This epitome of Mughal architecture, built entirely with white marble is one of the most well-known identifiers of India. Its grandeur and beauty will have you spellbound.
Shah Jahan built this paragon for his wife Mumtaz Mahal to enunciate his love for her.
Situated in one of the “Golden Triangle” cities, you also get an opportunity to explore the streets of Agra.
Entry fee: Indian – INR 40, Foreigner- INR 1000
Timings: 6:30 am to 9:30 pm (closed on Fridays)
One of the tallest creations in the Indian history is the Qutub Minar. With its red sandstone and aesthetic Iranian architecture, the minaret is the most famous tourist attraction in India.
This UNESCO World Heritage site towers at a height of 240 feet making it one of the tallest ancient towers across the globe. Assimilate history of the minaret by reading the inscriptions engraved in Parso-Arabic and Nagari characters.
Built by Qutub Ud-Din-Aibak in the nineteenth century this tower is a must visit place in Delhi.
Entry fee: for Indians- INR 10 and Foreigners- INR 250
Timings: 7 am to 5 pm
The splendid Amer Fort sits atop a hill called Cheel ka Teela, safeguarded by the Maota Lake. The essence of the Amer fort lies in its captivating architecture and the lustrous red sandstone and marble.
The gigantic fort has some mystical elements enveloped in it, like the Diwan-i-Khaas, the Diwan-i-aam, and the beguiling Sheesh Mahal. Enjoy an elephant ride towards the Suraj Pol (sun gate)
A hidden tunnel in the fort takes you on a prolonged path bridging the paerfedlace to the Jaigarh Fort.
Entry fee: Indians- INR 25 and Foreigners- INR 200
Timings: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
The enthralling caves of Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra are the epitome of beauty. With their authentic rock-cut sculptures and ancient Indian art, the caves have become a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The artifacts in the cave portray the past lives and rebirths of Buddha in spellbinding sculptures and murals. Discovered in 1819, the caves are a popular tourist hot spots and a must visit.
Entry fee: Indians- INR 30 and Foreigners- INR 500
Timings: 8 am to 5 pm
Situated in Karnataka, the exquisite city of Hampi houses some of the most breath-taking temples.
The Virupaksha Temple situated in Hampi is the most astonishing marvel ever discovered.The sculptures of Lord Shiva carved on stones is the predominant feature of this spectacular temple. Built under the ruler Deva Raya II of the great Vijayanagara Empire is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Hampi.
Enjoy the annual festivals of Virupaksha, Pampa, and chariot in Hampi to get a deeper look into the ever so opulent temple of Virupaksha.
Entry fee: for Indians- INR 10 and Foreigners- INR 250
Timings: 6 am to 6 pm
The antique carved rocks blended with the chariots and cave sanctuaries make Mahabalipuram, one of the key historic sites of Tamil Nadu.
Built in the 7th century by the dynasty of Pallavas, the Shore Temple is one of the most popular monuments of Mahabalipuram. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple exhibits a strong Dravidian influence in its architecture infused with some Buddhist elements.
Admire the great sculptures in Mahabalipuram on your visit.
Entry fee: for Indians- INR 10 and Foreigners- INR 250
Timings: 6 am to 6 pm
Devoted to the Sun God ‘Surya’, the prepossessing Konark Temple is the most spellbinding historic site in Odisha. The Kalinga architecture reflecting in its gigantic chariot, pillars and walls give the temple an Odiya touch.
Also classified as ‘Black Pagoda’ by some European sailors, this UNESCO World Heritage site has also featured in the list of 7 Wonders of India. The magnificent Khandolite rocks make the beauty of this temple even more alluring to the human eyes.
Entry fee: for Indians- INR 30 and Foreigners- INR 250
Timings: 6 am to 8
The Sanchi stupa stands as an unparalleled example of the majestic aura that is encompassed within the Buddhist style of architecture. Ancient relics of Lord Buddha are rooted within the dome- shaped structure of the stupa, which was how the structure looked until the dawn of the 1st century.
The stupa borrows its esteem from its commissioner, Ashoka of the Maurya dynasty, whose stature can be well indicated in the terms of the stupa’s altitude. The 54 ft. high stupa tells the tales of Lord Buddha’s life through its mesmerizing carvings, whose intricacy personifies the architecture.
Marked as a UNESCO world heritage site the stupa is visited regularly by uncountable visitors. So what are you waiting for!
Entry fee: for Indians- INR 20 and Foreigners- INR 250
Timings: Sunrise to Sunset
Located in the small town of Khajuraho, the Khajuraho Temples have found a place within UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites and are visited annually by many visitors.
This group of Hindu and Jain temples built by the Chandelas reflects the acceptance and respect for diverse religions during those times. All temples, barring one, are east-facing and glimmer at the break of dawn by the sunrise.
The temples are famous for intricately carved statues and sculptures, some of which are remnants of the ancient culture of Kama Sutra.
Visit these temples to delve deeper into the traditional Hindu values of Dharma, Kama, Artha, and Moksha, that these temples are symbolic of.
Entry fee: for Indians- INR 30 and Foreigners- INR 500
Timings: 6 am to 10
Located right in the heart of Kolkata, this memorial has been named after Queen Victoria. The elegant white marble structure is girdled by lush green gardens which together cover 64 acres of land.
Small sculptures and statues, which are spread throughout the gardens, add further charm to the memorial premises.
The memorial is illuminated by lights in the evening and runs high in terms of seraphic beauty.
Don’t miss out on the evening show called ‘Son et Lumiere’ on your visit.
