India Travel

Top 8 Highlights of North India

The northern part of India is like it’s crown. Filled with forts, monuments and palaces, North India speaks volumes about the imperial past of our beautiful country. Foreign tourists love to visit North India because of this old-fashioned charm that it holds. There is so much to see in North India that tourists often get confused. Therefore, I am going to list down the top 10 highlights of North India which should be first on your list.

1. India Gate, New Delhi

India Gate lit up at night
India Gate lit up at night. Photo by Bijoy Mohan.

India Gate is the legendary war memorial of India. The mighty archway was built by the then Viceroy of India, and that is why it resembles the memorial in France.

The monument was erected to commemorate all the Indian soldiers who had given up their life during the Indo-Pakistan war. It was also in memory of the soldiers who fought during World War 1 with the British army.

Another memorial, “Amar Jawan Jyoti” translating to the eternal burning flame of the brave, was built later by Indira Gandhi, the first female Prime Minister of India. The flame burns day and night in memory of all the brave souls who didn’t think twice before sacrificing themselves for the country. It is surrounded by vast areas of lush greenery, and you can often spot people having picnics there.

If you visit Delhi in summer, make sure to come by here in the evening because there will be plenty of people and lights adorn the place.

Also, some people say that if you look at the monument closely, you can see the soldiers’ names etched on it. Well, I guess you will have to visit it yourself to find out!

2. Qutub Minar, New Delhi

Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar. Photo by Stephan Rudiger.

Situated near Mehrauli, it was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The site is flooded by tourists daily. It is believed that it was built in 1193 by Qutab-Ud-din Aibak after he defeated the last Hindu king and established Mughal empire here.

The monument stands vertically and is a gigantic 73 m high!

Close to that is the Iron Pillar which is one of the most mysterious cases in the world! It is said that when archaeologists traced the time at which the pillar could have been built, they found out that this element was not even discovered back then! So now when you visit Qutub Minar, walk that little distance to the pillar as well because now you know that it’s not just another ordinary one!

3. Red Fort, Old Delhi

Red Fort
Red Fort. Photo by Partha. S. Sahana.

Red Fort is undoubtedly the most important place to visit in Delhi. The Mughal emperor, Shahjahan built it in the 17th century when he shifted his capital from Agra to Delhi.

The fort is made of red sandstone, and it looks very remarkable. It contains marble monuments, tombs and museums within it. Initially, it acted as a fortress for Shahjahan’s palace, and later it was confiscated by the British. They destroyed many of the beautiful marble structures here during the Independence mutiny. Today, it is the greatest symbol of power for India.

The fort is near the Chandni Chowk metro station, and there is a small entry fee. Once inside, you can even ask for an audio guide which you can listen to personally while strolling through the place. Red Fort should be first on your to-do list here.

4. Taj Mahal, Agra

The incredible Taj Mahal
The incredible Taj Mahal. Photo by TausP.

Taj Mahal is a representation of India in the international sphere. It is one of the seven wonders of the world. It is indeed a miracle. This mighty monument made of white marble stones is an eternal symbol of love.

The story goes on that out of all his wives, Shahjahan loved Mumtaz the most. Her untimely death came as a shock to the king, and he wanted to immortalise his love for her by building a beautiful tomb.

He wanted himself to be buried next to her, and his wish was granted. Only the replicas of their tombs are shown to the tourists within the monument. The original ones are in an underground chamber.

The lane to the Taj Mahal is lined by beautiful trees, and in the middle, a long marble water tank adorns the way. Honestly, seeing Taj Mahal for the first time is a memorable experience. The interiors of the Taj Mahal are studded with mirrors and gems that value in millions.

The monument remains closed on Fridays.

5. Golden Temple, Amritsar

Golden Temple at night
Golden Temple at night. Photo by Arian Zwegers.

The Golden Temple in Punjab is a Gurudwara or a religious place of the Sikhs. The entire Gurudwara is built of gold, and it is splendid to see. There is a beautiful pool or “Sarovar” with nice fish inside the compound of the temple.

Sikhs believe in the ideology of courage, humanity and brotherhood. They try to resist the idea of division based on religion. As such, people of all faith, irrespective of anything, are allowed in the temple. Free langar or feast is given all day and night to anyone who comes there. People can also sleep in the Gurudwara if they wish to as there are accommodation nearby. For more temples, check out The Most Majestic Temples in India.

6. Amber Fort, Jaipur

Amber Fort
Amber Fort. Photo by Honza Soukup.

The number one thing that you have to keep in mind while visiting Amber Fort is to always take a good guide with you. Trust me; a guide can tell you more than internet and books put together. Also, even though it’s your personal choice, try to avoid the elephant ride which is available there because it does seem like cruelty to animals.

Amber Fort was built in 967 CE. Located 12 km from Jaipur, thousands of tourists visit the fort every day. It is situated next to Maota lake from where it gets its regular water supply. The palace is more than huge if there is even a word for it. It is divided into four parts, and in addition to that, there is an entrance gate and a big courtyard.

There is a Sun Gate and a Moon Gate in there. Large archways and exceptional architecture make this fort stand out from all others. The walls are carved with intricate designs, and some walls even have mirrors studded to them. You will also see applications of many ancient scientific methods used in its rooms that will make you stand in awe. Check out Top 6 Oldest Forts in India if you would like to visit more forts.

7. Jagdish Temple, Udaipur

Jagdish Temple
Jagdish Temple. Photo by Felip Gordillo.

This vast and resplendent temple was built in 1651 by the king who ruled Udaipur during that period. The temple is a hotspot for tourists. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

It is assumed that at the time of construction, 1.5 million rupees were spent. And sure enough, the temple is worth every penny. Its large marble stairs, huge pillars, massive stone statues and designed ceilings and walls make it an ideal place of worship and a perfect location for you to marvel at the skilled craftsmanship of ancient India. It is in the City Palace complex of Udaipur.

8. Saheliyon Ki Bari, Udaipur

Saheliyon Ki Bari translates to “Garden of the Maids”. The story behind this name is fascinating. King Sangram Singh had gifted this garden to his queen in the 18th century. The queen had brought along 48 maids with her during the marriage. The king, therefore, wanted them to have a place where they could spend leisure time without being disturbed by the political talks in the palace.

Located near Fateh Singh Lake, the garden is a treat to the eyes. It is like an oasis in the dry lands of Rajasthan. Beautiful fountains, a large number of trees, flowerbeds and marble statues make this place a must-visit for everyone.

By Merlin Chacko

Currently studying English Literature at Delhi University. Obsessed with Harry Potter and NOT Shakespeare. I believe that nothing nourishes the soul like books and travelling. Constantly amazed by the Indian culture and its history. Personally feel that the old forts and ruined palaces in India are almost magical.

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