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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Last but not the least, at the end of the trip do stop by at Aminabad where you can try the very famous Tundey Kabab, vegetarians do not be upset there is a shop right opposite Tundey Kabab called Ram Mithai Center which serves equally good vegetarian kababs and vegetable biryani.Lucknow, may be divided but when you see it as a whole the city has a great combination of the old and the new. The heritage shows a perfect blend of various religions and forms of architecture.This city deserves to be seen as every street has its own story to tell.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Tomb of Akbar the Great
Eclipsed by the Taj, lies another monument of great historical importance which is highly overlooked by tourists coming to Agra. Akbar's Tomb is near the outskirts of the city and not as well maintained as it should be. The campus is peaceful ,with gardens and a single mausoleum building.
Dashaswmedh Ghat Banaras
The road surrounding the Dashaswamedha Ghat is known as the Dashaswmedh Ghat Road. This is the place of the Kashi Viswanath Temple which is the holiest pilgrimage site for the Hindus. This road is lined with hotels, restaurantsm, sweet shops and pan shops. There are also a number of narrow alleys surrounding this place which is a mark of Benaras.
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.
Kalakriti Cultural & Convention Center
With just 43 hours left in my hand, I decided to step on the pedal before losing more time and headed for the live cultural extravaganza ‘Mohabbat – The Taj’ at Kalakriti. Depicting the love saga of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz, the dance drama beautifully captured the grandeur of the Mughals and concluded with the largest replica of the Taj Mahal emerging slowly from beneath the stage by a hydraulic lift.Day 2Filling my stomach with as much food as I could, my second day started early as I headed to Fatehpur Sikri. Built by Emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri is 51 kilometres from Agra and was the alternate capital of Mughals but the short-lived capital had to be abandoned soon after Akbar’s death due to water issues.The fortified town is the home of a stunning white mosque nestled between the red sandstone walls, the iconic Buland Darwaza and the palaces of each of Akbar’s three wives – one Hindu, one Muslim and one Christian.After bidding farewell to my wonderful Sherpa, my destination next was Sikandra, the sandstone tomb of Akbar. The resting abode of the greatest of Mughal emperors, Sikandra has three sandstone minarets with intricate geometric designs made from white marble and spotting a deer in the lush green lawns is not rare.Stepping from one mausoleum to another, I was soon standing at Itmad-ud-Daulah, commonly known as Baby Taj in Agra. Built by Nur Jahan, wife of Jehangir, for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg, the mausoleum, though not as majestic as Taj, is a delicate structure with intricate marble lattice screens.As per history books, one could catch a glimpse of the Taj from the mausoleum but thanks to urbanisation, all you can see now is the drying Yamuna, multiple bridges, webs of wires and ugly urban structures.As the clock struck 4pm, visiting Taj seemed like a horrible idea but with almost 24 hours gone since I had stepped into Taj city, my desperation to catch a glimpse took me to Mehtab Garden. Even though not as picturesque as I imagined it to be, Mehtab Graden was a nice break from all the rut of the city and the stone structures. Giving a magnificent view of the Taj without all the rush, the garden also holds some remains pieces of black marble that had been laid by Shah Jahan for the construction of his mausoleum – A black Taj. As my stomach growled by now, I headed to Sheroes for a refill. If you want luxurious food, it might not be the best place to go but do go here for the commendable women who run the café and to support their cause. Run by acid attack survivors, Sheroes also comes with a unique concept of pay-as-you-want. Located at Taj Ganj, the pasta and cold coffee here is amazing.With refilled stomach and renewed energy, I was soon standing in front of the massive and imposing Agra Fort. The construction of one of the finest fort of India was started by Akbar, continued by Jehangir and finished by Shah Jahan. The fort has several stories hidden in it. While the parts constructed by Akbar and Jehangir are of red sandstone, construction by Shah Jahan is distinguishable in striking white. Completed by Shah Jahan, the fort was also the prison of the emperor for eight years.The places to see within the fort are Diwan-i-aam (Hall for public audience), Diwan-i-khaas (Hall for private audience), Angoori Bagh (Garden where grapes were cultivated to make wine), Moti masjid, Nagina masjid, now-closed Meena Bazaar (Ladies Market), Shish Mahal (Hall of mirrors) and Khas Mahal (the tower where Shah Jahan was imprisoned and from where he used to see the Taj).At last the light and sound show at Agra Fort keeps all gripped as the grief of Shah Jahan resounds in darkness through the voices of trained actors. The light variations beautifully depict the marching of armies and the tale of Kohinoor.Day 3Today was the day I was finally headed to see the Taj. Skipping breakfast to reach really early, I made my way to Taj Ganj. Despite the hype, Taj is what you imagine it to be and more. Glistening with the dewiness of early morning, the white structure that has been attracting millions stood true to its name. The perfection of the monument that immortalised Shah Jahan’s love for Mumtaz is evident in the sheer numbers that come to see this beautiful structure. As I stand there I also wonder the sight it must be to visit the Taj on a full moon list (on my bucket list for sure).It had been 46 hours since I had started and I was back in the comfort of my bed but the trip lingered on my mind. Though Agra had welcomed me with its dusty charm, it was not the same chaotic city I remembered from a few years back. With the opulent red-white structures, splendour of gardens and the transcendence and purity of Taj, Agra gets etched on your mind and heart to never fade away again.
Okhla Bird Sanctuary
3. Do early morning bird-watching at the Okhla Bird SanctuaryThe Okhla Bird Sanctuary, spread across 4 square kilometres, is one of the 466 important bird areas in India. In fact, Delhi is the second most bird-rich city in the world. But the birds are best spotted early in the morning, not anywhere near the 'dancing cars' or the car-o-bars.
Husainabad Clock Tower
Husainabad is a beautiful city famous for the Clock Tower and is located in Lucknow near Rumi Darwaza, which was built by Nawab Nasir-ud-din Haider to mark the moment of arrival of the 1st Lieutenant Governor of United Province of Avadh named Sir George Couper. This Clock Tower is said to be the tallest clock tower in India. The tower is 67 metres tall and has been designed by Roskell Payne. The parts of the clock were build with Gun Metal. The pendulum of the clock has a length of 14 feet which is also the longest in India. The dial of the huge clock has been shaped like twelve petalled flower surrounded by bells. The design of the clock tower in Husainabad reflects a combination of two styles, Victorian and Gothic. This is the perfect example of artistic brilliance and should definitely feature on your itinerary.
Why should the folks of Noida be left out of the New Year's Eve fun? Filmy Flavours is holding a fantastic party to captivate the hearts of all diehard cinema aficionados. A night at this Bollywood-themed restaurant is bound to be mega fun!Entry: Rs. 799 all-inclusive, for oneWhere: 1st Floor, Plot 36, Block H-1 A, Commercial Market, Sector 63, NoidaPhone: 011 33107676Book here.
Did interact with the Owner out of curiosity & it was worth an interaction. Versatile personality, an engineering professional, a painter & restaurant owner. Having professionally worked on various engineering assignments in Italy, Japan, London & USA ( In case I am able to recall correctly), he has brought flavour of all these exotic destination to his park restaurant.
I have a special place for the hostel life in my heart as I missed my graduation days in which I have lived in hostel in Jalandhar.Recently , I have heard about the India's first hostel chain named Zostel which has existence in 15 cities of India now.So , I found the Zostel Agra which is nearest to Delhi and planned a weekend getaway from Delhi To Agra.Day 1 : We started early morning from Delhi and instead of the faster Yamuna Expressway we took NH 2 to enjoy some roadside Dhaba's food. So , we took our first halt after crossing Palwal at some of the famous murthal dhabas which are now open on NH2 also. We ordered the typical dhaba food i.e Paranthas and chai in the rainy weather(monsoon season in North India). After having our breakfast we resumed our journey and in the afternoon we reached the Zostel , Agra and confirmed our booking at the reception.
La Martiniere College
This is a very old college in the city of Lucknow which was established by the British during the British Ra in India. This is till now an extremely notable educational institution and a pride for the modern society parents. They have successfully maintained the glamour and grandeur of this college which is now divided into schools and boasts of have trained many a prominent personalities. You are allowed to enter the school boundaries for the tours but whatever the guide tells you is all true even i some things sound exaggerated about this school. They also have horse riding and other such activities as a part of school activities which is not much seen in Indian schools.
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.
Pretty decent place. Rooms started from 550Rs (I believe they dont have a room in lesser price at this place). I am pretty sure backpackers can find a cheaper place approx between INR 200-350 in Agra if they don't care much about comfort. Used a tuktuk (autoRickshaw) for commuting to below places. Tuktuk wala was with me for the whole time and he charged 650Rs (pretty expensive). i chose this only since I had very limited time. Else backpackers can easily commute with public transport or hired bikes.
Ganpati Guest House
The options of lodging Varanasi just keep getting better. Located close to the Meer Ghat is the Ganpati Guest House, a place that offers one a comfortable stay while one is on a visit to the city. The services provided by this guest house include air-conditioned rooms, free WiFi, laundry, a travel desk to help one with travel related queries and bookings, a business centre, transportation to and from the airport and as well as train station and a restaurant and bar. This restaurant serves a variety of dishes, beverages and as well as light snacks. The rooms are spic and span and the staff here make sure that one enjoys their stay at the guest house. Attached toilets, running water and cable television are some of the other services that the guest house provides.