Where is India?
India, the very name is synonymous with mystery and allure. This vast territory has fascinated people from all over the world for centuries with its rich, varied culture and millennia-old history.
Most visitors to India visit the "Golden Triangle" consisting of the ancient cities of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. The centres of numerous empires that have ruled India through the centuries. It is home to one of the world's poignant monuments - the Taj Mahal. However venture away from the main attractions and you'll find another India opening up before you.
Explore the spiritualism of the Ganges and Varanasi and see where Buddha achieved enlightenment at the city of Bodhgaya, replete with temples from all the Buddhist countries of Asia. As for Mumbai and Calcutta you have modern cities that offer an alternative to this wealth of history. Both offer glimpses of the new India, crowded and chaotic but with a boundless energy.
Elsewhere in the country you can find some of the world's most beautiful beaches. The coastal town of Goa in the Southwest, with its palm-fringed sands is understandably famous and offers a European ambience harking back to the days of Portguese colonialism. For solitude and displays of aching beauty, the National Parks found all over the subcontinent offer the visitor countless charms. Magnificent animals roam freely; the Indian elephant, great Rhino and the rare and majestic Bengal tiger are just a few.
The rainy plateaux of Assam, the northern plains and the uplands of the Himalayas, the roof of the world, offer their own natural attractions. Lush green regions and snowy mountain peaks offer spectacular scenery. Take one of the great train journeys that cross this country and you will travel through regions of enormous diversity, connecting cities of great historical importance.
India by turns can be frustrating and frenetic but it is also endlessly fascinating, an ever-changing and invaluable wealth of experience.
What’s the weather like in India
Climatic conditions vary considerably because of the size of the country. This is largely the result of the Asiatic monsoon that has a direct impact on the temperature. The coolest and driest time of the year is from Dec-Feb. Visitors will find these months agreeable. For those with a penchant for stifling heat Mar-May are ideal. The monsoon rains in June and July provide some relief although short-lived. The humidity in the big cities in the summer months will be unbearable for most visitors.
Northern Plains: Cities like New Delhi, Varanasi, Lucknow and Patna experience an extreme range of temperatures and are typically warm from April to mid-June, falling to almost freezing at night in winter between November and February. Summers are hot with monsoons between June and September.
Central India: Madhya Pradesh state escapes the very worst of the hot season, but monsoons are heavy between July and September. Temperatures fall at night in winter.
New Delhi (Northern India)
Delhi is a city that bridges two different worlds. Old Delhi, once the capital of Islamic India, is a labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with crumbling havelis and formidable mosques. In contrast, the imperial city of New Delhi created by the British Raj is composed of spacious, tree-lined avenues and imposing government buildings. Delhi has been the seat of power for several rulers and many empires for about a millennium. Many a times the city was built, destroyed and then rebuilt here. Interestingly, a number of Delhi's rulers played a dual role, first as destroyers and then as creators.
The city's importance lies not just in its past glory as the seat of empires and magnificent monuments, but also in the rich and diverse cultures. In Delhi, you will discover that the city is sprinkled with dazzling gems: captivating ancient monuments, fascinating museums and art galleries, architectural wonders, a vivacious performing-arts scene, fabulous eating places and bustling markets.
Delhi has been the political hub of India. Every political activity in the country traces its roots here. This was true even of the mythological era. The Pandavas of the Mahabharata had their capital at Indraprastha, which is believed to have been geographically located in today's Delhi.
The Red Fort Complex was built as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad – the new capital of the fifth Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan. Named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone, it is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546, with which it forms the Red Fort Complex. The private apartments consist of a row of pavilions connected by a continuous water channel, known as the Nahr-i-Behisht (Stream of Paradise). The Red Fort is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity which, under the Shah Jahan, was brought to a new level of refinement. The planning of the palace is based on Islamic prototypes, but each pavilion reveals architectural elements typical of Mughal building, reflecting a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions The Red Fort’s innovative planning and architectural style, including the garden design, strongly influenced later buildings and gardens in Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra and further afield.
Qutub Minar is an excellent example of Afghan Architecture . Qutub Minar is a minaret that forms part of the Qutb complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Mehrauli area of Delhi, India. Made of red sandstone and marble, Qutub Minar is a 73-metre (240 feet) tall tapering tower of five storeys, with a 14.3 metre (47 feet) base diameter, reducing to 2.7 metres (9 feet) at the peak.It contains a spiral staircase of 379 steps. Its design is thought to have been based on the Minaret of Jam, in western Afghanistan. Qutb al-Din Aibak, founder of the Delhi Sultanate, started construction of the Qutub Minar's first storey around 1192. In 1220, Aibak's successor and son-in-law Iltutmish completed a further three storeys. In 1369, a lightning strike destroyed the top storey. Firoz Shah Tughlaq replaced the damaged storey, and added one more. The Minar is surrounded by several historically significant monuments of the Qutb complex, including Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, which was built at the same time as the Minar, and the much older Iron Pillar of Delhi. The nearby pillared Cupola known as "Smith's Folly" is a remnant of the tower's 19th century restoration, which included an ill-advised attempt to add a sixth storey.
