Opulent Elegance: A Journey through Ornate India

Hassan - Located in the heart of the Malnad region, Hassan is known for its rich cultural heritage and ancient temples. The Hoysaleswara Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-visit attraction in Hassan.

Nestled in the heart of Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha, the Mukteswara Temple stands as a testament to the exquisite craftsmanship and rich cultural heritage of ancient India. With its intricate carvings, architectural finesse, and spiritual significance, the temple is a timeless masterpiece that continues to captivate visitors from around the world.

Dhauli's historical significance dates back to the ancient past, particularly to the time of the Kalinga War in 261 BCE. It was on these very grounds that Emperor Ashoka, after witnessing the devastating aftermath of the war, renounced violence and embraced the path of nonviolence and compassion. The hill of Dhauli became a poignant symbol of his transformation, marking a turning point in the history of India and the world.

Tucked away in the lush landscapes of Bhubaneshwar, the capital city of Odisha, lies a temple that whispers secrets of ancient mysticism and feminine power. The Chausath Yogini Temple stands as a mesmerizing testament to a bygone era, where the divine feminine was revered, and the esoteric arts held sway. Join us as we step into the enigmatic world of the Chausath Yogini Temple, a realm where spirituality, history, and artistry intertwine.

3. Konark: The Sun-Kissed Marvel  Konark Sun Temple, Chandrabhaga Beach, Ramachandi Temple  Konark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is renowned for the mesmerizing Konark Sun Temple. Delight in the sunrise at Chandrabhaga Beach and explore the spiritual charm of Ramachandi Temple.

Visiting popular tourist attractions often comes with the expectation of long lines and a bit of patience. However, when bad administration at the ticket counter allows queue-jumping to run rampant, it can turn a potentially enjoyable experience into a frustrating ordeal. This is a tale of such mismanagement and the havoc it wreaks on the orderly flow of visitors.

Evening: Sunset at Khandagiri and Udayagiri Caves  As the day winds down, head to the ancient caves of Khandagiri and Udayagiri. Explore the rock-cut caves adorned with inscriptions and carvings. The Udayagiri caves, in particular, offer breathtaking views of the sunset. The interplay of light and shadow on the ancient stones creates a mesmerizing spectacle.

Evening: Sunset at Rajarani Temple  Witness the serene beauty of the sunset at Rajarani Temple, known for its ornate sculptures and intricate carvings. The warm glow of the setting sun against the temple's backdrop creates a magical ambiance, providing a perfect end to your two-day itinerary.

Morning: Spiritual Awakening at Lingaraj Temple  Begin your day at the iconic Lingaraj Temple, a masterpiece of Kalinga architecture. As you marvel at the intricately carved spire and sanctum, feel the spiritual energy that permeates this sacred space. Engage with the morning rituals and witness the devout paying homage to Lord Lingaraj. The temple's serene surroundings set the perfect tone for a day of cultural exploration.

Date and Style: The sculpture is believed to date back to the 8th or 9th century CE and bears the hallmark of Odisha's exquisite artistic traditions. Its style is reminiscent of the region's classical sculpture, known for its exquisite attention to detail and emotive expressions.

Nestled in the historic city of Cuttack, Odisha, the Barabati Fort and Park stand as silent sentinels, bearing witness to the rich historical legacy and natural splendor of the region. Steeped in antiquity and adorned with scenic beauty, this iconic landmark offers a captivating blend of heritage, architecture, and serenity, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and avid adventurers seeking to immerse themselves in the timeless allure of Cuttack's cultural tapestry.

Behold the majestic grandeur and spiritual opulence of the Jagannath Temple, an iconic landmark nestled in the vibrant city of Puri, Odisha. With its rich tapestry of ancient rituals, cultural heritage, and profound philanthropic endeavors, this temple stands not just as a symbol of devotion but as a testament to the enduring spirit of humanity and the timeless allure of faith. Join us on a journey through the corridors of this sacred abode, where divinity converges with the rhythms of life, fostering a harmonious symphony of tradition, festivity, and compassionate service.

The Celebration of Rath Yatra    The Jagannath Temple is renowned for its annual Rath Yatra, an extravagant chariot festival that draws millions of devotees and travelers from around the world. The vibrant procession, with its elaborately decorated chariots carrying the deities, symbolizes the spiritual journey of Lord Jagannath to his aunt's place, the Gundicha Temple.

The Archaeological Museum serves as an educational hub, offering visitors an opportunity to delve into the cultural, social, and religious aspects of ancient Konark. Through guided tours, educational workshops, and informative displays, the museum endeavors to promote cultural awareness and historical appreciation among visitors, fostering a deeper connection with the region's rich heritage and artistic legacy.

Embark on a captivating journey through the corridors of the Archaeological Museum in Konark, where history, art, and culture intertwine, inviting all to uncover the timeless allure and grandeur of ancient Odisha.

Spirituality and Serenity  For history enthusiasts and spiritual seekers alike, the Khandagiri Caves are a haven. The serene ambience of these caves, coupled with the intricate carvings depicting Jain deities, make them an ideal place for meditation and reflection. The caves offer a glimpse into the ascetic lifestyle of Jain monks who once resided here, emphasizing principles of non-violence, truth, and simplicity.

Architectural Marvels  The architectural finesse exhibited in the Khandagiri and Udayagiri Caves is awe-inspiring. Elaborate carvings, intricate friezes, and beautifully sculpted figures grace the cave walls, showcasing the craftsmanship of ancient times. The Rani Gumpha (Queen's Cave) is particularly renowned for its detailed carvings of dancers, musicians, and celestial beings.

Exploring the Surroundings  Beyond the caves, the Khandagiri area offers picturesque views of the surrounding landscape. As you ascend the hills, you'll be treated to panoramic vistas of lush greenery, the city of Bhubaneswar, and the distant horizon. The well-maintained pathways and viewpoints make it an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll or a quiet picnic.

Preserving History  Efforts have been made to preserve and protect these ancient marvels, and the caves have been declared as protected monuments. Conservation work and maintenance ensure that future generations can continue to explore and appreciate the rich heritage of the Khandagiri Caves.

Above photograph shows the view of Udaigiri Caves from Khandagiri in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha.   Visiting Khandagiri: A Spiritual Sojourn  For those seeking a spiritual and historical journey, Khandagiri is a destination that beckons with open arms. It's a place where the past merges seamlessly with the present, allowing visitors to connect with the rich tapestry of Indian history and culture. A visit to Khandagiri is not just a tour; it's an immersion into the mystique and magic of ancient India, a journey that promises to leave an indelible mark on your soul.

The Lingaraj Temple's history dates back over a thousand years, to the 11th century during the rule of the Somavamshi dynasty. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple is a masterpiece of Kalinga architecture, characterized by its towering vimana (spire) and the harmonious blend of various architectural styles. The temple's name, "Lingaraj," translates to "the King of Lingas," signifying its dedication to Lord Shiva's representation as a lingam, a sacred symbol of the divine.

The Lingaraj Temple's architecture is a synthesis of different styles, reflecting the cultural tapestry of Odisha. The temple complex encompasses several structures, including the main sanctum, the natamandira (dancing hall), and various subsidiary shrines. The towering vimana is adorned with intricate carvings that depict celestial beings, mythological narratives, and scenes from daily life. The temple's Kalinga style, characterized by its pyramid-like spire and sculptural intricacies, showcases the artistic brilliance of its creators.

The Lingaraj Temple's exterior walls are adorned with an array of captivating sculptures that narrate tales from Hindu mythology, including scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana. These carvings are not just artistic embellishments; they serve as visual narratives that transport visitors into the realms of gods, goddesses, and epic heroes. The sculptures stand as testaments to the devotion, craftsmanship, and storytelling prowess of the artisans of that era.

The Lingaraj Temple is a place of deep spiritual significance for Hindus, drawing thousands of devotees and pilgrims every year. The presiding deity, Lord Lingaraj, is a manifestation of Lord Shiva, and the temple's rituals and festivities are an integral part of Odisha's cultural fabric. The annual Rukuna Rath Yatra, a grand chariot festival, is a major highlight, attracting devotees from all walks of life.

The temple's daily rituals offer visitors a chance to witness the deep devotion and ancient practices that have been upheld for generations. The rhythmic chants, the fragrance of incense, and the sight of devotees offering prayers at the sanctum create an atmosphere of profound spirituality. The Lingaraj Temple invites all who enter to experience a sense of oneness with the divine.

The rhythmic chants, the fragrance of incense, and the sight of devotees offering prayers at the sanctum create an atmosphere of profound spirituality. The Lingaraj Temple invites all who enter to experience a sense of oneness with the divine.

The Lingaraj Temple stands as a beacon of spiritual devotion, architectural brilliance, and cultural heritage. As visitors walk through its hallowed corridors, they embark on a journey that transcends time, connecting the present with an ancient past. The Lingaraj Temple is more than just a physical structure; it's a living embodiment of faith, artistry, and the enduring bond between humanity and the divine.

The Konark Sun Temple's light and sound show is a mesmerizing journey through history and mythology. It's a celebration of India's rich cultural heritage and a reminder of the enduring legacy of this architectural masterpiece. If you have the opportunity to visit this incredible site, don't miss the chance to witness this captivating spectacle that brings the past to life in a dazzling display of light and sound.

In the heart of Kolkata, India, a silent sentinel of history and spirituality stands tall against the passage of time. St. Paul's Cathedral, often referred to as the "Mother Church of the Diocese of Calcutta," is a resplendent embodiment of faith and architectural brilliance that has graced the cityscape for well over a century. Join us on a journey through the annals of history and the marvels of architecture encapsulated within the sacred walls of St. Paul's Cathedral, Kolkata.

Stained Glass Kaleidoscope: The cathedral boasts an exquisite array of stained glass windows, each a narrative in itself, unraveling biblical stories or capturing profound religious motifs. When sunlight dances through these intricate glassworks, the interior is bathed in a mesmerizing, ever-changing tapestry of colors.

Community and Devotion: Dhabaleswar Temple is not just a place of worship; it's a focal point of community life. It brings people together, fostering a sense of unity and devotion among the residents of Cuttack.

Cuttack, a city that embraces a rich tapestry of cultures and faiths, boasts an array of spiritual landmarks that have stood the test of time. Among these, the Bukhari Baba Mazar shines as a beacon of spirituality and a symbol of unity. Located in the heart of the city, this revered shrine has been a source of solace and devotion for countless visitors. In this blog post, we embark on a spiritual journey to explore the charm, history, and cultural significance of the Bukhari Baba Mazar in Cuttack.


