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Archive for india

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.

India’s Venice

By Linda Tancs

Thanks to a large network of inland canals, the maritime travel industry in Alleppey (Alappuzha) is thriving. In fact, the proliferation of barges for sightseeing and houseboat cruising in the backwaters earns it the title “Venice of the East.” Located in southern India, its waterways also serve as the largest source of freshwater in the country, supporting local agriculture and fishing. Alleppey is the access point for one of the biggest events of the year, this weekend’s Nehru Trophy Boat Race. Held annually on the second Saturday of August, the competition takes place on Punnamada Lake and is the country’s most popular and competitive boat race.

Flush with Interest in India

By Linda Tancs

Loos, privies, chamber pots, water closets–call it whatever you like, the toilet is an indispensable element of human hygiene.  Though it might not generate much mention in polite conversation, those flush with interest can indulge their curiosity in its evolution at New Delhi’s Sublabh International Museum of Toilets.  Hailed as the only exhibition of its kind, the museum traces the evolution of the toilet and includes Victorian-era chamber pots and ancient carved and decorated commodes.  A highlight is the replica of King Louis XIV’s throne, allegedly outfitted to allow for potty breaks while conducting official business.  A royal flush, indeed.

The Spice Coast of India

By Linda Tancs

Located on the southwestern coast of India, Kerala is a bridge to many cultures thanks to its ancient standing as India’s Spice Coast.  Trade brought gastronomic, literary and architectural influences from the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, French and the British.  Nowadays, Kerala is equally celebrated for its unique geographical features and tourist appeal.  Bounded by the Arabian Sea in the west, the Western Ghats in the east, and networked by 44 rivers, India’s most pristine state offers a pleasing, year-round climate to enjoy its beaches, backwaters, hill stations and exotic wildlife.  Small wonder that it’s known as God’s Own Country.

 

A Gem of a Deal in India

By Linda Tancs

Maharajas from all over India commissioned the proprietors of Gem Palace in
Jaipur to make jewelry and other precious objects.  Now over 150 years’ strong, India’s version of Harry Winston puts a contemporary flair on traditional Indian design.  Their creations have been exhibited twice at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Too rich for you?  You be the judge.

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