Experience the Myriad Hues of India in 15 Days

dal lake, kashmir

To pack countless cultures and innumerable landscapes within the confines of a 15-day journey is an incredibly challenging yet exciting task. India is a land of diversity, whether it is the languages that people speak or the clothes that they wear. Each corner of this vibrant nation tints your experiences a different colour. With such a fantastic range of experiences that you can immerse yourself into, India forms an absolute paradise for someone who yearns for travelling. In order to truly understand the richness of India’s cultural and natural wealth, you need to acquaint yourself with all the four directions India’s limbs stretch towards. Fully explore all the myriad hues of India by visiting these 5 places, for a period of 3 days, to fulfill your travel appetite in 15 days.

1. Serene Srinagar

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Dal lake, Photo by confused_me, CC0 1.0

Beginning from the north, your exploration of India is incomplete without visiting this epitome of natural beauty. Srinagar, an absolute paradise, is the most tranquil, breathtaking and magical place in India. It offers the perfect combination of architectural feats, cultural vibrancy and nature’s stroke of artistry. Start your journey by visiting the glistening Dal Lake, an iconic attraction of this place. Beam with joy while cruising on Shikaras in its evergreen waters. You can also visit the nearby Shalimar Bagh, an exquisite garden with Mughal designs. Other places that would leave you in awe are the Pari Mahal, the wilderness of Dachigam National Park and the Shankaracharya temple.

2. Regal Jaipur

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Hawa mahal, Photo by Barthwo, CC0 1.0

The pink city of Jaipur offers a grand insight into the country’s astounding palaces, forts, and beautiful architectures. The local markets bustling with colorful skirts, blouses, and mirror-work kurtas are a feast for your eyes and your shopaholic soul. Hawa Mahal is one of the must-visits in Jaipur when you find yourself in this glorious town. Built with the ancient wisdom of science, the palace offers cool breeze to its inhabitants all year round. Another mesmerizing sight in Jaipur is the Amer Palace. Gigantic gates with intricate artwork greet you at the entrance, followed by a huge wealth of paintings, murals, and regal interiors. Other places of interest here are the Abhaneri step-well and Jal Mahal.

3. Grand Agra

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Taj mahal, Photo by TLSPAMG, CC0 1.0

India’s entry into the Seven Wonders of the World has been enabled by the presence of one eternal monument in the city of Agra. To visit India without seeing the grandeur and splendor of the Taj Mahal might be a huge loss for any traveler. Even an initial glimpse of this white edifice is enough to blow your breath away. Emanating a romantic aura from the bygone era, the Taj Mahal is a concrete legend of the power of love. Another beautiful sight to visit in Agra is Akbar’s tomb, Sikandra. Resonating Hindu, Muslim and Christian architecture, visiting the tomb of the greatest Emperor of the Mughal Empire is a truly inspiring experience.

4. Relaxing Komarkum

houseboat-2052738_1920Photo by ravishahi, CC0 1.0

Kerala forms the rejuvenating leg of your thrilling journey. And the scenic beauty of this state is captured beautifully by the backwaters in Kumarakom. The never-ending queues of coconut trees and a rich fauna make Kumarakom an ideal place to unwind, and at the same time be in awe of its natural charms. The most unforgettable experience that you can gain from your visit here is undoubtedly the houseboat cruise. Delightful houses offering different levels of luxuries, you can lie down in its bed while watching the water recede from your window, lulling you into a soothing sleep. Another place to visit in Kumarakom is a bird sanctuary housing varied species of colorful birds.

5. Pristine North East

13681664874_e6cb539b0b_bPhoto by Stefan Krasowski, CC BY 2.0

Two places that can give you a flavor of India’s north-eastern heritage are Assam and Sikkim. Sikkim, with its lofty mountains and pleasant climate, is the personification of the ultimate hill station. You can visit the Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary where the endangered and delightful red pandas await your presence. The Lake Tsongmo is an exquisite frozen lake that is a true treasure of India, one you must visit in Sikkim. Assam is another such state which offers to its guests the majestic sights of the one-horned rhinos and Majuli, which is the largest river island in the world.

