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Things to Do in India - page 5

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Kanchipuram
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Nicknamed the “Golden City of 1,000 Temples,” Kanchipuram was the capital city of the Pallava Dynasty in Tamil Nadu and boasts numerous intricately carved shrines, most dedicated to Vishnu or Shiva. The city’s buildings also offer an excellent chance to admire examples of Dravidian architecture.

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Haji Ali Dargah
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Dating back to the 15th century, this white-marble mosque and shrine (dargah) is among Mumbai's most important sights for Muslim pilgrims. It was built to honor a Muslim saint, Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, who was known for spreading knowledge of Islam. Today worshipers and tourists come from across India to pray and learn about the mosque.

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Chowmahalla Palace
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Once the epicenter of Hyderabad, 18th-century Chowmahalla Palace was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and the site where the nizams (monarchs) lavishly entertained esteemed guests. It features a unique blend of various architectural styles and influences, including Mughal domes and Persian-influenced stucco work.

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Vidhana Soudha
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The Vidhana Soudha houses the legislature of the state of Karnataka and is the biggest legislative building in India. This imposing building is made of granite in a neo-Dravidian style with a few Indo-Saracenic architectural elements thrown in, such as its golden dome.

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Fatehpur Sikri
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Built by Emperor Akbar in the 1570s, the UNESCO-listed Fatehpur Sikri—which means “City of Victory”—was the capital of the Mughal Empire for about 10 years. Today, a well-preserved collection of monuments, palaces, temples, and mosques remains, in a uniform red sandstone architectural style.

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Babulnath Temple (Babulnath Mandir)
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Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the destroyer in the Hindu trinity, Babulnath Temple (Babulnath Mandir) is a beautiful, intricately carved building made of limestone and marble, situated atop a small hill. The current temple dates to 1890, but people have been worshiping at the site for much longer, and a previous temple was built there in the 18th century.

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Sri Chamarajendra Park (Cubbon Park)
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Sri Chamarajendra Park (Cubbon Park) is a 300-acre (121-hectare) oasis located in the heart of Bangalore just off the city’s main thoroughfare, MG Road. The park is a hive of activity in the early mornings when people come here for their morning walks and then again in the early evenings when the walkers descend again. With close to a hundred different species of plants and trees, this is also a favorite haunt for nature lovers and birdwatchers.

The park is painted a different color each season as the tall majestic trees flower and drop their petals to the ground, creating a beautiful carpet of flowers. In the spring, the Rain Trees are covered with delicate pink blossoms, while summer is when the Jacarandas release their bright purple blossoms, creating a brilliant tapestry on the ground. At the height of summer, it’s the Gulmohars’ turn as they bloom and turn the park’s avenues a bright red. Twice a year, the eccentric Cannonball tree flowers, releasing the blossoms’ intoxicating perfume. Those who want a quiet moment for contemplation head to the park’s atmospheric bamboo groves and lotus ponds.

Cubbon Park is also the home to several important government buildings including the Karnataka High Court, the Central Library and the Government Museum and Art Gallery.

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Bull Temple (Nandi Temple)
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The Bull Temple (Nandi Temple) was built in the 16th century in typical South Indian Dravidian style, and is one of Bangalore’s oldest temples. The locals call it “Dodda Basavana Gudi” (Big Bull Temple), named after the gigantic 15-foot high and 20-foot long statue of Nandi, Lord Shiva’s bull.

Visitors to the temple first pay their respects to Ganesh, the elephant-headed god at the base of the hill before climbing the many steps to worship the huge monolithic statue of Nandi at the top. Carved from a single enormous slab of granite, this is one of the largest statues of Nandi in the world.

One of the most important annual festivals celebrated at the Bull Temple is the “Peanut Festival” which happens every November. Peanut farmers from villages on the outskirts of the city come to the temple to offer their first crop of peanuts to Nandi the bull before selling the rest. The streets adjoining the temple are closed to traffic and take on a festive atmosphere: huge piles of peanuts are bought and sold and a variety of vendors sell trinkets, balloons and snacks to the crowds of people who come to take part.

