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INDIA - MAJOR CITIES & PLACES OF INTEREST

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Given below is a selective list of towns, cities and a few places of Interst for tourists interested in Exploring the best of India. The information has been gathered from various sources and credits are mentioned at the end of the page. Click on the words below for obtaining further information. If you have a specific query or requirement, feel free to mail me at harshahuja@ahujabusinessservices.com

STATES/CITIES - INDIA

 

Andhra Pradesh - Hyderabad
Arunachal Pradesh
Assam - Guwahati
Bihar - Patna
Chhattisgarh
Goa
Gujarat
Haryana
Himachal Pradesh - Shimla
Jammu & Kashmir - Srinagar
Jharkhand
Karnataka
Kerala
Madhya Pradesh
- Maharashtra - Mumbai
Manipur
Meghalaya
Mizoram
Nagaland
Odissa
Punjab
Rajasthan - Jaipur
Sikkim - Gangtok
Tamil Nadu
Tripura
Uttar Pradesh
Uttarakhand
West Bengal
Lucknow
Agra
Bangalore
Kolkotta
mysore
mathura
jaipur
nainital
jaiselmer
udaipur
allahabad
madurai
haridwar
mountabu
telangana
PLACES OF INTEREST
Kaziranga
ladakh
rishikesh
Bodhgaya
champaner
Bandhavgarh National Park
Sunderbans
Maha Bodhi Temple
hampi
elephantacaves
pattadakkal
alappuzha
munnar
periyar
kerala backwaters
shirdi
kanha national park
ajanta caves
bhimbetka
sanchi stupa
palace on wheels
konark
vrindavan
ellora
goldentemple
thar desert
puri
pushkar
sariska
shimla
bharatpur
ranthambore
fatehpur sikri
mahabalipuram
kodaikanal
ooty
agra red fort
varanasi
tirupati
badrinath
auli
corbett
darjeeling
INDIA - UNION TERRITORIES
Andaman and Nicobar Islands - Port Blair

Chandigarh

Dadar & Nagar Haveli
Daman & Diu
Lakshwadeep
National Capital Territory of Delhi
Puducherry ( Pondicherry )
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UTTAR PRADESH - AGRA

 
Location: 58-km From Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
Founded By: Badal Singh
Established In: 1475
Main Attractions: Taj Mahal, Agra Fort

Uttar Pradesh
Situated in the northern part of India, border with the capital of India New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh is the most popular tourist destination in India. Uttar Pradesh is important with its wealth of historical monuments and religious fervour. Geographically, Uttar Pradesh is very diverse, with Himalayan foothills in the extreme north and the Gangetic Plain in the centre. It is also home of India's most visited site, the Taj Mahal, and Hinduism's holiest city, Varanasi. The most populous state of the Indian Union also has a rich cultural heritage. Kathak one of the eight forms of Indian classical dances, originated from Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh is at the heart of India, so popular with another name The Heartland of India. Cuisine of Uttar Pradesh like Awadhi cuisine, Mughlai cuisine, Kumauni cuisine are very famous in entire India and abroad.

Uttar Pradesh has much to offer. Places of interest in include:
Varanasi-The origin of Hinduism and world's one of the oldest cities. Also known as City of temples it is Most popular holy place of lord Shiva devotees. Some of the finest Textiles are produced here.

A view of the Ghat of Varanasi from the River Ganges. Agra – Taj Mahal and several others historical monuments and gardens
Allahabad or Prayag -Kumbh Mela-The place where Indian national river Ganges and Yamuna and Saraswati rivers meet. A mass Hindu pilgrimage in which Hindus gather at the Ganges river. Akbar forts. One of the most popular religious centres of ancient and modern India for Hinduism. Uttar Pradesh's administrative and education capital.

Kumbh Mela at Allahabad Bithoor-This is the historical capital of Uttar Pradesh from where the Hindu god Brahma created the universe. It is situated about 10 km from Kanpur.

Main Ghat of Bithoor Kanpur – Uttar Pradesh's important Industrial town and largest city of the state. It is the most cosmopolitan city of the state. Has several historical places like-Bithoor and Allen Forest Zoo. It is the second largest metropolitan city of North India with various Historical and British Architectural buildings. The Kanpur Memoria Church or All Souls Memorial Church of Gothic architecture was built by Walter Granville on memory of those who died in Siege of Cawnpore.
Lucknow-The capital of Uttar Pradesh. Most planned city of Uttar Pradesh. It has Several historical places Mughal, British and modern architecture. The cuisine and chikan dresses of Lucknow is famous worldwide.
Mathura-The birthplace of Lord Krishna of Hinduism and Neminath of Jainism
Ayodhya-The birthplace of Lord Rama of Hinduism
Jhansi-Historical place. City was centr of Rani Lakshmibai's battlefield against British
Sarnath-Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage which his devout followers should visit. The birthplace of Shreyansanath, the eleventh Jain Tirthankar of the Jainism.
Kushinagar- It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained Parinirvana after his death
Chunar-It's the centre of clay art. Chunar has a 6th-century fort constructed by Chandragupta Vikramaditya. The fort itself had through rulers like Humayun, Sher Shah Suri and was gateway of Mauryan empire. It has beautiful waterfalls and natural spots.
Fatehpur Sikri-Historical place for Mughal Empire's palaces and forts
Meerut-The historical place of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 or the First War of Indian Independence. Indian Historical place from Mahabharata period of ancient India to Modern India's one of the fastest growing city of Uttar Pradesh.
Mirzapur Division-The hub of world's finest carpet Industries, and very popular tourist destination for its natural beauties and one of the fastest growing region of Uttar Pradesh. It consists of vindhyachal shaktipeeth.
Ghaziabad: Historical places from ancient India to modern India and India's fastest growing Industrial city. See Buddh International Circuit
Noida and Greater Noida: IT, electronics and education hub of Northern India. India's biggest city with a planned and high-tech residential area.
Gorakhpur: The city was home to Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jain and Sikh saints. The birthplace of Paramhansa Yogananda, great Hindu emperor Chandragupta Maurya.
Jaunpur:Historical city was founded by the Sultan of Delhi Feroz Shah Tughlaq and named in memory of his father, Muhammad bin Tughluq as Jaunpur Sultanate. Mughals, Lodis and Islamic ruler's Forts and ancient history of India.
Dudhwa National Park – Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Birds Sanctuary, Frog Temple at Oyal, Surat Bhawan Palace, Elephant Rides
Rehar:Several major tourist attractions can be mentioned in the town’s surroundings, like Jim Corbett National Park about 24 km, Nainital about 69 km

Uttar Pradesh is the historical heart land of India. Where each part of the state is attached with ancient history, civilization, religions and culture.

Must Sees of Kanpur
Central Museum ·Jajmau ·Moti Jheel ·IIT Kanpur ·Phool Bagh ·Bithoor ·Kanpur Memorial Church ·Green Park Stadium ·Allen Forest Zoo ·Nanarao Park ·ISKON Temple · Gora Cemetery ·Kanpur University ·Kanpur Zoo · Christ Church · J K Temple · Glass Temple ·Z Square Mall ·Bhitargaon Temple · Gandhi Hall · Civil Lines Central Church ·Kanpur Central ·Ganga Barrage ·Massacre Ghat.

There are very few cities in the world that can match the history and heritage of Agra - the city of Taj Mahal. Located at a distance of 204 km south of Delhi, Agra is the single most famous tourist destination of India. Situated on the west bank of River Yamuna, Agra is a part of the great Norther Indian plains. The architectural splendor of the city is reflected in the glorious monuments of medieval India built by great Mughals who ruled India for more than 300 years.

In the mid 16th century and earlier 17th century Agra witnessed a frenzied building activity and it was during this time when the symbol of love Taj Mahal was built. The buildings made during this era were purely in the contemporary Mughal style and of very high quality which is still reflected in what ever monuments remain in Agra.

HISTORY OF AGRA
Agra, the city of Taj was established in 1475 by Badal Singh. Agra finds mention in the Mahabharata as Agraban. Agra city in those days was considered to be the sister city of Mathura which was more prominent than Agraban. Agra came into its own when the Lodhi Kings chose this place beside the Yamuna to be their capital city. Sikander Lodhi made Agra his capital but Babar defeated the Lodhis to capture not only Agra but also laid the foundation of the Mughal empire.

The coming of Babar heralded a new era which was to see Agra at its zenith during the reign of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. It was during Akbar's period that Agra became the center of art, culture and commerce and learning. This trend reached its height when Shah Jahan became the ruler.

In the mid 16th century and earlier 17th century Agra witnessed a frenzied building activity and it was during this time when the symbol of love Taj Mahal was built. The buildings made during this era were purely in the contemporary Mughal style and of very high quality which is still reflected in what ever monuments remain in Agra.The narrow lanes of Agra filled with aroma of Mughlai cuisine, the craftsman who are busy in crating master pieces with their skill all remind of the Mughal royalty which this city had once experienced. Today whatever remains, has become a major tourist attraction which has taken Agra again to the heights of glory but this time as a major tourist destination of India.

THE CITY OF THE TAJ
Agra - The city known for the famous monument of love - the Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal was constructed by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jehan. It is said he built this monument in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is ethereal at any part of the day - blushing in the rosy glow of dawn or sunset , appearing like a pearly mirage in the moonlight or reflected in the pools of the garden . Perhaps the most moving view of the Taj is from an octagonal tower in the Agra Fort further along the river Yamuna .

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ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS

 
Location : Bay Of Bengal
Capital : Port Blair
Main Attractions : Water Sports, Marine Life
Best Time To Visit : October To May

The Emerald Islands - Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Floating in splendid isolation, east of the Indian mainland is the archipelago of 572 emerald islands, islets and rocks known as Andaman & Nicobar Islands. This union territory stretches over a length of more than 700-kms. From north to south with 36 inhabited islands. Once a hill range extending from Burma to Indonesia, these undulating islands are covered with dense forests and endless variety of exotic flora and fauna.

The topography of the islands is hilly and abounds in evergreen forests. The sandy beaches on the edge of meandering coastline are fringed with coconut palms that sway to the rhythm of the sea. The sea around the islands offers excellent scope for adventure water sports. The rare flora and fauna, underwater marine life and corals, crystal clear water and mangrove lined creeks, offer a dream view of the rare gifts of nature.

The clean roads as well as unpolluted fresh air attract any nature lover, who seeks absolute peace and tranquility in the lap of Mother Nature. Adventure tourism like trekking, island camping, snorkeling, scuba diving, etc., are the major attractions here. A visit to these islands is a memorable lifetime experience.

The History
Mythologically, the name Andaman is presumed to be derived from Hanuman, the Monkey God, who was known to the Malays as "Handuman". Since pre-historic times, these islands were the home of aboriginal tribes. The tribes of the Andaman group of islands are the great Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas and Sentinalese; all of Negrito origin, while the tribes of Nicobars, the Nicobarese and Shompens, both of Mongoloid stock.

The first settlement by the British took place in 1789, which was later abandoned in 1796. The second settlement was basically a penal settlement, taken up in 1858, after the first war of independence, followed by the settlement of convicts, "Moplas", some tribes from central and united provinces, refugees from erstwhile east Pakistan, Burma and Sri Lanka as well as ex servicemen.

People & Culture
In these islands people of all faiths Hindus, Muslim, Christians, Sikhs etc., and of all languages like Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telegu, Punjabi, Nicobari etc., live together in complete peace and harmony. Inter religion and inter regional marriages are common. This amazing racial and cultural mix is aptly described as 'mini-India'.

The Green Paradise
Forests are the green gold of the islands. The reserved and protected forests extend over 86% area of the territory and the forest cover is more than 92%. About 50% of the forests have been set aside as tribal reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, which are inviolate. Luxuriant mangroves, perhaps the richest in the world, occupy nearly 11.5% of the territory. More than 150 plant and animal species are endemic to these islands. The Andaman Nicobar Islands hold over 110 species of wild orchids, which is about 10% of the known Indian orchids.

Marine Life
The surrounding seas are equally rich in marine bio-diversity. They harbour more than 1,200 species of fish, 350 species of echinoderms, 1,000 species of Molluscs and many more other forms of life. Among Vertebrates dugong, dolphin and whale are common. Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is rich in Corals, varieties of colourful Fishes, Sea Turtles, etc., besides other marine life.

Andaman is also a bird's paradise. More than 246 varieties of birds inhabit the idyllic landscape, out of which 39 are endemic. Birds Megapode, Seiftlet, Hornbill and Nicobar Pigeon are mention worthy. The Avi faunal diversity has always attracted ornithologists and bird watchers to these islands.

Sandy beaches of these islands are famous for turtles nesting. Important species of turtles that are present on these islands include Leather Back Turtle, Green Sea Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Olive Ridley Turtle. Water Monitor Lizard, Salt-Water Crocodiles, Reticulate Python etc. are also seen here.

Corals and coral reefs are the most fascinating part of marine ecosystem here. So far 179 species of corals belonging to 61 genera have been reported. Reefs are mostly of the fringing type on the western coast. Coral reefs are important breeding and nursery ground for fish and many other organisms.

A New Haven For The Tourists
Andaman and Nicobar islands have recently been recognized as a world-class Eco-friendly tourist destination and these islands have something very special to offer to the tourists. Cellular Jail, Ross Island and Viper Island create real interest in those, who love Indian history. The Andaman tropical rainforests, beautiful silver sandy beaches, serpentine mangrove-lined creeks, marine life abounding in rare species of plants, animals, corals, etc., provide a splendid experience to the tourists.

The environment lover finds absolute ease and tranquility in the lap of Mother Nature. There is tremendous scope for enjoying the green nature, the virgin beaches, the marvels of underwater, adventure water sports ad other activities like Elephant Safari, Trekking, Lagoon Cruise, Island Camping etc.

Andaman is a popular destination for Scuba Dive Tourists, Cruise Liners and Sailing Yachts. The administration has formulated guidelines/procedures for operating Scuba Dive Centers and Yachts.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands has become the centre of worldwide attention thanks to the first sunrise of the millennium at Katchal, an island in the Nicobar group. Now these islands are emerging as one of the most sought after Eco-friendly tourist destinations of the 21st Century.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area: Andamans District: 6,408-sq-kms
Nicobars District: 1,841-sq-kms
Total Area: 8,249-sq-kms
Distance: 1,255-kms From Calcutta (Kolkata)
1,190-kms From Chennai
1,200-kms From Vishakhapatnam
Languages Spoken: English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil.
Altitude: Varies from sea Level to 732m
Climate: Tropical - Between 23°C (75-85 F) To 28°C (78-95 F)

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Assam

Main article: Tourism in Assam

An Indian Rhinoceros grazing at the Kaziranga National Park.
Assam is the central state in the North-East Region of India and serves as the gateway to the rest of the Seven Sister States. Assam boasts of famous wildlife preserves – the Kaziranga National Park, which is home to the Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros, the Manas National Park, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, Nameri National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary (These first two parks are UNESCO World Heritage Site); the largest river island Majuli, known for its Vaishnavite Sattras; historic Sivasagar, famous for the ancient monuments of Ahom Kingdom; the city of eternal romance, Tezpur and the scenic tea-estates dating back to time of British Raj. The weather is mostly sub-tropical. Assam experiences the Indian monsoon and has one of the highest forest densities in India. The winter months (October end half to first half of April) are the best time to visit. The heritage of Madan Kamdev is same as Khajuraho which is located just 30 km away from Guwahati. Along with the Madan Kamdev tourist can visit very ancient temple Gopeswar Mandir situated in a village Deuduar near to Guwahati.

Assam has a rich cultural heritage going back to the Ahom Kingdom, which governed the region for many centuries before the British occupation. Other notable features include the Brahmaputra River, the mystery of the bird suicides in Jatinga, numerous temples including Kamakhya Temple of Tantric sect. 'Gurdwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur also known as Damdama Sahib at Dhubri '- This famous Gurudwara is situated in the heart of the Dhubri Town on the bank of the mighty Brahmaputra river in far north-east India. Guru Teg Bahadur the holy Sikh Guru visited this place in 1505 and met Srimanta Sankardeva (the founder of the Mahapuruxiya Dharma) as the Guru travelled from Dhaka to Assam, ruins of palaces, etc. Guwahati, the capital city of Assam, boasts many bazaars, temples, and wildlife sanctuaries.

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KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK

 
Location : 217-km East Of Guwahati, Assam
Main Attractions : Elephant Safari & One-Horned Rhino
Best Time To Visit : Mid-November To Early Aprile year

Most of Assam's magnificent wildlife reserves are in the Brahmaputra valley, where the large tracts of grasslands on the flood plains are home to the Indian one-horned Rhino and other beasts. On such terrain, as opposed to the thick jungle cover of most other Indian Parks, sightings of animals are all but assured.

The Great Rhinoland

Kaziranga, the greatest park of all, is renowned for its elephant grass and Rhino, but also incorporates some forest areas. Covering an area of 430-sq-kms on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra, Kaziranga National Park, 217-km east of Guwahati, occupies the vast valley floor against a backdrop of the forest-covered Karbi Anglong hills.

Flora And Fauna

Rivulets and Bhils, and the semi-evergreen forested "Highlands", just out of reach of the Brahmaputra's annual floods, blend into marshes and flood plains covered with tall elephant grass. Animal sightings are guaranteed, with Rhinos, Deer and herds of Wild Buffalo grazing close to the park entrance not far from the Administrative Centre of Kohora.

The rich bird life includes Egrets, Herons, Storks, Fish-Eating Eagles and a Grey Pelican colony settled among the red cotton trees. Few tracks penetrate this sea of grass, however, and the Wild Elephants seldom venture into it, preferring to remain in the forested Highlands, while Tigers are incredibly elusive.

With the grasslands bordering onto cultivated fields and domestic cattle encroaching upon the sanctuary and introducing epidemics, the wild animals are under increasing threat. Poaching is rife, with rhino horns fetching astronomical prices as aphrodisiacs.

Kaziranga's One-Horned Rhino

With a population of over a thousand, the one-horned Rhino's are the largest concentration in the subcontinent and are best seen from the back of an elephant, early on a winter's morning. These Elephant rides last around one hour, and should be booked the previous evening at the park offices in Kohora.

Although the elephants do not penetrate far into the sanctuary, merely travelling in a three or four kilometre circle, it is incredible how much wildlife can be seen in this small area; the dawn ride is the best - if one can get up that early. The rhinos seem oblivious to camera-clicking tourists, although like the unpredictable wild buffalo, they are equipped with lethal horns and potentially ferocious. Although jeeps penetrate deeper into the forest than elephants, they cannot get nearly as close to the wild animals.

Visiting Time

Kaziranga is open from mid-November to early April only. During the monsoons, the Brahmaputra bursts its banks, flooding the low-lying grasslands and causing animals to migrate from one area to another within the park. Deer and even Leopard often cross the main road, heading for the hills until the water recedes.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS

One can stroll through the lush coffee and rubber plantations of the nearby Karbi Anglong. One can also visit the Karbi villages, meet the Karbi people and observe their life style. Or romp through the enchanting tea gardens and watch how one gets one's daily cup of tea. Film shows on wildlife can be arranged at the tourist lodge, on request.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: The nearest airport is situated at Guwahati, which is 217-km away from the park. The other airport is Jorhat, 97-km from here.

Rail: The nearest railhead is Furkating, situated 75-km away from the park.

Road: The main gate for Kaziranga, at Kohora on the NH37, consists of a handful of cafes and a small local market. ASTC and private buses stop here on their way to and from Guwahati, Tezpur and Upper Assam; some private buses retain a seat quota for Kaziranga passengers.

WHERE TO STAY

The Directorate of Tourism is hidden a few hundred metres off the road to the north, in the Bonani Lodge. All visitors have to sign in here, before making for the park headquarters alongside, where one can book elephant and jeep rides, and rooms in the nearby lodges. There is wide range of accommodation facility at the park, which vary from rest houses, dormitory and lodges maintained by the forest department and the ITDC. The forest department has two rest houses and one dormitory. ITDC has three lodges, one dormitory and two cottages. The Wild Grass is a private resort, which offers good alternative accommodation.

FOR MORE TOURIST INFORMATION

Assam Tourism Office Tours: The most convenient way to visit Kaziranga is on one of the Assam tourism office tours, which leave from their office in Guwahati. The package includes overnight accommodation in the Bonoshree Lodge, meals, an elephant ride and transport back to Guwahati.

For Conducted Tours:
Tourist Information Officer,
Station Road,
Guwahati,
Assam - 781001

Director, Kaziranga National Park,
P.O Bokakhat,
District. Jorhat,
Assam (India) - 785612


Reservation Authority:
Joint Director of Tourism, Kaziranga,
P.O Kaziranga National Park,
District Jorhat, Assam - 785612


Note:

Visiting Kaziranga independently can be expensive due to the two-tier price system, with different entry costs for Indian nationals and foreigners. There are separate charges for elephant safari and jeep rides from the lodges to the park entrance, as well as a system of variable camera fees.

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KARNATAKA - Bangalore - The City Of Baked Beans

 
Location of Bangalore: Karnataka.
Significance: Capital Of Karnataka.
Bangalore was Founded by: Kempe Gowda.
Languages Spoken in Bangalore: Hindi, Kannada, Telgu, Tamil, English.

Karnataka has been ranked as fifth most popular destination for tourism among states of India. It has the highest number of national protected monuments in India, at 507.

Kannada dynasties like Kadambas, eastern Gangas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagaras and the Kingdom of Mysore ruled from what is today Karnataka. They built great monuments to Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. These monuments are preserved at Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal, Mahakuta, Hampi, Lakshmeshwar, Sudi, Hooli, Mahadeva Temple (Itagi), Dambal, Lakkundi, Gadag, Hangal, Halasi, Galaganatha, Chaudayyadanapura, Banavasi, Belur, Halebidu, Sringeri, Shravanabelagola, Sannati, Nanjangud, Mysore, Nandi Hills, Kolar, Mudabidri, Gokarna, Bagali, Kuruvatti and many more. Notable Islamic monuments are present at Bijapur, Bidar, Gulbarga, Raichur and other part of the state. Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur, has the second largest pre-modern dome in the world after the Byzantine Hagia Sophia. Karnataka has two World heritage sites, at Hampi and Pattadakal. Bellary one of the historical place to see and charist, we can see the forts which were built by the great Tippu Sulthan for protection.

Karnataka is famous for its waterfalls. Jog falls of Shimoga District is one of the highest waterfalls in Asia. This state has 21 wildlife sanctuaries and five National parks and is home to more than 500 species of birds. Karnataka has many beaches at Karwar, Gokarna, Murdeshwara, Surathkal. Karnataka is a rock climbers paradise. Yana in Uttara Kannada, Fort in Chitradurga, Ramnagara near Bengaluru district, Shivagange in Tumkur district and tekal in Kolar district are a rock climbers heaven.Utsav Rock Garden in Shiggaon, Uttar Kannada.The capital city of Karnataka, Bangalore, the fifth largest city in India, is the perfect blend of natural beauty and man-made marvels of architecture and technology. Blessed with a salubrious climate and dotted with beautiful parks, its tree-lined avenues, its trendy, yuppie downtown, and the software flood, Bangalore truly offers one a picture of striking contrasts.

Bangalore -- located 1,000m above sea level is one of the most 'happening' places in India. Bangalore, which literally means the 'town of baked beans', was founded by Kempe Gowda, a chieftain of the Vijayanagar Empire, around the 16th century. He built four towers in four directions to specify its boundaries. However, Bangalore has far exceeded these limits since.

Bangalore is fast emerging as one of the most industrialized cities in India, keeping pace with the latest trends and fashion. Bangalore is renowned, not only for its own beauty and technological advances, but also for its easy access to the marvels of the land around it. These intriguing sites of Bangalore include gardens, universities, temples and ancient ruins. The city of Bangalore also is a gateway to Southern India. Bangalore is well connected to other major cities. Today it has almost become the fastest growing city in Asia. The bazaars and shopping malls of Bangalore offer a fine selection of silks, sandal wood souvenirs, handicrafts and fragrant incense sticks. Communication is very simple in this city where people can converse in English, Kannada and Hindi with equal ease.

Origin of Name - Bangalore
Bangalore was first known as 'Benguluru'. The earliest reference to the name Benguluru was found in a 9th century Ganga inscription on herostone. This inscription was found in Begur and Benguluru is referred to as a place in which a battle was fought. Most scholars believe that the name has a floral origin and is derived from the tree 'Benga', also known as the Indian Kino.

According to one of the stories associated with it, in the year 1120 AD, the Chola King, Veera Ballalla ruled the Deccan plateau or the South of India. On a hunting trip to the forest, he lost his way. Famished and exasperated, after a long search, he met an old lady in the forest who offered him shelter for the night and served him baked beans for dinner. To show his gratitude to this lady for having helped him out, the King constructed a town and named it as 'Benda Kalooru', which means 'Baked Beans'.

The place that was referred to as 'Benguluru' in the Ganga inscription was originally a hamlet and is found even today in a place called Kodigehalli, which is not too far away from Hebbal. Today however, this hamlet is called 'Halebenguluru' or 'Old Bangalore'.

It is believed that when Kempe Gowda I built the new capital in 1537 AD, he used a more anglicised version of the name Benguluru and called the town Bangalore. Kempegowda- I's mother and wife both belonged to the township that is known as Halebenguluru today.

Best Time To Travel Banglore
Bangalore has a pleasant climate. The greenery of the city is an added attraction along with the climate. The numerous gardens and parks, streets lined with trees are very soothing in what would have been a jungle of concrete. Bangalore is called the air-conditioned city in India as the city has dry tropical savannah type of climate with warm summers, cold winters and very frequent rains. But no weather goes to its extreme.
One can visit the city any time of the year and enjoy the salubrious climate but it is advisable to avoid the rainy season between July and September

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BIHAR - BODH GAYA (Bodhgaya)

 
Location : Bihar
Attractions : Bodhi Tree, Bodhi Sarovar.
Famous As : The Land Of Enlightenment Of Buddha.
Best Season : Between February And April.

Bihar

Bihar is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world with history of 3000 years. The rich culture and heritage of Bihar is evident from the innumerable ancient monuments that are dotted all over this state in eastern India. This is the place of Aryabhata, Great Ashoka, Chanakya and many other great historical figures.

Attractions:
Patna – The capital of Bihar, famous for its rich history and royal architecture
Gaya – Known for Bodh Gaya the place at which Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment
Muzaffarpur – Famous for its education
Kesariya – Location of the world's largest Buddhist Stupa
Nalanda – Location of one of the world's oldest university
Sasaram – Tomb of Sher Shah Suri, the great Emperor of medieval India
Sonepur Cattle Fair – The Sonepur cattle fair or Sonepur Mela, it is the biggest cattle fair of Asia and stretches on from fifteen days to one month
Takht Sri Patna Sahib – One of the famous Sikh pilgrimage known for the birthplace of Sikh's Tenth Guru Sri Guru Gobind Singh Sahib
Darbhanga – It is among the oldest cities of Bihar. Famous for the Maharaja forts and Kali Mandir.
Munger – Home to the only Yoga University in the world, Bihar School of Yoga. Religious places such as Shakti Peethas.
Deoghar- One of the famous Hindu pilgrimage known for the Satsang Ashram of Sri Sri Thakur Anukul Chandra situated at Satsang Nagar
Vaishali- Lord Mahavir was born on the outskirts of this ancient city, and lived in Vaishali till he was 22

Bihar is one of the most sacred places of various religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism & Islam. Famous Attraction includes Mahabodhi Temple, a Buddhist shrine and UNESCO World Heritage Site is also situated in Bihar, Barabar Caves the oldest rockcut caves in India, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Library the oldest library of India.

THE LAND OF ENLIGHTMENT
Holding extreme religious importance to the Buddhists, Bodhgaya lies13 km south of Gaya, beside the river Phalgu. It was here, that the Lord Buddha sat under the Banyan tree and attained enlightenment, and a descendant of that original tree still flourishes there today. Bodhgaya is small and quiet town, which is the most important of all the Buddhist sites in the world.

The Maha Bodhi temple of Bodh Gaya is one of the important places of worship for the Buddhists. Apart from being a vital Buddhist centre, it is also a significant archaeological site. Devout Buddhists and tourists from all over the world visit Bodhgaya, to study Buddhism and the art of meditation, or to simply absorb the aura of solemn splendour that surrounds the place.

Brief history:
Marking the holy spot of the enlightenment of the Master, this site is looked upon with greatest sanctity and became a flourishing Buddhist establishment with numerous temples, stupas and monasteries.

According to tradition a large number of shrines and memorials were erected at the site to commemorate the incidents before after enlightenment but only few now can be recognised. Of the earliest shrines, traditionally attributed to Asoka, only vajrasana or the sandstone throne with the characteristic Mauryan polish and decorative designs has survived and is seen beneath the holy Bodhi tree.

To the Sunga period belongs a portion of the sandstone railing carved with bas-reliefs, typical of the age. The remaining portion of the railing pertains to the Gupta period. The main brick-built shrine known as the Mahabodhi temple which appears to have been originally erected in circa 2nd century A.D., is encumbered with the heavy renovations, the four corner-towers being an arbitrary addition of circa 14th century. Its central tower, standing on a high plinth, is about 55m high and is a straight-edged pyramid of seven storeys, relieved by pilasters and chaitya-niches, substantially agreeing with its description left by the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang. The remaining shrines and stupas mostly belong to the Pala period (9th to 12th century).

PRIME SITES IN BODH GAYA
Bodhi Tree:
Towards the West of the Maha Bodhi temple, is the tree where Gautam Buddha did his meditation and attained enlightenment.

Bodhi Sarovar:
Before going in for meditation, Buddha took bath in this pond. This pond is situated towards the west of Bodhi temple. The pond is situated in a very attractive place and is worth visiting.

Chankamana:
Towards North of the Bodhi Temple, is a platform with foot impressions of Buddha. Apart from these ponds and platforms, there are many temples built by the people of various nations like the Tibet temple, the Japanese, the Thai, the Lankan and the Bhutan temple. These temples are also a major attraction for the tourists and devotees, who visit Bodh Gaya.

EXCURSION FROM BODHGAYA
Barabar Caves:
57 Kms from Gaya are some earliest carved out Buddhist caves. The interior of these caves is chiselled to a wonderful polish. The carvings in the caves reflect the skill with which these caves are carved out. These caves were built some where in the 3rd century and are fine examples of the skill, which the Indian mason had attained at that time. These caves are believed to be of Mauryan period and considered to be the origin of Indian cave architecture.

Deo :
20 kms from Gaya is located the Sun temple of Deo. In fact, this place is famous for the 'Chhat' festival, which is held in the month of October-November.

Dungeswari :
The place is famous for the caves where Buddha had meditated for some time. It was in these caves that he concluded that the ultimate knowledge can not be attained through mortification of the flesh. These caves are 12 kms from the main town of Bodh Gaya.

Rajgir:
Just 15 kms from Nalanda is located the complex of temples and monasteries. The place is called Rajgir. It is one of the most important tourist places in India. Being located in a valley, Rajgir is a very scenic place.

TRAVEL INFORMATION ON BODHGAYA
HOW TO GET THERE
Air:
There is no Airport and hence no direct air connection.

Rail:
The Railways Department has provided Gaya, the neighbouring city, with a number of trains which connect the city with all the parts of India. The Rajdhani and Kalka Mail have their stoppages here. Gaya is a junction and one can change trains for the other train routes.

Road:
Bodh Gaya is on the Grand Trunk Road and thus, is well connected by road, with all the parts of the country.

Local Transport:
Taxis and buses.

WHERE TO STAY IN BODH GAYA
Buddha International, Tel. # 0631-400506.
Buddha Vihar, Bihar Tourist Complex, Tel. # 0631-400445.
ITDC Bodhgaya Ashok, Tel. # 0631-400700.
There are a number of monasteries offering accommodation.

SHOPPING IN BODH GAYA
Apart from sweets, one can buy some handicraft items and decorative pieces made out of stone. Though sea is very far from this place, do not be surprised if you find items made from sea shells. Behind the Bodhi Mandir in Bodh Gaya is a huge market for foreign goods. But before buying any thing here, make sure that you are buying the original and not a forged item. There are no such markets in Gaya, which can be suggested for shopping.

OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION
Tourist Reception Centre: Bodh Gaya, Bihar.

Distance of near by cities: Patna: 116 kms; Bihar Sharif : 91 kms; Bihar Sharif : 91 kms; Ranchi : 341 kms; Nalanda: 77 kms; Calcutta: 495 kms.

International Center for Meditation: 5 kms from Bodh Gaya, near the Magadh University.


GENERAL INFORMATION
Population: Approx. 27000.
Climate: Extreme type of climate, with very hot summer and cold winter.

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BIHAR - MAHA BODHI TEMPLE

 
Location : Bihar
Built in : 3rd Century B.C.
Built by : Emperor Ashoka
Best Season : Between February And April.

The architecture of this temple is unparalleled in North India. It is believed that in the 3rd century B.C emperor Ashoka built this temple. The canopy structure of this temple is very different and attractive from temples usually found in North India. To maintain the balance of the main tower there are four smaller towers.

The king of Lanka, Meghvarn had constructed a monastery towards the North of the Bodhi tree. This construction was done during the period of Samudragupta. In the 12th century the fierce attack of the Muslim invaders had destroyed the temple completely.

In 1876 the ruler of Burma in agreement with the British government of India had rebuilt the temple on the remains of the older structure. The Mahabodhi temple has a huge Idol of Buddha in the 'bhumisparsa mudra'. The temple is surrounded by a small pillars and delicate lattice work. These are a major attraction for the tourist who visit the place
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TAMIL NADU

 
Capital of Tamilnadu : Chennai
Cradle Of : South Indian Temple Architecture
Official State Language : Tamil

Tamil Nadu – Home to Intriguing Temple Towns and Natural Bounty


The immensely admirable temple architecture of South India flourished at Tamil Nadu, leaving behind a fortune of classical temples that adorn most of the towns in the state. Today, Tamil Nadu offers the perfect amalgamation of rustic countryside and urban cities that arrange for diverse holiday ideas. Nature has always been kind to the state, blessing it with treasures of mesmerizing hill stations, sun-kissed beaches and unconstrained forest cover. The enchanting Tamil culture, showcasing amazing Carnatic music, classical dance forms and engrossing festive celebrations, is another prominent facet of the region. In short, a single and well-planned trip to Tamil Nadu can let you discover a truly fascinating world.

Tourist Attractions and Places to visit in Tamil Nadu



Chennai City of Tamil Nadu

  • Chennai : One of the top metropolitan cities of India and among the world’s cleanest cities, Chennai is well-known for its splendid coastal stretch. Marina Beach, Edward Elliot’s Beach and Breezy Beach are home to world-class beach resorts. Sharing equal spaces with churches, mosques and temples; the city acts as a melting pot of different religions and cultures.

Famous Temples

  • Meenakshi Temple at Madurai : Built in Dravidian architectural style, the temple is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi and is praised for its towering gopurams (temple towers). Hall of thousand pillars is among the top highlights of the temple located in Madurai, which is home to many other religious and historic sites.

  • Temple Towns of Tamil Nadu : Any trip to the state remains incomplete without visiting one of the many temple towns, the most popular ones being Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram (also known for its UNESCO Group of Monuments), Rameswaram, Srirangam, Chidambaram and Kanyakumari (the southernmost tip of India).

Famous Hillstations

  • Ooty and Kodaikanal : The stunning beauty of Western Ghats can be enjoyed at Kodaikanal, a captivating hill station in the state known for attractions like Berijam Lake, Kodai Lake, Bryant Park, Silver Cascade waterfall and many vintage points. Equally enthralling is the natural charm of another hill station called Ooty. Attractions include Ooty Botanical Gardens and Rose Garden, Wax Museum and enticing tea and coffee plantations.

Famous Wildlife National Parks and Sanctuaries

  • Wildlife Reserves : Mudumalai wildlife sanctuaries is home to vast cover of teak trees, along with wild species like dholes, tigers, leopards and elephants (elephant safari is a popular activity). Another popular wildlife reserve is Anamalai Sanctuary which accommodates wildanimals likelion-tailed macaque, bonnet and Nilgirilangur. Migratory birds can be spotted at coastal wetlands.

Tamil Nadu as a Shopping Paradise

  • Shopping in Tamil Nadu : The areas like Kanchipuram and Madurai are known for beautiful hand loomed silk sarees. Han-painted fabrics, brassware, bronzeware and copperware are other popular handicrafts at local markets. One can also purchase paintings,carved wooden showpieces and leather objects. Authentic spices and beverages are other noteworthy items.

Cultural Heritage - Famous Music and Dances in Tamil Nadu

  • Carnatic Music : Soothing classical music produced with the help of instruments like violin, mridangam, ghatam, veena, gottuvadayam and nadaswaram.

  • Classical Dances : Bharatanatyam is the world-famous dance form that can be enjoyed at a cultural venue in the state.

  • Festivals : Pongal (harvest time festival), Varushapirapu (Tamil New Year) and various temple festivals like Mahamagam, MeenakshiKalyanam and Natyanjali Dance Festival.

Tamil Nadu can be visited all around the year. The state is full of mysticism and relaxing activities that can completely revive your life.

How to Reach

By Air

Chennai Meenambakkam is the international airport. Flight ply between Tiruchirapalli, Colombo Sri Lanka. Madurai and Coimbatore are other major ariports. Taxis, city-airport bus shuttles and auto rickshaws are available outside the main terminus.

By Rail

Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Coimbatore are major rail station in Tamil Nadu. Well connected from all over India.

By Road

Kerala, Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh all these cities share border with Tamil Nadu and are very well connected via road. State-run buses and privately coaches are common transport tourist can get for Tamil Nadu.


Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation
25, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai
Mylapore, Chennai - 600004
do not mention telephone numbers and faxes.

Government Of India Tourist Office
154, Anna Salai, Chennai - 600 002
Time: 9.25 to 17.45 hrs.

India Tourism Development Corporation
29, Victoria Crescent C-in-C Rd, Chennai - 600 105 Time: 6.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m On Sundays till 2.00 p.m State Information Centre Kalaivanar Arangam, Chennai - 600 002 Time : 10.00 a.m. to 5.45 p.m Tamil Nadu Government Tourist Office Local Library Authority (LLA) Buildings
735, Anna Salai, Chennai - 600 002
Time :10.00 a.m. to 5.45 p.m.

Tourist Information Centres
Government of Tamil Nadu
Kamaraj Domestic Airport Terminal

Tourist Information Centre Government of Tamil Nadu
Anna International Airport Terminal

Tourist Information Centre
Central Railway Station (Gate No. 2)
Chennai - 600 003

Tourist Information Centre
Egmore Rly Station, Chennai - 600 008

TTDC (Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation) Sales Counter
4, EVR Periyar High Road
Park Town, Chennai - 600 003

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CHENNAI

 
Location of Chennai : Along The Coast Of Bay Of Bengal, Tamil Nadu
Chennai is Regarded As : The Gateway To The South
Chennai is Hub Of : South India's Film Industry
Formerly Called : Madras

Chennai - The Gateway To The South

Popularly regarded as "The Gateway to the South", Chennai is the fourth largest city in India and the capital of Tamil Nadu state. With a vast population of about six million people, Chennai is a city that is growing, expanding and changing vigorously.

It's Location
Chennai has the Bay of Bengal bordering its east, while the state of Andhra Pradesh is on its northwest. It has the Kanchipuram on its south and the states of Kerala and Karnataka on its western side.

The City Of Chennai
Chennai, previously called Madras, is comparatively a new city, about 350 years old. The erstwhile villages of Mylapore, Triplicane, Ezhambur (Egmore), etc., all now a part of Chennai, have a recorded historical past centuries older than Chennai.

Chennai is a gracious city that has a clear skyline, long sandy beaches, parks, historic landmarks and tourist infrastructural facilities which make it a convenient entry point or base to start a tour of Tamil Nadu and South India.

Music, dance and all other art forms of South India are cherished and nurtured in this city. Although the city has long been an important center of textile manufacturing, a great deal of industrial expansion has taken place in recent years.

History Of The Chennai City
Modern Chennai grew out of a small village when in 1639 a fishing hamlet called "Madraspatnam" was selected by early English merchants of the East India Company as a site for the settlement.

Chennai was the first British major settlement in India and it was here that many who went on to build the Empire first learnt their trade. As a consequence, the city is replete with much that is of significance in British Indian history. But the much older settlements have stories to tell too, and so the city is an amalgam of ancient and more modern history. Everywhere one goes in Chennai, one can find history written in every name.
The Growth Of Chennai
For more than 2000 years the area has been popular with seafarers, spice traders and cloth merchants. The 16th century saw the arrival of the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch. In 1693, the British East India Company established a settlement in the fishing village of Madraspatnam. For St. George was constructed over a period of 15 years and finally completed in 1653. George town grew in the area of the fort and was granted its first municipal charter in 1688 by James II, making it the oldest municipality in India. During the 18th and 19th centuries, French and British traders competed for supremacy in India. In the 19th century, the city became the seat of the Madras presidency, one of the four divisions of British imperial India. After independence, it continued to grow into what is now a significant southern gateway.

The Traditional And Modern Outlook Of Chennai
It presents a culture that is distinct from that of the northern part of India and is famous for its traditional yet modern outlook. Chennai is a city where the traditional and the modern blend in life everywhere. From traditional vegetarian fare to fast foods, from nine-yard saris to the latest in fashion, from ancient temple architecture to modern high-rise - with Indo-Saracenic and Victorian as stops along the way - from classical music and dance to discos throbbing to heady beats, Chennai has them all and many more vivid contrasts that are a pleasant surprise.

Centre Of South India's Film Industry
Chennai is the centre of South India's film industry; its skyline is ablaze with bright movie billboards advertising the latest celluloid fantasies. There are many big film studios.

Climate of Chennai
Being situated at the tropical zone, Chennai normally has a very hot and humid climate. The best time to visit this city is the winter season. Winter and summer temperature does not vary much as it rains frequently through the year.

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DELHI

 
Location : North India.
Famous As : The Capital Of India & It's Administrative Center
English, Hindi, Urdu And Punjabi

Delhi is no fairytale city but a city where dreams come to reality. Its strategic location was one of the prime reasons why successive dynasties chose it as their seat of power. Delhi is truly a symbol of the old and the new; a blend of ancient well preserved monuments and temples along with jam-packed burger joints and upmarket shopping malls.


The city is lushed with a plethora of temples, forts, mosques as well as parks, gardens and beautiful colonial mansions. Delhi may seem daunting to a first time visitor but as a national capital and the gateway to the North, it is a must visit city on any travelers itinerary. Impressive museums and interesting nightlife, Delhi has a lot to offer for everyone.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

The Origin
The earliest reference to a settlement at Delhi is found in the epic Mahabharata, which mentions a city called Indraprastha, built about 1400 BC under the direction of 'Yudhistra', a 'Pandava' king, on a huge mound somewhere between the sites where the historic Old Fort and Humayun's Tomb were later to be located. Although nothing remains of Indraprastha, according to legend it was a thriving city.

The first reference to the place-name Delhi, seems to have been made in the 1st century BC, when Raja Dhilu built a city near the site of the future Qutub Minar and named it after himself.

A Conglomerate Of Seven Cities
One of the most fascinating aspects of Delhi is the visibility of its historic past. Some of the large portions of the city could be well earmarked as archeological parks because the rulers of successive dynasties between the 13th and the 17th centuries established seven cities in different parts of Delhi. A chronological review of these cities fortunately also serves as suitable itinery for tourists and highlights the important monuments amongst the 1300's.


Delhi's History goes much further back in time than the 13th century. The core of the first of the seven cities was created by Anagpal Tomar who is said to have built LAL KOT, which is the first known regular defence work in Delhi. The Chauhan Rajput's later captured Delhi from the Tomars. Prithviraj III, also known as Rai Pithora, extended Lal Kot, adding massive ramparts and gates and made Quila Rai Pithora the first city of Delhi. Today only, the ramparts are visible near the Qutub Minar, though the city is known to have had several Hindu and Jain temples.

Soon afterwards, in two successive battles of Tarain 1191, the Rajputs first managed to hold off an invading force from Afghanistan, led by Muhammad Ghuri but surrendered a few months later. Unlike other invaders of Central Asia who swept into the northern plains, Muhammad Ghuri came to stay and not only plunder.

After Ghuri's assasination in 1206, his provinces, forts and monuments were kept intact in the hands of his Turkish general, Qutub-ud-din-Aibak. Qutub-ud-din was the founder of the Slave or Mamulak dynasty also known as Delhi Sultanate and became the first Muslim ruler of Delhi. He also raised the construction of Qutub Minar. His successor, Iltutmish, was arguably the greatest of the early Delhi Sultans.

The Slave Dynasty (1211-1227) was followed by the Khalji dynasty (1296-1316) and during the rule of Ala-ud-din Khalji, the second city of Delhi was built - "SIRI". Today Siri is situated where the Siri Fort and the modern day Asiad Village Complex are located. The third city of Delhi - TUGHLUQABAD was founded by the Tughluq dynasty soon after in 1320 AD but very little remains of this can be seen in present day Delhi. The fourth city of Delhi - JAHANPANAH was built between Lal Kot and Siri in 1327 AD. The next Sultan Firoz Shah built the fifth city of Delhi - FIROZABAD in 1354 AD.

The Tughlaq's were followed by the Central Asian Turk-Timur, who was later succeeded by the Sayyid dynasty. The Lodi dynasty soon followed and the only interesting architectural features added by them were the tombs, the best of which may be seen at the Lodi Gardens. The famous battle of Panipat fought in 1526 AD marked the beginning of Mughal rule in India, a period in history that was very significant.

Babur and Humayun were the early Mughal rulers followed by a 15-year break in Mughal rule when Sher Shah Suri an Afghan king ruled over Delhi. He built the fort DIN-PANAH - the 6th city on the banks of the Yamuna, which in present day Delhi is known as the Purana Qila. When Emperor Akbar took over, the capital was shifted to Agra. However in 1628 AD, Delhi was once again made the capital of the Mughal Empire under Emperor Shah Jahan. In Shah Jahan's rule, Delhi witnessed the construction of some of the finest pieces of Mughal architecture. There was the new walled capital of SHAHJAHANBAD - the 7th city of Delhi, which is now Old Delhi with the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid.

The Colonial Era
For the next many decades, Delhi witnessed tumultuous times, different rulers and dynasties and finally in 1803 AD, the British who had already established their presence in India, took over power in Delhi. Delhi was the focal point for the first war of independence in 1857. Though the revolt did not reach its desired conclusion, Delhi became a thorn in the eyes of the British.

As the Britishers shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi, all the activities during the freedom struggle were directed towards Delhi. Thus, Delhi also bears the marks of the freedom struggle. The ultimate goal of the Azad Hind Fauz during the freedom struggle was to capture Delhi and established Swaraj. The slogan 'Dilli Chalo' is still used by leaders and political parties when they oraganise any rally or demonstration. It was the hosting of the tricolour at Red Fort in Delhi, which marked a chapter in the history of India.

In 1950, Delhi was made the capital of Independent India and in 1992 it was declared a state.

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GOA

 
Location: Western Ghats of India
Capital: Panjim
Tourist Attractions:Beaches, Churches, Resorts
Best Time To Visit: September To March

A Pristine beauty wrapped in diverse hue!
Goa, nestling on the western coast of India, enchants the visions of vast blue seas of Arabian Ocean. Its never-ending coastal stretches, sunbathing, feni - (an erotic drink) and its people, makes Goa only a true resort state. Goa’s carnivals, colossal and unique Portuguese villas, ancient Hindu temples, magnificent churches and the lively attitude to life has charged Goa with magnetic force that attracts millions of tourists around the world. With a varied choice of more then forty beaches, one can choose from placid, serene stretches of white sand to lively partying beaches full of fun and enthusiasm.

Besides the arrayed Goan beaches there is lot more in the treasures of this land, visit the 500-year-old churches, royal forts and beautifully carved temples scattered all over the Goa State that will definitely leave you mesmerized.

Stroll along the river and the coastal edges, awe at the sight of waterfalls where water falls from the great heights, a day safari in the wildlife sanctuaries amidst the dense woods or visit the spice plantations to walk through the green narrow lanes, all will charge your imaginations. Try out scuba diving and encounter with the shimmering marine life and delve in Nazi wrecks from the WW II years. Gaze at the old prison and lighthouses that will remind you of the Portugal rule or play with the silver sand on the moon light night and observe the rope-makers, weavers and potters craftsmen-ship dwelling in the traditional villages.

Goa Archives
The origin of Goa or Gomantak as it is also known is forfeited in the smog of time. Over the centuries various dynasties have ruled Goa. Rashtrakutas, Kadambas, Silaharas, Chalukyas, Bahamani Muslims and on top of all the Portuguese have been rulers of Goa. The state has been the colony of Portuguese for more then 451 years, that has reddened Goa’s towns and villages with a unique culture. Goa was liberated by the Indian Army from Portuguese in 1961 and became a Union Territory and in 1987 Goa was given state recognition and was included as a 25th state of the India. From early sixties, Goa become popular among the hippies from the west, since then Goa has been a major destination on the itinerary of international and domestic tourists.

Goa, A Sheer Delight
Panaji (Panjim) is the capital city of Goa nestling on the banks of the Mandovi river. Vasco, Margao, Mapusa and Ponda are the other major travel destinations in Goa, definitely worth a visit sites. An international and national airport located at Dabolim near Vasco services Goa. The road routes are well connected to all the major destinations around the state. Inter-state bus network plays a major part in getting locals and visitors in and around Goa.

