NORTHERN INDIA

Splendid Himalayas, Thar desert, Indo-Genetic plains provide variation in the climate and topography across the northern India. Himalayas hold some of the scenic hill stations of the subcontinent. Delhi, capital of India is also located in north India. Before Britishers shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi, this historical place already had seen fanatic political activities for centuries. Being closely related to the history of northern India, Delhi has many historical monuments. Some of these monuments are have managed to bear the vagaries of time but many have perished. Close to Delhi is Agra. The Moguls had this place as their capital before they shifted to Delhi. Agra is famous for the greatest monument of love the Taj Mahal. This white marble structure is an architectural marvel and is the most photographed monument in the world. Close to Agra are twin cities of Mathura and Vrindavan. These two places are important pilgrimage for Hindus. In Uttar Pradesh, on the banks of holy river Ganga is located Varanasi. Varanasi or Banaras as it is known has been very sacred for the Hindus as they consider this place to be abode of Lord Shiva. While Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir have numerous hills stations, the dry Thar Desert of Rajasthan holds historic cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur. The palaces, forts and gardens & lakes add colour to this otherwise barren area. The cities of Rajasthan spell Royal grandeur in their structure and have been attracting a major chunk of foreign tourists.

SOUTHERN INDIA
While the lofty Himalayas have been guarding the northern frontiers of India, the southern plateau has been washed by gentle waves of the oceans. The people here are from the Dravidian race and are very protective about their culture and traditions. But strangely it is the southern region, which has been attracting most of foreign investment in the recent times. Infect it was on Malabar coast of Kerala that first foreigner from the West landed in India. From the backwaters of Kerala to exotic coral islands and lush green hill stations in Tamil Nadu all have a charm of their own. The Capital city of Karnataka, Bangalore can match any other city in the west. Recently this place has come up as the software hub of the world. Popularly called the garden city, Bangalore is one of most jazzy places in India. On the line of Bangalore is coming up Hyderabad. A quite city known for the Nizam rulers, Hyderabad is the second place in India, which has a cyber city. Going further south there are excellent beaches and temples. Who can forget the everbeautiful Chinese nets along the coast in Cochin? Or the species, which are grown here. The coconut on the beaches gives a pleasure, which cannot be described in words. The state capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai formerly known as Madras is another historical place in the south. The golden Marina beach in Chennai is one of the longest beaches in the world. In south India one can enjoy crashing breakers on the shores or can enjoy the peace and greenery of places like Ooty. One can visit the historical places of Karnataka or worship in the temples of Tamil Nadu. Southern India had many things to offer, what you need is to explore the region.

EASTERN INIDIA
They are called the seven sisters. They are the seven beautiful states of Northeast India. These states have not come up as tourist destination on the tourist map. But they have immense potential for travel and tourism. The small but densely covered hills of these states are a mystery, which wait to be discovered and explored. The tradition, culture, and festivals everything has remained covered and is slowly opening up. The Buddhist pilgrimages of Bihar or the temples of Konark, Bhubaneswar, and Puri in Orissa are visited by pilgrims as well as the tourists. The Chillika Lake is the largest lagoon and watching sunset over the lake has its own pleasure. Visit the beaches of Digha in West Bengal and Puri in Orissa, their beauty is sure to hang in your mind for years to come. One of the major tourist destinations in East has been the Calcutta. Calcutta came up as a major city of the region when it was made the capital city by the East India Company. Calcutta has retained the historical splendors, which is reflected in the buildings of the place. Today Calcutta is the capital of West Bengal and one of the major ports in east. The sunderban deltas are also a major tourist attraction. The great Sundari tree (Mangrove) thrives on the silts deposited by the Ganges before it meets the ocean. These trees form a part of the Sunderban National park where the Royal Bengal Tigers are found. Also, the crocodile and mighty pythons have made these deltas as their home. In this region only one can visit Bodh Gaya, Rajgir, Nalanda and Patna etc. These places are part of Buddhist tourist circuit. Most of them are closely related with the life of Buddha and at some places last remains of this great preacher are kept. Thus, the eastern region also has many things to offer, itinerates for some have already been made and some wait for their turn to come.

WESTERN INDIA
The Arabian Sea guards the western region of India. The places on the western coasts are usually regarded gateway to the western countries particularly the Gulf region. Maharastra, Gujarat, Goa are few states which form the coastal belt of west India. On Arabian Sea is Mumbai, the commercial capital of India. Also, known as the dream city Mumbai has attracted people from all walks of life. The star attraction of Mumbai is Bollywood, one of the largest film industries. The beaches and skyscrapers are part of the topography of this place. The gateway of India welcomes every one to this land of dreams. On the western coast is Goa. The colour, festivals, beaches and a church that is what Goa is all about. Goa is very popular haunt for the foreigners. Not long ago the Hippies and drug peddlers did notoriously infect this place. They have not been totally eliminated but their presence is almost nil today. Goa is land where people are celebrating all the year round. Folk songs & music combined with the local brew Fenni produces an effect, which is, felt nowhere else. The cave temples of Ajanta Ellora or the historic city of Aurangabad, all remind of the grandeur and architectural excellence, which this place had attained. Khajuraho temples in Madhya Pradesh have completed 1000 years. The tourism department is celebrating this occasion by organizing Khajuraho millennium. These festivals start in March this year and will end in 2000 AD. The temple at Khajuraho represents artistic excellence in

itself. The erotic depiction on the walls of these temples has been attracting tourists far and wide. The numerous wild life sanctuaries and national parks sustain a variety of flora and fauna. Cities like Sanchi had been center of Buddhism but now only the stupas remain to tell the story of the past. But there are places like Nagpur, Gwalior and Bhopal, which are still alive and growing.

EASTERN & CENTRAL INDIA
They are called the seven sisters. They are the seven beautiful states of Northeast India. These states have not come up as tourist destination on the tourist map. But they have immense potential for travel and tourism. The small but densely covered hills of these states are a mystery, which wait to be discovered and explored. The tradition, culture, and festivals everything has remained covered and is slowly opening up. The Buddhist pilgrimages of Bihar or the temples of Konark, Bhubaneswar, and Puri in Orissa are visited by pilgrims as well as the tourists. The Chillika Lake is the largest lagoon and watching sunset over the lake has its own pleasure. Visit the beaches of Digha in West Bengal and Puri in Orissa, their beauty is sure to hang in your mind for years to come. One of the major tourist destinations in East has been the Calcutta. Calcutta came up as a major city of the region when it was made the capital city by the East India Company. Calcutta has retained the historical splendors, which is reflected in the buildings of the place. Today Calcutta is the capital of West Bengal and one of the major ports in east. The sunderban deltas are also a major tourist attraction. The great Sundari tree (Mangrove) thrives on the silts deposited by the Ganges before it meets the ocean. These trees form a part of the Sunderban National park where the Royal Bengal Tigers are found. Also, the crocodile and mighty pythons have made these deltas as their home. In this region only one can visit Bodh Gaya, Rajgir, Nalanda and Patna etc. These places are part of Buddhist tourist circuit. Most of them are closely related with the life of Buddha and at some places last a remains of this great preacher is kept. Thus, the eastern region also has many things to offer, iteneries for some have already been made and some wait for their turn to come.

THE STATE OF INDIA
India is a potpourri of cultures; its diversity is tremendous and obvious. No two places are alike; everybody speaks a different language. It is this diversity, which makes India the land of much richness and an enchanting experience to those who visit it. This is also a place of traditions and the birthplace of the world’s greatest faiths. Tolerance despite such difference herein lays the uniqueness of India JAMMU & KASHMIR Blue valleys, alpine pass—Kashmir’s beauty is the stuff of fables. The geography of Kashmir is actually divided into three landmasses: the foothill plains of Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and the mountains of Ladakh. Its strategic position leads to off-and-on skirmishes with Pakistan and has converted this beautiful place into one of the highest battlegrounds of the world.

