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Top Attractions in India

The Taj Mahal, Agra

Despite the plethora of postcards and calendar images, nothing can prepare you for the architectural and awe-inspiring beauty of the Taj Mahal in Agra. An "elegy in marble" as some call it, the mausoleum immortalizes the love between Mughal king Shah Jahan and his wife, Mumtaz, for whom it was built.

Fatehpur Sikri, Agra

This former capital of the Mughal Empire was built by Emperor Akbar during the second half of the 16th century, though Akbar only lived here for about a decade. The red sandstone complex has elaborate palaces, beautiful courtyards, and a large mosque and is noted for its forward-thinking urban planning and blending of Indo-Islamic architecture.

Jama Masjid, Delhi

India's largest mosque is built of deep red sandstone and still manages to retain an aura of calm and beauty, despite the crowds covering it and the timeworn streets surrounding it.

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi

Ornate and yet calming, this complex of tombs in southern Delhi was a precursor to the Taj Mahal and is a stunning Mughal artifact in its own right.

Gateway of India, Mumbai

It might not be the most visually stunning monument you see in India, but the Gateway arch on Mumbai's waterfront is an undeniable focal point of the city: built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911, it has seen the coming and going of important personages and ordinary folk and continues to be a site of vibrant city life.

Ajanta and Ellora, Mumbai Side Trip

Dating back to 200 BC, the cave temples at Ajanta and Ellora are astounding for their intricate paintings and carvings. The Ajanta caves depict the life story of the Buddha, while the nearby Ellora caves feature Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain carvings. Both Ajanta and Ellora are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Taj Lake Palace (Jag Niwas), Udaipur

Rising out of Lake Pichola like a mirage, the Lake Palace is a real-life wonder. Now that it's a hotel, you'll need to get a room here to inspect the courts and fountains up close, but even if you admire it from afar, you'll still find it a memorable part of the scenery. Some of the best views are from the sprawling, equally stunning City Palace.

Fort, Jaisalmer

More than 5,000 people still live in this spectacular 12th-century citadel, which ascends strikingly out of Rajastan's Thar Desert. Inside is a network of temples, palaces, mansions, and tiny winding lanes.

Ghats (stairs), Varanasi

Varanasi is one of the world's holiest cities, but it's the mighty Ganges that draws so many Hindus (roughly 1 million annually) and other visitors and pilgrims. Spend time along the waterfront ghats (stairs) where pilgrims pray, chant, and bathe, and you will get a sense of the city's spirituality and sanctity.

Churches of Old Goa

The ultrabaroque 16th- and 17th-century churches of this Portuguese colony contain the final resting place of St. Francis Xavier, Goa's patron saint, and intricate chapels and carvings.

Updated: 03-2013

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