Palaces and Temples of India
If you are looking for a truly breathtaking and unforgettable experience, taking in the most beautiful Indian Palaces and Temples, then the Splendours of India tour is quite simply ‘the one.’ To begin, encapsulating in miniature the characteristics of India herself, is New Delhi. Imagine lush tree-lined streets, parks and fountains, fine government buildings and a feeling of light and space. Gravitate to the hub of New Delhi’s fashionable centre, Connaught Place and feel the buzz of a city in motion, looking to the future.
Old Delhi in comparison holds many rich and mysterious qualities that will cloak you in a riot of senses and colour. Here you will find narrow alleys, bazaars, temples and mosques that form the old Muslim capital. One cannot miss Raj Ghat, the memorial at the site where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated, in addition to Jama Masjid, India’s largest and most elegant mosque. A must-visit is Humayun's Tomb, the memorial of the Mughal Emperor Humayun, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as a fine first example of Persian inspired Mughal architecture in India.
Udaipur City Palace
Leaving Delhi you will be flown to the romantic and atmospheric Udaipur, recognised as one of the finest creations of the Rajputs and located deep in the Rajasthan desert. Founded in the 16th century, here is a veritable cultural explosion of palaces, temples, parks and gardens, many of which line the shore of Lake Pichola. The Palace itself is now a museum, famed for its mirrored walls reflecting dancing lights, doors of ivory, remarkable coloured glass windows and inlaid marble balconies.
The Palace of Winds, Jaipur
Prepare to be amazed by ‘The Pink City’ of Jaipur, the state capital of Rajasthan, whose chalk-pink buildings welcomed the Prince of Wales in 1876. Here you will see The Palace of Winds, whose façade of spectacular proportion, domes, spires and overhanging windows with latticed screens will leave you breathless with pleasure.
The Taj Mahal
Yet of course nothing can prepare you for the greatest gift of all, the truly captivating and surely the most extravagant of all symbols of love, the amazing marble building of the Taj Mahal, situated in Agra. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, it was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third (and favourite!) wife Mumtaz Mahal. It took 22,000 people 17 years to complete the building, so we can say with surety that this was indeed a labour of love. Part of the iconic Taj Mahal’s wonder is the changing in the buildings’ hue from morning through to dusk, which is said to symbolise the changing moods of females – and in particular Mumtaz Mahal.
Viswanath Temple, Khajuraho
From here it is onto the Chandela Dynasty temples of Khajuraho, set in a beautiful park, and intricately carved and designed with statues and friezes, some of which are the renowned erotic carvings.
Finally, in Varanasi, perhaps India’s most colourful city and also one of the greatest sacred Hindu cities; spend your time here exploring the famous banks of the Ganges, and the many Hindu temples that line the river.
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Article published on: 7th August, 2014