Carved in Stone: Mythic Tales and Divine Dance    The temple's walls are adorned with intricate carvings that transport visitors to a realm of ancient tales and cosmic dramas. The Yoginis are depicted in various poses, dancing, playing instruments, and engaged in celestial activities. The detailed sculptures reflect the artistic prowess of the artisans of that era, inviting us to ponder the deeper symbolism behind each form.

As you explore Dhauli, you'll come across intricate rock-cut sculptures that depict scenes from the life of Emperor Ashoka and his transformation. These sculptures offer glimpses into history while celebrating the power of change, compassion, and the human spirit. The artistry of these carvings adds another layer of depth to the site's allure.

Dhauli Mahotsav: Celebrating Peace    Dhauli Mahotsav, an annual festival held at the Shanti Stupa, is a celebration of peace, culture, and heritage. The festival draws performers, artists, and enthusiasts from across the region, showcasing the diverse traditions and talents that make up the cultural mosaic of Odisha. The event offers a unique opportunity to experience the vibrancy of the local culture against the backdrop of Dhauli's tranquil landscapes.

Preserving Heritage, Cultivating Harmony    The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) plays a pivotal role in preserving Dhauli's historical and cultural legacy, ensuring that future generations can continue to draw inspiration from its teachings and aesthetics.

In the heart of the ancient city of Bhubaneswar, where history and spirituality intertwine seamlessly, stands the magnificent Siddheswara Temple. This architectural masterpiece, steeped in centuries of heritage, offers a window into the rich cultural tapestry of Odisha. Join us as we embark on a virtual exploration of the awe-inspiring Siddheswara Temple and the stories it holds.

The Mukteswara Temple, often referred to as the "Gem of Odisha Architecture," holds a history that spans over a thousand years. Built in the 10th century, during the reign of the Somavamshi dynasty, the temple is a living testimony to the artistic brilliance and devotion of the era.

The temple showcases the evolution of architectural styles in Odisha. It is a prime example of the Kalinga style, characterized by its emphasis on intricate carvings, ornate spires (rekha deula), and sculpted motifs. The temple's aesthetic design and cultural significance make it a prime attraction for historians, art enthusiasts, and devotees alike.

The Mukteswara Temple consists of two main structures—the deul (main sanctum) and the jagamohana (assembly hall). The deul's spire is adorned with ornate sculpted motifs and stands as a remarkable example of Kalinga architecture. The jagamohana, while less ornate than the deul, harmonizes perfectly to create a balanced architectural ensemble.

One of the most captivating features of the Mukteswara Temple is its intricate carvings. The temple's exterior is adorned with exquisite sculptures that narrate tales from Hindu epics, mythological narratives, and scenes of daily life. The portrayal of celestial beings, divine creatures, and intricate geometric patterns reflect the spiritual beliefs and artistic genius of the time.

Location: The Mukteswara Temple is located in Bhubaneswar, making it accessible for both locals and tourists.

Entry Fees : There is no entry fee for visiting the temple premises.

Attire: As a place of religious significance, it's recommended to dress modestly while visiting the temple. Please keep in mind that security people here are ok with clicking photos with phone but won't allow DSLRs.

The temple's name "Mukteswara" is derived from two Sanskrit words: "mukti," meaning liberation, and "ishwara," meaning lord or god. Therefore, the name "Mukteswara" can be translated as the "Lord who grants liberation." The Mukteswara Temple in Bhubaneswar is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The main deity enshrined within the temple is a lingam, which represents Lord Shiva in his formless and abstract aspect. The lingam is a symbol of his cosmic energy and creative force.

Here are some special sculptures that you can find within the temple:  Torana Sculptures: The torana, or arched gateway, at the entrance of the temple is adorned with intricately carved sculptures of various deities and celestial beings. These sculptures include depictions of Ganga and Yamuna, who are river goddesses, as well as images of various divine attendants and mythical creatures.  Dancing Apsaras: The temple is adorned with beautifully carved dancing apsaras, celestial nymphs who are known for their captivating dance forms. These sculptures are found on the outer walls and depict graceful and intricate dance poses.  Lingam with Faces: Inside the sanctum sanctorum, there is a unique lingam with human faces sculpted on its sides. This depiction is believed to represent the multi-faceted nature of Lord Shiva and his various manifestations.  Uma-Maheshwara Sculpture: One of the intricate reliefs on the temple wall depicts a scene of Uma (Parvati) and Maheshwara (Shiva) riding on Nandi, the bull. This portrayal of the divine couple exudes an aura of serenity and devotion.  Nayikas and Nayakas: The walls of the temple feature sculptures of nayikas (heroines) and nayakas (heroes) engaged in various emotional and romantic poses. These sculptures are celebrated for their delicate expressions and graceful postures.  Lakulisha Sculpture: A particularly important sculpture in the temple complex is that of Lakulisha, a form of Lord Shiva considered to be the 28th incarnation of the deity. Lakulisha is often depicted as a yogi holding a staff.  Paradevata Sculptures: The outer walls of the temple are adorned with paradevata sculptures, which are representations of various deities and celestial beings. These sculptures provide a glimpse into the rich pantheon of Hindu mythology.  Yakshi Sculptures: Some of the sculptures around the temple depict yakshis, female nature spirits often associated with fertility and abundance. These sculptures add a touch of mysticism and ancient beliefs to the temple's ambiance.  Animal Motifs: Throughout the temple, you'll find intricate carvings of animals, both real and mythical, such as elephants, lions, and makaras (a mythical sea creature). These motifs add a dynamic and lively element to the architecture.  Navagraha Panel: The temple features a panel depicting the nine planetary deities, known as the Navagrahas. Each deity is associated with a specific planet and is depicted in a distinct pose or posture.

There are several other temples located near the Mukteswara Temple in Bhubaneswar. Bhubaneswar, often referred to as the "Temple City of India," is known for its numerous temples that showcase different architectural styles and historical periods. Here are a few notable temples that you can explore in the vicinity of the Mukteswara Temple:  Parasurameswara Temple: This small but intricately carved temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It's considered one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar and is characterized by its detailed carvings of divine figures, animals, and mythical creatures.  Siddheswara Temple : The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is revered as Siddheswara. Lord Shiva is one of the principal deities in Hinduism and is often associated with transformation, creation, and destruction.

Other temples to explore in Bhubaneshwar are :  Lingaraj Temple: One of the most prominent temples in Bhubaneswar, the Lingaraj Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It's known for its towering spire, intricate carvings, and a sacred pond. The temple's architecture is a blend of Kalinga and Dravidian styles.  Rajarani Temple: This temple is celebrated for its unique sculptural style and the absence of any presiding deity. It is named after the rajarani (reddish) stone used in its construction. The temple is adorned with exquisite carvings depicting sensuous and divine figures.  Ananta Vasudeva Temple: Dedicated to Lord Krishna, this temple is known for its vibrant architecture and colorful sculptures. It's one of the few temples in Bhubaneswar where non-Hindus are allowed entry.  Brahmeswara Temple: This temple is famous for its intricately carved torana and beautifully adorned sanctum. It's dedicated to Lord Shiva and showcases detailed carvings of deities, celestial beings, and mythological narratives.  Rameshwar Temple: This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and features a unique vimana (tower) with ornate carvings. The temple's architecture and carvings are reminiscent of the Mukteswara Temple.

The Mukteswara Temple stands as an architectural gem that transcends time and culture, serving as a bridge between ancient craftsmanship and spiritual devotion. As you wander through its carved corridors and stand in awe of its intricate sculptures, you'll not only appreciate the artistry of ancient artisans but also connect with the spiritual essence that continues to thrive within its walls. The Mukteswara Temple is more than just a monument; it's a living testament to the artistic ingenuity and profound spirituality that define Odisha's rich heritage.

Udayagiri, a cluster of 18 caves, stands as a testament to the mastery of rock-cut architecture during the 1st century BCE. These caves were once inhabited by monks and ascetics who sought solitude and spiritual enlightenment. The intricate carvings, sculpted facades, and inscriptions on the walls offer a window into the lives and beliefs of those who called these caves home.

As you explore the caves, each one seems to tell a story of its own. Cave 1, also known as the "Rani Gumpha," boasts a beautiful ornate doorway leading to a spacious courtyard. Its inscription-rich walls provide valuable insights into historical events. Cave 4, the "Alakapuri Gumpha," houses a colossal figure of Buddha in a teaching pose, surrounded by intricate reliefs depicting celestial beings.

This cave is named after the life-sized elephant carving at its entrance. Inside, there are inscriptions and sculptures that highlight the generosity of a Jain king named Kharavela. The inscriptions provide valuable historical information about his reign.

Thanks to the efforts of conservationists and authorities, Udayagiri has been preserved for modern generations to appreciate. The site is now open to the public, allowing visitors to embark on a journey through time and culture. The pathways are well-maintained, ensuring a comfortable exploration of these ancient wonders.

As the soft golden light of sunrise bathes the carved facades of Udayagiri, one can't help but feel a sense of wonder. The cool breeze carries echoes of ancient chants and whispers of the past. Udayagiri is not just a historical site; it's an embodiment of the human spirit's quest for meaning and connection.

The type of sandstone found in these caves is locally known as "Khondalite." Khondalite is a unique rock formation found in the region of Odisha, India. It's a kind of metamorphic rock that is composed of various minerals, including quartz, feldspar, mica, and garnet.    Khondalite is characterized by its distinct layered structure and often exhibits a reddish to pinkish hue due to the presence of minerals like garnet. This type of sandstone is relatively soft and easy to carve, which makes it suitable for intricate sculptural work. The artisans who carved the Udayagiri Caves utilized the natural properties of Khondalite to create the intricate sculptures, reliefs, and inscriptions that adorn the cave walls and interiors.

The caves are adorned with intricate sculptures, reliefs, and inscriptions that depict various aspects of Jainism, including Tirthankaras (spiritual teachers), Yakshas, Yakshinis (guardian deities), and other mythological figures. The artwork also showcases the craftsmanship of the artisans of that era.

The carving of a dwarf couple is a prominent feature in some of the caves. This depiction represents the Tirthankara Munisuvrata and his consort. The carvings often show the couple as standing figures with significant attention to their facial expressions.

