India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. India’s history and culture is dynamic, spanning back to the beginning of human civilization. It begins with a mysterious culture along the Indus River and in farming communities in the southern lands of India. The history of India is punctuated by constant integration of migrating people with the diverse cultures that surround India.
Incredible India has been imprinted with the heritage, culture right from the Pre-historic Indus Valley Civilization through the ancient Vedic ages followed through with the formation of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, which again was trailed by Sultans, Mughal, & European colonies.
All the above major influences on the Indian soil combined with the various local princely kingdoms had given Vibrant dimensions to the Incredible India. India takes pride in maintaining the harmony among diversities of 22 recognized languages and about 10 major religions.
The meticulously designed Luxury Train Vacations of Deccan Odyssey takes to these vibrant demography’s of Incredible India. Each one of the five Luxury Train Trips of the Deccan Odyssey would be the apt choice for the Tourists yearning for a Luxury Indian Holidays.
The Luxury Tour Circuits India of Maharajas’ Express covers the majestic TAJ MAHAL,Monument of Love, One among the Seven Wonders of the World and which is testimony to the rich Mughal Architecture, VARANASI, One of the world’s ancient cities. As Mark Twain wrote about Varanasi “Older than history, older than tradition, older even that legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”, JODHPUR, the Blue City which happened to be the capital of the former princely state of Marwar, UDAIPUR, the capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Mewar, founded by Maharana Udai Singh and is one of the oldest surviving dynasties in the world, JAIPUR, the Pink City and the Capital of Rajasthan, LUCKNOW, the land of Nawabs and region famous for its rich cuisines and art forms, RANTHAMBORE, home to the Royal Bengal Tiger and other natural habitats, BIKANER, popularly called the Camel Country and famous for its Sand-Dunes, AJANTA, a UNESCO heritage site, Osiyan, referred to as “Khajuraho of Rajasthan” due to the multitude of beautiful Hindu and Jain temples it houses.
These Itineraries of Deccan Odyssey across Incredible India is incorporated with the hand-picked off-board Luxury Excursions of Incredible India.
Join aboard the Deccan Odyssey for an Experience Unsurpassed of Incredible India.
Delhi, India’s capital territory, is a massive metropolitan area in the country’s north. In Old Delhi, a neighborhood dating to the 1600s, stands the imposing Mughal-era Red Fort, a symbol of India, and the sprawling Jama Masjid mosque, whose courtyard accommodates 25,000 people. Nearby is Chandni Chowk, a vibrant bazaar filled with food carts, sweets shops and spice stalls.
Area : 1,484 Sq Kms
Population : 18.98 million
Delhi – The Capital City – is a city that connects two different worlds. Old Delhi is a maze of narrow lanes with old havelis and mosques. Setting a contrast, the colonial city of New Delhi is composed of imposing government buildings and spacious, tree-lined avenues. Delhi has witnessed the supremacy of many rulers and kingdoms. The city was built, destroyed and then rebuilt many a times. Fascinatingly, various rulers Delhi, played a dual role, first as demolishers and then as makers.
The importance of Delhi is not constrained to the majestic history and magnificent structures, but also in the rich cultural diversity of the city. Chroniclers of Delhi Culture, right from Amir Khusro and Chand Bardai to present day writers, have never witnessed a shortage of topics. The city is dotted with dazzling gems, which include captivating ancient monuments, art galleries & museums, architectural wonders, fabulous eating places and vibrant markets.
Delhi has served as a India’s political hub, thus, roots of every political activity could easily be traced here. This legacy has been followed since the mythological era. Indraprastha, which geographically is believed to be the present Delhi, was the capital of the Pandavas of the Mahabharata.
As the history of Delhi is as ancient as the epic Mahabharata, earlier known as Indraprastha, eight more cities, adjacent to Indraprastha, came into light such as Lal Kot, Dinpanah, Ferozabad, Tughlakabad, Siri, Quila Rai Pithora, Jahanpanah, and Shahjahanabad. Over 5 centuries, Delhi has been a spectator to the political turmoil. In succession to Tughlaqs and Khiljis, Delhi was ruled by the Mughals.
The traditional & present capital of India is not only recognized as the largest commercial center in Northern India, but has also marked its prominence as the largest center of small industries. The economy of Delhi is contributed by the IT sector, fashion, electronic, handloom, and textile industry. From October to March are the months to visit Delhi as the climatic condition is favorable. Along with this, the visitors also get the opportunity to witness the vibrant colors of festivals in Incredible Delhi.
Jaipur, popular as “Pink City”, is known for housing some of the best architectural structures and heritage sights of the country. Everything in and around the city appears like the watermark of the rich heritage of the city in the erstwhile days. The local handicrafts, the ancient monuments, the Royal Palaces and the colorful saris, everything around Jaipur give a glimpse into the glorious lives of monarchy.
Area:111.8 sq. km
Established on: November 18, 1727
Founded by: Jai Singh II
Planned by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, Jaipur holds the distinction of being the first planned city of India. He designed the city according to strong scientific principles of Shilpa Shastra, the traditional architectural manual and helped in forming Jaipur as India’s best planned city till date.