Entry fee: for Indians- INR 20 and Foreigners- INR 200
Timings: 10 am to 5 pm (closed on Mondays)
Designed by Lal Chand Ustad, Hawa Mahal is built in red and pink sandstone. Interestingly, Hawa Mahal is more of a gallery and was created so that the royal ladies could look outside as they were constantly under ‘purdah’.
Located in the heart of Jaipur, Hawa Mahal can be reached via bus, auto-rickshaw, taxi or cars from the capital city. The months of September to February are the best time to visit Hawa Mahal.
Entry fee: for Indians- INR 10 and Foreigners- INR 50
Built at the zenith of Mughal Empire by Shah Jahan, Lal Quila was completed in a period of nine years. The fort today stands as a testimony to the magnificent glory and power of Mughal Sultanate, adorned in walls of red sandstone. One of the most politically significant monument, the Red Fort witnesses the independence day celebrations every year.
A fine blend of Persian and indigenous architectural styles, the Red Fort hosts important key rooms such, Diwan-i-aam, Diwan-i-Khas, Mumtaz Mahal, Rang Mahal among many others. Spending a pleasant autumn day around the lawns of this area would be the perfect way to walk through the history of Mughal India.
Timings: 9:30 am- 4:30 pm daily (Closed on Mondays)
Entry fee: Indians- INR 10 and Foreigners- INR 250
Built by British architect Lord Henry Irwin in 1912, Mysore Palace is located in the heart of the city. An architectural wonder built in Indo Saracenic style, this palace features intricate interiors. Interestingly, Golden palanquin was used by the Maharaja which was then carried by elephants during the annual Dasara festivities. Goddess Durga’s idol is now placed inside the palanquin.
The months between October to March are the most pleasant and offer a comfortable stay here. Avoid summers as they are very sultry hot.
Entry fee: Indians- INR 40 and Foreigners- INR 200
Timings: 10 am – 5.30 pm (Closed on Sundays and govt holidays)
Located at a distance of 40 km to the west of Agra, the erstwhile capital of Jalaluddin Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri stands as a vivid memory of the Mughal era. The highest gateway in the world, Buland Darwaza marks one of the finest surviving glories of the Mughal Sultanate as the entrance to the magnificent palace.
The fortified ancient city was also home to the famous Sufi saint, Salim Chisti, who prophesied the birth of a male heir to the kingdom. Take a walk around the royal court of Diwan-i-Khas, marveling at the grand finesse of intricately carved walls.
Entry fee: Indians- INR 40 and Foreigners- INR 510
Timings: Sunrise to sunset (Closed on Fridays)
One of India’s iconic landmarks, Gateway of India overlooking the Mumbai Harbour was built by the British in 1924.
In the modern times, the Gateway is a favorite picnic spot for locals and tourists, alike.
Dotted by dozens of street vendors serving lip-smacking local food along with balloon sellers, give this place a pleasingly happy vibe.
Timings: Visit anytime
Entry fee: No charges
Hampi was the imperial capital of Vijayanagar, a 14th century empire. Before the fall of Vijayanagar, diamonds were sold on the streets, but the main street selling diamonds and other precious stones was surprisingly called Pan Supaari Street (translated in English, it means betel-leaf betel-nut street). A visitor can still see the exact location of Pan Supaari Street in Hampi, which has been marked with a board by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Rani ki vav, or Ran-ki vav (Queen’s step well) was constructed during the rule of the Chaulukya dynasty. It is generally assumed that it was built in the memory of Bhima I (r. c. 1022–1064) by his widowed queen Udayamati and probably completed by Udayamati and karna after his death. A reference to Udayamati building the monument is in Prabandha-Chintamani, composed by the Jain monk Merunga Suri in 1304 AD.
Buddha came to Sarnath to preach his message of the middle way to nirvana after he achieved enlightenment at Bodhgaya, and gave his famous first sermon at the deer park here in Isipatana. In the 3rd century BC, Emperor Ashoka erected magnificent stupas and monasteries here, as well as an engraved pillar. When Chinese traveller Xuan Zang dropped by in AD 640, Sarnath boasted a 100m-high stupa and 1500 monks living in large monasteries. However, soon after, Buddhism went into decline, and when Muslim invaders sacked the city in the late 12th century, Sarnath disappeared altogether. It was only ‘rediscovered’ by British archaeologists in 1835.
Dhamek Stupa is the most noticeable structure in Sarnath, near Varanasi. It is one of the most prominent Buddhist structures in India. The Dhamek Stupa was built in 500 CE to replace an earlier structure commissioned by the great Mauryan king Ashoka in 249 BCE.
The Dhamek Stupa represents the deer park (Rishipattana). This park is said to be of great importance as Buddha gave his first sermon here after attaining enlightenment, to his disciples that revealed his “Eightfold Path“.
The Stupa is 28 meters in diameter at the base and 43.6 meters in height, built partly of stone and partly of brick. The stone facing the lower part is adorned with delicate floral carvings of Gupta origin.
The stupa was enlarged on six occasions but the upper part is still unfinished. The wall is covered with exquisitely carved figures of humans and birds, as well as inscriptions in the Brahmi script.
Bara Imambara, also known as Asafi Imambara is an imambara complex in Lucknow, India built by Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Awadh in 1784. Bara means big.
Its central hall is said to be the largest vaulted chamber in the world. Except for the galleries in the interior, there is no woodwork in the entire structure. It is now used by Shia Muslims for the purpose of Azadari.
