Fatehpuri Masjid

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Fatehpuri Masjid The red sandstone Fatehpuri masjid stands on the western end of Chandini Chowk. It is topped off by a dome and is flanked by tall minarets. It was built by one of Shah Jahan's wives Fatehpuri Begum in 1650.

Taj-ul-Masjid

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The most impressive structure in Bhopal is the Taj-ul-Masjid, one of the largest and most elegant Muslim mosques in India.
Taj-ul-Masjid literally translates as ‘The Crown of Mosques’, and the construction of the monument was characterised by sporadic bursts of activity alternating with spans of inactivity during the reigns of successive Begums.
However, the monument was never completed due to lack of money, and after a long lay-off, construction was resumed in 1971.
Taj-ul-Masjid
The building really presents a spectacular sight and is worth taking a bow to. It’s pink façade is topped by two huge white-domed minarets pointing upwards to the heavens, as if seeking its blessings.
The mosque also has three huge bulbous domes, an impressive main hallway with attractive pillars, marble flooring and a spacious courtyard. Must a visit site.

The mosque is one of the most important Muslim landmarks in the city of Bhopal, and is multi-purpose as it is used as a madarsa, a Islamic religious school during the day.

Moti Masjid

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The Moti Masjid was an important landmark of Bhopal, and was built in 1860 by Sikandar Jehan Begum, Qudisiya Begum’s daughter. Sikandar Begum was fairly unconventional compared to Muslim women of her time – she usually dressed like a man and went out riding without a veil, often with a dagger tucked under her belt.

Bhopal came to be known as the domain of the relatively liberated, even progressive women, and it was Sikandar Begum who set the trend. The Begum was an enthusiastic reformer, open to modern ideas.
She abolished slavery and built roads, bridges and beautiful monuments like the Moti Masjid.
The mosque has a marble-white façade with two small cupolas atop it, and it has two huge black minarets on either side of it.

Jamali Kamali Tomb

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Further down is the Jamali Kamali masjid and tomb, which has recently been renovated by INTACH, an autonomous cultural organization. Jamali was the alias of the Sufi saint Shaikh Fazlullah, who was also known as Jalal Khan. The saint had a prodigious life – he lived right through Sikander Lodi's reign, the famous battle of Panipat in 1526, Babur and died during the lifetime of Humayun. Who Kamali was remains a tantalizing mystery.

¤ The Construction

The tomb and mosque bearing their names lie within yards of each other. They were started in Babur's time in about 1528 and finished in Humayun's reign by 1535-36.

¤ The Tomb

The tomb lies immediately behind the mosque and is a smallish chamber. Small but not humble. Upon entering it your eye is immediately caught by the richly ornamented ceiling and walls. They are covered with tiles of various hues and patterns in incised and painted plaster. Several verses compose by Jamali are also inscribed on the walls.
The beautiful and spruce lawns of Jamali Kamali make it a popular picnic spot for Delhites.

Jama Masjid in Delhi

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¤ The Biggest Mosque In India

Near the Red Fort about 500m away is the Jama masjid, the biggest mosque in India. It was begun by Shah Jahan in 1650 and completed six years later and the whole cost about a million rupees. It is hard to imagine a building more suited to evoking the awe of the majesty of Allah in man. The mosque stands on a rocky elevation. Its huge gateway looks down at you like fastidious connoisseur from an immense platform which has steps that lead up to it.

Constructed in Sandstone and white marble, Jama Masjid can be entered from both the directions - North and the South Gates. The eastern gateway is supposed to remain open in Friday and was used by the emperor himself. Jama Masjid is cluttered by devotees who offer namaz, especially during Muslim Festival. For those who don't belong to non - Muslim community, a specified time is mentioned to enter the mosque.

Beyond the intimidating entrance, is a vast courtyard measuring nearly 100msq. It is flanked by pillared corridors which run all along the courtyard and have domed pavilions in the middle on either side.

The prayer hall, measuring 61m by 27.5m, is quite a marvel. It is has a magnificent façade of eleven arches, the central one being higher than the others and serving as the entrance. It is topped off by three magnificent domes which are richly ornamented and have black and white marble stripes – much like the Nizamuddin Dargah.

Delhi Red Fort

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¤ The Construction

Built during the reign of Shah Jahan, the Lal Qila (or Red Fort) has been a mute witness to innumerable conspiracies, scandals, battles..... Completed in a span of nine years, it cost about ten million rupees , with about half the sum going towards the building of palaces.

The fort is octagonal in shape, like most Islamic buildings in India. The north of the fort is connected to the smaller Salimgarh fort. The Red Fort is an intimidating structure. It measures 900m by 550m, with its rampart walls covering a perimeter of 2.41km. It towers at a height of 33.5m. On the outside, you can still see the moat that was originally connected with the Yamuna River.

¤ The Major Gateways

Besides the Lahori Gate, the entry point is the Hathipol (elephant gate), where the king and his visitors would dismount from their elephants. The other major attractions of the Red Fort are the Mumtaz Mahal, the Rang Mahal, the Khas Mahal, the Diwan-i-Am, the Diwan-i-Khas, the Hamam and the Shah Burj.

Every year, on the 15th of August, the National Flag of India is hoisted at the Red Fort by the Prime Minister , celebrating India's independence..

Amber Fort Jaipur

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The sprawling Amber Fort is a typical example of what the lives of our gallant Rajputs were like – militant, adventurous, temperamental and also self-indulgent. It is among the best hilltop forts in India. Within the stern exteriors that seem to grow out of the rugged hills are mighty gates, temples, huge ornate halls, palaces, pavilions, gardens and even a ramp to take you to the hilltop palace! and guess who climbs the ramp? Elephants. Yes, beautifully- caparisoned elephants go up and down carrying visitors to and fro. These well cladded elephants make a joyride to Amber fort and in turn makes your travel to Amber fort a fascinating experience. This some thing which you cannot afford to miss in any Rajasthan itinerary.

Just 11 kms from Jaipur, Amber fort is a splendid fort constructed in a scenic locale. Being a perfect blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture, Jaipur attracts travellers from around the globe. Built in 16 the century by Raja Man Singh, the fort stands as a proud reminder of the exotic building skills of the artisans of the yesteryears. This fort from yore days unfurls the legacies of the time when the august rulers imagined the unmatched craftmanship.

¤ Fort Attractions

Old Amber Palace : The Old Palace lies at the base of the Jaigarh Fort. This area was the original Amber before Man Singh I came along and went on a building spree. The early 13th century palace here is not very interesting as compared to the grand Amber Fort-palace, yet you could do with a visit. This Old Palace can be reached from the Amber Palace too – there's a stone path leading from the Chand Pol to these ruins at the base of the hill. The road is currently being restored. Here lie the remains of ancient Amber which include temples and crumbling palaces and patches of walls. The cobbled streets and broken down havelis (mansions) give it the aura of a medieval town. But these mute remnants of a bygone golden era seem to speak volumes.
Clich Here

Diwan-i-Am or Hall of Public Audience :This is a delicate palace which you would come across on your travel to Amber fort. This forty pillared pavillion is perfect example of intricate craftmanship and was constructed by Mirza Raja Jai Singh. The pavilion worked as a place where Maharajahs used to recieve its general public and used to hear their pertaining problems. The southern area of this palace was kept clear so that the royal ladies could watch the proceedings of Diwan-I-Am from the Zenana house ( Women's quarters).

Shila Mata Temple : Entry into Shila Mata Temple is through Singh Pol. The temple is devoted to Shila Mata ( Goddess Kali), the goddess of victory and houses a black marble idol of the goddess which was brought here from Jessore by Raja Man Sigh in 1604. You would find nine images of Goddess Durga (strength) and ten forms of Goddess Saraswati ( knowledge) which are carved on the silver gates of the temple. The mandap of this temple is made up of white marble contrasting the colours of the idols.

Ganesh Pol & Suhaag Mandir : Ganesh Pol forms another attractions in Amber fort and is an imposing gateway which lies south of Diwan-i-am. The gateway has been painted beautifully and endorse typical Rajasthani motifs. From Ganesh Pol, you can move to beautiful garden or Charbagh, which is based on the Mughal patten of gardens.

Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience), Sukh Niwas, Jai Mandir & Jas Mandir : Diwan-i-Khas show cases a rich amalgam of Rajput and Mughal architecture. The architecture is showcased in the fascinating Diwan-i-khas, Sukh Niwas, Jai Mandir and Jas Mandir. Decorated with beautiful mirror work, Diwan -I - Khas has wonderful carvings on the walls and the ceilings. The major attractions of these halls are miniature murals made of coloured glasses which depicts Radha and Krishna.

Gwalior Fort

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Described as 'the pearl in the necklace of the castles of Hind' by the Mughal Emperor Babur, the Gwalior Fort was mightier than any other fort in the medieval ages.
Naturally every powerful ruler dreamt of possessing it.
It has fascinated historians and poets alike down the ages, and continues to do so. It also tickles one's curiosity because its origin is shrouded in mystery.

