TOP TEN INDIAN DESTINATIONS
TEN TOP DESTINATION FROM THE FIRST VILLAGE TO THE LAST VILLAGE OF INDIA…
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As a nation of religious harmony these pay excitement and happiness to those from outside India as well as natives. From Kanyakumari in the south to Mana in the north you feel it as a journey from this good earth to paradise. According to Hindu myth it is a penence to attain ‘Moksha – Salvation at the end; but you enjoy everything offering by the heaven on this very land where corers of Gods exist. It is a blend of reality and fantasy. It makes you a man who can dream…………… a man who can foresee …………..a man who can prophecy………….. that is the wonder waiting for you!
Kanyakumari, the feet of Mother India
Kanyakumari (Cape Comerin), named after a temple in the Southern most tip of Indian main land. It is believed that the feet of Mother India is dipped into the holy waters of Indian Ocean. This is the one and only place in India to observe the full sun rise and sun set where the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal meet the Indian Ocean.
Historians documented that this was stretching further into the sea in olden days and washed off by time and tide. So the temple was rebuilt may times in the past. The present structure was built at the times of Chola regime and existed as a classical example of Chola architectural tradition.
This is a place where myths overshadow realities. The temple located at the sea shore is dedicated to Devi Kanya(Godess of Virgin), a manifestation of Sri Parvati. According to Hindu legend her marriage with Lord Shiva was expected to take place before dawn but intervened by Indra and others who came as cocks in disguise at the very night and crowed before dawn and postponed the marriage. The furiated Devi thrown away the garlands and rice meant for wedding feast which turned into sands of different colours that spread over the shore even now. She did penence to obtain wedlock with Lord Shiva on a rock South to this temple where her footprints are seen. This rock is called ‘Sri Pada Parai’ on which a ‘Mandapam’ is erected.
There is a temple north to Kanyakumari dedicated to Lord Shiva named Sucheendram known for its music stone pillars of ‘Sapta Swara’ and a growing statue of Lord Hanuman.
In ‘Mani Meghala’ an ancient Tamil epic, there is a story of a Brahmin lady who lost her chastity. She walked from Kasi, a holy town situated on the bank of the holy river ‘Ganges’ in the lap of Himalaya to Kanyakumari to wash off her sins in the holy waters of Kanya kumari and take ‘Moksha’ (Salvation), Kanya Devi is now considered a virgin godess who blessed pilgrims and tourists who flock the town.
Kanya Kumari temple in the best and favourate attraction to the people world wide. It is very much the life of the fisher folk around. The sparkle of the diamond nose ring of the deity is said to be visible from the sea and helped mariners and fishermen to reach the main land in ancient times. It is also noted that many attempts of the pirates to rob this was sabotaged by the same fishermen. In his work on Ancient India Ptolemy has identified Kanya Kumari as a centre for pearl fishery.
Just off Kumari Amman Temple, there are two islets. Swami Vivekanda Memorial is built on one of the rocks is 1970 to commemorate his meditation on it for three days . Also on this rock, there is a Dhyana Mandapam, for mediation. On the other rock a 133 feet tall gigantic statue of Tamil Saint – Poet Sri. Thiruvalluvar, author of ‘Thirukural’ is errected on 1st January 2000. This is one of the biggest Statues in Asia.
The Gandhi memorial is another fascinating thing. It has been built on the spot where the urn containing the ashes of Mahatma was kept for public to make homage to the great leader before immersion. The memorial resembling the Mandir in the north was designed in such a way that on 2nd October, the birth day of Mahatma, the first rays of sun fall on the exact place where his ashes were kept.
North of Kanya Kumari, there beings the Western Ghat (Mount of Sahya) with the rocky hills called ‘Marunthvazh Malai’ means ‘hills where medicines live’. It is believed that all these rocky hills are pieces of earth dropped from the shoulder of Lord Hanuman who fetched a mountain from north of Himalaya on which ‘Mrita Sangivani’, a life saving herb lives, to Sri Lanka during Rama-Ravana War. This is said to be the reason for abundance of medicinal plants in the area.
As a place of Religious harmony shrines belong to three major religious groups are seen in a row in the town.
Vatta Kottai(Rounded Fort), Kolachal a war ground for the Dutch and Martanda Varma, Udaya Giri, Fort where the physical remains of a Dutch Naval Captain is buried, Padmanabha Puram Palace, wooden Palace of the Kings of Travancore dynasty are among the heart thrombin attractions of the ages.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, CAPITAL CITY OF GODS OWN LAND
Means City of Sri Anantha, the Seven headed serpent in Palazhi (Sea of Milk) on which Lord Vishnu is lying.
The capital city of God’s Own Country 80 Km. from Kanyakumari is a Paradise to foreignners as well as natives. As a City hide under the lush of coconuts Mahatma Gandhi called it ‘the evergreen City of India’. The fascinating coastal area comprises Vizhinjam Harbour, world renowned Kovalam Beach, Sankhum Mukham Beach, Varkala Beach, Veli, Kadinam Kulam and Kappil back waters.
