Taj Mahal, lying on the historic Agra city, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Emperor Shah Jahan, the Great Mughal ruler, built it as a remembrance for his beloved third spouse, Empress Mumtaz Mahal. This marvelous edifice was built way back in the 17th century and is amongst the best structures depicting Mughal architecture. It is also declared as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. Numerous tourists from all over the world flock here to witness this amazing landmark and leave the place with awe. Shah Jahan believed that the Taj Mahal symbolized the tears that fell from the Sun’s and Moon’s eyes. As per the Persian Language, the Taj Mahal represents the Crown of Castles. Uttar Pradesh is the land from where it ascends. Even the most imaginative and creative minded guests are left awe-struck after viewing this marvel. The Taj Mahal is entirely made of white marble acquired from Makrana in Rajasthan. This structure has some amazingly intricate work done in the interiors. At the interior portion of the Mahal, you will find water fountains, which make the landmark progressively astounding. The eccentric sight of the smooth flowing Yamuna River nearby, adds up to its magnificence.
Visitors can witness this marvelous spectacle during the evening on five days in a month. This program includes a full moon night as well as, nights before and after it. The timings are between 8:30 PM to 12:30 PM with a maximum of 400 people each night in eight groups of 50 people for 30 minutes each.
The Fort of Agra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a gigantic structure of the sixteenth century portraying brilliant Islamic architecture. The great Mughal Emperor Akbar was the creator of it. Shah Jahan, later on, utilized marbles to include more adornments to it. This huge monumental marvel stands on the bank of River Yamuna. It was built in 1565 – 1573 for Emperor Akbar. Till the year 1638, this fort served as the primary residence of the royal families of the Mughal dynasty. There were several underground sections of this Fort, which were obliterated by intruders including the British, Marathas, and the Jats. The British later on, stationed their forces inside this Fort. Even today, a major area of this colossal fort is strictly limited to the usage of armies. The Pearl Mosque is said to be a significant aspect of this spot. However, it is not available for viewing for the travelers. The place on the right side of the mosque is an open area kept for the kings listening to their subjects. Also, located inside the fort is the Nagina Masjid or Jewel or Gem Mosque, which is a 17th-century creation along with the Meena Bazaar. From the hall, you can also see the Taj Mahal. On the outskirts of this fort, is an octagonal tower in which Shah Jahan was kept as a prisoner by his son.
The other places to visit here include Khas Mahal, Musamman Burj, Sheesh Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas, Diwan-i-Aam, and Moti Masjid. Jahangiri Mahal is also a major attraction, where you can discover many intriguing things including a dark stone bowl, which used to be the bathing place for the Mughal kings. This Fort, still today, proudly stands as an epitome of the golden Mughal Era.
Itmad-ud-Duala is considered the draft of the Taj Mahal and hence, is nicknamed as Baby Taj Mahal. It is also described as a ‘jewel box’ as it is priceless in terms of architectural brilliance. It is one of the famous architectural structures built in the Mughal era. This marble structure was constructed by Nur Jahan for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg. The construction began in 1622 and lasted till 1628. The marble lattice structure forms the highlight of the monument. The history of the tomb is engraved in a large stone, which has been preserved inside the monument. Four Persian styled gardens surround the mausoleum from all the four sides, thus forming a quadrangular shape. The floor of the structure has been constructed with hand cut marbles. Once you enter the monument, you will be greeted with sights of sheer royalty and elegance. Colorful paintings line the walls of every chamber and corridor. Geometric patterns can be observed all throughout the structure. The use of the Islamic style of architecture is visible in the way arched entrances, intricate marble screen work, carved floral patterns, and octagonally shaped minarets have been used.The tomb of Itma-ud-Daula is quite calm and peaceful. It depicts the Mughal architectural style in such a manner that a visit to this monument will render in you a feeling that you have taken a step back in time and traveled to that period when Agra was ruled by the Mughals.
