Tourist Places – South India
HYDERABAD It is the state capital of Andhra Pradesh teeming with bazaars of the old city, where stands the 400 year old Charminar, which is as much the signature of Hyderabad, as the Taj Mahal is for Agra or the Eiffel Tower for Paris. The modern shopping complexes and ultra modern malls in the newer areas of the city add further charm to Hyderabad. Cyberabad is a new local area created to keep pace with the booming Information Technology sector. Pearls, bangles, silks, computer software, handicrafts and above all a delectable cuisine, add to the splendour of this great city. Golconda Fort, capital of the erstwhile Kingdom by that name, is today very much part of the city. The fort is famous for its acoustics, palaces, ingenious water supply system and the famous Fateh Rahben Gun, one of the cannons used in the last siege of Golconda by Aurangzeb, to whom the fort ultimately fell. Qutub Shahi Tombs - It's the only one of its kind in the world, where an entire dynasty has been buried at one place. Mecca Masjid - The bricks were brought from Mecca to build the central arch here. Salar Jung Museum - This museum houses one of the largest one-man collections of antiques of the world by Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, Salar Jung III. The objects available at the Museum include Persian carpets, Mughal miniatures, Chinese porcelain, Japanese lacquer ware, famous statues including the veiled Rebecca, Marguerite and Mephistopheles, a superb collection of jade, daggers belonging to Queen Noor Jahan the Emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb's sword and many other fabulous items. Birla Mandir - This white marble temple of Lord Venkateshwara floats on the city skyline, on Kala Pahad. Hussain Sagar Lake - The lake has a promenade that is a busy thoroughfare today. Boating and water sports are a regular feature in the Hussain Sagar. One of the world's tallest monolithic statues of the Buddha stands on the 'Rock of Gibraltar' in the middle of the lake. Ramoji Film City - This is a dream world created, for the celluloid on a sprawling 1500 acres, with every imaginable type of set. Ramoji Film City on the outskirts of Hyderabad offers facilities to produce any kind of movie. Shopping - Laad Bazaar is the famous, colourful shopping centre of the old city. It is tucked away in one of the streets leading off from the Charminar, selling bridal wear, pearls and the traditional Hyderabadi glass and stone studded bangles. Hyderabadi Cuisine -Nurtured by the Moghul magnificence in the heart of South India, the cuisine combines the very best of Moghlai food, such as Haleem and Mutton Biriyani, with the hauntingly aromatic, spicy, tart and pungent seasonings of the South. The kitchens of the Nawabs, Rajahs and Jagirdars combined the Moghul influence with the predominantly Hindu sub-culture to cook up a cuisine that is the ultimate in fine dining. Sweets like Double Ka Meetha and Qurbani Ka Meetha are distinctly Hyderabadi.
SRI PADMAVATHI AMMAN TEMPLE at Tiruchanur is one of the deity’s consorts, Lakshmi. It Is the shrine of the Goddess Alamelumanga, the Consort of Lord Venkateswara.
THIRUPATHI - Lord Venkateswara temple is one of the holiest place for Hindus and the second richest in the world. One of the most important pilgrimage centres in India, it is claimed to be the busiest in the world, eclipsing Jerusalem, Rome and Mecca in the sheer number of pilgrims visiting the shrine. Among the powers attributed to Venkateswara, is granting of any wish that is made in front of the idol at Tirumala. The temple is the richest and the most visited place of worship in the world. It is visited by 100,000 to 200,000 pilgrims daily, while on special occasions like the annual Brahmotsavam, the number ofpilgrims’ increases to 500,000. According to legend, the temple has a self-manifested murti-idol of Lord Venkateswara. The person, devoid of wealth and vision, is implored to go to the hill which burns up all evil and drives away all obstacles for peace and prosperity. When people travel to Tirupathi, they chant “Yedu Kondala Vada Venkataramana Govinda Govindaa” in Telugu. The Laddu is a world famous prasadam given at Tirumala Temple.
GOA’s coastline has some of the best beaches in the country and the finest beach resorts. Panaji is built on the south bank of the Mandovi river. The coastline is more than 100 kms long. Some of the beaches like Calangute, Candolim, Baga Vagator, Anjuna and Charpora. in North Goa are bordered with red laterite cliffs. The beaches in Southern Goa, namely Bogmalo, Colva, Benaulim, Betul And Palolem. The Beaches are noted for their sparkling white sand and calm sea which offers splendid opportunities for sailing and wind surfing. The old Portuguese capital of Goa further up the river, has fine Baroque Churches with lavishly ornamented and gilded altars. The Basilica Of Bom Jesus -Here the body of St. Francis Xavier, rests in a silver and glass casket. Temples - The Mangesh, Nagesh and Shanta Durga temples are some of the famous temples of Goa. Margao is a pleasant provincial town which still reminds one of its Portuguese past, reigning Goa for a period over 450 years.
BANGALORE - This is claimed to be the cleanest city of the country. The city has two beautiful parks called Lalbagh and Cubbon Park. These occupy the maximum land area of the city. The Radha Krishna temple is attractive and was built recently. The Vidhana Soudha is the State Legislative Assembly and a part of the Secretariat was built on the lines of neo Dravidian style. Lalbagh-the Botanical Garden is spread over 240 acres and the Cubbon Park over 120 hectares which was laid out in 1864. A demographically diverse city, Bangalore is a major economic and cultural hub and the fastest growing metropolis in India. Roadside vendors, tea stalls, South Indian, North Indian, Chinese and Western fast food joints are all very popular in the city. Bangalore is also sometimes called as the “Pub Capital of India” and is one of the premier places to hold international rock concerts.
BELUR was the early capital of the Hoysala Empire. Chennakesava Temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture. Legend- It took 103 years to complete. The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures and freezes with no portion left blank. The intricate workmanship includes elephants, lions, horses, episodes from the Indian mythological epics, and sensuous dancers. Inside the temple are a number of ornate pillars. Darpana Sundari - Lady with the mirror, carved on walls of Belur Temple is one of the major attractions in the temple.
HALEBID This ranks as one of the most outstanding examples of Hoysala art. Halebid literally means ruined city. This name is given because this city was ruined twice by the Bahmani Sultanate. The Hoysaleswara temple is astounding for its wealth of sculptural details. The walls of the temple are covered with an endless variety of depictions from Hindu mythology, animals, birds and Shilabalikas or dancing figures. Yet no two sculptures of the temple are the same. This magnificent temple guarded by a Nandi Bull was never completed, despite 86 years of labour.
HAMPI HOSPET - Many people who visit the Vijayanagar ruins at Hampi use Hospet as the base for travel, which is a typical Karnataka rural town. Hampi is significant, both historically and architecturally. The topography abounds with large stones which have been utilized to make larger than life statues of Hindu deities. A structure of historic importance appears every quarter of a mile. The magnificent ruins of Hampi was once the capital of the powerful Vijayanagara Kings, Known as the beautiful “City Of Victory”. It has splendid monuments. The Vittala Temple has fine sculpture, musical pillars, the famous stone chariot, the Purandaradasa Mandapa and the graceful Lotus Mahal. Hampi is one of the most fascinating historical sites.
HASSAN is a handy base for exploring Belur, Halebid and Shravanabelagola and home to the Master Control Facility of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is called the temple-architectural capital of Karnataka and is also the location of the Hasanamba Temple.
MADIKERI is also known as Mercara or Coorg. Raja Seat was a favourite place of recreation for the Kings with its commanding view of the mountains and valleys. The Madikeri Fort and Palace was built by various rulers like Mudduraja,Tipu Sultan, Doddavira Rajendra, the British and Lingarajendra Wodeyar II. The Omkareshwara Temple has both Islamic and Gothic styles of architecture. The Shivalinga was brought from Kashi and is called “Omkareshwara”. Coorg or Kodagu’s capital is Madikeri. Talakaveri - There is a fountain from a small tank, which at a predetermined time, fills the large holy tank at Talakaveri, where the river Kaveri, originates. Thousands of people gather to have a dip in this holy water. The temple on the riverbanks is dedicated to Lord Brahma and is one of the only two temples dedicated to Brahma in India and Southeast Asia. Nisargadhama is an island and picnic spot, formed by the river Kaveri. The Iruppu Falls is a sacred spot in south Kodagu in the Brahmagiri hill range. The Lakshmana Tirtha river flows nearby and the Abbey Falls is a scenic waterfall. Nagarahole is a National Park and wildlife resort. The Bhagamandala is situated at the confluence of two rivers, the Kaveri and the Kanika. A third river, the Sujyothi, is said to join them from underground. The Dargah Sharief of Yemmemadu, the Holy Tomb of Yemmemadu is one of the most sacred shrines of the Muslims.
MANGALORE - Sultan’s Battery, Shreemanthi Bai Memorial Government Museum, Kadri Temple, St. Aloysius College Chapel, Rosary Cathedral, Mangaladevi Temple, Mangalore Houses are some of the attractions. Mangalore has been a trading centre for many countries and was ruled for a considerable time by a tribe, known as Alupas. Once upon a time Mangalore was the major port of Hyder Ali’s kingdom. Today it’s a bustling and hassle-free city where one can see everything from burkhas to blue jeans. The significant Catholic community dates back to the arrival of the Portuguese in 1526, while the large, mixed university population gives the city, an air of progressiveness. In the epic Ramayana, Lord Rama ruled over the region, while in the epic Mahabharata, Sahadeva, the youngest of the Pandavas and Arjuna, the hero of Mahabharata, governed the area.
MOOKAMBIKA Devi Temple at Kollur is one of the most prominent shrines. The picturesque surroundings presented by the banks of the river Sauparnika, the lush green Kodachadri hill and the temple attracts millions of pilgrims every year. It is believed that Adi Shankara perceived the idea of having a Mookambika Devi temple at Kollur and installed the idol himself, some 1200 years ago. People have high faith in Mookambika Devi Temple as Goddess Mookambika is regarded as a manifestation of Shakti, Saraswathi and Mahalakshmi. Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Sri M.G.R gifted a gold sword. The former Chief Minister of Karnataka, Sri Gundu Rao, also donated a similar type of sword, made of silver.
SRINGERI is the site of the first mutt established by Adi Shankaracharya, Hindu theologian and exponent of the Advaita Vedanta philosophy, in the 8th century. It is located on the banks of the river Tungâ. Sri Sharadambal temple and Sri Vidyashankara temple are very prominent places of worship. Sringeri Sharada Peetham, at Sringeri is one of the four Hindu Advaita mutts, established by Adi Shankaracharya. It is also referred to as Dakshinamnaya Sringeri Sharada Peetham.
MYSORE - One of the most visited monuments in India, the Ambavilas Palace is also known as Mysore Palace. It has all the trappings of royalty. The Jaganmohana Palace, the Jayalakshmi Vilas and the Lalitha Mahal are some of the other palaces in the city. Chamundeshwari Temple, atop the Chamundi Hills and St. Philomena’s Church are popular religious places in Mysore. Brindavan Garden - These tranquil ornamental gardens are laid out below the immense Krishnaraja Sagar Dam. Chamundi Hills - Standing up in a little hill, they command a stunning view of the city. Srirangapatnam - Historically a great battle field for a brave King Tipu Sultan stands the ruins of the capital from where Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan ruled most parts of the south. Water Gate - It was near here that Tipu met his death and in addition to the small plaque on the gateway, there’s also a simple stone, slightly further to the east, that marks the spot where he fell. Summer Palace- Every square centimeter of the inner walls is covered with murals depicting his armies and the splendour of his kingdom. Gumbajs - Tipu Sultan and his father, Hyder Ali were buried here with full military honours.
