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PLACES & MONUMENTS OF INDIA

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Madhubani: Bihar. This small place is famous for its folk paintings known as Madhubani Paintings.

Madras: See Chennai.

Madurai: Tamil Nadu. Known as the 'Athens of the East', Madurai was built by the Pandyan king Kulasekara in the 6th century BC.  It is most renowned for the 17th century Meenakshi Temple, which has the tallest Gopuram (temple gateway) in the world. This pre-Christian era temple was actually built by Kulasekara Pandya but was re-built later by Tirumalai Nayak. The temple forms a parallelogram and has 11 gopurams, one thousand-pillared hall, 'pool of lilies' and the �musical pillars�.  It is dedicated to Sundareshwara (Shiva) and his consort Meenakshi (Parvati). The Portamaraikulam or the golden lotus tank is the place where the Tamil literary society called Sangam used to meet to decide the merit of the literary works presented to them.  Tirumalai Nayak Palace (built in 1523 AD), Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam (Mariamman Tank), Koodal Azhagar Temple, Thirupparankunram (one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya), Pazhamudhirsolai  (another abode of Lord Subramanya), Gandhi Museum and Vaigai Dam are other important places in and around Madurai. Madurai plays host to the Chitirai, Avanimoolom and Float Festivals.

 

Mahabaleshwar:  Maharashtra. This popular hill resort was once the summer capital of the Bombay Presidency during the British days. The hill resort is known for Venna Lake, view points at Elphinston, Babington, Bombay and Kate's Point and the Chinaman's, Dhobi and Lingmala falls.

Mahabalipuram:  Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is famous for its nine rock-cut temples belonging to the Pallava period, the Rathas, Arjuna's Penance (the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world), Krishna Mandapam, Shore Temple, Mahishasurmardini Cave, Varaha Mandapa and Mandapams. Other Interesting monuments include Ganesa Ratha, Varcha Cave, Krishna's Butter Ball, Gopi's Churn, Valayankuttai Ratha and Kodikal Mandapam. Of the 8 rock-cut Rathas built by Narasimha I, the Dharmaraja Ratha is the largest.  The Pancha Pandava Ratha is architecturally the best.  The Shore Temple built by Narasimha II is dedicated to Lord Shiva and has two shrines placed back to back.

 

Mahakala Caves:  Bihar. The Mahakala (or Dungeshwari) Caves, 18km northeast of Bodh Gaya, is the site where the Buddha did the severe penance that resulted in the familiar image of him as a skeletal, emaciated figure.

 

Mahakali Caves:  Mumbai. These are rock-cut Buddhist caves situated in the Udayagiri hills, about 6.5km from Mumbai.  These were excavated during 200 BC to 600 AD and are now in ruins. 

 

Mahe: Pondicherry.  Mahe is a coastal region of the Union Territory of Pondicherry situated on the West Coast in Kerala.

Maheshwar: Madhya Pradesh.  This temple town was earlier known as Mahismati and finds a mention in the Ramayana and Mahabharata. It was the capital of the Holkar queen Rani Ahilya Bai. The nearby Peshwa Ghat, Fanase Ghat and Ahilya Ghat attract a large number of people. There are also intricately carved canopies or Chhatris like the Fanase Chhatri and the Bule Sarkar Ki Chhatri.  The town is also famous for the Maheshwari saris, renowned throughout India for their unique weave.

 

Majuli: Assam. It is considered as the world's largest inhabited riverine island and is revered for its Vaishnavite monasteries lying near Jorhat. Founded in the 15th century by Sri Sankardeva, there are 22 'Sataras' still surviving.  The important ones include Bengenaati Satra, Kamalabari Satra, Dakhinpat Satra, Anuiati Satra, Garamukh Satra and Shamaguri Satra. The Satras give a projection of the Assam's cultural heritage. Majuli is populated primarily by the Mishing tribe.

Manali:  Himachal Pradesh. Manali, which is known as 'Queen of Hill Stations', is the ultimate tourist destination for the trekking, mountaineering and fishing.  There are several places of interest around Manali like Vashisht,  Jagatsukh, Kothi,  Rohtang Pass,  Rahalla Falls,  Solang Valley, Arjun Gufa, Nehru Kund, Kothi, Jagatsukh, Beas Kund and the Hadimba Temple or Dhoongri Temple. 

Mandapeshwar Caves: Maharashtra. These are the 9th century Buddhist caves located near Mumbai. 

