Category: Destination Tips

What Can You See On The Golden Triangle or The Delhi-Agra-Jaipur Route ?

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The Delhi-Agra-Jaipur route (or the Golden Triangle) is one of the most popular routes in India that gives one several spectacular sights all along the way. New Delhi, the capital of India, is one of the major metropolitan cities of India, with a bustling population of 2.18 crores (Source: Wikipedia.com).  It’s a unique city which is embedded within Old Delhi, once the capital of India’s rich and composite culture and heritage. However, New Delhi, today, has changed radically through the years.

Next, venture into the ChandiniChowk Market, the busiest market of Old Delhi and Paharganj, a neighbourhood of Central Delhi, which sells almost everything you want; a paradise for budget shoppers as well.

The 17th century Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built by the great Mughal emperor Shahjahan, is a must­see historical monument, in addition to its two famous entrances: the Delhi Gate and Lahori Gate. The India Gate, a war memorial dedicated to 82,000 soldiers of the undivided Indian Army who laid down their lives during the First World War in the period between 1914 and 1921, is also a major tourist attraction.

If you are in Agra, travel to the Tomb of Mirza Ghiyas-Ud-din or Ghiyas Beg or ItimadUdDaulah, another mausoleum similar to the famous Taj Mahal. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Itimad-Ud-Daulah is also called as ‘jewel box’ and ‘Baby Taj’.

The Taj Mahal in Agra is no dearth of wonders. A classical example of Mughal architecture, the Taj is a colossal mausoleum complex built by Emperor Shahjahan to house the remains of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal. The construction work that started in 1632 took 25 years to complete with the help of 20,000 artisans.

Jaipur, popularly known as the ‘pink city’ of India, is the capital of the state of Rajasthan. You can find that almost every building in the walled historic city sports the colour of terracotta pink. Major attractions that you couldn’t afford to miss out include the Hawa Mahal, the Observatory and the City Palace. Next in the list of mustsee places is the Amber Fort, nestled in the Aravalli Hills. The fortress that is honeycoloured lends a panoramic view of the adjoining areas. Also, Sheesh Mahal in Jaipur, the fabulous glass palace in Amber Fort, is a reflection of the elegant and regal lifestyle of the Rajput Kuchwada.

Are The Havelis Of Old Delhi Disappearing In The Tides Of Time?

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Splendid Havelis that once dotted the lanes of Old Delhi were known for their impressive doorways, stunning marble arches, and eminent occupants. But time has its own terms! Time unleashed destruction and with no hopes of the restoration of palatial homes, the grand structures, today, are left to oblivion barely identifiable. It goes without saying that official supineness and financial constraints are destroying the capital’s heritage bit by bit.

The shambles of several grand and spacious homes in Chandni Chowk echoes the sentiments of the stately palace of the bygone era. Zeenat Mahal, constructed in 1846, bears the name of the favorite wife of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor of India. The biggest mansion in the area, adorned with jharokhas with jaali work, intricate murals, and lively colors, has seen the distinctive times of history.

Old Delhi, built by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan, is a walled city known as Shahjahanabad that has eight gates Kashmiri, Nigambodh, Kabuli, Mori, Ajmeri, Lahori, Delhi and Turkman gate which stands formidable and tall to this day. However, the walls that connected the various gates are no longer found here.

Chandini Chowk, one of the main streets of Shahjahanabad was designed and constructed by Jahanara Begum, one of the most talented Mughal princesses and daughter of Shahjahan. A canal ran through the entire city and as it reflected moonlight brilliantly, it earned the name  of “Chandni Chowk” (or Moonlit Square)

There is the Bazaar Sita Ram in irremediable ruin. The Haksar haveli, where Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, tied the knot with Kamala Kaul is in a dilapidated state.

An interesting structure in the Katra Neel section is the Chunnamal haveli, a three-story building, which, at one point of time had 128 rooms. This looks like the only structure that is kind of well preserved compared to the other havelis in the area.

