Top Ten Indian Attractions

Top Ten Indian Attractions

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       India is the 7th largest country by area and the 2nd most populous country with over 1.2 billion people. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the south-west, and the Bay of Bengal on the south-east, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north-east; and Burma and Bangladesh to the east. Home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Four world religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism—originated here, whereas Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam arrived in the 1st millennium AD and also helped shape the region’s diverse culture. Gradually annexed by and brought under the administration of the British East India Company from the early 18th century and administered directly by the UK from the mid-19th century, India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence that was marked by non-violent resistance led by Mahatma Gandhi. The Indian economy is the world’s 11th largest by nominal GDP and 3rd largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). Following market-based economic reforms in 1991, India became one of the fastest-growing major economies; it is considered a newly industrialized country. India is a federal constitutional republic governed under a parliamentary system consisting of 28 states and 7 union territories. It is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.

  1. Mumbai
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    Mumbai, previously known as Bombay, is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the 4th most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million. Along with the neighboring urban areas, including the cities of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it is one of the most populous urban regions in the world. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbor. It is also the wealthiest city in India, and has the highest GDP of any city in South, West or Central Asia. The seven islands that came to constitute Mumbai were home to communities of fishing colonies. During the mid-18th century, Mumbai was reshaped by the Hornby Vellard project, which undertook reclamation of the area between the seven islands from the sea. Along with construction of major roads and railways, the reclamation project, completed in 1845, transformed Bombay into a major seaport on the Arabian Sea. Bombay in the 19th century was characterized by economic and educational development. During the early 20th century it became a strong base for the Indian independence movement. In 1960, following the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, a new state of Maharashtra was created with Bombay as the capital, which was renamed Mumbai in 1996. Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment capital of India and is also one of the world’s top ten centers of commerce. The city also houses India’s Hindi (Bollywood) and Marathi film and television industry.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Cities, Top Ten Asian Cities, Top Ten Bridges, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mumbai,
  2. New Delhi
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    New Delhi is the capital of India and seat of the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the Government of India. It is also the center of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi and is one of the eleven districts of Delhi National Capital Territory. The foundation stone of the city was laid by George V, Emperor of India during the Delhi Durbar of 1911. It was designed by British architects, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker. The new capital was inaugurated on 13 February 1931, by India’s Viceroy Lord Irwin.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Asian Cities, Top Ten Triumphal Arches, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Delhi,
  3. Ganges River
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           The Ganges is a trans-boundary river of India and Bangladesh, which is the 3rd largest river in the World by discharge. The 2,513 km (1,562 mi) river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus and is also a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs. It is worshipped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism and has been an important base of many former provincial or imperial capitals, such as Patliputra, Kannauj, Kara, Kashi, Allahabad, Murshidabad, Munger, Baharampur, Kampilya and Kolkata. Due to a dense human  population along its banks, the Ganges was ranked as the 5th most polluted river in the world in 2007. The pollution threatens not only humans, but also more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganges river dolphin.
    Links: RiversTop Ten Rivers, Top Ten Asian Rivershttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganges_river,
  4. Buddhist Pilgrimage of Lumbinī, Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya and Sarnath
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           Lumbinī, “the lovely,” is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama and where he lived roughly between 623 and 543 BC and founded Buddhism as Gautama Buddha. Lumbini is one of four magnets for pilgrimage that sprang up in places pivotal to the life of the Buddha, the others being at Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya and Sarnath. Lumbini, where the Buddha lived until the age of 29, has a number of temples, including the Mayadevi temple and others under construction. Also located here is the Puskarini or Holy Pond where the Buddha’s mother took the ritual dip prior to his birth and where he, too, had his first bath, as well as the remains of Kapilavastu palace. At other sites near Lumbini, earlier Buddhas were, according to tradition, born, achieved ultimate awakening and finally relinquished earthly form. Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment (Bodhimandala). For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha. Sarnath is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 km north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India. Singhpur, a village one km away from the site, was the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the 11th Tirthankara of Jainism, and a temple dedicated to him, is an important pilgrimage site. Isipatana is mentioned by the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage which his devout followers should visit, if they wanted to visit a place for that reason. It was also the site of the Buddha’s Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which was his first teaching after attaining enlightenment, in which he taught the four noble truths and the teachings associated with it. Kushinagar is a town and a Nagar Panchayat in Gorakhpur district of Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important to Buddhists, as it is the site, where Gautama Buddha attained Parinirvana after his death.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumbinihttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarnath, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodh_Gaya, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kushinagar
  5. Ajaṇṭā Caves
