Would you like to know the most emblematic places in India without missing a thing? From north to south, in this article we will discover what to see in India and what to do to live the best experiences.
India is a country of contrasts, which will not leave you indifferent. In the north you will find some of the most recognized cities, such as Delhi –the capital–, Agra, Benares, Jaipur, Madurai, & Jodhpur. Majestic Mumbai awaits in the center, and in the south, the beaches of Goa for the most relaxing part of the trip.
In this article we discover the essential things to see in India. This way you will get more out of your trip!
What to see in India: North India
If you are wondering what to see in India, you should know that in the north you will find great palaces, sacred lakes, mountains and ancient temples. Next we take you on a tour of the main points of North India.
Delhi, the capital of India
Delhi is the capital of India. It has more than 20 million inhabitants and is a frenetic city. In it you can see some of the most outstanding buildings in the country.
What to see in Delhi?
- India Gate: It was built between 1921 and 1931 in honor of the Hindu soldiers who died in the First World War.
- Red Fort: construction began in the 17th century and is reddish in color. Considered a World Heritage Site since 2007. It is made up of different buildings and gardens.
- Jama Masjid: The Jama Masjid Mosque is the largest and best known in India. It is the star place of worship for practitioners of the Islamic religion.
- Sikh Community Temple: It is a temple of worship for the Sikh community. Before it was the palace of Jai Singh. It is built of marble and has a large golden dome.
- Mahatma Ghandi Memorial: The memorial was built in black marble and represents a very important place of pilgrimage.
- Qutab Minar: The Qutab Minar tower is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is a 73-meter-high tower of various architectural styles with various engravings.
- Akshardham Temple: It is the largest Hindu temple in the world. Walking around it you will see gardens and fountains. It is a place where you can breathe peace, perfect for disconnecting from the fast pace of the city.
- Lotus Temple: It is a temple built in contemporary times. It is considered as a temple of worship for all kinds of people regardless of religion. It is in the shape of the Lotus flower.
- Humayun’s Tomb: It is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Actually there are several buildings and gardens that form a large complex.
What to do in Delhi?
A Rickshaw Ride
Rickshaws are vehicles that work like taxis, where 2-3 people can fit. You can tour the entire city riding a rickshaw. In Thailand they are called tuk-tuk.
Chandni Chowk Walking Tour & Market
It is one of the oldest markets in the city. It is divided into sections and each of them sells a specific type of product (electronics, clothing, jewelry, food, etc.). It is a very authentic market where you can learn about the daily life of the inhabitants of Delhi.
If you are wondering what to do in India to take the pulse of the city and get to know local life, we recommend a visit to the Chandni Chowk market.
Jaipur, The Pink City, Capital of Rajasthan
Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan. It is also known as the Pink City due to the color of many of the city’s buildings, which were painted like this in ancient times for the visit of the Prince of Wales.
What to see in Jaipur?
- Amber Fort: The Amber Fort is located about 11 km from the city of Jaipur and is one of the icons of the city and its surroundings. It was built in 1592 in sandstone and white marble.
- City Palace or the Maharaja’s Palace: It is the historical residence of the Maharajas, converted into a museum. There you can see sculptures, swords, daggers and various works of art.
- Jantar Mantar: It is an astronomical observatory that still works. It was built in 1728 by Maharaja Jai Singh II and since 2010 it is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
- Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds: it is a five-storey building of pink color, it is one of the best images of Jaipur. It has spectacular architecture and its facade is a characteristic pink color.
What to do in Jaipur?
Stroll through the bazaars
Chaura Rasta and Badi Chopar streets are two streets full of bazaars. There you can buy everything: sarees, slippers, perfumes, jewelry or fabrics at an affordable price.
In Jaipur is the Raj Mandir cinema, a place full of lamps and colors. There you can see Bollywood shows.
Elephants are animals worshiped by the people of Rajasthan. On the back of an elephant you can discover the corners of Jaipur as well as climb the Amber Fort.
