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Margot B
Created byMargot B
Author of Moon Living Abroad in India and Moon Taj Mahal...

Once Upon a Time in India: A Few Thousand Years of Subcontinental History

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India is believed to have the world's oldest continuous civilization, and it's a dream destination for many a history buff. From old Moghul tombs and forts to ancient cave temples, India has more historical sites than you can fit into a single trip.

After spending three months galavanting across northern and southern India, I decided to pack up and move to Delhi, where I lived for five years. I spent many of my weekends exploring the country's historical sites and have picked a few of my absolute favorites for this guide. I've written about some of them in my  books Moon Living Abroad in India, and Moon Taj Mahal, Delhi & Jaipur and in Fodor's Essential India, which I co-authored; other's are personal favorites from areas outside of my typical North India beat.
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Taj Lake Palace

If you've seen the Bond film Octopussy, you may recognize the Taj Lake Palace. This stunning white marble luxury palace hotel stands in the middle of Udaipur's Lake Pichola, and is only accessible by boat. dates back to the 18th century when it was used as a summer home by the then maharaja. It was...

Umaid Bhawan Palace

There are few things I find more magical than getting to stay in a real palace! Part of this hotel is a tourist site, part of it is a luxury hotel, and part is still occupied by the Maharaja and his family. The food is excellent and the rooms are elegant, but my personal favorite thing about this place is its...

Golden Temple

In the heart of the Punjabi city of Amritsar, a stone's throw from the Pakistan border, the Golden Temple (officially the Harmandir Sahib) is one of the most sacred sites for adherents of Sikhism. The 16th century temple gets its nickname because of its golden facade, which was added in the early...

Fatehpur Sikri

Just outside of Agra (home to the Taj Mahal) the UNESCO World Heritage site of Fatehpur Sikri is on most visitors' to Agra's bucket list. This expansive city was built by Mughal Emperor Akbar in the 16th century out of red sandstone, and while it was abandoned not long after (likely due to a lack of...

Qutb Minar and its Monuments

One of Delhi's oldest historic sites, the Qutb Minar and its surrounding collection of monuments is well worth the trek down to South Delhi (especially now that it's easily accessed by metro). Here you'll find one of Delhi's iconic monuments, the Qutb itself, which at 72.5 meters high is the highest...

Taj Mahal

I spent a few days in Agra last autumn on a research trip and visited all the sites. The Taj is easy to spot from much of the town, and what I soon realized was that it was really hard to keep my eyes off of it every time it was in view. This building was built by Mughal Emporer Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz, who...

The Imperial Hotel

I love this elegant old place...it dates back to 1931, and it may very well be the oldest hotel in town. It certainly has all the "old world charm" you could ask for, plus courteous, non-intrusive staff and a few great restaurants, including an exceptional pan-Asian eatery. The pool is the best in...

The City Palace

If you want to see how the royals of Jaipur past and present live, head to the City Palace, which is still partially occupied by the city's royal family. The rest has been converted into a popular museum that showcases hundreds of years worth of paintings, weapons, and ornamental arts. The best part...

Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta Caves are collectively one of India's oldest and most awe-inspiring historic sites, with some historians dating parts of the complex back to the 2nd century BC. The caves are believed to have once formed a monastery and are noted for their remarkably well-preserved murals that depict...

Jantar Mantar

A beautiful collection of large astronomical instruments and sundials (one of five such in India). The Jantar Mantar was built in the 1720s-30s and was inspired by the Jantar Mantar of Delhi (although the Jaipur one is considerably larger and more impressive). There are tools here that can be used...