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Discover India Itineraries
Since India is full of unseen places waiting to be explored, there are a few offbeat places on this specific sector, waiting to be unlocked on the Discover India Holiday Package! You could i to start with the capital city of each region and move on to unfold other destinations!
You could start with a familiarization trip towards Bengaluru or Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka. Glossy malls and supermarkets have mushroomed all over the city, though a part or its original flavour has been retained as there are still some bungalows laden with bougainvillea, the smell of filter coffee in the early hours of the morning, old temples, a culture of cinema, theatre and music, skies strewn with clouds, and the slow, careful opening of flowers such as the golden trumpets, jacaranda and gulmohar, emphasizing a mystical aroma for the tourists! Your journey could begin with a trip towards some historical buildings such as the City Railway Station and the Kempegowda Bus Stand enclosing the `heart of the town,’ as closeby is the Cubbon Park with a profusion of hotels, shops, eateries and bars that make up Brigade Road, Church Street and Commercial Street. The city’s other major lung is a horticultural delight called Lal Bagh, known for its flora as it has a pristine air and allows a healthy walk, being encompassed with fountains, nurseries, glistening at noon and dusk and birds and chipmunks thriving all around. The Bull Temple in Basavagudi inspires awe with its monolithic bull hulking, and nearby stands the Dodda Ganesha Temple with its enormous Ganesh idol. The Iskcon Hare Krishna Temple is emblematic of the city with a merger of technology and tradition, as with a combination of glass and gopurams , Ornate arches and pillars, soothing fountains and Rajagopuram make this a peaceful place. The Wonder La Amusement Park, is touted as India’s biggest water park, and the highway has on-ground rides, water slides, wave pools, restaurants, laser show and fireworks every evening. The Banerghatta Biological Park is where the rehabilitated lions and tigers are settled in semi-wild environs, as there is a zoo, a herbivore enclosure with blackbuck, bison, cheetal, sambar , a butterfly garden, a bear enclosure, and for this pleasure a Grand Safari may be arranged to cover all enclosures, or alternatively an elephant joy ride or a short or long trek!
Straightaway move to Mahakuta, located a short distance from Badami in Karnataka and is connected to it by a secret, eucalyptus-lined pathway, the gateway of which is flanked by skeletal figures of Kala and Kali. The main attraction of this walled complex is the Mahakuteshvar Temple, the surrounding 7th-century shrines and the large tank fed by a natural spring. Situated near Badami, the Banashankari Temple holds great importance for the pilgrims. The structure has used some of the late Chalukyan columns, but the most awe-inspiring feature is its lamp-studded tower, which is lit only on special occasions.
The massive statue of Bahubali, looking over the town of Shravanabelagola, in Karnataka is often seen in brochures of the Hassan-Belur-Halebidu circuit, and certainly deserves a detour. Though the town has no connected with the Hoysala temple trail, but can be conveniently clubbed on the same route. A centre for Jain pilgrimage, Shravanabelagola deserves a couple of hours and also worth your time are the two temple hills of Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri. The monolithic statue of Lord Gomateshwara (Bahubali), 57ft tall, dwarfs anyone who ascends the steep rock steps of Vindhyagiri. Reach in time for the early morning prayers when devotees gather to chant. You could also be the lucky one to join Mahamastakabhisheka, a festival celebrated every 12 years, when the statue is bathed in consecrated water, milk, sugarcane juice and saffron paste. The next big day will be in 2018. Chandragiri, which houses an older set of Jain temples, is shorter and easier to climb and is relatively peaceful, waiting to be crowded with tourists on the Discover India Holiday Package!
Just 17km from Hampi, the immaculately clean and well-maintained Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary in Karnataka is home to sloth bears, amongst other animals, and they can be seen roaming a wide gorge from a watch tower. The bears are given their food in the afternoon, so it is best to get there when you can watch them from a relatively closer spot and can even drive up to the watch tower.
The towns of Moodbidri and Karkala in Karnataka make for a daylong detour from Mangalore. The epithet ‘Jain Kashi’ is attached to Moodbidri, a small town packed with Jain shrines. There are historically important Jain temples in this seat of Digambara culture, of which the Thousand Pillar Basadi is the most important. Over centuries old, its architectural features are a fascinating mix of Oriental, Nepalese and Hoysala influences. The other two temples worth visiting are Guru Basadi and Vikarama Shetty Basadi.