Renowned globally for its coloured gems, the capital city of Rajasthan combines the allure of its ancient history with all the advantages of a metropolis. The bustling modern city is one of the three corners of the golden triangle that includes Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
The story goes that in 1876, the Prince of Wales visited India on a tour. Since the colour pink was symbolic of hospitality, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the entire city pink. The pink that colours the city makes for a marvellous spectacle to behold. Jaipur rises up majestically against the backdrop of the forts Nahargarh, Jaigarh and Garh Ganesh Temple.
Jaipur traces back its origins to 1727 when it was established by Jai Singh II, the Raja of Amber. He shifted his capital from Amber to the new city because of the rapidly-growing population and an increasing water scarcity. His rivalry with rulers of Mewar, Sisodia Rajputs formed his alliance with Mughals and gave him importance in Rajasthan.
He ruled from Amber Fort and took over Mewar (Udaipur) and Marwar (Jodhpur) kingdoms. He tried to support Aurangzeb’s son Azam Shah to get the throne after Aurangzeb’s death, but it went to Bahadur Shah, who asked for his banishment from courts.
Jai Singh then formed alliance with other Rajput clans and defeated Mughals and reinstated his position.Jai Singh ordered construction of a city around Amber fort and named it as Jaipur.
Jaipur – The Modern City
There is no doubt in one’s mind why the Pink city is included in almost every itinerary when one plans a tour to India. Jaipur is a city like no other in the world.
The city of Jaipur definitely makes it to the top of the list if one talks about India’s most beautiful destination. The city which acted as the stronghold of varied erstwhile rulers of Rajasthan, the city is flushed with numerous heritage buildings all around itself. The city boasts about treating tourists from all over the world with traditional Royal hospitality.
The city of Jaipur is located right in the center of Thar Desert, and it is this strategic location that has provided her with a unique sense of lifestyle, architecture, culture and history.
Jaipur is ideal when it comes to shopping activities. Tourists travel from faraway lands to this exotic destination and use the opportunity smartly to shop for authentic Rajasthani ornaments, artifacts, embroidered shoes and clothes, pottery items and other exotic items.
Apart from shopping, Jaipur has other things to offer to tourists as well. The Jaipur fairs, pageants and festivals flushed with exceptional people in colorful clothes are as much a spectacle as the shops, houses and Havelis in the city that are all painted in Pink.
Walking around the old city, seeing the magnificent architecture of the town, feeding on the authentically cooked Jaipur cuisines, is just a magical experience. Truly this city is marked for some of the best sightseeing ventures.
The traditional outfit of Jaipur people is very appealing and one definitely would love to try them on himself/herself. For men, the outfit is white colored shirts and dhotis along with spectacularly colored turbans. For women, the colorful swaying saris are perfect.
Right in this magical demonstration of colors, Jaipur houses some of the best tourist attractions. These attractions showcase the significance of the rich cultural aspects of Jaipur. A tour to some of these attractions is an experience of a lifetime.
Area: 5042.99 sq km
Founded by: Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I of Jaipur
Founded in: 1756
Location: Around 146 km north-east of Jaipur
GATEWAY TO RANTHAMBORE
Cuddled up in the eastern zone of Rajasthan, Sawai Madhopur is one of the prominent conurbations of Rajasthan. Popularly known as the ‘Gateway to Ranthambore’, the town has seen many historic episodes and reigns. Sawai Madhopur has partly plain and partly undulating hilly terrain. The South and south east part of the district has hills and broken ground which form a part of a vast track of rugged region enclosing the narrow valley of the Chambal river. Surrounded by Vindhyas & Aravalis, this place is a treat for adventure enthusiasts as well as the ones with a fascination for history, with the Ranthambore National park- the most renowned national park in northern India and the Ranthambore Fort which was recently included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, being the main attractions.
Passed on from the Chauhan Rajput king, Govinda to Vagabhatta, from RanaKumbha to Akbar and Aurangzeb, the city has been patronized by almost all the rulers. Beautification and renovation of the city has been regularly undertaken in almost all the regimes. Under the rule of Rao Hammir, the last Chauhan ruler the Ranthambore region prospered magnificently. In ancient India the region was more popularly known as Ranthambore. It was much later that it received the name, Sawai Madhopurfrom Maharaja SawaiMadhoSinghji I who is believed to have given the city its current plan in 1765 AD. During the British Rule Sawai Man Singh built a railway line between Jaipur and Sawai Madhopur. As a result it became accessible from a central spot in the state of Rajasthan. Today it has grown as one of the popular tourist destination in India.
Former state of Karauli, Ranthambore was amongst the strongest forts of medieval India and is linked to Prithviraj, the ruler of Shakambhari who has golden cupolas put on the Jain temple of Ranthambore. To check the increasing incurious of the Marathas, Madho Singh, the ruler of Jaipur State requested for the grant of the fort of Ranthambore but did not succeed.
One of the most popular cities in Rajasthan, Udaipur is quite famous for its lakes and palaces. Known as ‘Jewel of Mewar’, this city was founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1553, on the banks of Lake Pichola. Claimed as the most romantic city of the royal state of Rajasthan, it is one of the prime destinations of the week-long journey of the Palace on Wheels. Udaipur boasts of picturesque locations and scenic surroundings offering an amazing vacation option for discerning travellers. Today, it is a perfect mix of old-world charm and contemporary attractions.
