THE DECCAN ODYSSEY - Destinations

Jaipur

Jaipur is an excellent specimen of Rajput architecture and filled with historical palaces and forts which are a display of Rajput bravado. A scenic city, it has been termed as the ‘Pink City’, substantiated by the pink coloured structures and buildings all over the place. The colourful bazaars and markets offer traditional dresses and handicrafts. Typical local mouth watering cuisines are a hit among visitors. The city is also renowned as an important hub for arts and crafts.

An exceptionally panoramic view of Jaipur city can be witnessed from the adjoining hills of the region. A sightseeing tour of the city brings us face to face with some of the major landmarks.

The Jantar Mantar Observatory has made it to the list of World Heritage Sites. Beautifully preserved, it ranks at the top amongst the five observatories built by the Rajput king, Sawai Jai Singh.

The City Palace, Jaipur is another renowned landmark dragging visitors by hordes. A great amalgamation of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture is witnessed here. The complex is filled with various buildings, major courtyards and scenic gardens. Interestingly, the museum contains objects which draw visitors’ interest such as embroideries, shawls, costumes, Kashmiri Pashminas, Benares silk sarees, musical instruments, manuscripts and other cultural artifacts. The Maharani’s Palace also displays various items, centric to visitors’ interest. Other places of interest include the Diwan-e-khas (hall of private audience) and Diwan-e-aam.

Witness the sheer beauty of Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds – built in order to let the palace women watch street festivities or royal processions. It contains a beautiful museum filled with paintings, sculptures, coins, handicrafts and artifacts.

Some other beautiful structures of the city include the Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort and Lakshmi Narayan Temple. A tour of Jaipur is an exhibition of Rajput pride and glory.

Kolhapur

A historical city in Maharashtra state, Kolhapur is located adjacent to the beautiful Panchaganga River. A prosperous city in Western Ghats, it has many mythological tales blended around its origins. It used to be a princely state prior to Indian independence. Its scenic settings are enhanced due to the presence of many panoramic lakes. Palaces and gardens also abound here. Renowned as the town of Goddess Mahalakshmi, the place is filled with stupendous archaeological and cultural heritage inclusive of forts, monuments and temples.

The Town Hall Museum contains numerous historical paintings, sculpture, old coins and weapons. The structure resembles a Neo-Gothic style and two European cannons are exhibited here. Ancient items relating to the Satvahana period are a big draw. They consist of models and statuettes of Greek God Poseidon, riders on an elephant and other Hellenistic figurines. Chunks of pottery, beads and ancient Bramhapri coins are also displayed here. An excursion to Panhala Fort takes us onwards to the Sahyadri Mountain Range where it’s located. Enjoy a visit to Ambarkhana, where the granary, administrative division and palace are situated. A trip to Panhala remains incomplete without visiting the Sajja Kothi, Sambhaji Temple and the Ambabai Temple. The Nayakini Sajja displays warfare strategies utilized by the Marathas.

Other places of interest to satisfy tourists’ curiosity involve New Palace Museum, Mahalaxmi Temple, Chandrakant Mandare Art Gallery Museum, Shalini Palace, etc.

The city is renowned for being the home of Maharashtra film industry. Along with being a favourite with pilgrims, it has earned fame as an exporter of tobacco, jewels and footwear. This serene place offers a charming tour.

Daulatabad

The fort city of Daulatabad used to be the ancient capital of the Tughlaq dynasty. The formidable hill fort is the biggest landmark of this city. Additionally, scenic views are another advantage the place offers.

During the Tughlaq dynasty, the city used to be a flourishing destination in the whole land. Many significant structures prevailing within the Daulatabad fort involve the Chand Minar, Chini Mahal and Jami Masjid.

Chand Minar was constructed as a symbol of Tower of Victory by Ala-Ud-Din-Bahmani; after he gained its control in 1435. Its length reaches an approximate height of 30 m.

The Chini Mahal is a serene palace, filled with blue tiles. Tragedy is associated with it as it was utilized as a detention center of Abdul Hasan Tana Shah, in the year 1687.

The Jami Masjid mosque is located within the Daulatabad Fort Complex. Qutub-ud-din Mubarak, Delhi’s Khilji ruler, was responsible for its construction. 106 awesome pillars make up this enchanting mosque.