The Gwalior Fort has changed hands many times, from the Tomaras in the 8th century, to the Scindhias who were its masters when India became independent. and each of these dynasties adorned and embellished the fort.
One cannot help being impressed with the perfect blend of the Hindu and Muslim architecture that characterises the fort and finds its fullest expression in this brilliant monument.

Chittorgarh Fort

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¤ The Colossal Walls

Standing on a rocky plateau on a 500 feet high hill, the 700 acre fort went through three sieges, and each time Chittor turned out the loser. But that did not mean that the fort was inferior to any other in Rajasthan. It was just that that the Rajputs had a habit of riding out to meet the enemy outside the safety of their walls instead of allowing the enemy to launch the first assault. The first time the fort was stormed in 1303AD, it was purely for matters of the heart. Alauddin Khilji fell in love with Rani Padmini the moment he heard of her and decided to take Chittor and subsequently Padmini. He did get Chittor but Padmini was nothing more than ashes in a huge jauhar (mass suicide by fire) which left 30,000 women burnt alive by choice.

The second siege came 232 years later in 1535 from Muhammad Shah of Gujarat, and this time it was outright war. Chittor fell again, and 13,000 women and children died in a different kind of jauhar. The fortress was on the brink of being seized by Bahadur Shah and there was no time to arrange for a bonfire. Gunpowder was brought out from the magazines and laid out in excavations in the ground. A tremendous blast took the lives of women and children this time.

The final assault was by Akbar in 1567, and it was fatal for Chittor. The seven gates of Chittor were opened and 8,000 Rajputs rode out in their saffron war robes once again to die at Mughal swords. Tradition repeated itself within the walls of Chittor, and women and children sallied forth into flames. When Akbar entered the fort, it is said that there was not a living soul left inside. After this final sack the backbone of Chittor was broken, and its ruler Rana Udai Singh fled to lay the foundations of Udaipur. Chittor never recovered and the fort was taken over by nature.

¤ Fort Palaces

Rana Kumbha was the one who officially built Chittor, and his palace is the oldest monument within the fort walls. The palace was built from 1433-68 in plastered stone, and the entrance is through Suraj Pol which directly leads into a courtyard. On the right of Suraj Pol is the Darikhana or Sabha (council chamber) behind which lies a Ganesha temple and the zenana (living quarters for women). A massive water reservoir is located towards the left of Suraj Pol. Ruined houses towards the south of the palace may have been used by lesser nobles, or were probably used by palace attendants. Below the central courtyard is a subterranean chamber where Rani Padmini committed jauhar with the rest of the women of Chittor when Alauddin Khilji besieged the fort. But perhaps the most remarkable feature of the palace is its splendid series of canopied balconies. The complex also houses stables for elephant and horses, but is now in ruins.

¤ Other Attractions

¤ Fateh Prakash
Near Kumbha’s palace is Fateh Prakash, the most modern building in Chittor. Built in the early 20th century, the palace was the home for Maharana Fateh Singh, Chittor’s ruler who died in 1930. A part of the building has now been converted into a museum but the rest of it is closed to visitors.

Timings : The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. except on Fridays.

Jaisalmer Fort - Resplendent in its Golden Hue

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Who would have dreamt in such a vast sand oasis
A castle worthy of an ancient throne, such an art in carven work of stone

¤ Construction of the Fort

An apt description of the Jaisalmer fort, one of the finest in the country but one which looks rather incongruous given the desolation around it. Located bang in the middle of the Thar desert (literal meaning abode of the dead), it rises like a mirage from the sands, with its huge turrets pointing skywards. Built in 1156, Jaisalmer is the second oldest of Rajasthan’s major forts after Chittorgarh. Constructed by Raja Jaisal, who was searching for a new capital as the earlier one Lodurva was too vulnerable to invasions, he built the fort and the city surrounding it, thus fulfilling Lord Krishna's prophecy in the Mahabharata

¤ Located on a Hilltop

Mounted atop Trikuta, the almost triangular triple-peaked hill, the fort rises like a sunbeam from the desert, 250 feet tall, and is reinforced by an imposing crenellated sandstone wall 30 feet high. It has as many as 99 bastions, 92 of which were built between 1633 and 1647 to be used as gun platforms. The view of the 99 bastions of the yellow sandstone fort, the desert citadel of Raja Jaisal, is spectacular to behold. The fortifications have grown exponentially over the centuries, and wells within the confines still provide a regular source of water to the fort.

¤ Palaces of the Maharawals

Also, in front of the Chauhata Square lie the palaces of the Maharawals. Leading up to them is a flight of marble steps topped by the Maharawal’s marble throne. Nearby lies the five-storeyed Tazia (metal) Tower, with ornate architecture and Bengali-style roofs. The five-tiered structure was constructed by Muslim craftsmen who worked on the building. The outer defences of the citadel are fortified by another high wall with a pathway running parallel to the first rampart. Beyond the entrance is the Ganesh Pol, leading up to the Rang Pol.

There was a time when everyone lived inside the fort itself, protected by its massive ramparts. As the population of Jaisalmer expanded, people started emigrating from within the fort’s precincts from about the 17th century. However, even today the fort is a hive of activity, and you’ll witness a cross-section of the populace living within it as you travel through its winding streets and alleys.

¤ Installation of a unique device

The fort also has a peculiar gadget hoisted on top of its ramparts. Since Met departments were in short supply in those days, this was used to forecast the weather. Every year in April a flag would be placed in its centre and, based on the direction in which it blew, the weather for the entire year was forecast. If it blew northwards it indicated famine, and if it went westwards Ho the citizenry could rest assured that a fine monsoon was in the offing. May seem a bit primitive today but the system was probably just as accurate or inaccurate as the Met office nowadays.

¤ Jaisalmer Fort -- A Marvel Built in Sandstone

Just as the Taj in Agra is worth visiting on a full moon night, Jaisalmer fort by nightfall is a sight to behold, it has all the romance and suspense of a Hitchcockian mystery. You half expect an invading army to march up to the castle, over its enormous paved flagstones, while those defending the fort shoot missiles at them from the ramparts. Suffice to say the Jaisalmer fort is one of the marvels of Rajasthani architecture, particularly of the stone-carver’s art.

Purana Qila (Old Fort)

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¤ Humayun- The Mughal Emperor Costructed The Fort

When the second Mughal emperor Humayun decided to make a city of his own he decided on the site of the ancient city of Indraprastha. Humayun was quite a scholar with a fine grasp on such matters and so it is certain that the site was chosen deliberately. When his Sher Shah Suri overthrew him, he destroyed most of Dinpanah (refuge of the faithful) as the city of Humayun was called to make way for his own Dilli Sher Shahi or Shergarh. Incidentally, Humayun was probably the only emperor in history who built a city in Delhi and did not give it his own name – this was typical of Humayun's rather sophisticated and dreamy character. The Layout of The Massive Colossal

Purana Qila

In plan the Old fort, now simply called Purana Qila by Delhites, is irregularly orbital. The walls of the immense Qila tower down on the road that takes one to Pragati Maidan from the height of 18m, and run on for about 2km. It has three main gates – the Humayun darwaza, Talaqi darwaza and Bara darwaza (which one uses to enter the fort today). The double-storeyed gates are quite huge and are built with red sandstone. of all the gates entry was forbidden from Talaqi (forbidden) darwaza, the northern gate. It is not clear why this was so. Other Attractions of The Fort

Sher Shah Suri and his successor could not complete the city, and when Humayun defeated Sher Shah's son to take back his city, he did not deal with Dilli Sher shahi as the latter had done with Dinpanah. In fact the Mughal emperor very handsomely completed the city and even used several of the buildings like the Sher Mandal, a rather pretty two-storeyed octagonal building. Humayun used this as his library and, then tripped to his death from its steps.

¤ Excavation of Grey Ware Pottery

Several excavations have taken place in the Purana Qila in an attempt to prove, or disprove as the case may be, whether it is indeed the site of Indraprastha or not. Diggings have yielded Painted Grey Ware pottery which has been dated to 1000BC. Similar stuff has been noticed in other sites associated with the epic Mahabharata as well, which seem to conclusively prove that this indeed was the place where Indraprastha once flourished. These excavation have also thrown up material, like coins, associated with the Gupta (about 4-5th century AD) and post-Gupta ages (700-800AD) of Indian history as well.

¤ Qila-i-kuhna Masjid

One of the most fascinating buildings, and also one of the few that still survive, in the Purana Qila is the Qila-i-kuhna masjid. Sher Shah Suri built it in 1541 (also see History) and he was obviously out to make a definite style statement. The mosque is quite a place; its prayer hall measures 51.20m by 14.90m and has five doorways with the 'true' horseshoe-shaped arches. Apparently the idea was the build the whole mosque in marble, but the supply ran out and red sandstone had to be used instead. But the builder used the material at hand very skillfully and the result is quite spectacular – the red sandstone and the marble contrast beautifully with each other to give the mosque a very distinctive air. The mihrabs (prayer niches) inside the mosque are richly decorated with concentric arches. From the prayer hall, staircases lead you to the second storey where a narrow passage runs along the rectangular hall. The central alcove is topped by a beautifully worked dome. In the courtyard at one time there was a shallow tank, which had a fountain. The mosque has an inscription which says 'As long as there are people on this earth, may this edifice be frequented, and people be happy in it.' A noble thought – amen to it.

