The Mythical Stories Behind the Hampi Ruins

Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous worldwide for its ruins. In the medieval times, Hampi was the capital of Vijayanagar kingdom but the history of its existence predates the Vijayanagar Empire. There are many things about this forgotten city which attract tourists to this place. Once here, you would find that there are structures of civilian, military and religious importance. Also striking is the boulder-ridden topography of the region which archaeologists believe to be one of the oldest exposed surfaces of earth. It looks almost unbelievable when one sees these heavy boulders lain one over the other with full stability. Quite a few mythological tales are also associated with Hampi which give it its religious character. This article is to bring to light these mythical tales about Hampi.

The Lord Shiva Connection

Hampi is said to bear the name of Pampakshretra which is derived from Pampa, a devotee of Lord Shiva who married him afterwards. After the marriage, there was a shower of gold from sky which is now in the form of a hill called Hemkunta Hill. Virupaksha temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and its literal meaning is ‘one with oblique eye’.  There is also the Pampa sarovar where Pampa did penance before marrying Lord Shiva.

The Ramayana Connection

This place is also associated with the mythical Ramayana as the Kingdom of Monkeys, Kishkindha, is believed to be the region around Hampi. Anjayaneya Hill is believed to be the birth place of Lord Hanuman. When Ravana was taking Sita along, Sita dropped her jewels her. Also, Ram and Laxman are believed to have taken shelter at nearby Malyavanta Hill when it began to rain while laying the stone bridge to Lanka. That the place might have been a part of Ramayana myth is also testified by the fact that the ruins have more icons of Hanuman than of any other deity. The Rishimukh hill is the place where Hanuman had met Ram and Laxman.

The Mahabharata Connection

The place is also related to the mythology of Mahabharata. It is the place where Bhima meets Lord Hanuman while on way to bring the magnificent Saugandhika flower from Gandhamadana Hill for Draupadi. Hanuman asks Bhima to lift his tail from his way and keep it aside. But, Bhima is not able to do it despite best efforts.

Bheema Killing Keechka

Bheema Killing Keechka

Another episode of Mahabharata which is depicted on the rock relics of this place is that of Bhima killing Keechaka, the brother-in-law of ruler of Virata, during the period of their secret exile.

Hampi Boulders

Hampi Boulders

There is also a mythical story associated with boulders. These are said to have been lain so during the course of intense fight between Sugriva and Bali in which these were thrown at one another. Another reason for the presence of these boulders is that these were compiled here for the purpose of laying the Lanka water bridge.

These are some of the interesting tales which you would often get to hear during the Karnataka tour to this religiously important place.

Things That You would Come to Know on a Taj Mahal Agra Tour

Taj MahalWho does not know about Taj Mahal, that eternal monument made in white which signifies love. People coming to Delhi or to nearby cities go for the Agra day tour to see this monument. One can get ready early in the morning to visit this monument which is about 200 kms away from Delhi (roughly 2.5 hours drive). This can be done by using a taxi or a bus (group tours are conducted daily). Mind you there are no scheduled flights from Delhi to this city. Most of the time, the Taj Mahal Agra tour is conducted along with a visit to Fatehpur Sikri and Red Fort.

This article is to make you aware of the some of the unknown facts about this beautiful medieval monument. First is that the four minarets on the four corners of this monument are tilted at a slight angle outwards. This is because, in the event of an earthquake, these would fall away from the tombs.

Second interesting claim is that there was a plan to built another Taj, a replica of this one, in black marble, across the river. This plan is claimed by a European traveler who traveled Agra at that time, Jean Baptiste Tavernier. This presence of ruins of black marble base at the Mehtab Bagh is said to testify this claim. However, this claim is discounted by the modern archaeologists who do not think it to be true.

Third interesting fact about the Taj is that this has been built on a wooden base. Finest quality of Ebony wood was used in its foundation. Due to its being close to the bed of River Yamuna, the woods were provided with regular supply of water which strengthened its base and prevented this monument from collapsing for all these centuries.

Fourth interesting aspect is that the architecture of Taj has inspired construction of replicas worldwide. There is a Taj Mahal Bangladesh, Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad, Tripoli Shrine Temple inWisconsin, US and Trump Taj Mahal in New Jersey, US.

Fifth, more than 2 million people visit this monument every year bringing in a good amount of tourist revenue to the government. It is definitely the most important part of the Golden Triangle tour packages being offered by the tourism companies.

