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Qutub Minar: Attractions in Delhi

Qutub Minar: A UNESCO World Heritage Site in Delhi

Qutub Minar from Mehrauli Archaeological Park
This was taken from inside Mehrauli Archaeological Park on a beautiful sunny morning

One of the gems of Delhi, Qutub Minar is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to its immense cultural value. I often travel to Qutub Minar and combine this trip with Mehrauli Archaeological Park which is close by. As a history buff, photographer and my personal interest in heritage and architecture, I am often drawn to this historical site.

Qutub Minar was built by using the material of 27 Jain Temples and thus was named as Quwwat Ul Islam (Might of Islam) after Ghauri defeated last Hindu ruler Prithviraj Chauhan in 2nd Battle of Panipat.

Even as you stand inside the mosque you may see the pillars with Hindu motifs used extensively. There's an Iron Pillar with Bramhi inscription too in the middle of the prayer courtyard which dates back to the Gupta Period and reign of Vikramaditya before the beginning of this millenia.

Qutub Minar Complex is built upon what was Lal Kot, first city of Delhi ruled first by Tomar Rajputs and later Prithviraj Chauhan. Qutub Din was left incharge of governance of Delhi as Ghouri went back to Afghanistan where he died eventually and Qutub din Aibak declared himself the first Sultan of Delhi ushering in the Mamluk or Slave Dynasty in India. Qutub Minar was also extended by Iltutumish after the death of Aibak and later extensively by Alaudin Khilji. 

The structures of note inside the Qutub Minar Complex include Qutub Minar, Quwwat ul Islam Mosque, Tomb of Imam Zamin, Madarsa and Tomb of Alaudin Aibar and exquisitely carved tomb of Iltutmish.

One of the structures which ever draw me here is the unfinished Alai Minar. Its foundation was laid by Alaudin Khilji and Alai Minar was supposed to be twice in size of Qutub Minar.

There are wash rooms for ladies and gentlemen inside the complex. You could also rent audio guide if you want to know the story of each of the structure inside the complex.

Alai Minar, Mehrauli
Unfinished Alai Minar is my Favorite Structure inside Qutub Minar Complex
One of the best days to visit this complex is on Mondays as only a few visitor come to this place. Ticket price is Rs. 50 for Indians and Rs 250 for foreigners for entrance in Complex and cloak room/locker facility for luggage and parking is available.

I'd also recommend you club it with trip to Mehrauli Archaeological Park which houses close to 70 monuments which include Rajon ki Baoli, Gandhak Ki Baoli, Jamali Kamali Mosque & Tomb and Balban's Tomb along with several of Metcalfe's Follies and Dilkusha (Quli Khan Ka Maqbara).

Tomb of Quli Khan or Metcalfe's Dilkusha
Tomb of Quli Khan inside Mehrauli Archaeological Park was converted later by Thomas Metcalfe as Dilkusa (Heart's Delight)

Author Bio: A post graduate in marketing from University of Mumbai, India, seeks out travel inspiration with friends and often through solo wandering, exploring heritage and culture, meeting new people, tasting local cuisine and choosing homestays over hotels . His travel stories and articles have appeared in several travel magazines, online travel guides and travel blogs among others.
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Luxury Train Travel India 2012-13 Season Update


While summer season is knocking at the door in India and it’s also the lean season for the Indian Luxury trains. Just to update the tourists who are planning a luxury train trip, I have come up with this brief post on the status and operating season of the luxury trains in India.

Almost all luxury trains complete their season by the end of the March except for the Palace on Wheels which continue to run in April too along with Maharajas’ Express and the Indian Maharaja with their select departures this month. Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, Golden Chariot and Deccan Odyssey have completed their season in March 2013.

Mentioned below are the details of the departures of luxury trains which will run in April too.

Maharajas Express – The Leading luxury train in the World, Maharajas’ Express gives you an option to choose from 5 per-packaged rail journeys. Each of these itineraries offers a unique vista of India’s culture, and heritage and travel to some of the most vibrant tourist destinations. While two 7nights / 8 days journeys - Heritage of India and The Indian Splendor won’t be up for grabs in April, you could opt to live a maharaja life on board most luxurious train in India by choosing from remaining 3 journeys named Treasures of India, Gems of India and the Indian Panorama. The Maharaja Express journey is starts from USD 3580.

