International Travel

Basmah Qazi

Hidden gems in India you must visit once in your lifetime

With its rich history, and geographical and cultural diversity, India is a sight to behold. Plenty of curious, hungry travellers fulfil their appetite for adventure in the South Asian country as they immerse themselves in the beautiful array of architecture dating back to the Mughal Empire and surround themselves with the illustrious scenery of mountain tops and caves.

With its immense population of 1.3 billion, India remains one of the most ethnically diverse countries around the world. Home to over a dozen major and minor linguistic groups, the country’s beauty lies within the multiculturalism of its people.

Colour, music and spirituality are just a few of the plethora of experiences India has to offer, and with every corner of the land providing a different array of wonder, India is a place that you must visit at least once in your lifetime.

Whether you choose to live like a local and experience the authenticity of the country through the markets and rikshaw rides, or prefer to explore the historical regions of each city like a true traveller, there is something for everyone in the subcontinent.

Scroll through the gallery above to witness some of the many beautiful sights India has to hold.

Here is what makes the country of India so special.

1. Taj Mahal, Agra

As a traveller, you cannot visit India without witnessing the sheer brilliance of the Taj Mahal. Located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, this UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to 1653. The history behind it is even more magnificent, as the ivory-white marble mausoleum is a symbol of one of the greatest love stories ever told.

Translating to the “Crown of the Palaces”, the Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died while giving birth to their 14th child. The extravagant structure holds the tomb for both Shah Jahan and his wife, and was designed by architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. Costing close to 32 million rupees during the time of its completion, or AU$1.2 billion in today’s currency, the project is the masterpiece of close to 20,000 artisans. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, it was called “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”. In today’s era, the structure is considered to be the finest example of Mughal architecture and has become the forefront of India’s ancient history.

2. Red Fort, Delhi

Located in the capital city of Delhi, the Red Fort is a historic monument dating back to 1648. The palace was home to the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for close to 200 years, until 1856. The Fort, or more traditionally known as Lal Qal’ah, is a work of art consisting of four enormous red sandstone walls, which stand 23 metres high. The location is home to entertainment halls, projecting balconies, intricate gardens and an ornate mosque.

While the monument was originally built under Islamic customs, a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions are all reflected throughout the craftmanship and architectural work of the building. The palace holds a cultural significance for the people of India, with the Prime Minister hoisting the Indian “tricolour flag” at the main gate every year on the country’s Independence Day (15 August).

Classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, the elaborate ancient wonder tells the story of the Mughal Empire and the subsequent British invasion in 1857. Lal Qal’ah was the site where the British put the last Mughal emperor on trial before exiling him to Yangon in 1858.

3. Vagator Beach, Goa

So, you’ve read about two of the many glorious structures India has to offer, but it doesn’t just end there, as the country is home to plenty of tropical beaches that attract multiple tourists each year.

Vagator Beach in Goa is considered to be one of the most photographed beaches in the region, with its bright blue seascape and warm sand beneath your feet, the location isn’t anything short of paradise.

As dramatic red cliffs provide panoramic views of the seashore, the area is the perfect opportunity to experience India like a local. With flea markets being held every Saturday and Sunday, and an abundance of authentic Indian cuisine options to choose from, it’s not hard to see why the tropical setting is a favourite amongst tourists.

Be sure to brush up on your bargaining skills before hitching a ride to the markets as you may end up receiving a discount of 50 per cent or more off the quoted price.

4. Adalaj Step Well, Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad, or otherwise known as Amdavad, is a modern city with historical roots, as it holds a rich legacy of fallen empires. Located in the region of Gujarat, the busy capital is a stark difference to the towns of Australia, with densely populated suburbs and the honking of cars every way you turn.

But that’s the beauty of the century-old metropolis, as you dig deeper you uncover the beauty it truly holds. Unbelievable architecture, 100-year-old mosques and contemporary buildings are all located within the confines of the busy city.

Combined with museums, top-rated restaurants and the hustle and bustle of India’s street-food scene, Ahmedabad should be at the top of your list when visiting the country.

Located 19 kilometres north of the city is the Adalaj Vav Step Well and is considered to be one of the finest Gujarati step wells to exist, simply due to its exquisite craftmanship. Similar to other monuments around the country, the structure was built by a royal, this time it was Queen Rudabai in 1498. Featuring three entrances and 16 pillars, the five-storey-deep octagonal well is embellished with intricate carvings, each telling a story throughout time.

Now that the sheer brilliance of India is calling your name, be sure to pay a visit and experience first-hand how ancient history and remarkable scenery come alive throughout the Asian subcontinent.

Scroll through the gallery above to witness some of the many beautiful sights India has to hold.

This is sponsored content brought to you in conjunction with India Tourism.