Travel guide: 9 top places to see in India

Joshua Berida
Travel guide: 9 top places to see in India
Here's what you can see in India aside from the Taj Mahal and the famous pink city

India is a fascinating country of extremes, beauty, poverty, history and culture. As you may have heard or read before, it can be an attack on the senses on a literal and figurative level. It’s one of those places you’ll have a love-hate relationship with. However, it’s also the kind of place that grows on you when you finally get to peel off the layers.

Places to See

India is a huge country that is different from place to place, some parts may be cold during one part of the year, while another might be summery. Some of the architecture and culture may be the same in one region, but completely different in another. Exploring this country is an adventure in itself. Here are some of the places I’d recommend visiting during your trip.

  • Agra

When one hears or reads about Agra, they automatically think of the Taj Mahal, which is one of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks and structures in India. It comes as no surprise that this UNESCO Heritage Site is usually on many people’s lists of places to visit in the country. Its majestic white color and intricate designs are picture perfect from any angle, despite the crowds that come and go.

MAJESTIC. Despite the fog during my visit, Taj Mahal managed to look just as majestic as I thought it would.

Another noteworthy attraction near the Taj is Agra Fort, a UNESCO Heritage-listed site that dates back to the 11th century. You can avail of a combined ticket to visit both attractions for 1000 Indian Rupees (INR) per person. 

FORT. Agra Fort is one of the many forts in the country that housed royalty and is often the center of power.

  • Delhi

Delhi is a crazy beautiful city, with some parts affluent, while others look like they’ve been left behind in another epoch. This metropolis is a collision of contradiction – it’s very modern yet has an old soul because of its rich history and culture. You can see people using motorized carts for moving their wares and tuktuks, mixed with the latest model of Toyota, and modern buildings side-by-side with decades or even centuries-old monuments. 

ART OF HISTORY. Delhi is an interesting city as old and even ancient structures stand side by side with modern ones.

One of the attractions in the city is the Red Fort; a huge complex that served as the residence of the Mughal emperors for around two centuries. It accommodated royalty and is the ceremonial and political center of power during the rule of the Mughal dynasty. There is an entrance fee of INR 250 for the Red Fort. 

BACK IN TIME. Red Fort is one of the most important landmarks in Delhi as it reminds visitors of its rich history.

The ancient ruins of Qutub Minar are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and are one of the noteworthy places to visit in Delhi. This site’s tower is 72.5 meters high and has more than 300 steps; its construction dates back to 1193. You have to pay a fee of INR 250 to enter the complex.

ANCIENT. Walking around Qutub Minar will take you back in time.

  • Jaipur

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and is its biggest city; it is also called the Pink City because of the distinctly pink tinge of the buildings in one part of the bustling metropolis. There are also quite a number of attractions in and outside the city.

CHAOS. Jaipur is a living and breathing metropolis, and what makes it unique is the distinctly pink-tinged buildings, hence the moniker 'Pink City.'

Hawa Mahal is one of the most iconic structures in Jaipur; also known as the “Palace of Winds” this magnificent building was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. The creators got their inspiration for the design from the crown of Krishna. 

ARCHITECTURAL FEAT. The Hawa Mahal's exterior is an architectural feat and is one of the main attractions in Jaipur.

Rajasthan is famous for its forts and palaces; the City Palace is one such place to explore. This majestic complex is at the heart of the metropolis, it includes the Mubarak Mahal, Diwan-I-Kas, and the Chandra Mahal just to name a few. 

PALACE. The City Palace houses a number of unique structures that will bring out the design geek in you.

Jantar Mantar is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Jaipur. Simply put, it is one big clock. This complex is a group of astronomical instruments used by ancient Indians. There are 14 geometric devices in the observatory that predict eclipses, track the locations of stars, and measure time just to name a few.

TELLING TIME. Jantar Mantar is a unique complex because ancient Indians that lived in the area used it to to measure time among other things.

