India has a rich historical past as the many rulers who ruled over the land erected numerous architectural gems all over the country. With gorgeous architecture and detailed embellishments, these India landmarks represent the multi-faceted culture of the nation exceptionally well.
Besides being architectural marvels, most of these famous landmarks in India are excellent samples of the bravery, artistry, romance, mystery and skillfulness of the people of India. They have been standing tall for hundreds of years and have witnessed the past and present of the country.
Not only this, they serve as the muses for the current generation of architecture enthusiasts. The people of India take pride in these fantastic landmarks that are part of their home cities as well. India is also one of the cheapest countries to visit in Asia, which means it's suitable for a variety of travellers.
Though there are hundreds of noteworthy monuments located in different parts of the country, here is a comprehensive list of the top 30 Indian landmarks that you must not miss while visiting the country.
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Using the map of India, you can explore all the landmarks.
The first thing that comes to a visitor’s mind when they think about India is, undoubtedly, the Taj Mahal. Located in the city of Agra, it is an architectural masterpiece made completely with white marble.
One of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal is definitely on the bucket list of must-visit places for numerous people from around the world.
The construction of the Taj Mahal completed in 1648, and since then, it continues to be one of the most important monuments in the country.
Not only this, the heart-touching story behind the construction of this gorgeous monument incites the urge to visit this symbol of undying love even further.
India Gate – the most renowned landmark in Delhi is a stunning archway built as a heartfelt tribute to the brave soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for the country.
Made up of sandstone, the 42-meter high structure has inscriptions of the names of 13,516 brave soldiers who were martyred during the Afghan War of 1919, as well as the 90,000 soldiers who were killed in World War I.
The base of the monument is made using red Bharatpur stones. The structure was designed after taking inspiration from Arc-de-Triomphe in France.
The monument is surrounded by well-maintained lawns which serve as a popular picnic spot amongst families. The best time to visit is during the night when India Gate is bathed in soft golden lights glistening against the dark star-less sky.
The Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi serves as the official residence for the President of India. It comprises of 340 rooms in the main building and is spread across a total area of 5 acres. It is built on an estate covering 330 acres and is the largest residential premises of any Head of the State in the world.
Conceptualized and designed by famous architects Herbert Baker and Sir Edwin Lutyens, this majestic piece of architecture was completed in 1929. It now serves as a grandiose symbol, everything that India stands for.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan or President’s House in India has multi-dimensional grandeur. This 340 rooms building has simply breathtaking architecture. More than this, it is has marked its existence in the records for being the residence of the President of the largest democracy in the world. It is a fact that quite a few official residential premises of the Head of the State in the world will match the Rashtrapati Bhavan in terms of its size, vastness and its magnificence.
The premises are divided into 3 distinct circuits and can only be accessed by authorized visitors during specific times of the day. The Main Building along with the Central Lawn make up the first circuit, whereas the second circuit comprises of the Rashtrapati Bhawan Museum and few other building.
The final circuit is formed by the spectacular Mughal Gardens which is adorned with gorgeous seasonal flowers and lush greenery. The garden opens for visitors during the Spring season for a few days, giving visitors an amazing opportunity to marvel as the spectacular sight that is the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The Red Fort is considered to be the most prominent historical monument in old Delhi. Constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1639, it was built when the kingdom decided to shift its capital from Agra to Delhi.
During that time, it was used as the primary residence by the Mughal emperors. As the name suggests, it is made using red sandstones and imbibes an impregnable charm.
Besides serving as the official residence for the Mughal dynasty, it also served the purpose of a political centre and ceremonial ground for the Mughal state.
Today, the Red Fort houses various museums and is the place where the Prime Minister of India unfurls the national flag on Independence Day every year.
The Bahai Temple in New Delhi, popularly known as the Lotus Temple, is an amazing example of modern architecture in the country. One of the top architectural marvels in India in modern times, this gorgeous white marble structure is considered to be Taj Mahal of 20th century.
