those lucky enough to pass away here. Seeing bodies being cremated so publicly has always exerted a great fascination for visitors to the city, but photography is strictly taboo; even having a camera visible may be constructed as intent, and provoke hostility. Lying at the centre of the five tirthas, manikarnika Ghat symbolizes both creation and destruction, epitomized by the juxtaposition of the sacred well of Manikarnika Kund, said to have been dug by Vishnu at the time of creation, and the hot, sandy ash-infused soil of cremation grounds where time comes to an end. In Hindu mythology, Manikarnika Kund predates the arrival of the Ganga and has its source deep in the Himalayas. Vishnu created the kund with his discus, and filled it with perspiration from his exertions in creating the world, at the behest of Shiva. When Shiva quivered with delight, his earning fell into this pool, which as manikarnika “Jewelled Earring” became the first tirthas in the world. Every yea, after the floodwaters of the river have receded to leave the pool caked in alluvial deposits, the kund is re-dug. Its surroundings are cleaned and painted with brightly coloured folk art, which depicts the presiding goddess, Manikarnika Devi, inviting pilgrims to bathe and worship at its small Vishnu shrine, and at the paduka (footprint) of Vishnu set in marble on the embankment of the ghat. Strictly speaking, Manikarnika is the name given to the kund and to the ghat, while the constantly busy cremation ground is Jalasi Ghat, dominated by a dark smoke-stained temple built by Queen Ahalya Bai Holkar of Indore in the eighteenth century. RIVER FRONT (GHATS) The great river banks at Varanasi, built high with eighteenth and nineteenth-century pavilions and palaces, temples and terraces, are lined with an endless chain of stone steps ” the ghats ” progressing along the whole of the waterfront, altering in appearance with the dramatic seasonal fluctuations of the river level. Each of the hundred ghats, big and small, is marked by a lingam, and occupies its own special place in the religious geography of the city. Some have crumbled over the years, others continue to thrive, with early-morning bathers, brahmin priests offering puja, and people practicing meditation and yoga. Hindus puja, and people practicing meditation and yoga. Hindus regard the Ganges as amrita, the elixir of life, which brings purity to the living and salvation to the dead; sceptical outsiders tend to focus on all-persuasive and extreme lack of hygiene. Ashes to the dead, emissions from open drains and the left-overs from religious rites float by the devout as they go about their bathing and ceremonial cleansing. THE KASHI VISHWANATH TEMPLE Also known as the Golden Temple, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the city. Varanasi is said to be the point at which the first jyotirlinga, the fiery pillar of light by which Shiva manifested his supremacy over other gods, broke through the earth’s crust and flared towards the heavens. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remains the devotional focus of Varanasi. SARNATH Sarnath is 10 km from the holy city of Varanasi, and is an exceedingly tranquil place. Buddhists worldwide look upon India as the land of the Buddha and a visit to this country means a pilgrimage to those places sacred to the memory of the Enlightened One. After Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya he came to Sarnath. Here in the Deer Park, he delivered his first sermon, or in religious language, set in motion the Wheel of Law (Maha-Dharmachakra Pravartan). Sarnath yielded a rich collection of Buddhist sculptures comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images. Considered amongst the finest specimens of Buddhist art, these have been housed at the museum, adjacent to the site. The antiquities in the museum are datable from 3rd century BC to 12th century AD. Amongst the prized collections of the museum are the Lion Capital of the Mauryan Pillar which has become the National Emblem of India, various images of Lord Buddha in different posture and Tara, octagonal shaft and umbrella are also exhibited.

LUCKNOW

Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, extends along the banks of the River Gomti. The creator of Lucknow as it is today was Nawab Asaf ud Daula. The city became known as a centre for Urdu poetry and courtly diction, and reached its acme during the reign of Wajid Ali Shah who was a connoisseur of music and poetry. Lucknow is a city synonymous with the Nawabi Culture. The imperialistic splendour and magnificence of the Nawabi Era has been glorified and eulogized down the ages by writers, poets and historians alike. At the same time its mystical elegance and amorous ethos has caught the fascination of many world famous romantics. Known for its Adab and Tehzeeb (cultural refinement), Lucknow is also associated with its legendary hospitality, leisurely moods of life, fabled edifices steeped in history, world renowned cuisine and exquisite Sham-e-Avadh. Tremors of time have not effaced Lucknow of its cultural heritage and traditions, which once contributed in creating the city incomparable in its times. As the 18th century seat of the Nawabs of Avadh, Lucknow flourished becoming an important political and cultural centre, rivalling Delhi in its patronage to art and literature. It was during this time that culture and architecture synthesized emerging in a distinct form now so typical to the Lucknow culture. The peace and prosperity under the governance of the nawabs brought about a cultural renaissance in Avadh. Musicians and dancers flocked to Lucknow giving birth to new musical forms and instruments under the patronage of the royalty. Art forms like Kathak, Thumri, Khayal, Dadra, Qawalis, Ghazals and Shero Shairi saw their finest hour. In this era major stress was laid on even minor details like the art of dressing, apparels (libaas) and jewellery all symbolic of a genteel lifestyle. The legacy of the exquisite embroidery still lives on with equal zest in today’s modern era. Culinary skills, too, reached heights of excellence as the nawabs were not only gracious hosts but also extremely fond of good nutritious food. Thus emerged the skillful art of slow cooking. The royalty of Avadh was also famous for indulging in extravagant pastimes like elephant and rooster fights and kite flying, a game that still evokes passionate involvement among the flyers and the bystander alike. The field of architecture saw re-interpretation of the existing styles and experimentation in the fusion of the occidental and the oriental style of architecture. The magnificent edifices standing proudly among the architectural skyline of the city are living examples of the nawab’s architectural ingenuity. Modern Lucknow, spread evenly on both sides of river Gomti, is a perfect blend of the ancient with the modern, as many glitzy shopping arcades coexist with the old monuments. The greatest attraction of Lucknow, where the past jostles with the present is its unique ability to achieve harmony amidst disorder and to assimilate the new into the old.

PLACES

JAMA MASJID The construction of Jama Masjid, to the north-west of Hussainabad Imambara, was started in 1832 AD during the reign of Mohammad Ali Shah but was completed after his death by his begum, Nawab Malika Janah. It is entirely free from the pseudo-Italian art then in vogue in Lucknow and reflects the Mughal style of architecture. KAISERBAGH PALACE COMPLEX The construction of the Kaiserbagh palace complex was started in 1848 by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and was completed in 1850. The buildings on three sides of the Kaiserbagh quadrangle, once provided quarters for the ladies of Wajid Ali Shah’s harem. In the centre stands the white Baradari, a grand white stone edifice which was earlier paved with silver. RESIDENCY Built for the British Resident during 1780-1800, it was originally a large complex of many buildings. It was the scene of dramatic events during the first war of independence in 1857. The main building overlooks the river Gomti and is surrounded by terraced lawns and gardens. Today, only the scarred ruins bear witness to the turmoil of 1857. RUMI DARWAZA The 60 feet high Rumi Gate was constructed under Nawab Asafl-us-Daula in 1786. It is said to be identical in design to an ancient portal at Constantinople. Its uppermost part consists of an eight faceted chhatri, approachable by a staircase. SHAHNAJAF IMAMBARA This white domed mausoleum owes its existence to Ghazi-ud-din Haider, who on the bank of the Gomti near Sikanderbagh reproduced a copy of Hazrat Ali’s burial at Najaf in Iraq. Ghazi-ud-din Haider, and later his three wives, were buried here. The silver tomb of Ghazi-ud-din Haider lies in the centre of this building and is flanked by the more imposing silver and gold tomb of Mubarak Mahal on one side. VIDHAN SABHA BHAWAN (THE COUNCIL HOUSE) Its foundation was laid in 1922 by Sir Harcourt Butler and the construction was completed in six years. Its octagonal shaped chamber has a domed roof decorated with peacocks in fully plumed splendor.

KHAJURAHO

One thousand years ago, under the generous and artistic patronage of the Chandela Rajput kings of Central India, 85 temples, magnificent in form and richly carved, came up on one site, near the village of Khajuraho. The amazingly short span of 100 years, from 950 AD – 1050 AD, saw the completion of all the temples, in an inspired burst of creativity. Today, of the original 85, only 22 have survived the ravages of time; these remain as a collective paean to life, to joy and to creativity; to the ultimate fusion of man with his creator. Why did the Chandelas choose Khajuraho or Khajirvahila – garden of dates, as it was known then – as the site for their stupendous creations? Even in those days it was no more than a small village. It is possible given the eclectic patronage of the Chandelas and the wide variety of beliefs represented in the temples, that they had the concept of forming a seat of religion and learning at Khajuraho. It is possible that the Chandelas were also believers in the powers of Tantrism; the cult which believes that the gratification of earthly desires is a step closer to the attainment of the infinite. It is certain however, that the temples represent the expression of a highly matured civilization. Yet another theory is that the erotica of Khajuraho, and indeed of other temples, had a specific purpose. In those days when boys lived in hermitages, following the Hindu law of being “brahmacharis” until they attained manhood, the only way they could prepare themselves for the worldly role of ‘householder’ was through the study of these sculptures and the earthly passions they depicted. Khajuraho continued its religious importance until the 14th century but was afterward largely forgotten; its remoteness probably saved it from the desecration that the Muslim, or Mughal, conquerors generally inflicted on Hindu monuments. In 1838 a British army captain, T.S. Burt, came upon information that led him to the rediscovery of the complex of temples in the jungle in Khajuraho. The monuments at Khajuraho were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986. Modern Khajuraho is a small village. Tourism is the leading economic factor. An airport connects Khajuraho with several cities in India. The town’s name derives from the prevalence of khajur, or date palms, in the area. MYTHOLOGY The creators of Khajuraho claimed descent from the moon. The legend that describes the origin of this great dynasty is a fascinating one: Hemavati, the beautiful young daughter of a Brahmin priest was seduced by the moon god while bathing in the Rati river one evening. The child born of this union between a mortal and a god was a son, Chandravarman. Harassed by society, the unwed mother sought refuge in the dense forest of Central India where she was both mother and guru to her young son. The boy grew up to found the great Chandela dynasty. When he was established as a ruler, he had a dream-visitation from his mother, who implored him to build temples that would reveal human passions, and in doing so bring about a realization of the emptiness of human desire. Chandravarman began the construction of the first of the temples, successive rulers added to the fast growing complex.

PLACES

THE TEMPLES The architectural style of the Khajuraho temples is very different from the temple prototype of that period. Each stands, instead of within the customary enclosure, on a high masonry platform. Combined with the upward direction of the structure, which is further accentuated by vertical projections, the total effect is one of grace and lightness, reminiscent of the Himalayan peaks. Each of the chief compartments has its own roof, grouped in such a way that the highest is in the centre, the lowest over the portico, a triumph of skill and imagination in recreating the rising peaks of a range. The temples of Khajuraho are divided into three geographical groups: Western, Eastern and Southern. THE WESTERN GROUP The local tradition lists eighty-five temples but now only twenty-five are standing examples in various stages of preservation. But for Chausath-Yogini, Brahma and Mahadeva which are of granite, all the other temples are of fine grained sandstone, buff, pink or pale yellow in colour. Yasovarman (AD 954) built the temple of Vishnu, now famous as Lakshmana temple is an ornate and evolved example of its time proclaiming the prestige of the Chandellas. The Visvanatha, Parsvanatha and Vaidyanatha temples belong to the time of king Dhanga, the successor of Yasovarman. The Jagadambi, Chitragupta, are noteworthy among the western group of royal temples of Khajuraho. The largest and grandest temple of Khajuraho is the immortal Kandariya Mahadeva which is attributed to king Ganda (AD 1017-29). The other examples that followed viz., Vamana, Adinatha, Javari, Chaturbhuj and Duladeo, are smaller but elaborately designed. The Khajuraho groups of temples are noted for lofty terraces (jagati) and functionally effective plans comprising of an ardhamandapa, acting as entrance generally adorned with makara torana and kakshasana, the mandapa, as the hall with antarala leading to garbha griha or sanctum. The larger temples have mahamandapas in front of the ardhamandapa. They also have minor shrines at four corners and thus categorized as pancayatana. The exterior of the temples are richly decorated. In contrast, Javari and Brahma temples are simpler creations. The sculptural embellishments include, besides the cult images; parivara, parsva, avarana devatas, dikpalas, the apsarases and sura-sundaris which win universal admiration for their delicate, youthful female forms of ravishing beauty. The attire and ornamentation embrace the winsome grace and charm. The recent excavation at Bija Mandal in Jatkara near Khajuraho has revealed the remains of a huge temple base datable to 11th century A.D. which extends over 4 m than the largest known temple (Kandariya Mahadeo Temple). An exquisite image of Sarasvati was also found from here. THE EASTERN GROUP Hindu and Jain temples make up the Eastern Group, which lies close to the Khajuraho village. The largest Jain temple, Parswanath, is in this group. Exquisite in detail, the sculptures on the northern outer wall make this temple perhaps the finest in the group. The themes of these carvings are the timeless ones of every day, mortal activity. A woman sits bent pensively on a letter; a lovely young girl removes a thorn from her foot, the master craftsmen of Khajuraho display here their deep understanding of the trifles that make up a human life. Within, the sanctum has a throne, which faces a bull : emblem of the first tirthankara, Adinath. The actual image of Parswanath from which the temple derives its name was installed as recently as 1860. The other Jain temple in this group is the Ghantai Temple. Though almost in ruins now, it still bears evidence of its original splendour. Particularly, arresting is the frieze which depicts, in graphic detail, the 16 dreams of Mahavira’s mother and a multi-armed Jain goddess riding on a winged Garuda. North of Parswanatha is the more modestly sized Adinatha Temple. The three Hindu temples in the Eastern Group are the Brahma, Vamana and Javari Temples. A double row of apsaras, celestial nymphs, adorn the outer walls of the Vamana temple. A variety of sensuous attitudes: languid, provocative, mischievously inviting, give credibility to the theory that Khajuraho’s erotica were meant to test the devotees who came to worship their gods at the temples. THE SOUTHERN GROUP 5 km from the Khajuraho village, lies the Southern Group of temples. The fine Chaturbhuj Temple in this group has a massive intricately carved image of Vishnu in the sanctum. Duladeo Temple, another of the southern group, is a little away from the road to the Jain group of temples. Though remains of temples belonging to the Khajuraho group have been discovered at Jatkari, 3 km away and even at Maribag in Rewa, it is at the 3 main groups that the imperishable glory of Khajuraho, the sensuous celebration of life, the aspiration towards the infinite, remains. THE LIGHT AND SOUND SHOW: This fascinating Son-et-Lumiere spectacle evokes the life and times of the great Chandela Kings and traces the story of the unique temples from the 10th Century to the present day.Mounted in the complex of the Western Group of temples, the 50-minute show runs in Hindi and in English every evening. Amitabh Bachchan, the Indian super star, narrates the story of Khajuraho in his mesmerising voice. KANDARIYA DANCE SHOW – Indian folk dance can be enjoyed at the comfortable indoor theatre at Kandariya Art & Cultural Centre. The show lasts for 45 mins and is a medley of various dances from different states of India. It gives you a wonderful glimpse of rich culture and dance forms of India.

BIKANER

Lying in the north of the desert State, the city is dotted with scores of sand dunes. Bikaner retains the medieval grandeur that permeates the city’s lifestyle. More readily called the camel country, the city is distinguished for the best riding camels in the world and hence boasts of having one of the largest Camel Research and Breeding farms in the world. The ship of the desert is an inseparable part of life here. The history of Bikaner dates back to 1486 when a Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji founded his kingdom. Bikaji was one the five sons of Rao Jodhaji the illustrious founder of Jodhpur. But Rao Bikaji was the most adventurous of them. It is said that an insensitive remark from his father about his whispering in the Durbar provoked Bikaji to set up his own kingdom towards the north of Jodhpur. The barren wilderness called Jangladesh became his focul point and he transformed it into an impressive city. He accomplished this task with 100 cavalry horses and 500 soldiers, and established his kingdom on 84 villages . When Bikaji died in 1504 his rule had extended to over 3000 villages. The strategic location of Bikaner on the ancient caravan routes that came from West/Central Asia made it a prime trade centre in those times. Bikaner stands on a slightly raised ground and is circumscribed by a seven km long embattledwall with five gates. The magnificent forts and palaces, created with delicacy in reddish-pink sandstone, bear testimony to its rich historical and architectural legacy. Surging lanes, colourful bazaars with bright and cheerful folks make Bikaner an interesting experience. Modern Bikaner is the result of the foresight of its most eminent ruler Maharaja Ganga Singh (1887-1943) whose reformative zeal set the pace for Bikaner transformation from a principality to a premier princely state.

