Khajuraho Temples Tour -The Mystery Carved in Stones

Posted on September 29th, 2011 by Uma Malhotra  |  Comments Off

Khajuraho is one of the most renowned destinations where you can see the human emotions in its purest form in its temples. This temple town is located at Chattarpur district in Madhya Pradesh. My two friends, Geetika and Ajay accompanied me on Khajuraho Temples Tour. After a couple of hours taxi drive from Jhansi, we were in the temple city of Khajuraho.

We took rest for sometime at a hotel in Khajuraho and after having refreshment, we left for visiting temples.

Highlights of Khajuraho Temples

The famous Khajuraho temples were built between the 9th and 11th centuries by the kings of the Chandela. These exquisitely carved temples are also the venue for an annual mela which is organized on the occasion of Shivratri, a festival dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The temples of Khajuraho are segregated as per their geographical locations like the Eastern group, the Western group and the Southern group. These temples are known for their breathtaking architectural beauty. Some important temples of Western group are Lakshmana Temple, the Varaha Temple and the Matangesvara Temple.

Most of the temples are based on the theme of eroticism. Various theories have been put forward to explain the subject of Sex and sexual relationships. Many erotic groups have been depicted in the form of stone carvings. The architectural beauty of the images portrayed at Khajuraho temples grabs the attention of every visitor, who comes to these temples.

Next morning, we visited Western group of temples. All we could enjoy there was the calmness of nature and tranquil ambiance. We were struck by the expertise of artisans who built these temples and explored the following temples:

Adinath

This particular Jain forehead is beautifully constructed in the form of ‘Sapta-ratha’ and is adorned with exquisite carvings. It is solitary towered ‘shikhara’ provides an elegant turn to the shrine.

Devi Jagdamba

This temple is renowned because of its sensual and perfectly created numbers. The Garbha griha encompasses a great picture related with Jagdamba, the Devi associated with World.

Parsvanath

Parsvanath temple includes beautiful statues, structures and many stunning idols. These idols illustrate different Devis actively playing musical instruments like gandharva, manjeera, mridanga and shankha.

Lakshmana

It is a good east-facing temple with 2 open up pavilions, called as mandaps. The actual forehead is exquisitely created using the images of six hundred gods and goddess from the Hindu mythology.

Chausath Yogini

The actual temple is focused on sixty four yoginis, considered as the actual demos from the Mom Goddess. It’s constructed on the big elevated podium and is encircled along with small temples.

We all were amazed to see the erotic sculptures depicting the various scenes of the most taboo subject, ‘Sex’ in the country. The intricate rock carvings impressed us a lot.

Later on, Geetika was willing to go for nearby excursions. So Ajay accompanied her. He also insisted me to go there and we came across the following places:

Panna National Park

After a 30-minute drive, we reached this beautiful park. The wildlife of this park is worth-paying a visit. Besides dense flora and fauna, we also enjoyed to see many animals like leopards, gharials, wolves, wild boars, cheetals, sloth bears, chowsinghas and porcupines.

The Pandava Waterfall

This enchanting waterfall is situated on the Ken River. It is believed to be the place where the Pandavas spent a good part of their exile period. After capturing the best glimpses of this beautiful waterfall, we left for next place.

Dhubela Museum

Dhubela Museum is located in a place on the Jhansi-Khajuraho road. It encompasses a wide collection of Shakti cult sculptures, garments, weapons and paintings.

How to Reach Khajuraho

Khajuraho has a good connectivity by road, rail and air. It is connected by air to Delhi, Varanasi and Agra by a daily flight. It is around 600 kilometers away from Delhi. Jhansi is the nearest airport. It can be accessed by driving from Jhansi, which is 172 kilometers and Satna, which is 117 kilometers. The nearest railheads are Harpalpur at 94 kilometers and Mahoba at 63 kilometers. Train is the major mode of transport, connecting Khajuraho to the remote corners of India.

At last, I thanked Ajay for taking me to the excursions from Khajuraho and I could visit some not-to-be-missed places as well.

Srinagar City Tour for a Unique Experience

Posted on September 22nd, 2011 by Uma Malhotra  |  Comments Off

Last month, I got an opportunity to visit Srinagar with my cousin, who was going there for some official work. I had nothing much to do while he planned this trip so I too decided to accompany him.

