Heritage Sites in India – Part 1

  • Hampi
    Hampi, in Karnataka, is one of those trips you definitely need to take once in your life. It’s an experience that keeps giving. With so many places to visit and explore, your days will be filled with wonder and excitement. Once you’re back in the evening, watch the sun go down and the sky and the river turn a bright orange and vermilion, plug yourself off and let yourself get transported back in time.

Hampi

  • Pattadakal
    Popular for Chalukyan architecture, Pattadakal located in Bijapur district of Karnataka was also a holy place for the royal coronation, ‘Pattadakisuvolal’. Temples here showcase the blending of the Rekha, Nagara, Prasada and the Dravida Vimana styles of temple building.

Pattadakal

  • Red Fort
    Constructed in 1639, by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as the palace for his capital city of Shahjahanabad, the Red Fort as much a historical landmark as an architectural delight. A fusion of the Timurid, and the Persian traditional architecture, the Red Fort went on to become a model that was widely followed in Delhi, and the surrounding states for years to come.

Red Fort

  • Humayun’s Tomb
    In east Delhi lies the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent, commissioned by Bega Begum better known as Haji Begum for Mughal emperor Humayun. Since 1993, when it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s undergone extensive restoration. In addition to Humayun, many other notable Mughal royals are buried here.

Humayuns Tomb

  • Qutub Minar
    Qutb-ud-din Aibak built part of what is now the Qutub Complex, over the ruins of Lal Kot and Qila Rai Pithora, to which the Minar was later added by his successor Iltutmish, and the other structures by various other rulers of the Tughlaq dynasty.

Humayuns Tomb

  • Ajanta Caves
    About 29 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments clumped together in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra make the Ajanta Caves. Inside these caves are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art that ended up influencing art styles that followed. The caves were built in two phases- the first starting around the 2nd century BCE, and the second around 400–650 CE. Textual records suggest that these caves served as a monsoon retreat for monks, as well as a resting-site for merchants and pilgrims in ancient India. The insides are painted with legends of Buddha’s previous births, and pictures of other Buddhist deities and the Jataka tales.

Ajanta Caves

  • Ellora Caves
    One of the largest rock-cut temple-monastery complexes in the world, Ellora caves is home to the Kailasha Temple, the largest monolithic rock excavation in the world. The Kailasha Temple is a chariot shaped shrine dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. 34 of over a 100 caves are open to the public- 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu, 5 Jain, all clumped together in the basalt cliffs in the Charanandri hills, suggesting religious concord. They feature deities and mythologies that were prevalent in the 1st millennium CE. Funding for the construction of the monuments was provided by royals, traders and the wealth of the region.Although the caves served as monasteries, temples and a rest stop for pilgrims, its location on an ancient South Asian trade route also made it an important commercial center in the Deccan region.

Ellora Caves

  • Elephanta Caves
    2 kilometers west of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port on the coast of Maharashtra, lie the Elephanta Islands housing the Elephanta Caves. Consisting of a few Shaivite caves and Buddhist stupas, these caves represent the syncretism of the two faiths in the past. The caves are speculated to have originated between the 5th and the 7th centuries, however, an unambiguous conclusion on the exact year hasn’t been reached thus far.

Elephanta Caves

  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja Terminus
    A fine example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, the Terminus stands today where once a humble Bori Bunder station stood. Frederick William Stevens was commissioned in 1887 by the reigning queen Victoria in celebration of her Golden Jubilee to gift herself this magnificent structure that still decorates the glorious city of Mumbai.

Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus

  • Agra Fort
    The residence of the Mughal Emperors until 1638 when the capital moved to Delhi sits 2.5km northwest of its more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. Multiple additions were made to this gorgeous fort by the residing royalty over the years. Owing to its grand history and breathtaking elegance, it features a lot of popular culture as well as literary features in addition to the countless folklores it’s inspired.

Agra Fort

  • Fatehpur Sikri
    A small city northwest of Agra, Fatehpur Sikri(the city of victory) was founded by Akbar in 1569 and later abandoned in 1610. Akbar was majorly involved in the construction and architecture of the city, inserting his Persian heritage into the design. The palace is largely intact since it’s been in near continued use over the centuries. It is built out of red sandstone and houses some magnificent monuments that adequately reflect the glorious history of Mughal elegance.

Fatehpur Sikhri

  • Taj Mahal
    One of the 7 wonders of the world, and known the world over as one of the greatest symbols of love, this mausoleum built of ivory-white marble by Shah Jahan for his chief consort, Mumtaz Mahal, needs no introduction. It is the centerpiece of a complex spread over 17 hectares. Tours are available for both days and nights except for Friday nights during Ramadan. The beauty for which the Yamuna is said to have altered off of its course is just as breathtaking at all times, but it’s popular knowledge that hardly anyone describes having seen anything more beautiful after having seen the Taj on a full moon night.