The amount of variety offered by less than 10 places in India can be extrapolated to predict the multiplicity of experiences that await you in more than thousand such places. Catch a glimpse of this kaleidoscopic country by exploring these five places that exemplify to the best of their ability all that India has to offer.


A Guest Post by Rohit

Rohit Agarwal is a passionate traveller and writer who shares his experiences on TransIndiaTravels.com from his many travelling excursions and expeditions of around the world.
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The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Look Up

clock tower, Jaipur, rajasthan, architecture

“Keep looking up! I learn from the past, dream about the future and look up.” 

~ Rachel Boston

Jaipur City Palace is an amazing place. The moment I entered the palace premises I was blown away by the imposing pink sandstone architecture and the intricate carvings on the walls and columns. After some time I got busy in exploring the palace and taking photographs.

I was walking around the courtyard, looking and admiring the architectural beauty. Suddenly, a fluttering sound made me look up to the sky. A flock of pigeons were flying above. And that’s when I noticed the beautiful Clock Tower of Jaipur.

clock tower jaipur, jaipur city palace

Published in response to The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Look Up.

P.S: This is my first entry for this week’s challenge. Here is the second post on Look Up.

Amer Fort – the melting pot of Rajasthan’s heritage, art and architecture

Amer Fort, Jaipur, Rajsthan

amer fort, jaipur, rajasthan

Amer Fort or Amber Fort, located only 11 kilometers from the Pink City – Jaipur, is one of the most fascinating tourist hotspots in the state of Rajasthan. The main gate of the fort called Suraj Pol or ‘Sun Gate’ (‘suraj’ meaning sun and ‘pol’ meaning gate) leads to the main courtyard of the fort, Jaleb Chowk, where the army used to parade in front of the king and his courtiers.

courtyard, amer fort, amer palace, amber fort, jaipur

The women of royal family also observed the activities on the courtyard from behind the ornate stone lattices decorating the place balconies.

Amer Fort is full of historical saga and spectacular instances of mediaeval architecture. Overlooking Maota Lake this Rajput stronghold was built on Aravalli Hills range in time of Raja Man Singh (around 1592). Some expansions were made later by the king Sawai Jai Singh.

amer fort, jaipur, rajasthan, architecture

The palace architecture is a wonderful blend of Hindu and Mughal architectural styles. The king’s palace, the frescoes on marble walls, the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), the garden, the temple (Shila Devi Temple) where Rajput Kings offered worship everything is so fascinating that I can simply keep talking about it … 🙂

However, the most memorable moment of my Amer Fort visit was when our guide led us to Sheesh Mahal and explained why it was built that way. He lit up his torch and focused it on the ceiling of Sheesh Mahal. It was like thousands stars twinkling under the roof – AMAZING!

sheesh mahal, mirror palace, Amer Palace
Sheesh Mahal in Amer Palace

We were lucky to get a veteran guide whose bag was full of interesting stories about the royal lifestyle inside the fort and its palaces in time of Rajput kings.

The story of the royal family goes like this (as told by our guide). The king had 12 queens. There were separate sections (‘Mahal’) in the palace for each of them. The king maintained a highly confidential schedule about when to spend time with which queen. When he was with one wife no other queens would know about it. The king never wanted all of his queens to meet in one place and have chitchat. At a time only four of the queens were allowed to meet at the central pavilion (Baradhari Pavilion) at the palace square or inner courtyard. The Habshi (Abyssinian Eunuch) guards used to keep watch on the queens’ meeting from the minarets erected on all corners of the square. Imagine the sense of ‘insecurity’ of the king! 😛

amer palace, jaipur, rajasthan

I was so absorbed in the beauty of the place that I did not notice when we have returned to the outer courtyard – Jaleb Chowk. Time flies so quickly. The fort closes at 5:30 pm and it was already 5 pm. We were running short of time. Otherwise, I think we would get to listen more of such queer stories of royal families if we could explore every nook and corner of the palace.

