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India – 3 Great Places to Visit

India – 3 Great Places to Visit

India above all is a land of huge beauty and diversity, whether it’s in terms of geography, culture, languages or cuisine.

It is the home to 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and offers a seemingly never-ending range of attractions that are by all means hard to prioritize when visiting this amazing country.

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India – Sri Harmandir Sahib: The Golden Temple, Amritsar

The Golden Temple is located in Amritsar, a city in the eastern state of Punjab. It is the holiest of shrines in Sikhism, and a pilgrimage site that attracts followers of the faith and tourists of all backgrounds from within the country and all over the world. There is no entry fee for visiting this temple.

How to Get There

Being connected by many national highways makes it easy to book a ride to the Golden Temple. You can also reach Amritsar railway station from most metropolitan cities and take a bus or taxi for a quicker and more budget-friendly ride.

Safety in India

Due to its popularity and prominence, it is one of the safest tourist destinations you can visit in the country. In fact, Amritsar comes nowhere close to the crime statistics of major metropolitan cities of India. As a solo traveler or with your family, Amritsar along with Golden Temple as its crown jewel would be a safe destination for your whole family. Still, it is good to be a little cautious when you visit a new country or city.

History

Also known as Darbar Sahib or “Abode of God” the Golden Temple was founded in the late 16th century by Ram Das. and has been the center of culture and many historic conflicts. It has been demolished and reconstructed several times.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh seized Amritsar in the early 19th century. He is responsible for the gold plating that renders the Temple’s name.

Why You Should Visit

Apart from the marble architecture, large man-made Sarovar (pool), and calming spiritual atmosphere, you can also witness the “langar” which is a phenomenon unlike any other you have ever seen. Most gurdwaras (Sikh temple) around the world organize langar where they serve free hot meals to all visitors irrespective of their faith.

The one at the Golden Temple stands out due to its sheer size and scale. Every day, the temple feeds around 50,000 people, a number that doubles during holidays or religious occasions. Sitting with so many people for a meal would be nothing short of a humbling experience and always leave a positive mark on both adults and children.

Make sure to visit the volunteer-run kitchen which has cookware larger than luxury bathtubs.

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Image Harisingh

What to Eat

You should definitely try the ‘prasad’ from ‘langar’. The local cuisine has everything for both vegans and meat-lovers.

Amritsar is famous for ‘Kulchas’ a type of maida bread that is baked in tandoor. Also, don’t forget to try various kinds of kebabs and tikkas like ‘Shammi Kabab’ and ‘Mutton Tikka – Delicious!

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Image Joe mon bkk

Nearby Attractions

While Golden Temple is the best attraction in the city, Amritsar has a lot more to offer. After a delicious meal at the langar, you can visit the Partition Museum and Khalsa College, which is over 100 years old.

Enjoy an evening show of patriotism from both sides at the famous ‘Wagah Border’ and end your day while treating yourself and your family to the delicious local cuisines of Amritsar.

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India – The Taj Mahal, Agra

The Taj Mahal is the iconic Indian monument. It took 20,000 artisans and approximately 20 years to build this grand monument. The Taj Mahal is a symbol of India’s rich history and is the best example of Mughal architecture.

How to Get There

It is located near the bank of river Yamuna in the city of Agra and is a 4-hour drive from Delhi, India’s capital. With a car it is easily accessible from the expressway.

No car, no problem – public transportation services The Taj Mahal.

Safety in India

You and your family would really enjoy visiting the Taj Mahal as it is one of the most magnificent monuments you will ever see and India’s most visited site You don’t need to be overly concerned for your family’s safety at the Taj Mahal.

All visitors and their bags are screened before entering the Taj Mahal.

You need to be aware of pickpockets in this and all heavily visited tourist areas. Also, be careful of fake but high priced souvenirs for sale by street vendors in this area.

History

This UNESCO Heritage Site, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the early 17th century as a mausoleum was dedicated to his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It was one of the biggest construction projects of its time and is the collective effort of skilled artisans from the country and neighboring regions like Iran and Central Asia.

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Why You Should Visit

Apart from the architecture and precious marbles stones that are inlaid carefully, you would also appreciate the perspective of the scale you get from the extreme end of the red pathway with a canal in the middle and clear blue skies above.

For a complete and more in depth experience hire a registered local guide and let them make the past come alive while you visit one of the greatest man-made wonders in the world.

What to Eat

At Agra, you will find some of the best food on the streets. From rich, creamy, and boldly flavored slow-cooked meat, to stuffed parathas with pickles and chick-pea curry with strong Indian flavors that literally explode in your mouth.

For desserts, don’t miss out on the famous Petha that is created from white pumpkin and finely chopped or crushed nuts.

Nearby Attractions

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Your trip to Agra shouldn’t end at the Taj Mahal . You don’t want to miss out on two more UNESCO world heritage sites located in this city, and Fatehpur Sikri.

Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of a prominent Mughal emperor. The city is on rocky ridge, two miles long and over half a mile wide. It is a palace city with imposing entrance, walls and palace are made from a beautiful red sandstone.

Fatehpur Sikri is surrounded by a wall on three sides almost 4 miles long. The fourth side is bordered by a lake.

Before you leave Agra, make sure you buy some of the carefully crafted works. If you are visiting in February, you can experience the Taj Mahotsav. It is a 10 day-long festival that brings in hundreds of skilled artisans from all over the country for displaying their work.

This work encompasses all Indian art forms and includes wood/stone carvings, bamboo/cane work, paper mache, marble and zardozi, wood carving, brass wares, handmade carpets, pottery, silk and zari work, shawls, hand printing and kantha stitch.

India – Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya

Mahabodhi Temple has immense significance to the Indian people both in terms of religion and culture. The Buddhist temple is located in Bodh Gaya in the eastern state of Bihar. Destroyed and restored several times throughout its history the temple is deeply connected with Buddhism and its followers.

How to Get There

Four miles from Bodh Gaya and approximately 6 miles from Gaya Railway Station is Gaya Airport. By train or bus, take a train or bus from nearby major cities like Patna to the Gaya Railway Station. You can or also hire a cab or rent a car.

When using public transit catch a local cab for the final journey between the airport or railway station and Bodh Gaya.

Safety in India

The Buddhist temple is a serene and sacred place, while Bodhgaya is a village full of friendly residents and pilgrims. It is a serene destination for your family and extremely safe. In fact, the district of Gaya has some of the lowest crime rates in the country. When visiting Bodh Gaya and Mahabodhi Temple be very aware it is a religious site and use common sense when respecting the local culture.

History

Bodh Gaya and Mahabodhi temple attract almost half a million devoted pilgrims and tourists each year. Built by King Asoka and recognized as the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment in the early 3rd century BCE Mahabodhi temple literally means “Great Awakening Temple”.

It is one of the few temples and architectural marvels that has been completely constructed out of bricks and still stands in all its glory.

Why You Should Visit

The temple-complex hosts the 164 foot tall Vajrasana (diamond throne), the main temple,  and the sacred Bodhi tree under which Lord Buddha meditated to gain enlightenment. It also houses seven other enclosed structures at the places Gautam Buddha spent his time over 7 weeks while considering his experiences and meditating.

What to Eat

Bodhgaya has many popular restaurants like the Sujata Restaurant or Tibetan Om Cafe that serves a multitude of Indian, Chinese and continental dishes.

Nearby Attractions

If you wish to enrich your spiritual experience even further, visit the Thai Monastery that features golden tiles and multiple curving golden roof finials. Also the Royal Bhutan Monastery that was constructed and dedicated to Lord Buddha by the King of Bhutan.

Other monasteries and temples have also been built by Buddhist communities that showcase the fusing architecture of different Asian countries and Buddhist culture. You can also visit the tallest Buddha statue in India which is just half a mile away from the city center.

Kundan Bazaar

For local handicrafts and books visit Kundan Bazaar and the Tibetan refugee Market. You and your family could have a whole new look wearing the traditional Indian winter-wear available in this market.

Fantastic India

Your visit to India will always feel incomplete. As when you visit and begin to truly discover the country – you realize there is just so much more to see.

The Indian people, their religions, cultures, impressive sites, and food will make any vacation for a solo or family traveler one to remember.

Travel Insurance

Never Travel Without it

An essential service when traveling overseas is travel insurance, especially to countries far from your own with very different cultures and health systems. We never travel without insurance. To see a review of why travel insurance is so important and get some the right insurance at the best price read the article Why you Need Travel Insurance.

Nearby Countries

A country forming a major land border with India is Pakistan. A comprehensive guide to this country may be found in Pakistan – Your Guide & The Best Things to See and Do.

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Editor: Tim Borchers

Growing up in Australia, Tim developed a love of backpacking and adventure traveling, taking multi-country trips covering 5 continents. He relocated to the United States and as a transportation consultant averaged 3 flights per week His favorite traveling is with his wife Cassandra and two boys, ages 8 and 5. They quickly became expert family fliers and have taken the boys on annual trips to Australia and other U.S. and international experiences including China, Cuba, England, Fiji, France, and Spain.

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