Volunteer in India with Saviour Volunteer Projects (Saviour Professionals) to choose from a diverse range of meaningful and affordable volunteering opportunities including Teaching English, Childcare, Disabled Care, Short Term Volunteering, Women Empowerment, Dental Elective, and Medical Mission Trips. The students pursuing medical studies can join the Medical and Dental Internships and get first-hand work experience while shadowing the professionals. All volunteer programs are located in various parts of India.
Students, fresh graduates, working professionals as well as gap year travelers and backpackers, can take part in these projects at any time of the year, as per convenience. Those who are looking for an Alternative Spring Break or Summer Volunteer Programs 2020 can also travel to India for the 2 Week Special Volunteer Program 2020.
Inexpensive India Volunteer Opportunities
Low-Cost to Volunteer in India
There's no shortage of India volunteer opportunities, but many involve agencies that require volunteers to pay high fees (thousands of dollars) for the experience. The fees cover administration, accommodation, and food but it can work out a lot cheaper if you deal directly with the Saviour Professionals Volunteer Programs. Apart from offering a lot more services than the other agencies we make sure that we make it very inexpensive as well.
India is an exciting and highly rewarding travel destination, with a huge variety of beautiful landscapes and wildlife, rich and diverse cultures, a long and fascinating history that you can see at every turn of the corner, and delicious cuisine. But it’s also a place that tends to deeply affect some travelers. The inequities between the rich and poor are stark in some places, and can leave many visitors wondering what they can do to help.
Instead of simply handing money over to people you may see begging, which is rarely a good idea (and never a good idea when it comes to children), there are ways that travelers can positively contribute. If you are willing and able to donate your time, there are almost endless ways you can volunteer for a worthy cause in India. Whatever your skills and interests,you’re likely to be able to find a volunteer program that will enable you to provide concrete assistance as well as have a meaningful and memorable time.
However, it’s important to select a program that really does more good than harm, and that doesn’t actually exploit well-meaning volunteers as well as local children, wildlife, or other vulnerable people in an effort to make money. The opportunities are involves a minimal cost. And, there's a wide range of opportunities to suit everyone!
India can never fail to mesmerize the visitors and there's so much to do and see in the country, that you'll need proper planning to visit all the places on your checklist! Delhi, the capital city, has a rich heritage and there are several architectural establishments worth visiting which include Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Humayun's Tomb, Lotus Temple, Akshardham Temple etc. For those who are shopping freaks, head out towards Dilli Haat or Janpath for some amazing budget deals.
Those who are volunteering/ interning in Palampur will have numerous options to explore the Himalayan corridors of India. Go for paragliding at Bir or trekking at Mcleodganj. You can also book the Golden Triangle Tour (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur), Jaipur City Tour, Udaipur Tour, Manali Tour, Haridwar-Rishikesh Tour, Varanasi Tour, and Amritsar Trip with Volunteering Solutions. We also have a fantastic Goa Beach Week Tour, for those volunteers who wish to extend their stay and explore the 'Hippie Paradise' of Goa. Seek guidance from the country coordinator before planning your weekend trips. Trips to any other locations within India can also be booked through our dedicated travel desk team based in New Delhi.
Go ahead and choose your weekend tour. In case you have any doubts or wish to customize your trip, simply write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you plan your weekend!
There are many tourist attractions all over India and when the volunteers arrive we discuss about the weekend tours and the group tour options (at the end of the volunteer program), considering safety and security of the volunteers and make sure that the volunteers enjoy the weekend tours and the final tour at the end of the volunteer program.
The Taj Mahal is one of the famous finest architecture of the world. It is in a seven wonders of World and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in (1631-1653) with the orders of Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz. 20,000 workers labored and 32 crore rupees were spent during the construction of the monument and it was built according to Islamic architecture. The meaning of Taj Mahal in English is ‘ Place of Crown ‘. Taj Means Crown and Mahal means place.
Agra Fort - Most of the People who visits Taj Mahal, Agra; they also go to visit Famous Agra Fort which is not more than 2 k.ms from Taj Mahal on same river bank. The Emperor Shah Jahan, who built Taj Mahal was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb in the Agra Fort where he had a view on the building erected for his deceased wife. Shah Jahan is said to have died in the Musamman Burj, a tower with a beautiful marble balcony. From there you probably have the best view on the Taj. Between the many pavilions, you find small well maintained gardens. After visiting the Taj Mahal we will bring you to show you the Great Agra Fort.
Ranthambore National Park is one of the biggest and most renowned national park in Northern India. Ranthambore national park was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1957 and in 1974 it gained the protection of “Project Tiger”. It got its status of a National Park in 1981. It is also counted as one of the India’s famous heritage site as it consists with pictorial ruins that dot the wildlife park. Everyday there are many tourist go in the Jungle by hiring the Jeep or Canter to see the Tigers, Leopards, Striped Hyenas, Sambar deer, Chital, Nilgai, Common or Hanuman langurs, Macaques, Jackals, Jungle cats, Caracals, Sloth bears, Black bucks, Rufoustailed Hare, Indian Wild Boar, Chinkara, Common Palm Civets or Toddy cat, Common Yellow Bats, Desert Cats, Five striped Palm Squirrels’, Indian False Vampires, Indian Flying Foxes, Indian Foxes, Indian Gerbilles, Indian Mole Rats, Indian Porcupines, Longeared Hedgehogs, Rattles, Small Indian Mongoose, Small Indian Civets and Common mongoose. The Jungle open for tourist every morning and evening for 3 hours to do Wildlife Safari.
Ranthambore Fort lies within the Ranthambore National Park, near the town of Sawai Madhopur, the park being the former hunting grounds of the Maharajahs of Jaipur until the time of India's Independence. It is a formidable fort having been a focal point of the historical developments of Rajasthan. The fort is known for the glory and valor of Hammir dev of the Chauhan dynasty. The Ranthambore fort was built by a Chauhan ruler, although the exact name of the ruler is disputed. A widely held belief states that the fort was built the reign of Sapaldaksha, in 944 CE. Another theory states that the fort was built during the reign of Jayant, in 1110 CE. Lord Ganesha (Elephant God) temple is also center of attraction of the tourists.
Udaipur - Often referred to as the 'Venice of the East', the city of lakes Udaipur is located around azure water lakes and is hemmed in by lush green hills of Aravallis. The famous Lake Palace, located in the middle of Lake Pichola is one of the most beautiful sights of Udaipur. It is also home to Jaisamand Lake, claimed to be the second largest man-made sweet water lake in Asia. The beautiful City Palace and Sajjangarh (Monsoon Palace) add to the architectural beauty and grandeur of the city. The city is also known for its profusion of zinc and marble. Solar observatory in Lake Fateh Sagar is the only observatory in India located on an island and has been made on the pattern of Big Bear Lake in Southern California. The ten-day Shilpgram Festival which starts from 21 Dec to 30 Dec pulls in a large number of people interested in arts and crafts. Udaipur was founded in 1553 by Maharana Udai Singh II as the new capital of Mewar Kingdom. It is located in the fertile, circular Girwa Valley to the southwest of Nagda, which was the first capital of Mewar.
Jodhpur - Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan is popularly known as the Blue City. The name is clearly befitting as most of the architecture – forts, palaces, temples, havelis and even houses are built in vivid shades of blue. The strapping forts that tower this magnificent city sum up to a spectacle you would not want to miss. The mammoth, imposing fortress of Mehrangarh has a landscape dominating a rocky ridge with the eight gates leading out of the fortress. The new city is located outside the structure. Jodhpur is also known for the rare breed of horses known as Marwari or Malani, which are only found here. Jodhpur marks its origin back to the year of 1459 AD. The history of this prosperous city revolves around the Rathore clan. Rao Jodha, the chief of Rathore Clan is credited with the origin of Jodhpur in India. The city is known to be built in place of the ancient capital, Mandore of the state of Manwar. Hence, the people of Jodhpur and surrounding areas are commonly known as Marwaris. Also, it is believed that the relics of Mandore can still be witnessed in the Mandore Gardens.
Jaisalmer - If geology interests you, then Jaisalmer is where you need to journey. The Wood Fossil Park or Aakal is located about 15 kilometres away from the city. Here, one can discover and trace geologic tragedies that occurred in the Thar Desert 180 million years ago. The city of Jaisalmer also acts as the guard to western Rajasthan (and India’s) frontier. This 'Golden City’ is located close to the Pakistan border and in close proximity to the Thar Desert. The city’s most prominent landmark is the Jaisalmer Fort, also called Sonar Qila (Golden Fort). Unlike most other forts in India, Jaisalmer Fort is not just a tourist attraction. It houses shops, hotels and ancient havelis (homes) where generations continue to live. Jaisalmer traces its inception to the 12th century. History tells us of Rawal Jaisal, the eldest heir of the Rawal of Deoraj, was passed over for the throne of Lodurva and a younger half-brother was crowned king. Rawal Jaisal went looking for a new location to set up his capital when he came across sage Eesul. The sage told him about Krishna’s prophecy which said that a descendant of his Yaduvanshi clan would found a new kingdom at this same spot. It was in 1156 that Rawal Jaisal constructed a mud fort, named it Jaisalmer after himself and declared it his capital.
Bikaner - Bikaner is home to one of the only two models of the biplane used by the British during World War I. They were presented by the British to Maharaja Ganga Singh, then ruler of the city. Another unique aspect about Bikaner are the sand dunes that are scattered throughout the district, especially from the north-east down to the southern area. Bikaner is situated in the northern region of Rajasthan. One of the earlier established cities, Bikaner still displays its ancient opulence through palaces and forts, built of red sandstone, that have withstood the passage of time. The city boasts of some of the world’s best riding camels and is aptly nicknamed ‘camel country’. It is also home to one of the world’s largest camel research and breeding farms; as well as being known for having its own unique temple dedicated to Karni Mata at Deshnok, called the Rats Temple. The origins of Bikaner can be traced back to 1488 when a Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji, founded the kingdom. Legend has it that Bikaji, one of Rao Jodhaji’s five sons, left his father’s Durbar in annoyance after an insensitive remark from his father, the illustrious founder of Jodhpur. Bikaji travelled far and when he came upon the wilderness called Jangladesh, he decided to set up his own kingdom and transformed it into an impressive city.
Sightseeing Tour’s on Weekend’s in Jaipur for Volunteers.
On Our Weekend Sightseeing Tour’s you will visit Wind Palace, City Palace, Amber Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Water Palace, Birla Temple, Monkey Temple, MonkeyPalace and Albert Museum. The Sightseeing Tours are arranged according to theduration of your volunteering program. Rajasthan attracts the largest number oftourists every year; 650,000 national and 175,000 international tourists aresaid to visit the state every year. Tourism in the state of Rajasthan isgenerally monument-oriented, particularly in Jaipur.
