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    Illustration showing places of Indian cultural heritage

    India is the birthplace and the cradle of some of the world’s major cultures and religions. The unparalleled cultural ebullience of the various world heritage sites in India allure travelers from across the globe. The myriad shades of traditions and rituals have been contributing to the Indian culture. And the numerous places of Indian cultural heritage speak volumes about the same.

    Cultural tourism in India takes the travelers beyond exotic beaches & beach resorts, picturesque hills, and utmost lavishness. It takes you through the famous historical places in India, the various art forms, and the authentic food trails.

    So if you are interested in the same, take a tour of the places that are a testament of the awe-inspiring architecture and the rich cultural heritage of India.

    1. Amritsar: The Golden City in Punjab

    A beautiful shot displaying the grandeur of the Golden Temple in Amritsar

    The heart of the Sikh culture in India, Amritsar was established in 1574 as a holy town by Guru Ram Das. The 4th Sikh Guru – Guru Ram Das – excavated a tank and turned it into the lake (sarovar) of holy water or Amrit. In addition to its myriad temples, gurudwaras, and museums, there are katras (narrow lanes) that are basically self-contained residential units that provided special protection during wars.

    What’s special: Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple), Jallianwala Bagh, and Wagah Border are the most popular places to visit in Amritsar.

    For a walk through the city’s culture: In addition to the aforementioned places to visit in Amritsar, there are many other temples, gurudwaras, museums, and more that make Amritsar one of the best places to experience Indian culture and heritage. Durgiana Temple, Akal Takht, and Mata Lal Devi Temple are the most prominent religious places in Amritsar. A walk through the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum provides an enriching experience of the origin of the Sikh empire.

    Food in Amritsar: In addition to its flamboyant Punjabi culture depicted in the grandeur of the tourist attractions in Amritsar, there’s the authentic cuisine food that can’t be missed. The most popular places in Amritsar to enjoy food are:

    • Bharawan Da Dhaba: It is known for Amritsari Kulcha, Lassi, and Chhole Bhature.
    • Surjit Chicken House: It is most famous for Tandoori Chicken and Amritsari Fish.
    • Golden Temple Complex: One should not miss the Guru ka Langar.

    How to reach

    • By air: Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport (ATQ) is at a distance of 11 km from the city-centre. Daily flights ply between Amritsar and most Indian as well as some international cities such as Toronto, Dubai, London, Singapore, and Tashkent.
    • By rail: Amritsar Railway Station is well connected to other Indian cities.
    • By road: Buses are available from other cities in Punjab as well as from Delhi, Shimla, and Jammu.

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    2. Lucknow: The city of the Nawabs

    Interiors of Bara Imambara in Lucknow

    Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, is ranked high among the places to experience Indian culture and heritage. The city boasts of a distinctive culture due to the amalgamation of Hindu & Muslim cultures. Furthermore, many literary & performing arts flourished here. The heritage city of India is also famous for its craftsmanship and painting styles.

    What’s special: Bara Imambara, Chhota Imambara, Rumi Darwaza, Dilkusha Kothi, and British Residency Complex are the most popular tourist places in Lucknow.

    For a walk through the city’s culture: The city’s rich architecture has been influenced by the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals, the Nawabs of Awadh, and even the British. In addition to the places to visit in Lucknow mentioned earlier, there are Chhattar Manzil, Husainabad Clock Tower, Sikander Bagh, Satkhanda, Begum Hazrat Mahal Park, Shahi Baoli, Jama Masjid, and Butler Palace. Tourists can also take a walk through history at the State Museum and the Picture Gallery.

    Food in Lucknow: The local Awadhi cuisine is totally drool-worthy. Some of the popular dishes of the Awadhi cuisine are:

    • Indian breads: Ulte tawe ka parantha, Varki, and Sheermal
    • Non-veg dishes: Galawati Kabab, Boti Kabab, Tunday Kabab, Nihari Gosht, Rogan Josh, and Lucknowi Biryani
    • Veg dishes: Tokri Chaat, Malai Ki Gilori, Lucknowi paan, Kulfi Falooda, and Navratan Korma

    How to reach

    • By air: Daily flights of major domestic airlines from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Patna, and other important cities serve Lucknow. The city airport is located 14 km from the city center.
    • By rail: Lucknow Railway Station at Charbagh is well-connected with other major Indian cities by a strong railway network. Alamnagar, Gomti Nagar, and Aishbagh junction are other railway stations serving the city.
    • By road: Buses are available from Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur, Agra, Jhansi, Delhi, and other nearby cities.

