|City In India
Just like the states, the cities in India also comprise of the outstanding distinction of variance. Even after adopting the western culture, the metropolitan cities haven′t lost their cultural heritage. Every city in India has got a new outlook towards life and that is what makes all of them unique.
Bustling metropolises reflect the past, successfully co-existing with the present. Plundered by numerous dynasties, the cities are rich in architectural splendor of their monuments. Exploring these cities can be a fascinating and rewarding experience as there is so much to see. If one city′s ambience is still associated with its memorable Mughal period then the other is known as the religious capital of Hinduism since times immemorial.
The old cities, with their inherent romance, beauty and remarkable past, replete with episodes of heroism and splendour, still facinate the visitors. Their unique exquisiteness appeals to the imagination of both the traveller and writer. Filled with all the cultural, religious and literary flavours, every Indian city symbolizes creativity and vibrance in its each and every aspect.
Delhi is the symbol of old and new India, it′s capital and the major gateway to all the parts of India. The hub of the metropolis is Central New Delhi, an alignment of wide roads lined with sturdy colonial buildings, which were established in the British era. The Old Delhi previously known as Shahjahanabad was the 17th century capital of Shah Jahan and at present the most quintessentially Indian part of Delhi.
A must visit are the bazaars of Chandni Chowk, a warren clustered houses, buzzing with commotion and infused with aromatic smells drifting from open-fronted restaurants, spice shops and temples. As a national capital, Delhi provides plenty of opportunities to learn about the rest of the country and an admirable range of political, historical and art museums. It′s also a shopper′s paradise as the shops over here trade in goods from every corner of India and the variety ranges from Tibetan carpets, antiques, and jewelry to modern art and designer clothes.
Delhi is both daunting and alluring, a sprawling cosmopolitan city with a stunning backdrop of ancient architecture. Monuments in sandstone and marble make Delhi a veritable museum of Indo-Islamic architecture. Lal Quila or Red Fort contains within it palaces and impressive buildings, such as Diwan-i-Khas, Rang Mahal, Pearl Mosque made of white marble, the fort′s main gate called Lahore Gate. Earlier the seat of Moghuls, Purana Qila is believed to be on the site of Indraprastha of the Mahabharata period and was built by Sher Shah.
Humayun′s Tomb is a sandstone forerunner of the Taj Mahal built by Humayun′s widow. An architectural extravaganza of Shah Jahan, Jama Masjid is one of the largest mosques with a handsome structure that is still used as a house of worship by the Muslims. India Gate is a memorial made in the center of the city in honor of the soldiers who laid down their lives during the Afghan war and the World Wars. Rashtrapati Bhavan is the residence of the President of India and Parliament House is a circular-shaped building, a symbol of Indian democracy.
Raj Ghat is a site of the cremations of three of modern India′s most revered figures, Mahatama Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Cannaught Place is a premier shopping centre in Delhi, where neon advertisements of soft drinks, hotels and countless airline offices adorn the flat roofs and corridor verandahs of high white buildings. Qutub Minar is an 11th century victory tower that rises to height of 73 meters. Lodhi Gardens is a beautifully landscaped park enclosing in it the tombs of the imperial dynasty. Lotus Temple also known as Baha′i Temple is an exquisitely carved marble building in the form of a blossoming lotus, surrounded with acres of plushy gardens.
Enclosing one of the eight wonders of the world and the symbol of love, Taj Mahal, the splendor of Agra, which was known as the capital of all India under the Moghuls remains undiminished. Most of Agra is situated on the west bank of RiverYamuna, with the fort as its center. The old town of Agra is a sprawling web of alleys, bazaars, mosques and cramped houses.
Taj Mahal is undoubtedly the zenith of Mughal architecture and one of the world's most marvelous monuments. The chief beauty of the Taj, is a mausoleum that lies in its luminous and majestic dome, which is in fact a double dome. At its base on the outside are four chattris or kiosks, which provide the balance for its extraordinary height. Emperor Shah Jahan built this monument in the memory of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal, when she died while giving birth to their fourteenth child.
Agra is an ideal place to shop as there are plenty of shopping areas and malls where one can buy marble table tops, vases and trays, inlaid with semi-precious stones in ornate floral designs imitated from those found in the Taj. It has also got an excellent collection of Leather items such as export bags, briefcases and jackets. The tradition continues to thrive in carpets and dhurries as well as in garments with more delicate overlay techniques of chikan, zari and zardosi.