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           The Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India are about 300 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BC to about 480 or 650 AD. The caves include paintings and sculptures described by the government Archaeological Survey of India as “the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting”, which are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, with figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales. The caves were built in two phases starting around the 2nd century BC, with the second group of caves built around 400–650 AD according to older accounts, or all in a brief period of 460 to 480 according to the recent proposals of Walter M. Spink. The site is a protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India. The caves are 100 km (62 miles) from the Ellora Caves, which contain Hindu and Jain temples as well as Buddhist caves, the last dating from a period similar to Ajanta. The Ajanta caves are cut into the side of a cliff that is on the south side of a U-shaped gorge on the small river Waghora (or Wagura), and although they are now along and above a modern pathway running across the cliff they were originally reached by individual stairs or ladders from the side of the river 35 to 110 feet below. The area was previously heavily forested, and after the site ceased to be used the caves were covered by jungle until accidentally rediscovered in 1819 by a British officer on a hunting party. They are Buddhist monastic buildings, apparently representing a number of distinct “monasteries” or colleges. The caves are numbered 1 to 28 according to their place along the path, beginning at the entrance. Several are unfinished and some barely begun and others are small shrines. Further round the gorge are a number of waterfalls, which when the river is high are audible from outside the caves. The caves form the largest corpus of early Indian wall-painting; other survivals from the area of modern India are very few, though they are related to 5th-century paintings at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka. The elaborate architectural carving in many caves is also very rare, and the style of the many figure sculptures is highly local, found only at a few nearby contemporary sites.
    Links: Top Ten Caves, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajanta_Caves,
  6. Ellora Caves and Kailash Temple

           Ellora is an archaeological site, 29 km (18 mi) North-West of the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty. It is also known as Elapura (in the Rashtrakuta literature). Ellora represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 “caves” – actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills. Buddhist, Hindu and Jain rock-cut temples and viharas and mathas were built between the 5th century and 10th century. The 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves, built in proximity, demonstrate the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history.
    Links: Top Ten Rock-Cut Architecture, Top Ten Caveshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellora_Caves,
  7. Bangalore
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    Bangalore is the capital city of the Indian state of Karnataka. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka. Bangalore is India’s 3rd most populous city and 5th most populous urban agglomeration. Bangalore is known as the Silicon Valley of India, and a top ten entrepreneurial location in the world, because of its position as the nation’s leading Information technology exporter, as well as other startups. Located at a height of over 3,000 feet (914.4 m) above sea level, Bangalore is known for its pleasant climate throughout the year. A succession of South Indian dynasties, the Western Gangas, the Cholas, and the Hoysalas ruled the present region of Bangalore until in 1537 AD, Kempé Gowdā, a feudatory ruler under the Vijayanagara Empire, established a mud fort considered to be the foundation of modern Bangalore. Following transitory occupation by the Marāthās and Mughals, the city remained under the Mysore Kingdom. It later passed into the hands of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, and was captured by the British after victory in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1799), who returned administrative control of the city to the Maharaja of Mysore. In 1809, the British shifted their cantonment to Bangalore, outside the old city, and a town grew up around it, which was governed as part of British India. Bangalore is home to many well-recognized educational and research institutions in India, such as the Indian Institute of Science, Indian Institute of Management, National Institute of Fashion Technology and National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences. Numerous public sector heavy industries, technology companies, aerospace, telecommunications, and defense organizations, such as Bharat Electronics Limited, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, National Aerospace Laboratories, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Indian Space Research Organization, Infosys, and Wipro are headquartered in the city. A demographically diverse city, Bangalore is a major economic and cultural hub and the second-fastest growing major metropolis in India. The city also houses the Kannada film industry
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Asian CitiesTop Ten Entrepreneurial Cities, Pyramids, Top Ten Modern Pyramids, Top Ten Asian Pyramids, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangalore,
  8. Thanjavur and Brihadeeswarar Temple
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    Thanjavur is a city in southern India state of Tamil Nadu. Scholars believe the name Thanjavur is derived from Tanjan, a legendary demon in Hindu mythology. While the early history of Thanjavur remains unclear, the city first rose to prominence during the reign of Medieval Cholas when it served as the capital of the empire. After the fall of Cholas, the city was ruled by various dynasties like Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks, Thanjavur Marathas and the British Empire. It has been a part of independent India since 1947 and an important center of South Indian religion, art and architecture. The foremost among these, the Brihadeeswara Temple, is located in the center of the city. Thanjavur is also home to Tanjore painting, a painting style unique to the region. The city is an important agricultural center located in the Cauvery Delta and is known as the “Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu.” Roadways are the major means of transportation, while the city also has rail connectivity.  The Peruvudaiyar Kovil, also known as Brihadeeswara Temple, RajaRajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and an art of the work achieved by Cholas in Tamil architecture. This is the largest temple in India and one of India’s most prized architectural sites. The temple stands amidst fortified walls that were probably added in the 16th century. The vimana or (temple tower) is 216 ft. (66 m) high and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. The Kumbam (Kalasha or Chikharam) (apex or the bulbous structure on the top) of the temple weighs around 80 tons. There is a big statue of Nandi (sacred bull), carved out of a single rock, at the entrance measuring about 16 ft. long and 13 ft. high. The entire temple structure is made out of granite, the nearest sources of which are close to Tiruchchirapalli, about 60 km to the west of Thanjavur, where the temple is. Built in 1010 AD by Raja Raja Chola I in Thanjavur, Brihadeeswarar Temple, also popularly known as the ‘Big Temple,’ turned 1000 years old in 2010.
    Links: Temples, Top Ten TemplesTop Ten Asian TemplesTop Ten Indian Temples,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanjavurhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brihadeeswarar_Temple,
  9. Hampi and Vijayanagara
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    Hampi is a village in northern Karnataka state, India. It is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Predating the city of Vijayanagara, it continues to be an important religious center, housing the Virupaksha Temple, as well as several other monuments belonging to the old city. In around 1500 Vijaynagar had 500,000 inhabitants, probably making it the 2nd largest city in the world after Peking-Beijing and twice the then size of Paris.
    Links: Top Ten Columns/Pillars, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampi, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vijayanagara,
  10. Great Living Chola Temples
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    The Great Living Chola Temples are temples built during the Chola rule in the south of India. These temples are the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. The Peruvudaiyar Kovil, also known as Brihadeeswara Temple, RajaRajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram, at Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and an art of the work achieved by Cholas in Tamil architecture. This is the largest temple in India and one of India’s most prized architectural sites. The Kumbam (Kalasha or Chikharam) (apex or the bulbous structure on the top) of the temple is carved out of a single stone and it weighs around 80 tons. The entire temple structure is made out of granite, the nearest sources of which are close to Tiruchchirapalli, about 60 km to the west of Thanjavur, where the temple is. Gangaikonda Cholapuram was erected as the capital of the Cholas by Rajendra Chola I, the son and successor of Rajaraja Chola, the great Chola who conquered a large area in South India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Sumatra, Kadaram (Kedah in Malaysia) at the beginning of the 11th century AD. It occupies an important place in the history of India. As the capital of the Cholas from about 1025 AD for about 250 years, the city controlled the affairs of entire southern India, from the Tungabhadra in the north to Ceylon in the south and other Southeast Asian countries. The great temple of Siva at this place is next only to the Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur in its monumental nature and surpasses it in sculptural quality. The Gangaikondaan temple is an architectural and engineering marvel because the shadow of the main tower never falls on the ground throughout the year. Airavatesvara Temple is a Hindu temple of Dravidian architecture located in the town of Darasuram, near Kumbakonam in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This temple, built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century AD.
    Links: Temples, Top Ten Temples, Top Ten Asian Temples, Top Ten Indian Temples, Top Ten Pillars/Columns,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brihadisvara_Templehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangaikonda_Cholapuramhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airavatesvara_Temple,
  11. Allahabad
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           Allahabad, or “Settled by God” in Persian, is a major city of India and is one of the main holy cities of Hinduism. It was renamed by the Mughal emperor Akbar from the original (still unofficially used) native name of Prayaga, and is by some accounts the 2nd oldest city in India. It is located in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, lying some 205 km (127 mi) south of the state capital, Lucknow. The ancient name of the city is Prayaga (Sanskrit for “place of sacrifice”), as it is believed to be the spot where Brahma offered his first sacrifice after creating the world. It is one of four sites of the mass Hindu pilgrimage Kumbh Mela, the others being Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. It has a position of importance in Hindu scriptures for it is situated at Triveni Sangam, the confluence of the holy rivers Ganges and Yamuna, and the ancient Sarasvati River. Many government offices of both central and state government are present in the city, which is also home to India’s 4th oldest university, AU and UP’s single National Institutes of Technology. Allahabad is a home to seven out of fourteen Prime Ministers of India. Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Gulzarilal Nanda, Vishwanath Pratap Singh and Chandra Shekhar were all either born in Allahabad, were alumni of Allahabad University or got elected from a constituency in Allahabad.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Cities, Top Ten Asian Cities, Top Ten Pilgrimages, Top 100 Birds, Top Ten Bridges, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayag,
  12. Vrindavan
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            Vrindavan also known as Vraj (as it lies in the Braj region) is a town in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is the site of an ancient forest which is the region where according to the Mahabharata, a grand Epic of Sanskrit literature dating back to the 3,000 BC, the deity Krishna spent his childhood days. The town is about 10 km away from Mathura, the city of Lord Krishna’s birthplace, near the Agra-Delhi highway. The town hosts hundreds of temples dedicated to the worship of Radha and Krishna and is considered sacred by a number of religious traditions such as Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Vaishnavism, and Hinduism in general.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vrndavana,
  13. Sanchi
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    Sanchi is a small village in Raisen District of the state of Madhya Pradesh, India, it is located 46 km north east of Bhopal, and 10 km from Besnagar and Vidisha in the central part of the state of Madhya Pradesh. Known for its “Stupas,” it is the location of several Buddhist monuments dating from the 3rd century BC to the 12th AD and is one of the important places of Buddhist pilgrimage. It is a nagar panchayat in Raisen district in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Toranas surround the Stupa and they each represent love, peace, trust and courage. The ‘Great Stupa’ at Sanchi is the oldest stone structure in India and was originally commissioned by the emperor Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BC. Its nucleus was a simple hemispherical brick structure built over the relics of the Buddha. It was crowned by the chatra, a parasol-like structure symbolizing high rank, which was intended to honor and shelter the relics. The construction work of this stupa was overseen by Ashoka’s wife, Devi herself, who was the daughter of a merchant of Vidisha. Sanchi was also her birthplace as well as the venue of her and Ashoka’s wedding. In the 1st century BC, four profusely carved ornamental gateways and a balustrade encircling the whole structure was added.
    Links: Top Ten Stupashttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanchi,
  14. Taj Mahal
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           The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Indian and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.” While the white domed marble mausoleum is its most familiar component, the Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures. Building began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, and employed thousands of artisans and craftsmen. The construction of the Taj Mahal was entrusted to a board of architects under imperial supervision including Abd ul-Karim Ma’mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer.
    Links: Top Ten Wonders of the Medieval World, Top Ten Mausoleums, Top Ten Tombs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taj_mahal,
  15. Konark Sun Temple
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    Konark Sun Temple is a 13th century Sun Temple (also known as the Black Pagoda), at Konark, in Orissa. It was constructed from oxidized and weathered ferruginous sandstone by King Narasimhadeva I (1238-1250 AD) of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is an example of Orissan architecture of Ganga dynasty. The temple is one of the most renowned temples in India and is one of the Seven Wonders of India. Legend has it that the temple was constructed by Samba, the son of Lord Krishna. It is said that Samba was afflicted by leprosy, brought about by his father’s curse on him. After 12 years of penance, he was cured by Surya, the Sun God, in whose honor he built the magnificent Konark Sun Temple.
    Links: The Pineal Gland, Sun Gazing, DMT and Om, Temples, Top Ten TemplesTop Ten Indian TemplesTop Ten Sun Temples, Top Ten Hindu DeitiesTop 100 SculpturesTop 100 Asian Sculptures, Top Ten RelievesTop Ten Asian Relieveshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konark_Sun_Temple,
  16. Khajuraho Group of Monuments
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    The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho, a town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District, about 620 km (385 mi) southeast of New Delhi, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculptures. Between 950 and 1150, the Chandela monarchs built these temples when the Tantric tradition may have been accepted. In the days before the Mughal conquests, when boys lived in hermitages, following brahmacharya until they became men, they could learn about the world and prepare themselves to become householders through examining these sculptures and the worldly desires they depicted. The name Khajuraho, ancient “Kharjuravāhaka,” is derived from the Sanskrit words kharjura = date palm and vāhaka = “one who carries.” Locals living in the Khajuraho village always knew about and kept up the temples as best as they could. They were pointed out to the English in the late 19th century when the jungles had taken a toll on the monuments. In the 19th century, British engineer T.S. Burt arrived in the area, followed by General Alexander Cunningham. Cunningham put Khajuraho on the world map when he explored the site on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India and described what he found in glowing terms. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments is considered to be one of the “seven wonders” of India.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khajuraho_Group_of_Monuments,
  17. The Himalayas
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           The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains, “abode of snow,” usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range immediately at the north of the Indian subcontinent. By extension, it is also the name of a massive mountain system that includes the Karakoram, the Hindu Kush, and other, lesser, ranges that extend out from the Pamir Knot. Together, the Himalayan mountain system is the world’s highest, and home to the world’s highest peaks, the Eight-thousanders, which include Mount Everest and K2. To comprehend the enormous scale of this mountain range, consider that Aconcagua, in the Andes, at 6,962 m (22,841 ft.) is the highest peak outside Asia, whereas the Himalayan system includes over 100 mountains exceeding 7,200 m (23,600 ft.). However the Alleghenian Mountains, formed during the formation of Pangaea, likely rivaled or exceeded the Himalayas in height. The main Himalayan range runs west to east, from the Indus river valley to the Brahmaputra river valley, forming an arc 2,400 km (1,500 mi) long, which varies in width from 400 km (250 mi) in the western Kashmir-Xinjiang region to 150 km (93 mi) in the eastern Tibet-Arunachal Pradesh region. The range consists of three coextensive sub-ranges, with the northernmost, and highest, known as the Great or Inner Himalayas. Some of the world’s major river systems arise in the Himalayas, and their combined drainage basin is home to some 3 billion people (almost ½ of Earth’s population) in 18 countries. The Himalayas have profoundly shaped the cultures of South Asia; many Himalayan peaks are sacred in Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Geologically, the origin of the Himalayas is the impact of the Indian tectonic plate traveling northward at 15 cm per year to impact the Eurasian continent, about 40-50 million years ago. The formation of the Himalayan arc resulted since the lighter rock of the seabeds of that time were easily uplifted into mountains. An often-cited fact used to illustrate this process is that the summit of Mount Everest is made of marine limestone.
    Links: Top Ten Mountain Ranges, Top Ten Asian Mountains, Top Ten Tallest MountainsExplorersTop Ten ExplorersTop Ten Mountaineershttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalaya,
  18. Lotus Temple, Delhi
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           The Bahá’í House of Worship in Delhi, India, popularly known as the Lotus Temple due to its flowerlike shape, is a Bahá’í House of Worship and also a prominent attraction in Delhi. It was completed in 1986 and serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent. It has won numerous architectural awards and been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles.
    Links: Temples, Top Ten Temples, Top 100 Flowers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_temple,
  19. Punjab and the Harmandir Sahib (“Golden Temple”)
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    The Harmandir Sahib, also Darbar Sahib, the “Golden Temple,” is a prominent Sikh Gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India. It was built by the 5th Sikh guru, Guru Arjan, in the 16th Century. In 1604, Guru Arjun completed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, and installed it in the Gurdwara. There are four doors to get into the Harmandir Sahib, which symbolize the openness of the Sikhs towards all people and religions. The present day Gurdwara was rebuilt in 1764 by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia with the help of other Sikh Misls. In the early 19th century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh secured the Punjab region from outside attack and covered the upper floors of the Gurdwara with gold, which gives it its distinctive appearance and its English name.
    Links: Temples, Top Ten Temples, Top Ten Asian Temples, Top Ten Indian Attractions,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmandir_Sahib,
  20. Hyderabad
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           Hyderabad is the capital and largest city of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Occupying 650 square km (250 sq. mi), along the banks of the Musi River, it has a population of 6.8 million and a metropolitan population of 7.75 million, making it the 4th most populous city and 6th most populous urban agglomeration in India. At an average altitude of 542 m (1,778 ft.), much of Hyderabad is situated on hilly terrain around artificial lakes, including Hussain Sagar—predating the city’s founding—north of the city center. Established in 1591 by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, Hyderabad remained under the rule of the Qutb Shahi dynasty for nearly a century before the Mughals captured the region. In 1724, Mughal viceroy Asif Jah I declared his sovereignty and created his own dynasty, also known as the Nizams of Hyderabad. The Hyderabad State ultimately became a princely state during British rule, and remained so for 150 years, with the city serving as its capital. The city continued as capital of a new Hyderabad State after joining the Indian Union in 1948 and before attaining its current status as the focal point of Andhra Pradesh in 1956. Relics of Qutb Shahi and Nizam rule remain visible today, with the Charminar—commissioned by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah himself—coming to symbolize Hyderabad. The Qutb Shahis and Nizams established Hyderabad as a cultural hub, attracting peoples from many parts of the world. Hyderabad emerged as the foremost center of culture in India with the decline of the Mughal Empire in the mid-19th century, with many artists migrating here at the time. Hyderabad was also historically known as a pearl and diamond trading center, and it continues to be known as the City of Pearls. Many of the city’s traditional bazaars, including Laad Bazaar, Begum Bazaar and Sultan Bazaar, have remained open for centuries. Special economic zones dedicated to information technology have encouraged companies from across India and around the world to set up operations and the emergence of pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries in the 1990’s led to the title of “Genome Valley.”
