Varanasi also commonly known as Benares or Banaras and Kashi is a city situated on the left (west) bank of the River Ganga (Ganges) in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, regarded as holy by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. It is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world.
The Kashi Naresh ( of Kashi) is the chief cultural patron of Varanasi and an essential part of all religious celebrations. The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river's religious importance. The city has been a cultural and religious centre in northern India for several thousand years.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
The temple is located in the premises of the Banaras Hindu University and is about a thirty minutes walk from the gates of the university. The temple, built by the Birlas, was planned by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. Unlike many other temples in Varanasi, this temple is open to all irrespective of caste or creed.
The ghats though some of them have crumbled over the years, continue to thrive with early-morning bathers, Brahmin priests offering puja and people practicing meditation and yoga. Though most of the ghats are used for bathing, there are several 'burning ghats' were bodies are cremated. The pilgrims here are supposed to bathe at five special ghats in a sequence during a ritual called the Panchatirthi Yatra. For the casual visitor however the easiest way to see the ghats is to follow a south-north sequence either by boat or on foot.
By Air: Varanasi is well connected and accessible to major Indian cities and tourist spots. There are daily domestic flights to and from Varanasi to several cities in India. Apart from the state owned Indian Airlines, there are many private air taxi operators that offer their services from Varanasi to other Indian cities.
By Rail: Since Varanasi lies in the heartland of the North Indian plains, it is well connected to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and other parts of India. There are two railway stations in Varanasi, the Kashi Junction and the Varanasi Junction (also known as Varanasi Cantonment). Rajdhani Express from Delhi or from Calcutta passes through Varanasi.
By Road: Situated in the flat Ganga plains, Varanasi has a good network of roads. frequent public and private buses and road transport to all the major towns of Uttar Pradesh and nearby areas.
Agra is a city on the banks of the Yamuna River in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It finds mention in the epic Mahabharata where it was called Agreva?a , or 'the border of the forest'. Legend ascribes the founding of the city to Raja Badal Singh (around 1475), whose fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the present Fort. However, the 11th century Persian poet Mas'ud Sa'd Salman writes of a desperate assault on the fortress of Agra, then held by the Shahi King Jayapala, by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. Sultan Sikandar Lodi was the first to move his capital from Delhi to Agra in the year 1506; he died in 1517 and his son Ibrahim Lodi remained in power there for nine more years, finally being defeated at the in 1526.
The symbol of eternal love, the Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in memory of his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal, who died at a young age of 38 while giving birth to their 14th child. Situated on the bank of Yamuna River, the Taj Mahal represents a fine blend of Mughal, Persian, Central Asian, and Islamic architecture. The most impressive and remarkable features of the Taj Mahal is one of the most visited and most photographed monuments in the world.
The Mughal Emperor Akbar laid the foundation of the Agra Fort in 1565 AD. It took eight years to complete this massive fort at a cost of 3.5 million rupees at that time. After Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan also added some new features to the fort. The fort is known for its magnificent architectural styles reflected in its various features. Some of the main attractions in the fort include the Diwan-e-Aam, the Diwan-e-Khas, the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), the Nagina Masjid and the Palace of Mirrors.
Tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah
Built by Noor Jaha - the wife of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir -- in memory of his father, the white marble tomb represents a fine example of Indo-Persian architecture. Enjoying the privilege of being the first marble tomb of the Mughal period, the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah must be visited to see its beautiful inlay designs and carvings, which are considered even superior to the Taj Mahal. The tomb is popularly known as the 'Baby Taj'.
Located at a distance of about 37 Km from Agra, the Red Sandstone town of Fatehpur Sikri was built by Akbar as his capital during 1571 and 1585. The city represents a fine blend of Indo- Mughal architecture. The main attractions at Fatehpur Sikri are the Buland Darwaza (54m high) - the largest gateway in the world and the tomb of famous Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti.
By Air: Agra has an airport where domestic flights from major cities land. Both government and private airways operate to Agra. The Delhi Agra flight is a short flight of 40 minutes. There are daily round trip flights from Delhi to Agra, Khajuraho and Varanasi, with a return to Delhi. Agra airport is located 7 Km from the center of the city.
