INCREDIBLE INDIA

Heritage hotels - In some cities - specially Rajasthan, many old palaces/castles/forts and old houses (called havelis) have been converted into hotels. These hotels are quite charming and staying in these heritage hotels gives you a good feeling. Some of these palace are huge and have a large number of rooms and some are quite small with about 10 to 20 rooms. The charm of being treated like royalty in these hotels is great.

Heritage Hotels' cover running hotels in palaces/castles/forts/havelies residence of any size built prior to 1950. The facade, architectural features and general construction should have the distinctive qualities and ambience in keeping with the traditional way of life of the area.

The architecture of the property to be considered for this category should not normally be interfered with. Any extension, improvement, renovation, change in the existing structures should be in keeping with the traditional architectural styles and constructional techniques harmonising the new with the old. Some of the finest heritage hotels are -

Heritage Hotels in Jaipur
Rambagh Palace
Jai Mahal Palace
Alsisar Haveli
Heritage Hotels in Jodhpur
Ajit Bhawan
Taj Umaid Bhawan
Hotel Karni Bhawan
Heritage Hotels in Udaipur
Taj Lake Palace
Fateh Prakash Palace
Shikarbari
Heritage Hotels in Bikaner
Gajner Palace
Lalgarh Palace
Laxmi Niwas Palace
Heritage Hotels in Jaisalmer
Mandir Palace
Narayan Niwas Palace
Heritage Hotels in Samode
Samode Palace
Hereitage hotels in Mandawa
Mandawa Castl
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Taj Mahal -

TAJ MAHAL

The Taj Mahal stands serene and perfect in the garden of cypresses and reflecting pools on the banks of river Yamunna. Its pure white marble shimmers silver in the moonlight, glows softly pink at dawn, and at close of day reflects the fairy tints of the setting sun. The Taj in all its timeless beauty is still the inspiration of poets and painters, writers and photographers. Lovers still meet here in the moonlight in the shadow of the world's most famous monument of love.It took 22 years to complete--a symbol of eternal love where Shahjehan too lies buried, re-united at last with his beloved Mumtaz.

History of Tajmahal
Mumtaz Mahal a Muslim Persian princess was married to Shah Jehan (Prince Khurram), the fifth Mughal emperor in 1612 AD. Mumtaz was the emperor's second wife and was his comrade and counselor. She was an inseparable companion on all his journeys and military expeditions and she inspired the emperor to do acts of charity and benevolence towards the weak and the needy. Mumtaz bore 14 children, and when she died during a childbirth in 1631, Shah Jahan was so heartbroken that all his hair and beard were said to have turned snow-white in a few months! Overcome by grief, Shah Jahan decided to immortalize the memory of his beloved wife by building a monument for his eternal love. The construction documents show that its master architect was Ustad Ahmed Lahori, a renowned Islamic architect of his time. The much-celebrated saga of royal love was brought to life by dexterous and skilled artisans from places as far away as Delhi, Kannauj, Lahore, Multan, Baghdad, Shiraz and Bukhara. Construction began in 1631, and over 20,000 workmen and master craftsmen worked laboriously for 22 years to give shape to the emperor's passionate dream! The material was brought in from all over India and central Asia and it took a fleet of 1,000 elephants to transport it to the site. The complex was finally completed in 1653 at a cost of 32 Million Rupees on the banks of river Yamuna, in Agra - the capital of the Mughal monarchs. But the beauty of Taj Mahal is also tainted by the gory fact that the hands of some of the master craftsmen were amputated, to ensure that the perfection of the Taj could never be repeated ever again!

Architecture of Tajmahal

The Main Gateway
Shah Jehan travelled from the Fort to the tomb by boat. The court history describe his arrival on the river side of the monument and his ascent to its terrace by way of the embankment. This approach, however, was reserved for the emperor and members of his party. Others passed through a large courtyard, a jilokhana to enter the main gateway on the south. This courtyard was a place where travellers halted. Here, the poor were provided with food and shelter, and on the anniversary day vast sums were distributed in charity from the funds.