Pavaya - Stone Temples

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Distance : 68km from Gwalior

¤ Temple Attractions

About an hour and a half away from Gwalior, en route to Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, is a beaten track that leads to the ruins of Pavaya and the neighbouring Dhoomeshwar Mahadeo Temple. You’ll reach the village of Pavaya after you cross the bridge on River Parvati. Travel a bit further, and you will reach a T-junction. A left turn leads you to Pavaya or Padmavati as it was earlier known, while the right track branches off to the Dhoomeshwar Mahadeo Temple.

¤ Attractions of Ruins Dating Back To Naga Kings

Pavaya - Stone TemplesPavaya or Padmavati is a fascinating stone complex of ruins which date back to the reign of the Naga Kings. There is no proper road leading to these ruins, which results in tourists often passing them by.
The terrain is rich in dry scrub vegetation that has happily sprouted between the monuments. The uneven ground suggests that there might well be some buried monuments or structures waiting to be unearthed. This was the capital of the Naga Kings, which was later abandoned and left to the mercy of nature.

According to the Puranas (check Ancient Scriptures & Folklore of India for details), the decline of the Kushana Dynasty in the third century a.d. led to the emergence of the Naga Dynasty. Naga influence soon spread from Vidisha to Mathura, and Pavaya or Padmavati became their base. Lord Shiva, the Destroyer of the Universe according to Hindu mythology, was the deity worshipped by the kingdom. Forgotten and neglected, the site needs to be explored thoroughly to gain a fresh insight into it.

These stone ruins are spread over an area of half a kilometre, and consist of four main structures and a few Chhattris(cenotaphs). A dome, each with arched doors and windows tops these four cube-like structures. Not far from these ruins stands the lonely, deserted Fort built by the Parmar dynasty, during the medieval era.

¤ Dhoomeshwar Mahadeo Temple

The Dhoomeshwar Mahadeo Templeis all of 3 kilometres from the Pavaya ruins. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it stands boldly on the rocky banks of the Sindh River that flows nearby. In keeping with the usual architecture of Hindu temples, it has steps leading to its four sections, namely the ardha mandapa(small hall), the mandapa(middle hall), the antaralaya (inner chamber), and the garbha griha or the sanctum sanctorum. The three outer sections have been plastered white, while the inner sanctum retains its original yellow sandstone colour.

The Dhoomeshwar Mahadeo Stone Temple is very similar to the Kandariya Stone Temple at Khajuraho, but it bears no sign of the era it belongs to. However, the Shivalinga (symbolic phallus of Shiva) enshrined inside the sanctum is very ancient, while the marble flooring is the contribution of the devotees of Shiva, who flock to the temple in large numbers.

The temple comes alive during the festival of Shivaratri (check Religion for details), with the zest and enthusiasm of scores of devotees.

¤ Tourist Information

Be prepared for a rather rough ride, as the road leading to both these places is rather bumpy. Take along sufficient supply of snacks and water or cold drinks, as none are available near these ancient stone monuments.

Alai Minar

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The ambitious rubble Alai Minar started by Alauddin Khalji but the sultan lived to see it only the height of 24.5m. It was built to match the enlarged Quwwat-ul-Islam masjid (which was also Khalji's work). Today it is used more like an illustration, by parents, of what-happens-when-you-get-over-ambitious; viz the plans remain unfinished. Ambition has never really been encouraged as a virtue in India.

Monuments in Lucknow

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After the conquest of Kannauj by the Afghans at the end of the twelth century, Awadh submitted to the Sultan of Ghazni and became a part of the Delhi empire and subsequently a subah (or province) of the Mughal empire. In 1526, Lucknow was temporarily occupied by the Mughal prince Humayun. In 1540, he lost the throne to his Afghan rival, Sher Shah, who occupied Lucknow where he established a copper mint.

During the Mughal reign, Lucknow became a major centre of commerce, which persuaded a French merchant to settle here. He reaped enough profits to build four splendid houses in the very first year, but was not given permission to stay further. His persistence resulted in the confiscation of his property, which came to be known as the Firangi Mahal.



Bara Imambara
¤ The Legendary Tale

History has very little to say about the founders or the first settlers of Lucknow. According to a popular legend, Lord Ramchandra of Ayodhya, the hero of the famous epic Ramayana, gifted the territory of Lucknow to his devoted brother Lakshman after his victory over the demon king Ravana. The original name of Lucknow is thus believed to be Lakshmanpur or Lakhanpur. Yet another story suggests that this city was a gift to the holy sages of this region by Lord Yudhishtar’s grandson.

The story of Lucknow, as we know today, begins in 1732 when Saadat Khan, a Persian adventurer, originally from Khurasan in Persia, was honoured by the Mughal Emperor, Muhammad Shah, and was made Nizam or governor of the province of Avadh and later the Nawab. In 1740, the Nawab was called Wazir, which means Chief Minister – hence he was given the title Nawab Wazir. In practice from Saadat Khan onwards, titles have been hereditary, inheritors of which were responsible for shaping the history of Lucknow.


¤ Lucknow Flourished Under The Regime of Asaf-ud-Daulah

Nawab Saadat Khan was succeeded by his nephew and son-in-law, Safdar Jung in 1814. It was his grandson Asaf-ud-Daulah, the fourth Nawab, who transferred the seat of the Awadh government to Lucknow in 1775, to distance himself from his imperious mother in Faizabad. Thereon ushered a new era.
In the eight intense decades that followed (i.e.1775 –1856), Lucknow prospered and grew into a sophisticated and picturesque city with parks, palaces, gardens and imposing architectural monuments. The Nawab’s patronage of music and arts attracted poets, artists, and musicians to Lucknow in large numbers. During these eventful years, Lucknow became one of the most celebrated centers of opulence, dance, poetry and scholarship.

¤ Bara Imambara

Asaf-ud-Daulah was also an inveterate builder of monuments. Driven with an ambition to discover the glory of the past and present and surpass them in magnificence and splendor, the numerous buildings built by Asaf-ud-Duala, like the Bara Imambara built in 1784, the testify to his architectural zeal.

This is indeed a monumental feat considering the fact that it once boasted the largest vaulted hall in the world, with a 50 feet high roof, spanning an area of 162 feet and a height 53 feet in the absence of a single beam! After all, as per the Nawab’s directive, his architecture was to be original in conception with no influence of any existing structure or design.

The galleries and corridors within the great Imambara form a complicated and intricate labyrinth (bhool-bhuliya) through which at times it is difficult to find your way. Its terrace provides a fine view of the Lucknow city. During one of his visits to the site, the pleasing aroma of food being cooked in giant ovens attracted the Nawab. It is here when he discovered the Dum process of cooking, wherein the food is cooked slowly in its own steam, which lends a unique aroma and flavor to the food. Impressed with the process, he ordered the royal kitchen to practice the same method of cooking.



¤ Rumi Darwaza or The Turkish Gate

Towards the west of the Imambara is the Rumi Darwaza or the Turkish Gate built by Asaf-ud-Duala between the years 1784 to 1786. The 60 feet high gateway stands as an equally grand entrance to the great hall. During the Nawabi era, a huge lantern placed atop the Rumi Darwaza would light up the pathway, while jets of water gushed from the numerous fountains created on the rim of the gateway.

Rumi Darwaza While on one hand the Nawabs had achieved a certain degree of independence from the Moghuls in Delhi, they surrendered their hold over the years as allies to the British who were there in the form of the East India Company based in Calcutta. Asaf-ud-Duala’s son, Wazir Ali took over the throne after his father’s death in 1798. After four months of misrule and bad behavior, the British removed Wajid Ali from the throne in 1798, who had by then acquired enough powers to manipulate the events of Awadh. Sadat Ali Khan, Asaf-ud-Daula’s brother, was offered the throne, who during his 16 years of reign, earned himself a reputation of being an able administrator and the most sagacious Nawab that Lucknow had ever known.

¤ British Residency

Unlike his predecessor, Sadat Ali proved to be a great builder who introduced a large number of architectural styles. One of his best-known monuments is the Residency, which was built in 1800 for the British Resident.
Today it stands desolate as a mute witness to the Mutiny of 1857 when it was almost completely destroyed. Despite its numerous scars, this monument retains till today its original charm that almost recreates the history associated with it and is a stark reminder of the numerous sieges during the Mutiny. Among the long list of grand palaces commissioned by Sadat Ali the Moti Mahal, Dilkusha Palace, Hayat Baksh, Chattar Manzil, Khusheed Manzil and Lal Baradari, deserves a visit.

The Nawab Wazirs of Lucknow, dissatisfied with their present titles, wanted to be called Kings, which at the time only the Emperors of Delhi were entitled to have. In 1819, Gazi-ud-Din, son and successor of Sadat Ali was made the fist king.

