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Water Sports in India in 5 Most Fascinating Destinations

“Don’t wait for your sip to come in- swim out to it”
It is rightly said that if you truly want to go for a self-explorative walk, set out to discover the shades of nature and you will find life in a new form. In this scorching summer season, when the sun god is in full rage, setting out for an adventurous water sports vacation in India could probably be the best idea. With its distinctive topography, India offers a plethora of destinations where some of the spine thrilling water sports can be enjoyed. With its large lakes, gushing white streams and blue ocean waters, India offers the adventure enthusiasts a scope to splash and dive in with captivating beaches and valleys surrounding these.
Uttaranchal, Kerala, Goa, Andaman-Nicobar and Lakshadweep are the top 5 India destinations for water sports like white water rafting, water skiing, canoeing & kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, angling and fishing. The 2,525 stretch of the Ganges rising from the western Himalayas creates great opportunities for diverse water sports.

But every adventure excavation demands strength of the body and the mind. Mother Nature has diverse faces; sometime it is gentle and at other times it is wild. Preparing the self for mental and physical challenges and you will enjoy the best adventure holiday in India. The following are the top 5 best destinations in India for experiencing diverse water sports in an adventurous way-

Uttaranchal

Kaudiyala white Water Rafting Rishikesh
Kaudiyala White Water Rafting in Rishikesh,Uttaranchal
Cuddled in the Himalayan rages, Uttaranchal is a feast for the senses. Trees, forest lands, flora & fauna, and the untamable white water of the Ganges elevate the charm of this place where it can rightly be compared to the heaven’s garden as described in ancient scriptures. Rishikesh in Uttaranchal is best known for white water rafting. In a holiday vacation to Rishikesh you can enjoy camping, trekking, rock climbing or mountaineering along with taming the white water in a rafting excavation. Those who love to face the challenges of nature, kayaking in Rishikesh is the best bet for them. Whitewater river rafting stretch of the Ganges from Kaudiyala to Rishikesh has 12 major rapids over 36 kilometers.

River rafting

Highly gut wrenching, River rafting is amongst the favorite water adventure sports in India and to witness the best of it, travel to the Ganges river beds in Rishikesh. The mighty river flows through steep curves generating rapids of great instability and adrenalin pumping nature.

Kayaking

Given the status of rapids in the streams of Rishikesh, how can one neglect the adventure of Kayaking. Interesting part is the variance in the levels of rapids erupting in Ganges River, which give Kayakers to select the course as per their endurance and physical stamina.

Cliff Jumping

A free fall jump in the depths of Ganges from a height of 35 ft defines the water sport of Cliff Jumping in Rishikesh. Enthusiasts usually go for it after they are done with river rafting as the site is at the latter’s ending point.  

Kerala

Kovalam Beach,Kerala
Kovalam Beach in  Kerala
When you are into Kerala, you might not want to miss an adventurous water sports session. Kerala water sports include canoeing, catamaran sailing, Para sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling and wind surfing. With its 44 rivers, numerous lakes and lagoons, Kerala has placed itself among the best holiday destinations in India. Tourists can also enjoy the famous Snake Boat Race and Nehru Trophy Boat Race in Kerala in the summer season. Vacationing in an adventurous way can rightly be enjoyed along with spending some relaxed, leisurely moments in some of the best luxury resorts in Kerala. A perfect summer destination with numerous scopes for relaxation and enjoyment, Kerala is ideal for leisure as well as family vacationing in India.

Kayaking

Home of the enchanting backwaters in Kerala, Alappuzha is also known for its love for kayaking. The palm fringed waterways of this inland channel offers suitable conditions to Kayak. Besides, it is a nice alternative to explore the scenic beauty of Alappuzha.  

Surfing

Kerala’s best known beach Kovalam is the hub of surfers. The sea front at Kovalam has a behavior that ranges from mild to challenging and sometimes very rough. Thus, there is always a good opportunity for surfers; beginner or advanced to try their moves in the sea.

Rafting

If river rafting entices you, then head to the region of Ernakulam in Kerala. One of the best white water rafting expeditions are carried out here, which goes through the lakes surrounding Periyar. One can expect rapids ranging from medium to mild during the rafting course.
 