The Lotus Temple attracts millions of people from around the world for meditation, peace, study and prayers. Located in the capital city, this temple is unlike any other place of worship as it doesn’t house an idol of a deity.
It is renowned for its beautiful flower-like architecture and the peaceful ambience it offers to the visitors. It welcomes people of all faiths and is considered to be one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the world.
Qutb al-Din Aibak built a 73-meter tall tower of victory, the Qutub Minar right after the defeat of the last Hindu kingdom in Delhi. Constructed in 1193, the tower comprises of 5 different storeys, each with a separate projecting balcony.
The tower tapers from its base with 15 meters diameter to 2.5 meters diameter at the top. The top 2 storeys are made up of sandstone and marble, whereas the bottom three storeys are made using red sandstone.
The foot of the tower houses the very first mosque built in India – the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. The complex also houses a 7-meter high iron pillar. It is believed that if one can encircle the pillar with his/her hands, their wish would be fulfilled.
The epitome of Indian culture, architecture and spirituality, the Akshardham Temple is a world-renowned spiritual and cultural complex. It is dedicated to Lord Swaminarayan and holds the record for being the largest comprehensive Hindu temple in the world in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Known for its stunning architecture, the Akshardham Temple comprises of 8 flamboyantly carved mandapams. You can also see timeless Hindu teachings and numerous devotional traditions on the walls of the temple.
The centrepiece of the temple is a huge idol of Lord Swaminarayan. Besides this, there are idols of over 20 thousand other deities, sages and numerous personalities as well.
The temple embodies the very essence of Indian traditions, architecture and timeless spiritual thoughts.
The Golden Temple, the most renowned and admired gurudwara in India, is considered to be the heart of Amritsar. Also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib, it is an epitome of harmony, equality and glory.
The Golden Temple played a significant role in the culture and history of Punjab, due to which it has become the holiest pilgrimage site for the people following the Sikh faith.
The first thing you notice when you reach the Golden Temple is the perfect blend of gorgeous architecture, captivating peace and warm hospitality. Millions of devotees visit here from all corners of the world to seek spiritual solace and blessings.
It is one of the 5 Akal Takht Sabib, which are the five Takhts of the Sikh community. The complex also houses a holy pond called the Amrit Sarovar, where the devotees can take a dip and wash away their sins.
The sparkling golden walls of the temple, coupled with the intricate designs, make the structure magnificent to look at. Surrounded by massive pools of holy water on all sides, it appears to be floating on top of the water. The beautiful sight leaves a lasting impression on the mind and soul of visitors.
Hawa Mahal, which means the Palace of Winds, is one of the most important landmarks in the city of Jaipur. Located in Pink City Jaipur, it is a 5-storey building made in a pyramidal shape and stands 15 meters tall.
Built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799, it was designed to facilitate royal women to witness the city life and street festivals while being able to remain out of public view. It is made of red and pink sandstone in the shape of Lord Krishna’s crown. It comprises of 953 windows or jharokhas, and the gorgeous façade resembles a honeycomb.
Today the monument overlooks a busy city street. From the top of the palace, you can get amazing views of the City Palace, Sireh Deori Bazaar and Jantar Mantar.
Cradled on top of Aravalli Hills in Pink City Jaipur, the Amer Fort is unquestionably one of the grandest and magnificent palaces in the country. The majestic palace has numerous serpentine staircases and maze-like passages and is an architectural masterpiece in itself.
Located at a distance of 11 kilometres from the city of Jaipur, Amer Fort was constructed with yellow and pink sandstone and is part of a huge complex. Maharaja Man Singh, one of the most important generals of Emperor Akbar, constructed it in the year 1592.
Amer Fort served as the primary residence of the Rajput Rulers during their reign in the region. It overlooks the Maotha Lake in Amer, which served as the capital of the erstwhile princely state of Jaipur. It is one of the finest examples of Rajput architecture and is a visual treat for all visitors.
