Amer Fort, Jaipur

Monument – Amer Fort, Jaipur
Built by – Raja Maan Singh, expanded by Raja Jai Singh I

The city of Amer derives its name from the Ambikeshwar Temple, built atop the Cheel ka Teela. Ambikashwara is a local name for the God Shiva. However, the local folklore suggests that the fort derives its name from Amba, Goddess Durga.

Amer Fort, also known as Amber Fort, is situated in Amer, Rajasthan. The town of Amer was originally built by Meenas and later ruled by Raja Man Singh. Amer Fort is known for its large ramparts and collection of gates and cobbled paths. The Fort overlooks Maota Lake, a significant water source for Amer Palace.

Constructed in red sandstone and marble, the Amer Palace is laid on four levels, each designed with a central courtyard. Popularly known as Amer Palace, it was the residence of the Rajput Maharajas as well as their families.

As it stands now, the Amer Fort was built over the remnants of this earlier structure during the reign of Raja Man Singh, the Kachwaha King of Amer. The structure was fully expanded by his descendant, Jai Singh I. Even later, Amer Fort underwent improvements and additions by successive rulers over the next 150 years until the Kachwahas shifted their capital to Jaipur during the time of Sawai Jai Singh II in 1727.

Photo Courtesy – www.theudaipurstore.com

Statue of Unity, Kevadiya, Gujarat

Monument – Statue of Unity, Kevadiya, Gujarat
Built by – Sculptor Ram V Sutar in 2018

The world’s tallest statue – the 182-metre Statue of Unity, is dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Architect of Independent India. The Statue of Unity overlooks the vast surrounds and the river basin of the Narmada River and the sprawling Sardar Sarovar dam. It stands on the Sadhu Bet hillock, connected by a 300-metre bridge, which offers access from the mainland to the statue.

The colossal monument is a tribute to India ‘from the people of Gujarat’ to the leader who placed people’s welfare first. Sardar Patel served as India’s initial home minister and deputy Prime minister and was a supporter of Mahatma Gandhi.

Sardar Patel is also known as the “”Unifier of India””. He is well recognised for bringing together 562 kingdoms of India and a large portion of the old British Raj to build the Indian Union.

As a part of an outreach programme for the project, the state government had asked Indian farmers to donate their used farming equipment to collect iron needed for the statue of Sardar Patel.

Photo Courtesy – www.yatrablog.com

Lotus Temple, Delhi

Monument – Lotus Temple, Delhi
Built by – Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba in 1986

The Lotus Temple is a matchless architectural marvel in the National Capital, New Delhi. Lotus Temple in Delhi is the only Bahai House of Worship in Asia.

Did you know why this Bahai House of Worship is known as Lotus Temple? Lotus is a symbol of love and purity. It gives the message of immortality. The Bahai House of Worship believes in religious unity, and hence this Bahai Temple was designed like a lotus temple. The design then led to the name “”Lotus Temple””.

The Temple is designed as a half-opened Lotus flower with 27 free-standing petals made of marble. The Lotus Temple is a place of religious unity. It symbolises oneness, peace and humanity. There are no altars or pulpits inside the Lotus Temple, a common feature of all Bahai Houses of Worship. Bahai House of Worship does not allow ritualistic ceremonies and has no fixed pattern to conduct worship.

The interiors are devoid of statues, pictures, or images. The nine pools of water around the petals are an eye-catching feature of the temple. They give the impression of a half-bloomed lotus in a water body, and the whole structure looks spectacular when illuminated at night.

On your next visit to Delhi, plan a trip to Lotus Temple and experience the calmness and serenity that the temple has to offer.

 

Photo Courtesy – www.so.city.com

Jantar Mantar, Delhi

Monument – Jantar Mantar, Delhi
Built by – Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur in 1724

Built in 1724 by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur, Jantar Mantar Delhi is one of the five astronomical observatories built by the king in Northern India. Its striking combinations of geometric forms have caught the attention of architects, artists and art historians worldwide.

Jantar Mantar” literally means “instruments for measuring the harmony of the heavens”. It consists of 13 architectural astronomy instruments. It was designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye. It is a part of the tradition of Ptolemaic positional astronomy, which was common in many civilisations.

The other 4 Jantar Mantar observatories are located in Ujjain, Mathura, Varanasi and Jaipur. While the purpose of the Jantar Mantar was astronomy and astrology, they are also a major tourist attraction and a significant monument to the history of astronomy.

 

Photo Courtesy – www.fabhotels.com

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Monument – Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
Built by – Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799

Hawa Mahal, the pride of Rajasthan’s pink city, Jaipur, was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799. Khetri Mahal in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, was the inspiration behind the construction of this marvellous “”Palace of Breeze””.

