Archive for the ‘Forts and Palaces’ Category

Palace on Wheel Train Tour – An Euphoric way to Explore Indian Heritage

Posted on July 22nd, 2011 by Uma Malhotra  |  Comments Off on Palace on Wheel Train Tour – An Euphoric way to Explore Indian Heritage

India, the kaleidoscopic land is known throughout the world for its unique cultural, natural, regional, religious and geographical diversities. I always dreamed to explore incredible beauty of India in a royal manner. I have heard and read about this mesmerizing land several times which inflamed my curiosity of India visit. Basically I belong from Australia so I have planned my India tour during vacations and fortnight Christmas vacation was the most ideal time.

After lot of internet surfing I decided that Palace on Wheel Train Tour is the most royal and regal way to explore enchanting and heritage destinations of India. This train tour is the best way to feel the glory of Indian royalty and experience the interwoven charm of India scenic beauty and cultural heritage.

While booking Palace on Wheel train tour I contacted several India tour operators but the most affordable rate was provided to me by the Caper Travel Company Pvt. Ltd. I with my wife arrived Delhi a night before our luxurious journey was to begin. On the morning via complementary taxis courtesy of the Taj we reached the Delhi cantonment station where we have to embark our journey.

When we arrived the station we were received by the attendants of Palace of Wheel (POW). They garland us and apply the large red mark on our foreheads. This is a way in Indian culture to welcome guests.

Palace on Wheels is the epitome of luxury and comfort which beckons you to travel back in time to the era of raja-maharajas. It is one of the most luxurious trains in the world reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan. This train was once the personal railway coaches of the Maharajas of the princely states of Rajasthan, Gujrat and the Nizam of Hyderabad.

Every Wednesday, from September to April, 14 carriages Palace on Wheel leave New Delhi and make their way westwards into the deserted land of Rajasthan. The enchanting journey of 7 nights/ 8 days covers Jaipur (the Pink city), Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Ramthambhor National Park, Chittorgarh, Udaipur (the city of Lakes), the Bharatpur bird sanctuary and the symbol of love and romance, Agra, before returning to Delhi, the capital of India.

The 14 air-conditioned saloons of this train are equipped with all the facilities to ensure a comfortable time in the train. The elegant furnishings are specially created to appease the travellers with an imperial feel. I like everything at the first glance. The lounge is nice and cozy, and the cabin too. Here we met our cabin stewards Hari Nath and Sambhu. These guys will be at our service for the entire 7 days. Sambhu provides us all the basic information about this train and its time table. He narrated it so nicely that we don’t required to ask again regarding anything.

The Maharaja and the Maharani are the two restaurant where you can gorge on a variety of Rajasthani, Indian, Continental and Chinese dishes. There is a bar too where you can taste several Indian and International alcohol brands.

Day 2 – Jaipur
The highlight of today is the sprawling Amber fort and palace complex which is reached by a twenty minute elephant ride through a cobblestones and snaky pathways. It was the thrilling ride which gave us a majestic feeling of royalty. The fort is the architectural splendor made up of white marble and red sandstone. Maharaja Man Singh constructed this fort by combining the Hindu and Muslim styles of architecture. This fort is known worldwide for its architectural beauty, exterior as well as interior decorations, frescoes, paintings and murals based on various themes. Intricate carvings, mosaic work and minute mirror work are the most charismatic features of this imposing structure. The other captivating chambers of this fort are Sheesh Mahal, Diwan-e-Khas, Diwan-e-Aam and Ganesh Pol which will surely leaves you spellbound.

Other such arresting historic establishments which I visited in Jaipur were:

City Palace

Once the abode of the erstwhile rulers, City Palace is an outstanding architectural piece reflecting a perfect blend of the traditional Rajasthani and Mughal style of architecture. Done to perfection, the interiors of the palace are adorned with mesmerizing mirror work and beautiful paintings. The courtyards, gardens and structures of the Palace have their own unique charm. Nakkarkhana-ka-Darwaza is the fabulous gateway of the palace which is adorned with stone elephants. The other well known attractions of this fort are Mubarak Mahal, Diwan-I-Khas, Diwan-I-Aam, Chandra Mahal, Chavi Nivas, Badal Maha Shobha Nivas.

 

Jantar Mantar

This is among the five astronomical observatories of India which was constructed by Maharajah Jai Singh II in between 1727 to 1734. It was used for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars in their orbits and determining the celestial altitudes of various heavenly bodies. The grand construction of this structure will surely a true feast for visitors eye.
Soon I will share my Day 3: Sawai Madhopur …

Jaipur The Princely city imbued in Royalty

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 by admin  |  Comments Off on Jaipur The Princely city imbued in Royalty

A trip to Jaipur was tantamount to a journey back in time to the era of raja-maharajas. This princely city is one of the most famous tourist destinations of Rajasthan. It boasts of rich history and culture which beautifully reflects in its attractions. It is frequented by many tourists throughout the year. Most of the city is painted in pink which gives this city the title ‘Pink City’. This city boasts of amazing attractions like stunning palaces, majestic forts, monuments, heritage hotels, gardens, handicrafts, cuisine and precious and semi-precious stone.

