Architectural Marvel That Is Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus at Mumbai

Mumbai is an ideal destination for spending a holiday in Maharashtra. It is the capital city of the state and there are a number of popular tourist attractions here. CST or Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which was previously named Victoria Terminus, is the railway station of this place and headquarters of Indian Central Railways. It is a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO and a prominent place of historical interest. The structure, located in the Bori Bunder locality of the city, was constructed in the year 1887 for the commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The name of the station was changed to the present one in the month of March in the year 1996. People from different parts of the world come to this city to behold and discover the quaint beauty of this ancient railway station. It serves as a terminal for trains of Mumbai Suburban Railway, both for commuters as well as long-distance travellers. There are 18 platforms in the station, 11 for long routes and 7 for local ones.

 

Exquisite Architecture of CST

 

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

The edifice features an exquisite blend of Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival design and Mughal architecture, and it was designed by famous architect Frederick William Stevens.

Frederick William Stevens

Frederick William Stevens

The eccentric ground plan, pointed arches, turrets and skyline in the structure hint towards the influence of traditional Indian architectural design. Students of the famous art school – Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art designed the intricate wooden carvings, brass and ornamental railings, tiles, grills, and balustrades for the staircase. The construction of CST was done by applying high level of civil as well as railway engineering. It is a unique and possibly the finest implementation of Gothic Revival Style and the technology of the industrial revolution. One of the main architectural highlights of this building is the central dome, which features a platform over 320 feet long. This platform is connected to a train shed, which is more than 1200 feet long. The dome of the station has dovetailed ribs and has been built without centering.

 

The interiors feature a series of large halls, which have high ceilings. The building has a C-shaped symmetrical plan and features a utilitarian design. The focal point of the building is the high central dome, which has an octagonal shape and ribbed structure. This dome has a colossal female sculpture holding a spoke wheel in her left hand and a torch in her right hand pointing it upwards.

Female sculpture atop CST

Female sculpture atop CST

This sculpture symbolizes progress and is one of the most popular architectural highlights of the CST. Wings on the side are anchored by turrets and enclose the courtyard opening to the street. The building has a façade, which appears like rows of arches and windows aligned in proportion. The statuary, friezes and bas-relief ornaments render exuberance in the appearance of the structure. The entrance gates have columns, which are crowned by symbolic structures, such as a sculpture of lion represents Great Britain and that of a tiger represents India. The main building as been constructed using a blend of Indian limestone and sandstone, while rich in quality Italian marble has been used for decorative elements. Maharashtra holidays are incomplete without a visit to this mesmeric historical site.

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Sacred Tourist Destinations of Mount Abu

Positioned amidst the majestic Aravalli Range at an approximate elevation of over 4000 feet, Mount Abu is a prominent hill station located in the district of Sirohi in Rajasthan. The hill station is nestled on a unique rocky plateau, which is more than 20 kilometres in length and approximately nine kilometres in width. At an elevation of over 5650 feet above sea level, Guru Shikhar is the highest peak here. Mount Abu is popularly known as the Oasis in the Desert as it houses pristine water bodies and verdant evergreen forests. Apart from its scenic panorama, this hill station is also known for its prominent religious edifices and is sometimes called the Abode of Gods. Devotees from different parts of India and beyond opt for a Mount Abu tour package and flock here in thousands to offer prayers and seek blessings at the revered shrines. Some of the most prominent religious establishments here include, Gaumukh, Adhar Devi (Arbuda Devi) and Achaleshwar Mahadev (Achalgarh) temples.

 

Gaumukh Temple

Gaumukh Temple

Gaumukh Temple

Gaumukh Temple, nestled on a hill-top, is an ancient religious property visited by hordes of devotees and tourists round the year. There are many folklores and mythological stories associated with this Hindu temple. According to the most popular belief, sage Vashistha lived here with his consort. He was blessed with a wish-fulfilling cow, which was invoked by churning the ocean. This cow is supposedly the fountain head of the sacred river Saraswati. Besides, stories also suggest that Hindu Lord Rama came here to attain knowledge and education. The property houses a sculpture of the Gaumukh, which means the head of a cow and a spectacular marble idol of Nandi – the bull vahana (ride) of Lord Shiva. This place is easily accessible by road and once the devotees reach the complex, they have to climb a fleet of over 750 stairs.

 

Adhar Devi (Arbuda Devi) Temple

Adhar Devi Temple

Adhar Devi Temple

Adhar Devi is another highly revered destination located inside a cave in Mount Abu. Positioned around three kilometres away from main hill station, this shrine is accessible after climbing a fleet of about 365 stairs, which are carved into the hill. This religious property is dedicated to Hindu Goddess Durga and is thronged by devotees throughout the year, especially during the nine days of the holy Navratras. Legends have it that the Adhar of Maa Durga fell at this place and that the idol of the Goddess was found hanging in the air. Tourists visit this sacred destination for its quaint beauty and the panoramic surroundings.

