The Body, mind and Soul destination-India:The Soul of the World resides in India. The essence or the spirit of the World is India. India, otherwise called “Bharat” is home to several cultures and major religions of the world. Ancient India was a sort of a temptress with its spice and wealth that lured many an invader. Infact, when Cristopher Columbous set out to discover America, he discovered Kerala, one of the States in India and called it, “Paradise.” Such was the perfection of India. Despite several invasions by several countries right from Portugal to England, India has somehow very gracefully embraced all these invaders and imbibed their cultures into her spirit to now exude a grace and charm and a culture so rich in its diversity that one can only step back and exclaim in wonder at her inexorable spirit of tolerance andamalgamation.
Mark Twain in his “Introduction to India,” wrote the following: This is indeed India, the land of dreams and romances, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Alladdin lamps, of tigers and of plants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a hundred nations, a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and 2 million Gods, cradle of the human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great grandmother of tradition, the sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the land that all men desire to see and having once seen by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.”
India, the land of mystery and mystique, with its myriad complexities and diversities, its rural and the urban landscapes, its sometimes awe inspiring and sometimes humble structures, has struck many a poet’s and writers imagination. What and how does India exist comfortably despite its different peoples and cultures? To know this one has to understand that the Soul of India lies in its philosophical view of life, that all of life is an illusion and that what really matters is the Soul of the people and not their colour, caste or creed. Sounds like a contradiction because of the several castes and tribes that exist in India! But that is where the beauty lies. That despite all the several contradictions, amidst all the chaos and serenity, there lies in India a certain calm and understanding which I would like to call, the Soul of India that pervades in every nook and cranny of this magnificent land called India.
Come let me guide you through this wonderful land after having revived and rejuvenated and renewed your body, mind and soul on line in Soul City.
India attained Independence in the year 1947 from the British who left a marvelous and glorious legacy which are evident in the railways and communications, its hill stations and the incredible English language that acts as a common bond in India. The British have left behind a quaint Victorian culture which even now exists in the various private clubs established by the British.
Right from Kashmir in the North to Kerala in the South, India has several scenic sights and wonders to offer to the tourist or visitor apart from the various tastes of the different cuisines that is peculiar to each and every state of India.
Most of the tourists are fascinated by the pink city of Jaipur in Rajasthan, because of its palaces and traces of royalty still lingering on. The Delhi-Agra-Jaipur-Udaipur, whirlwind tour need not be a whirlwind and can be seen at one’s own pace. It could be a 2 day trip at each of these places and one could still enjoy it at a relaxed pace. Seeing New Delhi, including shopping, could be done in 2 days and on the third day, a car travel to Agra in the early morning hours from Delhi could safely see one in about 4 hours in their Hotel room. Then would start the sight seeing in Agra itelf. This would take approximately one and a half days and one is still left with another half a day to rest in Agra, before starting off for Jaipur and Udaipur the next morning either by road or by flight.
Let us explore what the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur and Udaipur trip has to offer.
Let us start our journey from Delhi, the capital of India:
Living testament to the glory of the Mughal days, patron of palaces and tombs and the capital of India, New Delhi is all of this and more. Situated about 160 kms south of the Himalayas and on the west bank of the Yamuna River, a tributary of the Ganges, Delhi has the distinction of being the historic hub of politics.
Delhi is as modern or ancient as you want it to be. Today's Delhi is cosmopolitan, modern and fun-loving. With feasts for art and theatre lovers, concerts for the musically inclined and food that can make a gourmet cry with delight, Delhi is a place with something for everyone.
People from all parts of the country inhabit Delhi. There are different cultural pockets with Punjabi's being the most dominant section here. The most common languages spoken here besides English are Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.
Population: Approx 12 million.
Climate: Delhi has a climate of extremes. The summer lasts from mid-March to the end of June, with average maximum and minimum temperatures of 36º C and 25º C respectively. The monsoons follow the hot summer, continuing till the end of September with an average rainfall of about 26 inches. The winter extends from late November to mid-February. The coldest month is January, when both the maximum and minimum temperatures are at their lowest - 21º C and 7º C respectively.
Best times to visit: October to March.
RashtrapatiBhavan: Formerly the Vice-Regal Palace, it is the official residence of the President of India. This 340-room palace and its gardens cover an area of 330 acres..
JamaMasjid: Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India was built by Shah Jahan. The Masjid overlooks the old markets of the city that are massed around Chandni Chowk and stretches till the great Red Fort. Walking through this area can prove to be a trip down the times, where the flavor of old Mughal charm still lingers.
QutubMinar: The emblem of Delhi, the 72.55 meter high Qutub Minar was erected in the 13th century by Qutub-Ud-Din Aibak. Within the complex is an Iron pillar, which has never rusted. This five-storied tower is visible from a distance of several kilometers. Which means that you could be visiting a lot of places in Delhi and the Qutub Minar stays with you.
Rajpath: Rajpath is worth a visit. Every January 26, the grand Republic Day Parade is held there. At one end, is the India Gate where the eternal flame burns to commemorate India's war heroes. At the other end is the Presidential Palace, the Rashtrapati Bhavan. On some days in early spring, visitors are allowed to wander around the building's famed Mughal Gardens.
Diwan-i-am: The hall of Public audiences is where the Emperor listened to the grievances of his subjects, settled disputes and generally dispensed justice.
Diwan-i- khas: The hall of Private audiences, a structure of white marble, is where the Emperor held private meetings and met dignitaries. The famous peacock throne, studded with precious stones, was in this hall before Nadir Shah carted it away to Iran.
Jantar Mantar: Jantar Mantar is an observatory. About 300 years old, it can measure the movement of the earth and the stars. It is also a very peaceful park in the centre of town.
India Gate: This massive 42m tall structure was built as a memorial to the 90,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. The structure has the names of the soldiers engraved on it. An eternal flame burns here in commemoration of the brave soldiers.
These beautiful gardens have majestic domed tombs of many Sayyid and Lodi Sultans. The well-kept gardens with fountains, ponds, flowering trees, blossoming shrubs and bushes are ideal places for joggers and those who seek solitude.
Haji Begum, the senior wife of Emperor Humayun built this mausoleum in the mid 16th century. The tomb is situated amidst avenues of trees, watercourses and flowerbeds. A magnificent example of refined early Mughal architecture, the structure harmoniously blends with nature.
This is the sixth city of Delhi. Located south-east of India Gate, it is one of the most prominent monuments in Delhi. Humayun started the fort's construction but Sher Shah, who drove him out from Delhi, completed the city during his own reign (1538-1545). The massive walls and huge gates were constructed by Humayun. The octagonal Shermandal and the Quila-i-Kuhran Masjid were built by Sher Shah.
Connaught Place: Connaught Place is an upmarket shopping area designed by Edwin Lutyens who also designed the whole of New Delhi.
Taj Mahal: There is no other monument in the world, which can match the beauty and grandeur of the Taj Mahal. Set amongst the serene ambience of a well laid out garden the massive marble structure of the Taj is awe-inspiring. The Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by Shahjahan- the fifth Mughal emperor, in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Shahjahan loved his wife so much that after she passed away in 1631, he decided to immortalize their love in the form of the Taj Mahal. It is more than 350 years since Taj Mahal was built, but it has not lost its romantic aura which attracts millions of visitors towards it.
