Agartala is a mini storehouse of Tripura's rich cultural diversity and a getaway to the miraculous mountains of the state.
Hosting a legacy of incredible architecture, culture and a bustling food scene, the 600-year-old city of Ahmedabad wins over visitors with its charm.
Surrounded by breathtakingly scenic beauty, Aizawl in Mizoram, can be explored for its wildlife, lakes and adventure activities.
Lying southwest of the Bhadra Fort, this mosque is among Sultan Ahmed Shah's finest pieces of architecture. It was built in the year 1414 and is one of the oldest structures in the city. It comprises prayer halls, called mehrabs, which are made in black and white marble with detailed carvings. All the prayer halls have stone pillars, jaalis (lattice) work on ceilings and ornate carvings. Moreover, there are dome-like cupolas in every hall. There is a separate chamber with a prayer room for women in the northeast corner of the mosque, popularly known as zenana. When built, the mosque was meant to be a place of worship exclusively for the royals. Currently, it is one of the most-sought tourist attractions in Ahmedabad.
Built as a tribute to the 15th Jain tirthankar (saint) Shri Dharmanatha in 1848 AD, the Hutheesing Jain Temple cost trader Hutheesing Kesarisinh, who commissioned it, almost INR 8 lakh during the period when the state was facing famine. The idea was to employ hundreds of labourers and artisans so that they had steady income during this period. Most of these artisans belonged to the Sompura and Salat communities, which are famous for their craftsmanship skills in sculpting and stone carving, especially in Hindu and Jain temples. Unfortunately, Kesarisinh, only 49 then, died while the temple was being constructed. His wife, Sethani Harkunvar, supervised and completed it. Like most other Jain temples, it is made of white marble with intricate carvings. It also has a mandapa (pillared-outdoor hall) capped by a large dome, which is supported by 12 ornate pillars. At the east end of the mandapa stands the garbha graha (main shrine) that reaches up to three impressive carved spires. It is further surrounded by 52 smaller shrines of various tirthankars. There are wide porches with decorated columns on the three outer sides of the temple. Recently, a 78-ft-high tower, called the Mahavir Stambha, was established in the courtyard by the front entrance, resembling a renowned tower at Chittor in Rajasthan. Several of the motifs used in the tower's design will remind one of minarets from the Mughal period. Legend has it that for over 170 years, a lamp has been lighting below the sanctum sanctorum.
Among the finest examples of stepwells in Gujarat, about 19 km north of Ahmedabad, lies Adalaj Vav or Adalaj Stepwell. It was built by queen Rudadevi, wife of Veer Singh, the chief of Vaghela dynasty, in 1499, in her husband’s memory. Legend has it that in the 15th century, Rana Veer Singh ruled over the region that was known as Dandai Desh back then. As the kingdom always faced water shortage and was dependent on rains, the ruler ordered the construction of a large and deep well. But before it could be completed, neighbouring Muslim ruler, Mohammed Begda, attacked Dandai Desh and Veer Singh was killed. Though his widow wanted to perform sati (a ritual of widows immolating themselves when their husband dies) , Begda stopped her and told her that he wanted to marry her. She agreed on the condition that he complete the construction of the stepwell first. Begda agreed and the stepwell was made in record time. But the queen had other plans. She first circumambulated the stepwell with prayers and thereafter jumped into it to be one with her husband. What is unique about this stepwell is that it has three entrances, giving way to a platform resting on 16 pillars. All three of the stairway entrances meet underground where the platform has an octagonal top. The corners of all 16 platforms have shrines carved into them. The well is five floors deep and apart from deities, the carvings portray a wide range of subjects, from women churning butter to them adorning themselves in front of a mirror. The stepwell, in its time, gave shelter to pilgrims and traders. It is believed that the villagers used to come here to fill water and offer prayers to the deities. Experts in the field of architecture and archaeology believe that due to its octagonal ceiling, little air or sunlight entered the landing, the reason why the temperature inside is always cooler than outside. The vav is a spectacular specimen of Indo-Islamic architecture with fine Jain symbols as a reflection of the period it was built in. Worth a visit are kalpvriksha (tree of life) and ami khumbor (pot containing water of life) that have been carved out of single slab of stone. Locals believe that the small frieze of navgrahas or nine planets near the well’s edge protects the monument from evil spirits.
Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram was the centre of Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent struggle against the British for the independence of India. His aura still lingers here and one can travel back in time to get a sense of his ideology and remarkable life.
As per historical sources, after returning from South Africa, Gandhiji established his first ashram at Kocharab Bungalow, which belonged to his barrister friend, Jivanlal Desai, on May 25, 1915. Back then, it was called Satyagraha Ashram. However, Mahatma Gandhi had plans to begin various activities like animal husbandry and farming so he needed a larger space. On June 17, 1917, the ashram was relocated to an area of 36 acre on the banks of River Sabarmati and thus came to be known as Sabarmati Ashram.
Documents related to his non-violence movement, including the Dandi March, which began from here, have been put on display at the Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya (museum). There is a library for literature on Gandhi that holds an immense archive of letters written by him, most of them on used paper scraps. The ashram shares land with Hridaykunj — the quarters where he lived; Vinoba-Mira Kutir, a guest house, a prayer land and a building used as a training centre for cottage industries. At this ashram, Gandhiji tried his hand at farming, learnt the art of spinning and weaving, and led the production of khadi. Nearby is the Environmental Sanitation Institute and a shop, Kalam Kush, where handmade paper is manufactured and sold. There are khadi stores and a khadi weaving workshop here as well.