truly sets India apart from various other travel destinations is its vast
cultural treasure stemming from a historic past.
grand repository of ancient cultural and natural treasures is of great
significance to the history and civilization of the world.
Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri in Agra, the Konark Sun Temple,
Khajuraho Temples, Mahabalipuram Monuments, Brihadishwara Temple, Thanjavur,
Hampi Monuments as well as the Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta Caves are some of
the monuments declared as World Heritage Monuments.
these monuments there are many historically important temples scattered all over
the past, as also in the present, the temple has been the focus of the
religious, social and economic life of the Indian people. Myriads of Gods,
Goddesses and celestial beings are wrought on the temple walls in a tremendous
display of projected emotional states, ranging from the horrific to the erotic
to the sublime. These supremely complex works of art never fail to fascinate all
India there are places where the visitor encounters history at every step.
in the desert state of Rajasthan, an area of awe inspiring physical beauty where
massive forts and magnificent palaces are found even in the remotest parts of
thriving colourful folk culture and over thousand years of history and myths
have been passed down generations as stories of valour and love.
FEE : US$ 5 per person plus INR 500
stands on the right bank of the Yamuna, about 1.5 km from the Agra Fort. The Taj
was built to enshrine the remains of Arjmand Banu Begam entitled Mumtaz Mahal,
the consort of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Its construction commenced in AD 1631
and completed 17 years later at enormous cost and labour. The architect
responsible for the construction was Ustad Ahmed Lahori. Unlike other Mughal
garden tombs, the mausoleum is situated at the northern end of a large
rectangular area with its central portion divided into a square garden. The
entire portion is enclosed within a high boundary wall having broad octagonal
pavilions at corners. The Taj is entered through a majestic gateway in the
centre of the southern side where there is a spacious quadrangle. Closed on
5 per person plus INR 50
honour of saint Shaikh Salim Chisti, the Mughal emperor, Akbar the great,
founded a magnificent city on Sikri ridge. In 1571 he ordered the construction
of buildings for his own use and asked the noblemen to build houses for
themselves. Within a year, most of the work was finished and within the next few
years, a well planned city with administrative, residential and religious
buildings came into existence.
Jami Mosque was perhaps among the first buildings to come up. Its epigraph gives
AH 979 (AD 1571-72) as the date of its completion. The Baland-Darwaza was added
some five years later.
other important buildings are the tomb of Shaikh Salim Chishti, the Naubat-or
Naqqar Khana (drum-house), Taksal (mint), Karkhanas (royal workshop), Khazana
(treasury), Hakim's quarters, Diwan-i-Am (hall of public audience), house of
Maryam also called SUnahra Makan (Golden House), palace of Jodh Bai, Birbal's
5 per person plus INR 10
represents first major building project of Akbar, through remains of only a few
buildings built by him now survive. Built on the site of an earlier castle in AD
1565-75, the fort, apart from other important units, contains Jahangiri Mahal,
Khass Mahal, Diwan-i-Khass, Diwan-i-Am, Machchhi Bhawan and Moti Masjid. Many
extant buildings were erected by Shah Jahan (AD 1630-55). Irregularly triangular
on plan, it is enclosed by a double battlemented massive wall of red sandstone
which is about 2 km in perimetre and interrupted by graceful curves and lofty
bastions. Of its four gates, the most impressive is the Delhi Gate on the west.
5 per person
Minar in red and buff sandstone is the highest tower in India. It has a diameter
of 14.32m at the base and about 2.75m on the top with a height of 72.5m.
Aibak laid the foundation of Minar in AD 1199 for the use of the mu'azzin
(crier) to give calls for prayer and raised the first storey, to which were
added three more storeys by his successor and son-in-law, Shamsu'd-Din Iltutmish
(AD 1211-36). All the storeys are surrounded by a projected balcony encircling
the minar and supported by stone brackets, which are decorated with honey-comb
design, more conspicuously in the first storey.
inscriptions in Arabic and Nagari characters in different places of the minar
reveal the history of Qutab. According to the inscriptions on its surface it was
repaired by Firuz Shah Tughlaq (AD 1351-88) and Sikandar Lodi (AD
1489-1517). Major R. Smith also repaired and restored the minar in 1829.
Mosque to the north-east of minar was built by Qutbu'd-Din Aibak in AD 1198. It
is the earliest extant mosque built by the Delhi Sultans. It consists of a
rectangular courtyard enclosed by cloisters, erected with the carved columns and
architectural members of 27 Hindu and Jaina temples which were demolished by
Qutbu'd-Din Aibak as recorded in his inscription on the main eastern entrance.
