This is a natural pool on the Chembra peak in Wayanad, Kerala. Chembra peak stands at majestic 2100 meter height amidst the picturesque tea plantations in Wayanad. On top of the hill, amidst the grassland there is a heart shaped water pool. It is one of the mesmerizing sights. To see more about the trekking experience see here: Chembra Peak : A Techie's Trekking Diary

Heart shaped pool at the top of Chembra peak
Heart shaped pool at the top of Chembra peak

This look alike of Taj-Mahal is situated in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. It is known as 'Bibi Ka Maqbara'. Due to its close resemblance to Taj Mahal, it is known as "Dakkhani Taj" or the Taj Mahal of Deccan. It was also built by a Mughal Emperor. It was commissioned by Aurangazeb's son Azam Shah in the memory of his mother. It was built during 1600 - 1601. 

Unlike Taj-Mahal, Bibi Ka Maqbara is not built using the expensive white marble. However  it is a lovely place to visit for those who keen on architecture. Bibi Ka Maqbara is much less crowded than Taj Mahal, and look much pristine. 

Where this Photo was taken? Cave 32, Ellora - Maharashtra

Ellora is famous for the Kailashnath temple. At around 2 kilometers from Kailashnath temple, there is a group of Jain caves. The famous Jain cave 32 of Ellora is also called the Royal court of Indra by historians. This cave is famous for colossal yet delicate sculptures. Out of of them there are 2 masterpieces. One is the Matanga Yaksha(left) - the God of prosperity- sitting on an elephant under the Banyan tree. The second one is the Siddhaika Yakshini - the Goddess of fertility - sitting under a mango tree. The time period of these sculptures are around 850 AD. Even though the sculptures are much more than life size, the attention to detail is enormous. One can even observe the monkeys and parrots are carved on the mango tree and they are depicted as eating mangoes.

10 best sculptures of ancient India - 10 best sculptures of ancient India - Matanga Yaksha and Siddhaika Yakshini - Ellora caves
 Matanga Yaksha and Siddhaika Yakshini

Are you travelling in an airplane for first time in India? It is perfectly fine to get excited and a little nervous. When I traveled for the first time in a plane, I also felt the same. Here are some points to remember for those who travel first time in a domestic airline, specifically in India. 

By Adrian Pingstone (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Badami cave temples in Karnataka was built by the Kings of Chalukyan dynasty circa 578 CE. Badami cave temples are excavated into a huge red colored sand stone mountain. There are three cave temples dedicated to various Hindu Gods. The 4th and last cave temple of Badami is dedicated to Jain Thirthankaras. These cave temples of Badami are the house of many delicate and beautiful sculptures. There are sculptures of Hindu Gods like Shiva as the dancing Nataraja, Varaha rescuing Goddess Earth, Vishnu seated on the serpent Sesha. They are the epitome of artistic achievement of ancient India. Badami cave temples are a must visit for anyone who is interested in ancient sculptures of India. You can read about the Badami cave temple sculptures here in detail.   

Badami cave temples - Indian sculptures -Pick Pack Go
Entrance to the Badami Cave temples 

On that foggy January morning, River Hooghly looked quite calm. I was on the ferry station near the Belur Math   waiting for the ferry that service between Belur and Dakshineswar Kali temple. Belur math in Kolkata is a monastery and head quarters of Ramakrishna mission.

The ferry between Belur Math and Dakshineswar Kali temple - Kolkata
The ferry between Belur Math and Dakshineswar Kali temple - Kolkata 

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Bijapur is an archaeologically important destination located in the heart of the Deccan Plateau, Karnataka. It was the capital of the Adil Shahi dynasty during 14-17th century AD. Bijapur, however has a long history of different dynasties ruling it. It was with the Buddhist-Hindu rulers in in the first few centuries of Common Era. They include the Maurya, Kadamba and Chalukya empires. Around 11th-12th centuries CE, dynasties like Hoysalas, Kaktiyas and Yadavas were in charge of the Deccan regions.
Ibrahim Rauza - Tomb of Ibrahim II Adil Shah - Bijapur
Ibrahim Rauza - Tomb of Ibrahim II Adil Shah

Emperor Ashoka the Great(268 to 232 BC) is much more than a historical figure in India. He is considered as the most successful Indian Emperor, who conquered entire Indian subcontinent.  Most of the Indians have a feeling that Emperor Ashoka was a well-known figure throughout in Indian history from ancient times.  However, it comes as a surprise and mild shock when one learns that the existence of an Emperor named Ashoka was discovered only in 1915. It was the British archaeologists who found the existence of Ashoka the Great.

A little flash back, serious archaeological studies in Indian subcontinent started in 1784 with the establishment of the Asiatic society of Bengal  by Sir.William Johns.  Quite a few British army officers and government officials were enchanted by the archaeological treasures of India and they started the efforts to conserve and study it. Indian archaeology got a new life with the arrival of James Prinsep, a  English scholar, orientalist and antiquary to India in 1819.Prinsep was the editor of Journal of the Asiatic society of Bengal.

The Great Stupa of Sanchi built by Emperor  Ashoka
The Great Stupa of Sanchi built by Ashoka 

“Let’s go somewhere this weekend. What about Ramanagara?”

My husband was talking about trekking Ramadevarabetta (the mountain of God Rama) - A famous granite rock mountain near Ramanagara in Karnataka. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about a trekking. I am an archaeology person whose taste lies centuries behind. However, I was quite curious to see the place where the legendary movie Sholay was shot, especially after it was featured in this Google advertisement. 

one day trekking near Bangalore - Ramadevarabetta

In 1956, Dr.Vishnu Shridhar Wakankar, a senior Indian archaeologist was travelling by train from Bhopal to Itarsi in Madhya Pradesh. Train was passing through the dry and dusty barren lands near Bhimbetka -a remote place 60 km before Itarsi.  While casually looking through the windows, Dr. Wakankar observed a cluster of huge rocks in the distance. Dr.Wakankar was a specialist in ancient rock paintings and something clicked inside him as he saw those rocks. Quite unplanned, he alighted at the next railway station and walked his way back to that barren land where he spotted the rock clusters. He did not know that he was about to make an incredible discovery. He discovered numerous rock paintings and other artifacts which opened new era of Indian archaeology. Later his discovery was widely celebrated as the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters which is believed to be inhabited by Paleolithic men as early as 30,000 BC.

Bhimbetka rock shelters - prehistoric archaeological site, India
Entrance of the Bhimbetka rock shelters
 Photo: By Surajkumar12111 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons