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Agra – The city of unconditional love

Agra is also called ‘the city of love’. It is known so because the structure symbolising one of the greatest love stories of medieval India, Taj Mahal, stands tall here. Over the years, the reason for this connotation has expanded, and now includes the people who make this city, a city of love.

I remember my last visit to Agra with the main purpose to see the Taj Mahal on a full moon night. My stubbornness increased our stay for around a week more in the city. This period allowed us to know more about the culture of the place, about the trends that were being followed and most importantly, about the people of the city. We had booked a local car which would take us around, and with it came my favourite, the driver “bhaiya”. He knew everything! From showing the Taj Mahal to the Tomb of Akbar, he was our guide in disguise.

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West Bengal – Arts of Golden Fibre

West Bengal is the land of the Ganga, and since the early 1800s, Bengal has been the largest producer of jute worldwide. As a result, Bengal boasts of a repertoire of jute crafts.

An elegant range of home decor, furnishings and garments, hanging lamps, baskets, flower vases, purses, table mats and footwear made out of woven jute fibre is gaining popularity. It is also used for making baskets, mats and beautiful toys. Fabrics of jute are decorated with tie and dye, embroidery and block printing. The trend of eco-friendly substitutes is picking up and jute happens to be one of the more most versatile ones. It is in high demand and it has been profitable for the farmers too. Items made from jute are gaining popularity because it is the cheapest known natural fibre and is 100% eco-friendly.

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The multi-cultural Indian cinema

The cinema of South India is used to refer collectively the four distinct film industries of South India – Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada film industries – as a single entity. They are based in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, and Bangalore. Although developed independently for a long period of time, the gross exchange of film performers and technicians, as well as globalisation, helped to shape this new identity in Indian Cinema. Good Cinema is made in every industry. Just because Hindi language is spoken on a larger scale, Hindi movie haS A larger reach. I can see some answers stating DDLJ, Sholay were all much talked overseas but none of the south movie is listed. Stereotypes are in every industry. Bollywood still has that DDLJ kind of screenplay even today. South movies especially Telugu and Tamil movies have commercial story lines where heroes does all sorts of anti-gravity things. For me Bollywood cinema is like having a fine dine in a restaurant.

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The Artisan Hub – Delhi

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." - Thomas Merton.

Art in India originated sometime during the Indus Valley civilization, around five thousand years ago. The forms of art found from various excavation sites include sculptures, seals, pottery, gold ornaments, terracotta figures, etc. Their art was spiritual and sensual, making it rather distinctive in form and appearance. Indian art has always charmed art enthusiasts, whether modern or historical.

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Kollam – Bliss of Kerala

There is a proverb in Kerala which means, "One doesn't need one's home anymore for the one who has seen Quilon". Though it can convey different meanings to different people, one thing is pretty sure. Quilon (Kollam) must be a damn good enchanting place. It does have a magnetism of its own that haunts our memories. Trust me, Kollam is such a wonderful place. Its pristine beauty carries you away beyond limits. Kollam is an ancient trading town in Kerala. The Arabian Sea flanks it on the west, Tamil Nadu on the east, giving the place a noble blend of coastal beauty. Being the "God's Own Country", naturally the people in it would be "God's Children". What makes these people so unique and loving?Let's take a trip across the borders of Kollam to answer this question.

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Kumbh – The Gathering of Piety

Holi, Diwali, Eid, these festivals are popular all over mainland India, but if I have to look out for a special festival in Uttar Pradesh, it would be the Kumbh Mela. It is a religious fair festival that is celebrated in only four areas in India is Haridwar (on the Ganges River), Ujjain (on Shipra), Nashik (on Godavari) and Prayagraj. Traditionally river confluences are regarded as auspicious places, but in Sangam, which is in Prayag, the significance of the confluence is most pious because, the holy Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet to become one. My grandmother is big on telling us stories of different gods in Hinduism. According to the legend, behind the Kumbh Mela, Lord Vishnu was carrying a Kumbh (pot) of amrit (nectar), when a scuffle broke out and four drops were spilt. They fell to earth at the four Tirthas( a pilgrimage, especially near a water body) of Prayag, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. It is celebrated four times over the course of 12 years, and the site of the observance keeps rotating between these four. The Kumbh Mela is supposed to take place only on certain dates when it is believed, that the water of the sacred rivers is turned into nectar. So, before deciding the dates of Kumbh Mela the positions of Sun, Moon and Jupiter are taken into account and the holiest time occurs at the exact moment when these positions are fully occupied.

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Patna in a nutshell

I meet people and they become chapters in my stories. With the purpose of adding more chapters to my stories, I took a trip to one of the oldest living cities in the world, Patna, proudly cradling in it’s heart the city’s heritage, patriotism and a treasure trove of culture and traditions. Patna, a bustling city with old neighbourhoods and an epicentre of various religions, embrace people with charming smiles and ocean-like hearts. It was Saturday, a day full of pre-Sunday happiness and excitements when I decided to traverse the city whose antiquity whispers at every corner accentuated by a vibrant blend of a multitude of cultures. When the Sun was smiling with much glow and heat, I saw a teenage boy, ragpicker by the profession, was staring at the Sun, and probably was complaining against his ascribed plight. As a keen observer, I noticed that he was whispering and his blue eyes were full of hot briny tears.

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Uttar Pradesh – A Spiritual Hub

Ayodhya, the mere mention of the name evokes a feeling of love and compassion, for here was born Shree Ram. People not just believe in God but they worship him with relentless religiousity. It is said that Shree Rama still resides in the beautiful temple where thousands of people visit every now and then. The same can be felt in the vibes of the city which make you feel that you are more than a body. All this is because Ayodhya is the birthplace of Shree Ram. It was in the kingdom of Dashrath, Shree Ram’s father. And this is why Ayodhya is known as Ram Janm Bhoomi which means the birthplace of Lord Ram. In the festival ‘Diwali’ temples all over the city are decorated with several diyas and candles as people believe that Shree Ram arrived on this day from the 14-year exile, known as ‘Vanvas’. When you enter the temple lots of monkeys are to be found there and people believe that Lord Hanuman is still there to protect Lord Ram. They feed those monkeys and pray to god and that is how they find god in everything and everywhere.

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Uttar Pradesh – A People’s Perspective

Uttar Pradesh is a state famous for its diversity, whether it is in people, cultures or handicrafts. This variety is what makes it to be known as “The Heartland of India”. Here, one can be a ‘Pani Puri’or ‘Chaat’ lover, or on the other hand a ‘Balushahi’ or ‘Peda’ lover. Full of life, people in Uttar Pradesh never hesitate to help others different from them also. People here like to dress up colorful and so infinite colors are to be seen in the clothes they wear and the accessories like bangles and bindis, etc. They have a colorful nature and that is why festivals are celebrated all the year round.

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The Kashmiri

I am a south Indian by birth but greatly influenced by the lifestyle of north Indians. When I was in my 8 th grade, our school took us for an excursion to Kashmir. Those were the most exciting times of my school days.

It was a six day trip to Kashmir. Every minute we had something to learn, something to admire at or something to gaze at. The manifold Kashmir did not give us a minute to dawdle. I did not know  A B C in koshur, but somehow managed with repeated “assalamalaikum” and “kithna bhaiya?”.

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