Jahangir Palace, situated inside the Agra Fort complex, is one of the largest and popular visiting places in Agra. The palace was built by Mughal king Akbar for his favorite son Jahangir, and that is why this fort was named as Jahangir Palace. The style of the architecture of this palace is a unification of Mughal and Hindu architectural styles like the Gujarat-Malwa-Rajasthan style. The palace was structured in such a way that it could provide the best comfort and richness to the emperor, prince and their wives. The building was made of costly and high-quality white marble, stones, crossbeams, etc. The Khas Mahal, the internal beautiful part of this palace was made exclusively with white marble to keep the building cool in the hottest summer time. The Musamman Burj, an octadic tower is situated beside the Khas Mahal, where Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan spent his last life as a prisoner for seven years. The prettiest and colorful part of this palace, designed in Hindu architectural style is the Shish Mahal (Glass Palace), used by the queens of the palace as a dressing room. Another popular part of this palace is Anguri Garden, built in the typical Mughal style, where the kings used to spend time for relaxation. Also, there is Hauz-i-Jahangir, a huge bowl situated in front of the palace made by a single stone, which was used to accommodate aromatic rose water. For visiting this beautiful historical palace, you have to buy entry tickets. Photography, videography, and footwear are allowed in the premises.
The town of Fatehpur Sikri was founded by Emperor Akbar in 1569 and it served as the capital of the Mughal Empire till 1610. The structures of the city are predominantly built in red sandstone. This palace city is surrounded by walls on three sides and a lake on the fourth side. The city is organized in the shape of a rhombus. Though abandoned, and therefore, surrounded by an air of melancholy, Fatehpur Sikri yet proudly stands as a maiden showing off her beauty. When you tour around this city, if you can give wings to your imagination, you can witness history unfolding in front of your eyes as in this very courtyard of Akbar, Birbal won over everyone with his wits and Tansen displayed his musical skills.
Seikh Salim Chisti Dargah is the first name, which comes to the mind when one is paying a visit to Fatehpur Sikri. Buland Darwaza is another popular tourist destination of Fatehpur Sikri, which is the gate of Jama Masjid. It carries the inscription, which reads, “The world is a bridge, pass over it but build no houses on it.” After entering through the Buland Darwaza, you get to witness Jama Masjid, which is a congregational mosque. The unique feature of this mosque is the row of ‘chhatri’ over the shrine. The next stops on the itinerary route are the Diwan- i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khas, which are respectively the hall of public and private audience, respectively. Other important tourist attractions here are – Fatehpur Sikri Fort, Panch Mahal, Jodha Bai’s Palace, Birbal’s House, Khwabagh, Hiran Minar, Naubat Khana, Samosa Mahal, Courtyard of Daulat Khana, etc.
The Tomb of Akbar, also known as Sikandra Fort, is a very famous visiting place located in Sikandra, Agra. The Tomb, constructed in 1604 – 1613, is nearly 14 km away from the great Taj Mahal. According to the Mughal tradition, this magnificent tomb was designed by Emperor Akbar the great for himself before he expired, but after his death in 1613, Jahangir completed the rest of the construction work, covering the area of around 119 acres. The monument, resembling a pyramid, is a five-story building and was built of white marble with the high-quality red stone in the basement, where the actual tomb of Akbar lies. The architecture of this tomb is a combination of Indian and Persian styles, wherein some parts of the building like gardens, balcony, and entrance gate are influenced by the Islamic style of architecture. The false tomb is situated on the ground floor, whereas the main tomb is surrounded by a 105 sq. m wall made of glossy white marble, situated in the basement. The main building has four pyramid shaped pillars, made of red stone and white marble, which portray the splendid architecture of the Mughal and Islamic era. After Akbar’s death, the tomb building was considered as a royal residence for Akbar’s, Sahajahan’s and Aurangzeb’s families. After entering the building premises you will find a Garden, designed in Mughal style and you may be able to spot animals if you avoid the rainy season. The tourists are not allowed in the basement, where the main tomb is placed, because of the storage of many priceless and traditional ornaments, weapons, and historical assets. For visiting this famous place you have to buy entry tickets and pay charges for carrying cameras.
