India is a nation which celebrates the diversity of cultures and revels in the peculiar characteristics of each. Throughout history, several cultures have contributed in their own special way to shape the overall culture of this country.
India is scattered with cultural hotspots where one can witness the several aspects of a culture. Tourists visit these destinations because they offer a unique combination of spirituality with vacation. This blog tells you some of India’s top holiday destinations worth checking out.
Rajasthan, the largest state in India, encapsulates much of what is the overall culture of India – colorful, vibrant and lively. Its culture is defined by thrilling folk dances, massive forts, palaces and a distinct cuisine. On a cultural holiday to this state, you should visit the states of Jaipur, Udaipur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer, among others, and explore the various wonders in them. Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, also known as the city of palaces, is another destination worth visiting.
Utter the word Goa, and your mind is flooded with images of shiny beaches and nighttime parties. While Goa has become synonymous with all of that, however, it’s also home to several cultural treasures in the form of churches and forts. The most magnificent of all churches is the Se Cathedral. Then there is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Monument and contains the relics of St. Francis Xavier. Aguada and Chapora are two forts worth exploring. Apart from that, Goa is also famous for its handicrafts and festivals, the most famous of which is the Goa Carnival.
The ancient city of Varanasi is distinguished by its temples, bustling markets, saffron robed sadhus and most of all, the legendary riverside ghats. On your vacation here, you could choose to take a boat ride on the Ganges, explore the lanes and by lanes of the old towns and taste the delicious snacks available at the numerous food stalls. One of the major attractions here is the “Ganga Aarti”, which is held in the evening, and is a unique spectacle of hymns, chants and bells.
Agra, a city built on the banks of the Yamuna River, once served as the capital of the Mughal Empire. The foremost attraction here is the Taj Mahal, the magical vision that appears like a reality and is an architectural marvel. Besides this, there is the Agra Fort, a colossal structure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The other places which showcases the history and culture of this place are Fatehpur Sikri, Jama Masjid and Itmad-ud-Daulah’s Tomb.
When you plan your cultural holidays to India, don’t forget to visit Jaipur, also known as the Pink City. Once here, you should visit the Amer Fort, which is renowned for its intricately decorated entrances, detailed latticework and a highly impressive “Sheesh Mahal.” You could opt for a walking tour of the city and visit the major attractions like the Hawa Mahal, City Palace and various bazaars. Other areas which offer a glimpse into its culture are the block printing industry and marvellous bandhani work.
Madurai prides itself on its glorious past and rich culture, which is visible in its majestic architecture, age-old customs and much more. On a cultural holiday here, you should visit the famous Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple which is home to several magnificent structures. Thirumalai Nayak Place, a 17th century marvel containing a multitude of stone carvings, white pillars and enormous courtyards is another attreaction. Besdies, this city also holds numerous festivals which showcases its cultural legacy such as Pongal and Chithirai.
Trivandrum, also known as Thiruvananthapuram, is famous for being a cultural hotspot. Its cultural facets are visible on public centres like the public library, the Trivandrum Museum and Swati Thirunal College of Music. Besides these, painting has also enjoyed a great history here, an example of which is the traditional murals found in a small cave shrine at Thirunandikkara in southern Travancore. This city also possesses a strong film culture, and becomes the venue of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in November or December every year.
When you visit Kolkata with cultural holiday packages to India, remember that it’s one of the greatest cultural hubs of India. The city’s interesting past is visible in the various monuments that dot the city today like, the Victoria Memorial, the grand St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Writers Building, built-in the Greco-Roman style of architecture. The former French colony of Chander Nagar, with its impressive buildings, monuments and riverside Strand is another cultural delight. However, no cultural holiday to Kolkata is complete without visiting Shantiniketan, the “university-town” associated with Rabindranath Tagore.
