At a market, a woman carries a large basket balanced on her head.

Photo © Nathalie Hedstrom.

With its shimmering white marble domes and perfect symmetry, the Taj Mahal is among the most stunning marvels on the planet as well as the world’s most magnificent emblem of love. Photos cannot do justice to this architectural masterpiece. A stroll along the reflecting pool that cuts through the lush grounds of this breathtaking mausoleum transports you back to a time when bejeweled royalty feasted on richly spiced delicacies and terraced fountains flowed with rose water.

In an ideal world, everyone would get the chance to see India at least once. This intense country is like nowhere else on earth. You could spend lifetimes exploring its extraordinary landscapes, architecture, and cultural traditions. The North Indian cities of Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, are collectively known as India’s Golden Triangle. Even a brief visit to this region will give you a good feel for the country’s regal past, not to mention plenty of amazing memories of your own.

Stepping onto the streets of Jaipur is like jumping into the pages of an illustrated fairy tale. Elephant processions, grandiose forts, chivalrous men with mustaches that stretch extravagantly, and starbursts of color contrast against the starkness of the golden desert.

India’s liveliness, color, and contrasts strike visitors almost immediately.The vibrant gateway city of Delhi can seem hectic to the first-time visitor, particularly because it’s constantly thronging with people. That said, once you get into the groove of things, you will discover that this sprawling metropolis is one of the most history-rich spots on the planet. Stroll through Old Delhi, where hole-in-the wall stores crowned with colorful hand-painted signboards are set against a backdrop of sky-piercing sandstone mosques and forts that date back centuries. Drive down Central and South Delhi’s broad leafy avenues alongside luxury cars and the odd oxcart, past 500-year-old tombs and Raj-era buildings that blend neoclassical architecture with Indian aesthetics.

India’s liveliness, color, and contrasts strike visitors almost immediately. However, most leave with a much deeper impression of India, one that’s illustrated by the stories of the people they meet and the adventures they have. Whatever your Indian experience ends up being, it’s sure to have a lasting impact on the way you see our world and its people.