5 Places to visit in Dwarka

The holy city of Dwarka has grown into a tourist hotspot of late with both God lovers and vacationers pouring in large numbers. If you wish to explore Dwarka and its spiritual gravity, here are the top 5 places of Dwarka that might interest you. So read on…

Dwarka, a city in the state of Gujarat is a quintessential place of visit for the Hindus. The city bears the remains of a time when Lord Krishna, himself stayed on this land, and turned it into a holy place for ages to come. It is an essential place from the context of pilgrimage and has several places which are considered immensely important. Below are enlisted a total of five places to visit in Dwarka.

Bet Dwarka

Bet Dwarka

Bet Dwarka [Image Source: retinacharmer.com ]

The place is alternatively known as Bet Shankhodar, and has immense historical, cultural, and mythological importance. Apart from being a residential palace for Lord Krishna and his queens, the place has also served as a port for years, until the development of Okha. From Okha, one can commute via ferry to Bet Dwarka. The temple is laden with evidences from the yester years. There are numerous temples and shrines that speak of a glorious past. The key attraction on the island is the Dwarkadhish Temple. This is not all about the magnificence of the place. It also has the Jain Temples where the Tirthankaras are worshiped. The Vaishnavs also hold the place as a place of utmost importance as it has the seat of the Lord ChaitnanyaMahaprabhu. Apart from being a place of pilgrimage, it attracts millions with the availability of water sports and excursions opportunities to the visitors. There is also an active marine life that calls for visitors.

Dwarkadheesh Temple

Dwarkadheesh Temple, Gujarat

Dwarkadheesh Temple

It is considered amongst the four major Hindu pilgrimages. The literal translation of the word Dwarkadheesh is, Lord Krishna himself, who ruled over this pious city. The temple is also known by the name of Jagat temple.The structure is decorated with many idols, the main being that of Lord Vishnu. Each day, elaborate worship activities are conducted which also includes bathing and decking up the idol of Lord Krishna. Janmashtami is observed with much pomp and show, thus marking it as the most vital of all festivals here in Dwarkadheesh. According to legends, the holy city of Dwarka was built by Lord Krishna himself at a time which approximately dated back to 5000 years. The city stood on the banks of the river Gomati. The city stood strong and high for almost a century, till the Lord reigned over the place, and when the Lord set his journey onwards for his heavenly abode, the city submerged under the sea.

Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple

Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple

Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple

This temple is fondly worshiped as one of the key places of Hindu pilgrimage. The jyotirlinga situated in the temple of Nagnath is worshiped as the NageshwarJyotirlinga Temple. This is one of the 12 Jyotirling shrines that exist. The temple is located in Saurashtra, on the way between Dwarka city and Bet Dwarka. Lord Krishna worshiped the Jyotirlinga. The linga is positioned such that it faces south, and the Gomukham facing east. Naamdev, a devotee of the Lord used to sing bhajans in praise of the Lord. The other priests yelled at him and asked him to spare the sides from which the Lord was visible. He then asked the priests to suggest him a suitable side so that the view of the Lord would not be obstructed. The priests then carried him to the south side. Quite amazingly, the linga was found to be facing the south. The shape and texture of the stone of this linga is also quite astonishing and resembles a rudraksh.

Rukmini Mandir

Rukmini Temple

Rukmini Temple

This temple is situated on the banks of the Bhagirathi River. Dwarka Pilgrimage Tour is considered incomplete without a visit to this holy site. The idol is of excellent beauty, and there are four hands of the idol which hold varied items, significant to Hinduism. This four-handed idol symbolizes the reincarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. Rukmani eloped with Lord Krishna in order to marry him. There were none in her family to support her alliance with the Lord. Hence the duo chose the extreme step. However, a great battle ensued between her elder brother and the Lord, in which the Lord was victorious. To celebrate the marriage and victory in the battle, a feast was organized wherein Saint Durvasa was invited. The saint agreed on the condition that Krishna and Rukmani would pull the chariot which would carry the saint, instead of horses or bulls. As the pair pulled the chariot, thirst overpowered Rukmani and thus the Lord hit the ground, such that Bhagirathi River appeared to quench the Queen’s thirst. This angered the saint for he felt insulted as he was not offered to drink first from the river water. He cursed that the land of Dwarka would never have sweet water and Lord Krishna and his Queen Rukmani would be estranged. Thus the Rukmani Temple stands afar from the Dwarkadheesh Temple.

Gomti Ghat

Gomti Ghat

Gomti Ghat [Image Source: http://dr.swastikinfosolution.com/Product_Images/gomti-ghat.jpg]

Gomti River is one of the sacred Hindu rivers. It is a tributary of the Ganges, and originates in the Himalayas. The ghat can be reached from the SwargDwar area of the Dwarkadheesh Temple. The river meets the sea and the place is revered as a sacred place. To have a holy bath in the water is considered pivotal for the pilgrims.
These are the top five places to visit in the holy land of Dwarka.

Top 10 Beaches to Visit in Kerala

Kerala is a land of mesmerizing natural beauty. Be its hill stations or its backwaters or its temples, the land always beckons a passionate traveller. And if you love beaches, there are many in Kerala to fascinate you thoroughly. Learn about the top Kerala beaches from the article below-

Known for its back waters and silver beaches, Kerala doesn’t fail to charm its visitors. Here is a list of some of the top ten beaches of Kerala that call the ever thirsty traveller’s mind.

[ Check Out here for Kerala Customized Tour Packages ]

1- Kizhunna Ezhara Beach

Kizhunna Ezhara Beach

Kizhunna Ezhara Beach

Situated close to Kannur, Kerala, the twin beaches of KizhunnaEzhara Beach are very little known and hence less frequented. The golden hue of the sands along the coastline and the sea water, together create a beautiful ballad of beauty and ecstasy. The place is a delight for the tourists and also the picnickers who travel from far and near.

2- Kozhikode Beach

Kozhikode Beach

Kozhikode Beach

Sunrise and sundown are the two most significant moments that make for the most memorable occasions spent on beaches. This sea beach is several notches higher when it comes to experiencing both of these here. Dolphin’s Point offer the visitors a golden chance to spend with the dolphins. The light house, the aquarium, and the Lion’s Park are other favourites of the tourists. If these aren’t enough, there are also two main piers that that stand on the beach. These piers were built in the 19thcentury.

3- Lighthouse Beach

Lighthouse Beach in Kovalam

Lighthouse Beach in Kovalam

Kovalam is rich in beaches. One of its priced ones is the Lighthouse beach. The beach owes its name to a historic lighthouse that stands here on a hilltop. The place is dotted with several luxurious hotels that promise to offer that much needed respite tourists crave for. The place is gorgeous with the options of having a visual treat of the beauty nature shows off here, as well as the various water games and activities that are available for one and all.

[You may like to read: Tourist Attractions in Kerala]

4- Papanasam Beach

papanasam beach varkala

papanasam beach varkala

This beach is also popular by the name, Varkala beach. It is one of the budget tourist locations where the tourists can go on a short trip with minimum expenditure. Winters are the most expensive, and the busiest time to go here. However, at other time of the year, it is quiet and serene. The place also has cliffs which add to its exotic beauty. The word ‘papanasam’ means that the waters of this beach can purify one of his sins, by having a bath in this holy water. Apart from these, water games and activities are already on the list.

5- Poovar Beach

Poovar Beach

Poovar Beach

This beach certainly qualifies as one of the top places to visit in Kerala. Kerala is known for its backwaters, and Poovar confirms it doubly. There are a number of fishing activities, and hence there aren’t any water sports and activities. But that shouldn’t deter the tourists because once there, the place itself can engage one in its breath-taking beauty. With traditional Marshal Arts, and some swirling boat rides amidst the lagoons, forests, and groves no one will ever miss the water activities which are a common feature in every beach.

6- Shankumugham Beach

Shankumugham Beach

Shankumugham Beach [Image Source: http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/61905675.jpg]

It is noted for its white crystals of sand and pristine water. A sunset view at the beach is worth a thousand visits at the beach. The beach is also famous for a mermaid (MatsyaKanya)! No, not a real one though, but a very renowned sculpture by a great sculptor of the land. The place is simple away from the hustle and bustle but still manages to catch an eye of the visitors. With some South Indian snacks, a cup of coffee, and the spread of coconut trees all around, make a perfect company for those who are avid sunset watchers.

[ You may also like to read: Top 10 Best Beaches in India ]

7- Kollam Beach

Kollam Beach

Kollam Beach [Image Source: http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/dynamic/00765/27tvko-Park_jpg_765715f.jpg]

The beach stretches in the Kollam city. It is characterized by the famous lighthouse that it upholds, the marine aquarium, and the beautiful evening view with the setting sun at the backdrop. There are excellent resorts and hotels present on the beach which promise to provide good times of rest, comfort, and relaxation to the weary tourists.

8- Kappil Beach

kappil beach bekal

kappil beach bekal [Image Source: http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/04/10/9d/49/kappil-beach.jpg]

Relax! If this is all your restless mind is directing you to do, then Kappil beach is the top choice. The place is thoroughly unexplored and hence the least commercialized. If the cities have taken a toll on the minds, and the heart feels wretchedly ill, Kappil beach will work wonders as a sanatorium to gather oneself together.

[You may also like to read: Historical Monuments in Kerala]

9- Kolavipalam Beach

Kolavipalam Turtle Beach

Kolavipalam Turtle Beach

Calm and serene, clear waters, clean sandy beach. If all these don’t appeal much then there is yet another reason to pack the bags for a tour at Kolavipalam Beach. This beach is famed to be the habitat of Olive Ridley Turtle. Hence the name, Turtle Beach. This Kozhikode beach becomes the den for the turtles during their breeding season (September-March). The local fishermen and residents toil really hard to keep steady the dwindling number of these endangered turtle species.

10- Valiathura Beach

Valiathura Beach

Valiathura Beach [Image Source: https://www.keralatourism.org]

Very much accessible by rail, road, and air, this beach is located in close proximity to the capital city of Kerala, Trivandrum, and is also close to Shankumugham Beach. Valiathura is known for fishing and is also known as the fisherman’s beach. This used to be an active port at a time in history unlike now. It is also known for its tall pier.
For the sea lovers, these beaches in Kerala are ideal to voyage out amidst the crimson evening sky, azure water, and pearl white sand.

