Must-see places in Cochin

Cochin, also known as Kochi, is a major port on the south-west coast of India in the state of Kerala. It is known as the Queen of the Arabian sea. With an extensive history of being occupied by the Portuguese, and later by the Dutch and the British, it was the first of the European colonies in India. With a rich history, culture and heritage, it is one of the best tourist places to visit in India.

1. Mattancherry Palace:

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Mattancherry Palace was gifted to the Raja of Kochi, Veera Kerala Varma by the Portuguese in 1555. The palace was later renovated in 1663 by the Dutch, which gave it an alternate name, The Dutch Palace. The Mattancherry neighbourhood is full of colonial buildings. The palace lacks the grandeur that is often expected of a palace; however, there is a small museum and some rare art inside, including paintings of previous kings and some preserved Hindu murals, depicting scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranic legends in intricate detail. People who love history should definitely check this place out.

2. Kerala Folklore Theatre and Museum:

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The Kerala Folklore Theater and Museum is a privately owned museum located in the outskirts of Ernakulam. Opened in the year 2009, the museum showcases the rich heritage that Kerala exudes through its numerous art and dance forms. Artifacts that bear the scent of bygone era like masks, sculptures, in wood, stone and bronze, costumes of traditional and ritual art forms, musical instruments, traditional jewelry, manuscripts of rare medicinal and astrological secrets, and Stone-Age utensils are all preserved in this museum with utmost care. It is a great place to start if you are interested in learning about Kerala’s culture. Its architecture is magnificent. Stage performances usually take place at 6.30 p.m. everyday.

3. Paradesi Synagogue:

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Built by the early Jewish traders in 1568 adjacent to the Mattancherry Palace, this synagogue was partially destroyed by the Portuguese and rebuilt again by the Dutch. It features an ornate gold pulpit and elaborate hand-painted, willow-pattern floor tiles from Canton, China, which were added in 1762. It’s magnificently illuminated by Belgian chandeliers and coloured-glass lamps. The graceful clock tower was built in 1760. Shorts, sleeveless tops, bags and cameras are not allowed inside.

4. St. Francis Church:

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St. Francis Church was built in 1503. It has great historical significance and is considered to be the oldest European church in India. The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama died in Kochi in 1524 and his body was originally buried in this church, but after fourteen years his remains were removed to Lisbon. Originally built by the portugese, it was subsequently claimed by the Dutch and British.

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Must-see Places In and Around Coimbatore

1. Aliyar Dam:

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Aliyar is a reservoir near Pollachi town in Coimbatore District. Located in the foothills of Valparai, it is about 65 kilometres from Coimbatore. The dam offers some ideal getaways including a park, garden, aquarium, play area and a mini Theme-Park maintained by Tamil Nadu Fisheries Corporation for visitors enjoyment. The view is scenic with mountains surrounding three quarters of the reservoir. Monkey falls, which is also a famous destination for tourists, is located at about a distance of 6 kilometers. Overnight stay is possible in the forrest rest house.

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2. Kodiveri Dam:

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Kodiveri Dam is located on the Bhavani River. The name ‘Kodiveri’ is originated from ‘kodivari’ in Tamil meaning ‘Tiger’, which represents the forest area around the Dam where large number of tigers lived. The Maharaja of Mysore constructed the dam in the 17th century by harnessing the strength of a workforce that included his prisoners and elephants. A 20-foot wall of rock was carved in order to construct the dam. The stones were then interlocked with iron bars and lead was used as mortar. These are, however, not visible except in the dry season when the water level in the river drops considerably. Some improvement were carried out during the British rule without tampering the original design. The lush green fields around are a pleasure to watch. For tourists, it is a great place to eat delicious fresh fish and bob in the water on a coracle.

3. Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary:

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Parambikulam is a wildlife sanctuary established in the year 1973. It is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a world heritage site. For people seeking an adventure out in the wild, this is a great place to trek, although prior permission needs to be obtained from the officials. The sanctuary, which is a part of the western ghats, is rich in flora and fauna and is a treat to the eyes of nature enthusiasts.

