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India has several beautiful and splendid monuments in the world. These monuments range through a span of centuries and the major philosophies of the world.
Lotus Temple, Delhi
1Located in Kalkaji in the south of Delhi, it is lotus shaped and has rightly been given the name. It is made of marble, cement, dolomite and sand. It is open to all faiths and is an ideal place for meditation and obtaining peace and tranquility.
It is a very recent architectural wonder of the Bahai faith. The Bahá'í Faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. Its founder, Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892), is regarded by Bahá'ís as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad.
The central theme of Bahá'u'lláh's message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. God, Bahá'u'lláh said, has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down conventional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation and that will, in time, give birth to a collective civilization. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of unification.
Qutab Minar, Delhi
1In 1199, Qutub-ud-Din raised the Qutub Minar either as a victory tower or as a minaret to the adjacent mosque. From a base of 14.32m it tapers to 2.75m at a height of 72.5m and a valid reason why it took two decades to complete this monument.
Its a red sandstone tower covered with beautiful and striking carvings and is inscribed with verses from the holy Quran. Qutub Minar is still the highest stone tower in India as well as one of the finest Islamic structures ever raised and Delhi's recognised landmark. The sultan's successor and son-in-law, Iltutmish, completed it.
In 1303, Ala-ud-Din established the second city of Delhi, called Siri, of which nothing remains but the embattlements. He also had dug a vast reservoir, Hauz Khas, to supply water to his city. Contemporary historians describe the Delhi of that time as being the "envy of Baghdad, the rival of Cairo and equal to Constantinople".
For the sake of convenience, tourists visiting the Qutub Complex could also see the Tomb of Adham Khan and Zafar Mahal in Mehrauli and the Tomb of Jamali-Kamali behind the Qutub Minar. These however, belong to a later date.
India Gate, Delhi
1At the center of New Delhi stands the 42m high India Gate, an "Arc-de-Triomphe" like Archway in the middle of a crossroad. Almost similar to its French counterpart war memorial. It commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during the First World War and bears the names of more than 13,516 British and Indian soldiers killed in the Northwestern Frontier in the Afghan war of 1919.
The foundation stone was laid by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught in 1921 and was designed by Edwin Lutyens. The monument was dedicated to the nation 10 years later by the then Viceroy, Lord Irwin. Another memorial, Amar Jawan Jyoti was added much later, after India got its independence. It is in the form of a flame that burns day and night under the arch to remind the nation of soldiers who laid down their lives in the Indo-Pakistan War of December 1971.
The entire arch stands on a low base of red Bharatpur stone and rises in stages to a huge molding, beneath, which are inscribed Imperial sons. Above on both sides is inscribed INDIA, flanked by MCM and to the right, XIX. The shallow domed bowl at the top was intended to be filled with burning oil on anniversaries but this is rarely done.
Surrounding the imposing structure is a large expanse of lush green lawns, which is a popular picnic spot. One can see hoards of people moving about the brightly lit area and on the lawns on summer evenings.
Jantar Mantar, Delhi
1A unique structure raised in 1724, now lies in the heart of Delhi's commercial centre near Connaught place. This is the Jantar Mantar, one of several astronomical observatories raised by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur.
The various abstract structures within the Jantar Mantar are, in fact, instruments that were used for keeping track of celestial bodies. Yet, Jantar Mantar is not only a timekeeper of celestial bodies, it also tells a lot about the technological achievements under the Rajput kings and their attempt to resolve the mysteries regarding astronomy.
The Jantar Mantar of Delhi is only one of the five observatories built by Sawai Jai Singh II, the other four being located at Jaipur, Varanasi, Ujjain and Mathura. All of these were built as far back as AD 1724-1730 during the period generally known as the dark age of Indian history, when the last great Mughal emperor Aurangzeb had died and the Mughal Empire was rapidly declining.
During this period of turmoil, Muhammad Shah ascended the throne of the Mughal Empire. As many enemies surrounded him, he sought the alliance of the Hindu rulers. Of these, the most notable was Sawai Jai Singh II of Amber, who came into limelight since the days of Aurangzeb. When Jai Singh ascended the throne of Amber in 1699, he was barely eleven, but sharp and shrewd far beyond his years.