Area : 64 sq. km
Established On : In year 1553
Founded by : Maharana Udai Singh
Location : On the Southern End of the Aravalli ranges
THE CITY OF LAKES AND PALACES
Often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’, the city of lakes Udaipur is located around azure water lakes and is hemmed in by lush green hills of Aravallis. The famous Lake Palace, located in the middle of Lake Pichola is one of the most beautiful sights of Udaipur. It is also home to Jaisamand Lake, claimed to be the second largest man-made sweet water lake in Asia. The beautiful City Palace and Sajjangarh (Monsoon Palace) add to the architectural beauty and grandeur of the city. The city is also known for its profusion of zinc and marble. Solar observatory in Lake Fateh Sagar is the only observatory in India located on an island and has been made on the pattern of Big Bear Lake in Southern California. The ten-day Shilpgram Festival which starts from 21 Dec to 30 Dec pulls in a large number of people interested in arts and crafts.
Udaipur was founded in 1553 by Maharana Udai Singh II as the new capital of Mewar Kingdom. It is located in the fertile, circular Girwa Valley to the southwest of Nagda, which was the first capital of Mewar.
Jodhpur is the second largest city of Rajasthan and a major tourist attraction in the country. Situated at the edge of the Thar Desert, it was founded by Rajput chief Rao Jodha in the year 1459. The erstwhile capital of the kingdom of Marwar, Jodhpur is dotted with a number of tourist attractions including forts, palaces, museums, and much more. Also known as the ‘Blue City’ or the ‘Sun City’, it is strategically placed on the road that links Delhi to the western Indian state of Gujarat.
Area : 112.40 square km
Established On :1459
Founded By : Rao Jodha, chief of the Rathore clan
Location : Located towards the west of Jaipur (Distance: 338 km)
A DELIGHTFUL BLEND OF THE MODERN AND THE TRADITIONAL
Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan is popularly known as the Blue City. The name is clearly befitting as most of the architecture – forts, palaces, temples, havelis and even houses are built in vivid shades of blue. The strapping forts that tower this magnificent city sum up to a spectacle you would not want to miss. The mammoth, imposing fortress of Mehrangarh has a landscape dominating a rocky ridge with the eight gates leading out of the fortress. The new city is located outside the structure. Jodhpur is also known for the rare breed of horses known as Marwari or Malani, which are only found here.
Jodhpur marks its origin back to the year of 1459 AD. The history of this prosperous city revolves around the Rathore clan. Rao Jodha, the chief of Rathore Clan is credited with the origin of Jodhpur in India. The city is known to be built in place of the ancient capital, Mandore of the state of Manwar. Hence, the people of Jodhpur and surrounding areas are commonly known as Marwaris. Also, it is believed that the relics of Mandore can still be witnessed in the Mandore Gardens.
The Mughal City of Agra, fondly referred to as the city of the Taj, is one of the most well-known tourist destinations, all around the globe. Agra is placed on the western banks of the Yamuna also called the city of Taj Mahal is the perfect finale to your royal sojourn. Agra, the medieval city, is home to a number of tourist attractions including UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Area : 1, 880.40 km2
Established On : 1475
Founded By : Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king
Location : On the banks River Yamuna towards the southwest corner of Uttar Pradesh state
The great Hindu epic Mahabharata mentions Agra, as Agraban, a forest near Mathura. However, Agra was founded by 1475 by Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king. Sultan Sikander Lodi made Agra his capital in 1501 but he was defeated in battle of Panipat in 1526 by Emperor Babur. Between the mid of 16th and the 17th century, Agra’s popularity was at its zenith when it was under the rule of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. This period was the time of construction of Taj Mahal also.
In the year 1761, Agra came into the hands of Jat rulers who also looted some of the most beautiful temples of the city. While in 1770, it was under the reign of the Marathas, the British took over in 1803. After the revolt of 1857, Allahabad became the administrative province of the British and Agra was left on its own. This is when; it developed as a hub of heavy industry. Today Agra is a must-visit destination for all.
The Agra city is inhabited by people of all religions and cultures and so one can witness a mix of various cultures here. Agra is an amalgamation of traditional and modern way of living. Being close to Lord Krishna’s land Mathura, a touch of Brij culture can be seen here on the language of the locals. However, the influence of Mughal culture can be seen in everything, mannerisms, food, language and buildings.
The people of Agra celebrate all the major festivals such as Diwali, Holi, Taj Mahoysav, Muharrum, Id-ul-Fitr, Id-ul-Adha with great zeal Taj Mahotsav, an annual extravaganza, is a great show of classical dance and music, folk performances, poetry, camel and elephant rides, a food festival, a Craft Mela and more.
Agra has a lot to offer if you are one of those who love to indulge in shopping. You can get your hands on mini Taj replicas, as keepsakes and souvenirs. Another item which is a must-buy in Agra is its leather goods such as decorative stuff, bags, purses, sandals and much more. Be careful that you buy only original goods. The handicraft emporiums of Agra sell an array of rosewood and sandalwood items, stone-carved images and decorative pieces, made in brass.
