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Taj Mahal, Agra: A World Heritage Site

A Travel Guide to Taj Mahal

It is said that with Taj Mahal, Mughal Architecture reached its zenith. A UNESCO inscribed World Heritage Site, Taj Mahal in Agra is a symmetrically flawless charbagh mausoleum constructed entirely using white marble. Taj Mahal was recently voted as one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World.

Taj Mahal, Agra
The Taj Mahal is probably the most famous building in the world. Its picture has covered many magazines and travel brochures
The Taj Mahal is an elegant historical monument, located in the city of Agra, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in India, which holds a capturing distinction from architecture of pre-Islamic India and Indo-Islamic style of architecture.

The dense marble walls, heavy lintels and corbelled arches sum up the Islamic culture’s formal themes. With elements from Persian, Indian and Islamic culture, The Taj Mahal is one of the finest works of Mughal architectures.

Location: Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

Built by: Shah Jahan

Built in: 1632–1653

Highlights: Interior decorations, Exterior Decorations, Night viewing of Taj Mahal under moonlight, Beautiful Gardens, Grand outlying buildings, Tour of Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort.

How to Reach: Agra is well connected by roads to all the major cities in the country. It is connected to Jaipur by NH-11, to Delhi and Varanasi by NH-2 and to Gwalior by NH-3. Besides, the local airport at Agra, Kheria Airport is connected to Delhi International Airport. The distance from Kheria airport to Taj Mahal is 9 km. The city is well connected to almost whole of India through railway. The distance from Agra Cantt Railway Station to Taj Mahal is 7 km.

Best time to visit: Visiting Agra during summer takes a huge toll on tourists due to almost unbearable heat. Hence, the best time to visit Taj Mahal is between the months of October to March when the weather is comparatively cooler.

Entry Fee: 750 INR for Foreign tourist, 510 INR for Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries and 20 INR for Domestic/Indian tourists.

Timings: Sunrise to Sunset (Friday Closed)

Introduction to Taj Mahal

Located in the city of Agra, in Uttar Pradesh, The Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful mausoleums, constructed by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, in the memory of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal has been made purely out of white marble and the view of the structure, in the black night, under the shimmering moonlight is an unforgettable spectacle.

The construction of the gigantic structure started around 1632, under the supervision of imperial rulers such as Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, Makramat Khan and Abd ul-Karim Ma'mur Khan. By 1653, the Taj Mahal was built completely with the help of thousands of craftsmen and artisans. The Taj Mahal is a complex structure, though the most popular aspect of the monument is white domed marble mausoleum.

In 1983, Taj Mahal was recognized as a world Heritage Site by UNESCO and regarded as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage." It is regarded as one of the finest examples of the magnificence of Mughal architecture, and hence, every year, tourists from all over the world visit The Taj Mahal to witness the historical monument.

History of Taj Mahal

Under the leadership of Shah Jahan, The Mughal Empire was in her greatest period of prosperity. But in 1631, the Emperor, Shah Jahan suffered a major setback when his third wife Mumtaz Mahal died during a child birth. Shah Jahan announced the Construction of the Taj Mahal in memory of her beloved wife and the construction for the same began in 1632.

The traditional love story that inspired the construction of Taj Mahal has been illustrated in the court chronicles of Shah Jahan. The construction of the principal mausoleum took 16 years and was completed by 1648. Five years later, by 1653, the surroundings gardens and buildings were built and the construction was finished.

Aurangzeb overthrew Shah Jahan, immediately after the construction of Taj Mahal, and put him under house arrest. After the death of Shah Jahan, he was buried in the mausoleum next to Mumtaz Mahal, by Aurangzeb.

The 19th century saw the defacing of the magnificent structure, The Taj Mahal, by the British government officials and soldiers who carved out lapis lazuli and valuable stones from the walls.

By the end of the 19th century, a restoration project was initiated by British viceroy Lord Curzon. The project was completed in 1908 with the construction of huge lamp in the interior chambers and the remodeling of gardens into British style lawns.

Today, The Taj Mahal is recognized as one of the seven wonders in the world, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations all over the world.

