Located on the banks of river Yamuna, Delhi has two parts: New Delhi (the national capital) and Old Delhi. It is a city of contrasts with an architecture ranging from 10th century Hindu-Rajputana through 17th century Mughal to 20th century British architecture. It is not uncommon to see cars, tongas (horse carriages) and rickshaws on the same road. New Delhi was built by the British and that is reflected in its architecture. Old Delhi is over 2500 years old and was the captial city of the Mughal empire. It is dominated by the grand bazaar of Chandni Chowk and by the Jama Masjid which is the largest mosque in India. Another popular sight is the Old Red Fort.
Agra is world famous as home to one of the the New 7 Wonders of the world - the impressive Taj Mahal, one of three World Heritage Sites in Agra, the others being Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. The Taj Mahal is a masterpiece of symmetry, seeming to be floating in the air from a distance, and each revealed as an illusion experienced as one enters through the main gate. The most elegant dome of the Taj rises 80 feet over the building and directly under the dome is the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan's favorite wife. The Agra Fort accross the river is also a very impressive structure. It was built by the same Moghul rulers who built the Taj.
Jaipur is one of the most important heritage cities in India, and is a must-see for tourists coming to India. The Prince of Wales came to visit Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, in 1867. In order to show their hospitality, the city was painted pink (pink being the colour in Rajput culture to express hospitality), hence Jaipur's surname: 'the pink city'. It is considered by many urbanists to be one of the best planned cities. Jaipur is famous for its Hawa Mahal, or 'Palace of the Winds'. Other noteworthy buildings are Sawai Jai Singh's observatory, Jantar Mantar and the Amer Palace. The Iswari Minar Swarga Sul minaret is another interesting landmark.
Bangalore is one of the five biggest Metropolitan cities of India. Its fast development has attracted multinational corporations and large Indian corporations, pubs and night life, clubs, multi-storied buildings and highways, broadband Internet, amusement and lake-side parks, travel business and packaged tours, five-star hotels and resorts, and shopping malls. While here, visit the Palace of Tippu Sultan, the Bull Temple, the Indian Institute of Science, Cubbon Park, and the magnificient Lal Bagh botanical garden. The diversity of cuisine available reflecting the social and economic diversity of Bangalore is another of its attractions.
Mumbai or Bombay is the cosmopolitan capital of Maharashtra. The main landmark of the city is Gateway to India - a monument built to commemorate the visit of king George the V in 1911. From here, you can catch a boat to the Elephanta Island, a UNESCO world heritage site where you can see rock-cut temples and caves dating back to the 6th century. Take a visit to one of the many museums, such as the Gandhi Museum, art galleries, bazaars like Crawford Market area, parks (the hanging gardens are a must) and to the temples. The Hutatma Chawk area with a large concentration of impressive historical buildings, such as the fabulous Town Hall in neo-classical style is also a must.
A city of Contrasts and diversities, Chennai is the forth-largest city in India and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Known world wide as Madras until recently, Chennai is a coastal city with the second largest beach in the world. Chennai's culture reflects its diverse population. It hosts a large cultural event, the annual Madras Music Season, which includes performances by hundreds of artists. The city has a vibrant theatre scene and is an important center for the Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form. The Tamil movie industry, known as Kollywood, is based here.
Surrnamed "The Golden City", Jaisalmer stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by the Jaisalmer Fort. The main attractions inside the fort are: Raj Mahal (Royal palace), Jain temples and the Laxminath temple. The town is filled with many artistic structures and monuments of local historical importance. Jaisalmer's medieval mud fortress and walled township make it a popular tourist destination. The most impressive havelis in Jaisalmer are: Patwon-ki-Haveli, Salim Singh-ki-Haveli, Nathmalji-ki-Haveli. Camel safaris through the nearby desert dunes are popular with tourists.
The former Portuguese colony of Goa is one of the most relaxed and beautiful places in India. Renowned for its beaches, Goa is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. Some of the best beaches are found in Anjuna, Calangute and Colva. Goa is also known for its temples and world heritage architecture including the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, which makes it one of the biggest Christian pilgrimage sites in Asia. Goa also has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which is classified as a biodiversity hotspot.
Jodhpur is a popular tourist destination, featuring many beautiful palaces, temples, and a scenic desert landscape. The city is known as the Sun City for the bright, sunny weather it enjoys all year. The most impressive landmark is the Meherangarh Fort, located at the top of the hill and reached by quite a climb, it offers some excellent views of the city. The town is also referred as the Blue City, due to the indigo tinge of the whitewashed houses. The old city is surrounded by a thick stone wall that has six huge gates. Nearby Jodhpur there some intresting sites such as Mandore and Osiyan.
Built around the clear lake Pichola, Udaipur is also known as the City of Lakes or as the Venice of the East. You can take a boat trip and visit the island and the Lake Palace (maybe you know it from one of those James Bond films). The City Palace is one of the most beautiful places to visit here. Nearby Udaipur there are some interesting sights. The Kumbhalgarh Fort is one of the most important forts in this area. In Ranakpur you can visit one of the most impressive Jain temples. A good option is also renting a bike for a day and set off for other lakes in the vicinity or Shilpgram.
Varanasi, formerly known as Banaras, is one of the most important religious cities in India, situated on the banks of the river Ganges. It is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Its unique culture and spiritual atmosphere, transformed it into a major tourist destination. The city is called Kashi, "the luminous" and is referred to as "city of temples and learning." Varanasi is also a noted centre for silk weaving and brassware. Fine silks and brocaded fabrics, exquisite saris, brassware, jewellery, woodcraft, carpets, wall hangings, lamp shades and masks of Hindu and Buddhist deities are some of Varanasi's shopping attractions.
Khajuraho is a rather isolated location and although it is somewhat hard to reach (there is no train station), one should definitely try to visit it. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, because it has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculpture. These monuments have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It will take you at least two days to visit all temples. If you don't have that much time, make sure you visit the western group of temples that are set in a well-preserved park. The gardens are an excellent spot to catch your breath again.
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