Gorgeous Places in India That Have to Be Seen to Be Believed.
If ever we were challenged to name a country more diverse than India, we’d have a tough time. Few places, if any, rival the sheer amount of traditions, cuisines, landscapes, and religions found within India’s borders, from the high Himalayas in the north to the desert sands of the west to the palm tree-fringed rivers and islands of the south. Here are awe-inspiring destinations that showcase the beauty and wonder of this vast, complex, and spiritual country.
One simply cannot talk about India’s beauty without mentioning its most iconic piece of art—the ethereal Taj Mahal. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built this marble mausoleum in the 1600s as a monument of “undying love” in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal; they are both buried here. The tomb’s imposing ivory-white façade, a feat of Mughal architecture and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracts upwards of 8 million visitors a year.
Rajasthan’s desert capital is affectionately known as the “Pink City” due to the pink walls of its fortresses and palaces, though that wasn’t always the case. In preparation for the visit of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria in 1876, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the entire city pink—the colour representing hospitality—in preparation. Residents continue the tradition. One cannot pass through without paying a visit to the 16th-century hilltop Amber Fort, the City Palace, or the red sandstone Hawa Mahal—also known as the Palace of the Winds—whose window-filled high wall allowed royal females to watch the street below unseen.
Chand Baori, Abhaneri
The village of Abhaneri, outside Jaipur, is not on every tourist’s map—which makes what lies inside truly a hidden gem. This is the home of Chand Baori, a 1,200-year-old, four-sided stepwell whose 13 stories of 3,400 symmetrical terraced steps pack a visual punch.
Nubra Valley, Ladakh
Perched 10,000 feet above sea level in remote Ladakh, what you’ll find here will take your breath away. Nubra’s lunar-like landscape is the result of little to no precipitation, so lack of vegetation leaves the spotlight entirely on its glaciated mountain peaks, desolate hinterlands, and a smattering of ancient Buddhist monasteries and tiny settlements built up along the roadside strung with prayer flags. A single “motorable road” carves its way through the valley. Our more preferred mode of transportation? Bactrian camel!
Dal Lake, Kashmir
“The jewel in the crown of Kashmir,” as you might now guess, is the place to see in Kashmir valley. At Dal Lake, the tuk-tuk life of India’s frenetic cities is traded for slow cruises along the water in traditional wooden shikaras (similar to a canoe). Fishermen use these to paddle their way to and from ornate houseboats lining the shore and the lake’s famous floating market to peddle just-picked fruit and vegetables or flowers. Another landmark is the Shalimar Bagh, on the lake’s right bank, which is lauded as the finest Mughal garden in all of India.