UDUPI is notable for the Krishna Mutt Temple of Lord Krishna, it also lends its name to the Udupi cuisine. Legend- There was once a storm in the sea at Malpe. Shri Madhvacharya was on the shore at the time and saw a ship which was in trouble. He helped the ship reach the shore, safely. The sailors were very grateful to him and gave him deities of Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama. He conducted the installation ceremony of the deity of Lord Balarama near Malpe. He brought the deity of Lord Krishna and installed it at Udupi.
ALAPPUZHA, also known as Alleppey, it is a town with picturesque canals, backwaters, beaches and was described as the Venice of the East by Marco Polo. Alappuzha had trade relations with ancient Greece and Rome. Houseboats locally called “Kettuvallam” are available on hire on a daily basis as well as for longer durations besides overnight stay to take visitors on the old waterways. A routine trip includes food cooked on board. The main cultural and spiritual events of Alappuzha are Chambakkulam Moolam, Chettikulangara Bharani, Nehru Trophy and Snake boat races. These are the most significant traditional events in Alappuzha, involving long thin boats rowed by 120 oarsmen.
Divine serpents SREE NAGARAJA TEMPLE MANNARSALA HARIPAD ALLEPPEY - The temple of divine serpents - It is not a rare thing to see the same serpent appear in the same location for a number of days in the temple premises. On one occasion, about six decades ago, a fierce yellow serpent was known to have carried an evil snake in its mouth, which was released later. But the evil serpent raised its hood. The fierce snake swallowed that cobra again. The late Valia Amma came to the spot with tears in her eyes and spoke a few words. The serpent did not budge. Amma became sad. With the chanting of manthras, she prayed for the release of the cobra. Without delay, the serpent left the cobra, bent down its head and went straight into the Appooppan. The nature of the yellow snakes of Appoppan Kavu is quite wonderful. Valia Amma is the heart and soul of Mannarasala. The resplendent brightness of Valia Amma has turned into a symbol of Naga deities. Fasting and other austerities continue to mark the worship.
ATHIRAPPALLY WATERFALL is a popular picnic spot. One of the most bewitching sights, Athirappally Falls is about 80 feet high and located in the forest area. The greenery infuses freshness into any tired soul. The Athirapally Falls joins the Chalakkudy River after a plummeting drop of 80 feet. It provides a tranquil and much needed escape from the troubles and stress of life. The soothing sound takes one to some of nature’s most relaxing places. The charm of the beautiful waterfalls of Athirapally and Vazhachal, pronounced as vaazhachaal, cannot be described in words. Starting calmly from the high ranges and crashing through gorges overhung with trees, these waterfalls are some of the best places in India to re-capture the real sense of the word ‘Picturesque’ not just calm and sweet, but something wild and natural.
GURUVAYUR SRI KRISHNA TEMPLE is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations. Legend has it that this idol was originally worshipped by Brahma and gifted to Vishnu who retained it with him at Dwarka during his Krishna Avatar. At the brink of destruction of Dwarka, Krishna instructed Uddhava to seek Vayu and Guru’s help to find a safe haven for the idol. Accordingly, Guru and Vayu installed this idol at Guruvayur, on one side of a lotus lake and on the other side of which was a shrine dedicated to Shiva and Parvathi. It is believed that worshipping here relieves people of physical ailments. It is believed that Janamejaya, son of Parikshit was cured of leprosy upon installing the idol of Krishna and worshipping here. Yet another legend is that a Pandya King was cured of a snake bite while worshipping here. MAMMIYOOR TEMPLE is 2 kms away from Guruvayur. The temples of Guruvayur and Mammiyoor have an interconnected legend. Lord Shiva, knowing the mission of Guru and Vayu moved a kilometer away to Mammiyoor thus allowing the idol of Sri Krishna to be installed in the sacred place which thereafter came to be known as Guruvayur. It is believed that a pilgrimage to Guruvayur is not complete without worshipping Mammiyoor Mahadeva.
KOCHI formerly known as Cochin is one of the principal seaports of the country. Heralded as the Queen of Arabian Sea, Kochi was the site of the first European colonial settlement in India. It was occupied by the Portuguese in 1503 and remained the capital of Portuguese India, until 1530, when they opted for Goa as their capital. The city was later occupied by the Dutch and the British. Kochi was the centre of Indian spice trade for many centuries and was known to the Yavanas, Greeks as well as Romans, Jews, Arabs and Chinese, since ancient times. St. Francis CSI Church is the oldest European church in India and has great historical significance as a mute witness to the European colonial struggle in the subcontinent. The Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, died in Kochi in 1524 when he was on his third visit to India. His body was originally buried in this Church, but after fourteen years his remains were removed to Lisbon. The Santa Cruz Basilica, a church in Kochi built originally by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV, was spared by the Dutch conquerors who destroyed many Catholic buildings. Later the British demolished the structure and Bishop João Gomes Ferreira commissioned a new building. Santa Cruz Basilica, a Roman Catholic Cathedral is one of the finest and most impressive churches in Kerala. It is a place of devotion as well as a centre of historical significance, endowed with architectural and artistic grandeur and colours of the gothic style.
River originates from the point where Sankara's feet touched the ground - KALADI, the very name is synonymous with Adi Sankaracharya, the founder of the Advaita philosophy who was born here in the 8th century AD. The name 'Kalady' has a story behind its origin. Once, young Sankara's widowed mother, fainted while on her way to the river Poorna. Sankara prayed fervently to Lord Krishna who answered him saying that the river would originate from the point where Sankara's feet touched the ground. Even today, it can be seen that the river Poorna takes an unusual turn, towards the Sankara Mutt.
Bring a calf and donate it to the temple praying for relief from diseases PARABRAHMA TEMPLE IN OCHIRA KOLLAM Ochira temple is unique and different from the rest of the worship places across the state or country, in the sense that there is nothing here in the conventional form of a temple. Most part of the temple premises is only open land, with a few “Aal thara”. Puja is performed on this foundation. Apart from the spiritual side of Ochira temple, the most interesting concept of this temple is its acceptance of anyone seeking shelter and help. The concept behind this temple is very simple - God exists everywhere, you seek Him through service, Annadanam. This is the most important offering in Ochira. Uru Nercha devotees also bring in a calf and donate it to the temple, praying for relief from diseases.
Cure for those possessed by witchcraft or black magic - ETTUMANOOR TEMPLE, KOTTAYAM The temple at Ettumanoor is richly provided with a plethora of mural paintings and sculptures. This linga is the second of the three idols brought by the Asura Khara from Chidambaram. The first idol is at Vaikom of Lord Vaikathappan, the linga at Ettumanoor is the second one and the third Shiva Linga is at Kaduthuruthi. All these three Shiva shrines are highly respected and devotees desire to visit all the three of them, on the same day. A giant lamp known as Valia Vilakku stands at the entrance. This is believed to have been brought here and lit first by the Lord himself. Devotees first worship this ever-burning lamp by pouring oil in it. An interesting feature is the Nandi Sacred bull, whose idol gets filled with offerings of paddy is said to contain medicinal properties. Those possessed by witchcraft or black magic who visit this temple for a mandalam i.e. 41 days and offer worship are cured.
KOVALAM is famous for its clean, peaceful and non-polluted beach town. Kovalam has three crescent shaped beaches separated by rocky outcroppings. Shallow waters stretching for hundreds of metres, are ideal for swimming. Kovalam shot into limelight in the early seventies with the arrivals of numerous hippies. Kovalam is now finding a new significance in the light of several Ayurvedic salons, recuperation and regeneration resorts which provide a wide variety of Ayurvedic treatments. It is a sheltered bay, endowed with unusual beauty which retains a certain charm and is still popular with backpacking travellers, craving some rest and recreation on the long haul, across the subcontinent. The beaches have steep palm covered headlands and are lined with shops that offer all kinds of goods and services.
KOZHIKODE, also known as Calicut, is called the “City of Spices” for its role as the major trading point of eastern spices. According to data compiled by economics research firm Indicus Analytics on residences, earnings and investments, Kozhikode ranked as the second best city in India to reside in. Indicus considered six parameters – health, education, environment, safety, public facilities and entertainment. Kozhikode Beach-Several national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Indira Gandhi and Krishna Menon have addressed people here. The beach offers a pleasant view at the time when fishermen enter the sea with their tiny boats, fighting the waves and then return with their catch. Kappad Beach is where Vasco Da Gama landed on 27th May 1498 with three vessels and 170 men. Beypore is a small port town at the mouth of the Chaliyar river and is famous for its ancient shipbuilding.
KUMARAKOM is a tourist village. It is a cluster of small islands on the Vembanad Lake in Kerala. Kumarakom is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a noted sanctuary visited by many species of migratory birds. The Vembanad Lake, the largest backwater lake in Kerala, is a habitat for many marine and freshwater fish species and it teems with Karimeen, Pearl spot, shrimp-chemmeen in the local language and prawns. Kumarakom has a wide variety of houseboats and is one of the most beautiful villages in the world. Foreign visitors have often referred to it, as a paradise. Taj Garden Retreat, the first modern tourist resort in Kumarakom is housed in a two storyed Victorian bungalow built by Alfred George Baker in the year 1881, on huge pieces of teak wood rafters packed in mud, as the base. The bungalow is grand and is a silent reminder of an age and people whose hard work cannot be erased by time.
The area around MUNNAR is surrounded by vast jungles and remains wet and cold during most of the year. Sprawling tea plantations, picture book towns, winding lanes, trekking and holiday facilities make Munnar a unique experience for the tourists. This place is famous for the “Neelakurinji” flower. Resorts, big and small, have started springing up, all around the town and overnight, the once sleepy town has become a bustling tourist destination. Important tourist activities include boating, in the reservoirs trekking, para sailing, hot air ballooning and camping.
Strangely enough there is not a single Brahmin house, at present, in the Palayur village - PALAYUR CHURCH - NEAR GURUVAYUR Palur or Palayur was the stronghold of the Nambudiri Brahmins when St. Thomas arrived from Kodungallur. St. Thomas was able to convert the greater part of the villagers after a successful challenge with the Brahmins. The local temple deserted by the Brahmins as a part of St. Thomas's efforts, was turned into a Church. Strangely enough there is not a single Brahmin house, at present, in the Palayur village. The important historical monuments at Palayoor are the Boat Jetty Bottukulam where St. Thomas landed, Thaliyakulam - the pond where St. Thomas baptized the local people, the replica of Chinna Malai of Mylapore, Chennai where St. Thomas attainted martyrdom in AD 72. The historical remnants of old Aryan Temple, Historical Museum, 14 granite life size statues of various scenes from the life of St. Thomas are installed on the main entrance of the Church and the Jubilee Door at the entrance of the main hall of the Church, depicting various important Biblical events are carved in Burmese teak.
PERIYAR THEKKADY - The Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for its dense evergreen, semi - evergreen, moist deciduous forests and savanna grass lands. It is home to herds of elephants, sambar, tigers, gaur, lion-tailed Macaques and Nilgiri Langurs. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is spread across 777 sq kms, of which 360 sq kms is thick evergreen forest. It was declared a Tiger Reserve. The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaiperiyar Dam across the Periyar river adds to the charm of the park. The greatest attraction of the Periyar are the herds of wild elephants that come down to play in the lake. Thekkady is considered a haven for natural spices such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and clove.
