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PLACES & MONUMENTS OF INDIA

 

A

Adyar: Chennai.  It is the location of the world centre of the Theosophical Society.

 

Aga Khan Palace: Pune. Place where Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi were interned. Kastuba Gandhi had breathed her last here.

 

Agra: Uttar Pradesh.  Historical place renowned worldwide for its great monuments like 
the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikhri, Itmad-ud Daulah's tomb, Agra Fort, Chini Ka Roza
and the darga of Salim Chisti.  It is also famous for its marble inlay work.

 

Ahobilam:  Andhra Pradesh. This is the most popular center of Narasimha worship. It is also known as Navanarasimha Kshetra, being the only place where the nine forms of Lord Narasimha are worshipped. The temple is divided in two parts, the lower and the upper Ahobilam. The lord of the upper Ahobilam is Ahobaleshwar. The lower Ahobilam is the abode of the Prahlada Varada Narasimha, the aspect of the Lord Vishnu blessing Prahlada and is a masterpiece from the Vijayanagar art.

 

Ahmedabad: Gujarat. Ahmedabad was historically known as Karnavati before it was founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah. Ahmedabad is famous for the Jumma Masjid (built by the city’s founder Sultan Ahmed Shah in 1423); Rani Rupmati Masjid at Mirzapur (built between 1430 and 1440); Sidi Bashir's Mosque (famous for its “shaking minarets”); Teen Darwaza, Rani Sipri Mosque; Haibat Khan Mosque; Ahmed Shah's Tomb; Bhadra Fort; Three Gates (the triple-arched gateway built by Sultan Ahmed Shah); Kankaria Lake (constructed in 1451 by Sultan Qutb-ud-Din) with an island-garden and a summer palace known as Nagina Wadi; Swaminarayan Temple; Hatheesingh Jain Temple; Shah Jehan's Shahibagh Palace; Sabarmati or  Satyagraha Ashram (Set up in  1915 on the banks of  the river Sabarmati, it was the nerve center of India's freedom movement. Mahatma Gandhi started his famous Dandi March from this place in 1930); Calico Textile Museum; Adalaj Step-well; Nal Sarovar bird sanctuary, Kankaria Lake, Shamlaji  (which is one of the principal Vaishnava shrines of Gujarat), Doshi's Gandhi Labour Institute and Kamala Nehru Zoological Park.

 

Aihole:  Karnataka. Once the capital of the early Chalukyan dynasty (6th to 8th centuries), Aihole is famous for 125 temples built by the Chalukyas of Badami, which follow the Vesara style of architecture. Important temples include Lad Khan Temple, Durga Temple and the Meguti Temple. 

 

Aizawl: Mizoram.  The hilly city of Aizawl located at nearly 4,000 feet above sea level, is a religious and cultural centre of Mizoram. Champhai (a beautiful resort), Tamdil (a natural lake), Vantawng falls and Thenzawl (a hill station) are some of the attractions of Aizawl.  Many Jewish names are commonly used in Aizawl.  For instance, a road is named as 'Zion Street' while a traffic junction is names as 'Israel Point'.

 

Ajanta Caves: Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Discovered in the 19th century, the Ajanta group of caves depicts the story of Buddhism, spanning the period from 200 BC to 650 AD. They have 24 monasteries and 5 temples. Cave 1 houses some of the most well preserved wall paintings which include the two great Boddhisattvas, Padmapani and Avalokiteshvara.

 

Ajmer: Rajasthan. The city of Ajmer was founded by Raja Ajai Pal Chauhan in the 7th Century AD.  Ajmer is most renowned for the Darga of the Sufi Saint, Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisthi, who came to Ajmer from Persia in 1192 AD and died here in 1236 AD. The construction of the shrine was completed by Humayum and a gate was added to the complex by the Nizam of Hyderabad. The Akbari Masjid and the Shahjahan's Mosque are located in the complex. The Adhai-din-ka-Jhopra, located beyond the Darga, was constructed in 1153 AD and converted into a mosque in 1198 AD by Mohammed of Ghori. Taragarh Fort, India's first hill fort built by Akbar, the Baradari, the "Magazine" where Jehangir received the representative of the East India Company, Mayo College (founded in 1875 AD), shrine of Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Foy Sagar are other important places around Ajmer.

 

Allahabad:  Uttar Pradesh. Allahabad was known in ancient times as ‘Prayag’ famous for the Triveni Sangam i.e. confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati.  Allahabad is also famous for the Allahabad Fort, which has in its precincts the Ashokan Pillar built in 233 BC and the Rani Mahal, built by Rani Jodha Bai. The other important buildings of Allahabad include the Anand Bhawan (the traditional home of the Nehrus, which was donated to the Indian National Congress by Motilal Nehru in 1931 and was renamed as the Swaraj Bhawan), Alop Devi Temple, Mankameshwar Temple, Kalyani Devi Temple, Khusro Bagh, St.Joseph's Cathedral and Patalpuri Temple.  It is the site for the annual Magh Mela and one of the sites for the Kumbh Mela, which takes place once in 12 years.

