Delhi: Cosmopolitan Glitter
Eating out in Delhi is a memorable experience. Combine it with an evening's entertainment and you have an unforgettable night out in town. Discotheques, film shows, theatre, dance, music programmes-you can have your choice in Delhi. Winter is a particularly good time for cultural programmes. Mandi House is an ideal venue for classical Indian music or dance performances and theatre. Discotheques are located mostly in the five-star hotels and are open to both residents and members.
While shopping or sight-seeing you can make interesting eating halts, exploring some of the many restaurants around the city. If you are in Connaught Place you have a wide choice of restaurants as well as cuisines. For Indian cuisine you can try out Abo Dana, Amber, The Host. If Chinese is your choice of restaurants as well as cuisines. For Indian cuisine you can try out Zen or Berco's, both located in the inner circle of Connaught Place. Kovil seves delicious South Indian dishes. A popular restaurant is Nirula's Potpourri which has an exotic salad bar. Nirula's also has two fast food (hamburgers and pizzas) outlets in Connaught Place. Wimpy's, Pizza Hut and McDonalds have outlets in Connaught Place, selling fast food.
If you are headed towards old Delhi, make a stop at Chor Bizarre in Hotel Broadway on Asaf Ali Road where the decor as well as the menu is outlandish and extremely interesting. For true Mughlai cuisine try out Karim's Jama Masjid-the ambience and the flavours are truely oriental.
Dussehra and Diwali are the two most important festivals. Dussehra marks the victory of good over evil as the demon Ravana is defeated in a long drawn-out battle by Lord Rama. People rejoice as evil-looking effigies of Ravana and his family are set on fire.
As Lord Rama is welcomed home from exile, people decorate their homes with candles and lights, distribute sweets and the sky is thick with smoke from firecrackers. It is also a time to worship Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth-with merry-making and gambling. Both Dussehra and Diwali take place in October-November.
Agra: Medieval Splendour
At Agra, the Mughals patronised the arts and crafts and brought them to a level of perfection. During the reign of Akbar, thousands of traders and artisans were attracted by the riches of the land and came to seek their fortune. The generosity of the emperors and their inclination for the arts allowed the craftsmen to flower.
Even today, Agra is famous for the crafts introduced by the Mughal emperors.. The opulent and extravagant lifestyle led to the introduction of carpets with intricate floral motifs of Persian origin. Agra specialises in carpets made of silk mixed with woollen yarn. The carpets get a sheen but, at the same time, are not as durable as woollen carpets.
Miniature painting was also introduced by the Mughal rulers. Persian styles were combined with Indian ones to form an Indo-Persian school which, in turn, influenced the Rajasthani and Himachali (Pahari) schools of art. Most of the books of the time were illustrated with miniature art.
Agra is most famous for its marble inlay work which embellished the Taj and the Itmad-ud-daulah tombs. Precious and semi-precious stones are inlaid into hard white Makrana marble to make table tops, trinket boxes and replicas of the Taj Mahal.
Agra is also a major leather manufacturing centre. Footwear, garments and bags are made to suit the international market trends. Some of the places to shop in Agra are Kashmir Palace, Indian Handicrafts, Mughal Marble and U.P. Handicrafts Palace.
Within a few kilometres distance from Agra are several places of interest which a tourist may like to visit.
Jaipur: Treasure-house of Crafts
When Sawai Jai Singh II founded the city of Jaipur, he wanted to make it a leading commercial centre. He invited craftsmen and traders from all over the country to settle in Jaipur. He allotted different sections of the city to different categories of craftsmen, Goldsmiths, jewellers, traders, financiers, dyers, lacquer workers, marble workers-all had their own quarters. Even today the bazaars and lanes are named after the craft which you can see being practised. Jauhari Bazaar has the gold and silversmiths at work and the showrooms of all the famous jewellery houses.
Jaipur is a treasure-house of handicrafts, textiles, antiques, jewellery, semi-precious stones, marble statues, wood carving, pottery and emeralds. The city is one of the leading export centres for handicrafts.
Minakari or enamel work on silver is a speciality of Jaipur. Enamelling with or without studded gems is done on curios, jewellery, jewellery boxes, penstands and other artifacts. The delicate patterns of birds and flowers are fired in red, green, blue and white; the gold jewel is then given further sparkle with emeralds, rubies and white sapphires.
Jaipur is also the home of printed textiles-handblock prints as well as tie and dye. Bandhini and laheriya are the tie and dyed fabrics where the fabrics where the fabric is tied into minute knots to form artistic designs and dipped into dye. The cloth under the knots does not take the dye. Laheriya is a pattern of diagonal lines-straight, zigzag or criss-crossed to form geometric patterns.
Thirty-two kilometres from Jaipur is Bagru-famous for handblock printed fabrics. Vegetable dyes are used to give the fabric a rich natural colour. The patterns used have been passed down the generations and the colours used traditionally are red and black.
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