Popularly known as ‘Venice of the East’, Srinagar is the capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

It lies in Kashmir valley, on the banks of Jhelum river. I had heard a lot about the lakes and houseboats of Srinagar, so that was perfect opportunity for me to explore them.

Soon, we were in Srinagar. My cousin completed his official work same day and then we had ample time to explore the city, so we embarked on Srinagar City Tour to make the most of it.

We went to see the famous sites of the area like Dal Lake and Gulmarg or Yusmarg. Besides these beautiful locations, we also visited historical places of pilgrimages like Shankaracharya Hill and the Vedic Shiva Temple. Many devotees were there to do puja among the heavy security.

The beauty of Mughul Gardens captivated me for some time. It was one of the best gardens I have seen in India. We also saw the Shri Pratap Singh Museum that had large rock sculpted idols of Vishnu and other Vedic divinities. Another famous place I visited is Shah Hamdan mosque which is dedicated to Shah Hamdan.

Following are several other attractions which became a part of our exploration during the tour:

Hari Parbat Fort

The 18th century fort is located at the Sharika Hill. This fort was constructed by Atta Mohammad Khan. Lies to the west of the Dal lake, this fort is a famous tourist attraction.

Hazratbal Mosque

Situated on the western shore of Dal Lake, it is an important Muslim religious place. Its amazing white marble elegance can be seen in the crystal clear waters of the lake.

Pari Mahal

Pari Mahal or the ‘House of the Fairies’ is located just above Chashma Shahi Gardens, which is around 10 km from Srinagar. Pari Mahal is a historic monument and a well-laid garden. It also overlooks the beautiful Dal Lake.

Tomb of Zain-ul-Abidin

The tomb of King Zain-ul-Abidin shows a clear Persian influence in its amazing domed construction and glazed tiles.

Our curiosity to explore the Excursions of Srinagar took us to following places:

Gulmarg

The valley of Gulmarg is located at an altitude of 2730 m above sea level. It is a pleasant hill town situated around 52 km southeast of Srinagar. Flowering plants, golf course and snow sports activities during winters are some popular attractions of the place.

Pahalgam

It is located 95 km east of Srinagar in the Liddar Valley. The place is famous for its several adventure sports activities like trekking, hiking and fishing.

Sonamarg

Sonamarg lies around 80 km in the northeast of Srinagar. Situated at an altitude of 2740 m above sea level, the place offers breathtaking views of snow covered Himalayan peaks.

After enjoying Shikara Ride, we came back to our hotel in late evening. Next morning, we left for home with delightful memories.

 

Last month, I got an opportunity to visit Srinagar with my cousin, who was going there for some official work. I had nothing much to do while he planned this trip so I too decided to accompany him.

 

Popularly known as ‘Venice of the East’, Srinagar is the capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

It lies in Kashmir valley, on the banks of Jhelum river. I had heard a lot about the lakes and houseboats of Srinagar, so that was perfect opportunity for me to explore them.

 

Soon, we were in Srinagar. My cousin completed his official work same day and then we had ample time to explore the city, so we embarked on Srinagar City Tour to make the most of it.

 

We went to see the famous sites of the area like Dal Lake and Gulmarg or Yusmarg. Besides these beautiful locations, we also visited historical places of pilgrimages like Shankaracharya Hill and the Vedic Shiva Temple. Many devotees were there to do puja among the heavy security.

 

The beauty of Mughul Gardens captivated me for some time. It was one of the best gardens I have seen in India. We also saw the Shri Pratap Singh Museum that had large rock sculpted idols of Vishnu and other Vedic divinities. Another famous place I visited is Shah Hamdan mosque which is dedicated to Shah Hamdan.

 

Following are several other attractions which became a part of our exploration during the tour:

 

Hari Parbat Fort

The 18th century fort is located at the Sharika Hill. This fort was constructed by Atta Mohammad Khan. Lies to the west of the Dal lake, this fort is a famous tourist attraction.

Hazratbal Mosque

Situated on the western shore of Dal Lake, it is an important Muslim religious place. Its amazing white marble elegance can be seen in the crystal clear waters of the lake.