Agra Fort: Agra might be world famous for the Taj Mahal, built by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan in memory of his beloved wife. However, it is also famous for the Agra Fort, which is a veritable treasure trove of the Mughal architectural tradition. The various buildings within this sprawling fort complex represent the assimilation of different cultures, which was the mark of the Mughal period.
Itmad-ud-Daulah’s tomb is a highly ornate edifice, which is looked upon as an imminent precursor of the Taj Mahal as far as elaborate carvings and inlay work are concerned.
Jami Masjid : Across the railway tracks from the Delhi Gate of Agra Fort, the Jami Masjid was built by Shah Jahan in 1648. An inscription over the main gate indicates that it was built in the name of Jahanara, Shah Jahan's daughter, who was eventually imprisoned with Shah Jahan by Aurangzeb.
Chini Ka Rauza : It is the only building in India to be decorated exclusively with glazed tile work. The tiny mausoleum overlooking the River Yamuna was the tomb of Afzal Khan, a minister in the court of Shah Jahan.
Rambagh : Previously known as Araambagh, is the probably amongst one of the first Mughal monuments of India. Built by Emperor Babar in 1526 for his recreation, its architecture shows Afghani influences.
Jahangir Mahal : The biggest private residence in the Fort is the Jahangir Mahal, the Palace of Emperor Jahangir. It is an excellent blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture. The palace has a hall which is called Jodhabai's dressing Room. Jodhabai was Jahangir's Hindu mother. Its desigen and layout is essentially Hindu. Later the palace was used by Jahangir's Dressing Room. Jodhabai was Jahangir's Hindu mother. Its design and layout is essentially Hindu. Later the palace was used by Jahangir's queen Noorjahan,the Light of the World. Jahangir was very found of wine as well as his queen whom he adored even more. The love of wine interfered in the day do day running of the Government.To help him out in administering imperial justice, Noorjahan sat with her husband to advise him in taking decisions. She was an iron lady and never tolerated opposition.Those who came in her way ended mysteriously in the yamuna river.
Chisti's Tomb : The Gateway buildings leads to the Friday mosque or the Jami Masjid. It is believed to be a copy of the main mosque at Meca. Nearby is the small white marble tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti. It is ornamented with latticed screens and serpentine brackets. Shahjahan added exquiatie pieta dura work later as a mark of respect for the saint. The tomb was built over the exact spot where the holy man sat in meditation during his lifetime. Even, today, childess couples come to the tomb to seek the blessings of Sheikh Salim Chisti
. Jaipur and Udaipur.
|| On Delhi-Jaipur Highway, 11 km from Jaipur.
|| Raja Man Singh I.
|| Wonderful carvings and minute mirror work.
|How to reach
|| You can reach Amber Fort either by taking local,Buses from the city or by hiring taxis
Amber Fort is located in Amber (Jaipur), which used to be the capital of the Kachhwaha clan, till Jaipur was made the official capital in 1727. The Amber Fort looks stunning, all-built in white marble and red sandstone. To add to its charm, Maotha Lake makes its foreground. The crystal mirror image of the Fort, on the still waters of the lake, seems to be a beautiful illusion. Amber Fort is usually pronounced as Amer Fort. In 1592, construction of the Fort was started by Raja Man Singh I. However, the Amber Fort took its present form during the reign of Raja Jai Singh I.
The outer appearance of the Fort, being rough and craggy is totally different from its core. The interior of the Fort provides a soothing and warm ambience, which is least expected from its outer appearance. The marvelous decoration of the Amer Fort is influenced by both, the Hindu and Muslim manner of ornamentation. Exquisite paintings of hunting scenes on the walls depict the temperament of the Rajputs, who were adventurous, revolutionary and self-indulgent.
The intricate carvings on the walls and ceilings simply astonish the visitors. The minute mirror work adds to the grand appearance and royalty of the halls. The Amer Fort undoubtedly captivates the tourists with its artistic quality of delicate work. The mighty walls guarantee the protection of the Fort against the invasion of the enemies. The Fort is divided into four subparts.
Kali Temple, which is also known as Shila Devi Temple, forms the part of the Fort. It is renowned for its glorious past, huge silver lions and silver doors. The Hall of Public Audiences, Diwan-I-Aam is a pavilion with double row of columns. Ganesh Pol, another feature of the Fort, directs the way to the inhabited apartments of the King. The Hall of Victory, Jai Mandir has a stunning ceiling comprised of mirror work and an inlaid panel. The Fort has numerous other halls and pavilions with their own specific attraction.
The best part of this tourist attraction situated on a crafty hill, is the royal elephant ride. The flawless beauty of the Fort can be enjoyed royally with an elephant ride. Amber/Amer Fort is the part of Jaipur and its royalty. A trip to Jaipur would be definitely incomplete, without the visit to this imperial Fort of Amber.
City Palace forms one of the most famous tourist attractions and a major landmark in Jaipur. The beautiful palace was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh during his reign. Among the various forts and palaces of Jaipur, City Palace stands apart, with its outstanding art and architecture. City Palace complex covers a huge area, which is divided into a series of gardens, courtyards and buildings. Initially, Raja Jai Singh built the outer wall occupying a huge area. The additional grand buildings were constructed later by the succeeding rulers.
A part of the exquisite Palace still makes home for the former Maharaja/ King. The premises consists several buildings like Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Mukut Mahal, Maharani's Palace, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum. One would come across the Mubarak Mahal, as one enters the first square. Mubarak Mahal was built by Sawai Madho Singh in the 19th century to entertain his guests. Today, it has converted into a costume gallery, which displays royal attires of the Kings.
After crossing the first square, a beautiful gateway welcomes to Diwan-I-Khas, a hall meant for private audience. It has two sterling silver vessels on display and they are acclaimed to be the world's largest silver vessel. These vessels were made for Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II to carry water from River Ganga to drink on his trip to England. Diwan-I-Aam, which was meant for public audience, forms the other attraction of this courtyard.
In the series, Maharani's Palace, which was meant for royal queens, has been converted into a museum, showcasing weapons dated back to 15th century. Chandra Mahal is essentially regarded as the best part, out of the whole tour to City Palace. It has seven stories and each story is known by a different name. The topmost story is known as Mukut Mahal. The wonderful architecture of this Palace with delicate paintings, mirror work on walls and floral decorations, makes it a "must-see" for every visitor. In the present day.
Badal Mahal stands opposite to Chandra Mahal and while crossing the path, one would find Govind Dev Ji Temple between them. Above all these, the Palace also offers delicacies in its multi cuisine restaurant. To sum up, the City Palace is a structure of historical importance and a souvenir of the regal past. The palace, with its royal grace stands as a symbol of magnificence. All these features of City Palace leave the tourists with no other option, but to visit it.
Jantar Mantar at Jaipur is the largest stone observatory in the World and this feature makes it, a special destination for a traveler. Jantar Mantar of Jaipur is one of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur. During the period between 1727 and 1733, Jantar Mantar took its form and structure. Initially Jantar Mantar was named as Yantra Mantra, which means instruments and formulae, but due to mispronunciation of the term, it is changed to the recognized name.