Some Interesting Facts about Taj Mahal

  • Approximately, 22,000 people took participation in building the structure including embroidery artists, laborers, stonecutters, painters and many others.
  • Rumors suggest that Shah Jahan planned to construct another Taj Mahal in black marble on the other side. His plans were thwarted by the ongoing battles with Aurangzeb.
  • It took approximately 17 years for the complete construction of Taj Mahal.
  • Taj Mahal’s complete height is 561 feet (171 meter).
  • During the construction of Taj Mahal, approximately 1,000 elephants were used for the purpose of transportation of the construction materials that were being used to build the structure.
  • The British government officials and soldiers dug out many precious stones and lapis lazuli from the interior walls of Taj Mahal.
  • The Taj Mahal is one amongst the World’s Wonders.
  • Taj Mahal is one amongst the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • The Taj Mahal holds a legend of eternal love of an Emperor for his beloved Queen.
  • Taj Mahal looks identical from all four sides and hence creates an astounding mirrored image on each side. The symmetry of architectural elements and principle of self-replicating geometry have been used during construction.
  • There are numerous gardens and buildings surrounding The Taj Mahal which constitutes 17 hectares of land within the complex walls.
  • One of the most popular aspects of The Taj Mahal is her varying in coloring during a day. In the early morning, the Taj Mahal appears pinkish hue and turns to milky white during the evening and in the moonlight, it appears golden in color. According to people, the different colors depict the varying moods of female kind, particularly the Emperor’s Queen, Mumtaz Mahal.
For travel related queries and more images of Taj Mahal you may visit the website TajMahalAgra.Com 


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Fair & Festivals in India in November 2016

If you are in between planning your visit to India, but are not very sure about which months to choose for the visit. I would immediately suggest you with November. During this time, the weather starts becoming cooler and dryer, and the full moon in November is considered to be very auspicious.

This is the month for all kinds of tourist activities like trekking, bird watching, rafting , hiking and mountaineering etc. Another reason for me suggesting November is that there are a lot of fairs and festivals all over the country. West and central regions of India are thriving with many fairs and festivals in November.

In reference to the above conversation I made a detailed list of all the festivals celebrated in India during November.

Diwali

Diwali, famed as the festival of lights is one of the prominent festival of India which marks the beginning of Hindu New Year but also the victory of darkness over light. During this festive celebration the homes as decked with a lot of bright lighting candles and small clay lamps.

Cleaning and decorating houses with beautiful Rangoli form an extensive part of Dewali celebration. On the eve of Diwali people shop for new clothes, sweets, decorative items, crackers and a lot of decorative lightings.  Gambling on the night of Diwali is considered very auspicious. People visit their near and dear ones and give them gifts and sweets during the festival.

When: 30 October 2016
Where: Throughout India


Chhat Puja

Chhat Puja FestivalsChhat Puja, is a popular north Indian festival and is largely celebrated by the people of Bihar, Jharkhand and UP. On the day of Chhat Puja, devotees worship the Sun. Women on this day wake up early and take a holy bath in the Gange.

They even observe a fast for the day, even do not drink water. They stand for long hours in the water. As a part of ritual ‘aragh’ and ‘Prasad’ is offered to the rising sun. During this festival hymn and folk songs are sung for the well being of their family and friends.
When: 6 November 2015
Where: Bihar, Jharkhand and U.P

Kolayat Fair (Kapil Muni Fair)

 Kolayat Fair Festivals
Kolayat Fair is one of the largest fair of Bikaner. The festival is celebrated on the day of Kartik Purnima in the small village Kolayat. The festival is named after a great sage, who is known to undertake intense meditation for the benefit of humanity.

During the festival a pilgrimage to the Kolayat Lake with 52 Ghats, which are beautifully lighted up. A cattle fair is also organized during the festival. A large number of tourists are attracted to witness this festival for its enchanting display of colorful Rajasthani culture and tradition.

When: 12 to 14 November 2016

Where: Bikaner, Rajasthan.

Bundi Utsav

 Bundi Utsav Festivals
Bundi a small city in the Hadoti region of Rajasthan is of a particular architectural note for its ornate palaces, forts and stepwell reservoirs. This tiny city is famous famed for its Bundi festival among the tourists for Bundi Utsav.

The festival is a spectacular culmination of craftsmanship, traditional art, and culture  which is sure to surprise every visitor with its grandeur. The special highlights of this festival include Ethnic sports, colorful Shobha Yatra, Sightseeing, Bridal attire, Turban Competition, Dance and Music program along with sparkling fireworks display etc.

When: 17 to 19 November 2016
Where: Bundi, Rajasthan.