Other places of attraction include Namak Haram haveli, Fatehpuri Masjid and Queens Garden (also known as Jahanara ka Bagh or Begum ka Bagh). This place used to be quite famous for maalishwalas. Another historic landmark is Hardayal Municipal Library, strangely named after the Hardayal, the man who hurled a bomb at Lord Harding, a British officer during the freedom struggle.

Walking through these battered lanes one can sense the embers of a once free-flowing Indo-Islamic heritage and culture. The haveli quarters that vanished in the sands of time offer you a peep into a glorious past that will be forever remembered as the golden period of Indian medieval history.

 

Things You Must Not Fail To Do When In Coorg, Karnataka

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Coorg, officially called ‘Kodagu’, is the most picturesque hill station in Karnataka. This beauty of a hill station is clad with verdant greenery and awe-inspiring scenery. Coorg comes as a perfect weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. Here is why Coorg needs to be on your bucket list:

1.Camping:
Nothing can beat camping down at Coorg, especially if listening to the melancholic chirping of birds is your calling. A spectacular sight beckons when the sun touches the sky with its rays. The inviting weather is perfect to take a stroll and view nature’s bounties. The best experience is when you travel Coorg during the winter or just when monsoon bids adieu.

2.River Rafting:
River rafting at Coorg is the real icing on the cake in terms of outdoor sporting experience. An early morning start from Barapole is the perfect stream on which to do rafting. Exercise precaution as the waters can turn out turbulent, worse if the weather is bad. All said it shouldn’t stop you from going crazy!

3.Trek:
Coorg presents a lot of trekking options, whether you’re a seasoned trekker or an amateur. Kumar Parvatha, which is 1712m above the sea level, is the sixth highest peak in Karnataka and second highest in Coorg. The thrill and frills of trekking in Coorg is a different piece of cake altogether, and just the thing for someone driven by an adrenaline rush.

4.Plantation walk:

Unlike the high action-packed sporting activities discussed above, a walk along the plantation looking at the coffee plants is an irresistible experience, with the constant chirruping of birds and a strong and invigorating scent of the vast coffee plantations around. You can find coffee-tasting sessions that will help you explore the amazing and varied world of coffee.

5. Visit a wildlife sanctuary:
The Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site,  is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. The sanctuary is known to house exotic and rare species of flora and fauna. You may even set camp here and enjoy a peaceful night. The recommended time for sightings is between November and March.

 

All About The Nelliampathi Hills – Kerala’s Trekker’s Paradise

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The Nelliampathi hills, located in God’s own country, Kerala is a feast to the eyes of the onlooker. Caressing the clouds, the Nelliampathi hills is marked by grandeur and splendour and lend one an awe-inspiring sight, to say the least. Located in Nenmara in Palakkad district, it is separated by 102 km from the Coimbatore Airport and 150 km from Cochin International Airport. The hill ranges stand tall at a height of 465m to 1570m and ensure you will definitely come again to explore more.
To reach Nelliampathi, the road from Nenmara takes you all the way to the Pothundy Dam. You need to drive through 10 sharp hairpin bends en route to Nelliampathi.

The Pothundy Dam has some excellent recreational facilities in boating and makes a nice outing area. As you drive your way through the dense forests and up the testing hairpin bends to Nelliampathi, there are a few viewpoints where you can stop by and witness the vast expanse of Pallakad district unfolding with its green bounty of paddy fields adding to the sylvan charm.

You can take also take a look at the Ginger farm from Nelliampathi, which lends a panoramic view of the splendid Western Ghats formation in this expanse, bringing into view, enjoining parts of the neighbouring state of Tamilnadu. If you are planning for a day out or a weekend getaway, from the big city, you don’t need to go far than travel to Nelliampathi.

There are quite a few privately owned resorts and hotels in the region, especially as you move atop the hills of Nelliampathi. You can spot bio-farms as you travel further uphill towards the Palagapandy Estate, housing a colonial bungalow, constructed during the British Raj in India, and now which has been made into a privately-owned resort. Nelliampathi, assuming that the weather is fine, is great for trekking. Travel a little further to Seetharkundu for a mesmerizing view of the valley and a stunning waterfall dropping about 110m. If you have some more time left to explore Palagapandy, then either take a car or stretch yourself a bit to trek to reach Mampara, another quiet hill station in the region.