The trading traditions of the city dating back to 1000 BC when the ships of King Solomon landed in a port called Ophir(now Poovar) to by spices, sandal wood and ivory. The rise of modern Thiruvananthapuram began with accession of Marthanda Varma is 1729 as the founding ruler of the princely state of Travancore. It was made the capital of Trvancore in 1745. The city developed into a major intellectual and artistic centre during the period of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal which often referred as the Golden Age of Travnacore.
The City is known for its historical monuments, palaces and structures belongs to Victorian Era. Now a days it is often referred as ‘the City of Statues’ and catches the attention of the media to the wealth kept in the vaults under ground of Sri Padmanabha Swami temple which is considered to be the wealthiest shrine in the world.
Techno Park – India’s 1st IT park and 3rd largest in Asia, employing 30,000 people over 195 companies is a milestone in the recent history of the city.
Kovalam is a beach town on the Arabian Sea located 13 Km away from Thiruvananthapuram City. It stretches 17 Km Coastline and divides into three beaches by rocky outcroppings, together form the famous crescent of the Kovalam Beach.
Light House Beach
The Southern most beach named after the old Vizhinjam Light House is the one most frequented by tourists. Its intermittent beams render the beach with an unearthly Charm.
Situated in the middle with a high rock prmontry and a calm bay of blue waters, this beach paradise creates a unique aquarelle on moonlit nights.
Situated to the north one has the option to walk along the sea – wall. The local fishermen ply their trade on this part. The sight of the waves lashing on the rocks below is awesome. Shallow waters stretching for hundreds of meters are ideal for swimming.
Ayurvedic massage parlors, Spas, lusurious hotels and shops offer all kinds of goods and services.
Another destination is located 50 Km away from the Thiruvnanthapuram. First of all it is known for the famous Janardhana Swami Temple. It is the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea, known as Varkala Formation. There are numerous water spouts and spas on the sides of these cliffs.
Varkala beach is called Papanasam means ‘redemption from sins’, famous for ‘Vavu Beli’, a custom among Hindu’s to make sacrifice for their dead ancestors to enter paradise.
Sivagiri Mut founded by the great philosopher and Social reformer Sri Narayan Guru who preaches is the world ‘One Caste, One religion, One God for Men’. The Samadhi (The final resting Place) of Guru attracts thousands of devotees every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days – 30 December to 1st January.
Thiruvambadi beach and Kappil lake are other attractions near by. The bridges over the lake and boating opening the horizon of panoramic scenes before us.
Yoga, Ayurvedic and Naturopathic centres are specialities of the God driven place
A smaller State between Maharashtra and Karnataka shares a long coastline on the Arabian Sea. The life of Goa is a blend of vanity of modernism and innocence of the peasantry. The main attraction is the scenic and wide spread beaches where thousands of foreigners visit every year.
Basillica of Bom Jesus
The Basillica, dedicated to infant Jesus, the most popular and revered by Christians has been declared a world Heritage Monuments. The 16th century cathedral is India’s first Minor Basillica and is considered as one of the best examples of baroque architecture in India. Some have a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Francis Xavier, who was here in the mid 16th century.
Goa is now the permanent venue of International Film Festival of India.
It is place under the governance of Portuguese till 1961. On 30 May 1987, Goa was conferred Statehood.
Goa is also famous for its Carnivals and Casinos.
Tiracol Fort , the Aguada Fort, The Aravelam waterfalls, the Mayem Lake are important haunt of tourists world wide.
The territory changed its official name from ‘Pondicherry’ to Puducherry means ‘New Village’ in Tamil. It is also known as the ‘French Riviera of the East’. The history of Pondicherry was traced back to 2nd century . Husting Ford, a renowned historian notes that Roman Pottery was found at Arikamedu in 1937 and archeological excavations between 1944 and 1949 showed that it was a trading station to which Roman manufacture were imported during the first half of the 1st century AD.
Now the union Territory spread within three states Pondichery and Karaikal in the eastern Coast of Tamil Nadu, Yanam in Andra Pradesh and Mahi in Kerala on the western coast. So Pondicherry is famous for Sea shore tourisam. It is a perfect place for leisurely holidays and beach sports. One can see playing dolphins, if he cruised into the sea from the Paradise Beach.
The Serinity beach is 1.5 Km long witnessed the bloodiest battles between the French and the British in the past is a beautiful site to watch as it is cool and clean. It is suited for relaxation, swimming and sun-bath. The statue of Mahatma Gandhi, World War 1st memorial, the Light house and the 284 metres long New Pier are located around.
Karaikal Beach is an excellent place for watching the sun rise while Mahe is famous for numerous fishing hamlets. Yanam’s beauty is enhanced by the spectacular Goringa Godavari river surrounded with rich mangrove forests.
