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World Heritage sites in Maharashtra


World Heritage sites are managed by UNESCO. The International World Heritage Programme recognizes sites of cultural importance such as forests, mountains, islands, deserts, monument, building, complex or a city as Heritage Sites for the preservation of cultural heritage. These sites will be maintained under the supervision of UNESCO. The criteria for selecting a site as Heritage site is that it should represent outstanding universal significance in terms of cultural contributions. The sites will be listed by each country and then, the International committee decides after examination of the prominence of such sites.
India has many World Heritage sites. Let us focus upon Maharashtra state. Four sites have been listed under the World Heritage Sites program in Maharashtra.
Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus: This is a railway terminus located in Mumbai. This is a colonial structure named after the Queen Victoria. This railway terminus was renamed in 1996. The terminus was built was completed in 1880 during the British era. The monument is still active and is a major railway terminus in India.
It is popularly known as CST, which was under terrorist attack. The railway terminus is built in the Victorian Gothic style comprising beautiful carvings. It became a World Heritage Monument in 2004.
Ajanta: Situated about 100 km from the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra these rock cut caves are well known for paintings. These caves were discovered by British officers in the 19th century. These caves date back to 100 B.C. All are Buddhist Caves.

image credit:kamat.com
 Ajanta caves are one of the prestigious monuments of India. One would marvel at the skill of Indian artisans. Details of the life style belonging to that period are displayed through paintings.
Ajanta caves can be approached by road. Hire taxis or take the MTDC tourist buses to reach Ajanta from Aurangabad city. Ajanta caves are protected by Eco-Conservation program. So, public vehicles are not allowed inside the premises. Public or private vehicles would drop you at the T-point and from there the tourists will be taken in an Eco-friendly bus. It takes about 5 minute to reach the cave site from the T-point.
Ellora: Ellora rock cut caves are situated at about 27 km from Aurangabad city. There are 34 caves in total belonging to Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions. They were built in various periods spanning from 5th to 11th centuries. Kailas Nath Temple, which is known for its magnificence is a single rock cut temple.

image credit:siddharthtravels.com
Ellora can be reached by road. Aurangabad is the nearest destination for accommodation and transportation. You can visit the Daulatabad Fort on the way.
Elephanta Caves: These 7th century caves are located on an island in the Arabian Sea near Mumbai Coast. Elephanta caves are located at about 9 nautical miles from the Gateway of India. You can reach the site by ferries. Regular ferries are available near the Gateway of India.

Tripura: Land of Oranges

It was a princely state in the colonial times. The state at present, is just gearing up for the contemporary trends in tourism. Tripura, best known for rich natural landscape, is quiet region compared to its sister states in the North Eastern India.
Agartala, the capital city of Tripura is the most visited city. Accommodation with wide range of hotels and resorts and connectivity make Agartala a possible tourist junction in Tripura.
People of Tripura feel proud if you mention the name of Indian legendary music composer late S.D. Burman. S.D. Burman, possessing a royal inheritance in Tripura, was born and brought up in present day Bangladesh. But, he is considered an icon of Tripura till today. Another legendary personality, the poet Rabindranath Tagore also is respected highly in this state. He seems to have great affinity with the Manikya rulers of Tripura. So, you would win the hearts of Tripura people by mentioning these two famous personalities!
Total 19 tribes live in the state. The Kokborok speaking community is the main dominant tribe among all. At present the state houses mixed culture. Influence of Bengali culture on food and festivities is apparently visible.
Agriculture is the main activity here. Tripura borders Myanmar in the east and Bangladesh in the west.
How to reach: Agartala is well connected by road, rail and airways. Flights are available from Agartala to Delhi, Kolkata, Imphal, Silichar and Guwahati. You would get connecting flights to other cities. Agartala is connected to Assam, Dhaka and Comilla by train. The state is connected by only one National Highway and that is not in good condition.
What to buy: Buy Bamboo and Cane products and Tripuri traditional dress. Tripuri traditional dress consists of three parts out of which only two parts are worn nowadays. The pattern will be somewhat like wrap around and a top, but it is known as Rignai (wrap around) and Risa (top).
What to see: Most visited city in Trpura is Agartala. Other parts of the state could be reached by buses and taxis. Interiors of the state can offer government guest houses and low budget hotels.
  • Agartala