Wind Palace was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, and designed by Lal Chand in the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. Built of red and pink sandstone, the palace is situated on the main thoroughfare in the heart of Jaipur business centre. Hawa Mahal has 953 small windows called jharokhas. The original intention of the lattice was to allowroyal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen,since they have to be in strict purdah (face cover). Lal Chand was the architect of this unique structure; he also designed the plans for the city of Jaipur, who, at that time, was considered to be one of the best-organized cities in India. Built in red and pink colored sand stone, in keeping with the decor of the other monuments in the city, its color is a full testimony to the epithet of Pink City given to Jaipur. The entry to the Hawa Mahal from the city palace side is through an imperial door. It opens into a large courtyard,which has double store eyed buildings on three sides, with the Hawa Mahal enclosing it on the east side. An archaeological museum is also housed in this courtyard. Hawa Mahal was also known as the chief d curve of Maharaja Jai Singh as it was his favorite resort because of the elegance and built-in interior of the Mahal. The cooling effect in the chambers, provided by the breeze passing through the small windows of the facade, was enhanced by the fountains provided at the center of each of the chambers. The top two floors of the Hawa Mahal are accessed only through ramps. The Mahal is maintained by the archaeological department of the Government of Rajasthan.
City Palace is one the greatest museums in the world. After the city was built, the emperor ordered the building of the City Palace and he used it throughout his rule. Sawai Maharaja Jai Singh, who founded Jaipur and foundation of the City Palace, set apart two out of nine segments in which the city was divided, for the purpose of constructing this beautiful palace. The surface covered by the City Palace is around one seventh of total area of Jaipur. The palace, which was originally used for official purposes,serves today as a museum. The museum was established in the year 1959 by Sawai Man Singh II who wished to safeguard the cultural property he had acquired from his ancestors. Initially, the museum was known as the Maharaja of Jaipur Museum, and it was only in 1970 that it was renamed as Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum. The museum, today attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world. The City Palace is a splendid blend of the Rajasthani and the Mughal styles of architecture. The entire complex is divided into numerous courtyards,gardens and buildings. The Hawa Mahal is also a part of the City Palace complex, though it stands apart from the main complex and has its own distinctive identity. The history of the City Palace is closely linked to Jaipur’s history its rulers, starting with Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II who ruled between 1699-1744. He is credited with initiating construction of the city complex by building the outer wall that spreads over many acres.Initially, he ruled from his capital at Amber, which is situated 11 kilometers(6.8 mi) away from Jaipur. He shifted the capital from Amber to Jaipur in 1727 because of an increase in population and because of the increasing water shortage. His original plan of Jaipur city consisted of six blocks separated by broad avenues, on the classical basis of principals of Vastushastra and other similar classical treatise under the architectural guidance of Vidyadar Bhattacharya, a man who was initially an accounts-clerk in the Amber treasury and who, later, was promoted as the Chief Architect by the King. The City Palace is in the central-northeast part of Jaipur and is laid in a grid pattern with wide avenues. It actually is a unique and arresting complex of several palaces, pavilions, gardens and temples. The most prominent and most visitedstructures in the complex are the Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Mukut Mahal,Maharani’s Palace, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum.
Amber Fort is located in Amber,11 km from Jaipur, in Rajasthan state, India. Amber Fort is known for its unique artistic style, blending both Hindu and Muslim elements; it has a truly breathtaking artistic mastery. The fort borders the Maota Lake, and is a major tourist attraction in Rajasthan . Amber was modified by successive rulers over the course of 150 years, until the Kachwahas shifted their capital to Jaipur during the rule of Sawai Jai SinghII. An interior view of a room in the palace covered in thousands of tiny mirrors. Like the entire fort complex, Amber Fort were also constructed in a unique way. The walls of the fort’s interior are covered with murals, frescoes,and paintings depicting various scenes from daily life. Other walls are covered with intricate carvings, mosaic, and minute mirror work. The pathways are currently used to transport tourists via an elephant ride. Today, tourists can ride elephants to the fort from the base of the hill. On the ride, one can seethe skyline of Jaipur, Maotha lake, and the original city walls. The fort can be toured with a guide or on one’s own. You also have audio guides available in various languages. The sound and light show in the evening is worth the view. One of the most striking parts of the fort is the Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors). Tour guides tell visitors that when the palace was occupied by royalty, the hall could be lit at night by a single candle because of all the tiny, intricate mirrors.
Jaigarh Fort, located around 15 km away from Jaipur, is one of the most spectacular forts in India, with almost all its original facilities intact. While Jaigarh Fort is on the top of the hill, Amber Fort is at the bottom. The forts are connected through well-guarded passages. Many consider the two together as one complex. Jaigarh Fort was a center of artillery production for the Rajputs and it is home to the world’s largest cannon on wheels, the Jaivana. The foundries provide fascinating information for visitors. The manner in which they drew in blasts of air from the desert is very intriguing. A 5 km long canal can be seen entering the fort complex to bring in water from the high hills; it was used to store in water for the military guarding it. A huge water tank is centrally located and is connected to the canal. It is assumed that the kings of Amber/Jaipur used the compartments below the water tank to store the gold and jewelery of the royal family. It is said that this tank was opened during the Emergency declared by the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during 1975-1977. Views of the barren Aravalli Hills gradually disappearing into the desert haze can keep one engrossed for hours.
Nahargarh Fort is a major tourist attraction in Jaipur. The word Nahargarh means the place of tigers. Legends say that it was named after Prince Nahar whose spirit haunted the place and obstructed construction of the fort. It was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II; it is now partially in ruins. There are nine apartments for the nine queens the Maharaja had and all are well planned and nicely decorated. Nahargarh is also known as the hunting residence of Maharajas.
Jal Mahal (Water Palace)is a palace located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur city, the capital of the state of Rajasthan, India. The palace and the lake around it were renovated and enlarged in the 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Amber. The urban lake gets filled up during the rainy season; over the years,after the reservoir became full during the rainy seasons, it got covered with Hyacinth. During this period the red stoned palace became approachable only by boat and through a causeway, and presented a spectacle on the way to Jaipur city from Delhi . The lake was created by constructing a dam across the Darbhawati River, between Khilagarh hills and the hilly areas of Nahargarh, inthe 16th century. The drainage area of the lake is 23.5 square kilometres (9.1sq mi) contributed by an urban area accounting for 50%, hilly terrain accounting for the balance area comprising the degraded Aravalli hills, which have added to the lake’s problems. Rain fall of an average of 657.4 millimetres(25.88 in) per year (90% of this rainfall occurs during the months of June to September) in the catchment contributes to the storage in the reservoir. The forest reserve area of the lake catchment has several wild life species such as the deer, jungle cat, striped hyena, Indian fox, Indian wild boar and leopards.
The place is known as Galta Ji, it also known as Monkey temple in travel literature,due to the large tribe of monkeys who live here. Galtaji is an ancient Hindu pilgrimage site in the town of Khaniya Balaji Indian state of Rajasthan. The site consists of several temples and sacred kunds (water tanks) in which pilgrims bathe. It is believed that Saint Galav spent his life at Galtaji, practiced meditation, and did penance (tapasya). Galtaji has been a retreat for Hindu ascetics since the early 1500s; its present temple was built by Diwan RaoKriparam, a courtier of Sawai Jai Singh II, in the 18th Century. The main temple is the Temple of Galtaji, built in pink stone. The temple features a number of pavilions with rounded roofs, carved pillars, and painted walls. There is another temple in the complex, the temple of Balaji. Yet another notable temple at Galta is Surya Temple; Surya is dedicated to the Sun God and was built in the 18th century.
Touring is flexible,it can be adjusted according to the week program.
TREK | CAMP ADVENTURE HIMALAYA
Looking to join the trekking program in Himalaya. We have one of the trek program which run in Truind Trek which is in Himachal Pradesh, India. Along with this you can do the camp once you reach the trek.
About the Destination: Adorned with the enchanting beauty of Dharamshala, embraced by the fascinating charm of the Dhauladhar Range,Triund trek proves to be a soothing trek in the region. A popular trekking destination in the region, this hill attracts its visitors with all its natural grandeur and appeal. While in Triund, you can easily gape in the astounding Dhauladhar Range on one side and the charismatic Kangra Valley on the other. Night camping at the Triund top will be one of the best camping experiences one will ever have. As you continue your trek you will come across some of the best views of the mountain ranges and the dense forest. Trekking down beside the gushing waters will make your trip more memorable. Dharamshala features the energetic and unmistakable Tibetan culture, and you will be captivated to see the impressive banners and wheels, and the lamas.
Triund trek Highlights:
McLeod Ganj is a village in the suburbs of Dharamshala, in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India. It has an average elevation of 2,082 metres (6,831 feet). It is situated in the lap of Dhauladhar Range, a branch of the southern outer Himalayas. The village is named after Lord David McLeod, the English lieutenant governor of Punjab, who founded it in 1848 as a retreat from the heat of the plains. The suffix Ganj is a common Hindi word for neighbourhood.
Truind Hills are one of the most beautiful as well as most rewarding trekking experience you could ask for. Situated near Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh), Truind is among the most sought out destinations in Himachal for most tourists, including the people from abroad.You can enjoy the marvellous beauty of the snow-cladded Dhaulodhar mountains from close range here. The top of the hill is a safe spot for putting up your tent and night stay. You can be rest assured of the marvellous view of the sunrise and sunset from the top if you are prepared to stay overnight.Climbing a distance of around 12 to 15 kms (3.5-4.5 hours) depending upon the route you take, the trek covers paths filled with flowers as well as scenic himalayan trees.
The Dalai Lama Temple Complex is a beautiful and peaceful place located in Upper Dharamshala, just a short walk away from the Mcleod Ganj Bus Stand. Decorated with the colourful prayer flags, it’s perfect for long serene walks, or early morning meditation with chanting monks.
The Gateway to India—that’s Maharashtra for you. With Mumbai--one of the finest ports of the world as its crowning jewel-- there’s much about the geographical and topographical character of the third largest state in India—after Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan—to command the traveller’s attention. With Madhya Pradesh to the north, Karnataka to the south, Chhattisgarh to the east and Goa to the south west, this western state of India plays host to the Arabian Sea through Mumbai, but is, nevertheless for the most part, a plateau. Predominantly consisting of two major relief divisions, namely the Deccan Tableland and Konkan (coastal) strip, Maharashtra covers an area of 307,713 km2.
A land whose sheer size and diversity will stun you. Enjoy Mountains that stretch out into the mists as far as the eye can see. Her in numerous forts that stand proud and strong. Her scores of temples, sculpted into and out of basalt rock.
Her diverse and colourful cultures, woven into one gigantic quilt. Her festivals that galvanise the sleepy thousands into fervent motion. And her miles of silver, white beaches, stretched taut and inviting over the entire coast. Welcome aboard a travel package that gives you a glimpse into this vibrant and beautiful land.
