Considered one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, and elected as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal is a living testament to grandeur, romance, and historical significance. As India’s most recognizable structure, the Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory to his favorite wife. Its interior is complete with blossoming and vibrant exotic gardens, reflecting pools, and an impressive mosque.
Although the Taj Mahal has been photographed time and time again, photography does no justice to the majesty of this awe-inspiring tomb. The wells of unfathomable emotion are drawn from its exterior, as the sun from dusk until dawn radiates an exquisite reflection upon its white marble composite, proudly coating itself in divine shades of red, orange, gold and pink.
The superb buildings in this complex date from the onset of Islamic rule in India. The Qutub Minar (Qutb Minar or Qutab Minar) itself is a soaring 240 foot (73 meter) high tower of victory that was started in 1193, immediately after the defeat of the last Hindu kingdom in Delhi. At its base is Quwwat ul-Islam Masjid (Might of Islam Mosque), India's first mosque.
The tower has 5 distinct stories, each marked by a projecting balcony, and it tapers, like something out of a fairytale, from a 50 ft (15 m) diameter at the base to just 8 ft (2.5 m) at the top. The first 3 stories are made of red sandstone, the fourth and fifth of marble and sandstone. The stairs inside the tower coil so steeply that they're enough to make the hardiest climber dizzy and claustrophobic, and it was no surprise when a stampede during a school trip in 1979 resulted in a number of deaths. The inside of the tower has since been closed to visitors.
Designed by British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, India Gate sits at the center of New Delhi in the middle of a traffic circle at one end of Rajpath. Built in 1931, the Arc-de-Triomphe-like gate commemorates the 90,000 members of the British Indian Army killed during World War I and the Third Afghan War.
Another memorial, the Amar Jawan Jyoti or eternal flame, was added to India Gate in the early 1970s as a memorial to India’s unknown soldiers, particularly those who died in the Indo-Pakistan War in 1971.
The Bahá'í Temple in Delhi is one of the most visited buildings in the world, attracting over 50 million people since it opened in 1986. Also known as the Lotus Temple for its distinct half-open lotus design, the belief behind the Bahá'í house of worship is that it should be open for all, regardless of denomination. There are however certain rules: no sermons can be delivered, no ritualistic ceremonies and no musical instruments can be played. There are also no religious images displayed.
Bahá'í temples must all be a nine-sided circular shape as set out in their scriptures, hence the solution of a lotus shape. Bahá'í is an independent religion founded around 1844. Their belief is in a mystic feeling with unites man with God and they do not dictate how that be done, hence their openness to other forms of worship within their temples.
The massive Red Fort (or Lal Qila) stands rather forlornly, a sandstone carcass of its former self. In ages past, when Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan paraded out of the fort atop an elephant into the streets of Old Delhi, he and the fort that he built were a grandiose display of pomp and power. The walls of the fort extend for 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) and vary in height from 60 ft (18 m) on the river side to 110 ft (33 m) on the city side. Shah Jahan began construction of the massive fort in 1638 and it was completed in 1648. Shah Jahan never completely moved his capital from Agra to his new city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi because he was deposed and imprisoned in Agra Fort by his sly son Aurangzeb.
The Red Fort dates from the very peak of Mughal power. Their reign from Delhi was a short one, however; Aurangzeb was the first and last great Mughal emperor to rule from here. The 33 ft (10 m) deep moat, which has been bone-dry since 1857.
Protected as a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Elephanta Caves are among Mumbai’s most astounding temple sites, home to one of India’s most precious collections of Hindu temple art.
In Elephanta Island’s labyrinthine network of subterranean caves, highly prized statues of Shiva and other deities, shrines, pillars, courtyards and halls are carved out of rock in high relief.
Elephanta’s collection of cave-temples date back to around AD 600, and were named for the elephant statue that once stood near the shore. The statue now stands in Mumbai’s Victoria Gardens.
Tours are essential to get the most from a visit to the island, revealing the stories and history of the island’s carvings and artworks. The highlight is the temple to Shiva with its towering statue of the three-faced deity, surrounding by latticework screens, carved pillars and winding corridors.
Lodi Gardens (formerly called Lady Wellington Park), spread across 90 acres (36 hectares) of green space in otherwise crowded and chaotic Delhi, is famous for housing a series of ancient tombs, including the tomb of Mohammed Shah dating back to 1444. This tomb, along with the tomb of Sikandar Lodhi also found within the gardens, are two of the last remaining octagonal tombs from this period of Indian history.
While the tombs might be the biggest draws for those with an interest in history or architecture, many people -- tourists and locals alike -- come to the free Lodi Gardens to enjoy the outdoors. The park contains a well-maintained jogging trail, and the extensive gardens surrounding the tombs offer plenty of space to wander.
