A shift in the seasons, a tilt of an axis and a drop in the temperature. Come winters, and India finds itself preparing for one of the best seasons to travel across the peninsula. With a string of holidays and a list of festivals and fairs, winters in India are marked by vacations to plan your year around, a romantic beach holiday, hill stations resembling postcard sceneries and its southern tips and desserts welcoming all its visitors that had been shying away till now given their generous humidity and temperatures
Perhaps India’s most recognizable building, the Taj Mahal is also the world’s most famous testimony to the power of love. Named after Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite wife of Emperor Shah Jahan, this most beautiful of mausoleums was begun upon her death in 1631 and took 20,000 workmen until 1648 to complete.
Incorporating many elements of Islamic design including arches, minarets, an onion-shaped dome, and black calligraphy inlaid around the entrance, the Taj Mahal is largely constructed of white marble decorated with delicate inlaid floral patterns and precious and semi-precious stones such as jade, lapis lazuli, diamonds, and mother of pearl.
A major pilgrimage center for Hindus, the holy city of Varanasi has long been associated with the mighty Ganges River, one of the faith’s most important religious symbols. Dating back to the 8th century BC, Varanasi is one of the oldest still inhabited cities in the world.
It offers many reasons to visit, not least of them the chance to explore the Old Quarter adjacent to the Ganges where you’ll find the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, built in 1780 (the New Vishwanath Temple with its seven separate temples is also of interest).
Bathing in the Ganges is of great importance to Hindus, and numerous locations known as “ghats” feature stairways leading to the water where the faithful bathe before prayers.
Founded in 1577 by Ram Das, Amritsar is an important hub of Sikh history and culture. The main attraction here is Harmandir Sahib, opened in 1604 and still often referred to as the Golden Temple for its beautiful gold decoration. The holiest of India’s many Sikh shrines (it also attracts many Hindus and people of other faiths), the temple was built in a blend of Hindu and Islamic styles, its lower marble section featuring such flourishes as ornate inlaid floral and animal motifs, while the large golden dome represents a lotus flower, a symbol of purity to Sikhs.