India as a travel destination has a lot to offer. Be it wildlife sanctuaries or adventure sports or a glimpse of history. We have it all!
Move over history books; take lessons of history from the very places that have been witness to them…
Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh: One of the most famous structures in India and almost synonymous with the country, the Taj Mahal by the banks of Yamuna reminds visitors of the country’s rich Mughal history. Built by emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal in 1630 AD, the marble monument is a must-see for everyone, at least for its architectural aspect – it took 22 years and 20,000 workers to build it.
Located in Agra which is at a distance of 204 km from Delhi, makes it easier for you to cover at historical sites at the national capital as well like the Qutb Minar, Red Fort, India Gate, Jantar Mantar, Safdarjung's Tomb, Tughluqabad Fort and Humayun’ Tomb.
Nalanda University, Bihar: Considered the oldest university, it is situated in Nalanda, Bihar. This “ancient seat of learning” has been in existence since 5th century BC and up until the 12th century. Founded during the reign of the Gupta emperor Kumaragupta, Buddha and Mahavira are some of its visitors and the Chinese philosopher, Xuanzang was a student and later became a teacher. Now only its ruins are left for us to see: lecture halls, dormitories, gardens, stone images of the Buddha and stupas.
Hampi, Karnataka: Located in northern Karnataka, and the once capital of Vijayanagar empire, Hmapi is now a quaint village with ruins and centuries of history as it’s claim to fame. The ruins date back to 14th century, with more than 500 monuments along the 25-km-stretch. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, some of its famous sites are: Virupaksha Temple, Hampi Bazaar, Monolith Bull, the famous stone chariot at Vithala Temple, Royal Enclosures, Queen's Bath, Zanana Enclosure with the Lotus Mahal and more.
Ajanta-Ellora caves, Maharashtra: These cave monuments date back to the second century BC and sixth century AD. Located at a distance of 30 km from Aurangabad, Maharashtra, these caves are famous for their murals and carvings. While caves at Ajanta are mostly Buddhist (featuring stories from the Jatakas tales of the several incarnations of the Buddha), the ones at Ellora are have a mix of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain influence. These caves remained undiscovered for many centuries until John Smith, a British Army Officer, accidentally stumbled upon them in 1819. Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu: This sea-side town in Tamil Nadu, was established as a sea port during the 7th and 10th centuries of the Pallava dynasty. Also an UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is home to some of the most beautiful rock structures like the five chariot-shaped temples (Pancha Rathas), the shore temple, carved depictions of episodes from the Mahabharata and several rock pavillions, all mostly built during the reigns of Narasimhavarman and his successor Rajasimhavarman. Now it’s a popular tourist destination not just for its history but also for its cultural inclinations – Mamallapuram Dance Festival – is an annual affair that attracts artist from all over the country.
Planning to go wild this vacation? Then here are some indigenous options to give you a better peek of the life beyond the urban jungle…
Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan
What to see: Tiger, leopard, nilgai, dhole, wild boar, sambar, hyena, sloth bear, chital and a variety of birds and reptiles too.
What to do: Safari rides either on a gypsy or open-top canter. Each ride last up to three hours and costs around Rs. 400-500 per person.
Nearest town: Sawai Madhopur (11 km)
Nearest railway station: Sawai Madhopur station
Nearest airport: Jaipur (145 km)
Periyar National Park, Kerala
What to see: Tigers, elephants, gaur, sambar, barking deer, mouse deer, Indian wild dogs, foxes, leopards, Nilgiri tahr, lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri Langur, the Bonnet Macaque, darters, cormorants, kingfishers, the great Malabar hornbill, racket-tailed, Monitor lizards and different species of snakes.
What to do: Boat cruises. Though you may not be able to spot them all, it is a good way to get an overall view of the park.
Nearest town: Kumily (4 km), Madurai (140 km)
Nearest railway station: Kottayam (114 km)
Nearest airport: Kochi (200 km) or Madurai (140 km)
Corbett National Park, Uttarakand
What to see: Himalayan black bears, yellow throated martens, Himalayan palm civets, Indian gray mongooses, porcupines, elephants, cormorants, egrets, herons, darters and reptiles like crocodile, gaharal, turtles, Indian python and king cobra.
What to do: Drive around in your own cars or hire private vehicles. Day-tour conducted by the park on a safari bus. Elephant safari, and fishing and angling activities are also options.
Nearest town: Ramnagar
Nearest railway station: Ramnagar (29 km)
Nearest airport: Dehradun (130 km) or Delhi (215 km)
Kaziranga National Park, Assam
What to see: Famous for being home to the Great Indian One Horned Rhinoceros, you can also spot Wild Asiatic Water Buffalo, Eastern Swamp Deer, elephants, gaur, sambar and the Indian Muntjac. Also identified by Birdlife International as an Important Bird Area.
What to do: Guided tours by elephant or jeep, trekking and river cruise along Brahmaputra. With Shillong, Guwahati and Cherrapunjee being just a drive away you can include visits to these cities as well in your itenary.
Nearest town: Bokakhat (23 km)
Nearest railway station: Furkating (75 km)
Nearest airport: Jorhat Airport at Rowriah (97 km)
If you are raring to feel the adrenaline rush and make the most of your vacation
outdoors, then here are some exciting options for the adventure enthusiasts:
Popular adventure holiday destinations:
Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Andaman and Nicobar islands, Dandeli, Karnataka, Leh Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Darjeeling, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Kovalam, Kerala
Activities you can indulge in:
Trekking, Snorkelling and Diving,Skiing, Mountaineering, Backwaters, River Rafting, Safaris, Polo, Water Sports, Paragliding, Aero Sports, Mountain Biking