One of the most sought-after items, which you can buy in Agra markets, is beautiful pieces of exquisite Zari work. You also get good-quality carpets and durries here as well. However, the most popular amidst the tourists are the local renditions of Dal Moth (salty) and Peetha (sweet). Some of the famous markets in Agra are Sadar Bazaar, The Taj Complex, Loha Mandi, Raja Mandi, Kinari Bazaar, and Fuhaara.
Lying in the north of the desert State, the city is dotted with scores of sand dunes. Bikaner retains the medieval grandeur that permeates the city’s lifestyle. More readily called the camel country, the city is distinguished for the best riding camels in the world and hence boasts of having one of the largest Camel Research and Breeding farms in the world. The ship of the desert is an inseparable part of life here.
The history of Bikaner dates back to 1486 when a Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji founded his kingdom. Bikaji was one the five sons of Rao Jodhaji the illustrious founder of Jodhpur. But Rao Bikaji was the most adventurous of them. It is said that an insensitive remark from his father about his whispering in the Durbar provoked Bikaji to set up his own kingdom towards the north of Jodhpur. The barren wilderness called Jangladesh became his focul point and he transformed it into an impressive city. He accomplished this task with 100 cavalry horses and 500 soldiers, and established his kingdom on 84 villages . When Bikaji died in 1504 his rule had extended to over 3000 villages.
The strategic location of Bikaner on the ancient caravan routes that came from West/Central Asia made it a prime trade centre in those times. Bikaner stands on a slightly raised ground and is circumscribed by a seven km long embattledwall with five gates. The magnificent forts and palaces, created with delicacy in reddish-pink sandstone, bear testimony to its rich historical and architectural legacy. Surging lanes, colourful bazaars with bright and cheerful folks make Bikaner an interesting experience.
Modern Bikaner is the result of the foresight of its most eminent ruler Maharaja Ganga Singh (1887-1943) whose reformative zeal set the pace for Bikaner transformation from a principality to a premier princely state.
BHANDESWAR JAIN TEMPLE
Bhandeswar Jain Temple is a fifteenth century temple and is the oldest monument of Bikaner. The temple is decorated with rich mirror work, frescoes and gold leaf paintings.
Deshnok is a small village situated 32 km south of Bikaner city along the Jodhpur Road. It is connected by national highway and rail. It is a pilgrim centre of Karni Mata said to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga-who lived here in the fourteenth century and performed many miracles. Originally, the village was called ‘dus-nok’ meaning ten corners as it was formed by taking ten corners of ten villages.
In front of the temple is a beautiful marble facade, which has solid silver doors built by Maharaja Ganga Singh. Across the doorway are more silver doors with panels depicting the various legends of the Goddess. The image of the Goddess is enshrined in the inner sanctum.
Gajner is an incomparable jewel in the Thar. It was built by the great Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner on the embankment of a lake with a generous dose of flora and fauna. Basically a hunting and relaxing lodge, the maharaja and the family shared their passion with their exclusive guests and hosted exotic holidays for them. Around the palace is a thick forestation that encourages the guests to go for a simple walk admiring the migratory birds in winter like imperial sand grouse, antelopes, black bucks and the animal species that wander around in the form of Nilgais, chinkaras, deers etc. The hotel is spread over a large area, and the ambience around is as raw and authentic as it was before.
It is an unassailable fortress, which had never been conquered. Built in 1593 A.D. by Raja Rai Singh, one of the most distinguished generals in the army of Emperor Akbar, the fort is a formidable structure encircled by a moat.
The main entrance to the fort is Karan Pol [gate] that is facing east. Next to it is the Suraj Pol meaning the sun gate. In the fort complex are some magnificent palaces like Anup Mahal, Ganga Niwas and Rang Mahal or palace of pleasure. The Har Mandir is the majestic chapel for the royal family for worshipping their gods and goddesses. These palaces, constructed in red sandstone and marble, make a picturesque ensemble of courtyards, balconies, kiosks and windows dotted all over the structure. The premises also house a museum, which has an array of rich collection.
This grand palace is an architectural masterpiece in red sandstone, and was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the memory of his father Maharaja Lall Singh in 1902. Sir Swinton Jacob designed this oriental fantasy. This architecture is a fusion of Rajput, Mughal and European architecture. The exterior contrasts dramatically with the oriental interiors and amenities. The palace has beautiful latticework and filigree work, which are the hallmarks of great craftsmanship.The Palace has an amazing collection of well maintained paintings and hunting trophies. Sprawling lawns with blooming bougainvillaea and dancing peacocks make for a visual extravaganza.
Spend a day with the indispensable ship of the desert at the camel research and breeding centres which is only one of its kinds in Asia. The farm extends over 2000 acres of semi arid land and is managed by the Government of India.
Mumbai, the city that never sleeps! Pulsating, Alive, On the Move, Vibrant, Fun – this is Mumbai or as it is still frequently referred to – Bombay. The most modern city in India, it captures the spirit of the changing pace set by liberalization and modernisation. Once a cluster of seven islands, Mumbai was presented to King Charles II in 1661 as part of the dowry when he married Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal.
History – A Glorious Heritage
The Hindu Rule
Originally, the seven islands were a part of the kingdom of Ashoka. After Ashoka’s demise, countless rulers of the Silahara dynasty took over until the Kingdom of Gujarat annexed the islands in 1343 AD and remained such till 1543 AD.
