India

Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in India.

fatehpur-sikri

Fatehpur Sikri – India

Built by Emperor Akbar between 1571 and 1585 in honor of Salim Chishti, a famous Sufi saint of the Chishti order, Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of the Mughal empire for 14 years. One of the best examples of a Mughal walled city, with defined areas and imposing gateways, its architecture is a blend of Hindu and Islamic styles, and reflects Akbar’s secular vision as well as his type of governance. The city was abandoned, some say for lack of water, in 1585, and many of its treasures were plundered. It owes its present state of preservation to the efforts of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India and a great conservationist.

THE JAMI MASJID AND SALIM CHISHTI

salim-chisti

The exquisite, white marble tomb of Salim Chisti

Towering over Fatehpur Sikri is the grand open mosque Jami Masjid. Its vast congregational area has monumental gateways to the east and south. The 177-ft (54-m) Buland Darwaza, a triumphal arch, was erected by Akbar to mark his 1573 conquest of Gujarat. The spiritual focus of the complex is the tomb of Sufi mystic Salim Chishti. Ever since Akbar’s childlessness was ended after the saint’s prediction in 1568, his tomb has attracted thousands, particularly childless women in search of a miracle. Visitors make a wish, tie a thread on the screen around the tomb, and return home confident that their wish will come true.

AKBAR THE GREAT

The greatest emperor of the Muslim Mughal dynasty, Akbar (r. 1556-1605) was a brilliant administrator and an enlightened ruler. Just 14 years old when he ascended the throne, his first task was to consolidate and expand his fledgling empire. His most significant move was the political and matrimonial alliances he formed with the Hindu Rajputs. However, it was his policy of religious tolerance that truly set him apart. Akbar was fascinated by the study of comparative religion and built a special “House of Worship” in Fatehpur Sikri, where he often met leaders of other faiths.

LORD CURZON

One of colonial India’s most flamboyant viceroys, Lord Curzon (1859-1925) believed British rule was necessary to civilize “backward” India. He introduced sweeping changes in the education system, but he is remembered most for his role as a conservator of Indian monuments. Lord Curzon was responsible for the restoration of a vast number of Hindu, Islamic, and Mughal buildings, among them the gateway to Emperor Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra, Agra Fort, the buildings at Fatehpur Sikri, the Jain temples at Mount Abu, and the Taj Mahal. In 1905, due to a difference of opinion with the British military commander-in-chief, Lord Kitchener, Curzon returned to England. By the time he left, he had achieved sufficient legislation to protect India’s historic buildings, and set up an organization to conserve them.

Diwan-i-Aam

diwan-i-aam

This large courtyard with an elaborate pavilion was originally draped with rich tapestries and was used for public hearings and celebrations.

Turkish Sultana’s House

turkish-sultana's-house

The fine dado panels and delicately sculpted walls of this ornate sandstone pavilion make the stone seem like wood. It is topped with an unusual stone roof of imitation clay tiles.

Anoop Talao

anoop-talao

This pool is associated with Akbar’s renowned court musician, Tansen, who, according to legend, could light oil lamp with his magical singing.

Pillar in the Diwan-i-Khas

The central axis of Akbar’s court, supported by carved brackets, was inspired by Gujarati buildings.

Panch Mahal

panch-mahal

This sandstone, five-story open pavilion, overlooking the Pachisi Court, is where Akbar’s queens and their attendants savored the cool evening breezes. Its decorative screens were probably stolen after the city was abandoned.

Ankh Michauli

ankh-michauli

Sometimes identified as the treasury, this building has mythical guardian beasts carved on its stone struts. Its name means “blind man’s buff.”

Diwan-i-Khas

diwan-i-khas

This hall, used for private audiences and debates, is a unique fusion of different architectural styles and religious motifs.

Khwabgah

khwabgah

Akbar’s private sleeping quarters, with an ingenious ventilation shaft near his bed, lie within this lavishly decorated “Chamber of Dreams.”

Pachisi Court

This is named after a ludolike game played here by the ladies of the court.

