Ladakh - a word which means "land of high passes", is a region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir of Northern India sandwiched between the Karakoram mountain range to the north and the Himalayas to the south.
It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in India. Historically, the region included the Indus Valley, the remote Zanskar to the south, and Nubra valleys to the north over Khardung La in the Ladakh mountain range. Ladakh borders Tibet to the east, the Lahul and Spiti to the south, Kashmir to the west, and Central Asia to the north.
Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture which was established as early as the 2nd century. This has given rise to the appellation "Little Tibet", as it has strongly been influenced by the culture of Tibet.
People, Religion & Culture
The inhabitants of Ladakh are distinct from other parts of India. The faces and physique of Ladakhis, and the clothes they wear are more akin to those of Tibet and central Asia. In eastern and central Ladakh, today’s population seems to be mostly of Tibetan origin. Further west, in and around Kargil, there is much in the people’s appearance that suggests a mixed origin. The Ladakhi people are a hospitable, smiling, hardy lot, friendly and open.
Buddhism reached Tibet from India via Ladakh, and there are ancient Buddhist rock engravings all over the region, even in areas like Drass and the lower Suru Valley which today are inhabited by an exclusively Muslim population.
Islam came from the west. A peaceful penetration, its success was guaranteed by the early conversion of the sub-rulers of Dras, Kargil and the Suru Valley.
Of the secular culture, the most important element is the rich oral literature of songs and poems for every occasion, as well as local versions of the Kesar Saga, the Tibetan national epic. This literature is common to both Muslims & Buddhists. Among the many social and cultural events of Ladakh, the annual festivals held in the Buddhist monasteries constitute the most important part of the regions living heritage. The architecture of Ladakh contains Tibetan and Indian influences, and reflects a deeply Buddhist approach. The Buddhist wheel, along with two dragons, is a common feature on every Gompa. The Chörten have four-sided walls in Ladakh, as opposed to round walls in parts of Tibet. Many of the houses and monasteries are built on elevated, sunny sites facing the south, and are often made out a mixture of rocks, wood, cement and earth.
Customs & Traditions
The ladakhis are predominantly an agricultural people. This, and the religion they practice, Buddhism, has deeply impacted their customs and traditions. Their family and social organizations reflect the values of a people dependent on the land and scarce land at that for their sustenance and for all their resources. The practice of inheritance by primogeniture, ‘fraternal polyandry’ and the withdrawal of the older members of the family as soon as the eldest son is mature enough and ready to take on the family responsibilities, are all examples of the same. The custom of inheritance by primogeniture, in which the eldest son inherits the fathers’ property, also ensures that the land is not carved up in ever decreasing portions, making it unprofitable to cultivate. The younger sons have to accept the suzerainty of the eldest if they continue to live with him. They also share the wife of the eldest brother so that the number of progeny is limited. Any brother who wishes to marry on his own must set up a separate establishment and he has no share in the ancestral property. Today these are only practiced in remote village’s deep interior.
The ladakhis also have a very strong sense of community. Sowing and reaping for instance are community activities in which all members of a village will participate irrespective of whose field is being ploughed.
Ladakhi culture is similar to Tibetan culture. Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being Thukpa, noodle soup; and Tsumpa, known in Ladakhi as Ngampe, roasted barley flour, eatable without cooking it makes useful, if dull trekking food. A dish that is strictly Ladakhi is skyu, a heavy pasta dish with root vegetables. As Ladakh moves toward less sustainable, cash based economy, foods from the plains of India are becoming more common.
Like in other parts of Central Asia, tea in Ladakh is traditionally made with strong black tea, butter, and salt. It is mixed in a large churn and known as gurgur cha, due to the sound of mixing it. Sweet tea (cha ngarmo) is common now, made Indian style with milk and sugar. Chang, an alcoholic beverage, is made from barley, and has a yeasty taste slightly similar to sake.
Geography of Ladakh
Ladakh is India’s highest plateau (much of it being over 3,000 m), spanning the Himalayan and Karakoram Mountain ranges and the upper Indus River valley. Historic Ladakh consists of a number of distinct areas, including the fairly populous main Indus valley, the more remote Zanskar (in the south) and Nubra valleys (to the north over Khardung La ), the almost deserted Aksai Chin (under Chinese rule) and Kargil and Suru Valley areas in the west (Kargil being the second most important town in Ladakh). Before partition, Baltistan (now under Pakistani rule) was one of the districts of Ladakh. Skardu was the winter capital of Ladakh while Leh was the summer capital.
The mountain ranges in this region were formed over a period of 45 million years by the folding of the Indian plate into the stationary landmass of Asia. The drift continues and causing frequent earthquakes in the Himalayan region. The peaks in the Ladakh range are at a medium altitude close to the Zoji-la (5,000-5,500 metres, 16,000 - 18,050 ft), and increase towards south-east, reaching a climax in the twin summits of Nun-Kun (7000 m, 23,000 ft).
Flora and Fauna
The wildlife of this region was first studied by Ferdinand Stoliczka, an Austrian / Czech paleontologist, who carried out a massive expedition in the region in the 1870s. There are hardly any trees and vegetation in sight in much of Ladakh, except for the few narrow valleys, where wild roses, willow groves and some herbs could be seen. However, above that, due to the rapid decrease in temperature, vegetation becomes stunted and sparse. The fauna of Ladakh have much in common with that of Central Asia generally, and especially those of the Tibetan Plateau. An exception to this is the birds, many of which migrate from the warmer parts of India to spend the summer in Ladakh. For such an arid area, Ladakh has a diversity of birds — a total of 225 species have been recorded.
Many species of finches, robins, redstarts (like the Black Redstart) and the Hoopoe are common in summer. The Brown-headed Gull is seen in summer on the river Indus, and on some lakes of the Changthang. Resident water-birds include the Brahminy duck also known as the Ruddy Sheldrake and the Bar-headed Goose. The Black-necked Crane (Ladakhi: Thung Thung) is a rare species found scattered in the Tibetan plateau is also found in parts of Ladakh. Other birds include the Raven, Red-billed Chough, Tibetan Snowcock and Chukar. The Lammergeier and the Golden Eagle are common raptors here.