The tower's style is basically Iranian, though likely patterned on Afghanistan's Minaret of Jam, and adapted to local artistic conventions by the incorporation of "looped bells and garlands and lotus borders into the carving".Numerous inscriptions in Parso-Arabic and Nagari characters in different sections of the Qutb Minar reveal the history of its construction, and the later restorations and repairs by Firoz Shah Tughluq (1351–89) and Sikandar Lodi (1489–1517). The tower has five superposed, tapering storeys. The lowest three comprise fluted cylindrical shafts or columns of pale red sandstone, separated by flanges and by storeyed balconies, carried on Muqarnas corbels. The fourth column is of marble, and is relatively plain. The fifth is of marble and sandstone. The flanges are a darker red sandstone throughout, and are engraved with Quranic texts and decorative elements. The whole tower contains a spiral staircase of 379 steps. At the foot of the tower is the Quwwat ul Islam Mosque. The minar tilts just over 65 cm from the vertical, which is considered to be within safe limits, although experts have stated that monitoring is needed in case rainwater seepage further weakens the foundation.
Humayun's tomb (Maqbara e Humayun) is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun in Delhi, India. The tomb was commissioned by Humayun's first wife and chief consort, Empress Bega Begum (also known as Haji Begum), in 1569-70, and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, a Persian architect chosen by her. It was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent, and is located in Nizamuddin East, Delhi, India, close to the Dina-panah Citadel, also known as Purana Qila (Old Fort), that Humayun founded in 1533. It was also the first structure to use red sandstone at such a scale. The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and since then has undergone extensive restoration work, which is complete. Besides the main tomb enclosure of Humayun, several smaller monuments dot the pathway leading up to it, from the main entrance in the West, including one that even pre-dates the main tomb itself, by twenty years; it is the tomb complex of Isa Khan Niyazi, an Afghan noble in Sher Shah Suri's court of the Suri dynasty, who fought against the Mughals, constructed in 1547 CE.
The complex encompasses the main tomb of the Emperor Humayun, which houses the graves of Bega Begum herself, Hamida Begum, and also Dara Shikoh, great-great-grandson of Humayun and son of the later Emperor Shah Jahan, as well as numerous other subsequent Mughals, including Emperor Jahandar Shah, Farrukhsiyar, Rafi Ul-Darjat, Rafi Ud-Daulat, Muhammad Kam Bakhsh and Alamgir II. It represented a leap in Mughal architecture, and together with its accomplished Charbagh garden, typical of Persian gardens, but never seen before in India, it set a precedent for subsequent Mughal architecture. It is seen as a clear departure from the fairly modest mausoleum of his father, the first Mughal Emperor, Babur, called Bagh-e Babur (Gardens of Babur) in Kabul (Afghanistan). Though the latter was the first Emperor to start the tradition of being buried in a paradise garden. Modelled on Gur-e Amir, the tomb of his ancestor and Asia's conqueror Timur in Samarkand, it created a precedent for future Mughal architecture of royal mausolea, which reached its zenith with the Taj Mahal, at Agra.
National Museum, New Delhi
The National Museum in New Delhi, also known as the National Museum of India, is one of the largest museums in India. Established in 1949, it holds variety of articles ranging from pre-historic era to modern works of art. It functions under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The museum is situated on the corner of Janpath and Maulana Azad Road. The blue–print of the National Museum had been prepared by the Gwyer Committee set up by the Government of India in 1946. The Museum has around 200,000 works of art, both of Indian and foreign origin, covering over 5,000 years.
It also houses the National Museum Institute of History of Arts, Conservation and Museology on the first floor which was established in 1983 and now is a Deemed University since 1989, and runs Masters and Doctoral level courses in History of Art, Conservation and Museology.
The roots of the National Museum begin with an exhibition of Indian art and artefacts at the Royal Academy in London in the winter of 1947-48. At the end of the London exhibition, the exhibition curators had decided to display the same collection intact in India before returning the artefacts to their individual museums. The Indian exhibition was shown at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in 1949, and was so successful that it led to the decision to form a permanent National Museum. On 15 August 1949, the National Museum was formally inaugurated by the then Governor-General of India, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari. At that time, it was decided that until a permanent home could be found for the collection, it would continue to be housed at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The cornerstone of the present museum building was laid by Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, on 12 May 1955, and the building formally opened to the public on 18 December 1960.
Today, the Museum is administered and funded by the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism.
At the centre of New Delhi stands the 42 m high India Gate, an "Arc-de-Triomphe" like archway in the middle of a crossroad. Almost similar to its French counterpart, it commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during the World War I. The memorial bears the names of more than 13,516 British and Indian soldiers killed in the Northwestern Frontier in the Afghan war of 1919. The foundation stone of India Gate was laid by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught in 1921 and it was designed by Edwin Lutyens. The monument was dedicated to the nation 10 years later by the then Viceroy, Lord Irwin. Another memorial, Amar Jawan Jyoti was added much later, after India got its independence. The eternal flame burns day and night under the arch to remind the nation of soldiers who laid down their lives in the Indo-Pakistan War of December 1971.
The Laxminarayan Temple (Hindi: श्री लक्ष्मीनारायण मन्दिर, also known as the Birla Mandir) is a Hindu temple up to large extent dedicated to Laxminarayan in Delhi, India. Laxminarayan usually refers to Vishnu, Preserver in the Trimurti, also known as Narayan, when he is with his consort Lakshmi. The temple, inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi, was built by Baldeo Das Birla and his sons (including Ghanshyam Das) from 1933 and 1939. The side temples are dedicated to Shiva, Krishna and Buddha.
It was the first large Hindu temple built in Delhi. The temple is spread over 7.5 acres, adorned with many shrines, fountains, and a large garden with Hindu and Nationalistic sculptures, and also houses Geeta Bhawan for discourses. The temple is one of the major attractions of Delhi and attracts thousands of devotees on the festivals of Janmashtami and Diwali.