TANSEN

A musical genius, the legendary composer musician Tansen was Akbar’s Master of Music and one of the “nine jewels” in his court. He developed an exciting new range of melodic modes, or ragas.

KEY DATES

1571: Construction of Emperor Akbar’s new capital at Fatehpur Sikri begins.
1576: Tlie 15-story triumphal arch Buland Darwaza is built by Akbar.
1585: Fatehpur Sikri is abandoned by Emperor Akbar.
1986: Fatehpur Sikri becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

taj-mahal

Taj Mahal – Agra, India

One of the world’s most famous buildings, the Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631. Its perfect proportions and exquisite craftsmanship have been described as “a vision, a dream, a poem, a wonder.” This sublime garden-tomb, an image of the Islamic garden of paradise, cost nearly 41 million rupees and 1,100 lb (500 kg) of gold. About 20,000 workers labored for 12 years to complete it in 1643.

MUGHAL STYLE

Mughal buildings, whether built of marble or red sandstone, assert their exalted, imperial status. The Mughal emperors were great patrons of the arts, literature, and architecture and their rule established a rich, pluralistic culture, blending the best of Islamic and Hindu traditions. Their greatest contribution to architecture was the garden tomb, raised on a high plinth in the centre of a charbagh garden. Decorative elements, such as perforated pits (screens) — used extensively for privacy and ventilation – refined inlay work and cusped arches gave Mughal buildings an ethereal grace that offset their massive size. Other features include chhatris (domed rooftop pavilions) that were adapted from Rajput architecture, and minarets that gave symmetry to the buildings.

THE PARADISE GARDEN

paradise-gardens

The hallmark of Mughal landscape design, the paradise garden was introduced by Babur (1483-1530), the first Mughal emperor, who yearned for the beauty of Ferghana, his Central Asian homeland. Based on Islamic geometric and metaphysical concepts of design, the charbagh was an enclosed garden divided into four quarters by raised walkways, water channels, and sunken groves. Water, the source of all life, was the central element, and the intersecting channels met at a focal point that contained a pavilion for the emperor, who was seen as a representative of God on Earth.

THE TAJ MAHAL’S DECORAtiON

It is widely believed that the Taj Mahal was designed to be an earthly replica of one of the houses of paradise. Its impeccable marble facing, embellished by a remarkable use of surface design, is a showcase for the refined aesthetic that reached its zenith during Shah Jahan’s reign (1627—1658). The Taj Mahal manifests the richness and wealth of Mughal art, as seen in architecture, garden design, painting, jewelry, calligraphy, and textiles. Decorative elements include ornamental jails, carved panels of flowering plants and calligraphic panels, as well as floral motifs in pietra dura, a Florentine mosaic work technique said to have been imported by Emperor Jahangir.

Calligraphic Panels

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The size of the Koranic verses in creases as the arch gets higher, creating the subtle optical illusion of a uniformly flowing script.

Tomb Chamber

taj-mahal-tomb-chamber

Mumtaz Mahal’s cenotaph, raised on a platform, is placed next to Shah Jahan’s. The actual graves, in a dark crypt below, are dosed to the public.

Pietra Dura

taj-mahal-pietra-dura

Inspired by the paradise garden, intricately carved floral designs, inlaid with precious stones, embellish the austere white marble surface to give it the look of a jeweled casket.

Marble Screen

The filigree screen, daintily carved from a single block of marble, was meant to veil the area around the royal tombs.

Dome

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The 144- ft (44-m) high double dome is capped with a finial.

View of the Taj Mahal

taj-mahal-view

The Taj Mahal complex is bounded on three sides by red sandstone walls. At the far ends of the complex, there are two grand buildings, the western one is the Taj Mahal mosque.

Four Minarets

Each 131 ft (40 m) high and crowned by an open octagonal pavilion, or chhatri, the minarets frame the tomb, highlighting the perfect symmetry of the complex.

Lotus Pool

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Named after its lotus-shaped fountain spouts, the pool reflects the tomb. Almost every visitor is photographed sitting on the marble bench here.

Charbagh

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The quadrilateral garden was irrigated with water from the Yamuna River.

Pishtaq (porch)

taj-mahal-pishtaq

Recessed arches provide depth, while their inlaid panels reflect the changing light to give the tomb a mystical aura.

Dome Interior

dome-interior-taj-mahal

The dome is actually double-skinned; the interior dome, barely a third of the height of the outer skin, is visible from inside the main chamber, and is separate from the dome visible from outside.

MUMTAZ MAHAL

Arjumand Banu (later Mumtaz Mahal) was the emperor’s favorite wife. She accompanied him on all his campaigns and died in 1631, while giving birth to their 14th child. They were married for 19 years.

KEY DATES

1632: Work on the Taj begins, following the death of Mumtaz Mahal.
1643: The thousands of artists and craftsmen complete the work on the Taj.
1666: Shah Jahan dies and is laid to rest beside his queen.
1983: The Taj Mahal is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2001: The Taj Mahal Conser­vation Collaborative starts to restore the grounds.

the-golden-temple

The Golden Temple – Amritsar, India

The spiritual center of the Sikh religion, the Golden Temple was built between 1589 and 1601, and is a superb synthesis of Islamic and Hindu styles of architecture. In keeping with the syncretic tradition of those times, its foundation stone was laid by a Muslim saint, Mian Mir. The temple was virtually destroyed in 1761 by an Afghan invader, Ahmed Shah Abdali, but was rebuilt some years later. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, ruler of Punjab, covered the dome in gold and embellished its interiors with lavish decoration during his reign.

The Holiest Shrine

The Sikhs’ holiest shrine, the Golden Temple complex is actually a city within a city, with a maze of lanes protected by 18 fortified gates. The main entrance is through the northern gateway, the Darshani Darwaza, which also houses the Central Sikh Museum and its collections of paintings, manuscripts, and weapons. From here, steps lead down to the Parikrama (marble pathway) encircling the Amrit Sarovar (“Pool of Nectar”), after which Amritsar is named, and Hari Mandir (“Temple of God”), the golden-domed main shrine. Several holy sites line the Parikrama, including the Dukh Bhanjani Ber, a tree shrine said to have healing powers and the Athsath Tirath, representing 68 pilgrim shrines. The Parikrama continues to the Akal Takht. The complex includes the Guru ka Langar — a free kitchen symbolizing the caste-free, egalitarian society the Sikh gurus sought to create.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh

One of North India’s most remarkable rulers, Maharaja Ranjit Singh (r. 1790-1839) established Punjab’s first Sikh kingdom by persuading rival chieftains to unite. A military genius, his strong army kept both the British forces and Afghan invaders at bay by making Punjab a prosperous center of trade and industry. A devout Sikh, the one-eyed Ranjit Singh was an enlightened ruler who liked to say, “God intended me to look at all religions with one eye.”

Sikhism

With their characteristic turbans and full beards, the Sikhs are easy to identify. Sikhism is a reformist faith, founded in the 15th century by Guru Nanak. It believes in a formless God. It is also called the Gurmat, or the “Guru’s Doctrine,” and Sikh temples are known as gurdwaras, literally, “doors to the guru.” Nanak, the first of a series of ten gurus, chose his most devout disciple as his successor. The tenth and last guru, Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708), reorganized the community as a military order, the Khalsa, to combat religious persecution by the Mughals. He gave the Sikhs their distinctive identity and the Khalsa’s five symbols — kesh (long hair), kachha (underwear), kirpan (small sword), kangha (comb), and kara (bracelet)—that all Sikhs are obligated to wear.

Lower Wall

golden-temple-armitsar

This is made of white marble.

Guru Granth Sahib

guru-granth-sahib

Covered by a jeweled canopy, the Holy Book lies in the Durbar Sahib (“Court of the Lord “) .

First Floor

The marble walls have pietra dura inlay and decorative plasterwork bearing animal and flower motifs covered in gold leaf.

Hari Mandir

hari-mandir

The holiest site for Sikhs, this three-storied temple, decorated with superb pietra dura, is where the Holy Book is kept during the day.

Dome

golden-temple-dome

Shaped like an inverted lotus, the dome is covered in 220 lbs (100 kg) of gold donated by Ranjit Singh in 1830.

Darshani Deorhi

darashi-deorhi

This gateway provides the first glimpse of the temple’s inner sanctum. It has two splendid silver doors and sacred verses carved on its walls.

Causeway

causeway

The 200-ft (60-m) long marble causeway is flanked by nine gilded lamps on each side, and leads to the temple across the Amrit Sarovar.

Amrit Sarovar

amrit-sarovar

The pool where Sikhs are baptized was built in 1577 by Ram Das, the 4th guru.

Akal Takht

akal-takht

The seat of the supreme governing body of the Sikhs, this houses the gurus’ swords and flagstaffs, as well as the Holy Book at night.

Sheesh Mahal

The Hall of Mirrors, on the top floor of the Hari Mandir, has a curved bangaldar roof, and its floors are swept with a special broom made of peacock feathers.

Guru Parab

The festival of Guru Parab celebrates Guru Nanak’s birthday on a full Moon night in late October-early November (date varies). It is particularly spectacular at the Golden Temple, which is illuminated by thousands of lamps.

Key Dates

589-1601: The Golden Temple is constructed,, under the care of the Sikhs’ 4th guru, Arjan Dev.
1760s: Muslim Afghans attack the Golden Temple and raze it to the ground on several occasions.
1776: The Khalsa (Sikh Commonwealth) rebuild the Golden Temple.
1830: Maharaja Ranjit Singh adorns the temple’s dome with gold.
1984: The temple is damaged during Operation Blue Star, undertaken by the army to flush out extremists.
2003: The Punjab govern­ment funds an extensive project to beautify the area around the Golden Temple.

Explore The Cultural Side Of India

MYSURU DASARA – For 10 days every year, Mysuru magically transforms itself from a laid-back town to a bustling, joyous and vivid centre of life during the famous Mysuru Dasara. The entire town turns into a pageant of splendour, custom, tradition, pomp and show, with gaiety, music, dance, and frolic, and a bit of the contemporary thrown in. At the heart of this is the Mysuru Palace which is not only decorated and lit up but is also where the scion of the erstwhile royal family holds a traditional darbar and many concerts are hosted each day.

MYSURU DASARA

MYSURU DASARA

Elsewhere in the city, there are sports contests, wrestling matches, theatre, music and folk dance performances, a huge fair on the exhibition grounds, adventure activities, flower shows and food melas, and a host of other activities. The spectacle culminates in spectacular fashion on Vijayadashami with the Jambu Savari, a long procession with elephants, mounted police, vintage cars and floats, and ends with a torchlight parade at nightfall.

CHITRA SANTHE – This is street art at its best. For a whole day, on a Sunday in January, the road in front of Karnataka’s premier art institute, Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat, in Bengaluru is closed to traffic and artists from all over the country display their work. There is possibly nothing like this anywhere else as thousands of artists—professional, amateur, hobbyists and part-time—get a single platform to showcase their talent. Lakhs of visitors arrive to savour this open-air display.

Indian Wildlife: Diversity, Beauty And Wilderness

SANCTUARIES AND NATIONAL PARKS

Karnataka has a vast and enviable forest cover, endowed with thick vegetation, wildlife and birds. The state is known to have some of the best and largest jungle tracts in South India. So much so that it is home to a staggering 13 national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and bird sanctuaries. The most famous and popular among them is the Nagarhole National Park, among the best-managed in the country. It is a 575-sq-km stretch of reserve forest with dense vegetation and teeming with wildlife.

Nagarhole National Park

Nagarhole National Park

The forest is very picturesque and is home to tigers, leopards, elephants, gaur, sambar and other mammals, birds and reptiles. Also popular is Bandipur National Park, one of India’s best tiger reserves. It is separated from Nagarhole by the Kabini reservoir, but is otherwise contiguous with it as well as with the Mudumalai and Wayanad sanctuaries. It possesses spectacular biodiversity and with the beautiful mist-covered Nilgiris in the background, this park is known for its scenic beauty as well. In addition, there are also the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary and the Kokkrebellur Pelicanry.