PUNNATHUR KOTTA ELEPHANT CAMP The Devaswom maintains a unique elephant sanctuary, the only one of its kind in the world. It has 51 elephants now. Many elephants of Guruvayur have become a part of history. The sweet memories of Gajarajan Kesavan - literally the king of all Elephants- still enthrall the hearts of elephant lovers worldwide. The mammoth physique, its intelligence and devotion to the Lord, is legendary. GAJARAJAN KESAVAN was one of the majestic elephants which served the Lord in all its sincerity and uniqueness. He would bend his front legs only before those who held the Lord’s Thidambu, to enable them to climb on him; all others had to climb by his hind legs. He never caused any physical harm to anybody. Even if he became wild outside Guruvayur, he would straightaway come to Guruvayur, go round the temple and stand where he was usually chained.
THALASSARY - The British established their presence here in Kerala in 1682, when they obtained permission from the Vadakkilamkur Prince of Kolattunad to settle at Tellicherry. Due to its coastal location, the town of Tellicherry was a major commercial centre during the British rule of India. They built a seaport in Tellicherry through which a variety of spices such as pepper and cardamom were exported. The square fort, with its massive walls, secret tunnels to the sea, and huge, intricately-carved doors, is an imposing structure. The fort was once the nucleus of Tellicherry’s development.
Miraculously, the ghee does not melt or emit any smell - ADKKUNATHAN THRISSUR - Here the elegant architectural style that is unique to Kerala is clearly evident. The deity Shiva is in the form of a big 'mahalingam'. Here the main offering is ghee. The devotees bring ghee to pour on the 'lingam'. Offerings over the years have concealed the lingam. At present the devotees can see only a mound of ghee. Miraculously, the ghee does not melt or emit any smell, though in summer the temperature rises upto 35 degree centrigrade. It is said, some part of the ghee is more than 1000 years old. The ghee is not removed. If and when any portion of the mound collapses, the same is sold. If a collapse takes place, it is believed to be a sign of some evil to come in Thrissur. Seven years back there was a partial collapse of ghee prior to the Pooram festival during which three lives were lost in a fireworks accident.
TRIVANDRUM - Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, Palace Museum, Napier Museum, Zoological Gardens. Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram, the small-relaxed capital city of Kerala, is home to all these attractions and more. It is built over seven forested hills. Sri Padmanabhasamy temple - Trivandrum’s most interesting temple is open only to Hindus and even they need to wear a dothi or sari. Constructed in the Dravidian style by a Maharaja of Travancore, the temple is dedicated to Vishnu, who reclines on the sacred serpent, The temple is an architectural wonder. The massive idol of the deity measures 18 feet in length and is covered with gold and other precious stones. The idol is viewed through three different doors. The head and torso is visible through the first opening. The midriff and hands are visible through the second door and the feet are visible through the third door. The massive idol is seen resting gracefully on the Serpent Lord, Anantha.
WAYANAD is hailed as ‘The Land of Paddy Fields’. There are many indigenous tribals in this area. It is set high on the majestic Western Ghats with altitudes ranging from 700 to 2100 metres. According to archaeological evidence, the Wayanad forests have been inhabited for more than three thousand years. Muthanga wildlife sanctuary is on the way from Mysore to Sulthan Bathery. Wild animals such as bisons, elephants, deer, and tigers had been spotted. Sulthan Bathery is famous for its fort, which was built by Tipu Sultan. Lakkidi, the entry-point to Wayanad on the road from Kozhikode, receives one of the heaviest rainfalls in India.
THIRUVALLAM PARASURAMA TEMPLE, TRIVANDRUM - Many pilgrims visit this temple for ‘Balitharpanam’. People make offerings to their ancestors, after taking a dip in the holy river. There is a widespread belief that the great monk Adi Shankara made the Bali for his mother, at this place. This temple is a venue to conduct pujas for ancestors. As a part of the bali ritual, devotees make offerings to the souls of the departed.
To have a Wealthy and Peaceful life ATTUKKAL BHAGAWATHI AMMAN TEMPLE The story goes that the Goddess Bhagavathy revealed herself to a fervent devotee of a notable family, the Mulluveettil family. The Goddess in the temple of Attukal is worshipped as the Supreme Mother, creator of all living beings and the mighty preserver as well as destroyer of them all. Pilgrims from all over the country, who visit Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple and worship the Lord, do not consider their visits complete without a visit to the shrine of the supreme Mother Attukalamma.The temple is universally famous for the deity Shri Bhagavathy Amman as well as the Pongal festival being conducted here every year. This temple has been listed in Guinness Book of World Records twice for recording the maximum number of people i.e. around 15 lakh to 25 lakh people worshipping in the temple festival conducting the Pongal festival. Due to the congregation of women on the Pongal day, this temple is termed as Women’s Sabarimala. After the burning of Madurai, Kannagi came to this place and rested here. Later her anger got neutralized and she continued to stay here where a temple was built around her. There are many stories about how the Pongal festival came into being. Once the village women working in the field saw a little girl with her feet in the running stream and they approached her to know who she was. She told them that she was hungry and so the women lit a fire in the same place and cooked Pongal for the girl and offered it to her. After eating the Pongal the girl disappeared and the women realized that it was Kannagi herself and from then on they began celebrating the Pongal festival. People who want a wealthy and peaceful life should visit the temple with family and must take the blessings of Attukkal Bhagavathi Amman.
PONDICHERRY is a living monument of French culture in India. The town was once upon a time, an abode of scholars well versed in the Vedas. Joseph François Dupleix became the Governor of this French Territory in India. Internal disturbances in Puducherry gave the British, the opportunity to gain control. However, after the Treaty of Paris, the British restored the settlements to the French. French Influence - The design of the city was based on the French grid pattern. (Originally Dutch, the plans of Pondicherry dating from the end of the seventeenth century are preserved in the National Archives at The Hague). The city has many colonial buildings, churches, temples and statues, which, combined with the systematic town planning and the well planned French style avenues, still preserve much of the colonial ambience. Beaches in Puducherry are Promenade Beach, Paradise Beach, The Auroville Beach and Serenity Beach. Sri Aurobindo Ashram is one of the best-known and wealthiest ashrams in India. Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above any creed, politics and nationalities. The heritage buildings and monuments present around the Promenade beach are the Children’s Park & Dupleix Statue, Gandhi statue, Nehru Statue, Le Café, French War Memorial, 19th Century Light House, Bharathi Park, Governor’s Palace, Romain Rolland Library, Legislative Assembly, Puducherry Museum and the French Institute of Pondicherry.
The French and the British tried to remove the deity from this place and even threw the deity in the sea. But the deity came back to the same place.Peace Of Mind - PONDICHERRY SRI MANAKULA VINAYAGAR TEMPLE was in existence even before the French came and settled in Pondicherry i.e. before 1666. The local people called their God as Manal Kulathu Vinayagar meaning God near the pond of sand. Later it was known as MANAKULA VINAYAGAR. The Jesuits and missionaries tried but could not demolish Manakula Vinayagar temple. The French and the British lived in this part of the town. They made every effort to remove the deity from this place and even threw the deity in the sea but every time they did this, the deity came back to the same place. Later a temple was built near the shores of the Bay of Bengal as per the Ganapathy Agamam and was named Bhuvanesa Vinayagar Temple. Thollaikkathu Siddhar, a saint standing 6ft tall, with broad forehead, glittering blissful eyes, big hole bearing ear, small pot bellied with hand extending up to knee cap and hands with lotus regai, guru medu and sanimedu at a height showing arul gnana regai, got enlightenment from this deity and attained Samadhi in this temple, nearly 300 years ago. From then on, people bring their new born here for worship before going to any other temple. The temple is 300 years old and its early history is marked by trouble, with the French ordering that the annual festival around the streets of Pondicherry should not take place. This caused unrest among the people and 15,000 of them gathered to set off towards Chennai. As they were all workers in a textile factory, the authorities revoked their decision, fearing that work would be affected. This type of incident kept repeating till, strangely, Dupleix, the great French leader himself developed affection for the idol. Such are the winning ways of Lord Vinayaka! who lives in a region bound by sand”. To the Eastern side of the temple lies the sea and the sand. Inside the temple, there is a small pond, which the priest will show to the devotee with the help of a lit camphor. Though the pond is close to the sea, the water is clear. It is believed that anything put into the pond will turn black in colour.
CHENNAI Marina Beach, Kapaleeswar Temple, Fort St. George, Museum, Santhome Cathedral Basilica, St. Thomas Church, St. Thomas Mount. Chennai has innumerable places of tourist interest. It is the Gateway to South India and 368 years old, and the 34th largest metropolitan city in the world. One cannot fail to notice the dominant British influences in the city. But Chennai retains a charming characteristic of a typical South Indian heritage. Fort St. George was built by the East India Company. Fort Museum contains many relics pertaining to the reign of the East India Company and British India. St. Mary’s Church is the oldest Anglican Church in Asia, the first English Church in Chennai and the oldest surviving British Church in India National Art Gallery and Government Museum has an excellent archaeological section and also houses a good ethnological collection of the Cholas. The Marina Beach is the second longest beach in the world. St. Thomas Mount is a small hillock, where the Apostle, St. Thomas was believed to have been killed by his assassins. Kapaleeswar temple is an ancient Shiva temple constructed in the Dravidian style and displays the architectural elements. St Thomas Cathedral- Santhome Cathedral Basilica is said to house the remains of St. Thomas, the Apostle.
PARTHASARATHY TEMPLE Chennai - According to the great Indian epic 'Mahabharat' 'Partha' means Arjuna while Sarathy means charioteer. In the epic it is said that during the great battle of Mahabharat, Lord Krishna was the charioteer for Arjuna. Arjuna was a brave warrior and Lord Krishna was his good friend, philosopher and guide. Though the Parthasarathy temple is devoted to the various incarnations of Lord Vishnu the main deity is 'Lord Krishna' who is one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Also the other exquisite feature of this Parthasarathy temple is the coloured gopuram. 'Gopuram' is a pyramidically shaped. Temple on top of which is a stereotyped feature of the South Indian temples.
MARUDHAMALAI, COIMBATORE - Marudhamalai Hills, dedicated to Lord Muruga also called as Dandâyudhapâni is classified under Kunruthoradal as one of the main abodes of the God. Set against the backdrop of hazy blue hills dotted with shrubs and bushes of varied hues, the sacred shrine reflects the picture of Lord Muruga, magnificently mounted on his vehicle peacock, flaunting and swaying its feathers and plume in full bloom. The Sanskrit word “achalam” denotes mountain. As the mountain here is rich with marudham trees, it is known as Marudhachalam. Marudhamalai is overgrown with shrubs and bushes of medicinal properties.. The holy shrine of Marudhamalai is believed to remove both physical and mental afflictions and attachments. The pleasant breeze and peaceful environments bring harmony and quietness to the minds of devotees. Saints and holy men prefer this hill and come here in search of ‘KayaKalpam’ the Divine medicine for Salvation.
COIMBATORE is a major textile and engineering hub of South India. It is referred to as “the Manchester of South India” due to the presence of a flourishing textile industry. It is a heavily industrialised city with textile factories, engineering firms, automobile parts manufacturers, healthcare facilities and technical educational institutions. The hill stations of Ooty, Coonnor and Valparai are close to the city making it an attractive tourist destination throughout the year. The city is situated on the banks of the Noyyal River and is close to the Siruvani Waterfalls. Located in the shadow of the Western Ghats, Coimbatore enjoys a very pleasant climate.
