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KEY CITIES OF INDIA

Agra Hyderabad New Delhi
Bangalore Jaipur Pune
Chandigarh Kolkata Shimla
Chennai Lucknow Srinagar
Dehradun Mumbai Thiruvananthapuram
Guwahati Mussoorie Varanasi
*Agra

Agra Coordinates: 2711'N 7801'E  (27.18, 78.02)
Agra is a city on the banks of the Yamuna River in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It finds mention in the epic Mahabharata when it was called Agrabana, or Paradise. Ptolemy, the famous 2nd century geographer, marked it on his map of the world as Agra. Tradition and legend ascribe the present city of Raja Badal Singh (around 1475) whose fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the present Fort. However, the 12th century Persian poet Salman writes of a desperate assault on the fortress of Agra, then held by one King Jaipal, by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. It was ruled by Sultan Sikandar Lodi in the year 1506. It achieved fame as the capital of the Mughal emperors from 1526 to 1658 and remains a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Agra is situated on the banks of Yamuna river. It has an average elevation of 171 metres (561 ft). On the north it is bound by Mathura, on the south by Dhaulpur, on the east by Firozabad, on the south-east by Fatehabad and on the west by Bharatpur. Agra is the third biggest city in Uttar Pradesh. The Agra district is divided into Six Tehsils and 15 Blocks. Total number of Nayay Panchayats in the district are 114 while Gram Sabhas stands at 636. The total populated villages are 904. The total number of police stations in the district are 41 out of which 16 are in Urban area and 25 are in Rural area. The total number of Railway Stations (including Halts) are 29 and Bus Stands/Bus Stops are 144. Total number of Broad Gauge lines is 196 K.M. and Meter Gauge is 35 K.M.

Agra, located on the Indo-Gangetic plain has a continental sub-tropical climate, with long, hot summers from April to September when temperatures can reach as high as 45C (113F). During summers dry winds (loo) blow in this region. The monsoon months from July to September see about 67 cm (27 inches) of rainfall annually. Winters last from November to February, with day time temperatures comfortably warm, but temperatures below freezing are not uncommon during the night. Agra is also prone to dense fog during the winter months of December & January.
A major tourist destination, Agra is best visited in the months of October, November, February and March, when the average temperatures are between 16-25C (60-75F). The monsoon season should be avoided by non-Indians due to the risk of disease and flooding, and the months of April to June due to the extreme heat. The months of December and January are to be avoided due to the dense fog and often freezing temperatures, especially since much of the city has no heating system.

As of the 2000 Indian census, Agra had a population of 1,800,000. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Agra has an average literacy rate of 65%, higher than the national average of 63.5%; with 76% males literate. 11% of the population is under 6 years of age. Hindi is spoken by virtually everyone. English & Urdu are also spoken.

Agra is a medieval city situated on the banks of the river Yamuna. It is generally accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodi, the Ruler of Delhi Sultanate founded it in the year 1504. After the sultan's death the city passed on to his son Sultan Ibrahim Lodi. He ruled his Sultanate from Agra until he fell fighting to Babur in the First battle of Panipat fought in 1526.
In the year 1556, the great Hindu warrior, Hemu Vikramaditya also known as Hem Chander Vikramaditya won Agra as Prime Minister cum Chief of Army of Adil Shah of Afgan Sur Dynasty. The commander of Humayun / Akbar's forces in Agra was so scared of Hemu that he ran away from Agra without the fight. This was Hemu's 21st continuous win, who later on won Delhi also and had his coronation at Purana Qila in Delhi and re-established his Kingdom and the Vikramaditya Dynasty in North India.
The golden age of the city began with the Mughals. It was known then as Akbarabad and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under Emperor Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan later shifted his capital to Shahjahanabad in the year 1649.
Since Akbarabad was one of the most important cities in India under the Mughals, it witnessed a lot of building activity. Babar, the founder of the Mughal dynasty laid out the first formal Persian garden on the banks of river Yamuna. The garden is called the Aram Bagh or the Garden of Relaxation. His grandson Akbar raised the towering ramparts of the Great Red Fort besides making Agra, a center for learning arts, commerce and religion. Akbar also built a new city on the outskirts of Akbarabad called Fatehpur Sikri. This city was built in the form of a Mughal military camp in stone.
His son Jahangir had a love of gardens and flora and fauna and laid many gardens inside the Red Fort or Laal Kila. Shah Jahan known for his keen interest in architecture gave Akbarabad its most prized monument, The Taj Mahal. Built in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum was completed in 1653.
Shah Jahan later shifted the capital to Delhi during his reign, but this son Aurangzeb shifted the capital back to Akbarabad and had his father imprisoned in the Fort there. Akbarabad remained capital of India during the rule of Aurangzeb until he shifted it to Aurangabad in the Deccan in 1653. After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the city came under the influence of Marathas and Jats and was called Agra, before falling into the hands of the British Raj in 1803.
In 1835 when the Presidency of Agra was established by the British, the city became the seat of government, and just two year later it was the witness to the Agra famine of 183738. During the Indian rebellion of 1857 British rule across India was threatened, news of the rebellion had reached Agra on 11 May and on the 30th of May two companies of native infantry, the 44th and 67th regiments, rebelled and marched to Delhi. The next morning native Indian troops in Agra were forced to disarm, on 15 June Gwalior (which lies south of Agra) rebelled. By 3 July the British were forced to withdraw into the fort. Two days later a small British force at Sucheta were defeated and force to withdraw, this lead to a mob sacking the city. However the rebels moved onto Delhi which allowed the British to restore order by the 8th of July. Delhi fell to the British in September, the following month rebels who had fled Delhi along with rebels from Central India marched on Agra - but were defeated. After this British rule was again secured over the city until the independence of India in 1947.
Agra is the birth place of religion Din-i-Ilahi, which flourished during the reign of Akbar and also of the Radhaswami Faith, which has around two million followers worldwide.

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*Bangalore

Bangalore officially BengaluruCoordinates: 1258' 7734'E  (12.97, 77.57)
Bangalore officially Bengaluru is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore is India's third most populous city] and fifth-most populous urban agglomeration.
Though historical references to the city predate 900 CE, a modern written history of continuous settlement exists only from 1537, when Kempe Gowda I, who many regard as the architect of modern Bangalore, built a mud-brick fort at the site and established it as a province of the imperial Vijayanagara Empire. During the British Raj, it became a centre of colonial rule in South India. The establishment of the Bangalore Cantonment brought in large numbers of migrants from other parts of the country.

Today, as a large and growing metropolis, Bangalore is home to some of the most well-recognized colleges and research institutions in India. Numerous public sector heavy industries, software companies, aerospace, telecommunications, and defense organisations are located in the city. Bangalore is known as the Silicon Valley of India because of its preeminent position as the nation's leading IT employer and exporter. A demographically diverse city, Bangalore is a major economic hub and the fastest growing major metropolis in India.

After centuries of the rule of the Western Gangas, Bengaluru was captured by the Cholas in 1024 CE which later passed on to the Chalukya-cholas in 1070. In 1116 the Hoysala Empire, overthrew the Cholas and extended its rule over Bangalore. Modern Bangalore was founded by a vassal of the Vijayanagara Empire, Kempe Gowda I, who built a mud-brick fort and a Nandi Temple in the proximity of modern Bangalore in 1537. Kempe Gowda referred to the new town as his "gandubhūmi" or "Land of Heroes".
Within the fort, the town was divided into smaller divisions each called a "pete". The town had two main streets Chikkapete Street, which ran east-west, and Doddapete Street, which ran north-south. Their intersection formed the Doddapete Square the heart of Bangalore. Kempe Gowda's successor, Kempe Gowda II, built four famous towers that marked Bangalore's boundary. During the Vijayanagara rule, Bangalore was also referred to as "Devarāyanagara" and "Kalyānapura" ("Auspicious City"). After the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire, Bangalore's rule changed hands several times. In 1638, a large Bijapur army led by Ranadulla Khan and accompanied by Shahji Bhonsle defeated Kempe Gowda III and Bangalore was given to Shahji as a jagir. In 1687, the Mughal general Kasim Khan defeated Ekoji, son of Shahji, and then sold Bangalore to Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar (16731704) of Mysore for 300,000 rupees. After the death of Krishnaraja Wodeyar II in 1759, Hyder Ali, Commander-in-Chief of the Mysore Army, proclaimed himself the de facto ruler of Mysore. The kingdom later passed to Hyder Ali's son Tippu Sultan, known as the Tiger of Mysore. Bangalore was eventually incorporated into the British Indian Empire after Tippu Sultan was defeated and killed in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1799). The British returned administrative control of the Bangalore "pētē" to the Maharaja of Mysore, choosing only to retain the Cantonment under their jurisdiction. The 'Residency' of Mysore State was first established at Mysore in 1799 and later shifted to Bangalore in the year 1804. It was abolished in the year 1843 only to be revived in 1881 at Bangalore and to be closed down permanently in 1947, with Indian independence. The British, found it easier to recruit employees in the Madras Presidency and relocate them to cantonment area during this period. The Kingdom of Mysore relocated its capital from Mysore city to Bangalore in 1831. Two important developments during this period contributed to the rapid growth of the city: the introduction of telegraph connections and a rail connection to Madras in 1864.

In the 19th century, Bangalore essentially became a twin city, with the "pētē", whose residents were predominantly Kannadigas, and the "cantonment" created by the British, whose residents were predominantly Tamils.[ Bangalore was hit by a plague epidemic in 1898 that dramatically reduced its population. New extensions in Malleshwara and Basavanagudi were developed in the north and south of the pētē. Telephone lines were laid to help co-ordinate anti-plague operations, and a health officer was appointed to the city in 1898. In 1906, Bangalore became the first city in India to have electricity, powered by the hydroelectric plant situated in Shivanasamudra. Bangalore's reputation as the Garden City of India began in 1927 with the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the rule of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. Several projects such as the construction of parks, public buildings and hospitals were instituted to beautify the city. After Indian independence in August 1947, Bangalore remained in the new Mysore State of which the Maharaja of Mysore was the Rajapramukh. Public sector employment and education provided opportunities for Kannadigas from the rest of the state to migrate to the city. Bangalore experienced rapid growth in the decades 194151 and 197181, which saw the arrival of many immigrants from northern Karnataka. By 1961, Bangalore had become the sixth largest city in India, with a population of 1,207,000. In the decades that followed, Bangalore's manufacturing base continued to expand with the establishment of private companies such as Motor Industries Company (MICO), which set up its manufacturing plant in the city. Bangalore experienced a growth in its real estate market in the 1980s and 1990s, spurred by capital investors from other parts of the country who converted Bangalore's large plots and colonial bungalows into multi-storied apartments. In 1985, Texas Instruments became the first multinational to set up base in Bangalore. Other Information Technology companies followed suit and by the end of the 20th century, Bangalore had firmly established itself as the Silicon Valley of India.

Bangalore lies in the southeast of the South Indian state of Karnataka. It is in the heart of the Mysore Plateau (a region of the larger Precambrian Deccan Plateau) at an average elevation of 920 m (3,018 ft). The majority of the city of Bangalore lies in the Bangalore Urban district of Karnataka and the surrounding rural areas are a part of the Bangalore Rural district. The Government of Karnataka has carved out the new district of Ramanagara from the old Bangalore Rural district.
The topology of Bangalore is flat except for a central ridge running NNE-SSW. The highest point is Doddabettahalli, which is 962 m (3,156 ft) and lies on this ridge. No major rivers run through the city, though the Arkavathi and South Pennar cross paths at the Nandi Hills, 60 km (37 mi.) to the north. River Vrishabhavathi, a minor tributary of the Arkavathi, arises within the city at Basavanagudi and flows through the city. The rivers Arkavathi and Vrishabhavathi together carry much of Bangalore's sewage. A sewerage system, constructed in 1922, covers 215 km (133 mi) of the city and connects with five sewage treatment centers located in the periphery of Bangalore.

In the 16th century, Kempe Gowda I constructed many lakes to meet the town's water requirements. The Kempambudhi Kere, since overrun by modern development, was prominent among those lakes. In the earlier half of 20th century, the Nandi Hills waterworks was commissioned by Sir Mirza Ismail (Diwan of Mysore, 192641 CE) to provide a water supply to the city. Currently, the river Kaveri provides around 80% of the total water supply to the city with the remaining 20% being obtained from the Thippagondanahalli and Hesaraghatta reservoirs of the Arkavathi river. Bangalore receives 800 million litres (211 million US gallons) of water a day, more than any other Indian city. However, Bangalore sometimes does face water shortages, especially during the summer season- more so in the years of low rainfall. A random sampling study of the Air Quality Index (AQI) of twenty stations within the city indicated scores that ranged from 76 to 314, suggesting heavy to severe air pollution around areas of traffic concentration. Bangalore has a handful of freshwater lakes and water tanks, the largest of which are Madivala tank, Hebbal lake, Ulsoor lake and Sankey Tank. Groundwater occurs in silty to sandy layers of the alluvial sediments. The Peninsular Gneissic Complex (PGC) is the most dominant rock unit in the area and includes granites, gneisses and migmatites, while the soils of Bangalore consist of red laterite and red, fine loamy to clayey soils. Vegetation in the city is primarily in the form of large deciduous canopy and minority coconut trees. Though Bangalore has been classified as a part of the seismic zone II (a stable zone), it has experienced quakes of magnitude as high as 4.5.

