Posts for Heritage & Culture Category

British Monuments in Delhi

Blog, Destinations, Heritage & Culture - GoroadTrip - November 10, 2016

Delhi took over as the capital of India from Calcutta in 1911. The British spent about 20 years to build the city which was designed at the hands of the remarkable architects of those times, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. The result of their persevering hard work is seen even today. The outstanding spacious avenues lined by trees and the remarkable government buildings speak volumes about the innovative architectural skills of the Brits. Many of these buildings are used in an official capacity by the Government of India. Some of these colonial monuments are:

India Gate:

Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyers, India Gate was built to commemorate 70,000 Indian soldiers who were part of the British Army and died in fighting during the First World War. Currently it serves as a tomb for unknown soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces who have lost their lives in wars. An eternal flame known as ‘Amar JawanJyothi’ is kept burning for these brave hearts.

Secretariat Building:

With influences of Mughal and Rajasthani styles, the Secretariat Building displays Indo-Saracenic revival architecture. It has two blocks of proportioned buildings which border the Rashtrapathi Bhavan.

Rashtrapathi Bhavan:

This building is a massive construction with 340 rooms and four floors. Residence of the British Viceroy it now serves as the official home to the President of India. The house has a beautiful Mughal Garden in its backyard.

Parliament House:

Accommodating the two houses of parliament, the Parliament House is a striking circular building. It also houses several committee rooms, ministerial offices and a magnificent library. Built in 1921 in a circular shape resembling the Ashoka Chakra, the Sansad Bhavan is the house of the Parliament of India. Another architectural wonder by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, the SansadBhavan has a large garden bordered with sandstone railings that is designed to replicate the Stupa of Sanchi.

Teen Murthi Bhavan:

Currently sheltering a number of institutions, the Teen MurthiBhavan first served the British as the residence of the Commander-in-chief of the British Indian Army and then was the residence of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for 16 years.

These living testaments to the colonial architecture skills continue to impress and awe.


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12 Majestic Palaces of North India

Destinations, Heritage & Culture - GoroadTrip - October 29, 2016

Palaces in Northern India are wonderful examples of the engineering and architectural marvels of our historical empires. You can see the royalty exuded in the palaces of Rajasthan and the grandeur of the ones built by our mighty Mughal Empire. Some of the most popular palaces are listed below:

Umaid Bhawan Palace, Rajasthan:

Set on Chittar Hill, the UmaidBhawan Palace is the residence of the royal Jodhpur family and the sixth largest private residence in the world. Constructed with palm court marble like Agra’s Taj Mahal, the palace looks over the Blue City of Jodhpur with its enormous sand dunes and majestic Mehrangarh Fort. Surrounded by well-maintained lush gardens that are spread over 26 acres, the property also houses the five-star Taj Palace Hotel and a museum.

Lake Palace, Rajasthan:

Constructed as a summer palace the Lake Palace is on Jagniwas Island on Lake Pichola, Udaipur. It was built during the rule of Maharaja Jagat Singh II. The style of architecture and the designs of the palace are eye catching with its black and white marble floors and arabesque walls. The palace is now run by the luxurious Taj Hotels and Resorts Palaces and is voted to be one of the most romantic palaces of India.

Presidential Palace, Delhi:

Built for the British Viceroy when the capital of India was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi, the Presidential Palace is now the official home of the President of India. The palace is built in a palatial area that includes the Mughal Gardens, staff quarters, large open spaces, stables and offices and is the largest residence of a head of a country in the world in terms of area.

Marble Palace, West Bengal:

Popular for its marble structure, the Marble Palace is situated in North Kolkata. It was built by Raja Rajendra Mullick and houses paintings, sculptors and many valuable pieces. A zoo stands next to the palace.

Cooch Behar Palace, West Bengal:

Modelled on the Buckingham Palace in London, the Cooch Behar Palace was built during the rule of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan. It is built in a classic western style and is a double storeyed brick structure oozing classiness and opulence.

Jahangir Palace, Uttar Pradesh:

Housed inside the Agra Fort, the Jahangiri Mahal was built by Emperor Akbar primarily for the women of the royal household. The palace shows a mix of Hindu and central Asian architecture. The other attractions that speak of the high taste of the Mughals are the Khas Mahal, Deewan-e-Khas, Moti Masjid, Deewan-i-Am and Anguri Bagh.