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Cities, Top Ten Asian Cities, Sculptures, Top 100 Asian Sculptures, Top Ten Tallest Sculptures,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyderabad,
  21. Agra Fort
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    Agra Fort is a monument in Uttar Pradesh, India about 2.5 km northwest of the Taj Mahal. Agra Fort was originally a brick fort, held by the Hindu Sikarwar Rajputs, whih evolved into a walled city. It was mentioned for the first time in 1080 AD when a Ghaznavide force captured it. Sikandar Lodi (1488–1517) was the first Sultan of Delhi who shifted to Agra and lived in the fort. He governed the country from here and Agra assumed the importance of the second capital. He died in the fort at 1517 and his son, Ibrahim Lodi, held it for nine years until he was defeated and killed at Panipat in 1526. After the First Battle of Panipat in 1526, Mughals captured the fort and seized a vast treasure, including the diamond later known as the Koh-i-Noor. The victorious Babur stayed in the fort in the palace of Ibrahim and built a step well in it. The emperor Humayun was crowned here in 1530. Humayun was defeated at Bilgram in 1540 by Sher Shah. The Hindu king Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, also called ‘Hemu,’ defeated Humanyun’s army, led by Iskandar Khan Uzbek, and won Agra. Hemu got a huge booty from this fort and went on to capture Delhi from the Mughals. The Mughals under Akbar defeated King Hemu finally at the Second Battle of Panipat in 1556. Realizing the importance of its central situation, Akbar made it his capital and arrived in Agra in 1558. It was in a ruined condition and Akbar had it rebuilt with red sandstone from Barauli area in Rajasthan. Architects laid the foundation and it was built with bricks in the inner core with sandstone on external surfaces. Some 4,000 builders worked on it daily for 8 years, completing it in 1573. It was only during the reign of Akbar’s grandson, Shah Jahan that the site took on its current state. Legend has it that Shah Jahan built the beautiful Taj Mahal for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Unlike his grandfather, Shah Jahan tended to have buildings made from white marble, often inlaid with gold or semi-precious gems. He destroyed some of the earlier buildings inside the fort to make his own. At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was deposed and restrained by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort. It is rumored that Shah Jahan died in Muasamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony with a view of the Taj Mahal. The fort was the site of a battle during the Indian rebellion of 1857, which caused the end of the British East India Company’s rule in India, and led to a century of direct rule of India by Britain.
    Links: Top Ten Forts, Castles, Top Ten Castles, Top Ten Asian Castles, Top Ten Diamonds,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agra_fort,
  22. Elephanta Caves
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    The Elephanta Caves are a network of sculpted caves located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri (literally “the city of caves”) in Mumbai Harbour, 10 km (6.2 mi) to the east of the city of Mumbai in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The island, located on an arm of the Arabian Sea, consists of two groups of caves, the first is a large group of five Hindu caves, the second, a smaller group of two Buddhist caves. The Hindu caves contain rock cut stone sculptures, representing the Shaiva Hindu sect, dedicated to the god Shiva. The rock cut architecture of the caves has been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries, although the identity of the original builders is still a subject of debate. The caves are hewn from solid basalt rock. All the caves were also originally painted in the past, but now only traces remain. The island was called Gharapuri and was a Hindu place of worship until Portuguese rule began in 1534. The Portuguese called the island Elephanta on seeing its huge gigantic statue of an Elephant at the entrance. The Statue is now placed in the garden outside the Bhau Daji Lad Museum (erstwhile Victoria & Albert Museum) at the Jijamata Udyaan (erstwhile Victoria Gardens) at Byculla in Mumbai. This cave was renovated in the 1970’s after years of neglect.
