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Ancient Cities of India

16 Ancient Cities of India That Should Be On Your Bucket List

India is a land known for its rich heritage, culture, history, and diversity. It is one of the world's oldest civilizations and was dominated by several dynasties and kingdoms throughout its history. While the cities might now be modern and energetic, they nonetheless reflect hundreds of years of history and culture that now distinguish them from every other city in the world.

Here are the top 16 Indian ancient cities that you must visit:

Explore India's rich heritage by visiting these top 16 oldest cities: Experience history, culture, and architectural marvels in every corner of this diverse nation

  • Varanasi
  • Kolkata
  • Ayodhya
  • Delhi
  • Vrindavan
  • Dwarka
  • Puri
  • Madurai
  • Ujjain
  • Kannauj
  • Patna
  • Hampi
  • Thanjavur
  • Pushkar
  • Gwalior
  • Kollam

1. Varanasi

Varanasi is one of the ancient cities of India with a history of beyond 5000 years. It is popularly known as the City of Lights or Kashi or Banaras and is situated on the west bank of the River Ganga in Uttar Pradesh. It is believed that it was Lord Shiva's residence. It's famous for its production of silks and brocades with gold and silver threadwork. The Banarasi paan at Varanasi is very well known.

You should visit Varanasi to explore antique temples dated about 500-1000 years old, witness the mesmerizing Ganga Aarti and shop the renowned Banarasi sarees, carpets, and magnificent woodwork.

2. Kolkata

Kolkata, or Calcutta as it was called earlier, is known as the historical city of India. It's the capital of West Bengal and is one of the four metropolitan cities of the country. It is currently regarded as the "city of joy" and plays an important part in its economy. The iconic Howrah Bridge connects Kolkata to Howrah. It's one of the world's 52 Shakti Peethas in India. Goddess Kali has been extensively honored, and Durga Pooja is celebrated on a grand level, especially at Kalighath's Kali temple, the most famous in Kolkata. 

You should visit Kolkata to eat delicious street food, mouthwatering Bengali sweets, and dessert, see the iconic Howrah Bridge, to see one of Asia's largest flower markets at Mallik Ghat to one of the world's largest used-book markets at College Street, and to witness the auspicious celebration of Durga Pooja.

3. Ayodhya

It is one of the oldest cities in India and is known as the birthplace of Lord Rama; and is believed to be one of the seven most sacred places in India. The Atharva Veda described Ayodhya as "a city built by gods and prosperous like a paradise itself." The city is situated on the banks of the Sarayu River in Uttar Pradesh. The city was founded and is said to be 9000 years old by the Hindu God of Manu. It is one of the most visited sights in the country and is famous for its several sacred temples. Hinduism is not the only religion that thrives here; Jainism, Buddhism, and Islam have also thrived, and their impact can be observed across the city.

You should visit Ayodhya to witness the auspicious Shree Ram Janmabhoomi (birthplace of Lord Rama), to visit the well-known Hanuman Garhi temple characterized by the 70 steep steps in front of the temple complex, and lots more.

4. Delhi

Delhi is the capital of India. Indraprastha means 'The City of Indra,' is the historic name of modern Delhi. According to mythology, Delhi was the erstwhile capital of Pandavas, Indraprastha, and has been referenced in Mahabharata, the ancient Hindu epic. In ancient times five dynasties governed Delhi. Therefore it has a rich heritage from the 11th century. Popular structures of historical importance in Delhi include Red Fort, Rajghat, Qutub Minar, and the Tomb of Humayun, which make the tourists aware of the city's rich cultural legacy.

You should visit Delhi to have a crazy shopping experience at famous markets like Sarojini Nagar, Janpath, etc. To enjoy mouthwatering street food, to applaud the beautiful architecture of Akshardham temple, and witness the famous Hanuman temple.

5. Vrindavan

Vrindavan is renowned as one of the most important places for Lord Krishna's followers since Lord Krishna is claimed to have been in this town throughout his adolescence. It is located on the banks of the Yamuna river in the Mathura District of Uttar Pradesh. Numerous temples of Lord Krishna and Radha are packed in Vrindavan.

You should visit Vrindavan to witness vibrant celebrations during the Holi and Janmashtami festival, visit Keshav ghat, and admire the grandeur of various beautiful temples like Banke Bihari ISKON and many more.

6. Dwarka

Dwarka is located in the State of Gujarat. Dwarka's literal meaning is the door-to-door moksha. The city hence has a mystical atmosphere and is considered to be part of the Yatra Char Dham. Dwarka deserves to be on the bucket list for travelers interested in both history and religion. Dwarka is famed not just for its temples and legends but also for being the seat of Adi Shankaracharya, who established four mathas at four different corners of the Nati. The Nageshwara Temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas which is located here. In addition to being a spiritual town, calm beaches attract nature enthusiasts from many areas of India.

You should visit Dwarka to immerse yourself in the spiritual aura of various temples like Dwarkadheesh Temple, Rukmini Temple, Badkeshwar Mahadev Temple, etc. To go for a camel ride and visit Badkeshwar Mahadev Temple.

7. Puri