The construction of temple dedicated to Laxmi Narayana started in 1933, built by industrialist and philanthropist, Baldeo Das Birla and his son Jugal Kishore Birla of Birla family, thus, the temple is also known as Birla Temple'. The foundation stone of the temple was laid by Maharaj Udaybhanu Singh. The temple was built under guidance of Pandit Vishwanath Shastri. The concluding ceremony and Yagna was performed by Swami Keshwa Nandji. The famous temple is accredited to have been inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1939. At that time, Mahatma Gandhi kept a condition that the temple would not be restricted to the Hindus and people from every caste would be allowed inside.
This is the first of a series of temples built by the Birlas in many cities of India, which are also often called Birla Temple.
Jama Masjid, Delhi
The Masjid-i Jahān-Numā (World-reflecting Mosque), commonly known as the Jama Masjid of Delhi, is one of the largest mosques in India.
It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan between 1644 and 1656 at a cost of 1 million rupees, and was inaugurated by an imam from Bukhara, present-day Uzbekistan. The mosque was completed in 1656 AD with three great gates, four towers and two 40 m high minarets constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble. The courtyard can accommodate more than 25,000 persons. There are three domes on the terrace which are surrounded by the two minarets. On the floor, a total of 899 black borders are marked for worshippers. The architectural plan of Badshahi Masjid, built by Shah Jahan's son Aurangzeb at Lahore, Pakistan, is similar to the Jama Masjid, Delhi.
The mosque has been the site of two attacks, one in 2006 and another in 2010. During the first, two explosions occurred in the mosque, injuring thirteen people. In the second, two Taiwanese students were injured as two gunmen opened fire upon them.
Bahai Temple (Bahai Lotus Temple)
The Lotus Temple, located in Delhi, India, is a Bahá'í House of Worship completed in 1986. Notable for its flowerlike shape, it has become a prominent attraction in the city. Like all Bahá'í Houses of Worship, the Lotus Temple is open to all, regardless of religion or any other qualification. The building is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad "petals" arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides, with nine doors opening onto a central hall with height of slightly over 40 metres and a capacity of 2,500 people. The Lotus Temple has won numerous architectural awards and been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles.A 2001 CNN report referred to it as the most visited building in the world.
The Bahá'í Faith teaches that a Bahá'í House of Worship should be a space for people of all religions to gather, reflect, and worship.Anyone may enter the Lotus Temple irrespective of religious background, sex, or other distinctions, as is the case with all Bahá'í Houses of Worship. The sacred writings of not only the Bahá'í Faith but also other religions can be read and/or chanted, regardless of language; on the other hand, reading non-scriptural texts is forbidden, as are delivering sermons or lectures and fundraising. Musical renditions of readings and prayers can be sung by choirs but no musical instruments can be played inside. There is no set pattern for worship services, and ritualistic ceremonies are not permitted.
It is the perfect place to shop in. This densely populated market has been around for more than three centuries and was once visited by merchants from Turkey, China and even Holland. You may buy curios and souvenirs from here. Dariba Kalan is known for its pearl, gold and silver jewellery and attar (natural perfumes). Gulab Singh Johri Mal, established in 1819, are well-known manufacturers and exporters of attar. A visit to Khari Baoli is a must for the spice-lover — don't forget spices are what connected India to the West. Kinari Bazaar is the best place to look for zari and zardozi trimmings and tinsel. The cloth bazaar of Katra Neel offers all kinds of fabrics such as silks, satin, crepe, cotton and muslin. Bhagirath Palace is Asia's largest market for electrical goods and also offers medical equipment and allopathic medicines. Moti Bazaar is famous for shawls and pearls and Tilak Bazaar for chemicals.
Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham complex is a Hindu mandir, and a spiritual-cultural campus in New Delhi, India. Also referred to as Akshardham Temple or Swaminarayan Akshardham, the complex displays millennia of traditional Hindu and Indian culture, spirituality, and architecture.The temple, which attracts approximately 70 percent of all tourists who visit Delhi, was officially opened on 6 November 2005 by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. It sits near the banks of the Yamuna adjacent to the 2010 Commonwealth Games village in eastern New Delhi. The temple, at the centre of the complex, was built according to the Vastu shastra and Pancharatra shastra.The complex features an Abhisheka Mandap, Sahaj Anand water show, a thematic garden and three exhibitions namely Sahajanand Darshan (Hall of Values), Neelkanth Darshan (an IMAX film on the early life of Swaminarayan as the teenage yogi, Neelkanth), and Sanskruti Darshan (cultural boat ride). According to Swaminarayan Hinduism, the word Akshardham means the abode of almighty Lord Swaminarayan and believed by followers as a temporal home of God on earth.
The main attraction of the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex is the Akshardham Mandir. It rises 141-foot (43 m) high, spans 316-foot (96 m) wide, and extends 356-foot (109 m) long. It is intricately carved with flora, fauna, dancers, musicians, and deities.Designed in accordance with the standards of Maharishi Vastu Architecture, it features a blend of architectural styles across India. It is entirely constructed from Rajasthani pink sandstone and Italian Carrara marble. Based on traditional Hindu architectural guidelines (Shilpa shastras) on maximum temple life span, it makes no use of ferrous metal. Thus, it has no support from steel or concrete.The mandir also consists of 234 ornately carved pillars, nine domes, and 20,000 murtis of sadhus, devotees, and acharyas. The mandir also features the Gajendra Pith at its base, a plinth paying tribute to the elephant for its importance in Hindu culture and India's history. It contains 148 life sized elephants in total weighing a total of 3000 tons.Under the temple's central dome lies the 11-foot (3.4m) high murti of Swaminarayan seated in abhayamudra to whom the temple is dedicated. Swaminarayan is surrounded by images of the faith's lineage of Gurus depicted either in a devotional posture or in a posture of service. Each murti is made of paanch dhaatu or five metals in accordance to Hindu tradition. The temple also houses the murtis of Sita Ram, Radha Krishna, Shiv Parvati, and Lakshmi Narayan.
