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Top 10 Forts to visit in India Part II

One of the popular travel themes in India is the majestic forts in India several of whom have been inscribed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites for their cultural significance and place they hold in India history and heritage. A land ruled by various Rajput warrior princes, Nizams, Sultans and emperors, there are a number of mighty impregnable forts in India to visit. These living legends are sprinkled across the length and breadth of the country.

But then again there are only so much time for you to visit these forts in a go. So in continuation of our earlier list of top 10 forts in India to visit, we bring to you the part II of the list to make it easier for you to pick and choose the fort you should travel to especially if you are looking for a cultural experience and historical perspective in India.

Bekal Fort, Kasargod

Bekal Fort in Kerala
Bekal Fort in Kasargod, Kerala
Wrought like a giant-key hole, Bekal Fort is one of the largest and best preserved forts in Kerala. Encompassed by a spectacular beach, this historical fort offers a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea from its massive towers.

Today, the Bekal Fort and its surroundings, which include backwaters, hill destinations and water sport facilities, is a popular shooting locale for film-makers.

There are several beliefs regarding the construction of Bekal Fort. It is also believed that the fort was built in 1650 AD by Sivappa Naik of the Ikkeri dynasty. There is another story which says that the fort was originally built by Kolathiri Rajas and later captured by Sivappa Naik.

Some important features of this fort include tank with its flight of steps, the tunnel opening towards the south and the magazine for keeping ammunition.

Taragarh Fort, Bundi

Taragarh Fort, Bundi Rajasthan
Taragarh Fort in Bundi, Rajasthan
Bundi is one of the most unexplored cities in Rajasthan with a rich historical heritage. It is encompassed by the Aravalli Hills on three sides and is framed by a massive wall with four gateways.

The famous Taragarh Fort, also known as Star Fort, is one of the lesser known forts in India. Taragarh Fort was the home of a major princely state at the height of the Rajput glory days.

Built in 1354 with imposing stone structure, this fort is located on a steep hill and has massive walls and ramparts. It has been raised to a height of 500 meters from the top of a hill built by Rao Singh Bar. The fort welcomes travelers with a huge door.

Inside the fort, tourists can see the Bhim Burj, the largest platform and a huge water tank, cut into solid rock. There are three gateways to the fort, well-known as Lakshmi Pol, Gagudi ki Phatak and Phuta Darwaza.

Lohagarh Fort, Bharatpur

Lohagarh Fort in Bharatpur in Rajasthan
Lohagarh Fort in Bharatpur, Rajasthan
Also known as the Iron Fort, the Lohagarh Fort was constructed in the 18th century in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. This invincible fort was built by Maharaja Suraj Mal. It is situated amidst calm and serene surroundings and encompassed by lush green vegetation and a man-made island.

The Lohagarh Fort was able to withstand the repeated attacks from the British forces led by Lord Lake in 1805 when they laid a siege for more than 6 weeks. After losing more than 3000 soldiers, the British forces had to retreat and strike a compromise with the Bharatpur rulers.

Tourist who wishes to visit the fort can commute by means of the local transport available. However, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is hogging all the limelight, and therefore; Lohagarh is often dubbed as the lesser visited forts in India.

Tiruchirapalli Rock Fort, Trichy

Tiruchirapalli Rock Fort in Tamil Nadu
Rock Fort Temple in Trichy, Tamil Nadu
Also known as Ucchi Pillayar Koil, Tiruchirapalli Rock Fort is a combination of two famous 7th century Hindu temples in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, one dedicated to Lord Ganesha and the other dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The rock is said to be around 3,800 million years, which makes it as older than the Himalayas. The biggest part of the work to carve out the rock and associated temple construction took 300 men 11 years of effort.

The fort played an important part during the Carnatic wars and immensely contributed to the foundations of the British Empire in India. The Rock Fort is believed to be 230 crore years old and materials such as quartz & feldspar are found in rock formation.

Bandhavgarh Fort, Bandhavgarh

Bandhavgarh Fort in Bandhavgarh, Madhya Pradesh
Bandhavgarh Fort in Bandhavgarh
Located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh Fort is situated atop of the Bandhavgarh hill. The road to the complex leads through Shesh Shaiya a fairy tale spectacle of miniature waterfalls, vertically hanging ferns and an ancient pool. In order to visit Bandhavgarh Fort, you require a prior permission from the authority.

