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UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India



Following the newest entry of World Heritage Sites in India, There are 1073 UNESCO world heritage sites in the world as on January 2018. Out of these 37 UNESCO World Heritage Sites are in India. This shows the World Heritage Sites in India are known for its vast cultural and natural value in the world.

 

UNESCO recognizes World Heritage Sites as places that have outstanding universal value belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are sited. The criteria are regularly improved by the Committee of UNESCO to exhibit the progress of the World Heritage concept itself.

 

India is home to some breathtaking architecture and heritage. Country has majestic palaces, awesome hill stations, rich flora and fauna, serene beaches and more.

 

Here is a state-wise list of 37 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Maharashtra

Elephanta Caves (designated in 1987)

Elephanta is a cave temple shrine hewn out of solid rock in the eighth century. It is situated on an island, about an hour's motorboat ride away from Bombay. It was probably intended as a private place of worship for the Rashtrakuta kings. Its exact date of construction will remain unknown because the Portuguese destroyed the plaque that bore details of its history when they plundered the island in the sixteenth century. They named the island Elephanat after the large stone elephant that once guarded it. Elephanta is famous for its Siva temple, with images of unsurpassed beauty-Ravan shaking Mt. Kailash, the marriage of Shiva and Parvari and the Trimourti. n which Shiva embodies the roles of Creator, Preserver and Destroyer.

Ellora Caves (designated in 1983)

The finest examples of cave architecture are to be seen at Ellora, the ancient Elapur. There are over 100 caves, of which 34 are significant. The Buddhist caves date to between AD 600 and AD 800, the Hindu caves to between AD 600 and AD 900 and the jam caves to between AD 800 and AD 1100. The truly magnificent caves are the Vishwakarma, the Kailashnath and the Indrasabha. These temples were literally carved out of the solid rock face of a high cliff. Over 200,000 tons of stone were removed to create the Kailashnath, the supreme masterpiece, which took over a century to complete. Ellora was the capital of the Rashtrakuta kings and was probably a place of pilgrimage long before the temples were excavated. It lay at the juncture of two important trade routes.

Ajanta Caves (designated in 1983)

The well-preserved Ajanta murals and frescoes remain unmatched in the world of art. The 30 Buddhist caves, which contain these murals and frescoes, were excavated by Buddhist monks from the side of a horseshoe-shaped ravine between 200 BC and AD 650. The caves lay deserted and forgotten for centuries till they were rediscovered by British army officers in 1819. Of these caves, five were prayer halls and twenty-five were monasteries. The murals in Caves I and 2, created from mineral colours, belong to the Gupta period (AD 320 to AD 650), known as the golden age of Indian art. The murals depict episodes from the life of the Buddha and from the Jataka tales. It is believed that at its prime, some 200 Buddhist monks lived in Ajanta.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Station or Victoria Terminus (2004)

Modeled on the lines of the St. Pancras Station in London, Victoria Terminus is undoubtedly the Raj's piece deresistance, complete with carved stone friezes, stained glass windows and flying buttresses. It is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, blended with Indian traditional architecture. The building, designed by the British architect F.W Stevens, became the symbol of Bombay as the 'Gothic City' and the major international mercantile port of India. The station was christened to commemorate Victoria Jubilee Day in 1887 when India's first steam engine puffed out to neighboring Thane, about 45 km away. The terminal was built over ten years starting in 1878. Its remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches, and eccentric ground plan are close to traditional Indian palace architecture. It is Gothic architecture at its best, an awesome edifice that most citizens view with deep pride. At the top of the central dome stands the triumphant figure of Progress. Today it has been re-christened Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus after the Maratha warrior. The old steam engines have been replaced by electric ones. But to the 2.5 million commuters who push past its massive portals everyday, this is still VT, the pulse of a throbbing city.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Uttar Pradesh

Taj Mahal (designated in 1983)

Shah Jahan also built the Taj Mahal, a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Raised between 1631 and 1648, this chaste marble mausoleum has remained one of the most awe-inspiring architectural achievements of all time. It is grand and understated, opulent and elegant; its scale and proportions rest in perfect equipoise. Its architect changed the dynamics of the traditional Islamic garden tomb by setting this tomb at the far end, instead of the centre of the garden. An average of 10,000 people visit the Taj Mahal each day; during the peak season, the numbers rise fourfold. Those who return disappointed must be few and far between.