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Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya
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Situated on a quiet, leafy street, the Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya occupies an old home where Gandhi would stay during his frequent trips to Mumbai from 1917 to 1934. Today it's one of many Gandhi museums spread across India that serve to educate the public about the mahatma and his mission.

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Fateh Sagar Lake
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This manmade lake in the city of Udaipur is a destination for both locals and travelers looking to escape the energy of busy city streets. Home to three small islands, including Nehru Park, the picturesque blue waters and majestic green mountains serve as a breathtaking backdrop to this quiet respite. Visitors can navigate the calm lake aboard tiny motorboats, which carry travelers to the each of the small islands. Nehru remains the most popular, thanks to a well-kept garden, boat-shaped restaurant and a slightly lackluster zoo. The Udaipur Solar Observatory, ranked top solar observing site in all of Asia, is located on one of the lake’s other islands and draws tourists eager to check out the sky, the sun and the stars.

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More Things to Do in India

Varanasi Ghats (Banaras Ghats)

Varanasi Ghats (Banaras Ghats)

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The ghats in Varanasi descend from the city down the banks and into the waters of the holy River Ganges. There are almost 100 individual ghats lining the river’s edge in this region, their steep steps making access to the river possible during both the wet and dry seasons. The oldest and most famous ghats in the area are Dashashwamedh, Manikarnika, and Harishchandra. Others include Assi Ghat, Scindia Ghat, Lalita Ghat, and Kedar Ghat.

As the religious capital of India among Hindus, Varanasi sees pilgrims and other visitors drawn to the Banaras Ghats in their droves. Visitors can absorb the atmosphere by taking a sunrise boat-ride along the river, while marveling at the colorful temples and religious activities lining the water’s edge.

Devout Hindus aim to travel to the Banaras Ghats at least once in their lifetimes, and most hope to die and be cremated within the city in order that their ashes be swept away by the Ganges. The cremation fires here burn all day every day, with the main cremation ghat being Manikarnika. Some ghats are simply used for prayers and bathing.

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Pushkar

Pushkar

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Not far from Jaipur, Pushkar is one Rajasthan’s most popular towns. This lakefront holy town is among the most picturesque in an already photo-worthy state, with a peaceful lake surrounded by 52 ghats and beautiful hills and temples in the distance.

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San Thome Cathedral

San Thome Cathedral

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The 16th-century Sao Thome Cathedral, built by the Portuguese and later rebuilt by the British, is said to house the bodily remains of St. Thomas, who came to India in 52 AD, in a tomb below the white neo-Gothic structure. Interior highlights include a series of stained glass windows inside the basilica depicting scenes from St. Thomas’s life as well as carved wooden panels of the Stations of the Cross.

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Mumbadevi Temple

Mumbadevi Temple

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Dating back to the 17th century, Mumbadevi Temple is one of the oldest temples in the city. The Hindu goddess Mumbadevi was the patron of the Koli people, Mumbai's original inhabitants, who relied primarily on fishing for their livelihood. Today the temple attracts pilgrims and tourists alike.

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Chittaurgarh Fort

Chittaurgarh Fort

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One of the largest forts in India, Chittaurgarh Fort—sometimes spelled Chittorgarh—is said to date back to the 7th century. The hilltop complex, which reigns supreme over the desert city of Chittor, comprises a series of temples, towers, and palaces, many of which are adorned with intricate carvings.

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Chand Baori

Chand Baori

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Chand Baori, one of the deepest and largest step wells in the world, is also one of India’s most overlooked and incredible sights. An Escher-like maze of 3,500 symmetrical stone steps descent 100 feet (30 meters) into the ground, culminating in a well where locals once came to draw water. The well is so deep, the temperature at the bottom is often several degrees cooler than on the surface.