 

Allappuzha: Kerala. Often called the 'Venice of the East', Allappuzha is famous for the Sreekrishna Temple at Ambalapuzha; St.Andrew's Church at Arthunkal; Krishnapuram Palace, the Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple and the Mannarsala, which is an important centre for serpent worship in Kerala.

 

Alleppey: Kerala.  It is famous for its large network of canals and the long sandy beach.  The snake-boat race is held here every year.

 

Almora: Uttaranchal.  Capital of the Kumaon district, it was founded in 1560 by Balo Kalyan Chand.  It is famous for the temples of Katarmal, Jageshwar, Gananath, Baijnath and Bageshwar.

 

Alwar:  Rajasthan. As early as 1500 BC, the erstwhile state of Alwar, formed part of the Matsya territories of Viratnagar, which also encompassed Bharatpur, Dholpur and Karauli. This Rajput state was formerly known as Mewat. The magnificent Alwar Fort has has remains of Jal Mahal, Nikumbh Mahal, Salim Sagar, Surij Kund and the Vinay Vilas Mahal.  The picturesque garden of Purjan Vihar, Vijai Mandir Palace, Jai Samand Lake, Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary and the Sariska Palace are other important places around Alwar.

 

Ambala: Ambala is renowned for the three historical gurudwaras --- Badshahi Bag Gurudwara, Sis Ganj Gurudwara and Manji Sahib Gurudwara -- which are associated with Guru Govind Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Hargovind respectively.  The other religious places in Ambala are the Bhawani Amba Temple, Saint Paul’s Church and the shrines of Lakhi Shah (associated with Tej-ud-Din Chisti) and Taqwal Shah. The magnificent Rang Mahal at Buria nearby was erected during Shah Jahan’s reign.  

 

Amravati: Andhra Pradesh. Located 30 miles from Vijayawada on the right bank of the Krishna River, Amravati (or Amaresvaram) houses one of the best-known Buddhist relics. Also known as Dhanyakatakam and "Deepaladinne", it was the capital of the later day Satavahanas and was considered as the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage center in India. Amravati is most famous for the largest Stupa in the country, the Mahachaitya Stupa, built during the 2nd century BC. The Stupa was discovered in 1797 by the British archaeologist Colonel Colin Mackenzie. Amravati is also famous for the temple of Amareswara, which consists of a massive Lingam.  The extensive mounds of Dharankota located on the west of Amravati, together with Nagarjunakonda and Amravati form the Golden Triangle of Buddhism in Andhra Pradesh. About five kilometers from Amravati lies the cave temple of Lord Venkateswara at Vaikuntapuram. Mangalgiri, located en route to Vijayawada, is famous for its ancient Panakaalaswamy temple.

 

Amritsar: Punjab.  Amritsar is famous for the Golden Temple built by the fourth Sikh Guru Ramdas, the Akal Takht built by Sikh Guru Hargobind, Durgiana Mandir, Jallianwala Bagh and Rambagh Garden.  

 

Anand: Gujarat. Situated 35 Kms. from Vadodara, the Anand milk cooperative is one of the most successful examples of a cooperative venture in the country.

 

Araku Valley: Vizag, Andhra Pradesh. It is a beautiful with cascading water falls and is inhabited by 17 colourful tribes. The traditional folk dances like Dhimsa dance are still performed here.

 

Arekamedu: Pondicherry.  It is about 20 km from Pondicherry town. Recent excavations at some sites in Arekamedu have unearthed Roman coins, wine jars and other artifacts, establishing it to be the earliest Indo-Roman trading centre (around 2nd century AD). Further evidence points to a Buddhist stronghold.  

 

Aurangabad:  Maharashtra.  Malik Amber, the Prime Minister of Murtaza Nizam Shah II, founded Aurangabad in 1610 AD. When Malik Amber's son Fateh Khan, succeeded the throne in 1626 AD, the city was renamed as 'Fatehpur'. In 1653, when Aurangzeb became the Viceroy of the Deccan, he made it his capital and renamed it 'Aurangabad'. Aurangabad is famous for the Bibi-ka-Maqbara, built by Aurangzeb between 1657-1661 AD as a tribute to Aurangzeb’s wife, Begum Rabia Durani. It was completed by Aurangzeb's son Prince Ahmad Shah. The monument is a replica of the famous Taj Mahal.  The adjoining Panchakki is an ancient water mill designed in 1595 AD by Malik Amber. Khuldabad, near Aurangabad is famous for Aurangzeb's tomb and the darga of saint Khaja Zainuddin Shirazi.  The 18th century Ghrishneshwar Temple, near Aurangabad, is regarded as one of the 12 jyotirlingas in the country. Aurangabad is also famous for the 12th century Daulatabad or Devagiri fort. However, the city derives its fame as a base for the nearby caves of Ajanta and Ellora.  The typical arts and crafts of Aurangabad include Paithani saris, Himroo shawls and Bidri work (zinc with silver embedding).