An experimental township in Villupuram Districts of Tamil Nadu near Pondicherry. It was founded in 1968 by the Mother ‘Mirra Alfassa’ and designed by architect Roger Anger meant for ‘men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationality. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity’.
Oddisha – the land of temples
Konark Sun Temple, also known as the black Pagoda is considered as the 7th wonder of India. The present structure was constructed from Sand Stone by King Narasimhadeva(1238-1250 CE) of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. It is now a World Heritage Site. The Poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote of Konark “Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man”. Every inch of the temple is covered with sculpture of an unsurpassed beauty and grace. The entire complex was designed in the form of the Sun God’s huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on twelve pairs of exquisitely decorated wheels at its base. The spokes of the wheels serve an sundials and the shadows cast by these can give the precise time of the day. The 24 wheels signifies 24 hours of a day and the 8 spokes signifies prahars (three hour period) of a day. The sun temple belongs to the Kalinga School of Indian Temples.
This temple also contains erotic sculptures similar to the temple in Khajuraho.
The mythology behind the temple is that the original temple was constructed by Samba, the son of Lord Krishna. By his father’s curse Samba was aling from leprosy. After 12 years of penance, he was cured by Surya, the Sun God, in whose honour he built the magnificent Konark Sun Temple.
The temple is now partly in ruins and a collection of its sculptures is housed in the nearby Sun Temple Museum.
Puri Jaganath Temple
Jaganath literally means ‘Lord of the Universe’ is an important pilgrimage destination for many Hindu tradition. The temple was built in the 11th century AD by King Ananda Varman Cholaganga Dev, belongs to the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The Temple is famous for its annual Rath Yattra on chariot festival. According to Hindu legend King Indradyumna had built this temple for Vishnu.
In accordance with history Bhuvaneswar has two distinct facets. While the ancient city has a history that goes back more the 2000 years as the Capital of Kalinga Empire, the modern city came into existence in 1948 as the Capital of Orissa State.
The Jain and Buddist shrines give a clear picture about the settlements around Bhuvaneswar in the first two centuries BC and One of the most complete edicts of Asoka, the Great dating between 272 – 236 BC remains carved in rock just 5 miles to the Southern west of the modern city.
When India got independence in 1947, Orissa changed its capital to Bhuvaneswar. The modern city of Bhuvaneswar was planned and built by German Architect Otto Konigsberger. It was formally inaugurated on 13th April 1948.
Kolkata formerly known as Calcutta, is one of the biggest eastern cities in India and the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, it was the commercial capital of East India. The city proper has 4.5 million residents, and the metropolitan area, including suburbs, has a population of approximately 14 million, making it the third-most populous metropolitan area in India and the 13th-most populous urban area in the world. Kolkata is also classified as the eighth-largest urban agglomeration in the world.Kolkata served as the capital of India during the British Raj until 1911, when its perceived geographical disadvantages and a growing nationalism in Bengal led officials to shift the capital to New Delhi.
The discovery of the nearby Chandraketugarh an archaeological site provides evidence that the area has been inhabited for over two millennia.
The city’s documented history begins with the arrival of the English East India Company in 1690, when the Company was consolidating its trade business in Bengal. Job Charnock, an administrator with the company was traditionally credited as the founder of the city. In response to a public interest petition, the Calcutta High Court ruled in 2003 that the city does not have a specific founder. The area comprising of the present day city consisted of three villages Kalikata, Gobindapur and Sutanuti. These villages were part of an estate belonging to the Mughal emperor himself, whose jagirdari rights were held by the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family. The rights were transferred to the East India Company in 1698.
Kolkata city is noted for its vibrant political culture. It was a centre of the Indian struggle for independence and remains a hotbed of contemporary politics. Once the center of modern education, science, culture, and politics in India, Kolkata witnessed economic stagnation in the years following India’s independence in 1947. However, since the year 2000, economic rejuvenation has led to acceleration in the city’s growth. Like other metropolitan cities in developing countries, Kolkata continues to deal with contemporary urban problems like pollution and traffic congestion. Despite such problems, it remains the dominant urban area of eastern India and the major economic, educational and cultural hub. By the 1850s, Kolkata was split into two distinct areas — one British (known as the White Town) centred around Chowringhee, the other Indian centred around North Calcutta. The city underwent rapid industrial growth from the early 1850s, especially in the textile and jute industries: this caused massive investment by British companies in infrastructure such as Howrah station and telegraph connections. The coalescence of British and Indian culture resulted in the emergence of a new Babu class of urbane Indians — whose members were often bureaucrats, professionals, newspaper readers, Anglophiles, and usually belonged to upper-caste Hindu communities. Throughout the nineteenth century, a socio-cultural reform, often referred to as the Bengal Renaissance resulted in the general uplifting of the people. In 1883, Surendranath Banerjee organised a national conference — the first of its kind in nineteenth century India. Gradually Calcutta became a centre of the Indian independence movement, especially revolutionary organisations. The 1905 partition of Bengal on communal grounds resulted in widespread public agitation and the boycott of British goods (Swadeshi movement). These activities, along with the administratively disadvantageous location of Calcutta in the eastern fringes of India, prompted the British to move the capital to New Delhi in 1911. The city and its port were bombed several times by the Japanese between 1942 and 1944, during World War II. Coinciding with the war, millions starved to death during the Bengal famine of 1943, caused by a combination of military, administrative and natural factors.
