12:03 pm By Divya Mistry With summer here, most of us would have planned trips to cool off and enjoy the holidays and weather. And most of love travelling and exploring new places and the foods and sights, but one of the challenges that most of us face is staying healthy and avoiding falling sick while on a vacation or even when travelling for work. This aspect can be tricky due to long journeys, jet lags, difference in weather, and eating out and eating a varied range of cuisine every day. But this can be avoided and you can enjoy your trip and make the most out of it by using a few clever hacks to avoid falling sick. Eat healthier While travelling, it goes without saying that every meal is going to be out. Every one of us loves exploring the local cuisine of the place and no vacation is complete without sampling at least the famous dishes of the place that you are in. But there is an option to cut eating out less. You could opt for home stays and rooms that have kitchens and try to make at least one meal a day to ensure that you don’t have a drastic shift in your diet that could lead to something like an upset tummy. Try swinging by a grocery store in the area to stock up on fruits, yogurts, cold meals and a few basic ingredients. This way you can ensure staying fit and enjoying the food as well. Aid yourself Even if you eat healthy and make yourself a meal once a day, there is still a chance of catching a virus or some cold due to weather changes, fatigue from travelling, etc. Keep some generic medicines and ointments with you as a prevention in case you feel yourself coming down with a cold or fever. Additionally keep some mosquito repellent spray or cream with you and ensure that you don’t leave the room without applying it. Exercise Today most people are health conscious and have a daily exercise regime. But one of the basic misconceptions when at another place is that you cannot follow your routine. Your exercise doesn’t have to suffer even if there is no gym around. You just have to be a little more creative or follow a different set of exercise. You can do breathing exercises, running and walking at any place. Even when travelling in a vehicle during a long journey, you can always halt the car at various intervals and step out to stretch and walk a bit to ensure that you don’t get cramps or a body ache later. Stay hydrated Always carry a bottle of water wherever you go. Make it an essential that you cannot leave without. No matter what the season, it is important to stay hydrated. Especially when you are going to go sightseeing and a lot of physical activity is involved, it helps keeping a water bottle with you to avoid dizziness and fatigue. With summer starting, you’ll need more liquids in your body. Apart from a water bottle, you can carry fresh lime soda or various fruit juices for a glucose rush if you feel tired and sweaty as this will rejuvenate you in no time and you can enjoy and carry on with your plans. Munch on healthy snacks A lot of people might have various diet restrictions and maintaining that diet is also a main concern for many of us. But this can be easily taken care of by stocking up and taking dry, healthy foods like granola bars, dry fruits, energy bars, low calorie cookies, etc. You can opt for healthier foods when eating out. A lot of places will customise the dish as per your dietary requirements if you ask them to. Additionally there are many places that also have options of making and customising every ingredient of your meal. Pre-planning and preparing thoroughly always helps and is foolproof to make your trip a happy and memorable one.
01:02 pm Travelling to certain places or even touring the world is a common feature in everybody's bucket list today. And with the world becoming more accessible, everybody has at least a few yearly trips to various places planned systematically around the busy schedules. However, these trips are planned in between breaks and vacations and when it comes to packing, the luggage is most often packed in a hurry as we don't get enough time to pack and prepare for the minute details. But this process becomes easier if there's a foolproof checklist on hand before you leave for your holiday. Here are a few tips to make sure that you have all the essentials in your travel bag that will ensure that you have no worries when you reach your destination and have a great trip. Sort Out That Sack When we travel, we tend to take along a lot of unnecessary stuff while we forget to take many essentials sometimes. Decide on a suitcase or a bag that you want to carry based on how many days and how many things that you may need to take. A lot of unnecessary baggage results in inconvenience in mobility and handling all the extra