The earliest Indian history dates back to stone ages of 400000 - 200000 BC. The earliest settlers in India can be classified into two classes, namely Paleolithic man and Neolithic man. Paleolithic man lived on flesh of animals, wild fruits and vegetables. Historians suggest that Paleolithic man belonged to the Negritude race and was short, dark skinned and flat nosed. Remains of implements used by the Paleolithic man were discovered in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar, and southern India. Remains of Neolithic men belonging to the new Stone Age are found all over India. The Neolithic civilization was well advanced over the Paleolithic man. They cultivated land, grew corn and fruits, domesticated animals, made pottery and used fire. They lived in caves and decorated their caves with painting, constructed boats and went to the sea, spun cloths and buried their dead. Copper age and Iron Age succeeded Stone Age. The Indus valley civilization is a splendid example of that period. Valley Civilization: Archeological excavations in Mohanjo-Daro, Harappa (now in Pakistan) and trial excavations in Sind, Baluchistan, Punjab, Gujarat and Rajasthan proved that a highly civilized community flourished in that area around 3000 BC. This civilization was contemporary to the Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian civilizations. Known as Indus Valley Civilization, it flourished more than 1000 years. The civilization was advanced with well-planned cities and buildings built with baked bricks. The streets were laid at right angles with covered drains. Buildings and location were arranged for the different strata of the society. There were public buildings such as the Great Bath at Mohanjo-Daro and huge granaries. Several metals such as copper, bronze, lead and tin were in use They domesticated animals including camel, goats, water buffalo and fouls. The Hardpans cultivated grains such as wheat and barley. Cotton and woolen cloths and earthen vessels were in use. They traded with other parts of India and other contemporary civilizations. The Harappan society was divided according to professions. Indications are there that there was a proper government and the people worshipped deities in male and female forms. By 1700 BC, the Harappan culture was on the decline probably due to repeated flooding or the propagation of the desert. It is also said that invading barbarians could be the reason for declining the Harappan culture. When Aryans arrived in 1500 BC the Harappan culture was partially wiped out. Aryans: 1500 BC had seen the arrival of Aryans to India. They established small agrarian communities throughout Punjab and adopted the agricultural life style prevailed in the area. The horse that came with the Aryans lead to the formation of cavalry and the rapid spread of the Aryan culture through out North India. The Aryans developed a rich tradition and composed Vedas. The caste system evolved during this period. Originally castes were a division of occupation but later transformed to depend on birth. Some Historians say that the caste system existed among the natives and Aryans only adapted to it. During the 6 th century BC Buddhism and Jainism emerged in India. These two religions preached non-violence, tolerance and selfdiscipline. As land became property and the society divided on occupation and caste, conflicts and disorders cropped up. Organized power to deal with these problems lead to formation of village councils, states and even vast empires. Alexander The Great: In 327 BC Alexander of Macedonia conquered a large part of the northwest India. He entered India through the Hindukush. As a great ruler, he developed good relations with the local authorities while establishing his garrisons. While returning back due to the pressure of his war weary soldiers, he left these areas to be ruled by Greek governors. Chandragupta Maurya fought the Macedonians and defeated them. Gradually these states were lost out to Indian states. But the contact between the two cultures put a lasting influence on Indian art and architecture. Mauryan Empire The dissatisfaction against foreign rulers started appearing in 320BC. The early uprisings were crushed by the successors of Alexander. But the uprising continued under a new leader named Chandragupta Maurya. After raising an army and persuading Indians to support his sovereignty he founded Maurya Empire. He went to war with Alexander's representatives and defeated Seleukos and added a large territory of the Macedonian Empire to Mauryan Empire.
The successor of Chandragupta was his son Bindusara who reigned from 300BC to 273BC. He was a very strong ruler and maintained a friendly relation with the Hellenic west established by his father. Bindusara had many sons and when he died, Asoka, one of his sons, took over. Asoka, the greatest emperor of all, accessed to the throne four years after his father's death and ruled India for 36~37 years. Asoka suppressed a fresh revolt in Taxila and conquered Kalinga. Even though victorious, the Kalinga war was a turning point in Asoka's life. The misery and bloodshed of the war awakened his feelings of repentance and sorrow. It made him devoted to the practice of 'Dharma' ultimately changing his State policies. He embraced Buddhism and spread the teachings of Buddha to his subjects through inscriptions on rocks and pillars, in local dialects, throughout the country. During his reign Buddhism flourished in West Asia and in his southern neighboring countries. The Mauryan Empire broke up after the death of Asoka in 232BC and divided among his sons. Altogether there were ten kings in the Mauryan dynasty. The disintegration of Maurya Empire invited invaders from central Asia seeking fortunes in India. The Mauryan economy was agrarian. The state owned huge farms, farm labors and slaves for cultivation. Income for the state was from taxes levied on agriculture, land, trade and industrial products such as handicrafts. Industries such as arms, agricultural implements, ships for river navigation, weaving, handicrafts and cloth industry flourished during this period. Gupta Empire: The Gupta Empire in 4th century AD is considered as the golden age of Indian history. The Guptas ruled India for more than two centuries. Chandragupta I was the first in the Gupta Dynasty to assume the imperial title of 'Supreme King of Kings'. He strengthened his position by a matrimonial alliance with Lichchhavis. The greatest of all Gupta kings was Samudragupta whose campaign expanded the empire in all directions. Samudragupta was succeeded by Chandragupta II who was also known as Vikramaditya (380 ~ 413AD). He continued the policy of world conquest pursued by his predecessor by military activity and political marriages. Kumaragupta and Skandagupta succeeded him. Skandagupta was able to repel initial conquests by white Huns. But after his death the Huns spread rapidly towards the close of 5th century and the early 6th century. After the fall of Gupta Empire, north India broke into smaller kingdoms and never was really united until the arrival of Moslems. During the Gupta Era, classical art forms emerged and treatises on grammar, mathematics, astronomy, medicine etc. were written. 'Kamasutra', the great work on the art of love, was created during this period. Science and literature registered considerable progress. The great Kalidasa (literature) and Aryabhata (astronomy) lived in this era. The famous Ajanta and Ellora caves were created during this period. Even though the rulers followed orthodox Hinduism, Chinese travelers like Fa Hien recorded peaceful co-existence of religions.
While turmoil was brewing up and kingdoms were rising and falling in the north, the south India remained comparatively calm and stable. The Pallavas, Cholas and Pandyas shared the power in the Tamil Country. Cheras ruled Kerala and Chalukyas reigned Karnataka. Towards the close of the second century AD, after the death of 'Gauthamiputra Satkarni' the Satavahana Empire broke up into pieces and continued to rule the Andras until 'Ikshvakus' took over. The Pallavas had raised to power in the far south with Kanchi (present Kanchipuram) as capital some where in the 4th century. In the 6th century, Simhavishnu vanquished all his southern neighbors including the ruler of Ceylon and seized the country of Cholas. A great struggle between the Pallavas and their archenemy Chalukyas erupted during the time of Simhavishnu. The struggle continued for generations. By the first half of the 8th century, Chalukyas took over Kanchi. By the end of 9th century AD Aditya Chola defeated Aparajita Pallava and took possession of his kingdom. During the reign of Pallavas, Kanchi became a great center of Brahmanical and Buddhist learning. Many of the famous temples were built during this era. The Pallava artists from Kanchi might have helped to build great temples in Cambodia and Java. The Chalukyas rose to power in Karnata or the Canarese speaking country in the 6th century AD with Vatapi (present Badami) as capital. The real founder of the dynasty was Pulikesin I who performed 'aswamedha yaga' to access to power. His sons extended the empire in all directions.
Pulikesin II (609-642) consolidated his power in Maharastra and conquered nearly the whole of Deccan. By 753 AD, Vikramaditya II, the Chalukya king was overthrown by Dandidurga and laid foundation for a new empire called Rastrakutas. The Rastrakutas Empire extended from south Gujarat, Malva and Baghalkhand in the north to Tanjore to the south. In 973 Tailia II, a descendent from the early Chalukyas, overthrew the dynasty. By 850 AD, Cholas had risen to power and ruling the south Tamil Country from Tanjore. Under Rajaraja I (985-1018) and his son Rajendra Chola I (1018-1048) Cholas conquered the whole of Tamil Country. They went as far as Ganges and asserted their power over Ceylon, Nicobar Islands, parts of the Malay Peninsula and the Indian Archipelego. Rajendra defeated Manipala I of Bengal. He also vanquished Chalukyas at Musangi. The Chola Empire declined after Rajendra Chola Kulathunga. The Pandyas annexed the southern part of the empire. In the country between Godavari and the Ganges rose the empires of Kalinga and Orissa. Pandyas occupied the present Madurai and Thirunelveli District with part of old Travancore. They excelled in trade and learning. A Pandya king sent an emissary to the Roman Emperor Augustus in the first century BC. The Pandya kingdom rose to fame during the 13th century. Kafur conquered the kingdom in early 14th century. Vijayanagara Empire absorbed it after a brief period. In 1328 Hoysala Empire fell to Mohamed Bin Tughluq. After the withdrawal of Tughluq, Vijayanagar Empire and Bahmani Sultanate were founded in the south. Vijayanagar Empire: This kingdom of Hindu alliance was founded in 1336 with capital at Hampi to counter the Muslim power. Vijayanagar Empire grew to be the strongest and wealthiest Hindu kingdom for two centuries. Under the rule of Bukka I, almost all of south India was under its rule. Bahmani Sultanate: The Muslim Bahmani kingdom was founded in 1345 with capital at Gulbarga and later at Bidar north of the Vijayanagar Empire. By 15th century the Bahmani Sultanate was split up into five separate kingdoms with capitals Berar, Ahmednagar, Bijapur, Golconda and Ahmadabad. The feud between the neighbours stirred up many bloody battles inflicting defeats on each other. But by 1482 Vijayanagar Empire improved as a result of disintegration of Bahmani Sultanate. In 1520 king Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar conquered Bijapur. The empire reached its peak over the following years. But the decline also started with it. A number of uprisings divided the empire internally while the Muslim Sultanates formed a new alliance. In 1565 the Sultanate coalition defeated Vijayanagar army in Talikota. As a result, the power of the region was passed on to Muslim rulers or local Chieftains. But ultimately, Aurengaseb defeated Bahmani rulers and their kingdoms were annexed to the Mughal Empire. Delhi Sultanate Mohamed of Ghur's expedition in 1175 against Multan and subsequent invasion of Gujarat, Peshawar and Lahore and his victory over Rajputs in 1192 laid foundations of Muslim domination in India. Qtub-ud-din Aibak, his slave general annexed different parts of North India during the years followed. Qutub-ud-din Aibak: After the death of Mohamed of Ghur, Aibak declared himself as the Sultan of Delhi. He also occupied the throne of Gazni for forty years after defeating Yildiz. But the people drove him out owing to his excesses. This confined him to Delhi and was assassinated in 1210. Qutub-ud-din Aibak built Qutub Minar in Delhi, a landmark in history. Iltutmish: Aram Baksh succeeded him as Sultan Aram Shah. But Iltutmish of Ilbari deposed him and accented to the throne. He brought control over different rebellious parts of the Sultanate. Before his death in 1236, he captured Mundawar, Malwa and Ujjain and defeated Malik of Bengal, Yildiz and Qabacha. Rukh-ud-din Firoze Shah who succeeded Iltutmish was a misfit and was dethroned and killed in Nov. 1236. The Amirs and Nobles accepted Razzia, daughter of Iltutmish, to the throne. But being a woman she had a tough time and rebellious nobles put her to death in 1240. Muiz-ud-din Bahram and Ala-ud-din Masud are the rulers who succeeded Razzia. Both were regarded as worthless and incompetent. During their reign Mongols plundered Punjab. Nasir-ud-din Mahmud: By 1246, the Amirs and Maliks crowned Nasir-ud-din Mohamed, a younger son of Iltutmish. Since he spent most of his time in prayers, his minister, Giyas-ud-din Balban was running the country.