The people here are basically a quiet race and among the most beautiful people of India. The dominant religion is Islam and the language most spoken is Urdu. Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, is a hospitable place where the tourism industry is slowly picking up after years of strife. Here, you can boat in cushioned and canopies shikaras across the Dal and Nagin Lakes. The Shankaracharya Temple provides excellent views of the valley of Kashmir. Other places of tourist attractions are the Mughal Gardens of Shalimar where flowers, fountains, streams can be seen as well as the beautiful Mosque of Hazrathal. Pahalgam is a pleasant little, single street town full of streams. The site of the start to the shrine of Amarnath begins here. Gulmarg also has great scenic beauty to offer. The tourist draws of Jammu are mainly the Raghunath Temple and the Vaishno Devi Temple, which attracts pilgrims all over the country. Jammu has the typical climate of the plains and can be quite hot in summer. In Ladakh the Leh Palace overlooks the town but is damaged. The Thiksey Monastery is, however, in shape rising in a white tier up a hillock. The Stok Palace and Museum houses the royal relics of the last ruling family of Ladakh. Best time to visit: September-October or early winter. Raghunath Temple - is dedicated to Lord Rama. The inner walls of the temple are covered with gold sheet on three sides. The galleries are covered with lakhs of ‘Saligrams’. The surrounding temples are dedicated to other gods and goddesses from the epic, Ramayana. The temple is located in the heart of Jammu. Construction of the temple was started in 1835 by Maharaja Gulab Singh and completed by his son, Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1860. Bahu Fort - The original fort was built by Raja Bahulochan but was modified and improved by Dogra rulers. This fort, perhaps the oldest edifice in Jammu, is located 5 km from the city. The fort is built on rocks facing the Tawi River. A temple dedicated to Goddess Kali is also inside the fort. Exquisitely laid-out gardens surround the fort on all sides. Peer Baba - This is the famous dargah of the Muslim saint, Peer Budhan Ali Shah. On Thursdays apart from Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs also come in large numbers to pay respect at the shrine. Mubarak Mandi Palace - The architecture of this palace has a unique blend of Rajasthani, Mughal and even Gothic styles. The palace complex dates back to 1824 AD. The Sheesh Mahal segment in the palace is most famous. The pink hall has now been converted into the Dogra Art Museum. This museum is a treasure house of miniature paintings from various hill schools. Katra - Katra acts as a base camp for pilgrims and tourists going to the Vaishnodevi shrine. Katra is 50 kms from Jammu. A road that passes through a stretch of beautiful valley can approach it. Patnitop - This beautiful place is 112 kms from Jammu. It is located on the JammuSrinagar highway and is thus easily accessible. Patnitop was in fact a picnic spot for residents of Jammu. Later on it was taken up by JKTDC and developed as a tourist destination. Patnitop is usually covered with snow during winter and provides a good opportunity for winter sports.

Dal Lake - is at the east of Srinagar city. Much of it is a maze of intricate waterways. Dal Lake comprises of a series of lakes, including Nagin Lake, 8 km from the city center. Most of the modern houseboats are anchored here. The famous Mughal gardens are located on the Far East side of Dal Lake. Pahalgam- is about 95 km east of Srinagar. At a junction of the East and West Lidder rivers, it is a popular trekking base. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims approach the Amarnath cave from this area. Hemis Gompa - situated 45 km south of Leh is the most accessible and hence most visited gaompas of Leh. It has an excellent library, well preserved frescoes showing some Kashmiri influence and good Buddha statues. Namgyal Tsemo Gompa - built in 1430, contains a fine three-storey-high Buddha and ancient manuscripts and frescoes. From here, the views of Leh are superb. A steep lane from here leads to the Leh Palace. Shanti Stupa - looks impressive, especially at night when it is well lit-up. With financial assistance from the Japanese government, it was built by a Japanese and opened by the Dalai Lama in 1985. From the top, there are great views. The stupa is located at the end of the road, which goes through Changspa, about 3 km from fort Road. RAJASTHAN Rajasthan is a place where cities pink and gold have been built over ashes of the dead. Citadels and fortresses, palaces and ramparts have sprung up in between the sands of the Thar, the Great Indian Desert that stretches through the western half of Rajasthan. The desert lands are framed by the 700 km craggy heights of the Aravallis, cutting the land in half. To the east of the Aravallis, Rajasthan grows its cotton in an agriculturally rich alluvial soil. Rajasthan is a land of ornate architecture, decorative palaces, wide expanses of water and summer palaces on islands. The fortresses are steeped in memories: women who preferred mass suicide rather than fall into the hands of the enemy. Warrior clans are bound by inviolable codes of honour and chivalry; the Rajput pride and chivalry are a part of folklore. In Jaipur, is the enchanting Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds, tier upon tier of curved arch surmounting fairy casements with ornamental screens. Stone elephants guard the imposing gate of the City Palace. At the entrance of the palace, stands the Jantar Mantar, the largest and best-preserved observatories built by Maharaja Jaisingh. The Rambagh Palace once a royal home is now a fabulous hotel. Pushkar, site of the biggest cattle fair in Rajasthan, is a brief 14 km from Ajmer. Chittorgarh fort is remembered for its association with the saint princess Mirabai and Padmini’s Palace a pavilion where Alauddin Khilji saw the glimpse of the princess. Rana Kumbha’s Vijai Stumbh stands in memory of a solitary victory. The Sawai Madhopur forest retreat and the Ranthanhor sanctuary are major tourist attractions. City Palace Jaipur - This is the former royal residence combining Rajasthani and Mughal styles. The palace has a museum with a superb collection of costumes and armory of Rajputs and Mughals. The palace also has an art gallery with an excellent collection of miniature paintings, carpets and rare astronomical works in Arabic, Latin, Persian and Sanskrit. Jantar Mantar - is an observatory in Jaipur and does Jai Singh in five different cities make the largest of the five remarkable observatories. Its complex instruments represent the high points of medieval Indian astronomy.

Bharatpur National Park - Situated in eastern Rajasthan, about 176 kms away from Delhi, and 50 km west of Agra, is the Keoladeo Ghana or Bharatpur National Park, one of the most spectacular bird sanctuaries in India, nesting indigenous water- birds as well as migratory water birds and waterside birds. Sambar, chital, nilgai and boar also inhabit it. Jaisalmer Fort - over 800 years old, crowns the Trikuta Hill. Within its walls, defended by 99 turrets, lies the old city, nearly a quarter of modern Jaisalmer. Seen from outside, the sight must be almost identical to what was seen by merchants on their overland camel caravans to central Asia. Once this desert outpost was an important gate for the trade route, and Jaisalmer grew wealthy on the proceeds. Jain temples - This group of fine Jain temples were built in the 12 th to 15th century within the fort walls of Jaisalmer. They are beautifully carved and dedicated to Rikhabdevji and Sambhavnathji. The Gyan Bhandar, a library containing some extremely old manuscripts, is within the temple complex. Clock Tower - is a popular landmark in the old city of Jodhpur. The vibrant market has bazaars selling textiles, silver and handicrafts. Umaid Bhawan and Palace - Built of marble and pink sandstone, it was designed by the president of the British Royal Institute of architects for Maharaja Umaid Singh and took 15 years to build. The museum is worth a visit. Ranthambhor sanctuary - The Ranthambhor National Park certainly is one of the most picturesque game reserves in the world - the entire forest being dominated by the silent, ruined battlements of the Ranthambhor Fort, which is inside the sanctuary. Another interesting feature of the park is a huge banyan tree - supposedly one of the world’s largest - nears the graceful Jogi Mahal water palace. Dilwara temples - These remarkable Jain temples are Mt Abu’s main attraction and among the finest examples of Jain architecture in India. The complex includes two temples in which the art of carving marble reached unsurpassed heights. Tower of Victory - was erected by Rana Kumbha to commemorate his victory over Mahmud Khilji of Malwa. It rises 37 m high in nine storeys. You can climb the narrow stairs to the eighth storey. UTTAR PRADESH Referred to as the cow belt or the Hindi belt, Uttar Pradesh has been the most dominant state in Indian politics and culture since Independence. The Ganges, which forms the backbone of the state, is considered sacred by Hindus, and has seven holy towns including Varansi, the holiest of the holies. Uttar Pradesh is also of importance to Buddhists; it was at Sarnath that Buddha first preached his message. Most of Uttar Pradesh consists of the vast Ganges plain, an area that often floods during the monsoons. In stark contrast to the plains, the scenic northwestern corner has hill stations, which offers some of the best trekking opportunities. The main languages spoken here are Hindi, Urdu and English. The highlights of Uttar Pradesh are the Taj Mahal, the Fatehpur Sikri, and the Ghats at Varanasi, the hill stations and the Corbett Tiger Reserve. Lucknow, the capital city, is a city rich in culture and history. Built by the Nawabs, it’s a city that takes its manners seriously. Here, the Bara Imambara, the Chota Imambara, the Residency and the Rumi Darwaza are the primary draws.

The city of Agra, home to the world-famous Taj Mahal, is a typically north Indian city. The Agra Fort a massive red sandstone structure, begun by Akbar was completed by his grandson Shah Jahan. Known for leather goods and jewelry, the Sadar Bazar is full of emporiums. As for the Taj, this monument of love is magical at dawn. Its gateway, long watercourse and minarets make it a thing of eternal beauty. Mussoorie, Naintal, Ranikhet and Kasauni afford good getaways. Their scenic beauties and cool climate are a welcome respite from the sweltering heat of the plains. Taj Mahal - To perpetuate the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz, Shah built the finest sepulcher ever - a monument of eternal love. After 22 years and the combined effort of over 20,000 workmen and master craftsmen, the complex was finally completed in 1648 on the banks of the Yamuna in Agra, the capital of Mughal monarchs. Agra Fort - The high red sandstone ramparts of this great monument stretch for almost 2.5 km, dominating a bend in the river Yamuna, northwest of the Taj Mahal. The Emperor Akbar laid the foundation of this majestic citadel, and it developed as a stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations. Fatehpur Sikri - 40 kms from Agra, the city of Fatehpur Sikri served as the capital of the Mughal Empire between 1570 and 1586 during Akbar’s reign. But as abruptly as it had been built, it was abandoned. Sikandra - Four kilometer from Agra is the mausoleum of Akbar. Akbar started construction of this beautiful monument in his lifetime. This structure has a perfect blending of Hindu, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain motifs. The blending is much like Deen-e-Ilahi, a new religion started by Akbar. But Akbar died before his mausoleum could be completed and his son Jehangir completed it. Almora - is a picturesque district in the Kumaun region, north of Uttar Pradesh. Tapkeshwar Temple - This cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is in Dehradun. Here at a Shivling, water falls drop by drop from a rock; hence the name Tapkeshwar. It is 5.5 km from the city bus stand and is situated in the Garhi Cantt. Area. A fair is held every year at this temple on the occasion of Shivaratri. Bara Imambara - Built in the year 1784 by Nawab Asaf ud Daula in Lucknow, it provided food to the famine-stricken subjects of the Nawab. The monument is known for its simplicity of style, sheer proportion and symmetry. Chota Imambara - of Lucknow is also known as the Hussainabad Imambara, Mohammad Ali Shah as a mausoleum built it for him. It is set inside a beautiful garden with a raised water reservoir in front of it. It is flanked by two replicas of the Taj Mahal inside which are the remains of Ali Shah’s daughter and her husband. The main building is a domed structure with many exquisite turrets and minarets. Krishna Balarama Temple - This beautiful temple was established in 1975 by the ISKON and has now become Vrindavan’s most popular temple and has one of the highest standards of Deity worship and cleanliness. Hare Krishna devotees from around the world can be seen here throughout they year, bringing a truly international flavor to this ancient holy city. Mussoorie - with its green hills and varied flora & fauna, is a fascinating hill resort. Commanding snow ranges to the northeast, and wonderful views of the Doon Valley and Shiwalik ranges in the south; the town is a virtual fairyland. Varanasi Ghat - Pilgrims flock the Ghats to have a ritual bath and perform Puja to the rising sun, following centuries old tradition. The Dasashvamedh Ghat offers a splendid view of the riverfront. This is the Ghat of the 10 (Das) horses (Shiva) sacrificed (medh). MADHYA PRADESH

The central land of Madhya Pradesh, the land of Kings and primitive people, of rugged mountains, myth and romance, are the largest state in the Indian Union, with its capital at Bhopal. M.P. is a vast plateau surrounded by the Vindhya and Satpura mountains that make a rugged descent into the valleys of the Narmada and Tapti rivers, which have long served as a passageway connecting east and west India. The people are proud of their culture. The men here are of the marital type, the women proud and graceful; those married recognizable by their vermilion and green glass bangles. The state is home to a large number of aboriginal tribes like the Bhils, the Baigas, Maria and the Murias. 40% of India’s aboriginal populationthe Adivasis lives here. Apart from Hindi, the locally spoken dialects include Malwi, Bhojpuri, and Bundelkhandi etc. Hand spun cotton saris studded with jewel-colored embroideries are specially woven in Chanderi, with each sari’s border displaying a traditional tale. Bhopal is the center for filigreed silver jewelry, inlaid leather, bead handbags and embroidered slippers. Jabalpur is famous for its lacquer work and Gwalior far its carpet industry. Bhopal is a city planned beautifully and aesthetically. It has the Bharat Bhavan, one of the greatest centers of art and culture in the country. Culturally, it is one of the most happening places- a new play, a dance festival or a poetry recital, something always keeps on happening. The Jama Masjid, the Sardar Manzil Palace is worth visiting. The Great Stupa at Sanchi, built by Ashoka stands magnificently here. Located nearby is Vidisha, another town prosperous during the reign of Ashoka. Indore is one of the growing commercial cities where the Kanch Mandir, temple of mirrors is situated. Chattri Bagh is a place dotted with carved umbrella shaped mountains. At Ujjain, the Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years, which is a major attraction for the Hindus. It also has the famous observatory built by Raja Man Singh - the Jantar Mantar. At Bagh are many Buddhist monasteries in the style of Ajanta. At Gwalior is the sacred lake Surajkund where Indians of every religious denomination come to find benediction. In MadhyaPradesh, any visitor rarely misses Khajuraho. Temples at Khajuraho are a celebration of love, where human emotion and physical love transcend the merely earthy to become, spiritual, cosmic and closer to God. Built by the Chandellas. These temples are said to be a celebration of womankind, her myriad moods and facets. Khajuraho celebrates love, and men and women couple in incredible positions to present a veritable Kamasutra in stone. The weather is typical continental type of climate with summers being hot and winters cold. The best season to visit is between the months of October and April. Khajuraho - Of all temples of India, the Khajuraho complex remains unique in its depiction of sexual architecture. One thousand years ago, under the generous and artistic patronage of the Chandela Rajput kings of Central India, 85 temples, magnificent in form and richly carved, were built on one site, near the village of Khajuraho. The amazingly short span of 100 years, from 950 AD - 1050 AD, saw the completion of all the temples. Today, of the original 85, only 22 have survived the ravages of time. Amarkantak - is set among sylvan surroundings. Situated at an altitude of 1065 m at the meeting point of the Vindhya and the Satpura mountain ranges, it is a great pilgrim centre for Hindus. It is the source of the rivers Narmada and Sone. Holy ponds, lofty hills, deep forests, breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls make Amarkantak a much soughtafter destination for the religious-minded as well as for the nature-lover. A wonderful retreat with a wonderful air of serenity pervades the environs.

Bhimbetka caves - surrounded by the northern fringe of the Vindhyan ranges, Bhimbetka lies 46 km south of Bhopal. In this rocky terrain of dense forest and craggy cliffs, over 600 rock shelters of the Neolithic age were discovered. Over 500 caves record ancient man’s love affair with art. Here, in vivid panoramic detail, paintings in the caves depict the life of the pre-historic cave dwellers making the Bhimbetka group an archaeological treasure. Animals and birds constitute the largest subject of these paintings. Mandu - is a celebration in stone of the love of the poet-prince Baz Bahadur for his beautiful wife, Rani Roopmati. Towards the end of 13th century, it came under the Sultans of Malwa, first of who renamed it Shadiabad - the city of joy. The rulers built exquisite palaces like the Jahaz and Hindola Mahals, ornamental canals, baths and pavilions. Each of Mandu’s structures is an architectural wonder. Udaigiri caves - are cut into sandstone hill, five km from Vidisha. There are about 20 Gupta cave shrines. In cave 5, there is a superb image of Vishnu in his boar incarnation. Marble rocks- in Jabalpur, are high cliffs of marble, which it has polished with time over the centuries. The place also affords opportunities for boat-rides, preferably in the early morning or late evening, down the gorge of the river. It is a wonderful sight by moonlight. Kanha National Park - is the setting for Kiplineg’s Jungle Book. It’s a beautiful forest with lightly wooded grassland, streams and rivers and has an excellent variety of wildlife. It is also a part of Project Tiger. Panchmari - Nestling amidst the craggy Satpura ranges of Madhya Pradesh is Panchmari - perhaps the loveliest hill-station in India. Together with the pretty Englishness, Panchmari has a typical military starchiness: all military bands are trained here. Each morning and almost through the day the bands practice and play a vast repertoire of tunes. Lal Bagh Palace- is a grand palace surrounded by gardens in Indore.Its entrance gates are a reminder of the Buckingham Palace and even has a wooden ballroom floor mounted on springs. GUJARAT Gujarat is a vibrant land with a historical and cultural tradition dating back to the days of the Harrapan civilization. Prosperous and throbbing with life, this state offers colors of a million hues to the visitor. Since the beginning of civilization, Gujarat has been witness to revolutionary changes that have left their mark on the face of time. This land of Lord Krishna and the great Mahatma Gandhi has been home to a multitude of cultures. Rich in crafts, arts and music, it has a culture that is vibrant and full of life. Due to its close proximity to the sea, Gujarat has developed into a thriving economic state. Standing at the threshold of the 21st century, it has made giant leaps towards modernization. Predominantly a business class, the state is exploring newer areas like technology, infrastructure development and trade. The arts and crafts too flourished due to the progress of trade and commerce in the past eight hundred years. Businesspersons largely patronized these crafts, helping them brave the vagaries of time. Even today, the traditional dress of Gujarat- the ghaghra-choli, and the famous tie and dye work is immensely popular throughout India. The folk dances of Gujarat, including the garba and dandia are so vibrant and graceful that it is no doubt captivating. Gujarat is also a unique state with diverse habitats. Its varied land forms include the famous dry deciduous forests like the Gir (the only habitat of

