India Sights

If this is your first visit to India, almost everything you see on your travels may qualify as a sight worth gazing at. When we refer to "sights", we're talking about something that is far beyond the ordinary, and is exceptional in it's existence due to more than one reason.

Other tour operators will herd you through the popular locations with canned presentations of their virtues. We offer you choices of sights to discover and explore, you pick the level of time and attention you want to devote on each.

Choose to join us on of our carefully planned visits, or you can design your own visit to suit your tastes and likings. Our guests always come back from their visits with tales of exhilaration and delight. Here are a few sights that are highly recommended by anyone that has experienced India.

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal undoubtedly is the most popular tourist attraction amongst India’s long and impressive list of monuments. The Taj Mahal, popularized over the centuries as a symbol of undying love and eternal devotion, gets over three million visitors every year.

Agra Fort

The first red sandstone fort of North India was built in 1565 by India’s greatest Mughal ruler, Emperor Akbar. Its royal audience halls, immense stone courtyards, marble mosque and private royal chambers give us a glimpse of the grandeur of the Mughal Empire.


The tomb of Akbar the Great is an important Mughal architectural masterpiece built in the 16th century. Akbar himself planned his own tomb and selected the site for it. He started the construction and, after his death, his son Jahangir completed the construction in 1613.

Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb

This was built by Mughal Emperor Jehangir’s queen as a memorial to her father. The tombs sheer beauty will surprise you - the only reason it does not get more accolades is because it shares the stage with the incomparable Taj Mahal.

Fatehpur Sikri

Built by Emperor Akbar to be a co-capital with Agra, Fatehpur Sikri is an amazing display of architectural splendor. It was the first planned city of the Mughals and also the first one designed in Mughal architecture, an amalgamation of Indian architecture, Persian and Islamic architecture.

Mehtab Bagh

Mehtab Bagh is a beautiful 500 year-old Mughal garden located across from the Taj Mahal on the other side of the Yamuna River. It offers great views of the monument, especially at sunset. When the Taj was built on the Yamuna's south bank the moonlight garden grew just across the river on the northern waterfront. Once an oasis filled with fragrant flowers, shaded pavilions, fountain jets and reflecting pools, the abandoned 25-acre plot is now part of a project to establish protective greenways around the Taj. As the land is reclaimed, historians, geographers and botanists from around the world are learning about the magnificent garden that once occupied the site.

Qutab Minar

The Qutab Minar complex is one of the most iconic attractions in the Indian Federal Capital of New Delhi. The Qutab Minar is said to be one of the world's tallest free standing brick tower. The tower was envisioned as a minaret for the call to prayer as well as a tower of victory by Sultan Qutabuddin Aibak, one of the earliest Muslim rulers of Delhi.

Humayun's Tomb

Humayun's Tomb is one of the most prominent attractions and cultural landmarks in the Indian city of Delhi. The Tomb of Humayun is the last resting place of the 2nd great Mughal Emperor, Humayun and has been placed on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site list since 1993.

Red Fort

The Red Fort is considered an important symbol of India's national aspirations. It was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal, in the year 1638. The ramparts of the Red Fort served as the birthplace of the modern Republic of India as the Indian Declaration of Independence was made at the Fort.

India Gate

The India Gate is the national monument of India. Situated in the heart of New Delhi, India Gate was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Originally known as All India War Memorial, it is a prominent landmark in Delhi and commemorates the 90,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who lost their lives while fighting for the British Indian Empire in World War I and the Third Anglo-Afghan War.

Jama Masjid

Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal, and completed in the year 1628, Jama Masjid is the largest and best-known mosque in India. Jama Masjid, is a reference to the weekly Friday noon congregation prayers of Muslims, Jummah, which are usually done at the congregational mosque (jami' Masjid).

Raj Ghat

The cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi (Raj Ghat) is a simple yet stirring memorial to the father of the nation. Lush lawns extend beyond the enclosure that surrounds the black marble platform occupying the spot where the Mahatma was cremated on January 31, 1948. An eternal flame burns next to the platform. Today, the Rajghat attracts about 10,000 visitors a day and is a requisite stop for visiting foreign leaders, regardless of political ideology.

Rashtrapati Bhawan

The Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official residence of the President of India, located at Raisina hill in New Delhi. Until 1950 it was known as "Viceroy's House" and served as the residence of the Viceroy and Governor-General of India. At present, it is the largest residence of any Chief of the State in the world. The Rashtrapati Bhavan is a large and vast mansion with four floors and has 360 rooms. It has an area of 200,000 square feet. The plan of the palace is designed around a massive square although there are many courtyards and open inner areas within. There are separate wings for the Viceroy, and another wing for guests.

Akshardham Temple

Also referred to as Delhi Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham, the Ashardham Temple complex displays millennia of traditional Indian and Hindu culture, spirituality and architecture.

Bahai (Lotus) Temple

The Bahai House of Worship in Delhi, popularly known as the Lotus Temple due to its flowerlike shape, is a Bahai House of Worship and also a prominent attraction in Delhi.

Lodi Gardens

Built by Emperor Akbar to be a co-capital with Agra, Fatehpur Sikri is an amazing display of architectural splendor. It was the first planned city of the Mughals and also the first one designed in Mughal architecture, an amalgamation of Indian architecture, Persian and Islamic architecture.

Safdarjang's Tomb

Safdarjang's Tomb was built in 1754 in the late Mughal Empire style, and has been described as the last flicker in the lamp of Mughal architecture. The tomb was built for Safdarjung, the powerful Prime Minister of Muhammad Shah (the Mughal Emperor from 1719 to 1748). The central tomb is topped by a huge dome. Four water canals lead from the central tomb to four buildings - one has an ornately decorated gateway, while the other three are pavilions with living quarters built into the walls. Octagonal towers rise from each corner of the central tomb. Sarjdarjang's Tomb is surrounded by lush gardens entered through an ornate gate decorated with elaborate plaster carvings.

Connaught Place

Connaught Place is one of the largest financial, commercial and business centers in Delhi. The British-designed colonial equivalent of a shopping mall, it is laid out in two concentric rings divided into blocks, all bursting with shops.

Gwailor Fort

Perched atop a sandstone hilltop, Gwalior Fort has guarded the city of Gwalior since the 8th century some 300 feet above the city proper.

A massive structure spanning more than a square mile, Gwalior Fort houses dozens of smaller structures including water tanks, temples, shrines, monuments, and multiple palaces sheltered by thick, sandstone walls painted with bright blue accents.

Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal, meaning Palace of the Breeze, was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, and designed by Lal Chand Usta in the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. Its unique five-story exterior is also akin to the honeycomb of a beehive, with its 953 small windows called jharokhas that are decorated with intricate latticework.

Amber Fort

Set in Jaipur’s spacious Ram Niwas Gardens, this stately building designed by Sir Swinton Jacob was modeled on London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Combining the elements of English and north Indian architecture, it was known as the pride of the New Jaipur when it opened in 1887 AD. It houses a collection of exhibits of Rajasthani folk arts. Various other exhibits include rare stone carvings dating back to the 2nd century and some fine miniatures along with an Egyptian mummy. But the prize possession is a magnificent late 16th century Persian garden carped, considered one of the finest carpets ever woven.

Jantar Mantar

The Jantar Mantar is the most iconic attraction of Jaipur which is the largest city and capital of the western Indian state of Rajasthan. The Jantar Mantar is the name of the celestial observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh II, the founder of the city of Jaipur.

City Palace

The City Palace, which includes the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal palaces and other buildings, is a palace complex in Jaipur. It was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the head of the Kachwaha Rajput clan. The palace complex incorporates an impressive and vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings.

Jaigarh Fort

Jaigarh Fort was built between the 15th and the 18th century and is located on one of the peaks of the Aravali range of hills. It provides an excellent view of the Aravali hills and the Amber Fort down below. Jaigarh Fort stands amid rock-strewn, thorn-scrub covered hills, and its foreboding stone ramparts are visible from Jaipur, 15 km away. A steep road goes up to the main gate, the Dungar Darwaza. Jaigarh Fort is the most spectacular of the three-hilltop forts that overlook Jaipur. Jaigarh Fort is also known as the Fort of Victory. In Mughal times, the Jaipur region was a major weapon-producing center for the Mughal and Rajput rulers. Several of these weapons are on display in the fort's armory and museum. It is one of the few military structures of medieval India preserved almost intact; the fort contains palaces, a granary, a well-planned cannon foundry, several temples, a tall tower and giant mounted cannon-the Jai Ban, which is the largest cannon on wheels in the world. The armory display includes a collection of canons, many of which are exquisitely decorated and were used in the Mughal campaigns led by the, Rajput King, Raja Man Singh.

Nahargarh Fort

Nahagarh Fort stands on the edge of the Aravali Hills, overlooking the pink city of Jaipur. The view of the city from the fort is breath taking. Along with Amber Fort and Jaigarh Fort it formed a strong defensive ring for the city. It was built in 1734 and extended in 1868. The fort’s thick ramparts and arches make it a superb example of Rajput military architecture. By the 19th century, Nahargarh Fort was converted to more peaceful purposes, and a palace was built here, with delicately cusped arches and ornately frescoed walls. The palace contains suites for the Maharaja and each of his nine queens. All of them are notable for the beautiful florally painted arayish on their walls, which is still amazingly well-preserved. The palace complex is laid out with courtyards and terraces, and a Hawa Ghar (breeze chamber) with a beautiful view of the city.

Birla Lakshmi-Narayan Temple

The Lakshmi - Narayan Temple, also known as Birla Mandir, is a modern architectural wonder. The grand temple is located on an elevated ground at the base of Moti Dungari hill in Rajasthan. Built entirely in the finest quality white marble, the temple has some beautifully carved sculptures and idols. It is dedicated to Lord Lakshmi Narayan also known as Lord Vishnu of the Hindu trinity. The three main domes of the temple represent a very clear picture of secular India as they portray different approaches to the religions of the nation. The temple has some of the most beautifully crafted idols of Lord Ganesh and other Hindu Gods. Along with the idols of Gods, one can find statues of great thinkers and philosophers like Buddha and Socrates. Birla Mandir comes to life as a magical palace during the festival of Janmashtami, which is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Krishna. The whole temple is decorated beautifully with flowers, and in the evening, the temple glows as it is illuminated with a thousand lights.

Albert Hall

Set in Jaipur’s spacious Ram Niwas Gardens, this stately building designed by Sir Swinton Jacob was modeled on London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Combining the elements of English and north Indian architecture, it was known as the pride of the New Jaipur when it opened in 1887 AD. It houses a collection of exhibits of Rajasthani folk arts. Various other exhibits include rare stone carvings dating back to the 2nd century and some fine miniatures along with an Egyptian mummy. But the prize possession is a magnificent late 16th century Persian garden carped, considered one of the finest carpets ever woven.

Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh

Located 6 miles east of Jaipur is Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh, a little palace lad out in formal terraced gardens with fountains. It bears the name of the clan of a princess from Udaipur who was married to Raja Sawai Jai Singh II. It was merely a political marriage between the two antagonistic states, one of the terms of which was that the son born of this union would succeed to the Jaipur throne. But tired of the constant intrigue against her at Jaipur’s City Palace and fearful for the life of her son, the unhappy princess came here to live under its domed and canopied roof. The upper story of the palace has some charming murals of hunting scenes, polo matches, mythical beasts and episodes from the life of Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha.

Govind Dev Ji Temple

A vital part of the City Palace complex, this Krishna temple has been highly revered by the royal family. Sawai Jai Singh installed the image of Govind Dev ji (an incarnation of Lord Krishna) after it was brought from Vrindavan. Housed within the sanctum of this spireless temple, the patron deity of the royal family is worshipped by most of the Hindus in the city and nearby areas. The image is unveiled seven times daily for prayers and offerings. The idols of Radha-and Krishna are dressed in different styles each time for the procession where thousands of devotees gather around the courtyard.


The Temple of Galtaji is an ancient pilgrimage site famous for its natural water springs. Temples, pavilions and holy kunds (natural springs and water tanks) can be found among the lush landscape of the complex. In all, there are seven tanks, the holiest being the Galta Kund, which never goes dry. It is considered auspicious to take bath in the holy waters of Galtaji. Thousands of people come every year to take a dip in the tanks to rinse out their sins. The main temple is the Temple of Galtaji, built in pink stone. It is famous due to the large tribe of monkeys who live there. Another temple of note within the complex is the Surya Temple dedicated to the Sun God. The temple is decked with rounded roofs, exquisitely carved pillars and painted walls.

Moti Doongri

Moti Doongri Palace stands out eccentrically among the old Rajput palaces. Originally a small fort called Shankar Garh (Shiva’s Fortress), it was renovated by Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II and restyled to look like a Scottish castle. It was one of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II’s favorite palaces and was the location for glittering parties that he hosted for his intimate circle of friends.

Kanak Vrindavan

The Kanak Vrindavan is an exquisitely landscaped garden with a beautifully carved temple. It is a vast complex with terrace sites all around and intricately carved marble columns and lattices. Located in the foothills of Nahargarh on the way towards Amber, this complex is a popular spot for picnics and film shoots.

Jaisalmer Fort

Jaisalmer Fort, also known as Sonar Kilar, or the Golden Fort, looks like a child’s giant sandcastle. But this is in fact the ultimate in desert forts, dominating the landscape for miles around from its spot at the top of Trikuta Hill. One of the fascinating things about the fort is its color: its massive sandstone walls are a tawny lion color during the day, turning to a magical honey-gold as the sun sets. Jaisalmer Fort stands on a triangular hill 250 feet high, enclosed by a thick, crenellated wall over 30 feet high and reinforced with 99 bastions, most of which were built in the mid-17th century. Remarkably, these walls used no mortar at all. They were made entirely from huge, intricately interlocking blocks of stone. At one time the town of Jaisalmer lay entirely within the fort walls but sometimes in the 17th century, part of the town moved outside, on the leeward side, protected by the hill and the fort itself. However, much of the town still lives within the fort, making it a kind of living museum. Walking through it at night, especially, is like stepping into a time machine and going straight back to the 14th century.