Agra, Taj Mahal
Agra is one of the most visited places in India, as it is home to one of the most famous monuments in the world – the Taj Mahal, considered one of the seven wonders of the world. Agra is a city founded in the 16th century by the Mongol Empire. The city is located close (260 km) to another interesting city – Orchha.
What to see in Agra?
- Taj Mahal: If you are wondering what to see in India, it is clear that the Taj Mahal is a mandatory stop. It is one of the most visited buildings in the world and was named one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was built in the middle of the 17th century in white marble. It is surrounded by Islamic-style gardens.
- Agra Fort: This fort is also known as the Red Fort. It is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is the largest fort in India and was built in 1565. During your visit you will be able to visit pavilions, palaces, gardens and the mosque.
- Mother Teresa Orphanage House: unlike some majestic buildings that you will find in Agra, such as the Taj Mahal, you can also visit the orphanage that was promoted by Teresa of Calcutta. It is a humble place, where you can make a donation to the most disadvantaged.
- Itimad-ud-Daulah Mausoleum: known as “the little Taj” is considered a kind of sketch of the Taj Mahal. It was built between 1622 and 1628 in white marble. This building represented an evolution in Mongolian architecture, since at that time it was built with red sandstone.
What to do in Agra?
Watch the sunrise or sunset at the Taj Mahal
It is one of the best moments of the day to see the colors that blend with the Taj Mahal and enjoy that magical moment. Seeing the Taj Mahal in a different way is one of the best things to do in India.
Enjoy the theater show about the history of the Taj Mahal
At the Kalakriti Cultural & Convention Center you can enjoy a play on the history of the Taj Mahal in true Bollywood style. A good opportunity to learn more about the past of this iconic monument.
Visit the local Agra market
The Kinari Bazaar is one of the most emblematic markets of the city, near the Jama Masjid mosque. There you can buy clothes, shoes, spices or jewelry and discover the aromatic and colorful atmosphere of the country.
Horse Ride to the Taj Mahal
Another of the things to do in India is to take a walk in Tonga, it is a different activity that you can experience in Agra. The tonga are horse-drawn carriages that will take you to see every corner of the city, such as the Taj Mahal.
Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan
Jodhpur, also known as the Blue City or the City of the Sun, is the second largest city in the state of Rajasthan, founded in 1459.
What to see in Jodhpur?
- Mehrangarh Fort: It is a fortress located on a hill 125 meters high, built in 1459. From there you can see the best views of the city. Inside there is a museum with original collections from the Fort.
- Clock Tower: It is a monument known because it is a common meeting point for the inhabitants of Jodhpur. Nearby there is the famous Sardar Bazaar, ideal for shopping.
- Jaswant Thada Monument: Built by Maharaja Sardar Singh in honor of his father. In Jaswant Thada you will find three royal marble cenotaphs, gardens and a beautiful lake.
- Umaid Bhawan Palace – It is actually one of the most luxurious hotels in the city and also the residence of the former royal family of Jodhpur.
What to do in Jodhpur?
Visit the Sardar Bazaar
It is the largest and most popular market in the city, near the Clock Tower. There you can buy all kinds of products at a good price.
Take a walk through the Mandore Gardens
The gardens are about nine kilometers from the center. They are a good place to relax and discover monuments such as the Mandore fort.
Visit Bishnoi Village
Near by Jodhpur there are saveral Bishnoi village where you can explore daily activities and weaving work.
Benares (Varanasi) The most Ancient & Holy City
Varanasi is a very authentic city and for sure it will not leave you indifferent. We recommend including it in your list of things to see and do in India! It is a city bathed by the Ganges River and is full of sacred temples and ghats. In Benares you will be able to witness religious ceremonies very different from those we are used to, such as funeral pyres.
What to see in Varanasi?
The Ganges River: The Ganges River is the most famous icon of Varanasi; it is the sacred river for the inhabitants of the city. Multiple functions are performed in the river: washing clothes, bathing, depositing corpses or animals. It is for this reason that it is a highly polluted river that you can travel by boat but in which it is highly inadvisable to bathe.