Raj Ghat is a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. Originally it was the name of a historic ghat of Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad) on the banks of Yamuna river. Close to it, and east of Daryaganj was Raj Ghat Gate of the walled city, opening at Raj Ghat on Yamuna River. Later the memorial area was also called Raj ghat. It is a black marble platform that marks the spot of Mahatma Gandhi's cremation, Antyesti (Antim Sanskar) on 31 January 1948, a day after his assassination. It is left open to the sky while an eternal flame burns perpetually at one end. It is located on the banks of the river Yamuna in Delhi in India on Ring Road officially known as Mahatma Gandhi Road. A stone footpath flanked by lawns leads to the walled enclosure that houses the memorial. All guests must remove their footwear before entering the Raj Ghat walls.
Raj Ghat loosely translates to King's Bank (where King alludes to the importance of the place and Bank as in -on the bank of river Yamuna). Several other samādhis or cremation spots of other famous leaders can be found in the vicinity of Raj Ghat on the banks of the Yamuna. The landscaping and planting of these memorials was performed by Alick Percy-Lancaster, the last Englishman to hold the post of Superintendent of Horticultural Operations, Government of India.
Jawaharlal Nehru's samadhi is to the north of the Raj Ghat and is known as the Shantivan or Shanti Vana meaning the "forest of peace". Adjacent to Nehru's memorial is Ekta sthal, the site where K. R. Narayanan, tenth President of India, was cremated with full state honours in 2005.
The Raj Ghat area has a park adorned with trees planted by visiting dignitaries and heads of state.
Agra is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is 378 kilometres (235 mi) west of the state capital, Lucknow, 206 kilometres (128 mi) south of the national capital New Delhi and 125 kilometres (78 mi) north of Gwalior. Agra is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh, and the 24th most populous in India.
Agra is a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Tāj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpūr Sikrī, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Agra is included on the Golden Triangle tourist circuit, along with Delhi and Jaipur; and the Uttar Pradesh Heritage Arc, tourist circuit of UP state, along Lucknow the capital of the state and Varanasi. Agra falls within the Braj cultural region.
The city was first mentioned in the epic Mahābhārata, where it was called Agrevaṇa (derived from Sanskrit (अग्रेवण) meaning "the border of the forest").Legend ascribes the founding of the city to Agre Jat clan, Agra is named after Agre or Agr Jat.
However, the 11th century Persian poet Mas'ūd Sa'd Salmān writes of a desperate assault on the fortress of Agra, then held by the Shāhī King Jayapala, by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. It was mentioned for the first time in 1080 AD when a Ghaznavide force captured it. Sultan Sikandar Lodī (1488–1517) was the first to move his capital from Delhi to Agra in 1506. He governed the country from here and Agra assumed the importance of the second capital. He died in 1517 and his son, Ibrāhīm Lodī, remained in power there for nine more years and several palaces, wells and a mosque were built by him in the fort during his period. Finally being defeated at the Battle of Panipat in 1526. Between 1540 and 1556, Afghans, beginning with Sher Shah Suri ruled the area. It achieved fame as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1658.
The Taj Mahal (meaning Crown of the Palace) is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–1658), to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The tomb is the centrepiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.
Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (US$827 million). The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.
The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". Described by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore as "the tear-drop on the cheek of time", it is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India's rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7–8 million visitors a year. In 2007, it was declared a winner of the New7Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative.
The Taj Mahal was commissioned by Shah Jahan in 1631, to be built in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian princess who died giving birth to their 14th child, Gauhara Begum. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632. The imperial court documenting Shah Jahan's grief after the death of Mumtaz Mahal illustrate the love story held as the inspiration for Taj Mahal. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1643 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished about five years later.
Agra Fort is a historical fort in the city of Agra in India. It was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty till 1638, when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi. The Agra fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site. After the First Battle of Panipat in 1526, the victorious Babur stayed in the fort, in the palace of Ibrahim Lodi. He later built a baoli (step well) in it. His successor, Humayun, was crowned in the fort in 1530. He was defeated at Bilgram in 1540 by Sher Shah Suri. The fort remained with the Suris till 1555, when Humayun recaptured it. Adil Shah Suri's general, Hemu, recaptured Agra in 1556 and pursued its fleeing governor to Delhi where he met the Mughals in the Battle of Tughlaqabad.Sheesh Mahal, Agra Fort:The effect produced by lighting candles in Sheesh Mahal, Agra Fort.Realising the importance of its central situation, Akbar made it his capital and arrived in Agra in 1558. His historian, Abul Fazl, recorded that this was a brick fort known as 'Badalgarh'. It was in a ruined condition and Akbar had it rebuilt with red sandstone from Barauli area in Rajasthan. Architects laid the foundation and it was built with bricks in the inner core with sandstone on external surfaces. Some 4,000 builders worked on it daily for eight years, completing it in 1573.It was only during the reign of Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan, that the site took on its current state. Shah Jahan built the beautiful Taj Mahal in the memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Unlike his grandfather, Shah Jahan tended to have buildings made from white marble. He destroyed some of the earlier buildings inside the fort to make his own.At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was deposed and restrained by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort. It is rumoured that Shah Jahan died in Muasamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony with a view of the Taj Mahal.The fort was invaded and captured by the Maratha Empire in the early 18th century. Thereafter, it changed hands between the Marathas and their foes many times. After their catastrophic defeat at Third Battle of Panipat by Ahmad Shah Abdali in 1761, Marathas remained out of the region for the next decade. Finally Mahadji Shinde took the fort in 1785. It was lost by the Marathas to the British during the Second Anglo-Maratha War, in 1803.The fort was the site of a battle during the Indian rebellion of 1857, which caused the end of the British East India Company's rule in India, and led to a century of direct rule of India by Britain.