Gazi-ud-Din was a generous ruler, a good monarch who paid due attention to administration and justice. He was responsible for building and public works of all kinds. His buildings include the Mubarak Mahal, Shah Manzil and the Hazari Bagh, in which he introduced to the society of Lucknow, the sport of animal combats for the first time.

¤ Shah Najaf Imambara

Gazi-ud-Din’s most outstanding building is the Shah Najaf Imambara where he is entombed together with his three wives. The Imambara is a huge masonry structure with a large dome. The wise Nawab gave the British a large sum of money for its embellishment and maintenance. Under the terms of agreement, this mausoleum is well cared for and is in excellent condition even today.

British Residency
¤ Tarunvali Kothi

Ironically, the proclamation of kingship coincided with a period of almost complete dependence on the British. The title of King neither improved the administrative capabilities of the rulers nor their morale. The second King Nasir-ud-Din Haider, son and successor of Gazi-ud-Din, was so effeminate that he often spoke and dressed like a female. His only contribution in the field of architecture was the construction of Tarunvali Kothi, an archeological center, which was equipped with sophisticated instruments and entrusted to the care of a British astronomer.

¤ Muhammad Ali's Imambara

The British crowned the third king of Awadh, Muhammad Ali who was the second son of Nawab Wazir Sadat Ali, in 1837 at a ripe old age of 63. Muhammad Ali was just and popular ruler under whom Lucknow once again regained its splendor for a brief spell. Interested in building activities, he built his own Imambara as well as the Juma Masjid. The Imambara, left incomplete by Muhammad Ali, was later completed by Begum Mallika Jehan of the Royal family. Between the Imambara and the gateway is a large courtyard with a rectangular raised tank spanned by a bridge.

Within the Imambara is the burial place of the king while his daughter and son-in-law are buried on one side of the courtyard. The Imambara is noted for its golden dome, exquisite chandeliers, huge mirrors, silver mimbar, colourful interiors and delicate calligraphy on its arched entrance.

¤ Juma Masjid

The Juma Masjid, with its two minarets and three domes is yet another delightful place to visit in Lucknow. An interesting building built by Muhammed Ali Shah is the Baradari, also known as the Picture Gallery, which houses the portraits of the erstwhile, Nawabs and Kings of Awadh.
Here one can admire the marvelous costumes and jewellery that the nobles a adorned themselves with. A patient of chronic rheumatism, Muhammad Ali died in 1842 and left behind a number of incomplete monuments, which would have honored him as the greatest builders amongst all Awadh Kings.

The Sat Khanda (or seven slices) was an edifice planned to resemble the minaret of Babylon with each of its storeys superimposed on the other -the top of which was to provide one of the finest views of Lucknow. Not far from the picture gallery is yet another marvel, the Clock Tower which is said to be the largest in India. This was however completed in seven years at the cost of more than a lakh of rupees- an enormous amount at the time!

¤ Qaiser Bagh Palace

Muhammed Ali was succeeded by his son, Wajid Ali Shah in 1837 who was also the last of the rulers to ascend the throne. A poet, singer and a great patron of arts, his pursuit of personal pleasure left little time for looking into administrative responsibilities. This led to the British annexation of Awadh. Wajid Ali Shah’s single contribution to Lucknow was the Qaiser Bagh Palace built in 1850, which he wanted to be promoted as the eighth wonder of the world!

¤ La Martiniere-A Funerary Monument

The architectural skyline of Lucknow remains incomplete without the mention of La Martiniere-a funerary monument. Built at the end of the 18th century, it is said be the largest in Asia and houses the coffin of its builder, French Major General Claude Martim. Martim had come to India as a penniless soldier but gradually his luck and labor fetched him a fortune big enough to lend a princely amount of 250,000 pounds to the Nawab Asaf-ud-Daulah! La Martiniere is today a school of great repute.

¤ Lucknow’s Cultural History Remains Unrivaled

In almost all forms of art and entertainment, Lucknow developed its own variety, be it poetry, music, dance, story telling, fashion, animal combats and gastronomy. The Dastarkhans of the Lucknow courts are still proverbial. In fact the master chefs excelled in their talents to such a great extent that they are believed to have received salaries more than that of the Prime Minister himself!

In this period alone, there were more poets that in any other part of the country. Subsequently the Mughal monarchy was battling for its survival and in their sinking empire, had no time for patronising creative talent. This led to the influx of several artists to Lucknow where they received considerable patronage. Cultural refinement was thus, not just confined to the courts but thrived even on the streets and by-lanes of this ancient and historical city.

Vyas Chhatri

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Just north of the fort lies the cenotaph of Sage Vyas, the man who compiled the Hindu epic Mahabharata, the longest scripture in the world with almost 300,000 verses. He dictated the Mahabharata to Ganesh, the god with an elephant-head and son of Shiva the Destroyer.

Vyas Chhatri is also referred to in the city as Sunset Point as it gives you a wonderful view of picturesque Jaisalmer at sundown. The Sunset point over Sooli Dongri is a big hit with tourists and is definitely worth making a trip to if you want a bird’s eye view of Jaisalmer and its adjoining areas.

Gaitor Monuments

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¤ A Site of Royal Cenotaphs

Just opposite the Man Sagar Lake, Gaitor lies in a narrow valleywith its marble and sandstone chhattris (cenotaphs) of the rulers of Jaipur.This was the site where the Kachhwaha royalty ended their stay on earth. It has been the royal cremation ground of the kings and princes of the ruling clan of Jaipur from Sawai Jai Singh II onwards. It has cenotaphs of all the Jaipur rulers except Sawai Ishwari Singh who was cremated outside the Jai Niwas garden. The marble memorials mark the places where the Kachhwaha kings were cremated and the smaller ones standing with them are those of the princes who died young.

¤ A Royal Cremation Site

After the capital was shifted to Jaipur Sawai Jai Singh chose Gaitor as the cremation ground for the royal family. Then from 1733 onwards the final rites of every Kachhwaha king were conducted here. These chhatris are open domed pavilions set on a raised platform. Slender pillars hold up the roof and the platform has smaller chhatris at its corners.

¤ The Architectural Brilliance of Cenotaphs

Each chhatri or cenotaph has a different design and is styled according to the majesty and power of the king during his lifetime. The most beautiful one is that of Jai Singh II himself with intricatecarvings and a graceful shape in marble, built by his son Ishwari Singh. It is a white marble dome built on 20 carved pillars that rise from a square platform lavishly engraved with scenes from Hindu mythology. The Chhatri of Madho Singh I, second son of Jai Singh II, is a pillared two storeyed structure with a smaller pavilion on the roof. The Chhatri of Pratap Singh is also of marble alongwith a dome and square pillars to give company. The Chhatri of Madho SinghII is in white and pink stone. A lamp is lit everyday at the cenotaph of Sawai Man Singhsince his death. Another familiar spot here is that of the miniature shrine of the two sons of Madho Singh II from his mistresses. The whole scene set between the gardens presents a picture perfect shot.

Excavation Sites in Gwalior

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¤ Ater, Kherat, Kakanmadh Forms The Excavations Site

Ater

Extensive excavations are presently being carried out in these places around Gwalior and many interesting monuments have already been discovered. The Ater Fort (an Archaeological Survey of India site about 110km from Gwalior) was built by Badan Singh Badoria in 1701. An all out effort is now being to restore it to its former glory. Do check out the other places nearby: Shankar Mandir (a State Archaeology site), Sati Mandir and Chamunda Mandir.

¤ Kherat

Kherat lies 6km from Ater along an uneven but motorable road - be prepared for a bumpy ride, another site of great excavations in Gwalior. The last half kilometre has to be done on foot as it goes through a ravine. You’ll have to put on your walking shoes and trudge it for half an hour.
This site too is under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India. of the two temples you’ll find here, the Durga Temple is recent while the other is a 10th century brick structure.
The Navgraha Murti (representation of the nine planets) that was originally installed here has been missing since 1986.

¤ Kakanmadh

Kakanmadh too has been declaired as an excavation site, it is handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India for the restoration of the 11th century temple which is presently in disrepair. It is roughly 100km from Ater. While visiting any of these sites go prepared for an uncomfortable ride and take bottles of mineral water and some snacks along.

¤ Must-See Museums

Apart from the above-mentioned Gujari Mahal Archaeological Museum and the Jai Vilas Museum, there are two more museums worthy of a visit. The Municipal Corporation Museum, Moti Mahal Road, has quite a collection of armoury and natural history. Open 1000-1630; closed Monday. . The Kala Vithika, MP Kala Parishad, has a fantastic collection of modern art. Open 0900-1700; closed Sunday; no admission charge.

Sola Khamba (16 Pillars Tomb)

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Built during the reign of Aurangzeb albiet minus his contribution, the Sola Khamba is also known as the Shaikh Ala-al-Din’s tomb. This saint was the overseer of the shrine of Moin-ud-din Chisti and he built his own tomb in four years from 1659. Located just outside Chisti’s dargah and completed in 1660, the Sola Khamba is so named because of the 16 pillars that support its roof (sola or solah means 16).

