Keukenhof also known as the garden of Europe is one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Keukenhof is located in the small town of Lisse south west of Amsterdam the capital city of The Netherlands. The Keuknhof park, covers an area of 79 acres and approximately 7 million flower bulbs are planted here annually. Keukenhof features a variety of gardens and garden styles. With more than 800 varieties of Tulips it is an unique and unforgettable experience.
Keukenhof is opened annually from mid-March to mid-May. It is accessible by bus from Amsterdam and Schiphol.
Burhanpur is situated on the northern bank of Tapti River in Madhya Pradesh. It is located 340 kms southwest of Bhopal and 540 km northeast of Mumbai.
It was an important city under the Rashtrakuta Dynasty during 753-982AD. In 1388AD, Malik Nasir Khan, the Faruqi Sultan of Khandesh discovered Burhanpur at the behest of Shaikh Zainuddin and renamed it after a well-known medieval Sufi saint, Burhan-ud-Din which later became the capital of Khandesh Sultanate. In 1601AD Akbar annexed the Khandesh Sultanate and Burhanpur became the capital of Khandesh Subah of the Mughal Empire.
It is a beautiful city with a lot of historical monuments existing in its expanse, primarily from the times of Sha Jahan the great Mughal emperor. Shah Jahan spent a considerable time in this city and helped to add to the Shahi Qila, the majestic palace situated on the banks of Tapti River. The main attraction of the palace is the royal bath which was made specifically for the use of Begum Mumtaz Mahal. Also it is said that Sha Jahan was originally planned to build the Taj Mahal here as it was the home town of Mumtaz Mahal who lived and died in Burhanpur.
Burhanpur was taken by the Peshwas and in 1761AD the Maratha army marched for the Third Battle of Pnipat from this city. After the fall of the Marathas the city came under the British control.
The Jama Masjid is one of the most important tourist attraction of Burhanpur. The construction of the Masjid was started by Farooqui rulers and was completed during the time of Akbar.
Another attraction is Ahu Khana or the Deer House an enclosed garden with tanks and pleasure houses constructed during the reign of Shah Jahan. The buildings include a fine Baradari, now roofless where Mumtaz Begum has been buried.
Another tourist attraction is Dargah-e-Hakimi the tomb complex includes mosques gardens etc. The Dawoodi Bhora saint Saiyed Abdul Qadir Hakimuddin is buried here. This is a major pilgrimage center for the Dawoodi Bhora community all over the world.
The Pleasure Palace at Mahal Gulara is another tourist attraction which is few kilometers away from the city. Probably built by Prince Khurram, later on Sha Jahan for a lady named Gulara.
Another attraction is Raja Jai Singh’s Chhatri built at the confluence of Mohana and Tapti Rivers. Popularly called as Raja Ki Chhatri, this 32 pillar structure is an example of Rajastani and Mughal architecture.
The tomb of Begum Shah Shuja, Bilqis Begum is a must visit in Burhanpur. Bilqis Begum was the wife of Shah Shuja the second son of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Of all the Mughal monuments built in Burhanpur this tomb is unique in terms of its construction style. It stands on a raised fluted circular plinth. The Maqbara is built to resemble a melon with intricate carvings.
Not far from the city is the Tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan often called as Black Taj by the locals.
Not far from the city are the tombs of the royal family and their relatives. A well preserved complex with compound walls.
Stay & Sightseeing
There are plenty of accommodation options available in Burhanpur. However Hotel Ambar near bus stand managed by a Parsi couple is a good option. They have a restaurant which serves, very nice food.
You can hire an auto rikshaw to go around different monuments. There are guides available to show you around the monuments. I highly recommend Mr. Yaqub Boringwala (mobile no. 09826453574) who is very co-operative and have very good knowledge of the area.
Asirgarh Fort is situated in the Satpura Range at a distance of 20 kms north of the city of Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh. The fort was built by Asa Ahir of the Ahir Dynasty. Mughal emperor Akbar conquered this for in 1601AD. Later it came under the control of the British.