De heilige trappen naar het water in Varanasi (Banaras Ghats) lopen van de stad naar de oever van de heilige rivier de Ganges. Er liggen hier bijna 100 afzonderlijke “ghats” langs de rivier in deze regio, waarmee zowel in het natte als droge seizoen toegang tot de rivier mogelijk is. De oudste en meest bekende ghats hier zijn Dashashwamedh, Manikarnika en Harishchandra. Anderen zijn Assi Ghat, Scindia Ghat, Lalita Ghat en Kedar Ghat.
Als de religieuze stad onder Hindoes in India verwelkomt Varanasi pelgrims en andere toeristen die op de Banaras Ghats afkomen. Bezoekers kunnen ook van de sfeer proeven door een boottocht bij zonsopgang over de rivier, waarbij u de kleurrijke tempels en religieuze activiteiten langs het water kunt bekijken.
This fabulous market is Mumbai’s largest, and also goes by the name of Mahatma Jyobita Phule. With its turrets and gables, it looks more like a medieval fort than a municipal market, and for visitors it’s every bit as exotic.
The market buildings were built in the 1860s and named for the city’s first Municipal Commissioner. The exterior frieze was designed by the father of Rudyard Kipling, and the interior is lit by a lofty skylight.
Come here to people-watch as locals load up on household goods and everyday items like fresh produce and flowers.
Guided walks are the best way to visit the market, ideally avoiding the meat section and targeting the fruit, vegetables and pets.
You’re in the right place if you’re feeling peckish, as the market also hosts street stalls and food vendors. Rose-flavored milk drinks are a popular choice, along with fresh seasonal fruit like mangoes and apples.
The Lalbagh Botanical Gardens provide a picturesque and peaceful respite from hectic city life. The 240 acres of green space are a paradise for the morning walkers and shy lovers who come here to stroll along paths lined with majestic trees, past lotus ponds and water fountains, and occupy the benches hidden under flowering creepers.
The many tropical plants and exotic flowers are a delight for nature lovers, and with over 50 species of birds, this is a popular spot for bird watchers. One of the best-known landmarks is the greenhouse, which was modeled after London’s former Crystal Palace. The Lalbagh Rock, a large hillock made of granite, is another popular attraction: visitors like to climb to the small temple at the top.
The Sunday morning heritage walk is popular with nature enthusiasts who would like to learn about the garden’s many exotic species of plants and trees. Join naturalist Vijay Thiruvady at 7am at the base of the Lalbagh Rock.
More than 2 million people cross the Hooghly River by way of the Howrah Bridge each day, earning it the title of the busiest cantilever bridge in the world. The 2,313 foot (705 meter) expanse of steel girders hanging over the water connect the sister cities of Howrah and Kolkata (Calcutta) with eight lanes of chaotic auto rickshaws, scooters, bikes, cars, animals and pedestrian traffic.
A bridge linking the cities was originally proposed in 1862, but plans for the bridge didn’t come to fruition until 1943. Since its erection, the Howrah Bridge has become a cultural icon in Kolkata and West Bengal and has served as a setting and inspiration for the 1958 film Howrah Bridge by director Shakti Samanta.
Visit the bridge in the early morning to see early rising denizens washing along the ghats at the base of the bridge. Under the eastern side of the bridge, you’ll find the colorful Mullik Ghat Flower Market, a great place to people watch while sipping on tea.
Located in the northern Kolkata (Calcutta) neighborhood of Dakshineswar along the Hoohley River is the Dakshineswar Kali Temple. The temple complex, dating back to the nineteenth century, consists of one large temple to Kali and 13 smaller temples dedicated to the worship of other deities in the Hindu pantheon.
The main temple, built in 1855, is an important pilgrimage spot for devotees of Kali, the patron goddess of Kolkata. It is also the temple where spiritual leader Ramakrishna had a vision that prompted him to turn against the caste system and preach religious unity instead. The small room where he lived much of his life is now a small museum celebrating his life.
The temple complex tends to get crowded on Sundays. Visit in the early morning hours to beat the heat and watch the locals feed the pigeons or browse the small flower market just outside the temple grounds.
Cubbon Park is a 300-acre (121-hectare) oasis located in the heart of Bangalore just off the city’s main thoroughfare, MG Road. The park is a hive of activity in the early mornings when people come here for their morning walks and then again in the early evenings when the walkers descend again. With close to a hundred different species of plants and trees, this is also a favorite haunt for nature lovers and birdwatchers.
