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The Cities of India

  • Jodhpur view with Mehrangharh fort
  • Boats and palace on Pichola lake in Udaipur
  • Tropical river and seashore in South Goa
  • The Palace of Winds, Jaipur
  • Tropical forest in backwater of Kochin
  • Gopuram (tower) of Hindu temple, Chennai, India


Delhi is the eternal city. A thousand years of history greet the visitor at every step and delight you at every turn. The sun-warmed stones of ancient forts, tombs, mosques and palaces lie scattered across its sprawling expanse - reminders of an almost continuous settlement along the banks of the River Yamuna.

Ancient names still echo its links with half-forgotten times. New Delhi is quite modern with its wide boulevards, tall buildings and uncommonly generous green spaces. Its stately avenues and bustling bazaars are vivid with contemporary life. Delhi is one of the most lively and cosmopolitan cities in the world. In Old Delhi, one of the more impressive sights is surely the Red Fort. This walled citadel, surrounding several grand marble palaces, remains an impressive testament to the strength and splendour of the great Moghuls.

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Just 200 km (125miles) south of Delhi is Agra, the site of the fabled 17th-century monument of love - the Taj Mahal. Considered by many to be one of the most perfect works of art ever created, the sparkling white marble structure, originally inset with precious and semiprecious stones, marks the pinnacle of Moghul architecture. Nearby is Fatehpur Sikri, the abandoned city. Mysteriously deserted only a few years after construction in 1569, its empty palaces, pavilions and mosques remain virtually unchanged today.

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Formerly called Bombay, Mumbai India, is known as the cultural and commercial capital of India. Outdoor bazaars top the list of attractions, for bargains and the people-watching. A popular waterfront destination is Marine Drive where visitors go to watch the sunset over the Arabian Sea. Must-sees include the Mahatma Gandhi Museum, in the leader's former home, the Gateway of India, the Dhobi Ghats laundries and the cave temples of Elephanta Island. Mumbai also has many religious sites, lakes and parks.

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Varanasi, once known as Benares, is a historical city in the north of India. The city is sacred to Hindus and is also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. In many ways, Varanasi can be a little overwhelming. However, the scene of pilgrims doing their devotions in the River Ganges at sunrise set against the backdrop of the centuries-old temples is probably one of the most impressive sights in the world.

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A trip to the southwest of Delhi leads you to Jaipur, the "pink city" - so called because the entire town was painted pink, the colour of welcome, in honour of Queen Victoria when Prince Albert visited there. The previous royal seat of the Maharajahs, Jaipur remains a magnificent reminder of the luxury and opulence that characterized the era. Among its many splendid sights is the Palace of the Winds, also known as the Hawa Mahal, where 953 windows in a fantastic facade open onto the world. From these, ladies of the court could discreetly glimpse life around them, protected and unseen.

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The most romantic city in Rajasthan is Udaipur, built around the lovely Lake Pichola, which has inevitably been dubbed the 'Venice of the East. The city is a harmonious Indian blend of whitewashed buildings, marble palaces, lakeside gardens, temples and Havelis (traditional mansions). It boasts an enviable artistic heritage, a proud reputation for performing arts and a relatively plentiful water supply, all of which have helped make it an oasis of civilization and colour.

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Ranthambore National Park is one of the biggest and most renowned national parks in Northern India. The park is located in the Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan, which is about 130 km from Jaipur. and former hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur. Today the Ranthambore National Park terrain is a major wildlife tourist attraction spot. The park is famous for its tigers and is one of the best locations in India to see the majestic predators in their natural habitat. The tigers can be easily spotted even during the daytime, busy with their ordinary hunting and taking care of their young ones.

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Jodhpur is the second-largest city in Rajasthan. It is divided into two parts - the old city and the new city. The old city is separated by a 10 km-long wall surrounding it. Also, it has eight Gates leading out of it. The new city is outside the walled city.

The landscape is scenic and mesmerizing. Jodhpur city has many beautiful palaces and forts such as Mehrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada, Umaid Bhavan Palace and Rai Ka Bag Palace. Other charming locations include the Government museum and its beautiful Umed garden. The city is known as the "Sun City" because of its bright and sunny weather throughout the year.


Pushkar is a sacred town for the Hindus. It has a number of temples of which the most famous is the Brahma Temple, said to be the only temple in the world dedicated to this deity. Every November, the sleepy little town comes alive with a riot of colors and a frenzied burst of activity. This is the Pushkar Fair. Very few, if at all any, fairs in the world can match the liveliness of Pushkar. Most people associate the Pushkar Fair with the world's largest camel fair. But it is much more than that.


