While daydreaming about your big trip to India, you might be picturing the Taj Mahal at sunset – which is stunning – but it’s only one of many India landmarks that are breathtaking. Considering most travelers don’t have a lot of time here in India, I wanted to sum up the 10 most beautiful, epic, well-known India landmarks that you will want to consider building your itinerary around.
If you’re planning your big trip to India and want all the inside secrets, check out my India Guide ebook, which is on sale here.
10 Indian Landmarks to Build Your Itinerary Around
1. Taj Mahal, Agra
Of course, the Taj will be first on the list! The Taj is obviously the most famous monument in India and other than the Eiffel Tower, maybe in the world. It’s based on the Yamuna River and you will want to go there at sunrise to see the best views with less people. You should definitely do a tour as the history of why this was built is a great story. Here are 13 tips for visiting the Taj Mahal.
2. Gateway of India, Mumbai
You’ll find this easily when you start to sightsee in Mumbai, and it was the first place I took my parents to see. When the Brits left India and India got democracy, they left through this gate – so it’s a really meaningful place. Here are some tips for one day in Mumbai.
3. Golden Temple, Amritsar
The Golden Temple is a Sikh temple made of 750 kilograms of pure gold! It’s stunning. The whole complex is beautiful with koi fish swimming in the water around the temple. I did a day trip here, but regret that as Amritsar has really good food. You can visit Wagah border in the same day easily, which is another attraction in India I highly recommend. Read up on the Golden Temple and it’s importance here (they feed 100,000 people for free each day, can you even imagine?!).
4. City Palace, Udaipur
I’m really more of a palace girl than a fort girl, and the Lake Palace / City Palace in Udaipur is for me, the most beautiful building in India. I love exploring in here, taking phots, the view of the Taj Palace across the lake… it’s all charming and romantic. Rajasthan knows how to do good palaces! Here is my guide to Udaipur.
5. Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
I adore this fort and the whole city! Mehrangarh fort is the first place I took a real tour in India and learned about how they used to fight (with elephants) and was so drawn into it all. It’s a magical type of place overlooking India’s blue city – yup, it’s painted blue! Here’s my guide to Jodhpur.
6. Amber Fort, Amer
So this is in Amer, but don’t worry that’s just a 45 minute drive from Jaipur – that’s why the other name is “Amer Fort”. This Hindu Fort overlooks Maota lake and is truly stunning. There are elephant rides up to it, which is all part of the attraction, but I urge you not to as some of those elephants have been making that walk for 30+ years and sleeping in chains at night. Check out my guide to Jaipur.
7. Bahubali, Shravanabelagola
I was blown away when visiting Bahubali, which is one of the 7 wonders of India. You have to walk up approximately 50 million stairs (joking) to get tho this so be aware of that. The statue in Shravanabelagola is the biggest monolithic statue in India (meaning it is made from one stone only) and one of the 7 wonders of India (with 47% of voters choosing this as number 1). It was built in the 10th century AD. Check out this post to read about why he’s so important to the Jain religion and the symbolism behind the man. PS: it’s a random town in Karnataka so maybe not on most itineraries but I love Karnataka – here are 9 places in Karnataka worth going to.
8. Akshardham Swaminarayan, Delhi
image via Russ Bowling
The meaning of this temple is “divine abode of God”. It’s the largest Hindu temple complex in India, and maybe in the world (I don’t know for sure!). According to Wiki, 70% of tourists who come to Delhi make sure to visit this temple. It was built according to Vastu shastra which is like the Indian version of feng shui.
9. Khajuraho Temples, Madhya Pradesh
Aka the “Kama Sutra Temples”. These do have carvings from the Kama Sutra in them and some are pretty crazy. These Hindu and Jain temples are also UNESCO sites and sadly the only place on this list I haven’t been able to visit yet. It was built with both religions as a sign of peace and respect between them.
10. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
The big pink building on the main road that you drive past all the time… that’s it! You will see this even if you don’t plan to (but take a minute to hop out of the car and snap a photo). This was built with all those little cubbies so the royal ladies could sit there and watch parades back in the day.
This barely scrapes the surface, but they are my favorite 10 India landmarks. So many more would make other’s lists I’m sure like Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi, the Red Fort in Agra, Qutab Minar in Delhi, or the Brihadeeshwara Temple in Tamil Nadu. The temples in Hampi are also incredible. In India, history is thick and you could spend all your time seeing epic India landmarks all over the country – but do remember that traveling in India is about experiences and adventure, too. Try to spend time sightseeing in India but also EXPERIENCING India. I’ve been to probably 4 dozen of the most famous landmarks in India and the truth is I remember other things about those towns and not really the landmarks… maybe it’s a great meal I had or a local that I met. These buildings might not stick in your mind as much. So, take a look and see which ones make your jaw drop and prioritize.
For more India tips:
- Mistakes people make when they visit India
- 100 tips for visiting India
- How to dress in India
- Tips for solo female travelers in India
- Backpacking India budget
- Getting a SIM card in India
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