Explore Hidden Exotic Hill Stations of Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is replete with a vast array of scenic vacation spots as well as pilgrimage destinations. Apart from the popular travel destinations of Uttarakhand, there are a couple of lesser known ones too. To know about the top hidden places of Uttarakhand, read on-

Uttarakhand is a land of many marvels and amazing tourist destinations. While some like the Char Dhams, Mussoorie, Nainital etc are very well known there are other destinations which few tourists know about. Here are the top 10 hidden gems of Uttarakhand that can capture your heart and mind with their exquisite beauty and rich heritage.

[ Check Out here for Uttarakhand Tour Packages ]

Chaukori

Chaukori

Chaukori [image courtesy: http://mentalmasala.com/]

Chaukori is a beautiful and tiny hill station which is located in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. It has got a very scenic location as it nestles between the high peaks of the Western ranges of the Himalaya in the division of Kumaon in Uttarakhand in India. To the northern area is Tibet and to the Southern side is Terai. The slow winding Mahakali River flows along the eastern Boundary line and forms a part of the Indian-Nepal border line. The elevation of Chaukori is more than 2000 meters and it offers splendid views of the Panchchuli Mountains, Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot mountains. Chaukori is situated about 10 km away from Berinag which is another small hill station. Uttarakhand is a religious state and this tiny hill station is home to many important temples like Kedar Temple, Ulka Devi Temple, Kamaksha Temple, Mostamanu Temple, Patal Bhuvaneshwar Temple and Jayanti Temple Dhwaj.

How to Reach: Chaukori is about 500 km from Delhi and 273 km from Kathgodam. The nearest railway station is about 214 km away at Kathgodam.

[Click Here to Know About Corbett National Park]

Munsyari

Munsyari

Munsyari [ image courtesy: http://goo.gl/pJeRl2]

The little hill station of Munsyari is famous for its ethereal beauty and wonderful trekking opportunities. Many high altitude trekkers from all across the world prefer Munsiyari for its scope in trekking. There is a good hub developing for adventure sports near the Munsiyari hill station. This hill station was previously under the restricted zone as it was balanced between the borders of India, Nepal and Tibet. However this place is now attracting a lot of attention for its diverse flora including 17 varieties of Rhodendrons, pine and Deodar forests and exotic birds like Raven, Himalayan Griffon, Monal, Wagtail and Serpent Eagle. Abundant numbers of Fox and musk deer also populate the jungles.

There is a lot of reference of Munsiyari in religious texts too as it was believed that Pandavas embarked on their final journey to heaven from the tiny hamlet of Munsiyari

Patal Bhuvaneshwar

Patal Bhuvaneshwar Cave

Patal Bhuvaneshwar Cave [Image Source: tripadvisor.com]

Patal Bhuvaneshwar is a natural cave temple made up of limestone and it is situated about 14 km away from Gangolihat which is situated in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand in India. Patal Bhubaneshwar is also the name of the village which is the host of the caves. Legend has it that the caves host Lord Shiva and 33 crore other Gods. The cave is huge measuring 160 meters in length and 90 feet in depth from the entrance point. The major attractions are the magnificent stalactite and stalagmite structures which have developed in many colours and hues. The Patal Bhuvaneshwar caves have really narrow opening which lead to large number of other caves. All the caves are lighted up electrically via huge flows of water. Actually Patal Bhuvaneshwar is not just a cave it is a series of caves. Each stone and each stalagmite has its own story of Hindu legends in the shapes of Goddesses and Gods.

Khirsu

Khirsu

Khirsu

Khirsu is at a total altitude of about 1700 meters above sea level and it is at a total distance of 15 km from Pauri. It is a lovely and peaceful place that is filled with trees of Deodar, Apple and Oak. The location is in the Pauri Garhwal district in the state of Uttarakhand. Khirsu offers travelers and tourists a good opportunity of viewing the tall and imposing Himalaya Mountain Ranges. Khirsu has been known as a remote and relatively hidden destination but it is now becoming quite famous as a Hill Station. It is possible to get a panoramic view of the mighty Himalayan Range from Khirsu. Some of the peaks are familiar and some are unknown and as yet unnamed. A temple that is devoted to Ghandiyal Devi is situated nearby and it adds to the beauty of the place. The area has a lot of exotic birds too and is a top draw for ornithologist. The best thing about Khirsu is that you will get really comfortable accommodation at very affordable prices. Treat yourself to the chirping of birds and revitalize your mind by exploring the beautiful environment of the small hill station of Khirsu.

Gwaldam

Bedni Bugya, Gwaldam

Bedni Bugya, Gwaldam

Gwaldam is at an average elevation of 2000 meters. Gwaldam is about 20 km away from the Bajinath which was once the capital of medieval Katyuri monarchs. The place Gwaldam is also 25 km away from Kulsari which is one of the famous camps of Nanda Devi. Gwaldam is actually at the junction of Grahwal and Kumaon. Trekkers who come trekking from near Kathgodam also target Gwaldam. The trekking trail leads to Kuari Pass, Roop Kund and Nanda Devi Raj Jat. There are so many devotional spots here like Badhangari, Angyari Mahadev and Gwaldam Naag which tourists can explore and the main village of this area i.e. Atal Adarsh Gram is filled with British Memorabilia. This area also has a rich reserve of flora and fauna which is why it attracts nature lovers and botanists.

Pangot

Pangot

Pangot

About a mere 15 km away from the gorgeous hill stations of Nainital lies Pangot which is a relatively undiscovered yet very beautiful spot. The drive to Pangot passes through the forested areas of the Peak of Cheena via the Snow View Peak and Kilbury which are both lovely spots for Birding. The main feature of Pangot are the birds including the Lammergeier, minta with blue wings, Himalayan Griffon, Forktail with slate backs, wood peckers with Rufus bellies, khaaji peasants, variety of thrushes. The yellow throat Himalayan Marten, leopard, sambhar and barking deer are other animals which are found in this area. Ornithologists say that 150 different bird species are recorded in Pangot and surrounding areas. Bird watching camps are held regularly to train amateur bird watchers.

[Click Here to Know About Nainital Tourist Places]

Kanatal

Kanatal

Kanatal

Kanatal is just 38 km ahead of the Queen of Hill Stations Mussourie and it is 12 km away from Chamba. Kanatal is actually a small hamlet which personifies the romantic temperament of the beautiful Tehri District. There are splendid views of the snow covered mountains all around and there are verdant green forests too. Uttarakhand attracts lots of tourists every year and many of them come lured by the beauty of small hidden wonders like Kantal. Trekking, indulging in walking trails, going for picnics, indulging in photography, meditating and Yoga camps are some of the activities which attract tourists to this place.

Jageshwar

Jageshwar Dham

Jageshwar Dham

Jageshwar is a small Hindu town that lies in the Almora district of Uttarakhand. Jageshwar is also called the temple city because of its strong religious lineage. The Nagesh jyotirlinga which is devoted to Lord Shiva is situated in Jageshwar. There are more than 125 stone temples situated there all of which belong to the period 9th to 13th A.D. and it is declared a heritage site by Archeological Survey of India. The Chandi Maa temple, Dandeshwar temple, Surya Temple and Pyramidal temple are some of the principle temples in this area. Mahamrityunjay temple that is situated near the junction of two holy streams Nandini and Surabhi is the most famous. The Jageshwar Monsoon Festival is held every year between 15th July to 15 AUGUST and it is a good experience for tourists who visit at that particular time.

[Click Here to Know About Religious Places of Uttarakhand]

Bajinath

Bajinath Dham

Bajinath Dham [Image Source: http://i1.trekearth.com/photos/136674/bai.jpg]

Bajinath is well known to history lovers for being the capital of Katyuri Monarchs who ruled the area from between the time 7th century to 11th century A.D. and it was then known as Kartikeyapura and it lies in the center of the valley of Katyur. The Bajinath temple which stands on the bank of the river is rumoured to be built by the Kumaon Katyuri monarch around 1150 A.D. and it was also the capital of the dynasty of Katyuri. The Bajinath temple is very famous as it was believed to be the point where Lord Shiva and Parvati Mata got married at the confluence of Gomati River and the Garur Ganga River. The Kot Bhramari Mandir is also one of the important temples around that area. Booking for accommodation at Bajinath can be done from KMVM Delhi office. Tourists can also explore the Garur market nearby which is one of the oldest in the region.

[You may also read about Uttarakhand Travel Tips]

Kartik Swami

kartik swami

kartik swami

The Kartik Swami area is well known for the famous Kartik Swami temple which is dedicated to the eldest son of Lord Shiva; Kartikeya. The temple is situated in the middle of the serene beauty of Garhwal Himalayas in the district of Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand. The actual Kartikeyaswami temple is located at the side of a narrow ridge which has a deep valley situated around it and it is at an elevation of 3050 meters above the sea level. An amazing 360 degree view of the Himalayas can be found from the Kartik Swami temple. A naturally carved statue of Kartik is found inside the temple.

Top 10 Summer Holiday Destinations in India

Now that the Celsius is soaring it is time for you to plan a trip to one of the lovely hill stations in India. Whatever be the location you are based in you can always choose a hill station which appeals to you and fulfills your expectations. Choose from this carefully compiled list of India’s most gorgeous hill stations.

Manali – The Queen of Hill Stations

Manali

Manali

Based in Himachal Pradesh, this summer holiday spot offers trekkers, backpackers as well as other adventure-seekers an opportunity to explore their talents. This famous tourist attraction is located 570 km away from New Delhi in the Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh where the road leads to ‘Leh’. You will get more than just fresh breath of air and scenic beauty of snow-capped mountains and apple orchards.

Shimla – The Summer Capital of India

Beautiful Shimla

Beautiful Shimla

Shimla was once the favourite holiday spot for the British Raj and it continues to attract people owing to its splendid climatic conditions and breathtaking view of the Himalayan range. Each summer this place gets crowded with visitors from the various corners of the earth coming to breathe in some cool, fresh mountain air.

Srinagar

Srinagar with its treasure of Dal Lake surrounded with Shikharas and houseboats is the best summer destination that you can ask for. This chilly hill station located in the valley of Kashmir offers the right amount of alpine weather you can ask for in summer time.

