Friday, 31 May 2013

TripAdvisor lists magnificent architectural sites one can never get enough of!

Bustling with devotees, sadhus and tourists, Indian cities are often home to magnificent sites of architectural genius and historical importance, dating back to hundreds and thousands of years. These sites offer glimpses of the majestic life led ages ago.

TripAdvisor brings you some of the local attractions, famous in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore. Not to be missed are the views shared by TripAdvisor visitors.


The capital of West Bengal has a rich cultural story and a modern outlook, along with religious air lures the visitors from world over. The major local attractions that make even the natives ditch their work are:

  • The Tollygunge Club. It was founded in 1895, this club includes an 18-hole golf course as well as facilities for golf, tennis, squash, indoor and outdoor swimming, riding and amateur equestrian sports. And in words of a TripAdvisor visitor, “It takes you back to the days of the Raj.” 
  • Belur Math Shrine is a religious shrine visited by lakhs of devotees from across the globe every year and is the headquarters of the International Ramakrishna Order too.  It has a meditation centre where you want to sit for hours to experience the peace and serenity within. One can also choose to meditate by the Hooghly river bank near the math, and be at peace with oneself. As a TripAdvisor visitor says, “It is a Pilgrimage for Mankind.” 
  • Old-world nostalgia comes alive as soon as you step on to College Street (Boi Para), and the entire stretch houses some of the world's oldest educational institutes. Magnificent in architecture, Boi Para (or ‘Book-Neighbourhood’ in Bengali) is the world's second largest market of second-hand books! As one of our visitors said, “It is a place where books are living.” 
  • St Paul's Cathedral was established via the efforts of Bishop Wilson in 1839. It was originally designed on an Indo-Gothic pattern and was consecrated as the first Episcopal Church of the Orient. Inside the high vaulted interior, one is struck by the beauty of the mural paintings depicting the life and work of St Paul. Bishop Wilson’s body is kept in an underground chamber of the cathedral. A TripAdvisor visitor urges: “Don’t miss the west window by pre-Raphaelite Sir Edward Burne-Jones.” 
  • Those who love cricket love the sprawling Eden Gardens! It one of the biggest cricket stadium in the world with a capacity of 100,000 spectators and is a favourite among many star cricketers worldwide. Even Sourav Ganguly has grown up mastering the sport in the stadium. In the words of TripAdvisor visitor, “A must see even if you are not a cricket fan.” 
  • Dakshineshwar Kali Temple is a heritage, religious and a marvellous architectural site that would drift your attention to it.  If you want to see a Hindu Temple built in typical nine spires (Nava Ratna) style of Bengal architecture of East India, then this is it. Situated on the outskirt of Kolkata on the eastern bank of River Hooghly this temple was built by Rani Rashmani. A TripAdvisor visitor feels, “It is a great place for atheist as well.” 
  • Park Street is a foodie’s heaven to experience authentic Bengali cuisine. As a visitor says, “Park Street is the place to be...”
  • Your trip to Kolkata is incomplete without a drive along the Howrah Bridge. It gives a rustic feel and you can view the real buzz of the city. It is an engineering marvel for all times to come. As a visitor says,  it is a “landmark of Kolkata.” 
  • Birla Industrial & Technological Museum is the first public Science Museum in India. Website There ia mock-up coal-mine in the basement with a Sound and Light Show. There are many activities, especially for children. The galleries are extensive with plenty of things to interact with. As a visitor says, “it is a place for all inquisitive minds” 

  • Built in memory of Queen Victoria. Inaugurated in 1921, The Victoria Memorial Hall is a 184-ft high marble structure. Atop the grand structure is the Figure of Victory, another 16 feet high. The Figure of Victory rotates with the direction of wind. The memorial is the largest repository in India for a visual history of Kolkata. A TripAdvisor visitor says, “It is a marvel in marble.”