One of the striking features about Jaipur is that it was constructed on the principles of Vastu Shastra. Which is a traditional Hindu system of design based on directional alignments. This royal destination is also a part of the famous Golden Triangle Tour of India. The other two destinations covered under this tour are Agra and Delhi. Jaipur was established in the year 1727 by Maharaja Jai Singh II. He built this city in the form of a nine-part Mandala known as the Pithapada. Here nine signifies the nine planets of the ancient astrological zodiac.

Attractions of Jaipur

Jaipur Palaces

The palace of Jaipur are renowned the world over for their architectural beauty, stunning interiors and glorious history. Most of the palaces of the city have been converted into heritage hotels to offer royalty to tourists. The palaces house the museums where a wide variety of royal belongings are on display. The City palace and Hawa Mahal are the most famous palaces of Jaipur.

Jaipur Forts

Testimony to the glorious history of the city, the forts are amazing attractions. Amber Fort is a must-visit destination of jaipur. Built in 1592, this fort boasts of exquisite carvings, huge courtyards, beautiful mosaic work and mirror work. The fort is located on a hill and can be reached by an elephant ride.

Jaipur Wildlife

Located just a few kilometres from Jaipur is the famous Ranthambore National Park. This park is famous for its tigers and a wide variety of other wildlife. Several bird species are also spotted here. The park also has a historic fort called Ranthambore Fort.

Jaipur tour is incomplete without going on a shopping spree in its colourful markets. The famous handicrafts of Jaipur are blue pottery, embroidered juttis, tie and dye fabric, precious and semi-precious stones, silver jewellery, miniature paintings and leather crafts.

Palace on Wheels Luxury Train Tour

Posted on March 9th, 2011 by admin  |  Comments Off on Palace on Wheels Luxury Train Tour

Palace on Wheels Palace on Wheels

Stepping into the world of luxury, comfort and royalty I was soaked in the feeling of traveling back in time to the era of raja-maharajas. With a desire to taste the royalty of the raja-maharaja era and to explore the enchanting destinations of Rajasthan in a royal style I and my friend Pallavi boarded the Palace on Wheels, one of the most luxurious trains in the world. We boarded the train at 4 pm in the evening from Delhi Cantt Railway Station and set out on our dream journey. The moment we boarded the train we could see and experience luxury and royalty in plenty which was making us feel like ‘queens’.

It would be no exaggeration to say that Palace on Wheels is an epitome of luxury and royalty. This train is a fascinating attraction of Rajasthan Tourism. Once used by the raja-maharajas of the bygone era, this train is now open for tourists. Palace on Wheels tour is the best way to explore the rich cultural heritage and other attractions of Rajasthan. It offers 7 nights/8 days tour to several enchanting destinations of Rajasthan and North India. You will travel to mesmerizing destinations starting from Delhi to Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Chittorgarh, Ranthambore National Park, Udaipur, Keoladeo National Park and Agra. Each of the above destinations has its own unique attractions to offer.

The luxury train Palace on Wheels boasts of 14 air conditioned deluxe saloons named after the princely states of Rajasthan. There are four cabins in each saloon which are well appointed with facilities such as bath and shower, satellite phones, intercom, channel music, wall to wall carpeting etc. Each cabin is majestically decorated. And to take care of your every need a khidmatgar (attendant) is always at your service.

Dine at the two wonderful restaurants named as ‘The Maharaja’ and ‘The Maharani’ on the train. Feed yourself with a variety of delicious Rajasthani, Indian, Continental and Chinese dishes. And if you want to refresh yourself with a drink in the evening then scan the bar on board which serves Indian and International alcohol brands. Shopping facility is also available on board. Cultural activities like puppet shows and traditional dance and music programs are the other highlights of the Palace on Wheels tour.

Luxury train tours are among the famous attractions of incredible India. India offers several luxury trains covering different regions of India. Some of the most famous luxury trains of India are Palace on Wheels, Deccan Odyssey, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, The Golden Chariot, Maharaja Express and Indian Maharaja Express.

I and Pallavi thoroughly enjoyed our journey on Palace on Wheels and also enjoyed the attractions of Rajasthan and Agra. From wildlife to palaces, forts, havelis, monuments and culture, we enjoyed so much on this tour. From the wilderness of the dense forests to royalty and charm of the stunning palaces, history history of the forts, beauty of the architectural monuments, colorfulness of the culture and much more, this tour has a lot to offer.

South India Forts and Palaces Tour-Part 2

Posted on February 24th, 2011 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on South India Forts and Palaces Tour-Part 2

Our hearts were filled with enchantment and golden memories after exploring and experiencing the charm and glory of the forts and Palace of North India. There was some more enchantment awaiting us in South India. Our next destinations which we had to cover were Golconda Fort in Hyderabad and Mysore Palace in Karnataka. These are among the famous attractions of South India. No wonder South India and its attractions boast distinguishing features that give them world-wide popularity.