    Other places to experience Indian culture and heritage in Uttar Pradesh & Uttarakhand

    • A shot of Agra taken at dawn
      A shot of Agra taken at dawn

    Agra (Uttar Pradesh): Agra is another heritage city of India that was founded in the 16th century by Sikander Lodhi and was later captured by the Mughals. Before this, the region was also ruled by Rajput rulers. Each of these influenced the city’s culture and the impact of all can be seen in Agra’s architecture, art, crafts, music, dance, and even food. Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Jama Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri, Itmad-ud-Daulah’s Tomb, Sikandra Fort, Moti Masjid, and Mehtab Bagh are the tourist places in Agra that speak volumes about the rich cultural heritage of the city.

    Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh): The Ram Bhoomi has been a city where different religions flourished. Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, and Islam have majorly influenced the culture of the city. From Chakravarti Maharaj Dashrath Mahal & Nageshwarnath Temple of Hindu significance to the demolished Babri Masjid of Muslim importance; the tourist attractions in Ayodhya present an amalgamation of different religions and cultures.

    Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh): Images of temples, riverside ghats, colorful markets, and saffron-clad priests come to the mind when one thinks of the Hindu city of Varanasi. The Ganga aartis in the evening and the 5-day classical music & dance extravaganza during the Ganga Mahotsav form major part of the city’s culture. Furthermore, this heritage city of India is famous for its ghats that are lined with thousands of diyas during the Diwali season.

    Rishikesh (Uttarakhand): Rishikesh is one of the religious places in India that holds prime importance for the Hindus. The influence of Hinduism can clearly be seen in the city’s heritage. In addition to the aartis done by Hindu priests, there’s also meditation & yoga that contribute majorly to the city’s culture.

    Must Read: Celebrations Of Holi In Mathura And Vrindavan

    3. Delhi: A potpourri of different cultures

    A light and sound show in the evening hours at Purana Qila in Delhi

    Delhi – the cosmopolitan & capital city of India – has been strongly influenced by several religions and dynasties. Rajputs, Sultans, Khiljis, Mughals, and even British ruled on these lands and left behind a part of their selves in the form of monuments, paintings, artifacts, literary works, customs, festivals, and more. It is, perhaps, the major reason that most of the famous festivals of India are celebrated here with equal enthusiasm and celebrities.

    What’s special: India Gate, Red Fort, Old Fort, and Qutab Minar are the most prominent tourist places in Delhi.

    For a walk through the city’s culture: Take a sightseeing tour of the historical places in Delhi if you wish to experience the city’s rich cultural heritage. But that’s not it. Museums, art galleries, cultural centers, theatres, and various food joints together make Delhi one of the best places of Indian cultural heritage.

    Must Read: 26 Places To Try Street Food In Delhi That Is Worth Every Calorie

    How to reach

    • By air: Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi is well-connected with domestic and international cities.
    • By rail: Regular trains ply between Delhi and other major cities of the country. Old Delhi Railway Station, Nizamuddin Railway Station, Sarai Rohilla, Anand Vihar, and New Delhi Railway Station are some of the major railheads in Delhi.
    • By road: Delhi is connected to various cities of North India by road. Local, deluxe, and AC volvo buses ply between Delhi and other cities of North India.

    Other nearby places: Kurukshetra and Panipat are other cultural towns in India that are located nearby. The duo form an integral form of India’s rich heritage and hold religious & historical significance.

    4. Rajasthan: The land of Rajputs

    Chittorgarh Fort is among the strongest forts in Rajasthan

    The Rajputana grandeur of the various places to visit in Rajasthan beats the best of the best when it comes to history and heritage. The nearly 5000 year old culture is exemplary of a perfect blend of tradition & history with the present contemporary lifestyle. Some of the top cultural cities in India can be found in this state itself.

    From dresses of vibrant colors to folk music & dances and from local cuisine to festivals of Rajasthan, there’s a lot in the state that makes it one of the best places in India to experience culture and heritage.

    Must Read: Savor The Local Food Of Rajasthan With These 15 Iconic Dishes

    What’s special: Amer Fort, Mehrangarh Fort, Jaisalmer Fort, Chittorgarh Fort, Jal Mahal, and Udaipur’s Lake Palace are some of the palaces and forts in Rajasthan.

    For a walk through the state’s culture: Tourists can explore the various historical places in Rajasthan or attend one of the cultural events & fairs held in the various cities & towns of the state that paint a colorful palette of its cultural heritage.

    Must Read: Shopping In Rajasthan: 10 Colorful Markets You Must Visit


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    5. Rann of Kutch: The land of the white desert

    A cultural performance on a full moon night of Rann Utsav

    Image Source

    Kutch holds a reputation among local and international tourists for its famous Rann Utsav. The carnival that lasts for about 100 days is an integral part of the cultural tourism in India. But that is not all that makes the region find a spot in the list of places of Indian cultural heritage.

