Think of India and it’s likely that visions of formidable forts, palaces, and temples will come to mind, set against a backdrop of bright colors and history. These top tourist places to visit in north India showcase the region’s diverse beauty.
Agra’s Taj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the world, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, and one of three World Heritage Sites in Agra. Completed in 1653, the Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal king Sh?h Jah?n as the final resting place for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Finished in marble, it is perhaps India’s most fascinating and beautiful monument. This perfectly symmetrical monument took 22 years (1630-1652) of hard labor and 20,000 workers, masons and jewelers to build and is set amidst landscaped gardens.
2. Old Delhi
Delhi, Capital of India has many attractions like mosques, forts and other monuments that represent India’s history. The important places in Old Delhi include the majestic Red Fort. New Delhi on the other hand houses many government buildings and embassies, apart from places of historical interest. The Qutub Minar, Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb have been declared World Heritage Sites.
3. Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
One of the top spiritual destinations in India, Varanasi is a sacred Hindu city with a very old history. Known as the city of Lord Shiva, the god of creation and destruction, it’s believed that anyone who dies here will be liberated from the cycle of reincarnation. Even a wash in the Ganges River is said to cleanse away all sins. The fascinating thing about this mystical city is that its rituals are revealed openly to along the many riverside ghats. which are used for everything from bathing to burning the bodies of the dead. Yoga, blessings, massages, shaves and games of cricket are among the other activities you’ll find performed along the river edge.
4. Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
Although Khajuraho is a little out of the way, don’t give it a miss on this basis. Nowhere else will you find such unique temples with meticulously detailed carvings. These ancient temples, which date back to the 10th and 11th centuries, are best known for their erotic sculptures. There are over 20 temples devoted to sexuality and sex. However, more than that, they show a celebration of love, life and worship. They also provide an uninhibited peek into ancient Hindu faith and Tantric practices.
5. Udaipur, Rajasthan
There’s no better place to experience India’s regal splendor than Udaipur. It really is India’s most romantic city! Who could resist the allure of its enchanting old mansions, beautiful gardens, intricate temples, and grand palaces overlooking expansive shimmering lakes. The City Palace, which stretches along the eastern shore of Lake Pichola, leaves visitors spellbound. The way it has been constructed is exquisite, with Rajput military architecture and Mughal style decorative techniques both combined together. The Mewar royal family still lives in a part of it too!
6. Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Jaisalmer, Rajasthan’s fairy tale sandstone city, features a remarkable living fort that was built in 1156 and is perched high on a pedestal overlooking the city. Inside, it houses five palaces, several temples, and some exquisite havelis (mansions), as well as shops and other residences. Camels safaris into the desert are another highlight.
7. Haridwar and Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Haridwar and Rishikesh are holy places situated not far from each other at the foothills of the Himalayas. While Haridwar predominantly attracts Hindu pilgrims, Rishikesh is acknowledged as the birthplace of yoga and is more popular with western spiritual seekers.
8. Manali, Himachal Pradesh
There’s Manali — and, there’s Old Manali. A little up hill from Manali town, the village of Old Manali is a world away from the crowds. You’ll find traditional homes and quaint guest houses, surrounded by apple orchards and snow-covered peaks. Old Manali is one of the top destinations for backpacking in India and is refreshing place to relax in the pure mountain air.
9. Leh and Ladakh
Remote Ladakh has become an increasingly popular tourist destination since it was opened to foreigners in 1974. Leh, the most common entry point to the region, is bounded by two of the world’s largest mountain ranges and surrounded by alpine desert. Buddhist monasteries and trekking opportunities are the biggest draws for visitors.
10. Srinagar, Kashmir
Srinagar, in predominantly Muslim Kashmir, is a place of splendid natural beauty, with serene lakes and Mughal-style gardens. Srinagar is most well known for its houseboats, a legacy of the British that has rapidly multiplied. Although civil unrest has been a concern in the area, harming tourism in the past, calm has been restored and visitors are returning to the area. It’s often referred to as the “Switzerland of India”. Head there in early April to catch the magnificent Tulip Festival.