    The city boasts of having a rich historical connection with the Manikya rulers. The city was the capital of the Princely State that ruled over the region. Ujjayanta Palace, Museum, Sukanta Academy, and Purbasa Emporium are the main attractions in the city.

  • Unakoti

    It is at about 178 km from Agartala, is a place of attraction from archeological point of view. This place is known for stone carvings on a hill belonging to 7th/8th centuries. These rock carvings of Shiva and other gods are situated randomly on a hill. Imagine a hill comprising carvings on its huge rocks everywhere! Also visit Debtamura and Pilak sites.
  • Tripura Sundari Temple:

     it is considered one of the Shakti Peethas in India. The place is located about 55 km from Agartala.
  • Gomuti Bird sanctuary

    This is located at about 40 km from Agartala and is a good place for bird lovers.
  • Jampui Hill

    This is at about 250 km from the capital. This is a beautiful hill station comprising orange gardens. Visit during winter months to see orange trees bearing orange fruits. 
    Jampui Hill
    (image credit:yohyoh.com)

Explore North East India-Nagaland


Nagaland
Nagaland, the land of 16 indigenous tribes and their unique traditions, is located between Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. Kohima is the capital city. The city of Dimapur bordering Assam is the main city inside the state having good connection with other parts of the country by road, rail and Airways. It takes about one and half hour to reach Kohima from Dimapur by road.
Culture of Nagaland comprises of indigenous tribes following the traditions of their forefathers, but, most of them have been Christianized during the Colonial rule. One can expect modernized cities and people over there. However, the native culture is preserved through community festivals and local rituals. The Great Indian Hornbill festival is one such cultural gathering of all tribal people.
It is the home for Hornbills, Tragopan (State Bird of Nagaland), and Mithun (domesticated Gaur species. The geographical terrain contains hill ranges. The region experiences cool weather throughout the year. It is one of the most hospitable destinations in North East India.
Nagaland is served by one airport located at Dimapur. Connecting flights and direct flights are available to Guwahati and Kolkata. Dimapur is the well connected railway head in the state. Buses and rental taxis are available to travel around the state.
You can stay either in Dimapur or Kohima. However, do not miss to experience village stays. Bamboo huts built in the model of the tribal huts provide you a different experience. Do not worry about the amenities. The huts and guest houses at the villages provide western facilities.
Indian tourists are required to get Inner Lane Permit and foreign tourists no longer require the Restricted Area Permit (barring tourists from Bangladesh, China and Pakistan).
Destinations to visit:
  • Dimapur: This is an ancient city known for Ahom rule and the Kachari Dimasa rulers. It is said that the region in which the present day Dimpaur is located was the place of Hidimba (wife of Bhima) from the Mahabharata. At present the city is the gateway to Nagaland. Ruins of old Kachari tribe are preserved in the city.
  • Kohima: This city witnessed the famous battle between the Japanese and the British forces during the Second World War. Visit the war memorial and the Kisama Heritage Village here. Make a trip during the first week of December; you would get to participate in the famous Hornbill Festival.
  • Mokokchung: This district is the home of Ao tribe. Visit the Mopungchuket village.
    Mokokchung  (image credit:stylesatlife.com)

  • Mon: It is the home for the Konyak tribe. You can find the tribal people appearing in traditional tribal dress. This district borders Myanmar. The district hosts Aoleong Monyu Festival in April.
  • Wokha: This is the home for Lotha tribe. This is best known for landscape, and fresh farm products.

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