Mandi: Himachal Pradesh. The historic town of Mandi is renowned for its 81 finely carved old stone temples like the Bhutnath, Triloknath, Panchvaktra, Shyamakoli and Tarna Devi temples. The Rewalsar Lake (famous for its floating islands of reed), Sundernagar, Janjehli and the Gompa monastery are other important places in Mandi.

 

Mandu: Madhya Pradesh. Mandu or the 'City of Joy' is associated with the romance of the poet-prince Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati. Mandu was originally the fort capital of the Parmar rulers of Malwa. It was in the 10th century that Raja Bhoj founded this town as a retreat. Towards the end of 13th century, it came under the Sultans of Malwa, whose first ruler renamed it Shadiabad - the 'city of joy'.  The Afghan governor Dilawar Khan established the kingdom of Mandu and started its golden era. His son Hoshang Shah raised it to its greatest splendour. Important places in Mandu are the Jahaz Mahal, Nahar Jharokha, Taveli Mahal, Hindola Mahal, Dilawar Khan's Mosque, Hoshang Shah's Tomb (considered as India's first marble monument), Ashrafi Mahal, Jami Masjid (which is inspired by the great mosque of Damascus and was completed by Mahmud Shah Khilji I), Nilkanth (a Shiva temple), Nilkanth Mahal, Rewa Kund, Baz Bahadur's Palace, Roopmati's Pavilion, Hathi Mahal, Darya Khan's Tomb and Dai Ka Mahal. 

 

Maner: Bihar. Situated 29km west of Patna, it is renowned for the shrines of Hazrat Makhdoom Yahya Maneri and his son Sharfuddin Ahmed Maneri. These shrines, referred to as Choti and Bari Dargah, were visited by Sikandar Lodi, Babur, Humayun and Akbar. The Choti Dargah is considered to be one of the finest mausoleums of Eastern India.

 

Mangalore: Karnataka. The city of Mangalore is believed to have been eternally blessed by the benign Mother Goddess, Mangalamba. This region was given away as a reward to sage Parashurama by Samudraraja and is, thus, hailed as "Parashurama Srusti". Great sages like Kanva, Vyasa, Vashista and Vishwamitra were believed to have meditated on the Sahyadri Mountains located in this region.  It formed part of the Tulu land, ruled by the Taulava kings.  Mangalore is famous for the St. Aloysius Church and the Jog Falls, which are India's highest waterfalls.

 

Mathura:  Uttar Pradesh. Famous for the Mathura School of Art, Statues of Buddha and Mahavira and the headless statue of Kanishka.  Most of these monuments are built of red sandstone.  It is also famous for the Shri Krishna Janmasthana, Dwarkadish Temple, Kansa's Fort, Geeta Mandir, Goverdhan and Nandgaon.

 

Mecca Masjid: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Located near the Charminar, this huge and impressive mosque can accommodate 10,000 worshippers at a time. It was started in 1614 by Abdullah Qutub Shah and completed in 1687 by Aurangzeb.

 

Medak : Andhra Pradesh.  Medak is famous for the Medak Church and Fort. The Medak Church was built in 1924 by Rev.Charles W.Posnett, the Medak Church is believed to be one of the tallest and largest churches in the country.  It is a fine example of Gothic architecture.  This cathedral has three marvellous stained glass windows, the 'Divine Manifestation', the 'Crucifixion' and the 'Ascension'.  The massive structure can accommodate as many as 5000 people at a time.  The 12th century Medak Fort, originally called Methuku durgam, is an architectural marvel and is of considerable historic importance since it witnessed several battles in the Deccan spanning five centuries. Originally built in typical Hindu style during the reign of the Kakatiyas, the later additions and modifications carried out by the Qutb Shahis exhibit Muslim architecture.