Ujjayanta Palace, Tripura:

Located in Agartala, the Ujjayanta Palace was constructed by the Tripura King Maharaja Radha Kishore Manikya. It is built on the banks of a small lake and is surrounded by beautiful Mughal Gardens. The palace is now a museum of the state and displays the art, culture, tradition and crafts of the northeast Indian communities.

Jai Vilas Palace, Madhya Pradesh:

One among of the most beautiful, grand and palatial palaces of India, the Jai Vilas Palace stands in the city of Gwalior. Built by Maharaja Jayaji Rao Scindia, the palace is the current residence of the royal Maratha Scindia family.

Anand Bagh Bihar Palace, Bihar:

Also called Lakshmivilas Palace, the AnandBagh Bihar Palace is located in Darbhanga town in Bihar. It was built by Maharaja Lakshmeshwar Singh. It is popular for its gardens that grow rare species of plants like orchids, Rudrakhsa and Sandalwood.

Amar Mahal Palace, Jammu and Kashmir:

Built by a Dogra King, the Amar Mahal Palace is in Jammu. It is in a very scenic location on the banks of the River Tawi offering spectacular views of the magnificent Sivalik Hills. Now a museum, the palace is believed to be the last royal residence of the Dogra Rajas or Suryavanshi Rajputs.

Amar Mahal Palace, Jammu and Kashmir:

Built by a Dogra King, the Amar Mahal Palace is in Jammu. It is in a very scenic location on the banks of the River Tawi offering spectacular views of the magnificent Sivalik Hills. Now a museum, the palace is believed to be the last royal residence of the Dogra Rajas or Suryavanshi Rajputs.

Kangla Palace, Manipur:

Set on the western banks of River Imphal, the Kangla Palace stands at Kangla in Manipur. It was built by Meitei kings and is in the centre of the city. It is now a religious place of worship and ceremonies.

Laxmi Vilas Palace, Gujarat:

Also known as Maharaja Palace, the Laxmi Vilas Palace is in Vadodara. It was built by the Gaekwad dynasty and has an impressive architecture. It is now a museum and also used as a venue for musical concerts and cultural events.

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Deep into the Caves of Andhra Pradesh

Blog, Destinations, Heritage & Culture - GoroadTrip - October 7, 2016

Ever since he had studied about caves in his higher secondary, Roshan had his interest in caves fanned. Now studying in a college in Hyderabad, he convinced four of his friends to join him on an exploration of caves in Andhra Pradesh during their vacation. Andhra Pradesh is geographically inclined towards caves. Formed over centuries, these natural formations are spread all over AP.

The five friends first visited Yaganti Caves in Kurnool district. This natural cave encompasses several other caves like Sanka Cave, Rokalla Cave, Veera Brahman Cave and Venkateshwara Cave. The famous Kalagnanam by Potuluri Veera Brahmam was written in the Yaganti Caves. With so many deities present, the Yaganti Caves has become a popular pilgrimage site. The surrounding scenery and lovely landscape adds to the divine feeling.

Close by in the same Kurnool district, was the famous Belum Caves, so that figured next on their list. Belum caves holds the number one position for the largest and longest cave in India. The roomy chambers, lengthy passages and fresh water pockets in the caves make it a popular tourist destination.

Next cave on their check-listwas Undavalli Caves in Guntur district. These monolithic caves are rock-cut and belong to the 4th century. The caves house four stories. A wonder of the cave is the magnificent reclining statue of Lord Vishnu sculpted from a single granite block. The other shrines to be seen in Undavalli Caves are of Trimurti, Shiva and Brahma. The friends enjoyed the views of the Krishna River and the vast expanse of picturesque landscape around the caves.

Their next headed to nearby Vijayawada for the Mogalarajapuram Caves. It is popular for three cave temples dating back to the 5th century. The friends discovered that only one of the three temples inside the cave was in fairly good condition. The deities found here were of Nataraja and Vinayaka. They were impressed by the architecture of the temples.

The five friends had reserved the best cave for the last visit. Located around 90 kilometres from the port city of Vishakapatnam, the Borra Caves stretch over the Eastern Ghats. These caves are the second largest natural caves in India and occupy about two square kilometres. They are located high up at a height of 1400 feet. What the friends liked best about the Borra Caves was that they were naturally formed limestone caves out of deposits of the Gosthani River. This river when flowing through the solidified stalagmites and stalactites in the caves caused many structures of shapes which resemble idols, things or any other subject. The friends had an amusing time interpreting the shapes as temple, church, Shiva, Parvathi, human brain, crocodile and whatever their wild imaginations let them.

Having completed their ‘cave trip’ satisfactorily the five friends returned to their respective homes to spend what was left of their vacations.

Read our blog post on Caves of Maharashtra

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6 abodes of Muruga, the Tamizh Deity

Blog, Destinations, Festivals/Events, Heritage & Culture, Pilgrimage - GoroadTrip - August 13, 2016

Lord Muruga (Subrahmanya/Karthikeya), son of Shiva and Parvathi and brother of Lord Ganesha (elephant-headed god) is worshiped in Tamil Nadu as the patron deity of Tamizh language. He has six special temples dedicated to him called Aaru Padai Veedu.Thse temples are six camps associated with Muruga’s role as Commander-in-chief of the army of the gods.

The Aaru PadaiVeedus, the Six Holy Abodes (literally: ‘battle camps’) are very important for Muruga or Karthikeya’s devotees. The six temples of Karthikeya are in Tirupparamkundram, Tiruchendur, Tiruvavinankudi (Palani), Tiruverakam (Swamimalai), Tiruttani and Pazhamudircholai.

References to these temples are found in many ancient Tamizh literatures like Silapathikaram. Thirumurugatupadai – sung by the Tamizh saint poet Nakkeerar in 1st century CE – gives prominence to each temple. It also reveal that all these temples were well established even during the Sangam age from 1st to 3rd century CE. It has also been praised by Saint Arunagirinathar in his Thiruppugazh and in Kandar Alankaram.


The first among the six temples of Lord Muruga, Subramaniam Temple at Tirupparunkunram situated 9.5 kms south of Madurai is an ancient shrine dating back to the 2nd century BCE. Legend says that Lord Muruga wed Deyvayanai, daughter of Indra in this temple. This was after Karthikeya’s victory over the demon Soorapadman and the asuras.

The temple is built on the northern side of the hill at an elevation of about 300 feet from the foot of the hill. It has a 150 foot tall gopuram of seven tiers over the entrance. The main sanctum carved into the rock enshrines a well chiseled form of the Lord. Hollowed within the rock, you can find many mandapams with carved pillars, platforms, and other shrines with decorative relief and carvings on all surfaces. All abishekams are performed to the Vel in the main sanctum.

In this temple, unlike the other five, the deity is shown sitting in the kalyanakolam (auspicious/wedding form) with his consort Deivanai.


ArulmiguSubrahmanya Swami Tirukkoil or Thiruchendur Murugan Kovil (temple) is a popular pilgrimage destination situated in the Gulf of Mannar.Second abode in importance among the six homes and unlikethe other five temples situated on hilltops, this abode is on the seashore towards the tip of South India. Thiruchendur, is the Tamil name given to this place due to the abundance of sandalwood paste used in this temple.

It is said that Lord Muruga had set up his army camp in this place during his war against the demon Surapadman.‘Tiruchentil’ means the House of Victory and this is the ‘ooru’ or town in which Muruga’s victory is celebrated! Thiruchendur, the place of ‘chen’—sandalwood paste,is also known as Thirucheeralaivai, Jayanthipuram, ThirubhuvanaMadevi and SathurvediMangalam. The deity is called by different names like Senthilandavan, Senthilkumar in this temple.

The northern and eastern temple walls are washed by the dashing waves of the Gulf of Mannar. The origin of TiruchendurMurugan Temple is not known though the nucleus of the structure is said to have been here for more than 2,000 years as reported by the Tamil Classics. This temple is famous for the ‘Panneer-ilaiVibhuti’, the ash from a herbal leaf. Sri Adi Shankaracharyapraised it and said that just the sight of this sacred ash can cure many diseases.


The temple town of Palani features Karthikeya as a little lad. When the prize mango was given away to Ganesha, Murugabecame annoyed with his parents and came here to sit on top of this hill called TiruAvinankudi at the foot of the Sivagiri Hill. Siva pacified Subrahmanya saying that he was the fruit—pazham—of all wisdom and knowledge; and nee means you. Hence the place was called ‘Pazham Nee’ or Palani.

You had to originally climb many steps to reach the temple and old and infirm people had to be carried by ‘doli’s’ by two sets of porters changing midway at 225 feet height. Today winches carry pilgrims up and down simultaneously.


On the way to Tirupathi from Chennai, to the left of the road you can see Tiruttani (Thiruttani) perched on a rock with its atypical vibrant red and white stripes on the walls.

The word Tiruttani comes from Tirutanikai meaning place of propitiation. (Tamil: Thiru-lord; thanigai-propitiate/cooling down). Muruga’s righteous indignation for the cruelty of the asuras (demons) to all creatures set him against the evil forces in various battles. It is said that his anger cooled down at this place and so it is also known as Shantipuri (abode of peace).

This 2000 year oldtemple is perched on top of a single rock, 700 feet above sea level. Lord Muruga came to rest here after destroying the demon Surapadman. Here Lord Muruga married his second consort, the gypsy girl Valli. The temple can be accessed by a hill road or through a flight of 365 steps, representing the days of the year, that lead up to the shrine.


Swamimalai Temple

The son became his father’steacher in this temple near Kumbakonam. Swamimalai meaning ‘God’s hill’, is an artificially made hill temple called ‘Kattu(built) Malai’.Another very important feature is that there are sixty well-laid steps leading to the temple top. These sixty steps represent the sixty years that constitutes a century in the Hindu calendar.

The temple is on the banks of River Cauvery on the road connecting Kumbakonam to Thiruvaiyaru. In this shrine, Lord Muruga is also known as Swaminathan and ‘Thagappan Swami’ meaning Lord of Shiva, his father.

Swamimalai is world famous for its school that teaches the ancient craft of making bronze icons.



The last temple of the six, this Muruga temple is perched on top of a hill amidst dense forests about 16 kms north of Madurai.It is the only one where Muruga can be seen with both his consorts, Valli and Devayani. Lord Muruga at Pazhamudircholai has been praised in old Tamil literature like the Silappathikaram, Ettuthokai and Pattupattu.

Local tribes continue to lead their traditional lives on this fertile hill with its natural springs and herbs. Even today, the place is very fertile with many trees and different flora and fauna reflecting the vivid description of the place’s natural beauty found in Tirumurugattruppadai of Nakkeerar, the Tamil saint.


The great Tamil saint poetess, Avvaiyar, was given fruit by the little lad Muruga and taught an important lesson in the semantics of Tamizh language

There are 33 Murugan temples in Tamil Nadu. The Tirupporur temple, 45 Km from Chennai, is an ancient temple built during the reign of the Pallava rulers.

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6 British Monuments in Kolkata

Blog, Destinations, Heritage & Culture - GoroadTrip - August 4, 2016

The British always thought ahead. This fact comes across in the use of modern techniques and science in the architecture of all the buildings designed by them. They were rather extravagant too in the use of metals including gold and in the size of their adornments like statues, shields, swords and pillars. Some of the British monuments that have stood the test of time and continue to impress modern day Kolkata are:

Raj Bhavan:

With a majestic outlook, the Raj Bhavan is now the residence of the Governor of West Bengal. Constructed during the governance of Marquess Wellesley, the building has the distinction of having the very first elevator of Kolkata.

Kolkata Town Hall:

Constructed in the Roman Doric style, the Town Hall was built with funds raised through a lottery. It was used for social gatherings.

Howrah Station:

Constructed first in the British period, the Howrah Station housed the second railway line linking Calcutta with Bardhaman coal fields. The first track essentially built for transporting goods eventually evolved into many platforms. Howrah Station is now one of the largest railway terminals of our country.

Writers Building:

Built in a beautiful European style by the British, Writers Building is today the secretariat of the West Bengal State Government. It also incorporates various departments of the state government.

St. Paul’s Cathedral:

This church, built by Bishop Daniel Wilson, showcases the Gothic Revival style of architecture. The beautiful church with its pristine exterior, stained glass windows and murals makes it one of the important attractions of Kolkata.

Victoria Memorial:

Built in the memory of Queen Victoria, the Victoria Memorial is a fine example of both British and Mughal architecture. Conceived by Lord Curzon and designed by Sir William Emerson, the building is built with white Makrana marble. Best at night with its many lights giving it a fairy tale appearance the Victoria Memorial with its lovely gardens standing on the banks of the Hooghly River, is one of the most visited monuments of the British period.


Stamps of the colonial era are left everywhere in our country. Kolkata has a whole chapter to itself.

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