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A vibrant city with the imposing...
The stronghold of several erstwhile...
Declared as India's first UNESCO World...
The verdant Ananthagiri Hills is...
Located on the banks of River Godavari,...
Situated around 40 km from Raipur,...
Explore the southern fringes of India as you travel along the coast, beach-hopping and indulging in scrumptious sea-food delicacies. The heritage of India and the vibrancy of art and culture are mesmerising experiences you cannot miss on this journey.
The pocket-sized paradise of Goa is a traveller's dream. Sun, sea, sand, spices, spirituality and seafood, along with balmy weather, call to the soul of trekkers, backpackers, nature lovers and those who simply want to languish in its slow-paced and relaxed vibes. Located by the glistening waters of the Arabian Sea on India’s western coast, the state of Goa is renowned for its breathtaking beaches, rich culture and pristine natural beauty. Formerly a Portuguese colony, Goa offers travellers a chance to experience a unique blend of sandy shores, forests, monuments and delectable cuisine, attracting tourists across age groups.
Located on the outskirts of Panaji, Sinquerim Beach is one of the best beaches in Goa for water sports enthusiasts.
Sinquerim is an ideal beach for a long walk along the seaside, its firm sand stretching all the way up to Baga.
It features world-class facilities for activities such as water-skiing, scuba diving, parasailing and wind-surfing.
Built to defend and protect Old Goa from potential invasions, Fort Aguada is the largest and the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in the state. It was built sometime between 1609 and 1612 to guard against the Marathas and the Dutch forces that wanted to establish their reign. Its strategic location limited the entry into River Mandovi and also to protected Old Goa from enemy attacks.
A four-storey lighthouse, built in 1864, sits prettily on the premises, and is believed to be the oldest of its kind in Asia. During the initial days, the lighthouse emitted light once every seven minutes that was reduced to every 30 seconds in 1834.
Among the most fascinating highlights of the fort is a large cistern that could store over 20,00,000 gallons of water and a magnificent citadel.
Goa's capital, Panaji is located on the banks of River Mandovi and is considered to be one of the country's most relaxed cities. Formerly known as Panjim, the city boasts lovely cafes and restaurants, colonial-era buildings, gorgeous churches and a stunning riverside promenade. The narrow by-lanes of the Latin Quarter are a must-visit to get a taste of the city's Portuguese heritage.
Panjim was once a small village with creeks, coconut trees and vast fields and the inhabitants were mostly fishermen. It remained so for centuries with the Fort of Adil Shah along River Mandovi being the only recognisable structure. It was in 1632 that a 3.2 km causeway was constructed by the then viceroy, Count de Linhares, Dom Miguel de Noronha, which linked Panjim with Ribandar Village, 50 km from the city. Back then, it was the longest existing bridge. It exists till today and is known as Pointe de Linhares.
Among Panaji's most popular sites are Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, Adil Shah's Palace, which is Goa's oldest surviving building, Mahalaxmi Temple, Chapel of St Sebastian and Maruti Temple.
Probably the most famous church in Goa and one of the most revered by Christians globally, the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa is famed for housing the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier. This complex, along with some other churches of Old Goa, features on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Its exterior facade, built using black granite, is noted for Baroque architecture combined with Doric, Corinthian and composite influences. Inside, the main altar is 30-ft-broad and 54-ft-high and its pillars have been erected using basalt from Bassein (now Vasai, a town in Maharashtra), approximately 300 km away. Richly gilded, it features the figure of infant Jesus Christ, above which is a statue of St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order. The latter gazes at a medallion, and above this is depicted the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and the Holy Spirit).
The church's interior is richly adorned with wood carvings and paintings that depict scenes from the lives of St Xavier. A silver casket, which contains the sacred relics of the saint, is divided into seven panels each of which contains two plates that are representative of the incidents of the saint's life.
Built in the 17th century, Braganza House is a magnificent Portuguese mansion that extends along one side of the Chandor village square and is spread over 10,000 sq m. Constructed as a single structure by the Braganza family, it was eventually divided into two wings, both of which are now open to tourists.
The biggest Portuguese mansion, one-of-its-kind in Goa, it was built on land granted by the king of Portugal to the Braganza family, who were an influential lot. In 1950, the Braganza family fled from the mansion as one the family members was closely associated with the Indian Independence movement against the Portuguese rule.
A representative or family member is always forthcoming to give tourists a guided tour. The west wing belongs to the Menezes-Braganza family while the east wing is with the Pereira-Braganza family. The latter includes a chapel that houses a relic of St Francis Xavier. Antique artefacts collected over the years make the tour around the structure particularly fascinating. A salon and a ballroom featuring an Italian marble floor with a stunning chandelier and ornate furniture dating back to the 18th century, amplify its charm. The west wing is home to a library, believed to be the first private library in Goa. It contains around 5,000 books collected by Luis de Menezes Braganza (1878-1938), a renowned journalist of his time.