Chennai is Tamilnadu’s capital and a portal to the state’s rich culture, which is quintessential in character as there are favourite kanchivaram saris, the beloved veshti and the fragrance of mallipu in every street and corner, as much as carnatic music and dance gatherings which are an integral part of urban life in a way no other city can claim. Coconut chutney and filter kapi or coffee, though kapi connoisseurs may indulge at the thriving coffee pubs and larger-than-life cutouts of politicos jostling for space besides kitschy film posters……….for this is Tamil Nadu, a Blend of urbanization and ethnicity as you open your eyes on the Discover India Holiday Package!
In Chennai, you could start by visiting the Kapaleeswarar Koil, a Shiva temple, which is an important landmark having beautiful bronze idols and Madras houses. Proceed to Fort St. George which houses the Fort Museum, enclosing a large number of colonial antiquities and paintings, followed by St. George’s Cathedral, a splendid example of classical architecture. Take some time for leisure and pleasure at the Marina Beach which has an Italian-style promenade and is one of the longest urban beaches in the world. You may then move on to Tirumala’s Sri Venkateshwara Temple, the second richest and most visited temple in India. There are several shrines in Tirumala but the darshan of Lord Venkatehswara is the main concern, the black stone idol wearing a divine smile, wherein the deity has been adorned with the world’s largest emerald encrusted with 28,000 diamonds. You may take a boat ride for the RK Beach which holds a fish aquarium that has fascinating sea creatures from all over the world including moray eels, puffer fish and piranha.
You then continue south towards the small village of Mamallapuram (or as earlier called Mahabalipuram), to visit the Shore Temple, another of India’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. In the late afternoon, perhaps after you have enjoyed a swim or jog along the beach, you may explore the monuments by bicycle or on foot, on a guided tour. The impressive group of monuments at here was sculpted by the Pallava kings and amongst these; the Shore Temple stands out in particular, owing to its extraordinary location abutting the sea. Actually it is a twin-temple dedicated both to Vishnu and Shiva and the Five Rathas, sculpted in granite are situated nearby. Aside from its draw as a temple site, Mamallapuram is also a favorite shopping haunt for South Indian artifacts, both wooden and granite-based.
Topslip in Tamil Nadu is a base to explore the Indira Gandhi (Annamalai) Wildlife Sanctuary. Regulated treks through the forest called nature walks, accompanied by forest vehicles and elephant safaris provide an excellent opportunity to experience the diverse flora and fauna of the area. You can also watch the safari elephants being fed at the elephant camp in the morning. The Sanctuary hosts the tiger, leopard, elephant and gaur as well as the Nilgiri langur, the lion-tailed macaque and many birds. For a more varied experience combine the trip with a brief visit to Parambikulam, near Kerala, on this wonderful Discover India Holiday Package!
A train ride or a drive in the morning takes you to Pondicherry which was the largest French Colony in India and an important trading town, in the same State. There is a strong French influence in the lay out as old-fashioned village houses, bushes thickly covered with hibiscus and horses grazing in a large open space are a charming throwback to some older world, but the stream that passes through the resort clinches it. Puducherry or the `French Riviera’, is but in contrast to its name, acclaimed with a slow and still aura, attracting the tourists as they walk on those tree-lined avenues, among painted colonial buildings, with the heart-lifting sea breeze for company. There is no beach here but a wall of rocks, which makes for a curvacious but satisfying walk. You could visit the Notre Dame des Anges Church, a quiet and peaceful place, the Pondicherry Museum with its huge rooms, wide windows and high ceilings, chola bronzes, beads, coins and artefacts from Dupleix’s time.
Not many know that the Danes discovered this part of the world well before the French or British. Move on to Tharangambadi (formerly Tranquebar) in Tamil Nadu, known as the ‘land of the singing waves’, which lies to the north of Karaikal and was established by the Danish East India Company as a trading post. The oldest, most imposing structure here is the atmospheric Fort Dansborg, which, today, is home to a fascinating museum containing porcelain figurines, crockery, yellowed manuscripts and other relics.