 

Auroville: Pondicherry.   Auroville or the City of Dawn was developed under the Mother's direction in 1968 with the co-operation of many nations. Designed by the French architect Roger Arger, Auroville is envisioned as a place where people could live "freely as citizens of the world, obeying one single authority that of the Supreme Truth, a place of peace, concord, harmony". There are about 40 odd settlements located around a central focus called the Matri Mandir. These settlements are engaged in a variety of activities, including afforestation, farming, education and handicrafts.  

 

Avanti: Madhya Pradesh.  The ancient name of modern Ujjain city in western Madhya Pradesh.  It was one of the Mahajanapadas of the 5th century BC. Later on, it became one of the four great cities of India under its king Pradyota. 

 

B

 

Badami:  Karnataka.  Badami or Vatapi, the one time capital of the Chalukyas, is famous for its rock-cut temples built by the Chalukyas.  Out of the five temples, three are Brahmanical, two are Buddhist and one is Jain.

 

Baidyanath Dham: Bihar. It is the Shiva temple at Deogarh which has been an important pilgrimage centre for centuries.  According to legend, this is the place where Ravana rested on his way to Lanka after abducting Sita.

 

Bandhavgarh: Madhya Pradesh. This is a small National Park situated in Shahdol district and has the highest density of the tiger population in India. White Tigers, Indian bison, Sambar, Barking deer and Nilgai are common in the park.  

 

Bangalore: Karnataka.  Known as the 'Silicon Valley of India', Bangalore is famous for the Vidhana Soudha, Chowdaih Memorial Hall, Cubbon Park, Ulsoor Lake, Bangalore Palace, Tipu Sultan's Palace, Lal Bagh Garden and the Sri Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple.  It is also famous for the Whitefield, the Ashram set up by Sri Satya Sai Baba; Nrityagram Dance Village and Dodda Alada Mara or Ramohalli (a 400-year old Banyan tree).

 

Barabar and Nagarjuna Caves: Bihar. Located about 35km north of Gaya, the caves date back to period of Emperor Ashoka (the third century BC). The Barabar Caves consist of temples and sanctuaries hacked out of huge granite outcrops and give details of the life of Buddha. The architecture of these rock-cut caves depicts the Ajivika sect of Buddhism.  Two of the caves have inscriptions of Ashoka The Lomas Rishi cave is sculpted to resemble lattice screens. The Barabar Caves find a mention in E.M.Foster's magnum opos 'A passage to India' as Marabar Caves. The Nagarjuna caves are smaller and younger than the Barabar caves.

 

Barhut:   Madhya Pradesh. It is famous for the Barhut Stupa built by the Sungas.

 

Basar: Andhra Pradesh. This place is famous for its Saraswati temple.  Kashmir is the only other place besides Basar where a Saraswati temple is located. The temple at Basar is also the abode of Goddess Lakshmi and Kali. Hence, Basar is considered the sacred place of the divine trinity.

 

Belur: Karnataka.  Belur, popularly known as 'Dakshina Varanasi' or 'South Benaras', is famous for the Channakeshava temple, built by the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 AD.

 

Belur Math: West Bengal. It is the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission Ashram, founded by Swami Vivekananda.  Its architecture is an amalgamation of the Christian, Hindu and Islamic styles. 

 

Bhadrachalam: Andhra Pradesh. This place, situated on the left bank of the river Godavari, is famous for the Sree Seetharamachandra Swamy shrine, where the 48 forms of Lord Vishnu are shown.  The uniqueness of the temple is that the idol of Lord Rama has a bow on one side and also shanku and chakra showing two avatars - that of Lord Vishnu and Lord Rama. Also, unlike in other temples Sita is seated on Rama's lap.  Located close to the temple is the Ushnagundam which is believed to the place from where Lakshama had brought hot water for Sita to bathe.  Also located about 35 km away from Bhadrachalam is Parnashala which is believed to be the hut where Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshaman lived during their exile in the forest and where Sita was separated from Lord Rama and taken away by Ravana.

 

Bharatpur: Rajasthan.  Bharatpur is popular for its bird sanctuary, the Keoladeo (Ghana) National Park; the Bharatpur Palace,  Lohargarh Fort  (designed by Maharaja Suraj Mal, the founder of Bharatpur.), the three palaces of  Kishori Mahal, Mahal Khas and Kothi Khas within the fort and the imposing towers of Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj.

 

Bhimbetka: Madhya Pradesh. Bhimbetka is an archaeological treasure house and consist of the biggest repository of prehistoric art in India.  Recent excavations here have revealed over 700 rock shelters belonging to the Neolithic age.  

 

Bhiwani: The name 'Bhiwani' comes from goddess Gauri Bhawani. The place is described as 'the Little Kashi' since it has nearly 300 temples. Prithiviraj ki Kutchery (or Baradari), shrines of Khera Baba and Lohar Pir, Loharu fort and the Raja Khetri mosque and tomb are some of the well-known places in Bhiwani.  