Welcome to Maharashtra. A land untouched, unsullied, unlimited.
Her diverse and colourful cultures, woven into one gigantic quilt. Her festivals that galvanise the sleepy thousands into fervent motion. And her miles of silver, white beaches, stretched taut and inviting over the entire coast. Welcome aboard a travel package that gives you a glimpse into this vibrant and beautiful land.
Ahmednagar is a place where Mughal-era forts and tombs, shrines of saints, temples of gods, a wildlife sanctuary for blackbucks and a defense establishment come together to give the tourist an experience of a different kind. It is also a city from where you can plan other excursions to make your holiday more enjoyable.
Located 120 kilometers from both Pune and Aurangabad, the town of Ahmednagar was established in 1494 by Ahmad Nizam Shah on the site of a more ancient city, Bhingar. With the break-up of the Bahmani Sultanate, Ahmed set up a new sultanate in Ahmednagar, also known as the Nizam Shahi dynasty. It is no wonder then that you will find here many Mughal-era buildings. The most prominent structure, though, is the Ahmednagar Fort, once considered the second-most impregnable fort in India. It was used by the British rulers to house Jawaharlal Nehru and other Indian nationalists before Independence. A few rooms there have now been converted to a museum. In fact, it was during his confinement here in 1944 that Pandit Nehru wrote the famous book, ‘The Discovery of India’.
Ahmednagar is also home to such important defence units as the Indian Armoured Corps Centre & School (ACC&S), the Mechanised Infantry Regimental Centre (MIRC), the Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (VRDE) and the Controllerate of Quality Assurance Vehicles (CQAV). The training and recruitment for the Indian Army Armoured Corps takes place at the ACC&S.
Among the many Nizam Shahi monuments, Salabat Khan’s tomb is perhaps the most popular but is often mistakenly addressed as Chand Bibi Mahal. Perched on a hill named Shah Dongar, about 10 kilometers outside the city, the open verandahs along this octagonal structure offers fine views of the rolling countryside. Visible from afar, the three floors rise nearly 75 feet high, accessed by narrow staircases squeezed between thick stone walls. Salabat Khan II, a minister with Nizam Murtuza Shah, himself ordered this tomb to be built, where he lies buried in the dim basement next to his first wife.
Another place of tourist interest lies about 3 kilometers southeast of the city centre and rising within a once man-made lake is Faria Bagh, the pleasure palace built by the second Nizam, Burhan Shah. Octagonal in plan, the ruins rise up two floors with a domical roof over the central hall. The remains of the peeling stucco façades are punctured with arched cutouts, creating an intriguing drama of light and shadow within its interiors. In the days of yore, the formidable palace surrounded with a garden laid out in the Charbagh style must have been a prized possession of the Nizams.
The Aga Khan Palace in Pune occupies a prime position in the history of India’s freedom movement for the fact that Mahatma Gandhi, his wife, secretary and others were incarcerated here from 1942. It now serves as the headquarters of the Gandhi National Memorial Society where the making of ‘khadi’ continues to be a prime activity. This imposing palace where one can feel an intense connection with the past is also known for its beautiful and serene gardens.
Covering a sprawling expanse of 19 acres on the Pune-Ahmednagar Road is the palatial Aga Khan Palace. But though it was built as a majestic palace fit for a king to reside, it is known more as the place where the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was incarcerated during the time of British rule. The Aga Khan Palace was built by Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III in 1892 and has become one of the biggest landmarks in Indian history. The palace was an act of charity by the Sultan who wanted to help the poor in the neighboring areas of Pune at a time when they were drastically hit by famine. However, following the declaration of the ‘Quit India’ resolution in 1942, Mahatma Gandhi was interned here along with his wife, Kasturba Gandhi, secretary, Mahadeobhai Desai, as well as Miraben, Pyarelal Nair, Sarojini Naidu and Dr. Sushila Nayar. It was on May 6, 1944 that Mahatma Gandhi was finally set free but not before he had lost his wife and secretary, the grief of which stayed with him for life.
The palace has Italian arches and the building comprises five halls. Now considered a monument of national interest, it was taken over by the Archaeological Society of India (ASI) in 2003 and functions as the headquarters of the Gandhi National Memorial Society. It took five years and an estimated budget of Rs 12 lakhs to complete this palace. The specialty of this structure is its corridor of 2.5 meters around the entire building. Prince Karim Aga Khan donated this palace to the Gandhi Smarak Samittee in 1972. The palace is surrounded on all sides by spacious lawns that are maintained by the Parks & Gardens Organization.
It now serves as an archive of a number of photos and portraits depicting glimpses from the life of Mahatma Gandhi and other personalities of the Indian freedom struggle. One of the most impressive tableaus is that of Mahatma Gandhi leading a protest march against the British. The room housing this also has many photographs of Mahatma Gandhi’s work at the Sewagram, a small village located about 8 kilometers from Wardha in Maharashtra. You can also see the room where Mahatma Gandhi stayed with Kasturba Gandhi. It has been well-preserved with some of the items used by them such as the ‘charkha’, sandals and other personal belongings. Visitors are not allowed into this room and can only see it through a glass-fronted door.
The ‘samadhis’ of Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadeobhai Desai are in a small garden behind the main palace structure. One of the biggest setbacks that Mahatma Gandhi faced was the death of Mahadeobhai on August 15, 1942 due to heart attack just five days after they were brought here. Kasturba, who married Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in 1882, became a political activist fighting for civil rights and Indian independence from the British. She suffered from chronic bronchitis and after two heart attacks died here on February 22, 1944. Some of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes have also been laid to rest here.
Hattikhana or the Bhoocharnath Cave
Hattikhana or the Bhoocharnath cave is a spacious cave carved on the flat plain on the banks of the river Jayanti, about 400 meters on the north-west of the Yogeshwari temple. The main hall – sabhamandapa of the cave is of 90 feet x 45 feet. The stone sculptures of four huge elephants can be seen at the entrance of the main hall, which have earned the hall its name i.e. Hattikhana. In the center of the spacious 30 x 30 feet front yard, we come across a huge sculpture of a Nandi – Lord Shiva's vehicle which wears a necklace made of tinkling bells – ghungrus. An inscription on the rock, cut in the year 1066 was found here. The inscription mentions the name of the Rashtrakuta king Mahamandaleshwar Udayaditya. The inscription mentions the name of the cave as Bhoocharnath, and a donation made towards it.
Another cave, by the name of Jain leni (cave) stands nearby on the other bank of the river, which is also carved on the ground level. Here, at the front of the east-facing main hall stand two huge images of elephants, and inside the 'sabhamandap' we come across an image of Mahaveer.
The beautiful hill-station of Amboli is rightly called the ‘queen’ of Maharashtra; such is its natural splendour. Famous among environmentalists as a precious ecological hotspot, it is cool, calm, serene and enriched with all the treasures that the world of flora and fauna can bestow upon it. Located in the princely state of Sawantwadi, Amboli is located on the ridge of the Western Ghats and is particularly majestic during the monsoon when impromptu waterfalls gush down the hilly terrain.
Located 529 kilometers from Mumbai and well-connected by road, the railway station nearest to it is at Sawantwadi Road on the Konkan railway line while the closest airport is at Dabolim in Goa. Amboli is situated at an altitude of 690 meters above the sea level and its amazing topography comprises dense forest area with a large number of waterfalls which increase in number during the rains. In fact, it is the heavy rainfall of an average of 750 centimeters per year which results in such thick growth of trees and plants along the hillsides. The hill-station was a favourite with the British rulers and it is said that Colonel Westrop was the one who took special efforts in developing this place. Winter is actually the perfect season to visit Amboli and some of the points that are a ‘must see’ include the Nangartas Waterfall, Hiranyakeshi, Sea View Point, and Mahadevgad. Kavlesaad Point is another interesting point from where you can get a view of the Sahyadri ranges.
However, for those who would like to add a little more mysticism to their visit, choose to go during the monsoon season. The entire region gets covered with a dense fog during several times a day. It is then that you can actually experience the power of silence and how nature makes it own music. Meanwhile, don’t forget to stop by at the Hiranyakeshi Mandir. It is from here that the river Hiranyakeshi originates. The approach road is rough but the destination provides a wonderful experience. You would in fact want to spend hours at this calm and peaceful spot. The river ultimately flows through Karnataka where it is known as Ghataprabha. There’s also a small temple dedicated to Parvati.
For lodging MTDC offers a perfect rest house with a facility for meals. There are of course other hotels and restaurants too at Amboli which has emerged as a popular tourist destination over the years. What makes this place special is that it is very rich in flora and fauna and you will in all probability be able to spot wild boars, antelopes, deer, monkeys and bison and maybe a leopard too in case you happen to be at the right spot at the right time. Amboli is also a draw with enthusiastic bird-watchers who come here to glimpse and photograph various species like the Hornbill, Paradise Flycatcher, Drongo, Yellow-Browed Bulbul, Red-Whiskered Bulbul, Crimson-Backed Sunbird, Orange-Headed Ground Thrush, Indian Schimitar Babbler, and a lot more. A huge number of butterflies, frogs and reptiles make the forest their home too. Some of the trees and plants found here include Hirda, Ain, Anjan, Shikekai, Mango, Fern, etc.
Literally meaning 'the city of immortals', Amravati has long had its place of honour in both legend and history. Tradition links it to the abode of the goddess Amba (mother), whose shrine is located here. It was the capital of the legendary Vidarbha Janapada and the name of the capital city, Kundinapura, is still preserved in the form of a place called Kaundinyapur. We turn the spotlight on the long heritage of Amravati and its many tourist attractions.
Kaundinyapur was excavated archaeologically by the state’s Directorate of Archaeology & Museums in the late sixties of the last century, as well as more recently. The results revealed the archaeological importance of the site dating right from the pre-historic period up to late mediaeval times. The Vakatakas ruled over this area between the third to the sixth centuries of the Christian era. Though they followed the Vedic-Puranic religion, they gave equal patronage to other faiths.
One Buddhist vihara and some incomplete rock-hewn caves were carved here during their reign.
The modern-day district of Amravati is rich in flora and fauna thanks due to adequate rainfall and good climatic conditions, and is famous for the launch of Project Tiger in Dharani, Melghat. It also has a tribal belt housing the Korkus. Semadoh, a forest village, 48 kilometres from Achalpur on Dharani Road, is a silent peaceful settlement with a beautiful resort, a museum, a lecture hall and camping hut managed by the Forest Department.