Giyas-ud-din Balban: After the death of Nasir-ud-din, Gias-ud-din accented to the throne. He strengthened the army and subdued rebellions. Balbans's strong army helped him to check the Mongol advances to India. He died in 1287 after a reign of 22 years. The rulers who succeeded Balban were weak and unworthy. In1290, Jalal-ud-din Firoz Shah deposed Muiz-ud-din Khaliqubad, grandson of Balban and established Khalji Dynasty. Jalal-ud-din Khalji was 70 when he became Sultan. He was a peace-loving sultan. During his reign ala-ud-din, his nephew and son-in-law marched into Devagiri and defeated Raja Ramachandradeva. Ala-ud-din returned with an enormous booty. The treacherous Ala-ud-din lured the Sultan into a trap and killed him. Ala-ud-din Khalji: In 1296, immediately after the murder of Sultan, Ala-ud-din proclaimed himself as the Sultan of Delhi. To safeguard his throne, he eliminated the supporters of former Sultan. Ala-ud-din fought with the Mongols and defeated them. He strengthened his army and took up military expeditions and annexed Gujarat, Ranthanbhor and Mewar. His passion for the beautiful queen Padmini lead to the siege of Chitor. When finally Chitor fell, the queen burned herself to death. Ala-ud-din conquered Deccan under the command of Malik Kafur. His expedition between 1307 and 1311 took him up to Cape-Comorin, the southern tip of India. Thus the whole of India was under the Sultanate of Delhi. Qutub-ud-din Mubarak: Ala-ud-din died in 1316. His son Qutub-ud-din Mubarak ruled India till 1320. In 1320, one of Khursarv's Parvari (low caste convert) associates stabbed him to death. After his death Khursrav ascended to the throne as Nassir-ud-din Khursrav Shah. His brief reign of four month was enough to alienate the Alai nobles who under the leadership of Ghasi Malik defeated and beheaded him in Delhi. Ghiaz-ud-din Tughluq: Since there were no male descendants for Ala-ud-din, The nobles persuaded Malik to sit on the throne under the name of Gias-ud-din Tughluq. He introduced many reforms on all walks of life and administration. He crushed the rebellions in Deccan and Bengal. In 1325 he died from the collapse of a wooden structure built by his son Jauna. Mohamed Bin Tughluq: After the death of Gias-ud-din, his son Jauna declared himself as the Sultan under the name of Mohamed Bin Tughluq. During his reign, the boundaries of Delhi Sultanate stretched from Peshwar in the north to Madurai in the south and Sind in the west to Assam in the east. Mohamed Bin Tughluq was a learned ruler but lacked practical judgement. His well-intentioned reforms created confusion and hardships. He shifted his capital to Devagiri, the center of his empire. But because of inadequate arrangements, the capital was moved back. He introduced token coins in copper and brass at par with silver and gold coins in value. Improper management led to counterfeiting and as a result, the token coins were withdrawn. He died in 1351. Feroz Shah Tughluq who succeeded Mohamed Bin Tughluq was a weak personality and could not contain the rebellions those broke out in the Sultanate. After the death of Feroz Tughluq, civil wars broke out in the Sultanate. During Nasar-ud-din Mohamed Tughluq's reign (1394-1412), the Mongol leader Timur invaded India and captured Delhi. Mohamed came back to Delhi when Timur returned after 15 years. In 1414, Khizi Khan Sayyid occupied the throne. The Lodis succeeded him. Ibrahim Lodi was the last ruler of Delhi. In 1526, Babur defeated him at the first battle of Panipat and established the rule of Mughuls in India ending the Sultanate of Delhi. Mughal Empire Babur: A descended on his father's side from Timur and on his mother's side from Chingiz Khan, Babur was the founder of Mughal Empire in India. He defeated Ibrahim Lodi in Panipat on April 1527 and occupied Delhi and Agra. He suppressed Afghans in 1527. The Afghans of Bengal and Bihar were brought to their knees in 1529. When he died on 26th Dec.1530, his kingdom spread across Oxus to Gorga and from Himalayas to Gwalior. Humayun: Three days after the death of Babur, his son Humayun ascended to the throne. He was a weak ruler and in-spite of earlier success in his expeditions against the Afghans and the ruler of Gujarat, Afghan Chief Sher Khan dethroned his in 1539 and placed himself in Delhi as Sher Shah. Humayun returned to Delhi after 15 years with the help of the ruler of Iran and recovered most of the territory he lost before his death in Jan.1556. Akbar The Great: Akbar was only 13 when he was declared 'Padsha'. In the 40 years that followed he used power and diplomacy to sub due his opponent and the Rajputs. By 1595 his empire spread from Himalayan to Narmada and from Hudukush to Brahmaputra.
Akbar was the greatest of all Mughals. He was a man of culture and wisdom with a sense of fairness. Unlike his predecessors he integrated Hindus into his empire and used them as advisers and administers. His deep interest in religious matters made him eventually to formulate a religion called 'Deen Ilahi', combining best parts of all religions he had studied. Jahangir: Akbar's son Salim succeeded him after his death as Emperor Jahangir. Despite many challenges, his empire remained more or less same as what Akbar had left behind. Jahangir preferred to spend most of his time in Kashmir. He died in 1627 while returning to Kashmir. Shahjahan: After the death of Jahangir, his son Shahjahan succeeded him and secured his position by deposing all possible contenders to the throne. Shahjahan ruled India from Agra. It is during his reign that many monuments of the Mughal Era were built. Aurangaseb: In 1658, after imprisoning his father Shahjahan, Aurangaseb accented to power. He devoted his resources to strengthen his military and expand his empire. Aurengaseb marched into Deccan and annexed Bijapur and Golconda. Like Mohamed Bin Tughluq, he shifted his capital to Aurangabad. He was an ardent follower of Islam. Levying heavy taxes to fund the military had generated dissatisfaction among the people. The Decline of Mughals: The Empire was facing challenges from the Marathas and the British. The inflated taxes and religious intolerance weakened the grip of Mughal Empire. The empire stared disintegrating with the death of Aurangaseb in 1707. Within three decades of Aurangaseb's death. The Mughal Empire was split into numerous independent or semi-independent states. Nadirshah of Iran sacked Delhi in 1739 and exposed the fragility of the power of Mughals. The empire rapidly shrank in extent being reduced only a small district around Delhi.Yet Mughal emperors ruled India until 1857.The imperial dynasty became extinct with Bahadur Shah II who was deported to Rangoon by the British on suspicion of assisting the sepoy mutineers. He died there in 1862.
The rise of the Maratha power played an important role in the second half of the 17 th century. In the middle Ages, the Marathas upheld the national cause under the Yadavas of Devagiri. But with the defeat of Ramachandradeva by Ala-ud-din Khalji, they lost their independence. But in the 17th century they were organized into a national state. Shivaji: Shivaji was the hero of the Maratha national movement. He was born in 1627 (or 1630) and his mother Jiji Bhai groomed him by infusing high and inspiring ideas of heroism, spirituality and chivalry into Shivaji's mind. In 1646 he captured the fortress of Torna. Since then he raided, sacked acquired and annexed many forts and territories. With cunning planning and shrewdness, he always outwitted his enemies and opponents. In 1674 Shivaji crowned he king at Rajgarh. He died on 14th April 1680 at the age of 53 (or 50). Shivaji, a born leader who could throw a spell over all who came in contact with him, elevated himself by his unusual bravery and diplomacy. He brought together the Maratha race that was scattered through many Deccani kingdoms. The Maratha nation that he built up defied the Mughal Empire during and after Aurangaseb's reign. It remained the dominant power in the 18 th century. The Maratha power competed with the English for supremacy in India until it was finally crushed in the time of Lord Hastings. The Europeans: India had commercial relations with the west from time immemorial. By 7th century AD, Arabs were dominating India's sea-borne trade. The geographical discoveries of the late 15th century produced far-reaching consequences on the trade relations of different countries. The Portuguese: The discovery of a new route to India by Vasco da Gama who landed in Calicut on the 17th of May 1498 brought the merchants of Portugal to India. Alfonso de Albuquerque came to India in 1503. He laid the foundation for Portuguese power in India. When he died in 1515, Portuguese were left as the strongest naval power in the west cost of India. A number of important settlements were gradually established near the sea by the successors of Albuquerque. These were Diu, Daman, Salsette, Bassein, Chaul and Bombay, Goa, San Thome near Madras, Hugli in Bengal and a major part of Ceylon. But they lost their authority over the places due to many reasons except Goa, Daman and Diu those they held until 1961. The Dutch: With a view to getting direct access to the spice markets in the Southeast Asia, the Dutch formed the Dutch East India Company in 1602. In 1605 they captured Amboyna from the
Portuguese. They conquered Jakarta in 1619 and captured Malacca in 1641. They got possession of the last of Portuguese settlements in Ceylon. Commercial interest drew Dutch to India as well. They established factories in Gujarat, Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and the Coromandal coast. But they confined themselves to Malay Archipelago while the English, their trade rivals, concentrated in India. The English: The completion of Drake's voyage around the world in 1580 and the victory over the Spanish Armada encouraged some English sea captains to undertake voyages to the eastern waters. A major step towards England's commercial prosperity was taken up on 31st December 1600 by giving the monopoly over eastern trades to The East India Company. They arrived early in the 17th century and established trading posts along the coasts. In 1668 Charles II, who got it from the Portuguese as part of the dowry of his wife Catherine of Braganza, at an annual rental of ten-Pound Sterling, transferred Bombay to the company. They have started factories in many places and many commercial treaties were signed with local rulers. Thus the British made their presence felt but entirely on commercial terms. The French: Though the desire for eastern traffic was displayed itself at a very early period, the French were the last to come to India. By 1668 the French established their first factory at Surat followed by another at Machilipatnam in 1669. In 1673 the French obtained a small village from the Muslim Governor of Valikondapuram and laid the foundation of Pondicherry. The European rivalry between the Dutch and the French adversely affected the French in India. They gradually lost their influence and abandoned their factories at Surat, Machilipatnam and Bantam. Later with turn of tide, they occupied Mauritius in 1721, Mahe on the Malabar Coast in 1725 and Kariakal in 1739. The British Raj: The rivalries developed among the European countries influenced the policies of their counter parts in India. They allied with the local rulers for consolidating their positions in India. Though initially commercial, they developed territorial and political ambitions and manipulated local rivalries and enmities to their advantages. The British were the ultimate winners in this political manoeuvre In the period between 1740 and 1765, they steadily increased their influence politically, militarily and commercially. They engaged the French in battles and ultimately defeated them. Their victory over the Nawab of Bengal in 1757, in the battle of Plassey established their supremacy in the east cost. In 1765 they concluded a treaty with Bengal where the entire management of administration should be left with a minister who would be nominated by the British and could not be dismissed without their consent. This practically kept the control of Administration in their hands while the Nawab remained merely a figurehead. They gradually extended their rule over the entire subcontinent either by direct annexation or acting as suzerain for local rulers. Unlike former rulers of India, the British continued its commercial activities monopolizing on all trades. India gave a major boost to the Industrial Revolution by being the provider of cheap raw material and capital. India was a large captive market for British Industry. By the middle of 19th century, the major part of the subcontinent was under direct British rule while many local rulers were retained as subsidiaries of the British Empire. This left them completely to the mercy of the Company administratively and militarily. By 1757 India became the British Empire achieved by unrestrained and unscrupulous methods employed by the British with the only intention to expand the Empire by any means. The Freedom Movement: The rapid expansion of the British Empire and the means employed to annex and expand, forced changes in the generations old, well-accustomed life style of Indians and resulted in commotion in different parts of the country. Many minor uprisings were recorded between 1816 and 1855. The last and most severe was the revolt of 1857 -1859 in which many grief-stricken princely rulers, landed aristocracy and peasantry rallied against the British The revolt was the out come of changes in political, socio economical, religious and military. The revolt shook up the mighty fabric of the British Empire to its very foundations. The empire was able to resolve the mutiny in 1859. Even though the revolt was not an organized National Movement or War of Independence, it exposed the weakness of British Empire and changed the political outlook in India. It also ended the East India Company rule in India as the British Crown took over. The construction of a vast railway network to facilitate transport by the British also brought the peoples of India in easy reach of each other and helped to spread the idea of Indian unity. As it