Agra Fort (designated in 1983)

The red sandstone fort in Agra was raised by the Mughal Emperor Akbar (r.1 556- 1605) on the banks of the River Jamuna. The well-preserved red sandstone walls of the fort, and the imposing gateways reflect the robust style of architecture that characterized the reign of Akbar. Within the fort, it is possible to trace the development and refinement of Mughal architecture over the course of a century. Akbar's son, Jehangir, incorporated the use of marble in his palace, the Jehangiri Mahal. Jehangir's son, Shah jahan was passionate about architecture. He created elegant marble structures, inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones. Some of these-the Diwan-i-Khas, the Chameli Burj, the Pearl Mosque and the Khas Mahal are within the Agra Fort.

Fatehpur Sikri (designated in 1986)

This City of Victory was Akbar's capital for approximately fifteen years. Here, he experimented with architectural forms and is known to have personally supervised the construction. The red sandstone palaces are extraordinarily well preserved after more than four centuries. The finest monuments are the Diwan-i-Khas and Diwan-i-Am, the Panch Mahal, the Treasury, the queens' palaces, and a short distance away, the Jama Masjid with its towering Buland Darwaza. The Sufi saint, Salim Chishti lies buried in the courtyard of the Jama Masjid and his wish-fulfilling shrine draws thousands of devotees throughout the year.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Madhya Pradesh

Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989)

The Buddhist Monuments located in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh are a World Heritage Site. In 1989, these monuments have been listed among UNESCO World heritage sites of India. The Great Stupa at Sanchi, is one of the oldest stone structures in India, which was originally commissioned by king Ashoka the great of the Maurya empire in the 3rd century BCE. It is located 46 km north-east of Bhopal. Sanchi is the center of a region with a number of stupas, all are situated within a few miles of Sanchi including Satdhara, Bhojpur, Andher, Sonari, Bharhut.

Khajuraho Group of Monuments (designated in 1986)

Legend has it that a thousand years ago, the lovely young daughter of a Brahmin priest was seduced by the Moon God, and of their union was born Chandravarman, the founder of the Chandela dynasty: The Chandelas built 85 temples at Khajuraho in the short span of a century, between AD 950 and 1050. Only 25 of these temples remain, but they are architectural masterpieces. While the temples have been much publicized for their erotic sculpture alone, the sculpted panels are in fact an exuberant celebration of life in all its moods and forms. The Kandariya Mahadev is the most renowned of all the temples.

Rock Shelters at Bhimbhetka (designated in 2003)

This City of Victory was Akbar's capital for approximately fifteen years. Here, he experimented with architectural forms and is known to have personally supervised the construction. The red sandstone palaces are extraordinarily well preserved after more than four centuries. The finest monuments are the Diwan-i-Khas and Diwan-i-Am, the Panch Mahal, the Treasury, the queens' palaces, and a short distance away, the Jama Masjid with its towering Buland Darwaza. The Sufi saint, Salim Chishti lies buried in the courtyard of the Jama Masjid and his wish-fulfilling shrine draws thousands of devotees throughout the year.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Gujarat

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004)

Champaner was the ancient capital of Gujarat. It lies about 50 km northeast of Vadodara, and has a concentration of largely excavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties cradled in an impressive landscape, which includes prehistoric (paleolithic) sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and remains of the 5 century capital of the state of Gujarat. The site also includes, among other vestiges, fortifications, palaces, religious buildings, residential areas, and water installations, dating from the 8th to the 14th centuries. The Kalikamata Temple on top of the Pavagadh Hill is considered to be an important shrine, attracting large numbers of pilgrims throughout the year. The site is the only complete and unchanged Islamic pre-Mughal city. The Champaner Pavagadh Archaeological Park with its ancient Hindu architecture, temples and special water retaining installations tog ether with its religious, military and agricultural structures, dating back to the regional capital city built by Mehmud Begda in the 16th century, represents cultures that have disappeared.

Rani-ki-Vav Patan, Gujarat (designated in 2014)

Rani-ki-vav is situated in the town of Patan in Gujarat. It was constructed in 3rd millennium BC located on the banks of Saraswati River. Rani ki vav was built as a memorial to an 11th-century king Bhima I.
It was added to the list of UNESCO'S World Heritage Sites on 22 June 2014. Rani-ki-vav is well known for its Sculptures, Stone Carvings and Stepped Corridors in the Well. Most of the sculptures are devoted to Lord Vishnu in the form of his 10 avatars (incarnation).

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Goa

Churches and Convents of Goa (designated in 1986)

Goa eluded British rule. The Portuguese were ensconced here 250 years before the British arrived, and they outstayed them by a decade. The Portuguese built numerous churches and convents in old Goa, which was known as Rome of the Orient. The Basilica of Bom Jesus, where the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier are enshrined is the best-preserved and most important place of pilgrimage.
Begun in 1562 and completed a century later, St. Cathedral is the most impressive building in Old Goa. Nearby is the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, which began as a mosque and later became a church. It has gravestones dating back to 1500. The College of St. Paul, the Church of St. Cajetan, a miniature replica of St Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Chapel of St. Catherine, St.Augustine's Church, the Convent of St. Monica and the Church of our Lady of the Rosary are the other important buildings.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tamil Nadu

Great Living Chola Temples (1987)

The Great Living Chola Temples is a group of Hindu temples of Chola dynasty built between early 11th and the 12th century CE in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The monuments include the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram, and the Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram. These temples are living temples and the rituals and festivities which were followed by people thousands of years ago, are still there even today. These three famous temples are mirror of the ancient culture and heritage of the Tamilians.

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (designated in 1984)

Mahabalipuram, 45 kilometres from Chennai, is renowned for its monolithic temples and structures excavated during the reign of the Pallava ruler Rajasimha (AD 700 -AD 730). At the center of this group of monuments is the magnificent Arjuna's Penance, which is believed to represent a story from the Mahabharata. This sculpture is also known as the Descent of the Ganga. A natural cleft in the centre of the immense rock face is conceived as the celestial river descending to earth. On the two wings of the rock are carved gods and saints and sages, men and women, birds and animals and a herd of elephants, led majestically by a Tusker. This stupendous sculpture pulsates with life and despite the sheer size of the monolith the effect of the whole is one of celestial lightness. There are numerous caves with exquisite sculptures, five monolithic temples and a group of three temples on the seashore collectively known as the Shore Temple. Mahabalipuram served as a port for the Pallavas.

The Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and the Iravati Eswara Swamy Temple of Darasuram have very recently been designated as extensions of Great Living Chola Temples under which the temple at Thanjavur was made a World Heritage site in 1987. According to the citation they represent the pure form of the Dravida type temples and the grandeur and excellence of Chola architecture and sculpture. The Gangaikondacholapuram temple was built by the Chola king, Rajendra Tin 1020 to mark his great conquest up to the Gangetic plain, the northernmost victory ever achieved by any south Indian king. The temple has outstanding sculptures and Chola bronzes. The twelfth-century Shiva temple at Darasuram, on the outskirts of Kumbakonam, is also remarkable.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Karnataka

Group of Monuments at Hampi (designated in 1986)

Hampi is one of the most magnificent ruined cities of the world. The impact of the wild and beautiful landscape through which the River Tungabhadra flows, is as powerful as the ruins. Hampi was the capital of the medieval Vijaynagara Kingdom, but the history of this site dates back to the time of the Ramayana. Krishnadevaraya was the greatest ruler of the Vijayanagara kingdom. Travelers from Russia, Persia and Portugal and Italy visited Hampi, and wrote of its unparalleled splendours. The city was destroyed in 1565 by the combined forces of the Deccani Sultans. The ruins are spread over 26 square kilometres, with the main ones situated on the right bank of the Tungabhadra. The important monuments include the Vitthala and Hazara Rama temples, Mahanavami Dibba, the Lotus Mahal and the Virupaksha Temple.

Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (designated in 1987)

Pattadakal, 30 kilometres from Badami, is situated on the banks of the Malaprabha River. The numbers of temples indicate that this was obviously a place of great importance. Experts say this is where the Chalukyan emperors were crowned. They were the patrons of these temples, some of which, like the Sangameshvar Temple(AD 750), can be dated. The Virupaksha Temple was built to commemorate the victorious exp edition to the Pallava capital of Kanchi. The temple has exceptionally beautiful sculptures, a Nandi Mandapa and an impressive courtyard. The Chalukyan sensitivity to space and form become apparent when the site is viewed from across the river.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Rajasthan

Keoladeo National Park (designated in 1985)

The Keoladeo National Park is located between Ranthambhore and Sariska Tiger Reserve, 176 kilometers from Delhi. It is probably the world's best-known bird sanctuary: Initially a man made swamp, the sanctuary is now a 29 square kilometer lake system, crisscrossed with cycle paths, dirt tracks and interspersed with patches of dry land which are host to sambar, nilgai, wild pig, chital, pythons and a variety of birds. However, it is water birds the sanctuary is famous for-painted storks, spoonbills, egrets, ibises and herons. Close on the heels of the nesting birds come the migratory birds from Russia, China, and India's extreme north-thousands of duck and geese are among these. The star attractions arrive in November- the Siberian Cranes, though their numbers are dwindling fearfully.