 

Pari Mahal

Pari Mahal or the ‘House of the Fairies’ is located just above Chashma Shahi Gardens, which is around 10 km from Srinagar. Pari Mahal is a historic monument and a well-laid garden. It also overlooks the beautiful Dal Lake.

 

Tomb of Zain-ul-Abidin

The tomb of King Zain-ul-Abidin shows a clear Persian influence in its amazing domed construction and glazed tiles.

 

 

Our curiosity to explore the Excursions of Srinagar took us to following places:

 

 

Gulmarg

The valley of Gulmarg is located at an altitude of 2730 m above sea level. It is a pleasant hill town situated around 52 km southeast of Srinagar. Flowering plants, golf course and snow sports activities during winters are some popular attractions of the place.

Pahalgam

It is located 95 km east of Srinagar in the Liddar Valley. The place is famous for its several adventure sports activities like trekking, hiking and fishing.

Sonamarg

 

Sonamarg lies around 80 km in the northeast of Srinagar. Situated at an altitude of 2740 m above sea level, the place offers breathtaking views of snow covered Himalayan peaks.

 

After enjoying Shikara Ride, we came back to our hotel in late evening. Next morning, we left for home with delightful memories.

 

 

 

Char Dham Yatra for a Celestial Experience!

Posted on September 16th, 2011 by admin  |  Comments Off

Char Dham Yatra holds great significance among the Hindu pilgrims. The term ‘Char Dham’ means four places where Gods reside. Char Dham tour includes four destinations of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri. These four places are located amidst the Himalaya in Garhwal region of Uttaranchal state.

According to Hindu Mythology, the yatra is fruitful when it is done like a ‘Parikarma.’ Thus, the journey starts from Yamunotri, proceeding to Gangotri and finally to Kedarnath and Badrinath. Char Dham Yatra is also considered as a way to wash out your sins and to attain ‘Moksha’ or Salvation.

My parents wanted to go for Char Dham Yatra, I too accompanied them. Started from Delhi, we reached Haridwar, the holy city. The places we visited there Mansa Devi temple, Sapt Rishi and Daksha Mahadev temple. We stayed there to see the Maha Aarti on the Ganga bank. The scene was so beautiful that it simply made us forget our fatigue and filled us with divine peace.

Walking through Rishikesh, we headed towards Yamunotri. Dedicated to Goddess Yamuna, this holy site has a great significance. It is believed that Lord Krishna used to play on the banks of river Yamuna.
We visited the temple via Hanuman Chetty. Horses were also available on rent, offering a wonderful opportunity to view the breathtaking beauty of waterfalls.

Gangotri was our next destination. Considered as the place where Ganga merged in the earth, Gangotri has a 18th century temple. Our heart filled with great devotion when we reached this sacred site, hustling and bustling with religious activities. We also took a holy dip in river Ganga and visited beautiful places adjacent to Gangotri.

Our customized Char Dham tour package proved helpful for us as we could visit all the places we wanted to see. To experience the eternal bliss, we reached our next destination Kedarnath. After reaching there, we felt the tranquility and great peace of mind because everywhere you could listen the sound of praising God by devotees. There is a temple which was built by Pandavas. It is known as the abode of Lord Shiva.

It is said that the present temple was built by Adi Shankracharya in the 18th century. The temple has decorated inner walls in the assembly hall. A large statue of the Nandi bull stands outside the temple door. Blessed with great scenic beauty, Kedarnath is also the origin place of River Mandakini.

Connecting ourselves with divine during our tour, we reached Badrinath, the last destination of our tour. It is situated in the lap of Nar-Narayan Parvat, at an elevation of 3,133 meters above sea level. Badrinath is considered as the most sacred religious site of Hindu. This pilgrimage site boasts of Tapt Kund and Surya Kund, which are the springs of natural hot water.

The silent and tranquil atmosphere seems to resound with the names of God as the devotees advance towards their destination. We felt immense tranquility by getting the spiritual blessings of Lord.
Apart from offering great spiritual experience, the journey also enabled us to enjoy the scenic natural beauty scattered all around the sacred sites.

Based on our experience, I would strongly recommend that one must go for Char Dham Yatra at least once in his life!

