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Travel in India

Unique India
By:Richard Greaves

So many sights and sensation make up the country that is India. There are tiger parks and magnificent residences of Maharajahs, cool hills resorts with tea plantations with views of the distant Himalayas, there are the beaches of Goa and the pepper ports of the Malabar Coast to mention just a few. Here's a look at three of the marvels that define this vast and varied land - the Taj in Delhi, the Gateway of India in Mumbai, and the National Library in Kolkata.

Everyone visits the famous Taj Mahal in Agra, but in Dehli stands its precursor, Humayun's Tomb. Humayun was a Mughal Emperor during the 16th century. A native of Kabul, Humayun took the throne of Agra in 1530. He was a studious man and was fascinated by mathematics and astronomy. He also brought in Persian artists to add their stylistic influences to result in the classic Mughal form of architecture. He died in 1556 after falling down the steps of his library.

The garden tomb built by his widow Baga Begam in the years 1565 - 1569. It was India's first full-blown example of Mughal architecture in all its glory with the expansive gardens replete with water channels and fountains. 70 years later, this style of architecture was to reach its apex with the construction of the Taj Mahal.

In the port city of Mumbai (Bombay) in western India on the Arabian Sea stands the Gateway of India, a 26-metre structure of yellow basalt and reinforced concrete. This ceremonial archway is a symbol of the British Raj, the colonial government that ruled India from 1858 until 1947.

The Gateway of India was constructed to commemorate the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary in India in 1911 to attend the Delhi Durbar. The monarchs passed through a plaster of paris replica of the gateway which was constructed over the following years. The actual gate was inaugurated in 1924. Later governors and colonial officials arriving by sea would pass through this archway.

When India gained independence, the last British troops, the first battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry, marched under the gateway to their waiting ship to sail away from India forever.

The eastern coastal city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) has long been the intellectual hub of India. Nicknamed the "City of Thinkers", it's long been the haunt of the country's leading artists and writers. This makes it the fitting place to be home of the National Library of India.

Other than its impressive collection of two million books, the National Library’s setting makes it worth a visit. It’s located on the Belvedere Estate, site of the 300-year-old former summer residence of Prince Azim-us-Shan.

India has so many treasures; it's hard to know where to start. But a visit to these three sites makes a great introduction to this sprawling and fascinating country.

Richard has over 20 years experience in the travel industry and writes for Cheaper than Hotels. Cheaper Than Hotels offers cheap hotels in India http://www.cheaperthanhotels.com/India/.

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Unique India -- Richard Greaves
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