Puri Beach Festival
Puri Beach Festivals
Puri Beach Festival is an annual event and is one of the most popular cultural festivals in Orissa. The festival is greatly popular among both domestic and international tourists. The beach festival of Puri is a secular festival and people from different backgrounds take part in its grand celebration.

The beach festival in Puri is a five-day occasion.  A major highlight of this festival is the Sand art, budding artists from Orissa art college make wonderful designs and artwork with the sand on the beach. The other activities that are sure to witness include classical and folk dance performances of India, fashion shows and handicrafts show etc.

When: November 23-27, 2016.
Where: Puri, Orissa.

Guru Nanak Jayanti

Guru Nanak Jayanti  Festivals
In the month of November Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated as the remembrance of Guru Nanak's birthday. Guru Nanak dev was the founder of Sikh religion. The festival is widely celebrated throughout Punjab. At the Golden Temple Amritsar, a main shrine of the Sikhs the festival is celebrated with great pomp and show.

On the day of the festival the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book is carried out of the temple in a huge procession. The temple is beautifully  decorated with lights and offers an incredible sight to enjoy.

When: 14 November 2016
Where: Amritsar, Punjab.

Pushkar Camel Fair
Pushkar Camel FairPushkar Camel Fair is a traditional festival which features life oozing activities such as musical and cultural events. This festival is a must visit to experience the thrilling camel safari tours and staying in the traditional camps.

The sight of caparisoned camels parading along the their swarthy masters offers great delight. The Pushkar Fair creates a stir among the travelers with its awe-inspiring celebrations good enough to make everyone wide eyed.

When: 2nd to 11th November 2016
Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan.

Ganga Mahotsav

Ganga Mahotsav  FestivalsGanga Mahotsav is celebrated along the holy banks of Ganga. During the celebration of this traditional festival a lot of cultural programs take place. The major highlight of the festival is on the last day in the midst of Vedic mantras chanting more than a million of floating lamps are floated down the river during the dusk.

When: 22nd to 24th November2016
Where: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

Kartik Purnima and Bali Yatra
Kartik Purnima and Bali Yatra  Festivals
Coming to the northeastern part of the country in the month of November, Kartik Purnima and Bali Yatra are greatly celebrated with great fanfare in the state of Orissa. As a mark of celebration, women indulge in making eye catching Rangloi designs with colored powder.

Hymns are sung and prayers are offered at the temple. On this auspicious day the people also praise the maritime glory by floating tiny boats filled with flowers. The famous Bali Yatra is also conducted in the city of Cuttack.

When: November 25, 2016
Where: Puri and Cuttack, Orissa.



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Red Fort, New Delhi: A Travel Guide

Red Fort is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Delhi. The Red sandstone fortifications of the enormous Red Fort which rises 33-m above the shouts and screams of Old Delhi, acts as a reminder of the glorious power and spectacle of the Mughal emperors, and thus it attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world, every year. It is also the largest monument in Old Delhi.

Red Fort, Delhi by alexfurr
Red Fort, Delhi by alexfurr - Photo courtesy Wikipedia
Location:Red Fort is located at Netaji Subhash Marg in Chandni Chowk, which is a very popular site of Old Delhi.

Built by: Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor.

Built in: During the 17th Century.

Highlights: Sound and light show depicting Mughal Empires, Indian war memorial Museum

How to Reach: From the capital city, local transport is easily available to the Red Fort. Besides the Delhi Metro Chandni Chowk station is the nearest metro station to the Red Fort from where reach the fort within 10 minutes by road. From the Delhi airport you can reach the fort within 30-35 minutes by road.

Best time to visit: Due to the scorching heat of New Delhi in summers, winters are the best season to visit the Red Fort.

Entry Fee: 10 INR for Indian Nationals and 250 INR for Foreign Nationals (25 INR extra for video)

Timings: Sunrise to Sunset (Closed on Monday)

Introduction

Built by the Mughals, in the 17th century, The Red Fort is one of the most remarkable structures present in modern day Delhi.

Lahore Gate, the main gate, is one of the symbolic and emotional focal point of the modern Indian nation. Huge crowd of public gathers around it, every year, on Independence Day.

Inside is a veritable treasure trove of buildings, including the Hall of Public Audiences, the white marble Hall of Private Audiences, Drum House, Royal Baths, Palace of Color  and the Pearl Mosque. The vaulted arcade of Chatta Chowk, a bazaar selling tourist trinkets, leads into the huge fort compound.