It is believed that the construction of this grand building was started in 1785 when a devastating famine had hit Awadh, and the nawab’s objective was to provide employment for people in the region for almost a decade while the famine lasted.
It has large underground passages which have been blocked up. A staircase from outside leads to a series of labyrinths known as Bhool-Bhulaiyan, which is a complicated entanglement of zig-zag passages. Visitors are advised to visit only with authorised guides. Within the compound of the Imambara is the grand Asafi Mosque. Shahi Baoli is another attraction here.
Timing : Sunrise to Sunset.
Entry fee : Rs. 25.00 (Indian).
Rs. 500.00 (Foreigner) (inclusive of Bara Imambara, Chhota Imambara, Picture Gallery, Shahi Hamam).
Kapilvastu was the ancient capital of the Shakya Clan, whose ruler ‘Shuddhodhan’ was the father of the Buddha,Therefore Lord Buddha is also referred to as Shakyamuni. The Shakya domain was one of the sixteen ‘Mahajanpads’ of the 6th Century B.C. Prince Gautam, as Lord Buddha was then known, left his palace in Kapilvastu at the age of 29 and revisited it 12 years later, after attaining the Enlightenment. Today, Kapilvastu comprises of the several villages, mainly Piprahwa, Ganvaria & Salagarh.
Sravasti has been identified with the remains at Saheth-Maheth, situated on the banks of the river Rapti. It was the capital of ancient Kosala kingdom and is sacred to the Buddhists because it is here that Lord Buddha performed the greatest of his miracles to confound the Tirthika heretics. These miracles include Buddha creating multiple images of himself, which has been a favourite theme of Buddhist art. It is well-connected with good roads constructed under Buddhist-Circuit.
A symbol of the vast heritage present throughout the culturally rich India, the Buddhist monuments of Sanchi are one of the oldest stone structures in India. Designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO, the Great Stupa was installed in the 3rd century BC by Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty. The sculptures and monuments present at the site are a fine example of the development of Buddhist art and architecture. The stupa sits atop a hill in Sanchi, surrounded by lush gardens, providing visitors peace and serenity at this grand tribute to the peaceful religion of Buddhism.
Sanchi is a small village situated at the foot of a hill, located very close to the capital city of Bhopal. This place is known for its ancient Stupas, monasteries and other remnants of the rich Buddhist culture which date back to the 3rd century B. C. It is one of the most important places for Buddhist pilgrimage and pilgrims from around the world visit this place, especially to see Sanchi Stupa which is also a World Heritage Site.
This large hemispherical dome, more than 50 ft high with a diameter of more than 30m was constructed to honour Lord Buddha and houses many important Buddhist relics. It is meant to serve as a sacred burial mound for the distributed remains of Lord Buddha. Being such a serene place and a hub of Buddhist culture, it is also very surprising that Lord Buddha never visited this village even once. During the reign of the Guptas, temples were built here, making this location a grand example of the harmonious coexistence of Hindu and Buddhist faiths. This historic structure has undergone a lot of development, renovation and addition since its original construction. The four ornate gateways, known as Toranas, were the last structural additions, being added in the 12th Century AD. They are meant to represent love, courage, trust, and peace. The magnificent structure attracts scores of tourists and history buffs who come to marvel at the architectural integrity of these monuments as well as gain a deeper understanding of the cultural history of India.
Mandu is the epitome of architectural excellence that our ancestors seemed to have achieved. This city is testament to the unconditional love between Prince Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati. Mandu also boasts of the oldest erected monument of India. October-March is the best time to visit Mandu as this period experiences moderate weather. The summers are quite hot from March to May, just like the other parts of Madhya Pradesh, and the winters are comparatively more pleasant. Hence, we recommend the winter season to visit Mandu and explore it in its full grandeur. Monsoons, on the other hand, are also enjoyable, with occasional rainfall which keeps the temperature on the lower side compared to summers. October marks the onset of winters; the weather remains cold and pleasant till March. The temperature does not fall below 10 degrees and does not rise above 25 degrees, which makes visiting several museums and palaces in the city an enjoyable experience. You can roam about the town comfortably during the day. Besides, you can indulge in the auspicious Mandu festival which is organised by the tourism department in the city during October. This festival displays a unique blend of Hindu and tribal culture, which is worth watching. The festival lasts for ten days, and many performances based on Hindu mythology are showcased for the tourists. You can have a look at the various tribal art and craft work. To sum up, winter is the best time to visit Mandu.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Elephanta Caves is a specimen of rock-cut art and architecture from the times of medieval India. The caves are located on the Elephanta island which is situated at a distance of 11 km from the city of Mumbai. Natively known as Gharapurichi Leni, the Elephanta Caves that exist today are ruins of what were once elaborately painted artworks. It also provides an amazing view of the Mumbai skyline.
There are two groups of alcoves in the site of the Elephanta Caves, the first is a large group of five Hindu caves and the second one is a smaller group of two Buddhist caves. The Hindu caves contain the stone sculptures representing the Shaiva Hindu sect. The architecture of the caves dates back to the 5th and 8th centuries, but the story of their origin is still a mystery. The caves are an expression of art and a number of important imageries are sculpted here, which include 'Trimurti' or three headed Shiva, 'Gangadhar' which is a manifestation of the river Ganga as she descends to the earth and 'Ardhnareshwar', which is a representation of Shiva and Parvati in the same body. In addition to being an important heritage site, the Elephanta Caves are also an unlikely trekking destination.
