India is one of the world’s oldest civilization has a rich culture and heritage. And the country’s heritage mostly lies in the treasure of its historical monuments, museums, gardens, and artistic architecture spread across its topography.
Of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in the world, around 38 are in India - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO World Heritage Sites are significant places of cultural heritage and history. These are picked out from different parts of the world by the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972.
But apart from the UNESCO sites, there are many more stunning places of historical importance that proudly manifest India’s deep and fascinating heritage – all of which are a grand feast to the eyes and a delight to explore.
Some of India’s best heritage sites are:
The Taj Mahal situated in Agra in India, is a mausoleum (a commemoration or tomb). It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife Begum Mumtaz Mahal who had died in 1631. Made entirely in white marble in typical Mughal architecture, it is a structure that has elements from Persian, Islamic, and Indian architectural styles. It is a popular monument that is counted among the Seven Wonders of the World, and countless number of people from all over the world visit it each year.
Ajanta and Ellora caves situated in Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra are cave temples carved out of whole mountain rocks. The artwork inside Ajanta has artwork related to Buddhism while the Ellora cave complex has murals and sculptures relating to Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. These were originally created between 6th and 12th centuries (during Chalukya and Rashtrakuta dynasties) and were rediscovered by the British in the 19th century.
This is an ancient temple situated at Konark, in the state of Odisha. It is a temple built in the form of a chariot (which is supposed to belong to Surya the sun god) with 24 wheels, led by a team of seven horses and is beautifully decorated with stone carvings. The temple is also known as the "Black Pagoda”. It was built with oxidized (weathering) sandstone by King Narasimhadeva-I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty in the 13th century. This is one of the most beautiful temples in India of architectural as well as historical importance.
Monuments and temples in Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh in India are attributed to the Chandela dynasty that ruled in 10th century in India. The elements that have survived reflect the beliefs of Hinduism and Jainism. Due to these incredible temples and monuments with unique original artistic creation which are a proof of the Chandela Culture (around 22 that survived and were preserved over the years, out of over 80 that were built during Chandela dynasty) Khajuraho was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Literally translating to “the City of Victory”, Fatehpur Sikri is a monument built during the second half of the 16th century by the Mughal Emperor Akbar (1556–1605). It was the capital of the Empire and court of the grand Mughal empire for 14 years. The monument is built in Mughal architectural style, and has become very popular among tourists.
The Great Living Chola Temples, as they’re called were built by kings of the Chola Empire, spread all over the southern state of Tamil Nadu. This cultural heritage site (declared as a UNESCO heritage site in late 1980s) includes three temples from the 11th and 12th centuries namely,
These temples are a testament to the architectural, sculptural, brilliance of the Chola dynasty and showcase beautiful paintings and bronze casting art work.
The mountain railways of India are a group of 3 railways in India with elevated trails and stunning views of mountains.
These were declared as World Heritage UNESCO sites for their effective rail link through rugged, mountainous terrains. A train ride in at least one of these tracks is a must-have experience.
Some more places of heritage, architectural and historical importance include Red Fort (Delhi), Qutub Minar, Char Minar (Hyderabad), Rani ki Vav (Gujarat), Victoria Memorial (Kolkata) Jallianwala Bagh (Punjab), India Gate (Delhi), Gateway of India (Mumbai), Amer Fort (Jaipur), Kumbhalgarh Fort (Rajasthan), Lakshmi Vilas Palace (Vadodara), Bodh Gaya Mahabodhi temple, Mysore Palace (Karnataka), Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace (Karnataka), Mahabalipuram Shore temple (Tamil Nadu), Cellular Jail (Port Blair) and so on.!
India is a historical wonder and a proven paradise like no other especially for history and architecture enthusiasts. With its unique architectural delights, intermingled with centuries old natural charm, traditional art, and even many foods that are a legacy and part of heritage, India is a place that you would make you fall in love with and ardently appreciate history, art and architecture!