the Asiatic lion), majestic grass lands like those found at Velavadar and vast landscapes harboring rare animals in habitats like Rann of Kutch. Wetland habitats like Nalsarovar, marine ecosystems, are found near the Pirotan Islands and the rich moist deciduous forests of the Dangs are irresistible. Other tourist attractions include, the sacred temples of Dwarka and Somnath; Palitana, the picturesque Mountain city of Jain temples at about 2,000 feet height on the Shetrunjaya hills; Udwada, the oldest place of the fire temple of the Parses in India; the 5,000 years old archaeological finds in Lothal and the 11th century Sun temple at Modhera among the architectural wonders. The national shrine of Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad is the nation’s pride. Kankaria Lake - This artificial lake was developed by Qutb-Ud-Din in 1451 and is a popular recreational spot in Ahmedabad. Surrounded by gardens, slopes, an aquarium and a Balvatika (Children’s Park), an island palace completes the pretty picture. The palace has 34 sides, each side being 60 m long. During the Mughal period the palace was a frequent home of Nur Jahan and Jehangir. Besides the lake, there is also a zoo. Somnath temple - This legendary shore temple at Somnath is one of the twelve most sacred Shiva shrines in India. As per legend, none other than Soma, the Moon God himself, built Somnath. The temple was destroyed seven times, and rebuilt an equal number of times. Lured by stories of its fabulous treasure, Mohammed of Gazni raided it in 1026 and walked away with camel-loads of jewels and gold. The temple is situated at 79 km from Junagadh and 25 km from Chorwad. The nearest Airport at Keshod is well connected with Mumbai. Hatheesing Jain Temple - Embellished with intricate carvings and built in white marble, the Hatheesing Jain temple is one of the best ornate Jain temples in Ahmedabad. A rich Jain merchant built this temple in the nineteenth century. The temple is dedicated to the 15th Jain tirthankar or Jain apostle, Dharmnath. Gandhi Ashram - One of the places from where Gandhiji started the freedom movement was the Gandhi Ashram. In 1930 it was from here that Gandhiji started his Dandi Yatra to flout the salt laws of the British. The ashram, located on the banks of Sabarmati River was founded in 1915. Today it has been converted into a Gandhi memorial. A museum also stands near the ashram, which displays some of his personal belongings. There is also a library here and the light and sound show in the evening is an added attraction for visitors to this place. Today the ashram has not left making handicrafts, handmade paper and spinning wheels. Gir Lion Sanctuary- The last home of the Asiatic lion is 59 km from Junagadh. Covering an area of 1400 sq km, it was set up to protect the lion and its habitat. Apart from lions, there are 30 species of other animals, including panthers. Teen Darwaza - Sultan Ahmed Shah in Ahmedabad built these arched gateways. These gateways were the royal entrances to the Maidan Shah or Royal Square. From here the Sultans used to watch processions from the palace to the Jama Masjid. Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary - 60 km from Ahmedabad is a 116 sq. km lake that is the homer of a bird sanctuary. This lake attracts numerous migratory and indigenous birds that flock here throughout the year. One can take a taxi or bus to watch the ducks, geese, pelicans and flamingos at the sanctuary. Lakhota Fort - In the centre of old Jamnagar, on an island in the middle of the lake, are two magnificent old structures: the Lakhota Fort and the Kotha Bastion. Lakhota Fort is Jamnagar’s Museum and its terraces display a fine collection of sculpture that spans a period from the 9th to 18th Century. The Kotha Bastion is Jamnagar’s prize possession.

One of its most interesting sights is an old well, the water of which can be drawn by blowing into a small hole in the floor.

GOA Walk leisurely on the sun kissed beaches, listen to the murmuring winds, watch the sun drawing patterns in the sand through the shades of the trees, let the cool seas wash your feet or simply lie back and enjoy the Goan drink- Feni. The tiny piece of paradise- Goa lies in the West Coast of India and is spread over an area of 3,702 sq. kms. With a coastline of 105 kms it is washed by the Arabian Sea. Goa’s outstanding attractions are its serene and scenic beauty, diverse landscape- wide, sandy, palm - fringed beaches, clean waters, delicious food and hospitable people with a rich cultural milieu. Goan culture is a confluence of many religions, faiths and traditions. People from various religions live in absolute communal harmony and participate wholeheartedly in the religious festivals of others. The Portuguese invaders destroyed many temples and mosques. As a result most of the temples are relatively new, though some date back to over 400 years. There is no seafood like the Goan seafood. The shoreline stretched over miles, numerous river streams and the ponds produce the most amazing variety of fishes and other seafood. Delicious tiger prawns, oysters, shellfish, and black river crabs are available in plenty. The variety in fishes includes king fish, tuna, shark, rockfish and sardines. You can never have enough of the delectable Squids, cuttlefish, sea prawns, lobsters and mussels available here. Do not miss out on the fabulous Feni, an alcohol produced only in Goa from the coconut and cashew tree. Goan churches are absolutely peaceful and beautiful. The Church of St Francis of Assisi, with its gilded and carved woodwork, murals and a floor made of gravestones, it is one of the most interesting buildings of Goa. The Church of St Monica is as old as the 17th century. Se Cathedral is the largest church of Old Goa. Built for the Dominicans in 1562, it still retains its old splendor. Old Goa - is located nine km east of Panajim and is famous for its churches and cathedrals. The Archaeological Survey of India has given some of the old buildings a facelift by converting them into museums maintained. Unesco has given World Heritage Status the spiritual heart of Christian Goa, Old Goa for its extraordinarily grand churches and convents. Basilica of Bom Jesus - The 1605 church of Bom Jesus, “Good” or “Menino Jesus”, is known principally for the tomb of St Francis Xavier. In 1946, it became the first church in India to be granted the status of Minor Basilica. On the west, the three-storey Renaissance facade combines Corinthian, Doric, Ionic and Composite styles. The church can be entered from beneath the choir, supported by columns. On the northern wall, in the centre of the nave, is a cenotaph in gilded bronze to Dom Jeronimo Mascaranhas, the Captain of Cochin and benefactor of the church. The main altar, beautifully engraved in gold, projects the infant Jesus under the protection of St Ignatius Loyola. Vasco Da Gama - is on the narrow western tip of the Mormugao peninsula, overlooking the mouth of the Zuari River. Acquired by the Portuguese in 1543, the port town of Vasco-Da-Gama - popularly known as Vasco - was formerly among the busiest ports on India’s west coast.

It remains a thriving and key-shipping centre, with container vessels and iron-ore barges crowding the river mouths. Vasco is Goa’s most cosmopolitan city. Dudhsagar Waterfalls- Measuring a mighty 600m from head to foot, the famous waterfalls at Dudhsagar on the Goa-Karnataka border, are some of the highest in India, and a spectacular sight. It attracts a steady stream of visitors from the coast into the rugged Western Ghats. After pouring across the Deccan plateau, the headwaters of the Mandovi River form a foaming torrent that fans into three streams, then cascades down a near-vertical cliff face into a deep green pool. The Konkani name for the falls, which literally translated means “sea of milk”, derives from clouds of foam that gathers at the bottom when the water levels are at their highest. Overlooking a steep, crescent-shaped head of a valley carpeted with pristine tropical forest, Dudhsagar is also set amid breathtaking scenery that is only accessible on foot or by train. Aguada Fort - which is at the top of the rocky flattened top of the headland, is the bestpreserved Portuguese bastion in Goa. Built in 1612 to protect the northern shores of the Mandovi estuary from Dutch and Maharatha invaders, it is made picturesque with several natural springs. These springs were the only source of drinking water available to ships arriving in Goa after the long sea voyage from Lisbon. On the north side of the fort, a rampart of red-brown laterite juts into the bay to form a jetty between two small sandy coves. Anjuna beach - attracts a motley crowd of tourists. It is famous throughout Goa for its Wednesday flea market and has retained an undeniable charm. Dona Paula beach - Situated 9 km west of Panjim, it is nestled on the south side of the rocky, hammer-shaped headland that divides the Zuari and Mandovi estuaries. This former fishing village is now a commercialized resort. MAHARASHTRA Come with a dream and Maharashtra will fulfill it. One of India’s largest, most populace and economically vibrant states, it also happens to be the film center of India. Sandwiched between states on all sides, on its western border lies the Arabian Sea. The principal languages spoken are Marathi, English, Hindi, and Gujarat. The capital of Maharashtra, Mumbai owes its name to Mumba Devi, the guardian deity of the city. It is the most cosmopolitan city with a pace of its own - which is often breakneck. It is exciting - jostling crowds, pot-holed roads, rattling suburban trains, pollution, traffic jams, high rise, beautiful people, Dharavi, the largest slum in the world et al. A lot of excitement is because Bombay is “Bollywood”, the 2nd largest producer of films in the world. The Marine Drive, the Mahalakshmi Temple, Fire Temple, the Victoria Temple, Gateway of India, are some of Mumbai’s best places. You can go shopping in Bombay at Colaba Causeway, Chor bazaar, or Zaveri Bazar if you are on the lookout for some exquisite jewelry. The Elephanta Caves in Mumbai are a must see. Closely is the city of Pune where the famous Indian Film and Television Institute and the Max Mueller Center for German Studies is situated. At nearby Nasik, considered to be one of the 7 most sacred cities of the Hindus, the Kumbh Mela is held to commemorate the churning of the ocean by the Gods and demons. The winter capital, Nagpur, is well known or Ramtek, where Lord Ram is said to have spent a part of his exile. The cave shrines of Ajanta and Ellora, built during the Buddhist and Jain periods, offer a splendid view of exquisite statutory,