PLACES

BHANDESWAR JAIN TEMPLE Bhandeswar Jain Temple is a fifteenth century temple and is the oldest monument of Bikaner. The temple is decorated with rich mirror work, frescoes and gold leaf paintings. DESHNOK Deshnok is a small village situated 32 km south of Bikaner city along the Jodhpur Road. It is connected by national highway and rail. It is a pilgrim centre of Karni Mata said to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga-who lived here in the fourteenth century and performed many miracles. Originally, the village was called ‘dus-nok’ meaning ten corners as it was formed by taking ten corners of ten villages. In front of the temple is a beautiful marble facade, which has solid silver doors built by Maharaja Ganga Singh. Across the doorway are more silver doors with panels depicting the various legends of the Goddess. The image of the Goddess is enshrined in the inner sanctum. GAJNER Gajner is an incomparable jewel in the Thar. It was built by the great Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner on the embankment of a lake with a generous dose of flora and fauna. Basically a hunting and relaxing lodge, the maharaja and the family shared their passion with their exclusive guests and hosted exotic holidays for them. Around the palace is a thick forestation that encourages the guests to go for a simple walk admiring the migratory birds in winter like imperial sand grouse, antelopes, black bucks and the animal species that wander around in the form of Nilgais, chinkaras, deers etc. The hotel is spread over a large area, and the ambience around is as raw and authentic as it was before. JUNAGARH It is an unassailable fortress, which had never been conquered. Built in 1593 A.D. by Raja Rai Singh, one of the most distinguished generals in the army of Emperor Akbar, the fort is a formidable structure encircled by a moat. The main entrance to the fort is Karan Pol [gate] that is facing east. Next to it is the Suraj Pol meaning the sun gate. In the fort complex are some magnificent palaces like Anup Mahal, Ganga Niwas and Rang Mahal or palace of pleasure. The Har Mandir is the majestic chapel for the royal family for worshipping their gods and goddesses. These palaces, constructed in red sandstone and marble, make a picturesque ensemble of courtyards, balconies, kiosks and windows dotted all over the structure. The premises also house a museum, which has an array of rich collection. LALLGARH PALACE This grand palace is an architectural masterpiece in red sandstone, and was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the memory of his father Maharaja Lall Singh in 1902. Sir Swinton Jacob designed this oriental fantasy. This architecture is a fusion of Rajput, Mughal and European architecture. The exterior contrasts dramatically with the oriental interiors and amenities. The palace has beautiful latticework and filigree work, which are the hallmarks of great craftsmanship.The Palace has an amazing collection of well maintained paintings and hunting trophies. Sprawling lawns with blooming bougainvillaea and dancing peacocks make for a visual extravaganza. NATIONAL RESEARCH CENTER ON CAMEL Spend a day with the indispensable ship of the desert at the camel research and breeding centres which is only one of its kinds in Asia. The farm extends over 2000 acres of semi arid land and is managed by the Government of India.

BALASINOR

Balasinor (also referred to as Vadasinor) is a town located in Gujarat, India. Formerly a princely state of the Babi (Yusufzai Pathan) dynasty, it was created in 28 Sep 1758, out of the Junagadh Babis. Founded in the 18th century, a Second class State in the Rewa Kantha agency. The family of this State had descended from Sardar Mohammad Khan, fourth in descent from Sher Khan Babi I, who was made “BABI” (Door Keeper) of the Imperial Court.

PLACES

Balasinor is a unique travel destination in Gujarat famously known as Jurassic Park of India. The site is in the village of Raiyoli and also called Raiyoli Dinosaur Fossil Excavation Site. It was in 1981 when geological survey of India searching for mineral rich area accidentally discovered dinosaur fossils in Balasinor. Since then Dinosaur tourism became very popular in Balasinor as thousands of tourists interested in seeing the fossils of dinosaurs started to travel Balasinor. So far Paleontologists have uncovered about 10,000 fossils of dinosaur eggs, bones and skeleton in Raiyoli near Balasinor. In total over 13 species of dinosaur existed in the Balasinor for more than 100 million years before their extinction around 65 million years ago. This discovery has made Balasinor third largest dinosaur eggs hatchery in the world. The discovery of dinosaur fossils and being dubbed as the Jurassic Park has increased Dinosaur tourism in Balasinor. The soft soil of Balasinor has actually preserved the fossils pretty well. At the site in Balasinor, tourists can see the skin and other bones of the dinasaurs. Tourists can also see real dinosaur eggs at the site in Balasinor. But what makes Balasinor must travel destination is the fact that it is the only place in world where tourists can actually hold a fossilized dinosaur egg in their hand.

Gwalior

Gwalior’s tradition as a royal capital continued until the formation of present day India, with the Scindias having their dynastic seat here. The magnificent mementoes of a glorious past have been preserved with care, giving Gwalior an appeal unique and timeless. Gwalior’s history is traced back to a legend. In 8 A.D, a chieftain called Suraj Sen was stricken by a deadly disease. He was cured by a hermit saint, Gwalior, and in gratitude founded a city which he named after the saint who had given him the gift of new life. The new city of Gwalior became, over the centuries, the cradle of great dynasties and with each, the city gained new dimensions from warrior kings, poets, musicians and saints, contributing to making it a capital renowned throughout the country.Since then, Gwalior is considered to be a city where a rich cultural tradition has been interwoven into the fabric of modern life. Also where a princely past lives on in great palaces and their museums. And where a multitude of images merge and mix to present to the visitor a city of enduring greatness.

PLACES

ART GALLERIES AND MUSEUMS The Gujari Mahal Archaeological Museum houses rare antiquities, some of them dating back to the 1st century AD. Even though many of these have been defaced by the iconoclastic Mughals, their perfection of form has survived the ravages of time. Particularly worth seeing is the statue of Shalbhanjika from Gyraspur, the tree goddess, epitome of perfection in miniature. The statue is kept in the custody of the museum’s curator, and can be seen on request. The museum is open every day except Monday, from 10 am to 5 pm. The Kala Vithika is another treasure house of the arts. It remains closed on Sunday and public holidays. The Municipal Corporation Museum, which is open all days except Mondays, has a very fine natural history section. The old ancestral house of the legendry Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan has recently been converted into’Sarod Ghar’- Museum of Music by the Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Memorial Trust under the patronage and guidance of his great son and sarod maestro Ustad Amzad Ali Khan. The museum has been rebuilt keeping in mind the old traditional architecture of Gwalior and houses in it ancient instruments of the great Indian Masters of yesteryears. JAI VILAS PALACE A splendour of a different kind exists in the Jai Vilas Palace, current residence of the Scindia family. Some 35 rooms have been made into the Scindia Museum, and in these rooms, so evocative of a regal lifestyle, the past comes alive. Jai Vilas is an Italianate structure which combines the Tuscan and Corinthian architectural modes. The imposing Darbar Hall has two central chandeliers, weighing a couple of tonnes, and hung only after ten elephants had tested the strength of the roof. Ceilings picked out in gilt, heavy draperies and tapestries, fine Persian carpets, and antique furniture from France and Italy are features of these spacious rooms. Eye-catching treasures include: a silver train with cut-glass placed over wagons which served guests as it chugged around on miniature rails on the tables; a glass cradle from Italy used for the baby Krishna each Janamashtami; silver dinner services and swords that were once worn by Aurangzeb and Shah Jehan. There are, besides, personal mementoes of the past members of the Scindia family: the jewelled slippers that belonged to Chinkoo Rani, four-poster beds, gifts from practically every country in the world, hunting trophies and portraits. The Scindia Museum offers an unparalleled glimpse into the rich culture and lifestyle of princely India. Open everyday except Wednesday from 10 am to 5.30 pm. MONUMENTS The father of Hindustani classical music’ the great Tansen, one of the ‘nine Jewels’ of Akbar’s court’ lies buried in Gwalior. The memorial to this great musician has a pristine simplicity about it, and is built in the early Mughal architectural style. More than a monument, the Tansen’s Tomb is part of Gwalior’s living cultural heritage; it is the venue of a music festival on a national scale held annually in November-December. Leading musicians of the country gather here to give performances during the festival. More opulent than Tansen’s Tomb, is the sandstone mausoleum of the Afghan prince, Ghous Mohammed, also designed on early Mughal lines. Particularly, exquisite are the screens which use the pierced stone technique, as delicate as lace. The earliest freedom fighters, Tatya Tope and the indomitable Rani of Jhansi, are commemorated in memorials in Gwalior. There are cenotaphs at major public crossings, memorials to Scindia kings and queens. Throughout the city, there are these reminders of a proud past, of the great men and women of Gwalior who have their place in the nation’s roll of honour. Located near the Residency at Morar, the newly constructed Sun Temple takes its inspiration from the famous Konark Sun Temple in Orissa. TELI KA MANDIR & SAS-BAHU-KA-MANDIR The Teli ka Mandir is a 9th century edifice, towering at 100 ft high. This is a Pratihara Vishnu temple of a unique blending of architectural styles. The shape of the roof is distinctively Dravidian, while the decorative embellishments have the typically Indo-Aryan characteristics of Northern India. Also dedicated to Vishnu is the graceful little Sas-Bahu-ka-Mandir, built in 11th century. This temple is one of the greatest architectural marvels situated by Gwalior Fort. The entire temple is covered with carvings, notably 4 idols of Bramha, Vishnu and Saraswati above its entrance door. However, limestone erodes over time, and soon portions of the limestone fell, later spurring conflict as to whether it was a Jain temple or a Hindu temple. THE GWALIOR FORT Standing on a steep mass of sandstone, Gwalior Fort dominates the city and is its most magnificent monument. It has been a scene of momentous events : imprisonments, battles and jauhars. A steep road winds upwards to the Fort, flanked by statues of Jain tirthankaras, carved into the rock face. The magnificent outer walls of the Fort still stand, two miles in length and 35 feet high, bearing witness to its reputation for being one of the most invincible forts of India. This imposing structure inspired Emperor Babar to describe it “the pearl amongst the fortresses of Hind.” Within the fort are some marvels of medieval architecture. The 15th century Gujari Mahal is a monument to the love of Raja Mansingh Tomar for his Gujar queen, Mrignayani. After he had wooed and won her, so the story goes, Mrignayani demanded that he build her a separate palace with a constant water supply from the River Rai, via an aqueduct. The outer structure of the Gujari Mahal has survived in an almost total state of preservation; the interior has been converted into an Archaeological Museum. Also built by Raja Mansingh is the Man Mandir Palace, built between 1486 and 1517. The tiles that once adorned its exterior have not survived, but at the entrance, traces of these still remain. There is a charming frieze here of ducks paddling in turquoise waters. Within, the palace rooms stand bare, stripped of their former glory, mute testimony to the passing of the centuries. Vast chambers with fine stone screens were once the music halls, and behind these screens, the royal ladies would learn music from the great masters of the day. Below, circular dungeons once housed the state prisoners of the Mughals. The Emperor Aurangzeb had his brother, Murad, imprisoned, and later executed, here. Close by is Jauhar Pond, where in the Rajput tradition, the ‘ranis’ committed mass ‘sati’ after their consorts had been defeated in battle. Though the major portions of the Fort were built in the 15th century, references to this gigantic complex can be traced back to 425 AD. Older than the city is the Suraj Kund within the Fort walls, the original pond where Suraj Sen, or Suraj Pal as he was later known, was cured by the Saint Gwalipa. THE GWALIOR FORT SOUND AND LIGHTS SHOW For many decades now, the Fort of Gwalior has slumbered in silence, broken now and then by the patter of curious feet and awed tones. Come sundown, the deserted Fort is once again left with only memories for company. But now it comes alive every night. Well remembered incidents, and well-loved voices once more echo through its lonely corridors and its dark and sad facade now glows with the colours of life. Red-gold, blue-green lights illuminate every nook and cranny of the superbly tiled ‘Man Mandir’. The Gwalior Son-et-Lumiere has begun. The Sound and Light show at the Man Mandir Palace of Gwalior Fort gives you a glimpse into its glorious past. The story of this ‘pearl’ begins with the sonorous and eloquent narration by Amitabh Bachchan as Gopachal, the sutradhar (narrator).

MUMBAI

Mumbai, the city that never sleeps! Pulsating, Alive, On the Move, Vibrant, Fun – this is Mumbai or as it is still frequently referred to – Bombay. The most modern city in India, it captures the spirit of the changing pace set by liberalization and modernisation. Once a cluster of seven islands, Mumbai was presented to King Charles II in 1661 as part of the dowry when he married Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal. History – A Glorious Heritage The Hindu Rule Originally, the seven islands were a part of the kingdom of Ashoka. After Ashoka’s demise, countless rulers of the Silahara dynasty took over until the Kingdom of Gujarat annexed the islands in 1343 AD and remained such till 1543 AD. Portuguese Colonization In 1543 AD, the Portuguese seized the isles from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and they remained in their control until 1661. Following this period, the isles were ceded as dowry to Catherine de Braganza when she married Charles II of England. He, in turn, leased the isles to the East India Company during their colonization in 1668 and that’s when the city was named Bombay. In a matter of seven years, the population of the city rose from a mere 10,000 to 60,000 in 1675. After the population in the city began to grow, the East India Company officially transferred their headquarters from Surat to the new city called Bombay. Post-Independence Mumbai is the business capital of India and is also one on the largest cities in the country. The present population of Mumbai is estimated to be millions and is still growing. Not many know however, how the population grew or how the city got its status as the commercial capital of India. The insight into the history of this glorious city is the answer to its inspiriting beginnings and eminence around the world.

PLACES

CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI TERMINUS (VICTORIA TERMINUS) The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus in Mumbai, is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is the westernmost end point of the Central Railways of India. It is also the southern end point of the central and harbour lines of Mumbai’s metropolitan rail transport system. A large section of the building is given over to administrative functions of the Central Railways, including commercial operations such as railway reservations. A magnificent building, completed in 1888, the Victoria Terminus was named after the then Queen Empress (Queen Victoria) on Jubilee Day, 1887. Construction started in 1878 based on a design by F. W. Stevens, and took 10 years to complete. The cost of construction was Rs. 16.14 lakhs (Rs. 1.614 million). The railway station was opened to the public on New Year’s Day, 1882. It is now the starting point of the Central Railways. The south-western part of the building is topped by a dome holding up a statue of Progress. It is an early example of a uniquely Bombay style of architecture which emerged when British architects worked with Indian craftsmen to include Indian architectural tradition and idioms. When the building was first used it held not only railway functionaries such as the accounts, chief engineer and traffic manager but also other municipal offices such as the superintendent of the police. Curiously, railway tickets were also printed in the same building. The Victoria Terminus was renamed Chhatrapati Sivaji Terminus on March 4, 1996. It was put on the UNESCO World Heritage List on July 2, 2004. It is the first functional administrative building to be put on this list. Unfortunately, some of the lovely carvings are at such an awkward height that you can only get a close view from the top deck of a passing double-decker bus. FLORA FOUNTAIN AND THE GOTHIC/VICTORIAN BUILDINGS OF THE FORT AREA The Flora Fountain stands on the site of the old church gate of the Bombay Fort, now a major crossroad named Hutatma Chowk. It was erected to honour Sir Bartle Frere, a former governor of Bombay and named after the Greek goddess Flora. Other buildings to see in the Fountain or Fort area are the University of Mumbai buildings including the imposing Rajabhai Tower, the Mumbai High Court, the Old Secretariat, and the Institute of Science on one end. Close by are situated St Thomas Cathedral, the Asiatic Society of Bombay or Town Hall, the Office of the Director General of Police, the General Post Office and the Thomas Cook building. The Western Railway Headquarters is also quite near, across the street from the Churchgate Station. These buildings are fine examples of the Gothic and Indo-Saracenic style. Many are illuminated by night. An exotic way of seeing these sights would be by the MTDC open-air bus or by the few surviving Victorias or buggy rides. GATEWAY OF INDIA Mumbai’s most striking monument, this too was designed by George Wittet. It has an imposing gateway arch in the Indo-Saracenic style with Gujarati and Islamic elements such as wooden carvings. It was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India in 1911. This area is also the departing point for ferries plying to Elephanta Island and other beaches across the port. Behind it is the beautiful heritage structure of the Taj Mahal Hotel. GLOBAL VIPASSANA PAGODA Global Vipassana Pagoda is the World’s Largest Pillar-less dome with a capacity to seat 8,000 meditators. In it are also enshrined Buddha’s genuine relics, thus becoming the first such pagoda in India after King Ashoka’s era. In a beautiful and natural setting, surrounded by sea on three sides and atop a hillock, this architectural marvel announces the renewed possibility of learning Vipassana meditation once again, in the same pure and effective form as Buddha taught it 2,600 years ago.The Pagoda radiates peace and harmony and encourages one and all to learn Vipassana to transform oneself into a peaceful,powerful and pure person , based on the experience of millions around the world. It is decorated with Burmese facade to show gratitude to the Burmese Master Ven Sayagyi U Ba Khin who inspired Vipassana revival in the world. Only a world that has peaceful individuals can be a peaceful place, is the Vipassana Pagoda’s message to the world. HAJI ALI SHRINE Further along the seashore, at the end of a long pathway surrounded by seawater is the shrine dedicated to Haji Ali, a Muslim saint. Access is only at low tide via the pathway. MALABAR HILL This is essentially an up-market residential area with some spectacular views of the city surroundings. On the road climbing up, is a Jain temple dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain tirthankara. At one end, on the top are the Hanging Gardens (Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens) and the Kamala Nehru Park. Both provide relaxing atmospheres of greenery. Beside the Hanging Gardens are the Parsi Towers of Silence. But these are off-limits to all except those who have come to dispose and pay respect to the dead. MANI BHAVAN This simple and charming museum was where Mahatma Gandhi lived on his visits to Mumbai between 1917 and 1934. Gandhi’s room and belongings including his books are on display. Mani Bhavan is situated on Laburnam Road, near the August Kranti Maidan, where the ‘Quit India’ movement was launched in 1942. Open daily from 9.30 am to 6 pm. MARINE DRIVE AND CHOWPATTY BEACH Chowpatty Beach is a teeming mass of people, vendors, masseurs and roadside restaurants with its specialties being bhelpuri and kulfi. Across the Chowpatty Beach area is the Taraporewala Aquarium. Marine Drive is also referred to as the Queen’s Necklace because of the dramatic line of street lamps lit up at night. For the most part, a pleasant promenade continues along the beach. NATIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN ART (NGMA) This is the former Cowasji Jehangir Hall, of the Institute of Science. It has been renovated to serve as a four-storey exhibition hall, displaying the best of Indian contemporary art. Open daily except Monday, from 10 am to 5 pm. PRINCE OF WALES MUSEUM This is one of Mumbai’s finest example of Victorian architecture. Built to commemorate King George V’s visit to Mumbai (while still Prince of Wales), it was designed by George Wittet and completed in 1923. It is undoubtedly one of India’s finest museums and houses treasures, artefacts, paintings and sculpture from the many periods covering India’s history, including the Indus Valley Civilization. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30 am to 6 pm.