The Ghats: The ghats are steps that lead to the Ganges river. There the locals wash their clothes, pray, practice yoga or carry out funeral pyres. In India, unlike in the West, these types of funeral activities are carried out in public.
Varanasi Hindu University: The architecture of the Varanasi Hindu University is Indo-Gothic. It is considered as one of the best universities in India. It has a university campus of more than 20,000 students.
What to do in Varanasi?
Ganga Ceremony at Ghat
An impressive Hindu ceremony of music, dance and fire is held at the Dasashwamedh ghat every day starting at 7:00 p.m. We recommend you attend this ceremony if you want to discover the most authentic India and something very different to do in India.
Sarnath is where Buddha first preached Buddhism and is a pilgrimage site today. The city of Sarnath has some gardens with the immense stupa of Dhamek.
On the same ghats you can see people meditating and you can also go to yoga classes at different places in the city. If you want to disconnect from the bustle of the city it is a good alternative.
Khajuraho, famous for its erotic sculptures
Khajuraho is a city known for its UNESCO World Heritage Hindu and Jain temples. It is a small city that is part of the Madhya Pradesh region. It has around 40,000 inhabitants.
What to see in Khajuraho?
- West Zone Temples: There are several temples that you must visit in the west zone, such as Varaha Temple, Lakhamana, Matangesvara, Nandi, Visvanatha, among others. They are temples dedicated to Hindu and Jain gods. The temples have become famous, in part, for the erotic sculptures on their walls. The western area is the area where the temples are best preserved.
- Temples in the eastern area: The temples in the eastern area are not that numerous, but you cannot miss the Parsvanatha, Adinath, Ghantai, Brahama and Vamana temples.
- Temples in the southern area: finally, in the southern area you can visit the Temple of Dulhaved, Beejamandal and Chattarbhuj.
What to do in Khajuraho?
Visit the Archaeological Museum
The museum will give you the overview of the temples and all their history, architecture and culture.
You can practice yoga and learn this discipline so common in this city. Khajuraho is a good place to disconnect from the bustle of the big cities.
Khajuraho Annual Dance Festival
In the months of February and March, the most important cultural event in the Khajuraho area takes place. It is a dance festival, which serves to promote the traditions of the area.
You can contribute your grain of sand at the Vidyamandir school where you can help and advise on changes and improvements for the future of the children.
Udaipur, the city of lakes
Udaipur is the city known as the City of Lakes. It has a natural beauty and a culture that will captivate you.
What to see in Udaipur?
- Udaipur Palace: It is the largest palace in Rajasthan, built in 1559. It stands out for its architecture and also for the panoramic views from the palace.
- Fateh Sagar Lake: The artificial lake of Fateh Sagar was ordered to be built by Maharaja Jai Singh and within it there are three islands where there is a Solar Observatory and the Nehru Garden. You will be able to reach the various islands by sailing across the lake.
- Lake Pichola: It is the soul of the city of Udaipur. It is also an artificial lake in which the inhabitants of the city bathe to purify themselves. It is recommended to visit it during sunset. Within the lake are two islands: Jag Niwas Island and Jag Mandir Island.
- Jag Mandir Palace: It is a palace built of yellow stone and white marble with an emblematic Islamic-style courtyard.
- Jagdish Temple: built in 1651, it is a temple well recognized by the Hindu community. There is a lot of life and movement in the temple throughout the day.
What to do in Udaipur?
Boating at Lake Pichhola & Visit Jag Mandir Island
Navigating next to the Palace of Udaipur is one of the pleasures that you can experience in this city. The Palace has now been converted into a luxurious hotel. When you get to him you can have a drink at his restaurant.
Folk Show at the Bagore Ki Haveli
The Bagore Ki Haveli is a palace where typical Rajasthani dances are performed. It is a very authentic experience to get to know the native dances.
Stroll through the Gulab Bagh
The Gulab Bagh is the largest garden in Rajasthan. The inhabitants of Udaipur come here to relax and unwind. If you feel like getting away from the bustle of the big cities of India, in this garden you will find peace and tranquility. In Udaipur there are several gardens that are worth visiting.
