The Taj Mahal is a marvel of marble. The giant mausoleum is on the south bank of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra and is one of the most visited sites in India. The awe-inspiring structure took 17 years to complete and was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal. Plan ahead and arrive at sunrise as the burgeoning sunlight gives the building an ethereal glow and avoid the crowds, allowing time to see the Taj Mahal in relative peace and tranquillity.
Visitors to Agra should check out the palatial red-sandstone fort located on the banks of River Yamuna. Circa 1565 the fort houses a maze of buildings, including vast underground sections and was originally constructed as a military structure, later transformed into a palace and then a gilded prison. Agra Fort has a fascinating history worth exploring.
The Red Fort
The Red Fort in Delhi is named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone built in 1638 to keep out invaders. The main gate, Lahore Gate, is a symbolic focal point of modern India, attracting large crowds on Independence Day. Home to emperors of the Mughal dynasty for nearly 200 years before the British took over and is now one of Delhi’s most popular tourist attractions.
Hawa Mahal (Pink Palace)
The 18th-century Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, also known as ‘Palace of Breeze’, features an intricate, lace-like facade carved from pink sandstone was designed to allow ladies of the royal court to discreetly observe the street scenes below without being seen by the public. The five-storey structure has 953 honeycomb-shaped windows which encourages a gentle breeze to flow through the palace. Hot tip: the striking palace is best viewed from the rooftop cafes across the street.
Amber (pronounced Amer) is located around 11km from Jaipur and presents a magnificent example of Hindu and Mughal style architecture. Constructed of red sandstone and marble, the opulent palace is divided into four main sections, each with its own courtyard. The magnificence of the palace is further enhanced by the breath-taking vista of the Maota Lake in front of Amber Fort.
Galtaji is also known as Monkey Temple for the large colony of monkeys that inhabit the temple, just outside of Jaipur. Set amidst low hills, this Holy Ashram is a unique Hindu temple centred around natural springs where pilgrims come to bathe their sins away in the holy waters.
Located in New Delhi, Jantar Mantar is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed astronomical observation site built by Jai Singh in the early 1700’s. Hire a guide to explain the instruments used by astrologers to observe the celestial positions with the naked eye. Don’t miss the world’s largest sundial made entirely of stone.