Jantar Mantar is famous across the globe for being the largest stone astronomical observatory in the world. It comprises of nineteen instruments made up of brass and stone used for making various astronomical observations.
It was built in the year 1727-33 by Raja Sawai Jai Singh in the city of Jaipur. The intelligent erection and placement of the instruments have allowed observers to detect the position of various planets using just their eyes.
The primary objective behind the construction of this observatory was to gather information about time and space during ancient times when there were no telescopes and other advanced instruments that we have available today. Even today, this engineering marvel stands strong, unaffected by the effects of time and weather conditions.
The Jantar Mantar also houses the world’s largest sundial. In the evenings, the main building is lit up like a firefly accompanied by a fascinating sound and light show.
Unquestionably the most prominent buildings in Udaipur, the City Palace is a great example of Rajput architecture. Built over 400 years ago, the palace is located on the bank of Lake Pichola and offers gorgeous views of the city.
The City Palace is actually a complex housing 11 other palaces inside it. Located in the middle of the Aravalli ranges, the vistas that you get from the palace itself have to be seen to be believed.
It is the largest royal complex in the state of Rajasthan and was built by Maharana Uday Singh in 1559. It served as the official residence for the Maharanas as well as the place from where they administered their kingdom.
The palace is an excellent masterpiece of architecture of the time. It has numerous gateways, halls and a museum as well. It is a mélange of rich Mughal, Medieval, Rajasthani as well as Chinese and European styles.
The palace is constructed using granite and marble and is the property of Mewar’s royal family. The extensive use of mirrors and the intricate marble-work sets the City Palace class-apart from the rest.
The Sanchi Stupa has been the focal point of the Buddhist faith for centuries. Built-in 3rd century BC by Emperor Ashoka, this grand structure sits on top of a hill and inspires awe even today.
Surrounded by smaller stupas, temples and monasteries, the main body of the structure represents the cosmic mountain. There is a ‘chhatraveli’ or ‘harmika’ on top to hold the triple umbrella symbolizing the three jewels of Buddhism – the Dharma, the Buddha and the Sangha.
The high circular terrace is accessible to the worshippers by staircases and is designed to allow visitors to walk around the stupa.
Each of the gateway entrances at the four cardinal points encases an image of Buddha in human form. He appears to be seated under a pillared canopy. This renowned Stupa in Sanchi portraying the brilliance of Buddhist sculpture and art attracts thousands of visitors every year, especially historians and archaeology enthusiasts.
Charminar, the beating heart of Hyderabad, is an iconic city landmark built by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah – the fifth ruler of Qutb Shahi dynasty.
Constructed in 1591, the Charminar is a square structure built up of lime mortar and granite. The design has clear influences of the Muslim Turkomans architecture on it.
Four minarets surround the structure on each of its four corners. These minarets stand at 48.7 meters tall and are believed to symbolize the first four Khalifas of Islam. Each minaret is four stories tall and divided by gorgeous rings around it.
One of the most famous landmarks in the country, the Charminar looks stunning in the evening when it is lit up. It is considered to be an amazing gift to the City of Nizams by its former ruler.
Situated in the Western part of Hyderabad about 9 km from Hussain Sagar Lake, the Golconda Fort is one of the most well-preserved monuments in the country. Built-in the 1600s, it is renowned for being the place that housed the mighty Koh-i-noor diamond once.
It has been designed in such a way that if you clap your hands in the bottom part of the fort, your counterpart will be able to hear its echoes right at the top. In the evening, the fort comes alive with a sound and light show showcasing snippets from the life of its regal past.
The mines in Golconda are renowned from producing some of the most coveted precious gems ever known to humanity such as the Hope Diamond, Idol’s Eye, Kooh-i-noor diamond, and the Darya-i-noor.
