Tourism, Travel

Agra Fort.

Fast Facts

Location: Agra, Uttar Pradesh

Built By: Akbar

Built in the Year: 1573

Purpose: Main residence of the Mughals

Area: 380,000 square meter

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.

Architecture    

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.

Tourism, Travel

Zero mile stone.

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!

history, Tourism

Kanyakumari.

Nestled at the extreme southern end of India, Kanyakumari is a beautiful coastal town of Tamil Nadu. Since its evolution, this peaceful town has been considered to be a major hub of culture, art, and religion in the country. Kanyakumari city showcases to the world the perfect amalgamation of enthralling natural beauties and captivating ancient architectural marvels.

The city of Kanyakumari is beautifully enticing, owing to its spectacular scenic environs and brilliant iconic structures. Enclosed by magnificent mountains, lined by stunning sea shores, and bordered by lofty coconut trees and paddy fields, this city is set to mesmerize every traveler. The mountainous terrains, undulating valleys, hill patches, and pristine beaches can leave anyone awestruck and spellbound. In addition to all these natural elements, the city’s iconic monuments and majestic temples also add to its incredible beauty.A long list of the major attractions of the state of Tamil Nadu are sheltered in Kanyakumari. The important tourist spots of this place include religious sites like Thanumalayan Temple, Kumari Amman Temple, and Lord Subramanya Temple; historical spots like Vattakottai Fort, Padmanabhapuram Palace, and Vivekananda Rock Memorial; and natural beauties like Thirparappu Falls, Courtallam Falls, and Sanguthurai Beach.Kanyakumari tourism has ample scope for the tourists to engage in a number of fun-filled activities. From enjoying water activities at Kanyakumari Beach to marveling at the life-like statues of famous personalities at Wax Museum and from witnessing the breathtaking sunset at Sunset Point to marveling at the Thiruvalluvar Statue, Kanyakumari will offer you an action-packed trip down south. Kanyakumari experiences tropical climate, with summers being moderately humid, monsoons bringing in frequent rainfall, and winters remaining pleasant. With less humidity and clear skies, the winter months from October to March make for the best time to visit Kanyakumari.

Uncategorized

Lose Yourself In The Natural Beauty Of Agumbe

The spectacular beauty of the Western Ghats is not limited to mountains and rivers. It is also known for its unique biodiversity, thick foliage, and quaint settlements.

Agumbe, a small village in the Shimoga district of Karnataka, is situated in this naturally bestowed region of Western Ghats. The unique and abundant natural beauty of this place has made it a perfect place for nature lovers and even adventure seekers. Travellers just love to get lost in the scenic paradise of Agumbe: Cherrapunji of South India. This hill station boasts of thick tropical Agumbe rainforest, magnificent mountain ranges, several waterfalls, charming rivers, and weather that is pleasant throughout the year.

Agumbe receives more than 7,000 mm of rainfall throughout the year, and this is the reason that this place has gotten the tag of being the Cherrapunji of South India. The place holds a permanent place in every Karnataka itinerary .worth its salt. In fact, there is so much to see and experience here that it is difficult to pick a spot to start with.

Agumbe Rainforest

Any discussion about Agumbe should start and end with its rainforests since there is so much of it here. Government efforts at conserving Agumbe rainforest have helped to sustain them in their near-pristine beauty. Whether you are trekking or just travelling, you would obviously be travelling through the enchanting rainforests of Agumbe. It is owing to these rainforests that this place is known as Hasiru Honnu by the locals, which means green gold. As they are home to a variety of very rare medicinal plants such as Myristica, Ficus, Diospyros, Listsaea, and Garcinia that can be found in this village.

Agumbe Rainforest Research Station

The only permanent Rainforest Research Station of India is situated in Agumbe: Cherrapunji of South India. Being located inside the Agumbe Reserve Forest area at a distance of about 2 kilometres from Agumbe, the research station itself is a charming place to visit. This station is aimed at conserving the rainforest and the species within. The oldest weather station of India can also be found here that especially monitors any changes in the weather conditions of the rainforest.

King Cobra Capital

Agumbe is popularly referred to as King Cobra capital because of the high density of king cobras that can be found in the region. It is important to note that although there are a large number of snakes that can be found in this region however very few cases of human-snake conflict. The world’s first radio-telemetry project for King Cobra was undertaken in the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station.

Trekking and Hiking

Agumbe

Travelling to and through Agumbe is a pleasant experience, but don’t expect to drive everywhere. The roads are not there in most places. Moreover, you can really enjoy the beauty of this place if you set out for trekking

through the hills. Since the village is situated in lowland area you can find ample lowland rainforest here. The sight of distant mountains and alluring waterfalls flowing through the thick foliage is an astounding combination to behold and experience.

Agumbe Sunset View Point

Agumbe

The enchanting Agumbe sunset view point, is a ten-minute walk from the village and is situated on the Udupi-Agumbe Road. This viewpoint is found on one of the highest peaks in the Western Ghats. From here you will be able to capture the mesmerizing ensemble of Western Ghats Mountains, waterfalls, and the thick foliage and soothe your nerves. Enjoy local snacks being sold by the roadside vendors while enjoying the view of the setting

Jogi Gundi Falls

This is a charming waterfall about 800 metres deep is situated at a distance of about 4 kilometres from Agumbe: Cherapunji of South India. The first few kilometres can be covered by a vehicle but the last one kilometre can be only be covered via trekking through a narrow path. However, trekking through the forest to go near the waterfall is itself a lovely experience, which can be done while catching up on some birding. One can also take a swim in the swimming pool in front of the waterfall but be warned that the water is deep and the edges are rocky and sharp.

Onake Abbi Falls

Onake Abbi Falls

This fall is situated at a distance of about 4 kilometres from Agumbe, and you need to trek for about 3 kilometres on unpaved roads to reach here. The water cascades down to about 500-feet from above, and you can get a breathtaking view of the waterfall from the summit.

Barkana Falls

This is one of the highest waterfalls in India and is an integral part of any good Karnataka itinerary. The name Barkana is derived from ‘Barka’, which means ‘Mouse Deer’ that are found in this region and ‘Kana’, which means ‘Home’. To reach this waterfall, you need to trek for about 5 kilometres. The waterfall derives its water from the Seetha River and falls from a lofty height of about 850-feet. Looking at the misty waterfall is a charming experience for any nature lover. This fall is also an important source of hydroelectricity in Karnataka.

Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary

The government has endeavoured to protect the fauna and flora of the region through the Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary. Named after the presiding deity Lord Someshwara, it is located approximately 20 kilometres from Agumbe and falls in both Shimoga and Udupi districts. Your Karnataka itinerary must include this sanctuary since it showcases the biodiversity of the Western Ghat Mountains. Some notable fauna that can be spotted in this sanctuary are tiger, leopard, jackal, wild boar, sambar, barking deer, spotted deer, king cobra, and giant flying squirrel.

Kundadri Hill

The Kundadri Hill is located in the Shimoga District and is at a distance of about 19 kilometres from Agumbe. This hill has got one of the most famous temple in karnataka for having a 17th-century temple dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras. Apart from the religious significance of the hill, it is a paradise for nature lovers. Situated at a height of 3200-feet above sea level provides excellent views of the backwaters of the Varahi Dam, Western Ghats, and also includes two natural pools formed with rocks that are filled by the Tunga River.

Koodlu Teertha Falls

At a distance of about 26 kilometres from Agumbe: Cherrapunji of South India lies an isolated waterfall in Nadpalu, Karnataka. To reach this spot you need to trek for about 4 kilometres. However, the sweat and ardour of trekking will soon be a thing of the past once you experience the beauty of this waterfall. Here the water falls from a height of around 150-feet and has created a shallow pool where one can relax, take pictures or enjoy a good swim.

The months of January and February are considered the best months to visit this natural wonderland. To reach Agumbe you can either fly to Mangalore or take a train to Udupi from where you can take a taxi or bus to reach the destination. The misty waterfalls, the lush green mountains, the abyss of the valleys, the thick foliage, the abundant wilderness, the charming rivers, and the mellow weather all beckon travellers to this pristine beauty in the Western Ghats. Make sure to add Agumbe to your Karnataka itinerary to experience one of the most refreshing hill stations and trekking in Karnataka.