All posts filed under: India

List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: West Bengal | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: West Bengal

The essence of life in West Bengal is captured in its handicrafts, festivals, wildlife, literature, and architecture. The Durga Puja celebrations in the state are like nowhere else in India. And almost all Indian celebrations and occasions are incomplete without centuries old handicrafts, traditions and rituals. The handicrafts industry of West Bengal is well known across the entire nation. Here’s my list of some of the most beautiful handicrafts in West Bengal that would add grace and beauty to your home decor.   1. Bengal Masks Masks in Bengal have quite a mysterious history. Nobody knows how or why they came into tradition and became an inseparable part of handicrafts in West Bengal culture. People wear these, somewhat gloomy somewhat vibrant, masks during folk dances and traditional rituals. These masks often depict deities/characters from tribal folktales and mythological stories like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Hindu-purans,etc. Different regions and communities of Bengal have distinct styles/types of masks, and use different materials for making them. And you would find tribal masks made of all kinds of materials like wood, …

List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Gujarat | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Gujarat

The essence of life in Gujarat is in its cuisine, heritage sites, museums, and temples. The Rann Utsav and Navratri celebrations in the state are truly unmatched. Both of them have Gujarati style, traditional wear in common. The textile industry of Gujarat is renowned not just in India, but abroad as well. Here’s my list of some of the most beautiful handicrafts in Gujarat that would add grace to your wardrobe, and souvenirs that I’m sure you’d love to have.   1. Bandhani  Bandhani is a tie-dying technique, which derives its name from the Hindi word bandhan which essentially means “the bond” or “tying”. It used to be the prime choice for bridal dresses in traditional Gujarati weddings, however, things are changing pretty fast now.  This labor-intensive handicraft demands time and expertise. In fact, some sarees with intricate patterns often take somewhere between 6 to 10 months for completion, sometimes even more. The workers mark specific areas or points on fabric that are then covered in wax or other kind of materials that resist dye. These points …

Top 5 Indian Beaches for Surfing | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Top 5 Indian Beaches for Surfing

Since you are here, I assume you enjoy surfing as much as I am interested in writing this blog post. Water sports and rides like parasailing/bumper rides have always thrilled me, but honestly I’ve never tried surfing or other “solo water sports” kind of things. Reason is me being so damn careless and rash that I find only the assisted sports safe enough. However, surfing those high tides is definitely on my bucket list, and so is scuba diving (maybe I should write about that someday).   1. Surfing Fest in Kovalam Village Tamil Nadu is home to some of the finest beaches in India, especially for surfing. Kovalam village (or Covelong Village) in Tamil Nadu is on the top of this list for its annual Covelong Point surf, yoga & music festival where some of the best artists and surfers of the country come together to have some fun together. The fest (usually organized in the month of august) includes surfing competitions, slack-lining, paddle boarding, food stalls, and what not. They also offer some …

List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Rajasthan | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Rajasthan

The state of Rajasthan is known for its rulers, their royal history, brave battles they fought, their magnificent forts, exquisite cuisine and what not. There’s so much I wish to write about Rajasthan. So, here I am, coming up with my list of some of the most elegant handicrafts in Rajasthan that I’m sure you’d love to have. Here you go–   1. Block Printing Handicrafts in Rajasthan This style of handicrafts in Rajasthan includes teak/sheesham wood blocks with carefully hand-carved details. Dipped in color, these blocks are used to stamp cotton fabrics. Some villages in Rajasthan are home to people whose only job is to keep this traditional art alive and thriving. The chippas caste of the Bagru village who has been doing this for three centuries now, is one such example.   The color dyes used in the past were based on plant and other natural substances. Now that the times have changed so much, industrial textile dyes are preferred for the same. However, there are still some areas where you might find …

List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Assam | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Assam

Assam is known for its vibrant waterfalls, mesmerizing bamboo forests, and vast stretches of tea plantation. True essence of its culture and traditions are captured in Assamese festivals, native lifestyle and traditional handicrafts. Here’s my list of some of the most pivotal handicrafts in Assam that I’m sure you’d love to have as souvenirs. Here you go–   1. Terracotta Handicrafts in Assam Handicrafts industry of Assam is popular for its terracotta works. Mix sand and clay together in right proportions, shape it, give details and then bake till a brownish red color appears. And you end up with a beautiful terracotta art piece.    Artists generally give shape to the mixture with their bare hands, and then use a variety of tools for careful detailing. Like most other regions of India, Assam also has communities solely dedicated to handicrafts industry. Kumara and Hiras are two such communities in terracotta and pottery crafts. Art pieces of all shapes and sizes are easily available in local markets. However, demand for some works is so high that …

