Thursday, 26 February 2015

Destination Guides


Taj Mahal shines like a burnished beacon beckoning millions of tourists from around the world every year. Voted as one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal is the magnum opus of Indo-Saracenic architecture standing testimony to the secular character of the country and the beginning of the end of the mighty Mughal Empire. Agra was at its peak during the reign of the emperor Shah Jehan who built architectural wonders such as the Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal both of which are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Besides Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, there are a number of historical landmarks and stunning monuments sprinkled in and around Agra which attracts tourists from around the world. But to experience the breathtaking beauty of these structures one has to endure the lesser attractive aspects of the prepossessing city of India which Agra has become. The polluted Yamuna, crowded city and chaos tell the story of urbanization and rapid industrialization of the city. The industries which include carpets, pietra dura in marble, zari embroidery and leather, have greatly contributed in furthering the woes of Yamuna and Agra.

Today except for monuments such as Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Itmad-ud-Daula Tomb and a few other attractions, Agra does not has much in store for the travelers. The roads are crowded and chaotic, movement congested and streets full of touts and agents to fleece the tourists which should better be avoided.

When it comes to food and accommodation, Agra doesn’t lag far behind. There are plenty of options including plush 5 star hotels, guest houses and normal hotels to accommodate the guests and suit their budget. Dining is not a problem as one can choose from an array of international cuisines available at reasonable rates in decent hotels and restaurants. There are many ways in which one can reach Agra to discover its gems as well as its underbelly. Its proximity to Delhi makes it easy to access, both by trains and by taxis or hired vehicle. There’s much to be explored when you are in Agra so the longer you stay, the more you can discover and explore and consequently come to appreciate treasures of Agra and its vicinity.

As a part of luxury train journey, it is ensured that you receive a red carpet welcome as you visit the gem of the city and one of the most enduring icons of India - Taj Mahal. Expert guides and exclusive treatment await as you are taken to a sightseeing tour of Taj Mahal and later High Tea at Taj Khema.

Attractions in Agra

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal perhaps the most celebrated symbol of love commemorating love. An inspiration to poets and writers alike, Taj Mahal is perhaps one of the most quoted about monuments in world when it comes to inspire love, wonder and awe. Nobel winner poet Rabindranath Tagore described it as “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity”.

Built entirely of white marbles, this magnum opus of Mughal architecture took 20 years and 20,000 workers to be constructed. It was built by Shah Jehan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaj. There are a number of structures inside the complex which include reflecting pools, gardens, mosque and the central iwan itself surrounded by 4 symmetric minarets. Intricate carvings and awe-inspiring symmetry add to the magnificence of the interiors of the main structure where the cenotaph of Shah Jehan and Mumtaj Mahal is located. The precision with lapidary and calligraphy at the cenotaphs are sheer brilliant work of workmanship.

One of the most photographed structures of world, this designated UNESCO World Heritage Site is a sight to behold. No matter how much one has seen it in photos and documentaries, an actual visit is a sublime experience as one beholds the impeccable harmony, symmetry and a flawless carvings and calligraphy. The marbles come alive infused as if with love that Taj Mahal commemorates. A visit to Taj Mahal indeed is an experience of a lifetime.

List of Destinations in India


Jaipur is fondly referred to as the “Pink City” and you will know the reason without even anyone telling you why as soon as you enter this medieval city. The consistent pink color sported by this well planned city narrates its 200 years old history and enthralls and inspires the visitors and tourists alike. Literally meaning city of victory, Jaipur is India’s first planned city founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Amber in 1727.

Today the easily navigable streets of this once well planned city is crowded and chaotic. Though the pink color is still flaunted with pride on the sleeves of city structures, the race with modernity and industrialization has taken its toll. Today the city conjures a haphazard fusion of the contemporary and the ancient monuments scattered across the settlements which have sprouted everywhere as a result of rapid urbanization.

Despite such strikingly opposite canvas painted by the disparate amalgamation of tradition and modernity which may leave a visitor confounded, the air of Jaipur is redolent with a vivacious blend of the modern energy and colonial charm weaving a distinctive contrast.
When it comes to city tour, there is much to be explored to keep visitors on their toes. From the sprawling City Palace to the Hawa Mahal and from the Royal Observatory to Jai Mahal, Jaipur is dotted with landmarks of historical and cultural significance. In the periphery of city lies the most resplendent of fortresses of Jaipur – the Amber Fort – which is one of the most popular attractions of Jaipur and used to be the seat of power until the base was shifted to City Palace in Jaipur.

Major Attractions in Jaipur

Amber Fort

Capital of Kachhwaha Rajput for more than 700 years before it was moved to Jaipur. The great elongated sandstone walls of the Amber Fort spread across 12 miles are perhaps the longest walled structure in India and might remind you of the Great Wall of China. Nestled by the Aravalis on the bank of Lake Moata, - which serve more of a ceremonial purpose these days – Amber Fort stand majestically inspiring wonder and grandeur alike.

Only this massive fort could have helped Maharaja Man Singh I to manage his 12 wives, as it was he who established this fort in 1592. Man Singh I rose up to be the chief commander of Mughal army and was a great organizer. No wonder he oversaw the construction of this resplendent sprawling fortress. The fort has walled courtyard measuring 150 by 150 square feet each with a central open-sided meeting place. Each courtyard wall has three doors making up for 12, one for each of the Maharaja’s wife.

There is much to be witnessed, explored and appreciated in this magnificent fortress. An unmistakable fusion of the Mughal and Rajput architecture permeates the interiors of the Amber. Exquisite mirror works, stone carvings, sculptures, carved frescos and miniature Mughal Gardens are a sight to behold. The attractions of the fort are the stunning Diwan-i-Aam (hall of public audience), Ganesh Pol, Sheesh Mahal and Sukh Niwas among others.

City Palace

City Palace is grand structure nestled in the heart of the city. There is much to be explored in this royal palace a part of which still houses the members of royal family of Jaipur. Mubarak Mahal built by Maharaja Madho Singh II presents a seamless fusion of the Mughal and Rajput architecture and is a sight to behold with its exquisite stone carvings and stunning latticing. It was converted into a museum and is a fine repository of royal costumes displaying breathtaking collection of shawls, saris, and voluminous clothes of Sawai Madhosingh I.

Other structures of note include Diwan-i-Khas with marble floored chambers, intricate carving and mirror works. Two huge silver containers are also placed in this structure each with capacity of 4000 litres and weighing 340 kilograms and a mention in Guinness Book of World Records.

Seven-storeyed Chandra Mahal is the most commanding structure of the Palace with each floor having a specific name. Except for the ground floor, this structure is out of reach for the visitors. Other places of interest include the Maharani Palace, Diwan-i-Aam and Baggi Palace housing royal carriages used by the members of royal family.

Jantar Mantar (Royal Observatory)

Maharaja Jai Sing II was a renowned patron of art and science. After overseeing the construction of 4 observatories in different parts of North India including the one in Delhi, he built his most exquisite and grand royal observatory in Jaipur. Designed for the purpose of astronomical observation, Jantar Mantar is one of the most significant, well preserved and comprehensive astronomical observation sites. It is also a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its immense cultural, scientific and technological value.

There are 20 well preserved main fixed instruments to chart the course of astronomical movement and measure time, predict eclipses, tracking the location of stars and planetary movements and ascertaining various astronomical data. An excursion through the observatory sprinkled with stone and marble made huge Yantras built to measure the heavenly movements is a one of its kind experience. And a must visit when in Jaipur.

Chokhi Dhani

Chokhi Dhani is a heritage resort built in the outskirts of the city. Designed to recreate the traditional ambience of erstwhile Rajputana, Chokhi Dhani represents the culture, tradition and amazing concoction of colors of Rajasthan in a microcosm.

Inside Chokhi Dhani resort, one can attend an array of traditional dance performances performed by local artistes, puppet show, camel rides and other events bearing strong cultural influence of Rajasthan. It’s like discovering and living all of Rajasthan in one place. A 5 course traditional Mewari meal to tantalize the taste buds is also served for the platter of the guests in a traditional ambience.
List of Destinations in India


Betwa River Orchha
The charm of Orchha lies in it being a nondescript destination as compared to the nearby Khajuraho Temples. Whereas the erotic sculptures at Khajuraho are world famous and subject to various research and studies, when it comes to popular destinations in India Orchha is a sleepy little town with small population attracting limited number of tourists,or I'd say mostly travelers. Orchha has it fair share of sculpted temples, palaces and other landmarks but none compares to the exquisite craftsmanship displayed at the 'love temples' of Khajuraho. However where Orchha scores over its more popular counterpart is the natural landscape, convivial inhabitants and relatively pristine ambience.
Morning in Orchha Betwa RiverThere's nothing like the sight of the mist covered forests as the sun casts its first shadow on earth. The moment is too ethereal, too sublime to describe in words, it can only be experienced first hand. Take a jaunt by the forest feeling nature brush past your senses, let the silence takeover; its transcendental.

Sitting by the bank of meandering Betwa River during the sunset and beholding the silhouette of the Chhatris, or the sight of Laksmi Temple and the Orchha Palace was simply mesmerizing. One thing that sets apart Orchha is the friendly locals and mouth watering street food.

