5 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in India

India is a vibrant land of startling contrasts where both the traditional and modern worlds meet. The world’s seventh largest nation by area and the second largest in terms of population, India boasts a rich heritage that’s the result of centuries of different cultures and religions leaving their mark. Things to do for travelers include the opportunity to experience an array of sacred sites and spiritual encounters, while nature lovers will enjoy its sun-washed beaches, lush national parks, and exciting wildlife sanctuaries. In this article we will tell you top five tourist attractions in India.

From the magnificent Taj Mahal in Agra to the holy sites of Harmandir Sahib (formerly the Golden Temple) in Amritsar and the Mecca Masjid mosque in Hyderabad, visitors to this exotic country will discover a trove of spiritual, cultural, and historical treasures.

To help you make the most of your time in this amazing country, refer often to our list of the top things to do in India.

Tourist Attractions in India

1. The Taj Mahal, Agra

Perhaps India’s most recognizable building, the Taj Mahal is also the world’s most famous testimony to the power of love. Named after Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite wife of Emperor Shah Jahan, this most beautiful of mausoleums was begun upon her death in 1631 and took 20,000 workmen until 1648 to complete.

Incorporating many elements of Islamic design including arches, minarets, an onion-shaped dome, and black calligraphy inlaid around the entrance, the Taj Mahal is largely constructed of white marble decorated with delicate inlaid floral patterns and precious and semi-precious stones such as jade, lapis lazuli, diamonds, and mother of pearl.

The best time to visit is either at dawn or dusk when the atmosphere is brilliantly altered by the change in lighting. If possible, try to catch a view of the Taj Mahal’s reflection from the far bank of the Yamuna River-it makes for a memorable (and safe) selfie.

Address: 64 Taj Road, Agra-282001

2. The Holy City of Varanasi

A major pilgrimage center for Hindus, the holy city of Varanasi has long been associated with the mighty Ganges River, one of the faith’s most important religious symbols. Dating back to the 8th century BC, Varanasi is one of the oldest still inhabited cities in the world.

It offers many reasons to visit, not least of them the chance to explore the Old Quarter adjacent to the Ganges where you’ll find the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, built in 1780 (the New Vishwanath Temple with its seven separate temples is also of interest).

Bathing in the Ganges is of great importance to Hindus, and numerous locations known as “ghats” feature stairways leading to the water where the faithful bathe before prayers.

All told, Varanasi boasts more than 100 ghats, the largest being Dasashvamedh Ghat and Assi Ghat (the latter, at the confluence of the Ganges and Asi rivers, is considered particularly holy). Also worth seeing is Banaras Hindu University, established in 1917 and noted for its massive library with more than a million books, and the superb Bharat Kala Bhavan museum featuring fine collections of miniature paintings, sculptures, palm-leaf manuscripts, and local history exhibits.

3. Harmandir Sahib: The Golden Temple of Amritsar

Founded in 1577 by Ram Das, Amritsar is an important hub of Sikh history and culture. The main attraction here is Harmandir Sahib, opened in 1604 and still often referred to as the Golden Temple for its beautiful gold decoration. The holiest of India’s many Sikh shrines (it also attracts many Hindus and people of other faiths), the temple was built in a blend of Hindu and Islamic styles, its lower marble section featuring such flourishes as ornate inlaid floral and animal motifs, while the large golden dome represents a lotus flower, a symbol of purity to Sikhs.

In addition to its splendid design, visitors are equally impressed with the temple’s spiritual atmosphere, an effect enhanced by the prayers continuously chanted from the Sikh holy book and broadcast throughout the complex. Part of the overall experience-and visitors are welcome to participate-is the chance to enjoy one of the 50,000 free meals the attraction serves up to visitors each and every day. This is one of the top tourist attractions in India.

Address: Golden Temple Road, Amritsar, Punjab 143006

4. The Golden City: Jaisalmer

So named for the yellow sandstone used in most of its buildings, the Golden City of Jaisalmer is an oasis of splendid old architecture that rises from the sand dunes of the Thar Desert. Once a strategic outpost, today the city is filled with splendid old mansions, magnificent gateways, and the massive Jaisalmer Fort-also known as the Golden Fort-a daunting 12th-century structure that rises high above the town.