The wondrous Buland Darwaja or the “Gate of Victory”, known as the highest gateway in the world, was built in 1601 A.D by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in Fatehpur Sikri. The purpose of constructing this building was to celebrate Akbar’s victory over the Khandesh (Gujarat) in 1573 A.D. Later on, this monument was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The construction of this building, followed by the Mughal architecture, was made by red and buff sandstone, whereas, the black and white marble was used to decorate the structure. But some structures of this complex represent the Indian architectures like Hindu and Jain. This gateway is 15-story high (54 meters). Throughout the 8 km long wall of this complex, you can reach any of these gates - Delhi Gate, Lal Gate, Agra Gate, Chandanpal Gate, Gwalior Gate, Birbal’s Gate, Chor Gate, Ajmeri Gate, and Tehra Gate. In the main complex, there are many edifices situated, such as tomb, palace, mosque, etc. like Jama Masjid, Jamat Khana, Tomb of Salim Chishti, Diwan-i-Khas, Jodha Bai Palace, Panch Mahal, Naubat Khana, etc. In the center of the main complex, you will find the Tomb of Salim Chishti, built by Akbar in 1581, made of white marble. Another famous structure inside this complex is Jodha Bai Palace, also called as Raniwas, is a rectangular shape 2-storied building in the east side, was built for Jodha Bai, the Hindu queen of Akbar. Panch Mahal and Khas Mahal were built by Akbar, constructed in a way to provide relaxation during summer. Tourist can enjoy the beautiful sunrise and sunset from this complex.
The land of Varanasi, with its magnanimous number of ghats, which goes almost as high as 100, is welcoming you to take a holy dip in the river Ganga and soak in its religious essence. The first ghat, which needs to be on your itinerary list, is Assi Ghat, where Lord Shiva is worshipped. It is at this place that river Ganga meets the river Assi. Dasaswamedh Ghat is a 15-minute auto ride from this ghat. For history lovers, a visit to Chet Singh Ghat is a must. This is the site of the historic 18th-century battle, which took place between the then ruler of Varanasi, Maharaja Chet Singh and the British. Next is the visit to the Dasaswamedh Ghat, which is considered as one of the holiest ghats of Varanasi. Hindu mythology states that this ghat was created by Lord Brahma to welcome Lord Shiva.If you want to catch the glimpses of Rajput architectural style in Varanasi, you need to visit Man Mandir Ghat, where you will also find the palace of Maharaja Man Singh and an observatory famous for its astronomical instruments.Some other notable ghats in Varanasi are – Manikarnika Ghat, Ahilyabai Ghat, Darbhanga Ghat, Mansarovar Ghat, Raja Ghat, Shivala Ghat, Vijayanagaram Ghat, Jain Ghat, etc.
The famous Ganga Aarti of Dasaswamedh Ghat is a major tourist attraction, which starts at 6 pm and lasts till 6:45 pm during winters and starts at 7 pm and continues till 7:45 pm during summers. One of the other things tourists must indulge in is taking a boat ride from Dasaswamedh Ghat to Harishchandra Ghat. Tourists can also take a leisurely stroll along the Varanasi Ghats to experience the real magic of Benaras.
There are various names given to this very well-known zoo of Lucknow – Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Prani Udyan, Prince of Wales Zoological Garden, and Lucknow Zoological Garden. In the year 1921, when the Prince of Wales visited Lucknow, this zoo was formed to celebrate and memorialize his grand visit. This zoo spreads over an extensive area of 71.6 acres.Different animal species can be spotted here in their natural habitat – Royal Bengal Tiger, White Tigers, Wolves, Lions, Hog Deer, Hoolock Gibbon, Indian Rhinoceros, Swamp Deer, Barking Deer, Himalayan Black Bear, Blackbuck, Sloth Bear, Leopard Cat, Fishing Cat, Hyena, and many more.Birds like Great Pied Hornbill, Golden Pheasant, Silver Pheasant, White Peacock, Painted Stork, Indian Griffon, Hill Myna, Grey Heron, etc. are found here. Reptile species include Marsh Crocodiles, Indian Python, Indian Cobra, Gharial, Rat Snake, Viper, Sand Boa, Turtles, etc. Apart from these, there is a huge collection of fishes and aquatic animals in this zoo. It’s an amazing spot for the children to enjoy.