fine chiseled carving, tableaux in haut and bas-relief. The sculptures of Ellora and the frescoes of Ajanta display scenes from Buddhist and Jain mythology. The best season to visit is between November to February when the weather is at its most pleasant. The rainy season, July - August, and the hot summer months from March to June should be avoided. Gateway of India - is the icon of Mumbai. It was designed by Wittet and is built in the 16 the century architectural style of Gujarat. The structure was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India in 1911. The Gate was formally opened in 1924. Today it is a famous haunt for residents of Mumbai. Marine Drive - is a promenade along the waterfront. Also called the Netaji Subhas Chandra Marg, the drive runs from Nariman Point to Chowpatty beach and ends at the Malabar hills. The drive is built on the land reclaimed from the Back Bay along the Arabian coast. An ideal place to watch the sunset. At night, the drive looks as though it were set with gems. No wonder it is called the Queen’s necklace! Hanging Gardens - The Hanging Gardens or the Ferozshah Mehta Gardens were laid in 1881 on top of a reservoir on the Malabar Hills. A wonderful vantage point to view the city, the nearby Kamla Nehru Park gives the gardens company. From the park one can have the best possible views of the Marine drive and Chowpatty. The Kamla Nehru Park was laid in 1952 and was developed mainly as a park for children Prince Of Wales Museum - was also built to commemorate the visit of King George V. The building is build in Indio-Sarcenic style and is set in an well-laid ornamented garden. The central hall boasts of a huge dome, which is believed to be inspired by the Golgumbaz. The museum was opened in 1923 and has an impressive collection of artifacts from Elephanta Island, Jogeshwari Caves, terracotta figurines from the Indus valley, ivory carvings, statues, a large collection of miniatures and a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. The museum is divided into three sections: art, archaeology and natural history. Victoria Terminus - One of the most imposing buildings in Mumbai, it was from Victoria terminus that the first train rolled out towards Thane. Built in the Gothic mould, a large statue of Queen Victoria is kept at the entrance of the terminus. A Statue of Progress surmounts the main structure. The clock on top of the tower is 3.19m in diameter. Carvings of peacocks, gargoyles, monkeys, elephants and British lions are engraved among the buttresses, domes, turrets, spires and stained glass windows. The terminus looks more like a cathedral than a terminus. Ellora Caves - It took over five centuries for the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain monks to chisel out these monasteries, temples, chapels and decorate them with remarkable imagination and details. These caves run North-South and take on a golden radiance in the late afternoon sun. Ajanta Caves - Till the 19th century, these caves were hidden under thick forest growth. These caves are the representation of Buddhist philosophy, which was etched on the walls of the caves. The caves were built between 2 nd century B.C to 7th century A.D. The 30 Chaityas and Viharas have paintings, which illustrate the life and incarnations of Buddha. Lonavla and Khandala - are two hill resorts near Mumbai. These twin places are just 106 kms from Mumbai. In recent years, the heavy flow of weekenders and conference groups from Mumbai has changed the demography of the area dramatically. Khandala gives a good view of the rainwater fed waterfalls while Lonavla acts as the base for the Karla & Bhaja Caves. These caves date back to the 2 nd century B.C and are one of the finest examples of rock temples by the Hinayana sect in India.

KARNATAKA Spice, sandal, silk and scenery merge to present a state enmeshed in a glorious blend of the old and new- Karnataka, formerly known as Mysore. Home to 48.6 million people, it has been able to preserve its past heritage and embrace the vision of the future with equal élan. Set against the Arabian Sea with the Decca plateau in the background, the state consists of a narrow coastal strip backed by the monsoon drenched Western Ghats and a drier, cooler interior plateau that turns arid in the far north. Bangalore, the capital city is a thriving metropolis dotted with lush gardens, beautiful flowered lined avenues and stately buildings. The atmosphere is more Western than traditional Indian.

Pubs, beer bars, discos are the major happening places in the town. Dubbed the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ it is a major industrial and commercial center well known for its scientific and research institutions.
Karnataka has some of the most magnificent monuments, temples, palaces, and beaches in India. The Bull Temple at Bangalore, the Hoyselaswera temple at Halebid and the famous Krishna temple at Udupi are some the major tourist attractions. Tipu’s Summer Palace is a beautiful cool retreat of wood and soaring arches. A visit to the Chamundi Temple atop a hill overlooking Mysore and the monolithic, black, Nandi Bull halfway up is a must. The people are fun-loving, the pace of life is brisk and it is one of India’s most progressive and liberal states as far as attitudes go. The major festivals include Dussehra when palaces are illuminated and processions of bedecked elephants accompany the image of the goddess Chamundeshwari through the streets. The Vijaynagar festival held in June is the celebration of the glory of the Vijaynagar Empire. The Karga festival at Bangalore is held in April where eminent dancers and musicians perform at festivals held at Pattadakal and Bijapur. The state witnesses a hot, tropical climate during the summers and the winters are generally cold. The best time to plan a visit to Karnataka is between September and February when the weather is mild, pleasant and cheerful. Vidhana Soudha - is one of the most imposing landmarks of Bangalore. The entire edifice is built of Bangalore granite and is a tribute to temple architecture. Housing the Legislative Chambers of the State Government, this 46-m high seat of the government is one of Bangalore’s most important buildings. Mr. Kengal Hanumanthaiah the then chief minister of Mysore decided to construct the Vidhana Soudha entirely along Indian style of architecture. There are four domes on all the four corners. The four-headed lion, the symbol of Indian sovereignty, overshadows the main entrance. It houses 22 departments and 300 rooms. The Fort and Tipu Sultan’s Palace - is noted for its beautifully carved arches in Islamic style and for the well-preserved Ganapati temple. Originally built by Kempe Gowda in 1537, it was fortified by Tipu Sultan. Hyder Ali, Tipu’s father had imprisoned David Baird along with a number of British army officers here. Tipu Sultan’s Palace close to the fort is now a museum. However, only parts of the fort now remain. The palace, started by Hyder Ali and completed by Tipu, took a decade to plan and construct. This two-storeyed ornate

wooden structure with pillars, arches and balconies flanked by gardens, was one of Tipu Sultan’s summer retreats. The eastern and western projecting balconies of the upper floor contained the seat of state from where Tipu conducted affairs of state. Lal Bagh Gardens - This 240 acre expanse of greenery forms one of India’s most beautiful gardens. This is another triumph for Hyder Ali. He laid out this famous botanical garden and his son added horticultural wealth to them by importing trees and plants and rare trees brought from far off Persia, Afghanistan and France. The Glass House -inspired by the Crystal Palace, London. - Is at the heart of the gardens. This is the venue for flower shows held here every January and August. Cubbon Park - was laid out in the heart of the cantonment in 1864. Since then fountains and an august bandstand add to its list of attractions. But the most important aspect of Cubbon Park is its newer buildings that have added beauty and cultural wealth. Lush green lawns, shady flowering trees, and vibrant flowerbeds, make Cubbon Park an ideal place for morning joggers. Mangalore - is a vision of palm-fringed beaches, lush green fields and enchanting forests. On the east, the soaring Western Ghats and the mighty Arabian Sea roaring along its western shores, are its neighbors. With an important port, this coastal town is a major commercial centre .The lifeline of the district, the National Highway No 17 almost runs parallel to the sea for over 95 kms in the district. Nrityagram Dance Village - is a dance village founded by Protima Gauri, one of the finest Odissi dancers of India. 30 km from Bangalore via Tumkur Road towards Hessarghatta, she based this village on the model of a traditional gurukula system of education of ancient India. Here students from all over the world are trained in various Indian dance forms including Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Kuchipudi. Every year, in the first week of February, Nrityagram conducts the Vasantha Habba or the festival of spring. Leading musicians and dancers from all over the country participate in the festival bringing students and the dance lover in touch with the best musical talents in the country. Belgaum Cantonment - still retains its old glow, serenity and a sort of isolation. Its ancient shrines, Gothic-style ivy-covered bungalows, cottages, school buildings, beautiful woods and gardens peplum and banyan trees give a feeling of dusk even at noon-time. Its flowering shrubs are a photographer’s delight. Wide, tree-lined avenues make excellent ‘walks’ mark it. TAMIL NADU Tamil Nadu is a civilization unharmed by the ravages of time. Its very location at the southern tip of India made it impervious to those who came with the purpose to loot, plunder and destroy. As a result it remains the most ‘Indian’ part of India, showing little or no outside influence. The land of majestic, ornate temples, vast beaches and courteous people, its capital city is Chennai. Home to the early Dravidian art and culture, a trip through Tamil Nadu is a temple hop between places like Kanchpuram, Chidambram, Tiruchirapalli, Madurai, Kanyakumari and Rameshwaram. It is a vegetarian’s paradise and the people are zealous guardians of Tamil culture, which they regard as superior to the other existing ones. Chennai, houses Fort St. George, built by the British in 1653, St. Mary’s Church which happens to be the first English Church in India and the Marina Beach, said to be the longest beach in the world. The shore temple at Mahabalipuram sculpted from a single rock, shows enthralling scenes of everyday life. The circular Church of Little Mount, Theosophical Society is

good examples of an amalgam of Hindu and Christian Architecture. The Government Museum and Art Gallery has a good archaeological section and an excellent selection of South Indian Bronzes. Tanjore is another place worth visiting, well known for its Brahadeeshwer Temple and the creation of south Indian musical Instruments and Tanjore plate artisans. Madurai, saturated with sculpture and stone pillars, and Rameshwaram, from where Prince Ram reputedly launched his invasion to ancient Ceylon are a must see. Trichy is famed or its cheroots. Kanyakumari is the Southern tip of India where a Temple to the Virgin Goddess and a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi are built. It also has a beautifully designed memorial to the Hindu Missionary Swamy Vivekananda. Ooty, Kodaikanal and Yercaud is the favorite getaways if you are through with the heat of the plains. In wild life sanctuaries like those of Mudumalai, bison, jackals, deer, panthers and scaly anteaters are likely to be seen. A visit to Tamil Nadu would be incomplete without having experienced the beauty of the dance form special to it- Bharatanatyam and without buying exquisite Kanjeevaram silk sarees. The weather stays hot and humid throughout the year due to its nearness to the sea. The best time to visit is from January to September. Fort St. George - houses a fascinating collection of Raj memorabilia in the Fort Museum. The British East India Company built the original fort in 1653. The fort has since then had a facelift; it now functions as the Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly. The banquet hall upstairs was built in 1802 and has paintings of Fort St. George’s governors and officials of the British regime. Visitors can also see Robert Clive’s House in the vicinity. It is now the pay accounts office that has Clive’s corner open to the public. Marina Beach - is a sandy stretch that extends for 13 km in Madras. It is the pride of the city and is the ideal place to enjoy the cool evening breeze. On the sea front are memorials dedicated to political leaders and freedom fighters. Noted impressive IndoSaracenic styled buildings like the Chepauk Place, once home of the Nawabs of Carnatic, the Madras University and the Presidency College add considerable grandeur to the spot. The Aquarium, Light House and promenade of walks, gardens and drives enhance the attraction of the place. Meenakshi temple - of Madurai is an excellent example of Dravidian architecture, with gopurams or multi pillared halls, covered from top to bottom, in a profusion of multicolored images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures. The temple can be entered from any of the four sides. It occupies an area of around six hectares. The museum or the Temple Art Gallery, is located within the temple and has beautiful stone and brass images, examples of South Indian scripts and friezes. Kodaikanal- is not called the “The Princess of Hill Stations” for nothing. Its evergreen flora, fascinating natural beauties and the Kurunji flowers that bloom once in 12 years makes the place a wonderful mountain retreat. Thickly wooded slopes, deep valleys, waterfalls, streams and marshes make it a veritable paradise for those who love a quiet and pleasant holiday. There are a number of picnic spots in the midst of picturesque scenery. It is an ideal health resort as well. Kamakshi Amman temple - Built by the kings of the Chola Empire in 14 A.D, this temple is the focus of religious activities in Kanchipuram. Unlike the other temples that are governed either by the Department of Archaeology, Government of India, or the Hindu Temples, the Sankara Mutt closely controls the Kamakshi Amman temple. The significant features of this temple are the Golden Vimaanam

(Tower), the display and procession of the Gold Chariot and the art gallery that features the history of Sri Adisankara and the Sankara Mutt. Auroville - Situated in a bustling city of a quarter-million people, the Ashram is not an isolated retreat secluded from the world but a vibrant centre. The dynamic character of the community reflects the aim of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga. Work as an offering to the Divine is an essential aspect of the Yoga, and Ashramites keep themselves useful work every day. Swami Vivekananda rock - This grand memorial to the great Indian Philosopher Swami Vivekananda is on one of the twin rocks jutting out from the sea about 200 meters offshore. There is a Dhyana Mandapam where one can sit in a serene atmosphere and meditate. Ferry services are available to reach the memorial. KERALA Kerala is situated on the southwest coast of India, sandwiched between the Lakshwadeep Sea and the Western Ghats. The country is full of rice fields, mango and cashew nut trees and above all, coconut palms. Kerala is also an important center for spices and this has drawn merchants of spices to stop here. Its wide contact with the outside world has given the Malayalam (the natives of Kerala) their cosmopolitanism. This is also the state with the highest literacy rate. Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, is a relaxed place and has a different culture from Kovalam or Varkala. There is, however, little in the way of ‘sights’ in the city. Kovalam, on the other hand, is a traditional Kerala village offering fresh fish, toddy and fruit and the ideal place for sunbathing travelers. Varkala is an embryonic beach resort 41 km north of Thiruvananthapuram. The town and railway station are two km from the beach, which lies beneath towering cliffs and boasts a mineral water spring. The Janardhana Temple is another tourist attraction. In the Western Ghats is the famous Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. It has a nice lake and has opportunities to see wildlife at close quarters. In the Eravikulam National Park you can see the rare, but almost tame Nilgiri Tahr. In northern Kerala, Cochin, St Francis Church is India’s oldest European-built church. The remains of Vasco da Gama lie here. Kerala also gave birth to the dance form, Kathakali. It is a dance exclusively meant for men. It has as subject the battles between the gods and the demons and is dynamic and dramatic in character. Sabarimala - in Pathanamthittha is the best-known pilgrimage destination in Kerala. This holy shrine located high up in the Sahyadri mountains is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa and attracts pilgrims from all over India. Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple - Located in the capital, Thiruvananthapuram, it is dedicated to Padmanabha or Lord Vishnu. According to legend, it was built in stages to house an idol discovered in the forest by a devotee. Kovalam - is one of the most popular beaches in India. Kovalam means a grove of coconut trees and truly the coconut trees along the beaches gives it a ravishing look. The palm-fringed bays in secluded coconut groves, promises a relaxed stay. The boundless blue waters of the Arabian Sea and miles of white sands washed away by the surf at the feet of the stalwart palms and the rocky promontories makes Kovalam a beach paradise.

Allapuzha - Earlier there used to be just one canal between the backwaters and the sea. Pathiramanal, ‘the midnight sands’, is a beautiful little island in the Vembanad Lake, accessible only by boat. Ambalapuzha, the Krishna temple here, 14 km away, is a fine example of the state’s architectural style and is famed for its ‘Payasam.’ Bekal beach- Situated at the northern tip of Kerala, Bekal is a beach destination of the future. Bekal fort standing between two long, classically beautiful palm fringed beaches is nearby. Its tall observation towers (huge cannon emplacements belonging to the Kadampa Dynasty), offers a panoramic view of the Lakshadweep Sea. This is one of the largest forts of Kerala and had been under the control of various powers including Vijayanagar, Tipu Sultan and the British. Kollam - an old seaport town on the Arabian coast, stands on the Ashtamudi Lake. With a commercial reputation from the days of the Phoenicians and the Romans, it is a typically small Kerala market town. It’s the southern gateway to the backwaters of Kerala. Kochi - The commercial capital of Kerala and the most cosmopolitan. Located strategically on the east-west route, it is also Kerala’s major port. Fort Kochi, Santa Cruz, the Dutch Palace, Jewish synagogue and Bolaghatty Island are some of its landmarks. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary - lies 60 km away from Idukki, 190 km from Kochi. The sanctuary is the natural habitat of elephants, deer, bison and wild boar. It is also a tiger reserve. There are opportunities for trekking, elephant rides and boating. Guruvayoor temple - is one of the most sacred pilgrim centers of Kerala, 29 kms northwest of Thrissur. Its main attraction is the Krishna Temple or the Guruvayoorappan Temple. Kozhikode - About 15 minutes drive from the city centre is a place called ‘Dolphin’s Point’ where one can see dolphins playing in the sea, early in the morning. The Beach is about 2 km from the town center. Vaikom - 40 km away from Kottayam, is famed for the Siva temple, which according to legend was built by Parasurama, the mythical creator of Kerala. The 12-day Ashtami festival falls in November/December. ANDHRA PRADESH Andhra Pradesh is a symbol of the true spirit of Indian secularism where people of all faiths -Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu form a symphony of religions. Once among the poorest states of the Indian Union, it’s transformation to one of the most industrialized states has been slow but steady. The state stands on the high Decca plateau, sloping down to the low-lying coastal regions in the east where the Godavri and Krishna meet the Bay of Bengal. The Qutb Shahi Kings built the capital Hyderabad, in 1590. Once here visit the Char Minar literally meaning the Four Quartets was built in 1591 to commemorate the end of a plague in Hyderabad. At the Safdar Gunj Museum are on display art, artifacts and trinkets of a wide variety. Also worth visiting are the Golconda Forts and the Qutb Shahi Tombs and the Mecca Masjid Mosque. Hyderabad answer to Victoria and Albert Museum is the Salar Jung Museum, built by Mir Yusaf Ali. It has more than 35,000 exhibits including works of sculpture, wood drawing, religious objects, armory and weaponry. The Nehru Zoological Park is on an area of more than 1.2 square kms and is home to many exotic, rare species. The Hussain Sagar Lake separates Hyderabad from its twin city of Secunderabad. Vishakapatnam is one of the fastest growing port

cities in India Its best known sight is the Dolphin’s Nose which is a rocky promontory jutting out into the harbor. At Nagarjunasagar is Nagarjunakonda where Buddhist ruins have been found from the waters of the dam and re-sited from the island. Tirupati, the holiest of holy places of ‘Indian worship is situated at the base of the Tirumala hills. It holds the temple of Lord Venkatweshwara where innumerable faithful line unto to have an audience (Darshan) with their lord. It is one of the few holy places where access is permitted to even a Non-Hindu. Called the Abode of Highest Peace the Prasantha Nilayam Ashram of Lord Sri Sathya Sai Baba at Puttaparthi has many followers to its faith. It offers excellent food and accommodation to its visitors/devotees. The best time to visit is between October and February. Char Minar - This magnificent monument built by Quli Qutub Shah, is synonymous with Hyderabad. Quli Qutb Shah built it in 1591. To mark the end of the plague that had ravaged the city. Four graceful minarets from which ‘Char Minar’ derives its name, literally meaning ‘Four Minars’ soar to a height of 48.7 m above the ground. All around the Char Minar is the bustling Laad bazaar selling pearl, antiques, perfume and ittar. Golconda Fort - This massive fort of perimeter 11 km has the history of medieval Deccan written in its ruins. The fort was the capital of Qutb Shahi kings throughout their rule. Once famous for its diamond market, the ‘Kohinoor’, the largest diamond in the world, was quarried here. Salar Jung museum - A one-man collection of antiques, the artifacts on display are unique and range through varied periods of time and places in the world. The collection at this unique museum was put together by Nawab Mir Yusaf Ali Khan (Salar Jung III), the Prime Minister of the Nizam. It contains about 43,000 art exhibits and 50,000 books from all over the world. Tirupati - is one of the most revered Hindu pilgrimage centers of India. It is an unique example of the Dravidian architecture. The temple has an exquisitely carved Gopuram facing the east. The Vimana is completely covered with the gold plate, known as Ananda Nilayam. The annual festival, held in September every year, attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the country. Medak - The famous landmark of Medak is the Church. It is known for its pointed stained-glass windows, which depict the story of the Bible, in blazing coloured pictures. Borra caves - Borra is a village in the Ananthagiri hills in the southeast corner of Srungavarapukota Taluk, about 29 kms from Araku Valley and 90 kms from Visakhapatnam. The caves at this place, popularly known as the Borra Caves are of historical importance and religious value. Dating back to a million years, they present a breathtaking display of naturally sculpted splendour, in superb stalagmite formations. Nagarjuna Sagar - Nagarjuna Sagar in an important Buddhist site located 150 km from Hyderabad. Today, Nagarjuna Sagar is known for the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam the world’s tallest masonry dam that supplies water to over 10 lakhs acres of land. It was while the dam was being built that the ruins of an ancient Buddhist civilization were excavated. Some of the relics unearthed have been preserved on a picturesque island called Nagarjuna Konda, located in the centre of a manmade lake. Thousand-Pillar Temple - The famous thousand-pillar temple, built in 1163 AD, by king Rudra Deva is a significant monument situated near the Hanamkonda-Warangal highway. One thousand richly carved pillars and a magnificent black basalt Nandi are unique to this temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Surya.

Warangal Fort- was built during the 13th century by the Kakatiya king Ganapati Deva and his daughter Rudramma. Some of the remains that stand here to this day include four huge stone gateways and several exquisite pieces of sculpture. ORISSA Each morning the sun breaks over the Konark temple, bringing to life one of the most beautiful states of India- Orissa. The Sun Temple, also known as the black pagoda, was constructed in the 13th century AD. It was conceived as a celestial chariot of the Sun God, drawn on 12 pairs of elaborately orated wheels, driven by seven spirited horses. The temple, in its exceptional sense of proportion and its near perfect execution of postures of the icons, reflects the aesthetic and architectural vision of the people of the land. Blessed with the creativity of thousands of artists who have given expression to the miles of unspoilt coastline, lakes, ancient monuments, temples through their artisanship, Orissa is a land of plenty. The beauty of Orissa unravels like a story through its monuments, landscape and the history. Kalinga, as Orissa was known in ancient times, remained unconquered till King Ashoka captured this state. Shattered by the bloodshed, he denounced the world to follow the path of Buddhism. Today, a sense of calmness and peace winds through the air, like the notes of a flute, filling one with joy. Orissa has preserved its past in about 500 exquisitely carved temples and monuments. Pilgrims looking for peace and happiness throng Bhubaneswar and Puri. The annual rath Yatra has for years attracted devotees from India and abroad. Konark or the Black Pagoda, with its gorgeous Sun temple, is famous for the beautiful and quite explicit erotic imagery. Lake Chilika is an attraction not only to the tourists but also to the migratory birds. This lake is a treasure house of aquatic flora and fauna. Odissi, the dance tradition with its origins in Orissa is well known for its beauty, elegance and grace. The intricate mime and rhythm blend giving birth to numerous graceful expressions. The fabulous handicrafts and paintings add colour to simple life style of people in Orissa. The most popular crafts Patta-Chitra and palm-leaf etching serve as souvenirs from the state. The silver filigree and Applique are distinct art forms of great detail holding the onlooker in awe. The artists of Orissa still live and work in remote tribal habitations, small villages, and traditional pilgrimage towns throughout the state. It is in these little nooks and corners of the state that traditions thrives and flourishes to its full extent. Puri - Other than the attraction of its glorious beach, this city by the sea is a major pilgrim centre in India. Adi Shankara founded one of the Peethas here. Puri’s beach, a major draw, is ideal for swimming and surfing. Jagannath temple - The temple has contributed the word ‘Juggernaut’ to the English language. The fame of Puri is mainly due to this 12th century temple. The annual Rath Yatra is a considerable tourist attraction. Within its precincts are the smaller temples of Vimala, Lakshmi, and Vishnu and of innumerable gods and goddesses. Sun Temple - The Temple Chariot at Konarak of the Sun God (Black Pagoda is a 13 th century architectural marvel. Designed as a celestial chariot of the Sun God, it sits on twelve pairs of wheels and is ‘drawn’ by seven horses. The main sanctum is in ruins, but the Dance Hall and Audience Hall are intact. This legendary temple has sculptures of great beauty, covering all aspects of life. Mukteswara Temple - was built in the 10th century. It is well known for its stone arch at the entrance and is richly sculpted. With tales from the Panchatantra carved on it, the temple is a magnificent example of Orissan architecture.