Akbar's tomb is the tomb of the Mughal emperor, Akbar and an important Mughal architectural masterpiece. It was built in 1605–1613 and is situated in 119 acres of grounds in Sikandra, a suburb of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.The tomb of akbar was built by his son prince Salim also called Jahangir. Akbar planned the tomb and selected a suitable site for it. After his death, Akbar's son Jahangir completed the construction in 1605–1613.
Akbar was one of the greatest emperors in the history of India. However, during the reign of His great-grandson, Aurangzeb, the rebellious Jats under the leadership of Raja Ram Jat, ransacked the intricate tomb, plundered and looted all the beautiful gold, jewels, silver and carpets, whilst destroying other things. He even, in order to avenge his father Gokula's death, plundered Akbar's tomb, looted it and dragged Akbar's bones and burned them in retaliation. He was later sentenced to death by Aurangzeb.
The Tomb has suffered a lot, until extensive repair was carried out by the British under Lord Curzon. The neighbouring Taj Mahal was also looted, and two of Agra's gates were taken away.
It is located at Sikandra, in the suburbs of Agra, on the Mathura road (NH2), 8 km west-northwest of the city center. About 1 km away from the tomb, lies Mariam's Tomb, the tomb of Mariam-uz-Zamani, wife of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and the mother of Jahangir.
Fatehpur Sikri is a town in the Agra District of Uttar Pradesh, India. The city was founded in 1569 by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, and served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585, when it was abandoned. After his military victories over Chittor and Ranthambore, Akbar decided to shift his capital from Agra to a new location 23 miles (37 km) west south-west, to honour the Sufi saint Salim Chishti. Here, he commenced the construction of a planned walled city, which took the next fifteen years in planning and construction, with a series of royal palaces, harem, courts, a mosque, private quarters and other utility buildings. He named the city Fatehabad, with Fateh, a word of Arabic origin in Persian, meaning "victorious." It was later called Fatehpur Sikri. It is at Fatehpur Sikri that the legends of Akbar and his famed courtiers, the nine jewels or Navaratnas, were born. Fatehpur Sikri is one of the best preserved examples of Mughal architecture in India. According to contemporary historians, Akbar took a great interest in the building of Fatehpur Sikri and probably also dictated its architectural style. Seeking to revive the splendours of Persian court ceremony made famous by his ancestor Timur, Akbar planned the complex on Persian principles. But the influences of his adopted land came through in the typically Indian embellishments. The easy availability of sandstone in the neighbouring areas of Fatehpur Sikri also meant that all the buildings here were made of the red stone. The Imperial Palace complex consists of a number of independent pavilions arranged in formal geometry on a piece of level ground, a pattern derived from Arab and central Asian tent encampments. In its entirety, the monuments at Fatehpur Sikri thus reflect the genius of Akbar in assimilating diverse regional architectural influences within a holistic style that was uniquely his own.The Imperial complex was abandoned in 1585, shortly after its completion, due to the exhaustion of the small, spring-fed lake that supplied the city with water, and its proximity with the Rajputana, with which the Mughal Empire was often at war. Thus the capital was shifted to Lahore so that Akbar could have a base in the less stable part of the empire, before moving back to Agra in 1598, where he had begun his reign as he shifted his focus to Deccan. In fact, he never returned to the city except for a brief period in 1601. In later Mughal history it was occupied for a short while by the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah (r. 1719 -1748) and his regent, Sayyid Hussain Ali Khan Barha, one of the Syed Brothers, was murdered here in 1720. The palaces were occupied by the Marathas after their conquest of Delhi, then transferred to the British army, which used the fortified complex as a headquarters and barracks. Restoration began under Lord Curzon.
Because the palace area has been in nearly continuous use over the centuries, much of the imperial complex which spread over nearly two mile long and one mile wide area is largely intact. It is still surrounded by a five mile long wall built during its original construction on three sides. However, apart from the imperial buildings complex and the magnificent mosque which continues in use, little of the city survives. The former site of the city is mostly barren, except of ruins of the bazaars of the old city near the Naubat Khana, the 'drum-house' entrance at Agra Road. The modern town lies at the western end of the complex, which was a municipality from 1865 to 1904, and later made a notified area and in 1901 had a population of 7,147. For a long time it was still known for its masons and stone carvers, though in Akbar time it was known and 'fabrics of hair' and 'silk-spinning'. The village of Sikri still exists nearby.
Basing his arguments on the excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1999-2000 at the Chabeli Tila, senior Agra journalist Bhanu Pratap Singh said the antique pieces, statues, and structures all point to a lost "culture and religious site," more than 1,000 years ago. "The excavations yielded a rich crop of Jain statues, hundreds of them, including the foundation stone of a temple with the date. The statues were a thousand years old of Bhagwan Adi Nath, Bhagwan Rishabh Nath, Bhagwan Mahavir and Jain Yakshinis," said Swarup Chandra Jain, senior leader of the Jain community.A 400 sq-m mound was opened near the village of Nagari, some half a kilometre from the ramparts of the 16th century fort, a sandstone chamber was found, filled with decapitated and broken idols of Jain Tirtankaras.