The British in the late 17th century wanted to build a fort near Gobindapur in order to consolidate their power over other foreign powers — namely the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the French. In 1702, the British completed the construction of old Fort William, which was used to station its troops and as a regional base. Calcutta was declared a Presidency City, and later became the headquarters of the Bengal Presidency. Faced with frequent skirmishes with French forces, in 1756 the British began to upgrade their fortifications. When protests against the militarisation by the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-Ud-Daulah went unheeded he attacked and captured Fort William, leading to the infamous Black Hole of Calcutta incident. A force of Company sepoys and British troops led by Robert Clive recaptured the city the following year. Calcutta was named the capital of British India in 1772, and starting in 1864 during the summer months, the capital was temporarily shifted to the hill station of Shimla. In the early 19th century the marshes surrounding the city were drained and the government area was laid out along the banks of the Hooghly River. Richard Wellesley, the Governor General between 1797–1805, was largely responsible for the growth of the city and its public architecture which led to the description of Calcutta as “The City of Palaces”.The city was a centre of the British East India Company’s opium trade during the late 18th and 19th century.
In 1946, demands for the creation of a Muslim state led to large-scale communal violence resulting in the deaths of over 4,000 people. The partition of India led to intense violence and a shift in demographics — large numbers of Muslims left for East Pakistan, while hundreds of thousands of Hindus fled into the city. Over the 1960s and 1970s, severe power shortages, strikes and a violent Marxist-Maoist movement — the Naxalites — damaged much of the city’s infrastructure, leading to a period of economic stagnation. In 1971, Bangladesh liberation war led to the mass influx of thousands of refugees into Kolkata resulting in a massive strain on its infrastructure. In the mid-1980s, Bombay, now Mumbai, overtook Kolkata as India’s most-populous city. In 1985 Rajiv Gandhi referred to Kolkata as a “dying city” because of the social and political traumas. Kolkata has been a important base for Communism, as West Bengal was ruled by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M))-dominated Left Front for 34 years (1977–2011) — the world’s longest-running democratically elected communist government.
Delhi-the capital of India during the second millennium BC, continuous inhabitation has been evidenced since at least the 6th century BC. The city is believed to be the site of Indraprastha, legendary capital of the Pandavas in the Indian epic the great Mahabharata. Settlements grew from the time of the Mauryan Empire (c. 300 BCE). In 1206, Qutb-ud-din Aybak, the first ruler of the Slave Dynasty established the Delhi Sultanate. Qutb-ud-din started the construction the Qutub Minar and Quwwat-al-Islam (might of Islam), the earliest extant mosque in India. After the fall of the Slave dynasty, a succession of Turkic and Afghan dynasties, the Khilji dynasty, the Tughluq dynasty, the Sayyid dynasty and the Lodhi dynasty held power in the late medieval period, and built a sequence of forts and townships that are part of the seven cities of Delhi. In 1526, Zahiruddin Babur defeated the last Lodhi sultan in the First Battle of Panipat and founded the Mughal Empire that ruled from Delhi, Agra and Lahore.
The Mughal Empire ruled Delhi for more than three centuries, with a sixteen-year hiatus during the reign of Sher Shah Suri, from 1540 to 1556. During 1553–1556, the Hindu king, Hemu Vikramaditya acceded to the throne of Delhi by defeating forces of Mughal Emperor Akbar at Agra and Delhi. However, the Mughals reestablished their rule after Akbar‘s army defeated Hemu during the Second Battle of Panipat. Shah Jahan built the seventh city of Delhi that bears his name (Shahjahanabad), and is more commonly known as the “Old City” or “Old Delhi”. The old city served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1638. After 1680 the Mughal Empire’s influence declined rapidly as the Hindu Marathas rose to prominence. A weakened Mughal Empire lost the Battle of Karnal, following which the victorious forces of Nader Shah invaded and looted Delhi, carrying away many treasures, including the Peacock Throne. A treaty signed in 1752 made Marathas the protector of the Mughal throne at Delhi. In 1761, after the Marathas lost the third battle of Panipat, Delhi was raided by Ahmed Shah Abdali. In 1803, the forces of British East India Company overran the Maratha forces near Delhi and ended the Mughal rule over the city.