The sound and light show in the evening gives a dramatic representation of Mughal Empire and recreates the events connected with the fort.

History of the Red Fort
The Red Fort was constructed by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 17th century and it served as the residence of the Mughal Emperors and the palace for Shah Jahan's new capital, Shahjahanabad.

Shah Jahan ordered the construction of the Red Fort in 1638 when he shifted the capital of India from Agra to Delhi and Ustad Ahmad was chosen as the architect.

The construction was completed by 1648 and it was originally titled as "Qila-i-Mubarak". Shah Jahan's successor, Aurangzeb, built barbicans in front of the two main gates, thus making the entrance route to the fort more circuitous. He also added the Moti Masjid to emperor’s private quarters.

Aurangzeb’s dictatorial rule led to the downfall of Mughals rule and thus, there was a collapse of palace and inhabitants of Red Fort. After a span of 30 years, in 1712, Jahandar Shah took over the Red Fort and a year later he was murdered and replaced by Farukhsiyar.

By 1783, the throne of Red Fort kept changing hands between the Marathas and Mughals, after which the Sikh Misl Karorisinghia, led by Baghel Singh Dhaliwal, conquered Delhi and the Red Fort. Sikhs signed a deal with Mughals giving the throne of Red Fort to Shah Alam, only if they agree to protect and construct seven Gurudwaras in Delhi.

In 1803, the Britishers gained control over the administration of Mughal Empire. Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last Mughal emperor to occupy the fort.

Significant Structures at Red Fort

Diwan-i-Aam
One of the most interesting sites of Red fort, Diwan-i-Aam or the all of Public Audiences acted as the Mughal emperor’s confession room. The Emperor would listen to the pleas and requests of the common public in this hall. It was also used for various state functions during the Mughal rule. There are many more interesting structures behind the Diwan-i-Aam in the courtyard.

Hayat Bakhsh Bagh
The Mughals constructed the Hayat Bakhsh Bagh or “Life-bestowing Garden” at red Fort to symbolically represent paradise on Earth. The garden comprises of aesthetically carved structures and beautifully grown flowers and tress of various species that are a must-watch sight.

Diwan-i-Khas
Diwan-I-Khas or the Hall of Private audiences was used by the Mughal emperors to hold their private meetings with courtiers and state guests.

Diwan-i-Khas, Red Fort
Diwan-i-Khas by mike matthews, via Wikimedia Commons
Delhi Gate
Delhi gate is the Southern public gate from which the tourists can enter the Red Fort.

Moti Masjid
Moti masjid or the Pearl mosque was built by Aurangzeb, in 1659, which is a small mosque carved with white marble.To the west of the hammam is the Moti Masjid, the Pearl Mosque.

Lahore Gate
This acts as the main gate of Red Fort and from the ramparts of Lahore Gate, the Prime Minister of the country gives his Independence Day speech.

Zenana
Zenanas or the women’s quarters are the southernmost pavilions of the palace. The women of the palace used to reside in the Zenanas during the Mughal Empire.

Significance of Red Fort today
The aesthetics, planning and construction of the Red Fort symbolizes the pinnacle of Mughal creativity that was prevalent during the rule of Mughals in India.

After India gained independence The Red Fort continued to be under the control of Indian Army which they used as their cantonment till 22 December 2003. Now it is handed over for restoration and preservation to the Archaeological Survey of India.

Prime Minister of India hoists the National Flag at Red Fort every year on 15th August which is celebrated as India’s Independence Day, after which he gives his national speech.

Also, The Red Fort acts as a tourist site for the public which shows a light and sound show every evening depicting Mughal history. Today, a sound and light show describing Mughal history is a popular tourist attraction in the evenings.

Also, people can witness the archaeological and Indian war memorial museum which is filled with “blood paintings” that depict the story of young Indian martyrs. The retail mall at Lahore Gate is also a popular tourist attraction at Red Fort.

Interested in knowing more about the top 10 forts in India? Click here

[Explore Delhi Tour Packages at IndianHoliday.com]

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Siddhivinayak Temple: Top Temples in India

One of the most famous temples of India, located in Prabhadevi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, The Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir is a Hindu temple devoted to Lord Ganesh.  Built by Laxman Vithu Patil, the temple welcomes devotees from all around the country and the world to attend religious ceremonies throughout the day and to pay their respects to the Lords. It is currently the richest temple of India.