The endangered Ibex found in high craggy terrain, numbers several thousand in Ladakh often spotted by trekkers. The Bharal, or blue sheep, is even more common, ranging in the Himalayas from Ladakh east as far as Sikkim. The Shapu is a rare goat that numbers about a thousand. Found at lower elevations, mostly in river valleys, they compete with domesticated animals. The Argali, or Nayan, is a relative of the Marco Polo sheep of the Pamirs. They are impressive animals with huge horizontal curving horns, numbering only a couple hundred in Ladakh, but found in a wide range through out mountainous areas of the Chinese Provinces of Xinjiang, Qinghai, and Gansu.
The Chiru, or Tibetan antelope, (known in Ladakhi as Stos) is also endangered. It has traditionally been hunted for its wool. The wool obtained from the Chiru is called Shahtoosh, which is valued in South Asia for its light weight and warmth and as a status symbol. Owning or trading in Shahtoosh is now illegal in most countries. The Kyang, or Tibetan Wild Ass, is common in the grasslands of Changthang, numbering about 1,500 individuals.
The Snow Leopard (Ladakhi: Shan) once ranged throughout the Himalayas, Tibet, and as far as the Sayan mountains on the Mongolian-Russian border; and in elevation from 1800 m to 5400 m. It is believed there are about 200 in Ladakh, especially in the Hemis High Altitude National Park. Other cats in Ladakh are even rarer than the snow leopard, the Lynx, numbering only a few individuals, and the Pallas's cat, which looks like a house cat. The Tibetan Wolf preys on the livestock of the Ladakhis and as such is the most persecuted, reduced to just about 300 animals. There are also a few brown bears in the Suru valley and the area around Dras. The Tibetan Sand Fox has recently been discovered in this region. Among smaller animals, Marmots, voles, hares, and several types of Pika are common.
Area: 342.239 square kilometers
Language: Rajasthani, Hindi
Economy: Mainly an agricultural state. Crops grown include Rice, Barley, Gram, Wheat, Oilseeds, Pulses, Cotton, Tobacco, Red chillies, Mustard, Cumin seeds, Fenugreek seeds and Asafoetida. Largest wool-producing state.
Minerals: Zinc and Copper
Population: 5, 64, 73,122
People: The people include the Minas,the Meos,the Banjara,who are travelling tradesmen and artisans; the Bhils, one of the oldest peoples in India, and the Rabans of Marwar who are cattle breeders. The Rajputs, famed in legend, represent only a small percentage of the population.
Climate: In Summer Rajasthan is very hot characterized by hot winds and dust storms especially in the desert. In the winter temperatures vary from 20 C to 24.50 C.
Culture: Rajasthan has a well-known folk dance called "ghoomar",that is performed by women on festive occasions. The folk dance called "geer" is performed by men and women, the "panihari" is a graceful dance for women, and the popular "kacchi ghori" dance involves male dancers riding dummy horses.
History: Rajasthan was a part of Ashoka's empire in the 3rd century BC. Later in the 7th century AD the Bactrians, the Scythians, the Guptas, and Harshavardhana ruled this region.
In the 7th to 11th century Rajasthan was ruled by several Rajput dynasties. Under Bhoja I (836-885), their territory stretched from the Himalayan foothills to the Narmada and from the middle Ganges Valley to Sindh.
Later the Mughal invader,Babur,defeated Rana Sangram of Mewarand capitalised his region. In the 16th century the Mughal emperor Akbar tried to subdue the Rajputs through diplomacy and military action. While the strongholds of Ranthambore and Chittor were besieged and destroyed, other Rajput ruling houses were won over when Akbar married their princesses and appointed their nobles to important positions in the Mughal army. This practice of contracting matrimonial alliances with the Rajputs continued after Akbar, and both the emperors, Jahangir and Shah Jahan had Rajput mothers.
After the death of the emperor Aurangzeb the last believed emperor of Mughal dynasty Maratha came into influence in the region. In the 18th century Maratha power began to decline and the British stepped in.
During the freedom struggle Ajmer became the centre of political activity. After independence, the Rajput princes gradually surrendered their powers to the central government and the state of Rajasthan came into being.
'The land of Kings, palaces, valor and sacrifices'
Rajasthan is the treasure land of glorious historical traditions, replete with the annals of patriotism, valor and self-sacrifice. The heroism of the Rajputs is unique in the history of the world. Here we find the beauties and wonders of both – nature and man – placid lakes, hills, sand dunes in desert, forests, beautiful palaces and forts are a few of the attraction that entice the human eye and soul. After independence the 22 states in the region were merged into one to form the present state of Rajasthan. The traces of the diversity of these merged states are still seen in the day-to-day life of the people of Rajasthan. State of Rajasthan covers an area of about 343154 sq. km. A population of more than 25 million people lives in 36,420 villages in the state and several large and small cities. The northwestern part of Rajasthan is mainly desert area. The main cities in desert area are Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer. Where as southeastern parts have thick forests and scattered hills. Udaipur, Chittor, Bharatpur and Alwar are the main cities of this part.
Climate - Summer that extends from April to June is the hottest season, with temperatures ranging from 32C to 45C. In western Rajasthan the temp may rise to 50C, particularly in May and June. At this time, In the desert regions, the temperatures drops in night. Prevailing winds are from the west and sometimes carry dust storms. The rainy season of Monsoon extends from July to September, temperature drop a little (35-35C) drops but humidity increases The Post-monsoon period of October to November is pleasant and the best times to visit Rajasthan. The average maximum temperature is 33C to 38C, and the minimum is between 18C and 20C. The winter extends from December to February and minimum temperatures in some areas in Rajasthan tend to drop to 0C. There is a marked variation in maximum and minimum temperatures and regional variations across the state.
Language - Hindi is the official language of the state. But the principal language is "Rajasthani", and the four major dialects are Marwari in the west, Jaipuri in the east, Malwi in the southeast and Mewati in the northeast. But most people understand and speak Hindi. In cities educated people also understand and speak English.
Culture and civilization - Its culture and civilization is formed by the interaction of various communities. The history of heroic and glorious deeds began with the attacks of the Muslim rulers. The stories of valor and sacrifices of Rajasthani people are written in the folk songs of Rajasthan. Most of the festivals are based on these historic stories. The important communities in Rajasthan include Rajput, Brahmins, Jats, Gurjars and Patels. Each of these communities has its own dresses, customs and habits. Males wear dhoti, kurta -pajama and turban and the ladies wear ghaghra, choli and sari.
Nepal, the ultimate destination for the travellers and holidaying tourist is a land-locked country. Draped along the spine of the high Himalaya, Nepal is a land of sublime scenery, time-worn temples, deepest gorge, highest lake, eight out of ten highest peaks and some of the best challenging hiking trails on earth. It's a poor country, but it is rich in scenic splendour and cultural treasures.
The Himalayan nation is located between India and China, in South East Asia. It is the home of the historic cities, dense green forests along with the world's most endangered species like one-horned Rhinoceros and Royal Bengal tiger. It is also the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
This rich biologically important country has a unique geographical position and latitudinal variation. The elevation of the country ranges from 60 m above sea level on the south to the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest at 8,848 m in the north, all within a distance of 150 km with climatic conditions ranging from subtropical to arctic. Within this stunning geography is also one of the richest cultural landscapes anywhere. The country is an assortment of ethnic groups and sub-groups who speak over 100 languages and dialects.
Nepal is considered as the country with more temples than houses and more gods and goddesses than the people who live here. One can count more festivals than the number of days in this unique country, where 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are located within a distance of 20 km inside Kathmandu valley and 3 more outside the valley.
It's culture, traditional arts and heritage dates back to more than thousand years. The wide mosaics of races and ethnic groups have given this country a distinct character and culture of its own. Nepal, the birthplace of deities, the home of the legendary Gurkhas and hospitable people with exotic culture is purely a mystical land, which was far behind the reach of the western world till the mid of 19th century.
It is the kind of country that lingers in your dreams long after you leave from here. This is why so many travellers are drawn back here again and again with a greater appreciation of its natural and cultural complexity.
The activities include climbing, mountain flight, trekking, rafting in trepid mountaining rivers, mountain biking, paragliding, jungle safari, hiking, village tour, hot air ballooning etc. Tourism provides the single largest source of foreign exchange for the country’s development plants and the largest source of employment besides agriculture. Nepal collects over $60 million in revenue from tourism each year, which is the largest income of this country.
When to visit
In spring and autumn the weather is generally mild and dry. These are the most popular times for trekking in Nepal. March, April and may are the most colourful months - with wild flowers in full bloom throughout the lower lying areas. September, October and November are also excellent months.
During the winter, December, January and February, there is usually lots of snow, and the ice-cold winds restrict trekking to lower regions and sheltered valleys. But there are fewer trekkers at this time of year - so you feel more like a true explorer!
Summer, June, July and August, is the rainy season. Most of Nepal is drenched by the Monsoon. Visibility can be restricted, and trekking can be difficult. On the plus side - you'll have the place pretty much to yourself!
Experience the mystery and magic of south India tourism with its fascinating history, rich culture and traditions. As you go down to peninsular India, the fascinating land of temples unravels itself for you. The major destinations of south India include Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Lakshadweep, and Andaman& Nicobar Islands. Whether you are an adventure lover, pilgrim, or a wildlife enthusiast, south India has it all to enthrall you.
The exquisite temples are the strongest lures and a wealth of south India. The historic monuments and temples can be found in large numbers in the states of south India. The intricately carved temples are feasts to the eyes and some of them you must visit include Guruvayoor Temple, Kalpathy Temple, Meenakshi Temple, Murugan Temple, Badami Cave Temple, Tirupati Tirumala Balaji and Saneeshwara Temple. These marvelous structures also stand testimony to the ancient heritage of the empires that greatly patronized the artistic pursuits.
A trip to south India will remain incomplete without a visit to the palm fringed sandy beaches that accentuate the scenic charm of south India. The long coastline has conferred the south Indian states with numerous enchanting beaches and the most well-known among them being Alappuzha Beach, Kovalam Beach, Marina Beach, Kanyakumari Beach and Maravanthe Beach.
Apart from the beaches, south India is also well known for its captivating wildlife which attracts hordes of wildlife enthusiasts from all over the world. Watch the wild denizens roaming in their natural habitat freely along with a large number of migratory birds that frequent the protected forests of South India. Some of the acclaimed wildlife sanctuaries and national parks of south India are Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary and Bandipur National Park.
The fairs and festivals of south India mirror the rich culture and tradition of the people of the region. Passed on from generations, these still are celebrated with utmost zest and excitement. You will find the people clad in their traditional attire and piously following the spectacular rituals. The festivities are marked by important occasions such as harvest, arrival of the monsoons and paying reverence to the worshipped deities. The famous ones are Onam, Aaranmula Boat Race, Pongal Festival and Natyanjali Dance Festival.
A gratifying holiday is greatly dependent upon the accommodations and in south India; you will find a wide range of hotels and resorts to chose from. The various hotels located in important towns of south India and also provide resort and spa facilities. Kerala is a state that is particularly famous for its ayurvedic spa resorts. Some of the five star deluxe hotels in Chennai are Le Royal Meridien, Park Sheraton & Towers and Taj Coromandel. Likewise, you can find a number of hotels that are dotted in the other towns of south India too such as Kodaikanal, Coonoor, Kovalam, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin.
With almost limitless things to take delight in, you are certainly going to have unforgettable holidays in south India.
The capital of India is actually two cities in one: old Delhi, where traditional ways of life and the modern world combine in an intriguing mix of cluttered windy alleyways, beautiful temples, and bustling street markets; and New Delhi, the imperial capital of the country, designed at the height of British power in the country, and a beautiful, spacious city with modern buildings, open squares overlooked by the grandeur of Victorian Architecture to create a place befitting its status as the capital of one of the largest countries in the world.
Home to some 14 million people, and almost as many sights of real interest, Delhi is also the gateway to the north of India, and the city through which people often pass through on their way to the Himalayas, or to the Taj Mahal in Agra and the beautiful scenery of Jaipur and Rajasthan. It's a place at the centre of Indian life, and quite simply, the place to see and be seen in the country. Bombay (Mumbai) may well have the glamour of the Bollywood film industry on its doorstep, but it is Delhi where the pulse of this unique country runs closest to the surface, and where all the many cultures making India are most preciously displayed.