After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Delhi came under direct rule of the British crown and was made a district province of the Punjab. In 1911, the capital of British India was transferred from Calcutta to Delhi, following which a team of British architects led by Edwin Lutyens designed a new political and administrative area, known as New Delhi, to house the government buildings. New Delhi, also known as Lutyens’ Delhi, was officially declared as the capital of the Union of India after the country gained independence on 15 August 1947. Delhi has grown to be a multicultural, cosmopolitan metropolis. Its rapid development and urbanisation, coupled with the relatively high average income of its population, has transformed Delhi into a major cultural, political, and commercial centre of India.[
Delhi officially National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census. There are nearly 22.2 million residents in the greater National Capital Region urban area (which also includes the cities Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad along with other smaller nearby towns] The name Delhi is often also used to include urban areas near the NCT, as well as to refer to New Delhi, the capital of India, which lies within the metropolis. Although technically a federally administered union territory, the political administration of the NCT of Delhi today more closely resembles that of a state of India with its own legislature, high court and an executive council of ministers headed by a Chief Minister. New Delhi is jointly administered by both the federal Government of India and the local Government of Delhi.
Delhi is a city of magnificent kings and princes, men of great culture, learning and refinement who created famous masterpieces like the Qutab Minar, the Diwan-e-Aam and the Pearl Mosque in the Red Fort. It is no wonder the city’s history is synonymous with the history of India, making it a tourist’s paradise.
The Bahai Temple completed in 1986 is set amidst pools and gardens, where adherents of any faith are free to visit the temple and pray or meditate silently according to their own religion. The structure is in the shape of a lotus flower so it often called the lotus temple. The view of the temple is spectacular before dusk when the temple is floodlit.
Iskcon Temple built by the Hare Rama Hare Krishna cult followers is dedicated to the Lord Krishna. Built on a hillock, this elegant complex is one of the largest temple complexes in India.
Laxmi Narain Temple one of Delhi’s major temples and a major tourist attraction was built by the industrialist G. D. Birla in 1938 and is located in the west of Connaught Place. The temple is dedicated to Laxmi, the goddess of prosperity and good fortune.
Red Fort built in 1648, is a sprawling fort of red sand stones along the river Yamuna.It was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan after he transferred his capital from Agra to Delhi and is surrounded by a wall of about 2.4 km in circumference. The fort has two main entrances, the Delhi Gate and the Lahori Gate facing the famed Chandni Chowk market. The Fort has Diwan-e-Aam, and Diwan-e-Khas where the king would grant audience to the public and would grant audience to important people respectively. Adjacent to this is the Rang Mahal, the water cooled apartment for the royal ladies.
Rajpath is host to the Republic Day Parade. The two secretariat buildings and Rashtrapati Bhawan on the Raisina hills are located on the both sides of this immensely broad road. Previously the Boat Club, besides the Rajpath, was host to many demonstrations and Rallies. India Gate is towards the eastern end of Rajpath and is surrounded by well-designed gardens.
Qutub Minar made of red sandstone rising to the height of 72.5mts is an architectural marvel of the 13th century. Also a must is the visit to Ashoka Pillar dating back to the 5th century, although made of iron it has withstood the weathers of time. A very interesting belief is assigned to this pillar, stand with your back to the pillar, and if you can hold your hands around it, then make a wish and it will surely come true.
Nizam-ud-Din Shrine is another of Delhi’s major attractions. It is the tomb of the famous Sufi saint Nizam-ud-Din Auliya. The shrine also has the tomb of Amir Khusru and the grave of princess Jahanara, the daughter of Emperor Shah Jahan. It is worth visiting the shrine at around sunset on Thursdays, as it is a popular time for worship, and Qawwali singers start performing after the evening prayers.
Masjid JamaMasjid is one of biggest mosques in India, a magnificent architectural gift built by emperor Shah Jahan. Completed in 1658, this mosque has three gateways, four angle towers and two minarets. Tourists can enter the mosque but take precaution to remove your shoes and make sure that you are properly dressed. A climb to the top of minarets will give you a bird’s eye view of
I more recent times the concept of a mass rapid transit systemfor New Delhi first emerged from a traffic and travel characteristics study which was carried out in the city in 1969. In 1984, the Delhi Development Authority and the Urban Arts Commission came up with a proposal for developing a multi-modal transport system, which would consist of constructing three underground mass rapid transit corridors as well augmenting the city’s existing suburban railway and road transport networks. Consequently, traffic congestion and pollution soared, as an increasing number of commuters took to private vehicles with the existing bus system unable to bear the load. An attempt at privatising the bus transport system in 1992 merely compounded the problem, with inexperienced operators plying poorly maintained, noisy and polluting buses on lengthy routes, resulting in long waiting times, unreliable service, extreme overcrowding, unqualified drivers, speeding and reckless driving. To rectify the situation, the Government of India and the Government of Delhi jointly set up a company called the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on March 5, 1995. Now Delhi is developing in line with other world metro cities making it easier for visitors to explore the legacies that Delhi’s history has to offer.