DELHI  – THE NATIONAL CAPITAL OF INDIA

Delhi, India’s capital territory, is a massive metropolitan area in the country’s north. In Old Delhi, a neighborhood dating to the 1600s, stands the imposing Mughal-era Red Fort, a symbol of India, and the sprawling Jama Masjid mosque, whose courtyard accommodates 25,000 people. Nearby is Chandni Chowk, a vibrant bazaar filled with food carts, sweets shops and spice stalls.

Area : 1,484 Sq Kms

Population : 18.98 million

Delhi – The Capital City – is a city that connects two different worlds. Old Delhi is a maze of narrow lanes with old havelis and mosques. Setting a contrast, the colonial city of New Delhi is composed of imposing government buildings and spacious, tree-lined avenues. Delhi has witnessed the supremacy of many rulers and kingdoms. The city was built, destroyed and then rebuilt many a times. Fascinatingly, various rulers Delhi, played a dual role, first as demolishers and then as makers.

The importance of Delhi is not constrained to the majestic history and magnificent structures, but also in the rich cultural diversity of the city. Chroniclers of Delhi Culture, right from Amir Khusro and Chand Bardai to present day writers, have never witnessed a shortage of topics. The city is dotted with dazzling gems, which include captivating ancient monuments, art galleries & museums, architectural wonders, fabulous eating places and vibrant markets.

Delhi has served as a India’s political hub, thus, roots of every political activity could easily be traced here. This legacy has been followed since the mythological era. Indraprastha, which geographically is believed to be the present Delhi, was the capital of the Pandavas of the Mahabharata.

As the history of Delhi is as ancient as the epic Mahabharata, earlier known as Indraprastha, eight more cities, adjacent to Indraprastha, came into light such as Lal Kot, Dinpanah, Ferozabad, Tughlakabad, Siri, Quila Rai Pithora, Jahanpanah, and Shahjahanabad. Over 5 centuries, Delhi has been a spectator to the political turmoil. In succession to Tughlaqs and Khiljis, Delhi was ruled by the Mughals.

The traditional & present capital of India is not only recognized as the largest commercial center in Northern India, but has also marked its prominence as the largest center of small industries. The economy of Delhi is contributed by the IT sector, fashion, electronic, handloom, and textile industry. From October to March are the months to visit Delhi as the climatic condition is favorable. Along with this, the visitors also get the opportunity to witness the vibrant colors of festivals in Incredible Delhi.

JAIPUR – THE PINK CITY

Jaipur, popular as “Pink City”, is known for housing some of the best architectural structures and heritage sights of the country. Everything in and around the city appears like the watermark of the rich heritage of the city in the erstwhile days. The local handicrafts, the ancient monuments, the Royal Palaces and the colorful saris, everything around Jaipur give a glimpse into the glorious lives of monarchy.

Area:111.8 sq. km

Established on: November 18, 1727

Founded by: Jai Singh II

 

History

Planned by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, Jaipur holds the distinction of being the first planned city of India. He designed the city according to strong scientific principles of Shilpa Shastra, the traditional architectural manual and helped in forming Jaipur as India’s best planned city till date.

Renowned globally for its coloured gems, the capital city of Rajasthan combines the allure of its ancient history with all the advantages of a metropolis. The bustling modern city is one of the three corners of the golden triangle that includes Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.

The story goes that in 1876, the Prince of Wales visited India on a tour. Since the colour pink was symbolic of hospitality, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the entire city pink. The pink that colours the city makes for a marvellous spectacle to behold. Jaipur rises up majestically against the backdrop of the forts Nahargarh, Jaigarh and Garh Ganesh Temple.

Jaipur traces back its origins to 1727 when it was established by Jai Singh II, the Raja of Amber. He shifted his capital from Amber to the new city because of the rapidly-growing population and an increasing water scarcity. His rivalry with rulers of Mewar, Sisodia Rajputs formed his alliance with Mughals and gave him importance in Rajasthan.

He ruled from Amber Fort and took over Mewar (Udaipur) and Marwar (Jodhpur) kingdoms. He tried to support Aurangzeb’s son Azam Shah to get the throne after Aurangzeb’s death, but it went to Bahadur Shah, who asked for his banishment from courts.

Jai Singh then formed alliance with other Rajput clans and defeated Mughals and reinstated his position.Jai Singh ordered construction of a city around Amber fort and named it as Jaipur.

Jaipur – The Modern City

There is no doubt in one’s mind why the Pink city is included in almost every itinerary when one plans a tour to India. Jaipur is a city like no other in the world.

The city of Jaipur definitely makes it to the top of the list if one talks about India’s most beautiful destination. The city which acted as the stronghold of varied erstwhile rulers of Rajasthan, the city is flushed with numerous heritage buildings all around itself. The city boasts about treating tourists from all over the world with traditional Royal hospitality.

The city of Jaipur is located right in the center of Thar Desert, and it is this strategic location that has provided her with a unique sense of lifestyle, architecture, culture and history.

Jaipur is ideal when it comes to shopping activities. Tourists travel from faraway lands to this exotic destination and use the opportunity smartly to shop for authentic Rajasthani ornaments, artifacts, embroidered shoes and clothes, pottery items and other exotic items.

Apart from shopping, Jaipur has other things to offer to tourists as well. The Jaipur fairs, pageants and festivals flushed with exceptional people in colorful clothes are as much a spectacle as the shops, houses and Havelis in the city that are all painted in Pink.

Walking around the old city, seeing the magnificent architecture of the town, feeding on the authentically cooked Jaipur cuisines, is just a magical experience. Truly this city is marked for some of the best sightseeing ventures.

The traditional outfit of Jaipur people is very appealing and one definitely would love to try them on himself/herself. For men, the outfit is white colored shirts and dhotis along with spectacularly colored turbans. For women, the colorful swaying saris are perfect.

Right in this magical demonstration of colors, Jaipur houses some of the best tourist attractions. These attractions showcase the significance of the rich cultural aspects of Jaipur.  A tour to some of these attractions is an experience of a lifetime.

SAWAI MADHOPUR

Area: 5042.99 sq km

Founded by: Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I of Jaipur

Founded in: 1756

Location: Around 146 km north-east of Jaipur

GATEWAY TO RANTHAMBORE

Cuddled up in the eastern zone of Rajasthan, Sawai Madhopur is one of the prominent conurbations of Rajasthan. Popularly known as the ‘Gateway to Ranthambore’, the town has seen many historic episodes and reigns. Sawai Madhopur has partly plain and partly undulating hilly terrain. The South and south east part of the district has hills and broken ground which form a part of a vast track of rugged region enclosing the narrow valley of the Chambal river. Surrounded by Vindhyas & Aravalis, this place is a treat for adventure enthusiasts as well as the ones with a fascination for history, with the Ranthambore National park- the most renowned national park in northern India and the Ranthambore Fort which was recently included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, being the main attractions.

Passed on from the Chauhan Rajput king, Govinda to Vagabhatta, from RanaKumbha to Akbar and Aurangzeb, the city has been patronized by almost all the rulers. Beautification and renovation of the city has been regularly undertaken in almost all the regimes. Under the rule of Rao Hammir, the last Chauhan ruler the Ranthambore region prospered magnificently. In ancient India the region was more popularly known as Ranthambore. It was much later that it received the name, Sawai Madhopurfrom Maharaja SawaiMadhoSinghji I who is believed to have given the city its current plan in 1765 AD. During the British Rule Sawai Man Singh built a railway line between Jaipur and Sawai Madhopur. As a result it became accessible from a central spot in the state of Rajasthan. Today it has grown as one of the popular tourist destination in India.

Former state of Karauli, Ranthambore was amongst the strongest forts of medieval India and is linked to Prithviraj, the ruler of Shakambhari who has golden cupolas put on the Jain temple of Ranthambore. To check the increasing incurious of the Marathas, Madho Singh, the ruler of Jaipur State requested for the grant of the fort of Ranthambore but did not succeed.

CHITTORGARH

Area: 28 sq km

Location: On the banks of Berach and Gambhiri rivers

VISIT THE LAND OF INDIA’S FINEST FORT

Chittaurgarh (Chittorgarh) is among the most historic fort city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. In every tour itinerary to this part of India, a visit here is generally included. The reason for this is the rich history and cultural heritage of the city that is wrapped around with elements of chivalry, tragedy and Romanticism. The majestic Chittaurgarh Fort in here was the pride of erstwhile Rajput kings who ruled over here and stood mighty and proud even after facing several wars and attacks from enemy battalions. There are numerous minarets, forts, palaces and temples in and around Chittaurgarh which are a must-visit.

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

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

UDAIPUR

One of the most popular cities in Rajasthan, Udaipur is quite famous for its lakes and palaces. Known as ‘Jewel of Mewar’, this city was founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1553, on the banks of Lake Pichola. Claimed as the most romantic city of the royal state of Rajasthan, it is one of the prime destinations of the week-long journey of the Palace on Wheels. Udaipur boasts of picturesque locations and scenic surroundings offering an amazing vacation option for discerning travellers. Today, it is a perfect mix of old-world charm and contemporary attractions.

Area : 64 sq. km

Established On : In year 1553

Founded by : Maharana Udai Singh

Location : On the Southern End of the Aravalli ranges

THE CITY OF LAKES AND PALACES

Often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’, the city of lakes Udaipur is located around azure water lakes and is hemmed in by lush green hills of Aravallis. The famous Lake Palace, located in the middle of Lake Pichola is one of the most beautiful sights of Udaipur. It is also home to Jaisamand Lake, claimed to be the second largest man-made sweet water lake in Asia. The beautiful City Palace and Sajjangarh (Monsoon Palace) add to the architectural beauty and grandeur of the city. The city is also known for its profusion of zinc and marble. Solar observatory in Lake Fateh Sagar is the only observatory in India located on an island and has been made on the pattern of  Big Bear Lake in Southern California. The ten-day Shilpgram Festival which starts from 21 Dec to 30 Dec pulls in a large number of people interested in arts and crafts.

Udaipur was founded in 1553 by Maharana Udai Singh II as the new capital of Mewar Kingdom. It is located in the fertile, circular Girwa Valley to the southwest of Nagda, which was the first capital of Mewar.

JAISALMER

Popularly called as the “Golden City”,

Jaisalmer is one of the most famous destinations in the state of Rajasthan. Situated in the westernmost region of Rajasthan, the town is known for its location right in the middle of Thar Desert. Tourists love going out for a Desert Safari amidst the vast sand dunes of the desert. Jaisalmer stands mighty and proud and welcome tourist from all over the world to get accustomed to her magical world of color, history and fable.

Area: 38,201 sq. km

Founded on: 1156 AD

Founded byMaharawal Jaisal Singh

Location: Jaisalmer is located in Indian state of Rajasthan. From Jaipur, it is in the West direction

WHERE THE FORTS ARE STILL ALIVE

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

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

JODHPUR

Jodhpur is the second largest city of Rajasthan and a major tourist attraction in the country. Situated at the edge of the Thar Desert, it was founded by Rajput chief Rao Jodha in the year 1459. The erstwhile capital of the kingdom of Marwar, Jodhpur is dotted with a number of tourist attractions including forts, palaces, museums, and much more. Also known as the ‘Blue City’ or the ‘Sun City’, it is strategically placed on the road that links Delhi to the western Indian state of Gujarat.

Area : 112.40 square km

Established On :1459

Founded By : Rao Jodha, chief of the Rathore clan

Location :  Located towards the west of Jaipur (Distance: 338 km)

 A DELIGHTFUL BLEND OF THE MODERN AND THE TRADITIONAL

Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan is popularly known as the Blue City. The name is clearly befitting as most of the architecture – forts, palaces, temples, havelis and even houses are built in vivid shades of blue. The strapping forts that tower this magnificent city sum up to a spectacle you would not want to miss. The mammoth, imposing fortress of Mehrangarh has a landscape dominating a rocky ridge with the eight gates leading out of the fortress. The new city is located outside the structure. Jodhpur is also known for the rare breed of horses known as Marwari or Malani, which are only found here.

Jodhpur marks its origin back to the year of 1459 AD. The history of this prosperous city revolves around the Rathore clan. Rao Jodha, the chief of Rathore Clan is credited with the origin of Jodhpur in India. The city is known to be built in place of the ancient capital, Mandore of the state of Manwar. Hence, the people of Jodhpur and surrounding areas are commonly known as Marwaris. Also, it is believed that the relics of Mandore can still be witnessed in the Mandore Gardens.

BHARATPUR BIRDING PARADISE

Also known as the ‘Eastern Gateway of Rajasthan’, Bharatpur was established by Maharaja Suraj Mal in the year 1733. It was the erstwhile region of Jat Maharajas and was situated in Mewat region. The royal family of Bharatpur traces its history to the 11th century A.D. Lohagarh is another name given to the town of Bharatpur. Although a territory of Rajasthan, Bharatpur is also considered as a part of New Delhi Capital Region (NCR). Being home to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur is a sheer heaven for ornithologists.

Altitude: 183 meters (600 feet)

Founded on: 1733

Founded by: Maharaja Suraj Mal Singh

Location: Bharatpur is located in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is 182 kilometers away from Delhi and 57 kilometers away from Agra.

WORLD’S MOST FASCINATING BIRD RESERVE

The history of Bharatpur dates back to 5th century BC, when the Matsya kingdom flourished here. The Matsyas were allies of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata war. Legends say that the origin of the name Bharatpur is traced to Bharat, younger brother of Lord Ram. Laxman, the other brother, was given the most prestigious position as that of the family deity of the ruling family of Bharatpur. His name also appears in the state seals and coat-of-arms.

In the early 18th century, Maharaja Suraj Mal captured the fort of Bharatpur by vanquishing Khemkaran, the rival chieftain and laid the foundation for Bharatpur. The valiant Maharaja was very keen to expand the cities and is credited with building the numerous forts and palaces that dot the kingdom, including the Pleasure Palace Complex at Deeg.

Bharatpur is also home to one of the world’s best-known bird watching destinations, Keoladeo Ghana National Park (KNP). 250 years ago, the then ruler built embankments that allowed flooding of this land, turning it into a marsh. Named after the dense jungle that surrounded an old Shiva Temple, this 29 square kilometre man-made wetland is renowned for migratory birds – ducks, geese, waders, raptors, flycatchers and more. In winter, avid birders and ornithologists flock to the park to observe and study the feathered beauties. With more than 370 recorded species, KNP used to also host the Siberian crane. It is a World Heritage Site.