In 1543 AD, the Portuguese seized the isles from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and they remained in their control until 1661. Following this period, the isles were ceded as dowry to Catherine de Braganza when she married Charles II of England. He, in turn, leased the isles to the East India Company during their colonization in 1668 and that’s when the city was named Bombay. In a matter of seven years, the population of the city rose from a mere 10,000 to 60,000 in 1675. After the population in the city began to grow, the East India Company officially transferred their headquarters from Surat to the new city called Bombay.
Mumbai is the business capital of India and is also one on the largest cities in the country. The present population of Mumbai is estimated to be millions and is still growing. Not many know however, how the population grew or how the city got its status as the commercial capital of India. The insight into the history of this glorious city is the answer to its inspiriting beginnings and eminence around the world.
CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI TERMINUS (VICTORIA TERMINUS)
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus in Mumbai, is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is the westernmost end point of the Central Railways of India. It is also the southern end point of the central and harbour lines of Mumbai’s metropolitan rail transport system. A large section of the building is given over to administrative functions of the Central Railways, including commercial operations such as railway reservations. A magnificent building, completed in 1888, the Victoria Terminus was named after the then Queen Empress (Queen Victoria) on Jubilee Day, 1887. Construction started in 1878 based on a design by F. W. Stevens, and took 10 years to complete. The cost of construction was Rs. 16.14 lakhs (Rs. 1.614 million). The railway station was opened to the public on New Year’s Day, 1882. It is now the starting point of the Central Railways.
The south-western part of the building is topped by a dome holding up a statue of Progress. It is an early example of a uniquely Bombay style of architecture which emerged when British architects worked with Indian craftsmen to include Indian architectural tradition and idioms.
When the building was first used it held not only railway functionaries such as the accounts, chief engineer and traffic manager but also other municipal offices such as the superintendent of the police. Curiously, railway tickets were also printed in the same building.
The Victoria Terminus was renamed Chhatrapati Sivaji Terminus on March 4, 1996. It was put on the UNESCO World Heritage List on July 2, 2004. It is the first functional administrative building to be put on this list. Unfortunately, some of the lovely carvings are at such an awkward height that you can only get a close view from the top deck of a passing double-decker bus.
FLORA FOUNTAIN AND THE GOTHIC/VICTORIAN BUILDINGS OF THE FORT AREA
The Flora Fountain stands on the site of the old church gate of the Bombay Fort, now a major crossroad named Hutatma Chowk. It was erected to honour Sir Bartle Frere, a former governor of Bombay and named after the Greek goddess Flora. Other buildings to see in the Fountain or Fort area are the University of Mumbai buildings including the imposing Rajabhai Tower, the Mumbai High Court, the Old Secretariat, and the Institute of Science on one end. Close by are situated St Thomas Cathedral, the Asiatic Society of Bombay or Town Hall, the Office of the Director General of Police, the General Post Office and the Thomas Cook building.
The Western Railway Headquarters is also quite near, across the street from the Churchgate Station. These buildings are fine examples of the Gothic and Indo-Saracenic style. Many are illuminated by night. An exotic way of seeing these sights would be by the MTDC open-air bus or by the few surviving Victorias or buggy rides.
GATEWAY OF INDIA
Mumbai’s most striking monument, this too was designed by George Wittet. It has an imposing gateway arch in the Indo-Saracenic style with Gujarati and Islamic elements such as wooden carvings. It was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India in 1911. This area is also the departing point for ferries plying to Elephanta Island and other beaches across the port. Behind it is the beautiful heritage structure of the Taj Mahal Hotel.
GLOBAL VIPASSANA PAGODA
Global Vipassana Pagoda is the World’s Largest Pillar-less dome with a capacity to seat 8,000 meditators. In it are also enshrined Buddha’s genuine relics, thus becoming the first such pagoda in India after King Ashoka’s era. In a beautiful and natural setting, surrounded by sea on three sides and atop a hillock, this architectural marvel announces the renewed possibility of learning Vipassana meditation once again, in the same pure and effective form as Buddha taught it 2,600 years ago.The Pagoda radiates peace and harmony and encourages one and all to learn Vipassana to transform oneself into a peaceful,powerful and pure person , based on the experience of millions around the world. It is decorated with Burmese facade to show gratitude to the Burmese Master Ven Sayagyi U Ba Khin who inspired Vipassana revival in the world. Only a world that has peaceful individuals can be a peaceful place, is the Vipassana Pagoda’s message to the world.
HAJI ALI SHRINE
Further along the seashore, at the end of a long pathway surrounded by seawater is the shrine dedicated to Haji Ali, a Muslim saint. Access is only at low tide via the pathway.
This is essentially an up-market residential area with some spectacular views of the city surroundings. On the road climbing up, is a Jain temple dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain tirthankara. At one end, on the top are the Hanging Gardens (Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens) and the Kamala Nehru Park. Both provide relaxing atmospheres of greenery. Beside the Hanging Gardens are the Parsi Towers of Silence. But these are off-limits to all except those who have come to dispose and pay respect to the dead.
