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Dungarpur: Discover Rajasthan’s hidden gem

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Image Courtesy and attribution: Wikipedia

Looking for a break from the bustling and bigger cities of Rajasthan rather an escape into a small land of serenity and a distinct charm? Dungarpur opens its arms wide to welcome you and give you an indelible experience of an utter nomadic delight to cherish forever.

Why should you visit Dungarpur?
Rajasthan hosts some fascinating traditional cities like Udaipur, Jaisalmer, and Jaipur. One place that is not known to many, but has much to offer is Dungarpur. It is situated in the southmost part of the state.

Adjudged as the cleanest, fastest developing, and the first ever open defecation free city in Rajasthan, Dungarpur is famous for its exotic architectural heritage, beautiful temples, royal palaces, sprawling Aravalli range bounded by rivers, and much more. In short, if you have not been to Dungarpur, you have surely missed something.

Dungarpur attractions
There are many worth visiting attractions in Dungarpur. You must explore the wonderful sites named below, to leave yourself amazed and startled.

Juna Mahal
As the name suggests, the grandiose Juna Mahal is an old palace from 13th century. Built on an elevated platform with seven storeys and several unique rooms, it has a not-so-impressive exterior. But once you step in, you will be astonished to see the beautiful paintings and intricate glass work. A true depiction of Rajasthani culture, undoubtedly, it is one of the magnificent places to be in Dungarpur.

Udai Bilas Palace
Yet another name that speaks of opulence and colorful Rajasthani luxe, is Udai Bilas palace. Situated near the Gaib Sagar lake, it is now reincarnated as a hotel. Be ready to get spellbound as you catch a glimpse of the temple floating in the lake, while you sip your coffee sitting in the sprawling lawn of the Udai Bilas Palace hotel.

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Badal Mahal
One not to miss place in Dungarpur is Badal Mahal which is also built on the shore of Gaib Sagar Lake. It is a beautiful concoction of the Rajputana and Mughal architecture. Characterized with expansive domes and elaborate design, Badal Mahal is a must visit.

Nagfanji
This is a place that boasts of having Jain shrines that attract tourists especially Jain devotees from various parts of the country. The impressive temple has Devi Padmawati statue along with the statues of Nagfanji Parshwanatha and Dharnendra.

Galiakot
To see this inimitable site, you will have to cover quite a distance, but it is worth traveling. It is located at a 60-kilometer distance from Dungarpur. On the banks of the Mahi river, it is a shrine of Syed Fakhruddin. Adorned with white marble with Quran teachings intricated on the walls, Galiakot is a place that will not fail to impress you.

Deo Somnath
Deo Somnath is a beautiful Shiva temple which is situated on the banks of Som river. It is located 25 km from Dungarpur. It was built in an early as 12th century. A temple made up of white stones, has extraordinary towers and domes. It houses the statue of the deity as well as the memorials of the warriors.

Gaib Sagar Lake
Watching the Gaib Sagar lake from a distance is a treat to eyes. You may find a variety of attractive migratory birds, beautiful ducks, colorful herons, moorhens, waterhens, pigeons etc. by the lakeside.

It is a mesmerizing picnic spot especially at the time of sunset. The tourist attractions like Shrinathji, Vijay Rajrajeshwar Temple, Badal Mahal, and Udai Bilas Palace, that are located on the bank of the lake, make the spot even more stunning.

9 famous places to visit in Coorg , Karnataka

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Coorg, the most opulent hill station of Kodagu district, is popularly known as the Scotland of India. The reason which made Coorg one of the best luxurious holiday destinations in Karnataka is the presence of many beautiful places which one can visit, almost all around the year.

In fact, among all the hill stations present in the country, Coorg is the first choice of tourists from all over the country and abroad because of its unparalleled natural beauty and pleasant climate.

Apart from offering spectacular scenery, Coorg also lets its visitors enjoy the enriching experience of staying at Coorg Resorts in-between nature. Cottages in Coorg provide an enthralling experience of the place and its local life.

Moreover, Coorg is not only about visiting an awe-inspiring holiday destination, but it also offers plenty of fun activities like trekking, camping, bike adventures, river rafting, and much more.

Here is a list of few different tourist spots that one must visit, while in Coorg.

  • Nagarhole National Park

The Nagarhole National Park is among the renowned wildlife sanctuaries in our country with its wide range of flora and fauna. Apart from several animal species present there, it is also home to 270 recorded species of birds.

It is among those national parks of India that one can visit at any time of the year because of the lovely weather of Coorg. Many budget-friendly luxurious homestays in Coorg make it tremendously favorable and truly dreamy to stay in the lively forest area and visit the park conveniently.

  • Abbey Falls

Abbey or Abbi in Coorg is the mesmerizing waterfall located between the scores of coffee plantations. Due to the existence of much more fascinating sightseeing around, there is a tremendous increase in the number of tourists visiting the Abbey Falls over the years. Coorg’s pleasant temperature and cool breeze make the trip to this attractive place even more pleasurable.

  • Whitewater Rafting

White River Rafting in Barapole River is a must to do activity in Coorg. The river surrounding the lovely landscapes and its white-water rapids makes the river rafting experience more thrilling and exciting. The river also offers a scenic view of the exotic Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, as a boon.

  • Namdroling Monastery

Namdroling Monastery is one of the extraordinary unmatched experiences among the Coorg Tourist Places. Namdroling is also known as the Golden Temple because of the detailed gold paintings adorning the monastery walls.

In this Tibetan monastery, one can find a wide array of collections of a canvas depicting certain phases of Buddha’s life, demons, gods, and culture. This beautiful monastery is quite famous for its stunning architecture that reflects the beauty and significance of this art form.

  • Raja’s Seat
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Raja’s Seat used to be the popular leisure place for the Kings of Kodagu, where they love to spend time with their queens.

It is always flocked with large numbers of tourists, either visiting from distant parts of the country or Bengaluru because of its beautiful mountain ranges, seasonal garden flowers, and artificial musical fountains. Here, you can also enjoy beautiful sunrise and sunsets, while a toy train safari will keep your kids busy.

  • Tadiandamol Peak

Tadiandamol is a trekker’s paradise which is the second-highest peak in Karnataka and the highest in the Coorg region. The Tadiandamol Peak sited at an elevation of 1748m above sea level makes it the best spot for nature photography.

The presence of grassy terrain and gentle slopes lures the visitors with its scenic charm. The Tadiandamol trekking trail is the popular adventurous activity in Kodagu.

  • Chettalli

The coffee plantations surround the Chettalli square, which attracts tourists with its sweet aroma. Chettalli Waterfall is the favorite tourist spot there as one has to cross two streams and walk a few miles through the coffee plantations and rich Shola Forests to reach the Falls. Chettalli is home to a unique Indian Institute of Horticultural Research. The Todikana temple here is a point of reference, from where one can start the walk towards the fall and the hike.

  • Talacauvery

Talacauvery or Talakaveri, a holy place for Hindus, is among the admired tourist spots in Coorg. It has high religious importance and thus attracts devotees in large numbers.

River Kaveri is known to be the source for Talakaveri, as it is among one of the seven sacred rivers of Sapta Sindhus. It is believed that the river originates from a small spring called a Brahma Kundike and Tirtha Kundike. Often pilgrims visit a temple here that is located at 1276 m above sea level.

  • Somwarpet

Somwarpet, a panchayat town, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Coorg District. There are many tourist spots present in this region which keep the visitors engaged in various activities.

A village called, Doddamalthe is situated at a distance of 6 km from Somwarpet, where a beautiful lake Honnamana Kere is present. This lake is known to be one of the largest lakes in the Coorg region.

8 things you need to know about INR 4000 crore luxurious Jai Vilas Palace in Gwalior

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Image Credit: By Mohitkjain123 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21272957

Gwalior is a historic city in Madhya Pradesh, India and is famous for its architectural monuments, enchanting palaces, and famous temples.

Gwalior, the heart of Modern India, often attracts unnumbered tourists from across the globe. Historical buildings play a significant role as it attracts tourists and also increases cultural tourism in India. Jai Vilas Palace of Gwalior is among such ancient palaces. The Vilas is also home to a treasure of antiques and gadgets of ancient times.

Here are eight lesser-known facts about Jai Vilas Place, Gwalior:

Jai Vilas Palace Durbar Hall’s majestic carpet

Durbar Hall of Jai Vilas Palace is one of the main tourist attractions. It is 50 feet in width, 41 feet in height, and 100 feet in length. It features magnificent interiors decorated with 560 Kg gold and gilt ornamentation.

The luxurious carpet covers this grand hall. It is known as one of the largest carpets in the world. The weaving of this huge carpet was finished in 12 years by the prisoners of the Gwalior Fort. It also features the two most world’s famous crystal chandeliers imported from Vienna.

The Great Train Banquet of Solid Silver

Madho Rao Scindia in 1906 ordered the silver toy train from a famous British Toy Rail company, Bassett Lowke, that ran along with the royal dining table in the Banquet Hall of the Vilas Palace.

For this train to move, small tracks were laid on the table, where the model train would carry after dinner liquors, ports, and cigars to the guests of Maharaja. The engine and carriages of the train were made up of silver and crystal containers.

Jai Vilas Palace Museum

The Jiwajirao Scindia Museum expanded across 35 rooms out of 400 rooms of the palace. The museum displays various splendid collections of furniture, royal carriages, silver buggy, silver chariot, portraits of the Scindia royal family, lithographs of Tipu Sultan and Napoleon, vintage luxury cars, etc.

The museum is home to the collection of swords dated back to the reign of Mughal rulers, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. It also has an original shield of Queen Lakshmibai. Traditional boat-shaped turbans of Scindia’s were displayed there too.

Art Gallery and Library in the Vilas Museum

The museum also houses a well-equipped royal library and Chitrangada Raje Art Gallery. The library has a collection of around 5000 books from various subjects associated with the palace’s theme. It includes books that give you in-depth details about the role of rulers of Gwalior in World War I.

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The main motive behind setting up the Art Gallery is to allow the craftsman and artisans of the country to showcase their talent and work to the international audience. And, to publicize the cultural and artistic heritage of Gwalior too.

Jai Vilas Palace was built to Welcome the then ruler of England

This magnificent palace was established by Jayaji Rao Maharaj when he invited England’s ruler, King Edward VII, to visit Gwalior.

He planned to construct Jai Vilas Palace for his reception. To build this 400-room majestic palace, he hired the French architect, Sir Michel Philos. Afterward, it became the residence of the descendants of the Scindia Dynasty. In 1964, the Vilas palace was made open to the commoners.

Pair of 3500 Kg Chandelier

The center of attraction of Vilas Place is a unique pair of 3500 kg chandeliers of Durbar Hall. These chandeliers were so heavy that before hanging them on the roof, architects suspended eight elephants from the top to see whether the roof could withstand the weight of the chandelier or not.

Continuously for seven days, they were mounted to prove that the roof can endure twice its weight, only after which chandeliers were installed. These two gigantic chandeliers are around 12.5m high, with 250 bulbs placed inside them. This chandelier is the world’s largest chandelier and the heaviest in Asia.

Palace Worth Rs. 4000 Crore

Jai Vilas Palace was established in 1874 under the guidance of Maharaja Jayaji Rao Scindia. The palace valued at INR 1 crore at that time, and today its value is more than INR 4000 crores.

This splendid European architecture is a three-storied palace, a beautiful combination of Tuscan, Italian, and Corinthian designs. The 400-room Jai Vilas palace has Italian marble flooring, Persian rugs, and all other decorated items from Italy, France, and China.

Inherited by the grandson of Scindia

Jyotiraditya Madhav Rao Scindia, the Grandson of Jivaji Rao Scindia is the present heir of this 19th-century palace. Currently, he owns a property worth around $27 million, including the inherited Jai Vilas Palace, a perk of being born in the Gwalior princely dynasty.

Things to explore in Jodhpur for the first-time traveller

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The second biggest city in the Indian territory of Rajasthan, Jodhpur, is also called the blue city of India. Additionally, it is also called the Sun City because of the excessive heat waves that enter the city throughout the year. Hence, due to the scorching heat, indigo-painted homes are popular in this Blue City, because during the hot weather, indigo color acts as a natural coolant.  

