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The Taj Mahal


The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan, the builder.


The Taj Mahal is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage."

Red Fort


The Red Fort is a historic fort in the city of Delhi in India. It was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for nearly 200 years, until 1856. It is located in the centre of Delhi and houses a number of museums.


Constructed in 1639 by the fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as the palace of his fortified capital Shahjahanabad, the Red Fort is named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone and is adjacent to the older Salimgarh Fort, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546 AD.

Amber Palace


Amer Fort is a fort located in Amer, Rajasthan, India. Amer is a town with an area of 4 square kilometres located 11 kilometres from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Located high on a hill, it is the principal tourist attraction in Jaipur.


Constructed of red sandstone and marble, the attractive, opulent palace is laid out on four levels, each with a courtyard. It consists of the Diwan-e-Aam, or "Hall of Public Audience", the Diwan-e-Khas, or "Hall of Private Audience", the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace), or Jai Mandir, and the Sukh Niwas where a cool climate is artificially created by winds that blow over a water cascade within the palace.

Ajanta and Ellora Caves


Ajanta and Ellora caves, considered to be one of the finest examples of ancient rock-cut caves are located near Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra, India. Adorned with beautiful sculptures, paintings and frescoes, Ajanta and Ellora caves are an amalgamation of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu monuments as the complex includes both Buddhist monasteries as well as Hindu and Jain temples. The Ajanta caves are 29 in number and were built in the period between 2nd century BC and 6th century AD whereas the Ellora Caves are more spread out and 34 in number and dates to the period between 6th and 11th Century AD.


Ajanta and Ellora caves are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are quite popular among travellers from all over the world. Ajanta Caves, located around 99km north of Aurangabad are mostly Buddhist sites and were used as a retreat by Buddhist Monks. Ellora is just 15 km west of Aurangabad and have a better mix of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist sites. These hand-carved caves were built and sponsored by the Indian rulers of those periods and are almost buried by thick forests all around. One of the most famous sites in the entire Ajanta and Ellora Caves is the Kailash Temple, which is also the single largest monolithic structure in the world. These rock-cut caves containing carvings are some of the best examples of ancient Indian architecture and sculpture.

Athirapally Falls, Thrissur


Located 60 km from the Thrissur district of Kerala, Athirapally Falls is a marvellous cascade of frothy waters that makes its way from the Anamudi mountains of the Western Ghats. This 80 ft high and 330 ft wide marvel is situated at the entrance of the Sholayar ranges and is often referred to as the "Niagara Falls of India". From here, the Athirapally falls flows through the verdant greenery of Vazhachal Forest toward the Arabian Sea, creating a spectacular vista of scintillating water, emerald jungles and azure sky.


When you land in Athirapally, you are greeted with the sight of charming green Sholayar Peaks peering over the rushing gush of the falls. Standing against the backdrop of a rustling jungle foliage, the scenery is as picturesque as it can get. Bird lovers cannot miss this place, for it is the only place in the Western Ghats where four endangered Hornbill species are seen. There is a pool above the falls where you can relax and unwind. To get a view of the waterfall, one needs to get down from the mountain for about 100 meters.


Another interesting fact to note is that the fall joins forces with the Chalakkudy river before reaching its final destination into the sea. Owing to its scenic beauty, it is one of the most popular picnic spots in Kerala. There are a couple of water theme parks on the way to Athirappilly called Silver Storm and Dream World and many resorts as well.

India Gate


The India Gate is located at the heart of India’s capital city, New Delhi. About 2.3 km from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, it is located on the eastern extremity of the ceremonial boulevard, Rajpath. India Gate is a war memorial dedicated to honor the soldiers of the Undivided Indian Army who died during World War I between 1914 and 1921. War memorials are buildings, installations, statues or other edifices dedicated either to celebrate victory in war, or to pay tribute to those who died or were injured in war. Delhiites and tourists alike throng the India Gate Lawns surrounding the monument for a leisurely evening, enjoying the light show at the fountains along with snacking on street food. A National War Memorial to honor all armed forces members killed after 1947 is under construction at the ‘C’ Hexagon of India Gate.