The sightseeing places in Agra consists of Itmad-Ud-Daulah'sTomb, the mausoleum of Ghias-Ud-Din-Beg , father of Noor Jehan. It was from here that "pietra daura" work or marble inlay work was first incorporated. Jawab Masjid is located inside Taj Mahal, a mosque made of red stone captures a very aesthetic appeal. Chini-Ka-Rauza, is a tomb of glazed tiles on the building façade, constructed by Afzal Khan, an official at Shah Jahan's court, showcases Persian influence in architecture.
Shah Jahan built Jami Masjid in the year 1648, whose main gate has got the written inscription built by Jahanara Begum, in the memory of Sheikh Salim Chisiti and his grandson Islam Khan. Established across Yamuna, Sikandra houses the tomb of Akbar. An interesting feature of this tomb is that one cannot see all four minarets from one point as one of them is always behind the tomb. Earlier known as Arambagh, Rambagh is one of the earliest monuments in India. Built by Emperor Babar in 1526 for his recreation, its architecture shows Afghani influences.
Fateh Pur Sikri is one of the main excursions, straddles along the crest of a rocky ridge, 37km southwest of Agra. Built by Emperor Akbar between the year1569 and 1585, it is almost a perfectly preserved masterpiece in sandstone, changing shades of pink and red as the sun sets. Towering walls on three sides surround the rectangular shaped city, accessible through nine gates, and an artificial lake is located on the west.
“Paint the town red”, one look at the city of Jaipur and one will surely believe in the reality of the phrase. A flamboyant showcase of Rajasthani architecture, this capital city of Rajasthan is also a part of the famous “Golden Triangle”. The old part of Jaipur comprises of the Pink city, where most of the buildings are painted in rose pink color. The urbane part of the capital city has got palaces of exuberant 18th and 19th century. These salmon colored facades of the city's ornately decorated vernacular buildings form an exotic backdrop for the swirl of typically Rajasthani street life.
Jaipur was and remains the only city in the world, symbolizing the nine divisions of the universe, through nine rectangular sectors sub-dividing it. The city also offers a vast storehouse of traditional crafts such as aesthetic enamel-on-gold jewelry, studded with precious stones or pearls & turquoise that one sees in miniature paintings. The bazaars of Jaipur are renowned all over Asia for hand-dyed and embroidered textiles, ornaments and are also well equipped with the finest selection of precious stones and metals in India.
Sightseeing in Jaipur is mandatory, for the capital is brimming with exotic palaces, lush garden pavilions and museums. Jaipur's signature building is “the Palace of Winds” or Hawa Mahal, a five storey façade with a profusion of 593 windows and snow-screens. The magnificent City Palace also known to the public as the Sawai Man Singh Museum stands enclosed by a high wall in the center of the city amid fine gardens and courtyards.
Amber Palace is a grand fort with huge ramparts and watchtowers, overlooking the Delhi-Jaipur highway. Jantar Mantar is a stone observatory built within incredible brick curves, slantes, circles and pillars. A former hunting lodge, Jal Mahal is the only lake palace of Jaipur. Built on a peak, JaiGarh overlooks the palace and city of Amber below.
A handful of Museums, temples and cenotaphs are also scattered around Jaipur's less congested suburbs, offers a breath of fresh air from the chaotic environment of the Pink City. Housed in grand British building the Albert Hall Museum has got a collection of miniature paintings, rocks, clothes and ornamental wooden boxes. In the south of the city lie 36 acres of lush green gardens named Ram Niwas Public Gardens after the planner, Ram Singh, who ruled Jaipur from 1835-80.
Gaitor is a walled complex containing the stately marble chhatris of Jaipur's ruling family. Nestling in a steep-sided valley, Galta is a picturesque collection of 250-year-old temples grouped around a sacred water tank. Nawalgarh or “Tiger Fort” was built by Jai Singh II in 1734 as a retreat for his wives and its unique regular and repetitive design, stands in contrast to the other royal dwellings in Jaipur.
The "blue city" of Jodhpur got this name from the color wash of its town houses, sprawling across the arid terrain, watched by a mighty walled fort that emerges from a rocky outcrop. One of the three major cities counted in the "Desert Tourist Triangle", this majestic city was once the center of Marwar, the largest princely state in Rajputana.
A resplendent city, Jodhpur has got a blend of both modern and traditional buildings. The expert talent that brings out life in sculptures carved on the walls of its palaces, forts, temples and havelis stand as testimony to the imperial grandeur of Jodhpur. The most attractive feature of this city is its traditional lifestyle, festivity and the people who have beautifully preserved their ethnicity within them.