luggage results into stress when you’re actually looking to de-stress. Hence it is always better to pack as per the number of days and what events and activities are scheduled during the trip as well as keep space in the bag for what you may happen to buy there. A great pro-tip while packing is that instead of folding your clothes like you regularly would, roll them neatly to ensure extra space in the bag and limit the number of bags to one or two along with a handbag. Essential Essentials One of the most important aspects of planning for a trip is making sure that all your essentials are in place. Carry your toiletries as well as products such as a sunscreen and moisturizer depending on the weather of the place you are going to. Keep a separate pouch for your sunglasses, hair accessories and a separate pouch for makeup as well. First-Aid Kit Be prepared for all worst case scenarios as well. You never know if you could bruise yourself while hiking or have an upset tummy on your food trails in the local areas of the place. So keep a first aid kit handy as it will help you tremendously and in no time will you be as fit as a fiddle again. The basic things that you must include are band-aids, cotton, antiseptic cream/liquid, your basic over the counter pills for headaches and upset tummies. And in case you are on prescribed medication be sure to take those medicines for those many days. Document It You never know where you may need identification, so always carry your passports and visas and IDs such as driver’s licences, professional cards, credit cards/debit cards etc. Along with their copies in a special wallet or a small bag or pouch. If you are a student, don’t forget to carry your student IDs as you may be surprised at the number of places that give student discounts. Power Up Always carry your mobile phones along with their chargers wherever you go as well as a digital camera. It’s also better to carry spare batteries or a power bank. And if you plan to go on nature trails or hiking, carry an Mp3 player along with a torch. If you are a reader you must carry your tablet or a kindle to keep you company. Food is Good While you may not be allowed to carry along a lot of food, always keep things like chocolate bars or protein bars handy in your handbag. This will help even while you’re exploring the place, especially if it’s an area where there might not be many shops or food stores or even restaurants nearby. (As Compiled by Prerna Mistry)
04:02 pm Are you tired of uploading pictures of your to go-to place in the world under the #Wanderlust? Do you wish to just take off on an adventure without fretting about the expenditures involved? We all wish to at some point seek new places that we often include in our bucket lists and explore the world. However, there is always a slight (read: BIG) issue of short listing places that fit under your budget as well. Here is a list of 25 amazing and economical places in the world that are worth a visit. India A colourful country rich in culture and heritage, India is a must visit for all those who wish to taste a slice of history. From the gorgeous beaches of Goa to the golden city of Jaisalmer, India has a lot to offer. There are many pilgrimage places in the country as well as many ancient palaces and other places such as the Taj Mahal in Agra, and the Gateway of India in Mumbai for eager tourists to explore. Besides this, India is also known for its varieties of food with multiple cuisine options from all the states. Japan Japan is a country that is a unique fusion of modern-day innovations and ancient traditions. The Japanese Alps, Kanazawa, Nara, Chubu-Sangaku National Park, Osaka National Park, the Island Shrine of Itsukushima, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Imperial Palace and Mount Fuji are some of the most exceptional places to visit. Kyoto is known as the cultural capital of the country as it houses most of the Buddhist shrines and temples in the country. One of the best times to go to this culturally rich country is during the spring time especially to witness the Sakura Bloom, an event to experience the cherry blossom trees in full bloom. Further, Japan is also known for its authentic flavours and while you are there, make sure to try the local delicacies such as sushi, ramen and udon, the Japanese soba, onigiri as well as the Japanese cheesecake which is known for its unique texture and flavour. South Korea South Korea is one of the most unexplored countries in the world and it houses a host of UNESCO heritage sites as well. This country is known for its delicious food, K-Pop, ancient temples as well as its natural beauty. While in Korea, you must visit Seoul to explore the shopping district of