More information is available here: www.maharajas-express-india.com

Palace on Wheels is the first luxury trains in India. Operating since 1982, it offers a weeklong journey to the land of maharajas – Rajasthan along with halts in Agra and Ranathabore National Park. The Palace on Wheels will end its 2012 -2013 seasonal run in April. This train journey is the most popular among the foreign tourists looking for all-inclusive and hassle free and safe way to travel, explore and discover myriad hues of Rajasthan. Red carpet welcome and gracious hospitality make this journey fit for kings. For more information on remaining dates & rates and detailed itinerary you can visit - www.palacesonwheels.com

Indian Maharaja - Winner of the Asia’s Leading Luxury train in the World Travel Award for three consecutive years (2010, 11 and 12), the Indian Maharaja offers 2 weeklong journeys - Mumbai to Delhi and Delhi to Mumbai. The Indian Maharaja is going to end its 2012-13 season in April 2013. For more information about schedule and price visit – www.the-indian-maharaja.com

Author Bio:
Sandeep Manral
A seeker, learner and explorer, loves to travel which could be attributed to the fact that he was born and brought up in Uttarakhand located in Great Himalaya, a digital marketing professional by profession, Sandeep also loves to write on diverse travel topics along with regular features on SEO and Digital Marketing tips and tricks.

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Exploring Gujarat’s Wild Side with Gujarat Wildlife Tours

Gujarat has been doing really well of late. The past decade or so has seen the  westernmost Indian state find favor among one and all – either from a commercial, non-commercial or political perspective. But that’s not my point, actually. Far from it, rather this post is about exploring Gujarat from a wildlife perspective.

Gujarat Wildlife Tours
An exciting place for wildlife enthusiasts of Gujarat
Tourism in Gujarat was never much to write home about. Gujarat always had the resources to market tourism as a viable revenue stream.

But amidst, promoting it as the haven for investors and industrialists, the “touristy” Gujarat was somewhere lost. Sure, people visited the Gir jungles every now and then, but that was pretty much it. Thankfully, that has changed. Initiatives like Gujarat Travel Mart will do a world of good for promotion of tourism in the richest Indian state.

Your options for Wildlife Tours to Gujarat.

Gujarat is home to some of world's rarest Fauna & Flora. While the Fauna includes Wild Asses, Blackbucks, Asiatic Lions, Bears, Nilgai, Monkeys, Chinkara, Paradise Flycatcher, Whale Shark, Dolphins.

Gujarat wilds welcome a fair share of migratory Birds like Pelican, Flamingos and Storks. The state is blessed with diverse flora which includes species of Sadad, Khair, Babul, Timru, Khakro, Salai, Asundro, Ber and Bordi.

Gujarat has plenty of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries such as the Gir National Park, Gulf of Kutch, Marine National Park, Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Vansda National Park and Blackbuck National Park, Velavadar.

ILT’s Luxury Tour Section

The newly added luxury tours’ section at Indian Luxury Trains offers Gujarat wildlife tours at remarkable rates. The new section also has other luxury tours for all nooks and corners of India and will offer the perfect side-tour to compliment your luxury train journey in India.

And by the way, Gujarat tourism is alive and kicking!

[ Looking for adventure? Check-out Gujarat Tour Packages ]
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A List of Spookiest, Scariest and Most Haunted Places in India

Ever wondered, which are the most haunted places in India? Some people have a fascination towards paranormal things which drives them to set off on a quest of the supernatural.

There are several places in India, which have acquired the status of being haunted. Obviously, there are some reasons, rumors or stories of cursing or death behind these popularly held beliefs of haunting at these places in India.

But one boon these ghost stories have bestowed on these mysterious places in India is that they are now popular tourist places in India and well taken care of in some cases these haunted places in India are protected by ASI and are well maintained and restored to promote tourism.

If you are a fan of paranormal things, here is a list of spookiest, scariest and most haunted places in India.

Bhangarh village, Alwar, Rajasthan

Bhangarh Fort
Bhangarh Fort - Staying after sunset is strictly prohibited in this area
Without a grain of doubt, Bhangarh remains the most haunted place in India. The tales of why this place was cursed, destroyed and abandoned differs but not the fact that after the sunset this place becomes one hell of scary and creepiest places not just in India but the world.

According to one of the 2 narratives regarding Bhangarh being cursed, a black magician named Guru Balu had warned the maharaja Madho Singh that the fort that was being constructed should not rise to that extent where its shadow shall fall on the place where he practiced his magic.

In ignorance, Ajab Singh, son of King Madho Sing raised it to such height that the shadow fell on that forbidden place and thus Bhangarh was cursed and destroyed.