The area enclosing the Palagapandy Estate is lush and flush with cardamom, tea and coffee plantations with the adjoining hills home to rich wildlife including elephants, leopards, Giant Squirrel, Indian Gaur, etc and a delightful haven for birdwatchers.

Five Reasons To Visit Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu this Monsoon!

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Monsoon has its own charm and magic, and there is everyone reason why should take a trip to the picturesque hill station of Kodaikanal in Tamilnadu. Kodaikanal, with its over-flowing beauty, is nature’s gift to man. Therefore, if nature is your thing, then Kodaikanal lies right in the lap of nature and clouds. Many of these places go green during monsoon and look outoftheworld. The scorching summer heat gives way to balmy and chilling breezes and cool showers that will make you enjoy the charming tourist haven: obviously, the best time to travel! Here are 5 good reasons why Kodaikanal will be a great place to hit this summer

1.The perfect weather:
Only very few hill stations in India come close to Kodaikanal in terms of the salubrious climate all around the year. The monsoon is characterised by temperature level between 10 and 18 degree C – just what you require for going around, putting your feet up or just going blah!

2.Break-taking views:
Kodaikanal dubbed the “Princess of Hill Stations”, is snugly nestled on a plateau and is enveloped by views of hair-raising hills and valleys. If you like to hug the landscapes of cloudy skies and deep valleys, then Kodaikanal is just the place for you.

3.The forgotten history:

Kodaikanal has been long one of the most popular summer resorts in the country. In the 19th century, although the plains went through tropical diseases, Kodaikanal was still a welcome gateway.

4.The Pine Forests:

The sprawling pine forests of Kodaikanal have been the backdrop for many a Kollywood dream sequence songs and TV serials. The pine forests not only add to the mojo of the place but moderate the effects of sun, wind and rain.

5.The enchanting scenes:

From the still Kodaikanal Lake to the ‘far from the noise’ Poombarai village, Kodaikanal is a traveller’s delight. The Kodaikanal Solar Observatory, Pillar Rocks, Coaker’s Walk and Dolphin’s Nose make Kodaikanal a must-visit hill station in Tamilnadu.

News – Heritage Rail Museum Makes a Comeback in Ooty

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The ‘Heritage Rail Museum’ is a landmark attraction in the world-famous Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) that houses several old articles belonging to the 119-year-old NMR. The museum, which has been open to public view at the railway station, gives incisive information about the history of the mountain railway.

The inauguration of the ‘Heritage Rail Museum’, coincidentally, fell on the 230th birth centenary of John Sullivan, the founder of present-day Ooty (Nilgiris).

The museum, obviously, offers a great opportunity to see heritage railway objects they include ticket dating press machine, token pouch, gate signal lamp, hand signal lamp, lamp post, water container drum, iron water flask, water filter, typewriter, petromax light, well’s paraffin gas lamp, leather cash bag, point indicator lamp, lamp burner, ticket tube, wall clock, pinion wheel, station master’s room lamp, among other things.

The x-generation gets an opportunity to learn the evolution of NMR that commenced operation in 1899, and transformed itself, with time, to a ‘World Heritage Site’ in 2005.

The ticket dating pressing machine can wow the present day generation as the machine, to this day, stands testimony to the effectiveness of railway technocrats’ well-executed process of ticketing in the bygone era. The pinion wheel offers live-demo on how the NMR laboured along the distinct rack and pinion track in NMR Also, old photographs on NMR leaves one stumped and intrigued.

The ‘Heritage Rail Museum’ was inaugurated by Jayaraj, a senior staff at NMR. The chief guest at the inaugural event, Sateesh Saravanan, station director at Coimbatore, said that the museum would attract many a tourist interested to know a thing or two about NM R and the historical significance of the heritage train journey starting from the ‘charming’ Ooty station. Sateesh hinted that many of the exhibits in the museum are far from use and a couple of items including token pouch are still functional. He added that the museum will witness possible expansion in future to develop into a special heritage tourism destination tagged within the ‘heritage NMR’ to give a fillip to heritage tourism.