The bazaars of the city are gathered around the tall Clock Tower where local items such as tie-dye, puppets, carpets, embroidered leather shoes, antiques and lacquered jewelry are easily available. One can also purchase exquisite Rajasthani textiles, clay figurines, miniature camels and elephants, marble inlay work and classic silver jewelry. The Sardar Market has kept the alive the old haat bazaar culture.
Jodhpur's Mehergarh Fort provides what must be the most authentic surviving taste of the ceaseless round of war, honor and extravagance that was characterized as Rajputana. There are palaces housed within this daunting structure among which are Moti Mahal and Phool Mahal. Jaswant Thada is a 19th century pillared marble memorial to the popular ruler Jaswant Singh II. Umaid Bhavan Palace, built in 20th century is also known as "Chhittar Palace" because of the particular type of sandstone used to built it, which does not decay in the rains.
Mahamandir is supported by 84 pillars and houses exquisite wall paintings. Once known as the capital of ancient Marwar, Mandor now hosts the cenotaphs built in the memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh and Maharaja Ajit Singh. The 16 figurines over here are carved out of a single rock and the beautifully laid out gardens around these cenotaphs give a feeling of oasis in the desert. Government Palace has a wide collection of weapons, textiles, miniature, portraits, local crafts and images of Jain Tirthankars. The museum is situated in the middle of Umaid public gardens.
Other excursions in Jodhpur include the ruins of an ancient city called Ossian. This city is famous for its Brahmanical and Jain temples, which belong to the 8th and 11th century. Balsamand Lake & Palace is a picturesque artificial lake, 7 Kms away from the main city. Summer palaces along the embankment and a bird sanctuary have made it a picnic spot. Khimsar is where Aurangzeb is reported to have stayed when he ordered his armies to invade Jodhpur. The main attraction of this historic city includes the Jodhpur Castle, the home of the Thakur of Khimsar, now a part of the Welcomegroup hotel.
Situated in the heart of the Thar Desert, is a desert town par excellence. The enchanting forts, temples, other royal residences and settlements retain its medieval character and comprise the town's multifaceted attractions. Despite the harsh climatic conditions, Jaisalmer is known as the "Museum City" and an ideal place for Camel Safaris.
Villagers from outlying settlements, dressed in dazzling red and orange odinis or voluminous turbans present the multihued lifestyle of the city, while the town's exquisite sandstone architecture is quite unlike anything else in India. The most memorable experience is at the time the sun sets, when the palace, domed pavilions and delicately sculpted temple towers of the citadel are suffused with honey-colored light, Jaisalmer transcends into a "Golden City".
Jaisalmer is the best palace if you are shopping for souvenirs. Among the good buys there are woven jackets, tie-dyed cloth, wooden boxes and ornaments, camel leather slippers and western-style clothes. Every conceivable kind of traditional Rajasthani textile is sold at the shops in and around the fort. At Barmer Embroidery House one can purchase from standard Jaipuri block-printed bedspreads and mirror-work or applique cushion covers to rare door hangings, ornately embroidered cradle covers, sari blouses, Lamani chillum pouches, and silk mashru skirts.
The interesting places to visit in this city includes Jaisalmer Fort, which is made of s oft yellow Jurassic sandstone, from its outer walls to the palace and houses within. Several entrances of the fort called 'prols' guard the Megh Darbar and Jawahar Mahal, which bear the imperial symbols of the Bhatti clan's lunar lineage. Gadsisar Lake is a rainwater lake, an ideal spot for picnic and boating. The delicate pagoda of Tazia Tower rises from Badal Mahal or Cloud Palace in its five-tiered splendor, with each storey graced by a delicately carved balcony.
Jaisalmer is famous for it's i ntricately latticed havelis with honey-pale facades and floral designs. The Patwon-Ki-Haveli have got five separate suits for with individual entrances facing a narrow street are connected from within, all have flat roofs and have got excellent views. The building's most striking features are its exuberantly carved jarokhas or protecting balconies. Salim Singh's haveli provides Jaisalmer's only favorable memory of the tyrannical Salim Singh Mohta, who became the Prime Minister in 1800 when his father was murdered.
There are some fascinating places to see around Jaisalmer. The most interesting way to explore the mirages of the Thar Desert is a camel safari. Sunset at Sam Sand Dunes can be breathtaking, the sun rise, too, is spectacular. Barra Bagh is a collection of cenotaphs built in the memory of Jaisalmer's rulers, which stand clustered on a hill. Akal Fossil Park has got the scattered remains of Jurassic tree fossils up to 180 million years old.