You enter the fort up a steep incline paved with enormous flagstones, through a series of four huge gates, passing along the way a second fort wall running parallel to the outer one, and rising to half its height. Reaching the innermost gate, Hawa Pol (Gate of the Winds), you enter the spacious Chauhata Square. This is the heart of the fort complex. In front are the palaces of the maharajas. Toward the left is a flight of marble steps topped by a white marble throne, where the maharaja used to sit, listening to petitions or reviewing his troops. To the side of the square is Rao Jaisal’s well where the sage Eesul is supposed to have shown Rao Jaisal the prophecy of Lord Krishna carved on a rock.

As you enter the fort’s palace, you find it is actually a maze of interconnecting palaces, the oldest of which is Juna Mahal dating back to the early 16th century. Rang Mahal, built in the 18th century, is especially interesting with its richly frescoed walls (look for the scenes of old Jaisalmer, Jaipur and Udaipur). Equally interesting is the slightly older Sarvottam Vilas, with its blue tiles and glass mosaics. Also within the fort are some old Jain temples dating back to the 12th century. The most interesting are the temples of Rishabhdev and Chandraprabhu. Rishabhdev Temple has a splendidly carved torana archway over its entrance, and a striking group of tirhankara images, with jeweled eyes that sparkle in the dark. Next door is Sambhavnatha Temple. It has a fabulous library in the basement, reputed to contain some of India’s oldest and rarest palm-leaf manuscripts, dating back to the 11th century.

Patwon ki Haveli

One of the remarkable things about Jaisalmer is the havelis, or mansions, built by its wealthy merchants and nobles in the 19th century. They are famed for their exquisitely carved sandstone facades-a feat of stone-carving not matched anywhere else in India. The largest and most elaborate of these havelis is Patwon ki Haveli (Mansion of the Brocade Merchants), built in 1805 by Guman Chand Patwa, a merchant and banker, who is said to have had three hundred trading centers between Afghanistan and China. Built for his five sons, this ornate five-storied complex took fifty years to complete. It stands in the privacy of a little cul-de-sac, behind a lofty arched gateway. Its entire frontage is beautifully carved, with its 60 latticed balconies looking as if they have been carved from sandlewood rather than from stone. Inside are the remnants of some fine old murals.

Gadisar Lake

This tank, south of the city walls, once held the town water supply, and befitting its importance in providing precious water to the inhabitants of this arid city, it is surrounded by small temples and shrines. The beautiful yellow sandstone gateway arching across the road down to the tank is the Tilon-ki-Pol, built by a famous courtesan, Telia. When she offered to pay to have this gateway constructed, the Maharaja refused to walk under it as he felt that this would be beneath his dignity. While he was away, she built the gate, shrewdly adding a Krishna temple on top so that king could not tear it down.

Gyan Bhandar

Gyan Bhandar is situated in the center of the city; it was originally established as an adjunct to the famous Jain temples. But over the years it has accumulated a wealth of historical treasures. Some of the oldest manuscripts in the country are preserved here. Founded in 1500 by Acharya Maharaj Jin Bhadra Suri, this small underground vault houses priceless ancient illustrated manuscripts, some dating from the 11th century. Other exhibits include astrological charts and the Jain version of the Shroud of Turin: the Shroud of Gindhasuri, a Jain hermit and holy man who died in Ajmer. In a small locked cabinet are the images of Parasnath made of ivory and various precious stones, including emerald and crystal.

Salim Singh Ki Haveli

The third of the great havelis is the one built by the scheming Prime Minister, Salim Sigh, in 1815. What makes it unique is the way it is narrow at the base, but suddenly flares out its cantilevered upper story. The haveli has a beautiful arched roof, capped with blue cupolas and superbly carved details. Do not miss its elegant peacock brackets.

Lodhruva Jain Temple

The ancient Bhatti capital of Lodhruva lies just 16 miles from Jaisalmer. You can still see traces of the ruins of the city in the desert, but the one monument that is intact is the Jain Temple of Parshvanatha. Rebuilt in the 17th century, its ornate torana archway is perhaps the finest example of its kind in Rajasthan. Inside the temple is a Kalpavriksha, a representation of the Celestial Tree, with its carved copper leaves, believed to have the power to bestow any favor asked of it by a devotee. Nearby is the bed of the River Kak that has now run dry. Legend associates it with the star-crossed lovers, Prince Mahendru of Amarkot and the beautiful Princess Moomal who lives on the banks of the River Kak. Separated by a tragic misunderstanding they were reunited too late; weakened by their travails they died in each other’s arms. That day the River Kak, they say, dried up in sadness and has not flowed since.

Mool Sagar

Maharawal Moolraj II built the Moolsagar complex in 1815 AD. You will find numerous wells, the Moolsagar Garden and a splendid Raj Mahal built on its premises. Maharaja Moolsagar was known for his patronage to art and artisans and that becomes pretty evident when you come across some great murals on the palace walls. He definitely had a considerable influence on the wazirs and land-lords. Therefore his patronage to the art and architecture was resonated among his nobles and subjects. It was mainly due to his efforts that so many lovely palaces and structures were built in that period which was influenced by both the Mughal and Rajput schools of art.

Nathmal Ki Haveli

Even more beautifully carved is Nathmal ki Haveli, built by a Prime Minister of Jaisalmer as late as 1885. Its facade is a riot of ornamentation: flowers, birds, elephants, soldiers, as well as a bicycle and even a steam engine! It was carved by two brothers, Hathu and Lallu, each of whom completed one side of haveli. You can see how the whole looks perfectly harmonious but the right and left side differ in their details. Also, extraordinarily, the building was carved out of boulders-not dressed stone-and you can see the raw boulder faces in the fascinating rooms inside. Paintings in miniature style monopolize the walls in the interior, while mighty tuskers carved out of yellow sandstone stand guard to the Nathmal Ki Haveli.

Tazia Tower

An architectural tribute to the history of Jaisalmer is Badal Vilas, also known as Mandir Palace, the current residence of the Royal Family. This multi-storied structure, also referred to as the Cloud Palace, is located near Amar Sagar Gate and consists of a complex of buildings with elaborately carved facades. Rising out of the Cloud Palace is the Tazia Tower, a multi-tiered tower built by Muslim stone-carvers. Tazia Tower was built in the 20th century as a gift to the people and rulers of Jaisalmer. Presently, part of the palace is used as a hotel and restaurant, though it still retains many of the galleries and paintings of the bygone era.

