1/ Hampi, Karnataka
The city of Hampi is the kind of place where you can’t open your eyes without seeing history. Wonderous monuments are everywhere and the more you explore, the more you find.
The site of the ancient Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar, Hampi is a rich mix of temple and palace ruins dating back to the 16th century.
Nestled on the bank of the river Tungabhadra and surrounded by banana groves, spending a few days relaxing in Hampi makes it seem like you are in another world.
If you are feeling adventurous, hire a motor bike – the ruins are spread out over more than 30km so a motorbike makes seeing them all much easier. If you can handle the humidity, hire a push bike, although it may not be that relaxing!
2/ The caves of Badami, Karnataka
Not far from Hampi lies the town of Badami, capital city of the Chalukya Empire from 543AD to 757AD. Badami is a small town- unlike Hampi, you don’t really see many tourists there so it is the perfect place to get emersed in the culture of southern India.
Not far from the town centre lies the Badami caves, home to the Badami cave temples. Today they are guarded by a troupe of monkeys.
A sign leading up to the temple warns you to Beware of monkey menace but it’s not just at the temples that you must beware. Indeed – they seem to be everywhere around the temples and the town, taking pleasure in standing in wait for those coming off the trains who may drop their guard long enough for a monkey to pinch their food.
Visit the cave temples and remember to walk round the Agastya Lake. Here you will see ladies washing their clothes, just a couple of hundred metres form another group of ancient temples – the Bhutanatha Temple Group.
3/ The Taj Mahal, Agra
If you only think you’ll make it to India once in your lifetime, your trip would not be complete without a visit to the Taj Mahal.
Probably the most famous site in India, the Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan as a tomb for his wife Arjumand Bann Begun, who died shortly after giving birth to their 14th child.
There’s lots else to see and do in the city of Agra where the Taj Mahal is situated, but if you only have a little time to spare, you can easily take a day trip by train from Delh with the journey being a little over two hours each way.
4/ The Ghandi Memorial Museum, Delhi
India has a wealth of very ancient history, but if you want to learn a little about India’s modern history, a visit to the Gandhi Memorial Museum in Delhi is a must.
The museum hosts some of Gandhi’s clothes, writings and photographs and although very ‘raw’ and not as a hi-tech as some museums in the UK (thank goodness – I hate museums which may as well be reclassified as theme parks!), it provides a fascinating insite into one of the 20th century’s most influential men in the world.
Across the road from the museum lies Raj Ghat – the final resting place of Ghandi. The peaceful shrine which is situated in beautiful gardens is definitely worth a visit.
5/ Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
The Hawa Mahal is probably the most iconic building in Jaipur. Much photographed, the building which is otherwise known as the Palace of the Winds, stands to the east of the City Palace.
Built in 1799, it allowed the women of the palace to watch street prosecutions while remaining in Purdah (in other words unseen) from behind the beautiful facade.
Climbing up the inside of the building, the Hawa Mahal is the perfect place to look down upon the crazyness and manic mayhem of Jaipur below.