The park is painted a different color each season as the tall majestic trees flower and drop their petals to the ground, creating a beautiful carpet of flowers. In the spring, the Rain Trees are covered with delicate pink blossoms, while summer is when the Jacarandas release their bright purple blossoms, creating a brilliant tapestry on the ground. At the height of summer, it’s the Gulmohars’ turn as they bloom and turn the park’s avenues a bright red. Twice a year, the eccentric Cannonball tree flowers, releasing the blossoms’ intoxicating perfume.
The ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness – also known as the “Hare Krishna” movement) temple is a massive complex perched on a hilltop and one of the largest ISKCON temples in the world. Dedicated to the god Krishna and his consort Radha, its official name is Sri Radha Krishnachandra temple, but it’s more popularly known as the ISKCON temple and is one of the city’s best-known places of worship.
The temple opened its doors in 1997, becoming not only the center of the ISKCON movement’s spiritual, educational and cultural activities in Bangalore, but also an important place of worship. The temple’s architecture and interiors contrast sharply with the other older temples of the city. The building is modern and spacious, with the four towers of the main temple building connected with glass. The temple spire and flag post are gold-plated.
Located just across the traffic circle from India Gate along Rajpath, the National Gallery of Modern Art was opened in 1954 as a place to feature contemporary Indian art. Housed within the former palace of the maharaja of Jaipur, the museum houses a collection of works by Indian and British artists from 1850 onward.
One of the most fascinating things about visiting the museum is seeing how differently modern art developed in India compared to the United States or Europe. With a collection spanning 150 years, browsing the galleries is akin to a crash course in modern Indian art history. Combine your visit with a stop at the nearby National Museum to complete the picture.
Bannerghatta National Park is one of the largest and most well-conserved wildlife areas in India, home to both a zoo and a biological reserve spanning more than 25,000 acres.
Visitors can interact with native wildlife through a number of facilities or on a guided safari through the area. Surrounded by the Talli Reserve Forest to the east and the Bilikal Forest to the south, the hilly terrain of the park is lush with forests, valleys and scrubland. Elephants often pass between the two forests, making for more frequent sightings.
There are also several rural villages, ancient temples and paths that are great for trekking. Resident animals include elephants, bears, deer, wild boar, leopards, jackals and various reptiles and birds. The park includes an animal rescue center, an aquarium and a butterfly enclosure, India's first. With 27.5 inches of annual rain, there is also unique plant life to see, including sandalwood, tamarind, bamboo and eucalyptus plants.
Het AP State Archeologisch Museum is het oudste museum van Hyderabad. Hier vindt u een aantal van de meest geprezen objecten van het land, die zijn opgegraven op de oorspronkelijke plek van het museum. Hoewel deze items zeker een blik bieden in de oude tijden van de lokale bevolking, zijn het de Egyptische mummietentoonstelling en de enorme Boeddha-galerij die de meeste bezoekers trekken. Ook is er een indrukwekkende collectie van items uit de Kakatiya-dynastie. Dit museum is perfect voor gezinnen met kinderen en voor liefhebbers van geschiedenis die meer willen weten over de rijke historie van India.
De dierentuin Arignar Anna, vaak ook wel Vandalur Zoo genoemd, werd in 1885 geopend en is de oudste openbare dierentuin van India. Het is in de loop der jaren veranderd en verplaatst en tegenwoordig is de dierentuin te vinden in Vandalu, op 30 km van Chennai. Er leven honderden wilde diersoorten, waarvan er vele bedreigd zijn. De dierentuin doet dan ook dienst als opvangplek en centrum voor behoud van bedreigde dieren.
Arignar Anna is een groot en goed onderhouden terrein met veel planten en dieren in de open lucht. Bezoekers kunnen de enorme ruimte verkennen op de fiets of door een van de elektrische voertuigen te gebruiken. De meeste attracties liggen direct aan de paden van het park, waar de grote dieren als tijgers, panters en olifanten leven. Er zijn ook veel andere zoogdieren, reptielen, vogels, vissen en vlinders te zien.
Ancestral Goa wordt door de lokale bevolking ook wel het Big Foot Museum genoemd, vanwege de grote dansvloer in de vorm van een voet. Het is een van de belangrijkste attracties in Loutolim in de Indiase deelstaat Goa. De lokale kunstenaar Maendra Jocelino Araujo Alvares stichtte het museum en creëerde een 19de-eeuws Goa-dorpje. Hiermee wilde hij de cultuur en gebruiken van de regio behouden voor toekomstige generaties.
Het Ancestral Goa gunt je een blik in de unieke geschiedenis van Goa. Je ziet er gebruiken als het brouwen van feni, een lokale drank van kokosnoot en cashewfruit. In het museum staat ook het grote bekende beeld van Sant Mirabai, het hoogste beeldhouwwerk uit lateriet in India.