Mehrangarh Fort

There are many great fortresses all over Rajasthan, but very few can compare with Mehrangarh Fort. Perched on a ricky cliff 400 feet about the plain, it has a commanding view of the surrounding landscape. In fact, you can see from here all the way to the fort of Kumbhalgarh, 80 miles away. Mehrangarh Fort seems to grow out of the living rock itself, and, indeed, in parts the rock face was hewn to form its ramparts. The approach to Mehrangarh Fort, up a zigzag pathway and through seven fortified gateways, is an arduous one. You enter through the towering Jai Pol (Gate of Victory). At Dedh Kangra Pol, you can see the marks of cannon balls once fired by the Jaipur armies in their attempt to capture Jodhpur in 1807. After Dedh Kangra Pol, there is a sharp U-turn to thwart would-be attackers, and finally you come to Loha Pol, the 15th-century Iron Gate, beside which you can see the handprints of 15 royal satis, Jodhpur widows who immolated themselves on the funeral pyres of their dead husbands. On the Mehrangarh Fort ramparts, which are 130 feet high in some places, you can see a battery of fine medieval cannons.

Mehrangarh Fort itself is divided broadly into three areas: the outer court, with its old stables and kitchens; the durbar hall, reception rooms, and maharaja’s palaces; and, finally, the zenana, or queens’ palaces. This palace complex, constructed around a series of interconnecting courtyards and adorned with breathtakingly carved sandstone filigree work, was first built in 1459 and added to, over the centuries, by successive generations of maharajas. It is one of the most impressive palace complexes in Rajasthan. On your right, as you enter, is the white marble coronation throne, where every ruler of Jodhpur has been crowned since the 15th century.

Mehrangarh Fort’s museum is one of the finest museums in Rajasthan and certainly the best laid out. In the palanquin section of the fort museum you can see an interesting collection of old royal palanquins, including the elaborate domed gilt mahadola palanquin, which was won in battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730. Next comes the howdah section, with perhaps one of the finest collections of ornate elephant howdahs in the world. Continue on to Maan Vilas, housing one of the finest collections of weapons in India: everything from medieval mortars shaped like crocodiles to shields decorated with semi-precious stones. The swords here are particularly noteworthy. They range from exquisite Mughal swords (including the sword of Emperor Akbar himself) to Rao Jodha’s enormous khanda sabre with a straight blade, weighing over seven pounds.

As you pass into Umaid Vilas you will see an excellent collection of miniature paintings from all the major schools of Rajasthan. From here you enter Takhat Mahal, a huge royal bedchamber with exquisitely lacquered walls depicting scenes of dancing girls and legendary lovers. Going up the stairs you come to Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), which is perhaps more impressive than Moti Mahal. Built in the 18th century as a Hall of Private Audience, it has magnificently painted walls depicting the various musical ragas (classical Indian patterns of melody and rhythm) and their changing moods. In Sardar Vilas there are some classic examples of Jodhpur’s celebrated traditional woodwork, including an array of doors in a variety of styles, superbly carved, lacquered, ornamented with gilt and inlaid with ivory.

Through Khab ka Mahal, which used to house the office of the Prime Minister, and an old conference room for Rathor’s nobles, you come to Jhanki Mahal (Palace of the Glimpses). This palace got its name from the exquisitely carved sandstone lattice windows, thought which the ladies used to view the world outside, without themselves being seen by prying eyes. The stone latticework here is so fine, it actually resembles lace. There are nearly 250 latticework patterns used all over the palace complex, each of which has its own name. Here there is also a fascinating display of royal infants’ cradles, which range from the exotic to the idiosyncratic. Do not miss the splendidly mirrored cradle with the peacock motifs.

Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace) is a throne room built in the late 16th century. Judging from its magnificence and size, it was originally conceived as a Hall of Public Audience. Its ceiling is gorgeously embellished with mirror-work and gilt. Its wall are lustrously polished, and decorated with a triple band of ornate niches in which lamps once flickered, reflecting off the polished walls. At the far end is an octagonal silver throne, a rare and priceless heirloom dating back to the 17th century. A museum houses a very interesting collection of over a hundred different types of turbans from the different parts of Rajasthan, including a strange hunting turban with a visor and a backflap, as well as traditional musical instruments and potteries.

Umaid Bhawan Palace

The enormous Umaid Bhawan Palace has the distinction of having been one of the largest private residences in the world. It has 347 rooms and used over 2.5 million cubic feet of sandstone and marble. It is a splendid example of Indo-colonial and art deco architecture of the 1930s. The interior of the palace was decorated in the Beaux Arts and Art Deco styles. And it incorporated everything from two theaters and an indoor swimming pool to its own central air-cooling plant. A portion of the palace has been converted into a hotel, the other remains on view to visitors in the form of an excellent museum which houses model airplanes, weapons, antique clocks, priceless crockery and hunting trophies. Both sections retain the ambience of royal splendor.

Mandore Garden

Mandore, located about 5 miles north of Jodhpur, was the former capital of the maharajas of Mewar, but was later abandoned for the security of Mehrangarh Fort. Here you will find the dewals, or cenotaphs, of Jodhpur's former rulers. Unlike the usual chhatri-shaped cenotaphs typical of Rajasthan, they were built along the lines of a Hindu temple, four stories high, with fine columns and an elegant spire, all in red sandstone. The most impressive is the dewal of Maharaja Ajit Singh. These cenotaphs are set in beautiful landscaped gardens.

Nearby is the Hall of Heroes (also called The Shrine of the Three Hundred Million Gods), dedicated to various deities and fabled Rajput folk heroes, whose statues (each one astride his steed) are carved out of rock and painted in bright colors. Next door is a small temple dedicated to Behru, with two huge statues framing and effigy of Ganesh. And as you climb up the hill, you come to the ruined city of Mandore, with the old summer palace of Abhai Singh.

Jaswant Thada

On the way down from the fort, on left is Jaswant Thada, the graceful marble cenotaph of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. His son, Maharaja Sardar Singh, built this monument known as “The Taj Mahal of Marwar” in his memory. The main memorial has been built like a temple with intricately carved marble stone. Hidden in the rocky hills, Jaswant Thada has secluded and mystic aura.

Khajuraho Temples

One of the most popular tourist destinations in India, Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculpture. The Khajuraho group of monuments has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is considered to be one of the "seven wonders" of India. Of the 85 original temples-most constructed of hard river sandstone about 20 are still reasonably well preserved.

Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

Kandariya Mahadeva is one of the 25 remaining temples in Khajuraho’s Word Heritage Site. The largest and tallest of the temples, Kandariya Mahadeva is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The walls of the temple feature hundreds of carved statues the lives and escapades of the Chandela Rajput dynasty that used Khajuraho as the epicenter of its religious rites.

Duladeo Temple

Duladeo Temple is one of the 25 Hindu temples in the World Heritage city of Khajuraho, India. Originally part of a much larger temple city containing an estimated 85 distinct structures dedicated to various gods in the Hindu pantheon, Duladeo is dedicated to the god Shiva.

Devi Jagadambi Temple

Devi Jagadambi is one of the 25 remaining temples in Khajuraho's World Heritage site. World renowned for the decorative carvings, many of them erotic in nature, that wrap the structure's walls in bands, the temples are a frequent stop on tours of India.

Lakshmana Temple

Lakshmana is the oldest and most intricately decorated of the many Hindu temples in the city of Khajuraho, India. Each of the 22 temple structures in the city is dedicated to a different deity, and is all that remain of a sprawling temple city that once contained 85 separate structures.

