Must-Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites In India
India has a rich history, ruled by many great leaders, established kingdoms and inspired by spiritual gurus and culture, who left their legacies and culture behind them. India has the sixth-largest number of world heritage sites in the world, a total of 37 as of now. From iconic landmarks to cultural sites to natural sites, here are the top 10 must-visit UNESCO world heritage sites in India.
10 Must-Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites In India
1. Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh:
Taj Mahal has become the most known site in India. This masterpiece is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Situated in Uttar Pradesh, the Taj Mahal was built over a 16-year period between 1631 and 1648 by Emperor Shahjahan in memory of his third wife Begum Mumtaz Mahal. Made in white marble in typical Mughal architecture, Taj Mahal’s beauty can’t be described in a few words. Taj Mahal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage in 1983. Uttar Pradesh is also home to two other world heritage sites of India- Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
2. Ajanta Caves & Ellora Caves, Maharashtra:
Maharashtra is home to a total of five world heritage sites- Ajanta Caves & Ellora Caves, Elephanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and The Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai. The Ajanta Caves was built between the 2nd century BC to the 6th century. Starting from the reign of Emperor Ashoka, the Ajanta Caves was built in two phases. The Buddhist caves are richly decorated fresco paintings. The Ellora Caves, built in between 600 to 1000 AD, presents a cultural mix of religious arts of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. There are 34 monasteries and temples sculpted into rock walls displaying the art of India’s ancient civilization.
3. Konârak Sun Temple, Odisha:
The Konark Sun Temple was built in the 13th-century by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is built in the form of the chariot of, the God of the sun, Surya, with 24 wheels. It is heavily decorated with symbolic stone carvings describing ancient tales and when the first ray of the sun strikes the main entrance, images of giraffes, snakes, elephants, and mythological creatures, etc can be seen drawn on the walls.
4. Nanda Devi & Valley of Flowers National Parks, Uttarakhand:
Nestled high in West Himalaya, the Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks are two of the most amazing world heritage sites in India. The Valley of Flowers National Park is a richly diverse area known for its natural beauty and also for being home to rare and endangered animals. Nanda Devi National Park is known for its rugged mountain range. It also includes the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, one of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
5. Kaziranga National Park & Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam:
Two of the best places in India to observe wildlife in its free atmosphere located in Assam. The Kaziranga National Park is known for its unique natural environment and being home to the largest population of the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros. The park also protects other species of animals. The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the foothills of the Himalayas. It is home to several species of plants, 55 species of mammals, 36 reptile species, three amphibians and 350 species of birds.
6. The Jantar Mantar, Rajasthan:
Rajasthan is home to three world heritage sites of India- The Jantar Mantar, Keoladeo National Park and Hill Forts of Rajasthan. Built by Maharaja Jai Singh II, the Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments showing the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of an Indian prince. He had built a total of five such facilities at several locations but Jaipur observatory is the largest and best preserved of these.
7. Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal:
Home to the largest estuarine mangrove forest in the world, Sundarbans National Park is not only a world heritage site but also one of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Covered by mangrove forests, Sundarbans is one of the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger and several other species of bird, reptile and invertebrate species.
8. Qutub Minar and its Monuments, Delhi:
Built by Qutab-Ud-Din Aibak as a victory tower to commemorate the triumph of Mohd. Ghori over his arch-rival Prithvi Raj Chauhan, the Qutb Minar is the centerpiece of the complex. The 238 ft high monument is the tallest monument in Delhi. The monument underwent several renovations by subsequent rulers, and several parts of the Minar contain Arabic and Persian engravings and Kufic calligraphy tells the story of its construction and repair works. Delhi is also home to two other world heritage sites- Humayun’s Tomb & Red Fort Complex.
9. Group of Monuments at Hampi, Karnataka:
Hampi town located on the banks of the river Tungabhadra in Karnataka was considered by the UNESCO in 1986. On the banks of the river, Tungabhadra sits the ruins of the former capital of the powerful Vijayanagara Empire, Vijayanagara. Dravidian temples and palaces here including the Virupaksha Temple represent a glorious chapter of India’s history. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal is another world heritage site also located in Karnataka.
10. The Western Ghats:
The mountains ranging along the western side of India are together called the Western Ghats or Sahyadri Mountains. The total of thirty-nine properties together forms one of the world’s ten “Hottest biodiversity hotspots”. These areas include national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests.