Haryana Tourism Destinations
While most tourists visiting Northern India drive through Haryana on their way to Agra, Himachal Pradesh, and Rajastan, the state has much waiting to be discovered. Its proximity to Delhi makse it an easy place to travel to, and there are many modern amenities in this fast-developing state.
A capital of the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals, and the British, as well as the nation today, Delhi has long been a major cultural center of India and has perhaps more things to see than any other city on the subcontinent. Delhi offers much to see and do and is a great launching point for tours of Haryana as well.
The Red Fort was the royal palace of the Mughals and is among the most popular of tourist attractions in Delhi. The fort was once home to over 3,000 people and had thousands more coming in and out of it every day on business with the Mughal emperors. It is far more than a simple fort; it is a miniature city, complete with private mosques, markets, apartments, audience chambers, and some of the best examples of Mughal Gardens anywhere. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is the first instance of the famed Mughal style of architecture in India and is also one of its finest examples. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built for Humayan by his widow, a intesting contrast with the more famous Taj Mahal, built for the deceased wife of the emperor.
Akshadham Temple Complex
Akshardham temple was built a mere couple of years ago and has since become one of the premier tourist attractions in Delhi, with over 70% of tourists visiting the site. It is the largest Hindu temple complex in the world. Within its ground are massive gardens, particularly the Yogi Hraday Kamal, a symmetric lotus-shaped sunken garden, and numerous ancillary temples and shrines. The central monument is a vast, imposing strucutre with hundreds of carved sculptures. For devout Hindus, this alone is worth the trip to Delhi.
Yantra Mandir is a Mughal observatory built to record astronomical movements. It is a curiously constructed building and has a significant history as a center of astronomical science.
Raj Ghat Memorials
On the site of Gandhi's cremation is a memorial dedicated to him. It is commonly visited by foreign leaders, and it is customary to bring flowers to the memorial and take off your shoes before advancing toward it. Raj Ghat is also the site of many other memorials dedicated to famous Indians including Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, and Indira Gandhi.
Built in 1622, the Laximinarayan Temple, also known as Birla Mandir, is a very famous temple in India and one of the most important in Delhi. It is dedicated to the goddess of wealth, Laxmi, and Lord Vishnu. The temple's red spires are instantly recognizable and it a popular attraction for pilgrims and tourists alike.
Baha'i Lotus Temple
One of the most popular sites in Delhi to visit is this amazing Baha'i House of Worship, built like a sacred lotus. More than 70 million people have visited the temple since 1986, making it a more popular site than even the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal. On Hindu sacred days, hundreds of thousands of people visit the temple. Additionally, it is one of the most talked-about architectural feats in the world, and is a great addition to any travel itinerary. It is surrounded by vast, peaceful gardens.
A ruined fort nestled inside of delhi, Tughlaqabad was a center of the powerful Delhi Sultanate. Built in 1321 and abandoned a mere 6 years later, attributed to some by a famous curse uttered by the Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya, who argued that the unjust king who ordered its construction would only see it abandoned shortly after. Interestingly, it took no time for his prediction to come to fruition, and now it is a crumbling, fascinating ruin of an empire long gone.
One of the famous Mughal tombs, Safdarjung is in a style similar to its more famous cousin the Taj Mahal, but set in the ubiquitous red sandstone of Mughal architecture. It is surrounded by vast gardens and is a popular tourist destination.
In downtown New Delhi is the famous India Gate, one of the largest war memorials in India and a major tourist attraction. It is dedicated to the lives lost in World War I and the Afghan Wars. Underneath the arch is the Amar Jawan Jyoti, fire of the eternal warrior, a fire that never stops burning. The Prime Minister of India frequently gives addresses from this spot.
Jama Masjid, Delhi
The largest Mosque in South Asia and one of the largest in the world, the Jama Masjid was built by over 5,000 workers at the commission of Shah Jahan one of severa built (others were at Agra, Lahore, and Ajmer). It is one of the most breath-taking mosques in the world and has some of the most painstaking details of any monument in the city. It's courtyard is usually full on Friday's with the Muslim faithful.
At one time Qutub Minar was among the tallest buildings in the world, and it remains the world's tallest brick minaret. The stately structure is 72.5 feet tall and towers over the surrounding environs. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The official home of the President of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan is a unique combination of British and Indian styles of architecture. It is the former home of the British Viceroy and is now home to the Indian President; interestingly, the President of India does not live where the Viceroy did, because the first Indian President, C Rajagopalachari, thought the master bedroom too pretentious for his tastes. It is the biggest Presidential residence in the world, and occupies a central part of New Delhi next to the Secretariat.
