Tourism, Travel

Taj mahal ❤

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.

Tourism, Travel

Top 5 places to visit in Kerala on a Motorcycle.

“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.

1) Athirappally

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!

3) Munnar

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.

5) Varkala

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:

Based in Cochin (or Kochi), Caferides is the first legal motorcycle rental service provider in Kerala. With a motorcycle fleet that include brands like – Royal Enfield, Harley Davidson etc, this motorcycle rentals Cochin, Kerala is now re-defining motorcycle tourism in Kerala!

So, take the one you own or rent one and off you go to explore Kerala.

Have a happy journey. Safe ride and a fun break!

history, life

Mahabalipuram.

Mahabalipuram is a small town situated in the southeastern part of Tamil Nadu, stretching between the Bay of Bengal and the Great Salt Lake. It is a renowned representative city of our rich Indian culture and heritage. It is mainly a seaport, which lies 58 km away from the capital city Chennai.Mahabalipuram is a place that is famous for its temples and monuments, especially the very famous Shore Temple. It consists of three temples built in one single complex, that was constructed way back in the 8th century. Another famous temple is the Pancha Rathas.As the name suggests- they are a group of five temples sculpted in the form of chariots. The Descent of the Ganga is a giant rock with an open mouth in the form of sculpture. Some other popular tourist attractions in Mahabalipuram are Arjuna’s Penance, the Crocodile Farm, the Cave temples, the Indian Seashell Museum, Krishna’s Butterball. Along with these, there are innumerable monoliths, temples and stone carvings that are a testimony to the rich cultural heritage of India.Even though Mahabalipuram is a small town situated in the suburbs, it is well connected by buses and cars because of its immense popularity amongst Indian and even foreigners. These buses ply from different parts of Chennai, Chengal Pattu and Kanchipuram.The weather here remains cool and moderately humid throughout the year, which makes it possible to visit any time of the year, even though the best time to visit is between October and March. The town is well equipped with multiple accommodations according to the tourists’ choice and budget. Local restaurants, as well as multi-cuisine restaurants, are available for a culinarily rewarding trip as well. The local language spoken here is Tamil, although the locals are fluent in other languages like English and Hindi as well.
history, Tourism, Travel

 Hampi – The Land of Culture and Religion.

H

ampi is located in the Karnataka state of India. It is situated on the banks of Tungabhadra River, and is around 74 km away from Bellary, another tourist attraction around Hampi. It is recognized as the World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Hampi used to be an important part of Vijayanagara city (1343 – 1565), which was later ruined but this beautiful place commonly referred as the temple town still exists. It always remained a priority for different rulers because of its geographical location. It is covered by impregnable hills on three sides and Tungabhadra River flows on the fourth side making this place secure and also magnificent from the scenic point of view.

Paradise for wanderlust folks

Hampi is a house to many temples which makes it an important religious center. This place is worth visiting since it holds great significance archeologically and also architecturally. Moreover, it is wonderfully enclosed with lofty mountains and smoothly flowing River which adds up even more to its already present attractiveness. According to statistics, this is the most searched place on Google in Karnataka.

Tourist attraction in and around Hampi

There are many more sightseeing options in and around Hampi and those who pay a visit here quite surely visit the surrounding places also.

Virupaksha Temple

This temple was built in the 7th century and it was a small shrine back then but was developed later into a beautiful one by the Vijayanagra rulers who dedicated this to their Lord Virupaksha. For people living nearby, it serves as a center for their religious believes.

Vittala Temple

This temple is a dedication to Lord Vittala who was believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It came into existence in the 15th century and serves as a major attraction to tourists. There is a large stone chariot that reflects the architectural skills back then.

Archaeological Museum

This Museum was established by the Archaeological Survey of India. When we talk about Hampi being a historical attraction, this Museum plays a vital role as it is a home to antiques and great sculptures. Most of the findings were carried on by British people and later in 1972, the antiques were shifted here.

Underground Temple

This is one of the oldest temples in Hampi dedicated to Lord Shiva. Most of the parts of this temple remain submerged in water because it was built several meters below the ground level.

Bellary

This city is known for the largest single rock mountain in the world. It is 60 km away from Hampi and the second fastest growing city in Karnataka. Bellary fort is also a tourist attraction.

Anegodi

Before Hampi, Anegodi was the capital of the region. It is situated on the opposite bank of the river and is a farming village. The places to visit here are Anegodi fort, Chandramouliswara Temple Pampa Sarovar, and Bukka‘s aqueduct.

Anjaneya Hill

It is located 4km away from the heritage site and is considered to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. There is a temple dedicated to him commonly called as the Monkey or the Hanuman temple.

Kamalpura

It is situated at the southern part of the ruins. It is also a small village and famous for Ganigitti temple, Bhima’s Gateway and museum. This village also holds importance in history.

How to reach Hampi

Hampi can be easily reached by all the modes of transport thus, providing fine connectivity for the tourists.