Archaeological Museum

Visitors to the Archaeological Museum in Khajuraho are greeted by a 1,000 year-old statue of the elephant-headed god, Ganesh. The museum houses hundreds of loose sculptures and friezes gathered from the temple grounds spread throughout the city. With multiple galleries brimming with ancient carvings and sculptures, the museum offers educational context for travelers on tours of India to further illuminate the many temples of Khajuraho.

City Palace

The City Palace in Udaipur is a blend of stern Rajput military architecture on the outside and lavish Mughal-inspired decorative art on the inside. Set on a hill overlooking Pichola Lake, the City Palace is a sprawling edifice made up of at least four separate, interconnecting palaces, built over a period of nearly three centuries. The entire palace is oriented to face the east. The earliest parts of the City Palace are reminiscent of the architectural style of Chittorgarh, but subsequent additions show an interesting evolution of style, although this is sometimes disguised by later remodeling. You enter the palace through two great gates, Bari Pol and Tripolia Pol, and carved torana archways. The maharajas used to be weighed here, and their equivalent in gold was then distributed to charity. Through Ganesh Deori, dedicated to the god of fortune, with its kitschy Japanese tiles, you come to Raj Angan, built in 1559, the oldest part of the palace. Legend says this was the very spot where Rana Udai Singh II met the sage who suggested this local for his new capital, and that the first thing he built was the Dhuni Mata Temple you see here.

Climbing a flight of steep steps you come to Bari Mahal, a delightful garden, nearly 90 feet above ground. Around the garden is a marble courtyard with a square, central pool and fluted columns, reminiscent of the Mughal style. This was once a royal playground. Old miniature paintings portray the maharajas at play with the ladies of their court, sprinkling them with colored water during Holi. Looking down from here you can see the courtyard below, where Udaipur’s great elephant fights were once staged. Beyond this lies Dilkhush Mahal (Palace of Joy), originally built in the 1620s, with two splendid chambers, Kanch ki Burj and Chitran ki Burj. Kanch ki Burj is a 19th century Sheesh Mahal, with elaborate gray and red mirror-work walls and ceilings, set off by a carved ivory door. Chitran ki Burj is a little 18th century masterpiece, its walls covered with frescos of hunting scenes, festivals and court life in princely Udaipur.

Next you see the 18th century Chini Chitrashala (Porcelain Painted Gallery), with its striking blue Dutch inlaid tile work, and amusing European influence that suddenly appears to compete with the Rajput and Mughal styles of the rest of the palace. Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace) is another Sheesh Mahal in the City Palace. Its walls are decorated with plates of mirror-work and colored glass, creating a magical interplay of reflections. Beside it is Bhim Vilas, a small prayer room with fine murals depicting episodes from the life of Lord Krishna and Radha. Across the courtyard is Priyatam Niwas, the simple apartment where Maharaja Bhopal Singh used to live, right up until 1955. You can see some of his memorabilia here, including his wheelchair. Below these apartments is the grand Mor Chowk (Peacock Courtyard), its wall covered with a dramatic mosaic relief of dancing peacocks. Nearby is another well-known feature of the palace, Surya Gokhra (Sun Window), from where the maharajas would appear to the people during times of misfortune.

Manak Mahal (Ruby Palace) was built in 1620 as a dining room. It has walls inlaid with ornate mirror-work and colored glass. Inside it are the amusing mosaics of 18th century Englishmen being served wine by Rajput maidens. The City Palace museum contains a wonderful collection of old Rajput weaponry. One of the weapons looks like an ordinary sword, but is actually a traditional two-swords-in-one scabbard (which you would draw simultaneously so you have a sword in each hand). Somewhat more dangerous looks are the old maces and an arrow with a large crescent-shaped arrowhead (allowing you to aim for the throat and slice off your victim’s head). Other historic pieces include Maharaja Pratap’s suit of armor and the war bugle and drums of Rana Sanga.

Lake Pichola

Perhaps the best way to see Udaipur is by boat on Pichola Lake, preferably at sunset, sailing past its picturesque ghats and palaces. Pichola Lake was originally created in the 15th century by a Banjara grain merchant, who built a small dam here in order to allow his grain carts to cross over during the monsoon. As you sail toward the north of the city, you pass slowly by its various sights: first, the old hillside hunting box of the maharajas and the remnants of the old fortified walls, the City Palace, with its high towers and turrets; the lakeside havelis of the old city, with their cupola balconies reflected in the waters of the lake, and the high, triple-arched Gangaur Ghat where women bathe and was their clothes and where the colorful Ganguar festival is celebrated each year in spring. Finally, past the lakeside temples, you come to the island palaces of jag Niwas and Jag Mandir.

Chittorgarh Fort

Chittorgarh, the awe-inspiring hill fort built on a massive rock, lies 72 miles northeast of Udaipur. It was said that this fort was the key to all of Rajputana, and any conqueror would have to gain control of it first. It is considered by many to be the finest medieval Hindu fort in existence. But more than that, it is cloaked in legends of valor, chivalry and glorious death and occupies a preeminent position in the Rajput psyche.

Chittorgarh was built in the 8th century by Bappa Rawal, the first of the great Sisodia rulers. Between then and 1567 it fell victim to three sieges, which resulted bloody battles that saw the defenders eventually defeated by invaders from Afghanistan. Rather than face slavery at the hands of their captors, the women of the royal families committed Jauhar, a Rajput tradition where the defeated self-immolate rather than face dishonor.

The ascent to the Chittorgarh Fort is by a steep, winding road, defended by seven fortified gateways. Past the Chittorgarh Fort wall is the oldest palace of Chittorgarh, Rana Kumbha’s palace, with its beautiful series of canopied balconies and a stepped outer wall. Opposite this palace lies Kunwar Pade ka Mahal (Crown Prince’s Palace), a wonderful example of early Rajput architecture. Just beyond lies the imposing temple of Vra-ji, built by Rana Kumbha, and, nearby, the temple of Mirabi, the celebrated 16th-century poet-saint.

The real architectural masterpiece at Chittorgarh, however, is Rana Kumbha’s great Vijaystambha (Tower of Victory), built in a Jain revivalist style. It has been restored subsequently, but if you look at the upper stories, you can see the splendidly carved original panels, depicting a variety of Hindu gods and goddesses as well as scenes from the Hindu epic the Ramayana. As you walk south from the Tower of Victory, you come to the Mahasati, the terrace where the maharajas were cremated. Just beyond this lies Gomukh, a large tank, fed by a perennial spring through a rock carved with the face of a cow.

South of the Gomukh tank are the ruins of a row of great mansions, including those of the heroes who defended Chittorgarh-Patta and Jaimal. These two palaces were among the last of the monuments to be built in the fort before its destruction in 1567. Patta’s palace echoes the style of the palace of Rana Kumbha and Kunwar Pade ka Mahal, with a stepped wall and rich decorations. A close look reveals the ornamented blue tiles that once adorned many of the buildings here. Jaimal’s palace, on the other hand, is solid and austere, but displays the perfect symmetry of plan that can be traced back to even the oldest Rajput palaces. Nearby is the Bundi Chief’s palace, with its beautiful old pool, lined with bathing terraces, and beyond it lie the ruins of Chittorgarh’s old Pearl Market.

