Not every traveler would pick India as a destination to visit because for some people, it’s just too different to what they’re used to. They prefer sticking to countries where the culture difference is virtually unnoticeable. As much as we understand this and appreciate this, those people are missing out on so much. After all, isn’t culture difference part of the fun of travelling the world?
India is brimming with endless incredible sights. It doesn’t really matter which area of India we’re in, we’re never far away from some kind of exotic sight or experience. When people think of India and its famous landmarks, the Taj Mahal always pops up. As mesmerizing as The Taj Mahal is, this isn’t all India offers visitors. In fact, there are way more interesting things to discover in India. Not all of them are major tourist attractions but isn’t that the appeal?
Whether or not India is on your bucket list, these 20 incredible sights in India will make us all realize just how amazing India is as a whole. We’re not saying don’t go to the Taj Mahal, we’re just saying that’s only a tiny spec of the things India offers in terms of sights.
20 Bandipur National Park, Karnataka - spot a tiger
India isn’t short of wildlife, so if you’d prefer to see more of nature than temples and palaces, Bandipur National Park is the best choice. Considered one of India’s most beautiful and well-managed national parks, this park covers 500 square miles at the bottom of the Western Ghat Mountains.
It is home to a huge variety of wild animals including monkeys, tigers and elephants. For anyone who loves animals, this is a dream come true. It’s a place where we get to see wild animals getting the care and treatment they deserve. Guided tours are always available for anyone who’s interested.
19 Red Fort, Old Delhi – stunning inside and out
Red Fort is one of the most notable attractions in India. It’s a place many tourists have heard about and most likely visit when they come to India. Built in the mid-17th century by Shah Jahan, Red Fort remains a major tourist attraction. In 2007, the fort was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Beyond those huge sandstone walls that stand 23 metres high, we’ll find a complex of entertainment halls, palaces, baths, and even an ornate mosque. It’s a stunning sight from the outside, but even more fascinating inside.
18 Roopkund, Uttarakhand – the frozen lake that gives us chills
Surrounded by snow-laden mountains and glaciers, Roopkund is a glacial lake perched on an altitude of 5,029m. Some say it is one of the most remote areas. Some have even called it dangerous. Nonetheless, it is a stunning mystery that deserves to be seen and recognized for its profound beauty.
Most times of the year, this lake remains frozen. One of the things that make this lake so mysterious and maybe even a little creepy is the 300 human skeletons buried beneath the lake. People claim you can see them when the ice melts – even though they date back to the 9th century.
17 Botanical Gardens, Kolkata – over 12,000 plant species can be found here
Kolkata’s stunning 109-hectare Botanical Gardens is a perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. India is very diverse in terms of its landscapes and what it offers tourists. We can delve into history with its majestic temples, admire incredible architecture and also explore its many nature reserves.
These gardens were founded in 1786 and house over 12,000 plant species. It used to play a vital role in cultivating tea bushes brought in from China. Here is where you’ll also find India’s oldest Banyan Tree. This tree is actually the park’s most famous attraction.
16 The beaches of Goa – a sandy paradise
Goa is a popular area in India for tourists. And so it should be – its beaches are divine. If there’s one place we should go within India for a beach holiday, it has got to be Goa.
One of its most famous beaches is Querim Beach, a lush stretch of white sand and giant palms. A few others to visit that are famous for their beauty includes Arambol Beach, Baga, Vagator, and Miramar. Beach holidays are definitely possible here in India. Goa is one of the favoured locations for such a holiday and we can see why. Those beaches look heavenly!
15 Lotus Temple, New Delhi – Dusk is the best time to visit
Built in a shape of a lotus flower, photographers can't get enough of this incredible temple. Set among lush green gardens, the Lotus Temple is a stunning sight and one we won’t be able to take enough snaps of. It was actually only completed in 1986 and is the last of the seven major Bahai temples in the world.