There is a mythological history that Lord Rama, while returning to Ayodhya after defeating the demon king Ravana, built a fort and ordered Lakshmana to keep an eye over Lanka. The fort has a complex history but today it is popular as the land of the tigers.

They can be seen on some occasion during the climb up. This fort is an excellent breeding ground for all animals due to its isolation from human commotion.

Chunar Fort, Uttar Pradesh

Chunar Fort, Uttar Pradesh
Chunar Fort in Uttar Pradesh
Nestled on the banks of River Ganges, Chunar Fort is located at a height of 80 to 175 feet from the ground level. It is the prime attraction of Chunar town. The fort stands on a rock at an elevation of 280 feet above sea level.

The fort was established by the king of Ujjain, Maharaja Vikramaditya to commemorate the stay of his brother Raja Bhartihari who had taken his Samadhi in a live stage.

The fort has witnessed the rule of three Mughal Emperors-Babur, Humayun and Akbar before it was passed to the Nawabs of Awadh in the 18th century. One can also find a stone umbrella inside the fort, which was built by King Sahadeo to commemorate his victory over 52 rulers.

Bidar Fort, Karnataka

Bidar Fort, Karnataka
Bidar Fort in Karnataka
Situated in Bidar district of Karnataka, Bidar Fort is one of the most popular tourist spots in the state. The structure of this fort exhibits the Persian style of architecture. Several mosques, gardens, arches and palaces were built inside and outside the fort complex.

As per documented facts, the Bidar Fort was built in the 15th century. It came into prominence with the Sultanate regime. The main façade of the Bidar Fort was built by Bahamani Sultan Ahmed Shah Wali in 1429 AD.

Later on, renovations and modifications were carried out by Barid Shahi Sultans. It was lastly conquered by the Mughal King Aurangzeb.

The layout of the fort is in quadrangular shape. Most of the structures of the fort have got ruined with the passage of time, yet the remains are very well conserved.

Some of the popular remains in the fort include Solah Khamba Mosque, Gagan Mahal, Rangin Mahal and Zenana Palace among others. Other highlights of this fort include Lal Bagh, Watch Tower, Takhat Mahal and Deewan-e-Aam.

Tughlaqabad Fort, Delhi

Tughlaqabad Fort in Delhi
Tughlaqabad Fort in Delhi
Perched atop of a rocky hill, Tughlaqabad Fort comprises 1/3rd of New Delhi. The ramparts of this fort, now in ruins, are from 10 meter to 15 meter high with bastions and gateways. A visit to this hill fort in Delhi could amount to a memorable day trip with the legends, stories and curse that have been attributed with this place.

It was built to serve a dual purpose, one of providing a defensive structure to the ruler and second to serve as his imposing capital. Although the heritage of New Delhi is quite touristy, you may find a few people visiting Tughlaqabad Fort, and therefore it is often considered as lesser known forts in India.

The fort was built in the early part of the 14th century by Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq. Before Tughlaq had acquired that title, he came to be known as Ghazi Malik and served Sultan Mubarak Khilji.

The idea of constructing this fort came to Ghias ud Din Tughlaq during a conversation with Khilji Tughlaq suggested that his master should build himself a fortress here to which Khilji replied that perhaps one day when Tughlaq becomes Sultan, he should build the fortress himself.

The fort was built with the idea to keep Mongol invaders at bay. Besides, Tughlaq also built a road that came to be known as the GT Road. Today along with the tomb of Ghiyath-ud-Din Tughlaq is one of the top places to visit in Delhi especially if you are looking for a cultural and heritage experience.

The entrance to Tughlaqabad Fort is chargeable. For Adults who are Indian citizens, the cost is Rs. 5. For foreign visitors, the cost of the ticket is around Rs. 100. Entry for children up to 15 years of age is free. You could also take Delhi Metro's Violet Line and alight at Tughlaqabad Metro Station to reach this fort.
[ Read more about Tughlaqabad Fort ]

Daulatabad Fort, Devagiri

Daulatabad Fort in Devagiri, Maharashtra
Daulatabad Fort in Devagi
Daulatabad, the fort city in Maharashtra, is located at a distance of 16 kilometers northwest of Aurangabad. It was earlier known as Devgiri. The hill fortress stands on a conical hill, at a height of 200 meters.

Initially it was built as Yadav stronghold, later; it was passed through the hands of several dynasties in the Deccan. The name ‘Daulatabad’ was given by Muhammad Tughlaq, Sultan of Delhi.

