A less explored and undiscovered treasure perched in the Eastern Ghats in the Shevaroy Hills, Yercaud is a rejuvenating hill-station in the Salem district of Tamil Nadu. It is situated around the Emerald Lake, which is also known as the Yercaud Lake. The emerald green hue of the beautiful natural lake is also where the hill-station gets its meaning from. In the local language, the word, Yercaud translates to ‘The Lake Forest’, which it, indeed, is. This Tamil Nadu weekend destination is all that an ideal getaway is about – green landscapes, fog covered hill-tops, fresh breeze, and a soulful experience. Steeped in raw natural attractions and a rustic aesthetic, the destination is set at an altitude of 4970 ft above sea level. From flora and fauna to an air of freshness and purity, Yercaud is also called the Ooty of the Poor, given its low cost tourism. The hill-station is seemingly enveloped under picturesque skies above dense forests that grow coffee, spices and fruits, with oranges in abundance. It houses some famous parks and gardens proffering floral masterpieces, like Anna Park and Rose Garden to name a few. Yercaud, discovered in the 19th century by the Britishers, also boasts of some stunning vantage points that help tourists soak in the beauty of the town. Due to its unspoiled and pristine nature, Yercaud is a paradise for nature lovers, trekkers and adventurers, with various trek tours that take you to spots like Kiliyur Falls and Tipperary Point. It sees less crowd than most hill-stations, which is why it remains fairly raw and thereby, cost-effective. Moreover, Yercaud is a compact destination, easily explorable in a day or two. Beautified by fruit orchards and spice & coffee plantations, the hill also reaps in its merit from its flora and fauna that intrigues all kinds of vacationers. Epitomized as the Jewel of South India, the untouched charm of this lake hill-station and its quaintness, undoubtedly, makes it one of the topmost places to visit in Tamil Nadu.
Lepakshi is historical ancient village in Anantpur District of Andhra Pradesh located at just 15 kms from Hindupur, 120 kms from Anantpur and Bangalore and 225 kms from Tirupati. Lepakshi is one of the key spiritual, cultural and heritage site of Andhra Pradesh, thus well-known tourist place and especially for one day trip from Bangalore. Shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Veerbhadra, Papanatheswara, Raghunatha, Sri Ram and Durga are located in the same complex on a hillock – Kurma Saila – tortoise shaped hill in Lepakshi. Veerbhadra Temple is most important in all these shrines. Veerabhadra Temple also referred as Lepakshi Temple is solely dedicated to the deity of Lord Veerabhadra Swamy, a fearsome form of the Lord. The rich notable architecture of Veerbhadra temple is very famous across India. It was built during the Vijayanagar period in 1530 BC by Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna – who were brothers and governor in Vijayanagar Empire. According to Skanda Puranas, it is one of the important temple Divya Kshetras, an important pilgrimage site of Lord Shiva.
The famous fresco paintings are particularly detailed in very bright dresses and colours with scenes of Rama and Krishna from the epic stories of the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas. Large Nandi of 23ft in length and 20ft in height is carved from a single black stone, which is one of the largest monolithic Nandi in the world and major attraction near Lepakshi Temple at Basavanna Temple. The images on the pillars and walls of divine musicians, saints, dancers, Goddesses, 14 avatars of Shiva are the major attractive site for the tourist.
There are lots of tale associated with Lepakshi Temple wherein key legends are described here.
Lepakshi is the place where the bird Jatayu fell down after war against the Demon King Ravana who had abducted Ma Devi Sita. When Lord Sri Rama reached the spot during search of Goddess Sita, he saw Jatayu and said caringly, “Le Pakshi” – ‘rise, oh bird’ in Telugu, this is how this spot was popular as Lepakshi.
Another tale associated with Lord snake, the Naga of the Nagalinga was carved out of a single stone by sculptors while they were waited for their mother to prepare lunch.
