Ancient India’s centre of power, learning and culture, Bihar is a profusion of historic treasures. It is the birthplace of India’s first greatest empire – the Mauryan Empire as well as one of the world’s greatest pacifist religions, Buddhism. Famous for stone and bead jewellery, hand-painted wall hangings (Madhubani paintings), applique work and stone pottery. The main festivals and events of Bihar are Makar Sankranti, Rajgir Mahotsav, Chhath, Sonepur Fair etc.
PLACES TO VISIT: Patna (Golghar, Martyr’s Memorial Museum, Harmandir Sahib Gurudwara, Patthar Ki Masjid, Agam Kuan, Mahatma Gandhi Setu), Bodhgaya (Mahabodhi Stupa, Vishnupad Temple, Bodhi Tree, Barabar Cave, Karan Chaupa Cave), Nalanda (Nalanda University Archaeological Complex, Hiuen Tsang Memorial Hall) Pawapuri (Jalmandir and Samosharan) Vaishali (Ashokan Pillar, Bawan Pokhar Temple, Buddha Stupa, Abhishek Pushkarn) Rajgir (Jivakameavan Gardens, Ajatshatru’s Fort, Swarna Bhandar), Bihar Sharif, Munger etc.
The steel city of Jamshedpur and coal city of Dhanbad are the better-known towns in one of nature’s most brilliant displays of forests, hills and wildlife. Patkar paintings, bamboo handicrafts, tribal jewellery and wood carvings are all reflections of Jharkhand’s cultural and natural vibrancy. The main festivals and events are Sarhul, Karma, Tusu, Sohrai, Chhath etc. The state is known for its energetic people and their colourful clothes and handicrafts.
PLACES TO VISIT Ranchi (Tagore Hill, Rock Garden, Nakshatra Van, Dassam Fall, Sun Temple, Panch Gagh, Hundru Fall), Jamshedpur (Jubilee Park, Dimna Lake & Dam, Hudco Lake, Dalma Wild Life Sanctuary, Tata Steel Zoological Park), Deoghar (22 temples), Parasnath Hills, Hazari Bagh, Maithon etc.
CAPITAL – Ranchi | WEBSITE – http://portal.jharkhandtourism.in
Orissa – a land of serpentine rivers, virgin beaches, mighty waterfalls and blue hills, basks in the Sun of the eastern coast of India. Sambalpuri silk and handicrafts like Ikkat, Patta Chitra, stone carvings, and silver filigree work are some signature attractions. It is also the birthplace of the classical dance form – Odissi. Major festivals include the Kalinga Mahotsava, Konark Dance Festival, Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath.
PLACES TO VISIT: Bhubaneswar (Rajarani Temple, Dhaulagiri, Lingaraj Temple, Nandankanan, Atri), Cuttack, Jeypore, Puri (Jagannath Temple), Ratnagiri, Sambalpur (Hirakud Reservoir), Pipli, Konark Sun Temple, Chandrabhaga, Chilka Lake (Asia’s largest brackish lake famous for Irrawaddy Dolphins), Berhampur (Taptapani), Kendrapadra (Bhitar Kanika National Park), Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, and the beaches at Gopalpur-on-Sea, Chandipur, Ramchandi, Balighai, Astaranga, Paradeep etc.
CAPITAL – Bhubaneswar | WEBSITE – http://www.orissatourism.gov.in
Well known as the state of Rabindranath Tagore, the Guru who has written.
India’s national anthem, the artistic streak of West Bengal does not end at its lyrical music or literature. It finds its undertones extended to everything from the Baluchari or Cotton handloom sarees, conch shell products to precious silks. Kolkata, or ‘the City of Joy’, is synonymous with mouth-watering street food, love for soccer, ‘Baul’ style of folk music, and centuries of Indian heritage blending effortlessly into a cosmopolitan culture. The fragrant mangrove forests of Sundarbans are the habitat of the famous West Bengal tiger. The state comes alive with colours and festivities during Durga Pooja.
PLACES TO VISIT: Kolkata (Birla Planetarium, Fort William, Howrah Bridge, Marble Palace, Kalighat, National Library, Nicco Park, Shaheed Minar, Writers Building, Victoria Memorial, Eden Gardens, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Dakshineshwar Temple, Diamond Harbour), Darjeeling (Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Natural History Museum, Toy Train, Japanese Peace Pagoda, Batasia Loop, Buddhist Monasteries, Tiger Hill and tea gardens), Murshidabad (Nawab’s Palace, Katra Mosque, Khushbagh Cemetery, Moti Jheel), Bankura (Bishnupur temple, Mukutmanipur lake), Shantiniketan (Vishwa Bharti University), Sunderbans Delta, Digha, Shankarpur and Bakkhali.
CAPITAL – Kolkata | WEBSITE – http://westbengaltourism.gov.in
THE ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS is an archipelago of more than 572 islands that offer peace, nature and beauty at its very best. The hues spill over into local forms of handicrafts made from corals and seashells.
PLACES TO VISIT Andaman (Cellular Jail National Memorial, Ross Island, Viper Island, Niel Island, Mayabunder, Long Island, Little Andaman Island) Port Blair (Chidiya Tapu, Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Madhuban), Nicobar (Katchal, Car Nicobar, Great Nicobar).
CAPITAL – PORT BLAIR | WEBSITE – HTTP://TOURISM.ANDAMAN.NIC.IN
Experience the spiritual magnetism exuded by various destinations that were landmarks in Gautama Buddha’s journey to the truth. It starts with Bodhgaya (Bihar), where prince Siddhartha sat under the ‘Bodhi tree’, saw the first glimpse of light and achieved enlightenment. Primary points of homage are the Mahabodhi temple; the vajrasan throne donated by King Ashoka, the Bodhi tree, animeshlochana chaitya, ratnachankramana, ratnagaraha, the ajapala nigrodha tree, the muchhalinda lake and the rajyatna tree.
Sarnath (near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh) witnessed the first-ever sermon given by the Buddha after achieving enlightenment. The magnificent dhamekha stupa at Sarnath was originally erected by King Ashoka, as was the famous lion capital pillar, now a symbol of the Indian nation. Lord Buddha’s journey ended at Kushinagar (near Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh), where he attained mahaparinirvan in 543 bc. Kushinagar is home to the famous mukatanabandhana stupa and the reclining Buddha statue that dates back to the Gupta period. Other places of significance include Vaishali (near Patna, Bihar), Rajgir and Nalanda University (near Bodhgaya, Bihar) and Shravasti (150 km from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh).