Travel

The Must-Visit Masterpieces of Temple Architecture in South India

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Indian Architecture has been one of the many reasons that India is a favourite among travellers from all around the world. While Rajasthan and North India, in general, is known for the magnificent royal palaces, forts and other incredible architecture; South India is known for incredible masterpieces of temple architecture.

An extraordinary confluence of art, craftsmanship and religion, temples in South India are a testament of cultural heritage and diversity of India. While there are millions of temples in India, some of the finest architectural creations are a must-visit highlight of tours in India. Dating back to thousands of years, the pride of many rulers and their dynasties, the temples of South India are some glorious creations that to date fascinate visitors with the beauty, devotion and their impressive architecture. Many of the temples in South India are on the elite list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Great Living Chola Temples

So, for the incredible craftsmanship or the spiritual bliss or just to awe at masterpieces of cultural heritage, here are a some of the must-visit temples with South India tour packages:

Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram

Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram

One of the oldest temples in Tamil Nadu, built in the 7th century is the astounding seaside pilgrimage site in Mahabalipuram. The temple has been noted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 3 major shrines in the temple are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma. The best time to visit the temple would be during the Mahabalipuram Dance Festival held on the exterior of the temple complex.

Our tours to visit Mahabalipuram - Glimpses of the South

Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai

Madurai Temple

Our tours to visit Madurai - Glimpses of the South

Hoysala Temple Architecture – Belur and Halebidu

Belur and Halebidu towns are home to treasures of Hoysala architecture. The ancient temples that date back to the days of the ruling Hoysala Empire.

Halebid is the local language translates to the meaning of the ruined city. Tough ravaged by the Bahmani Sultanate, the city was the regal capital of the Hoysala Empire in the 12th century. Here lie the finest examples of Hoysala's workmanship. The beautiful Kedareswara and Hoysaleswara temples are adorned in beautiful carvings that are tales of Indian mythology as well as regular incidents. Walk through history as you walk past these exquisitely-carved temples.

Hoysala Temples in Halebidu

Belur is a small town in Karnataka and a former charming city of the Hoysala Empire. Though small in proportion, the city has a tall reputation worldwide for its Chennakeshava temple. The temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala style architecture along with splendid craftsmanship adorning the exteriors.

Ranganathswamy Temple, Trichy

Ranganathswamy Temple

The Ranganathswamy Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and was well known as the religious seat of learning as far back as the 11th century. Presently the temple includes a series of walled courts with 21 towers, and the tallest of these towers reaches up to 72 meters. The temple is surrounded by busy streets with some street vendors selling sweets, garlands and holy images to the worshippers and the tourists.

Rock Fort Temple, Trichy

Rockfort Temple

The Rock Fort Temple stands on an 84 m tall rock in the center of the town. In the 18th century, for the possession of the Fort the British fought and defeated the French at Trichy. The cave-shrines and temples are constructed on the rock. The Hall of a Thousand Pillars and the shrine of Shiva are something worth seeing. One can relax and enjoy the panoramic views of Trichy from the top of the temple.

Shravanabelagola, Karnataka

Shravanabelagola is a historic destination of Karnataka famous for its collection of Jain temples. The highlight of the town is the statue of Gommateshvara Bahubali as well as many attractive Jain temples, each exquisitely carved and adorned.

Kaidala, Karnataka

Hoysala temple

Famous for the two beautiful Hoysala temples, the town of Kaidala include the Chennakeshava Temple and Gangadareshwara Shrine. Master sculptor Jakanachari who sculptured the famous Hoysala temples of Somnathpura, Belur and Halebedu is said to have was born and brought up at Kaidala. Chenna Keshava temple is said to be a fusion of the Hoysala, Dravidian and Vijayanagara styles of architecture. The complete temple complex has a tall fort-like wall or Prakara around it. The Mahadwara or the Gateway Gopuram is a three-tiered massive structure with beautiful carvings and the large doorway is flanked by pillars with beautifully carved relief works of nubile dancing girls, sages, gods and goddesses.  

Kanchipuram Temples

Kailasanathar Temple

Kanchipuram, in the state of Tamil Nadu, is one of the most sacred cities in southern India and the second holiest after Varanasi. Also known as “The City of Thousand Temples”, Kanchipuram is an important holy pilgrimage for Hindus. People travel from far and wide to admire the magnificent stone cravings, chariot processions and shrines.

The Bull Temple, Bangalore 

Bull Temple, Bangalore

The Bull temple is located in the South of Bangalore. The deity is a huge 15-foot Basava or bull, which is the vehicle of Lord Shiva. The reason for curiosity about this huge Bull is that it has been carved from a single stone.

 


10 Amazing Things to Do On Your Golden Triangle Tour

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India’s favoured Golden Triangle circuit needs no introduction when it comes to a brief tour of the country’s history, architecture, heritage, culture, and tourist experiences. The Golden Triangle Tour covers cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, the three major tourist destinations in North India.

