India has a variety of natural and manmade attractions to keep visitors intrigued for days. From ancient strongholds such as the Red Fort to more modern monuments such as the Lotus Temple, every region has its own culturally important landmarks, the center of course, the world renowned Taj Mahal.
The symmetrical white-domed marble Taj Mahal is one of India’s and the world’s most recognized attractions. The UNESCO World Heritage burial complex was started in 1632 at the command the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth in 1631. It took 21 years to build and displays Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian styles blended into what is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture. Entrance is through an impressive four-story gate of red sandstone decorated with Arabic calligraphy, floral motifs and semi-precious stones. Opening hours are sunrise to sunset every day except Friday. Address: Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India Phone: +91-56-2222-6431 Website: http://tajmahal.gov.in/home.html
Amba Vilas Palace, Mysore
Amba Vilas Palace is the official residence of the royal family of Mysore in southern India. Over 2.7 million people visit the palace each year to admire the opulent rooms and blended Hindu, Muslim, Gothic, and Rajput influenced Indo-Saracen architecture of the three-story stone building. There are sculptures, domes, a five-sided 145 foot tower, gardens, and twelve Hindu temples that were constructed sometime between the 14th century and 1953. The best time to visit is in the fall, when the palace is lit up for the Mysore Dasara festival. Address: Mysuru (Mysore), Karnataka, India Phone: +91-82-1242-1051 Website: http://www.themysorepalace.com/
Baha’i House of Worship (Lotus Temple)
New Delhi is home to the distinctive Baha’i House of Worship, also known as the Lotus Temple. Designed by Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba and completed in 1986, the beautiful nine-sided temple consists of 27 marble-clad petals arranged in threes to form a lotus flower, set on 26-acres with nine ponds. The edifice is open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and the self guided tour takes about forty minutes. Address: Bahapur, Kalkaji, New Delhi, National Capital Territory of Delhi, India Phone: +91-11-2647-0526 Website: http://www.bahaihouseofworship.in/
Located about 65 miles from Aurangabad, the UNESCO World Heritage Ajanta caves are considered one of the finest examples of Buddhist art and architecture. Cut from volcanic lava by monks during the 3rd century, the ceilings and walls of the 30 caves are decorated with sculptures and frescoes. The horse-shoe shaped rock wall of the gorge is set amongst lush jungle, which actually reclaimed the site until its rediscovery in 1819. The caves are particularly beautiful during the monsoon season, when nearby waterfalls are in full flow. Address: Ajintha village, Jalagon, Maharashtra State, India Phone: +91-22-2204-4040 Website: http://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in/MTDC/HTML/Mah...
Corbett National Park
The Corbett National Park extends over an area of almost 130,000 acres at the foot of the Himalayas, boasting an enormous array of wildlife, including 655 species of animals, birds reptiles and countless trees. Tiger spotting is particularly popular, although the park also has the rare Himalayan black bears, sloth bears, kingfishers, fishing eagles, crocodiles, and pythons. Open from November 15 until June 15, the area is best explored by elephant ride. Address: Ramnagar – 244 715, Distt. Nainital, (Uttaranchal) Phone: +91-59-4725-3977 Website: http://www.corbettnationalpark.in/
Towering 400 feet above the plains, the World Heritage Golconda Fort is an expansive complex of four forts with six miles of outer walls and 87 bastions, some with cannons. Located just over six miles from Hyderabad, access to the royal apartments, villas, halls, and temples is via one of the four drawbridges and eight gateways. The ruined city was once the capital of Golkonda, an ancient kingdom that ruled the area from 1518 to 1687. Opening hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day except Mondays. There is a light and sound show in the evenings. Address: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India Phone: +91-40-2351-2401 Website: http://www.aptourism.in/index.php/k2-separator/k2/...
Named for its red sandstone walls, the Red Fort was constructed in 1638 for Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal Emperor of India. The World Heritage site is the largest monument in Old Delhi and is noted for its many buildings inside the complex such as the impressive red stone colonnades and the private pavilion apartments connected by the Stream of Paradise. Other notable sites include the Drum House, public audience hall, white marble private audience hall, Pearl Mosque, and the royal baths. Address: Netaji Subhash Marg, Central District, New Delhi, New Delhi State Phone: +91-11-2464-7005 Website: http://www.delhitourism.nic.in/delhitourism/touris...place/redfort.jsp
Located in Jaipur, the Hawa Mahal or the Palace of the Winds, is open from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily. Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, the palace is one of India’s most photographed buildings for its five-story red and pink limestone façade designed to resemble the crown of the Hindu god Krishna. Its beautiful 953 latticework windows originally formed part of an ingenious air-conditioning system that gave the palace its name. Address: Johari Bazaar Old City, Badi Chaupad, Jaipur, Rajasthan Phone: n/a Website: http://jaipur.nic.in/Tourist.htm
A UNESCO World Heritage site constructed between 950 and 1050 AD by the Chandella dynasty, there are three clusters that make up the Hindu and Jainism based Khajuraho Temples, the Eastern, Western and Southern complexes. Only 20 of the temples remain from the original 85, and feature delicately sculptured art, including erotic scenes. The Temple of Kandariya is particularly noted for its sculptures which are considered to be some of the greatest Indian masterpieces in the country. Address: Khajuraho ,Madhya Pradesh, India Phone: n/a Website: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/240