Gangnam, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Gyeongbokgung palace, Jogyesa Temple, Lotte World and the N Seoul Tower which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Other places to visit in South Korea include Busan which is famous for its pristine beaches and temples such as the Beomeosa Temple and Jeonju which is known for its historical places as well. On your visit you must indulge in delectable Korean cuisine such as Kimchi, Bibimbap, Japchae, Bulgogi, Sundubu-jjigae and Naengmyeon among others. Vietnam An often overlooked tourist destination, Vietnam is a beautiful country known for its cities, Buddhist pagodas and beaches. When in Vietnam, you must visit Phú Quốc, the Marble Mountains, go hiking at Fansipan or go kayaking in the Ha Long Bay. Vietnamese food is very unique in flavour with its use of ingredients such as soy sauce, coconut milk, lime, tamarind and cane sugar in its food. Some of the cuisines to sample in this country include, Banh Mi Thit, Pho, Goi Cuan and for dessert opt for something unique such as Che a sweet dish which is prepared from sticky rice and beans. Indonesia Known for its beaches, volcanoes and Komodo dragons, Indonesia is one of the most spiritually exotic places one could visit. Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Ubud, Lombok, Denpasar and Malang are some of the most prominent places to visit in the country. Some of the famous Indonesian foods include Gado-gado, ayem goreng, sambal, bakso and gudeg. Kenya Kenya is one of the best places to visit if you want to go on an adventure. It is known for its rich wildlife, safaris and reserves such as Masai Mara, Amboseli, Tsavo, Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National reserves. The food like the place is adventurous as well with dishes like Pilau, Mukimo, Irio, Githeri and Maharagwe. Nepal Nepal is best known for its sacred and historic tourist attractions such as the Boudhanath Stupa, Pokhara-which is surrounded by some of the highest mountains and is also a gateway to the Himalayas. One can also do various activities such as trekking on the Himalayas as well as the Annapurna region. Other tourist attractions include Mahendra Gufa and the Pashupatinath Temple. Some of the famous foods of this country include Sel Roti, Samay Bhaji, Chatamari, Momo cha and Dhido. Sri Lanka A great place for nature lovers with its zoos and scenic locations, Sri Lanka is a great getaway place which is culturally rich as well. Some of the best places to visit here are the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Dambulla Cave Temple, Adams Peak, Yala National Park and Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The cuisine of Sri Lanka is quite influenced by South India and Indonesia as some of the staples in the meals include rice, coconut and spices. Kottu, Hoppers, Polos, Pol Sambol and Gotu Kola Sambol are some of the dishes you must try while in Sri Lanka. Thailand Thailand is known for its tropical beaches specifically in Pattaya, the Phi Phi island and Khao Lak opulent royal palaces such as the Grand Palace in Bangkok, ancient ruins and ornate temples such as in the city of Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya. Thai cuisine is all about balance and detail and consists of potent aromatic components with added spiciness as seen in piquant dishes such as Tom Yum Gung, Pad Thai, Khao Pad, Jim Jum and Som Tam. Singapore Dubbed the ‘shopper’s paradise’, Singapore is great for people who love to shop and eat as well, as it offers great shopping deals, exceptional fine dining experiences as well as luxury hotels. Pulao Ubin and Jurong East are some of the places you must visit here as well as stopping by the Merlion, taking a walk along Orchard Road and visit the Marina Bay islands. Singaporean cooking is derived from elements based on Indian, Chinese and Western traditions. Laksa, Char Kuay Teow, Fried Carrot Cake, Roti Prata and Ice Kacang are some of the delicacies to try in Singapore. South Africa South Africa is home to some of the most luxurious private game reserves and lodges. It is rich in wildlife with many attractions such as coral reefs, shark diving, dragon backed mountain ranges and white water rafting among others. Kruger National Park, Lion’s Head, Cradle of Humankind, Big Hole and Boulders Beach are some of the most breathtaking places to visit. Some of the most famous meals in South Africa include Cape Malay Curry, Malva Pudding, Chakalaka and Pap, Babotie and Melktert. Laos One of Asia’s most beautiful secrets, Laos is a country where you can experience quiet scenic views, go hiking on mountains, take adventures in dense forests and witness picaresque waterfalls. Some of the most striking places to visit here