As I traveled through India, I was struck by the richness of Indian history and the grandeur of the country’s historic sites. India’s history dates back thousands of years and tells the stories of some of the greatest and richest civilizations this world has ever seen. The remnants of this great history are well preserved in India’s monuments, buildings, forts, tombs, mosques and temples.
The Mughals, a Muslim empire which ruled much of India from the 16th century into the 19th century, left behind a treasure trove of architecture and history across the Golden Triangle area of Northern India. The Mughals literally cemented their legacy in India with buildings such as the Taj Mahal, the Red Forts of Agra and Delhi, Fatphur Sikri, Jama Masjid, Sikandra and Humayun’s tomb.
My favorite Mughal building I visited was the famous Taj Mahal complex in Agra. Completed in 1653, the Taj Mahal is a love symbol unmatched in history. This mausoleum, built by the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. To see the Taj Mahal at sunset or sunrise is an experience like no other—the grandeur of the site and grounds cannot be described in words. An interesting theory that I learned during my visit is that Shah Jahan had originally planned on building an equally grand black Taj Mahal mirroring the existing white mausoleum across the Yamuna River as his own tomb. As the project never got off the ground, Shah Jahan is now entombed alongside his wife in the existing Taj Mahal.
Another favorite historic site was the Amer Fort located outside of Jaipur, Rajasthan—it’s a place straight out of fairy tales. The Maharaja leaders of Rajasthan built Amer Fort as a symbol of their power, and construction lasted over the course of many centuries. The Fort is massive and the landscape dramatic. The fort and surrounding walls are sprawled over many hilltops and ridgelines. The best and method of transport up to the fort is by elephant with a mahout driver. Surprisingly, the true beauty of the fort is not found from the outside, but in the four levels of ornately landscaped inner courtyards that make up the “Hall of Audiences.” The views from the top of the fort are spectacular and bring you back to a world that existed centuries ago.
For inquisitive minds and history lovers, India’s historic sites will not disappoint.