World Heritage Sites are important places of cultural historical, scientific or other form of designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
There are 40 World Heritage Sites in India. These include 32 cultural sites, 7 natural sites and 1 mixed-criteria site. India has the sixth largest number of sites in the world.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- 1 Agra Fort (cultural) is an architectural structure similar to the Red Fort in Delhi. Agra Fort is a well preserved palace and defensive complex constructed mostly in red sandstone. Emperor Akbar built this fort(same time as Humayun's Tomb in Delhi). Emperor Shah Jahan made later additions to it. The Taj Mahal can be seen from this location.
- 2 Ajanta Caves at Aurangabad (cultural) depict the stories of Buddhism from circa 200 BC and 650 AD. These caves were discovered by some British Officers during a tiger hunt. These caves were built by Buddhist monks using simple tools. Buddhist monks often taught and performed rituals in the Chaityas and Viharas (ancient seats of learning). There are detailed/beautiful sculptures and paintings depict stories from Jataka tales. The treasures these caves contain are benchmarks in the overall growth of [[Buddhism]
- 3 Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (University of Nalanda, Nalanda in Bihar) (cultural) was a Buddhist university begun in circa 450 CE. It was the longest operating university in Indian history. Buddha and Mahavira visited here. It had thousands of students and faculty. It was destroyed by Turkish Muslim invaders. Students and teachers were massacred and its large library was destroyed. All that remains are extensive ruins of this important site.
- 4 The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier in Chandigarh (cultural) is a definitive contribution to the Modern Movement in architecture. This UNESCO entry in India (namely Chandigarh) is but one of many such designated cultural sites. Other examples are to be found in Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, Japan and Switzerland.
- 5 Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (cultural) is believed to be the oldest stone structure in India. Vidisha (city in Madhya Pradesh) was the ancient capital city of the Malwa. Many Buddhist monuments were later built around this ancient city. The historical Sanchi stupas are very well preserved.
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- 6 Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (cultural) Most of monuments are at the base and surrounding area of the Pavagadh hill.
- 7 Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai (formerly Victoria Terminus - built by Frederick William Stevens) (cultural) in Mumbai reflects the architectural influence of Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and traditional Mughal buildings design/style.
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- 8 Churches and Convents in Old Goa (cultural). Old Goa (formally capital of colonial Goa) is full of history and the location of numerous well maintained scenic churches and convents. These are preserved/maintained by the Archaeologocal Survey of India.
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- 9 Dholavira: a Harappan City (cultural) is an archaeological site at Khadirbet in Bhachau Taluka of Kutch District. This site contains ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilization/Harappan city. It is one of the five largest Harappan sites and most prominent archaeological sites in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. The site was initially discovered by a resident of Dholavira village, Shambhudan Gadhvi, in early 1960s who made efforts to bring government attention to the location.
- 10 Elephanta Caves at Elephanta Island (cultural) are two groups of sculpted caves (Hindu and Buddhist). Within the caves there are numerous carved panels and shrines. The original stone-cut elephant statue; for which Elephanta Island was named, resides in the Jijamata Udyaan (zoo and garden) in Mumbai.
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- 11 Ellora Caves (cultural) are an impressive complex of rock shrines that represent the three faiths of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism and were created during the 5th-13th centuries CE. The caves are northwest of central Aurangabad, a few km from Khuldabad, and northeast of Mumbai in Maharashtra state.
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- 12 Fatehpur Sikri (City of Victory) (cultural) is a virtual ghost city near Agra. Built by the Emperor Akbar, it was the capital of the Mughal Empire and later abandoned because local water supplies were lacking and near the tumultuous Rajputana areas in the North-West. It includes one of the largest mosques (Jama Masjid) in India. There are well preserved palaces and courtyards.
- 13 Bridadisvara Temple at Thanjavur; Great Living Chola Temples (1) (cultural): It is an important site in Thanjavur for its architecture as well as a small garden. The temple is dedicated to Shiva. Its pillared cloister contains many lignams and the sanctum sanctorum has a large Shiva lingam and stone Nandi. It is a highly decorated and contains elements of Hindu and Chola influence.
- 14 Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram Great Living Chola Temples (2) (cultural): It has some excellent stone carvings (as well as inscriptions). The Airavatesvara temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva (known as Airavateshvara). Lord Shiva was worshipped here by Airavata (Indra's white elephant). Legend has it that Airavata (suffering a curse from Sage Durvasa) had its colours restored by bathing in the temple's sacred waters.