The lotus was chosen because it’s a symbol common to Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Anyone of the faith is free to visit the temple to pray or meditate. The best time to see this landmark is at dusk, when the nine pools of water encircling the temple light up.
14 Karni Mata Temple, Rajasthan – the house of rats
It’s an incredible attraction, but probably a little too creepy for musophobics out there. The Karni Mata is home to thousands of rats and pilgrims travel miles to come and worship these rodents. Even though these rats are free to leave the property, they never leave the temple. They choose to stay. It is especially lucky to spot a white rat at the house.
While this isn’t a place for everyone (some people would avoid it at all costs), for others it will be interesting to see the rats and hear more about the history of the Karni Mata.
13 City Palace, Jaipur – it’s as beautiful as one would expect
Situated in the heart of the Old Town, City Palace is the home of several generations of royalty. Any visitor who comes to Jaipur must see it because it is a truly stunning sight. It won’t be hard to take amazing pictures of this place.
Built in the 1700s, the palace has undergone a number of changes over the decades. With its combination of Mogul and Rajasthani architectural styles, every visitor will appreciate this beautiful building. There’s a textile museum and an interesting armoury museum as well. Go with a guide if you want to find out about the history of the palace itself.
12 Dudhsagar Falls, Goa – the tallest waterfall in India
Located within the Mollem National Park and Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary, the Dudhsagar Falls are a spectacular sight. This four-tier waterfall just happens to be the tallest waterfall in India, at 1017 feet. When it rains, the waterfall can reach 100 feet wide.
Visitors say you must be both fit and determined – that’s probably because of the 10km trek on foot to the falls. The view will be worth it, but the hike is not for everyone. It’s something you should see if you have the chance and the willpower.
11 The Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya – Be prepared to be enlightened
This temple is one of the four holy sites related to Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. Dating back to the 5th century, this property of architectural significance is worth exploring if one appreciates beautiful buildings and rich history. The property comprises of a 50m high grand Temple, the sacred Bodhi tree and six other sacred sites of His enlightenment.
It is mostly associated with the Buddha and the time he spent there, as well as the evolving worship at the Temple. In fact, it is a sight that must not be missed if we come to India. Not only is it a stunning building, it also has a fascinating back-story.
10 Great Wall of India, Rajsamand province – It’s just a bit smaller than China’s
Stretching over 22 miles, the Great Wall of India is second only to the Great Wall of China. It stretches across the perimeter of the Kumbhalgarh Fort in India’s Rajsamand province.
It was constructed over 500 years ago at the same time as the fort. They both safeguard over 300 historic temples. Anyone who’s relatively fit can reach this wall and it takes around 40 minutes in total. For most people, it would be more interesting if they went with a guide so they can hear all about the wall and the fort’s history. Understanding the history puts everything into perspective and makes the experience all the more enjoyable.
9 Loktak Lake, Manipur – the world’s only floating lake
Loktak Lake is the only floating lake in the world. And that’s pretty much how it looks. The lake itself is famous for its phumdis, a cluster of organic matter and soil. Stretching across an area of 300 square meters, Loktak Lake is a source of livelihood for its inhabitants. On one floating piece of land, there’s even a tourist house called Sendra Tourist Home.
What’s actually so special about this place is its richness in natural inhabitants. With over 425 animal species, 233 aquatic plant species and 100 species of birds, it’s a wildlife lover's dream here at Loktak Lake.
8 Magnetic Hill, Ladakh – Gravity that pulls vehicles uphill
If unusual is what we’re looking for, India isn’t short of it. One incredibly unusual sight in India is Magnetic Hill, situated at an elevation of 3,352.8 meters.
It is well-known for its magnetic properties that can pull a car uphill. It’s actually an optical illusion that makes it look that way because of the gravitational force of the hill. Still, it’s an amazing thing to see.
This thrilling phenomenon attracts a lot of tourists for obvious reasons. Everybody wants to see this mystery with their own eyes. Indeed, it’s a sight nobody should miss while in India. It’s one of the most unusual things we’ll see in our lives.
7 Elephanta Caves, Mumbai – for anyone who loves ancient caves
Located on Elephanta Island, in Western India, the rock-cut Elephanta Caves are a wonderful sight. This group of five Hindu caves dates back to the fifth and sixth centuries. Even if you’re not a cave kind of person, anybody who appreciates beautiful things will be blessed to witness these stunning caves. The architecture and the history behind them are pretty startling and you’ll be able to capture some awesome photographs. It a great place to explore and take pictures. While it’s not one of the most famous landmarks in India, many tourists still come here to see these historic caves.
6 The Golden Temple, Amritsar – a shimmering spectacle
The Golden Temple is as its name suggests: gold. A stunning shimmering gold temple set in the city of Amritsar, this is the central religious place of the Sikhs. Even if you’re not religious, you really can’t come to India without visiting this famous landmark. It’s not every day of our life we see a gorgeous golden temple, is it? So when the opportunity arises, we jump for it and we make sure we take a lot of pictures.
With its unique Sikh architecture and four grand entrances, this place is like nothing we have seen before.
5 Tomb Of Humayun, Delhi – a perfect example of stunning architecture
One of the many things we love about India is all the stunning architecture. There is so much to see in India, it would be impossible to get bored here (unless we had absolutely zero interest in history or beautiful buildings).
Built in 1565 A.D., the Tomb of Humayun is a garden tomb that is also a major tourist attraction. It’s also the first great example of Mughal architecture in India. It was built by Bega Begam as a widow, nine years after Humayun’s passing. The tomb’s most notable features include its garden squares and mausoleum-topped double dome.
4 Living Root Bridges, Meghalaya – bridges don’t get more unique than this
Most tourists that come to India want to see the famous temples, but more tourists should be aware of India’s stunning natural landmarks.
The Living Root Bridges in Meghalaya are a good example of this. Made of rubber tree roots, these bridges are stunning pieces of architecture. They are grown in the direction of the river until their roots reach the other side of the dream. It takes around 15 years before a bridge is strong enough and usable. We’ll see some impressive bridges here that have been in production for decades. It seems to be a family tradition.
3 Great Banyan Tree, Kolkata – it’s the oldest and most mysterious tree in India
At around 250 years of age, the Great Banyan Tree is the oldest tree in India. It’s also the widest tree in the world. That’s all the more reason to come visit it. From afar it looks like a green forest, but when we get closer we’ll see it is just a single tree. It might surprise some people that this is actually a major tourist attraction, but people from around the world really do come just to witness this tree.
What’s so special about it? Despite facing endless catastrophes like cyclones and lightning, it still stands strong and tall till this day.
2 Hazrat Qamar Ali Darvesh Shrine, Shivapur – the levitating stone
There are many magical things in India. That’s probably why people are so fascinated by the country as a whole. Another magical sight in India is the Hazrat Qamar Ali Darvesh Shrine, Shivapur. Over 800 years ago, the shrine was actually a gymnasium. A Sufi saint called Qamar Ali was angered by a wrestler, so he put a curse on the wrestler’s stone. Since then, the 70kg rock cannot be lifted by anyone. However, it can levitate but this requires the help of 11 people to lift it using their forefinger while chanting the name of the saint who cursed it.
1 The Ancient Step Wells, Gujarat – this is how the locals dealt with water shortages
This site in India was actually built in response to a serious shortage of water outside of the monsoon seasons. Deep, stepped wells were built all over the dry regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan to preserve the rainfall during the monsoons back in 500 AD. Yes, they are pretty old but that’s part of the appeal.
Thousands of tourists flock to see these ancient step wells. Today, many of the structures are damaged beyond repair, but there are a small number of wells that haven’t altered so significantly. It’s interesting to see the wells and the overall concept.
References: indiahikes, theplanetd, theculturetrip, vacationidea, lonelyplanet, Britannica