You can get cheap deals on flights to Delhi throughout the year, and once there, the low cost of living makes it a destination that is both entrancingly beautiful and exceptionally good value for the traveler.
Tourist attraction in Delhi
India Gate: The 42 meters high, free standing arch, popularly known as India Gate, was designed by Luytens and built in 19111. It was originally called All India War Memorial in memory of the 90,000 Soldiers of the Indian Army who died in World War I. The names of the soldiers are inscribed all along the walls of the arch. In1971, an eternal flame was lit here to honor the Amar Jawan (immortal soldiers).
Purana Qila (Old Fort): The ruins of the fort are located on a small hill which once stood on the banks of the river Yamuna. Legend has it that the fort marked the site of Indraprastha, the magnificent capital of the Pandavas, though the construction was carried out by Sher Shah Suri sometime between 1538 to 1545 AD. The structure houses a mosque which has a double storied octagonal tower. It is said that the Mughal king Humayun fell from the tower and died. At the foot of the hill is a lake where the Delhi Tourism has arrangements for boating.
Jantar Mantar: Within Connaught Place is the Jantar Mantar Observatory built by the Rajput King of Jaipur Sawai Jai Singh in 1724. It was believed to have been built with masonry instruments for observing the movements of the stars and planets.
Humayun's Tomb: Taj Mahal is known have been inspired by Humayun's Tomb, and in many ways this magnificent red and while building is as spectacular as the famous Taj Mahal in Agra. Tomb is memorial by a grieving wife and was built by his widow Haji Begum in 1565-66, nine years after his death.
The splendor of this grand monument becomes overpowering on entering through the lofty double storeyed gateway. It is set in the centre of a large square garden enclosed by high walls on three sides, while the river would have been the forth boundary. The Chahar Bagh is divided into smaller squares by pathways as in a typical Mughal garden. The fountains were worked with simple yet highly developed engineering skills quite common in India during that period.
Chandni Chowk: It was the eyes and ears of the Mughal's commercial instincts and is today one of the country's best known wholesale markets for textiles, electronic goods and many other items. The entire area was designed by Jahanara Begum, Shah Jahan'' favorite daughter and was then inhabited by the well-to-do families of the time. In today's time, this area is highly congested due to shoppers.
Safdarjang's Tomb: It is the last enclosed garden tomb in Delhi in the tradition of Humayun's Tomb though it is far less grand in scale. It was built in 1753-54 as the mausoleum of Safdarjang, the viceroy of the Awadh under the Mughal Emperor, Mohammed Shah. It has several smaller pavilions.
Parliament House: A marvelous piece of architecture which can be admired only from outside on account of security restrictions. Close to President's House, it is circular structure almost a kilometer in circumference, and was designed by the famed architect Luytens. It is the seat of Indian Parliament.
Rashtrapati Bhawan (President's House): The official residence of the President of the country, the building was also designed by Luytens. It was the official residence of the Viceroy when the British ruled India. With 340 rooms and an area of about 330 acres. The Mughal Gardens within the complex are a treat for the eyes and are open to public during certain periods of the year.
Birla Mandir (Laxmi Narayan Temple: It was built by the industrialist Raja Baldev Birla in 1938. The temple is an important prayer centre and contains idols of several deities. Interestingly, Mahatma Gandhi, who inaugurated the temple, was also a regular visitor to it.
Akshardham Temple: Representing the Hindu mythology and the Indian culture, the Akshardham Temple stands on the banks of river Yamuna, covering an area of 100 acres. This modern-day wonder boasts 234 embellished pillars, 20,000 statues and a number of arches. The temple complex houses an IMAX theatre, exhibition halls and musical fountains. Surrounded by beautifully laid out garden, the temple attracts lots of tourists from far and wide. The temple is built in marble and red sandstone, symbolizing devotion and eternal peace.
Red Fort: Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan between 1638 and 1648, the masterpiece of Red Fort has the distinction of being chosen as a site from where the prime minister of India addresses the nation on the Independence Day. Popular as Lal Quila, the grand and imposing fort is today a regular haunt of tourists from all parts of the world. The unparalleled architecture is testimony to the grandness of supremacy of Mughal Empire in India. The complex houses Diwan-i-Am, Diwan-i-Khas, the Moti Masjid, and the Shahi Burj etc. The fort stands as dignified and grandiose as it did centuries ago.
Jama masjid: The country's largest mosque where thousands of Muslims offer prayers every day. It took over 14 to complete and was built in 1656. It lies opposed the Red Fort. The flight of stairs and its large courtyard are marvels of architecture. It has three gateways, four angle towers and two minarets standing 40 meters high and constructed of alternating vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble. Broad flights of steps lead up to the imposing gateways. The eastern gateway was originally only opened for the emperor, and is now only open on Fridays and Muslim festival days.
Cremation sites of national leaders: On the banks of the river Yamuna are the national shrines: Raj Ghat (Mahatma Gandhi); Shanti van (Jawaharlal Nehru) Vijay Ghat(Lal Bahadur Shastri), Shakti Sthal (Indira Gandhi) and Vir Bhumi (Rajiv Gandhi)
Qutub minar: This magnificent structure in the southern part of the capital was built by the Muslim King, Qutub-ud-din Aibak in 1199 AD. A part of it which could not be finished by completed by another Muslim King, Iltutmish. In 1368, Feroz Shah Tughlaq rebuilt the top storey and added a cupola. An earthquake brought the cupola down in 1803 and an Englishman replaced it with another in 1829 but was removed some years later. Minar (tower) is 72.5 meters’ high and tapers from 15 meter-diameter base to just 2.5 meters at the top. The tower has given distinct stories, each marked by a projecting balcony. The first three stories are made of red sandstone, the fourth and fifth of marble and sandstone.
At the foot of the Qutab Minar stands the first mosque to be built in India, the Might of Islam Mosque. Qutab-ud-din began construction of the mosque in 1193, but it has number of additions and extensions during the years.