By air

There are two airports, nearest is in Hubli which is around 143 km away from Hampi and another one is in Belgaum which is around 720 km away. Tourist can easily fly on any of the airports. Cabs and taxies are available outside the airport that drops you to your destination.

By rail

This is the recommended mode to travel since Hospet Junction which is the nearest railway station is only 13 km away. There are many overnight trains available. Some of them are direct to Hospet Junction and there are other overnight trains available that will drop you to Hubli. Trains are cheaper and comfortable too. There are buses and rickshaw’s available outside the station to take you to Hampi.

By road

There are daily buses available from Bangalore, Mysore and Gokarna to Hospet. From Hospet you can easily get a bus or cab to reach to Hampi. There are many private buses available that drops you to the village overnight. For those who wish to travel by car, pathway till Chitradurga is in excellent condition but the path from Chitradurga to Hospet is in hostile condition and must be avoided. For those who are traveling via Bangalore, the main highway from Bellary to Hiriyur is recommended.

Tourism, Travel

Chitharal Jain Rock Cut Temple.

Chitharal Jain Rock cut Temple of Kanyakumari

45 kilometers away from Kanyakumari, atop a hillock rests an ancient rock cut Jain temple, which is believed to be built during 9th century. Chitharal Bhagwati Hindu Temple, famous as the rock cut Jain monument in Kanyakumari district is a renowned Jain and Hindu site. Chitharal is an ASI marked monument which stands lost in history and standing here you would want to get lost in time too. Here in this blog, I am going to take you through the complete history of Chitharal Jain Rock cut Temple of Kanyakumari, also known as the Bhagwathi Hindu Temple and I am going to connect its Jainism and Hinduism influence.

The surroundings of Chitharal Jain rock cut temple, Kanyakumari are really scenic. Take enough time in hand to enjoy its beauty

Chitharal Jain rock cut temple is a lesser-known gem in Kanyakumari District and I chanced upon it accidentally too. A glance at the structures and architecture impressed me but we weren’t very sure if we shall be coming here because it required a detour from our original plan. Originally our plan was to leave Bangalore before the mid night and reach Kanyakumari early in the morning.  But since this ASI monument is a cultural delight, I had to come here and therefore, we altered our original travel plan a bit.

History of Chitharal Jain Rock cut Temple of Kanyakumari

Historically, it is considered to be a place where the Jain saints would come and meditate in the caves. Therefore, Chitharal Jain rock cut temple is an important site in Jainism.

The first thing that I noticed about Chitharal Jain rock cut temple is this ruined vimana but it was difficult for me to figure anything out of it, as there was no one to guide me on this. For those who don’t know, Vimana is a structure which you would generally find on the top of inner sanctum in the hindu temples of South India. But, one thing that I can definitely note that this is not a Jain structure as it doesn’t support any of its symbol. A little research told me that this vimana was built during the 13th century which is dedicated to goddess Bhagwathi. From the vimana, don’t miss out on the beautiful view of the pond

The ruined vimana at Chitharal Jain rock cut temple, Kanyakumari which belonged to goddess Bhagwathi

The carved figures of Jain Tirthankaras at Chitharal Jain rock cut temple, Kanyakumari

The standing figures seems like of 23rd tirthankara in Jainism that is Parshwanatha swami and Padmavati goddess, one of his saviours. The one in padmasan pose is supposedly the 24th tirthankara of Jainism, Lord Mahavira. All the carved images above are believed to be all the 24 tirthankaras. A little walk ahead is this ruined Hindu temple of Bhagwati deity. So, let’s connect two things here

The view of Bhagwathi Hindu Temple at Chitharal Jain rock cut temple, Kanyakumari. The green water is a pond here

Why Chitharal is both a Jain and Hindu Site

Though popularly known as the Jain rock cut temple, Chitharal is also sometimes referred as Bhagwathi Hindu temple. The rock cut images of the tirthankaras are believed to be carved during the 9th century by the Digambar section in Jainism when the region was heavily under the influence of the religion, mainly inspired by their then king Mahendra Varman, who made majority of rock cut monuments during his reign in southern India. It was during 1258, that the site was converted into a Hindu temple and Bhagwathi temple was built here. But Jain carvings remained untouched.  This pond also has an interesting tale of a fish which wouldn’t die.

But, that’s all a thing of the past. I think if you plan to come to Chitharal rock cut temple, do keep a good amount of time in hand. Apart from its historical importance, Chitharal Bhagwathi Hindu temple is a beautiful place to spend some time with the nature and calm yourself. I already said standing here you would want to get lost in time too.

Ending, this blog with just one request. Please maintain the sanity of place as it is. Refrain from writing anything on the stones or litter the place. Because our monuments are our pride and we must value it.

Pro Travel tips:

There is no entry ticket to enter Chitharal Jain rock temple. However, the locals generally charge Rs. 40/- as parking fess from the tourists

Wear comfortable shoes. The place requires a 20 minutes hike up

Wear a hat, if you are visiting it during the afternoon. It gets hot during this time of the day

Carry water. You will need it while hiking up to the temples