Javian's Choice

Recommended Sights - Our Top Pick!

Located in the city of Agra, the Taj Mahal is a white marble monument built by the late Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Even with the international recognition it has received by being named one of the seven wonders of the world and a UNESCO world heritage site, one has to view its beauty in person to understand why Rudyard Kipling referred to it as “the embodiment of all things pure.”

Mark Twain described Varanasi as “older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Located along the holy Ganges river, the city has attracted hindu pilgrims to its 7 ghats (series of steps) along the river since sixth century BC. Each ghat is teeming with life and activities, with its own story and appeal, and can be observed by foot or by boat rides.

Fatehpur Sikri was the short-lived capital of the Mughal emperor Akbar. This now abandoned city is a popular day trip from Agra to view the hindu and muslim influenced architecture of the gates, palaces, and tombs in the city complex. Inside is the Panch Mahal or “Five-Storied Palace”, with an impressive five story pavilion that once marked the royal women’s quarters.

Don’t let the “fort” in Agra Fort mislead you – it was actually the massive imperial capital complex for Akbar in the city of Agra. It’s complete with royal apartments, mosques, assembly halls, and a dungeon. The complex is protected by the 1½ miles of wall and the Yamuna river on its west side. Visitors should consider getting a guide to explore all the wonderful Mughal architecture.

The Classics

Recommended Sights - Our Top Pick!

Akbar’s memorable resting place, Akbar’s Tomb in Agra is captivating with white geometric designs on red sandstone. In the middle of the structure is the emperor’s tomb, with smaller ones on either sides for his daughters. If you suddenly hear a disembodied voice bouncing through the tomb, don't be startled - it’s the local woman who demonstrates the awesome echo effect to visitors! If you find yourself in Lucknow, capital of UP, then you must make a visit to Bara Imambara. The main attraction is the labyrinthine passages on the upper floor known as Bhulbhulaiya. Visitors are challenged to find their way out of the maze - few succeed and guides are poised to come to the rescue! The entrance fee also includes admission to the beautiful Chota Imambara down the street. Located in the sacred city of Varanasi, the Yoga Training Center is a non-profit organization that helps children with free education. The center also provides yoga lessons to visitors. Visitors can learn the art of the different yoga techniques, take an ayurvedic massage or even volunteer to help the children. The British Residency is a historic landmark in Lucknow, the metropolitan capital city of UP.  The residency was the site of the 147-day Siege of Lucknow, part of the 1857 First War of Independence in India. Now maintained as a museum, the residency complex has been preserved as it was during the siege - complete with walls ridden with bullets and cannons, and old photos.

Off The Beaten Path

Recommended Sights - Our Top Pick!

Another reason to make a trip to the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, the short-lived capital of the Mughal emperor Akbar, is the massive gate called Buland Darwaza that leads visitors into the city. The beautiful Persian calligraphy lining the inside of the arc reads: "Jesus, Son of Mary said: The World is a Bridge, pass over it, but build no houses upon it. He who hopes for a day, may hope for eternity; but the World endures but an hour. Spend it in prayer, for the rest is unseen." Not only is the inscription famous for its calligraphy, but it also throws light on Akbar's religious openness.