 

All you need to know about the Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad – Part 2

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The Salar Jung Museum is the pride of Hyderabad city. While we got to learn the history of the globally acclaimed museum in the first part of the blog, let us explore further the exciting experience the museum would offer one. In 1958, the State Government decided it would manage the museum, which hitherto was maintained by the Salar Jung Estate Committee.

Salar Jung MuseumIn 1961, it was settled that Salar Jung Museum and its library be made as an Institution of National Importance by an Act of Parliament. The administration then was handed over to an Autonomous Board with the Governor of Andhra Pradesh as its Chairman. In 1968, the museum was shifted to its present site of Afzalgunj from Dewan Devdi, Andhra Pradesh. This, however, resulted in a lot of valuable collections and artefacts – either stolen or lost.

The Salar Jung Museum, notwithstanding the loss, was able to preserve a huge and impressive collection of the founder. Salar Jung III is believed to have collected some 50,000 books and manuscripts and 43,000 artefacts during his entire lifetime. Not many of the collections, unfortunately, stand today at the museum. However, important works by Raja Ravi Varma, famed Indian artist from Kerala, are, no doubt, cynosures of attraction. Several of his art works depict scenes from the great epics of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana (often compared to the Quran, Bible, and works of Shakespeare and Greek poet Homer in terms of cultural significance) by integrating Indian artistic styles with European and Western academic art.

While the Salar Jung has exclusive paintings collections, the artefacts that you get to see in the museum represents the rich craftsmanship and traditions from all across the world for centuries. Be it the finely woven textiles from the Middle East, the brightly carved jade carvings from Indian rulers, furniture and glass from Europe and ceramics from Sino-Japan, the Salar Jung Museum is a masterly effort from one of the country’s greatest art lovers ever. A visit to the museum is worth every cent for a penetrating insight into art and history.

All you need to know about the Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad – Part 1

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The Salar Jung Museum in the historic South Indian city of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India, houses the largest single-man collection of unique and exquisite antiques in the world, making it a must visit place when you are in the city. This splendid display of artefacts belonging to different civilizations, which goes back as far as the first century, is a museum person’s delight.

salar jung museumThe Salar Jung Museum, established in 1951, is located on the southern bank of River Musi in Hyderabad. Comparing the Salar Jung to London’s Victoria & Albert Museum is like comparing apples and oranges, as it is quite vast and really unique in all respects. From paintings to sculptures, manuscripts, carvings, carpets, textiles, ceramics, clocks, metal work, and furniture from all parts of the world, the Salar Jung houses several other important treasures of the country.

The Salar Jung, the third biggest of India’s museums, was founded by Mir Yousuf Ali Khan or Salar Jung III, who comes from the elite Salar Jung family that had given five prime ministers to the erstwhile state of Hyderabad from 1720 to 1948, ruled by the famous Nizams.

Mir Turab Ali Khan, grandfather of Salar Jung III, was given title of Salar Jung I at the age of 13 and later went on to become the Prime Minister of Hyderabad state at the age of 24. Salar Jung I, while known for his astute reforms and administration acumen, was a great aesthete. Salar Jung III, whom his grandfather never met, influenced him to become one of India’s greatest art collectors. It was when he had decided to dedicate his entire life towards art collection that Salar Jung III relinquished the title and post of the Prime Minister in 1914.

After the death of Salar Jung III in 1949, a committee was set up by the Government of India to oversee the Salar Jung Estate, as he had no heir to pass it onto. The museum was officially opened to the general public in1951 in Diwan Devdi; the Salar Jung family’s residential palace comprises 78 rooms and lot many different buildings on the grounds.  The Salar Jung, which was initially a private museum, lost half of its prized artefacts all owned by Salar Jung III, the whereabouts of which remains a mystery to this day. Right, what does the Salar Jung Museum has in store for you? The collections would just wow you and transport you to another plane of thought. We will follow this up in the concluding part of this blog.