The Mehrangarh Fort, built by Rao Jodha in 1459 in Jodhpur, is one of the largest forts in the country. It is situated at the top of a 410 feet elevated hill and guarded by massive walls. Located in the centre of the city, the fort covers an area of approximately 5 Kms of a hill. Its walls have a height of 36 metres and width of 21 metres.
The intricate carvings on the walls of the fort, the sprawling courtyards, its impressive history, striking palaces, museums and galleries allures tourists from all over the world.
To reach the fort, seven gates have to be crossed namely Victory Gate, Fateh Gate, Gopal Gate, Bhairon Gate, Dedh Kamgra Gate, Marti Gate and finally Loha Gate. The first defensive gate is the Victory gate which was built by Maharaja Man Singh in the year 1806 to celebrate his victory against Jaipur and Bikaner. Maharaja Ajit Singh built Fateh Pol on his victory over the Mughals. Dedh Kamgra Gate still bears the marks of cannon balls which were bombarded during wars. Loha Gate, the last one is a very special gate. It has sharp iron spikes to protect from enemies? elephants. Also, on the walls inside the gate are the handprints of Maharaja Man Singh's widows who left the palace in 1843 to commit Sati.
Within the fort, there are magnificent palaces like Sheesh Mahal and Phool Mahal which will leave you awestruck. Also, the fort has one of the well-stocked museums of Rajasthan. There are six different galleries in the Mehrangarh Museum: Elephant's howdahs, Palanquins, Daulat Khana, Armoury, Paintings and the Turban Gallery. National Geological Monument, Nagnecha Mataji Temple, Chamunda Temple and Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park are the tourist attractions in Mehrangarh Fort.
An incredibly breathtaking example of Indo - Saracenic style of architecture, the Mysore Palace is a magnificent edifice located in Mysore in the state of Karnataka. Also known as the Amba Vilas Palace, it is the former palace of the royal family of Mysore and is still their official residence. Referred to as the 'City of Palaces', Mysore houses seven other places, but none come close to awe - inspiring grandeur of this palace. Mysore Palace was built in the year 1912 for the 24th Ruler of the Wodeyar Dynasty and is counted amongst one of the biggest palaces in the country.
The construction of the Mysore Palace was orchestrated by the Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV referred as "Rajarishi" (saintly king) by Mahatma Gandhi. It was then further expanded by his son and the last Maharaja of Mysore, Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar. The facade of the palace is a harmonious blend of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles which imparts it a regal quality. With the Chamundi Hills towards its eastern side, the spectacle of the Mysore Palace is an enchanting sight to behold. Needless to say, it is the second most visited historical monument visited by both local and foreign tourists after the Taj Mahal. Presently located inside the Old Fort, Mysore Palace is renowned for its light & sound show and vibrant Dussehra celebrations.
An identifying feature of the city, Charminar is the most prominent landmark located right in the heart of Hyderabad The monument was erected by Quli Qutub Shah to signify the founding of Hyderabad and to signify the end of a slew of epidemics plaguing the people due to water shortage in Golconda. As is evident from the structure, it was so named as it consists of four minarets. Although it lies right in the centre of the city with traffic and crowds milling all about it, Charminar certainly manages to behold the gaze. It looks even better when it is illuminated as the sun sets. The life around Charminar never ceases to throb, as this part smells and feels like the real Hyderabad. The area around Charminar is quintessentially, 'Hyderabadi' and is famous for its 'Chudi Bazaar' (Market of Bangles). Here you can buy the most colourful jewellery, eat the authentic 'Hyderabadi Biryani', and make your eyes a little prettier with the 'Soorma' - a traditional Kohl made especially in Hyderabad.
Since the construction of the monument in 1591, Charminar has been synonymous with the culture of Hyderabad standing tall as a reminder of the glorious days of the past era. It is a massive structure which has four minarets which many believe stand for the first four 'khalifas' (Prophets) of Islam. It is situated on the east bank of Musi River and stands tall amidst the labyrinthine laad bazaar
in the old city. The Charminar is an example of artistic brilliance, and it is also considered to be one of the most astonishing structures in India.
Situated in the Western part of the beautiful city of Hyderabad at a distance of approximately 9 km from Hussain Sagar Lake, the Golconda fort is spread over an area of three square kilometres which is 4.8 kilometres in length. This mighty fort falls in the list of the most humongous fortresses of India. One interesting phenomenon observed at the Golconda Fort is that if a person standing at a certain point near the dome entrance claps his hands, it can be heard at the hilltop pavilion which lies at a distance of about one kilometre. In a way, this feature proved to be useful as with the help of this, people living inside the fort were warned of any approaching danger if any. Now, this is more or less used as a means of entertainment for the tourists. The architecture, the legends, the history, and the mystery of Golconda Fort add to its allure and make it one of the must-visit places in Hyderabad. The Golconda Fort showcases majestic halls, stables, magazines, four drawbridges and mounted cannons. The outermost area of the fort is known as Fateh Darwaza which means Victory gate (literally). Distinguishable effects can be observed at Fateh Darwaza which has been one of the major engineering phenomena at this glorious fort. Also, the mines here are known to produce some of the most coveted and popular gems ever known in the world such as Idol's Eye, the Hope Diamond, Darya-i-noor and the famous Koo-i-noor.
In the evening, Golconda Fort comes to life with the light and sound show which showcases snippets from its regal past. The grandeur, the rise, and the fall of the fort are all spectacular in their own right. With its fascinating history, the place is definitely worth a visit.
In the Pink City of Jaipur, cradled on the top of the Aravali Hill lies the Amer Fort. An architectural masterpiece and with significant reference in Indian history, it is visited by over five thousand tourists daily. Only eleven kilometres away from the capital city of Jaipur, Amer Fort is clad in pink and yellow sandstone and is a part of an extensive complex. The Fort gives a mesmerizing view from the bottom of the hill when it is illuminated every evening. Built by one of the most trusted generals of Akbar, Man Singh who had a huge impact on the Indian politics and society in the sixteenth century; Amer Fort is a paradise for photography lovers and history buffs. Amer Fort is also referred to as 'Amber Fort' by the locals and tourists alike.
The Amer Fort through its large ramparts and several gateways and paved paths overlooks the Maotha Lake. Amer is a small town with an area hardly over four square kilometres, it once served as a capital city of Rajasthan and is one of a prominent tourist attraction today with visitors coming from all over the globe. You have an option of visiting the fort on elephant-back or if you are feeling a little more adventurous, hike all the way to the top. Amer Fort and Jaigarh Fort, both located atop the hill called 'Cheel ka Teela', are a part of a single complex. They are also connected through an underground passage meant to act as an escape route during emergencies.
Located near the City Palace in the regal city of Jaipur, Jantar Mantar is the largest stone astronomical observatory in the world. This ancient study boasts of nineteen instruments built out of stone and brass and was built by Raja Sawai Jai Singh in 1727-33. The intelligent construction and placement of these instruments allowed the observer to note the position of heavenly bodies with their naked eye alone. Time has failed to lay dust upon this engineering marvel and it still works as well as it used in the olden times. An amalgam of various disciplines, It stands proudly as a witness of the wisdom and mathematical prowess of a former age. Owing to its rich cultural, heritage and scientific value, Jantar Mantar in Jaipur has also been featured on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
The main objective of building this vast observatory was to study and gather information about space and time as was known. The instruments here pertain to Egypt's Ptolemaic astronomy and follows three classical celestial coordinates to track the positions of heavenly bodies- namely horizon-zenith local system, the equatorial system and the ecliptic system. This observatory also employs the "Kapala Yantraprakara", which allows the transformation of one coordinate system to the other directly. Another fact that makes this destination unique is that the world's largest sundial is situated here. The observatory in Jaipur is a part of a collection of five other such observatories built by Raja Jai Singh, which are located in New Delhi, Ujjain Varanasi and Mathura. The architectural brilliance of Jantar Mantar is an amazing thing to experience and is a delightful look into the days bygone. The best experience here is undoubtedly the light and sound show that takes place every evening and Jantar Mantar lights up like a firefly! You can witness a truly colourful and engaging rendition of the history of Jaipur through this show.
Laxmi Vilas Palace is one of the most majestic structures in India and was the private residence of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. Known to be the largest private dwelling of the size equivalent to four times of the Buckingham Palace, this magnificent palace is a must visit when in Vadodara. Sprawling across an area of about 700 acres, it is still home to the royal family of Vadodara, the Gaekwads. The lush gardens of the palace add to the beauty of the entire experience of being here. Lucky tourists can spot monkeys or peacocks strutting around. The grounds also include a 10-hole golf course. In earlier times, a small zoo was also a part of the area. What remains today are a small pond and a few crocodiles.
The striking palace was constructed in 1890 and took nearly twelve years to complete. The total cost of the construction was around £180,000. The chief architect of the place was Major Charles Mant. He followed the Indo-Saracenic style while constructing the palace which is a hybrid of the Hindu, Gothic and Mughal architectural forms with the presence of domes, minrates and arches. It also incorporates several other buildings within its complex including the LVP Banquets and Conventions, Moti Baug Palace and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building. An excellent audio tour with free drink and snack are included in the ticket price.
The museum building was mainly constructed as a school for the Maharaja's children. Today, the museum houses an extraordinary collection of paintings by Raja Ravi Verma and various other artefacts gathered from all around the world. A good blend of both foreign as well as local materials and workmanship was used in the construction of the palace. Red stone was brought in from Agra, blue trap stone from Poona, marbles from Rajasthan and Italy were used while twelve workmen from Venice laid down the beautiful montage floor of the Darbar Hall of the palace.
History is alluring. It teaches us about the culture, people, and traditions of an era gone by. In the history of the southern parts of the country, the Chola Empire ruled for centuries. They gifted a major chunk of history to us to devour on by building some of the most magnificent temples of all times. The Chola Temples were constructed between 11th- and 12th-century. The three temples built by the Chola kingdom are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and are labelled as, "Great Living Chola Temples". These are - The Brihadesvara Temple (Thanjavur), Brihadisvara Temple (Gangaikondacholisvaram) and Airavatesvara Temple (Darasuram).
A Hindu temple, dedicated to Shiva is located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India, Brihadisvara Temple was built between 1003 and 1010 AD by Raja Raja Chola I. It is one of the largest temples in South India located 350 kilometres southwest of the city of Chennai. The place is well connected by bus and train facility. If you want to fly for a quick weekend getaway, then the nearest airport, Tiruchirappalli International Airport is 55 kilometres away.
In the calm district of Ariyalur, in Tamil Nadu, another of the Great Living Chola Temples, Gangaikonda Cholapuram (Brihadisvara Temple) is located. Located 280 kilometres away from Chennai, the temple can be easily reached by bus as well as trains.
