The Rail Museum in Mysore is a fantastic get away for 2-3 hours for anyone who loves Trains. With an impressive collection of vintage Trains from the British Era, this museum takes you back in time and provides a charming and romantic experience of Indian Railways. The 2 standout exhibits are the 1925 built Austin Rail Car and 1899 vintage Maharani Saloon with royal dining area, kitchen and washroom. I also liked the steam engine which used wood instead of coal and plied between Bangalore and Tumkur. The other noteworthy collection consists of vintage equipment like morse code system, telephones, signals and station clocks! Next time you are in Mysore, spare a couple of hours for the Rail Museum. It is worth it.
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Belur Temple and Halebid are magnificent specimens of Hoysala architecture and great weekend getaways from Bangalore. Belur temple which is one of the more popular tourist places in Karnataka, is dedicated to Lord Chennakesava and is famous for its magnificent sculptures.. Nearby Halebid is another gem among weekend getaways from Bangalore and has equally ornate temples in the form of Hoysalesvara and Shantalesvara. The temple complex has scores of episodes from the great Hindu epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana engraved into the walls, making it popular among tourist places in Karnataka. Belur and Halebid can make a memorable weekend getaway from Bangalore where apart from temple architecture one can also experience a flavor of life in rural india. The best way to experience these villages is by taking a Bullock cart ride through them!
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Jaisalmer, one of the finest places to visit in Rajasthan is an oasis in the great Indian Thar Desert. Formerly a part of the magnificent Silk Route, Jaisalmer will bedazzle you with its magnificent Jaisalmer Fort, the enchanting sand dunes, desert camp Jaisalmer, Sonar Killa of Satyajit Ray, Patwa havelis or the palatial homes of erstwhile silk route merchants and puppet shows.These jewels of Rajasthan make Jaisalmer one of the most popular places to visit in Rajasthan. I also found 3 off beat but equally interesting places in the form of fossils from a 180 million year old forest, Memorials of Queens who jumped into funeral pyre of dead Kings and a cursed ghost town called Kuldhara, all of which make Jailsalmer a must among places to visit in Rajasthan.
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Pondicherry is a lovely beach holiday couple of hours away from Chennai. Pondicherry is synonymous with its French Legacy and Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram. Auroville, the universal town and an experiment in Human Unity is probably the most interesting attraction here. It is worth visiting Pondicherry just to appreciate some of its magnificent monuments like The Statue of Dupleix, Place Du Government and War memorial, courtesy it’s 300 year French Legacy. Another compelling reason to visit Pondicherry would be its magnificent beaches on the 32 km coastline. Take a leisurely walk on the tree-lined boulevards along the seashore and you will forget all your worries!
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The Bangalore Palace belonging to the Wodeyar Kings of Mysore is a majestic structure built in Tudor Style. The Palace has fortified towers, battlements and turrets. Interiors look regal with elegant wood carvings, floral motifs, and relief paintings. With furniture in Edwardian and Victorian themes, the Bangalore Palace has a striking resemblance to the Windsor Castle of England. The audio tour provides a rich detail of the life and times of the Wodeyar Kings and their relationship with the British Empire.
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Russia is an amazing holiday destination. It is best visited during the festival season. The Russian festivals reveal the rich cultural tradition and fascinating customs of its people. While the festivals stem from the Christian legacy Russia shares with Europe and America, the manner of celebration is really unique. My advice would be to plan a Russian holiday during the festival time and rest assured the memories will last a lifetime! Here is an account of 4 of the most popular Russian festivals.
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Verul Leni, better known as Ellora Caves are one of the finest specimens of rock cut architecture in India. Located near the Indian City of Aurangabad, Ellora Caves are a set of 34 caves excavated out of the Charanandri hills. This UNESCO world heritage site has a mix of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain caves. Built between 5th and 10th century, Ellora caves are located on an ancient trade route and hence unlike the Ajanta Caves were never lost and have always been frequented over the years.
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Ajanta Caves are a magnificent set of 30 rock cut Buddhist caves. Famous for Buddhist Paintings and Sculpture, Ajanta Caves are a UNESCO world heritage site. More than half a million tourists visit Ajanta Caves every year to look at the spectacular collection of Murals and sculptures. The cultural influence of Ajanta during the 1st and 2nd century BC not only extended all over India but also to far flung areas like Java in modern Indonesia. Ajanta Caves definitely feature in my list of places to see before you die.
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Gangaikonda Cholapuram was a city built in 1025 by Rajendra Chola, son of the famous Chola emperor Raja Raja. It was meant to commemorate his victory over the Pala Empire across the Ganges. Gangaikonda Cholapuram served as the capital of the mighty Chola Empire for 250 years and is most famous for its Shiva Temple. The other highlights of this lost city of Cholas are The Royal Palace made of burnt brick, a Giant Nandi and a magnificent Lion figure next to the Well where the King poured the Ganges water brought from his conquests.
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Madurai is a remarkable City in Tamil Nadu, most famous for the 2500 year old Meenakshi Temple, Sangam Tamil Literature and the architectural marvel of Thirumalai Nayakar Palace. Chennai to Madurai is easily reachable as there are both trains and buses to Madurai. Read on for suggestions for Hotels in Madurai and what to see in Madurai.
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Dubrovnik is a beautiful heritage city along the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. Due to its romantic charm, Dubrovnik is widely considered as one of the top 10 best places to be during Valentine’s Day. Dubrovnik has evolved over the last 500 years from a flourishing Port on the Adriatic rivaling Venice in the medieval times to the premier holiday destination of Croatia. A few compelling reasons for visiting Dubrovnik in Croatia are the magical Adriatic experience, Gothic Renaissance architecture, Dubrovnik Summer festival and Caving right inside the Airport!