 

Bhoja Caves:  Maharashtra. These are 18 Buddhist caves located near Mumbai, built during the 2nd century B.C.

 

Bhopal: Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, is situated on the 11th century city, Bhojapal, founded by Raja Bhoja. An Afghan soldier Dost Mohammed (1707-1740) established the present city. A succession of powerful Begums had ruled over Bhopal from 1819 to 1926. Important places in Bhopal include the Taj-ul-Masajid (said to be the largest mosque complex in India); Gauhar Mahal and Jama Masjid, built by Kudsia Begum in 1820 and 1837 respectively; Moti Masjid (built in 1860 by Sikandar Jehan, the daughter of Kudsia Begum); Shaukat Mahal; Sadar Manzil; Bharat Bhawan; Gandhi Bhawan; Van Vihar and Islamnagar (developed by Afghan ruler Dost Mohammed Khan, it is famous for the synthesis of Hindu and Islamic decorative art).  

 

Bhuj: Gujarat. The old walled city of Bhuj is famous for its Museums, Ayanamahal, Cenotaphs and a Flamingo Sanctuary. Narayan Sarovar, near Bhuj, is one of the five holy lakes of the Hindu faith. Kera is renowned for the 10th century Shiv temple.  Khoteswar is an ancient place of pilgrimage. The town came into the news recently after it was completely destroyed by a devastating earthquake on 26th January, 2001.

 

Bihar Sharif:  Bihar. This is famous for the tomb of the 14th century Muslim saint Makhdum Shah Sharif-ud-din.

 

Bijapur:  Karnataka.  The foundation of this historic city was laid during the reign of the Chalukayan Dynasty of Kalyani between 10th and 11th Centuries. Bijapur is famous for the Gol Gumbaz built by Adil Shah, the second largest dome in the world, which is 51m high and has a diameter of 37metres. Bijapur is also famous for the Sat Manzil, Ibrahim Roza, Bara Kaman, Mehtar Mahal, Nagar Khana and the Gagan Mahal.  Ibrahim Roza is the tomb of Adil Shai Sultan Ibrahim II (1580-1627 AD). 

 

Bikaner:  Rajasthan. Bikaner was founded in the 15th century by Rao Bikaji. Junagarh Fort (constructed between 1588-1593 AD by Raja Rai Singh) with its Suraj Pol or Sun Gate, Chandra Mahal, Phool Mahal;  Lalgarh Palace; Anup Mahal, Karan Mahal, Dungar Niwas, Ganga Niwas, Gaj Mandir,  Rang Mahal;  Har Mandir; Lal Garh Palace with a museum known as Shri Sadul Museum; the 16th century Bhandasar Jain Temple;  Devi Kund (a royal crematorium); Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary; Shiv Bari Temple; Deshnok's Karni Mata Temple and Kolayatji having a temple dedicated to Kapil Muni are some of the interesting places in and around Bikaner.

 

Bisfi:  Bihar. It is the birthplace of famous Maithili Poet Vidyapati.

 

Bodhgaya:  Bihar.  Located 13 kms from Gaya town and situated on the bank of river Niranjana (Modern Falgu), it is the place where Lord Buddha attained the supreme enlightenment and became "The Buddha", the enlightened one. The Bodhi Tree is the direct descendant of the original tree under which Buddha had attained enlightenment. A sapling from the original tree was taken to Sri Lanka by Emperor Ashoka's daughter Sanghamitra when Ashoka took Buddhism to the island. The tree now flourishes in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka.  The170 feet high Mahabodhi Temple stands east to the Bodhi Tree with Chatras on its top. The main sanctum sanctorum has a colossal image of Buddha in a sitting posture touching the earth by his right hand. Vajrasana is the stone platform where Buddha used to meditate. Chankaramana marks the sacred spot where Buddha meditated during the third week after the pious enlightenment. It is believed that wherever Buddha put his feet lotuses sprang up. Animeshlocha Stupa is believed to be the place where Buddha spent one week looking towards the great Mahabodhi Tree out of gratitude, without blinking his eyes.   Ratnagar is believed to be the place where five colours came out of his body. Sujata Asthan is the place where a young village woman approached Buddha and offered him bowl of rice just before his enlightenment.  Numerous monasteries are located around Bodh Gaya.  The prominent among these include the Thai temple; the Tibetan temple, which is a monastery belonging to the Gelug-pa (Yellow Hat) sect; the Karmapa monastery, the Daijokyo Japanese Monastery and the Indosan Nipponji temple. The Mahabodhi Sangharama built by the king of Ceylon in the fourth century AD is the earliest of the Buddhist monasteries built outside India. Bodh Gaya is also renowned for the Hindu Shankaracharya Math and the Dungeshwari and Surya temples.

 

Bombay: See Mumbai.

 

Bomdila: Arunachal Pradesh. Bomdila, a peaceful unspoiled town set among apple orchards on a spur of the Thagla Ridge, has a couple of Buddhist monasteries and a small local museum.