In addition to its palaces, temples, and fine old homes, the fortress boasts 99 bastions along with massive gates leading to its main courtyard where you’ll find the seven-story-tall Maharaja’s Palace. Started in the early 1500s and added to by successive rulers right up until the 19th century, the palace offers sections open to the public including areas beautifully decorated with tiles from Italy and China, and intricately carved stone doors, as well as a number of Jain temples dating from the 12th to 16th centuries, each decorated with fine marble and sandstone images, palm-leaf manuscripts, and brightly painted ceilings.

Be sure to also check out the well-preserved 1,000-year-old library, Gyan Bhandar, with its many 16th-century manuscripts and antiquities.

5. The Red Fort, New Delhi

Built by Shah Jahan in 1648 as the seat of Mughal power-a role it maintained until 1857-the magnificent crescent-shaped Red Fort in New Delhi, named after the stunning red sandstone used in its construction, covers a vast area of more than two square kilometers, all of it surrounded by a large moat. Highlights include its two largest gates: the impressive Lahore Gate (the fort’s main entrance) and the elaborately decorated Delhi Gate, once used by the emperor for ceremonial processions.

A fun part of a visit is exploring Chatta Chowk, a 17th-century covered bazaar selling everything from jewelry to silk garments, as well as souvenirs and food items. While you can explore the fort yourself, guided tours are offered and provide a fascinating insight into the life and times of the Shah, including a peek into the stunning white marble Hall of Public Audiences (Diwan-i-Am) where he received his subjects.

Hot Tip: Try to stick around for the sound and light show held each evening featuring important events in the fort’s history.

Address: Netaji Subhash Marg, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006

Let me know if you knew the top five tourist attractions in India or if you were completely surprised with this list.

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Getting Travel Hungry? Check Out These Virtual Tours of Some Amazing Landmarks around the World

Not being able to travel is one of the worst things that can happen to some people. However, being stuck at home, or simply in one part of the world, for long periods of time doesn’t mean you need to miss out on all the incredible sights this world has to offer! Instead of only dreaming of when you can travel again, I recommend that you take a virtual tour of some of the best landmarks around the world.

Check Out These Virtual Tours of Some Amazing Landmarks around the World

1. Taj Mahal

As you probably know, the Taj Mahal is over in India and this gorgeous sight was constructed during the 17th century for the Emperor’s late wife. While the Taj Mahal is best seen in person, you will still find yourself breathless with all the intricate details you are seeing online.

The Taj Mahal in India.
The Taj Mahal in India.

2. Ellis Island

The only way to see Ellis Island in person is to take a ferry out during a tour of the island and the Statue of Liberty. This island is where immigrants arrived from 1892 and 1954 to start a new life in the United States. This virtual tour will allow you to see where these immigrants spent their time shortly after they arrived and all the history that was made since then.

Virtual tour of Ellis Island & Downtown Manhattan, New York.
Ellis Island & Downtown Manhattan, New York.

3. Palace of Versailles

There are many castles and palaces around the world, but this is one of the best in the country of France. The elegant building is matched with picture perfect grounds and you can see it all during this tour. Pay close attention to the highlights of this tour, which includes the Coronation Chamber, Royal Chapel, and the Hall of Mirrors.

VERSAILLES, FRANCE - The Royal Palace in Versailles.
VERSAILLES, FRANCE – The Royal Palace in Versailles.

4. The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China has been in place for more than two thousand years now and continues along three thousand miles of land. While you can see it while visiting many different areas of China, this virtual tour will have you seeing it during a hike from Jinshanling to Simatai.

The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China

5. Acropolis

The Acropolis has been part of Greek history for so many years now and while it has been restored wonderfully, it is still showing its age. If you have never seen this magnificent attraction in person, you must take a virtual tour to see why you must add it to your list when you start to travel once again.

The Acropolis of Athens, Greece virtual tour
The Acropolis of Athens, Greece, with the Parthenon Temple on top of the hill during a summer sunset. Greece is currently open to American tourists.

These are only some of the landmarks around the world that you can take a virtual tour of. A little research will have you finding more, so make sure you share your favorites with me in the comments!