Rock-Cut Caves - are also seen on the hills of Khandagiri and Udayagiri, which are about 8 km from Bhubaneswar. The doublestoreyed Rani Gumpha (Queen’s Cave) is the largest cave with ornate carvings. Chilka Lake - is the country’s largest inland lake. One of the many rocky islands inside the lake is Kalijai, with a temple for Goddess Kalijai. A Naval Training Centre is also situated here. Dotted with islands, it is rich in aquatic fauna and is a bird watcher’s paradise when migratory birds arrive in winter. Sunset and Sunrise are memorable experiences here. Boating and fishing facilities are also on offer. One can view the dolphins cavorting at Chilka mouth near Satpara. The Sakhi Gopal temple with a life-size image of Lord Krishna and the Artists’ Village, Raghurajpur, are also nearby. Simlipal National Park - is to the northeast of the state. There are tigers, elephants and various species of deer here. The scenery is beautiful and varied with hills, waterfalls and stretches of undisturbed forest. The Simlipal National Park is also a part of Project Tiger. Chandipur - 16 km away on the coast is a beach resort where the beach extends 5 km at low tide and the sea can be very shallow. It is beautiful spot and is a favorite among picnickers, especially from the surrounding states. Ushakothi Wildlife Sanctuary: This 130 sq. km forest has wild elephants, leopards, bisons, black panthers and many more species of animals and birds. There are watchtowers for visitors for viewing the animals. The sanctuary is 48 km east of Sambalpur on N. H. No. 6. WEST BENGAL The land of fish, curry and rice, West Bengal is saddled with this label. But this decription while closely approximates the people’s concern here, does not even touch their other aspects, their passion, love for a hearty chat and impulsiveness. The Bengalis are an argumentative people, fighting it out over politics, and the other favorite topic, football. But it’s a place full of warmth as well. You may come here as a stranger, but you leave as a friend. The climate is, however, hot - blame the climate for the Bengali’s hotheadedness. The rains come around July. But it is hot and sweaty all the year round. However, Darjeeling, the most popular hill station of the region, and its surrounding areas, prove a respite. Wonderfully cool, its landscape is awe-inspiring. Here, the Himalayan Mountaineering Museum, Ghoom Buddhist Monastery and the Sangla bazaar are major attractions. Kalimpong is another beautiful little town. The dawn breaking over Kanchenjunga, horse riding, tea gardens and treks, all the expectations of a hilly holiday are fulfilled. West Bengal thus promises you both plains and mountain peaks. Calcutta, the capital, is a city not to be missed. Its varied past has a way of lingering on in unexpected corners. The Victoria Memorial at one end of Chowringhee is a marble monument to commemorate Queen Victoria’s India. The Botanical Gardens is full of a wonderful variety of tropical plants. The Eden Gardens stretching over acres of lush green grass is the famous cricket field. A two-day-one-night cruise to the mangrove forests of the Sunderbans entails spending nights in a forest bungalow on stilts and the chance to see the Royal Bengal Tiger. Digha, the beach resort of Calcutta, is easily accessible by road and a wonderful getaway. Victoria Memorial - A splendid example of British architecture, it was built in memory of Queen Victoria and was inaugurated by Prince of Wales in 1921. The Memorial is based on the architecture of the Taj and is built in marble.

Birla Planetarium - is one the earliest planetariums in India and a major tourist attraction. The auditorium has a capacity of 500 and there are daily multi-lingual film shows. The planetarium gives complete information about the Universe and the solar systems. The models kept here are a special attraction for the children. Sahid Minar - A combination of Turkish, Egyptian and Syrian architectural elements, this 48-m high monument was built in 1828. It is located on the northern part of the Maidan. From the top of the Minar, the view of Calcutta is panoramic. But permission is needed from the police headquarters in Lal Bazar to climb the tower. Kali Temple - The present temple was built in 1809 on the site of an ancient temple. It is also known as the Kalighat temple. It is after the name of this temple that the English christened the place, Calcutta, an anglicized form of Kalikata. Eden Gardens - Named after the sister of Alexander, the Eden Gardens is a lush area covered by trees and garden. The major part of the garden is covered by one of the largest and most beautiful stadia of India- the Eden Garden or the Ranji stadium. Ravindra Gallery- This gallery has some of the rare and fine pictures and manuscripts of Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore. The paintings are done in a style peculiar to the poet and attract many visitors. This place is also the venue for various cultural programs. Rabindra Setu (Howrah Bridge) - is one of three bridges on the river Hooghly and is the most famous symbol not only of Calcutta but also of West Bengal. Howrah Bridge is a bridge suspended on pillars. The newly constructed Vidya Sagar Setu is also a cable suspended bridge. It was built to reduce the pressure of traffic on the old Howrah Bridge. The design of the new bridge is very similar to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Belur Math - The Ramakrishna Mission established by Swami Vivekananda has its head Quarters here. Digha - is the nearest sea beach from Calcutta. It takes a six-hour bus journey from Calcutta to reach here. Digha offers every possible attraction for a sea-loving traveler: good surf and golden sands. Just eight kilometer from Digha is the Chandaneshwar Siva Temple across the border in Orissa. Tiger Hills - is the highest point in Darjeeling and it provides the most exotic view of the Kanchenjunga peaks. From this place the other peaks of the Eastern Himalayas can also be seen. The sight of the sun rising from over the Tiger Hills is an unforgettable experience. The first rays of the sun on these peaks of the Great Barriers gives an impression of molten gold having been spread. Mirik - is 52 km from Siliguri and 55 km from the Bagdogra airfield. It is surrounded by tea estates, orange orchards and cardamom plantations. Free from the hustle and bustle of a regular hill station, it attracts the tourists automatically. SIKKIM Cuddled away in the northeast of India, this wonderfully lush green state rests in the lap of the majestic eastern-Himalayas. Veiled in mists and clouds, Sikkim has always shied from the limelight. Home to the highest peak in India, the Kanchenjunga, the state is spread over 7,100 sq. kms and boasts of a spectacular mountain terrain from the foothills of the Himalayas in the extreme south to the high ranges of the north. Amidst the splendor of the mountain peaks, lush valleys, fastflowing rivers, terraced hills, and clear blue skies, it offers a unique experience. Within a matter of hours one can move from the subtropical heat of the lower valleys to the cold of the rugged slopes that reach up to the areas of perpetual snow.

Sikkim is famous for its ancient Buddhist monasteries, Flora and Fauna and the scenery, which is breathtaking. Places of interest include the Do-Drul Chorten, which is one of the most important ‘stupas’ of Sikkim built by Trulsi Rinpoche, head of the Niyingma order, containing rare Mandalas of the Dorje Phurpa Holy Books. It is encircled by 108 prayer wheels. The 200 years old Enchey Monastery blessed by the great titanic master, Lama Druptab Karpa, known for his flying powers, is another famous attraction. Visit the Saramsa Gardens, the home of Sikkim’s many exotic orchids and other rare tropical and temperate plants, making it an ideal picnic spot. Also, move on to the Tashi View Point for a breath-taking view of the mighty Mount Khangchen-Dzonga and Mount Siniolchu. The people of Sikkim love to celebrate. Be it the chasing away of the evil spirit or celebrations on the occasion of the New Year, the Sikkimese do it all with a gay abandon. The Sikkimese culture finds expression in its beautiful arts and crafts. The craftsmen bring to life the cane and bamboo, available in plenty in this land, through their intricate and fascinate work. Tusk-la-khang - is a beautiful and impressive building, which is the principal place of worship and assembly for Buddhists. This royal chapel is the repository of a large collection of Buddhist scriptures. The interiors of this building are covered with murals and lavishly decorated altars with images of the Buddha, Bodhisattvas and tantric deities. The chapel is the site of many festivals and the most interesting of them being the one dedicated to the God of Kanchenjunga. The other important festival is the celebration of New Year, when the famous Black Hat dance is performed demonstrating the triumph of good over evil. Institute of Tibet logy Orchid Sanctuary & Chorten - This institute is the only one of its kind in the world and was established to promote research on the language and traditions of Tibet as well as into Mahayana Buddhism. Adjoining the institute is the orchid sanctuary where most of the 454 species of orchid found in Sikkim can be seen, depending on the season. It has one of the world’s largest collection of books and rare manuscripts on the subject of Mahayana Buddhism plus many religious works of art and finely executed silk embroidered Thankas. About a Km beyond the institute stands a huge chorten whose gold apex is visible from many points in Gangtok. Institute of Cottage Industries - Located high up on the main road above the town, this multicraft institute specializes in producing hand-woven carpets, blankets, shawls, Lepcha weaves, patterned decorative paper and ‘Choktse’ tables exquisitely carved in relief. In addition to the shop here, there is a smaller display of craftwork on the ground floor of the tourist office, which is worth a visit. Deer Park - is another tourist attraction. It is located next to the secretariat building. Here you will find many species of deer and an image of Buddha, which is a replica of that in Sarnath. Enchey Monastery - This 200 old monastery stands three km from the city centre. One should visit this monastery during December when the annual religious dances are performed. Rumtek Monastery- 24 km away from Gangtok, on the other side of the Ranipool valley is the seat of head Kagyu-pa sect- Gyalwa Karmapa. The sect, who was founded in 11th century, has its teachings transmitted orally. The main structure, which was built by Gyalwa Karmapa, is strictly according to architectural designs from the monastery in Tibet, from where he came. The entire structure is covered with murals and is a must-visit if you are interested in Tibetan paintings. The old monastery can still be seen just beyond the new structure though it’s not obvious as it is hidden by trees.

Pemayangtse- is the second oldest monastery in Sikkim. Located at a height of 2085 m, it belongs to the tantric sect Nyingma-pa. It was established in the 8th century. There is two more monasteries- Tashidingand, Phodang that are worth visiting.

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