The architecture of the fort was influenced by the Mughals – an amalgamation of Islamic, Persian, Turkish and Indian styles. There are three man made ponds inside the fort to provide water supply. There is a temple known as Gupteshwar Mahadev Mandir didicated to Lord Shiva. The local legend is that Ashwatthama of Epic Mahabharata used to come to this temple to worship and offer flowers to Lord Shiva. There is a ruined mosque with minarets inside the fort known as Asir Masjid. There are some British graves also in the fort. The fort has been deserted following the departure of the British.
Kasargod is the northernmost district of Kerala is bordering the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka is famous for its forts and pristine beaches. It is located 50 km south of Mangalore city. The principle language of Kasargod is Malayalam and Kannada but other languages like Tulu, Beary Bhasha (spoken by Tuluva-Malayali Muslims) and Konkani are also widely spoken. Hindi and Urdu are spoken to a lesser extent. Havyaka speakers also have a strong base here. Havyaka Brahmins are the Hindu Pancha Dravida Brahmin Subsect primarily from Karnataka and North Malabar. They speak a unique language a dialect of Kannada known as Havigannada. So many languages for such a small town….. a living testimony to its cosmopolitan nature. The famous Malik Dinar Mosque is also located in Kasargod. It contains the grave of Malik Dinar one of the companions of Prophet Mohammed. The mosque is built in typical Kerala style of architecture.
The major attraction of Kasargod is the Bekal Fort. This is the largest fort in Kerala, spreading over 40 acres. Unlike most other Indian forts, Bekal Fort was not a center of administration and as a result no remains of palace, mansion or such buildings are found within the fort. The fort was built especially for fulfilling defense requirements. The fort was constructed by Shivappa Nayaka of Bednore in 1650 AD. During the Perumal Age Bekal was part of Mahodayapuram. Following the decline of Perumals of Mahodayapuram by 12th Century AD, North Kerala including Bekal came under the sovereignty of Chirakkal Royal Family. The Maritime importance of Bekal increased much during this period and it became an important port town of Tulunadu and Malabar.
After the decline of Vijayanagara Empire following the Battle of Talikota in 1565 AD, the Keladi Nayakas (Ikkeri Nayakas) came into prominence. Fully understanding the political and economic importance of this region the Nayakas attacked and annexed this region to their kingdom. Bekal served as the nucleus in establishing the dominance of Nayakas in Malabar. Later Hyder Ali conquered the Nayakas and Bekal fell into the hands of Mysore kings. Bekal served as an important military station for Tipu Sultan when he attacked Malabar. After the deat of Tipu Sultan in the fourth Anglo-Mysore war in 1799 the fort came under the British East India Company.
Three fourth of the Bekal Fort’s exterior is surrounded by sea. The fort offers superb view of the Arabian Sea from its tall observation towers where a few centuries ago huge cannons used to be placed. Today Bekal Fort and its surrounding beach is a famous tourist destination and is a favourite shooting location for film makers. The famous song “Tu hi re” from Mani Ratnam’s movie “Bombay” was shot at Bekal Fort.
There are frequent buses from Kasargod bus stand to Pallikara which is at distance of 12 km from Kasargod and the fort is on a 5 minutes’ walk from there. Kanhangad also is at the same distance and there are frequent buses on this route.
This less crowded and unexplored beach is not very far from the Bekal fort and a better option for tourists who seek greater solitude. The small hill on this beach popularly known as Kodi cliff is a major attraction. From the top of this cliff you can enjoy the charming view of the Arabian Sea. The thick groves of casuarina trees and coconut palms along the beach is a visual treat for the tourists. The Taj Vivanta Luxury resort is also located close to Kappil beach.
Chandragiri Fort is located at the confluence of Payaswini River and the Arabian Sea. The Chandragiri fort was built by Shivappa Nayaka of Ikkeri in the 17th century. Perched atop a hill the Chandragiri fort is a vantage point to view of the sunset. It is 50 meters above sea level and occupies an area of 7 acres. Inside the fort there is a deep well and a pond.