Ooty

Avalanche Lake

Avalanche Lake [Image  courtesy http://www.samyakkaninde.com]

Ooty or Ootacamund (Udhagamandalam) is a popular hill station of the southern part of India. It is located in ‘Nilgiri Hills’ and stands 2,240m above sea level. It is spread over an elevated plateau and is full of green valleys, forests, mountains and tea plantations. This picturesque setting along with the pleasant weather makes it a favourable and crowded holiday destination for summer months.

Kodaikanal

View of kodaikanal

View of kodaikanal [Image Source: www.holidayiq.com]

This hill retreat was established in 1845 by the ‘American Missionaries’ to escape the heat and is among the most quiet hill stations of India standing at  2,195m above the sea level on Palani hills’ southern ridge in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is also called the ‘Princess of Hill Stations’.

Walk.

Munnar

Green Munnar

Green Munnar

A South Indian destination, this place houses the highest peak of this part of India, the Anamudi which stands 2,695m above the sea level. This place is filled with hills, tea plantations, lakes, winding walks and forests- all of which will keep you occupied in your trip to this region.

Coorg

Rafting in Coorg

Rafting in Coorg

This is another ideal summer destination and  is well-known for its eternal natural beauty. Also called Kodagu, this place offers mesmerising landscape, sumptuous delicacies and aromatic coffee plantations along with the honey and oranges. The location is awesome with mountains, valleys and teak forests adding to the glory of the place.

Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar

Another hill station more famous as the Queen of Maharashtra’s Hill Stations-Mahabaleshwar lies in the Sahyadri range of Western Ghats at 1,372 m above the sea level. It is also the ‘highest hill station’ of western India. Its religious and historical significance adds to its tourism value.

Goa

This coastal region is an ideal holiday destination for anyone. It offers everything that a tourist could ask for- clean beaches, laidback culture, happening nightlife and gothic structures (including churches). Although, summers are desperately hot Goa still ranks among the sought-after tourist spots of the country.

Matheran

Matheran

Matheran Louisa Point

This is another famous getaway for Pune and Mumai residents with its location on the ‘Sahyadri Range’ at 800m above sea level. Matheran means ‘forest on top’ and this place was explored in 1850 for relaxation of British rulers of that period.

All these places are the top destinations to visit in summer time offering you maximum respite from the heat of summertime.

Top 20 Places to Visit in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu, the jewel of South India is replete with many visit-able destinations that would fascinate the heart and soul of any passionate vacationer. There are temples, wildlife resorts and many other places to keep you busy on your Tamil Nadu vacation. To plan the best Tamil Nadu holiday, read on to learn about the top 20 visit worthy places of Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu is the cultural capital of the South, known for its temples, for being a stronghold of traditions that have endured since centuries, for being home to exquisite temples, beaches and for its hill stations. People here are warm and welcoming and the cuisine reflects traditions and festivals, a celebration of life in a holistic way. Whereas Hinduism may have been toned by external influenced farther up North, there are pockets in Tamil Nadu where Sanskrit and the original rituals are still maintained the way they were practiced hundreds of years ago. Tamil Nadu is said to have been inhabited since well over 10000 years but it is the Chola, Pallava and Pandya rulers who created carved temples, followed by the Vijayanagar influences. The British took over and have left landmarks of their culture, adding to the spicy mix that is Tamil Nadu today.

Your Options

If you plan to visit Tamil Nadu always spare plenty of time or make specific plans to visit specific destinations. You could plan to visit:

  • Temples of Tamil Nadu
  • Hill Stations of Tamil Nadu
  • Visit Tamil Nadu in time to partake in festivals such as Pongal, Mamallapuram dance festival, Arubathimoovar Festival or any popular festival
  • Since Tamil Nadu is known for its modern healthcare facilities you might want to go in for treatment and then take in a few sights

For the best all round experiences plan Tamil Nadu Holidays that take you to some of the better temples, to hill stations and to beaches.

1- Chennai

Madras War Cemetery

Madras War Cemetery

Chennai is the capital, a port city, the centre of commerce and also an arts and cultural centre so what better way to start your South India trip. Chennai is a mix of Hindu traditions and Christian influences. You can visit the Marina beach and have a lovely time and then take in the St. Mary’s Church and Santhome Cathedral Basilica. Chennai is also home to Swami Vivekananda House. From Chennai you can take short excursions to the Pulicat Lake and then onwards to Mamallapuram with its beautiful 8th century monuments. For amusement and entertainment you have the MGM Dizzee World, the VGP Golden Beach, Queens Land, Dash and Splash to keep you and your children engrossed.

2- Cuddalore

Thillai Kali Temple, Cuddalore

Thillai Kali Temple, Cuddalore

Cuddalore boasts of one of the finest golden beaches where you can indulge in various activities and have a wonderful time with your family. Porto Novo is another place of interest where you can go visit the Portuguese Fort and then have some fun at the Samiyar Pettai beach. For the religiously inclined, Cuddalore offers Bhuvanagiri, Padalesuwarar Temple, the ancient Vridhagiriswarar temple at Virudhachalam and Devanatha Swami temple.

[Check out The Best Customized TamilNadu Tour Packages]

3- Chidambaram

Thillai Nataraja Temple

Thillai Nataraja Temple

Your Tamil Nadu Sightseeing tour must include Chidambaram, home to the ancient temple built by the Cholas. There is a temple to Lord Shiva where, instead of the usual lingam, one sees a statue of the Lord and the temple complex, spread over 40 acres, also houses a Lord Nataraja idol in the kanakasabha, the roof of the sanctorum being covered with gold foil. Chidambaram is also of special interest to devotees of Bharatanatyam since the eastern gopuram of the temple complex has 108 carvings depicting various poses of the dance form. You also have the Kali temple here. Sirkazhi is about 20 km and is the birthplace of Thirugnana sambandar with a Shiva temple dedicated to him. Nagore  is home to the dargah of Hazrat Meera Sultan Syed Shahabdul Hameed and the fossil wood park at Thiruvakkarai is also worth a visit.

[ You may also like to read: The Great Chola Temples in Tamilnadu ]

4- Dharmapuri

Hogenakkal Waterfalls, Dharmapuri

Hogenakkal Waterfalls, Dharmapuri

For nature lovers Dharmapuri offers a number of attractions in the form of water falls, the most striking of which is the Hogenakkal falls located about 46 km away, close to the border of Karnataka. Another place worth visiting is Theerthamalai, 16 km from Harur and this is not only a religious spot with a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva but the beautiful springs around the temple make it an ideal picnic spot.

5- Courtallam

Aintharuvi - Five Falls

Aintharuvi – Five Falls – Courtallam [Img Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/87501872@N03/8193320206]

If the Hogenakkal falls have whetted your appetite, then go on to Courtallam in Tirunelveli in the Western Ghats region where the rivers Chittar, Manimuthar, Pachaiyar and Tamaraparani create numerous waterfalls as they meander onwards to the sea. While some falls can only be seen during and just after the rains, the area is even otherwise a place of enchanting beauty with a mix of mountains, wooded slopes and water bodies. The main waterfalls worth a visit are the Peraruvi, the largest at 60 metres and the Chitraruvi, somewhat smaller. However, in terms of striking visual beauty the Aintharuvi or five falls takes the cake and is visited by hundreds of tourists. The two other falls worth a visit are the old courtallam falls and the Puli Aruvi or Tiger falls. Courtallam is also famous for an ancient temple of Lord Shiva. Kasi Viswanathar temple is another famous Siva temple about 6 km from another equally famous Courtallam Dakshinamoorthy temple in Puliyarai.

6- Kanchipuram

Ekambareswarar temple Kanchipuram

Ekambareswarar temple Kanchipuram  [IMG Source: http://www.kanchipuramtemple.com/]

Kanchipuram is temple town and is about 75 km from Chennai. At one time it is said this place had over a thousand temples and even today, it is a pilgrimage spot. Kanchipuram is also famously known for its silk sarees. The temples to visit are the Kailasanathar temple the Varadaraja Perumal temple, the Vaikuntha Perumal temple and Ashtabhuja Perumal temple. Ekambareswarar Temple is magnificent, rising high into the sky while the Kamakshi Amman temple, with a pond is about serenity. There is plenty more to see in Kanchipuram by way of temples and your Tamil Nadu tourism expert should be able to give you the right guidance about time to spend here.

7- Erode

It is a given that wherever you go in Tamil Nadu, you will come across temples ancient and modern. It is no different in Erode where you have the Bannari Mariamman temple, one of the famous Sakti temples and also the Kondathu Kalliaman temple and the Bhavani Sangameswarar temple. The last one is located at the confluence of three rivers and has equal religious significance. As for sightseeing  you can go to Kodiveri dam, a picturesque location about 65 km from Erode.

8- Kanyakumari

Kanyakumar is famous for being the southernmost tip of India where three seas meet and it is also a place of religious significance with the Kumariamman temple attracting thousands of devotees. Apart from temples Kanyakumari also has the Kamaraj Memorial and Gandhi Memorial as places worth a visit. Then you might take excursions to Suchindram for a visit to the Thanumalayan Temple, go on to St Xavier’s Church in Kottar in Nagercoil and visit the Udayagiri Fort and Padmanabhapuram Palace, 45 km from Kanyakumari.

9- Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal Hills

Pillar Rocks Kodaikanal

Visiting one temple after another can be tiring so take a break and refresh yourselves at Kodaikanal, one of the enchanting resorts in South India. Kodaikanal has everything in the right mix: rocks, wooded slopes, mountains, water bodies, meadows and tall trees. Places you must visit are the 24 hectare Lake, Bryant’s park, Coaker’s Walk and the Pillar Rocks.

10- Yercaud

Shevaroy Hills

Shevaroy Hills

Yercaud may not be as famous as Kodaikanal but has a charm and beauty of its own. It is cool and has groves of citrus trees and coffee plantations. While here you must take a walk to the Lake, to Kiliyur Falls to Kaveri Peak and to Arthur’s seat.

11- Krishnagiri

Krishnagiri Fort

Krishnagiri Fort

Another place of natural beauty, Krishnagiri has its own set of ponds, waterfalls, lakes, hills and valleys. The place is said to be named after Krishnadevaraya and this is where Dr C Raja Gopalachari was born. There are three Dams here: Pambar Dam, Kelevarapalli Dam and Krishnagiri Dam with gardens adjoining the spots.

