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Statue of Unity

Statue of UnityThe Statue of Unity is the most precious gem of Gujarat Tourism. Created as a memorial to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the statue is located in Gujarat’s Narmada district. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is famed as the Iron Man of India, who served as the first home minister of independent India. It is the world’s tallest statue (about 600 feet) and located about 200 km from Ahmedabad.

The Statue of Unity is almost 100 feet taller than China’s Spring Temple Buddha, and almost twice as high as the Statue of Liberty in New York. Although lying in a remote corner, away from the central Gujarat, the statue attracts tourists from all over India and world.


Statue of Unity Overview
This enormous statue was completed in 33 months. The foundation of the statue was laid down in 2013, and construction was completed in mid-October 2018; and the inaugural ceremony was held on 31 October 2018, presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The statue has been described as a tribute to Indian engineering skills.

Sardar Patel was credited with uniting all 562 princely states in pre-independent India to build the Republic of India; therefore, the name of the statue. The date for the inauguration of the statue (October 31, 2018) also marks the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.

Attractions around
Besides the Statue of Unity, there are several other tourist attractions around including the valley of flowers, natural beauty of the Satpura and Vindhyachal hill ranges around the Sardar Sarobar dam on the mighty Narmada River.

Taj Mahal

Tajmahal, AgraAgra is a historical resort with exquisite Mughal epoch buildings, world heritage architecture and forts. The chief attractions for tourists in Agra are the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort among others like Itmad-ud-Daulah’s tomb, Akbar’s tomb or Sikandra,  Chini Ka rauza, Jama Masjid, Mariam’s tomb, Ram Baagh, Swami Bagh Samadhi, Mankameswar Temple,Keetham Lake and Mehtab Bagh.

One of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal is one of the most magnificent buildings of the world with excellent and unique work of architecture. It is situated on the bank of the river Yamuna.  Apart from the Agra Fort and the Fatehpur Sikri, Taj Mahal is also considered to be one of the three World Heritage Sites in Agra.

According to history, Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is supposed to be the latter’s interment. It is believed to be the world’s finest and most mesmerizing monument built of white marble.  This enticing edifice took almost twenty two years for the completion of its construction work. As per statistics, 20000 labourers, jewelers and masons were employed for the purpose. The main architect was Ustad Isa, who was roped in for the project from Persia, under whose guidance the monument was built. Verses from the holy book of Islam, the Koran, are found inscribed on it and even the number of years it had taken for completion of the work is also mentioned. The interiors are decked up with numerous precious stones of the Mughal era. It is erected on a marble platform above sandstone. The main dome, of the monument has a diameter of 60 feet or 18 metres and rises up to a height of above 80 feet or 24 metres over the structure. Under this dome lies the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. The tomb of Shah Jahan was put up beside hers by his son Aurangzeb. Ironically, Shah Jahan was arrested and kept in the Agra Fort during his later years by his son Aurangzeb. Those eight long years, spending his days as a prisoner, Shah Jahan’s only solace was the view of the masterpiece of art, the Taj Mahal on the river Yamuna, which looked like a mirage from the Agra Fort.

Rested amidst lush green gardens, the Taj Mahal appears to be an idyllic creation, especially on a full moon night.

Ajanta and Ellora Caves

Ajanta and Ellora CavesRanking among some of the world’s most exceptional work of art, Ajanta and Ellora caves - the rock cut shrines, stand as the astounding evidences of ancient Indian architectural heritage. They are sited at Aurangabad, Maharashtra. The historical site was discovered and the rich treasure house of ancient Indian art was unearthed by John Smith, a British army official, in the year 1819. There are about 29 caves at Ajanta and 34 caves in Ellora.

The Ajanta Caves:

The group of caves of Ajanta stretches out deep into the rocks of Sahyadri Hills found above the Waghora River. It was discovered in the 19th century. The 29 caves portray the legends and anecdotes of Buddhism, ranging from the period 200 BC to 650 AD. Interestingly, these 29 caves were supposed to be the refuge of the Buddhist monks who rendered lessons on Buddhism in the Chaityas and Viharas, the apex centres of Buddhist learning. The dedicated Buddhist monks had deftly cut the hard rocky surfaces to draw out figures of Buddha, chiefly with chisel and hammer. Other than this, the art works also depict scenes from Jataka Tales (stories about the different incarnations of Lord Buddha). Ajanta has been considered as one of the World Heritage Sites as well.