Goa

Arabian Ocean, Goa
Arabian Ocean in Goa
Vastly popular for its sunbathed beaches aside Arabian Ocean and its vibrant lifestyle, Goa is an ideal destination to try some of the best water sports in the country. Attracting as much as 20 million visitors every year, the enchanting scenic beauty of the place makes an adventure vacation in Goa complete with its offering of water sports like fishing, jet skiing, parasailing, scuba diving, water skiing, wind surfing and dinghy sailing. The world under the cerulean water of the Arabian Ocean can be best enjoyed in a scuba diving session in Goa. Along with all these water sports, Goa also serves in its platter lucrative sightseeing destinations and dazzling night life which really mounts to the expectation of every global nomad.

Wind Surfing

Combining the principles of sailing and surfing, wind surfing is a fascinating water sport on the beaches of Goa. Beginners can try their hands in this sport at the Dona Paula bay during the first half of the day, as by afternoon the waves tend to get stronger.

Dinghy Sailing

Also known as ‘beer and sandwich’ sailing; probably because of the easy alternative it offers than wind surfing, Dinghy sailing involves sailing on 15 feet long craft that can easily accommodate three to four people. This water sport is also to be enjoyed the best at the Dona Paula region of Goa.

Scuba Diving

Lovers of marine life can take a deep breather as scuba diving is fast gaining popularity in Goa. Although the beach state is not credited with magnificent coral reefs, one can still fancy a lot of brightly colored fishes, lobsters and coral heads.

Water Skiing

If you seek for speed, then water skiing is surely the best water sport for you in the beach state of Goa. High class speed boats, which are known to touch the high speeds of around 30-40 miles an hour are available at the Taj Hotels, Bogmallo beach resort and Cidade de Goa.

Angling

Angling requires tranquil waters and a great amount of patience that must go undisturbed. Fitting such a condition is the serene Agonda beach, where you can catch Salmon, Mullet and Soormai.

Parasailing

Another one for the lovers of speed, parasailing is one of the most popular water sports in Goa. The sport involves harnessing the parasailor with a 300 feet long rope at one end and the other one with a speed boat. Bogmallo beach resort and Taj hotel provides the necessary equipment for this thrilling water sport.

Water Scooter

It’s exactly like riding a speeding motor bike. However, this motor bike runs on splashing waves rather than metaled roads. Water scooter can accommodate two people at a time. Cidade de Goa, Majorda, Dona Paula jetty and Candolim beach are the prime spots for this water sport. 

Swimming

Enjoyed by people of all ages and breeds of traveling; young, old, affluent and budgetary, swimming is a water sport that can be done at all the beaches of Goa. These beaches also have lifeguards appointed. Thus, you can always check on the status of the sea from them before heading to the waters. 

Andaman & Nicobar

Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Andaman & Nicobar Islands
When you are planning for a holiday trip to India do not miss to visit Andaman & Nicobar Islands which has special surprises of nature, culture and colors for its visitors. Bestowed with some of the most delectable and gorgeous islands on the face of earth, this place holds a promise of enthralling holiday per excellence. A holiday in India gets an adventurous pinch with water sports activities in Andaman & Nicobar that includes snorkeling, scuba diving, glass bottom boating, water skiing and many more. The luxury resorts in Andaman & Nicobar are famous for their rejuvenating therapies and massages. Thus while you are into this emerald place, don’t miss to savor a rejuvenating spa therapy in these luxury resorts.

Snorkeling

One of the best snorkeling opportunities in the world is offered at the islands of Andaman and Nicobar. The island group is known for its large population of coral reefs and exotic marine life in its surrounding waters. Your favorite spot for Snorkeling in Andaman must be Havelock islands for they are incredibly dense in terms of marine creatures. 

Scuba diving

Highly adventurous and fun, scuba diving is another major water sport activity that one must not miss at any cost on the tour of the Andamans. Popular diving sites at the island group are Corruption Rock, Bala Reef, Cinque Island, Fish Rock newar Passage Island, Rutland Island, Havelock Island and Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. 