Purpose
In this courtyard stand the main gateway to the Taj and its gardens, a massive portal that opens to the south. Detached gateways were long a traditional feature of Muslim architecture and could be found fronting tombs and mosques throughout the East. Symbolically to the Muslim, such an entrance way was the gate to paradise. Metaphysically, it represented the transition point between the outer world of the senses and the inner world of the spirit.

Structure
Made of red sandstone, this 150 ft. wide and nearly 100 ft. high, gateway consists of a lofty central arch with double storeyed wings on either side. Octagonal towers are attached to its corners which are surmounted by broad impressive open domed kiosks. The most important feature of the gateway however is the introduction of a series of eleven attached chhatris (umbrellas) with marble cupolas, flanked by pinnacles, above the central portal on the north and south sides. A heavy door at the base is made from eight different metals and studded with knobs. Inside are countless rooms with hallways that wind and divide in such apparent abandon that they seem intentionally built to confuse; perhaps they were, for they have remained unused for three centuries and their purpose has long confounded the experts. Within the archway of this majestic entrance, there is a large chamber with a vaulted roof.

Decoration
The gateway is richly embellished. Of particular note are the floral arabesques fashioned from gemstones and inlaid in while marble which decorate the spandrels of the arches. Also impressive are the inlaid black marble inscriptions that frame the central vaulted portal or iwan. These passages are excerpts from the Koran, which is considered by Muslims to be the word of God as revealed to Mohammed. It is here that Shah Jehan's calligraphers have performed an amazing optical trick: the size of the lettering that runs up and over the arch appears to be consistent from top to bottom. This illusion was created by gradually heightening the size of the letters as their distance from the eye increased; from the ground the dimensions seem the same at every point. This ingenious trompe l'oeil effect is used with equal success on the main doorway of the Taj itself. It is said that upon first beholding the Taj through this gateway it will look small and far away, as if built in three-quarter scale. This is another optical trick. As one approaches, the illusion turns into another illusion: the building begins to grow, and continues to grow until, when the base is reached, it looms colossal. The dome especially seems to expand as one comes near, almost as if it were being slowly inflated.

Taj Gardens and the Ingenious Water Devices
The gardens
A green carpet of garden runs from the main gateway to the foot of the Taj. Like Persian gardeners, landscape artists at the Taj attempted to translate the perfection of heaven into terrestrial terms by following certain formulas. In Islam, four is the holiest of all numbers - most arrangements of the Taj are based on that number or its multiples - and the gardens were thus laid out in the quadrate plan. Two marble canals studded with fountains and lined with cypress trees (symbolising death) cross in the centre of the garden dividing it into four equal squares. The mausoleum, instead of occupying the central point (like most mughal mausoleums), stands majestically at the north end just above the river. Each of the four quarters of the garden have again been sub-divided into sixteen flower beds by stone-paved raised pathways. At the centre of the garden, halfway between the tomb and the gateway, stands a raised marble lotus-tank with a cusped and trefoiled border. The tank has been arranged to perfectly reflect the Taj in its waters. A clear, unobstructed view of the mausoleum is available from any spot in the garden. Fountains and solemn rows of cypress trees only adorn the north-south water canal, lest the attention of the viewer would be diverted to the sides!! This shows how carefully the aesthetic effect of the water devices and the garden were calculated. The deep green cypress trees with their slender rising shapes and curving topmost crests are mirrored in the water while between their dark reflections shines the beauty of the immortal Taj.