History of India Gate
The India Gate, originally named All India War Memorial, was built to pay homage to the 82,000 soldiers of the Undivided Indian Army who lost their lives fighting for the British Empire in World War I (1914-1918) and the Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919). It was undertaken as part of the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC) initiated by the British Imperial Mandate in 1917.The foundation stone was laid by the visiting Duke of Connaught on 10 February 1921, at 4:30 PM, in a military ceremony attended by members of the Indian Army as well as the Imperial Service Troops. The Commander in Chief, and Frederic Thesiger, 1st Viscount Chelmsford who was the Viceroy of India at the time, was also present. The ceremony hounored the 59th Scinde Rifles (Frontier Force), 3rd Sappers and Miners, Deccan Horse, 6th Jat Light Infantry, 39th Garhwal Rifles, 34th Sikh Pioneers, 117th Mahrattas, and 5th Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force), with title of " Royal " in recognition of their gallant services in combat. The project was completed ten years later in 1931 and was inaugurated on February 12, 1931, by the Viceroy, Lord Irwin. Every year on 26th January, the Republic Day parade starts from the Rashtapati Bhavan (the President House) and progresses around the Gate. The parade displays the latest achievements in the field of defense technology as well as the rich cultural heritage of the country.

Gateway Of India


The Gateway of India is one of India's most unique landmarks situated in the city of Mumbai. The colossal structure was constructed in 1924. Located at the tip of Apollo Bunder, the gateway overlooks the Mumbai harbor, bordered by the Arabian Sea in the Colaba district. The Gateway of India is a monument that marks India's chief ports and is a major tourist attraction for visitors who arrive in India for the first time. At one point of time, this monument represented the grandeur of the British Raj in India. The total construction cost of this monument was approximately 21 lakhs and the whole expense was borne by the Indian government. A favourite spot for tourists, nowadays, this monument attracts vendors, food stalls and photographers. The passing of the 'First Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry' was recorded as the first main event that took place at the Gateway of India. This ceremony was conducted on February 28, 1948, when the last set of British troops and divisions left India, post-independence.


History
The main objective behind the construction of the Gateway of India was to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay (Mumbai). In March 1911, Sir George Sydenham Clarke, who was then the Governor of Bombay, laid down the monument's first foundation. Although, this plan was approved only in 1914, the reclamations at Apollo Bunder were completed only in 1919. The architectural design of Gateway of India was fashioned by architect, George Wittet. It took 4 years to complete this monument's construction.

Kufri, Shimla


While in Shimla, visit its colder, higher and less crowded cousin, Kufri just 13 km away from the main town. The views and sceneries here only get better, and the landscapes more flattering, a bit untouched with the tourist rush.


However, Kufri too is becoming increasingly popular with the visitors, especially due to the zoo here. One must visit Kufri's zoological park which is famous for having rare species of Antelopes, Felines, Bears and birds including Himalayan Monal, which is the state bird of Himachal Pradesh.
Mashru peak is the highest point here and one can reach by trekking upto that point. Otherwise, Kufri itself is very cold and is used as a ski ground during winters. There are accommodation options also available here. Wildflower Hall is also located nearby.

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa


The Basilica of Bom Jesus church is one of a kind in India and is known for its exemplary baroque architecture. Built in the year 1594 and consecrated in 1605, the building of this church coincides with the beginning of Christianity in India. The church is located in Old Goa in Bainguinim about 10 km away from Panjim. The oldest church in Goa, Basilica of Bom Jesus holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier, a special friend of St. Ignatius Loyola with whom he founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Even after 400 years, the remains are in a good condition and are taken out once every decade. A site with rich cultural and religious significance, the Basilica of Bom Jesus has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


Literally translating to 'Holy Jesus', the basilica of Bom Jesus is the only church in Old Goa that is not been plastered on the outside. The facade of the church has a triangular roofing which is delicately carved with the initials 'IHS', which is an abbreviation for Jesuit emblem meaning 'Jesus, Saviour of Men'. Inside, the floor of this church is made of marble mosaic with precious stones, giving it a solemn appearance. The interior is embellished with a screen that runs from the floor to the ceiling and has the image of St. Ignatius Loyola protecting an infant Jesus. Above all is the image of the Holy Trinity, which is the most sacred symbol in Christianity. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is over 408 years old and is open to the public every day.

