India is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Asia. Bounded by the Himalayan ranges in the north, and surrounded on three sides by water (the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean), with a long history and diverse culture, India offers a wide array of places to see and things to do.
Perhaps India's best-known site is the Taj Mahal, one of the world's greatest architectural achievements. It was built between 1631 and 1653 by Emperor Shah Jahan in honor of his wife, Arjumand Banu, more popularly known as Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal serves as her tomb.
One of the popular tourist circuits is called the Golden Triangle: the cities Delhi; Agra (site of the Taj Mahal); and Jaipur. Delhi is approximately 200 kilometers away from Agra, and 250 kilometers from Jaipur.
Another set of destinations covers the desert cities of Jodhpur, Jaiselmer, Bikaner, and Barmer, in the state of Rajasthan, the "Land of Kings." Jodhpur is a fortress-city at the edge of the Thar Desert. Jaisalmer is famous for its golden fortress, and Bikaner for its medieval history as a trade route outpost. Barmer and surrounding areas are a perfect picture of typical Rajasthani villages.
India also has a large variety of protected wildlife. The country's protected wilderness consists of 75 National Parks and 421 Sanctuaries, of which 19 fall under the purview of Project Tiger. Its climatic and geographic diversity makes it the home of over 350 mammals and 1200 bird species, many of which are unique to the subcontinent. Some well known national wildlife sanctuaries include Corbett, Kanha, Sariska, Periyar, Ranthambhor, and Bharatpur.
Moving south, many places are a mix of ancient historic sites as well as industrial/technological hubs. Some of these are listed below.
The southern state of Karnataka offers:
- Bangalore, the IT capital of India, is also significant for its history
- Mysore, about 140km from Bangalore, has palaces, KRS Dam, several temples, a hindu temple atop Chamundi hills, a few kilometers away are Belur, Halebid, SravanaBelagola, where nearby fortresses can be found (Tipu's)
- Hampi the city of ruins (1500's when the Muslim kings destroyed the prosperous Vijayanagar empire)
Kerala is most famous for its backwaters, and for its tropical beaches and spice farms.