Golconda Fort, Hyderabad
Hyderabad was once the princely city which was founded by Muhammad

 Golconda Golconda Fort

Quli Qutb Shah in the year 1591. Golconda Fort is one of the magnificent forts of India whose history dates back to the 13th century. Standing amidst rustic surroundings the fort is now in ruins but still holds its old world charm. The most distinguishing feature of this fort was the perfect acoustical system by which a hand clap sounded at the fort’s main gates was heard at the top of the fort.

Initially the Golconda fort was made of mud and later it was reconstructed in stone. Several additions were made to it by several rulers over the centuries. Located on a hill the fort looks very picturesque. It has 8 gates and the main gate is known as Fateh Darwaza, Gate of Victory. The door is dotted wit steel spikes for protection against charging elephants during an attack. The fort complex houses a palace, a parade ground, a mosque, an armory and several other buildings. The light and sound show held here unfolds the glorious history of the fort. This show is presented in English, Hindi and Telugu.

Mysore Palace
Mysore is affectionately dubbed as the city of palaces
. The Mysore

 Mysore Palace Mysore Palace

Palace is the most famous attraction of this royal city. The palace was built for the Maharaja of Mysore in the year 1897. The majestic exterior and breathtakingly lavish interiors of the palace leave the onlookers awe-struck. The architecture of the palace is a perfect amalgamation of traditional Dravidian and Indo-Saracenic styles of architecture. The majestic domes in pink, huge pillars, beautiful cupolas, arches and minarets and exquisite carvings of the palace are some of its attractions. The palace looks staggeringly beautiful on Sunday nights when it is illuminated with thousands of bulbs. It is one of the most splendid palaces of India.

The palace has been transformed into a museum which houses royal articles like paintings, royal costumes, jewelry etc. This palace displays the largest collection of gold items.

In the evening we hit the colorful bazaars of Mysore and bought some wonderful handicrafts. We also bought some Mysore Pak( a sweet dish) which is a specialty of this city. Mysore is also famous for its sandalwood, silk sari, perfumes, incense sticks, brass ware and rosewood items. Shopping in Mysore marked the end of our journey to South India forts and palaces tour.

India Forts and Palaces Tour-Part I

Posted on January 25th, 2011 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on India Forts and Palaces Tour-Part I

 Red Fort, Delhi Red Fort, Delhi

One of my friends from New York had come to India for her cousin sister’s marriage. I was so delighted to see her after almost 20 years. She is an Indian but went to New York when she was only 10. She has always been fascinated by the cultural heritage of India and wanted to explore its attractions, especially its forts and palaces. The day after the wedding ceremony I and my friend set out on the Indian Forts and Palaces tour. Visiting all the forts and palaces of India was not feasible in such a short span of time so we visited the famous forts and palaces of North India and South India.

The forts and palaces of India which we covered in North India are:

Red Fort in Delhi
It is a major attraction of Delhi steeped in glorious history. Built in red sandstone by great Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, the fort is a marvelous architectural piece. The fort boasts of huge audience halls, stunning marble palace once studded with precious stones, a bustling bazaar where the royal ladies used to shop, a mosque and refreshing gardens with fountains and flowers.

Red Fort in Agra
A wonderful attraction of Agra, this fort houses amazing structures such as Jahangir Palace, Khas Mahal, Diwan-e-aam, Diwan-e-Khas and two beautiful mosques. This magnificent fort was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar as a stronghold of the Mughal Empire. This majestic red sandstone structure has 2.5 km long enclosure walls. Located at a close distance from this fort is the world famous Taj Mahal. We also visited Taj Mahal which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This stupendous white marble structure is a mausoleum built by the Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal in the 17th century. Representing the perfect combination of different architectural styles, it mesmerizes the onlookers with its architectural beauty.

City Palace in Jaipur
This splendid palace, the landmark of Jaipur, is located in the capital city of Rajasthan. Rajasthan is the most colorful and culturally rich destination of India. One must visit Rajasthan to get the real taste of India. Aptly called the land of raja-maharajas, this destination boasts of the best palaces and forts in the country. The City Palace is a fine blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture built by Maharaja Jai Singh II. Located on a hill it is famous for its architecture, lavish use of marble and mirror work, frescoes, wall paintings, silver doors and crystal gallery.

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
It is the famous landmark of Jaipur known for its unique architectural design. Built in 1799 in red sand stone it is pierced with more than 900 small windows. Representing a honeycomb structure it was especially built to allow the royal ladies to see the street processions through the windows without themselves being seen.

Lake Palace, Udaipur
Udaipur is an enchanting city of Rajasthan and Lake Palace
is the most enchanting attraction of Udaipur. Located amidst the Lake Pichola, this palace is built in white marble boasting of several royal apartments inside it. It is one of the finest heritage hotels of India.

Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
Once the largest royal residence in the world, Umaid Bhawan Palace is now a famous heritage hotel. Its stunning architectural beauty will surely sweep you off your feet. Sprawling across acres of land, it is a magnificent structure. It has 98 rooms offering royal facilities and services. Once can see period furniture here. There is a museum here which displays a variety of articles belonging to the erstwhile royal families.