From the serene beauty of Kashmir in the North to the cozy boat houses of Kanyakumari in the South, India is filled with diverse beauties which make it one of your favorite countries to visit. Its rich historical and cultural background make it all the more appealing. There are numerous ancient monuments which are still tourist hot-spots. If you are an architectural geek or just simply amused by seeing historically opulent places, this list of landmarks will guide you in the right direction. It is difficult to narrow down or serially categorize which landmark is worth visiting and which one isn’t. They are all so special in their own specific ways! You get to see a clear diversification as you move from North to South, or from East to West. The North is filled with picturesque ice-clad mountains, the South is magnificently endowed with a large number of temples and beaches, the West is known for the grand ‘havelis’ or palaces, and the East is the most culturally profound part of India. Let us see what are the main eye-catchers as you breezily look over this bountiful country.
#20 Mysore Palace
Built in the 14th century by the Wadiyars, Mysore Palace is the most attractive tourist destination and an important landmark in South India. This royal palace is also known as the Amba Vilas Palace, located at the heart of the city Mysore. Because it is situated so close to the cyber-hub of India, Bangalore, it gets more and more tourists by the day. There is no specific time period during which you should visit Mysore Palace, you can go there all round the year. This ancient palace has been the residency of the Wadiyar dynasty from the 14th century (year 1399) till the 20th century (year 1950). The ‘darbar’ halls, courtyards, gardens and architecture make it one of the most important and gorgeous landmarks of India. The elaborate painting and interior designing of the palace will give you the royal feels.
#19 French Quarter in Pondicherry (Puducherry)
Pondicherry is in the eastern coastal end of India and is the largest city in the Indian Union Territory. It was initially a French colonial settlement area. It has now preserved it French legacy in the French Quarter and is one of the most beautiful landmarks in India. As you walk down the streets, you can feel a fresh breath of France breezing past you. The tree-lined lanes and the pastel colored houses, they all preserve the little France in the heart of India. There are numerous French cafes around the Quarter which serve delicious food, especially steaks. The White Town, Black Town and Indian Town in the Quarter have a very strong French flavor about them. This is one of the most beautiful places in India to be in.
#18 Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Located in the heart of the most lively city of the country, Mumbai, this is a historic railway station. You might think what could be so interesting about a railway station after all? It is a UNESCO Heritage site in Mumbai, and was initially known as Victoria Terminus. What is most striking about this building is its Goth architecture. It is a mixture of Victorian Gothic Revival and classical Indian architecture. It is the headquarters of the Central Railways. This station is shown in two of major Indian movies. In Slumdog Millionaire, the song “Jai ho!” was shot here. Also, there is a part of Shah Rukh Khan’s Ra.One that was filmed in this station. It is something you should see when you travel to Mumbai.
#17 Lotus Temple
The temple, as its name suggests, is shaped like a giant lotus. This is what makes it truly a marvel to gaze at. Located in the capital city, Delhi, it is the Baha’i House of Worship. In Arabic, it means, “Dawning place of the remembrances of God”. This beauty is made out of pure white marble and is a symbol of peace. The lotus represents a unite and coherence among religions like Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism and Islam. It is one of the most beautiful landmarks in India and looks even more beautiful in the evening. The entire temple gets lit up and that is a wonder to look at. The temple shows the development of modern architecture in India.
#16 Basilica of Bom Jesus
The Basilica is located in Old Goa and reverberates of its Portuguese roots. It is famous not only for its architectural mastery but also because it houses the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of the most famous churches in the world and attracts followers from all over. It is so intricately designed that it will surely cast its spell on you. It is the only church in Goa that is not plastered from the outside. “Bom Jesus” means “infant Jesus” and is dedicated to him. The architecture will take you straight back to the 17th century when it was built (1605). It is a must visit for those people who like going to old churches to feel the calm and peace over there.
#15 Meenakshi Amman Temple
Southern India is famous for the wide array of temples that it displays. One temple stands out particularly because of the out-worldly vibrant colors. Meenakshi Temple in Tamil Nadu is one of the most beautiful temples around the world. It is situated on the banks of River Vaigai and is a place where you can feel the serene. The temple is dedicated to different forms of Shiva and Parvati, that is Sundareswar and Meenakshi. The outside of the temple seems like it is made up of concentric squares. Madurai is the city in Tamil Nadu which has this iconic temple built in it. It has become famous for being the sacred abode of Goddess Parvati.
#14 Hawa Mahal
Literally translated to English it means “Palace of Winds”, Hawa Mahal is situated in Jaipur, the pink city. It is made out of pink sandstone and looks like a giant beehive with its 953 windows or ‘jharokhas’. Culturally, it stands for the fusion of Hindu Rajput architecture and Islamic architecture. The number of windows are so because it was built in way that the royal women could see what was going on in the outside world without being gazed at. It is one of the most famous landmarks in India.
Located on the banks of Tungabhadra River in Karnataka is the ruins of an ancient city-Hampi. It is another famous landmark on the Indian terrain. It will be one of the best things you do on a holiday if you go backpacking to this beautifully ruined place. It has been attracting travelers and tourists for years together. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The main attractions are the Hampi Bazar and the stately Virupaksha Temple.