Later, a lofty arched screen was erected and the mosque was enlarged by Shamsu'd-Din
Iltutmish (AD 1210-35) and Alau'd-Din Khalji. The Iron Pillar in the courtyard
bears an inscription in Sanskrit in Brahmi script of fourth century AD,
according to which the pillar was set up as a Vishnudhvaja (standard of god
Vishnu) on the hill known as Vishnupada in memory of a mighty king named Chandra.
A deep socket on the top of the ornate capital indicates that probably an image
of Garuda was fixed into it.
tomb of Iltutmish (AD 1211-36) was built in AD 1235. It is a plain square
chamber of red sandstone, profusely carved with inscriptions, geometrical and
arabesque patterns in Saracenic tradition on the entrances and the whole of
interior. Some of the motifs viz., the wheel, tassel etc., are reminiscent of
the southern gateway of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque was constructed by Alau'd-Din
Khalji in AH 710 (AD 1311) as recorded in the inscriptions engraved on it. This
is the first building employing Islamic principles of construction and
5 per person
first substantial example of a garden tomb on charbagh pattern with high arches
and double dome was erected by Humayun's queen Hamida Banu Begam (Haji Begam) in
AD 1569 at a cost of 15 lakh rupees (1.5 million).
high rubble built enclosure is entered through two lofty double-storeyed
gateways on the west and south. A baradar (pavilion) occupies the centre of the
eastern wall and a hammam (bath chamber) in the centre of northern wall. The
lofty mausoleum is in the centre of the enclosure and rises from podium faced
with series of cells having arched openings. The central octagonal chamber
contains the cenotaph, encompassed by octagonal chambers at the diagonals and
arched lobbies on the sides. Their openings are closed with perforated
screens. Each side is dominated by three arches, the central one being the
highest. This plan is repeated on the second storey too. The roof surmounted by
a double dome (42.5m) of marble has pillared kiosks (chhatris) placed around it.
rulers of the Mughal dynasty lie buried here. Bahadur Shah Zafar had taken
refuge in this tomb with three princes during the first war of Independence (AD
the southwestern side of the tomb is located barber's tomb (Nai-ka-Gumbad) which
stands on a raised platform, reached by seven steps from the south. The building
is square on plan and consists of a single compartment covered with a
5 per person
anciently known as Gharapuri, the island capital of Konkan Mauryas, is
celebrated for its colossal image of Mahesa-murti with three heads each
representing a different form.
fact, there are seven caves out of which the most important is the Mahesa-murti
cave. The main body of the cave, excludin-g the porticos on the three open sides
and the back isle, is 27 metres square and is supported by rows of six columns
each. The gigantic figures of dvarapalas or doorkeepers here are very
are sculptured compartments in this cave with remarkable images of
ardhanarisvara, Kalyana-sundara Siva, Ravana lifting Kailasa, Andhakari-murti
(slaying of Andhaka demon) and Nataraja Siva.
5 per person
caves including the unfinished ones are thirty in number, of which five (9, 10,
19, 26 and 29) are chaitya-grihas and the rest are sangharamas
or viharas (monasteries). After centuries of oblivion, these caves
were discovered in AD 1819. They fall into two distinct phases with a break of
nearly four centuries between them. All the caves of the earlier phase date
between 2nd century BC-AD.
caves of the second phase were excavated during the supremacy of the Vakatakas
and Guptas. According to inscriptions, Varahadev, the minister of the Vakataka
king, Harishena (c.475-500 AD), dedicated Cave 16 to the Buddhist sangha
while Cave 17 was the gift of the prince a feudatory. An inscription records
that Buddha image in Cave 4 was the gift of some Abhayanandi who hailed from
few paintings which survive on the walls of Caves 9 and 10 go back to the 2nd
century BC-AD. The second group of the paintings started in about the fifth
century AD. The second group of the paintings started in about the fifth century
AD and continued for the next two centuries as noticeable in later caves. The
themes are intensely religious in tone and centre round Buddha, Bodhisattvas,
incidents from the life of Buddha and the Jatakas. The paintings
are executed on a ground of mud-plaster in the tempera technique.
ELLORA CAVES, AURANGABAD
5 per person
The magnificent group
of rock-cut shrines of Ellora, representing three different faiths, Buddhist,
Brahmanical and Jaina were excavated during the period from 5th to the 13th
century AD. The Buddhist Caves (1 to 12) were excavated between the 5th and the
7th centuries AD, when the Mahayana sects were flourishing in the region.
Important in this group are Caves 5, 10 and 12. Cave 10 is a chaitya-hall
and is popularly known as 'Visvakarma'. It has a highly ornamental facade
provided with in gallery and in the chaitya-hall is a beautiful
image of Buddha set on a stupa. Among the viharas, Cave 5 is the
largest. The most impressive vihara is the three - storeyed cave
called 'Tin - Tala'. It has a large open-court in front which provides access to
the huge monastery. The uppermost storey contains sculptures of Buddha.
The Brahmanical caves numbering
13 to 29 are mostly Saivite. Kailasa (Cave 16) is a remarkable example of
rock-cut temples in India on account of its striking proportion, elaborate
workmanship, architectural content and sculptural ornamentation. The whole
temple consists of a shrine with linga at the rear of the hall
with Dravidian sikhara, a flat-roofed mandapa
supported by sixteen pillars, a separate porch for Nandi surrounded by an
open-court entered through a low gopura. There are two dhvaja-stambhas,
or pillars with the flagstaff, in the courtyard. The grand sculpture of Ravana
attempting to lift mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva, with his full might is a
landmark in Indian art.
The Jaina Caves (30 to 34) are
massive, well-proportioned, decorated and mark the last phase of the activity at
SUN TEMPLE, KONARAK
5 per person
Kainapara of the Periplus
(first century AD), is an important port of the Orissan coast. The most notable
marvel of Orissan art is the stately Sun Temple. Built in c.AD 1250, during the
reign of the Eastern Ganga King Narasimhadeva-I (AD 1238-64), it was to enshrine
an image of Sun (Arka), the patron deity of the place. The entire
complex was designed in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited
horses on twelve pairs of exquisitely carved wheels. The sanctum symbolises the
majestic stride of the Sun-god and marks the culmination of the Orissan
architectural style. The vimana of the deul has
collapsed, while that of jagamohana and the nata-mandapa
are better preserved, The walls of the temple contain superb carving of divine,
semi-divine, human and animal figures amidst floral and geometric
ornamentations. The vivacious kanyas and danseuse are remarkable
for their sensuous modelling, pulsating with human emotions which are absorbed
in a variety of gestures and rhythmic actions. Such sculptures render the
Orissan temple a class unto themselves. Mighty simha-gajas welcome
the visitor at the porches.
MAHABALIPURAM, GROUP OF
5 per person
Mamallapuram, the city of Mamalla, is after the title of great Pallava ruler
Narasimhavarman-I (AD 630-68). It was a sea-port during the time of Periplus
(1st century AD) and Ptolemy (AD 140) and many Indian colonists sailed to
south-east Asia through this port town. While there is some evidence of
architectural activity going back to the period of Mahendravarman-I (AD 600-30),
the father of Mamalla, most of the monuments like rock-cut rathas,
sculptured scenes on open rocks like Arjuna's penance, the caves of
Goardhanandhari and Mahishasuramardini, the Jala-Sayana Perumal temple (the
sleeping Mahavishnu or Chakrin at the rear part of the Shore temple complex) are
attributed to the period of Narasimhavarman-I Mamalla.
The monolithic rathas
from single to triple-storeyed, display a variety of architectural forms. While
the Dharmaraja, Arjuna and Draupadi rathas are square on plan, the
Bhima and Ganesa rathas are rectangular and Sahadeva ratha
apsidal. Though monilithic sculpturing, both cut-in and cut-out, continued even
during later periods (Atiranachanda cave, Pidari rathas and
Tiger-cave), the structural architecture was introduced on a grand scale by
Pallava Rajasimha (AD 700-28), culminating in erection of the world famous Shore
temple. After Rajasimha there is lull in the architectural activity of the
place, save a few additions during late-Pallava and Chola times. The grandiose
Vijayanagara phase here is represented by the Raja Gopurams and the
Sthala-Sayana temple, juxtaposed to the carved boulder of Arjuna's penance.
GOA, CHURCHES AND CONVENTS
5 per person
The most comprehensive
group of churches and cathedrals built during 16th and 17th century AD at Old
Goa comprise of the following:
Se'Cathedral, Church and
Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, Chapel of St. Catherine, Basilica of Born
Jesus; Church of Lady of Rosary; Church of St. Augustine.