Jantar Mantar has a remarkable collection of architectural astronomical instruments. It portrays noteworthy attempt of the ancestors, who were interested in astronomy and knowledge of celestial bodies. Above all, this observatory still, provides accurate information, which can be compared with today's modern instruments. Jantar Mantar at Jaipur is the largest stone observatory in the World and this feature makes it, a special destination for a traveler. Jantar Mantar of Jaipur is one of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur. During the period between 1727 and 1733, Jantar Mantar took its form and structure. Initially Jantar Mantar was named as Yantra Mantra, which means instruments and formulae, but due to mispronunciation of the term, it is changed to the recognized name.
Jantar Mantar has a remarkable collection of architectural astronomical instruments. It portrays noteworthy attempt of the ancestors, who were interested in astronomy and knowledge of celestial bodies. Above all, this observatory still, provides accurate information, which can be compared with today's modern instruments.
Jantar Mantar is wholly constructed with stone and marble. The observatory has fourteen statistical instruments for measuring time, predicting eclipses and to ascertain other astronomical events. Amongst all the instruments, the Sundial usually attracts the maximum attention of people, which tells the time to an accuracy of about two seconds in local time of Jaipur. Jantar Mantar was carefully renovated in 1901 and was declared a national monument in 1948. Today, Jantar Mantar has become a major tourist attraction in Jaipur.
Hawa Mahal is a major landmark and a famous tourist attraction of Jaipur. The Palace offers a beautiful sight to behold. The splendid Rajputana architecture of Hawa Mahal, still speaks the glory of the royal family. However, one can also find a glimpse of Mughal architecture, which is blended perfectly to make it different from others. The literal meaning of Hawa Mahal is Palace of Winds. Hawa Mahal was built by Maharaja Sawal Pratap Singh in 1779.
Hawa Mahal is a pyramid-shaped facade with five stories. It has 953 small windows decorated with tiny lattice work. These pink sandstone windows commonly known as "Jharokhas" are constructed in such a style, that it looks like a giant honeycomb. The air circulation through windows represents the marvelous touch of Mughal designing, which keeps the Palace always cool. The small screened balconies and arched roofs with hanging cornices enhance the beauty of the Palace. The Pyramidal outline and replication of pattern makes it more attractive in appearance.
As a matter of fact, Hawa Mahal is believed to build for the women of the Royal Families, since they had to observe strict "purdah" (cover). The small windows and screened balconies serve the women to watch processions and different activities taking place on the streets. In this manner, the women could enjoy a sense of freedom without showing themselves.
Early morning is considered as the best time to visit the Palace, when it is drenched in the golden light of the Sun. At this time, Hawa Mahal appears incredible. One cannot possibly describe the beauty of the Palace in words. The golden light of the early morning sun floats beautifully through the windows of this palace creating a wonderful sight for one and all. The palace has to be visited to experience the true beauty.
Jaigarh Fort is located on the top of the hill, by the name of Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles). Jaigarh Fort is also known as the 'Victory Fort', located at a comfortable distance of 15kms from Jaipur. Jaigarh Fort is considered as one of the spectacular forts in India. This Fort is on top of the hill, while Amber Fort is at the bottom. Many people regard the two as one complex however both of them are separate.
Jaigarh Fort was made to tighten the security of Jaipur and Amber. Due to this fact, one may not find this fort as artistic as other forts and palaces, but it certainly has its own charm. The Fort has many structures of medieval India, which are worth exploring. It has several palaces, granary, well-planned cannon foundry, several temples and a tall tower. Jaigarh Fort used to serve as the center of artillery production for the Rajputs.
The highlight of this Fort is the massive cannon by the name of Jaivan, which was made in the same production house. Jaivan, the cannon, is believed to be the largest cannon in the World and the main attraction of the Jaigarh Fort. The Fort discloses the mastery over architecture of the former age. Jaigarh Fort has many wide water channels, which were a part of a rainwater harvesting system. The Fort also has 3 underground tanks, the largest one of which can store 60, 00,000 gallons of water.
The museum has a remarkable collection of coins, puppets, photographs of the royal kings, buildings, processions and even a circular pack of cards besides many other remnants of the past. The armory has numerous swords, shields, guns, muskets and even a 50 kg cannon ball, which would take you back to the gallantry days of the Kings. One can also see a few weather beaten sedan chairs and drums at the Shubhat Niwas or the Meeting Hall of Warriors. Above all, the Fort offers a wonderful view of the city below. Jaigarh Fort is a perfect destination for a traveler, interested in the majestic past of India.
Jammu and Kashmir.
When the invader Durrani invaded Kashmir he was astounded by the beauty of the place with its valleys and snow fall and the magnificent view with its purity, that he thus commented in Persian which translated to Hindi reads thus “Agar Firdaus kahin hain, thoh yahin hain, yahin hain,” and when translated to English, reads thus, “If there is a Paradise at all, this is it, this is it.”
The beauty of Jammu and Kashmir, captured the imagination of many a poet and writer and even today couples are known to go to Kashmir for their honeymoon.
Some of the places to see in Kashmir are:
Sonmarg:Situated at 9,000 kms. above sea level, Sonmarg is one of the smallest resorts in Kashmir, lying in the heart of a gorgeous valley carved by the river Sindh.. Also known as "Golden meadow", this place gets its name 'Son' meaning golden, from the bloom of yellow crocuses that fill this valley in the spring. It can be reached by roads, which runs through the picturesque Sind valley flanked on one side by the densely populated slopes and many varieties of alpine flowers.
Sonmarg, on the Srinagar-Leh highway is approximately 110 kms from Srinagar and the road to Sonmarg passes through the famous Jawahar tunnel. Buses and private taxis can be hired from Srinagar.
Thajiwas (3km): The whole mountain range here is covered by glaciers. Water falls from these in silver sheets. A forest rest house and a tourist hut between Sonamarg and Thajiwas have excellent views.
Lakes: The wonderful lakes of Vishnasar and Krishnasar with its translucent waters are speckled with ice flakes, and the occasional trout that pops up now and then.
Gangabal: Also called Harmukh Ganga, it is sacred to Hindus. It can be reached from Sonamarg via Krishnasar and Vishansar - a trek through enchanting scenery.
20 kms east of Sonamarg lies the gateway to the Ladakh plateau, the Zoji-La Pass at 3,540 m.
Location : Lying in the Satpura range of forests, Panchmarhi is at altitude of 1100 meter, and falls in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Climate condition : Panchmarhi experiences temperate climate around the year. Highest temperature during summers touches to 35º C while in winters mercury dips up to 1º C.
Best time to visit : Though Panchmarhi can be visited around the year but September-May is the best time to visit.
Things to do:
Being the only hill resort of Madhya Pradesh and lying in its Satpura forests, Panchmarhi is abode to many of popular caves, falls and hills. Giving tourists an opportunity to view its rich natural assets, Panchmarhi lets tourists also indulge into many of Eco-activities like sunset viewing, forest exploration and nature walk in Satpura range of forests, caves viewing, enjoying picnic at beautiful natural locations like cascades and popular hills.
Places of interest:
Caves of Panchgarhi : Many of the popular caves like Mahadev Caves, Jatashankar Caves, Pandav Caves and Tamiya Caves with its innate mythological importance have become must explored place of Panchmarhi. The best thing for nature lovers is to get bewitched with its stunning natural setting.
Bee Falls: The beautiful fall is the main water source of Panchgarhi. Amazing natural surrounding makes it a popular sightseeing spot.