Iron Pillar: This seven meter high pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque and has been there since long before the mosque. A six line Sanskrit inscription indicates that it was initially erected outside a Vishnu temple, possibly in Bihar and was raised in memory of the Gupta King Chandragupta Vikramaditya, who ruled from 375 to 413. The pillar is made of a very exceptional pure iron. Scientists have never discovered how this iron has not rusted even after 2000 years.
Tughlaquabad fort: The massively strong walls of Tughlaqabad, the third city of ancient Delhi, is situated in east of Qutab Minar. The walled city and fort with 13 gateways was built by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq. The storey behind the construction of this massive fort is that the king took away workers who were engaged in constructing a shrine of Sufi Saint Nizam-ud-din. As a result the Sufi Saint cursed the King that his city will not be inhabited for long and only Gujars (shepherds) will shelter here. Truly, today is the situation.
Nizamuddin: Across the road from Humayun's Tomb is the shrine of the Muslim Sufi saint, Nizamud-din Chishti, who died in 1325 at 92. His shrine, with its large tank, is one of the several interesting tombs here. Other tomb in this area include the later grate of Jahanara, the daughter of Shah Jahan, who stayed with her father during his imprisonment by Aurangzeb in Agra's Red Fort, Amir Kusru, a renowned Urdu poet.
On Thursday around sunset time, the qawali singers start performing after the evening prayers.
Lodi gardens: About three km to the west of Humayun's Tomb are the well kept gardens and in the gardens are the tombs of the Sayyid and Lodi rulers. Mohammed Shah's Tomb (1450) was a prototype for the later Mughal style tomb of Humayun's, a design which would eventually develop into the Taj Mahal. The other tomb includes those of Mubarak Shah (1433), Ibrahim Lodi (1526) and Sikander Lodi (1517).
Haus khas: Situated midway between Safdarjang and the Qutab Minar, this area was once the reservoir for the second city of Delhi. Siri, which lies slightly to the east. Interesting sights here include Feroz Shah's Tomb (1398) and the remains of an ancient college.
Bahai temple: Lying to the east of Siri is this building shaped like a lotus flower. Built between 1980 and 1986, it is set amongst pools and gardens, and adherents of any faith are free to visit the temple and pray or meditate, according to own religion
“A city blessed by the Gods - Kashmir Valley is surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the world and is a land of immense natural beauty. It is also called "Tourist Paradise on earth."
Set like a jeweled crown on the map of India, Kashmir is a multi-faceted diamond, changing its hues with the seasons - always extravagantly beautiful. Two major Himalayan ranges, the Great Himalayan Range and the Pir Panjal, surround the landscape from the north and south respectively. They are the source of great rivers, which flow down into the valleys, forested with orchards and decorated by lily-laden lakes.
The Mughals aptly called Kashmir ‘Paradise on Earth’ where they journeyed across the hot plains of India, to the valley’s cool environs in summer. Here they lay, with great love and care, Srinagar’s many formal, waterfront gardens, now collectively known as the Mughal Gardens. Anecdotes of four and five centuries ago describe their love for these gardens, and the rivalries that centered on their ownership. They also patronized the development of art & craft among the people of Kashmir, leaving behind a heritage of exquisite artisanship among these people and making the handicrafts of the land prized gifts all over the world.
Kashmir is a land where myriad holiday ideas are realised. In winter, when snow carpets the mountains, there is skiing, tobogganing, sledge-riding, etc. along the gentle slopes. In spring and summer, the honey-dewed orchards, rippling lakes and blue skies beckon every soul to sample the many delights the mountains and valleys have to offer. Golfing at 2,700 m above the sea, water-skiing in the lakes and angling for prized rainbow trout, or simply drifting down the willow fringed alleys of lakes in shikaras and living in gorgeous houseboats are some of the most favoured ones.
Kashmir has four distinct seasons, each with its own peculiar character and distinctive charm. These are spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Spring, which extends roughly from March to early May, is when a million blossoms carpet the ground. The weather during this time can be gloriously pleasant at 23oC or chilly and windy at 6oC. This is the season when Srinagar experiences rains, but the showers are brief.
Summer extends from May until the end of August. Light woolens may be required to wear out of Srinagar. In higher altitudes night temperatures drop slightly. Srinagar at this time experiences day temperatures of between 25oC and 35oC. At this time, the whole valley is a mosaic of varying shades of green - rice fields, meadows, trees, etc. and Srinagar with its lakes and waterways is a heaven after the scorching heat of the Indian plains.
The onset of autumn, perhaps Kashmir's loveliest season, is towards September, when green turns to gold and then to russet and red. The highest day temperatures in September are around 23oC and night temperatures dip to 10oC by October and further drop by November, when heavy woolens are essential.
Through December, to the beginning of March is winter time, which presents Srinagar in yet another mood. Bare, snow-covered landscapes being watched from beside the warmth of a fire is a joy that cannot be described to anyone who has not experienced it. Some houseboats and hotels remain open in winter-these are either centrally heated or heated with ‘bukharis’, a typically Kashmiri stove kept alight with embers of wood, quite effective in the winter.
Srinagar - The Lake City
Srinagar is located in the heart of the Kashmir valley at an altitude of 1,730 m above sea level, spread on both sides of the river Jhelum. The Dal and Nagin lakes enhance its picturesque setting, while the changing play of the seasons and the salubrious climate ensures that the city is equally attractive to visitors around the year.
Kalhana, the author of 'Rajtarangini’, states that Srinagri was founded by Emperor Ashoka (3rd Century BC). The present city of Srinagar was founded by Pravarasena-II, and Hiuen Tsang, who visited Kashmir in 631 AD, found it at the same site as it is today. Laltaditya Muktapida was the most illustrious ruler of Kashmir in the Hindu period, which ended in 1339 AD. King Zain-ul-Abidin (1420-70 AD), popularly known as ‘Budshah’, was a great patron of Sanskrit. Akbar captured Kashmir valley for the Mughals, who endowed Srinagar with beautiful mosques and gardens. The Sikhs overthrew the last Muslim ruler in the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1819. In 1846 the Dogras secured the sovereignty of Kashmir from the British under the Treaty of Amrjtsar, and in 1947 the state of Jammu and Kashmir with Srinagar as its capital, became part of the Indian Union.
