Exploring 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites with Holiday Tour Packages to India

India, often called the Land of Mystery, is one of the most sought after destinations among tourists. From lush green rolling plains to highest mountain peaks and exotic shimmering beaches to golden deserts, this place has something to offer to all types of travellers. In addition to these alluring attractions, it also houses a number of remarkable architectural wonders. Here is a list of three UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites that can be explored by travellers by booking holiday tour packages to India.

Konark Sun Temple

Located in the Indian state Odisha, Konark Sun Temple is one of the most revered shrines in country. It was built by the king Narasimhadeva I, back in the 13th century. A fine example of the marvellous Kalinga architecture, this temple is known for minute detailing and precision. Even after centuries, it has not lost its charm that testifies the ingenious work done by Orissan artists. Dedicated to the Sun God, it is popular for the flawless cut of animal and human figures, brilliant traceries and fine scroll work. It is regarded as chariot of the god that has 12 pairs of intricately carved wheels pulled by seven horses. The best things about this temple are its alignment on the east and west directions, and pleasant natural surroundings. Travellers can witness the marvel of this monument by booking holiday tour packages to India.

Taj Mahal

The symbol of love, Taj Mahal is not only a UNESCO-listed site, but is also one of the eight wonders in the world. It is said that this mesmerising mausoleum was built by Shah Jahan in remembrance of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Crafted by the best artisans, this monument is a fine example of the Mughal architectural style. Built by using white marble and precious stones, it is an epitome of beauty. In addition to this, gardens in the surrounding and geometrical patterns add magnificence to this structure. This is the region that most holiday packages to India include it in the must-see attractions list.

Qutab Minar

Built by Qutab-und-din-Aibak, this 73 metres high victory tower was the highest structure back in the 12th century. This five-storied tower was constructed after the Last Hindu kingdom was defeated in the year 1993. The first three stories are built by using red sandstone, whereas rest two include marble work as well. The Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, located at the foot of the tower, is one of the oldest mosques in the country.

People interested in history and architecture can include these three UNESCO-listed sites in their holiday packages to India.

Two Most Visited Museums of Delhi

Travellers who are planning to spend their holidays in New Delhi – the capital of India and a bustling cosmopolitan metropolis cannot miss exploring the fascinating museums here. One of the most popular holiday packages among tourists in Delhi is the package, which covers the museums. Two of the most prominent museums in this city that are worth visiting are – the National Science Centre and National Museum of Natural History.

 

The National Science Centre

National Science Centre

National Science Centre

The National Science Centre, a unit of the NCSM or National Council of Science Museums, is an autonomous body of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. It was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister of India in the month of January in the year 1992 with the objective of popularisation of Science among people, especially students. There are three galleries in the museum that are dedicated to three different aspects.

 

The first gallery is known as the Introduction to Natural History, which depicts the origin of life and its evolution through evidences and sequences. This section also portrays the diversity in flora and fauna. The second wing is Natures Network: Ecology where visitors get to understand major ecosystems of the world, food chains, role of plants as primary producers, food webs, bio-geochemical cycles, decomposition, interrelationship among plants, animals and human beings, present day environmental problems such as deforestation, pollution depletion of wildlife, and the aesthetic, ethical, scientific and economic reasons for conservation.

 

The final gallery, known as Conservation, is about various dimensions of natural conservation. There are Discovery and Activities rooms where children can indulge in science-related games and puzzles. The museum also organises various film shows where visitors get to see environment documentaries. The major objectives of this museum include achievement of scientific literacy in the nation, inculcation of scientific awareness, imparting training to teachers and preservation of scientific and technological heritage of the country.

