Full of fragrant dishes, natural beauty, and historical treasures, India can be an exciting and culturally rich place to visit. Here are some of the most amazing places in the seventh-largest country that tourists might want to explore.
Forming a natural harbor on the west coast of India, Mumbai (formerly named Bombay) is the richest and most populated city in the country and is also a center for commerce. Boasting superior cuisine, music, festivals, and theaters, it is no surprise that people consider Mumbai as India’s entertainment capital. The birthplace of Indian cinema, Mumbai is also the center of production for many award-winning Bollywood films.
Gateway of India
While in Mumbai, visitors will want to make sure to visit the famous Gateway of India. Situated on the waterfront in Mumbai, the Gateway of India is great arch-shaped monument that greets visitors of Mumbai that arrive by sea. Referred to as the Taj Mahal of Mumbai, this arch is the city's most popular tourist attraction.
Heading further north, the Rajastan Desert is on the northwest corner of India. Forming a natural border between India and Pakistan, the Rajastan Desert is the 9th largest subtropical desert in the world. The desert is host to eleven national parks and includes the Nara Desert Wildlife Sanctuary. It has also become a popular destination for camel safaris in the desert.
Also in Rajastan, the Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest forts in India. Visitors must enter through a series of seven gates. They can then see an impressive museum and several elaborate palaces with miniatures, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. Mehrangarh also has a rare armor collection, with pieces from every period in Jodhpur. Impressive items include a sword with a jade hilt and a shield filled with rubies, emeralds, and pearls.
Pushkar Camel Fair
While in Rajasthan, visitors might also want to stop by the town of Pushkar. Once a year in November, up to 50,000 camels, cattle, and horses crowd together for a spectacular cultural festival called the Pushkar Camel Fair. Farmers and traders from all over Rajasthan gather together to trade livestock and celebrate the Kartik Purnima full moon. There are also exciting performances from musicicians, magicians, gypsy dancers, and puppeteers. This has rightfully become a huge tourist attraction that visitors will not want to miss.
Also in northern India, located in Agra, is the famous Taj Mahal. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, this white marble mausoleum took 20,000 workers 16 years to complete. It was commissioned by Shah Jahan, the emperor during the Mughal Empire’s period of greatest prosperity, after the loss of his third wife. In addition to preserving the memory of his late wife, Shah Jahan wanted the Taj Mahal to be a place of asylum from guilt, forgiveness from sins, and a lasting testament to the glory of his great empire.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was the leader of the Transcendental Meditation movement, and he also achieved fame as the guru to the Beatles. In 1968 the Beatles stayed at the Ashram at the recommendation of George Harrison. Apparently Ringo and his wife did not like the food and only stayed for a few weeks, but some of the others stayed at the site for almost two months. The Beatles reportedly wrote many of their songs for the White Album while staying at the Ashram.
Bhitarkanika National Park
Moving further east, Bhitarkanika National Park is located on the northeast corner of India. The park is home to the white crocodile, Indian python, king cobra, black ibis, and many spotted deer and wild boar. The park also holds a successful breeding and conservation program for hundreds of saltwater crocodile.
Located on the southeast corner of India on the River Vaigai, Madurai is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It has been called "Thoonga Nagaram," or the city that never sleeps, because many restaurants are open after midnight and the hotels, shops and markets seem to operate 24 hours a day. Madurai is also home to several palaces, including the beautiful Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal and Rani Mangamma. Renovated into one of the five Gandhi Museums in the country, the palace of Rani Mangamma once provided inspiration to Martin Luther King Jr.