Category Archives: Travel

24 Oct

The Ruins of Belapur Fort

cbd belapur fort

Belapur Fort is a fort near the township of Belapur in Navi Mumbai (New Bombay), Maharashtra, India. The fort was built by the Siddis of Janjira. In 1733, the Marathas wrested control of the Belapur Fort from the Portuguese.  After the victory, the fort was renamed as Belapur Fort. In the early 19th century, the fort was captured by the British. After the British gained supremacy in the region, with the expansion of the Bombay Presidency, the strategic importance of the fort declined, and it fell into disuse.

navi-mumbai-municipal-corporation

Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation building

Once there were three watchtowers related to fort in the area. One watch tower is located opposite to Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation building. It is fully restored like a modern building and tower  is surrounded by a small garden. It’s hidden by vegetation even it’s locating next to a busy traffic junction. Fort is in ruined condition, but the traffic junction remains the name, Killa junction.  Killa means, Fort in Marathi language.

watchtower-near-navi-mumbai-municipal-corporation

Old Watchtower opposite to Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation building

Ruins under vegetation

Ruins under vegetation

belapur fort watch tower

Inside Watchtower near Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation

Second watch tower was a part of fort,  which is located inside the ruins of fort. We will get a clear view of Panvel Creek from the top of the watch tower. Once this creek area was an important place of sea route trading. And this watch tower was helpful for preventing  attack from sea. That was the actual reason behind the fort.  Nothing is remaining there, except the partially destroyed  watch tower and foundation of fort under the vegetation.

cidco guest house road

cidco guest house road

belapur fort surrounding by a small forest

Third watch tower was located in an abandoned place near by creek and nothing is remaining now.

History :

Fort was built in 1560–1570 by the Siddis, after they took control of the area from the Portuguese. It is located atop a hillock, near the mouth of the Panvel Creek. In 1682, the fort was recaptured by the Portuguese, who had managed to annex the regions controlled by the Siddis, near Belapur (at that time known as Shabaz).

The ruins of belapur fort and watchtower

The ruins of belapur fort and watchtower

In 1733, the Marathas, led by Chimnaji Appa, wrested control of the fort from the Portuguese. He had made a vow that if it were to be successfully recaptured from the Portuguese, he would place a garland of beli leaves in a nearby Amruthaishwar temple, and after the victory, the fort was named as Belapur Fort. The Marathas ruled the area until 23rd June 1817, when it was captured by Captain Charles Gray of the British East India Company. The British partially destroyed the fort under their policy of razing any Maratha stronghold in the area.

Top of Belapur fort

Top of Belapur fort

During its active days, the fort stationed four companies each of 180 men and 14 guns ranging from 4-12 pounds (2-5 kg) in weight. An underground tunnel is also supposed to exist, which many locals believe that it connects to Gharapuri Island, the site of the Elephanta Caves.

Inside the cbd belapur fort

Inside view of Belapur fort’s watch tower

Present :

The remaining parts of the fort are situated on the top of a small hill near panvel creek and CIDCO guest house.  Ruins are under vegetation. The fort is surrounded by several residential complexes. So it’s little difficulty to find out the fort and watchtower. There is narrow walk way to reach the fort and you have to find the way through bushes. CIDCO’s plans are underway to renovate the fort which is in danger of being lost to encroachments.

Panvel creek

Panvel creek

How to reach :

10 min walkable distance from Belapur – Uran road in between Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation building and Panvel creek.

Reference:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belapur_Fort
 

09 Sep

Top 5 places in London that every traveler must visit and see

london city clock-tower

London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom. This city is also known as one of the world’s best travel destinations. Each year London attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. Once you visit this wonderful city you will desire to return back to it again and again. Are you going to visit London in the nearest future? Obviously, you need to plan your travel in advance. You need to know how to navigate around the city and what attractions it makes sense to see in London. Moreover, it is a good idea to book accommodations for stay in advance. Our goal is to help you plan your trip around London successfully. Just go ahead and find a lot of useful information and tips in this London travel guide.

london-eye-night

London Eye – It is hard to imagine the capital of Great Britain without London Eye. It is one of the most popular attractions in London, England and around the world. London Eye gives everyone a good chance to enjoy fantastic views of the city. The wheel is 135 meters in height. Don’t miss a splendid opportunity to take a look at the capital from London Eye.

ZSL London Zoo – Do you want to find a place where to have a good time with your family in London? Then it is a good idea to visit ZSL London Zoo. Here, you will manage to see a lot of exotic animals. You and your kids can also feed animals in ZSL London Zoo. The zoo is the place that will provide you and your family with many positive and unforgettable emotions.