include the World Heritage listed French colonial town of Luang Prabang, Vientiane , the Bokeo Nature Reserve, Vang Vieng and Phonsavan/the Plain of Jars among others. When in Laos you must try foods such as Khao Piak Sen, Khao Jee, Tam Mak Hoong, Yall Dib as well as the French food available there. China Known for its modern day architecture and skyscraper-studded views, China is a country that also boasts of historical places such as the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, Terracotta Army, the Yellow Mountains in Huangshan, visit the Giant Pandas in Chengdu and the Bund in Shanghai among many other spectacular places. Xiao Long Bao, Samsa, Yang Mei, Ma Po Tofu, Rice Noodles and Chow Mein are some of the famous foods that you must try. Lebanon While Beirut and Tripoli are beautiful, there is more to visit in Lebanon than its two major cities such as the Temple of Bacchus, Baatara Gorge waterfall, Cedars of God, and the Sidon Sea Castle as well. Some of the most famous Lebanese cuisines to sample are the Baba Ghanoush, Manakeesh, Falafels, Fattoush, Shawarmas and the Koftas. Dubai Dubai is a place famous for luxury shopping places, ultramodern architecture as well as its nightlife. Among the most famous landmarks of Dubai are the Burj Khalifa as well as the Dubai Mall and the Dubai Museum. One of the most fun places to go to is the Dubai Aquarium which house over 140 species of fish and the Jumeirah Beach as well. Some of the best exotic dishes to have here are the Manousheh, Iranian Sangak, Al Machboos, Tabbouleh, Kousa Mahshi, Fatteh and the Shirin Polo. Taiwan The island nation, Taiwan, is known for its Chinese temples and hot spring resorts as well as its night markets. You must visit Taipei, Taipei 101, Jiu Fen Old street, Kenting National park, Sun Moon Lake, Leofoo Village Theme Park and Guanziling Hot Spring. Taiwanese cuisine is mostly influenced by Chinese and Japanese cooking techniques and is all about aromas and Asian flavours and the best foods that reflect this fact are Taiwanese noodles, Mochi, Smelly Tofu, Slack season Danzai noodles, Gua Bao and the Bubble Teas as well. Seychelles The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean and is known for its beautiful beaches, dense jungles and UNESCO listed nature reserves. It is a place for every tourist to fulfil his/her tropical island adventures such as going hiking, diving, snorkelling or surfing as well at some of the best places there such as Mahé Island, Praslin Island, Cousine Island, Bird Island as well as Moyenne Island. Influenced by African, British, French, Indian and Chinese cuisines, Seychellois cuisine is predominantly seafood which makes use of spices such as ginger, lemongrass, coriander and tamarind and some of the famous foods include octopus and smoked fish salads, the red snapper, bonito and banana in coconut milk. Maldives Maldives is a tropical nation in the Indian ocean which is famed for its beaches, blue lagoons and coral reefs as well and is great for anyone who is a water sports enthusiast as you could get to indulge in sports such as diving, surfing and snorkelling at places such as Sun Island, Banana Reef, Alimatha Island, HP Reef and Filhalhohi Island. Maldivian cuisine is also called Dhivehi cuisine and is based on ingredients such as coconut, fish and starches and some of the dishes to watch out for are Bis Keemiya, Boshi Mashuni, Huni Roshi, Garudhiya and Saagu Bondibai. Malaysia Influenced by Malay, Chinese, Indian and European cultures, Malaysia is known for its beaches and rainforests. Some of the places to explore in the country include Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Legoland at Johor, Port Dickson and Sipadan and also go hiking in places such as Mount Kinabalu, Niah National Park and Cameron Highlands. Mee Goreng Mamak, Nasi Kerabu, Kuih, Laksa, Popia Basah are some of the famous Malaysian dishes to try. Portugal Easily one of Europe’s most visited countries, Portugal is affordable, is great weather wise and also houses major attractions in the country from vast farmlands to medieval cities and lush vineyards and has a lot to offer. Some of the major places to visit here are Coimbra, Lisbon, Sintra, Lagos, Porto, Madeira and Cascais. Heavily influenced by Mediterranean culture, Portuguese cuisine includes a range of flavours with the use of spices such as piri piri, black pepper, cinnamon, saffron and herbs such as garlic and parsley. Some of the famous dishes of Portugal to look out for include Arroz de Tamboril, Bacalhau and Cataplana de Marisco among others. Bulgaria A country comprising of a rich heritage of traditional dance, music, costumes, and crafts with Greek, Slavic, Ottoman, and Persian influences, Bulgaria is a place