Lakshadweep

Fun with water scooter in Lakshadweep
Fun with water scooter in Lakshadweep
If you are enthusiastic about the marine world where the fishes and other under water plants create a colorful world, Lakshadweep in India is one of the best options for you. Blessed by the Mother Nature, Lakshadweep is best known for snorkeling. A deep plunge into the blue ocean water and you can become a part of the rainbow colored world beneath. Perfect for honeymoon, adventure and group tours, Lakshadweep is also rich with its historical heritage. After an adventurous day on the blue water of the ocean, you can also experience a dazzling night in this Indian island only.Thus, the major water adventure activities in Lakshadweep go on like this: 


 Pondicherry

Surfing in Puducherry
Surfing in Puducherry
Commonly known as Pondy, this union territory has its abode on the eastern shore of India. In the colonial times of the country, Pondicherry remained the favorite of the French; traces of them still lingers within its urban lines. Owing to this, the French settlements which actually form the quiet, cobbled part of Pondicherry has become one of its major tourist attractions. Now if you are a beach lover, Pondy has still a lot to offer to you. Within a coast line of around 32 km, the tropical attractions of Pondicherry constitute palm fringed beaches, fishing villages, backwaters and beach resorts. These spots are highly fit for leisure travelers as well as adventure crazies. Thus, the major water adventure activities in Pondicherry go on like this: 

Scuba diving

Unlike the quaint Arabian sea coast on the west of India, the country’s eastern side of Pondicherry is for adventure lovers. Thus, scuba diving is one of the best activities to enjoy the thrill of the thrilling nature of the sea here.

Surfing 

Given the nature of Pondicherry’s sea fronts, one can enjoy some of the best surfing experiences here as well. The village of Tandryankuppam, nearby Auroville is highly suitable for this adventure sport as the location has two long rocky piers built in front of the beach in the name of safety. 

An adventure holiday in India gives you a scope to feel the thrill alongside enriching your casket of memories with beautiful post card perfect moments. This summer explore the adventurous part of your personality in a luxury adventure vacation in India.
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Rath Yatra begins in Puri


Every year lakhs of pilgrims thronged Puri to have the glimpse of Lord Jagannath riding on his chariot with elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra. The similar enthusiasm for Ratha Yatra could be witnessed today with the arrival of over 3 lakh devotes to the temple town of Puri in Orrisa.
Rath Yatra, Puri, India
Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra
The Ratha Yatra festival marks the annual procession of three deities from the Jagannath temple in three colorful wooden chariots by the devotees to the Gundicha temple. The pulling of the Ratha cart by devotees epitomizes the endeavors of the local residents of Vrindavan to bring Krishna, Balram and Subhadra back to their home town from Kurukshetra. Read more here.
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Char Dham Yatra: Pilgrimage Tours in India

Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand is a major pilgrimage in India. It is undertaken every year by thousands of devotees of almighty. Devotees trek to these char dhams (or nowadays even the holy circuit of Char Dham by helicopter is easily available to devotees who don't have the time to undertake the long perilous journey) to pay reverence to the almighty and attain salvation every year.

Char Dham Yatra is a journey to the small circuit of four holy seats of baba bholenath. Located in the Garhwal region of the State of Uttaranchal, the circuit consists of four important Hindu pilgrimage sites: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.

As per the tradition, the Chardham yatra is undertaken from the west to the east (and also from left to right). The Yatra begins from Yamunotri and then the pilgrims travel to Gangotri followed by Kedarnath. They then finally concluded at Badrinath which is considered the holiest Hindu pilgrimage site our of this quartet.

Yamunotri: Chardham Yatra Destination

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Yamunotri  Temple
Yamunotri is the abode seat of the river goddess Yamuna. The shrine of Yamunotri is situated at an altitude of about 3,235 meters and located approximately 30 kilometers away from Uttarakshi.

It is a critical pilgrimage center in Garhwal Himalayas. The original temple was constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal in the 19th century. The journey to Yamunotri temple takes 1 day from Haridwar and Rishikesh.

The actual temple is situated at a distance of 6 kilometers from the town of Hanumanchatti and is easily accessible by a walk. There are 2 thermal springs named Surya Kund and Gauri Kund just outside the temple at Janki Chatti. These holy kunds are believed to have healing powers.

Surya Kund is a hot boiling water reservoir whereas the Gauri Kund is a moderately warm water reservoir suitable for bathing. The Temple opens on Akshaya Tritiya in the month of May and closes on Yama Dwitiya on the second day of Diwali.