COASTAL BELT & BEACHES

Karnataka’s coastal stretch from Mangaluru to Karwar, about 320 km, is possibly one of the state’s best-kept secrets—with hills and forests, rivers and streams, paddy fields and groves of coconut and areca nut. It curves around them, rising steeply and then dipping over hillocks. The road is mostly busy, considering the area is home to the temple towns of Udupi, Gokarnaand Murudeshwar, all of which draw pilgrims by the thousands. Predictably, a substantial number of these spill over happily onto the beaches. So it’s not the most ideal area for nature communions or lotus-eating. The journey starts in Mangaluru with lovely beaches, especially at Ullal, and delicious food.

Udupi

Udupi Beach

About an hour north is Udupi with the adorable 800-year-old Krishna Temple, temple town quirks and lip-smacking food such as dosa and. idli at Mitra Samaj. West of Udupi is Malpe, which has a beach, a bustling fishing port and the entry way to St. Mary’s Island, full of dramatic pillar-like rock formations rising out of the sea. Farther up the road is Maravanthe, a surreal stretch with the Arabian Sea on one side and the gently flowing Souparnika river on the other. At Murudeshwar, with its gigantic Shiva idol and the temple, as well as at Gokarna, with its iconic temple, it is spirituality that rules but the beaches offer a fabulous counterpoint. And if it is more beaches that you are looking for, then stop at Honnavar for a tranquil getaway or head to Karwar where there is a decent beach enhanced by the Naval Ship Museum or to Devbagh which is ideal for solitude.

Karnataka: History, Culture And Impressive Views

It’s a potent and diverse combination that has made Karnataka an irresistible and popular state even as it maintains an understated aspect that is extremely attractive. Ancient heritage sites, ethereal temples, scenic mountain ranges and ill stations, dense jungles teeming with wildlife, pristine beaches—all of these and much more have contributed to its consistent ranking among the top five most-visited states in India. And frequent visitors will tell you it’s the sheer variety that keeps drawing them back and keeping them enthralled.

HERITAGE

HAMPI – Nothing in the world can compare with Hampi, the magnificent ruins of South India’s greatest kingdom, the 15th-century Vijayanagara empire. Situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Krishnadevaraya is held to be the most important and progressive king of the dynasty to have ruled the region. Spread over an estimated 40 sq km, this is considered the world’s largest outdoor museum.

HAMPI Temple

HAMPI Temple

It comprises royal buildings, temples, fortifications, baths, stables, public places, markets, pavilions and thousands of elegantly carved pillars, each of which tells a story of its own. Even a week in Hampi is considered inadequate to see the ruins properly, but the most breathtaking landmarks are the king’s palace, Mahanavami Dibba, Lotus Mahal, the elegant Queen’s Bath, elephant stables, Virupaksha Temple, Vithala Temple, Hazara Rama Temple, and the images of Narasimha and Ganesha. Also worth a visit is Anegundi, which predates the Vijayanagara kingdom and is believed to be the mythical Kishkindapuri, the abode of Sugriva in the Ramayana.

BELUR-HALEBID – Often clubbed together, the two 12th-century temples at Belur and Halebidu, separated by about 15 km, are classic examples of the exquisite temple architecture of the Hoysalas. Especially noteworthy are certain pathbreaking advances in temple architecture such as use of lathes to create beautifully carved pillars and the use of the dynamic square to obtain the star structure. The Channakeshava Temple at Belur is a living temple and is characterised by its star shape, magnificent friezes on the outside, bearing stories from the Puranas, mythology and folklore. The most famous of the sculptures are the shilabalikes or celestial nymphs. The Hoysaleshwara and Kedareshwara Temples at Halebidu are in ruins and the central deity is missing, but the structures are still beautiful.