By Rail: Agra is conveniently connected to Delhi by railway lines. Many trains connect Delhi and Agra, including luxury trains such as the Palace on Wheels. Agra Station is known as Agra Cantonment Station.
By Road: Agra is easily accessible by road from Delhi. The National Highway from Delhi is well maintained. The 204 km distance from Delhi to Agra is a smooth drive. Various government and private buses operate along this route, taxicabs are also easy to find. Agra's main bus terminuses are Idgah bus stand and Agra Fort bus stand.
Human habitation was probably present in and around Delhi during the second millennium BC and before, and continuous inhabitation has been evidenced since at least the 6th century BC. The city is believed to be the site of Indraprastha, legendary capital of the Pandavas in the Indian epic Mahabharata. Settlements grew from the time of the Mauryan Empire (c. 300 BC). Remains of seven major cities have been discovered in Delhi.
The National Capital Territory of Delhi is spread over an area of 1,484 km2 (573 sq mi), of which 783 km2 (302 sq mi) is designated rural, and 700 km2 (270 sq mi) urban. Delhi has a maximum length of 51.9 km (32 mi) and the maximum width of 48.48 km (30 mi). There are three local bodies (statutory towns) namely, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (area is 1,397.3 km2 or 540 sq mi), New Delhi Municipal Committee (42.7 km2 or 16 sq mi) and Delhi Cantonment Board (43 km2 or 17 sq mi).
The president's mansion is situated on Raisina Hill in the center of Delhi, overlooking the green lawns around India Gate. This elegant building is truly worth seeing, for its architectural beauty and historic significance. The beautiful Mughal Gardens of Rashtrapati Bhawan, which are open to the public in spring, are an added attraction.
Located in Central Delhi, this elegant building with its wide pillared walkways and large halls, is worth a visit, to see the corridors of power where India's lawmakers and statesmen decide the future of India
Situated on Rajpath, in the center of Delhi, this 42-meter high arch was designed by Edwin Lutyens, in memory of the Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the First World War their names can be seen inscribed on the arch. The Amar Jawan Jyoti, an eternal flame, burns in memory of the Unknown Soldier, beneath the shelter of the arch, which is surrounded by green lawns, fountains and water bodies - an evergreen picnic zone in the heart of central Delhi.
This grand fort built during the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's reign, this majestic building made of red sandstone is the location from where the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation every Independence Day. The Diwan-e-khas, and Diwan-e-am, the weaponry museum and the sound and light show are all worth seeing at the Red Fort.
Built during the reign of Sultan Qutub-ud-din Aibak in 1199 A.D., this 72.5 m high pillar is a symbol of the Delhi Sultanate. Near it can be seen the ruins of Kila Ri Pithora, the fort of Prithviraj Chauhan, and an amazing iron pillar from Gupta times which has not yet rusted.
Built during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid's large courtyard, onion domes and central tank are built of red sandstone and white marble in the Indo-Islamic style.
By Air: Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport is connected to all the important cities of the world with almost all the major international airlines operating out of here. Palam Domestic Airport connects Delhi to the major cities in India.
By Rail: The Indian Railway with their modern and organized network connects Delhi to all major and minor destinations in India. The city has three major railway stations at New Delhi, Old New Delhi, and Nizamuddin. Luxury trains like the Palace-on-Wheels, Fairy Queen, and Royal Orient Express can be taken from New Delhi Cantonment railway station. Rajdhani Express trains connect New Delhi from the state capitals. Shatabdi Express trains connect New Delhi to the neighboring cities.
By Road: Delhi is well connected to all the major cities of India by a network of highways and roads. Buses can be taken from the three Inter State Bus Terminuses (ISBT), at Kashmere Gate, Sarai Kale Khan and Anand Vihar, as well as many starting points in and around the city, from which various state-managed and privately run transport facilities like airconditioned, deluxe and ordinary coaches operate.