The sandstone of the Udayagiri Caves has weathered over centuries, giving the caves a rustic and ancient appearance. This rock type not only provided a suitable material for carving but also contributed to the overall aesthetic appeal of the caves, which have attracted historians, archaeologists, and tourists interested in exploring the cultural and historical significance of the site.

Several caves depict scenes of Jain monastic life, including meditating monks, ascetics engaged in spiritual practices, and various rituals. These carvings provide insights into the daily activities and practices of the Jain community.

The Udayagiri Caves are rich in diversity, with each cave offering its own set of carvings that contribute to the broader narrative of the site's historical, religious, and artistic significance. Visitors and scholars can explore these carvings to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural landscape of ancient Odisha.

Inside one of the caves, there's a carved image of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity of Hinduism. This inclusion reflects the religious tolerance and syncretism that was prevalent during that era.

Some of the caves feature carvings of nagas (serpent deities) and various snake-related motifs. Nagas were important figures in Indian mythology and were often associated with water bodies and fertility.

Here is an interesting cave carved out of rock which looks like lion Leopard face.

Many caves feature carvings of Yakshas and Yakshinis, which are guardian deities associated with Jainism. These divine beings are often depicted as powerful, larger-than-life figures with intricate details in their attire and accessories.

The Udayagiri Caves have inscriptions in Brahmi script, which provide valuable historical information about the ruling dynasties of ancient Odisha, as well as the activities and contributions of the Jain community during that time.

The caves were part of a larger monastic complex that included other structures like viharas (monastic residences), chaityas (prayer halls), and water tanks. The complex provided a complete environment for the monks' spiritual practices.

Udayagiri, a living canvas of history, continues to inspire awe and admiration. It stands as a testament to human creativity, faith, and the enduring impact of art on society. A visit to these rock-cut caves is not just a journey into the past, but a profound experience that allows us to embrace the legacy of our ancestors and the timeless beauty they left behind.

The 13th day of our 14-day-long roadtrip from Noida to Rameshwaram and back via Eastern Ghats was a bad road day, but there were some amazing stops that managed to cheer us up enroute. From Sagar there are two historical sites that can be managed on the way to Chanderi - Eran and Khimalsa. However as per Google, when we measured the distance vs the ETA, it appeared that the roads might be bad, so we decided to head straight to Chanderi. On the hindsight, this appears to be a really wise decision.  We seemed to have avoided losing a lot of time to bad roads. However the challenges were far from over.

The point where Google said that the local road would merge into the highway was closed and the road was under construction. Luckily a pan masala and chai shop was open there even in those wee hours and the man pointed us to a "road" through the village that would take us to the highway. In the dark, this road appeared really scary. It was a muddy street that at times appeared to end in a dead end but as we drove toward it we found a small cut next to some house so we had to navigate our car through it. It was a miracle how we managed to do that. Then we reached a plain area from where there did not seem to be a way out. In the distance however, we could see some trucks parked and some men were moving around with torches in their hands.

Anyway, finally we merged into the highway and our next stop would be Chanderi. On the way we came across a temporary bridge across our old friend Betwa River. It was a beautiful sight. Then we headed off to the Chanderi fort. The roads throughout were really good.

All the monuments at Chanderi - Chanderi Fort, Khooni Darwaza, Kati Pahari, Koshak Mahal, Badal Mahal, Jama Masjid etc - were really well-maintained and overall the town had a great vibe. We also checked out some Chanderi Silk Sarees.  After this amazing stop, we headed on to Gwalior and discovered that the town, especially around the fort was really noisy. It was full of honking traffic and because of some road closures we got really late for the fort. We reached at 4:30PM whereas the fort closes at 5:30 PM. We explored the Mansingh Palace and the Fort at lightning speed and clicked some good photographs for memories.

After this we headed down to find a hotel. The room here was nice but the parking was a tricky underground one. So much so that it impacted my sleep that night. I kept on strategizing how to drive our car out of it. The curves were sharp and the incline steep.

Hazara Rama Temple is a beautiful temple located in the ancient city of Hampi in the southern state of Karnataka, India. The temple was built in the 15th century AD by the Vijayanagara Empire, which ruled over South India for over three centuries.

The Vijaya Vitthala Temple is a famous temple located in the ancient city of Hampi in the southern state of Karnataka, India. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vitthala, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and is considered to be one of the most important pilgrimage sites in South India.

The chariot-shaped shrine or ratha is one of the most prominent features of the Vijaya Vitthala Temple in Hampi. The ratha is located in the temple courtyard and is made of stone. It is intricately carved with figures of deities and scenes from Hindu mythology.

Kashivishveshavara Temple is a beautiful temple located in Pattadakal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the state of Karnataka, India. Pattadakal is known for its exquisite temples built during the Chalukya dynasty, and the Kashivishveshavara Temple is one of the finest examples of Chalukyan architecture.

Durga Puja is a religious festival that is deeply rooted in the traditions and customs of Bengal. Here are some traditional customs and practices that you should be aware of:    Puja rituals: Durga Puja involves a series of rituals that are performed over a period of five days. These rituals include the installation of the idol of goddess Durga, prayers, offerings, and immersion of the idol in water on the last day.

The Mallikarjuna Temple located in Pattadakal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Indian state of Karnataka, is an architectural masterpiece that showcases the rich cultural heritage of India. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is believed to have been built in the 8th century CE during the rule of the Chalukya dynasty.

In Pattadakal, visitors can find a mix of different architectural styles that reflect the rich cultural heritage of the region. Apart from the Dravidian style, which is represented by the Mallikarjuna Temple, there are other styles of architecture that can be seen in Pattadakal.

One of the most striking features of the Mallikarjuna Temple is its elaborate entrance, which is decorated with intricate carvings of celestial beings, animals, and other motifs. The outer walls of the temple are adorned with sculptures that depict scenes from Hindu mythology, including the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati.

The temple complex consists of a main shrine, a mandapa (hall), and a Nandi (bull) pavilion. The main shrine is built on a raised platform and is adorned with intricate carvings of various gods and goddesses. The mandapa is supported by pillars that feature intricate carvings and sculptures. The Nandi pavilion houses a beautiful statue of Nandi, the sacred bull of Lord Shiva.

The Lotus Mahal, also known as the Kamal Mahal, is a beautiful and unique structure located in the ancient city of Hampi, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. The Lotus Mahal is a testament to the architectural and artistic genius of the Vijayanagara Empire, which ruled over the region from the 14th to the 16th century.

The Elephant Stable in Hampi, located in the state of Karnataka in southern India, is a remarkable historical structure that offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region. This impressive building is an example of the architectural prowess of the Vijayanagara Empire, which ruled over this area from the 14th to the 16th century.

Statue of Ugra Narasimha : This structure is located a little away from other monuments in Hampi. Narsimha statue & Shivlinga temple are located nearby.  Timings of Narsimha temple in Hampi : 5am to 9pm  Entry Ticket Fees for Narsimha temple in Hampi: Nil Camera Charges for Narsimha temple in Hampi: Nil

Arulmigu Ramanathaswamy Temple, also known as the Rameshwaram Temple, is one of the most significant Hindu temples in India. Located in the town of Rameswaram in the southern state of Taminadu, the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga temples in the country.

Chanderi is a small town located in the Ashoknagar district of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and historical significance. The town is famous for its handloom sarees, which are woven using the traditional Chanderi technique and are known for their fine texture and delicate designs. Chanderi also has many historical monuments, including the Chanderi Fort, which was built in the 11th century by the Rajputs and later occupied by the Mughals. The town is also home to many ancient temples, including the Khandargiri Jain temple and the Bada Madar mosque. Chanderi is a popular tourist destination for those interested in history, culture, and traditional handicrafts.

Chanderi Fort is a historical fort located in the town of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh, India. It was built in the 11th century by the Rajputs and later occupied by the Mughals. The fort is situated on a hill overlooking the town and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. It is known for its architectural beauty and historical significance.

The fort has several gates, bastions, and towers, which were built during different periods of history. The main gate of the fort is known as the Khooni Darwaza or the Bloody Gate, which is believed to have witnessed several battles and bloodshed. The fort also has a water reservoir, which was used to store water during times of siege.

The fort has several palaces and temples, which were built by the Rajputs and the Mughals. The Badal Mahal or the Palace of Clouds is a beautiful palace built by the Mughals, which offers a stunning view of the town and the surrounding hills. The Jama Masjid, which was built during the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, is a beautiful mosque located inside the fort. The fort also has several temples, including the Kirti Durg temple and the Jain temple, which are important pilgrimage sites for Hindus and Jains respectively. In summary, Chanderi Fort is a must-visit destination for history and architecture enthusiasts, offering a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of India.

The Badal Mahal Gate is an important historical monument in Chanderi and is a popular tourist attraction. It is a symbol of the town's rich cultural heritage and is visited by thousands of tourists every year. The gate is also an important pilgrimage site for Muslims, as it houses a mosque inside its premises. In summary, the Badal Mahal Gate is a beautiful and iconic structure that is a must-visit destination for those interested in history, architecture, and culture.

Koshak Mahal, Chanderi :  Koshak Mahal is an impressive palace located in Chanderi, a small town in Madhya Pradesh, India. It was built by Sultan Ghiyasuddin Khilji, a ruler of the Malwa Sultanate, in the 15th century. The palace is a fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture and is known for its intricate carvings, beautiful arches, and ornate balconies. Koshak Mahal is one of the most important historical monuments in Chanderi and attracts thousands of visitors every year.The Jama Masjid is a fine example of Mughal architecture and is built using red sandstone. The mosque has several domes, which are adorned with intricate carvings and designs. The mosque also has a beautiful courtyard, which is surrounded by several arches and pillars. The mosque can accommodate thousands of worshippers and is a hub of activity during festivals and other important events.

Chanderi silk saree is a traditional handloom saree that is woven in the town of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh, India. The saree is known for its fine texture, delicate designs, and lightweight fabric. It is made using a blend of silk and cotton and is characterized by its sheer and glossy texture. The saree has a rich history and is an important part of India's textile heritage.

Then we drove on toward Auroville, which is a very interesting place. The vibe around the place is completely different from Pondicherry. It is right next to Pondicherry and as you get closer to it, you start observing some really cool eateries and shops and places where you can spend some good time with friends discussing the philosophies of life.

Then we drove on to Pulicat, but discovered that there aren't many stay options there. So we searched for some hotels on the highway at Tada, found one that suited our requirements and budget. After checking in, we went for dinner at a nice little restaurant and had some really good biryani before turning in for the night.

Vivekananda House, also known as Ice House, is a historic building located in the heart of Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The building was once the residence of the famous Indian philosopher and spiritual leader, Swami Vivekananda, during his visit to Chennai in 1897. The house has been renovated and transformed into a museum, showcasing the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda. It's a must-visit destination for those who want to learn about the spiritual and cultural heritage of India.

The Santhome Cathedral Basilica is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, religion, and architecture. With its impressive architecture, rich history, and significance in the country's religious life, the cathedral offers visitors a unique and unforgettable glimpse into the region's past and present. So if you're planning a trip to Chennai, be sure to include a visit to the Santhome Cathedral Basilica on your itinerary and experience the beauty and serenity of this historic landmark.

The Santhome Cathedral Basilica has undergone several renovations over the years, with the most recent one completed in 2004. The renovation restored the cathedral to its former glory, with particular attention paid to preserving its historic and cultural significance.    Today, the Santhome Cathedral Basilica is a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world who come to admire its beauty and learn about its rich history. Visitors can explore the cathedral and its various structures, attend mass, and learn about its history and significance in the region's religious and cultural life.

Chennai - The capital city of Tamil Nadu, Chennai is known for its beautiful beaches, rich cultural heritage, and delicious food. Some popular attractions in Chennai include the Marina Beach, Fort St. George, and Kapaleeswarar Temple.

Mahabalipuram - Located near Chennai, Mahabalipuram is known for its ancient temples and rock-cut sculptures. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shore Temple is a must-visit attraction in Mahabalipuram.

Mysore - Known as the City of Palaces, Mysore is famous for its beautiful palaces, gardens, and silk sarees. The Mysore Palace, Brindavan Gardens, and Chamundi Hill are popular attractions in Mysore.

Mysore - As mentioned earlier, Mysore is known as the City of Palaces and is famous for its beautiful palaces, gardens, and silk sarees. The Mysore Palace, Brindavan Gardens, and Chamundi Hill are popular attractions in Mysore.

During the journey on the Pride of Karnataka route, passengers get to explore some of the most popular tourist destinations in Karnataka, including Mysore, Hampi, and Badami. The train also stops at Bandipur National Park, where passengers can enjoy a wildlife safari and spot tigers, elephants, and other wildlife.

The Pride of Karnataka route covered by the Golden Chariot train offers a week-long journey through some of the most popular tourist destinations in Karnataka. The journey provides an opportunity to explore the rich culture, natural beauty, and wildlife of Karnataka in style and comfort.

The fort is home to several impressive structures, including the Man Mandir Palace, the Teli Ka Mandir, and the Gujari Mahal. The Man Mandir Palace is one of the most impressive structures in the fort, with stunning architecture and intricate carvings. The palace was built during the Tomar dynasty and is considered a fine example of Hindu architecture.

The Gujari Mahal is a museum located within the fort and houses a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits related to the history and culture of Madhya Pradesh. The museum has a collection of rare artifacts, including sculptures, coins, and paintings.

There are also separate fees for visiting the various structures and exhibits within the fort, such as the Man Mandir Palace and the Gujari Mahal Museum. The fees for these attractions range from INR 25 to INR 100 per person, depending on the attraction.

It is worth noting that there may be additional fees for hiring a guide or for using audio guides to explore the fort. However, these fees are optional and can be negotiated with the service providers.

The entry fee for visiting the Gwalior Fort varies depending on the nationality of the visitor. For Indian nationals, the entry fee is INR 75 per person, while for foreign nationals, the fee is INR 250 per person. In addition, there is a camera fee of INR 25 per camera for all visitors.

These are just a few of the many historical landmarks that can be found in Chanderi. Whether you're interested in architecture, religion, or history, Chanderi has something to offer everyone. So if you're planning a trip to Madhya Pradesh, be sure to add Chanderi to your itinerary and explore the town's rich history and culture.

Badal Mahal Gate is a magnificent structure that serves as the entrance to the historic town of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh. Built during the reign of Sultan Mahmud Khilji in the 15th century, the gate is a fine example of Islamic architecture and is considered one of the most important landmarks in the town.

The best time to visit Ambala Lake is during the monsoon season, from July to September when the surrounding area is lush and green. However, visitors can also visit the lake throughout the year and enjoy its natural beauty and serenity.

Visitors to Ramtek Fort should be aware of the presence of langurs (not "langoors"), which are a type of monkey that can be found in the area. Langurs are known to be curious and intelligent animals, and they can sometimes approach visitors in search of food or water. While langurs are generally harmless, visitors should exercise caution and avoid feeding or touching them. Feeding langurs can be dangerous as it can lead to aggressive behavior and may result in injury to both the visitor and the animal.

On average, it takes about 20-30 minutes to climb the stairs to the top of the fort at a moderate pace. However, for those who are physically fit and experienced in hiking, it can take as little as 10-15 minutes to reach the top. It is important to note that the climb to the top of the fort involves a significant elevation gain, and it can be challenging for those who are not accustomed to physical activity. Visitors should wear comfortable shoes and bring water and sunscreen to stay hydrated and protected from the sun.

The Mahakali Mandir, also known as the Kali Temple, is located on the eastern side of the fort. It was built during the 18th century and is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. The temple features a shikhara-style dome and a large hall adorned with ornate carvings. The Kalika Mandir, located on the western side of the fort, is dedicated to the goddess Kalika. It was built during the 19th century and features a unique architectural style that blends Hindu and Islamic elements. The fort also has several other structures, including the Amba Temple, the Hanuman Temple, and the Jain Temple. The fort's walls are made of stone and are about 10 feet high. The fort also has several bastions and gateways, including the Ramtek Darwaza and the Nagardhan Darwaza.

Visiting Ramtek Fort:    The Ramtek Fort is open to the public, and visitors can explore the fort and the surrounding area. The fort is located approximately 50 kilometers from Nagpur and can be reached by taxi or private vehicle.

Architecture of Karpur Baoli Ramtek:     The Karpur Baoli stepwell is a beautiful example of ancient Indian architecture. The stepwell has a rectangular shape and is 60 feet deep. The stepwell has a series of steps leading down to the water level and is flanked by beautiful arches and intricate carvings.    The stepwell also has a small shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, which is located at the bottom of the well. The shrine has a lingam, which is a representation of Lord Shiva, and is believed to have been constructed during the same period as the stepwell.

Located in the town of Ramtek, Maharashtra, Karpur Baoli is a stepwell that is of significant historical and architectural importance. The stepwell is a hidden gem that is not widely known and is a must-visit for anyone interested in history, architecture, or simply looking for a unique and offbeat travel experience. This is the place we visited first, after reaching Ramtek from Nagpur.

The Golkonda fort is known for its impressive architecture and engineering feats. The fort's walls, gates, and bastions are made of granite blocks that are fitted together without the use of mortar. The fort's acoustics are also remarkable, with its famous "clapping hands" feature that allows a person standing at the entrance to be heard at the highest point of the fort.

Visitors to the Golkonda fort can explore the fort's various structures, including the gates, the imposing walls, and the palaces. The fort's main gate, known as the Fateh Darwaza or Victory Gate, is a majestic structure that stands 13 meters tall and is adorned with intricate carvings and designs. The fort also has several other gates,such as the Balahisar gate and the Makai Darwaza, each with its own unique features and history.

The fort's central area houses several palaces, including the Taramati mosque and the Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shahi tomb. The Taramati mosque is a stunning structure that was built in the 17th century and is known for its intricate carvings and designs. The Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shahi tomb is another notable structure within the fort, built in the memory of the founder of the Qutb Shahi dynasty.

Visitors to the Golkonda fort are also treated to breathtaking views of the city from the fort's highest point. The panoramic views of Hyderabad's skyline, especially during sunset and sunrise, are a must-see for any visitor to the fort.

One of the most spectacular sights at the Golkonda fort is the sunset view from the fort's highest point. As the sun begins to set over the city, the fort'swalls and bastions are bathed in a golden hue, creating a breathtaking sight that is not to be missed.

As the sun sets, the city's skyline is transformed into a picturesque canvas of reds, oranges, and pinks. The Qutb Shahi tombs, located at the foot of the fort, are also illuminated by the setting sun, creating a beautiful contrast against the darkening sky.

Watching the sunset from the Golkonda fort is a magical experience that encapsulates the fort's rich history and its importance in Hyderabad's cultural heritage. It is a moment that will stay with visitors long after they leave the fort, a memory that captures the essence of Hyderabad's beauty and charm.

Hyderabad is a city with a rich cultural heritage and offers a variety of attractions for visitors. Here are some other popular attractions in Hyderabad that you may want to consider visiting:  - Charminar: The Charminar is a globally recognized monument and is the most iconic structure of Hyderabad. It is a historic monument that dates back to the 16th century and is a must-visit attraction in Hyderabad.  - Chowmahalla Palace: The Chowmahalla Palace was the seat of the Nizams of Hyderabad and is a stunning example of the city's architectural heritage. It is a magnificent palace with beautiful gardens, fountains, and courtyards.

Choosing which attraction to visit first in Hyderabad can depend on your interests, available time, and location. However, if I had to recommend one attraction to visit first in Hyderabad, it would be the Charminar.  The Charminar is the most iconic structure of Hyderabad and is a symbol of the city's rich cultural heritage. It is located in the heart of the city, making it easily accessible to visitors. Visiting the Charminar first will give you a taste of Hyderabad's history and architecture. You can take a stroll around the Charminar and explore the nearby markets and shops to experience the city's vibrant culture.

The Golkonda fort is a testament to Hyderabad's rich history and architectural excellence. Its impressive structures, fascinating history, and stunning views make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Hyderabad. It is a perfect place to learn about the city's past, explore its cultural heritage, and experience its architectural wonders.

Located in the town of Medak, approximately 100 kilometers from Hyderabad, the CSI Medak Cathedral is a stunning example of Gothic architecture in India. The cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral Church of the Medak Diocese, is one of the largest churches in Asia and is a popular tourist attraction in Telangana.

Architecture of the CSI Medak Cathedral    The CSI Medak Cathedral is a magnificent structure that combines Gothic and Rajasthani architecture. The cathedral has a central tower that rises to a height of 175 feet and is topped by a spire. The tower houses a large bell that weighs over 3,000 kilos and is one of the largest bells in Asia.