The Lodhi Gardens, a 90 acre reserve dating to the 15th century Lodhi and Sayyid dynasty, is an under-appreciated site overlooked by most tourists containing a style of architecture far different than the Mughal and British buildings composing most Delhi and Haryana travel itineraries. It is a great place to get away from the city and take a break, and educational walks and yoga instruction are available too.
This massive building is the seat of the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, and the Office of the Prime Minister, and is one of the mot important buildings in the whole of India. Like the neighboring Rashtrapati Bhavan, it is a unique blend of Indian and British styles.
The capital of Haryana as well as Punjab and the union territory of the same name, Chandigarh is called "The City Beautiful" for its city planning and architecture, and it has the highest standard of living in India, with a Human Development Index rating of 0.987 - higher than many countries, including the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Japan. It is a great city for those who enjoy modern architecture, state-of-the-art shopping, and excellent dining.
The beautiful Morni Hills are a popular destination for Indians and foreigners alike looking for a place to hike. Honeycombed with trails curving through the dense pine forests here, the Morni Hills allow for a great nature experience in Northern India.
It is said the the epic battle between the Kauravas and Pandavas was fought here, and it is also said to be the place where Lord Krishna said the Bhagavat Gita, one of the holiest texts in Hinduism. Today, there is a sacred pond and many temples, and it is a destination for devout Hindu pilgrims.
Just south of Delhi is Badkhal Lake, hidden in the Aravali hills and a popular getaway for city-dwellers. It is famous for its serene, peaceful waters and the numerous small cottages surrounding it available for rent. It
Gurgaon is a city that appeared seemingly overnight. A major suburb of India, Gurgaon is a center of the IT boom in India and has many modern buildings and shopping centers popping up. For anyone interested in seeing the "New India", Gurgaon is ground zero.
Concealed in the foothills of the Himalayas, Pinjore is famous as the site of the beautiful Mughal Gardens, and the town is a popular romantic getaway. The gardens are among the largest in all India. It has fantastic weather year-round and is renowned for the multitude of artistic styles in its lawns.
Haryana's history is one of the oldest in India due to its proximity to the Indus Valley and the civilization that arose there some 5,000 years ago. Settlements have been found throughout the state, such as in the Saraswati river bed and at Kunal, indicating a sophisticated urban culture rivaling that of Egypt and Mesopotamia. There are also artifacts of the ancient Vedic civilization, and in these towns many hymns of the Rigveda were written. Some archeologists and historians believe Haryana's geographic location occupies the boundaries of the kingdom of Kurukshetra. In ancient scripture such as the Mahabharata, Haryana was described as a place of immense wealth and ample food, and it was the center of much trade and commerce even in its earliest years. It was a part of the Mauryan and Guptan empires, until its invasion by central asian nomads called the Huns in the 5th and 6th centuries.
Under the leadership of the king Harshavardhana, the Huns were expelled from Haryana, and years of prosperity passed until the Muslim invasions of the 12th century. The powerful Delhi Sultanate ruled over Haryana for centuries.
The city of Panipat in Haryana saw the first of its famous historical battles when Babur, the king of Kabul and the ancestor to the Mughals invaded Haryana and defeated the Delhi Sultanate in a decisive battle. The great Akbar would later defeat the Hindu king Hem Chandra Vikramaditya here, leading to Mughal control of the Punjab. The final battle of Panipat was fought between the Afghan warlord, Ahmad Shah Abdali, and the Marathas, dealing a serious blow to the Marathas and further weaking Indian resistance to British expansion.
The British Raj annexed Haryana as part of the province of Punjab, although many parts of the area were ruled by princely states. In the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, Haryana was a center of Indian resistance and several battles with the British took place. During the Indian Independence Movement, many leaders, such as Sir Chhotu Ram, emerged from the area.
Haryana was formed in 1966 during the reformation of many states in India. Along with Punjab, it is governed from the city of Chandigarh, a union territory on the state's northern border. To Haryana's east is the union territory of Delhi, and much of the eastern part of the state is a suburb to the city. Haryana is one of the wealthiest states in India, with information technology, centered in Gurgaon and Faridabad, playing an increasingly important role in the state's economy. While it is still largely agriculture, Haryana is one of the most obvious examples of the "new India".
The people of Haryana are very proud of their cultural tradition, which dates as far back as the first migrations of Aryan peoples to the area. Chanting, yoga, and meditation are central to everyday religion, and the region is known nation-wide for its dancing tradition called Ghoomer. Most people speak Hindi, Haryanvi, or Panjabi, and many people also speak English, particularly in the IT cities.
For the tourist visiting Haryana, there are tons of sites to see, particularly in the bordering cities of Chandigarh and Delhi, as well as Panchkula and Gurgaon and the many historic villages in the state.