When Muhammad Tughlaq ascended the throne of Delhi, he was so besotted by the fort that he decided to move his court and capital there, renaming it Daulatabad (the City of Fortune).

It is one of the world’s best preserved forts, without ever being distorted. This fort is an example of architectural mastery even in those times.

[ Read more about Daulatabad Fort ]

The Hill Fort Kesroli, Alwar

The Hill Fort Kesroli in Alwar, Rajasthan
The Hill Fort in Kesroli in Alwar
The Hill Fort Kesroli is a 14th century Fort  located in Alwar, Rajasthan in India. This heritage hotel belongs to the Neemrana Hotels Group. It was built six centuries ago by the Yaduvanshi Rajputs. The seven turreted Forts have changed hands many a times.

It has been conquered by the Mughals and the Jats. The part of Rajasthan where the fort is situated is a wonderful place for the ornithologists and zoologist amateur who wants to discover the wildlife in India.

[Interested in forts and palaces tours, check out these packages at Indianholiday.com

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Tirupati Balaji Temple, Andhra Pradesh: A Travel Guide

Tirupati Balaji is India's most visited religious shrine. Every year millions of devotees pay visit to this revered shrine in the Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is renowned for the Sri Venkateshwara Temple dedicated to lord Vishnu, who is also called by several names like Balaji in the North and Govinda in South India. The Lord Sri Venkehwara is the all pervading Lord of the universe.

Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple, Andra Pradesh
Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple in  Chittoor, Andra Pradesh

One of the top 10 temples of India, Tirupati Balaji is placed at the top of the Tirumala hills, while the town lies at the foothills. The Tirumala Hill has seven peaks, which is said to represent the seven hoods of a serpent underneath where Vishnu resides. The area has the peaceful and religious air about it; the pilgrims come to the temple with lofty faiths. 

Location: Tirupati is located in the Chittoor  District  of Andra Pradesh at the foothills of the Eastern Ghats, and the temple of Sri Venkateshwarya is placed on the seventh peak Venkatachala.The temple lies on the Southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini.

Who built it: Unfortunately, there are no records of the origin of the Temple, but was maintained and upgraded by various dynasties in the past. The temple is patronized by the Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas and later kings of Mysore.

How to reach:  Tirupati Airport is 15 km from the city center and offers several domestic flights. The closest International flight is in Chennai (130 km) from Tirupati.

The major railway station is the Tirupati Main; the trains take you to major cities like Chennai. Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kochi and more.

One of the largest bus station (Sri Hari) is one of the largest in the state, which has direct bus service to the nearby towns and big cities. There are many government operating services too.

Best time to visit: Almost all the seasons are favourable for you to visit Tirupati. However, if you want to experience the place in its full swing, the best time would be to go during the festival time. Especially the festival of Brahmotsavam, celebrated around Diwali (October) is a good option. Also, when you are there, it is better you go early for your services to God because of the crowd.

Interesting Facts:
  • One of the legends behind the worshiping of Lord Vishnu is that the temple houses a deity of Lord Venkateshwarya (Vishnu) which is believed to remain there until the end of the present era or Kali Yuga. It is further believed that by worshipping him we will attain mukti or salvation.
  • Tripura has several temples and is a major economical and educational hub in south. It is one of the richest pilgrimage centers.
  • The Tirumala Hill is 853m above sea level and is about 10.33 square miles. 
  • It is believed that About 50,000 pilgrims’ visit the temple every day and during the festivals like, yearly Brahmotsavam the number of pilgrims is almost 500,000. 
  • The celebrated festivals are Vaishnava festivals, Rama Navami, Janmasthtami . while the most important festival celebrated each year is Brahmotsavam.
  • Tirupati is regarded as one of the oldest temples which were mentioned in Puranas and the Shastras.              
  • Tirumala, the name is derived from the terms, Tiru means Holy and mala means hills, therefore the holy mountains.
  • There are several deities in the temple like Dhruva Beram, Bhoga Srinivasa, Ugra Srinavasa and many more.
  • The temple bares several inscriptions that are of historical, linguistic and cultural importance.
  • In the temple, the devotees shave their head as an offering to the God, the daily collection of the hair amounts to almost a ton. These hairs are later sold in auctions to international buyers who turn them into extensions.
  • The thuylabharam offering is done in the temple, where a devotee sits on a weighing balance scale and has to offer materials heavier than his weight.
Places of Interest: 
  • An archeological museum, Chandragiri Fort.
  • SV Zoological park (the second largest zoo in Asia).
  • Jungle book Biological Park.
  • Regional Science center and Planitarium.
  • There are many other temples that you can visit in Tirupati and Tirumala apart from the famous  Sri Venkateshwarya Temple.
  • Alamelu Mangapuram Temple.
  • Padmavathi Ammavari Temple.
  • Kapila Theertham (dedicated to lord Shiva ans Parvati).
  • Govindaraja swamy Temple and more.
Tirupati and Tirumala is a pilgrimage spot, offering you a visitation for a different experience altogether. The faith of the devotees and the chanting of the priests echoes around the hills of Tirumala. There is a feeling of utmost peace and serenity in the place.

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Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh: A Travel Guide

One of the best places to visit in Madhya Pradesh, Gwalior Fort is one of the oldest and resplendent fortresses in India. The fort came into prominence around 8th century under the rule of Rajput Tomar kings. This sprawling hill fort houses several structures of note that include 2 palaces, several temples and water tanks.

The fort's rule changed several hands that include Rajputs, Mamluks, Suris, Mughals, Marathas and British. To get a peek into the turbulent history and legends associated with Gwalior Fort, do attend the Son et Lumiere which is held every night at the open air amphitheater inside the fort complex.

Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh, India
Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh, India
Gwalior Fort, Travel Facts:

Location: Seated at the hilltop, around 100 meters above the city level, the fort  is around 7 km from the Gwalior railway station.

Built by: The fort is believed to have been built by Raja Man Singh Tomar, however, in the course of five hundred years the fort went from one ruler to another.

Built in: Gwalior Fort was built in the 8th-century.

Highlights: The fort consists of three temples, six palaces and numerous water tanks. It is 35 feet high and is about 2 miles in length.

How to reach: One can easily get to the fort from the city by bus, taxi, auto, rickshaw or even by walking if there is time.

Best time to visit: November- January.

Entry fee: INR 75 per head (adult); INR 40 per head (children); INR 250 per head (foreign tourist)

Standing on a steep mass of sandstone, Gwalior fort gives a clear view of the east of Gwalior. The fort comprises of two main palaces: Man Mandir and Gujari Mahal. Besides the main two palaces there are other recommended places like the Man Singh Palace, Jauhar Kund, Jahangir Mahal, Sahahjahan Mahal and more. The temples and the monuments are of different religion mostly Hindu and Jain.

Gwalior Fort is included in our list of top 10 forts in India. Check out the other top forts in India.

The fort’s dramatic entrance named the Hathi pul (elephant gate) is on the eastern side. A steep road winds upwards to the Fort, and along the way there are Jain sculptures cut into the rock which is well worth the climb.

History and Anecdotes: 

Gwalior's history is traced back to a legend. In 8 A.D, a chieftain called Suraj Sen was stricken by leprosy. Hermit saint, Gwalipa, cured him and in gratitude the chieftain founded the city which he named after the saint who had given him the gift of new life.

Gwalior Fort - History and Anecdotes
Over the centuries the city has been captured by many dynasties when slowly it became popular. The different rulers in the city brought about diversity and a new taste each time, which is evident in the architecture and designs till today.

The earliest record of the fort is  525 AD where it is mentioned in an inscription in the temple of the Hun. The fort was made to serve as a prison by the Mughals.  

It is believed that the Gujari Mahal is a momento of Raja Mansingh Tomar’s love for his Gujar Queen, Mrignayani. The palace is made beautifully and so is the other palace, Man Mandir with its outer walls are distinctively decorated with blue mosaic tiles and rows of yellow ducks.

The fort is a prominent landmark of the city as it stands upright and broad, it has served the purpose well during the times of battles, imprisonments and jauhars.

