The tourism industry of India is considered to be among the top 20 out of all the countries in the world. India is a historical country with a vast and deep rooted culture and has seen the reign of various ancient and historical dynasties and kingdoms. Each dynasty and kingdom that ruled the land brought with them a distinctive style of arts, crafts and architecture. India is a home to a huge number of cultures which are strikingly distinctive from each other. The ancient and historical architecture in India has always been popular and attracts millions of tourists from all over the world each year. Here’s a list of the top 5, must-visit historical monuments in India.
1. Taj Mahal, Agra
Image Credits @ Ashutosh
The most famous and elusive of all the monuments in India, the Taj Mahal is one of the most brilliant pieces of Mughal style architecture in the world. Located in the city of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, the building is a mausoleum which was built in the memory of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s late wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is built entirely out of carved white marble and the craftsmanship of the various decorative murals and marble carvings is totally unparalleled. The structure is also a part of the 7 wonders of the world and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The Taj Mahal has been covered in various documentaries and books, which explain the details of its design and the story of how it was constructed. Built on the banks of the river Yamuna the white as pearl structure is a symmetrical marvel and is one of the top tourist attractions the country has to offer. Apart from Taj Mahal, there are a few other tourist attractions in Agra which should not be missed on your visit.
2. Gateway Of India, Mumbai
Image Credits @ DewDreams
The monument was built during the British Rule in India and is located in the economic capital of India, Mumbai. The building marks the arrival of the British Majesty King George V and Queen Mary, in December 1911 in India and the reason for the name of the structure. The construction however began in 1915 and the Royal Couple only saw a cardboard model of the structure upon their arrival. The massive gateway is located at the end of the Mumbai Harbor and was opened for public use on the 4th of December 1924 by the Earl of Reading the then viceroy of India. The architecture is a marvelous cross between the Roman arch designs and the architecture of Gujarat in the 16th century. The building is 25 meters in height and 48 feet in diameter and is build from yellow basalt and reinforced concrete. Gateway of India is surely the focal attraction of this city; but you can also checkout other places to visit in Mumbai if you want to get the true picture of this city’s history.
3. Red Fort, Delhi
Image Credits @ Aneta & Mark’s
Situated in the Capital city, Delhi, the Red Fort exemplifies the pinnacle of Mughal Style Architecture in India. The Fort’s design was a template that was used in building various other forts in the country and especially in the north Indian region. The fort was built by the Mughal Ruler Shah Jahan who wanted to move his capital to a more strategic location of Delhi. The Fort housed the Mughal Rulers for a period of 200 years and is a national symbol. The architecture is a cross between various styles of Hindu, Rajputana and Persian style of architecture and is built in Red Sandstone. Located by the river Yamuna, by which the moats around the castle were fed. Every year on the 15th of August, the Fort is used by the President of India to hoist the national flag to commemorate India’s Independence. Apart from Red Fort, there are many more historical places in Delhi.
4. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
Image Credits @ RussBowling
Considered to be the finest specimen of Rajputana style of Architecture, Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds is located in the city of Jaipur, Rajasthan. The city was the capital of the Majestic Kachwaha Rajputs and is also the capital of the state. The Hawa Mahal is a part of the Royal City Palace and formed the Zanana or the Women’s chambers. The design is inspired by the crown of the Hindu deity Lord Krishna and has an astonishing 953 small windows called ‘Jharokhas’ which are decorated with the most intricate latticework. The place was intended to be the viewing spot for the ladies of the royal family where they could view the world outside. The rooms are of various colored marble stones and the scientific design provides a natural air-conditioning effect in the structure keeping it effectively cool during high temperatures. Apart from Hawa Mahal, the famous forts such as Amer Fort, Nahargarh Fort etc. are among the top tourist destinations of Jaipur for its historical importance.
5. Fatehpur Sikri
Image Credits @ Dan Arif
The now abandoned town of Fatehpur Sikri was once a bustling and glorious capital of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and is considered to be the best preserved collection of monuments from the Mughal Era. The entire city is a larger than life monument built by the majestic emperor and the architectural prowess is simply brilliant. The massive Buland Darwaza is the gateway that welcomes you into this wonderful work of art. The various inscriptions on the monuments exemplify the religious tolerance during Akbar’s reign and the various buildings have distinctive influences of various Indian styles of architecture. The complex contains several buildings including mosques, tombs, assembly halls, living chambers of the Royal Family and is mostly built in red sandstone and concrete.
In a land where you can experience a new culture every few miles you cover, it is certainly a monolith task to make a list of the top monuments in the country. However, this is a humble attempt at compiling the best of the preserved architectural monuments in the culturally diverse land of India.
Rohit Agarwal is the owner of Trans India Travels and and an Architect by profession. Rohit is on a constant search for new places and enjoys exploring the architectural marvels of India and the world.