Plunging down a height of 300 m, this waterfall is one of the most spectacular sights in Goa, especially during the monsoon months. Its name implies a sea of milk in Konkani, owing, it is believed, to how the water looks as it cascades down an almost vertical cliff face - rich, white and foamy like pure milk.
Legend has it that once a wealthy ruler of the Western Ghats had an opulent palace in the hills that were surrounded by gardens, which had a large number of gazelles and deer. The king had a daughter who loved bathing in the picturesque lake during the summer months. After finishing her bath, the princess used to have sugared milk in a jug of pure gold. One day, after she had completed her daily routine, she saw a handsome prince watching her. As she was not dressed properly, she was embarrassed and to form an improvised curtain, the prince poured the sugared milk in front of her even as one of her maids rushed to cover her. The sugared milk poured down from the mountain and continued to flow in torrents as a tribute to the everlasting modesty of the princess of the ghats.
One of the most glorious waterfalls in the country, Dudhsagar Falls is set in the midst of spectacular scenery and overlooks a valley covered by the tropical forest of Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary and Molem National Park in the Western Ghats. You can reach the falls via trekking through picturesque surroundings.
A legendary lost city that was once the powerhouse of an ancient kingdom and an auspicious temple town standing on the banks of the mighty Tungabhadra river, history and mythology come to life in Hampi, Karnataka.
Virupaksha Temple, one of the oldest structures in the area, is located at Hampi Bazaar. It is said that this temple, believed to have been built in the 7th century, was once a humble structure dedicated to Lord Shiva. Under the Vijayanagara rule, it was constructed upon to achieve epic proportions. Today, the main shrine is dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, an incarnation of Lord Shiva and the 49-m-high (approximately) tower or gopuram of the temple is said to have been constructed in 1442.
Dominating Hampi's skyline, the towering gopuram is a distinct landmark in Hampi, as are the stucco figures around the temple's exterior. Hampi's only continuously functioning temple, it includes a sanctum sanctorum, pillared halls – the most elaborate one consisting of 100 pillars - antechambers, grand gopurams and a number of smaller shrines, along with a temple kitchen and administrative offices.
The three-headed statue of Lord Shiva's sacred mount, the Nandi bull, is a major tourist draw. In December, when the temple celebrates the marriage of its presiding deity to his consort Goddess Pampa, it draws thousands of devotees. Another popular time to visit the temple is February when the annual chariot festival is celebrated.
The 16th century Vittala Temple, one of the most ornate monuments in the area, represents the best of Vijayanagara architecture. Popularly known as Hampi's showstopper and decorated with extravagant carvings, the temple's highlight is a spectacular stone chariot that stands in the courtyard. One of the finest examples of Vijayanagara style of architecture, it is said that the chariot is a shrine of Garuda, a bird-like mythical creature believed to be Hindu god Vishnu's vehicle.
Legends say that the wheels of the chariot, decorated with intricate floral patterns, were once capable of being turned. Even now, looking at its spokes, it seems as if they would turn at a divine command. The chariot, the main temple and a few smaller structures are housed within a vast walled courtyard with three imposing gateways.
A unique feature of this temple is its elaborately carved musical pillars, which are said to produce the sounds of 81 different musical instruments when tapped with a wooden stick.
Located at the centre of Hampi, the Matanga Hill is the highest point in the area and offers breathtaking views of the ruins. The north part of the hill slopes down to the Tungabhadra river, just where the Kodanda Rama Temple is located.
According to the epic Ramayana, this is where monkey king Sugriva had hidden with Lord Hanuman, to save himself from the wrath of his brother Bali.
On its eastern edge stands the Achyutaraya Temple, constructed in 1534. One of the last of the large temples built here, it has a sculpture of Lord Krishna dancing with a snake. The large central hall of the temple has many such beautiful sculptures. On top of the hill is the Veerabhadra Temple, with many winding paths leading up to it. It generally takes about 30 mins to reach the top and the views of sunrise and sunset from here are breathtaking.
Boasting a rich royal heritage that is reflected by the many monuments that dot its premises, Mysuru is nestled at the foothills of the picturesque Chamundi Hill in Karnataka. The city is a melange of the old and the new, its old-world charm well preserved in its palaces and well-laid out gardens. It also holds spirituality close to its heart, which is evident from the various temples, churches and mosques here.