The hanging pillar supported from the top is a surprise for the visitors where you can pass paper or thin cloth below which indicates the pillar is not supported by the ground.. It is also said that if anyone tried to move one pillar is then all other pillar will start move, what an engineering. To the south of the main shrine is a huge Nagalingam, standing on a granite block, shrouded by a seven-headed cobra, magnificently carved out of single rock which cannot be found anywhere in India. Right across the incomplete Kalyan Mandapa due to certain reason may be, one can witness a red mark in one of the walls which resembles an eye. Another attraction is huge footprint near Kalyana Mandapa and it is said that this is Goddess Sita’s footprint. Water from unknown source from underground constantly sipping and washing this foot in respect of Ma Devi Sita.
How to reach Lepakshi: It is very easily approachable through road via Hindupur. There is also availability of private – state buses and taxi – cab to reach the temple. APSRTC buses leave for Lepakshi every 30 minutes from Hindupur. The nearest railway Station is Hindupur railway Station at a distance of 12kms. The nearest Airport is Kempegowda International Airport at a distance of 68kms and Bangalore at around 100 kms.
PreviousVrindavan, Uttar PradeshVrindavan – Ancient City in MathuraVrindavan – Known as Best Sacred Places for VaishnavismBeautiful View of Kusum SarovarEntrance of ISCKON Temple in VrindavanIdol of Radha Krishna Inside ISCKON Temple, VrindavanPrem Mandir (Love Temple) is dedicated to divine love.Prem Mandir – Maintained by Jagadguru Kripalu ParishatBeautiful Sculpture of Krishna Dancing in Prem MandirAmazing Scultpure Lord Krishna and GopikasHoli is Celebrated Grandly at Vrindavan.
One of the oldest cities on the banks of Yamuna, Vrindavan is considered to be one of the most important places of pilgrimage for the devotees of Krishna. It is said that Lord Krishna had spent his childhood in Vrindavan. The name of the city has been derived from Vrinda (meaning basil) and van (meaning grove) which perhaps refer to the two small groves at Nidhivan and Seva Kunj. Since Vrindavan is considered to be a sacred place, a large number of people come here to abandon their worldly life.
The city of Vrindavan hosts hundreds of Lord Krishna and Radha temples scattered throughout, the most famous ones being Banke Bihari temple and the world-famous ISKCON temple. The vibrant surroundings perfectly depict the playful and benevolent nature of Lord Krishna. Located along the waters of River Yamuna, the numerous temples set amidst the thick woods and lush greenery of Vrindavan are the major attractions here.
Current Status: The fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site
Visit Timing: Sunrise to sunset
Entry: Entry to Agra Fort is allowed through the Amar Singh Gate only.
Agra Fort was built in the year 1573 under the reign of Akbar – one of the greatest Mughal Emperors. It took more than 4000 workers and eight years of hardship to complete the fort. Knowing the significance of its location, Akbar built the fort to make it the main residence of the Mughals. The fort remained as the main residence of the emperors belonging to the Mughal dynasty until the year 1638. The fort houses numerous impressive structures like the Jahangir Mahal, Khas Mahal, Diwan-i-Khass, Diwan-i-Am, Machchhi Bhawan and Moti Masjid. In 1638, the capital of the Mughal dynasty was moved from Agra to Delhi, causing the Agra Fort to lose its status as the main residence of the Mughal emperors. The fort is separated from its sister monument Taj Mahal by just 2.5 kilometers. Often described as the walled city, Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, the fort is a major tourist spot and attracts many tourists from all over the world.
History of the Fort
Agra Fort is known for its rich history. The fort has been owned by many emperors and rulers in the past, undergoing many changes in its appearance. It all began in the year 1526 when the first battle of Panipat was fought between Babur and Ibrahim Lodi of the Lodi dynasty. When Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi, he made the fort and the palace of Ibrahim Lodi as his home. He then modified the fort by building a huge step well (baoli) inside. The fort soon became an important monument to the Mughals. In fact, Babur’s successor, Humayun’s coronation took place at the fort in the year 1530.