was impossible for a few foreigners to administer a vast country like India, the British engaged the local elite to help them. They set up an educational system to serve the purpose. But it also helped the Indians to familiarize with the intellectual and social values of the West. Ideas of democracy, individual freedom and equality gained momentum among Indian thinkers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Bankim Chandra and Vidyasagar. The leadership of freedom movement was passed on to this class and Indian National Congress was formed in 1885. Opposition to British rule began to increase at the turn of the century. The Indian National Congress began to push for a measure of participation in the Government of the country. An unpopular attempt to partition Bengal in 1905 resulted in mass demonstrations against it. Launching of the Swedeshi Movement brought the freedom movement to the common man by leaders like Bala Gangadhar Tilak and Aurabindo Ghose. But Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the most charismatic leader of the century, mobilized the people into an invincible force against the British in the freedom struggle. Mahatma Gandhi: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Porbander on October 2, 1869. Educated in London, he returned to India to practice law. In 1893 he went to South Africa on a job assignment. During the 20 years he was in South Africa, Gandhi struggled for the elementary rights for Indians. He preached passive resistance. He was jailed many times and in 1914 he was able to achieve many concessions from South African Government. After completing his contract in South Africa, Gandhi returned to India. Back in India, Gandhi became a leader in the struggle for home rule. He launched his movement of passive resistance against the British gaining millions of followers. A demonstration against Rowlett Acts, which gave sweeping powers to the colonial authorities, resulted in a massacre of Indians in Amritsar by British soldiers. When the British Government failed to amend the act, Gandhi proclaimed an organized campaign of non co-operation. People boycotted public offices, government agencies schools etc. His 'swaraj' movement advocated the boycott of British goods and revival of cottage industries. He lived a spiritual and ascetic life of prayers, fasting and meditation and advocated non-violence. Gandhi became the international symbol of free India. And people called him 'Mahatma'. In 1921 Indian National congress gave Gandhi complete executive authority including the power to nominate his successor. In 1922 he was again arrested and imprisoned. After his release in 1924, Gandhi withdrew from active politics and concentrated on communal unity. But he was again drawn in the main stream of freedom movement. In 1930 Gandhi proclaimed a new campaign calling on the Indian masses to refuse to pay tax for salt. In the campaign he marched to the sea with thousands of followers and made salt by evaporating seawater in defiance to the British. In 1931 he ceased the campaign after British heeded to his demands. During his campaigns he fasted for long periods several times and fast was an effective measure against the British. In 1934, Mahatma formerly resigned from politics being replaced as leader of Indian National Congress by Jawaharlal Nehru. He traveled throughout India preaching 'Ahimsa'. In 1935 British granted India limited home rule. In 1939 Gandhi again returned to active politics because of the pending Federation of Indian principalities with the rest of India. By 1944 the Indian struggle for independence reached its final stages. The British Government had agreed to independence and initiated a number of constitutional moves to affect the transfer of power. Because of various developments, partitioning of the country was inevitable to achieve freedom. Mahatma was against partitioning the country but he ultimately has to agree. After the partition, millions of people were forced to move to and from India and Pakistan and communal riots erupted. Mahatma pleaded to the people to live in communal harmony and fasted till the riots ceded. On January 30, 1948, as he was on his way to his evening prayer meeting, a Hindu fanatic, Nathuram Gods assassinated him. Mahatma Gandhi was the most remarkable and charismatic leader of the 20th century, perhaps in history. Modern India: India achieved independence on August 15, 1947 and adopted the system of parliamentary democracy. India also remained within the British Commonwealth Nations. India became a Republic on 26th January 1950. The Indian Constitution adopted safeguards to protect its entire people from all forms of discrimination on grounds of caste, creed, race, religion, or sex. It guarantees to all its Citizens freedom of speech and expression, the right to assemble peacefully, freedom of conscience and
worship, subject to general consideration of public security and morality. Unsociability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. Union: The President is the Head of State who is elected for five years by the members of an Electoral College consisting of the elected members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabhs and the Legislative Assemblies. There is also a Vice-President elected for five years by the members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Indian Parliament consists of two houses, the Houses of people known as the Lok Sabha and the Council of States known as Rajya Sabha. Lok Sabha has 543 elected members representing the whole country. Members are elected directly by the people through the universal adult franchise. The Lok Sabha elects its own Speaker and Deputy Speaker The Rajya Sabha has 238 representatives of states who are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of each State. Twelve members are nominated by the President on the ground of having special knowledge in literature, science etc. Vice-President is the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha. There is a Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advice the President. The President appoints the Prime Minister. Normally the Prime Minister will be the leader of the majority Party in the Lok Sabha. The President appoints other ministers on the advice of the Prime Minster. The Rajya Sabha is not subjected to dissolution. But one-third of the members will retire on expiration of every second year. The Lok Sabha unless dissolved will continue for five years. Both the Houses should meet at least twice in every year. Every legalization requires the approval of both Houses. The President's assent is required before a Bill becomes law. He can withhold his assent and return the bill with his suggestions. But if the Bill is passed again by both Houses the President cannot withhold his accent. Legislative Assembly: Members to the State Legislative Assembly or Vidhan Sabha are also chose by universal adult franchise. The Governor heads the State Assembly and is appointed by the President. The Chief Minister, the leader of the majority party, is the head of the State Government. The Governor appoints other Ministers on Chief Minister's recommendation. Elections are conducted under the supervision of the Election Commission, an autonomous body. An independent Judiciary is the guardian and interpreter of the Constitution. Supreme Court is the highest tribunal in the country while High Courts are for the States. The Civil Services execute Government policies fairly and freely. Service executives are selected on merit by annual entrance examinations those are open to all. Today: Since Independence India made considerable progress in agricultural productions and industrialization. India is now one of the top 10 industrial powers in the world. Under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru, the country followed a policy of non-alignment. India made long strides in development of space technology, computer science and many other scientific and industrial fields. India's cultural heritage dates back to 5000 years. Very few countries in the world has a social and religious structure which withstood invasions and persecution and yet kept its identity by being resilient enough to absorb, ignore or reject all attempts to radically change or destroy them. Indian culture is unique because of its diversity and variety in physical, religious, racial, linguistic and artistic fields. In India religion is a way of life being an integral part of Indian tradition. Many dances, theatrics and folklore are religious and based on Indian mythology and folk legends. One has to have background knowledge of Indian mythology to enjoy and appreciate the Indian Arts. Painting: Painting flourished as an art form, from the pre-historic age. The Neolithic man's drawings on the walls of his cave dwellings represent the oldest examples of Indian painting. Paintings on pots discovered from the Harappan Civilization (3000 BC), the cave paintings of Ajantha and Ellora using earth and vegetable dyes (I-V Century AD), wall paintings in the temple of Tanjavoor (I Century AD) and the Kalankari art forms in the Vidharba temple present the refinement in techniques and process.
Indian art is an art of social, political and religious influences, which changed with evolving civilizations in all areas of artistic expressions. It is one of the oldest and resilient cultures on earth. It had integrated indigenous and outside influences but kept a unique identity of its own. Like any other art form, painting is also revolving around gods, legends, folklore and nature. Theatre: Indian tradition of theatre is rich and evolved with the ancient rituals and seasons of the country. It is believed that Lord Brahma created Natyaveda, the fifth Veda on Natya (action) as a mode of recreation for all class of the society by incorporating words from Rig Veda, music from Sama Veda, action from Yajur Veda and emotion from Adharva Veda. Sage Bharata who perfected the dramatic art and wrote Natya Shastra, a great comprehensive work on the science and technique of Indian drama, dance and music enacted the first drama to the audience of 'Devas'. Through the medium of drama, common man was presented with the Ithihasas, Puranas, and Mythology. Dance has played an important role in the birth of theatre. According to Natya Shastra, dancing and dramatic representation has an intimate relationship. Drama gradually moved from defecting mythological themes to social issues of today. Cinema and serials on the mini screen are nothing but offshoots of this age-old culture. Dance: Indian dancing is a way of communication using the body as a medium. The expressions of dances are perhaps most developed, yet easily understood. Indian dance is a blend of Nirtta (the rythemic movement of the body without any expression of emotion), Nirtya (the combination of rhythm with expression through eyes, hands and facial movements) and Natya (the dramatic element). Dance is performed with Abhinaya (expression), rasa (emotion) and mudras (hand formations). All Dances are structured around 'nava rasas’ (the common emotions of happiness, anger, disgust, fear, sorrow, courage, compassion, wonder and serenity) with limited adaptation to local requirements. Most Indian dances take their themes from Indian mythology and folk legends. There are a number of classical dance forms such as 'Bharatnatyam', 'Kathak', 'Kathakali', 'Kuchipudi', 'Manipuri', 'Mohiniyattam' and 'Odissi' each representing the culture of a particular region of the country. Apart from classical dances, India is also rich in folk idioms. Chauu dance of Bihar, Garba of Gujarat, Bangra of Punjab and Banjara of Andra Pradesh are a few of them. FOLKLORE: No ancient civilization can boast of literature without folklore. It was essentially oral in nature and there is no form or technique that can either create or render folklore. Elders passed on this art form orally to the younger generations. Folk songs are simple in terms of verses and music unlike the classical music, which follows ragas, tales and shrutis. There are many kinds of folklore depending on its content such as festival songs, work songs, marriage songs etc. A suitable dance form usually accompanies festival and religious songs. MUSIC: As in dance, the nine emotions are basic to the Indian music. The 'raga' the basic musical mode is rendering the seven musical notes. 'Tale' binds the music altogether. With the help of tale and shrutis the musician can create numerous variations in feelings. Basically there are two dominant styles of music in India; the South Indian Carnatic music and the North Indian Hindustani music. Through the styles are distinct, many features and underlying philosophy are the same. Foreign influences due to invasions are more evident in Hindustani music. Inventions of various musical instruments are attributed to the gods and goddesses. Popular musical instruments such as Sitar, Veena, Tabala, and Shehnai etc are the contribution of India to the world. Literature: The first known written work of Indian literature is the 'Ramayana', in Sanskrit, by Sage 'Valmiki' around 4th century BC. The story of 'Rama', an incarnation of Lord 'Vishnu' was composed in 24000 verses. Ramayana, a great work of literature, is the most sacred and holy of all books written in Sanskrit next only to 'Bhagvat Gita'. 'Mahabharatha' is the largest literary work in the world. It consists of 100,000 verses and Sage 'Vyasa', often referred as the Homer of India, composed it. Mahabharatha is a glorious work of high literary and philosophical value. It is a poem, an epic and a legend believed to have been written around 4th century BC. 'Panchathantra' (five strategies) is a book of edifying tales. It contains five books each teaching a strategy, through fairy tales, to be applied to tackle a situation. 'Vishnu Sharma' (100-500 AD) wrote it and its contents did had an influence on the West Asia and medieval Europe.
One of the greatest poets of all times, 'Kalidasa' (4 th century AD) had enriched Indian literature with his works of 'Abhijnanasakuntalam', 'Meghadootham', 'Raghuvamsam' and 'Kumarasambhavam'. All of his works is still a model for 'Mahakavyas'. There were many writers like 'Aswa Gosha' (Budhacharitha, II century AD), 'Vishaka Datta' (Political plays, VI century), 'Bana Bhatta' (Autobiographical elements, VII century) and 'Kalhana' (History, XI century) those are only a few who contributed to the development of Indian literature. Every Indian language has its share of enrichment in Indian literature. Great works are created in every field and to mention them and their authors will be exhaustive. The earliest literary works were revolving mainly around mythology and religion but gradually started to deal directly with social, political and economical themes. India has produced a number of literary marvels in English as well. 'Rabindranath Tagore' won Nobel Prize for his collection of popular poems, 'Gitanjali'. Raja Rao received the prestigious Nested International Prize for literature. Vikram Seth who won the Commonwealth Writer's prize, published the first Indian English novel in verse (Golden Gate). Shashi Tharoor is another writer who won the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Amitav Gosh has won the Prix Medici Estranger, a top French literary award, and the Sahitya Academy Award. Arundhathi Roy won the Booker Prize for her first novel, The God of small things, for the year 1997. R. K. Narayan (fiction), Kamala Das (poetry), Mulk Raj Anand (social realism), Kushwant Singh (fiction) and A. K. Ramanujan (poetry) are only a few of the other literary giants in English. Cuisine: Indian cuisine is diversified in its varieties similar to its cultures, races and regions. Thousands of variations of dishes are prepared in the different parts of the country everyday. The essence of Indian cooking lies in the aroma of the spices, which are blended, together and added to enhance the basic flavor of a particular dish. Spices are always freshly ground to the required combination called Massalas. Many of these spices are noted for their medicinal values and are also used as appetizers and digestive. The ingredients for the masala vary from region to region. Besides spices, ghee and curd are other two main ingredients in Indian cooking. Even though India is known for the Hindu vegetarian tradition, many Hindus eat meat now. Meat dishes are more common in North India while more vegetables are eaten in the South. The Muslim tradition is more evident in the cooking of meats. Mughlai foods comprising of kababs, kurmas, koftas, biriyanis, rogan josh, tandoori chicken, tandoori rotis etc are contribution of Muslims. Rice is the staple food of the South while in the North it is supplemented or substituted by pooris, chapattis or Nan. Dhal(lentil soup) and Dhai (curd) are common throughout India. Vegetable dishes are prepared based on the main dish with which they are served. Rice is served with vegetable curries, vegetable side dishes and curd. As India has a very long coastal area, dishes prepared with fish are also popular. Verities of sweets representing the style and taste of different regions are available in India. The main ingredients of the sweets and deserts are sugar, milk flour and ghee. Dress: The colorful and diversified clothing of Indians from the different parts of the country shall be very much attractive to a foreign traveler in India. Like in any other country, the fashion revolves around the women whose attire is colorful and distinctive in styles. Women folk in India wear 'sari', a 5 - 6 meter long rectangular piece of cloth. The style, color and texture of the cloth vary and saris are made from cotton, silk or one of the numerous manmade synthetic yarns. The sari was in India from time immemorial and is considered as the national dress of Indian woman. Sari is worn with 'chili' (short tight blouse). Chili fits tight to the body. When worn with proper style and color combination, the dress is amazingly attractive and fashionable. Women in Rajastan wear traditional colorful and glass embedded cholis with a form of pleated skirts known as 'lehanga'. They cover their head with a long cotton cloth called 'duppatta'. 'Salwar kamees' which evolved as a comfortable and respectable garment for the women in Kashmir and Punjab is now immensely popular throughout the country. 'Salwars' are pyjamas tight at the waist and angles. 'Kameez' is a loose tunic worn over salwar. A 'churidar' is similar to salwar except that it is tighter fitting at hips, thighs and angles. Generally the men wore more conventional western cloths like shirts and trousers. But men at the villages are still fond of more comfortable and traditional dresses like 'kurtas', 'lungis', 'dothis' and pyjamas.
The dress style has many variations depending on the regions and religions. It is evident on the apparels worn by the Indians. PEOPLE: The people of India are very friendly and hospitable. It will not take long before you find yourself in conversation with them. The fact that many Indians speak English will makes it easy to communicate. The people are hard working, healthy and tolerant. The peoples of India can be grouped into four broad classes. The class of peoples, who are tall, fair skinned and long nosed that speaks languages derived from Sanskrit. They are generally referred as Aryans or Indo-Aryans. Majority of the higher class Hindus belong to this class. The peoples living in the Southern part of the peninsula whose features are somewhat different from those of the first group and speak languages not originated from Sanskrit and generally known as the Dravidians form the second class. The third class is the primitive tribes living in hills and jungles believed to be the successors of the Negritude races from the Neolithic age. They are short, dark skinned and snub nosed. Their languages are different from the first two classes. And the fourth class of peoples has strong Mongolian features. They are beardless and yellow in color with snubbed noses, flat faces and prominent cheekbones. They mostly live on the Himalayan regions and the mountains of Assam. These peoples are also regarded as the dissidents of the Mongoloids from Neolithic Age RELIGIONS: India is a secular democracy and is the home to Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and many other religions. In India religion is a way of life, an integral part of one's day to day activities, influencing every aspect of life. Common practices through ages had influenced most faiths and all communities share many festivals that mark each year with music, dance, and feasting. Each religion even has its own pilgrimage sites, legends and heroes. Hinduism, one of the world's oldest faiths, originated in India and has the largest followers. Buddhism was founded in about 500 BC. Janis, another religion originated in India, has about 5 million followers in India. Islam arrived in India with Muslim traders and later with Muslim invaders and Mughuls. The Sikhs are another religion originated in India and there are over 18 million Sikhs predominantly in Punjab. Christianity was brought to India by the apostle ST. Thomas when he landed in Southern India. Today there are 30 million Christians in India. HINDUISM: Hinduism is, perhaps, the only religion that is so diversified in its theoretical premises and practical expressions. Like other religions, one cannot trace this religion to a specific founder or a particular holy book as its scriptural guide. The 'Vedas', 'Upanishads', and the 'Bhagvath Gita' can all be described as the sacred text of Hindus. Unlike other faiths, one may worship one or other deity or believe in the 'supreme spirit' and yet can be a good Hindu. There are numerous gods and goddesses worshiped by Hindus all over India. But the fundamental to Hinduism is the concept of trinity; the trinity of 'Brahma' (the Creator), 'Vishnu' (the Preserver) and 'Shiva' (the Destroyer). Brahma is the creator of life and the universe. Vishnu guides the cycle of life and protects the world. Shiva destroys all evil and looks after devotees. There are festivals and ceremonies associated with gods, goddesses and other forms of worship. The popular Hindu festivals are 'Deepavali', 'Holi', 'Dussehra', 'Ganesh Chathurthi', 'Pongal', 'Janamastami', and 'Shiv Rathri'. Islam: In the eighth century A.D, Arab traders brought Islam into India. Unlike Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, those emerged from Hinduism - the concept, customs and religious practices of Islam are unique. It professed universal brotherhood and submission only to 'Allah' - the God Almighty. Muslim Invaders in the 12th century and Mughals in the 16th and 17th centuries helped Islam to spread in India. The mystics of Islam, the Sufi Saints, helped to spread the message of peace and universal love. Now over 12% of the population practices Islam. Enid Milan, Milad-e-Sherif etc. are celebrated Muslim festivals in India. Buddhism: Buddhism, an offshoot of Hinduism originated in the 5th century. Buddhism preached non-violence to all living creatures, tolerance and self-discipline. The principles of Buddhism won wide acceptance owing to its simplicity and adaptation of sermons to local languages. Buddha's
teachings enlightened millions of people in the Far East and the South East Asia. The influence of the faith decreased gradually and at present there are about 7 million followers in India. Jainism: Jainism was a contemporary faith of Buddhism. Mahavira preached the Jain philosophy around same time of Buddhism. Jainism rose against the undesirable practices prevalent in Hinduism at that time. It preaches for the renunciation of worldly desires and self-conquest to perfect wisdom. It focuses on the purification of the souls by right conduct, right faith and right knowledge. The faith also advocates non-violence. Today Jainism has a following of more than 3 million in India. Sikhism: Guru Nanak founded the Sikh religion in the 16 th century. Born as a Hindu, he was an advocate of pure monotheistic doctrine of the Upanishads. He spent his entire life preaching his gospel of universal tolerances based on all that was good in Hinduism and Islam. While advocating a middle path, Guru Nanak exhorted his followers to discard hypocrisy, selfishness and falsehood. On Baisakhi day of 1699 at Ananthpur, Guru Govind created a new brotherhood called Khalsa (Pure Ones). Sikhism advocates monotheism, denounces caste system and believes in equality of all. Christianity: It is believed that Christianity reached India when St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ arrived and spent a few years in South India. Others believe that it was St. Bartholomew who was the first Christian missionary to arrive in India. However, history indicates that Christian missionary activities started with St. Francis Xavier in 1544 followed by many missionaries from different countries. Much of the modern influences in the Indian society can be attributed to Christianity. Christian missionaries helped to build schools and colleges all over India and spread the message of faith and goodwill in the country. Languages: India's original 14 states were formed mainly on language barriers. Indian languages have different origins. The languages evolved from the Indo-European group of languages are known as Indic languages. Gujarat, Marathi, Punjabi etc belong to this group. The South Indian languages, which are distinctly different from the Indic languages and include Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu etc. are known as the Dravidian group. Hindi is the official language of India. But English is widely spoken and used. Even though there are 1600 dialects in India, the main languages beside Hindi and English are Assamese, Bengali, Gujarat, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. India Flora & Fauna: India has a very rich flora and fauna . It is estimated that there are over 500 species of mammals, 200 plus species of birds and about 30,000 species of insects. In addition to the above, there are hundreds of species of fish and reptiles. Indian wild life comprises of the Asian elephant, the only lions outside Africa, the Royal Bengal Tiger, single horned Indian rhino, the wild buffalo (Indian Bison) many leopards and smaller cat species, large variety of deer, monkeys and wild goats. The reptile population includes a wide range of snakes, lizards and crocodiles. Birds range from the colorful peacocks and parrots to large stock of migrant water birds. Law protects much of the fauna. To protect wild life, India had setup 66 National Parks, 333 wild life Sanctuaries and 35 zoological gardens in the country. Indian flora has a great range of varieties from the coniferous to the ever green, from scrubs to deciduous forests and thick tropical jungles to cool temperate woods. The tropical forests in east are in contrast to the pine and coniferous woodland of the western Himalayas. The Himalayan foothills are dense with deciduous trees and shrubs, bamboos, fern and grass. The genetic plain, the Deccan plateau of volcanic ancestry, and the dense luxuriant forests of the Western Ghats all provide fascinating variations in habitats.
Agra: “We have been walking up a long wide avenue with arcades of shops on either side and tide of wall people in between. Next we passed through and ancient, massive gate, and suddenly it was there before us – The Taj mahal – to me the most beautiful and romantic building in the whole world.” “ Never before have I been so overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of a structure as to get goose bumps just looking at it.” Known, to the world as Agra the city of Taj Mahal, Agra has its roots, perhaps, dating back to the time of Mahabaratha. Agra is situated on the west bank of River Yamuna, 204 km south of Delhi.