Today Srinagar is a resort for the tourist who can experience, at first hand, the peculiar beauty of the valley that has attracted the Chinese, the Mughals and the British to it.
Its waterways with their own quaint lifestyle, the unique Houseboat, the blossoming gardens, water sports activities, shopping for lovingly hand-crafted souvenirs and the nearby resorts make it a cherished spot among those looking for a memorable holiday.
Area 105 sq kms
Altitude 1,730 m
Temperature Summer 29.5 C Max, 10.6 C Min
Winter 7.3 C Max, -1.9 C Min
Rainfall 52.9 cms
Population 930136 (2001 Census)
Best Season Throughout the year, though the winter months can be quite cold.
Clothing Spring and autumn Light woolens
Languages Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi, English
Nestled in the Himalayas, the world's mightiest mountain ranges,
Himachal Pradesh is blessed with some of the most spectacular and beautiful, landscape anywhere, it is travellers paradise, - mighty snow peaks, deep gorges, lush green valleys, misty woods, fast flowing rivers, enchanting lakes and flower filled meadows. Its high mountains and valleys are linked by winding roads and high passes. While the picturesque valleys of Kullu and Kangra are a riot of colours. In marked contrast the stark and barren terrain of Lahaul & Spiti have stunning lunar and scape like beauty.
Life here moves at a gentle pace far from the mad rush of the cities. Himachalis lead a simple and quite life, tending their orchards, fields and flocks. Keeping alive their rich art and culture. They remain interested in the annual rounds of fairs and festivals, full of music, song and dance. For the visitor there are superb locations for relaxing and sight seeing. There are also great opportunities for trekking, mountaineering, fishing, river rafting, skiing and paragliding.
Himalayas - The Great Snowy Ranges
In a memorable verse of the ‘Kumarsambhava’, the famous Sanskrit poet Kalidasa compares the Himalaya to a gigantic measuring rod striding the earth between two oceans. The snow-capped peaks are indeed the most impressive feature. Himalaya, a Sankrit word, which means ' The Abode of Snow' and all other names used to describe this mountain range associate it with eternal snow - “Himvan”, “Himvat”, “Himachal” and “Himadri”.
Interestingly, a vast shallow sea, the Tethys, existed where the Himalaya stands today. The submerged landmasses on either side started pushing towards each other, giving birth to these mountains. This was a relatively recent occurrence in the geographical time frame, so the Himalaya is considered a young and fragile land formation. Scientists speculate that the whole process took five to seven million years. Fossil finds at heights of over 8,000 meters (26,000 feet) support these theories. The Himalaya has risen about 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) in the past 20,000 years and continues to rise at the rate of 7.5 to 10 centimeters (3-4 inches) a year.
The High And Mighty
The Himalaya is the world's mightiest mountain range. No other chain can boast of peaks of 8,000 meters (26,000 feet). In the Himalaya there are 14 such peaks and hundreds of summits over 7,000 meters (23,000 feet) high. The range of mountains stretches 2,700-kms (1,700 miles) across an area betweenAssam and Kashmir. In the east, Namche Barwa stands sentinel; the western extremity is guarded by the awesome Nanga Parbat.
The snow-capped, frost-crusted peaks have posed a challenge not only to the physical prowess of adventures; they have also inspired sublime metaphysics and lyrical poetry. There are innumerable references to this king of mountains, the glistening divinity, and the noble soul.
The earliest is in the Rig Veda. Singing the praise of the supreme deity, the poet sages refers to the Himalaya: 'It is to Him to who belong these celestial mountain ranges.' These sages also describe its stretch as: 'the expanse of the two arms of the great being'. The epic Ramayana and Mahabharat, and the Puranas, describe this as the region where the Gods dwell, and the landscape is evoked beautifully in classical poetical works. According to the “Skanda Purana” notes: 'As the sun dries the morning dew so does the mere sight of the Himalaya dissipate the sins of man.'
Rivers Running Through It!
The Himalaya is the source of many great rivers of the Indian subcontinent. The Indus or Sindhu (the river rising out of a lion's mouth) rises in the trans-Himalayan Tibetan Plateau, as does the Brahmaputra. The Ganga and Yamuna, with their countless colourful Himalayan tributaries, are inextricably intertwined with local myths and legends.
Securing the Lands
For centuries, the Himalaya acted as the bulwark of Indian security, serving as the great divide between India and Tibet. The rugged terrain deterred all but the most dauntless from risking their lives on perilous journeys in the icy heights. But, difficult though many of the passes and valleys were, they did not prevent a slow penetration by determined and hardy souls for the purposes of trade and pilgrimage. It must be remembered that the Himalayan region has also served through history as a melting pot of races, religions and cultures.
The vast Himalaya is far from being a homogenous region. It is, in fact, a region of remarkable variety. 'Himachal' (steadfast snows), is the term used to denote the lesser Himalaya; the outer rim rises sharply from the foothills, which are called the 'Doars', from the Sanskrit ‘Dvar’ (gateway). The greater Himalayas themselves are referred to as the 'Himadri'. ‘Uttarakhand’ is a loose, general term covering all the northern territories; it also denotes Kumaon and Garhwal as a unit.
Kashmir Hub provides you with an opportunity to visit the tourist destination of Zanskar in Ladakh. High mountains on all sides surround Zanskar in Ladakh. Mountain passes can access this region. The Shingola pass is the most convenient way to reach Zanskar. During winters the best way to reach Zanskar is by the Zanskar River. This river gets totally frozen in winter and is treated as a highway and is called the chador road. The area remains inaccessible due to snowfall for most part of the year. Zanskar is a function of two river valleys. The Doda stream joins the Lugnak to form the Zanskar River. The Zanskar River is an important source of copper that the locals use for making utensils and other domestic purposes.
Tours and travel to the Zanskar region involve visits to the monasteries of this region. There are nine monasteries in Zanskar. The people living in the nearby villages are very religious. They make it a point to visit these monasteries regularly. The largest monastery in Zanskar is called the Karsha.
