Our local expert tells us about the Indian sites he prefers to show travelers. Some like the Taj Mahal is essential; others like Cochin or Jaisalmer are less known. But all, according to him, allow discovering the different facets of the country. From Delhi to Goa, from Jaipur to Agra, follow our expert to the four corners of the territory and live a unique human and sensory experience.
If I decided to place Agra in this list of essentials, it is not only for the Taj Mahal. I find it a pity that most travelers come here only to see the famous mausoleum. Do not mistake yourself! The Taj Mahal is definitely worth it, and not even just for architecture lovers. But this is not the only attraction of Agra. The city is indeed home to superb historical treasures including a magnificent fort, even more, impressive than the red fort of Delhi. There is also the Palace of Mirrors and the Akbar Mausoleum which are worth a detour, especially if you are staying in Agra for several days. And then, the city itself is also interesting. It has a historic district where the builders of the Taj Mahal once lived and a more modern district. I generally recommend staying for two or three days there to discover your points of interest.
Delhi represents a must for people visiting North India since it is here that the main international airport is located. I do not hide from you that the visit to the Indian capital can be trying for some travelers who find it noisy, chaotic, and dirty. However, what I generally suggest is to focus on the most attractive sites in the city. The temple of Hanuman, for example, is one of my little favorites since it allows a gentle immersion. With its air of fairground attraction, it offers an interesting introduction to the Hindu religion. For curious taste buds, I suggest a passage through certain little-known districts of Delhi where street food is king. This is a good opportunity to taste the “real” Indian gastronomy, with spices and the low prices that go with it! There are of course plenty of other sites that I like to show travelers, such as Lodi Park, Chandni Chowk market, or the Jama Masjid mosque. It all depends on the time you want to spend there!
Contrary to popular belief, Goa is not a city but a state, which has more than 120 kilometers of coastline. I like to place this “relaxation” stage in the middle or at the end of the trip. It is here that some of the most beautiful beaches in India are found, such as Agonda Beach and Arabbol Beach. But, as you can imagine, there are many other things to discover in Goa. If you like to party, Goa, along with Bombay, are some of the best places in the country. There are many discos there and it is also here, in Vagator, that the biggest music festival in Asia is organized: the Sunburn.
Jaipur truly represents an essential passage during a trip to Rajasthan. This is where I take history, culture, and architecture enthusiasts. There are many things to do here, and 3-4 days will not be too long to go around! Among my favorite places, I would notably mention the Jantar Mantar which is, in my opinion, the most beautiful observatory in the whole country, and perhaps even in the whole Asian continent. The Palace of the Winds, Hawa Mahal, is also worth a visit with its typically oriental architecture. Then there is also the City Palace which still occupied by the royal family, which opens some of its rooms where costumes of maharajas and other fascinating objects are exposed. However, if your tour also goes through Jodhpur, I would advise you to favor the visit to its more impressive City Palace. Anyway, there are a lot of other things to do and see in Jaipur!
There is nothing more exotic than arriving at Jaisalmer by train when the open windows let the sand seep in and the latter covers the benches! You will understand, in Jaisalmer, we are in the middle of the desert! The fortified city is unlike any other Indian city and you never get tired of strolling under the bright sun. Here, life flows peacefully and we quickly let ourselves go and live to the rhythm of the inhabitants. Jaisalmer is in a way the queen of the desert and for me one of the most beautiful cities of Rajasthan. Its atmosphere has something magical, almost unreal with its light changing over the hours and its birds hovering over the fort.
Cochin brilliantly embodies the sweetness of life in the state of Kerala, with its pretty colonial houses, its old synagogue, its Sainte-Croix cathedral, and its charming islands and peninsulas. Many travelers like to take a few days off, far from the usual hustle and bustle of big cities. What I like about Cochin is the multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan side of the city, with its various places of worship, its cuisine at the crossroads of influences, and its architecture mixing different styles.
Of course, this list of must-sees in India is not exhaustive and other sites like Varanasi, Udaipur or Pondicherry are also worth the trip. I even sometimes integrate totally unknown and yet captivating sites like Calcutta or Munnar for travelers who do not wish to do like everyone else!