Gangotri: Chardham Yatra Destination

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Gangotri Temple in Uttarakshi
Gangotri is the abode seat of the river goddess Ganga. The shrine of Gangotri is situated at an elevation of about 3048 meters and located at a distance of 99 kilometers.

It is an important Hindu pilgrimage situated on the banks of the river Ganga.  The temple was constructed by the Gorkha General Amar Singh Thapa in the 18th century. It’s a one day journey from the towns of Rishikesh and Haridwar to reach Gangotri and two days journey from Yamunotri temple.

The temple is opened from May till the Diwali day. For Adventurous pilgrims, Gangotri serves as a starting point for an 18 kilometer trekking route to Gaumukh. It is easily accessible by bus and car which means an opportunity to explore many more pilgrims.

Want more information? Read more on Gangotri.

Kedarnath: Chardham Yatra Destination

Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath is a holy Hindu pilgrimage site situated in Rudra Prayag district in the state of Uttarakhand. In the midst of Himalayas, Kedarnath stands out as one of the twelve jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. The shrine of Kedarnath is situated at an elevation of 3584 meters on the head of river Mandakini and is flanked by spectacular snow capped mountain peaks.

According to the popular legend, Pandavas after winning the battle over Kauravas in the war of kurukshetra felt guilty of having killed their own brothers and move to Himalayas to seek blessings of Lord Shiva.

While searching for Lord Shiva, they found a buffalo that was quite unique in looks. Bhima engaged in a tug-of-war with the buffalo and started pulling his tail due to which his face went straight to Nepal forming Pashupatinath Temple, leaving its hind part in Kedar out of which a Shiva linga formed.

In between Rudraprayag and Kedarnath, there are several pilgrimages sites which includes Agastyamuni, Ukhimath, Phauli- Pasalat Devi Maa, Bamsu (Lamgoundi) Vanasur, Kalimath, Trijugi Narayan and Kashi Vishwanath at Guptakashi.

The route to Kedarnath requires a 14 kilometer steep foot trekking from Gauri Kund. The journey to Gauri Kund is easily accessible by road from Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradun.

Helicopter services are also available these days to reach Kedarnath Dham. The temple opens on Akshaya Tritiya in the month of May and closes on Bhai Duj in the November.

Interested in information on Kedarnath? Read more...

Badrinath: Chardham Yatra Destination

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Badrinath Temple
Badrinath is the one of famous and most visited pilgrim spot in the Char Dham yatra. It is situated on the bank of Alaknanda River in the hill town of Badrinath. The town lies between the Nar and Narayan mountain ranges and the Neelkanth peak provides a fabulous setting to Badrinath.

It is considered to be the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu. A hot water spring is just below the temple, where many visitors take bath before visiting the temple.

The legend says that Lord Vishnu came to this place earlier known as Badri Van and meditated for a very long time after Narada scolded him for being immersed into worldly pleasures. The temple is open only for six months from April to November due to severe weather and climatic conditions.

The Badrinath is one of the five shrines that are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and are referred to as ‘Panch Badri’:
  • Vishal Badri: is the original Badrinath temple in Badrinath.
  • Yogadhyan Badri situated in Pandukeshwar depicting the meditating image of Lord Vishnu installed by King Pandu.
  • Bhavishya Badri located at subain near Tapovan. The Legend says that when evil will reach at its peak and the route to Badrinath will be inaccessible, the lord Badrinath will worshipped here in future.
  • Vridh Badri situated 7 kilometers away from the jyotirmath in Animath. The legend says that Lord Badrinath used to be worshiped here before moving to the current temple.
  • Adi Badri situated 17 kilometers away from karnaprayag consisting of 16 small temples with elaborate carved houses and a three stone black statue of Lord Vishnu.
Why undertake Chardham Yatra?
This pilgrimage is undertaken with objective of the attainment of salvation by the blessings of the almighty. It is believed that after undertaking this arduous spiritual reckoning and paying obeisance, the lord washes away the sins of the pilgrims which ensures their release from the cycle of birth and death.

Chardham Yatra 2014 Update: After last year's  natural disaster that struck Uttarakhand, the authorities have decided to regulate the number of pilgrims to Kedarnath. This year only 100 pilgrim will be allowed to travel to Kedarnath each day to avoid any unfortunate or large scale tragedy.