Soon emperors from other dynasties started eyeing the fort and efforts to win over the same began. In 1540, Sher Shah Suri of the Sur Empire waged a war against Humayun and defeated him at Bilgram. Sher Shah Suri took over the ownership of the fort from Humayun and made minor changes to it, so as to suit his own architectural taste. The fort stayed with the emperors of the Sur dynasty for the next 15 years. In 1555, Humayun managed to recapture Agra and with it the fort as well. But a year later, Hemu Vikramaditya, the general and military commander of Adil Shah Suri (final emperor of the Sur dynasty) captured Agra. He pursued the fleeing army to Delhi and the Battle of Tughlaqabad ensued between him and Tardi Beg Khan, the military commander of the Mughals.
Tardi Beg Khan lost the battle convincingly and Hemu Vikramaditya crowned himself the king. However, on November 5 1556 and barely a month into the kingship of Hemu, Akbar, along with his army, marched into Delhi and defeated the forces of Hemu. The fort once again belonged to the Mughals, but was fast disintegrating. Back then, it was known as Badalgarh and was built with bricks alone. Realizing its historical and situational significance, Akbar decided to rebuild it with red sandstone.
During the reign of Shah Jahan, the fort was modified considerably and took the current form. Shah Jahan destroyed some of the edifices within the fort and rebuilt it as per his own architectural taste. During the early 17th century, the fort was captured by the Maratha Empire.During this period, the fort saw many owners including various Maratha emperors and their enemies which included a host of Mughal emperors. In 1761, the Marathas underwent a massive defeat at the hands of Ahmad Shah Durrani, founder of the Durrani Empire. The emperors of the Durrani dynasty made the fort their home until 1785. In 1785, the fort was regained by the Marathas under the reign of Mahadji Shinde. The Marathas then lost their battle against the British in the Second Anglo-Maratha War and with it the fort. The British then enjoyed the comfort of the fort until it was handed over to the government of India in 1947.
Layout of the Fort
The fort, when viewed from above, has a semicircular shape. The base of the fort faces the bank of the river Yamuna. The Agra Fort is enclosed by a double battlemented massive wall of red sandstone. This wall is about 2 kilometer in perimeter and is interrupted by graceful curves and lofty bastions. The walls of the fort are a massive seventy feet high. The fort stretches for almost 2.5 kilometers. It has four gates (one on each side). Out of the four gates, the Delhi gate and Lahore gate are the most prominent ones. The Lahore gate was later renamed as Amar Singh Gate. Akbar used the Delhi gate as his main entrance and the gate also served as a security against the invaders. There is also an inner gateway known as the Elephant Gate. The entrances were built in such a manner that the invaders found it difficult to enter the fort even with the help of war elephants. The Indian army still uses the Delhi gate for security purposes.
The fort has various palaces and halls. Among the palaces, the prominent ones are Macchi Bhavan, Khas Mahal and Shah Jahani Mahal. The Amar Singh gate leads to the courtyard. The magnificent Diwan-I-Am (Hall of Public Audience) is on the right hand side. A little further lay the royal pavilions, which houses the famous Nagina Masjid and Mina Masjid. The fort also has royal baths made out of marbles, which were used by the princesses. Also, places of worship and a private market place for the ladies were built within the fort. At the base of the fort, a secret passage was dug in an attempt to access it with ease, during times of emergency. Other attractions of the fort include a grape garden, a jasmine tower, a mirror palace (Shish Mahal), courtrooms and the ruins of Akbar’s once magnificent palace. It is said that the fort once housed five hundred beautiful looking buildings. Unfortunately, many of those buildings were destroyed at different time periods for various reasons.
Bricks formed the base of Agra Fort’s structure. Red sandstone was brought all the way from Rajasthan and that was laid on the external surfaces. Back then, the entire fort was built using the red sandstone. This appearance of the fort underwent a major change during the reign of Shah Jahan. Unlike his grandfather, Shah Jahan was smitten by the beauty of white marble. Hence, he destroyed many structures within the fort, only to rebuild them using white marble. Shah Jahan was made to spend his final days in the Musamman Burj of the Agra fort, which was built by him.The Musamman Burj is located on the left of the Khaas Mahal. It is a beautiful octagonal tower with an open pavilion. It is said that Shah Jahan used to view the Taj Mahal from this very place.