The Ellora Caves:

The group of caves of Ellora is located at a distance of 30 kilometres from the city of Aurangabad. It stretches out deep into the rocks of a basaltic hill. It stands as a breathtaking masterpiece of art and architectural effort upholding the faith of the three religions – Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Along with the exquisite interiors blend in rich work of fine arts, it stands as one of the optimum examples of cave-temple architecture. The 5 caves in the northern part are bestowed to Jainism, 17 at the centre to Hinduism and 12 towards the southern side belong to Buddhism. These figures, on the walls of the Ellora Caves, were engraved during the period 350 AD to 700 AD.


Virupaksha TempleThe name of the place, Hampi, the anglicized version of the name Hampe in Kannada, is supposed to be derived from the name Pampa, referring to the old name of the river Tungabhadra. Hampi is a small village in the northern part of the state of Karnataka in South India.

Hampi is famous for its religious significance, palatial ruins and temples. The village carries the marks of the Vijayanagara Empire. It also hosts the Virupaksha Temple, which was the patron god of the Vijayanagara rulers. The city takes pride in hosting innumerable number of nationwide and global tourists throughout every year.

As mentioned, Hampi is well known for the famous Virupaksha temple. It is chiefly a Shiva Temple also with shrines of Goddess Bhubaneshwari and Pampa in its premises. It is located in the Hampi Bazaar and is still a dynamic place of worship. The annual Vijayanagara Festival draws thousands of people to this place. Interestingly, the ruins of the Vijayanagara empire in Hampi are enlisted as the Group of Monuments in Hampi as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main language spoke by the people of Hampi is Kannada.

The Karnataka government has taken several initiatives to promote tourism in the place. Be it ruins of the empire belonging to the past era, sight seeing or temple visits – tourists would really carry back fond and everlasting memories on their visit to this place of palatial edifices.

Madurai Meenakshi Temple

Meenakshi TempleThe Meenakshi Temple, also known as Meenakshi Amman or Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple, is sited in the city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, South India. The temple is bestowed to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It functions as the apex point of everyday life of the people of the city. Not only have the denizens of Tamil Nadu, but tourists from far and across flocked in to the city to pay a visit to the temple since years.

The temple is supposed to be constructed in the 17th century. It is renowned worldwide for its brilliant architecture, carvings, designs and painting. It has got 12 gargantuan towers also called the Gopurams. The temple holds a great significance and has intricate references in old Tamil Literature. The inner sanctorum is over 3500 years old while the outer features are more or less 1500-2000 years aged. The shrine of the reigning deity, Lord Shiva, is in the form of Nataraja. It is situated at the heart of the complex. It is a dancing pose of Lord Shiva. Usually the posture is supposed to be left foot raised and right foot grounded; the uniqueness here is the right foot of Lord Shiva is lifted instead of the left foot. This is due to the request of King Rajasekara Pandya, a great dancer himself, who requested the Lord to do so in order to keep an equilibrium and comfort of balance. It is hemmed in a huge silver alter called Velli Ambalam. The idol of Meenakshi or Parvati is placed on the left side of the shrine of Shiva. There is also a massive shrine of Lord Ganesha, Mukuruny Vinayakar in the premises.

Another attraction of this temple is the thousand pillar hall or Aayiram Kaal Mandapam put up by Arya Natha Mudaliyar who was the Prime Minister of the first Nayaka of Madurai, the founder of 'Poligar System'. The hall hosts 985 outstanding pillars with gorgeous carvings. Some of the pillars produce different musical notes when struck. It has also an Art Museum inside it. The hall is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The most vital festival of the temple is the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam which is supposed to be the marriage ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi. The other important occasions when the temple witnesses thousands of devotees swarming in the temple premises are the times of Aadi (July 15 – Aug 17) and Thai (Jan 15 – Feb 15). Ther Thiruvizhah (Chariot festival) and Theppa Thiruvizhah (Float festival) are also two prominent festivals associated with the temple.