The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (designated in 2010)

The Jantar Mantar monument is situated in Jaipur, Rajasthan. It was built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh II in 1734. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments. It highlights the world's largest sundial made of stone. It is located near City Palace and Hawa Mahal. Visitors can experience the observation of astronomical positions with their naked eye. The observatory is an example of the Ptolemaic positional astronomy and was declared a national monument in 1948.

Hill Forts of Rajasthan (designated in 2013)

The most famous six Hill Forts of Rajasthan spread in northern India, grouped together as a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The forts are primarily based in the Aravalli Range and were built between the periods of 5th to 18th centuries CE by several Rajput kings of different empire. These six forts are:
1. Chittor Fort at Chittorgarh
2. Amer Fort at Jaipur
3. Kumbhalgarh Fort at Kumbhalgarh
4. Ranthambore Fort at Sawai Madhopur
5. Jaisalmer Fort at Jaisalmer
6. Gagron Fort at Jhalawar

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Delhi

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi (designated in 1993)

It is the tomb of Mughal emperor Humayun located in Nizamuddin East, Delhi. It is considered as first garden-tomb of the Indian subcontinent. The complex includes the main tomb of the Humayun, the graves of Bega Begum, Hamida Begum, and Dara Shikoh (great-great-grandson of Humayun). The tomb of Humayun was built by the orders of Humayun's first wife Bega Begum. the architect of the tomb was Mirak Mirza Ghiyas ( a Persian architect).

Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (designated in 1993)

The Qutub complex is a collection of monuments and buildings at Mehrauli in Delhi. This complex was built on the ruins of Lal Kot. It consists of 27 temples of Hindu and Jain religions. Apart from these temples it has Alai darwaza, Qutub Minar, Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, iron pillar, Tombs, Alai Minar of Khalji, and other monuments. It is also famous for its annual 'Qutub Festival', which held in November–December. One can enjoy the performances of various artists, musicians and dancers for three days..

Red Fort Complex (designated in 2007)

Red fort is a historic fort built by fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1639. It got is name from its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone. Major structures of this fort are Lahori gate, Delhi gate, Diwan-i-aam, Nahr-i-Bihisht (stream of paradise), Mumtaz Mahal, Diwan-i-khas, Hammam, Baoli, Moti Masjid, Hira Mahal, princes quarter, and Hayat Baksh Bagh. On the Independence day of India (15th August) the prime minister hoists the Indian flag at the main gate of the red fort and give his speech to the nation.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bihar

Mahabodhi Temple Complex, Bodh Gaya (designated in 2002)

For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most sacred of sacred sites, for it is here the Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. The present tree is a success or of the original tree. Beneath the tree is the Vajrasana, the Diamond Throne, which marks the place where the Buddha meditated. The Mahabodhi Temple, which is nearby, was originally built in the century and has since been damaged and restored several times. Huien Tsang, who visited Bodh Gaya in AD 635 writes that he saw 700 images of the Enlightened One. There is also a massive Dharma Chakra, the Animalesh Lochan Chaitya and the Lotus Tank in the midst of which is a statue of the Buddha protected by a cobra.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in West Bengal

Mountain Railways of India (designated in 1999)

The hill station of Darjeeling, famous for its teas, is also synonymous with the toy train. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is the first, and still the most outstanding, example of a hill passenger railway. Opened in 1881, it applied bold, ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. It is still fully operational and retains most of its original features. The 0.60-meter-gauge track winds from Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri all the way up to Darjeeling through tea plantations and misty mountains, using such intelligent devices as the Batasia Loop to gain height. Siiiguri is 80 kilometres from Darjeeling and the journey takes about seven hours. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is an outstanding example of the influence of an innovative transportation system on the social and economic development of a multi-cultural region, which was to serve as a model for similar developments in many parts of the world.