Jaysalmer nicknamed “The Golden City”, is a town in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is located 575 kilometres (357 mi) west from the state capital Jaipur. 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 and has a population of about 78,000. It is the administrative headquarters of Jaisalmer District. Jaisalmer is named after its founder Maharawal Jaisal Singh, a Rajput king in 1156 AD. “Jaisalmer” means “the Hill Fort of Jaisal”. Jaisalmer is sometimes called the “Golden City of India” because the yellow sand and the yellow sandstone used in every architecture of the city gives a yellowish-golden tinge to the city and its surrounding area. This is held over three days in January/February every year. This is the best time to visit Jaisalmer to witness performing arts like Kalbelia dances and folk songs and music.
The majority of the inhabitants of Jaisalmer are Bhati Rajputs, named for Bhati, who was renowned as a warrior. This area was part of Gurjar – Pratihara empire and until the 11th century was ruled by a powerful Bargujar King. Deoraj, a famous prince of the Bhati family, is esteemed the real founder of the Jaisalmer dynasty, and with him the title of rawal commenced. In 1156 Rawal Jaisal, the sixth in succession from Deoraj, founded the fort and city of Jaisalmer, and made it his capital as he moved from his former capital at Lodhruva (which is situated about 15 km to the north-west of Jaisalmer). In 1293, the Bhattis so enraged the emperor Ala-ud-din Khilji that his army captured and sacked the fort and city of Jaisalmer, so that for some time it was quite deserted. Some Bhatti’s migrated to Talwandi, now Nankana Sahib in Distt. Nankana Sahib (Punjab, Pakistan) and others settled in Larkana (in Sind, Pakistan)under the name of Bhutto. In Nankana Sahib, the Bhatti Clan can be traced from the lineage of Rai Bhoe and Rai Bular Bhatti. After this there is nothing to record until the time of Rawal Sahal Singh, whose reign marks an epoch in Bhatti history in that he acknowledged the supremacy of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. The Jaisalmer princes had now arrived at the height of their power, but from this time till the accession of Rawal Mulraj in 1762 the fortunes of the state rapidly declined, and most of its outlying provinces were lost. In 1818 Mulraj entered into political relations with the British. Maharawal Salivahan, born in 1887, succeeded to the chiefship in 1891.
The Maharajas of Jaisalmer trace their lineage back to Jaitsimha, a ruler of the Bhatti Rajput clan. The major opponents of the Bhati Rajputs were the powerful Rathor clans of Jodhpur and Bikaner. They used to fight battles for the possession of forts, waterholes or cattle. Jaisalmer was positioned strategically and was a halting point along a traditional trade route traversed by the camel caravans of Indian and Asian merchants. The route linked India to Central Asia, Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Africa and the West.
Jaisalmer was one of the last states to sign a treaty with the British. During the British Raj, Jaisalmer was the seat of a princely state of the same name, ruled by the Bhati clan of Rajputs. The present descendant is Brijraj Singh. Though the city is under the governance of the Government of India, a lot of welfare work is carried out by him and his family. The Royal Family still commands a lot of respect from the people.
Traditionally, the main source of income was the levies on the caravans. However, the glory of Jaisalmer faded when Bombay emerged as a port and the sea trade replaced the traditional land routes. The partition of India in 1947 lead to closing of all the trade routes on the Indo-Pak border and rendered Jaisalmer a drought-prone desert backwater on the international border. Ironically, skirmishes between India and Pakistan gave Jaisalmer a strategic importance and made it serviceable as an army supply depot. Later, the Rajasthan Canal served to revive the surrounding desert areas. Roads and railroads were then built, knitting the hitherto remote town with the rest of Rajasthan. Later, the Government of Rajasthan decided to promote Jaisalmer as a tourist destination.
Built in 1156 by the Bhati Rajput ruler Jaisal, Jaisalmer Fort is situated on Trikuta Hill and had been the scene of many battles. Its massive sandstone walls are a tawny lion colour during the day, turning to a magical honey-gold as the sun sets. The famous Indian film director Satyajit Ray wrote a detective novel and later turned it into a film – Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) which was based on this fort. This is a living fort and about a quarter of city’s population still live inside. The main attractions inside the fort are: Raj Mahal (Royal palace), Jain temples and the Laxminath temple.
Patwon-ki-Haveli: Guman Chand Patwa (and later by his five sons), a wealthy merchant belonging to powerful Oswal Jain community and banker who had over three hundred trading centres from Afghanistan to China. This ornate five-storey complex took fifty years to complete. This is the largest, the most magnificent, and the most elaborate of Jaisalmer havelis.
Haveli Shreenath: Haveli The Vyas family built this lovely haveli Shreenath Palace – Hotel in Jaisalmer in the 15 th Century, and descendants of this family live here today. Shreenath Palace – Hotel in Jaisalmer was once inhabited by the Prime Minister of Jaisalmer, and guest are invited to stay in these rooms – there are only five available for the hotel – and join the Vyas family in enjoying this architectural treasure, and feel like a Maharaja for a few days. Some of the doors and ceilings are wonderful examples of old carved wood from many hundreds of years ago.
Modern day Jaisalmer is a haven for tourists & one of the best places in India to buy souvenirs such as tapestries, camel leather slippers (jutties) & a variety of ornaments. Most of these can be found at Shree Art Palace & the nearby stores inside the first Fort gate.