Delhi is the magical “City of Cities” with lots of heritage sites, culture excursions and some of the best hospitality. Agra makes its name on the world map with the beautiful ‘wonder of the world’ Taj Mahal. The most-photographed landmark in India needs no introduction; its ethereal beauty tells many tales of Mughal grandeur. Jaipur, the vibrant capital of Rajasthan and the newest entry on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites is a city of royal architecture, hospitality and the magnificence of Rajputana.

Now that you are aware of the charms of the Golden Triangle tour packages take a look at the amazing things to do on your holiday.

        1. Rickshaw ride in ChandniChowk

ChandniChowk in Old Delhi is a treasure of heritage and culture, in fact, the most amazing there is to explore in Delhi or all of the Golden Triangle circuit. Dating back to the Mughal days but now a vibrant shopping area, the old town area of ChandniChowk deserves to be explored and that too on a rickshaw ride. Explore the old alleys lined with heritage sites, watch the centuries old-shops trading spices, and do not miss out to shop for some great takeaways.

        2. Taste a palate of rich Indian gastronomy

Indian food is a palate of rich flavours, smells and unique tastes. Any India tour remains incomplete without trying the dishes. Street food in Old Delhi, especially the ParathewaliGali and the Mughlai dishes near Jama Masjid deserves a try. Agra is a city of Mughal splendour and not just in architecture but also gastronomy. The city is known for the delicious ‘Petha’, a sweet made of pumpkin dipped in sugar syrup. Do not miss to try over 50 types of savoury local chaats across the city. Jaipur is known for the delicious daal-baati-churma, kachoris, laalmaas and other pleasures.

        3. Heritage Tours of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur

When it comes to Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, heritage is the prized attraction. The historic cities are home to incredible monuments, architecture and landmarks including the “Wonder of the World” Taj Mahal. Heritage tours of the cities allow a proper exploration of the architectural splendours. Learn about the history, characteristics of design, layout and more with a guided tour. Understand the incredible legacy at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and other sites.

        4. Relive history in the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri

On the last leg of Golden triangle tour, en route Jaipur from Agra lies Fatehpur Sikri. Exuding the same charm and marvellous architecture of the Mughal Empire, the abandoned city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for intricate, detailed carvings and designs.

        5. Discover Kathputhli Colony

The Kathputhli Colony is slum dwelling in the heart of Delhi. The colony is home to artists, dancers, singers, and of course, puppeteers. Watch performances of local dances like Chari, Ghumar, Bhawai and Dandiya here. There are puppet shows, magic and fire show to enjoy. Take the Art of Hope tour for enriching experiences.

        6. Experience Sufism

Sufism is not just a religion but more of a life-changing experience. For such a soulful rendezvous get to the NizamuddinDargah in Delhi, the tomb of Sufi Saint NizamuddinAuliya. Enjoy the divine Qawwalis sung by the devotees at the Dargah every Friday. After the soothing Sufi experiences try out delicacies at Karim’s or GhalibKabab Corner.

        7. Visit the Lotus Temple

The beautiful Lotus Temple is one of the popular landmarks of Delhi and also the Golden Triangle circuit. The architectural wonder deserves complete attention to bask in the soothing aura. Set in the middle of well-manicured lawns, the temple appears like a white lotus, and is a place of worship, of solitude and bliss.

        8. Cook like the locals

Indian food is a delight that deserves some special attention. While you can indulge in some great tastes a Golden Triangle tour becomes memorable when you also learn to create some Indian dishes. Learn cooking the local dishes with a local family and afterwards enjoying a delicious meal with them. Learn the local way of cooking, the use of spices and recipes.

        9. Watch the creation of impressive handicrafts

The Golden Triangle tour gives you a chance to explore the best of Indian arts and artisans. Enjoy a hands-on experience of the creation of impressive handicrafts. Learn about hand-block printing at the Sakshi Block Printing Factory or blue pottery, creation of traditional jewellery and more, at Sanganer Village in Jaipur.

        10 Shopping in Jaipur markets

All stops of the Golden Triangle Tour are all great shoppers’ paradise. No holiday in India is ever complete with a shopping trip. You can get beautiful handicrafts, clothes, handlooms and arts at the various markets in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.

A journey of a lifetime, the Golden Triangle Tour offers an incredible experience of Indian history, heritage, culture, gastronomy and other charms. To make the vacation all the more amazing, there is a golden chance of extending the trip with a visit to places such as Bharatpur, Ranthambore, Udaipur, Varanasi, Kerala or Goa or any other place that suits your interest.