Goa is rich in its marine life. Goa sea and rivers are brimmed with seafood - prawns, mackerels, sardines, crabs and lobsters, the most popular with the locals and the visitors. Goan cuisine replete with the flavor of many influences it had undergone during the centuries. The staple food in Goa is fish and rice, both for the Hindus and the Catholics. Find your feet in Goa pubs and bars, Goa is stuffed with the good bars, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs all crowned at the center of the city. If you happen to visit this beautiful city between December and January, you can enjoy the thrill at any hour of the day, as these clubs stay open 24 hours.

If your are thinking a holiday in Goa chill out with refreshing Goa Liquor. Goans are convivial drinkers. Every urban neighborhood and backwater village keeps two or three bars that are well patronized. Don’t be surprised to see a bar practically every 200m, where ever you are.

Goan’s spoken language is Konkani and Marathi whereas English is a universal language commonly used among the locals. The usage of Hindi is also quite common in the state.

Procure Lasting Memories
If you are interested in Goa handicrafts, try Govt. of Goa Handicrafts Emporium on Qurem Road. The state is famous for its Feni- a local drinks and cashew nuts, so don’t forget to lure upon it. The Anjuna market is the place to be on Wednesday’s in Goa. The market begins at 9 am and closes down with the setting sun. It’s a unique experience that should not be missed on your travel trip to Goa. The market is a lively spot where souvenirs, beachwear, colorful sarongs, Hawaiian shirts and handicrafts are sold. From the vast collection pick out any of your favorite.

Hangout Trips
Goa Tourism Development Corporation offers several tours to explore the state. There are also exciting river cruises launched by GTDC varying from one hour, two hour or half day cruise carrying the thrill and excitement of even swimming in the Arabian Sea. There is also backwater cruise that offers a glimpse of churches of Old Goa, Khumbarjua canal with a chance to sight the crocodiles on the banks or in the mangroves.

Lure For More Thrill

Beach Watching
Beaches are the prime attractions in Goa, every one who visit Goa, beach is the foremost attraction which is on the top of the itinerary. It’s unheard of anyone not doing so. With over of 100 km of coast line, Goa serves up of variety of beaches, the peaceful long stretches where the wind blow through the palm trees and the waves that soothe your mind and soul. Then there are beaches packed with activity, thrill, nightclub, para-sailing, jet skiing, dusk-to dawn parties and much more. Some of the remarkable beaches of Goa are Varca, Colva, Calangute, Baga and Anjuna.

Spotting of the Dolphins
Just get on to a beach and take a cruise, you have the fair chance to get close and personal with the snout nosed, smiling creatures of the deep. If the whether is favorable, there is no reason for not seeing a whole school of them springing and merry-making around your boat.

Get Familiar with Crocodile family
Take a cruise up the Cumbarjuna canal, 15 km stretch of water , and get eyeful of these canine tooth reptiles tanning themselves on the swamps. Evidently, freshwater crocodiles are innocuous to the people. The think mangrove is also great for bird watching, so be prepared with your binoculars, and hand cam to enjoy a day trip with these marsh creatures.

Adventure on Every Nook and Corner of the Beach
The 5 star beach resorts are the one that offers the wealth of hi-tech water sports with the proper equipment and high level security standards. Enjoy para-sailing, jet skiing, bump rides, water scooters, wind - surfing, and scuba dive.

Karting Bang
A karting track of international quality has opened in south Goa that run under the flood lights. Goa Kart racing has many national and local karting camps. There is also a twin seater those who want the thrills but don’t want to drive.

Getting There

All India domestic airlines fly into Goa, Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Air Sahara, link up Goa with Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi, Pune. The Dabolim Airport is about 30km from Panim. Margao is the main railhead in Goa. Panjim is also well connected by road to the main national highway through Goa, 4A,17 and 17 A, the state owned transport corporation operates frequently services from Goa to the other destinations. Other means of transport is via waterways. Flat bottom ferries operates during September May, as the weather become pleasant.

Goa is also going to get a Sky Bus Metro system commodious coaches pensile on upraised rail tracks, about eighty meters above the ground, all festooned to make it the most luxury journey.

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Haryana

Haryana Pilgrim Destinations offers the devotes with a wide range of sacred places which are of considerable religious and historical significance. The pilgrim places of Haryana are thronged by devotees all over the year, who visit the important religious places in order to seek divine blessings and eternal happiness.

The state of Haryana has a long historical and cultural tradition which is manifested in the numerous religious places which fills the tourist with an intense sense of satisfaction. Some of the notable "Pilgrim Destinations" of Haryana are:

Kurukshetra- The historical place of "Kurukshetra" is the cradle of Hindu civilization. The fierce battle field of the holy land of "Kurukhshetra" is a witness to the discourse between the mighty and valiant ruler "Arjuna" and his divine charioteer "Lord Krishna".

Jyotisar- The ancient place of "Jyotisar" is the nurturing ground of the values and principles that guide the oldest religion of the world, the "Hindu" religion. The significance of the place lies in the fact that the holy religious text of the "Hindus", the "Bhagwad Gita" was complied in this sacred place

Thanesar- The sacred place of "Thanesar" has two important religious temples of the "Sthanesvar Mahadev Temple" and the "Ma Bhadra Kali Temple" that draws several devotees throughout the year

Pehowa- The holy land of "Pehowa" is an important religious place among the Hindus, who pray to the deceased member of their family and offer "Pind Daan" to release them from the cycle of birth and rebirth

Panchkula- The beautiful place of Panchkula offers the tourist with numerous places of religious and historical importance, including "Morni hills" and "Tikkar Taal".

Dhosi Hill - A hill near Narnaul, having Vedic period Rishi, Chaywan's Ashram. Famous for preparation of Chyawanprash, and other herbal preparations.

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GUJARAT - CHAMPANER

 
Location:49 Kms From Vadodara, Gujarat.
Famous As: Jain Pilgrimage.
Known As: Archaeological Site.
Main Attractions: Muhammad Shah's Citadel.

Gujarat

Gujarat, the seventh largest state in India, located in the western part of India with a coastline of 1600 km (longest in India). It is the tenth most popular state in the country for tourists with annual footfall of 18.9 million tourists.[8] Gujarat offers scenic beauty from Great Rann of Kutch to the hills of Satpura. Gujarat is the sole home of the pure Asiatic Lions and is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia. During the Sultanate reign, Hindu craftsmanship mix with Islamic architecture, giving rise to the Indo-Saracenic style. Many structures in the state are built in this fashion. It is also the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi & Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the great iconic figures during India's Independence movement. Gujarat offers many types of tourism like Business Tourism, Archeological & Heritage Tourism, Cultural Tourism, Religious Tourism, Wildlife Tourism, Medical Tourism and much more. Amitabh Bachchan is currently the brand ambassador of Gujarat Tourism. Ahmedabad is considered an ideal hub to cover all the destinations across Gujarat.

Champaner was earlier the capital of the Chauhan Rajputs, who had their fort on 822 meter high Pavagadh peak, a holy place of pilgrimage. On the hill can be seen the old fort with it's superb rocky defenses, the Makai kota where the rulers kept their grain, the ruins of Patai Rawal palace, Naulakha Kotha Mansion, the 11th century Laukalish Temple, wells and numerous religious monuments.

The main monument of Champaner is the citadel of Muhammed Shah. The Jami Masjid here is the finest mosque in Gujarat. The natural beauty and fresh atmosphere have encouraged the government to develop a hill resort here. The famous poet Baiju was born here.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS
Muhammad Shah's Citadel: The main monument in champaner is the citadel of Muhammad Shah's in Champaner, beside the high walls and custom house

Jami Masjid: The Jami Masjid(1513 A.D.), with an exquisitely carved entrance, a vast and imposing courtyard surrounded by cloistered galleries speaks of the quality of the artisans who worked at Champaner. The elevation in the front shows 5 pointed arches and slim minarets flanking the central arch, perfectly proportioned.

Other Attractions: The Shah Masjid with 4 rows of ornate pillars, domes and delicate carved mihrabs, Nagina masjid with a fine arcade and Kevda masjid is also a sight not to go unmissed.

HOW TO GET THERE
Buses are available for Champaner which is 160 kms from Ahmedabad . From Baroda it takes an hour by bus.

WHERE TO STAY
Accomodation can be availed at Hotel Champaner (Gujarat tourism). Dharamshalas at Machi, Pawagadh.

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HIMACHAL PRADESH TRAVEL

 
Location: Himachal Pradesh
Places Of Interest: Jawalamukhi, Kangra Fort, Brajeshwari Temple
Best Time To Visit: Mid-May to Mid-October.

One Hill Destination For Sceneric Beauty, Adventure Activities and Pilgrimages

Himachal Pradesh is a home to world-famous hill stations, valleys, ski resorts and religious sites. The cool weather and with snow clad mountain peaks, Himachal state in North India has long been the most sought after destination for the rest of India to escape from scorching summer heat. Foreign tourists found Himachal tours full of natural expeditions, adventure and heritage structures ranging from ancient temples to colonial bungalows. Newlywed couples, adventure seekers, pilgrims and family tourists visit various parts of the Himachal in huge flocks. In short, Himachal Pradesh is one cool destination that welcomes one and all.

Popular Hill Resorts

Shimla - The Capital of Himachal Pradesh The state capital, has been serving as the amazing summer resort from the times of British rule. Picturesque landscapes dotted with dense forests, meadows and fruit orchards are enough to spellbind anyone. Equally fascinating are the colonial structures that include English bungalows and churches. For more info on shimla click here. Other frequently visited hill stations in the state include:

Chail : Around 48 km from Shimla, Chail has world’s highest cricket pitch, a royal palace and many other attractions. Many important hill resorts in the region include Kufri, Naldehra and Kasauli.

Kullu - Manali Mesmerizing valleys, gorges and hot springs, along with an array of historic temples are the highlights of this place. Manali also offers lots of adventure activities, like skiing, trekking, mountaineering.

Dalhousie : A quite hill station with pleasant weather, Dalhousie is perfect for anyone seeking peace and relaxation. The nearby attraction called Khajjiar (20 km away) enjoys the designation of Mini Switzerland. Chamba with stunning natural glory is beyond one’s imagination.

Adventure and Sport Destinations in Himachal

Skiing : Shimla and Manali turn into an enticing ski resort during the winter months when the region receives heavy snowfall.

Trekking : More than 250 trekking trails in the regions like Lahaul, Spiti, Kullu and Kinnaur attract trekkers.

Water Sports : Sangla Valley of Kinnaur and Pabbar Valley of Rohru are ideal for fishing. River rafting is another wonderful opportunity at river Ravi in Chamba and River Beas in Kullu.

Mountaineering : Dharamsala, Manali and Dhauladhar and PirPanjal ranges are admired for mountaineering adventure.

Pilgrimage and Religious Destinations

Hindu Temples: Himachal Pradesh has many abodes of Shakti, worshipped as great divine mother in Hinduism. Kangra, Jwalamukhi, Chamunda Devi and Brajeshwari Devi temple are visited by hundreds of pilgrims every year.

Buddhist Monasteries : Dharamsala and Mcleodganj have many beautiful Buddhist monasteries and temples. Dharamsala is also the home to Dalai Lama.

Other Tourist Attractions

Toy Train – Listed in World Heritage Site Toy Train runs on a narrow gauge from Kalka to Shimla covering 96 kms. The journey is covered in about 5 hours. Toy Train journey is major attractions in Shimla as its thrilling rides passes through many meadows, pastures and green valley giving an un-extended view of snow clad Himalayas at the back drop.

Shopping : Himachal Pradesh handicrafts are interesting ensembles of attractive shawls, woolens, embroidered fabrics, wooden showpieces, Paintings and more. The state boasts of fruit orchards of apples, pear, plum, strawberry, litchi, apricot and others. Fruit and fruit based products like jams, chutneys, fruit drinks and pickles can be purchased at local markets.

Festivals : Chamba’sSul Festival, Kangra’s Tea Festival, Shimla’s Summer Festival, Kullu’sDussehra and Renuka Fair are the grand celebrations worth participating in.

Best Time to Visit

Himachal Pradesh can be accessed round the year. During summer months, you can enjoy pleasant weather and amazing sightseeing. Snowfall and Christmas and New Year celebrations (especially at Shimla and Manali) are the highlights of the winter months. Plan your holiday in any part of the year and this beautiful state won’t disappoint you.

Himachal Pradesh Tourism Offices:

Himachal Pradesh Tourist Information Counter - The Mall, Shimla- 171001, Himachal Pradesh.

Himachal Pradesh Tourist Information Counter - The Mall, Manali - 175131, Himachal Pradesh.

Department of Tourism & Civil Aviation - Daizy Bank Estate, Shimla- 171001 Himachal Pradesh.

Himachal Tourism Office - Chandralok Building, 36, Janpath, New Delhi - 110 001

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HYDERABAD PEARLS - CITY OF PEARLS

 
City Of Pearls: Hyderabad
Famous Pearl Drilling Centre: Chandanpet Village, Just Outside Hyderabad
Famed For: Quality And Lustre
Hyderabad Pearl Varieties: Natural, Cultured, And Imitation

The city of Hyderabad is known for its minarets and its pearl bazaar. Hyderabad pearls have long been cherished and famed for their quality and lustre. Mention the name of pearls to anyone in the jewellery trade in India and the name that pops up to mind is Hyderabad. The city is a one-stop-destination for the rare, luminescent, soft, tear drop pearls. Wide range, price and superior quality are some of the factors, which make the city a true pearls paradise. From cultured pearls to the rare 'Basra', the city has all of them.

A Royal Heritage
The pearl trade was prospered here for centuries under the royal patronage of the Qutub Shahi kings and the Asaf Jahis. Legend has it that pearls were showered on the people by the kings at the time of ceremonies as gifts. The affluent lifestyle beckoned many a craftsman from distant parts of the world, especially the Arabian Gulf where the rare original pearls are found in abundance. Hence, Hyderabad became the one-stop-destination for pearls.

In Chandanpet village situated just outside Hyderabad, almost the entire population is engaged in the delicate art of drilling pearls. They have practiced this skill for generations, making Hyderabad one of the largest drilling centres in India. Once the pearls are drilled, they are boiled for about four days to bleach them and rid them of their dark.

Pearls originally come in different colours and hues, and are then bleached white or a shade of cream. Silver, black, gold and pinks are also gaining increasing interest. In fact, a deep lustrous black pearl is one of the more rare finds in the pearl industry, and so are expensive. The real Basra pearls (come from Persian gulf) are also available, but only with bigger merchants dealing exclusively in pearls.

PEARL VARIETIES
There are three types of pearls, Natural, cultured and imitation-

Natural pearls:
Pearl's made without man's assistance. Natural pearls have become so rare and expensive, that for the vast majority of people cultured pearls are the only option.

Cultured pearls:
Cultured pearls are those that come from an oyster that dies after the pearl is removed. They tend to have a larger core or nucleus.

Imitation pearls:
In most cases, a glass bead is dipped into a solution made from fish scales. This coating is thin and may eventually wear off. One can usually tell an imitation by biting on it. Fake pearls glide across your teeth, while the layers of nacre on real pearls feel gritty.

PEARL QUALITY
Lustre and size are generally considered to be the two major factors that determine a pearl's worth. Lustre for instance, depends on the fineness and evenness of the layers. The deeper the glow, the more perfect the shape and surface, the more valuable they are. Size on the other hand, has to do with the age of the oyster that created the pearl (the more mature oysters produce larger pearls) and the location in which the pearl was cultured.

A good quality white pearl reflects a lovely sky blue colour under ultraviolet light, while a poor quality one has a greenish or mustardish sheen. Black pearls that have a green sheen and baroque (irregular shaped) pearls that reflect a rainbow of colours are also amongst the more valuable varieties.

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JAMMU & KASHMIR

 
Location: Northern Most Part Of India
Three Main Regions: Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh
Languages Spoken: Dogri, Kashmiri, Hindi & Ladakhi
Best Time To Visit: Jammu - October To February

Jammu and Kashmir are really three regions: the foothill plains of Jammu; the lakes and blue valleys of Kashmir rising to alpine passes, the high altitude plains and starkly beautiful mountains of Ladakh, which lies beyond those passes. It's enough to move one to poetry. Srinagar is Kashmir's summer capital and Jammu, the winter capital.

One of Kashmir's greatest attractions are the Dal Lake houseboats. The Mughal Gardens of Srinagar is another tourist haunt. Pahalgam, Gulmarg, near Srinagar are picturesque towns, the first a by-route to Amarnath, the second a premier skiing resort. The famous Shankaracharya temple is perched high on top of the valley. Jammu is a templed town. Ladakh, the land of high passes, draws tourists to its Hemis Gompa, Stok Palace and Museum.

The People: The majority are Muslims living in the Kashmir valley; culturally and ethnically, the closest links are with peoples in the northwestern highlands of the Gilgit district in the Pakistani sector. While Hindus dominate the Jammu region and Ladakh is majorly influenced by the Trans-Himalayan Buddhism.The Kashmiri language is influenced by Sanskrit and belongs to the Dardic branch of Indo-Aryan languages also spoken by the hill tribes of Gilgit. The great majority of the population resides in the lower reaches of the Vale. Sringar, Jammu and Kashmir's largest city, is located on theJhelum River.

Capital: Srinagar, the capital, has a distinctly Central Asian look. It stands on the Dal Lake ( most of the more modern houseboats are located here) and the picturesque Jhelum River. Srinagar is also considered to be a small-sized Lake District. The massive Dal Lake, near the city and Nagin, the 'Jewel in the ring', a smaller lake, to the north, is dotted with water lilies. The lakes are mobile shops of moving shikaras. The old city has a labyrinth of alleyways and mosques.

Culture: The ancient caves and temples of Kashmir, reveal a strong link with Indian culture at the beginning of the Christian Era. At one time the classical dances of the south are believed to have been practised. These arts survived only in folk forms and were performed principally at marriage ceremonies. The popular hafiza dance performed by Kashmiri women to the accompaniment of sufiana kalam was later replaced by the bacha nagma, performed by young boys dressed like women. The bhand jashna ("festival of clowns"), a 300- to 400-year-old genre of Kashmiri folk theatre performed in village squares, satirizes social situations through dance, music and clowning.

Occupation: The majority of the population is engaged in agriculture with rice, being the staple crop. Many temperate fruits and vegetables are grown in areas adjacent to urban markets. Kashmir is the sole producer of saffron in the Indian subcontinent. Cultivation in Ladakh is restricted to the Indus, Shyok, and Suru river valleys. Cattle breeding is a vital feature of the economy; the Kashmir goat provides cashmere or pashmina for the production of fine textiles.

Handicrafts: Srinagar possesses many specialized agricultural markets, retail shopping centres, and associated industries. The industries have developed from rural crafts and include handloom weaving of local silk, cotton, and wool, carpet weaving, wood carving, and leatherwork. Such industries, together with silverwork and copperwork and jewelry, were stimulated by the presence of the royal court and the tourist trade but also owe something to the important position achieved by Srinagar in west Himalayan trade.

CLIMATE: The climate is one of opposites: while in summer time the heat builds upto breaking point in the foothills, people of Ladakh and Kashmir wait for the snow to melt.on the high passes. From October onwards, Jammu becomes a much more pleasant destination. However, the best time to enjoy vale of Kashmir and the adventures of Ladakh region is between the months of May and September.

Population: 9 million

Festivals: Jammu celebrates Lohri and Baisakhi in February. Every year a 3-day Jammu Crafts Mela is also organised during Baisakhi at the picturesque Mansar Lake, 60-km from Jammu. Bahu Mela, a major festival of Jammu region is held at the Kali temple in Bahu Fort, twice a year during March-April and September-October. In Srinagar, besides Id other important muslim festivals are Urs at Khaneka in downtown Srinagar and Urs at Chrar-e-Sharif. The annual Ladakh festival is held in September; the Hemis Festival features chaams performed by the monks in elaborate masks.

Tourist Offices
Tourist Reception center - J&K Department of Tourism, Vir Marg, Jammu

Tourist Office - J&K Department Of Tourism, National Airport, Jammu

Tourist Office - J&K Department Of Tourism, Railway Station, Jammu.

The Director Tourism - J&K Government Tourist Reception Center, Srinagar, .

Jammu And Kashmir Tourist Office - 201-203, Kanishka Shopping Plaza, 19 Ashoka Road, New Delhi - 110 001

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KARNATAKA - HAMPI

 
Location : 350 kms from Bangalore, Karnataka
Famous For : Vithala Temple Complex, Ugra Narasimha
Main Languages : Kannada, Hindi, English


Hampi, the land of surprises was founded in the middle of 14th Century by two local princes, Hakka & Bukka. The Vijayanagar Empire came to be celebrated for its might and wealth and as a show piece of imperial magnificence.

Vijayanagara is such that the pupil of the eye has never seen a place like it... " So eulogized Abdul Razaq, a Muslim envoy who visited Hampi.

The city was sacked pillaged and burnt in 1565 AD, after the combined attack of armies of Muslim Sultanates of the Deccan defeated the Vijayanagar Military Commander and the King fled the Capital. Rocky hills and the mighty Tungabhadra River, which flows through this rugged landscape, dominate the terrain.

One can still glimpse the splendour of Vijayanagara - one of the largest empires in the history of India - in its ruins. The Vijayanagar Kings were great patrons of Art & Architecture as evident by the vast ruins of Hampi.

In an effort to resurrect this abandoned capital, the government has been involved in the restoration, excavation and protection of the ruins, which are spread over an area of 26 sq kms.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS
Virupaksha Temple:
The Virupaksha Temple at the western end is one of the earliest structures in the city. The main shrine is dedicated to Virupaksha, a form of Lord Vishnu.

Overlooking Virupaksha temple to the South, Hemakuta hill has a scattering of early ruins including Jain temples and a monolithic structure of Narasimha.

Ugra Narasimha:
Nearby is the 6.7m tall monolith of Ugra Narasimha. The gigantic image is situated in the south of the Hemkuta group of temples that includes the Virupaksha Temple.

The Narasimha is a seated four-armed figure under a canopy of a seven-hooded snake.

Vithala Temple:
To the east of Hampi Bazaar is the Vithala temple, about 2 kms away. The ruins of the temple is a World Heritage monument.

It is in a relatively good state of preservation. The temples incredible sculptural work is a pinnacle of Vijayanagar Art.

The outer pillars are known as the 'Musical Pillars' as they reverberate when tapped, although this practice is now discouraged to avoid further damage.

The temple also features an ornate stone chariot in the temple courtyard containing an image of Garuda.

Shivalinga:
The gigantic Shivalinga is located next to the Narasimha figure. It is 3 m high and stands permanently in water that comes through an ancient channel.

Lotus Mahal:
This graceful two-storeyed pavilion is located in the 'zenana' enclosure. The palace is delightful synthesis of the Hindu and Islamic styles of architecture.

Virupaksha Bazaar:
32 m wide and 728 m long, this street that runs between the Virupaksha Temple and the foot of the Matanga Hill is the longest street laid out by the Vijaynagara kings.

Queen's Bath:
Situated in the citadel area, south of the Hazaara Rama Temple the Queen's Bath is a large square structure, remarkable for the contrast between its plain exterior and the very ornate interior.

The bath is 15-m square and 1.8 m deep and is surrounded by delicately decorated arched corridors and projecting balconies.

Singaradu Hebbagilu:
Located behind the elephant stables, this is one of the oldest and most massive of the gateways in the capital city.

The gate called 'Singara Hebbagilu' or the beautiful door according to an inscription that has been discovered near it, was the main entrance to the city.

Hazara Rama Temple:
The temple built within rectangular complex lies at the heart of the royal centre. Dating from the early 15th century, the hall of the Hazara Rama Temple has finely carved basalt pillars depicting the incarnations of Shri Vishnu.

Around the exterior walls of the hall are three rows of sculptures illustrating the main events from the Ramayana.

Achuta Raya Temple:
The Tirvengalanatha temple, which was built during reign of Achuta Deva Raya, is better known by the name of ruler.

The temple within are in ruins, but some erotic sculptures can be seen in the columns inside the open halls near the main gateway.

TRAVEL INFORMATION
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: The nearest airport is Bellary (74 kms.) Other convenient airports are a Belgaum (190 kms) and Bangalore, Bijapur, Hubli and Guntakal.

Rail: The nearest train junction is at Hospet.

Road: Hampi is 350 kms from Bangalore. KSRTC Buses ply regularly from Hospet.

WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Mayura Vijayanagar, Tungabadhra Dam, Hospet.
Hotel Priyadarshani, Station Road, Hospet.
Hotel Malligi, Hospet - Bellary Road.
Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneswari, Kamalapur, Hampi.
KSTDC Cottages.

GENERAL INFORMATION
Local Festival: Vijayanagar Festival, organized by the Government of Karnataka in December.
STD Code: 08394.

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KARNATAKA - MYSORE

 
Location: South-West Karnataka.
Altitude: 770m Above Sea Level.
Famous For: Sandalwood, Silk.
Attractions: Dassara, Mysore Palace, Vrindavan Gardens

THE FRAGRANT SANDALWOOD CITY
Located 770m above sea level and 140 Kms from Bangalore, Mysore, the imperial city, was the erstwhile capital of the Wodeyars. Also known as the city of Palaces, Mysore has never failed to mesmerise the tourists with its quaint charm, rich heritage, magnificent palaces, beautifully laid-out gardens, imposing buildings, broad shady avenues and sacred temples.

Mysore is the erstwhile capital of Wodeyars, the rulers of Mysore State. The Wodeyar family ruled Mysore since 14th century except for a short period of 40 years when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were the rulers. Today Mysore is one of the major cities of Karnataka. Mysore has emerged as a thriving market for exotic sandalwood & incense, the Mysore silk sarees and stone-carved sculptures.

Mysore is certainly a charming, old-fashioned and undaunting town dominated by the spectacular Maharaja's Palace, around which the boulevards of the city radiate. Nearby is the city centre with the colourful and frenetic Devaraja Market is inviting a stroll.

On the outskirts of Mysore, Srirangapatnam still harbours architectural gems from the days of the great Indian hero, Tipu Sultan, and the magnificent Hoysala temple of Somnathpur lies little more than an hour's drive away.

LEGEND
In the tenth century Mysore was known as "Mahishur", the town where the buffalo-demon Mahishashur was slain by the goddess Durga. The word Mysore expands to "Mahishasurana Ooru", which means the town of Mahishasura. It is believed that during one of the wars between devils and demons on the one hand and gods and goddesses on the other, the demon Mahishasur (Mahishur) overpowered the gods.

The goddess on seeing this, incarnated as the fireceful Chamundi or Chamundeshwari and consequently, Mahishasura was killed by Her atop the Chamundi Hill near Mysore. Ever since, the Mysore royal family has worshipped Chamundeshwari as the palace deity. Hills dedicated to Her stand at the eastern end of Mysore town to this day.

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KARNATAKA - PATTADAKKAL

 
Location : 17 Kms From Bijapur, Karnataka
Attraction : Banashankari Temple
Best season : October to February
Main Languages : Kannada, Hindi, English

Situated on the left bank of the Malaprabha River, Pattadakkal is a World Heritage Centre. The town has 10 major temples representing early Chalukyan architecture.

This place reached its pinnacle of glory under the Chalukyas from the seventh to the ninth centuries functioning as a royal commemorative site. The biggest temple here, dedicated to Virupaksha, has a massive gateway and several inscriptions.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS
Banashankari Temple:
The quaint hamlet taking its name from the goddess Banashankari lies enroute to Badami. The powerful eight-armed goddess on a snarling gold lion guards the village where a huge fair is held, attracting thousands of devotees.

Virupaksha Temple:
The biggest temple dedicated to Virupaksha is enclosed in a large quadrangle surrounded by small cells, has a massive gateway and several inscriptions.

According to one of these inscriptions, Lokamahadevi, wife of Vikramaditya II in commemoration of his conquest of Kanchi, built the temple.

Besides scenes from Mahabharata and Ramayana, there is a wonderful carving designed to look like an elephant from one side and buffalo from the other.

Mallikarjuna and Papanatha temples:
These temples are dedicated to Virupaksha. In front of the temple, is a majestic 2.6 metres high Nandi. The Mallikarjuna and Papanatha temples are delicately chiseled, and rich in detail.

Besides these temples is a group of temples remarkable primarily, for representing two chief styles of Indian architecture, side by side.

TRAVEL INFORMATION
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: The nearest airport is at Belgaum, 180 kms away.

Rail: The nearest railway station is Badami, 29 kms, away.

Road: Pattadakkal is connected by road to: Badami (29 kms); Aihole (17 kms).

Local Transport: Cycle Rickshaws, Tongas, City Bus Service.

WHERE TO STAY
It is advisable to stay in Badami (29 kms) or Bijapur (17 kms).

GENERAL INFORMATION
Main Festival: The Pattadakkal Dance Festival, organized annually by the Government of Karnataka.

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KERALA

 
Location: Kerala
Main Means Of Transport: Air, Rail, Road
Major Accessible Point: Kochi, Trivandrum.
Best Time To Visit: August to March

KERALA - GODS OWN COUNTRY
Sandwiched between the Lakshwadeep Sea and the Western Ghats, Kerala is a bustling little green-and-silver, coconuts-and-water state on the west coast of India. It is bounded by Karnataka to the north, Tamil Nadu to the east, and the Arabian Sea to the west. Thiruvananthapuram is its capital.

Every district in Kerala has it's own unique culture and characteristics. Thiruvananthapuram is known for it's beach- Kovalam, the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple and various museums and palaces; Alappuzha for it's backwaters, Thrissur, the cultural capital, Kottayam for it's ancient churches, Kozhikode for it's old world charm and the entrancing Ponmudi or Golden valley.

Capital of Kerala
Though a bit of a tongue-twister, Thiruvananthapuram - the present official name, is closer to it's mythological origins. The word ' Thiru ananthapuram' means the city of Anantha or the abode of the sacred thousand-headed serpent Anantha, who forms the couch on which reclines Lord Vishnu, the preserver in the Hindu trinity.

Built on seven hills, it was the capital of the Venad chieftains. The city has grown as a tourist and commercial centre, with the International airport becoming the main gateway into Kerala. Being the state capital, it also throbs with political activity.

History of Kerala
Original inhabitants were animists, followed by the Dravidians. After Alexander's triumphant sweep over Asia Minor, the ports of Kerala became a link between the Middle East, the Mediterranean and China.


In 1498, Vasco da Gama made his historic landing on the Malabar Coast. In 1723, the East India Company signed a strategic treaty with King Marthanda Varma. For a few decades, Hyder Ali and his son -Tipu sultan proved to be a thorn in the flesh of the British, sweeping down several times into Kerala. In 1947, it was the turn of the British to pack their bags.

The People
Kerala also has considerable ethnic diversity. The Malayali majority belong to the Dravidian group (local race) of early Indian peoples.

There is a small population of descendants of Indo-European migrants from the north. Certain hill tribes exhibit affinities with the Negrito peoples of Southeast Asia. Most Keralites are Hindus, but there are also large Christian and Islamic, and lesser Jain and Jewish, minorities.

The official language is Malayalam. A long contact with the outside world has led to an intriguing blend of cultures and given Keralites a cosmopolitan outlook

Culture of Kerala
One aspect of the state's rich cultural heritage is manifest in its varieties of religious architecture: ancient Hindu temples with copper-clad roofs, later Islamic mosques with "Malabar gables," and colonial Portuguese Baroque churches.

Splendid paintings, especially murals, exhibit distinct local traditions and styles. The land is a flourishing center of the Kathakali dance form. The state has also a rich theatre tradition: the only surviving Sanskrit drama, Koottiyattam, is still performed by the Chakkiars of Kerala. Some principles of the Natya-Shastra are evident in their presentations.

Occupation in Kerala
Agriculture is the state's main economic activity. Plantations of cardamom, cashew nut, coconuts, coffee, ginger, pepper, rubber, and tea account for 40 percent of the total land.

Commercial poultry farming is well developed. Cottage industries--for example, the processing of coconut fibre and cashews or weaving--employ about three-fifths of Kerala's industrial workers. Most of those employed by larger industrial enterprises are engaged in food and textile processing.

Climate
The climate is equable and varies little from season to season. The temperature normally ranges between 27º and 32º C in the plains but drops to about 21º C in the highlands.

Winter - 32 to 20 º C. Kerala is strongly buffeted by both the southwest and northeast monsoons. Rainfall in many parts of the state exceeds 118 inches. Best season: October to March.

Population
33 million

Festivals of Kerala
10-day annual festival in January at Sreekandeswaram Temple, Thiruvananthapuram. In February, is the week-long Nishagandhi Dance festival; Pooram festival in Thrissur around April-May; Flavor Food Festival, at the Kanakakunnu Palace grounds, Thiruvananthapuram in May.

Onam Week celebrations, the annual harvest festival of Kerala begins in August and lasts for 10 days. Another important festival is the annual Pongala Utsavam, to which only women are allowed at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram. Therayattam festival is held to propitiate the gods and demons recognized by the pantheon of the Malayalis.

Tourist Offices in Kerala
Tourist Reception Centre In front of Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) Chaithram hotel, Thiruvananthapuram, near Rly stn.

Tourist Facilitation Centre Museum Rd, Thiruvananthapuram, opp. Museum and zoo.

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KERALA - ALAPPUZHA

 
Location: 64 Km North Of Kochi (Kerala)
Also Known As: Alleppey
Main Attractions: Nehru Boat Race, Ambalapuzha Temple, Mannarshala Temple

ALAPPUZHA - THE VENICE OF THE EAST
Situated on the banks of Vembanad Lake, the town's commercial centre lives in a maze of canals. Set in the labyrinth of Backwater channels, the town is one of the best gateways to explore the unspoilt countryside.

A historic and romantic name from Kerala's past, Alappuzha was once one of the best known ports along the coast of Malabar.

The centre for Backwater Cruises in Kerala, the Backwaters of Alappuzha can be best experienced in a country boat. Alappuzha is a bustling, messy town of ramshackle wood and corrugalated roof houses, chiefly significant in the Coir industry.

The large network of canals provides Alappuzha its lifeline. It has a spectacular long sandy beach. At one end are the dense palm groves that are so characteristic of Kerala's landscape.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS OF ALAPPUZHA

TEMPLES OF ALAPPUZHA
Ambalapuzha: 14 kms from Alappuzha, the Sreekrishna Temple here is worth seeing. The temple boasts of its classic temple architecture and its 'Palpayasam' (sweet milk porridge), offered to the deity. The temple's main festival occurs in March/April. It was in this temple that the 16th century poet Kunjan Nabbiar staged his first Ottam Thullal, a solo dance performance based on social themes.

Chettikulangara Bhagwathy Temple: The Bhadrakali deity is said to have miraculous power. The temple is abuzz with activity in the months of February and March on the occasion of Bharani.

Mannarshala Temple: 32 kms, near Harippad, the temple here is an important centre of serpent worship in Kerala. On the day of Ayilyam, in the months of September and October, thousands assemble to worship the serpent god.


CHURCHES IN ALAPPUZHA
Arthunkal: It is a famous pilgrim centre, known for its St. Andrew's church set up by Portuguese missionaries. The church is popularly known as St. Sebastian's. It was built by the Portuguese missionaries in 1851 AD.

PALACES OF ALAPPUZHA
Krishnapuram Palace: The palace is located at a distance of 47 kms, at Kayamkulam, on the way to Kollam. The double storeyed palace contains one of the greatest Mural panels in Kerala. The 18th century Krishnapuram Palace with its gabled roofs, dormer windows, and narrow corridors, built during the reign of the Travancore monarch, Marthanda Varma, is a typical example of Kerala Architecture.

Called the Gajendra Moksham, it measures 14 feet by 11 feet and is at the western end of the ground floor, a short distance from the palace pool. Inside is also a museum of antique sculptures, paintings and bronzes.

EXCURSIONS

LAKES
Pathiramanal: Its an island in Vembanad Lake. Its an ideal place for fishing and bird watching

BEACHES AT ALAPPUZHA
Alappuzha Beach
Alappuzha Beach is one of the most popular spots in the district of Alappuzha. The pier, which extends into the sea here, is around 140 years old.


OTHER ATTRACTIONS
Punappra: A short distance from Alappuzha, this village has been rendered famous by the heroic struggles between the communists and Travancore State Police.

Kuttanad: It is an expanse of waterlogged land, lying below sea level. It bears strong resemblance to Holland, geographically.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: Nearest airport is at Kochi, 66 kms away.

Rail: The place is well connected to Kochi, by rail.

Road: The place is connected to all the south Indian towns, by a well-developed network of roads.
There are frequent bus services to Alappuzha.

Local transport: One can use buses, yellow-top and tourist taxis, autorickshaws, and cycle rickshaws.

Ferries: The State Water Transport Department operates boat services connecting Alappuzha with some other places like Kottayam, Chenganassery, Nedamudy and Kavalam.

PLACES TO STAY IN ALAPPUZHA

Prince Hotel, A. S. Road, NH 47. Komala, Opp. Boat Jetty.
KTDC Motel Aaram.
PWD Rest House, near Reception Ground.

ALAPPUZHA FAIRS & FESTIVALS

Artungal Perunal
Edathua Perunal
Nehru Trophy Boat Race

TOURIST INFORMATION

District Tourism Promotion Council, near the Boat Jetty.

NEARBY CITIES

Kottayam (43 km)
Kochi (56 km)
Thrissur (130 km)
Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) (160 km)

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area: 1414 Sq. Km. District
Population: 1,909,603.
Climate: Tropical Humid.
Altitude: 0 feet Above Sea Level.
Temperature:
Summer : Max: 35°C, Min: 22.5°C
Winter : Max: 32°C Min: 20°C
Rainfall: 299 cm (annual).
Clothing: Tropical.
STD Code: 0477.

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KOVALAM BEACH

Location of Kovalam Beach : Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala
Significance: The Most Popular Beach in Kerala
Other Activities: Yoga and Other Health Related Activities
Nearby Travel Attraction: Vizhinjam Mosque

On the Malabar coast along the Kerala shore line is a small village, called Kovalam. This sleepy town suddenly came on the tourist map when its fabulous beaches were discovered.

Today Kovalam has become one of the most popular beach hangouts in India. Kovalam means a grove of coconut trees and truly the coconut trees along the beaches gives it a ravishing look.

The palm-fringed bays in secluded coconut groves, promise a relaxed stay. The boundless blue waters of the Arabian Sea and miles of white sands washed away by the surf at the feet of the stalwart palms and the rocky promontories, makes this beach paradise. This marvellous beach is a tourist's dream come true.

A sheltered natural bay with cool soothing palms and gentle waves. Where when you are tired of aquatics, swimming or sunbathing, you can explore the handicrafts, jewellery and cloth shops spread along the waterfront. Not to speak of the delightful sea-food fare including lobsters available at the beachside restaurants.

The crescent-shaped beaches of Kovalam can be divided in three parts. The southern most beach, and the most popular, is the Lighthouse Beach. Further south on the beach one can have a spectacular view of the Vizhinzam mosque. Photography is prohibited here.

The middle beach is called Hawah. Each morning this beach acts as a base for the local fisherman. The northern most beach, Samudra, is least affected of all by the changing times.It is dotted with few rudimentary wooden fishing vessels.

In the evening the quiet atmosphere of the place is enlivened by Kathakali performances, the classical dance-drama of Kerala. This mellow Kerala coastal village was once a picturesque settlement built next to two palm-fringed coves enclosed by rocky headlands, but development has been almost unplanned.

There's a plethora of places to stay, ranging from cheap concrete boxes to up-market resorts, and a large number of under-equipped restaurants catering to standard Asian travellers' menus. The ITDC-run Ashoka and the Kerala tourism department's 'Samudra' at the Kovalam beach provide five-star accommodation.

There are other hotels as well to suit every pocket. Kovalam is developing not only as a beach resort but is fast developing as a Yoga and health center. One can have Ayurvedic massages and oil baths or learn the intricacies and dynamics of Yoga and meditation taught by experts.

Kovalam can be reached by direct and regular bus services from Thiruvananthapuram. Buses also link the place from Ernakulam, Kanyakumari and Periyar wildlife sanctuary. Thiruvananthapuram Airport and Railway head serves the requirements of Kovalam.

HOW TO REACH KOVALAM

Kovalam can be reached by direct and regular bus services from Thiruvananthapuram. Buses also link the place from Ernakulam, Kanyakumari and Periyar wildlife sanctuary. Thiruvananthapuram Airport and Railway head serves the requirements of Kovalam.

Air: Trivandrum is an important entry point into India with connecting flights to Maldives, Sri Lanka and many countries to the West of Arabian Sea and many other important ports.

Rail: Trivandrum is an important railway terminus on the south-western coast with train services from all parts of the country. With in the region too Trivandrum is connected with express train services to all major centres.

Road: At the junction of four National Highways Nos.7, 17, 45 and 47 Trivandrum is covered by very good network of roads that links the city to all parts of the southern India.

PLACES TO STAY AT KOVALAM

There's a plethora of places to stay, ranging from cheap concrete boxes to up-market resorts, and a large number of under-equipped restaurants catering to standard Asian travellers' menus. The ITDC-run Ashoka and the Kerala tourism department's 'Samudra' at the Kovalam beach provide five-star accommodation. There are other hotels as well to suit every pocket.

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MUNNAR

 
Location: Idukki District, Kerala
Altitude: 1600 m Above Sea Level.
Best Season: September To May
Main Languages : Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi And English

Munnar is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams namely Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala.

This hill station, located at an altitude of 1600 m above sea level, was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British government in South India. Sprawling tea plantations, picture book towns, winding lanes and holiday facilities make this a popular resort town. Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands is the 'Neelakurinji'.

Munnar also has the highest peak in south India, Anamudi, which towers over 2695 m. Anamudi is an ideal spot for trekking.

 

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

Mattupetti (13 km from Munnar):
Situated at a height of 1700 m, Mattupetti is famous for its highly specialised dairy farm, the Indo-swiss live stock project. Over 100 varietes of high yielding cattle are reared here. Visitors are allowed into three of the eleven cattle sheds at the farm.

The Mattupetti Lake and dam, just a short distance from the farm, is a very beautiful picnic spot. The sprawling Kundala tea plantations and the Kundala lake are other attractions in the vicinity. DTPC Idukki provides boating facilities on the Mattupetty Dam. Speed Launch and slow speed motor boats are available on hire.

Pothamedu (6 km from Munnar):
Pothamedu offers an excellent view of the tea, coffee and cardamom plantations in Munnar. The rolling hills, the lush mountain and the breathtaking scenery here is ideal for trekking and long mountain walks.

Pallivasal (8 km from Munnar):
This is the venue of the first Hydro Electric Project in Kerala and a place of immence scenic beauty.

Attukal (9 km from Munnar):
A panorama of waterfalls and rolling hills, Attukal, located between Munnar and Pallivasal, is a feast for the eyes. The place is also ideal for long treks.

Nyayamakad (10 km from Munnar):
Located between Munnar and Rajamala, Nyayamakad is a land of breathtaking waterfalls. The waters cascade down a hill from a height of about 1600 meters. The enchanting surroundings makes an excellent picnic spot and trekking point.

Chithirapuram (10 km from Munnar):
With its sleepy little cottages, bungalows, old playgrounds and courts, Chithirapuram still exudes an old world charm. Home of the Pallyvasal Hydel Power Project, this hill town is also famous for its picturesque tea plantations.

Lock Heart Gap (13 km from Munnar):
This is an ideal place for adventure tourism and trekking. The fresh mountain air, the mist-clad hills and panoramic view make it worthy of a visit.

Rajamala (15 km from Munnar):
The natural habitat of the Nilgiri Tahr,Rajamala is 2695 m above sea level. Half the world's population of the rare mountain goat or tahr, which is fast becoming extinct, is now found here.

The Nilgiri Tahr in Rajamala is now to be found in small herds found in Eravikulam-Rajamala region. The total number of Nilgiri Tahrs in Rajamala is estimated to be over 1300. Visitors are not allowed during the monsoon.

Echo Point (15 km from Munnar):
This scenic place gets its name from the natural echo phenomenon here. Echo point is on the way to Top Station from Munnar.

Eravikulam National Park (15 km from Munnar):
The 97 sq. kms park is situated in the Devikulam Taluk and is home to the Nilgiri Tahr. The Anamudi peak (2695 m) is located in the Southern region of the park. Originally established to protect the Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiri Ibex), the Eravikulam National Park is situated in the Devikulam Taluk of the Idukki District.

It was declared as a sanctuary in 1975. Considering the ecological, faunal, floral, geo-morphological and zoological significance, it was declared as a National park in 1978. It covers an area of 97 sq kms of rolling grasslands and high level sholas (evergreen forests).

The park is breathtakingly beautiful and is easily comparable to the best mountain ranges found anywhere in the world. The park is divided into 3 regions - the core area, the buffer area and the tourism area.

Visitors are allowed only to the tourism area, which is in the Rajamala region. The Nilgiri Tahr can be observed at close quarters here. Trekking facilities are available here. Tourists are allowed to go on foot up to Anamudi. This is also a place for adventure tourism.

Trekking Areas :
Anamudi, Rajamala.

Power House or Chinnakanal Waterfalls (18 km from Munnar):
The waterfall on the way to Thekkady from Munnar cascades down a steep rock 2000 m above sea level. The spot is enriched with the scenic Western mountain ranges, and is an ideal place for a break on the way to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady.

Kundala (20 km from Munnar):
Kundala is a picturesque town on the way to Top Station. The Golf Course which belongs to Tata Tea Ltd. is located here. The Kundala artificial dam is another attraction. Aruvikkad Waterfall is also near Kundala.

EXCURSIONS

Anayirangal (22 kms from Munnar):
It's a lush green carpet of tea plants. A trip on the splendid reservoir is an unforgettable experience. The Anayirangal dam is surrounded by Tata Tea plantations and evergreen forests. It is an ideal picnic spot.

Devikulam (7 kms from Munnar):
This idyllic hill station with its velvet lawns, exotic flora and fauna and the cool mountain air offers a rare experience to visitors. The Sita Devi Lake with its mineral waters and picturesque surroundings is a good picnic spot. The lake is also ideal for trout fishing.

Valara (10 kms from Adimali on the Kochi-Madurai highway):
Valara has a chain of waterfalls surrounded by thick green forests.

Marayoor (40 kms from Munnar):
This is the only place in Kerala that has a natural growth of sandalwood trees. The sandalwood factory of the forest department, the caves (muniyaras) with the murals and relics from the New stone age civilization and the children's park spread across a hectare of land under the canopy of a single banyan tree, are of great interest to tourists. Thoovanam waterfalls and Rajiv Gandhi National Park are also nearby.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: Near by airports are at Kochi (130 kms) and Madurai (142 kms).
Rail: Nearest railway stations are at Kochi and Kottayam.
Road: The place is well connected by a well developed network of road transport.
Local transport: Local buses, cycles.

PLACES TO STAY

Windermere Estate.
Mahindra Resorts.
Fort Munnar.
Periyar Mist Valley.
Bluemount, Chinnakal.
Royal Retreat. Elseem Garden.
Western Cottage.
Marthoma Rest House.
Misha Tourist Home.
Idukki Tower, Thodupuzha.
Gemini Tourist Home, Thodupuzha.

TOURIST INFORMATION

Tourist Information Centre: District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) Information Centre, Old Munnar; District Tourism Office, Kumily.
Banks and Money Changers: State Bank Of Travancore, State Bank Of India.
Post Office: Main Post Office, Munnar.
Hospitals: Tata General Hospital, Matha Hospital, Arun Hospital.
Ayurvedic Massage Centre: Surya Ayurvedic Health Resorts.
Spices And Fresh Strawberries: DTPC, Munnar.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Altitude: 5000-8000 Feet Above Sea Level.
Area: 26.2 sq. kms.
Rainfall: 275 cms.
Temperature:
Summer: Max: 25.8°C, Min: 15.2°C
Winter: Max: 10°C, Min: 0°C
Clothing:
Winter: Woollen
Summer: Cotton

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PERIYAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY

 
Location: Kerala
Also Known as: Thekkady Wildlife Sanctuary
Main Species of animals found: Elephants, Tigers, Spotted Deer
Best Season: October to June

One of the well known wildlife sanctuaries in the south, Periyar sanctuary attracts a large number of nature lovers every year. Also called the Thekkady Wildlife Sanctuary, this place is ideal for watching the animals in their natural habitat.

The forest here, slopes into the manmade lake at the bottom of the hill. This lake serves as the waterhole for the animals and they come here to drink or take a dip. Elephants, Gaur, Sambhar and even tigers can be spotted here.

There are boat services which takes the visitor around the lake. The best season to visit the park is between October and June. Spread over 777 sq.km of the Cardamom Hills of Western Ghats, the Periyar sanctuary is located 137 km from Madurai.

Although an excursion on the splendid artificial lake is the standard way to experience the sanctuary, you can also walk around with the local guide in a small group. Wild Elephant herds come to the lake to frolic in the water.

Other attractions of the sanctuary are the Sambhar, Bison, Spotted Deer, Tigers, Leopards, Malabar Flying Squirrels, Stripe necked Mongooses, etc. There are over 260 species of birds here, including Nilgiri Wood Pigeons, blue-winged Parakeets, White bellied Tree Pies, laughing Thrushes and Fly Catchers.

NEARBY TRAVEL ATTRACTIONS

Kumily : Kumily a plantation town is closely associated with Thekkady, it is situated on the outskirts of the Periyar Sanctuary. It is an important shopping centre and spice trade centre, the main bus station and most of the medium range accommodation in the Periyar region is in Kumily.