COURTALLAM is at an elevation of 160m on the Western Ghats. Many seasonal and a few perennial rivers such as the Chittar, the Manimuthar, the Pachaiyar and the Tambaraparani Rivers originate from this region. The numerous waterfalls and cascades along with the ubiquitous health resorts in the area have earned it the title of Spa of South India. The weather is usually pleasant, marked by a gentle cool breeze and the occasional drizzle. During peak season, the crowds can become unmanageable in the waterfalls. The water of Courtallam has many herbal values which reduces hypertension and relax the mind. It is believed that it also helps resolve psychological disorder. The main attraction of Courtallam is its waterfalls.
GANGAIKONDA CHOLAPURAM was erected as the capital of the Cholas by Rajendra Chola I, the son and successor of Rajaraja Chola, the great Chola King who conquered a large area in South India at the beginning of the 11th century. His empire included the whole of Southern India up to river Thungabadhra in the north. For administrative and strategic purposes he built another capital and named it Gangaikondacholapuram. The Gangaikondacholapuram Temple he constructed consists of 3 stories and was surrounded by a huge wall like fort. The outer wall was mostly destroyed during the English rule 1896 A.D and the granite rocks were reused for constructing the Lower Anicut Dam across river Kollidam. Chola rulers were active patrons of arts. They flourished in architecture, education, science, arts, ship construction, poetry, drama, music, commerce and dance. The beautiful Nataraja statue was first conceived during the Chola Empire. Judging from the available literature and from the remains we can conclude, that it was an extensive city, carefully planned and laid in accordance with the architectural treatises to suit the needs of a capital. The city seems to have had two fortifications, inner and outer. The outer was probably wider. The remains of the outer fortification can be seen as a mound running all around the palace. The outer fortification built of burnt bricks, was about six to eight feet wide. It consisted of two walls, the intervening space or the core was filled with sand. The bricks are fairly large in size and were made of well-burnt clay. Systematic brick robbing by the local inhabitants has reduced this structure to its current state. The outer fortification was known as Rajendra Chola Madil and is mentioned in the inscriptions. The inner fortification was around the royal palace, probably identical with the Utpadi Vittu Madil of the inscriptions. Kulothunga Chola I also built a sculptural temple at Melakadambur, which is a wonderful masterpiece of Chola art. By the 13th century, the Chola kingdom had exhausted its resources and was on the decline. It succumbed to an attack by the Hoysalas from the west and the Pandyas from the south. The Chola administration served as a model for all the other kingdoms of the South. The king had a Council of Ministers. The kingdom was divided into a number of provinces known as Mandalams; the mandalams in turn were divided into Valanadu and Nadus. The next administrative sub divisions were kurrams and kottams. The special feature of the Chola administration was the Local Self Government or autonomous administration. The villagers themselves carried out village administration. It was more or less like the modern day Panchayat Raj. Each village had a village assembly known as the Ur or the sabha. The members of the sabha were elected by lots, known as Kudavolai system. There was a committee to look after the specified departments, such as justice, law and order, irrigation etc., which were called as variyams. The Temple of Gangaikondacholisvara, the great Vimana arrests the visitor's sight. As it rises to a height of 182 feet and is shorter than the Thanjavur tower with larger plinth, it is often described as the feminine counterpart of the Thanjavur temple. The Gangaikondacholapuram Vimana is undoubtedly a Devalaya Chakravarti, an emperor among temples of South India. The royal palace was also built of burnt bricks. The ceilings were covered with flat tiles of small size, laid in a number of courses, in fine lime mortar. The pillars were probably made of polished wood, supported on granite bases. A few pillar bases have survived to this day. Iron nails and clamps have been recovered from this palace site. There is an underground tunnel that links the palace and the inner temple. It is likely that there was more than one royal building each having its own name and must have been a splendid site. Besides the names of the palace and fort walls, the names of a few roads and streets are preserved in the epigraphs. There were both wet and dry lands inside the Fort, used for cultivation and other purposes. The present position of the existing temples throws some light on the lay out of the city. The great temple and other temples have been erected, with the palace at the centre of the city. Towards the northeast Isanya of the palace, is the great temple of Shiva which according to Vastu and traditional texts, should be in the north -east side of the city or village and should face east. The capital of the most powerful empire in Asia at one time now lies deserted, only the temple of Gangaikondachola survives in GangaiKondaCholapuram. What caused the destruction of this city? - The Pandyas who put an end to the Chola Empire late in the 13th century, took revenge for their earlier defeats, and razed the city to the ground, a misfortune that befell capitals in the bygone ages. It remained a mountain of brick debris. The inhabitants of the nearby villages stole the bricks for their own construction. The people have also dug systematically deep into the ground and extracted cartloads of ancient bricks.
DARASURAM -The emblem of the Chola Empire was the tiger, which was featured on the Chola flag, coins and in other contexts of political significance. The sanctum is in the form of a chariot. This temple is a storehouse of art and architecture. The vimana is 85 feet high. The front mandapam itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses. The temple has some exquisite stone carvings. The Great Living Chola Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site at Thanjavur, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Darasuram were built by the Cholas between the 10th and 12th centuries and have a lot of similarities. Legend has it that Airavata, the white elephant of Indra, worshipped Lord Siva in this temple, as also did Yama, the King of Death. It is said that the presiding deity Airavateswarar cured Yama who was suffering under a Rishi's curse from a burning sensation all over the body. Yama took a bath in the sacred tank and was rid of the burning sensation. Since then the tank is known as Yamateertham. In the recent past Raja Raja Chola and Karikala Chola worshipped the Shiva Lingam in this temple. As originally Airavata worshipped the Lingam, the Lingam is named after him as Airavateswara. The carvings contain different poses of gymnastic feats seen in the modern circus, shown by females keeping their head at the centre and legs interwoven in such a skillful way as to form the circumference of a circle. It may be a depiction of the present-day gypsy tribe entertaining villagers with gymnastic shows and dancing poses. Such gypsies are still to be seen visiting the remote villages of the country. Many styles of physical feats shown by both men and women have been carved in the stones. With heavily ornamented pillars, accurate in detail and richly sculpted walls, the Airavateswara temple at Darasuram is a classic example of Chola art and architecture. The main mantapa is called Raja Gambira, as the elephant draws the chariot. The ceiling has a beautiful carving of Shiva and Parvathi inside an open lotus. All the dancing poses of Bharatanatyam are carved in the stone. There is a carving showing the village womenfolk helping in the delivery of another female, who has both her hands on the shoulders of the two ladies, who are pressing their hands on the abdomen of the lady to help her deliver. 'These are very skillful and artistic works of superb style and give a glimpse into the social conditions of the past. The stone image of Ravana carrying Kailas, Buddha, Bhikshatana, Saraswathi without her Veena, and a sculpture of Ardhanarishwara, Brahma and Surya are fine specimens of workmanship. At the entrance to the temple, two Dwarapalakas, Sankhanidhi and Padmanidhi are imposing figures, giving vivid anatomical expressions of the exuberance of youth. In front of the temple, there is a small mandapa, which can be reached by three steps in the form of a ladder. The steps are stones, which give different musical sounds when tapped. All the seven swaras can be heard at different points. HOGENAKKAL FALLS is a waterfall in South India on the Kaveri river. Hailed as the “Niagara Falls of India”, it is famous for its medicinal baths and fun boat rides. Carbonatite rocks in this site are considered to be the oldest of its kind, not just in South Asia but also in the world. The Kaveri river at Hogenakkal drops and creates numerous waterfalls as the water cuts through the rocky terrain. The water falls are as much as 20 metres high and fall with a thunderous sound. Here the water spreads for miles around. The area is surrounded by hills and offers a lovely panoramic view. People can take bath in the Kaveri river, before and beyond the falls. Before reaching Hogenakkal, the river flows through a forest which contains herbs that are traditionally believed to enhance health. Hence, bathing in these waters is believed to be curative. Boating in Hogenakkal is allowed during the dry-season as the water falls are not strong and treacherous to disrupt the passage of the boats. The coracles are about 2.24 metres in diameter and are steered using a single paddle, making them unique. Freshly caught fish are sold at the side of the gorge.
KANCHEEPURAM - There are 1008 temples built by the ancient rulers here earning the the place the epithet of Temple City of India. Vardharaja Perumal temple, Ekambareswarar temple, Kamatchi Amman temple and Ulaganatha Perumal temple are some of the most famous temples. The city is also famous for its silk since it is home to the finest silk industry in India. The city of Kancheepuram has served as a royal capital to the greatest empires for centuries. The first South Indian stone temples were constructed in Kancheepuram. Ekambreeswarar temple is one of the largest temples in Kancheepuram. Kamatchi Amman temple is one of the three most holy shrines dedicated to Sakthi. Kailashnatha temple reflects the simplicity of early Dravidian architecture. The Kailashnath temple is considered to be the oldest and the most beautiful temple in South India. Magnificent sculptures leave the onlookers mesmerized.
KANYAKUMARI - Formerly known as Cape Comorin, Kanyakumari is especially popular in India for the confluence of three ocean bodies - the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. The sunrise and sunset can be seen and also the moon-rise and sunset occur simultaneously on either side of the horizon. On two rocky islets just off the shore, are the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and the gigantic statue of Tamil saint-poet Thiruvalluvar, one of the biggest statues in Asia. One of the rocks, bear the footprints of the virgin Goddess. The Sthanumalayan temple with a repository of art treasures,musical columns and tall statue of Hanuman is located at Suchindram. Padmanabhapuram Palace is a large palace made almost entirely of wood - the only one of its kind in India. Gandhi Memorial is a striking memorial. Kanya Amman Temple - The sparkling diamond nose-ring of the deity is said to be visible even from the sea and is said to guide sailors safely to reach the shore. Sage Agasthya, an expert in medicinal herbs, is believed to have lived around this site in ancient days. Medicinal herbs are found on hills near Kanyakumari.
KODAIKANAL is a city in the hills “The Gift of the Forest”, it is also popularly hailed as the “Princess of Hill Stations”. Kodaikanal has several scenic natural and popular romantic destinations for newlyweds. Kodaikanal Lake is a recognized geographic landmark. Rowboats, pedal boats, horses and bicycles can be hired for short periods. Bryant Park is a wonderfully maintained, 20.5 acres botanical garden. Coaker’s Walk, a paved pedestrian path running along the edges of steep slopes, provides a stunning panoramic view of the plains. Green Valley View formerly called Suicide Point, has an excellent panoramic view of the plains and a sheer drop of 1500 metres. Pillar Rocks is a set of three giant rocks. Guna caves, made popular by the Tamil movie Guna, was previously called Devil’s Kitchen. Silver Cascade waterfall is formed from the outflow of Kodaikanal Lake. Kurinji Andavar Murugan temple is famous for its Kurinji flower which blossoms in the area only once every 12 years.
MADURAI is the great capital of Pandya Dynasty and centre of Tamil culture and learning. Madurai one of the oldest inhabited cities in India. Madurai’s cultural heritage goes back 2,500 years, and the city has conducted trade as far as Rome and Greece since as early as 550 B.C. Madurai’s Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple, which stands today as one of India’s greatest cultural and architectural landmarks, was originally built by the early Pandya King Kulasekara. Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal - This palace complex was constructed by Thirumalai Nayakar - The original palace complex was four times bigger than the present structure. The ceilings are decorated with large paintings. The portico was constructed with bricks and mortar without the support of a single rafter or girder. The stucco work on its domes and arches is remarkable. The gigantic pillars and structures represent architectural mastery. The courtyard, the dancing hall and the 248 pillars, each 58 feet tall and 5 feet in diameter are divine attractions for visitors.