Sidhiviyak Temple, Maharashtra
Siddhi Vinayak Temple is the 4th richest temple in India

Location: Situated in Prabhdevi, Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra.
Built by: Laxman Vithu Patil
Built in: 19 November 1801
Highlights: Shopping stalls at Phool Gali, Lord Ganesh Aartis and other temple rituals, Special events during Angaraki and Sankashti Chaturthi.
How to Reach: From the city of Mumbai, local transport is easily available to reach Prabhdevi locality, where Siddhivinayak Temple is situated. The nearest airport is Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at a distance of 25 km from where you can easily avail autorickshaws or taxis. The nearest railway station to the temple is Dadar. Mumbai local trains can be boarded from Elphinstone Road, Parel and Mahalaxmi to reach the temple.
Best time to visit: Because of the hot and humid weather conditions of Mumbai in summers and wet conditions during rainy seasons, winters are the best season to visit Siddhivinayak Temple.
Entry Fee: Nil
Timings: 5:30 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. (Wednesday to Monday); 3:15 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. (Tuesdays)

Introduction
Indians have a tradition of bowing down to Lord Shree Ganesha before setting out for new ventures. Shree Siddhivinayak Temple, located at Prabhadevii, allows the worshippers from all over the world to fulfill their desire of bowing down to the Lord Ganesha.

 The Siddhivinayak Temple offers the locals and the tourists in Mumbai to sit back and observe the place of historical interest and worship. The temple is not only the most popular destination among the devotees but it also acts as an archaeological site of India.

Shree Siddhivinayak Temple, built in 19th November, 1801 is famous for housing the black stone idol of Shree Sidhivinayak with a tilted trunk. The idol is consecrated having four hands, holding a bowl full of Modaks and a small axe in left hands and a lotus and holy beads in the right hands.

On the forehead of the deity, is an eye, resembling the third eye of Shiva. On both sides of the deity are Siddhi and Riddhi which are the goddesses symbolizing riches, fulfillment, sanctity and prosperity.

History
Siddhivinayak Temple was built on a Thursday, 19th November 1801, by a professional contractor and a great devotee of Lord Ganesha, Mr. Laxman Vithu Patil. Mrs. Deubai patil provided the financial support for the construction of this temple.

She could not conceive a child and the idea that led for the construction of the temple was to provide a worship place to other childless women to pray for a child from Lord Ganesha.

Myths and stories that revolve around the temple have led the devotees to believe that Deubai’s humble request was accepted by Lord Ganesha.

In the beginning, it was a small structure housing the black stone idol of Shree Siddhivinayak. The temple complex was approximately 2550 Sq. m in area and consisted of two Deepamalas, a rest house and living quarters for the caretaker. In 19th century, Nardulla dug up an adjoining lake to counter the water scarcity in the region.

Later, the lake was filled up and now it constitutes a part of the temple complex. During a road extension project in the year 1952, a Hanuman icon was discovered. A small shrine for the Hanuman icon was built in the temple complex.

 By 1952, huge crowds started visiting the temple and by 1965, long queues of devotees were started to be seen outside the temple.

Some Interesting Facts about Siddhivinayak Temple
  • Siddhivinayak Temple is the 4th richest temple of India

  • The dome over Ganesha's idol inside the temple is coated in 3.7 kilos of gold

  • Among devotees, Siddhivinayak is popularly known as “Navasala Pavanara Ganapati” or “Navasacha Ganapati” which stands for 'Ganapati bestows whenever humbly genuinely prayed a wish'

  • A legend goes that Ramakrishna Jambhekar Maharaj, a disciple of Swami Samarth, was asked to bury two divine idols in the temple by his guru. After 21 years, as Swami Samarth prophesized, a mandar tree grew there with a svayambhu Ganesha in its branches

  • There is a place nearby temple where Saint Ved Vyasa performed sacrifices. The spot is now covered with water

  • Siddhivinayak Temple is said to be primarily built by Lord Vishnu, later reconstructed by Peshwas

  • A popular belief about the temple among the devotees is that all the honorable and humble wishes of the devotees will be fulfilled by Lord Ganesha on visiting the temple

  • Every year, tourists from all over the world keep flanking the place in large numbers

  • Many celebrities, including businessmen, film stars, industrialists, political leaders etc. visit Siddhivinayak temple, whenever they embark on a new venture
You may also be interested in finding out the top 10 temples in India. Click here!