Are you ready for your spiritual reckoning? Check some travel ideas and packages for Chardham Yatra HERE!

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Maharajas' Express Train - The Indian Splendor Itinerary

With the waving of the green flag by the station authority, the king of luxury trains in India, in its cherry red veneer chugs out signaling the commencement of another grand luxury train tour in India. Lavishness seems to be the brand mark of every aspect of Maharajas’ Express, whether it’s the décor, the facilities, the destinations or even the personalized services. This Indian luxury train started operating from March 2010 and within just two years it has got an international repute for its unrivaled services and facilities.

Maharajas' Express Train
Redefining luxury train traveling: Maharajas' Express Train, India
Indian Splendor journey by Maharajas’ Express is introduced recently with a view to acquaint the global travelers to the myriad colors of India scattered in different regions of the country. While the journey begins in the glamorous country capital Delhi, it ends in the ‘city of dreams’ Mumbai. In its 8 days and 7 nights journey, this Indian luxury train tour covers destinations like Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Balanisor along with Delhi and Mumbai. Each of these precisely chosen destinations unveils different shades of Indian lifestyle and cultural heritage to its guests.

In this weeklong Indian Splendor itinerary, the travelers get a look at the diversified landscapes in India from the medieval cities, dazzling modern metropolises, sparkling stretch of golden sands, forests with roaring of tigers to signature monuments of eternal love.

Maharajas Express Junior Suite
Junior Suite Double Bed, Maharajas' Express India
The Indian Splendor tour onboard Maharajas’ Express is duly accompanied by mouthwatering cuisines, choicest brand of wines & spirits, recreational activities and a pampering rejuvenation parlor. Rang Mahal Restaurant and Peacock Restaurant are the two grand dining cars onboard this Indian luxury train that presents large variety of delicacies from around the world. When these delicately prepared food items are presented in gold plated cutleries with utmost tenderness, the taste of each item becomes heavenly. Moreover, the onboard safari bar is an ideal place to exhaust the beautiful outside views while sipping your best brand of wine.

Maharajas Express Rajah Club
Rajah Club,  The Lounge Bar cum Souvenir Shop, Maharajas' Express
The Maharajas’ Express is beautifully studded with handicraft items, intricate carvings on woods, royal carpets and beautiful wall lamps. A train journey that brings forth so many distinct features of India, Indian Splendor is one of the most luxurious train tours that one can have. The very spiritual element of Indian destinations is beautifully shared with its guests by Maharajas’ Express. Aesthetically prepared itinerary of Indian Splendor certainly make you feel the soul of the country in a luxury train tour to India.

Where to Book It
Indian Holiday Private Limited (IHPL)
http://www.indianluxurytrains.com/
Indian Holiday Private Limited is a Preferred Sales Agent- IRCTC Affiliate (PSA-IA) for selling the packages of Maharajas' Express Train for period 01st May 2013 to 30th April 2014.

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Top 10 Temples in India

Choosing top 10 temples is a difficult ask I know. A list talking about top 10 often generates a lot of buzz sometimes very angry reaction of the offended individuals whose favorite are not included. This list of top 10 temples in India might also incite such extreme reactions.

But alas, I had only 10 slots and after considering and measuring several temples from across the country I arrived at this conclusion when I compiled the list of 10 of the best temples in India.

Let me start with a prelude to religion and power of faith in a country as vast and diverse as India.

India is land of Temples. There are some mighty structures with intricate decorations and carvings and then there are some hidden beneath the ground such as various cave temples in India.

Faith is an important aspect which generates veneration in human mind for new thinking and lead to its acceptance as their path or religion. In a vast country like India where there is vast diversity of cultures and religion exists, the faith that people hold becomes one of the reasons why people travel to India.

Mentioned below is the list of top ten temples in India sprinkled across diverse terrains of this wonderland.

1. Khajuraho Temple in Madhya Pradesh

Khajuraho Temple in Madhya Pradesh
A group of monuments standing as a proof that sensuality was not a taboo subject in India, Khajuraho temples are renowned for their erotic carvings on the outer walls.