Char Dham Yatra holds great significance among the Hindu pilgrims. The term ‘Char Dham’ means four places where Gods reside. Char Dham tour includes four destinations of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri. These four places are located amidst the Himalaya in Garhwal region of Uttaranchal state.

 

According to Hindu Mythology, the yatra is fruitful when it is done like a ‘Parikarma.’ Thus, the journey starts from Yamunotri, proceeding to Gangotri and finally to Kedarnath and Badrinath. Char Dham Yatra is also considered as a way to wash out your sins and to attain ‘Moksha’ or Salvation.

 

My parents wanted to go for Char Dham Yatra, I too accompanied them. Started from Delhi, we reached Haridwar, the holy city. The places we visited there Mansa Devi temple, Sapt Rishi and Daksha Mahadev temple. We stayed there to see the Maha Aarti on the Ganga bank. The scene was so beautiful that it simply made us forget our fatigue and filled us with divine peace.

 

Walking through Rishikesh, we headed towards Yamunotri. Dedicated to Goddess Yamuna, this holy site has a great significance. It is believed that Lord Krishna used to play on the banks of river Yamuna.

We visited the temple via Hanuman Chetty. Horses were also available on rent, offering a wonderful opportunity to view the breathtaking beauty of waterfalls.

Gangotri was our next destination. Considered as the place where Ganga merged in the earth, Gangotri has a 18th century temple. Our heart filled with great devotion when we reached this sacred site, hustling and bustling with religious activities. We also took a holy dip in river Ganga and visited beautiful places adjacent to Gangotri.

 

Our customized Char Dham tour package proved helpful for us as we could visit all the places we wanted to see. To experience the eternal bliss, we reached our next destination Kedarnath.

After reaching there, we felt the tranquility and great peace of mind because everywhere you could listen the sound of praising God by devotees. There is a temple which was built by Pandavas. It is known as the abode of Lord Shiva.

 

It is said that the present temple was built by Adi Shankracharya in the 18th century. The temple has decorated inner walls in the assembly hall. A large statue of the Nandi bull stands outside the temple door. Blessed with great scenic beauty, Kedarnath is also the origin place of River Mandakini.

 

Connecting ourselves with divine during our tour, we reached Badrinath, the last destination of our tour. It is situated in the lap of Nar-Narayan Parvat, at an elevation of 3,133 meters above sea level.

Badrinath is considered as the most sacred religious site of Hindu. This pilgrimage site boasts of Tapt Kund and Surya Kund, which are the springs of natural hot water.

 

The silent and tranquil atmosphere seems to resound with the names of God as the devotees advance towards their destination. We felt immense tranquility by getting the spiritual blessings of Lord.

Apart from offering great spiritual experience, the journey also enabled us to enjoy the scenic natural beauty scattered all around the sacred sites.

 

Based on our experience, I would strongly recommend that one must go for Char Dham Yatra at least once in his life!

 

 

 

 

 

Tajmahal Agra Tour – Admire the Architectural Brilliance

Posted on September 8th, 2011 by Uma Malhotra  |  Comments Off

My curiosity to see Taj Mahal took me to Agra last month. The city which truly reflects an affluent cultural of the glorious past of India simply fascinated me. Located on the banks of Yamuna river, Agra is famous for its outstanding monuments.

One of the most famous monuments of Agra is Tajmahal. The name ‘Taj Mahal’ itself describes its grandeur. I was really willing to catch the beauty of Taj Mahal since my teenage years. So, it was the most-awaited time for me when my wish got fulfilled by visiting Agra. On being reached there, I was enthralled by the charm of this architectural wonder. The mysterious appeal of this famous monument really mesmerized me during my Taj Mahal Tour.

This white marble made wonder changes its expression with each passing hour. While blazing brightly in the sunlight, Taj Mahal offers a truly memorable sight in the night. I forgot all the tiredness as I felt the romantic ambience of Taj Mahal.

History of  Tajmahal

The knowledgeable guide told me about this wonderful monument, which is known as the epitome of love. This spectacular building was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaj Mahal. The construction of this gorgeous monument took 20 years to complete.

I also visited the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, located about one and half kms from Taj Mahal. It was another example of finest architecture of olden times.