Located near the Red Fort and Lajpat Rai Market, Chor Bazaar literally means "Thieves' Market". From electronic items to designer clothes, you can find everything here. Prices are enticingly low but the life of the product can't be guaranteed. You have to depend on verbal assurances and on your own judgement.
Often called the Little Tibet in Delhi, this colony was originally set up to house a few Tibetan refugees. Decades later, not only has the little colony market grown in size but its name and fame have also spread far and wide. It is popularly known as the Monastery Market.
A nondescript gate under the arch of the ISBT Shahdara Link Flyover on the Ring Road leads one to a suprisingly large market, chock-a-block with stalls selling statues, incense, shawls, paintings and Tibetan artefacts, including jewellery and semi-precious stones. Shops selling clothes and accessories are a huge hit among the young crowd of Delhi. Also popular are the shops selling footwear and other leather products. Most products are stylish and good value-for-money.
This is also a good place to sample some original Tibetan home food. Restaurants like Zomsa and Shakura serve Tibetan delicacies including thukpa. Momos and mouth-watering chow mein are also available in this market. This market is closed on Mondays.
Varanasi,or Benaras, (also known as Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi`s Prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrevealed. Mark Twain, the English author and literature, who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Benaras, once wrote : "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together". According to the ‘Vamana Purana’, the Varuna and the Assi rivers originated from the body of the primordial Person at the beginning of time itself. The tract of land lying between them is believed to be ‘Varanasi’, the holiest of all pilgrimages. The word ‘Kashi’ originated from the word ‘Kas’ which means to shine. Steeped in tradition and mythological legacy, Kashi is the ‘original ground ‘ created by Shiva and Parvati, upon which they stood at the beginning of time. Varanasi is the microcosm of Hinduism, a city of traditional classical culture, glorified by myth and legend and sanctified by religion, it has always attracted a large number of pilgrims and worshippers from time immemorial. To be in Varanasi is an experience in itself an experience in self–discover an eternal oneness of the body and soul. To every visitor; Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience. The rays of the dawn shimmering across the Ganges, the high-banks, the temples and shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue soul stirring hymns and mantras alongwith the fragrance of incense filling the air and the refreshing dip in the holy waters gently splashing at the Ghats. Varanasi – the land where experience and discovery reach the ultimate bliss. Varanasi is also renowned for its rich tapestry of music, arts, crafts and education. Some of the world renowned exponents India has produced in these fields were schooled in Varanasi’s cultural ethos. Luminaries apart, Varanasi abounds in the art of silk weaving, an exotic work of art which manifests itself in precious Banarasi Silk Sarees and Silk brocades which are cherished as collector’s items across the world today.
The Ganges,also Ganga ,is a trans-boundary river of Asia which flows through India and Bangladesh. The 2,525 km (1,569 mi) river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. It is the third largest river by discharge.
The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus.It is also a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs.It is worshipped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism.It has also been important historically, with many former provincial or imperial capitals (such as Pataliputra,Kannauj,Kara, Kashi, Allahabad,Murshidabad,Munger,Baharampur,Kampilya, and Kolkata) located on its banks.
The Golden Temple
The Golden Temple Amritsar India (Sri Harimandir Sahib Amritsar) is not only a central religious place of the Sikhs, but also a symbol of human brotherhood and equality. Everybody, irrespective of cast, creed or race can seek spiritual solace and religious fulfilment without any hindrance. It also represents the distinct identity, glory and heritage of the Sikhs. To pen-down the philosophy, ideology, the inner and outer beauty, as well as the historical legacy of Sri Harimandir Sahib is a momentous task. It is a matter of experience rather than a lot of description.
Sarnath is a city located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganges and the Gomati rivers in Uttar Pradesh, India. The deer park in Sarnath is where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Singhpur, a village approximately one km away from the site, was the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism, and a temple dedicated to him, is an important pilgrimage site.
The Dhamek Stupa is said to mark the spot of a deer park (Rishipattana) where the Buddha gave the first sermon to his five disciples after attaining enlightenment,"revealing his Eightfold Path leading to nirvana".The stupa was enlarged on six occasions but the upper part is still unfinished. While visiting Sarnath in 640 CE, Xuanzang recorded that the colony had over 1,500 priests and the main stupa was nearly 300 feet (91 m) high.
Jaipur (The Pink city)
Jaipur, the largest city of Rajasthan is an epitome of magnificence and vibrancy. This city was established in 1727 by Jai Singh II, and is India's first planned city. Jaipur was the capital of former Kachwaha rulers and it so presents itself as a versatile tourist destination. This royal place is rich in heritage, culture and architecture. With splendid fortresses, majestic palaces, tranquil temples and beautiful havelis; Jaipur turns out to be an ideal tourist destination. It is not just the royal buildings and palaces that this city offers. Other than these captivating attractions, Jaipur displays exquisite handicrafts and spectacular jewelry. These intricate works of art add life and color to this Pink City's uniqueness. Also, the serenity of lush gardens and floral array acts as the cherry on the cake of fabulous landscapes. All this make a picturesque view that tends to enthral any visitor.
The Amer Fort
The Amer Fort, situated in Amber, 11 kilometers from Jaipur, is one of the most famous forts of Rajasthan. Amer, originally, was the capital of the state before Jaipur. It is an old fort, built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh. This fort is also very popularly known as the Amer Palace. The Amer Fort was built in red sandstone and marble and the Maotha Lake adds a certain charm to the entire Fort. Though the fort is quite old and may even look so from the outside, it is beautiful on the inside and boasts of various buildings of prominence like the 'Diwan-i-Aam', the 'Sheesh Mahal' and even the 'Sukh Mahal'. The Amer Fort has influences of both Hindu and Muslim architecture. This fort also has the 'Shila Devi' Temple and the 'Ganesh Pol' which is a gate that leads to the private palaces of the kings. The Amer Fort has many pavilions and halls of great interest and other popular attractions.
