4 Historical Cities You Need to See India
India is a land like no other, home to an intoxicating mix of ancient traditions and varied spiritual beliefs. It’s where you’ll find colonial hill stations, rural villages, and fast-paced cities nestled between desert landscapes, the Himalayan mountains, tea plantations, and vast seas. India’s history dates back to the origins of the Indus Valley Civilization and later became influenced by the Mughal Empire, British, Dutch and Portuguese, among others. Here’s four historical destinations to add to your travel itinerary.
4. Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Founded by Sikandar Lodi, the Sultan of Delhi, in 1504, Agra’s golden era began in the 1520s when it became the capital of the Mughal Empire and was known as Akbarabād. Notable Mughal rulers Akbar, Jahāngīr and Shāh Jahān left their mark on the city and Akbar even introduced a short-lived syncretic religion called Din-i Ilahi. The Marathas took control of the city and remained it Agra and it was governed by the British Raj for over a century.
Visit Agra today to admire architectural wonders bequeathed by the Mughals. The white marble mausoleum Taj Mahal is often described as the world’s greatest ode to love. Check out Agra Fort, Shāh Jahān's headquarters and eventual prison. The Tomb of Akbar the Great and Itmad-ud-Daula are other notable landmarks.
3. Hampi, Karnataka
Hampi is an ancient pilgrim village and UNESCO World Heritage Site set on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. The village’s roots are traceable back to the Maurya Empire, which started dominating the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century B.C. It rose to prominence as a pilgrim center when it became the home of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 1300s. Hindus regard Hampi as sacred and several mythological events are associated with the village.
Major highlights are the temples and shrines from the Vijayanagara Empire. Among them is the Dravidian-style Virupaksha Temple and Sasivekalu Ganesha. Elsewhere, fallen pillars, decaying pavilions, and decrepit merchant homes are reminders of a place that once attracted traders from far and wide.