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Last updated : Nov 2009
North India
North India - TravelPuppy.com
Delhi

Delhi is split into two parts: New Delhi, is India’s capital and the seat of government. It's a modern city, with spacious parks, wide tree-lined boulevards, and the characteristic style of ‘Lutyens’ architectural design; ‘Old’ Delhi, on the other hand, is a city several hundred years old, teeming with narrow winding streets, mosques, temples, and bazaars.

Not to be missed sites include the Red Fort and the nearby Jama Masjid (India’s largest mosque) both constructed in the mid-seventeenth century in the prime of the Moghul Empire. Also noteworthy is the Qutab Minar’s soaring tower erected in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din following the defeat of Delhi's last Hindu kingdom. At the foot of the tower is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque constructed in the same period using stone taken from destroyed Hindu temples.

Delhi draws the best musicians and dancers providing a perfect opportunity to hear the sitar, sarod and the subtle rhythm of the tabla, and also to see a wide variety of dance forms, each with its own costumes and intricate language of gestures. Theatres and cinemas screen films from all over India, and the city boasts some of the country’s finest restaurants offering numerous styles of regional cuisine.

Uttar Pradesh

To the east of Delh lies the state of Uttar Pradesh, through which flows the sacred River Ganges. Constructed along its bank is the spectacular city of Varanasi, India’s holiest Hindu location. The town itself is a maze of winding streets, with many shrines and temples. Along the river is a series of ghats, which at dawn, are thriving with pilgrims and holy men performing ritual ablutions and prayers.

Delhi sits at the apex of the ‘Golden Triangle’ – an area teeming with ancient monuments and sites. In the southeast lies Agra, city of the fabled Taj Mahal. This spectacular mausoleum was constructed by Shah Jahan as a monument to his wife, Mumtaz, who died giving birth 1631. Shah Jahan was later sent to prison by his own son in the nearby Red Fort, another popular attraction, whose massive red sandstone walls extend over 65 feet high and measure 1.5 miles in circumference.

Additional landmarks are Akbar’s Palace, the Jahangir Mahal, the Pearl Mosque, and the octagonal tower Mussumman Burj. One hour outside Agra is Fatehpur Sikri, the town built by Akbar as his new capital but deserted after only a few years. This town is now only a ghost town but is definitely worth a visit if you have time.

Rajasthan

The southwest of the triangle is Jaipur, a gateway to the desert state of Rajasthan. Named the ‘Pink City’ because of the distinctive color of its buildings painted for the visit of Britain's Prince of Wales in 1853. Jaipur is a town of broad, open avenues and numerous palaces. The Amber Palace, just outside the city is impressive, and the facade of the Palace of the Winds inside the city walls is an essential photo opportunity. Also worth visiting is Jai Singh’s City Palace and the Jantar Mantar Observatory.

To the southwest sits the most romantic city in Rajasthan, Udaipur, constructed around the charming Lake Pichola and is famous for its Lake Palace Hotel; it has been designated the 'Venice of the East'. To the north, in the middle of the Rajasthan desert, is Jodhpur, with its colorful, winding lanes and towering fortress.

Near Ajmer is the small lakeside town of Pushkar. It is a place of religious significance for Hindus and it is here that every November the spectacular Camel Fair is held. Jaisalmer is an attractive oasis town, once a stop over on the old caravan route to Persia. Its attractions include the camel treks out into the surrounding desert.

Madhya Pradesh

South of the ‘Golden Triangle’ is the huge state of Madhya Pradesh. Its most popular attractions lie near the northern frontier. Less than 160 kilometres (100 miles) away Agra is the grand ruined fortress at Gwalior. To the east lies Khajuraho with its famous temples and friezes of sensuously depicted figures – not to be missed.

Himachal Pradesh

About 320km (200 miles) north of Delhi is Shimla, the greatest of all hill stations, surrounded by scented pine forests and the lush beauty of the Kulu Valley.

Jammu and Kashmir

In the far north, stretching into Central Asia is the far reaching mountain region of Kashmir, previously a popular summer resort (visitors are now recommended to seek government advice prior to visiting this area), and the valley of the River Jhelum. The gateway to the region is Jammu, a town surrounded by hills and lakes. The temples of Rambireshwar and Raghunath are among its most note worthy sights.

Jammu is the railhead for Srinagar, the ancient Kashmir capital , and popular resort of the Mughal emperors. It was they who constructed the many gardens and waterways gardens around Lake Dal, highlighting the natural splendor of the area. Attractions include the houseboats where visitors can stay on the lakes surrounded by scenery so beautiful it is known as ‘paradise on earth’.

Srinagar is also a convenient starting point for journeys to Gulmarg and Pahalgam. Gulmarg has superb trout fishing, and the distinction of having the highest golf course in the world. From here there are fine views of Nanga Parbat, among the highest mountains in the world. It is an ideal place from which to take treks into the hills and mountains. Pahalgam is another well known hill resort and base for pilgrimages to the sacred cave of Amar Nath.

More exotic, though not as easily accessible, is the region of Ladakh, beyond the Kashmir Valley. It is a mountainous region on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, which is still mainly Tibetan in character. The capital, Leh, is located high in the Karakouram mountain range, through which passed the old Silk Road from China to India and Europe.
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