Lal Chand Ustad designed this five-storied structure as an extension of the City Palace. From the City Palace’s edge, Hawa Mahal extends to the women’s chambers, aka zenana. During those days, the Purdah system was strictly followed, and Royal Rajpur women weren’t allowed to show their faces to strangers or even appear in public.

Designed in red and pink sandstone, this one-of-its-kind palace boasts a pyramidal shape. The facade of the building with its 953 windows resembles a honeycomb structure. There are no stairs to reach the upper floors of the palace. Ramps were built, instead, as it was easy to carry palanquins of Rajput royal ladies on ramps.

The architecture of Hawa Mahal features a splendid fusion of Islamic, Mughal, and Rajput architectural styles. Its domed canopies, floral patterns, lotus motifs, and fluted pillars reflect the rich Rajput style. Complementing these elements is the filigree work in stone and elegant arches, both of which draw influence from the Islamic style of architecture.

An archaeological museum in the Hawa Mahal’s courtyard displays a fine collection of antiques, weapons, and other items used by the royals. The museum was established in 1983 and will give you a glimpse into the region’s royal past.

 

 

Photo Courtesy – www.india-a2z.com

Stone Chariot – Hampi, Karnataka

Monument – Stone Chariot – Hampi, Karnataka
Built by – King Krishnadevaraya of Vijaynagara Empire in 16th century

Stone Chariot was built in the 16th century by the orders of King Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire. The emperor is said to have been impressed by the Sun temple of Konark during the war with Kalinga and wanted to recreate a similar one in Hampi.

Hampi is a UNESCO world heritage site known for Stone Chariot. This is not a chariot, as the name suggests, but rather a shrine built like a chariot. Located in front of the Vijay Vittala Temple, the stone chariot is dedicated to Garuda, the official vehicle of Lord Vishnu.

In mythology, Lord Vittala is an aspect of Lord Vishnu. Garuda (lord of eagles) is the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. The Stone Chariot once contained the icon on Garuda, though the shrine is empty now. This shrine is on the axis of the massive Vittala Temple and faces the sanctum of Vittala Temple.

Built in Dravidian style, the chariot has carvings depicting mythical battle scenes. Standing on two giant wheels, two elephants are seen pulling the chariot. Stone Chariot is made of multiple smaller stones assembled to perfection.

Vittala Temple and the Stone Chariot inside are must-do things in your Hampi itinerary.

Photo Courtesy – www.hampi.in

Gateway of India, Mumbai

Monument – Gateway of India
Built by – George Wittet in 1911

The Gateway of India was built to celebrate and honour the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India for their formal proclamation as Emperor and Empress of India at the Delhi Durbar in December 1911.

The Gateway of India is a Triumphal Arch built predominantly in an Indo-Saracenic architectural style with a fusion of Muslim elements. Made with yellow basalt stones and enmeshed with reinforced concrete at the foundations, the stone for its construction was sourced locally. The architectural style was introduced by Britishers and combined diverse elements of Hindu and Muslim architecture with Gothic cusped arches, domes, spires, minarets and stained glass windows, all blended in a playful style.

The most popular tourist attraction, it is the unofficial icon of Mumbai and a reminder of the rich colonial history. The first structure to welcome visitors entering by sea, it is also called the ‘Taj Mahal of Mumbai.

 

Photo Courtesy – Google sites

Maitreya Buddha Statue, Nubra Valley, Leh Ladakh

In the Buddhist tradition, Maitreya means the future Buddha who is presently a Bodhisattva residing in the Tushita heaven. Is it believed that he will descend to earth to preach new dharma when the teachings of Gautham Buddha have entirely decayed.

The most prominent feature of Ladakh, the Maitreya Buddha statue, is an impressive and stately structure. Noted for its intricate carvings, brilliant craftsmanship and vivid colours, the figure of Jampa Buddha is perched on the top of Diskit monastery located at an altitude of 10,308 ft in Nubra Valley.

The statue was constructed in 2006 to promote peace and protection in the region. It was officially inaugurated in 2010 by H H Dalai Lama. The statue faces the Shyok River towards Pakistan and is about 32 M in height.

The hall beneath the statue houses a wide variety of Buddhist Literature and a collection of sculptures, including those of Shakyamuni Buddha and Guru Rimpoche. The gold used in the statue’s construction was donated by the heads of significant Monasteries from the nearby areas. The natives of the valley helped construct this statue, a symbol of peace and prosperity.

Photo credit – www.istockphoto.com