 

Achaleshwar Mahadev (Achalgarh) Temple

 

Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple

Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple

Another significant destination of religious importance in this exquisite hilly resort is the Achaleshwar Mahadev (Achalgarh) Temple, which is believed to be more than 2500 years old. This shrine is the only holy place where the revered Toe of Hindu deity Shiva is worshipped. According to mythological stories and legends, the Toe of Shiva is believed to be rooted to the centre of the earth. One of the prime highlights of this place, is the unique sculpture of Nandi, which is made up of an extraordinary alloy of five metals known as the Panchadhatu in Hindi. Dripping with scenic natural beauty and legendary shrines, Mount Abu encourages people from every nook and corner of the world to opt for Rajasthan tour India.

Historical Forts of Jaipur

The capital city of Indian state of Rajasthan, Jaipur is a popular tourist attraction in India. This destination has been ranked as the 7th best place in Asia by the Conde Nast Traveller Readers Choice Survey. Spending vacations in Jaipurrender opportunities to explore vibrant colours and rich legacy of the incredible country. Established by the ruler of Amber – Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, in the year 1727, this place is home to various historical edifices, including palaces and monuments. Jaipur is one of the most frequented destinations in the country and is included in the Golden Triangle circuit along with the capital of the nation, New Delhi and city of Agra.

Jaipur is home to a number of historical attractions, which feature breathtaking architectural beauty and are worth visiting. These exemplary forts are ancient and speak a lot about the rich history of India. One of the most popular holiday packages for this city is the one that includes the three most prominent attractions of the Pink City – Nahargarh Fort, Amer Palace and Jaigarh Fort.

Nahargarh Fort

Nahargarh Fort

Nahargarh Fort

Situated on the edge of the rolling hills of Aravalli range, the Nahargarh Fort offers a breath-taking view of the city. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II – the founder of Jaipur constructed this magnificent structure in the year 1734. This place served as a summer retreat to the kings and emperors. The palace was originally named as Sudarshangarh and was later renamed. There are several stories about the reason behind renaming, one of which says that it was renamed after Nahar Singh Bhomia. It is believed that the spirit of this person haunted the area where the establishment was built and it also obstructed the process of construction. Dripping with folklores and historical legacies, this place is a must-visit site.

Amer Palace

Amer Palace

Amer Palace

Built by Raja Man Singh I, the Amer Palace lies atop a hill in the outskirts of Jaipur. The construction of the original edifice dates back to the early years of the 16th century. This structure features splendid architectural design rich with intricate carvings and is renowned for exquisite depictions of Hindu elements. This place has serene surroundings characterised by the view of the distant Maota Lake. The building is divided into four main sections, each offering captivating sights to the onlookers.

Jaigarh Fort

Jaigarh Fort

Jaigarh Fort

Positioned on the promontory of Cheel ka Teela or Hill of Eagles in the Aravalli hills, Jaigarh Fort was built by Jai Singh II in the year 1726. This structure, made up of red sandstone, was constructed in order to protect another palace – Amber. Popularly called as Victory, this historical edifice sprawls across an area of 3 kilometres and is approximately one kilometre wide. The building features Rajputana style of architecture and is surrounded by beautifully manicured verdant gardens. The complex of the palace features an armoury, a museum, Aram Mandir, Vilas Mandir, Lalit Mandir and Laxmi Vilas. The museum exhibits stamps, regal Jaipuri photographs and other artefacts. Jaivana Canon – largest wheeled cannon of the Early Modern Era in the world is also displayed here.

Trekking Trip to Nepal

Nepal

Nepal

Known for its hilly and mountainous topography – Nepal is a fascinating country in the continent of Asia. The magnificent Mount Everest, the loftiest mountain peak in the world, is the crowning glory of this country. The landscape of this region comprises mountains, ridges and verdant valleys that make the trekking experience at this destination thoroughly enjoyable and unforgettable. There are two major aspects to consider while deciding to do trekking in this country –  crowd and weather. As a general rule, more people come here to go trekking considering the weather conditions; however, during the months of October and November, the tourist influx is generally high. One thing that needs to taken care of beforehand is to make bookings prior to the journey, since, during on-season, flights and hotels are in all likelihood to be fully booked and trails in the hills are bound to be busy. The best bet is to look for suitable Nepal tour packages and book them at the earliest, to avoid any last-minute heckles.

Trekking Experiences

An activity that is a major part of Nepal holidays is trekking, wherein tourists walk the trails and explore the hills situated here, on foot. It has attracted backpackers and explorers for a time period spanning more than 100 years. During the climb up hill, trekkers get to see the spectacular landscape of this country. En route every trek, lies an opportunity to witness the diversity of this nation – quaint villages that are abode to various ethnic groups with different cultural values and lifestyles. Most of the treks pass through the altitudes between 1000 and 4000 metres, while some popular parts reach over 5000 metres.