But when you'll enter the complex, the interiors or temples are exact opposite. Well carved, calm and serene.

Built during the reign of Chandela dynasty, these temples are fondly frequented more due to its artistic brilliance and less due to the religious fervor.

The temples are divided into four groups- western, eastern and southern. While western and southern group of temples are largely dedicated to two Hindu deities- Shiva and Vishnu, the eastern group is highly influenced by Jainism.

The best time to visit these temples is Khajuraho festivals which depicts several classical dance performances by dancers in the backdrop of magnificent Khajuraho temples. 

[ Read More about Khajuraho Temples ]

2. Somnath Temple in Gujarat

Somnath Temple in Gujarat
Somnath temple has got the recognition of first jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva and adorns the vibrant state of Gujarat. The word ‘Somnath’ means Lord of the Moon.

Mythology says that Somnath temple was first built by the moon God after Lord Shiva listened to his prayers and partially freed him from the curse of waning given to him by his father in law Daksh.

The boon Lord Shiva is considered to be the reason behind waxing and waning period of moon between full moon and New Moon. Over the course of history, the temple has been ransacked and rebuilt several times prior to its last restoration in 1947.

[ Read More about Somnath Temples

3. Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi
Built by Ahilyabai Holkar in 1780, Kashi Vishwanath temple is one of the holiest and revered temples of Varanasi, dedicated to Lord Shiva.

It is said that a bath in the holy waters of Ganges and a visit to this temple can liberate a human being from the sins of lifetime.

The temple is being venerated for two major reasons- first is its enshrinement as one of the twelve jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva and second is the 15.5 meters high gold spire and 3 domes constructed using pure gold. 

[ Read More about Kashi Vishwanath Temples ]  

4. Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa

Jagannath Temple,Puri
Jagannath Temple in Puri
Situated in the northern coast of Orissa, Lord Jagannath temple was built by Raja Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva in the 12th century. The temple is dedicated to the Lord Jagannath and is famous for its annual Ratha yatra which is attended by millions of Hindu pilgrims every year.

Housed with 120 shrines and temples and encompassed by a soaring fortified wall, the temple complex is one of the magnificent structures of India. The Mahaprasad served in the temple is a pure vegetarian meal cooked without using onion and garlic.

It is believed that food is prepared under the scrutiny of Goddess Mahalakshmi and those who have it attains spiritual advancement.

[ Read More about Jagannath Temple ]

5. Venkateshwara Tirupati Balaji in Andhra Pradesh

Tirupati Balaji in Andhra Pradesh
Considered as the second richest pilgrimage center after Sree Pdmabhaswamy Temple, Tirupati Balaji is the largest visited temple in India with its annual visitors touching 40 million.

Built in Dravidian architectural style, the temple was built during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya.  During special occasions such as Ram Navami, Janmashtami and Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims coming to the temple can mount up to 5, 00,000 per day.

[ Read More about Tirupati Balaji Temple

6. Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Meenakshi Temple in Madurai
Situated in the Madurai district of Tamil Nadu, Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple is a historic Hindu temple dedicated to the Goddess Meenakshi (Parvati) and her consort Sundareshwar (Lord Shiva).

The temple structure is a foremost example of Dravidian style and houses 14 gopurams which are painted in bright colors and bejeweled with figures of animals, gods and demons.

 [ Also check out the South India Temple Tour ]

7. Siddhivinayak Temple in Maharashtra

Shree Siddhivinayak Temple
Shree Siddhivinayak Temple,Mumbai
One of the most prominent and famous temples of Lord Ganesh, Shree Siddhivinayak Temple is counted among the most revered temples of India Tour. The temple was built by Vithu and Deubai Patil in the year 1801 and the current generation of Patil family stays in its vicinity.

The sanctum sanctorum for devotees of elephant deity Ganesh, Siddhivinayak Temple boasts of a small Mandapam where the main idol of Siddhivinayak is enshrined. The wooden doors of this temple are carved with the images of Ashtavinayaka and the inner roof is plated with gold.

Interested? Read more

8. Akshardham Temple

Akshardham Temple, Delhi
Akshardham is the second most visited
Akshardham or the Swaminarayan Temple is a Hindu temple complex in Delhi. This magnificent temple complex displays millennia of traditional Hindu and Indian culture, spirituality, and architecture.