4. Siruvani Water Falls:

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Situated at Siruvani Hills at a distance 37 km away from Coimbatore, Siruvani Water Falls is an enchanting waterfall, known for its magnificence. The water is famous for its taste and it is typically known to be the second sweetest water in the world. With an outstanding panoramic view, the water fall and the dam nearby is extremely beautiful and breathe taking. The best time to visit this place would be summer. It is also known by the name Kovai Kutralam.

Please visit iCityZoom for more information on various places to visit in Coimbatore.

Must-see Places in Delhi

1. Red Fort:

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The Red Fort was the residence of the Mughal emperor of India for nearly 200 years, until 1857. It is located in the centre of Delhi and houses a number of museums. In addition to accommodating the emperors and their households, it was the ceremonial and political centre of Mughal government and the setting for events critically impacting the region. Constructed in 1648 by the fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as the palace of his fortified capital Shahjahanabad, the Red Fort is named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone and is adjacent to the older Salimgarh Fort, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546.With the Salimgarh Fort, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 as part of the Red Fort Complex.

2. Humayun’s Tomb:

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Humayun’s tomb is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun in Delhi, India. The tomb was commissioned by Humayun’s first wife Bega Begum in 1569-70, and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, a Persian architect chosen by Bega Begum. It was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent, and is located in Nizamuddin East, Delhi, India, close to the Dina-panah citadel also known as Purana Qila (Old Fort), that Humayun founded in 1533. It was also the first structure to use red sandstone at such a scale. The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and since then has undergone extensive restoration work, which is complete.

3. Qutab Minar:

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Qutab Minar is the second tallest minar in India. Qutub Minar along with the ancient and medieval monuments surrounding it form the Qutb Complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower is located in the Mehrauli area of Delhi, India. It is made of red sandstone and marble, like many of the mughal architecture. Inside the tower, a circular staircase with 379 steps, leads from the bottom to the top storey. Qutab Minar is surrounded by several historically significant monuments, which are historically connected with the tower and are part of the Qutb Complex.

4. Lodhi Gardens:

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Lodhi Gardens is a park in Delhi, India, which contains Mohammed Shah’s Tomb, Sikander Lodi’s Tomb, Sheesh Gumbad and Bara Gumbad. The site is now protected by the Archeological Survey of India. The gardens are situated between Khan Market and Safdarjung’s Tomb on Lodhi Road and is a hotspot for morning walks for the Delhiites. As there is little architecture from these two periods remaining in India, Lodhi Gardens is an important place of preservation. The tomb of Mohammed Shah is visible from the road, and is the earliest structure in the gardens.

5. Lotus Temple:

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The Lotus Temple is a Bahá’í House of Worship completed in 1986. Notable for its flowerlike shape, it serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent and has become a prominent attraction in the city. The Lotus Temple has won numerous architectural awards and been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. The Lotus Temple is open to all, regardless of religion, or any other distinction.

Please visit our official Travel Guide for more information on famous tourist spots in Delhi.

Must-see places in Mumbai

1. Elephanta Island:

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Northeast of the Gateway of India in Mumbai Harbour, the rock-cut temples on Gharapuri, better known as Elephanta Island, are a Unesco World Heritage Site. Created between AD 450 and 750, the labyrinth of cave temples represent some of India’s most impressive temple carving. The Portuguese dubbed the island Elephanta because of a large stone elephant near the shore. This collapsed in 1814 and was moved by the British to Mumbai’s Jijamata Udyan. There’s a small museum on-site, with informative pictorial panels on the origin of the caves.

2. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya:

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Mumbai’s biggest and best museum displays a mix of exhibits from across India. The domed behemoth, an intriguing hodgepodge of Islamic, Hindu and British architecture, is a flamboyant Indo-Saracenic design by George Wittet (who also designed the Gateway of India).

Its vast collection includes impressive Hindu and Buddhist sculpture, terracotta figurines from the Indus Valley, Indian miniature paintings, porcelain and some particularly vicious-looking weaponry. Good information is provided in English, and audio guides are available in seven languages.

3. Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai:

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Taj Mahal Palace is Mumbai’s most famous landmark. This stunning hotel is a fairy-tale blend of Islamic and Renaissance styles, and India’s second-most photographed monument. It was built in 1903 by the Parsi industrialist JN Tata, supposedly after he was refused entry to one of the European hotels on account of being ‘a native’.

Much more than an iconic building, the Taj’s history is intrinsically linked with the nation: it was the first hotel in India to employ women, the first to have electricity (and fans), and it also housed freedom-fighters (for no charge) during the struggle for independence.

4. Gateway of India:

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This bold basalt arch of colonial triumph faces out to Mumbai Harbour from the tip of Apollo Bunder. Incorporating Islamic styles of 16th-century Gujarat, it was built to commemorate the 1911 royal visit of King George V, but wasn’t completed until 1924. Ironically, the British builders of the gateway used it just 24 years later to parade the last British regiment as India marched towards independence.

These days, the gateway is a favourite gathering spot for locals and a top place for people-watching. Giant-balloon sellers, photographers, vendors making bhelpuri and touts rub shoulders with locals and tourists, creating all the hubbub of a bazaar. In March, they are joined by classical dancers and musicians who perform during the Elephanta Festival.

Boats depart from the gateway’s wharfs for Elephanta Island.

5. Marine Drive:

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Marine Drive arcs along the shore of the Arabian Sea from Nariman Point past Girgaum Chowpatty and continues to the foot of Malabar Hill. It is extensively clean and tidy. Lined with flaking art deco apartments, it’s one of Mumbai’s most popular promenades and sunset-watching spots. Its twinkling night-time lights earned it the nickname ‘the Queen’s Necklace’. Hundreds gather on the promenade around Nariman Point in the early evening to snack and chat.

Please visit our official Travel Guide for more information on famous tourist spots in Mumbai.

Best Travel Destinations in Rajasthan

Rajasthan – the land of Maharaja’s, takes the crown from other Indian states when it comes to flashing exotic colors, articulate architectural patterns, and traditions that celebrate life. The sandstone structures, colorful cities, and vibrant desert towns transport you to one of the fables from the Arabian Nights. Rajasthan is rich in cultural heritage and it has something to amuse everyone: Yes, Rajasthan is a place where you will find elephants and snake charmers!

1. Udaipur:

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Udaipur city is known for its old mansions, palaces, and crystal clear lakes. The architectural designs are an amalgamation of Rajput military architecture and Mughal style designs. The most famous landmark representing this amalgamation is the City Palace, which is located along the shores of lake Pichola. Many of the palaces have been converted into luxury hotels. It is often called the “Venice of the East”, and is also nicknamed the “Lake City” or “City of Lakes”. Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar Lake, Udai Sagar and Swaroop Sagar in this city are considered the most beautiful lakes in the country.

2. Pushkar:

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Pushkar has earned the title of the Land of Fairs and Festivals. The Pushkar Fair is famous for its religious and cattle fair. The fair is held on the 11th day of bright half of the moon, which falls in the month of October/November. The Pushkar Fair begins with paying obeisance to Lord Brahma. Pushkar has India’s only temple dedicated to Brahma. After visiting Brahma temple, don’t forget to visit Savitri temple – Lord Brahma’s wife!

3. Jodhpur:

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Jodhpur or Blue City is the second largest city in Rajasthan. The city is commanded by the Mehrangarh fort, which is one of the largest forts in India. No wonder this fort features in every Rajasthan tour package. Visit this place in October to experience the Rajasthan International Folk Festival. Apart from these, Jodhpur has classic palaces and a museum showcasing its excellent heritage and art.

4. Bundi:

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This town in often overlooked by enthusiastic travelers. Bundi, like Jodhpur, features blue houses. The town of Bundi is dominated by the imposing Bundi palace. The Bundi palace is known for its beautiful paintings inside the palace, which is affectionately known as phool mahal.