Mysore is eminent for being known as the City of Palaces. The two palaces worth visiting, both due to their cultural significance and architectural magnificence are the Mysore Palace and Jagmohan Palace. Mysore Palace houses a museum, and when illuminated, appears even more enchanting. Jagmohan Palace, which was also converted into an art gallery, displays fascinating aspects of the region’s culture. The city is home to five other palaces, gardens, lakes and temples. Two other places worth visiting on your cultural vacation here are the Ranganathaswamy Temple and Tipu Sultan’s summer palace.
Hampi, the temple town and UNESCO World Heritage Site, enchants travellers with its fabulous historical structures. One of these is the Virupaksha Temple which dates back to the 7th century. Part of the Group of Monuments at Hampi, it has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the most famous attractions here is the Virupaksha Temple, which consists of three entrance towers or gopuras, with the main entrance measuring over 49m. The other magnificent structures here are the Badavi Linga, and the Vittala Temple Complex (which contains halls, pavilions and numerous other temples), Krishna Temple, Hampi Bazaar and others.
Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, owes its eminence to the fabulous monolithic sculptures and rock carvings. Most of the temples and rock carved caves which are found here were built during the rule of the Pallavas during the 7th century AD. The city’s essential cultural heritage is reflected in its spectacular architecture, brilliant handicrafts and magnificent sculptures, all of which showcase the city’s cultural heritage. Some of the places worth visiting here are Shore Temple, Krishna Cave Temple, Varah Cave Temple and Panch Rathas, a monumental complex.
No cultural holidays to India are complete without visiting Khajuraho, which is legendary for its ancient temples that display some of the finest art in the world. These temples, built in 950 AD to 1050 AD, depict various forms like meditation, wrestling, spiritual teachings, royalty and a highly developed form of erotic art. It’s these features which have made them one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. Exploring the various temples and the intricate sculptures is really a meditative experience.
Ahmedabad holds the distinction of being India’s first World Heritage City. Its cultural heritage is visible in its characteristic “pols” (neighborhoods with clusters of old havelis), temples, mosques, festivals, cuisines, textiles and much more. This city is perhaps more famous for being home to Sabarmati Ashram, built by Gandhiji after his return from South Africa in 1915. This heritage city also stands out due to this Indo-Islamic architecture, an example of which is the Jama Masjid. The other monuments worth checking out are Bhadra Fort and Swaminarayan Temple, among others. You should also visit Calico Museum of Textile, which is one of the oldest textile museums of the country.
Lucknow’s culture presents a beautiful amalgamation of Hindu and Muslim cultures. Besides this, the city’s thriving cultural tradition is also reflected in its literary traditions and arts. Some of the magnificent structures that you should be visiting here are Bara Imambara, Chhota Imambara, Rumi Darwaza and others. The city’s architecture has been influenced by several architectural styles and influences including the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals, the Nawabs of Awadh and the British. Besides these, the Awadhi cuisine is a delightful cultural experience in itself.
About the Author
Rekha Bisht is a travel enthusiast who work with a reputed and National Tourism Award winning tour operator, Indian Holiday Pvt. Ltd. She loves to visit the most popular as well as offbeat places of the world and share her travel experiences with fellow travelers. If you want to plan your holidays to India or opt for international tours, follow her write-ups.
Image Credits :
- Rajasthan: https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*LztkEDxpbNN9bAcKqa2q_A.jpeg
- Goa: https://www.flickr.com/photos/munishk/4348542370/sizes/l
- Varanasi: http://cdn1.buuteeq.com/upload/18138/india-tours-varanasi-uttar-pradesh.jpg.1340x0_default.jpg
- Agra: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C8UJfGOXgAALXox.jpg
- Jaipur: https://d1ljaggyrdca1l.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/amber-fort-jaipur.jpg
- Kolkata: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/34/Victoria_Memorial_Hall%2Ckolkata.jpg
- Hampi: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9d/The_Stone_Chariot%2CHampi.jpg/1280px-The_Stone_Chariot%2CHampi.jpg
- Khajuraho: http://www.wildernesstravel.com/images/trips/asia/india/varanasi-and-khajuraho-extension/1-slide-india-world-heritage-site-khajuraho-pano.jpg
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