 

Borra Caves: Vizag, Andhra Pradesh.These are the one million-year old beautiful and natural limestone caves located about 56 miles off Visakhapatnam and occupying an area of 2 square kilometers. The limestone caves were formed as a result of the action of the Gosthani River.

 

Bundi: Rajasthan.  Bundi, a picturesque town surrounded by the Aravalli Hills, is famous for its magnificent palaces, forts and the royal cenotaphs. The Bundi palace presents one of the finest examples of Rajput architecture. The walls of Chatra-Mahal are adorned with artwork using gold. The famous Chitra Shala is also located in the palace and provides a colourful glimpse of history. Bundi is also known as the city of wells. It has about fifty beautiful tanks and step-in-wells called Baories. Of these, Raniji-ki-Baori or the Queen's Baori is the best known for its architectural beauty.

 

Buxar: Bihar. It is believed that Lord Rama and Lakshmana had their earlier training here in the Ashram of Vishwamitra. The battlefield of Chausa where Sher Shah defeated the Mughal emperor Humayun is located nearby.

 

C

 

Calcutta: Calcutta (now called 'Kolkata'), is a historical and culturally rich city. It is believed that the city of Calcutta was founded by Job Charnock in 1690, after buying the three villages of Sutanati,Gobindopur and Kolikata from a local landlord.  The important places in the city include Academy of Fine Arts, Academy of Indian coins and History, Centre of International Modern Art (CIMA), Birla Industrial and Technological Museum, Birla Planetarium, Botanical Gardens (laid out in 1787, it is the largest and oldest of its kind in India), Burrabazar, Dakshineswar Temple, Dhakuria Lake, Eden Gardens, Fort William,  Howrah Bridge, Kalighat Temple, Nandan, Nicco Park, Rat Park, Shaheed Minar, St John's Church (dating back to 1784, the church houses the tombs of Job Charnock and his family), St Paul's Cathedral (built in 1847) and Victoria Memorial (built between 1906 and 1921 in memory of Queen Victoria).

 

Calicut: Kerala.  Calicut or Kozhikode was the capital of Zamorin Rajas.  It was at Kappad, near Calicut that Vasco-da-Gama landed up in 1498.

 

Castella de Aguanda:  Mumbai.  This is a Portuguese fort which is declared as a heritage site.

 

Cellular Jail:  Andaman & Nicobar Islands. This  is a three-storeyed prison, constructed by the British in 1906 at Port Blair in the Andaman Islands. This is a virtual  pilgrim destination for freedom fighters. In this colossal edifice untold tortures were inflicted on freedom fighters and they were virtually incarcerated. These brutalities led to this place being referred as the Kalapani. It is here that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had hoisted the Indian tricolour on December 30, 1943. This place was declared as a "National Memorial" in 1979 and is called the Mukti Tirtha.

 

Chail: Himachal Pradesh. It was the summer capital of the erstwhile Patiala State. The Choor Chandni or the Choordhar gives a panoramic view of the picturesque hills and undulating ranges. The Chail Cricket ground is the highest cricket ground in the world. 

 

Chamba:  Himachal Pradesh. Chamba was the ancient capital of the Pahari Kings and was founded in 920 AD by King Sahil Verma.  The town is well known for its temples, which closely resemble the temples of Rajasthan and some of them characteristically have shikharas or spires. Some of the well-known temples are the Lakshminarayan temple, Katasan Devi temple, Mani-Mahesh Shikara temple, Hari Rai's Dera and the Chamunda Devi temple.

 

Champaner: Gujarat. Champaner lies at the foot of Pavagadh Fort about 47 Kms form Vadodara. It was subjugated by Sultan Mehmud Berara in 1484 AD who made it his new capital.  It is famous for the 'Champaner Satyagraha'.

 

Chamundi Hills: Karnataka. Hills in Mysore whose summit bears the mighty temple of Chamundeshwari (Durga), the guardian goddess of the Mysore dynasty.  It also houses one of the biggest statues of Nandi in India.

 

Chanderi: Madhya Pradesh. The place is famous for the Koshak Mahal built by Mohammed Khilji in 1445, the Jama Masjid, Shahzadi ka Rouza, Battisi Bandi and the Parameshwa Tal. Chanderi is also famous for its saris.

 

Chandigarh:  The Union Territory of Chandigarh is the joint capital of the states of Punjab and Haryana. It has several interesting places and monuments like the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Museum of the Evolution of Life (Science Museum), Child Art Gallery, National Gallery of Portraits, International Dolls Museum, Sukhana lake, the Rock Garden (built by Nek Chand), Zakir Hussein Rose Garden  (Asia's largest Rose Garden, spread over 30 acres and having over 1600 different species of roses), Mata Chandi Temple, Jayanti Devi Temple, Shiv temple at Saketri, Mansa Devi temple, Naina Devi Temple, Gurudwara Nada Sahib and  the Open Hand Monument.

 

Chandini Chowk: Delhi. The Chandini Chowk or the Moonlit Square belongs to Shah Jahan's times and was conceived by his daughter Jahanara. It is now a busy commercial area.

