One of Seven Wonders of the World, White Marble Mughal Architecture, the Taj Mahal was built by emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife, Mumtaj Mahal. It is located at the bank of river Yamuna in Agra. It was completed in 1653 with the estimated cost of 32 million Indian rupees which would today stand up to 58 billion Indian rupees. It is considered as the best example of Mughal architecture worldwide and is called the “Jewel of Muslim Art in India”. This is probably the monument that is most recognised the world over for its association with the Indian heritage sites
Located in Madhya Pradesh, Khajuraho is a famous UNESCO World Heritage site in India. Khajuraho is a unique heritage site which is renowned for a group of Hindu and Jain Temples situated 175 km south-east of Jhansi. They are well known for their Nagara style symbolism and erotic figures and sculptures. These sensuous stone carvings of human and animal form in erotic poses are very aesthetically portrayed and stand testimony to the rich cultural heritage of India. Most of these monuments were built between 950 to 1050 CE under the reign of the Chandella dynasty. It consists of a total of 85 Temples spread across an area of 20 square kilometres. The Kandariya temple is the most prominent of all of these temples in the Khajuraho complex.
Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Northern part of Karnataka. It lies within the ruins of the ancient, prosperous kingdom of Vijayanagar. The ruins at Hampi are a collection of heritage sites depicting the excellent Dravidian style of art and architecture. The most significant heritage monument in this site is the Virupaksha Temple, which continues to be a significant religious centre for the Hindus. There are several other monuments which are a part of this heritage site; Together, they’re collectively known as the ‘Group of Monuments at Hampi’. Some of the other known ones include the Krishna temple complex, Narasimha, Ganesa, Hemakuta group of temples, Achyutaraya temple complex, Vitthala temple complex, Pattabhirama temple complex, Lotus Mahal complex, several puras or bazaars surrounding the temple complex, and also living quarters and residential areas.
Famous for/as Buddhist Rock-cut Cave Monuments, Richly Decorated Paintings and Frescoes similar to Sigiriya Paintings.
One of the first World Heritage sites in India, the Ajanta Caves date back to around 2nd century BCE to 650 CE and consist of the most beautiful masterpieces of 31 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments, paintings and sculpture. The caves very built in two different phases. First of Satavahana Period under the patronage of Satvahana Dynasty (230BCE-220CE). Second, the caves of Vakataka Period under the reign of Emperor Harishena of Vakataka Dynasty. The style of Ajanta art and architecture has had a revolutionary impact on the way in Indian art and architecture has progressed all throughout history. Having mainly carvings and sculptures related to the life of Buddha, one can say that this marks the beginning of Indian Classical Art.
Famous for/as Buddhist, Jain and Hindu Temples and Monasteries, Caves Excavated out of Hills, Rock-cut Architecture.
The Ellora Caves are a famous World Heritage site in India and an archaeological site, ranging 29 kilometres Northwest of the city of Aurangabad. The Ellora Caves are well known for their Indian-rock cut architecture. There are about 34 rock-cut temples and caves which can be dated to about 600 to 1000 AD, are essential in terms of understanding the lives of the people living in these times. The presence of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples and sculptures portray the tolerance which was extended towards different faiths and beliefs in Ancient Indian History. The excavated site consists of Charanandri Hills, Buddhist Hindu and Jain rock-cut temples, Viharas and Maths of 5th and 10th century.
Bodh Gaya is located almost 96kilometrese away from Patna, Bihar and is one of the Indian heritage sites recognised by UNESCO. It’s an important religious centre for the Buddhists as this was the place where Mahatma Buddha attained enlightenment. The holy Bodhi Tree is the site where Siddhartha gained Enlightenment and became Gautam Buddha. The famous Mahabodhi Temple was established in the reign of Ashoka the Great in about approximately 250 BCE. It’s one of the earliest Buddhist temples. Currently, the Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya comprises the 50 m tall Mahabodhi Temple, the Vajrasana, sacred Bodhi Tree and other six sacred sites of Buddha’s enlightenment, surrounded by numerous ancient Votive stupas. Owing to all these factors, Bodh Gaya is considered to be the holiest pilgrimage spot for the Buddhists.
7. Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha
Famous for/as Black Pagoda, Chariot of the Sun, Kalinga Architecture, Included in Seven Wonders of India.
Not very far from the famous beach town of Puri, the Sun Temple at Konark is a 13th-century temple situated in Konark, Odisha. It was built by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty in around AD 1250. The Sun Temple is in the shape of a gigantic chariot with carved stone wheel, pillars and walls and is led by six enormously carved horses. It’s also considered to be one of the largest brahmin sanctuaries in India. The temple is originally said to be built at the mouth of river Chandrabhaga but the waterline receded since then. This World Heritage Site in India reflects the grandeur of the traditional style of Kalinga Architecture, which was prevalent then.
