If you’ve grown tired of all your usual vacation spots and you want a radically different experience, consider India. At 1.269 million square miles and with 1.3 billion people, it is a vast country with varied experiences and attractions. From beaches and mountains to temples and mosques, there is something for everyone. Use these eight suggestions to help you plan the perfect India trip.
The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is one the world’s most well-known tombs and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Far from being morbid, it is an architectural wonder, a structure of immense beauty and a story of India’s history. Depending on the time of day you visit, the shimmering marble may appear white, pinkish or golden. If you want to see the complex more than once, stay in a hotel that’s nearby like the Courtyard Agra.
Ajanta and Ellora Caves
These hand-crafted caves in the hillside are another UNESCO World Heritage site and are said to be the most spectacular caves in the country. Ellora’s 34 Buddhist, Hindu and Jain caves date back to between the 6th and 11th centuries AD while the 29 Buddhist ones at Ajanta were carved with hammer and chisel between the 2nd century BC and 6th century AD.
The beaches of Goa
If sea and sand are high on your list of travel experiences, head to Goa. Visit the south for peaceful and mostly uncrowded stretches like Agondo. If you prefer beach parties and the chance to meet other tourists, head south. Calangute Beach has lots of commercial activity while Arambol is the place to go for yoga and reiki during the day and jam sessions at night.
Kanha National Park
India has several national parks but if you can only see one, make it Kanha. It was the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and it features open grasslands, lakes, streams and forests. It is also home to several species of animals and has been involved in conservation programs.
The capital city of Delhi
It’s like a tale of two cities in Delhi. In Old Delhi, it’s a throwback to the past with bustling backstreets and vibrant bazaars. New Delhi offers up colonial-style buildings while Gurgaon is all skyscrapers and fancy shopping malls. See it all for the best experience and don’t forget to take your camera along as you travel through time.
The Gateway of India
Overlooking the Mumbai harbor, The Gateway of India is a large arch which marks the country’s main ports. It was built in 1924 to welcome King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai and years later, it was the exit for the last of the British troops. Today, it’s a big attraction for many who are visiting India for the first time. The area is often bustling with vendors and food stands.
The Red Fort
The Red Fort rises 33 meters above Old Delhi as a reminder of the power of the Mughal emperors. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan and was originally the home of the royal family. The now iconic walls were meant to keep enemies out but now they keep out some of Delhi’s noise. Inside you’ll find the Drum House, the Hall of Public Audiences, the Royal Baths and the Palace of Color, among others.
Varanasi has a lot going on. It is one of the holiest cities for Hindus and it is home to the waters of the Ganges River which many believe has healing powers. People visit in search of cures for illnesses or even to cremate their loved ones. It’s not all heavy stuff, though. Roam the alleyways and see what you encounter or hop in a boat and watch the sunset.