 

Chandrasarovar: Uttar Pradesh.  Also known as "Sur Kuti", this place located in the Persauli Village, about 25 km from Mathura is the hometown of saint Surdas from where he composed works like Sur Sagar and Sahitya Lahiri.

 

Charminar: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Often called "The Arc de triomphe of the East", the Charminar was built in 1591AD by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah. It is a beautiful structure with four intricately carved minarets built with granite and lime-mortar. The Charminar depicts the Indo-Saracenic tradition - a symbiosis of the Hindu and the Muslim traditions, which has woven the magic of a rich Deccani culture.

 

Chennai: Tamil Nadu. Popularly regarded as the 'Gateway to the South', Chennai (formerly known as Madras), the capital of Tamil Nadu, is the country's fourth largest city. It was founded at Fort St. George in 1639 AD by Francis Day of the East India Company on a piece of land given by the Raja of Chandragiri, the last representative of the Vijayanagar rulers of Hampi. The city had interactions with different cultures since a long time, which is reflected in the use of many foreign names in the street names such as the China Bazaar Road, Armenian Street and Portuguese Church Street. Important places in Chennai include Fort St. George, Santhome Cathedral (it derives its name from St Thomas, the apostle of Christ who came to Madras during 52 AD), St. George's Cathedral, St. Andrew's Church, St. Mary's Church (the oldest Anglican Church in the country, consecrated in 1679), Thousand Light Mosque, Marina Beach (the second largest in the world), Gandhi Mandapam, Anna Square, Snake Park, Theosophical Society, Valluvar Kottam (memorial of the poet-saint Tiruvalluvar), Ripon Buildings, Elliot's Beach, Walajah Big Mosque, Ashtalakshmi temple, Kalakshetra or 'Temple of Art' (an internationally renowned institution of classical music and dance founded in 1936 by Rukmini Devi Arundale), Kapaleeswarar Temple (8th century Pallava temple, considered to be the biggest temple in Chennai), Parthasarathy Temple, Kandaswamy Temple, Vadapalani Temple, Gandhi, Rajaji and Kamaraj Memorials and the B.M. Birla Planetarium at Kotturpuram.

 

Cherrapunjee (Sohra): Meghalaya. Better known today as Sohra, Cherrapunjee is the rainiest place in the world.  It is also famous for the Nohsngithiang falls, the Kshaid Dain Thlen Falls, Thangkharang Park and the Cherrapunjee Theological College.

 

Chidambaram: Tamil Nadu. Chidambaram (also known as Thillai) is an important pilgrim centre and a holy place for Shaivaites. The place is famous for the Nataraja Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The presiding deity of the temple is represented by air, one of the five elements of the universe and is known as Akash Lingam. The Sivakamiamman temple, the Sivaganga tank, Nritha Sabha court and the Thousand pillared-hall are other important features of the temple. The shrines of Govindaraja or Lord Vishnu, Subramanya and Ganesha are other sacred places in Chidambaram.  The Annamalai University (founded by the Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar), Neyveli, Gangaikondas Cholapuram, Pichavaram and Kalvarayan Hills are important places outside Chidambaram. Chidambaram is the site for the annual Nityanjali Festival.

 

Chitrakoot: Madhya Pradesh.  Chitrakoot is regarded as the place where the principal trinity of the Hindu pantheon, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, took their incarnations. Lord Rama and Sita spent 11 of their 14 years of exile in the deep forests of Chitrakoot and the great sages Atri and Sati Anusuya also meditated here.

 

Chittorgarh:  Rajasthan. Chittorgarh or Chittor was given to Bappa Rawal, the legendary founder of the Sisodia dynasty, as part of the last Solanki princess's dowry in the middle of the 8th century.  The massive Chittor Fort with its four main gates Padal Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol and Ram Pol, is a fine example of the Rajput architecture. The Vijay Stambh (Victory Tower) was built in 1440 AD by Rana Kumbha to commemorate his victory over the Muslim rulers of Malwa and Gujarat.  The Kirti Stambh (Tower of Fame), built in the 12th century AD, is dedicated to Adinath, the first of the Jain Tirthankaras.  The other important places in Chittorgarh are Rana Kumbha's Palace, Kumbha Shyam Temple (associated with mystic poetess Meerabai), Kalika Mata Temple, Fateh Prakash Mahal and the Jaimal and Patta Palaces. The Bassi Wildlife Sanctuary, Sita Mata Sanctuary, Sanwarlyaji Temple, Matri Kundia Temple and Bijaipur Castle.

 

Chotanagpur: Bihar. The anthropologists believe that the Chotanagpur region witnessed the transformation of Homo Erectus to Homo Sapiens. This claim is based on the findings of hand axes and blades in the region of Pathalgarwa and the discovery of Harappan pottery in the nearby areas. The oldest geological formations of India are also found in the Chotanagpur plateau. Ranchi, Netarhat or the ‘Queen of Chotanagpur’, Palamu and the Hazaribagh wildlife sanctuary are important places in the Chotanagpur plateau.