    Links: Top Ten Rock-Cut Architecture, Top Ten Caves, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephanta_Caves,
  23. Western Ghats
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    The Western Ghats or the Sahyādri constitute a mountain range along the western side of India, which is one of the eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity in the world. It is sometimes called the Great Escarpment of India. The range runs north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau, and separates the plateau from a narrow coastal plain, called Konkan, along the Arabian Sea. A total of 39 properties including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests were designated as world heritage sites, 20 in Kerala, 10 in Karnataka, 5 in Tamil Nadu and 4 in Maharashtra. The range starts near the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra, south of the Tapti river, and runs approximately 1,600 km (990 mi) through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala ending at Kanyakumari, at the southern tip of India. These hills cover 160,000 km2 (62,000 sq mi) and form the catchment area for complex riverine drainage systems that drain almost 40% of India. The Western Ghats block rainfall to the Deccan Plateau. The area is one of the world’s ten “Hottest biodiversity hotspots” and has over 5,000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 179 amphibian species; it is likely that many undiscovered species live in the Western Ghats. At least 325 globally threatened species occur in the Western Ghats.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten National ParksTop Ten Asian National Parks, Top 100 Birds, Top Ten Waterfalls, Top Ten Primates, Top Ten Big Cats, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Ghats,
  24. Namdapha National Park
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    Namdapha National Park is the largest protected area in the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot and is located in Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India. It is also the 3rd largest national park in India in terms of area. It is located in the Eastern Himalayan sub-region and is recognized as one of the richest areas in biodiversity in India. The park harbors the northernmost lowland evergreen rainforests in the world at 27°N latitude. The area is also known for extensive Dipterocarp forests.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten National Parks, Top Ten Asian National Parks, Top 100 Birds, Top Ten Big Cats, Top Ten Butterflieshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namdapha_National_Park,
  25. Shantiniketan
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           Shantiniketan is a small town near Bolpur in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, India, approximately 180 km north of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). It was made famous by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose vision became what is now a university town (Visva-Bharati University) that attracts thousands of visitors each year. The English-daily, The Nation (Thailand) notes, “Using the money he received with his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, the school was expanded and renamed Visva-Bharati University. It grew to become one of India’s most renowned places of higher learning, with a list of alumni that includes Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen, globally renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray and the country’s leading art historian, R. Siva Kumar, to name just a few” Santiniketan is also a tourist attraction because Rabindranath Tagore wrote many of his literary classics here, and his house is a place of historical importance.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santiniketan,
  26. Karla Caves
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           The Karla Caves are a complex of ancient Indian Buddhist rock-cut cave shrines located in Karli near Lonavala, Maharashtra. The shrines were developed over two periods, from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD, and from the 5th century AD to the 10th century. The oldest of the cave shrines is believed to date back to 160 BC, having arisen near a major ancient trade route, running eastward from the Arabian Sea into the Deccan. Karli’s location in Maharashtra places it in a region that marks the division between North India and South India. Buddhists, having become identified with commerce and manufacturing through their early association with traders, tended to locate their monastic establishments in natural geographic formations close to major trade routes so as to provide lodging houses for travelling traders.
    Links: Top Ten Rock-Cut Architecture, Top Ten Caves, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karla_caves,
  27. The Jantar Mantar
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    The Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments, built by Sawai Jai Singh who was a Rajput king served Emperor Aurangzeb and later Mughals. The title of (King) and Sawai was bestowed on him by Emperor Mohammad Shah. Jai Singh II of Amber built his new capital of Jaipur between 1727 and 1734. It is also located in Ujjain and Mathura. It is modeled after the one that he had built at the Mughal capital of Delhi. He had constructed a total of five such facilities at different locations, including the ones at Delhi and Jaipur. The Jaipur observatory is the largest and best preserved of these. It has been inscribed on the World Heritage List as “an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period.” Early restoration work was undertaken under the supervision of Major Arthur Garrett, a keen amateur astronomer, during his appointment as Assistant State Engineer for the Jaipur District. The jantar mantar was made by sawai jai singh as he was particularly interested in learning about the sky above his head.
    Links: The Universe, Top Ten Sundials, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jantar_Mantar,_Jaipur,
  28. Fatehpur Sikri 