Sixth, 28 types of precious and semi-precious stones were used in the white marble as a part of carvings. These were brought from different parts of Middle East and Indian subcontinent. Besides these stones, expert sculptors, calligraphers, stonecutters and other craftsmen were marshaled from different regions of Asia, extending as far as Syria in West to Bukhara in North.

Seventh, the actual tomb of Mumtaz Mahal has 99 names of God written on its sides.

The Local Markets of Jodhpur

The first thing that comes to the mind of vacationers while planning a holiday to Rajasthan is the vast sand dunes of the region along with exciting camel safaris. This land of Rajputanas has much more than these aforementioned highlights. Rajasthan is located in the western area of India and is among the largest states of the nation in terms of area. It is bordered by regions of Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, and also shares its boundary with Pakistan. The region is situated along the vast stretch of Aravalli Hill Range and mostly includes the arid areas of Thar Desert. In ancient times, the area was under the dominion of local Rajputs, Mughals and finally the British. Each of these empires had an impact on the culture and traditions of the region that can still be witnessed in its various art forms. These forms are a part of the locally made textiles, artefacts and handicrafts, which are sold in several markets of the state. Tourists can purchase the same during Rajasthan tour India and take them back as souvenirs.

Sardar Market

Sardar Market, Jodhpur

Sardar Market, Jodhpur

The bustling Sardar Market is located in the Jodhpur city of the state and lies close to the Clock Tower – built by Maharaja Sardar Singh. This shopping street is named after the Maharaja and was established several years ago.

Maharaja Sardar Singh

Maharaja Sardar Singh

This place is a vibrant and lively bazaar that caters to all the needs of locals and travellers coming from various parts of the world. Its narrow streets are lined with several big and small shops that offer a wide range of handicrafts, traditional jewellery, local attires, Rajasthani slippers, authentic Indian spices and fresh fruits and vegetables.

This shopping street stretches from the Sojati Gate and reaches till the Clock Tower. It is among the most sought-after destinations for shopaholics in the state. It is frequented by travelers from all over the globe, who come to explore the ancient and contemporary traditions of the region. People can also discover the ancient art form of Bandhini – a resist-dyeing technique that is still practised in the market. There are numerous spice shops on this street and nearby locations that are world famous for their products, such as herbal teas and condiments. Frequent travelers recommend that a visit to these shops provide an insight into the rich culture of the state.

Visitors on Jodhpur holidays can explore a variety of such places in the entire city. The Mochi Bazaar is famous for lac works, such as lac bangles and other ornaments. The station road market is renowned for its leather work and people come here to purchase exquisitely designed embroidered shoes. These streets are also ideal places for avid photographers as they can capture the colorful atmosphere of the place on their lenses. It is advisable that travelers should visit these markets during the auspicious festivities celebrated here as these shopping streets are beautifully decorated. Most of these shopping areas are in proximity to the railway stations and bus stops, and people coming from flights can also opt for local means of transportation to reach these locations.

 

The Splendour of Flower Show at Lal Bagh Botanical Garden

The state of Karnataka lies in the south-west region of India and is among the largest states of the country in terms of land area. This place is surrounded by Arabian and Lakshadweep Sea at west, Andhra Pradesh at east, Maharashtra at north and Tamilnadu at south-west. The region has been under the dominance of some of the most influential kingdoms of the nation, such as Hoysala, Vijayanagra and Chalukya empires. Recent past saw parts of Karnataka being ruled by Nizams of Hyderabad and then the British. Each of these kingdoms left an influence in the architecture, cuisine, culture and tradition of the state and the same can still be witnessed in the area. Tourists on Karnataka holidays can get a deep insight about the rich legacy of the state by visiting few historically significant sites of the region. These attractions are spread across the state and receive a substantial amount of travelers each year.

Botanical Garden

Lal Bagh Botanical Garden

Lal Bagh Botanical Garden

Lal Bagh Botanical Garden is a prominent tourist attraction in the southern region of Bangalore. The place is famous for housing numerous floral species that are endemic as well as exotic. Initially, it was developed as a 40-acre private garden by the king of old Mysore, Hyder Ali in 1760, and later expansion was carried out by his son – Tipu Sultan and Britishers during their rule. This location was entitled the Government Botanical Garden during mid- 18th century, and since then it has been among the most significant horticulture centres of India.

The place comprises well-laid pathways, open spaces and a glass house that is considered the jewel of the garden. This structure was constructed in 1889 to commemorate Prince of Wales, during his visit to the region.

Inside of Lal Bagh Botanical Garden

Inside of Lal Bagh Botanical Garden

The layout of this complex is derived from the Crystal Palace, which is located in England. It was built with an intention to acclimatise several exotic plant species that were assembled from various parts of the world. At present, this glass complex is the venue of bi-annual flower show, which is held on the Republic Day and Independence Day.