    What’s special: Kutch Utsav held every year during November to February is the highlight of the Rann of Kutch.

    For a walk through the city’s culture: Tourists can explore Rann of Kutch, Aina Mahal or Madan Singhji Museum, Kutch Museum, Dholavira excavation site, Siyot Caves, and other places to visit in Kutch. The region also has Bhadreshwar Jain Temple that is of great religious significance.

    How to reachBhuj, located 86 km from the tent city of Dhordo in Kutch, has an airport and a railhead. However, the Kutch Express from Mumbai goes till Gandhi Dham that is 135 km from Dhordo. All the major cities of Gujarat are well commuted by state-run transport buses.

    6. Khajuraho: The land of the Kamasutra Temples & more

    Manifestations of Apsaras and demi-gods at the Khajuraho temple

    Image Source

    Countless sculptures of cult icons, demi-gods, & Apsaras that depict love, grace, beauty, delicacy, sensuality, & eroticism can be seen the temples of Khajuraho. The perfect amalgamation of Hinduism and Jainism in its culture and heritage makes the city one of the must-visit tourist places in Madhya Pradesh.

    What’s special: The temples of Kandariya Mahadev, Parsvanath, Visvanath, Devi Jagadamba, Vamana, Duladeo, Chitragupta, & Bijamandala have put the city in the list of the seven wonders of India.

    For a walk through the city’s culture: Tourists must attend the Sound & Light Show that portrays the tale of the Chandela dynasty and visit Ajaigarh Fort & Archeological Museum.

    How to reach

    • By air: The domestic airport at Khajuraho is well-connected to most of the Indian cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Allahabad, and Bhopal.
    • By rail: Khajuraho railway station is connected to only a few places including New Delhi. But Mahoba Junction, located 75 km away, is well-connected to some of the major Indian cities.
    • By road: Khajuraho is well-connected to neighboring cities like Jhansi with a good bus network.

    Suggested Read: Best Tourist Circuits In Madhya Pradesh

    7. Kolkata: The city of Joy

    Victoria Memorial, Kolkata

    Image Source

    The region that passed on from the hands of the Nawabs of Bengal to those of the earliest British representatives of the East India Company is often tagged as the Cultural Capital of India. This heritage city of India is also known to be the birthplace of urban Indian culture & literary thought and a majority of India’s notable literary figures stemmed from here. This place should definitely be on your bucket list if you want to experience the roots of modern Indian sub-culture.

    What’s special: Victoria Memorial, Howrah Bridge, Indian Museum, and St. Paul’s Cathedral are the most prominent tourist places in Kolkata.

    For a walk through the city’s culture: Writers’ Building, Marble Palace, National Library, Fort William, and Shaheed Minar are some of the other places to visit in Kolkata that speak volumes about the city’s rich culture & heritage. Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, Birla Mandir, and Belur Mutt are some of the other religious places in Kolkata. The city is also the home to Academy of Fine Arts – the oldest art gallery of India – that is one of the finest collections of paintings in the country.

    Food in Kolkata: There’s something about the local food that Kolkatans can’t stop boasting about. Here are the must-try dishes in Kolkata:

    • Best dishes: Mughlai parantha, aakher josh, kosha mangsho, chicken kabiraji, macher jhol, Kolkata biryani, hinger kochuri, Shukto, aloo posto, mochha, and chholar daal are some of the best Bengali dishes.
    • Sweets: Sondesh, roshogolla, and pitha are some of the most popular sweets in Kolkata.
    • Street food: Phuchka, churmur, ghugni chaat, jhalmuri, keemar doi bora, chhanar jilipi, and telebhaja are some of the best dishes of the street food in Kolkata.

    How to reach

    • By air: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport situated at Dumdum, 17 km from the heart of the city, is well-connected to several Indian and international cities.
    • By rail: An extensive railway network connects Kolkata to other Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
    • By road: Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC), Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC), and West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation (WBSTC) regular bus services within the city and from other cities of West Bengal. The Esplanade Terminus is the main bus terminus in Kolkata.

    8. Mysore: The Palace city of India

    • An evening shot of the Amba Vilas in Mysore
      An evening shot of the Amba Vilas in Mysore

    Mysore has been often called the Cultural capital of Karnataka and there are reasons galore. Spectacularly built palaces and amazing museums make it one of the major heritage places in India. The myriad art galleries here showcase traditional paintings influenced by Vijayanagar kingdom (Mysore paintings) and Mughal empire (Ganjifa art). Mysore silk sarees, Udupi cuisine, and dasara festivities are other highlights of the city’s rich cultural heritage.