Buckingham Palace – When traveling around London you must definitely visit Buckingham Palace. This royal palace remains to be one of the most popular attractions in the world. The palace is open to public, so everybody can visit it and see how the royal family lives. Over 62,000 guests visit the palace annually. You can visit it if you come to London in summer. Have an unforgettable tour around State Rooms and explore the amazing royal collection of art that is displayed in Buckingham Palace. The collection includes the pictures of many legendary artists (such as Rembrandt and Rubens) and sculptures of Canova.

Windsor Castle – Would you like to see the place where the Queen prefers to spend her weekends and organize various events? If so, you must definitely get the fantastic 2-3 hour tour around the royal residence. By the way, Windsor Castle is one of the oldest royal palaces in the world. It was built for the royal family 1000 years ago. The palace can be unavailable for guests due to ceremonies and official events. So, you need to plan your visit in advance.

london bridge

Tower Bridge – This legendary bridge is known all over the world. It is another great place that tourists must visit and see during their travel around the city. Tower Bridge provides its guests with fantastic panorama of London and a lot of great exhibitions. It is also a historical place, where you will manage to find out a lot of interesting facts from London’s history.

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Getting Around London:

London is the city with a well-developed transport infrastructure. The different means of transportation are available in London, so you will definitely find it easy to navigate around the city. You can get around London by Tube, bus, bicycle and taxi.

london street

Where to Stay in London

London provides travelers with a wide choice of hotels for stay. This means that you will easily manage to select a comfortable hotel for stay in the city that will meet your budget and requirements. However, good hotels can be busy during the tourist seasons. So, travelers are advised to choose a hotel and book accommodations in London beforehand.

Queens Hotel – This hotel is an ideal option for people who are traveling around London on the budget. The hotel offers rooms of different types: single rooms, double rooms, triple rooms and family rooms. The hotel’s rooms are equipped with the following facilities: tea and coffee making machines, color television, private shower and toilet facilities. The hotel is open to guests 24 hours per day and 7 days a week. So, you are always welcome at Queens Hotel!

The Montague on the Gardens – Are you looking for a medium range hotel in London? It is a good idea to consider The Montague on the Gardens. This wonderful 4 Star hotel is situated in the central part of the city, so guests are provided with easy access to all parts of London. The Montague on the Gardens will impress you with its up-to-date facilities, good places to eat and drink, a wide selection of rooms and excellent customer service! Here, you will find everything that is required for a restful and enjoyable stay in London.

The May Fair Hotel – Would you like to stay at one of the most luxurious hotels in London?
Obviously, The May Fair will be definitely the right choice! The hotel is located in the Western part of the city. This legendary London hotel was opened in 1927 and has a rich and long history. The last time the hotel was remodeled in 2001. Today, the hotel provides its guests with more than 400 comfortable bedrooms and suites equipped with the most up-to-date facilities. Spa, restaurant, casino are also available for guests of the hotel.

london river

Useful Tips for London Travelers:

Travelers are recommended to visit London in spring. The city is especially beautiful in this season of the year. London’s parks are green and blooming in spring. A lot of people also like to visit London in summer. However, most hotels of the city are busy in summer and hotel prices are also extremely high. The weather in London is often rainy. So, don’t forget to put an umbrella in your travel pack. You will definitely need it during your travel.

www.TravelOnlineAdvisor.com
The ultimate site for comparing and booking thousands of hotels and flights online. Get the best price.

 

28 Jun

Elephanta Caves – The ancient cave city of lord Shiva

shiva thrimurthi elephanta cave

Three-headed (Trimurti) sculpture of the Lord Mahadeva

Elephanta (Gharapuri – the city of caves) is one of an island in Arabian sea, about 10 kilometres to the east of the Metropolis city of Mumbai (the commercial capital of India). The ancient cave city of lord Shiva is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. All caves are carved from single stone – in between 5th A.D and 8th A.D. Gharapuri was the old name of the island. There was a single stone elephant sculpture in the entrance of the island, when Portuguese navigators came to this island, hence the new name Elephanta was derived. Presently, the elephant statue is housed at Jijamata Garden in Mumbai.

Elephant statue of Elephanta island at Jijamata Garden

Elephant statue of Elephanta island at Jijamata Garden

History:

Ancient history of Elephanta caves is a mystery. The Elephanta caves are “of unknown date and attribution”. The date of the caves is different according to different Archaeology specialists. There were some inscriptions about the ancient cave city of lord Shiva, which is missing since Portuguese ruling.  Different dynasties ruled this island, the Konkan Mauryas, Chalukyas of Badami, Rashtrakutas, Kalyani Chalukyas, Yadavas of Deogiri, Gujarat Sultanate, Portuguese, Marathas and Britain. Once it was the capital city of Konkan Mauryas and there was a major port from 2nd B.C. The Kailashnath temple at Ellora and Badami caves has many similarities to Elephanta caves. The Kailashnath temple at Ellora was built by Rashtrakutas and Badami caves built by Chalukyas of Badami. Rashtrakutas were strongly influenced by Lord Shiva,hence contributed for these caves.