MAHABALIPURAM - The rock carvings at Mahabalipuram are notable for the delightful freshness and simplicity of their folk art origins. It is one of the world famous monument sites of the country and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mandapa or pavilions and the rathas or shrines shaped as temple chariots are hewn from a granite rock face, while the famed Shore Temple, erected half a century later, was built from dressed stone. The Shore Temple in particular, strikes a very romantic theme and is one of the most photographed monuments in India now ravaged by wind and sea. Five Rathas - The five rathas are sculptured temples in the style of chariots and carved from solid rock. Krishna Mandapam - It features carvings of a pastoral scene.
Arjuna’s Penance - Carved in relief, on the face of a huge rock, it is a giant open relief - sculpture on a massive scale, extolling an episode from the Hindu epic. The other monuments are Ganesh Ratha, Mahishamardhini Mandapam & Olakkaneswvara Temple, Dharmaraja Mandap and Varaha Cave Temple. Thirukadalmallai - This temple was also built by a Pallava King in order to safeguard the sculptures from the ocean. It is said that after building this temple, the remaining architecture was preserved and not corroded by the sea.
MUDUMALAI a mostly dense forest with an elevation of minimum 960 metres, is home to Chital spotted deer, Gaur, Indian bison, tiger, panther, wild boar and sloth bear. Otters and crocodiles inhabit the Moyar river. Mudumalai has mostly tropical dry and moist mixed deciduous forests, with some bamboo, sandalwood and teak. Here one can often spot herds of endangered Indian elephants, vulnerable Gaur and Chital. The sanctuary is a haven for Bengal Tigers and Indian leopards and other threatened species. There are at least 266 species of birds in the sanctuary, including critically endangered species like the Indian white-rumped vulture and the long-billed vulture. These parks and the adjoining Reserve Forests cover over 3,300 square kms of forest, support a population of 1800-2300 elephants. There is a high diversity of animal life in the sanctuary with about 50 species of fishes, 21 species of amphibians, 34 species of reptiles, 227 species of birds and 55 species of mammals.
NAGORE DARGHA - The most popular Muslim pilgrim centre in South India is the Dargah of Hazrat Syed Shahul Hameed Qadiri Qadir Wali (RA). The tomb is more than 500 years old. Literally called “the Lord of Andavar”, the saint with 404 disciples toured extensively in Afghanistan, Baluchistan and other places around the world performing innumerable miracles by raising the dead, making the dumb speak, the lame to walk and curing all kinds of incurable diseases. The Saint, his son and 404 followers-disciples visited Ponnani, Sri Lanka, Kayalpattinam, Keelakarai and Thenkasi and propagated Islam. Finally, the Saint visited Thanjavur. The queen energized by the miraculous cure of her husband by the Saint’s blessing fell on her knees before the Saint and begged the Saint to bless them with children. The King dedicated 30 acres of land called ‘Heavenly’ where “Nagore Dargha Shrine” stands. The Saint, entombed at Nagore and later his son and his son’s wife were entombed on the right side of the Saint. The miracles of the Saint have not stopped with his demise, but continues to the present day. People of all religions visit Nagore Dargah daily, to get blessings.
OOTY is inhabited by the Thodas, the tribal people whose belief system and practices, centre on the buffalo. Today, however, only about 1500 Thodas remain. Much of Ooty is at the altitude of 2,286 meters above sea level. Its stunning beauty and splendid lush green valleys inspired the British to name it the “Queen of Hill Stations”. Lofty mountains, great lakes, dense forests, sprawling grasslands, miles of tea gardens and eucalyptus trees greet the visitors en route to Ooty. Ooty Botanical Gardens- The Botanical Garden is vibrantly green and well-maintained. The garden has a 20-million-year old fossilized tree. Ooty Lake & Boat House is an artificial lake built by John Sullivan. Centenary Rose Park - The garden has been beautifully laid out in terraces with rose tunnels, pergolas and bowers with rose creepers and the largest collection of roses in the country, hybrid tea roses, miniature rose, floribunda, ramblers and roses of unusual colours like black and green. Stone House was the first properly built house in Ooty, built by John Sullivan. Thoda huts - There are a few Toda huts on the hills above the Botanical Garden, where Thodas still dwell. Ooty Mountain Railway -The station is part of the World Heritage Sites. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is one of the oldest mountain railways in India with steam locomotives. St. Stephen’s Church - This is one of the oldest churches in the town and is a local landmark. Ooty Golf Links -A forested and grassy area, it is home to a splendid golf course. Doddabetta Peak is the highest peak, situated at a height of 2623 meters in the Nilgiris.
PILLAIYAR PATTI GANESHA TEMPLE - This is an ancient rock-cut cave shrine dedicated to Ganesha. A 6 feet Karpaga Vinayaga has been carved inside. As this is a cave formation, there is no provision to go around for the pradakshina. The Thumbikai or trunk of Lord Pillaiyar is curled towards his right side and so the God is also known as Valampuri Pillaiyar, which is also a unique feature. Lord Karpaga Vinayagar is seated facing the northern side. In view of this, those who pray to him get more and more success. The Chettiyar and Nagarathar community are doing an outstanding job in maintaining the temple. Chettiars have animal instinct. Whenever they sense that there will be flood and famine they leave that place and migrate to another kingdom. They were welcomed by Kings because of their skills in business and as they were rich. Even now Chettiars are the only community whose subcastes are divided, based on Shiva Temples. Just like the Karpaga Tree, Lord Karpaga Vinayaga grants all blessings to the World. There are only two Vinayagas with two hands. One is at Pillaiyarpatti and the other is in Afghanisthan. The age of the cave temple here is more than 2500 years or more. From the history of divine architecture, from the stone sculptures and from available documentary evidences, Pillaiyarpatti Pillaiyar idol is the first Pillaiyar Ganesha in the world.
The Ariyaman beach in between Ramanathapuram and Rameswaram ‘FUN’TASTIC LOCATION - Tourists enjoy the gentle waves at the Ariyaman beach near Ramanathapuram and Rameswaram. This fine beach is 30 kms before Rameswaram and 30 kms from Ramanathapuram, located in the connecting the two important towns. The Ariyaman beach, a neat location on the side of Palk Bay, has turned out to be a much sought after picnic destination. Though the district has been blessed with few good beaches, including the one at Sangumal and another at Muhunthrayarchathiram, it is Ariyaman beach which attracts huge crowd of locals on a daily basis, particularly on holidays and during festivals. Adding to the beauty of the Ariyaman beach is the calm waters of Palk Bay. The gentle waves with a steady breeze fascinate holiday makers. The beach, which measures nearly 150 meters wide, extends to a stretch of about 2 Kms and boasts of a good environment for tourists to enjoy nature. The existing casuarina plantation of 50 metres width and 2 kms stretch at the entrance of the beach also add to its glamour and its shade is a great boon for visitors to sit and take rest from the scorching sun. The real beauty lies in the calmness of the place with no human interference. Just the sound of breeze and blue waves kissing the white sand, can easily capture one’s imagination. RAMESWARAM - The biggest and the toughest construction in Indian history of bridges is the Pamban Bridge - One will be awestruck by its huge gigantic appearance. Gandamadana Parvatham Ramarpadham - On the way to Dhanushkodi, this is the place where Sri Ram rested during his efforts to regain Sita. There is a chakra where his foot prints are imprinted. The temple being on a hill top, gives a complete view of the whole land. It has a fantastic view with waters, land mass, with the sand and sky overlapping one another. Dhanuskodi can be reached by a heavy duty mini truck colloquially called as “meen body vandi” in Tamil. The travel in the sea sand for about 5 kms is exciting. No roads are present. The people lay tire marks over the sand. Every vehicle passing has to follow the track mark. Slipping an inch would lock the vehicle in sand. The route is of great interest to bird watchers as there are lots of birds flying around. This was a flourishing place during the British rule in India and continued to be so, even after 15 years, post independence. There were railway stations, schools, churches and everything that one needed to live a peaceful life and one of the most favourite – sea and sand to laze around. This place was completely destroyed, by Nature’s fury, in 1964. The Tsunami swallowed the whole land, and everything was swept away.
Ramanatha Swamy Temple, RAMESWARAM - The 22 theerthams within the Ramanatha Samy temple complex are believed to have particular powers and the taste of the water of each well is different from the other. According to legend, Lord Rama built a bridge the Ram Setu, also known as Adam’s Bridge, across the sea to Lanka to rescue his consort Sita, from her abductor, Ravana. Former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, hails from a fishing hamlet in this island. Pilgrimage to Rameswaram is as significant for the Hindus as a pilgrimage to Varanasi - It has one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. Upon the advice of Rishis, Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana, installed and worshipped the Sivalinga here to expiate the sin of Brahmahatya - killing of a Brahmin - Ravana.The grandest part of the temple is the 1219 metres pillared corridor consisting of 3.6 metres high granite pillars, richly carved and well proportioned and run uninterruptedly, to a length of nearly 230 metres.
THANJAVUR is the home of Tanjore painting that is unique and popular around the world. It is one of the oldest cities in India and has a long and varied history. The city rose into prominence during the rule of the Later Cholas when it served as the capital of the Chola empire. The historical buildings are the Vijayanagara Fort, which contains a palace, a Bell Tower and the Saraswathi Mahal Library, which contains over 30,000 Indian and European manuscripts written on palm leaf and paper. The Brihadeeshwara Temple built by Rajaraja Chola was completed around 1010 AD. It also acted as a repository of the empire’s records, as the great Rajaraja had its walls covered with numerous inscriptions, recording his conquests and his endowments to various charities. The Big Temple is a superb and fascinating monument. Thanjavur has produced many classical musicians and Bharathanatyam dancers. Tanjore is well known for bronze sculptures, unique Tanjore paintings, Thavil, a divine instrument Veena, Thanjavur dolls and Tanjore plates.
TIRUCHIRAPALLI or Trichy is a city of great antiquity and has been ruled by the Early Cholas, the Early Pandyas, Pallavas, Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Later Pandyas, Delhi Sultanate, Madurai Sultanate, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, and the British at different times. Tiruchirapalli has a number of historical monuments, magnificent forts, churches and temples. Sri Ranganthaswamy Temple - This superb temple complex at Srirangam is situated on a beautiful island, formed by two arms of the Cauvery River. God Vishnu is worshipped in the name of “Renganathar” in a sleeping posture, which cannot be seen anywhere else. There is a flower market in this place called as “sathara veedhi” from where flowers and garlands are exported to various foreign countries.
Thiruvanaikaval Sri Jambukeshwara Temple has five concentric walls and seven Gopurams, with the customary decrease in size towards the sanctum sanctorum. The oldest human-built dam, Kallanai, which was built by Karikala Cholan across the Kaveri river, is near Trichy. One famous landmark in Tiruchirapalli is the Rock Fort, a big outcrop of rock, 83 metres in height. It is the only such outcrop, of its kind. On top of the rock fort is the Ucchi Pillayar Koil, a temple dedicated to the Hindu God Vinayaka-Ganesh, from where one can enjoy a panoramic view of Tiruchirapalli. The area surrounding the rock temple is a busy commercial region, mainly known for its textiles, Burmese, Chinese and Japanese goods. It has the greatest number of Christian Churches in India some of which are the Holy Redeemer’s Church, Our Lady of Lourdes Church and The Cathedral in Melapudur.
