India is an enormous country in South Asia and the second-most populous country in the world after China. It’s one of those places on the planet that make you stand in awe with everything you see, and this is the case for the country’s immense cities as well as its natural beauty.
The Indian subcontinent is continuously pushing north, a process that started about 75 million years ago and which has created the highest mountains in the world. The country also features a coastline with a length of 7,517 kilometers (4,700 miles), including the various islands that belong to the country.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best things to do in India, attractions that you simply must put on your bucket list when you plan to visit this amazing country.
1. Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is easily one of the most iconic structures on the planet. It’s not just one of the most remarkable mausoleums in the world but was also chosen as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. It’s located in the city of Agra in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in the northern part of the country.
It was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 and was built in honor of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal (1593-1631), who was also his favorite wife (yes, he had multiple). Estimates state that the money he spent was about US$956 billion, and when you get a chance to admire this incredible architectural miracle then you’ll surely understand where that money went.
Read more on Listerious: 36 facts about the Taj Mahal
Official website: Taj Mahal
2. Thar Desert
The Thar Desert is one of the aridest regions in India and is located in the northwestern part of the country. This fascinating desert also stretches across the border with Pakistan, albeit only 15%, and covers a total area of 200,000 square kilometers (77,000 square miles), making it the 20th-largest desert in the world.
The region around Jaisalmer, a city also known as the “Golden City,” has seen a sharp increase in ecotourism in the region over the last couple of years. This city in the Indian state of Rajasthan lies entirely within the desert and is the starting point of adventurous tours which range from cheap backpacking to luxurious campsites with live cultural performances. Tourists can discover the immense wealth of this fascinating, yet fragile ecosystem, preferably during camel safaris.
Read more on Listerious: 12 facts about the Thar Desert
Akshardham, officially known as Swaminarayan Akshardham, is an enormous Hindu Temple complex in New Delhi that combines spiritual with education facilities. Visitors can learn everything about the past Millennia of Hinduism at the complex ranging from architecture to spirituality and Hind culture in general.
The complex features multiple exhibits such as the Sahajanand Darshan (the Hall of Values), the Nilkanth Darshan (a Theatre), and a boat ride named the Sanskruti Vihar. This 12-minute boat ride brings visitors to 10,000 years of history using figures and robotics, an amazing experience if you want to learn everything about Indian culture. To top it off, the complex also features a musical fountain called the Yagnapurush Kund which is India’s largest step well.
Official website: Akshardham Temple
4. Mysore Palace
Mysore Palace is officially known as “Mysuru Palace” and is one of the most intriguing palaces in India. It’s located in the state of Karnataka in the southwest of India and the city of Mysore in the southern part of the state. This palace isn’t the only one in the city but the major one of the 7 palaces located in the city fittingly referred to as ‘The City of Palaces.”
The current palace was built on the location of an old fort with the first palace inside their fort dating back to the 14th-century. Multiple places followed this original version and the current palace, which features the traditional Indo-Saracenic architectural style, was constructed between 1897 and 1912. It’s not just one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state of Karnataka, but in all of India with over 6 million yearly visitors.
Read more on Listerious: 12 facts about Mysore Palace
Official website: Mysore Palace Tourism
5. Meenakshi Temple
The Meenakshi Temple is officially known as the Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple and is one of the so-called Paadal Petra sthalam temples, a list of 275 temples dedicated to Lord Shiva mentioned in the Tamil Saiva Nayanars verses between the 6th and 9th centuries A.D.
This particular temple complex is located in the temple city of Madurai on the banks of the Vaigai River in Tamil Nadu, a state in the utmost southern part of India. It’s a major pilgrimage for followers of the Shaivism tradition and features some of the most fascinating Hindu architecture in India.
Official website: Meenakshi Temple
6. Golden Temple
The Golden Temple is locally known as the “Harmandir Sahib” which translates to the “Abode of God” and is the most important spiritual site of Sikhism, a Dharmic religion popular in the Punjab region of India. This magnificent structure is located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, in the northern part of India.
The temple complex was originally built around a man-made pool in the late 16th and early 17th centuries but ended up being destroyed several times the following period. The current version of the temple, which was built in the early 19th century using marble and copper and covered with gold foil in 1830. Today, the complex is open for everybody, regardless of your religion, and one of the most fascinating landmarks in India.
Official website: Golden Temple Amritsar