Taj Mahal, Agra, IndiaGianfranco Ferré Research Center, Politecnico di Milano
India is a vibrant country full of stunning architectural treasures, unforgettable scenery and a rich, colorful history waiting to be discovered. To inspire you to start exploring, here is a list of 11 incredible locations that you can discover right now.
2. Jantar Mantar
It might look like a large piece of modern art at first glance, but Jantar Mantar in New Delhi is an observatory consisting of 13 super-sized architectural astronomy instruments. In 1724, the Maharaja of Jaipur built five of these observatories around India to help understand astronomical phenomena and keep track of scientific data.
3. Humayun's Tomb
The Mughal empire reigned in India for over 300 years, and one of the most notable cultural legacies it left was a succession of elaborate burial tombs for its rulers and their wives. Humayun was the second of the Mughal emperors, and after his death in 1556 his widow Hamida Banu Begum spent nine years planning what would become the grandest tomb of its time.
4. Red Fort
In 1638 the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who you might know better as the commissioner of the Taj Mahal, moved the capital of his empire from Agra to Delhi. There he built himself an octogonal-shaped palace, known as the Red Fort. The world-famous Kohinoor diamond was supposedly kept here for many years as part of Shah Jahan’s jewelled Peacock Throne. The Fort remained the seat of the Empire for 200 years and nowadays, the complex is the centre of India’s Independence Day celebrations.
5. Qutub Minar
The Qutub Minar in Delhi is a 73-meter minaret that rises up next to the the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, the first mosque to be built in India. Building was begun in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak. His successor and son-in-law added 3 more storeys, but a lightning strike destroyed the top storey in 1369. While the damage was being repaired, a final extra storey was added in 1368 by Firoz Shah Tughlak.
Often described as the “Baby Taj”, the Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah is a Mughal-era mausoleum commissioned by the twentieth wife of emperor Jahangir, Nūr Jahān, for her father. It was the first Mughal structure to be built completely from marble, a change from the typically-used material of red sandstone, and began the trend of pietre dure: walls encrusted with decorations made from colored marbles and semi-precious stones. These gems gave the building the nickname of the “jewel box”.
7. Agra Fort
Before Shah Jahan moved it to Delhi, the capital of India was in Agra. This is where you’ll find Agra Fort, a 2.5km-long enclosed fortress that served as the imperial city of the Mughal rulers, built by emperor Akbar in 1654. As well as being a strategic military centre, it was also the royal residence, containing 500 smaller buildings inside its semi-circle walls. Some reports say there were once more than 1000 but Shah Jahan destroyed many to rebuild other buildings.
8. Fatehpur Sikri
Fatehpur Sikri, the “City of Victory” was the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585 and earned its name after Emperor Akbar’s conquest of the Gujarat Sultanate, an independent Indian kingdom. It was built on the spot of the village of Sikri, where Akbar had travelled to consult the Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chishti, who lived in a cavern on a ridge. The saint made a successful prophecy about the birth of Akbar’s heir, Jahangir, and to honor this Akbar built his new capital on the site of the village.
9. Mehtab Bagh
Just north of the Taj Mahal complex lies Mehtab Bagh, the last in a series of 11 charbagh-style gardens on the east bank on the Yamuna river. Built by Emperor Babur in the early 1500s, its name translates to “moonlit garden”, called so for the brightly-flowering plants that shone in the moonlight. Frequent floods and villagers removing building materials meant that the garden’s existence was almost forgotten by the 1990s, however it has since been restored.
10. Mariam Tomb
The Mughal emperor Jahangir commissioned this tomb for his mother, Mariam-uz-Zamani. The structure used for her resting place had previously been built in 1495 as a pleasure pavillion, or baradari, but it was remodelled into a tomb by building a crypt under the central compartment. The tomb is unique in Mughal architecture, as it is one of the tombs without domes on top, a style favoured by Jahangir.
11. Tomb of Akbar the Great
Before Emperor Akbar died, he planned his own tomb and selected where he would like it to stand. His son, Jahangir completed the construction of the sandstone mausoleum. Unlike other Muslim mausoleums, the head of the tomb is turned towards the rising sun, not towards Mecca. Unfortunately the tomb was ransacked and looted by Raja Ram Jat, who wished to avenge the death of his own father, but it has since been restored.