India has a rich and varied history dating back to 300,000 years ago. For the same reason, there are several tourist attractions in India of historical significance. Among the plethora of tourist attractions in India, a lot of them are mosques, temples, churches and gurudwaras owing to the rich culture and religious diversity in the country. Some of these extravagant tourist attractions in India were created hundreds of years ago by different rulers of respective places while some others came into being after independence. Some of these are also UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not to forget, the renowned Taj Mahal that is one of the seven wonders of the world and the very famous Nalanda University. Have a look at the list of the most popular tourist attractions in India given below.
Here is the list of 42 Tourist Attractions in India That Should Definitely Be on Your Bucket List
The Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world and is considered to be the most popular tourist attraction in the country. A symbol of love, the Taj was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his queen Mumtaz. Tagore described the Taj as a "teardrop on the cheek of eternity". The monument attracts a lot of tourist all around the year.
Known For : Ajanta Caves | Kailasanatha and other temples, Ellora | Grishneshwar Temple, Ellora
Ajanta and Ellora caves are considered to be one of the most important tourist destinations in the world owing to the magnificent paintings of Ajanta and well-carved sculptures of Ellora. The rock-cut caves containing carvings are the finest example of Indian paintings and sculpture.
Best Time : June to March
Known For : Kashi Vishwanath Temple | Dashashwamedh Ghat | Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
Varanasi, the city that is more than just the spiritual capital of India. The city which can be aptly described as a melting pot where both life and death come together. The city that you only need to visit once for it to stay with you forever. Popular among the both domestic and international tourists for its magnanimous ghats and Ganga Aarti, the city is among the top tourist destinations of the country.
Best Time : October to March
Known For : Desert Safari | Jaisalmer Fort | Gadisar Lake
Best Time : October to March
Tangibly the most spiritual place in India, Golden Temple, also known as Sri Harmindar Sahib, is the holiest shrine in Sikhism which is alive with religious fervour and sacredness. It is a place that can only be experienced and not described. Serving as a symbol of brotherhood and equality, Golden Temple is visited by people from all over the globe who come here to seek spiritual solace and religious fulfilment. Although the Golden Temple itself is of great historical and architectural interest, it is the view of the resplendent shrine, glistening in the centre of the tank, bringing an infinite calmness that is most memorable to a visitor.
The Red Fort is a historical fortification in the national capital of New Delhi. Located in the center of the city, it was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty. It was constructed by Shah Jahan in the year 1939 as a result of a capital shift from Agra to Delhi. This imposing piece of architecture derives its name from its impregnable red sandstone walls. In addition to accommodating the emperors and their households, it was the ceremonial and political center of the Mughal state and the setting for events critically impacting the region.
The Gateway of India is, without doubt, one of the most popular tourist hotspots of Mumbai. It is located at Apollo Bunder Waterfront and overlooks the Arabian Sea in the most beautiful way. One of the most distinguished monuments in Mumbai, it was built in the year 1924 by famous architect George Wittet as a commemoration of the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai. The imposing structure of the monument is a beautiful confluence of Indian, Arabic and Western architecture and has become a popular tourist hub in the city.
One of the oldest mosques in the city, the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad is one of the largest masjids in India. This revered shrine was commissioned by Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutub Shahi Dynasty in the year 1614, while the construction saw completion in the year 1694. It is believed that he himself laid down the foundation stone of the edifice, and the arch embellishments over the main sanctum are made from the soil of the Holy Land of Mecca. It is due to this reason that it is called the 'Makkah Masjid' as well.
Cradled on the top of the Aravali Hill and forming a beautiful reflection across the Maotha Lake, lies the Amber Fort. An architectural masterpiece and with significant reference in the Indian history, it is visited by over five thousand tourists daily. Only eleven kilometres away from the capital city of Jaipur, Amber Fort is clad in pink and yellow sandstone and is a part of an extensive complex. The Fort gives a mesmerizing view from the bottom of the hill when it is illuminated every evening.
Goa, a tiny state on the western coast of India along the Arabian Sea, is famous for its laidback beaches, night long parties, beach shacks, water sports and many other adventure activities. One of the most visited states of India, Goa has many beaches along its beautiful coastline, catering to millions of visitors every year. Goa beaches are famous across the country and it is the place associated most with beautiful beaches and with so many of these out there, we help you get down to the 34 best beaches in Goa, all very characteristically different.
