‘UNESCO World Heritage’ sites in India
The world is huge. And there are so many destinations to explore; the fact might bother a passionate explorer for not having an infinite life. So hey! Why not start from the best ones? Why not start from the ‘World Heritage sites’? A ‘World Heritage Site’ is a landmark which has been recognized by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for holding a unique cultural, social, scientific or any other form of significance. These are considered the most important landmarks and are conserved by the UNESCO. India has, in total, 35 World Heritage Sites and exploring them all in one go would require you to quit your job. And we don’t want you to do that. Hence, this list of Top UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India, cherry-picked for you:
When it comes to ways of telling your soul-mate that you love them, ‘Taj Mahal’ is second to none. It is among the ‘7 Wonders of the World’. This 368 years old mausoleum in Agra, India was built by Mughal Emperor, ‘Shah Jahan’ in the memory of his beloved wife ‘Mumtaz Mahal’. It is basically a 73 meters high tomb in the center of a square plinth and there are four Minarets (Islamic word for Tower), one at each corner of the plinth. It is completely made out of ivory-white marble stone. The graves of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan lie adjacent in the lower floor. It is believed that Shah Jahan ordered to cut the hands of the men who were involved in its construction so that the history could never witness another Taj Mahal.
You can visit Taj Mahal anytime from Sunrise to Sunset. The entry fee for Foreigners is Rs. 1000 per head and Rs. 530 for people from SAARC & BIMSTEC countries. It is best advised to visit Taj Mahal in summer because there is no fog to conceal its majestic beauty. Nearby attractions: Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort, Akbar’s Tomb
Sundarbans National Park
A true adventurer seeks least man-made interferences whilst on a wild voyage. If ‘finding your own pathways, cutting through the grasses, enduring the most turbulent of challenges’ is your cup of tea, Welcome to Sundarbans National Park. Sundarbans is the largest mangrove forest in the world, with an area of 1390 km sq. The park is based on Ganga-Brahmaputra river delta which is made up of a total 54 islands. This adventurer’s paradise contains a huge fauna percentage and honestly, one should be careful about the instructions before entering this place. Sundarbans is a Bengali word which translates to Sundar (beautiful) + Bans (forest) = a beautiful forest (Wow, looks like we don’t need to sell this anymore). The most optimum time to visit Sundarbans is between September and March.
When someone came up with the phrase ‘On top of the world’, they must’ve been standing on top of Qutb Minar. It was built in 1200 AD by the first Islamic ruler of Delhi, Qutub-ud-din Aibak. It is in Mehrauli part of New Delhi and can be easily reached by Metro (local train). It is World’s tallest ‘Brick minaret’ with a height of 73 meters. Most amazingly, the iron pillar inside the monument has not rusted in almost 2000 years. It’s a dream for everyone to launch a paper plane from the top of it to see how far it goes. Hard luck lads! The government has banned the tourists from entering the monument since 1981, but one can enter it by taking special permissions for important purpose like educational, scientific and similar. But a ‘Light Show’ is carried out every day from 6:30PM to 8:00PM to flaunt its glory. You can visit Qutb Minar any day from 7:00AM to 5PM. Nearby attractions: Tomb of Imam Zamim, Delhi Day Tour, Jahaz Mahal, Archaeological park
In India, sex has always been a difficult thing to talk about. In fact in most parts of Asia, sex is substituted by euphemisms; but not at Khajuraho temples of Khajuraho city in Madhya Pradesh. Built between 950 to 1050 AD by the Chandela dynasty, Khajuraho temples are popular for their tasteful architecture and erotic carvings across the walls. This World Heritage Site has 20 temples, the walls of which, display various aspects of life and sculptures from Kamasutra (the book of love). The temple architecture is dedicated to Jainism and Hinduism. The construction of the temples followed typical principles of Hindu architecture like being located near water bodies, sun facing etc. The timings for visiting are 8AM to 2PM and the entry fee is Rs. 250
Ajanta & Ellora Caves
It’s an impossibility that you ask an artist about the finest examples of Indian art and they wouldn’t mention Ajanta & Ellora caves. Located in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, both the caves are known for their moving, inspirational ancient art.