Murikkady : Washed in fresh spice scented air, Murikkady is a panorama of cardamom, coffee and pepper plantations.

Pandikuzhi : This picturesque place lies between Chellarkovil and the Tamil Nadu State border. It is a popular picnic spot. Pandikuzhi offers great opportunities for trekking and is a photographer's delight.

Vandiperiyar : The river Periyar flowing through the centre of this town serves as a source of nourishment for its vast tea, coffee and pepper plantations. A major trade centre, Vandiperiyar is also home to a number of tea factories. The Government Agriculture Farm and Flower Gardens have a delightful array of rose plants, orchids and anthurium.

HOW TO REACH PERIYAR

Air: The nearest national airports are Cochin (200 km) and Madurai (140 km).

Rail: The nearest major rail junction is Kottayam.

Road: Well connected by bus service to the major cities.

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KERALA BACKWATERS

 
Location of Backwaters : Kerala, South of India
World Famous : As An Important Tourist Attraction of Kerala, India
Significance : Major Means of Transport, Irrigational Source
Main Backwater Districts: Alappuzha, Kottayam, Kollam

THE ENCHANTINGLY PLACID BACKWATERS OF KERALA
Fringing the coast of Kerala and winding far inland is an intricate network of innumerable Lagoons, Lakes, Canals, Estuaries and the Deltas of forty-four rivers that drain into the Arabian Sea.

Over 900 kms of this labyrinthine water world is navigable. As characteristic of Kerala as the 600km long coastline of dazzling beaches is the dense, lush Backwaters of the Kerala state.

And while hill stations are all over the country and palm-fringed beaches too, the Backwaters are unique to Kerala. These Backwaters are both the basis of a distinct lifestyle and a fascinating thoroughfare. Travelling by boat along the Backwaters is one of the highlights of Kerala.

The boats cross shallow, palm-fringed lakes studded with cantilevered Chineses fishing nets and travel along narrow shady canals, where Coir, Copra, and Cashews are loaded into the boats. The largest backwater stretch in Kerala is the Vembanad Lake, which flows through three districts and opens out into the sea at the Kochi port.

Backwaters are the accumulation of Sea Water at the sea beach during the to-fro motion of sea-waves in the form of lagoons, esturies etc. Today, Kerala Backwaters has become the most exciting tourist spot in India.

The Ashtamudi Lake (literally, having eight arms), which covers a major portion of Kollam district in the south, is the second largest and is considered the gateway to the Backwaters. Each district of Kerala is marked by the presence of the inviting Backwaters, which form a prominent part of the panoramic landscape of Kerala.

BACKWATER CRUISE
The most popular backwater cruise is the eight-hour trip between Kollam and Alappuzha and vice versa. The regular public ferry service on this route has been suspended but tourist boats are as popular as ever.

There are essentially identical daily cruises operated on alternate days by the Private Alleppy Tourism Development Co-Operative and the State Government's District Tourism Promotion Council.

THE DWINDLING ECOLOGICAL BALANCE
Although the backwaters have become an important tourist destination, they are severely threatened by the population growth and industrial and agricultural development.

The attractive African Moss that often carpets the surface of the narrower waterways, is a menace to small craft traffic and starves underwater life of light.

It is a symptom of many serious ecological problems currently affecting the region, whose population density ranges from two and four times that of other coastal areas in southwest India.

This has put immense pressure on land and hence a greater reliance on fertilizers, which eventually make their way into the water causing the build up of moss. Illegal land reclamation poses the single largest threat to the already fragile eco-system.

The Naked Truth
In a little over a century, the total area of water in Kuttanad has been reduced to two-thirds, while mangrove swamps and fish stocks have been decimated by pollution and the spread of towns and villages around the edges of the backwater region. Kerala has 29 major lakes on the backwater system, seven of which drain into the sea.

Its estimated that the area of these lakes has fallen from 440 sq. kms in 1968 to less than 350 sq. kms due to illegal and legal land reclamation projects and urban development.

The vast Vembanad lake has dropped from 230sq. kms to 179 sq. kms. Ecological damage includes pollution, the extinction of mangroves, crocodiles and migratory fish and the destruction of oyster beds.

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LADAKH

 
Location: Northern Most Part Of J&K
Altitude: 9,000m
Also Known As: The Moonland, Little Tibet, The Last Shangri La
Significance: The Remotest Region Of India.

THE LAST SHANGRI LA
Ladakh is a land like no other. Bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalayas and the Karakoram, it lies athwart two other, the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range .

In geological terms, this is a young land, formed only a few million years ago by the buckling and folding of the earth's crust as the Indian sub-continent pushed with irresistible force against the immovable mass of Asia. Its basic contours, uplifted by these unimaginable tectonic movements, have been modified over the millennia by the opposite process of erosion, sculpted into the form one sees today by wind and water.

A Virtually Rainless Area
Today, a high -altitude desert, sheltered from the rain-bearing clouds of the Indian monsoon by the barrier of the Great Himalayas, Ladakh was once covered by an extensive lake system, the vestiges of which still exist on its south -east plateaux of Rupshu and Chushul - in drainage basins with evocative names like Tso-moriri, Tsokar, and grandest of all, Pangong-tso.

Occasionally, some stray monsoon clouds do find their way over the Himalaya, and lately this seems to be happening with increasing frequency. But the main source of water remains the winter snowfall. Drass (also spelt as Dras), Zanskar and the Suru Valley on the Himalaya's northern flank receive heavy snow in winter; this feeds the glaciers whose melt water, carried down by streams, irrigates the fields in summer.

For the rest of the region, the snow on the peaks is virtually the only source of water. As the crops grow, the villagers pray not for rain, but for sun to melt the glaciers and liberate their water. Usually their prayers are answered, for the skies are clear and the sun shines for over 300 days in the year.

Leh - Capital of Ladakh
Leh, the capital of Ladakh is situated at a height of 3505 meters. Leh is a beautiful destination with so many attractions and is the center of Tibeto-Buddhist Culture for ages. Its colorful gompas have attracted the devout Buddhists from all over the globe. Besides, it is also a favorite hiking locale and is known for some of the best hikes in the country.

Weather of The Cold Desert
Ladakh lies at altitudes ranging from about 9,000 feet (2,750m) at Kargil to 25,170 feet (7,672m) at Saser Kangri in the Karakoram. Thus summer temperatures rarely exceed about 27° C in the shade, while in winter they may plummet to -20° C even in Leh. Surprisingly, though, the thin air makes the heat of the sun even more intense than at lower altitudes; it is said that only in Ladakh can a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time!

What to Do and See in Ladakh
Ladakh has nonetheless retained a more tranquil side, and is a pleasant place to unwind after a long bus journey. Attractions in and around the town itself include the former Palace and Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, perched amid strings of prayer flags above the narrow dusty streets of the Old Quarter. Ladakh is also a good base for longer day trips out into the Indus Valley. Among the string of picturesque villages and Gompas within reach by bus are Shey, site of a derelict 17th century palace, and the Spectacular Tikse Gompa. Untill one has adjusted to the altitude, however, the only sightseeing one will probably feel up to will be from a guesthouse roof terrace or garden, from where the snowy summits of the majestic Stok-Kangri massif (6,120m ).
Ladakh offers great opportunities for undertaking adventure activities amidst landscapes of breathtaking, rugged beauty. The most popular and best established among these are trekking, mountaineering and river rafting.

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LAKSHADWEEP ISLAND

 
Location : 400 kms west of the coast of Kerala
Status : Tiniest Union Territory of India
Language : Malayalam, English
Attractions : Kavaratti, Minicoy, Bangaram, Agatti

People and Culture
Ethnically, the people of the islands are very similar to the people of Kerala, even their language is the same except in Minicoy where Mahl is spoken. As Muslims, they have conservative customs and traditions and yet they are liberal in approach.

Each island, has several mosques. Ladies are not permitted to enter.

Non-availability of drinking water accounts for a number of islands being uninhabited.

Not much is known of the early history of Lakshadweep. From the 7th century onwards, however, enough evidence exists to piece together a history of the islands. The people converted to Islam under the influence of Hazrat Ubaidullah who set off from Mecca after Prophet Mohammed appeared to him in a dream, commanding him to leave for distant shores to propagate Islam. The ship on which Hazrat Ubaidullah was sailing was wrecked and after drifting on a plank of wood he reached the island of Amini where his mission met with fierce opposition.

After many difficulties he was able to carry out his mission, and to this day, the people of Lakshadweep follow Islam. Traces of the old culture still linger however; despite the influence of Islam, a caste system still prevails based on occupation- landowners, sailors and cultivators. Although Madrassas in all the islands impart religious instruction to school-going children, many individuals bear two names.

History comes alive in folk ballads that women chant during their house - hold chores. Events of the past - the arrival of Hazrat Ubaidullah in Lakshadweep, the plunder of the islands by the Portuguese, have been perpetuated by the balladeer.

Economy
Coconut cultivation and fishing are the chief occupations of the people, whose folklore and customs are, not surprisingly, largely derived from the sea.

Boat building was once an important skill. Sadly, after the advent of motorised boats, this has reduced considerably. However, majestic wooden boats anchored along the shore stand silent testimony to a fragment of the past. Boats were built for fishing, for navigation from one end of the island to another, for inter- island communication, for transporting coconuts and dried fish to the mainland and returning with food supplies, as well as for friendly competitive races Each boat was built differently, according to its function and every island has its own slight variation in design. This meant that just sighting a boat approaching the shore was indication enough of which island it came from. The people of Lakshadweep are often commended for their honesty. The absence of crime in the islands is laudable. The most obvious testimony to this is the profusion of gold ornaments worn by the women, young children are allowed to wander around alone wearing chunky jewellery is a pointer to a way of life that one hopes will continue into the future.

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LUCKNOW

 
Location: 79-km From Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
Significance: Capital City Of Uttar Pradesh
Best Time To Visit: September & October

Lucknow is caught in a time warp. It exists in an in-between land of the past and the present looking back constantly to the memories of a colonial-Nawabi past. There is at the same time a sense of pride at the thought of being after Delhi, the most important center of power in free India. Politics has indeed been Lucknow's forte but culture has been its historical identification.

Nawabi legacy: Despite the Indo-Persian legacy, Lucknow has a composite Indian culture. The welding of various cultural strains nurtured by centuries of Mughal and later Delhi Sultanate rule, to the folk traditions of the Indo-Gangetic plains has produced a complex, yet rich synthesis. The Urdu language acquired its baffling phonetic nuances and suave perfection here. It was in Nawab Wajed Ali Shah's court that the most advanced of all classical Indian dance forms, the Kathak , took shape. The popular Parsi theatre originated from the Urdu theatre of this city. The tabla and the sitar were first heard on the streets of Lucknow.

Naming Lucknow: Lucknow-the name can be traced to the epic Ramayana. After 14 years of exile when Lord Ramchandra returned to Ayodhya , he gifted this place to his younger brother Lakshman. Lakshman is believed to have stayed in Lakshman Teela, a high ground near the banks of the river Gomti. Later the region was named after him; 'Lucknow' is derived from the name Lakshman. There are other stories that do the rounds: Lucknow was named after a very influential person called 'Lakhan Ahir' who built the fort 'Qila Lakhan'. The name 'Qila Lakhan' later became Lucknow. Some other source says that one Lakhu Khan who was earlier a non-Muslim by name Laxman Singh has lent his name to Lucknow.

Old City: The ravages of time has left its mark on Chowk, the oldest street of Lucknow. But a walk through of the streets is still a memorable experience because of the series of unfolding scenes. The rhythm of hammers beating silver into paper, the smell of flowers, the fragrance of ittar, the fineness of chikan embroidery and the mouthwatering aroma of roasting meat at a kabab shop. Venturing beyond the streets into the bylanes you confront a private world of courtesans' houses with their many stories and anecdotes, past and present.

The Raj Connection: In the annals of Indian history, Lucknow forms the traditional link between tradition and modernity, the decline of the Mughals and the rise of the British. The timing of its rise, however, cut short Lucknow's cultural effluence. The land of etiquette and manners, of the 'pehle aap' tehzeeb received a serious jolt with the siege of the British Residency during the great revolt in 1857. Eager for revenge, the last Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, proved a suitable scapegoat. Awadh was annexed on the pretext of administrative failure and the Nawab was packed off to Calcutta with a pension.

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MADHYA PRADESH - BHIMBETKA

 
Location : 40 kms from Bhopal
Known For : Its historical cave paintings

Madhya Pradesh is called the "Heart of India" because of its location in the centre of the country. It has been home to the cultural heritage of Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. Innumerable monuments, exquisitely carved temples, stupas, forts and palaces are dotted all over the state.

The temples of Khajuraho are world-famous for their erotic sculptures, and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gwalior is famous for its fort, Jai Vilas Palace, the Tomb of Rani Lakshmibai, Md. Ghaus & Tansen.

Madhya Pradesh is also known as Tiger State because of the tiger population. Famous national parks like Kanha National Park, Bandhavgadh, Madhav National Park, Shivpuri, Pench are located in Madhya Pradesh. Kuno Palpur national park is getting African cheetas and is expected to become only reserve having four species of big cats (lion, tiger, leopord and cheetah). Spectacular mountain ranges, meandering rivers and miles and miles of dense forests offering a unique and exciting panorama of wildlife in sylvan surroundings. Madhya pradesh is very much known for Narmada river, is the oldest known holiest and worshiped as a river goddess in Hindu religion. Narmada originates from Amarkantak, a wild reserve is known for it's natural beauty, and it is a pilgrimage centre for Hindus. Another great tourist destination is Bhedaghat Falls in Jabalpur. The river narmada takes the form of massive falls here. The place is surrounded by marble of various colors. The sight is a visual treat in itself. The prime attraction includes boating in the river with amusing commentary by the rower.

Surrounded by the northern fringe of the Vindhyan ranges, Bhimbetka lies 40 km south of Bhopal. In this rocky terrain of dense forest and craggy cliffs, over 700 rock shelters were recently discovered, belonging to the Neolithic age. Here, in vivid, panoramic detail, paintings in over 500 caves depict the life of the prehistoric cave dwellers, making the Bhimbetka group an archaeological treasure, an invaluable chronicle in the history of man.

Executed mainly in red and white with the occasional use of green and yellow, with themes taken from the every day events of aeons ago, the scenes usually depict hunting, dancing, music, horse and elephant riders, animals fighting, honey collection, decoration of bodies, disguises, masking and household scenes. Animals such as bisons, tigers, lions, wild boar, elephants, deer, antelopes, dogs, monkeys, lizards, crocodiles etc. have been abundantly depicted. In some caves, popular religious and ritual symbols also occur frequently. The superimposition of paintings shows that the same canvas was used by different people at different times.

The drawings and paintings can be classified under seven different periods:

Period I- (Upper Paleolithic) : These are linear representations, in green and dark red, of huge figures of animals such as bisons, bears, tigers, and rhinoceroses.

Period II - (Mesolithic) : Comparatively smaller in size, the stylized figures in this group show linear decoration on the body. In addition to animals, this group shows human figures and hunting scenes giving a clear picture of the weapons they used: barbed spears, pointed sticks, bows and arrows. The depiction of communal dances, birds, musical instruments, mother and child, pregnant women, men carrying dead animals, drinking and burials appear in rhythmic movement.

Period III- (Chaleolithic) : Similar to the paintings of Chaleolithic pottery, these drawings reveal that during this period the cave dwellers of this area had come in contact with the agricultural communities of the Malwa plains and started exchange of their requirements with each other.

Period IV & V - (Early Historic) : The figures of this group have a schematic and decorative style, and are painted mainly in red, white and yellow. The association of riders, depiction of religious symbols, tunic-like dresses and the existence of scripts of different periods, classify this group as being within the historical period. The religious beliefs are represented by figures of Yaksha, tree gods and magical sky chariots.

Period VI & VII - (Medieval) : These paintings are geometric, linear and more schematic but they show degeneration and crudeness in their artistic style, The colors used by the cave dwellers were prepared by a combination of manganese, hematite, soft red stone and wooden coal. Sometimes the fat of animals and extracts of leaves were also used in the mixture. The colors have remained intact for many centuries due to the chemical reaction resulting from the oxide present on the surface of the rocks.

How to Reach

By Air : Bhopal (28 km from Bhojpur, and 40 km from Bhimbetka) is the nearest airport. It is connected with Bombay, Delhi, Indore and Gwalior. By Rail: Bhopal, on the Delhi-Madras and Delhi-Bombay mainline is the most convenient rail-head.

By Bus : Both Bhojpur and Bhimbetka are connected by bus with Bhopal. Bhopal is also the most convenient base for visiting Sanchi.

Best Season : September to March.

Where to Stay in Bhopal

Hotel Palash (M.P. Tourism) Tel: 553006, 553076 Ashok Lake view (ITDC) Tel: 541600-3
Hotel Panchanan (M.P. Tourism) Tel: 551647 Jehan Numa Palace Tel: 540107-3
Hotel Raj Tilak Tel: 554102 Ramsons International Tel: 75298-9
Youth Hostel Tel: 553670 Hotel Mayur Tel: 50319

 

 

 

 

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SANCHI STUPA

 
Location : Madhya Pradesh
Capital : Bhopal
Tourist Attractions : Bhopal, Sanchi, Gwalior, Khajuraho, Ujjain, Indore and Mundu
Best Time To Visit : October to March.

Sanchi has been famous for the Stupas which were built on the top of a hill. The purpose of these stupas was mostly religious. The most likely use of the stupas has been said to keep the relics. Some of these stupas have been found containing relics of disciples of Buddha. The stupas date as early as the 3rd century and are built in brick made of stone. Though most of the stupas are in ruins now three remain intact and are of great archaeological value. The designs and the carvings on the walls and gates of these stupas spell a heavenly grace and are very tastefully done.

Great Stupa No. 1 - This is one of the oldest stupas in India. 36.5 m in diameter and 16.4 m high with a hemispherical dome this massive structure was constructed by Ashoka in the 3rd century B.C. But the whole structure was enlarged later. Today the original brick structure by Ashoka is inside the enlarged stone one. The stupas of Sanchi stand on the top of a hill. There are four entrances to the great stupa. A railing encircles the stupa. The entrance is through the magnificently carved gates or as they call it the Torans. These Torans are one of the finest example of Buddhist art in India and are best works at Sanchi. The path to the stupa has been smoothen by the centuries of pilgrims visiting the place. Near the stupa stands a Chunar sandstone pillar which has some edicts by Ashoka which warns against the schism within Buddhism.

Stupa No. 2 - This is second stupa on the Sanchi hill. This again a very good example of the Buddhist architecture. The stupa stands on the very edge of the hill. Though there are no entrance to this stupa, it attracts visitors for the stone balustrade which encircles it. The wall of stupa is decorated with medallions. But the seems to be an imagination of a child as they depict animals, flowers people and scenes from the mythology.

Stupa No. 3 - The third stupa is located near Great Stupa. This stupa is crowned by a polished stone umbrella. The crown denotes some religious significance. There is only one entrance to this third stupa, In the stupa the relics of Sariputta and Mahamogallena were discovered. These two were the earliest disciples of Buddha. The relics were carried to England in 1853 and were returned to Sanchi in 1953.Holds masterpieces of Buddhist Art.

Located approx. at 46 Kms from Bhopal Airport, and the most convenient railhead in Vidisha (10 Kms), is also well connected by motorable roads. State Tourism's Boarding and Lodging is easily available.

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BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK

 
Location: Umaria, Madhya Pradesh
Park Area: 448 sq km.
Famous For: The density of tiger population is among the highest in India.
Best Time To Visit: November to June.

Once part of the old Rewa state, Bandhavgarh national park is set amidst the Vindhya ranges with a series of ridges running through it. Initially this park was the royal hunting ground for the rulers of Rewa. But in 1968 it was declared a park with an area of only 105.4 sq. km. At present, however, the Bandhavgarh Park covers 448 sq km.

The density of tiger population is among the highest in India. The tigers once roamed freely here but due to extensive hunting (Maharaja Venkat Raman Singh shot 111 tigers by 1914), their population came down drastically. Numerous steps were taken to conserve the wildlife here without spoiling the natural beauty of the park. Even today, the Bandhavgarh national park has retained its unspoilt look.

The Bandhavgarh National Park is the place where the famous white tigers of Rewa were discovered. The last known capture of the white tiger was in 1951. He is believed to have fathered many a cub in Indian zoos and outside. 'Mohun' is now stuffed and on display in the palace of the Maharaja of Rewa.

Bandhavgarh is densely populated with other animal species too. The great gaur, Indian bisons can be easily spotted when they come to graze on the meadows at dusk. The sambar, barking deer and nilgai are also common sights in the open areas of the park.

The ancient fort of Bandhavgarh adds grace to the park. Climb the fort to get a bird's eye view of the park. Do not miss the small population of naughty black bucks that live here, protected from the predators below.

Bandhavgarh National Park Population :
The vegetation of the park is dry deciduous. About half of the park is covered with sal trees. There are mixed forests in the higher reaches of the hills. Stretches of Bamboo and grasslands extend to the north of the park. Grassy meadow patches occur in the valley and along the nalas. The park sustains all those species which are typical to Central India.

There are 22 species of mammals which include langurs and rhesus macaque as the primary group. The jackal, bangal fox, bears, ratel, mongoose, hyena, jungle cat, leopard and tiger form the core carnivore population. The animals frequently sighted are wild pig, spotted deer, sambar, dhole, the small Indian civet, palm squirrel and lesser bandicoot rat are seen occasionally. Among the herbivores, the gaur is the only coarse feeder.

The national park holds some 250 odd species of birds along the streams and marshes. Reptilian fauna include cobra, krait, viper, rat snake, python, turtle and a large number of lizard varieties, including varanus.

Nearby Attractions :
The most fascinating and most popular excursion from the national park is to the Bandhavgarh fort. This fort is in ruins now but the strong high walls of the fort tell a saga of valour and splendour. The fort blends with the wilds of the park and has become a part of the park. No one knows when the fort was constructed but scripts as old as Shiv Purana have mention the fort which is believed to be almost 2000 years old.
The park in itself is historically very important. The signs of early habitation can be seen in the caves excavated from the cliffs to the north of the fort.Brahmi inscriptions here date back to the 1st century BC.

Bandhavgarh National Park Trips :
The park can be entered on elephant back and / or in a jeep or by car. In these safaris a forest department guide always accompanies you. He will direct and tell about the flora and fauna of the park. The best time to visit the park is early in the morning or after 4 p.m.It is during this time that the animals are most active and are easily spotted.

Climate :
There are three well defined seasons -- the cool (from middle of October to end of February), the hot (from middle of March to middle of June) and the wet (from middle of June to middle of October). The annual rainfall is 1.173 mm, coming mostly in the rainy season. The temperature ranges from a maximum of 42 D celsius in May and June, to around 4 D celsius in winter.

Best Time to Visit Bandhavgarh Park :
The best season to visit this park is between November to June. Rest of the year it is off season for the national park. Do not forget that the park is closed from 1st July to 31st October. These are monsoon months.

Accommodation in Bandhavgarh :
The forest department and the PWD have arranged good accommodation facilities here. The White tiger Forest Lodge is maintained by the Madhya Pradesh Tourist department. The forest department's rest house and the PWD rest house are sufficient to fulfill the needs of the visitors. For reservations contact the Madhya Pradesh tourist offices. Ask for the Bandhavgarh Jungle Camp from the forest officials or the reservation authorities.

How to go to Bandhavgarh :
By Air : The most convenient route to Bandhavgarh is by air to Khajuraho from where it is a five-hour drive( 237 km ).
By Rail : The nearest railway stations near Bandhavgarh are Jabalpur(164 km), Katni(102 km)on the Central Railway and Umaria (35 km) on the South Eastern Railway.
By Road : State/Private transport buses ply between Katni, Umaria Satna & Rewa. Taxis are available at satna, Jabalpur, Katni, Umaria, Bilaspur and Khajuraho.

For More Information :
Director, Bandhavgarh National Park,
P.O Umaria,
Dist. Shahdol,
Madhya Pradesh (India) - 484661

Reservation Authority (MPT hotels)--
Central reservations, Marketing Division,
MP State Tourism Development Corporation Limited,
4th floor, Gangotri, TT Nagar,
Bhopal (India) - 785612
Tel : (0755) 554340 - 43, 574289

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KANHA NATIONAL PARK

 
Location: Mandla, Madhya Pradesh
Park Area: 1940 sq km
Famous As: One of the Most Scenic and Beautiful Wildlife Reserves in Asia.
Best Time To Visit: February And April.

This is the place that has been described by Rudyard Kipling in his great book "The Jungle Book". Picture this thick sal forests, long bamboos, swaying grasslands and meandering rivers. This is what Kanha is all about. Located in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh, Kanha national park is a tiger reserve that extends over an area of over 1940 sq km. A horse-shoe shaped valley bounded by the spurs of the Mekal presents an interesting topography. Steep rocky escarpments along the edges offer breathtaking views of the valley.Realizing the danger on the Tiger population in the country, the Government started the "Project Tiger" at Kanha and in 1974 the area was declared a Tiger reserve. The park is also the habitat of the high ground Barasingha.

The park was created in 1955 by a special law and since then it has dedicated itself in preserving a variety of animal species. Many endangered species have indeed been saved here. Today Kanha is among the few most scenic and beautiful wildlife reserves in Asia.. This 'Tiger Country' is the ideal home for both predator and prey.

Park Population

It was at the Kanha national park that the first ever scientific study of the tiger was undertaken by the eminent zoologist George Schaller. Another landmark at Kanha is the preservation of the hard ground Barasingha .This was achieved by extending the grasslands, relocating villages and by increasing habitat.There are 22 species of mammals in the park. These are the three-stripe squirrels, variety of monkeys and apes, hyena, wild pigs, deers and black bucks. The Indian jackal, jungle cat, leopard, blue bull can also be spotted here.

The mixed forests and bamboo forests are good breeding and nesting grounds for many feathered species. There are almost 200 species of birds in Kanha. Many of them are found on the grasslands too. Some of them can be spotted around water holes. The ground opposite the Museum is also a good place to watch the birds at play. Take binoculars to watch them closely. Best time to observe the birds is in the morning and evening. The park also sustains a sizeable number of reptiles which are very difficult to spot.

Nearby Attractions

The Kanha national park in itself is so beautiful and full of adventure that no other local attraction is needed.But Bamni Dadar is one place which is visited by every tourist who come to the national park. This also known as the sunset point. The Kanha national park is at it scenic best at this point. The sunset from this spot is mesmerizing. The eminent natural splendor of the park comes to the fore here. The grazing sambars, barking deer, gaurs and other animals make the ambience magical.

Park Trips

Take a forest department guide to go around the park. Guides take you to the exact locations where animals can be seen at their natural best. touring is usually on jeeps. These jeeps can be hired from the MPTDC. Elephant safaris are mainly to spot tigers . Jeeps can be hired from the MPTDC manager at Kisli and Mukki. Remember to book the jeep one day before the journey. If there are more tourists then hiring jeeps can be troublesome. So reserve the vehicle well in advance during the peak season.

Climate

The climate of the park is very tropical. The summers are warm and winters cold. One should carry warm clothes during winters specially while travelling on jeep.

Best Time to Visit

The Kanha national park is closed from 1st July to 31st October . This being the rainy season, the animals prefer being in shelters than venture out. The best season to visit this park is between November and June.

Accommodation

There are many good facilities for staying at Kanha. The Krishna Jungle Resort is situated just before the main entrance of the Park. The tourism department and the forests department have made adequate arrangements at the park to give the visitors comfortable accommodation. But the lodges and rest houses are not in the park but at nearby Mukki or Kisli. The Kanha safari lodge is at Mukki, Baghira log huts at Kisli and Tourist lodge at Kisli are few of the government accommodation available. Apart from these there are private hotels and rest houses for the tourists. The forest lodge is maintained by the ITDC. Ask for the Kipling Camp.
There are canteens and hotels at Kisli where one get both Indian and western cuisines. The rates are reasonable and at times they are cheaper than the market rates.

Getting There

There are regular air services to Raipur and Nagpur (270 km) from other airports in india. One can also take the flight to Jabalpur (170 km). From these airports one has to drive to the park. The most convenient railheads for Kanha are Jabalpur and Nagpur. These two are well connected by fast and superfast trains other destinations in India.
To access the Kanha national park there are two ways via Khatia or Kisli. From Jabalpur there are daily bus services to these places. From Jabalpur, Bilaspur and Raipur one can hire taxis to the park. No vehicles are allowed inside the park after dark so get there before dusk.

For More Information

Field Director, Project Tiger,
Kanha National Park,
P.O Mandla,
Madhya Pradesh (India) - 484661

Reservation Authority (MPT hotels)--
Central reservations, Marketing Division,
MP State Tourism Development Corporation Limited,

4th floor, Gangotri, TT Nagar,
Bhopal (India) - 785612
Tel : (0755) 554340 / 42 / 43, 574289
Fax : (0755) 552384

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MAHARASHTRA - AJANTA CAVES

 
Location: 99-km From Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Significance: World Heritage Site
Total Caves: 30
Dates Back to: 2nd Century BC To 6th Century AD

Maharashtra is the most visited state in India by foreign tourists,[11] with more than 5.1 million foreign tourists arrivals annually. Maharashtra boasts of a large number of popular and revered religious venues that are heavily frequented by locals as well as out-of-state visitors.

Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus are the three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Maharashtra and are highly responsible for the development of Tourism in the state.

Mumbai is the most popular cosmopolitan city in India, and a great place to experience modern India. Mumbai is famous for Bollywood, the world's largest film industry. In addition, Mumbai is famous for its clubs, shopping, and upscale gastronomy. The city is known for its architecture, from the ancient Elephanta Caves, to the Islamic Haji Ali Mosque, to the colonial architecture of Bombay High Court and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Maharashtra also has numerous adventure tourism destinations, including paragliding, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Maharashtra also has several pristine national parks and reserves, some of the best ones are Tadoba with excellent accommodation and safari experiences besides little known by amazing wildlife destinations like Koyna, Nagzira (very small with incredible sightings), Melghat (disturbed with massive mining truck movement), Dajipur, Radhanagari and of course the only national park within metropolis city limits in the world – Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The Bibi Ka Maqbara at Aurangabad the Mahalakshmi temple at Kolhapur, the cities of Nashik, Trimbak famous for religious importance and the city of Pune the seat of the Maratha Empire and the fantastic Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations together contribute for the Tourism sector of Maharashtra.

Ajanta caves are located 99-km away from Aurangabad district in the state of Maharashtra. Ajanta caves were carved out from the 2nd century BC to 6th century AD. They were hidden in the midst of a lonely glen with a streamlet flowing down below. They were scooped out into the heart of the rock so that the pious Buddhist monk could dwell and pray.

These are the caves that the followers of Lord Buddha, embellished with architectural details with a skilful command of the hammer over the chisel, with sculpture of highest craftsmanship and above all, with the paintings of infinite charm. The entire course of the evolution of Buddhist architecture can be traced in Ajanta. During this time, images of Buddha interpreting his different life stories and several types of human and animal figures were carved out of rock in-situ.

Portraying The Contemporary World

All sections of people of the contemporary society from kings to slaves, women, men and children are seen in the Ajanta murals interwoven with flowers, plants, fruits, birds and beasts. There are also the figures of 'Yakshas', 'Kinneras' (half human and half bird) 'Gandharvas' (divine musicians), 'Apsaras' (heavenly dancers), which were of concern to the people of that time.

Discovery

When the echo of the chisel faded, the world forgot these cave temples, which were hidden for a long time under the thick undergrowth until a company of British soldiers accidentally discovered them in the 19th century.

Chaityas And Viharas

The Ajanta caves are dedicated solely to Buddhism. The caves including unfinished are thirty in number of which five (9, 10, 19, 26 and 29) are "Chaitya-Grihas" and the rest are "Sangharamas" or Viharas (monasteries). The caves 1, 2, 16 and 17 can be ranked high among the greatest artistic works of the contemporary world.

The 30 Chaityas and Viharas have paintings, which illustrate the life and incarnations of Buddha. The artist has lent his creativity in each work with an overwhelming sense of vitality. These paintings have survived time and till date the numerous paintings glowing on the walls make atmosphere very vibrant and alive. The contours of these figures leave the visitor spell bound.

Caves

In Cave 1 , Prince Buddha is depicted delicately holding the fragile blue lotus, his head bent sideways as if the weight of his ornate jewelled crown is too heavy for his head. His half-closed eyes give an air of meditation, almost of shyness.

One can also see the court scene in cave number 1, which is believed to be of conversion of 'Nanda', a fellow prince like Buddha who had decided to join Buddha's monastic order. It is in the female figures in the paintings of Ajanta that one sees the true mastery of the artist. Magnificent array of colours, hairstyles, poses and costumes can be seen in the paintings. Women in the paintings lean against the wooden pillar of a mandap, or hall, and look on at a group of female musicians accompanying a dancer.

Cave number 2 , which is one of the better-preserved monasteries with a shrine, shows how sculpture, paintings and architectural elements were used together to enhance the atmosphere of piety and sanctity.

The ceiling and wall paintings illustrate events associated with Buddha's birth. The scenes include Maya, Buddha's mother standing in the garden at Lumbini, a scene where Mahajanaka Jataka, the queen and her attendants can be seen. In cave number 2 Buddhist icons were sculpted according to a set of codified rules that used symbolic hand gestures and motifs such as the wheel, the deer, the throne and sacred Bodhi tree. Each represents a stage of Buddha's life.

The figure of the seated Buddha in the pose that depicts the teaching of the principles of the Middle Path is in the inner shrine of cave number 2. Also one can see varying hand gestures to depict the scene of Miracle of the Buddhas. A sculptured frieze of the miracle of "Sravasti", when Buddha multiplied himself a thousand times can be seen in cave 7 .

There are several Chaitya Grihas or prayer halls at Ajanta. The plan consists of a central nave with pillars, behind which is a circulatory passage. The hall is often apsidal in plan or with a curved back wall, possibly taken from a wooden design. Within the curved end a stone miniature Stupa, or emblem of Buddha, was carved to serve as the focal point of the prayer hall.

In cave 17 one can find the paintings that depict stories from the Jatakas or tales of the previous incarnations of Buddha and also Buddha with his right hand raised, with the palm facing the viewer, which is a symbol of "Abhaya" - reassurance and protection.

Buddha is shown seated in "Padmasana" - the lotus pose of meditation. He is often shown with his hair tied in a topknot surrounded by a halo of light, representing nirvana or enlightenment.

At one end of the Veranda is a scene identified by scholars as the scene from the "Vishvantara Jataka", of a prince who gave away his belongings in alms. This scene provides interesting information of contemporary wooden architecture, costumes and a glimpse of courtly life.

The best surviving examples of a rock cut Chaitya Griha can be seen in cave 19 at Ajanta. The elegant porch is topped by the distinctive 'horseshoe' shaped window - flanked by 'Yakshas' or guardians, standing Buddha figures and elaborate decorative motifs. The interior of the cave is profusely carved with pillars, a monolithic carved symbolic Stupa and images of Buddha, which heralded the introduction of Mahayana phase.

In cave 26 , Buddha is seen seated under a Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, meditating, when Mara and her voluptuous daughters attempted to tempt him. Buddha touched the earth with his left hand to witness his enlightenment. The "Parinivana" (ultimate enlightenment or liberation) came when Buddha left the world- as depicted in the 7m (23ft) image of the reclining Buddha in cave number 26.

Ajanta provides a unique opportunity to study the early phases of Buddhist sculpture, painting and architecture, which later influenced artistic traditions in Central Asia and the Far East.

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ELEPHANTA CAVES

 
Location: Near Mumbai
Carved Between: 9th And 12th Centuries AD
Designated As: World Heritage Site
Famous For: Lord Shiva temple

The Elephanta Island is the site of the magnificent Elephanta caves, containing beautiful carvings, sculptures, and a temple to the Hindu God, Lord Shiva. These caves are located at a distance of 11-km from Mumbai and are now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island of Elephanta, being a commercial, military and religions centre for centuries has traces of early Buddhist culture.

History

The Elephanta caves are thought to date back to the Silhara kings belonging to the period between 9th - 12th centuries. With the Brahminical resurgence during the reign of Gupta dynasty in 3rd century AD, these great cave dedicated to Lord Shiva exploded into existence at Elephanta. Legends and history suggest that the great warrior prince of Chalukya dynasty Pulkesin ll raised the shrine to celebrate his victory. Some historians also suggest that these caves were built by the Kalchuri King Krishnaraja in 6th century AD.

As the worship of the figure of the Buddha began to be encouraged with rise of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism, a shrine was introduced to house Buddha's image, replacing the cells at the centre of the back wall. The Monasteries of Ajanta lead us directly to Elephanta. It appears that the same families of craftsmen and sculptors who were working on the Kailasa temple of Ellora and adjoining Buddhist caves at Ellora were employed at Elephanta.

An Exquisite Ensample OF Rock-Cut Artistry

No doubt the cave was the creation of an unknown genius, a master architect, who having thoroughly absorbed and assimilated the magnificent contribution of his predecessors in the dual traditions of the independent free standing sculpture and rock-cut architecture, produced a monument which introduced a whole new world of form quite distinct from any previous achievement.

The island was the capital of the powerful coastal kingdom and the excavations of the caves in the 6th century added to the glory of the kingdom. Later the Portuguese took possession of the island and as they first found a monolith elephant the island was named Elephanta.

It is believed that the caves were used as target practice after they constructed a fort and put a flag to ward off pirates. Whatever the cause may be many of the sculptures have been desecrated. From the Portuguese, the Britishers captured the island and tried to find out who had build these caves, but failed. The Britishers planned to take the monolith elephant to England but they could not lift it. It is now kept in the Bombay Museum.

The Elephanta Caves And Temples

The island rises in two conical hillocks. The architect sculptors carved out of solid basalt rock create a representation of the heavenly mountain residence of Lord Shiva. Opening out from three sides, the temple lets in light from many angles making the sculptures seem to move with the changing angles of light.

Inside the temple is a large hall, with nine sculptured panels representing Lord Shiva in different moods. The temple plan is so symmetric with important focal points worked out in a geometric Mandala (the design that represents the energy field).

Flights of steps, which can prove to be very daunting, take one to the caves. One can also hire a chair to be carried up. Today the caves can be easily approached, but think of the time when the artisan used only the contours of the hill to reach the top and then chiselled out the basalt rocks to give it the shape of heavenly abode of Shiva. He has tried to create the cave similar to the one in which Shiva resides in the Himalayas.

The pillars inside the cave give an impression that these pillars support the roof. Again the cross beams on the roof makes the visitor feel there is a ceiling of the caves. The pillars have been deliberately kept simple as to attract the attention towards the exquisite carvings on the panels, which are nine in number. There are three opening to the caves, which allows light to enter from various angles in different seasons giving an expression that the images are moving with transition of light.

Elephanta - The World Of Lord Shiva

Elephanta is the place where the main events in the mythology of Lord Shiva are depicted most powerfully, consistently and exclusively. At Ellora though other Gods appear on the panel with Shiva, but at Elephanta there is nothing but Shiva. To spend a day at Elephanta is to spend a day outside of the world, or rather in another World, "the World of Shiva".

Carvings Depicting Lord Shiva In Various Forms

Elephanta caves are temples dedicated to Shiva. According to Hindu Mythology three Gods govern their world: Brahma -- the creator, Vishnu -- the Preserver and Maheshwara -- the Destroyer. Elephanta has a story that there was a pillar whose end could not be found. Even the Gods failed to determine the length of the pillar. Then "Lingobhava", Lord Shiva emerged from the temple and hence every body accepted that Lord Shiva is infinite, the Greatest of them all. The temples in the Elephanta caves and the carvings on the walls show Shiva in different moods and shapes, Lord Shiva practicing Yoga, Lord Shiva meditating with snakes coiled around his neck, at places He is in company of his wife, Parvati. Panel 6 of the caves represents the marriage of Shiva with Parvati with the rites being performed by Brahma and scores of other Gods attending the marriage. Panel 5 of the cave describes the coming of Ganga from heaven to Earth. As the great force of Ganga might have destroyed the Earth She lands in the hair locks of Shiva who then gently releases her. The wise and righteous Lord before whom the forces of evil and ignorance flee and are terrified into submission is carved on the 7th panel. Similarly other wall panels narrate the story of Lord Shiva. On the western end is the sanctuary of Linga denoting the essence of creative power, in which Lord Shiva is worshipped as the Lord of Fertility and Procreation. Two smaller shrines flank the eastern and the western entrances to the main cave. The sculptures here are badly mutilated, not much is known of the artists who designed and carved these caves representing Shiva in his paradoxical nature in different forms and moods. The architects must have been genius who dared to construct something which was totally different from what was being constructed in those days.

Best Time To Visit: Between November and March

HOW TO GET THERE

Boat: The Elephanta Island is accessible only by boat from the Gateway of India, Mumbai . A chugging ferry ride from the Gateway of India, surpassing the fishing boats, large ships, little islands, occasionally leaping fishes, reminding in its way down the ever changing face time and it takes 15 minutes to reach the Elephanta Island.

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation is available at the hotels in Mumbai.

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ELLORA CAVES

 
Location: 18 Miles From Aurangbad, Maharashtra
Belonging To: Hindu, Buddhist And Jain
Total Caves: 34
Carved Between: 5th And 10th Century AD

Ellora caves lay in the lap of the Chamadari hills extending over a mile and a quarter in the north-south direction and are situated 18 miles northwest of Aurangabad. Ellora represents some 300 years of great experiments carried out by different faiths with their very different iconography and structural compulsions. Ellora first appears to the visitors as an irregular ridge of rock, rising vertically from the ground.

History

Ellora caves are finest specimens of cave temple architecture. They house elaborate facades and exquisitely adorned interiors. These structures representing the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, were carved during 350 AD to 700 AD period.

The cave monuments of Ellora were chiefly patronised by the Chalukya - Rashtrakuta rulers (7th - 10th century AD). The kings and the mercantile community willingly donated to the cause of the temple building. Certain religious injunctions and the ethical codes, which prompted patronage of works of the art, governed the rulers. The temple building was considered to help the attainment of worldly power as well as religious merit and spiritual salvation.

These cave shrines are memorable for their invaluable contribution to the enormous wealth of Indian heritage.

Caves And Temples

In total there are 34 temples carved out of stone. These can be divided into three groups belonging roughly to three periods: Buddhist, Hindu and Jain. Only 12 of the 34 caves are Buddhist, but even these caves incorporate Hindu and Jain theme, demonstrating the gradual decline of Buddhism.

It took over five centuries for the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain monks to chisel out these monasteries, temples, and chapels and decorate them with remarkable imagination and detail. These caves run North-South and take on the Golden Radiance of the late afternoon sun.

The Buddhist Expression

Out of 34 caves, sixteen caves are the oldest in the group and were carved in the 5th century. As one enters these caves, one crosses graceful angles and steps in a high ceiling chamber where a 15 feet huge statute of Buddha is sitting in a preaching pose. In these caves the artist has tried an element of surprise by giving them expression of wood. Most of these 16 caves are 'Viharas' but cave number 10 is a 'Chaitya'.

The style of carvings and sculptures in these caves indicate that initially the artist was going in for simple decorations but later, as in caves 11 and 12, he became more ambitious.

The 10th cave has an impression of wooden beams on its ceiling and has a small decorated window, which illuminates the sitting Buddha. These caves are rightly called the "Vishvakarma" caves. This cave is considered to be one of the finest caves in India. Here life and religion go hand in hand. The amorous couples play joyfully along the balustrade.

While stepping out of this cave one will come across an upper gallery giving a view of the precisely carved Naga Queen, the harbinger of monsoon and the dwarfs who were the court entertainers. The Buddhists believe that Buddha returns after every five thousand years, thus the 12th cave has seven images of Buddha depicting his seven incarnations.

The Hindu Expression

The Hindu caves exhibit a totally different league from the Jain and Buddhist temples in terms of style, creative vision and execution skills. These temples were built top to bottom and the architecture of these caves show that it required several generation of planning and co-ordination to give it the final shape. Cave 14 was initially a Buddha Vihar but in the 7th century it was turned into Shiva temple. Here Shiva is depicted as "The Destroyer".

The 16th cave in the group is one of the audacious feats in architecture ever achieved. The idea was to build Kailash from a single stone. Hence it got its name, Kailasnath temple. The artist then tried to give the structure, the shape of a temple. The scale at which the work was undertaken is enormous. It covers twice the area of the Parthenon in Athens and is 11/2 times high, and it entailed removing 200,000 tonnes of rock. It took 100 years to be completed. The Ramesvara cave has figurines of river Goddesses adorning its entrance. The Dumar Lena cave resembles the great cave shrine at Elephanta and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The Jain Dedication

Each of the caves shows the beliefs of the Jains, and their strict asceticism that imbibed in them a spirit of non-violence towards all. These caves do not carry the high voltage drama of the Hindu or the Buddhist caves nor are they ambitious in size but they balance these with their exceptionally detailed work. The 32nd cave is a beautiful shrine with exquisite carvings of a lotus flower on the ceiling and an imposing 'Yakshi' seated on her lion under a mango-tree laden with fruit. The ceiling of this double-storied cave is also decorated with paintings.

Paintings

Mural paintings in Ellora are found in 5 caves, but only in the Kailasa temple are they somewhat preserved. The paintings were done in two series - the first, at the time of carving the caves and the subsequent one was done several centuries later. The earlier paintings show Vishnu and Lakshmi borne through the clouds by Garuda, with clouds in the background.

The sinewy figures have sharp features & pointed noses. The protruding eye typical of the later Gujarati style appears for the first time in Ellora. In the subsequent series, the main composition is that of a procession of Shaiva holy men. The flying 'Apsaras' are graceful. Very few murals in the Jain temples are well preserved.

Festival

Every year in the third week of March, M T D C organises the Ellora Festival of Classical Dance and Music at the caves.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: Aurangabad is the nearest airport from the cave site.

Rail: Aurangabad is the nearest railway station on South Central Railway Line. Mumbai - Aurangabad via Manmad is 388-km and via Pune it is 400-km.

Road:Aurangabad, being a major city of Maharashtra, is well connected by road. Tourists can take taxi from Aurangabad to access Ajanta and Ellora Caves. State buses run from Mumbai, Pune, Ahmednagar, Jalgaon, Shirdi, Nasik, Dhule, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Indore and Bijapur to Aurangabad, and from Jalgaon to Ajanta.

WHERE TO STAY

The M T D C Holiday Resort near Aurangabad railway station, the Ajanta Travellers Lodge at the caves and the M T D C Holiday Resort at Fardapur (about 4-km from Aurangabad) are some of the best options for accommodation for tourists visiting the cave sites apart from hotels at Aurangabad.

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SHIRDI

 
Location : Kopargam Taluk In Ahmadnagar District, Maharashtra
Presiding Deity: Sai Baba


Shiridi is a small village in Kopargam taluk, in Ahmadnagar district of the Maharastra State. Shirdi is a very sacred, powerful and important place of pilgrimage in India. Shirdi is about 285-km and 6 hours drive from Mumbai (Bombay).

Shirdi was a sleepy little village, tucked away in the interiors of Maharashtra. An old sage called Sai Baba lived in the village who was their mentor and prophet. Even today the last few surviving elders of the village vividly recall the miraculous wonders of the sage. He died in 1918 leaving behind grieving villagers.

After his death Sai Baba's fame has spread far and wide. His devotees are scattered all over the world. They regularly visit Shirdi to pay their homage to this great Saint. Sai Baba's shrine has been incorporated as one of the holy places in the world's map of pilgrimage. Sai Baba preached no particular religion. In fact, he believed in and respected all religions.

Samadhi Temple

Samadhi Temple was started during the lifetime of Sai Baba, with a view to having a temple of Sri Krishna but later when the construction was almost complete, Sai Baba said that he would stay over there.

So after Sai Baba attained Nirvana (eternal peace) His mortal remains were buried at the place. The white marble pavement of the Samadhi, which is seen now, was made afterwards. In 1954 the marble statue prepared by sculptor Sri Talini of Mumbai was installed by the side of the Samadhi. There is a spacious hall in front of the Samadhi, which is paved with marble tiles.

The hall is decorated with photos, of the saints and devotees of Sai Baba. After entering the hall one can see the statue of Sai Baba, in a sitting position. Devotees can have a look at the articles used by Sai Baba exhibited in a room, on the left side of the hall. There is a cellar below the room on the right side where valuables are kept. There is gallery and several rooms on the first floor.

Dwarkamayee Masjid

Baba lived Dwarkamayee Masjid for almost for 60 years. Sai Baba named this old Masjid as Dwarka Mai. During the day he used to sit on a big stone, which is still preserved. Once Baba said to His devotee, " This is Dwarawathi, who ever steps here will get health, and happiness and he will be freed from all difficulties". There used to be no doors to Dwarakamayi and Baba never spoke to any one in secret.

A portrait of Sai Baba, painted during His lifetime, is also kept here. One can see the sacred dhuni (fire) kindled by Sai Baba kept burning since then in front of the portrait. A grinding stone, a bathing stone, a wooden pillar, chulha (stove), padukas (slippers) and Tuls (Holy Basil) Vrindavan, which were used by Sai Baba are all maintained here. Rath (carriage) and the pallanquin are also kept here in a small room.

Chavadi

Towards the east of Dwarkamai there is a place called Chavadi where Sai Baba used to visit every alternate night. A number of portraits of deities are exhibited here since the days of Sai Baba. A wooden plank and a wheel chair brought for Baba but never used by Him are exhibited here.