Chennai (formerly known as Madras) is the gateway to Southern India and the largest city in southern India located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, developed after 1639 when the British East India Company established a fort and trading post at the small fishing village of Chennai. It is also the capital city of Tamil Nadu State. It offers some beautiful beach resorts.

The best place to experience amazing temples is nearby Mahabalipuram, a seaside village that, apart from some exquisite Pallava rock-cut architecture, boasts a long stretch of sun-kissed beach. Inland, the pilgrimage city of Kanchipuram is filled with reminders of an illustrious past under successive dynastic rulers, while further down the coast is one of India's rare French colonial possessions, Pondicherry, where Auroville has found a new role in the 'New Age.

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Cochin (also known as Kochi) has been an important trading port since ancient times. Today, the land of spices that attracted the European traders is a quaint blend of the old and the new, the Indian and the Western. Popularly referred to as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Cochin is today the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala.

Being a major harbour from the times of the British and Portuguese, Cochin has a rich heritage of forts, churches and temples. The Dutch Palace at Mattancherry is renowned for its wall murals depicting scenes from the Ramayana. Fort Kochi, though now in ruins, contains many remains of Indo-European architecture. The Jewish Synagogue at the heart of what is locally called Jew Town is a fascinating mixture of shops, warehouses and spice auction rooms. The St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India, stands as the pride of Fort Cochin. The Chinese fishing nets are huge cantilevered fishing nets believed to have been brought to Kochi by Chinese traders.

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This tiny west-coast state is a slice of the Mediterranean. At every twist and turn of the undulating Goan coast, there are alluring little coves and bays each completely different and each with its own special charm. Along the coast are picturesque villages with tall, white-washed churches and red-tiled houses that nestle into the lush green of the Goan countryside.

The northern part of Goa has some of the finest beaches edged by tall cliffs. The Arambol Beach has a delightful freshwater pond at the base of a verdant slope. The southern beaches have white sand and calm seas and definitely merit a visit.

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The Khajuraho Temples are dedicated to a celebration of womanhood, her myriad moods and facets. Famous for its erotic architecture, the carvings include: women writing letters, applying eye makeup, combing their tresses, dancing & playing. Her innocent, blushed, charming and seductive, ardent beauty, are all depicted in exquisitely sculptured details.

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This charming, easy-going city has long been a favourite with travellers since it has a manageable size, enjoys a good climate and has chosen to retain and promote its heritage rather than replace it. Until Independence, Mysore was the seat of the Maharajas of Mysore, a princely state.

The Maharaja's Indo-Saracenic Palace is the town's major attraction, with its kaleidoscope of stained glass, ornate mirrors, carved mahogany ceilings, solid silver doors and outrageously gaudy colours. The Devaraja Fruit & Vegetable Market, in the heart of the town, is one of the most colourful markets in India. The other major attraction is the 1000-step climb up nearby Chamundi Hill, which is topped by the huge Chamundeswari temple deities.


The attraction here is the caves of Ajanta and Ellora both of which are handy to the city. Ajanta Caves are situated in the Sahyadri Hills, 100 km from Aurangabad. In the shape of a mammoth horseshoe are the 30 rock-hewn caves of Ajanta. The Caves date from the 2nd century BC. Discovered in 1819 by a group of British army officers, these startling achievements took around 600 years to create. Carved with little more than a hammer and chisel, Ajanta, once the retreat of Buddhist monastic orders features several 'chaityas' (chapels) and 'viharas' (monasteries). The exquisite wall and ceiling paintings, panels and sculptures of Buddha's life are famous throughout the world as the earliest and finest examples of Buddhist pictorial

Ellora Caves are impressive in their own right. The rock-hewn temples and monasteries of Ellora t lie just 30 km away from Aurangabad. In all, there are 34 cave temples, 12 Mahayana Buddhist caves (550-750 AD), 17 Hindu caves (600-875 AD) and 5 caves of the Jain faith (800-1000 AD) 22 more caves dedicated to Lord Shiva, all of which were recently discovered. Kailas Temple the central attraction at Ellora, is the most remarkable. Chiselled by hand from a single massive rock, it includes a gateway, pavilion, courtyard, vestibule, sanctum, sanctorum and tower which bear testimony to the excellence of Dravidian art. It is believed to have taken 7000 labourers, working in continuous shifts and 150 years to build. Ever since the first European visitors in the 18th Century, Ellora has attracted chroniclers, antiquarians, scholars and in more recent years, an ever-increasing number of tourists.

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