The history, legends and architecture of the mysterious Golconda Fort add to its allure and charm, making it the most visited place in Hyderabad.
Gateway of India is a historical monument that is inseparable from the image that comes to mind when we mention the city of Mumbai. The monument got its name as it served as the entrance point for British Viceroys when they arrived in India.
Built to commemorate the visit of King George V to India, it symbolizes colonial triumph. It is a great example of 16th century Gujarat architecture and has touches of Islamic design as well.
It is located at the apex of Apollo Bunder and overlooks the Arabian Sea. Gateway of India has now become synonymous with Mumbai.
A favourite amongst both locals and tourists, it is always bustling with street vendors, tea hawkers, balloon sellers, street-food stalls and much more.
Situated on the bank of River Hooghly, Victoria Memorial is the most famous building in Kolkata. It was built to commemorate the visit of Queen Victoria and is currently an official museum operated by the Ministry of Culture.
The museum contains an extensive collection of various remnants from the colonial era. Victoria Memorial holds an important place in the beauty as well as the history of the city of Kolkata.
Located in the heart of Kolkata in West Bengal, the beautiful opulent structure is designed after taking inspiration from London’s Victoria Memorial.
The monument is surrounded by well-maintained lush green gardens on all sides. It is spread over 64 acres and houses numerous sculptures and statues. A 16-foot bronze statue stands tall on top of the memorial, which heightens the grandeur and appeal of the landmark to a great extent.
The sight of the landmark is breathtaking at night when it is completely illuminated. A light and sound show also takes place in the evening. Overall, it is a must-visit destination for people who wish to relive the essence of the Victorian era.
Located in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the Khajuraho Group of monuments comprises of several ancient Jain and Hindu Temples, each adorned with intricate carvings and gorgeous architecture.
One of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country, these monuments are an important treasure when it comes to Indian heritage. Dating back to the 11th century, these temples have stood the test of times and are still a sight to behold for visitors from across the globe.
The primary attraction of the Khajuraho temples is the erotic sculptures that are carved all over the temple walls. These intricately sculpted carvings celebrate life and eroticism by depicting humans in various stages of life. They are a representation of karmic sexual activities and depict the glory of the time when they were constructed.
The finesse with which these sculptures have been carved leave spectators in awe of the fine artistry of the time. Built by Chandela rules during the 10th and 11th century, these temples attract visitors from around the world.
One of the finest examples of ancient rock-cut architecture anywhere in the world, the Ajanta and Ellora caves are adorned with amazing paintings, sculptures and frescoes. Carved completely into hillside rock in the middle of nowhere, these caves are an important landmark in the country.
There are 29 caves in Ajanta dating between 2nd century BC and 6th century AD. On the other hand, Ellora comprises of 34 caves dating between 6th century AD and 11th century AD.
The caves at Ajanta are dedicated to the Buddhist faith where the ones at Ellora are a mix of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist. The most amazing fact about these caves is the fact that they have been crafted completely by hand, using just a chisel and hammer.
Cave 16 at Ellora, which houses the wonderful Kailasa Temple, is the most renowned attraction. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple signifies his sacred abode Mount Kailasha and is spread over twice the area of Parthenon in Athens. The life-size elephant sculptures present here are another attraction which draws visitors from across the world.
The Sun Temple at Konark is a gorgeous piece of architecture built in the shape of a huge chariot with Khondalite rock wheels, walls and pillars. Dating back to the 13th century AD, the temple was built on the bank of river Chandrabhaga and is a great representation of the Kalinga architecture.
Built by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty, it has been meticulously designed in such a way that the first rays of the sun strike the principal entrance of the temple.
The temple is dedicated to the Sun God and is known for its intricate stone carvings covering the entire structure. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state of Orissa.
One of the most renowned temples in India that is said to have a gorgeous architecture is Meenakshi Temple. Located on the bank of River Vaigai in the city of Madurai, it is undoubtedly the most prominent edifice in Southern India.