Amber Fort

Amber Fort, RajasthanAmber Fort is also called the Amer Fort. Amer Fort is located on Delhi. Jaipur Highway, 11km from Jaipur.It was built by Raja Man Singh I in the year 1592. Exquisite paintings of hunting scenes on the walls depict the disposition of the Rajput who were adventurous, revolutionary and self indulgent.

The walls and the ceiling of the Mahal are covered with a beautiful assortment of mirrors, which reflect any streak of light, so as to illuminate the entire room.  The Amber Fort was once the Capital of the Minas. The crystal mirror image of the Fort, on the still waters of the lake, seems to be a beautiful illusion. 

The exterior of the Fort is not in the least like its interiors. The outside is very daunting and craggy looking whereas the inside is a comforting and warm interior which is influenced by both Hindu and Muslim style of embellishment. On the walls, are paintings depicting various hunting scenes, and there is also a lot of work on walls, which are covered with intricate carving, mosaic and minute mirror work that make the halls, look very majestic and imperial.

The fort is built with white marble and red sandstone and looks even more attractive because of the Maota Lake in the foreground. The fort in itself is a beautiful sight to behold but as one looks on the fort with its clear reflection on the lake in the front; one cannot help but wonder if it is a dream or a stunning delusion.

House Boat

House BoatCruising through the backwaters in a Kettuvallam or houseboat makes one feel elated. In fact, savoring the joy of this intoxicating boat ride is one of the chief facets of Kerala visit, to the tourists. The journey is indeed one of the prime attractions for tourists travelling in Kerala.
Kettuvallams or houseboats are the boats of Kerala which were originally used for the purpose of transporting food grains from one part of the state to another, chiefly rice. However, most of these ordinary boats have been transformed into luxurious water vessels since 1990s to compliment with the state’s thriving tourism industry. The Kettuvallams are about 25 metres long, assembled by binding the planks of jackfruit wood together deftly.  The unique factor in this is that no nails are required to hold the planks together. The houseboats have an open foredeck sheltered by a vaulted roof of braided screw pine grass called vembanad. Most probably, the Vembanad Lake got its name due to this reason. There are some luxurious boats having air-conditioned well -decor bedrooms with attached washrooms aided with modern facilities. However, keeping in mind to keep the environment clean and green, the sewage is never flushed into the lake but is stored in tanks and is later pumped into the municipal sewerage system. These house boats are available on a daily rental basis as well as for longer duration to take visitors on the old waterways. The peaceful cruises portray a highlight of the life on the water side with extravagant views of the water, land, birds and human civilization.

The scenic beauty encompassing the land areas of the backwaters are equally enchanting. The lifestyle of the Keralites chiefly depends and orbits around the water bodies. The river banks are embroidered with the palm trees, cluster of mud houses with thatched roofs – depicting the picture of an unadulterated and chaste rural lifestyle. The exquisite natural beauty witnessed from the decks of a Kettuvallam might change a normal mind to that of a poet – singing away to the glory of God and Nature!

Mysore Palace

Mysore palaceMysore is the capital of the state of Karnataka in South India. Mysore is well known for the number of palaces the city hosts. The Amba Vilas or most commonly named Mysore Palace; Rajendra Vilas located on the Chamundi Hills, also known as the summer palace; the Jagmohan Palace turned into an art gallery; Lalitha Mahal, converted into a hotel and the Jayalakshmi Vilas, now a part of the University of Mysore are all examples of the historical palaces.

The Mysore Palace stands as an example of classic architectural style. It has a blend of two types of architectural pattern. The interior work of the Amba Vilas or Mysore Palace is an outstanding example of the Hoysala period architecture pattern. However, the exterior view projects Indo-Saracenic architectural style and design, which makes it class apart from the other palaces of the city. The maintenance of the palace is undertaken by the government of Karnataka. In one portion of it, the descendants of the royal family still resides.

Rested amidst lush green gardens, the Mysore Palace appears to be an idyllic creation in the city of Mysore, worth visiting.