The Mosque
On either side of the Taj Mahal are buildings of red sandstone. The one to the west is a Mosque. It faces towards Mecca and is used for prayer. This greenery shaded structure, measuring 19 ft. by 6.5 ft. marks the site where the remains of Mumtaz Mahal were deposited when first brought to Agra. From this temporary grave they were removed to their present place of internment in the mausoleum. On the outside the Mosque has pietra dura work twining across its spandrels. The platform in front of the Mosque is of red sandstone. A highly polished small marble piece is so fitted that it serves as a mirror and one can see the mausoleum reflected in it. The floor is of material which is exceedingly fine and sparkling and appears velvet red in shade. On that 539 prayer carpets have been neatly marked out with black marble. All over there is exquisite calligraphy and the name Allah and quotations from scriptures inscribed. The ceiling is painted in a strange, hypnotic design. The roof supports four octagonal towers and three elegant domes. On either side of the Mosque, to the north and south, and set along and upon the enclosure wall, there are two towers. The Mahal The Taj Mahal is situated more than 900 ft. (275 m) away from the entrance at the opposite end of the garden. Towering almost 200 ft. (76m.) in height, the tomb stands on its own marble plinth, which rests on a red sandstone platform that serves to level the land as it slopes to the river. Four tall minarets rise up from the corners of the white marble plinth. They taper to a majestic height of 138 ft. and are crowned with eight windowed cupolas. elegantly accent the central structure, framing the space like the mounting of a jewel. The marble mausoleum is square in plan with chamfered corners. Each facade of the tomb is composed of a grand iwan framed by bands of calligraphy. The doorways inside these iwans are also adorned with calligraphy. The iwan is flanked on both sides by small double arches one over the other. They are rectangular while the arched alcoves of equal size at the angles of the tomb are semi-octagonal. Each section in the facade is well demarked on both sides by attached pilasters which rising from the plinth level of the tomb rise above the frieze and are crowned by beautiful pinnacles with lotus buds and finials. The pinnacles ornament the superstructure and help along with the other features to break the skyline gracefully.

The Tomb
Inside the Taj Mahal, the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal stands at the center of an octagonal hall, while the slightly larger tomb of Shah Jahan, who died in 1666, is off to one side. Both are elaborately carved and inlaid with semiprecious stones, illuminated by sunlight filtering through an elaborately carved marble screen that is also studded with jewels.

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CAMEL SAFARI

Camels are the pride of Rajasthan. Globetrotters visits Rajasthan to explore the vast sand dunes of the Great Indian Thar Desert and above all a bumpy joy ride on the back of a camel. The Thar desert of Rajasthan which is an extension to the desert belt offers the right atmosphere to the camel safaris. The western region of Rajasthan is most favoured destinations for camel safari which includes places like Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur, and Shekhawati. You could do a short thirty minutes to a one hour safari at the Sam sand dunes or Khuri which are near Jaisalmer. or you could take a full day or two days to a onw week tour in the desert. Loosing yourself to the vast expanses of the Thar desert is an unforgetable experience. Feel the smell and fragrance of sand and dive into an unknown world of the desert. Best time to do these safaris is from November to March.

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KERALA BACKWATERS GUIDE

The land of the green and the serene Kerala offers an amazing array of the backwaters in Kerala. The breathtakingly beautiful destinations are the true storehouses of the nature at its best. The splendid sunsets, the waxing moonlights, the shoals of ducks, the pulsating palms and the wonderful waves, more beautiful than the canals in Thailand, infinitely less crowded than those in Milan, the backwaters of Kerala offer an enchanting experience of fun and relaxation and a chance to see authentic local life. Take your pick for the best backwater tour for family and friends. The cruises and the overnight stays in the houseboats are the best way to an unforgettable holiday.

Alappuzha / Alleppey Backwaters --- Kerala (India)
Area: 1414 sq. km, Altitude: Sea level, Climate Tropical, Altitude Sea Level, Rainfall 229 cm. (Annual), Tourist Season August to March

TRAVEL INFO
Air : The nearest airport at Cochin, 64 km. Thiruvananthapuram Airport is 159 km.
Rail : Connected to Thiruvananthapuram and Cochin.
Road : NH 47 passes via Alappuzha. Alappuzha-Changanassery road links the district to M C road. With the Arabian Sea on the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and water rivers crisscrossing it, Alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty. Referred to as the Venice of the east by travellers from across the world, this backwaters country is also home to diverse animal and bird life.The sweeping network of canals, honey-combing the town of Alleppey has earned for the place its sobriquet - "The Venice of the East." Small, low-slung country boats are the taxis of this waterland. It is a heart-warming sight to see them carry a motley assemblage of cycles, goats, fisherwomen with cane baskets, school children, toddy-tappers with their knives and pots, duennas in white with gold earrings. Alappuzha is also famous for its boat races, houseboat holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. A singular characteristic of this land is the region called kuttanad.