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10 Packing Tips for Traveling in India

When you are travelling to India, it is better to be prepared and pack-well. India is a developing country and has conservative dressing standards. There it is very important that you should carry all essentials and bring appropriate clothes apart from all the necessary documents. Following are 10 packing tips for traveling in India:

Tips for Packing for Traveling in India
Tips for packing for traveling in India. Photo courtesy amillionlives.net

1. Luggage
Your itinerary will decide the type of luggage which is suitable for your travel to India. If there is not much of walking around and you are planning to visit the main cities, you can carry a suitcase. On the other hand, if you trip is going to include a lot of walking then it is better that you opt for a backpack to keep the burden levels low.

2. Money
You must be aware that Indian currency is highly regulated and you cannot get your hands on it outside India, thus it would be better if you carry some currency for exchanging it for Indian rupees once you reach Indian airport. All major credit cards are accepted in all the main cities.

ATM machines are installed in major cities as well as small towns. At most of the tourist attractions, one can pay entry fee in US dollars, so you can carry US currency in small denominations. One of the best ways to solve the dilemma of money transaction is to keep ATM card ready and withdraw money from ATMs which are now omnipresent in India.

Carrying lesser money is advisable as you travel to avoid theft and loss.

3. Clothing
India is a conservative country as far dressing is concerned. There are a lot of international tourists who buy clothes after they land in India so that they can mingle with local dressing styles and also because they find clothes affordably priced.

Although metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai have turned quite westernized but the smaller towns and villages are still conservative. However, one should avoid wearing short dresses. When at any religious site, men and women should keep their legs, heads and shoulders covered.

4. Personal care stuff
You must pack shampoo, conditioner, razors, moisturizers, deodorant, soap or any other important products of your favorite brands as they might not be readily available. You might also have to search for roll-on antiperspirant or mosquito repellent of your preferred brand if you are out of any major city.

5. Medicine
Medicines for most of the ailments with same active ingredients are available in India but searching out the counterpart brand name can be quite a task. It is always advisable to pack the required amount of medicines which you really need on a daily basis. Medicines for common issues like a stomach ache, common cold, or a headache are readily available at the pharmacies.

6. Shoes
A wide of shoes are easily available in India at extremely affordable rates. You can get every world brand here. There is a whole range of designs and colors in the markets.

However, if you have any preferred brand, you must pack it. It is important that pack a comfortable and sturdy pair of walking shoes, sandals or sneakers. For night dinners and parties, you can pack a formal pair.

7. Other useful stuff
You can also pack other useful stuff such as anti-bacterial hand wipes, a padlock and chain, a torch that can come handy in important situations. You can also pack a voltage converter and plug adaptor as such plugs come in different sizes and shapes. Carrying a voltage convertor can also prove to be handy.

8. India Language Book
Carrying a language book can prove to be quite helpful while traveling in India. Hindi is most widely spoken language. You can learn some useful phrases like Namaste, Kitna Hua and more that may prove to be helpful. However, now English is also widely spoken in India.

9. India Guide Book
When you are planning your itinerary or once you get within India, an India travel book can prove to be a helpful option. You do not only gain useful information about the cities and their attractions, you also get tips on food, good sites and even more. Roaming around in a fast country like India can be a challenge and a travel guide can really help you out.

10. Travel Journal
India is a huge country where you will spend an unforgettable vacation. You are going to find, to see, to witness, to observe, to relish, to savor, to remember and do much more in India, which you might actually forget once you get back home.

Do not forget to pack a specially designed travel journal so that you can keep a track of the sights, the sounds and the experiences of India.

About the author: is a travel writer who has an interest in sharing her experiences with all. She provides a detailed account of any travel topic she chooses to write on. You can get detailed information and tips about choosing the right kind of holiday packages in the country from her write-ups.
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Ooty: An Incredible Hill Station in India

If summers make you feel devastated then Ooty is the right place to visit during summers. The magnificent destination of Ooty is located in the Nilgiri Hills of the Tamil Nadu state of India.

The economy of the town is based by and large on agriculture and tourism, and is also a prime manufacturer of medicines and photographic films. The small hilly town is very well connected to the all parts of the country by means of railways and roadways.