Toward the south end of the Chittorgarh Fort is Kalika Mata Temple, originally dedicated to Surya, the sun god. It dates back to the 8th century, making it the oldest structure in the fort. Still further south, beyond Chonda’s Palace, lies the palace of Rani Padmini. According to legend, she is said to have been a Sri Lankan princess, so fair and delicate that when she drank water, you could see it pass through her throat! The original palace was a beautiful water palace, a forerunner of the later Jag Mandir and Jag Niwas in Udaipur.

Jag Mandir

This older water palace, built in 1620 by Karan Singh, played an important role in Udaipur’s history. The Mughal prince, Khurram, exiled by his father, Emperor Jahangir, chose to seek refuge here. Jag Mandir owes its name to Jagat Singh, Khurram’s some, who was announced as the new Emperor Shah Jahan upon his father’s death in 1627, and transformed the palace quite considerably. His close relationship with the Mewar led to an important new era of peace, prosperity and architectural renaissance in Udaipur. The island has some striking carvings including a row of elephants that look like guarding the island. The exquisitely carved chatri in grey and blue stone also attracts the visitors.


These beautiful gardens, Saheliyon Ki Bari (Gardens of the Maids of Honor), were laid out in the mid-18th century for a retinue of 48 young ladies-in-waiting who were sent to Udaipur as part of a princess’s dowry. The gardens have beautiful lawns, lotus pools, marble pavilions and marble elephant-shaped fountains. Once the site for royal picnics, the gardens are now a public park.

Monsoon Palace

High on a hilltop just outside of Udaipur lies the dramatic 18th century palace, Sajjangargh, also called the Monsoon Palace, with a breathtaking view of the Mewar countryside. On a clear day you can see the fortress of Chittorgarh Fort. Originally intended to be a towering five-story astronomical center, it was later abandoned and used as a monsoon palace and hunting lodge. Today the Monsoon Palace is famous for its fantastic views of Udaipur. The drive up to the palace is through a small wildlife sanctuary, although sightings are uncommon. At night the palace is lit pink and green. Interestingly, the palace was used in the James Bond film Octopussy as the residence of Kamal Khan, an exiled Afghan prince.

Jain Temple

You may want to tour the famous 15th Century marble temple that is still an active place of worship. Although it is a 2.5 hour to 3 hour drive (each way) from Udaipur, most tourists visiting Udaipur devote a day to this excursion. Part of the attraction is the great drive through the hills and rural communities.

Deep in the forest lies the huge 15th-century Adinathi Temple at Ranakpur. It is the largest and most complex Jain temple in India, with 29 halls covering 4,320 square yards. Holding up its domes and spires are 420 ornately carved pillars. The construction of the main shrine took 50 years. The temple is one of the five great holy places of the Jain sect. Dedicated to the first tirthankara, Adinatha, it has 29 rooms supported by more than 1,400 interior pillars. It is so complex in form and overwhelming in scale that at first it leaves you quite bewildered. But, as you walk though its chambers, the pattern gradually emerges. It is designed in a cruciform plan, with four separate entrances, one on each side. Each of these leads, through a series of columned halls, to the central court and cruciform with its four faced Adinatha image. The temple is enclosed on all four sides by rows of chapels (86 in all), and is topped by 20 domes and five spires.

What makes the Adinatha Temple truly remarkable, of course, is the fact that all these grand architectural elements are completely covered with carvings, so profuse and so intricate that they resemble lace-work, rather than stone-carving. The ceilings are decorated with geometric patterns and scrollery; the domes are embellished with ornate concentric friezes and descending pendants; the brackets supporting the domes are designed with dancing goddesses. And when you study the richly carved pillars, you will realize that each one of them is carved with a different pattern from the rest. Look out also for one of the columns facing the sanctum, on which there is a small panel depicting a man with his hands joined. This is supposed to be Dharna Sah, the man who built this temple, while the figure next to him is Depa, his sculptor and architect. Another remarkable thing about the temple is the wonderful play of shadow and light, as the sun’s rays shift through the day, changing the pillars’ colors from gold to pale blue.

There are two other temples nearby, a 15th century Jain Parshvanatha temple, remarkable especially for its ornately pierced stone windows, and another 15th-century Hindu Surya temple.

Crystal Gallery

Just south of the City Palace is Shiv Niwas and Fateh Prakash. Both were originally intended to be guest houses for the personal guests of the maharajas, but have now been turned into hotels. The smaller Fateh Prakash has some of the most exquisite Mewar miniature paintings from the Maharaja’s private collections. Fateh Prakash Palace is also home to a breathtaking collection of crystals. The crystal items include tables, sofa sets, dining tables, dressers, fountains and even beds besides a whole array of washing bowls, decanters and perfume bottles. There is also an exquisite jewel studded carpet.

Ghats of Varanasi

Varanasi is a holy city in Hinduism, being one of the most sacred pilgrimage places for Hindus of all denominations and is one of seven most holy places for Hindus in India. Varanasi is the ideal opportunity to experience some of Hinduisms ancient and iconic rituals. The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river's religious importance. Hindus believe that bathing in the Ganges remits sins and that dying in Varanasi ensures release of a person's soul from the cycle of its transmigrations. As the place where Siddhartha Gautama gave his first sermon to his disciples, Varanasi is also the city where Buddhism was founded. The rich cultural heritage and tradition of Varanasi makes it the cultural capital of India.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple

In a holy city filled to bursting with temples and religious monuments, Kashi Vishwanath Temple stands apart as a beacon to the devout. Dedicated to the Hindu deity Lord Shiva, Vishwanath on the banks of the Ganges River in the city of Varanasi is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India that function as the most sacred pilgrimages points on the Indian subcontinent for Hindus.

Practitioners of the Hindu religion are expected to make the pilgrimage to Vishwanath and bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges River at least once in their lifetimes. Though numerous religious structures (both Muslim and Hindu) have occupied the site throughout much of Varanasi’s 3,000 year history, the current temple structure was completed in 1780.

Ajanta & Ellora Caves

Buddhist monks and craftsmen began excavating and decorating the Ajanta Caves in the 2nd century BC. Filled with an incredible variety of paintings and sculptures, the Ajanta Caves are some of the most splendid examples of Buddhist art and architecture found in India.

Bibi ka Maqbara

The Bibi ka Maqbara was built in 1678 by Azam Shah as a loving tribute to his mother, Begum Rabia Durrani, the Queen of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Often referred to as "The Deccani Taj," the tomb was created as an intentional rival to Agra’s Taj Mahal.


Panchakki is a watermill with surrounding gardens in Aurangabad used to grind grain for pilgrims since the late 17th century.

The mill is ingeniously powered by a series of earthen pipes stretching to a natural well several miles away. The mill building is attached to the shrine of Baba Shah Musafir, a Sufi Muslim saint. In its day, the hydro-mill was considered an engineering marvel; a title that still rings true four centuries later as the water-powered machinery still turns the grinding stones. The ground grain was given to Sufi pilgrims visiting the saint’s grave in the adjoining building.

