Agra is home to possibly the most famous and beautiful building in the world: the Taj Mahal, built in the 17th century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb and memorial for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Along the river Yamuna is the impressive Red Fort from where there are fantastic views of the Taj. The Red Fort was the capital of the Moghul Empire and thus of India during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Ahmedabad is the cultural capital of Gujarat and a major textile and crafts center of India. The city is also packed with a diversity of architectural styles, with over fifty mosques and tombs, as well as Hindu and Jain temples and grand step-wells which often display beautiful carvings. The old part of town has a maze of narrow winding alleys with carved wooden house fronts and thriving bazaars. What to see Ahmed Shah’s Mosque.
The isolated capital Aizawl (pronounced Eye-jull) is built along a central ridge and several surrounding spurs. White-painted churches stand out above the residential buildings which cling precariously to the hillsides. Built on steep slopes, Aizawl could well be the world’s steepest capital. Houses often have front doors at street level while the backs stand precariously on stilts three times higher than their roofs. What to see Getting There General information Excursions
When kings went out for hunting, they had to stop over at night. The small village of Ajabgarh was used as a hunting lodge and pleasure garden by the the Maharajah of Alwar. Its surrounded by palm trees, eucalyptus trees and many fruit trees as well. This beautiful abode is now the site of the luxurious Amanbagh hotel. The 40 room Amanbagh is set in a beautiful oasis at the foot of Jai Sagar reservoir.
The Ajanta Caves (2nd century B.C. till 650 A.D.) reflect the peak of ancient Indian art and architecture. The caves were cut in rocky cliffs above a horseshoe shaped valley to provide prayer halls and place of residence for Buddhist monks. Craft workers cut out the rock and sculpted it whilst others made beautiful murals depicting places, royalty, culture and tales of everyday life of ancient India. As Buddhism gradually declined, the Ajanta caves were abandoned and eventually forgotten.
At the heart of predominantly Hindu Rajasthan is the Muslim city of Ajmer. This busy city is most famous for the shrine of the Sufi saint Mu’inuddin Chishti who was instrumental in spreading Islam throughout northern India in the 12th century. The tomb (Dargah) is now a major pilgrimage place for Moslems, particularly during the annual commemoration of the saint’s death. Ajmer is also the home of Mayo College, one of the most prestigious public schools in India, originally built as an educational center for the princes of royal India.
Founded in the early 12th century AD, the religious enclave of Alchi houses an extraordinary wealth of ancient wall paintings and wood sculpture. It is considered the jewel among Ladakh’s monasteries. Barely a handful of the monasteries founded during this era escaped the Muslim depredations of the fourteenth century but the Alchi treasures were miraculously preserved for over nine centuries insides five tiny mud walled temples. What to see Getting There General information Excursions
Allahabad is the meeting point for three rivers, the Ganges, the Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati, and is therefore one of the seven sacred cities for Hindus. Once in twelve years, Allahabad hosts the famous Kumbh Mela. The city was an important cantonment during the British Raj and has some beautiful remnants of colonial architecture. The city is also famous for the fact that it was the residence of the illustrious Nehru family.
Allapuzha (or Alleppey) is a bustling town south of Kochi, and a major trading centre for the coir industry. It is also the centre of Kerala’s backwaters with many interesting homestays in villages around the town. Caressed by the Arabian Sea in the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh-water rivers crossing it, this backwater country shelters some unique animal and birdlife. What to see Mullakkal Ralaraleswari Temple: With Goddess Rajarajeshwari as the presiding deity, it is located in the heart of Alappuzha town.
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