Other places worth a visit are Salbardi and Riddhpur, both in the Morshi taluka, which are places of importance known for their rich historical and cultural background along with a picturesque landscape. Annual fairs are held here which attract a great number of people from in and around the district. A multi-storied construction situated in the midst of a tank on the Dharani route called Satabudaki in the vicinity of village Datura, is another attraction. Also of interest is a sculpture of Karttikeya at Achalpur, as well as several Vaishnava icons in Vadner-Bhujang , a Yadava inscription on the wall that is now illegible, a temple at Lasur, etc.
Globally known as a favourite destination because of its proximity to the Ajanta and Ellora caves, Aurangabad serves as a major tourist hub that offers a wide array of network services to visit some of the most important attractions around it. Also, as a city, Aurangabad fascinates with its culture and lifestyle, offering discerning tourists a wide gamut of hospitality.
Recently declared the ‘Tourism Capital of Maharashtra’, Aurangabad is an important hub in the state’s tourism sector with its close connection to such significant tourist destinations as caves of Ajanta and Ellorawhich have been declared ‘World Heritage Sites’ by UNESCO as well as the famous Mughal monument BibikaMaqbara. One of the fastest growing cities in Maharashtra, it is also emerging as a prime industrial city. The city is linked with Mumbai by air, rail and road and an excellent road network connects Aurangabad with the rest of the state. Apart from Ajanta and Ellora, the city also serves as a transit point for Pitalkhora, Daulatabad, Khultabad, Paithan and Shirdi.
The historical caves of Ajanta are situated at a distance of 6.5 kilometers from Fardapur, a village that is 101 kilometers in the northern direction of Aurangabad and just 55 kilometers from Jalgaon. There is a regular bus service to the caves up to the T-Junction which is 4 kilometers short of the caves. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) offers accommodation in resorts near this junction and semi-luxury and regular accommodation at Fardapur.
There are 30 Buddhist caves at Ajanta out of which five are ‘chaityagrihas’ and the rest ‘viharas’. These caves, dated from 2ndcentury BCE to 6thcentury CE are adorned with beautiful sculptures and paintings. Ajanta is located on an ancient trade route known in historic literature as ‘Dakshinapatha’. Most of the donors at Ajanta, especially of the earlier caves, were traders. The site received support from the mightiest donor during its second phase and that was the royal patronage of the Vakatakas. Ajanta is known for its narrative murals based on Buddhist themes like life scenes from the Buddha, Avadana stories of Bodhisattva, Jataka stories and panels based on Mahayana themes from Vaipulya Sutras.
One of the most fascinating archaeological sites in Maharashtra, Ellora dates back to the Rashtrakuta dynasty, about 1,500 years ago, and is the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 caves are actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the hills of Charanandriand you will find here evidence of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain ‘viharas’ and ‘mathas’ which tell the story of how social and economic order was often represented through religion. The caves of Ellora are located 31 kilometers from Aurangabad. The closest government guesthouse near Ellora is in Khuladabad on the way from Aurangabad.
Another place worth visiting is the Grishneshwar Mandir, about 30 kilometers from Aurangabad. It has one of the 12 ‘jyotirlingas’ of Lord Shiva in India and it is believed that the temple was restored by Chhatrapati Shivaji’s ancestor Malojiraje Bhosle in early 17thcentury. The present temple was built by Ahilyabhai Holkarof Indore in 18thcentury CE. The structure offers a unique example of Bhoomija architecture with influences of Maratha style.
Further, the forts of Daulatabad and Khultabad, 16 and 24 kilometers from Aurangabad, are on the way to Ellora and are popular destinations in this region. The Daulatabad Fort is an impressive monument, founded by the Yadavas of Deogiri in 11thcentury AD. In 1296 AD Alauddin Khilji defeated the Yadavas and when Muhammad-bin-Tughluq succeeded the Khiljis at Delhi, the fort was renamed from Deogiri to Daulatabad. In AD 1328 the capital was shifted from Delhi to Daulatabad. The village of Khultabad is a major centre of Sufism in the Deccan. Shrines of many saints, including Shaikh Burham-ud-din Gharib and Zain-ud-din Chishti, are located here. The modest tomb of Aurangzeb is situated at the southeast corner of the tomb of Zain-ud-din complex.
By population the fifth-largest city in Maharashtra, Aurangabad is named after the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The city is a tourism hub, surrounded by many historical monuments, including the caves of Ajanta and Ellora which are now UNESCO ‘World Heritage Sites’, as well as the famous Bibi ka Maqbara. Interestingly, Aurangabad is titled ‘The City of Gates’ and the strong presence of these can be felt as one drives through it.
Recently declared the ‘Tourism Capital of Maharashtra’, the history of this city with a multi-faceted character can be traced to the ‘Mulaka Janapada’ mentioned in the ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’. It was known as Rajtadag during the Satavahana rule and later as as Khadki or Khidki. After the Satavahanas the region witnessed a succession of powerful dynasties from 3rdto 13th century CE, including the Vakatakas and the Yadavas. With the coming of Allauddin Khilji and the establishment of Bahemani rule, the Deccan region was exposed to new ideas of style and aesthetics in art and architecture.
It became the capital of the Nizamshahi kingdom from Ahmednagar under its prime minister, Malik Amber, who redesigned and laid the foundations of the new town. The city also became the virtual capital of the Mughal Empire after the arrival of Emperor Aurangzeb who developed it as the capital of Deccan Suba, and renamed it Aurangabad. In 1692 he built the magnificent palace Quila-e-Ark and fortifications around the city. After the death of Aurangzeb, his minister, Nizam-ul-Muluk Asaf Jah, added to the beauty of the city by building many palaces, gardens, mosques and canals. In the later period the capital of the dynasty of Nizamshashis was shifted to Hyderabad and the city of Aurangabad lost favour with the ruling elite.
At present the caves of Aurangabad, Bibi ka Maqbara and Panchakki are the main tourist attractions within the city limits. The Aurangabad caves are located on a hill near Bibi ka Maqbara on the outskirts of the city at a distance of just 5 kilometers from the Aurangabad bus stand and 9 kilometers from the railway station. The Panchalkki is a mere 1.5 kilometers from the main bus stand on the way to Bibi ka Maqbara. The caves are open from sunrise to sunset while Bibi-ka Maqbara and Panchakki remain open till 9.30 pm.
The caves are segregated into three groups and belong to the Buddhist faith dated between 3rd to 7th centuries CE. The third group was left unfinished and moreover appears like natural caves and inaccessible. Except for Cave 4 which is a Hinayana ‘chaityagriha’, all the other caves are monasteries and ‘chaityaviharas’ affiliated to Mahayana and Vajrayana faiths. Various sculptures of Buddha, a panel of ‘Hariti-Pancika’, the ‘asamahabhayas’ (eight great perils), a pictorial representation of a group of dancing females in the midst of seated female musicians and a ‘Mahaparinirvana’ panel are worth seeing here.
Bibi ka Maqbara is actually a beautiful mausoleum of Rabia-ul-Daurani, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb. The mausoleum stands in the centre of a rectangular enclosure in the form of a decorated lime-plastered building with minarets. A mosque to the west of the main structure was a later addition by the Nizam of Hyderabad. A marble dome rises above with four minarets at the corner angles. According to the ‘Tawarikh Namah’ of Ghulam Mustafa, the construction cost of the mausoleum was Rs 6,68,203.07 in 1651-1661 CE. Soneri Mahal (golden palace) is situated near Bibi ka Maqbara. It was built during 1651-53 by a Bundelkhandi chief who accompanied Aurangazeb into the Deccan. The palace gets its name from the paintings made in pure gold water which adorn its interiors. At present it houses the office of the State Department of Archaeology and a regional museum housing numerous sculptures and antiques.
Panchakki is popular destination where the water flow pushes large iron blades and stones of a flour mill into motion. An underground tunnel originating in the nearby hills supplies water to the tank and the mosque. There is another underground water supply tunnel known as Thatte Nahar and a tank at a distance of just a five-minute walk Bibi ka Maqbara. The city also gets its imposing presence from the many gates and a fortification wall built by Aurangzeb. The Delhi Gate to the north is a two-storied structure with a pointed arch and two octagonal bastions having an eight-pillared ‘chhatri’ with a domical ceiling terminating in a finial on the top. The Makai Gate located to the west facing towards Mecca is another magnificent example of architecture.
At present Gulmandi, Nirala Bazar and Prozon Mall are the main destinations for shopping and food. The city of Aurangabad offers a wide variety of accommodations from luxury to regular budget hotels. MTDC offers budget accommodation near the railway station. The city is well-connected by air to Delhi and Mumbai, by train to Nanded, Mumbai and Bhusawal and by road to Shirdi and Pune.
Bhambavli Flower Valley (Pushp Pathar) is in the western part of Maharashtra. It is located approximately 30 kms away from Satara city. It is situated high hill plateaus and grasslands turn into a 'valley of flowers' during monsoon season, particularly from August to early October. Bhambavli Plateau has more than 150 or more types of flowers, shrubs and grasses. The plateau is largely formed of basalt. The basalt rock is covered by a thin cover of soil formed due to erosion and has accumulated a layer of not more than an inch or so. The plants growing on Bhambavli plateau are typically of herbaceous nature of like grasses.
Apart from Bhambavli Vajrai Waterfall, a highest waterfall of India, Bhambavli is also admired for its rich flora and fauna. Variety of flora and fauna found in surrounding dense forest and plateau of Bhambavli. The different and rare flowers make this place appear like a wonderland. Karvi, Sonki, Smitia, Balsam, orchids, are some of varieties that blossom in this plateau. The ideal period to visit this place is August and October. Bhambavli Plateau is rich in its Bio-diversity. Many species are observed on plateau which are new to the Botanical Science. Many of the endemic, endangered plants are found on Plateau. This place houses a wide range of birds.
Bhambavli plateau with charming natural flowers will definitely allure you. Bhambavli Flower Valley overlooks the lush green forests of the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve, Koyana Sanctuary, water catchment area of Koyna dam, Urmodi backwaters, Sajjangadh, Kas Flower Valley, Chalkewadi Wind-mills, Vasota Fort, and Confluence of three rivers (Koyana, Solashi and Kandati). Bhambavli plateau is sincerely ideal location for nature lovers and photography aficionados.
It is a perfect weekend destination for all age groups. Just come here, enjoy the nature, have a delicious Maharashtrian food in the Home-stays and most importantly forget everything in the tranquility of this place. While you go back to your places you will carry a hell lot of energy and enthusiasm with you. The 2 days trip will rejuvenate you and will help you reconnect to yourself. So, all are invited, the flower valley is waiting for you.
Nearby other places to visit:
• Bhambavli Vajrai Waterfall- tallest waterfall of India
• Kas Flower Valley in the month of August to September.
• Bamnoli & Tapola – for boating.
• Sajjangadh Fort – Samadhi of Saint Ramdas.
• Thoseghar Waterfall.
• Chalkewadi for Windmills,.