When the British took over the ownership of Agra Fort, much more changes were made to the fort. They destroyed many structures and edifices with historical significances, citing political reasons and for raising barracks. The structures that managed to survive showcase the real complexity and workmanship of Mughal architecture. Fine examples of the Mughal architecture within the fort are the Delhi Gate, Amar Singh Gate and the Bengali Mahal. These structures not only represent Mughal architecture, but are also fine examples of Akbari architecture which is also known as Indo-Islamic architecture. Among these structures the Delhi Gate is considered as the most prominent for its workmanship and architectural design. Even today, it is regarded as one of Akbar’s masterpiece. Speaking about masterpiece, there is an interesting legend associated with the architecture of the Agra Fort. It is said that the royal rooms of the fort were built in such a way that they would remain cool even during the summer. The legend has it that the walls were made hollow and then filled with water from the river, so that they would remain cool.
Important Structures Inside the Agra Fort
• Jahangir’s Hauz – This is a monolithic tank, and was built by Jahangir. The tank was initially used for bathing. It is now a part of Akbar’s Bengali Mahal.
• Shahjahani Mahal – The Shahjahani Mahal is probably one of the earliest attempts of Emperor Shah Jahan to turn a red sandstone palace into a palace of white marble.
• Babur’s Baoli (step well) – Babur built a stone step well which took care of the water needs in the ancient fort of Agra. This was probably one of the earliest modifications made to the fort.
• Nagina Masjid – Nagina Masjid is a mosque which was built by Shah Jahan. The mosque was built using white marble only and was considered a private place of worship.
• Diwan-I-Am (Hall of Public Audience) – This hall was built by Shah Jahan. Interestingly, the hall was first built using red sandstone but was later shell-plastered, giving it a look of white marble.
• Ghaznin Gate – The Ghaznin gate actually belongs to the tomb of Mahmud of Ghazni, one of the rulers of the Ghaznavid Empire. The gate was moved into the fort by the British for political reasons.
• Bengali Mahal –This palace was built by Akbar and was later modified by Shah Jahan. An interesting aspect of this palace is it is said to be housing secret buildings hidden underneath the palace.
• Akbar’s Mahal – The ruins of Akbar’s famous palace still remains in the fort. Akbar breathed his last in this very palace. The entire palace was built using red sandstone.
The Secret Within
Agra Fort has many secret subterranean apartments and edifices. It is said that the entire fort is interconnected through tunnels and other underground pathways. According to historians, the emperors who owned the fort during their respective reigns are said to have contributed to the secret tunnels for obvious reasons. One such known tunnel is located near the Water Gate, connecting the fort to the banks of river Yamuna.
The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The tomb is the centrepiece of a 17-hectare complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall. Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees. The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”. It is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India’s rich history.
It is a Buddhist temple, situated in Kamptee, Nagpur District of Maharashtra State, India. The Temple Dedicated to Lord Buddha. The temple with its fascinating architecture, pictorial landscape and a tranquil atmosphere attract a large number of tourists and devotees. The Dragon Palace Temple is about 18 km from Nagpur city, on the Nagpur – Jabalpur road.
The Temple considered as a landmark of Indo-Japan friendship. As Madam Noriko Ogawa from Ogawa Society Japan financially contributed to the construction of this beautiful piece of architecture. Dragon Palace Temple also Known as the ‘Lotus Temple of Nagpur’.
The architecture of Dragon Palace Temple. A unique temple for worship and meditation. It has emerged as one of the most popular attractions for the people coming to Nagpur. It spread over an area of approximately 10 acres. Also, It comprises a magnificent Buddhist prayer center, which offers peace and serenity to its visitors.
The colossal statue of Lord Buddha is the idol that has been carved out of a single block of sandalwood. Also, It surrounded by verdant green, skilfully landscaped gardens with colorful flowers that spread a pleasant fragrance in the environs.
The walls of the temple have painted in the bright white color that symbolizes peace, clarity, and divinity. Also, Dragon Palace Temple of Kamptee was felicitated with the International Award for the best concrete structure of the world.