I had the pleasure of visiting Velankanni, a small coastal town in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and I must say it was a truly unique experience. Velankanni is known for its famous Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, a revered Catholic shrine that attracts millions of pilgrims each year.

Velankanni is a small town located on the eastern coast of India in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is famous for the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, also known as the Velankanni Church. The church is a popular pilgrimage site for Christians, especially Catholics, who believe that Mother Mary appeared here in the 16th century and performed miracles.

One of the most exciting places we visited during our road-trip from Noida to Rameshwaram is Danish Fort in Tharangambadi and there are multiple reasons for that. This blogpost will share more about the Danish fort, the amazing places to explore around it, along with specially curated list of tips by Travellingcamera.

Srisailam is a small town located in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, famous for its ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and its natural beauty. The town is situated on the banks of the Krishna River and is surrounded by lush green forests, making it a popular destination for both pilgrims and nature lovers.  The Srisailam temple is one of the most famous and important Shiva temples in India, and is believed to have been built in the 2nd century AD. The temple is situated on a hilltop and is accessible by a flight of steps, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The temple's architecture is a mix of different styles, including Chalukyan, Vijayanagara, and Dravidian, and is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the region.

For nature lovers, Srisailam offers a range of natural attractions, including the Srisailam Dam, the Nagarjuna Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Pathala Ganga. The Srisailam Dam is one of the largest dams in India and is a marvel of modern engineering, providing irrigation and hydroelectric power to the region. The Nagarjuna Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a range of wildlife, including tigers, leopards, sloth bears, and crocodiles, and is a great place for wildlife enthusiasts to explore. The Pathala Ganga is a scenic waterfall located near the Srisailam temple and is a popular spot for picnics and leisurely walks.

The Srisailam temple is known for its intricate and beautiful carvings on the outer walls, which are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the region. The carvings depict various scenes from Hindu mythology, including stories from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, as well as depictions of various deities and saints.

The carvings on the outer wall of the Srisailam temple are a magnificent work of art that showcases the skill and creativity of the artists who created them. Visitors to the temple can spend hours admiring the intricate details and exploring the various scenes depicted on the wall, making it a must-see attraction for anyone visiting this spiritual and cultural wonderland.  Srisailam is a beautiful and spiritual town that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you're a pilgrim seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva or a nature lover looking to explore the forests and hills of Andhra Pradesh, Srisailam has something for everyone.

The Sri Talpagiri Ranganathaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple located in the city of Nellore, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ranganatha, a form of Lord Vishnu, and is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Vaishnavites (devotees of Lord Vishnu).

The Sri Talpagiri Ranganathaswamy Temple is an important center of worship and a symbol of the rich cultural heritage of Andhra Pradesh. It is visited by thousands of devotees every year, especially during the Brahmotsavam festival, which is celebrated with great pomp and show.

Today, the Sri Talpagiri Ranganathaswamy Temple is an important center of worship and a symbol of the rich cultural heritage of Andhra Pradesh. It is visited by thousands of devotees every year, who come to offer their prayers and seek the blessings of Lord Ranganath

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a beautiful church located in Pondicherry, a former French colony in southern India. Here is some additional information about the Basilica:    Architecture of The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a stunning example of neo-Gothic architecture. The church features a cruciform layout and has two tall spires that rise up to 50 meters in height. The interior of the church is adorned with beautiful stained glass windows and intricate carvings.    History of The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:: The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was built in the late 19th century by French missionaries. It is one of the most important landmarks of Pondicherry and attracts visitors from all over the world.    Services at The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an active church and holds regular services throughout the week. Visitors are welcome to attend these services and participate in the religious activities.    Location of The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is located in the heart of Pondicherry's French Quarter, which is known for its historic buildings and charming streets. It is easily accessible by car or auto-rickshaw.    Festivals of The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is known for its vibrant celebrations during Christmas and Easter. The church is beautifully decorated during these festivals, and special services and events are held to mark the occasions.    Museum at The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus also has a museum that showcases the history of Christianity in the region. The museum features a collection of artifacts, paintings, and photographs that tell the story of the church's rich cultural heritage.    The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, architecture, and religion. Its stunning design and rich history make it a unique and fascinating landmark of Pondicherry.

The temple was ornately carved and was an overwhelming structure overall. It felt humbling to be in its presence. It was difficult to believe that this architectural marvel was built in the 11th century. It is said that in order to construct the shikhar, a ramp several miles long was constructed and the huge stones were pulled across it by elephants and horses. I am not sure of the working conditions back then, but the temple, as it stands today, is a fine specimen of the Chola Architecture.

We visited the Thanjavur Palace and saw the amazing Saraswati Mahal Library along with the bell tower and Maratha Palace. After spending a couple of hours here, we started for Tiruchirapalli or Trichy. At the museum inside the Vellore Fort, we had found out about this temple and had decided to try to adjust it into our itinerary. We had found a good route from Thanjavur to Rameswaram through Trichy, which would take us about an hour extra. It seemed like a good tradeoff.

Trichy turned out to be a bit of hit and miss. While the Ranganathaswamy temple was magnificent, other attractions, such as the Rockfort Temple turned out to be a not-so-good decision. We followed Google Maps and took our car inside a lane hoping to park our place close to the temple, from where the climb wouldn't be too steep.

However, we found that the street was too narrow up ahead and the locals advised us not to go any further. All this while, google maps was still showing that the parking was 500 meters further on that very street. We decided to listen to the locals and turned back. After this we thought it would be best to continue toward Rameshwaram because it was already getting late.

Ranganathaswamy temple is a popular Hindu temple located in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ranganatha, a form of Lord Vishnu, and is one of the largest temple complexes in India. The temple is a must-visit destination for travelers interested in exploring the rich culture and heritage of Tamil Nadu.

The temple complex is spread over an area of 156 acres and comprises several sub-temples and shrines. The main temple is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture and is believed to have been built during the 10th century. The temple is surrounded by a high boundary wall and has seven prakaras or enclosures.

One of the most striking features of the temple is its massive gopurams or towers. The temple has 21 gopurams, the tallest of which is the Rajagopuram, which stands at a height of 236 feet. The gopurams are adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures that depict scenes from Hindu mythology.

The main deity of the temple is Lord Ranganatha, who is depicted in a reclining posture on the serpent Adisesha. The sanctum sanctorum is located in the innermost enclosure and is surrounded by several smaller shrines dedicated to other deities.

Visitors are advised to dress modestly and follow the temple customs and traditions. The temple is open from early morning till late evening and offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers interested in exploring the rich cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu.

Visitors to Ranganathaswamy temple should follow certain customs and traditions to show respect for the temple and its deities. Here are some of the customs and traditions that visitors should follow when visiting the temple:  Dress code: Visitors should dress modestly and appropriately when visiting the temple. Men should wear dhotis or pants and shirts, while women should wear sarees or salwar kameez. Shorts, skirts, and sleeveless tops are not allowed inside the temple.  Footwear: Visitors are required to remove their footwear before entering the temple. The temple provides shoe stands where visitors can keep their footwear.  Photography: Photography is not allowed inside the temple. Visitors should refrain from taking pictures of the deities or any other sacred objects inside the temple.  Silence: Visitors should maintain silence inside the temple and refrain from talking loudly or making noise. The temple is a place of worship, and visitors should show respect for the devotees who come to pray.  Offerings: Visitors can make offerings of flowers, fruits, or prasad to the deities inside the temple. These offerings can be purchased from shops inside the temple complex.  Temple timings: Visitors should check the temple timings before visiting the temple. The temple is open from early morning till late evening, and there are specific timings for darshan or viewing of the deities.  Respect for the deities: Visitors should show respect for the deities inside the temple and should not touch them or climb on the platforms where they are placed.

The temple is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture and is known for its intricate carvings, sculptures, and towering gopurams. The temple complex is spread over an area of 156 acres and comprises several sub-temples and shrines.

The temple's main deity is Lord Ranganatha, who is depicted in a reclining posture on the serpent Adisesha. The sanctum sanctorum is located in the innermost enclosure and is surrounded by several smaller shrines dedicated to other deities.

The Tirthan Valley is a perfect destination for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and get closer to nature. With its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and adventure activities, the valley is a must-visit for anyone who loves the mountains.

Nestled amidst the lush green hills of Himachal Pradesh, Sarahan is a hidden gem that is often overlooked by travelers. But for those who do venture to this beautiful hill station, the rewards are plenty. With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality, Sarahan is a destination that is sure to leave a lasting impression on any traveler.

Rampur Bushahr: Rampur Bushahr is a small town located in the Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh. The town is located on the banks of the Sutlej River and is surrounded by lush green forests and mountains. Some of the things to do and places to visit in Rampur Bushahr: Padam Palace, Nirath, Raghupur Fort, Lavi Fair, Kupvi..

Chitkul: Chitkul is a small village located near the Indo-Tibetan border and is known for its natural beauty. The village is home to the Chitkul Mata Temple, which is a popular pilgrimage site.

This small hike was quite an event for us and had wonderful time in Trivannamalai.

One of the highlights of my visit to the palace was the viewing of the famous Tanjore paintings. These paintings, which originated in the Tanjavur region, are known for their intricate details and vibrant colors. The palace has a collection of these paintings, which are a must-see for anyone interested in Indian art.

The Tanjavur Palace, also known as Thanjavur Maratha Palace, has several courtyards that are known for their vibrant colors and intricate designs. One of the most colorful courtyards in the palace is the Saraswathi Mahal Courtyard.

The Saraswathi Mahal Courtyard is located in the center of the palace and is surrounded by a series of pillared halls. The courtyard is known for its colorful murals, which depict scenes from Indian mythology and history. The murals are painted in bright colors such as red, blue, green, and yellow and are a feast for the eyes.

The courtyard also has a beautiful garden with several varieties of plants and trees. The garden is designed in a traditional Indian style and has a central fountain that adds to the beauty of the space. The courtyard is also home to several peacocks, which add to the overall charm of the place.

The Nandi statue is located in the courtyard of the palace and is a popular attraction among visitors. The statue is made of black granite and is believed to date back to the 16th century. It is one of the largest Nandi statues in India, measuring around 12 feet in length and 9 feet in height.

The statue is intricately carved with intricate details such as the folds of the skin, the hair on the hump, and the jewelry on the ears. The statue is also adorned with floral motifs and other decorative elements, adding to its overall beauty.  The Nandi statue is considered an important part of the cultural heritage of Tanjavur and is revered by the people of the region. It is believed that Lord Shiva used to ride on the back of Nandi, and the statue is therefore considered a sacred symbol of the deity.

Here is a photograph of colourful walls and ceiling of museum inside Thanjavur Palace in Tamilnadu. The place is rich in colours and art.

Above photograph shows a huge Thanjavur doll in the background. Tanjavur Dolls, also known as Thanjavur Thalayatti Bommai in Tamil, are traditional Indian dolls that originated in the town of Thanjavur (Tanjavur) in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. These dolls are made by skilled artisans who specialize in this art form and are popular for their intricate workmanship and attention to detail.  Tanjavur dolls are usually made of clay and are painted with bright colors and adorned with jewelry and other decorative elements. The dolls typically depict characters from Indian mythology such as gods, goddesses, and other mythological figures. They are also made to represent everyday life situations such as a bride and groom, a musician, or a dancer.  The making of Tanjavur dolls is a complex process that involves several stages. The first stage involves the creation of the clay structure of the doll. The artisans then paint the dolls using natural dyes and pigments. The final stage involves the addition of jewelry and other embellishments, which are made of materials such as beads, pearls, and gold foil.

Tanjavur dolls are not just decorative items, but they are also considered as an important part of cultural heritage and are used in various rituals and ceremonies. The dolls are also popular as souvenirs and gifts and are often given as gifts during weddings and other special occasions.

As I approached Vellore Fort, I was struck by the imposing walls that surrounded the massive fortress. Located in the heart of the city of Vellore in Tamil Nadu, India, the fort is a testament to the architectural and engineering skills of the ancient rulers who built it.

The temple offers excellent views of the surrounding forest and hills and also of the Rameshwaram city. Also visible from here is the Doordarshan tower, backwaters, some ancient shrines, and almost the entire Rameshwaram city.

In addition to the church and the beach, Velankanni has several other attractions such as the Velankanni Matha Shrine, the Nagapattinam Lighthouse, and the Velankanni Museum. The town also hosts the annual Velankanni Festival, which is a grand celebration that takes place in August and September, attracting thousands of devotees and tourists.

The churches of Velankanni, especially the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, are considered important by Catholics because of the belief that Mother Mary appeared here in the 16th century and performed miracles.

While in Ahmedabad city of Gujrat, we planned a day trip tp Patan for seeing UNESCO World Heritage site Rani ni Vav which is also used on Indian 100 rupee note. On the way, we also thought of taking a detour through Adlaj ni Vav, which is a beautiful stepwell and a popular tourist place in Gujrat. This blogpost shares more about Adlaj ni Van, what makes it special, tips to make this trip special and a lot more, which some surprising facts.

Shimla is one of the most popular tourist destinations in North India and that's why we also receive lot of queries through form on our blog. Most of the folks commonly ask - Shimla Weather, Shimla Hotels, How to reach Shimla from Delhi/Chandigarh, main places to visit in Shimla, Shimla mall road etc. In past, we have shared some of these details on our blog, but here is an attempt to write a comprehensive post which helps you with details about various ways to reach Shimla from Delhi, Chandigarh or Kalka.

Hidden among the snow covered hills of Shrikhand Mountian Ranges, which are known for their mythological significance and is said to be one of the adobe of Lord Shiva, this unknown village beckon those with an adventurous spirit as its beautiful landscape and lush green valley will take your breath away.

One can say that this village is a true hidden gem in plain sight. But we will talk about the village in another post. In this post, we will focus on one specific haveli here. This haveli is now known as Chateau Garli and is a heritage hotel now.   Related Blogpost - 'Dhauladhar Rangers' is re-defining camping experience around Himalayas

Rewalsar is home to several monasteries that offer a glimpse into the town's rich cultural and spiritual heritage. Here are some of the main monasteries to explore in Rewalsar:    Drikung Kagyu Monastery: The Drikung Kagyu Monastery is one of the largest monasteries in Rewalsar and is home to several monks and nuns. The monastery was founded in the 15th century and is known for its beautiful architecture and intricate paintings. Visitors can also participate in meditation and prayer sessions at the monastery.

If you are in Ahmedabad and have few days to explore places around this part of Gujrat, it makes sense to plan a day tour to Patan to witness these wonderful stepwell called Rani Ki Vav, which is also a UNESCO's World Heritage site. Rani Ki Vav is also popularly known as largest stepwell in Gujrat state of India. This blogpost shares some photographs of the stepwell, it's different stages, entry ticket fees details, timings and other interesting things to see around Rani ki Vav along with details of places you can skip & save time to do something better during your trip in Gujrat.

In above photograph, notice 2 folks on the top looking down at Rani ki Vav in Patan and the view from there is mind blowing. Next photograph is clicked from the same spot. If you are there and trying to have this view, don't climb up the boundary and better use your cameras to witness the view through digital advancements.    Rani Ki Vav is classified as a Nanda-type stepwell. It measures approximately 65 metres long, 20 metres wide and 28 metres deep. The entrance is located in the east while the well is located at the westernmost end and consists of a shaft 10 metres in diameter and 30 metres deep.

Rani ki vav of Patan is considered as the finest and one of the largest example of stepwell architecture in Gujarat. The architecture and sculptures is similar to the Vimalavasahi temple on Mount Abu and Sun temple at Modhera.      It is worth to hire a guide to know. You can negotiate with guide to pay 200-400 rupees for one hour. You will have to walk for almost one kilometer inside.

Above photograph shows a special view of the core of the stepwell. There is a walking trail at the top this stepwell which revolves around the boundary of the stepwell. This photograph doesn't show the real depth which was hard to capture well, given how this walking trail is built. and this photograph shows 3 levels from core of Rani ki Vav in Patan, Gujrat.

The Sun temple complex in Modhera is built in Chaulukya style. The temple complex has three components - the shrine  garbhagriha in a hall called gudhamandapa, the outer assembly hall sabhamandapa and a sacred reservoir with water in it.    Above photograph shows Sabhamandapa on the top and water reservoir in the front. Gudhamandapa is in the back side of the temple you see on the top.

We sat around this water reservoir for a long time, before we saw the main temple on the top. I walked around all four walls of this stepwell at Modhera Sun Temple. It was pretty hot in the month of October, so we took some small breaks around shade.

If you are planning to visit Modhera Sun Temple, plan to go earlier in the morning to beat the worst of the sun.     This is the 2nd temple which is devoted to Lord Sun after Konark Temple at Orissa state of India. Modhera Sun Temple is 30-40km from Mehsana which is 70-80km from Capital Ahmadabad.

It was very easy for us to get an Auto-richshaw from old town of Ahemdabad, so we took auto to reach Dada Harir Vav. While we had to come back, we couldn't get an auto. Although there were few autos parked but it seems everybody wanted to have a lunch break. We booked ola and that was pretty quick & convenient option.

It was drizzling when we were at Dada Harir Vav in Ahmedabad and my phone did fantastic job at clicking this beautiful effect. Please have a look at above photograph with rain drops around Dada Harir Vav. Thanks to the lighting condition which made shutter speed go slow to capture the scene well and also capture these rain-drops beautifully.

Above photograph is probably clicked from 2nd level of the stepwell from bottom. Each floor is spacious and at times it's hard to guess how many floors you need to go down to see water-body.

Travellingcamera loved the architecture of the Jama Masjid and that was the reason to go to these heritage places in old part of the city & capture through Travellingcamera. The Jam Masjid in Ahmedabad is built with yellow sandstone. This mosque has a large rectangular courtyard which is approximately 75 meters long and 66 meters wide. Visitors enter the court by three entrances, one at the center of each side. The courtyard is lined with a colonnade on three sides, the prayer hall occupies the fourth side.     Related Blogpost from Gujrat - Travelling Camera in Gujarat || Exploring the Remains of Harappan Culture in Lothal

If you ask about the place with best architecture Travellingcamera loved clicking in Ahmedabad - It's Jama Masjid in Old Ahmedabad. It's such a beautiful and peaceful place surrounded by lot of hustle-bustle of old town of Ahmedabad in Gujrat. We spent some time around the Jama Masjid and then headed to Tomb of Ahmed Shah and Rani no Hajiro. This Blogpost talks about Jama Masjid, what's sp speical about it, main places to explore around Ahmedbad Mosque, interesting things to do, how to reach this part of the city along with lot of tips to make the visit more memorable.     Related Blogpost from Gujrat - Law Ground Night Market - A colourful sight in Ahmedabad city of Gujrat

When you go search main places to visit & see in Ahemdabad, you would also see Sidi Sayyed Mosque in the lists. And then you plan you day according to the locations of these places. As you reach around the location, it's not as easy to locate Sidi Sayyed Mosque. This is located aroun very busy roads and it's small size makes a little hidden in all the hustle-bustle. The first glance at Sidi Sayyed Mosque was a little disappointing but because we had read a little more about Sidi Sayyed Mosque, it's architecture and famous art-work in terms of Jali-work you see in above photograph, we could appreciate the place, it's surroundings and people walking by. This Blog-post shares more Sidi Sayyed Mosque & some tips around what else to explore around this part of Ahmedabad City in Gujrat.

The Sun temple complex in Modhera is built in Chaulukya style. The temple complex has three components - the shrine  garbhagriha in a hall called gudhamandapa, the outer assembly hall sabhamandapa and a sacred reservoir with water in it.    We sat around this water reservoir for a long time, before we saw the main temple on the top. I walked around all four walls of this stepwell at Modhera Sun Temple. It was pretty hot in the month of October, so we took some small breaks around shade.

The Brihadeeshwara Temple is also known for its intricate carvings and sculptures. The walls of the temple are adorned with beautiful carvings of gods, goddesses, and mythological creatures. The temple also features several mandapas (halls) that are adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures.

The Brihadeeshwara Temple, also known as the Big Temple, is an ancient temple located in the town of Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It was built in the 11th century by the Chola dynasty, one of the most powerful and influential dynasties in South India.

There are several interesting legends and myths associated with the Brihadeeshwara Temple in Thanjavur. Here are a few:  Legend of the Nandi: According to the legend, King Raja Raja Chola, who built the temple, wanted to install a massive Nandi (the bull mount of Lord Shiva) statue in front of the temple. However, the priests told him that the statue would be too heavy to move. The king then had a brilliant idea - he ordered that a pit be dug in the exact spot where the statue was to be installed. The statue was then placed in the pit and covered with earth, making it look like the bull was sitting in its place.