A short walk from the Fort will take you to the river bank…
How to Reach:
It is located 12 km from Bekal fort and 4 km from Kasargod town. There are frequent buses available from Beakal and Kasardgod to reach Chandragiri. You can get down at Melparamba and walk down to the fort which is 10 minutes away. The nearest railway station is Kasargod.
Mahakuta group of temples are located at Mahakuta village, 15 kilometers from Badami in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. The temples are dated to the 6th and 7th Century AD and where constructed by the early kings of the Chalukya dynasty of Badami. The temples share the common Chalukya style followed at Aihole temples. The most important temple is Mahakuteshwara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was built in the Dravidian style. It has a Shiv Linga in the shrine topped by a curvilinear tower. There are many other temples in the complex. There is natural spring fed tank inside the temple complex known as Vishnu Pushkarini. This is one of the major attractions in the temple complex and you can see many people taking a holy bath in this tank.
The Mallikarjuna Temple on the other side of the tank is very similar to that of the Mahakuteshwar temple but small in size. There are around two dozen small temples in the temple complex.
How to Rach:
Mahakuta is well connected by road to Badami. There are local transport available from Badami. There are regular Autos & Tum Tum plying between Badami and Mahakuta.
Aihole and Pattadakal located on the banks of Malaprabha River are often considered as the cradle of South Indian architecture. The south Indian Temple architecture was experimented and evolved in these places in the 5th and 6th centuries. Once in Badami, these are a must visit for any travel enthusiast. You can visit both Aihole and Pattadakal in a single day from Badami if you set out in the early morning. It is best to start with the morning bus to Aihole (one hour). Frequent buses run between Aihole and Pattadakal (half an hour) and from Pattadakal to Badami (one hour).
Aihole was earlier known as Ayyavole and Aryapura in in the ancient inscriptions. It was established in the 450 AD as the first capital of Chalukya kings and has about 125 stone temples some of which were constructed as experimental structures by artisans of Chalukayan period. The early Chalukyas inherited architectural styles largely from their neighbours to the north and south of their kingdom. The Chalukyan artisans brought together the prevailing styles in their neighbourhood to create the Chalukyan style. The prominent temple groups at Aihole are the Kontigudi group and the Galgantha group of temples, although historians have divided all the temples into 22 groups.
The most impressive temple in Aihole is Durga Temple which dates to the 7th century. It is notable for its semicircular apse which was copied from Buddhist architecture and for the remains of the curvilinear sikhara. Intricate carvings adorn the colonnaded passageway around the temple sanctuary. To the south of the Durga Temple are several other collections of temples the Gandar, Ladkhan, Kontigudi and Hucchapaya groups with pavilions and slightly sloping roofs.
Lad Khan Temple consists of a shrine with two mantapas in front of it. The shrine bears Shiva Lingam. The mukha mantapa in front of the sanctum has a set of 12 carved pillars. There are also stone grids on the wall carrying floral designs. The temple was built by the Chalukyan kings in the 5th century.
Ravan Phadi cave is one of the oldest rock cut temple in Aihole. The Temple dates back to the 6th century, with rectangular shrine, with two mantapas. There is a Shivlinga in the sanctum sanctorum. The walls and sides of the temple are covered with large figures including dancing Shiva.
About a kilometre from the Durga temple on a hilltop is the Jain Meguti temple. It is the only dated monument built in 634 AD. The temple sits on a raised platform, and flight of stairs leads to another shrine on the roof, directly above the main shrine. From the roof of this temple one can have panoramic view of the surrounding plain with 100 or more temples scattered all around. This temple which was probably never completed gives important evidence of the early development in Dravidian style of architecture. The inscription on the outer wall of the temple records the construction of the temple by Ravikeerthi, a scholar in the court of emperor Pulakeshin II.
En route to Meguti temple on the same hillock there is the 6th century two storied Buddhist cave temple which is partly a rock cut temple.
