India is a place that defies description. At over 3.2 million sq km it's one of the biggest countries in the world, one with a wildly varied landscape. For first- or 10th-time visitors there will be many new sights that delights (and equally some that dismay). Think of this list of the most beautiful places in India as less like a definitive inventory, and more like a starting point to inspire your travel planning. So much of India’s beauty is to be found in the small things – the play of sunlight on water, the heaps of marigold garlands in the market, the lush greens of a tea plantation – that we wouldn't dream of suggesting these are the only things you should see. But you need to start somewhere, right?
1. Taj Mahal
Let’s get this one out of the way first! No self-respecting list of India's many spectacular sights would be complete without this monumental mausoleum in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Finished in the mid-17th century by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, it houses the tomb of his third (and favourite) wife, Mumtaz Mahal. In English, the name means "crown of palaces". Constructed of white marble blocks and symmetrical in design, the building's walls display lines of scripture from the Quran. The complex also includes a mosque and several other mausoleums, including that of the Shah himself.