Gurusthan

It is a place where Sai Baba used to sit under a neem (margosa) tree, leaves of which lost their bitterness due to the grace of Sai Baba. One can find a pot in front of the temple where incense is burnt day and night, wherein Lord Shivaa's pindi and Nandi are installed and padukas of Lord Sai Baba are also kept.

Lendibag And Nandadeep

Sai Baba dug a well here from which he used to take out drinking water. Now the Lendi nalla is filled with waterand a garden is laid there. A Nandadeep lamp is kept burning there since the day of Sai Baba, who used to sit here on a par (stone) near the Nandadeep, below the neem tree. Dattatreya (the primordial guru) Temple has been built in the garden in front of the Ashwattha tree.

The Samadhi of the horse Shamsunder, who used to bow down to Sai Baba and thereafter to the Samadhi daily, till its death is found here. Few Samadhis of Baba's devotees like Abdul Baba, Nanavalli, Bhau Maharaj and Tatya are found at the entrance of the Lendibag.

Khandoba Temple

A small temple called Khandoba dedicated to Lord Shivaa is situated on the Ahmednagar-Kopargaon road. Khandoba is said to be the presiding deity of the village. When Baba came to Shiridi, second time with a marriage party, He got down from bullock cart here. It was at this temple that Sri Mahalsapati, the priest of the temple first greeted Sai Baba as "Ya, Sai" (welcome Sai). The nameless fakir began to be called "Sai Baba" from that time.

Mahadev, Shani And Ganesh Temples

Devotees can visit the three temples of Mahadev, Shani and Ganesh built in a line. The Mahadev Temple is a very old temple, which houses a statue of a tiger installed behind the Nandi. There is a dhuni similar to that found in Dwarkamayee Masjid in the Shani Temple. The Ganesh Temple is also very old. There are the Keshav Temple and Mangal Karyalaya, built in recent years beyond the road on the eastern side.

Pujas

At 5.15 am the Kakad Aarti or the early morning worship and prayer is performed in the main sanctum where Baba's body has been entombed. Later on the Samadhi and the idol are washed ceremonially and everyday from 6.00 am to 7.00 am the devotional songs on Sai are played. Then the Abhishek (bathing of the deity) begins at 7.30 a.m. The noon Aarti (mid-day prayer) takes place exactly at noon.

There is a break after this Aarti until the programme of singing, Bhajan and Kirtan (devotional songs) in the afternoon. There is Aarti again at 6.30 p.m. (sunset prayer). Then there is Kirtan or Bhajan till 10 p.m. and the last Aarti called the Shej-Aarti (night prayer) takes place at 10 p.m. thereafter Lord Sri Sai Baba is deemed to have gone to sleep as the devotees lovingly treat Him as a father.

On Thursdays, there is a procession of the Palki (Baba's carriage) and the Padukas (Baba's slippers) at night and five gunshots are fired at the time of the procession. Loudspeakers are arranged at the time of the aarti and on festival days.

HOW TO GET THERE

Rail: The important railway station is at Kopergaon, through which few trains connecting major cities pass. A number of trains from Mumbai and Delhi also pass through Manmad station, which is another nearest place from where devotees can access Shiridi.

Road: One can access this holy place easily, as it is a well-developed town connected by bus routes. Shirdi is only about 58-kms from Manmad, buses and taxis are easily available to reach there.

WHERE TO STAY

The Shirdi Sai Sansthan provides boarding and lodging facilities but since large number of devotees throng Shiridi, especially on Thursdays one can find it difficult to get accommodation. But there are good hotels, which cater to the needs of all classes of devotees. Locals also let rooms on rent over here.

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MATHURA - VRINDAVAN

 
Location: Right Bank River Alaknanda
Altitude: 3,133 mt. Above Sea-Level
Dedicated To: Lord Vishnu
Built In: 8th Century A.D

Lord Krishna - He is easily the most popular person here. Every square foot of Mathura-Vrindavan is wrapped in timeless devotion to Lord Krishna, the evergreen hero of Hinduism, the lover of Radha, the cowherd-prince and the re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Mathura without Lord Krishna is like Bethlehem without Christ. Welcome to Brajbhoomi or Krishna-land.

Brajbhoomi - The city of Mathura in Uttar Pradesh , the nucleus of Brajbhoomi, is located at a distance of 145 km south-east of Delhi and 58 km north-west of Agra . Covering an area of about 3,800 sq. km., today, Brajbhoomi can be divided into two distinct units - the eastern part in the trans-Yamuna tract with places like Gokul, Mahavan, Baldeo, Mat and Bajna and the western side of the Yamuna covering the Mathura region that encompasses Vrindavan, Govardhan, Kusum Sarovar, Barsana and Nandgaon. In a nutshell, the land of Braj starts from Kotban near Hodel about 95 km from Delhi and ends at Runakuta which is known specially for its association with the poet Surdas, an ardent Krishna devotee.

An Ancient City - An ancient city, Mathura's strategic location at the cross roads of various trade routes - that went westwards to West Asia and the Roman Empire; northwards, via Taxila, Pushkalavati and Purushapur to Central Asia and the Silk Route and eastwards to China - ensured its position as a centre of trade and a meeting point for varied cultures. By the 5th century BC, during the time of Buddha, it was a major metropolis and the capital of the Surasena Kingdom. Mathura saw its `golden age' during the rule of the Kushanas and the able governance of rulers Kanishka, Huvishka, and Vasishka, when the arts flourished and economic wealth grew. It remained a centre of power during the Mauryan period, through the enlightened rule of Emperor Ashoka (3rd century BC) to the Gupta era (4th century AD).

Holy Land - It has often been said that it is easier to count the number of dust particles on the surface of the earth than to count the number of holy places in Mathura. Each of the Ghats, for instance, has its own Krishna myth. Here He rested after killing his evil and tyrannical uncle, King Kansa; This is where His mother tied him after he stole butter; This is the sacred grove where Krishna and Radha spent lazy, love-filled times - the list is endless. In Mathura-Vrindavan, it is difficult to know the dividing line between reality and myth.

Vrindavan - The City Of Temples - Vrindavan, around 15 km from Mathura, is a major place of pilgrimage, on the banks of Yamuna . Attracting about 5 lakhs pilgrims every year, it is noted for its numerous temples- both old and modern. Vrindavan is synonymous with the innocent mirth and child like playfulness of Shri Krishna. Vrindavan, the dusty little town known for the temples, big and small, famous and remote strewn all over the place.

A Divine Career - Lord Krishna was born in a prison cell in Mathura. His father Vasudev aided by several celestial forces stole him out of Mathura, across the raging river Yamuna and into the house of Nand in Gokul. Krishna spent his early childhood here and revealed the first signs of his divinity. His uncle Kansa's muderous attempts forced Krishna to leave Gokul and move to Nandgaon, a more secure home high up on a hill. From here, the adolescent Krishna, the cowherd, would wander into the Vrindavan forests to play with his friends and dally with Radha, his lady love. Vrindavan, is still a transcendental world, a place of Krishna's leela, (play), of deep eroticism and an archetypal connection to nature. Each tree in the area speaks, as it were, of the love of the divine couple.

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MUMBAI

 
Location of Mumbai: South Western India, Maharashtra
Formerly Known As: Bombay
Famous As: Financial And Commercial Capital Of India
Best Time To Visit Mumbai: October To March

A MULTI FACED CITY - MUMBAI (BOMBAY)
Its young, its lively and a confluence of varied cultural currents and cross currents have given Mumbai a unique position of the most multi-ethnic city of India. The capital city of Maharashtra State , formerly known as Bombay lies in the southwestern part of India and occupies a peninsular site originally composed of seven islets lying off the Konkan coast of western India. Oozing with the cocksure self-confidence of a maverick moneymaker and "Bindass" (carefree) attitude, Mumbai is also country's financial and commercial hub and has a principal port on the Arabian Sea.

Yet, there's another face of Mumbai too that is of the most densely populated cities in the world. Mumbai is located on a site of ancient settlement and took its name from the local Goddess "Mumba" - a form of Parvati, the consort of Shiva, one of the principal Gods of Hinduism - whose temple once stood in what is now the southeastern section of the Mumbai city.

Amchi Mumbai (Our Mumbai)
Whether one is being swept along broad boulevards by endless streams of commuters, or jostled by coolies and handcart pullers in the teeming bazaars, Mumbai always feels like it is about to burst at the seams. Symbols of prosperity can be witnessed anywhere in the city of Bombay : from the phalanx of the office blocks clustered on the Nariman Point, Maharashtra's Manhattan, to the yuppie couples nipping around the town in their shiny new cars.

A traditional centre of India, Mumbai offers an enticing range of handwoven and handprinted silks and cottons as well as trendiest new materials made from polyester fibres. The Imposing tower of Mumbai's Stock Exchange building at Dalal Street is a well-known city landmark and plays a vital role in the city's business scene. Nariman Point is a specimen of the wonders modern building science can perform. Visitors usually impressed by its sleek skyscrapers, which resemble Manhattan's skyline have called this place "a piece of Manhattan transported to Mumbai".

On The Waterfront
The natural beauty of Mumbai is unsurpassed by that of any city in the region. The entrance into the harbor from the sea discloses a magnificent panorama framed by the Western Ghats (mountains) on the mainland. The wide harbor, studded with islands and dotted with the white sails of innumerable small craft, affords secure shelter to ships, particularly when storms lash the coast. The largest of the harbor's islands is Elephanta, which is famous for its 6th century cave temples.

Architectural Attractions of Mumbai
Mumbai's architecture is a mixture of florid Gothic styles, characteristic of the 18th and 19th centuries, and contemporary designs. The older administrative and commercial buildings intermingle with skyscrapers and multi-storey concrete-block buildings. Within the eye of a roaring storm of traffic, lie other vestiges of the British Raj, the 'maidans'. The central Bazaar districts of Mumbai afford glimpses of the sprawling Muslim neighbourhoods, as well as exotic shopping possibilities.
People And Cultural Life in Mumbai
Mumbai's cultural life reflects its ethnically diverse population. City of Bombay is truly multicultural, and representatives of almost every religion and region of the world can be found in Mumbai. Almost half of the population is Hindu; but the city also encompasses important communities of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, and Jews. The Jews form one the oldest group of occupants of Mumbai. Almost every Indian language and many foreign languages are spoken over here. Marathi, the State language, is the dominant Indian language in Mumbai, followed by Gujarati and Hindi.

The city of Mumbai (Bombay) has a number of museums, libraries, literary and other cultural institutions, art galleries, and theatres and perhaps no other city in India can boast of such a high degree of variety and quality in its cultural and entertainment facilities.

Mumbai is the stronghold of the Indian film industry. Throughout the year Western and Indian music concerts and festivals and Indian dance shows are performed in Bombay. The Prince of Wales Museum of Western India, housed in a building of Indo-Saracenic architecture, contains three main sections of art, archaeology, and natural history. Situated nearby are the Jehangir Art Gallery , Mumbai's first permanent art gallery, and center of cultural and educational activities.

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NORTH EAST (SEVEN SISTERS)

 
Location: Northeastern Part Of India Region's
Major States: Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram


The best way to see the seven sisters is by road but one needs to plan properly. Unlike other places a fair amount of homework on road connections, bridges and ferries is essential. Survey of India maps are dependable and accurate and they must be carried without fail. Guwahati could be a good starting point, and one can get there by train or by air or drive in. it is possible to opt for travel via the rivers if a lot of time is available - the experience would be unforgettable.

GENERAL INFORMATION

BEST SEASON
Every season holds its own splendour in the eastern states. In fact, even within them each of the seven sisters has a different face to show. However, for the time bound traveller, it is best to avoid the months between June and September when the monsoons turn large areas in this region into vast stretches of water.

October to March are the best months though winter rains do visit the area in December and January. If you plan a visit to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, then mid-September to November and March-April are good periods because in peak winter you may get held up at Sela Pass or at least have difficulty crossing the pass.

WHAT TO CARRY
Diverse encounters are to be expected. Temperatures will vary. Shillong or Ziro or Tawang or Aizawl can be cool at any time of the year therefore woollens are necessary. It can also rain anywhere, any time so an umbrella is a must. A fair amount of walking has to be done so comfortable walking shoes are needed and one needs to be generous with socks. Forests or heavy vegetation reminds you to carry mosquito repellents and salt to get rid of leeches. Clear days can be quite relentless so a straw hat is a good idea. Carry a few plastic bags for wet clothes. A rucksack and a sleeping bag gives you the option to take off on treks. For camera equipment and film rolls, carry plastic bags and silica gel. If your camera uses batteries it is better to carry some spares.

PERMITS
Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland would require inner line permits. They are available at Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati tourist offices though the local administration also has the authority to give it to you.

HOW TO GET THERE

Most of the areas are not connected by rail. One has to travel by road most of the time. While roads are generally good, there are steep climbs, sharp bends and the occasional rough tracks. One can see much more by road and stop where one likes to frequently. If you plan to travel in your own car, test your engine, brakes and carry enough spares like fan belts, fuses, wires, etc.

You can choose Guwahati as the entry point. Trains, airlines and buses connect Guwahati to virtually every place in India. For Arunachal Pradesh, you can move up to Tezpur in Assam and then start exploring. Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary is close by. For Meghalaya, drive up to Shillong, to the Khasi-Jaintia hills and to Tura for the Garo hills. For other areas like Agartala in Tripura, Imphal in Manipur or Dimapur in Nagaland, there are airline flights. There are forest rest houses everywhere. You need to contact Divisional Forest officers for reservations. For PWD rest houses, contact the Superintendent Engineer or Divisional Engineer PWD. There are also circuit houses and reservations can be made in Delhi at the tourist offices co-located in emporia on Baba Kharak Singh Marg or in Chandralok Building on Janpath, New Delhi. In Kolkata, most of the offices are located around Russell Street in Chowringhee area.

Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal finds mention in the literature of Kalika Purana and Mahabharata. This place is supposed to be the Prabhu Mountains of the Puranas. It was here that sage Parashuram washed away his sin, sage Vyasa meditated, King Bhishmaka founded his kingdom and Lord Krishna married his consort Rukmini. The widely scattered archeological remains at different places in Arunachal bears testimony to its rich cultural heritage. Arunachal Pradesh, a serene land tucked into the North Eastern tip of India, invites you to relax in its picturesque hills and valleys, enjoy its salubrious climate and meet its simple and hospitable people, with their glorious heritage of arts and crafts and colorful festivals that reflect their ancient faith in the inexorable power of nature.

The visitor has a wide variety of options to pick from. There are places of worship and pilgrimage such as Parasuramkund and 400 years old Tawang Monastery, or the sites of archeological excavations like Malinithan and Itanagar, the serene beauty of lakes such as Ganga lake or Sela lake or the numerous variations of scenic beauty of the snowclad silver mountain peaks and lush green meadows where thousands of species of flora and fauna prosper. In addition, the state provides abundant scope for angling, boating, rafting, trekking and hiking. Besides, there are a number of wild life sanctuaries and national parks where rare animals, birds and plants will fascinate the visitor.

Nature has provided the people with a deep sense of beauty which finds delightful expression in their songs, dances and crafts. The climate varies from hot and humid to heavy rainfall in the Shivalik range. It becomes progressively cold as one moves northwards to higher altitudes. Trees of great size, plentiful climbers and abundance of cane and bamboo make Arunachal evergreen. Arunachal Pradesh is considered to be the "nature's treasure trove"and home to orchids, known for their exquisitely beautiful blooms, from one of the dominant taxa with more than six hundred species, occurring in varying elevations and climatic conditions throughout the state.

Manipur

Manipur as the name suggest is a land of jewels. Its rich culture excels in every aspects as in martial arts, dance, theater and sculpture. The charm of the place is the greenery with the moderate climate making it a tourists' heaven. The beautiful and seasonal Shirui Lily at Ukhrul (district), Sangai (brow antlered deer) and the floating islands at Loktak Lake are few of the rare things found in Manipur. Polo, which can be called a royal game, also originated from Manipur. Some of the main tourist attractions are:
Imphal (Capital)
Churachandpur
Keibul Lamjao National Park
War cemeteries
Loktak Lake
Moreh

Meghalaya

Meghalaya has some of the thickest surviving forests in the country. Therefore constitutes one of the most important ecotourism circuits in the country today. The Meghalayan subtropical forests support a vast variety of flora and fauna. Meghalaya has 2 national parks and 3 wildlife sanctuaries.

Meghalaya, also offers many adventure tourism opportunities in the form of mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking and hiking, water sports etc. The state offers several trekking routes some of which also afford an opportunity to encounter some rare animals such as the slow loris, assorted deer and bear. The Umiam Lake has a water sports complex with facilities such as rowboats, paddleboats, sailing boats, cruise-boats, water-scooters and speedboats.

Cherrapunjee is one of the most popular tourist spots in North East of India. It lies to the south of the capital Shillong. The town is very well known and needs little publicity. A rather scenic, 50 kilometre long road, connects Cherrapunjee with Shillong.

The popular waterfalls in the state are the Elephant Falls, Shadthum Falls, Weinia falls, Bishop Falls, Nohkalikai Falls, Langshiang Falls and Sweet Falls. The hot springs at Jakrem near Mawsynram are believed to have curative and medicinal properties. it is one of a good place to visit

Mizoram

Mizoram is considered by many as a beautiful place due to its dramatic landscape and pleasant climate. The state is rich in bird diversity, which has the potential to make it a major Birdwatching destination.,[17] Mizoram is a stronghold for Mrs. Hume's Pheasant Syrmaticus humiae.[18] There is also a rare record of the Wild water buffalo from the state.[19] There have been several past records of sightings of the Sumatran rhinoceros from Mizoram, and Lushai hills.[20] A small population of wild elephants can be seen in Ngengpui and Dampa Sanctuaries.[21] Other interesting sites are Mizo Poets' Square also known as Mizo Hlakungpui Mual in Mizo and the Great Megaliths locally known as 'Kawtchhuah Ropui'. Pu Ziona, who lives in Baktawng near Aizawl, also has lot of visitors due to his fame as having the largest Family in the World.[22]

Tripura
The small and beautiful state of Tripura is tucked away on the Northeast India's boundary.[32] To its north, south and southeast, Tripura has an international boundary with Bangladesh while coming to its east it shares a common boundary with its neighboring states of Assam & Mizoram. This Panoramic tiny State is inhabited by 19 ethenic tribes, Bengali, Tripuri Manipuri etc. community. Though the 3rd smallest state of India but its unique. Its blessed with scenic beauty, ancient places, temples, breathing taking verdants hills and bio-diversity treasure trove of wildlife santuries. The state has a historical past and one can find it across time from the Rajmala chronicles of kings of Tripura. The state had 185 royal rulers. There is a reference to he rulers of Bengali helping the Tripura kings in 14th century as the kings of this state had to face frequent Mughal invasion with varying success.[33] The belief through once upon a time was that Tripura's boundary was once extended up to Bay of Bengal that was when rulers spread powers from the Garo Hillsto Arakhan. With that its said that Tripura's name has been coined from two Tripuri words: Tui meaning water and Pra means near. But different people has there way of thinking, some also belived that the name Tripura derived from presiding deity Tripurasundari. The deity is famous as one of the 51 Peethas important to Hindu Pilgrimage.

HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL TOURISM
Ujjayanta Palace - The gleaming white Ujjayanta Palace located in the capital city of Agartala evokes the age of Tripura Maharajas. It is a unique experience to witness living history and royal splendour within the boundaries of the Palace. Constructed by the king of Tripura Maharja Radha Kishor Manikya during the late 19th century and finished off in 1901. The Indo-Saracenic building is set up in large Mughal-style garden with two man made lakes on its both sides. The palace is of two storied mansion and has three domes, each 86 feet high, stunning tiles floor, curved wooden ceiling and wonderful crafted door. Floodlights and light and sound fountain is been setup in Palace.[34]
Unakoti - means one less than a crore. Located about 186 km from Agartala, Unokoti is an important site of archaeological wonder. It is a Shaiva pilgrimage attraction and dates back to 7th-9th century A.D. The site consists of several huge vertical rocks-cut carvings on a hillside. The site shows strong evidence of Buddhist occupation but also has a central Shiva head and imposing Ganesha figures having a height of 30 feet. The rocky walls also have a carved images of Hindu pantheon like Durga and Vishnu. The unakoti rock-cut carving have the distinction of being the largest bas-relief sculpture in India.[35]
Bhubaneshwari Temple - Another temple of eminence of Tripura is this temple. located 55 km from Agartala on the eastern fringe of Udaipur town by the bank of bank of river Gomati[disambiguation needed]. The temple is now under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India. It was built by Maharaja Govinda Manikya (1660-1676). The temple is immortalized in Rabindranath Tagore's famous play known as Bisarjan and Rajarshi. Maharaja Govinda also features an important character in Tagore's play. While approaching Bhubaneshwari Temple one can find the ruins of the palace of the Maharaja. Down below the temple the river Gomati flows.
Gunabati Group of Temples - From its name it reveals that it was built in the name of her Highness Maharani Gunabati (wife of Maharaja Govinda Manikya), in 1668 A.D. The two other tempel also bears contemporary look but there actual history is still unveiled. Architecture of these temples resembles other contemporary temples of Tripura except the top most parts are without Stupa. Core-Chambers are marked by a presence of pitcher circular core chamber and its vestibule which was large with Stupa like crown is beautifully crafted like lotus[36]
Chabimura - A famous panel of rock carving on the steep mountain walls on the banks of Gomati[disambiguation needed]. There are huge images carved of Shiva, Vishnu, Kartika, Mahisasurmardini Durga and other Gods and goddesses. These images date back to 15th - 16th century A.D. Chabimura is 30 km away from Udaipur. It is situated in Amarpur subdivision. Devatamura means God's peak and it a full range between Udaipur and Amarpur Subdivision. Its famous for a lot of idols of gods and goddess. These beautiful images are carved with a lot of dexterity on the rocky faces of Devtamura which is steep at 90 degree. The hill ranges are covered with thick jungles and one cab reach this adobe of gods only after trekking through these jungles.
Boxanagar - Recently after denudation of a nature forest area, ruins of a brick built building emerged in the northwestern part of Sonamura Sub-Division on the edge of the border with Bangalasesh. The local people initially attribute the remains to the ancient temple of Manasa- the goddess of Snake. Attention was drawn to the Archaeological Survey of India and they took over the site. There an idol of Lord Buddha was discovered and it was confirmed that once upon a time it was a Buddhist Temple i,e. a Monastery. More than excavation of the site will unearth the hidden story.[37]

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NORTH INDIA

Famous Destinations: Agra, Jaipur, Varanasi
World Heritage Sites in North India: Taj Mahal, Qutab Minar, Jaisalmer Fort
Jewels of North India: Himalayas, Thar Desert, Ganges
Much Known For: Pilgrimages, Wildlife, Hill-Stations, Winter Sports

Welcome to the North India Tourism. A kaleidoscope to reveal the rich cultural heritage of North India that is diverse and varied and still binds the country in the form of common identification .The common sutras like dance, music, festivels, art,architecture, cushine dresses are the binding factor that have played a remarkable role in this unification and enriching Northern India since ages.

The heritage train tours are the best way to get a taste of the luxurious life that the aristocrats use to and enjoy in the royal times. The three major luxury trains of India are - The Palace on-Weeels, The Fairy Queen and The Royal Orient. They present a beautiful collage of the cultural heritage and rich traditions of India. The travel of wheels is not just confined to your coach, the touring services also include venturing through the various cities and experiencing a treatment that once only the royals were privileged with.

So allow yourself to get carried away in to the opulent world of maharajas, magnificent palaces and imposing forts on board of these exclusive trains the way maharajas experienced it ...

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ORISSA

 
Capital of Orissa : Bhubaneshwar
Travel Attraction : Golden Triangles ( Bhubaneshwar, Puri, Konark )
Language Spoken : Oriya

Perpetually washed by the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal, Orissa lies on the east coast of India with a 482-km-long coastal stretch. It is bounded by West Bengal and Bihar on the north, Andhra Pradesh on the south, the Bay of Bengal on the east and Madhya Pradesh on the west . The state's history is divisible into the same four periods in which Indian history is usually analysed, i.e., the Hindu period, the Muslim period, the British period and the post-Independence period.

Orissa's main attractions are the temples of the capital Bhubaneswar, - the long sandy beach at Puri, the Sun Temple at Konark and Simlipal and Nandankanan sanctuaries of Cuttack. The renowned Jagannatha temple dominate the landscape at Puri as does the Lingaraja temple of Bhubaneswar. 10 kms west of Bhubaneshwar are the Udayagiri Caves, which were occupied by the Buddhist monks as early as the 2nd century BC.

History of Orissa
It's hazy past is linked to the fortunes of Kalinga of which it was once a part. Ashoka's carnage of Kalinga made the emperor foreswore war and till 2nd century AD, Buddhism and Jainism alternately held sway in Orissa. Fast forward to 1514: the time of the European arrival here. After the British conquest in 1804, Orissa was divided into three districts: Cuttack, Puri and Balasore. After independence, Orissa became a state of India in 1950.

Capital of Orissa
Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa, famous as a temple town and a handicraft centre, has, over the last decade, become an upcoming business centre. While the city itself boats of no giant industrial plants, showcased in its main bazaars are craftwork, such as the traditional tie and dye technique of ikat, that date back over several thousand years.

Handicrafts of Orissa
Shopping in Orissa is a joy. You don't look there for what the modern industry can give you, but for unique and exquisite handicrafts, made by those fingers whose forerunners had with such dexterity and skill created the magnificient Orissa temples. The handicrafts of Orissa include silver filigree, horn work, folk paintings (Pattachitra), metalware, applique work, stoneware, silk and cotton handloom etc.

Culture in Orissa
Another expression of Oriyan culture is Odissi, one of the finest forms of Indian classical dance. Evolved out of spiritual consciousness, it formed an essential part of the ritualistic services in the important shrines of Orissa. Devotional in spirit, it is marked for its elaborate grace and lyrical charm, revealed through rounded movements. Orissa also has a rich body of literature with Sitakant Mahapatra being one of the major voices in contemporary Oriya poetry

Festivals of Orissa
Makar Sankranti in January; Magha Mela and Konark Dance Festival in Febraury; Maha Shivratri and Holi in March; Basant Panchami in Febraury / March; Chaitra Parba or Chhow Festival in April; Rath Yatra or the Car Festival of Puri and Raja Sankranti in June / July; Durga Puja in September / October; Kartika and Kumar Purnima in October-November; Lakshmi Puja in December -January.

CLIMATE OF ORISSA
Temperature (deg C): Summer - Max.38, Min.27.1
Winter - Max.28.2, Min.15.2.
Rainfall : Mid June-September 60 inches (152 cms).
Best season : October to March

Population in Orissa: 35 million

Tourism Offices in Orissa:

Tourist office, Barkul - Dist. Khurda, Puri, Orissa - 752030,

Tourist office, Berhampur - New Bus stand (1st floor), Puri, Orissa - 760004

Tourist Counter - Railway station, Puri, Orissa - 760004.

Tourist Office - VIP chhak, station road, Puri, Orissa - 752002.

Tourist Office, Government of Orissa, 55 Lenin Sarani (Beside Wellington Square), Calcutta.

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KONARK

 
Location: 33-kms from Puri, Orissa
Main Attractions: Sun Temple, Konark Beach , Konark Dance Festival
Reigning Deity: Lord Surya
Also Known As: Black Pagoda

The Language Of The Stone
Konark, also known as "Arka-Tirtha", is known for its temple of Lord Surya, the sun god. It is situated on the seashore, 33-km north of Puri and 64-km from Bhubaneswar. It was constructed of black stone in the beginning of the 13th century, and it is considered one of the most vivid architectural showpieces of Hindu India. Despite the fact that the 'Black Pagoda' is in ruins, the remaining porch area and other structures of this temple complex remain as a crown jewel of Orissan artwork.

The Legend
Mistaking the sea at Puri for the Yamuna River, Sri Chaitanya jumped in and was washed by the ocean 33-km north to the Konark area, where an astonished fisherman caught him in his net.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

The Sun Temple
The Orissan King 'Raja Narasimha Deva' built this temple in the 13th century. It took 1,200 workmen over 16 years to build. It is believed that the temple was no longer used from the early 17th century when the temple was desecrated by Muslim invaders. In 1904 the sand around the temple base was cleared.

This impressive temple resembles a huge chariot with 24 huge wheels being pulled by seven horses. Great pairs of large intricately carved wheels were carved on both sides of the 4m high platform that the temple is on. There are two rows of 12 wheels on each side of the temple. Some say the wheels represent the 24 hours in a day and others say the 12 months. The seven horses are said to symbolize the seven days of the week. There is a dancing hall here, an audience hall and a high tower too. This temple was once called the Black Pagoda by sailors because it was supposed to draw ships into the shore and cause shipwrecks.

Konark Beach
There is a nice quiet beach about 3-km from the temple. The currents can be strong here, so swimming can be dangerous. Not far from the beach is a pond where Krishna's son Samba is said to have been cured from leprosy. Every year during the full moon phase in the month of Magha there is a festival called "Magha Saptami Mela". People bathe in the pond at night and then watch the sun rise over the sea the next morning.

The Sun Temple Museum
The Sun Temple Museum run by the Archaeological Survey of India has a excellent collection of sculptures from the temple ruins. One can also purchase the "Archaeological Survey of India's Sun Temple-Konark" from here. It is not sold at the temple itself.

EXCURSIONS

Kuruma
This place approachable by jeeps is just 8-kms from Konark. Recent excavations have brought this small village into the limelight with the discovery of antique images of Buddha seated in "Bhumispara Mudra" along with the image of "Heruka".

Chaurasi
Here one may visit the shrines of 'Laxminarayanan', 'Amareshras' and 'Barahi'. Barahi is a deity dating back to the 9th Century AD and is worshipped according to tantric practices. She is a mother goddess with the face of a boar and is holding a fish in one hand and a cup in the other.

Ramachandi
7-kms from Konark, it is accessible by road (Marine drive). Ramachandi is situated at the confluence of the River Kusabhadra and the Bay of Bengal. It is a beautiful spot and Goddess Ramachandi, the deity of Konark, is worshipped here.

Astranga
Washed by the clear blue waters of the Bay of Bengal it really lives upto its name. 'Astranga' literally means varied colours. 55-kms from Konark, the sunset is a spectacular scene. It is a famous fishing harbour.

Kakatapur
Kakatapur lies 45-kms from Konark. Well connected by regular bus services from Puri Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack . It is situated in the Prachi valley and is known for the shrines of Goddess 'Mangala' and 'Banadurga'. Legend has it that direction for locating the holy log from which is created the icon of Lord Jagannatha comes from her. The much-famed 'Jhamu Yatra' is celebrated in April - May where the devotees walk over a narrow trench strewn with lighted embers. It is a major festival here.

Pipli (44-kms)
Pipli, close to Konark, is a centre for applique work.

GETTING THERE

Air: The nearest airport from Konark is situated at Bhubaneswar.

Rail: Bhubaneswar is the nearest railhead situated at 65-km from Konark.

Road: Konark is located 65-km from Bhubaneswar and 35-km north of Puri on Marine Drive, right next to the ocean. There are regular buses to and from Puri that take about an hour. From Bhubaneswar, with a change of buses at Pipli, it takes from two to four hours. There is a direct tourist bus that leaves from the town bus stand in Bhunaneswar at 10am. There is a daily tour bus that goes to Konark from Puri and a tour bus from Bhubaneswar. One can also take a taxi from Puri.

WHERE TO STAY

LODGES & HOTELS
Labanya lodge
Lodging Sunrise
OTDC's Travellers Lodge
Yatri Niwas
OTDC's Panthaniwas

FESTIVALS
Konark, lying in the country's tropical belt is amiable all the year round. But those who desire to see Konark in full splendour should come here in the month of February for the "Magha Saptami", also called "Chandrabhaga Mela" , when pilgrims from all over the world visit this place.

Tourists interested in Indian dance and music should visit Konark during 1st week of December to see the Konark Dance Festival held in the Open Air Auditorium North of the Konark Sun Temple .

Nearby Cities
Bhubaneswar : 64-km
Puri : 33-km
Ramchandi : 8-km
Baleswar : 20-km
Balighai : 25-km
Kapileswar : 10-km
Kurum : 8-km
Kakatapur : 25-km
Chourasi : 35-km

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PUNJAB - GOLDEN TEMPLE

 
Location: North of India
Capital: Chandigarh
Tourist Attractions: Golden Temple, Jalianwallah Bagh, Rock Garden
Best Time To Visit : October to March

Punjab
The state of Punjab is renowned for its cuisine, culture and history. Punjab has a vast public transportation and communication network. Some of the main cities in Punjab are Amritsar, Chandigarh, jalandhar, Patiala, Nabha and Ludhiana. Nabha is known for the combines made here while Patiala is known for the historical forts. Punjab also has a rich Sikh religious history. Tourism in Punjab is principally suited for the tourists interested in culture, ancient civilization, spirituality and epic history. Some of the villages in Punjab are also a must see for the person who wants to see the true Punjab, with their beautiful traditional Indian homes, farms and temples, this is a must see for any visitor that goes to India. Lonely Planet Bluelist 2008 has voted the Harmandir Sahib as one of the world’s best spiritual sites with over 100,000 pilgrims and tourists visiting on a daily basis. Since Amritsar is a big tourist spot, a lot of five star hotels are getting attracted to open up properties here. Hotel Ista has become very popular with nonresident Indian (NRI) community. New properties by Radisson and Taj are coming up in this city.

The Golden Temple is located in the holy city of the Sikhs, Amritsar, once the dense forest home of Guru Nanak. Famous for its full golden dome, Golden temple is one of the most sacred pilgrim spots for Sikhs. The Temple is built on a 67 ft square of marble and is a two storeyed structure. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had the upper half of the building built with approximately 400 kg of gold-leaf. The Golden Temple is surrounded by a number of other famous temples like the Durgiana Temple.

The 'Guru Ka Langar' offers free food to around 20,000 people everyday. The number shoots up to 100,000 on special occasions. A visitor must cover his / her head before entering The Golden Temple premises.

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PURI

 
Location: 60-km from Bhubaneswar, Orissa
Reigning Deity: Lord Jagannatha
Main Attractions: Lord Jagannatha Temple, Puri Beach & Gundicha Mandir
Significance: One of the four holiest points of pilgrimage for Hindus

The holy city of Puri is located 60-km from Bhubaneswar on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It is one of the four holy dhamas of India - Puri, Dwarka, Rameswaram and Badrinath . It is considered that a pilgrimage of the temples of India is not complete without making the journey to Puri.

Popularly Known As
Puri is called "Sri Purusottama Dham" or "Martya Vaikuntha", the abode of Lord Vishnu on earth. Other names are "Sriksetra" (best of all sacred centers), "Purusottama Ksetra" (the abode of the supreme being), "Nilachal", "Nalagiri", "Sankha Ksetra", and "Jagannatha Dhama". Puri is about 2-km wide and 4-km long.

The Jagannatha Temple or Jagannath temple here is one of the major temples in India. The worship of Lord Jagannatha is so ancient that there is no idea how long. He has been worshiped. The Lord has had many temples before the present one.

Sri Ramanuja visited Puri between 1107 and 1117 century AD and stayed for some time. Vishnu Swami visited Puri in the second half of the 12th century and established a 'Matha' near 'Markandeswar' Tank, called "Vishnuswami Matha". Nimbarka Acharya also made a pilgrimage to Puri, and Srila Prabhupada visited in January 1977.

A major reason that Puri is so important to the "Gaudiya Vaishnavas" is because Lord Chaitanya spent so much time here. Many of His pastimes with His most intimate associated\s took place at different sites in this area.

Non-Hindus cannot enter the Jagannatha temple. This is strictly enforced.

Besides being an important holy town Puri also has one of the best beaches for swimming in India. It is one of the most visited places in India by young foreign tourist. It is a very pleasant place.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS
Lord Jagannatha Temple
The temple of Lord Jagannatha or Jagannath temple ('Lord of the Universe') at Puri is one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots in India, one of the four abodes ('Dhamas') of the divine that lie on the four directions of the compass. The present temple structure was built in the 12th century by the 'Ganga' King 'Choda Ganga Deva', replacing an earlier structure, which probably dated to the 10th century.

Until recently, almost the entire temple was covered in white plaster, so much so that European sailors in previous centuries used it as a navigation point, referring to it as the "White Pagoda" in contrast to the "Black Pagoda" of Konark , further up the coast.

Gundicha Mandir (Temple)
This temple is located at the end of Grad road (the main road) about 3-km northeast of the Jagannatha temple . At the time of the 'Ratha-Yatra' festival , Lord Jagannatha goes to the Gundicha temple and stays there for one week. After one week He returns to His original temple. It is said that the wife of 'Indradyumna', the king who originally established the temple of Jagannatha, was known as "Gundicha". The cleansing of the Gundicha temple takes place the day before the Ratha-Yatra festival as mentioned in "Chaitanya-Caritamrita".
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RAJASTHAN

 
Capital of Rajasthan: Jaipur
Must See: Hawa Mahal, Jaisalmer Fort
Best Time To Visit: October To March

Rajasthan, this wild desert land invites you to a memorable tryst with itself. Savor Rajasthan's unique culture that is a blend of the ancient and the modern. Travel Rajasthan, check out must visit forts, palaces and monuments; enjoy a luxurious stay at famous heritage hotels of Rajasthan or take a heritage tour of distinct cultural heritage sites of Rajasthan.

To the east of the Aravallis, Rajasthan is Cotton Country where peacocks dance in celebration of rain. Kipling must have been thinking of Rajasthan when he labelled India the 'land of camels and snakecharmers'. Even today, Rajasthan retains its medieval charm with the sounds of desert music wafting from the distant sands and mounds of red chillies drying in courtyards ready to be pounded.

Rajasthan is bound on the west and northwest by Pakistan, on the north and northeast by Punjab , Haryana , and Uttar Pradesh , on the east and southeast by Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh , and on the southwest by Gujarat . Each of its cities is a great tourist attraction with pride of place going to Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Ajmer. Hawa Mahal, Amber Fort, Umaid Bhawan, Jantar Mantar, Pushkar, Ranthanbhore National Park are musts on every tourist's itinerary.

CAPITAL OF RAJASTHAN
Jaipur, the capital, is pretty in pink. Vegetable marts, jewellery shops, camel-riding locals make it a busy and crowded metropolis. It sits on a dry lake bed in a somewhat arid landscape surrounded by barren hills surmounted by forts and crenellated walls. The language spoken is mostly Rajasthani and Hindi

History of Rajasthan
Archaeological and historical evidence shows a continuous human habitation of the area dating back 100,000 years. Between the 7th and the 11th century AD, several dynasties arose, with Rajput strength reaching its peak at the beginning of the 16th century. Emperor Akbar brought the Rajput states into the Mughal Empire; by early 19th century, they allied with the Marathas. Later, the British established supremacy in the region. Rajasthan soon emerged as a centre of Indian nationalism. When the new constitution went into effect in 1950, Rajput princes surrendered their powers to the Indian Union.

The Rajasthani People
There is majesty in every man of Rajasthan; they are afterall the sons of kings. Rajasthan is a harsh, scorched land of savage summer heat but also full of the brightest colours. Countering the barren landscape with vibrant hues in their everyday wear and charming murals painted on their drab sepia-coloured mud homes, for the people, life is one big carnival, even in the face of sure death. Here are many tales of desperate courage written of men donning saffron robes and riding out to confront the enemy and womenfolk preferring death to dishonour. Even in everyday life today, the Rajput's sense of honour, family and tradition come foremost.

Culture in Rajasthan
Rajasthan has made its contribution to Indian art; there is a rich literary tradition, especially of bardic poetry. Chand Bardai's poem on Prithvi Raj Raso or 'Chand Raisa', the earliest manuscript of which dates to the 12th century, is particularly notable. A popular source of entertainment is the 'khyal', a dance drama composed in verse with festive, historical, or romantic themes. The typical folk dance of Rajasthan is the 'ghoomar', which is performed on festive occasions only by women. The 'geer' dance (performed by men and women), the 'panihari' (a graceful dance for women), and the 'kacchi ghori' (in which male dancers ride horses) are also popular.

Handicrafts of Rajasthan
Rajasthan, especially Jaipur, is one of the finest centres in the entire region for beautiful prints - specially on cotton fabrics and has perhaps India's largest centre of semi-precious / precious gems and stones. Tie-and-die fabrics and sarees; Sanganer prints; brocades; marble statuettes, ivory carving; stone-set and semi precious jewellery; enamel work… there is no end to what Jaipur offers to shoppers.

CLIMATE OF RAJASTHAN
There is a wide range of climate, varying from extremely arid to humid. Except in the hills, the heat in summer is great everywhere, with a mean daytime maximum temperature hovering at about 43º C in many locations. Winter temperatures vary from 20º-24º C. Hot winds and dust storms occur, especially in the desert tract, where rainfall averages 4 inches annually. In the southwest, rainfall is higher, in part owing to the summer monsoon winds off the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal

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PUSHKAR FAIR

 
Location: 11km North-West of Ajmer, Rajasthan
Feature: Hindu Pilgrimage
Attraction: Pushkar Lake, Brahma Temple, Cattle Fair

Pushkar is a sacred town for the Hindus, situated 11 kms. to the north-west of Ajmer. About 400 temples and shrines are located at Pushkar around its holy lake, which finds a mention in the Padma Purana. Legend has it that Lord Brahma in search for a spot to hold his 'yagna' (religious ritual), dropped the lotus from his hand, the three spots touched by this flower were turned into lakes. These are today known as the 'Jyeshtha Pushkar' (main Pushkar), the 'Madhyam Pushkar' (medium Pushkar) and the 'Kanishtha Pushkar' (little Pushkar). A temple dedicated to Lord Brahma is located at Pushkar; the other important temples are those of Gayatri, Savitri, Shiv and Badri Narayan. RELIGIOUS IMPORTANCE
The Pushkar Lake is surrounded by 52 flights of steps, called 'ghats', many having special legendary importance. Lord Vishnu is said to have appeared at the Varah Ghat in the form of a boar. Brahma took a bath here and performed Yajna at the Brahma Ghat, accompanied by Vishnu and Mahadev. Guru Govind Singh chose this site for reciting the sacred Guru Granth Sahib. The ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were immersed at the Gandhi Ghat, which was previously called Gau Ghat.

DURATION
There is a steady flow of pilgrims throughout the year to Pushkar, which is among the five principal places of Hindu pilgrimage. It is, however transformed into a bustling fair-ground in the month of Kartik (October-November) when the annual Pushkar Fair and a cattle fair are held simultaneously. The fair starts from Kartik Shukla Ekadashi and goes on for 12 days, till Kartik Purnima. Both the religious fair and the cattle fair are now internationally renowned tourist attractions. A small fair is held in the month of Baisakh, which is primarily a local event.

THE HOLY DIPS ( SNAN )
People consider the water of the Pushkar Lake to be very sacred and the ritual of taking dips in the holy water is believed to bestow salvation. The holy dip is most auspicious on Kartik Poornima. Even before sunrise, people descend the ghats, aided by the 'pandas' (Brahmin priests) to take the sacred bath. Offerings of coconut, flowers, and cash are made to the lake and the priests.

VISITING THE TEMPLE
After bathing at the lake, people proceed to pay homage to the creator of the Universe, Lord Brahma, at the Brahma Temple.

PARIKRAMA
Most pilgrims perform the oblations at the Jyeshtha Pushkar while some opt to visit all the three Pushkar and this is called the Panch-Kosi-Parikrama. Many pilgrims visit all the shrines at Pushkar in seven days and this is called the Chaubis-Kosi-Parikrama.

FLOATING LAMPS ( DEEP DAN )
It is customary to float lighted earthen lamps after placing them on 'pattals' (plates made of leaves) on the waters of the lake. This creates a spectacular view in the evening when the sacred lake takes on a mystical tint sprinkled with twinkling spots of light. 'Aarti' is offered at the lake in the morning and evening.

CATTLE FAIR
In conjunction with the religious fair, a cattle fair is also organised in the month of Kartik at Pushkar Cattle-breeders bring a large number of cattle of various popular breeds such as Nagauri, Haryanvi, Mewati, Kankrej etc. to the fair to be sold to the rural folk who appreciate well-bred animals. The cattle are decorated by their owners during Pushkar fair and also participate in the races and are paraded on the sand dunes.

PUSHKAR FAIR
The ancient town of Pushkar is transformed into a spectacular fair ground in the month of Kartik. The fair attracts a great number of tourists from far and wide. The fair-grounds reverberate with festivity, as rows of make shift stalls display a bewildering array of items that compete with each other for the visitors' attention. But the highlight of Pushkar fair is the trading in camels. Camels are bought, sold, decked up and paraded on the sand dunes, presenting a picturesque sight. The camel, horse and donkey races are events that draw huge attendance. Body tattooing is yet Horse race. Pushkar another favorite activity that attracts a large number of enthusiasts.

The Pushkar fair brings together a large number of villagers from different parts of the state. Some come here to sell. Some come here to buy. Some come here on a pilgrimage. Still others come here just to enjoy the festivities. The days are filled with fun and activity. The evenings are filled with music and dance. Come dusk, and the rich strains of haunting music are carried across the desert sands as the merrymaking continues deep into the night. The profusion of colours that run riot in the desert sands, the glee and the contagious enthusiasm of the village folk are a unique experience for every visitor.

On this special occasion, the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) puts up a tourist village. The tourist village is self-sufficient and specially designed to complement the natural beauty of the site. It has a Coffee Shop and Dining Hall, which can cater to 1500 guests at a time.

The village is arranged in blocks of tents, each with its own identity, named after the famous dances of Rajasthan. The village also has huts with attached western style toilets and running water. One can also stay at Sarovar Hotel, Pushkar or in Ajmer at the RTDC Tourist Bungalow-Khadim.

SHOPPING AND RECREATION

A large number of traders gather at the Pushkar Fair and set up shops. They sell a host of products like bead necklaces of Nagaur, woollen blankets of Merta, textiles printed in Ajmer and Jodhpur, brassware of Jodhpur and Jaipur etc. Also on sale are saddles, ropes, and assorted household items. During the fair, cultural shows and exhibitions are organised to enliven the event. Movies are shown and competitions are arranged. Bards and poets recite and sing tales of valour and heroism of bygone days. Animal races and other competitions add to the attraction.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: Jaipur at 146-km is the nearest airport.
Rail: Ajmer at 11-km is the nearest railhead from Pushkar.
Road: Pushkar is well connected by road and is 11-km from Ajmer.

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JAIPUR

 
Location: 336-km From Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Built In:1727 AD
Significance: Capital City of Rajasthan State
Best Season: October To March

JAIPUR - THE CITY OF VICTORY
The Rose Pink City founded by Maharaja Jai Singh II (1693-1743), is the capital of Rajasthan. It is a major attraction for the first-time visitor. Jaipur is surrounded on all sides by rugged hills, crowned with forts & enclosed by embattled walls. Houses with latticed windows line the streets with their rose pink colour, lending enchantment to the scene, which is almost magical at sunset.

The Old City (Known as the Pink City) is a great place to wander around. The whole city was painted in Pink colour by Maharaja Man Singh II when Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, visited Jaipur in 1876 AD. Today, every home within the city is obliged by law to maintain its facade. It is a very well planned city laid out in a grid pattern and was designed by a young Bengali engineer and scholar by the name "Vidyadhar Bhattacharya".

Jaipur was and remains the only city in the world, symbolising the nine divisions of the universe, through nine rectangular sectors sub-dividing it. Jaipur is a royal city & this is its most noticeable aspect, small buildings & festivals testify it.

Jaipur & its surroundings are rather like an endless museum. The city also offers an endless variety of crafts. Jewellers here still fashion the beautiful enamel-on-gold pendants, studded on the reverse with precious stones or pearls & turquoise that one sees in miniature paintings. Jaipur's lacquer bangles are famous all over the world. This is a city to be visited.

RAJASTHAN TRAIN TRAVEL

PALACE ON WHEELS
Ever wondered what luxury in the royal times was all about! Welcome to Palace On Wheels, a luxury train that carries with it an ambience of the Rajputana era and an exciting fairytale journey, which takes the visitor to the imperial cities of Rajasthan every single day. The coaches also carry out an image of the Rajput states with beautiful interiors. Last but not the least the "Royal Treat" for the passengers on board include saloons, bar lounges & libraries in every coach as well as restaurant and organized shopping facilites.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

FORTS AND PALACES
Amer Palace: The magnificent fort with its huge ramparts & watchtowers, overlooking the Delhi-Jaipur Highway. It is believed to have been the capital of the "Minas", the original inhabitants of Rajasthan.

City Palace: Nakkarkhana-ka-Darwaza, the imposing gateway of the City Palace guarded by stone elephants, is monumental.

Hawa Mahal: A Pandora's box of wonders, the enchanting Hawa Mahal is a multi-layered palace, with a profusion of windows and stone screens.

Jai Garh: Built on a peak, Jai Garh overlooks the palace & city of Amber below. Jal Mahal is Jaipur's lake palace. It is surrounded with water.

Nahargarh Fort: Originally called Sudarshan Garh, it affords a splendid view of Jaipur.


MONUMENTS
Jantar Mantar: The amazing astronomical three-storey-high observatory, of an 18th century Rajasthani king, named Jai Singh.

GARDENS
Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh: Has beautiful gardens, fountains, pools & some magnificent pieces of sculpture.

MUSEUMS
Government Central Museum: This is the oldest museum in the state. The buiding, designed by Colonel Sir Swinton Jacob is located in the centre of the sprawling Ram Niwas Bagh, built in 1876 AD. When King Edward VII visited India as the Prince of Wales, it was opened to public in 1886.

