Lonely Planet's list of 500 best places has 9 from India!New Delhi: Lonely Planet is the largest publisher of travel guides in the world. And also the most famous. So when it recently came up with a list of the 500 best places to visit
New Delhi: Lonely Planet is the largest publisher of travel guides in the world. And also the most famous. So when it recently came up with a list of the 500 best places to visit on the planet, future travellers sat up and took notice. Very few people will be fortunate to see all of them but one can always dream.
Only the top 20 were ranked with the No.1 spot going to the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia. India is fairly well represented in the list. There are nine places from India that make the cut and no prizes for guessing which is the only one among them in the top 20 at No.5 (Hint: It's in Agra).
It should be relatively easy to visit all nine if you haven't already done so. So, plan your next vacation accordingly! Here are the Indian locations on the list in alphabetical order:
Located 11 km outside Jaipur, the Amber Fort has been opened for viewing at night this year. That is one more reason to visit this majestic structure doubling up as both fort and palace. Though it looks rather drab from the outside, appearances can be misleading. Once you get in after a short walk uphill, or an elephant ride if you prefer, you will be stunned by its magnificent interiors full of murals, frescos and beautiful inlay work. The Sheesh Mahal, with its thousands of mirrors covering the walls and ceiling, is probably the most memorable sight in the fort. You simply have to take a selfie here!
Varanasi has 87 ghats of which by far the most famous is the Dasaswamedh, near the Kashi Viswanath temple. Named for a legendary sacrifice of ten horses, the ghat is best known for the Ganga Aarti that takes place here every evening. It begins with the blowing of conches and you can see thousands of floating earthen lamps in the Ganges during the ceremony. Many tourists even sit on boats to get an excellent vantage point. The Ganga Aarti also takes place in Haridwar and Rishikesh but this is the most spectacular of the three because of its well-rehearsed choreography.
When a son was born to the Mughal emperor Akbar after the blessings of Sufi saint Salim Chisti, Akbar made two expressions of his gratitude. He named his son Salim and shifted his capital to Fatehpur Sikri where the saint lived. It was abandoned after just 14 years due to water shortages and its proximity to areas in turmoil. Today this is just a small town of about 30,000 people who live around the abandoned imperial complex. But Fatehpur Sikri leaves behind an impressive legacy with its most famous monument, the Buland Darwaza, living up to its name by being the highest gateway in the world.
The Golden Temple was not originally golden. A couple of centuries after it was built, Maharaja Ranjit Singh had the upper floors covered with gold, giving the temple a resplendent appearance. It is surrounded by the Amrit Sarovar tank after which the city of Amritsar is named. You can enter through four different doors, signifying that it is open to all. The langar in the Golden Temple is believed to be the largest free kitchen in the world, serving 100,000 people on average daily. A visit to the temple is not complete without tasting the simple but delicious meal.