India is bestowed with rich cultural heritage and is acknowledged at the global front as one of the top countries, in terms of being endorsed by many World Heritage Sites. These sites own immense significance in making India stand apart from other countries in terms of artistic vivaciousness. Here is a list of few heritage sites in India.
1. TAJ MAHAL, Agra
Acclaimed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaj Mahal. Located at the bank of Yamuna River, this architectural masterpiece was renowned as the “Jewel of Muslim Art in India” and was completed in 1653, with an investment of 32 million India rupees as estimated at that time. This monument has gained highest recognition as the World Heritage Site since then.
2. FATEHPUR SIKRI, Agra
Counted among the top tourist destinations in Agra and one of the most significant members of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, Fatehpur Sikri ranks among the most visited places in India. It is an ancient marvel of Mughal Dynasty where one gets familiar with the great medieval culture and the majestic edifices which are the perfect amalgamation of Mughal and Persian architecture. Initially, it was the political capital under the reign of Emperor Akbar. The ideal time to visit this amazing place is generally between the months of November and February.
3. AGRA FORT, Uttar Pradesh
Agra Fort is a perfect amalgamation of Indian forms of architecture and Persian art of the Timurid. The fort was initially a brick monument which was called Badalgarh. After the invasion took place, Sikandar Lodi became the first Sultan of Delhi to move to Agra. Agra Fort includes a number of shrines like Sheesh Mahal, Khas Mahal, Muhamman Burie, Diwan-e-Khas and Nagina Masjid, to mention a few and each one elegant than the other.
4. RED FORT Complex, Delhi
The gem of Mughal architecture, Red Fort was built by Emperor Shah Jahan at the time of his shifting the capital from Agra to Delhi and has been a favourite tourist destination since ages. The era of Red Fort was the golden era of Mughal architecture as it reached its zenith under Shah Jahan. Here, at Red Fort, one can witness a perfect blend of Timurid, Indo-Islamic, Hindu and Persian art forms. As it is quite implicit in the name, the Red Fort is made from red sandstone. There are several houses and private pavilions inside the Red Fort that were used for different purposes. Few to mention are Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas etc which have beautiful interiors.
5. KHAJURAHO, Madhya Pradesh
Khajurao is unique World heritage site in India with a group of famous Hindu and Jain Temples, located 175km from Jhansi. Far-famed for their Nagara style symbolic representations with erotic figures and sculptures, these intense stone scriptures are aesthetically portrayed and stand as proof of India’s rich grandeur. Around 85 temples are scattered across 20 square kilometres with Kandariya Temple being the most prominent one.
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6. Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh
The Buddhist Monuments that are there at Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh are located 46 kilometer north-east of Bhopal and are the most ancient stone structures in India. The centre of Sanchi is a crescent shaped structure which was built over the remnants of Buddha. The Stupa got ruined during the 2nd century BCE and was refurbished during the Satavahana Period when the gateways and barriers were also constructed and coloured. There are other structures also that exist here like temples, pillars, palaces and monasteries. It has been a major pilgrimage for the Buddhists till around 12th century AD post which the religion witnessed a vast decline.
7. Jantar Mantar, Jaipur
Jantar Mantar is a massive observatory which was built in 18th century in Rajasthan. It was built by King Sawai Jai Singh of Rajasthan in 1738 CE. Here one can find a huge collection of 19 astronomical instruments including world’s biggest man made instrument sun-dial. This also involves instruments employed to calculate the coordination system among the celestial bodies. This edifice is an example of the perfect blend of scientific as well as the cultural heritage of India.
8. HILL FORTS IN RAJASTHAN
The hill forts of Rajasthan are considered among the most striking forts in the whole of India. Their majestic site evokes sheer admiration in every eye that fall upon them. The six major forts in Rajasthan are located in Kumbalgarh, Jhalawar, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Sawai Madhopur, Chittorgarh. These forts tell tales of the power, reputation and glory that was enjoyed by the Rajput states that gain prosperity from 8th to 18th centuries. The elegant and defensive walls of the forts enclosed trading centres, temples and other landscapes that still exist till date.
9. Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
Lying 29 kilometres northwest of the city of Aurangabad, the Ellora Caves are far-famed for their rock cut architecture. There are around 34 caves and temples which date back to 600 – 1000 AD. The sculptures present here depict idols from Hindus, Buddhists and Jains mythology. There are many excavated sites too like Charanandri Hills, Viharas and Buddhist temples.
10. Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra
The Elephanta Caves are situated on a secluded island, far away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. The long link of sculpted caves that is located on the Elephanta Island is also called Gharapuri. Many of the archaeological remains give us an insight into the rich heritage of Indian civilization. The caves here are famous for sculptures that are rock carved depicting Shiva as both the precursor and destroyer of Universe. The most significant cave of all is the Cave 1 where one can witness Sadashivawith with his three sides as the creator, preserver and destroyer. The caves are located 10 km east of Mumbai and they are carved out of basalt rock
11. Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra
One of the most ancient World Heritage Site in India is the Ajanta Caves as their existence is recorded back in 2nd century BCE to 650 CE and incorporates one of the finest masterpieces carved in the rock of Buddhist Monuments, paintings and artistic sculptures. These caves were not built in one time but were constructed in two phases, the first one being the Satavahana Period and the other one being the Vakataka period. The style of Ajanta art and architecture had an innovative effect on the architectural style that followed thereafter. This era also marked the initiation of Indian Classical Art.
