Everyone knows the Taj Mahal in Agra is at the top of every India’s must see list. However, India has other locations that are just as incredible… well, let’s be honest, almost as incredible! India really is full of astonishing places that have played bridesmaid to the Taj for centuries.
We share India’s must see ‘quiet achievers’ :
1. Chand Baori Stepwell
Located in the village of Abhaneri, near Jaipur, the Chand Boari stepwell is over 1,200 years old. It has 3,500 narrow steps covering 13 storeys and is one of the deepest and largest stepwells in India. It is designed to conserve large amounts of water. The stepwell is also a gathering place for the locals to cool off and escape the often-intense heat. The Dark Knight Rises and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel both used the stepwell as a filming location. The uniqueness and accessibility to Rajasthan’s Golden Triangle of this, makes it high on our list of India’s must see locations.
Famous as a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site and one of the most ancient towns in India, Pushkar is definitely one place you should not miss. While away the hours wandering through the street-long bazaar; listen to the pilgrims chant in the ghats on the banks of holy Pushkar Lake; and explore the Brahma Temple, where Brahma is thought to have appeared and dropped a lotus flower. These sites are essential to understanding the devotion and significance of Pushkar in the heart of Hindus.
Known as the ‘city of lakes and palaces’, Udaipur is a beautiful stop to take on your India tour. The City Palace is like no other place on earth. The architecture is exquisite and the 11 palaces inside are all different, but equally as stunning as each other. Often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’, the lake city of Udaipur also has a strong performing arts scene.
Located a short distance from Chennai, Mamallapuram is home to amazing rock-carved architecture, including the Temple of the Five Rathas. The Shore Temple dates back to 700AD and is a stunning example of ancient construction and architecture. There are many amazing frescoes and temples to explore, some reminiscent of mini-Angkor Wat’s.
5. Ghost City of Fatehpur Sikri
Magnificent Mughal architecture and a fascinating history are found in the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri. There is also an air of eerie seclusion. Built during the latter 16th century by the Emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri was the short-lived capital of the Mughal Empire. The fortified city of monuments and temples, 40km west of Agra, is an architectural masterpiece, but suffered from water shortages and so, it was abandoned after only 10 years of use. It stands in stunning condition to this day despite this.
The ‘blue city’, with its imposing Mehrangarh Fort, is a photographer’s paradise. Along with Mehrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada (the royal family tombs) and the Umaid Bhawan Palace are the must-see spots in this city. The old city is a cluster of bright blue structures that stretch around the base of the 16th-century city wall. A visit to Jodhpur will take you back in time to medieval India with the smell of incense, vibrant sari’s and ancient buildings at every turn.
7. Sand Dunes of Jaisalmer
Reminiscent of the Sahara Desert, the Sam Sand Dunes are an enchanting addition to any India tour. Located on the edge of the Thar Desert outside of Jaisalmer, the dunes radiate romantic beauty and stunning silhouettes. The best time to visit these dunes is either sunset or sunrise. A camel or jeep safari in the dunes is an unforgettable experience. You will find yourself transported to the by-gone era of Maharajahs. Jaisalmer is also home to another of India’s imposing forts, but this one is a ‘living fort’ that is still very much in use today.
A final word…
Two final things that it would be remiss not to mention. While they are not specific places, they are two things that will be unforgettable in terms of India’s must see moments.
The bright and vibrant colours!
Beautiful sari’s and turbans contrast with the landscape and buildings. The streets are lined with marigold flower markets and spice stalls. You will pass by many sadhu (holy men) in their saffron robes. Some cities are a swathe of colour, such as the above mentioned Jodhpur or the ‘pink city’ of Jaipur. India is a rainbow of delight and one of the most colourful places on earth.
Authentic Indian Cuisine
The authentic Indian food you will sample takes flavour and aroma to the next level. Your palate will be in overdrive! The ingredients vary from region to region. Your meals will be packed with flavour. It is easy to see why India is the spice capital of the world.
In addition to India’s must see quiet achievers, here are a few travel tips from the Wendy Wu team
- Always travel with an open mind, and you should expect the unexpected!
- Indian people dress quite conservatively, so cover your shoulders and knees when out and about
- You will generally be walking around over uneven ground, so good walking shoes are essential. A pair of comfortable sandals that you can easily slip on and off at temple sites are also handy. A hat is essential to avoid sun burn
- You must try jalebi, a sweet, deep fried honey pastry (and young Saroo’s favourite treat in ‘Lion’)
India is a colourful and vibrant place, full of culture and contrast. In each direction you turn, you will meet with new awe-inspiring and also eye-opening experiences.
Subscribe to our blog above!
Blogs you may also be interested in:
Sign up for our free newsletter or request a brochure