Chahuragarh-Dhupgarh : Both Chahuragarh, famous for its Shiv Temple, and Dhupgarh are two separate hills famous for giving a very panoramic sight of sunrise and sunset. Watching the sun rising and setting from these two hills presents to viewers a very picturesque.
Priyadarshini Point : Earlier known as Forsyth’s Point, Priyadarshini Point is one of the best viewing point of Panchmarhi.
Apsara Vibaii : It is the small pool which due to its natural beauty has turned into favourite sought after spot by picnic goers, especially for children and families.
Rajat Pratap : Reaching to this beautiful fall demands one to ascend through rocks and boulders, which must be a joy for adventure lovers.
Lanjee Giri : For adventure enthusiasts, Lanjee Giri calls them to douse their thirst of adventure. Enjoying rock-climbing in its lovely terrains is great fun for adventurers. But the best joy is here to discover its underground passage.
Calcuatta was where the British established their East India Company when they entered India. Calcutta is supposed to be the state with intellectuals holding discussions in coffee houses. Calcutta has been renamed Kolkatta. Calcutta’s most interesting and outstanding citizen was Rabindrananth Tagore the famous poet/writer whose poetry and writing inspired millions of people all over the world. When Rabindranath Tagore was awarded the Nobel prize for Literature, he returned in saying that he would not accept it when India was in the grip of a foreign nation.
Spots and Sights to see:
Calcutta preserves her history in many museums. Apart from Victoria Memorial, the Indian Museum and the Marble palace, the prominent ones to visit are the Asutosh Museum at Calcutta University, which has a collection of art objects with emphasis on Bengali folk art. The Birla Industrial and Technological Museum, Birla Academy of Art & Culture, with a good collection of sculputures and modern art. The Nehru Children’s Museum has a wonderful collection of dolls and puppets.
Tagore House: The dulcet whispers of history echo through the old mansions of Hindu aristocrats in North Calcutta. One such old house, Tagore House, at jorasanko, is the birth place of Rabindranath Tagore, India's greatest modern poet. Converted to Rabindra Bharati University, it is now a centre for Indian Classical Fine Arts. At Chorbagan is the Marble Palace built in 1840 by Raja Rajendra Mullick, now a museum. Spend your afternoon among precious objects d'art including works of Rubens and Sir Joshua Reynolds.
The Clubs of Calcutta:
The afternoons are long and lazy, the evenings vibrant. Clubs, both social and sporting, are very much a part of Calcutta's culture. They are witness to a glorious past and are increasingly popular even now. The Bengal Club (estd 1827), Calcutta Club (estd 1907), The Saturday Club (estd 1880) and Dalhousie Institute are the most popular social clubs.
Sporting clubs outnumber the social clubs. The Tollygunge Club and Royal Calcutta Golf Club have the finest full length golf courses. Others include South Club for grasscourt tennis, Polo Club within the Race Course, Royal Calcutta Turf Club, Calcutta Rowing Club and Lake Club. The Ladies Golf Club, with a nine hole course, is the only ladies golf club in the world. The Calcutta Cricket and Football Club is a favourite watering hole with the expats of Calcutta.
Corridors of Charm: A walk along Chowringhee Road sets the pace as you set out to unravel the rare beauty of this city. Across the road sweeps a huge, lush green, open parkland called the Maidan, centering around Fort William, the massive and impregnable British Citadel built in 1 773. The fort is still in use and retains its well guarded grandeur. Visitors are allowed in with special permission only.
Along St George`s Gate Road, on the southern fringe of the Maidan, your sight is arrested by a splendid monument in white Makrana marble. Built in Italian Renaissance cum Saracenic style, Victoria Memorial was planned by Lord Curzon and opened by the Prince of Wales in 1921. This British attempt at building a second Taj Mahal, is dedicated to Queen Victoria and houses a fantastic collection of rare memorabilia from colonial days. A light and sound show recreates history every evening.
The adjoining Race Course, built in 1819, is one of the best in the east and is the scene of much gaiety, especially during the winter season.
Northwards, along Chowringhee Road, stands the Biria Planetarium, one of the largest in the world. The central dome measures 25 mts in diameter.
Located on Chowringhee Road is the Indian Museum built in 1877 in Italian style of architecture. walk in to a varied collection of exhibits that include unique fossils, Buddhist Gandharan art, an Egyptian mummy and a roomful of meteorites !
The 48 mt tower of Ochterlony Monument, now renamed Shahid Minar, holds command at the northern end of the Maidan. And the mighty river Hooghly beckons.
At the northern end of the Maidan, towards the river, is the Old British Government house now called Raj Bhavan. Built in 1803, modelled on Lord Curzon`s home, Keddleston Hall, Derbyshire, England, this is now the official residence of the Governor of Bengal. There are many rare works of art and other interesting items. Entry is restricted.
A walk across is the Town Hall, built in 1813, in Doric style of architecture. It is now the City Magistrate`s Office. Don`t let the riverfront mesmerize you yet!
Between the Town Hall and the Strand is the Calcutta High Court, scene of legendary legal battles. Completed in 1872, the Gothic architectural style was copied from the Staadhans at Ypres, Belgium. The tower measures 55 mts.
The Howrah Bridge and the Vidyasagar Setu frame the skyline of the riverfront. The ambience is as amicable and profound as the river that flows alongside. But, turn back to your trail of discovery.
When tired, take a tram ride along Red Road with the green expanse of the Maidan around you. The perfect antidote. A little away, in the south of Calcutta, is a stately mansion. Once home of the British Viceroys, Belvedere House is now the National Library. It houses over a million books and is the biggest in India.
A must is a day spent at Science City. Pick your special thrill at this exposition park. A space theatre, space flight simulator, recreated Jurassic forest, aviary and butterfly corner and much more !
The Missionaries of Charity is a new order formed in 1950 by Mother Teresa. Their vow `to give wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor` was put into action with the setting up of several homes.
Visit Mother Teresa`s tomb at the Mother House and witness the generosity of her spirit at Nirmal Hriday (home for the dying), Shanti Nagar (for lepers) and Nirmala Shishu Bhavan (the children`s home).
For voluntary work with the Mission, in India, you may contact the London branch of the Missionaries of Charity, 41 Villiers Road, Southall, Middlesex, UK, or write in to the "Mother House", 54A, Lower Circular Road, Calcutta 700 014.
Dalhousie Square :
Dalhousie Square was the administrative centre for British India. On one side is the General Post Office, a majestic specimen of Edwardian architecture. It is built on the site of the original Fort William. On the other side stands Writers' Building, a massive Gothic structure with Ionic pillars - still the house of political power.
Kalighat: According to the legend, when Lord Shiva`s wife Parvati`s body was cut up, one of her fingers fell here. Rebuilt in 1809, this is an important shrine of Hindu Shakti worship. The temple is in the southern part of the city.
Dakshineswar Kali Temple and Belur Math:
Built in 1847, on the banks of the Hooghly, north of Calcutta, the temple is associated with Shri Ramakrishna, the eclectic 19th century saint who revived Hinduism during the British Raj. Across the river stands Belur Math , headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission. The monastery is a haven of peace and religious harmony.
Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture: Commemorates the birth centenary of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Religious discourses and cultural exchanges are held here among international scholars. The institute is located at Golpark.
Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture: Commemorates the birth centenary of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Religious discourses and cultural exchanges are held here among international scholars. The institute is located at Golpark.
Nakhoda Mosque: Modelled on Akbar`s tomb in Sikandra, the red sandstone mosque has two minarets 46 mts high, a brightly painted onion shaped dome and can accommodate 10,000 people. Built in 1926 and located on Chitpur Road.
St John`s Church: Built in 1787 with Grecian columns. The burial ground has the mausoleum of Job Charnock, founder of Calcutta. On the north-west side of Raj Bhavan.
St Paul`s Cathedral: Constructed between 1839 and 1847 in Gothic style with stained glass windows and two Florentine frescoes, the cathedral is the. largest in the city and next to the Biria Planetarium. St Paul`s was consecrated in 1874.
Armenian Church: The oldest place of Christian worship in Calcutta. The church of Holy Nazareth was built in 1764. Among the other churches to visit are St Andrew`s Church. The Old Mission Church and the Greek Orthodox Church.
Jewish Synagogues: The Maghen David Synagogue on Jewish Synagogue Street and the BETHEL on Pollock Street are very old worship houses and a reminder to the cosmopolitan nature of the city.
Parsi Fire Temples: They cater to the religious needs of the prominent Parsi community of Calcutta. Located on Metcalf Street and Beliaghata.
Japanese Buddhist Temple:
Located on the banks of Rabindra Sarovar.
Pareshnath Jain Temple: The temple is an ornate mass of mirrors, coloured stones and glass mosaic, and overlooks a beautiful garden. It is in Shyambazar.
Bombay, commercial centre of India, has been renamed Mumbai. The city of Mumbai has by far the most contradictions. You have the wealthiest and also the poorest in this city. You have Five star hotels and right opposite that you have the slums of Mymbai. The curious part of it all is that no one desires to leave the city and they would rather rough it out there than live in any other part of the country in a better lifestyle. There is a common belief that once you have tasted the waters of Mumbai, you would not want to leave it.
Located to the west of India, Mumbai is built on an island on the west coast of Maharashtra. Mumbai was captured by Portuguese in the 17th century but in 1668, it exchanged hands and went to the British empire as a part of dowry when the Portuguese princess married Charles II of England. Apart from being the business hub of India, it is also the most enthralling tourist destination with places like Gateway of India and Elephanta Caves to see. It also boast the presence of the biggest film industry, Bollywood in its midst. It is the city where half of its 12 million population lives in slums and the rest in Palaces as big and as beautiful as any.
The Metropolitan City - Live The Nights:
Mumbai as a cosmopolitan city is probably the most happening of the four metropolitan cities of India. It is the home to the most known persons of India, be it business tycoons, politicians or film superstars. The atmosphere in this city is always very charged up and there is never a dull moment to be felt This resplendent city is completely connected with local trains that have become a lifeline for the people of Mumbai.
Bollywood is the biggest film industry in the world which creates more than 400 movies an year. This is the place where ambitious youngsters with starry dreams in their eyes come in search of a career that will take them to instant stardom. And as is known, where there are films, there is fashion. Mumbai is the world's biggest textile market which earns this city the name 'India's Paris'.
Places to Visit - Mumbai Charms
Gateway of India : The Gateway of India is is located on the waterfront in South Mumbai. This monument is made of yellow basalt and reinforced concrete. This beautiful work of architecture is around 26 meters high and it was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai.
Elephanta Caves are situated on Elephanta islands in the Mumbai harbor just off the coast of Mumbai. The name Elephanta was given by the Portuguese after a statue of an elephant situated at the entrance of the island. These caves were bestowed with UNESCO world heritage site tag. These magnificently carved caves have rock cut temples in them which are a real treat to eyes. These caves can only be reached by a boat which can be hired from Gateway of India.
Haji Ali Mosque:
The Haji Ali Mosque is situated in sea around 500 yards into it with only a narrow pathway joining it to the mainland. The shrine was built by the followers of Haji Ali who went on a pilgrimage to Mecca after renouncing all his worldly possessions. The mosque lies opposite to Mahalakshmi Temple and can be accessed by Lala Lajpatrai Road.
Juhu - Spot A Star: Juhu is a place that you just cannot afford to miss if you are in Mumbai. Juhu attracts huge number of tourists not only due to the Juhu beach which is the most mesmerizing hot spots in Mumbai but also because it is one of the most posh colonies in Mumbai where many Bollywood stars have their huge mansions. So just wander around the streets of Juhu, enjoy the mouthwatering Mumbai's Paani Puri (snacks) from vendors lining the beach or sit around on the beach and you might just get lucky enough to spot a famous big screen celebrity taking a walk around.
Beaches Of Mumbai :
Mumbai is the city with many ornamented beaches that are bound to make your trip to these sea sides extremely worthwhile. These beaches are so scintillating that they seem to be drawn straight out of a man' dream. The main beaches that you can view are Marina Beach which is located in central Mumbai, Chowpatty Beach, Juhu Beach and Marve and Minori Beach.
Festivities In Mumbai :
Mumbai, the city that is a home to people from all religion and lands, is also famous for celebrating many festivals. The most widely celebrated is the Ganesh Chaturthi that comes in the month of August-September for which preparations start months before the the main day. Other festivals that are celebrated with much enthusiasm are Gudhi Padava, Nariyal Poornima, Holi, Navaratri and Diwali.
Navaratri is a festival that is celebratred throughout India with great enthusiasm and excitement. And Mumbai is probably the best place to to be a part of the celebrations. This nine day celebrations witnesses many shows and parties being organized in the entire city. Navaratri is actually the start of a big festive season that follows the magnificent nine nights. Dusshera and Diwali are the main festivals of the season which are followed by festivals like Govardhan Puja and Bhai Dooj.
If you desperately need to get away from the heat, there are hill stations like Ranikhet, Almora and then there is Mussoorie.
Mussoorie, the 'Queen of Hills' is a paradise. Everywhere eyes are set, there is beauty unlimited. At a height of 7000 ft, it offers commanding views of snow capped peaks in the north east and the beautiful sprawling green Doon valley towards the south. The envy of other hill stations, no one escapes here from the magic spell of the queen.
Unlike other hill stations, Mussoorie hasn't got a rich history. It wasn't the summer capital of British but the charm of Mussoorie lies elsewhere. Mussoorie's date with fame came after an adventuroes British military officer came here in 1827 with Mr. Shore, the resident Superintendent of Revenues at Dehradun and came up with a shooting lodge. Since then tourists haven't stopped pouring in here. Never on official records, the air of informality hung in Mussoorie. it was as if it is left for the 'affairs of the heart'. And it was not long after that Mussoorie had to its credit, the title of 'honeymoon capital of India', where romance flutters everywhere.
The busiest of all, Mussoorie has a hectic social life, the malls, shops, tourists all this makes sure that the place does not have a dull day in calender through out the year. Being so popular Mussoorie is a highly developed hill station. It has all the facilities to cater to domestic and foreign tourists.
Attractions in Mussoorie:-
Gun Hill : This is the second highest peak in Mussoorie. Either you take a 30 minute slightly uphill walk or go by the ropeway. There are few eateries here and some sovenier shops and some other stalls, but the best thing about Gun hill is the view you get from here. It offers panoramic view of the Himalyas, Banderpunch, Gangotri, Pithwara, Srikantha among the few. Looking down from here you see Mussoorie bustling and further down you see Dehradun. Well, you can come here for the views and to get away from the crowds below, Gun hill is much peaceful and calmer.
Kempty Falls: Fifteen kilometers from Mussoorie is the pride of Mussoorie, Kempty Falls. It is the star attraction of Mussoorie. The biggest waterfall here, it is located lower than Mussoorie, nestled among a cluster of cliffs from all sides. Waters come cascading down from a height of 4,500 ft, hitting the rocks on its way and getting split into five streams. Many people make a splash here under the watrefall and in the pool for fun and enjoyment, mainly so in summeres. There are many shops, eateries changing rooms around the falls that it looks like one big market around the place.
Jharipani falls and Bhatta Falls:
Other falls in Mussoorie are Jharipani falls and Bhatta Falls. Eight kilometers from Mussoorie is Jharipani. A 1.5 kilometers walk from Jharipani will take you to the falls. Bhatta Falls in the village of Bhatta are seven kilometers from Mussoorie. A different kind of picnic spot, there are separate ponds for bathing and water amusement here.
Lal Tibba : The highest place in Mussoorie is Lal Tibba, and it is the most beautiful place around. This is where you get the feel of its British connection. Lal Tibba, located in Landour is the oldest inhabited area around. A horse ride to the peak is just a perfect way to enjoy here. The view you get from here is that of snow capped peaks. The place has an old world charm to it. It has some old architecture and old houses built during the British era. Municipality had placed a Japenese telescope here in 1967, the telescope gives you splendid views of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Banderpunch and other Himalyan ranges.
Camel's Back Point:
The name is Camel's Back Point, because of a life size rock here actually resembling a camel. You can see this rock from the Mussoorie Public school. The road starts from Rink in Kurli bazaar and goes upto Library Bazaar, a 3 kilometer long stretch. Taking a pony ride here is a memorable expereince. The place is also famous for the sunset view from here in the Himalyas. Many a couples and foriegners come here for taking a break from the crowd at mall.
This is a relatively new picnic spot developed by Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority on the Dehradun Mussoorie road. It is 6 kilometers from Mussoorie. A clean place and relatively less crowded, there are few shops around for you to eat and shop a bit. Peddled boats are also available here for you to take a round in water. It is usually a stopover for people coming to Mussoorie from Dehradun.
Municipal Garden: At a moderate two kilometer walk via Waverly Convent Road is this beautiful picnic spot. The beautiful garden accompanied by a lake for boating were formerly known as Botanical Gardens. Famous geologist Dr. H. Fackner had laid the foundation of the garden.
Highest place around Mussoorie, Nag Tibba is 55 kilometers from here. While other treks become strenous and unapproachable in winters due to snowfall, Naga tibba has no such problems and its quite popular with trekkers. A thirty four kilometer drive followed by a 21 kilometer trek will bring you to Naga Tibba. Thick forests, Garhwali villages enroute, and some great views of Himalyas is what this trek promises.
Dhanaulti: Twenty five kilometers from Mussoorie is Dhanaulti. Tucked in the forests of oak, connifer and deodar, it is a mountain retreat. The place is full of serenity and perfect for breaking away from the hustle bustle of tourists in Mussoorie. Treks to regions in Tehri Garhwal are launched from here. The best thing about Dhanaulti is that it is a round the year destination.
Surkhanda Devi :
Thirty five kilometers from Mussoorie, perched on a hill top is the temple of Surkhanda Devi. A difficult two kilometer steep walk from Kaddulkhal will bring you here. The temple attracts thousands of devotees every year, especially during the months of May and June when Ganga Dusshera fair is held here.
Shopping and Entertainment : Mussoorie, as said, is the most popular hill stations, and it has been developded accordingly. Shopping is as prospering a tourist activity here as any other thing.
The Mall or the Mall road is the hub of tourists. At no time round the year, the place would be dull. It is the centerplace and the most developed. Over a period of time, many hotels have come along the way and they take pride in being situated close to the Mall. A different scene will welcome you here every 10 steps. Rosy cheeked Tibetens selling woolens, imported goods, fabric wall hangings, Tibetan metalware, lots and lots of wooden items, walking sticks, trays, bowls, cane baskets, jewellery and many more, there is no end to that here.
Apart from shopping, there are other things also here. There is a small haat made on a balcony in the open. All sorts of delicacies are here, from Candy floss to Chinese food, and there is a fairy go round of medium size just here. A good photograph here would be that of you wearig a bright Himalyan dress complete with the jewellery. You will see many young people doing that here. As the evening approaches, the shops, hotels are all lit up and the place is like one big complex.
There are other entertainment places here even if you want somewthing different. Cinema halls, clubs, skating halls - its all here for you to make a choice.
The nearest airport is Jolly Grant airport in Dehradoon. Indian Airlines connect Dehradun with Delhi.
Railway station closest to Mussoorie is in Dehradun. The Northern railway terminus is connected via rail to Delhi, Mumbai, Howrah, Lucknow, Varanasi, Amritsar, Saharanpur, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Allahabad, Ujjain, Indore, Kathgodam, Okha.
By Road: Uttaranchal State Transport Corporation run buses between Delhi and Mussoorie. Other imporetant places for where buses are available are Barkot (89 Kms), Dehradun (35 Kms), Hanuman Chatti (129 Kms), Nanital (355 Kms), Saharanpur (110 Kms), Srinagar Garhwal (135 Kms) and Old Tehri (76 KMS).
The Indian State of Goa provides over 50 miles of beautiful beaches on the Arabian Sea...
Of the 75 miles of coast line in the Indian State of Goa, over 50 miles of it is beach. Warm, inviting, near-tropical beach. And while the rest of Goa - its culture, food, inland scenery, and cities - are all well worth visiting, Goa's beaches are what makes the state one of India's major tourist attractions.
Goa's coast faces the Arabian Sea and runs in almost a straight, uninterrupted line - broken only by the outlets of the state's seven rivers.
There are acceptable beaches in the area of Goa's capital, Panaji. But while the beaches around Panaji are clean and acceptable, there is no need for a visitor to Goa to settle for beaches that are simple "acceptable".
zSB(3,3) Palolem is Goa's southernmost beach, about 35 miles south of the capital city, Panaji. The beach is white sand on a blue bay hemmed in by two headlands. Locals will offer to take you out in small boats at watch the dolphins.
If you're looking for a more lonely beach, Agonda Beach is just north of Palolem. It is edged by palms and casuarinas, a large hill sits to the south. You'll find no shops or facilities here. Mabor Beach is nearby - one of South Goa's mots clean and beautiful beaches. Ignore the warning notices on the beach; the local hotel would like you to stay away, but all beaches in India are public property by law and there is no such thing as a "private" beach. It should be noted that beaches in Goa are usually named for the closest village. It is the existence of some village, therefore, and not geography itself which explains why the name of some beach changes as you follow it up the uninterrupted coast.
Moving north from Palolem and Mabor beaches tourists will find that Colva Beach is another broad, beautiful stretch of sand. A brook bubbles across it and the beach is sheltered by palm trees. It is a popular beach, with shops, restaurants, and something of a carnival atmosphere. It is a place where vacationing Indians come to lay in the sun and sand while their children dog-paddle around in the waves.