12- Ooty or Udhagamandamam

Emerald Lake, Ooty

Emerald Lake, Ooty

Ooty is the queen of hill stations of the South. The weather is always pleasant and cool throughout the year and the region is dotted with tea and coffee plantations. From here you can explore the charms of Nilgiris, ride in the toy train and also visit Coonoor and Kotagiri hill resorts.  Ooty itself, with its Government Botanical gardens, the rose Garden and Lake Park are enough to keep you pleasant occupied. Take a walk through the Deer Park and go boating on the Lake after which you can consider trips to the Doddabetta and Pykara Lake, Kalahatti Falls and Water Falls.

[ You may also like to read: Top 10 Hill Stations in South India ]

13- Madurai

Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam

Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam

Madurai may not be as famous as Chennai is today but it is important in its own right, dating back to the 4th century or even before. Madurai is the repository of Dravidian culture, home to countless temples and is today a flourishing industrial city, especially textiles and the chungadi sarees. There are dozens of temples here but the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple should be on your list of places to visit during your Tamil Nadu sightseeing tour. The wonderful thing about this temple is the hall of thousand pillars, each one elaborately and ornately carved. Madurai, one must not forget, was also home to kings and the Thirumalai Nayak Mahal is an impressive structure inspired by Indian and European styles of architecture, a lasting legacy of King Thirumalai Nayak. Close to Madurai you will find Srivilliputhur temple, the Palani Temple and Thiruparankundram temple. For some change you can go on to the Suruli water falls and make time to visit the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary at Thekkady.

14- Mamallapuram

Mamallapuram rock carvings

Mamallapuram rock carvings

Once a famous port, Mamallapuram today is silent yet one of the most outstanding testimonials the carving ability of the artisans of the Pallava times. The best time to visit Mamallapuram is December-January when the place comes alive for the classical dance festival, an international event. However, even otherwise, you can visit the rock cut temple caves, peek into the Sea Shell Museum and do the rounds of the Five Rathas, the shore temple and admire Krishna’s butterball.  Be sure to visit the Crocodile bank where you can see crocodiles and other natural fauna.

15- Namakkal

Kolli Hills

Kolli Hills

For devotees of Shiva, Namakkal has special significance because it has Tiruchengodea, one of the seven Sivasthalams.  Kolli Hills, at a distance of 45 km from Namakkal are famous for the collection of medicinal plants.

16- Rameshwaram

Pamban Bridge Rameshwaram

Pamban Bridge Rameshwaram

Rameshwaram is a tiny island in the Gulf of Munnar but it is home to one of the most magnificent temples with one of the longest corridors to be found in any temple. There are 22 tiny wells around the temple, said to be of religious importance. In addition to the temple, Rameshwaram boasts of beaches at Dhanushkodi, Pamban and Olaikuda, site to lovely coral reefs. The other temples you might want to visit are the Saatchi Hanuman Temple the Jada Theertham, Nambu Nayagiamman temple and the Badrakaliamman temple.

17- Salem

1008 Lingam Temple, Salem

1008 Lingam Temple, Salem

Though Salem may be an industrial city today, it does have its charms such as the Mettur dam surrounded by beautiful parks and the Tharamangalam Kailasanathar temple.

18- Thanjavur

Thanjavur is a must visit place during your Tamil Nadu Holidays. This is where the Chola Kings flourished and it is also the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu. However, Thanjavur is better known for its Brihadeeswarar temple, its paintings, musical instruments and art plates. The magnificent Sri Brihadeeswarar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is beautifully carved. The temple is World Heritage Monument and reflects the magnificence of the Palace about 1 KM away. Do not miss the Saraswathi Mahal Library, one of the oldest libraries in the world. Thanjavur has quite a lot to offer by way of Royal Museum, The Serfoji Memorial Hall, the Sharajah Madi, all forming part of the temple complex.

19- Tiruchirappalli

Located on the banks of the Kaveri, Tiruchirappalli was once the bastion of the Chola rulers followed by the Pallavas and Pandyas later on. However, it was the Nayaks who really created the city and left behind a rich legacy for us to admire. They were followed by the Muslims, Marathas, French and the British. Today Tiruchirapalli shows influences of all the past rulers with an exotic collection of Forts, churches, temples and a cultural flavor of its own. Undoubtedly it is the Rock Fort that, standing on a tall rock, that will claim your attention. The fort is a landmark but the rock itself lays claim to pride for being the oldest in the world at 3800 million years of age. At the top of the rock are remnants of the Fort and there is a Lord Vingayaka temple. A short distance away you will come upon the Mathrubutheswarar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Only 7 km from here you will visit the famous Srirangam temple, one of the most magnificent in south India with 21 gopurams and a height of 72 metres. In and around the city you can visit the grand anicut dam, Vayalur where you have Lord Muruga temple, Samayapuram for the temple dedicated to Goddess Mariamman, Puliancholai forest, Lourdes Church, the Nadirsha Dargah and Pachamalai.

20- Chettinad

Chettinad Palace

Chettinad Palace

Chettinad is a world within a world. Once ruled by the Chettiars who left behind the magnificent Chettinad House showcasing the heritage and art of that period, this part of Tamil Nadu has its own distinctive lifestyle reflected in the art and the foods. Sample the cuisine and visit the Chettinad House and it will be an unforgettable experience. From here to Karaikudi is a short distance and you will surely love the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva but with as many as 108 statues of Ganpathi. Go on to Nagercoil because this is where the people of Chettinad settled and this forms a continuation of their culture highlighted in the Ilayathangudi temple, about 25 km from Karaikudi.  If you have time you can go on to visit Vairavanpatti Temple, Soorakudi Temple, Velankudi and Iraniyur temple, all in the neighborhood of Karaikudi.

People from the North have a very dim view of the culture of South India. However, a visit to Tamil Nadu shows the essence of pure Hinduism at its most magnificent, untouched by Mughal, Turk or any other influences.

There is plenty more in Tamil Nadu such as Velankanni where your prayers are answered; Vellore, a royal city with timeless carvings and Theni, nature’s bounty for man. Go on a South India Trip and your Tamil Nadu Holidays will prove not only entertaining but also educational. You will return with more knowledge and awareness of the past glories of India.

Travel Places in Andaman Islands – Andaman and Nicobar Travel Guide

Andaman and Nicobar islands comprise of some truly exotic palm-lined wave lashed beaches that would actually fascinate any and every nature lover. Apart from its pristine scenic beauty, the rich historical background of Andaman and Nicobar islands too attract the vacationers. If you are planning a visit to these islands, the top 10 Andaman and Nicobar island places listed below would make your sightseeing easy. So read on-

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands stretch like a string of jewels across the Bay of Bengal. In all there are 572 small and large islands of which only 36 are inhabited and of these only the Andaman Part is accessible for tourists. That leaves out 22 islands comprising the Nicobar chain. Still, what is left is a tropical paradise of supreme pristine beauty. The islands lead out to golden beaches and blue waters of the ocean while a bit inland you see the start of dense forests. As you travel inland you go deeper into lush tropical vegetation that may lead you up into mountains, the flora and fauna changing as you go along. If it is variety you seek you are not going to be disappointed.

Background
The two islands have been populated since thousands of years. Some believe the name is derived from Handuman, the Malay name for Hanuman. Andaman Islands are home to people of negrito origins comprising the present day Onges, Sentinelese, Jarawas and great Andamanese while the tribes of Nicobar are Mongoloid in origin comprising the Nicobarese and Shompen tribes. At one time it was under Maratha rule and then it was taken over by the British and Kalapani is the name it went by since freedom fighters were imprisoned here. Thereafter the islands have become home to people from all over India and you will find that many languages such as Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, Punjabi, Hindi and Bengali are spoken here by people belonging to Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Sikh faith.

Places to See

Port Blair

Port blair

Port Blair  [Image Source: wikitravel.org]

Since Port Blair is the entree point and also has plenty of attractions you could spend some time here exploring its beaches, the city and its attractions. The city is small and you can walk around to explore the attractions of Aberdeen Bazaar or Junglighat. Better still, hire a local auto rickshaw which is considerably cheaper than private cars. Visit the infamous Kalapani or cellular jail and take in the light and sound show. After that you can head for Ross Island, one time HQ of the British, a journey of 25 minutes by boat. Next, Corbyn’s Cove beach with its unique coconut grove should be on your list though it may be a bit crowded so you have an alternative in Wandoor, about 25 km and a lovely place with coral reefs where you can watch marine life in a glass bottomed boat. Another unforgettable place is Chidya Tapu or Bird Island, also 25 km from Port Blair and this is where the tropics come alive in lush green forests resounding to the cacophony of myriads of birds.

[Checkout Some  Tour Packages for Andaman and Nicobar]

Cinque Island

Cinque Island

Cinque Island

Cinque island forms part of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park and is endowed with some of the richest biodiversity. The sea and beaches will open up their fabulous collection of starfish, sea anemones, crocodiles and turtles whereas, farther inland, it is exotic trees and plants and the fauna that will capture your attention.

North Passage Island

North Passage Island

North Passage Island

This is perhaps one of the more beautiful of islands with very little human population and a lovely beach along Merk Bay with coral reefs. The star attractions are dolphins, going underwater snorkeling and swimming. Take food and water along and plan to return by night because there are no accommodation facilities here.

Havelock Island

Havelock Island

Havelock Island

Havelock Island is about 50 km from Port Blair and is one of the most charming destinations you will come across. The coast is ringed with lovely beaches leading out to blue seas. There are three beaches here. One is the Elephant beach on the north west side of the land. The second one is Vijaynagar beach which is to the east of the Island. The third is Radha Nagar Beach. You can laze on the beach, go swimming or scuba diving and stay the night since accommodation is available on this island. Radhanagar beach is Asia’s best beach with stretches of white sand and exceptional tranquility.

Long Island

long island

long island

This is a small island with a small population but with one of the loveliest beaches at Lalaji Bay. You can reach the spot by walking through a forest or by taking a boat. You can relax here or go snorkeling. Long Island is also the gateway to other tiny islands such as North Passage Island, North Button, South Button and Middle Button Islands and Guitar islands known for their fabulous underwater marine life.

[ You may also like to read: Best Beaches In India ]

Diglipur

Diglipur

Diglipur

Diglipur is the farthest, at a distance of 300 kilometers, which means an overnight journey by road. You can spend a couple of days at Diglipur exploring the Saddle Peak National Park. The dense and lush green forest with its flora and fauna will keep you enthralled. After you have had your fill you can relax at the Kalipur beach and then go on to explore the Ross and Smith Islands to watch turtles at the Ramnagar Beach.

