The Mind-Boggling Exhibits of the Indian Museum

Nathaniel Wallich

Nathaniel Wallich

A wonderful attraction that people may visit as part of their Kolkata tour package is the Indian Museum. Established in 1814 by a curator, named Nathaniel Wallich, it is among the largest and most well-stocked museums in India. Its exhibits cover the fields of archaeology, art, anthropology, geology, zoology and botany and each section has numerous galleries.

Indian Museum, KolkataAs visitors enter the archaeology section in the main entrance gallery, they see clay and stone sculptures from the Sunga and Mauryan periods. The Pre and Proto Historic Gallery here contains an array of excavated artefacts belonging to the Harappan era. Stone and brick pieces, salvaged from the ruins of buildings in Bodh Gaya and those built during the Sunga period are also displayed here. They show beautifully carved circular, animal and human designs on walls or pillars. Also part of the archaeology section are stone and bronze sculptures from the Gandhara School and those from the Kushana, Chandela, Pallava, Gupta, Hoysala and Chola periods. Coins from 5th century BC to present times, terracotta, pottery and other daily used objects as well as an Egyptian mummy is also kept here.

Art and Anthropology

The Art area has numerous paintings from the Persian, Mughal, Deccan, Rajasthani and Pahari schools. People here can also see art from Bengal, represented in a palm leaf, manuscripts and works by many artists including Rabindranath Tagore and his brothers. The Decorative Arts and Textile Gallery displays pottery, bronze, brass, ivory, jade, silver, copper-wire, damascene and bidri objects. Handkerchiefs, sarees, bedsheets and carpets from various parts of India are also exhibited here. Its South East Asian area shows porcelain, textile, ivory carvings, gilded bronze, painted wood and cloth paintings from China, Japan, Myanmar, Java, Tiber and Nepal. The Palaeo area of the Anthropology gallery displays the changes in the skeleton to educate people about the evolution of man. Its cultural sub-division tells visitors about the physical attributes, economy, languages and cultures of people living in different geographical regions of India. Masks, worn by the locals of West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, Odisha, Bhutan and Papua New Guinea are also worth seeing as are numerous musical instruments.

Geology, Zoology and Botany

Fossils of the ancestors of various vertebrates including ancient horses, pigs, cows and those of dinosaurs enchant visitors in the Shivalik sector of the Geology Gallery. The Invertebrate sector has fossils of arthropods, corals, ammonites, Brachiopoda, gastropods, fish, snakes and plants of the pre-historic Gondwanaland. While in this area of the building, people can also see different types of rocks and minerals from across the country and the world. Models of several marine creatures like sharks, rays, rohu, saw fish, catla, betta and hilsa are displayed in the fish part of the Zoology sub-division. Likewise the amphibian and reptile part exhibits different species of snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles. Ducks, pelicans, peacocks and other indigenous and foreign birds are kept in another area of this part. The Zoology sub-division also has fake mammals across different species and in different ecological settings. Last, but not the least, the 8 bays in the Botany section educate people about timbers, food products, vegetable fibres, medicinal plants, oils and oilseeds from India. Other specimens here relate to paddy, sugarcane, papers and what they are made from, shola products, silk products, crude drugs, dyes and tans.

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An Exciting Time at Wonderla in Bengaluru

A great way to make Karnataka holidays even more enjoyable is to plan a fun day-out at Wonderla. XD Max and Cinemagic 3D in the dry section showcase films, accompanied with vibrating seats, winds and water splashes. Its laser show and musical fountain, with lights, sound and music, is another fun activity to witness. Visitors can take a high cable-car and view the entire park while seated in Hang Glider. The vessel of Pirate Ship swings vigorously and tilts people to an almost 180-degree angle. Net Walk, as hinted by the name, is a walking path for children, made of nets. Wonder Splash is a car that travels through rails to a good height and then comes down and drops straight into a pond, spraying all riders in the process.

Techno Jump and Toon Tango are merry-go-rounds: one high above the ground and the other close to it. Riders can sit in any car of the 13-storey Sky Ferris wheel, which, with a diameter of 30 metres, rotates slowly. People may also try Termite Train and Coaster to go around crazy paths or to cruise up and down with high velocity, respectively. Dungeon Ride takes visitors on a thrilling journey through a haunted mansion. Travellers can also sit in small vehicles and bump others in Crazy Cars. Crazy Wagon is a carriage, fixed to a long circling arm, taking riders 21 metres up in the air.