worth visiting for its beaches, historical places as well as the ski resorts between its borders such as Borovets, Seven Rila Lakes, Vitosha, Sunny Beach and Marvelous Bridge as well. Bulgaria is famous for its quality vegetables and a varied range of spices and some of the local foods to try here include Banitsa, Kebapche, Shopska Salata, Musaka and Iyutenitsa. Cuba With interesting attractions such as Havana, Varadero, Santa Clara, Trinidad and Guardalavaca, Cuba is one of the best places to visit to explore and to unwind at what with its beaches and other monument places as well as its iconic cuisine which is a blend of Native American Taino food, Spanish, African, and Caribbean cuisines. A blend of Native American Taino food, Spanish, African, and Caribbean cuisines, Cuban food includes delicacies such as Frita, Elote, Paella, Churros, Croquetas and Plantains. Greece Greece is majorly known for its sparkling white beaches and ancient sites and the most famous spots to visit in the country include, Santorini, Mykonos and Delos, Acropolis and Delphi. Amygdalota, Baklava, Dolmadakia, Gyros, Moussaka are some of the best traditional Greek food that you must eat while in Greece. Cambodia Stunning landscapes, pristine beaches and exotic temples is what Cambodia is comprised of. Some of the best places to visit here include Angkor Wat, Angkor Tham, Kampot, Kratie, Sihanoukville, Koh Ker, Koh Rong and Phnom Penh. Khmer Red Curry, Fish Amok, Nom Banh Chok are all among the famous cuisines of Cambodia. Hawaii Hawaii is renowned for its landscapes, waterfalls, tropical foliage and beaches with gold, red, black and even green sands and the best places to explore here include the island of O’ahu, Maui, Lana’i and the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. While in Hawaii, you must try the local food as it incorporates various styles of food that reflect the diverse food history of settlement and immigration in the Hawaiian Islands. Spam Musubi, Manapua, Poi, Poke and Acai bowls are some of the famous foods of Hawaii. (As Compiled by Prerna Mistry)
02:01 pm Situated 11 kilometres away from the city of Jaipur, standing tall, is the sublime Amer Fort in the city of the same name. The fort is famous and is one of the optimal tourist destinations in the state of Rajasthan as it is rich in its culture and history. The Amer Fort has also been included in the UNESCO World Heritage site list among five other forts of the state of Rajasthan. Amer occasionally pronounced as Amber, is said to have derived its name from the Ambikeshwara Temple. Ambikashwara is another name for Lord Shiva. However, local folklore also suggests that the name of the fort originated from Amba a form of Goddess Durga, who was the presiding deity of the Meenas who are said to have developed the town of Amber. Located on top of a hill named ‘Cheel ka Teela’ (The Hill of Eagles) on Aravalli Hills, the promontory juts into Maota Lake and overlooks the city of Jaipur. Another fort called Jaigarh Fort is also situated on the same hill and overlooks the Amer Fort. Both these forts are viewed as one complex as they are connected by a subterranean passage that was believed to have been an escape route for the royal members and others at the Amer Fort during times of war. The scenic fort was built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh I who was a trusted general of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, who included him among the Navaratnas or the nine gems of the royal court. It was however, modified by several rulers up until late 1600s. It was built using red sandstone and white marble. It is known for its beguiling style of architecture that incorporates Rajput and Mughal styles. Moreover, the fort is adorned with ancient paintings and portraits of prominent Rajput rulers. The fort has four levels, each having a courtyard and each with a separate entrance. One enters the premises first through a gate called ‘Suraj Pol’ or the Sun Gate which derives its name from the fact that this gate faces east and witnesses the sunrise every morning. It commences the tour of the fort with the first courtyard named Jalebi Chowk that includes a stairway leading to the main palace grounds and to the right of this staircase stands the Sila Devi temple. ‘Ganesh Pol’ or the Ganesh Gate, named after the Hindu God Lord Ganesh, is a gateway to all private palaces inside the complex and is a three levelled structure with many frescoes coloured in natural colour and above this gate is the Suhag Mandir where the women of the royal family witnessed functions through latticed windows, of the Diwan-e-aam in the second courtyard or the hall that was meant for public audiences, where the king used to meet common