A stone pillar stands in the city of Nagpur, known quite simply as the Zero Mile Stone. Set up during the days of the British Raj, some say it marked the then geographical centre of India. Various distances have been marked on the pillar. There are other such pillars in the country which are living relics of the Great Trigonometric Survey of India — a cartographic or mapping exercise that mapped the contours of India. A survey pillar stands in North Parganas, Bengal. Started in 1802 by the East India Company, it was completed nearly seventy years later in 1871! In the process, four surveyors, including George Everest started and completed their terms!
In 1802, William Lambton began surveying India under the auspices of the East India Company. He was a young British officer, serving in the British Army against Tipu Sultan. Already having shown his acumen at surveying land in the United States, his proposal to survey the Indian Peninsula was accepted by Arthur Wellesley. Using rudimentary instruments, in April 1802, the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India began near Chennai, then Madras.
Using a flat plain as a baseline and topographic features such as hills, the land was surveyed. The process consisted of carefully constructing accurately measured triangles, hence the name ‘Triangulation’. At the end of 1806, it was found that the width of the peninsula was forty miles lesser than the previously presumed measurements! In places such as Tanjore, the pinnacles of temples were used for triangulation.
In 1818, he was joined by a young assistant named George Everest. By this time, most of India had fallen to the British and the Peshwa had been pensioned off to Bithur (Kanpur). The Great Trigonometric Survey could now proceed north. A few years later, Lambton, rather fittingly, died at Hinganghat while travelling from Hyderabad to Nagpur to continue the survey. In twenty years of non-stop work, he had surveyed two lakh square miles of the subcontinent!
The work then passed on to George Everest, who surveyed up to Sironj in today’s Madhya Pradesh, till ill health required him to be recalled to England. Another officer — Joseph Olliver — in his absence surveyed the country from Sironj to Calcutta. Everest returned after spending five years in England, with improved instruments. He resumed work north of the river Chambal. While peninsular India had offered hills, mountains as also flag staffs and coastal features for the survey work, no such help was forthcoming in the flat plains of Terai. Frequent sandstorms added to the trouble. George Everest surmounted this difficulty by erecting observation towers of stone, each thirty feet high. Over the next few years, the survey progressed by the usual painstaking methods and star observations towards the Shivalik hills. Dehradun was also covered by 1841. Two years later, owing to ill health, George Everest retired, but not before he had completely changed the face of carrying out the survey. He brought new instruments and devised methods of calculation superior to his predecessors. He improved on Lambton’s slow method of triangulation and thus, covered a huge swathe of the country.
Just like Col Lambton’s assistant had succeeded him, Col Everest’s assistant, Col Waugh took over the operations. The next five years were spent in calculating the positions and heights of the humongous Himalayan peaks.
Seventy-nine Himalayan peaks were thus covered. Thirty of these peaks were renamed, including Peak No XV, which was renamed to Mt Everest. The survey progressed simultaneously under other officers — from Mumbai towards Mahabaleshwar and south towards Goa . While all this was happening, the East India Company had managed to annex Sindh and Punjab, and Col Waugh readily took up the new survey as a brilliant opportunity. Starting from the already surveyed portion of Dehradun, he proposed to do a continuous survey all across Punjab to Attock, and from Sironj to Karachi. Together, it came to over fifty thousand square miles. From 1856 onwards, under a surveyor named Montgomery, the survey moved north from Sialkot once again into the Himalayas, in what is now PoK. A number of peaks were surveyed, including a certain high peak called Godwin — Austen, named after another British surveyor who surveyed lakes and glaciers in Tibet. Its ‘temporary’ survey number has also endured — Mount K2! In five years, ninety thousand square miles were surveyed with observation stations being set up in the snow and at heights over six kilometres! While the Trigonometric Survey was mapping the broader contours of the country, a Topographical Survey was making more detailed drawings of the interiors. A parallel Revenue survey, even larger in scale was carried out to delineate village and land holding boundaries. Col Blacker succeeded Col Waugh, and in his tenure, the coastline from Calcutta to Madras was surveyed. It had taken over sixty years since Col Lambton began his survey from the same point!