Taj Mahal

  • Keoladeo Ghana
    Formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Keoladeo is an avifauna sanctuary that hosts thousands of birds, especially over the winter. The sanctuary is a man-made wetland which protects Bharatpur from getting flooded and provides grazing land for local cattle. These diverse habitats are home to 366 bird species, 379 floral species, 50 species of fish, 13 species of snakes, 5 species of lizards, 7 amphibian species, 7 turtle species, and a variety of other invertebrates. Every year thousands of migratory waterfowl visit the park for wintering and breeding. According to the founder of the WWF, Peter Scott, it’s one of the world’s best bird areas.

Keoladeo ghana national park

  • Jantar Mantar
    The astronomical observatory built by Prince Jai Singh II was to cater to his deep scholarly interest in astronomy and cosmology. Designed for observation of celestial bodies with the naked eye, there are instruments which could help locate exact positions of stars. This ancient observatory also houses sundials, that use the position of the sun to tell time.

Jantar Mantar

  • Champaner- Pavagadh Archaeological Park
    Sprawled over 3280 acres, with a buffer zone of 6950 acres, the site is believed to have been inhabited since the Chalcolithic era. While the ownership changed hands between Rajput kings and Mughal emperors, this site was a stronghold that neither wanted to give up and hence became a basin of history and culture.Pavagadh Hill rises to a height of 800 meters (2,600 ft), has a geological setting of reddish-yellow stone, and is considered to be one of the oldest rock formations in India. Remaining at the site is the Royal precincts within fortified walls, the entrance gate or the city gate, the mosque outside the fortifications, the royal walkway leading into the palace, and the second enclosure consisting of unexplored Jahanpanah. The urban planning of the city reveals well laid and paved streets which lead to the city center. The residential area consists of houses of both rich and poor; rich people’s houses are built with scenic gardens and water channels. Public parks and pavilions surround the housing complex. However, temples, mosques, and tombs are mostly concentrated in the Pavagadh Hills.

Champaner

  • Sundarbans
    Located in the deltas created by Ganga, Jamuna, Meghna, and Padma, it is riddled with complex tidal waterways and mudflats and small islands. Rich in salt-tolerant mangrove forests and home to rare fauna such as the Bengal tiger, the estuarine crocodile, and the Indian python, in addition to 260 bird species, this is an excellent example of diverse and dynamic ecology.

Sundarban

  • Mahabalipuram Shore Temple
    One of India’s oldest temples, this shore temple overlooks the Bay of Bengal and has one of the best sunrises on the southeastern coast.

Mahabalipuram

  • The hill-forts of Rajasthan
  • Kumbhalgarh
    Built by Rana Kumbha, this fort is the birthplace of the most renowned king of Mewar, Maharana Pratap. Second in size only to the Chittorgarh Fort, this fort is believed to have been designed by Madan, a famous architect of the era. The frontal walls are fifteen feet thick. Kumbhalgarh has seven fortified gateways. There are over 360 temples within the fort of Hindu and Jain dedications. From atop the palace, you can see kilometers into the Aravalli Range. The sand dunes of the Thar Desert can also be seen from the fort walls.

KUMBHALGARH_FORT

  • Jaisalmer Fort
    Rao Jaisal built this magnificent fort, popularly known as Sone ka Quila because of what the sandstone fort looks like in the bright sun of the Thar. The fort entrance is guarded by canons, and popular sites within the fort include stages, and rani mahals and several temples. The fort is an excellent example of Islamic and Rajput architecture blended together.

jaisalmer fort

  • Amber Fort
    Built by Raja Man Singh I, this fort has Hindu Rajput elements. The cooling systems via water channels that run all across the fort keep it cool, in addition to the breeze. The halls are decorated with gorgeous mosaic art. The doors are ivory and sandalwood, and the Sheesh Mahal that also features in the epic Hindi Cinema Mughal-E-Azam is made with thousands of mirrors on its walls. It was built to appease his queen, as a unique gift of a thousand lit stars when she lit but a candle in the hall.

Amber Fort

  • Gagron Fort
    A jal-van durg, guarded by a moat on one side and a forest on the other, Gagron Fort in Jhalawar is an amazing architectural feat for more reasons than one. For example, it has no foundation and just sits root-less on a hillock in the Aravallis.
    Also, an interesting factoid is that the third and final fortified wall of this fort is in the form of a labyrinth.

  • Ranthambore Fort
    It is likely that the construction of the fort began mid-10th century and continued through a few centuries that followed. Largely in possession of Rajput royalty, the fort that began with Jain ties collected various architectural modification- some religious, most cultural, over the centuries as the ownership changed families, and dynasties.

Ranthambore Fort

  • Chittorgarh
    A crown jewel in the legend of Rajput gallantry and the history of ancient India, Chittorgarh Fort stands strong and majestic, sprawled over 692 acres in modern-day Rajasthan. Believed to have been built by Chitrangad Mori, this fort has seen many sieges and has borne witness to the bravery and pride of Rajput men and women, as legend suggests.

Chittorgarh

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Booking for Heritage Sites in India – Part 1