Built in white marble, this rectangular building is not a very large one, but its size is overshadowed by the spectacular trio of cusped arches leading upto the flat roof out of which rise four slender minarets from each corner. The cusped arches are a rare sight for these times, and it was only during Aurangzeb’s reign that they came into their own.

Rewa Kund Monument

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¤ Grand Reservoir

You’ll have to trek about 3.2km south of the monuments around the village to reach this group of buildings. The Rewa Kund is a tank of sacred water from the Rewa, another name for the revered Narmada. This is where the love of the musician-prince Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati flowered.

¤ Palace of Baz Bahadur

Perched on the hill is the Palace of Baz Bahadur (1509), once supplied with water from this very kund or tank by a water lift. An interesting blend of Rajput and Mughal styles, it was actually built well before Baz Bahadur came to power.
The main part of the palace is a spacious open court with halls and rooms on all four sides. On the northern side, beyond the colonnade is a projecting octagonal pavilion with arches overlooking an old garden.
On the terrace at the south end are two beautiful baradaris offering a lovely view of the countryside.

¤ Rani Roopmati’s Pavilion

To the south of Baz Bahadur’s Palace, near the edge of the fort are Roopmati’s Pavilions. Built in three different stages, probably early 15th century with extensions later, these pavilions were occupied by Baz Bahadur’s beloved mistress, Rani Roopmati.
It is believed that the pavilion was originally built as an army observation post. It was initially a massive low hall with two rooms at each end and a thick sloping plinth. Subsequently, the building was extended westward alongside the plinth, but it is the latest addition, the pavilions, that made this building special enough to house the love of Baz Bahadur’s life. The pavilions are square in design with hemispherical domes. These pavilions were special to Rani Roopmati too because she could see the Narmada in the valley below. Indeed, the view from here at sunset or by moonlight across to the Narmada valley 305m below is truly sensational.

¤ Love At The Time of Akbara

Baz Bahadur, ever so fond of music, was the last independent ruler of Mandu. Once out hunting (typical setting for a king-meets-peasant-girl love story), Baz Bahadur chanced upon a shepherdess frolicking and singing with her friends. Smitten by both her enchanting beauty and her mellifluous voice, he begged Roopmati to accompany him to his capital. Roopmati agreed to go to Mandu on the condition that she would live in a palace within sight of her beloved and venerated river, Narmada. Thus was built the Rewa Kund at Mandu.

¤ The End of The Love Tale

Unfortunately, the fairytale romance of this Muslim prince and Hindu shepherdess was doomed to failure. The great Mughal Akbar decided to invade Mandu, spurred partially on by the accounts of Roopmati’s bewitching beauty. No match for the great Mughal army, Mandu fell in the hands of Akbar. Baz Bahadur fled the fort while Rani Roopmati stoically poisoned herself. Thus ended this magical love story steeped in music, poetry and beauty.

Raj Bhawan

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This stands in the quieter part of the city called Chhota Shimla, or Shimla Minor, and is the residence of the Governor of HP.
A perfect English country house, the building was formerly known as Barnes Court after Sir Edward Barnes, commander-in-chief in 1832-33.
This large rambling building with half-timbered gables has a Moorish ballroom and decorations by Kipling’s father, John Lockwood Kipling. Lord Napier of Magdala, Sir Colin Campbell and Sir Hugh Rose all lived there.

Barnes Court was also the site of the historic Shimla Peace Accord (1972) between Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (of Pakistan) and the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. By this agreement both countries agreed to solve all disputes bilaterally (3rd July). Raj Bhawan merits a visit, though one needs special permission from the Governor’s Secretariat.

Fatehpur Sikri Monuments

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Distance : 40 kmfrom Agra

¤ The City At A Glance
Khana i Am Akbar s palace
Sikri was a decrepit little village till the Mughal Emperor Akbar came visiting in 1568. Despite marrying the Amber princess Jodhabai in 1562, and having over 300 concubines at his beck and call, the monarch was childless.

Desperate for an heir, Akbar visited the saint, Shaikh Salim who was encamping here and who predicted that Akbar would have a son within 3 years. As fate had willed it, Jodhabai bore him a son the next year. The emperor named him after the mystic.
Not only that, he decided to move lock stock and barrel to the place and named it Fatehpur, or the ‘City of Victory’. His military conquest of Gujarat might also have persuaded him to shift base as must have the local abundance of red sandstone. In fact, apart from the marble-white mausoleum of Salim, nestling in one corner of the Jami Masjid – the city is entirely built out of red sandstone.

¤ The Main Attractions

Diwani-i-Am
The Diwani-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience) is where the monarch sat and lent a patient ear to all the petitions he received. A paved courtyard called the Pachisi was where the monarch played chaubar, a game that closely resembles chess– using slave girls as pieces.

Diwani-i-Khas
TheDiwani-i-Khas nearby housed theIbadat Khana or the ‘House of Worship’ where the emperor debated various systems with noted theologians.
Although semi-literate, Akbar was the most liberal of the Mughal emperors, and in 1579, he was declared the highest authority in matters of religion by the famous ‘infallibility decree’. Three years later, the emperor founded Din-a-Ilahi or the ‘Religion of God’ which was an amalgam of all the major religions of the world. Decried by religious zealots from his own community as an apostate, Din-a-Ilahi disappeared as a faith after Akbar’s death in 1605.

Ankh Michauli
As you enter the Ankh Michauli (Closed Eyes) pavilion, you realise that Akbar could be as flippant as he was profound. Here the Mughal played ‘blind man’s buff’ and indulged in frivolous pranks in the company of his harem.

Jodhabai’s Palace
Jodhabai’s Palace is befittingly the grandest of all palaces in Fatehpur Sikri – as she was his most favoured wife and the mother of the crown prince. Other notable palaces at Fatehpur Sikri are the five-storeyed Panch Mahal and the Hawa Mahal.

Friday Mosque
Begun in 1571 and completed four years later, the Friday Mosque was the largest of its kind in India at the time, measuring 168 metres by 144, with a huge inner courtyard.
The Buland Darwaza or ‘Sublime Gateway’ was added later to commemorate Akbar’s military conquest of Gujarat.
The gateway, which rises to a height of 45 metres, presents an awesome spectacle of isolation, and has exquisite Persian calligraphy inscribed on it.
It says, “ The world is a bridge. Pass over it but build no house upon it, for whoever hopes for one hour, hopes for all eternity. The world is one hour. Spend it in prayer, for the rest is unseen”. No more eloquent epitaph to the Mughal Empire – or any other empire can be written.

Buland DarwazaSalim Chisti’s Mausoleum
and a trip to Fatehpur Sikri would be incomplete without visiting Salim Chisti’s Mausoleum – the sage who played an important role in Akbar’s life. Issueless parents visit his shrine in droves to pray for sons as Akbar did over four centuries ago. They tie little cords and paper wishes to the screens and any other object they can find.

The Everlasting Glory of Fatehpur Sikri
By 1585, Akbar wearied of the dry, hot climate of the city and moved to the cooler climes of Lahore. Within a few years, the pomp and pageantry of the city vanished – but the sandstone monuments endure to this day. Such were the construction methods employed, that there is not a single derelict monument in the city. The Mughal Empire has long since vanished from the firmament but the greatest of the Mughal emperors, Akbar etched his name forever in the sands of time by building the Fatehpur Sikri.

Qutub Minar in Delhi

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¤ Constructed As A Holy Minar
Qutub MinarThe world famous towering Qutub Minar, started in 1192 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak (1192-98), breathes down the neck of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. There is a slight difference of opinion as to its purpose: it probably was a tower of victory, but then again it could have been built to be a minar (tower), attached to the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, for the muezzin (priest) to climb up top for a prayer.

¤ Other Belief of Its Construction

Among Delhites there are lots of other theories about the origin of the tower. Some say it was the observatory of the great scientist Aryabhatta of ancient India, other claim that it was built by Prithvi Chauhan for his daughter to see the Yamuna. In fact everything short of an extraterrestrial origin has been attributed to it. The presence of the ancient non-rusting Iron Pillar within the complex further appears to add credence to the first theory. However the tower, its entire design and architecture are undisputedly Islamic and all the other theories are just matters of wild surmise.

Considering how shortchanged he was for time, it is doubtful that Qutub-ud-din got much further than a couple of levels of the minar, in fact many suggest that lived to see only the first storey complete. Altamash, his successor, completed the remaining tower.

¤ Measures Taken To Keep The Minar In Perfect Shape

It is clear that the tower was very close to the sultanate's heart, since repeated efforts were made to keep it in perfect shape. In its long career, the tower got hit by lightening twice – something that, of course, with its height it was literally asking for. Once during the reign of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq, who very decently repaired the ensuing damage. The next time was in the indefatigable builder Feroze Shah Tughlaq's time, when the topmost storey got damaged. Feroze Shah, who of course couldn't well leave things alone, not only repaired the floor, but also sneaked in another level.