Located at the heart of the city, the Mysore Palace or Amba Vilas is a three-storeyed majestic monument that leaves onlookers mesmerised with its beauty. A gorgeous amalgamation of Hindu and Saracenic architectural styles, incorporated with elements of Neo-Classical, Indo-Islamic and Gothic styles, the palace boasts two huge durbar halls, well-laid out gardens and sprawling courtyards.
The Durbar Hall is magnificent, with stained glass windows and tall pillars, an ornately carved ceiling and a grand Kalyanamantapa (marriage hall). The doors of the palace have intricate carvings, and the rooms are huge and well-appointed. Vast, manicured lawns with pretty flower beds can be seen within the compound. The palace has been made with fine grey granite, adorned with deep pink-hued marble.
The opulence of Mysore palace is unmatched, and it also home to a golden howdah (elephant seat), expensive and rare paintings, and a jewel-encrusted golden throne. This throne is put on display to the public during the festival of Dasara. Within the walled campus, the Residential Museum (where one can find the living quarters of the royal family), and Shwetha Varahaswamy Temple are other points of interest. Every Sunday, and on special occasions such as Dasara, the palace is illuminated using almost 100,000 bulbs!
To catch a glimpse of the rail network of the country, visit the Rail Museum in Mysuru, which houses a plethora of galleries highlighting the growth and development of the Indian railway network. The museum also has coaches, locomotives and a wide collection of photographs and paintings connected with the railways.
Another highlight of the museum is the Chamundi gallery, where a whole host of pictures and graphics are displayed. Another attraction is the Austin railway car, initially built in 1925 to run on road.
Don't forget to view the rail coaches that were once used by the Maharaja of Mysore, and the Maharani's saloon carriage that was imported from the United Kingdom. Mini train rides and a kids play area are also part of the museum.
Located in the foothills of Chamundi Hills, Lalitha Mahal Palace, is the second-largest palace in the city of palaces, as Mysuru is fondly called. A unique amalgamation of Renaissance and English manor and Italian palazzo styles, this palatial building is mesmerising. The two-storeyed structure has a projecting porch and it is supported by double columns. The centre of attraction is the dome above the entrance hall.
Built in 1931 on the design made by Bombay (now Mumbai)-based architect EW Fritchley, the construction of Lalitha Mahal Palace cost INR 13 lakh. It was made as a guest house for European visitors who arrived in the city to meet Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, the ruler of Mysore (1894-1940).
Inside, the palace has large, well-appointed bedrooms, baroque decorated halls with high ceilings and accent walls. A lawn at the back is equipped with a swimming pool and walkway. Now, Lalitha Mahal has been converted into a luxury hotel and plays host to noted politicians, film stars etc.
One of the oldest living cities, Madurai, holds the soul of Tamil Nadu in its magnificent and grand temples that are among the finest and most awe-inspiring specimens of architecture in the country.
One of the largest temple complexes in India, Sri Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Temple is the most famous spiritual site in Madurai. An excellent example of Dravidian architecture, the temple is sprawled over a huge area, bordered by well-laid gardens and pristine fountains. Two shrines, more than 10 gateways or gopurams, several mandapas (halls) and a giant pool, make up the structure of the temple, which is adorned with beautiful carvings inside and outside.
One of the halls of the temple is famous as the “Hall of a 1,000 pillars” though only 985 of them exist today. It is said that whichever direction you view these pillars from, they always seem to be in a straight line. The highlight of the temple is the outermost corridor that comprises musical pillars. These produce different musical notes when tapped.
The temple lights up every year during the months of April and May when its most important festival- the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam or the divine marriage of Goddess Meenakshi is celebrated with great fervour.
Famous for its captivating architecture and intricate sculpting, the Azhagar Koyil Temple is one of the most attractive temples in the region, nestled at the foothills of Alagar Hills Set amidst lush green surroundings, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and holds immense religious significance.
The Alagar Hills are named after Lord Thirumal, who is known by his local name Alagar among people of the region. The ruins surrounding the temple suggest that a fortified ancient city once existed around the temple.
BThe best time to visit the Azhagar Koyil Temple is during the months of April and May when devotees from all parts of the country visit the temple for the annual Chithirai Festival.
This majestic palace stands as a fine blend of Islamic and Dravidian styles of palace architecture. Originally designed as the king's residence by an Italian architect, the palace complex was four times larger than what remains of it today. Known for beautiful stucco work, especially on its arches and domes, this palace is a visual treat for visitors.
Named as a national monument right after Indian gained independence, the palace was built in 1636 AD by the ruler of Madurai, Tirumalai Nayak, and is considered as the most illustrious monument built under their patronage.
A museum housed within the premises given as insight into the region's history and art and architecture. Tourists can also attend a sound and light show held in the palace.
Snuggled between the Arabian Sea and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Western Ghats, Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the beautiful state of Kerala, almost touches the southern tip of India. Skirted by backwaters, beaches and dotted with a number of scenic waterfalls and lakes, the city enthrals one with its natural charms.