Famous for/as: Shahjahanabad, Persian, Timuri and Indian Architectural Styles, Red Sandstone Architecture, Moti Masjid.
Situated in the centre of the historic city of New Delhi, the Red Fort was built by Emperor Shah Jahan when he shifted his capital from Agra to Delhi, or what was known as Shahjahanabad at that time. The fort became the political hub of the Mughals. Under Shah Jahan, Mughal art and architecture reached its zenith, and the Red Fort is the perfect example of that. One can see the blending of Indo-Islamic, Timurid, Hindu and Persian forms of architecture in several facets of the Red Fort. It’s made up of red sandstone and houses several other smaller buildings such as the private pavilions, the Diwan-i-aam, the Diwan-i-Khas. The Red Fort is one of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India and is managed directly by the Archaeological Survey of India.
9. Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh
Famous for/as Monolithic Pillars, Palaces, Temples and Monasteries, Mauryan Architecture, Ye Dharma Hetu Inscriptions.
The Buddhist Monuments located at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh are a manifestation of Heritage of India, and they are the oldest stone structures in India. Initially commissioned by emperor Ashoka in 3rd century BCE, the Sanchi Stupa is located 46-kilometre north-east of Bhopal. Its core was a hemispherical brick structure built over the relics of Buddha and was crowned by the Chatra which symbolises rank. The stupa was vandalised during 2nd century BCE and renovated during the Satavahana Period when the gateways and the balustrade were built and coloured. Apart from the Sanchi stupa, several other structures exist here, such as monolithic pillars, temples, palaces and monasteries. It remained an important pilgrimage site for the Buddhists till about 12th century AD, after which the religion declined in popularity.
10. Chola Temples, Tamil Nadu
Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur, Brihadisvara Temple, Gangaikondacholisvaram and Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram.
Famous for/asChola Architecture, Sculpture, Painting and Bronze Casting.
These temples were built in Southern Part of India during the rule of Chola empire. The Brihadisvara Temple, the Temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram and the Airavatesvara Temple are the most important of all of these temples. The Brihadisvara temple was built under the reign of Rajaraja 1 and is a milestone when it comes to Chola architecture. The temple at Gangaikondacholapuram was patronised by Rajendra 1 and was dedicated to Lord Shiva. And the Airavatesvara temple was built during the time of Rajaraja II and is aesthetically different from the other two. These temples stand testimony to the architectural splendour and beauty of Chola art, architecture and sculpture. These temples are living temples and the rituals and festivities which were observed by people thousands of years ago, are still held. Hence, these three temples reflect the ancient culture and heritage of the Tamilians and form an inseparable part of their ancient history.
Famous for/as Worlds 2/3 rd Great One-Horned Rhinoceroses, Highest Density of Tigers in World, Elephants, Wild Water Buffalo, Swamp Deer and recognised Important Bird Area.
Famous for its one horn rhinoceroses, Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Assam and is one of the untouched natural areas in India. It is said that this World Heritage Site in India, was a project initiated by Lord Curzon when his wife failed to see a single Rhinoceros in the region and urged her husband to take measured regarding the protection of these endangered species. This park lies on the flood plains of the river Brahmaputra and consists mainly of dense grasslands, forests and also has several streams and lakes running through it. Kaziranga contains about 15 endangered Indian faunal species, of which the Rhino is the most endangered. Other mammals include capped langur, hoolock gibbon, tiger, leopard, sloth bear, Ganges dolphin, otter, wild boar, water buffalo, gaur, sambar, swamp deer, hog deer and Indian muntjac.
12. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
The Pancha Rathas Temples, Ganesha Ratha, Cave Temples of Mahabalipuram, Structural Temples including the Shore Temple and the Olakkannesvara Temple and the Descent of the Ganges.
Famous for/as Largest Open Air Rock Relief, Chariot Temples, Mandapas, Pallava Dynasty Architecture.
The Temples are situated in the town of Mahabalipuram which is approximately 58 kilometres from Chennai in the Coromandel Coast of Bay of Bengal. These temples were built under the reign of the Pallava rulers, and the striking feature of these temples is the fact that they are all carved out of rock and an important in terms of Ratha architecture in India. The group of the monument includes 40 sanctuaries including the largest open-air-bas-relief, e.g., Ganga’s Descent. These World Heritage Sites in India constitutes the art of Pallava Period with sites likes Pancha Rathas, Dharamaraja Ratha, Arjuna Ratha, Draupadi Ratha, etc. Also, the Cave temples of Mahabalipuram which constitute more than half a dozen caves.
Famous for/as Biosphere Reserve, Largest Estuarine Mangrove Forest, Bengal Tiger and Salt-Water Crocodile, Shared with Bangladesh.
Famous for the Royal Bengal Tigers, the Sunderban National Park is a known Tiger reserve and a Biosphere Reserve located in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is situated on the Sunderban Deltas formed by the river Ganges in the Bay of Bengal. It is one of the largest reserves in India covered mostly by dense Mangrove forests. It’s the world’s largest mangrove forest reserve. Home to the critically endangered Royal Bengal Tiger, there are also other animal species such as the Gangetic dolphin, spotted deer, wild boar and other mammal and amphibian species. The rare saltwater crocodile is another attraction of this reserve. The tiger population of India is the maximum in this location. For all these reasons this one of the most important Indian heritage sites.
14. Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi
Famous for/as Precursor to Taj Mahal, Mughal Architecture, A Tomb, Many Water Channels, A Pavilion and A Bath.This World Heritage Site in India was built by Begum Bega, the first wife of Humayun between 1565-1572. IT is the only monument which has gone several restoration works and is complete. It’s a tomb complex consisting of several smaller monuments including the tombs of Isa Khan Niyazi, an Afghan noble in Sher Shah Suri’s court of the Suri dynasty.
15. Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Famous for/as Architectural Astronomical Instruments, Maharaja Jai Singh II, Largest of its kind Observatory.
The Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observatory built in 18th century Rajasthan. It is an astronomical observatory which was created by the Rajput King Sawai Jai Singh of Rajasthan in 1738 CE. It is a collection of 19 astronomical instruments including the world’s largest stone Sundial. All these instruments are man-made. The observatory consists of tools which were used to calculate celestial coordinate systems, the horizon-zenith local network, the equatorial system and the ecliptic system. One of India’s best-preserved observatories, this monument is an excellent example of the scientific as well as the cultural heritage of India.
16. Agra Fort, Uttar Pradesh
Situated quite close to the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort is one of the most important monumental structures built by the Mughal empire. Though established in Mughal Era, during the time of Akbar, the Agra Fort is a fusion of Persian art of the Timurid and the Indian forms of architecture. This is so because the fort was originally a brick monument known as Badalgarh, held by Raja Badal Singh, a Hindu Shikarwar Rajput King. After the invasion, Sikander Lodi was the first Sultan of Delhi to shift to Agra and live in the fort. The Agra Fort includes a number of monuments like Khas Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Muhamman Burie(an octagonal Tower), Diwan-e-Khas, Diwan-e-Am, Moti Masjid and Nagina Masjid.
The name of the city itself denotes the victory (Fateh) of Akhbar over Chittor and Ranthambore, Fatehpur Sikri constitutes of four main Monuments. The Jama Masjid, The Buland Darwaza, which is the most significant door of Asia, made of a specific wood imported from Australia which would sink in water. Panch Mahal or Jada Baai ka Mahal, which is also considered as the origin place of the Navaratnas (Birbal, Tansen, etc.). It also contained the Diwan-e-Khas and Diwan-e-aam. Interior to the Buland Darwaza lies the Tomb of Salim Chishti. All these Mughal buildings are notable Indian heritage sites.
18. Rani Ki Vav, Patan, Gujarat
Built-in the 3rd millennium BC in the memory of the kings, its an explicit example of beautiful Ancient Indian architecture. Constructed during the time of the Solanki dynasty, legend says that it was built in the honour and memory of Bhimdev 1, the son of the founder of the family, by his widowed queen Udayamati. It was recently declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014, owing to its architectural marvel and splendour. Rani-ki-vav is well known for its Stepped Corridors, Sculptures and Stone Carvings in the Well. Most of the sculptures in the well are devoted to Lord Vishnu in the form of his ten avatars, which signify his return to the world. Apart from being a place for storage of water, this vav also has a spiritual meaning attested to it. It is designed as an inverted temple and is divided into seven levels of wells, each having its own importance as per the religious and mythological works mentioned in the canonical literature.
19. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, Karnataka
Pattadakal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important tourist site located in Karnataka. It is famous for its Chalukya style of architecture that originated in Aihole and blended with the Nagara and Dravidian styles of architecture. It is at Pattadakal that all the Chalukya kings were coronated and was the capital of the Chalukyas as well. Notable for the numerous temples constructed by the Chalukya rulers, it includes eight temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Jain and Shaivite sanctuaries. The famous monuments are- Virupaksha Temple, Sangameshwara Temple, Chandrashekhara Temple, MallikarjuTemple, Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Jagannath Temple, Jain Temple and many more.
Famous for/as Hindu and Buddhist Caves, Caves on Island in the Arabian Sea, Basal Rock Caves, Shiva Temples.
The Elephanta caves are located on an island in the Arabian City, not very far from the city of Mumbai. The chain of sculpted caves located on Elephanta Island is also known as Gharapuri. There are numerous archaeological remains which offer us a glimpse into the rich, cultural past of Indian civilisation. These caves are famous for their rock-cut sculptures and carvings depicting Shiva as the Creator and the Destroyer of the Universe. The most important of all the caves here is Cave 1, where one can see the Sadashiva at the entrance of the cave, which depicts three sides of Shiva: as the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer. The caves are carved in solid basalt rock and lie 10 kilometres east to the city of Mumbai.