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Things to Do in India - page 2

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Victoria Memorial Hall
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The Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata is a symbol of both the city and of the entire British Raj. A tribute to Queen Victoria by the viceroy of India, the giant, white-marble building was erected over a 15-year period, starting in 1906. Today it houses a museum covering the history of the Raj and is surrounded by English-style gardens.

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Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica
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Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica is notable for its Gothic architecture, with a whitewashed façade and beautiful interiors, with intricate pastel frescoes and paintings, and large stained glass windows. While it’s a popular attraction, it’s also a working church and the Sunday mass services here provide a great insight into local Catholic culture.

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Mecca Masjid (Makkah Masjid)
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Dating back to the 17th century, the landmark Mecca Masjid (also spelled Makkah Masjid) is one of the oldest mosques in Hyderabad, not to mention one of the largest mosques in the world. It’s made of granite and features exquisite interiors, including a large prayer hall that can accommodate more than 10,000 people.

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Amber Fort (Amer Fort)
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High on a hilltop, towering majestically over the village of Amber on the outskirts of Jaipur, this 16th-century fort palace is worth visiting for its grand architecture that blends Muslim Mughal and Indian Hindu (Rajput) elements. Here, you’ll find labyrinthine passageways, elegant royal halls, and fabulous views of desert landscape.

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Adalaj Stepwell (Adalaj ni Vav)
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This striking Hindu water building located in the quiet village of Adjalaj was constructed in 1499 and stretches five stories deep. Built by a Muslim king for Queen Rani Roopba, this top religious attraction was once the site of holy rituals and brightly colored festivals, and served as not only relief from droughts, but a destination for saints and holy pilgrims.

Travelers who visit the Adalaj Stepwell (Adalaj ni Vav) will get not only an up-close look at Gujarat culture and tradition, but also a taste of iconic Indo-Islamic architecture, complete with ornate carvings, detailed decorations and nods to religious gods and deities.

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Umaid Bhawan Palace Museum
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Built between 1928 and 1943, the sprawling grandeur of Umaid Bhawan Palace can be seen for miles around. It’s the world's largest private residence. Part of the palace is a luxury hotel, part of it royal quarters, and some of it is dedicated to the Umaid Bhawan Palace Museum.

The museum charts the history and heritage of Umaid Bhawan. It tells the story of how Maharaja Umaid Singh appointed a well-known Edwardian architect to design the palace in an art-deco style. It also displays an archive of pictures taken of the palace over the years, as well as a unique antique clock collection.

The museum also houses a whole range of historical artifacts that belonged to the royal family, including everything from trophies to weaponry, along with an impressive vintage car collection. There is a small gift shop located just outside for those looking to take souvenirs home.

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Jallianwala Bagh
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Jallianwala Bagh is a public garden in the northern city of Amritsar in India’s Punjab province. It serves to commemorate the massacre of hundreds of innocent civilians celebrating the religious festival, Baisakhi on April 13, 1919. Under orders from Commander General Dyer, British soldiers opened fire at a group of unarmed men, women, and children without warning. Official sources estimated the fatalities at 379, with 1,100 wounded. However, both the casualties and fatalities of that day are believed to be significantly higher than that which was officially reported.

The garden span 26 square­ meters with the memorial monument, the Flame of Liberty, at its center. Inaugurated by Dr Rajendra Prasad in 1961, the first President of the Republic of India, the monument is a towering pylon made of red stone and featuring the the Indian national emblem upon it. Stone lanterns stand at each corner of the monument, which are inscribed with words of homage in Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, and English to commemorate the victims of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Dignitaries, locals, and tourists from around the world have visited Jallianwala Bagh, including Queen Elizabeth II in 1997.

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Ranthambore National Park
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One of the biggest national parks in North India, Ranthambore National Park is particularly popular with travelers hoping to spot an elusive tiger in the wild. Although tigers are the main draw here, the reserve is home to other critters—including sambar deer, wild boars, sloth bears, striped hyenas, and hundreds of bird species—and a 10th-century fort.

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Manikarnika Ghat
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Manikarnika Ghat is one of the oldest and most sacred ghats in Varanasi. It is the main cremation ghat in the area, with the bodies of devout Hindus being burned here before their ashes are carried away by the holy waters of the Ganges.

Hindu mythology links this ghat with Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. It’s said that those cremated here will attain moksha (salvation). Bodies are brought to Manikarnika Ghat via a stretcher made from bamboo and covered in red cloth, before being consigned to flames amid prayers that their souls rest in peace for eternity.

There is a sacred well at the ghat called the Manikarnika Kund, which is said to have been dug by Lord Vishnu at the time of creation. Lord Vishnu was said to have meditated for many years at the ghat, and it’s believed that his charana paduka (footprints) can be seen here in a circular marble slab. Manikarnika Ghat is also famous for the temple of the Lord Shiva and Mata Durga, which was built here in the mid-1800s.

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Dashashwamedh Ghat
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Dashashwamedh Ghat is one of the busiest, oldest, and most important ghats in Varanasi. It's the site of a number of Hindu temples and shrines and a place where pilgrims come from all over the world to perform religious ceremonies and rituals. Many devotees visit the ghat at sunrise to pay homage to Lord Shiva and bath in the holy waters of the Ganges, while evening aarti, which see thousands of floating lamps immersed in the river, attracts huge crowds from far and wide.