Manali (alt. 1,950 m or 6,398 ft), in the Beas River valley, is an important hill station in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh, India, near the northern end of the Kullu Valley. It is located about 250 kilometres (155 mi) north of state capital, Shimla.
Manali is named after the Hindu lawgiver Manu. The word Manali is regarded as the changed name of “Manu-Alaya” which literally means “the abode of Manu”. Legend has it that sage Manu stepped off his ark in Manali to recreate human life after a great flood had deluged the world. Manali is also often referred to as the “Valley of the Gods”. The Old Manali village has an ancient temple dedicated to sage Manu
In ancient times, the valley was sparsely populated by nomadic hunters known as ‘rakshas’. The next arrivals were the shepherds who arrived from the Kangra Valley and settled to take up agriculture. Some of the earliest inhabitants of the region are the ‘naur’ or ‘nar’, which is a caste unique to the Kullu valley,only a few naur families are known to exist now.
The British introduced apple trees and trout, which were not native to Manali flora and fauna. It is said that when apple trees were first planted the fruits were so plentiful that often branches, unable to bear the weight, would collapse. To this day, apple—along with plum and pear—remains the best source of income for the majority of its inhabitants.
Tourism in Manali received a boost after the rise of militancy in Kashmir in the late 1980s. This once quiet village was transformed into a bustling town with many hotels and restaurants.
HADIMBA TEMPLE (1 km) : Built in 1533 A.D. with a superbly crafted four tiered pagoda roof, it is famous for its exquisitely carved doorway.
MANU TEMPLE (2 km) : This is dedicated to the sage Manu situated at old Manali.
VASHISTH (3 km) : Well known for its hot springs. There are old temples dedicated to the sage Vashisth and to Lord Rama.
MONASTERIES : There are three recently built Tibetan monasteries at Manali.
JAGATSUKH (6 km) : The one time capital of Kullu. Here are old temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and to Sandhya Gayatri. The Arjun caves are just ahead.
SOLANG VALLEY(14 km) : In a picturesque setting this has good ski slopes and picnic spots.
TOWARDS THE ROHTANG PASS : On the road to Keylong is the Nehru Kund (6km) which is a clear water spring scenic spot named after the Late Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. Kothi (12km) is a picturesque village and has a thrilling view of the deep gorge through which the Beas swiftly races. The beautiful Rahalla falls (16km) are at at altitude of 2500m. A crucial link on the old trade route and still the gateway to Trans Himalayan Lahaul, the Rohtang Pass is at height of 3978 m.
CLUB HOUSE: The Club House with its comprehensive facilities that include a roller skating rink, an auditorium, billiards rooms, a library, a bar and restaurant makes wonderful outing for the day. For the more adventurous Bungee jumping is also provided.
CAFE JUNIPAR : Himachal Tourism also runs the Juniper cafe and Chandratal restaurants at Manali.
Nagar : This is also very beautiful place in manali.
ROHTANG : This is beautiful Snow covered area near by manali, Just 52 Km. from manali.
Manali is administratively a part of the Kullu district, with population of approx. 30,000. The small town was the beginning of an ancient trade route to Ladakh and, from there, over the Karakoram Pass on to Yarkand and Khotan in the Tarim Basin.
Rishikesh, is a city and a municipal board in Dehradun district in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known as The Gateway to the Himalayas. Rishikesh is surrounded by two other districts namely Tehri Garhwal and Pauri Garhwal. The place gets its name after Lord Vishnu who appeared to ‘Raibhya Rishi’ as a result of his tapasya (austerities), as Lord Hrishikesh. In Skanda Purana, this area is known as ‘Kubjamrak’ as Lord Vishnu appeared, under a mango tree. It is located around 25 km north of another holy city, Haridwar. While Rishikesh has a permanent population of merely 60,000 (2001), the city attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and tourists each year, from within India, as well as from other countries. It is a vegetarian city by law, an alcohol-free city, and has also banned the use of plastic bags by shopkeepers and vendors..
The name Rishikesh is loosely applied to an association of five distinct sections encompassing not only the town but also hamlets and settlements on both sides of the river Ganges. These include Rishikesh itself, the commercial and communication hub; the sprawling suburb Muni-ki-Reti or the “sands of the sages”; Shivananda Nagar the home of Sivananda Ashram and the Divine Life Society founded by Swami Sivananda, north of Rishikesh; the temple section of Lakshman Jhula, a little further north; and the assorted Ashrams around Swarg Ashram on the east bank. One can reach the famous Neelakanta Maha Deva Temple from here. The Ganga Arati performed at dusk at the Triveni Ghat is popular with visitors. ‘Neelkanth Mahadev Temple’, situated 28 km from Rishikesh, amidst forest is also a popular local pilgrimage, along with ‘Vasishtha Guha’, (Cave of sage Vasishtha), 21 km up from the town by the Ganges.