(Visiting hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, all days except Monday)

The National Museum of Natural History

 

NMNH

NMNH

Established in the year 1972, The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is under the Government of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests. The construction of this galleria was an initiative of the Former Prime Minister of the country – Smt. Indira Gandhi. It was opened for the public on World Environment Day (June 5th, 1978) and is dedicated to the rich mineral wealth, flora and fauna of the country. The main objective of this galleria is to create awareness about the environment among the masses. Guided tours with trained assistants are organised for tourists visiting this place. Besides, during vacation periods, special programmes like camping, debates and project assignments are organised. The NMNH conducts various educational programmes, such as Touch Feel and Learn with Braille Material and Audio Aids, for differently-abled children.

 

These attractions are must-include sites in Indian tour packages for tourists who are interested in exploring the natural history and diversity of this country. These are ideal destinations for environmentalists, nature lovers, historians and aware people who like to acquire scientific knowledge. Hordes of tourists flock here is thousands with friends and families all-round the year.

 

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.

Pilgrimage Destinations for Jains in India

Religion has always been an integral part of cultural tourism in India. The country has followers of almost every existing religion, which altogether depict its unity in diversity. One such religion that is followed here is Jainism, which was founded in the country itself. Divided into two sects – Digambara and Shwetambara, this religion is counted amongst the oldest ones across the globe. The true nature of Jainism lies in endurance, non-violence, body control and living on godly teachings of enlightened people of the past. For some, it is finding inner peace while for others, it could be the final liberation from worldly affairs.

Being the central location of this religion, India has several sacred sites, which are considered prime pilgrimages by its followers. Exploring these Jain shrines is a different experience, for every visit brings a change in the outlook of visitors who explore more than just relics, paintings, carvings and architectural beauty. No wonder, every year, all such places are visited by numerous travellers and devotees from different states of the country and abroad.

Jain pilgrimages in India are present almost in every corner of it, be it the coastal state of Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh – the heart of India. Dedicated to the revered Tirthankaras, these sites are held in high regard by the Jain community present all over the world. Some of these places house ancient Jain relics, manuscripts and sacred artefacts, which provide greater details about the religion and its inception. During my visit to various parts of India, I came across several pilgrimages of this religion, which left me amazed with their architecture and serenity. After have being visited almost every place of such type, I can list the top pilgrimage destinations for Jainism in India:

Palitana

Palitana

Palitana

Palitana, located in Gujarat, is a famous Jainism site in the country where we get to see an astounding conglomeration of about 900 shrines on two mountain peaks. Built by various generation of Jainism followers over a period of a thousand years, this place is counted as one of the most venerated sites related to the religion. Some well-known shrines that people can visit while being here include Sampriti Raja, Chaumukh, Astapada, Kumarpal, Shri Adishwara, Vimalsha, Shahastrakuta and Bhulavani. It takes two hours to climb up, but once there, religious chores and beautiful surrounding landscapes bring the heart to a state of utter delight and peace.

Junagadh

Mount Girnar

Mount Girnar

Junagadh is famed as an important tourist spot for both Hindu and Jain devotees. Located at the foothill of the towering Mount Girnar, this place boasts beautiful landscapes, vast open skies and a plenty of religious sites. A flight of 9999 steps supposedly leads to the topmost temple on the mountain and serves as the focal point of an annual religious race. Temples of both Shwetambara and Digambara Jainism are located here, thus drawing devotees from both the sects of this religion. The architecture of these temples is reminiscent of the various periods that they belong to.

Chanderi

Jain Temples in Madhya Pradesh

Jain Temples in Madhya Pradesh

Chanderi is a frequented site as far as Jain pilgrimage is concerned. It is an important historic town in the Ashoknagar district of Madhya Pradesh that boasts a number of significant locations. It was an erstwhile stronghold of the Parwar Jain community and a significant cultural centre for Jainism. Most of the Jain temples in Chanderi are concentrated in its older portion, which is known as Buddhi Chanderi. It houses a plethora of Jain temples, which date back to around 9th and 10th centuries. As such, this place sees huge gathering of Jain devotees from every nook and corner of the country. A number of small hamlets are present near the town that carry prominence as Jain religious sites.

