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India

India

India is a vast South Asian country with diverse terrain.

From Himalayan peaks to Indian Ocean coastline and history reaching back 5 millennia.

In the north, Mughal Empire landmarks include Delhi’s Red Fort complex and massive Jama Masjid mosque, plus Agra’s iconic Taj Mahal mausoleum.

Pilgrims bathe in the Ganges in Varanasi, and Rishikesh is a yoga centre and base for Himalayan trekking.

Officially the Republic of India is a country in South Asia.

It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people and the most populous democracy in the world.

1. Agra

Agra

Agra is a city in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state.

It is home to the iconic Taj Mahal, a mausoleum built for the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan’s wife, Mumtaz Mahal (who died in childbirth in 1631).

The imposing main building features a massive dome and intricately carved white marble inlaid with precious stones.

This is set behind a reflecting pool inside a courtyard defined by 4 minarets.

Taj Mahal

Near the Taj Mahal are the 20m-high red-brick walls of Agra Fort, a grand Mughal fortress and palace, much of it dating to the 16th and 17th centuries.

Across the Yamuna River is another striking tomb, Itimad-ud-Daula, which prefigures the Taj Mahal by a few years, earning it the nickname Baby Taj.

West of the city is the remarkably well-preserved ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, whose red-sandstone royal apartments, harem quarters and pavilions date to the late 1500s, when it was briefly the capital of the Mughal empire.

2. Chennai

Chennai

Chennai, on the Bay of Bengal in eastern India, is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu.

The city is home to Fort St. George, built in 1644 and now a museum showcasing the city’s roots as a British military garrison and East India Company trading outpost, when it was called Madras.

Religious sites include Kapaleeshwarar Temple, adorned with carved and painted gods, and St. Mary’s, a 17th-century Anglican church.

Chennai

The Government Museum houses Indian art and archaeological objects, notably bronze sculptures from the medieval Chola dynasty.

Wildlife and plants can be seen at Guindy National Park, Arignar Anna Zoological Park and the Theosophical Society’s gardens.

Food stalls line Marina Beach, a popular spot for walking and flying kites.

The Kalakshetra Foundation – comprising an art museum and several theaters – is one of many venues presenting Tamil performing arts throughout the year.

3. Mumbai

Mumbai

Mumbai (formerly called Bombay) is a densely populated city on India’s west coast.

A financial center, it’s India’s largest city.

On the Mumbai Harbour waterfront stands the iconic Gateway of India stone arch, built by the British Raj in 1924.

Offshore, nearby Elephanta Island holds ancient cave temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

The city’s also famous as the heart of the Bollywood film industry.

Landmark British colonial buildings include Chhatrapati Shivaj Terminus, an ornate train station melding Gothic Revival and Mughal architecture.

The castlelike Bombay High Court features octagonal turrets.

Immense Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya is a museum displaying ethnographic and natural history collections.

Chor Bazaar is known for its antiques, while Mangaldas Market has textiles, and Zaveri Bazaar is filled with jewelry shops.

Marine Drive terminates at popular Chaupati Beach.

On the city’s outskirts in Sanjay Gandhi National Park is Kanheri, a cave system carved by Buddhists beginning in the 1st century B.C.

4 Hyberabad

Hyberabad

Hyderabad is the capital of southern India’s Telangana state.

A major center for the technology industry, it’s home to many upscale restaurants and shops.

Its historic sites include Golconda Fort, a former diamond-trading center that was once the Qutb Shahi dynastic capital.

The Charminar, a 16th-century mosque whose 4 arches support towering minarets, is an old city landmark near the long-standing Laad Bazaar.

On the Musi River’s south bank, the Salar Jung Museum has an enormous, wide-ranging collection of global art covering several millennia.

Chowmahalla Palace – built by the Nizams, Hyderabad’s princely rulers from the 18th to mid-20th centuries – is an opulent complex featuring courtyards and fountains.

North of the river, the contemporary, white-marble Hindu temple Birla Mandir occupies a hilltop with views over Hussain Sagar Lake, known for its 18m Buddha statue.

On the outskirts, Ramoji Film City is a sprawling movie-production centre featuring studio tours and a theme park.

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