Jantar Mantar of Jaipur in Rajasthan is the biggest stone observatory in the world, which is still in a running condition and stands witness to the wisdom of the former age. Jantar Mantar of Jaipur in Rajasthan is one of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur of Rajasthan and is located close to the gate of the famous City Palace of Jaipur of Rajasthan. The Jantar Mantar at Jaipur of Rajasthan was conceived as a quest for discovering the mysteries of the Cosmos. It was built not only to verify astronomical observations made at Jaipur of Rajasthan, but also to stimulate interest in astronomy, which had become enmeshed in theory, superstition and religious jargon. During the period between 1727 and 1733, Jantar Mantar of Rajasthan took its form and structure.
Located in the heart of the Pink City Jaipur, the City Palace was where the Maharaja reigned from. This palace also includes the famous 'Chandra Mahal' and 'Mubarak Mahal', and other buildings which form a part of the palace complex. The palace is located towards the northeast side of central Jaipur and has many courtyards and buildings. The palace was built between 1729 and 1732 AD by Sawai Jai Singh II. He ruled in Amer and planned and built the outer walls of the palace and later rulers added to the architecture of this palace. These additions have been known to take place right up to the 20th century. The urban layout of the city of Jaipur was commissioned to Vidyadhar Bhattacharya and Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob. The architectural styles are largely based on a fusion of Rajput, Mughal and European styles. Today, the 'Chandra Mahal' has been turned into a museum which is home to unique handcrafted products, various uniforms of the rulers and many more things pertaining to the royal heritage of the City Palace.
The renowned 'Palace Of The Winds', or Hawa Mahal, is one of the prominent tourist attractions in Jaipur city. Located in the heart of Jaipur, this beautiful five-storey palace was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh who belonged to Kachhwaha Rajput dynasty. The main architect of this palace built of red and pink sandstone, is Lal Chand Ustad and the palace is believed to have been constructed in the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. Considered as an embodiment of Rajputana architecture, the main highlight of Hawa Mahal is its pyramid shape and its 953 windows or 'Jharokhas' which are decorated with intricate designs. The main intention behind the construction of the Mahal was to facilitate the royal women and provide them a view of everyday life through the windows, as they never appeared in public. Read further to know more about Hawa Mahal, its history, architecture and its visiting hours.
The Elephant Festival
The Elephant Festival is an annual festival which is held every year in the Pink City, Jaipur. This matchless event is organised on the full moon day of Phalgun Purnima which falls in the month of February/March. It is celebrated on the day before the festivals of colours i.e. Holi. From the ancient times, elephants have always been an important part of the Indian society. The Elephant-headed God, Ganesha, believed to be the remover of obstacles and foremost to all the gods, is revered and devotedly worshipped in all the parts of India. They are also one of the most important parts of religious events, marriage ceremonies, processions, etc. and in the historic time, they were a significant part of the battlefield.
Jaisalmer City (The Golden city)
Jaisalmer nicknamed "The Golden city", is a city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is located 575 kilometres (357 mi) west of the state capital Jaipur. It is a World Heritage Site. It was once known as Jaisalmer state. The town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort, which contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples. Many of the houses and temples are finely sculptured. It lies in the heart of the Thar Desert (great Indian desert) and has a population of about 78,000. It is the administrative headquarters of Jaisalmer District.
Desert Festival Jaisalmer
Desert Festival of Jaisalmer is a colorful festival held in February every year. You will get to see Cultural events, camel races, turban tying competitions etc. Not exciting enough! Attend the contests to judge the man with the best moustache. Everything is exotic in the Desert festival, amidst the golden sands of the Thar Desert. With a final musical performance by folk singers under the moonlit sky at the dunes in Sam, just outside Jaisalmer, the festival comes to its end. The rich culture of the region is on display during this three daylong extravaganza.
The desert festival in Jaisalmer was started to attract foreign tourists, who always wanted to explore as many facets of Rajasthan as they could in the possible crunch of time. The three-day event stresses more on local elements and heritage. For example, this no-nonsense festival will only showcase Rajasthani folk songs and dance. These are presented by some of the best professionals of the art. Similarly, local customs such as Turban tying etc have been added to make it more exotic and colorful in its outlook. 'The moustache competition' is very popular among foreigners. This is simply because of the surprise value attached to this event. Foreigners can be seen posing for pictures with the winners. This is truly a moment worth preserving.
Goa, situated on the west coast of India, is one of the most delightful states in India. Formerly a Portuguese colony, it is endowed with variety of attractions, like palm pronged beaches, miles of golden sands, lush green country-side, an incredible mosaic of cultural heritage, magnificent churches, temples, forts and monuments and a unique cultural synthesis of the east and west.
With its tropical climate, Goa is a tourist’s destination for all seasons. Goa’s cities are impressively individual. The capital, Panjim (Panaji), for many, hast the edge over many cities in the country.Replete with colonial architecture, the city is known for its vibrancy that attains its pinnacle in the annual Goa Carnival festival.
Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park is the largest national park of Madhya Pradesh state in India. It is home to one of the tiger reserves of India.