Daulatabad Fort

Once known as “Deviri,” this magnificent 12th century fortress dominates a hilltop just a few miles from Aurangabad. It was given the name Daulatabad, “City of Fortune,” by Muhammad Tughluq, Sultan of Delhi, in the 14th century.

The Turkic sultan so favored the fortress city that he forced the entire population of Delhi to march some 500 miles to Daulatabad when he shifted his capital there in 1327.
Situated in the district of Alappuzha, in Kerala, this 75 km region between Kollam & Kochi is renown all over the world for it's scenic beauty, and the lifestyle of the people that have inhabited the area for thousands of years. The backwaters of Kerala are a combination of countless rivers, canals, lakes and streams, surrounded by lush vegetation. The people and their habitat have seen little change over many centuries, and the idyllic beauty you will witness has retained it's languid charm for that long.

A cruise along these waters lets you discover spectacular views, as well as giving you a view of the homes and lifestyle of the fishermen and farmers that make this part of Kerala their home. Most travel and transport is done by the traditional longboats; fishermen operate their Chinese fishing nets at the shores and use row boats to fish in the waters. All our scheduled stops at Kochi (Cochin) include a day spent cruising these legendary waterways.

Fort St. George

Fort St. George was the first British fortress in India, founded in 1639 at the coastal city of Madras, the modern city of Chennai. The construction of the Fort provided the impetus for further settlements and trading activity, in what was originally a no man's land. St. Mary’s Church, the oldest Anglican Church in India built in 1680 is located inside the fort. The tombstones in its courtyard are some of the oldest British tombstones in India. The weddings of Robert Clive and Governor Elihu Yale, who later founded the famous Yale University in the U.S.A, were officiated at St. Mary’s. The Fort Museum was completed in 1795 and first housed the office of the Madras Bank. The hall upstairs was the Public Exchange Hall and served as a place for public meetings, lottery draws and occasional entertainment. These relics are reminders of British rule in India. The museum’s collection features weapons, coins, medals, uniforms and other artifacts from England, Scotland, France and India dating back to the colonial period. Original letters written by Clive and Cornwallis make fascinating reading. One set of quaint period uniforms is displayed for viewing, as well. However, the most celebrated artifact is a large statue of Lord Cornwallis.

Santhome Cathedral Basilica

San Thome Cathedral Basilica gets its name from St. Thomas. Christian tradition holds that St. Thomas arrived in Kerala from Israel in 52 A.D. preached between 52 A.D. and 72 A.D., when he was martyred on St. Thomas Mount. The basilica is built over the site where he was believed originally to be interred. It was built in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers, and rebuilt again with the status of a cathedral by the British in 1893. The British version still stands today. It was designed in the Neo-Gothic style, favored by British architects in the late 19th century. Rising 155 feet from the ground, with a nave of 112 feet by 33 feet, and an imposing sanctuary 62 feet long and 33 feet wide, it is adorned with stained glass windows depicting St. Thomas and the other Apostles. Inside the sanctuary is a statue of St. Thomas seated. An ancient painting of Our Blessed Mother, in front of which the other great apostle of India, St. Francis Xavier, used to pray, is a notable work of art within the Basilica. The new underground chapel with a separate access outside the church structure, allows pilgrims to pray at the tomb and tourists to visit it, without disturbing the sacred functions in the church. The museum exhibits artefacts connected with St. Thomas and the Basilica, and the theatre is used for screening a short video on the life of the Apostle.

Vivekananda House & Museum

Vivekananda House, also known as Ice House, is a shrine and target of pilgrimage for the devotees of Swami Vivekananda. It is in this house that Swami Vivekananda stayed in 1897. During his nine day stay, he shook India’s national consciousness through his fiery lectures at Chennai. Built in 1842, the two-story house is a masterpiece of Victorian architecture with its characteristic designs of sunburst and gabled roof. The bedroom where Vivekananda stayed, lived and slept is now a safe haven for meditation. One can respectfully see the table at which he dined, placed downstairs near the fireplace. Devotees can stroll through the kitchen where he cooked his simple food, the parlor where he spoke and the garden where he frequently played with the children. These physical reminders of the life of Swami Vivekananda revive the great principles for which he stood all his life. Vivekananda House now houses a permanent exhibition on Indian culture and Swami Vivekananda’s life, as well as a meditation room, and is a source of inspiration to thousands of people who visit it every year.

National Art Gallery

The Government Museum Complex (also known as the Pantheon Complex) houses the Government Museum, Connemara Public Library and the National Art Gallery. Established in 1851, the museum consisting of six buildings and 46 galleries. On display you will find artifacts related to a number of disciplines including archeology, zoology, natural history, sculptures, palm-leaf manuscripts and Amravati paintings. Connemara Public Library is one of the four National Depository libraries which receive a copy of all books, newspapers and periodicals published in India. The Government Museum was established in the year 1857 and has the country’s best collection of South Indian bronzes, both ancient and modern, including beautiful bronze icons of Nataraja, Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman. The sculptures were unearthed from the Buddhist ruins at Amaravathi and are housed here. Statues from the 10th and 13th centuries and handicrafts from the 11th and 12th centuries also are seen here. The National Arts Gallery was built in 1907. This magnificent red sandstone building was designed by Henry Irwin and built by T. Namberumal Chetty. The building represents a typical Indo-Saracenic structure and was initially famous as Victoria Memorial Hall. Built with sandstone and adorned with motifs, the building bears impressions of Mughal architecture. The gallery exhibits medieval handicrafts, sculptures, metal ware and paintings belonging to various schools of art. The museum is divided into four galleries: Tanjore Painting Gallery, Decorative Art Gallery, Indian Traditional Art Gallery and Ravi Varma Painting Gallery. Of particular note are the Tanjore paintings on glass and the miniature paintings from the Rajput and Mughal eras.

St. Thomas Mount

This 300 foot high hill is believed to be the place where St. Thomas was martyred. St Thomas was the first Christian to set foot on Indian shores. One of Christ`s apostles (the famous Doubting Thomas), he arrived in India within a couple of decades of the crucifixion. Having landed on the Kerala coast, St. Thomas moved to what is now Chennai and is believed to have lived in a tiny cave atop this hill. Today a simple church built by the Portuguese in the 16th century forms the entrance to the cave which houses a large image of St. Thomas. The other church atop the mount was built much later to commemorate the martyrdom of St. Thomas. His remains are preserved in the San Thome Cathedral located near the southern end of the Marina Beach. Among the interesting relics in the church is an old stone cross that the apostle is said to have clutched in his hand while dying. The blood-like stains on the cross have given it the name Bleeding Cross and the mystic stains on it have to this day been found to be too deep to be removed. On the wall above the altar is an oil painting of the Madonna that was brought to India by St. Thomas and is believed to be one of the seven that were painted by St. Luke.

