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Things to Do in India - page 4

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Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram)
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A complex of stone temples are all that remain of the eighth-century Pallava dynasty that once thrived at Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram), on the coast south of Chennai. Learn the history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, visit the charming town, and relax on a sandy stretch of shore—all accessible on a day trip from Chennai.

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St. Catherine’s Cathedral (Sé Cathedral)
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The largest church in Goa and the seat of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, this huge white Portuguese Gothic structure was constructed from 1562 to 1619 to commemorate a Portuguese military victory over Goa that was won on the feast of Saint Catherine. Inside, images of the saint adorn the cathedral walls.

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Chowmahalla Palace
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Once the epicenter of Hyderabad, 18th-century Chowmahalla Palace was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and the site where the nizams (monarchs) lavishly entertained esteemed guests. It features a unique blend of various architectural styles and influences, including Mughal domes and Persian-influenced stucco work.

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Red Fort (Lal Qila)
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The UNESCO World Heritage–listed Red Fort (Lal Qila) traces its roots back to the middle of the 17th century, when Mughal Emperor Shahjahan moved his base from Agra to Delhi. For the two centuries that followed, this gargantuan sandstone complex served as the royal residence of the Mughal Empire. Today, it’s one of the city’s most popular attractions, often visited in tandem with nearby Chandni Chowk.

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Sajjangarh Palace (Monsoon Palace)
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Sajjangarh Palace (known as the Monsoon Palace) is set on a hilltop with fantastic city views. It was originally built as a getaway during the monsoon season and as an astrological center, but the latter project was never finished. The palace has also been used as a royal hunting lodge, and even appeared in the James Bond film Octopussy.

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Jama Masjid (Masjid e Jahan Numa)
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Old Delhi’s Jama Masjid(Masjid e Jahan Numa) is the largest mosque in India and an unmissable stop on any Delhi itinerary. Built between 1644 and 1658 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the mosque’s red sandstone and white marble domes, minarets, gateways, and arches are both grand in scale and elegance. Devout Muslims still come here to pray five times a day, while travelers stop by to marvel over the details.

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Saheliyon Ki Bari
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Well-kept grounds, beautiful fountains, a small museum and towering marble elephants are just part of what makes Saheliyon Ki Baria destination for travelers visiting Udaipur. Its unique history adds to the wonder of this enchanted city escape, since these quiet lotus pools, open pavilions and lush landscapes were originally created as respite for a group of 48 women who traveled with a princess to the city as a part of her marriage dowry. Today, visitors can wander the grounds where queens once watched dancers perform and explore the famous fountains that shower natural lake water in a landscape that visitors describe as almost rainforest-like. Be sure to pack a camera. Despite some noted maintenance needs, Saheliyon Ki Bari remains a picture-perfect destination.

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Elliot's Beach (Besant Nagar Beach)
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Known alternatively as Besant Nagar Beach, or “Bessie” for short, Elliot's Beach sits at the south end of the Marina Beach shore. A former expatriate enclave during Chennai’s colonial era, today the beach attracts throngs of twentysomethings, as well as families looking to avoid the crowds at the more popular Marina Beach.

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Tomb of I'timad-ud-Daulah
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Known locally as “Baby Taj,” the Tomb of I'timad-ud-Daulah is a gorgeous white structure that actually predates the larger and more famous Taj Mahal by a few years. It was the first Mughal building created entirely in marble, and its existence marks the transition from sandstone to marble in Mughal architecture.

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Fateh Sagar Lake
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This manmade lake in the city of Udaipur is a destination for both locals and travelers looking to escape the energy of busy city streets. Home to three small islands, including Nehru Park, the picturesque blue waters and majestic green mountains serve as a breathtaking backdrop to this quiet respite. Visitors can navigate the calm lake aboard tiny motorboats, which carry travelers to the each of the small islands. Nehru remains the most popular, thanks to a well-kept garden, boat-shaped restaurant and a slightly lackluster zoo. The Udaipur Solar Observatory, ranked top solar observing site in all of Asia, is located on one of the lake’s other islands and draws tourists eager to check out the sky, the sun and the stars.

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More Things to Do in India

Hazarduari Palace Museum

Hazarduari Palace Museum

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Constructed in the early 19th century by British architect Duncan Macleod, Hazarduari Palace is a gargantuan palace museum that showcases a variety of historic relics and art. It’s worth visiting for the grand architecture alone, though the interiors reveal a fine collection of royal treasures, from old weaponry to European oil paintings.

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Eden Gardens

Eden Gardens

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Named after the gardens that lay beyond it, Eden Gardens is a cricket ground in Kolkata that’s home to the Bengal cricket team and the Kolkata Knight Riders. It’s also the venue for international cricket matches and is the largest cricket stadium in India in terms of seating capacity.

Established in 1864, Eden Gardens has since become one of the most iconic cricket stadiums in the world. Following renovations for the Cricket World Cup in 2011, the stadium seats over 90,000 spectators (a capacity actually lower than before the upgrade).

