Interesting Places in India
India is an interesting place from north to south and east to west, with a fascinating culture, unique history and varied landscape. But foremost is the "golden triangle" -- Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, as well as the Himalaya region and the extreme southern tip in the state of Kerala.
Delhi is really a state that has three parts -- Old, New and South -- but it is administered as one. The old part of the city is where to find many of the old forts and tombs, and New Delhi is the seat of Indian government with its green parks and grand avenues. Several sights cannot be missed, including Old Delhi's Red Fort, where a sound-and-light show heralds Indian history from the Moguls to independence in 1949. Nearby, visit the Jama Masud, India's oldest mosque, and Chandni Chowk, the market known for its narrow streets and open-air restaurants. South Delhi features the World Heritage site, Qutb Minar, a well-kept Mogul-era mosque and tomb. In New Delhi visit India Gate, a war memorial and massive park that symmetrically connects government buildings with walkways and fountains.
Just south (124 miles) of Delhi lies Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. Built by Shah Jahan in the 1600s, this tomb was a monument to his wife as an eternal symbol of his love. The white marble structure features gemstones that are embedded into the marble in intricate floral designs. A special treat is to view the Taj Mahal during a full moon. The Agra Fort is also well worth a visit. While built with similar red sandstone as the Red Fort in Delhi, this structure has retained more of its original appointments.
Jaipur, the "pink city," is located 160 miles southwest of Delhi, and is so nicknamed because most buildings in the old area are covered in terra cotta pink. But it is not the color that attracts most visitors, it is the history. A planned city, it is surrounded by walls with wide avenues. Visit the City Palace, a curved pink structure with small, slit-type openings so the queen could see out, but people could not see her. Just outside Jaipur are several forts and palaces that are musts, notable the Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort and the Jal Mahal. A special treat is to take a camel or elephant ride.
To escape the summer heat, many Indians (and others) travel to various resorts in the Himalayas called "hill stations." On clear days, visitors can view the magnificent Himalayas--and to the north Tibet, and to the east, Nepal. Closest to Delhi is Mussoorie, and while crowded during summer, it offers walks along the city's crest and bus tours outside town featuring majestic views and historic Hindu and Tibetan temples.
Kerala and the Backwaters
At the southern tip of India is Kerala, the home of India's "backwaters." Here, visitors can rent a boat (with operator and guide) and ply the intersecting rivers and lakes in a palm tree-covered, jungle-like environment. This is not modern India, but an area where life is little changed over the centuries, and perfect for a laid-back experience. Houseboats are also available for an overnight experience, or travelers can stay in Fort Cochin, where seafood is sold on the waterfront next to big, Chinese-style nets that are dipped into the harbor during the day.
Jeff Fulton is a writer specializing in business, travel and culture. He has worked in international sales, customer relations and public relations for major airlines, and has written for Demand Studios since May 2009. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Business Administration in marketing from the University of Chicago.