This simple and charming museum was where Mahatma Gandhi lived on his visits to Mumbai between 1917 and 1934. Gandhi’s room and belongings including his books are on display. Mani Bhavan is situated on Laburnam Road, near the August Kranti Maidan, where the ‘Quit India’ movement was launched in 1942. Open daily from 9.30 am to 6 pm.
MARINE DRIVE AND CHOWPATTY BEACH
Chowpatty Beach is a teeming mass of people, vendors, masseurs and roadside restaurants with its specialties being bhelpuri and kulfi. Across the Chowpatty Beach area is the Taraporewala Aquarium. Marine Drive is also referred to as the Queen’s Necklace because of the dramatic line of street lamps lit up at night. For the most part, a pleasant promenade continues along the beach.
NATIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN ART (NGMA)
This is the former Cowasji Jehangir Hall, of the Institute of Science. It has been renovated to serve as a four-storey exhibition hall, displaying the best of Indian contemporary art. Open daily except Monday, from 10 am to 5 pm.
PRINCE OF WALES MUSEUM
This is one of Mumbai’s finest example of Victorian architecture. Built to commemorate King George V’s visit to Mumbai (while still Prince of Wales), it was designed by George Wittet and completed in 1923. It is undoubtedly one of India’s finest museums and houses treasures, artefacts, paintings and sculpture from the many periods covering India’s history, including the Indus Valley Civilization. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30 am to 6 pm.
Baroda or ‘Vadodara’, the original name of Baroda means ‘set in the womb of the banyan trees’. Once the capital of the princely Gaekwads, Vadodara is a graceful city of palaces, parks, temples, museums and art galleries. It has a public park with a museum, a picture gallery and a zoo covering 60 hectares on the banks of the Vishvamitri.
Location:110 Kms from Ahmedabad
Languages:Hindi, English and Gujrati
Temperature:March to June 42℃ (Max), 25℃ (Min) – November to February 30℃ (Max), 12℃(Min)
Popular As:City of Gaekwads
To See:Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, Champaner, Pawagarh
Festival:Navratri – Nine day festival in the month of Mar – Apr and Sep – Oct, Dussehera – Celebrated in the month of Oct – Nov
The village of Ajanta is in the Sahyadri hills, about 99 kms, from Aurangabad; a few miles away in a mammoth horseshoe rock, are 30 caves overlooking a gorge, `each forming a room in the hill and some with inner rooms. All these have been carved out of solid rock with little more than a hammer and chisel and the faith and inspiration of Buddhism. Here, for the Buddhist monks, the artisans excavated Chaityas (chapels) for prayer and Viharas (monasteries) where they lived and taught. Many of the caves have the most exquisite detailed carvings on the walls, pillars and entrances as well as magnificent wall paintings.
The 30 caves of Ajanta were created over a span of some 600 years.
These caves were discovered by an Army Officer in the Madras Regiment of the British Army in 1819 during one of his hunting expeditions. Instantly the discovery became very famous and Ajanta attained a very important tourist destination in the world. The caves, famous for its murals, are the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting. “
These caves are excavated in horse-shoe shaped bend of rock surface nearly 76 m in height overlooking a narrow stream known as Waghora. The location of this valley provided a calm and serene environment for the Buddhist monks who retreated at these secluded places during the rainy seasons. This retreat also provided them with enough time for furthering their religious pursuits through intellectual discourses for a considerably longer period.
Caves 9 & 10 : Chaitya Halls or shrines
Caves 12 & 13 : Viharas or monasteries
Phase II: 5 th century AD to 6 th century AD
Caves 19,26 & 29 : Chaitya Halls or shrines
Caves 1-7, 11, 14-18, 20-25, 27 & 28 : Viharas or monasteries
3, 5, 8, 23-25, 28 & 2
In all, total 30 excavations were hewn out of rock which also include an unfinished one. Out of these, five (cave no. 9, 10, 19, 26, and 29) are chaityagrihas and the rest are viharas. In date and style also, these caves can be divided into two broad groups. The earliest excavations belong to the Hinayana phase of Buddhism . These caves are datable to the pre-Christian era, the earliest among them being Cave 10 dating from the second century B.C. The object of worship is a stupa here and these caves exhibit the imitation of wooden construction to the extent that the rafters and beams are also sculpted even though they are non-functional.
The world famous paintings at Ajanta also fall into two broad phases. The earliest is noticed in the form of fragmentary specimens in cave nos. 9 & 10, which are datable to second century B.C.
The 30 caves of Ajanta were created over a span of some 600 years.
The second phase of paintings started around 5th – 6th centuries A.D. and continued for the next two centuries. The specimen of these exemplary paintings of Vakataka period could be noticed in cave nos. 1, 2, 16 and 17. The variation in style and execution in these paintings also are noticed, mainly due to different authors of different time periods.
It is worth walking away from the caves in order to look back on to the horseshoe gorge. The ingenuous water cistern system can be seen which must have provided water for the monks and their visitors. Ajanta was on the ancient trade route leading to the coast so there must have been considerable activity and many visitors. Nobody really knows what life was like in those times and visitors can interpret the past as they wish, which is perhaps yet another secret charm of Ajanta.