Within the grounds, the gardens themselves feature a picturesque lake with a tiny Burmese pagoda at its center. It’s a peaceful spot that’s well worth a stroll around on a visit to the stadium.

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Kapaleeshwarar Temple

Kapaleeshwarar Temple

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Chennai’s most famous temple, the 7th-century Kapaleeshwar Temple honors the god Shiva with shrines dedicated to many other deities in the South Indian pantheon. The working temple offers a good example of classical Dravidian architecture, with a stepped pyramid design blanketed in colorful statues of gods, demons, warriors and royalty.

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Marina Beach

Marina Beach

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Stretching around 8 miles (13 kilometers) along Chennai, Marina Beach is India’s longest natural urban beach. While not an ideal swimming beach, Marina Beach makes an excellent spot for people watching in the cooler hours of the morning and evening, when the main stretch near Triplicane becomes a flurry of activity.

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Marine Drive

Marine Drive

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Stretching along the Arabian Sea in the southern part of Mumbai, Marine Drive is a two-mile-long promenade and road with lovely sea views. The buildings flanking this stretch are also worth checking out; the only place on earth with more beach-facing art deco buildings than Marine Drive is Miami.

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Kumbhalgarh Fort

Kumbhalgarh Fort

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Kumbhalgarh Fort is an enormous citadel situated deep in the desert outside of Udaipur. It was built in the 15th century and took over a decade to complete—unsurprising given that its walls stretch some 22 miles (35.4 kilometers) in total. Second in length only to the Great Wall of China, it is sometimes dubbed the "Great Wall of India."

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Laad Bazaar (Choodi Bazaar)

Laad Bazaar (Choodi Bazaar)

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One of the oldest markets in Hyderabad, Laad Bazaar (also called Choodi Bazaar) has long been known for its bangles. Long before the city became a hive of business activity, the bangle industry emerged here, and it still thrives today: Locals and tourists come from far and wide to browse the market’s colorful creations.

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Thanjavur Royal Palace and Museum

Thanjavur Royal Palace and Museum

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The Royal Palace of Thanjavur was built by the Nayak rulers after they took control of the city in 1535 but was added onto by the Maratha rulers during their rule from 1676 to 1855. The result is a sprawling complex in various states of upkeep. Several areas of the palace are open to visitors in three different ticketed areas.

Just past the ticket office lies the Royal Palace Museum, where ceremonial costumes, weaponry and a few sculptures are on display. The Maharaja Serfoji Memorial Hall commemorates the Maratha scholar-king of the same name, while the Mahratta Dharbar Hall was where the Maratha rulers gave audience — you can still see their portraits behind the dais.

Two of the highlights of the palace complex are the Sarawasti Mahal Library Museum and the Art Gallery. The former displays pieces from Serfoji II’s collection of books, manuscripts and naturalist paintings of Indian plants and animals, while the latter houses a magnificent collection of bronze (mostly Chola) and stone carvings.

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Gangtok

Gangtok

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Gangtok, the largest town and capital of the Indian state of Sikkim, got its start as a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the mid-nineteenth century, but today, it’s better known as a jumping off point for treks in the surrounding Himalayan mountains.

Much like Darjeeling, Gangtok descends in steep tiers down a mountain ridge, with views of towering Khangchendzonga to the West. At first glance, there isn’t much to the city as far as attractions go, but visitors often find themselves lingering, entranced by the laid-back vibe and local culture of the very clean and very well laid out town.

Most of Gangtok’s notable sites are of the religious variety, including the Enchey Monastery, the Rumtek Monastery (one of Buddhism’s most sacred), the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and the Thakurbari Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Ganpati and Hanuman.

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Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya

Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya

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Situated on a quiet, leafy street, the Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya occupies an old home where Gandhi would stay during his frequent trips to Mumbai from 1917 to 1934. Today it's one of many Gandhi museums spread across India that serve to educate the public about the mahatma and his mission.

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St. Mary’s Church

St. Mary’s Church

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Located within the walls of Fort St. George, St. Mary’s Church is the oldest masonry building within the fort. This small church was consecrated in 1680 and was likely the first Anglican church in Asia. It’s also the oldest remaining English church in India. Work began on the church in 1678 on Our Lady’s Day, giving it its current name.

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Vidhana Soudha

Vidhana Soudha

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The Vidhana Soudha houses the legislature of the state of Karnataka and is the biggest legislative building in India. This imposing building is made of granite in a neo-Dravidian style with a few Indo-Saracenic architectural elements thrown in, such as its golden dome.

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Chandni Chowk

Chandni Chowk

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One of India’s oldest markets, Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk (Hindi for moonlight square) is a perpetually busy area filled with narrow, congested lanes, each specializing in a different product such as spices, jewelry, hardware, and stationery. It’s also a great spot to practice your haggling skills—and the photo opportunities are extraordinary.

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Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri

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Built by Emperor Akbar in the 1570s, the UNESCO-listed Fatehpur Sikri—which means “City of Victory”—was the capital of the Mughal Empire for about 10 years. Today, a well-preserved collection of monuments, palaces, temples, and mosques remains, in a uniform red sandstone architectural style.

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