The result of this combined effort is an interesting mix in styles that is clearly discernable all over the tower. Each of the original three storeys has different designs. The base storey has alternate angular and circular flutings while those of the second one are round and the third one has only angular flutings. Their alignment is mercifully similar, so giving the tower a rhythmic harmony. The pretty projecting balconies have a very interesting pattern, with icicle-shaped pendentive (an intricate design in which triangular pieces of vaulting spring from the corners of a rectangular area and support a rounded or polygonal dome) type of brackets. The attractiveness of the balconies is heightened by the bands of sonorous inscriptions. The diameter (at base) of the Qutub Minar is 14.32m and about 2.75m at the top.

¤ The Attraction of Crownig Cupola

The tower had a crowning cupola on the top at one time, however this was struck down sometime in the early 19th century, an earthquake felled it. This was replced by a well meaning English engineer Major Smith. However it must have looked quite an eyesore for when Lord Hardinge was Governor-general of British India, he had it removed. You can see it now on the spruce lawns of the Qutub complex. Come to think of it, it must have been eyesore – it's called Smith’s folly.

Rashtrapati Bhawan

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¤ Rashtrapati Bhawan (Viceroy Palace)-Best Known Monument of British Empire

Rashtrapati BhawanThe Viceroy Palace remains Lutyens most significant achievement. It is befittingly the crowning glory of the British Empire and architecture in India. Today, it is perhaps India’s best known monument after the Taj Mahal and the Qutub Minar. Bigger than the Palace of Versailles, it cost a whopping £12,53,000 and now houses the President of India. It is unquestionably a masterpiece of symmetry, discipline, silhouette, colour and harmony. of course, it has come in for much criticism too but that has mostly been limited to the imperial intent behind it rather than its architecture.

¤ Picturesque Location

Better known now as the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the sprawling palace straddles the crown of Raisina Hill and is the focal point of New Delhi. The majestic Rajpath (earlier Kings Way) leads up to the palace on Raisina Hill and here comes into view the one fatal flaw in design. Lutyens and Baker had a major showdown about the height of the slope approaching the palace which was at that time caricatured as the ‘War of the Gradient’. Lutyens wanted the palace to come into view as one climbed Raisina Hill. Unfortunately, Baker miscalculated. The palace disappears from sight till only the copper dome is visible. Furious with Baker, Lutyens said he had ‘met his Bakerloo’.

The palace is flanked by the two Secretariats and the three together, open into a huge square called the Viceroy’s Court where the Jaipur Column stands tall. The Viceroys Court, which frames the main entrance to the house, has lateral entrances on the axis of the Jaipur Column. Here the levels were reduced artificially and cascades of steps are flanked by huge sandstone elephants and ranks of imperial lions modelled by the sculptor C.S. Jagger.

¤ The Attractions of The Palace

The main entrance is approached by a broad flight of steps which lead to a 12-column portico. Do notice the enormous projecting cornice or chajja, a Mughal device, which blends so effortlessly with the classical style of the monument. Lutyens’ ability to smoothly incorporate light oriental touches is all the more remarkable given his active and profound dislike for Indian architecture.

The most outstanding feature of the House – you can spot it while you are still a kilometre away – is the huge neo-Buddhist copper dome that rises over a vast colonnaded frontage. Beneath the dome is the circular Durbar Hall 22.8m in diameter. The coloured marbles used in the hall come from all parts of India. The Viceroy’s throne, ceremonially placed in this chamber, faced the main entrance and commanded a view along the great axial vista of Kingsway (now Rajpath). At present the hall is the venue of all official ceremonies such as the swearing in of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Members of Parliament. It is in this very chamber that the President annually confers the Arjuna Awards for Excellence.

The columns at the front entrance have bells carved into their capitals. Lutyens reasoned that ‘the ringing of bells sound the end of an empire and stone bells never sound’. Despite this, the empire came to an end a brief 16 years later.

¤ The Great Interiors

The principal floor comprises a magnificent series of state apartments. The State Drawing Room is barrel-vaulted and plainly treated with domestic fireplaces. The State Ballroom is enriched with Old English mirror glass. The State Library is based on the form of Wren’s St Stephen’s, Walbrook. The State Dining Room is lined with teak panelling enriched with the star of India. The concept of Imperial order and hierarchy permeates the entire house.

Marble staircases flanking the Durbar Hall provide access to the private apartments above. There are 54 bedrooms together with additional accommodation for guests. Lord Irwin, its first occupant, ‘kept losing his way’ but insisted that "in spite of its size, it was essentially a liveable-in-house."

¤ Mughal Garden

To the west the palace overlooks an enormous Mughal garden designed by Lutyens. Here the principles of hierarchy, order, symmetry and unity are extended from the house into the landscape. A series of ornamental fountains, walls, gazebos and screens combine with scores of trees, flowers and shrubs to create a paradise so delightful that Indians called the garden ‘God’s own Heaven’. The Irwins supervised the planting of the garden which grew in tropical profusion softening the formal pattern of lawns and waterways. Popularly known as the Mughal Garden, it is open to public every spring but be prepared for the tight security check.

¤ The Glory of The Palace

After India became independent, the sheer size of the building overwhelmed its new keepers. Mahatma Gandhi suggested it be turned into a hospital. Thankfully, nobody took him seriously. The Durbar Hall served as a museum for several years till the building which now houses the National Museum was completed.

Here’s what Mark-Bence Jones remarked about life at the Viceroy’s House in his book Palaces of the Raj. Do note the then-and-now comparison he makes on a later visit to the palace, long after the British had gone.

"Then there were the banquets held during sessions of the Chamber of Princes, when every other guest at the long table was the ruler of a State. The gold plate glittered in its crimson-lined niche, the lustres glinted, the scarlet and gold khitmagars moved deftly against the teak-panelled walls, and from an adjoining room came the music of the Viceroy’s band."

"In India that replaced the Raj, Lutyens’ Palace has managed to keep some of its glory. …As the home of a modern democratic President, it is certainly on the large side, but the Indians have been wise enough to maintain a Presidential establishment worthy of the setting. Scarlet-clad guards still sit on their chargers beneath the stone sentry boxes, khitmagars in white, red and gold line the corridors."

Parliament House of India

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Parliament House

¤ Also Known As Sansad Bhawan - A Large Legislative Assembly

If it were not for the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms of 1919, the Parliament House may not have been built. It’s corny how the building most indispensable to modern Indian democracy came up as an afterthought. Earlier called the Circular House, it was added to the layout at a later stage following the reforms which created a large Legislative Assembly.

This edifice is the brainchild of Herbert Baker and was much criticized in comparison with Lutyens creations. An article by Robert Byron in Architectural Review, January 1931describes it thus: "The Council Chamber has been Sir Herbert’s unhappiest venture. Its effect from a distance has been described. It resembles a Spanish bull-ring, lying like a mill-wheel dropped accidentally on its side."

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State : Delhi
Location : On the northwest of Vijay Chowk, next to the Secretariat buildings at the end of Parliament Street (Sansad Marg).
Time to Visit :Entry into Parliament House requires official permission, whether Parliament is in session or not. Visitors can enter the public galleries of the Indian Parliament with prior permission, after receiving an official pass.
Famous as :The place where the Indian Parliament meets and the world's largest democracy functions.
Admission Fee :

Free, but prior permission required (foreigners/citizens: from their embassies or High commissions/ from the reception office on Raisina Road)
Photography charges :

nil (prior permission required)

¤ The Massive Structure

To the northwest of Vijay Chowk, this huge circular, colonnaded building comprises three semicircular chambers for the Legislatures and a Central Library crowned by a 27.4m high dome. It is 173m in diameter and covers 2.02 hectares in area, with colonnaded verandahs enclosing the entire circumference. The three semi-circular areas were designed for the Chamber of Princes, the Council of State and the Legislative Assembly. Today they house the chambers of the Lok Sabha (House of the People), Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and the library. A verandah with 144 columns surrounds the three chambers. The boundary wall has blocks of sandstone carved in geometrical patterns that echo the Mughal jalis.

An entry pass to the library can be obtained from the Visitor’s reception on Raisina Road by providing a letter of introduction from a Member of Parliament. The library working hours are from 1000-1800. To obtain a visitor’s pass to Sansad Bhawan, Indian nationals should apply to the Parliament Secretariat. Foreign nationals should apply through their embassies or high commissions.

India Gate

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India Gate ¤ All India War Memorial

India Gate is constructed as a memorial and was built in the memory of 90,00 soldiers who laid down their lives during world war I. Located at Rajpath, India Gate is 42 m high and is popular relaxation area during the summer evenings. India Gate also act as popular pinic spot during winter. Also known as the All India War Memorial, India Gate was designed and constructed by Lutyens. He was the who is considered the chief proclaimer in designing the New Delhi plans.

¤ The Architectural Marvel.

