Vadnagar Kirti Toran, Vadnagar

Monument – Vadnagar Kirti Toran, Vadnagar
Built by – Pancham Mehta (Local leader at that point)
Built in – 12th century

The town of Vadnagar is known for its pair of toranas, a pair of 12th-century columns supporting an arch. The red and yellow sandstone Kirti Torans are about 40 feet tall and located just north of the walled city of Vadnagar.

The traditional folklore narrates the story of the Kirti Torans. It is believed that these torans were perhaps erected to commemorate a victory in war. The intricate carvings depict battle and hunting scenes. The carving style is similar to the Rudra Mahalaya at Sidhpur.

These Toranas stand majestically on the bank of Sharmistha Talav, along the road from Arjun Bari. One of the few surviving examples of the entrance gates, a prominent architectural element of Gujarat during the Solanki Period. The Torana on the eastern end is used as a symbol of Gujarat in recent times.

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Taj Hotel, Mumbai

Monument – Taj Hotel, Mumbai
Built by – Indian architects Raosaheb Vaidya and DN Mirza
Built in – 1902

“‘Diamond by the sea’ – the Taj Mahal Palace is an architectural jewel in Mumbai. The foundation of the Taj was laid in 1898, and the hotel opened its gates to guests for the first time on December 16, 1902, even before the foundation for the Gateway of India was laid in 1911.

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is located in Colaba, beside the Gateway of India. It used to be the first sight calling at the Bombay port before constructing the Gateway of India. The Taj Hotel was also the first building to be lit by electricity in Bombay.

The six-storied hotel has a magnificent Indo-Saracenic architectural style with a central Moorish dome. The hotel boasts of many firsts in the Indian hospitality industry – it used American fans, German elevators, Turkish baths and English butlers to give the people of its city an experience like no other hotel in the country.

Taj was converted into a hospital with 600 beds during World War I. On 26th November 2008, it was hit by a series of unfortunate incidents. Taj reopened its gates after restoration on 15th August 2010. It symbolises the strength and resilience of the people of India.”

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Sun Temple, Modhera

Monument – Sun Temple, Modhera
Built by – Bhima I of the Chalukya Dynasty
Built in –  11th Century

“One of the most exquisitely-sculpted temples in India, the Sun Temple in Modhera Gujarat, is a prominent shrine dedicated to Hindu Sun God. Even though no worship is offered here anymore, Modhera holds a special place in the history and culture of Gujarat.

Legend says that after the legendary battle with Ravana, Lord Rama and Sita stopped here on their way back to Ayodhya. Here, Rama conducted a yajna to cleanse himself of the sin of killing a Brahmin, namely Ravana. The yajna was performed by a local Brahmin who belonged to the Modh community, and from there, the name Modhera was born. So goes the legend.

The Modhera Sun temple also mentions the old texts of Skanda Purana and Brahma Purana. They refer to Modhera and its surrounding forests as the forest of Dharmaranya or the forest of righteousness.

The Modhera Sun Temple, Gujarat, is one of the state’s main attractions. It falls on the Tropic of Cancer (23.5836° N, 72.1401° E). It is situated in the village of Modhera. The sun temple boasts a rich culture unique to it. It was named one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2014.

Speculation has been rife as to who built the sun temple. But nearly all evidence points to Bhīma I of the Chalukyas dynasty. The year was 1024 AD when Mahmud Ghazni invaded the kingdom ruled by Bhīma I. It became an unfortunate event for the invaders as Bhīma emerged victoriously. So it is said that the temple was constructed to celebrate this victory.

The temple was constructed during the 11th century. Nearly a sister, the Konark Sun temple was only built much later, in the 13th century.

Built in the Chaulukya or Maru Gurjara style, the Modhera Sun Temple is a treat to the eye of the beholder. One of its kind, the sun temple is a tribute to Surya Dev. Abound with exotic carvings and numerous pillars; it tells the tale of an architectural style way ahead of its time.

Apart from the figures of God Surya, the temple has depictions of Gods and Goddesses like Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, and Naga. Beautiful carvings of not only the deities but also of flora and fauna are seen on the walls radiating with the passion of those who sacrificed their days and nights in constructing this marvel.