 

Chowmohalla Palace: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Built in 1750 by Nizam Salabat Jung and designed along the lines of the Shah's palace in Tehran, it consists of a group of palaces each used for a specific purpose. It consists of the Khilwat, Aftab Mahal, the Tahniyat Mahal and the Durbar Hall.

 

Chunar Fort: Uttar Pradesh.  Chunar Fort has been a strategic point during the incessant struggles between the Pathans and the Mughals in the 16th century. Between 1529-1539, it changed hands many times between Humayun and Sher Shah Suri. The fort remained in his hands of Afghans until 1575 when Akbar won it. Later, it was ceded to the East India Company in exchange for the fort at Allahabad.

 

Cochin (Kochi): Kerala. Cochin, known as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea', was an important trading port since time immemorial.  It was also the site for the first European settlement in India.  The influence of the Portuguese, Dutch and the British abound in the architecture and monuments of the city. Ernakulam is the modern part of Cochin and an important commercial centre.  The important places of interest in Cochin are: (a) Synagogue of Mattancheri: Built in 1568 AD, it was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662 AD but was rebuilt in 1664 AD.  The Great Scrolls of the Old Testament, the copper tablets on which the grants of priviledge made by the Cochin rulers are laid down and the hand-painted tiles are of great significance. The exquisite Belgium chandliers and the hand-painted Chinese tiles are of particular interest;  (b) Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace): It was built by the Portuguese and presented to the Cochin Raja in 1555 AD.  The Dutch carried out some repairs to the palace in 1663 AD.(c) St. Francis Church: Built by the Portuguese in 1510 AD, it is believed to be the first church built by the Europeans in India.  The Portuguese traveller Vasco-da-Gama was buried here for 14 years, before his mortal remains were later shifted to Portugal; (d) Santa Cruz Cathedral (Basilica); (e) Chinese Fishing Nets; (f) Bolghatty Island (built by the Dutch in 1774) and (g) Willingdon Island.

 

Coimbatore: Tamil Nadu. Coimbatore, the third largest city of the state, is known as the 'Manchester of South India'. Coimbatore is renowned for the Perur Temple, Marudhamalai Temple (Thai Poosam and Tirukarthigai festivals are celebrated with great pomp and gaiety at this temple), Sangameshwarar temple at Bhavani (described as 'Tiruveni of South India'), Glass Forest Museum, Vaideki Water Falls, Siruvani Waterfalls, the water theme park called Black Thunder, Thirumoorthy Temple and the Anamalais Wildlife Sanctuary or Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

Connaught Place (CP): New Delhi.  Designed by Robert Tor Russel, Connaught Place or CP served as the nucleus around which the city of New Delhi built, when it was decided on December 12, 1911 to shift the capital of India from Calcutta to New Delhi. The British Viceroy Lord Hardinge suggested that  a "Western architecture with an Oriental motif" be adopted when designing the CP.  Three Indian contractors played an important role in the building of CP: Sir Sobha Singh, Sardar Dharam Singh and Rai Bahadur Narain Singh.  The Regal Cinema in CP was built in 1928 followed by Rivoli in 1940 and Odeon in 1945.  In 1995, Connaught Place was renamed as Rajiv Chowk and Connaught Circus (the Outer Circle) was rechristened Indira Chowk.

 

Courtallam: Tamil Nadu. Courtallam (also known as the 'Spa of the South') has nine water falls: Main falls, Chitaruvi, Shenpagadevi falls, Thenaruvi, Five falls, Orchard falls, New falls, Tiger falls and Old Courtallam falls.  The place is also known for Thiru Courtallanathar temple and the Chithra Sabha having a number of mural paintings of rural deities and stories from epics depicted in the central hall.

 

Cranganore: Kerala. Cranganore (Kodungallore or Muziris) is a place near Cochin, where St. Thomas landed in 52 AD. It was the capital of Cheraman Perumal, the King of Kerala.  It is famous for the Cheramanparambu Palace, Portugese Fort and the Tiruvanchikulam and Bhagavathi temples.

 

D

 

Dadra & Nagar Haveli: The Union Territory of Dadra and Nager Haveli if famous for Tadkeshwar Shiva Mandir, Bindrabin, Deer Park Khanvel, Vanganga Lake, Dadra, Vanvihar Udhyan, Bal Udhyan, Tribal cultural museum and Hirvavan Garden at Silvassa. 

 

Dakshineshwar: West Bengal.  It is famous for its Dakshineswar Temple (Kali Temple) built by Rani Rasmani of north Calcutta in the 19th century on the bank of Ganges, north east of Calcutta. It is here that Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsadeva, the renowned spiritual personality and the guru of Swami Vivekananda, had worshipped Kali, the Divine Mother, and did his sadhana at the Panchavati Garden adjacent to the temple.