Baratang Island

Baratang

Baratang

Baratang Island, about 100 km from Port Blair, is another lovely and scenic destination with its beautiful coastline, untrammeled beaches and forests in the interior. Here you can go scuba diving if you like or go trekking into the jungle or on birdwatching or camping tours. You must visit the Mangrove creek and Limestone caves, the two most famous attractions of this land. Boating under the canopy of mangroves is an experience in serenity. The limestone cave is even more enchanting. After that it is onwards to Parrot Island to let your ears ring with the trilling of parrots as the sun sets spectacularly in the sea. Just for some relaxation you can go on to the Baludera beach about 9 km away.

Jolly Buoy

jolly buoy island

jolly buoy island

Jolly Buoy is a colorful paradise and gives you the opportunity to wander through the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. A ride in the glass bottomed boat is unforgettable and you can swim, go scuba diving or just soak in the sun and breathe the pure air.

[Please click here for Scuba Diving in Andaman]

Neil Island

neil island

neil island

About 36 km from Port Blair you will come across Neil Island, a nicely populated and thriving settlement. Go a little way off from the bustling bazaars and you will arrive at some of the loveliest beaches. There are three beaches in all here: Lakshmanpur, Bharatpur and Sitapur with ample opportunities for swimming and scuba diving. If you have had your fill of beaches you can always go wandering in the green fields or walk under a canopy of green forests. If you want to retire and live a peaceful life, Neil Island could be your choice since it has facilities, fresh natural food and nature all around.

Barren Island

barren island volcano

barren island volcano

Barren Island is about 139 km from Port Blair and must be visited because it has an active volcano spewing smoke. As the name suggests, the island is rocky and barren with the live volcano forming the focal point of attraction. You will require prior permission of the Forest Department to visit this island.

Little Andaman

Little Andaman

Little Andaman

After Port Blair the one place you must not miss is Little Andaman located right opposite the Great Andaman Island. The island is richly forested and also two lovely waterfalls. The Whisper Wave waterfall is about 20 km from the Hut Bay Jetty and the White Surf is a bit closer at 6.5 kms. You can enjoy elephant rides on the plantations and have a lovely time. As for beaches, Little Andaman is well known for its Butter Bay Beach, a perfectly lovely place to spend the night. During the day you have ample time to go boating along the creek and watch birds and marine turtles. If you like you can go swimming or diving. Go farther inland and you enter a different world of green tropical forests.

Best Time to Visit

The climate ranges from moderately warm in winter to hot in summer so you can visit anytime. Winter may see the place a bit crowded but with the weather so pleasant this is perhaps the best time to visit these islands and enjoy nature like never before and at an affordable cost too. This is one place where time stands still and you are at liberty to just relax and recharge your batteries. However, if action is what you want, action is what you get in the form of scuba diving, snorkeling, trekking, fishing and kayaking available at various destinations. People here are warm and friendly and there is a relaxed, laid back atmosphere you will find so inviting. If you are considering a trip to Bali or Maldives or Indonesia, think of Andaman and Nicobar first; it could be enchanting and unforgettable.

Getting There

If you are hard pressed for time you can catch a flight for Port Blair from Delhi, Chennai, Bhubhaneshwar and Kolkata. However, a better and leisurely way is to travel by ship from Chennai, Kolkata or Vizakhapatnam. It may take four days but the cruise is an experience in itself you will love. You can travel first class and pay a fare of around Rs. 7000 or go for the cheapest bunk costing around Rs. 1700.

Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites in India

Gautam Buddha, a great spiritual Guru and God incarnate had number of disciples during his lifetime. He founded a new religion ‘Buddhism’ which now is a major religion worldwide and nationwide. There are a huge number of Buddhist pilgrimage destinations in India where pilgrims from all round the world make a bee line. Each of these places is intricately connected with Lord Buddha. To know more on Buddhist pilgrimage in India, read on-

The 6th century ascetic Buddha who showed the whole world the path of light and divinity is now worshipped by almost 1/3rd of the human population. Buddha is a religious icon who is known to inspire devotion and faith even in on followers i.e. non Buddhists. Devout Christians, Hindus and people of all other religions are likely to be inspired by the holistic and expansive principles of Buddhism . Gautam Buddha has strong roots in India and there are many places here that rightfully claim the top position in the Buddhist Pilgrimage circuit in India.

Caturmahapratiharya or the Four Great Wonders

There is very little information available about the origins of Buddhist Pilgrimage sites as Buddhism first began as an offshoot of Hinduism before commanding its own set of traditions. According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta Buddha instructs his primary disciple Ananda about the four places of light and power which every spiritual person should look upon. The four places are Lumbini (birthplace of Lord Buddha), Bodh Gaya (attainment of realization), Sarnath (disbursement of teaching) and Kushinagar (Buddha passed away).

Lumbini

The World Peace Pagoda Lumbini

The World Peace Pagoda Lumbini

Lord Buddha or Prince Siddhartha as he was known then was born in the middle of a lovely garden called Lumbini, There is a giant Asokan Pillar at the exact spot in the garden bearing the words “here is the birthplace of Buddha”. Lumbini is on the Indo Nepal border. You can stay at Bhairawwa and then obtain the permit to visit Lumbini before returning back to Bhairawwa.

Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya – Bodhi Tree

Bodh Gaya was known as Uruvela in Buddha’s time and it was the seat of inspiration for all the earlier Buddha’s of Buddhism along with Gautama Buddha. All the future Buddha’s are also expected to attain enlightment at this place. Bodh Gaya is also fondly called the center of the Buddhist Universe and Navel of Earth. Right at the center of the town is the Mahabodhi temple which has the Buddha tree behind it, all the mystic surrounding shrines make up the Buddha’s seven weeks in Gaya. There is a lot of international tourist traffic in Bodh Gaya and you can see the hundreds of beautiful pink lilies in the lake. Other beautiful spots here are the Naranjara River and the Bodhi tree (especially during the full moon). At one part of Bodh Gaya there is a 80 feet Japanese Buddha statue. If you are interested in gaining knowledge about Buddhism then contact the Root Institute, Mahabodhi Society and Korean Temple.

[Check out the best affordable and customized India Buddhist Tour Packages]

Sarnath

Sarnath Chaukhandi Stupa

Sarnath Chaukhandi Stupa

Sarnath is just 15 km away from Varanasi and it is at the lovely deer park of Sarnath that the Buddha preached his first two discourses. Dhammacakkhapavathana Sutta and Anattalakhana Sutta are the two great discourses he taught. The ruined gardens of Sarnath are still full of the mystic relics of Buddha and it is a profound spiritual experience to just stroll through the garden. Pilgrims would also like to check the Asoka Pillar, Dharmek Stupa and the Mulagandhakuti Vihara. If you are interested in Indo Buddhist art then don’t miss paying a visit to the Sarnath Museum. Apart from this there are interesting Burmese, Korean, Tibetan, Chinese and Thai temples in Sarnath.

Kushinagar

Kushinagar

Kushinagar

Mahaparinibbana Sutta contains a moving account of the final years of Gautama Buddha and the last few moments he spent at Kushinagar or Kusinara. Buddha was said to rest his body between two sal trees and draw hi last breath and attain parinivana/nirvana. There is a beautiful Nirvana temple built right at this spot and ruins of ancient monasteries are artistically presented amidst the gardens. Interestingly Kusinara is full of Sal trees. There is a museum in Kusinara containing authentic Buddhism relics which you can visit. You can try staying at Gorakhpur while planning a visit to Kusinara.

Four Sites of Buddhism Miracles

As the religion of Buddhism gained Momentum there was special impetus placed on four sites where miraculous events had taken place in context of Lord Buddha. These four sites collectively known as Rajgraha symbolized the height of power of Buddhism; Rajgraha, Sravasti, Vaisali,Smakasya

Sravasti

sravasti buddha temple

Sravasti Buddha Temple – Image Source: wikimedia.org

Sravasti’s principal attraction today is the ancient historical resort called the Jetavana which was built by the rich businessman Ananthapindika. This place was preferred a lot by Buddha who spent the 20 last monsoons of his life there. There are many monasteries near Jetavana and they are set artistically amidst fragrant gardens. The Buddha preached many discourses here and also performed a miracle wherein he tamed a mad elephant. If you are interested in gaining further knowledge about Buddhist then do read the Angulimala Sutta which is available here. Don’t miss paying a visit to the State Museum and the Sri Lankan Temple here. It’s easy to reach Sravasti from Lucknow.

Sankassa / Sankasya

Sankassa Uttar Pradesh

Sankassa Uttar Pradesh

After attaining enlightment Lord Buddha was approached by his deceased mother in his dreams. Legend has it that she asked to hear his discourse and Buddha promised to visit her at her heavenly abode. For three months Buddha was in Tusita heaven tutoring his mother on Abhidhamma. Later he descended from heaven at the place Sankassya. Obviously this place holds a very special significance for Buddhists as Ashoka emperor erected one of the pillars here.. Sankassya is difficult to reach but it is well connected to Sravasti.

Vaisali

Vaisali Bihar

Vaisali Bihar

Vaisali was said to be one of the most popular sites of Buddha and he held it in special affection. Many events occured in Vaisaly like a group of monkeys offering the Buddha honey and Buddha preaching his sermon to Ambapali a prostitute. It is said the Lord Buddha delivered the Mahasihananda Sutta or the long discourse over here. After a century post the nirvana attainment of Buddha a historic council was held in Vaisali and monks all over India participated in it to redefine the charts of Buddhism for the future. If you visit Vaisali then don’t forget to see the Asoka Lion Pillar, Japanese temple, Kharauna Lake and Stupa built over Vijjans (containing the ashes of Buddha). The only place to stay in Vaisali is the government tourist bungalow,

Rajgir

Rajgir Pegoda

Rajgir Pegoda

The beauty and interesting terrain of Rajgir makes it a very popular religious Buddhist pilgrimage site. Rajgir is full of mystical ruins, dry forests, silent murmurs and majestic rocks. Rajgir was earlier known as Rajgraha and it was the capital of ancient state of Magadh (one of the biggest state of pre independence North India), there are several places of interest in Rajgir like the luscious Bamboo Grove, Cave of Devautta, Cave of Sattapanna, mango grove of Jivaka, Pippilika Cave where Maha Kassapa liked to stay along with Boar’s Grott. What really captivates the mind about Rajgraha is the beautiful white and golden Japanese Stupa that is situated on the hill of Ratana. There are multiple thermal springs around and these are excellent sites to have a hot bath. Rajgir is filled with Swetambara and Digambara Jain monks.