An ancient city known for its nizams and biryani, Hyderabad is an intrinsic part of history of medieval India. Apart from the food, the capital of Andhra Pradesh is famous for the local sites too. Here are the top ten voted by the locals themselves:

  • Borra Caves if you like caves and are interested in history, then it is a must visit. These caves are very old and are well maintained by the authorities in Vishakhapatnam, in the vicinity of Hyderabad and need a special mention as these caves have been of historical as well as archaeological importance. As a TripAdvisor visitor says, “Limestone wonders that's worth a trip out of town” 
  • Falaknuma Palace is a blend of old-world regal charm and great food. The two restaurants Adaa (Indian) and Celeste (Continental) are wonderful to dine in and serve food that tastes great. Make sure to take a tour of the palace if you aren't staying. Worth a visit if you want to experience the grandeur of Hyderabad. As a visitor calls it, “Royal treat/retreat.” 
  • Home to Veesala Devgudu, the God of Visas is the Chilkur Balaji Temple, on the Osman Sagar Lake. The temple is not under Government control and so there are no collection ‘Hundis’ present in the temple, and no special treatment is meted out to even ‘VVIPs’. In the words of a TripAdvisor visitor, the place is, “Divine!” 
  • Chowmahalla Palace is a must visit if history interests you. The palace offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The grounds are very well maintained and the many halls and quarters are in really impressive. Not to be missed are the collection of vintage cars and buggies which are in a corner of the premises. This palace features the grandeur of the life of Nizams like you'll never see anywhere else. As a TripAdvisor visitor says, “It is like going back in Time with the Asaf Jahi dynasty!” 
  • Birla Mandir is a God's abode in marble,  intricately designed with traditional designs , the ambiance of the temple is soothing, placed on a hillock this marble beauty offers a beautiful view of the city and the famous Hussain Sagar along with the blissful glance of the temple prime Lord Venkateswara. A TripAdvisor visitor says, “Grandeur at its best.” 
  • Located at Bahadurpura in Hyderabad, Sudha Car Museum is the only museum where one can discover and unveil over 150 types cars of amusing shapes and sizes. One can have a look at these masterpieces in the world of cars and motors bikes which have marked their presence in the prestigious Guinness Book of Records as well as Limca Book of Records! In the words of a TripAdvisor visitor, “Never seen a place like that!” 
  • A trip to Hyderabad would not be complete without a trip to The Golkonda Fort. From the centre of the city, it is 11km and takes about 30 minutes in a taxi to reach the UNESCO world heritage site, but it is worth the journey. In the words of a visitor, “it is spectacular, fantastic, great, and impressive. It is all you want.” 
  • Salar Jung Museum has one of the most amazing private collections anywhere in the world. From the Indian artefacts to the European assemblage, everything is just fantastic and if you are a museum lover you will be able to spend a full day and will still not be able to see all collections. As one of our visitors say, “One of the best museum I have seen in India” 
  • Ramoji Film City would make you experience all kinds of arts and visual excellences. You need not see film shooting anywhere else. Here, they explain how film makers are mesmerising us by graphics and action in Bollywood and Tollywood. In the words of a TripAdvisor visitor, “Perfect place to a sneak-peek into Bollywood's life behind the screen.” 
  • Shilparamam Cultural Society is an amazing place for one who can see the beauty of Indian culture. As one of our visitors said, “It is an Indian village market in Hi-tech City!” 

The land of temples and rich archaeological heritage has been voted as a must visit city once you chart out your travel plans. One can witness the history imbibed on the walls of numerous temples the city boasts of. Here are the top ten: 

  • Kapaleeshwar Temple - Kapaleeshwarar Temple is a temple of Shiva. The temple was built around the 7th century CE and is a good example of Dravidian architecture. According to the Hindu mythology, Shakti worshipped Shiva in the form of a peacock, which is why the vernacular name Mylai was given to the vicinity of the temple - mayil is Tamil for "peacock". In one word description of the temple, a TripAdvisor visitor states, “Timeless!” 
  • Sri Parthasarathy Temple in Sanskrit, means the 'charioteer of Arjuna', referring to Krishna's role as a charioteer to Arjuna in Mahabaratha. The temple has five of the incarnations or avatars of Vishnu. It is one of the very few shrines in the country dedicated to Krishna as the charioteer of Arjuna and to contain idols of three avatars of Vishnu: Narasimha, Rama, and Krishna. As a TripAdvisor visitor puts it, “The Vaishanaite temple of Madras.” 
  • The Anna Centenary Library is an established state library of the Government of Tamil Nadu. The library was built at a cost of Rs 172 crore, and is  one of the largest libraries in Asia as well. It is named after a former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, C. N. Annadurai. The average number of persons who visited the library between January and October 2011 is around 26,500, compared to the monthly average of 20,000 in 2010. As a TripAdvisor visitor says, “Gates of hundreds of prisons closed when a single library is opened...” 
  • Shirdi Sai Baba Temple is a Hindu temple located in the neighbourhood of Mylapore in Chennai, India. It is dedicated to the Indian saint Sai Baba of Shirdi. The temple was built in 1952 by one Narasimhaswami, a Salem and Sai Baba devotee out of money donated by a Chettiar merchant. This is the most trusted temple considered in India. The temple is the headquarters of the All India Sai Samaj. In words of a TripAdvisor visitor, “it is the true replica of Shirdi Sai temple” 
  • Vadapalani Murugan Temple was built in the tail end of 17th century. Annasamy Naicker, unostentatious Muruga devotee with his limited means built a thatched hut and kept a Muruga photo for his personal worship primarily. The entrance to this temple is crowned with a rajagopuram adorned with several stucco images depicting legends from the Skanda puranam. In front of the temple is the temple tank. The eastern tower rises to a height of 40.8 metres. The 108 bharata natyam dance gestures can be seen on the eastern tower as well. As a TripAdvisor visitor says it, “it is one of the great temples inside city” 
  • San Thome Basilica is a Roman Catholic (Latin Rite) minor basilica in Santhome, in the city of Chennai (Madras), India. It was built in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers, over the tomb of St Thomas, an apostle of Jesus. In 1893, it was rebuilt as a church with the status of a cathedral by the British. The British version still stands today. It was designed in Neo-Gothic style, favoured by British architects in the late 19th century. As a TripAdvisor visitor says, “It is the true essence of culture” 
  • Arignar Anna Zoological Park also known as the Vandalur Zoo, is a zoological garden located in Vandalur, a suburb in the south-western part of Chennai, India, about 31 kilometres (19 mi) from the city centre and 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Chennai Airport. Founded in 1855, the park was the first public zoo in India. The park, with an objective to be a repository of the state's fauna, is credited with being the second wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu after Mudumalai National Park. In the words of a TripAdvisor visitor, “It is a nice place for kids of age around teen." 
  • Mylapore is a cultural hub and neighbourhood in the southern part of the city of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, India. It is a major commercial centre, as well as one of the oldest residential parts of the city. It is connected to other parts of city by road and the MRTS system. It is known for its tree-lined avenues, the seventh-century Kapaleeshwarar Temple, katcheri season and Ramakrishna Math. Mylapore is regarded as the birthplace of Tamil poet and saint Thiruvalluvar, one of the icons of Tamil literature. In the words of a TripAdvisor visitor, “It is the master place of Chennai.” 
  • Crocodile Bank is the first crocodile breeding centre in Asia, and comes under the purview of the Central Zoo Authority, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.  It was established with the aim of saving three Indian endangered species of crocodile—the marsh or mugger crocodile, the saltwater crocodile, and the gharial, which at the time of founding of the trust were all nearing extinction. As an excited TripAdvisor visitor describes, “Saw more than 1000 crocodiles at one place.” 
  • Besant Nagar Beach is a residential area on the suburbs of Chennai City. Elliot's beach commonly known as Besant Nagar beach is a famous picnic spot. Besant Nagar named after the famous lady theosophist Annie Besant. The Theosophical Society HeadQuarters located in Besant Nagar. Besant Nagar also has many famous worship places like Varasiddhi Vinayaka temple, Ashtalakshmi Kovil, Arupadai Murugan Kovil, Ratnagirishwarar Kovil and the Velankanni Church. A TripAdvisor visitor says, “It is a place with silver sands” 

The cyber city of India is home to grand architecture and modern infrastructure. The 2000 year old city has emerged as a fusion of modernity and rich cultural heritage.

  • The Chennakesava Temple originally called Vijayanarayana Temple was built on the banks of the Yagachi River in Belur, by the Hoysala Empire King Vishnuvardhana. Belur is well known for its marvelous temples built during the rule of the Hoysala dynasty, making it and nearby Halebidu favored tourist destinations in Karnataka state. These temple complexes have been proposed to be listed under UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A TripAdvisor visitor says, “It is simply a masterpiece!” 
  • Vithala Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, known here as Virupaksha, as the consort of the local goddess Pampa who is associated with the Tungabhadra River. The temple continues to prosper and attracts huge crowds for the betrothal and marriage festivities of Virupaksha and Pampa in December. In the month of February the annual chariot festival is celebrated here. A TripAdvisor visitor says, “Highly recommended - one of my favourite sites in India.” 
  • Basavanagudi is one of the oldest areas in Bangalore. It was predominantly inhabited by Kannadigas or natives a few decades ago. It was previously known as Sunkenahalli. It reminds one of the Bangalore of yore, with wide tree lined avenues dotted with houses. Commercialisation has taken a toll in this area with excessive tree felling due to the Metro line as well as the National College flyover and Tagore Circle underpass. A TripAdvisor visitor describes it as, “Big statue of Basava (Bull) Carved in stone in the capital city of Bangalore.” 
  • Shree Suryanarayana Temple of Naravi is among those unique temples and sacred places in India which occupies its own spiritual space. The temple stands majestically in the heart of Naravi Village which lies in the base of Western Ghats, amidst an atmosphere of divinity. This temple is adjoined with a beautiful River Suvarna which has its origin in Western Ghats. A TripAdvisor visitor says, “It is a must-go place!” 
  • Iruppu Falls is a fresh water cascade and is situated at a distance of 48 km from Virajpet on the highway to Nagarhole. The falls are also known as the Lakshmana Tirtha Falls, derived from the name of the tributary of Cauvery which starts from these falls, the Lakshmana Tirtha River. A forest trail leads from these falls to the Brahmagiri Peak in Southern Kodagu. Irupu falls is a major tourist attraction as well as a pilgrimage spot. A famous Shiva temple, the Rameshwara Temple is situated on the banks of the Lakshmana Tirtha River,en route to the Falls. A TripAdvisor visitor suggests, “It is gorgeous in monsoon.” 
  • Wondered how a pilot flies a plane? Ever wanted to peep inside a cockpit? Dreamt of flying a plane? You can fulfil your dream by flying a Jet, well, it is the most realistic flying experience so far, made possible by Flight 4 Fantasy. Fly across 20,000 airports worldwide. 1:1 scale realistic cockpits. What else would you want? A TripAdvisor visitor says, “It provides for a good flight simulation experience” 
  • Somnathpur Temples are located 35 km from the historic Mysore city in Karnataka. Somanathapura is famous for the Chennakesava Temple (also called Kesava or Keshava temple) built by Soma, a Dandanayaka (commander) in 1268 CE under Hoysala Empire King Narasimha III, when the Hoysalas were the major power in South India.[1] The Keshava temple is one of the finest and most complete examples of Hoysala architecture and is in a very well preserved condition. The temple is in the care of the Archeological Survey of India as a protected heritage site. 
  • The Four Fountains Spa is India's largest chain of affordable health spas. We offer scientifically proven spa therapies for de-stressing, de-toxification, immunity and beauty for men and women. Our therapies include more than 20 Indian and international massages, body polishes, body wraps and facials. A TripAdvisor visitor says that his experience was, “Absolutely worth it.” 
  • Bylakuppe Buddhist Golden Temple is located in the Tibetan settlement called Bylakuppe, which is home to thousands of Tibetan refugees. It is also a major centre for Tibetan Buddhism in the region, Coorg of South India. Spread over a vast area, it comprises of many agricultural settlements or small camps. Several monasteries, temples and nunneries are also a part of it, including a large educational monastic institution called Sera. A TripAdvisor visitor says, “It is beauty and peace well combined” 
  • Halebidu Temple was known as Dorasamudra or Dwarasamudra founded in the early 11th century A.D. It came to be known as ‘Halebeedu’ after it was plundered by the Delhi Sultan’s armies two times in 1311 and 1327 and deserted. Halebeedu means ruined city. The ornate Kedareshwara and Hoysaleswara temples here are remarkable monuments of Hoysala architecture. A TripAdvisor visitor says, “Must visit for splendid architecture”

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