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Landmarks of India

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Landmarks of India

The Golden Temple, Amritsar

The Golden Temple was first built by the fifth guru, Guru Arjun Singhji, to house the Granth Sahib - the holy book of the Sikhs. It was rebuilt in 1803 by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The temple is also known as Darbar Sahib or Hari Mandir Sahib. The temple is located in Amritsar and is the holiest place of the Sikh faith. It is built in the middle of a holy pool. The dome of the temple is covered by a gold leaf. The interior decoration consists of inlay work done with semi-precious stones in a delicate floral design.

The Akal Takht (or the immortal throne) was established near the temple by the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Singhji. It is the seat of the supreme head of the Sikh religious authority.

Qutab Minar

Qutab-ud-din Aibak, founder of the first of the five dynasties known as the Delhi Sultanate, built this earliest surviving Islamic structure in India. Located about 9 miles south of Connaught Place in Delhi, construction of this tower was started in 1199. It was completed by another Muslim king, Iltutmish. Made of sandstone, its fluted form narrows at the top. This tower (minar) is 238 feet tall and consists of five progressively shorter stories that are separated by balconies. Inscriptions from the Quran are inlaid in the stone to form bands of intricate designs. In front of the imposing structure is an iron pillar and beside it is a mosque. It is commonly believed that Qutab Minar set the tone for Islamic architecture in India.

Jama Masjid

One of the country's largest mosques, this is handsome structure where thousands of Muslims offer prayer even today. Located across the Red Fort in Delhi, this grand structure was also built by Shah Jahan. It was completed in 1656. It highlights the Mughal kings' commitment to religion and prayer.

 

Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi

The official residence of the President of India was built on Raisina Hill near Parliament House. This magnificent sandstone building was designed by Lutyens as the home of the British Viceroys of India. It was completed in 1929 and combines the best of both Indian and western architecture. The building is crowned by an impressive dome.

Built on 330 acres, it overlooks a beautiful Mughal garden and sits on one end of Rajpath, the site of Republic Day (January 26) parades. Rashtrapati Bhawan has 340 rooms, 18 staircases, 74 lobbies and 37 fountains. The Durbar Hall and the Ashoka Hall within the complex is where the president hosts visiting dignitaries and swears in the Prime Minister and his or her cabinet.

India Gate

This 42-meter high structure is located on the other end of Rajpath from the Rashtrapati. Also designed by Lutyens as a war memorial, it has the names of Indian soldiers who died in World War I inscribed on it. An eternal flame, a tribute to the Unknown Soldier, was placed under the arch in 1971.

Lotus Temple

A recent architectural marvel of the Bahai faith, this marble temple is in the form of a blossoming lotus. Completed in 1986, its main hall is designated as a place of meditation. The temple is a symbol of the spiritual unity of mankind. Located in South Delhi near Kalkaji, it is surrounded by acres of gardens.

Red Fort

Also known as the Lal Qila (Lal - red, Qila - fort), the fort is laid out along the river Yamuna as an irregular octagon. It is surrounded by a wall of about 2.4 km circumference built of red sandstone. The Mughal ruler Shah Jahan transferred his capital from Agra to Delhi, and 9 years later in 1648 the fort was completed. The fort has two main entrances, the Delhi Gate and the Lahori Gate. The latter faces Chandni Chowk, the city's most crowded and diverse market.

The fort has the Diwa-e-am, where the king would grant audience to the public to listen to their grievances. The other feature is the Diwan-e-Khas (khas means "special") where the king would grant audience to important people.

Taj Mahal - Wonder of the World

Taj Mahal, a mausoleum that was built on the southern bank of the Yamuna (Jumna) River, outside Agra in India, by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Arjumand Banu Begam (also called Mumtaz Mahal, of which the name Taj Mahal is a corruption). She died in childbirth in the town of Burhanpur in 1631, after having been the emperor's inseparable companion since their marriage in 1612. The building was commenced around 1632 by plans prepared by a council of architects from India, Persia, Central Asia, and beyond. More than 20,000 workmen were employed daily to complete the mausoleum itself by about 1643 and the immediate adjuncts (mosques, wall and gateway) by about 1649. The entire Taj complex took 22 years to complete, at a cost of 40,000,000 rupees.

Sun Temple, Konark

One of the most stunning symbols of ancient Indian architecture, the Sun temple is the crowning glory of Oriya temple art. Centuries of myth and legend shroud its past. Built in the 13th century, the entire temple was designed in the shape of a colossal chariot, carrying the Sun god, Surya, pulled by seven horses.

The 24 giant wheels of the chariot symbolize the division of time. The temple is a brilliant chronicle in stone, with thousands of images including deities, the Surasundaris, heavenly damsels and dancers, and other scenes from courtly life.

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Or 'The Palace of Winds' is the most recognizable monument of Jaipur. The five-story pyramidal building with overhanging latticed balconies is unique in conception and is designed to catch the cool breeze on a hot summer's day.

The Palace borders one of the busiest thoroughfares of the city. It was built in 1799 for the ladies of the royal household to view the activity of the market-place from the privacy of their balconies.

Ajanta, Maharashtra

It was as late as the 19th century when a party of British officers discovered the Ajanta caves. For a long time, they lay buried in the debris of time. The caves survived hundreds of years in the Sahyadri hills to tell the story of a rich and a glorious past from 200 BC to 650 AD. These 30 caves were built to offer seclusion to the Buddhist monks who lived, taught and performed rituals in the Chaityas and Viharas, which were the seats of learning and cultural movement. Inspired by faith and devotion, each figure has been carved by the monks using just hammer and chisel.

Ajanta offers a rich tapestry of images that speak of places, royalty, culture and tales of everyday life of ancient India. Many of the Ajanta caves hold panels that illustrate stories from the Jatakas - a large repertoire of tales of incarnations of Buddha. From numerous images of Buddha to nymphs and princesses and various other characters, Ajanta engravings are an unmatched visual treat.

A few other examples of these engravings are the flying apsara in cave 17, the preaching Buddha in cave 16 or the sculptured Nagaraja in a sitting posture with his consort and a female attendant. These enigmatic caves set deep in the hills still illuminate with natural light during some part of the day.
 

 

 

 
     
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