This is an excellent place to educate yourself on the discourses of Lord Buddha, Monks suggest the following options.

  • Going up to the Vulture Peak point and reading Mahasaropama Sutta
  • Going down to Boar’s Grotto and reading Dighanaka Sutta
  • Meditating in Jivaka Mango grove after reading Jivaka Sutta
  • Relaxing in Bamboo Garden and reading Dantabhumi Sutta.

Pilgrimage Sites in other Parts of India

Very few people know that the name Bihar is actually a derivation of Vihara which is a Buddhist place or worship or a monastery. Apart from the Buddhism sites which are mentioned above Bihar have innumerable other places which have a deep connect with Buddhism.

Gaya

Mahabodhi Temple In Gaya

Mahabodhi Temple In Gaya Image Source: www.indiamike.com

Gaya in Bihar is not as popular as its cleaner cousin Bodh Gaya it it too has a deep connection to Buddhism. Interestingly Gaya is also one of the seven most religious towns of Hinduism. Buddha stayed in Gaya for a long period of time and delivered one of his most powerful discourses; the third discourse there. The site of the sermon is called Brahmayoni and it is a steep hill that was earlier called Gayasisa. The Fire Sermon which has a lot of drama and imagery was delivered by Lord Buddha at Gaya. The depiction is beautifully described in the poem Wasteland penned by T.S Eliot. If you are really interested in the origins of Buddism then a visit to the Gayasissa is compulsory. Another good place is Tankitamancha or as it is known now Sujikund. This is where Gautum Buddha encountered and defeated the evil spirit Suchiloma. The state museum there has a good collection of Buddhist sculpture.

[You may also like read this post Gaya Travel Guide & Tourist Places]

Champanagar

Champanagar

Champanagar

Gautam Buddha paid multiple visits to Champanagar during his lifetime and called it his favourite Eastern haunt. Interestingly the city got its name from the hundreds of Champaka trees that grow there. Champak flowers are well known for their sweet and strong fragrance. Ancient town of Champanagar was the place where Gautam Buddha taught the Kandarka and the Sonadanda Sutta. There is a beautiful lake here which is filled with hundreds of blooming lotuses (the Buddha’s favourite flowers). There is also a blue placid lake called Sarovana Talib which is surrounded from all sides by Buddha statues.

To reach Champanagar you have to take the road from Ganges to the Eastern Side of Bhagalpur via Patna.

Barabar Hills

Barabar Hills

Barabar Hills

The Barabar Hills were built by Emperor Asoka for the residence of the Ajivaka ascetics. The most prominent and beautiful of all this caves is the Lomas Rishi Cave that is fashioned out of gigantic chunk of Granite Hummock with an intricate wooden and thatch exterior. The cave has an interesting interior which is enhanced by large rectangular chamber with rare glass polish. Interestingly the cave looks like it has been cut by a modern laser. The book called Passage to India which is written by EM Foster has scenes describing the cave. The cave is at Kurkihar on the way between Rajgir and Gaya.

Indasala Cave

Indasala Cave

Indasala Cave

This is quite a remote cave but is revered by Buddhist pilgrims all over the world for being the seat of one of the most famous discourses of Buddha; Sakkapanha Sutta. Propounded of Tibetan Buddhism Ghyusamaja Tantra lived inside the cave which is right at the base of the steep Giriyek mountain. The Giriyek road which connects to Rajgir runs along the Northern side of the mountain and leads to Hansa Stupa which is an interesting monument.

Nalanda

Nalanda Ancient University

Nalanda Ancient University

Another famous place in Bihar; the Nalanda holds the biggest university of Buddhism and is of special interest to all Buddhist scholars. Buddha is said to have met and coached his successor Maha Kassapa at Nalanda. Kul village near Nalanda is the birthplace of Moggalana who is one of the most famous disciples of Nalanda. It was in the 5th century that a monastic establishment was created in Nalanda and it later became the most famous center of Buddhist learning. Students from Korea, China and Sri Lanka have been known to come to nalanda for learning. An interesting account of this university was described in the tales of Dharmasvamin in 1234. The temple 3 ruins of Nalanda, Nalanda museum are some great places you should not miss visiting.

Uttar Pradesh

kaushambi allahabad

kaushambi allahabad

The most important seat of Buddhism in Uttar Pradesh is Kaushambi which is near Allahabad. This place was actually the capital of ancient state Vamsa and it was here that many events in the life of Buddha had taken place. There are lovely ruins in Kosambi and each of them has a different story to tell about the life of Gautam Buddha. The many artifacts and scriptures recovered from the ruins of Kosambi are now on display at the Allahbad Museum and Archeology museum in Allahabad university.

Prabhosa
Once in Kosambi do make it a point to visit Prabhosa Hills as this is where Gautam Buddha spent the sixth monsoon retreat. It is said that the Buddha performed silent meditation here which is why no discourses have been taught here. The largest cave where Buddha stayed is now named Sita’s window. From the very top of Prabhosa Hill you will get a splendid view of Yamuna river. Prabhosa is only 11 km away from Kosambi

Madhya Pradesh

Sanchi Stupa

Sanchi Stupa

Madhya Pradesh is notable in the Buddhist pilgrimage circuit for the Sanchi Shanti Stupa which is situated in Raisen District that is 46 km North East of Bhopal, The Sanchi Stupa is the most ancient stone structure in Madhya Pradesh as it was commissioned by Ashoka and designed by his wife Devi. The Stupa houses the inscriptions and relics of Mahamoggallana and Sariputra who are the two principal disciples of Buddha. This Shanti Stupa is also the place from where king Mahinda set out to Proselytize the kingdom of Lanka.

Mahayana Buddhism Pilgrimage Sites

There are many Buddhist pilgrimage sites that are connected to the deities and other manifestations of spiritual figures of Buddhism along with/apart from Gautam Buddha. These sites are mostly connected to Tibetan Buddhism or neo Mahayana Buddhism as opposed to Hinayana Buddhism pilgrimage sites described above. These sites are found in Leh-Ladakh, Indo China border, Indo Tibet border, Himachal Pradesh etc. These are mostly monasteries that contain Thangkas and ancient scrolls and some of them even have Tantric precedents.

Dharamsala

Gyatso monastery in Dharamsala

Gyatso monastery in Dharamsala

Dharamsala and McLeodGanj (Upper Dharamsala) are both important centers of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama has a strong connection to Dharamsala as post 1960 the CTA (Central Tibetan Administration) moved to Dharamsala. The Tibetan refugees all stringently follow the Dalai Lama and it is an important destination for foreign tourists. As this is an important hill station that is filled with beautiful monasteries you can visit it for a taste of its natural beauty as well as pilgrimage value.

[Check out the best weekend trip package for Dharamshala]

Rumtek Monastery

Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim

Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim

This monastery in Sikkim is called the Dharmachakra Center as it is the center of the famous Karma Kagyu center of Tibetan Buddhism. The Rumtek Monastery is extremely beautiful and it is set against a backdrop of flowing streams, craggy mountains and hundreds of blooming flowers in the summer. Rangjung Rigpe Dorje was the presiding figure of the Monastery, This monastery is 24 km away from Gangtok the capital city of Sikkim.

[Also Checkout North East India Tour Packages ]

Tabo Monastery

Tabo Monastery in Spiti

Tabo Monastery in Spiti [ Image Source: www.wikimedia.org]

The Monastery of Tabo is one of the most sacred seats of Tibetan Buddhism, This ancient monastery was founded in 996 CE or the Fire Ape Tibetan Year. Tabo is till now known as the most ancient Buddhist enclave in India. There are a huge number of beautiful frescoes that are drawn on the walls which describe the Buddhist Pantheon. Dalai Lama had held the 1983 and the 1996 Kalachakra ceremonies and this important monastery has gained protection under ASI or Archeological Survey of India.

Tawang Monastery

Tawang Monastery

Tawang Monastery

This is the biggest monastery outside Lhasa Tibet and holds special importance for all followers of Tibetan Buddhism. Interestingly this monastery is built on the several hundred square feet of area that Tibet had relinquished to India.

General Travel Information about Gaya

Gaya is an important tourist destination dotted with various relics and manifestations of Lord Buddha’s omnipresence out there once upon a time. For Buddhists Gaya is indeed an important destination of pilgrimage. If you too wish to feel the same peace and serenity that we often feel after going through the Buddhist scriptures, Gaya is one place that you should definitely visit. The region is full of must-see places connected to the life of Lord Buddha. Before you plan your trip to Gaya, go through this travel information guide below to make yourself travel-ready.

Religious Significance of Gaya

Gaya is the holy seat of three religions; Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Many temples line the banks of the Phalgu River which flows in Gaya. Akshayavat and Pipal trees dot the whole town and thousands of women pilgrim come here to visit the shrine of Mangla Gauri. This shrine has two round stones that represent the breasts of Sati; Lord Shiva;s wife. Vishnipad Temple in Gaya is adored alike by Hindus and Buddhists.

Bodh Gaya Temple

Bodh Gaya Temple

Gaya is very important to devout Hindus from the perspective of salvation as Lord Rama came to Gaya with Sita for Pinda Daan. When Rama went to bathe before offering Pindadanam ; Devi Sita saw a vision of Dasharath who told her to offer the Pindam as he was feeling very hungry. Devi Sita compiled but this angered Rama when he came back. It was then that Phalgu river, Branhmin, Banyan Tree and cow were called by Sita to validate her story. Apart from the Banyan tree everyone denied supporting Sita. Sita cursed the Phlagu River which then lost its water and became a stretch os mere sand dunes. At the same time the Banyan tree was blessed to become evergreen and immortal.

According to Jainism 22 out of 24 Tirthankars attained immortal salvation in Gaya and this is why Gaya is very important to the Jain followers. Jain pilgrimage Pawapuri where Mahavira attained Moksha is also reachable from Gaya. Gaya Jain temple is very beautiful with a huge idol of Bhagwan Chadraprabhu in it. Parasnath Hills in Gaya is also an important spiritual destination.
For Buddhists, the Bhrahmayoni hills where Gautam Buddha preached the immortal Fire Sermon to one thousand saints, holds a special significance. All the fire serving saints attained enlightment post the sermon and the hill was christened as Gayasisa.