Some Interesting Facts about the Gwalior Fort:
  • The Fort is one of the biggest forts in India.
  • It covers an area of 3 square kilometers and is 35 feet high. 
  • There are eleven temples of Gautama Buddha and Tirthankars of Jainism.There are also a number of palaces (mahal).
  • There are two gates, one on the northeast side with a long access ramp and other on the southwest. The main entrance is the Elephant gate and the other is the Badalgarh Gate.
  • The water tanks or the reservoirs of the Fort could provide water to a 15000 strong garrison, they were required to secure the fort.
  • One of the palaces of the fort, Gujari Mahal has been converted into an archeological museum.
  • Every evening a light and sound show is presented in the Fort’s open amphitheater.
  • On the same hill is the famous boarding school, which is exclusive for the sons of princes and nobles, Scindia School. It was founded by Madho Rao Scindia in 1897.
  • There are many festivals and fairs that take place in Gwalior during the winter seasons: Gwalior Annual Trade Fair is famous to experience the native culture and for shopping.
  • Tansen Music Festival, is held in honor of Tansen who was from the city.This festival ensures you a journey of Indian classical music.
  • Gwalior Carnival, which started recently by the tourism department of the city is an event that includes various activities like dance, music, food, spiritual camps and sports.
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Best Places to Visit in August in India

There is certainly no doubt that India is a land of diversity. Diversity is often depicted through culture, language and much more. During monsoons, people prefer staying indoors fearing mud smeared clothes, slippers and continuous sneezing during rains. August is considered to be the busiest holiday month of the year. Airports, railway stations are crowded, resorts are hot and prices tend to be high.  

Speaking about destinations, there are multiple places to visit, according to the season, purpose, budget and mood. What you need is a reason for a break to explore the versatility of the land known as India. From the snow desert of Ladakh to golden sand dunes of Rajasthan and from the laidback ambience to Kovalam beach to history telling ruins of Nalanda University. The beautiful ambience that monsoon creates is highly attractive for travelers from India and abroad. Here’s the list of top places to visit in India during August for your kind perusal.

1. Mount Abu- A Scenic Place amidst Desert

 Mount Abu- A Scenic Place amidst Desert
Mount Abu - the Scenic hill station in the deserts of Rajasthan
Being a popular hill station in Rajasthan, Mount Abu, although round the year visiting place, however, it is eye catching to watch this charming destination when clouds cover up the sky and water drops come down to the earth.  There are innumerable temples scattered all around the place. Naturalists just can’t afford to miss the astonishing views of sunset point and a mind-boggling water boat ride on Nakki Lake. 

                                       [ Also check out 5 best hill stations in India ]

2. Periyar National Park – Wildlife Treasure of South India

Periyar National Park – Wildlife Treasure of South India
Elephants in Periyar National Park
One of the finest national parks in southern India, Periyar National Park extends around the banks of a huge artificial lake. The park is known for its magnificent elephants and you can take a 30 minute elephant rides through the jungle. The best time to visit this park is the cooler and drier months of October to February. However, the aroma of the moist vegetation during the monsoon gives it a special appeal. 

[Read more about Periyar National Park]

3. Lonavala- Monsoon Magic for Mumbaikars

 Lonavala- Monsoon Magic for Mumbaikars
Lonavala - A very popular place for hill station and curvy roads
Situated in the Pune district of Maharashtra, Lonavala is a great destination for holidaying during Monsoons. It is quite famous across India for the Chikki they produce. Those who are based in Mumbai can easily get local trains to Kajrat and then further go to Lonavala. 

 [Don't miss-out to plan for monsoon holidays in India]

It is the most sought after weekend destination for the Mumbaikars. During monsoons, especially August, this place is thronged by the tourists. There are extraordinary attractions in Lonavala and the sceneries in the hill station are breathtaking. Lonavala has been a hotspot for the shooting of Bollywood movies. 

[ Plan your holiday and customized Hill Station Tour Packages at Indian Holiday]

4. Mandu - Honeymoon and Adventure at Once

Mandu- Honeymoon and Adventure at Once
Jahaz Mahal, Mandu
The perfect destination for honeymoon as well as a place for adventure loving people, Mandu is famously known for the great love story of Baaz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati, which even today fills the air of Mandu. It turns all green in monsoons and is thus called the ‘City of Joy’. Mandu is a sublime amalgam of Hindu, Jain and Islamic architecture. During August (monsoon), Mandu is one of the best places to visit. The natural surroundings are in full bloom during this time. 
[ You may also like to read more about Mandu ]               

5. Pondicherry- Touch of French Culture

Pondicherry- Touch of French Culture
Pondicherry - “A little piece of Medieval France in India"
When you move down towards the beautiful and picturesque East Coast Road, you come across Pondicherry approximately 160 kilometers south of Chennai. The tourism in this state offers a great opportunity to explore the glorious charms of this Union territory. It comprises of diverse attractions such as churches, mosques, historical monuments and palm-fringed beaches. Taste some good food, cooked in traditional style, and drink some fine variety of wine. 