Lutyens Imperial of Delhi

Lotus Temple, DelhiNamed after the famous British architect, Edwin Lutyens, Lutyens Delhi is particularly a place in New Delhi (India), which portrays the works of the legendary designer. He was the prime mover of many buildings and structures which were built here during the British reign.

He was the chief draftsman for laying the framework of the apex administrative region of New Delhi. At the very heart of the city is the Rashtrapati Bhawan situated on the Raisina Hills, which was earlier supposed to be the Viceroy’s House or the Vice-regal Lodge. This regal edifice is built on 330 acres of land with 340 lavish rooms. There is a beautiful garden which adorns the palatial building. Presently the President of India resides here. Edwin Lutyens was the mastermind in giving the place, New Delhi, the shape and look of capital. The Rajpath or the King’s Way connects the Rashtrapati Bhawan with India Gate. However the Parliament House on the Sansad Marg and the Secretariats were built by Herbert Baker. Lutyens preferred the southwest direction of the walled city of Shahjahanabad to be an ideal site for the capital. He even made plans for the wide lane avenues and streets for the city.

All these are treasures of the present Indian government and it is doing its best to preserve these precious works of architecture. However due to constant pressure for further development and modernization in Delhi, some garden laced villas in the Lutyens  Bungalow area are under menace.

Tourists visiting New Delhi or even the regular residents of Delhi derive warm pleasure stepping into the arena of Lutyens Delhi, each time with a different mood, attitude and flavour.

Lake Palace

Lake Palace, UdaipurThe Lake Palace is located on the Jag Niwas Island in the middle of the Pichola Lake. Built by Maharana Jagat Singh in 1743 it was meant as a royal summer palace and now converted in to a five star palace hotel.

Udaipur, the famed 'city of sunrise', was founded in 1567 by Maharana Udai Singh, a valiant Rajput king. This indolent lake city with its fantasies in marble, picturesque hibiscus-covered gardens and elaborate fountain pavilions embodies the glory of the Rajput era.

The Maharana, ruler of Jaipur from 1628 to 1654, was very friendly with Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and encouraged his craftsmen to imitate some of the glories of his incomparable buildings at Agra. The successive rulers used this cool haven as their summer resort, holding their regal durbars in its courtyards. These courtyards lined with columns, pillared terraces, fountains and gardens all add to its impressive image.

It is a magical palace and its image in the middle of the lake is like a leaf straight out of a fairy tale book with an excellent taste of obscure craftsmanship and the ethnic themes using the textiles and handicrafts all over highlights the beauty. The Lake Palace is one of the most beautiful palaces in the world, arising out of the Turquoise Waters of the Pichola like an elegant fantasy in white marble.

The rooms are decorated with cusped arches, inland stones of pink and green lotus leaves and painted mirrors. Apartments like the Bada Mahal, Kush Mahal, Ajjan Niwas, Phool Mahal and Dhola Mahal. All enhance the romance of the elegant setting. Among the facilities available are swimming pool, conference hall and a bar. Other events of recreation organized. Lake Palace houses 83 rooms including 17 beautiful suites and 53 deluxe rooms. The rooms and the suites of the hotel are beautifully designed. The royal banquet rooms are now reception rooms, bars and restaurant.

Umaid Bhawan Palace

Umaid Bhawan PalaceUmaid Bhawan Palace, also called Chittar Palace as it is situated on the hills of Chittar, is located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. It was built by Maharaja Umaid Singh of Jodhpur and is supposed to be one of the largest private residences across the globe. The top of the Chittar Hills is also the highest point of Jodhpur.

It had taken almost 5000 labourers for the construction of the palatial building and built over a period of 15 years. The building is made up of interlocking blocks of stones devoid of any cement or mortar. An interesting fact about the palace is that it always maintains an approximate temperature of twenty three degree Celsius. The palace hosts 347 rooms. It is also the abode of the royal family of Jodhpur till the present times.

The palace was designed by Henry Lanchester, an Edwardian architect. It has a perfect combination of both western and eastern inspirations. One part of the palace is maintained by the Taj Hotels group since 1972.  The current owner of the palace, Maharaja Gaj Singh has made three divisions of the palace – one section being maintained by the Taj Palace Hotel, another section is a private museum displaying the precious art, artifacts and weapons of the royal family and the third part is the residential portion of the regal descendants.

Khimsar Fort

Khimsar FortThe Khimsar Fort is located at Khimsar, place 90 kilometres from Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. It was built by Rao Karamsji, the 8th son of the author of Jodhpur Rao Jodha and is supposed to be one of the superb private residences across the globe. It is set amidst sand dunes bordering the parched Thar Desert. The fort stands like a fairy-tale castle - ordained with grassy turfs under the blue sky (starry nights) in the land of sand.

The palace hosts 64 rooms. All the rooms are upgraded with air conditioners and other modern amenities. It is also the abode of the royal family till the present times.

It has a perfect combination of both western and eastern inspirations.

Meharangarh Fort

Meharangarh FortThe Meharangarh Fort is situated on a 150 metres high hill and is located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. It was initiated by Rao Jodha and is supposed to be carried forth by the following rulers of Jodhpur who all have contributed in completing the construction work of the fort. It is believed to be one of the largest forts in India.

There are seven gates to the fort. The second gate bears the signs of the canon attacks of the Jaipur armies. The two gates Fatehpole and Jaypole were built to venerate the royal victories; while the former was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to memorialize the defeat of the Mughals, the latter one was set up by Maharaja Man Singh for his win over the Jaipur and Bikaner militias. The palm impressions are considered to be respected till date and are smeared with vermillion and lined with silver foils.

In one section the fort hosts one of the most excellent museums in the state of Rajasthan, displaying the precious art, artifacts and weapons of the royal family. The special attraction of the fort is the collection of age old royal palanquins, decked up in riches and beauty. The Phool Mahal and the Jhanki Mahal are the other two attractions of the fort. The Phool Mahal is the imperial foyer of amusement and delight. This gold lined chamber was built by Maharaja Abhaya Singh and houses a lovely collection of paintings displaying various musical dispositions. The Jhanki Mahal, on the other hand, was predominantly the ladies dominated section. It has a lovely collection of cradles ornamented with mirrors and various figures of birds, fairies and elephants.

Elephanta Caves

Elephanta CaveConsidered among some of India’s most exceptional work of art, the Elephanta Caves - the rock cut shrines, stand as the astounding evidences of ancient Indian architectural heritage. They are sited on the Gharapuri Islands, later renamed as the Elephanta Islands by the Portuguese, in the Mumbai Harbour, Maharashtra. The historical site has been considered as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, in the year 1987, as well.

The caves were the contributions of the Silhara kings who thrived from the 9th to the 13th centuries. However, sculptures of Shiva like the spectacular Ardhanarishwara, the Nataraja and the Sadashiva show the influence of the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta (the present times Karnataka). The chief figure of the three faces of Lord Shiva or the Trimurti of Elephanta bears a very close resemblance to the trinity of the three Lords, Brahma-Vishnu and Maheshwar, which was the signature emblem of the Rashtrakutas.

The Trimurti Sadashiva is a 20 feet high triple-headed Shiva figure, signifying the Panchamukha Shiva. The central face resembles Lord Vishnu, in a benevolent, peaceful posture, representing Shiva as the hermit or yogi, Yogeshwar – denoting perpetuation of humanity. The left face represents Shiva as Aghora Bhairava, displaying the destructive attitude and wrath of an angry youth, sporting a moustache – denoting the Shiva who can turn the entire world into ashes by his flames of vexation. Finally, the right face depicts Shiva with intense lips brimming with life and vivacity, holding a rose-bud like flower, quite resembling Lord Brahma – depicting life and inventiveness, portraying the feminine angle of lord Shiva, Uma or Vamadeva.

This Shiva Temple is spread over an area of 60,000 square feet along with a main hall, courtyards and auxiliary shrines. Along with the exquisite interiors blend in rich work of fine arts, it stands as one of the optimum examples of cave-temple architecture.

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Colorful Heritage Tour – Rajasthan Duration: 14 Nights - 15 Days
Destination Covered: Delhi - Mandawa - Bikaner - Jaisalmer - Jodhpur - Udaipur - Jaipur - Agra - Delhi
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