The world famous TajMahal Romantic mausoleum of white marble inlayed with precious stones, standing erect in a ravishing Persian closed garden, on the shores of the Yamuna, narrates even today the great love of Shah Jahan for "the pearl of his harem", Mumtaz. The strong medieval Red Fort with its delicate artwork and Itimad-ud-Daulah, a ravishing marble mausoleum of delicate sculptures and skylights, are also to be visited.
Delhi ( Old Delhi )
Situated between the impressive Red Fort and the immense mosque of Jama Masjid, the old city dates back to the 17th century. Chandni Chowk, its busy artery swarming with people was built by the favorite daughter of Shah Jahan. On the other hand, one discovers the peaceful Rajghat, a vast garden on the shores of the Yamuna where Mahatma Gandhi was incinerated.
Delhi ( New Delhi )
In the south of the city, stands the Qutab Minar, a magnificent tower at the foot of which was built a mosque with 27 pillars taken from the Hindu temples. Farther, the wide avenues lined with trees and flowers take you across the colonial city up to Rajpath, the artery leading to the Presidential Palace built in red stone. Then the Parliament, India Gate, the astonishing modern temple of Lakshmi Narayana, and finally Connaught Place, a lively and animated center of the new city.
Entirely built by Akbar, it was the capital of the Mogul empire but only for a period of 14 years. Also known as the ghost city but very intact, it is surrounded by walls of red sandstone covering a distance of 11 km and it dominates the surrounding plain. A succession of courtyards, apartments, pavilions and basins, temples and mosques reveal the secret of the most luxurious court of the East in the 17th century.
Haridwar ( also see Rishikesh )
Haridwar or 'Gateway of the Gods' is ranked among the seven most religious cities according to Hindu mythology, as the Gods are believed to have left their footprints in Haridwar. Thanks to its geographical location, Haridwar is the gateway to the other three important places of pilgrimage such as Rishikesh, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Haridwar has always been a major religious city for Hindus.
Hari-ki-Pauri is the most important 'ghat' of Haridwar. The 'Aarti' ceremony on the Ganges is celebrated daily in the evening. This is an awe inspiring show, when the ceremony is performed at all the temples of Haridwar at the same time. Hundreds of people participate in prayer on the ghats of Hari-ki-Pauri.
The 22 surviving temples, built in the short span of a hundred years from 950-1050 AD under the rule of the Chandella dynasty constitute the jewels of Hindu sculpture and architecture at their apogee, rare as they are in northern India. Entirely decorated with feminine sculptures or couples embracing each other, the erotic atmosphere of its temples remains shrouded in mystery. This site is the best illustration of the famous Hindu mythology.
The city of a thousand Cenotaphs. Wherever the eye can see, it is a succession of domes and spires emerging from the forest and running along the river. There are very few ruins. The splendor of the site is remarkable. The alignment of the royal cenotaphs in the vegetation reminds one of landscapes reminiscent of South India. The Chaturbhuj temple, or that of Raja Ram Temple, dominate the entrance to the village, and are imposing by their spectacular mass and architecture that gives them the appearance of cathedrals.
Rishikesh ( also see Haridwar )
Rishikesh is 24 kms from Haridwar. This town is famous for the Tapo Bhumi or the place for meditation. Rishikesh is popular as a place of pilgrimage and meditation for Hindus. The Ganges leaves the mountains here, and prepares for a long jorney across the plains to Kolkata.Being the last town easily accessible before gaining altitude, Rishikesh is really worth visiting for its beautiful scenery and to experience the rhythm of spirituality.
Rishikesh is one of the major attractions in North India, made famous by the Beatles in the 1970s. Its history and religious atmosphere are worthy of those of Benares (Varanasi). It is easily accessible from Delhi and allows one to experience the mountain scenery, as well as the fervour surrounding the source of the Ganges.
This high seat of the Buddhism cult between the 3rd and the 12th century has preserved the serene ambiance of the park where Buddha delivered his first sermon. The museum houses a beautiful collection of sculptures; numerous temples and monasteries, more recently built, are home to scores of pilgrims.
Named Varanasi by the Hindus, it is one of the 7 sacred cities visited on a pilgrimage, in order to bathe in the Ganges. A boat ride at sunrise is a must in order to catch sight of the pilgrims performing their prayers, the priests and the crematory logs. The fervor and the serenity that impregnate the city are unforgettable.