The Church of St. Cajetan is
modelled on the original design of St. Peter's Church in Rome. The Church of Bom
Jesus with its facade decorated with lonic, Doric and Corinthian pilasters,
shows the application of the Classical order. The Se'Cathedral, with its Tuscan
exterior the Corinthian columns at its portals, the raised platform with steps
leading to the entrance, the barrel-vault above the nave, is yet another example
The paintings in the churches
were done on wooden borders and fixed between panels having floral designs as in
the chapels housing the tomb of St. Xavier, the arches above the altars in the
transept of the Se'Cathedral and in the nave on either side of the main altar in
the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. Excepting a few which are in stone, the
statues are mostly in wood delicately carved and painted to adorn the altars.
They depict mostly the saints, Mother Mary and Jesus on the cross.
KHAJURAHO GROUP OF MONUMENTS
5 per person
Kharjjuravahaka, was the principal seat of authority of the Chandella rulers who
adorned it with with numerous tanks, scores of lofty temples of sculptural grace
and architectural splendour. The local tradition lists eighty-five temples but
now only twenty-five are standing examples in various stages of preservation.
But for Chausath-Yogini, Brahma and Mahadeva which are of granite, all the other
temples are of fine grained sandstone, buff, pink or pale yellow in colour.
Yasovarman (AD 954) built the
temple of Vishnu, now famous as Lakshmana temple is an ornate and evolved
example of its time proclaiming the prestige of the Chandellas.
The Visvanatha, Parsvanatha and
Vaidyanatha temples belong to the time of king Dhanga, the successor of
Yasovarman. The Jagadambi, Chitragupta are noteworthy among the western group of
royal temples of Khajuraho. The largest and grandest temple of Khajuraho is the
immortal Kandariya Mahadeva which is attributed to king Ganda (AD 1017-29).
The other examples that followed viz., Vamana, Adinatha, Javari, Chaturbhuj and
Duladeo, are smaller but elaborately designed. The Khajuraho group of temples
are noted for lofty terraces (jagati) and functionally effective
plans. The sculptural embellishments include, besides the cult images;
parivara, parsva, avarana devatas, dikpalas, the apsarases and
sura-sundaris which win universal adminration for their ornamentation
embrace the winsome grace and charm.
GROUP OF MONUMENTS
5 per person
Traditionally known as
Pampakshetra of Kishkindha. Hampi is situated on the southern bank of the river
Tungabhadra. Once it was the seat of the mighty Vijayanagara empire.
The monuments of Vijayanagara
city, also known as Vidyanagara in honour of the sage Vidyaranya were built
between AD 1336-1570, from the times of Harihara-I to Sadaviva Raya. A large
number of royal buildings were raised by Krishnadeva Raya (AD 1509-30), the
greatest ruler of the dynasty. The period witnessed resurgence of Hindu
religion, art, architecture in an unprecedented scale. The contemporary
chroniclers who came from far off countries - such as Arabia, Italy, Portugal
and Russia visited the empire, have left graphic and glowing accounts of the
city. It covers an area of nearly 26 sq. km and is stated to be enclosed by
seven lines of fortifications.
Extensive remains of the
palaces can be seen within innermost enclosure of the ancient Vijayanagara. The
various religious and secular structures which include Hindu and Jain temples,
audience hall of the king, the magnificent throne platform to witness the
festivals and other events, the king's balance (tulabhara) are
Temples of this city are noted
for their large dimensions, florid ornamentation, bold and delicate carvings,
stately pillars, magnificent pavilions and a great wealth of iconographic and
traditional depictions which include subjects from the Ramayana and
the Mahabharata. The largest extant temple is that of Pampapati
(now in worship) was extensively renovated. Its magnificent entrance tower was
caused by Krishnadeva Raya. The Vitthala temple is an excellent example of
Vijayanagara style. The monilithic statues of Lakshmi, Narasimha and Ganesa are
noted for their massiveness and grace. The Krishna temple, Pattabhirama temple,
Hazara Ramachandra and Chandrasekhara temple as also the Jaina temples, are
other examples. Majority of these temples were provided with widespread bazaars
flanked on either side by storyed mandapas. Among secular edifices
mention may be made of the Zenana enclosure wherein a massive stone basement of
the Queen's palace and an ornate pavilion called 'Lotus-Mahal' are only remnants
of a luxurious antahpura. The corner towers of arresting
elevation, the Dhananayaka's enclosure (treasury), the Mahanavami Dibba carrying
beautifully sculptured panels, a variety of ponds and tanks, mandapas,
the elephant's stables and the row of pillared mandapas are some
of the important architectural remains of this city.
