….forth post on India…. Click on photos to enlarge/reduce….
Daulatabad and Aurangabad
Daulatabad is a 14th century fort city in Maharashtra, about 16 km from Aurangabad.
Established by the Yadavas as Deogiri (Hill of Gods), it become the capital of the Tughlaq dynasty in 1327. Muhammad bin Tughluq forcibly moved the entire population of Delhi here, for two years, before it was abandoned due to lack of water. The heavily fortified city changed many hands until the Mughals led several campaigns during Akbar and Shah Jahan reign, until it was captured in 1633 after a long siege. From then on, the fort was captured and re-captured by the Mughals, the Marathas, the Peshwas, and finally placed under the control of the Nizams of Hyderabad in 1724 where it remained untill independence.
Malik Ambar, in 1610, had expanded the village of Khadki into a grand and beautiful capital but Aurangabad (meaning “Built by the Throne”) was named, in 1653, after the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
The fort city, located inside the Ajanta/Ellora/Aurangabad triangle, offer an interesting visit, particularly if combined with trips to the interesting surrounding villages. The city is known for the charming Bibi Ka Maqbara, a small scale Taj Mahal, that was built in 1660 by Aurangzeb’s son, Azam Shah, as a loving tribute to his mother.
Today the big industrial city is a necessary stop for trips to the Ajanta and Ellora cave area. I hired a driver for all the movements between Aurangabad airport (were I arrived by air from Mumbai) and Ajanta – with stay at the local State Tourism Village – , from Ajanta to Ellora – with stay at the glorious Kailash resort – and then back to Aurangabad via Daulatabad.
Kochi (Kerala) was the centre of Indian spice trade for millennia, it was known to the Greeks and Romans as well as Jews, Arabs, and Chinese since ancient times. Portuguese navigator, Pedro Cabral founded the first European settlement in India at Kochi in 1500 and Fort Kochi was built by Portugal until 1663. The Portuguese rule was followed by that of the Dutch until, under the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, Kochi was transferred to the United Kingdom.
The old part of the city(the Fort area) is today a pleasant tourist location and the starting point for two main touristic destination: the hill station area (Munnar in particular) in the Western Ghats of Kerala where tea plantations grace the mountains at 1400/1700 m. above sea level; and the Kerala backwaters, a very large area of channelled fresh and sea water that allows agricultural activities (rice paddies) during the monsoon season.
Both destinations are truly spectacular and have become highly desirable Indian tourist sites.
Munnar is a hill station in the Western Ghats of Kerala. This green hill station is surrounded by the country’s highest tea gardens. Layers and layers of tea estates, mountain mist, waterfalls and wildlife sanctuaries make Munnar almost surrealistically beautiful.
Stanley Wilson Tour organized for me a spectacular trip from Kochi to Munnar and a short residence there. The friendly car driver gracefully catered to all my interests and desires, a real treat.
Goa is India smallest state. Part of the Maurya Empire, under Ashoka, in the 3rd century BC, the area was later annexed by various south India rulers until, in 1312, it became part of the Delhi Sultanate. From 1370 it was part of the Vijayanagara empire for about one century and then, in 1510, the Portuguese occupied the coastal area and established a permanent settlement in Velha Goa.
In 1843 the capital was moved to Panjim from Velha Goa and the territory became a formal Portuguese colony. In 1947, Portugal refused to negotiate with India on the transfer of sovereignty of their Indian enclaves until, in 1961, India annexed the territory.
Today Goa is a popular European holiday resort, famous for beautiful beaches, old churches, a traditional cuisine and luxurious climate.
Formerly Bombay, Mumbai is the capital city of Maharashtra (population: 20.5 million).
Originally a group of islands, in the 3d century BCE the area was part of the Maurya Empire under Ashoka. Later on Mumbai came under the control of successive indigenous dynasties until the Delhi Sultanate annexed the islands in 1348, and controlled it till 1407 when the independent Gujarat Sultanate gained control. The Sultanate was obliged to sign the Treaty of Bassein with the Portuguese who controlled it from 1534 to 1661. These islands were then leased to the British East India Company in 1668. In 1687, the British East India Company transferred its headquarters to Bombay, which emerged as a significant trading town during the mid-18th century. By 1845, the seven islands were coalesced into a single landmass by the Hornby Vellard project via large scale land reclamation. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 transformed Bombay into one of the largest seaports on the Arabian Sea.
Here ends the account of my two trips to India. I am looking forward to more visits to this incredible land.