EXCURSIONS

TEMPLES
Bairath (86-km on the Shahpura-Alwar Road): An important historical place with the excavated remains of a circular Buddhist temple - unique in Rajasthan and the earliest known temple in India. Bairath also has relics of the Mauryan, Mughal and Rajput periods. A mint constructed by Akbar, a beautiful Mughal garden and a remarkable monument with painted 'chhatris' and wall built by Jahangir, are other attractions.

Galta (2.5-km): Beyond the gardens amidst the low hill guarding the city lies the old pilgrim centre of Galtaji. Temples, pavilions and holy 'kunds' (natural springs and reservoirs) dot the serene green landscape. The small temple of the Sun god, built by Diwan Kriparam on top of the highest peak, is visible form all parts of the city.


LAKES
Ramgarh Lake (32-km north-east): A huge artificial lake created by constructing a high dam amidst tree covered hills. While the temple of Jamwa Mata and the ruins of the old fort are some of its antiquities, its beautiful landscape makes it an idyllic picnic spot.

PALACE
Samode (40-km north-west): The beautiful Samode Palace, has been rebuilt and renovated and provides a fine example of the Rajput haveli architecture. It is an ideal spot for outings.

CITIES
Sanganer (16-km): Located on the Tonk Road. This small town is entered through the ruins of two 'Tripolias' or triple-gateways. The town has a ruined palace and a group of Jain temples with fine carvings. Entry to the temples is restricted. The town is an important centre for craft, industry and produces some of the finest hand printed textiles from units of block and screen printers. This textile is popular all over the country and abroad. On the Ajmer Road, the ground level fort is still in good shape. It is noted for its hand printed handloom industry using simple techniques.

GARDENS
Vidyadhar's Garden: Nestled in a narrow valley, this beautiful garden was built in honour of Jai Singh's chief architect and town planner.

OTHERS
Gaitor (6.5-km on the road to Amer): There are memorials to the queens in the Maharani-ki-Chhatri complex near the Ramgarh road crossing. The white marble cenotaph of Maharajah Jai Singh II is the most impressive and is decorated with carved peacocks. Next to it is the cenotaph of his son. The island palace-Jal Mahal built by Sawai Madho Singh as a pleasure spot at the centre of the Man Sagar Lake, and the Kanak Vrindavan complex of temples and gardens recently renovated add to its pristine glory.

To the west of this road, in a narrow valley, is the royal cremation ground at Gaitor. The cenotaphs of all Jaipur rulers, with the exception of Sawai Ishwari Singh, who was cremated outside the Jai Niwas Garden, were built at this place. The imposing cenotaph of Sawai Jai Singh stands out for its delicate carvings and beautiful shape.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: Jaipur has its own airport, and is well connected to all other tourist and business centres.

Rail: An excellent connection to Delhi by Shatabdi Express and the Pink City Express. Other connections to Jaipur are from Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Ahemadabad, Secunderabad and Lucknow.

Road: A network of reasonably comfortable tourist buses, run by road corporations of Rajasthan, Haryana and others.

SHOPPING

A major gem and jewellery centre, Jaipur is famous for Kundan work (enamel work on gold). Also there are woollen carpets, cotton rugs, marble statuary, enamelled wares, brass ware, hand-block printed Sanganeri and Bagru Cotton fabrics, exotic blue pottery made from crushed quartz, leather footwear and more.

NEARBY CITIES

Samode: 40-km
Bairath: 86-km
Pushkar: 146-km
Sawai Madhopur: 165-km
Jodhpur: 336-km

GENERAL INFORMATION

Local Transport: Tourist taxis and RTDC buses are available.
Art emporia and galleries: Art Fair, U-2, Chameliwala Market, Opp. G.P.O., M.I. Road. Maharaja Art Emporium, Hawa Mahal Bazar.
Boutiques: Nayika, Thalia Building, M.I.Road, Crafts Impression, 17 Civil Lines. Information offices: Foreigners Registration Office, Behind Hawa Mahal; Govt. of Rajasthan Tourist Office, Railway Station.
Hospitals: Sawai Man Singh Hospital, Soni Hospital, J.K.Mother & Child Health Institute.
P & T Offices: G.P.O., M.I. Road; Central Telegraph Office, M.I.Road; Railway Mail Service, Jaipur Railway Station.

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JAISALMER

 
Location: 285-km From Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Tourist Attractions: Jaisalmer Fort, Manak Chowk & Havelis
Festive Attraction: Desert Festival
Best Time To Visit: October To Februay

The name Jaisalmer evokes a vivid picture of sheer magic and brilliance of the desert. The exotic, remote and beautiful, Jaisalmer is a bit of a paradox. So far west that it is in the heart of the desert, one would expect barren near-desolation. Yet this frontier town is today one of Rajasthan's best-loved tourist destinations. Local colour and warmth prevail over the inhospitable and forbidding terrain, imbuing the medieval town with a special magic.

Rawal Jaisal, a descendent of the Yadav Clan and a Bhati Rajput, laid the foundation of this city in 1156 AD. Trikuta was the hill chosen and Jaisal abandoned his old fort at Lodurva and established his new capital here.

The Bhati Rajputs of Jaisalmer were feudal chiefs who lived on the forced levy on the caravans that crossed their territory en-route Delhi. These caravans, laden with precious cargos of spices and silk brought great wealth to this town. Because of its remote location, Jaisalmer for years remained untouched by outside influences and during the British Raj, the rulers of Jaisalmer were the last to sign the instrument of agreement with the British.

In medieval times, its prosperity was due to its location on the main trade route linking India to Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Africa and the West. The glory of Jaisalmer faded when sea trade replaced the old land routes. But there is still an 'Arabian Nights' quality about the town. The narrow streets in the walled city preserve a traditional way of life : the craftsmen still work at the ancient crafts of weaving and stone carving, the making of silver jewellery and embroidery. And the stately, nonchalant camel is everywhere.

Just a walk through Jaisalmer, savouring the medieval glory of old Rajasthan, is a marvellously rewarding travel experience. Desert Festival, celebrated in January/ February, is a must on any itinerary. The desert seems to bloom in a thousand colours. There are camel races and folk dances. Craft bazaar and traditional balled singing. A sound and light spectacle on the sand-dunes of Sam on the full moon night. And all the colour and excitement of the best in Rajasthan.

The perfect time to visit the golden city is during the Desert Festival every year when the city reverberates to the sound of melodious tunes and rhythms. Folk dances, exciting competitions and contest especially the turban-tying contest, Mr.Desert contest and camel races enlighten the festivities. Jaisalmer is a marvel of beautiful culture and harsh climatic conditions, together amounting to a memorable experience. This is a city to be visited.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

FORTS AND PALACES
The Jaisalmer Fort: The golden - hued Jaisalmer Fort 'Sonar Kila' can be seen miles away before reaching the town.

Manak Chowk and Havelis: - A main marketplace outside the fort leads to the narrow lanes dotted with famous 'havelis'.

Havelis: Some of the most exotic mansions or 'havelis', all intricately latticed, are stretched all over Jaisalmer, each with a different facade


LAKES
Gadsisar Sagar Tank: - A scenic rain water lake with numerous beautiful shrines around. The lake is an idyllic spot for outings.

TEMPLES
Jain Temples: - The fort has three exquisitely carved Jain Temples dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras - Rishabhdevji and Sambhavnathji.


OTHERS
Gyan Bhandar or Library: Some of the oldest manuscripts of India are found in this library established as a part of Jain temples.

SHOPPING

Jaisalmer is famous for mirror work, embroidered articles, woollen pattu and other items made of good quality, locally produced wood, wooden boxes, trinklets, silver jewellery and curios.

The main shopping areas are Sadar Bazaar and Sonaron Ka Bas, Manak Chowk, Pansari Bazaar and also Rajasthali - Government shop for handicrafts and Khadi Gramodyog.

TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES

Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. (RTDC) - Tourist Information Bureau, Hotel Moomal, Jaisalmer 345 001 (Rajasthan) India

CLIMATE

Jaisalmer has got extreme climate. Best time to visit from October to February.

NEARBY CITIES

Lodurva - 16-km
Barmer - 155-km
Pokhran - 112-km
Khimsar - 295-km
Jodhpur - 285-km
Daspan - 280-km

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LAKE PALACE - UDAIPUR

 
Location: Udaipur, Rajasthan
Suroundings: Lake Pichola
Significance: Summer Residence Of The Royal Family
Present Status: Converted To A Heritage Hotel

This former summer residence of the Royal family, has now been converted into a fabulous hotel. With Pichola Lake surrounding the lake palace, lapping and murmuring, rippling waves make the whole atmosphere very pleasant. All the luxuries of the lake palace have been utilized in making the hotel as attractive and comfortable as possible. This Lake Palace Hotel is considered to be one of the best hotels in the world.

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MOUNT ABU

 
Location: 156-km From Udaipur, Rajasthan
Tourist Attractions: Dilwara Temples, Nakki Talav
Best Time To Visit: April To June And October To November

THE VERDANT OASIS
The only hill station in Rajasthan, Mount Abu huddles among the rocks on a 1,220-m granite table mountain at the far southwestern end of the Aravalli hills. It is built around a lake and is surrounded by forested hills. According to a legend, the place derives its name from Arbuda, a serpent who descended to the spot to rescue Shiva’s bull, Nandi. Besides having all the features of a pleasant hill resort,


Mount Abu is also well known for the famous Dilwara temples and many more archaeological remains. There are interesting treks and picnic spots, romantic royal retreats of the various erstwhile families of bygone Rajputana and some relics of the Raj period. The scenic landscapes include gigantic blocks of rocks in weird shapes, an array of coniferous trees, flowering shrubs, lovely lakes and the cool climate much in contrast to the arid environs of the state.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

TEMPLES
Dilwara Temples: This complex consisting of five marble Jain temples is one of the finest in Rajasthan, worth braving the queues and ferocious guards. These beautifully carved temples built between 11th & 13th century AD are sheer elegance in marble, dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras. The Vimal Vasahi Temple is the oldest of these, dedicated to the first Tirthankara. Built in 1031 AD (by Vimal Shah- a merchant and representative of the then Gujarat ruler), it is a superb example of temple architecture.

Gaumukh Temple: Dedicated to Rama, this small temple (the cow’s mouth) is centred on a spring gushing from the mouth of a marble cow. In the Hindu creation myth, the world is formed by a cow, licking salt; the source of the Ganges has the same name. This is said to be the site of the ancient 'agnikund' fire rituals. It is 4 kms south of Mount Abu. Open, free access, down 700 very steep steps.

LAKES
Nakki Talav: This holiday centre of Mount Abu, is virtually in the heart of the town. This sparkling blue artificial lake is said to have been gauged from the earth by the gods, using their fingernails ('nakh' means nail). Nearby is the 14th century Raghunath Temple.On the western edge of the town centre, Nakki Lake Road circles the entire lake. Rowing boats are available for hire from the jetty by Gandhi Park.

OTHERS
View Points: Several points around the edge of the plateau offer spectacular views across the plains. The best are Honeymoon Point (Anadra Point) and Sunset Point, where hundred of people gather to watch the sunset every evening in a carnival atmosphere of pony rides and souvenir sellers. Baylay’s Walk is a pleasant 5 km route from Nakki Lake to Sunset Point. Honeymoon Point, 2.5 kms northwest on Ganesh Road; Sunset Point, 2 km southwest on Sunset Point Road. Open, free access.

EXCURSIONS

FORTS
Achalgarh (8-km): An impressive fort with some beautiful Jain temples enclosed within. Among the noteworthy temples are Achaleswar Mahadev temple (1412 AD) and Kantinath Jain temple (1513 AD). The latter has a gold plated image. The fort was built in the 14th century AD by Rana Kumbha and is approachable by a motorable road.

TEMPLES
Adhar Devi Temple (2-km North Of Town): This ancient temple dedicated to the serpent goddess, Arbuda, is carved out of a huge rock.. Arbuda is the patron of the town, who formed the mountain in order to save the sacred cow, Nandi from drowning in an abyss. The black-painted marble idol, riding a solid gold tiger, is claimed to be about 5,000 years old. Open and free access during daylight hours.

OTHERS
Trevor’s Tank (5-km): Named after the British engineer, who constructed it, Trevor’s tank is a delight for birdwatchers with densely wooded hills that are a haven to pigeons, peacocks and partridges.

Mandakini Kund: The watersupply for Achalgarh fort and a sculpture of Parmar Daravarsh are situated close to the Achaleswar Mahadev temple.

Guru Shikhar (15-km): The highest peak on the Mount Abu (1722 mts above the sea level) allows a bird’s eye view of the idyllic surroundings of Mt. Abu. A small shaivite shrine and a temple of Dattatreya standing on the Shikhar are worth a visit.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: The nearest airport to Mount Abu is Maharana Pratap Udaipur Airport, Dabok (Udaipur) 207-km. One can hire a taxi to get to Mount Abu.

Rail:The nearest railway station is Abu Road (29-km) situated on Mumbai-Ahmedabad-Ajmer-Jaipur-Delhi route. From Abu Road one can take a taxi, jeep or bus to Mount Abu.

Road: Ahmedabad is 222-km via Palanpur. Jodhpur is 235-km via Sirohi and Pali. Udaipur is 156-km via Pidwara. (Journey on this route is advisable only during the day). Jaipur is 509-km via Pali-Ajmer. It is connected to all the major towns in northern and western India.

Local Transport: Unmetered taxis are available for local transportation within the city.

PLACES TO STAY

There are many budget hotels to suit every pocket including paying guesthouse the list of which can be obtained from the tourist reception centre Mt. Abu, opposite the bus stand.

SHOPPING

Curios in marble, sandalwood and sandstone can be bought from the shops around Nakki Lake. Kota saris, bangles and linen with Sanganeri prints are also available. For Rajasthani Handicrafts there is Rajasthali, Rajasthan Government Handicrafts Emporium and Khadi Bhandar.

TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES

Information Office: The tourist information bureau is opposite the bus stand 43151. Guides may also be hired through the tourist information bureau.
Banks: With exchange facilities, Bank of Baroda, State Bank of India, Union Bank of India.
Hospitals: Government hospital, opp. Government school and Global hospital.
Chemist: Mount Medical, near Government Hospital, Sonal Medical.
Post Office: Opp. Government Museum on Raj Bhawan Road.
Railway Reservation: Out agency, opp. Police station.

NEARBY CITIES

Udaipur: 156-km (approx.)
Jodhpur: 235-km (approx.)

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area: 25-sq-kms
Population: 18,000
Altitude: 1,219 metres
Rainfall: 60-70 inches
Festival: Summer festival (1st-3rd June).

Climate: Max Min Winter Summer
25.4 °C 7.3 °C 32.8 °C 16.8 °C

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THAR DESERT

 
Location: Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujrat
Area: 446,000 square kilometres
Features: Rolling Sand Hills, Scant Rainfall

The Great Indian Desert
Thar Desert, the huge unending expanse of burning hot sand is spread over four states in India, namely Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, and two states in Pakistan covering an area of about 446,000 square kilometres. Deriving its name from 'thul' denoting the sand ridges of the region, Thar stands divided between Sindh region in Pakistan and Rajasthan in India.

A tract of rolling sand hills, the Thar Desert is bordered by the irrigated Indus plains to the west, the Aravalli Range to the southeast, the Rann of Kachchh to the south, and the Punjab plain to the north and northeast. Yielding salt and gypsum, the desert is formed due to the scant rainfall received by the region as a result of the dryness of the prevailing monsoon winds.

Receiving an annual average rainfall of less than 10 inches, the desert is a largely a sun-scorched region of shifting sand dunes, broken rocks, and scrub vegetation. The sparsely populated region has a pastoral economy. In May 1974, India exploded its first nuclear device at Pokhran in the deserts of Rajasthan. The Legend
It is believed that aeons ago, Shri Ram drew an arrow in his bow, targetting Lanka, the island capital where his wife was held captive by the demon king, Ravana. However, such were its destructive powers that the gods pleaded with the Lord to desist from his intended purpose. But the arrow once drawn could not be pulled back and thus Rama pointed the arrow to a far-flung sea. The heat generated by the arrow dried the sea and and in its place arose a dry, arid and hot desert.

Archaeological Evidence
The many excavations of the fossils in the desert have led to the belief that the area was teeming with marine life once upon a time. It is believed that centuries ago, the earliest inhabitants who were a part of an urban civilization that arose 4500 years ago, belonged to this region. Recent excavations of the Indus Valley Civilization reveal that the settlements penetrated deep into the heart of the desert. Archaeologists have found a remarkable resemblance between the citadels and the manner of building along narrow lanes that dissect each other at right angles and more recent settlements.

The Origin
The ancient desert is believed to have been a witness to one of the earliest human civilizations. The origin of this desert is a matter of much controversy. Some consider it to be only 4000 to 10,000 years old. Many others believe that the region started becoming arid much earlier.

Vegetation
Providing nutritive and delectable pasturage, grasses form the main natural vegetation of the Thar desert. These also have medicinal value and hence alkaloids, used for making medicine, and oils for making soap, are also extracted therefrom. There is a great paucity of water and hence, the thar desert vegetation is mostly herbaceous; with the trees very rarely dotting the landscape. On the hills, Gum Arabic Acacia and Euphorbia may be found. The Khajri (Prosopis Cineraria) tree grows throughout the plains. Water is very scarce.

Climate
The area receives very scant rainfall, with the average annual rainfall varying from 100 to 500 mm. With around 90% of the rainfall attributable to southwest monsoon during the months of July and September, there are wide fluctuations in the amount of rainfall from year to year. May and June are the hottest months of the year while January is the coldest month. The mean average temperature varies from a minimum of 24 to 26 degrees C in summer to 4 to 10 degrees C in winter. Dust storms and dust raising winds blowing at very high velocity are very rampant.

The Wild In The Arid Land
Stretches of sand in the desert are interspersed by hillocks and sandy and gravel plains. About 23 species of lizards and 25 species of snakes are found here and several of them are endemic to the region. The thinly populated grasslands support the endangered Great Indian Bustard, the Black Buck, the Chikara (gazelle), and some feathered game, notably the Francolin and Quail. Among the migratory birds, Sand Grouse, Ducks and Geese are common.

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The lakes surrounding Udaipur regulates the climate, which is pleasant than in any other city in Rajasthan. The summers are hot and winters are cold but the temperature does not rise to extremes. The rainfall is less, around 61 cms annually.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Population: About three lakhs
Main Languages: Rajasthani, Hindi, English

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BHARATPUR BIRD SANCTUARY

 
Location: Bharatpur, Rajasthan.
Area: 232 sq. Kms.
Specialty: Spoon Bills.
Notified In: 1981.

This is truly a fantasy of feathers. It is the bird kingdom, where time takes wing. Welcome to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park (popularly known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary) at Bharatpur in Rajasthan. Spread over an area of little over 232 sq kms, Keoladeo derives its name from the Shiva Temple in the heart of the sanctuary. Formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, ornithologist Salim Ali, is credited for bringing this park to public notice. Background:
Prince Bhamji of Morvi state in Gujarat converted this area into a world famous wildlife reserve. Duck shoots were organised in the area every year by the rulers of Bharatpur, in honour of Viceroy Lord Curzon and his party on 1st December, 1902. The exploits of all visiting dignitaries since 1902 have been engraved on stone plaques standing near the Keoladeo temple.

Largest number of birds (4273) were killed on 12th November, 1938, by Lord Linlithgow, Viceroy & Governor General of India and his party. After independence, this reserve was notified as a bird sanctuary but the former rulers of Bharatpur continued to enjoy their shooting rights over the area till 1972. The area was notified as a National Park in 1981 but made effective only in Novemeber,1982.

Bharatpur National Park Population :
Bharatpur national park supports a population of 375 species of birds, numerous mammals and reptiles. With the onset of winter, migratory birds from all over world come here. They arrive by August and leave in February. Visitors include Coot Snipes, Spanish Sparrow, Red Crested Porhard, Rosy Pelican and Flamingo. The special attraction, however, remains the arrival of the rare Siberian Crane. Bharatpur wildlife sanctuary is also rich in Pythons, Spotted Deer, Sambhars, Blue Bull, Black Buck, Jackals, Otters, Fishing Cats, Monitor Lizards.

Nearby Attractions:
Nearby places of interest is the Government Museum, Bharatpur, which gives a glimpse of past splendour. Not far from the museum is the Bharatpur Palace, which is an excellent blend of Mughal and Rajput architecture. There is the Lohagarh Fort, which remained invincible despite several attacks by the British. Just 32 kms from Bharatpur, is the Deeg Palace. This strong and massive fort was the summer resort of the rulers of Bharatpur and has many palaces and gardens.

Bharatpur Wildlife Sanctuary Trips:
The Bharatpur Park is not very large being less than 30 sq km. There are well-defined treks, which can easily be covered on foot or on a cycle (the best way) or you can hire a rickshaw. They are available on hire. Rickshaw pullers have been trained by the park management in bird watching and are quite knowledgeable. Boats are also available on hire. A boat trip early in the morning or late evening is quite a rewarding experience. Do not forget to carry a binoculars for watching the birds.

RAJASTHAN TRAIN TRAVEL

PALACE ON WHEELS
Ever wondered what luxury in the royal times was all about! Welcome to Palace On Wheels, a luxury train that carries with it an ambience of the Rajputana era and an exciting fairytale journey, which takes the visitor to the imperial cities of Rajasthan every single day. The coaches also carry out an image of the Rajput states with beautiful interiors. Last but not the least the "Royal Treat" for the passengers on board include saloons, bar lounges & libraries in every coach as well as restaurant and organized shopping facilites.

HOW TO GET THERE

Bharatpur Park is not very far from the three Golden Triangles: Delhi , Agra and Jaipur. The best way to reach this place is by bus, which is readily available from any of these three major tourist destination. There are regular bus services to Bharatpur, both of the state transport and private operators. Travel agencies also operate conducted tours. If the group is large, ask for conducted tours from the Rajasthan tourism office. The nearest airport is that of Agra . Bharatpur has its own railway stations with many major trains halting here.

PLACES TO STAY

Perhaps no other wildlife sanctuary in India offers the range of accommodation as in Bharatpur. There are rest houses, lodges, dormitories and hotels. Rajasthan Tourism provides good accommodation at its hotel, 'Saras'. Inside the park, the Bharatpur Forest Lodge is maintained by the ITDC. Shanti Kuteer, Circuit House, Dak Bungalow are also good for a comfortable stay. Park Palace, Govind Niwas and the Tourist complex are the other choices. Almost all the houses around the park lend out one or two rooms to visitors. These are cheap and provide comfortable stay.

For reservations at the Rajasthan Tourism hotels, contact any of its tourist offices in major cities in India.

CLIMATE

Bharatpur is located on the fringes of the Thar desert. This marshy land has very warm climate. Summers are invariably hot and winters are not very cold. Carry light cottons during summers and woollens during winters. Rainfall is less but sufficient.

Best Time to Visit:
The Keoladeo National Park is open throughout the year. August-October is the breeding season, so the birds are best left alone then. The best season for visiting this place is between October to February when the migratory birds come to visit this park from all over the globe.

USEFUL INFORMATION

TOURISM OFFICES
Rajasthan Tourism
Bikaner House, Near India Gate, New Delhi- 110 001

Tourist Centre
Hotel Swagatam, Office Annexe, Near Railway Station, Jaipur

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RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK

 
Location: Ranthambore, Rajasthan.
Area: 1,334 Sq Kms.
Specialty: Tigers.
Notified In: 1980.

The Ranthambore National Park was the hunting ground of Maharaja of Jaipur. In 1955, it was declared a game sanctuary; in 1980, it became a national park. But with the commissioning of Project Tiger in 1972, it was included in the project. With the addition of neighbouring Keladevi and Mansingh sanctuaries, the total area of the national park stands at 1,334 sq km. But the entire park - the core area is just 392 sq kms - is not open to the public. The Ranthambore Park is set between the Aravalli and Vindhya ranges. Its deciduous forests were once a part of the magnificent jungles of Central India. The terrain is rugged and there are rocky ridges, hills and open valleys with lakes and pools.
Ranthambore is a heritage site because of the picturesque ruins that dot the wildlife park. There are lake palaces, 'chhatris', old fortifications and a majestic 1,000-year-old fort, overlooking the park. The lovely Jogi Mahal is located at the foot of the fort and gives magnificent view of the Padam Talao, painted white with water lilies. The Ranthambhore park is famous for tigers and due to conservation efforts, the tiger population has stabilized if not increased here. The tigers can be spotted quite often even during the day, at their normal pursuits-- hunting and taking care of their young ones. Ranthambhore is one of the best places to see these majestic predators.

Park Population :
The tigers are the prized attractions of the park. Other inmates of the park are the Antelopes, Nilgai, Sambhar and Chital, which are easy to spot. Those who are lucky enough get to see the Sloth Bear, Wild Boar, Chinkara, Porcupines and Jackals, Leopard, Jungle Cat and Marsh Crocodile.
The lakes and water holes in the Ranthambore national park are the best places to sight the animals. These water bodies are full of lotus and water lilies. Ranthambore also has a sizeable bird population, both resident and migratory. There are about 264 species of birds found within the park. Indian Hare, Mongoose and Monitor Lizards can also spotted.

Nearby Attractions :
The most fascinating and most popular excursion taken from the national park is to the Ranthambore Fort. This fort was built by the Chauhans in the 10th century. The fort is located at a very strategic position between north and central India and hence it was always coveted by many rulers. This fort is famous for the 'Johar' (suicide by immolation to escape humilitaion) by Rajput women in 1301AD during the siege by Ala-ud-din Khilji. The temples and tanks add to the beauty of the fort. The seven gates and massive curtain walls, crowning a fall-topped hill presents a majestic view.

Park Trips :
The park is toured by a jeep or a lorry. The reservation of these can be done at the Project Tiger Office at Sawai Madhopur. The tour is accompanied by a guide. In the park, one must stick to the allocated route. Entry is relatively expensive, with fees for entrance, vehicle hired, guide and camera being charged separately.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

The nearest city to the park is Sawai Madhopur. This place also provides the nearest railhead for the national park. It is 11 km from Ranthambore. Make sure about the trains if you are planning to reach the place by rail. The nearest airport is that of Jaipur, which is about 145 km away. There are regular flights of various airlines to this place. From Jaipur one has to take the road to access the national park.

PLACES TO STAY

The are excellent accommodation facilities in and around Ranthambore National Park.There are heritage hotels, hotels & rest houses of the RTDC and the Taj group also has one hotel here. The Maharaja Lodge by the Taj Group provides world class accommodation. The forest rest house, Jogi Mahal inside the park and Hotel Kamadhenu are few of the hotels maintained by the RTDC. Jhoomer Baori forests lodge is also managed by the RTDC. These hotels and rest houses are designed to suit every budget. There are few local and private accommodation available too.

CLIMATE

Located in Rajasthan, the Ranthambore Reserve is influenced by the desert type of climate. The vegetation, which is mostly dry anddeciduous, provides good cover for the animals. The climate is generally dry but annual rainfall is enough to sustain the park population. In fact, Ranthambore is one of the green patches in the otherwise barren landscape of the state.

Best Time to Visit :
The park is open for visitors from October to June. But the best season to visit Ranthambore is from November to April. This is the time when animals can be easily spotted.

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SARISKA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY

 
Location: 21 km From Alwar, Rajasthan.
Area: 765.80 sq.km.
Specialty: Tiger, Spotted Deer And Wild Boar
Notified In: 1955

THE WILD IN THE WOODEN VALLEY
Located 107 kms from Jaipur, the Sariska National Park is in a wooden valley, surrounded by barren mountains. The dry deciduous forests of the ancient Aravalli range cover the area of the Sariska National Park and Tiger Reserve.

The main fauna in the park includes the Tiger, Panther, Hyena, Jungle Cat, Civet, Sambhar, Chinkara, Nilgai and Four-Horned Antelope. Declared a Sanctuary in 1955, it became a Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger in 1979.

The other great predator of Sariska's forests is the leopard besides the ferocious tiger. Sariska has a healthy porcupine population, and this tiny creature often pits itself against the tiger, which is particularly fond of porcupine flesh.
The 'Chowsingha' (four horned antelope) is commonly found at Sariska; exclusively Indian, it is the world's only wild creature, which has two pairs of horns. The Park's terrain is also congenial to the Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) and Nilgai.

Remarkable for their lack of timidity are the Rhesus and Langur, which, at Sariska tolerate human closeness with astonishing equanimity.

The birdlife comprises of the Pea Fowl, Gray Partridge, Quail, Sandgrouse, Tree Pie, White-Breasted Kingfisher, Golden-Backed Woodpecker, Crested Serpent, Eagle and Great Indian Horned Owl.

VIEWING THE WILD
The best way to visit the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary is by jeep and these can be arranged at the Forest Reception Office on Jaipur Road.

Booking a `hide', overlooking one of the waterholes, can provide an excellent opportunity for viewing and photographing wildlife. So, pick up your sleeping bag and some food and settle down to watch.

PRIME SITES:
Within the park are the ruins of many temples.

The KANKWARI FORT The Sariska Park has historic overtones. Here, Emperor Aurangzeb once imprisoned his brother, Dara Shikoh.

THE ANCIENT SHIVA TEMPLES, in the precincts of the park, Neelkanth temples (6th-13th century AD), which are now in ruins, afford a wonderful sight to the visitors.

THE PALACE, at Sariska was once the royal reserve of the rulers of Alwar. This palace built by the Maharajas of Alwar, has now been converted into a hotel.

HOW TO GET THERE

ROAD: Sariska is situated off the Delhi-Alwar-Jaipur Road. The nearest town is Alwar (21 km). Jaipur is located at a distance of 110 km and Delhi at 200Kms. There are direct buses to Alwar from Delhi and Jaipur. Frequent buses travel between Alwar and Sariska.
RAIL: The nearest raiway station is Alwar (21 km).
AIR: Jaipur is the nearest airport.

PLACES TO STAY

Aravali Hotel
RTDC Hotel Tiger Den
Hotel Lake Palace (RTDC), Siliserh
Hotel Sariska Palace (a Heritage Hotel)
Forest Rest House

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area: 765.80 sq.km

Nearest town: Alwar

Main species found: Tiger, Panther, Hyena, Jungle Cat, Civet, Sambar, Nilgai, Chowsingha, Dhole(Wild Dog), Wild Boar, Partridge, Green Pigeon, Red Spurfowl, etc.

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SHIMLA

 
Also Known As: The Summer Refuge
Altitude: 2,159m.
Places of Interest: The Mall, Christ Church, Kufri, Narkanda
Best Time To Visit: April To August & December To January

Shimla (also spelt as 'Simla') derives its name from goddess 'Shayamla Devi', which is another manifestation of Goddess Kali. The capital of Himachal Pradesh came into light when the British discovered it in 1819. Till then, it was a part of the Nepalese kingdom. In 1864 Shimla was declared as the summer capital of India. After Independence, Shimla became the capital of Punjab and was later named the capital of Himachal Pradesh . In 1903 a rail line was constructed between Kalka and Shimla.

Shimla has been blessed with all the natural bounties, one can think of. Dwelling on a panoramic location, the hilly town is surrounded by green pastures and snow-capped peaks. The spectacular cool hills accompanied by the structures made during the colonial era create an aura, which is very different from other hill stations.

Bulging at its seams with unprecedented expansion, Shimla retains its colonial heritage, with grand old buildings, among them are the stately Viceregal Lodge, charming iron lamp posts and Anglo-Saxon names. The Mall, packed with shops and eateries, is the centre of attraction of the town, and Scandal Point, associated with the former Maharaja of Patiala's escapades, offers a view of distant snowclad peaks.

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Chhattisgarh

Main article: Tourism in Chhattisgarh

Chhattisgarh is a new state but with an ancient civilization, which can be felt by visiting the historical remains in the state. The state is blessed by nature with magnificent water falls, mountains, forests and wildlife. The Green State of Chhattisgarh has 41.33% of its area under forests and is one of the richest bio-diversity areas in the country. There are many tourist attractions worth seeing.

Main attractions of Chhattisgarh are Chitrakot Waterfalls, Kutumsar Caves, Ramgarh and Sita Bengra, Bhoramdeo temple, Sirpur, Rajim, Ratanpur and Malhar.

Kakotal is also famous for its beautiful waterfall.

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SIKKIM

 
Location: Sikkim.
Famous Festivals: Losoong, Dasain, Tihaar, Losar, Tendong Lho Rum Faat, Bhumchu, Pan Lhabsol}



Sikkim
Originally known as Suk-Heem, which in the local language means "peaceful home". Sikkim was an independent kingdom till the year 1974, when it became a part of the Republic of India. The capital of Sikkim is Gangtok, located approximately 105 kilometres from New Jalpaiguri, the nearest railway station to Sikkim. Although, Pakyong Airport is under construction in East Sikkim, the nearest airport to Sikkim is Bagdogra Airport. The popular sightseeing places include Baba Mandir, Nathula Pass, Rumtek Monastery, Handicraft Shops and Tsangpo Lake. Sikkim is considered as the land of orchids, mystic cultures and colorful traditions. Sikkim is well known among trekkers and adventure lovers.

Festivals in Sikkim

SAGA DAWA
On this day in different years of his life, Lord Buddha took birth, achieved enlightenment and attained nirvana. These three important events are celebrated in this festival. A procession carries the holy books of the teachings of Buddha from the Tsuklakhang monastery. This festival is held on the full moon of the 4th month of the Buddhist calendar in the end of May or early June.

LHABAB DHUECHEN
The festival symbolises the descent of Lord Buddha from the heaven.
Lha - means "Heaven" ; Bab - means "Descent"
According to legend, Ueen Maha Maya, the mother of Lord Buddha, did not live long, took rebirth in Trayastrimsa or the heaven of the thirty Gods. After attaining enlightenment, Lord Buddha through spiritual powers came to know about the where bouts f his mother and at the age of forty-one ascended to heavens alongwith thousands of his followers.

Lord Buddha stayed n heaven for three months during which he delivered sermons to his mother and other celestial beings. Lord Buddha had left behind on earth one of his disciples, "Maugalyayana", as his representative. This disciple and other devotees of the lord could not bear the long separation and longed to hear his preachings.

Maugalyayana, who possessed miraculous powers, was exhorted to go up to the heaven to request the Lord to return back to the earth. The Gods were not willing to let Lord Buddha return to earth but Maugalyanana suggested that as the earthly beings did not have the powers to visit heaven, the celestial beings could come to the earth to attend his preachings. Lord Buddha finally relented and descended to the earth at a place called "Sankasya" along a triple ladder that was prepared especially for the occasion by "Viswakarma" (also spelt as Vishwakarma), the God of Machines.

DRUPKA TESHI
Falls on the fourth day of the sixth Tibetan month, around august, celebrates Buddha's first preaching of the four "Noble Truths" to his first five disciples in deer park at Sarnath.
1. Truth of suffering.
2. Truth is the truth of the origin of suffering Karma and delusion and their causes.
3. Truth is the cessation of the suffering or the attainment of Nirvana.
4. Truth is the truth of the "Eight fold path" leading to Nirvana.

At Gangtok, it is marked by prayers at the Deer Park and at a secluded place called "Muguthang" in extreme north Sikkim, followed by Yak race.

PHANG LHABSOL
Popularised by the third Chogyal of Sikkim, Chakdor Namgyal, the snowy range of Kanchendzonga is worshipped for its unifying powers. This festival marks the signing of the treaty of brotherhood between the Lepchas and Bhutias by "Kye Bhumsa" and "Thekong Tek". Then the local deities were invoked to witness the occasion. In fact 'Phang' means witness. On this day, masked Lama dancers portray the guardian deity as a fiery red-faced deity with a crown of the five skulls, riding a snow-lion. It is held on the 15th day of the 7th month around end of August.

LOSOONG
The famous Bhutia festival marks the end of the harvest season and also the end of the Tibetan year. Chaam dancings at the monasteries at Palace (Tsuklakhang), Phodong and Rumtek, archery competitions and other festivities mark the occasion. The dances symbolise the exorcizing the evil spirits of the year and the welcoming of the good spirits of the New Year.

LOSSAR
Lossar (also spelt as Losar) is the Tibetan 'New Year' festival that falls in the month of February and is marked with lot of gaiety and festivities.

BUMCHU
Bum - means "Pot or Vase"
Chu - means "water"
Bumchu is celebrated at Tashiding in the month of January-February. During this festival, the lamas of the monastery open the pot containing the holy water. The level of water in the pot foretells the future for the forthcoming year. If the water is to the brim, it prophesises bloodshed and disturbances; if the pot is almost dry it signifies famine and if it is half full, it foretells a year in which peace and prosperity will prevail.

A part of the holy water is distributed amongst the participants and then the pot is replenished with river water and sealed at the end of the festival to be opened only in the next Bumchu.

DASAIN
More or less occurring a few weeks before Losoong, Dasain is the main festival of the Hindu Nepalese in Sikkim. This too signifies the victory of good over evil. The elders of the family apply 'Tika' on the young and bless them.

TIHAAR
Corresponding to the Indian festival of Diwali, Tihaar is also celebrated as the festival of lights in Sikkim with the lighting of lamps accompanied with traditional caroling called "Deusi" and "Bhailo".

TENDONG LHO RUM FAAT
Specific to the Lepchas, this festival marks the celebration of the Tendong hill. According to legend, the hill had risen like a horn during a great flood to save the Lepchas.

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GANGTOK

 
Location: East District, Sikkim
Altitude: 1,870m
Significance: Capital Of Sikkim.
Best Time To Visit: Mid- February To May End & Mid - September To December

Gangtok, the "Lofty Hill" or the "Hill made flat to build the Gangtok monastery in 1716". Gangtok is a city, which, till one sees it, one would believe exists only in picture-story books. In the mystery-laden mists prayer flags whip in the breeze; wheels spin in the hands of Lamas mumbling invocations to God, in the distance are the snows, on the streets amidst brightly painted pagoda roofed houses, lined with friendly smiling people are silver, silk and spice and jewellery to gladden an maiden's heart, from across the seven seas are gadget and goods to delight the collector of "imported goods', while directly overlooking the city is the hill Lukshyma, the 'Mother of Pearl' citadel of the magic mountain, Khang-Chen-Dzod-Nga.

An air of enchantment hangs over the city, indeed the whole valley; the mysticism, the stupas, the monasteries reach out as soon as one has crossed the border. While across the hills and valleys comes the sounding of the long trumpets by robed lamas.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

Tsuklakhang - The Royal Chapel
The Royal Chapel, Tsuklakhang, is within the palace grounds. Popularly called Tsulakhang royal. It is the principal place of worship and assembly and the repository of a vast collection of Buddhist scriptures.

"Dul-Dul Chorten" - "Jhang Club Chortan"
Sikkim has commemorated, with Stupas, both the Buddha and one of his followers of today. Near the Deorali Bazaar, are two exquisite Stupas, the "Dul-dul-Chorten", was built to commemorate the victory of good over evil; the "Jhang Club Chorten" was built to perpetuate the memory of a great spiritualist of today. Thrul-shik rinpoche an ardent devotee of Buddha and one of his best interpreters died in 1962, the Stupa immortalises Rimpoche in the land of his birth.

Research Institute Of Tibetology
In the serene surrounding amidst forest of oak, ash and birch is an organisation to advance the Tibetan language and its literature on the "Enlightened one", the only one of its kind in the world of Mahayana Buddhism. This institute is a premier institute in the world that conducts research in the language and culture of Tibet. It has on its faculty eminent scholars. The library and museum of the institute are open to the public on working days from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm and are closed on Sundays and other govt. holidays.

Government Institute Of Cottage Industries
This institute is located at about half a kilometre uphill from the main market of Gangtok. It was established with the purpose of promoting the manufacture and sale of local handicrafts. Thankas (also spelt as Thangkas), hand carved wooden tables - known as Choksees and exquisitely woven woolen carpets.

More than hundred student workers turn out cottage crafts produced here, with textures, plush and exotic, the designs varying from sophisticated simplicity to a brilliant riot of varmillion pitted against intense blue, are durable and popular all over the world second to carpets in popularity is Sikkimese Tankhas, variegated appliqué work Batiks and exquisite dolls, in wood-work are available intricately carved Sikkimese tables, hand-painted masks, lamp-stands, shades and bamboo-craft. Esoteric masks, flashing silks, opulent brocades and embroidered boots, clothe the Sikkimese dancers.

Tashi View Point
Situated along the North Sikkim highway it is only 8-km from Gangtok. From this point one can get a breathtaking view of Mount Khangchendzonga and Mt. Siniolchu, one of the most graceful peaks in the world.

Ganesh Tok
It is situated on a ridge and is only 7-km from Gangtok. From this spot one gets birds view of sprawling Gangtok town down below while across the hills Mt. Khangchendzonga and Mt. Siniolchu loom over the horizon. A cafeteria serves hot tea/coffee and snacks.

Hanuman Tok
It is 11-km from Gangtok town, above Ganesh Tok with a Hindu temple where the devotees come and offer prayers.

Deer Park
Adjacent to the new secretariat and also called the Rustomji Park named after one of the Dewans of the Chogyal of Sikkim, the park has a big open enclosure in which animals native to Sikkim like the red panda and the Himalayan Bear are kept. A big statue of Lord Buddha commemorating his preachings of the noble truths in the Deer Park at Sarnath adorns the park premises. A butter lamp perpetually burns in front of the statue, which is surrounded with flowers of exotic variety. The park commands a fantastic view of the hills, surrounding Gangtok.

White Hall
It was built in 1932 in memory of the first political officer of Sikkim, Claude White. There is an Officers Club and a Badminton Court in the white hall.

The Ridge
The ridge is a small stretch of plain and flat road above the town of Gangtok. It is just about five minutes walk from the main market. The ridge has the white hall and the chief minister's official residence on one end and the beautifully designed palace gate on the other. The ridge is lined with plants and trees when in bloom are a riot of colours. Flower shows, which attract tourists from all over the world are held just below the ridge.

The Ipecac Garden
This 6 acres garden is about 14-km downhill from Gangtok and 2-km from Ranipul. It is named after the plant Ipecac that is grown here. Besides this plant, it also contains a wide variety of other flora including numerous types of orchids and medicinal plants. It is a very good picnic spot with a swimming pool nearby.

Changu Lake
With an average depth of 50 ft, this lake is situated 35 km from Gangtok at an altitude of 12,000 ft on the Gangtok - Nathu-la highway. Recently this lake has been opened for tourists. Its cool, placid water is in the perfect harmony with the scenic beauty around. A small temple of Lord Shiva is constructed on the lakeside. Primulae flowers and other alpine vegetation grow wild around the lake. The department of Tourism conducts package tours to this lake. Cameras are not allowed to carry on this route.

A little distance from the lake is a beautiful natural three storeyed cave, the Tseten Tashi cave is a worth to visit.

Menmecho Lake
Menmecho Lake lies 20-km ahead of Changu Lake, cradled between the mountains below Jelapla Pass, is the source of River Ranpochu, which meets Teesta at Rangpo. It is rich in trout. A Dak Bungalow and a tourist lodge are available for overnight stay.

Kechopari Lake
On bifurcation road between Gyalsing and Yoksum, is clear water Kechopari Lake (means - wishing lake). All around are mountains with dense forests and wild life. It is so placid, crystal clear that not a leaf can be seen floating over it, because it is immediately lifted by birds.

Kabi Longstok
25-km from Gangtok, just before Phodong is Kabi Longstok. There is a spot amidst tall trees, where the treaty of brotherhood between, the Lepcha Chieftan - Tetong Tek and the Tibetan chief Khye Bhumsa was signed.

Yumthang Hot Springs
At an altitude of 12,000 ft, 135-km from Gangtok in north Sikkim, a few hundred metres off the road, after crossing river Lachung over a pedestrian bridge lies these Sulphur springs. There is a hut with two pools for bathing.

Yumthang
Yumthang is a grazing pasture with a forest rest house, surrounded by vertical mountains. The route to Yumthang from Lachung, adjoining the Singba Forest Reserve has a very picturesque landscape and is lined with Rhododendrons, which bloom in May.

Yaksey
Yaksey, a tourist lodge, 6-km from Lachung towards Yumthang is an ideal place for tourists to this area. Another 23-km leads to Yumey-Samdong hot springs near river Sebu-Chu at the foot of Donkia-La pass, which connects Lachung valley to Lachen valley.

Phurchachu Reshi Hot Springs
Around 25-km from Gyalsing, near Reshi, after crossing Rangeet River (also spelt as Ranjit) by a pedestrian bridge, hardly ten minutes from the highway is Phurchachu springs with medicinal properties, ideal for skim diseases. These springs are considered holy as one of the four holy caves is located here. This holy cave is called the "Kadosangphu" or 'Cave of the occult fairies' and lies on the south of the four cardinal points.

EXCURSIONS

Rumtek Monastery
Visible from Gangtok, a 24-km road trip southwest of the capital, the large Gompa of Rumtek is the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage - founded during the 12th century by the first Gyalwa Karmapa, Dusun Khyenpa.

Phoodong Monastery
This monastery is located about a kilometre above the North Sikkim Highway about 40-km away from Gangtok. Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal built the monastery sometime in the first quarter of the 18th century.

Labrang Monastery
A kilometre further from Phodong, the Labrang monastery was built about 100 years later. This monastery belongs to the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, the same as that of Pemayangtse monastery in West Sikkim. Its name translates simply as the dwelling place of the Lamas (monks).

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: The closest airport is at Bagdogra, which is 124-km from Gangtok (about 4 hours drive) and connected by air with all-important Indian Metros. For all further details please contact any one of the Sikkim tourism offices.
Rail: The nearest railhead is at New Jalpaiguri, which is 125-km (about 4 hours drive) from Gangtok. NJP is well connected with all major cities of India. Gangtok, railway bookings can be made at the booking counter of the Sikkim nationalised transport terminus.
Road: Gangtok is connected with Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Siliguri by the national highway 31 A. the Sikkim nationalised transport plies regular bus services between Gangtok and Siliguri and within Sikkim. Private buses, jeeps and taxis are also available from Siliguri and Bagdogra. Bookings can be made at the SNT terminus, Siliguri.

PLACES TO STAY

Gangtok has quite good hotels for a comfortable stay. There are youth hostels and various lodges, which give tourists a comfortable stay in Gangtok.

SHOPPING

The main markets for shopping are Old market, New Market and Lal market. Here one finds shops of all kind, which offer good range of items to be purchased. For tourists there are many attractive items to be bought as carved furniture, the dresses, Lepcha weave bags, Carpets & Durries with intricate designs and colourful decorations. One can also buy wooden and bamboo artifacts. For a collector of handmade decorative pieces Gangtok is a paradise. The items from Gangtok leave a long lasting impression on the mind of the visitor. The Hindi speaking Marwaris dominates many of the shops in the Gangtok market.

The handicraft and handloom directorate office and the showroom are on crossing of MG Marg and New market. The Gramin Vikas Agency showroom is also located here. In these showrooms one can buy carpets, masks, bright Choktse tables, Thanka hangings.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Indian tourists require no entry permits into Sikkim, except for the restricted areas. Foreign tourists require a special permit, which is easily available at all Indian missions abroad who are authorised to issue a 15-day permit. The same can also be obtained from any of the Sikkim Tourism offices. The tourism officer at the border town of Rangpo is also authorised to issue a 2-day permit to foreign tourists to enable them to enter the state and acquire the full 15-day permit.

NEARBY CITIES

Bagdogra: 124-km
Siliguri: 110-km
Kalimpong Via Tista: 75-km
Jalpaigurhi: 125-km
Darjeeling : 94-km
Gangtok To Pemayangtse Via Singtam Rabangla & Legship: 112-km
Singhik: 72-km
Tsongo: 40-km
Lachung: 126-km
Yumthang: 149-km

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SRINAGAR

 
Location: Kashmir Region, J&K;
Main Attractions: Canals, Houseboats & Mughal Gardens
Significance: Capital Of J&K.;
Best Time To Visit: In Summer - June To Early November In Winter - December To February

The capital of Jammu and Kashmir and the largest city in the state, Srinagar (1,730m) is famous for its canals, houseboats and Mughal gardens . The city itself is quite unlike most other large Indian cities for here you are much more in Central Asia than on the sub continent. It's a city full of intriguing alleyways and curious buildings. A place where it's very easy to spend a few hours simply wandering - particularly along the old city streets near the Jhelum river.

An Ancient Learning Centre Arts & Culture
The city has long been a centre of the arts and learning - it has had a university or for hundreds of years and is a centre of Sanskrit study. 'Sri' means beauty or wealth of knowledge and 'Nagar' means city. The city was originally founded by the great Buddhist emperor Ashoka - his old city is marked by the present village of Pandrethan. The present city was founded by Pravarasena II (79-139 AD) who named it "Praparapura" and built it practically contiguous with the old capital, which was called "Srinagari".

Praparapura is recorded in Chinese annals by Hiuan Tsang who visited the city in about 630 AD and described it as extending about 4-km from north to south and about 2-km from east to west along the right bank of the Jhelum. King Ananta was the first to transfer his royal residence to the left bank of the river.

A Legend
Legend has it that when Pravarasena decided to build himself a new capital, to choose the location he started walking at midnight and was confronted by a demon on the other side of the Mahasarit River. The demon spread his bent leg across the stream and dared the king to cross over it to the other side. The king cut off the leg with one stroke of his sword and calmly crossed.