Devotees and architecture lovers alike visit the temple. The shrine comprises of 14 gopurams, which house over 33 thousand sculptures.
It was built during the Nayak rule, which is considered to be the golden period for art and architecture in Madurai. The temple is dedicated to goddess Meenakshi, Lord Shiva’s consort.
The temple houses 985 sculpted pillars that celebrate the ethereal beauty of goddess Meenakshi as well as scenes of her wedding with Lord Shiva. It is an important place of pilgrimage in Hinduism and is popular with both international as well as Indian tourists.
Brihadeeshwara Temple, located in Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Also called Periya Kovil and Rajarajesvaram, it is one of the biggest temples in the country and one of the finest examples of Dravidian architecture in the country.
Constructed by king Raja Raja Chola I in the year 1010 AD, the temple is over 1000 years old and one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The temple tower (vimanam) stands at 216 feet high, which is the tallest in the world. The apex of the ‘Kumbam’ weighs around 80 tons and is carved out of a single rock.
The temple houses a huge statue of Nandi (sacred bull), which has also been carved from a single rock measuring 16 feet in length and 13 feet in height.
The Mysore Palace is the most popular landmark in the city of Mysore. It served as the seat and residence of the Wodeyards, the royal family of Mysore, who reigned over the city from 1399 to 1950.
The aboriginal palace was made up of wood, but it got burned down during a wedding celebration in 1897. It was later rebuilt in 1912 in Indo-Saracenic style.
It is now a three-storey structure that incorporates touched from Hindu, Gothic, Muslim and Rajput architecture styles. After independence, the palace was turned into a museum housing numerous priceless royal souvenirs, paintings, jewellery, costume and various other objects.
It also serves as the venue for Mysuru Dasara festival and boats numerous gorgeous mirrors and stained glass décor.
Located atop the Nilanchal Hill in Guwahati, Assam, the Kamakhya Temple is considered to be one of the most revered shrines in the country dedicated to Goddess Shakti. It celebrates the power of women to give birth and is extremely auspicious for people who follow the Tantrik sect.
According to Hindu scriptures, there are 4 major Shakti Peethas (Temples with extremely divine powers) and the Kamakhya Temple is one of them. Built around the 8th century and reconstructed several times till the 17th century, the temple is a spectacle for its visitors.
Kamakhya Devi is renowned as the bleeding goddess, and it is believed that the vagina and the mythical womb of Goddess Shakti as installed in the sanctum or ‘Garvagriha’ of this temple. It is also said that during June, the goddess menstruates and during that time, the water of the Brahmaputra river flowing near the temple turns red.
During this time, the temple remains closed to visitors for 3 days, and the holy water is distributed amongst the devotees. It is also the venue for the famous Ambubachi Festival which takes place with huge pomp and show during June.
Situated on the bank of river Ganger, Varanasi is said to be the oldest surviving city in the world. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is located in the heart of the city of Varanasi.
The temple at Kashi Vishwanath is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas or temples dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva, who is fondly referred to as the ‘Ruler of the Universe’. This is why the cultural capital of India – Varanasi is also called the ‘City of Lord Shiva’.
The temple tower is adorned with 800 kg of gold plating. On the other hand, it is also decorated with gorgeous, intricate carvings that impart a divide presence to the façade.
Millions of devotees visit the temple every year to seek spiritual peace and to get salvation from the entanglements of the world. The temple has also been visited by saints such as Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Goswami Tulsidas, Adi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda, Gurunanak and many other spiritual personalities.
The Mahabodhi Temple is one of the four major holy sites related to the life of Lord Buddha. Built-in the 3rd century B.C. by Emperor Asoka, it is one of the earliest Buddhist temples in the world.
Spread over a huge area of 4.8 hectares, it houses a colossal statue of Lord Buddha settled in the earth-witness mudra. The courtyard is adorned with numerous stupas, some of which are hundreds of years old. The complex also houses the famous Bodhi Tree, which is believed to be the place where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment.