Fringed by palm trees, and dotted with small shacks selling all kinds of snacks and knick-knacks, Lighthouse Beach is one of the most frequented spots in Kovalam. Its golden sands and cool breeze rejuvenate the mind and the body. It is especially beautiful during sunrise and sunset, when the weather is much more favourable for a stroll along the coas
Over the weekend, the beach gets especially crowded as tourists from the neighbouring cities flock to it in search of relaxation and a quick getaway to the ocean.
Located on top of the palm-covered Kurumkal Hill is a lighthouse. Tourists can climb up a spiral staircase to the top, and enjoy the scenic view from the highest point of the red and white tower. This is one of the best places to get a bird’s eye view of the emerald-blue waters of the Arabian Sea and the surrounding area to the south of Kerala.
The rare phenomenon of a lake, a river, the sea and a beach meeting land happens at Poovar Island. This is also where the Neyyar river joins the Arabian Sea. Poovar is essentially a fishing village, and sparsely inhabited for the most part. Therefore, it is ideal for those seeking a respite from the noise and crowd of the city.
Abundant in flora, it is also the storehouse of hundreds of spices, rare flowers and trees. Those interested in history can visit a centuries-old martial arts village located nearby.
You can view the lovely backwaters from Poovar Beach, which is an unsullied stretch of golden sand, an ideal place to lounge and soak in the spirit of Kerala. To get the real feel for the place, visitors can take boat rides across the backwaters that are available at an affordable fee.
The Napier Museum and the Natural History Museum lie at the heart of the city, close to the zoological park. Constructed in the 19th century, the Napier Museum houses a large number of historical artefacts, including ivory carvings, a temple chariot, ancient ornaments, weapons, coins and bronze idols, and documents the history of the region under different rulers over the centuries.
The Vishnu image of 8th century collected from Ambalapuzha Temple in Central Travancore with Pallava style is the oldest metal image in the state.
A Japanese shadow play, used to depict stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, is a favourite with the visitors.
A vibrant potpourri of art, culture, food, carnivals and festivals, Kochi, sprawled along a gorgeous estuary in Kerala, is a fascinating tourist destination. Skirted by the emerald-blue Arabian Sea that laps at its golden sun-kissed beaches, the city remains suspended in time, with its colonial charm merging seamlessly with its artistic aesthetic.
Steeped in colonial charm, Fort Kochi was among the first European townships in India. Located to the south of Fosse Street, Fort Kochi is a serene stopover boasting narrow streets lined with tall trees and colourful flowers peeking out of windows of old houses.
Built by the Portuguese in 1506, the fort still reflects vestiges of its glorious past. Of particular interest are the streets of Fort Kochi that leave one in awe of the culture and heritage they so boldly display.
Some of the popular haunts include Princess Street, Burger Street, Rose Street, Tower Road etc. You can enjoy a quiet stroll along Mattancherry roads like Jew Street, Palace Road and TD School Road that transport you to a different era. Fort Kochi Beach, lying nearby, is another attraction.
Located 10 km from main Ernakulam, Mattancherry Palace or Dutch Palace is one of the best examples of Malayalam-style architecture mixed with colonial influences. Its interiors are beautifully adorned, with 17th and 18th-century murals depicting scenes from the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The palace was built by the Portuguese as a gift to King Veera Kerala Varma (1809-1828). It came to be known as the Dutch Palace because of the number of additions the Dutch made to it.
Tourists can admire life-size portraits of all the kings of Cochin since 1864, sheathed swords, daggers and axes, together with ceremonial spears decorated with feathers, royal caps, coins issued by the kings of Cochin, silver sequinned gowns, royal umbrellas made of silk and brass, along with plans laid out for Cochin by the Dutch.
A noodle-thin street winding its way between Mattancherry Palace and Jewish Synagogue, Jew Town is among the oldest spaces of the city that once hosted a blooming Jewish populace.
A major attraction is the Paradesi Synagogue built in 1568. This imposing edifice is adorned with Belgian chandeliers that glow warmly. The floor of the synagogue is lined with willow-patterned and hand-painted tiles from China that are believed to be dating back to the 18th century. It is believed that the synagogue contains four scrolls of the Torah (First Five books of the Old Testament). These are encased in gold and silver chambers.
This bustling street is the best spot to stock up on unique handicrafts, fragrant spices and exquisite antiques. Soak in rich Jewish culture as vendors greet you warmly with Shalom, a Jewish greeting, and invite you to check out a fine selection of Jewish memorabilia, brass statues, Pashmina shawls, Chinese vases, candlesticks, rose water sprinklers etc.