UNESCO Sites

6 Archaeological Sites in India that will make you pack your backpack and travel today!

You need not be an archaeology student to enjoy the rich historical heritage of India. The stunning architecture and stories of each monument in India will mesmerize you. India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and has architectural monuments that represent each period of time. Many of these monuments have been recognized of holding immense value to the world and have been designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. We have compiled a list of 6 heritage sites that you must visit for sure.

Grandeur of Vijayanagara Empire – Hampi


Amidst the boulder hills,River Tungabhadra weaves its way through the ancient town of Vijayanagara, now known as Hampi. Dating back to the 13th Century, the town was built by the rulers of Vijayanagara Empire, prominently by Krishna Deva Raya. The imposing Virupaksha Temple, Vittala Temple with the stone chariot and the Krishna Temple complex are a testimony to the amazing stone architecture of the era. Spread across 26 sq.km. The best way to explore the town is by hiring an auto rickshaw or a bicycle. The area is also known for bouldering and rock climbing.

How to reach – Hampi is at about 350 KM from Bangalore City and can be reach in either bus or train.
Where to Stay – The Hampi Island has many budget accommodation options for backpackers and is frequented by foreign travelers who stay here for extended periods of time. Mowgli Guest House is a great place to stay.

Magnificence of Pallava Dynasty – Mahabalipuram


Off the coast of Bay of Bengal is a monument that has stood the test of time and even a tsunami – The Shore Temple of Mahabalipuram. Established in 630AD, the city was a large sea-port and was known as Mamallapuram. It was built by the King Narasimhavarman – I and has several important and stunning architectural wonders such as Arjuna’sPenance (Carving on a monolithic rock), The Nine Ratha temples each for a character from the Mahabharatha and cave temples. The best time to visit this place is early morning as it is always a humid and hot here. You can best club this trip with a visit to Pondicherry, a quaint historical coastal town.

How to reach –Mahabalipuram is at about 60 Km from Chennai.You can take a bus from Chennai to reach the destination.
Where to Stay – Stay at the Vinodhara Guest House in Mahabalipuram

Astonishing Multi-religious architecture – Ellora Caves


The Ellora Caves are one of the largest rock-cut cave complexes in the world. A complex of more than a 100 caves; the magnitude of that went into its creation is unimaginable! The caves contain three styles of architecture – Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain, with the earliest caves being carved out as early as 800 CE. The most spectacular cave is the Kailasha Temple which has been carved out of a single rock! The entire cave has been built like a Hindu temple complete with a gateway, hall and sanctum. It’s still a mystery how the temple was imagined and built without assembling any rocks! You can combine a visit to this place with the nearby Ajanta Caves which also have spectacular cave architecture and paintings.

How to reach – Ellora is about 30 KM away from Aurangabad and you can take a bus or taxi to the destination.
Where to Stay – There are no hostels in Aurangabad but you can find cheap and decent budget hotels. One of the best is Hotel Indraprasth that’s run by the Tourism Department.

Might of the Delhi Sultanate – Qutb Minar


The tall and imposing red sandstone tower known as the Qutb Minar is probably the most iconic monuments of India and Delhi in particular. Built way back in 1199 AD it was meant to be used a tower for the Muezzin’s call for prayer. It was built by Qutb’ud-Din Aibak and later many additions were made to it by the following sultans. The entire area has several other monuments like Quwaat-Ul-Mosque, Alai Minar, Iron Pillar and the tombs of Iltutmish, Alauddin Khilji and Imam Zamim. The best time to visit Qutb Minar is during Sunset when the golden light highlights the beautiful Minar and its intricate carvings.

How to Reach – Qutb Minar is located in the heart of Delhi, the capital city of India
Where to Stay – Delhi has a well-established hostel culture and you will find several hostels that are perfect for backpackers.

Glory of Chola Empire – Thanjavur


The Chola Empire was an important dynasty in that it changed the course of history and set examples for the Dravidian way of life.Especially the ‘Great Living temples of Cholas’ have set a standard for the Dravidian style of architecture. Three temples form a part of this set – Brihadisvara at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara at Gangaikondacholapuram and Airavatesvara at Darasuram. These temples built in 11th and 12th century CE are still used today for worship, hence called as ‘living temples’. The ornate sculptures and carvings on the granite temples along with introduction of towers and temple halls are a spectacular sight.

How to Reach –Thanjavur can be reached from Chennai by Road (350 KM) or by air from Tiruchirapalli, which is 60 KM away from Thanjavur

Where to Stay – There are no hostels in Thanjavur, however there are several budget hotels you can choose from

The Great Churches and Convents – Goa



India has a long colonial history.Especially the Portuguese left a fine legacy of beautiful church architecture. In the area of Old Goa are the grand churches of Se’ Cathedral, Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, Chapel of St. Catherine, Basilica of Bom Jesus; Church of Lady of Rosary; and Church of St. Augustine. These churches and cathedrals were built in the 16th and 17th century when the Portuguese rule was at its peak.

The Basilica of Bom Jesus is one of the most popular ones and has the unique distinction of housing the remains of St. Francis Xavier. He passed away in 1552 but his mortal remains have not denigrated over time! In fact there is also a public viewing of his body every ten years.
Goa is a delight for backpackers and one can spend many days and weeks traveling through the length of Goa, experiencing the beaches and nature.

How to Reach – Goa has an International airport, you can stay in Panjim and travel to the churches. The best way to travel in Goa is by a two-wheeler.
Where to Stay – Goa has one of the best backpackers’ ecosystem and several hostels and guesthouses.

Have you traveled to any of these destinations? Tell us about your backpacking experiences in the comments below.

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

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