    Suggested Read: The Best Celebrations of Dussehra In India: From Kullu Dussehra To Dussara In Mysore

    What’s special: Amba Vilas Palace (Mysore Palace), Lalitha Mahal, and Chamundi Hilltop Temple are most popular tourist places in Mysore.

    For a walk through the city’s culture: Tourists can visit St Philomena’s Church, Mahabaleshwar Temple, Jaganmohan Palace (with in-house art gallery), Rajendra Vilas, and Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion to see the city’s rich cultural heritage. Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (Museum of Anthropology), Folklore Museum, and Regional Museum of Natural History are some of museums in Mysore that must be visited.

    How to reach

    • By air: Domestic and international flights from cities across the globe land in the airport at Bangalore, located 170 km from Mysore.
    • By rail: Mysore Junction, 2 km from the main city, is the nearest railhead.
    • By road: Regular buses ply between Bangalore and Mysore.

    Suggested Read: These Best Places To Visit In Karnataka Will Totally Knock You Out

    9. Hyderabad: The city of Nizams

    evening view of Charminar in Hyderabad

    Image Source

    Established in 1591 by the Indo-Persian Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutab Shah, Hyderabad was ruled by Sultans, Mughals, & Nizams before becoming a Princely State under the British Raj. The region was previously under the ancient kingdoms of Chalukyas and Kakatiyas. The city’s architecture is richly influenced by all these cultures. And then there are literary arts, craftsmanship, handicrafts, paintings, dances, theatres, and dishes that make the city one of the must-visit places to experience Indian culture and heritage.

    What’s special: Golconda Fort, Char Minar, Hussain Sagar, and Salar Jung Museum are the most popular tourist places in Hyderabad.

    For a walk through the city’s culture: Religious places in Hyderabad include Birla Mandir, Makkah Masjid, Chilkur Balaji Temple, and Keesaragutta Temple. Shilparamam art-and-craft-village, Telangana State Archaeology Museum, and Nizam Museum present paintings & other artifacts that highlight the city’s rich heritage. Tourists can also take a walk through other Hyderabad attractions, such as Chowmahalla Palace, Qutab Shahi tombs, Maqbara Shams al-Umara, Taramati Baradari, King Kothi Palace, and Bagh-e-Aam.

    Food in Hyderabad: The city is also a heaven for those who wish to savor the most mouth watering non-vegetarian Indian recipes. And that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any vegetarian dishes.

    • Vegetarian dishes: Mirchi ka salan, khatti dal, Qabooli pulao, Hyderabadi khichdi, and sheer khurma are some of the vegetarian dishes of Hyderabadi cuisine.
    • Non-vegetarian dishes: Hyderabadi biryani, dum pukht, Hyderabadi marag, maghaz masala, and gosht pasinde are the most popular Hyderabadi non-vegetarian dishes.
    • Street food: Keema samosa and lukhmis are some of the dishes of Hyderabad street food that you can enjoy.

    How to reach

    • By air: Rajiv Gandhi International airport located in Shamshabad, 20 km away from the city, is well-connected to several cities in India and other parts of the world.
    • By rail: Hyderabad Railway Station, Secunderabad Railway Station, and Kachiguda Railway Station are major railheads in the city that connect it major Indian cities like Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Mumbai, and Pune.
    • By road: The city’s bus terminus is well-connected to its neighbouring towns like Aurangabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Tirupati and Panaji.

    10. Kerala: God’s Own Country

    A vector depicting the diverse culture of Kerala

    The diverse culture of Kerala is a blend of Aryan & Dravidian cultures, with influences drawn time-and-again from other Indian & international places. Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity have contributed majorly to the architecture, the rituals & customs, the performing arts, and the festivals of Kerala. There are several places of Indian cultural heritage in India within the state itself.

    What’s special: The ancient Malayalam literature and the folklores of the state show influences from local traditions, customs, and rituals. There are several dance forms in Kerala – Kathakali, Krishnanattam, Mohiniyattam, Thullal, Koodiyattam, Kolkali, Thiruvathirakali, Kakkarissi Natakom, Oppanna, and Chavittunatakam. Music forms such as Panchavadyam, Nadanpattu, and Omanathinkal Kidavo also evolved in Kerala.

    The Kalaripayattu martial art is indigenous to the state. The state also boasts of ayurvedic therapies that you can enjoy at the ayurveda resorts in Kerala. There are also the famous snake-boat races held in various cities of the state.

    Suggested Read: 10 Best Places To Visit In Kerala

    Do these places of Indian cultural heritage intrigue and inspire you to travel? Wait no more! Pack your bags and plan a holiday in India to experience the rich heritage and culture.

    Further Read: 13 Famous Museums in India Exhibiting India’s Rich Culture, Heritage, And BioDiversity


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