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Byblos the ancient Phoenician city is today a picturesque Mediterranean Seaside town in Lebanon and is an exotic holiday destination near Beirut. Widely believed to be one of the oldest habitable cities, Byblos captivates both the archaeologist and the casual tourist. Some of the reasons why Byblos is a great holiday in Lebanon is that, it gives a glimpse of the Phoenician way of life, connection with the Romans and the Crusades, an ancient Port, its impeccable location on the beautiful Mediterranean coast with sandy beaches & grand mountains and accessibility from Beirut.
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The Churches of Goa are generally all great specimens of Portuguese Baroque style of architecture. Many of these churches are a landmark in the history of Christianity. The churches of Old Goa remind us of a bygone era when it rivaled the magnificence of Rome. In fact Goa was known as the Pearl of the Orient in the 16th and 17th centuries.
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The Khmer Emperors of modern day Cambodia had built many cities each more remarkable than the other. Angkor Thom was the last city built by the Khmer Rulers before their decline. Angkor Thom also is the most enduring city ever built by the Khmers. Built in the 12th century by Jayavarman VII, Angkor Thom houses magnificent temples like Bayon, Baphuon, and Phimeanakas. Angkor Thom is so fantastic that some believe its only competition is from Atlantis, the lost world of Plato!
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Angkor Wat is the world’s largest Temple and the best preserved specimen of Khmer Architecture. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Angkor Wat is more than a Temple and a World Heritage Site. Angkor Wat today stands for Cambodia and is in fact featured in its national flag. It is popularly believed that Angkor Wat is a miniature replica of the Universe in Stone. One of the true wonders of this World, Angkor Wat is a must visit during one’s lifetime.
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Lepakshi is a treasure trove of Temples, Paintings and other cultural works of the famed Vijayanagara Empire. Located at about 120 Kms north of Bangalore, Lepakshi is renowned for 3 shrines of Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra. The Veerabhadra temple which is built on a low hill called Kurma Sailam due to its tortoise shape, is a great exhibition of the architecture of Vijaynagara Empire. In fact Lepakshi has been cited in 'Skandapurana', the ancient India script, as one of the hundred and eight important 'Shaiva Kshetras' or Shrines of Lord Shiva. To me Lepakshi was a delightful synthesis of architecture, sculpture and painting.
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There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who have seen the Taj Mahal and those who haven’t. The Taj Mahal is probably the world’s most recognizable and beautiful man-made structure in the world. Interestingly, there are many mysteries and hidden secrets about the Taj Mahal. Some say that there was to be another Taj Mahal built with black marble adjacent to the White wonder! The mysteries remain unresolved but there is consensus on the fact that no other entity in this world personifies eternal love better than The Taj Mahal.
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Kerala is often called God’s Own Country for its natural beauty. What is a little less known is that the People of this God’s Own Country also celebrate some of the world’s most colorful festivals. Vishnu, the New Year festival is a special occasion for every Keralite, when the New Year is welcomed with prayers and colorful festivities. It usually falls on April 14th of Gregorian calendar.
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The Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO world heritage site, was built by the Ming Emperors of China. This Taoist temple is an architectural wonder and was built near the Forbidden City in modern day Beijing. In ancient times the Ming Emperors used to leave the Forbidden City twice a year and visit the Temple of Heaven to offer prayers for a better harvest. The temple had its role during the world wars when it was turned into a base camp for the allied forces. Today the park around the Temple of Heaven serves as a great place for exercising for thousands of Beijing residents every morning!
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Talakadu is an ancient town on the banks of river Cauvery, famous for Talakadu Panchalinga Darshan and has today become a good weekend getaway from Bangalore. Talakadu story can be traced back to the Ganga kings of 3rd century AD. Talakadu trip is also about a legendary curse from a pious Queen! As per the Talakadu story the Queen's curse turned the once flourishing town into a desert. The old Talakadu town is buried under a mile of sand. Today Talakadu trip is about pilgrimage and picnics. Talakadu trip from Bangalore is a 3 hours drive. Talakadu trip from Mysore will take only an hour.
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Tranquebar is a sleepy fishing village on the Coromandel Coast of India. Not many know that Tranquebar was a prosperous trading post of the Danish in the early 17th century!
Tranquebar is a perfect destination for an exotic holiday where you want to relax in a tranquil environment and perhaps rediscover some secrets from the past. Some highlights in the Tranquebar menu are a heavenly beach, magnificent specimens of Danish architecture, a church where the first Bible was printed in Tamil language and the 400 year old Fort Dansborg.
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Badami is the ancient capital of the Chalukyas. It is famous for its sandstone cave temples.
Badami is 500 kms from Bangalore on the Hubli Sholapur rail route. You can make it on a 12 hour bus ride or with a combination of an overnight train journey from Bangalore to Hospet followed by a short bus ride from Hospet to Badami. The nearest airport is 150 kms away at Belgaum. Badami is best visited between September-February. Summers are extremely hot and better avoided.
On the banks of Tungabhadra River near Hospet in Karnataka, lies Hampi, where the ruins of the great Vijayanagara Empire can be found today. Founded by Hairhara and Bukka, the empire fell by 1565 to Muslim sultans. Even though the once proud city of victory lies in ruins today, it has a sense of timelessness. It was referred to as Kishkinda during Ramayana era while in modern times Jackie Chan and Mallika Sherawat starred in the movie “Myth” with Hampi as the backdrop! You can call this UNESCO world heritage site as one of the world’s largest open air museums.
Read more: 7 reasons why Hampi is the world's largest open air museum