Literally translated, Dashashwamedh means ‘the ghat of 10 sacrificed horses.’ According to Hindu mythology, ten horses were sacrificed by Lord Brahma to allow Shiva to return from a period of banishment. Despite its age, Dashashwamedh Ghat is attractive, colorful, and relatively clean, and even non-devotees are attracted by its atmosphere, daily rituals, and beautiful riverfront views.

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More Things to Do in India

New Delhi Parliament House (Sansad Bhavan)

New Delhi Parliament House (Sansad Bhavan)

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Designed by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, the Parliament House (Sansad Bhavan) is a striking sandstone building and home to both houses of the Parliament of India. This round building was inspired by the Great Stupa of Sanchi and the Ashoka Chakra—the same circular symbol found in the center of the Indian flag.

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Hidimba Devi Temple (Dhungari Temple)

Hidimba Devi Temple (Dhungari Temple)

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Hidimba Devi Temple (Dhungari Temple) is located within dense cedar forest in the small tourist town of Manali. It was built in 1553 by Raja Bahadur Singh and is dedicated to the goddess Hadimba Devi, who features in the Mahabharata. A heritage site steeped in mythology, visitors come from far and wide to visit the site.

This ancient cave temple was built over a large rock jutting out of the ground, which was where Hidimba was said to meditate. Built in a pagoda style, the structure is made of wood, with a three-tiered roof crowned by a cone-shaped brass tower known as a shikhara. The temple door features intricately carved figures, including the goddess Durga, whom Hidimba was believed to be an incarnation of.

Inside the temple is a stone idol of Hidimba Devi measuring approximately 60 centimeters tall, and not far from the main building is a shrine dedicated to Hadimba’s son, Ghatotkacha.

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Dutch Cemetery

Dutch Cemetery

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Believed to be the oldest burial ground in the country, the Dutch Cemetery in Kochi dates back to the beginning of the 18th century. It houses the tombs of Dutch soldiers and traders who left their homeland in order to expand their country’s colonial empire—and as a result changed the entire course of history in India.

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Ganges River (Ganga)

Ganges River (Ganga)

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India’s holiest river, the Ganges (Ganga) runs east for 1,560 miles (2,510 kilometers) from the western Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. A lifeline for north India’s plains and towns, the river is also a place of Hindu pilgrimage at cities such as Rishikesh and Varanasi—drawing visitors with humbling scenes of religious devotion.

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India Gate

India Gate

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India Gate is a 138-foot (42-meter) war memorial in the heart of New Delhi, reminiscent of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. Built in 1931 and designed by British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, designer of most of New Delhi, it’s a must-visit photo stop on a Delhi tour.

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Indo-Portuguese Museum

Indo-Portuguese Museum

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The Indo-Portuguese Museum was set up by the late bishop of Kochi to preserve and showcase the significant influence of the Portuguese Catholic community in Fort Kochi and its surroundings. A popular attraction, it depicts the art, architecture, and culture of this community and gives visitors a glimpse of the original fort’s foundations.

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Marine Drive

Marine Drive

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Stretching along the Arabian Sea in the southern part of Mumbai, Marine Drive is a two-mile-long promenade and road with lovely sea views. The buildings flanking this stretch are also worth checking out; the only place on earth with more beach-facing art deco buildings than Marine Drive is Miami.

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Fontainhas

Fontainhas

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Situated on the banks of Ourem Creek in Panaji, Goa's capital city, the charming neighborhood of Fountainhas is dotted with charming old homes dating back to the mid 19th century. Fontainhas occupies land that was reclaimed in the 18th century and gets its name from the natural springs situated at the edge of the area.

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Dudhsagar Falls

Dudhsagar Falls

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At 1,017 feet (310 meters), Dudhsagar Falls is among the tallest waterfalls in India. At the base of the four-tiered falls is a huge swimming area—that’s as as far as most travelers go. A railway bridge crosses right under the falls, and if you happen to visit when a train is passing by you're sure to get some great photos.

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Bangalore Palace

Bangalore Palace

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Among the most stunning landmarks in the city, Bangalore Palace is one of many homes of the Wadiyar family, who ruled much of South India for centuries. Portions of this palace have been open to the public since 2005, though one of the Wadiyars still lives in a private wing of the gargantuan structure to this day.

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Sabarmati Ashram

Sabarmati Ashram

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Those with an interest in Mahatma Gandhi won't want to miss a stop at his former ashram-turned-museum, where the Father of Modern India lived with his family for many years. The ashram is full of paintings, photos, and documents related to the Mahatma and houses a large library for those interested in deepening their research.

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Laad Bazaar (Choodi Bazaar)

Laad Bazaar (Choodi Bazaar)

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One of the oldest markets in Hyderabad, Laad Bazaar (also called Choodi Bazaar) has long been known for its bangles. Long before the city became a hive of business activity, the bangle industry emerged here, and it still thrives today: Locals and tourists come from far and wide to browse the market’s colorful creations.

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Fort St. George

Fort St. George

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The British East India Company constructed Fort St. George (their first fortress in India) in 1640. The 20-foot (6-meter) thick outer walls surround a complex of white colonial structures, known historically as ‘White City,’ including St Mary’s, the oldest Anglican church in Asia.

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Basilica of Bom Jesus (Borea Jezuchi Bajilika)

Basilica of Bom Jesus (Borea Jezuchi Bajilika)

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Built at the turn of the 17th century by Florentine sculptor Giovanni Battista Foggini, this red-stone church is one of the oldest in India. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While it's dedicated to the baby Jesus, many people choose to visit because the basilica holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa.

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