Image of Flower Show, 2013

Image of Flower Show, 2013

There are a few places of interest inside Lal Bagh that can be explored by tourists. Some of these are the statue of Sri Chamaraja Wodeyar, deer paddock, pigeon house, aviary, aquarium building and Kempegowda Tower. This garden is under the supervision of Directorate of Horticulture, Karnataka Government. It regularly conducts several educational seminars and conferences, where discussions over the economical, ornamental and environmental values of plants are held. This location remains open throughout the year and its entry timings are from 6 am to 7 pm.

The garden along with all its significant buildings can be accessed through four gates, and this destination can be easily reached from any part of the city. Holidaymakers on Bangalore vacation can opt for local means of transportation to reach the spot, after de-boarding their respective flights or trains. It is advisable to plan for a sojourn to this location during the flower show, when the entire garden is infused with the sweet fragrance of various kinds of flowers.

Relics of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Chattrapati Shivaji

Chattrapati Shivaji

Maharashtra is the state where once some of the most crucial combats in Indian history were fought. Origin of the land dates back to the 3rd century BC, but the most significant chapters that defined the legacy of this state, occurred during the 16th to 18th centuries. The phase of socio-political uplifting of this land came under the rule of Shivaji Bhosale (Chattrapati Shivaji) – the great  warrior. He established the Maratha kingdom at this place during the 16th century and helped in promoting ancient Hindu traditions in different parts of the state. After the demise of the legend, his empire was carried further by Peshwas and other rulers of the region, who took part in several revolutions against British empire during the 17th and 18th centuries. After the third Anglo-Maratha war, the Maratha empire was disintegrated and British East India company rose to power in almost all regions of the nation. The kingdom was lost, but the state still pays homage to their gallant combatant, Shivaji, along with his entire realm. Several structures have been created in recent times that pay tribute to the bravery of these warriors. Tourists on Maharashtra holidays can explore these sites, which are located in several cities of the region.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (website: http://csmvs.in/)is among the chief museums of the country that exhibit a large assortment of ancient antiquities and conventional art forms from all over the world. It is located at Mahatma Gandhi Road of Fort district in the city of Mumbai. The building was formerly known as Prince of Wales Museum for it was erected in the early 19th century to respect the prince during his visit to the area. It was later renamed to commemorate the heroic legend of Maharashtra. This complex has been accorded the prestigious 2010 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award for preserving cultural heritage.

The relics inside are categorised into three sections – Natural History, Arts and Archaeology. Artefacts from Indus Valley Civilisation to the dynasties of Mauryas, Chalukyas, Guptas and Rashtrakutas are on display. Visitors can see an assemblage of paintings, murals, ornaments, statues, utensils, coins and weaponry belonging to the erstwhile period. Several foreign dignitaries have also gifted souvenirs of their countries to this museum. In recent times, a few rooms have been established inside the complex to host seminars and conferences, which attract researchers from all over the globe. Institutional trips are also held on a regular basis to create awareness among scholars about the rich heritage of the state and country.

Opening Timings

The museum remains open on all days and timings of visit vary as on Mondays, it is open from 10:15 am – 05:30 pm and from Tuesdays to Sundays, timings are 10:15 am – 06:00 pm.

A trip to this place provides a deep insight about the age-old traditions and culture of the world. After exploring the place, tourists can also visit the shop inside the complex that houses various arts and crafts along with products of home decor and a good selection of miscellaneous books. Travelers on Mumbai vacation will find this place worth visiting as the exclusive artefacts displayed inside are quite rare.

The White Sands of Palolem Beach

Holidaying is the best way for people to change a paradigm of their daily routine and enjoy numerous delightful moments with family and friends. India is blessed with several mesmerising sites that rejuvenate the mind and heart of such people. One such prominent attraction of this country is its beaches located along the western and eastern coastline. A large number of travellers from within the nation and abroad prefer to explore the serenity of these shores. Among these tourists, a sizeable category is of the newly-weds, who come to rejoice the beginning of their marital life. There are a number of serene shores in different regions of the nation and one such location that is world famous for its beaches is Goa. The state is one of the prominent destinations in the mind of honeymooners, who come to witness the beauty of this region. Many honeymoon packages offer great deals for these newly-weds and cater to all their travelling needs.