The well, along with nearby Harshat Mata Temple, were built between 800 and 900 AD by King Chand Raja, and was believed to be dedicated to Hashat Mata, the Hindu goddess of joy and happiness. Stone sculptures carved into the walls of the well depict scenes from Hindu mythology. A popular filming location, the well featured in scenes from The Dark Knight Rises, The Fall and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

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Eklingji Temple (Shri Eklingji Mandir)

Eklingji Temple (Shri Eklingji Mandir)

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One of the most important Shaivite sites in Rajasthan, this temple attracts devotees from across the state who come to pay their respects to the gargantuan four-faced idol of the god housed within its interiors. It’s also a popular side-trip from Udaipur, particularly suited to those interested in local spiritual customs.

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Ramoji Film City

Ramoji Film City

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Launched in 1996, the 1,666-acre (674-hectare) Ramoji Film City is the world's largest film complex. Tour studio lots, sets, and gardens to see where Bollywood and film celebs have shot scenes. Try activities at the skating rink, children’s play area, bird park, and family-friendly amusement park, Fundustan.

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Ajanta and Ellora Caves

Ajanta and Ellora Caves

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The Ajanta and Ellora Caves, both UNESCO World Heritage sites, are among the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world. At Ajanta, there are 29 Buddhist cave temples dating from 2nd century BC. Meanwhile, the 34 Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist caves at Ellora date from the 6th century AD.

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Mount Mary Church

Mount Mary Church

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Sitting on a hill overlooking the Arabian Sea, Mount Mary Church is one of the most important churches in the city. It attracts people of all faiths, particularly during the annual Bandra Fair, which is held every September. The church is a great place to escape the hectic city and take a little time for peace and quiet reflection.

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Salar Jung Museum

Salar Jung Museum

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The halls of this regal-looking museum are filled with art from not only from India, but from the eastern and western worlds. Travelers who venture to the entry of this imposing white structure will find works dating as far back at the 2nd century and as recent as the 20th century. And while the museum showcases the best of local art and culture, visitors will also find plenty of nods to Greek, Roman, and other European influences.

The stone sculptures, bronze statues, jade carvings, handmade tapestries and colorful Buddhist paintings are just part of what makes the Salar Juang Museum one of Hyderabad’s most popular attractions. An optional audio guided tour unlocks more of the history of the stunning works inside the museum’s halls and travelers say even a couple of hours isn’t enough to take in all of Salar Jung’s collection.

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Crawford Market (Matahma Jyotiba Phule Market)

Crawford Market (Matahma Jyotiba Phule Market)

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Also known as Mahatma Jyobita Phule Market, Crawford Market, the largest market in Mumbai, is an incredible place to shop for food and household goods, take photos, or simply wander around people watching. It's also not a bad place to try local snacks, as there are myriad street-food stalls serving up all sorts of treats.

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Jagannath Temple Puri

Jagannath Temple Puri

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Located in Puri on the eastern coast of India, Jagannath Temple Puri has a history dating back to the eleventh century, when it was built under the direction of King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva. The temple is part of the Char Dham, a series of our pilgrimage sites every Hindu is supposed to visit during their lifetime.

Worshippers come to the inner sanctum of the temple to honor the god Jagannath, an avatar of Vishnu, as well as Subhadra (the younger sister of Krishna in the epic Mahabharata) and Balarama (the older brother of Krishna and an avatar of Shesha). During Rath Yatra, the temple’s most important festival, the trinity of deities are paraded to nearby Gundicha Temple, where they remain for nine days before the parade back to Jagannath Temple.

Typical of Orissan temples of the time, Jagannath Temple features a series of ornate, pyramid-like towers called shikharas. The tallest tower, which rises above the inner sanctum, measures 214 feet (65 meters).

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Vintage and Classic Car Collection Museum

Vintage and Classic Car Collection Museum

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SItuated on the grounds of Udaipur's Garden Hotel and Restaurant, the Vintage and Classic Car Collection Museum features a small group of vehicles from Mercedes, Rolls Royce, and Cadillac, along with a few other related objects, from rickshaws to an antique Shell gas pump that's still in working condition.

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