The idea of Akshardham Temple Complex was conceived and developed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual head of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha.

During the construction of this temple, around 3,000 volunteers of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha helped 7,000 artisans construct Akshardham. This temple id visited by 70% of all tourists who visit Delhi making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Delhi.

 [ Also check out the 7 top tourist places in Delhi ]

9. Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab 

Golden Temple, Amritsar
Golden Temple in Amritsar
A perfect symbol of religious tolerance and spiritual freedom, Harmandir Sahib aka Golden Temple in Amritsar is the most famous Sikh pilgrimage in India.

The foundation of this Sikh shrine was laid by Guru Arjuna Dev and was later refurbished by Maharaja Ranjit Singh who bejeweled it with pure gold and transformed it into an architectural masterpiece. The sacred pool known as Amrit Sarovar has a great spiritual significance and is believed to have curative medicinal powers.

[ For more details on Golden Temple, click here.]

10. Brihadeshwara Temple in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

Brihadeeshwarar Temple
Brihadeshwara Temple in Tamil Nadu
Designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Brihadeeshwarar Temple is one of the most prominent temples in south India owing to its religious significance and artistic brilliance. Built during the reign of Chola dynasty, this temple structure is purely built in granite. This magnificent temple flaunts exquisite carvings which are supreme examples of artistic creativity.

Since this list could accommodate only 10 temples on India, we unfortunately missed out on Mahabodhi Temple in BodhGaya.

Interested in temple tours in India? You may want to check out these temple tour packages at Indianholiday.com.

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Top Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites in India

Top Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites in India

Of several spiritual leaders who were born in India and who spread the seeds of their thoughts and learning in the heart of common man through their sermons and instructions, Gautama Buddha has great significance and a following that cuts across continents. No wonder the India is sprinkled with Buddhist pilgrimage sites where one could pay obeisance to Buddha.

Centuries ago prince Siddhartha travelled an unknown path to seek answers to the meanings of life, to seek reckoning. He undertook a journey from Nepal and made several halts in the midst at various destinations in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where finally Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became Buddha.

All these destinations witnessed several important events in Buddha’s life right from his attainment of nirvana to his first sermon on 'dharma' and finally when he left his mortal form (Parinirvana).

Mentioned below is the list of destinations that speak volumes about Lord Buddha’s miracles and resonates with the rich Buddhist heritage

Bodhgaya

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya
Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya where Buddha is said to have attained Nirvana
The place where Prince Siddhartha found the answers to overcome ageing, sickness and death, Bodhgaya saw his transformation from Siddhartha to Buddha-“The Awakened One”.

The city is famous for the Bodhi tree which is said to be the descendant of the tree under which Gautama Buddha said to have attained enlightenment after three consecutive days and nights of meditation.

The major attractions of Bodhgaya include Bodhi tree, Dungeshwari caves and the Mahabodhi temple complex which is also considered one of the top temples in India. Mahabodhi Temple is also inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in India.

[Read more about Mahabodhi Temple]

Sarnath

Buddhist Stupa, Sarnath
Sarnath is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma
Located just 13 kilometers away from Varanasi, Sarnath is the place where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon called Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta after the attainment of enlightenment.

Sarnath is one of the most visited sites for devout followers of Buddhism. And the stupa at Sarnath is one of  most spectacular monuments exhorting Buddhism. Sarnath also happens to be the place where famous Buddhist hymn ‘Buddham Sharnam Gacchami’ originated.

Considered one of the top Buddhist sites in India, Sarnath houses many stupas and monasteries which include Dhamek Stupa, Dharmarajika Stupa, Chaukhandi Stupa and Ashoka Pillar. The lion capital carved on the Ashokan Pillar at Sarnath was adapted as the National Emblem of India.

Kushinagar
Located in the Kushinagar district of Uttar Pradesh, Kushinagar is one of the most beautiful Buddhist pilgrimage destinations in India.

The city is briefly mentioned in Ramayana epic which says that King Kusha, the son of Lord Ram, laid the foundation stone of this city. Kushinagar has great significance for Buddhist pilgrims as Tathagata (Lord Buddha) breathed his last here at the age of 80 years.