The Mehrangarh Fort, built by Rao Jodha in 1459 in Jodhpur, is one of the largest forts in the country. It is situated at the top of a 410 feet elevated hill and guarded by massive walls. Located in the centre of the city, the fort covers an area of approximately 5 Kms of a hill. Its walls have a height of 36 metres and width of 21 metres.
An incredibly breathtaking example of Indo - Saracenic style of architecture, the Mysore Palace is a magnificent edifice located in Mysore in the state of Karnataka. Also known as the Amba Vilas Palace, it is the former palace of the royal family of Mysore and is still their official residence.
The famous and sparkling blue Pangong lake is situated near Leh-Ladakh in the Himalayas, approximately at the height of 4350 meters. This endorheic lake is 12 kilometres long and extends from India to Tibet, with two-thirds of it lying in the latter. Owing to its altitude, the temperature here ranges from -5°C to 10°C as a result of which the lake freezes completely during winters in spite of its salinity. A unique feature of the lake is that it does not remain blue throughout the year or even the day, rather it changes colours from azure to light blue to green and grey too!
Known For : Virupaksha Temple | Vithala Temple | Elephant Stables
Hampi, the city of ruins, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in the shadowed depth of hills and valleys in the state of Karnataka, this place is a historical delight for travellers. Surrounded by 500 ancient monuments, beautiful temples, bustling street markets, bastions, treasury building and captivating remains of Vijayanagar Empire, Hampi is a backpacker's delight. Hampi is an open museum with 100+ locations to explore and a favourite way to see the city from the perspective of its history.
Best Time : October to March
Kerala is a unique south Indian state with a labyrinthine web of canals, lagoons, lake and estuaries. Whenever we hear Kerala, our imagination places us in a houseboat in the famous backwaters, drinking coconut water and eating in a plantain leaf. In the backdrop are the tall coconut trees and lush green nature. Going on a houseboat cruise in the backwaters of Kerala is a dream which requires little effort to make it a reality. Backwaters being the largest freshwater source for Kerala are a rich bed of marine flora and fauna that also embodies a variety of boating options.
Amidst the rush and chaos of Central Delhi, lies the peace and tranquillity of the largest mosque in the country. The 'Masjid-I Jahan-Numa' or Jama Masjid as it is more commonly known, means "World Reflecting Mosque." It was the last of Shah Jahan's impressive collection of architectural undertakings, after the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort. The mosque hosts thousands of pilgrims each year on the holy occasion of Eid to offer special Namaz in the morning.
The Mahabodhi temple also called the "Great Awakening Temple", is among one of the World Heritage Sites. It is a Buddhist temple in Bodh Gaya, which marks the location where the Buddha, is said to have attained enlightenment. It is hence, one of the only four sites related to the life of Lord Buddha. The temple spreads over an area of a whopping 4.8 hectares and stands 55 meters tall. The Bodhi Tree is right to the left of the temple. They say that this tree is the direct descendant of the actual tree, sitting under which Lord Gautam Buddha meditated. The Mahabodhi temple has a very calm and serene ambience, which people from all walks of life can appreciate.
The historic Meenakshi Amman temple is located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River, Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Built sometime between the year 1623 and 1655, the wonderful architecture of the place is renowned globally. Meenakshi Temple is primarily dedicated to Parvati, known as Meenakshi, and her spouse, Shiva. What makes this temple different from the others is the fact that both God and Goddess are worshipped together.
Known For : Light and sound show | Kandariya Mahadev Temple | Lakshman Temple
Khajuraho is known around the world for its stunning temples adorned by erotic and sensuous carvings. Khajuraho is a brilliant example of Indian architecture and its culture back in the medieval period. The architecture of these Hindu and Jain temples depict the innocent form of love, the carvings on the walls display passion in the most erotic yet aesthetic ways. Built between 950 to 1050 AD the sheer confrontational nature of these carvings show a stark paradox with the conventional Indian ideals about eroticism, leaving everybody spellbound.
Best Time : July to March
Another symbol of the British Raj in India, the Victoria Memorial is located in the heart of Kolkata, which was formerly known as Calcutta, in West Bengal, India. This white marbled beauty, which can rightly be called the epitome of grace and elegance, was built in memory of Queen Victoria to celebrate her 25 years of rule over India.
Located near the famous Golden Temple of Amritsar, the Jallianwala Bagh is a public garden which houses a memorial to commemorate the massacre of peaceful celebrators by the British forces. The tragic incident had left a deep scar on the country, and a memorial was constructed post the independence for the innocents who lost their lives in this devastating incident. Established by the government of India in 1951, the massacre memorial was inaugurated by Dr Rajendra Prasad on 13th April 1961. The place has been turned into a beautiful park and is managed by the Jallianwala Bagh National memorial trust.
The Great Rann of Kutch, a large area of salt marshland, is located in the District of Kutch, in the western state of India, Gujarat. The vast expanse is situated in the Thar Desert and is formed of salt marshes which create a mesmerising view that attracts travellers from all over the world. Sunsets at the Great Rann of Kutch are a treat to the eyes after exploring the region. Watching the moon on a full moon night in the captivating surroundings of the Great Rann of Kutch will make you feel like you are on a different planet altogether.
The Cellular Jail, also known as 'Kala Pani' is an old colonial prison situated in Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar islands. Constructed by the Britishers during their colonial rule in India, Cellular Jail was used particularly to exile political prisoners where they were subjected to many atrocities at the hands of the British. The construction of the jail began in the year 1896 and was completed in 1906, after which it was used to house many notable freedom fighters such as Batukeshwar Dutt, Yogendra Shukla and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
Known For : Nalanda University | Hiuen Tsang Memorial Hall | The Great Stupa
The most popular Mahavihara of the ancient times, a significant Buddhist seat of academic excellence and a modest pilgrim center, all wrapped in a wisp of spirituality, Nalanda continues to be an equally enriching location in the present. It offers vibrant substance of spirituality, history, culture, architecture, and tourism.
Best Time : October to March
The massive edifice of Hawa Mahal stands at the intersection of the main road in Jaipur, Badi Chaupad. It is regarded as the signature building of the city and was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in the year 1799. Hawa Mahal derives its name from its unique structure, which is a mesh of small windows that allowed cool wind to enter the palace and hence kept the palace comfortable during the hot summer months. The main reason behind the palace's construction was to allow the women of the royal house to observe the festivities on the streets whilst being unseen from the outside.
History is alluring. It teaches us about the culture, people, traditions of an era gone by. In the history of the southern parts of the country, the Chola Empire ruled for centuries. They gifted a major chunk of history to us to devour on by building some of the most magnificent temples of all times. These temples were constructed between 11th- and 12th-century. The three temples built by the Chola kingdom are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and are labelled as, "Great Living Chola Temples". These are - The Brihadesvara Temple (Thanjavur), Brihadisvara Temple (Gangaikondacholisvaram) and Airavatesvara Temple (Darasuram).
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Elephanta Caves is a specimen of rock-cut art and architecture from the times of medieval India. The caves are located on the Elephanta island which is situated at a distance of 11 km from the city of Mumbai. Natively known as Gharapurichi Leni, the Elephanta Caves that exist today are ruins of what were once elaborately painted artworks. It also provides an amazing view of the Mumbai skyline.
The Bara Imambara of Lucknow is one of the most famous monuments of the city. Also known as Asfi Imambara, after the name of the Nawab of Lucknow who got it constructed, it is an important place of worship for the Muslims who come here every year to celebrate the religious festival of Muharram. The Imambara is primarily known for its incredible maze, known as Bhul Bhulaiya locally, which is located on the upper floor of the monument.
A city, predominantly made of red sandstone, Fatehpur Sikri was founded in 16th century by Mughal Emperor Akbar. Back then it was the capital of his Empire for fifteen years. Now a UNESCO world heritage site and a famous tourist attraction, it is a fine example of Akbar's architectural finesse. Fatehpur Sikri is a home to Jodha Bai's palace , Jama Mosque, Buland Darwaza , and a Tomb of Salim Chisti.