According to yet another legend, it is said that a tantric (practitioner of occult magic) named Singhia was enamored by the ravishing beauty of the princess Ratnavati. He was well aware that princess would not accept his advances so he cast a magical spell on the oil that was to be used by princess in order to seduce her. But the princes herself was adept in magic and foiled the advances of Singhia. Frustrated and enraged, he cursed the town and hence the doom fell on Bhangarh.

So creepy and haunted is this place that it is officially recognized by ASI as one of the haunted places in India. The sign board put up by the Asis at Bhangarh warns the visitors to not enter this haunted fort before the sunrise or after the sunset. Entrance to Bhangarh is legally prohibited after darkness envelops this ghost town.

Brij Raj Bhawan Palace in Kota, Rajasthan

Brij Raj Bhawan, Kota
Brijraj Bhawan Palace at Kota in Rajasthan
This heritage hotel in Rajasthan was formerly the official residence and palace of the Kota’s royal family. It is reportedly haunted by the ghost of Major Burton and his sons who were killed here during the Sepoy uprising of 1857. The ghost is often sighted after dark in the central hall of the hotel.

The ghost of Mr. Burton never harms or scares the visitors and guest of this palace turned hotel but does give a tight slap to any of the watchmen who are found sleeping during his duty hours. It is belived that the watchmen had not warned the Major in advance when the mutineers arrived at Brij Raj Bhavan and murdered him and his 2 sons.

Dumas Beach, Gujarat 

Dumas Beach, Gujarat
The Dumas beach - one of the most haunted places in India
Located 21 km from Surat, Dumas beach is known for its black soiled shore. Traditionally, the dead of the Hindu community living nearby Dumas were cremated here. The popular version goes that this place in Gujarat is haunted by the ghosts of the evill and unsatisfied souls of dead.

A beautiful beach during day, Dumas becomes the hunting ground of malevolent ghosts who warn visitors to return if they venture close to the shore. A widespread belief is that those who don’t heed these warnings and continue towards the shore vanish.

Dogs, who are considered better when it comes to sixth sense and detection of paranormal activity, are said to behave strangely when at Dumas Beach.

Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad 

Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad
Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad
The ghost story of the Ramoji Film City is that it has been built on the war grounds and is being haunted by the ghosts of the dead soldiers. Torn clothes,  knocks on the doors and creepy shadows have been reported in the hotels of the film city.

Dow Hill, Kurseong 

Dow Hill, Kurseong
Dow Hill forest that has left an eerie feeling in the atmosphere
A number of gruesome and mysterious murders in the Dow Hill forest are the reason behind this place being haunted by rancorous souls. It would not be wrong to compare Dow Hill with the Hollywood film ‘Sleepy Hollow’, the only difference is that instead of mysterious headless horseman, a headless boy has been spotted by locals numerous times.

A small township in West Bengal, Dow Hills is famous for some of the best boarding schools in the state but it is also home to accursed forests. One boarding school that falls within its perimeter - The Dow Hill Boarding School for Girls - is at the hub of spooky and scary activities by all accounts.

It’s not just that the surrounding forest is haunted but the ghosts roam free in the corridors as the building has been encroached into their territory. Several headless kids are reportedly spotted in the jungle and visitors are cautioned against venturing on their own in the dense forests of Dow Hills.

The locals who visit the forest have reported seeing a headless ghost who suddenly appears and then disappears into the forests. The forests of Dow Hills have reportedly witnessed countless murders which took place in this forest area.

D’Souza Chawl, Mumbai 

D’Souza Chawl, Mumbai
A well in the D`souza Chawl area of Mumbai
Owing to D’Souza Chawl, Mahim has acquired the status of being haunted. It is said that a women, fell into the water, while pulling water, fell to her death in the well. Most people have witnessed the apparition of a ghostly woman near the well.

As the story goes, the elderly women fell into the well as it was without boundaries.  She screamed for help but it wasn’t heard and she drowned. Locals often report the ghost sighting of the old lady during night.

Thankfully the ghost of the lady is not vengeful and people of D’Souza Chawl have never encountered any untoward incident. Ghost hunters frequent the well at the Chawl during night to catch a glimpse of the ghost of old lady.

Delhi Cantt 

Delhi Cantonment Rail station
Delhi Cantonment Rail station,Delhi
Delhi has several locations which are believed to be haunted. Also referred to as “the City of Djinns”, Delhi with its medieval structures and densely forested Ridge has its many a places that have their resident djinns and ghosts.