Located near the town of Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore National Park is one of the prime examples of Project Tiger conservation efforts in Rajasthan. Ranthambore has also been a witness to the rise and fall of many rulers and a series of battle scenes. Remenats of marvellous architectural monuments, ponds and lakes enlighten avid lovers of the subject.
Ranthambore National Park covers an area of 400-sq-km engulfing within beautiful scenarios of lakes and rivers and on top of these a well-preserved Ranthambore Fort built in the 10th century. The lower lying ground alternates between open bush-lands and dense forests and is accustomed with r uined pavilions, chhatris and 'hides' the hunting preserve of the Maharajas.
Historically, Yadavs had a strong hold in Ranthambore in the 8th century. Then it came under Chauhans, and was ruled by them 10th century onwards. The Mughal emperors Akbar and Aurangzeb also occupied the magnificent fort.
Tigers, being the main attraction of this park, can be spotted quite often during the day. There is also a wide range of large and small herbivorous animals over here such as sambhar, nilgai, sloth bear, jackal, crocodile and a comprehensive variety of bird-life too. The park can be toured in an open-sided jeep or a lorry accompanied by a ranger.
The entrance in the park leads to the fort and the forest rest house, Jogi Mahal, which comprise of the second largest banyan tree in India. Known as "the palace of clouds", the Badal Mahal is famous for its 84-coloumn chattri of king Hammir and lakes like the Padam Talab, Raj Bagh Talab and Milak Talab are also worth visiting in this area.
valley of Udaipur is the most diversified and one of the most romantic spots in India. Reflected in the shimmering waters of Pichola Lake, the city's skyline of whitewashed havelis and tapering temple shikaras, surmounted by the domes and ornately carved balconies of the famous Rajput city, makes it one of Asia's most exotic spectacles.
Maharana Udai Singh on the advice of a sage founded the city in 1567. Udaipur was the last of the numerous Mewar capitals and was the birthplace of the legendary Maharana Pratap. The city has acquired its panoramic vies from the Arravallies that surround it and the three enclosed lakes Pichola, Fatehsagar and Udai Sagar.
One can have a blast while shopping in Udaipur, as the culture and traditions of the city have given rise to many objects of beauty such as folk toys, brightly colored garments, tie & die sarees, turbans and hand-painted textiles. Cane furniture as well as local, carved furniture shows a high degree of craftsmanship. Silver jewelry, wall hangings and paintings on cloth of Udaipur are popular all across the world. Some of the main shopping areas in the city include Hathipol, Chetak Circle, Clock Tower, Palace Road, Bapu Bazaar and City market.
The city beautifully grips in its breathtaking hill top fortresses and exotic fairytale palaces, the legends of medieval chivalry and heroism. The City Palace is an imposing palace, towering over lake Pichola and is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. Jagdish Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu was built by Maharana Jagar Singh I in 1651. Saheliyon Ki Bari, or the garden of the maiden of honor, is a small ornamental garden comprising of fountains, kiosks, marble elephants and delightful lotus pool.
Pratap Memorial, homage to Rana Pratap and his faithful steed. It has also got a Japanese rock garden in the vicinity. Over-looked by a number of hills and parks, Fatehsagar offers visitors a cruise of its island-gardens. Lake Pichola derived its name from Pichli village and is enveloped in-between hills, palaces, temples, bathing ghats and embankments. Situated on the outskirts of Udaipur, Shilpgram is a crafts and performing arts center and houses craftsmen from different states who display their crafts and products for visitors benefit.
The city of Shiva, situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges, Varanasi or Banaras is one of the oldest cities of India. It's name Banaras was derived from the Pali language, where Varanasi was called Banarsi. Another name of the city is 'Kashi' or "the city of lights", believed to be the place where Shiva and Parvati stood when the "time started ticking".
From all across India and the world over Hindu pilgrims come to bathe in the waters of the Ganges, a ritual which washes away all sins. A magical city where the most intimate rituals of life and death are performed under public eye on the city's famous ghats. The present name is derived from the fact that the city is at the confluence of the rivers Varuna and Asi. Since ancient times Varanasi has been a centre of learning and civilization for over 2000 years. The old parts of the city have an antique appeal still it is Ganga that makes Varanasi so holy, so compulsive for aesthetics and artists.
Varanasi has been a centre of handicrafts, specially silk weaving.The exquisite brocade work and designs of this form of handloom have been developed and perfected over the centuries, according to the taste of its patrons. The other attractions include brassware, ivoryware, gold jwelery, woodcraft, wall hangings, lampshades, carpets, and masks of various Hindu & Buddhist gods, godesses and saints. Some of the main shopping areas includes the Chowk, Godowlia, Vishwanath Lane and Thatheri Bazaar.