 

Monghyr: Bihar. Surrounded by the Ganga on three sides and guarded by the Kharagpur hills, Monghyr's strategic location has lured the kings and kingdoms since time immemorial. The history of Monghyr is, in fact, a chronology of battles. It begins with the Mahabharata that records the encounter of Bhim with the ruler of Modagiri (Monghyr's ancient name as mentioned in the Mahabharata) and concludes with the defeat of Nawab Mir Qasim in 1763 at the hands of the East India Company. In between, the pages of history of Monghyr are riddled with rebellions, sieges and battles fought between Palas, Pratiharas, Turks, Mughals, Afghans, Marathas and the English. Some historians believe that Chandragupta was the founder of Monghyr, which was called as Gupta Garh - a name that has been found inscribed on a rock here. Buddhist tradition refers to Monghyr as Maudgolyagiri, named after a rich merchant - Maudgala who was converted by Buddha to his religious order. Ramayana too is replete with references to Monghyr. Ain-e-Akbari describes Monghyr as the chief town where Raja Man Singh had his residence and Raja Todar Mall remained entrenched in the Monghyr fort when he came to crush the rebellious Bengal army of the Mughals. The nearby Kharagpur hill, an extension of the Vindhyan Range, is rich in hot springs like Bhimbandh, Rishi Kund and Sita Kund, where Sita is said to have suffered the fire ordeal to prove her chastity. The old coach factory is located at Jamalpur where 452 railway engines were assembled in the first decade of its establishment in 1862. The earliest monument is the 15th century tomb of Shah Nafa reflects typical Bengali architecture. A little distance beyond the southern gate is an old Chamberlain Memorial Church with an inscription "Ebenezer 1819". Around six kilometres from the town is Pir Pahar, near Sita Kund, which offers an excellent view of Monghyr and its surroundings. Monghyr has a rich public library, Krishna Seva Sadan, famous for its vast collection of books. Another library rich in oriental books, Persian and Arabic manuscripts, is the Khanqah-i-Jamia Rahmania, established by the noted scholar, Maulana Muhammad Ali Mungeri in 1927.

 

Moirang: Manipur.  Moirang is one of the principal centres of early Manipuri folk culture with an ancient temple of the pre-Hindu deity Lord Thangjing. This town is important, historically, as it was here that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army hoisted its flag for the first time on Indian soil.

 

Mount Abu: Rajasthan. Mount Abu is considered as sacred by both Hindus and Jains.  The famous Dilwara Jain temples date back to the 11-13th centuries.  The Vimala-Vashi Temple is the oldest temple, built in 1030 AD by Vimala Shah, and is dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain tirthankara. The Neminath Temple and the Luna Vashi Temple are the other important temples. The Nakki Lake, Gomukh Temple,  Achalgarh Fort, Guru Shikar having  the Mira and  Chaumundi Temples and the Adhar Devi Temple are some of the important sites around Mount Abu.

 

Mumbai:  Maharashtra. Once a group of seven islands, Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is now one big island connected to the mainland by long, sweeping bridges. The origins of modern Mumbai go back to 1662 AD, when Catherine of Braganza, the sister of the King of Portugal, married Charles II. The Portuguese, who then ruled the islands, included them as part of the wedding dowry. In 1668 AD, Charles II sold Bombay to the East India Company. Mumbai is famous for the Gateway to India (which was conceived following the visit of King George V in 1911 and officially opened in 1924), Tower of Silence; the Victoria or Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (VT), Nariman Point, Marine Drive, Juhu or Chowpati Beach, the beach resorts of Manori, Madh and Versova, Malabar Hill, Hanging Gardens (laid atop Malabar Hill in 1881), Prince of Wales Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Dr Bhaudaji Lal Museum,  Mahalaxmi Temple, Darga of Haji Ali, Jain Temple (built in 1904 and dedicated to Adinath), St. Holyname Cathedral, Sir J.J.Scjool of Art (associated with Rudyard Kipling), Hutatma Chawk (Martyrs' Square), the shopping centres of Chor Bazaar, Zaveri Bazaar, Colaba Causeway and Heera Panna, Raudat Tahera ( a mosque and mausoleum erected by the Dawoodi Bohras) and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park near Borivali, which is best known for the Kanheri Caves. Marve, Manori, Gorai and Madh Island are important beaches near Mumbai. Gorai is home to Esselworld, Mumbai's first amusement park.

Mussoorie:  Uttaranchal. Hill station at the foothills of the Himalayas, which was discovered by Captain Young in 1827.  It is famous for the Gun Hill, Kempty Falls, Dhanolti, Chakrata waterfalls, Camel's Back Road, Lal Tibba, Lake Mist Resort and Bhadraj Temple.  Surkanda Devi, about 35 km from Mussoorie, is an important pilgrimage point. 

 

Mysore: Karnataka.  Mysore was the capital of the Wodeyar dynasty, which ruled the state of Karnataka for nearly 150 years till the Independence.  Mysore is well known for the Chaumundeshwari temple, St.Philomena's Cathedral, the Brindavan Gardens, Tipu Sultan's tomb and the Mysore Palace.