The then Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was so impressed with the young ruler that he gave Jai Singh II the title of 'Sawai', meaning one and a quarter of an average man in worth. As Jai Singh repeatedly proved himself a worthy ally of the Mughals, Muhammad Shah, who was seeking a dependable ally, zeroed in on Jai Singh and duly raised him to the rank of governor of Agra and later, of Malwa.
City Palace, Jaipur
1 The City Palace is an imposing blend of traditional Rajasthani and Mughal art and architecture. The City Palace complex houses several palatial structures. In the heart of the old Jaipur city, the City Palace occupies a large area divided into a series of courtyards, gardens and buildings.
Jai Singh built the outer wall but other additions were made much later, some right up to the start of this century. The former Maharaja still lives in part of the palace. The City Palace sprawls over one-seventh of the area of the walled city. It houses the Chandra Mahal, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum.
The first building in it, is Mubarak Mahal, built by Maharaja Madho Singh. It has a beautifully carved marble gate with heavy brass doors on either side of this gate. Beyond this gate, lies the 'Diwan-E-Khas' or the 'Hall Of Private Audience' with a marble paved gallery. Across a paved square lies the 'Diwan-E-Am' or the 'Hall Of Public Audience', with its intricate decorations and manuscripts in Persian and Sanskrit. There is also a clock tower and the newer Mubarak Mahal.
To the north-west is the stately and graceful seven-storeyed Chandra Mahal, the residence of ex-ruler. The seven-story Chandra Mahal is the centrepiece and commands fine views of the gardens and the Jaipur city. The complex contains an excellent museum, an armoury and several fine halls. The apartments are maintained in luxurious order and the museum of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II has an extensive collection of art, carpets, enamelware and old weapons.
The paintings include miniatures in Rajasthani, Mughal and Persian schools. The armoury dating back to the 15th century and many of the ingenious and tricky weapons, which the warrior Rajputs were famous for. A section of museum also contains dresses and costumes of the former Maharajas and Maharanis of Jaipur. Each storey has a distinctive name and is a place of sheer beauty and luxury. Paintings, floral decorations, mirror walls and ceilings in the traditional style adorn the palace. The uppermost storey is called the Mukut Mahal.
Opposite the Chandra Mahal lies the Badal Mahal. The Govind Devji Temple stands in the middle of the Chandra Mahal and the Badal Mahal. A delightful system of mountains is placed in the middle of the paved path between the Chandra Mahal and the Badal Mahal. The palace has extensive and sprawling gardens.
Outside the buildings, you may see a large silver vessel which a former Maharaja used to take drinking water with him to England. Being a devout Hindu, he could not drink the English water!
Lake Palace, Udaipur
1 The shimmering Lake Pichola surrounds the Lake Palace with a unique mystique, all its own. The Lily pond seems to carry that very mystique inside, in the centre of the palace. Here, dining is a pleasure during the day. And magic at night. The effect is that of time coming to a standstill. Nothing intrudes your privacy, peace and tranquility. Leaving you to wonder if paradise can be this serene.
The Lake Palace Hotel is in fact a white marble palace that seems to float miraculously on the still waters of Lake Pichola. Probably the most romantic hotel in the world, this 250-year old palace offers guests a unique blend of serenity and opulence. Founded in 1568 by Maharana Udai Singh, the Lake city of Udaipur is often referred as the 'Venice of the East'. Studded with extravagant palaces, hilltop fortresses, awe-inspiring temples and romantic gardens filled with blossoming trees, this 'City of Dreams' is, not surprisingly, a favourite with travellers, both Indian and Foreign. A fantasy island palace shimmering on mirror-calm Lake Pichola, the Lake Palace is one of the most romantic hotels in the world.
Fatehpur Sikri
1 37 kms from Agra is built a city predominantly in Red Sandstone and is called Fatehpur Sikri. This town was built by the Mughal Emperor, Akbar. He had planned this city as his capital but shortage of water compelled him to abandon the city. After this within 20 years, the capital of Mughals was shifted to Lahore.