It has quite evidently survived the ravages of time, unlike the many significant structures and buildings of our past whose rubble is no longer to be seen. Most importantly, the temple withstood earthquakes and attacks by plunderers for centuries. The secret lies in its ingenious design and engineering. ”

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St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kolkata

Monument – St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kolkata
Built by – Ar. William Nairn Forbes
Built in – 1847

“St. Paul’s Cathedral is a Church of North India (CNI) cathedral of Anglican background in Kolkata. Noted for its Gothic architecture, the cathedral is dedicated to Paul the Apostle. It is the seat of the Diocese of Calcutta. Constructed in 1847, it is said to be the largest church in Kolkata and the first Anglican cathedral in Asia.

The Indo-Gothic architectural style was implemented to meet the climatic requirements of India. The cathedral complex has a library situated over the western porch and a display of plastic art forms and memorabilia.

One of the finest colonial buildings in the country, Kolkata’s St Paul’s Cathedral attracts thousands of history buffs daily. A well-curated walk inside St Paul’s Cathedral can be an interesting and meaningful experience.”

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Sarkhej Roza, Ahmedabad

Monument – Sarkhej Roza, Ahmedabad
Built by – Mehmud Begada
Built in – 1451

“Sarkhej Roza is one of the most original architectural complexes of Ahmedabad and Gujarat. It is an example of the early Islamic culture of the region, fusing Islamic stylistic influences from Persia with Hindu and Jain architectural features to form what is known as the ‘Indo-Saracenic’ style of architecture.

At the time of Ahmedabad’s founding, Sarkhej was primarily inhabited by indigo dyers and weavers. Sarkhej became renowned when Sheikh Ahmed Khattu, the revered Sufi saint, settled there. Sheikh Ahmed Khattu was an advisor to Sultan Ahmad Shah, who founded Ahmedabad and belonged to the Muzaffarid dynasty.

Sheikh Ahmed Khattu lived to the age of 111, and upon his death in 1445 CE, the then-ruling king Muhammad Shah called for the construction of a mausoleum (Roza) along with a mosque to commemorate him.

Conceived as the ‘khanqah’ (a place for spiritual retreats) of the saint, the Roza complex was built in many phases and was eventually completed by Mehmud Begada. It is an appropriate example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, where Hindu construction techniques were infused with the Islamic sense of scale and geometry. The eventual fusion and spatial organization remain very Indian.

“Why do you need to visit the Acropolis in Athens when you have this here?” These were the words that the Sarkhej Roza elicited from the famous French architect Le Corbusier in the 50s. Ever since the dynamic monument has come to be dubbed Ahmedabad’s Acropolis.

The monument complex is unique in more ways than one, as till today, both Hindu and Muslim communities living in the nearby areas visit the dargah of Sheikh Ahmad Ganj Baksh Khattu.”

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Sardar Smarak, Ahmedabad

Monument – Sardar Smarak, Ahmedabad
Built by – Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan
Built in – 1622 – Moti Shahi Mahal
1980 – Saradar Smarak

The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial in Ahmedabad was established in 1980 at the Moti Shahi Mahal. It comprises a museum, a gallery of portraits and historical pictures, and a library containing important documents and books associated with Sardar Patel and his life. Amongst the exhibits are many of Patel’s personal effects and relics from various periods of his personal and political life.

This building was called the Moti Shah Mahal and has now been renamed as the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Museum. The building dated back to the 16th century and was built during the era of the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan. Later it served as a British Cantonment for the senior officials of the Army. The 18th century saw the building being used by Rabindranath Tagore, the famous Bengali poet, as his home when he was seventeen years old. It was here that he got inspired to pen his famous story, The Hungry Stones.

After India gained independence and between the years 1960 and 1978, this building was turned into the official residence of the Governor of Gujarat and was known as the Raj Bhavan. The year 1978 saw the building being converted into a national memorial paying homage to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

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Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad

Monument –Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad
Built by – Founded by Mahatma Gandhi
Built in – 1917

“More than 100 years before, Gandhiji made the Sabarmati Ashram his home. Today it stands as a testimony of his life and his principles.

The Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad was one of the residences of Mahatma Gandhi. Situated on the banks of the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad, it was the home of Gandhiji and his wife Kasturba from 1917 to 1930. Gandhiji led the Salt Satyagrah, or Dandi March, from the Ashram on March 12, 1930. The Sabarmati Ashram was established as a national monument after the revolutionary Satyagrah.

The ashram was established at the Kocharab Bungalow, which belonged to Jivanlal Desai, a barrister, and friend of Gandhiji. Initially, the ashram was known as Satyagrah Ashram. It was later relocated to the banks of the Sabarmati River on June 17, 1917, where it was known as Sabarmati Ashram.

Today, Sabarmati Ashram is well preserved and has a museum – Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya. The museum is dedicated to preserving the work and memory of the life of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. The museum was designed by Charles Correa in 1963 and was inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru on May 10, 1963.

The simple life of Gandhi is reflected through Sabarmati Ashram’s architecture. This historical site holds a lot of significant structures within its bound. Over the years, the Ashram became home to the ideology that set India free. It aided countless other nations and people in their own battles against oppressive forces.”

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Royal Bengal Tiger

Monument – Royal Bengal Tiger

“The magnificent Panthera Tigris, with a thick yellow coat of fur with dark stripes, the Royal Bengal Tiger is the National Animal of India. These prideful felines are solitary creatures known for their grace, strength, and agility.

The Lord of the Jungle, the Royal Bengal Tiger, was honored as the National Animal of India in April 1973. The Bengal Tiger has been a national symbol of India since the time of the Indus Valley Civilization.

The Royal Bengal tigers have a unique combination and pattern of strips, and no two tigers will appear to be the same. Tigers are famed for their glowing amber eyes and round pupils. They have acute eyesight and can perceive depth quite easily. With excellent night vision, these felines are known to hunt their prey during the night.

This magnificent creature is in danger because it is being poached for skin and bones. Skin is used for various purposes in various nations, whereas its bones are used for medicinal purposes in Asian countries. Various projects like Project Tiger, Save the Tiger campaign, etc., have been launched to conserve tigers in India.

Let’s join hands to protect the National Animal of India.”

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Patang Hotel, Ahmedabad

Monument – Patang Hotel, Ahmedabad
Built by – Ar. Hasmukh Patel
Built in – 1980-1984

“Patang Hotel, officially Neelkanth Patang – The Revolving Restaurant, is a revolving restaurant located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.

The restaurant is named Patang, literally a fighter kite in the Gujarati language. It was designed by architect Hasmukh Patel. The restaurant and the adjoining Chinubhai Centre, a commercial complex, were built in 1980–1984.

The design was inspired by Chabutaro, a traditional tower-like structure where the birds are fed. According to the 2018 Limca Book of Records, it was the first revolving restaurant at 221 feet (67 m) above ground level in India. It completes a 360-degree revolution in 90 minutes.

Located near the Sabarmati Riverfront on the banks of the Sabarmati River, the Patang Hotel offers a spectacular view of both the old and new Ahmedabad.”

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Panchkuva Darwaja, Ahmedabad

Monument – Panchkuva Darwaja, Ahmedabad
Built by – Mahmud Begada
Built in – 1871

“Panchkuva Darwaja was built as a part of the second fortified wall built by Mahmud Begada during the expansion of the walled city. Built by the British, this is the last gate to be built in the city. Quaint streets bustling with local chatter, Panchkuva Darwaza stands out in the clutter. The burst of colour from the countless shopping carts around it interjects the subtlety of the stone-built wall and helps set it apart.

The word ‘Panchkuva’ connotes five wells. Perhaps there once were five wells in the vicinity of the Pachkuva Darwaja. A solitary vav remains today, located so close to this gateway that it looks like it is clinging to the gateway in a tight embrace. Given the proximity of the well to the gateway, it is quite probable that it was built to provide reprieve to the travellers.

The Panchkuva Darwaja is a sentinel of Ahmedabad. It stands strong as the last gateway of Ahmedabad.”

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