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Explore exotic India

by PRIDE Newsdesk

One of the oldest civilizations in the world, India is a mosaic of multicultural experiences. With a rich heritage and myriad attractions, the country is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It covers an area of 32,087,263 sq. km, extending from the snow-covered Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests of the south. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity.

Fringed by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. As you travel the expanse of the country, you are greeted by diverse nuances of cuisines, faiths, arts, crafts, music, nature, lands, tribes, history and adventure sports. India has a mesmeric conflation of the old and the new. As the bustling old bazaars rub shoulders with swanky shopping malls, and majestic monuments accompany luxurious heritage hotels, the quintessential traveler can get the best of both worlds. Head to the mountains, enjoy a beach retreat or cruise through the golden Thar, India has options galore for all.

Taj Mahal in Agra

The Taj Mahal, often referred to as the “Crown of Palaces,” is an exquisite ivory-white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. The Taj Mahal is renowned for its symmetrical design, intricate carvings, and stunning reflection in the surrounding pool. Its timeless beauty and historical significance make it one of the most iconic landmarks in the world.

Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the creator of the Taj Mahal, said that the beauty of the monument made “the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.” It has also been described as a “teardrop on the cheek of eternity” by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Every year, thousands of tourists from around the world make a beeline for this breathtakingly ethereal marble monument, considered by many as the most beautiful building constructed by man. The monument was built as a memorial by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his deceased wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the seven wonders of the world and is a monument of pride for not just Agra but also India.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is featured in almost all literature about India and is one of the most enduring images of the country. Its name is believed to have been drawn from the Persian language: ‘taj’ means crown and ‘mahal’ means palace, thus making this the palace of the crown. Interestingly, the queen it was built in memory of, originally named Arjumand Begum, held the name Mumtaz Mahal, which meant the crown of the palace. Although it is best known as a symbol of love, a grieving emperor’s ode to his deceased queen, another legend sees the Taj Mahal as an embodiment of Shah Jahan’s vision of kingship. The story goes that he sought to build something akin to heaven on earth, a spectacular, unbelievably beautiful monument that reinforced the power as well as the perceived divinity of the monarch as next only to the Almighty.

It is also widely believed that Emperor Shah Jahan invited artisans from Italy and Persia to work on this marble monument. It is said that Ustad Ahmad Lahori was the chief of the project while Ustad Isa Afandi made the site plan. The calligraphic work has been credited to Amanat Ali Khan Shirazi. A fascinating aspect of this structure is that it looks the same from all four sides, except the one that faces River Yamuna. This side is said to have been especially embellished to serve as the main entrance for the emperor. Shah Jahan would approach the Taj Mahal from the river, aboard a barge, while the entrance used by tourists today served, at the time, as an entryway for soldiers and common people. There are intricate inscriptions on all four entrances, while marble carvings and pietra dura mosaics adorn the walls. Lapis-lazuli, cornelian, mother of pearl, agate and emerald are some of the precious gems and stones that were once used in its design. It is said that work on its construction began in 1631. Legend has it that it took 20 years to complete this architectural marvel!

It is also riddled with optical illusions and masterful architectural safeguards. As one first beholds the monument from the main gate, for instance, the Taj Mahal looks large and imposing, but as you move closer, it appears to shrink in size. Also, the minarets surrounding the edifice, while perfectly upright to the naked eye, have actually been constructed to lean away from it so that, should a disaster like an earthquake come about, they would fall away from and not on the mausoleum.

Delhi City

The Red Fort in Delhi, India, is a historic Mughal fort known for its red sandstone walls. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1639, it combines Persian and Indian architectural styles.

Delhi is the city that may surprise you at first but will soon engulf you in a string of new experiences, leaving you entwined with its culture and people. Ruled by some of the most powerful emperors in the history of India, Delhi has transformed into a soulful city embracing each culture with open arms.  

The capital of world’s largest democracy, Delhi as a city that bridges two contrasting worlds. While Old Delhi is a labyrinth of mysterious narrow lanes, haveli’s and majestic mosques, the imperial city of New Delhi is composed of spacious, tree-lined avenues and imposing government buildings. The city has gradually evolved to become a window to India’s unique cultures and ethnicities.

The Eternal city, offers visitors a sumptuous banquet of history and heritage seamlessly in tune with its transformation as one of the world’s fastest growing and largest metropolises today. Monumental architecture here is redolent of the creative genius of successive historical era. Delhi’s kaleidoscopic core is ripe for many more cinematic ventures to be staged here. From the opulent expanse of Old Delhi to urbane skyscrapers, tree lined avenues, undulating flyovers, ancient bazaars, and the wonderful Delhi Metro, our city is the visual spectacle like none other.

Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation Ltd. represents the state government in promoting Delhi as a tourist destination. DTTDC facilitates tourists through its various mediums for all tourism related activities in the city.  

Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

The Hawa Mahal, also known as the Palace of the Winds, is a distinctive landmark in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.

Jaipur is known as the city of palaces and forts, interspersed with historical monuments and gardens that testify the grandeur of the Rajput kings, Jaipur is the gateway to the royal heritage of India. Also called Pink City, the capital of Rajasthan, remains suspended in time, with its heritage preserved in the overwhelming Hawa Mahal that gazes down at the bustling streets of Johari Bazaar.

Jaipur’s most iconic building, the pink Hawa Mahal, stands royally in the bustling Johari Bazaar. With a fine honeycomb of latticed windows, the five-storied monument lives to its name, which means the palace of wind. Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, Hawa Mahal was primarily constructed as a summer retreat for the royal household and was also used by the royal ladies to enjoy the lively vibes of Johari Bazaar through the white framed windows, while they themselves stayed hidden from the people on the street. Interestingly, the arrangement of the windows is said to resemble the crown of Lord Krishna. Inside, there is a museum that houses Rajasthani miniature art and outside is a hub of stalls selling handmade jewelry, leather-crafted home decor items and the region’s famous silver jewelry.

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