This monument is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also the most beautiful monument of the whole world. This was a mark of love and honour by Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved and favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is said that Mumtaz Mahal died while giving birth to her 14th child and Shah Jahan was completely shattered. After this he built this beautiful mausoleum about which he himself said that even the sun and the moon would shed tears after seeing it. The main building was built in 8 years after the monument started being built in the year 1631 but the whole complex was completed in the year 1653. The monument is built right on the banks of the River Yamuna and is a symbol of purity and love. The white marble used here makes the place looks even more peaceful when the reflection of the monument falls on the waters of the Yamuna. The red sandstone mosque is also a part of the monument complex. Immediately after the building was completed, Shah Jahan was overpowered by his son Aurangzeb and was imprisoned inside the Agra Fort. He could only sit and look at the Taj Mahal till he died in the year 1666. The building has intricate work especially the beautiful lattice work and the Quran is inscribed on the walls of the monument in the form of beautiful calligraphy. The Persian Garden inside the monument complex is another attraction for the tourists. Every week thousands of people come to visit this place and to experience their dream come true. Some also have to leave disappointed at times but there is alsways a desire left to come back.
This is a beautiful monument which was built by Emperor Akbar in the year 1565. The Red Fort was initially built as an establishment for the army but was later extended and beautified to convert it into a magnificent palace complex. Agra Fort is also known as the Red Fort of Agra as it is completely made of a beautiful red colour sandstone and is also connected to Delhi by a number of networks. There are four prominent gates of this fort but the Amar Darwaza after the name of Maharaja Amar Singh is still used for entry to the fort. Many of the palaces which were earlier built are not found now but among those which still remain are the Jahangiri Mahal, Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, Moti Masjid, Shaha Burj and Mausam Burj. The Jahangiri Mahal is the most attractive out of all palaces. This was a dedication of Akbar to his beloved wife Jodha Bai. It is a multi divisional palace and is still very attractive. This monument is one of the most visited tourist attractions of Uttar Pradesh.
The most important and busiest of all ghats, the Dasaswamedh Ghat is also the oldest of all. The Kashi Viswanathar Temple is on the banks of this ghat and thus is the most popular with locals as well tourists. The main attraction is the evning aarti here and also the sight of people busy in their daily activities and religious rituals such as worships, cremations and others.
This is a beautiful ghat on the southernmost region of Varanasi and is often the most popular among forest tourists, especially students. People make it a must point to take a dip here before they seek the blessings from the Shivalinga under the ancient peepal tree just on the banks of the river ghat. There is also the Asisangameshvar Temple dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva again. The name of this temple is such because it is situated on the confluence point of the Assi. A little distance from the temples there are twin tanks out of which the more popular has always been the Lorkar Tank which is unfortunately almost abandoned now. People however come and bath here during the Lorkar Fair when they seek blessings from the lord mainly for a male child. Another significance of this place is that this is said to be once of the places from where the Hindu religion originated.
A part of the Bada Imambara or the Asafi Imambada, this is a labyrinth structure inside this monument. The Bada Imambada was built by Asaf- ud- Daulah, the Nawab of Awadh. An imambada is a shrine structure which is usually built by the Shia Muslims for the Azadari purpose. This labyrinth structure was made mainly to confuse enemies if they ever tried to attack the devotees during the time of their prayer.
The Bada Imambara(Big) lies in the old city. It was built by the Nawab of Awadh, Asif-ud-Daula in 1784. The complex consists of several buildings. It has a mosque, a labyrinth and a bowli- a step well. The labyrinth, commonly called a maze is one of the main attractions here, it might get a bit confusing to find your way out here with lots of steps, yet people have a great time solving that puzzle. It might become a little difficult if you forget to carry a torch. The Bada Imambara is a great place to see cultural integration in terms of architecture, a Nawab's care for the people of his kingdom and the techniques adopted to ensure maximum security. There is a combined entry fee of Rs. 50 for Indian citizens and with a slight variation for other citizens. There are guides available at a fixed cost. Just outside the Imambara there are small shops where there are goods sold which are made out of camel bone.From the Bada Imambara , it's easy to get a shared rickshaw for Rs. 10 per person to the Chota Imambara(Small). On the way do not forget to stop at the clock tower and the picture gallery which has paintings of the Nawabs who ruled the city.
According to legendary tales, the Manikarnika Kund is even older than the River Ganges and it was created by Lord Vishnu as a symbol of the creation of the Universe. The Manikarnika Ghat was however made by Lord Shiva and is said to be a samsham or cremation ground for the Hindus completely. As it is people say that death in Kashi leads to Moksha and thus people come here to cremate their loved ones and pray for their souuls to attain moksha. This is second in importance to the Dashashwamedha Ghat and is also one of the Pancha Sthans for holy Hindu worship.
Once the gateway of Lucknow, this beautoful monument was commissioned by Nawab Asaf- ud- Daulah under the program of 'food for work' when the city population was facing famine conditions. The gateway is not only famous in India but also all over the world. The British also called it the Turkish Gateway since the model was inspired from some monument in the then region of Constatinopole or modern day Istanbul. The Rumi Darwaza is on the north western portion of the Bada Imambada which was also commissioned by Nawab Asaf- ud- Daulah. The monument was built in the year 184 and was once surrounded by immense natural beauty. The name Rumi Darwaza was given after the word Rumi which is a Persian word meaning Rome. This is because the gateway is modelled after a gateway in Constantinopole which was once the capital of the Eastern Roman Kingdom which was later vanquished by the Turkish rulers.
Jahangir Mahal in Orchha, situated at a separation of around 18 km from Jhansi is a standout amongst the most respected and susceptible royal residences. Arranged in the fortification complex of the Tikamgarh region of Orchha, this seventeenth century landmark was constructed by the King Vir Singh Deo out of appreciation for the Mughal sovereign, Jahangir. The Jahangir Mahal, overlooking the great Betwa River is a three storied structure, fabricated in the Indo-Islamic building style, with more than 100 rooms, and a few patios, hanging Balconies, yards and domes. There are two stone elephants with hanging chimes on the sides of the passageway, which in prior times used to check the passageway of the King. The best time to visit Jahangir Mahal in Orchha is in the middle of October and March, when the temperatures are cool and lovely. The Jahangir Mahal is open for guests between 7:30 am and 6:00 pm.
Taj Mahal and Agra Red Fort
One of the most important monuments in the cultural as well as political scenario of India, the Red Fort is the pride of the capital city of Delhi. It was once the capital of Shahjanabad named after Emperor Shah Jahan. It was during his reign that this awesome monument took its form between 1638 and 1648. The whole structure was named Red Fort or Lal Qila due to the basic material of architecture which is sandstone. It served as the residence of the Mughal Kings for almost 200 years. Later when India became independent, the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru hoisted the National Flag here and the ritual is still carried on. Every year the Independence Day celebrations are organized here.
"The Buddha Park of Ravangla, otherwise called Tathagata Tsal, is located close to Rabong (Ravangla) in South Sikkim area, Sikkim, India. It was developed somewhere around 2006 and 2013 and highlights a 130-foot high statue of the Buddha as its center of attraction.The statue was consecrated on 25 March 2013 by the fourteenth Dalai Lama, and turned into a major stop by on the 'Himalayan Buddhist Circuit'. The statue of the Buddha marks the event of the 2550th conception commemoration of Gautama Buddha. The Buddhist circuit of this park was fabricated here under a State government venture, for boosting pilgrimage.The park region is perfectly finished making abundant walkway, gardens and space for guests to appreciate the quiet environment. The site summons excellent perspectives of the mountains and the profound climate of the area adds to the guest experience. The site likewise has extra base made for a museum meditation centre and for Buddhist gathering. "
This is a city as well as fort in the extending part of Lucknow. This has its mentions as 'Saik' even in the Mahabharata which makes it very clear that this city existed even during the pre- historic Era. The city was further beautified by the Mughal rulers and the Fatehpur Sikri along with Buland Darwaza is an incomparable monument gifted by Mughal Rulers, especially Emperor Akbar. The fort complex is spread over a huge area and consists of mosque, the Dargah of Salim Salim Chisti, the palaces and so many more. The red sandstone structures with a few made of white marble makes it an awesome composition. The lattice work, jharokhas, pillars and facades are intricately carved. Salim Chisti Dargah was a mark of honor by Emperor Akbar to the great Sufi Saint Sheikh Salim Chisti whom he followed whole heartedly.