men as well as important dignitaries. This hall is adorned with mosaic glass works. The third courtyard encompasses two resplendent palatial buildings named Jai Mandir which is also known as the Sheesh Mahal and Sukh Niwas or Sukh Mahal. The Sheesh Mahal is one of the most exquisite attractions inside the Amer Fort as it is ornamented in concave mirrors which give it an exotic appeal and it is said that if two candles are lit in this palace, it would look like a thousand stars coruscating in the ceiling. The Sukh Mahal is located on the courtyard opposite the Sheesh Mahal is built using sandalwood and ivory where a small channel carrying cold water runs through the edifice which keeps the environment of the building cool and the water from this channel flows into the garden. The third courtyard also includes the palace of Man Singh I and a garden located between the Sheesh Mahal and Sukh Niwas. Further, the Tripolia Gate or the three gates which gives an access to the palace from the west and opens in three directions and the Lion Gate that was once a heavily guarded gate and has a zig zag alignment which was made in mind keeping considering the security of the fort so as to attack intruders, stand tall alongside this courtyard. The fourth courtyard is where the ‘Zenana’ or the royal women lived and has many rooms that open to one common corridor so that the other queens wouldn’t know when the king visited any one of them. The Amer Fort is a place that has a very rich history and culture to leave the all those who visit spellbound. The historic significance and the architecture make this a must visit location. (As compiled by Prerna Mistry)
07:01 pm Media Eye News Bureau: Going to Kanyakumari always offers a peace of mind and freshness. But when you go to this holy palce keeping in mind the marvelous history, it will be a different experience. Chitra Muraleedharan reveals the history attached with the Suchindram temple, situating in Kanyakumari district. Kanyakumari is a coastal town in the state of Tamil Nadu on India’s southern tip. Suchindram is a panchayat town in Kanyakumari district in the state of Tamil Nadu. The temple has a 134 feet entrance tower with 24 feet beautifully carved door. The tower is carved with sculptures and status from Hindu Mythology. There are many legends associated with it. One of them is about Anasuya the wife of Atri Maharshi. Anasuya was well known for her devotion towards her husband. She had the power of performing miracles with the water with which she washed her husband’s feet - “Paatha Theertham’. It was then the three Devis : Goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswathy and Parvathy came to know about the miracles of Anasuya and her chastity. They approached their husbands Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to test Anasuya’s devotion to her husband. The tri-moorthys set to meet Anasuya in the form of beggars and seeks alms. As she was about to serve foods they inform her that they had taken a vow of accepting alms only from hands of a naked person. She then sprinkles Paatha Theertham and turns them into babies. She then removes her clothes and offers then food. On learning what happened at Anasuya’s heritage, Goddesses run to Anasuya and plead her to return their husbands to their original form. Thus the babies are again transformed to Tri- moorthys. The lingam at Suchindram thus represents the tri-moorthys from bottom Brahma, middle Vishnu and top Shiva. Another story is where Indira was charmed by the beauty of Ahalya, the wife of Rishi Gautama. Indira tricks Rishi Gautama to think that its dawn thus making him leave the heritage for prayers. Taking this opportunity Indira approaches Ahalya by transposing himself as Rishi and fulfill his desire. Rishi returns back realising that there is more time to dawn only to see his wife with another man. Rishi curses Indira for his lust that he be covered with linga all over his body and curses his wife Ahalya to turn into a stone. Lord Indira prays to tri-moorthys and thus attains relief from Rishis curse and thus the builds Linga to represent them which is later known as Suchi-Indira. The temple is rich in sculptural art. There is ‘Alankara Mandapam’ wherein there are musical pillars each having a different musical note. The Alankara Mandapam is faced by an 18 feet high statue of hanuman. It is an important pilgrim centre and the site of the famous Thanumalayan Temple.