 

A short note on the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari

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If you are in Kanyakumari or Cape Comorin, the lovely scenic coastal town in TamilNadu on India’s southernmost tip, you got to visit the world famous Vivekananda Rock Memorial, considered to be one of the country’s most sacred rock monuments.  The Vivekananda Rock Memorial or the Vivekananda Mandapam has a grand structure and an impressive entrance that would remind one of Sri Ramakrishna Temple of Belur.  The only way to reach the Vivekananda Mandapam is to use the ferry service operated by the TamilNadu Department of Tourism which provides leisure cruise into the sea at affordable charges.

The Vivekananda Rock Memorial is built on the top of two rocks that are about 500 metres off the island.  It was constructed in 1970 by the Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee to honour the visit of the great spiritual sage and philosopher Swami Vivekananda to Shripada Parai on December 24 1892, prior to his taking part in the  1893 ‘World Religious Conference’ in Chicago.  It is said that he did intense spiritual meditation on the rock for two days to attain enlightenment.  The infinite love for the motherland made Vivekananda, the greatest patriot monk ever, tour all over the country. His three-day meditation on the mid-sea rock or Vivekananda Paarai proved a turning point in his life, for it is here he contemplated on the past, present and future of the country, and put forth the idea of the glorious Bharatvarsha. Later, Vivekananda became the country’s most illustrious Hindu spiritual reformer and philosopher.

The Vivekananda Rock Memorial houses two main structures namely Vivekananda Mandapam and Shripada Mandapam, turning out to be small coastal town’s main attraction. It was the late Eknath Ramkrishna Ranade, the social activist and leader, who mobilized support in the construction of the rock memorial that today is an embodiment of India’s rich cultural ethos and values.  The Vivekananda rock is generally open to public on all days and draws tourists in large numbers every day.

A note on Yelagiri Hills in TamilNadu

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When we talk of hill stations in TamilNadu, natural choices that pop up are Ooty (Nilgiris), Coonoor, Kodaikanal, Yercaud, among others.  But one hill station that has remained oblivious from tourist and public attraction is Yelagri Hills, located at a distance of 230km from the capital city of Tamilnadu, Chennai; 94km from Vellore and 178km from the capital city of Karnataka, Bengaluru. This picturesque and enchanting hill station is in the Vellore district of Tamilnadu, located in between the small towns of Vaniyambadi and Jolarpettai. It is also considered by many tourists, particularly those who have been there before, to be one of the best hill stations near Chennai and Bengaluru.

Yelagiri

Yelagiri is a group of 14 hamlets that lies between four mountain ranges covering a total area of 30sq.km, located at an altitude of 3500ft above sea level. The locals, mostly indigenous tribal people, engage in horticulture, agriculture, forestry, etc. The hills are surrounded by gorgeous rose gardens, quiet green valleys and fine orchards.

Athanavur, the main town of the hill station, has a breathtaking winding road that takes one all through the hills with several isolated villages. The hill station of Yelagiri was originally a privately-held property of the Yelagiri Zamindar family. It was brought under the Government of India in the 1950s. One can still witness the ancestral house of the Zamindars in the small village of Reddiyur in the Yelagiri hills.

If you love trekking, Swamimalai Hill, located at an altitude of 4338ft, is just the place for you. Considered the highest point in the hill station, the Swamimalai Hill lends a panoramic view of the hills. The hills are no short of long and incessant trekking trails through dense reserved forests. Other trekking spots that add to the attraction include Palamathi hills and Javadi Hills, though not as high as the Swamimalai. The Punganur Lake, like the famous Ooty Lake, is an artificially constructed lake with boating and spectacular view of the valleys. Paragliding is another adventure sport that is slowly catching up with the tourists in this region. Once you’re in Yelagiri make sure you don’t miss out on the Jalagamparai Waterfalls, the Velavan Temple and Nature Park —you, for sure, will never be disappointed.

The popular Yelagiri Summer festival is an annual event organized with great fanfare by the Tamilnadu Tourism Development during the month of May. The flower show here is a dazzling exhibit of pretty intricate gardening and design.  The dog show is a visual treat for dog lovers. The various cultural programs highlight the indigenous culture and age-long tradition of the hill station and its people. Tourists from every nook and corner of the state and other parts of India flock to see the fascinating Summer festival.  The recommended time to visit this hill station, endowed with absolute beauty, is between November and February.