Post Contributed by Haley Jones
When someone first comes to India, what first comes to your mind? It may be beautifully bright colored saris, fragrant curries, and exotic weather. It may also be the iconic structure that is the Taj Mahal. Built between 1631 and 1648, it remains one of the most well-known buildings in the world to this very day, and is often considered to be the jewel of Islamic art in the East. So the story goes, the emperor Shal Mahan ordered the construction of the Taj Mahal in memory of his most loved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is located along the Yamuna River, situated in a stunning Mughal garden, and features both a mosque and a guest house. Nearly every tourist to visit India makes a point of visiting this epic landmark – and, maybe not so successfully, taking a photo with it too! But if your India trip is upcoming, and you want a unique experience, what else can you see that isn’t the Taj Mahal?
THE GOLDEN TEMPLE
If religious monuments are your thing, it doesn’t come much more spectacular than the Golden Temple. Situated in the city of Amritsar in Punjab, it is considered to be the holiest of all Sikh Gurdwaras. Known in the native tongue as Harimandir Sahib, it started to be built in 1585, with construction finished in 1604. It is translated as literally ‘the Temple of God’. One of it’s most renowned features it its water tank, which is fed by the neighbouring Ravi River. This water is said to be holy, and people come from all over the world to bathe in it and redeem its healing properties. For recommendations on what to bring with you, visit an India travel forum.
THE VALLEY OF FLOWERS NATIONAL PARK
As far as national parks go, it doesn’t get much better than this. The Valley Of Flowers is nestled in the western Himalayas. It’s perfect for a lengthy trek if you’re up for a bit of an adventure, as you might spot some wildlife too. Black deer, snow leopards, and brown bears all live amongst the valley, so be sure to take your camera. Of course, it wouldn’t be named the Valley Of Flowers without an extensive array of flora and fauna. There are hundreds upon hundreds of different species of plants that grow and thrive in the valley, making it a colorful paradise. Either take a guided tour or walk around yourself – the valley is open to visitors from 7am every day.
Heading back to Delhi, it is vital to not miss the historical Humayun’s tomb. It is known as a garden tomb, as it sits within a four-quadrant garden, which also includes pools joined by channels. These represent the four rivers of Quranic paradise. It was commissioned in the year 1569 by Emperor Humayun’s son Akbar, and remains a stunning piece of architecture to this day. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1933 and has undergone a lot of restorative work since then. Not only does the tomb house Humayun himself, it is also the resting place of Emperor Shah Jahan and Darah Shikoh, Humayun’s great grandson.
So, the next time you’re planning a trip remember, there are so many sights to visit in India besides the Taj Mahal!