Ranakpur, the city of Jain temples
Ranakpur is a town located between Udaipur and Jodhpur. It is a city known for its temples. If you are wondering what to do in India and, more specifically, in Ranakpur, we will give you all the details below.
What to see in Ranakpur?
- Chaumukha Temple: It was built in the 15th century. It is known as the temple of the four faces, dedicated to Adinath. It has 29 rooms supported by 1444 finely sculpted columns one by one.
- Parshavanath and Neminath Temples: Also built and known for its white marble and perfectly carved columns.
- Sun Temple: it is a Hindu temple located on the outskirts of Ranakpur. It is dedicated to Surya, the god of the Sun. It is also built in white marble.
What to do in Ranakpur?
Horse & Jeep Safari
Strolling through the Ranakpur valley or the Kumbhalgrah wildlife sanctuary by jeep or horse is a perfect activity to see the place from a different perspective.
Pushkar, one of the oldest cities in Rajasthan
Pushkar is a holy and pilgrimage city. It is a quiet city and one of the oldest in Rajasthan. Known for its large lake, its 52 ghats and its Brahma temple.
What to see in Pushkar?
Lord Brahma’s Temple: Pushkar is one of the few cities with a temple dedicated to Brahma. You cannot enter the temple with shoes or with a camera. It is a temple that was built during the 14th century in marble and stone.
Savitri Temple: It is a temple dedicated to Goddess Savitri who is the first wife of Brahma. It is situated on top of a hill with stunning views.
What to do in Pushkar?
Walking Tour in Local Market and Village
If you are thinking of doing some shopping, a good option is to go to the Pushkar bazaars. There is a craft market where you can find bargains. And you can visit surrounding villages.
Pushkar Cattle Fair
This one of the largest cattle fair in India, it held on Nov (Kartik mas of Hindu). All over the people from Rajasthan come and sale & buy the camel and another animals.
Mandawa, The City of Havelies
The City of Havelies
Mandawa is a city in Rajasthan located 190 km from Jaipur. It is known for its Fort and its havelis, called open art gallery.
What to see in Mandawa?
- The havelis of the city: they are palace-houses that were formerly the residence of people of a very high social rank. Several havelis are currently preserved, some private and some can be visited.
- Mandawa Fort: It is a fort built during the 18th century by Thakur Nawal Singh. The fort dominates the entire city and has now become one of the main heritage elements of the city.
What to do in Mandawa?
- Stroll through the streets of Mandawa
- Get lost in the streets of Mandawa where you can see a display of animals and also locals selling fruit and vegetables. This will be the best way to get to know the most authentic Mandawa.
Bikaner, a city in the Thar desert
Bikaner is a city located in the Thar desert. It is known for its Rajput architecture and red sandstone buildings.
What to see in Bikaner?
- Junagarh Fort – It was built in the late 16th century by Raja Rai Singhji who was a Governor of Bikaner. Inside the fort you can visit all the rooms, gardens and paintings.
- Karni Mata Temple (Temple of Rats): famous for the more than 25,000 black rats that live inside and are revered. These sacred rats are called kabbas.
What to do in Bikaner?
Visit the camel study center
You will be able to visit and see a wide variety of camels that are in India. At the entrance there is a small museum full of figurines made from the bones of camels.
Jaisalmer, the golden city of India
Jaisalmer is also known as the Golden City. It is a city in the state of Rajasthan in which its fort stands out. It is located in the west of the state, just touching the border with Pakistan.
What to see in Jaisalmer?
The Fort was declared a World Heritage Site in 2013 and is the most important attraction in Jaisalmer. It is on top of the Trikuta hill, 80 meters high. Inside the fort you can see the Palace of the Maharajah and, with the ticket, an audio guide in Spanish is included to learn more about the history of the Fort.
What to do in Jaisalmer?
A camel trek to the Thar desert
There are two options to discover the Thar desert: a day trip or an overnight trip in the desert. On these excursions, apart from seeing the Thar desert, you will also be able to see the cenotaphs of Bada Bagh (a large garden in the desert), the Lodruva temple or the Sam or Khuri dunes.