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”

Monday, 20 May 2013

TripAdvisor Celebrates Bollywood Centennial

Visits locations in (North/South/East/West) made famous in Hindi cinema

Given that Indians are avid travellers and ardent moviegoers as well, TripAdvisor brings to you a list of locations in the country captured on the big screen for all times to come. What’s of additional significance is that 2013 marks the 100th year of Bollywood.

From the majestic forts of Rajasthan to the busy streets of Darjeeling, the lure of Goa to the varied locales in the South, TripAdvisor brings you some of the best in ‘cinema tourism’ across the country.

The Northern Kings:

The hotel that featured in the 1973 super-hit movie, Bobby, is located in Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir. The memorable ‘Hum tum ek kamrey mein bandh hon…’ song was shot in one of the rooms of the hotel. Shah Rukh Khan stayed in the same room while shooting for Jab Tak Hai Jaan, directed by Yash Chopra and released in 2012. The rooms are well-equipped and heated with bukharis, the traditional space heater in the region. A TripAdvisor traveller describes the hotel to be the “best in Gulmarg”.

The valley is known by the 1983 romantic film in which Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh debuted. Located 7 km from Pahalgam in the heart of Jammu and Kashmir, the valley epitomizes romance. Betab was almost entirely shot at Betaab valley. Even before 1983, the valley featured in films like Kashmir ki Kali, Silsila and Bobby. Later films such as Dil Se, Fanna and Mission Kashmir have made Betaab Valley one of the most famous film locations within Jammu and Kashmir. As a TripAdvisor traveller puts it, “Betaab Valley: A nature’s wonder.”

The castle was built by Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu around 1460 AD and is located 25 km from Kullu Town. The hit song ‘Yeh Ishq’ in the movie Jab We Met was shot at this castle. The place offers breathtaking views of the Himalayas. Almost 10-20 kms from the castle is the magnificent Jana waterfall. The area is an ideal place for the trekkers and adventure seekers. This is what a TripAdvisor traveller has to say -- “Grand Splendour, awesome views. Great Place.”

Located in Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, Woodville is a popular destination for Bollywood film-shoots. From Kudrat by Chetan Anand, Raju Chacha by Ajay Devgun, Badal by Raj Kanwar to Black by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, this palace has played host to TV serials like Millee and Kavyanjali. According to a TripAdvisor traveller Woodville Palace Hotel summarises the “best of Imperial Shimla!”

This palace was built in 1891 and is known for its majestic setting with spectacular views. Located in Chail, Shimla, this location is now a popular heritage hotel and a resort, and is known for the shooting of the movie 3 Idiots, the 2009 blockbuster starring Amir Khan and Kareena Kapoor. Rajesh Khanna’s Daag was the first film to be shot here in 1973. A TripAdvisor traveller says that Chail Palace is “royal experience… must stay”.

Mangal Pandey, Veer Zara, Rang De Basanti, Gandhi My Father and Eat, Pray, Love  were filmed here. Being the home of the famed cricketer and Nawab of Pataudi, Mansur Ali Khan, this palace is a must visit. According to a TripAdvisor traveller, it is s “nice retreat close to Delhi.” 
Eastern splendours

The hills and the charming habitat of the Himalayas has been the USP of the region and cinema has made it a point to utilise the enigmatic locations to shoot some of the best romantic scenes here. Our hot picks are:

Located in Darjeeling, the toy train is as much a draw as the hill station. The toy train, along with the 83-km long section of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways section, has been the bestowed World Heritage Site status. The railway line from Siliguri to the beautiful hill section of Darjeeling is considered an engineering feat.  The toy train has been an important prop in several Bollywood films, including Dil se (for the song Chhaiya Chhaiya) and Aradhana (for the song Mere sapnon ki rani). In the recent times, Darjeeling featured as the principal location for the Ranbir Kapoor-Priyanka Chopra starrer, Barfi, released last year. Barfi too had a song with its toy train featuring most prominently. In the words of TripAdvisor traveller, a toy-train ride is “a must in Darjeeling”.

Built during British Raj, this palace is one of the oldest recreational spots in Kolkata. This palace is the memorial of James Princep, the 19th Century English scholar, orientalist and antiquary. The site is frequently used for concerts. Post 2005, the palace has also come to be known as the Parineeta place, because of the song ‘Piyu bole’ in the movie by that name. As a TripAdvisor traveller puts it, “Excellent place to spend time.”

The Wonderful West

Heading towards the West, we would find hospitals, churches, beaches – all and sundry that has been captured on celluloid. Mumbai, home to Bollywood, has been a prominent location for obvious reasons. While Gloria Church became the backdrop of youth anthem ‘Sadda Haq’ from the 2011 film, Rockstar, Birla Mandir has in the recent times come to be known as the ‘friendship proposal site’ after the love story Mohabbatein, starring Jimmy Shergill. The Hiranandani Gardens at Powai was where the song ‘Gumshuda…’ in Chalte Chalte was shot; the garden was also the backdrop of the debut scene of Hrithik Roshan on bicycle in the Year 2000 blockbuster, Kaho Na… PyaarHai. The unforgettable climax scene of Dilwale Dulhaniya le Jayenge – the 1995 flick starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol -- was shot at Apta Railway station at Panvel.

Mumbai has been the birthplace of Bollywood for 100 years. The first movie Raja Harishchandra released in May 1913 was shot at Mathura Bhawan at Dadar. The city’s heart is bound by the Queen’s Necklace on Marine Drive that has lent its glitz to many a Hindi film.

