Called the Oxford of the East, Pune is a bubbling cosmopolitan city. A large student hub, this city loves art, culture and theatre. The Sahyadri hill range of the Western Ghats makes this destination ideal for hiking and wildlife spotting. A shower of rain brings the city alive. The Agha Khan Palace of Pune is a sprawling complex with emerald green gardens and sprawling lawns, perfect for a casual stroll. The Shaniwarwada is an ancient structure built by the Peshwas and the ruins of this marvellous architecture can still be seen in the city. Dedicated to the brave hearts of the Indian Army, the National War Museum is a popular tourist destination and houses militia paraphernalia. Those interested in meditation can get day passes from the Osho International Meditation Resort, which is very popular with tourists. Handcrafted beer, baked goodies at the Kayani Bakery on East Street and eateries such as Touche the Sizzler, Malaka Spice and Dario's will complete your trip here.
A fascinating blend of the Hindu and Muslim cultures, every frame of Hyderabad - the joint capital of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, pulsates with vivid heritage. The metropolitan section of the city comprises of the hilltop Golconda, the modern city of Secunderabad and the old city of Hyderabad which are separated by an artificial lake - Hussain Sagar. On the western end lies the Hi-Tech city or the cyber hub of the city. One of the main attractions of the old Hyderabad city are its frantic bazaars swarming with chai and spice traders. This is a major contributing factor to Hyderabad’s tourism. Among the other places to visit in the city, the iconic Charminar built in 1591 to commemorate Hyderabad’s founding, the opulent Chowmahalla palace and one of the world’s largest mosques - the Mecca Masjid are the most popular. The art enthusiasts could head to the Kalakriti and Birla art galleries. As one of the must-dos in the city, plan a day trip to the Ramoji Film City (Telangana’s film industry - Tollywood). Also, no trip to Hyderabad city will ever be complete without the delectable trifecta of Irani chai, Osmania biscuits and the quintessential biryani.
Hampi (Hampe) is a village and temple town recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as the Group of Monuments at Hampi in northern Karnataka, India. It is situated within the ruins of the city of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Predating the city of Vijayanagara, Hampi continues to be an important religious centre, housing the Virupaksha Temple and several other monuments belonging to the old city. Hampi is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. It is 353 km from Bangalore. The extant monuments of Vijayanagara or Hampi can be divided into Religious, Civil & Military buildings. The Jain temples on Hemakuta hill, the two Devi shrines and some other structures in the Virupaksha temple complex predate the Vijayanagara Empire. Hampi tourism has special importance for the Hanuman devotees, as mythical Kishkinda, the monkey kingdom was located here. You can see plenty of motifs and carvings of Hanuman all around the sites of which some are brilliantly colourful.
A modern-day resort town, the hill station of Lonavala is around 106km from Mumbai. It makes for a great weekend getaway from Pune as well, if staying at luxury hotels, spending time with family at a massive waterpark, roaming the halls of a wax museum and go-carting sound like fun to you. If you are here during the monsoons, do check out the many gurgling waterfalls. You can even drive or take a local bus to the fascinating Karla and Bhaja Caves nearby. But if you would rather do nothing, then driving aimlessly through the green Sahyadri ranges all day, while stopping for the locally-made chikki candy is also a good way of indulging in tourism in Lonavala. There are even some yoga retreats that you can check into for some professionally-guided relaxation. If you have more time, you can combine a trip to Lonavala with a visit to the popular Lohagad and Visapur forts, located in Khandala.
The destination of the World Heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora caves where you find a new meaning of beauty, Aurangabad was named after the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The city is located at the banks of the Kham River and known as one of the most historically significant cities of Maharshtra. You will also find the best museums out here which include the three most important ones. These are the Sunehri Mahal Museum, University Museum and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum. apart from recieving all other modern facilities and amenities during your trip, you can laze away the afternoons in the beauty of the Bani Begum Gardens too.
Kolhapur, in Maharashtra, is a land of temples and regal palaces. The most revered of them is the Mahalaxmi Temple, which has a simple yet fascinating structure. Other temples here are the Temlabai temple, Jyotiba temple and the Bimkhambi Ganesh temple. The Shri Chhatrapati Shahu Museum, which was once the residence of the first Maharaja of the Maratha Empire, is a vivid display of artefacts representing the ancient history of the city. Take a walk through history at the Panhala Fort, which is an imposing fortification believed to have housed Chhatrapati Shivaji himself. Kolhapur is known for its spicy array of Maharashtrian food. Try some of the local delicacies at Padma Guest House, Waman Guest House and Parakh. Being a bustling tourist destination, Kolhapur has a lot to offer when it comes to lodging for all types of budget travellers. Don't forget to take back the local Kolhapuri Chappals, that make for lovely traditional footwear.
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