In the centre of all these lines of triangulation mapping the four corners of the country, stands a stone pillar – the Zero Mile Stone!
“God’s own country”, Kerala is indeed one of the most significant destinations that make India Incredible. From mesmerising hill stations to scenic villages Kerala has something every nook and corner that which can be explored. If it is to Kerala that you are heading for your short break then, grab your stuff, race-up your bike and let’s explore Kerala! To help you make the most out of this ride we have compiled the top 5 places that should give you a brief yet, the best picture of the state.
Best known as the Niagara Falls of Kerala, Athirappally Waterfalls tops our list. Situated on the Chalakudy River this prominent tourist spot is at about 1000 feet above the sea level. With its milky waters that gush down 8 feet, several small streams and forests this is one of the spot that would conquer the hearts of all.
On reaching Athirappally, it is not just the waterfalls that you should be visiting. Some of the major attractions that lay close-by and is worth the visit include the Vazhachal Falls, Charpa Falls and the Thumboormuzhi Dam and Butterfly Park.
2) Vagamon (or Wagamon)
A sleepy little town with picturesque beauty that is yet unmarred by the hands of commercialization, Vagamon lies at an altitude of about 1, 100 meters. The hill station which is located in Idukki district of Kerala is abundantly blessed by green meadows, enchanting pine forests, waterfalls, scenic landscapes, and greenery all around. The place’s altitude gives it the advantage of having pleasantly cool climate with temperatures between 10 degree Celsius and 23 degree Celsius. Vagamon’s terrain is ideal for activities like trekking, mountaineering, rock climbing, etc. thus, making it a favourite spot among adventure travelers.
Major places of interest here include the Kurishumala Ashram – a place with its atmosphere filled with tranquility and divinity, Pine forests, Mooppanpara – a V-shaped canyon; well-renowned as suicide point is one of the best viewpoints in the place and the meadows.
Tip: The check-posts at Vazhachal and Malakkappara will be closed by 4 pm. So, try to clear them before 4 pm!
Perhaps there would be no other place as famous as Munnar! This mesmerizing hill station is one of the most visited destinations in the state or to say even in the country. A ride on your bike through the hair-pin bends, amidst the tea estates itself will give one the joys of a memorable trip. Hence, this is one place that will never go off the charts!
Located in the Idukki district of Kerala, Munnar lies at about 1,600 meters above sea level. The place has a wide variety of flora and fauna, breath-taking view points, waterfalls, green valleys, mist-clad hills and charming villages. Some of the must-see attractions at Munnar include Lockhart Gap, Top Station, Mattupetti Dam, Kolukkualai, the famed Meesapulimala, etc.
4) Valpara (or Valparai)
Valpara – another one of those charming places still untouched by the modern day make-overs. At an altitude of about 3,500 feet, Valpara is located on the Anamalai mountain range. With picturesque beauty and greenery all around this is one of the places that should not be missed. While exploring Valpara, these places could be the ones not to be avoided. Here are a few of them: Aaliyar Dam, Monkey Falls, Loam’s View Point, Sholayar Dam, Manampalli forest, and Tiger Valley.
Varkala is a coastal town belonging to the Thiruvananthapuram (also known as Trivandrum) district of Kerala. After exploring a breath-takingly beautiful waterfall and three mesmerizing hill stations, some time on the sun-kissed beaches will give the perfect conclusion to short getaway.
Being a coastal town, one of the major attraction that Varkala is famous for is its beaches. There are two major beaches here: the Varkala Beach which is also renowned by the name ‘Papanasam Beach’ and another one at Tiruvambadi. Other prominent sightseeing destinations include the Anjengo Fort, Varkala Tunnel and Kappil Lake.
It is not that there are no other places to explore. There are plenty of them. When the destination is Kerala would there be a limit to what and where to explore?! Here we have only picked the best 5. Now that we’ve had a quick trip, let’s ride! Or wait. Hold on! If you don’t own your sweet ride, here is a solution:
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So, take the one you own or rent one and off you go to explore Kerala.