The Brihadeeshwara Temple in Thanjavur has multiple Shivlingas inside the temple complex. The main Shivlinga, which is the primary deity of the temple, is located in the inner sanctum or garbhagriha of the temple.

The eastern gopuram is the main entrance to the temple complex and is known as the Keralantakan Tiruvasal. This gopuram is the tallest of the four and stands at a height of 66 metres. It is also the most ornate, with several levels of carvings and sculptures that depict various scenes from Hindu mythology.

Brihadisvara Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram: This temple was also built by King Rajendra Chola I and is similar in design to the Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur. The temple is known for its towering vimana (tower) and its exquisite sculptures.

One manuscript that I remember particularly well is a study in anatomy of human faces. The researcher had classified common shapes of human faces and drawn parallels with the shapes of animal's faces. As per the study, there are people whose faces are shaped like that of a mouse, or a cat, or a goal, or a monkey etc. The study was supported by many detailed drawings. It was quite intriguing.

Tiruvannamalai Temple is also known as Annamalaiyar temple and the complex is spread over an area of 25 acres and is built at the base of the Arunachala hill. The main deity of the temple is Lord Arunachaleswarar, who is believed to be a manifestation of Lord Shiva. The temple has several other shrines dedicated to various deities, including Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha, Lord Murugan, and Lord Vishnu.

Next thing to know is what all are you skipping when you explore only these 2 things in Khajuraho and let me explain each of those with reasoning. I am doing it so that you know my reasons and that may not align with your priorities. If it happens, you should skip this blogpost and create your own plan.  1. Khajuraho has more temples apart from it’s western group of temples and they are spread across different directions of the town. Most of the them are not so well maintained and smaller in comparison to what you will see in western clusture of temples. Architecture is also similar. Now this can be interesting for someone who wants to explore all temples along with understanding history & thought process associated with these temples. If you are that person, you simply forget about the Raneh falls and have a guide for full day exploration of these temples in Khajuraho town.

Khajuraho has three groups of temples - Western, Eastern and Southern. Of these, the Western Group of Temples is the most famous. This is the place that is most frequented  by tourists. It is also at the center of Khajuraho, opposite the most happening marketplace and cafe street. It is also the place where the Light and Sound Show happens.

When Kashi Naresh Maharaja Balwant Singh built the Ramnagar Fort on the Bank of the Holy River Ganga in 1750, world was a very different place. For one, the words "Naresh" and "Maharaja" actually meant something beyond just titles. You were responsible and accountable for the safety and prosperity of your people.

Having a strong and imposing fort to symbolize the financial and military strength of your kingdom was usually what most of the visionary Kings resorted to. So you see some really magnificent and overwhelming forts scattered all over the world, mostly from the middle ages.

While most of the fort can be explored without paying any entry charges, in order to view the museum, you need to purchase a ticket worth Rs 50 per person. The museum has a very quirky collection of vintage imported cars, some guns and other weapons, sliver plated elephant saddles, intricately embroidered costumes made of kimkhwa silk, etc. One can really see how different life would have been at one time.

Ramnagar Fort in Varanasi is managed by the Kashi Naresh (the hereditary ruler of Kashi or Varanasi), who is currently Anant Narayan Singh. The fort is a private property of the Kashi Naresh and is not under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India or any other government agency. The management of the fort is primarily the responsibility of the Kashi Naresh and his family, with the help of a few caretakers and staff members. However, the Uttar Pradesh State Tourism Department also plays a role in promoting the fort as a tourist destination and providing basic facilities for visitors.

Overall the Ramnagar Fort is a good place to visit if you happen to be in Banaras. You can still see glimpses of the past luxury and prosperity of this royal kingdom. You can imagine how beautiful the fort must have been in its days of glory. Hopefully the current Maharaja will also be able to carry out some maintenance and ensure that the fort gets the attention that it deserves.

I have read some old reports (from 2016-17) on the Internet that the gardens aren't well maintained. However the state seems to have improved now. This made the sight of the cenotaphs dotting the lush green landscape against a startling blue sky with cottony clouds, rather beautiful. And the fact that the buildings are made of red sandstone also adds to the beauty.

The structure was built during the reign of Maharaja Ajit Singh (1704-1724). It seems to have been built to serve the purpose of a watch tower to keep an eye of the happenings in the surrounding area. The structure is simply too beautiful for that though.

Anyway after spending hours exploring this beautiful garden, we decided to head out for some lunch because we were obviously famished. And we did not have to venture too far. Because right outside we found just the option that we were looking for - Kachoris. Read more about this lunch here.

The last stop that we made while travelling from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur was Mandore and it truly took our breath away. If you search Google about what all is there to see in Mandore, it will give you a list of places. What it won't tell you (easily) is that most of these stunning places are located within one walled compound that is well-maintained and lush green, which is popularly known as the Mandore Garden.

Another artefact of note at the entrance of the Mehrangarh fort is the stone with 31 carved handprints. These are said to be the handprints of wives and mistresses of Maharaja Man Singh who died in 1843. This led to his widows and concubines following him into his burning pyre. The sight of this stone sends shivers down my spine. World was such a different place back then.

Mehrangarh fort, Jodhpur, is one of the most imposing forts I have seen till date. It even has a lift at the ground level to take tourists up to the central courtyard, without which many people would not be able to explore the fort and would have to return from the entrance.

Then there was the matter of Maharaja Ajit Singh who was actually murdered by his own son Abhai Singh who felt that because of the less than warm equation that Ajit Singh shared with the Mughal Emperor, the emperor would soon plan to annex Jodhpur. So he had his father assassinated. At the time of his death in 1724, Ajit Singh was only 44 years old.

Coming back to the present day state of things at the fort, at the face of it, the structure is holding up really well. The magnificent fort has walls that look really sturdy and buildings that show minimal wear and tear. The fort is also being looked after really well.

Mehrangarh derives its name from "Mihir", which means the Sun, which was the chief deity of the Rathore clan. The fort itself, though started by Maharaja Rao Jodha, was in continuous state of development with each new Maharaja adding more sections to it. And therefore, you will find the signs of various styles of architecture as they gained and lost popularity over the centuries.

While the fort was first built during the reign of Maharaja Rao Jodha (starting from year 1459), much of the fort as it stands today actually came up during the reign of Maharaja Jaswant Singh (1638-1678). The fort is spread across a hill over an area of 5 kilometers.

The entry to the fort is through seven gates - the first one of which is the Jai Pol, built by Maharaja Man Singh after his victory over Jaipur in 1806. Fateh Pol was built after a victory over the Mughals in 1707. Then there are the Gopal Pol, Dedh Kangra Pol, and Amruti Pol. Then comes the Loha Pol, where you will find the Sati handprints. And the last one is the Suraj Pol, which provides you access to the Palace Complex and Daulat Khana Chowk.

Despite all this opulence inside, what actually is the most beautiful is the stark rock structure that stands amid all the natural vegetation, on the top of a hill, against a clear blue sky. If you had all this to make your day beautiful, I wonder why you would surround yourselves with Jewels and Pearls.

These tall, towering walls, gates, and arches, make you feel rather small and also give you a new respect for people who were able to bring it all together despite the absence of modern-day machinery, relying solely on human resiliency and creativity and animal power.

You can also find elephant howdahs, which are basically two compartment seats to be used to ride an elephant. These howdahs are obviously intricately carved and covered in silver and gold sheets. These too were meant for Kings or Royals to travel, with a seat for a mahaut as well.

The Daulat Khana is a museum that displays some of the best-preserved and most important examples of the fine art prevalent during the Mughal Period. Apart from the Daulat Khana, there are also some galleries that display some of the finest examples of paintings from the Marwar region of Rajasthan.

There is an impressive gallery of armory which has weapons from various periods of the history of Jodhpur. There are sword hilts that are studded with Jade, Rubies, Emeralds etc. And there are guns with barrels adorned with gold and silver plating. Also on display is Maharaja Rao Jodha's khanda (a wide and straight sword), which weighs around 3 kgs. It also houses Samrat Akbar's sword and also that of Timur.

There is also a turban gallery that houses various types of turbans that are worn by the men from various regions of Rajasthan. Overall the fort has a fascinating collection of artefacts on display. And the various palaces themselves are works of art.

There is also a terrace that overlooks the blue city with a wall that has several cannons jutting out toward the city. It is quite an imposing sight and one can imagine the feelings such a grand fort would evoke in armies who chose to attack the fort. They would have felt overwhelmed, anxious, and also a desperation to conquer such a fort.

As I mentioned, the fort is grand and in a good shape. Once you have climbed all the way up to Daulat Chowk, you can roam around at leisure and spend the entire day there. There is also a restaurant, which is at the expensive side, where you can have a meal in case for some reason you were not able to pack sandwiches for yourself.

And the biryani we had outside Gandikota fort after fasting for nearly 24 hours was worth it too. It was simply amazing and our first taste of authentic dum biryani down south. By this time, we had switched from tea to filter coffee and even though we couldn't get coffee at Gandikota, we made a brief stop for it on our way.

By now we were debating where to search for a hotel for our night stay. We didn't want to stay at Gandikota because the drive next day to Thanjavur would be hectic. Moreover, the hotels we saw didn't appear exciting. Our next planned stop was at Horsley hills, so we decided to book a hotel at Madanapalle, which was about 30 kilometers from Horsley Hills. And we were fortunate to find a good option.   This is where we had our first dosa and it was amazing. It was a simple, family-run restaurant right next to our hotel. We packed it up with an amazing cup of coffee at a popular outlet on the street.

As far as recommending a stop here goes, I would not really do so. The fort is not open, and there is pretty much nothing else to see here. But if you chance upon this place, do stop at the lake for a bit. It is a nice place.

Jaisalmer Fort is a living fort, which means that the descendents of the original inhabitants of the fort are still living there. As a result, within the fort walls you will find an active and thriving city with all the characteristics of old cities. 

We had headed to the walls to watch the sunset. There are several great spots inside the Jaisalmer Fort from which to watch the sunset. Some of the most popular options include the rampart, along which visitors can walk and take in the views of the surrounding city and desert landscape as the sun sets.

The Jaisalmer Fort was unlike any other fort I had ever seen. It was a living, pulsating mini-city. It's lanes and yellow sandstone walls will forever stay in my memories.