5. Chittorgarh:

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Chittorgarh is known for its Vijay Stambh or Victory Tower. The tower was constructed by Rana Kumbh to commemorate his victory over Mahmud Khilji. Apart from Vijay Stambh, there are plenty of tourist attractions such as Sammidheshwara Temple, Gaumukh reservoir, the Palace of Queen Padmini, Kumbha Shyam Temple, and the 8th-century Kalika Mata Temple.

Please visit our official Travel Guide for more information on famous tourist spots in Rajasthan.

Must-see Places in Hyderabad

1. Golconda Fort:

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Golconda Fort, one of the most magnificent fortress complexes in India, is located at Ibrahim Bagh, Hyderabad, Telangana. The history of the Golkonda Fort dates back to the early 13th century, when this south eastern part of the country was ruled by the Kakatiyas. It is built on a granite hill 120 metres high, surrounded by massive crenellated ramparts. The bulk of the ruins of this fort, date from the time of the Qutub Shahi kings, who had ruled this part of the land in the 16th and 17th century.

Golkonda consists of four distinct forts with a 10km long outer wall having 87 semi-circular bastions; some still mounted with cannons, eight gateways, four drawbridges and number of royal apartments & halls, temples, mosques, magazines, stables etc, inside. The lowest of these is the outermost enclosure into which we enter by the ‘Fateh Darwaza’ (Victory gate, so called after Aurangzeb’s triumphant army marched in through this gate) studded with giant iron spikes ( to prevent elephants from battering them down) near the south-eastern corner. At Fateh Darwaza can be experienced the fantastic acoustical effects, characteristic of the engineering marvels at Golkonda. A hand clap at a certain point below the dome at the entrance reverberates and can be heard clearly at the ‘Bala Hisar’ pavilion, the highest point almost a kilometre away. This acted as the warning note to residents in case of danger though now it is a mere amusing diversion to visitors.

There is also supposed to be secret underground tunnel leading from the ‘Durbar Hall’ to one of the palaces at the foot of the hill. The tombs of the Qutub Shahi kings, built with Islamic architecture lie about 1 km north of the outer wall of Golkonda. These graceful structures are surrounded by landscaped gardens and beautifully carved stonework. The fortress city within the walls was famous for its diamond trade and many famed diamonds including the Koh-i-noor, Hope, Regent and Beu Sancy diamonds have come from here.

Please visit our official Travel Guide for more information on famous tourist spots in Hyderabad.

Must-see Places in Pondicherry

1. Ousteri Lake:

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Ousteri is a large water-body in Ossudu village, north of Kaveri River, around 10 kms from Pondicherry town. The tank was constructed during the Vijayanagara dynasty around 500 years ago. It is connected through the Suthukanni channel to Gingee and Varaha Rivers. Ousteri Lake has been recognized as one of the important wetlands of Asia by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). In 1995, the lake recorded some 20,000 birds and in 1998 it went up to 25,000 birds of 44 species. If you love watching rare and colourful birds in their natural habitat, this is a place not to be missed.

2. Mahatma Gandhi Statue:

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Gandhi Statue is a four-meter statue of Mahatma Gandhi surrounded by eight carved monolithic pillars. The statue, standing on the beach front of Pondicherry was built by the famous sculptor Roy Choudhary from Madras School of Art and Crafts. Statue of Dupleix, which is 2.88 meter tall, stands at the southern end of the park. Almost every city with a beach in India has a Gandhi statue, but this is the biggest of all. You can visit in the evening to enjoy the cool breeze and the yummy street foods of India like Chaat, Sev Poori, Masala Corns, Bhajia, Gol Guppa, Pani Puri or Puchka, which is a favorite of all women in India.

3. Auroville:

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Auroville is an experimental township located 8 km north-west of Pondicherry in East Coast Road. Founded in 1968 by Mirra Richard, Auroville was designed by the French architect Roger Anger. It is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The inauguration ceremony of Auroville was held on 28 February 1968 when soil from 124 countries was placed in a lotus-shaped urn and mixed to symbolize universal oneness. The Matrimandir in the middle of the town has been acclaimed as an outstanding and original architectural achievement.

Please visit our official Travel Guide for more information on famous tourist spots in Pondicherry.