Pattadakal also spelled as Pattadakallu is located on the left bank of Malaprabha River and about 10 kilometres from Aihole. It is here that the Chalukyan kings were coronated. There are ten temples at Pattadakal including a Jain sanctuary belonging to various architectural styles. The Chalukyan style of temple architecture originated in Aihole and evolved their distinctive style at Pattadakal. There are many Kannada language inscriptions at Pattadakal. The site displays both Nagara and Dravidian style of architecture.
Virupaskha temple is the largest and grandest of all temples in Pattadakal built in 8th century by Queen Lokamhadevi to commemorate her husband’s (Vikramaditya II) victory over the Pallavas of Kanchi.
Sangameshvara Temple is the oldest temple in Pattadakal, built by Chalukya King Vijayaditya Satyashraya. The temple is in Dravidian style.
Mallikarjuna Temple is smaller version of the Virupaksha temple and was built by Vikramaditya’s second queen Trilokymahadevi in 745 AD.
Papanatha Temple is made in the Vesara style in 680 AD. The temple was started in Nagara style but later changed to more balance Dravidian style.
Apart from these major temples, several small Shiva shrines are seen here. The abundance of Shiva temples here clearly indicates that the place was a great Shaiva center in ancient times.
Badami is located in the Bagalkot district of Northern Karnataka. It was the capital of the Chalukyas from 540 AD to 757 AD. At its height the empire was enormous, stretching from Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu to the Narmada River in Gujarat. The Badami fort is the most famous attraction in Badami which is spread across two hills dotted with temples, fortifications, carvings and inscriptions dating not from the Chalukyan period, but also from other times when the site was occupied as fortress. In between these two hills lays Agasthya Tirtha Lake, the waters of which are believed to have healing powers. This manmade lake is named after one of the Saptarishis, Agasthya. As per legend Badami has origin in the Vatapi legend of Ramayana relating to Sage Agasthya.
The two demon siblings Vatapi and Ilvala used to kill all mendicants by tricking them in a peculiar way. The elder Ilvala would turn Vatapi into a ram and would offer its meat to the guest. As soon as the person ate the meat, Ilvala would call out the name of Vatapi. As he had a boon that whomsoever Ilvala calls would return from even the netherland, Vatapi would emerge ripping through the body of the person thus killing him. Their trick worked until Sage Agastya countered them by digesting Vatapi before Ilvala could call for him, thus ending the life of Vatapi at the hands of Ilvala. Two of the hills in Badami represent the demon Vatapi and Ilvala.
The Bhuthanatha group of temples are located on the east side of the lake and the Mallkarjuna group of temples are located on the north-east side of the lake.
Another major attraction of Badami is the four cave temples carved out of sandstone along the ravine at the foot of the rugged hill surrounding the lake. These are considered to be the best examples of Chalukyan architecture. These temples are dated to 6th to 7th centuries AD.
Cave no. 1
This cave is just above the entrance to the complex, is dedicated to Shiva. It is the oldest of the four caves, probably carved in the latter half of the 6th century. The cave depicts the Thandava dancing of Shiva as Nataraja.
Cave no. 2
The cave is primarily dedicated to Vishnu and is simpler in design. It depicts Vishnu as Trivikrama. Another depiction of Vishnu as Varaha can also be seen in this cave.
Cave no. 3
This cave was carved in 578 AD under the orders of Mangalesha, the brother of King Kirtivarma contains some carvings of Vishnu to whom the cave is dedicated. It is the largest and most intricately carved temple in the complex.
Cave no. 4
This is the smallest of the four caves and was carved between the 7th and 8th centuries. This cave is situated higher than the other caves. This one is a Jain cave and depicted Mahavira sitting on a lion throne.
KAPPE ARABHATTA INSCRIPTION
Kappe Arabhatta was a Chalukyan warrior of the 8th century who is known from a Kannada verse inscription of 700 AD, carved on a cliff overlooking the north east end of the Agasthya Tirtha lake. The inscription consists of five stanzas written out in ten lines in the Kannada script.
Getting There & Around
There are enough buses from Hubli to Badami (3hours), Bijapur to Badami (3.5hours) and from Bengaluru (12 hours). Badami’s train station is 5 km from town. For exploring the nearby areas there are Auto rikshaws available.