Here are some other admired and favourite Bollywood locations of lot:

The abode of Akbar the Great was captured on the camera in the classic Mughal-e-Azam. The magnificence of the Mughal architecture was also laid open for the public via many other movies. The 1995 Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pardes was also shot here.


This is a king’s hunting lodge turned into a heritage hotel. This is best known as the backdrop of the effervescent love blossoming in the heart of ‘Viren’ for elusive ‘Pallavi’ in Lamhe, the 1991 flick starring Anil Kapoor and Sridevi.

At the end of 11 km stretch from Jaipur is the Amber Fort, captured exquisitely as Princess Jodha’s palace in the epic Jodha Akbar. The film was extensively shot in Ajmer, Madhogarh and Dhula on the outskirts of Rajasthan. Sheesh Mahal, the mirror palace within Amber Fort was instrumental in capturing the kaleidoscopic view of the eternal beauty of actor Madhubala in Mughal-e-Azam, the 1960 epic drama.

Other ‘filmy’ locations that need a special mention in the west are: The 300-year-old Chomu Palace located 40 km from Jaipur city and the focal point of all the thrills and speculations in Akshaya Kumar-starrer mystery movie, BhulBhulaiya.

The reservoir inside Nahargarh Fort was the centre of the beer-drinking challenge in Rang De Basanti and Apni toh pathshaala…, the youthful track from the film.

Originally a summer resort, this imposing Rajput architecture of Vijaya Vilas Palace in Gujarat has played central character for blockbusters like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam with its eternal romantic song ‘Chand chhupa baadal mein…’ and classic raga of ‘Albela sajan ayo re…’ The latter song was also shot in the picturesque  ruins of BadaBagh of Jaisalmer. The Vijaya Vilas Palace also became the British House in Lagaan, blending seamlessly with the plot of the movie of bygone era.

Rajasthan’s other celebrated sites that have featured in prominent movies are Mandir Palace of Jaisalmer which was house of the character, Mirchi Seth, in the widely acclaimed movie, Sarfarosh. The Sariska Palace in Alwar, onetime hunting lodge of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, was turned into Amrish Puri’s haveli which reverberated with vengeful widow declaration Mere Karan Arjun ayenge… in the Shah Rukh Khan-Salman Khan-starrer, Karan Arjun. Mehrangarh Fort and JaswantThada in Jodhpur were the backdrop of the movie, Hum Saath Saath Hain, while Hadi Rani ki Baori featured in Paheli where Rani Mukherjee meets a ghost. Lalgarh Palace in Bikaner witnessed Anushka Sharma and Ranveer Singh dancing and singing ‘Dum Dum Dum mast hai…’ in the film, Band Baja Baraat.

The Orchard Palace, a heritage hotel in Gujarat, has been the backdrop of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. The palace is still maintained by royal family of Gondal, descendants of the Jadeja kings.

The Central Saga

Madhya Pradesh has been witness to making of many popular films, from Raj Kapoor’s Jis Desh Main Ganga Behti Hai to Kareena Kapoor’s Ashoka. The scenic marble rocks at Bhedaghat, Dhundhaar falls have been the backdrop for the seductive song ‘Raatkanasha…’ and the sturdy Ahilya Fort at Maheshwar, now turned into heritage hotel, was the backdrop of the scene where the Mauryan emperor cut his hair and became a Buddhist in the film, Asoka. Ahilya Fort, incidentally, is also a TripAdvisor Travellers’s Choice 2013 winner.

Down South

A two-hour ride from Hyderabad will take you to Bidar Fort, to unravel the mysticism that Vidya Balan tried to bring out in the song ‘Ishq sufiyaana…’ in her much-acclaimed film, The Dirty Picture.  The sprawling Indo-Persian style architecture of the Bahmani dynasty serves as a fabulous weekend destination.

Karnataka is also home to famous the Gabbar rocks, named after the villain played by Amjad Khan in the all-time favourite multi-starrer, Sholay. Ramanagram, where most of Sholay was filmed, is 50 km from Bengaluru and 90 km from Mysore, and is a haven for adventure enthusiasts. Besides rock climbing, the area is also famous for its silk industry and 1,000 year old temples atop hills.

The white foamy Athirapally waterfalls surrounded by lush green forests enchanted acclaimed director Mani Ratnam and he captured the natural wonder in the song ‘Barso re megha…’ in the critically acclaimed film Guru. A startling example of Indian rock-cut architecture, the Badami Caves, has lent its scenic charm to many the song ‘Ek lo ek muft…’ and was the place where Guru – the role that Abhishek Bachchan played -- agrees to marry his friend’s sister for dowry.

Portions of Raavn, the 2011 sci-fi thriller, were also shot here. A day trip from Bengaluru will land you in RayaGopura, the incomplete temple in Melkote which had been the location for Guru and more recently, for Rowdy Rathore.

The 400-year-old Bekal Fort is spread over 40 acres and is the largest such structure in Kerala. The fort by the shoreline of Arabian Sea offers a mesmerising view both at sunrise and sunset captured in the intensity of the song ‘Tu hi re…’ in Bombay.

Romance has been unique to Ooty as a location for Bollywood. The area has been extensively captured in films like Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Apke Hain Kaun’. Just 19 km off Ooty is Pykara falls that has captivated moviemakers since Eighties. Right from the popular number like ‘Tera sath hai kitna pyaara’ in Janbaaz, to Nagina, Kaamchor and Gangster – many Hindi movies have been shot under the cascading falls.