The most popular hiking routes in the country have traditionally been the Mount Everest, Langtang and Annapurna regions. Other notable destinations that have managed to capture the imagination of adventure seekers are the Kanchenjunga in the extreme East and Dolpo in north-west Nepal. A number of other picturesque summits that have not gained popularity yet and some might not have even heard of them are – Kantega, Ama Dablam, Kumbhakarna and Machhapuchhare. As a trekker turns from peaks that are famed only for their height to gaze onto the less known ascents, they realise there is lot more to this nation than just the Himalayas.

Numerous heritage trails are conducted in different parts of the country by the government, where the climb up hill is combined with a sneak peek into the cultures of the local communities here. A trek at this destination can be of few days or months, depending on the time and the stamina a vacationer has. One such trek is The Great Himalayan Trail, which stretches 1700 km from Kanchenjunga range in the east to Humla in the west – a trek that can take months to accomplish, but the experience is bound to be beyond imagination.

An important thing required of all trekkers is to obtain the Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card before embarking on their trip in the wilderness of this region. To trek in the protected region here, travellers must get the permit by paying entry fees to step inside a particular national park or protected area. For accessing the areas that are restricted by the national government, tourists also need to acquire the trekking permit to the area.

Hyderabadi Biryani- The Cuisine of Nizams

Hyderabad, also called the City of Nizams, is a metropolis in the state of Andhra Pradesh. To think of Hyderabad and not recall about its food is least likely thing to happen. In the bygone era, this city served as the seat of various dynasties, which made it the centre of many innovative cooking techniques used by royal chefs or khansamas. All these techniques subsequently gave form to the modern Hyderabadi cuisine. It is an amalgamation of Mughlai, Turkish and Arabic flavours, which shows the influence of the princely legacy of the Nizams, who were the erstwhile rulers of this region. Hyderabadi cuisine is a combination of rice, wheat bread and meat dishes. Each delicacy is skilfully prepared using a variety of spices, herbs and natural edibles, which add a distinct taste and aroma to it. Coconut and tamarind are the key ingredients that are used extensively in most of the popular dishes. The delicious delicacies served here are a must-try for travelers on Hyderabad tours. They are bound for a delightful gastronomic experience, which will leave them feeling pleasantly replete.

Popular Delights

Hyderabadi cuisine comprises various delicacies; however, the most famous dish is Biryani. Popular by the name of Hyderabadi Biryani, it is an authentic meal that combines meat and rice. This delicacy is mainly categorised into Kachchi (raw) and Pakki (cooked) Biryani. It is prepared using different kinds of meats – mutton, chicken lamb and beef. Vegetarians need not fret as this delicious dish is also cooked by incorporating vegetables in place of meat in its recipe. So, ideally it has many variants, namely mutton, chicken, khaam, zafrani and the most scrumptious of all joban malti, in which mutton, partridges and quails are cooked with rice. When served, it is generally garnished with pudina, fried onion and boiled eggs. To enhance its flavour all the more, biryani is accompanied with mirchi-ka-salan and dahi-ki-chutney.

A unique style of cooking is involved in its preparation, wherein utensils made of either copper, brass or earthen pots are used. Basically, slow-cooking technique is what makes this dish acquire distinctive flavours of spices that goes into its making. Other must-eats that cannot be missed upon during a sojourn here are Pathar-ka-Ghosht, Double-ka-Meetha, Haleem, Khubani-ka-Meetha, Nahari and Seviyon-ka-Meetha.

Almost every restaurant in the city, dish out biryani as it is like a staple diet of the locals here. However, the ideal way to relish it is to not read the reams of creative prose, which praises it to the heavens, instead there is nothing like discovering the real flavours of Hyderabad accidentally all by oneself. For doing so, tourists can explore the innumerable eating joints, set up at some of the most frequented attractions in the city. Few of the prominent locations, where travellers can have best biryani are Secunderabad, RTC Cross Road, Tolichowki, Srinagar Colony (Gachibowli) and near Charminar. All of these places form part of most of the Hyderabad tour packages as popular attractions in the city are dotted at these sites.