Agra Fort

After seeing Taj Mahal, I went for another tourist destination Agra Fort (Also known as the Red Fort). Built by Akbar in 1565, this fort is one of the best examples of Mughal architecture style. Inside this massive fort, you can see various buildings like Pearl Mosque, Jehangir’s Palace, the Diwan-E-Aam (Hall of Public Audience) and Diwan-E-Khas (Hall of Private Audience), Sheesh Mahal (mirrored palace), Khaas Mahal and Musamman Burj.

It remains open for tourists from 7:00 a.m in the morning till 6 o’clock in the evening.

Fatehpur Sikri

I wanted to explore more, so headed towards another famous monument Fatehpur Sikri, situated about 37 kms from Agra. It houses the shrine of revered Sufi Saint Saleem Chisti.

When you visit all these monuments you will realize how exceptional skills of the workers of that time had even when there were not much facilities like today. Even though, the outstanding architecture of the old monuments will not let you believe it.

I also paid a short visit Akbar’s Tomb at Sikandra, at a short distance of 4 kms from Agra. The tomb comprises the characteristics of airy tiered pavilions of the Agra Fort.

All the monuments I visited in Agra was created so heartedly that their architectural beauty simply touched my soul!

Rajasthan Heritage Tour-Explore the Royal Splendor!

Posted on September 2nd, 2011 by Uma Malhotra  |  Comments Off

Rajasthan is one such place that has always been my center of attraction. The land of raja-maharajas takes me to the memories of royal past. Assailed by my desire to explore this wonderful destination, we, a group of four friends, embarked on Rajasthan Heritage Tour.

The peaceful destination of India with rippling sand dunes, vibrant culture, majestic forts, heritage palace and varied wild life make Rajasthan altogether a place to visit. As we were moving ahead to visit some magnificent palaces of Rajasthan, we felt ourselves going back in time of Kings.

The wonderful architecture, the beautiful interior of the massive forts reflect the great architectural heritage. Different types of carving, paintings and inscriptions are the real wealth of this princely state. Our Rajasthan Heritage Tour took us to explore the ruins of the desert land of Rajasthan. All the regions have several magnificent forts and palaces.

During my tour, following forts and palaces became a part of my exploration in Rajasthan:

Amber Fort (Jaipur):

This sprawling fort in Jaipur is a classic example of Rajput architecture style. The stern exterior, mighty gates, huge ornate halls, well-built pavilions and beautiful gardens, this is what Amber Fort is all about. The most exciting thing that we enjoyed there was, Elephant Ride.

Hawa Mahal (Jaipur):

This pyramid-shaped monument is popularly known as ‘Palace of Winds.’ There are 953 small windows in which the gentle wind circulates and that is the reason behind it is given the name. Climbing to the top of Hawa Mahal offers an excellent view of the city.

City Palace (Udaipur):

Built by Maharaja Udai Singh, City Palace is situated in Udaipur. There are varied massive gates to lead the palace through elephant gate or hathi pol. From the balcony of this fort, Jag Niwas can be seen. Owing to its cultural and natural beauty, this palace is famous across the country.

Umaid Bhawan Palace (Jodhpur):

Located on Chittar hill, this palace has been constructed with sandstone. Some part of Umaid Bhawan has also changed into museum and hotels. The influence of western and eastern architecture can be seen in the architecture of this palace.

Chittorgarh Fort (Chittorgarh):

Located on a high hill near the Gambheri river, this massive fort covers an area of 700 acres. Its well-built palaces, huge towers and majestic cenotaphs add to the beauty of this palace. Having a colossal structure, the fort boasts a long story of courage, chivalry, romance and sacrifice.

Mehrangarh Fort (Jodhpur):

It is one of the largest forts of India, boasting of its imposing structure with massive walls which still stand undeterred. Located at a staggering height of 400 feet on a high hill, this amazing fort is really an architectural wonder.

The unmatched beauty, elegance and royal structures of these monuments of Rajasthan make it a place worth to visit.

Rajasthan is a land suitable for all types of tour prorgarmme. If you wish to go for adventure tour and wildlife, it has options like Ranthambhore National Park and Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary.

Enriched with historical palaces, Rajasthan has too many options to go for a historic Rajasthan tour.