VELLORE is considered to be one of the oldest cities. Vellore Fort is known for its grand ramparts, wide moat and robust masonry. The Fort’s ownership passed from Vijayanagara Kings, to the Bijapur Sultans, to Marathas, to the Carnatic Nawabs and finally to the British, who held the fort until India gained independence. During British rule, Tipu Sultan’s family and the last King of Sri Lanka, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha was held as royal prisoners in the fort. Sripuram Golden Temple -Vellore has a magnificent golden temple which is located at Sripuram. The temple was constructed by Sri Narayani Peedam headed by spiritual leader Sri Sakthi Amma. The temple covers 55000 sq ft and has intricate carvings and sculptures in gold. The outer pathway of the temple is made in the shape of a star.
VELANKANNI - Once a port that traded with Rome and Greece. Velankanni Church is an important Roman Catholic shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Good Health. Portuguese sailors who escaped from a severe cyclone, built the 24 feet by 12 feet chapel, with a dome overhead. They also brought porcelain plates, which can be seen illustrating biblical scenes and other cultural arts of the time. The main statue that they had brought to the altar of the Shrine was Our Lady holding the Baby Jesus, standing majestically on the globe. Velankanni is attributed to three miracles, the apparition of Mary and the Christ Child to a slumbering shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor and the rescue of Portuguese sailors from a violent sea storm. Holy masses are conducted in at least eight languages, Tamil, English, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Konkani, Hindi and Marathi. Velankanni Church is considered a very powerful holy place in India where one is cured of any ailment when one offers prayers with a true heart. Devotees often offer gifts made of gold or silver for cure of sickness.
YERCAUD is at an altitude of 1515 metres above sea level. Stone-age implements were discovered by the British from the ancient shrine located near the Pagoda Point. The Yercaud Lake is a pool surrounded by gardens and well-wooded trees. Lady’s Seat overlooks the winding ghat road and has a panoramic view of the plains. The Killiyur Falls is a 3000 feet high waterfall. The Shervaroyan Temple, a tribal temple, is a narrow dark cave having the idols of God Shervarayan and Goddess Kaveri. The Bear’s Cave is considered as one of the abodes of Lord Murugan. The great Tipu Sultan used this Bear’s Cave as a hideout and a secret route to escape during battle. The Green House is a true paradise for nature lovers, filled with heavenly fragrances of innumerable varieties of flowers and spices. The Grange is one of the oldest buildings in Yercaud and is believed to be the summer resort of Robert Clive, the British Major General of the East India Company. The Pagoda Point which is a beautiful place adorned with stone built pagodas now, houses a huge temple.
Tourist Places – North India
BODH GAYA is a religious place and famous for being the place of Gautama Buddha’s attainment of Enlightenment. Historically, it was known as the Bodhimanda-ground around the Bodhi-tree, Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana and Mahabodhi. For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important among the four pilgrimage sites, related to the life of Gautama Buddha.
MAHABODHI Temple contains the diamond throne are the Vajrasana and the holy Bodhi Tree. It is believed that 250 years after the Enlightenment of Buddha, Emperor Asoka visited Bodh Gaya. He is considered to be the founder of the original Mahabodhi temple.
CHANDIGARH is a union territory of India, that serves as the capital of two states, Punjab and Haryana. Chandigarh is known internationally for its architecture and urban planning. It is home to numerous architectural projects of Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Matthew Nowicki and Albert Mayer. The city tops the list of Indian States and Union Territories with the highest per capita income in the country. Chandigarh has emerged as the cleanest city in India. The government is a major employer in Chandigarh with three governments having their base here. Therefore the people here are those, who are either working for one of these governments or have retired from government service. Chandigarh is often called a “Pensioner’s Paradise”.
DELHI, the capital of India is famous for numerous monuments. Rashtrapati Bhawan - Residence of the President of India. Red Fort -This structure with red sandstone walls rising up to a height of 18 metres on the river side and upto 33 metres on the city side, was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Lakshmi Narayan Temple is dedicated to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and is commonly known as Birla Mandir. India Gate bears the name of 85,000 Indian Army soldiers, who died in the first World War. Parliament House the Indian Parliament building, is a circular colonnaded structure, 171 metres in diameter. The Qutab Minar is the first monument built by a Muslim ruler in India. Raj Ghat is the final resting place of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation. The Lotus Temple is a Baha’i House of Worship, shaped like a lotus. A few other interesting sites are Shantivan, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi Memorial, Indira Gandhi House.
KULU - The fertile Kulu valley here, boasts of stone fruit and apple orchards, paddy and wheat fields. This valley is famous for its majestic hills covered with pine and deodar forests. The famous Kulu Shawls are made of many natural fibres such as pashmina, sheep-wool and angora. Jagannati Devi Temple is in the village of Bhekhli. It is a stiff climb, but the temple has a panoramic view of the Vaishno Devi Temple which has a small cave has an image of the Goddess Vaishno. Mahadev temple - A jeep track links Kulu with Bijli Mahadevi, eight km away. Across the river, high on a projecting bluff, the temple is surmounted by a 20 metre high road which is said to attract blessings in the form of lightning. Raghunath Temple - This temple was built by Raja Jagat Singh to house the idol of Lord Rama and even today, is greatly revered. The Dussehra celebrations is celebrated throughout the country but it is only celebrated at the end of Dussehra where over six hundred deities pay homage to Lord Ragunath.
MANALI has beautifully situated pathways around the town. Hadimba temple - This is the temple of the Goddess Hadimba. Old Manali village: The current town of Manali is actually a new creation which has superseded the old village. The British introduced apple trees and trouts. 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. Manali is famous for adventure sports like skiing, hiking, mountaineering, paragliding, rafting, trekking, kayaking, and mountain biking. Yak skiing is a sport unique to this area. Manali has become a favourite destination for honeymooners. Naggar Fort made from rocks, stones, and elaborate wood carvings, is an ensemble of the rich and elegant art works of Himachal. Rahla waterfall is situated at an altitude of 2,501 m. Solang valley is popularly known as the Snow Point. Manikaran is known for its hot spring near the river Parvathi. Rohtang Pass is one of the most famous snow points, but it is closed during the winter due to heavy snowfall.
SHIMLA - Before independence, Shimla was an important British hill station and in summer, became the ‘summer capital’ of India. The Mall is lined with stately English style houses bearing strangely displaced English names. Lajpat Tai Chowk is better known as ‘ Kiplings’s scandal corner’. Rashtrapati Niwas was formerly the residence of the British Viceroy. State Museum has a modest collection of stone statues from different places in Himachal Pradesh. Jakhu Temple dedicated to the Monkey God, offers a fine view over the surrounding valleys. Wildflower Hall is the former residence of Indian Commander-in Chief, Lord Kitchener. Kufri is the best known ski resort in Himachal Pradesh. The Christ Church is the second oldest church in Northern India.
JAMMU AND KASHMIR-The landscaped Mughal Gardens which were developed by the rulers of the Mughal dynasty are truly enchanting. They consist of three gardens, Chashmashahi Garden, Nishat Garden and Shalimar Garden. Srinagar’s sightseeing loses its meaning if you have not visited the Dal Lake. Set against the backdrop of mountains on three sides, the view of the Dal Lake is photographic.This lake counts amongst the most splendid lakes in the country. One of the major attractions of the Dal Lake are the houseboats that line its edges. It is the largest city in India without a Hindu majority. The city is also famous for its traditional Kashmiri handicrafts and dry fruits. GULMARG-It is one of the most splendid summer resorts in the valley, boasting of the highest golf course in the world. A wonderful way to spend the evening would be to take a shikara ride on the scenic Dal Lake to enjoy the sunset.
GWALIOR is famous for its old and very large fort, within whose walls several interesting temples and ruined palaces exist. The dramatic and colourful history of the great fort goes back to over 1000 years. It rises 100 metres above the town. Teli Ka temple and Sas Bahu temple have a peculiar plan and design. Man Singh Palace is a delightfully whimsical building. It is also known as the Chit Mandir or Painted Palace because of the tiled and painted decorations of ducks, elephants and peacocks. Archaeological Museum has a large collection of Hindu and Jain sculptures and copies of the Bagh Caves frescoes. Jai Vilas Palace & Museum is the palace of the Scindia family. Although the current Maharaja still lives in this palace, a large part of it is now, a museum called Maharaj Bada Seven. Comprising Ancient buildings of different architecture like Italian, Russian, Mughal, Rajput and Chinese, can be viewed from here. Gwalior Trade Fair was inaugurated in 1905 by Maharaja Madho Rao, the King of Gwalior. It has become the biggest fair of Madhya Pradesh and indeed one of the most colourful fairs of India. Deen Dayal City Mall houses shops and showrooms of many national and international brands and has a number of eateries, and a multiplex.
PANCHKUYAN MANDIR, Madhya Pradesh - This is a very famous Hanuman Mandir called Panchkuyan Hanuman Mandir. The specialty of the temple is that there are thousands of parrots that can be found inside the mandir. Every day people provide them with tonnes and tonnes of the feeds-dhanyam. It can be seen that before feeding, the parrots would first see the statue of Hanuman and then start eating them. This is seen as the bhakti of parrots towards Hanuman.
AJMER - A place of Muslim pilgrimage is situated at the foot of the Ajajmeru Hill. The last Hindu ruler was defeated by Mohammed Ghori here. A favourite residence of the great Moghuls, Ajmer, is also one of the first places of contact between the Moghuls and the British. Sir Thomas Roe met Jehangir here in 1616. The main places of interest are the Dargāh, tomb of the most revered Muslim sufi saint Muinniddhin Chishtī, known as Gharīb Nawāz, or the ‘Benefactor of the Poor’. Taragarh Fort at Ajmer is claimed to be the first hill fort of Asia, one of the oldest hill forts of the world. It is approached by steep and very roughly paved slopes. Ajmer is also just a stepping stone to nearby Pushkar, famous for the Pushkar Lake & Brahma temple , the godhead of the Hindu Pantheon and Creator of the universe. This is the most celebrated site for the worship of Brahma. Pushkar is also famous for its annual Pushkar Camel Fair during November.
BIKANER, the desert city, is situated on an elevated ground and is surrounded by a seven kilometer long embattled wall, pierced by five gates. The magnificent fort and imposing temples made of red and yellow sandstone, display some of the finest creations of the Rajputs. The Karni Mata Temple, is a temple where pilgrims worship thousands of holy rats. Junagarh Fort depicts the ideas of Raja Rai Singh, which have been incorporated meticulously into the architectural style of the Junagarh Fort. The Laxmi Niwas Palace was designed by the British architect, Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob . It is now a luxury hotel with a magnificent red structure. Lalgarh Palace has several grand halls, cupolas, pavilions, magnificent pillars, elaborate fireplaces, Italian colonnades, intricate latticework and filigree work. The Bikaner Royal Family still live in the palace. Moolnayakji is the first Vaishnav Temple in Bikaner. Laxmi Nath Temple is one of the oldest temples in Bikaner. Bhandasar Jain Temple is considered to be most beautiful and famous, mainly for the wall paintings and Usta artform. JAIPUR, popularly known as the Pink City, was built on the principles of Shilpa Shastra, the science of Indian architecture. City Palace is an imposing blend of traditional Rajasthan and Mughal architecture. The former Maharaja still lives in the palace. Jantar Mantar is a tribute to Jai Singh’s passion for astronomy which was more notable than his powers as a warrior. The Jaipur observatory is the largest and the best preserved of the five, that he built. Jantar Mantar had specific purposes, such as measuring the positions of stars, altitudes and azimuths, or calculating eclipses. Amber Palace is a superb example of Rajput architecture, stunningly situated on a hillside and overlooking a lake which reflects its terraces and ramparts. Central Museum is housed in the architecturally impressive Albert Hall in the Ram Niwas Gardens. Birla Lakshmi Narayan Temple, with its splendid marble carving, was built by the Birla family.