Fondly known as the ‘Great Awakening Temple’, the Mahabodhi Temple is holding a significant place in India’s religious history as Lord Buddha is believed to be the ninth and the most recent incarnation of Lord Vishnu to descend on the earth.
Nalanda is one of the most ancient learning sites in the world. Built-in 5th century AD, Nalanda is renowned for being the very first university in the world.
Located about 62 km from Bodhgaya, it was visited by Buddha numerous times but reached fame between 5th and 12 the centuries AD. It was also the place when the famous Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang stayed during the 7th century and left a detailed description that helped in the formation of a solid education system.
Even though Nalanda is presently in ruins, the complex is still an architectural masterpiece and is flocked by thousands of tourists every year. The complex houses numerous ‘chaiyas’ or temples in the west and ‘viharas’ or monasteries in the east.
There is also a museum displaying collections of original Buddhist stupas, Buddhist and Hindu bronzes, terracotta jars, coins and much more. Not only Buddhism, but Nalanda is also considered to be an important centre for Hinduism, Sufism and Jainism as well.
Dilwara Temples are considered to be one of the finest Jain temples in the country. Celebrated throughout the world for its opulent use of marble and intricate carving work, it is often regarded to be architecturally superior to the Taj Mahal.
Though it appears to be pretty basic from the exterior, the interior of the temple showcases extraordinary human craftsmanship. Built between 11th and 13th century AD, the temple is set amidst beautiful lush green hills of the Aravalli range.
The Dilwara Temples includes five beguiling temples dedicated to Lord Rishabhdeo, Lord Adinath, Lord Neminath, Lord Parshvanath and Lord Mahavir Swami. All the temples have their own Rang Mandap, Garbhagraha and the innermost sanctum where the Lord resides.
The heavily decorated ceilings and gorgeous structures leave all visitors spellbound with their austerity and simplicity.
Known for huge rock-cut caves and intricately carved temples, the monuments in Mahabalipuram are extremely popular with tourists from across the globe. Located on the Coromandel Coast along the Bay of Bengal, it is believed to be the abode of famous demon king Mahabali.
The alluring atmosphere, the serene ambience and the impressive setting of the monument along with the fact that there are white sandy beaches everywhere make the place worth visiting.
Some of the most impressive sites you can find in Mahabalipuram include the Five Rathas, Shore Temple, beach resorts in Sadras and Kovalam, and the Crocodile Bank which houses numerous exquisite species of alligators and crocodiles.
Located in Goa, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is a unique church and an exemplary example of baroque architecture. Built-in the year 1594 and consecrated in 1605, it was built when Christianity began to establish its roots in India.
It is the oldest church in Goa and houses the remains of St. Francis Xavier. The Basilica holds immense religious and cultural significance and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The name literally translates to ‘Holy Jesus’ and is the only church in the city that has not been plastered on the outside. Inside, the floor holds a marble mosaic containing precious stone while gives it a brilliant appearance.
The interior of the church is adorned with a screen from the floor to ceiling containing images of St. Ignatius Loyola protecting infant Jesus.
Have you been dreaming about witnessing the Taj Mahal at sunset on your upcoming trip to India? Taj Mahal is no doubt the most renowned monument in the country, but India has so much more to offer.
Majestic monuments, opulent palaces and ancient temples and forts are few of the amazing structures that you will see in every nook and corner of India. The country’s rich history oozes out from these historical monuments and depicts epic tales of bravery, romance, battles and strength.
The rich culture and history of India stay alive in the hearts of the visitors due to these magnificent landmarks. If you are a history buff and wish to get immersed in the rich culture that India is known for, head over to these amazing landmarks.
If you are planning your big vacation in India and want to know the must-visit places, this list of the top 30 landmarks in India will help make the job easier of you.
This article was edited by Loredana Elena.
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