Due to its high elevation, Bangalore usually enjoys salubrious climate throughout the year, although freak heat waves can make things very uncomfortable in the summer. The coolest month is January with an average low temperature of 15.1 C and the hottest month is April with an average high temperature of 33.6 C. The highest temperature ever recorded in Bangalore is 38.9 C and the lowest ever is 7.8 C (on January 1884). Winter temperatures rarely drop below 12 C (54 F), and summer temperatures seldom exceed 3637 C (100 F). Bangalore receives rainfall from both the northeast and the southwest monsoons and the wettest months are September, October and August, in that order. The summer heat is moderated by fairly frequent thunderstorms, which occasionally cause power outages and local flooding. The heaviest rainfall recorded in a 24-hour period is 179 millimetres (7.0 in) recorded on 1 October 1997.

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*Chandigarh

ChandigarhCoordinates: 3045'N 7647'E  (30.75, 76.78)
Chandigarh, also called The City Beautiful, is a city in India that serves as the capital of two states, Punjab and Haryana, and is a union territory of India. The name translates from Hindi to English as "the fort of Chandi", Chandi being a Hindu Goddess. Known internationally for its architecture and urban planning, Chandigarh is home to numerous architectural projects of Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Matthew Nowicki, and Albert Mayer. The city boasts a high standard of living with the highest per capita income in the country and tops the list of Indian States and Union Territories with a Human Development Index of 0.987.

After the partition of British India into the two nations of India and Pakistan in 1947, the region of Punjab was also split between India and Pakistan. The Indian state of Punjab required a new capital city to replace Lahore, which became part of Pakistan during the partition. After several plans to make additions to existing cities were found to be infeasible for various reasons, the decision to construct a new and planned city was undertaken. The city derives its name from Chandi Mandir, a temple of goddess Chandi, located in nearby Panchkula District of Haryana. The word Chandigarh literally means "the fort of Chandi".

Of all the new town schemes in independent India, the Chandigarh project quickly assumed prime significance, because of the city's strategic location as well as Jawaharlal Nehru's, the first Prime Minister of independent India personal interest in it. Commissioned by Nehru to reflect the new nation's modern, progressive outlook, Nehru famously proclaimed Chandigarh to be "unfettered by the traditions of the past, a symbol of the nation's faith in the future." Several buildings and layouts in Chandigarh were designed by the Swiss born French architect and urban planner, Le Corbusier, in the 1950s. Le Corbusier was in fact the second architect of the city, after the initial master plan was prepared by the United States American architect-planner Albert Mayer who was working with the Poland-born architect Matthew Nowicki. It was only after Nowicki's untimely death in 1950 that Le Corbusier was pulled into the project.

On 1 November, 1966, the newly-formed Indian state of Haryana was carved out of the eastern portion of the Punjab, in order to create Haryana as a majority Hindi speaking state, while the western portion of Punjab retained a mostly Punjabi language-speaking majority and remained as the current day Punjab. However, the city of Chandigarh was on the border, and was thus created into a union territory to serve as capital of both these states. Chandigarh was due to be transferred to Punjab in 1986, in accordance with an agreement signed in August 1985 by Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India at that time, with Sant Harchand Singh Longowal of the Akali Dal. This was to be accompanied by the creation of a new capital for Haryana, but the transfer has been delayed pending an agreement on which some villages in southern districts of Punjab, should be transferred to Haryana in exchange and Punjabi speaking parts of Haryana such as Jind, Sirsa, Fatehabad, Ambala, etc. and Ganganagar of Rajasthan should be transferred to Punjab.

On 15 July 2007, Chandigarh became the first Indian city to go smoke-free. Smoking at public places has been strictly prohibited and considered as a punishable act by Chandigarh Administration. That was followed up by a complete ban on polythene bags with effect from 2 October 2008, the birthday of the Father of the Nation.

Chandigarh is located near the foothills of the Shivalik range of the Himalayas in Northwest India. It covers an area of approximately 44 sq mi or 114 km and shares its borders with the states of Haryana in the south and Punjab in the north. It has an average elevation of 321 metres (1053 feet).
The surrounding districts are of Mohali, Patiala and Ropar in Punjab and Panchkula and Ambala in Haryana. The boundary of the state of Himachal Pradesh are not too far from its north. Chandigarh has a sub-tropical continental monsoon climate characterized by a seasonal rhythm: hot summers, slightly cold winters, unreliable rainfall and great variation in temperature (-1 C to 41.2 C). In winter, frost sometimes occurs during December and January. The average annual rainfall is 1110.7 mm. The city also receives occasional winter rains from the west.

Summer: The temperature in summer (from Mid-May to Mid-June) may rise to a maximum of 46.5C (rarely). Temperatures generally remain between 35C to 40C.
Monsoon: During monsoon (from mid-June to mid-September), Chandigarh receives moderate to heavy rainfall and sometimes heavy to very heavy rainfall (generally during the month of August or September). Usually, the rain bearing monsoon winds blow from south-west/ south-east. Mostly, the city receives heavy rain from south (which is mainly a persistent rain) but it generally receives most of its rain during monsoon either from North-west or North-east. Maximum amount of rain received by the city of Chandigarh during monsoon season is 195.5 mm in a single day.
Autumn: In autumn (from Mid-March to April), the temperature may rise to a maximum of 36C. Temperatures usually remain between 16 to 27 in autumn. The minimum temperature is around 13C.
Winter: Winters (November to Mid-March) are quite cool and it can sometimes get quite chilly in Chandigarh. Average temperatures in winter remain at (max) 7C to 15 C and (min) -2C to 5C. Rain usually comes from the west during winters and it is usually a persistent rain for 2-3 days with sometimes hail-storms.
Spring: The climate remains quite pleasant during the spring season (from mid-February to mid-March and then from mid-September to mid-October). Temperatures vary between (max) 16C to 25C and (min) 9C to 18C.

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*Chennai

Chennai formerly known as MadrasCoordinates: 1305'N 8016'E  (13.09, 80.27)
Chennai formerly known as Madras, is the fourth largest metropolitan area of India and the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, Chennai had a population of 4.2 million in the 2001 census within its municipal corporation. The urban agglomeration of Chennai has an estimated population over 8 million, making it one of the largest urban agglomerations in India. The city was established in the 17th century by the British, who developed it into a major urban centre and naval base. By the 20th century, it had become an important administrative centre, as the capital of the Madras Presidency.
Chennai's economy has a broad industrial base in the automobile, technology, hardware manufacturing, and healthcare industries. The city is home to much of India's automobile industry and is the country's second-largest exporter of software, information technology (IT) and information-technology-enabled services (ITES), behind Bangalore. Chennai Zone contributes 39 per cent of the States GDP. Chennai accounts for 60 per cent of the countrys automotive exports and is sometimes referred to as "the Detroit of India".

Chennai hosts a large cultural event, the annual Madras Music Season, which includes performances by hundreds of artists. The city has a vibrant theatre scene and is an important centre for the Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form. The Tamil film industry, known as Kollywood, is based in the city; the soundtracks of the movies dominate its music scene. The city faces problems of water shortages, traffic congestion and air pollution.

The name Chennai is an eponym, etymologically derived from Chennapattinam or Chennapattanam or "Chinnupattanam" named after Chinnu the Great, the name of the town that grew up around Fort St. George, built by the British in 1640. There are different versions about the origin of the name. When the British landed here in 1639 A.D. it was said to be part of the empire of the Raja of Chandragiri. The British named it Chennapatnam after they acquired it from Chennappa Nayaka, a Vijayanagar chieftain. Gradually, the name was shortened to Chennai. The first instance of the use of the name Chennai is said to be in a sale deed dated August 1639 to Francis Day, an agent for the British where there is a reference to Chennaipattinam.

However, some believe Chennapattinam was named after the Chenna Kesava Perumal Temple, as the word Chenni in Tamil means face, and the temple was thought of as the face of the city.

The former name, Madras, is derived from Madraspattinam, a fishing village that lay to the north of Fort St. George. The origin of the name Madraspattinam is a subject of disagreement. One theory holds that the Portuguese, who arrived in the area in the 16th century, may have named the village Madre de Deus. However, historians believe that the village's name came from the once prominent Madeiros family (variously known as Madera or Madra in succeeding years), who had consecrated the Madre de Deus church in Santhome in 1575 (demolished in 1997). Another theory says that the village was named after an Islamic college (a madrasa) which was located in the area. After the British gained possession of the area in the 17th century, the two towns, Madraspattinam and Chennapattinam, eventually merged. The British referred to the united town as Madraspattinam, while the locals preferred to call it Chennapattinam. The city was officially renamed Chennai in 1996, about the same time that many Indian cities were undergoing name changes. Madras was seen as a Portuguese name.

The region around Chennai has served as an important administrative, military, and economic centre since the 1st century. It has been ruled by various South Indian dynasties, notably the Pallava, the Chola, the Pandya, and Vijaynagar. The town of Mylapore, now part of Chennai, was once a major Pallavan port. The Portuguese arrived in 1522 and built a port called So Tom after the Christian apostle, St Thomas, who is believed to have preached in the area between 52 and 70 AD. In 1612, the Dutch established themselves near Pulicat, just north of the city.

On August 22, 1639, Francis Day of the British East India Company bought a small strip of land on the Coromandel Coast from the Vijayanagara King, Peda Venkata Raya in Chandragiri. The region was ruled by Damerla Venkatapathy, the Nayak of Vandavasi. He granted the British permission to build a factory and warehouse for their trading enterprises. A year later, the British built Fort St George, which became the nucleus of the growing colonial city. In 1746, Fort St. George and Madras were captured by the French under General La Bourdonnais, the Governor of Mauritius, who plundered the town and its outlying villages. The British regained control in 1749 through the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle and fortified the town's fortress wall to withstand further attacks from the French and another looming threat, Hyder Ali, the Sultan of Mysore. By the late 18th century, the British had conquered most of the region around Tamil Nadu and the northern modern-day states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, establishing the Madras Presidency with Madras as the capital. Under British rule, the city grew into a major urban centre and naval base.

With the advent of railways in India in the late 19th century, the thriving urban centre was connected to other important cities such as Bombay and Calcutta, promoting increased communication and trade with the hinterland. Madras was briefly under Portuguese and French rule during 16th & 18th century.
Madras was the only Indian city to be attacked by the Central Powers during World War I, when an oil depot was shelled by the German light cruiser SMS Emden on September 22, 1914, as it raided shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean, causing disruption to shipping. After India gained its independence in 1947, the city became the capital of Madras State, renamed the state of Tamil Nadu in 1969. The violent agitations of 1965 against the imposition of Hindi as the national language marked a major shift in the political dynamics of the city and the whole state.

Chennai is on the southeast coast of India in the northeast of Tamil Nadu on a flat coastal plain known as the Eastern Coastal Plains. Its average elevation is around 6.7 metres (22 ft), and its highest point is 60 m (200 ft). The Marina Beach runs for 12 km along the shoreline of the city. Two rivers meander through Chennai, the Cooum River (or Koovam) through the centre and the Adyar River to the south. A third river, the Kortalaiyar, flows through the northern fringes of the city before draining into the sea at Ennore. Adyar and Cooum rivers are heavily polluted with effluents and waste from domestic and commercial sources. The state government periodically removes silt and pollution from the Adyar, which is much less polluted than the Cooum. A protected estuary on the Adyar forms a natural habitat for several species of birds and animals. The Buckingham Canal, 4 km (3 miles) inland, runs parallel to the coast, linking the two rivers. The Otteri Nullah, an east-west stream, runs through north Chennai and meets the Buckingham Canal at Basin Bridge. Several lakes of varying size are located on the western fringes of the city. Red Hills, Sholavaram and Chembarambakkam Lake supply Chennai with potable water. Groundwater sources are becoming brackish.
Chennai's soil is mostly clay, shale and sandstone. Sandy areas are found along the river banks and coasts, such as Tiruvanmiyur, Adyar, Kottivakkam, Santhome, George Town, Tondiarpet and the rest of coastal Chennai. Here rainwater runoff percolates quickly through the soil. Clay underlies most of the city including T. Nagar, West Mambalam, Anna Nagar, Villivakkam, Perambur and Virugambakkam. Areas of hard rock include Guindy, Perungudi,Velachery, Adambakkam and a part of Saidapet.

Chennai is divided into four parts: North, Central, South and West. North Chennai is primarily an industrial area. Central Chennai is the commercial heart of the city and includes an important business district, Parry's Corner. South Chennai and West Chennai, previously mostly residential, are fast becoming commercial, home to a growing number of information technology firms, financial companies and call centres. The city is expanding quickly along the Old Mahabalipuram Road and the Grand Southern Trunk Road (GST Road) in the south and towards Ambattur, Koyambedu and Sriperumbdur in the west. Chennai is one of the few cities in the world that accommodates a national park, the Guindy National Park, within its limits.

Chennai lies on the thermal equator and is also coastal, which prevents extreme variation in seasonal temperature. For most of the year, the weather is hot and humid. The hottest part of the year is late May and early June, known locally as Agni Nakshatram ("fire star") or as Kathiri Veyyil, with maximum temperatures around 3842 C (100107 F). The coolest part of the year is January, with minimum temperatures around 1920 C (6668 F). The lowest temperature recorded is 15.8 C (60.44 F) and highest 45 C (113 F). The average annual rainfall is about 1,300 mm (51 inches). The city gets most of its seasonal rainfall from the north-east monsoon winds, from mid-September to mid-December. Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal sometimes hit the city. Highest annual rainfall recorded is 2,570 mm (101 in) in 2005. The most prevailing winds in Chennai are the South-westerly between May and September and the North-easterly during the rest of the year.