The most common ghost sightings around India include approached by or seeing a lady clad in white sari sometimes referred to as chudails so much so that there’s a popular adage that goes “bargad ki chudail” (witch that resides in banyan tree ). Delhi Cantonment referred to as Delhi Cant. with its dense forest is one such haunted places in Delhi.

It is reported that a lady in white sari approaches the passing vehicles late in the night and asks for hitch from the riders. Now if the riders don’t offer lift and speed away their vehicle are chased by the ghost lady who runs at a speed similar to your car.

Shaniwar Wada, Pune

Shaniwarwada Fort
Full Moon nights are very much haunted in Shaniwarwada Fort, Pune
The full moon nights at Shaniwar Wada  are believed to be very haunted. As per the story, this fort is haunted by the ghost of a 13 year old prince who was brutally assassinated by one of his relative.

GP Block, Meerut 

GP block, Meerut
GP block of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh
Notorious for spooky incidents that take place, GP Block in Meerut is one of the most haunted places in India. Despite being frequented by visitors, several stories of strange sightings do the round. After dark, the GP Block dons a creepy aura and visitors seldom go there alone.

The rumors of ghost sightings include mention of four males sitting by the light of a lone candle and drinking alcoholic beverages. Yet another story that does the round is of a young girl in red dress coming out of a house.

Vrindavan Society, Thane

Vrindavan Society,Thane
A man had committed suicide in one of the buildings in Vrindavan Society,Thane
Known for its luxurious apartments, the Vrindavan Society in Thane, Maharashtra doesn’t appear haunted by its outward appearance in any sense. However strange and inexplicable incidences have took place here after the darkness shrouds this society during nights.

The ghost that haunts this society in Mumbai is reportedly that of a man who lived in the society and committed suicide. On several occasions watchmen on night duty have reported being slapped and the search for the culprit never leads to any person.

Other stories that do the round is the society residents sensing a presence when coming late to their home. Despite being haunted, Vrindavan Society is a reputed and affluent society in Thane district of Mumbai, Maharashtra.

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Holi: Festivals in India

One of the most popular festivals in India is Holi, which is celebrated with great joy and fervor throughout the country. It is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna (Feb-March), which this year is on 27th March.

Although this festival of colors is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm, everywhere, but the celebrations in Mathura and Vrindavan are unmatched for. The Holi celebration in these towns of Uttar Pradesh is popular all over the country.


Amazing yet Fun Festival in India
Bright Colors and be a part of this Amazing yet Fun Festival in India
According to the legends, Holi in Mathura and Vrindavan is celebrated as a commemoration of the pure and divine love between Radha and Lord Krishna.

The locals believe that the Lord was jealous of the fair complexion of Radha as he himself had a dark complexion. He used to smear her face with colors to annoy her. She, acting as if very angry, used to run after him. Today also the tradition of applying colors on the faces of the loved ones continues.


Holi Festival,Mathura Vrindavan
Holi Festival in Mathura Vrindavan
As per mythological tales, Mathura is the birth place of Lord Krishna and Vrindavan is that place where he had spent his childhood as well as most of the time of his teenage.

Every nook and corner of these two places tells various tales of his mischief and magic. People still feel the divine presence of the Lord, all around the place. Thus, Holi, the festival of colors is celebrated with immense zeal. 

Holi Celebration in India
Holi Celebration in India
Both these places are visited by thousands of Lord Krishna’s followers who want to celebrate this festival along with their lord and are looking for peace.

The festivities in both these places start around 7 days before the main day. On each day, there is a different kind of a celebration where Holi is played with flowers, water, and on the final day with colors. 

Gulal (Color Powder)
Make Gulal (Color Powder) out of Natural Things like Flowers and Vegetables referred to as Herbal Colors
A major attraction during this week-long celebration is the ‘lath-mar’ Holi where women teasingly hit the men with sticks. The main aim behind the celebration of Holi is to keep alive love, peace and devotion, not only amongst the human beings but also with the Lord. This festival is a way to wash away all kinds of hatred and differences that are prevalent in the society today.