The main attractions of this religious city are the temples, which include the Kashi-Vishwanath Temple, the most sacred of shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, the patron deity of Varansi. Originally costructed by Rani Ahilyabai Holker of Indore in 1776, it was rebuit in the 18th century. The gold plating done on its 15.5-meter high spire, a gift from the Sikh king, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, made it more popular as a Golden Temple.
Emperor Aurangzeb constructed Gyanvapi Mosqueon the ruins of a temple. Rare specimens of ancient temple art are evident in the foundation and at the rear of the mosque. Built in the 8th century, the Durga temple has got a Nagara style structure with five 'shikharas' or spires, which start from the bottom and converge on the top. Dedicated to Mother India, the Bharat Mata Temple is built in the Mahatama Gandhi Kashi Vaidyapeeth, which was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt. It houses a relief map of India carved out of marble.
Tulsi Manas Temple, dedicated to Lord Rama, this temple was built in the place where Goswami Tulsidas composed the epic 'Ramcharitmanas'. An exqusite structure of white marble, it has got the text of 'Ramcharitmanas' engraved on its walls. Banaras Hindu University is the largests and oldest university in north India. Covering an area of 2,000 acres, this great education institute was established by Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya. Being the centre of Sanskrit, Indian art, culture and music, it attracts students both from India and Abroad.
Built by the warrior Chandela Dynasty that rose to power in the 10th and 11th centuries, the 25 odd surviving temple display different facets of life, including the sensual. These temples are a celebration of womanhood, her myraid moods and aspects. The Chandelas were interested in forming a seat of religion and learning in Khajuraho. They also believed in the 'Tantric Cult', which believes that gratification of Earthly desires is a step closer to attain the infinite liberation, Nirvana.
There is yet, another theory behind the erotica of Khajuraho Temples. The boys in those days use to live in hermitages, following the Hindu law of being 'brahmacharis' until they attained manhood. The only way they take up the responsibity of a 'householder' was by going through these sculptures and the earthly passions they depicted.
Among the places to shop, there are a number of curio and handicrafts shops in the market opposite the Western Group of Temples and the Gole Market. Photoshops are also located here and cameras are available on hire.
The temples of Khajuraho are categorized into three groups- the Western, Eastern and Southern. Temples of the Western Goup includes Lakshmi and Varaha shrines opposite the Lakshmana temples. Lakshmana Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this temple is the best-preserved temple among the early temples. The friezes on the platform depict royal hunts and battles, processions, and scenes from domestic life and sexual orgy. The largest and most typical of Khajuraho temples, Kandariya Mahadeva is dedicated to Shiva, it is also artistically and architecturally the most perfect.
Temples of the Eastern Group include Parsvanath, the largest and the finest in this group these temples are dedicated to the first jain Tirthankara, yet, Vaishnava themes are also depicted in its sculptures. Adinath Temple is dedicated to the Jain saint Adinath, a lavishly embellished temple with sculpted figures including Yakshis or demi-goddesses. The main Jain shrine, Shanti Nath has a 15-ft, high image of Adinath. Ghantai Temple, so called for the chain and bell decorations on its elegant pillars.
Temples of the Southern Group include Duladeo Temple, which has dancing Apsarases or nymphs in the interior and flying Vidhyadhara or demi-gods figures. Though a temple in its ruins Chaturbhuja Temple has a four-armed, 9-ft high image of Vishnu.
The Archaelogical Museum house sculpture and stone panels of ruined temples in the Jain, Buddhist and miscellaneous galleries. There is a huge statue of the Buddha and the unusual statue of a dancing Ganesha too. Shipgram is located in the heart of Khajuraho, covering an area of 10-acres; it has got craftsmen coming from various parts of India working on ethnic handicrafts.
Aurangabad is the base city for one of the wonders of the world- the Ajanta and Ellora Caves, when it comes to temple architecture. History of Aurangabad goes back to 2200 years when it was known as Rajtadak and Kirkee Fatehnager. First impression of the city will be of an industrial metropolitan city with wide streets, traffic, and building sites. Scattered around its ragged fringes are the dilapidated remains of fortifications, gateways, domes and minarets. The last Mughal Emperor of India, Aurangzeb on whose name the city has been named, resided here and built an impregnable fort.
Aurangabad is famed for its age old weaving craft, 'Himroo' and 'Mashru', fabrics of cotton and silk, with the lustre of satin and motifs derived from Ajanta paintings. Bidriware is another of the region's ancient professions. The plates, vases, urns, necklaces are made of zinc-copper combination with either intricate inlays, embossed or overlaid in silver. 'Kimbkab' weaves and agate stones are also worth a buy as souvenirs.