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*Dehradun

Dehradun/Dehra Dun/Dehra DunCoordinates: 3020'N 7804.E  (30.33, 78.06)
Dehradun (also spelled Dehra Doon or Dehra Dun), is the capital city of the state of Uttarakhand (earlier called Uttaranchal) in India, and the headquarters of Dehradun District. It is located in the Doon valley, 230 kilometers north of India's capital New Delhi and the Delhi metropolitan area. The district is surrounded by the Himalayas in the north, Shivalik Hills in the south, the river Ganga in the east, and the river Yamuna in the west. The water divide of Ganga and Yamuna passes through the city. It is also located on the northwestern side of the fertile Gangetic plains of India. Before the creation of Uttarakhand on November 9, 2000, Dehradun was a part of Uttar Pradesh. Neighbouring cities and towns include Haridwar, Rishikesh, Roorkee, Mussoorie and Saharanpur.
A product that has made Dehradun known within India is "Dehradooni Basmati Rice" and Lychee. Also, it has always been known as the home of Engineering Organizations viz. Survey of India and other research institutes Forest Research Institute (FRI), Rashtriya Indian Military College, Indian Military Academy (IMA), Survey Of India, IIP & ONGC. The city is renowned for education and is home to over 300 high schools. Some of the schools include, old Irish Christian Missionary schools as old as 100 years old. Schools which are widely acclaimed include The Doon School, Welham Boys' School, Col. Brown Cambridge School, Brightland's School, RIMC or Rashtriya Indian Military College and National Institute for Visually Handicapped. The city also houses some of the most top notch science research centers. That includes Indian Forest Reserve Institute, Survey Of India, DRDO, DEAL, IRDE, IIP, IIRS & ONGC.

Dera (or Dehra) is a camp, while Dun or Doon is a reference to a local term used for a river valley between a smaller range (Shivaliks) and the main Himalayas, and the present town of Dehradun was founded in the early eighteenth century by 'Ram Rai', the elder son of seventh Sikh Guru, Guru Har Rai, and the founder of the Udasi sect of Ascetics, who came here in 1675, and first settled in village Dhamawala which even today hosts the annual 'Jhanda Fair' on the fifth day after Holi in his memory. Thus the name refers to his Dera or settlement in the valley, and marking this settlement is a Gurudwara called 'Ram Rai Darbar', built in 1699, and modelled on the tomb of Mughal Emperor Jehangir.
In Skanda Purana, Dun is mentioned as a part of the region called 'Kedar Khand', the abode of Shiva. Another belief states that Drona, the great teacher of Kauravas and Pandavas lived here, for a brief period hence the name, "Drona-nagri".

Dehradun has a sub-tropical climate with cool winters, warm and crisp springs, hot summers and a strong monsoon. The mountains around Dehradun receive sustained snowfall in winter, and the city suffers from clod waves in the winter. April to June are the summer months, with highs averaging around 33oC (93oF). The monsoon starts in late June and ends in September often with weeks of torrential rainfall, this season should generally be avoided by visitors. Autumn starts in late September and goes on till November, with average temperatures around 16oC (60oF). Winter lasts from December to February, with average lows near 4oC (38oF), followed by spring which lasts from late February to early March.

The posh city of Dehradun is bustling. It is the state capital and is also the home of many government institutions. The center of city's activities is the popular landmark known as the Clock-Tower (Ghanta-Ghar), which is a tall structures with 5 functioning clocks; . The numerous high schools of the city attract students from all over the country. During the day it is common to see students (dressed in various high-school uniforms) to be moving around the city. Even though city transportation is now taken care of by blue striped city buses crisscrossing the city, another popular site are the omnipresent blue three wheel vehicles (known as "Vikrams"). These vehicles provide the most common and cheapest form of public transport, however, these vehicles have also been cited as the chief cause of increased levels of noise and air pollution in the city.

The city has witnessed tremendous growth in the last 20 years. Because of its educational background and high international remittances, Dehradun enjoys a high per capita income, which in dollar terms hovers close to $1800 (national average $800). The city's transition into a large urban centre has been nothing less than phenomenal. Dehradun is in a middle of a commercial & IT boom, which is amplified by the establishment of Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) and various SEZ (special economic zones) through out the city. Right from IT Parks to specifically built industrial belts have proved to be a heaven for industrialists of national and international repute. Combined with excise benefits companies are finding prospective establishment in the city (like other parts of Uttarakhand) very attractive. With the construction of Delhi-Dehradun four lane highway now in full swing, the primary bottle neck endangering the city's growth (the Delhi-Dehradun two lane highway) has been solved. More economic development is expected on a much wider scale.

Nearby locations are the hill stations of Mussoorie just 35 km away. There is a 16 km (easy) trekking route from Dehradun to Mussoorie. Dhanaulti is a lovely hill station beyond Mussoorie Chakrata is another nearby hill station, but it is a good 80 km away. Paonta Sahib is a pilgrimage place for Sikhs with a historic Gurudwara on the banks of the Yamuna. Other nearby religious places are Haridwar and Rishikesh.

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*Guwahati

Guwahati (previously spelled Gauhati)Coordinates: 2610'N 9146'E  (26.17, 91.77)
Guwahati (previously spelled Gauhati) is a major city in eastern India, often considered as the gateway to the North-East Region (NER) of the country and is the largest city within the region. Dispur, the capital of the Indian state of Assam is situated within the city. Guwahati is one of the most rapidly growing cities in India. During past few decades it has experienced unprecedented spatial expansion and also steep rise in population. In fact according to a survey done by a UK media, Guwahati is among the first 100 fastest growing city of the world and is 5th fastest growing among Indian cities. Today, the city straddles between the LGB International Airport in the west to Narengi in the east for almost 45 kilometres and between the southern bank of the Brahmaputra river and the foothills of the Shillong plateau for around 15 kilometres. Moreover, the city is also getting gradually expanded to the northern bank of Brahmaputra. Guwahati with population just 0.2 million in 1971 is a million plus city today. Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), the city's local government covers an area of 216 km, while Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), the planning and development authority covers an area of 340 km.

It is a major commercial and educational center of eastern India and is home to world class institutions such as the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati. The city is also a major center for cultural activities and sports in the North Eastern Region and for the administrative and political activities in Assam. The city is also an important hub for transportation in the North East Region.

Traditionally, Guwahati has been an important administrative and trading center and a river port. The name Guwahati is derived from two Assamese words: 'guwa' (areca nut) and 'haat' (market place). The name used to be spelled as Gowhatty (pre-colonial and colonial), standardized to Gauhati (colonial-British), which was then changed to the present form in the late 1980s to conform to the local pronunciation.

Guwahati's myths and history are extended to several thousands of years. Although a specific time of the city's origin is unknown, with reference from the epics, puranas and from the pages of the explored history, it can be concluded that it is one of the ancient cities in Asia.

Epigraphic sources place capitals of many ancient kingdoms in Guwahati. It was the capital of the mythological kings Naraka and Bhagadatta (reference in the Mahabharata). The ancient sakti temple of Kamakhya in the Nilachal hill (also important seat of tantric and Vajrayana Buddhism), Navagraha, the nine planets temple (ancient and a unique temple for astrology) located in Chitrachal Hill and archaeological remains in Basista and many other locations support the mythological characters and the city's ancient past.

The Ambari excavations trace the city to the 6th century AD. The city was known as Pragjyotishpura and Durjoya in different periods of time and was the capital under the Varman and the Pala dynasties of the Kamarupa kingdom. Descriptions by Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang) reveal that during the greatest Varman king Bhaskaravarma 7th century AD, the city was stretched to 19 km and probably was the principal base for his strong naval force (30,000 war-boats, with officers knowing details of the sea-routes in Indian Ocean to China - Xuanzang). The city remained as the capital of Assam till 10-11th century AD under the rulers of the Pala dynasty. Excavations in Ambari and the brick walls and houses excavated during construction of the present auditorium of Cotton College, Guwahati suggest that it was a city of great size with economic and strategic importance till the 9-11th century AD.

Digholy Pukhury, GuwahatiIn the medieval times, after the destruction of the Kamata kingdom between the 12-15th century AD, the city lost its earlier glory and became only a strategic outpost of the then Koch Hajo and Ahom Kingdoms of western and eastern Assam. Later the western part of the Koch Kingdom fell to the Mughals and the eastern half became an Ahom protectorate. Although the actual border between both the powers (Ahoms and Mughals) kept fluctuating between Kartoya river (now in North Bengal) to Manas river and Barnadi river time to time, Guwahati became the actual war-front (as the outpost of importance).

The city was the seat of the Borphukan, the civil and military authority of the lower Assam region appointed by the Ahom kings. The Borphukan's residence was in the present Fansi Bazaar area, and his council-hall, called Dopdar, was situated about 300 yards (270 m) to the west of the Bharalu stream. The Majindar Baruah, the personal secretary of the Borphukan, had his residence in the present-day Deputy Commissioner's residence.

The Mughals attacked Assam 17 times and Guwahati was captured many times. The Battle of Saraighat fought close to Guwahati in 1671 is the most well known war in which the Mughals were over-run due to the strong leadership of Lachit Borphukan and hard work of the Assamese Army.

There are a number of historic features in Guwahati. The Dighali Pukhuri is a rectangular lake that was connected to the Brahmaputra, and was an ancient boat yard, which was probably used by the Ahoms in the medieval times. Moreover, there are many tanks, temples, ramparts, etc. in the city. The most important archaeological site is the Ambari excavation site close to Dighali Pukhuri.

Geomorphologically, the city is located in an area, where the Shillong Plateau and the Floodplains of the Brahmaputra confront each other. Landforms within the city are therefore unique with dissected hills (originally part of the Shillong Plateau), plain areas and natural lakes (the beels), swamps and the mighty river Brahmaputra.

The main city is situated on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra. At places the width of the river is 6 to 8 km, while its narrowest portion (1.8 km) is in the location of the famous bridge of Saraighat. There are many permanent and temporary islands and beaches in the river. Umananda a permanent island situated close to the city-center provides a unique picturesque environment. The natural drainage system consist of the Bharalu River (a tributary - the Brahmaputra) and its inter-linkages to the beels and to the Brahmaputra river. Apart from Bharalu, many small rivers Morabharalu, Bahini, and Basista flow within the city interconnected with the feeder drains of the city.

There are numerous beels spread throughout the city, which largely contribute to aesthetic and natural environments.Deepor Beel, a Ramsar Convention list wetland of international importance, the only such large water reserve of Guwahati adds to its close relation with nature. It is a famous site for the bird fans after being declared a bird sanctuary by the officials. Other water bodies/wetland within the city are Soru Sola Beel and Bor Sola Beel. The Bor-Sola Beel, which about four times the length of Dighalipukhuri, stretches from behind the Meghadoot Cinema hall and the Nepali Mandir in the Paltan Bazaar locality in the north end to Sarabhatti locality in the south end and is the biggest water body within the city.

There are several hills of different sizes and shapes. The hills in the northern areas (Nilachal or Kamakhya Hill in the north-west, Chitrasala or Kharghuli Hill in the north) close to the bank of Brahmaputra, south-central areas (Narakasur Hill, Kalapahar and Fatasil Hill) and eastern areas (Narengi, Hengerabari, etc) have in fact guided Guwahati's development in three elongated corridors limiting to the plain areas. Many of these hills such as the Nilachal, Chitrachal, Narakasur, etc. are famous of their legendary, religious and historic importance.

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*Hyderabad

HyderabadCoordinates: 1721'58"N 7828'34"E  (17.36, 78.47)
Hyderabad is the capital city and most populous city of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The city of Hyderabad has an estimated population of around 7 million, making it an A-1 status city. Greater Hyderabad metropolitan area which incorporates surrounding urban nodes is the second largest in terms of land area in the country after Delhi.
Hyderabad is known for its rich history, culture and architecture representing its unique character as a meeting point for North and South India, and also its multilingual culture, both geographically and culturally. Also known as The City of Nizams and The City of Pearls, Hyderabad is today one of the fast developing cities in the country and a modern hub of Information technology, ITES, and biotechnology. The people of Hyderabad are known as Hyderabadis, a term derived from the city's name Hyderabad.

Hyderabad has become a preferred conference venue in India as well as the world, with many conferences and meetings taking place in the city. The city is home to the world's largest film studio, the Ramoji Film City as well as the second largest film industry in the country, the Telugu Film Industry known popularly as Tollywood. The city is also known to be a sporting destination with many national and international games conducted here. The city is regarded as a blend of traditionality with modernity.

Theories explaining the origins and etymology behind Hyderabad's name differ. A popular theory suggests that after founding the city, Quli Qutb Shah fell in love with and married a local Banjara girl known as Bhagyamathi naming the city,Bhagyanagaram. Upon her conversion to Islam, Bhagyamathi changed her name to Hyder Mahal and thus the city was named Hyderabad (literally, "the city of Hyder").

Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, a ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty the ruling family of the Golconda, previously a feudatory of Bahmani sultanate that declared independence in 1512, founded the city of Hyderabad on the banks of the Musi River in 1591; to relieve a water shortage the dynasty had experienced at their old headquarters at Golconda. He also ordered the construction of the Charminar, the iconic monument of the city, in 1591, reportedly in gratitude to the Almighty for arresting the plague epidemic before it did irreversible damage to his new city.
The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb captured Hyderabad in 1687 and during this short Mughal rule. But the Mughal-appointed governors of the city soon gained autonomy. In 1724, Asaf Jah I, who was granted the title Nizam-ul-Mulk ("Governor of the country") by the Mughal emperor, defeated a rival official to establish control over Hyderabad. Thus began the Asaf Jahi dynasty that ruled Hyderabad until a year after India's independence from Britain. Asaf Jah's successors ruled as the Nizams of Hyderabad. The rule of the seven Nizams saw the growth of Hyderabad both culturally and economically. Hyderabad became the formal capital of the kingdom and Golconda was almost abandoned. Huge reservoirs, like the Nizam Sagar, Tungabhadra, Osman Sagar, Himayat Sagar, and others were built. Survey work on Nagarjuna Sagar had also begun during this time; the actual work was completed by the Government of India in 1969. The wealth and grandeur of the Nizams is demonstrated by the fabled Jewels of The Nizams which is a tourist attraction.The state was richest and the largest among the princely states of India. The land area of the state was 90,543 mi its population in 1901 was 5,00,73,759. It enjoyed an estimated revenue of 9,00,29,000.