The magnificent temple was constructed by Rajendra Chola I in 1035 AD. After conquering the Ganges in the northern part of the country, he acquired the name Gangaikonda Chola, as the conqueror of the Ganges. He laid the foundation of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and proclaimed it as the capital of his kingdom. It served as the capital city for a span of 250 years. Although the main deity in the temple is Shiva there are also other deities prayed here, such as Durga, Surya and Vishnu, to name a few. The architecture style of the Brihadisvara Temple is a square design plan, depicting the infamous Dravidian style of the architecture. All the structures on this glorious Chola temple grounds are square-shaped. The main courtyard is covered by two square structures that are built next to each other. The primary sanctum, Garbha Griha, the mandapas and the Upapitham are also squarish buildings. The typical craftsmanship of the Chola kingdom in the 11th century is depicted in the bronze statues kept in the temple.
Near Kumbakonam, in Tamil Nadu, Airavatesvara Temple is located in Darasuram. Similar to other Chola temples, it is dedicated to Shiva. It was built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century.
The striking temple is an architectural marvel with the chariot structure that has intricate carving and sculpting done by talented artisans. The temple is a depiction of a chariot being pulled by a horse and an elephant. The architectural style, square structures in common among all the great living chola temples. There is 212 feet Vimana, a Lingam, a colossal Goddess Periyanayagi statue and a massive Nandhi at the entrance of the temple complex. The paintings and epigraphs detail the history of the Chola dynasty. The impressive carving on the ceiling of Shiva and Parvati seated on the inner side of blooming lotus is a majestic view.
A depository of ancient monuments, an extremely rich heritage, and an immortal folklore boasting of its majestic glory, every building in Chittorgarh still reverberates with the history of its sacrifice and heroism. The capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Mewar, Chittorgarh is a land of forts, citadels, ruins, and evergreen stories. Situated in the South Eastern corner of Rajasthan, Chittorgarh stands at the helm of Chattari Rajput pride, and is remembered in the pages of history for its glorious battles, especially the siege of Alauddin Khilji. Once known for its grandeur and opulence, today, Chittorgarh has left its tales of bravery and betrayal far behind to catch up to commercialization, but those stories of splendour and magnificence will never be forgotten.
Chittorgarh is known far and wide for its most famous attraction, the Chittorgarh fort, which is a gigantic fort built on a hilltop, spreading over an area of around 700 acres. Chittorgarh fort will always be remembered for the courageous self-sacrificing Jauhar performed by Rani Padmini to thwart the conquest of the fort by Alauddin Khilji, and thousands of tourists visit this place every year to take a look at the place that has been so prominently marked in the pages of history. Rana Kumbha Palace is the largest structure in Chittorgarh fort, and while it is now a mere tumbledown structure of broken walls and piles of stones, it was once a magnificent three-storied palace with gigantic pillars, maze-like underground tunnels and intricately designed architecture. The most famous attraction in Chittorgarh fort is the Rani Padmini Palace, named after Queen Padmini herself. Replete with roof pavilions and water moats, the story of Queen Padmini’s valour rings out loud in every corner of this dilapidated building.
Other sights to visit in Chittorgarh include the Meera Temple, the Kali Mata temple, the Gaumukh reservoir, and the Bassi Wildlife Sanctuary
Famous for its gigantic snake-like fortress, Kumbalgarh town is yet another feather in Rajasthan’s royal cap. The historic town is renowned for its majestic monuments, extravagant palaces, an array of temples and flamboyant chattris. The Kumbhalgarh fort is the second most important fort of Rajasthan and is a truly magnificent sight. The charming location of the fort at the foothills of pebbly Aravalli hills increases the overall appeal of the place.
Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuaries has a Lion Safari to offer too. At the foot of the Aravali, the area is blessed with an interesting terrain and other natural elements. Other than sustaining a rich flora and fauna, the area also sustains a magnificent past made to come alive with monuments flattering the tourists around the city. The wall of Kumbhalgarh Fort is the second longest continuous wall in the world, after the Great Wall of China.
Located 67 km North of the now popular destination wedding city of Udaipur, is the small town of Rajsamand. It got the name from the eponymous Rajsamand lake which is the second largest man-made lake in the world. Apart from the renowned historical edifices of Kumbhalgarh and Haldighati, the place also holds religious importance for different sects.
This is where the temple of Shrinathji stands, who was the chief deity of the Vaishnav community. Dwarakadhish temple believed to have a miraculous idol is also located in Rajsamand. The famous temple of Lord Vishnu with four hands (Charbhuja) is also situated here. Many temples dedicated to Lord Shiva can also be found here.
Rajsamand is most famous for its marble craft, and it is the single largest marble producing unit and district in the country. The district also holds the rare and laudable distinction of having a male-female ratio of 1:1.
Nestled amidst the Aravalli Hills, the charming town of Nathdwara is literally translates to "The Gateway of the Lord'. It is situated in the heart of Rajasthan, on the banks of river Banas and is a pristine picturesque location. It is also a sacred Hindu site and is flocked by thousands of tourists every year. Nathdwara is also famous for "Pichwai Paintings" which are traditional Rajasthani style paintings and terracotta work. It is considered the hub of traditional handicrafts, arts and artefacts.
This town also owes its name to this famous temple given the fact that Nathdwara literally translates to 'Gateway to Shrinathji'. This place is also considered to be a foodie's paradise with a lot of options available for the tourists. All in all, Nathdwara is a wealthy town in terms of its architecture and religious significance.
Situated close to the Pakistan Border, Jaisalmer is a major tourist spot located in the northwestern state of Rajasthan in India. It is called the 'golden city' due to its bounteous golden dunes flowing in the Thar Desert. Jaisalmer is adorned with lakes, ornate Jain temples, havelis and castles clad in golden yellowish sandstone. Climb on to the camel saddle and make your way through this desert or camp under the night sky in this golden land for an unforgettable experience.
The Jaisalmer Fort stands as a crown atop the city and provides a beautiful contrast to the landscape. It also has a lake and many magnificent temples, all made of sandstone. The narrow alleys surrounding the fort are inhabited by people residing there for generations. Jaisalmer is a sublime amalgam of exotic Indian desert culture, heritage and adventure.
One of the most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists, Bodhgaya is a village in the state of Bihar. It was here under the Bodhi tree that Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. The place is bustling with pilgrims all through the year who come to pay their homage in the monasteries, shrines and temples. It also attracts tourists from India and abroad owing to its magnificent Buddha statue, the Mahabodhi Temple and the Bodhi tree.
Bodh Gaya is the very place that houses the Mahabodhi tree, under which Gautam Buddha meditated and attained enlightenment. The Mahabodhi temple built near the Mahabodhi tree is highly revered and it is an enriching experience to visit the temple. One can still find the remnants and descendants of the original Mahabodhi Tree. Bodh Gaya is the single biggest pilgrimage for all sects of Buddhists throughout the world. It is now one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a lot of foreign countries including Japan and China have helped the Indian government in building facilities for the Buddhist pilgrims. Bodh Gaya also has other various temples and monasteries dedicated to Buddhism. Located near the river Neranjana, Bodh Gaya was earlier known as Uruwela. It was also known as Sambodhi, Vajrasana or Mahabodhi until the 18th century CE. A trip to Bodh Gaya provides valuable insights into the culture of Indian religious philosophies and also showcases some architectural masterpieces that would leave one spellbound.
The most popular Mahavihara of the ancient times, a significant Buddhist seat of academic excellence and a modest pilgrim center, all wrapped in a wisp of spirituality, Nalanda continues to be an equally enriching location in the present. It offers vibrant substance of spirituality, history, culture, architecture, and tourism.
This city houses one of the world's oldest and finest residential universities which itself was an architectural masterpiece. Although in ruins, the entire complex presents a pretty picture and is flocked by tourists day in and day out. It has “viharas” or monasteries to the east and “chaiyas” or temples to the west. In addition to this, the complex houses a charming little museum, which has a collection of several of original Buddhist stupas, Hindu and Buddhist bronzes, coins, terracotta jars, a sample of burnt rice etc. The district is believed to be a cradle of religions. Apart from Buddhism, it is an important center for Jainism, Hinduism, and Sufism as well. Considering the rich heritage and the historical importance, it is a hot tourist destination.
Pawapuri is a holy site for the Jains. It is situated in the Nalanda district of Bihar state in Eastern India. A long time ago, Pawapuri was the twin capital of Mall Mahajanpad. Mahajanpad later became a part of the kingdom of Magadha and Ajatshatru was a devotee of Lord Mahavira. During the rule of Ajatshatru, the king of Pawapuri was Hastipal. When in Pawapuri, Mahavira stayed in the Rajikshala of the king. It is considered as a sacred place because Lord Mahavira was buried here in 500 BC.
The place has also been given the name Apapuri meaning sinless town since Lord Mahavira was cremated here. After the cremation had been done, there was a rush while collecting the ashes which led to the removal of a layer of soil thereby resulting in the formation of a pond. This pond was later converted into a lotus pond, and a marble temple named Jalmandir was built in the center of the pond.
The place is very rich in culture and has a high heritage value. Some traditional festivals celebrated here include Rajgir Dance Festival and Chhath Puja. Various classical dances are performed in the Rajgir Dance Festival.
Located in the interiors of Bihar, Vaishali is a small district which is also a revered Hindu, Buddhist and Jain worshipping site. It is the city where Lord Mahavir was born. Considered as the first republic of the world, Vaishali is believed to have been named after King Vishal, from the time of Mahabharat.It is also the city where Buddha delivered his last sermon. Surrounded by groves of mango and banana and extensive rice field, it is now a part of Trihut division of Bihar. The village is an important religious and historical attraction site and is flocked by tourists year in and year out.
Lord Buddha has spent a significant time of his life here and he used to visit Vaishali every now and then. Also, his last sermon was held here in Vaishali, which marks the town as an extremely significant center for Buddhism. To mark this event King Ashoka, who embraced Buddhism after the massacre of Kalinga, he decided to erect one of his remarkable pillars here. Apart from Buddhists, Vaishali is revered as a holy place by Jains because it also happens to be Lord Mahavira's birth place.
Lord Ram's footprints in Ramchaura temple also builds a strong connection for Hindus as well. Vaishali today is a small village surrounded by banana and mango groves as well as rice fields. However, excavations in the area have brought to light an important historical past. The epic Ramayana tells the story of the heroic King Vishal who ruled here. Historians maintain that one of the world's first democratic republics with an elected assembly of representatives flourished here in the 6th century B.C. in the time of the Vajjis and the Lichchavis. And while Pataliputra, capital of the Mauryas and the Guptas, held political sway over the Gangetic plain, Vaishali was the center for trade and industry. Lord Buddha visited Vaishali frequently and at Kolhua, close by, preached his last sermon.
Known for its grand palaces, intricately carved temples and striking forts, situated on banks of river Betwa Orchha is a city with a lot of historical significance and a photographers' paradise.