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- 15 Brihadisvara Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram Great Living Chola Temples (3) (cultural): It is dedicated to the Lord Shiva is in the Chola capital Gangaikonda Cholapuram. This multi-storied temple was once surrounded by a huge fort wall.
- 1 Great Himalayan National Park (natural) borders the Palearctic and the Indomalayan bioregions. The different altitudes provide for subtropical forests to alpine and glacial flora. Different species of goat, bear, leopard and pheasants can also be found here.
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- 16 Group of Monuments at Hampi (cultural) is of significant historic and architectural interest. The area abounds with large stones used to make statues of Jaina deities. Numerous temples and other sites can be found in and around Hampi. Further excavations are under way.
- 17 Group of Monuments at (Mamallapuram) (cultural) is a monument complex near Chennai. The area dates back to the Tamil Pallava dynasty. Mostly carved out of granite, they are among the oldest examples of Dravidian (South Indian) art/architecture.
- 18 Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (cultural) is an historic centre of Chalukya art and architecture. This has major temples and numerous shrines (many of which are inscribed in Kannada).
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- 19 Chittorgarh Fort, Chittorgarh; Hill Forts of Rajasthan (1) (cultural): It has massive stone gates with notched parapets and arched reinforced doors (to defend against elephants and cannon). Within the fort a circular road gives access to the gates and numerous monuments (ruined palaces and numerous temples).
- 20 Kumbhalgarh Fort, Kumbhalgarh; Hill Forts of Rajasthan (2) (cultural): It is protected by seven towering gates and within is the Badal Mahal palace. It also had long meandering walls for defence. There are many tales and interesting stories affiliated with this site.
- 21 Ranthambore Fort, Sawai Madhopur; Hill Forts of Rajasthan (3) (cultural): It lies within the Ranthambore National Park, near the town of Sawai Madhopur. Initially called "Ranath Bhawar Garh" (a place of Rajput warriors). The history of Sawai Madhopur centers around the famous Ranthambore Fort.
- 22 Gagron Fort, Jhalawar; Hill Forts of Rajasthan (4) (cultural): It is an example of a hill and water fort. Kali Sindh & Ahu Rivers border the fort on three sides. Gagron Fort (also known as Galkangiri) was built by King Bijaldev (Parmara Empire).
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- 23 Amber Fort near Jaipur; Hill Forts of Rajasthan (5) (cultural): It is a massive fort-palace complex built in a Hindu-Muslim style dating back to Raja Man Singh and once the royal palace of the Kachwahas. Within the fort is the Sheesh Mahal (with thousands of mirror tiles on the walls and ceilings).
- 24 Jaisalmer Fort in Jaisalmer; Hill Forts of Rajasthan (6) (cultural): It also known as the “Sonar Quila” or "Sonal Kella" or "Sonar Kila". It displays the subtle hues of the setting sun and desert. It is a 'working fort' as its citizens reside and work within its walls. There are numerous advantage points within the fort that enable great views across the city and desert.
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- 25 Historic city of Ahmedabad (cultural) The modern Ahnedabad was a walled city in the past along the banks of the Sabarmati River. The city presents a rich and diverse cultural and architectural style. It also houses the former home of Mahatma Gandhi, the Sabarmati Ashram.
- 26 Humayun's Tomb in Delhi (cultural) It has beautiful gardens in the Persian Char Bagh style. The site was constructed in the Indo-Islamic style known as Mughal. Within the site complex is the tomb of Iza Khan though the main attraction is the Tomb of Humayun. The South Gate and the Barber's Tomb are also of interest and located here.
- 27 Jaipur City (cultural) It is a magnificent city filled with historical wonders and beauty in the North-western part of India. During the rule of Sawai Ram Singh I, the city was painted pink to welcome HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward VII, Emperor of India), in 1876. Many of the avenues still remain painted in pink, giving Jaipur a distinctive appearance and the epithet Pink city.
- 28 The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur (cultural) It is but one of five astronomical observatories build by Maharaja Jai Singh in northern India. This historical observatory has geometric devices (or yantras in Hindi) for measuring time, eclipse prediction, tracking the orbits of stars eyc.. Explanations are posted for these devices and hired guides may provide further explanations.
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- 1 Khangchendzonga National Park (mixed) It is named after the Khangchendzonga mountain. It is known for its numerous glaciers (Zemu glacier for example). Snow leopards, musk deer and Himalayan taar have been spotted here.