The demon was delighted with the king's boldness and told him to build the city where he would find the beginnings of a plan laid out for him. The next morning the king found the boundary lines drawn at the foot of Hari Parbat and built his city there. To this day the waters of the Dal Lake are separated from the Tsont-i-Kul by a Sathu or Bund that is shaped like a bent leg.

Houseboats
If one is longing for the delights of a houseboat holiday, then check out lakes of Srinagar to try one. Srinagar is a unique city because of its lakes - the Dal , Nagin and Anchar. The River Jhelum also flows through a part of the city.

Most houseboats on the Nagin and the Jhelum are situated on the banks of the lake, and can be accessed directly from land without the help of a Shikara. While all those on the Dal require a Shikara to get to and from them. Most houseboats on the Dal are situated in long straggling rows; some face the boulevard, Srinagar's exciting address, while others are situated singly or in groups of two and three.

City Of Lakes
Srinagar's lakes are the reason why the city receives so many tourists. Not just expanse of water, the lakes are filled with houseboats, villages, narrow water canals, lotus and vegetable gardens and houses and shops.

Life on the lakes, as witnessed from the confines of a Shikara, is unique. It is possible to book a Shikara for the whole day and sightsee Nishat Garden, Nasim Bagh, Hazratbal Mosque, Pathar Masjid and Shah Hamdan's Shrine, having a picnic lunch in the boat.

While Nagin is quieter, the Dal is full of local colour, with tourists being rowed in Shikara to shops selling every conceivable handicraft - all within the lake.

Let's Have A Ride Of The Lake!
A Shikara ride is one of the most soothing, relaxing aspects of a holiday in Kashmir. It can be an hour-long ride to see the sights of the Dal; a shopping by Shikara expedition to visit handicraft shops within the periphery of the lake; or a whole day trip to visit important city landmarks.

Because the Dal is so central to the landscape of Srinagar, many places of tourist interest have, over the ages, been built in its vicinity.

The Mughal Gardens
The art of designing formal gardens which the Mughal (also spelt as Moghul) emperors expended such time and energy upon, reached its zenith in Kashmir. The Mughal gardens in Agra or Lahore may be very fine but only in Kashmir is the formal beauty of the gardens matched by the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside. The gardens follow a standard pattern with a central channel carrying water through the descending terraces in a delightful series of cascades, falls and pools.

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SOUTH INDIA

Much Known For: Temples, Churches, Beaches, Wildlife
Famous Destinations: Cochin, Hyderabad, Chennai
Prime Travel Attractions: Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Marina Beach, Ooty Hillstation
Exclusive To South India: Tirupati Temple, Kerala Backwaters, Ayurveda

Welcome to the South India. A mystical land of pilgrimages with most spiritual places in the abode of the gods. A conglomerate of religions that are as diverse as the Indians who see spirituality in diverse forms. Despite the diversity of faith, all the religions have not just coexisted but also flourished to the pinnacle in South India. The most popular abode include Tirupati, home of the Hindu god - Venkateshvara, Madurai known for its huge Gopurams towers, Rameshwaram, a nationwide pilgrimage centre and much much more .....

With its intricate embellishments and exquisite architecture, South Indian monuments represent one of the most prominent facets of the multi-faceted India. Be it Charminar - an astounding engineering feat , the spellbinding Hampi or the imposing Golconda Fort, Meenakashi temple or the Belgaum fort there is evident in the master craftsmanship and elegance, that brings to the fore the grandeur of the bygone era.

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KODAIKANAL

 
Location: 120 Km From Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Popularly Known As: Kodai
Famous Festival Summer Festival
Best Time To Visit: April To June And September To October

Kodaikanal located amidst the folds of the verdant Pali hills is one of the most popular serene hill stations in India, which mesmerises any visitor. With her wooded slopes, mighty rocks, enhancing waterfalls and a beautiful lake, Kodaikanal is a charming hill station.

Kodai is situated at an altitude of about 2,133-m high and covers an area of 21.45-sq-km. The hill town is renowned for its educational institutions of international repute. The pride of Kodaikanal is the 'Kurinji-flower', which blossoms once in 12 years. The hill-plantain fruits and plums are known for their freshness and taste.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

Berijam Lake
Berijam Lake is one of the beautiful picnic spots in Kodai, located 21-km away from the bus stand. This lake supplies drinking water to Periakalam town. The scenery around here is delightful.

Boat Club

In 1910, a new boathouse was constructed, but only from May 1929, few tourists were permitted to avail boat ride as temporary members. Later on they were extended to the public and tourists in 1932. Boats like T.T.D.C, Kodai boats, Carlton boats are available for hire.

Bryant Park
Bryant Park situated on the eastern side of the lake, is noted for flowers, hybrids and rafts. Varieties of flowers can be seen in a glasshouse. The annual horticultural show is held here in May.

Shenbaganur Museum
Shenbaganur Museum is located about 5-Km from the lake. The Sacred Heart College maintains this museum. One of the best orchidoriums in the country with more than 300 species of orchids and wide-ranging collection of birds are found here.

Coaker's Walk
Coaker's Walk derives the name from Lt. Coaker, who prepared the map of Kodai and it is about a kilometre from the lake, which runs along a steep slope on the southern side of the Kodai. Some of the best views of the plains can be seen from here.

Kodaikanal Lake
Kodaikanal Lake is a magnificent man-made lake, which spreads out in a star shape over sixty acres is a main attraction as it is set among the greenery. The boat club here offers several pleasure and racing trips.

Pillar Rocks
Within the city limits one can see three boulders standing shoulder - to - shoulder vertically measuring to a height of about 122 metres providing a panoramic view.

Kurinji Andavar Temple
The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Murugan and is about 3.2-km from the lake. In Tamil literature "Kurinji" means "Hilly Region" and "Andavar" means God. From this temple, one can get a view of the northern plains and Palani Hills.

Silver Cascade
Silver Cascade waterfall is located on the Ghat Road about 8-km from Kodaikanal. The overflow of Kodai Lake comes down here as 180 feet high falls.

Bear Shola Falls
An ideal picnic spot located 1.6-km from the lake, which can be by a picturesque, rugged hill path. Bears once used to drink water above the falls.

Telescope Houses
To enable the visitors to have a panoramic view of the valley and the nearby towns, two telescope houses have been put up at Kodai.

CLIMATE

The climate of Kodaikanal is pleasant throughout the year, but the best time to visit Kodaikanal is from April to June and from September to October.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: The nearest airport is at Madurai (120 km from Kodaikanal).
Rail: The nearest railway stations are the Kodai Road Railway Station (80-km) and the Palani Railway Station (64-km).
Road: Kodaikanal is connected by road with Chennai (520-km), Ooty (264-km), Trichy (197-km), Coimbatore (175-km), Kumili (160-km), and Madurai(120-km). Regular bus services are available from Madurai, Palani, Kodaikanal Road, Theni, Dindigul, Tiruchirapalli, Kumuli (Thekkady) and Coimbatore. Additional buses ply during the season. Taxis and vans are available for local transportation. There are no auto-rickshaws in Kodaikanal.

WHERE TO STAY

Kodaikanal offers good accommodation facilities to the tourists. The TTDC run Hotel Tamil Nadu on Fern Hill Road is one example where comfortable accommodation is provided to tourists.

SHOPPING

The famous places to shop in Kodaikanal are the Khadi Emporium, Handloom Co-operative Stores and Travancore Crafts Work, Government Sales Emporium, Kurinji Mini Supermarket, Spencer and Company.

THE SUMMER FESTIVAL IN KODAIKANAL

There are several beautiful hill stations in Tamil Nadu. With the Summer Festivals, the hills are even hospitable to welcome the visitors. The summer festival is held in the 'Queen of Hill Stations', the evergreen Ooty; the exquisite Kodaikanal or the salubrious heights of Yercaud. Cultural programs, adventure sports, boat races, flower and fruit shows add to the splendour of the festival.

ENTERTAINMENT IN KODAIKANAL

The Golf Club is located 5-km from the Kodaikanal Lake. Boating and Angling facilities are available at the Kodaikanal Lake. Picturesque trek routes are available in and around Kodaikanal. For details, contact: The Trek Director, Department of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu, Chennai.

TOURIST OFFICE

Government of Tamil Nadu Tourist Office
Municipal Bus Stand
Rest House Complex (Near Bus Stand),
Kodaikanal -624101

Area 21.45-sq-km.
Population 2,7461 (1991 Census)
Altitude 2,133 metres
Temperature Range (deg C) Summer - Max 19.8ºC, Min 11.3 ºC
Winter- Max17.3ºC, Min8.3ºC
Clothing Light woollen in the evening during summer and heavy woollen during winter.
Rainfall 165 cms (average). Heavy rains occur during October-December.
Languages Spoken Tamil and English
STD Code 04542

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UDHAGAMANDALAM (OOTY)

 
Location: Niligiri District, Tamil Nadu
Discovered By: British In 1800
Highest Peak:Doddabetta
Famous Festivals:Summer Festival And The Tea And Tourism Festival

Udhagamandalam (Ooty), the capital of Nilgiri district, is popularly known as the "Queen of hill stations' among the tourist circuits. It is situated at a distance of 105 km away from Coimbatore. The height of the hills in the Nilgiri range varies between 2280 and 2290 metres, the highest peak being Doddabetta at a height of 2623 metres.

History Of This Beautiful Hill Resort
It is believed that the name Nila, has been in use for over 800 years since, the King of the Hoysalas Vishnu Vardhana, who ruled from 1104 to 1141 AD seized the Nilgiris Plateau. His general Ponisia recorded this fact in 1117 AD with mention of Todas. The name Nilgiri was due to the blue haze, which envelops the range with most distant hills of considerable size.

This Nilgiri territory came into possession of the East India Company as part of the ceded lands, held by Tipu Sultan, by the treaty of Srirangapatnam in 1799. Rev. Jacome Forico, a priest was the first European who visited Nilgiris in 1603 and released his notes about the place and people of Nilgiris. In 1812 surveyor William Keys and Macmohan visited the top of the plateau.

In 1818, Wishand Kindersley, Assistant and Second Assistant to Collector of Coimbatore visited this spot and submitted their experience report to the Collector of Coimbatore Mr. John Sullivan. Settlement in Udhagamandalam began in 1822 with the construction of the Stone House by John Sullivan, the then Collector of Coimbatore. The bungalow, which is locally called "Kal Bangla", is one of the landmarks of Udhagamandalam and is now the Chamber of the Principal of the Government Arts College.

The Tea
The establishment of numerous tea estates made Ooty famous. Lofty mountains, dense forest, sprawling grasslands and miles and miles of tea gardens greet the passengers on most routes. The annual Tea and Tourism Festival attracts crowds in huge numbers. Visit Ooty during this festival, when tea lovers from all over the world converge. An occasion not to be missed!

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

otanical gardens are a major tourist attraction for those who visit Ooty, one of the most popular hill stations of India. They sprawl over 50-acre and lie on the lower slopes of Doddabetta peak, which is the highest point in Ooty. Marquis of Tweeddale established these gardens in the year 1848.

The gardens are formally laid out with lily ponds, and there are clipped bushes in the form of elephants, with raised trunks. One can find a thousand different species of plants including some thirty types of eucalyptus in these gardens. There is also a fossilised tree trunk, which is said to be 20 million years old. Towards the eastern part of the garden there is a wooden house made of logs known as "Toda Mund", which provides an excellent view.

Rose Garden
Rose Garden is situated about 3 to 4-km away from Charring Cross. They are spread over an area of 10 acres of land with 2000 variety of roses. Rose Gardens lie on the way to the boathouse.

Mini Garden
Mini garden is also situated on the way to the boathouse where the children amusement park is housed. A snack bar is also available. Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation Limited maintains these gardens.

Ooty Lake
About 1-km distance there is an artificial lake with a charming look, which was formed in 1824 by Mr. John Sullivan, the then Collector of Coimbatore.

St Stephens Church
Situated in the hilly area on Club Road, St Stephens Church is said to be the oldest in the Nilgiris. The church was built in 1829 and consecrated in 1830. The beam of the church was taken from the palace of Tipu Sultan at Srirangapatnam. The cemetery close by houses the grave of John Sullivan, the founder of Ooty.

Doddabetta
Doddabetta is the highest peak (2623 meters) in the Nilgiris, which is about 10-km from Ooty. It is a beautiful place lying between the junction of the Western and Eastern Ghats and offers a beautiful view of the Nilgiri hill ranges. It is surrounded by dense Sholas.

Deer Park
At a distance of 1-km from the Lake there is a Deer Park, which is worth visiting.

Government Museum
The government museum, Mysore Road, Ooty has items of tribal objects, district's ecological details and representative sculptural arts and crafts of Tamil Nadu. It was set up in 1989, with a view to provide education benefits to the residing and visiting population of Nilgiris district.

Hindustan Photo Films
The Hindustan Photo Films, one of the major industrial units of the district, is located about 5-km away from Ooty railway station over a sprawling area of over 300 acres, near the Ooty golf-links on the Ooty- Mysore road.

EXCURSIONS

The Mukkurthi Peak And National Park
About 40-km from Ooty, is a beautiful peak called "Mukkurthi". The Mukkurthi National Park is located on the Southern corner of the Nilgiri Plateau. The Kollaribetta and Nilgiris Peak are other major peaks around. A number of little perennial streams flow between these peaks, which fall into Bhavani Puzha. Silent Vally is located on the Western side in the Western Ghat, which is a feast to the visitor's eye.

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary
This sanctuary is located where the Nilgiri Hills, the offshoot of the Western Ghats meet the Eastern Ghats. The Mudumalai Wildlife sanctuary has varied mixture of flat land, open grassland, swamp, valley and nullas.

Pykara
Pykara is situated about 21-km from Ooty. Some of the tourist attractions of this place are well-protected fenced sholas, Toda settlements, undisturbed grassy meadows and also a good wildlife habitat. The Pykara Dam, Pykara falls and the reservoir attracts many tourists. A boathouse with restaurant and a rest house are available at Pykara.

Best Time To Visit
The climate of Ooty is pleasant throughout the year. The best time to visit is between February to May and September to November.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: Coimbatore, 105 km from Ooty, is the nearest airport.
Rail: Ooty is on the narrow gauge railway, connected to Mettupalayam (47 km), which is directly connected to Coimbatore and Chennai. The famous toy train connects Ooty with Mettupalayam and Coonoor.
Road: A good network of roads and national highways connect Ooty with all major towns and cities. There are regular bus services to and from Coimbatore, Trichy, Bangalore, Madurai, Kanyakumari, Mysore, Palghat, Calicut, Tirupati and other important destinations in South India. Ooty is also well connected with major cities of Kerala and Karnataka.

Local Transport
Taxis, tourist cabs, auto rickshaws are available in plenty. There are no standard rates except tourist cabs. Town buses are also available to all important places. Conducted sight seeing tours are arranged by the private operators and the Government Tourism Development Corporation.

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation is available at the luxurious and economy class hotels, lodges, and resorts in Ooty. Both Indian and Western style accommodation and food are available. Prior booking is advisable, especially during the summer months.

ENTERTAINMENT IN OOTY

Trekking
The Nilgiris are a trekker's paradise. Landscaped by nature, the hills abound in trek for lovers of nature. There are treks and treks in whichever direction you turn and from whichever point you start. A trek can be full of thrill, excitement and adventure and a way of seeing and enjoying nature in all its beauty and splendour.

Udhagamandalam (Ooty) offers several trek routes, which vary in distance, altitudes and terrain. There is a base camp at Parsons valley, from where one can start trekking to various points within Western Ghats. The down hills of Western Ghats on the North ends up with meeting the extensions of Eastern Ghats, where the sprawling Mudumalai Sanctuary lies which opens vistas for adventure tourists.

Trekking pamphlets are available with the Nilgiri Wildlife and Environment Association (NWLEA). There are guides who have sound knowledge of certain areas. If necessary, their services may be hired. And for further details contact the Tourist Information Office at Charring Cross, Ooty.

Hang-Gliding
Hang-glidng courses are also organised during March to May every year, with the assistance of the Department of Tourism. Contact the Tourist Officer, Ooty for assistance.

Angling
Goad Trout, Carp and mixed water fishing is possible in various streams and lakes of Ooty. The Assistance Director of Fisheries issues the fishing licence.

FESTIVALS

Summer Festivals
A summer festival is held each year during the month of May in the Botanical Gardens, which is an added attraction for tourists. The Flower Show is the pride of the festival. Cultural programmes are organised for those interested in traditional classical arts. Adventure spots like trekking also form part of the festival.

Tea And Tourism Festival
The annual "Tea and Tourism Festival" celebrated in the month of January is a draw for tourists.

SHOPPING

Just about anything available in the cities can be had at Ooty with the added attraction of leisurely shopping. Exclusive Nilgiri products including Nilgiri tea, fruits, natural oils like Eucalyptas, Toda embroideries, plant nurseries are easily available in the town. Co-operative Super Market and Municipal Market are some of the best places for shopping fruits and general groceries. Kairali of Kerala Handicrafts and Poompuhar of Tamil Nadu Handicrafts have their showrooms near to Super Market Buildings on Charring Cross.

RESTAURANTS

Blue hills
Chandan Vihar
Tandoor Mahal
Ooty Coffee House
Chinkos Chinese Restaurant
Hills Palace

TOURIST OFFICE

Tourist Office, Government of Tamil Nadu
Supermarket Complex
Charring Cross
Udhagamandalam-1

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area 36-sq-kms
Population 8,1763 (1991 Census)
Altitude 2,623 metres
Clothing Light woollen in summer and heavy woollen during winter
Languages Spoken Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and English
STD Code 0423
Temperature Range (deg C): Summer- Max 25ºC, Min 10ºC
Winter- Max 21ºC, Min 5ºC
Rainfall 121 cms

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Madurai

 
Location : Tamil Nadu
Historical Significance: Remained The Capital Of Pandayan Empire Till 14th Century.
Main Attractions: Meenakshi Temple, Koodal Azhagar Temple, Thirumalai Nayak Mahal
Festive Attractions: Meenakshi Kalyanam In April-May And The Teppam Festival

Madurai or the "city of nectar" is the oldest and second largest city of Tamil Nadu. This city is located on Vaigai River and was the capital of Pandyan rulers till the 14th century. The Pandyan king, Kulasekhara had built a gorgeous temple around which he created a lotus shaped city. Mythology says when city was being named; Lord Shiva blessed the city and its people. On the auspicious occasion some Divine nectar ("Madhu") fell from the matted locks of Shiva and hence the city was named "Madhurapuri". This sacred town of south attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors from India as well as abroad.

Madurai's Pilgrimage - Meenakshi Temple

The life of Madurai revolves around the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. This magnificently carved temple is the main attraction of Madurai and its huge Gopurams towers over the city. Meenakshi temple has a thousand pillared 'Mandapam'. Precisely there are 985 pillars and each of them is delicately and exquisitely carved. Among these are the musical pillars, which produce music when tapped. Surprisingly, these musical pillars are carved out of a single granite rock. The temple has been a hub of Tamil culture and has been sponsoring literature, art, music, and dance in the region for a long time. The temple also has an art museum. The city apart from temple is crammed with shops, street markets and temples, pilgrims choultries, hotels and restaurants. Though Madurai is considered as pilgrimage but it has also developed as a business centre and is famed for its traditional handicrafts in bronze and brass.

PRIME ATTRCATIONS

Meenakshi Amman Temple

An excellent example of Dravidian Architecture, the Meenakshi Temple attracts devotees from all over India and Tourist from all over the world. One can climb to the southern Gopuram of the temple to get a great view of the city.

Koodal Azhaar Temple

One of the most ancient temples in Madurai, Koodal Azhagar temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. In this temple he is seen in various postures sitting, standing, reclining one over the other. There are intricate woodcarvings in here, including one of Lord Rama's coronation.

Vandiyur Kanmoy Tourist Complex

This is an ideal picnic spot with TTDC providing boathouses restaurants services.

Thirumalai Nayak Mahal

This palace is an excellent example of Indo-Sarcenic architecture. It was built in 1523 AD and originally was four times larger than what it is today. The gardens, the defensive wall all have gone and what remains are the main entrance gate, the dancing hall and the main hall. Lord Napier renovated the palace in 1866-72 and later further restoration works were carried on. Today, the main attraction of the palace is light and sound show, which is based on the life of "Tirumalai Nayak" and "Silapathikaram".

Vanditur Mariamman Teppakulam

This huge tank is covers an area equal to the six of Meenakshi temple. Tirumalai Nayak built it in 1646. It is said that channels from the Vaigai River connect the tank. Today, this tank remains empty for most of the year except during the Teppam Festival.

The Gandhi Museum

The museum was initially the palace of Rani Mangammal. It gives a clear account of the history of Independence movement of India. This museum also tells some little known facts about Gandhiji but the real piece of Gandhi Memorabilia is the blood stained Dhoti, which he was wearing at the time of his assassination. The local government museum is also situated over here. The small bookshop offers plenty of reading material from Gandhiji's works.

Thirupparankundram

This is one of the abodes of Lord Sundareshwara, a rock cut temple carved out of a mountain, just 8-km from the city.

Azhagar Koil
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is located 18-km northeast of Madurai on a picturesque hilltop. The gold image of Azhagar travels for the Celestial marriage during the Chithirai festival.

Pazhamudhirsolai

On the same hills of Azhagar Koil this is again one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya.

EXCURSIONS

Vaigai Dam

Vaigai dam is surrounded by well-manicured gardens and has come up as a popular picnic spots, just 70-km from Madurai.

Kodaikkanal

One of the best hill stations in India and one of the few in South India, Kodaikkanal or Kodai is a very beautiful place near Madurai. It takes just 121-km of travel to reach Kodai. Kodai is located 2,130 m above the sea level in the Western Ghats.

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

One of the well-known wildlife sanctuaries in the south, Periyar sanctuary attracts a large number of nature lovers every year. Also called the Tekkadi wildlife sanctuary, this place is appropriate to watch and observe the animals in their natural habitat. The forest of this sanctuary slope into the man made lake at the bottom of the hill

Megamalai

The tea estates on the slopes of the Western Ghats nestles Megamalai. This lovely place is bound to capture your imagination. Good place to stay and enjoy a lovely surrounding. One can also watch the animals roaming in the forest, which are close to Megamalai, Just 130-km from Madurai.

Suruli Falls

123-km from Madurai city is Suruli falls, which are located in a picturesque area. It is an ideal spot and an excellent picnic spot to spend one day.

Courtallam

Courtallam is located about 167-km on the Western Ghats and is an excellent health resort in this part of the country. This place is also known as the 'Spa of the South'. Courtallam is located just 160-km from Madurai. This place has got nine splendid waterfalls, which attracts a large number of visitors. TTDC offers here a boathouse accommodation apart from the restaurant.

Palani

118-km from Madurai is the temple dedicated to Lord Subramanyam. The temple is located on top of a hill 180 meter high. The temple attracts many devotees and people coming to Madurai do not miss visiting Palani. From the hill top one gets an excellent view of the nearby area.

Viraganur Dam

This ideal picnic spot is located just 8-km from Madurai.

Kumbakkarai Water Falls

This place serves as the base camp for the trekkers who venture in the hills of Kodai. Kumbakkarai Water Falls are 105-km from Madurai and form an excellent picnic spot. Waterfall surrounded by forests combined with the pristine beauty of the hills creates a very soothing atmosphere.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: Madurai has its own airport and there are flights, which connect the city with Chennai, Tiruchirappalli. The airline services have at least one flight daily from Madurai to Chennai. From there one can take flight to anywhere in India.

Rail: Madurai has one of the major railway junctions of South India. It is connected with the all the major tourist as well as religious places in Tamil Nadu. Though there are not many trains, which connect the city with major cities of India such as, Madurai is easily accessible from any part of the nation.

Road: There are good motorable roads, which connect this, second largest city of Tamil Nadu with other parts of the state as well as other places in India. Madurai has five bus stands, which cater to the needs of the people.

WHERE TO STAY

Madurai has got a wide range of accommodation, varying from reasonable ones to luxurious that cater for the flocks of pilgrims and tourists. Most of the reasonable places to stay are located at Town Hall Road and West Perumal Maistry Street, not far from the railway station.

OTHER TOURIST INFO

FAIRS & FESTIVALS

Most important festival of Madurai is the sacred wedding ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwar. This festival is held during March -April. During this festival the city displays a colourful and joyous mood. Images of the divine couple are taken around the city in a tastefully decorated chariot, amidst the presence of a huge gathering of devotees. The notes of Nadaswaram and drums further aggravate the festive ambience.

The annual float festival marks the images of Meenakshi and her consort floating on the Mariamman tank on an illuminated raft bedecked with flowers. As such there are festivals throughout the year in Madurai. All most 11 big annual festivals are celebrated in Madurai, which are spread through the year with exception of the monsoon months.

SHOPPING

Madurai has been a textile center since ages. The streets and lanes are lines with shops and tailors offering readymade as well as fabric material manufactured in Madurai. The Puthu Mandapam, an old pillared hall along the entrance to Meenakshi temple is popular among the visitors and locals for the cotton fabric and the Batiks. The lovely Sungundi Sarees are in great demand among Indian women. Collectors are delighted to have the Brass lamps from Madurai.

Premier shopping areas are Chithirai, Avanimoola, Puthumandapam and Thevangu Chetty Choultry. The handicrafts Emporiums of the states are also here, which offer a varied range of handicrafts from all over the India.

CLIMATE

The climate of Madurai is warm. The temperature seldom comes below 20° C even during the winters. The rainfall is very frequent and spread throughout the year, just like the flow of pilgrims and tourists is the same during the year.

TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES

Tourist Office, Government of Tamil Nadu - Hotel Tamil Nadu Complex, West Veli Street (Near Periyar Bus Stand) Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Tourist Information Center, Government Of Tamil Nadu - Railway Junction, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Department of Tourism, Government of India (DOTGOI) - 154, Anna Salai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) - 143, Anna Salai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

POPULATION: About 1.23 Million

NEARBY CITIES

Coimbatore - 227-km
Rameshwara- 173-km
Kanyakumari - 253-km
Tekkadi - 137-km
Courtalam - 160-km
Kodaikkanal - 121-km

NOTE: To all tourists - beware of touts, who offer to take you to the Puthu Mandapam for the purchase of cheap textile material.

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Mahabalipuram

 
Location : 58-Km From Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Also Called: Mamallapuram, The City Of Bali
Famous: Centre For Pallava Culture And Arts
Important Festivals Celebrated: Dance Festival In The Month Of December

Mahabalipuram Travel–Rock-cut Architecture at Open-air Museum

Mahabalipuram located around 60 km from Chennai is much known for famous Mahabalipuram Temple.Fascinating world of stone carvings and rock-cut temples that reside inside the historic town of Mahabalipuram is major tourist attraction. A well-known seaport since many centuries, the town acted as the experiment ground of Pallavas who would practice their artistic and architectural skills here. No wonder that Mahabalipuram is today known as the open museum and temple town of Tamil Nadu with well-preserved temples and structures.

Famous Tourist Places and Attractions in Mahabalipuram

Sthalasayana Perumal Temple : Also known as Thirukadalmallai, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It position as the very first structure near to the ocean shore confirms the legend that it was built to save valuable sculptures from corrosion by blocking the sea waves. Flaunting beautiful architecture, the temple is shrines dedicated to Lord SthalasayanaPerumal, Lord NilamangaiThayaarand Lord Narasimha.

The Shore Temple : One among the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Shore Temple is pyramidal in shape and has three shrines, two dedicated to Lord Shiva and one to Lord Vishnu. Built using granite blocks, the temple has exquisite carvings and a beautiful garden area around. A Lingam (iconic form of Lord Shiva) is worshipped inside one of the shrines. Waters from Bay of Bengal constantly wash the walls of the temple.

Arjuna’s Penance : A 96 feet long and 42 feet high open-air relief, Arjuna's Penance is a monolithic rock carving. Also known as Descent of the Ganges, the amazing monument is believed to depict the legend of how the holy River Ganga (Ganges) was brought from heaven to the earth by King Bhagirath. While others believe that it tells the story of how Arjuna (one of the five Pandavas) performed tough penance to receive a boon from Lord Shiva. Figures of Gods, divine humans and animals carved on the rock are unbelievably beautiful.

Mandapas, the Cave Sanctuaries : Showcasing the unmatchable rock-cut architecture, there are 11 cave sanctuaries covered with bas-relief and collectively known as Mandapas. Varaha Cave Temple dedicated to Varaha, one of the several avatars of Lord Vishnu. Mahishamardini Cave Temple is another among these sanctuaries dedicated to Goddess Durga.

The Five Rathas : PanchaRathas (chariots) is indeed the most enchanting structure consisting of five chariots that are amazing for the fact that each is carved from a monolithic rock. Dedicated to Pandavas (one to Yudhishitra, one to Bhima, one to Arjuna, one to Nakula-Sahadeva and last to Draupadi, Pandavas’ wife). Dravidian architecture exhibited by these pink granite monolithic structures is truly magnificent.

Popular Festivals of Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram Dance Festival hosts vibrant celebration of the Indian classical dance forms like Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and Kathakali. Eminent classical dancers from across the country perform at open-air stage in front of enthusiastic crowd. The above-mentioned rock sculptures act as the backdrop of the festival venue, adding worth to the overall ambiance.

How to Reach?

Nearest airport : Chennai (about 60 km away)

Nearest railheads : Chengalpattu (about 29 km away) and Chennai (about 60 km)

By road : Connected to cities like Pondicherry, Chennai and Kanchipuram through well-maintained roads and efficient bus service.

Mahabalipuram is the best opportunity to witness how skilled the South Indian artists were. The heritage they left behind has been entertaining generation after generation.

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Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh is one of the 29 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of the country. The state is the eighth largest state in India covering an area of 160,205 km2 (61,855 sq mi).As per 2011 census of India, the state is tenth largest by population with 49,386,799 inhabitants. On 2 June 2014, the north-western portion of the state was bifurcated to form a new state of Telangana. In accordance with the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, Hyderabad will remain the de jure capital of both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states for a period of time not exceeding 10 years.The new river-front proposed capital in Guntur district is Amaravati, which is under the jurisdiction of APCRDA.Economically, the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Andhra Pradesh at today's prices stood at 2359.3 billion (US$36 billion) and the Gross State Domestic Product at the prices for the 2013 financial year were 4193.91 billion (US$63 billion). The average income of the state rose 62.6% from 25,959 (US$390) (2004–05) to 42,186 (US$640) (2012-13).

The state has a coastline of 974 km (605 mi), the second longest among all the states of India after Gujarat.It is bordered by Telangana in the north-west, Chhattisgarh in the north, Odisha in the north-east, Karnataka in the west, Tamil Nadu in the south and the water body of Bay of Bengal in the east. A small enclave of 30 km2 (12 sq mi) of Yanam, a district of Puducherry, lies south of Kakinada in the Godavari delta to the northeast of the state.
There are two regions in the state namely Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. These two regions comprise 13 districts, with 9 in Coastal Andhra and 4 in Rayalaseema. Visakhapatnam is the largest city and a commercial hub of the state with a GDP of $26 billion followed by Vijayawada with a GDP of $3 billion as of 2010, and is expected to increase to $17 billion by 2025.There are a total of 28 cities with a population of 100,000 and above in the state at the 2011 Census, while Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada are the two million-plus cities.
Tourism
Andhra Pradesh is promoted by its tourism department, APTDC as the Koh-i-Noor of India.
Beaches
The seacoast of the state extends along the Bay of Bengal from Srikakulam to Nellore district. The coastline has many beaches, namely Ramakrishna, Rushikonda, Bheemli, Suryalanka, Krishnapatnam, Vodarevu beach, Uppada beaches etc. The state tourism board APTDC promotes tourism in the state.
Caves
Borra Caves in the Ananthagiri Hills of the Eastern Ghats, near Vishakapatnam are famous for million-year-old stalactite and stalagmite formations. Belum Caves in Kurnool district are the second largest natural caves of 3.229 km (2.006 mi) in length on the Indian subcontinent.
Valleys and Hills
Araku Valley is the famous hill station in Visakhapatnam district with thick forests, coffee plantations and waterfalls. Horsley Hills is a summer hill resort in the Chittoor district, situated at an elevation of 1,265 metres (4,150 ft), has natural flora and fauna. Papi Hills in East Godavari district is famous for its scenic beauty of the location in the river Godavari with.
Ecotourism
The state has rich forests, diverse flora & fauna that provides ample scope for promoting ecotourism. The state has many Sanctuaries, National Parks, Zoological Parks such as Coringa, Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve, Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary, Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park, Indira Gandhi Zoological Park etc. Atapaka Bird Sanctuary and Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary attracts many migratory birds.
Religious destinations
Apart from these, the state is home to many pilgrim destinations. It has many temples and shrines, mosques, and churches. Some famous temples, mosques, Buddhist shrines and churches of religious importance which are often visited by many tourists include Tirumala Temple, Simhachalam Temple in Visakhapatnam District, Dwaraka Tirumala in West Godavari District, Srisailam temple, Kanaka Durga Temple of Vijayawada, Kotappakonda in Narasaraopet, Srikalahasti temple,[115] Shahi jamia masjid in Adoni, Gunadala Church in Vijayawada, Buddhist centres at Amaravati, Nagarjuna Konda etc.,and many more as well.

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Location: Uttar Pradesh
Attractions: Allahabad High Court, Public Library
Architechture: Colonial Architecture Of Late 19th & Early 20th Century
Languages: Hindi, English

One of the largest cities in Uttar Pradesh Allahabad bears testimony to the transfer of power from the East India company to the British Crown after the 1857 uprising The public library, the High Court, Allahabad University, Muir College, Mayo Memorial Hall are some structures that portray the exquisite colonial architecture prevalent in the 19th and the early 20th century.

The most sacred spot in Allahabad is Triveni Sangam, the confluence of three of the holiest rivers of the Hindu mythology, the holy Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. Devout Hindus from all over India come to this sacred pilgrimage point to offer prayers and take a dip in the holy waters. It is believed that a holy dip taken at the Sangam washes away all sins.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

eligious Places
All Saint's Cathedral
William Emerson designed the Cathedral church of All Saint's at Allahabad in 1870’s, but it was consecrarted only in 1887AD. The church, which has been described as the finest Anglican Cathedral in Asia is faced in white stone from Surajpur with red stone dressings.

Holy Trinity Church
Constructed in 1839 under the supervision of Lieutanant Sharp and architect Major Smith, this is the first church of Allahabad.

Jamuna Church
Built in 1847 by John Freeman, one of the first American Presbyterian missionaries who arrived in Allahabad.

Others
Ram Lila
Allahabad Dussehra is marked with the unique procession of beautifully decorted "chowkis" accompained by Ramdals every evening.

Public Library (1864)
Standing at Alfred park this building was opened as a memorial to the friendship of Lord Thornhill, the then C mmissioner of Allahabad and Mr. Mayne, the then Collector. It was called the "Thomhill and Mayne Memorial". Designed by R.Roskell Rayne, this public library is a remarkable example of Gothic Style. The memorial has a lofty tower and acarded cloisters. In 1879 thelibrary was shifted to the present p9remises, at alfred park. It has about 75,000 books, besidees a treasure trove of manuscripts and journals.

The Old High Court and Public Offices
They are four storied block. Made of sandstone and ashiar these were built by Colonel Piele in i 870 in the classical style. The Minto Park to the west of the ton has a Memorial Pillar enriched with Royal medallions and four lions carrrying the Imperial coronet. This was a memorial pillar to the Royal Proclamation of the assumption of rule by the British crown in 1858. The Municipal Museum adjoining the library is yet another colonial structure which is a treasuretrove of archaeological artefacts.

Allahabad Museum
The Allahabad Museum has an impressive collection of Sunga, Gupta, late Gupta and early medieval period sculptural masterpieces, discovered at different places around Allahabad.

Muir College (1874)
Designed by William Emerson, this is an excellent mix of Gothic and Indian architectural elements. Commenced in 1874 and opened in 1886, it has an arcaded quadrangle which is dominated by a 200ft minaret tower in cream coloured sandstone from Mirzapur with marble and mosaic floors. The domes of the Indo saracenic structure are clad in Multan glazed tiles.

Mayo Memorial Hall(1879)
Situated near the Thornhill and Mavne Memorial this large hall with a 180 ft high tower was designed by R.Roskell Bayne. The interior of this memorial hall is ornamented with designs by Professor Gamble of the South Kensington Museum, London. Completed in 1879 this hall was meant for public meetings, balls and receptions in commemoration of the assassinated Viceroy.

Ewing Christian College (1901)
In 1901 the Allahabad Christian College was founded by Dr. Arthur Ewing with eight students. By 1912 when Dr. Ewing passed away the college had its own Physics lab, Princeton hostel, Rhea hostel, Engineering buildings, the main building, Agricultural department, Philadelphia hostel and Turner hostel. memory of its great founder this college was a leading educational institution of Allahabad during early 19th century.

Allahabad High Court(1916)
Chief Justice, Sir John Staley laid the foundation in 1911. It was finally completed in 1916 and opened by Viceroy Lord Chelmsford. Designed by Frank Lishman. this structure is subtly adapted to the climate as is evident from the double roofing with Allahabad tiles on top to beat the summer heat. Conceived in a grand fashion, it has a domed pedimented centre, arcaded wings, stone balustrades and engrailed arches. It reflects a beautiful synthesis of Eastern and Western architectural styles

Ranipur Wildlife Sanctuary
This 230 sq. kms.of sanctuary is rich in wildlife.

HOW TO GET THERE

Rail: Allahabad has four railway stations, but major trains on the broad-gauge Delhi-Kanpur-Kolkatta line arrive at the main Allahabad Junctions.

Road: Allahabad is well connected by road to all the major cities and town of the state and buses ply regulalry to nearby towns of Varanasi, Kanpur & Lucknow.

Local Transport: Taxis, cycles and auto rickshaws are the most common mode of traansport within the city.

PLACES TO STAY

Allahabad has hotels to suit most budgets and temperaments, with resonable options generally in the old Chowk area to the south, and the mid-range and luxurious ones in the Civil Lines.

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AGRA RED FORT

 
Location: Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Bulit In: 1565
Built By: Akbar
Made of: Red Sandstone

Built principally as a military establishment by Akbar in 1565, the red sandstone Agra fort was partially converted into a palace during Shah Jahan's time. Though the principal structure was built by Akbar, many more additions were made by his grandsons. This massive fort is 2.5 kms long and is considered as the predecessor of the Delhi Red fort.

The colossal walls are 20 feet high and the whole fort is encircled by a fetid moat. Amar Singh gate towards the south is the only entry point in the fort. The building and structures inside the fort gives an impression of a city within the city. Many of the building inside the fort is now closed for the public. The marble pearl mosque inside the fort is one of the most stunningly beautiful mosques in India.

Diwan-e-Am
This structure was originally made out of wood but was later constructed in the present form by Shah Jahan. The throne room bears a clear influence of Shah Jahan style with the inlaid carvings and panels of marble with floral motifs. This hall of public hearing is the place where the Emperor heard the petitions of the public and met the officials. The hall of public hearing gives way to the Nagina Mosque and the Ladies bazar where only ladies merchants were allowed to sell items to the Moghal ladies.

Diwan-e-Khas
This was the hall of private audience. This hall was also added by Shah Jahan. This hall is divided into two rooms connected by three arches and it was here that the famous peacock throne was kept before being shifted to Delhi by Aurangzeb and finally carried away to Iran.

Octagonal Tower
This exquisitely carved tower is close to the Diwan-i- Khas. It was here that Shah Jahan spent last seven years of his life imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb. The tower was considered to provide one of the best views of the Taj but today the pollution has reduced the visibility. The tower is in bad shape today but blank spaces and the empty inlay works give an idea how this building must have looked in those days.

Jehangir Palace
This was built by Akbar for his favorite son Jehangir to provide him with the comfort and luxury inside the fort.

Mina Masjid
Just above the Sheesh Mahal is situated the Mina Masjid, which is believed to be constructed by Shahjahan for strictly private use. The Mina Masjid is enclosed on all the four sides by high walls. The marble mosque has three small arches in its facade, which are plain and unadorned.

Moti Masjid
Moti Masjid is situated to the right of Diwan-E-Aam of the Agra Fort. One can see the domes of the Moti Masjid, which is the prettiest of all the buildings at Agra Fort. Moti Masjid is a white marble structure built by Shahjahan for his family members and court chiefs. Moti Masjid made out of white marble is one of the ancient mosques situated in Agra. It used to shine like a pearl once upon a time and hence the name.

Machhi Bhawan
Opposite to the Diwan-E-Khas is the machhi bhawan, the fish enclosure. The emperor sat on the white marble platform facing the enclosure. It once contained pools and marble fountains, which were carried off by the Jat Raja Suraj Mal to his palace at Deeg.

Sheesh Mahal
Opposite to the Mussaman Burj and just below the Diwan-E- Khas hall is the Sheesh Mahal or the glass palace. It is believed to to have been the harem dressing room and its walls are inlaid with tiny mirrors, which are the best specimens of glass mosaic decoration in India.

Jahangiri Mahal
This is the first notable building inside the Agra Fort. It was built by Akbar as women's quarters and is the only building that survives among his or9iginall palace buildings. It si built of stone and is simply decorated in the exterior. This elegant, double storeyed building reflects a strong hindu influence with protruding balconies and domed chhatris.

Anguri Bagh
These formal 85 square geometric gardens lie to the left of the fort. During shahjahan's time, the beauty of the gardens was considerably enhanced by decorative flower beds.

Golden Pavilions
The curved chala roofs of the small pavilions by the Khaas Mahal are based on the roof shape of Bengali village huts constructed out of curved bamboo, designed to keep off heavy rains. The shape was first expressed in stone by the sultans of Bengal. Theses pavilions are tradtionally associated with shahjahan's daughters: Roshnara and Jahannara Begum.

Musamman Burj
On the left of the Khaas Mahal is the Musamman Burj built by Shahjahan. It is a beautiful octagonal tower with an open pavilion. With its openness, elevation and the benefit of cool evening breezees flowing in off the Yamuna River, this could be well have been used also as the emperor's bedroom. This is where Shah Jahan lay on his death bed, gazing at Taj Mahal .

TIMINGS & ENTRY FEES
Foreigners: Rs 520/-
Indians: INR 20/-
Open on all Days

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FATEHPUR SIKRI

 
Location: Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Build By: Akbar
Built in: 1571 - 1585

37 kms from Agra is built a city predominantly in Red Sandstone and is called Fatehpur Sikri. This town was built by the Mughal Emperor, Akbar.

He had planned this city as his capital but shortage of water compelled him to abandon the city. After this within 20 years, the capital of Mughals was shifted to Lahore.

Fatehpur Sikri was built during 1571 and 1585. Today this ghost city has a population of about 30,000. This deserted city has retained many of the old structures, because of the efforts of the Archaeological department .

Fatehpur Sikri is one of the finest examples of Mughal architectural splendour at its height. Though the city is in ruins, it is a place to visit if one comes to Agra.But in real terms Fatehpur Sikri is a place where one should spend some time. The sunset over the ruins is sight to cherish.

Fatehpur Sikri is the best example of the culmination of Hindu and Muslim architecture. Fatehpur Sikri Mosque is said to be a copy of the mosque in Mecca and has designs, derived from the Persian & Hindu architecture.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

Diwan-khana-I-khaas
To the right is an apparently looking two storeyed building, with corner kiosks, known as diwan-khana-I-khaas or Hall Of Private Audience. On entering it, one finds only a single vaulted chamber. In the centre stands a profusely carved column supporting a collosal-bracketed capital. Four narrow causeways project from the centre and run to each corner of the chamber. It is believed that Akbar’s throne occupied the circular space over the capital and the corners were assigned to the four ministers.

Diwan-I-Am
The journey to the royal palace begins with Diwan-I-Am or the Hall Of Public Audience. This hall was also used for celebrations and public prayers. It has cloisters on three sides of a rectangular courtyard. To the west is a pavilion with the Emperor’s throne. Beautiful jali screen on either sides separated the ladies attending the court.

The Treasury
To the left of the Diwan-I-Khaas is the Treasury or Ankh Michauli, once believed to have been used for playing the game, comprising three rooms each protected by a narrow corridor which were manned by guards.

Turkish Sultana’s House
To the left of the Pachisi Board is the Turkish Sultana’s house. The house, as its location at the corner of Anup Talao shows, was a pavilion for repose, attached to the pool. The geometrical pattern on the ceiling is reminiscent of Central Asian carvings in wood.

Palace of Jodha Bai
To the left of the Sunehra Makan is the largest and the most important building in the royal palace, named after Akbar’s Rajput wife, Jodha Bai. This spacious palace was assured of privacy and security by high walls and a 9 metre guarded gate to the east. The architecture is a blend of styles with Hindu columns and Muslim cupolas.

Daulat khana-I-khas
Located in the corner to the left is the emperor’s private chamber. It has two main rooms on the ground floor. One housed Akbar’s library while the larger room was his resting area. On the first floor is the Khwabgah or the bed-chamber. It was connected with the Turkish Sultana’s house, the Panch Mahal, Mariam’s House and the Jodha Bai’s palace by corridors.

Sunehra Makan
Opposite to the Diwan-I-Khas is the palace of Akbar’s Rajput wife, Mariam-Uz-Zamani. This two-storeyed building is richly adorned by gold murals in Persian style. The beams have inscriptions of verses by Akbar’s brother, Faizi.

Panch Mahal
To the right of Sunehra Makan is the elegant, airy 5 storeyed pavilion, the Panch Mahal. Each floor over here is smaller than the one below and it rises to a single domed kiosk on top supported by four columns providing a magnificent view of the city and its environs.

Hawa Mahal And Nagina Masjid
To the right of Jodha Bai’s palace is Hawa Mahal, the Palace of Winds. This small-screened wind tower faces the garden and is attached to the palace. The garden is laid out in the Char Bagh style with straight walls intersecting at right angles and divided by shallow channels.

Birbal’s Palace
To the north west of the Jodha Bai’s Palace is the 2 storeyed palace occupied by Akbar’s two senior queens- ruqnayya begum and salima sultan begum. It has two storeys-four rooms and two porches with pyramidical roofs below and two rooms with cupolas and screened terraces above. The building combines hindu and muslim atyles of srchitecture.

The Jami Masjid
One of the largest mosques in India, Jami Masjid was built in 1571 AD. Inside, there is a vast congregational coutyard. To the right, at the corner, is the Jammat Khana Hall and next ot this is the tomb of the royal ladies. To the left of the Jami Masjid is the Stone Cutters’ mosque, the oldest place of worship at Fateh Pur Sikri. It is entered through the eastern entrance known as the Buland Darwaza.

Dargah Of Sheikh Salim Chisti
To the North of the Mosque is the Dargah of Shaikh Salim Chishti. This Dargah was built in 1570. Here, childless women come for blessings of the saint. Even Akbar was blessed with three sons, when he came here. The lattice work in the Dargah is among the finest to be found any where in India.

Buland Darwaza
This gate can be approached from the outside by a 13-metre flight of steps which adds to its grandeur. The gate erected in 1602 AD to commemorate Akbar’s victory over Deccan is the highest and grandest gateway in India and ranks among the biggest in the world.

TIMINGS & ENRTY FEES
Foreigners: Rs 485/-
Indians: INR Rs 50/-
Open on all Days

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Jharkhand

Jhārkhaṇḍ, (pronounced [ˈdʒʱaːrkʰəɳɖ] ;Hindi: झारखंड) is a state in eastern India. It was carved out of the southern part of Bihar on 15 November 2000.[2] Jharkhand shares its border with the states of Bihar to the north, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to the west, Odisha to the south, and West Bengal to the east. It has an area of 30,778 sq mi (79,710 km2). The industrial city of Ranchi is its capital and Dumka is sub capital while Jamshedpur is the largest and the biggest industrial city of the state. Some of the other major cities and industrial centres are Dhanbad, Bokaro and Hazaribagh.

The name "Jharkhand" means "The Land of Forests".
Festivals

In whole Chotanagpur Plateau Region, among the local people the Karam Festival is celebrated with great pomp and show.

Among the Oraon Tribe, the Karam festival is one of the most important festivals and holds a very important place in their social and religious life. It is usually celebrated 15 days after the Kunwaar-Shukl-Paksh. After the fixation of the date for the festival, the local population start their preparation; for instance, they start buying the culinary-items to prepare traditional dishes, new clothes for the occasion, etc. Besides, for the Karam-Puja, they buy oil, Sindoor, Daliya, et al. Being a very important community festival of the region, it is celebrated by the entire Oraon and other local communities of the region; now in its modern day re-embodiment, the festivity has spread far and wide, from the rural to the urban ambience, and from Chotanagpur to other parts of country.

On the occasion of the festival, the Boys and the Girls are given extraordinary treatment and due importance by their respective families. The families, their mother and father, give them special “Karam-clothes” to their child (or children), these clothes signify the unmarried status of the Boys and the Girls of the family.

One of the most interesting aspects of these special clothes given as gift is that these Karam-clothes are hand-woven by the mother and father for their child, after hours of hard-works. It signifies, the clothes save them from the bad influence and the habits. The Karam and these Karam-Clothes are considered very auspicious. It is also believed that the children are offered to Karam, for the showering of its constant guidance and blessings to the child, in fact the entire family.

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VARANASI

 
Location: National Highway No. 2 On Delhi-Calcutta Route (Uttar Pradesh)
Also Known As: Kashi
Main Attraction: The Ghats, Benaras Hindu University
Best Season: September-March

Varanasi or Banaras is one of the oldest cities of India. This city has found place in the Buddhist scriptures as well the epic of Mahabharata.