Among the places of interest in this imperial city includes the World Heritage site of Ellora Caves, one of the finest examples of rockcut caves. The 34 caves comprise of 12 Buddhist caves belonging 600-800 A.D., 17 Hindu caves from 900 A.D. and five Jain caves from 800-1000 A.D. Cave 16 is the most famous and has lord Shiva sculpted on the rocks- the largest monolith in the world, that took 150 years to built.
Ajanta Caves belong to the 2nd century and said to be the finest achievements by Buddhist monks. Beautiful frescoes, wall paintings and vivid sculptures reflect the peak of ancient Indian architecture. The horseshoe-shaped gorge has 30 caves divided in two phases, spread over a period of 900 years.
Ranked as the third largest crater in the world, Lonar Crater was formed by a meteorite impact about 50,000 years ago and the meteor is believed to have been buried 600 mts. Below the crater level. Bibi Ka Maqbara is the tomb of Begum Rabia Durani, wife of Emperor Aurangazeb. The monument is an excellent example of Persian Architecture. The arched alcove surmounted by a swellng dome, the idea had acquired its own reputation in India.
Overlooking Kaum River, Panchakkiis a 1695 watermill, regarded as an engineering marvel. Daulatabad Fort is a hilltop fortress built in 1187, surmounted by thick walls, spiked gates, steep gravelled sideways and a moat. Khuladabad is a tomb of Emperor Aurangzeb whose purintanism reflects in the austerity of the tomb. Paithan was the seat of the Satvahana dynasty, which ruled from 2nd century BC to 2nd A.D. The town is also famous for its intricatelly handwoven gold and silver Paithani sarees.
The general climate of Calcutta still remains full of optimism, buoyancy and expectation, yet, its roots lie in the European expansion of the 17th century. The showpiece capital of the British, Calcutta was the greatest colonial city of the Far East. A city of enduring charm has adopted to the modern trends and techniques of the world but has not shed the leisurely life style and the calm, which it has accumulated since ages.
Calcutta is a city with strong cultural, literary and religious flavors. The most happening place in India when it comes to fine arts, music, dance, theatre and writing. This is a state where artistic endeavour is held in higher esteem, than political and economic success. The city also acts as the gateway to the Northeast states and has been coming up as a major commercial city in the nation.
Calcutta can be easily termed as 'Shopping Destination' for the variety of good buys and its colourful and often quaint markets. The 'Tant' sarees are the specialty of West Bengal because of their unique appearance and color and Calcutta provides you the best market for the purchase of these sarees. Among the typical handicrafts to look out for, are metal dokra items from the Shantiniketan region located in the northwest zone of the city. In this craft, objects such as animals and birds are roughly cast by a lost-wax process to give them a rough wry look.
This huge metropolis of Calcutta is a fascinating conglomerate of styles and influences with a variety of impressive matching skylines. The Maidan stretches from the area known as Esplanade in the north to the racecourse in the south, is bordered by Chowringhee Rd. in the east and strand & the river in the west, is one of the largest parks in the world. Esplanade, is having a 46-metre column of Shahid Minar or Martyers Memorial, which towers over the busy bus terminus and market stalls at the north east corner of the Maidan.
Beneath its Gothic red-brick clock tower, the single storey New Market is located in the centre of the cosmopolitan Calcutta. The Chowringee Rd. has got a long line of colonial villas & palaces and the unscathed Victorian Grand Hotel. Indian Museum is known as the oldest museum in India, founded in 1814, housing a huge variety of exhibits from sculpture to natural history. Victoria Memorial is a splendid example of British architecture, built in the memory of Queen Victoria and was inaugurated by Prince of Wales in 1921. The Memorial is based on architecture of the Taj and is built in marble.
Birla Planetarium is one of the earliest planetariums in India. The planetarium was opened in 1961 and the cost of completion came to about 2 crores. Shahid Minar, built in 1828 and was named after Sir David Ochterlony who won the Nepal war of 1814, this monument is a combination of Turkish, Egyptian and Syrian architectural elements. Although Howrah is a separate town, Culcutta's industrial hub is an integral part of the city. Howrah Bridge is Calcutta's biggest landmarks and is 97m high and 705m long, spanning the River Hoogly in a single giant leap, making it world's largest cantilever bridge.
A melting pot of Muslim and Hindu cultures, the capital of Andhra Pradesh comprises the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Even if this ancient city is becoming a metropolitan at a very fast pace with entertainment parks, a 'hi-tech city' in the making and a film city already in place, it hasn't lost its inherent charms of a rich past. Its exotic cuisine and imposing monuments, old bazaars and lilting accents, makes Hyderabad a sure winner among tourist destinations.