Kuttanad
Do not miss out on a ride into Kuttanad (called the rice bowl of kerala) through shimmering, green paddy fields and tail-wagging, head-bobbing groups of ducks. The coir-workers too present an interesting sight as they soak coconut fibre in pools, beat them out and weave the tough brown strands into long ropes on spindles stretched between endless coconut trees. Alleppey becomes the cynosure of the eyes of the world in August - September, every year, as it plays host to the celebrated Snake Boat Races - a water regatta unique to Kerala.

Pathiramanal (14 Kms from Alappuzha)
According to the mythology a young brahmin dived into the Vembanad lake to perform his evening ablutions and water made way for land to rise from below, thus creating the enchanting island of Pathiramanal (sand of midnight). This little island on the backwaters is a favourite haunt of hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world. The island lies between Thaneermukkom and kumarakom and is accessible by boat.

ABOUT ALAPPUZHA
Alappuzha ( earlier Alleppey), Venice of the East, is spread on the banks of a network of canals, lakes and lagoons. The city is the hub of the fabled backwater cruise. Sandwiched between Arabian Sea and Vembanad Lake, the district has no forest area to its credit and its 82km seashore constitutes 13.9 per cent of the state's seashore. This network of canals and lakes connects this city to other important destinations like Kottayam and Kochi. Kerala rural life at close quarters; toddy-tapping, coir-making, prawn-farming, and scores of other sights.

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AYURVEDA IN INDIA

Origin and Developement :-
Ayurveda is a science which evolved in India around 600 B.C. legend has it that ayurveda system of medicine was instructed to the ancient sages by the gods themselves. It is not just another system of medicine, it is indeed a science and way of life. It is the harmony of body, mind and soul. The word itself is derived from two sanskrit words - AYU meaning life and VEDA meaning knowledge. Ayurveda always stressed on the prevention of body ailments in addition to curing them. It believes in the treatment of not just the affected part but the body as a whole, making it the natural way to refresh yourself, eliminate all toxic imbalances from the body and thus regain resistance and good health. This science focuses on living life naturally and teaches how to live in this universe without disturbing the delicate balance of nature. According to ayurvedic texts, the human body is comprised of five elements of nature: ether, air, fire, water and earth. Ether - is space, in particular the cellular, synaptic and visceral spaces which allow the tissues to function efficiently.

Air -
governs movement in the body. The sensation that is felt when someone touches The skin is transported to the brain through movement. Other examples include breathing through the movement of diaphragm as well as shifting of thoughts & desires.

Fire -
represents the qualities of change and transformation. It is therefore, the element Relative to disgestion, absorption, assimilation and body temperature.

Water -
takes many forms in the body such as saliva, plasma, mucus and urine - at the Same time it is necessary for healthy cell functions. Kuttanad
Do not miss out on a ride into Kuttanad (called the rice bowl of kerala) through shimmering, green paddy fields and tail-wagging, head-bobbing groups of ducks. The coir-workers too present an interesting sight as they soak coconut fibre in pools, beat them out and weave the tough brown strands into long ropes on spindles stretched between endless coconut trees. Alleppey becomes the cynosure of the eyes of the world in August - September, every year, as it plays host to the celebrated Snake Boat Races - a water regatta unique to Kerala.

Earth -
is the element which forms the solid structures of the body like bones, cartilage, teeth and skin etc. As in the traditional Chinese medicine, the ayurvedic system views the human body as a miniature of nature and therefore, the elements listed above are used to create the structure of the body. These structural aspects are then combined to creat three doshas (a sanskrit word for forces that disturb) which are responsible for the functional aspect of the body. The three doshas are a combination of two of each of the elements and are used to determine the individual's primary constitution and the factors which contribute are detrimental to the harmony in the body.

The 3 doshas are: VATA - is the combination of the air and ether. PITTA - is the combination of water and the fire. KAPAH -is the combination of water and the earth elements.

The Indian System of nature cure :-
Ayurveda or the 'science of longevity' is the Indian system of nature cure. It is known to promote positive health, natural beauty and long life. Although rooted in antiquity, ayurveda is based on universal principels and is living, growing body of knowledge as useful today as it was in earlier centuries. It is said that ayurveda is old as the world itself. Its very basis is the spiritual knowledge of the ancient seers of India and the cosmic consciousness in which they lived. Its strength lies in its broad, all encompassing view of the dynamic inter-relationship between organic physiological proccess, external factors including climate, life work and diet along with the internal psychological and spiritual condition. Ayurveda believes that disease occurs not as an arbitrary phenomenon but for definite reasons which if correctly understood could help to cure and, more importantly, prevent recurrence of the disease. Ideally human beings and nature should be in perfect harmony. Disease occurs when the equilibrium between these two is disrupted.

