A riot of riches – historical, architectural, spiritual and artistic
One arrives with so many other people's perceptions that Agra might not have lived up to expectation. It did! Seeing the Taj Mahal at sunrise, we could be away from crowds and experience the place ourselves, with time to just try and take it all in - the exquisite carving, calligraphy and inlay work. In the morning it felt like MY experience.
Both the Mughal and British Indian empires were based in North India and they left behind a rich architectural legacy of forts, palaces and monuments many of which, such as the Taj Mahal at Agra, are now World Heritage Sites.
You’ll also find important pilgrimage sites in the north including: Varanasi, known as the spiritual capital of India; Bodh Gaya, the most holy place for Buddhists; and the incredible Golden Temple in Amritsar, centre of the Sikh religion.
Many travellers will have heard of the Golden Triangle, which is a journey visiting Delhi, Agra and Jaipur (which is in Rajasthan). This is an excellent combination of north Indian sights.
The Himalayas are, of course, also in northern India. Find more details on our separate page. And there are many places we can recommend for seeing some of India’s incredible wildlife.
Add to this a rich culture of art, music, dance, cuisine … and you can understand why the north is high on the list of most travellers in India. We can tailor-make exactly what you want, but here are just some of the suggested highlights for your North India holiday:
- Agra & the Taj Mahal: The Taj Mahal, arguably the world’s finest monument to love, is Agra’s most famous site, but you will also find other incredible buildings such as Agra Fort, Jehangir’s Palace, and Jama Masjid. The nearby abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri should also not be missed.
- Amritsar & the Golden Temple: The Punjabi city of Amritsar in northwest India is especially known for the spectacular Golden Temple, one of the most spiritually important places for Sikhs.
- Delhi: India’s vibrant capital city is split between Old and New Delhi. It’s a crazy mix of modern offices, restaurants and shops in wide tree-lined streets (thanks to colonial architect Lutyens), alongside old buildings in narrow alleyways (best negotiated by foot or bicycle) and ancient Mughal sites.
- Khajuraho: Not too far from Varanasi, the fine 10th- to 12th-century Hindu temples of Khajuraho are known especially for their explicitly erotic carvings.
- Varanasi: Said to be the world’s oldest continually inhabited city, Varanasi is India’s spiritual capital. Set on the banks of the sacred Ganges, the Ghats (steps) are the focus of life on the river (from birth to death). Take a boat on the river and see the daily ‘aarti’ ceremony which blesses the Ganges. Nearby Sarnath is one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites.
- Wildlife reserves: Wildlife sanctuaries in North India include: Chambal Sanctuary; Corbett; Dudhwa; Gir and Valvadar (in Gujarat); and Sariska. See our Indian Wildlife Safaris page for more details.