#12 The Lake Palace
It was initially built in the mid-18th century in Udaipur under the instructions of Maharana Jagat Singh II of Mewar dynasty. It was known as Jag Niwas and served the purpose of being the summer palace. It is built upon Lake Pichola and is now serving as a luxury hotel for the Taj group of hotels. The outward lusture of the palace is due to the use of white marbles and has 83 rooms in total. All you need to do is take a jetty or a private boat till the palace and have one of the best royal treatments ever!
#11 Bundi Stepwells
Bundi is a small city in Hadoti, Rajasthan and has a little over a lac inhabitants in together. This city is known for the stepwells that are so ornately designed. There were around 50 stepwells in Bundi and only a few are actually maintained till date. These stepwells are an example of architectural brilliance. They were the only source of irrigation in Bundi till there were water pipe-lines installed everywhere in the city. Now they are in a dilapidated state but are still a gem for the eyes of the beholder. If you are a fan of complicated, mind-wrenching yet beautiful architecture, this is the place for you to visit.
#10 Jantar Mantar
This is another UNESCO World Heritage sites and has the largest stone sundial. It is in three different cities in the county-Jaipur, Delhi and Varanasi. It is undoubtedly one of the most interesting landmarks in India. There are very many different astronomical instruments to observe the outer space and heavenly bodies. The term “jantar mantar” means a device used for calculating. You must visit this place once in your lifetime.
#9 Gateway of India
It is the unofficial icon that stands for the whole of Mumbai, one of the most lively cities in India. It was built in 1924 to mark the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India for the first time. It is a mark of respect for the rich colonial historic past of the country. It stands tall facing the Arabian Sea in the midst of the hustle-bustle of Colaba. It is one of the most prominent landmarks in India. If you are visiting India, this is one of the handful few places that you need to see.
#8 Qutub Minar
This is one of the most popular landmarks in India, probably one of the oldest too. Its construction began with Qutab Ud-din-Aibak who was the founder of the Delhi Sultanate in the fag end of 12th century. It also another UNESCO World Heritage sites in India. It soars high up to 73 metres and has five distinguishable storeys. It is undecided as to why it was built, whether it was a symbol of victory or a call for prayer is still a mystery. Set In Delhi, this is one of the major tourist attraction spots.
#7 The Victoria Memorial
Built in the early 20th century in Kolkata, West Bengal, it was dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria. It shows the mastery of British architecture which is also quite distinctly seen in other parts of the city too. the white-marbled beauty was built in the Indo-Saracenic revivalist style. It is now reduced to a museum and a tourist spot, but it has rich cultural history too. As you go through Victoria Memorial, you will see various different tokens from the days of the past preserved for us. Queen Victoria’s certain possessions are also a part of it, like her writing desk and chair.
#6 Ajanta and Ellora Caves
They are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites set in Maharashtra. Ajanta caves consist of Buddhist rock-cut monuments, around 29 of them. Ellora caves are of the largest rock-cut monastery temple-caves. They are a blend of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. They are like temple complexes that were built around 600-1000 C.E. They are both so breathtakingly beautiful that they mark themselves as a very important landmark in India.
#5 Fatehpur Sikri
The town was built by one of the greatest Emperors that the world has seen- Akbar. It is located in Agra with a cluster of red sandstone buildings in the center of this small town. This place is kept in a good condition even today. The Buland Darwaza gate leads the entrance to Jama Masjid. Diwan-e-aam, Jodha Bai’s palace and many other such historically famous places are all inside this small town. For people who have watched Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar know about these little details all too well. This town is historically and culturally extremely rich, and is a must visit for all!
#4 The Varanasi Ghats
The constant hustle-bustle and chaos on the Ghats of Varanasi make it all the more alive. It is one of the iconic places in the whole of India where you will feel spiritually fulfilled and moved. On the banks of the Ganges, there are several rituals performed including the famous ‘ganga-aarti’. Every evening there is a giant flame lit by the priests and the river is worshiped. Even though it might be a chaotic mess, you will enjoy your time there around men wearing saffron-colored robes and chanting mantras.
#3 The Golden Temple
Seated in the heart of Amritsar, the Golden Temple is one the most photogenic and beautiful landmarks in India. It is formally known as Sri Harmandir Sahib but due to the layers and layers of golden leaves that cover the exterior, it hence renamed. It is primarily a Sikh temple and the holiest gurudwara in the world. People go here for pilgrimages and find themselves at peace here. It is a symbol of Sikh equality and brotherhood and is a must go for all.
#2 The Red Fort
This historic fort is nestled in Delhi and has been the residence to several Mughal Emperors till the year 1856. It is another UNESCO World Heritage Site which now been transformed into a museum. It is a top tourist destination in not only Delhi, but all over India. It is also called “Lal Qila” and is architecturally splendid to look at. It was built under the reign of Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor in 1648 (within 8 years 10 months and 25 days).
#1 The Taj Mahal
This landmark deserves the top spot because it is not only visually the most attractive, but also a spectacle of undying, eternal love. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz in 1648. It is a marked Wonder of the World, famous all over the globe. The ivory-white marble shines beautifully in sunlight and will make you keep staring at this august monument. Visiting this landmark should be on your bucket-list!
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