Shirdi, a small village, is located at a distance of 100 km from Nashik (Nasik) in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. The village is one of the revered pilgrimage centers in India. The village was the abode of the great saint of the 20th century, Sai Baba. For more than 50 years the saint lived in the village. He had made this small town be recognized as the popular pilgrimage site for devotees. Moreover, the village experiences huge footfall throughout the year and from all parts of the globe. The entire region of the village is in one or the other way associated with the saint. In 1918, when the said left for heavenly abode, his Samadhi in Shirdi is visited by tourists even today.
Gurusthan is the place that is popular as the saint came to the village as a Bal Yogi. A small shrine and a temple are also featured in the region. The streets also feature shops that sell Sai Baba record of his life. Reaching this holy destination is easy for any visitors. Thus, proper road connectivity is also available to reach the Shirdi Village.
Nashik is a unique blend of civilization& modernization. This City of temples is one of the holiest places for Hindus inviting thousands of tourist every year. Scenic beauty of Sahyadri range of mountains merged with vineyards & agricultural yields (Highest in India) and a busy hub of industrial activities. With the onset of monsoons and the start of Kumbhmela, Nashik is a paradise for tourists with Historical Caves,Temples, holy rituals, museums, wet lands and lots more.
Location:171 kms from Mumbai
Languages:Hindi, English and Marathi
Temperature:March to June 46℃ (Max), 21℃ (Min) – November to February 29℃ (Max), 12℃(Min)
Popular As:Wine capital of India
To See:Trimbakeshwar, Pandu leni, Godavari Ghat,Vineyards
Festival:Diwali (Oct/Nov), Kumbh Mela (Aug/Sept)
Ratnagiri is one of many premiere tourist destinations in Maharashtra. With some of the most beautiful beaches, Ratnagiri is also home to historic monuments and serene temples. A port city on the Arabian Sea coast in Southwestern Maharashtra, Ratnagiri is bordered by the Sahyadris to the east; and receives heavy rainfall which results in a highly eroded landscape in the coastal region, but fertile alluvial valleys in the region produce abundant rice, coconuts, cashew nuts, and fruits, “Hapus” (Alphonso) mangoes being one of the main fruits. Fishing is an important industry in Ratnagiri.
Location:330 Kms from Mumbai
Languages:Hindi, English and Marathi
Temperature:March to June 40 Degree (Max), 25 Degree (Min) – November to February 21 Degree (Max), 16 Degree (Min), heavy monsoons from June to late August/early September
To See:Ganpatiphule temple, Bhatye beach
Festival:Ganesh festival, turtle festival.
“KOLHAPUR” LAND OF MAGNIFICENT TEMPLES
Situated in the bank of the river Panchaganga, a host of mythological stories have been woven around the city of Kolhapur. According to one legend, the city was built by a demon who was later slain down by Goddess Mahalaxmi to save the inhabitants of the city. Housing the Maharashtra film industry, the city of Kolhapur is credited as the place where the first feature film in India, Raja Harishchandra was conceptualized.
The Kolhapuri footwear, jewels and tobacco are exported all around the world and from these the government generates a large portion of revenue of the state. The city is also a buzzing pilgrim hub where thousands of believers make their sacred tour to the Mahalaxmi Temple of the city. Gifted with incredible archeological and cultural heritage, the city of Kolhapur is certainly a precious jewel in the crown of India.
Kolhapur, the land of magnificent temples, is the religious pride of Maharashtra. Nested in the tranquil laps of the Sahyadri mountain ranges, it is situated on the banks of the river Panchganga. Also termed as a city of palaces and gardens, it is a historic Maratha city, with the Mahalakshmi temple forming the focus. Arts, aristocracy and graciousness, combined with culture stepped in spiritualism, education and modernization.
Location:450 kms from Mumbai
Languages:Hindi, English and Marathi
Temperature:March to June 34℃ (Max), 24℃ (Min) – November to February 27℃ (Max), 21℃(Min)
To See:Mahalakshmi temple, New Palace Museum, Town Hall Museum, Rankala
Festival:Gudi padva in April, Navratri in Sept/October
Goa’s history goes back to 20,000-30,000 years. The rock art engravings exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India. Upper Paleolithic or Mesolithic rock art engravings have been found on the bank of the river Kushavati at Usgalimal. Petroglyphs, cones, stone-axe, and choppers dating to 10,000 years ago have been found in many places in Goa, such as Kazur, Mauxim, and the Mandovi-Zuari basin. Evidence of Palaeolithic life is seen at Dabolim, Adkon, Shigao, Fatorpa, Arli, Maulinguinim, Diwar, Sanguem, Pilerne, and Aquem-Margaon etc. Difficulty in carbon dating the laterite rock compounds poses problems in determination of exact time period.
Languages:Goa is a multilingual state thanks to its colourful history of thousands of years which has seen people of various regions, ethnic races and religions from India and abroad settling in Goa and influencing the local language. Konkani is the mother tongue of Goans, while Marathi too is widely spoken.
Temperature:March to June 31℃ (Max), 23℃ (Min) – November to February 30℃ (Max), 20℃(Min)
Popular As:City of beaches
To See:Ancestral Goa Museum/Big Foot, Chapora Fort, Fort Aguada.
Festival:Goa Carnival – celebrated in the month of February.
