India has much to offer any tourist seeking a cultural and spiritual adventure. With its vast history (both ancient and modern), diverse culture, and rapidly growing economy, India has something for everyone.
If you are a history or political buff, the country has beautiful, eclectic remains from many different empires. The Mughal Empire, at the height of its power and control in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, has left behind some of the most beautiful relics of Muslim art and architecture in India.
In addition to elaborate, intricate forts and buildings, the Rajput and Sikh rulers left behind a legacy of gardens, where they would throw elaborate parties and engage in Urdu poetry readings for their guests. If you make it to India, which I hope you will, be sure to visit these 4 esteemed, incredible sites. You will not be disappointed!
Red Fort in Delhi (Lal Qila)
Shah Jahan constructed this massive fort in the 17th century, in the Mughal capital of and later used it as a residence for him and his family. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the beautiful Red fort, which primarily served as a palace, showcases the creativity and talent of architects and artists of the Mughal Empire.
The inside and outside of the fort demonstrate a blending of Indian, European, and Persian art and tradition. Additionally, the fort still holds contemporary significance, as the Indian Prime Minister addresses the nation from this site on August 15th every year (the Indian Independence Day). Take a trip to this great city, and get a taste of what it would be like to live during Shah Jahan’s magnificent reign.
A few years after Mughal emperor Humayun died in 1556, his wife, Hamida Banu Begum, commissioned building a magnificent tomb in his memory. The tomb, which is surrounded my amazing imperial gardens, has intricate geometrical sandstone and marble patterns. Additionally, the monument is surrounded by minarets, evidence of the predominance of Islamic architectural style during Humayun’s reign.
The tomb was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and it includes a Char Bagh garden in the middle of the monument, which was changed many times. It was once replaced by an English garden at a time when upkeep and maintenance became too expensive. However, restoration of the gardens and tomb continue to take place, with support of UNESCO and the Indian government.
Get a taste of India’s cultural and religious diversity with a visit to the Jama Masjid. The largest and most popular mosque in India, Jama Masjid was built in the late 1600s by Shah Jahan. It took seven years to complete in addition to the skill and diligence of over 5,000 workers! With 40 minarets and three extravagant gates, it is the perfect symbol of India’s religious tolerance and blend of cultures.
The Taj Mahal
This is perhaps the most known and acclaimed monument in India, and it was built under the supervision of Shah Jahan himself! He built it in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, after she passed away during child birth. With a blend of Persian and Mughal architectural styles, the Taj Mahal embodies the love and grief Shah Jahan felt after his wife’s death.
The emperor opted to use marble instead of the more traditional sandstone for the building’s composition. He also included semi-precious stone in intricate patterns of the monument—all for his true love Mumtaz. This is a must see for anyone who makes their way to India!