Over the time, the caves were constructed and modified by different dynasties of India. While Ajanta caves are 30 finest rock-cut, religious Buddhist monument caves that shaped the Indian art we know today, the Ellora caves is the one of the largest rock-cut temple caves in the world that showcase the monumental artwork of Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism from 600-1000 CE period. The caves have been major inspiration for artist all over the world. Timings for Ajanta Caves- 8AM to 5PM. Timings for Ellora Caves- 6AM to 6PM. Nearby attractions: Bibi ka Maqbara, Panchakki
Group of Monuments at Hampi
The ‘Group of monuments at Hampi’ at Karnataka is constellation of a number of architectural wonders, most notable ones being: Vitthala Temple, Krishna Temple, Jain Temple, Chandramauleshwara Temple, Badavi Linga and Achyutaraya Temple. Hampi monuments exhibit the most diverse forms of Indian architecture. They are actually the ruins of the Vijaynagara kingdom; one of the richest and largest cities in world. The most interesting feature of Hampi is the gravity defying rocks of hampi puzzle tourists from all over the world. The rocks look like they might fall with the slightest of touch but are actually immovable when people try to even wrestle with them. Another interesting feature of the Vitthala Temple is a group of 56 musical pillars. When the first pillar is struck, all the pillars emit musical sounds. A mythological belief associated with Hampi is that it is the same city where Lord Ram rested before heading to Lanka, to find his wife, Sita. Visiting hours: 10AM to 5PM (except on Fridays)
Jantar Mantar of Jaipur is the largest one of the five sundial monuments in New Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, Varanasi and Mathura. It was built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 18th century. Sundial is an instrument that is used to measure time of the day with the help of sun’s shadow formed by the gnomon (the triangle which is used to cast the shadow of sun). The main part of the monument, ‘Vrihat Samrat Yantra’, which is accurate up to 2 seconds, is a specimen of the incredible intelligentsia that once existed. You can visit Jantar Mantar between 6AM to 6PM. Nearby attractions: Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Albert Hall Museum, Birla Temple
Khangchendzonga National Park
Khangchendzonga National Park is a biosphere reserve of Sikkim state, is India’s first ‘Mixed heritage’ site (the one that satisfies both Natural and Cultural criteria). It is located in the Great Himalayan range and its name comes from Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. It is thus, one of the few high altitude national parks in the world. There are also good accommodation options here. It is a pretty good destination for mountain climbing, camping and enjoying the adventures of a national park at the same time. This park is considered a mixed heritage as it has an abundance of flora & fauna and also the people of Sikkim worship the natural elements (rivers, caves, hills etc.) like Gods. For those who adore wildlife and adventure, this natural reserve has enormous number of rare animals like Musk deer, Snow leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Himalayan tahr, Himalayan Blue Sheep, Russell viper snake and many more.
If you think Buddhist people are of the quietest kind, you may be right but if you think they are the inert kind too, you’re definitely mistaken. Built the one of the greatest emperors that ever lived, Ashoka the Great of Mauryan dynasty in 3rd century BCE, Sanchi Stupa is the oldest stone structure of India in Sanchi city of Madhya Pardesh that still beats modern art, any day. It is a dome like stone structure that is built over the relics of Lord Buddha, acting like an umbrella and protecting the relics. The structure is considered Holy by the Buddhist people. The Buddhist practitioners circumambulate around the Stupa, as it is considered a source of enlightenment. Timings for Sanchi Stupa are from 7:00AM to 5:00PM. Nearby attractions: Udaygiri caves, Ashoka pillar, Buddhist Vihara
Mountain Railways of India
SONY DSC At first, the Toy trains of Mountain Railways of India might seem like a joke, but we assure you: One ride and it would probably become one of your favorite moments ever. Besides, wouldn’t a joke with a network as huge as 414 Kilometers be too far-fetched? Yes, India has the longest mountain railway network in the world. There are 4 toy trains in India namely: Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Kalka Shimla Railway and Matheran Railway. There are small railway platforms where you can get tickets for these train at really cheap prices. A ride in toy train isn’t just your regular train travel. It takes you through the most exhilarating landscapes and long dark tunnels. You might regret not carrying a camera. Best time to visit: Whenever you can catch the train!
The capital of Mughal Empire had to have a magnificent masterpiece that could be remembered for ages. The fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, too, probably realized this and consequently in 1648, completed the construction of Red Fort in the center of Delhi. The magnificence of Red Fort is illustriously known for its Classic Red Sandstone walls and its ingenious style of architecture went on to influence many structures build later that point. The adjacent Salimgarh Fort (built by Islam Shah Suri), along with the Red Fort, was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2007. The famous ‘Red Fort Market’ is another attraction that is attributed to this monument and is famous for selling almost anything you need. The fort is open from 9:30AM to 4:30PM (except on Monday). Nearby attractions: India Gate, Humayun’s Tomb, Lotus Temple, Lodi Gardens, Chandni Chowk Market
If you don’t believe in magic, it’s high time you changed your belief. The Shore temple at Mahabalipuram,Tamil Nadu is built on a high land on the shores of Bay of Bengal; hence the name ‘Shore temple’. The temples are one of the oldest rock-cut temples of South India. The temple is famous for its gravity defying stones that are placed in weird positions and have no reason to not roll down. But there they are! Staring into the eyes of Newton and teasing.
The temple is beautifully built with large blocks of granite and the temples have been there since 8th century. It is evidently dedicated to Lord Shiva with its main shrine bearing a big ‘Shiva Linga’ (Lord Shiva’s symbol) in the center of the temple. A second shrine is seemingly dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple is also an evidence of the fact how the ancient people used in real-time, the most complicated concepts of science. Visiting Hours: 6AM to 6PM
The destinations in India, as we always say, are ‘Endless’. No matter what preferences people have, there’s one for everyone in India. From ruins to ramparts, kings to saints, spirituality of Varanasi to wildest nightlife of Goa, India has every aspect of tourism a travel adorer seeks. And just like you adore travelling, we adore travellers. And travelling too, of course. And that is why we make sure when you travel with us; you get nothing but the ‘Best Experience’.