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    Fatehpur Sikri is a city and a municipal board in Agra district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. The city was founded in 1569 by the Mughal emperor Akbar, and served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585. After his military victories over Chittor and Ranthambore, Akbar decided to shift his capital from Agra to a new location 23 miles (37 km) away on the Sikri ridge, to honor the Sufi saint Salim Chishti. Here he commenced the construction of a planned walled city which took the next 15 years in planning and construction of a series of royal palaces, harem, courts, a mosque, private quarters and other utility buildings. He named the city, Fatehabad, with Fateh, a word of Arabic origin in Persian, meaning “victorious.” it was later called Fatehpur Sikri. It is at Fatehpur Sikri that the legends of Akbar and his famed courtiers, the nine jewels or Navaratnas, were born. Fatehpur Sikri is one of the best preserved collections of Mughal architecture in India. The Imperial complex was abandoned in 1585, shortly after its completion, due to paucity of water and its proximity with the Rajputana areas in the North-West, which were increasingly in turmoil. Thus the capital was shifted to Lahore so that Akbar could have a base in the less stable part of the empire, before moving back Agra in 1598, where he had begun his reign as he shifted his focus to Deccan. In later Mughal history it was occupied for a short while by Mughal emperor, Muhammad Shah (1719 -1748), and his regent, Sayyid Hussain Ali Khan Barha, one of the Syed Brothers, was murdered here in 1720. Today much of the imperial complex which spread over nearly two mile long and one mile wide area is largely intact and resembles a ghost town.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatehpur_Sikri,
  29. Mahabalipuram
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           Mahabalipuram, derived from ‘Mamallapuram’ is the prior and colloquial name of a town in Kancheepuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, now officially called Mamallapuram. It has an average elevation of 12 m (39 ft.). Mahabalipuram was a 7th century port city of the South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas around 60 km south from the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. The name Mamallapuram is believed to have been given after the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I, who took on the epithet Maha-malla (great wrestler), as the favorite sport of the Pallavas was wrestling. It has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and the 9th centuries.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabalipuram,
  30. Pattadakal
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    Pattadakal is a site in Karnataka, lying on the banks of the Malaprabha River in the district of Bagalkot. It is 22 km from Badami and about 10 km from Aihole, and is well known for its Chalukya monuments. The Pre-Chalukya historical and Archaeological site Bachinagudda, is also near Pattadakal.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_of_Monuments_at_Pattadakal,
  31. Hill Forts of Rajasthan
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    These are hill forts within the state of Rajasthan mainly based in the Aravalli mountain range and built between the 5th century AD and 17th-18th century AD. They include the fort palaces of Udaipur, Bikaner, Dungarpur, Bundi and Kota as in Jaisalmer and Mehrangarh Fort Chittorgarh fort, Kumbhalgarh Fort, the fortress of Ranthambore, Gagron Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Amer Fort.
    Links: Top Ten Fortshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_Forts_of_Rajasthan,
  32. Patan
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    Patan was a capital of Gujarat in medieval times. It is the administrative seat of Patan District in the Indian state of Gujarat and administered by municipality. The city contains many Hindu and Jain temples as well as few mosques, dargahs and rojas. The city has many historical places also.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patan,_Gujarat,
  33. Mandu
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    Mandu or Mandavgad is a ruined city in the present-day Mandav area of the Dhar district. It is located in the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh, India, at 35 km from the Dhar city. In the 11th century, Mandu was the sub division of the Tarangagadh or Taranga kingdom. This fortress town on a rocky outcrop about 100 km (62 mi) from Indore is celebrated for its fine architecture.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandu,_Madhya_Pradesh,
  34. Nālandā
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    Nālandā was an ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India. The site is located about 88 km south east of Patna, and was a religious center of learning from the 5th century AD to 1197 AD. Nalanda flourished between the reign of the Śakrāditya (whose identity is uncertain and who might have been either Kumara Gupta I or Kumara Gupta II) and 1197 AD, supported by patronage from the Hindu Gupta rulers as well as Buddhist emperors like Harsha and later emperors from the Pala Empire. The complex was built with red bricks and its ruins occupy an area of 14 hectares. (488 by 244 m) At its peak, the university attracted scholars and students from as far away as Tibet, China, Greece, and Persia. Nalanda was ransacked and destroyed by a Turkish Muslim army under Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1193. The great library of Nalanda University was so vast that it is reported to have burned for three months after the invaders set fire to it, ransacked and destroyed the monasteries, and drove the monks from the site. In 2006, Singapore, China, India, Japan, and other nations, announced a proposed plan to restore and revive the ancient site as Nalanda International University.
    Links: Top Ten Libraries, Top Ten Ancient Libraries, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nalanda,
  35. Hemis
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    Hemis is a town in India 40 km southeast of Leh in Ladakh, well known for the Hemis monastery that was established in 1672 AD by King Senge Nampar Gyalva. Hemis is best known to tourists for the colorful festival held in July. Hemis also could be associated with the Hemis National Park, an area that is home to the endangered snow leopard. The national park was created in 1981. It is the only high altitude park in the country.
    Links: Top Ten Monasteries, Top Ten Big Cats, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemis_Gompa,
  36. Bhimbetka Rock Shelters
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    The Bhimbetka rock shelters are an archaeological site of the Paleolithic, exhibiting the earliest traces of human life on the Indian subcontinent, and thus the beginning of the South Asian Stone Age. It is located in the Raisen District in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The Bhimbetka shelters exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India. At least some of the shelters were inhabited by Homo erectus more than 100,000 years ago. Some of the Stone Age rock paintings found among the Bhimbetka rock shelters are approximately 30,000 years old. The caves also deliver early evidence of dance. The name Bhimbetka is associated with Bhima, a hero-deity of the epic Mahabharata. The word Bhimbetka is said to derive from Bhimbaithka, meaning “sitting place of Bhima.”
    Links: Cave Paintings, Top Ten Asian Cave Paintings, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Shelters_of_Bhimbetka,
  37. Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India,

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