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India Tourism – Oldest Cities

Written By: Manoj

India is famous for housing some of the oldest civilisations in the world! Be it the Indus Valley Civilisation, Harappan Civilisation or Mohenjodaro Civilisation, they have all left a undeniable mark in the history of our country.

Though all that remains of these various civilisations are the ruins and artefacts, India continues to have ancient cities that have been present for a very long time.

Today, these old cities have become religious and commercial centres, but should you delve into them you can see traces of ancient history here.

While some of them find their names mentioned in various epics, there are also those that once were the headquarters of various dynasties.

Here is a guide to the five oldest cities of India that continue to survive and regale stories of their rich past!

Madurai

Madurai

Madurai is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu and also one of the oldest cities of India. It is situated on the banks of river Vaigai and is popularly known as 'The Temple City'. It is famous for the Meenakshi Temple, one of India's greatest cultural and architectural landmarks. The entire city is laid out in the shape of a lotus with the temple at the center and the streets and main thoroughfares layered one after the other concentrically outward from the center. It is a major religious hub of South India and is crowded by devotees throughout the year. Tourists coming here can visit the many attractions it has to offer and also explore the many ancient temples that stand here.

Photo Courtesy: McKay Savage

Patna

Patna

The city of Patna in Bihar is one of the oldest inhabited places in India and was earlier known as Pataliputra. It was the capital of the Magadha Empire and to the present day travellers coming here can witness many ruins of this great empire. Though not a major tourist hub, the city gets its fair share of visitors, most of whom are archaeologists and historians, who come here to learn more about the Magadh dynasty that once ruled the region. Travellers coming here can explore the many ruins that are to be seen here.

Photo Courtesy: Andrew Moore

Pushkar

Pushkar

The small town of Pushkar in Rajasthan is another old city of India. It lies on the shore of Pushkar Lake and is famous for it's annual Camel Fair that attracts a large number of tourists from around the world. The most famous temple here is the Brahma Temple and according to legends it is said to have been the home of the lord as well. The presence of a number of Israeli tourists and traders here has made Hebrew the second most common language of this town. Travellers coming to Pushkar can explore the many attractions that it has to offer and also enjoy a camel ride.

Photo Courtesy: Koshy Koshy

Ujjain

Ujjain

Another old city in India is Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. It was earlier called Ujjayini and is situated on the banks of the river Kshirpa. Ujjain was the capital of Avanti Kingdom and finds its name mentioned in the Mahabharata. The festival of Kumbh Mela is held here every 12 years and also it houses the famous Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga which is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Tourists coming here can explore the many temples that are to be seen in this holy city.

Photo Courtesy: Bernard Gagnon

Varanasi

Varanasi

Varanasi also known as Banaras is situated on the banks of river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh and is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is often referred to as the 'Religious Capital of India' and has been the cultural and religious centre of India for several years. Many prominent poets, writers and musician belong to this city. It is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in India. Varanasi is home to various famous universities like Banaras Hindu University, Sampurnanand Sanskrit and Kashi Vidyapeeth and therefore people also call it 'The City of Knowledge'. It is usually thronged by devotees through the year. Tourists coming here get a glimpse of the various religious beliefs of the people and also enjoy the beauty of the town.

Photo Courtesy: Achilli Family | Journeys

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