Rishikesh has been a part of the legendary ‘Kedarkhand’ (the present day Garhwal). Legends state that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka; and Lakshmana, his younger brother, crossed the river Ganges, at a point, where the present ‘Lakshman Jhula‘ bridge stands today, using a jute rope bridge. The ‘Kedar Khand’ of Skanda Purana, also mentions the existence of Indrakund at this very point. The jute-rope bridge was replaced by iron-rope suspension bridge in 1889, and after it was washed away in the 1924 floods, it was replaced by a stronger present bridge.
The Badrinath area is referred to as Badari or Badarikaashram (बदरिकाश्रम) in Hindu scriptures. It is a place sacred to Vishnu, particularly in Vishnu’s dual form of Nara-Narayana. Thus, in the Mahabharata, Krishna, addressing Arjuna, says, “Thou wast Nara in a former body, and, with Narayana for thy companion, didst perform dreadful austerity at Badari for many myriads of years.”
One legend has it that when the goddess Ganga was requested to descend to earth to help suffering humanity, the earth was unable to withstand the force of her descent. Therefore the mighty Ganga was split into twelve holy channels, with Alaknanda one of them.
The mountains around Badrinath are mentioned in the Mahabharata, when the Pandavas are said to have ended their life by ascending the slopes of a peak in western Garhwal called Swargarohini – literally, the ‘Ascent to Heaven’. Local legend has it that the Pandavas passed through Badrinath and the town of Mana, 4 km north of Badrinath, on their way to Svarga (heaven). There is also a cave in Mana where Vyasa, according to legend, wrote the MahabharataThe area around Badrinath was celebrated in Padma Purana as abounding in spiritual treasures.[
This Mana village, is the last border village of India and beyond this village after a short journey, one will reach the military post and camp of Indian Army.
Legend and history says that, Maharishi Vyasa lived in a cave located here and also Lord Ganesh stayed here for writing the long epic Mahabaratha.
Nearby is cave called Ganesh’s cave where it is said that Ganesh wrote down Mahabharata while Vyasa narrated the story. It is believed that the village was visited by Pandavas on their way to Heaven, after renouncing their kingdom. At the end of the village there is a bridge called Bhima Pul (Bhima’s bridge) which Bhima is said to have made from a huge stone rock, so his brothers and Draupadi could cross the Sarasvati river safely. After leaving Mana Pandava’s continued their journey through a meadow full of flowers before reaching the Vasudhara Falls, this place to everyone with a quote: “Never lose an opportunity to see anything that is beautiful. It is God’s handwriting – a wayside sacrament
From Vasudhara the trail leads to the Lakshmivan, the place where Draupadi is believed to left her body. This dense forest is about 4 km from Vasudhara. A little bit further, at Chakratirtha, Arjuna gave up his body. Beyond Mana, on the way to Vasudhara falls and further you can see many caves and sadhus who live there during the year, without clothes, without food, eating only flour mixed with water and raw potatos. If food is unavailable, they live only on sun and air. For them, the mind is a power, and when controlled and directed, its force and subtlety are apparently unlimited.
After walking across the Chakratirtha meadow and over the steep rise of the glacier the other Pandavas also left this world and only Yudhishtira with his dog, who was Lord Dharma himself, reached Satopanth valley (4, 402 m) where he ascended to the Heaven at the foot of Svargarohan Mountain (7, 898 m]
Satopanth valley and the lake, surrounded by innumerable lotus flowers, are about 18 km from Mana village. Climbing up and down is very dangerous so the guide must be taken for this route. Being part of the Devbhumi, Land of the Gods, this trail will capture your attention at every step and while surrounded with the unlimited beauty of nature you will realise that the most beautiful things cannot be seen or touched, but they can be only felt within the heart.
The destinations mentioned in this article cannot fail to capture the hearts & minds of travellers from all walks of life. Those interested in the history, religions & cultures of India can find a wealth of information where ever they travel, from the source of the sacred River Ganges in the Himalayas to the southernmost tip of India at Kanyakumari.
Predominately Christian Goa is not only a party goer’s paradise for foreign & domestic tourists but offers an insight into India’s colonial past with its Portuguese architecture & food. The influence of French colonisation is still very evident in Pondicherry with its rows of colour washed houses & the sound of French being spoken in the streets. The legacy left by the British can be found the length & breadth of India, from Gothic government buildings in many major cities to western style bungalows in the mountain hill stations.
The southern state of Kerala often referred to as ‘Gods Own Country’ with its beautiful scenery, happy friendly people and ancient Dravidian language, Malayalam derived from Sanskrit attracts tourists from all over the globe.
Many of the places are a haven for writers & artists who come to paint the majestic mountain scenery of the Himalayas & the southern Ghats or gain literal inspiration from the peace & tranquillity of their surroundings.
We have only just touched on the majesty of India with its boundless diversity & wealth of experiences but it is true to say, it is a country that should be at the top of every discerning travellers list.