- 29 Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple (cultural) It is an ancient Hindu temple built during the 1200s Kakatiya dynasty & featuring ornate carvings & shrines. The main structure is in a reddish sandstone, but the columns round the outside have large brackets of black basalt which is rich in iron, magnesium and silica. These are carved as mythical animals or female dancers or musicians, and are "the masterpieces of Kakatiya art, notable for their delicate carving, sensuous postures and elongated bodies and heads".
- 2 Kaziranga National Park (natural) It is home to the Indian single-horned rhinos (rhinoceros unicornis). Kaziranga also hosts a variety of other mammal species.
- 3 Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary (natural) It provides habitat for thousands of birds during the winter season. The sanctuary hosts rare Siberian Cranes, ruddy shelducks, northern shovelers, northern pintails, tufted ducks, shovelers and other indigionous and migratory waterfowl.
- 30 Khajuraho Group of Monuments (cultural) It is a group of Hindu and Jain temples in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh. The temples are noted for their architectural/artistic style and erotic sculptures.
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- 31 Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (cultural) It is believed that Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment in this large complex. A path to see the statue of Buddha is to "walk (follow) in the steps" of the Buddha. Buhhda after attaining enlightenment, spent weeks in the Mahabodhi temple (several traditional places) contemplating the nature of his discoveries.
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- 4 Manas National Park (natural) It is a habitat for many unique and endangered wildlife species such as the golden langur, pygmy hog and hispid hare. The Asian elephant, water buffalo, black panther, sloth bear and sambar deer can also be found here as well as endangered residential and migratory birds.
- Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Mountain Railways of India (cultural) are "chhotey" (Hindi for small) lines, among these narrow gauge railways still in operation are:
- 5 Nanda Devi National Park (natural) It is named after one of the highest mountains in India; it contains wildlife such as snow leopards, bears, tahrs, deer and monkeys in addition to splendid flowers. See also: Valley of Flowers
- 32 Qutb Minar and its Monuments in Delhi (cultural) These structures in Delhi date from the Slave Dynasty. The Qutb Minar is one of the tallest minars in India. It has been well-preserved with its intricate carvings. It was constructed of red sandstone and marble. Earthquake damage to the top of the Qutb Manar has been renovated and its base reinforced.
- 33 Rani-ki-Vav (Queen’s Stepwell) in Patan (cultural) It is a step well in Patan, Gujarat. It is famous for its ornate carvings and many sculptures in its galleries. Built as an inverted temple and representing a religious regard for water. Stepwells were built basically for the storage of water in India.
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- 34 Red Fort in Delhi (cultural) It is a red sandstone fort (and ruling palace) built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan of Taj Mahal fame. Many historical objects and marble inlays have disappeared and quite a few buildings can not be visited due to disrepair. However, the site is impressive with lush green gardens that are well kept year round.
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- 35 Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (cultural) Early traces of human life on the Indian subcontinent have been discovered here. Rock paintings can be seen that are similar to those that have been found in Australia and France.
- 6 Sundarbans National Park (natural) It is central area of the Sundarban tiger reserve in the Sundarban Reserve Forest. Sundarbans Reserve Forest is in the southeast region of West Bengal.
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- 36 Sun Temple at Konark (cultural) It was built to honor the sun-god Surya. The entire temple is shaped in the form of a chariot pulled by seven horses in order to carry the sun god Surya (a popular deity) across the heavens. Though partially in ruins, it has extensive stone carvings (many erotic in nature) on the walls.
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- 37 Taj Mahal at Agra (cultural) It is a white marble mausoleum ordered by emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife (Mumtaz Mahal). Taj Mahal means Crown Palace. It is a fairly well kept tomb and an outstanding example of Indian Muslim architecture. Current work is being considered to combat damage caused by pollution.
- 7 Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park (natural) It is famous for its beautiful alpine flowers. This valley is an Indian national park with beautiful waterfalls, landscapes, meadows of flowers and surrounding forests. See also: Nanda Devi National Park
- 38 Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai (cultural) It represent an urban project though various buildings (cinemas, residential buildings and balconies) of the late 19th century. Mainly these are found near the Oval Maidan area of Mumbai, they represent Victorian Neo-Gothic style of architecture and Art Deco (sometimes known as Indo-Deco).
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- 8 Western Ghats (also known as Sahyadri) (natural) It is in Western and Southern India following the west coast of the Indian peninsula. UNESCO considers this mountain range as a major area of world biological diversity.