 

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Nabadwip:  West Bengal.  Nabadwip is one of the most important pilgrimage centers for the Hindus. It is the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya, the founder of Vaisnava sect. Nabadwip, which has around 186 temples, is called the 'Varanasi of Bengal'.

 

Nagappattinam: Tamil Nadu.  Historically Nagappattinam was one of the constituents of Cholamandalam and was known as 'Cholkula Vallippattinam'. Nagappattinam is mentioned as 'Padarithitha' in ancient Buddhist literature. An ancient Burmese historical text of 3rd century BC provides evidence of  the existence of a Buddha Vihara built by Ashoka. The Darga of Hazrat Mian at Nagore, Arokkiya Madha Church at Velanganni, Shiva Temple at Sikkal, Vedaranyewarar temple at Vedaranyam (Thirumaraikkadu) and the Vaishnava temple at Mannarkudi are some of the important places in Nagappattinam.

 

Nagercoil: Tamil Nadu. The place is famous for the Nagercoil Temple dedicated to Nagaraja, the King of Snakes. The Olakkay Aruvi waterfalls, Colachel Port, Lord Muruga Temple, ancient port of Thengapattinam, Udayagiri Fort, St. Xavier Church, Kottar and the church of Manapadu are important places around Nagercoil.

 

Nagarjunakonda:  Andhra Pradesh. Originally known as Sriparvata, it is situated in a valley drowned under the reservoir of the Nagarjunasagar dam across the Krishna River in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. The site was once studded with ruins of countless Buddhist relics that were salvaged and the building materials of the monasteries and chaityas were reconstructed atop a hill which forms an island now. Inscriptions from the Buddhist monasteries suggest that Nagarjunakonda must have been the biggest and one of the most important Buddhist settlements in South India and also a great pilgrimage center.

 

Nagarjuna Sagar: Andhra Pradesh. Nagarjuna Sagar is named after the Buddhist monk, Acharya Nagarjuna. Its dam is considered to be Asia's biggest. Constructed on the river Krishna, the dam was completed in 1966-67 and reaches a height of 124 meters with 26 crest gates. Nagarjuna Sagar is also the largest man-made lake. It is also a place of immense archeological significance. Excavations have revealed that Nagarjunasagar was a center for the propagation of Buddhist teachings in South India. Saint Nagarjuna had founded the Madhyamika School here. Another major attraction at Nagarjunasagar is the picturesque Ethipothala waterfalls, flowing down from Chandravanka Mountains, located eleven kilometers from the dam.

Naggar:  Himachal Pradesh. It was the capital of Kullu for about 1400 Years. There are several interesting temples around Naggar like the Gauri Shanker Temple, the Vishnu Temple and the pagoda shaped shrine of Tripura Sundari.  The Roerich Art Gallery is another attraction for the tourists.

Nagore: Tamil Nadu. The place is famous for the Darga of Hazrat Meera Sultan Syed Shahabdul Hameed (better known as Hazrat Mian). 

Naina Devi: Himachal Pradesh. Naina Devi is famous for the Naina Devi temple, which is one of the 51 shakti peeths according to the Hindu mythology.

Nainital: Uttaranchal.  It is 100-year old hill station that was discovered by an Englishman Baron in 1841.  It is known as India's 'Lake District' as it has a large number of lakes like Naini Lake, Chirp Tal, Sat Tal, Bhim Tal and Nauchukiya Tal.

 

Nalanda:  Established in the 5th century BC, Nalanda, situated near Rajagriha, is recorded as the world�s earliest university. It was described as �The Oxford University of Mahayana Buddhism�.  Built by Kumara Gupta I, it offered wide range of subjects like literature, logic, grammar, medicine, philosophy and astronomy.  Buddha is believed to have visited Nalanda a number of times. His favourite disciple Sariputra was born here and he died preaching at this place. In the 3rd century BC, the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka honoured the famous monk with a grand stupa.  By 5th century BC it acquired the position of a well-established monastery under the Guptas.  A long succession of kings from 5th to 12th century extended their royal patronage to ensure the progress and prosperity of the university.  During its hey-days Nalanda was a flourishing residential university with over 10,000 students and 1500 teachers. Huen Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim spent three years at Nalanda in the 7th century. Another Chinese pilgrim I-Tsing spent 10 years at this university.  The most imposing structure in Nalanda is the Sariputra Stupa which has seen the construction of different periods. Archaeological discoveries have established that metal objects were cast in Nalanda.  The Pala School of art is seen at its best at Nalanda and several sculptures belonging to this period have been unearthed in excavations.   Lauria Areraj is the 11.5 m high Ashokan column, erected in 249 BC. The polished sandstone pillar has six edicts on it. Lauria Nandangarh is the site of the famous 8.5 m polished sandstone lion pillar erected by Ashoka.  The adjoining Nandangarh stupa is believed to house the ashes of the Buddha.

