Delhi, India’s capital territory, is a massive metropolitan area in the country’s north. In Old Delhi, a neighborhood dating to the 1600s, stands the imposing Mughal-era Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the sprawling Jama Masjid mosque, whose courtyard accommodates 25,000 people. Nearby is Chandni Chowk, a vibrant bazaar filled with food carts, sweets shops, wholesale clothes, handicrafts, jewellery and spice stalls. The more modern counterpart of the capital, New Delhi, has the iconic Qutab Minar, India Gate and awe-inspiring structures like the Indian Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhawan or the President’s residence.
The city of Palaces and Forts, interspersed with historical monuments and gardens that testify the grandeur of the Rajput Kings, Jaipur is the gateway to the royal heritage of India. Also called Pink City, the capital of Rajasthan, remains suspended in time, with its heritage preserved in the overwhelming Hawa Mahal that gazes down at the bustling streets. At the center of its stately street grid (notable in India) stands the opulent, colonnaded City Palace complex. With gardens, courtyards and museums, part of it is still a royal residence.
One of the oldest living inhabitations of the world, the sacred city of Varanasi, nestled on the banks of the holy Ganges river, has been attracting pilgrims for centuries. It is described as the city “older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend” by Mark Twain who visited in 19th century. Varanasi is among the seven sacred cities in the country. Centuries of history, art and tradition have added colourful layers to Varanasi’s aura, which is most spectacularly evident at its ghats (stepped banks of a river). From the famous Ganga arti (a fire ritual) to cremation ceremonies, the ghats are the site for rituals that are performed to this day. It is also believed that those cremated here achieve moksha (salvation).
With blue painted houses and guarded by the marvellous Mehrangarh Fort, the city of Jodhpur situated in the Thar desert, the second-largest in Rajasthan, is an architectural marvel. To experience the soul of the city, head to its bustling bazaars that offer a selection of Pichwai paintings, Jodhpuri pants or breeches, exquisite bandini or bandhej (tie and dye) clothes, beautiful badla embroidered lehengas or antiques. As you explore further, Jodhpur charms you with its rich royal legacy like the opulent Umaid Bhawan Palace, the majestic Jaswant Thada and the scenic Mandore Gardens, all of which were built by the city’s erstwhile rulers.
If stones could speak, the Khajuraho temples would create melodies! It is famous for its ancient temples that depict some of the finest art in the world. These temples are famous for their stunning intricate sculptures depicting different aspects of life: meditation, spiritual teachings, kinship, wrestling, royalty and most significantly, erotic art. The temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site in India. Based on their geographical location, the temples are categorised into three groups: Eastern, Western and Southern. Beautiful, intricate and expressive, the sculptures of the Khajuraho temples will leave you in awe and wonder.
The Golden Temple Amritsar India (Sri Harimandir Sahib Amritsar) is not only a central religious place of the Sikhs, but also a symbol of human brotherhood and equality.
Everybody, irrespective of cast, creed or race can seek spiritual solace and religious fulfilment without any hindrance. It also represents the distinct identity, glory and heritage of the Sikhs. It is the holiest Gurdwara and the most sacred site of Sikhism.
Situated on the south-west coast of India, Kochi or Cochin is a bustling port city of Kerala with a trading history dating back to 600 years. A charming seaside area, Fort Kochi is known for its Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonial architecture and elaborate bamboo fishing nets. St. Francis Church was the original burial site of explorer Vasco da Gama. Upscale eateries and chic cafes serve Keralan specialties and quaint shops sell cotton clothing and handmade souvenirs. Guests visiting Fort Kochi or even Kerala rarely miss the iconic Chinese nets considered to be a cultural stamp of Kochi.
Ancient temples, vibrant arts and a bustling culinary scene makes Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, one of the most popular city in South India. Located on the Coromandel Coast, this busy city was formerly called Madras. From the dazzling classical dance form of bharatnatyam to the rich flavours of its exemplary cuisine and from the brilliant silk sarees traded here to the gorgeous temples and churches, Chennai is the gatekeeper of South Indian art, culture and traditions.
Mumbai (formerly called Bombay) is located by the Arabian Sea, a city which is an amalgamation of heritage & culture and glitz & glamour. A financial center, it’s India’s largest city. On the Mumbai Harbour waterfront stands the iconic Gateway of India stone arch, built by the British Raj in 1924. Offshore, nearby Elephanta Island holds ancient cave temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The city’s also famous as the heart of the Bollywood film industry. So from historic art deco buildings, which are recognised by the UNESCO, to plush new-age homes of the super rich, Mumbai has it all!
One of the oldest living cities, Madurai, holds the soul of Tamil Nadu in its magnificent and grand temples that are among the finest and most awe-inspiring specimens of architecture in the country. Meenakshi Temple is one of the oldest and most important temples in India. The temple has a great mythological and historical significance. Renowned for its astonishing architecture, Meenakshi Temple was nominated as one of the wonders of the world, but couldn’t make it into the list of ‘Seven Wonders of the World’. However, the temple is definitely one of the ‘Wonders of India’. It is also one of the main attractions of India.
Hampi the pilgrimage centre of the Hindu religion, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Karnataka. It’s dotted with numerous ruined temple complexes from the Vijayanagara Empire. On the south bank of the River Tungabhadra is the 7th-century Hindu Virupaksha Temple. A carved stone chariot stands in front of the huge Vittala Temple site. Southeast of Hampi, Daroji Bear Sanctuary is home to the Indian sloth bear.
Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) holds culture and tradition close to its heart. It would give any Indian metro city a run for its money with its grand structures, bustling markets, vibrant culinary scene, exquisite crafts, cultural sites and festivals, its historical legacy reigns supreme. Once the capital of British-India, Kolkata’s colonial charm blends with its modern culture. It’s also home to Mother House, headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa, whose tomb is on site.
Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom on the Himalayas’ eastern edge, is known for its monasteries, fortresses and landscapes that range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys. Taktsang Monastery, famously known as Tiger Nest Monastery, clings above the forested Paro Valley is located in Paro, Bhutan. The monastery is one of the most venerated places of pilgrimage in the Himalayan Kingdom.
Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, is set in a valley surrounded by the Himalayan mountains. At the heart of the old city’s mazelike alleys is Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of three squares within Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. Durbar Square is an important site for Buddhist and Hindu rituals, holy ceremonies, royal events, and kingly coronations. All 3 squares of Kathmandu Valley – Durbar Square, Bhaktapur & Patan are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Nepal has 10 World Heritage Sites including the most sacred Hindu Temple – Pashupatinath Temple, Buddhist temple – Swayambhunath & Tibetan Temple – Boudhanath.
Sri Lanka continues to emerge as one of the world’s best destinations with many UNESCO Heritage Sites, beaches for the honeymooners, wildlife parks, adventure activities, wellness resorts, festivals and hilly resorts bottled up in ONE Country, you name it & it has it all ! The Rock or Cave Temple of Dambulla also known as the Golden Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated in central part of the country.