Visitors would be enchanted on a visit to the nearby Aurangabad caves. 12 artificial rock cut Buddhist shrines present a dynamic scenario of ancient Indian art.

The Pitalkhora rock cut caves are another unique attraction of the region. Beautiful paintings and carvings on the caves are a connoisseur’s delight.

Nasik

Nasik is a fascinating amalgamation of modernity and tradition. It is also referred to as a ‘City of Temples’. Nearly 100 age old temples are spread all over the place which also consists of the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple and Kalaram Temple. The city is mythically significant as it served as Lord Rama’s home during his legendary exile period. As per mythology, even Nasik’s name has a story associated with it. It is widely believed that Surpanakha’s nose was cut off by Lakshmana at this same region; thus leading to the name – ‘Nasik’ (Nasika refers to nose in Sanskrit).

Situated adjacent to the Godavari River, it is one of the holiest cities for Hindus. Further, it’s also renowned for the Kumbh Mela held here; which attracts lakhs of devotees. Picturesque environs and a healthy climate are other hallmarks of this place. In addition to all of the above, abundance of vineyards and excellent wine production has catapulted it to the position of ‘Wine Capital of India’.

A famous tourist place with excessive religious value is Panchavati. Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana made it their abode during the exile. Panchavati is the center of Ramayana’s complete Aranya Kand (book of the forest). Some major tourist attractions of Nasik include Muktidham Temple, Ramkund, Coin Museum, Pandavleni Caves, Someshwar, Deolali Camp, Artillery Centre and Takli. Nearby places of visitors’ interest involve the revered Shirdi, Trimbakeshwar, Dudhasagar Waterfalls and Nandur Madhameshwar Bird Sanctuary.

Visit Nasik and enjoy a tour of a lifetime.

Udaipur

Renowned as ‘Venice of the East’, Udaipur has been catapulted to the prestigious position of World Heritage Site by UNESCO. History, culture and scenic attractions have made the city a favorite with travelers. Due to abundance of lakes it has also been nicknamed the ‘Lake City’. Famous and serene lakes include Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar Lake, Udai Sagar, Rangsagar Lake, Dudh Talai Lake and Swaroop Sagar Lake. A romantic city, Udaipur also has a thriving tourist culture. Experience the royal side of the city and revel in its man- made attractions.

The City Palace, Udaipur, a palace complex, fascinates people on account of its architecture. An amalgamation of both Rajput and Mughal styles, it is situated adjacent to the serene Lake Pichola. Udaipur City Palace museum is a perfect place to understand the awesome history of the Maharanas of Mewar. The palace is filled with paintings, excellent furniture, articles and other symbols reminiscent of royal glory.

The Lake Palace offers some enchanting views and is located on Lake Pichola’s Jag Niwas Island. Initially constructed as a summer palace for the royals; it’s utilized as a luxury 5 star hotel in the present era.

Another place of tourist interest is the famous Jag Mandir; a palace constructed on an island in Lake Pichola. This beautiful palace doubled up as a summer resort and a place for royal festivities and parties. Shah Jahan was shown benevolence by Maharana Karan Singh and offered refuge while revolting against the then Emperor Jahangir.

Scenic settings are prevalent among many other tourist highlights of Udaipur such as Lake Pichola, Monsoon Palace, Jagdish Temple, Fateh Sagar Lake, Saheliyon-Ki-Bari, Bagore-ki-Haveli, etc. Shopping, festivals and unique hospitality of the city are other factors which make it a hit with guests.

Jaisalmer

A famed tourist abode, Jaisalmer has been termed the golden city of India. Yellow sand and yellow sandstone are utilized in the construction of every structure present here. An excellent travel destination, it displays countless gems associated with Indian heritage. It has gained the stature of a World Heritage Site. Remarkable architecture is witnessed in the numerous forts, temples and palaces abounding in the city.

The second oldest fort in Rajasthan is none other than the Jaisalmer Fort. The fort and the adjoining area have witnessed several battles and it was also used as a location for the renowned director Satyajit Ray’s novel and film – Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress). Much of the local populace resides within the fort and attractions inside it include Royal Palace, Jain temples and the Laxminath temple.