Valluvar Kottam

Valluvar Kottam is dedicated to the classical Tamil poet, philosopher and saint Thiruvalluvar. The monument was constructed in 1976 in the memory of Thiruvalluvar, who wrote his famous Thirukkural about 2,000 years ago. All the 133 chapters of the Thirukkural, which include 1330 verses, are inscribed on bas-relief in the front hall corridors. The construction of Valluvar Kottam is like a temple chariot, and it is a replica of the temple chariot in Thiruvarur. A life-size statue of the poet-saint has been installed in the 128 foot-high chariot. The auditorium at Valluvar Kottam is said to be the largest in Asia and it can accommodate about 4000 people. The latest additions in this complex are paintings depicting themes from Thirukkural.

Guindy National Park

Guindy National Park is one of the smallest national parks in India, and one of the few to be found in a metro area. The park is an addition of the grounds neighboring the official house of the governors of Tamil Nadu. Guindy National Park, a refuge for endangered and threatened species of flora and fauna, has a captivating charm. The park is home to many varieties of antelope, including the rare Indian Antelope- the black buck. Guindy National Park also has an amazing variety of birds. There are about 37 varieties of them, including blue-faced malkoha, koels, shrikes, doves, munias, minivets, barkets, king fisher, golden-backed woodpecker, blue jay, yellow wattled lapwing, crow pheasant, red drongos, robins, quails, parakeets, and tailor birds. Guindy National Park also flaunts lush natural foliage, a real treat amid the steel and glass business powerhouses of Chennai. The park is an oasis of idyllic green dotted with glittering pools. The sanctuary houses almost 24 varieties of shrubs and trees. Huge banyan trees, which are almost centuries old, are an impressive attraction.

Kapaleeswarar Temple

The Kapaleeswarar temple located at Mylapore is the defining landmark of Chennai’s religious landscape. It is an amazing symbol of how Hindu spiritual traditions have coexisted with modernity. This temple is visited by thousands, especially during Shivaratri and the famed Arupattu Moovar festival. The Teppam (float) festival, and the biweekly Pradosham festival also draw huge crowds here. This 7th century Pallava temple is known for its architecture. The temple gopuram, or tower, is made in the characteristic Dravidian style of architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple has some beautiful sculptures, including bronze idols of 63 Saivaite saints adorning the outer courtyard. Also in the courtyard under the old Punnai tree is a small shrine depicting Goddess Parvath in the form of a peacock, worshipping Lord Shiva. The form of Shiva's wife Parvati worshipped at this temple is called Karpagambal (Goddess of the Wish-Yielding Tree).

Chinese Fishing Nets

Chinese fishing nets have been an iconic part of Kochi’s coastline for five centuries.

Thought to have been brought to the Malabar Coast by the Portuguese from their colony in Macau, the nets are fixed land installations usually operated by a team of six. The shore operated lift nets’ rigging is comprised of bamboo poles set on teak wood pivot points. The cantilevered fishing net structures are about 32-feet high, and require excellent coordination between multiple people to be effectively lowered in and raised out of the water.

Saint Francis Church

Saint Francis’ Church inside Fort Kochi (Fort Cochin) is one of the first European churches built in India. The Portuguese traders who built Fort Kochi in 1503 took the same route used by the legendary Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, the first man to reach India by sea, to reach India in 1498.

Saint Francis’ Church was built over an earlier wooden church dedicated St. Bartholomew. The Portuguese Viceroy, Dom Francisco Almedia was granted permission by the Raja of Cochin for permission to rebuild the wooden church and dedicate it to Saint Anthony between 1510 and 1516.

Cochin Backwaters

Popularly known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Cochin is the oldest European settlement in India. This lovely seaside city is flanked by the Western Ghats on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. Its proximity to the equator, the sea and the mountains provide a rich experience of a moderate equatorial climate. Cochin is arguably the ideal starting point for exploring the unfathomable diversity and beauty of Kerala.

Gateway of India

Mumbai's principal landmark, the Gateway of India is a huge archway on the water's edge at Apollo Bunder. It is the starting point for most tourists who want to explore the city. It was built as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary, complete with four turrets and intricate latticework carved into the yellow basalt stone. Ironically, when the Raj ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway.

Mumbai's most striking monument, the Gateway of India’s design is a combination of both Hindu and Muslim architectural styles; the arch is in Muslim style while the decorations are in Hindu style. This awesome structure is a blend of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and a Moorish palace. Behind the arch, there are steps leading down to the water. Here, one can get onto one of the bobbing little motor launches, for a short cruise through Mumbai's splendid natural harbor. Anyone coming to Mumbai from this harbor is greeted by the huge monument, which stands as a testimony to the imperial bygone era of the city. As you pass through the gate from the city side, the first scene that looms into view is that of the waterfront of South Mumbai. A popular harbor, it is used by a large number of people for traveling to the other parts of Bombay, especially the Elephanta Island.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, in Mumbai, is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture. The building, designed by the British architect F. W. Stevens, became the symbol of Bombay as the ‘Gothic City’ and the major international mercantile port of India. The terminal was built over 10 years, starting in 1878, according to a High Victorian Gothic design based on late medieval Italian models. Its remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches and eccentric ground plan are close to traditional Indian palace architecture. It is an outstanding example of the meeting of two cultures, as British architects worked with Indian craftsmen to include Indian architectural tradition and idioms thus forging a new style unique to Bombay.

Elephanta Island

Lying in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Mumbai in Western India, Elephanta Island is an important Hindu temple site dating back to the 5th century.

The 4-square-mile island is capped by two hills dominated by rock-cut Hindu temples. The largest and most important Elephanta Cave temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. Inside, a 22-feet high bust of Shiva dominates the temple’s entryway. The bust depicts Shiva in three forms of his many aspects: creator, preserver, and destroyer.

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram

The town of Mahabalipuram (also known as Mamallapuram) is home to over forty world famous monuments including the world’s largest open air bas relief. Four of these monuments have UNESCO World Heritage Site status including the structural temples, the five Rathas (chariot temples), the Mandapas (cave temples with bas reliefs) and the rock reliefs of the area.

Five Rathas

These rock-cut temples are rated as excellent example of Pallava art. Shaped in different styles, the five structures are named after the Pandava brothers of Mahabharatha and Draupadi. These are monolithic temples, each created in a different style, they are also known as the Pancha Pandava Rathas, and the fort of the rathas are supposed to have been scooped out of a single rock formation.

Krishna Mandapam

This cave has a big bas-relief, notable for its realistic representation. The panel relates one of the stories of Lord Krishna. Bas-Relief. The World's largest bas relief measuring 27m X 9m is the pride of Mamallapuram. This huge whale back shaped rock contains figures of gods, demigods, men, beasts, birds and infact, representatives of the entire creation.

The Shore Temple

This is one of the oldest temples in South India. It belongs to the 8th Century AD and is a good example of the first phase of structural temples constructed in Dravidian style.


There are nine rock cut cave temples. The Mahishasuramardhini cave, contrasting the goddess fighting a demon on one side, and Lord Vishnu's cosmic sleep on the other, is a particularly remarkable one.

Tiger's Cave

It is 5 kms North of the main monument complex, and on the way to Chennai. It has an open-air theatre, where cultural programmes were held for the benefit of the royal family.