Elephanta cave 1 in 1972 and 2015

There are two groups of caves in Elephanta Island. All caves were painted (fresco painting) in the past, now only traces are visible.1st group contains five caves and 2nd group contains two caves. All caves are carved from solid basalt rock, like caves at Ellora and Ajantha. Brahmanical worship had happened, until Portuguese rule began in 1534. They used this island as a watchtower and installed cannons, targeted to see from the top of a hill. There are two British-era cannons at the top. Portuguese army did shooting practice hence there is maximum damage to all sculptures in the caves except Trimurti sculpture in cave 1. Hinduism was declining on Elephanta Island under Portuguese rule. All caves were abandoned and were under vegetation from 16th AD to 20th AD. The annual festival of Shiva – Maha Shivaratri only survived to this day.

Charles II of England married daughter of King John IV of Portugal. Portuguese left the island  in 1661, since Mumbai which included elephanta island was a part of the dowry.

Nataraja Cosmic dancer

Nataraja – The Cosmic Dancer

1st cave (Great Cave) is a brilliant example of glorious ancient Hindu civilization. World famous for its carving techniques. There are many forms of Lord Shiva in 1st cave. On the south wall of 1st cave, there is an unforgettable three-headed (Trimurti) sculpture of the Lord Mahadeva, representing three essential functions: Aghora (the destroyer – most powerful in the universe) on left side, Vamadeva (master of joy and beauty) on right side and Tatpurusha (preserver of positive and negative principles of existence) in the center. Famous sculptures of Elephanta caves are Trimurti, Ravana shaking the Kailash (same sculpture like cave 16, Kailashnath Temple, Ellora), Shiva-Parvati on Kailash, Ardhanarishvara (half men and half woman), Kalyanasundara (Wedding of Shiva), Shiva Linga, Nataraja (The Cosmic Dancer), Yogishvara (Master of Yoga)and Kartikeya and Ganesha.

Ardhanarishvara (half men and half woman)

Ardhanarishvara (half man and half woman)

Cave 2, 3, 4 and 5 are broken, small and unfinished. Cave 6 and 7 are located in the eastern side of the island. These Buddhist caves are hidden from visitors. Cave 6 and 7 need more excavation. Cave 6 was converted into a church by Portuguese during their ruling of Elephanta Island.

Elephanta cave 5

Ruins of Elephanta cave 5

Presently, ASI and UNESCO are doing maintenance of the caves properly. The Underwater Archaeology Wing of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered remains of bricks from which houses were built, stonewalls, Roman Amphoras (pots used to transport a variety of things like olive, dry fruits and spices), coins and broken parts of vessels from shores of elephanta island. Even the sand on the shore, at the north and the east of the Mora bundar, is full of small potsherds. The Roman artefacts date backs to the 4th to 6th centuries. This discovery shows that Elephanta Island was a major port and was trading with the late Roman Empire. Locals believe there was an underground tunnel from Belapur fort to Elephanta Island.

Interior of Elephanta cave 1 in 1880 and 2015

People:
There are 1000+ populations living in 3 villages in Elephanta Island, namely Shent bundar, Mora bundar and Raj bundar. Local’s earning mainly depends on cave’s tourism.

How to Reach:

The island is easily accessible by ferry from Mumbai City. Typically every 20 minutes a boat leaves from Gateway of India to Elephanta Island. Ferry Cost is Rs.130/person (Return ticket). It will take 1 hour for one side traveling. 30 min walkable distance from Elephanta Island boat jetty to the caves.

Ferry timings:
Gateway to Elephanta: 9 am – 2 pm
Elephanta to Gateway: 12 noon – 5:30 pm

Elephanta island view from boat

Elephanta island – a view from boat

Quick Facts:

Country: India
State: Maharashtra
District: Raigad
Coordinates: 18.96 N 72.93 E
Local languages: Hindi and Marathi
Best Time to Visit: September to March
Closed on:  Monday
Nearest Airport: Mumbai Airport

Reference:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephanta_Caves
http://asi.nic.in/asi_underw_fieldwork.asp
http://www.oldindianphotos.in

06 Aug

Kallil bhagavathi temple – An ancient Jain cave temple in Kerala

Kallil bhagavathy temple

Jainism was introduced to South India in third century BC by the order of Emperor Chandragupta Mauryan (321-297 BC). From that time Jainism was well established in Kerala. In 800-1000 AD Jainism wiped out from Kerala. The revival of the Vedic Culture (Hinduism) was the main reasons of the disappearance. People were back into the Hinduism or merged with Hinduism. And Jain temples were also crushed during Tipu Sultan’s raid.

kallil temple jain saint

Many Hindu temples in Kerala were originally Jain temples. For example, Kudalmanikkam Temple near Irinjalakuda (Thrissur) and Kallil bhagavathi temple near Perumbavoor. Similarly, several temples in North Malabar was once a Jain temple. At present, Jainism in Kerala has a very small following. Ilango Adigal was on of the notable person of the Jain religion in Kerala. He was a poet and a Jain monk of the 2nd century AD.