Wildlife Week and Children’s Day are celebrated here.
The grand archaeological site, British Residency located in the heart of the Lucknow city, beside Gomti River is also known as “The Residency of Lucknow”. It was built in the 18th century by Nawab Asaf Ud-Daulah and completed by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. The monument is a strong witness of 1857 Revolt and related memories and that is why, it has been declared as an archaeological heritage building. The building is now protected and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The monument is made of red brick and red sandstone. The central building of this construction was designed with European villa style wooden pillars, comfortable balconies, high beams, flat roofs, etc. The purpose of constructing this historical red building was to provide accommodation to the East India Company employees and British inhabitants, but during 1857 war, around 3000 British soldiers and refugees used to stay here, of which only 1000 survived. The main building has a two-storied separate area, called Banquet Hall, designed in Mughal architectural style. In the south-eastern part of the residency, Nawab Saadat Ali khan built a gate, called Bailey Guard Gate in the 19th century to show respect and honor to British captain John Bailey. Other important landmarks are Vilayati Mahal and Begum Kuthi, made by Nawab Nasiruddin Haider for his queen Makhadarah Aliya.
As a tourist attraction, the building complex also has a historical museum, the tomb of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan, the first Nawab of Awadh, and a beautiful organic garden to explore. Some other historical monuments present in the main complex are Shaheed Smarak, Terhi Kothi, Kaisarbagh Palace, Church and Cemetery, etc.
Bara Imambara, also named as Asafi Imambara, is one of the most visited historical edifices, located in the Imambara complex Lucknow. In 1784, the Nawab of Awadh, Asaf-ud-Daula, started the construction of this structure and it was completed in 1791. He was the fourth Nawab of Awadh. The purpose of constructing this building was to provide employment to the local inhabitants. The main building has some separate parts like the Asfi mosque, Bhul-Bhulaiya, Shahi Bowli, and Rumi Darwaja with two main gates. It is said that in Bhul-Bhulaiya, located on the upper floor of the building, there are 1024 zigzag ways to reach the building rooftop, but only one way to come back. So tourists are advised to visit with experienced local guides, which are available in the building area. This grand structure was designed by Hafiz Kifayat Ullah and Shahjahanabadi, famous designers of that era. Around 20,000 workers worked together to complete this building. This religious Muslim monument has a unique style of structural design inspired by Mughal architecture, called the Badshahi Mosque. The structure is unique because no wood or iron or any imported elements had been used in the entire construction. Inside the main building, there is a central hall, believed to be the biggest arched hall in the world, which is 50 meters long and 15 meters high, made by inter-locked bricks, without any beams.
Beside the Bara Imambara wall you can also spot the Chota Imambara, the white Teeli Wali Masjid, and the Clock Tower, which are very famous historical places as well.
The Bara Imambara is famous for grand Muharram celebration.
This mandir, also known as Krishna Janmasthan Temple, is a temple complex located in the west of Mathura’s old city, is considered the most sacred temple in Mathura, which is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Sri Krishna. Every tourist visiting Mathura should pay homage to this temple as it has immense religious significance since the 6th Century BC and is a notable site to visit as well. The temple was built during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir by Raja Vir Singh Bundela of Orchha. However, some believe that the temple was constructed around 5000 years ago by Lord Krishna’s great-grandson. In 1017 AD, Mahmud of Ghazni invaded Mathura and destroyed the original temple and stole the gold idol of Lord Krishna, which was over 4 m high. Many architectural changes took place over the years and the temple was recreated many a times. There is a structure within the temple complex that resembles a prison cell and people believe that Lord Krishna was born there. The present-day new temple complex follows the Hindu style of architecture. The temple is adorned with beautiful paintings depicting scenes from Lord Krishna’s life. There is an idol of Lord Krishna, his beloved Radha, and Lord Balaram. The temple complex comprises the Keshavdeva Temple, Garbha Griha Shrine, and the Bhagavata Bhavan. Also, there is a stepped water tank known as Potra Kund or Pavitra Kund.
Janmashtami, Diwali, and Holi are the main festivals that are celebrated here.
Paying a visit to the Triveni Sangam is a must when you are in Allahabad. Triveni Sangam, the confluence of the three rivers – the two physical rivers namely the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati River, is considered a sacred place of the Hindus. Though the third river, Saraswati has dried up many millennia ago, yet there is a belief that it flows underneath the surface and the site is still considered as the meeting point of three mighty rivers.
Tourists can take a boat on rent and tour around the Sangam area. Also, in this site, the famous Kumbh Mela is organized every 12 years, which people visit in large numbers, from all parts of the world. In this holy site, the ashes of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, were immersed in the year 1948.
According to the mythology, it is believed that at this place, nectar fell out of the pitcher of the Almighty and hence, it is considered a sacred site. It is believed that anyone taking a bath here will be able to get rid of all sins committed during the lifetime and free himself/herself from the cycle of rebirth. Thus, thousands of devotees visit this place to worship, offer their prayers, and to achieve salvation. The confluence of the Ganga, which is brown in color and the Yamuna, which is blue in color, makes for a fascinating sight. There are wooden banks created for people to take rest by the side of the river.
Built in the year 1864, it is one of the most sacred Krishna temples in India. It is also known as Shri Banke Bihari Ji Temple. The unique feature of this temple is that here, Lord Krishna is worshipped in the form of a child – Nand Gopal. The word ‘Banke’ means something that is bent at 3 places and ‘Bihari’ means the supreme enjoyer. It is so named because the idol of Lord Krishna stands in the famous Tribhanga posture. The idol is dressed and offered bhog as per the seasons and festivals. It is believed that Banke Bihari Ji does not like the sounds of bells and conch and thus, there are no bells and conch in the temple, unlike the other Hindu temples.
As per the legends, Banke Bihari Ji (Lord Krishna) appeared in Nidhivan hearing the prayers of Shri Swami Haridas, who was the reincarnation of Lalita, Lord Krishna’s ‘Sakhi’ (female friend). The old idol of Lord Krishna was worshipped in Nidhivan till the year 1863 and in 1864, after the construction of this temple by the Goswamis, the idol was shifted here. Mythology says that Lord Krishna spent his teenage days in Vrindavan and thus, this holy city has much religious importance.
Jhulan Yatra (The Swing Festival) of Lord Krishna, Janmashtami (birthday celebration of Lord Krishna), Akshaya Tritiya, Dolotsav, Holi Festival, etc.
The Jhansi Fort, also known as Jhansi Ka Kila is a historical famous fort, located in a high hilltop called Bangira, in the middle of Jhansi city, Uttar Pradesh. The height of this fort is around 285 meters. This fort was built by Chief Veer Singh ju Deo Bundela in the 17th century. He was the Bundela Rajput Chief. In 1728, Maharaja Chattrasal offered Jhansi to Peshwa Bajirao. After that in 1853, the British took the control of this fort. In the main building, two popular temples are situated, which were constructed by Raja Raghunath Rao II. The structure is famous because it was the residence of famous Rani Lakshmi Bai, popularly known as Jhansi Ki Rani. The fort covers an area of 15 acres and was built in North Indian architecture. The main construction has several gates like Khanderao Gate, Datia Darwaza, Unnao Gate, Jharna Gate, Laxmi Gate, Sagar Gate, Orchha Gate, Sainyar Gate, and Chand Gate. In the main fort area, some famous structures are present like Ganesh Mandir, Panch Mahal, Karak Bijli Cannon, and Shiva Temple. The Ganesh Mandir is famous because here Rani Lakshmi Bai married the king of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao. Another popular part of this fort is Panch Mahal, where Rani used to stay with her husband till death. Another tourist attraction is the jumping spot, from where Rani jumped with her son on the horseback when the British attacked her.
Every year, the Jhansi Mahotsav is celebrated grandly in January - February.