Taking vacations with your family is an integral part of growing up. From learning about new cultures and meeting new people to creating lifelong memories to cherish, travelling with your family is one of the best ways to bond together. People choose holidays of different kinds according to what they are looking for. While some are of the adventurous kind, other love to nerd it out at museums and historical monuments.
In this two-part series, we have handpicked 5 places for you where you can have a memorable vacation with your fam.
The Golden Triangle Drive: A Holiday that's also a History Lesson
A drive through the Golden Triangle is like traveling through India’s past. Perhaps the most famous tourist route in India, the Golden Triangle takes you through three of India’s most historic cities: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. It’s one of those mandatory trips that families should take, especially when they have schoolgoing kids who would love to see the pages of their history books come alive. It introduces you to the world of the Mughals and the maharajas and awes you with the architectural marvels that they have left behind.
Most travellers begin their Golden Triangle Journey by exploring the must-visit sights of Delhi, including the gorgeous Humayun’s Tomb, the age-old Purana Qila and the iconic Jama Masjid, while savouring some mouthwatering street food in the alleys of Purani Delhi.
When done monument-hopping in the capital, your next stop should be Agra. But before you embrace the unparalleled charm of the Taj, you must stop at Sikandra. This is where Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar planned his own tomb, which was completed by his son Jehangir in 1613.
The expansive grounds outside Akbar’s Tomb serve as the perfect setting for kids to play in, the elderly to soak in the sun, and partners to spend some time chilling.
Your next stop would be the Taj Mahal. Floating like a poet’s fantasy and visited by teeming crowds every day, the spellbinding Taj Mahal continues to charm visitors with its unparalleled beauty. Sculptors from Bukhara, calligraphers from Syria and Persia, inlayers from southern India and stonecutters from Baluchistan worked with 20,000 labourers from northern India for 12 years to complete the plinth and tomb and another 10 to complete the minarets, mosque, and gateway.
While in Agra, you must also visit the Agra Fort. Its origins go back to the 11th century. This is where the Mughals seized the legendary diamond, the Kohinoor. This is where the country was governed from. The best part about visiting the fort is the distant view of the Taj Mahal that you get from the rooftop here.
After Agra, you can visit Fatehpur Sikri, known for the majestic Buland Darwaza.
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"Most cities start giving the impression of being eternal as soon as they are born, but Sikri would always look like a mirage." ~Salman Rushdie #fatehpursikri #agra #worldheritageweek #worldheritage #worldheritageweek2019 #india #incredibleindia #architecture #redsandstone #mughals #sunlight #travel #travelgram #salmanrushdie
Akbar situated his imperial capital here, owing to the hallowed presence of Shaikh Salim Chishti, the Sufi saint who predicted that the heirless Akbar would soon be blessed by three sons. The saint’s exquisite marble tomb near the Jama Masjid is still a revered spot. The set of monuments here include intriguing palaces, pavilions, meeting houses, treasury, sleeping chambers, fountains, gardens and pools.
Munching on Agra’s famous pethas, take the highway to Jaipur. Low lying Aravalli hills and barren stretches lead you to the city. With narrow lanes tucked between pink sandstone walls, Jaipur’s charisma is irresistible. From vibrant markets to opulent palaces and heritage hotels, the pink city is undoubtedly one of India’s best offerings to world tourism.
You can start your Jaipur visit with the City Palace. Occupying about one-seventh of the Old City, the City Palace was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in the early 18th century. It reflects a perfect fusion of Mughal and Rajasthani cultures — decorated with pillars, arches, mehrabs, grills and beautiful inlay work, while encompassing a series of courtyards, gardens and buildings. Just a stone’s throw from the City Palace stands the intriguing Hawa Mahal. Raised by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799, the semi-octagonal structure is built in pink sandstone and it was here that the ladies of the royal family would enjoy cool breezes peculiar to the structure’s ingenious design.
A trip to Jaipur would be incomplete without visiting the Amer Fort. Located on a hillside overlooking the Maotha Lake, it was started by Akbar’s army commander, Raja Man Singh I in 1592 and completed over two centuries by Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh. Built in red sandstone and marble, it stands as a fine specimen of Mughal and Hindu
architecture. If time permits, you could also visit the Jaigarh and Nahargarh forts.
Route: From Delhi, head to Agra via Faridabad, Ballabhgarh, Palwal, Chhata and Mathura. After Fatehpur Sikri, head to Jaipur via Bharatpur, Mahua, and Dausa. Then head back to Delhi via Shahpura, Behror, and Gurgaon.
Odisha: For a holiday filled with art and culture
Most people visit Odisha to pay their obeisance to Lord Jagannath in Puri or to see the architectural marvel that is the Sun Temple of Konark. But not many are aware of the wealth of artistic and cultural heritage that the state is blessed with. From the sand art installations on Puri beach by Sudarshan Patnaik to the artist villages of Pipli and
Raghurajpur, Odisha will surprise you at every step. Cultural rogrammes, exhibitions and local festivals create a vibrant atmosphere throughout the year in Puri.
Begin your trip with a visit to the Sun Temple in Konark. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple is shaped like a grand chariot drawn by seven horses, with 12 decorated wheels on either side. It is dedicated to the Sun God and its walls are adorned with exquisite stone sculptures. From the temple, head to nearby Chandrabhaga beach for the glorious sunset views.
Visit Puri the next day, and start with the Jagannath Temple, of course. The temple complex sprawls across several acres and the lofty spire, with its flag, can be seen as far as 7 km away. The eastern gate, known as Singhadwar, is the main entrance, and opens to a flight of 22 stone steps that lead to the main temple, which in turn is surrounded by numerous smaller temples. Ahead of the main gate stands a 35-foot high pillar called Arunastambh. Brought here from Konark, it has exquisite carvings.
In the main temple are the massive and famous images of the triad, Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, carved from the log of neem trees.
Next up, imbibe in some culture and arts at Pipli and Raghurajpur. Both can be explored on your way from Bhubaneshwar to Puri. Let Pipli be your first stop. Located just off NH 203, midway between Bhubaneshwar and Puri, Pipli is blessed with a glorious artistic history that goes back to the 12th century, when the village was set up to house craftsmen who used to create applique umbrellas and canopies for the annual rath yatra.
Today Pipli is a Limca Book Record holder for the world’s largest thematic applique work. You will come across and array of applique items at every step here, including handbags, puppets, umbrellas, bags, wall hangings, lampshades and lanterns.
On your return journey from Puri to Bhubaneswar, do visit Raghurajpur where every house is an art studio. It has been developed as a heritage village by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for the revival of traditional wall paintings of Odisha.
However, what stand out are pattachitra paintings on cloth, which feature murals narrating stories from Hindu mythology. The artisans of Raghurajpur also make a wide variety of other items including etching on palm leaf, pottery, wooden carvings and wooden toys.
For an extra dose of culture, try and plan your vacation around the months of February and March, when this little village plays host to the annual Vasant Utsav. The festival is dedicated to Odissi performances, thanks to the impressive dance tradition of Raghurajpur. The village is also renowned as the birthplace of legendary Odissi dancer Kelucharan
Mohapatra. Raghurajpur is located just a mile away from Chandanpur on the Puri-Bhubaneswar route.
Route: From Bhubaneswar, take the NH203 to Puri via Dhauli, Pipli, Sakshigopal and Chandanpur.