Jahangir Mahal is one of the major attractions in Orchha. Even as you approach Jahangiri Mahal you’ll notice the amalgam of Indo-Saracenic architecture. The legend associated with this 3 storied structure with hanging terraces and domed apartment has it that it was named after the Mughal Emperor Jahangir who had Kingdom of Orchha returned to Bir Singh, then king of the kingdom. The palace building boasts of 132 multi layered chambers. The chambers bear significant amount of ornamentation and carvings depicting various Hindu deities and animals and birds.
All that can be said is that Orchha is an enchanting as well as rejuvenating destination, a veritable oasis far from the hullabaloo of other popular destinations and the din of city.

Lush Orchha
List of Destinations in India


For those looking forward to savor the vibrant colors of life amidst stark desert of Rajasthan, Jodhpur is an apt destination. Situated on the edge of Thar Desert, Jodhpur is the second largest city of Rajasthan after Rajasthan. The city is also known as the Blue city due to the blue-painted houses around Mehrangarh Fort. Jodhpur was founded by Rao Jodha, the leader of the Rathore clan, in 1459 AD. The city was built to serve as the new capital of Rathore kingdom, Known as Marwar. Owing to its strategic location near road linking Delhi - Gujarat trade route, the city thrived from the trade in copper, silk, sandals, date palms and coffee.

Jodhpur, Rajasthan
A panoramic view of the blue city Jodhpur from the ramparts of Mehrangarh fort
Attractions in Jodhpur
The city of Jodhpur is a popular tourist destination owing to its royal heritage. Places of tourist interest in Jodhpur include massive fortress, striking palaces and spectacular gardens. Besides forts and palaces, the cultural festivals in Jodhpur are a major attraction for travelers. Some of the famous attractions in Jodhpur are as follows:

Mehrangarh Fort
Perched on a 150 meter high hill, Mehrangarh fort is one of the largest forts in Rajasthan. The fort was founded as the site of Rao Jodha’s new capital in 1459 AD. The massive fort complex has many palaces and temples which include Moti Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Phool Mahal, Zenana Deodi and Chamunda Mataji Temple. A museum in the fort houses an exquisite collection of howdahs, palanquins, fine arts, music instruments, and weapons and is well worth your time.
Forts and Palaces in Rajasthan
A view of the massive facades of the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Jaswant Thada
Located 1 kilometer downhill from Mehrangarh fort, Jaswant Thada is a striking white marble cenotaph of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. Jaswant Thada, fondly called the Taj Mahal of Marwar was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh to commemorate his father Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The main cenotaph was given a shape of temple with intricately carved marble stone.

Rajasthan tours
Jaswant Thada, cenotaph of the maharaja of Jodhpur is often referred to as Taj Mahal of Jodhpur
Umaid Bhawan Palace
Umaid Bhawan Palace was built by Maharaja Umaid Singh and is one of the largest private residences in the world. The palace is also known as Chittar Palace due to the extensive use of Chittar sandstone and its location on Chittar hill. At present, the palace is divided into three functional parts- a luxury five-star hotel, a museum and residence of the royal family.
Rajasthan package holidays
Umaid Bhawan Palace is one of the largest private residences in world a part of which is now converted into hotel and is managed by prestigious Taj group
Desert safari in Jodhpur
One of the must do things while you are in Jodhpur is a camel-back safari in the Thar desert. Jodhpur is often referred to as the gateway to Thar. A safari in the undulating sand dunes of the desert with a camping session in night to behold the morning glory of sunrise is always on prescription in Jodhpur. Savor the mystical experience as you behold the golden hue of the sand during sunrise.
Rajasthan tours
A camel safari in the sand dunes near Jodhpur is always recommended for its sheer mystical aspect

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Once a simple, seaside retreat strung with resort hotels, Goa is graduating to a destination with a range of sophisticated lodging and world-class dining options aimed at the tasteful traveler. Goa with its serene beaches, exquisite crumbling architecture, vibrant nightlife, spa & yoga, distinct colonial charm and an openness seldom seen anywhere else in India is a tiny emerald cradled between Arabian Sea and Western Ghats. With a great balance between modernity evident in the party scenes, luxury hotels, spas and restaurants and the rustic charm of Old Goa with its Churches and Cathedrals and traditional villages reminiscent of its Portuguese legacy, Goa is a destination like no other in India.

Goa tours
Churches and Cathedral of Goa: Colonial legacy of Old Goa, a designated World Heritage Site
The tourist paradise, Goa is the ideal place for tourists to spend their vacations underneath the sun and rolling waves palm fringed beaches. With a number of deluxe 5 star hotels and resorts in Goa coming up at some of the most breathtaking locales, tours to Goa has an upper hand over other destinations not just in India but around the world. The most appealing aspect of Goa is the romance which suffuses the environs drawing romantic couples and honeymooners alike from around the world.