In Pali language Varanasi was called Banarasi hence it got the name 'Banaras'. Varanasi is also called 'Kashi' or the city of spiritual light. Kashi is the place where Shiva and Parvati stood when the "time started ticking".

This ancient city of India is located on holiest river of India--Ganga. This relation is unique and has attracted thousands of pilgrims. One theory also goes that Varanasi is located on the land between the river Varuna and Assi hence the name Varanasi.

This town also has its place in history with many events and incidents being related with it. From time immemorial Varanasi has been the center of education, religion, art and culture.

For every visitor Varanasi has different experiences to offer. The shimmering red and golden water of the Ganges when rays of dawn falls on them, the high banks, the temples, the Ashrams, the pavilions all are an experience in themselves.

Chanting of Mantras, the hymns along with the fragrance of incense in fills the air with mysticism which entrails every person. The refreshing dip in the Ganges with the splashing of water along the ghats-- in Varanasi discovery and experience takes to the ultimate bliss.

Not only for its temples, Ghats and Ganges Banaras has produced many exponents of art, music, literature and crafts. These people were not different from others but it was the tradition of Banaras which moulded them in the way they came out to be.

Why only the luminaries, Varanasi has excelled in the art of silk weaving. The Banarasi silk sarees and brocades are cherished as collector's items across the world.

As a eternal city with rich and vibrant past, it has no exquisitely carved palaces, no impregnable fort no architectural splendour but still the city has an inherent charm of its own.

The ghats dotted with temples, the maze of alleys along the ghats, what ever Varanasi has is enough to attract the visitor again and again. The city which did not die even after being plundered many times in is a true sense a fascinating area to wander around.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

Religious Places
The Ghats Of Varanasi
In this ancient city of pilgrimage, the bathing ghats are main attraction. People flock here in large numbers every day to take bath and worship in the temples built beside the river bank. Centuries old tradition to offer puja to the rising Sun is still maintained.

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple / Gyanvapi Mosque
This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is popularly known as the golden Temple due the Gold plating done on its 15.5 meter high spire. One tonne of gold donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been used in the gold plating of the spire. The temple was destroyed in the various invasions and was rebuilt in 1776 by Rani Ahilyabai of Indore.

St. Mary's Church
Situated in the cantonment area of Benaras (Varanasi) the St. Mary's Church has a low tower, spire and projecting poitico. Instead of windows tile, church has louvred doors to the sides and hooded ventilation slots beneath the cornice.

Durga Temple
Built in the 8th century, the Durga temple is one of the most important temples in Varanasi. This temple is built in Nagara Style. The shikhara of the temple is formed by many small spires which are built one on top of the other.

Bharat Mata Temple
+This temple is dedicated to Mother India. Just one kilometer from the Varanasi station. The temple is built in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth which was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt. This temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936 so that the citizens could respect Mother India in statue form. The statute is built in marble. The statue is a replica of undivided India in three dimension which has the mountains, plains and oceans in right proportion.

ulsi Manas Temple
This temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. The temple is built in the place where Goswami Tulsidas composed the epic 'Ramacharitramanas' which provides us with detailed description of the history and deeds of Lord Rama. Tulsi Manas Temple was constructed by a philanthropist family in 1964.

Nepali Temple
The King of Nepal had built this temple on Lalita ghat in Nepali style. The Nepali temple is also called the 'Kathwala temple'. The temple has some magnificent woodwork. Tourist from all over the world come just to see this temple which has no comparison with any other temple in India.

The workers who carved this temple out were brought from Nepal. The wood used in the temple is also found in Nepal. The speciality of this wood is that termites do not eat this wood.

Museums
Ram Nagar Durg
2 kms from the Kashi Hindu university, across the Ganges is located the ancestral house in the fort which was built by the former rulers of Kashi. In one of the sections of the fort is the museum which displays the royalty which was once part of the kingdom.

This museum gives an insight into the grandeur which once prevailed in the fort. On the Ramnagar Pandav road is a beautiful Durga temple. This temple has very delicate and intricate carving done on stone. These carvings are worth giving a look.

Bharat Kala Museum
The Kashi Hindu university has a museum which has a very rich collection of precious and rare historical artifacts, statues, pictures, paintings and manuscripts. This small but very well maintained museum gives an over view of the ancient city of Varanasi. Entry in the museum is free but check out the timings.

Others
Nandeshwar Kothi
Nandeshwari Kothi, designed by James Prinsep is a typical building of the early 19th century in Benaras.

Benaras Hindu University
This is the largest and oldest university in north India. Spread over an area of 2,000 acres, this great place of education was established by Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya. Today the campus has faculties of Arts, Science, Music, Sanskrit, Languages, Engineering, Statistics and Medical to name a few of them.

The university also has the huge Vishwanath temple which was built and maintained by the Birla family. The Sunderlal Medical center has all the modern facilities of medical field is also located in the university campus.

Jantar Mantar
The ruler of Jaisingh built an observatory in Varanasi in line with those built in Delhi, Mathura, Ujjain and Jaipur observatories. The Varanasi observatory has all the instruments which were required to record the motion , speed and properties of various stars and planets and other cosmic objects. The observatory was built in 1600 and still the instruments give the exact measurements which can match any modern instrument.

EXCURSIONS

Sarnath :
bout ten kms from Varanasi, is the place where lord Buddha after enlightenment gave his first sermon or as the Buddhist say set the wheel of dharma or law rolling. Today Sarnath is considered as one of the richest place to have antiques since the Ashoka period to the 12th century. Suggested reading on the Buddhist places in Uttar Pradesh.

Chunar :
Chunargarh of 'Chandrakanta', the classic novel by Babu Devakinandan Khatri is 40 kms from the city of Varanasi. Today the place is known as Chunar. Along one of the meanders of Ganges, where the Kaimur Hills are taking a North face, are built the imposing fort of Chunar.

Jaunpur :
In 1360 Feroz Shah built this town to guard the eastern side of his Delhi sultanate. Jaunpur is located 65 kms from Varanasi. Jaunpur is bisected by the river Gomti and the two sides are connected by the massive Akbari Bridge. This bridge was designed by an Afghan and was built in the 16th century. The fifteen stone arches of the bridge have withstood earthquakes and floods. On the southern end of the bridge is the sculptures of a lion tussling with an elephant. This marked the provincial milestone. Other places to visit in Jaunpur are Sheetla Chowkia Dham, Yamdagni Ashram, Atla Mosque and Char Anguli ki Masjid.

Kaushambi :
The mention of this town can be seen in the Mahabharata. It is said that the Pandav brothers lived here. Budhha visited this place many times and the gave sermons after his enlightenment in 6th and 9th century. Kaushambi developed as a major center for Buddhism. The ruins of an old fort tells the saga of the towns antiquity. Kaushambi is 185 kms from Varanasi.

Vindhyachal :
There are many Shaktipeeths in India. These are the places where the Goddess of power is said to be residing and people worship her viz- Goddess Durga. Vindhyachal is one of such peeths or abode of Shakti. The place is 90 kms from Varanasi. The temples of Vindhyavasini Devi, Asthbhuja and Kalikhoh are a must visit here.

Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary:
Kaimoor sanctuary, located on the Uttar Pradesh - Bihar border, is spread over an area of 500 sq. kms.

Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary:
Established in 1997,Chandra Prabha Sanctuary, a small sanctuary sprawling over an area of 78 sq. kms, is located on Naugarh and Vijaigarh hillocks in Vindhya forest range, in Chandauli district.

HOW TO GET THERE

Varanasi has its own airport which is 22 Kms from the city. The Babatpur airport connects Varanasi with all the major cities in India and recently there has been a proposal to initiate UP Air which will connect the city with other places in the state. Varanasi has the Cant railway station as its main station. This is a major railway junction and connects the city with major places in India.

The nearby Mughal Sarai railway Junction is one of the major railway junction in the region with almost all the trains from the East, North East and some trains for South and Western region crossing the station. Varanasi is on the national highway number 2 from Calcutta to Delhi.

Thus, the place is well connected by roads to all the corners of the nation. Varanasi provides some good market for many items. People come here for the temples in big number and major inflow of visitors is handled by the bus services from Varanasi to other places in state and outside it.

PLACES TO STAY

Most of the Varanasi city is well equipped with the most exclusive and sophisticated hotel accommodation. There are tourist lodges, mid-range and Dharamshalas also available at resonable prices.

FAIRS & FESTIVALS

Ganga Festival
A festive experience like none other awaits you at Ganga Festival at Varanasi.

Kartik Purnima
Celebrated in the month of November-December is the sacred day, when the ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands of brightly-lit earthern lamps.

Buddh Purnima
This festival is celebrated with pomp and gaiety in Sarnath. This day Lord Buddha was born. A large fair is held in Sarnath and the relics of Buddha are taken out in a procession for public viewing on this day. Buddh Purnima is celebrated during the month of May.

Bharat Milap
Around Dussehra a fair is held in Nati Imli which celebrates the return of Lord Rama from 14 years of exile. His reunion with his younger brother Bharat is celebrated as Bharat milap. This festival is attended by the king of Kashi in royal flavour. The festival is attended by at least a million devotees. Held in the month of October / November.

The Ramlila
The Ramlila of Ramagar is famous far and wide. The Ramlila is based on the Ramcharitramanas by Tulsidas. The month ling festival is usually held during October / November and it sees the performance of many ancient rituals.

Nakkatyya
This festival again is based on the Ramayana. The episode in the epic where the sister of Ravana tries to influence Lakshmana to marry her but instead Lakshman chops off her nose. On hearing this Ravana vows revenge against the brothers. This incidence in the epic is one of the reasons why Sita was abducted by Ravana. The festival is held in Chetganj with much fan fair.

Hanumat Jayanti
This festival is celebrated to mark the birth of the monkey God Hanuman . The five day long festivities are held at the Sankat Mochan temple. During this festival many plays are staged based on the Saraswati, Ram , Krishnalila and Hanuman Charitra.

Mahashivratri
Though Mahashivratri is celebrated throughout India, Varanasi has some special charm in the celebration the festival. During the festival a procession is taken out from the Maha-Mritunjaya temple to Kashi Viswanath Temple.

The Dhrupad Mela
In the month of March a five day long music festival is organised on the Tulsi Ghats. during the five days renowned artists from all over the country perform Dhrupad here. This festival is one of the major tourist attraction of Varanasi.

Panch Koshi Parikrama
The procession has got the name because it passes through five places. These five places are Kardmeshwar, Bhimchandi, Rameshwar, Shivpur and Kapildhara. The parikrama has special importance in the ancient parikramas of India. The procession starts and ends at Manikarnika Ghat.

SHOPPING

aranasi or Banaras, since ages has been famous for the handicraft items. The delicate and intricate work on the sarees, carpets, wooden works are unmatched. The famous Banarasi Silk Sarees and Brocades are every women's dream.

The local silk weavers produce the silk which are in demand not only in India but across the world these silk items are in great demand. The Bhadohi carpets can match the delicacy of weaving in any part of the world. Banaras has been famous for the 'Gharanas' in the Classical Music and Singing. These styles of singing and music have been amply supported by the musical instruments which are manufactured in Varanasi.

Apart from the Silk Sarees, Brocades and Carpets Banaras also offers you Brassware, copperware, Ivoryware, stone inlay work, Glass beads and bangles, wood and clay toys, Zari work and exquisite gold jewellery. The main shopping areas of the city are the City chowk, Godoulia, Vishwanath lane, Gyan Vapi, Thatheri Baazar, Dasashvamedh, Goldhar and Lahurabir. The Emporia and Souvenir shops approved by the UP tourism are good place to look for genuine and good stuff too purchase.

TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES

Government of India Tourist Office - 15B, The Mall, Cantt, (Near Hotel Paris and Clarks), Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Government Of India Tourist Information Counter - Babatpur Airport, Varanasi, Uttar Pardesh, India . (Open during the flight timings)

UP Government Tourist Office - Tourist Bungalow, Parade Kothi, Nera Varanasi Cantt. Railway Station. Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

UP Government Tourist Information Counter - Near Railway station, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India.

CLIMATE

Varanasi has a extreme type of climate. Located besides the Ganges Varanasi can be difficult place to visit during the summers. Summers are very hot and temperatures shoot upto 46 degrees and winter can be cold with mercury dipping down to 5 degrees. This place can be a really bad during the rainy seasons and is advisable not to visit Varanasi during monsoons. The best season to visit Varanasi during September to March.

GENERAL INFORMATION

POPULATION: About 14 lakh People reside in this city.

MAIN LANGUAGES: Hindi & English

A WORD OF CAUTION

To all tourist - beware of touts, if, new to the place. On the Ghats there are many posing as 'Pundits', these people try to extract money from the devotees who come on the the banks to perform religious ceremonies. While going around the city it is better to fix the fare in the rickshaw and auto before hand as these small vehicles are without fare meters. The drivers have a tendency to overcharge and take the commuter for a ride so it is advisable that get prior information and the route before hiring any vehicle.

In Varanasi there is a trend is that the agents come in between the buyers and sellers of handicraft items. Do not fall in the traps of these agents. In the temple incidents of snatching and pickpocketing have been common. Keep your valuables in the hotel. While visiting the Kashi Viswanath temple / mosque make sure that you are not carrying any arms or ammunitions as the security arrangements in this place is very strict.

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VARANASI GHATS

 
Location: Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)
Significance: Sacred Bathing Ghats
Main Ghat: Dasaswamedh Ghat
Along The Banks Of: River Ganges

In this ancient city of pilgrimage, the bathing ghats are main attraction. People flock here in large numbers every day to take bath and worship in the temples built beside the river bank. The centuries old tradition to offer 'puja' to the rising Sun is still maintained. There are over 100 ghats in Varanasi that line the western bank of the River Ganges.

Dasaswamedh Ghat in Varanasi
One of the main ghats of Varanasi is the 'Dasashvamedh Ghat' or the 'ghat of ten sacrificed horses'. It is said that the sacrifices were made by Lord Brahma to pave path for the return of Shiva after the period of banishment.

The beauty of this ghat has remained unchanged, even after ages of harsh treatment it has undergone. The Ghat has remained unspoiled and provides the same view of the river front, which it has been showing for ages now.

Asi Ghat in Varanasi
The southernmost ghat in the sacred city, the Asi Ghat is situated at the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Asi. Pilgrims consider it particularly holy to bathe here prior to worshipping at a huge lingam, under a peepal tree.

Asisangameshwar, the lord of confluence of the Asi, is the name of another lingam, which is worshipped by the people, in a small marble temple, just off the ghat.

Man Mandir Ghat in Varanasi
Known primarily for its magnificent 18th century observatory equipped with ornate window casings, Man Mandir Ghat was built by the Maharaja of Jaipur . The northern part of the ghat has a fine stone balcony. The pilgrims pay homage to the important lingam of Someshwar, the Lord of the Moon.

Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi
One of the most sacred and the oldest ghats of Varanasi, Manikarnika Ghat is the main burning ghat. Lying at the centre of the five tirthas, Manikarnika Ghat symbolises both creation and destruction, epitomised by the juxtaposition of the sacred well of Manikarnika Kund and the hot, sandy ash-infused soil of cremation grounds where time comes to an end. The kund is said to have been dug by Lord Vishnu at the time of creation.

Lalita Ghat in Varanasi
To the north of the Manikarnika Ghat is Lalita Ghat, well known for its Ganga Keshava Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the wooden Nepali temple built in the typical Kathmandu style. The temple houses an image of Pashupateshwar, which is a manifestation of Lord Shiva at Pashupatinath, in the Kathmandu valley.

Some the other famous ghats are Barnasangam, Panchganga, Dattatreya, Kedar, Scindia and Harishchandra Ghats. As the first rays of Sun sparkle on the water of Ganga River, devotees take their dip before performing any other religious activity.

You can go for a boat ride from the Ghats. It is advisable that take a boost before the sunrise and watch the ravishing beauty of Varanasi unfold itself with the rays of dawn.

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UTTARANCHAL

 
Location: North Western Himalayan Region.
Capital: Dehradun
Languages Spoken: Garhwali, Kumaoni
Best Time To Visit: October To June

A Paradise For Tourists
Lying in the north of the vast and bountiful expanse of India and cradled in the awesome beauty and calm serenity of the stately Himalayas , Uttaranchal - the "Devbhumi" that has attracted tourists and pilgrims from world over since time immemorial.

Sacred pilgrimages of different religions including the world famous "Char Dham " or the four Hindu pilgrimage destinations of Shri Badrinath - Kedarnath - Gangotri - Yamunotri; the sacred Sikh pilgrimage of Hemkund - Lokpal, Nanakmatta and Meetha - Reetha Sahib and Piran Kaliyar have drawn pilgrims and seekers for spiritual fulfillment to Uttaranchal. Kailsah Mansarovar, Tholingmath are all in the Chinese occupied Tibet, but for the people of yesteryears, these were some of the most important landmarks in Uttaranchal.

Comprising of eight hill districts and an area and population that equals the state of Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal is an expression of divinity, austerity, meditation, penance and attainment.

Historically Speaking
Uttaranchal has been described in the ancient texts as Kedarkhand and Kurmanchal. The history of the region is older than that of the Ramayan and Mahabharata. It is a land of popular myths, like that of Lord Shiva appearing as Kirat, of Urvashi, Shakuntala, as well as the Kauravas and Pandavas.

Of the two component cultural units, Garhwal was known as "Kedarkhand", or the region of Kedarnath, and Kumaon as "Kurmanchal", the land of the "Kurmavatar" (Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as the Tortoise).

Geographically, Uttarakhand is a conglomeration of mountains and peaks, "Among mountains I am the Himalaya", said Lord Krishna in the famous Hindu holy book Bhagwat Gita. The Himalayas have been equated with God or in other words, everything in Himalayas is godly divine.

It is also said that the Pandavas went to heaven through "Swargarohan" - a heavenly spot, about 35-km north of Sri Badrinath. Did the Pandavas actually ascend from here to that heaven which is said to be beyond this world? This is a difficult question to answer. But a possible answer can be that the Pandavas shed off their mortal bodies at Swargarohan and this Swargarohan alone was the heaven, referred to in the Mahabharata. In fact heaven and otherwise everything exists in this mortal world only. Heaven is a multifaceted concept of everything good and beautiful and Uttaranchal is one of it.

The Cultural & Natural Heritage
Culturally, Uttaranchal has a rich and vibrant heritage. There are several local fairs and festivals like Jhanda Mela, Surkanda Devi Mela, Magh Mela, Nanda Devi Mela, Chaiti Mela, Purnagiri Mela, Piran Kaliyar Mela, Joljivi Mela and Uttarayani Mela, incicative of the immense possibilities for cultural tourism in Uttaranchal.

The holy river Ganga and Yamuna have their sources in the hills within this state. The rich cultural traditions, the rare natural beauty and the cool and invigorating climate of this land of origin of the holy Ganga and Yamuna Rivers have been its main attractions.

Uttaranchal still remains the source of spiritual attainments where the urge of self-realization and 'Moksha' becomes an inherent virtue dawn upon the pilgrims. Uttaranchal has that galaxy of peaks and glaciers, that vastness of meadows and jungles and that wealth of colourful jungles and valleys and dales, which have no parallel on earth.

Adventure Among The Hills!
The queen of hills, Mussoorie , the lake district of India - Nainital , Kausani, Pauri, Landsdowne, Ranikhet, Almora , Pithoragarh, Munsyari and many more attractive tourist destinations are part of Uttaranchal.

Uttaranchal is a paradise for adventure sports. The sheer variety ranging from Mountaineering, Trekking, Skiing , Skating, Water Sports to Aero Sports like Hang Gliding, Paragliding make Uttaranchal one of the most attractive destinations for adventure sports not only in India but the world over.

Wildlife
Along with the world-famous Corbett National Park , Uttaranchal has several breath taking destinations for wildlife tourism. These are the Rajaji National Park , Govind Pashu Vihar, Asan Barrage, Chilla and Saptarishi Ashram, the last four being a delight for bird watchers.

Uttraranchal has a flora and fauna, which is diverse as well as rare. Making this state an ideal location for Eco-Tourism. Eco tourism includes Jungle Safaris, Trekking on forest trails, Nature Walks, catch and release of Mahaseer and other fish species. However, the outmost priority in all these activities is given to retaining the ecological fragility of the region.

A clean, fresh and invigorating environment makes Uttaranchal a preferred destination to relax and unwind. From the most modern facilities at Mussorie and Nainital to the untouched, pristine beauty of its snow-clad peaks, rivers and mountains, Uttaranchal provides all that a tourist could possibly seek for amusement and leisure.

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BADRINATH

 
Location: Right Bank River Alaknanda
Altitude: 3,133 mt. Above Sea-Level
Dedicated To: Lord Vishnu
Built In: 8th Century A.D

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN BADRINATH

Badrinath Temple
Perched at an altitude of 3,133 mt. above sea-level, in the middle of a beautiful valley, it is located on the right bank of holy river Alaknanda. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple of Shri Badrinathji is 15 mt. in height, built in the form of a cone with a small cupola of a gilt bull and spire.

Legend dates the temple prior to the Vedic age, though the present temple is believed to have been established by Adi Shankaracharya, the 8th century A.D., Hindu reformist.

The temple has been renovated several times due to earlier damages by avalanches and looks modem now with a colourful "Singh Dwara" or the main entrance gate. The temple has three parts - Garbha Griha (the sanctum sanctorum), Darshan Mandap (for pujas) and Shobha Mandap (for devotees to assemble).

It is believed that the image of Badrinath had been thrown into the Alaknanda river during the time of the Buddhist era and later retrieved and reinstalled by Shankaracharya during the following Hindu revival.

There are 15 idols in the temple complex. Finely sculpted in black stone, the Badrinath (Vishnu) image is a metre high. Other images include those of Laxmi (Vishnu's consort), Garurh (Vishnu's mount), Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh etc.

With its great scenic beauty and attractive recreational spots in the vicinity, Badrinath attracts an ever increasing number of secular visitors each year.

Panch Dharas
(a) Prahalad Dhara (b) Kurma Dhara (c) Urbasi Dhara (d) Bhrigu Dhara (e) Indra Dhara.

Panch Shilas
(a) Narad Shila (b) Varaha Shila (c) Garurh Shila (d) Markandeya Shila (e) Narsingh Shila.

Tapt Kund
Natural thermal springs on the bank of the river Alaknanda, where it is customary to bathe before entering the Badrinath temple.

Narad Kund
A recess in the river, near Tapt Kund, forming a pool from where the Badrinath idol was recovered.

Brahma Kapal
A flat platform on the bank of river Alaknanda. Hindus perform propitiating rites for their deceased ancestors.

Sheshnetra
1 .5 km away is a boulder having an impression of the legendary snake, better known as the Sheshnag's eye.

Charanpaduka
3 km away is a beautiful meadow where the footprint of Lord Vishnu is seen on a boulder.

Neelkanth
A pyramidal shaped snowy peak (6,59 7mt) towering above Badrinath, presents a dramatic sight. It is popularly known as the 'Garhwal Queen'.

Other Four Badris :
Yogadhyan Badri
The temple of Yogadhyan Badri, one of the five Badris, is located at Pandukeshwar (1920 mt.) just 24 km short of Badrinath on Rishikesh-Badrinath highway. The image here in a meditative posture, is worshipped at Badrinath. According to the myth, the Pandavas handed over Hastinapur to king Parikshit and retired here.

Bhavishya Badri
The temple of Bhavishya Badri is at an elevation of 2,744 mt. and is surrounded by dense forests. Located at Subain near Tapovan about 17 km east of Joshimath on Joshimath - Lata - Malari route. Pilgrims have to trek beyond Tapovan, up the Dhauliganga river. Tapovan has sulphurous hot springs and the view of the Tapovan valley towards the north is breathtakingly beautiful. Traditionally it is believed that a day will come when the present route to Badrinath will be inaccessible and Lord Badrinath will be worshipped here. Thus the name 'Bhavishya Badri' which literally means the Badri of the future.

Bridha Badri
About 7 km short of Joshimath, on the main Rishikesh- Badrinath motor road, is Animath. It is believed that Badrinath or Lord Vishnu was worshipped here before the enshrinement of Badrinath by Adi Guru Shankaracharya. The temple of Bridha Badri is open throughout the year.

Adibadri
Adibadri is also one of five Badris and is situated quite far from the cluster of the other four which form the Vishnu-Kshetra. Approachable from Karnaprayag by a motorable road on way to Ranikhet, are remains of 16 small temples. Seven among them are more ancient, with flat roofs belonging to the late Gupta period. Local tradition assigns the building of the temples to Shankaracharya. The main temple of Narain is distinguished by a raised platform in the pyramidal form where the idol is enshrined. Sculpted out of black stone, the idol of Lord Vishnu is a metre high.

EXCURSIONS

Mata Murti Temple
Devoted to the mother of Sri Badrinathji. Other important temples include Seshnetra Temple, Urvashi Temple and Charanpaduka.

Valley of Flowers
East of Badrinath is the exotic Valley of Flowers in a conical shape with the river Pushpawati flowing through it. This valley has been declared as a National Park to regulate camping, cooking, grazing etc. which disturb environmental conditions and endanger a number of endemic flora. The valley is a 19 km trek from Govindghat. The base camp being Ghangaria, 14 km from Govindghat, where lodging and boarding facilities are available. It was in 1931 that Frank Smith and Holdsworth stumbled into this valley while returning from their successful Kamet expedition. Their subsequent writings on the valley evoked a great deal of interest among people, both at home and abroad.

Mana Village
Inhabited by an Indo-Mongolian tribe, it is considered as the last Indian village before Tibet. Vyas Gufa, Ganesh Gufa, Bhim Pul, Vasudhara Falls (3.6 km) are among the places near Mana village.

Alka Puri
15 km from Badrinath via Mana village, lies the source of Alaknanda river from the glacier snouts of Bhagirath - Kharak and Sate Panth glaciers. The spot is supposed to be the abode of Kuber, Yakshas and Gandharvas.

Sato Panth
25 km from Badrinath and located at an elevation of 4,402 mt. above sea-level is a three cornered lake of serene water with a circumference of about 1 km. The lake is named after the Hindu triad Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh who are believed to occupy one comer each of this lake. The trekis hazardous and full of dramatic views. An experienced guide is advisable. There is no place to rest except in between caves. Cooked food, stove etc, must be carried from Badrinath itself.

Arwatal
For the more enterprising, a trek to Arwatal (3,980 mt) via-Mana, Ghastoli and Aruanala is rewarding. Through hazardous icy and snowy terrain a number of streams have to be crossed. Badrinath to Ghastoli is 17 km and Arwatal is approximately another 18 km. Photography isprohibited in this area and a guide is essential.

Vyas Gufa (Cave)
Near Mana village, this is a rock-cave where Ved Vyas is believed to have composed the Mahabharat and the pauranic commentaries.

Bhim Pul
On the other side of Mana village, a massive rock forming a natural bridge, lies over the roaring Saraswati river. It presents a spectacular view of water thundering down through the narrow passage under the rock and is believed to have been placed there by Bhim, the second eldest among the five Pandava brothers.

Vasudhara
As the name suggests, Vasudhara is a magnificent waterfall with a height of 122 mt. This place is 5 km from Badrinath out of which 2 km is motorable upto Mana, the last village of India on this border.

Hemkund Sahib
Situated at a height of 4,329 mt, near the Valley of Flowers, is the holy lake Hemkund, associated with Guru Gobind Singh. Encircled by seven snow-clad peaks and their associated glaciers, the crystal clear serene waters of the lake reflect the surroundings enchantingly. The glaciers from Hathi Parvat and Sapt Rishi peaks feed the lake and a small stream called Himganga flows out of this lake.

According to the holy Granth Saheb, it is believed that Guru Govind Singh, the 10th Guru of the Sikh faith, meditated on the banks of this lake in one of his earlier births. It has not only become a place of pilgrimage for the Sikh community but also for the Hindus and people of other faith. There is a Sikh Gurudwara and a Lakshman temple built on the bank of the lake. According to the legends, Lakshman was brought here after he fell unconscious in the war with Ravana.

Govindghat
Situated at the confluence of Alaknanda and Lakshman Ganga rivers. The road here diverts to Valley of Flowers National Park (26 km) and Hemkund Sahib (28 km).
Joshimath
42 km from Badrinath. The winter home of Shri Badrinathji, Joshimath is situated on the slopes above the confluence of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga. Of the four "Maths" established by Adi Guru Shankaracharya, Joshimath is in the north.

Auli
Auli is 15 km from Joshimath at an elevation of about 2,500 - 3050 mt. In summers, Auli Bugyal (meadow) is inviting. The cable car from Joshimath to Gorson via Auli , not only offers a picturesque view of the Himalayan ranges but also makes Auli ideal for winter sports. Regular skiing courses of varying durations are organised by trained coaches. Skiing equipment, as well as boarding, lodging and transport are provided by the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam.

Pipalkoti
83 km from Badrinath. It is an extremely beautiful scenic spot.

Chamoli
A scenic spot 10 km from Gopeshwar on Badrinath Highway.

Nandprayag
S ituated at the confluence of Alaknanda and nandakini rivers. Temple : Gopayi.

Karnaprayag
Situated at the confluence of the Pindar and Alaknanda rivers. The road from here diverts to Ranikhet, Almora and Kausani and Gwaldam and Kund. Temples : Uma and Karn.

Rudraprayag
Situated at the confluence of the Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers. The road diverts to Kedamath from here. Temples : Rudranath and Chamunda Devi.

Srinagar
The old capital of Garhwal, it is also a cultural and educational centre. Important sites - Kamleshwar Temple, Kalyaneshwar Temple and Shankar Math.

Deoprayag
Situated at the confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers, it is commonly believed to be the birth place of Ganga. Important pilgrim spots are Shiv Temple and Raghunath Temple.

Situated in the lap of Nar-Narayan Parvat, with the towering Neelkanth peak (6,597mt) in the background, Badrinath is one of the most revered Hindu shrines of India.

It has been said that "there were many sacred spots of pilgrimage in the heaven, earth and the other world but neither is there any equal to Badrinath nor shall there be one."

It is believed that to revive the lost prestige of Hinduism and to unite the country in one bond, Adi Guru Sri Shankaracharya built four pilgrimage centres in four corners of India. Among them were Badrikashram in the north, Rameshwaram in the south, Dwarkapuri in the west and Jagannath purl in the east. Badrinath situated at an elevation of 3,133 mt. is considered to be amongst the most pious.

FAIRS & FESTIVALS OF BADRINATH

Mata Murti Mela (September)
During this fair, Mother of Sri Badrinathji is worshipped by the priests of Badrinath Temple.

Janamashtami (July/August)
Special prayers and festivities are held at the temple on the occasion of the birth of Lord Krishna.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area : 3sq.km
Climate
Month Max Temp. Min Temp
April 3°c 0°c
May 5°c 0°c
June 14.5°c 5.9°c
July 18.2°c 10°c
August 18°c 10.5°
Sept. 16°c 8.5°c
October 12.5°c 5.6°c
Nov. 5°c 0°c
Dec.-Mar. Sound Bound Snow Bound
Rainfall : 1460mm

Best Season : May to October every year the temple usually remains open from first week of May to 2nd week of November.

Clothing :
May - Heavywoollens
June-Sept. - Lightwoollens
Oct.-Nov. - Heavywoollens
Languages : Hindi, English and Garhwali

HOW TO REACH BADRINATH

Air - Nearest airport ii at Jolly Grant (315 km away), Dehradun .
Rail- Nearest railheads are at Rishikesh 297 km away and Kotdwara 327 km away, which are connected with major cities of North India. Rishikesh is directly connected by rail with Howrah, Mumbai, Delhi & Lucknow. There are two routes to Badrinath from Delhi:

Route 1 :Delhi-Rishikesh : 287 km by rail, Rishikesh-Badrinath : 297 km by road.
Route 2: Delhi- Kotdwara- 300 km by rail, Kotdwara- Badrinath- 327 km by road.

Road Badrinath is connected by a motorable road with Rishikesh, Kotdwara, Dehradun, Haridwar and other hill stations of Garhwal and Kumaon Hills.

Delhi-Rishikesh : 238 km via Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Roorkee, Haridwar. Rishikesh-Badrinath : 297 km via Devprayag, Srinagar (Garhwal), Rudra-prayag, Gauchar, Karnaprayag, Nandprayag, Chamoli , Pipalkoti, Helong, Joshimath, Vishnuprayag, Govindgaht, Hanumanchatti and Badrinath. Road Condition : Metalled with some unmetalled patches.

Taxi - Private taxies and other vehicles are also available between Rishikesh and Badrinath on hire. Rates are not fixed.

Bus - State Transport Corporation operates regular bus services from Delhi to Rishikesh daily with intervals of half an hour.

Transport Companies operating regular bus services from Rishikesh to Badrinath during season are :

ACCOMMODATION (HOTELS IN BADRINATH)

(1) Andhra Bhawan 08 Beds (21) Maharastra Bhawan 378 Beds
(2) Jhun Jhunwala Cottage 04 " (22) Raghunath Ashram 225 "
(3) Modi Bhawan I 12 " (23) Manavakalyan Dharamshala 360 "
(4) Modi Bhawan II 12 " (24) Parmarth Lok 200 "
(5) Modi Bhawan III 24 " (25) Halwasia Dharamshala 50 "
(6) Mittal Cottage 06 " (26) Birla Dharamshala 50 "
(7) Chand Cottage 24 " (27) Dhodwa Dharamshala 40 "
(8) Shankaracharya Sadan 20 " (28) Cadiya Dharamshala 20 "
(9) Badrish Sadan 22 " (29) Tantiya Dharamshala 150 "
(10) 11) PiloGujarat Bhawan 04 " (30) Bangar Dharamshala 100 "
(11) Pilo Dharamshala 80 " (31) Swaminarayan Dharmshala 50 "
(12) Kali Kamli Dharamshala 150 " (32) Bholagiri Dharamshala 30 "
(13)Bejoria Dharamshala 18 " (33) Jan Dharamshala 60 "
(14) Mansingh Dharamshala 160 " (34) Jalaram Dharamshala 60 "
(15) Rishiganga Dharamshala 140 " (35) Roopali Dharamshala 08 "
(16) Sadhu Bhawan 50 " (36) PWD Inspection House 08 "
(17) Punjab Sindh Dharamshala 300 " (37) Jal Nigam Rest House 04 "
(18) Atachi 48 " (38) Jal Sansthan Rest House 04 "
(19) Geeta Bhawan 216 " (39) Forest Rest House 04 "
(20) Balanand Ashram 84 " (40) DGBR Rest House 08 "
(41) Hotel Devlok 70 "
Restaurants In Badrinath
  1. Vijaya - Laxmi Restaurant
  2. Saket Restaurant
  3. Urvashi Restaurant
  4. Several other ordinary restaurants Liquor and non-vegetarian food are prohibited.
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HARIDWAR

 
Location: Uttarakhand Region (Uttranchal)
Main Attractions: Har Ki Pauri, Chandi Devi Temple
Best Season: September to June
Nearby Attractions: Rishikesh, Deoprayag

Haridwar-- gateway to the four pilgrimages in the Uttrakhand region, is located on the foot hills of Shivaliks. It is on the banks of River Ganga. The Ganga leaves the mountains and enters the plains with Haridwar being the first major town on the plains.

Though the Ganges does not lose its rapids completely nevertheless it becomes very quite and calm here. The water is clean and people prefer taking bath on the numerous ghats built on the river shores. It is said that taking bath here purifies the soul and opens the way for the ultimate freedom, Nirvana.

Haridwar has earned fame as being the place which has been blessed by the trinity of Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. It is also one of the major Shaktipeeths.

Down the ages, Haridwar has purified the mind, the body and the soul. Not only in spiritual or religious terms Haridwar has come up as a major learning center for arts, science and culture. This place has maintained the Gurukul tradition of teaching. This ancient tradition of teaching has maintained its fervour in Haridwar.

Haridwar has since ages been a source of Ayurvedic medicines and has been providing herbal remedies. Haridwar one of the first towns to be developed on Ganges is still lush and green with forest and trees. With Rajaji Park in the vicinity Haridwar has also been the destination for the wildlife and nature lovers. The city acquires a unique charm in the evening when the ghats become breath takingly beautiful with thousands of Diyas and Marigold floating in the waters of Ganges.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

Religious Places
Har Ki Pauri
This ghat is one of the most sacred ghats in India. People say that this ghat was built by Vikramaditya in memory of his brother Bhartrihari. This ghat is also known as Brahmakund. In the evening a Maha Aarti is performed on this ghat. It is an event which is a must, not be missed by any visitor.

Chandi Devi
This temple is on the top of a hill called the Neel Parvat which is on the other side of the river Ganga. The temple was constructed by the King of Kashmir, Suchat Singh, in 1929 AD. Chandi Devi is a three km trek from the Chandi Ghat.

Mansa Devi
This temple is located on top of a hill called the Bilwa Parvat. The temple can be reached by the rope way or one can take the normal trekking route to the top. The top of the hill gives you an excellent view of Haridwar.

Kavand Mela
The fair is held ten days before Shivteras, during the Hindu months of Shravan & Phalgun.

Daksha Mahadev Temple
Four kms from Haridwar is a town called Kankhal. Mythology says that the king of this place King Daksha Prajapati performed a yagya. His daughter, Sati was married to Lord Shiva. But Daksha was not happy with this marriage and did not invite Shiva-Sati in the Yagya.

But Sati came and was insulted by her father. She could not take the insult and burnt herself in the yagya kund. On hearing this the followers of Shiva killed Daksha. But later Mahadeo (Shiva) brought Daksha to life. The Daksha temple is an attribute to this legend. This place is one of the five sacred places in Haridwar.

Sapt Rishi
At one place Ganga divides herself into seven small streams. This place is known as the Sapt Rishi and provides a very pleasing sight.

Maya Devi
It is one of the Shaktipeeths in India. This ancient temple of Maya Devi is also the Adhisthatri deity of Haridwar. It is said that when Lord Shiva was carrying his wife Sati, who had burnt her self to keep the honour of her husband, then the heart and navel of Sati had fallen at this place.

Others
Gurukul Kangri University
This university is known for its unique system of education. it is located on the Haridwar-Jwalapur bypass road. This old institution follows the ancient tradition of Guru-Sishya pattern of education. The institution also has the Ved Mandir Museum which is has a very good collection of archaeological exhibits and displays artifacts which are of historical value.

Beauty Point
On the Mansa Devi temple road, about two kilometer from Haridwar is a point which provides an excellent view of Haridwar and the near by greenery. This place is called the beauty point as the sight from here of the surrounding is very exciting and enthralling.


Neel Dhara Pakshi ViharThis place is an enchanting bird watching point particularly during the winters. There are various species of birds which can be spotted here. Around Laljiwala on the banks of river Ganges one can expect the Siberian Cranes, which are one of the prized visitor to this Pakshi Vihar.

EXCURSIONS

Rishikesh :
24 kms from Haridwar is Rishikesh. This place is known as the Tapo Bhumi or the place for meditation of the Gods. Rishikesh is one of the popular pilgrimage for the Hindus. At this place the Ganges leaves the mountains and prepares herself to begin a long journey through the plains.

Dehradun:
This hill station is located in the Shivalik hills. Just 54 kms from Haridwar. The thick woods and scenic beauty of the place is enough to capture the imagination of any tourist.

Mussoorie:
The queen of hill stations is just 89 kms from Haridwar. The salubrious climate and deep woods makes it an ideal hill station.

Piran Kalier :
On the outskirts of Roorkee is the Dargah of Hazrat Makhdum Allauddin Ali Ahmed 'Sabir'. It is a must for any visitor to visit this place. The place is known as Piran Kalier and is located 23 kms South of Haridwar. This Dargah is famed for its mystical powers and is visited in large numbers both by Hindus and Muslims. In fact this place is an living example of Hindu-Muslim unity. During the Rabeeull month of Islamic calender, an Urs is celebrated from the first day of sighting the moon to the sixteenth day.

Chila :
At Chila is located the Rajaji National Park a popular destination for nature and adventure lovers. The pristine scenic beauty and rich biodiversity of the park has been attracting wildlife lovers from India and abroad The park has 23 species of mammals and about 315 avifauna species.

Deoprayag:
This is again one of the sacred places for the Hindus. At this place the aggressive Alaknanda merges with the gentle flowing Bhagirathi. The place is 95 kms from Haridwar.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air:In the region Air Services are available only upto Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun.
Rail: The Railways have a station at Haridwar. This major pilgrimage center has been well connected by trains to all the major towns of India. In fact trains bring the major load of pilgrims and tourist inflow to Haridwar.
Road: The National Highway No - 45 crosses through the city so it is connected to other cities of the State as well as other towns in India in an efficient manner. There are buses available from Delhi to this place. The state transport has ordinary as well as deluxe and semi-deluxe buses on this route for long distance travel. There are private buses avaialable too, which willtake you to nearby places and some of these private deluxe buses run on the long distance routes.

PLACES TO STAY

Being a major pilgrimage center, do not expect to get luxury over here. The accommodations are simple, yet elegant and on a resonable price. One can easily get accommodation in hotels as well as in Dharamshalas and in number of Ashrams situated within this religious town. The govt accommodation include GMVN tourist hotels and Shankar Niwas.

FAIRS & FESTIVALS

Ardh Kumbh:
Though all the Hindu festivals are celebrated here with pomp and gaiety, it is the Ardh Kumbh which attracts the mind of any tourist to this place. The Ardh Kumbh is held every six years and the last Ardh Kumbha of this century ended this year. It is said that a holy dip in the river Ganges during the Kumbh gives you Moksha or Nirvana.

People gather in huge number to take the holy dip during these holy days. There are Saints, Naga Sadhus, Politicians almost every one is here. The city is overflowing with people. If going to Haridwar during the Ardh Kumbh then avoid the over crowded ghats. Every there are reports of stampedes and the various factions or Akharas of Sadhus clash with each other. Ensure your accommodation well in advance if going during the Kumbh.

SHOPPING

Haridwar is a pilgrimage center and visitors come here to visit the temples so as such there is no particular item which can be recommended to be bought here. But Haridwar offers you some good handicraft items which can be kept as decorative pieces or can be used as gift items. In the markets surrounding the temples, one can find jewellery imitations which are very popular among the devotees. The bangles, chains, ear and nose rings are some items which can be bough there.

Then the shops also have items made of stone. From Rishikesh, Ganga enters the plains and in all this area it sheds its load of stones which are not only polished naturally but come out in amazing shapes and sizes. These stone are used to make small idols which are very neatly, delicately and intricately carved.

Look out for Kitchen set toys made from stone. You can also get some items of talk stone. The main shopping centers are Moti Bazaar, Upper Road, Jwalapur, Kankhal. The UP handloom Emporium is near the Bharat Mata temple and the government Emporium, Gandhi Ashram is near the Haridwar post office.

TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES

Regional Tourist Office - Haridwar, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Tourist Bureau - Laltarao Bridge, Haridwar, uttranchal, India

Tourist Information Center - Railway Station, Haridwar, Uttar Pradesh, India

Tourist Reception Centre - 36, Chandralok Building, Janpath, New Delhi - 110 001

CLIMATE

Haridwar is located at a height of almost 300 meters . One Should never expect any sort of pleasant high altitude climate here. During the summers the temperature usually hangs around 40 degrees but winters sees the mercury dipping as low as six degrees. So neither of the seasons are suitable or ideal for tourists to venture in Haridwar. The monsoons further add to the miseries of the visitors. The best seasons to visit Haridwar is some where between September and June.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

POPULATION: About three and half lakh People reside in this city.

MAIN LANGUAGES: Hindi, Punjabi, Garhwali and English

A WORD OF CAUTION

To all tourist - beware of touts, if, new to the place. backtotop


 

JIM CORBETT PARK

 
Location of Corbett: 63-km Southwest Of Nanital, Uttranchal
Established By: Jim Corbett
Specialty: Project Tiger Was Launched Here in 1973
Main Species: Tigers, Elephant

The Corbett Tiger reserve has quite a history. It is India's First National Park and one of the finest, notable for its individualistic scenic charm and magnificent submontane and riverine vistas, and also for its richly varied wildlife, still interestingly in the process of change, and the site of the launching of project Tiger.

Early this century its exceptional potential as a wildlife reserve was recognized and there were moves to have it officially declared a sanctuary, liberating it from the exploitation of its tree forests and human occupation of the riverside land. Finally, in 1936 it was set up as the first authentic national park of the country under the United Provinces National Parks Act.

A Peak Inside The History Of The Park

The Corbett Tiger reserve has quite a history. It is India's First National Park and one of the finest, notable for its individualistic scenic charm and magnificent submontane and riverine vistas, and also for its richly varied wildlife, still interestingly in the process of change, and the site of the launching of project Tiger.

Early this century its exceptional potential as a wildlife reserve was recognized and there were moves to have it officially declared a sanctuary, liberating it from the exploitation of its tree forests and human occupation of the riverside land. Finally, in 1936 it was set up as the first authentic national park of the country under the United Provinces National Parks Act.

The Renaming Process

Originally, it was named the Hailey National Parks Act after Sir Malcolm Hailey, the Governor of the united provinces, who took such a keen interest in its development as a preserve. After Independence it was renamed the Ramganga National Park, and later still the name was again changed to the Corbett National Park this last change, it should be noted, was not solely in commemoration of the late Jim Corbett, the famous slayer of man eaters in the sub Himalayan forests, but also in recognition of his services in determining the location and limits of the proposed national park before it was set up he had been consulted over this as an expert. Jim Corbett- hunter of man-eating Tigers, photographer, conservationist and author was born in Nainital of English and Irish parentage. A childhood spent around the Corbett winter home of Kaladhungi brought young Jim Corbett into close communion with nature, and to an instinctive understanding of jungle ways. After working on the railways, he joined the Indian army in 1917 at the age of forty; he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and saw action in Flanders at the head of the 70th Kumaon Company.

The Savior - Jim Corbett

Known locally as "Carpet Sahib", a mispronunciation of his name, Jim Corbett was called upon time and time again to rid the hills of Kumaon of man eating Tigers and Leopards. Normally shy of human contact, such animals become man eaters when infirmity brought upon by old age or wounds renders them unable to hunt their usual prey many of those killed by Jim Corbett were found to have suppurating wounds caused by Porcupine quills embedded deep in their paws; Tigers always seem to fall for the Porcupine's simple defensive trick of walking backwards in line with its lethal quills.

Adventures Of Jim Corbett

One of Corbett's most memorable exploits was the killing of the Rudraprayag Leopard, which accounted for 125 human lives between 1918 and 1926, and was bold enough to steal its victims from the midst of human habitation; he also terminated the careers of the Chowgarh Tigress, the Talla Des and the Mohan man eaters.

Jim Corbett described his adventures in books such as my India, Jungle Lore and Man Eaters of Kumaon; Martin Booth's Carpet Sahib is an excellent biography of a remarkable man. Awarded the order of the British Empire in recognition of his lifelong work with nature, Jim Corbett was unhappy in post Independence India, and left to settle in East Africa.

Project Tiger - Jim Corbett Park

On April 1, 1973, Project Tiger was inaugurated here. This ambitious project aims at saving and reviving the alarmingly dwindled Indian Tiger (Panthera Tigris Tigris) by setting up specially selected reserves of adequate area in which not only the Tiger but also all other animals and the wild flora, would be totally conserved, such total conservation with no selective bias, depending on the ability of nature of maintain its own balance, being much the best way to rehabilitate any animal, as part of a whole wildlife complex. In 1973 there were 8 such reserves under the project, and the Corbett Tiger Reserve was the first of these.

As in all other reserves of the project, here too the main part is constituted into a core area meant exclusively for the wild fauna and flora, where there is no human disturbance and around this core is the insulating buffer zone, in which a part is allotted to tourism. Prior to 1973 Dhikala had been developed to provide accommodation and facilities to see the wildlife, to visitors to the National Park; it is still the main centre of tourism.

The Largest Earth Dam Of Asia

In recent years the Ramganga multi purpose Hydroelectric Project's Dam at Kalagarh and the reservoir of this dam have had a marked influence on the Corbett national reserve. When the reservoir is filled to capacity, one tenth of the reserve is submerged, and while the area of the reserve so inundated naturally fluctuates with the seasons, the submersion is still there and has resulted in perceptible changes in the flora and fauna.

To some extent this is a depletive influence, for it is the low lying pasture land that has been submerged, but this depletion is more than offset by the variety of plants and animals that the water spread has added to the original wildlife of the reserve, particularly in the sudden influx of vast numbers of water birds and the raptorial birds that follow in the wake of migratory waterfowl.

Coverage Area of Corbet National Park

The Corbett Tiger Reserve as now set up extends over 521-sq-km, of which 312.86-sq-kms lie in the Pauri Garhwal district and 208.14-sq-kms in Nainital district. The core area is 329.98-sq-kms, the rest being the buffer zone. The Corbet National Park, as it was, was less extensive, being only 323.75-sq-kms in area.

Best Time to Visit the Corbett National Park

The best time for a visit would naturally depend upon what the visitor is specially interested in -summer would be best if one is keen on observing the larger mammals and winter if one's interest lies mainly in water birds. For most people, January to June would be the best months. backtotop


NAINITAL

 
Location: Uttranchal
Sightseeing: Snow View, Naina Peak, Kilburi
Excursions: Sat Sal, Bhim Taal, Naukutchia Taal

A small town in the hills of Kumaon, Nainital is a lovely hill station surrounded by mountains on three sides. Once this area had many lakes and it was called the City of 60 lakes or 'Chakta'.