Vergeet ook niet om een bezoek te brengen aan het Miranda House, een van de oudste landhuizen van Goa. Bij Fernando’s Nostalgia kun je van een Portugees-Goaanse lunch genieten. Dit restaurant wordt gezien als een van de beste restaurants in dit deel van het land.
The Amber Fort, built in 1592, once served as the palace and capital of the Kachchawahs during their reign until 1727, when the capital was moved to Jaipur. While the fort was abandoned in the eighteenth century, the remaining palaces, temples and courtyards are surprisingly well preserved and have retained much of their original beauty and craftsmanship. In 2013 the Hill Forts of Rajasthan, including Amber Fort, were awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.
Located about 7 miles (11 kilometers) from Jaipur, the Amber Fort sits on a hill top and faces out over the Maota Lake. To enter the fort, you must make the steep climb by foot, jeep or elephant, passing beneath the Sun Gate and into the inner palaces. Plan to spend a minimum of half a day at the Amber Fort, taking care not to miss the Shila Davi Temple (dedicated to the goddess Kali) with its intricately worked silver doors, the glass mosaics of the Mirror Palace and the filigreed marble windows.
Zo’n 40 km ten westen van Agra ligt de verlaten stad Fatehpur Sikri (Stad van de Overwinning), die door Akbar werd gebouwd aan het einde van de 16de eeuw om dienst te doen als de nieuwe hoofdstad van het Mogolrijk. Tussen 1571 en 1585 was de roodstenen stad inderdaad 14 jaar lang het centrum van de macht. De Engelsman Ralph Fitch vond het zelfs groter en spectaculairder dan Londen. Die grandeur was van korte duur toen in 1585 Akbar de hoofdstad naar Lahore verplaatste in de strijd tegen de Afghaanse stammen. In 1619 was de stad geheel verlaten en dat bleef zo, totdat archeologen de stad in 1892 weer gingen verkennen.
De stad Ajmer is een wervelwind van activiteit en vermaak tussen het rustige meer Ana Sagar en de schilderachtige Aravalli-heuvels. Ajmer is de vijfde stad in grootte van de Indiase deelstaat Rajasthan. De stad is bekend als belangrijke ontmoetingsplek voor de islamitische geschiedenis, cultuur en vroege Moslim-architectuur. Het is ook een bestemming voor volgers van de Jain-religie. Daarom zijn er voor bezoekers een aantal bezienswaardigheden, zoals het Dargah Sharif van khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, dat jaarlijks door zo’n 125.000 mensen wordt bezocht.
Liefhebbers van geschiedenis kunnen naar het Taragarhfort, dat ooit de stad beschermde en een van de oudste forten ter wereld zou zijn. Het hoofdmuseum van Ajmer, bekend als Magazine, is een prachtig voorbeeld van Mughal-architectuur die teruggaat naar het jaar 150. Bezoekers kunnen ook de tempel Digambara Jain en het Foymeer bezoeken. Dat laatste is een kunstmatig meer, waar vooral ’s avonds veel vogels te zien zijn.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus, a church dedicated to the worship of baby Jesus, is also home to the remains of Francis Xavier, Goa’s patron saint and one of the original seven founders of the Jesuit order. The church was erected in Old Goa, the former Portuguese colonial capital, between 1594 and 1605 by Florentine sculptor Giovanni Batista Foggini out of red stone sourced from the area.
The withered remains of the saint, known throughout the Catholic world, are kept in a silver casket housed within an ornate three-tiered marble tomb to the right of the altar. Once every ten years, the church hosts an exhibition of the remains of the body - save for one arm on display in Rome – and they are made visible to the public.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the oldest and most ornate churches in all of India, complete with gold gilded altars and white marble floors inlaid with precious stones.
The Banke Bihari temple, situated in the holy city of Vrindavan in the Mathura district, is one of the most famous Krishna temples in India. Dedicated to Lord Banke Bihari (a form of Lord Krishna), the temple was founded by Shri Swami Haridas in 1864. Here Lord Krishna is observed in his childhood phase, with the rituals and offerings made to the deity reflecting this.
Thousands of devotees visit the Banke Bihari temple each and every day where worshipping Bihari is expressed in three daily ‘sewas’ – Shringar, Rajbhog and Shayan. Shringar involves bathing and dressing the deity, Rajbhog means feeding/offering food, while Shayan in the evenings involves the preparation for sleep. During the monsoon months in north India, the temple is decorated with flowers and lights. Unlike other Hindu places of worship, the Banke Bihari temple doesn't comprise any bells because the sound is said to disturb Lord Bihari.