Mount Abu

Mount Abu Jain temple

Mount Abu Jain temple

As many know and acknowledge, Mount Abu is a widely-known hill station and pilgrimage destination in Rajasthan. It houses a number of magnificent Jain temples, which hold historic and archaeological significance. In fact, the Jain temples at Dilwara collectively serve as the nerve centre of Jainism in India and attract people from all over the world. The extraordinary architecture and splendid marble stone carvings of these temples inspire visitors to praise their grandeur. With a bit of more research about Dilwara temples, one would find that they were constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries. There are five stunning temples at this place that were built by Vastupal and Tejpal.

Sammed Shikhar

Sammed Shikhar

Sammed Shikhar

Sammed Shikhar, also called the Peak of Concentration, is one of the holiest places for Jains across the world. It is believed that 20 out of the 24 Jain Tirthankaras came here for the attainment of Nirvana. A shrine for each of these spiritual leaders is located atop this hill, making it a place of high religious reverence. The other name for this venerated site is Parasnath Hill that is derived from the name of the 23rd Jain Tirthankara. Surrounded by a dark forest called Madhuban, this hilltop is accessible by an arduous trek.

Khajuraho

Khajuraho

Khajuraho

Khajuraho is a world famous tourist spot that is regarded as a significant pilgrimage destination for Jains and Hindus. As a matter of fact, the Khajuraho Group of Monuments is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also gets recognition as one of the Seven Wonders of India. Speaking about the place and its connection with Jainism, it houses several Jain temple built during the reign of Chandela kings. Most of the Jain temples at this site are in ruins now. Parshvanath Temple, Adinath Temple and Shantinath Temple are few of the shrines, which stand in a preserved state till date. Jain inscriptions can be seen on the walls of these temples, narrating facts about the Chandela period.

Mahudi

Mahudi Jain temple

Mahudi Jain temple

Mahudi, regarded as a Jain pilgrimage spot, is frequented by devotees throughout the year. The Mahudi Jain Temple in this village is undoubtedly its prime attraction. Established by a Jain monk named Buddhisagar Suri, this temple houses a marble idol of Padmaprabh – the 6th Jain Tirthankara. A separate shrine that houses the idol of Ghantakarna Mahavir Dev is also situated nearby. Devotees visiting the place offer sukhadi (a kind of sweet), which has to be consumed before leaving the temple premises.

Bhadreshwar

Bhadreshwar Jain Temple

Bhadreshwar Jain Temple

Bhadreshwar is significant for Jains as it houses a number of ancient Jain temples. Known as Bhadrawati Nagari in ancient times, this place was a stronghold of Jain rulers, especially the Solankis. The group of temples in the town is collectively referred to as Bhadreshwar Jain Temple and flocked by numerous Jain devotees the year round. One of these shrines is known to shave an original Parshvanath idol, which dates back to 500 BC.

Shravanabelagola

Sravanabelagola

Sravanabelagola

Shravanabelagola (also called White Pond of the Shravana) is an important Jain pilgrimage destination in the south of India. It is famous for the Gommateshvara Bahubali statue, which was established back in AD 978-993 and considered to be built under the patronage of the Western Ganga Dynasty. This imposing statue is regarded as one of the best works of sculpture from that period. It is believed that the great king Chandragupta Maurya died at this place, post his conversion into a Jain ascetic.

Ranakpur

Ranakpur Jain temple

Ranakpur Jain temple

Ranakpur is a wonderful place to visit and be amazed by sculptured Jain temples. It is even more significant for people who follow Jainism for they get a rare chance to explore and appreciate the exquisite beauty and spirituality of this place. Established in the 15th century, these temples of Ranakpur are amongst the prime shrines of Jainism. Lord Adinath – the first Jain Tirthankara – is the presiding deity of the central Chaumukha Temple, which stands tall as an architectural marvel and has 29 halls along with 1444 distinctly carved pillars. Other temples in the region are dedicated to various Jain Tirthankaras and guardian deities of Jainism. Exemplary of brilliance in architecture, the Jain temples of Ranakpur are definitely worth appreciating for their beauty and grandeur.