JAISALMER Fort & Palaces. Nowhere else in India is a place remotely similar to Jaisalmer. Yet this desert fortress is straight out of the tales of the Arabian Nights and one could easily be forgiven for imagining that he or she has been transported back to medieval Afghanistan. Magical, incomparably romantic and totally unspoiled, this city has been nicknamed the ‘Golden City’. People have built magnificent houses and mansions, all exquisitely carved from wood and from golden-yellow sandstone. While these can be found elsewhere in Rajasthan, nowhere are they quite as exotic, as in Jaisalmer. On a hill, overlooking the town lies the Fort, in the heart of the Thar Desert . Camel safaris through the nearby desert, and a few quiet days spent wandering around the town and the surrounding desert could be a wonderful way of relaxing. Jaisalmer Fort’s massive sandstone walls are a tawny lion colour during the day which turns to a magical honey-gold as the sun sets. It is a living fort. Patwon-ki-Haveli, with its ornate five-storey complex, is the largest, the most magnificent and the most elaborate of the Jaisalmer havelis. Salam Singh-ki-Haveli has a beautifully arched roof capped with blue cupolas and carved brackets in the form of peacocks. Nathmalji-ki-Haveli facade is a riot of ornamentation with flowers, birds, elephants, soldiers, a bicycle and even a steam engine.
UDAIPUR - The very word Udaipur evokes memories of warriors warding off the mighty Mughals. It was here that Maharana Pratap kept his historic tryst with Emperor Akbar. It was here that Rani Padmini preferred “Jauhar”and walked alive into a flaming pyre than be subjected to any indignity by the invaders. Meera, the royal poetess and worshipper of Lord Krishna, was born here. Udaipur is a city of shimmering lakes, rugged hills and embattlements, in the shape of palaces, both big and small. The City Palace and its imposing octagonal towers surmounted by cupolas, add excellence to the architecture. At every step, there is a hoary relic, comparable in magnificence to the Windsor Palace at United Kingdom. Zenana Mahal is a romantic palace, possessive of their womenfolk. The Kings had it built as an impregnable fortress without even a window. Lake Palace as the name implies, is a palace set amidst the lake - Pichola. The Maharana Pratap Memorial on an elevated platform is an imposing statue of the Maharana, in bronze alloy astride his favourite horse “Chetak”. Lake Fateh Sagar north of Lake Pichola, overlooks a number of hills and parks. Jag Mandir here is an island palace.
AGRA Wonder of the World, the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. The chosen city of the Mughal emperors, during the early years of the Moghul period. It was here that the founder of the dynasty, Babur, laid out the first formal Persian Garden on the banks of the river Yamuna. Taj Mahal - If there’s a building which represents a country, like the Eiffel Tower for France, the Sydney Opera House for Australia, then it has to be the Taj Mahal for India. This the most famous Moghul monument was constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the ‘Lady of the Taj’. It has been described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love, by the emperor, who was heartbroken when Mumtaz, to whom he had been married for 17 years, died in 1629, during childbirth, after producing 14 children. The Taj Mahal stands serene and perfect in its garden of cypresses and reflecting pools on the banks of the river Yamuna. Its pure white marble shimmers like silver in the moonlight glows softly in pink at dawn and at the close of day, reflects the fiery tints of the setting sun. The Taj in all its timeless beauty continues to inspire poets, painters, writers and photographers. Lovers still meet here in the moonlight in the shadow of the world’s most famous monument of love. During the reign of the Moghuls, in the 16th and 17th centuries, Agra was the capital of India, and its superb monuments, dates from that era. Agra Fort has a magnificent fort and building. Construction of the massive Agra Fort was begun by Emperor Akbar and additions were made till the time of his grandson, Shah Jahan. During Akbar’s time, the fort was principally a military structure and by Shah Jahan’s time it had become partially a palace. There are many fascinating buildings inside the massive walls. Fatehpūr Sikrī - the Mughal Emperor Akbar built Fatehpūr Sikrī and shifted his capital there. An inscription on the central face of the Buland Darwāza demonstrates Akbar’s religious broad mindedness. It has a message from Jesus advising his followers not to consider this world as their permanent home.
ALLAHABAD - The ancient name of the city is Prayag and is believed to be the spot where Brahma offered his first sacrifice after creating the world. At the Triveni Sangam, the Sangam or confluence of the sacred rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswathi. It is also the site of the famous Kumbh Mela that is held once in every 12 years. The Fort - Built in 1583 by Emperor Akbar, the impressive fort here overlooks the river. Situated here are the underground Patalpuri Temple and the Undying Banyan tree, also known as Akshai Veta. This tree is mentioned by the Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang, writes of pilgrims sacrificing their lives by leaping to death from it, in order to seek salvation. Anand Bhavan-the ancestral home of the Nehru family. Here historic meetings were held during the Indian struggle for Independence. Allahabad is associated with 7 out of 14 Prime Ministers of India. Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Gulzarilal Nanda, Vishwanath Pratap Singh and Chandra Shekhar were all either born in Allahabad or were alumni of Allahabad University or got elected from a constituency in Allahabad.
VARANASI an ancient city and a centre of learning for over 2000 years. Varanasi is the holiest of pilgrimage places located on the banks of the river Ganga. It is also commonly known as Banaras. Considered as the centre of earth in Hindu Cosmology, every Hindu is expected to visit this holy place at least once in a lifetime and if possible pour the remains or ashes of cremated ancestors here. Varanasi is one of the oldest inhabitated cities in the world and probably the oldest city of India. American writer Mark Twain wrote “Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” According to legend, the city was founded by the Hindu deity, Lord Shiva, around 5,000 years ago. Varanasi was a commercial and industrial centre, famous for its muslin and silk fabrics, perfumes, ivory works, and sculpture. It has the holy shrine of Kashi Vishwanath and it is also one of the twelve revered Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Hindus believe that bathing in the river Ganges remits sins and that dying in Kashi ensures release of a person's soul from the cycle of its transmigrations. Varanasi is one of the holiest places in Buddhism too, being one of the four pilgrimage sites said to have been designated by Gautama Buddha. At Sarnath Gautama Buddha is said to have given his first sermon about the basic principles of Buddhism. Ghats - Varanasi's principal attraction is the long string of bathing Ghats which line the west bank of the Ganges. Ghats are the steps which lead down to the river, and houses two burning Ghats, where bodies are cremated. Great Mosque of Aurangzeb - It has been constructed using columns from the Biseswar Temple razed by Aurangzeb. Durga Temple is commonly known as the Monkey temple due to the number of monkeys that have made it their home. Tulsi Manas Temple - Famous medieval age poet and author, Tulsi Das, lived here. Benares Hindu University The Bharat Kala Bhavan at the university has a fine collection of miniature paintings and sculptures from the 1st to 15th centuries. Alamgir Mosque Locally known as Beni Madhav Ka Darera, this was originally a Vishnu temple erected by the Maratha Chieftain Beni Madhav Rao Scindia. Aurangzeb destroyed it and erected a mosque in its place, but it is a curious Hindu- Muslim mixture with the lower portion of the structure, entirely Hindu.
DEHRADUN Shivalik Hills is in the south, the river Ganga is in the east, and the river Yamuna is in the west. Rivers, Ganga and Yamuna, divide and pass through the city. Budha Temple & Clementown Park, Malsi Deer Park, Sahastradhara, Tapkeshwar Shiva Temple, Robber’s Cave, Lachhiwala and Maldevta are some of the sightseeing places of this hill station. HARIDWAR is an important pilgrimage city. The river Ganga, flowing for 253 kilometres from its source at Gaumukh, at the edge of the Gangotri Glacier, enters the plains, at Haridwar. Regarded as one of the seven holiest places of Hindus. Haridwar along with Ujjain, Nasik and Allahabad is one of the four sites where drops of Amrit, the elixir of immortality, accidentally spilled over from the pitcher, while being carried by the celestial bird, Garuda. This has manifested in the Kumbha Mela being celebrated every 3 years in one of the 4 places, and thus every 12 years in Haridwar. At the Kumbha Mela, millions of pilgrims, devotees and tourists congregate in Haridwar to perform ritualistic bathing on the banks of the river Ganga to wash away their sins to attain Moksha. Brahma Kund, the spot where the Amrit fell, is located at Har ki Pauri, literally, “footsteps of the Lord” and is considered to be the most sacred ghat of Haridwar. The evening prayer and Aarti at dusk offered to Goddess Ganga at Har-Ki-Pauri on the steps of God Hara or Shiva is an enchanting experience. A spectacle of sound and colour is seen when, after the ceremony, pilgrims float diyas, floral floats with lamps and incense on the river, commemorating their deceased ancestors. Thousands of people from all round the world make it a point to attend this prayer on their visit to Haridwar.
MUSSOORIE is a hill station, situated in the foothills of the Himalaya ranges also known as the Queen of the Hills. Being at an average altitude of 1,880 metres, Mussoorie, with its green hills and varied flora and fauna, is a fascinating hill resort. Mussoorie has a beautiful nature walk known as “Camel’s Back Road”. This road takes its name from a rocky outcrop in the shape of a camel’s hump. Along the road, a beautiful cemetery and “Gun Hill” Kempty falls is a nice picnic spot and a small Tibetan temple, the first Tibetan temple built in India. Gun Hill is the second highest point of Mussoorie. Lake Mist is a well developed picnic spot with boating facilities. Municipal Garden is a picnic spot having a beautiful garden and an artificial mini lake with paddle boating facility. Sir George Everest’s House Park Estate is where one can find the remains of the building and laboratory of Sir George Everest, the Surveyor-General of India . It is after George Everest, that the world’s highest peak Mt. Everest is named. Nag Devta Temple an ancient temple dedicated to the Snake God or Lord Shiva. This place provides an enchanting view of Mussoorie and the Doon Valley.Jwalaji Temple (Benog Hill) contains an old idol of Goddess Durga. There is a marvelous view of the Aglar River valley. Himalayan Weavers produce hand-woven shawls, stoles, scarves using only natural dyes and wool, eri silk and pashmina.
NAINITAl is set amidst a valley containing a pear-shaped lake, approximately two miles in circumference and surrounded by mountains. Magnificent view can be seen of the vast plain to the south or of the mass of tangled ridges lying in the north, bounded by the great snowy range which forms the central axis of the Himalayas. The Naina Devi Temple flanking the mountain range houses Naina Devi, Mata Kali and Lord Ganesha. The church of St. John in the Wilderness was so named by Daniel Wilson, the Bishop of Calcutta, as he was obliged to sleep in an unfinished house on the edge of the forest. Governor’s House also known as Raj Bhavan and formerly the Government House was built and designed in the Victorian Gothic domestic style. Snow View is situated at an altitude of 2,270 metres. Naina Peak also known as China or Cheena Peak is the highest peak in the town, with an altitude of 2,615 metres. Tiffin Top also known as Dorothy’s Seat and the Bhimtal Lake is larger than the Naini Lake.