Botanical Garden, Ooty
Botanical Garden in Ooty is one of the most visited attractions in Ooty: Photo Courtesy Ootyindia.com


Many a Ooty travel guide earns quite a lot better than other natives as there are various beautiful and historic places to visit in Ooty that catch the attention of the domestic and international tourists.

The place is 535 km from Chennai and 80 km from Coimbatore. It is situated on the NH, National highway 67. With a frequent bus service, the town is very convenient to reach from many of the towns of Tamil Nadu. The Railway station in Ooty is Udhagamandalam.

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is also declared as a world heritage site by the UNESCO. Since Ooty does not have an airport of its own, one can opt for the Coimbatore International Airport which is situated at a distance of 96km from Ooty.

Once there, you do not need to worry about where to spend your time at as Ooty brings you the most picturesque locations for sightseeing and picnicking out. The places to visit in Ooty include various mighty mountains, incredible lakes, lush green forests, grasslands and the beautiful and refreshing tea gardens.

The Government Rose Garden is the largest rose garden in India. The garden has over 20,000 varieties of roses that include the astonishing black and green roses as well. Another well known spot among places to visit in Ooty is the Ooty lake, from where one may drink in scenic views of eucalyptus trees and the railway line running along the bank.

A very famous tourist spot in Ooty is the Wax World, which is a 142 year old bungalow that houses look alike wax statues of famous Indian personalities. The Deer Park located at the end of the Ooty lake is a place that should not be missed as it provides a fantastic view of various species of deer and other wild animals.

Since Ooty is a very small district there are a few other places to visit near Ooty to make your trip to Ooty even more memorable. There is Doddabetta Peak located at a distance of 10 km from Ooty. It offers its visitors the beautiful view of the Nilgiri Hills range. One can also revel in the panoramic views through the TTDC telescope provided by the TTDC restaurant.

Another of the most significant of places to visit near Ooty is the Pykara River located at a distance of 19km from the place. The river deemed sacred source by the native Todas. It rises at the Mukurthy peak and passes through the hilly slopes. The river also turns into two beautiful falls known as Pykara falls.


Author Bio:
This guest post is submitted by Chandralekha. Chandralekha is a Travel enthusiast, currently working with ixigo.com, an online India Travel Guide helps you to plan your trip to India. This time she has written on Ooty tourism. Hope this information will help you to plan your trip to Ooty.
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The Andaman and Nicobar Islands - A Travel Guide

Once ill-famed as Kalapani (the Black Waters) related to the atrocities given by the British rulers to the revolutionaries and political prisioners, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have come a long way to now becoming a popular tourist as well as a honeymoon and winter holiday destination in India.

Andaman and Nicobar Island

A relaxed tropical island, Andaman and Nicobar Inlands is renowned for tranquil beaches, exotic corals and marine life, remains of Stone age culture and a stimulating colonial history.

These  mystifying islands are located 1000 km away from the eastern coast of India in the Bay of Bengal.

A territory consisting of a total of 572 islands has exotic flora and fauna. Out of these 36 are inhabited and a major chunk of the Nicobar Islands is out of the reach of tourists.

The capital of the territory, covering an area of around 8,073 sq km has Port Blair, an Andamanese town as its capital. While Car Nicobar, also called Malacca is the capital of Nicobar Island.

This group of islands is extremely popular for its scenic beauty as well as rich flora and fauna. As a crazy number of tourists visit this group of islands, there is no dearth of accommodation options.

Fast Facts about Andaman & Nicobar Group of Islands Date of formation- 1st Nov, 1956
Total area- 8,073 sq km
Official languages- Hindi and English
Other Languages - Malyalam, Bengali, Tamil, Oriya, Nicobarese, Kanada
Population- 3,56,152 (approx)
Capital- Port Blair
Annual temperature- 23 degree C to 31 degree C
Best time to visit- December to April
How to reach-By air or by ship

Climate

The sea breeze of this tropical island keeps the temperature fluctuating between the range of 23 degree C to 31degree C. Average rainfall is around 3000 m and the humidity is around 80 percent all around the year. From medium to heavy rain, monsoon visit the islands twice in a year, between the months of May-September and from November to mid-December.

History
The first inhabitants of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are not known. However, the first human presence has been documented in the 2nd  century by Greek astronomer Ptolemy. Thereafter, during his visit to India in the 7th century, a Chinese Monk, also mentioned about human presence on the islands.