In the 1930s, the present-day Kanha area was divided into two sanctuaries, Hallon and Banjar, of 250 and 300 km² respectively. Kanha National Park was created on 1 June 1955. Today it stretches over an area of 940 km² in the two districts Mandla and Balaghat. Together with a surrounding buffer zone of 1,067 km² and the neighboring 110 km² Phen Sanctuary it forms the Kanha Tiger Reserve. This makes it the largest National Park in Central India.Kanha National Park was ranked in the top 10 Famous Places for Tourists.
Mumbai, earlier known as Bombay, is the capital of Maharashtra and the largest city of India. Mumbai initially was the accumulation of seven islands on the Konkan coastline, which with the passage of time joined to form island city of Bombay. It further joined Salsette islands in the neighbourhood to form Greater Bombay. Bombay got its name from Bom Bahia, meaning "Beautiful Bay", given by a Portuguese. This was later popularised as Bombay state by the British. Current name of Bombay is Mumbai. More so, many say that Mumbai happens to be its original name, which is derived from "Mumba", a local Hindu Goddess "Mumbadevi", and "Aai", means "mother" in Marathi. However, its name was on the records changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1995.
Mumbai undeniably is the business capital of India and one of the major port cities in the country. Mumbai has a diverse nature and multi-cultural lifestyle. On one hand, this city is the hometown of Bollywood, and on the other, this city has India's largest slum population. With the huge inflow of migrants, this city welcomes all with open arms. The city developed its identity from these communities that are settled in here. The culture here is a fine amalgamation of festivities, religions, music, food, music and theatres. Mumbai is said to have most active nightlife in comparison to other cities.
The Gateway of India
The Gateway of India is one of India's most unique landmarks situated in the city of Mumbai. The colossal structure was constructed in 1924. Located at the tip of Apollo Bunder, the gateway overlooks the Mumbai harbor, bordered by the Arabian Sea in the Colaba district. The Gateway of India is a monument that marks India's chief ports and is a major tourist attraction for visitors who arrive in India for the first time. At one point of time, this monument represented the grandeur of the British Raj in India. The total construction cost of this monument was approximately 21 lakhs and the whole expense was borne by the Indian government. A favourite spot for tourists, nowadays, this monument attracts vendors, food stalls and photographers. The passing of the 'First Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry' was recorded as the first main event that took place at the Gateway of India. This ceremony was conducted on February 28, 1948, when the last set of British troops and divisions left India, post-independence.
A Jain temple is the place of worship for Jains, the followers of Jainism,Derasar is a word used for a Jain temple in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Basadi is a Jain shrine or temple.The word is generally used in South India, including Maharashtra. Its historical use in North is preserved in the names of the Vimala Vasahi and Luna Vasahi temples of Mount Abu. The Sanskrit word is vasati, it implies an institution including residences of scholars attached to the shrine.
In other parts of India, the term Jain mandir is used for all Jain temples.
The Prince of Wales Museum
The Prince of Wales Museum, now commonly known as 'Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya', was established during the early 20th century. This museum is considered as a heritage structure in Mumbai because of its admirable architecture. The Prince of Wales Museum is one of the most significant museums in India. The museum showcases several collections of ancient artworks, sculptures and artifacts in its galleries. After the inception of the renovation project in 2008, many new galleries were opened, which contained artworks of Hindu God Krishna, textiles and Indian traditional costumes. Regular exhibitions and lectures on several topics are also held inside the museum. The Prince of Wales Museum was originally a building that was used as a military hospital for the Children's Welfare Exhibitions. Tourists from the world all over, make it a point to visit this magnificent heritage building and to explore the various ancient artifacts preserved within this museum.
Mumbai Film city is an integrated film studio located near Sanjay Gandhi National Park in the vicinity of Aarey Colony in Goregaon, Mumbai. Home to real-like gardens, mountains, lakes, homes, cities and villages, it is the favourite venue for Bollywood film shootings. The Film City was constructed by the Maharashtra state government to facilitate the growth of the film industry. Regarded as the dream project of the renowned Indian producer, director and screen writer, Dadasaheb Phalke, almost 1000 sets can be put simultaneous in this Film City. This studio, which is spread across 520 acres, is also considered as synonymous with Bollywood. Though it is open to the public, one should take prior permission to visit Film City. To visitors, it is an absolute dream world, where everything is just beautiful and perfect and is impossible to differentiate the 'real' and 'fake'. Read further to know more about Film City and its prominent attractions.
Tomb of Akbar the Great
The Tomb of Akbar the Great is an important Mughal architectural masterpiece, built 1605–1613, located in Sikandra, a suburb of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.
This red sandstone mausoleum of Akbar stands among a lush garden, enclosed between the high walls that demarcates the region from its surroundings. The structure of the tomb is carefully placed in the middle of the enclosure. Surrounding the mausoleum are four gates, each strategically placed in the center of the walls, at the four ends of the premise. Of all the four gates, three of them are false gates as they were added only to bring symmetry to the entire architectural form. The southern gate acts as the main entrance to the tomb, which is designed with intricate ornamental carvings and have four minarets at each corner of the building.
Chand Baori is a stepwell situated in the village of Abhaneri near Jaipur in the Indian state of Rajasthan.
Abhaneri is a village in the Dausa district of Rajasthan state in India. It is located at a distance of 95 km from Jaipur, on the Jaipur-Agra road.
Abhaneri was originally named Abha Nagri, which means "city of brightness," but due to mispronunciation, the name was changed. The city is now in ruins, but it attracts tourists from all over the world. It is placed opposite Harshat Mata Temple and was built in AD 800. Chand Baori consists of 3,500 narrow steps over 13 stories. It extends approximately 30 m (100 ft) into the ground making it one of the deepest and largest stepwells in India.