Tours and travel to the Zanskar region give the tourist an opportunity to glimpse the rich cultural heritage of Kashmir. Zanskar has a rich cultural heritage, the best specimens of Zanskar's mural art are found in the Karsha. These monasteries are landholders. The villagers work on the limited arable land. Most of these people are followers of Buddhism. Interestingly butter and dairy products are of special importance in this region. Butter is used for several purposes, it is used for food and nutrition, it is used liberally with tea, as the tea here is more like a thick soup, and butter is also used as fuel for lamps. The best quality butter here is made from Yak's milk.
Kashmir Hub provides valuable and useful information for you on adventure travel to Zanskar, especially jeep safaris. Zanskar is one of the most isolated of all trans-Himalayan regions. Zanskar is a three-armed valley. Himalayan jeep safari tours require the tourist to pass through the Suru Valley and the Pensi La, which is a vast area of concentrated mountains.
Mumbai is the capital of
Maharastra State and the gateway to this beguiling subcontinent. Of the four
great cities in India, Mumbai is the most cosmopolitan, spear heading India's
move into the 21st century.
The word Mumbai is derived from Mumbadevi, the patron goddess of the Koli fisherfolk, the oldest inhabitants of Mumbai. The name Mumbai, in its final form, dates back to the 18 th century. For Portuguese, the name Bombay is Good Bay ("Bom" "Bay" Good Bay). Mumbai is a cluster of seven islands. These islands of no great value were ceded to Portuguese in 1534 by the Sultan of Gujarat. The Portuguese in turn given these islands to Englands's Chareless II as part of the wedding dowry of Catherine of Braganza when she married Englands's Charles II in 1661. In 1668, the British government leased the islands to the East India Company for 10 pounds per annum in the form of gold and Mumbai grew gradually to become centre of trade.
Population (1991 census): 12596000 (12.6 million)
Weather: Summer (April, May and June): Max. 33.3 C and Min. 22.7 C
Winter (Dec, Jan. and Feb): Max. 29.5 C and Min. 19.4 C
Access: Mumbai is well linked to most parts of the globe by air. Domestic airlines link it to major towns in India. Mumbai is well connected to most major Indian town by rail. It is also connect to surrounding cities by road also. Maharastra Tourism Development Corporation and ITDC conduct tours in and around Mumbai.
Tourist Places in Mumbai
Gateway of India
Mumbai High Court
Sir J. J. School of Art
Rajabai Clock Tower
Many of the spots listed on
the tourist guide books are taken for granted by the average Mumbaite. Edifices
are too familiar a sight in their daily lives to be seen afresh. Yet the rulers
of the past have left an indelible stamp, and much of it stands in its glory for
all to see and appreciate. The colonial architecture of the 19th century rubs
shoulders with the 18th century wood carvings made popular by the Muslims of
Gujarat. Gothic arches, canopied balconies, bas-relief panels combine with
oriental domes and spiral staircases to lend character to the imposing
The historic structures are best seen after sunset when, awash in flood light, they gain momentous character and stand out as proud reminder of an era gone by.
Gateway of India
What could be more appropriate a beginning than the 'entrance' to the port of Mumbai? The ceremonial arch was built in 1927 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary for the Delhi Durbar in 1911. Constructed in honey-coloured basalt, the gateway was designed by George Wittet, inspired by 16th century Gujarat Style. The changing light of the rising and setting sun gives varied hues of gold, russet and pink to the imposing arch. Historically, the Gateway holds greater significance as the last of the British troops left Independent India by sea, marched through its portals.
Founded by Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Ready money, after whom is named the earlier of the two structures, was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott. Flanked by the High Court and the Old Secretariat, the buildings were completed in 1874. Resplendent in a florid and highly decorative French Gothic style, the main building with its turrets and gabled roof has a large circular window, with its outer border originally made up of twelve stained glass skylights, depicting the signs of the zodiac.
Mumbai High Court
This blue-basalt building in early English Gothic style was designed by Col. J. A. Fuller. It has central tower standing almost 180 ft. Two octagonal towers with their spiralets holding at their pinnacles two carved figures of Justice and Mercy are situated to the west of the central tower.
Sir J. J. School Of Art
Built during the same period as the University, its importance is heightened by the fact that Rudyard Kipling was born and spent his early childhood here. His father, John Lockwood Kipling, was the Principal of the art school and under his tutelage, many local artisans received training. Some of their works were used to adorn the buildings being constructed in Mumbai during that period as sculptured panels and motifs.
Rechristened as Mahatma Phule Market, it was built in 1871 by William Emerson. The bas-reliefs, at a height, adorning the facade, were designed by J. L. Kipling at the School of Art, a stone's throw away. It is the largest wholesale fruit market in the country and a visit there can be a 'fruitful' experience, especially during the mango season. But sadly, most of the vegetable & fruits are moving to New Mumbai's wholesale market.
With its columns and tall Grecian porticos, this structure has been the foundation of the Library Society of Mumbai which moved into the Town Hall in 1830, soon after which a union was affected with the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. One of its greatest assets is its library, a storehouse of knowledge, which may not have an equal in the east.
It stands at a busy five-point intersection in the heart of the commercial Fort area. The beautifully sculptured fountain was erected in the memory of the Governor, Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere, as a tribute for his contribution towards the building of Mumbai.
Hutatma Chawk (Martyrs Square) is the new name given to the area around it, as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the fight for setting up the state of Maharashtra in the Indian Union. The spot is also a popular landmark for the congregation of rallies and meetings - both political and apolitical.
This is the older, downtown area (with the Nariman Point reclamation being the newer commercial centre), surrounding the Flora Fountain. It gets its name from the fact that it was a part of the fortified city which was later considered obsolete and demolished during the time of the Governor Frere. A small portion of the wall is seen as part of the boundary wall of St. George's Hospital.
One of the finest examples of high Victorian Gothic architecture, it is the headquarters of the Central Railways and is one of the finest railway stations in the world.
This sweeping Queen's Necklace, flickering with a thousand lights at night turns into the main thoroughfare linking Malabar Hill - and the northern parts of the island - to the southernmost points of Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Nariman Point and Fort.