AGRA – The CITY OF TAJ MAHAL

The Mughal City of Agra, fondly referred to as the city of the Taj, is one of the most well-known tourist destinations, all around the globe. Agra is placed on the western banks of the Yamuna also called the city of  Taj Mahal is the perfect finale to your royal sojourn. Agra, the medieval city, is home to a number of tourist attractions including UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Area : 1, 880.40 km2

Established On : 1475

Founded By : Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king

Location : On the banks River Yamuna towards the southwest corner of Uttar Pradesh state
History

The great Hindu epic Mahabharata mentions Agra, as Agraban, a forest near Mathura. However, Agra was founded by 1475 by Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king. Sultan Sikander Lodi made Agra his capital in 1501 but he was defeated in battle of Panipat in 1526 by Emperor Babur. Between the mid of 16th and the 17th century, Agra’s popularity was at its zenith when it was under the rule of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan.  This period was the time of construction of Taj Mahal also.

In the year 1761, Agra came into the hands of Jat rulers who also looted some of the most beautiful temples of the city. While in 1770, it was under the reign of the Marathas, the British took over in 1803. After the revolt of 1857, Allahabad became the administrative province of the British and Agra was left on its own. This is when; it developed as a hub of heavy industry. Today Agra is a must-visit destination for all.

Culture

The Agra city is inhabited by people of all religions and cultures and so one can witness a mix of various cultures here. Agra is an amalgamation of traditional and modern way of living. Being close to Lord Krishna’s land Mathura, a touch of Brij culture can be seen here on the language of the locals. However, the influence of Mughal culture can be seen in everything, mannerisms, food, language and buildings.

The people of Agra celebrate all the major festivals such as Diwali, Holi, Taj Mahoysav, Muharrum, Id-ul-Fitr, Id-ul-Adha with great zeal Taj Mahotsav, an annual extravaganza, is a great show of classical dance and music, folk performances, poetry, camel and elephant rides, a food festival, a Craft Mela and more.

Shopping

Agra has a lot to offer if you are one of those who love to indulge in shopping. You can get your hands on mini Taj replicas, as keepsakes and souvenirs. Another item which is a must-buy in Agra is its leather goods such as decorative stuff, bags, purses, sandals and much more. Be careful that you buy only original goods. The handicraft emporiums of Agra sell an array of rosewood and sandalwood items, stone-carved images and decorative pieces, made in brass.
One of the most sought-after items, which you can buy in Agra markets, is beautiful pieces of exquisite Zari work. You also get good-quality carpets and durries here as well. However, the most popular amidst the tourists are the local renditions of Dal Moth (salty) and Peetha (sweet). Some of the famous markets in Agra are Sadar Bazaar, The Taj Complex, Loha Mandi, Raja Mandi, Kinari Bazaar, and Fuhaara.

Incredible India

India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. India’s history and culture is dynamic, spanning back to the beginning of human civilization. It begins with a mysterious culture along the Indus River and in farming communities in the southern lands of India. The history of India is punctuated by constant integration of migrating people with the diverse cultures that surround India. Incredible India has been imprinted with the heritage, culture right from the Pre-historic Indus Valley Civilization through the ancient Vedic ages followed through with the formation of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, which again was trailed by Sultans, Mughal, & European colonies. All the above major influences on the Indian soil combined with the various local princely kingdoms had given Vibrant dimensions to the Incredible India. India takes pride in maintaining the harmony among diversities of 22 recognized languages and about 10 major religions. The meticulously designed Luxury Train Vacations of Deccan Odyssey takes to these vibrant demography’s of Incredible India. Each one of the five Luxury Train Trips of the Deccan Odyssey would be the apt choice for the Tourists yearning for a Luxury Indian Holidays. The Luxury Tour Circuits India of Maharajas’ Express covers the majestic TAJ MAHAL,Monument of Love, One among the Seven Wonders of the World and which is testimony to the rich Mughal Architecture, VARANASI, One of the world’s ancient cities. As Mark Twain wrote about Varanasi “Older than history, older than tradition, older even that legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”,JODHPUR, the Blue City which happened to be the capital of the former princely state of Marwar, UDAIPUR, the capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Mewar, founded by Maharana Udai Singh and is one of the oldest surviving dynasties in the world, JAIPUR, the Pink City and the Capital of Rajasthan, LUCKNOW, the land of Nawabs and region famous for its rich cuisines and art forms, RANTHAMBORE, home to the Royal Bengal Tiger and other natural habitats, BIKANER, popularly called the Camel Country and famous for its Sand-Dunes, AJANTA, a UNESCO heritage site, Osiyan, referred to as “Khajuraho of Rajasthan” due to the multitude of beautiful Hindu and Jain temples it houses. These Itineraries of Deccan Odyssey across Incredible India is incorporated with the hand-picked off-board Luxury Excursions of Incredible India. Join aboard the Deccan Odyssey for an Experience Unsurpassed of Incredible India.

DELHI – THE NATIONAL CAPITAL OF INDIA

Delhi, India’s capital territory, is a massive metropolitan area in the country’s north. In Old Delhi, a neighborhood dating to the 1600s, stands the imposing Mughal-era Red Fort, a symbol of India, and the sprawling Jama Masjid mosque, whose courtyard accommodates 25,000 people. Nearby is Chandni Chowk, a vibrant bazaar filled with food carts, sweets shops and spice stalls.

Area : 1,484 Sq Kms Population : 18.98 million Delhi – The Capital City – is a city that connects two different worlds. Old Delhi is a maze of narrow lanes with old havelis and mosques. Setting a contrast, the colonial city of New Delhi is composed of imposing government buildings and spacious, tree-lined avenues. Delhi has witnessed the supremacy of many rulers and kingdoms. The city was built, destroyed and then rebuilt many a times. Fascinatingly, various rulers Delhi, played a dual role, first as demolishers and then as makers. The importance of Delhi is not constrained to the majestic history and magnificent structures, but also in the rich cultural diversity of the city. Chroniclers of Delhi Culture, right from Amir Khusro and Chand Bardai to present day writers, have never witnessed a shortage of topics. The city is dotted with dazzling gems, which include captivating ancient monuments, art galleries & museums, architectural wonders, fabulous eating places and vibrant markets. Delhi has served as a India’s political hub, thus, roots of every political activity could easily be traced here. This legacy has been followed since the mythological era. Indraprastha, which geographically is believed to be the present Delhi, was the capital of the Pandavas of the Mahabharata. As the history of Delhi is as ancient as the epic Mahabharata, earlier known as Indraprastha, eight more cities, adjacent to Indraprastha, came into light such as Lal Kot, Dinpanah, Ferozabad, Tughlakabad, Siri, Quila Rai Pithora, Jahanpanah, and Shahjahanabad. Over 5 centuries, Delhi has been a spectator to the political turmoil. In succession to Tughlaqs and Khiljis, Delhi was ruled by the Mughals. The traditional & present capital of India is not only recognized as the largest commercial center in Northern India, but has also marked its prominence as the largest center of small industries. The economy of Delhi is contributed by the IT sector, fashion, electronic, handloom, and textile industry. From October to March are the months to visit Delhi as the climatic condition is favorable. Along with this, the visitors also get the opportunity to witness the vibrant colors of festivals in Incredible Delhi.

JAIPUR – THE PINK CITY

Jaipur, popular as “Pink City”, is known for housing some of the best architectural structures and heritage sights of the country. Everything in and around the city appears like the watermark of the rich heritage of the city in the erstwhile days. The local handicrafts, the ancient monuments, the Royal Palaces and the colorful saris, everything around Jaipur give a glimpse into the glorious lives of monarchy. Area:111.8 sq. km Established on: November 18, 1727 Founded by: Jai Singh II   History Planned by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, Jaipur holds the distinction of being the first planned city of India. He designed the city according to strong scientific principles of Shilpa Shastra, the traditional architectural manual and helped in forming Jaipur as India’s best planned city till date. Renowned globally for its coloured gems, the capital city of Rajasthan combines the allure of its ancient history with all the advantages of a metropolis. The bustling modern city is one of the three corners of the golden triangle that includes Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. The story goes that in 1876, the Prince of Wales visited India on a tour. Since the colour pink was symbolic of hospitality, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the entire city pink. The pink that colours the city makes for a marvellous spectacle to behold. Jaipur rises up majestically against the backdrop of the forts Nahargarh, Jaigarh and Garh Ganesh Temple. Jaipur traces back its origins to 1727 when it was established by Jai Singh II, the Raja of Amber. He shifted his capital from Amber to the new city because of the rapidly-growing population and an increasing water scarcity. His rivalry with rulers of Mewar, Sisodia Rajputs formed his alliance with Mughals and gave him importance in Rajasthan. He ruled from Amber Fort and took over Mewar (Udaipur) and Marwar (Jodhpur) kingdoms. He tried to support Aurangzeb’s son Azam Shah to get the throne after Aurangzeb’s death, but it went to Bahadur Shah, who asked for his banishment from courts. Jai Singh then formed alliance with other Rajput clans and defeated Mughals and reinstated his position.Jai Singh ordered construction of a city around Amber fort and named it as Jaipur. Jaipur – The Modern City There is no doubt in one’s mind why the Pink city is included in almost every itinerary when one plans a tour to India. Jaipur is a city like no other in the world. The city of Jaipur definitely makes it to the top of the list if one talks about India’s most beautiful destination. The city which acted as the stronghold of varied erstwhile rulers of Rajasthan, the city is flushed with numerous heritage buildings all around itself. The city boasts about treating tourists from all over the world with traditional Royal hospitality. The city of Jaipur is located right in the center of Thar Desert, and it is this strategic location that has provided her with a unique sense of lifestyle, architecture, culture and history. Jaipur is ideal when it comes to shopping activities. Tourists travel from faraway lands to this exotic destination and use the opportunity smartly to shop for authentic Rajasthani ornaments, artifacts, embroidered shoes and clothes, pottery items and other exotic items. Apart from shopping, Jaipur has other things to offer to tourists as well. The Jaipur fairs, pageants and festivals flushed with exceptional people in colorful clothes are as much a spectacle as the shops, houses and Havelis in the city that are all painted in Pink. Walking around the old city, seeing the magnificent architecture of the town, feeding on the authentically cooked Jaipur cuisines, is just a magical experience. Truly this city is marked for some of the best sightseeing ventures. The traditional outfit of Jaipur people is very appealing and one definitely would love to try them on himself/herself. For men, the outfit is white colored shirts and dhotis along with spectacularly colored turbans. For women, the colorful swaying saris are perfect. Right in this magical demonstration of colors, Jaipur houses some of the best tourist attractions. These attractions showcase the significance of the rich cultural aspects of Jaipur. A tour to some of these attractions is an experience of a lifetime.

SAWAI MADHOPUR

Area: 5042.99 sq km Founded by: Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I of Jaipur Founded in: 1756 Location: Around 146 km north-east of Jaipur GATEWAY TO RANTHAMBORE Cuddled up in the eastern zone of Rajasthan, Sawai Madhopur is one of the prominent conurbations of Rajasthan. Popularly known as the ‘Gateway to Ranthambore’, the town has seen many historic episodes and reigns. Sawai Madhopur has partly plain and partly undulating hilly terrain. The South and south east part of the district has hills and broken ground which form a part of a vast track of rugged region enclosing the narrow valley of the Chambal river. Surrounded by Vindhyas & Aravalis, this place is a treat for adventure enthusiasts as well as the ones with a fascination for history, with the Ranthambore National park- the most renowned national park in northern India and the Ranthambore Fort which was recently included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, being the main attractions. Passed on from the Chauhan Rajput king, Govinda to Vagabhatta, from RanaKumbha to Akbar and Aurangzeb, the city has been patronized by almost all the rulers. Beautification and renovation of the city has been regularly undertaken in almost all the regimes. Under the rule of Rao Hammir, the last Chauhan ruler the Ranthambore region prospered magnificently. In ancient India the region was more popularly known as Ranthambore. It was much later that it received the name, Sawai Madhopurfrom Maharaja SawaiMadhoSinghji I who is believed to have given the city its current plan in 1765 AD. During the British Rule Sawai Man Singh built a railway line between Jaipur and Sawai Madhopur. As a result it became accessible from a central spot in the state of Rajasthan. Today it has grown as one of the popular tourist destination in India. Former state of Karauli, Ranthambore was amongst the strongest forts of medieval India and is linked to Prithviraj, the ruler of Shakambhari who has golden cupolas put on the Jain temple of Ranthambore. To check the increasing incurious of the Marathas, Madho Singh, the ruler of Jaipur State requested for the grant of the fort of Ranthambore but did not succeed.

UDAIPUR

One of the most popular cities in Rajasthan, Udaipur is quite famous for its lakes and palaces. Known as ‘Jewel of Mewar’, this city was founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1553, on the banks of Lake Pichola. Claimed as the most romantic city of the royal state of Rajasthan, it is one of the prime destinations of the week-long journey of the Palace on Wheels. Udaipur boasts of picturesque locations and scenic surroundings offering an amazing vacation option for discerning travellers. Today, it is a perfect mix of old-world charm and contemporary attractions. Area : 64 sq. km Established On : In year 1553 Founded by : Maharana Udai Singh Location : On the Southern End of the Aravalli ranges THE CITY OF LAKES AND PALACES Often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’, the city of lakes Udaipur is located around azure water lakes and is hemmed in by lush green hills of Aravallis. The famous Lake Palace, located in the middle of Lake Pichola is one of the most beautiful sights of Udaipur. It is also home to Jaisamand Lake, claimed to be the second largest man-made sweet water lake in Asia. The beautiful City Palace and Sajjangarh (Monsoon Palace) add to the architectural beauty and grandeur of the city. The city is also known for its profusion of zinc and marble. Solar observatory in Lake Fateh Sagar is the only observatory in India located on an island and has been made on the pattern of Big Bear Lake in Southern California. The ten-day Shilpgram Festival which starts from 21 Dec to 30 Dec pulls in a large number of people interested in arts and crafts. Udaipur was founded in 1553 by Maharana Udai Singh II as the new capital of Mewar Kingdom. It is located in the fertile, circular Girwa Valley to the southwest of Nagda, which was the first capital of Mewar.

 

JODHPUR

Jodhpur is the second largest city of Rajasthan and a major tourist attraction in the country. Situated at the edge of the Thar Desert, it was founded by Rajput chief Rao Jodha in the year 1459. The erstwhile capital of the kingdom of Marwar, Jodhpur is dotted with a number of tourist attractions including forts, palaces, museums, and much more. Also known as the ‘Blue City’ or the ‘Sun City’, it is strategically placed on the road that links Delhi to the western Indian state of Gujarat. Area : 112.40 square km Established On :1459 Founded By : Rao Jodha, chief of the Rathore clan Location : Located towards the west of Jaipur (Distance: 338 km) A DELIGHTFUL BLEND OF THE MODERN AND THE TRADITIONAL Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan is popularly known as the Blue City. The name is clearly befitting as most of the architecture – forts, palaces, temples, havelis and even houses are built in vivid shades of blue. The strapping forts that tower this magnificent city sum up to a spectacle you would not want to miss. The mammoth, imposing fortress of Mehrangarh has a landscape dominating a rocky ridge with the eight gates leading out of the fortress. The new city is located outside the structure. Jodhpur is also known for the rare breed of horses known as Marwari or Malani, which are only found here. Jodhpur marks its origin back to the year of 1459 AD. The history of this prosperous city revolves around the Rathore clan. Rao Jodha, the chief of Rathore Clan is credited with the origin of Jodhpur in India. The city is known to be built in place of the ancient capital, Mandore of the state of Manwar. Hence, the people of Jodhpur and surrounding areas are commonly known as Marwaris. Also, it is believed that the relics of Mandore can still be witnessed in the Mandore Gardens.