After the Indian independence in 1947, under the terms of independence from the British, the Nizam wanted to either remain independent or accede to Pakistan. India, then, implemented an economic blockade and forced Hyderabad state to sign a Standstill Agreement with the Indian Union. On September 17, 1948, more than a year after India had gained independence; the Nizam signed the Instrument of Accession to the Indian Union in the aftermath of Operation Polo.
On November 1, 1956, the states of India were reorganized on linguistic grounds. The territories of the State of Hyderabad were divided between newly created Andhra Pradesh, Bombay state (later Maharashtra), and Karnataka. Hyderabad and the surrounding areas were added to Andhra Pradesh, based on the Telugu speaking community. Thus, Hyderabad became the capital city of the new state of Andhra Pradesh.
After becoming the capital, the city slowly started to shun the shadow of a princely state and gain importance politically, geographically and economically. People from various parts of the state started settling and investing here. Since '90s the city has transformed itself hugely to acquire the present form, thanks to liberalisation. This brought many changes in lifestyle and culture. It saw the makeshift of Telugu filmdom from Chennai to Hyderabad. The growth in IT sector and construction of International Airport witnessed rise in various other fields like real-estate in 2000s.

Situated on the Deccan Plateau, Hyderabad has an average elevation of about 500 metres above sea level (1640 ft). Most of the area has a rocky terrain and some areas are hilly. There is a lot of cultivation in the surrounding areas with paddy fields and other crops which are grown.

The original city of Hyderabad was founded on the banks of river Musi. Now known as the historic "Old City", home to the Charminar and Mecca Masjid, it lies on the southern bank of the river. The city center saw a shift to the north of the river, with the construction of many government buildings and landmarks there, especially south of the Hussain Sagar lake. The rapid growth of the city, along with the growth of Secunderabad and neighboring municipalities has resulted in a large and populous metropolitan area.

Hyderabad has a tropical wet and dry climate with hot summers from late February to early June, the monsoon season from late June to early October and a warm winter from late October to early February. Hyderabad gets about 32 inches (about 810 mm) of rain every year, almost all of it concentrated in the monsoon months. The highest temperature ever recorded was 46 o C (115 F) while the lowest recorded temperature was 6 o C (43 F).

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*Jaipur

JaipurCoordinates: 2655'34"N 7549'25"E  (26.93, 75.82)
Jaipur, also popularly known as the Pink City, is the capital of Rajasthan state, India. Historically rendered as Jeypore, Jaipur is the former capital of the princely state of Jaipur. Founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, the ruler of Amber, the city today has a population of more than 5 million residents.
The city is remarkable among pre-modern Indian cities for the width and regularity of its streets which are laid out into six sectors separated by broad streets 111 ft (34 m) wide. The urban quarters are further divided by networks of gridded streets. Five quarters wrap around the east, south, and west sides of a central palace quarter, with a sixth quarter immediately to the east. The Palace quarter encloses a sprawling palace complex (the Hawa Mahal, or palace of winds), formal gardens, and a small lake. Nahargarh Fort crowns the hill in the northwest corner of the old city. Another noteworthy building is Sawai Jai Singh's observatory, Jantar Mantar.

Jaipur, the pink city was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, a Kachwaha Rajput, who ruled from 1699-1744. Initially his capital was Amber (city), which lies at a distance of 11km from Jaipur. He felt the need of shifting his capital city with the increase in population and growing scarcity of water. Jaipur is the first planned city of India and the King took great interest while designing this city of victory. He consulted several books on architecture and architects before making the lay out of Jaipur.
After several battles with Marathas, Jai Singh was keen on the security aspect of the city. Due to this reason, he focused on his scientific and cultural interests to make a brilliant city. Being, a lover of mathematics and science, Jai Singh sought advice from Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, a Brahmin scholar of Bengal, to aid him design the city architecture. Vidyadhar referred the ancient Indian literature on astronomy, books of Ptolemy and Euclid, and discussed the plan with the King.
With a strategic plan, the construction of the city started in 1727. It took around 4 years to complete the major palaces, roads and square. The city was built following the principles of Shilpa Shastra, the Indian Architecture. The city was divided into nine blocks, out of which two consist the state buildings and palaces, whereas the remaining seven blocks were allotted to the public. In order to ensure the security, huge fortification walls were made along with seven strong gates.
According to that time, architecture of the town was very advanced and certainly the best in Indian subcontinent. In 1853, when Prince of Wales visited Jaipur, the whole city was painted in Pink color to welcome him. Still, the neat and broadly laid-out avenues, painted in pink provide a magical charm to the city. Jaipur is rich in its cultural and architectural beauty, which can be traced in the various historical and aesthetic places that reside in the city. This city of victory really wins the hearts of the people with its splendid charisma.

In the 19th century the city grew rapidly and became prosperous; by 1900 it had a population of 160,000. The city's wide boulevards were paved and lit with gas. The city had several hospitals. Its chief industries were in metals and marble, fostered by a school of art founded in 1868. The city also had three colleges, including a Sanskrit college (1865) and a girls' school (1867) initiated under the reign of the enigmatic Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II. There was also a wealthy and enterprising community of native bankers, particularly the Jains and the Marwaris.

Jaipur is considered by many urbanisms to be one of the best planned cities. It has been claimed to be the first planned city in India.It was at that time one of the best planned cities in Asia. Jaipur(Amber)'s Kings are not considered to be good rajputs but were certainly good rulers. In an era when most of the rajputs were busy fighting with each other, Jaipur's kings diplomatically broadened their control sphere maintaining good relations with Mughals. But certainly they lacked the well known rajput pride.The city was planned according to Indian Vastu Shastra (Vedic or Pouranic Planning for the comfort and prosperity of the citizens). The directions of each street and market are east to West and North to South. The Eastern gate is called Suraj (Sun) Pol, while the Western gate is called Chand (Moon) Pol. There are only three gates facing East, west, and North including the Northern gate (known as Zorawar Singh gate) which faces toward the ancestral capital of Amber, while many gates face South. Although the present city has expanded from outside of its walls, the original planning was within the walls. The gates used to be closed at sunset and opened at sunrise. Almost all Northern Indian towns of that period presented a chaotic picture of narrow twisting lanes, a confusion of run-down forts/temples/palaces and temporary shacks that bore no resemblance at all to the principles set out in Hindu architectural manuals which call for strict geometric planning. Thus, for Sawai Jai Singh II and the Bengali Guru Vidyadhar (who was a 'Shaspati' - Hindu Priest Architect), the founding of Jaipur was also a ritual and a bronze opportunity to plan a whole town according to the principles of Hindu architectural theory. The town of Jaipur is, in fact, built in the form of an eight-part Mandala known as the 'Pithapada'. Nine signifies the nine planets of the ancient astrological zodiac. It is also known that Sawai Jai Singh II was a great astronomer and a town planner, and hence the 'Pithapada'. Also, the commercial shops are designed in multiples of nine (27), having one cross street for a planet.

The district is situated in the eastern part of Rajasthan. It is bound in the north by Sikar and Alwar, in South by Tonk, Ajmer and Sawai Madhopur. Nagaur, Sikar and Ajmer in the west and in east by Bharatpur and Dausa districts.

The major rivers passing through the Jaipur district are Banas and Banganga. Ground water resources to the extent of about 28.65 million cubic metre are available in the district. Although serious drought is rare, poor water management and exploitation of groundwater with extensive tube-well systems threatens agriculture in some areas.

Jaipur has a semi-arid climate. Although it receives over 50 cm (20 in) of rainfall annually the rainfall is concentrated in the monsoon months between June and September. Temperatures remain relatively high throughout the year, with the summer months of April to early July having average daily temperatures of around 30oC. During the monsoon months there are frequent, heavy rains and thunderstorms, but flooding is not common. The winter months of November to February are mild and pleasant, with average temperatures in the 15-18oC range and little or no humidity. There are however occasional cold waves that lead to temperatures near freezing.

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*Kolkata

Kolkata, formerly CalcuttaCoordinates: 2234'11"N 8822'11"E  (22.57, 88.37)
Kolkata, formerly Calcutta is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Kolkata is located in eastern India in the Ganges Delta at an elevation ranging between 1.5 m (5 ft) to 9 m (30 ft). It is spread linearly along the banks of the River Hooghly in a north-south direction. Much of the city was originally a vast wetland, reclaimed over the decades to accommodate the city's burgeoning population. The remaining wetland, known as East Calcutta Wetlands has been designated a "wetland of international importance" under the Ramsar Convention.
When referred to as "Kolkata", it usually includes the suburbs, and thus its population exceeds 15 million, making it India's third-largest city and agglomeration. This also makes it the world's 14th largest metropolitan area.
Calcutta served as the capital of India during the British Raj until 1911. Once the centre of modern education, industry, science, culture and politics in India, Kolkata has witnessed intense political violence, clashes and economic stagnation since 1954. Since the year 2000, economic rejuvenation has spurred in the city's growth. Like other metropolitan cities in India, Kolkata continues to struggle with the problems of urbanisation: poverty, pollution and traffic congestion. Kolkata is noted for its revolutionary history, ranging from the Indian struggle for independence to the leftist and trade union movements.

The name Kolkata and the anglicised name Calcutta have their root in Kalikata, the name of one of the three villages (Kalikata, Sutanuti, Govindapur) in the area before the arrival of the British. "Kalikata", in turn, is believed to be a version of Kalikshetra "Land of [the goddess] Kālī"). Alternatively, the name may have been derived from the Bengali term kilkila ("flat area"). Again, the name may have its origin in the indigenous term for a natural canal, Khal, followed by Katta (which may mean dug). While the city's name was always pronounced "Kolkata" in the local Bengali language, its official English name was only changed from "Calcutta" to "Kolkata" in 2001, reflecting the Bengali pronunciation. Some view this as a move to erase the legacy of British rule. This change has not always been reflected by overseas media. While news sources like the BBC have opted to call Bombay Mumbai, Kolkata remains Calcutta.

The discovery of the nearby Chandraketugarh, an archaeological site, provides evidence that the area has been inhabited for over two millennia. The city's documented history, however, begins with the arrival of the British East India Company in 1690, when the Company was consolidating its trade business in Bengal. Job Charnock, an administrator with the Company was traditionally credited as the founder of this city. However some academics have recently challenged the view that Charnock was the founder of the city.

In 1702, the British completed the construction of old Fort William, which was used to station its troops and as a regional base. Kolkata (then Calcutta) was declared a Presidency City, and later became the headquarters of the Bengal Presidency. Faced with frequent skirmishes with French forces, in 1756 the British began to upgrade their fortifications. When protests against the militarisation by the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-Ud-Daulah went unheeded he attacked and captured Fort William, leading to the infamous Black Hole incident. A force of Company sepoys and British troops led by Robert Clive recaptured the city the following year. Kolkata was named the capital of British India in 1772, although the capital shifted to the hilly town of Shimla during the summer months every year, starting from the year 1864. It was during this period that the marshes surrounding the city were drained and the government area was laid out along the banks of the Hooghly River. Richard Wellesley, the Governor General between 17971805, was largely responsible for the growth of the city and its public architecture which led to the description of Kolkata as "The City of Palaces". The city was a centre of the British East India Company's opium trade during the 18th and 19th century; locally produced opium was sold at auction in Kolkata, to be shipped to China.

By the early 19th century, Kolkata was split into two distinct areasone British (known as the White Town), the other Indian (known as Black Town). The city underwent rapid industrial growth from the 1850s, especially in the textile and jute sectors; this caused a massive investment in infrastructure projects like railroads and telegraph by British government. The coalescence of British and Indian culture resulted in the emergence of a new Babu class of urbane Indians whose members were often bureaucrats, professionals, read newspapers, were Anglophiles, and usually belonged to upper-caste Hindu communities. Throughout the nineteenth century, a socio-cultural reform, often referred to as the Bengal Renaissance resulted in the general uplifting of the people. In 1883, Surendranath Banerjee organised a national conference the first of its kind in nineteenth century India. Gradually Kolkata became a centre of the Indian independence movement, especially revolutionary organisations. The 1905 Partition of Bengal on communal grounds resulted in widespread public agitation and the boycott of British goods (Swadeshi movement). These activities, along with the administratively disadvantageous location of Kolkata in the eastern fringes of India, prompted the British to move the capital to New Delhi in 1911.

The city and its port were bombed several times by the Japanese during World War II, the first occasion being 20 December 1942, and the last being 24 December 1944. During the War, millions starved to death during the Bengal famine of 1943, caused by a combination of military, administrative and natural factors. In 1946, demands for the creation of a Muslim state led to large-scale communal violence resulting in the deaths of over 2,000 people. The partition of India also created intense violence and a shift in demographics large numbers of Muslims left for East Pakistan, while hundreds of thousands of Hindus fled into the city.

Over the 1960s and 1970s, severe power shortages, strikes and a violent Marxist-Maoist movement the Naxalites damaged much of the city's infrastructure, leading to an economic stagnation. In 1971, war between India and Pakistan led to the mass influx of thousands of refugees into Kolkata resulting in a massive strain on its infrastructure. In the mid-1980s, Mumbai overtook Kolkata as India's most populous city. Kolkata has been a strong base of Indian communism as West Bengal has been ruled by the CPI(M) dominated Left Front for three decades now the world's longest-running democratically-elected Communist government. The city's economic recovery gathered momentum after economic reforms in India introduced by the central government in the mid-1990s. Since 2000, Information Technology (IT) services have revitalized the citys stagnant economy. The city is also experiencing a growth in the manufacturing sector.

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*Lucknow

LucknowCoordinates: 2651'38"N 8054'57"E  (26.86, 80.91)
Lucknow is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of India. It had a population of 2,541,101 in 2006. Lucknow is also the administrative headquarters of Lucknow District and Lucknow Division. According to Government of India, the district Lucknow is one of the Minority Concentrated District in India on the basis of the 2001 census data on population, socio-economic indicators and basic amenities indicators.
Located in what was historically known as the Awadh region, Lucknow has always been a multicultural city. Courtly manners, beautiful gardens, poetry, music, and fine cuisine patronized by the Persian-loving Shia Nawabs of the city are well known amongst Indians and students of South Asian culture and history. Lucknow is popularly known as the The City of Nawabs. It is also known as the Golden City of the East, Shiraz-i-Hind and The Constantinople of India. Today, Lucknow is a vibrant city that is witnessing an economic boom and is among the top ten fastest growing non-major-metropolitan cities of India. It is a centre of Hindi and Urdu literature and is the second largest city in Uttar Pradesh state.

The ancient history of Lucknow is believed to begin after the Suryawanshi king Lord Rama ordered his younger brother Lakshmana to establish a town at the present site of Lakshman Tila. Lucknow was named Lakshmanpuri or Lakhanpuri or Laknamau after him. Slowly the name Lakhanpuri became 'Lakhnau' and then named 'Lucknow' by the British.

After 1350 AD the Lucknow and parts of Awadh region have been under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughal Empire, the Nawabs of Awadh, the East India Company and the British Raj. Lucknow has been one of the major centers of First War of Independence, participated actively in India's Independence movement, and after Independence has emerged as an important city of North India.
Until 1719, subah of Awadh was a province of the Mughal Empire administered by a Governor appointed by the Emperor. Saadat Khan also called Burhan-ul-Mulk a Persian adventurer was appointed the Nazim of Awadh in 1722 and he established his court in Faizabad near Lucknow.
Awadh was known as the granary of India and was important strategically for the control of the Doab, the fertile plain between the Ganga and the Yamuna rivers. It was a wealthy kingdom, able to maintain its independence against threats from the Marathas, the British and the Afghans. The third Nawab, Shuja-ud-Daula fell out with the British after aiding Mir Qasim, the fugitive Nawab of Bengal. He was comprehensively defeated in the Battle of Buxar by the East India Company, after which he was forced to pay heavy penalties and cede parts of his territory. The British appointed a resident in 1773, and over time gained control of more territory and authority in the state. They were disinclined to capture Awadh outright, because that would bring them face to face with the Marathas and the remnants of the Mughal Empire.
Lucknow's rise to growth and fame begins with its elevation as capital of Awadh by Nawab Asaf-Ud-Dowlah. He was a great philanthropist and gave Lucknow a unique and enduring legacy. The architectural contributions of these Awadh rulers include several imposing monuments. Of the monuments standing today, the Bara Imambara, the Chhota Imambara, and the Roomi Darwaza are notable examples. One of the more lasting contributions by the Nawabs is the syncretic composite culture that has come to be known as the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb.

In 1798, the fifth Nawab Wazir Ali Khan alienated both his people and the British, and was forced to abdicate. The British then helped Saadat Ali Khan to the throne. Saadat Ali Khan was a puppet king, who in the treaty of 1801 ceded half of Awadh to the British East India Company and also agreed to disband his troops in favor of a hugely expensive, British-run army. This treaty effectively made the state of Awadh a vassal to the British East India Company, though it notionally continued to be part of the Mughal Empire in name until 1819.
The treaty of 1801 formed an arrangement that was very beneficial to the Company. They were able to use Awadh's vast treasuries, repeatedly digging into them for loans at reduced rates. In addition, the revenues from running Awadh's armed forces brought them useful revenues while it acted as a buffer state. The Nawabs were ceremonial kings, busy with pomp and show but with little influence over matters of state. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, the British had grown impatient with the arrangement and wanted direct control of Awadh.

In 1856 the East India Company first moved its troops to the border, then annexed the state, which was placed under a chief commissioner - Sir Henry Lawrence. Wajid Ali Shah, the then Nawab, was imprisoned, and then exiled by the Company to Calcutta. In the subsequent Revolt of 1857 his 14-year old son Birjis Qadr son of Begum Hazrat Mahal was crowned ruler, and Sir Henry Lawrence killed in the hostilities. Following the rebellion's defeat, Begum Hazrat Mahal and other rebel leaders obtained asylum in Nepal.
Those company troops who were recruited from the state, along with some of the nobility of the state, were major players in the events of 1857. The rebels took control of Awadh, and it took the British 18 months to reconquer the region, months which included the famous Siege of Lucknow. Oudh was placed back under a chief commissioner, and was governed as a British province. In 1877 the offices of lieutenant-governor of the North-Western Provinces and chief commissioner of Oudh were combined in the same person; and in 1902, when the new name of United Provinces of Agra and Oudh was introduced, the title of chief commissioner was dropped, though Oudh still retained some marks of its former independence.
The province of Awadh (anglicized to Oudh) was annexed by the East India Company in 1856 and placed under the control of a chief commissioner. In the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (also known as the First War of Indian Independence and the Indian Mutiny), the garrison based at the Residency in Lucknow was besieged by rebel forces. The famous Siege of Lucknow was relieved first by forces under the command of Sir Henry Havelock and Sir James Outram, followed by a stronger force under Sir Colin Campbell. Today, the ruins of the Residency and the picturesque Shaheed Smarak offer reminiscences of Lucknow's role in the stirring events of 1857.

The city played an important role in both the First War of Independence and the modern Indian freedom struggle. Whether it was the Lucknow Pact of 1916 or the Khilafat Movement it brought the citizens on a united platform against the British rule. In the Khilafat Movement Maulana Abdul Bari of Firangi Mahal, Lucknow actively participated and cooperated with Mahatama Gandhi and Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, Freedom fighter and one of the most great parliamentarians, Firoj Gandhi was also related to the city.
In 1901, after staying the capital of Oudh, since 1775, Lucknow, with a population of 264,049, was merged in the newly formed United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. However, it became the provincial capital in 1920 when the seat of government was moved from Allahabad. Upon Indian independence in 1947, Lucknow became the capital of Uttar Pradesh, the erstwhile United Provinces.

Situated in the heart of the great Gangetic plain, Lucknow city is surrounded by its rural towns and villages like the orchard town of Malihabad, historic Kakori, Mohanlal ganj, Gosainganj, Chinhat, Itaunja. On its eastern side lies Barabanki District, on the western side is Unnao District, on the southern side Raebareli District, and on the northern side the Sitapur and Hardoi districts. The Gomti River, the chief geographical feature, meanders through the city, dividing it into the Trans-Gomti and Cis-Gomti regions. Lucknow city is located in the seismic zone III .

Lucknow has a warm subtropical climate with cool, dry winters from December to February and dry, hot summers from April to June. The rainy season is from mid-June to mid-September, when Lucknow gets an average rainfall of 1010 mm (40 in) mostly from the south-west monsoon winds. In winter the maximum temperature is around 21 degrees Celsius and the minimum is in the 3 to 4 degrees Celsius range. Fog is quite common from late December to late January. Summers can be quite hot with temperatures rising to the 40 to 45 degree Celsius range, the average highs being in the high 30's.

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*Mumbai

Mumbai, formerly BombayCoordinates: 1858'N 7249'E  (18.96, 72.82)
Mumbai, formerly Bombay, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra and the financial capital of India. With a population of 13,662,885, it is the second most populous city proper in the world. Along with the neighbouring suburbs of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it forms, at 19 million, the world's fifth most populous metropolitan area. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. Mumbai's port handles over half of India's maritime cargo.
Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment centre of India, generating 5% of India's GDP and accounting for 25% of industrial output, 40% of maritime trade, and 70% of capital transactions to India's economy. Mumbai is one of the world's top ten centres of commerce by global financial flow, home to important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange, the National Stock Exchange of India and the corporate headquarters of many Indian companies and numerous multinational corporations. The city also houses India's Hindi film and television industry, known as Bollywood. Mumbai's business opportunities, as well as its potential to offer a better standard of living, attract migrants from all over India and, in turn, make the city a potpourri of many communities and cultures.

The name "Mumbai" is an eponym, etymologically derived from Mumba or Maha-Amba the name of the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi and Aai, "mother" in Marathi. The former name Bombay had its origins in the 16th century when the Portuguese arrived in the area and called it by various names, which finally took the written form Bombaim, still common in current Portuguese use. After the British gained possession in the 17th century, it was anglicised to Bombay, although it was known as Mumbai or Mambai to Marathi and Gujarati-speakers, and as Bambai in Hindi and Urdu. The name was officially changed to its Marathi pronunciation of Mumbai in 1996.

A widespread explanation of the origin of the traditional English name Bombay holds that it was derived from a Portuguese name meaning "good bay". This is based on the fact that bom (masc.) is Portuguese for "good" whereas the English word "bay" is similar to the Portuguese baa (fem., bahia in old spelling). The normal Portuguese rendering of "good bay" would have been boa bahia rather than the grammatically incorrect bom bahia. However, it is possible to find the form baim (masc.) for "little bay" in sixteenth-century Portuguese.

Artifacts found near Kandivali in northern Mumbai indicate that these islands had been inhabited since the Stone Age. Documented evidence of human habitation dates back to 250 BC, when it was known as Heptanesia (Ptolemy) (Ancient Greek: A Cluster of Seven Islands). In the 3rd century BC, the islands formed part of the Maurya Empire, ruled by the Buddhist emperor, Ashoka. During its first few centuries, control over Mumbai was disputed between the Indo-Scythian Western Satraps and the Satavahanas. The Hindu rulers of the Silhara Dynasty later governed the islands until 1343, when Gujarat annexed them. Some of the oldest edifices of the archipelago the Elephanta Caves and the Walkeshwar temple complex date from this era.
In 1534, the Portuguese appropriated the islands from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. They were ceded to Charles II of England in 1661, as dowry for Catherine de Braganza. These islands were in turn leased to the British East India Company in 1668 for a sum of 10 per annum. The company found the deep harbour on the east coast of the islands to be ideal for setting up their first port in the sub-continent. The population quickly rose from 10,000 in 1661, to 60,000 in 1675. In 1687, the British East India Company transferred its headquarters from Surat to Mumbai. The city eventually became the headquarters of the Bombay Presidency.

From 1817 onwards, the city was reshaped with large civil engineering projects aimed at merging all the islands in the archipelago into a single amalgamated mass. This project, known as the Hornby Vellard, was completed by 1845, and resulted in the total area swelling to 438 km. In 1853, India's first passenger railway line was established, connecting Mumbai to the town of Thane. During the American Civil War (18611865), the city became the world's chief cotton trading market, resulting in a boom in the economy and subsequently enhancing the city's stature.
The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 transformed Bombay into one of the largest seaports on the Arabian Sea. Over the next thirty years, the city grew into a major urban centre, spurred by an improvement in infrastructure and the construction of many of the city's institutions. The population of the city swelled to one million by 1906, making it the second largest in India after Calcutta. As capital of the Bombay Presidency, it was a major base for the Indian independence movement, with the Quit India Movement called by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942 being its most rubric event. After India's independence in 1947, it became the capital of Bombay State. In the 1950 the city expanded to its present limits by incorporating parts of Salsette Island which lay to the north.

After 1955, when the State of Bombay was being re-organised along linguistic lines into the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, there was a demand that the city be constituted as an autonomous city-state. Bombay Citizens' commitee, an advocacy group comprising of leading Gujarati industrialists lobbied for Mumbai's independent status. However, the Samyukta Maharashtra movement opposed this, and insisted that Mumbai be declared the capital of Maharashtra. Following protests in which 105 people were killed by police firing, Maharashtra state was formed with Mumbai as its capital on May 1, 1960. In 1996, the city was renamed Mumbai by the Shiv Sena government of Maharashtra, in keeping with their policy of renaming colonial institutions after historic local names.

The city's secular fabric was torn apart in the riots of 199293, after large scale sectarian violence caused extensive loss of life and property. A few months later, a series of co-ordinated bombings at several city landmarks by Islamic extremists and the Bombay underworld killed around three hundred people. Over two hundred people were killed in the 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings when several bombs exploded on the Mumbai Suburban Railway. Recently the city has seen a series of politically motivated assaults on the North Indian population by the members of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. From 26 November through 29 November, 2008, a group of armed Islamic terrorists launched attacks in the southern part of Mumbai, murdering over 200 people, injuring hundreds and taking hostages in multiple locations including the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Oberoi Trident Hotel, Leopold Caf and the Jewish outreach center at Nariman House.