The old part of the town, north of the fort, is where the main market place is. The modern township is on the south. Agra has a magnificent fort and many other monuments from the Mughul era, not to mention the Taj Mahal, which are major attractions to the tourists. History In 1475 Raja Singh Badal laid foundation for the city of Agra. Sikander Lodi made Agra his capital in 1501. The city rose to its magnificence during the reign of Mughuls, during 16th -17th century. Babar and Humayun started building the present Agra. Akbar shifted his capital to Agra in 1599 and ruled India from there till his death in 1605. Agra reached its zenith of prosperity during the reign of Shahjahan who built Jama masjid, most of the palaces and buildings inside Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal. It was the capital of Mughul Empire until the capital was shifted to Red Fort, Delhi, in 1648. In1761 Agra fell to Jats who did much of the damages to the city, even going so far as to plunder Taj. The Marathas came in 1770 and Agra went through several changes before British took over in 1903. The British merged Agra and Avadh to form United Province. In the post independent India the united province was re-named Uttar Pradesh. How to Reach Agra is connected to Delhi and neighboring cities by air, rail and road. By Air: It is only 30 minutes' hop from Delhi. The 'Kheria' airport is only 6km away from the city center. Taxis and autorikshas are available in large numbers at the airport. By Rail: Agra's railway station is Agra Cantonment. There are excellent train services from New Delhi. Shatabdi Express, Taj Express and Inter-city Express from Delhi take 2-3 hours to reach Agra. Other Mail and Express trains are also available from other states. By Road: 'Idgah' is the main bus terminal in Agra. Most of the buses leave Agra from here. Many National Highways connect Agra to all major Indian cities. Express and air-conditioned bus services are available from Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, Gwalior and Jhansi. Buses are less expensive in comparison with train and air services. Rest houses and catering facilities are available enroute of journey. Hotels & Restaurants Hotels and restaurants to cater everyone's budget and taste are available in Agra ranging from the cheapest (Rs.75-300) and standard (Rs.600-2, 400) to the most luxurious (Rs. 22,000). Most of the cheaper hotels are in the crowded part of Taj Ganj and Sadar. The star hotels are on the open south side of Taj. There are tourist bungalows and private accommodations available at reasonable rates. Many reasonably priced and clean tourist restaurants are available in Taj Ganj and Sadar. Continental, Indian, Mughulai and Chinese dishes are served in many of them. For those who are looking for class, restaurants of the star hotels are always there. All hotels and restaurants are within 10km from airport or railway station. City Tour: Agra Fort: Emperor Akbar built the fort in 1565 AD as a military establishment. The fort wall is 2.5km long and 20 ft. high surrounded by a 10m wide moat. Though Akbar built the fort, Emperor Shahjahan made many additions to it. Amar Singh gate towards the south is the only entrance to the fort and many buildings inside the fort are closed to public. Places of interest inside the fort are: Diwan-I-Am: Shahjahan built this public audience hall in 1628 where the Emperor heard the petitions of the public. The throne room with the inlaid carvings and panels of marble with floral motifs indicate a distinct Shajahan style. Moti Masjid: Shahjahan built the Moti masjid (Pearl Mosque) between 1646 and 1653. This marble mosque is one of the stunningly beautiful mosques in India. Diwan-I-Khas: Shahjahan built this hall of private audience where he received head of states and other important dignitaries. The famous peacock throne was kept in this hall before being moved to Delhi by Aurangazeb. Jehangir's Palace: Akbar built this palace for his favorite son Jehangir. This is the largest private residence in the fort. The palace has a blend of Hindu and central Asian architectural styles. Musamman Burj: Also known as Saman Burj, this octagonal two-storied tower was also built by Shahjahan for his queen Mumtaz Mahal. In this tower Shahjahan spent his last seven years as a prisoner until he died in 1666. Other important places to see inside the fort are: Hammam-i-Shahi (Royal Bath) Nagina Masjid (Gem Mosque)
Zanana Meena Bazar (Ladie’s Market for Mughul ladies) Khas Mahal (Emperor's sleeping chamber) Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace) Shahjahani Mahal (Shahjahan's Palace) Akbari Mahal (Akbar's Palace) The Taj Mahal: Emperor Shahjahan built Taj Mahal as the final resting-place for his beloved Queen Mumtaz Mahal. Designed by Persian architect Ustad Isa, the magnificent memorial of pure white marble took 22 years to complete. A total of 20,000 people worked on this glorious monument. Experts were brought in even from Europe. The Taj is amazingly graceful from any angle. But its close-up is even better. The Taj in the moonlight is the most bewitching experience. Chini ka Rauza: Situated about one km north of Itimad-ud-Daula, this square tomb surmounted by a single huge dome is the mausoleum of Afzal Khan, a poet and a high ranking officer in the court of Shahjahan. The exterior of the tomb is covered with brightly colored enameled tiles. Ram Bagh: Emperor Babur laid out this earliest Mughal Gardens in 1526AD. The garden is located about 4km north of Itimad-ud-Daula. It is believed that Babur was temporarily buried here before laid to rest at Kabul in Afghanistan. Itmad-ud-Daula: Empress Noor Jahan built this mausoleum in memory of her father Mirza Giazud-din Beg who was the chief minister of Emperor Jehangir. This striking marble structure is very similar to the tomb of Jehangir she built near Lahore. Perhaps this was the forerunner of the Taj Mahal. Situated on the opposite bank of River Yamuna, this was the first Mughal structure built totally from marble with extensive use of pietra dura. Jama Masjid: Shahjahan built this mosque in 1648. An inscription over the main gate indicates that the mosque was built in the name of Jahanara, the daughter of Shahjahan who was imprisoned by Aurangazeb with Shahjahan. Though there are no minarets, the sandstone domes has striking marble patterns. Mathura: Mathura on the banks of River Yamuna is the birthplace of Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Mathura has been a sacred pilgrimage censure for many centuries. The government museum with a vast collection of superb sculptures, terracotta images, coins and bronze objects those date back between 5th century BC and 12th century AD are worth probing through. Fatehpur Sikri: 37km from the city of Agra is this ghost city that was once the capital of Mughal India. Akbar built the city between 1571 and 1585. But he was forced to abandon the capital because of water shortage and he shifted the capital to Lahore for a brief period. Now about 30,000 people inhabit this deserted capital. Thanks to the archeological department of India, the city is well preserved as it was built. The city is a fine example of culmination of Mughal and Hindu architecture. Any visitor to Agra must have a go at Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri mosque was said to be built in lines of the holy mosque in Mecca. Entrance to the mosque is through the Buland Darwaza that is 54m high. To the north of the mosque is the mausoleum of Saleem Chtisti, the Sufi saint who blessed Akbar to have a male offspring. Panch mahal, Diwan-I-Am, Diwan-I-Khas etc. are the other places of interest to see in Fatehpur Sikri. Sikendra: Akbar the great, the greatest of all Mughal emperors is laid to rest in the midst of a large garden about 10km away from Agra. This structure has perfect blending of Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Jain motifs. This place has a row of beautiful arches and doorways those make it a photographer's delight. Akbar started building his Mausoleum and Jahangir, his son, completed it. Jahangir modified the structure that contributed to the distortion of the original architectural design. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary:(Keoladeo Ghana National Park) 57km from Agra, this bird sanctuary is situated on the Delhi-Jaipur Highway. Bharatpur is known as one of the finest water bird sanctuaries in the world. It is spread over 40 sq.km of swampy and light wooded terrain. The major attraction is the migrating Siberian Cranes in the winter months. Accommodation is available at the forest lodge within the sanctuary or at several hotels and motels. Travel Information
Festivals: Agra celebrates Muslim festivals such as Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha and Muharrum with congregational prayers. Agra is also popular for its Id Melas and the colourful Tazias taken out on Muharram. Diwali, the festival of light, is also popularly celebrated here. The Taj Mahotsav festival is held in Shilpgram about 1km from the eastern gate of taj. It is held in an open-air emporium. The festival features live performance of music and dance in various styles by popular artists. The festival is held in February. Other national festivals are also celebrated in Agra like any other region of the country.
Bangalore: the fifth largest city in India is the capital of Karnataka. The presence of many parks and botanical gardens gave the name of ' Garden city ' to Bangalore. Any tourist can start his tour from Bangalore with its ancient forts, temples, gardens and shopping. All important tourist attraction in Karnataka can be reached with in a day's journey from Bangalore. History The modern city of Bangalore ('Bengaluru') was founded by Kempe Gowda, the Vijayanagar Chieftain of Yelahanga, over 400years ago. But ancient inscriptions pointing to the existence of a village called 'Bengaluru' prior to the 10th century AD. Kempe Gowda built a mud fort in his city with 8 gates, which lent their names to different areas inside the fort. Inside the fortress walls, the city grew into a commercial haven divided into localities ('Pet') where individual trades dominated each area. To this day these areas bear their old names such as Chickpet (little town), Dodda pet (big town), Taragupet (grain market), Halipet (cotton market) etc. Kempe Gowda also built several temples including Gavi Gangeswara Temple at Gavipuram and the Bull temple at Basavanagudi. In 1687 the Moghuls captured Bangalore from the Sultan of Bijapur and gave it on lease and later sold to King Chikkadevaraya Wodiyar of Mysore. In 1761 Hyderali rebuilt the fort with stone. It was the stronghold of Hyderali and Tipu Sultan. In 1807 the British shifted their cantonment from Srirangapatnam to Bangalore. The 19th century saw Bangalore growing into an administrative center and a prime residential area. Mysore State was acceded to the Indian Union in 1947 with Bangalore as its capital. In 1973 Mysore State was renamed Karnataka. How to Reach: Bangalore is accessible by air, rail and road from every important city and other states in India. By Air: Regular flights operate from Bangalore to Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Panaji, and Kochi etc. Booking offices of all international airlines are located in Bangalore. The airport is 6km from the city center. By Rail: Bangalore is connected to all major Indian cities by rail. Several super fast trains such as Shatabhi, Bridavan, and Lalbagh express connect Bangalore to Chennai; The City Railway Station is the main terminal in Bangalore. By Road: Major National Highways connects Bangalore to Chennai and Mumbai Other cities and towns of the state and neighboring states are also connected by road. The Main bus terminal in the city is opposite City Railway Station. Hotels: Bangalore being an important tourist and growing business center, has an expanding list of hotels ranging from the exclusive to the very ordinary. Hotels to cater everybody’s taste and vim’s are available. Many restaurants and fast food chains are also available in different cadre. The Fort: Kempe Gowda built the original mud structure in 1537. In 1761 Hyder Ali rebuilt the fort in stone. It was the strong hold of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan and witnessed several fierce battles. Built in an oval shape, a fine example of 18th century Indian military architecture, the fort measures 730m (N-S) by 550m(E-W). Tipu's Summer Palace: The construction of the palace began by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan completed it in 1791. It is one of several beautiful palaces they built all over the state. Tipu Sultan used it as his summer residence and named it Tashk-e-Jannat meaning the envy of heaven. Constructed mainly of wood, its intricately sculptured arches and minarets are worth perusing. The walls and ceilings are covered with paintings though faded through the centuries. Lal Bagh Spread over 240 acres of flowering glory, Lal Bagh has rare collection of tropical and sub-tropical trees, plants and herbs to quench the thirst of search for scenic beauty by both layman and horticulturist. Hyder Ali was the force behind laying out the park in 17 th century. But
Tipu Sultan was responsible for enriching the vast collection by importing several specimens from Afghanistan, France and Persia. Lal Bagh is artistically landscaped with expansive lush lawns, flowerbeds, lotus pools and fountains. In 1840, Lal Bagh had a magnificent glass house built in line of London's Crystal Palace. January and August are the best time to visit to see the garden bursting with full bloom. Bugle Rock: The name came to the rock because of Kempe Gowda's watchtower that stands on it used to warn the people of the city to the advent of intruders by a bugle call. The huge rock, a rare phenomenon, is 3000 million years old and had attracted world geological interests. The rock is situated adjacent to Lal Bagh. Cubbon Park: In 1864 Sir Richard Shankey, the chief engineer of Mysore, laid out the Cubbon Park. The park was named after the longest serving Commissioner of Bangalore - Sir Mark Cubbon. A lush grassy expanse with flowerbeds, shady bowers and flowering trees, Cubbon Park is a haven for thousands of strollers and breeze seekers. Attara Kacheri: A two-storied building of brick and stone painted in red, Attara Kacheri was built in 1867 to house the secretariat. Attara Kacheri literally meaning 'Eighteen Courts', today houses the High Court and several lower courts of Karnataka. Bangalore Palace: Set in the middle of the greenery of a sprawling garden is the Maharaja's Bangalore Palace. Constructed in 1887 in lines of Medieval Castles of England and Normandy, Bangalore Palace resembles the Windsor castle. Vidhan Soudha: The granite building towering over Cubbon park houses the Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly. Built in a Neo-Dravidian style, this is one of India's most magnificent public buildings. On Sunday evenings when floodlit, it presents a breathtaking picture. The building has a total plinth area of over 500,000 sq. ft spread through four stories. Gangadhareswara Cave Temple: Situated in Gavipuram and dedicated to Lord Shiva, the remarkable feature of the temple is the set of four monolithic pillars bearing the Saivite emblem of 'trisul', 'damara', 'suryapana' and 'chandrapana'. The temple has a rare idol of 'Agni', the god of fire. On Makara Sankranti day, the rays of the setting sun glide under a stone arch, through window, between the hones of the Nandi to finally touch the 'Sivalinga' between 5.00PM and 6.00PM - a unique feature. Venkataramanaswamy Temple: Maharaja Chikka Devaraya Wodiyar built this 300 years old temple, which displays some fine aspects of Dravidian temple art. The temple is situated near the palace of Tipu Sultan. Bull temple: The temple built by Kempe Gowda, a typical example of the Dravidian-style temple, is situated in Basavanagudi. The temple has a huge monolithic bull 4.5m tall and 6m long. It is believed that the source of the river Vishwa Bharathi originates from the feet of the Nandi. St. Mary's Basilica It is believed that Abbe Dubois, a French missionary built the church in 1882. It is the only grand Gothic style basilica in the state. It has an impressive tower and typically Gothic pointed arches. The church is situated in Russell Market Square and has stained glass windows from Paris. Jumma Masjid: This oldest mosque in the city, earlier known as Sangian Jamia Masjid, is in the Old Poor House Road. A 'Killedar' built the mosque during the Mughal conquest of the south. The mosque stands high with its raised prayer hall adorned with granite pillars. Government Museum: An 1877 building with splendid Corinthian columns, the museum houses sections on natural history, geology, art, sculpture and numismatics. Some of the displays date back over 500- years to early Indian civilization of Mohenjedaro. The museum has rare finds from Neolithic period, old South Indian jeweler and the exhibits associated with Tipu Sultan's unceasing fight against the British. Chitrakala Parishat: It is a treasure house of Karnataka's classical art and has a collection of rare traditional paintings and thousands of leather puppets those are used mainly in folklore. The paintings have retained their colour in spite of their age. Gandhi Bhavan: Situated in Kumara Kripa Road, Gandhi Bhavan gives an introduction to the Gandhian way of life through books, symposia, books and lectures. The life of Gandhi is displayed in photographs. Photostat copies of his letters displayed, to several personalities are interesting to read.
Usoor Lake: Located in the old cantonment area, it was a place of prominence in the early years of last century. Extended over an area of 125 acres, the lake was constructed in the 2nd century by Kempe Gowda II. It is a major tourist attraction and has a boat club too. Other places of interest: Aquarium, Bal Bhavan, Nehru Planetarium, Karnataka folk Museum, St. Mark's cathedral, Jami Masjid etc. are worth seeing. Around the City Mysore: Known, as the city of silks, sandalwood and palaces, Mysore is a popular tourist centre with a very comfortable climate. Follow the link for more information. Banerghetta National Park: About 20km from Bangalore in the densely forested hilly area where wild animals like bison, elephant, lion, panther etc. roam freely. It has a crocodile farm, a serpentarium, a pet’s corner, a deer pen and a prehistoric animal park. Safari vans are available for the visitors to tour the park to view the animals at close quarters. The park is open everyday from 900hrs to 1700hrs except on Tuesdays. Ramohally: Ramohally is famous for the 400-year-old Baniyan Tree spread over four acres of land. The place is 20km from Bangalore in the Bangalore - Mysore road. Nandi Hills: Located 60km from Bangalore, a range of craggy hills, It is a popular health resort of today. It was also the place where assorted royalty retired to escape the din of battle and heat of summer. Somanathpur: The abode of Prassanna Chennakeswara Temple, one of the three famous Hoysala temples, Somanathpur is 137km from Bangalore. The temple has a star shaped grand plan with triple shrine. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple has idols of Lord Kesava (main shrine), Lord Janardhana (northern shrine) and Lord Venugopala (southern shrine). Sivaganga: Often popularly referred, as 'Dakshina Kasi' (Southern Varanasi) Sivaganga is a pilgrim centre of great importance. The temples dedicated to Gangadhareswara and Hanna Devi are located on top of a 4600ft hill whose silhouette looks like the Nandi Bull from the east; elephant headed Lord Ganesh from the west, a Sivalinga from the south and a cobra with spread out hood from the north. Muthyala Maduvu (Pearl Valley): A popular picnic spot with a 300 feet high waterfall Pearl Valley is 44km from Bangalore. Sravanabelagola: An unspoiled township between the Indragiri hills and Chandragiri hills, Sravanabelagola is a great Jain Centre. It is 160km from Bangalore. Thousands of pilgrims flock to see the gigantic statue of Jain Saint, Lord Gomateswara also known as Bahubali. The statue was anointed in 981 AD. Carved from a single block of stone, the statue stands 17m tall and is visible from 30km away. It is one of the largest monolithic statutes in the world. There are several Jain temples and monasteries on the Chandragiri Hills those are worth visiting.
Madras: A city of Contrasts and diversities, Chennai is the forth-largest city in India. Known world wide as Madras until recently, the city was renamed Chennai, evolved from the age-old name, Chennapattinam. Chennai is a coastal city with the second largest beach in the world. The climate is hot and humid. But the breeze blowing from the sea makes the climate bearable. In the summer the temperature reaches up to 42 degree C (month of May). The winter (Dec.- Feb.) is slightly less hot than the summer. Mansoon falls in Sept. - Nov. Chennai is the Capital of Tamil Nadu. History: Chennaipattinam was a popular trading center for spices and clothes for more than 2000 years. Portuguese and Dutch arrived in the 16th century followed by the British and French. In 1639 the British East India Company established a settlement in the fishing village of Madraspattnam that they leased from the local Nayaks. In Madraspattnam they started construction of Fort St. George. George Town grew in the area of fort and neighboring villages ultimately becoming the oldest Municipality of India in 1668. During the 17th and 18th centuries Europeans competed for supremacy in India and Briton became the ultimate gainer. Under the command of Robert Clive, British launched a campaign against French, a series of war known as the Carnatic Wars. Finally the French were forced to withdraw to Pondicherry. The city grew into modern day Madras City merging all neighboring areas. In the 19th century the city became the seat of Madras Presidency, the southern division of British Imperial India. After
independence in 1947 it became the capital of Madras State that was renamed Tamil Nadu. Very recently Madras was renamed Chennai. How to Reach: Chennai is one of the four metros in India. It can be reached by air, rail, and road or even by sea. Air: Chennai has one of the four major international airports of India. Many major international airlines have regular direct flights to Chennai. Domestic airlines operate daily flights to all major cities of the country from the domestic terminal. Both air terminals are located at Meenambakkom. The city has representation of almost all airlines of the world. Rail: Chennai is the headquarters of Southern Railway, a division of Indian Railway. The city is connected to other cities and towns of the state and the country. Chennai has a local electric train network to connect different points of the city. Trains operate from Egmore Junction to different parts of the state while interstate trains originate from Chennai Central Station. Road: Road networks of Tamil Nadu Transport Corporation make it easy to access the tiniest village by comfortable and deluxe buses. Interstate buses operate at regular intervals from Chennai. Many private operators are available for domestic and interstate transportation. Sea: Chennai has a major seaport. Many passenger vessels dock at Chennai Harbor. Passenger services are operated from Chennai to neighboring countries and to Andaman, Nicobar Islands. Hotels: Hotels and restaurants to cater everyone's budget and taste are available in Chennai ranging from the cheapest to the most luxurious. The budget and mid-range hotels are mainly situated around Egmore. The top range hotels are situated mainly in and around Anna Salai. Advance booking is recommended since demand for rooms will be high Hotel tax in Tamil Nadu is among the highest in the country. Normally hotels charge 15% on rooms those cost Rs. 100 to 199 and 20% for those cost above. In addition, top range hotels charge 5 to 10 percent service charges. High Court: This imposing Indo-Saracenic style building, built in 1892, has beautiful domes, a grand central cupola and many stained glass windows. The building houses the High Court, the Small Cause's Court and the City Civil Court. Fort St. George: Built in 1654 and remodeled in 1749, Fort St. George is the first bastion of British power in India. The fort has a six-meter tall wall that withstood many sieges by Mughals in 1701, Marathas in 1741 and Hyder Ali during the late 18 th century. The fort now houses the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly. St. Mary's Church built in1678-80 was the first English church in Chennai. There are reminders in the church of Robert Clive who married here in 1753. Glimpses of old Chennai and memorabilia of British and French East India Companies, British and Muslim Administrations etc can be seen at Fort Museum, Wellesly House and Clive Corner. St. Andrew's Church: Known as the queen of Scottish churches in the East, St. Andrew's Church was built by the British East India Company around 1821. With ornate white Doric columns, tiled marble floors and a high sky blue dome decorated with gold stars, indeed, this is the most beautiful church in Chennai. Government Museum: One of the finest museums in India, the Government Museum has sections devoted to geology, anthropology, botany, zoology, sculpture and numismatics. The relics from the 2nd century AD Buddhist site 'Amaravati' and the prehistoric South India are the most prized possessions of the museum. The museum has a vast collection of carvings of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths. Collection of South Indian musical instruments and jewelry is worth seeing. The bronze gallery that has a superb collection of ancient icons and modern bronzes that should not be missed at any cost. Development Center for Musical Instruments: The center has a collection of ancient and modern Indian musical instruments. It is a must see for music lovers. Valluvar Kottam: A befitting memorial for the poet-sage Thiruvalluvar, a replica of the famed temple chariot of 'Thiruvaroor', was built in 1976. The life size statue of the sage sits in the 33m chariot with 1330 couplets of Thirukkural inscribed on the panels. Sri Parthasarathy Temple: Built by the Pallavas in the 8th century, the temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The Vijayanagar rulers renovated it in the 16th century. During the 16th and 17th centuries, this temple was the scene of many battles and Golconda, Dutch and French occupied the temple at various times. This is one of the oldest surviving temples in Chennai.