India is abound with numerous pilgrimage sites related to Jainism. From ancient cave formations to modern shrines, there are a number of places where Jain followers come to worship. In short, the various Jain pilgrimage sites of India are bound to make travellers feel an aura of spirituality and compel them to appreciate the architectural excellence prevailing over different periods of time. Dedicated to various Tirthankaras and deities associated with the religion, these temples throw a light on the inception and development of Jainism through passing years. Holiday packages to such destinations also provide an opportunity to be a part of festivities and jubilations by getting along with people celebrating Navpad Oli, Paryushan Mahasparva and the birth occasion of Lord Mahavir.

Puri – The Land of Temples and Festivals

Puri

Puri

Puri is a district located in the coastal region of Odisha and has been referred to by different names – Charitra, Purusottama Kshetra and Utkal in the past. This destination is popular as the home of Lord Vishnu, also called as Lord Jagannath, and is well-known for its cottage and handicrafts throughout the world. These handcrafted works have drawn inspiration from two sources – the temple art of the Sun Temple of Konark and the shrine dedicated to Lord Jagannath in Puri.

Lord Jagannath Temple

Lord Jagannath Temple

This region is an epitome of the rich cultural heritage of the country. It is home to many cottage and handicraft industries, which produce an array of goods in wooden and stone carvings, modern patch work, applique, patta chitra, bell metal and terracotta. The region is not only a prominent centre for such industries but also a place of religious significance. The revered sites located over here are the perfect examples of architectural marvels. Tourists can visit a number of shrines over here namely,

Gundicha Temple

Gundicha Temple

Jagannath Temple, Gundicha Temple, Sun Temple and Sakhigopal by opting for Puri tour packages.

Festivals and Attractions

During their trip, they can also be a part of numerous festivals and fairs that are observed over here. The important ones comprise Rath, Gosani, Chandan and Sahi Yatras, other than Maha Shivratri, Boita Bandan and Magha Mela.  Furthermore, there are some prominent events like Konark and Puri Beach Festivals, Gundicha Utsav and Srikhestra Mahotsav known for showcasing different forms of folk dances including the famed Odissi.

Sun Temple, Konark

Sun Temple, Konark

In addition to its shrines and festivals, this region is famous for paintings like tasar, patta and palm leaf as well as pottery toys, sand art and papier-mache products. On opting any of the holiday packages for Odisha, travellers can enjoy shopping along with sightseeing by visiting several places of interest, such as Gobardhan Math (a monastery founded by Adi Shankaracharya) and Chilka Lake, which is a habitat to the migratory birds.

Chilka Lake

Chilka Lake

Brahmagiri and Baliharachandi

Among the several popular destinations in and around this region, Brahmagiri is one of the most visited. Located nearby, it is home to the famous Alarnath Mandir. Hundreds of devotees, pilgrims and tourists come to this location to pay homage to Lord Jagannath. The best way to reach here is by bus owing to a number of bus services from Puri to this destination.

Alarnath Mandir

Alarnath Mandir

Baliharachandi is another popular location, which is often visited on a tour package to this destination. The place is famous for a shrine erected for the Hindu Goddess Harachandi, an incarnation of Goddess Durga. Apart from this shrine, the place is also famous for its long stretches of the sandy coastline. However, the Bay of Bengal is quite turbulent and visitors need to be careful while going near the sea. It is also a popular picnic spot for local people due to its natural beauty.

Baliharachandi

Baliharachandi

Holidaymakers can take scheduled bus services to come to this location as well. If they are on a prolonged holiday, they can also plan a getaway to different excursions like Balighai Beach, Brahmagiri, Satyabadi, Baliharachandi, Raghurajpur and Satapara situated in proximity to this place.