The Jain community has showered Jaisalmer with their architectural genius; notable being temples built in reverence of 16th Tirthankara, Shantinath and 23rd Tirthankara, Parshvanath.

Another important tourist hotspot is the Gadsisar Lake. The amazingly beautiful water source is encircled by temples and shrines of Amar Sagar. Visitors revel in the Camel safari offered in the Sam Sand Dunes. Many other major attractions which dot the city involve Akal Wood Fossil Park, Patwon Ki Haveli, Nathmalji Ki Haveli, Salim Singh Ki Haveli, Desert Culture Centre and Museum and others. The Desert Festival is an excellent period to visit the city and enjoy folk songs, music and indigenous dances.

Kutch

Kutch is the biggest district in India enclosed by the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Kutch at the southern and western ends. On the other hand, the eastern and northern ends are enclosed by the Great and Little Rann of Kutch. Earlier, it used to be a princely state of Gujarat state.

A famous tourist hotspot is Gujarat’s Kutch Museum. Constructed in 1877, it is the oldest museum in the state. It contains numerous Kshatrapa inscriptions and also displays the rich tribal culture of the region. It is also filled with supreme examples related to paintings, textiles, sculptures and embroidery.

Enjoy a tour to Prag Mahal, situated in Bhuj. Stupefying beauty of the palace is witnessed in it Jali work and Corinthian pillars. The courtyard also contains a carved temple; thus adding to the overall beauty.

The region is also renowned for its excellent ecological ambience and various wildlife reserves and sanctuaries. India’s biggest wildlife sanctuary, the Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 4954 km². Established in 1972, it’s an enchanting place to spot the Indian Wild Ass. Other reserves and wildlife sanctuaries in the region are Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife sanctuary, Banni Grasslands Reserve, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary and Chari-Chand Wetland Conservation Reserve.

The Kutch Mahotsav displays indigenous folk dances and music of the region. Amazing handicrafts from its markets are an added attraction. The natural beauty coupled with the unique culture of the district draws tourists by hordes.

Mumbai

Welcome to the wealthiest Indian city; to the city that never sleeps. The city has earned the status of the commercial, financial and entertainment capital of the country. The local train line has developed as the city’s lifeline. The Hindi and Marathi film industry both have their respective bases in the city.

Explore the Gateway of India; the landmark that defines Mumbai. It was constructed to commemorate King George V and Queen Mary’s visit to Bombay. The Mumbai harbor can be easily witnessed from here.

Welcome to Mahalaxmi Racecourse; a famous horse racing track of the land. It has established itself as one of the premier circuits of Asia. An excursion to the Town Hall brings us face to face with a dynamic heritage structure of the city. It’s one of the last remaining architectural splendours of the Victorian era.

Other tourist hot spots on visitors’ list include Malabar Hill, Nariman Point and Prithvi theatre. Prithvi Theatre is close to every Mumbaikars’ heart and offers insights into the life of various film and theatre personalities.

The place offers a magical touch to peoples’ lives on account of its beaches, natural wonders, excellent architectural marvels, cosmopolitan lifestyle and unprecedented glamour.

Goa

An attractive destination, Goa’s tourism industry is also its primary industry. The state’s convents and churches have earned the tag of World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This former Portuguese enclave was annexed by India in the year 1961. Thus, the lifestyle of the state shows a high influence of Portuguese culture.

Goa is also renowned for its supreme festivities. Its architecture, manifested in the numerous forts, temples, mosques, churches and historical buildings; attract visitors from all over the globe. Further, the architecture is hugely influenced by Indian, Islamic and Portuguese styles. Virgin beaches of the place have witnessed many film shoots and are highly popular among tourists. Excellent cuisine which involves sea food and unique variety of beverages are other hallmarks of Goa.

A historical place, Goa is filled with museums. Prominent among them are the Goa State Museum, the Naval Aviation Museum, Goa Science Center, Archaeological Museum and Portrait Gallery and the Museum of Christian Art.

A prominent tourist center, it is renowned for its dazzling lifestyle and mind blowing adventurous sports.