AGRA – The CITY OF TAJ MAHAL

The Mughal City of Agra, fondly referred to as the city of the Taj, is one of the most well-known tourist destinations, all around the globe. Agra is placed on the western banks of the Yamuna also called the city of Taj Mahal is the perfect finale to your royal sojourn. Agra, the medieval city, is home to a number of tourist attractions including UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Area : 1, 880.40 km2 Established On : 1475 Founded By : Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king Location : On the banks River Yamuna towards the southwest corner of Uttar Pradesh state History The great Hindu epic Mahabharata mentions Agra, as Agraban, a forest near Mathura. However, Agra was founded by 1475 by Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king. Sultan Sikander Lodi made Agra his capital in 1501 but he was defeated in battle of Panipat in 1526 by Emperor Babur. Between the mid of 16th and the 17th century, Agra’s popularity was at its zenith when it was under the rule of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. This period was the time of construction of Taj Mahal also. In the year 1761, Agra came into the hands of Jat rulers who also looted some of the most beautiful temples of the city. While in 1770, it was under the reign of the Marathas, the British took over in 1803. After the revolt of 1857, Allahabad became the administrative province of the British and Agra was left on its own. This is when; it developed as a hub of heavy industry. Today Agra is a must-visit destination for all. Culture The Agra city is inhabited by people of all religions and cultures and so one can witness a mix of various cultures here. Agra is an amalgamation of traditional and modern way of living. Being close to Lord Krishna’s land Mathura, a touch of Brij culture can be seen here on the language of the locals. However, the influence of Mughal culture can be seen in everything, mannerisms, food, language and buildings. The people of Agra celebrate all the major festivals such as Diwali, Holi, Taj Mahoysav, Muharrum, Id-ul-Fitr, Id-ul-Adha with great zeal Taj Mahotsav, an annual extravaganza, is a great show of classical dance and music, folk performances, poetry, camel and elephant rides, a food festival, a Craft Mela and more. Shopping Agra has a lot to offer if you are one of those who love to indulge in shopping. You can get your hands on mini Taj replicas, as keepsakes and souvenirs. Another item which is a must-buy in Agra is its leather goods such as decorative stuff, bags, purses, sandals and much more. Be careful that you buy only original goods. The handicraft emporiums of Agra sell an array of rosewood and sandalwood items, stone-carved images and decorative pieces, made in brass. One of the most sought-after items, which you can buy in Agra markets, is beautiful pieces of exquisite Zari work. You also get good-quality carpets and durries here as well. However, the most popular amidst the tourists are the local renditions of Dal Moth (salty) and Peetha (sweet). Some of the famous markets in Agra are Sadar Bazaar, The Taj Complex, Loha Mandi, Raja Mandi, Kinari Bazaar, and Fuhaara.

BIKANER

Lying in the north of the desert State, the city is dotted with scores of sand dunes. Bikaner retains the medieval grandeur that permeates the city’s lifestyle. More readily called the camel country, the city is distinguished for the best riding camels in the world and hence boasts of having one of the largest Camel Research and Breeding farms in the world. The ship of the desert is an inseparable part of life here. The history of Bikaner dates back to 1486 when a Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji founded his kingdom. Bikaji was one the five sons of Rao Jodhaji the illustrious founder of Jodhpur. But Rao Bikaji was the most adventurous of them. It is said that an insensitive remark from his father about his whispering in the Durbar provoked Bikaji to set up his own kingdom towards the north of Jodhpur. The barren wilderness called Jangladesh became his focul point and he transformed it into an impressive city. He accomplished this task with 100 cavalry horses and 500 soldiers, and established his kingdom on 84 villages . When Bikaji died in 1504 his rule had extended to over 3000 villages. The strategic location of Bikaner on the ancient caravan routes that came from West/Central Asia made it a prime trade centre in those times. Bikaner stands on a slightly raised ground and is circumscribed by a seven km long embattledwall with five gates. The magnificent forts and palaces, created with delicacy in reddish-pink sandstone, bear testimony to its rich historical and architectural legacy. Surging lanes, colourful bazaars with bright and cheerful folks make Bikaner an interesting experience. Modern Bikaner is the result of the foresight of its most eminent ruler Maharaja Ganga Singh (1887-1943) whose reformative zeal set the pace for Bikaner transformation from a principality to a premier princely state.

PLACES

BHANDESWAR JAIN TEMPLE Bhandeswar Jain Temple is a fifteenth century temple and is the oldest monument of Bikaner. The temple is decorated with rich mirror work, frescoes and gold leaf paintings. DESHNOK Deshnok is a small village situated 32 km south of Bikaner city along the Jodhpur Road. It is connected by national highway and rail. It is a pilgrim centre of Karni Mata said to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga-who lived here in the fourteenth century and performed many miracles. Originally, the village was called ‘dus-nok’ meaning ten corners as it was formed by taking ten corners of ten villages. In front of the temple is a beautiful marble facade, which has solid silver doors built by Maharaja Ganga Singh. Across the doorway are more silver doors with panels depicting the various legends of the Goddess. The image of the Goddess is enshrined in the inner sanctum. GAJNER Gajner is an incomparable jewel in the Thar. It was built by the great Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner on the embankment of a lake with a generous dose of flora and fauna. Basically a hunting and relaxing lodge, the maharaja and the family shared their passion with their exclusive guests and hosted exotic holidays for them. Around the palace is a thick forestation that encourages the guests to go for a simple walk admiring the migratory birds in winter like imperial sand grouse, antelopes, black bucks and the animal species that wander around in the form of Nilgais, chinkaras, deers etc. The hotel is spread over a large area, and the ambience around is as raw and authentic as it was before. JUNAGARH It is an unassailable fortress, which had never been conquered. Built in 1593 A.D. by Raja Rai Singh, one of the most distinguished generals in the army of Emperor Akbar, the fort is a formidable structure encircled by a moat. The main entrance to the fort is Karan Pol [gate] that is facing east. Next to it is the Suraj Pol meaning the sun gate. In the fort complex are some magnificent palaces like Anup Mahal, Ganga Niwas and Rang Mahal or palace of pleasure. The Har Mandir is the majestic chapel for the royal family for worshipping their gods and goddesses. These palaces, constructed in red sandstone and marble, make a picturesque ensemble of courtyards, balconies, kiosks and windows dotted all over the structure. The premises also house a museum, which has an array of rich collection. LALLGARH PALACE This grand palace is an architectural masterpiece in red sandstone, and was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the memory of his father Maharaja Lall Singh in 1902. Sir Swinton Jacob designed this oriental fantasy. This architecture is a fusion of Rajput, Mughal and European architecture. The exterior contrasts dramatically with the oriental interiors and amenities. The palace has beautiful latticework and filigree work, which are the hallmarks of great craftsmanship.The Palace has an amazing collection of well maintained paintings and hunting trophies. Sprawling lawns with blooming bougainvillaea and dancing peacocks make for a visual extravaganza. NATIONAL RESEARCH CENTER ON CAMEL Spend a day with the indispensable ship of the desert at the camel research and breeding centres which is only one of its kinds in Asia. The farm extends over 2000 acres of semi arid land and is managed by the Government of India.

MUMBAI

Mumbai, the city that never sleeps! Pulsating, Alive, On the Move, Vibrant, Fun – this is Mumbai or as it is still frequently referred to – Bombay. The most modern city in India, it captures the spirit of the changing pace set by liberalization and modernisation. Once a cluster of seven islands, Mumbai was presented to King Charles II in 1661 as part of the dowry when he married Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal. History – A Glorious Heritage The Hindu Rule Originally, the seven islands were a part of the kingdom of Ashoka. After Ashoka’s demise, countless rulers of the Silahara dynasty took over until the Kingdom of Gujarat annexed the islands in 1343 AD and remained such till 1543 AD. Portuguese Colonization In 1543 AD, the Portuguese seized the isles from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and they remained in their control until 1661. Following this period, the isles were ceded as dowry to Catherine de Braganza when she married Charles II of England. He, in turn, leased the isles to the East India Company during their colonization in 1668 and that’s when the city was named Bombay. In a matter of seven years, the population of the city rose from a mere 10,000 to 60,000 in 1675. After the population in the city began to grow, the East India Company officially transferred their headquarters from Surat to the new city called Bombay. Post-Independence Mumbai is the business capital of India and is also one on the largest cities in the country. The present population of Mumbai is estimated to be millions and is still growing. Not many know however, how the population grew or how the city got its status as the commercial capital of India. The insight into the history of this glorious city is the answer to its inspiriting beginnings and eminence around the world.

PLACES

CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI TERMINUS (VICTORIA TERMINUS) The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus in Mumbai, is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is the westernmost end point of the Central Railways of India. It is also the southern end point of the central and harbour lines of Mumbai’s metropolitan rail transport system. A large section of the building is given over to administrative functions of the Central Railways, including commercial operations such as railway reservations. A magnificent building, completed in 1888, the Victoria Terminus was named after the then Queen Empress (Queen Victoria) on Jubilee Day, 1887. Construction started in 1878 based on a design by F. W. Stevens, and took 10 years to complete. The cost of construction was Rs. 16.14 lakhs (Rs. 1.614 million). The railway station was opened to the public on New Year’s Day, 1882. It is now the starting point of the Central Railways. The south-western part of the building is topped by a dome holding up a statue of Progress. It is an early example of a uniquely Bombay style of architecture which emerged when British architects worked with Indian craftsmen to include Indian architectural tradition and idioms. When the building was first used it held not only railway functionaries such as the accounts, chief engineer and traffic manager but also other municipal offices such as the superintendent of the police. Curiously, railway tickets were also printed in the same building. The Victoria Terminus was renamed Chhatrapati Sivaji Terminus on March 4, 1996. It was put on the UNESCO World Heritage List on July 2, 2004. It is the first functional administrative building to be put on this list. Unfortunately, some of the lovely carvings are at such an awkward height that you can only get a close view from the top deck of a passing double-decker bus. FLORA FOUNTAIN AND THE GOTHIC/VICTORIAN BUILDINGS OF THE FORT AREA The Flora Fountain stands on the site of the old church gate of the Bombay Fort, now a major crossroad named Hutatma Chowk. It was erected to honour Sir Bartle Frere, a former governor of Bombay and named after the Greek goddess Flora. Other buildings to see in the Fountain or Fort area are the University of Mumbai buildings including the imposing Rajabhai Tower, the Mumbai High Court, the Old Secretariat, and the Institute of Science on one end. Close by are situated St Thomas Cathedral, the Asiatic Society of Bombay or Town Hall, the Office of the Director General of Police, the General Post Office and the Thomas Cook building. The Western Railway Headquarters is also quite near, across the street from the Churchgate Station. These buildings are fine examples of the Gothic and Indo-Saracenic style. Many are illuminated by night. An exotic way of seeing these sights would be by the MTDC open-air bus or by the few surviving Victorias or buggy rides. GATEWAY OF INDIA Mumbai’s most striking monument, this too was designed by George Wittet. It has an imposing gateway arch in the Indo-Saracenic style with Gujarati and Islamic elements such as wooden carvings. It was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India in 1911. This area is also the departing point for ferries plying to Elephanta Island and other beaches across the port. Behind it is the beautiful heritage structure of the Taj Mahal Hotel. GLOBAL VIPASSANA PAGODA Global Vipassana Pagoda is the World’s Largest Pillar-less dome with a capacity to seat 8,000 meditators. In it are also enshrined Buddha’s genuine relics, thus becoming the first such pagoda in India after King Ashoka’s era. In a beautiful and natural setting, surrounded by sea on three sides and atop a hillock, this architectural marvel announces the renewed possibility of learning Vipassana meditation once again, in the same pure and effective form as Buddha taught it 2,600 years ago.The Pagoda radiates peace and harmony and encourages one and all to learn Vipassana to transform oneself into a peaceful,powerful and pure person , based on the experience of millions around the world. It is decorated with Burmese facade to show gratitude to the Burmese Master Ven Sayagyi U Ba Khin who inspired Vipassana revival in the world. Only a world that has peaceful individuals can be a peaceful place, is the Vipassana Pagoda’s message to the world. HAJI ALI SHRINE Further along the seashore, at the end of a long pathway surrounded by seawater is the shrine dedicated to Haji Ali, a Muslim saint. Access is only at low tide via the pathway. MALABAR HILL This is essentially an up-market residential area with some spectacular views of the city surroundings. On the road climbing up, is a Jain temple dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain tirthankara. At one end, on the top are the Hanging Gardens (Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens) and the Kamala Nehru Park. Both provide relaxing atmospheres of greenery. Beside the Hanging Gardens are the Parsi Towers of Silence. But these are off-limits to all except those who have come to dispose and pay respect to the dead. MANI BHAVAN This simple and charming museum was where Mahatma Gandhi lived on his visits to Mumbai between 1917 and 1934. Gandhi’s room and belongings including his books are on display. Mani Bhavan is situated on Laburnam Road, near the August Kranti Maidan, where the ‘Quit India’ movement was launched in 1942. Open daily from 9.30 am to 6 pm. MARINE DRIVE AND CHOWPATTY BEACH Chowpatty Beach is a teeming mass of people, vendors, masseurs and roadside restaurants with its specialties being bhelpuri and kulfi. Across the Chowpatty Beach area is the Taraporewala Aquarium. Marine Drive is also referred to as the Queen’s Necklace because of the dramatic line of street lamps lit up at night. For the most part, a pleasant promenade continues along the beach. NATIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN ART (NGMA) This is the former Cowasji Jehangir Hall, of the Institute of Science. It has been renovated to serve as a four-storey exhibition hall, displaying the best of Indian contemporary art. Open daily except Monday, from 10 am to 5 pm. PRINCE OF WALES MUSEUM This is one of Mumbai’s finest example of Victorian architecture. Built to commemorate King George V’s visit to Mumbai (while still Prince of Wales), it was designed by George Wittet and completed in 1923. It is undoubtedly one of India’s finest museums and houses treasures, artefacts, paintings and sculpture from the many periods covering India’s history, including the Indus Valley Civilization. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30 am to 6 pm.

SOMNATH TEMPLE

The Somnath Temple is the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. Located near Veraval in Gujarat, it is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot considered sacred due to the various legends connected to it. This legendary temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times by Islamic kings and Hindu kings respectively. Location:6 Kms from Veraval Languages:Hindi, English and Gujarati Temperature:March to June 42 Degree (Max), 28 Degree (Min) – November to February 25 Degree (Max), 10 Degree (Min), monsoons from June to late August/early September Popular As:Prabhas Patan To See:Somnath temple, Bhalka Teerth Festival:Shivaratri, Navratri

BHAVNAGAR

The port city of Bhavnagar is located on the west of the Gulf of Khambat. Bhavnagar was a major trading hub established in 1724 by Bhavsinhji Gohil and the capital of the then Bhavnagar state. The city is today a bustling metropolis, the 6th largest in Gujarat and often called the cultural capital of Saurashtra. Nearby lies the Shatrunjaya temple complex, located amid the Shatrunjaya hills, that has an astounding 863 shrines within, each made of marble with intricate carving. Location:Bhavnagar is situated 198 km from the state capital Gandhinagar Languages:Hindi, English and Gujrati Temperature:March to June 41℃ (Max), 27℃ (Min) – November to February 20℃ (Max), 15℃(Min) Popular As:Cultural capital of Saurashtra. To See:Vibrant bazaars, Hilltop temple complex, Breathtaking views Festival:Navratri celebration in Mar- Apr and Sep-Oct, Janmashtmi – Birth day of Lord Krishna in the month of July or August

GIR

Sprawling in an area of 1424 sq.kms is Gir, endowed with a luxuriantly rich ecosystem and floral and faunal plentitude. The forest is the only place in the world, outside Africa, where the lion can be seen in its natural habitat. Other animal residents of the Gir National Park are sambar, chital, nilgai, antelope, Chowsingha – the four-horned antelope, chinkara gazelle, wild boar, langur, jackal, and hyena and numerous birds like paradise flycatcher, bonneli’s eagle, crested serpent eagle, woodpeckers, flamingo and many more. Location:Sasan Gir Languages:Gujarati is the local language spoken by many people in Sasan Gir. Temperature:March to June 30℃ (Max), 26℃ (Min) – November to February 22℃ (Max), 15℃(Min) Popular As:The Gir National Park To See:Jungle Visit, Nalsarovar.