Mumbai lies at the mouth of the Ulhas River off the western coast of India, in the coastal region known as the Konkan. It sits on Salsette Island, partially shared with the district of Thane. Much of the city lies just above sea level, with average elevations ranging from 10 m (33 ft) to 15 m (49 ft). Northern Mumbai is hilly, and the highest point in the city is 450 m (1,476 ft). The city spans a total area of 603 km (233 sq mi).
Sanjay Gandhi National Park is located near to the city, and covers almost 1/6th of the city area. It is to be noted big cats such as panthers are still residing in this national park next to millions of people in an age of habitat shrinkage and species extinction.
Apart from the Bhatsa Dam, six major lakes supply water to the city: Vihar, Vaitarna, Upper Vaitarna, Tulsi, Tansa and Powai. Tulsi Lake and Vihar Lake are located in Borivili National Park, within the city's metropolitan limits. The supply from Powai Lake, also within the city limits, is used only for industrial purposes. Three small rivers, the Dahisar, Poinsar (or Poisar) and Ohiwara (or Oshiwara) originate within the park, while the now infamous Mithi River originates from Tulsi Lake and gathers water overflowing from Vihar and Powai Lakes. The coastline of the city is indented with numerous creeks and bays. The eastern coast of Salsette Island is covered with large mangrove swamps, rich in biodiversity. The western coast is mostly sandy and rocky. Soil cover in the city region is predominantly sandy due to its proximity to the sea. In the suburbs, the soil cover is largely alluvial and loamy. The underlying rock of the region is composed of black Deccan basalt flows, and their acid and basic variants dating back to the late Cretaceous and early Eocene eras. Mumbai sits on a seismically active zone owing to the presence of three fault lines in the vicinity. The area is classified as a Zone III region, which means an earthquake of up to magnitude 6.5 on the Richter-scale may be expected.

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*Mussoorie

Mussoorie (Mussourie, Masuri, Mansuri, Mansoori)Coordinates: 3027'N 7805'E  (30.45, 78.08)
Mussoorie (Mussourie, Masuri) is a city and a municipal board, about 34 km from Dehradun and in Dehradun district in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. This hill station, situated in the foothills of the Himalaya ranges, is also known as the Queen of the Hills. The adjoining town of Landour, which includes a military cantonment, is considered part of 'greater Mussoorie', as are the townships of Barlowganj and Jharipani. Being at an average altitude of 1,826 metres (5,991 ft), Mussoorie, with its green hills and varied flora and fauna, is a fascinating hill resort. Commanding snow ranges to the north-east, and glittering views of the Doon Valley and Shiwalik ranges in the south, the town was once said to present a 'fairyland' atmosphere to tourists. The name Mussoorie is often attributed to a derivation of 'mansoor', a shrub which is indigenous to the area. The town is in fact often referred to as 'Mansoori' by locals. Mussoorie is a popular destination for honeymooning couples, mainly because of its relatively cool climes and calm and lovely environment.

The history of Mussoorie dates back to 1825 when Captain Young, an adventurous British military officer, together with a Mr. Shore, the resident Superintendent of Revenues at Dehradun explored the present site and jointly constructed a shooting lodge. This laid the foundation of this holiday resort which now has few rivals. In 1827 a sanitorium was built at Landour, which later became a large cantonment, Colonel Everest built a home here in 1832, and by 1901 its population was 6461, rising to 15,000 in the summer season. Earlier, Mussoorie was approachable by road from Saharanpur, 58 miles (93 km) away. Accessibility became easier in 1900 with the railway coming to Dehradun, thus shortening the road trip to 21 miles (34 km).

The main promenade in Mussoorie is called, as in other hill stations, the Mall. In Mussoorie, the Mall stretches from Picture Palace at its eastern end to the Public Library (shortened to 'Library') at its western end. During the British Raj, signs on the Mall expressly stated: "Indians and Dogs Not Allowed"; racist signs of this type were commonplace in hill stations, which were founded 'by and for' the British. Motilal Nehru, the father of Jawahar Lal Nehru, deliberately broke this rule every day whenever he was in Mussoorie, and would pay the fine. The Nehru family, including Nehru's daughter Indira (later Indira Gandhi) were frequent visitors to Mussoorie in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. They also spent much time in nearby Dehradun, where Nehru's sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit ultimately settled full-time.
In April 1959, after fleeing Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama established the Tibetan Government of Exile in Mussoorie. The Government of Tibet in exile eventually moved to Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. The first Tibetan school was established in Mussoorie in 1960. Tibetans settled mainly in Happy Valley in Mussoorie. Today, some 5,000 Tibetans live in Mussoorie.

Now, Mussoorie suffers from over-development of hotels and tourist lodges, given its relative proximity to Delhi, Ambala and Chandigarh, and has serious problems of garbage collection, water scarcity and parking shortages, especially during the summer tourist season. Landour, Jharipani and Barlowganj have fewer such problems.
As of 2001 India census, Mussoori had a population of 26,069. Males constitute 56% of the population and females 44%. Mussoorie has an average literacy rate of 79%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 84%, and female literacy is 73%. In Mussoorie, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age. Mussoorie is conveniently connected by road to Delhi and major cities. It is called the "Gateway" to Yamunotri and Gangotri Shrines of Northern India. The closest rail station is Dehradun. Taxis are easily available for Mussorie as are buses at regular intervals. The best time to visit is from mid-March to mid-November though the downpours could be an inhibiting factor in the monsoon months of July to September.

Mussorie also has the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, the premier training institute for officers of the Indian Administative Service and other civil services. This unique institute is located about 2 km from Gandhi Chowk. The library area also houses the Northern Regional Headquarters of the Indo Tibetan Border Police. It is a venerated institute for dispensing comprehensive training for ITBP recruits patrolling the porous borders.
From the days of the Colonial Empire, the town has housed various schools, instituted for the children of British government officers and army personnel. Many of these institutes now house Indian students and retain the values as ascribed years before. Notable institutions include St. George's College, Mussoorie (founded in 1853), Oak Grove School, Wynberg-Allen, Guru Nanak Fifth Centenary, Mussoorie International, Tibetan Homes, Woodstock School, CST Mussoorie and St Clares Convent School. Some of the other famous institutions are 'Convent of Jesus and Mary Waverley' which is an all girls school and one of the second oldest convent schools built in entire India.

Mussoorie has a beautiful nature walk known as "Camel's Back Road". This road takes its name from mountain outcrop in the shape of a camel's hump. Along the camel back, a beautiful cemetery is located about mid-way on the loop. There is also "Gun Hill" where cannons were kept for the defense of Mussoorie. Gun Hill is accessible by the cable car on the Mall road. The oldest Christian church in the Himalayas, St Mary's, is situated above Mall Road, and is currently undergoing restoration. Kempty falls is a nice picnic spot. Company Garden is popular tourist destination. During season, the Company Garden has beautiful collection of flowers and plants. Happy Valley has a small Tibetan temple. This was the first Tibetan temple built in India. The temple was constructed in 1960 by the Tibetan refugees. Lal Tibba is another tourist spot of Mussoorie. Beautiful Dhanaulti is about 24 kilometers from Mussorie. Mussoorie also had India's largest roller skating rink. Other tourist spots of Mussoorie are Lake Mist, Kempty Falls, Municipal Garden, Mussoorie Lake, Children Lodge, Bhatta Falls, Jharipani Fall, Mosey Fall, Nag Devta Temple, Jwalaji Temple (Benog Hill), Clouds End, Van Chetna Kendra and Benog Mountain Quail Sanctuary.

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*New Delhi

New Delhi (Delhi)Coordinates: 2836'49.7"N 7712'31.8"E  (28.61, 77.21)
New Delhi (Delhi) is the capital city of India. With a total area of 42.7 km2, New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi and serves as the seat of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT). Planned by Edwin Lutyens, a leading 20th century British architect, New Delhi is known for its wide, tree-lined boulevards and houses numerous national institutions and landmarks as well.
Delhi (sometimes referred to as Dilli) is the second-largest city of India and with over 17 million people, the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population. It is a federally administered union territory officially known as the National Capital Region (NCR). Located on the banks of river Yamuna in northern India, Delhi has been continuously inhabited since at least the 6th century BC, according to archaeological evidence. After the rise of the Delhi Sultanate, Delhi emerged as a major political, cultural and commercial city along the trade routes between northwest India and the Indo-Gangetic plains. It is the site of many ancient and medieval monuments, archaeological sites and remains. In 1639, Mughal emperor Shahjahan built a new walled city in Delhi which served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1649 to 1857.

Human habitation was probably present in and around Delhi during the second millennium BC and before, as evidenced by archeological relics. The city is believed to be the site of Indraprastha, legendary capital of the Pandavas in the Indian epic Mahabharata. Settlements grew from the time of the Mauryan Empire (c. 300 BC). Remains of seven major cities have been discovered in Delhi. The Tomara dynasty founded the city of Lal Kot in 736 AD. The Chauhan Rajputs of Ajmer conquered Lal Kot in 1180 AD and renamed it Qila Rai Pithora. The Chauhan king Prithviraj III was defeated in 1192 by the Afghan Muhammad Ghori. In 1206, Qutb-ud-din Aybak, the first ruler of the Slave Dynasty established the Delhi Sultanate. Qutb-ud-din started the construction the Qutub Minar and Quwwat-al-Islam (might of Islam), the earliest extant mosque in India. After the fall of the Slave dynasty, a succession of Turkic and Central Asian dynasties, the Khilji dynasty, the Tughluq dynasty, the Sayyid dynasty and the Lodhi dynasty held power in the late medieval period, and built a sequence of forts and townships that are part of the seven cities of Delhi. In 1398, Timur Lenk invaded India on the pretext that the Muslim sultans of Delhi were too much tolerant to their Hindu subjects. Timur entered Delhi and the city was sacked, destroyed, and left in ruins. Delhi was a major center of Sufism during the Sultanate period. In 1526, Zahiruddin Babur defeated the last Lodhi sultan in the First Battle of Panipat and founded the Mughal Empire that ruled from Delhi, Agra and Lahore.
The Mughal Empire ruled northern India for more than three centuries, with a five-year hiatus during Sher Shah Suri's reign in the mid-16th century. Mughal emperor Akbar shifted the capital from Agra to Delhi. Shah Jahan built the seventh city of Delhi that bears his name (Shahjahanabad), and is more commonly known as the Old City or Old Delhi. The old city served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1638. Nader Shah defeated the Mughal army at the huge Battle of Karnal in February, 1739. After this victory, Nader captured and sacked Delhi, carrying away many treasures, including the Peacock Throne. In 1761, Delhi was raided by Ahmed Shah Abdali after the Third battle of Panipat. At the Battle of Delhi on 11 September 1803, General Lake's British forces defeated the Marathas.

Calcutta was the capital of India until December 1911 during the British Raj. However, Delhi had served as the political and financial centre of several empires of ancient and medieval India, most notably of the Mughal Empire from 1799 to 1849. During the early 1900s, a proposal was made to the British administration to shift the capital of the Indian Empire from Calcutta to Delhi. Unlike Calcutta, which was located on the eastern coast of India, Delhi was located in northern India and the Government of British India felt that it would be easier to administer India from Delhi rather than from Calcutta. George V, the then Emperor of India, made the announcement the capital of the Raj was to be shifted from Calcutta to Delhi.
New Delhi was laid out to the south of the Old City which was constructed by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. However, New Delhi overlays the site of seven ancient cities and hence includes many historic monuments like the Jantar Mantar and the Lodhi Gardens.

Much of New Delhi was planned by Edwin Lutyens and contracted to Sir Sobha Singh, a leading 20th century British architect and it has been dubbed "Lutyens' Delhi". Lutyens laid out the central administrative area of the city as a testament to Britain's imperial aspirations. At the heart of the city was the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhawan (then known as Viceroy's House) which sat atop Raisina Hill, formerly Raisina Pind a Sikh village. The Rajpath, also known as King's Way, stretched from the India Gate to the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The Secretariat which houses various ministries of the Government of India, flanked out of the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The Parliament House, designed by Herbert Baker, is located at the Sansad Marg, which runs parallel to the Rajpath.
After India gained independence in 1947, a limited autonomy was conferred to New Delhi and was administered by a Chief Commissioner appointed by the Government of India. In 1956, Delhi was converted into a union territory and eventually the Chief Commissioner was replaced by a Lieutenant Governor. The Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991 declared the Union Territory of Delhi to be formally known as National Capital Territory of Delhi. A system of diarchy was introduced under which the elected Government was given wide powers, excluding law and order which remained with the Central Government. The actual enforcement of the legislation came in 1993.

With a total area of 42.7 km2, New Delhi forms a small part of the Delhi metropolitan area and is located in the Indo-Gangetic Plain because of which there is little difference in the city's altitude. New Delhi and surrounding areas were once a part of the Aravali Range, but all that is left now is the Delhi ridge. The second feature is the Yamuna floodplains; New Delhi lies west of the Yamuna River, although for the most part, New Delhi is a landlocked city. East of the river is the urban area of Shahdara. New Delhi falls under the seismic zone-IV, making it vulnerable to major earthquakes.

New Delhi and its vicinity have a somewhat exaggerated continental climate due to its distance from the coasts and location with respect to mountain ranges. The temperature varies from 40 degrees Celsius in summers to around 4 degrees Celsius in winters. Delhi has a semi-arid climate with high variation between summer and winter temperatures. Summers are long, from early April to October, with the monsoon season in between. Winter starts in November and peaks in January. The annual mean temperature is 25 C (77 F); monthly mean temperatures range from 14 C to 33 C (58 F to 92 F). The average annual rainfall is approximately 714 mm (28.1 inches), most of which is during the monsoons in July and August.

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*Pune

Pune, formerly PoonaCoordinates: 1832'N 7351'E  (18.53, 73.85)
Pune, formerly Poona, is the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra in western India, around 160 kilometers southeast of the state capital, Mumbai. It is also the eighth largest city in India. Situated 560 metres above sea level on the Deccan plateau at the confluence of the Mula and Mutha River, Pune is the administrative capital of Pune district and the eighth most populous metropolitan area in India.
Pune is known to have existed as a town since 937 AD. Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire, lived in Pune as a boy, and later oversaw significant growth and development of the town during his reign. In 1730, Pune became an important political centre as the seat of the Peshwa, the prime minister of the Chhatrapati of Satara. After the town was annexed to British India in 1817, it served as a cantonment town and as the "monsoon capital" of the Bombay Presidency until the independence of India. In independent India, Pune is known for its educational facilities, having more than a hundred educational institutes and nine universities. It also boasts a growing industrial hinterland, with many information technology and automotive companies setting up factories in Pune district.

The name Pune (also transcribed Poona) derives from Punya Nagari (Sanskrit, "City of Virtue"). The oldest reference to this name is on a Rashtrakuta copper plate dated to 937, in which the town is referred to as Punya-Vishaya or Punak Vishaya. By the 13th century, it had come to be known as Kasbe Pune or Punavadi. Although the city's name is sometimes transcribed as Poona in English, a practice particularly common during the British Raj, the spelling "Pune" has now become standard.
Pune is also known as The Oxford of the East, due to the various educational institutions, and also sometimes referred to as The Detroit of India owing to the many manufacturing companies, particularly automobile giants, having their base within the city's metropolitan area.

Copper plates dated to 758 and 768 show that, by the 8th century, an agricultural settlement known as Punnaka existed where Pune is today. The plates indicate that this region was ruled by the Rashtrakutas. The Pataleshwar rock-cut temple complex was also built during this era.
Pune was a part of Yadava Empire of Deogiri from the 9th century to 1327. It was later ruled by the Nizamshahi sultans, until it was annexed by the Mughal Empire in the 17th century. In 1595, Maloji Bhosale was appointed the jahagirdar of Pune and Supe by the Mughals.

In 1625, Shahaji Bhonsle appointed Rango Bapuji Dhadphale as the administrator of Pune. He was one of the first major developers of the town, overseeing the construction of the Kasba, Somwar, Ravivar and Shaniwar Peths. Construction also began on the Lal Mahal palace, as Shahaji's son, Shivaji Bhonsle (later Chattrapati Shivaji) was to move there with his mother Jijabai. The Lal Mahal was completed in 1640. Jijabai is said to have commissioned the building of the Kasba Ganapati temple herself. The Ganapati idol consecrated at this temple is regarded as the presiding deity (gramadevata) of the city. Shivaji was crowned Chhatrapati (King) in 1674, he oversaw further development in Pune, including the construction of the Guruwar, Somwar, Ganesh and Ghorpade Peths.
Baji Rao I became Peshwa of the Maratha Empire, ruled by Chattrapati Shahuji, in 1720. By 1730, the palace of Shaniwarwada had been constructed on the banks of the Mutha River, ushering in the era of Peshwa control of the city. The patronage of the Peshwas resulted in the construction of many temples and bridges in the city, including the Parvati temple and the Sadashiv, Narayan, Rasta and Nana Peths. The Peshwas fell into decline after their loss in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761. In 1802, Pune was captured from the Peshwa by Yashwantrao Holkar in the Battle of Poona, directly precipitating the Second Anglo-Maratha War of 1803-05.

The Third Anglo-Maratha War broke out between the Marathas and the British in 1817. The Peshwas were defeated at the Battle of Khadki (then transcribed Kirkee) near Pune, and the city was seized. It was placed under the administration of the Bombay Presidency, and the British built a large military cantonment to the east of the city (now used by the Indian Army). The Pune Municipality was established in 1858. Pune was at one time the "monsoon capital" of the Bombay Presidency.
Nanasaheb Peshwa, the adopted son of the last Peshwa Bajirao II, rose against British East India Company rule in 1856, as part of the Indian Mutiny. He was helped by Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi and Tatya Tope. After the mutiny failed, the final remnants of the Maratha Empire were annexed to British India.
Pune was an important centre for the social and religious reform movements of the late 19th century. Many prominent social reformers lived here, including Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde and Jyotirao Phule.

Pune is located 560m (1,837 ft) above sea level on the western margin of the Deccan plateau. It is situated on the leeward side of the Sahyadri mountain range (the Western Ghats), which separate it from the Arabian sea. It is a relatively hilly city, with its tallest hill, Vetal Hill, rising to 800m (2,625 ft) above sea level. Just outside the city, the Sinhagad fort is located at a height of 1300m. Central Pune is located at the confluence of the Mula and Mutha rivers. The Pavana and Indrayani rivers, tributaries of the Bhima River, traverse the northwestern outskirts of the metropolitan Pune.
Pune lies very close to the seismically active zone around Koyna Dam, about 100 km south of the city, and has been rated in Zone 4 (on a scale of 2 to 5, with 5 being the most prone to earthquakes) by the India Meteorological Department. Pune has experienced some moderate-intensity and many low-intensity earthquakes in its history. Although no major earthquakes have originated in Pune itself, an earthquake of magnitude 3.2 took place in the Katraj region near Pune on May 17, a low intensity earthquake observed on night of 30th July 08,the intensity of the earth quake was measured at 4.2 as per news resources around 12:41 am[The epicenter for the Earth Quake was in Koyna Dam field 2004

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*Shimla

Shimla/SimlaCoordinates: 3106'40"N 7709'14"E  (31.11, 77.15)
Shimla, originally called Simla, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. In 1864, Shimla was declared the summer capital of the erstwhile British Raj in India. A popular tourist destination, Shimla is often referred to as the "Queen of Hills" (a term coined by the British). Located in north-west Himalayas at an altitude of 2,130 metres (6,988 ft), the city of Shimla, draped in forests of pine, rhododendron, and oak, experiences pleasant summers and cold, snowy winters. The city is famous for its buildings styled in tudor-bethan and neo-gothic architecture reminiscent of the colonial era. Shimla is connected to the city of Kalka by one of the longest narrow gauge railway routes still operating in India. Shimla is approximately 115 km (71.4 miles) from Chandigarh, the nearest major city, and 365 km (226.8 miles) from New Delhi, the national capital. The city is named after the goddess Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of the Hindu Goddess Kali.
Shimla was annexed by the British in 1819 after the Gurkha War. At that time it was known for the temple of Hindu Goddess Shyamala Devi. Scottish civil servant Charles Pratt Kennedy built the first British summer home in the town in 1822.

The Lord Amherst, Governor-General of Bengal from 1823 to 1828, set up a summer camp here in 1827, when there was but one cottage in the town, and only 'half a dozen' when he left that year. There were more than a hundred within ten years.
Shimla, or Simla as it was called until recently, caught the eye of Lord William Bentinck, the Governor-General of Bengal from 1828 (later of India, when the title was created in 1833) to 1835. One of his successors, Sir John Lawrence, Viceroy of India 18641869, decided to take the trouble of moving the administration twice a year between Calcutta and a separate centre over 1,000 miles away, despite the fact that it was difficult to reach. Lord Lytton, Viceroy 1876 -1880 made efforts to plan the town from 1876, when he first stayed in a rented house Peterhof, but began plans for a Viceregal Lodge, later built on Observatory Hill. A fire cleared much of the area where the native Indian population lived (the "Upper Bazaar"), and the planning of the eastern end to become the centre of the European town forced these to live in the Middle and Lower Bazaars on the lower terraces descending the steep slopes from the Ridge. The Upper Bazaar was cleared for a Town Hall, with many facilities such as library and theatre, as well as offices - for police and military volunteers as well as municipal administration.

During the 'Hot Weather', Simla was also the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army and many Departments of the Government, as well as being the summer capital of the regional Government of the Punjab. They were joined during the hot weather by many of the British wives and daughters of the men who remained in the plains. Together these formed Simla Society, which, according to Charles Allen, "was as close as British India ever came to having an upper crust." This may have been helped by the fact that it was very expensive, having an ideal climate and thus being desirable, as well as having limited accommodation. British soldiers, merchants, and civil servants moved here each year to escape from the heat during summer in the Indo-Gangetic plain. The presence of many bachelors and unattached men, as well as the many women passing the hot weather there, gave Simla a reputation for adultery, and at least gossip about adultery: as Rudyard Kipling', said in a letter cited by Allen, it had a reputation for "frivolity, gossip and intrigue".

The Kalka-Shimla railway line, constructed in 1906, added to Shimla's accessibility and popularity. The railway route from Kalka to Shimla has more than 806 Bridges and 103 tunnels was touted as an engineering feat and came to be known as the "British Jewel of the Orient". In addition, Shimla was also the capital of the undivided state of Punjab in 1871 and remained so until the construction of the new city of Chandigarh (the present-day capital of Punjab). Upon the formation of the state of Himachal Pradesh in 1971, Shimla was named its capital. Pre-independence structures still dot Shimla; buildings such as the Viceregal Lodge, Auckland House, Gorton Castle, Peterhoff house, and Gaiety Theatre are reminders of British rule in India. British Simla extended about a mile and a half along the ridge between Jakhoo Hill and Prospect Hill. The central spine was The Mall, which ran along the length of the ridge, with a Mall Extension southwards, closed to all carriages except those of the Viceroy and his wife.

Shimla is located in the north-western ranges of the Himalayas. At an average altitude of 2397.59 meters (7866.10 ft) above mean sea level, the city is spread on a ridge and its seven spurs. The city stretches nearly 9.2 km from east to west. The highest point in Shimla, at 2454 meters (8051 ft), is the Jakhoo hill. Shimla is a Zone IV (High Damage Risk Zone) per the Earthquake hazard zoning of India. Weak construction techniques and increasing population pose a serious threat to the already earthquake prone region. There are no bodies of water near the main city and the closest river, Sutlej, is about 21 km (13 miles) away. Other rivers that flow through the Shimla district, although further from the city, are Giri, and Pabbar (both are tributaries of Yamuna). The green belt in Shimla planning area is spread over 414 hectares (1023 acres). The main forests in and around the city are that of pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron. Environmental degradation due to the increasing number of tourists every year without the infrastructure to support them has resulted in Shimla losing its popular appeal as an ecotourism spot. Another rising concern in the region are the frequent number of landslides that often take place after heavy rains.

The climate in Shimla is predominantly cold during winters and moderately warm during summers. The temperatures range from 3.95 C (39.11 F) to 32.95 C (91.31 F) over the year. The average temperature during summer is between 14 C and 20 C; and between -7 C and 10 C in winter. Monthly precipitation varies between 24 mm in November to 415 mm in July. It is typically around 45 mm per month during winter and spring and around 115 mm in June as the monsoon approaches. The average total annual precipitation is 1520 mm (62 inches). Snowfall in the region, which usually took place in the month of December has lately (over the last fifteen years) been happening in January or early February every year.

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*Srinagar

Srinagar KashmirCoordinates: 3405'N 7447'E  (34.09, 74.79)
Srinagar is the capital of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir that is administered by India. It is situated in Kashmir Valley and lies on the banks of the Jhelum River, a tributary of the Indus. The city is famous for its lakes and houseboats. It is also known for traditional Kashmiri handicrafts and dry fruits. It is also the headquarters of Srinagar district
Etymologically Srinagar is composed of two Sanskrit words, namely, Sri (meaning abundance and wealth) and Nagar, which means a city. Thus, the word Srinagar signifies a place of wealth and abundance. Sri is also the name of a goddess Lakshmi of Hindus. A legend, as incorporated in Nilas Nilmatapurana, states that the Kashmir valley was a vast lake. A Hindu sage named Kashyapa drained out the water, and there emerged the beautiful valley of Kashmir.

The city was founded by the King Pravarasena II over 2,000 years ago, and the city of Srinagar has a long history, dating back at least to the 3rd century BC. The city was then a part of the Maurya Empire, one of the largest empires of the Indian subcontinent. Ashoka introduced Buddhism to the Kashmir valley, and the adjoining regions around the city became a centre of Buddhism. In the 1st century, the region was under the control of Kushans and several rulers of this dynasty strengthened the Buddhist tradition. Vikramaditya (of Ujjain) and his successors probably ruled the regions just before the city fell to the control of the Huns in the 6th century, and Mihirkula was the most dreaded ruler of the city and the valley.
The Hindu and the Buddhist rule of Srinagar lasted until the 14th century, when the Kashmir valley, including the city, came under the control of the several Muslim rulers, including the Mughals. It was also the capital during the reign of Yusuf Shah Chak, a ruler who was tricked by Akbar when he failed to conquer Kashmir by force. Yusuf Shah Chak remains buried in Bihar in India. Akbar established Mughal rule in Srinagar and Kashmir valley.
When the disintegration of the Mughal Empire set forth after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, infiltrations to the valley from the Pashtun tribes increased, and the Durrani Empire ruled the city for several decades. Raja Ranjit Singh in the year 1814 annexed a major part of the Kashmir Valley, including Srinagar, to his kingdom, and the city came under the influence of the Sikhs. In 1846, the Treaty of Lahore was signed between the Sikh rulers and the British in Lahore. The treaty, inter alia, provided British de-facto suzerainty over the Kashmir Valley, and installed Gulab Singh as an independent and sovereign ruler of the region. Srinagar became part of his kingdom, and remained until 1947 as one of the several princely states of undivided India.