GOL GUMBAZ – The influence of the Adil Shahi kings is a strong presence in Bijapur. But amidst the many palaces, forts and mausoleums, the massive Gol Gumbaz, the mausoleum of Mohammad Adil Shah, dominates the town’s urbanscape. The structure is awe-inspiring for its sheer size and symmetrical beauty. Built in the mid-17th century, the Gol Gumbaz is considered the second largest dome in the world and is renowned not just for its architectural brilliance but acoustics as well. A mere whisper or a soft clap resonates 11 times all over the inside of the dome. The octagonal spires on four sides and cornices are also worthy of note.

Gol-Gumbaz

GOL GUMBAZ

SRIRANGAPATNA This 18th-century island fortress was the stronghold of Tipu Sultan. The ruined fortress stands in mute testimony to passing time, but there are remnants that speak of the era of the Tiger of Mysore. These include the Dariya Daulat, the Gumbaz where Tipu, his father, Hyder Ali, and other royalty are buried, the Jama Masjid, the Ranganathaswamy Temple, the obelisk, and the Wellesley Bridge.

TAJ LAKE PALACE, UDAIPUR

A matchless way to experience Udaipur, the Taj Lake Palace is one of India’s most romantic destinations. With its distinguishing character, it reincarnates the elegant lifestyles of India’s fabled Rajput royalty.

USP – The exquisite Lake Palace is like a sparkling jewel on Lake Pichola. A palace, floating in the centre of the tranquil waters, is the chief attraction. This fantasy in white marble has a supreme location, unique ambience, majestic infrastructure and exquisite architecture. It was built by Maharana Jagat Singhji II as a pleasure palace. In 1971 the Taj stepped in, giving guests a peek into the class and indulgence that had thus far been reserved for royalty. The Jiva Spa Boat is a first of its kind, evoking the majestic ambience of the traditional barges and the beautiful island-palaces of the royal family of Udaipur, this elegant floating spa is an experience unique to Taj Lake Palace.

TAJ-LAKE-PALACE

TAJ LAKE PALACE

HERITAGE PICK – The foundation stone of the palace was laid in 1743 and it was inaugurated in 1746 as Jag Niwas. It was turned into one of the most idealistic hotels in the world by Maharana Bhagwat Singhji in 1963.

BLENDING HISTORY WITH LUXURY – The lifestyle of the Mewar royals was truly luxurious. The unique glass mosaic work across the palace and some of the luxurious suites have always attracted attention to the bygone era. This is coupled with the best in traditional Indian hospitality offered by Taj.

PRIZED ARTEFACT – These are the only palace domes to be adorned with Belgian crystals—a result of the infatuation of a Maharana with the novelty of the then times.

THE OBEROI AMARVILAS, AGRA

The hotel enjoys an unrivalled position amongst luxury hotels in Agra, located just 600 metres from the iconic Taj Mahal. Accommodation comes with uninterrupted views of the Taj Mahal.

USP – As befits a brand whose name is tantamount with homespun extravagance in India, Amarvilas is a carnival of Indian craftsmanship and Mughal architecture. Guests can avail of first-class admission to the Taj Mahal and buy tickets and handpick guides at the hotel, take gratis golf cart transfers to the entrance, or go by horse-drawn carriage for a small fee, and of course simply walk as it’s so close by.

HERITAGE PICK – Throughout the Amarvilas one can find traditional crafts and materials like gold-leaf frescoes and wood carvings that are a hallmark of the royal Mughal style. The pattern on the dome pays tribute to the great Mughal era and is similar to that of the Taj Mahal.

THE-OBEROI-AMARVILAS

THE OBEROI AMARVILAS

BLENDING HISTORY WITH LUXURY – The hotel is bursting with elaborate filigree and marble inset work, jali, gold leaf work, wood carving and hand-woven tapestries. Creamy sandstone walls are frescoed or finished with lime plaster, teak panelling, hand-knotted silk throws and block-printed drapes embellish the spaces, and the swimming pool is sunk into a garden.

PRIZED ARTEFACT – The gold-leaf painting, an ancient art form from Persia, is found in the lobby dome, lobby lounge and the colonnade area of the hotel.

