2. Nohsngithiang Falls
Nohsngithiang Falls, also known as Seven Sisters waterfall, is located in the state of Meghalaya, one of the wettest places in the world (during British rule the area was appropriately nicknamed “Scotland of the East”). Tucked between Bangladesh and Bhutan, Meghalaya translates to “abode of the clouds”. It’s this abundance of rainfall that creates the spectacular effect of the falls. The seven chutes of water only appear during rainy season, cascading over limestone cliffs for some 315 metres, making it one of the highest falls in India. If you’re lucky, when you visit the sunlight will hit at the right angle to create shimmering rainbows above the water.
Nohsngithiang Falls in Meghalaya, one of India’s wettest regions
3. Palace of the Winds
Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of the Winds, might look like something out of a Wes Anderson movie, but it predates the quirky film director by a couple hundred years. Finished in 1799, it was built as part of the women’s quarters in Jaipur’s huge city palace. Most of the building is just one-room deep. The space was designed so that the women in the palace could watch the goings-on in the street below without being seen. Like many other buildings in Jaipur, the palace is made of local sandstone, which gives the building its distinctive hue and Jaipur its nickname, “the Pink City”.
The Palace of the Winds in Jaipur had to make our list of the most beautiful places in India
4. Dal Lake
With its mirror-like reflection, colourful houseboats and the snow-capped Himalayas in the distance, Dal Lake in Kashmir is a slice of serenity in a country that can sometimes feel like a (glorious) assault on the senses. During the Mughal era (at its peak from 1526-1707) the lake became the emperors’ destination of choice. Today, it remains a popular summer resort. The shore is lined with hotels and several formal gardens that date to the Mughal era. In winter, it gets so cold that the 18 sq km lake can sometimes freeze over, while in July and August hundreds of lotus flowers bloom creating a carpet of colour on the water.
Dal Lake is a peaceful place to spend a few days
5. Meenakshi Temple
Whether you agree that Meenakshi Temple should be on this list of the most beautiful places in India depends on one thing – are you a maximalist or a minimalist? Covered in brightly coloured carved figurines, the temple honours Meenakshi (a form of Pavarti), the mother goddess. The legend goes that Lord Shiva (in the form of Sundareswarar) married Pavarti in this very place. The temple, located in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, is one of the holiest sites in the country. It was built in the 14th century, but references to a “goddess temple” on the site date back to the 6th century. During the festival of Tirukalyanam (held in April), over 1 million devotees travel to worship here.
Meenakshi Temple is covered in intricate carvings of Hindu gods