Last but not the least, Romantic Rajasthan Tour takes you to the most exotic destinations for a truly romantic experience. You can visit Chokhi Dhani which is an ethnic village resort offers you to stay in a traditional Rajasthani style amidst all the modern amenities. Staying in heritage hotels and spending the whole day with your beloved amidst luxury and comfort will be a unique experience.

At last, we decided to go for a camel safari. It’s the best way to explore Rajasthan. After spending quality time in the wonderful Rajasthan, we came back to Delhi with delightful memories of the tour.

My Last Day Tour on Palace on Wheels

Posted on August 19th, 2011 by admin  |  Comments Off

Day 5 – Jaisalmer, A Sandy Desert

Our next halt was in Jaisalmer, which lies in the heart of  Thar desert. It was founded by Rawal Jaisal in 1156 AD. Traveling by palace-on-wheels enabled us to admire the majestic forts, the  ancient havelis and the rich culture of Jaisalmer.

Our first stoppage was made at the massive Jaisalmer fort. This fort is  renowned for being the second largest fort in Rajasthan. Beautifully adorned with exquisite architecture, the fort offers a spectacular view of the desert below.

After that, we got to see some of the finest examples of stone architecture through The Nathmalji-ki-haveli, Salim Singh-ki-haveli and Patwon-ki-haveli. All of them showcase the outstanding craftsmanship of the skilled stone carvers.

Nearby there is a Government-run emporium where we stopped for some shopping. This emporium has something for everyone. We had our lunch and rest for sometime, while some tourists enjoyed shopping. The popular shopping items include pattu shawls, wooden boxes, trinkets, silver jewellery, mirror work and embroidered articles.

After lunch, we decided to go for camel ride on the sand dunes of amazing Sam. It was really exciting and enjoyable too. We enjoyed the dinner with the cultural porgramme and at night, the train left for Jodhpur.

 

Day 6 – Jodhpur, the second largest city of Rajasthan

Next morning, we were in Jodhpur, the sun city of Rajasthan. We were amazed to see the mesmerizing landscapes and magnificent monuments. As we entered the Mehrangarh Fort, we could realize how rich India was in its architecture. The guide told us that it was founded by Rao Jodha in 1459. We visited the palaces, museum and galleries of this majestic fort. Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana are some remarkable examples of architectural excellence.

Near the fort, Jaswant Thada lies with a group of royal cenotaphs, carved out of white marble.

We relished our lunch at Palace hotel and then planned for shopping. While shopping in Jodhpur, we come across some exquisite handicraft items such as metal curios, silverware, paintings, embroidered shoes and tie and dye fabrics. Thinking of the marvel of architecture that we saw in Jodhpur, we returned to the train.

 

Day 7 – Bharatpur / Agra

Bharatpur – A Beautiful City

After bidding good-bye to Jodhpur,  the Palace on Wheels arrived at Bharatpur in the morning. The city is an avian paradise. We heard a lot about the bird sanctuary in Bharatpur and after breakfast, we were there. Known as Keoladeo Ghana National Park, the sanctuary is a nesting place for thousands of Egrets, migratory Water Fowl, Siberian Cranes and many other species of birds.

We also had enjoyed there the park trails by walk and then left for Bharatpur Palace.

Bharatpur Palace is the another attraction of the city. This palace is a fusion of the Mughal and Rajput art which has now become a museum presenting collections dating back to the second century AD. We had our lunch and headed towards Agra.

Agra- The City of Architectural Marvel

Upon arrival, we left for the famous Agra Fort. We all were eagerly waiting to visit  Taj Mahal which is known as one of the seven wonders of the world. It was as marvellous as we had heard. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, Taj Mahal is truly an architectural wonder. Agra is also known for its outstanding marble inlay work such as the Pietra Dura work on the Taj, leather goods and jewellery items.

Day 8: Back to Delhi

In the late evening we left for Delhi. Upon arrival at Safdarjung Railway station, we had breakfast on board. Collecting the pleasant memories of the wonderful week, we came back. It was indeed a lifetime experience.

Day 3: Sawai Madhopur Experience with palace on wheel train tour…

Posted on August 4th, 2011 by admin  |  Comments Off

Next day, we reached in Sawai Madhopur where one can sense a life of the wilderness. This city was named after its founder Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh. We had our breakfast and moved towards Ranthambhor National Park. Here we saw some of the ruins of a 10th century fort.

