Tuesday, 3 May 2016


Jaipur, the capital of India's desert state Rajasthan is known as the Pink City due to the warm terracotta colour of the buildings within the Old City walls.  When you first enter the old town through one of the entrance gates its like you are being transported back in time.  The gates themselves are very grand and the wide streets behind are lined by shops selling everything you could possibly imagine from souvenirs and spices to home-wares, padlocks and steel pans.

Old City
Old City Entrance Gate

The Hawa mahal is one of the most iconic sights of Jaipur with its 953 lattice screened windows looking out on the city life below.  It's hard to believe that a building with such impressive architecture is only a facade with no building behind it.  However it did have an important job being built to allow the ladies of the royal court to keep watch over the city whilst remaining hidden from public view.

Jantar Mantar is one of the best observatories in India and is well worth a visit even for those who are not very scientifically minded.  The many different instruments are fascinating and although it may be difficult to understand how they all work you can still admire the skill and craftsmanship used to make the instruments from marble and brass.  The largest sundial in the observatory has made it into the Guinness book of records and tells the time today with remarkable accuracy.

Hawa Mahal
Jantar Mantar
 No trip to Jaipur would be complete without a visit to the city palace with its magnificent architecture and detailed decoration.  The palace gives a glimpse into how the Jaipur royal family once lived with the opulent interiors and grand halls.  The family of the current maharaja still live in parts of the palace and it really grips the imagination. 

City Palace
City Palace

Amer fort is another must see sight situated just outside Jaipur in the mountains.  The fort is a glorious yellow colour and the winding pathway up to the entrance gate reminds you of a fairy tale castle.  From the fort you get a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and countryside and also of the perfectly maintained palace gardens which look like they are floating in the lake below.  One of the best parts of the fort is the ladies quarters where although empty now you can easily imagine a time when it was full of life with the sounds of people talking, music playing and fabrics blowing gently in the breeze.

Amer Fort

Amer Fort

Amer Fort Garden

Jaipur is a beautiful friendly city with so many sights to offer visitors.  The warm terracotta of the old city make the place look as though it is always warm and sunny and the architecture palace and fort transport you back to another time.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Exploring Orcha and Khajuraho

Having recently visited the towns of Orcha and Khajuraho I wanted to share this article exploring these fascinating destinations which both feature in our Ancient India in Style tour itinerary.

Both Orcha and Khajuraho are small towns with a wealth of stunning architecture to offer.  Situated in the Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh these two towns lie at the very heart of India.

On arrival in Orcha you can immediately see the palace and temples and due to the size of the town everything is easily accessible on foot.  The palace complex is split into three comprising Jehangir Mahal, Maharana Mahal and a third palace now converted into a hotel.  Jehangir Mahal is a beautiful palace offering stunning views of the Betwa river and surrounding countryside.  The building has a mix of Hindu and Mughal architecture which can still be seen by the green and blue tiles and painting.  In the centre of the main courtyard is a tub for bathing surrounded by four heated water tanks making it a very early example of a hot tub.

Jehangir Mahal

Maharana Mahal is situated slightly lower on the hill and one of its most impressive features is the Maharana chambers with a number of original fresco paintings which are surprisingly well preserved due to the lack of natural light in the room.  Built on the same level of ground as the Chaturbhuj temple it is possible to see straight into the temple from the maharanas bedroom window, allowing him to worship without ever leaving the Palace.

The temples of Orcha are also well worth a visit.  The Laxmi temple situated on a hill contains further fresco paintings as well as a number of etchings depicting scenes from the Ramayana.  The Chaturbhuj temple is a large building showing a fusion of Hindu, Mughal and Christian architecture.  The Rama temple at the centre of the town was originally the maharanis palace which can clearly be seen from the beautiful inner courtyard.  This is the only temple in India where lord Rama is worshipped as a king.  The best time to visit the temple is in time for the evening prayer ceremony where the inner doors are opened to reveal lord Rama inside.

Chaturbhuj Temple

Orcha is also famous for its cenotaphs built for the ruling maharanas.  In total there are 15 cenotaphs all of different sizes depending on the length of the maharanas reign.  The best place to view the cenotaphs is from a small garden where the green grass and the colourful flowers make a perfect picture with the stone buildings.


A short distance from Orcha is Khajuraho a UNESCO world heritage sight featuring a collection of temples built during the Chandella dynasty.  Temple building was a tradition of Chandella rulers and the ornate temples were designed to bring spiritual peace through eroticism.  Originally there were 84 temples surrounded by dense jungle.  Each temple sits on a base of granite with the upper made from sandstone allowing the many intricate carvings.

South Group of Temples

There are thousands of carvings on the upper parts of the temple buildings showing women in many different poses dancing, singing and playing and also of some of the many Hindu gods.  The Khajuraho temples are most well known for the erotic carvings depicting scenes from the Kama sutra.  These carvings are mixed in with the women and the gods and it can take a minute before you realise what you are looking at.  It is said that the carvings were intended to discourage the bachelor lifestyle and encourage a family life.

Carving Examples

South Group of Temples

In the evening time there is a light and sound show at the southern group of temples which is very interesting if you want to know the story of the temples.  It's tells how the temples were built then fell in to disrepair and were rediscovered in the thick jungle to become the beautiful sight they are today.

Visit www.worldtravellia.com for a closer look at our Ancient India in Style itinerary.