• Mahabaalleshwar – Hill Station
• Pachgani – Hill Station
• Wai – Ganpati
• Gondavale – Samadhi of Saint Gondvalekar Maharaj.
• Koyna-Chandoli Tiger Sanctuary
Precautions to be taken by Tourists while visiting Bhambavli Pushp Pathar (Flower Valley).
• Visit only between 8.00 am to 5.00 pm every day.
• Avoid visiting this place in heavy rains and fog.
• This is plastic free zone; don’t throw plastic bags, water bottles etc.
• Prohibited consumption of Alcohol
• Plateau is slippery in rainy season, be cautious.
• Heavy rains with fog, unable to see stiff clips at Plateau, chances of fall, be cautious.
• Be agile and cautious, as there are chances of encounters with reptiles like snakes, insects. Wild animals like tiger, bear etc.
• Wear appropriate footwear
• Rock faces can get very slippery.
• Streams as well as ponds are quite deep.
• Don’t eat leaves, flowers and fruits, mushroom etc. unless you are sure that they are safe. They could be poisonous.
• Be agile and cautious, as there are chances of encounters with reptiles like snakes, insects. Wild animals like tiger, bear etc.
A pristine natural environment with hills, waterfalls and forests; a wild life sanctuary and an ancient temple! Bhimashankar offers the ideal setting to find spirituality. It is also the perfect place for adventure lovers with a plethora of treks. Moreover this is where you can find the shekru the giant flying squirrel which is also the state animal of Maharashtra.
As you stand at Mumbai’s most well-known spot of tourist interest – the Gateway of India – the most overwhelming desire you will experience is to step into a boat and explore the Arabian Sea. But this need not just be a whim. It can serve a purpose too if you take the ride to visit the Elephanta Island which is just 10 kilometers from Mumbai. Not only is the island host to a bounty of nature in the form of lush plantations of palm, mango and tamarind trees but is also home to ancient cave temples that have been carved out of rock and which have been declared a World Heritage Site.
One of the most fascinating archaeological sites in Maharashtra, Ellora dates back to about 1,500 years ago, and is the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 caves are actually Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religious monuments carved in the rock. They were given the status of World heritage Site in 1983.
Created between the 6th and 10th century, the 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain caves carved in proximity at Ellora are proof of the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history.
A tomb on an island in the middle of the Arabian Sea! Doesn’t that immediately sound enticing enough? But there is more to the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai than just its location. Such is the reverence that this Muslim saint commands that his final resting place draws the faithful from all communities who come here with the firm hope that their prayers will be answered. With a mosque located adjacent to the tomb complex, the edifice is also a brilliant specimen of the Indo-Islamic style of architecture.
Just 200 kilometers from Mumbai is one of the most heavenly places you are likely to find. That’s Harihareshwar for you – a coastal region that is home to a great beach, not to forget that it is also known as ‘Kashi of the South’ for the ancient temple of Lord Shiva. Harihareshwar therefore offers a great combination of natural beauty with spiritual enhancement.
It is to the credit of those who ruled across Maharashtra that they were able to build forts in the most unlikely places, at times on terrains that would have been virtually impossible to reach or navigate. And so while there are many forts atop almost insurmountable hills, one of the most unique is the one at Janjira. This island fort stands on a rocky outcrop near the mouth of the Rajpuri Creek and never once was it conquered by the enemies of those who ruled here because of its location.
The Janjira island fort is a marvel of architectural achievement, situated deep in the sea about 3 km from the coastal town of Murud. Though the Arabian Sea crashes relentlessly all around the fort, its impregnable walls continue to stand strong and tall at 40 feet high, even at full tide. It is spread over 22 acres and has 19 towers and a huge number of turrets, each of which had a cannon installed on it, some of which have remained intact. Originally the fort was a small wooden structure built by a Koli chief in the late 15th century. It was captured by Pir Khan, a general of Nizamshah of Ahmednagar. Later, the fort was strengthened by Malik Ambar, the Abyssinian-origin Siddi regent of Ahmednagar kings. From then onward, the Siddis became independent and the fort continued to be occupied by them, undefeated despite many attacks.
All the rounded bastions of the fort are still intact. There are many cannons of native and European make rusting on the bastions. Now in ruins, the fort in its heyday was a full-fledged living fort with all the necessary facilities, as for example palaces, quarters for officers, mosque, two big fresh water tanks, etc. On the outer wall flanking the main gate, there is a sculpture depicting a tiger-like beast holding four elephants in four legs, one elephant held tightly by his tail and the sixth elephant in the jaws.
To visit Janjira, one has to go to the village of Murud, a taluka of the Raigad district. It is about 50 km south of Alibag and about 150 km from Mumbai via Alibag. From Murud, one has to reach the small village of Rajpuri, located at a distance of about 2 km. Except for the rainy season, regular ferry boats ply from Rajpuri to Janjira and back. Another route is from Dive agar-Srivardhan-Harihareshwar that leads to the Dighi port, which is the access point for the to and fro journey of the island fort.
As you enter the fort, the first thing to see is the Nagarkhana which is right at the top of the gate. There is an Arabic inscription on a marble plaque which provides a clue to the time period i.e. Hijri year 1111 or 1694 CE. After entering the gate, you will see the Pir Panchayatan, a holy shrine. From here one can climb steps that lead to the top of the fortification. There are three huge cannons - Kalal Bangdi, Chavari and Landa Kasam. There are other cannons too, spread over the nine bastions and it is estimated that there are about 80 in all. From here one can see a five-storied building in a dilapidated condition. This was the palace of Nawab Siddi Surul Khan.If one continues towards the north fortification wall, there is a second entrance gate after the ninth bastion, locally called the Chor Darwaza. In the centre of this island fort is a small hill of about 80 meters high. A flight of steps leads to the top from where one can see the ruins of the buildings in the fort. These include two big water tanks and the entire fortification with its bastions and two mosques. Towards the east one can get a picturesque view of the sea coast. Towards the north is another island fort – the Padmadurga or Pradurga, commonly called the Kansa Fort, which was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's.
Caves are not merely the abodes of people living thousands of years ago. The discovery of caves has also led to an understanding of the world as it existed during those times and the cultural, social and religious practices of people that influenced the generations that followed them. Maharashtra has some of the most interesting cave sites in the country and the three that you must definitely visit are located at Bhaja, Bedse and Karla – known for their Buddhist affiliations.
The Bhaja caves are situated about 56 kilometers northwest from Pune on the Pune – Mumbai highway in the Maval taluka of Pune district. There are 25 Buddhist caves at this site. These were excavated from 2nd century BCE to 2nd century CE. There is only one chaityagriha (prayer hall with a stupa inside) and the rest are viharas (residential cave with independent cells within). It is one of the earliest rock-cut chaityagrihas in Maharashtra.
Along with the other caves is a stupa gallery. This is a group of 14 rock-cut stupa sexcavated in the memory of some venerable monks. Some of these stupas bear inscriptions with the names of the monks. There are a few inscriptions in the caves at Bhaja, including a wooden rib in the chaityagriha. The viharas at Bhaja are carved in two levels. There are a few double-storied viharas too. There is only one vihara at Bhaja that has some sculptural decoration. This cave has elaborate narrative sculptures in the verandah, probably depicting a story along with some sculptures of the guardians. There are a few rock-cut tanks at Bhaja. However, there is not a single sculpture of the Buddha at this site, though there are some traces of paintings of the Buddha in the chaityagriha.
Bedse is situated in the Maval taluka of Pune district and is situated about 45 kilometers northwest from Pune. It can be approached by taking a diversion at Kamshet. The caves at this site were excavated during 1st century BCE. There are two finished and two unfinished Buddhist caves at Bedse along with some rock–cut cisterns and a memorial stupa. The chaityagriha is carved with a stone screen and a verandah has tall pillars with beautifully carved images of animals and riders. The vihara at Bedse is unique for its apsidal plan and vaulted roof.
The inscription on the door frame of a cell in the courtyard of the chaityagriha records a donation of a person from Nashik. The cave excavation activity at this site continued till late 1st century CE. There are a few traces of paintings on the pillars of the chaityagriha. The caves at Bedse are considered an important stage in the development of Buddhist cave architecture in India.
Karla is also situated in the Maval taluka of Pune district on the Pune-Mumbai highway and is just 8 kilometers from Bhaja. These caves were excavated from 1st century CE to 5th - 6th centuries CE. Though there are only 15 caves at Karla, it is one of the most famous Buddhist rock-cut cave sites in India. The main chaityagriha, one of the largest in India, is very important from architectural, sculptural and inscriptional points of view. These sculptures can be seen in the verandah as well as on the pillar capitals inside the chaityagriha. Many pillars in the hall bear inscriptions in Brahmi script and Prakrit language, which mention the names of the donors and the places from where they had come. There are also some long inscriptions written by the royal families of the 1st- 2ndcenturies CE. The pillars in the hall have some traces of the paintings belonging to the 5th- 6th centuries CE.
There are a few sculptures in the verandah of the chaityagriha which are believed to be of the donors. Many sculptures of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas were also carved in the verandah after 5th century CE. A shrine of Goddess Ekvira came up in front of the chaityagriha after the caves were deserted. Today this is considered very important and thousands of people visit to pay their reverence to the deity.
Those living in Mumbai or Pune consider it a blessing indeed that they have the twin hill stations of Lonavla and Khandala almost a hop, skip and jump away. Perched high on the hill ranges that separate the two metro cities, both these places are known for their salubrious climate and the beautiful green cover they flourish during the monsoon.
Lonavla is about 64 kilometers away from Pune and 96 kilometers from Mumbai. Well known for its ‘chikki’ and fudge, it is also an important rail head on the Pune-Mumbai railway line and easily connected by road too with an expressway running through it. Like other hill stations in Maharashtra, here too you will find ‘points’ that offer breathtaking sights of the valley and the hills with tiny villages tucked in the folds. One of the best points, about 6.5 kilometers from Lonavla, is Rajmachi Point which commands a view of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s famous fort, Rajmachi, and the surrounding valley.
For picnics, Ryewood Park is the best place in Lonavla. This is an extensive garden that covers a lot of ground and is full of tall trees. There is an old temple dedicated to Shiva in the park. Another hotspot with tourists is the Valvan Dam which has a garden at its foot. The dam supplies water to the Khopoli power station at the foothills of the Sahyadris for generating electricity. You can also visit Duke’s Nose which is about 12 kilometers from Lonavla. This is popular with hikers and the cliff owes its name to the Duke of Wellington, whose ample nose it resembles.
Tiger’s Leap, also known as Tiger’s Point, is a cliff-top with a sheer drop of over 650 meters, giving an extensive view. Buses are available up to INS Shivaji and the remaining distance of about 1.6 kilometers has to be covered on foot. Just around Tiger’s Leap is a small waterfall active only during the monsoon. It serves the purpose of relaxing in the water better than Bhushi Dam as the force of the fall is higher.
