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Taj Mahal by Christian Haugen, fickr, 2009Photo by Christian Haugen licensed under CC

With its bustling streets, bold and intricate fabrics and intoxicating spices, India is bound to excite all your senses. Home to more than 1 billion people, the country boasts a rich cultural history and has much to offer.

We’ve highlighted five iconic sights that make a visit to India the experience of a lifetime.

1. The Taj Mahal

In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, the magnificent Taj Mahal lights up the city of Agra. In 1653 the white marble monument was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife.

It is best described by the English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, as ‘Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor's love wrought in living stones’. To see the Taj at its most breathtaking, try to see it at sunrise, sunset, or by moonlight.

2. Darjeeling

Darjeeling is one of India’s famous hill stations in the Indian state of West Bengal. Known for its beauty, it’s surrounded by snow-capped Himalayan mountain ranges. Darjeeling has stunning sunsets, rich flora and lush green tea gardens. And, when you’re taking in the view there are a range of attractions including botanical gardens, temples, monasteries and a natural history museum.

3. Goa Beaches

One of the smallest states of India, Goa’s 131 km-long coastline is home to some of the world’s finest beaches. Bright blue water and fine clean sands provide the perfect setting for sport and relaxation. Most popular with tourists is Miramar beach in Goa’s capital city, Panaji. Here you can enjoy wonderful seafood and take in the beautiful beach and ocean views.

4. Elephanta Island

Dominating an island in the middle of Mumbai Harbour, the Elephanta Caves are thought to date back to 450-750 AD. Now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they contain stunning sculptures and a temple of the Lord Shiva. The temple covers an area of 60,000 ft and is home to an enormous bust of Shiva with its eyes closed in perpetual meditation.

5. Red Fort

A principle landmark of Delhi, the Red Fort (Lal qila) has walls that extend over an area of 2km and vary in heights up to 33m. Complete with 10m moat the impressive sandstone fort was built by Emperor Shah Jahan around 1638 AD. Most evenings a sound and light show recreates events of India's history, particularly those associated with the Red Fort.

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174