KUTCH

Kutch is a district located in the north-west of Gujarat. It covers a large area of more than 45,000 sq. km and is the largest district of India. A major part of this district in Gujarat is referred to as Rann of Kutch, a shallow wetland submerging in water during the rainy season and becomes dry during other seasons. The Rann is popularly known for its marshy salt flats, which turns into snow white after the swallow water dries up each season before the monsoon rains. The Rann of Kutch is a major attraction of the district. Being ecologically rich and wildlife conservation areas, Kutch has a number of sanctuaries and sites that can be visited. Some of the sanctuaries which are worth visiting in Kutch include Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Banni Grasslands Reserve and Chari-Chand Wetland Conservation Reserve. The Kutch Mahotsav which is held during the months of December-January is a great festival, in fact a well known festival due to its folk dances, live music and markets. Quite popular for its handicrafts, hills, white deserts, beautiful sea beaches and forts, Kutch is a complete interesting and enthralling place to visit. Location:Kutch Languages:Kutchi, Gujarati, Sindhi, Hindi are the local language spoken by many people in Kutch. Temperature:March to June 30℃ (Max), 13℃ (Min) – November to February 39℃ (Max), 26℃(Min) Popular As:Rann of Kutch To See:Aina Mahal, Prag Mahal, Kutch Museum, Great Rann of Kutch. Festival:Desert festival – held from Dec to Mar

MODHERA

Famous for one of the finest examples of Hindu temples in Gujarat. The Sun Temple in Modhera, a product of the Solanki period (8th-13th century) is an outstanding monument, set against the backdrop of a barren landscape with beautiful sculptures of Gods and Goddesses, birds, beasts and blossoms decorating the pillars. The temple sits on a classical kharasila pitha with a brick base and stone facing embellished with elaborate mouldings and stringcourses. Location:102 Kms from Ahmedabad Languages:Hindi, English and Gujarati Temperature:March to June 40℃ (Max), 25℃ (Min) – November to February 21℃ (Max), 16℃(Min) Popular As:City of Sun Temple To See:Sun Temple Festival:Modhera Dance festival – celebrated in the month of January

PATAN

Patan, the once upon a time capital city of the Hindu Kings of Gujarat (8th century) en route visiting the Rani ka Vav step well, the finest example of subterranean architecture for water. This form of architecture is uniquely exclusive to Gujarat in terms of typology, attitude to water and decorations of both Hindu and Islamic architectural fusion, resulting in the Indo-Saracenic style. Location:125 Kms from Ahmedabad Languages:Hindi, English and Gujarati Temperature:March to June 42℃ (Max), 26℃ (Min) – November to February 20℃ (Max), 14℃(Min) Popular As:Patan To See:Rani Ka Vav step well, Textile Festival:Navratri – None day festival in the month of Mar – Apr and Sep – Oct

VADODARA

Baroda or ‘Vadodara’, the original name of Baroda means ‘set in the womb of the banyan trees’. Once the capital of the princely Gaekwads, Vadodara is a graceful city of palaces, parks, temples, museums and art galleries. It has a public park with a museum, a picture gallery and a zoo covering 60 hectares on the banks of the Vishvamitri. Location:110 Kms from Ahmedabad Languages:Hindi, English and Gujrati Temperature:March to June 42℃ (Max), 25℃ (Min) – November to February 30℃ (Max), 12℃(Min) Popular As:City of Gaekwads To See:Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, Champaner, Pawagarh Festival:Navratri – Nine day festival in the month of Mar – Apr and Sep – Oct, Dussehera – Celebrated in the month of Oct – Nov

AJANTA CAVES

Ajanta is the pride of Maharashtra. The rock-cut caves of the site illustrate the degree of skill and artistry that Indian craftsmen had achieved several hundred years ago. The village of Ajanta is in the Sahyadri hills, about 99 kms, from Aurangabad; a few miles away in a mammoth horseshoe rock, are 30 caves overlooking a gorge, `each forming a room in the hill and some with inner rooms. All these have been carved out of solid rock with little more than a hammer and chisel and the faith and inspiration of Buddhism. Here, for the Buddhist monks, the artisans excavated Chaityas (chapels) for prayer and Viharas (monasteries) where they lived and taught. Many of the caves have the most exquisite detailed carvings on the walls, pillars and entrances as well as magnificent wall paintings. The 30 caves of Ajanta were created over a span of some 600 years. These caves were discovered by an Army Officer in the Madras Regiment of the British Army in 1819 during one of his hunting expeditions. Instantly the discovery became very famous and Ajanta attained a very important tourist destination in the world. The caves, famous for its murals, are the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting. ” These caves are excavated in horse-shoe shaped bend of rock surface nearly 76 m in height overlooking a narrow stream known as Waghora. The location of this valley provided a calm and serene environment for the Buddhist monks who retreated at these secluded places during the rainy seasons. This retreat also provided them with enough time for furthering their religious pursuits through intellectual discourses for a considerably longer period.

Listing Of Caves

Phase I Caves 9 & 10 : Chaitya Halls or shrines Caves 12 & 13 : Viharas or monasteries Phase II: 5 th century AD to 6 th century AD Caves 19,26 & 29 : Chaitya Halls or shrines Caves 1-7, 11, 14-18, 20-25, 27 & 28 : Viharas or monasteries Unfinished Caves: 3, 5, 8, 23-25, 28 & 2 In all, total 30 excavations were hewn out of rock which also include an unfinished one. Out of these, five (cave no. 9, 10, 19, 26, and 29) are chaityagrihas and the rest are viharas. In date and style also, these caves can be divided into two broad groups. The earliest excavations belong to the Hinayana phase of Buddhism . These caves are datable to the pre-Christian era, the earliest among them being Cave 10 dating from the second century B.C. The object of worship is a stupa here and these caves exhibit the imitation of wooden construction to the extent that the rafters and beams are also sculpted even though they are non-functional. The world famous paintings at Ajanta also fall into two broad phases. The earliest is noticed in the form of fragmentary specimens in cave nos. 9 & 10, which are datable to second century B.C. The 30 caves of Ajanta were created over a span of some 600 years. The second phase of paintings started around 5th – 6th centuries A.D. and continued for the next two centuries. The specimen of these exemplary paintings of Vakataka period could be noticed in cave nos. 1, 2, 16 and 17. The variation in style and execution in these paintings also are noticed, mainly due to different authors of different time periods. It is worth walking away from the caves in order to look back on to the horseshoe gorge. The ingenuous water cistern system can be seen which must have provided water for the monks and their visitors. Ajanta was on the ancient trade route leading to the coast so there must have been considerable activity and many visitors. Nobody really knows what life was like in those times and visitors can interpret the past as they wish, which is perhaps yet another secret charm of Ajanta.

SHIRDI

Shirdi, a small village, is located at a distance of 100 km from Nashik (Nasik) in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. The village is one of the revered pilgrimage centers in India. The village was the abode of the great saint of the 20th century, Sai Baba. For more than 50 years the saint lived in the village. He had made this small town be recognized as the popular pilgrimage site for devotees. Moreover, the village experiences huge footfall throughout the year and from all parts of the globe. The entire region of the village is in one or the other way associated with the saint. In 1918, when the said left for heavenly abode, his Samadhi in Shirdi is visited by tourists even today. Gurusthan is the place that is popular as the saint came to the village as a Bal Yogi. A small shrine and a temple are also featured in the region. The streets also feature shops that sell Sai Baba record of his life. Reaching this holy destination is easy for any visitors. Thus, proper road connectivity is also available to reach the Shirdi Village.

NASHIK

Nashik is a unique blend of civilization& modernization. This City of temples is one of the holiest places for Hindus inviting thousands of tourist every year. Scenic beauty of Sahyadri range of mountains merged with vineyards & agricultural yields (Highest in India) and a busy hub of industrial activities. With the onset of monsoons and the start of Kumbhmela, Nashik is a paradise for tourists with Historical Caves,Temples, holy rituals, museums, wet lands and lots more. Location:171 kms from Mumbai Languages:Hindi, English and Marathi Temperature:March to June 46℃ (Max), 21℃ (Min) – November to February 29℃ (Max), 12℃(Min) Popular As:Wine capital of India To See:Trimbakeshwar, Pandu leni, Godavari Ghat,Vineyards Festival:Diwali (Oct/Nov), Kumbh Mela (Aug/Sept)

RATNAGIRI

Ratnagiri is one of many premiere tourist destinations in Maharashtra. With some of the most beautiful beaches, Ratnagiri is also home to historic monuments and serene temples. A port city on the Arabian Sea coast in Southwestern Maharashtra, Ratnagiri is bordered by the Sahyadris to the east; and receives heavy rainfall which results in a highly eroded landscape in the coastal region, but fertile alluvial valleys in the region produce abundant rice, coconuts, cashew nuts, and fruits, “Hapus” (Alphonso) mangoes being one of the main fruits. Fishing is an important industry in Ratnagiri. Location:330 Kms from Mumbai Languages:Hindi, English and Marathi Temperature:March to June 40 Degree (Max), 25 Degree (Min) – November to February 21 Degree (Max), 16 Degree (Min), heavy monsoons from June to late August/early September Popular As:Ratnagiri To See:Ganpatiphule temple, Bhatye beach Festival:Ganesh festival, turtle festival.

KOLHAPUR

“KOLHAPUR” LAND OF MAGNIFICENT TEMPLES Situated in the bank of the river Panchaganga, a host of mythological stories have been woven around the city of Kolhapur. According to one legend, the city was built by a demon who was later slain down by Goddess Mahalaxmi to save the inhabitants of the city. Housing the Maharashtra film industry, the city of Kolhapur is credited as the place where the first feature film in India, Raja Harishchandra was conceptualized. The Kolhapuri footwear, jewels and tobacco are exported all around the world and from these the government generates a large portion of revenue of the state. The city is also a buzzing pilgrim hub where thousands of believers make their sacred tour to the Mahalaxmi Temple of the city. Gifted with incredible archeological and cultural heritage, the city of Kolhapur is certainly a precious jewel in the crown of India.   Kolhapur, the land of magnificent temples, is the religious pride of Maharashtra. Nested in the tranquil laps of the Sahyadri mountain ranges, it is situated on the banks of the river Panchganga. Also termed as a city of palaces and gardens, it is a historic Maratha city, with the Mahalakshmi temple forming the focus. Arts, aristocracy and graciousness, combined with culture stepped in spiritualism, education and modernization. Location:450 kms from Mumbai Languages:Hindi, English and Marathi Temperature:March to June 34℃ (Max), 24℃ (Min) – November to February 27℃ (Max), 21℃(Min) Popular As:Kolhapur To See:Mahalakshmi temple, New Palace Museum, Town Hall Museum, Rankala Festival:Gudi padva in April, Navratri in Sept/October

GOA

Goa’s history goes back to 20,000-30,000 years. The rock art engravings exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India. Upper Paleolithic or Mesolithic rock art engravings have been found on the bank of the river Kushavati at Usgalimal. Petroglyphs, cones, stone-axe, and choppers dating to 10,000 years ago have been found in many places in Goa, such as Kazur, Mauxim, and the Mandovi-Zuari basin. Evidence of Palaeolithic life is seen at Dabolim, Adkon, Shigao, Fatorpa, Arli, Maulinguinim, Diwar, Sanguem, Pilerne, and Aquem-Margaon etc. Difficulty in carbon dating the laterite rock compounds poses problems in determination of exact time period. Location:Goa Languages:Goa is a multilingual state thanks to its colourful history of thousands of years which has seen people of various regions, ethnic races and religions from India and abroad settling in Goa and influencing the local language. Konkani is the mother tongue of Goans, while Marathi too is widely spoken. Temperature:March to June 31℃ (Max), 23℃ (Min) – November to February 30℃ (Max), 20℃(Min) Popular As:City of beaches To See:Ancestral Goa Museum/Big Foot, Chapora Fort, Fort Aguada. Festival:Goa Carnival – celebrated in the month of February.

PENCH NATIONAL PARK

The Pench National Park is located at the base of the Satpura mountain range and is named after the Pench river that flows north to south, dividing the park in almost equal eastern and western halves. A gorgeous park with water springs, seasonal water bodies and rich biodiversity, Pench is inhabited by a profusion of flora and fauna, including aquatic mammals and several endangered species. Regularly seen species here include nilgais, sambars and cheetals, with fewer numbers of tigers, wild dogs, sloth bears and jackals. Location:70 Kms from Nagpur Airport and Railway Station Languages:Hindi, English, Marathi Temperature:March to June 40℃ (Max), 30℃ (Min) – November to February 32℃ (Max), 20℃(Min) Popular As:Mogli Land To See:Rich biodiversity, Cheetals, Sambars & Nilgais Festival:Ganesh Chaturhi – Celebrated in the month of Sep or Oct

TADOBA ANDHARI RESERVE

Tadoba Andhari Reserve is the largest national park in Maharashtra.It is one of India’s 43 “Project Tiger” – Tiger reservesThe name ‘Tadoba’ is the name of the God “Tadoba” or “Taru”, praised by the tribal people who live in the dense forests of the Tadoba and Andhari region, while the Andhari River that meanders through the forest. gives the ‘Andhari’ name “TADOBA” THE JEWEL OF VIDHARBA Tadoba, the natural heritage of India, is bestowed with rich biodiversity. The tiger reserve is spread over an area of 625.40 sq km, and is located in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. With distinctive eco-system, the destination has been one of the Project Tiger Reserves in India. Conservation and protection of Tigers was the major purpose of forming the Tadoba Tiger Reserve. Established in 1995, Tadoba is the 2nd tiger reserve in the state of Maharashtra. The region has rich vegetation of Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest and home to various Flora species, namely Teak, Bija, Ain, Dhauda, Salai, Haldu, Tendu, Semal, and Bamboo. The tiger reserve also provides shelter to various animals apart from tiger. The list of Fauna species includes Leopard, Gaur, Sloth Bear, Rusty Spotted Cat, Indian Mouse Deer, Ratel, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, Sambar, Four-Horned Antelope, Flying Squirrel, Wild Dog, and many more.   Location:140 kms from Nagpur Languages:Hindi, English and Marathi Temperature:March to June 47℃ (Max), 27℃ (Min) – November to February 36℃ (Max), 29℃(Min) Popular As:Tadoba To See:Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve

SANCHI

“SANCHI” UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE Sanchi, a small village in Madhya Pradesh, is situated at a distance of 46 km from Bhopal. The village has acquired worldwide recognition as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. With a tour to sanchi, the Madhya Pradesh Tourism receives a momentum. Moreover, the village also serves testimony of Gupta architecture, together with the Buddhists ruins. Along with propagating Buddhist principles, the village also catered as an administrative spot in supporting the growth of the religious discourse throughout India. The village also houses various attractions that make a memorable sightseeing tour. Do not miss to visit the Sanchi Stupa, Ashoka Pillar, Sanchi Museum, The Eastern Gateway, The Great Bowl and more.

AIHOLE

Aihole is popularly dubbed as ‘Cradle of Indian Architecture’, due to numerous temples dotted throughout the village. For visitors, wanting to explore the rich heritage and architectural brilliance, should visit Aihole. The village beautifully holds the charm of yesteryears. Among the temples, there are a few that date back to the 5th and 6th century. In this temple town, the temples are split into various groups. The historians gave categorized these 125 temples in 22 groups, out of which Galaganatha and Kontigudi are popular. Thus, the temple attracts tourists who have major interest in history and architecture. The temple village also showcases the sine specimen of Chalukyan architecture in India. Some of the must visit temples in the village are The Lad Khan Temple, Durga Fort Temple, Hutchimalli Temple, Buddhist Temple, Jain Meguthi Temple, Huchappayyagudi Temple, and Ravalphadi Temple. Moreover, with rich architectural structures, the village has the potential to get included amongst the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

DAULATABAD

DAULATABAD 14TH CENTURY FORT CITY IN MAHARASHTRA Formerly known as Deogiri, Daulatabad was the erstwhile capital of Tughlaq dynasty under the rule of Muhammad Bin Tughluq. The city is most famous for its formidable hill fort standing on a conical hill. Even after hundreds of years of its construction, this giant hill fort is standing as a symbol of strength and power in the vicinity of Daulatabad. Many folklores and stories related to the Tughlaq dynasty turn Daulatabad into a mystical place for the visitors. The city of Daulatabad also offers enchanting scenic views to the travelers. The city is of utmost importance to the people who love to delve into the world history. The Chand Minar and the Chini Mahal also catch the eye of the travelers who visit the city of Daulatabad.

HYDERABAD

“HYDERABAD” THE PEARL CITY The capital city of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, is almost 500 years old. The city is located at an average height of 500m above the sea level, on the Deccan Plateau. The region mainly features rocky terrain. Formerly, the city was founded on the southern shores of Musi River, which is now called the historical Old City. The city hosts popular attractions such as Mecca Masjid and Charminar. Additionally, there also are various landmarks and governments building being constructed, majorly on the southern side of the Lake Husain Sagar. The city’s development at a fast pace, together with the development of the adjacent city of Secunderabad and municipalities have also contributed to the huge and dense population in the region. The city of Hyderabad has also become the hub of information technology (IT) and IT-enabled service set-ups, as there have been various software firms, business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, and call centers established since early 1990s. There also are various pharmaceutical companies in the city such as Aurobindo Pharma Limited, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Divis Labs, Matrix Laboratories, Hetero Drugs Limited, and Vimta Labs. Moreover, Hyderabad is a must-visit destination as it presents the perfect mix of the historic and modern era.