Best Travel Books to Know More about India | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Best Travel Books to Know More about India

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO INDIA The Rough Guide books are considered one of the best travel guides across the globe. Some actually believe Rough Guide are as good as Lonely Planet travel books. A good travel book, I believe, must be absolutely unbiased; and this series fulfills the criteria very well. Rough Guide to India talks about Bollywood, culture, cuisine, history, religion and much more. Buy on Amazon   LONELY PLANET TRAVEL BOOKS  Do I really need to include this? Because Lonely Planet is quite obvious. Lonely Planet is one of the most travel books around the globe.  Lonely Planet talks about incomprehensibly varying culture of India, places to eat that fit in your not-so-glorious budget and the information about nice places to stay without going broke, places to shop, arts and festivals in India. Buy on Amazon also read: Kannauj— The Perfume Capital of India   NINE LIVES Nine people, nine lives, nine different paths, nine different stories!! Nine Lives, unlike most travel books narrates stories of nine people in India.  William Darlymple (the author), inspired by his experiences …

Purana Qila — Old Fort in Delhi

Purana Qila — Old Fort in Delhi

Purana Qila in New Delhi On the banks of river Yamuna, the Purana Qila (Old fort) in Delhi narrates the history of Delhi. Purana Qila is believed to be built by Pandavas in the ancient city Indraprastha of the Mahabharata. From the deceit of Pandavas to the establishment of Sur Empire by Sher Shah Suri to the Mughlas and Britishers conquering the  land of India and the brave freedom fighters laying their lives for independence of India; the fort has seen it all. The current form of Purana Qila was constructed in 16 century. Excavation carried out by ASI (Archaelogical Survey of India) in 1955 (again in 1973) unearthed 3000 years old Painted Grey Ware. Architecture of Purana Qila Purana Qila reflects Persian influence in its architecture. The 18 metres high walls of the building traverse about 1.5 km have three Darwazas (Gateways). Purana Qila is one of the largest building built exclusively with red sandstone. Gates of Purana Qila The three Darwazas (gateways) of Purana Qila depict a blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture style. All …

Kannauj - The Perfume Capital of India

Kannauj— The Perfume Capital of India

Kannauj Kannauj, (a small town in Uttar Pradesh, India) also known as The Perfume Capital of India has been extracting natural fragrances & putting them into bottles. For thousands of years, Kannauj has been manufacturing & trading a variety of uncommon fragrances. Nearly 75000 people in kannauj are involved in the ittar industry in one way or another. The skill of making natural perfumes has been passed down for many generations. Most ‘recipes’ are secret & not disclosed to outsiders.   Monsoon in a bottle The main reason behind popularity of this town is its mitti ittar— the sweet, mesmerizing scent of rain we all love. Just imagine capturing the aroma of rain and wet soil afterwards in a bottle. For people who love rains, it’s monsoon in a bottle 😉 The town has been turning rains into perfumes for thousands of years. Kannauj has a history of trading premium ittar with midddle eastern countries about 300 years ago under the reign of Shah Jahan in India. Making Ittar (perfume) in Kannauj are made from flowers like white jasmine, agarwood, rose, …

5 Best Beaches in Goa for Foreigners

5 Best Beaches in Goa for Foreigners

What is more relaxing than a glass of wine, waves, sunset and a peaceful ambiance? Nothing, I guess. You want to enjoy beach, beer and water sports or you love to read books by silent sea shores while sipping on some fine wine, Goa is the place for you.Whether it’s the exciting night-life or peaceful yoga retreats, Goa has it all. Here’s the list of best beaches in Goa to spend time and absorb into the life of Goa— 1. Morjim Beach On the far-north side of Goa, foreign travelers love Morjim. Because of the lesser Indian crowd, the beach is quieter than most others in Goa.  Beach bars & shacks are quite affordable. There is a turtle nesting site nearby this beach. You might see some Olive Ridley sea turtles around. With almost no water sports or shouting hawkers and vendors, Morjim beach becomes one of the finest beaches in Goa for you to relax and spend quality time peacefully. Enjoy the beautiful sugary-white sand & boundless sea in front of you.   2. Colva …

Agrasen ki Baoli: Black Water that claimed many lives

Agrasen ki Baoli: Black Water that claimed many lives

Agrasen ki Baoli Not-so-popular historical site Agrasen ki Baoli amid high-rise buildings and residential apartments of Hailey Road (New Delhi) is in absolute contrast to the modern world around and it dates back to the Mahabharat era. This baoli (step-well) was originally built by the mighty ruler Maharaja Agrasen, then rebuilt by the Aggrawal Community in 14th century considering being the descendants of the Maharaja Agrasen. Agrasen ki Baoli now stands built in Mughal architecture style, suggesting that it was renovated in Tughlaq period. The Baoli is now under ASI (archaeological Survey of India) which designates it as a Protected Monument.    Restoration The Baoli, 60 metres long and 15 metres wide with 104 steps, was constructed to store and preserve Rain-water and groundwater. Because of its renovation in Tughlaq  period, the Baoli have Mughal Architecture designs. The Baoli was full of water till the 70s, but urbanization around, the water level went down and a dry reservoir was all left behind. But in 2002, as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) cleared three metres …

Badami Caves: Ruins of Magnificent Past | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Badami Caves: Ruins of Magnificent Past

Badami Caves— The picturesque town of Badami (in Bagalkot district of Karnataka) is renowned for its Badami Caves Temples. These monumental caves are carved out of red-stoned mountains. Badami caves are a pantheon of Hindu divinities. Badami was once capital of the mighty Chalukya Empire. The Chalukya dynasty ruled the land of Karnataka from 6th to 8th century. The Badami Chalukya era was an important period in the development of South Indian architecture. Their style of architecture is called “Chalukyan architecture” or “Karnata Dravida architecture”. Badami caves are a masterpiece of Indian rock-cut architecture. Almost 100 monuments built by them are found in the Malaprabha river basin Bagalkot. The building material they used was reddish-golden Sandstone found locally. Color of these sandstones is similar to color of almonds (called Badam in Hindi), giving them the name “Badami Caves”. Badami caves have many paintings on walls and ceilings, categorized as Fresco painting. A fresco is painted onto plaster that is fresh. The plaster has been laid on the wall that day and is still damp. Badami caves are among the …

Heritage Hotels in India: Luxury Redefined

Heritage Hotels in India: Luxury Redefined

Many palaces and historical buildings are turned into luxury hotels for better care of the buildings. Heritage hotels in India definitely redefine luxury. Here’s a list of best Heritage Hotels in India—   Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur Formerly Jag Niwas Palace, The Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur is one of the best heritage hotels in India. The Lake Palace on the island of Jag Niwas in Lake Pichola (Udaipur), built in 1746 under the directions of the Maharana Jagat Singh II as a winter palace, was taken over by The Taj Group of hotels in 1971. also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Rajasthan   Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur Being one of the largest residency of royal families in the world, Umaid Bhavan Palace in Jodhpur is synonymous to luxury wrapped in heritage and Indian tradition. The palace is managed by Taj Group of Hotels since 1972. Foundation stone laid in 1929 in order to provide employment to the famine-stricken farmers of Jodhpur, it took 14 years to complete the construction in the year 1943. The …

City Guide: Mysore — The City of Palaces

City Guide: Mysore — The City of Palaces

Mysore — The City of Palaces, once ruled by Wodeyar dynasty is now known for its royal history, architecturally masterpiece palaces and beautiful gardens. The city is settled at the bottom of Chamundi Hills. Mysore in last few years has been booming with tourists (especially foreigners). Here’s the City Guide to Mysore that shall help you plan your trip and make that a memory worth remembering forever.   Places to Visit in Mysore: Mysore Palace Intricately carved rosewood doors and ceilings some with inlaid ivory work, marble figurines, collections of caskets, paintings of the members of the royal family exhibit such opulence, though age as worn them out a bit with slight discoloration. On Sundays and national holidays between 7:00 PM to 7:45 PM the palace is illuminated by close to 100,000 bulbs! Out side of the palace, photography is allowed for INR 50 for Indian nationals and INR 200 (3$) for foreigners.   Lalit Mahal Palace Located near the Chamundi Hills, Lalit Mahal Palace (now a five star hotel) of Mysore is an elegant palace painted in …