Marina Beach: The beach runs for 13km and it is the second longest beach in the world. The beach drive runs between magnificent stately buildings like the Chetpauk Palace, University of Madras, Icehouse etc. on one side and a very wide sandy beach on the other. The aquarium is situated at the beginning of the beach. Anna & MGR Samadhis: The evergreen garden memorials of Late C. N. Annadurai and M. G. Ramachandran (former Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu) are located at the beginning of Marina. Elliot's Beach: A calmer and quieter beach, pleasant and ideal for lazy lounging and picnicking. The beach is situated near Adayar and the sea is safe for swimming. Santhome Cathedral: Built in 1504 and rebuilt in 1608 and 1893, the cathedral is said to house the remains of Apostle St. Thomas. The basilica has an enormous stained glass window and a beautiful one-meter statue of Virgin Mary that was brought from Portugal in 1543. Kapaleswar Temple: This ancient Siva Temple's fragmented inscriptions dates back to 1250 AD. But Vijayanagar Kings rebuilt the present temple in the 16th century. The magnificent 37m carved 'Gopuram' of gods, goddesses and saints depict important 'Puranic' legends. The temple is situated in Mylapore. Luz Church: Dedicated to Our Lady of Light, this church is the oldest church in Chennai. An Inscription in the church attributes its construction to a Franciscan monk in 1516 AD. Little Mount: It was where St. Thomas chose a small cave to lead his Spartan life often praying on top of the hill and preach to the crowd. Today the cave has an Alter with the image of St. Thomas. Little Mount has an ancient Portuguese church built in 1551. By this church there is a perennial spring reputed to possess curative powers. St. Thomas Mount: It is on this mount where the pursuers caught St. Thomas when he fled Little Mount. It is where they killed him. At the summit of the mount there is an old, relic filled church built around 1523 by the Portuguese. One of the relics is a stone cross that is said to be bleeding periodically. The last occasion it bled was in 1704. Thousand Lights Mosque: A beautiful cream-colored multi-domed mosque that was originally built in 1800 by Nawab Umdat-ul-Umrah for assemblage of Shias during Muharrum mourning. Big Mosque: built in 1789, this architecturally splendid Wallajah Mosque is located on Queiad-eMilleth high road. It is believed that the family of Nawab Wallajah was instrumental in building of the mosque. Shantinath Jain Temple: This is a gleaming two-storied white Jain Temple built in the modern line of temple art. There are many beautifully sculptured marble idols including that of Mahavira, the Jain teacher of 6th century BC. Theosophical Society: in 1886 Madame H. P. Blavatsky and Col. Olcott chose Adayar as the headquarters of the spiritual society originally founded in USA. There are shrines of all faiths in its grounds. It has a 90 years old library with valuable collections of oriental manuscripts both in palm-leave and parchment. Guindy National Park: Perhaps this is the world's only game reserve within the city limits. This national park's population includes spotted deer, black buck, civet cat, jackal, monkeys and reptiles. The park also has a snake park and an amusement park for the children. The snake-park has a collection that includes king cobras, pythons, vipers etc. National Art Gallery: The Art Gallery has a fine collection of paintings, handicrafts and bronze. The collection is housed in a Mughal style building. Bronzes from 10 th and 13th century, Rajasthan and Mughal paintings from 16th and 17th century and Indian handicrafts from 11th and 12th century are displayed here. Other Places of Interest in Chennai are The Corporation Campus: The campus has the Victoria Public Hall, the Corporation Stadium and My Lady's garden. Horticultural Gardens (Cathedral road) Kalaskeshtra: founded in 1936 by Rukmini Davi Arundale. It is one of the country's finest dance schools. Birla Planetarium MGR Film City Annamalai Hall: A mini-museum of South Indian musical instruments. Many Chola Temples, from 8th century onwards, like Adhispurishvarar Temple (Thiruvotriyur), Thiruvalliswarar Temple (Padi), Marundiswarar Temple (Thiruvanmiyur) etc.
AROUND CHENNAI: Kanchipuram: (76km) Known as Kanchi in the past, this ancient city of thousand temples was once the capital city of Pallavas. It is a major Hindu pilgrim center and one of the seven most scared in India. Kanchipuram is also well known for its handloom industry. The exquisite silk sarees and cloths made from pure mulberry silk yarn is world famous and the best in the country. Kanyakumari: Located in the southern tip of Indian peninsula, Kanyakumari is one of the most popular tourist spot. Witnessing sunrise, sunset and moonrise from the same spot will be a unique experience. Kumariamman Temple, Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Gandhi Memorial, Padmanabhapuram, Vattakottai, Suchindram etc., are places of interest in Kanyakumari. Kodaikanal: Known as "The Princess among Hill Stations", Kodaikanal, situated in the Nilgiris, is 120km from Madurai. It has a solar physics observatory, museum, and orchidarium, Kurinji flowers that blooms once in every 12 years. Its star shaped lake is popular for boating and fishing. Madurai: Often referred as the Athens of East, Madurai is the cradle of Tamil Culture. The last of the three Tamil Sanghams (Academy) flourished here, two thousand years ago. Sri Meenakshi Sundareswar Temple, Tirumalai Nayak Mahal, Mariamman Teppakulam etc. are a must visit in Madurai. Mamallapuram: In the 7th century, Mahendravarma Pallava built this seaport from where ships sailed for countries in Southeast Asia. Mamallapuram has renowned Shore Temple and other marvelous stone monuments. Arjuna's Penance, the world's largest bas-relief, school of sculpture, Beach, lighthouse etc., are of interest to tourists. The 40 days dance festival (25th Dec. ~ 7th Feb.) is a popular event no tourist must miss. Mudumalai: Situated in Nilgirisand 60km from Ooty, it is one of the major wildlife sanctuaries in India. Rameswaram: (583km) this is one of the four most sacred Hindu pilgrim centers in India. Sri Ramanathaswamy temple has magnificent sculptures and spectacular corridors, one of them said to be the longest corridor in the world. Tanjavur: Once Tanjavur was the capital of Cholas. The Brihadeeswara Temple, a Chola architectural marvel, stands 216ft tall. Topping the tower is a monolithic cupola made from a granite block weighing about 80 tons. The Nandi Bull, Palaces, Art gallery, Churches, Museum etc., are of interesting places to visit. Tiruchirapally: Popularly known as 'Tiruchi', the city is situated on the banks of River Kavery. It was a Chola stronghold during the Sangham Age. It is where the British and the French fought the Carnatic wars. The rock fort has splendid Pallava sculptures in the cave temples. Now Tiruchirapally is a commercial and pilgrim center. Udhamandalam: Referred as the "Queen of Hill Stations", Ooty is a very popular hill station that is situated in the Nilgiris. It offers spectacular scenic beauty and bracing climate. Places of interest in Ooty are botanical gardens, boat club, golf course etc. Yercaud: Another hill station situated amidst coffe plantations and orange groves. Killiam Falls, Bear's Cave, Kavery Peak, Pagoda Point, lake and temples are some of the places of interest Festivals: Chennai celebrates many local, state and national festivals. Pongal: It is the harvest festival of thanks giving to Sun, Earth and the Cow. The festival is celebrated in the month of January for three days. Sugarcane, turmeric, sheaves of paddy, newly prepared jaggery, vegetables and pulses are offered to the Sun god. The earth and the cow are also worshiped and offerings were made. The festival ends with 'Kanum Pongal' on the third day when children enjoy watching the celebrations. Vinayaka Chathurthi: Lord Ganesha or Vinayaka, the elephant headed god is among the most worshiped deities of the State. The Ganesa Puja is performed with fervor and gaiety. The celebration ends on the ninth day when the idols of Vinayaka will be carried in procession chanting his name and submerged in water in wells, lakes, rivers or ocean. The festival falls on the month of . Navarathri: Another festival that lasts for nine days as the name indicates. The goddesses of Durga, Lakshmi and Sarawathy, the consorts of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma respectively are worshiped. The festival falls in the months of September - October and is marked with traditional displays of handmade dolls. Deepavali: This festival of lights is usually celebrated in Oct.- Nov. It generates an atmosphere of gaiety, friendliness and excitement.
Aruvathimoovar Festival: The bronze statues of 63 Shivite saints in the magnificent Kapaliswarar temple at Mylapore, who lived in devotion and penance are taken in a colorful procession, once in every year, through the streets of Mylapore, Chennai. National festivals like Independence Day, Republic day, Gandhiji's birthday etc. are celebrated throughout the state. Muslim festivals like Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, Muharrum, Birthday of Prophet Mohamed and Christian festivals like Christmas, Easter, Good Friday etc. are celebrated harmoniously as in other regions of the country.
Delhi: Built to be the capital, Delhi had seen the rise and fall of many Kingdoms and Empires. Every dynasty that ruled Delhi left behind some kind of a seal or monument for the world to admire and remember. History: Delhi, situated between the Aravalli hills and the River Yamuna, had the attention of almost every conqueror in this part of the world. The oldest reference to Delhi is made in the Mahabharata that states that Pandavas founded a city called Indraprasta beside the River Yamuna in 1450 BC. Since then conquerors from the north treated Delhi as the gateway to the Indian subcontinent, with repeated invasion and creation of empires and kingdoms, Delhi was built and demolished time again. Thus in the course of history seven medieval cities were formed. King Anangpal of Tomar built the first city of Delhi in 1069 AD. Prithviraj Chuhan, the famous Rajput hero, and Qutub-ud-din Aibak the first sultan of Delhi improved on it. Qutub Minar from the time of Qutub-ud-din is still a dominant structure in Delhi. During the 11th century AD Alaudin-Khalji built a new city called Siri. This magnificent city located northeast of original Tomar city is the second medieval city of Delhi. When Tughlaq dynasty came into being in 1320, Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq built Tughlaqabad, the third city of Delhi, in the hills of South Delhi. The forth city of Delhi was Jahanpanah. Sultan Mohamed Tughlaq, the son of Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq built it between Lalkot and Siri. With Feroz Shah at the helm of reign, Delhi prospered and peace prevailed. He built the fifth city of Delhi along the banks of River Yamuna. He also built many palaces, mosques and gardens. After the battle of Panipat I in 1526 Mughals established their supremacy over Delhi. Humayun started building the Mughal capital of Dinapana. But Sher Shah, the Afgan warrior drove him out and established a mighty empire with the best administration system that the city had ever seen. His capital Shergarh, the sixth city of Delhi, extended from purana Quila (old fort) to the edge of Feroz Shah Kotla. In 1555 Humayun regained power and Mughals ruled Delhi once again. During Akbar's reign Agra was the capital of Mughals. In 1638 Shahjahan shifted the capital to Delhi and built the seventh city of Delhi, Shahajahanabad by 1648. Many monuments of Shahjahanabad remain in old Delhi. The decline of Mughal Empire began during the reign of Aurengazeb. In the 19th century British East India Company rose into power. The last of Mughal Emperors, Bahadur Shah Zafar surrendered to the British. In the coronation Durbar in 1911, King George V formally announced the transfer of British Indian Capital from Calcutta to Delhi. British architects Sir Edward Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker designed New Delhi, the eighth city of Delhi. In 1931, New Delhi was inaugurated as the capital of Imperial India. After independence New Delhi continued as the capital of Union of India.