 

Dalhousie: Himachal Pradesh. It is the famous hill station of the British period. The town is named after the British Governor General, Lord Dalhousie who visited this area around the middle of the 19th century. Subash Baoli, Satdhara,  Bakrota hills,  Panjpulla, Kalatope, Bara Pathar ( famous for the temple of Bhulwani Matha) and Dhain Kund (a high peak) are important places in Dalhousie.

 

Daman: It is a district of the Union Territory of Daman & Diu.  It is famous for the Devka Seaface, Jampore and Nani Daman Beaches; the 17th century Church of Bom Jesus; the 16th century Church of The Lady of Dolores;  Fort of Moti Daman; Fort of St.Jerome; Kachigam Tank, Satya Sagar Udhyan, Dalwada, Kadaiya Pond and Nani Daman Jetty garden.

 

Darjeeling: West Bengal. Darjeeling is a picturesque hill resort famous for its finest blend of tea. Darjeeling was gifted to the British East India Company in 1817. The Buddhist Monasteries and the Hindu temples found here are of architectural and cultural importance. Important places at Darjeeling include Batasia Loop  (along the train track at Ghoom, the highest railway station in the world), Dhirdham Temple, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Padmaja Naidu Himalaya Zoological Park, Natural History Museum, Lloyds Botanical Garden, Tibetan Self-help Centre, Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway, Lebong Race Course, Tiger Hill, Yiga-Choling Monastery at Ghoom (it belongs to the Gelugpa Sect and houses a 15 ft statue of the Maitrey Buddha), Japanese Temple and Gorkha Stadium.

 

Daulatabad Fort:  Maharashtra.  It was built in 1187 AD by Villama Raja of the Yadava dynasty during whose time it was known as "Devagiri" or the 'Hill of Gods'.  It was plundered by Allauddin Khilji in 1294 AD and became the capital of Muhammad Tughlaq in 1327 AD. The Chand Minar is a 65m high spectacular tower located at this fort built by Allauddin Bahamani in 1453 AD in commemoration of his conquest of Deccan.

 

Dehradun: Uttaranchal.   It is a beautiful hill station with several interesting places like Robber's Cave (Guchchu Pani), Sahastradhara, Dakpather Barrage, Tapkeshwar Temple, the Forest Research Institute and the Wadia Institute of Geology.

 

Deoghar: Jharkhand.  It is an important Hindu pilgrim centre renowned for its Shiva Temple.

 

Dharamshala:  Himachal Pradesh. The splendid town of Dharamshala is situated on the foothills of mighty Dhauladhar Mountains or  "The white mountains". After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, Dharamshala became the temporary headquarters of the Dalai Lama. It is often described as the 'Little Lhasa in India'.  Mcleodganj is a charming Tibetan settlement and is a major culture centre of Tibetan Buddhism in India. His Holiness Dalai Lama also resides in Mcleodganj. The Tibetan Institute of performing Arts (TIPA) is also located here. 

 

Dholavira: Gujarat. Dholavira is an Indus valley site, assumed to be over 5000 years old, which was excavated in 1990.  It is located half way between a range of low hills and the Rann of Kachchh.

 

Diu: It is a district of the Union Territory of Daman & Diu.  It is famous for the Chakratirth, Ghoghla, Gomatimata, Jallandhar and Nagoa Beaches; St.Paul's Church; St. Thomas Church; Diu Fort (constructed between 1535-1541 AD); Fortress of Panikota (Fortem du Mar); Navlakha Parshvanath Temple and Gangeshwar.

 

E

 

Elephanta:  Maharashtra. Created by the Chalukyan rulers, the island of Elephanta is famous for its great cave shrine which is the glorious abode of Lord Shiva. It has among its beautiful stone sculptures, carvings of Shiva in his various avatars, as 'Nataraj' and 'Gangadhar'. The three-headed 'Maheshmurti' is the most impressive of all the sculptures. The island, dating back to the sixth century AD, was earlier known as Gharapuri, the Fortress City but was renamed as 'Elephanta' by the Portuguese. The Elephanta was accorded the title of World Heritage site in 1996.

 

Ellora Caves: Aurangabad, Maharashtra.  The Ellora caves, 34 in number, are the finest specimens of cave-temple architecture. These were carved during the period 350 AD to 700 AD. The 12 caves to the south are Buddhist, the 17 in the centre dedicated to Hinduism, and the 5 to the north are Jain. Caves 6 and 10 house the Buddhist and Hindu images under the same roof, the latter dedicated to Vishwakarma, the patron saint of Indian craftsmen. The Vishvakarma cave is both a Chaitya and a Vihara, with a seated Buddha placed in the stupa. The Kailasa temple in Cave 16 is an architectural marvel, the entire structure having been carved out of a monolith, the process taking over a century to finish. It was built by the Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna II during 751-783 AD. The Dumar Lena cave resembles the famous cave-temple at Elephanta and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Jain caves contain grand statues of Parasnath, images of Tirthankaras and one of them has a seated figure of Mahavira.

Ettaiyapuram:  Tamil Nadu.  This is the birthplace of the great revolutionary poet Subramanya Bharathi who is regarded as one of the best Tamil poets of the modern era.

 

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