Blackbucks have often been in the news. And not just for an often reported criminal case filed against a well-known actor for shooting this rarely sighted animal but also for the many stories of the Bishnois of Rajasthan who go to great lengths to protect them. In Maharashtra, blackbucks can be seen at the Rehekuri Wildlife Sanctuary, a deciduous scrub forest that also provides interesting exploration trails.
Welcome to South India
Like a giant wedge plunging into the ocean, South India is the subcontinent's steamy heartland – a lush contrast to the peaks and plains up north.
A Fabulous Heritage
Wherever you go in the south you'll uncover splendid relics of the many civilisations that have inhabited this land over two millennia. The spectacular rock-cut shrines carved out by Buddhists, Hindus and Jains at Ajanta and Ellora; the palaces, tombs, forts and mosques of Muslim dynasties on the Deccan; Tamil Nadu's inspired Pallava sculptures and towering Chola temples; the magical ruins of the Vijayanagar capital at Hampi…and so much more that you'd need a multitude of incarnations to see it all. It's a diverse cultural treasure trove with few parallels, in the land that also gave birth to yoga.
Thousands of kilometres of cascading coastline frame fertile plains, glinting backwaters and rolling hills in South India – a constantly changing landscape kept glisteningly green by the double-barrelled monsoon. The palm-strung strands and inland waterways of the west give way to spice gardens, emerald tea plantations, tropical forests and cool hill-station retreats in the Western Ghats. The drier Deccan 'plateau' is far from flat, crisscrossed by numerous craggy ranges and often spattered with dramatic, fort-topped outcrops. Across the region, protected wild forests shelter a world of wildlife, from elephants and tigers to monkeys, deer and sloth bears.
South India's glorious culinary variety and melange of dining options are an adventure in their own right. Some of India's most famous and traditional staples hail from here: large papery dosas (savoury crêpes) and fluffy idlis (fermented rice cakes) are the backbone of South Indian cooking. Mouth-watering Mumbai is India’s top destination for gastronomic indulgence, be it hole-in-the-wall street food or haute-cuisine wizardry. Goa's spicy, Portuguese-influenced cuisine is fiery inventive fusion at its finest; Kerala's coconut-infused seafood is the stuff of legend; and, everywhere you travel, the humble South Indian kaapi (filter coffee) keeps things ticking over.
The south's vibrant cities are the pulse of a country that is fast-forwarding through the 21st century while also at times remaining staunchly traditional. From in-yer-face Mumbai and increasingly sophisticated Chennai to historic Hyderabad, IT capital Bengaluru (Bangalore) and charming, colonial-era Kochi (Cochin) and Puducherry (Pondicherry), southern cities are great for browsing teeming markets, soaking up local history and indulging in India's more fashionable side – from arty coffee houses and chic boutiques to an explosion of hipsterised microbreweries and cocktail bars.
The second-most-visited sight in India (after the Taj Mahal), this palace is among the very grandest of India’s royal buildings and was the seat of the Wodeyar maharajas. The original palace was gutted by fire in 1897; today's structure was completed in 1912. The lavish Indo-Saracenic interior – a kaleidoscope of stained glass, mirrors and gaudy colours – is undoubtedly over the top. It's further embellished by carved wooden doors, mosaic floors and a series of paintings depicting life here during the Raj.
English architect Henry Irwin designed the palace and construction cost ₹4.5 million. On the way in you'll pass a fine collection of sculptures and artefacts. Don’t forget to check out the armoury, with an intriguing collection of 700-plus weapons. From 7pm to 8pm every Sunday and national holiday, the palace is illuminated by nearly 100,000 light bulbs that accentuate its majestic profile against the night. Entrance to the grounds is at the South Gate ticket office. While you're allowed to snap the palace’s exterior, photography within is strictly prohibited. Note that many visitors have been unable to download the palace-information app (promoted at the ticket office).
Hyderabad’s principal landmark and city symbol was built by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 to commemorate the founding of Hyderabad and the end of epidemics caused by Golconda’s water shortage. The gargantuan four-column, 56m-high structure has four arches facing the cardinal points, with minarets atop each column (hence the name Charminar, 'four minarets'). It's certainly an impressive sight, though the relentless traffic that swirls around the structure, crowds and queues make it somewhat less rewarding to visit.
The Charminar stands at the heart of Hyderabad's main bazaar area (also known as Charminar), a labyrinth of lanes crowded with shops, stalls, markets and shoppers. You can climb to the 1st floor for a view of the district. The 2nd floor, home to Hyderabad’s oldest mosque, and the upper columns, are not open to the public. The structure is illuminated from 7pm to 9pm.
Hyderabad's most impressive sight, this monumental fort lies on the western edge of town. In the 16th century the Qutb Shahs made Golconda a fortified citadel, built atop a 120m-high granite hill surrounded by mighty ramparts, all ringed by further necklaces of crenellated fortifications, 11km in perimeter. From the summit there are stunning vistas across dusty Deccan foothills and the crumbling outer ramparts, over the domed tombs of Qutb Shahs, past distant shanty towns to the horizon haze of the inner city.
By the time of the Qutb Shahs, Golconda Fort had already existed for at least three centuries under the Kakatiyas and Bahmani sultanate, and was already famed for its diamonds, which were mostly mined in the Krishna River valley, but cut and traded here. The Qutb Shahs moved to their new city of Hyderabad in 1591, but maintained Golconda as a citadel until the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb took it in 1687 after a year-long siege, ending Qutb Shahi rule.
Golconda's massive gates were studded with iron spikes to obstruct war elephants. Within the fort, a series of concealed glazed earthenware pipes ensured a reliable water supply, while the ingenious acoustics guaranteed that even the smallest sound from the entrance would echo across the fort complex.
Allow at least a couple of hours to explore the site. Guides charge around ₹600 per 90-minute tour. Small ₹20 guide booklets are also available. Inside the citadel gate, an anticlockwise circuit leads through gardens and up past mostly minor buildings to the top of the hill, where you'll find the functioning Hindu Jagadamba Mahakali Temple and the three-storey durbar hall, with fine panoramas. You then descend to the old palace buildings in the southeastern part of the fort and return to the entrance, passing the elegant three-arched Taramati Mosque.
Golconda is about 10km west from Abids or Charminar: an Uber cab or auto is around ₹270 one way. Buses 65G and 66G run from Charminar to Golconda via GPO Abids hourly; the journey takes about an hour.
Elephants, waterfall rappelling, ultralight flying!
Widely known for being the “Scotland of the South”, Coorg is an enchanting hill station located not so far from Bangalore. The view of the grey clouds subtly blending with the greenery of the hills is a sight worth seeing. Ever tried waterfall rappelling? If not, now is the time! An exciting challenge to overcome, with the water flowing down with force, in a moist climate, hear your heartbeat in your ears. Over the sound of the waterfall. There is no better place for this than Coorg, which easily makes it to the list of best places to visit in South India.
Located amidst imposing mountains in Karnataka with a perpetually misty landscape, Coorg is the place to be for all nature lovers. This popular coffee producing hill station is not only popular for its beautiful green hills and the streams cutting right through them. It also stands as a popular destination because of its culture and people. The Kodavas, a local clan specialising in martial arts, are especially notable for their keen hospitality.
Coorg, officially known as Kodagu, is the most affluent hill station in Karnataka. It is well known for its breathtakingly exotic scenery and lush greenery. Forest covered hills, spice and coffee plantations only add to the landscape. Madikeri is the region's centre point with all transportation for getting around starting from here. On a visit to Coorg, cover the beautiful towns like Virajpet, Kushalnagar, Gonikoppal, Pollibetta, and Somwarpet, and experience the beautiful concept of "homestays" to make your experience more memorable!
Lose yourself in the mesmerising beauty of the rolling hills shrouded in the alluring mist and dense forest of Kodaikanal. Dubbed the Princess of Hill stations, Kodaikanal ranks high on the list of hill stations in the country thanks to the abundance of natural beauty, be it the waterfalls, the lakes, the lush greenery or the magnificent view of the Palani hills. Enjoy the eternally pleasant weather of the area as you trek to Green Valley View or Dolphin’s nose, where you can admire the scenic panoramas of this natural wonderland, or immerse yourself in the serenity of Kodai Lake or Berjarim Lake.
Located in the state of Tamil Nadu, Kodaikanal is one of the most famous honeymoon destinations in India. When you think of Kodaikanal, you think of a wonderful climate, cliffs covered in mist, cloud-capped mountains and beautiful lakes and valleys, and once you visit this hill station, you will find that every bit of what you have imagined it to be is true. Nestled amidst the rolling slopes of the Palani Hills in Tamil Nadu, Kodaikanal stands at an altitude of 7200 feet above sea level and has a cool, pleasant climate all year round. Kodaikanal means the gift of the forests.
Famously known as the Princess of Hill Stations, Kodaikanal offers the perfect mix of culture and nature to tourists, and its perfectly manicured slopes, scenic waterfalls, rolling hills and clear lakes all come together to create the perfect setting for an ideal mountain getaway. Kodaikanal is a place you can go to take a break from the rigours of daily city life, and this hill station lets you sit back and connect with nature as you head out on biking or trekking trails or take a stroll through the huge forests surrounding the town.
A picturesque plateau nestled in the hills of the Western Ghats, Wayanad is one of the prettiest areas of the attractive state of Kerala. Part of the massive Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, this charming town is loaded with enchanting waterfalls, historical caves, vast spice plantations and exotic wildlife, making it a must visit for anyone looking to explore the untouched beauty of the enchanted Western Ghats.
Replete with waterfalls, historical caves, comfortable resorts and homestays, Wayanad in Kerala is famous for its spice plantations and wildlife. Walking through the sprawling spice plantations, trekking to the pre-historic caves and experiencing a resort holiday are one of the many things you can do to get a taste of Wayanad.
Wayanad is best known for the wildlife reserves - Wayanad wildlife reserve which is home to an exquisite variety of flora and fauna. Wayanad wildlife reserve is an integral part of the Nilgiri biosphere reserve peacefully located amidst the serene hills of Western Ghats. Wayanad homes a wide variety of wildlife like elephants, leopards, and bears. Wayanad is a perfect weekend idea from the cities of South India. If taking a road trip from Bangalore, you will drive through three national parks: Nagarhole, Bandipur and Mudumalai.
Scuba diving and Snorkelling
At the shoestring budget of a student, get the best snorkelling and scuba diving experience on these groups of islands that house large varieties of marine life that will brush by your ears while you stay amazed at how blue the water is. Experience the wonders of the aquatic world in their pristine form. If you thought the best beaches in India were in Goa, check Andaman and Nicobar out! You will be simply amazed to see the clear azure waters and the white sandy shores of the Andaman beaches. Snorkelling and scuba diving in this place would be an experience of a lifetime.