Situated on the banks of Betwa river, Orchha's old world charm casts a spell on tourists from all around the world. The medieval architecture of the palaces and temples tell the story of this city's rich cultural heritage. Orchha was the capital of one of the most powerful dynasties to ever rule in India- the Bundelas. The sheer magnificence and grandeur of the havelis and temples are absolutely breathtaking. Orchha is world-renowned for it's classic mural paintings and frescos. The world renowned temple, Chaturbhuj Temple was built by Queen of Orchha, Ganeshi Bai. Another famous temple Raj Mandir was built by Madhukar Shah during his reign between 1554 and 1591. Dauji ki Haveli, Chhatris and Lakshmi temple are few other places that cannot be missed by any tourist travelling here.
The Bhimbetka rock shelters are an archaeological site, exhibiting the earliest traces of human life on the Indian subcontinent, and thus the beginning of the South Asian Stone Age. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003.
Bhimbetka is home to more than 500 rock shelters and caves which have a large number of paintings. The oldest paintings are considered to be 30,000 years old, but some of the geometric figures date to as recently as the medieval period. The colors used are vegetable colors which have endured through time because the drawings were generally made deep inside a niche or on inner walls. It a great place to visit for almost all age group people.
The historic Meenakshi Amman temple is located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River, Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Built sometime between the year 1623 and 1655, the wonderful architecture of the place is renowned globally. Meenakshi Temple is primarily dedicated to Parvati, known as Meenakshi, and her spouse, Shiva. What makes this temple different from the others is the fact that both God and Goddess are worshipped together.
According to the mythology, Lord Shiva visited Madurai to marry Parvati and it has been the sacred abode of Goddess Parvati since her birth. Meenakshi temple was hence built here to commemorate the same and to pay respects to the Goddess. The most striking feature of the temple is its exquisite facade, which has highly minute details with great art pieces incorporated in the walls and pillars. Meenakshi Amman temple complex is made in accordance to the Shilpa Shastra and has 14 gateway towers or 'gopurams', golden 'vimanas', holy sanctums and shrines dedicated to the revered Goddess Meenakshi and many others. It is a major tourist attraction, with thousands of devotees visiting the shrine on a daily basis.
Formerly known as Dwarasamudra, Halebid (or Halebidu) is located in the Hassan district of Karnataka state. Halebid is q city with a glorious past adorned with a strikingly beautiful collection of temples, shrines and sculptures. It is also known as the Gem of Indian architecture owing to its sterling Hoysala architecture, its magnificent temple complexes and some stunning Jain sites. Once the regal capital of Hoysala empire, the city is in ruins now. But it still attracts tourists in droves, thanks to its rich heritage, striking art and architecture.
A little stuck in history, Halebid can be a great showcase of culture, architecture and imprints of certain significant events of the past. The Hoysaleswara temple, Belur, Shantaleswara temple, Kedareswara temple give the area its historical and cultural importance, given the architectural beauty and make it a popular tourist spot. An archaeological museum here will take you for another ride through the past. A number of Jain temples and other significant structures ornament the place with a dash of spirituality. These structures here, derived from a magnificent past give Halebid much of its present and can offer the visitors a unique experience.
Being included in the elite list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites across the globe, this marvellous archaeological park set in the heart of the city of Champaner and amidst the Pavagadh hills is one of the most sought after places in Gujarat.
Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park holds a lot of historical as well as mythological significance in itself. The Park comprises of umpteen number of splendid architectural wonders consisting of both Hindu & Islamic styles of design. Another interesting piece of trivia regarding this place is that the hill of Pavagadh is believed to be a chunk of the Himalayas that was originally carried by Hanuman to Lanka in the Ramayana epic. With such rich history to its name, this makes up for a really intriguing place to visit
One of the most spiritual places in India, Golden Temple, also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib, is the holiest shrine in Sikhism and is alive with religious fervour and sacredness. It's divinity is a thing that can only be experienced and not described. Serving as a symbol of brotherhood and equality, Golden Temple is visited by people from all over the world who come here to seek spiritual solace and religious fulfilment. Although the Golden Temple itself is of great historical and architectural interest, it is the view of the resplendent shrine, glistening in the centre of the tank, bringing an infinite calmness that is most memorable to a visitor. After going through a tumultuous period of demolitions, it was rebuilt by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1830 purely with marble and gold. In spite of the thousands of people milling about in the premises of the temple, the only voice you will hear around you is silence interspersed with chants of the Sikh prayers.
Located in the beautiful city of Amritsar, Golden Temple is just a small part of the vast complex known as Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib to the Sikhs. The spiritual focus is the tank, the Amrit Sarovar, which surrounds the glistening central shrine. Amritsar takes its name from this Amrit Sarovar which was excavated in 1577 by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das. The Hari Mandir (central temple) is connected to the pathway by a marble causeway which is known as Guru's Bridge. This path symbolises the journey of the soul after death. Embraced by marble stairways, this tank is believed to have healing powers that can cure many diseases. The pilgrims gather at this place of mesmerising beauty and sublime peacefulness to listen to hymns and pay obeisance to the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy scripture) which is read here.
The golden structure is a sight of beauty and awe, and despite the regular mantra recital; this place is incredibly intriguing and very peaceful. Around the edge of the compound, there are more shrines and monuments. The Sikh Museum is located inside the main entrance clock tower which shows the oppression endured by the Sikhs at the hands of the Mughals, the British and the Indian Government of 1984. The Ramgarhia Bunga is a protective fortress located at the southeast end of the tank. This fort is surrounded by two Islamic-style minarets. Golden Temple is indisputably one of the most exquisite attractions in the world.
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