For Muslims too Gaya is an important place as it has the biggest Mosque in Bihar. Jama Masjid in Bodh Gaya was built about 190 years ago by Muzzafarpur Royal Family and it has the capacity to accommodate more than 1000 people at once. The Mosque is now an important heritage site.

History of Gaya

Gaya has a rich and chequered history which saw the rise and fall of many dynasties and was the seat of important events. Broadly the history of Gaya can be divided into three phases; ancient, middle and modern history.

Ancient History

The earliest known history of Gaya concerns the enlightment of Gautam Buddha. Just 10 km away from Gaya town is Bodh Gaya where Buddha attained immortality. Since then the areas like Nalanda and Vaishali near Gaya became centers for spiritual discourses and pursuit of knowledge. These areas grew in importance under Mauryan rule. Gaya was originally an important part of Magadh.

Modern History

 Gaya in early 1810 AD had two distinct parts; Gaya and Elahabad. While Gaya was dominated by priests, lawyers and traders stayed in Elahabad. Bihar Vibhuti awardee and the first C.M cum Finance Minister of India Dr. Anugrah Narain Sinha was from Gaya. Swami Sahajanand Saraswati who was a thought leader and creator of Kisan Andolan also lived in Gaya. Gaya quickly became an important place of politics in the pre independence era. Indian Congress leaders used to visit Gaya frequently to talk to Kisan Andolan leaders. During the struggle for Indian Independence the All India Session of Congress was conducted under leadership of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das in the year 1922. Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Azad all attended political sessions in Gaya. Ishwar Chaudhuri, Jeetan Ram Manjhi and other potical luminaries also hailed from the Gaya district.

Gaya officially established itself in the year 1865 as it was a part of Ramgarh district in Bihar till 1864. In May 1981 the division of Magadh was established by Bihar Government comprising of Gaya and other towns. Gaya district currently occupies 1921 square meters.

How to Reach Gaya

By Road
There is direct bus service to Gaya from Kolkata, Ranchi, Nalanda, Patna, Dhanbad, Bhagalpur, Koderma, Rajgir etc. Bihar Road Transport Corp has started an AC Mercedez Benz service to Gaya from Hazaribagh, Muzzafarnagar, Koderma, Bhagalpur, Patna and Munger.

The National Highway 2 Trunk Road which connects Calcutta to Delhi reaches to the fringes of Gaya (30 km away from it). Gaya connects to Patna by NH 83 and Rajgir by NH 82. Work has started on the construction of a 4 lane road between Patna and Gaya.

By Rail
Gaya Junction Station serves the town of Gaya and it has got good frequency of trains. Gaya station falls in the East Central Railway division. The Howrah New Delhi Grand Chord line passes via Gaya. Trains from many states stop at Gaya as it has two junctions; Manpur Junction and Gaya Junction.

Gaya has got direct trains to important places like Delhi, Nagpur, Kolkata, Mathura, Dehradun , Ranchi, Parasnath(Shikharji), Bokaro, Varanasi, Lucknow, Kota, Ahmedabad, Kanpur, Amritsar, Allahabad, Agra, Bareilly, Jabalpur, Chennai, Kamakhya – Guwahati etc. There are also trains to Bhopal, Indore, , Mumbai, Pune, Dehradun, Puri, , Jodhpur, Kalka, Jamshedpur, Jammu, Gwalior, Bhubaneshwar etc.

By Air
There is an International Airport in Gaya that is situated between Bodh Gaya and Gay town. This is the only international Airport in Jharkhand and Bihar and flights to Colombo, Thailand, Singapore, Bhutan and Paro operate from here. Daily flights to Kolkata, New Delhi, Varanasi also operate from here.

Local Transport: Auto Rikshaws, Cycle Rickshaw, Tonga, Bus and Taxi operate inside Gay and Bodh Gaya.

Climate of Gaya

Gaya is surrounded from all 3 sides by hills and one side by a river so the weather in Gaya is always seasonable. In winters it’s very cold and in summers its very hot. The humid subtropical weather of Gaya makes it unsuitable for sightseeing in the summer season.

Food in Gaya

Food of Gaya is typical of traditional Bihari cuisine. As Gaya is a religious town non vegetarian food is generally not available here. You can sample delicious food like Sattu Roti, Litti Chokha, Pitha, Pua, Bari Dal, Baingan Bharta, Kopal Kofta etc. many types of pickle and chaat is found in Gaya. Sweets like Tilkut, Anarasa, Kesariya Peda, Anarasa are very famous in Gaya. It is said that the only karigars who know how to make authentic Tilkut are there in Gaya.

Spicy and sweet sour snacks are the speciality here. There are many types of snacks here like Samosa Chat, Sabudana Bhoonja, Alu Kachalu etc. Chanajor Garam is another famous snack that has been immortalized in many Bollywood movies.

If you want to buy packaged snacks for friends and family then visit the shops around Chowk, Rmana Road and Chatta Masjid area. Sweets in Terkari Road are very famous.

Restaurants in Gaya
  1. Khushi Resturant near Hotel Vishnu serves good Indian and Chinese food
  2. Gautam Bakery opposite Burmese Vihara offers a good travelers menu
  3. Hari Om International Café in front of Gupta Guest House serves multi cuisine food apart from local food like Khichdi, Litti Chokha
  4. Be Happy Café near Town Chow serves delicious herbal tea, Italian cuisine, salad, pasta, pizza and smoothies.
  5. Mohammad Restaurant near Tourist Bus Park serves good Tibetan, Thai, Chinese, Indian food

Hotels in Gaya

Gaya has a lot of good accommodation options for tourists and pilgrims who visit this place. There are luxury hotels, budget hotels, mid range hotels and lodges in Gaya. Some of the best and most popular hotels of Gaya are mentioned below:

  1. Hotel Virat Inn: opposite Gaya Railway Station, Contact 07541057106
  2. Ajatsatru Hotel: Front of Gaya Railway Staion, Contact 06312222961
  3. Hotel Gharana Gaya: South Chrurch Road, Contact 09430072305
  4. Hotel Saraogi: State Bus Stop, Contact 0631 222 2575
  5. Hotel Rose Valley: Station Road Gol Bagicha, Contact 0631 222 0958
  6. Hotel Surya: Surya Lane Lal kothi compound, Contact 077638 06661

Check out whether the hotel you have chosen accepts credit cards before you decide to check in

Travel Information About Khajuraho – Khajuraho Tourism Guide

Khajuraho, the famous temple town of Madhya Pradesh pulls tourists not only from different corners of the nation but from different corners of the globe as well. The Khajuraho temple is a rare artistic and architectural masterpiece and has been awarded the title of ‘world heritage site’. The erotic sculptures on the temple show an artist’s creative frenzy and wild passion at full play. If you wish to enjoy this marvel, you must embark on a tour to Khajuraho at least once. This travel information guide below will provide you all the necessary info.

History of Khajuraho Temples

Khajuraho retains a special glory amongst the best known World heritage sites of India. The temples of Khajuraho are amongst the most stunning historical monuments of India. It’s estimated that these temples were all built by the Chandella rulers between the periods 900 AD to 1130. The Chandela Rulers were earlier known as Bargujar Rajputs who were Shiva worshipers. Khajuraho was the capital of Chandel kingdom and it remained the cultural capital even after Mahoba was appointed as capital later. This period was the epitome of the Chandella rule and each ruler had at least one temple to his credit. Broadly speaking, temple building was a custom amongst the Chandella rulers and almost all other rulers of the Chandella Clan.

Khajuraho Temple

Khajuraho Temple

The first temple of Khajuraho is believed to have been built (according to literary accounts by Abu Rihan al Bruni in AD 1022 and the Arabic Scholar Ibn Batuta) around 1000 AD. Khajuraho town was the religious capital of Khajuraho. There was a huge wall with 8 inbuilt gates surrounding Khajuraho and each gate was flanked by two fully grown date trees. It was because of the date (khajur) trees that the place got its name as Khajur Vahika. Alternatively Khajuraho was also known as Jejabhukti.

After the Chandella dynasty fell from power post 1150 the temples of Khajuraho were disfigured badly by Muslim invaders and they suffered destruction. Local people were forced to leave Khajuraho because of the ruthless attack of Muslims. Historical lore says that the local townsfolk decided that if they left the town then invaders would spare the sanctity of the temples. Thus from the 13th century to 18th century the temples of Khajuraho remained under dense forest cover shielded away from eyes of the world before being discovered by British Engineer T.S Burt .

Culture of Khajuraho

Temples of Khajuraho have prominent posters in the Tourist Office of India and they have also been depicted in the temple grounds. Many famous dancers and musicians have given recitals with the famous Khajuraho temples in the background. However Khajuraho has mostly claimed the limelight because of the constructs of sexuality that feature in the temple architecture. The sheer fluidity of the lines and the eroticism of the figures have been referred to as an example of the liberal attitude of India. Gays and Lesbians have often cited Khajuraho as the epitome of expressions of sexual freedom.

Some scholars opine that the erotic statues of Khajuraho are often interpreted as sexual intercourse positions between divine beings, gods and goddesses. The temples that have such carvings and sculptures stand at some distance from the cluster of Jain temples and Hindu temples. The outer wall sculptures demonstrate the life style of common members of the society during the medieval age.

khajuraho scriptures

khajuraho scriptures

10th Century famous poetic and literary work like Karpurammanjari, Kavyamimansa, Prabodhacandrodaya etc are represented thematically in the sculptures of Khajuraho. Other interesting iconography includes Vrik Vyala (fusion of lion and wolf) and Gaja Vyala (fusion of lion and elephant).  The stories about temple architecture abound in the small town of Khajuraho and are expressed by locals through their art and craft.

Khajuraho is a town steeped in rich history and culture and fabric of social life here is fascinating. The population of Khajuraho is not high and the economy of the town is dependent on the tourism activities that center on monuments and temples of Khajuraho. The local folks here still follow the village lifestyle and are deeply religious.

Locals speak Hindi and many of them know rudimentary English. The local guides and some hotel staff speak Dutch, French and Jewish too.

Tourist Attractions of Khajuraho

The temples of khajuraho are well known for their architectural splendor. There are more than a hundred temples in the town and these are divided into separate blocks.

