Welcome to The Natural wonders in India. One of the world’s most beautiful and diverse travel destinations. From the bustling streets of Mumbai to the stunning temples of Tamil Nadu. From historic forts in Rajasthan to the vibrant bazaars of Kolkata. Steeped in history and culture, while confidently embracing the 21st century, India is a country that can be explored for years, and will surprise you at every corner. I traveled to India on three different occasions, and in this Article I will share with you my personal top 10 places to visit.
Note. It includes not only natural wonders but also man-made wonders.
Amritsar Golden Temple
We begin our journey in Amritsar, to visit the mesmerizing Golden Temple. Located in the spiritual heartland of the Sikh community, this is one of India’s most recognized buildings. While crowds of pilgrims visit the temple daily, the atmosphere is very calm and peaceful. Everyone is welcome to enter, but make sure to take off your shoes and respect other guidelines. Next to the temple is a giant community kitchen, where up to 100,000 pilgrims receive a free meal of lentil soup and chapatis, every day. All the preparation, cooking, and dishwashing is done by volunteers, and you are welcome to join. While in Amritsar, you shouldn’t miss the Wagah border ceremony, located around 30 kilometers from the city. Every evening, just before sunset, the Indian and Pakistani army take part in an entertaining border closing show. It’s both serious and theatrical, as soldiers try to outperform their rivals, to great excitement of the crowds from both sides. Our next destination is Rajasthan.
Rajasthan one of India’s most unique provinces. Nicknamed as the Land of the Kings, Rajasthan is packed with magical towns and cities, and it’s easy to spend several weeks here. Some of the main drawcards are the spectacular royal palaces and hilltop forts, that can be found in the major towns, like Jaipur. Many of them were built by the so called ‘Rajputs’, clans that ruled this region for centuries. Udaipur has maybe the most beautiful palace, set on the shores of Lake Pichola, but each town really has its own distinct character.
Jaisalmer, for instance, is located on the fringes of the desert, and seems to bathe in golden sunlight all day long. While Jodhpur’s old town is nicknamed as the Blue City, with many historic buildings and houses painted various colors of blue. Make sure to explore more than just these momuments, as the narrow alleyways and bustling bazaars of the city centers are great places to get lost. If possible, try to plan your trip to Rajasthan during the Pushkar Camel Fair, where countless camel owners come to trade their animals every year. It’s serious business, with camels looking at their best, and negotiations going on for days. The next spot on my list is Agra.
Home to India’s most famous icon, the Taj Mahal. This landmark structure attracts millions of visitors every year, and has become the tourist symbol of India. It’s an architectural masterpiece that was built more than 3,5 centuries ago, by more than 20,000 workers. It served as a memorial for the wife of emperor Shah Jahan, and regarded as an ultimate declaration of their love. Made from white marble and with beautiful inlays and delicate carvings, it is truly a sight to behold. After Agra we travel to Mumbai.
Mumbai one of India’s most dynamic cities. Often considered as the commercial capital of the country, Mumbai is bursting with energy and creativity. A good place to start exploring is Colaba district, where you find the Gateway of India monument, an icon of the city. Other historic landmarks here include the imposing Taj Mahal Palace hotel, the Bombay University, and the city’s main train station, where you will get a sense of the fast pace of life in Mumbai. Mumbai’s connection with the sea couldn’t be more visibile when you visit the Haji Ali mosque, which is connected with the mainland via a causeway, and becomes an island during high tide. Don’t miss the nearby Dhobi ghat, best described as a massive open air laundry, where thousands of people clean clothes by hand, every day. And visit the Sassoon Docks, the city’s fishing port, where seafood is traded every morning. For a breath of fresh air, the Marine Drive and Chowpatty Beach offer the perfect escape. Lined with beautiful apartments, it’s a pleasant place to walk, and offers views of Mumbai’s ever changing skyline.
Beautiful State of India
We continue our journey in Tamil Nadu province, by many considered as the cultural heartland of South India. It covers a vast area and is dotted with charming coastal towns, pilgrim sites, and many beautiful temples. One such town is Kanyakumari, literally the Land’s End, located at the very Southern tip of India. Hindu pilgrims make their way here on a daily basis, bathing in the sacred waters and visiting the main temple. Further up the coast is a small city called Pondicherry, which used to be a French colony. Walk the main boulevard and intriguing backstreets and briefly feel in Europe. Traveling inland, the small town of Tiruvannamalai is something of a hidden gem, with a spectacular temple complex, one of the largest in India. The town is surrounded by farmland and provides a great insight into the lives of local farming communities. Around 2/3rd of India’s population live in the countryside, and agriculture is an important source of livelihood for many people. Don’t miss out on the beaches as Tamil Nadu offers a very long coastline. From fishing villages to the state’s capital Chennai. And make sure the South Indian food, an entirely different kitchen from the rest of the nation.