Please note that apart from taking a tour of the fort and palaces and offering worship in the temple you can also shop from the boutiques and antique stores located inside the fort premises and enjoy elephant ride in the main courtyard.

elephant ride at Amer Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Enjoy elephant ride at Amer Fort

Take a virtual tour of this amazing fortified town and its palace through my lenses. 🙂

View from Amer Fort:

amer fort, amer palace, amber fort, jaipur, rajasthanDiwan-e-aam (the Hall of Public Audience):

diwan-e-aam, amer fort, amer palace, jaipur

Shila Devi Temple:

Chandra Pol or Moon Gate (Chandra is Moon and Pol meaning gate) on the other side of the courtyard:

chandra pole, moon gate, amer palace, amer fort, jaipur

Old cannons are still on display at Moon Gate:

The gorgeous, mesmerizing Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace):

sheesh mahal, mirror palace, amer palace, jaipur

sheesh mahal, mirror work, mirror palace, amar fort, amaer palace, jaipur

Amer Palace and garden:

Check out more photos of Amer Fort on Flickr:

Amer Palace #Jaipur #Rajasthan #India #Fort

Jaipur – the ‘Pink’ City of My Dream

Jaipur city palace, orange

Jaipur – the first time I heard about the ‘Pink City’ I was only eight or nine. My tender mind instantly drew a vivid picture of a city where everything from the houses to walls to streets – is tinged pink, which is also my favorite shade. I cherished that picture deep in my heart and dreamt of seeing it all someday in my life. I cherished that picture until I visited Jaipur in November 2013. To my surprise, I hardly found any trace of pink in the city. The City Palace area is left with antique stone edifices which looked more orange than pink. And it is not just my perception; my co-travelers also expressed the same opinion.

Jaipur city palace
Jaipur City Palace – Is it pink or orange? What do you say?

A few hours later that morning, when we entered Jaipur City Palace with a guide accompanying our group I came to know that in time of Rajput monarchs it was a strict order from the administration that all houses in the city have to be painted in pink, hence the name ‘Pink City’.  There is another story I found on the web on why Jaipur is called the Pink City. Later the government lifted the restriction and now citizens paint their houses as they wish. That’s why we didn’t see much of pink that will do justice to the city’s popular name.

We boarded Howrah-Ajmer Express from Kolkata on November 22 at 11:20pm and reached Jaipur on 24th at around 3:30 am. Our travel agent arranged a bus for transportation of the group. It was a short and convenient drive from the station to the hotel through the neighborhoods still in their predawn deep sleep. The bus dropped us at Hotel Mangal, a budget hotel with clean rooms and attached bathroom with hot and cold water. Though I was not very hopeful about this hotel from its TripAdvisor reviews, but I found it is quite okay if you are looking for a moderate accommodation at cheaper rate for one or two nights.

morning in Jaipur
Early morning in Jaipur. The city was yet to wake up when we entered.

Things to See in Jaipur

The capital city of the state of Rajasthan, has many things to offer even the most discerning traveler. On one hand, it is a modern, organized and clean city and on the other hand it exudes a quaint charm with old city palace and classic edifices dotting the cityscape.

We started for Jaipur sightseeing early in the morning. Our first stop was Jaipur Birla Temple.

Birla Temple

Birla Temple is situated at the foot of Moti Dungri Fort in Jaipur. Just as any other Birla Temples found in different cities across the country Jaipur Birla Temple, built with white marbles, is a treat to the eye from architectural point of view.

Jaipur Birla Temple, Birla Mandir

Jaipur City Palace

Built around 1732 by the then king Sawai Jai Singh Jaipur City Palace is a magnificent construction located at the heart of the city. The most interesting point about the palace architecture is that it is a wonderful blend of Hindu (Rajput), Christian (European) and Islamic (Mughal) architectural genres.

Jaipur city palace, pink city, jaipur, architecture

The stone detailing on the columns accentuated with touch of colours, the frescos, the painted ceilings, ornate doors and windows will blow your mind with their artistic appeal.

While Chandra Mahal is still the residents of the royal family a large portion of the palace is open for public visit.

The palace houses three galleries. One is for display of weapons used by the Rajput kings and fighters. Another gallery is for the robes and garments of the kings and queens. The third one is Sabha Niwas still maintaining its regal air with its interior decor set as it was in time of the royal dynasty.

There are four gates in the inner courtyard the most notable being the Peacock Gate. Our guide told us that each gate represents a climatic season. The Peacock Gate represents monsoon, the Lotus Gate relates to summer, the Green Gate is meant for spring and the Rose Gate symbolizes winter.

peacock gate, jaipur, city palace, stone carving

Hawa Mahal

On our way to City Palace we saw Jaipur’s iconic Hawa Mahal or the “Palace of Winds”. The structure was built so that the royal women, whose world was limited within the enclosure of the palace, could watch the festive activities on the streets. The sight of the Hawa Mahal, designed in the shape of Lord Krishna’s crown, swept me off my feet. It was one of the most beautiful instances of architecture I have ever seen. While appreciating its artistic and architectural beauty I was also thinking of the life of those women in the palace around 400 years ago… Was it like living in a golden cage?

jaipur, hawa mahal, palace of the winds

Image: Wikipedia

Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar is an enclosed area with a collection of huge sundials and various other astronomical instruments. Located at a few minutes walk from the City Palace, Jantar Mantar, also built by the king Sawai Jai Singh, is an architectural wonder. These instruments were used to measure the exact time of the day and to observe celestial phenomena such as the position of the stars and planets at a given point of time. The words Jantar and Mantar are derived from Sanskrit ‘Yantra’ meaning instrument and ‘Mantra’ meaning magical. ‘Magical instruments’ … they really are.   

Jantar Mantar Jaipur

Kanak Vrindavan

Our next destination was Kanak Vrindavan located on the way to Amber Fort.

It’s a beautiful, well-manicured, landscaped garden with classic structures and fountains dotting its sprawling green lawns. Paved walkways are lined with thick red bougainvilleas. Occasional trees amidst the garden offer cool shades for tired travelers (as we were). Kanak Vrindavan was once a favorite shooting spot for Hindi movies. Many film song sequences had been shot here in old days. Now it is a popular picnic spot for locals as well as tourists.

kanak vrindaban garden, jaipur

It was already 1:30 in the afternoon – time for lunch. So, we choose a quiet corner and sat down on the grass and ate our meals. It was a wonderful experience sitting right on the ground under a tree and having lunch – it reminded me of good old school days when we used to go for picnics in winter with our teachers and classmates!

kanak vrindaban garden, jaipur

Amber Fort

This is the first time I have ever visited a fort. I was pretty excited about this exploration and Amber Fort did not disappoint me. In fact, if I try to write everything I saw, heard and liked about Amber Fort it will not fit into one post. Amber Fort, also called Amer Fort, has fascinated me with its royal heritage, its mesmerizing Sheesh Mahal (palace of mirrors), intricate stone carvings on the columns and walls and its intriguing stories about ancient kings and queens. It is a massive stronghold from outside. But inside, it awaits you with wide-open courtyards surrounded with temples, minarets and palaces.

Amer fort palace, jaipur

We were lucky this time to get a veteran guide who was knowledgeable and considerate enough to depict the stories of each ‘Mahal’ (palace) slowly and in detail and gave us enough time to explore every section at our own pace, unlike our City Palace guide, who was always in a hurry and demonstrated with the speed of Rajdhani Express! 😉

The guide told us about some intriguing stories about the kings and queens and the royal lifestyle which I am going to share with you in my post on Amer Fort.

Jal Mahal

Jal Mahal (meaning – ‘palace on water’) is a palace located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in the backdrop on Aravalli Hills. Enjoy a boat ride to the palace and explore its ornate foyers and decorated compartments and terrace garden. The credit for the present beauty of Jal Mahal goes to Maharaja Jai Singh II of Amer who renovated the palace in the 18th century. When we reached Jal Mahal it was already dark and the palace looked amazing at night. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take good shots with my Nikon Coolpix P500, so borrowed an image from Wikipedia. 😦

Jal Mahal, Jaipur, Water palace, Jaipur Sightseeing

To be continued…