The Pench National Park is located at the base of the Satpura mountain range and is named after the Pench river that flows north to south, dividing the park in almost equal eastern and western halves. A gorgeous park with water springs, seasonal water bodies and rich biodiversity, Pench is inhabited by a profusion of flora and fauna, including aquatic mammals and several endangered species. Regularly seen species here include nilgais, sambars and cheetals, with fewer numbers of tigers, wild dogs, sloth bears and jackals.
Location:70 Kms from Nagpur Airport and Railway Station
Languages:Hindi, English, Marathi
Temperature:March to June 40℃ (Max), 30℃ (Min) – November to February 32℃ (Max), 20℃(Min)
Popular As:Mogli Land
To See:Rich biodiversity, Cheetals, Sambars & Nilgais
Festival:Ganesh Chaturhi – Celebrated in the month of Sep or Oct
Tadoba Andhari Reserve is the largest national park in Maharashtra.It is one of India’s 43 “Project Tiger” – Tiger reservesThe name ‘Tadoba’ is the name of the God “Tadoba” or “Taru”, praised by the tribal people who live in the dense forests of the Tadoba and Andhari region, while the Andhari River that meanders through the forest. gives the ‘Andhari’ name
“TADOBA” THE JEWEL OF VIDHARBA
Tadoba, the natural heritage of India, is bestowed with rich biodiversity. The tiger reserve is spread over an area of 625.40 sq km, and is located in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. With distinctive eco-system, the destination has been one of the Project Tiger Reserves in India. Conservation and protection of Tigers was the major purpose of forming the Tadoba Tiger Reserve. Established in 1995, Tadoba is the 2nd tiger reserve in the state of Maharashtra.
The region has rich vegetation of Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest and home to various Flora species, namely Teak, Bija, Ain, Dhauda, Salai, Haldu, Tendu, Semal, and Bamboo. The tiger reserve also provides shelter to various animals apart from tiger. The list of Fauna species includes Leopard, Gaur, Sloth Bear, Rusty Spotted Cat, Indian Mouse Deer, Ratel, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, Sambar, Four-Horned Antelope, Flying Squirrel, Wild Dog, and many more.
Location:140 kms from Nagpur
Languages:Hindi, English and Marathi
Temperature:March to June 47℃ (Max), 27℃ (Min) – November to February 36℃ (Max), 29℃(Min)
To See:Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve
“SANCHI” UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
Sanchi, a small village in Madhya Pradesh, is situated at a distance of 46 km from Bhopal. The village has acquired worldwide recognition as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. With a tour to sanchi, the Madhya Pradesh Tourism receives a momentum. Moreover, the village also serves testimony of Gupta architecture, together with the Buddhists ruins.
Along with propagating Buddhist principles, the village also catered as an administrative spot in supporting the growth of the religious discourse throughout India. The village also houses various attractions that make a memorable sightseeing tour. Do not miss to visit the Sanchi Stupa, Ashoka Pillar, Sanchi Museum, The Eastern Gateway, The Great Bowl and more.
Aihole is popularly dubbed as ‘Cradle of Indian Architecture’, due to numerous temples dotted throughout the village. For visitors, wanting to explore the rich heritage and architectural brilliance, should visit Aihole. The village beautifully holds the charm of yesteryears. Among the temples, there are a few that date back to the 5th and 6th century.
In this temple town, the temples are split into various groups. The historians gave categorized these 125 temples in 22 groups, out of which Galaganatha and Kontigudi are popular.
Thus, the temple attracts tourists who have major interest in history and architecture. The temple village also showcases the sine specimen of Chalukyan architecture in India. Some of the must visit temples in the village are The Lad Khan Temple, Durga Fort Temple, Hutchimalli Temple, Buddhist Temple, Jain Meguthi Temple, Huchappayyagudi Temple, and Ravalphadi Temple. Moreover, with rich architectural structures, the village has the potential to get included amongst the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
DAULATABAD 14TH CENTURY FORT CITY IN MAHARASHTRA
Formerly known as Deogiri, Daulatabad was the erstwhile capital of Tughlaq dynasty under the rule of Muhammad Bin Tughluq. The city is most famous for its formidable hill fort standing on a conical hill. Even after hundreds of years of its construction, this giant hill fort is standing as a symbol of strength and power in the vicinity of Daulatabad. Many folklores and stories related to the Tughlaq dynasty turn Daulatabad into a mystical place for the visitors.
The city of Daulatabad also offers enchanting scenic views to the travelers. The city is of utmost importance to the people who love to delve into the world history. The Chand Minar and the Chini Mahal also catch the eye of the travelers who visit the city of Daulatabad.
“SINDHUDURG” A MÉNAGE OF NATURE
Established in the year 1981, Sindhudurg is a district town in the city of Maharashtra which was carved out of the erstwhile Ratnagiri District. This small district town is a sight to behold place blessed with beaches, backwaters, waterfalls and pilgrimage destinations. The glory of the Maratha dynasty is still visible in each corner of Sindhudurg. Apart from the natural world, the Sindhudurg fort is also a prime attraction which was built by the great Maratha warrior king Chattrapati Shivaji in 1664. Those who are delicate lovers of varied food items, this district town is an ideal place for them to taste some of the tongue seducing sea food varieties.
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