The national emblem of India and a mark of Emperor Ashoka's visit to Sarnath, the Ashoka Pillar crafted out of stone is an impressive structure with four lions at the top. This 50 m long pillar along with the Dhamek Stupa, are Ashoka's gift to Buddhism and the entire complex has a calm aura to it. A number of monks are spotted meditating around the compound. The entire complex is filled with lush green lawns, and along with the Stupa, they resemble a colony with the Ashoka Pillar being the main attraction. India's oldest archaeological museum has been built at the periphery of the complex.
Known For : Shore Temple | Mahabalipuram Beach | Five Rathas
Famous for its intricately carved temples and rock-cut caves, Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram as it is famously known, is a historically important and well-loved tourist location situated on the Coromandel Coast along the Bay of Bengal, in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Best Time : November to February
The Cave Temples of Badami consist of four separate temples, each holding intricate carvings and depictions. These carvings depict Shiva and Vishnu in various avatars in the first 3 temples, representing the Brahmanical style. The fourth temple is dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras.
Statue of Unity is a memorial to The Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The statue has been erected to propagate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's vision of India and to inspire the Citizens of India through his patriotism and freedom struggle. The Bronze statue of the founding father of the Republic of India stands 182 metres tall grabbing the attention of the whole world as the 'Tallest statue in the World'. The statue of Unity is Located in Gujrat, by the banks of River Narmada on the River Island of Sadhu Bet overlooking the Narmada Dam (Sardar Sarovar Dam) from 3.2 km away.
The Junagarh Fort of Bikaner is a magnificent structure around which the city of Bikaner grew up. The fort was initially called Chintamani and was then renamed as the Junagarh or Old fort in the 20th century. The foundations of the Junagarh fort was built in 1478 by Rao Bika. However, it existed just as a stone fort then. The present grand structure was inaugurated on 17th February 1589. Besides having a rich history, the Junagarh Fort is a feat of architecture. The palaces inside the fort, the gardens, balconies, kiosks, etc. depict a composite architectural style which is influenced by the cultural differences of the different rulers and also foreign inspirations.
Kumbhalgarh Fort is one of the five hill forts of Rajasthan that were declared the UNESCO world heritage site in 2013. It is situated in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan and lies 82 kilometres northwest of the city of Udaipur. Constructed on the foothills of Aravalli ranges, it is surrounded by thirteen hill peaks of the ranges and is perched at an elevation of 1,914 m. The magnificent fort is situated in the middle of a forest which has been turned into a wildlife sanctuary. It is the second largest and the most important Mewar fort of Rajasthan after Chittorgarh palace.
Famous for the historical ruins and the ghost stories, Bhangarh has been regarded as the most haunted place in the country. It is located on the way between Jaipur and Delhi. As soon as you enter through the main gate of the ruined fort city, also known as Bhoot Bangla, it gives a chill down your spine. Within the fort, there are temples, palaces, and Havelis. Apart from that, there are also four more gates for the entry to the fort: the Lahori Gate, the Ajmeri Gate, the Phulbari Gate and the Delhi Gate.
A prominent landmark of the Telangana state and an apt example of architectural excellence and historical richness, the Warangal fort is situated in Warangal. The city is also known as Oru Kallu, which means 'a single stone'. Locals believe the city was built on a single rock in the medieval era. Sprawlingly spread across a stretch of 19 km between Warangal & Hanamkonda, this 12th-century fort is a prominent historical attraction in Telangana. Every year thousands of enthusiastic tourists flock in to witness the historical and architectural marvel of this region.
Built by local Maurya rulers (often confused with imperial Maurya Rulers) in 7th century A.D, the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan is one of the largest forts in India. The imposing structure of the fort has numerous gateways built by the later rulers of the Maurya clan. Chittorgarh Fort was previously the capital of Mewar and is now situated in the city of Chittorgarh. It is one of the most historically important forts in the entire north India and it reverberates with tales of heroism and sacrifice. It also displays the Rajput culture and values in the true sense. Owing to its magnificent edifice, the Chittorgarh Fort was declared a UNESCO's World Heritage Site in the year 2013.
The soaring and brave tower that allures tourists despite being destroyed by ravages of natural apocalypses several times, Qutub Minar is the tallest individual tower in the world and second tallest monument of Delhi. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is located in Mehrauli and its construction was started in 1192 by Qutb Ud-Din-Aibak, founder of Delhi Sultanate. Later, the tower was built by various rulers over the centuries. The sight of this glorious monument takes you back to the rich history of India.
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