The majestic Fort that overshadows this blue city is Mehrangarh Fort, which is best known for its masterly architectural design. Though not much touristy, it would be unfair to miss this beauty when you are on your Rajasthan trip.

Here is a definitive first-time traveler’s guide to the Blue City of India:

Ways to reach the Blue City of Jodhpur

Jodhpur’s Blue City is in between the ‘golden triangle’ route. One can easily reach here by bus or train from Ajmer, Udaipur, Jaipur, Agra, or by air from Delhi and few other places. And if you want an easy and stress-free ride, one can also hire a personal driver to reach there by car. Once reached, you can hire an Uber, Ola, or local rickshaw to get around the city.

Best things to see, experience, and shop in Jodhpur

There are many exquisite places to visit in Jodhpur. Some of them are:

  • Mandore Gardens: Mandore was the capital of Marwar before Jodhpur, which is at a short distance to the north of the focal point of Jodhpur. The focus of attraction is its nurseries covered with rock porches and are home to perky dim Langurs.
  • Umaid Bhawan Palace: This beautiful castle was built in 1929 for Maharaja Umaid Singh, by the British draftsman Henry Lanchester. He hired around 3000 laborers, which took 15 years to complete the 365 rooms palace. The Museum located there incorporates a classic art-décor interior and an exclusive collection of elaborate clocks.
  • Jaswant Thada: Jaswant Thada, located near Mehrangarh Fort, is a tombstone built-in 1889. It’s a cremation ground for the royal family of Marwar with magnificent carved marble-lattice screens.
  • Clock Tower: The ancient Clock Tower is a city-landmark surrounding the vibrant sound, smells, and Sadar Market. The clock tower is a great place to shop exclusive shawls, silky scarves, and Rajasthani touch dyes, carpets, bangles, puppets, and antique artifacts.
  • Toorji Ka Jhalra: It is a spectacular step-well with its clean lines and fish fill water. This baori built-in 1740 was the foremost source of water during that time, and its multilevel steps will let you reach the water at any level.
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Places to enjoy tasty food in Jodhpur

In the blue city, there are numerous places where you can enjoy the food with some traditional folk dancers and snake charmers performing for you. Mentioned are a few places and where you can savor the local delicacies.

  • Rajasthani Thali: Gypsy, one of the Rajasthani restaurants in Jodhpur, serves authentic Thalis with many typical and different flavors dishes on one plate. The Thali will have a bowl of plain rice, puri, naan, dry vegetables, lentil, a selection of curries, and many more things that can make your food a tasty one. One should not forget to eat the most famous food of Jodhpur, the Mirchi Vada.
  • Haveli Castle View: Castle View, a rooftop restaurant, involves exploring a maze of blue-narrow streets, and once you are on the top of that castle, you can see Mehrangarh Fort directly in front of you. It is a great spot to view the sunset with Indique drink or al fresco dining when the whole city is glittering.
  • Risala, Umaid Bhawan: It is another fine dining luxurious place that lets you enjoy your food at its best in the Palace.
  • Chokelao Mahal Restaurant: This restaurant is inside the Mehrangarh Fort, where you can reach with a special jeep that ferries you from the gate.Here, the food is served in Silver Thali that takes you back to ancient times.

Fairs and festivals of Jodhpur

Jodhpur is the centre of attraction in India when we talk about celebrations and festivities. This ancient blue city looks more vibrant during the month of festivals full of dances, folk music, local delicacies, and colors. Major festivals take place in the month between September to October, and hence it is the best time to plan your trip to the blue city.  Some of the famous festivals celebrated here are:

  • Maand Festival or Marwar Festival: This two-day festival is celebrated on the eve of Sharad Poornima to pay tribute to the heroes of Rajasthan. It is celebrated at Umaid Bhavan Palace, Mehrangarh Fort, and Mandore through dance and music performances by the local artists.
  • International Desert Kite Festival: This festival is celebrated between 14th to 16th January each year, in which the best kite flyers from all over the country gather on the Polo Grounds to showcase their skills. The player whose kites soars high in the sky by cutting their opponents’ kites is declared the winner.