Palolem Beach

Palolem Beach

Palolem Beach

Located in the western region of the state of Goa, Palolem Beach is considered to be one of the ideal getaways for couples. It lies near the Chaudi town and is neighboured by the shores of Agonda and Cola. Initially, this coast was unknown to many but gradually it became part of the trail of hippies who assembled here from all around the globe. Gradually, it gained prominence and started witnessing a large surge of tourists during the holiday season. At present, this destination is hugely famous among visitors and its popularity is to such an extent that this shore has been featured in the Hollywood blockbuster flick – The Bourne Supremacy (2004). (check the video of the trailer featuring the beach here- http://youtu.be/fOLviFy9inA)

This coast is in shape of a crescent and is dotted with groves of tall coconut and palm trees. Its both ends comprise rocks, which are somewhat protruding and merging into the sea. An exclusive highlight of this place is its sand, which is considered to have a white colour. A unique stone sculpture, designed by American artisan Jacek Tylicki, lies in the nearby region.

Money stone, Palolem beach

Money stone, Palolem beach

It is also acknowledged by the name of Money Stone, where travelers put money as a token of gratitude. Several shacks are built in this area, which can be rented for accommodation and a handful of dining houses are also present, which serve mouth-watering local cuisine.

Nightlife on this shore is considered to be among the best by frequent travellers. People can be seen revelling in the joyous atmosphere that gets created by loud music and cool breeze blowing in the area. Travellers can also participate in adventurous activities, which include canyoning, scuba diving and hiking during day time at this place. During sunrise and sunset, tourists can take boat rides into the sea and if lucky, can witness dolphins.

The area of Palolem is well-connected to the major towns of the state, and travellers can choose different modes of transportation to reach here. The nearest airport is around 70 km from this location and railway station lies at an approximate distance of 45 km. To make the best of beach holidays, it is advised to vacationers and honeymooners to rent a two-wheeler or a cycle and begin sightseeing of the area.

Victorian Architectural Marvels of Ooty-Stone House and St Stephen Church

Ooty is a beautiful hill resort and the capital of the Nilgiris district in the state of Tamil Nadu. This serene place offers several landscaped vistas and picturesque views of the blue mountains of Nilgiri. History of this place is much intriguing as it once used to be the summer capital of the Madras Province – administrative sub-headquarters of the British India in colonial days. Several Britishers resided in the area in those days and were also responsible for constructing some magnificent edifices over here. Post-independence, they left the hill station, but left behind the glimpse of Victorian era that attracts a lot of tourists to this place. Travelers from all over the world come on Ooty tour to explore the splendours of this region.  

St Stephen Church

St Stephen Church, Ooty

St Stephen Church, Ooty

This cathedral is considered to be one of the oldest in the town. It is situated on the pathway to Mysore and its origin dates back to the 19th century when Stephen Rumbold Lushington, the then Governor of Madras, decided to make a church for his fellow people. Foundation of the building was laid on 23rd April, 1829 by him while John James Underwood was designated as the in-charge of its architecture. This cathedral was consecrated on 5th November, 1830 by the Bishop of Calcutta, John Matthias Turner. The auspicious day of Easter Sunday on 3rd April, 1831 was chosen to make the building open for public.

The church is constructed using timber and is considered an architecture marvel of the region. Legends suggest that the wood used in the building arrived from the mansion of Tipu Sultan, who was the ruler of Mysore Kingdom in the 18th century. Structure of this building flaunts impeccable design on the outside and has an impressive interior. Murals of Jesus along with his disciples and painting of the Last Supper adorn the walls and mirrors inside. Other sketches depict Mother Mary holding infant Jesus and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This quaint cathedral is regularly visited by locals and specially on festivities when it is decorated with flowers and incandescents.

Stone House

Stone House, Ooty

Stone House, Ooty

Another architectural landmark of the Victorian epoch in this hill station is Stone House, which is supposed to be the first mansion built here. The building is also called Kal Bangala and its construction was initiated in 1822 by John Sullivan. At present, Stone House serves as the residence of the Principal of Government College in Ooty. The area on which this complex stands is surrounded by lush greenery along with a grove of pine trees. A prominent attraction of this structure is an oak tree, known as Sullivan Oak, which was planted over 150 years ago.

A number of such finely-laid buildings along with other breathtaking sites can be witnessed at this hill resort, which makes it among the most sought-after destinations of holidays packages in India. This place is serene and offers numerous exciting activities for tourists to indulge in, including trekking on the hills, strolling in the local markets and relishing mouth-watering cuisine of the area. Photo enthusiasts can capture the panoramic view of this hill resort from several spots, which are ideal to behold the beauty of this destination.