Among the safest beaches for swimming is Bogmolo Beach, just south of Panaji. It was among the first of Goa's beaches to be discovered by tourists. Fishermen also work the beach. Palms are plentiful.
Inside the Goan capital, Miramar beach (or Gaspar Dias), is only about 2 miles from the center of the city. The beach is popular with the public, but it is not really considered safe for swimmers. Dona Paula Beach near Panaji is a land of water scooters and speedboats.
Not far north of Panaji is Calangute Beach. This was the first of the hippie resorts back in the 60's and 70's. The hippies left, though, when mainstream tourism over ran Calangute. It is small, crowded resorts area today and does a thriving business in the holiday season. Despite the crowds and popularity of the beach, it is long enough to allow some privacy.
Further north, if not quite the capital of the hippie world, Anjuna Beach was at least a leading travel destination for the Woodstock generation. It was once the most celebrated of Goa's beaches. Not far from Anjuna is Vagator Beach, where steep slopes of run down into a picturesque bay protected by small rocky peninsulas on each end.
A centuries-old Portugese fort overlooks the mouth of the Tiracol River in northern Goa. The beaches in this area (the Pernem district) are the state's least developed. The crowds don't come here and there are no big hotels. Visitors camp, or rent one of the small shanties along the beach.
The beaches throughout Goa have an abundance of seas shells. The local Indians string the small brown and black littorin shells into curtains. Yellow-tinted conch shell (hemifuses pugilinus) is common. And a variety of other shells are numerous.
Goa has a steady climate with little change throughout the year. December and January are slightly cool and you may require a light jacket. April and May are the warmest months. There are periods of heavy rain from June to October, with Goa getting 150 inches or more of rain during those months. The temperature during the summers ranges from 75°F/24°C to 92°F/33°C and during the winters it ranges from 70°F/21°C to 90°F/32°C.
A word of caution: swimming is hazardous throughout Goa. The coast has some strong undercurrents. Speak to the lifeguards before you go out into the waters.
The capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad is the fifth largest city in India with an ancient civilisation and culture. The twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad is separated by a man made lake called Tank Bund or Hussain Sagar constructed during the time of the ruler Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah Wali in 1562 AD.
The city is nearly 400 years old and is noted for its natural beauty, mosques and minarets, bazaars and bridges, hills and lakes. It is perched on the top of the Deccan Plateau, 1776ft., above sea level, and sprawls over an area of 100 Sq. miles.
Hyderabad today is very different from what it used to be. Hyderabad was founded on the River Musi five miles east of Golconda, in 1591-92 by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah. In the 16th century the city grew spontaneously to accommodate the surplus population of Golconda, which was the capital of the Qutb Shahi rulers. Many buildings sprang up along the River Musi. Gradually the city grew.
The Qutb Shahi dynasty founded the Kingdom of Golconda, one of the five kingdoms that emerged after the break up of the Bahamani Kingdom. The Qutb Shahis ruled the Deccan for almost 171 years. All the seven rulers were patrons of learning and were great builders. They contributed to the growth and development of Indo-Persian and Indo-Islamic literature and culture in Hyderabad. During the Qutb Shahi reign Golconda became one of the leading markets in the world of diamonds, pearls, steel for arms, and also printed fabric.
The glory of the Golconda kingdom ended in 1687, after a valiant struggle. Aurangzeb, captured Golconda after a siege that lasted eight months. Abul Hasan Tana Shah, the last king of Golconda, was imprisoned at Daulatabad, where he died after twelve years in captivity.
With the conquest of the Deccan and the South, Aurangzeb succeeded in expanding the Mughal Empire to cover the entire sub-continent. However, after his death in 1707, the Empire rapidly declined.
At that time , the Deccan was administered by a Subedar or viceroy of the Mughal Emperor. Mir Quamaruddin, the Governor of the Deccan, who bore the title of Nizam-ul-Mulk Feroze Jung Asif Jah, declared his independence from Mughal rule in 1724. He thus became the first Nizam and the founder of the Asif Jahi dynasty.
Asif Jah I continued to maintain Aruangabad, which had been founded by the Mughal rulers as the capital of his new state. In 1769, Nizam Ali Khan Asif Jah II, shifted the capital to Hyderabad. The seven Nizam's of the Asif Jahi dynasty ruled the Deccan for nearly 224 years, right up to 1948.
When the British and the French spread their hold over the country, the Nizam soon won their friendship without bequeathing his power. The title "Faithful. Ally of the British Government" was bestowed on Nizam VII. The British stationed a Resident at Hyderabad, but the state continued to be ruled by the Nizam. The Nizam however very cleverly gave Secunderabad to the British to station themselves there. According to a science called “Vastu Shastra” or the principles of architecture and placement, Hyderabad being situated in the North would always be prosperous as opposed to Secunderabad which is situated in the South, divided by the body of water, which would not be an advantageous position to the British.
Hyderabad, under the Nizam's, was the largest princely state in India. Soon after India gained independence, Hyerabad became the capital of Andhra Pradesh.
It boasts of some fine examples of Qutab Shahi architecture - the Jami Masjid, the Mecca Masjid, Toli Masjid, and of course, the impressive symbol of Hyderabad, the Charminar. Hyderabad is the creation of the Qutab Shahi rulers. In 1589, Mohammed Quli Qutab Shah decided to shift his capital from Golconda to the banks of river Musi. Consequently, a city adorned with magnificent palaces and mosques, embodying a style of architecture that was unique to the place.
Although the old world charm of Hyderabad no longer exists as the influx of immigrants from cities and villages from all over India, the older generation of people somehow influence the younger generation by instilling in them certain “Tehzeeb” or mannerisms that used to be the hallmark of old Hyderabad.
What to see
Charminar: At the heart of the hustle-bustle of the old walled city, amidst all the congestion, is the Charminar - the massive arch built by Mohammed Quli Qutab Shah, in 1591 to propitiate the evil forces from destroying his new city with the plague. The symbol of the city, the Charminar, looming at a height of 56 m, is an impressive square gateway with four minarets. The arch is illuminated daily in the evening, an unforgettable sight indeed.
Mecca Masjid: Near the Charminar is the Mecca Masjid, one of the largest in the world, said to accomodate upto 10,000 worshippers. The foundation of the mosque was laid during the reign of Mohammed Quli Qutab Shah, in 1614, but it was completed only in 1687, when the Golconda Kingdom was annexed by Emperor Aurangzeb.
Salar Jung Museum: One of Hyderabad's prime attractions is the Salar Jung Museum, the world's largest one man collection, the 35 rooms of which house around 35,000 exhibits. These include unusual collections of jade, marble statues, rare manuscripts, Persian miniature paintings, Chinese porcelain and other objets d'art. The credit for this invaluable collection goes to Mir Yusaf Ali Khan Salar Jung the 3rd, the Prime Minister of Nizam, a great connoisseur of art.
Golconda Fort: A short distance away from the city, looms one of the most magnificent fortresses in India, the Golconda Fort. The fort dates back to the time of the Qutab Shahi kings, though its origin has been traced to earlier periods, during the reign of theYadavas, and later the Kakatiyas. The fortress is built on a granite hill 120 metres high, and is surrounded by massive crenellated ramparts, its gates studded with menacing iron spikes, intended to discourage elephants from battering them down. What is unique to this fort is its system of accoustics, whereby the sound of hands clapped at the entry gate, can be heard quite clearly at the top of the hill, at a height of 61 m.