The 10 Best Travel Books That Will Ignite Curiosity and Deepen your Love for India

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There is a famous saying “the thing about books is they let you travel without moving your feet” and this is one of the best ways to travel when you are unable to do so. A way to satiate your travel lust till you can actually travel to India, travel books make you travel to places, uncover the deepest of secrets and enrich you with incredible experiences. India is a land of infinite travel experiences and the travel books capture the charms of the land that ignites curiosity and deepen your love for India.

If you are a voracious reader and lived life through the books or just starting with reading, the travel books about India will take you to a world of wonders, inspire you, and in fact change you forever.

Let’s run down some of the best travel books about India that are a must read for the love of the country.

1. City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi - William Dalrymple

The City of Djinns is written with much love by William Dalrymple who has been enamored by India and especially the capital city, Delhi. The book narrates a curious tale of the centuries-long history of the eight cities of Delhi along with the legend of the djinn, the spirit that assures the restoration of the city like a phoenix, no matter the times it has been destroyed.

2. Chasing the Monsoon - Alexander Frater

As the name suggests the travelogue by Alexander Farter is all about Chasing the Monsoon in India and thereby exploring this vast and diverse land in all its glory. The beautiful descriptions of flooded paddy fields to rain-washed monuments, the blissful season of monsoons is lovingly captured in all its moods, soothing the reader and te traveller.

3. No Full Stops in India – Mark Tully

A must read for travellers in love with India, the book beautifully capture the love story between this BBC correspondent and India. The half-century long love affair with India is fondly captured with an account of travels through the country and his reflections. The everyday stories make you fall in love with India and experience affectionate feelings for the country.

4. Q&A – Vikas Swarup

A thought-provoking tale of the diversity of India, this novel is the script of multiple Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. The story speaks about the contrasts which exist in the urban landscape of metropolitan India. The of various cultures, various people and all their stories and the hope that make India a true treasure to explore.

5. A Passage to India – E.M Forster

A must read for the tarvellers in love with India, a Passage to India is one of the 100 great works of 20th century English literature by the Modern Library and is considered to be one of the most beautiful accounts describing pre-Independence India. The story is set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. It paints the colourful and charming painting of vast and diverse India.

6. Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India ­– Pankaj Mishra

A light-hearted book that narrates the tale of travelling in India, Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India is a fascinating read. The name of the book is taken from one of India’s most favorite meal for non-vegetarians- the savory Butter Chicken. The tale is about the author’s encounters with the charming people of India and the fascinating culture while exploring places such as Mandi, Pushkar, Kottayam, Murshidabad, and extensive travel through small towns in India.

7. Wanderings in India and Other Sketches of Life in Hindostan – John Lang

A fascinating travelogue for travellers who are want to explore India or discover the country in a new light, the Wanderings in India and Other Sketches of Life in Hindostan is a must-read. The fantastic narrative of India during the colonial times and the many lifestyle habits of the British, this book helps travelers explore the colonial architecture of India in its various hill stations and cities now.

8. Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India – William Dalrymple

An Indian travelogue, the Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India is another masterpiece by William Dalrymple. The novel captures an experience of the spirituality of this diverse land through the narration of the lives of nine Indians from different religious backgrounds and the uniqueness that each exudes. This is a must-read for the ones who are in awe of the magical world of India.

9. Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found – Suketu Mehta

This Pulitzer Prize finalist, Maximum City is a must read for travellers curious about India or in deep love with India. The chronicle of India’s most vibrant metropolis, Mumbai, the novel captures the extremities of life, the colourful characters within the ‘the biggest, fastest, richest city in India’ and the unity and charms within the vast diversity.

10. All Roads Lead to Ganga – Ruskin Bond

A lovely piece of writing by the classic novelist Ruskin Bond, this is also a must read. It is a masterfully-crafted painting of the Himalayan foothills of Uttarakhand and the author who has lovingly made his home here. It reads like a love letter to the Indian countryside and especially the nature of Dehradun, Mussoorie, and the Char Dham pilgrimage routes to the source of the Ganga (Ganges) River.

While the list of travel books that deepens the love for India is vast, we specifically chose the top ten must reads.

 


Popular Hollywood Movies with India as a Backdrop

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India has fascinated travelers since centuries. Be it the history, heritage, culture or other charms, the country is matchless for its incredible experiences. While the Covid-19 Pandemic has kept you to the safety of your homes, there is no reason for you to not enjoy the charms of India. Here’s how you can experience India at the safety of your home; there are a number of popular Hollywood movies that has India has a backdrop and has intricately captured its charm. The fabled land has so much to offer that visitors are left in awe of the sights, experiences, cuisines, adventure, hospitality and more for a lifetime. The love for the country is shared by many movies and filmmakers.