The Marathas, invaded the islands in the 17th century. Later, in the 19th century, the island was used by the Britishers in the form of a penal venue to keep off the freedom fighters and revolutionaries away from the mainland India.

The island was invaded by the Japanese during the II world war, but the locals were hesitant to them. Some considered them help while the other started guerrilla activities against them.

After Independence in 1947, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands came under the Indian Union. From that time, there has been a lot of migration from the mainland, thereby, increasing the population. This new arrival was considered as a threat to tribal land rights and environmental protection, but now things are changing.

Culture 

People 
The culture of Andaman and Nicobar is a mix of native cultures of the Negroid and the Mongoloid inhabitants along with initial setters from India. The migrants have also made additions to the culture. However, the best part is harmonious co-existence. Following are the main ethnic groups:
  • Andamanese
  • Onge
  • Jarawa
  • Sentinalese
Fairs and festivals The Tourism Department of the Island, organize a number of festivals for the tourists as well as the local people. Here is a list:

Event                                                      Schedule (tentative)  
Island tourism festival                              January 5th to 15th
Beach festival                                          3 days in April
Music festival/Monsoon festival                4 days in May or June
Food festival                                           4 days in September
World Tourism Day celebrations               September 27th
Film festival                                            3 days in November

Economy
It is believed that the locals have amazing potential but most of it is not utilized, leading to insignificant development. Although agricultural and industry are main but the rainforests are gold mines of timber. The hilly areas have tropical fruits  in abundance. Paddy, coconut and Areca nut are the main crops.

There is a lot of potential for fishery here. Pulses, vegetables, oilseeds, nutmeg, pepper, cloves and cinnamon are cultivated here with limited growth of rubber, cashew, red oil and palm. PVC conduit pipes and fittings, steel furniture paints and varnishes, soft drinks and beverages, and fiberglass are the main industries. From past many years, the tourism industry has been booming from the past few years.

Clothing 
It will not be wrong to say that there is no particular dressing style of  the people of Andaman and Nicobar islands. There are still such islands here where people remain naked or hardly wear any clothes but these areas are away from the touch of civilization or touch of modernity.

Some such tribes are Sentinelese, Shompens and Jarawas. However, those islands where tourism and modernization have shown their presence,  men and women wear both Indian and western attires.

Things to do in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Attractions -
Following are some of the well-known tourist places:
  • National Memorial Museum
  • Baratang
  • Barren Island (India’s only active volcano)
  • Gandhi Park
  • Cellular Jail
  • Corbyn's Cove Beach
  • Anthropological Museum
  • Radhanagar Beach
  • Katchal
  • Fisheries Museum
  • Ross Island
  • Chidiya Tapu
  • Mount Harriet
  • Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park
  • Neil Island
  • Havelock Island
  • Chatham Saw Mill
Activities -
You can indulge in a number of activities such as :
  • Swimming 
  • Glass-boat rides 
  • Scuba diving 
  • Exploring marine life 
  • Going aboard a cruise 
  • Beach visits 
  • Shopping
  • Banana rides 
  • Speed-boat rides 
  • Water scooters 
  • Trekking 
  • Snorkeling
  • Fishing/Angling
How to reach By Air
To  arrive in the union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the best way is to reach at the airport in Port Blair. It is well-connected by regular flights to important cities of India like Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. Jet Airways, Indian Airlines and Air Deccan are some of the airlines which offer services.

By Ship The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located in the middle of the Bay of Bengal and this travelling by a shop can be an amazing experience. The important cities of India like Vishakhapatnam, Chennai and Kolkata are connected to Port Blair by the way of regular passenger ships.

In a month, around 3-4 ships are available from Kolkata and Chennai and one from Vishakhapatnam to Port Blair. The ship might take around 3 days to arrive at Port Blair with around a stoppage of 2 years for the reverse journey.

General Tips for tourists
  • Make use of services of authorized guides only 
  • Swim only in safe areas or where lifeguards are present
  • Do not litter on the beaches or in the national parks
  • Do not damage the corals
  • Do not enter into the restricted territory 
  • Do not stay in forests/beaches during the night 
  • Explore only the permitted areas
  • Obtain permits in advance for photography or videography inside the national parks 
  • Nudity is prohibited on the beaches
Interested in vacation in Andaman? Check out this 6 nights Andaman Island tour package.
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