Video from Sanjeevkapoorkhazana

 Munnar-A Hill Station of South India

Munnar, a breathtakingly beautiful hill station in Kerala, is a place to visit to enjoy peace and tranquility. The name of this place literally means three rivers in Tamil, and this name has been derived from the fact that it is located at the confluence of three mountain streams – Mudrapuzha, Kundala and Nallathanni. Located at an elevation 1600 metres above sea level, this destination was a summer resort of the British in the colonial days. The pristine valleys, rolling hills, expansive tea plantations, captivating waterfalls and aroma of spices, make it an idyllic tourist destination. People on a Munnar tour, not only love sightseeing but also indulge in a number of adventure activities like trekking, paragliding and rafting. It has a lot more to offer in terms of exotic flora and fauna, found in its wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. Devikulam, Eravikulam National Park, Attukal Waterfalls, Nyayamakad, Anamudi Peak, Tea Museum and Echo Point are just few of the many popular attractions in and around the main hill station. All these attractions beckon nature and adventure lovers from far and wide to come here regularly. The best time to visit this spellbinding destination is from August to March as the weather remains quite pleasant. People planning a visit to this spectacular place are suggested to carry along enough warm clothes with them as on some days temperatures drop considerably. Things to Do From strolling past the sprawling tea estates to admiring the cascading waterfalls, this small paradise in South India has a lot to offer for leisure travelers. Marvelling at the pristine beauty of the town from the Top Station viewpoint and capturing beautiful sights in the camera are experience to remember forever. Adventure enthusiasts can undertake a trek to Anamudi, the highest peak in South India. Together with Eravikulam National Park, it is the abode to the Neelakurinji flower that blossoms once in 12 years. Tourists can also indulge in some enthralling activities like trout fishing, rock climbing, mountain biking, forest camping, paragliding, white-water rafting, rappelling and cycling during a sojourn here. How to Reach The majestic hill station of Munnar is accessible from different parts of the country courtesy air, rail and road transportation. The closest airport to this location is the Cochin International Airport, which is about 107 km away and is well-connected to all major Indian cities. To reach this place by rail is also a convenient option as tourists can get down at Aluva – the nearest railway junction. People who are on Karnataka tours can also plan a short trip to this mesmerizing hill station. This state is also home to some of the popular attractions of southern India and is flocked by tourists all round-the year. From natural beauty, majestic palaces, ancient temples to bustling marketplaces, this region attracts a lot of globetrotters. The National Highway 49 connects Munnar to other important towns in and around the state, especially Karnataka.

The Unforgettable Kaziranga Safaris

Listed among the prominent world heritage sites by UNESCO – Kaziranga National Park – is the crowning glory of Assam. It is a haven for endangered wildlife species indigenous to India. This animal reserve has nearly two-third population of the great one-horned rhinoceros found in the entire world and the highest density of tigers found elsewhere. The marvellous topography of this place comprises tall elephant grass, marshland, verdant tropical moist forests and various water bodies meandering through its vast expanse. This forest area is an ideal place to witness rich biodiversity and behold captivating natural beauty. Not only does it provide shelter to a vast variety of fauna and avi-fauna, but it has also achieved notable success in wildlife conservation. It is also a popular tourist destination in India, frequented mostly by either nature lovers or wildlife enthusiasts. A major highlight of a Kaziranga tour is the jungle safari, which is an ideal way to explore this natural habitat of wildlife.

Jeep and Elephant Safaris

There are basically two types of guided tours offered here, either by Jeep or on the back of an elephant. Irrespective of which safari a tourist opts for, the excursion within its bounds is sure to be a thrilling and memorable, replete with fun and excitement. During the safari trips, travellers might spot – one-horned rhinoceros, the Royal Bengal Tiger, Wild Asian water buffalo, Eastern mole, Indian wild boar, Indian elephant, swamp deer, leaf monkey, mongoose, leopard and many other species of animals. A ride within the jungle also gives an opportunity for birdwatching as the place is home to an umpteen number of bird species. Some of them are swamp partridge, quail, grey peacock pheasant, goose and fulvous whistling duck. Jeeps with groups of tourists and trained guides are allowed into this reserve at fixed times during the day. To ensure a safe expedition within the park, these Jeeps are required to abide by fixed routes and timings. Other than catching a glimpse of the endangered species, visitors get an opportunity for photographing them; however, they are not allowed to step down from the Jeep or the elephant for this.

Observation Towers

Within this sanctuary, observation towers are built at Sohola, Kathpara, Foliamari, Mihimukh and Harmoti for wildlife viewing. Standing atop these towers, travellers get to see the charismatic landscape of this place with the Himalayan range in the background. This park remains closed for visitors from mid-April to mid-October due to monsoon rains. Within the vast expanse are set up tourist lodges, which are maintained by the Department of Environment and Forests, Government of Assam.

Besides giving  travellers an opportunity to see the varied species of animals and birds found here, a tour within the park is an endeavour to spread awareness amongst them about eco-tourism. To make this tour a once-in-a-lifetime experience for any avid nature enthusiast, various customised wildlife tour packages to Kaziranga are available online. These tour deals are designed for different types of visitors – personal groups, educational institutes and even corporates. Each of these tours is meticulously planned with the help of professional naturalists and tour leaders. Some packages only cover the safari while others also cater to the accommodation requirements of visitors.