Nightingale Park, Darjeeling


Located in the mesmerising hill station of Darjeeling, the Nightingale Park is a public park area frequented by the tourists and locals to relish gorgeous views of the Kanchenjunga ranges. It serves as an ideal place to unwind and recharge amidst lush greenery and soothing winds. This park was earlier called 'The Shrubbery' when it was a private courtyard of Sir Thomas Tartan's Bungalow, during the British reign. Flanked by a covered archway, the entrance leads you to pebbled walkways around this oval-shaped park. Since the Nightingale Park is at a slighted elevated terrain, you need to climb a few steps to reach the entry to this green haven. The park was closed for renovation for about four years and has reopened for the public since 2011. There is a giant statue of Lord Shiva, a musical fountain along with the great scenery.

Trimbakeshwar, Nashik


Counted as the holiest temple of India, the Trimbakeshwar Temple houses one of the most important twelve Jyotirlingas, a form of Lord Shiva. Perched on the foot of Brahmagiri Hills, the temple is situated in the pious city of Trimbak, which finds its mention in the powerful Mrityunjaya Mantra that bestows immorality and longevity. Built in the 18th century by Maratha ruler, Peshwa Nana Saheb, the temple is a perfect epitome of classic architecture.


Amidst the hustling and bustling market of the town, the shikhara of the Trimbakeshwar Temple rises above and witnesses lakhs of devotees every year. Kusavarta or a kund which is the source of River Godavari adds to the sanctity of the temple.The fascinating feature of the Jyotirlinga is its three faces symbolizing Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Rudra. The fecund mountains clad in rich vegetation with cascades falling, encloses the town and makes it even more serene and bewitching. Just outside the temple, you can find hot and crisp bhuttas or corns that will satiate your cravings for delectable snacks.


The Trimbak town is like a heaven on earth. You will not be able to resist soaking yourself in the holiness and purity of the place which washes away all your regrets and sins. A trip to this sacred place will make you taste freedom, wisdom and spirituality. For some soul-searching, you should head out to Trimbak.

Kedarnath Temple


The Kedarnath Temple, located on the Garhwal Himalayan Range in the Rudraprayag District of Uttarakhand, India, is one of the most prestigious and sacred Hindu temples. Situated at a height of 3,583 metres, the temple is the highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is also included in the Chota Char Dham besides Gangotri, Yamunotri and Kedarnath. Set amidst the snow-clad and lofty mountains with Mandakini River flowing in front of it, the Kedarnath Temple witnesses lakhs of devotees every year due to its religious significance and sanctity.

The present Kedarnath Temple is believed to be re-constructed by Adi Shankaracharya, originally built by the Pandavas thousand years ago from enormous stone slabs over a large rectangular dais. Kedar is another name of Lord Shiva, the protector, and the destroyer. It is one of the holiest shrine dedicated to the deity and it is believed that a journey to this holy land opens up doorways to "Moksha" or salvation. This abode of Lord Shiva can only be reached from Gaurikund through a trek and therefore, Kedarnath Temple is a treat for trek-lovers too.

Sai Baba Temple, Shirdi


Sai Baba opposed all persecution based on religion or caste. He was an opponent of religious orthodoxy — Christian, Hindu and Muslim.

Sai Baba encouraged his devotees to pray, chant God's name, and read holy scriptures. He told Muslims to study the Qur'an and Hindus to study texts such as the Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Vasistha. He was impressed by the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita and encouraged people to follow it in their own lives. He advised his devotees and followers to lead a moral life, help others, love every living being without any discrimination, and develop two important features of character: devotion (Shraddha) and patience (Saburi). He criticised atheism.

In his teachings, Sai Baba emphasised the importance of performing one's duties without attachment to earthly matters and of being content regardless of the situation. In his personal practice, Sai Baba observed worship procedures belonging to Islam; he shunned any kind of regular rituals but allowed the practice of Salah, chanting of Al-Fatiha, and Qur'an readings at Muslim festival times. Occasionally reciting the Al-Fatiha, Baba enjoyed listening to mawlid and qawwali accompanied with the tabla and sarangi twice daily.

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