Water and High Thrill Rides

With Lazy River, travellers go through the meandering stream on a rubber tube. Boomerang takes riders through a water tunnel and then drops them to a slide. The slides of Harakiri, Uphill Racers and Pendulum involve going up and down before thudding people in water. Visitors lie on rubber mats and slide down colourful water-filled tracks in Fun Racers. Banded Kraits involves sailing down a turning and dropping path into a pool. Numerous water slides, ending into a pool, are combined to form Twisters. Wavy and Vertical Fall is a ride, beginning from a six-storey height and then falling into the reservoir.

The High Thrill section, standing by its name, has the most hair-raising rides at Wonderla. Flash Tower and Drop Zone have seats fastened along spires that shoot up 40 metres and then fall freely. Equinox and Y-Scream elevate the thrill factor multi-fold with revolving round platform and swinging arms. With Insanity and Mixer, revellers swirl in every possible direction, and experience the ultimate adrenaline surge. Spinning on Hurricane is like sitting on the blades of a ceiling fan. The seats of Maverick twist, turn, spin, turn upside down and do every insane thing possible. Wonderla Bamba is a long platform, which swirls in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.

Kids Rides

Carousel, Lion Swing, Magic Mushroom, Jumping Frog, Merry Ghost and Flying Jumbo are merry-go-rounds, either close to the ground or a little above. Mini Venice takes children on a journey, which transports them to the famous canals of the Italian city. Smaller and less thrilling versions of the Pirate Ship, Drop Zone and Sky Wheel can also be enjoyed by kids. Mini Express and Convoy allow children to journey through colourful places and over hills. Wonderla is open on weekdays between 11 am and 6 pm and on weekends between 11 am to 7 pm.

The Ruining Magnificence of the Pratapgad Fort

Mahabaleshwar is a beautiful hill station, situated among the Western Ghats in Maharashtra. The town is surrounded by numerous small and large lakes, some of which are natural and others are man-made. Tourists can take trains and flights to Pune from major Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai. The roughly 117-kilometre distance between Pune and Mahabaleshwar can be covered in just a little more than 2 hours by road. This town can be visited during any part of the year as the temperature here usually stays around 30 degree Celsius. The months of June, July, August and September should, however, be avoided as it rains heavily during this period. There are hordes of sites that can be visited during a Mahabaleshwar tour like Venna Lake, Pratapgad and Kate, Elephant, Wilson and 3 Monkey vantage points.

Pratapgad

Situated about 21 km from Mahabaleshwar, Pratapgad is a pre-modern fortress built in the first decade of the second half of the 17th century. The construction of the fort was undertaken by Moropant Trimbak Pingle, the first Peshwa prime minister under Chhatrapati Shivaji. On November 10th, 1959, Afzal Khan, the commander of the army of Ali Adil Shah II, invaded the fortification. The war ended with the victory of Chhatrapati Shivaji and the firm establishment of the legendary Maratha Empire. Between 1817 and 1818, the last of the three battles between the Maratha Empire and the East India Company was fought at the end of which, this military stronghold of Pratapgad finally fell. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India, on November 30th, 1957, unveiled a 17-feet high statue of the greatest Maratha ruler within the complex.

Pratapgad Fort in Maharashtra

Pratapgad Fort in Maharashtra

Structure

The fort complex is constructed atop a long ridge amidst the Western Ghats at a height of about 1080 metres above the sea. This site has an elongated plan and the structures, situated on different heights of the ridge, are inter-connected by steps or winding roads. Through the Abdullah Tower, situated in the southern part, a narrow road leads to the main entrance, protected by a bastion tower on either of its side. Only a few structures within the fortress now survive that too in ruins, including some huts and a temple of Goddess Bhavani. Overtime, lichens, moss and small plants have covered its thick, stone walls giving it a nice antique look. Along the walls are slightly raised brick platforms, probably built to allow soldiers to keep a watch on the area nearby.

In the southern section is the temple, dedicated to Goddess Bhavani, built in 1661 by Shivaji as he was unable to visit the actual shrine in Tulijapur. During his invasion campaign, Ali Adil Shah II had desecrated the original temple like other Muslim invaders, had done to other Hindu places of worship over the years. The shrine, within the fortress, has a hall that has been rebuilt and another, with 12-feet high wooden pillars, with the idol of the goddess, inside the latter. Atop its roof rises a conical tower called shikhara in Hindi, which is a characteristic of such houses of god. The eastern and western sides of the complex have gorges, some roughly 800 feet deep. Another minaret, called Afzal Tower is part of the fort and rumoured to be the burial site of Afzal Khan.