Holi Festivals in India
Colourful powders mixed with mild levels of aggression and attack?
During the week-long celebration of Holi in Mathura and Vrindavan, there are festivities in each and every temple of these two places. But the major attraction is the Banke-Bihari temple in Vrindavan where thousands of Krishna devotees gather every year. Another popular venue is  Gulal-Kund in Braj.
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A Trip to Bangalore aboard Golden Chariot Train

Golden Chariot‘A voyage to the many world’s of Karnataka’; this is the best one liner to describe the Pride of the South journey offered by the Golden Chariot train in a nutshell. Launched with the joint initiative of Karnataka State Tourism and Development Corporation (KSTDC) and the Indian Railways, Golden Chariot embarked on its maiden voyage on 10th March, 2008. The train has been listed as the ‘Seven Best Luxury Rail Journeys in the World’ by Vanity Fair Magazine for its  flawless services and state of the art facilities. 

In a nutshell, Pride of the South emphasize upon the uncovering the cultural heritage of Karnataka rooted in the crumbled ruins, medieval temples and spectacular palaces. The journey also includes a dash of wildlife and colonial lifestyle in Goa. Except for Bangalore, the point of commencement for the Pride of the South journey, no other destination covered on board displays the urbanization and modernization of international standards. Let’s take a look at the events took place on the first day of the Pride of the South journey. Read on….

1 - A high tea experience at the Taj West End hotel for the guests who’ve opted for the Pride of the South journey.

2 - A short trip to Chitrakala Parishath followed by a cultural program. A cultural organization and institution located in Bangalore, Chitrakala Parishath aims at promoting art and culture through its art exhibitions conducted at the state and national levels.

3 - Alternatively, you have a choice to visit the Our Native Village for an eco-vacation. It is a 100% eco-friendly resort where you can savor a sumptuous lunch and explore the in-house organic farms and be a spectator to the specially organized cultural extravaganza. Here you can take a slice of the rural lifestyle.

4 - By 2000 hours, you will  be required to report at the Yeshwanthpur Railway Station to board the train.

5 - After a traditional welcome, you’ll be ushered to your respective cabins and the train will start rolling towards Kabini.

I agree that the first day excursion is quite short, restricted to few hours but still enables a sneak peek into the rural lifestyle prevailing in the modern hub of Bangalore along with a dash of art and culture.
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Top 5 Hill stations in India

The Himalayas has some of the highest peaks in the world. On the foothills of these show-clad mountains, there are a number of hills towns in India. They boast of being some of the most amazing hill stations, filled with natural scenic beauty. The hill stations in India are perfect for all kinds of vacations, be it in the summers, in winters or for a honeymoon. Here are top 5 hill stations in India visited by a large number of tourists from all over the world:  


Manali Hill Stations
Manali, located in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh, is not only a breathtakingly beautiful town but is also famous for a range of adventure activities. There are numerous tourist attractions in and around Manali such as Kullu, Rohtang Pass (situated at 13000 ft), Solang Valley, Hidimba temple, the Naggar Fort, Manikaran etc. You can indulge in a number of activities like river rafting, para-sailing, zorbing, zip-lining and so on.


 Shimla Hill Stations
The Summer Capital of the British, Shimla, in the present times is the state capital of Himachal Pradesh. It is one of the most thronged hill stations of the country. This beautiful hill town has colonial style buildings, oak and pine forests, floral valleys and mountain ridges. You can shop at the famous Mall road. There are innumerable tourist spots here which include Observatory hill, the old Christ Church, Scandal Point, Vicergal Lodge etc. Try short distance hiking here.


Darjeeling Hill Stations
Darjeeling, situated in West Bengal, does not only has lush tea gardens but is a hill town with a lot of natural beauty. A major attraction of this place is that from a particular place, travelers can have a clear view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world. You can visit the extremely popular tea gardens and tea factories. There are other attractions too like Zoo, botanical gardens and various monasteries sprinkled, all around. Take a ride in the toy train or travel in the Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway cable car. It is the longest cable car in Asia. Take a stroll in the markets or the countryside.


Srinagar Hill Stations in India
Srinagar is another beautiful hill town, which is also the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. You can have a delightful vacation in the luxurious houseboats, floating on the lakes of the region. Srinagar has plenty of lakes and gardens and thus many times is referred to as the ‘Land of Lakes and Gardens’. The largest tulip garden of Asia is here only that plays host to the annual tulip festival. It also has some of the best trekking tracks as well.  Most of the gardens have a distinct Mughal influence.


Munnar Hill stations
Munnar, a hill town of Kerala, is located in the Western Ghats. The place is well-known for its amazing climate and its sprawling tea estates. This lush green hill station in the southern part of India has the highest mountain of the South: Anaimudi. Fondly known as ‘Little London’, it is a perfect venue for trekking enthusiasts and nature lovers. You can try your hand at other adventure activities too like para-gliding as well as rock climbing.
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