So, if you are missing India and would like to experience the feeling, here’s a list of movies

     1. Octopussy

The classic James Bond movie is shot at the Lake Palace in Udaipur. The beautiful Taj property makes for the perfect setting for the thriller spy movie. If you haven’t been to the ‘City of Lakes’ Udaipur or not actually had a stay in the Lake Palace, this movie is exactly a good look into the luxuries that the royal city of Rajasthan has to offer. The floating lake palace has been covered in its entire grandeur and with the movie you can actually relive the royal splendor.

             2. The Jungle Book

Inspired from the book of same name, this blockbuster movie is an all time favorite. The movie and the books are inspired from the jungles of Pench and the lush wilderness of Central India. If you have not been on a wildlife safari in the jungles of India, this movie will take you on a wild adventure. There is the wild child raised by the wolves, the pack of loving wolves, the severe panther, the loving black bear and the dangerous Royal Bengal Tiger. Relive India and its exotic greenery along with the thrilling adventure.

     3.The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

A sweet and memorable movie of discovering India, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel captures the journey of travelers that make their home in the country. With the movie explore the labyrinthine of fascinating bazaars, opulent palaces and historic sights of the colorful ‘Pink City’ Jaipur and the romantic ‘City of Lakes’ Udaipur. A showcase of quintessential India at its best, this movie is a memory to cherish as are the sights you must be waiting to explore.

     4. The Darjeeling Limited

Based on the plot of a journey across India, The Darjeeling Limited is more of a photo album of the charms of India. Covering various landscapes from the desert to the mountains of the Himalayas, ancient temples to the fascinating luxury train ride, with the movie embark on a journey of India that teaches you, inspires you and makes you fall in love.

     5. The Dark Knight Rises

While this movie is not based in India, it shows a glimpse of the Mehrangarh Fort looming over the Thar Desert. The popular movie shows a scene where the magnificent fortress of Rajasthan in all its glory. And, even that glimpse fascinates you to explore India.

6. Slumdog Millionaire

Probably one of the best Hollywood movies to have shot in India, Slumdog Millionaire is a must watch to enjoy the charms of India. In the movie India, especially Mumbai is painted as a canvas for adventure, aspirations and dreams. The exciting pace of the movie is just a glimpse of the thrills of Mumbai.

Slumdog Millionaire

While there are aplenty of Hollywood movies with India as a backdrop, this is the list that you can watch anytime and enjoy the quintessential charms of India.


COVID-19 Travel Advisory

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Ministry of Tourism(Government of India)

New Delhi, 14th March, 2020


The World Health Organisation has declared the outbreak COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019) as a global pandemic.  In order to contain the spread of the disease, Government of India has taken the following measures :-

(i) All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13thMarch 2020 at the port of departure. 

(ii) Visa free travel facility granted to OCI card holders is kept in abeyance till April 15th 2020. This has come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure.

(iii) Any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reason may contact the nearest Indian Mission.

(iv) All incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after 15thFebruary, 2020 shall be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13thMarch 2020 at the port of departure. 

(v) Incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, are advised to avoid non-essential travel and are informed that they can be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days on their arrival in India. 

(vi) Indian nationals are strongly advised to avoid all non-essential travel abroad. On their return, they can be subjected to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.

(vii) Provision for testing primarily for students/compassionate cases in Italy to be made and collection for samples to be organized accordingly. Those tested negative will be allowed to travel and will be quarantined on arrival in India for 14 days. 

(viii) All types of passenger movements through all Immigration Land Check Posts located at Indo-Bangladesh border, Indo-Nepal Border, Indo-Bhutan Border and Indo-Myanmar Border will be suspended with effect from 0000 hours March 15th 2020 till further orders except through designated posts as mentioned in MHA OM No25022/12/2017-Imm dated 13th March 2020.
https://www.mohfw.gov.in/GuidelinesDT13032020.pdf

(ix) Travellers are further advised to adhere to advisory issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 11th March 2020 
https://www.mohfw.gov.in/ConsolidatedTraveladvisoryUpdated11032020.pdf

(x) Frequently Asked Questions on New Visa restrictions in view of COVID-19 outbreak may be seen at the following link:-
https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/images/faq-covid-19.pdf

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ADVISORY FOR COVID-19 issued by ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ADMINISTRATION SECRETARIAT (Port Blair, dated the 14th March 2020)

The World Health Organization characterizes the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) as a Pandemic and declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). In order to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19 in A & N Islands, all tourists are advised to refrain from travelling to the Islands from the midnight of 16.03.2020 (i.e. 12.00 A.M. of 17.03.2020) to 26.03.2020. Further, all tourism facilities of the Islands such as on jetties, beaches, eco-tourism sites and water sports activities shall remain suspended from 16.03.2020 to 26.03.2020. All tour operators may appropriately advise their clients so that tourists intending to travel to A & N Islands are forewarned and advised to refrain from traveling to A & N Islands. This advisory will be reviewed on 23.03.2020 for being continued beyond 26.03.2020 or otherwise.

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