12:01 pm A true personification of rich culture and history, the Laxmi Vilas Palace stands tall in the vibrant city of Vadodara, Gujarat. It is one of the most prominent and well preserved landmarks of the city The construction of the building commenced in 1878 on the orders of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III and was completed by 1890. The palace was estimated to have cost GBP 180,000 at that point of time and was considered technologically advanced with the presence of luxurious western style elevators within the palace. The palace was built using brick, red sandstone, blue trap stone from Pune and Italian marble. Sprawling across an area of about 700 acres, it is still home to the royal family of Vadodara. It is a colossal building consisting of 170 rooms that is quoted to be the size equivalent to four times that of the Buckingham Palace. The palace was designed by the architect, Major Charles Mant who adopted an Indo-Saracenic style that showcased various forms of Hindu, Gothic and Mughal architecture methodologies with towering arches, domes and intricately planned minarets. Following the death of architect Mant, the work was later completed by architect Robert Fellowes Chisholm. While the palace is open for the common public to explore, a part of it remains restricted for the privacy and safety of the royals who reside there. On arrival at the palace, you have to buy an entrance ticket for a nominal price of Rs. 225. From there, you are given an audio device which is included in the ticket price itself, which gives you a tour of the various rooms in the building in a sequential order. As you proceed to the rooms, the audio tour gives you a brief history of each and in your preferred languages as well. The tour begins in the courtyard that is elegant and aesthetic. The gardens of Laxmi Vilas palace were designed by the renowned botanist, Sir William Goldring, who also designed the Kew Botanical Gardens in London. Among the rooms that you come across on the tour are the Coronation Room, the Darbar Hall, Hathi Hall and the Armoury. The Coronation Room is one that is grand in its simplicity. The throne on which the Gaekwad Maharajas were coroneted on, is a simple cushion placed under a gold peacock umbrella, which although simple, has certain opulence to it. The room is adorned with exquisite paintings by the renowned painter, Raja Ravi Verma. The most noteworthy paintings in the room were that of Goddesses Saraswati and Lakshmi. Apart from these, the paintings of Kansa being warned by an Oracle and Keechaka Vadha are exceptional as well. One of the most commanding rooms is the Armoury that houses an impressive collection of swords, daggers and other antique weapons, ranging from chakras to submachine guns that according to the audio guide, have been used in battles at one point or another. The most significant exhibits of the armoury are the Navadurga sword that was intricately designed with the nine manifestations of Goddess Durga on the sword and the Wagh Nakh or the Tiger Claw that was used by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja to kill the Mughal king Afzal Khan. The Hathi Hall or The Elephant Room is breathtaking with its intricacies, that of the ceiling of the hall that is designed in the shape of an elephant’s head. It is stated that the king used this room to ascend on the back of a waiting elephant. The room is adorned with varied headgears that represent different cultures and eras. However, the most resplendent and glorious room is the Darbar Hall that dwarfs all else in the palace. The floor of this room is inlaid with a mosaic of semi precious stones bearing the insignia of the Gaekwads. The high ceiling of the room is adorned by Belgian chandeliers, when lit, give a sense of nostalgia. The intricately carved balconies on the upper sides of the walls are made in rosewood and sandalwood. The palace boasts of the maximum number of stained glass ever used in a palace as every window in this hall is decorated in stained glass that depicts famous scenes from Hindu mythologies which gives it an old world charm. Moreover, the hall is flanked by a beautiful European style fountain that has Greek marble statues adding to its appeal. A 300 ft. tower stands tall in the palace which was once meant to function as a clock tower. The plan was later scraped on the basis that the constant ticking of the clock would create a disturbance for the residents. The tower is therefore used to keep a beacon to signify when the king was present at the palace. The palace also houses a number of buildings including the LVP Banquets & Conventions, the Moti Baug palace and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building that was once used as a school for the Maharaja’s children but now exhibits the pre-eminent collection of paintings by Raja Ravi Verma and other world famous artefacts. On one’s trip to Vadodara, the Laxmi Vilas palace is a must visit for anyone who wants to travel back in time and experience a slice of history.