If you want to say clearly about Tamil Nadu, this one record is not ten. For example, the Tanjore Peruvudayar temple is unique in its 1000 years and standing unscathed in the face of many climatic changes. There are many places like this. I would like to share the pleasant experience I had about it in a separate post. Hope you like it for sure. Don’t forget to read it, the post will come soon.
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Next up is Kolkata, a fascinating city in the Northeast of India, and regarded as an intellectual and cultural powerhouse. It is located on the Hooghly river, a side river of the mighty Ganges. Often overlooked as a travel destination, the city offers some incredible temples, historic architecture, excellent food, and most important of all, a very welcoming attitude. A great way to start exploring Kolkata is by visiting some of the vibrant bazaars, markets, and shopping malls. They provide a fantastic opportunity to meet local Bengalis and get an idea of daily life in the city.
Make sure to check out the Malik Ghat flower market, a beautiful array of colors, sounds, and smells. And head to the Kumartali neighborhood, where you can witness sculptors making some incredible effigies, for the yearly Durga Puja festival. Some of Kolkata’s most beautiful Hindu temples include the Birla Mandir, and the Dakshineswar temple, a massive complex built in the 19th century. Also impressive is the Victoria Memorial, an example of British colonial architecture. It is located next to the city’s horse racing tracks, which can also be worth a visit. And you can’t miss the Maidan, a massive park where people play India’s most popular sport, cricket, until the sun goes down.
Set in the green mountains of Himachal Pradesh is Dharamsala, perhaps better described as Little Tibet. This is the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile, and the residence of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. It’s a remarkable peaceful place, where you can experience Tibetan culture from up close. Join monks and pilgrims on a traditional kora through the forest, as they turn prayer wheels and whisper mantras. Visit the Norbulingka institute to witness artists creating classic thangka paintings. and eat some of the delicious Tibetan food, including momo dumplings, and freshly produced noodles. If you can, try to time your visit when the Dalai Lama is giving one of his public teaching sessions. Thousands of pilgrims and monks listen for hours, often days on end, fascinated by the lessons and wisdom that he has to share.
We travel onwards to Hyderabad in central India, often nicknamed as ‘Cyberabad’. The city is the second largest IT hub in the country, only after Bangalore. It’s developing at a rapid speed, and visiting some of the office buildings, shopping malls, and construction sites gives a great insight into India’s fast growing digital economy. For some contrast, head to the old Muslim quarter. It’s filled with historic buildings, the most iconic of which is the Charminar monument. Make sure to explore the bustling bazaars that surround it, where people sell and produce some of the finest fabrics, jewelry, and musical instruments. Our next spot on the list is Delhi.
Delhi, the nation’s capital, and a destination in itself. The second largest city in India is a major business and transport hub, and attracts people from afar to work, study, and live. It’s a bustling metropolis, with action packed bazaars and crowded streets. But it’s also full of stunning monuments and iconic buildings. Including the Red Fort, and the beautiful Humayun’s Tomb, both dating from the Mughal empire in the 16th century. Perhaps the most striking building is the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, and an important place of worship for the local Muslim population. While most of these attractions are in Old Delhi, you shouldn’t miss the wide boulevards and streets of New Delhi, which has a distinctly different character.
We finish our journey in Odisha province, located in Eastern India, on the Bay of Bengal. It’s a friendly and cultured region that has some of India’s most beautiful temples and an inviting coastline. The beaches around Puri are host of an annual art festival, where dozens of artists create beautiful sculptures, out of sand. It’s a precise job that requires utmost concentration. The town itself has a pleasant beach as well, and becomes lively in the late afternoons. And don’t miss the eye-catching Jaganath temple, in the center of Puri. Venture further inland for more remarkable architecture, including the Lingar Temple in Bhubaneswar, and the majestic Sun Temple in Konark. Originally constructed in the 13th century, this temple boasts some incredibly detailed carvings and sculptures. And in December, it is the scene of a spectacular traditional dance festival.
And that concludes my personal top 10 places to visit in India, a country so diverse you could travel here for years.
I realize I only began to scratch the surface, and hope to return one day to visit places like Kashmir, Varanasi, Assam, and Kerala.
For now, I hope this Article gave you some travel inspiration for the future, or at least provided some new insights into this fascinating country.
If you enjoyed Reading, feel free to give a like and leave a comment below. Thanks for your support, and I hope to see you again next time. Travel safely!