Sindhudurg

Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra displays glimpses of the Marathas erstwhile glory. The serene region is filled with natural wonders like backwaters, beaches and waterfalls. It is also filled with numerous pilgrimage destinations. An excellent attraction is the Sindhudurg Fort; constructed by the legendary king Chattrapati Shivaji in the year 1644. Delicious cuisine is another specialty of the area and sea food varieties are always in demand.

Aravali is an awesome region of Sindhudurg. Home to Shri Dev Vetoba, this pristine area is engulfed by breathtakingly beautiful hill ranges and crystal clear beaches. Terekhol Fort is another attraction built in the 17th century. In the present era, the place is utilized as a hotel.

Guests should also pay a visit to the historic Madhavgad Fort. It offers a serene and excellent view of the nearby forests, the whole of Konkan and the mesmerizing Arabian Sea.

Tadoba

Often described as the ‘Jewel of Vidarbha’, Tadoba National Park and Tiger Reserve is highly acclaimed on account of its rich biodiversity. Maharashtra’s largest national park, it has created a niche as a tiger reserve under ‘Project Tiger’. Legend details that a village chief Taru died while fighting a tiger and gave the reserve his name. A temple built in his honour near Tadoba Lake is visited by Adivasis. Tadoba National Park and Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary were joined together in 1995 to create the Tiger Reserve.

The flora of the region includes vegetation such as Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest. Famed tree species are Teak, Ain, Bija, Hald, Dhauda, Salai, Samal, Tendu and Bamboo.

Fauna of the park involves the Royal Bengal Tiger, Indian leopards, sloth bears, gaur, Nilgai, dhole, striped hyena, chital, barking deer, etc. Marsh crocodile of the region is also popular among guests. Ornithologists will have an amazing time here due to presence of bird species such as peacock, grey headed fish eagle, the crested serpent eagle and a diversity of water birds.

Agra

Agra, the erstwhile capital of the legendary Mughal Empire; is filled with UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. Further, it is also a part of the Golden Triangle tourist circuit which is also inclusive of Delhi and Jaipur. Buildings in Agra are highly influenced by both Persian and Indian architectural styles.

The legendary Taj Mahal is the mausoleum of love; built by the emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Hailed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World; the structure took nearly 22 years to be built. Acknowledged as a masterpiece, its surrounding gardens and the adjoining Yamuna offer a mesmerizing sight. Precious stones have been utilized to design and decorate the interiors.

Next in line is the grand Agra Fort. Constructed during the reign of Emperor Akbar, intricate carvings and structure of the fort display the Mughal style of architecture. Important buildings within the fort are the Pearl Mosque, the Diwan-e-Am, Diwan-e-Khas, Jahangir’s Palace, Mirrored palace and the Musamman Burj. Guests would also love a trip to the nearby city ‘Fatehpur Sikri’ – built in honor of the Sufi saint Salim Chisti.

Sawai Madhopur

Beautifully constructed, Sawai Madhopur is Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I’s dream city. Brilliant architecture coupled with adventure and a traditional feel are hallmarks of the place. The place houses the scintillating Ranthambore National Park and the historic Ranthambore Fort. Uniqueness of the fort is associated with its escalation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Various temples are also spread all over the region. One of the biggest national parks of the country, Ranthambore National Park is filled with some awesome flora and fauna. A Project Tiger reserve, it gained the stature of a national park in the year 1980. The wildlife consists of the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger, leopards, nilgai, wild boar, sambar, hyena, sloth bear, chital, jungle cat, jackal, chinkara, common fox and others. It’s also a paradise for ornithologists and contains nearly 270 species of birds.

In addition to the flora, the fauna of the region includes abundant trees like Pipal, Raunj, Vad, Gaya,Gurjan, Gular, Tendu and Chhela.

The Ranthambore Fort within the park is another great attraction filled with three temples; built in honour of Ganesh, Shiva and Ramlalaji. Some other highlights of Sawai Madhopur are Rajiv Gandhi Regional Museum of Natural History and Shilpgram.

Holidays to Treasure

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Train was excellent. Impressed with welcome and generosity received, not only on train but at the destinations. Guides were generally good & knowledgeable. I enjoyed both boat trips. Village ( Kalashe ) was lovely. Thank you for a great trip.
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