India’s UNESCO World Heritage sites are anything but subtle. From mosques to mausoleums to mangroves, together they form a tangible story of India—a country so extraordinary it has served as the birthplace of four major world religions and one of the oldest civilizations on the planet.
No site tells a single story. A tour through Ellora’s cave temples reveals a layered interaction of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Architecture lessons in Ahmadabad lead to silk studio visits, kite flying, and birdwatching along the city’s numerous lakes. Hop a hundred-year-old, single-track train through the mountains or stroll the second longest wall in the world—there are enough adventures here to last a lifetime. (This temple is covered in thousands of colorful statues.)
Cait Etherton is a Virginia-based writer and frequent contributor to National Geographic Travel. Follow her journey on Twitter @carryoncait.