Several Buddhist stupas and Viharas dating back to 3rd and 5th century are still found alive in the precincts of this ancient town. The most famous attraction of this town is Parinirvana temple which houses a wonderful statue of Buddha in a reclining position.

Sravasti
One of the ancient Indian cities which gained prominence during the life span of Lord Buddha, Sravasti is a must visit destination for all Buddhist pilgrims.

Legend says that the city was named after a mythological king Shravasta. The city is known for playing host to Gautama Buddha for 25 rainy seasons and preached largest amount of sermons and instructions.

The city is dotted with relics and ruins of several ancient stupas and monasteries of which Jetvana Monastery and Ananda Bodhi tree are a must visit for all pilgrims.

Ajanta Caves

The World Heritage Rock Cut Caves of Ajanta
Ajanta Caves near Aurangabad are recognized as World Heritage Site by UNESCO owing to their immense cultural value
Set in the inner fold of Sahyadri hills, Ajanta Caves were cut off from the outer world for centuries until they were discovered by British army officer John Smith during a hunting expedition in 1819.

Although these caves are not marked by any important historic event relating to Lord Buddha or Buddhism but they can be rightly termed as the vast repertoire of Buddhist religious art carved out with the help of chisels and hammers.

There are around 29 caves whose wall paintings and sculptures narrate various events of the life of Lord Buddha right from being Prince Siddhartha to his attainment of Nirvana under Bodhi tree to Parinirvana.

Designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983, Ajanta Caves are visited for their immense cultural and artistic values by travelers from all part of the globe. It is one of the best cave temples in India.

[Browse through Buddhist Tour Packages in India at Indian Holiday.com ]


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The Indian Splendor Maharajas Express Train Tour Itinerary

One of the 5 brand new itineraries which will commence from the forthcoming season of Maharajas train tours in India happens to be the Indian Splendor itinerary.Tastefully crafted to unfold before the guest’s eye, the splendors of India’s cultural and architectural heritage as well as her immense topographical and wildlife diversity, this luxury train tour from Delhi to Mumbai offers 8 days and 7 nights of luxury ride across some of the most fascinating landscapes and attractions in India.

Maharajas Express Indian Splendor Tour
Maharajas Express Train  is one of the most luxurious trains of the world
Maharajas Express Indian Splendor itinerary will embark on its maiden voyage on October 12, 2013 from Delhi to Mumbai. The destinations covered during 168 hours of luxury rail ride include Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Balasinor. The Indian Splendor itinerary aboard Maharajas Express is a tasteful brew of heritage, culture, wildlife and insider experiences.

The saga of romance, adventure and opulence aboard Maharajas Express is also about the refined interiors and stylish décor using contemporary style and motifs. The interior décor of this luxury train in India is a hot topic among who’s who of the interior designing world. Then comes the state of the art amenities offered aboard the train during the span of various itineraries. From elegantly appointed restaurants with cutlery marked with gold to the pampering yet refined lounge cum observation car and the bar offering perfect nonchalance for tête-à-tête or silent reflection.

Rajah Club. Lounge Bar aboard Maharajas Express
Rajah Club is the lounge cum Observation car of the Maharajas Express
For plush peaceful accommodation, Maharajas Express train come equipped with pneumatic suspension to offer restful sleep on board. Accommodation is available in 4 categories namely Deluxe, Junior Suite, Suite and a Presidential Suite. Each cabin of the train comes equipped with amenities such as electronic safe, live television, direct dial phones, Wi-Fi internet and attached bathrooms.

Junior Suite, Maharajas Express
Junior Suite of the Maharajas Express
Maharajas Express is the distinction of being voted one of the most luxurious trains in the world. This Indian luxury train also happens to be the latest in the fleet of luxury trains in India. Regarded as one of the most luxurious trains in the world, Maharajas Express has generated a significant buzz among connoisseurs of luxury traveling as the next big thing in luxury tour segment in India. Maharajas Express was flagged of in 2010 and since then has become an international brand to reckon with.

How to Book it:
Maharajas' Express
Offering booking for 3 itineraries spanning over 8 days & 7 nights and 2 golden triangle train tour spanning over 4 days & 3 nights in Maharajas Express, with all-inclusive the Maharajas Express Indian Splendor journey starting from US $5980 per person per journey.
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