Sundarbans National Park (designated in 1987)

The delta of the River Ganga is the large st in the world, and the Sundarbans, the vast mangrove swamp situated in this delta, is now a national park and Project Tiger Reserve, with the largest single population of tigers in the country. It is also the closest to a major city-Kolkata is only 70 kilometers away. The area demonstrates the amazing adaptability of the tiger. Fascinating life forms-including salt-water crocodiles and turtles inhabit the swamp. Chital and wild pigs are easily sighted.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Odisha

Sun Temple, Konark (designated in 1984)

This temple, dedicated to the sun god Surya, was built in AD 1238 by King Narasimha Deva of the Ganga dynasty during the golden age of Orissan art and architecture. The profusely carved temple was conceived as a chariot. Twenty-four giant wheels symbolize the division of time; seven horses draw the chariot and the three images of Surya receive the rays of the sun at dawn, noon and sunset. Though the main temple tower has fallen, the audience hail stands proof of the magnificent scale on which the temple was originally executed. Every aspect of life has been carved on the temple and it has erotic images as exuberant as Khajuraho. The Konark temple, also known as the Black Pagoda, took twelve years to build, with 1200 masons and sculptors working on the site.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Himachal Pradesh

Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (designated in 2014)

The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP), is one of the national parks of north India. It is located in Kullu region of Himachal Pradesh. It is spread over an area of 1,171 km2. The park was established in 1984 and at an altitude of between 1500 and 6000 m.
The Great Himalayan National Park is a habitat of more than 375 fauna species which includes around 31 mammals, 182 birds, 3 reptiles, 10 amphibians, 11 annelids, 16 mollusks and 129 insects. Any sort of hunting is not permitted in this park.
The Great Himalayan National Park was added in June 2014 to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Assam

Kaziranga National Park, Assam (designated in 1985)

The wildlife of Kaziranga National Park (221 kilometers from Guwahati) is abundant and visible. The park is bordered on one side by the great Brahmaputra River and on the other by the Guwahati-Jorhat highway Kaziranga is the last stronghold of the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros. Water buffalo and small herds of swamp deer dot the grassy meadows and swamps, ospreys, fishing eagles and harriers course the skies, and red jungle fowl abound. Wild elephants are also seen often.

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (designated in 1985)

The Manas sanctuary is situated in a lush green tropical monsoon jungle, up against the Bhutan border, 176 kilometers from Guwahati. The reserve is named after the Manas River, which flows through it and is the only known habitat of the unique and beautiful golden langur (Presbytis geei). Manas has a large population of tigers, wild buffalo and elephants, and its colorful bird life ranges from the end angered great Indian horn bill to the tiny scarlet mini vet. Sloths, barking deer, wild pig and sambar are regularly sighted. Rhino and gaur (the world's largest wild ox) also inhabit the jungle, which harbours a spectacular insect life.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Uttrakhand

Nanda Devi National Park (designated in 1988)

Nanda Devi National Park lies in Chamoli District, within the Garhwal Himalaya. The main entry point to the park is via Lata Village, some 25 kilometers from Joshimath township. Nanda Devi, consort of Shiva, is a manifestation of Parvati and has been revered as a natural monument since ancient times. The area is reputedly one of the most spectacular wildernesses in the Himalaya. The basin is dominated by Nanda Devi, and drained by the Rishi Ganga, which has cut for itself one of the finest gorges in the world. Being an inner Himalayan valley, the Nanda Devi Basin enjoys a distinctive micro climate. It supports a diverse flora, largely on account of the wide attitudinal range, and an interesting variety of large mammals, including a number of rare or threatened species. The basin is renowned for the abundance of its ungulate populations, notably Bharat. Himalayan musk deer are also fairly common. The snow leopard is reported to have been extraordinarily common. Other large carnivores are the common leopard, Himalayan black bear and brown bear. There are 114 bird species belonging to 30 families The area was established as a game sanctuary in 1939 and a national park in November 1982.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kerala

Western Ghats (designated in 2012)

Western Ghats is a mountain range that runs parallel to the western coast of the Indian peninsula. It runs from north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau. It separates the Deccan Plateau from a narrow coastal plain, called Konkan, Overall 29 properties including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests were selected as world heritage sites. Out of these 29 sites – 20 in Kerala, 5 in Tamil Nadu, and four in Maharashtra.