This is not your usual guide to India, which directs you to Taj Mahal, the Golden Triangle and Goa. I am not saying these places are not worth visiting -they are- but my goal is to show the richness of India by introducing diversified, less obvious places to visit. Namaste!
My Top Ten of India (in alphabetical order):
1. Badami (Karnataka). Why? The capital of the Chalukya Kings during the 6th-7th centuries. Stunning cave temples dedicated to Hinduism and Jainism. Badami is also a small, pleasant and rather green town.
2. Chettinad (Tamil Nadu). Why? Chettinad is a region and its capital is Karaikudi. It is the home to Nagarathars, people renowned for their financial and banking skills, who migrated to South and Southeast Asia in the 19th and 20th century. With the money they made abroad, many splendid mansions were built in Chettinad, making the region an architectural pearl. Moreover, Chettinad is famous for its distinctive, delicious cuisine.
3. Ellora (Maharashtra). Why? A group of rock-cut temples devoted to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. A UNESCO World Heritage site. The most famous temple Kailasanatha, built in the 8th century, was carved from one rock, hence a true architectural masterpiece.
4. Hampi (Karnataka). Why? Another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The capital of the Vijayanagara empire in the 14th-17th century. Impressive Hindu temples scattered around a huge terrain. Do not miss the Elephant stables!
5. Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh). Why? A crazy, noisy and polluted city. Closest I have been to Pakistan (what I imagine Pakistan to be like). At the same time, Hyderabad is amazing and fascinating!! The world’s Biryani capital. Excellent Biryanis.
6. Kannur (Kerala). Why? Not many people have heard of Kannur, but if you want to see the famous Theyyam performance-ritual, this is the town where you will be based. Theyyam is more than 2000 years old and a definite must see. (Note: I had hard time choosing between Kochi and Kannur, but chose Kannur because Theyyams are less known than Kochi)
7. Mamallapuram (Tamil Nadu). Why? Built in the 7th century by a Pallava King, Mamallapuram is an other fantastic UNESCO World Heritage site. Elements of Dravidianism, Buddhism and Hinduism. Stunning monolithic rock carvings and sculpted reliefs. For elephant lovers.
8. Shekhawati (Rajasthan). Why? Located on an old trade route, Shekhawati region is another architectural pearl, full of spectacular merchants’ and industrialists’ houses. These houses are real storyboards and their frescoes tell a story of the late 19th century industrialization. Read more: Shekhawati: the Haveli Hub
9. Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh). Why? Tirupati is your base for visiting the Shri Venkateshvara Temple located in the Tirumala Hills. One of the most important Hindu pilgrimage site in India. In the league of Vatican and Mecca in the global context. Talking about the power of religion.
What is your favorite place in India and for what reason? And if you haven’t yet been to India, then what would be your top three places to go to?
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