Around Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, is a town famous for its temple of Lord Muruga in his incarnation as Swaminatha, the mentor of Swami or Shiva. The Swaminatha Swami temple commemorates the legend that even as a little boy; Muruga was so full of wisdom that he was able to explain the concept of ‘Om’ to his father, Shiva. Swamimalai is also where the world famous Thanjavur bronze icons are manufactured, especially the exquisite dancing Nataraja. Individual sculptors and little factories jostle for space in the small town to create the much-sought after icons. Many are willing to explain and demonstrate the actual process of making these icons, something that is worth watching. You could make a quick trip to Thanjavur which is famed for its Brihadeesvara temple, constructed with blocks of granite and the noteworthy shrine of Goddess Brihan Nayaki being appreciated for the exquisite stone frescoes. You may proceed to the Sivaganga Fort, Royal Palace and museums, defining the Chola-era sculpture!
Move on to Madurai in the same State, an important commercial center but strongly identified as a temple town. Although there are many temples sprinkled throughout the city, none compares to the size and detail of the Meenakshi temple. The enormous temple complex is dedicated to Shiva, known here as Sundareshvara and his consort Parvati or Meenakshi. Even before you pass through the massive stone walls of the temple, the nine striking gopurams or towers catch your attention as monumental gateways covered with stucco figures of dieties, mythical animals and monsters, all painted in vivid colors, distinguishing the temple loom high above. The temple’s tallest spire raises very high and brought acclaim to it as the tallest structure in Asia.
You may have an interesting and unique cycle rickshaw tour of Madurai, covering areas like the fruit and vegetable market and places where aluminum products are made. Watch the pressing of oil by bullocks and the famous Gandhi Museum and Palace. After a tour of the temple complex, perhaps you want to shop for handicrafts or duck into the cool shades of the covered, stone tailor’s market, where rows of expert tailors will whip you up a custom shirt in a matter of minutes, all done on antique foot-pump sewing machines. In the late evening you may like to visit the Meenakshi temple again for the night time rituals. Filled with incense, people and noise, get bewitched by this wonderful spectacle, on the Discover India Holiday Package!
Take a refreshing break to enter the small and serene for the most part, but mist-wrapped Coonoor in season, when the emerald of its tea bushes is offset by blood-red poinsettia, purple morning glory and golden sunflowers, a charming retreat! This quintessential tea country lies in the nature of a tea plantation in cool and hilly climates, where clouds and mist keep the ambience moist through the undulating terrain and rolling hills, making a silky green carpet, perfectly clipped at all times as the bushes are regularly pruned of their leaves. Touches of the Raj remain all over the hill station, in honeysuckle-fronted cottages which sit on the side of the winding pine-hedged lanes. The tourist points include Sim’s Park with winding footpaths, pergolas, gazebos and a dense shola skirting it, Lamb’s Rock giving breathtaking views of the Coimbatore Plains and plantation vistas, Dolphin’s Nose as a huge rock from where you can see the Catherine Falls, Law’s Fall ,a festive picnic spot and High Tea Field Factory with gorgeous views of the hills, the tea plantation spreading out below and a golf course in the valley.
For all its relative newness on the tourist map, Andhra Pradesh, individualistically, is a destination visited by huge Indian crowds heading towards the religious shrine of Tirupati, as it hosts the mammoth Balaji Temple. You would have visited the same through Chennai. The capital city of Hyderabad is an oasis of the Deccan Plateau and a unique brand of cuisine and culture. The smell of aromatic `biryani’, the lilting tongue called `Dakkani or Hyderabadi’, the rich legacy of the Nizams, the stunning Charminar, the famous diamond mines that produced some of the world’s most coveted rocks, the Kohinoor, the Regent Diamond and the Hope and the Orloff. The city has also grown into a hub of information technology and has been nicknamed as `Cyberabad’ and is home to the Telugu film industry. The Hyderabadis are proud to tell tales behind their colourful and splendid palaces and they love to sip `chai’ in the twin city of Secundarabad, dig into the biryani with mirchi ka salan and bargain in the shops around Charminar. Besides the above spectacular sites, tourists could visit the `Golconda Fort’ where you can see the Fateh Darwaza, the Jami Masjid, the palaces, halls and baths, the Durbar Hall at the very top, and the graceful onion-domed tombs of the Qutub Shahi kings and their consorts. The Mecca Masjid is a grand old mosque with the belief that some bricks in its central arch were made using earth brought from Mecca. The Chowmoholla Palace (is closed to the public and can be viewed only from outside) and the Falaknuma Palace are the city’s grandest palaces. You could visit the Paigah marvels which is an interesting complex of six palaces and has two mosques, the larger of which is a unique example of Moorish architecture.