After, India's independence, certain tribes, mostly Pashtun, actively supported by elements of the Pakistani forces, Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 came to the valley to help the local overwhelming Muslim majority of Srinagar and the whole of Kashmir to gain independence from the Hindu Dogra Ruler. Srinagar was almost won by the local helped by the Pakistan Army. Fortunately they did not manage to secure the Srinagar Airport. This gave India a chance to air lift the Indian Army along with all the heavy weapons and they were able to capture the city and its surroundings. In view of infiltration by armed forces and the possibility of his kingdom, including the city of Srinagar falling into civil war, Hari Singh signed a covenant in late 1947 with the Government of India, which ensured integration of his kingdom into the newly formed Republic of India, conditioned on the requirement of having a plebiscite after any conflict had ended. Various historians, notably British historian Alaister Lamb, dispute the claim that the Maharaja signed any agreement at all.
The Government of India, in view of its obligation enjoined upon it subsequent to this covenant, immediately air-lifted Indian troops to Srinagar, and the city was prevented by the Indian Army. In the meanwhile, the matter had been escalated to the United Nations, and a cease fire was imposed under its authority, resulting into certain parts of Hari Singh's kingdom going out of his hands, which now constitutes the Azad Kashmir state under Pakistani administration. The British Historian Alaister Lamb in his book claims that the troops were flown into Srinagar even before the alleged covenant was signed, his claims were proven false after the agreement was found legal. The city of Srinagar has thereafter remained administered by India

The city is located on both the sides of the Jhelum River, which is called Vyath in Kashmir. The river passes through the city and meanders through the valley, moving onward and deepening in the Wular Lake. The city is famous for its nine old bridges, connecting the two parts of the city.
Hokersar is a wetland situated near Srinagarthe capital of Indian Kashmir. Thousands of migratory birds come to Hokersar from Siberia and other regions in the winter season. Migratory birds from Siberia and Central Asia use wetlands in Kashmir as their transitory camps between September and October and again around spring. These wetlands play a vital role in sustaining a large population of wintering, staging and breeding birds.
Hokersar is 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) north of Srinagar, and is a world class wetland spread over 13.75 square kilometres (5.31 sq mi) including lake and marshy area. It is the most accessible and well-known of Kashmir's wetlands which include Hygam, Shalibug and Mirgund. A record number of migratory birds have visited Hokersar in recent years. An estimated quarter of a million birds have already been spotted at Hokersar in the current season.

The climate of Srinagar may be generally described as warm temperate. The city has warm summers from June through August, and winters from December-February. The city generally gets some snowfall from December to February but seldom accumulates for longer periods. The average temperatures are 24 C (75 F) in July (ranging between 18 to 29C or 65 to 84F) and 4 C (39 F) in January (between -2/7C or 28/45F (night/day), -2/0C or 28/32F and 7/11C or 45/52F some of local extremes).

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*Thiruvananthapuram

Thiruvananthapuram/Trivandrum/TrivandramCoordinates: 829'15"N 7657'07"E  (8.49, 76.95)
Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of the Indian state of Kerala and the headquarters of the Thiruvananthapuram District. It is located on the west coast of India near the extreme south of the mainland. Referred to by Mahatma Gandhi as the "Evergreen city of India", the city is characterized by its undulating terrain of low coastal hills and busy commercial alleys. With almost 745,000 inhabitants per the 2001 census, it is the largest and most populous city in Kerala; the wider urban agglomeration having a population of about one million.The city is the state capital and houses many central and state government offices, organizations and companies. Apart from being the political nerve centre of Kerala, it is also a major academic hub and is home to several educational institutions including the University of Kerala, and to many science and technology institutions, the most prominent being the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Technopark and IIST.

Thiruvananthapuram means "City of Lord Anantha" in Sanskrit and Malayalam. The name derives from the deity of the Hindu temple at the centre of the city. Anantha is the serpent Shesha on whom Padmanabhan or Vishnu reclines. The temple of Vishnu reclining on Anantha, the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple remains the iconic landmark of the city. The city was officially referred to as Trivandrum in English until 1991, when the government decided to reinstate the city's original name Thiruvananthapuram in all languages.

Thiruvananthapuram is an ancient city with trading traditions dating back to 1000 BC. It is believed that the ships of King Solomon landed in a port called Ophir (now Poovar) in Thiruvananthapuram in 1036 BC. The city was the trading post of spices, sandalwood and ivory. However, the ancient political and cultural history of the city was almost entirely independent from that of the rest of Kerala. The early rulers of the city were the Ays. With their fall in the 10th century, the city was taken over by the rulers of Venad.

The rise of modern Thiruvananthapuram began with accession of Marthanda Varma in 1729 as the founding ruler of the princely state of Travancore (Thiruvithamkoor in the local vernacular). Thiruvananthapuram was made the capital of Travancore in 1745. The city developed into a major intellectual and artistic centre during this period. The golden age in the city's history was during the mid 19th century under the reign of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal and Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunal. This era saw the establishment of the first English school (1834), the Observatory (1837), the General Hospital (1839), the Oriental Research Institute & Manuscripts Library and the University College (1873). The first Lunatic Asylum in the state was also started during the same period. Sanskrit College, Ayurveda College, Law College and a second grade college for women were started by Moolam Thirunal (18851924).

The early 19th century was an age of tremendous political and social changes in the city. The Sree Moolam Assembly, established in 1904 was the first democratically elected legislative council in any Indian state. Despite not being under direct control of the British Empire at any time, the city however featured prominently in India's freedom struggle. The Indian National Congress had a very active presence in the city. A meeting of the Indian National Congress presided by Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramaiah was held here in 1938.

The period of Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma, who took over in 1931, witnessed many-sided progress. The promulgation of "Temple Entry Proclamation" (1936) was an act that underlined social emancipation. This era also saw the establishment of the University of Travancore in 1937, which later became the Kerala University.
With the end of the British rule in 1947, Travancore chose to join the Indian union. The first popular ministry headed by Pattom Thanu Pillai was installed in office on 24 March 1948. In 1949, Thiruvananthapuram became the capital of Thiru-Kochi, the state formed by the integration of Travancore with its northern neighbour Kochi. The king of Travancore, Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma became the Rajpramukh of the Travancore-Cochin Union from July 1, 1949 until October 31, 1956. When the state of Kerala was formed on November 1, 1956, Thiruvananthapuram became the capital of the new state.

With the establishment of Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) in 1962, Thiruvananthapuram became the cradle of India's ambitious space programme. The first Indian space rocket was developed and launched from the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) located in the outskirts of the city in 1963. Several establishments of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) were later established in Thiruvananthapuram.
A major milestone in the city's recent history was the establishment of TechnoparkIndia's first IT parkin 1995. Technopark has developed into the largest IT Park in India and third largest in Asia and is home to MNC giants like Infosys, TCS, Ernst & Young, UST Global, etc; employing around 20,000 people in close to 150 companies. This placed Thiruvananthapuram on the IT map of India and it is today one of the most promising in the country in terms of competitiveness and capability.

Thiruvananthapuram is built on hills by the sea shore on the west coast, near the southern tip of mainland India. The city and the suburbs covers an area of about 250 square kilometers, sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. The average elevation is 16 ft from the sea level. The area can be divided into two geographical regions, the midlands and the lowlands. The midland region comprises low hills and valleys adjoining the Ghats. The lowland is a narrow stretch comprising shorelines, rivers and deltas, dotted with coconut palms. Vellayani lake, biggest fresh water lake in the district is in the suburbs of the city. The major rivers that flow through the city are the Karamana river, and the Killi river. There are highlands, which form the eastern suburbs of the city. The highest point in the district is the Agasthyarkoodam which rises 1890 m above sea level. Ponmudi and Mukkunimala are hill-resorts near the city.

The city has a tropical climate and therefore does not experience distinct seasons. The mean maximum temperature 34 C and the mean minimum temperature is 21 C. The humidity is high and rises to about 90% during the monsoon season. Thiruvananthapuram is the first city along the path of the south-west monsoons and gets its first showers in early June. The city gets heavy rainfall of around 1700 mm per year. The city also gets rain from the receding north-east monsoons which hit the city by October. The dry season sets in by December. December, January and February are the coldest months while March, April and May are the hottest. The winter temperature comes down to about 18 C and summer temperatures can sometimes go as high as 35 C.

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*Varanasi

Varanasi, also commonly known as Benares or Banaras and KashiCoordinates: 2516'55"N 8257'23"E  (25.28, 82.95)
Varanasi, also commonly known as Benares or Banaras and Kashi, is a city situated on the left (west) bank of the River Ganga (Ganges) in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, regarded as holy by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, and is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river's religious importance. The city has been a cultural and religious centre in northern India for several thousand years. The Benares Gharana form of Indian classical music developed in Varanasi, and many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians resided or reside in Varanasi, including Kabir, Ravi Das, Munshi Premchand, Jaishankar Prasad, Acharya Ram Chandra Shukla, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Girija Devi, Hariprasad Chaurasia, and Ustad Bismillah Khan. Tulsidas wrote his Ramacharitamanas there, and Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath near Kashi. Ayurveda is said to have originated at Kashi. Varanasi is home to the Banaras Hindu University. Residents mainly speak Kashika Bhojpuri, which is closely related to the Hindi language. People often refer to Varanasi as "the city of temples", "the holy city of India", "the religious capital of India", "the city of lights", "the city of learning" and the "culture capital of India".
American writer Mark Twain wrote: "Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together."

The name Varanasi, has its origin possibly from the names of the two rivers Varuna and Assi for it lies with the confluence of Varuna with the Ganges being to its north and that of Assi and the Ganges to its south. Another speculation about the origin of the name is that the river Varuna itself was called Varanasi in olden times, from where the city got its name. This is generally disregarded by historians though there may be some earlier texts suggesting it to be so.
The name, Varanasi, was written as Baranasi in the ancient Pali language, and eventually it got transformed into Banaras. Through the ages, Varanasi was variously known as Avimuktaka, Anandakanana, Mahasmasana, Surandhana, Brahma Vardha, Sudarsana, Ramya, and Kasi.

According to legend, the city was founded by the Hindu deity, Shiva, around 5,000 years ago, thus making it one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the country. It is one of the seven sacred cities of Hindus. Many Hindu scriptures, including Rigveda, Skanda Purana, Ramayana, and Mahabharata, describe the city. Varanasi is generally believed to be about 3,000 years old. Varanasi was a commercial and industrial center famous for its muslin and silk fabrics, perfumes, ivory works, and sculpture. During the time of Gautama Buddha (born 567 BC), Varanasi was the capital of the Kingdom of Kashi. The celebrated Chinese traveler, Xuanzang, attested that the city was a center of religious, educational, and artistic activities, and that it extended for about 5 km along the western bank of the Ganges.

During successive invasions starting with the hordes of Mahmud of Ghazni in 1033 CE followed by Mohammed Ghori in 1193 CE, Muslims pillaged and destroyed several times Hindu temples (which were being continually rebuilt) in Varanasi, and used the temple material to build mosques. At the start of the seventeenth century, Mughal Emperor Akbar brought some relief in the destruction of Hindu temples, but near the end of that century, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb led another temple destruction and even renamed the city as Mohammadbd. In these years of Muslim rule, learned scholars in Varanasi fled to other parts of India.until Marathas came to rescue it. Marathas brought old pride of city back when it was under their control Varanasi became an independent Kingdom of Kashi in the eighteenth century, and under subsequent British rule, it remained a commercial and religious center. In 1910, the British made Varanasi a new Indian state, with Ramanagar as its headquarters but with no jurisdiction over the city of Varanasi itself. Kashi Naresh (Maharaja of Kashi) still resides in the fort of Ramanagar.

On March 7, 2006, four bombs went off in an act of terrorism at Varanasi. Around 20 people were reported killed, and many were injured. One of the bombs was planted in the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, a shrine dedicated to Lord Hanuman, while another was planted on a platform of the Varanasi Cantonment Railway Station, the main railway station in the city. An Islamic group, Lashkar-e-Kahab, claimed responsibility for the terror attacks. On November 23, 2007 Varanasi faced another bomb blast. The bomb was placed in the civil court of Varanasi. More than 20 people died and over 100 were injured. India TV news channel received an e-mail before 5 minutes of bomb blast saying that there will be bomb blast in different cities of Uttar Pradesh within next 5 minutes. The e-mail address was registered on Yahoo.France. A terrorist organization called HUJI took the responsibility of bomb blast. HUJI is run by a terrorist named Masood Azhar who was released by Indian government in the year 1999 after Air India flight IC 814 was hijacked by Taliban and demanded to release him.

The city of Varanasi is located in the middle Ganga valley of North India, in the Eastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh, along the left crescent-shaped bank of the Ganga River. It has the headquarters of Varanasi district. The "Varanasi Urban Agglomeration" - an agglomeration of seven urban sub-units - covers an area of 112.26 km (approximately 43 mi). located in the Gangetic plains of North India, the land is very fertile because low level floods in the Ganges continually replenish the soil.
On a local level, Varanasi is located on a higher ground between rivers Ganga and Varuna, the mean elevation being 80.71 m. As a result of absence of tributaries and canals, the main land is continuous and relatively dry. In ancient times, this geographic situation must have been highly favorable for forming settlements. But it is difficult to ascertain the original geography of Varanasi because the city's current location is not exactly the same as the one described in some old texts.
Varanasi is often said to be located between two confluences: one of Ganga and Varuna, and other of Ganga and Assi, (Assi having always been a rivulet rather than a river.) The distance between these two confluences is around 2.5 miles, and religious Hindus regard a round trip between these two places -a Pancha-Kroshi Yatra (a five mile journey) - ending with a visit to a Sakshi Vinayak Temple as a holy ritual.

Varanasi has a humid subtropical climate with large variations between summer and winter temperatures. Summers are long, from early April to October, with intervening monsoon seasons. Cold waves from the Himalayan region cause temperatures to dip across the city in the winter from December to February. The temperature ranges between 32C 46C (90F 115F) in the summers, and 5C 15C (41F 59F) in the winters. The average annual rainfall is 1110 mm (44 in). Fog is common in the winters, while hot dry winds, called loo, blow in the summers. The city is relatively free from air pollution. Through a combination of water pollution, new constructions of upstream dams, and increase in the local temperature, the water level of the Ganges has recently gone down significantly, and small islands have become visible in the middle of the river.

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