A tour of Lutyens’ Delhi just has to kick off with the stately India Gate at the east end of the broad Janpath (earlier Kingsway) that leads to the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Another additional 13,516 names engraved on the arch and foundations form a separate memorial to the British and Indian soldiers killed on the North-West Frontier in the Afghan War of 1919. The foundation stone was laid by HRH the Duke of Connaught in 1921 and the monument was dedicated to the nation 10 years later by the then Viceroy, Lord Irwin. Another memorial, Amar Jawan Jyoti was added much later after India had said goodbye to its imperial rulers. It is in the form of a flame that burns day and night under the arch to remind the nation of soldiers who perished in the Indo-Pakistan War of December 1971.

The entire arch stands on a low base of red Bharatpur stone and rises in stages to a huge cornice, beneath which are inscribed Imperial suns. Above on both sides is inscribed INDIA, flanked by MCM and to the right, XIX. The shallow domed bowl at the top was intended to be filled with burning oil on anniversaries but this is rarely done.
Quick bytes

Location : New Delhi
Famous As : All India War Memorial
Designed By : Edwin Lutyens In 1921
Height : 42m

¤ The Breathtaking View of India Gate

Nowadays, if you drive down the smooth wide expanse of Rajpath on a midsummer night, you might be excused for assuming that a huge glittering carnival is in progress at India Gate. The entire boulevard up to the monument is lined with cars, scooters, motorcycles and what-have-you. In fact all of Delhi seems to have converged to the emerald lawns of India Gate. The air is thick with chatter, laughter and the cries of assorted vendors peddling their wares. You can snack on anything from fruit chaat (fruit salad with hot, spicy dressing), through bhelpuri (a snack of puffed rice, spices and hot, sweet and sour chutney), chana jor garam (spicy chickpeas), dal ka pakodas (fried lentil-flour dumplings), potato chips to ice cream, candy floss and aerated drinks.

¤ A Perfect Place For A Halt

Most of the revellers come equipped with balls, Frisbees or just a pack of playing cards. But India Gate has lots to offer in the name of entertainment. You can watch monkeys perform, enjoy a camel ride, blow soap bubbles all over the lawns, play with balloons and even get your insides turned inside out on a ferris wheel.

But if you ask us, the best thing to do is to loll on the cool lawns, lick a bar of ice candy and watch the floodlit arch and the fountains nearby that seem magically lit up with coloured lights.

Jantar Mantar

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¤ An Observatory

The Jantar Mantar was built in 1710 by Raja Jai Singh II of Jaipur (1699-1743) in Delhi. This is an observatory consisting of mason-built astronomical instruments to chart the course of the heavens. Jai Singh, who was a very scholarly king with a very keen interest in astronomy and astrology, had other observatories built too – in Ujjain, Jaipur, Mathura (which no longer survives) and Varanasi.

The first among these was this one in Delhi. The yantras (instruments, which has been distorted to Jantar) are built of brick rubble and plastered with lime. The yantras have evocative names like, samrat yantra, jai prakash, ram yantra and niyati chakra; each of which are used to for various astronomical calculations.

Taj Mahal

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Taj Mahal -A Marvel of Love

Take a constitutional down Shahjahan Park in the chilly mauve light of dawn, and the pale white dome of the Taj Mahal, India looms in the distance. Set against the azure skyline, it looks like a mirage in a desert. Inch closer and the supreme majesty of the greatest monument to love comes into focus – with its dew-coated lawns and its pearl-white mausoleum.

Travel to Taj Mahal Agra to baptize into the true glory of this passion of love. As the sun rises to cast a reverential beam on the sepulchre, the ‘dream in marble’ turns from lavender to yellow, while nightfall sees the monument bathed in moonlight – looking like a woman wreathed in smiles while waiting for her lover.

There are many theories as at which time the Taj Mahal, India looks the best, but there is no substitute to viewing it at all hours of the day and the night if you want to understand its myriad facets. Taj Mahal, India is a microcosm of the universe – it contains within it both the yin and the yang, taking on a new personality to suit the occasion. It can be harsh, dry and strong like alabaster, delicately chaste and fragile like porcelain, noisily populous or quiet and secretive.

¤ The Monumental Heritage

A copious amount has been written about the Taj – Agra’s window to the world. Nobel laureate Tagore called it ‘a tear on the face of eternity’, while the painter William Hodges wrote in 1876 that ‘it was like a most perfect pearl on an azure ground’. From Princess Diana to President Clinton to Yanni – the Taj draws every éminence grise from across the ‘seven seas’ to it like a magnet.

As Clinton said during his presidential visit to India, “the world is divided into those who have seen the Taj and those who have not.” The American President joined the list of ‘haves’ this year, but for anyone bitten by the travel bug, a visit to the luminescent monument is an essential part of their resume. To say the ‘miracle in human design’ is the Mughal Empire’s magnum opus is to state the obvious.

Like Picasso’s ‘Guernica’, Omar Khayyam’s ‘Rubaiyat’ or Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’, the Taj instills in you a sublime passion. It uplifts you – one feels more significant as a human being within its confines than outside it.

Quick bytes

State : Uttar Pradesh
Location : Taj Mahal stands majestically in Agra city on the banks of river Yamuna.
Watch Out : Taj Museum; Closed on Mondays and Fridays
Look Out : Taj Mahotsav, February, Held for 10 days.

¤ The History Manifest

Taj Mahal India was made in commemoration of Arjumand Bano Begum. The queen was married at the age of 21 to emperor Jahangir's son Khurram. During all the phases of Khurram life, Arjumand Bano Begum supported him through out. She was like a supporting pillar in his life. In AD 1628, Khurram became king after a bloody battle of succession. He changed his name from Khurram to Shahjahan or the King of the World. Arjumand Bano also changed her name from Mumtaz Mahal.

Mumtaz Mahal was not destined to be a queen for a long period of time. She died at the age of 39 while delivering a child at Burhanpur. That auspicious day turned into a mournful event. When Arjumand Banu Begum (better known as Mumtaz Mahal) died in childbirth in 1629, her husband, Emperor Shah Jahan immortalised their love by building the ‘dream in marble’ – the finest illustration of Mughal architecture. The dream took over 22 years to fructify and over 20,000 craftsmen were employed to build it.

¤ Designing of Taj

Who designed the Taj Mahal India is shrouded in mystery – some historians credit the Venetian architect Veroneo with its construction, while others believe it was the work of a Persian called Ustad Isa.

But we do know of the lesser luminaries connected to it with certainty – the central dome was built by Ismail Effendi from Turkey, the calligrapher was Amanat Khan from Shiraz, the mosaicist, Chiranji Lal hailed from Delhi while the goldsmith, Qazim Khan was summoned from Lahore.

A story which is probably apocryphal but has been doing the rounds for generations, says that Shah Jahan had the chief mason’s right hand amputated to preclude him from replicating the ‘marvel in marble’ anywhere else in the world.

Taj Mahal

¤ Taj Nestles On The Banks of Yamuna River

Located at the southern end of the city on the banks of the Yamuna River, the site where the Taj stands belonged to a Hindu nobleman, Raja Man Singh. Abdul Rehman Lahori, the court historian recorded that five million rupees were spent on the building – a king’s ransom in those days.

Once complete, the upkeep of the mausoleum and its 42-acre garden was funded with the revenue obtained from 30 neighbouring villages. There are three lofty gateways to the Tajmahel complex. The central portal is richly decorated with floral arabesques and is inscribed with passages from the Koran. A huge forecourt leads onto a lush garden, which is divided by an aqueduct.

The main monument is a two-storeyed octagonal building with a huge rotunda as its crowning glory. Four sky-scraper tall minarets position themselves as sentries on each side of the monument – all built out of brick and encased in marble. The graves of the celebrated duo, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal are housed in the catacomb below. The Taj is remarkable for its perfect proportions and rich pietra dura, and every minutiae in the monument has been etched with consummate skill. In a nutshell, the Taj is the ‘Embodiment of the Islamic Concept of Paradise’

¤ The Architectural Marvel - Paradise on Earth

In the Koran, the garden symbolises paradise. Islam originated in the deserts of Arabia where greenery and water was very much coveted. “Gardens underneath which rivers flow” is a phrase, that appears no less than 30 times in the Koran. The four main rivers of paradise are also mentioned: water, milk, wine and purified honey.

It is unmistakable that Shah Jahan conceptualised the Taj Mahal as ‘heaven on earth’. As you enter the gates of the Taj, it is like an ingression into heaven. The watercourses divide the garden into quadrants. It was Babur who had introduced the char-bagh (four-garden) concept into India. The imagery is threefold: it is a symbol of paradise to reward the faithful; an oasis from the dry desert heat; and a summation of the secular tradition of the royal pleasure garden. and the watercourse, which divides the garden into four, epitomises both, the life source and the meeting of man and God.

In this context, the spacious lawns surrounding the Taj Mahal become as important as the mausoleum itself.Your travel trip to Taj definitely leaves you mesmerize, a ‘Paradise on Earth’ really summarises its ethereal appeal – the monument rivals any of the other wonders of the world.