12. Maha Bodhi Temple Complex, Bihar
Mahabodhi Temple Complex is the site, most highly venerated in Bihar. The sacred Bodhi tree where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment is present here which is why this place is regarded with deep reverence. Along with the Bodhi tree and 50 metres tall Mahabodhi temple, there are many Buddhist spiritual sites too that are present here.
13. Group Of Monuments At Pattadakal, Karnataka
Pattadakal is UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also a significant site of tourism located in Karnataka. It is known for its Chalukya style of architecture that began in Aihole and got influenced with Dravadian and Nagara styles of architecture. All the Chaluka rulers were coronated at Pattadakal. The 8 temples dedicated to Lord Shiva are Galganath Temple, Jain Temple, Kashi vishwanaath Temple, Jain Temple and many others.
14. Hampi, Karnataka
Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in Northern part of Karnataka. It could be found amid the ruins of the ancient and flourishing kingdom of Vijayanagar. The ruins at Hampi are a huge collection of heritage sites which are together called the ‘Group of Monuments at Hampi’. Some other famous ones include Narasimha, Ganesa, Hemkuta Group of Temples, Achyutaraya Temple, Lotus Mahal Complex, several bazaars surrounding the temple complex, some of the residential quarters and living areas.
15. Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha
The Sun Temple at Konark is a famous temple built in 13th century in Konark, Odissha. It was built by King Narasimhadeva I from Eastern Ganga Dynasty in 1250 AD. The Sun Temple displays a beautiful shape of a huge chariot with the carved stone wheel, walls and pillars. The chariot is laid by six artistically carved horses. This Sun temple is also acknowledged as the largest Brahmin sanctuaries in India. It was originally built at the mouth of Chandrabhaga River but the waterline retreated since then. This artistic marvel undoubtedly depicts the splendour of Kalinga architecture.
16. Valley Of Flowers, Uttarakhand
Valley of Flowers in Chamoli district of Uttrakhand is almost 300km to the north of the city of Sages, Rishikesh. This is an amazing park, endowed with the unique beauty of Western Himalayas. Valley of Flowers is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for the uncultivated natural blooms bounded by the snow capped peaks. The Valley of Flowers has been acknowledged as the union point of the Western Himalayas and Eastern Himalayas. This valley is also famous for ultimate varieties of medicinal herbs, including the pious Sanjeevani which has a reference in the holy epic Ramayana.
17. Chola Temples, Tamil Nadu
Chola Temples were constructed in the southern part of India under the reign of Chola Empire. The most renowned temples of the group are the Brihadisvara Temple, Temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram and the Airavatesvara Temple. These temples are the gems in the crown of the Chola architecture. The rituals and customs that are observed by people, thousands of years back are still performed in these temples. The 3 temples depict the ancient cultural heritage of the Tamilians and the indivisible part of the historical era.
18. Rani Ki Vav, Patan, Gujarat
An overt example of excellent Indian architectural marvel of ancient time Rani ki Vav was built in 3rd millennium BC in the remembrance of the Kings. It was constructed during the reign of Solanki Dynasty. As the legend goes it was constructed to honour King Bhimdev I, who was the son of the founder of the dynasty. Rani ki Vav has been recently declared as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014 owing to the stepped corridor structures and stone carvings. The sculptures that are found here are mostly devoted to 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu and hence this place is highly venerated. Besides being the place of worship it is also a storage place for water. The architectural design of Rani of Vav is an inverted structure divided into seven levels of wells, each having its own religious significance.
19. Kaziranga Wild Life Sanctuary, Assam
Kaziranga Wild Life Sanctuary in Assam is famous for its one horn rhinoceroses, and many untarnished natural areas in India. This World Heritage Site in India was a project commenced by Lord Curzon when his wife urged him to do so as she saw that the species of rhinoceroses was an endangered one. The park is on the flooded terrain of the River Brahmaputra and comprises mainly of forests, dense grasslands and many streams and lakes that run from end to end. This park is a home to around 15 endangered species of animals and mammals like tiger, gibbon, leopard, dolphin, wild boar, swamp dear etc.
20. Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal
Sunderbans National Park in West Bengal is popular for the Royal Bengal Tigers and is also known as the Tiger Reserve and Biosphere Reserve with its ideal location in the Sunderban Deltas which is formed by the river Ganges in the Bay of Bengal. The whole of the reserve is densely covered by Mangrove forests. Besides having Royal Bengal Tiger in abundance, other species of animals found here are wild boars, dolphins, mammals and other amphibians. The rarest found salt water crocodile is the luring attraction of the place. Owing to a recent encounter with local residents many tigers have been called “man-eaters.”