Goa India
Sun and sand paradise Goa
Beaches in Goa
Goa is regarded as a tropical paradise with an array of beaches draped along Arabian Sea coast. With an unparalleled languidness and cosmopolitan hospitality, beaches of Goa are irediscent beacon drawing millions of tourists from around the world. Some of the most visited beaches by tourists in the city are Baga, Anjuna, Calangute, Majorda, Colva, Bogmalo, Vagator, Dona Paula, Miramar and Sinquerim.

Holidays in Goa
Glittering beaches of Goa are its most appealing aspect when it comes to Goa tours and holidays

Rustic Charm of Old Goa
Old Goa was once compared with Lisbon and London back in 1500s. Crumbling architecture which includes scores of Cathedrals and imposing Churches, some of which are largest in Asia, are reminiscent of the bygone splendor of this once fabled city. A visit to Old Goa is a must if you are looking for a glimpse into the colonial legacy of Goa evident in its streets, building, culture and exquisite landmarks.

Goa tourism
Old basilica Bom Jesus in Old Goa: A part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Goa

Basilica of Bom Jesus, St. Catherine’s Chapel, Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and Church and Convent of St Monica are some must visit attractions of Goa. The Churches and Convents of Old Goa are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site and had been influential in spreading both faith and the Portuguese style of architecture in Asia. These grandiose structures and remnants of humanity in the Old Goa which once was compared to Lisbon itself is one of the most distinctive and appealing feature of holidays in Goa.

Goa hotels
Goa is one of the most preferred honeymoon destinations and romantic getaway in India
List of Destinations in India


Kovalam name to fame was the discovery of its pristine beaches in early 1970s by hippies. An erstwhile backpacker’s paradise, Kovalam has developed into a world class tropical beach paradise in Kerala. It is a favored destination of honeymooners and those looking forward to a rejuvenating time in sand and sun. Another important factor contributing to tourism in Kovalam is Ayurveda and wellness activities to invigorate your body, mind and soul. Kovalam is one of the most important destination not just when it comes to Kerala tours, but also when it comes to beach destinations in world.
Kovalam Beaches: Destinations in Kerala
A mesmerizing view of the sunset by the Kovalam coastline
This crescent shaped beach also referred to as the paradise of the South was once the favorite haunt of the hippies. Once a sleepy little hamlet and backpackers paradise, Kovalam today is one of the most popular and exclusive beach destinations in India. Frenzied urbanization and international tourists flocking to this sun and sand paradise has led to premium pricing in Kovalam. Nonetheless, Kovalam still beckons generations of nouveau global nomads owing to its tropical coastline swathed in coconut groves, Ayurveda and spa, mouth tingling cuisines and vibrant shopping scene.

A view of the Lighthouse Beach in Kovalam
 Alas as with most popular tourist destinations in world, the center of attraction in Kovalam have become a bit crowded and seldom offer what they were once famous for. But to discover and explore the true colors of Kovalam, you but have to wade a bit deeper.

To discover the exotic beauty for which Kovalam is romanticized internationally dig deep into the inner recesses of the city to less crowded coastline, particularly into the rice paddies and palm groves that stretch far inland. Do try out the mouth tingling seafood while you are in Kovalam.

And accommodation is not a problem in Kovalam. Whether you are a budget traveler or looking for exclusive stays, a hotel for every need and budget is available in Kovalam to suit your pocket and occasion. Kovalam beach indeed is an idyll retreat when it comes to holidays in Kerala.

holidays in Kerala
Succulent seafood is another specialty of Kovalam 
List of Destinations in India


Delhi is an ancient city which has witnessed power shift through many hands. Consequently present capital of India is home to an amazing diversity and untold cultural and architectural wealth. India's capital city, New Delhi has transformed from a relatively sleepy city to a vibrant melting pot graced with wide roads, stately monuments and effervescent nightlife! This truly multi-dimensional city might bamboozle you at the first sight due to its amazing diversity, but the imperial city of New Delhi is sprinkled with fascinating monuments, enlightening museums and art galleries, bustling markets and remarkable eating joints.

Dotted with an array of World Heritage Site, Delhi is a major destination for holidays in India famous for its vibrant culture, shopping, sightseeing and mouth tingling cuisines presenting India in a microcosm. Attractions in the city include World Heritage Qutub Minar, Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb along with Jama Masjid, India Gate, Lotus Temple (Baha'i House of Worship), ISKCON Temple, Lodhi Gardens and Akshardham Temple among others. Tours to India is never complete without Delhi. Delhi also happens to be a major link to North Indian and South Indian states and Delhi travel packages include an eclectic assortment of remarkable holidays in India.

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