Most of the lakes in the region have disappeared and whatever remains is just a glimpse of what they might have been in the past. Today the life of Nainital revolves around the lake of Naini. But there are few other lakes around Nainital which are equally beautiful and attractive as the Naini lake.

River Ramganga originates from the Doodha Tauli ranges in district Pauri Garhwal. It enters into district Nainital, before re-entering into district Pauri Garhwal.

Nainital was discovered in 1841 by a Britisher called Lord Barron. The weather, the surrounding and the mesmerising beauty of this area attracted the British administrator who turned this place into the summer capital of the United Province. Being a major tourist place Nainital is always bustling with visitors and it is always better if accommodation and other facilites are prearranged.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

Religious Places
Hanuman Garhi :
This place is of religious importance. Situated at a height of 1951 meters this place was established by Baba Neem Kiroli. A very beautiful Hanuman mandir is at the top. From Hanuman Garhi watching the Sunset is very soothing. You can walk down from Nainital to Hanuman Garhi.

Naina Devi Temple :
The attractive lake of Nainital is said to be the eyes of Sati, wife of Lord Shiva. Sati jumped into the sacrificial bonfire. Lord Shiva to mourn the death of his beloved wife carried the body across the country. The remains of her body fell at various places which today are sacred worship places for the Hindus.

St. John's Church :
This church was built in 1847. A brass memorial is kept in memory of the persons who were buried in the infamous landslide. The few bodies which could be dug out were buried in the church premises.

Others
Snow View :
The Snow view point is located at height of 2270 meter from the sea level. This place can be reached by the ropeway or the ponies available at the Mallitaal.

Naini Lake:
Naini Lake or Naini Taal, the picturesque blue green lake is located in the district of Nainital. It is from this lake that the city of Nainital, the beautiful settlement by the lake, derives its name. Naini Lake is so called because of its eye-like shape.

Naina Peak :
Known as the China peak this peak is the highest point in Nainital. From here Nainital appears as a bowl. You can walk or take ponies to the peak. From this peak you can capture the exciting views of Nainital. Naina peak also gives a good view of the Camelback peak. There are no hotel or restaurant on the top so carry food and water along with yourself.

Kilburi :
Kilburi is slightly away from Nainital. 12 kms from the main town, this place is peaceful and quite. Located amidst green forests this place provides a break from crowds of the city. Kilburi gives a very good view of the Himalayas. The forest department has got its guest house here. Kilburi takes you into the laps of nature from rush of the cities.

Observatory :
The clear skies over Nainital prompted the government to setup an observatory here. The observatory has one of the most advance telescopes in India. With the help of this telescope the movement of stars, planets and other heavenly bodies can be calculated to great precision. The entry in the observatory is by permission and timings are fixed. It will be better if you collect the prior information about the place.

Zoo Gardens :
Naini Tal has a small but a very beautiful Zoological garden. There are many animals kept here which includes Deers, Bears, Tigers and many more. The hygiene and cleanness of the zoo is a point which attracts the mind even if one ignores it. Not surprising this zoo is one of the most clean zoos in the country. The zoo can be reached on foot or taxi can be hired.

HORSE RIDING :
Any visitor coming to Nainital cannot miss the joy of riding a horse on the Mall. Not only at the Mall but to reach the Snow view point, Tiffin top, Kilburi from the Mallital area one can hire ponies and horses.You can go around the town riding the horse. In fact one of the ways to experience Nainital is on a horses back. The flora and fauna of the region can be closely watched from the horses back. You can go to the interiors of nearby area and get a first hand experience of the mountain life of Nainital. The municipal corporation has fixed the rates of horse riding and one should avoid paying more than the prescribed rates.

The corporation has also issued identity card to the photographers who hang around the Tallital and Mallital region. Get yourself clicked on a horse to keep as a momento from Nainital.

EXCURSIONS

Sat Tal ( Seven Lakes) :
On the way from Nainital to Bhimtal is a group of seven lakes called the Sattal. Nature has really provided this place beauty in abundance. There is government Bunglow where you can spend the night. Taxis and buses are available to Sattal from Nainital. It is 22 Km from Nainital.

Bhimtal :
The myth goes that the lake was built during the Mahabharata era. You can get taxis and buses at regular interval from Nainital. On the Nainital-Bhimtal road is Mahra Village. Here through the efforts of Dr. Yashodhra Mathpal a rich collection of the cultural and archeological items have been made. These artifacts from the Uttrakhand region gives you an insight into the cultural heritage of this area. At Bhimtal you can enjoy boating and have food at the restaurant on the island in middle of the lake. Bhimtal is 23 kms from Nainital and there are good accommodation facilities at the place.

Ranikhet :
The hill station, idyllic in its charm, Ranikhet with its majestic pine trees, is 59.5 kilometres from Nainital.

Naukuchia Lake :
Just four kms from Bhimtal is lake with nine corners hence it is known as the Naukutchia lake. This is an ideal place to spend your holidays and relax. The lake is full of lotus and is surrounded by forest with a backdrop of the mountains, all this creates an ideal condition to enjoy boating in here or sit on the banks and feel the breeze coming from the lake. There are regular bus and taxi services to this place and the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam has got its rest house where you can stay.

Nanda Devi Fair:
Nanda Devi Mela is a fair of great religious and cultural significance. It is held at Nanda Devi Temple in September to commemorate the memory of Goddesses, Nanda and Sunanda.

Ramgarh :
From Nainital this place is the 26 kms. The environment is very good for health. The whole place is surrounded by Apple groves and trees of many other fruits. You have a rest house to spend your night.

Ram Nagar :
Ramnagar is 49 kms from the Jim Corbett National Park but this place is famous for wild life trekking. One can watch the animals from close quarters. Nearby is the famous Gargia temples. During the seasons when the Corbett park is open for visitors, the local travel agents and operators conduct one day sight seeing tours from this place. Ram Nagar is 65 kms from Nainital.

Mukteshwar :
Once this place was the cantonment for the British troops. Today this place has been converted into a Vetenary Research Institute. Mukeshwar is full of natural beauty and from here the snow clad peaks of the Himalayas are clearly visible. The greenery of this place attracts visitors attention. Mukteshwar is only 52 kms Nainital but very few bus services are available for the place.

TREKKING OPTIONS IN NAINITAL:
  1. Nainital Bealghat Trek
  2. Nainital Binayak Trek
  3. Nainital Kainchi Trek
  4. Nainital Kilbury Trek
  5. Nainital Kunjkharak Trek
  6. Snow View Trek

HOW TO GET THERE

The nearest railway station is that of Kathgodam which is connected by trains from Delhi and Howrah. The narrow gauge trains come from Lalkuan which is 55 kms from Nainital. From Lalkuan and Kathgodam regular taxi and bus services are available for Nainital. Nainital is well connected by buses with other parts of the state. Inter state services are also available. The state transport corporation as well as the private operators have their buses on this route.

PLACES TO STAY

Manu Maharani

The Corbett View Resort

FAIRS & FESTIVALS

Each year in the month of September a fair is organised which is dedicated to Naina Devi. This festival is held in traditional flavour. Whole Nainital suddenly wakes up and the town is decorated like a bride. This festival is host to a number of traditional Dance and singing programmes.

In October / November the UP tourism organises a Winter Festival which acts as window to the rich culture and tradition of the area. Other Fairs & Festivals

SHOPPING

The Mall is the main shopping center in Nainital which has some of the good shops where one can do some shopping. In Nainital the main items to be bought are the woollen garments, decorative pieces made from wood. The decorative colourful candles are one thing every traveller to the place takes back with himself. For the woollen garments the Bohtia Bazaar is the best place whereas the Mall road and the Mallital are places for good bargain of candles and wooden stuff.

TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES

uttranchal Tourist Information Center -Mall Road, Nainital, uttranchal, India.

Kumaon Mandal Vikash Nigam - The KMVN Information Center mountaineering Tours, Tallital, Nainital, uttranchal, India.

CLIMATE

Nainital is located in the Kumaon hills and the weather is very pleasant throughout the year except during winter months. The temperature is not very high at any time but in winters it becomes very cold. The climate of Nainital is regulated by the lake here which showers rain almost every afternoon. The best time visit the place is between April to June and then again in September October. The months of January to March are marked by the snowfall which is for a very short time. It is advisable that contact any local person before going to Nainital to watch snowfall.

NEARBY CITIES

Delhi - 322 kms.
Almora - 67 kms.
Ranikhet - 59 kms.
Haldwani - 40 kms.

GENERAL INFORMATION

POPULATION : About 36,000 People resides in this city.
MAIN LANGUAGES : Kumaoni, Garwali, Hindi and English.

A WORD OF CAUTION

To all tourist - beware of touts, if, new to the place. backtotop


 

RISHIKESH

 
Location: 24 Kms from Haridwar (Uttranchal )
Main Attracion: Lakshman Jhula, Swarga Ashram
Best Season: Throughout the Year
Main Languages / Dialect: Garhwali and Hindi

Rishikesh is just 24 Kms from Haridwar. Located in the laps of lower Himalayas, this place is considered to be the access point of three other pilgrim places of Badrinath - Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri the four great places which combine to make Chardham . Rishikesh is surrounded by scenic beauty of the hills on three sides with Holy Ganga flowing through it.

The whole place is considered to be sacred as it is believed that meditation at this place leads to attainment of salvation. There are many temples-some ancient, some new along the river Ganges. The River side is dotted by the ashrams of Sadhus and sages. Rishikesh is also famous for ashrams teaching Yoga.

In the 60's even the Beatles could not miss the charm of Rishikesh and they came here to meet their Guru. The Ganga, which is known for its strong currents and fierce behaviour up stream, suddenly becomes slow and gracious here. At Rishikesh, Ganga leaves the mountains and joins the plains for her long journey.

Rishikesh is not only an attraction for pilgrims but it also attracts foreigners who want to know about Hinduism, who want to spend some time close to the Lord, people who love rafting come here to conquer the rapids of Ganga. Rishikesh is also an ideal base camp for trekking in the nearby Himalayas.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

Religious Places
Lakshman Jhula
This suspended iron bridge was build in 1939 and has been a major attraction among the tourists. Ram Jhula- The other suspended Iron bridge was recently constructed between Shivanand Ashram and Sawarg Ashram.

Swarga Ashram
One can find numerous temples here. This place has the eating joints and shops where one can do shopping. The beautiful statues in the area mesmerise the visitors.

Gita Bhavan
This newly constructed building is famous for its attractive paintings and statues from the Hindu mythology. Situated just across the Lakshman Jhula.

Triveni Ghat
This is a bathing ghat. Daily in the morning and evening there are thousands who take bath here and enjoy the Maha Aarti being performed. It very soothing to sit on the banks of the river and enjoy the cool breeze from the river.

Neelkanth Mahadev Mela
Situated at a height of 1675 m, on a hill above Swarg Ashram, Neelkanth Mahadev is one of the most revered temples of Rishikesh.

Nilkanth Mahadeo
Mythology says that in the ancient times when the ocean was being churned for 'amrit' (Potion for immortality), first venom oozed out. Lord Shiva drank the venom at a place which is now called Nilkanth Mahadeo. It is 12 kms from Rishikesh and is surrounded by peaceful forests.

EXCURSIONS

White Water Rafting
The challenge of violent rivers is no less than that of the rugged mountains. The icy heights of the Himalayas are the source of some of India's mighty rivers. Fed by innumerable streams, they race along tortuous boulder-strewn beds, cutting deep gorges and breaking into silvery-white rapids.

Dehradun
The Doon Valley situated between the two most important rivers of India. i.e. Ganga & Yamuna, is most picturesque having moderate climate, nestling a number of places of tourist interest.

Mussoorie >
The queen of hill stations.

Haridwar
Gateway to the four pilgrimages in the Uttrakhand region, is located on the foot hills of Shivaliks.

Valley of Flowers
The famous Valley of Flowers with the largest concentration of various species of wild flowers is off the Rishikesh-Badrinath road, 16 km from Govindghat.

Chila :
It is just 20 kms from Rishikesh. The whole place is covered with forests and provides very pleasant environment. Government has declared Chila a sanctuary. A canal from Ganga feeds the reservoir where one can spot many animals. One can stay at the tourist lodge and enjoy the peaceful scenic surroundings.

Narendra nagar :
15 kms on the Rishikesh Chamba road is located the historical town of Narendra nagar. This town is of archaeological importance. The town was built by the King of Tehri Narendra Singh. Narendra nagar has recorded many events which have left their impact on the town. The Royal palace is worth seeing and the huge magnificent Nandi bull cannot escape your attention.

Kunjapuri :
Close to Narendra nagar, situated at 7000 ft this place is covered with dense forests. From here one can get a glimpse of the peaks and valleys.

Auli :
One of the well established Sports Circuit of the state of Uttranchal . With their wide open spaces above the snowfields of Garhwal and Kumaon, the place offers an exciting possibility - ski touring amongst the glaciers. The cross-country runs of 10-20 km with added advantage of fresh powder snow from crisscrossing streams, tearing down the snowlines of the European Alps.

Devprayag :
The rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirath leave the mountains and merge at this place. From here they get the name Ganga. A peaceful holy place. It has got the ancient Raghunathji Temple.

HOW TO GET THERE

Rishikesh does not have an airstrip of its own. But there are trains from all the major cities in the plains. The best transport for Rishikesh is by bus. Bus services are available from far and near places. Particularly there are regular services from Haridwar which is just half-an- hour journey from Rishikesh.

PLACES TO STAY

Rishikesh does not have any big hotels in the five star category but there are other hotels which offer comfortable stay. The Ashrams also provide accommodation facility. There are also dharamsalas and guest houses which offer good, inexpensive stay. The Garhwal Vikas Manda Nigam's guest has dormitory as well as single and double rooms for the tourists.

SHOPPING

Being a pilgrimage place, the glamour of big shop bargains are absent but Rishikesh offers you handicraft items made of shells, beads and pearls. Sarees, kurtas, sheets and rugs can be purchased from here. You can buy these items from the government approved U.P handloom shop, Khadi Bhandar, Garhwal wool and craft shop etc.

TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES

Tourist Office - Tourist bureau, Station road, Rishikesh, Uttranchal Indi

Tourist Office - Yatra office, Garhwal mandal vikas nigam, Muni ki reti, Uttranchal , India .

CLIMATE

The climate here is continental type but its location in the foot hills gives it a pleasant weather throughout the year. One can visit Rishikesh any time of the year.

 

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

MAIN LANGUAGES: Garhwali and Hindi

A WORD OF CAUTION

Even the police here accepts that crime is increasing and incidents of fraud are common. Tourist, if new to place, should only contact authorised persons for assistance and should keep an eye on the thugs. Bargain in the tariffs of the hotels.

TREKKING FROM RISHIKESH
  1. Chandrashila Trek
  2. Chandrashila Summit
  3. Devi Darshan Trek
  4. Gangotri Nandavan Trek
  5. Kauri Pass Trek
  6. Kauri Tapovan Trek
  7. Kedarnath Trek
  8. Khatling Sahasratal Trek
  9. Rishikesh Gopeshwar Trek
  10. Rishikesh Pauri Binsar Trek
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SKIING IN AULI

 
Location: Garhwal Himalayas
Altitude : 2500-3000m Above Sea Level
Specialty: Skiing Resort
Nearby Attraction: Badrinath

Auli – Among the World’s Youngest Skiing Destinations

Auli, the fascinating land of stunning meadows located in the Garhwal region of Uttaranchal in India, is now a world-famous skiing resort. Its skiing slopes are counted among the best in the world and top-class skiing facilities play a significant role in drawing skiers from different regions. Unbound natural beauty and many tourist places in the close proximity are the added attractions.

Skiing Facilities in Auli

For nearly three decades, beginning from 1986, skiing has constantly been the part of skiing festivals, winter games and national championships held at Auli.

What Makes The Place Ideal For Skiing Fun?



Perfect skiing slopes

  • Skiing Slopes: There are 4 skiing slopes in Auli, including Slope No. 10 (about 900 m long), Track No. 8 (about 800 m long), Composite Slope (around 3.1 km) and Temple Track (about 400 m long).
  • Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam(GMVN) runs the 16 km Auli Skiing stretch from Joshimath. The most prime skiing tour in Auli. A 3 km long slope with an altitude of 3049 m to 2519 m is the major attractions among the adventure lovers. They have facilities like snow beaters to keep the slopes perfect for skiing and others. Another good thing is that there is a 500 meter long ski lift to take skiers back to the top so that they save time and energy.

Facilities at Auli Skiing Resorts

  • Ski and Chair Lifts: A 500 m long ski-lift (brought from France) and an 800 m long cable lift to transfer to the higher slopes and to take skiers back to the original skiing point at the top of the snow mountain, this actually helps in saving time.
  • Snow-beaters: Imported from Germany to for keeping the slopes even for skiing. Training Courses:GarhwalMandalVikas Nigam(GMVN) organizes skiing training courses for the inexperienced adventurers. Durations for the courses include 7 days (for 25 participants) and 14 days (for 15 participants) are held in the winter months of January, February and March.

Useful Information for Tourists and Skiers

  • Skiing Equipment: GMVN offers skiing equipment on hire, though skiers may bring their own.
  • What to Pack: Heavy woolens, gloves, caps, snow shoes (those recommended for skiing), torch light

How to Reach

Nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun (about 270 km). Nearest railhead is at Rishikesh (about 255 km). By road, Auli is connected to various cities like Joshimath, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun and New Delhi. A ropeway cable car (about 4 km long) from Joshimath to Auli is an exciting way to reach the place.

EXCURSIONS/Places Nearby

While visiting Auli, you can consider visiting HemkundSahed, Badrinath and Valley of flowers located nearby.
Hemkund Saheb: is one of the famous and sacred Sikh pilgrimage destinations. The slopes of Hemkund Saheb are also ideal to take up trekking tours.

Valley of Flowers.: In winters the region is filled with the sheet of colourful flowers as far as your eyes stretch. Valley of Flowers also offers some of the best adventure trekking tours to the visitors.

Badrinath : is the most sacred pilgrimage centre of Hindus. It is among one of the four holy pilgrimage sites or 'Char Dhams'. You can visit Badrinath as a temple tourist spot or can come to conquer few of most advance trekking thrills offered by the enthralling slopes of the terrain. More

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: The nearest airport is at Jolly Grant, Dehradun.

Rail: The nearest railheads are Haridwar and Dehradun.

Road: Auli is only a 13 kms. drive from Joshimath. State transport and union buses ply regularly between Joshimath and Rishikesh (253 kms.), Haridwar (276 kms.), Dehradun (295 kms.) and Delhi (500 kms.)

Local Transport: From Joshimath you can get buses and taxis for Auli. Deluxe coaches area also available if booked in advance or with prior notice for a group of 15 people or more.

Cable Car: The most popular way to drop in at Auli is by the famed cable car service, which runs for 3 kms.

PLACES TO STAY/Accommodations at Auli

There are accommodation facilities in the form of hotels and resorts, good restaurants and medical facilities available for the visitors.
GMVN unit at Auli, with a 110- bed capacity.
Alpine Cottages and Log Huts Accommodations
Good Budget Resorts are also available at Rudraprayag, Gauchar, Karanprayag, Nand-Prayag, Pipalkoti and Joshimath with facilities of catering services, adequate heating arrangements, round-the-clock hot water supply.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Other Information
Altitude: 2915m to 3049m.
Area: 5 sq. kms.
Temperature:
Summer: Max : 29°C ; Min : 13°C.
Winter: Max : 9°C ; Min : 2°C.
Rainfall: 180cms annually.
Clothing: Summer: Light Woollen.
Winter: Heavy Woollen. backtotop


WEST BENGAL - DARJEELING

 
Location : East Of India
Capital : Calcutta
Tourist Attractions : Fort William, Victoria Memorial, Raj Bhavan
Best Time To Visit : Throughout the year.

West Bengal

Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), is the capital of West Bengal has been nicknamed the Cultural Capital of India, City of Palaces, City of Joy, etc. This comes from the numerous palatial mansions built all over the city. Unlike many north Indian cities, whose construction stresses minimalism, the layout of much of the|right| architectural variety in Kolkata owes its origins to European styles and tastes imported by the British as it was the capital of British India from 1772 to 1911 and, to a much lesser extent, the Portuguese and French. The buildings were designed and inspired by the tastes of the English gentleman around and the aspiring Bengali Babu (literally, a nouveau riche Bengali who aspired to cultivation of English etiquette, manners and custom, as such practices were favourable to monetary gains from the British). Today, many of these structures are in various stages of decay. Some of the major buildings of this period are well maintained and several buildings have been declared as heritage structures. Long known as the "Cultural Capital of India" for its vibrant culture which has led India from the forefront from the 18th century onwards in all fronts ranging from culture to arts, literature to sciences, sports to politics, theatre to films. Home to the famous Bengal Renaissance which boasts of a host of luminaries like Raja Rammohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Ramakrishna, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Khudiram, Chittaranjan Das, Sri Aurobindo, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Bagha Jatin, Bidhan Chandra Roy, and countless others. The city has lost much of its glory now but has never lost its effervescence. West Bengal is also known for the famous The Sunderbans.

From historical point of view, the story of West Bengal begins from Gour and Pandua situated close to the present district town of Malda. The twin medieval cities had been sacked at least once by changing powers in the 15th century. However, ruins from the period still remain, and several architectural specimens still retain the glory and shin of those times. The Hindu architecture of Bishnupurin terracotta and laterite sandstone are renowned world over. Towards the British colonial period came the architecture of Murshidabad and Coochbehar. Darjeeling is a famous Himalayan city in the state of West Bengal. Darjeeling tea is world famous because of its attractive smell. Other than Darjeeling there are notable hill stations like Kalimpong, Lava, Lolegaon, Rishop, etc. There are some wonderful trek routes also, like Sandakfu, Falut etc. Beside hill stations West Bengal has some beautiful sea beaches also, like Digha, Shankarpur, Mandarmoni, Bakkhali etc. West Bengal is home to six national parks[42] — Sundarbans National Park, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Gorumara National Park, Neora Valley National Park, Jaldapara National Park, and Singalila National Park. Extant wildlife include Indian rhinoceroses, Indian elephants, deer, bison, leopards, gaur, and crocodiles, as well as many bird species. Migratory birds come to the state during the winter. The high-altitude forests of Singalila National Park shelter barking deer, red panda, chinkara, takin, serow, pangolin, minivet and Kalij pheasants. Additionally, the Sundarbans are noted for a reserve project conserving the endangered The Royal Bengal Tiger, although the forest hosts many other endangered species, such as the Gangetic dolphin, river terrapin and estuarine crocodile.

Cooch Behar ·Darjeeling ·Kalimpong ·Kurseong ·Dooars ·Digha ·Bishnupur ·Malda ·Mayapur ·Mukutmanipur ·Ajodhya Hills ·Murshidabad ·Kolkata.

Places of Worship
Dakshineswar Kali Temple ·Kalighat Temple ·Birla Mandir ·Belur Math ·Tipu Sultan Mosque ·Nakhoda Masjid ·St. Paul's Cathedral ·St. John's Church · Parsi Fire Temples · Japanese Buddhist Temple ·Calcutta Jain Temple ·Tarakeswar ·Tarapith ·Furfura Sharif

Must Sees of Kolkata
Victoria Memorial ·Howrah Bridge ·Kumartuli ·Indian Botanical Garden ·B.B.D.Bagh ·Dakshineswar Kali Temple ·Belur Math ·Eden Gardens ·St. Paul's Cathedral ·Maidan ·College Street ·Jorasanko Thakur Bari ·Netaji Bhawan ·Marble Palace ·Missionaries of Charity · National Library of India ·Kalighat Temple ·Park Street ·South Park Street Cemetery ·Birla Planetarium ·Science City ·Shobhabazar Rajbari ·Alipore Zoo ·Vidyasagar Setu.

 

Darjeeling the dream land of the East, it has been a popular hill station since the British period. The tourist flow to Darjeeling city has been increasing day by day. Due to the proximity with three international borders, Darjeeling is strategically very important.

Darjeeling is surrounded by lofty mountains. Except for the monsoon months and if weather is clear then the Kanchenjunga peak can be seen. Down below in the valley flow the rivers swollen by rain water or melting snow. Darjeeling is a fascinating tourism place rich in natural beauty and surrounded by the Buddhist monasteries. Its beauty surpasses any other hill station of India.

Darjeeling has some of the lovely tea plantations (estates) in the country. One can travel these plantations and watch tea being processed. Darjeeling is a place where one feels as if being in the lap of mother nature.Due to the vast and abundance of natural splendour Darjeeling is called queens of hill stations. Darjeeling is also a trekkers paradise and the Gorkha hill council has provided ample trekking facilities for the adventure loving people.

The Darjeeling toy train coming from Siliguri is some thing which is liked by the elders and the children equally. The real fun in coming to Darjeeling is on the toy train. Darjeeling toy train takes six to seven hours to cover a distance of 82 kms and the slow speed gives you enough time to watch and appreciate the beauty which nature has provided it. This toy train passes through the Forests, waterfalls, over deep valleys and through the mountains and tunnels.

SHOPPING IN DARJEELING

Darjeeling has been famous for its Tea with a particular aroma. Throughout the world tea drinkers love having the special Darjeeling tea. So, how can some one miss getting some Darjeeling tea if he comes to this place. Packed small bags tea from this place make good souvenirs. But avoid tea in tastefully decorated boxes as these are mostly blended tea from Calcutta.

Apart from tea there are many items which Darjeeling offers in its shopping malls. Tourists love taking home the curios and carpets from here. The shops for curios and carpets are on Chowrasta and Nehru road. These shops also sell thangkas, brass statues, religious objects, jewellery, wood carvings, woven fabrics and many other items from the Himalayan region. The Bronze items and wooden carvings give you good value for your money. Thangkas are impressive at the first sight but the require a closer look if you want to buy them. The West Bengal's Manjusha Emporium has a good collection Himalayan handicraft, silk and handloom products. The woollen garments can be bought from the markets on Hill Cart road. The bamboo items are collectors delight from the region. Hayden Hall is a place to look for the exclusive Tibetan Carpets. The women's cooperative is also a place worth checking out.

CLIMATE OF DARJEELING

The best season to visit Darjeeling is between April and June. The weather during this period is generally clear and the chilling biting cold gets subsided. But one can also go to Darjeeling between September and November. During these months the mountains are clearly visible and one can enjoy the golden sunrise over the Himalayan peaks. Being a mountain city Darjeeling experiences rains throughout the year. Often heavy down pours wash away the roads and the place is totally cut off from rest of the country. The temperature range is not very large here with the maximum in summers being 15 degrees and 1.5 degrees in winters. This place requires warm cloths any time of the year and do not forget to carry a umbrella to this place.

GETTING THERE

The nearest airport to Darjeeling is the Bagdogra airport. Bagdogra is 10 kms from Siliguri and is an important military installation. From Bagdogra one can take a bus or taxi to Darjeeling. Darjeeling has a railway station but only the toy train from Jalpaiguri and New Jalpaiguri comes here. The major trains connecting the place with all the major places in India come to Jalpaiguri or New Jalpaiguri. From here again you have to take the toy train or a bus or taxi to Darjeeling. The place is well connected by roads. The state transports run buses from Calcutta and other nearby places. The private operators also have their buses and the fair does not vary much in the state or in the private buses.

SIGHTSEEING IN DARJEELING (Darjeeling Travel Attractions)

Tiger Hill - Tiger hills is the highest point in the area which provides the most exotic view of the Kanchenjunga peaks. From this place the other peaks of the Eastern Himalayas can be seen. On a clear day the sight of Mt.Everest is just enthralling.

Dhoom Gompa - About 8 kms from Darjeeling is the Dhoom Gompa. Here a very beautiful statue of the Maitrayie Buddha ( prospective Buddha) is established. The Monastery has also preserved some of the rare handwritten Buddhist manuscripts.

Batasia Loop - This railway loop is an interesting example of engineering. At this loop the toy train takes a very unique turn. This loop is just five kilometer from the main town of Darjeeling. This place also has a very good market where you can buy the purses, bags and other decorative items made by the local women at very reasonable price.

Happy Valley Estate - Here the tea from the gardens is processed. One can spent a few hours here. Entry is only allowed to persons who have permission from any officer of the estate.

Natural History Museum - The museum has a collection of over 4300 specimen . Established in 1903, this natural history museum packs in its folds a rich collection of fauna found in the Himalayas and in Bengal. Among the attractions are included the estuarine crocodiles. This unique museum also has a good collection of butterflies. The mineral forms of various stones are displayed in a very attractive manner in the museum.

Senchal Lake - A scenic place near the tiger hills. This place has popularly come up as a picnic spot among the tourists. The lake supplies drinking water to the town of Darjeeling.

Kanchenjunga View - From Darjeeling one can have the best, uninterrupted view of the worlds third highest peak. Bhan Bhakta Sarani provides one of the enthralling views of these snow capped peaks. The Chowrasta also gives you a good sight to the Kanchenjunga peak.

Zoological Gardens - The zoo is situated two kms form the main town. This zoological garden of Darjeeling houses some of the rare species of animals and birds. This is only zoo in India having the Siberian Tigers. Apart from these the rare Red Panda is also there. The Snow Leopards, Great Grey Birds, Snow Yaks are some the animals which are attracting tourist in great numbers. The entry in the zoo is by tickets which are also valid for the natural history museum and the mountaineering institute & museum.

Observatory Hills - This point provides one of the breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga peaks. This place is also very sacred for the Hindus and the Buddhists as there are temples and the monasteries at this place. The Kali temple is decorated with the colourful flags. Be aware of the monkey groups as some these are very aggressive.

Bhutia Busty Gompa - With the back drop of the Kanchenjunga range stands a monastery called the Bhutia Busty Gompa. This monastery was shifted from the observatory hills to the present place. The Gompa is a branch of the Nyingmapa sect's Phodang Monastery in Sikkim. The monastery is not far from the chowrasta and is very tastefully decorated. It also has a library which has a copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Snow Leopard Breeding Programme - Nowadays the zoologists and the environmental scientists are trying to protect the endangered species by breeding them in captivity. Following this trend is Kiran Moktan who has devoted his life in breeding program of snow leopards. The snow leopards are not known to have bred in captivity but in this center thanks to the efforts of Kiran Maktan these animals have given birth in captivity. Snow leopards are animals who have to be kept in large enclosures. Visitors are allowed in the center but they have to watch the animals in utter silence.

Botanical Gardens - This place is worth a visit for its exotic and exclusive collection of a variety of Himalayan plants, flowers and orchids. This place is near the Darjeeling taxi stand. The gardens also has a green house.

Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Center - In 1959 was established a center for the refuges who had fled Tibet with the Dalai Lama after the Chinese invasion. This self help center has been developed as workshop for the manufacture of handicrafts. The fine and superb carpets, woollens, woodcarvings and leather work form this center has been very popular among the tourists. The money collected after the sale of the products goes to the Tibetans who work here. The variety Tibetan Curios on sale are also attracting the visitors in a big way. This center has established it self in the International scenario as place for hard work, self esteem and truth.

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute & Museums - The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is on the West Jawahar road. The institute runs courses for training mountaineers as well as has the very good collection of mountaineering equipments which have been used in various mountaineering expeditions and other wise. Specimens of Himalayan flora and fauna are also kept here. The record of attempts made to conquer Mt. Everest has been kept in the Mt.Everest Museum. The institute also screens short films on mountaineering. You can also view the Himalayan peaks through the Zeiss Telescope given to the Nepalese Maharaja by Hitler. Sherpa Tenzing Norgay was the Director of this institute for many years and he was cremated near the institute after his death in 1986. Near the institute is Srabri which gives a very good view of the Single valley and the Kanchenjunga range. One can sit at Srabri and feel the cool breeze from the valley.

Passenger Ropeway - Another tourist attraction in Darjeeling has been the ropeway. This was the first ropeway in India. It connects the North point (7000 ft) to the Singla Bazaar (800 ft). The rope covers a distance of 8 kms in 45 minutes. The seats in the rope way is limited and it is better to get the tickets in advance. The ropeway is exciting and unique for any one visiting Darjeeling.

Chowrasta - This one of the important shopping places in Darjeeling . Here the Nehru Road and the Mall Road Intersect each other. The snow capped peaks of Kanchenjunga are visible from this place. Near Chowrata are several Hindu and Buddhists temples. This place is over flowing with foreign tourists. You can also enjoy a pony ride form this place.

EXCURSIONS FROM DARJEELING

Rungli Rungliot :Rungli Rungliot is one of the most celebrated tea gardens in the Darjeeling hills and gives a real taste of life in the Tea Gardens. This villages also offers adventure activities such as trekking, mountain biking, and white water expedition.

Kurseong : Kurseong is mid way between Siliguri and Darjeeling. The way from Darjeeling to Kurseong is generally open through out the year. So, the toy train is not coming to Siliguri then you can come up to Kurseong. This place is equally beautiful and is full of natural splendour.

Mirik : Mirik is 52 kms from Siliguri and 55 kms from the nearest Airfield of Bagdogra. Mirik is being developed as a new hill station in the mountains. Mirik is surrounded by tea estates, orange orchards and cardamom plantations. It has all the facilities to fulfill the needs of a tourist.

Siliguri / New Jalpaiguri : The twin Cities of Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri are the departure point to Darjeeling, Sikkim and the North Eastern States. Being the nodal point this place has become very busy and crowded. This area has got population over 2.5 lakh people. Siliguri also acts as a transit point for Nepal. This place is not very pleasant to stay as there are always long lines of buses and trucks. These trucks and vehicles might be good for business but they provide very ugly sight. Tourists come to Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri mainly to change bus or catch trains. If you have time then visit the almost forgotten wild life sanctuary of Jaldhapara. The best season to visit this park is between October and May. This the time when the new grass has come up and animals are out there. The sanctuary has elephants, dears, tigers and other animals but the main attraction is the Rhinos which are threatened by the poachers. Elephant Safari can be taken from Hollong.

Kalimpong : Kalimpong is within Darjeeling province and is a sub-division of Darjeeling. It is a small but bustling town in the Himalaya foothills of West Bengal- Kalimpong is at an altitude of 1250 meters. This bazaar town was originally a part of Bhutan but later it was taken over by the British and finally it settled down with West Bengal.

TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES

Gorkha Hill Council Tourism Office - Silver Fir Building, Opposite Hotel Alice Villa, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India. Tel. - +(91)-0354-54214

West Bengal Tourist Office - Bellevue Hotel, Chowrasta, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India . Tel. - +(91)-0354-54050.

Indian Tourism Office - 'Embassy', 4 Shakespeare Sarani, Calcutta, West Bengal, India Tel. - +(91)-033-2421402, 2421475, 2425813; Fax - +(91)-033-2423521

Indian Tourism Office - 88, Janpath, New Delhi - 110 001 India Tel. - +(91)-011-3320342, 3320005, 3320109, 3320008, 3320266; Fax. - +(91)-011-3320342

TREKKING IN DARJEELING

One of the famous trekking route taken by the trekkers is that of the Darjeeling-Sandakphu / Phalut trek. This trekking route is best during the months of April, May, October and November. As during these seasons the visibility is clear and the weather is also hospitable. For trekking on this route one does not have to carry much luggage as the Gorkha Hill Council has provided trekkers hut and other facilities all along the route. But it is advisable to carry your own sleeping bags. On this route the trekker must be prepared for all kinds of weather and high altitude mountain sickness. The trek passes through low areas and very high ridges so temperature varies a lot be prepared for all types of weather. There surroundings may be very attractive but there are some areas which have long stretches without any water, so carry water with yourself. Regular meals are available. Guides and porters can also be arranged.

Phalut is also called the view point of the Himalayas and is one of the most important & famous treks in the region. The trek starts with a small bus trip to Manaybhanjang. From here the trek passes through the mountains to Sandakphu. From here you can proceed further up or you can return via Rimbik then to Darjeeling by Bus. One can also take a short cut and not go to Ohalut. From Sandakphu backtrek to Bikhay Bhanjang and cut across to Rimbik. But keep in mind that this darjeeling trek is a difficult one with no water or food in between.

POPULATION IN DARJEELING

About one lakh people live in this area.

MAIN LANGUAGES IN DARJEELING

Gorkhali, Hindi, Nepali, Bhutani, Bengali, Assamese and English

A WORD OF CAUTION

To all tourist - beware of touts, if, new to the place. backtotop


CALCUTTA (KOLKATA)

 
Location: West Bengal
First British Fort In The City : Fort Williams
Founded in: 1696 AD.
Known for: Its More Than 100 years Old Buildings

Calcutta Travel– City with Riches of Heritage and Mystical Charm

Calcutta, better known as Kolkata these days, showcases the Indian culture like no other Indian city does. Host of traditional art, literature, music and heritage Kolkata enjoys the status of being India’s cultural capital. Located on the banks of River Hooghly, the city has played many significant roles of being East India’s official capital, India’s oldest port, first Indian city to have Metro railway and one of the top metropolitans of present day India.

SIGHTSEEING Tour and Famous Places to See in Kolkata

  • Maidan : The urban park land boasts of major landmarks like Kolkata Race Course, Eden Gardens (with second largest cricket stadium in the world), Victoria Memorial and football stadiums.

  • Victoria Memorial : Considered the icon of Calcutta, the memorial is an enthralling beauty with a museum dedicated to Queen Victoria and British rule and an exquisite garden.

  • Indian Museum :With its interesting Italian architecture and collections like fossils, paintings, armors, ornaments and antiques, Indian Museum is the largest museum in the whole country.

  • Birla Planetarium : Largest in Asia and second largest in the world, the planetarium has astronomy galley and astronomical observatory as the main highlights.

  • DakshineswarKali Temple : Situated on the bank of River Hooghly, the ancient temple is dedicated to Bhavatarini, a form of Goddess Kali.

  • St. John’s Church : The church is home to the Tomb of Job Charnock (an English trader and founder of Calcutta) and a number of memorials.

  • ShaheedMinar (Martyr’s Monument) : Dedicated to the martyrs of Indian Freedom Struggle, the monument is 157 feet high and offers an amazing bird’s eye view of the city from the top (that can be accessed only with police permission).

  • B.B.D. Bagh : Dedicated to the Indian Independence activistsBenoy, Badal and Dinesh, it houses many important buildings like the GPO and the Secretariat.

  • Eden Gardens : Apart from accommodating the renowned cricket ground of the same name, Eden Gardens is known for its picturesque beauty and a wooden Burmese pagoda.

  • Ravindra Gallery:Rare manuscripts of and paintings dedicated to RabindraNath Tagore can be found here.

  • Howrah Bridge: Another popular icon of Calcutta, the bridge is also known as RabindraSetu.

  • Marble Palace: Houses interesting collections of paintings and statues.

  • Belur Math: Headquarters of Ramkrishna Mission started by Swami Vivekanand.

  • Metro Railway: Metro in India was first introduced in Calcutta and it continues to relieve the city from traffic burden.

Other Tourist Attractions in Calcutta/ Kolkata

  • Shopping: Handicrafts, including sarres, silk fabrics, decors, brass figurines, jewelry items and leather wear are popular at Calcutta shopping venues.

  • Wildlife Exploration: Near to Calcutta is Sunderbans National Park, known for dense mangrove forests and wildlife species like Bengal tigers, salt-water crocodiles and many exotic birds.

  • Fairs and Festivals: DurgaPooja, Kali Pooja and Diwali are the top festivals that the city celebrates with great enthusiasm. VasantPanchami and PoilaBaishak (Bengali New Year) are other popular celebrations.

Excursions and Places to Visit Near Calcutta

  • Barrackpore (about 25 km): Famous for Gandhi Ghat, Gandhi Museum and riverside parks.

  • Chandernagore (about 40 km): Highlights include Sacred Heart Church, Underground House, ancient temples, amusement parks and Chandernagore Strand.

  • Bandel (about 43 km): Famous for Portuguese structures

  • Diamond Harbor (about 50 km): River Hooghly meets Bay of Bengal here and the place is also near to Gangasagar pilgrimage center.

  • Haldia (about 95 km): Admired for beautiful riversides.

  • Digha (about 185 km): A splendid beach resort perfect for sunbathing and swimming.

Tourist Information

  • Best Time to Visit:Due to tropical climate, Calcutta experiences hot and humid summer months. Winter months (September to March) are pleasant for sightseeing. Though, the city may experience rain across the year.

  • How to Reach: The city is served by Dum Dum domestic and international airport. Calcutta has its own railway stations at Howrah and Sealdah that connect to the rest of the country. By road, the city is connected to several top destinations through the Grand Trunk Road.

NEAR BY CITIE(S)


Digha - 185 kms.
Barrackpore - 25 kms.
Bandel - 43 kms.
Shantiniketan - 213 kms.
Haldia - 96 kms.
Sunderbans - 131kms.
Chandernagore - 39 kms.
Siliguri - 606 kms.

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SUNDERBAN WILDLIFE, KOLKOTTA

 
Location : East Of India
Capital : Calcutta
Tourist Attractions : Fort William, Victoria Memorial, Raj Bhavan
Best Time To Visit : Throughout the year.

Towards the south of Calcutta, the rivers Ganga and Hoogly divide itself into many distibutaries. The speed of water is reduced and the river deposits its silt just as it is about to merge into the sea. In due course, the accumulated silt takes the shape of islands on the mouth of the rivers. These are the famous Gangetic deltas. They provide an ideal atmosphere and environment for the Sundari trees to grow. Spread over an area of almost 10,000 sq kms (now shared by Bangladesh and India), the Sunderbans are home to many exquisite animals and birds. The Indian Government has declared this 1330 sq kms of area as a national park.

The pristine beauty of nature is made alive by the variety of the flora and fauna. The Fleming Red flowers of Genwa, the crab like red flower of Khalsi add to the dazzling display of nature. This 'fairyland' is made fascinating by the millions of micro organism found on the fringes of the islands.

Once this area was a paradise for tiger hunters. But the rapid fall in the Royal Bengal Tiger population forced the government to declare tiger poaching as illegal and the area came under the Project Tiger. Tigers in Sunderbans is known to swim a record distance of 10 kms. They also hunt fish if hungry or steal honey from the bee hives. Though Sunderban tigers are described as man-eaters, specialists say they rarely attack human beings. Tigers are not the only attraction in Sunderbans, there are estuarine crocodiles and shy jungle cats or the fishing cats. The reptiles found in the forest includes the King Cobra, Rock Python and Water Monitor.

During the winters the olive ridley turtles descend to nest the shores of Kanak island. The tigers can be easily spotted at the water holes at Sajnekhali, Sudhanyakhali, Netidhopani and Haldi. No permission is required for a general river cruise outside the core area and sanctuary . But there are particular places where permission will be required.

The best time to visit Sunderbans is during winters between September and March. There are regular bus services from Calcutta to this place. But the main areas of the sanctuary can only be accessed only by riverine waterways. The best and the safest way to visit Sunderbans is on conducted tours. One can also avail the services of the private vessels from Canning, Gosaba or Basanti. Accommodation in the sanctuary is available, in the comfortable tourist lodges. Sajnekahli has a 60 bed tourist lodge. Overnight facilities are also available at Bakkhali and Piyali. backtotop


Pondicherry

The Union Territory of Puducherry comprises four coastal regions viz. Pondicherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. Pondicherry is the Capital of this Union Territory and one of the most popular tourist destinations in South India. Pondicherry has been described by National Geographic as "a glowing highlight of subcontinental sojourn". The city has many beautiful colonial buildings, churches, temples, and statues, which, combined with the systematic town planning and the well-planned French-style avenues, still preserve much of the colonial ambiance. backtotop


Dadra and Nagar Haveli

Dadra and Nagar Haveli /ˈdɑːdrɑː/ & /ˌnʌɡərˌhəˈvɛli/ (Marathi: दादरा आणि नगर हवेली, Gujarati: દાદરા અને નગર હવેલી, Portuguese: Dadrá e Nagar-Aveli) is a Union Territory in western India. Nagar Haveli is wedged between Maharashtra and Gujarat, whereas Dadra is a enclave 1 km NW surrounded by Gujarat. The shared capital is Silvassa. The larger part spans a large, roughly c-shaped area 12–30 kilometres up-river from the city of Daman on the coast, at the centre of which, and thus outside the territory, is the Madhuban reservoir.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli (DNH) are in the middle of the quite undulating watershed of the Daman Ganga River, which after the reservoir flows through Nagar Haveli and later forms the short southern border of Dadra. The towns of Dadra and Silvassa lie on the north bank of the river. The Western Ghats range rises to the east, and the foothills of the range occupy the eastern portion of the district. While the territory is landlocked, the Arabian Sea lies just to the west in Gujarat. backtotop


Daman and Diu

Daman and Diu /dəˈmɑːn/ & /ˈdiːuː/ ( locally (help·info); Hindi: दमन और दीव, Gujarati: દમણ અને દીવ, Marathi: दमण आणि दीव, Portuguese: Damão e Diu [dɐˈmɐ̃w i ˈdiw]) is a union territory in India.

For over 450 years, the coastal exclaves of Daman and Diu on the Arabian Sea coast were part of Portuguese India, along with Goa and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Goa, Daman, and Diu were incorporated into the Republic of India on 19 December 1961 by military conquest. Portugal did not recognise the Indian annexation of these territories until 1974.

The territory of "Goa, Daman, and Diu" were administered as a single union territory until 1987, when Goa was granted statehood, leaving Daman and Diu as a separate union territory. Each enclave constitutes one of the union territory's two districts. Daman and Diu are approximately 640 kilometres away from each other.backtotop

Telangana

Telangana is a state in South India and one of the 29 states in India. It was formed on 2 June 2014 with the city of Hyderabad as its capital.Telangana is bordered by the states of Maharashtra to the north and North west Chhattisgarh to the north east, Karnataka to the west, and Andhra Pradesh to the east and south. As the twelfth largest state in India, Telangana has an area of 114,840 square kilometres (44,340 sq mi), and a population of 35,286,757 (2011 census). Its major cities include Hyderabad, Warangal, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Ramagundam and Khammam.

Telangana acquired its identity as the Telugu-speaking region of the princely state of Hyderabad, ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad,[6] joining the Union of India in 1948. In 1956, the Hyderabad state was dissolved as part of the linguistic reorganisation of states and Telangana was merged with former Andhra State to form Andhra Pradesh. Following a popular movement for separation, it was awarded separate Statehood on 2 June 2014. Hyderabad will continue to serve as the joint capital city for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for a period of not more than ten years.

Telangana culture combines cultural customs from Persian traditions, embedded during rule of the region by the Moghuls, Qutub Shahis and Nizams, with prominent and predominantly south Indian traditions and customs. The State has a rich tradition in classical music, painting and folk arts such as Burra katha, shadow puppet show, and perini Shiva Tandavam, Gusadi Dance, Kolatam.[citation needed]
Monuments
Kakatiya Kala Thoranam , Warangal Charminar, Golconda Fort, Qutb Shahi Tombs, Chowmahalla Palace, Falaknuma Palace, Birla Mandir and Bhongir Fort, Warangal Fort are some of the monuments in and around Hyderabad.
Religious tourism
Bhadrachalam Temple is a temple to Lord Rama in the town of Bhadrachalam in Khammam district. Gnana Saraswati Temple is a temple to Saraswati goddess in the town of Basar in Adilabad district. Badapahad dargah is one of the oldest Muslim pilgrim centers, built in the memory of Hazrat Syed Hussaini, built on top of a hillock, located at a distance of 38 km from Nizamabad.
Jogulamba temple, Alampur (also known as Dakshina Kashi or Navabrahmeshwara Theertha) - a famous temple located in Mahabub nagar Dist. Jogulamba (also known as Yogulamba/Yogamba) is one of the eighteen Shakti peethas) Yadagirigutta Temple - a famous temple located in Nalgonda District, only 46 km from Hyderabad.
Keesaragutta Ramalingeshwara Swamy temple is very famous. Shivratri is very well celebrated every year. Pillalamarri, an 800-year-old banyan tree located in Mahabubnagar. Ramappa Temple with unbelievable architecture is located near Mulugu which is 70 km away from Warangal Vemulawada - Sri Raja Rajeswara Swami temple is a very famous temple also called as Dakhshina (South) Kasi. This temple was built by Chalukya kings between the 750 AD and 973 AD This town is very busy and visited by devotees from all over the state for the Shivratri festival every year. There are few other very old and historic temples in the town of Vemulawada, Karimnagar District.
Warangal - The Thousand Pillar Temple, built by the Kakatiya dynasty, is one of the oldest temples of South India. Other religious places include, Medak Cathedral at Medak, Buddhist centres at Nelakondapalli, Dhulikatta Phanigiri and Kolanpaka.
Waterfalls
Kuntala waterfalls in Adilabad district Kuntala Waterfall located in Kuntala, Adilabad district, at 45 metres (148 ft), is the biggest in the state.[citation needed]
Bogatha Waterfall is waterfall located in Koyaveerapuram G, Wazeedu Mandal, Khammam district, Telangana. It is located 120 Km from Bhadrachalam, 140 km away from Warangal and 329Km from Hyderabad.
Savatula Gundam Waterfalls are one of the many waterfalls located in Adilabad district, Telangana, India. They are located 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Asifabad and 350 kilometres (220 mi) from Hyderabad, the state capital.
English, Hindi, Gujarati, and Marathi are the official[1] and main languages.[2][3] The use of Portuguese is in decline because it is no longer taught at school, though a number of elderly people can still understand it, some even preferring to speak it at home. In addition to standard Portuguese, there are also two declining Portuguese-based creole languages in Daman (known as Língua da Casa, "Home Language") and Diu (Língua dos Velhos, "Elders' Language"). English is increasingly accepted for official purposes. backtotop


 

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