ITC MARATHA, MUMBAI

Symbolising ITC Hotels’ philosophy of responsible luxury, the ITC Maratha, Mumbai also pays homage to the Maratha dynasty of the region, which reflects in its architecture and design, service rituals and cuisine. A LEED Platinum-certified building, the entire electrical energy needs of the hotel are met through wind energy.

USP – The interiors are adorned with Maratha-inspired art, the local tribal art form of Warli, Paithani silks and artefacts, coins and jewellery—all evocative of the region’s rich heritage. The local culinary favourites are presented at Peshwa Pavilion, the hotel’s restaurant, in an exclusive menu called Local Love. Complementing these are Food Sherpa trails enabled by the hotels’ chefs, which trace the city’s most iconic dishes and the influence of the locale’s history and culture on its cuisine.

HERITAGE PICK – The hotel’s exterior is in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, seen in prominent landmarks such as the General Post Office, Ballard Estate, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus Railway Station, Prince of Wales Museum and Gateway of India. The dome roof outside has been inspired by Bombay University and Victoria Terminus (now the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus Railway Station).

ITC-MARATHA

ITC MARATHA

BLENDING HISTORY WITH LUXURY – The hotel’s Presidential Suite, the Shivaji Suite, draws inspiration from Chhatrapati Shivaji. The rooms have been beautified with Paithani silk bolsters, silk curtains and photographs of Mumbai’s landmark buildings. The architecture and design of the hotel has been inspired by the region and includes indigenous art forms and artefacts. Guests can experience authentic Maharashtrian cuisine in the luxurious environs of the Peshwa Pavilion.

PRIZED ARTEFACT – The Warli paintings that adorn the wall of the hotel’s Executive Club wing on the 11th floor This tribal form of art originates from the North Sahyadris in Maharashtra and dates back to the mythical Mahabharata and Ramayana eras.

RANJIT’S SVAASA, AMRITSAR

A heritage boutique spa ksveli, Ranjit’s SVAASA is a tribute by a wife to her late husband. The over 200-year-old ancestral haveli has been restored, offering boutique rooms and suites and an award-winning holistic spa in the holy city of Amritsar. The warm, personalised service with ancient architecture sciences and the fact that it is the first property in Amritsar with rainwater harvesting and solar heating, and also its usage of vaastu and age-old healthy cooking practices add up to a holistic experience.

USP – It was the erstwhile guesthouse of the late Rai Bahadur Rattan Chand Mehra, O.B.E., who played a key role in establishing the international dry port of green tea and wholesale market within the walled city of Amritsar that exists and runs till date. He also played a pivotal role in the management of the Harmandir Sahib (before the formation of the SGPC) and the local town planning outside the walled city.

RANJIT'S-SVAASA

RANJIT’S SVAASA

HERITAGE PICK – There is a story that after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Rattan Chand Mehra was called upon by the British government to come to the Town Hall and change the statement in favour of General Dyer as his word held more weight than the entire city of Amritsar. In return, he would be knighted and the family would gain immense wealth and much more. He refused. On the day he died, the entire city downed its shutters in tribute. He was proud of his ancestry and said that when he saluted the British it was with a cat’s-eye ring turned inwards so that he was saluting his own lineage. His portrait with the ring on his little finger still hangs in the corridor of Ranjit’s SVAASA.

BLENDING HISTORY WITH LUXURY – You enter into the Time Corridor, lined with photographs going back eight generations. The suites at Ranjit’s SVAASA are named after ancestors with the Rattan Chand Suite being the most lavish. Where once stood the cowshed and the horse stables is the renowned SVAASA Spa—Hibiscus Pavilion. The young staff is personally selected by Abhimanyu Rattan Mehra. The concept of Ranjit’s SVAASA, created by Rama Ranjit Mehra, is of a home away from home.

PRIZED ARTEFACT – The beautiful silk hand-woven Persian carpet It was made by a craftsman who only made four of a kind. He presented it to the late Ranjit Rattan Mehra for help extended in his hour of need.