Kallil cave temple is sited in Kunnathunadu Thaluk of Ernakulam District in Kerala. Is 22 km away from Kalady. The name ‘Kallil’ means ‘in Rock’. Studies indicate that the inception of the temple might date back to third century BC. The nature made cave temple, located in a 28-acre (113,000 m²) plot in thick forest area, is cut from a huge rock. The rock temple of 75 feet X 45 feet X 25 feet which rests without any proper support. The visitor has to climb 120 steps to reach this rare historic temple. There is an ancient pond that offer drinking water nearby.

Durgadevi is the main deity of the temple. The idol of Brahma is seen carved at the top of the rock. Brahma is also worshipped along with Siva and Vishnu. The temple closes after Poojas at noon every day and poojas are not being done at night. The presence of the Jain deities Parshvanath, Vardhamaana Mahavira and Padmavati devi (worshipped as Bhagawathi by the local population) point to the Jain history of the Kallil cave temple.

This very rock holding on to its position solely owing to Bhagavathi’s grace which may perhaps be called one of the wonders of the world is the unique feature of this temple. This Jain cave temple was to become a Hindu temple in the 9th century AD. Even today Jain followers come here to offer prayers.

Quick Facts:

State: Kerala
District: Eranakulam
Languages Spoken: Malayalam,Hindi and English
Weather: Summers: 35 °C (95 °F). Winters: 20 °C (68 °F)

Getting There:

Nearest Airport: Cochin Airport – 25 Km
Nearest Town: Perumbavoor – 10 Km

Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kallil_Temple
http://kallilcavetemple.com/about-en.html

http://ajaysekher.net/2012/02/20/gautamapuram-beyondtowards-cultural-history-kottayam/

05 May

Kumarakom – Paradise of backwater

kumarakom-bird-sanctuary

Kumarakom is a popular tourism destination located near the city of Kottayam (16 kilometers), in Kerala, India, famous for its backwater tourism. It is set in the backdrop of the Vembanad Lake which is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Kerala.

Kumarakom has been described by National Geographic Traveler as “one of the must-see paradises on earth” and, is ranked fifty in the list. Kumarakom has been declared as a Special Tourism Zone by the Kerala state Government.

Kumarakom Houseboat

Kumarakom backwaters set in the absolute accomplishments of green paddy fields and the mangrove forests is a accurate contentment to its visitors. Kumarakom is famous for its majestic Kettuvallams ( House Boat ) which reflects the marvellous or Royal architectural wonder of Kerala. Houseboats, which are absolutely furnished and able with all the accessories accept ablution absorbed bedrooms, kitchens, dining and a clandestine advanced accouter to abduction the arresting adorableness of the back waters.

Sightseeing Highlights in Kumarakom

The Vembanad Lake, the largest lake in the state. The lake is famous for its scenic beauty and hundreds of kettuvallams. A cruise through the backwater will refresh your mind.

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, which is spread over 14-acres of land, is a favorite place of bird lovers. It has a huge cardinal of migrating birds like the Siberian stork, Egret, Darter, Night Heron, Cormorant, Indian Shag, Purple Heron, Cotton Pygmy-Goose, Little Cormorant etc.

The Pathiramanal ( Sands of midnight ) island reflects the amazing adorableness of the Vembanad Lake and its surrounding breadth is home to many breeds of migratory birds from different parts of the world. It is home to around 91 local species of birds and 50 migratory birds. The island is located in the Vembanad Lake, about 4 km from Kumarakom.

You can additionally seek some Ayurvedic analysis from the experts and go in for rejuvenation.

Kumarakom Backwater

Where to Stay

Kumarakom has many hotels and resorts which deals that everyone’s budget.
Hotels tariffs starting from Rs 700 and the high-end resorts and hotels tariffs can go as aerial as Rs 22,000.

Quick Facts

State: Kerala
District: Kottayam
Coordinates: 9.35 N 76.26 E
Languages Spoken: Malayalam and English
Weather: Summers: 20 – 36 C; Winters: 16 – 32 C

Getting There

Nearest Airport: Cochin Airport
Nearest Train Station: Kottayam
Main Highway: NH 47
Best time to visit: October to April

Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumarakom