India is such an unique place to visit! It has about over 30 UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites across the country. Majestic Forts and Palaces are simply stunning and eye opening! I have explored Kashmir & Indian Golden Triangle which include Delhi, Agra & Jaipur during winter time. I think the best time to visit India in during year end, that way the weather is cooler and more fun to walk around!
Kashmir Srinagar -> Jaipur -> Agra -> Dehli
New Delhi -> Kashmir -Air IndiGo
Where to stay?
Houseboat at Dal Lake – simple facilities but good experience. There is no modern heater but old heater that used old charcoal where the captain of the boat will come in the middle of the night to add in the coal, don’t be alarm by the mysterious man in the dark. There is no lock in the room.
Where to visit in Kashmir?
1. Dal Lake -Jewel in the crown of Kashmir
Try Shikara ride – wooden boat in Dal Lake, explore inner Dal Lake and see how local life is like daily. You will see children in uniform riding smaller shikara to school, interesting to see their good skill in paddling the shikara boat.
2. Mughal Gardens Shalimar in Kashmir – UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t miss these things in Mughal Gardens Shalimar:
-The Famous 400 years old Chinar Trees
-The Marble Pavilion
-Try Traditional Dress in Kashmir – Phiran. Rental is available at Mughal Garden Shalimar.
What to buy in Kashmir?
- Kashmir’s Pashmina shawls
- Saffron Spice : Kashmir is one of the few places in the world that grows saffron.
- Kashmir papier-mache – local art work in Dal lake, there is one house factory in Dal Lake where you can access by boat and check out the rice paper art all made by local. Brilliant work and meanwhile you can help the people in Dal Lake by getting souvenirs there all 100% hand made and hand painting.
Special tips: Observe Muslim Adhan prayers! Prayers sing 5 times a day but try listen to the first Adhan, start around 5-6 am. Pretty cool and unexplained feeling – very smoothing and relaxing even for me a non-Muslim.
Gulmarg Ski Mountains is famous around the world, they have nice ski resort. It is as beautiful as the ski mountain in Switzerland. Use a good 4 wheel drive if possible to go up the mountain for better safety.
What to expect in Gulmarg Ski Mountain :
- Human Sledging – This is pretty interesting as the sledge is pull by man. Most of them are men from the village. You can try a small portion of ride by helping them to make a living.
- Try the ropeway/gondola to go further up! 2 Phase of Gondola Ride – Kungdoor and Aparwath
- Go spot : Line of Control/LoC Indian and Pakistan
- Look for Himalayan Panorama View
Kashmir is truly a paradise on earth, beside the scenery, you got to taste the strong Kashmiri cultures and people, which were immigrants from Turkey, Iran and Afghan settle at the valleys. The Phiran, the most eye-catching costume one I landed in Kashmir. I paused a while and thought I was in Afghanistan. Lady has more colorful while men wear darker color of phiran.
1. Amer Fort or Amber Fort & Maota Lake.
Go for an elephant Ride up Amer Fort is the best way to enter the Fort entrance, you will feel like a Maharaja King making your appearance in the Fort Palace. Pretty cool!
Things to spot in Amer Fort :
- Diwan-e-Aam at Amer Fort – Hall of Public Audience
- Ganesh Pol in Amer Fort
- Vegetable Dye Painting in Ganesh Pol at Amer Fort
- Suhag Mandir in Ganesh Pol at Amer Fort – peeping windows
- Sheesh Mahal – Magic in Glass Palace at Amer Fort. Remember to light a lighter to see the “magic” in Glass Palace.
- Sukh Niwas in Amer Fort – check out the natural air-con system in King’s resting palace
- Giant Wok in Amer Fort
2. Jal Mahal – Water Palace
Water Palace is unique as it was in the middle of Man Segar Lake. No longer able to access but you can watch it from afar. It was used as a duck hunting resting place for the royal family. Total five floors but only the top floor can be seen above the water, the first four floors are submerged in water. Fishes can live in the first four floors.
3. Hawa Mahal – Palace of Wind
Hawa Mahal is also known as palace of wind because it is very windy place to live as there are many windows. Total of 953 windows big and small for curious women (maids or royal princesses) who like to peep from inside to check out the men who walk on the street. Royal princesses are not suppose to show their faces to the public long time ago. This is one of the iconic landmark painted in pink in Jaipur!
Other things to explore :
- Textile factory – if you like to buy a sari and see how their make textile
- Go spot snake charmer blowing his pungi & his dancing snake – can be seen outside Hawa Mahal
1.City Palace Jaipur
2. Mubarak Mahal at City Palace Jaipur
– things to see in Mubarak Mahal
- The King’s Clothes
- Diwan-i-Khas – Hall of Private Audience
- Biggest Silver Jar in the World
- Pritam Niwa – Gate with 4 seasons 4 colors 4 Gods
- Chandra Mahal
3. Jantar Mantar – King’s Playground, also world’s largest stone sundial/sun clock. See the brilliant ideas in this Unesco site.
Other things you may want to see – Indian traditional dance.
1. Fatehpur Sikri – City of Victory
Emperor Akbar built these stunning palaces in Fatehpur Skiri for his three wives who were all from different religion, Hindu, Muslim and Christian, hence you can see the fusion of architecture here.
Things to spot in Fatephur Sikri :
- Diwan-I-Khas – Hall of Private Audience in Fatehpur Sikri
- Lotus pillar at Fatephur Sikri
- Red sandstone
- Panch Mahal at Fatehpur Sikri
2. Agra Fort also known as Red Fort
The appearance of the Fort is red as most part of the palace used red sandstone. However some part was added with white marble at the far back because the fort later pass down to Shah Jahan, the marble lovers who built Taj Mahal. When Shah Jahan took over the Agra Fort from the previous Maharaja, he added in white marble in some of the buildings in fort.
Things to spot in Agra Fort :
- Amar Singh Gate
- Jahangir Palace
- Alvin and the Chipmunk friends
- Diwan I Am (Hall of Public Audience)
- Golden Pavilion
- Prison for Shah Jahan till his final day – He was locked by his son in this prison where he can watch Taj Mahal everyday from the window the prison.
3. Taj Mahal – Jewel of the Palace
Taj Mahal symbolize love and romance. It is also one of the seven wonders of the world and also a symbol for the whole Indian nation.
Things you should spot and note while in Taj Mahal :
- Calligraphy on the wall before entering the tomb in Taj Mahal
- Check out the 4 Minarets that support Taj Mahal
- Experience the Taj Mahal Optical trick – The first view of the monument is framed by the main gate when you enter. Pay attention at the entrance. As you move closer, the Taj Mahal seems to get smaller. It seems to grow bigger as you walk away. (refer to picture above)
You may like to explore Marble factory nearby and get a marble souvenir.
Things to do in Delhi :
- India Gate
- Lotus Temple Delhi
- Qutub Minar
- Check out the shopping mall in New Dehli
Go try all different kind of Indian cuisine – Naan, Chapati, Pakora, Tandoori chicken, Chana masal , Chaat Papri & Butter chicken. But always drink water from the bottles only.
Kashmir Srinagar -> Jaipur -> Agra -> Dehli
If you like to read about each city in details, please click on the underline link above.