BIJAPUR

Bijapur is a town blessed by scattered ruins and still intact gems of the 15th to 17th century Muslim architecture. It was the capital of the Adil Shahi dynasty (1489-1686), one of the splinter states formed when the Bahamani Muslim kingdom broke up in 1482. Bijapur is strongly Muslim in character. The town is dotted with mosques, mausoleums, palaces and fortifications. A formidable fort surrounds the town, which has some of the finest mosques in the Deccan and retains a pleasant atmosphere. Location:384 Kms from Hyderabad Languages:Hindi, English and Kannada Temperature:March to June 41℃ (Max), 28℃ (Min) – November to February 20℃ (Max), 15℃(Min) Popular As:Bijapur To See:Gol Gumbaj, Nagar Khana, Malik e maidan Festival:Music Festival in January or February

BADAMI

In Karnataka, Badami is the beautiful place to visit and absorb the cultural richness of the town. The town is also popular for being the throne of Early Chalukyan art. Being located at a distance of 500 km from Bangalore, Badami also makes a great getaway. Thus, for visitors, wanting to explore the old-world charm of Karnataka, Badami is the town to visit. Formerly known as Vatapi, Badami is also popular for its cave temple, which is devoted to Lord Vishnu and is also recognized as the largest in India. There also is a reservoir in the front of the cave temples, which includes temples devoted to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. The lake below the cave temples also gets its name from the Bhutanath Temples of Badami. The visitors should not worry about the accommodation as there are various hotels, ranging from luxury to budget, are available in and around Badami. Moreover, to complement your tour in Badami, do not miss to visit attractions such as Cave Temples, Nataraja Temple, Jain Temple, Vishnu Temple and Archaeological Museum.

PATTADAKAL

“PATTADAKAL” WORLD HERITAGE SITES Situated in Bagalkot District (Karnataka), Pattadakkal is acknowledged for housing various UNESCO World Heritage Sites for unsurpassable architecture. The town is also located in close proximity to Aihole (10 km) and Badami (22 km), which are known for their architectural brilliance. Pattadakkal is worth visiting as there are numero9us structures that are best known for their ancient architecture. The town also hosts a few temples that date back to the 8th century. These temples represent the perfect mix of popular architectural styles of those times. The fusion of the Dravidian style and the Nagara style make these temples praiseworthy for their uniqueness. Since, 1987, the temples have also acquired the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the town there are 10 temples in total, out of which 4 were built following the Dravidian style, the other 4 in Nagara style, and the remaining two temples were constructed fusing both the styles. Moreover, the town is the perfect destination to witness the blend of two different architectural styles.

SINDHUDURG

“SINDHUDURG” A MÉNAGE OF NATURE Established in the year 1981, Sindhudurg is a district town in the city of Maharashtra which was carved out of the erstwhile Ratnagiri District. This small district town is a sight to behold place blessed with beaches, backwaters, waterfalls and pilgrimage destinations. The glory of the Maratha dynasty is still visible in each corner of Sindhudurg. Apart from the natural world, the Sindhudurg fort is also a prime attraction which was built by the great Maratha warrior king Chattrapati Shivaji in 1664. Those who are delicate lovers of varied food items, this district town is an ideal place for them to taste some of the tongue seducing sea food varieties.

Incredible India

India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. India’s history and culture is dynamic, spanning back to the beginning of human civilization. It begins with a mysterious culture along the Indus River and in farming communities in the southern lands of India. The history of India is punctuated by constant integration of migrating people with the diverse cultures that surround India. Incredible India has been imprinted with the heritage, culture right from the Pre-historic Indus Valley Civilization through the ancient Vedic ages followed through with the formation of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, which again was trailed by Sultans, Mughal, & European colonies. All the above major influences on the Indian soil combined with the various local princely kingdoms had given Vibrant dimensions to the Incredible India. India takes pride in maintaining the harmony among diversities of 22 recognized languages and about 10 major religions.

Golden Chariot Destinations

2 itineraries offered by the operators of the Golden Chariot train covers some of the most prominent tourist destinations in 3 South Indian states – Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala – along with the Union Territory of Pondicherry. Detail of the attractions included in the destinations covered during the luxury train tour along with a brief introduction to acquaint you with the history and significance of the destinations are mentioned below.   BANGALORE Fondly called as the Silicon Valley of India and Officially called as Bangaluru, the city is the Capital of the South Indian State Karnataka where the official language is Kannada. The Premier organizations like ISRO, Infosys, IBM, Wipro, DRDO and HALre having this city as their headquarters. This Is the fifth most populous agglomeration in India. IISC, IIM, NIFT, NIMHANS are the prestigious institutions being the dream destination of the aspirational students. Historians record that the Cholas and the Hoysalas, ruled the present region of Bangalore until in 1537 CE, until the time of emergence of a feudal ruler Kempé Gowdā from the Vijayanagara Empire stood against the King and by way of establishing a mud fort and that is perceived to be the foundation of modern Bangalore. Despite the fact that the place was under the control of different Kings and Nawabs, it witnessed consistent development and under the British Rule, the city got extended to a cantonment region and from then onwards Bangalore is a merger of the Old City and the Cantonment. People and Culture: Karnataka has hosted and continues to host a wide variety of people with different cultures. Along with the native Kannadigas, Kodavas, Tuluvas, Konkanis and several tribal sects have, across the centuries, lent colour and content to the vibrant culture the state calls its own. Karnataka is also home to the largest Tibetan settlement in South India. In addition to Kannada, knowing Tulu, Hindi, English, Telugu or Tamil will safely get you by. Jainism, Hinduism and Islam are the predominantly practised religions. But in recent times, Sikhism, Christianity and Buddhism have also found their place and people. Climate and Weather: The city of Bangalore experiences a very favourable weather throughout the year.Nature has gifted Bangalore city with a very pleasant and moderate climate. In Bangalore, neither would you shiver with cold in winters, nor would you drench with sweat in summers. Bangalore weather is a combination of cool winters and warm summers, without any extremes in both the cases.

  • Summers: Only during Mid March to June is the season you will feel the heat rays in Bangalore. The maximum temperature during the day rarely exceeds 39 degree C, making the summers quite mild.
  • Winters: Winter season in Bangalore stretches on from November to February. The minimum temperature in winters hovers somewhere around 10 degree C, with the coldest month being January. Early morning fog can also be experienced during December and January.
  • Monsoon: The monsoon season in Bangalore is from June to August. The south-western monsoon rains drenches the city in monsoons, taking the humidity to as high as 76 percent.

Best Time to Visit Bangalore: The best time to visit Bangalore is generally during the winters when the temperature lies between 15 degree to 20 degree and the most preferable months to visit Bangalore would be between October and February.   MYSORE The cultural capital of Karnataka, the administrative center for Kingdom of Mysore for over four centuries, the city with full of heritage structures and palaces is Mysore, now officially called as Mysuru. Located at the foothills of Chamundi Hills, Mysore is at a distance of 146 kms southwest of the Karnataka state capital, Bangaluru. There exists a Tropical Savanna Climate in Mysore. Summer season is from March to June, Monsoon is from July to November and winter season is from December to February. Popularly known as the cultural capital of Karnataka, Mysore is famous for the different art forms and the festivities. Especially, the Dusserah festival celebrated for ten days during September or October attracts lakhs of tourists every year. It will be a fascinating experience watching the celebrations on the ninth day of Dusserah when the Royal sword is worshipped and taken on a procession of decorated elephants. On the tenth day called “Viajayadasami”, the rituals and celebrations are in a grand manner. The idol of the Goddess Chamundeeswari is kept atop a decorated elephant which leads the procession of table, group dancers, decorated elephants, horses and camels. People in Karnataka call this procession as Jamboo Savaari. The procession and the rituals will be a real feast to the eyes. Mysore is also called the City of Palaces. The tourists have a wonderful experience visiting the palaces which are the real architectural marvels. Mysore palace tops the list followed by Jaganmohana palace, Rajendra Vilas, Lalitha Mahal, Jayalakshmi Vilas. Mysore is also famous for many things like, the sweet Mysore Pak, the cosmetic items namely Mysore Sandal Soap and Powder, Mysore Silk Sarees, Mysore painting and Mysore Peta(A silk turban). The rich tradition and heritage can be seen in every article you see in Mysore. The city is connected to Tamil Nadu and Kerala through the NH-212. There are plenty of buses plying between Mysore and other cities. Superfast trains like Shatabdi Express halt at Mysore. There is an Intelligent Travel System implemented in by Mysore Government for a hassle free drive in the city. Come and enjoy the city of culture, heritage and tradition which has still maintained its legacy despite the vagaries over the centuries. HAMPI Hampi is the architectural heritage of India in Karnataka. Located in the northern part of the state, Hampi is a small village that once housed the capital of the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire. Today it houses the magnificent ruins of the yesteryears and the Virupaksha temple is the most popular and the most sacred religious site in the place. There are a number of religious places scattered all over Hampi and devotees and visitors alike, fill it up all through the day. The Hindu temples housed here are brilliant examples of architectural excellence and though in ruins, they nevertheless manage to amaze the onlookers. Some of the most popular sites housed here are Virupaksha temple, Tiruvengalanatha temple, Anjeyanadri Hills, Ugra Narasimha, Vittala temple, Zenana enclosure and even the archaeological museum in Kamalapura. BELUR Belur, situated in the Hassan District of the South Indian State Karnataka is a city of architectural wonders. From the state capital Bangaluru, Belur is at a distance of 220kms. Belur is a very important tourist destination in the state. The city witnesses of hundreds of tourists every day. There is yet another tourist destination called Halabedu which is only 16kms away from Belur. Belur is the place where the Hoysala architecture was at its peak. The main attraction of the city is the Chenna kesava temple constructed in the year 1117 CE. As the Hoysaka kings were very particular in bringing out an architecturally wonderful temple, they had spent nearly103 years in completing this temple in all aspects. The entire building of the temple is 37meters tall and built on a five feet platform.The main gateway tower called Rayagopura or Rajagopuram was raised by the Vijayanagara Kings in commemoration of their victory over the Cholas in a place called Thalakad. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Chennakesava meaning “Beautiful Vishnu” in the temple which has taken around 103 years for completion of construction. We will be amazed to see the dedication and devotion of the Hoysala Kings by looking at the ornate paintings and the wonderful figurines in the temple. It is believed that the Hoysala Queen Shanthala Devi herself danced in front of the temple during the construction of this temple which you see at the façade of the temple in the form of beautiful figurines in different dancing postures. Even today you can see the tourists enjoy dancing on the platform and recording those wonderful moments. The intricate carvings on the walls depict the pictures of lions, horses, elephants, a lady with the mirror and dancing women make your visit to this temple more fascinating. Along with this temple, the Hoysaleswara temple at Halabedu and the monuments of Jainism in Shravanabelagola are proposed as the World Heritage Sites to be recognized by UNESCO. Come and enjoy the splendid architecture of Belur and the get blessed by Lord Chennakesava. KABINI Kabini is a popular tourist destination in Karnataka and a foremost destination offering abundant wildlife in the country. Kabini is a lush green habitat for the animals, especially Elephants. Besides elephants, the Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary is also home to a large variety of birds and deer too. So if you were looking forward to a wildlife holiday here in Karnataka and most specifically an encounter with the mighty tuskers, you know now where to be. People visit Kabini mostly for the plentiful wildlife and the lush greenery. Today, it is home to a number of elephants and herds of them roaming around in the sanctuary offers for a great sight. Migratory birds visiting this place also offer for interesting sights for the guests. Besides the wildlife sanctuary, guests visiting Kabini could also go on excursions to the nearby destinations like Nagarhole. BADAMI Badami is located around the picturesque landscape of the Agastya Lake. History mentions that it was the capital of the Chalukya kings that ruled over this land from fifth to seventh century AD. There is an interesting fable that goes about how this place came to be known as Vatapi-a name that it had in the ancient times. It is believed that in these lands lived two demons by the name Vatapi and Ilvala. They were very wicked and killed several mendicants by deception. Ilvala was blessed with a boon that whoever he calls would return even from the nether world. And it is of this feature that they took advantage to kill the innocent people. Vatapi would turn himself into a ram and its meat, Ilvala offered to the strangers. As soon as they would have it, Ilvala would call out for Vatapi and the latter would emerge ripping through the body of the victim. They succeeded in this pursuit till one day they came across Sage Agastya. The sage ate up Vatapi and quickly digested him even before Ilvala could call out for him thus putting an end to the torment of the demons. Badami offers to the visitors a blend of cave temples, forts and even museums for the tourists to come and feast on. The Bhutanatha temple, the Badami Fort, the Mallikarjuna temple and the temple of banashankari are a few to name in the order. The mesmerizing beauty of the place is beautifully reflected through the antique architectural patterns and designs. GOA Goa is a land of the Sun, the beaches, the adventure activities and the quaint ambience and also of distinct traditions and customs. all in the same breath. Guests visiting Goa quintessentially return back home wanting for more. The charisma and charm that accompanies the place almost casts a magic spell on anyone who comes to this place. Be it the history of the place or the geography, the language or the customs. Goa entices one and all. On a sojourn of this place, the traveler is treated to traditional Indian hospitality in the most unique way. The festivals and carnivals that are held here throughout the year offer one a better understanding of the lives of the Goans. Located in the Konkan region of India, its proximity to the Arabian Sea attracted many merchant communities to come and settle here, thus paving the way for several faiths and cultures to come and exist here. CHENNAI Chennai is the heart beat of Tamil Nadu. It can’t be tagged as one, as it has in it the modernity of Bombay, tradition of Kerala, spirit of Delhi and the style of Goa. Sun hits this land with lots of love and so all days here are sunny days. It also takes pride in having the world’s second largest beach and it is a perfect spot for a sojourn. There are good deals of tourist places in and around Chennai, which are worth a visit. South & West Chennai, previously mostly residential, are now becoming commercial with upcoming firms & call centres. The city is fast expanding in the south & in the west. Art and music dwells in the land of Chennai and that is why it is called the Musical and Cultural capital of India. There are plenty of art galleries and music schools in Chennai among which Kalakshetra is hailed as one of the best dance schools in India. It is a major trade center, being well linked by road, rail and air to important cities besides being a sea port. Compared to the other major metros of India, it is far less congested and polluted. Area – 178.20 Sq.Km Population – 43.4 Lakhs (2001 census) Temperature – Summer: 40°C – 36°C & Winter: 30°C – 24°C

Climate:

Chennai is a tropical land and the climate is mostly sultry. The normal temperature is around 40°C – 30°C during summer and around 30°C – 24°C during winter. Rain is a rare guest to Chennai. Literacy – Male: 84.71% & Female: 75.32% Rivers – Cooum and Adayar – these two rivers are almost stagnant and do not carry water except during rainy seasons

Festivals and Fares:

Apart from the hustle and bustle of Chennai city life, there lie the colorful cultural festivals of Chennai. The cosmopolitan people get out of their mundane life and groom their tradition by commemorating lots of festivals and fares.

Natyanjali Festival:

Behold the majestic statue of Lord Nataraja ‘The Cosmic dancer’ in Chidambaram near Chennai. Every year on the eve of Natyanjali momentous tribute is paid to Nataraja. This eve lasts for five long days in the month of February.

Dance and Music Festival:

Dancers and Singers from all over India participate in this ‘Margazhi Festival of Dance and Music’ to exhibit their talents and to hail their traditional art. This festival falls in the month of mid-December. It is a feast to our eyes and ears to see artist’s excellent performance on the stage.

Travel and Tour Festival:

Each and every year Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation conducts tour fair in Island Ground in order to promote the tourism interests among people. In this festival many tour and honeymoon packages are given at offers.

Pongal festival:

Pongal is a kind of ‘Thanksgiving’ festival to the Sun God for his blessings upon the farmers and their crops. This fete is celebrated during the month of January. It is a three days eve and one of the days is spent as a reverence to the cows and bulls that have helped the farmers.

Other Festivals:

There are still more minor festivals celebrated in Chennai some of them are Mamallapuram, Arubathimoovar, Mahamaham, Velankanni, Kanthuri, Chithirai, Saral-Vizha, and Navratri.

Places to Visit
Kapaleeswarar Temple:

Chennai’s renowned and cherished Kapaleeswarar temple is the chief land mark of Mylapore. The prime idol is the Lord Siva in the form of Lingam .This temple is mostly buzzed with devotees on Mondays and Fridays. The dazzling 12 days celebration of Bhramotsavam during the month of March is a splendor sight to see.

Snake Park:

Snake Park at Guindy will surely cast a chill down your spine. This eerie park has a wide range of snakes and reptiles. There is also a session where they show a practical demonstration of venom extraction.