Situated at a short distance from Hyderabad, Pochampally is a weavers’ village, where ‘ikat’ like designs on cotton and silk are painstakingly woven on mechanised and pit looms. The Pochampally Handloom Weavers Co-operative Society and Raj Kumar Handlooms are two of the best options when it comes to shopping there. The latter can also guide you to smaller villages where weavers work on pit looms in clusters or groups and you could also visit the
Spartan museum, Chenethakala Kendram, and a temple dedicated to Vinobha Bhave Nagarjuna that is worth a look, due to its architectural temple art and noveau design, with intricate carvings and inscriptions on this Discover India Holiday Pacakage!
Shell, granite and soapstone carvings of horses, gods and goddesses and nature’s usual souvenirs are tempting enough to make that hole in your pockets around the beachside! Kanchivaram silk saris are preserved as precious heirlooms and the traditional designs such as the annapakshi, a mythical bird, yashi, a fierce ornate lion, the mango, the elephant and the temple gopuram are eternal favourites. There is the stunning vaira oosi or diamond needles used to make a sari that is part colour and part gold. The Ekambaranathan sari and the Avudaiyar sari are inspired by the sculptures in the temples. Temple and costume jewellery, art galleries, terrific bookstores, antiques, gorgeous silk fabrics, linen, home furnishings and saris may be bought from different places!
Thanjavur paintings, bronzes, beautiful veenas, and the colourful thalayatti bommais, head nodding dolls may also be purchased as collectives! Handcrafted Pondicherry pottery in exquisite glazes and colours, handmade paper products, candles, incense sticks, jams and pickles could lead to an extravagant indulgence!
Hyderabad is known as the pearl city of India always inviting tourists to spend on this awesome gem and the city is also bestowed with a rich weaving tradition of Gadwals, Pochampallis, Kalamkari and Narayanpetts, saris and fabrics, indigenous to the region, and almost a must and irresistible buy for the visitors.
Culinary fare consists of Indian and Chinese food, multi-cuisine, cheese eggs, continental dishes, salads, soups like potato- potato soup, pizzas, pastas, steaks and sizzlers, being sold in outlets spread throughout the area. There are café-style restaurants serving a dish called chaiyo-minced meat-mint-lettuce starter, biryani, simple vegetarian meals, chettinad fare. Indian food fare and tasty regular banana leaf plates with a vegetarian meal, eateries serving garlic fish fry with a thick, white dosa, masla fish fry and tiger prawns, vegetarians with yummy South Indian food, thali, multi-cuisine. There are melt-in-the- mouth,udupi thalis, along with Tamil vegetarian thalis and biryani! South Indian cuisine including garlic fish fry with a soft, thick, white dosa, tiger prawns and masala fish fry – catering to foreign as well as Indian taste. There is no scarcity of vegetarian thalis, bhajjis, parottas, South Indian staple, and multi-cuisine food, as well as compact set-ups, highlighting refreshing candlelit dinners with delicious Indian, Chinese, Italian and Continental meals. The Hyderabadi cuisine imbibes the Mughlai traditions of the zesty sauces and spices of the South, creating a vast and tempting repertoire of hyderabadi biryanis (vegetarian and non-vegetarian), haleem, mirchi ka salan, bagharay baigan and pathar ka gosht.
Recommended for a visit throughout the year, even in hot and humid summers as every site is a tempting treat for the eyes and enough to engage in both indoor and outdoor vistas, which helps to ignore thunder, rain, sunshine, or snow which ofcourse is an impossible occurrence on this sector of the Discover India Holiday Package!