Recent excavations at the site
have brought to light a large number of palatial complexes and basements of
several platforms. Interesting finds include a large number of stone images,
both in round and relief, beautiful terracotta objects and stucco figures that
once embellished the palaces. In addition many gold and copper coins, household
utensils, a square stepped-tank (sarovara) at the south-west of
Mahanavami Dibba, and a large number of ceramics including the important variety
of porcelain and inscribed Buddhist sculptures from sunrise to sunset.
OF MONUMENTS, PATTADAKAL
5 per person
was not only popular for Chalukyan architectural activities but also a holy
place for royal coronation, 'Pattadakisuvolal'. Temples
constructed here mark the blending of the Rekha Nagara Prasada and the Dravida
Vimana styles of temple building.
oldest temple at Pattadakal is Sangamesvara built by Vijayaditya Satyasraya (AD
697-733). It is a simple but massive structure.
temple of the Chalukyan period served as a model for the Rashtrakuta ruler to
carve out the great Kailasa at Ellora. The sculptural art of the early Chalukyas
is characterised by grace and delicate details. The ceilinig panels of the navagrahas,
dikpalas, the dancing Nataraja, the wall niches containing Lingodbhava,
Ardhanarisvara, Tripurari, Varahavishnu, Trivikrama bear ample testimony to the
sculptor's skill as well as the cult worship in vogue. The narrative reliefs
illustrating certain episodes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata
and Panchatantra fitted well with these grand religious edifices.
5 per person
celebrated Saiva temple, appropriately called Brihadisvara and Daksinameru,
is the grandest creation of the Chola emperor Rajaraja (AD 985-1012). It was
inaugurated by the king himself in his 19th regnal year (AD 1009-10) and
named it after himself as Rajesvara Peruvudaiyar. Architecturally, it is the
most ambitious structural temple built of granite. The temple is within a
spacious inner prakara of 240.90m long (east-west) and 122m broad
(north-south), with a gopura at the east and three other ordinary torana
entrances on at each lateral sides and the third at rear. The prakara
is surrounded by a double-storeyed malika and parivaralayas.
sikhara, a cupolic dome, is otagonal and rests on a single block
of granite, a square of 7.8m weighing 80tons. The majestic upapitha
and adhishthana and common to all the axially placed entities like
the ardhamaha and mukha-mandapas and linked to the
main sanctum but approached through a north-south transept across the ardha-mandapa
which is marked by lofty sopanas. The moulded plinth is
extensively engraved with inscriptions by its royal builder who refers to his
many endowments, pious acts and organisational events connected to the temple.
The brihad-linga within the sanctum is 8.7m high. Life-size
iconographic representations on the wall niches and inner passages inlude Durga,
Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Bhikshatana, Virabhadra, Kalantaka, Natesa,
Ardhanarisvara and Alingana forms of Siva. The mural paintings on the walls of
the lower ambulatory inside are finest examples of Chola and later periods.
a local Maratha ruler, rebuilt the Ganapati shrine. The celebrated Thanjavur
school of paintings of the Nayakas are largely superimposed over the Chola
MONUMENTS AT SANCHI
5 per person
variously known as Kakanaya. Kakanava, Kakanadabota and Bota-Sriparvata in
ancient times, has a singular distinction of having remarkable specimen of
Buddhist art and architecture right from the early Mauryan period (c.thirth
century BC to twelfth century AD).
is famous in the world for stupas, monolithic Asokan pillar, temples,
monasteries and sculptural wealth. During Sunga times, several edifices were
raised at Sanchi and its surrounding hills. The Asokan stupa was enlarged and
faced with stones and decorated with blustrades, staircases and a harmika
on the top. The reconstruction of Temple 40 and erection of Stupas 2 and 3 also
seem to date back around the same time. In the first century BC the Andhra-Satavahanas,
who had extended their sway over the eastern Malwa, caused the elaborately
carved gateways to Stupa 1. From the second to fourth century AD Sanchi and
Vidisha came under the Kushanas and Kshatrapas and subsequently passed on to the
hand of the Guptas. During the Gupta period some temples were built and
sculptures were added. Shrines and monasteries were also constructed at the site
during seventh and twelfth centuries AD.
the fourteenth century Sanchi remained deserted and uncared for till 1818 when
General Taylor rediscovered the site, Sir John Marshall established an
archaeological museum in 1919, which was later transformed into the
present site museum at Sanchi.
further information and reservation please contact