Tombs of Qutub Shahi:
The stately tombs of the Qutab Shahi rulers lie just outside the outer wall of the Golconda fort. They lie amidst beautifully - kept gardens, and a number of them have intricately carved stonework.
Nehru Zoological Park:
Hyderabad also boasts of one of the largest zoos in India, the Nehru Zoological Park, with adjuncts like a prehistoric animal section, a toy train, and a lion safari.
23 km from Hyderabad is Himayat Sagar, a 85 sq. km lake, a popular picnic - spot. Nagarjunasagar - Nagarjunakonda, situated 149 km from the city, is the site of the excavated remains of an ancient Buddhist settlement, and the world's largest masonry dam, built across the Krishna. Located 157 km northeast of the city are the towns of Warangal - Kazipet - Hanamkonda, which boast of outstanding examples of Kakatiya architecture.
How to get there: Hyderabad is connected with the rest of the country, and with the world, through the Indian Airlines and Air India, respectively. The main railway station is at Secunderabad and Nampally. Today we have several airlines that cater to all the various budget specifications which has greatly enhanced travel in and around India greatly.
Hotels to stay :
Hotel Taj Krishna, Taj Mahal Hotel, Hotel Emerald, Asrani International, Hotel Basera, Hotel Jaya International, Hotel Deccan Continental, Hotel Dwaraka, Hotel Nagarjuna and Rajdhani Hotel Grand Kakatiya, Hotel Green Park, Banjara Hotel, Hotel Ishta and several other Boutique Hotels.
Now we come to the land also called, “God’s own country,” Kerala. When Cristopher Columbus set out to discover America, he landed up in Kerala and thought that he stepped into Paradise. Kerala with its rich scent of spices so intoxicated him that he felt that it was truly Paradise.
The state of Kerala has the highest rate of literacy in India. It had a matriarchal system, which is why you see the women of Kerala in some sort of employment or the other. Kerala’s cuisine is not only lip smacking but also considered to be for the health conscious people. This land of Ayurveda, has many body, mind and soul healing places to offer. Right from massages to teaching the martial art of Kalaripayat, Kerala is one destination that one has to keep for the last as it is best enjoyed leisurely.
The charm of Kerala lies in its unique attraction, something which is not seen or experienced anywhere else in the world. And there is not just one or two of these. You go on counting as Kerala springs surprises one after another from its treasure chest. You will get tired of witnessing Kerala's marvels, still Kerala will have more to show you.
One such unique attraction, or rather an exhilarating experience comes in the form of a trip to the Kerala Backwaters. For those who have come across the term backwaters for the first time, here's a bit of explanation as to what it actually is. Backwaters are formed when the sea water collects at the beach by the to and fro motion of waves. In Kerala, they constitute the canals, lakes, lagoons and estuaries. The entire network include five large lakes connected by 1500 km of canals. Most of them are natural, however, there are man made canals as well. These are supplied by 38 rivers that flow through the entire state.
A touch of legendary folklore is also interesting here according to which the land of Kerala sprung up as a result of the throwing of axe in the sea by the sage warrior, Parshurama. The distance covered by the axe dried up to give way to land which today is known as Kerala. So the link between Kerala's land and water is invariably strong and the water still takes care of and nourishes it unfailingly.
Significance of Backwaters - Past, Present and Future:
In earlier times, when the technology was not much advanced and when roadways were not properly developed, Kerala's backwaters served as its main highway. Passengers and goods were transported from one place to another in equal measures by means of these backwaters. However, as of today, these backwaters are mainly used by the tourism industry to introduce tourists to the hidden troves of the state. The Backwaters is inextricably linked to its past history and culture, is an important part of the present and promises to remain so in future as well.
A number of times, while you are on a trip discovering a new place, a sense of dissatisfaction dawns upon and makes you feel as if the happiness felt at knowing the place was not worth the effort put in to reach there. Not so with Kerala Backwaters. Kerala's Backwater experience will give you much more than just simple happiness. It will give you a feeling of elation - a feeling that has eluded you for a long time now. It is pristine, probably even child like where you feel like clapping with delight.
Plenty of clean water, refreshing greenery, amazing scenery around and a silence broken only by chirping of birds and waters moving below the boat - this is what you will definitely get on your Backwater trip to Kerala. Remote places that are otherwise disconnected from main areas seem to sail past like a dream. Fishing villages, tribal hamlets, people carrying on with their day to day work - scenes like this will be abundant.
The Backwaters of Kerala are also a venue for the annual boat races that take place in the different parts of the state. If you happen to visit during this season (which is around July to September), you can also witness the enthusiasm of the Backwaters as huge boats rush past each other to win the competition amidst loud cheers from the spectators.
The perfect way to explore the beauty and serenity of Kerala Backwater is to hire a boat or a canoe. For a little longer trip, houseboats, which are converted kettuvallom earlier used to carry cargo and passengers, can be hired .
Kerala Backwater Destinations :-
Start off from Alappuzha, a major Backwater Destination and the Venice of East. An intricate network of canals in Alappuzha, especially the ones that are a part of the Vembanad Lake are just the place if you wish to see some really awe inspiring beauty. Scenes enroute are a varied lot - paddy fields, coconut lagoons, secluded islands, men on country boats busy fishing and shepherding their ducks to new pastures and school children being taken across the canal. Kuttunad, the rice bowl of Kerala, is at the centre of attraction here. This is perhaps the only place where farming is done on land below sea level. You can also step out of the boat and visit the village craftsmen while they are working to make coir. Taste the traditional Keralese food in one of these places, particularly the sea food. Boats are available from the jetty itself which is close to the KSRTC Bus Stand.
Yet another Backwater destination on the banks of Vembanad Lake, the beauty of Kumarakom has inspired the likes of former Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee to state, 'Natures silent beauty provides a perfect setting here for contemplation'. Kumarakom Backwater, supposedly discovered just a decade ago, provides some splendid views of coconut groves, mangroves and paddy fields. The highpoint of your journey will be reaching the Pathiramanal Island which is around an hour's ride from the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary.
Fondly referred to as Swapnadesham by many of her faithful admirer, Kollam was once centre of cashew trade in Kerala. Today, the same industry has lost much of its zeal, nonetheless, the beauty and serenity of this little jewel of Kerala has not faded out even a wee bit. The Backwaters in the Ashtamudi Lake and its canals is still as mesmerizing as it was years back. Hire a boat and set out to explore the islands and villages that lie on way the route you have chosen to traverse.
Located in the northern part of Kerala, Kozhikode has virtually unexplored backwater regions. As such, you can expect plenty of new discovery at each step. Elathur, the Canolly Canal and the Kallai river are favourite places for boating. Also popular are the Kadulundi Bird Sanctuary and Korapuza, the venue for Korapuzha Jalotsavam.
The Queen of Arabian Sea, Kochi has one of the best natural harbours in the world. All the islands that constitute a part of Kochi are interconnected by a network of backwaters canals and lakes. Cruising through them and viewing the Chinese fishing net, particularly during sunset, will elate you beyond expression.