The Science of Life :-
Ayurveda, with its tridosha or three humours system, is able to provide a complete understanding of the cause of health in terms of metabolic balance. Disease is simply understood as an imbalance between the nerve energy (vata), catbolic fire energy (pitta) and anabolic nutritive energy (kapha). All foods and experiences have an effect on the overall balance of these respective humours. Ayurveda therefore aims to keeps the three humours in equilibrium for only then can perfect health be attained and maintained. In ayurveda diagnos is more subjective than objective. But the comprehensiveness of the examination offsets any deficiencies because of subjectivity of the diagnosis. Ayurveda aims to solve many health problems.

Beauty care through Ayurveda :-
In Ayurveda, health promotion, beauty management and healing rely on freeing the body of ama(toxic material resulting from incomplete digestion), restoring sound cellular nutrition, facilitating complete elimination and re-establishing the balance of the doshas. This is gradually achieved by following an appropriate diet and lifestyle. Commonly called panch karma, ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy is the oldest scientific system for detoxification and renutrifying the body. Ayurvedic rejuvennation therapy can be used as a program to improve good health, enhance natural good looks,or initiate cure of a disorder. Traditionally undertaken as a preventive therapy at the change of seasons, both winter to spring and summer to fall, the aim is to cleanse the body not only of waste materials that may have accumulated in the body. It is also an excellent, completely fresh start in the process of making health supporting lifestyle changes.

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INDIA LUXURY TRAINS

www.India-travelpackages.com offers a wide range of "India train tour packages". Apart than the regular Indian train tours, there are the Indian luxury train tours. These deluxe trains of India operate normally in winters.
The Indian Palace on wheels most known luxury Indian rail and the route is Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore, Chittaurgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Bharatpur. This is the original Indian deluxe train. Indian Luxury rail tour "Royal Rajasthan On Wheels" covers Delhi Jodhpur, Udaipur, Chittaurgarh, Ranathambore, Jaipur, Khajuraho, Varanasi and Agra.
The luxury train of India"Maharajas' express - Classical India" covers Delhi, Agra, Gwalior, Khajuraho, Bandhvagarh National Park, Varanasi and Lucknow. Luxury Rail Tour of India "Maharajas' Express- Princely India" covers Mumbai, Vadodara, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur, Ranthambore, Agra and Delhi. The Luxury rail in India "Maharajas' Express - Royal India" covers Delhi Agra Ranthambore Jaipur Bikaner Jodhpur Udaipur Vadodara and Mumbai.
The Luxury rail of India "The Indian Maharaja" covers Delhi Agra Jaipur Ranthambore Udaipur Aurangabad Ajanta Caves Ellora Caves and Mumbai.
The other routing of the Indian deluxe Train "The Indian Maharaja" covers Mumbai Aurangabad Ajantha Caves Ellora Caves Udaipur Sawai Madhopur/Ranthambore Jaipur, Agra/Taj Mahal and Delhi. These Indian deluxe rails cover some the important tourist cities of North India. Travelling in an Indian luxury rail is worthwhile. These luxury rails in India offer good accommodation and food.
The South Indian Luxury rail "Golden Chariot" follows two routes. The first itinerary is Bangalore Mysore Nagarhole, Hassan (Belur and Halebid), Hampi, Badami and Goa. The South Indian Luxury rail "Golden Chariot", in the second itinerary covers Bengaulru Chennai Mahabalipuram Pondicherry Tiruchirapalli Thanjavur Madurai, Thiruvananthapuram Poovar and Kochi. The West Indian Luxury rail "Deccan Odyssey" covers Mumbai Nagari Goa Kolhapur Aurangabad Ajantha Caves and Ellora Caves.
www.india-travelpackages.com offers "india ecomomy train tours", "India first class train tours" and India budget train tours. indianrail.gov.in is the official website of Indian railway to get information indian railway seat availability, indian railway timetable, indian railway reservation status and more.

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