India's bright and colorful culture goes back hundreds of years, with many remnants of its early days still leftover for travelers to visit today. There are literally hundreds of incredible sights to see there, so a trip to India should be a long one! If you only have time to see three things, though, here are the top must-see sights in India for you to put on your itinerary.
If you enjoy architectural marvels and artifacts from ancient times, then your first stop should be the Ajanta Caves in Western India. Now an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, these caves are laid out in a horseshoe shape and were intentionally carved out in two periods in 200-100 B.C. and 400-500 A.D.. They hold the largest collection of Indian sculptures and wall paintings left in the world, and are a truly amazing sight to see. The interior of the caves, which were once "centers of learning, meditation and residence" for Buddhist monks, looks like a temple or an ancient art museum, with pillars and statues carved from stone and paintings that are more than two thousand years old.
Varanasi is one of the seven most sacred sites of Hinduism, and is one of the oldest cities in the world. Located on the banks of the Ganges River, Varanasi has been continuously inhabited since the 20th century B.C., and it is here that Buddha gave his first sermon after obtaining his enlightenment in Sarnath a few miles away. This was the beginning of the religion of Buddhism, which is one of the reasons why this place is so historically significant. The city saw centuries of conflict, but still stands strong today as both a religious and cultural center. It is said to have some of the most spectacular river views in India, as well as miles of breathtaking steps called ghats that are used for religious bathing. While you're there, you can also visit multiple temples, shrines, and palaces that will leave you speechless.
The Great Rann of Kutch
Described by many as a lunar landscape here on Earth, the Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat is an enormous salt plain that is only visible for part of the year. Spanning at least 10,000 square miles, this beautiful white desert appears to sparkle in the sunlight, and disappears under water during the yearly monsoon season. To see the Great Rann in all of its moonscape-like glory, you have to visit during the winter, when the climate is dry. The desert is said to be gorgeous in its "nothingness": you can stare out at the desert and not see anything but the glittering white sand for miles and miles. According to its visitors, the Great Rann is especially awe-inspiring beneath the full moon. It is said that seeing this natural wonder just once isn't enough - it changes throughout the day and night depending on how the light is touching it, so it is worth sticking around to see it as many times as you can.