Marina Beach:

Marina is the world’s second largest beach. The pleasant promenades running along the sugar-white sands of the beach adds feather to Marina and a peaceful stroll in the old promenade popularly known as “Cupid’s Bow” will take you to the seventh heaven. Its never ending shores draws a million to marvel at the swarm of people spending their time on the lap of Marina.

Cholamandal Artist:

This is the India’s largest artist commune. This village was erected by the artists without any financial help from the government. This archive has a wide collection of intricate paintings, meticulously done sculptures and beautifully emblazoned art works. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit this awesome place.

The Anna Centenary Library:

It is the apt place for bookworms. This enormous library takes pride in being one of the largest libraries in Asia. Behold the nine stories modern building which houses about 500,000 books and piles of magazines from across the world.

Other Nearby Places:

Besant Nagar beach, Santhome beach, Vandalore zoo, Bharathiyar illam and Valluvar Kottam are few other places to visit.

Travel Mode
Bus:

Chennai is the only city in Tamil Nadu which is connected by Golden Quadrilateral system. The four National Highways emerging from this city meets all other cities in India, adding to this Chennai Mofussil bus Stand is the Asia’s largest bus stand. There a surplus taxis, auto rickshaws and vans outside the bus stand.

Train:

Southern Railway’s headquarters is housed in Chennai. There are two railway terminals one is Chennai central which is meant only for Intra state trains and the other one is Chennai Egmore which deals with inter-state destinations. The Chennai suburban railway network provides access to destinations within the city. Recently metro rail has been started in the city.

Airport:

Chennai is a commercial city and so Chennai airport is always active with both domestic and international planes coming in and going out. Anna international Airport and Kamaraj National Airport are at Tirusulam, 20 kms away from the city. MAHABALIPURUM Mamallapuram or Mahabalipurum is one of the most popular destinations in Tamil Nadu, renowned for its architectural wonders. Once a medieval port city (the town dates back to the 7th century), today, Mamallapuram is fondly visited by devotees and tourists alike who come here to worship in the ancient temples that are housed here. The city is located at a distance of just about 60 km from the capital city of the state, Tamil Nadu. Guests traveling to this south Indian town can savor on the spectacular man-made and natural wonders that are housed here. Top tourist attractions in Mamallapuram include names such as the Shore Temple, Five Rathas, Tiger’s Cave, and Arjuna’s Penance etc. besides the local attractions; this town is also a wonderful base from where a number of excursions to the nearby areas can be organized. This includes trips to Cove Long beach, Crocodile Banks, and Kanchipuram. PONDICHERRY Pondicherry is a quaint and serene town on the southern part of India, mostly known for its French connection. Abundant in natural and architectural beauty; Pondicherry houses pristine beaches, backwater areas, marvelous hotels and a chain of restaurants that serve authentic French and Indian cuisines that all the more enhance the pleasures of one’s visit here. Pondicherry is a Union Territory of India and is very well connected to Bangalore and Chennai, two of the most significant south Indian destinations. Pondicherry is home to several attractions that include its mesmerizing sea side ambience, tree lined boulevards, medieval churches and a host of other locations that ensure interesting sightseeing trips. A few of the noteworthy locations that are not worth a miss include the Auroville Ashram, Aayi Mandapam, the French War Memorial, and the Romain Rolland Library. TANJORE Tanjore is a destination that celebrates south Indian art and architecture in the highest magnitude of the terms. Owing to its architecturally extravagant monuments, Thanjavur is a not-to-be-missed destination in this circuit. Tanjore also known as Thanjavur is home to several eminent dancers, singers, and artists and this fact makes the city all the more special. Bronze metal products, musical instruments, and Thanjavur paintings are the most renowned elements associated with the place and excellent souvenirs to be carried back home. There are many places in this Tamil city that guests can visit. The shrine of Ganapati, the shrine of Chandeeswara, Thanjavur Palace, Thanjavur Church and the shrine of Sri Subramanya are a few of the most notable places of interest to name here. Each of these locations highlights the glorious history of the place and the architectural examples that they present are to be seen to be believed. TRICHY or TRIUCHIRAPALLI Tiruchirapalli is one of the oldest cities in Tamil Nadu that is blessed with a rich cultural and architectural heritage. The guests in the city will see the Rock Fort temple. Sri Ranganathaswamy temple, Jambukeshwara temple, Perumal Malai and Vayalur Murugan temple are the other attractions that are housed here that surely need a mention. MADURAI The aroma of Jasmine fills the air of Madurai and gives us pleasure as we enter its thresh hold. This is a notorious city in Tamil Nadu and has been held in high regards by many ancient poets. This is the place where Tamil language ripened many centuries ago and is a main commercial Centre in southern zone. There are ample places which are worth a visit and are best exemplars of ancient Dravidian culture. This dazzling city takes pride in being the capital city of Pandiyas and Thirumalai Nayakar. The architectural style here is greatly admired by all. Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai is one of the famous temples in India. Apart from architecture this city is famous for South Indian spicy foods, scrumptious Jigarthanda and fluffy Idly (Rice cake).

Climate:

The sun is at her high spirits in Madurai and so all day here are sunny days. In summer the temperature may reach to 40°c and on other days it lies between 34°C-25°C.

Places to Visit
Meenakshi Amman Temple:

Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the temples which are hailed all over the world. This mind-blowing temple demands a second visit and the sculptures are so mesmerizing that they will make our eye balls glued to them. This marvelous piece of art is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi and God Siva and it is believed to be the place where they tied the knot. The golden lotus tank inside the temple adds feather to the hat of Meenakshi. Another exclusive feature of this temple is the thousand pillar hall and the musical pillars. Every nook and corner of this temple is so amazing and attractive. Don’t ever miss an opportunity to visit this dazzling temple.

Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal:

Goggle at the startling sculptures of the India’s icon the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal. This monumental piece is housed in East Madurai and is bussed with tourist from dawn to dusk. Each and every part of this Mahal is meticulously done and is emblazoned with giant pillars of 82 feet height and 19 feet width. This palace surpasses all other monuments in Tamilnadu. Like adding beauty to the beauty queen there is an awesome light and music show during evenings at the dancing hall of this Mahal.

Gandhi Museum:

In order to pay tribute to the “Father of the Nation” Gandhi Ji this archaic Palace has been renovated in to a memorial building. Its sublime beauty and tranquility attracts million a day. This place has profound collections of Gandhi Ji’s personal letters to Subramaniya Bharathi, Adolf Hitler and Nehru Ji, along with many rare clicks of Gandhi from his childhood till his assassination. There is also the blood strained vestment worn by Gandhi during his assassination, the plate, spoon, sandals and the spectacles used by him are all conserved in the vacuum glass box.

Thiruparankundram:

Thiruparankundram is one of the six army camps of Lord Muruga. He graces majestically from the sanctum sanctorum with his spouse Deivanai. It is the folk lore that, this is the place where Muruga and Deivanai walk down the aisle. Apart from this temple there is also so a well maintained ecofriendly park near the temple.

Chitirai Festival:

Madurai is the city of festivals and is always busy with decorations and preparations. Chitirai festival that falls in April is the longest festival in the world that lasts for a month. During this period the whole city turns to be a boisterous one and is filled with josh. First 15 days is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi and the rest to Lord Alagar and on every evening there is God and Goddess march which is accompanied by thousands of people. Visit the city during this colorful month and enjoy yourself to the core.

Travel Mode
Bus:

As it is a metropolitan city buses to all over India is available. There are three main bus terminals that are Mattuthavani, Periyar and Arappalayam.

Rail:

Next to Chennai this railway division is the largest. There are direct trains to all over India and the railway station is well maintained with A/c waiting hall.

Airport:

Airport is in Villapuram which is 12 km away from central city. It provides domestic and international flight services around the clock. TRIVANDRUM or THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Known as the “hometown of Padmanabhan” an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Thiruvananthapuram is the governing centre of the state Kerala. Mahatma Gandhi once alluded to Thiruvananthapuram as the “Evergreen city of India“. It is home to the world’s richest temple, the Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple which has possessions worth more than 1000 billion Indian rupees. Thiruvananthapuram tops the rundown in a late overview by the Times of India on “best Kerala city to live in“. Gifted with unwinding shorelines, verdant slopes, sky-high mountains and meandering lakes, the capital city of Kerala is ever entertaining for all. 3,30,7600 reside in Thiruvananthapuram District of which nearly 2 million occupying the urban area. Thiruvananthapuram area was a part of the past Travancore State. As per authentic records, the State of Travancore was partitioned into three authoritative units amid the rule of Maharaja Rama Varma (a.d.1758-1798) – Padinjaremukhom, Vadakkemukkom, and Tekkemukkom. Tekkemukhom generally relates to the present locale of Thiruvananthapuram, additionally a standout amongst the most favoured occasion destination in Kerala. The historical backdrop of Travancore starts with Marthanda Varma who acquired the Kingdom of Venad and extended Travancore by overcoming kingdoms Attingal, Poonjar, Kottayam, Changanassery, Meenachil, Kollam, Kayamkulam, Kottarakara and Ambalapuzha. Marthanda Varma crushed the Dutch in the Colachel Battle in 1741. He seized the Dutch Admiral who was later on selected as the Senior Admiral. it was he who modernized the Travancore armed force by presenting guns and mounted guns. The kingdom of Travancore was committed by Marthanda Varma to his divinity Sri. Padmanabha (Lord Vishnu) and from that point, the leaders of Travancore ruled the kingdom as the workers of Sri. Padmanabha (Padmanabhan). The culture of Thiruvananthapuram is pure South Indian. Being the “Land of Lord Padmanabhan”, people here are warm and welcoming to their guests. Home to some of the greatest artists the world has seen, like the Maharaja Swathi Tirunal, Kumaranasan, Ullur Parameswaran Nair and much more, Thiruvananthapuram is a cradle of Kerala’s rich culture. Agriculture and pot making are traditional occupations of Thiruvananthapuram people. Now, being the capital city and IT hub of Kerala, people are involved in various jobs and those depending on traditional jobs are less in numbers. COCHIN or KOCHI Kochi is said to be the cosmopolitan hub of Kerala, also a major Port City in India. It is a fast moving city with a fusion of people, belonging to different cultures and different parts of the country who made Kochi their home. At present more than 2 million people reside at Kochi. It has developed into a major tourism hotspot for those who visit India. Kochi was previously known by the names Cochin and Ernakulam, which the people still use. Until Early 14th century AD, Kodungallur Port was the preferred trade center for the local traders as well as the foreign traders from China, Middle East and Russia. It was during 1341, when Kodungallur Port was wiped out following a flood and the traders moved to Kochi resulting in the emergence of one of the leading Port Cities in India. The Portuguese were the first to establish their base at Kochi, from when the colonization of India started following the Dutch, who ruled for decades until 1814 when the British took control as a result of the Dutch treaty. Fort Kochi, which comes under Kochi Municipal Corporation is the historical center in Kochi. One who walks by the streets of Fort Kochi will feel as if he/she had travelled back to an ancient European city of the 16th century. Mattancherry is another neighboring historical town which offers a lot to its visitor’s. The locals say, long before the chery [street] was full of lined butcher shops selling mutton, and hence the name “Mattancherry”. There are a lot of activities for the visitors at Mattancherry and Fort Kochi. At present, the merger of municipalities Kochi city [formerly Ernakulam], Fort Kochi and Mattancherry together is known as “Kochi”.

Sight Seeing Places
  • Chinese Fishing Nets

    “Cheena vala”, described as Chinese fishing nets in the local jargon used by the fishermen and many others at Kochi are a major attraction for tourists. It is in practice for more than half a millennia on the Kochi coastline. It is believed to be the Portuguese, who brought these nets to Kochi from Macau, which was once a Portuguese colony. A contradictory thought is that these nets were gifted to Kochi Maharaja by the Chinese Emperor Kubalagi in the 14th century AD. Initially there were more than 100s of these, but now only 12 are in proper working condition. Visitors could buy fresh seafood as per one’s taste and even eat them cooked as there are many local stalls available with boards headlining “If you buy, I will cook”. Now, that is some good news for tourists as they could have a taste of fresh catch Kochi seafood on spot. A walk by the side of these fishing nets is also recommended.

  • Bolgatty Palace

    Bolgatty palace, built on the Bolghatty Island of Vembanad lake in 1744 by the Dutch traders in India for their higher officials, still poses its beauty with pride. It is now directly under the Department of Tourism, Kerala, and has been transmuted into a heritage hotel with a vibrant fauna garden landscaped around it along with a swimming pool, a 9 hole golf course and an Ayurvedic center too. The stay at the hotel is for sure a lovely experience especially the lakefront rooms which are always in demand by the guests. The eye watering view from these rooms would fill in your heart with the pure Kerala charm. There are daily Kathakali shows for people who want to witness and experience the famous art form of Kerala. It is roughly 12 kms from the Kochi city, likely a 20 minutes’ drive.

  • Hill Palace Museum

    With 16 galleries constituting 500 artifacts including the multi-billion rupees worth Cochin Royal crown and crown jewelry, the Hill palace museum truly is a treasure for the art and history admirers. It was the former residence of the Kochi Maharaja, and thus houses the collection of the royal families along with old coins, old paintings, sculptures and so on. The museum is open for 5 hours a day: 09.30 am – 01.00 pm and from 02.00 pm – 04.30 pm It is 12 km southeast of Kochi city.

  • Mattancherry Palace [Dutch Palace]

    The palace, originally built by the Portuguese in the year 1555 was gifted to the Kochi Maharaja, Veera Kerala Varma [1537-61] gesticulating their goodwill likely to secure trading privileges. Later on after defeating the Portuguese and winning the rule over Kochi in 1663, the Dutch revamped the palace and thus the name “Dutch Palace”. Hindu murals, describing various scenes from the Indian epics like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and other puranic legends are elements of pure artistic brilliance and serve as the central attraction of the Dutch palace. The palanquins [hand carried carriages], the grand ceilings, the royal outfits of the king and family, displayed inside the palace will definitely inspire and startle the visitors. The palace is 10 kms from the city and is open for visitors from Saturday to Thursday, 10.00 am – 05.00 pm.

  • Jew street and Paradesi Synagogue

    During the period of Crusades, in 11, 12, and 13th centuries Jewish refugees got settled at Kochi and this Synagogue was constructed in 1568. Paradesi means foreign, hence the name Paradesi Synagogue, a synagogue for the foreigners. The synagogue was destroyed in 1662 by the Portuguese as they attacked the Jews for supporting the Dutch who were challenging them to conquer Kochi. Soon after in 1964 the Dutch overpowered the Portuguese and reconstructed the synagogue. Inside the Synagogue there is a beautifully decorated golden pulpit and the hall is illuminated with gorgeous chandeliers and multi-coloured glass lamps catalyzing the beauty of brilliantly, hand painted floor tiles from china. The street on which the synagogue lies is known as the Jew Street as it is highly populated by Jews. There were a lot of Jewish families who found refuge there but as the time moved by many of them migrated to Israel leaving only few families now. There are a lot of antiques/handicrafts and spice shops on both sides of the Jewish street to look out for. The synagogue is open from Sunday- Friday, from 10.00 pm – 01.00 pm and from 03.00 pm – 05.00 pm.

  • Cherai Beach

    Located nearly 25 kms from Kochi, Cherai Beach is a lovely spot to spend some time with the waves and to soak up some vitamin D sunshine. The thick coconut groves lined up on the coastline provide us a glimpse of Kerala’s rich greenery.

BACKWATERS Kerala is most popular for its backwaters. The tranquility and serenity of the place almost demarcates its non-existent boundaries making it a world on its own. Located in the Malabar Coast, the mesmerizing locations of the Kerala backwaters include areas such as Kollam, Alappuzha, Kumarakom, Kerala Backwaters are also famous for their unique boat races that are an annual feature here. Besides the foreign guests who come here to be a spectator to these spectacular events, natives settled abroad also view these events as a wonderful pretext to visit home – relatives and friends. Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom wildlife sanctuary and the historic Thangasseri fort are a few of the most significant attractions housed in this region to be named. While in the Kerala Backwaters regions, do not miss to feast on coastal culinary delights that are peculiar to the region and known for their authentic spices and tastes.

ABOUT
INDIA LUXURY TRAINS

India Luxury Trains 4 U bring for our clients a life time experience of Luxury and Royalty. We ensures that your luxury train journey is not just great but so splendid that they create memories lasting a lifetime.

To discover and explore the heritage and culture of India on board these Luxury trains journeys are just unimaginable. Each of the five different luxury trains in India – Maharajas Express , Palace on Wheels , Royal Rajasthan on Wheels , Golden Chariot and Deccan Odyssey offer’s our clients the journeys that are carefully crafted.

Read More

ONLINE BOOKING

The packages which include flights are fully ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 9967