Visitors to the fort can walk along the walls and enjoy the views of the surrounding city, as well as the many carvings and sculptures. The walls of the fort are also well-lit at night, providing a spectacular view of the fort and the city. The Jaisalmer Fort walls are considered as one of the most impressive and well-preserved examples of Rajput military architecture and are a must-see for anyone visiting Jaisalmer.

Inside the fort, there are several gates that lead into the fort, the most famous of them is the "Suraj Pol" or "Sun Gate" which is the main entrance to the fort. The gates are adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures and are highly decorative.

The fort is built on top of a hill and covers an area of around 30 acres. It is surrounded by a 10 km long wall, which has 99 bastions and four main gateways. Inside the fort, there are several palaces, temples, and havelis (traditional Rajasthani houses), many of which are now used as hotels and museums.

The Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, Jodhpur features four main trails for visitors to explore:  The Heritage Trail: This trail takes visitors on a journey through the history of Jodhpur, showcasing the city's rich heritage and culture. It includes a visit to the ruins of the 15th century Mandore Fort, the famous Mehrangarh Fort, and the Jaswant Thada Cenotaph.

The best time to visit the Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, Jodhpur would be during the winter months, from November to February. During these months, the weather is pleasant with cooler temperatures and lower humidity, which makes for comfortable outdoor activities. This time is also when the park's flora and fauna are at their best and you can expect to see many migratory birds and other animals.  Additionally, the park also offers guided tours, bird watching and other activities, which may be more comfortable during this time. It is advisable to check with the park authorities before visiting to know more about the schedule of activities and availability of guides.  Keep in mind that summer temperatures in Jodhpur can get quite high, so it's best to avoid visiting the park during the months of May through September.

One of the many advantages of a road trip is the flexibility to make a stop whenever there is a need and explore the places on the route. We leveraged this extensively during our travel across Rajasthan recently and while doing that came across some very interesting stops. One of these was Osian, and ancient town in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan.

One of the many advantages of a road trip is the flexibility to make a stop whenever there is a need and explore the places on the route. We leveraged this extensively during our travel across Rajasthan recently and while doing that came across some very interesting stops. One of these was Osian, and ancient town in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan.

One of the many advantages of a road trip is the flexibility to make a stop whenever there is a need and explore the places on the route. We leveraged this extensively during our travel across Rajasthan recently and while doing that came across some very interesting stops. One of these was Osian, and ancient town in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan.

Tharangambadi, also known as Tranquebar (the name which is more familiar to folks who studied history in India), is a small town located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. The town is home to one of the most historically significant sites in the region, the Danish Fort. Before this visit, I had never heard about any 'Danish' fort in India.

Gandikota is a small village located in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is situated on the banks of the Pennar River and is known for its magnificent fortress, which dates back to the 13th century. There is a beautiful canyon near this fortress which is often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of India" due to its striking resemblance to the famous landmarks in the United States.

Above photograph shows a view of Mosque inside Gandikota Fort. The Gandikota Fort was built by the Pemmasani dynasty in the 13th century and was later passed on to the Vijayanagara Empire. It was used as a strategic military stronghold and served as a key point of defense against invasions from the Bahmani Sultanate. The fort is a unique blend of Islamic and Hindu architectural styles, which can be seen in its various structures such as the Juma Masjid, Ranganatha Temple, and the Madhavaraya Temple.

Gandikota is not just a place for history and architecture enthusiasts, but also a perfect destination for nature lovers, photographers, and adventurers. The breathtaking views of the Penna River Gorge and the surrounding landscape, the historic fort, temples, and the peaceful atmosphere of the village, make it an ideal location for a weekend getaway.

Let's touch upon a little about how to reach Gandikota ?  By Air - Tirupati Airport at Renigunta and Bengaluru International Airport at Bangalore are the nearest airports to Gandikota. One can take a flight to either of them and cover the rest of the distance to Gandikota by bus or private cab. Bengaluru Airport is ~340 km from Gandikota while Tirupati Airport is ~220 km away from the same.

Above photograph shows Madhavaraya Temple , which is a 16th century Hindu temple located in the Gandikota Fort, in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, India. Dedicated to Krishna, this temple is also known as Madhava Perumal Temple or Madhavaraya Swamy Temple. The Government of India has designated it as a Monument of National Importance.

It is no secret that old cities are best explored on foot. One reason for that is that when you are walking you tend to notice and observe things more closely. You are more comfortable stopping whenever you spot something interesting. And at times it is impossible to take your vehicle inside the narrow lanes where the heart of the city actually is.

Gadisar lake was initially built by the founding king of Jaisalmer, Rawal Jaisal in the 12th century. At that point in time, it was known as Jaisalsar. It was later rebuilt by Maharawal Gadsi Singh in the 14th century and then came to be known as Gadisar or Gadsisar or Gadaria Lake.

Vijay Stambha in Chittor Fort of Rajasthan - The highest monument inside India's Largest Fort : Victory Tower of Mewar with stunning carvings on it & a special place to great Panoramic views of Chittorgarh When you are out in Chittor Fort for exploration, you head towards the famous Vijay Stambha after visiting Rana Kumbha Palace. Vijay Stambha is one of the most special monument which helps many reconnect with Chittor Fort. The Vijaya Stambha is a victory monument located within Chittor Fort in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan India. This blogpost shares more about Vijay Stambha, other important places around this beautiful tower and some related facts/history associated.

Bada Bagh is another place in Jaisalmer, apart from Vyas Chhatri, where you can find beautiful cenotaphs. These Chhatris were built to commemorate the various kings who have ruled Jaisalmer over the centuries. The number of Chhatris here are much larger than the Vyas chhatris though and the size and beauty of the chhatris vary based on the position of person for whom it was constructed.

Vyas Chhatris are a group of cenotaphs built on a piece of raised ground in Jaisalmer. These cenotaphs are dedicated to the sage Vyas, who wrote Mahabharat, and are built on what actually is a cremation ground for Brahmins. The surroundings are very basti-like and the existence of these beautiful Chhatris here is very surprising in these surroundings.

Once you reach there, you will see some buildings that will not appear too much like ruins to you. They have been renovated recently the the Archeological Survey of India to give the visitors some idea about how the ruins must have looked before they were abandoned and started falling down.

The British officer James Tod recorded the 1815 population of Kuldhara as 800 (in 200 households). It seems that by this time the Paliwals had already started deserting the village. By 1890, the population of the village had declined to 37 people; the number of houses was recorded as 117.

Mythological creatures, floral patterns, and vines adorn the walls and entrances. You see sharduls and guards on the pillars and delicate latticework on the windows. The latticework is even more spectacular in the main Parshwanath Jain Temple.

If you are headed toward Sam Sand Dunes or toward Kuldhara, this is worth a stop. We do not recommend going there for the lake, but do go there if you are interested in visiting some of the most beautiful Jain temples in the country.

The first of the palaces was built in 1805 and was the second haveli to be built in the region. All palaces were complete by 1860 but the first one remains the grandest of them all. You stand in the vicinity of these mansions and you look up, I can bet it will be an overwhelming sight. One that will stay in your memories for the longest.

A wealthy merchant by the name of Guman Chand Patwa commissioned the haveli in 1805. These havelis were also known as the "mansion of brocade merchants" because these merchants were engaged in the trade of threads of silver and gold meant for the purpose of embroidery.

There are countless aches here, and balconies as well. There are jharokhas and intricate latticework that is trademark of Rajputana Architecture. The building stands like a jewel in these narrow and crowded streets of Jaisalmer. It is as much at home here as it is out of place. The feeling is very difficult to explain.

And if you are in luck, you might even spot some migratory birds here, May blogs on the Internet claim that this is because of the closeness of the Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary. However, considering that Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is more than 700 kms away from this place. There needs to be more than that that brings migratory birds to this remote part of Rajasthan.

With that we come to an interesting structure that is known as Tilon ki Pol. This 14th-century gateway, which straddles the road down to Gadisar, is said to have been built by a famous courtesan. When she offered to pay to have it constructed, the maharawal refused permission on the grounds that he would have to pass under it to go down to the tank, which would be beneath his dignity. While he was away, she built the gate anyway, adding a Krishna temple on top so the king could not tear it down.

Pokharan fort is a 14th century building, which was commissioned by Rao Maldeo, the chief of Champawats, one of the clans of Rathores of Marwar-Jodhpur Rajputs. The fort is currently owned by the Pokaran family, specifically Thakur Nagendra Singh Pokaran and his wife Thakurani Yashwant Kumari Pokaran who have opened it to general public by turning a part of it into a heritage hotel.

While we were roaming around in the premises, we came across a group of elderly gentlemen from Gujarat who had come on a tour here. They were all dressed in traditional attire of white dhoti kurtas and matching turbans and many of them were carrying laths (staff).

The floor itself has several interconnected palaces just like most forts and some of these palaces are 3-4 floors high and it is always fun to explore these passages and imagine how people in earlier times would have led their lives.

We were here for a couple of hours and it turned out to be a really good stop. It was relaxing and well worth the time spent. Apart from the fort, while you are at Pokaran you can also visit the Chhatris that were built to commemorate queens who committed Sati.

While in the other lanes you find people riding practical vehicles such as scooties or three-wheelers at max, here the situation is different.  In fact this is also that part of the old Bikaner where you can find large SUVs parked in narrow streets and you find yourself wondering 'how the hell did these get here?"

The first of these havelis is rumored to have been initiated in the 1400s by the wealthy Rampuria merchants. They hired Balujee Chalva to construct palatial and stately homes for their families. The instructions were to spare no expense and use the best possible material and hire the most talented artisans.

The havelis have been constructed by the Dulmera red sandstone and are an amalgamation of Mughal, Victorian, and Rajputana architecture. The intricate work on the stones, the jharokhas, latticework, and the terraces make for a striking presence in these streets.

For example, right next to the Daulat Pol (one of the gates of the Junagarh Fort) are 41 handprints of women. Allegedly these are handprints of the queens who committed Sati after their kings were killed in battle. Our guide didn't even talk about these. I only found out about these when I was reading up on the fort post our visit.

Anyway, moving on from that morbid topic. Let's talk about how the Fort became what it is today. It wasn't built in a day. In fact, it took generations of Maharajas who kept on adding newer palaces to the fort. It all started with Raja Rai Singhji, the sixth ruler of Bikaner. The foundation for the fort was laid on 17 Feb 1589, and the construction completed on 17 January 1594.

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