Hyderabad is synonymous with pearls. Cultured pearls studded in gold and silver jewelery of exquisite design are a specialty over here. Pearls are available in various shapes but the most famous ones are the 'rice-pearl'- a tiny variety. Bidriware or black metal inlaid with silver is another unique handicraft work used to turn out a variety of decorative items. Glass and studded bangles of Hyderabad are a favorite item among women. The markets around Charminar are favored for bangles and pearls.
The best sightseeing places in the city of Hyderabad includes Charminar, standing 180 ft.tall is the most famous monument of the city. Built in 1591 AD in the memory of eradication of Plague, the Charminar is a tribute to the fighting spirit of mankind. Mecca Masjid's foundation was laid by Sultan Mohammed Qutb Shah in 1614 but was later on completed by Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb. The bricks on top of the central arch are believed to be from Mecca, hence the name.
The picturesque lake of Hussian Sagar unites the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Golconda Fort's origin can be traced to the Yadava dynasty of Deogiria and the Kakatiyas of Warangal. This massive fort of granite has walls with eight gates and 87 bastions extending up to 7 km in circumference. The Royal Toms of Qutub Shahi Kings is the place where seven sultans lie buried in the midst of Ibrahim Bagh.
Laad Bazaar is a shopping centre located near Charminar, containing a pure Arabian experience with its fabulous collection of brocade, velvet, gold embroidered fabrics, sherwanis, khana dupattas, pearls, laquer bangles nad perfumes. Salar Jung Museum is the largest one-man collection of antiques of Nawab Salar Jung III, Prime Minister in the court of Nizam, ranging from miniatures of Mewar to modern art of Europe, Daggers of Noor Jahan and Emperor Jahangir, Veiled Rebecca of Bezoni and painting in solid white granite.
Medak Church is the largest Gothic structure in the country. Its huge stained glass windows recapture the story of the Bible in blazing colored pictures. Paigah Tombs are ensample of Indo-Sarcenic architecture and the tombs are built with lime and mortar. Established in 1918, Osmania University is one of the oldest universities in India. A fine blend of Indo-Persian and Arabic styles, it is named after Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan.
Filled with landscaped gardens, buzzing with high tech gadgets and lifestyles, modern marvels, historical monuments, bustling shopping plazas, a race course and golf course, all these comprise of the multifaceted identity of Bangalore.This capital city of Karnataka, was founded by the local Chieftain Kempe Gowda in 16th century but Bangalore came into recognition when it was converted into the summer capital of Mysore by Tipu Sultan.
Capital of a state, which is rich in Sandalwood, Rose wood and silk, certainly has more to offer than just sightseeing. The peppy and jazzy city has got numerous pubs and nightclubs, which can compete with any modern city of America or Europe. It's a city that always keeps itself in tune with the latest fashion trends in the world. A city with nightlife and large number of cinema halls, is also treat for shoppers.
Karnataka has a rich tradition in handicrafts and silk sarees. Sandal wood, ivory, brass and rosewood inlay, clay and wooden toys, wood carvings, bidriware and Lambini jewelery are some other specialities stoked in the emporia of the city.
The best places of interest in Bangalore include Lal Bagh, the most famous gardens in the city cover an expanse of 240 acre and are India's most beautiful botanical gardens. Located in the heart of the city lies Cubbon Park, which was laid down by Lord Cubbon in 1864. The awesome monolithic deity in the Bull Temple, Nandi, draws devotees from all over the country. Its 4.57-m high and 6,10 metres long image carved out of a single granite rock by Kempegowda in the 16th century.
Built in the Tudor style and inspired by the Windsor palace, a Wodeyar king built Bangalore Palace in 1887. Tipu Sultan's Palace, this summer place of Tipu Sultan has an entire structure built in Teakwood. Exqusitely designed with floral motifs on the walls and cielings, this double storeyed ornate palace was constructed in 1781-1791. A marvel of neo Dravidian architecture and one of the most imposing building not only in Bangalore but in India, Vidhan Soudha houses the state legislative assembly of Karnataka and part of the secretariat.
Sri Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple is a natural monolith carved cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. On the 14 / 15 January every year a ray of light passes precisely through the horns of the Nandi bull and illuminates the deity inside. This unique phenomenon occurs every year on the Makar Sankranti day and attracts large number of devotees. Ulsoor Lake is a centrally located lake, which covers a space of 1.5 sq. km and is an idel place for boating and shopping.
