India the cradle of civilizations
India is the 7th largest country in the world in landmass, but the second largest in the world in terms of population. The world’s biggest democracy, a uniquely diverse country that has no equal in today’s world. Many famous personalities from across the globe have termed India as the land of the mystics. India is the spiritual capital of the world that embraces the good of the world. The people of India have inherited one of the oldest belief systems in the world. These ancient beliefs have come with its unique set of cultures and traditions, developed as a result of 1000’s of years of continuous practice.
Millions of international tourists come to India in search of last remaining traces of the proud Vedic legacy that once inherited these lands. Old temples and various other heritage monuments are all that remains of the glorious past of the Indian civilization. India backed by such a long history naturally comes with a lot of UNESCO world heritage sites. No pictures could do justice to the magnificence of these structures. It has to be seen with naked eyes to enjoy the real beauty that it exuberates.
India is a vast country hence planning your trip is essential, these UNESCO sites are spread across the length and breadth of the country. Visiting all of them would be a herculean task, hence, I would suggest a couple of monuments that is a must see in your life. In recent years the number of flight booking from Canada to India has increased at an astronomical pace.
Taj Mahal, Agra
Taj Mahal is a universal symbol of love and it has been preserved as a UNESCO world heritage site since its inception in 1983. Build between 1631 and 1648 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz is a must-see for all love-birds. All most all the heads of state and members of the diplomatic mission makes it a point they visit the historic Taj Mahal while visiting India. Justin Trudeau the Honorable Prime minister of Canada visited the Taj Mahal with his beloved wife and his 3 children, they even took a couple of photos with Taj Mahal as background. Taj Mahal is located in a 17 hectare well kept Mughal Garden, on the bank of river Yamuna, giving it that majestic look as we know it.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Taj Mahal is during the winter from October to March, as the temperature is relatively moderate. The Nights can be chilly from November to February dropping to as low as 6 degrees and as high 22 degrees, avoid May to June months at all cost as the temperature might climb to above 40 degrees, backed with high humidity can cause a lot of discomforts. Try visiting the monument during the morning hours as these hours see minimum tourists but as the day progresses the tourist numbers increase dramatically and it becomes difficult to experience the Taj to its fullest. Taj Mahal is generally closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are a no go day as well because these days experience huge crowds, due to the obvious reasons.
How to reach Taj Mahal
Agra is 204 km from Delhi, 235 km from Jaipur and 125 km from Gwalior – these three places are the main tourism hubs surrounding Agra. Flights to and from Delhi are the most frequent, followed by Jaipur so consider this fact as well when finalizing the ticket purchase. You could take a train ride from Delhi to Agra, which usually takes 2 to 3 hours or hop on to a taxi. Taxi usually takes 4 to 5 hours to reach, there are options to rent cars for a day if you fancy an adventure. Uber is thriving in India, hence you could try it if you are interested, Ola an Indian version of Uber is also available for travelers who are looking for a desi touch. If you live near Toronto, you are lucky, there are a lot of cheap flights from toronto to delhi.
Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra
Located in western India, in the Sea of Oman close to the state of Maharashtra is the Elephanta Islands, also known as the ‘city of caves’, the island is filled with archaeological remains that describes the glorious past. The caves and the sculptures date back to the 2nd century BC, these are a living testimony of the exemplary artworks India is world-famous for. The Caves depict the Civic architecture and remain as one of the most important collections of Shiva architecture present in today’s world.
History and the relevance of Elephanta Caves
In Ancient India the people were divided on the opinion of who is the strongest God, some said it is Shiva and others Proclaimed it was Vishu. Shiva is the God of destruction, power, eternal glory, Shiva is considered as a warrior and an astute figure in Indian methodology who through ancient texts and folk lords have gained a cult following. People started to worship him as Devadi Deva (the god above gods), his different incarnations were also worshiped by his devotees as a way to attain moksha in the afterlife. Similarly, Vishu did too had similar cult followings and dedicated scriptures, sculptures representing his greatness. Slowly these cults disappeared as decades passed by and these sculptures are the reminiscence of India’s past glory.
How to get there?
Elephanta Caves is located on an island 7 km from the city of Mumbai (Mumbai is called the city that never sleeps, it is also known as the city of dreams), the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, is the second busiest airport in India. Mumbai is well connected with the world no wonder it is called the commercial and Industrial capital of India. There are a lot of flights connecting the various Canadian cities with Mumbai. Once you reach Mumbai, Install Uber and book a cab to the GateWay of India location. There is a ferry service connecting the Gateway of India to the island, usually taking 1 to 2 hours. The boat trip from the mainland to the island in itself is an interesting experience. The ferry service to the Island is shut on Mondays. Canadians are lucky enough to have plenty of cheap international flights from all the major airports to Mumbai.
The former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, the old town of Hampi boasts a large number of temples, old buildings, beautiful architecture. The ancient capital city is located on the banks of the Tungabhadra river in Karnataka, it is an auspicious religious center, the world-famous Virupaksha Temple is located among these ruins. Hindu pilgrims from all over the world visit the temple to pay homage to Lord Shiva. The city is located in Bellary district in Karnataka State. Bangalore is the biggest city in Karnataka, it is called the IT capital of India. Hampi has won Asia’s top emerging site award for 2019. People who want to lose themselves in the past and get a glimpse of India’s rich past history and heritage can enjoy the beautiful architectural marvel that the old city has to offer.
History of Hampi
The Hampi story starts with a popular folk lord describing two local chieftains, Hakka and Bukka, reporting to their Guru an unusual sight they saw during a hunting expedition. A hare chased by their Hound suddenly turned courageous and started chasing back the hound. The guru, Vidyaranya, told them that this place is very auspicious and asked them to establish their local capital in that location. The Vijayanagara empire was born. The empire lasted for more than 200 plus years from 1336 AD – 1565 AD, at the peak of its power the Vijayanagara Kingdom occupied the whole of South India. King Krishnadeva Raya(1509-1529 AD) of the Tuluva Dynasty is the famous king that ruled the Vijayanagara Kingdom, the Krishna Temple in Hampi was built to celebrate the victory over the Gajapathi kings of Utkala (Present-day Orissa State). As with many empires, Vijayanagara too faded away, leaving behind a ghost town.
How to reach Hampi?
Visitors who want to travel to Hampi are better off landing in the Bangalore International Airport, There are cheap flights from all the major cities in Canada. There are well-connected roads from Bangalore to Hampi (300 km) and it is easy to take a taxi or rent a car for your convenience. There are frequent bus services from Bangalore to Hampi, if you are looking to interact with friendly locals then this is the best mode to go. Cheap tickets are available from all the large cities in Canada to Bangalore. There are a lot of round trip flights available from Canada to India vise versa, making your travel experience a complete joy.
India has about 37 world heritage sites spread across the country. Most of these sites represent the glorious history that India as a country had experienced in the past centuries. India may be a new country, But Bharat as an identity and civilization had existed as far back as the first human settlement in the world. These monuments are the living examples of India’s forefathers and the legacy that they left behind. These heritages represent the very core of India’s existence, a reminiscence of the past events that shaped the future of India as we know it. To know more about the same check the Government of India website.