Replete with picturesque shimmering beaches, lagoons of turquoise blue waters and a bit of history, Andaman & Nicobar Islands is a little slice of paradise tucked around 1,400 km away from the east coast of India. The union territory comprises a total of 572 islands, only 37 of which are inhabited and a few are open to the tourists.
Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, is the gateway to the archipelago and is connected with various islands via multiple daily ferries. Havelock and Neil Island are some of the most famous islands among tourists and is known for pearly white sands, palm-lined shores and offer some of the best snorkelling and diving options in India.
Once known for its Cellular Jail- ‘Kaala Paani’ in Port Blair which primarily imprisoned the freedom fighters who were exiled from the mainland of India during the British Era, the graph of the Andaman and Nicobar islands have lately changed drastically and it is now known for its flourishing tourism industry which especially attracts honeymooners, families and adventure enthusiasts.
You can either laze around on the sandy shores and enjoy the mesmerising sunsets or try your hand at scuba diving and explore the vibrant coral reefs. Besides, it also has virgin immaculate backwaters for those seeking solitude and ataraxy.
Havelock Island is one of the largest and the most popular attraction of all of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Blessed with pristine beaches and coconut groves, this one offers myriad adventure sports opportunities to its guests. From snorkelling to parasailing, scuba diving and kayaking etc., there is no dearth of thrilling activities here, for that much-needed adrenaline rush, on an otherwise tranquil leisure vacay.
In addition to this, you can visit the bustling city of Port Blair to get a glimpse of the local lifestyle. Steeped in colonial history and boasting of striking architectural monuments, you can also browse the local markets and savour the traditional cuisine.
Known as the “Venice of the East”, Alleppey with its backwaters and floating houseboats, is one of the most beautiful places to visit in South India. The backwaters of Kerala are a breathtaking sight, particularly at the break of dawn. Surf on its gentle waters, or live in one of the houseboats. Or maybe just let the hammocks tied to the coconut trees cradle you to sleep. This is one of the most soothing places to visit in South India and a perfect way to round up your trip.
Officially called Alappuzha, Alleppey is a city in the South Indian state of Kerala. Bordering the Laccadive Sea, it is known for its wide network of interlinking, palm-fringed canals called backwaters and rejuvenating Ayurvedic resorts.
Allepey is also popular for its Houseboat cruises that pass through the serene backwaters, where you can catch glimpses of green paddy fields, choir making activities, beautiful avifauna and witness the life of locals in Kerala. Towards the shore lies the Alleppey beach in the Arabian Sea, a beautiful example of the gems you’d find along the Malabar Coast. The appeal of this beach is only amplified by the history attached to it, and a walk down the 137-year old pier is a must. Be sure to catch a traditional snake boat race in the months of August and September and try out some toddy (palm wine) at a local toddy shop for adding a touch of authenticity to your travel experience in Allepey.
Get lost in the majestic ruins!
Hampi is one of those laid-back places with grandiose historical beauty that transports you back in time. A must visit place in South India, this places offer a wide range of activities as well. Once a part of the ancient south Indian kingdom of Vijayanagar, it’s a UNESCO World heritage site and also a very important historical and religious centre. The Virupaksha temple is an important temple which is visited by Hindus from all over the country. So jump over the ruins, take crazy pictures, read up on them or just feel the magnitude of the kingdom that once existed here. It’s truly magical.
Hampi, the city of ruins, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in the shadowed depth of hills and valleys in the state of Karnataka, this place is a historical delight for travellers. Surrounded by 500 ancient monuments, beautiful temples, bustling street markets, bastions, treasury building and captivating remains of Vijayanagar Empire, Hampi is a backpacker's delight. Hampi is an open museum with 100+ locations to explore and a favourite way to see the city from the perspective of its history.
Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagar empire around 1500 AD, and by some accounts, the second largest city in the world at that time. Over the next centuries it fell out of importance, and now you can explore the ruins of a lot of temples and other structures spread out over a vast area. The terrain around Hampi is as mysterious as the ruins itself - the city is surrounded by boulders of different sizes, and you can climb to the top of them with a little effort to get a stunning view of the entire city and the geography. It is located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. Famous for its massive, beautifully carved temples, especially the Virupaksha Temple, dedicated to the patron deity of the empire. You can also find remains of the old aqueducts, canals and military barracks and stables here. Hampi was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986 and many efforts have been taken to restore the lost glory of the place - very limited (if any) modern establishments are allowed in the main area, which gives an authentic feel to the ruins.
Enjoy French Architecture
A world away from where you are, Pondicherry welcomes you to a totally different atmosphere, with its colourfully painted houses in French architecture and relaxed attitude. Something that you breathe in and absorb. Also known as Puducherry, it makes for a great backpacking haunt. It is a popular tourist destination in South India owing to its colonial-era buildings, churches and temples, and of course, the famous beaches. It is also one of the few places to visit in South India which is preferred by mainstream and offbeat travellers alike.
Pondicherry, officially known as Puducherry, and commonly referred to as just Pondy, is one of the seven Union Territories of India. This former French colony is a perfect amalgamation of the traditional Indian sensibilities and French architecture, making it a dreamy escape that offers the best of both worlds.
The streets of the French Quarter of Pondicherry, also known as White Town, are dotted with charming mustard-yellow colonial structures with bougainvillaea laden walls. These are interspersed with cosy cafes and chic boutiques that offer delectable French cuisine and beverages. Simply strolling down these streets, can give the traveller an insight into the fairytale charm of Pondicherry.
Come explore the boulevards and rues (the French word for streets) of the Pondicherry that will ultimately take you down to the gorgeous seaside promenade, where the Bay of Bengal playfully splashes the shores of the famous Rock beach.
Topped with authentic French bakeries, bohemian stores and cobble-stoned paths that are delightful for a leisurely stroll or bicycle ride, Pondicherry has a lot to offer. So head on down to this dream town of the Indian Coast and chug a few beers (at the Union Territory prices; bid adieu to state taxes) or just read a book in one of the quaint cafes.
Roam amidst the tea gardens!
Located in God’s own country – Kerala, Munnar is undoubtedly the most romantic hill station in South India. A great place to drive to, you know you’ve reached Munnar when you smell tea in the air. It’s literally everywhere, and you will go back smelling like a teabag. The entire area is a collection of small hillocks that are trek friendly, with lakes, and water falls and large expanses of dense, green forests maintained by the forest department. The green countryside is bound to take your breath away. Have a look at the sandalwood forest as well while you are touring this place in South India.
The idyllic hill station Munnar - famous for its tea estates, exotic lush greenery and craggy peaks, is located in the Western Ghats, in the state of Kerala. It serves as the commercial centre for some of the world’s largest tea estates. In addition, Munnar has many protected areas which are home to endemic and highly endangered species like the Nilgiri Thar and the Neelakurinji.
One of the biggest tea-plantation area of South India, Munnar is one of the most beautiful and popular hill-stations of Kerala. Situated on the banks of three rivers- Madupetti, Nallathanni and Periavaru, Munnar is also blessed with natural view-points apart from the tea-plantations. Munnar is divided into Old Munnar, where the tourist information office is, and Munnar, where the bus station and most guest houses are located. The Eravikulam National Park, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary and tea plantations are its major attractions.
The name says it all, you know what’s coming. Take the toy train from Mettupalayam, go boating, and breathe in the Nilgiri hills after climbing up the Dodabetta peak. No matter how many times you go to Ooty, it never fails to amaze you. This charming place in South India is a complete package to delight your senses. Also, having a romantic ambience, it’s one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in South India. Honeymooners from all over the country visit this lovely place throughout the year. There are several things to do here as well, such as trekking and angling. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the tea gardens.
The Blue Mountains have always been shrouded in mysticism, and Ooty is no exception to that. For every mountain lover, the very idea of travelling to the city known as the Queen of the Hills holds an allure like no other. Once regarded as the summer headquarters of the East India Company (and for a very good reason), Ooty, also known as Udagamandalam, is a hill station in Tamil Nadu which serves as a very popular tourist destination for anyone looking for a picturesque place to relax and unwind. Ooty is nestled amidst the Nilgiri hills at an altitude of 2,240 meters above sea level and enjoys a favourable climate all year round.
Ooty oozes simplicity, devoid of any boundaries, so anyone who visits the place can feel at one with the local culture. The journey to Ooty itself is dotted with magnificent sights of the awe-inspiring Nilgiri hills, tea gardens, and serene waterfalls. The cool, peaceful landscape of Ooty is almost movie-like – winding country lanes that you can spend hours simply walking on, and the charm of old-world colonial architecture infuses fresh air into the souls of travellers. For anyone looking for a respite from the mind-boggling humidity and the scorching Indian sun, Ooty is the place to be.
Ooty is a very popular destination for couples and honeymooners, and there's no better way to fully take in all that this city has to offer than to take a trip on the Toy Train, which lets you enjoy panoramic views of this beautiful hill station right from your seat. The Nilgiri Mountain Railways has the steepest track in all of Asia, and it is one of the best train rides you will ever have the chance of experiencing. Remember the hit song 'Chaiyya Chaiyya' where Shahrukh Khan and Malaika Arora were seen matching steps on top of a train? Remember the breathtaking locales as the train chugged its way across lush greenery? Yes, that was the Nilgiri Mountain Railways, and the Nilgiri Mountains all along.
Soak up the deep culture and complex history of ancient Pallavas on the coastal town of Mahabalipuram, home to a large number of intricately patterned rock-cut monuments and temples. This resort town lies on a strip of land between the Great Salt Lake and the Bay of Bengal and is designated as world heritage site by UNESCO due to the multitude of the timeless wonders left behind by the past civilisations that once inhabited this spot.
Famous for its intricately carved temples and rock-cut caves, Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram as it is famously known, is a historically important and well-loved tourist location situated on the Coromandel Coast along the Bay of Bengal, in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Once the abode of the famous demon king Mahabali, Mahabalipuram was later renamed Mamallapuram. The serenity, the alluring atmosphere and the impressive setting with many beautiful white sandy beaches dotted with casuarina trees are all reasons as to why one would want to visit this wonderful town.
Some famous tourist spots include the UNESCO world heritage site Group of Monuments like the Shore Temple and the Five Rathas, the Crocodile Bank which is home to some exquisite species of crocodiles and alligators, and the beach resorts in Kovalam and Sadras.
Harmony Of Mind, Body And Soul
Searching for a leisure-cum-health tour? Visit the wonderland of India where health and medical tourism is on a high. Ayurveda and Spa tourism is one of the fastest growing segments today in India. India the country of rich cultural heritage that offers the best in Spa and Ayurveda therapies. The extensive and well-crafted out Spa and Ayurveda packages are best suited to rejuvenate your body, mind and soul. Plan a tour to India and experience the curative power of nature packed in the lavish greenery and vast space of the picturesque landscapes.