Amer or Amber Fort is a majestic and imposing structure in Jaipur built by Raja Man Singh. The huge complex has a beautiful courtyard, places of worship, towering gates, intricate designs on walls and marble structures. 

IMPOSING. Amer or Amber Fort is an imposing structure that was the center of power and line of defense in ancient times.


SPECTACULAR. Once you climb up the stairs to make it to the viewing spots in Amer Fort, you get to see beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.

RELIVE THE PAST. Amber Fort's massive courtyards and buildings make you realize how affluent and influential the Maharajas were during their heyday.

MUSICAL. To add to the ambiance, musicians dressed in traditional garb, play music in Amber Fort

Buy the composite ticket that costs INR 400 because it includes a combination of attractions such as the Amber Fort, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal and the Albert Hall Museum.

  • Varanasi

Varanasi is an ancient city that has centuries of history; it is also an assault on the senses, as you will see cows wandering about, corpses by the river and rituals happening by the Ganges. The latter flows through Bangladesh and India; it is also a sacred river to the Hindus. The Hindus worship the river as the goddess Ganga in their religion. It is not just a sacred river; the Ganges sustains the locals as it is a main water source.

CREMATIONS. It is a local practice to cremate loved ones and holy men along the ghats and spray their ashes on the Ganges.


LOCAL LIFE. Locals live off the Ganges to support their way of life and is an integral part of their daily routine.

OFFERINGS. Locals leave offerings along the river as a sign of respect and worship.

Sarnath Temple is a noteworthy day trip from Varanasi as it is the place where Buddha delivered his first sermon. The complex has a number of significant stupas in a ruinous state, some of which include the Chaukhandi, Dhamek, and Dharmarajika. Buddhists from different parts of the world visit Sarnath for their pilgrimage. There is an entrance fee of INR 100 for the temple.

PILGRIMAGE. Many Buddhists go on a pilgrimage to Sarnath to fulfill their religious obligations.

BUDDHISM. For Buddhists, a visit to Sarnath near Varanasi is a must because it is where Buddha preached his first discourse.

These are just some of the places to see while in India, it is a big and diverse country that changes its landscape, culture and history once you move from one region to another.

How much will you spend?

India is a backpacker’s dream destination, because it is affordable and in some cases, might even be cheaper than other Southeast Asian Countries. On average, you will spend somewhere between P800 to P1000 per day, and in some cases, you might spend even less. Accommodation is cheap, even if you stay in a nice hostel, the price for a dorm bed is around P300 to P500 per night. I’ve heard there are cheaper rooms available, if you look hard enough. There were some non-negotiables for me when it came to choosing a place to stay, and these included a decent common area and wi-fi. Cheaper accommodations may not have internet or have a poor connection.

Food in India is cheap, especially if you eat at food stalls or local restaurants. There are meals for P40 to P50 or even less. Some meals can cost you around P150 to P200, but the servings are large and may even be good enough for two people, depending on appetite. 

One of your biggest expenses during your trip is the attractions, as these can eat into your budget. Some examples include the pricey combination ticket for the Taj Mahal and Agra fort which is approximately P760 per person. Make a list of the places you want to visit and cross out which ones you think you can do without.

Another major expense when traveling around India is transportation. Some cities have metro lines that make it cheap and convenient to visit spots around the city, these are really cheap at around INR 10 to INR 15, which is approximately P8 to P12 even if you’re destination station is far. Long distance and/or overnight train rides are part of the experience when traveling around India. The cabins have tiers with corresponding prices; from the cheapest hard seats to pricier ones, where seats are converted into beds with linen, pillow, blanket, and even a curtain. Higher tiered cabins can cost you around P1000 one way, while cheaper classes are cheap at approximately P130 one way depending on distance. Booking tickets in advance (weeks or months ahead) is advisable since train tickets, especially higher tiered ones, sell out quickly; checkout when you book. –

Joshua Berida is a full time writer, part-time wanderer with insatiable wanderlust. He plans his next trip during a current one. He plans on exploring the Philippines and beyond. Read about his adventures on

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