Next stop was Sikandra - Tomb of Great Akbar!!! It's located just outside the main Agra city and is on the side of Mathura Road!!With blue sky above, the front gate looks beautiful. After entering the main house, the wall and ceiling details will mesmerise you.After this u must have your lunch as it will be 2 o'clock by now!!
Holi at Gokulगोकुल : गोकुल के बच्चे और गोपियाँWidows HoliHere widows come together and celebrate this festival of colors with utmost joy at Pagal Baba Temple.Basic InformationHow to reachNearest Airport: DelhiNearest Railway Station: MathuraGet a shared auto outside railway station/ bus stops for Vrindavan.Stay in Vrindavan during HoliVrindavan has a lot of options to stay, but booking your room in advance is always the best option because most places are packed during the festival. Most of the rooms here are simple and are available at very cheap prices (starting from Rs.300 per night for a double bedroom). My stay : Tulsi Niwas, Vrindavan 7895637108 (To book in advance or to ask directions )Warnings and PrecautionsBe careful with the monkeys as they snatch specs and phones while walking in the streets and you have to buy frooti for them to return not guaranteeing the one piece. You should be careful with the thefts especially man carrying wallets and phone in pockets. When I was there 2 of my friends lost phone and wallet both and there is no sense of FIR and police station visits. Women must be especially cautious in large celebrations and on crowded streets as the combination of color, chaos, alcohol and bhang (an intoxicant made of cannabis leaves) can create an anything-goes atmosphere that men take advantage of, for groping and occasional sexual assaults. With the proper precautions (go out in a group, ideally with some men included) you should be able to keep the celebration a joyous one.If you are travelling alone or your main purpose is photography, prefer the dates 2-3 days before the actual Holi as crowd gets worsened as the holi approaches near and thefts and sexual assaults/ groping become common even inside the temples. Women become the main target for water gun shots and balloons.2018 Holi dates23rd Feb 2018 - Barsana Lathmar Holi24th Feb 2018 - Nandgaon Holi26th Feb 2018- Phoolon wali holi , Banke Bihari Temple 4PM27th Feb 2018 - Gokul Holi & Widows Holi1st March 2018 - Holi at Banke Bihari Temple / Holika Dahan in the evening2nd March 2018 - Holi Procession at Mathura and across India
Since Prem Mandir and ISKON are really close, I decided to visit ISKON again. This time it was more crowded and priests were enchanting bhajans in the corridor as well as in the main temple premises. I never realized how I spent an hour there and wanted to stay more but it was already 9 PM and I had to return to Mathura hence I returned back.
The British Residency was the place that served as a refuge for approximately 3000 British inhabitants during the time of the uprising of 1857. Lucknow was center of all British activities during the siege and the Residency became the monopolistic center of the British for almost 90 days.
Banaras Hindu University Campus
Final day of the trip, we went to BHU - one of the most prestigious institute of our country. The campus is beautiful and youngsters add more life to this place. It has a Vishwanath temple inside, with a peaceful garden. I spotted students studying in its premises. The outlets right at the entrance of this temple serve delicious cold coffee and mango shake! We also visited other famous local temples close to the campus - 'Sankat Mochan' Hanuman mandir, Durga Mata mandir and Manas mandir. I was amazed to see the entire 'Ramayana' engraved on the walls of Manas temple! Do not miss to have 'Banarasi Meetha paan'. Also, do have the famous sweet 'Launglata' and lassi at the store - 'Pehelvaan launglata and lassi wale' in Lanka. The smell and taste of mud oozed out of a 'kulhad' tantalizes ones taste buds. Foodgasm at its peak! ;) My Varanasi diary comes to an end here. Enjoy mystical Banaras!
Ganga Aarti at Haridwar
Jai Ganga Maa Har Ki Pauri is a well known ghat on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar in Uttarakhand state in India. This worshipped spot is the real historic point of the sacred city of Haridwar. Truly, "Har" signifies Ruler Shiva who is said to be a god according to the school named Shaivite Rishav School of Hindu religious philosophy. The Ruler Shiva and Lord Vishnu are said to have gone to the Brahmakund in Har Ki Pauri in the Vedic times. There is an expansive foot shaped impression said to have a place with Lord Vishnu on a stone wall. It is believed that it is the exact spot where the Ganges leaves the mountains and enters the fields. The ghat is on the west bank of Ganges channel through which the Ganges is redirected just toward the north. Har Ki Pauri is likewise the range where a huge number of travelers unite and the celebrations begin amid the Kumbha Mela, which happens at regular intervals.
Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah
Itimad-ul-Daulah is among the list of places to visit in Agra. The attraction is a tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, the grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal. It is also known as Baby Taj. Nur Jahan, the daughter of Mirza, who married Jehangir was the one who got the tomb constructed in the year 1622-1628. The finely carved jali on the marble is definitely something that will stay in your memory forever. This structure made by the Mughals is also a completely marble one. Also, it was the first tomb that was built on the river Jamuna banks. Islamic architecture is what the place speaks of. The fine craftsmanship is something that is not to be missed. The place is quite calm and peaceful and gives you a good quality time with yourself and your closed ones.
Aminabad is a market place in the heart of Lucknow and it is often called the 'Chandni Chowk of Lucknow'. This market has been in existence since the time of the Awadhi Nawabs and is still as popular and even more. You must have heard about the Lucknow Chikan work and embroideries which is famous all over the world. This is what you find at its best here. Starting from clothing fabrics to linen you will find all the authentic stuff here. You also get a lot of food outlets selling traditional sweets and snacks out here. Over all if you want to do a lot of budget shopping and are not at all brand concious this is the perfect place to visit in Lucknow.
Okhla Bird Sanctuary
December1. OKHLA BIRD SANCTURYOkhla Bird Sanctuary is a bird sanctuary at the Okhla barrage over Yamuna River. It is situated in Noida, Gautam Buddh Nagar district, on Delhi-Uttar Pradesh state border and known as a haven for over 300 bird species, especially waterbirds.
Take a couple of hours and head to Sheroes Hangout at the Taj View Chowraha. A pay-what-you-want cafe run by acid-attack victims, Sheroes Hangout also doubles up as a rehabilitation centre for other acid-attack survivors. Along with Rupa and Ritu, three other women run the cafe and share all responsibilities from cooking and cleaning to managing accounts.
One of the oldest educational institutions of Uttar Pradesh, this was earlier known as the Uttara Kasi University or the Hindu College. This is the public Central University of Benaras and the land for this place was donated by the formal ruler of kashi who is known as the Kashi Naresh. This is also one of the most prominent universities of the country and still partly follows the system of Vedic Education like in the early days. They have a very large campus which is spread over many acres of land. Within this there are not only the university units but also a number of big trees under which classes are helf till now. This is one of the very universities where you can opt for a specialization in Vedic scriptures and studies and the very learned Pandits here will train you with a lot of discipline. Apart from this they have all sorts of subjects from Science, Arts, Commerce, Economics, Astrology, Astronomy, Literature, Philosophy and much more. Modern developments and technologies along with very modernized studying techniques have found very distinctive positions in this university in spite of the traditional methods of teaching in existence.
Golden Temple (Kashi Vishwanath)
Also known as just the Vishwanath Temple, this is the one temple around which the whole city partly revolves around. This is not only the most important place for Hindu pilgrimage but also one of the most important temples all round the world. The mention of kashi was even there during the Mahabharata but the temple was built during the 18th Century by the the Maratha queen named Rani Ahilyabai Holkar. This temple is also known as the Golden Temple because of the gold wrapped main spire of the temple. There are smaller shrines too inside the temple complex and the evening aarti here on the Dashashwamedh Ghat is a sight to behold.
Brown Bread Bakery Varanasi
The Bakery was started in the year 2006 as the first organic bakery in Varanasi. This was started keeping in mind the campaign of Learn for Life- Another World is Possible. In the year 2011, the Organic Bakery Restaurant and the German Bakery were started jointly for public service. The team here tries to use almost 100% farm fresh ingredients in all their bread and food products. The vegetables, fruits and grains are supplied by local farmers who have been certified by the authority. The jams and muesli are made by the women empowerment team on their own. The cheeses are all brought down from Himachal Pradesh, South India, Nepal and Sikkim. They also have an awesome bakery shop where all the ace quality products are offered to the customers.
Kargil War Memorial
Dras War Memorial, also known as the Vijaypath, is a war memorial built by the Indian Army, located in Dras, in the foothills of the Tololing Hill. The memorial is located about 5 km from the city centre across the Tiger Hill. It is located on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway 1D. The main attraction of the whole memorial is the Sandstone wall, in the open, which has the names of all the Indian army personnel, who laid their lives during the Kargil war besides there is also a souvenir shop. Visitors to the memorial can also see from there, some of the peaks that the Indian army captured back from Pakistan. A giant national flag, weighing 15 kg was hoisted at the Kargil war memorial to commemorate the 13th anniversary of India’s victory in the war
As I come out of the Taj, the dusk approached and checked-in to my backpacker hostel. Then I strolled on to the Sadar Bazaar. You can buy leather shoes and taste all kinds of savouries in a gully in Sadar Bazaar. And you must try the restaurant Mama's Franky House. I loved the Lucknowi Biriyani and Lacha Paratha over there.
Triveni Sangam Allahabad
This is the confluence place of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati in Allahabad. This is also the place where the Mahakumbh fair is celebrated and is known to be the largest Human gathering which takes place anywhere on Earth. The best part is that people come and be a part of this gathering irrespective of which caste, creed or religion they belong to. People enjoy the colours of humanity here and nothing else. The Ardh Kumbh takes place every six years in Haridwar and Allahabad and the Purna Kumbh takes place every 12 years in Allahabad, Haridwar, Nashik and Ujjain. This goes on for 5 holy days when people come and take a dip in the Triveni Sangam which is said to wash away a lifetime of sins.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
After taking rest of around 2 hours I got ready to visit famous Kashi Vishwanath temple.Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the most important place to see in Varanasi. The history of this sacred shrine can be traced back to 3500 years. The temple is one of the 12th Jyotirlingas, which are considered the holiest Shiva temples. The Linga is the presiding deity here and the temple is quadrangle, surrounded by temples of other gods. The temple once had a golden spire and domes; hence it was also called the Golden Temple.I reach temple at around 7 am and it was less crowded. After having darshan of Lord Shiva in Kashi Vishwanath Temple I headed towards the Ganges ghat.
Panchi Petha Store
The city is dotted with several Petha stores claiming to be the original Panchi Petha. Nevertheless, most of the sweets are delectable and are good to carry home for friends. I stopped at a Petha store near the Sadar Market and was satisfied with my choice. There are far too many flavours of Petha available: chocolate, elaichi, mango.
This is India's longest 6- lane controlled accessway. This expressway connects Agra with Greater Noida and the main purpose was to decrease the travel time between these two places and also reduce the traffic congestion that usually used to occur on this way. The plan of this expressway was first proposed by Mayawati and was widely accepted when she was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The project was later completed during the rule of Akhilesh Yadav as the Chief Minister. This is an extremely urban experessway with SOS Booths and CCTV Camera at a distance of every 5 kilomteres.