10 best cities to visit in India

Jul 4, 2017

Thinking about a trip to India? The land of incredible landscapes, roaring cities and spicy flavours is calling. We explore 10 exciting Indian cities to help you decide on your first colourful adventure.

1. Delhi

Red Fort in Delhi, India

The capital city of India, Delhi is where old meets new. There are eleven districts including the charming Shahjahanabad at the centre (also known as Old Delhi), full of bustling backstreet bazaars and dusty driveways, New Delhi, a modern metropolis of government headquarters interweaved with historic sites, and the futuristic Gurgaon with towering skyscrapers, hotels and designer shopping.

Visitors to Old Delhi can spend hours exploring the long winding streets. It is shaped like a quarter circle and its star attraction is the Red Fort (above). Founded by Emperor Shah Jahan, it was the main residence of Mughal dynasty emperors for 200 years. The walls of this historic fort stretch for 2.5km along the banks of the Yamuna River. Mahatma Gandhi’s Delhi home and place of assassination can also be found by the Yamuna River.

In New Delhi, you’ll also find the impressive buildings of parliament, glossy embassies and historic sites and museums. These include the National Museum featuring Indian and international works of art, and India Gate, a national monument commemorating soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War and the Third Anglo-Afghan War.

The Lodhi Gardens are a beautiful green space in New Delhi packed with Indian flora. It is the burial site for Delhi’s pre-Mughal Sayyid and Lodi rulers. Humayun’s Tomb is another must-visit site, located in Nizamuddin, East Delhi. It was the first garden tomb on the Indian subcontinent.

2. Varanasi

North of India is Varanasi, the sacred city of India – it is known as one of the holiest sites of Hinduism. Pilgrims come to the ghats (steps leading to the Ganges) to wash away their sins in the blessed waters or to cremate their loved ones.

The Manikarnika Ghat is the most auspicious place for a Hindu to be cremated, while other notable ghats include the historic Harishchandra Ghat and the colourful Dashashwamedh Ghat (above). Visitors can respectfully watch cremation ceremonies with flowers, fire and dancing taking place along the water, in scenes that are truly magical. Photos are usually prohibited during the ceremony.

There are temples dotted throughout the city, but if you only visit one, make it the Vishwanath Temple. Built in 1776, parts of it are plated with gold and the result is mesmerising.