1. Taj Mahal
Standing proudly in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, the Taj Mahal is one of the world’s most instantly recognizable structures, and one of the best tourist places to visit in India. It’s one of the three points on India’s so-called ‘golden triangle’ of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra and incredibly popular all year round. It was built as a mausoleum for Mumtaz Mahal, the late wife of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, and took more than 21 years to complete.
2. Kerala backwaters
India’s state coast is well deserving of a spot in a list of the best places to visit in India. Hire an Indian houseboat on the Kerala backwaters and enjoy traditional massages, delicious fresh curries and all the home comforts of a hotel. You can moor the boat along the coast and see some of Kerala’s best sights, including Fort Kochi, Bolgatty Palace and the beautiful Santa Cruz Basilica.
3. Amber Fort (Amer Fort)
The Amber Fort is one of the main tourist attractions in Jaipur and it’s easy to see why. Built in red sandstone and white marble, the whole palace complex is stunning. The workmanship and detail in some of the rooms and corridors is incredible. Pay particular attention to the Diwan-i-Am (the public audience hall) and the Jai Mandir (the victory hall) which has a beautiful mirrored ceiling.
Address: Devisinghpura, Amer, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302001, India
4. The Red Fort
There are almost too many forts in India to count, but if you want to make sure you see the best of them, visit Delhi’s Red Fort. It was another construction ordered by Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor, who – as the legend goes – buried the beheaded bodies of his prisoners in the Fort’s foundation for good luck. The expansive fort was built using the old red stone that’s so familiar in old Delhi architecture. As well as general entry, there’s a light and sound show each evening with a voiceover by the much loved Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan.
Address: Netaji Subhash Marg, Lal Qila, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi
Opening times and entry: Open daily from sunrise to sunset, closed Mondays. Entry costs Rs30/Rs500 (Dh2/Dh29) for Indians/non-Indians. English audio guide is Rs69/Rs114 (Dh4/Dh7) for Indians/non-Indians
5. River Ganges and Varanasi
Thousands of Hindu pilgrims flock to the banks of the River Ganges to wash away their sins or to perform a traditional Hindu funeral pyre for a late relative. You can reach the banks of the river at various places in India but the most famous spot is at Varanasi. The city, known as the City of Lights (it never sleeps) is everything you might love or hate about India – crowded, smelly and crazy! The Manikarnika Ghat is the most auspicious place for a Hindu funeral pyre and a fascinating place to visit (but photography is prohibited, and remember to act respectfully) to observe an incredible tradition.
Mumbai is India’s largest city so it’s probably no surprise that it’s one of the most popular tourist places in India. Highlights include the Oval Maiden, where you can watch a game of India’s best loved sport – cricket, Marine Drive, a glamorous strip of skyscrapers and five star hotels, and the curiously named Prince of Wales Museum (it’s actually officially called the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja Vastu Sangrahalaya), which provides a great insight into India’s history. There’s also some great haggling to be done at the Chor Bazaar. Want to know else Mumbai has to offer? Read our article on the best things to do in Mumbai.
Read more: Best hotels in Mumbai for every budget
7. Hawa Mahal (The Pink Palace)
Situated right in the heart of Old Jaipur, Rajasthan, the Hawa Mahal is an arresting sight with its intricate honeycomb windows and distinct pink exterior. Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, it was designed to allowed all the ladies in the royal household to watch the goings on in the city below, without being seen themselves. It’s a popular India tourist attraction so can get very busy and hot, especially in the narrow corridors that link the different rooms open to the public. You can learn a little about Jaipur and the Hawa Mahal’s history in the modest museum open Saturday through Thursday.
Address: Hawa Mahal Rd, Badi Choupad, J.D.A. Market, Kanwar Nagar, Jaipur
8. Qutb Minar
The Qutb Minar is one of the most popular places to visit in Delhi. The most famous structure in the Qutb complex is the 73m Minar, built in around 1192. It holds the record as the tallest brick minaret in the world.
Address: Mehrauli, Delhi
Opening times and entry: Open daily. Entry costs All days Rs30/Rs500 (Dh2/Dh29) for Indians/non-Indians
This hotel in Udaipur, Rajasthan, takes luxury to a new level. You can only reach it by boat and some rooms come with their own Royal Butlers! The palace was built in 1746 as the winter retreat for Maharana Jagat Singh II and many of the original features remain today. It attracted the eye of Hollywood producers in the 1980s and was used as a filming location in the James Bond movie Octopussy in 1983. There’s six room types to choose from, ranging from the most “basic” Luxury Room which all have views of the lake, city and mountains, up to the Grand Presidential Street which has everything you could ever want in a hotel room (including many things you didn’t even know you wanted!) such as a yoga kit, bath menu and 492 thread count bed linen.
Address: Pichola Lake, Udaipur, 313001, India
10. Ellora Caves
These caves in Maharashtra were a labor of love for Hindu, Jain and Buddhist monks, who spent more than 500 years working on them. There’s more than 100 caves across the whole site – of which 34 are open to the public – stretching 2km across the cliff face. The workmanship is stunning and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are Ella Cave monasteries, temples and chapels, all decorated with various deities represented by the different groups of monks. The Kailasa Temple is the most well-known of the caves and one of the most impressive monuments in India.
Address: Aurangabad, Maharashtra 431005, India
Opening times and tickets: 6am – 6pm, closed Tuesdays. Entry is ₹30/500 (Dh2/28) for Indians/non-Indians
*Published November 2017. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.
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