One of Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan for his beloved consort, Arjumand Banu Begum, who he later renamed Mumtaz Mahal or “the elect of the palace”. The Taj Mahal is an exquisite combination of love and fine craftsmanship.
With its roots, deep in the history of the Indian subcontinent, the Taj Mahal is one of the most visited places in India. 2 to 4 million tourists visit the Taj Mahal every year. This magnanimous number of tourists visiting the grounds means there is never enough time for a serious traveller to enjoy the monument’s beauty. For all that it is worth; the average globetrotter often forgets that India has much more to offer.
See These 7 Incredible Places in India that aren’t the Taj Mahal
1. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi
Humayun’s Tomb is an excellent example of Persian architecture in India. The building of this tomb was commissioned by Hamida Banu Begum, Humayun’s widow. The tomb is made of red sandstone in the style of a “Charbagh”, a garden style tomb with pools connected via channels. This wonderful Charbagh design was inspired by the description of the gardens of Paradise in the Holy Quran.
In this mausoleum rest Humayun, Hamida Banu Begum, Dara Shikoh and other important members of the Mughal dynasty.
2. Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
Situated by the Waghora River, the Ajanta and Ellora caves are one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. These caves are home to hundreds of paintings and sculptures. The caves are a part of a complex that includes Buddhist monasteries along with a few Jain and Hindu temples.
These caves sit on the Shayadhri Hills and are surrounded by dense green forests. It is best to visit the Ajanta caves in the day and the Ellora caves in the evening. As they are located towards East and West respectively, the sun illuminates these two caves at different times of the day.
3. Nohkalikai Falls, Cherrapunjee
Nohkalikai Falls are the highest waterfall in India and the fourth highest in the world. The falls offer a view of lush greenery with ultramarine waters in the monsoons. At the height of 1,100 feet, these falls climb uphill before reaching a cliff and plunging downwards creating an extraordinary scene.
These heavenly falls have a gruesome legend associated with them. It is said that there was a woman with a daughter who remarried after the death of her husband. The man she married did not like his step-daughter. One day when the woman, who was named Likai, was off to work, the man killed her daughter and used the flesh to cook a meal. He offered this meal to Likai who was surprised to see her husband cooking. Likai ate and was happy until she found her daughter’s chopped fingers in a basket. She could not bear the weight of what had just happened and threw herself off these falls. The name “Noh-ka-likai” literally translates as ‘the leap of Likai’.
4. Dal Lake, Kashmir
Kashmir is not known as a paradise on earth for no reason. Known as “Jewel in the Crown of Kashmir”, the Dal Lake is 15 kilometers around. The lake reflects the snow-clad peaks of Pir Pinjal Mountains and the wooden houseboats left behind from the British times. Most tourists stay on these wooden houseboats but those who do not can move around the lake in shikaras, which are smaller boats used for transportation.
In the remarkably clear waters of the lake lie three islands joined by causeways. These provide an impressive view of the entire lake area.
5. Sanchi Stupa, Sanchi
Located in the Riasen District of Madhya Pradesh, the Sanchi monuments have structures with hemispherical domes. In these ancient structures, the relics of the Buddha are placed. The Sanchi Stupa is the most preserved of these as it is surrounded by stone railings and gateways.
These monuments were undiscovered till 1818 and are presently an important UNESCO world heritage site. With their foundations laid by the great emperor Asoka, these Stupas tell the story of Buddhism and its emergence in ancient India.
6. Yumthang Valley, Sikkim
If you are visiting Sikkim, make Yumthang valley a top priority if you want to see nature at its best. This valley turns into a paradise as countless Rhododendron flowers bloom in the midst of spring. With impressive views of the river Teesta, Yumthang valley spans more than 32 square kilometers.
This place makes it to the list of the most photographed places in India. So, if you love clicking pictures and traveling, this place is made for you.
7. Lakshadweep Islands
The name literally means ‘a hundred thousand islands’ in Malayalam, the local language. This group of 36 atolls is located in the Laccadive Sea. Though most of these islands are uninhabited, the more developed islands, including the capital Kavaratti, offer scuba diving and snorkeling facilities in the clear blue waters of the sea. The islands are famous for water sports including water skiing and kayaking.
India is much more fascinating than most people realize. Every corner of this country has an abundance of unexplored territories and virgin vistas. I urge you to take a step back and look around, welcome the next travel adventure that comes your way with your arms wide open, you never know to what spectacular place it might take you to.
Rohit Agarwal is a writer and an observer. As a travel writer, he writes for several websites and publications. He also writes about his adventures at TransIndiaTravels.com. A wanderer by nature, he finds solace in the discovery of unexplored regions.