Kerala is a state of green magic and its mood is festive. Lush planatations rise from the sea and sweep the entire state in verdant glory, swathing the countryside, tranquil backwaters along which coconut palms stretch to the skies. Cochin, Kerela's commericial and industrial capital, has one of the finest harbors in the world. Fort Cochin and Mattancherry are the focus interest as these two places contain Cochin's extraordinary history of foreign influence and settlement is reflected in an assortment of architectural styles.
Consisting of several islands over which the city spreads, some of these islands are Willingdon, formed artificially by dredging while deepning the harbor; Bolghatty, close to Cochin's twin city Ernakulam, which forms its new trading zone; Gundu, reached by boat from Vypin, known for its coir cottage industries; and Mattanacherry, where the patina of the past still rules strong.
The sightseeing in Cochin includes St Francis Church, which was built by Portuguese Franciscan friars, is India's oldest European church. Santa Cruz Basilica is the monumental church that dates back to 1558 and has beautiful paintings on the ceiling. Chinese Fishing Nets are huge cantilevered fishing nets, which were brought here by traders from the court of Kublai Khan.
The Portuguese built Mattanacherry Palace or the Dutch Palace in 1557 and presented it to Raja Veera Kerala Verma of Cochin, the palace was renovated in 1663 by the Dutch. Jewish Synagogue was constructed in 1568 and is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth. Known for the mid 18th century hand printed, willow pattern floor tiles from Canton in China, a clock tower, Hebrew inscriptions on stone slabs, ancient scripts on copper plates etc.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the largest wildlife reserves in the southern region of India. Also called the Tekkadi wildlife sanctuary, it's an ideal place to witness animals living in their natural habitat. Occupying an area 777 sq. km. of the Cardomom hills region of the Western Ghats, the sanctuary's main attraction include wild elephants, which can be seen frolicing in water every now and then.
Other attractions of the sanctuary are the Sambar, Bison, Spotted Deer, Tigers, Leopards, Malabar Flyings Squirrels, Stripe necked Mongooses, etc. There are over 260 species of birds here, including Nilgiri Wood Pigeons, blue-winged Parakeets, White bellied Tree Pies, laughing Thrushes and FlyCatchers.
Situated at the southern tip of India in the state of Tamil Nadu, the capital city of Chennai is the third largest metropolis of India. The city reflects a face of a different India- classical, ancient and mild. Due to its location, Chennai is known as the Gateway of Southern India. Even if Chennai is not a natural harbor, still, this manmade port is very modern and efficient in handling cargo and other traffic.
Chennai is definitely touched by colonialism but not ravaged by wars and intensely aware of its roots and traditions. Founded by the East India Company in 1639, the British developed Madras as one of the major trading centers in India. Chennai has a blend of Dravidian and Gothic architecture in its building. In fact Tamilians are people who take pride in their culture that's why Chennai is the window to the tradition, culture and life-style of Southern India. The city is also well-known for its booming film industry.
Chennai is one of the major trading centers in South India. The traditional handicraft and handloom items are very popular among tourists. The south silk has been a craze among the women for centuries. The Victoria Technical Institute at Mount Road is known for selling quality products in handicraft, handmade clothing, and Batik greeting cards. The best place to purchase some art and crafts item is the Central Cottage Industries Emporium in the Temple Tower. For purchasing various types of silk items the main centers are Srinivasa Silk, Nalli and Kumaran at Theyagaraja Nagar and B. M Silks in Mylapore. The Burma Bazaar is famous for all kind of electronic gadgets even textile, ready-made garments and perfumes.
Among the sightseeing places, Fort St. George was among the first few bastions built by the East India Company to protect its interests in India. Kapaleeswarar Temple is one of the largest and oldest temples in Chennai. A masterpiece of Dravidian architecture, there are some fragmentary inscriptions dating back to 1250 A.D. Sri Parthasarathy Temple, is a 8th century temple built by the Pallavas. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, it houses images of the five avatars or incarnations of Vishnu and a small temple shrine dedicated to Vishnu's consort, Vedavalli Ammai.
The Portuguese built the Santhome Cathedral in the 14th and 15th century and named it after Saint Thomas. Little Mount Shrine is the place, where St. Thomas is said to have lived, perched in a small cave. St. Thomas Mount, situated near the Meenambakkamb airport, is the place where the apostle is said to have been killed. The Snake & Children's Park is one of the largest and best snake parks in India and attracts visitors of all age with its amazing collection of Reptiles and Indian snakes. Marina Beach is counted among one of the longest beaches in Asia, running for 12 kms.