This wildlife century is best for closely observing the activities of the tiger. Sprawled across an area of 392 sq. km the park is home to around 300 species of birds. We got to see tiger, hyena, jackal, fox and other many carnivorous here. My wife is fond of photography, so she could not help herself and took some photographers of tigers.

After taking our lunch on Palace-on-Wheels, we left for Chittorgarh. We were delighted to watch the colourful countryside of the place. Then we saw the Chittorgarh fort, which is witness of the  valour and chivalry of the warriors during battles. We also visited palaces like

Fateh Prakash Palace, Queen Padmini’s Palace and Rana Kumbha Palace which were within the fort. The fort also houses the popular Kirti Stambh and the Vijay Stambh. In Chittorgarh, we also came across some shopping items like tie & dye sarees, lac work articles & bangles and leather & embroidered shoes.

 

Keeping in mind the memories of Chittorgarh, we reached back to the train and had our dinner while discussing about the place. Thinking of the legends of  honour and pride of Udaipur, we went to bed.

 

Day 4: Visiting Udaipur, Jewel of Mewar

The day began with Udaipur, where we reached after having our breakfast. Udaipur is also popularly known as the Lake City. It was founded by Maharana Udai Singh of Mewar. We were excited to see the dream palaces- the Jag Niwas and the Jag Mandir, which were built of marble.

These beautiful palaces seem to rise from the water of Pichhola lake.

After having our lunch, a visit was arranged to the City Palace. The palace was enriched with aesthetic and visionary work of art miniature paintings. These represent the lavish lifestyle of the ancient rulers.

Other attractions of Udaipur which we visited include Saheliyon-Ki-Bari, Jagdish Temple and Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandir. Saheliyon-Ki-Bari is a small ornamental garden which has many fountains, lotus pools and marble elephants.

Built in 1651 by Maharana Jagat Singh, the Jagdish Temple is the largest temple here. It houses a black stone image of Lord Vishnu and an image of Garuda which is made up of brass.

While visiting this Indian folk arts museum, Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandir, we got to catch some interesting exhibits. These include folk dresses, puppets, ornaments, dolls, masks and folk musical instruments. After enjoying amazing puppet show here, we came back to the train.

 

To be continued…..

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

Posted on July 22nd, 2011 by Uma Malhotra  |  Comments Off

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

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.

Trekking In India Offers Unlimited Fun

Posted on June 16th, 2011 by admin  |  Comments Off

India is an incredible land which offers adventure in plenty. Adventure lovers travel to India from across the globe to set their pulse racing with its adventure activities. Trekking is a famous adventure sport in India as the country is endowed with majestic Himalayas and other mesmerizing mountain ranges. The country boasts of some of the best trekking trails in the world. So are you ready for the exciting trekking challenges? You will get to enjoy, experience and explore a lot on the trekking tour to India. On trekking tour you get a chance to pass through forests, quaint villages established on the hills, gushing streams and cascading waterfalls. The experience of trekking in India is truly beyond words.

Ladakh is considered one of the best places for trekking not only in India but in the world. This snow desert of India is popularly known as Little Tibet as its geographical features and culture resembles that of Tibet. When it comes to adventure, Ladakh tops the list of Indian adventure destinations. Boasting of the majestic snow-capped mountains, lovely valleys, arresting monasteries and adventure sports, Ladakh is a great destination for holidays.

Whether you are an expert in trekking or an amateur, Ladakh Trekking Tours have options for you. Go for a trekking trail of one day or enjoy trekking for the entire one month in Ladakh. While you are in Ladakh you can also indulge in other adventure activities like water rafting, Yak safari and cycling.

Ladakh boats of several enchanting trekking routes such as Nubra alley, Lamayuru Gompa to Chilling, Spituk to Markha valley, Likir to Temisgam, Rupshu valley and Spiti valley. These trails are popular with tourists as they are quite easy treks. If you have long perfected the art of trekking then the difficult trekking trails like Stok Kangri trek, Markha Valley, Nubra Valley, Alchi – Lamayuru Trek and Rupshu valley. The perfect time for Ladakh Trekking tour is from mid June to October. world.

Apart from Ladakh you can go for trekking in North East Indian states like Sikkim, Assam, Mizoram and Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal.