Desert tribes and urban dwellers, farmers and priests, all of them have found their unique niche in the diverse India.
The epitome of diverse cultures is found across the different region of India. Myriad of languages, traditions, food, climate and religion form the intricate tapestry of the Indian cityscapes. While each region of India has its on unique attractions, they share the common magnetism that only India is capable of effecting on its residents and guests.
Cities in Rajasthan: Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur
Mentioning one Rajput city over another is not doing justice to all the spectacular cities in the largest state of India, Rajasthan. As majestic as the state name, this land, part of the Thar Desert, is home to several magnificent monuments, forts, temples and other beauties of nature that are only unique to a desert climate. The following Rajput cities have no shortage of opulent palaces, stoic forts, stunning temples which are built from centuries ago and boast of such exquisitely intricate carved structures. One can only be awed by the talents of the artisans and builders of the days gone by. The artistic talents are also clearly visible in the carvings and designs of havelis (ancestral bungalows built by the merchant class) The ‘Pink City’, or the Old City part of Jaipur, is one place where visitors on tour, actually get to experience life as royalty. As the exotic capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur is the proud home of the City Palace and Hawa Mahal. Jodhpur’s Meharangarh Fort with its imposing walls shield lavish palaces with elaborate courtyards and opulent chambers, the Fort Museum for journey to the grand past are some of the remarkable sights in this rustic countryside. The oldest fortress city, Jaisalmer stand proud as its golden sandstone fort walls glow brilliantly in bright hours of the day and at dusk, illuminated to transform into marigolds blooming out of the rocky hills. Camel safaris for sunset or overnight trips are integral part for most tours in this desert region of India. Udaipur, the City of Lakes also known as the Venice of the East presents palaces amidst vast stunning lakes and island delights in this romantic city.
A botanical paradise with some of the best beaches in India, and the most unique experience of backwaters cruising, the cities in Kerala state are scenic and refreshing travel destinations. A welcome change from the bustling busy cities, the calm waters and serene atmosphere can be lulling while awakening the senses for the nature delights found in this southern region of India. Visitors on tour to this rural yet modern state of picturesque villages and cities are spoilt for choice in the various travel attractions. From the popular backwater cruises, to the excellent beaches and renowned wildlife attractions such as the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, this quiet destination is brimming with wonderful choices. Religious harmony is also clearly evident with the co-existence of the major pilgrimage centre at Sabarimalai and numerous churches including the St Francis Church.
A trip to Delhi is a feast for all the senses with its vibrant colours, tangy and spicy food, heart-thumping music, sweet scents of sandalwood and jasmine and silky smooth saris and lehengas. It is an enchanting vacation in Delhi as you find traditions entwined with modern lifestyles. The capital city of India has plenty to offer as a travel destination. Powerful emperors of ambitious kingdoms had their turns ruling Delhi as it remained strong in times of rejuvenation and destruction. From the era of the Delhi Sultanate, to the Mughals and beyond, Delhi has played witnessed to victories of great dynasties and mourned their fall. With such a rich historical tapestry, unsurprisingly there are numerous historic monuments including forts and tombs. The Red Fort, also known as Lal Quila, is the place to learn the history of Shah Jahan’s capital. A fine architectural specimen, it comprises several amazing buildings which include a main palace. Tughlaqabad Fort remains majestic despite its state of ruin. The Qutub Minar, built out of red sandstone, was the victory tower symbolizing the past power of the Delhi Sultanate. Modern tour attractions include the Lotus Temple, a meditation house, affectionately called the Taj of modern India, The Garden of Five Sense and The Dilli Haat, the India gate, a war memorial arch, and Raj Ghat- the cremation site of the Father of India, Mahatma Gandhi.
The heart skips a beat when a person steps onto the homeland of the greatest love monument the world has ever known. Tours to India, especially to Uttar Pradesh will inevitably lead to Agra, the city of Emperors. The ancient imperial seat of the Mughal Empire, flourished tremendously largely due to its strategic location by the banks of Yamuna River and the Grand Trunk Road. With its brimming coffers, the Mughal rulers welcomed artisans from Central Asia and other region of India. These talented and skilled craftsmen, with their artistic gifts and workmanship, had bestowed upon the world, some of the most magnificent monuments now still standing tall and proud. Travels to Agra are inherently to pay homage to Agra Fort, Itimad-ud Daulah’s Tomb and the Taj Mahal.
The bustling populous city, home to the glamourous Bollywood, Mumbai is Indian chaos redefined. Its cosmopolitan allure lies in the historic monuments which have bore witness to traditional lifestyles and the modern trendsetters. While it can take sometime to take in the potent atmosphere, once settling in, there will be so much more to discover in this vibrant region of India. For all its modern amenities, the famous buildings that are part of most travel itineraries, are with long and rich past. These attractions include the ‘Gateway of India’ the towering arch which curtains the sea beyond which is the sole reason for Mumbai’s existence as a major trading and shipping harbour. There are other fine buildings such as the Rajabai Clock Tower, Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the University halls, just to name a few. Not forgetting the humble origins of this metropolitan, there are still some fishing communities, namely the Koli Fishing Village with colourful fishing boats by the river.
Tea gardens in endless valleys, quaint Toy Train- renowned all over the world and inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, superb trekking trails that reward trekkers with spectacular views of the Himalayan peaks with lush green footholds are some of nature’s bounties found in the modern and rustic city of Darjeeling. The refreshing views and air filled with pleasant aroma from the tea gardens are welcome respite from the busier and bustling cities from other region of India. Sharing the border with Nepal, the culture and languages spoken here are inclined towards the Nepalese influence which is more proof of the infused tapestry of communities in India. Whether it is an adventure seeking travel or tours to scenic spots, Darjeeling will not disappoint. White water rafting, incredibly beautiful views, ecstatic joyrides on the quaint trains across steep ascents and z-crossings, mingling with the warm locals are ways to soak in the unique atmosphere in the ‘Queen of Hills’.
The smallest of the four metropolitan cities and the capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, previously known as Madras has a vibe and allure epitomized by its magnetic melee that is a daily affair just about everywhere. Homeland to the proud Tamilians, it is a city that just reaches out to visitors and residents to experience its mayhem which is typical of any urban region of India. Lying by the Bay of Bengal, with the largest beach in India, the Marina Beach, Chennai is a juxtaposition of culture, nature amidst progressive development. Murugan Temple, one of the many temples in this city, with the famed Anna Velankanni Church by the Elliots Beach and the Makka Masjid shows the harmony among the various religions. The various dance and music festivals along with the religious revelry such as Pongal and Deepavali will enthrall visitors with the burst of colours and loud crackers while avid shoppers will be spoilt for choice at the fabric and sari paradise centres such as Parry’s and Washerpermet. Chennai is mermerizing not so much for the attractions as it is for the hustle bustle that is inherent of Indian charm.
The endless stretch of beautiful beaches- Agonda, Calangunte, Colva and Vagator just to name few famed sun-kissed sandy coasts- are synonymous with this small state by the Arabian sea. Yes, this former Portuguese fortress is more than just a beach destination. The opulent churches, including Basilica of Bom Jesus of Old Goa, Church of Our Lady of the Rosary- Goa’s oldest, Se Cathedral- one of the biggest churches in Asia- still stand magnificent after centuries of history. Fortresses from the Portuguese era- Aguada Fort and others are solemn symbols of the colonial history. River cruises down Mandovi’s placid waters, especially the Sunset cruises that transport visitors to exotic experiences at famed forts and enjoy traditional Goa performances are another fascinating facet of Goa. The delightful cuisines of various influences- European and Indian are tantalising to say the least. Goan tallest peaks by the Western Ghats are also haven to the states prominent wildlife sanctuaries. Whether one chooses to tour the vibrant North where beach rave is renowned or the secluded soothing South, their unique charms never fail to enchant visitors to Goa.
Spiritualism, mysticism and religious rites are the very essence of India’s cultural capital, Varanasi also known as Benaras. As Mark Twain eloquently noted- ‘ Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together’. The ancient age has not slowed down the spiritual activities and religious practises in the city in anyway. The temples and ghats (steps leading to the waters) are often bustling with prayers (poojas), religious songs (bhajans) and devotees bathing or performing ablutions along the river waters. Whether one visits Varanasi as pilgrims or tourists, the magic of the religious mayhem is the city’s inexplicable quality. While the Hindus are purposeful in their temple visits and prayers, visitors will certainly relish long walks without purpose, through the intricate alleys and streets where the spirit of Varanasi is felt all around.
The modern capital of Karnataka is also known as the ‘Silicon Valley of India’. Known of its pleasant climate and vibrant community, it offers numerous attractions and modern experiences, making it one of the most developed cities in the southern region of India. Picnic spots along picturesque lakes such as Sankey Tank, Lumbhini Garden and Ulsoor Lake, among others are popular for pleasant time with family and friends. The Banerghatta National Park, Cubbon Park and the Rangantittu Bird Sanctuary will be a hit with nature lovers. The HAL museum will appeal those interested in aeronautics and the Nehru Planetarium is another fascinating venue. Popular travel attractions are the Tipu Sultan Palace, ISCKON temple for its unique architecture and the beautiful Bangalore Palace. Temples from the past such as the Cholan Someshwara temple and the Gavi Gangadhareshvara Cave temple are avenues to learn the rich history of the cosmopolitan city. A not to be missed experience is to try the variety of Karnataka cuisines available in Bangalore, where some of the best dosa (Indian pancake), Punjabi food and fresh variety of seafood can be found. The intriguing nightlife is magnetic to any party lover.