It is natural that a city surrounded three sides by the sea would offer handsome choice of beaches. Beginning from the southern end are:
Situated at the northern end of Marine Drive, it is a stretch of sandy beach and attracts hordes of people during the weekends and on holidays. A 'food-mart' of stalls has become a permanent feature and offers a range of eatables from 'bhel-puri'. The local speciality, to 'chaat', 'kulfi', coconut and other snacks. A larger portion of the terrain is left open for the public where people come to enjoy the evening sea breeze and the children to play. As a part of the city's cleanliness and beautification drive, Chowpatty is also being given a face lift. JUHU Situated 30 km from the city, it is a crowded beach with residential apartments and bungalows surrounding it. It seems as if the entire population of the area descends on the beach for a breath of fresh air! The central part has food stalls again, similar to Chowpatty. And a lot more, in terms of fun-rides for children.
Beyond the city are the relatively unspoilt, secluded beaches at Versova, Madh Island, Marve, Manori and Gorai. However, Versova is also seemingly going the juhu way, primarily on account of the density of highrise buildings that have come up in the recent years. The beaches at Madh and Marve have their dangerous spots which are marked by signboards. Care should be taken to avoid these zones. The spots further ahead, Gorai and Manori, two fishing villages, are accessible by ferry.
George V, who as Prince of Wales, laid the foundation stone of this museum in
1905. Situated near the gateway of India, it was designed in the Indo-Saracenic
style to commemorate the King's first visit to India. During the First World
War, it was used as a hospital. It was opened as a museum in 1923 and has three
main sections: Art, Archaeology and Natural History. One of the best museums in
the country, it is a treasure house of art, sculpture, China, rare coins and old
firearms. It also has a priceless collection of miniature paintings.
The glistering white marble dome crowning this building can be sighted from a distance as it lies nestled amidst a well-laid out garden.
Timings: 1015 to 1800 hours except Mondays; Entrance: Rs. 3 per head; Tel: 244519/244484
Victoria and Albert Museum
Adjoining the Victoria Gardens, this museum built in the Greco-Roman style houses archaeological finds, maps and photographs depicting the history of Mumbai; Timings: 10.00 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This museum, adjacent to the Planetarium, has a children's Science Park and a permanent gallery which has exhibits relating to the properties of life. A collection of a tramcar, railway engine, supersonic jet and steam lorry are also present. The Planetarium has daily shows except on Mondays. Timings: English - 3 p.m. & 6 p.m. Sat./Sun. 3 p.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Hindi 4.30 p.m.; Marathi 1.30 p.m. Entrance Adults Rs.5, Children (below 12) Rs 2 Tel: 493 2667/492 0510.
A memorial to Mahathma Gandhi, who stayed at these, premises a number of times between 1917 and 1934. It contains a collection of books on and by the Mahathma. A pictorial gallery captures the moments and events of his life. Timings: 9.30 a.m. 6 p.m.; Entrance: Rs. 2 Tel: 362 7864.
This is indeed a terminus with a difference! Enormous as it is, one seldom misses it when in Mumbai. Over a hundred years old, this elaborate Italian Gothic structure was designed by F W Stevens, and is a terminus station of the Central Railway. The first train to steam out of Mumbai was from VT to Thane in 1853. Today, over half a million commuters use it everyday.
Chor Bazaar A literal translation reveals a shocking 'Thieves Market'. Located at Bhendi Bazaar, it is full of quaint shops selling object d'art, curios and antiques. With luck, one can pick up a genuine antique at a reasonable price.
Rajabai Clock Tower (Mumbai University)
This 280 feet clock tower is located within the gardens of the Mumbai University building. With its five elaborately decorated storeys’ it is indeed an impressive structure. About 30 feet from the ground is a frieze of eight statues depicting the various Indian castes. The top of the tower is crowned by 16 elaborate statues.
Manali, at 1,926 meters on the northern edge of the Kullu valley, is the most popular tourist resort in this area. Though it does not have the colonial characteristics of Shimla, over the last few years Manali has developed into a major hill resort, chock-a-block with modern hotels and tourist lodges. Situated along the Beas River with a superb view of the perennial snow cover of the Solang Nala, Manali transports travel-weary tourists into the exalted heights of the Himalayas. Originally known as Manu-alaya or abode of Manu, the name was later simplified to Manali. The ancient village is said to be the original home of Manu, the 2nd century BC lawmaker of the Hindus.
Manali is the focal point for treks and mountaineering expeditions into the Solang Valley and over the Rohtang Pass into Lahaul-Spiti. It is also the beginning of the epic two-day trans-Himalayan journey up to the cold desert town of Leh in Ladakh, connected by the Leh-Manali highway. Manali’s rapid ascent as a major tourist destination has been further accelerated by the rise of terrorism in the Kashmir valley. Besides the local Kullu people, Manali is full of migrants including Lahaulis, Nepali laborers and Tibetan refugees. Manali is also one of the favorite joints of marijuana-hunters, ever since the hippie cult of the 60s.
Area 5.12 square kms.
Population Approximately 2,500
State: Himachal Pradesh
Kolkata, on the Hooghly, retains the aura of days long gone, weaving the past and the present, the intense and the fun loving into a charming fabric. Home to four Nobel laureates - Ronald Ross, Rabindranath Tagore, Mother Teresa and Amartya Sen, Kolkata is the nerve centre of intellect and human values, where many modern movements began in art, cinema and theatre, science and industry. India's quest for freedom began here.
Kolkata is the gateway to Eastern India. A city with a rich heritage, bustling streets and bewildering variety of facets. From October to March, Kolkata wears a radiant look. Sunshine, mild winter, lights, colours, fairs, festivals, galas and excursions, the mood is infectious and spirit sweeping.
Although the name Kalikata had been mentioned in the rent-roll of the Great Mughal emperor Akbar and also in Manasa-Mangal, to explore the history of Kolkata, we have to go back to the 17th century. It was in 1690 that Job Charnock of the East India Company came to the bank of the river Hooghly and took the lease of the three villages- Sutanuti, Govindapur and Kolikata (Kolkata) as a trading post of British East India Company. The city became famous in 1756, when Siraj-Ud-Dawlah, the last independent nawab of Bengal, captured the city. But the British regained their power in 1757 and the city was recaptured under Robert Clive. Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India, made it the seat of the supreme courts of justice and the supreme revenue administration, and Kolkata became the capital of British India in 1772. By 1800 Kolkata had become a busy and flourishing town, the center of the cultural as well as the political and economic life of Bengal.