Visit any of the Spa and Ayurveda Resorts in India, and you will be offered a wide array of programmes based on the Vedic Science 'Ayurveda' including spa packages, body scrubs, massages, facials, body wraps, hydrotherapy and Ayurveda packages.
The word Ayurveda is derived from its ancient Sanskrit roots- 'Ayus' (life) and 'Veda' (knowledge). It offers a rich and comprehensive outlook to a healthy life. This art of healing is believed to be originated about 5000 years back.
The current lifestyle of modern man has led to many health hazards. The basis of Ayurveda treatment is a process of purification and rejuvenation. According to the Vedas, our weak digestion, poor diet, incomplete elimination of waste matter, inadequate sleep, pollution and stress collectively lead to the accumulation of 'Ama' or toxic substances in the body. This further leads to the Tri Dosha (vata, pitta and kapha) and the build up of toxins, which can lead to ill-health. Ayurveda is a complete natural healing system that helps in achieving the right balance of vata, pitta and kapha for a healthy life.
There are a number of Spa and Ayurveda Resorts in India that offer various spa packages, massages, hydrotherapy, Ayurveda therapies, body composition analysis, personal fitness training, physiotherapy, gymnasium with state-of-the-art equipment, exercise studio for all aerobic and workout programs, and an outdoor pool for activities like volleyball and aqua aerobics.
Ayurveda is believed as the oldest treatment in the world. Completely based on the natural elements (medicinal plants, herbs, milk, medicated oils, herbal powders, curd etc.), this process of healing has no side effects.
The basic 8-fold process has the following therapies:
Panchakarma: A five-fold purification therapy that creates balance between Doshas or bio energies (Vata, Pitta and Kapha). Panchakarma therapy has three main stages: Poorvakarma, Pradhanakarma and Paschatkarma.
Abhyanga: It is a synchronized full body massage, which is performed by two therapists. It is done with specific herbal oils prescribed according to the body type. Abhyanga is helpful in improving eyesight, promoting sleep and providing a glow to the skin.
Udwarthana: It is a dry massage process with the use of herbal powders. It is a wonderful therapy to reduce fat.
Choornaswedan: This vigorous massage is performed with a cloth bundle, which is filled with herbal powders. It is very helpful in curing neurological disorders, rheumatism, arthritis and sports injuries.
Njavarakizhi: It is again a massage therapy done with small linen bags that are filled with cooked Njavara rice. This is a complete rejuvenation therapy for your mind and body.
Kaval: It is a process of gargling with medicated oil. Is highly beneficial for ear, nose, throat disorders. It also improves the voice and brings a glow to the face.
Vamana: It is a therapy of administering herbal decoction to induce therapeutic vomiting. The process is helpful in curing Kapha imbalances such as asthma, cough, psoriasis and other skin disorders.
Virechana: It is performed with Virechak Aushdhi, a purgative, in milk or warm water. It removes excess Pitta in the body and helps treat dermatitis, chronic fever, heartburn and jaundice.
Kerala is considered the capital of Ayurveda. This land is blessed with equable climate, natural abundance of forests (with a wealth of herbs and medicinal plants) and the cool monsoon season (June-November). All these factors are best suited for Ayurveda's curative and restorative packages. Kerala boasts of being the only state in India, which practices this system of medicine with absolute dedication. Apart from Kerala, a few other places where Ayurveda is practiced are Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab and Goa etc.
Got questions? Below are a list of our most frequently asked questions, but if you don’t find what you’re looking for, feel free to get in touch!
This depends on the project you chose. In most of the projects, volunteers stay in a volunteer house or at host family accommodations. For certain projects, volunteers might have to stay at the placement site.
No matter where you stay, we'll ensure that you have all the basic necessities
Our in-country coordinator will be there at the airport to receive you, with a placard having your name written on it. He/ She will accompany you and take you to your accommodation. You will also be given an orientation about the place and transportation facilities.
Yes, you will have the weekends free and you can do sightseeing as well as explore the most popular places of tourist interest in the country where you will be volunteering. Our local coordinators are always available to arrange any local trips. On the weekdays, volunteers and interns are free during the evenings to explore the local markets. We also have planned tours, about which you can contact us.
Meals are provided 2-3 times a day, as mentioned in your program itinerary. Mainly, the local cuisine will be served, and it's absolutely healthy. Both veg and non-veg food options are available, and if you have any specific preference, you can mention it in your application.
While most of the accommodations do have internet facilities, we cannot assure you about getting WiFi. However, there shall be internet cafes near your accommodation. 99% we guarantee for the WiFi in the accommodation. In very rare cases you will have to use internet cafe.
We usually accommodate rooms on same gender sharing basis. However, if you inform us about getting a single room and there's availability in the destination you choose, we shall be glad to offer you a private room. However, we cannot give assurance in this respect.
Parents are always concerned about their kids and if the matter is related to traveling to a country abroad, then the botheration escalates to a different level altogether.
Every year, the number of volunteers getting associated with us keeps increasing. About 20% (approx) of our volunteers are in the age group of 17 - 18 years, and it is quite obvious on the part of the parents to get anxious when their children decide to travel alone.
Volunteering Solutions understands the concern of the parents and acts in a way to ensure that every volunteer returns home safely after completion of their journey.
Keeping in mind the safety of our volunteers, all our projects at each location are carefully picked. Our staff visits the new site and approves it before we include it in our program list. We choose the host families very carefully, and make sure that they are warm and considerate while hosting travellers from a different country. At some of the locations where we have volunteer’s house, security arrangements are in place. Our local country coordinators constantly monitor the host families, volunteer’s house and the volunteers working at the placement locations.
Accommodation, meals and transport
The fees paid by the volunteers include their accommodation and meals (as mentioned in the program schedule). We make sure to provide comfortable housing facilities for our volunteers, and serve them with hot and healthy meals. Volunteers who are vegetarians or have any special dietary requirements can inform us while applying and we shall separately take care of their meals.
During the orientation, volunteers would be given a brief about the location, the native people and their customs, and also the mode of transportation to the placement location. The in-country coordinator would also guide the volunteers to the placement location on the first day of work.
24*7 Emergency Support
We have a dedicated team of in-country coordinators, who whole-heartedly work for the well-being of the volunteers. In case of any emergency, volunteers can get in touch with them, and seek assistance. Volunteers are provided with all necessary contact numbers once they arrive at their destination.
We also provide the phone numbers for all host families to the volunteers before departure so that parents can have those details if they require.
Check the pre-departure booklet
Once a volunteer completes the application procedure, we provide them with a pre-departure booklet which consists of all necessary informations related to the destination, project and other FAQs. We request the concerned parents to take a look at the pre-departure booklet thoroughly, as that would answer a lot of questions which might be bothersome.
Arrange for a Skype meeting with the Saviour Professionals' Team
If you are still worried about your kid’s travel plans, we can arrange for a Skype meeting with our efficient team members. You can shoot any question that is bothering you, and we shall try our best to comfort you.
For any further assistance, or queries related to your kid’s safety - you can always get in touch with us. Please write to us at email@example.com
This is an obvious question, and almost every person who decides to travel abroad to volunteer faces the trouble of choosing one organization through which they can fulfill their dreams.
Being in the field for a decade, Saviour Professionals is definitely the best option to choose for your volunteer travel experience. But if you still need the reasons to convince yourself, then we shall try to explain why we are better than any other volunteer placement organization.
Flexibility Regarding the Choice of Programs
The volunteer’s choice is the ultimate, and we try to mould our program plans as per the preference. Volunteers can choose their travel dates, and have the full freedom to change the dates (but in that case, we have to be informed beforehand). Couples and families traveling together to volunteer are accommodated in the same place, and it is ensured that their working hours also get synchronized.
Easily Affordable Costs
Our programs starts for a cost of €100/Week which includes all the basic benefits that are required. Since most of our volunteers are teenagers (students from high schools, colleges) and youth travellers, we have tried to keep the cost as low as possible. The money you pay includes everything from airport pickup at your placement destination, accommodation (on a sharing basis) and meals.
Safety and Security of the Volunteers
We ensure that all our volunteers are safe and secure in the destination they travel to. Saviour Professionals has safe volunteer houses, dedicated coordinators, tie-up with recognized NGOs and social welfare organizations. We keep our international volunteers updated with every necessary information, and also guide them to have a hassle free travel experience.
24*7 Support by the Team
We have dedicated coordinators in each of our destination, who try their best to guide and help the volunteers in every possible way, in order to make the journey smooth and memorable. We stay connected with our volunteers through emails, social media, volunteer community, phones etc. So, right from choosing your volunteer program to landing at the volunteer destination till leaving the place after the bout - we take care of you throughout your journey.
An Absolute Altruistic Approach
The ultimate goal of the entire journey is to contribute something towards the society, and to ensure a better life for the underprivileged. Saviour Professionals aims to bridge the gap with the help of the participating volunteers. The skills and knowledge of the volunteers help the host communities to move towards sustainable development, and feel connected to the world at large. A certain portion of the money paid by the volunteers goes directly to the host communities.
Networking with People from all over the World
We have volunteers from different parts of the world, going to several new destinations. Being a Saviour Professionals' volunteer, you’ll not only get to closely connect with the locals of your placement destination, but also make friends with like-minded people from other countries and know more about different cultures and customs. Saviour Professionals provides excellent networking and connecting opportunities to its volunteers.
Discounts and Gifts to Returning Volunteers
We have fantastic offers for our volunteers, and we love to have them back with us. Anyone who chooses to volunteer with us for the second time, gets a discount on the program fees. Apart from that, if a volunteer wants to go for two or more programs at one particular destination, he/she would just have to pay the application fee once.
An Experience of a Lifetime
Every journey turns into a memorable experience, and every person we meet on the way adds something to our journey. Whenever we return back, we are never the same person who left from home. Saviour Professionals would make sure that your journey abroad turns out to be one of the best chapters of your life.
Because many have chosen us in the past
We have had more than 11K volunteers in the past, and they have had incredible experiences during their volunteer trip abroad. Many of them joined us for different programs, and successfully completed each of the projects with similar patience and perseverance.
The thought of paying a certain amount in order to volunteer abroad would strike anyone. However, if one digs into the matter, he/she will easily understand why it is necessary to pay. A volunteer trip has several costs associated with it - which the concerned organization has to effectively manage.
Saviour Professionals is not supported by any government funding and runs entirely from the fee that volunteers pay to take part in the volunteering programs.
The money paid by the volunteers include everything starting from their airport pickup, transport, accommodation, meals and other inclusions as mentioned in the program details. A certain amount from that cost is spent on the project development and also to cover the administrative costs.