Nanded:  Maharashtra.  Nanded is a sacred place for the Sikhs. Of the many gurudwaras, the shrine of Guru Govind Singh, known as Sachkhand Gurudwara, is particularly famous.

Narnaul:   Haryana. This is a very ancient town, which according to some, dates back to the Mahabharata times. The places of interest in Narnaul include Jal Mahal (built by Shah Quli Khan); Pir Turkman Mosque and Tomb; Ibrahim Khan Sur's Tomb (who was the grandfather of Sher Shah Suri); Quli Khan's Tomb; Chor Gumbad; Tripolia Gate (constructed by Shah Quili Khan in 1589); Chatta Rai Bal Mukund Das (a large palace built by Rai Bal Mukund Das, the diwan of Narnaul during Emperor Shah Jahan�s reign); Narnaul Shiva Temple; Madhav Wala Temple; Mirza Ali Jan�s Baoli; Shoba Sarovar and Chotta Barwa Tank.  

 

Nicobar Islands: The Nicobar Islands can be divided in three groups - northern-most group, central group and southern group.  Since time immemorial these beautiful Islands have been part of India. Many of the voyagers referred Nicobar Islands as the 'Land of the Naked'. In Indian term it was called 'Nakkavar'. An archeological inscription dated 1059 AD indicated that Nicobar was part of the kingdom of Tamil Chola King of Tanjore. In 1869, British took possession of the Nicobar Islands from the Danes and they became part of modern India.  

 

Nizamuddin Dargah: New Delhi. Sheikh Nizamuddin Auliya (1238-1335 AD) came to Delhi in 1258 AD and became a disciple of the celebrated Sufi mystic Sheikh Farid Shakargunj or Baba Farid. The Hazrat died in 1325 AD. His original tomb, built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq, does not exist anymore and the present structure was built around 1562 AD by Faridun Khan. The tombs of the famous Sufi poet Amir Khusro and that of the Mughal princess Jahanara are located adjacent to the dargah.  The dargah is popularly called as the "Yaran Chabuttrra" or the 'platform of friends'.

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Omkareshwar: Madhya Pradesh. Omkareshwar is the sacred island, shaped like the holiest of all Hindu symbols 'OM'. The temple of Shri Omkar Mandhata houses a Jyotirlinga

Ooty: Tamil Nadu.  Ooty (also known as Ootacamund or Udhagamandalam) is described as 'the Queen of the hill stations of South India'.  Situated in the Nilgiris at an altitude of 2240 metres, Ooty is known for its extraordinary scenic beauty. The important places in and around Ooty are Botanical Gardens (whose landscape resembles that of the Kew Gardens of London), Pykara, Ketty Valley View, Glen Morgan, Doddapetta (highest peak in the Nilgiris -2623 m), Kalhatty Water Falls, Wenlock Downs, Elk Hills, Tiger Hill, Wilson Fish Farm, St. Stephen Church, Marlimund Lake, Avalanche and the Snowden Peak. Wellingtion, Kotagiri, Glenmorgan, Coonoor and Lovedale are other beautiful places located outside Ooty.

 

Orchha: Madhya Pradesh.   Orchha is a medieval city which was founded in 16th century by the Bundela Rajput chieftain Rudra Pratap.  Some interesting places in Orchha include the Jehangir Mahal built by Raja Bir Singh to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir; Laxminarayan Temple; Sheesh Mahal; Orchha Fort; Raj Mahal, built by Madhukar Shah; Rai Praveen Mahal; Anand Mahal;  Chaturbhuj Temple;  Ram Raja Mandir; Dinman Hardaul's Palace and Shahid Smarak (which commemorates the great freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad).

 

Osmania University: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Established in 1918 by the late Nizam of Hyderabad, it was the first university in India to impart education in a vernacular language.

 

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