Fatehpur Sikri was built during 1571 and 1585. Today this ghost city has a population of about 30,000. This deserted city has retained many of the old structures, because of the efforts of the Archaeological department.
Fatehpur Sikri is one of the finest examples of Mughal architectural splendour at its height. Though the city is in ruins, it is a place to visit if one comes to Agra.But in real terms Fatehpur Sikri is a place where one should spend some time. The sunset over the ruins is sight to cherish.
Fatehpur Sikri is the best example of the culmination of Hindu and Muslim architecture. Fatehpur Sikri Mosque is said to be a copy of the mosque in Mecca and has designs, derived from the Persian & Hindu architecture.
Taj Mahal, Agra
1 Synonymous with India, the Taj Mahal is undoubtedly the epitome of India tourism. India travel is incomplete without experiencing the Taj Mahal. This supreme temple of love, standing gracefully by the sacred Yamuna at Agra, is set amongst the serene ambience of a well laid out garden. The massive white marble structure was built in the 17th century by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan was so disheartened by her death that the royal court went in mourning for two years and there was no music, no dancing, no celebrations and no feasting for two years. After such a long period when he recovered his consciousness Shah Jahan decided immortalize their love in the form of the Taj Mahal. He had selected the place for the Mahal Taj in Agra so that he could see it from his personal palace at Agra Fort.
Designed by the local Muslim architect Ustad Ahmad Lahori, the Taj Mahal is a reflection of the gardens of Paradise to which the faithful ascend. The entire complex, with gardens, gateway structures, and mosque, was completed in 1643. The mausoleum stands at one end of the garden adorned with fountains and marble pavements. The garden contains four water channels to echo the four rivers of the Islamic Paradise.
It is more than 350 years since Taj Mahal was built in Agra, but it has not lost its romantic aura, which attracts millions of visitors to India to experience it. It is because of this everlasting charm that the Taj Mahal in Agra can boast of being one of the most popular world heritage monuments on earth. said to be a copy of the mosque in Mecca and has designs, derived from the Persian & Hindu architecture.
Gateway of India, Mumbai

Mumbai's principal landmark, the Gateway of India is a huge archway on the water's edge at Apollo Bunder. It is the starting point for most tourists who want to explore the city. This famous monument was built to commemorate the visit of the first ever British Monarch, King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.
The Gateway was built by the British and designed by the architect George Wittet. The first stone was laid by the then Governor of Bombay on March 31st, 1913. The Gate was formally opened in 1924.
It is 26m high structures, complete with four turrets and intricate latticework carved into the yellow basalt stone. Ironically, when the British Raj ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway.
A Major Sightseeing Hangout
Behind the arch, there are steps leading down to the water. Here, one can get onto one of the bobbing little motor launches, for a short cruise through Mumbai's splendid natural harbour. One can buy tickets for a short cruise on the motor launches from here.
Near the Gateway of India is Taj Mahal Hotel, one of the most famous and luxurious hotels in India. Close by are the statues of the Maratha leader Shivaji astride his horse and of Swami Vivekananda, that add to the charm of this monument.

Mysore Palace, Karnataka

The Mysore Palace, built is Indo-Saracenic style with domes turrets, arches and colonnades, the palace is a treasure house of exquisite carvings and works of art from all over the world. The tastefully decorated and inticrately carved doors open into luxuriously decorated rooms.
The palace has now been converted into a museum, which treasures the souvenirs, paintings, jewellery, royal costumes and other items, which were once possessed by the Wodeyars. It is said that the palace displays the largest collection of gold items, quantity wise. The Durbar hall of the palace has an ornate ceiling and many sculpture pillars which are said to have been painted with gold.
The walls of the palace are painted with pictures of the Dassera processions and these paintings are painted in such a manner that from any angle you can see the procession coming towards you. The royal throne of the Wodeyars is displayed during the Dassera festival.
The palace was originally built of wood, which got burnt down in 1897 AD and was rebuilt in 1912 AD.
The Palace Lit-Up
This profusely decorated and gilded palace is illuminated every Sundays and on holidays.

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