¤ Taj Mahotsav

The best time to visit this 17 th century monument is during Taj Mahotsav. Taj Mahotsav is 10 day saga held annually at Shilpgram, near Taj Mahal. Bedecked elephants and camels, drum beaters, folk artists and master craftsmen together recreate the glorious past of the Mughals.

During this fest, Taj Mahal comes alive with culture and traditions. Taj Mahostav provides an opportunity to its artisans to perform their art and craft. You can actually purchase crafts which includes wood carvings from Saharanpur, handmade carpets of Badohi, the pottery of Khurja, chickan-work of Lucknow, the silk of Banares and much more.

Through Taj Mahotsav, performers get a platform to showcase profusion of folk music and dances of Dundelkhand, 'Nautanki' (Drama), 'Sapera' dance of Rajasthan, Lavani of Maharashtra.

¤ Shopping At Taj Mahal

Just at the entrance, there are number of shops. These shops sells exquisite crafts and arts at affordable price. You can purchase leather work, footwear and embroidery. Infact, you small Taj Mahal miniature made of white marble are quite popular amongst the tourists.

¤ Getting to Taj Mahal
Air : Just 7 kms from Agra city lies Kheria airport. From Delhi, Indira Gandhi Airport, Taj Mahal is just 204 kms away.
Rail : The nearest rail head for the Taj Mahal is Agra Cantonement railway station. The city is connected with Palace on Wheels, Shatabdi and Taj Express.
Road : Express bus service are available from Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, Gwalior, and Jhansi.

¤ Accommodation at Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal is one of the major attractions of Agra India. Due to its locale, Taj Mahal offers best of accommodation facilities.

Five Star Hotel
Hotel Clark Shiraj
Hotel Taj view

Three Star Hotel
Hotel Deedar-e-Taj
Hotel Amar
Hotel Mansingh Palace

Indian coins

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India won its independence on 15th August, 1947. During the period of transition India retained the monetary system and the currency and coinage of the earlier period. While Pakistan introduced a new series of coins in 1948 and notes in 1949, India brought out its distinctive coins on 15th August, 1950.

Chronologically, the main considerations influencing the coinage policy of Republic India over time have been:

The incorporation of symbols of sovereignty and indigenous motifs on independence;
Coinage Reforms with the introduction of the metric system;
The need felt from time to time to obviate the possibility of the metallic value of coins rising beyond the face value;
The cost-benefit of coinisation of currency notes
Independent India Issues could broadly be categorised as

The Frozen Series 1947-1950

This represented the currency arrangements during the transition period upto the establishment of the Indian Republic. The Monetary System remained unchanged at One Rupee consisting of 192 pies.

1 Rupee = 16 Annas

1 Anna = 4 Pice

1 Pice = 3 Pies

The Anna Series

This series was introduced on 15th August, 1950 and represented the first coinage of Republic India. The King's Portrait was replaced by the Lion Capital of the Ashoka Pillar. A corn sheaf replaced the Tiger on the one Rupee coin. In some ways this symbolised a shift in focus to progress and prosperity. Indian motifs were incorporated on other coins. The monetary system was largely retained unchanged with one Rupee consisting of 16 Annas.















The Decimal Series

The move towards decimalisation was afoot for over a century. However, it was in September, 1955 that the Indian Coinage Act was amended for the country to adopt a metric system for coinage. The Act came into force with effect from 1st April, 1957. The rupee remained unchanged in value and nomenclature. It, however, was now divided into 100 'Paisa' instead of 16 Annas or 64 Pice. For public recognition, the new decimal Paisa was termed 'Naya Paisa' till 1st June, 1964 when the term 'Naya' was dropped.

Naya Paisa Series 1957-1964















With commodity prices rising in the sixties, small denomination coins which were made of bronze, nickel-brass, cupro-nickel, and Aluminium-Bronze were gradually minted in Aluminium. This change commenced with the introduction of the new hexagonal 3 paise coin. A twenty paise coin was introduced in 1968 but did not gain much popularity.

Aluminium Series 1964 onwards













Over a period of time, cost benefit considerations led to the gradual discontinuance of 1, 2 and 3 paise coins in the seventies; Stainless steel coinage of 10, 25 and 50 paise, was introduced in 1988 and of one rupee in 1992. The very considerable costs of managing note issues of Re 1, Rs 2, and Rs 5 led to the gradual coinisation of these denominations in the 1990s.

Contemporary Coins

Sunil Gavaskar Profile

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Full Name: Sunil Manohar Gavaskar
Born: July 10, 1949, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Major teams: India, Mumbai, Somerset
Batting style: Right-hand bat
Bowling style: Right-arm medium

Achievements:First player to score more than 10,000 runs in Tests; one of the only two players to score centuries in each innings, three times; highest number of runs in a debut series by an Indian (774 against West Indies); Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1980; awarded Padma Bhushan

Sunil Manohar Gavaskar, one of the greatest opening batsmen the game has ever seen, made a spectacular Test debut in 1971 scoring 774 runs in his first Test series against the West Indies. Throughout his illustrious career, Gavaskar was renowned for his near flawless technique that helped him shine in an era ruled by some most hostile pacemen ever to play the game.

Thanks to his technique and enormous powers pf concentration, Gavaskar was able to provide much needed solidity to Indian batting that often crumbled under pressure. He was a 4th innings wonder who played numerous great innings on treacherous fifth-day tracks that were virtual deathbeds for less capable batsmen. Gavaskar's solid 102 at Port of Spain, Trinidad in 1975-76 laid the foundation for India to win the match chasing a mammoth total of 403.

Sunny, as Gavaskar was affectionately known, was a statistician's delight who has some of the most amazing cricketing records to his name. Gavaskar's aforementioned total against West Indies was the highest number of runs in a debut series. Gavaskar was the holder of the record for the most number of Test centuries (34) until 2005 when his countryman Sachin Tendulkar broke that record.

Gavaskar was the only player to score centuries in each innings, three times (Ricky Ponting equalled this record against South Africa in 2006). He was also the first batsman to reach 10,000 Test runs and held the record for the most number of runs until it was broken by Allan Border.

More than these glittering achievements, Indian cricket would be grateful to Gavaskar-and to Gundappa Viswanath--for showing the world that India indeed can produce batsmen who don't cringe before genuine pace. The fact that Gavaskar scored 13 centuries against West Indies facing great pacemen such as Roberts, Holding, Garner, Croft and Marshall speaks volumes about his batting prowess.

Sachin Tendulkar Profile

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Full Name: Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar
Born: April 24, 1973, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Major teams: India, Mumbai, Yorkshire
Batting style: Right-hand bat
Bowling style: Legbreak googly

Achievements:Most runs and most centuries in ODIs; highest number of Test centuries; first cricketer to make 10,000 runs in ODIs; most runs in World Cup history; highest individual score by an Indian (186 not out); most Man of the Man awards in ODIs; Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1997; Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for 1997-98

More than his cricketing genius, the greatness of Sachin Tendulkar lies in his approach towards the game of cricket and the commitment he shows while playing for his country. In terms of his mind-boggling cricketing achievements and the mass adoration he commands all over the world, Sachin is an once-in-a-lifetime cricketer.

Since his debut against Pakistan in 1989-90 as a precocious talent, Sachin has metamorphosed into a cricketing phenomenon by dint of his skills and an uncompromising work ethic. In his illustrious career spanning 16 years and counting, Tendulkar has amassed 24,000 international runs made with the aid of more than 70 centuries.

A statistician's delight, the Tendulkar juggernaut has broken cricketing records of all hues, while consistently setting new benchmarks of excellence. Till date, Sachin is the only player to score a century while making his Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Irani Trophy debut. He has scored the highest number of runs and most centuries in One Day cricket. With at least five years of cricket still left in him, Tendulkar is sure to scale greater heights in both forms of cricket.

But impressive as his statistics are, they cannot represent the true essence of his genius. Apart from his sublime skills, Tendulkar is blessed with a shrewd cricketing brain that helps him achieve a better understanding of the game and come up with his own set of innovations.

History of Cricket in India

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The history of cricket in India can be traced to the Eighteenth century with references of a friendly match between two teams of visiting sailors at a seaport in Kutch in 1725. This English game soon caught the fancy of the natives with the Pasis coming up with the first non-British cricket club of the country, the Orient Cricket Club in Mumbai in 1848.

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, one of the chief patrons of cricket in India, led the first unofficial tour of an "All India" team to England in 1911. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) took root largely due to the efforts of the Maharaja along with A. S. De Mello, Lord Harris and R. E. Grant Govan.

The strenuous efforts of these visionaries bore fruit when India was admitted to the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 1929 and subsequently granted test status in 1932. The day June 25, 1932, would be a red-letter day in the history of Indian cricket as on this fateful day India made its Test debut at Lord's, the Mecca of cricket.

During the early days, with cricket yet to find a firm footing in the country, three Indians - Ranjitsinghji, his nephew Duleepsinghji and the Nawab of Pataudi (Senior) had made a mark for themselves by playing for English teams. Ranjitsinghji even shouldered the responsibility of leading the Sussex team from 1899 to 1903.