[ Also check out the Top 10 Beaches in India ]

6. Kumarakom- Enjoy the Natural Beautie

Kumarakom- Enjoy the Natural Beautie
House boat on Vembanad lake in Kerala
One of the most important tourist destinations in Kerala, Kumarakom is equally fascinating during monsoons except for cruising. Cruising is prohibited during those times. Also, the Vembanad Lake surrounding the town has many natural beauties in store for you. It is quite famous all over the world for its wide variety of houseboats. There are various other types of boats available for cruising such as rice boat, snake boat, Odi Vallam, Iruttukutthi Vallam and Churulan Vallam.

7. Jog Falls- Gushes in Color White

Jog Falls- Gushes in Color White
Jog Falls - the second-highest plunge waterfall in India
Situated in Shimoga district, on the Sharavathi River, Jog Falls tumbles down from a height of 253 meters. This waterfall is also known as Geruoppe Falls, Gersoppa Falls and Jogada Gundi. The importance of this waterfall is that the water does not tumble down the rocks in a tiered fashion. The beauty of the waterfalls is enhanced by the lush green surroundings, which provides a scenic backdrop to the falls.

8. Malshej Ghat- Hit with Adventure Enthusiasts

 Malshej Ghat- Hit with Adventure Enthusiasts
Nestled beautifully in the Western Ghats, Malshej Ghat is quite a big hit among the tourists seeking tranquility and natural beauty. It is one of the most famous places in Pune district. The lush greenery and the breezy weather alongside the meandering waterfalls look like a natural phenomena in the month of August. The Flamingoes are the main attraction in the region and undeniably a haven for tourists, trekkers and hikers. It offers excellent opportunities for rock climbers and trekkers. 

[Also check out some of the popular weekend getaways from Mumbai]

9. Vasota Fort,  Satara- Mishmash of History and Nature

Vasota Fort,  Satara- Mishmash of History and Nature
Vasota Fort,  Satara
Located in the state of Maharashtra, Satara is lined with amazing temples and forts. Located around 3,000 feet high, this fort provides a defense from the advancing enemy. Visiting Satara during monsoons offers you a much-needed respite from the heat. If you love the rains, monsoons (August) are the best time to be in Satara and enjoy the scenic locales in the region. It brims with a rich heritage that dates back to the glorious past. The quintessential tourist will get to explore the forts and wildlife sanctuaries. 

[Book your hotel during monsoon holiday at IndianHoliday.com]

10. Shirdi - Abode of Sai Baba

Shirdi - Abode of Sai Baba

A prominent pilgrimage center, Shirdi is best known as the home to the popular Guru Shirdi Sai Baba. The town is merely 296 kilometers away from Mumbai and thus is an ideal holiday destination for Mumbaikars. The region has a temple built at the famous spot related to the sage’s life and thus remains flanked by hordes of devotees throughout the year. 

[ You may also be interested in finding out the most visited temple in India


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Udhampur to Katra Train Flagged off by PM Narendra Modi

Udhampur to Katra Train
PM Narendra Modi flagged off new train from Udhampur to Katra
The inauguration of the Katra-Udhampur railway line will bring an even higher devotees’ turnout to the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi. The train, that was flagged off by the honorable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, will take pilgrims to the Vaishno Devi base camp at Katra.

"I congratulate the crores of devotees of Mata Vaishno Devi, who want to come here for pilgrimage from all across the country," Modi said while dedicating the train to the nation.

The prime minister said the new rail link will speed up the process of development in the state.

"The journey started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be continued... our priority is to win the hearts of every citizen of this state through development," Modi said.

Modi said the train is a gift not just for people of Jammu and Kashmir but for the whole of India.

At the function at the Katra station where Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was among others present, the prime minister refrained from touching upon any political issue facing the state.

The prime minister also allayed the fears of the people of Jammu, who feel that the direct rail link to Katra will have negative impact on the development of their city, saying the "development of Jammu will not be stalled."

A set of local trains from Jammu to Katra and Pathankot to Katra is also likely to be introduced to cater to the rush of Vaishno Devi pilgrims. An estimated 10 million devotees visit the shrine every year.

Railway Protection Force (RPF) has been stationed at vulnerable locations all along the track in protected bunkers to maintain round-the-clock vigil.

[ Don’t Miss-out & have a look at Maa Vaishno Devi Tour Packages ] 

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