Western Group of Temples

This is the largest and the most famous temple group in Khajuraho. You have to get a ticket worth INR 10 to enter this group of temples. The prominent members of Western Group of Temples are:

Lakhmana Temple

Lakhmana Temple

Lakhmana Temple [Image Source: wikipedia.org]

This is a splendid Vaishno temple that is the crowning glory of the Western Block. A horizontal beam that lies over the Vaishnavite temple represents the trinity of Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu with their respective consorts.

Devi Jagdamba Temple

Devi Jagadambi Temple

Devi Jagadambi Temple [Image Source: www.panoramio.com]

This has some of the most intricate sculptures found in the whole of Khajuraho. This delicately proportional temple has a magnificient image of Jagdambi, the Universal Goddess. This temple also has some of the most erotic sculptures of Khajuraho.

Kandaruya Mahadeo Temple:

Kandaruya Mahadeo Temple

Kandaruya Mahadeo Temple

Some of the greatest masterpieces of Indian sculpture are found in Kandariya Mahadeo Temple which is gigantic in structure.

Varaha  Temple

Varaha Temple

Varaha Temple

This temple is dedicated to the Varaha incarnation of Vishnu. The principal deity shows a Boar in the center with the Sheshnag laying on the floor. The snout of Varaha contains the statue of Devi Saraswati and this shows how every sound uttered through the snout seeks the blessing of Saraswati.

Chitragupta Temple

Chitragupta Temple

Chitragupta Temple

This is a sun temple dedicated to Surya God and it faces towards the East.

Vishwanath Temple

Vishwanath Temple

Vishwanath Temple

The temple dedicated to Shiva’s incarnation Vishwanath is also famous for the huge statue of Nandi Bull which stands at the entrance.

Eastern Group of Temples

The Eastern Group of Khajuraho temples has more than 20 temples in their group; the most famous amongst them are mentioned below.

Parsvanath Temple

Parsvanath Temple

Parsvanath Temple

This is the biggest temple in the Eastern Group and it has lovely carvings detailed on it. There are lovely sculptures on the Northern side of the outer wall of the temple which shows an unique blend of Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist cultures.

Adinath Temple

Adinath Temple

Adinath Temple

This beautiful temple is dedicated to the Jain God Tirthankar and it’s heavily adorned with figures of Yakshis.

Ghantai Temple

ghantai temple

ghantai temple

This is beautiful Jain Temple with a fresco depicting all 16 dreams of Mahavira mother and also shows a Jain Goddess seated on a winged Garuda.

Vamana Temple

Vaman Temple

Vaman Temple [Image Source: wikimedia.org]

Vamana is the dwarf incarnation of Lord Vishnu and it is placed in a secluded place.  This is the only temple without the ornate architecture that hallmarks Khajuraho.

Brahma Temple

brahma temple

brahma temple

This temple is dedicated to the creator of the universe Brahma and is made entirely out of red sandstone.

Southern Group of Temples

Dulhadev Temple

Dulhadev Temple

Dulhadev Temple [Image Source: tripadvisor.com]

This temple has a huge Shiv Linga that is surrounded by a multitude of Apsaras and ornamental figures.  Its known for its sculptural magnificence.

Chaturbhuj Temple

chaturbhuj temple

chaturbhuj temple [Image Source: www.columbia.edu]

One of the oldest temples and completely bereft of any erotic sculpture this temple is 3 km away from the Eastern Group. There is a huge 4 armed 9 feet high Vishnu idol inside the temple.

Other attractions near Khajuraho are the Ken River, Panna National Park and the Bandhavgarh National Park.

What to Do in Khajuraho

When in Khajuraho you can entertain yourself by walking amidst the cultural cornucopia of the town. Every lane and street in Khajuraho is teeming with stories about its glorious past. Interact with the locals there and know about their lifestyle and arts and crafts. Intellectual gatherings are frequently organized in Khajuraho ehere views about eroticism and spirituality are exchanged.

Yoga Classes 
Hath Yoga

Hath Yoga

Arhanta Yoga Ashrama in Khajuraho offers the opportunity of studying Classical Hatha Yoga in a typical Ashram setting. Many foreigners frequent this Ashrama to know more about Yoga and its benefits.

Khajuraho Dance Festival
khajuraho dance festival

khajuraho dance festival

Annual Dance Festival of Khajuraho is held between 1st Feb to 7TH Feb. Lots of famous dancers and musicians showcase their skills against the stunning backdrop of the KhajuRaho Western Group of Temples. The Dance Festival promises the experience of  a lifetime and you shouldn’t miss seeing it if you happen to be around khajuraho then.

[Check out the Classical Madhya Pradesh Trip]

Light and Sound Show
light and sound show

light and sound show

This happens every evening at the Western Temple Group. The Narration is recorded in the voice of Bollywood Icon Amitabh Bachchan and there is a stunning show of light and sound which showcases the beauty of Khajuraho. The entry ticket for Indian Nationals cost 120 INR only.

Shopping:

Shopping for arts and crafts should definitely be a part of your agenda when you are in Khajuraho. Iron ware, stone sculptures, Brass ware etc depicting the erotic Kamasutra poses is famous in Khajuraho and you can buy them at the handicraft stores dotting the city.

Arts & crafts

The Government operated Crafts Emporium offers great deals in silver and gold ornaments, statues made of sand stone and local crafts work. The emporium is situated in Hotel Gem Palace in Jain Road.

The weekly haat at Rajinagar which is at distance of 4 km from Khajuraho is also a good place to pick up traditional silverware and brass ware.

Cuisine of Khajuraho

A visit to Khajuraho will provide you with a golden opportunity to sample the delicious Madhya Pradesh cuisine. Sweets and Namkeen found in this area are quite famous and don’t forget to try out moong dal halwa, kaju barfi, jalebi and shikanji found here. Some restaurants you can try out are:

  • Green View Restaurant: coloured a dramatic red and green this restaurant is famous for its Madhya Pradesh Thalis which have 10-15 different items in them
  • Paradise Restaurant: This restaurant is famous for its unusual concoction Mango Pancakes. It is located on Temple road and is affordable with a neat and clean  seating arrangement.
  • Mediterranean Restaurant: This is an exclusive place serving Greek and Mediterranean cuisine with western food and snacks
  • Raja Café: This quaint little place is run by two Swiss sisters. They offer authentic Swiss breakfast at just 70 INR
  • Agarwal Veg Restaurant besides the Hotel Gem Palace on the Jain Road serves excellent vegetarian Jain food. The tomato Boondi raita there is very famous.
  • Shivam Restaurant on Temple Road serves super affordable tasty vegetarian meals at just Rs 50
  • Madras Coffee House on Main Square serves South Indian Food and excellent Filter Coffee
  • Beans grounded is a Western Style Café and Breakfast Place that opens at 8 A.M and serves good heart English breakfast.

Accommodation Options

There are many types of accommodation options in Khajuraho starting from Expensive premium hotels to Tourism Board Hotels and Budget Hotels and Lodges. You can choose your suitable option from the list given below.

  • Madhya Pradesh Tourism Department Hotels
  • Jhankar Hotel: contact 07686 274063; room rate INR 1190
  • Payal Hotel: Contact 07686 274064; Room Rate INR 690-1190
  • Rahil Hotel: Contact 07686 274062; Room Rate INR 490 for single Room
Budget Hotel
  • Isabel Palace Khajuraho : Contact 9893163287; Room Rate: 50$
  • Lakeside Hotel: Contact7686-274120; Room Rate : INR 1400
  • Hotel Greenwood: 7686274505; near Airport
  • Hotel Zen: At Jain Temple Road owned by Osho member Rajesh. Offers meditation classes from 5 A.M
Mid Range Hotels
  • Kairali Ayurvedic Spa: Contact 07686 272 219
  • Holiday Inn: Contact 07686 272301
  • Hotel Jass Oberoi: Contact 07686 272344
Premium Hotels
  • Lalit Temple View Hotel: Circuit House Khajuraho; Contact 07686 272111; Room rate 150$
  • Hotel Radisson: By Pass Road Khajuraho; Contact 07686 272777; Room Rate 70$
  • Hotel Clarks KhajuRaho: 1 km from Airport: Contact 07686 274257; Room Rate 100$
  • Usha Bundela Hotel: Contact 07686 272 386

Climate of Khajuraho

Khajuraho has extreme climate with a lot of variation between day and night temperatures. Rainfall is low (114 cm annual) and the humidity is also low. In summers the temperature shoots up to around 45 degrees and winters stay pleasant at around 22-27 degrees. Feb- March is a good time to visit Khajuraho as the weather is nice and the dance festival also takes place around this time.

How to Reach Khajuraho

Flight: Khajuraho Airport is located 5 km away from the Khajuraho town and there are regular flights operated by Air India and kingfisher from Delhi and Varanasi.

Train: A train station became operational in khajuraho and it falls on the Delhi/ Bengaluru/ Trivandrum Main Line. Strangely train tickets cannot be brought from the station and have to be booked online or from the bus station. Sampark Kranti Express and Dakshin Express are two trains that stop at khajuraho.

Alternatively you can take a train to Satna (Allahabad-Mumbai route) or the Mahoba (Jhansi-Varanasi route).

Taxi and Bus service to Khajuraho is very good though the condition of roads is not good. Buses are available from Agra, Satna, Mahoba, Jhansi, Khajuraho and Gwalior.

Travel Tips

  • Internet Cafes are mostly situated around the most popular Western group of Temples. They charge around 25 INR per hour but you shouldn’t expect high speed Internet. A good place to go to is Om Internet and Travel Agency.
  • Avoid giving money to children and beggars around in Khajuraho as this will only encourage them to make begging their livelihood.
  • If you want to change money then contact the local Bank as Airports will charge you higher. Contact SBI which is near the Western Group of Temples. You can get an advance on your Master Card at Canara Bank which is also near the Western Group of Temples.
  • Don’t forget to carry flashlight, map, water bottle, sunscreen and glares with you
  • Dial 07686 274032 for emergency help from police and dial 102 for ambulance.

Have a happy and safe trip to the temple capital of India; Khajuraho!!!

Amarnath Yatra Start Date 2015

Registration for Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2015 would start from March 1st, 2015.

Amarnath Yatra 2015 starts on 02 July, 2015 and concludes on 29 August, 2015, Compulsory Health Certificate required for registration

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