RISHIKESH in Sanskrit is a name of Lord Vishnu which means ‘Lord of the Senses’. The place gets its name after Lord Vishnu who appeared to ‘Raibhya Rishi’ as a result of his tapasya, austerities, as Lord Rishikesh. The home of Sivananda Ashram and the Divine Life Society founded by Swami Sivananda is situated to the north of Rishikesh. The Ganga Arati is performed at dusk at the Triveni Ghat. ‘Neelkanth Mahadev Temple’, set amidst forests, along with ‘Vasishtha Gufa, Cave of sage Vasishtha, can be visited from Rishikesh. Legends state, that Lord Rama performed penance here for killing Ravana, the demon King of Lanka, and Lakshmana, his younger brother, crossed the river Ganga, at a point, where the present ‘Lakshman Jhula’ bridge stands today, using a jute rope bridge. The sacred river Ganga flows through Rishikesh. It is here that the river leaves the Shivalik mountains in the Himalayas and flows out into the plains of northern India. Rishikesh, sometimes nicknamed “the world capital of Yoga”, has numerous yoga centres. It is believed that meditation in Rishikesh brings one, closer to attainment of moksha, as does a dip in the holy river that flows through it. Rishikesh is also home to the 120-year old Kailas Ashram Brahmavidyapeetham, an institution dedicated to preserve and promote the traditional Vedantic studies. Swami Vivekananda, Swami Rama Tirtha and Swami Shivananda, have studied in this institution.
MATHURA is a holy mythological town located on the banks of the river Yamuna. According to the mythological history, Mathura or Brajbhoomi is famous as a birthplace of Lord Krishna who is considered to be the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. Vasudeva had carried Krishna, the eigth child of Devaki, to Vrindavan or Mathura to save him from being killed by Kamsa. Historical city of Mathura and its surroundings carry interesting stories and childhood exploits of Lord Krishna. According to the history of Mathura, it became a part of the Mauryan Empire under the reign of King Ashoka. The benevolent king was an ardent follower of Buddhism. During this period, in the 3rd century BC he built beautiful Buddhist monuments and monasteries in and around Mathura. The city was an important center of art and culture between first century BC and first century AD. The wonderful carvings and sculpture of this period are referred to as the Mathura School of Art. After the decline of the Mauryan Empire, Hinduism establishes its stronghold in this region. Mahmud of Ghazni ransacked the city in 11 th century AD destroying Buddhist and Hindu shrines. Finally, it came under the British rule in 1804.
Tourist Places – Central India
AURANGABAD - It is famous for its Cave Temples and is a base camp to visit Ajantha and Ellora. Aurangabad meaning “Built by the Throne” is named after the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. The city is a tourist hub, surrounded with many historical monuments, including the Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites besides Bibi Ka Maqbara. Aurangabad is said to be a City of Gates and the strong presence of these can be felt as one drives through the city. Bibi Ka Maqbara: the burial place of Aurangzeb’s wife, Rabia-ud-Durrani. It is an imitation of the Taj at Agra and due to its similar design, it is popularly known as the Mini Taj of the Deccan. The other tourists’ places are Gates in Aurangabad, Aurangabad Caves, Quila-e-Ark, Kali Masjid and Jumma Masjid.
ELLORA & AJANTA - ELLORA CAVES- Daulatabad, Rauza - With its countless number of historical figures, caves, sculptures and paintings, Ellora represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 “caves” are actually structures, excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills. It was initially thought that the Buddhist caves were one of the earliest structures, created between the fifth and the eighth centuries, but now it is clear to the modern scholars that some of the Hindu caves precede them. The ceilings are carved to give the impression of wooden beams. The construction of this cave was a feat of human genius. It entailed removal of 200,000 tonnes of rock which took 100 years to complete.The AJANTA CAVES are 31 rock-cut cave monuments, containing paintings and sculptures considered to be masterpieces of both Buddhist religious art and universal pictorial art. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This cave has one of the most elaborate carvings on its facade with relief sculptures on entablature and ridges. There are scenes carved from the life of the Buddha as well as a number of decorative motifs. Paintings are all over the cave except for the floor. At various places the art work has eroded due to decay and human interference. The technique and process used to produce this kind of artwork is different and very unique, unlike any other artwork found in the art history of other civilizations.
MUMBAI has innumerable places of interest. Chowpati Beach, India Gateway, Colaba Causeway, Prince of Wales Museum, University and High Court, Mahalakshmi Temple, Marine Drive, Tower of Silence, Hanging Gardens, Juhu Beach and Elephanta Caves - Mumbai has innumerable places of interest. It is a cluster of 7 islands. The industrialist’s heaven and moviemakers’ Hollywood, Mumbai is the economic powerhouse of India. The most populous city in India, it is the second most populous city in the world, with a population of approximately 14 million. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. Mumbai is also the richest city in India.
SHIRIDI is famous for the samadhi temple of Sri Sai Baba, who attained Maha Shanti. Sai Baba of Shirdi was an Indian guru, yogi and fakir, who is regarded by his Hindu and Muslim devotees, as a saint. Some Hindu followers have recently claimed that he was an incarnation of Shiva or Dattatreya. Many devotees believe that he was a Sadguru. There are many stories and eyewitness accounts of miracles he performed. He is a well-known figure in many parts of the world, but especially in India, where he is much revered. Sai Baba lived in a mosque which he called Dwarakamayi, practised Hindu and Muslim rituals, taught using words and figures that were drawn from both traditions and was buried in a Hindu temple in Shirdi. Sai Baba taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace and devotion to God and Guru. 133
Tourist Places – Eastern India
BHUBANESWAR is the capital of Orissa. The city is over 2000 years old with magnificent sculptures and architecture. The city is surrounded by a dense canopy of forests, picturesque with an abundance of greenery with the efficient civic body making it one of the cleanest and greenest cities of India today. The most famous temples are Lingaraj Temple, Lakshmanesvara group of temples, Parasuramesvara Temple, Svarnajalesvra Temple, Muktesvara Temple, Rajarani Temple, Vaital Temple, Bhramesvara temple, Meghesvara temple, Vaskaresvara Temple, Ananta Vasudeva Temple, Sari Temple, Kapilesvara Temple, Markandesvara temple, Yamesvara temple, Chitrakarini temple and Sisiresvara Temple. At Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri and Udaygiri, Buddhist sites of great historical significance have been excavated. The site at Ratnagiri is the most extensive and the carvings and sculpture are highly regarded for their intricacy and artistic merit. The twin hills of Khandagiri & Udayagiri, served as the site of an ancient Jain monastery which was carved into cave like chambers on the face of the hill. The Lingaraja temple of Bhubaneswar has been described as “the truest fusion of dream and reality. The Lingaraja temple has been rated as one of the finest examples of Hindu temples in India by Ferguson, the noted art critic and historian. Dhauli Giri Bhubaneswar, looking down on the plains, bore witness to the gruesome war waged on Kalinga by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka the Great. Details of the war are found in the rock edicts of Dhauli. It was here that Ashoka, full of remorse after the Kalinga War in 261 BC, renounced his blood-thirsty campaign and turned to Buddhism. Bhubaneswar is a gastronomic delight, famous for its seafood and sweets.
KONARK is the site of the Sun Temple also known as the Black Pagoda. The temple is a World Heritage Site and is in the form of chariot of Surya, the Sun God, and heavily decorated with stone carving. The entire complex was designed in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on twelve pairs of exquisitely decorated wheels. This is where the temple dancers used to perform dances in homage to the Sun God. All around the temple, there are various floral and geometric patterns. There are also human, divine and semi-divine figures in sensuous poses. The various forms contain couples in various amorous poses and are derived from the Kama Sutra. Konark beach is a popular tourist destination. Architectural glory of the Sun Temple - Majestic in conception, this temple is indeed one of the most sublime monuments of India, famous as much for its imposing dimensions and faultless proportions as for the harmonious integration of architectural grandeur
PURI is known to many as Jagannath Puri after the Jagannath Temple. Puri is one of the oldest cities in the eastern part of the country and is a popular beach resort, positioned in a unique place so that both sunset and sunrise can be viewed from the beach. Puri is considered as a holy place of pilgrimage in India. The world famous Jagannath Temple also known as the Bada Deula or the Gateway to Heaven, Swargadwara, as per the Hindu mythology is found here. Swargadwara means the direct gateway to Heaven. Swarga means Heaven and Dwara means Gate. There is also a Burning Ghat for Hindus here. Ratha Jatra, Bada Thakura, Lord Jagannath, Bada Danda Grand Road, Bada Raja - Maha Prasada-cooked food from the temple and, Maha Dipa - or oil candle are notable events, sites and things of tourist interests in Puri
GANGTOK is the capital and largest town of Sikkim situated at an altitude of 1,437 metres with year-round mild temperate climate. Gangtok has five seasons, summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. The monsoon season from June to September is characterized by intense torrential rains often causing landslides that block Gangtok’s land access to the rest of the country.
DARJEELING is famous worldwide for its tea industry and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Darjeeling also has several British public schools, which attract students from all over India and neighbouring countries.Flora around Darjeeling comprises sal, oak, semi-evergreen, temperate and alpine forests and wide variety of rare orchids. The Lloyd’s Botanical Garden preserves common and rare species of plants, while the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park specializes in conserving and breeding endangered Himalayan species. The fauna found in Darjeeling includes several species of ducks, teals, plovers and gulls that pass Darjeeling while migrating to and from Tibet. Small mammals found in the region include civets, mongoose and badgers.
KOLKATA is the capital of West Bengal. Kolkata is the cultural capital of India and the commercial capital of Eastern India. The city 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. Once the centre of modern education, science, culture and politics in India, Kolkata witnessed economic stagnation in the years following India’s independence in 1947. It is noted for its revolutionary history, ranging from the Indian struggle for independence to the leftist and trade union movements. It has been nicknamed the City of Palaces based on the numerous palatial mansions built all over the city. Lord Curzon’s brainchild is the memorial to the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India, Queen Victoria. The Victoria Memorial was modelled on the lines of Taj Mahal . The memorial holds numerous paintings of the British royal family, miniature paintings of the Mughal school, oil paintings of the Company school , historical artifacts like the throne of the Nawab of Bengal, many lithographs and documents of historical interest and various post-Raj artifacts are significant in the history of Kolkata. The memorial is set in extensive and beautiful lawns, and is lit up at night. The Indian Museum is the largest museum in Asia and the oldest in the Asia - Pacific region. The Marble Palace is a privately owned collection of eclectic sculptures, paintings and a small menagerie and aviary. Birla Industrial & Technological Museum is the first popular science museum in Asia. Modelled on the Deutsches Museum, its collection of old gramophones, sound recorders, telephones, steam engines, road rollers and other industrial machinery of the period 1880–1950 are very significant. The museum, sports a vintage model of the Rolls Royce Phantom model. Science City features a lot of interactive science and live bioscience exhibits. The Jorasanko Thakur Bari is the ancestral home of the Tagore family which was converted into a museum. Gurusaday Museum, is the outcome of a lifetime of collection of traditional Bengal folk arts in undivided Bengal by Sir Gurusaday Dutt. The Asutosh Museum of Indian Art and Bengal folk arts, has significant archaeological holdings from sites in West Bengal and Bihar like Chandraketugarh and Tamluk. Jawahar Shishu Bhavan - The museum has a collection of dolls and toys from across the globe and has a doll enacting the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The National Library of India located in Alipore, is India’s leading library and a public library. Maidan means “field” in Hindi and Bengali. The Maidan has nurtured sports like Polo, and has been the home of equestrian sports, horseracing, football, cricket and rugby in Kolkata. Rabindra Sarobar or “The Lake” is an artificial lake and an urban park built on the lines of Central Park, New York City. The Salt Lake Central Park is a large urban park. The Indian Botanical Garden, spread over 270 acres is the oldest Botanical Garden in India. 135