India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world, spanning a period of more than 4000 years, and witnessing the fusion of several customs and traditions, which are reflective of the rich culture and heritage of the Country.
The History of India begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization, more precisely known as Harappan Civilization. It flourished around 2,500 BC, in the western part of South Asia, what today is Pakistan and Western India. The Indus Valley was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China. Nothing was known about this civilization till 1920s when the Archaeological Department of India carried out excavations in the Indus valley wherein the ruins of the two old cities, viz. Mohenjodaro and Harappa were unearthed. The ruins of buildings and other things like household articles, weapons of war, gold and silver ornaments, seals, toys, pottery wares, etc., show that some four to five thousand years ago a highly developed Civilization flourished in this region.
First-hand observations into the lives of vibrant potpourri of people of different states, languages, religions, and cultural backgrounds serve as a captivating window to the binding factors of diversity in India. Witnessing the enduring essence of the sacred River Ganges and the life that exists around it and the everlasting beauty of Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for many of us.
Ajanta Ellora Caves located near the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Ajanta and Ellora caves are ranked amongst the most outstanding specimens of ancient architecture. The Ajanta and Ellora caves were discovered by John Smith, a British Army Officer, during a hunting expedition in 1819. The caves, set in the Sahyadri hills over the Waghora River, are an oeuvre of handwork and illustrate the chronicles of Buddhism spanning the period between 300 BC and 650 AD. These caves form an inevitable part of cultural tours of India.
Agra Fort had been the capital of Mughals ever since Babur. The foundations of the Agra Fort, also known as the Red Fort of Agra, were laid by Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great in 1665. It took six years to complete this mighty red sandstone giant that was mainly used as military garrison at that time. Jehangir commissioned some minor construction work during his reign and Shah Jahan, the grandson of Akbar and the greatest of builders in Mughal lineage, started using Agra Fort as his palace and court and made several additions to it.
Taj Mahal o ne of the 7 wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal, situated in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India is an embodiment of magnificence and love. It is the best of all the creations of the Mughal architecture. Its immense and immaculate beauty leaves you bowled over. The Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan got this miraculous work of art built in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. With over 22000 laborers and about 1000 elephants employed, the construction of Taj Mahal completed in 22 years. The Taj Mahal sphere consists of five major components :
Darwaza (The main gateway)
Bageecha (The gardens)
Masjid (The mosque)
Naqqar Khana (The rest house)
Rauza (The main mausoleum)
Red Fort was built by the Emperor Shahjahan, after he shifted the Mughal Capital from Agra to Delhi. Earlier known as the ‘Qila-e-Mubarak’, it is now known as Lal Quila or the Delhi Fort. Its construction began in 1638 and completed in 1648 and it got the status of UNSECO World Heritage Site in 2007. The magnificent architecture of the Red Fort is a perfect blend of Persian, Indian and European art form and is one of the most attractive monuments of Delhi.
Khajuraho is a village located in Chhatarpur district in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. It has been a globally famous tourist destination with its architecturally beautiful temples. The Khajuraho group of monuments has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also considered as one of the Seven Wonders of India.
The Qutub Minar, the tallest brick tower in the world is located in Mehrauli in South Delhi. The name of the minaret was kept after Qutubuddin Aibak, the man who initiated its construction. His successor and son-in-law, Iltutmish, later completed it. Inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, it was built in 1193 AD. It is one of the best monuments of the Indo-Islamic Architecture of the Mughal Era..
Konark Sun Temple is situated on the shores of Puri, Orissa, India. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. It is also one of the Seven Wonders of India and attracts tourists from all over the world. The Konark temple is widely known not only for its architectural grandeur but also for the intricacy and richness of the sculptures. The entire temple has been built as a Chariot of the Sun God with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter and having a set of spokes and sophisticated carvings.
Fatehpur Sikri Situated 40 km away from Agra (UP), Fatehpur Sikri was the first planned city of the Mughals. It served as the capital of the Mughals from 1571 AD to 1585 AD after which it was deserted due to water scarcity. This city has been declared as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. It was here that all Mughal institutions such as the ‘Din-i-Ilahi’, ‘Ibadat-Khanah’, Jharokha-Darshan, the doctrine of Sulh-i-Kul, etc. were founded.
Tamil Nadu is best known for generous hospitality and kindness of its people that makes one feel secure and comfortable in the state. Its rich history and ancient linguistic evolution lends it a social, cultural and traditional heritage that is worthy of note. Tamil, the main language of the state, is quite ancient in its origin and is believed to be the source of other Dravidian languages prevalent in South India such as Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, and Thulu.
Kaziranga National Park situated on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra River, Assam, Kaziranga National Park sprawls over an area of around 430 sq km. It is famous for the One Horned Indian Rhinoceros and other wild lives in the North East India. It is also a safe haven to a number of other wild lives. It is the ideal habitat for the Indian Rhino with its marsh and tall thickets of elephant grass. Due to limitless poaching of this antediluvian survivor, the Kaziranga National Park was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1940.
Keoladeo National Park in Bharatput is a pilgrimage for the bird lovers and is a paradise for those interested in the avian world. During the British raj also it was renowned as the best duck shooting reserve. However, in 1956 it was declared a reserve for birds and later graded as the national park of India. It has been listed as the World Heritage site by UNESCO.
The mangrove forests and marshland in the delta region of Sunderbans are a part of the world’s largest mangrove swamp and delta region of three great rivers – Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna. The Sunderbans National Park stretch to an area of about 2,585 sq km area have a very interesting wildlife. It was named after Sundari trees that were once found in abundance here.
World’s Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple – Akshardham Temple is situated on the banks on river Yamuna in Delhi, close to the proposed site for 2010 Commonwealth games. It creatively conflates the traditional stone art and architecture, Indian culture and societal fiber, ancient values and sapience, and the best of modern media and technology.
The north Indian city of Varanasi, or Benares, is regarded as sacred by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Situated in the fertile Ganga valley and on the banks of the Ganges, Varanasi is a place of pilgrimage for Hindus, who come to bathe in the holy river. Known as the City of Temples and a beacon of culture, Varanasi has produced many renowned writers. It’s also a center of silk weaving, so practice haggling at the chaotic bazaar for some beautiful souvenirs. Rickshaws are the best way to get about
The Ganges River or Ganga, as it is popularly known in India, is the greatest waterway in India and one of the longest rivers in the world. It emerges from the Gangotri glacier in the Himalayan Mountains about 10,300 feet above sea level. The course of Ganga is a long one. The river follows an 800 km curving course passing through the city of Kanpur before being joined by the Yamuna at Allahabad. This point is known as the Sangam.
The hardest thing about visiting Goa might be deciding which beach to visit! You might see dolphins playing just offshore or find yourself in complete solitude on the beautiful white sands. For a unique experience, visit Sinquerim beach around 2 a.m and watch the moon set.
The Golden Temple or Harmandir Sahib (Temple of God) is located in the Indian state of Punjab. This Sikh temple is the most austere place of worship for the Sikhs. Originally built in 1574 AD by Gurur Ram Das Ji, the fourth guru of Sikhs.
The foothills of Indian Himalayas are just ideal for hiking, camping, trekking and nature watch. A good number of nature lovers, trekkers, geologists, adventure enthusiasts, painters and tourists visit Himalayas every year. While most of the people would like to trek or camp in the foothills, scaling a difficult peak is an adventure beyond any description.
Kerala, God’s own country, is situated in southern most part of India. Kerala is known for its spectacular beauty and marvelous backwaters. A ride in a houseboat or Kettuvallam is the precise way to enjoy both of these at the same time. A smooth cruise through calm waters of the beautiful rivers lets you enjoy the lush green environment around you sitting in the comfort of a well-set bedroom.
In the capital city of Delhi lies the Baha’i Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, better known as the "Lotus Temple" due to its shape like a half opened Lotus flower built in white marble. It is also known as the Taj Mahal of Modern India due to its architectural excellence for which it has won many awards and international praise. Surrounded by lush lawns and gorgeous gardens, the temple is a symbol of the Baha’i faith, which believes in oneness of all religions and mankind. This faith gives emphasis on prayer and meditation.