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Archive for india

The Toy Train

By Linda Tancs

Affectionately known as “the toy train,” India’s Darjeeling Himalayan Railway consists of 54 miles of two-foot gauge track that connects New Jalpaiguri with Darjeeling, passing through Ghum at an altitude over 7,000 feet (the highest railway station in India). Opened in 1881, it remains one of the best examples of a hill passenger railway and has been a World Heritage Site since 1999. Catch a photo of the world famous B-Class steam locomotives at work, particularly from the adjacent public roads at Kurseong and Darjeeling.

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Land of the Blackbuck

By Linda Tancs

The blackbuck is an antelope indigenous to the plains of India, epitomized by the twisted, ridged horns of adult males. Thriving in grassland, their dwindling population has found a haven at Velavadar Blackbuck National Park. Located in the Bhavnagar district of the state of Gujarat, this sanctuary for blackbucks features grassland habitat, shrub lands, saline plains and mud flats. The park also embraces over 140 species of birds, 14 species of mammals, 95 species of flowering plants and many reptiles.

Sun City

By Linda Tancs

Bright—and blue. That’s the way to describe Jodhpur, one of the largest cities in Rajasthan, a northwestern state of India. Bright for the sun-kissed weather year round, earning it the moniker “Sun City.” Blue is the color of choice adorning dozens of buildings in the old part of the city. It’s a sight best viewed from Mehrangarh Fort, the seat of the Rathore rulers from the House of Marwar, located at a height of 400 feet above the city. The fort houses a museum highlighting the golden age of the Rathores and boasting a gallery that houses one of the finest collections of Mughal miniature paintings. The fort is also the venue for the Rajasthan International Folk Festival and World Sufi Spirit Festival.

The Stone Chariot

By Linda Tancs

It isn’t the only stone chariot in India, but Kallina Ratha in Hampi is an architectural jewel fit for a king. In fact, it was built in the 16th century during the reign of King Krishnadevaraya, reputedly one of the greatest kings of the Vijayanagara dynasty in southern India. Located inside the Vittala Temple complex, the stone shrine is dedicated to Garuda, a half-man and half-eagle mythical being associated with Lord Vishnu. Locals believe that the world will end when the chariot moves. Let’s hope it stays put for a while.

Where a Tree Reigns Supreme

By Linda Tancs

Andhra Pradesh is a district in India with the second lowest rainfall, a fact that seemingly has no impact on at least one tree in the region. At the westernmost end, the province boasts a colossal ancient banyan tree at Anantapur‘s village, Gutibayalu. With branches spreading over five acres, its girth earned it a place in Guinness World Records. To put it in perspective, the tree is larger than an average Wal-Mart. Locally referred to as “Thimmamma Marrimanu,” it sports over 1,000 prop roots.

A Pilgrimage of Faith

By Linda Tancs

Ujjain, a historic capital in central India in Madhya Pradesh, is a venerated pilgrimage site. One of the seven sacred cities of the Hindu faith, it is one of four sites attracting millions of Hindu pilgrims during the Kumbh Mela festival. The world’s largest religious gathering, it is held every third year at one of the four locations by rotation: Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag), Nasik and Ujjain. Bathing in the river associated with each place during Kumbh Mela is said to wash away one’s sins. This year the event returns to Ujjain from April 22 to May 21.

Visit the Stone Age

By Linda Tancs

Goa is a state in western India with coastlines stretching along the Arabian Sea. Needless to say, it’s known for its beaches, but a visit here will take you back a step (or two) in time to the Stone Age. Rock carvings and rock engravings founds at various places in Goa indicate that Stone Age people had settled there around 10000 – 8000 B.C. Usgalimal in South Goa boasts one of the most important prehistoric sites in the region.

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