22 How to reach: New Delhi being the capital of the country has all infrastructures for domestic and international travel. By Air: Delhi's Indira Gandhi Domestic Airport is 16 km from the city. The Indira Gandhi International Airport is a few km further from he domestic terminal. Domestic and international airlines connect Delhi with all parts of the country and the world. Rail: Delhi is connected to almost every city and town of the country by rail. Long distance express trains operate from Delhi to every state capital. Bookings are to be made in advance to avoid the last minute rush, as trains are the most used mode of transport. Road: Delhi is well connected to all major towns and cities of the country with a network of national and state highways. Hotels: New Delhi being the capital of the country has a large number of hotels ranging from luxuary to low budget. All international and domestic hotel chains have representation in Delhi. A few of different ranges of hotels and restaurants are listed below. You may have to pay an additional luxuary tax of 10 to 20 percent depending on the type of accommodation you choose. Some hotels charge 5-10% service charges in addition. If you are planning to start your journey from Delhi, better be prepared to book and confirm your hotel acommodation well in advance. Airforce Museum: In this museum one can trace the history of the Indian Airforce. Located near the Indira Gandhi Domestic Airport, it is the perfect place one can spend one's time while waiting for the flight. Bahai Temple: A temple built to worship god irrespective of caste, creed, race, religion or nation. This gleaming lotus like marble structure is located on Bahapur Hills. Visitors are bound to keep silence inside the temple premises. The temple is a must visit for every tourist who comes to Delhi. Buddha Jayanthi Park: Laid out to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of Lord Buddha's attainment of Nirvana, the garden provides an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. The park has a Bodhi tree that is a sapling of the original enlightenment tree. Dolls Museum: Renowned Cartoonist Shankar started the museum as a personal collection. Now it has a collection of more than 6000 dolls from allover the world. Humayun's Tomb: Haji Begum, the senior wife of emperor Humayun built this mausoleum in mid 16th century. The tomb is situated amidst avenues of trees, watercourses and flowerbeds. A magnificent example of refined early Mughal architecture, the structure harmoniously blends with the nature. India Gate: This massive 42m tall structure was built as a memorial to the 90,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives in world war I. The structure has names of soldiers engraved allover it. An eternal flame burns here in commemoration of the unknown soldiers. Indira Gandhi Memorial: No.1, Safdarjung Road is where Indira Gandhi lived and died. It is from where she ruled India for decades. The modestly furnished rooms and the books, letters, photographs and paintings on display provide a fascinating insight to the private life of Indira Gandhi. Jama Masjid: Shahjahan built this mosque in 1658. Situated near the red fort in old Delhi, Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India with a seating capacity of more than 20,000 people. This mosque with bulbous domes and tapering minarets those were built with marble and slate is an architectural beauty. Janthat Mantar: Located near the junction of Parliament street and Conaught Circus, with huge concrete astronomical "instruments", this observatory of Maharaja Jai Singh II
23 of Jaipur was used to plot the courses of heavenly bodies and predict eclipses. The observatory has a huge sundial and the observatory was built in 1725. Birla Mandir: Built in 1938 by the prominent Indian Industrialist R. B. Birla and inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi, the temple has a large number of idols representing various gods of Indian pantheon. The temple is located in Mandir Marg and the main deities are Lord Narayana (Lord Vishnu) and Goddess Lakshmi, his consort. Lodi Gardens: These beautiful gardens have majestic domed tombs of many Sayyid and Lodi sultans. These well kept gardens with fountains, ponds, flowering trees, blossoming shrubs and bushes are ideal places for joggers and those who seek solitude. Mughal Gardens: It is a part of Rastrapathi Bhavan Estate where the President hosts tea parties for visiting dignitaries. The garden is laid out with velvet lawns, terraces, flowerbeds and fountains. The garden is open to the public in February and March. National Gallery of Modern art: The gallery has an excellent collection of nearly 4000 paintings and sculptures belonging to the School of Modern Art. Notable exhibits among are the works of Daniells, E. B. Havell, Janini Roy and Rabindranatna Tagore. National Museum: The museum has a collection of artistic treasures of India and Central Asia. Established in 1950, selective exhibits from state museums and private collectors enrich the museum’s collection. The museum displays prehistoric exhibits, medieval art pieces, manuscripts, miniature paintings, Indian costumes, Indian musical instruments etc. The National Samadhis: Along the banks of River Yamuna, near Raj Ghat are the burial places of Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. Nehru Museum and Planetarium: Theen Murthi Bhavan, the residence of India's first Prime Minister, has been converted into a museum. Photograph, newspaper clippings etc. on display throw light into the history of India's independent movement. There is a planetarium in the grounds of Theen Murthi Bhavan. Zoological Gardens: One of the finest in Asia, the zoo spreads over 214 acres. The zoo was designed as an open plan where the wildlife enjoys a natural habitat. More than 2000 animals, birds and reptiles from different countries are homed here. Parliament House: This massive domed structure is almost one kilometer in circumference. The building houses both Lok Sabha (The Lower House) and Rajya Sabha (The Upper House). Tourist can gain access by obtaining a special pass. Purana Quila (Old Fort): This is the sixth city of Delhi. Located south east of India Gate, it is one of the most prominent monuments in Delhi. Humayun started the fort's construction. But Sher Shah, who drove him out from Delhi, completed the city during his reign (1538-1545). Humayun constructed the massive walls and huge gates. Sher Shah built the octagonal Shermandal and the Quila-i-Kuhran Masjid. Qutub Minar: Perhaps the most striking monument of Delhi is Qutub Minar. Qutub-udDin Aibak, the first Sultan of Delhi, started the construction of the 278ft high Qutub Minar and Firoz Shah Tughlaq completed it in 1368. In the courtyard of the Quwat-ul-Islam Masjid, there is a 7m high wrought iron pillar that belonged to the Gupta Age. The Pillar withstood centuries of exposure to the nature without rusting, an indication of technological advancement at that period. Rail Transport Museum: The museum has exhibits those show the 140 years old history of Indian Railway. Situated near the diplomatic enclave, the museum is the first of its kind in India.
24 Raj Ghat: The Samadhi where the mortal remains of Mahatma Gandhi were cremated. The Samadhi is amidst a garden with lawns and fountains. Opposite to Raj Ghat is the Gandhi Memorial Museum. Personal belongings of Gandhiji, photographs and manuscripts are displayed here. Rashtrapathi Bhavan: Formerly the Vice-regal Palace, it is the official residence of the President of India. This 340-room palace and its gardens cover an area of 330 acres. Special permission has to be obtained in advance to visit Rashtrapathi Bhavan. Tughlakabad: Tughlakabad is the third city of Delhi and is located about 10km east of Qutub complex along the Mahrauli-Badarpur Road. The fort has fortified ramparts, underground chambers, tall gateways and towers. A prominent structure here is the Ghiasudin's Mausoleum that was built with marble and red sandstone. Red Fort: Shahjahan started construction of this massive fort in 1638. Though the fort was completed in 1648, he never really moved his capital to Delhi as his son Aurangaseb kept him in confinement. The fort extends for 2km and the walls are 18m high on the riverside and 33m high on the city side. The main entrance to the fort is through the Lahore gate on the West. You will enter to a covered market known as Chatta Chowk that was once Meena Bazaar, the shopping center for the ladies of the court. Naubat Khana (Drum House): It is from where the musicians played for the emperor. The arrival of princes and dignitaries were heralded from here. Diwan-i-Am: The hall of Public audiences is where the emperor listened to the grievances of his subjects and disputes are settled. Diwan-i-Khas: The hall of Private audiences, a structure of white marble, is where the emperor held private meetings and met dignitaries. The famous peacock throne was in this hall before Nadirsha carted it away to Iran. Hammams: These royal baths next to the Diwan-i-Khas has three rooms with a fountain in the center. One of the rooms was set up as a sauna. Shahi Burj: A three-storied octagonal tower that was once Shahjahan's private working area. Moti Masjid: A small masjid built by Aurangaseb in 1659 for his personal use. Rang Mahal (Palace of Color): It was the residence of the emperor's senior wife. The name derived from the colorfulness of the palace that was lost through the centuries. Sound and Light Show: Every evening, a sound and light show recreates the events of Indian history. The English version starts at 1930 hrs during Nov.-Jan., 2100hrs during May-Aug. and 2030hrs during rest of the year. Chandini Chowk: This is the main street of old Delhi and a colorful shopping center. At the end of the street there is a Digambara Jain Gurudwara. There is also a bird hospital run by the Jains.
Agra (203km): This city of Taj is about 200km from Delhi. Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Sikendra, Fatehpur Sikri etc. are places of Interest. Ballabgarh Lake (56km): A quiet tourist resort located along the Delhi - Mathura Road, Ballabgarh is an ideal picnicking, holidaying and fishing spot. Corbett National Park (260km): Located on the foothills of the Himalayas, this National Park is spread over 520sq.km. The wildlife includes tiger, elephant, leopards, mugger-crocodiles etc. Jaipur (275km): Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan is popularly known as the pink city. The amber fort, Hawa Mahal etc. are worth visiting.
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (285): Located along the Agra - Jaipur Road, this National Park has an annual migrant bird population of more than 500,000 birds. This is one of the two nesting centers of the Siberian Cranes. Sarika Tiger Reserves (240km): The reserve is located on the Aravalli Mountain Range. The wildlife includes tiger, leopard, sambar, wild boar etc. The park also has the ruins of a 9th century Shiva Temple. Sohna (56km): The hot sulfur springs located near the Sohna fort is supposed to have medicinal values. The tourist complex at sohna has good board and lodge facilities. Sultanpur bird Sanctuary (46km): This sanctuary near Gurgaon has a large lake. A large number of migratory birds from Europe, Siberia and Central Asia including Saurus Cranes and Flamingos visit the sanctuary during the winter months. Surajkund (56km): This is a picnic spot near Delhi. Boating and fishing in the lake are added attractions. Surajkund has an excellent 18-hole golf course. Central Cottage industries Emporium: Janpath, Near Connaught Place Reasonably priced and good quality items such as wood carvings, brass works, paintings, clothes, textiles, furniture etc., from all over India are available. State Emporiums:(Run by State Governments) Baba Kharak Marg. Each emporium sells handicrafts from their respective states. Chandni Chowk: Old Delhi. Jewelry, perfumes, rare antiques, carpets and traditional sweets. Main Bazaar: Pahar Gunj Perfumes, oils, soaps and incense Sunder Nagar Market: Near Dr. Zakir Hussain Road Antique’s pieces, brassware, paintings and jewelry. Santhushti Shopping Center: Chanakyapuri Handicrafts and boutique Hauz Khas Village: Art galleries and boutique Kinari Bazaar: Silk Sarees Chawri Bazaar: Antique copperware and brassware Dariba Kalan Traditional silverware Republic Day Parade: A national festival that no tourist should miss. Celebrated on the 26th of January when India became a Republic. It is the most spectacular pageant of Delhi. The march past includes military displays, elephant pageantry, floats representing different states etc. Garden Tourism Festival: Delhi Tourism holds the Garden Tourism Festival at the end of February that is generally spread over three days and generates much enthusiasm amongst the gardening fraternity. Delhi is ablaze with flowers at this time. It is also a useful meeting ground for gardening enthusiasts, as well as fun and frolic for children of all ages. Holi: This festival of color is celebrated in March. Men and women stain each other by throwing colors at. Singing and dancing accompany the joyous occasion. Phoolwalon-ki-Sair: It means the festival of flower sellers. A Festival representative of communal harmony where large fans decorated with flowers are taken out in a procession. On this occasion the flower sellers present flowers to the gods and pray for a better flower season next year. Mango Festival: The mango festival is held in Delhi during the month of July. Many verities of mangos from the 1100 plus verities those India grow are displayed. Independent Day Celebrations: Independent Day is celebrated on August 15. Processions and flag hoisting on the Red Fort mark the celebration. Dussehra: It is a ten days festival, celebrated in Sept./Oct., of which nine days are spent in worship. The tenth day is a celebration of victory of good over evil. Huge effigies of Ravana, the demon king, are burned on the last day of festival. The heroic deeds of Lord Rama who destroyed Ravana are enacted in songs and dance. Qutub Festival of Classical Music and Dance: The festival is staged around Sharad Pournima in the month of October at the Qutub Minar complex. Evocative melodies and graceful dances are presented by various prominent artistes of the country. Diwali: Diwali, the festival of lights and fireworks is celebrated throughout the country during OctNov. People illuminate their houses with rows of earthen lamps to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. At night crackers are burst to celebrate the return of Lord Rama from exile. Flower Shows: Delhi also conducts various flower shows in the winter months. Rose Show, Chrysanthemum Show and Delhi Flower Show are among them.
Masjid and at Dar-us-Salaam.