World Heritage Sites are important places of cultural historical, scientific or other form of designated by Tte United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
There are 38 World Heritage Sites in India. These include 30 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
UNESCO World Heritage List (India) Agra Fort 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.———————— Ajanta Caves depict the stories of Buddhism from circa 200 B.C. and 650 A.D. 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.———————— Archaeological Site Nalanda Mahavihara was a Buddhist university begun in circa 450CE. 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.———————— The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier 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.———————— Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi: The Great Stupa at Sanchi 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.———————— Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park Most of monuments are situated at the base and surrounding area of the Pavagadh hill.———————— Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus - built by Frederick William Stevens) in Mumbai reflects the architectural influence of Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and traditional Mughal buildings design/style.———————— Churches and Convents in Old Goa: 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.———————— The Elephanta Caves (Gharapurichi Leni) at Elephanta Island 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.———————— Ellora Caves 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.———————— Fatehpur Sikri (City of Victory) is a virtual ghost city located 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.———————— Great Living Chola Temples (1):
- Bridadisvara Temple in Thanjavur 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.
Great Living Chola Temples (2):
- Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram 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 colors restored by bathing in the temple's sacred waters.
Great Living Chola Temples (3):
- The Brihadisvara Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram dedicated to the Lord Shive is located in the Chola capital Gangaikonda Cholapuram. This multi-storied temple was once surrounded by a huge fort wall.
The Great Himalayan National Park in the Himalayas, this park 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.———————— Group of Monuments at Hampi This site 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.———————— Group of monuments at Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) is a monument complex located 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.———————— Pattadakal is an historic center of Chalukya art and architecture. This has major temples and numerous shrines (many of which are inscribed in Kannada).———————— Hill Forts of Rajasthan (1):
- Chittorgarh Fort in Chittorgarh 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).
Hill Forts of Rajasthan (2):
- Kumbhalgarh Fort (fortress) in Kumbhalgarh is protected by seven towering gates and within is the Badal Mahal palace. It also had long meandering walls for defense. There are many tales and interesting stories affiliated with this site.
Hill Forts of Rajasthan (3):
- Ranthambore Fort 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.
Hill Forts of Rajasthan (4):
- Gagron Fort located in Jhalawar 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).
Hill Forts of Rajasthan (5):
- Amber fort is located in Amber near Jaipur. 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).
Hill Forts of Rajasthan (6):
- Jaisalmer Fort ( known as the “Sonar Quila” or "Sonal Kella" or "Sonar Kila") in Jaisalmer 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.
Humayun's Tomb in Delhi 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.———————— Jantar Mantar located in Jaipur 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.———————— Khangchendzonga National Park (named after the Khangchendzonga mountain), is known for its numerous glaciers (Zemu glacier for example). Snow leopards, musk deer and Himalayan taar have been spotted here.———————— Kaziranga National Park (one of the oldest in India) is home to the Indian single horned rhinos (rhinoceros unicornis). Kaziranga also hosts a variety of other mammal species.———————— Keoladeo National Park (formerly Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary) is located in Bharatpur. 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.———————— Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a group of Hindu and Jain temples in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh. The temples are noted for their architectural/artistic style and erotic sculptures.———————— Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Bodh Gaya. 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.———————— Manas National Park (Manas Wildlife Sanctuary) is 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.———————— Mountain Railways of India are "chhotey" (Hindi for small) lines, among these narrow gauge railways still in operation are:
- Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (Toy Train) - West Bengal
- Nilgiri Mountain Railway - Tamil Nadu
- Kalka–Shimla Railway - Kalka, Himachal Pradesh - Shimla, Haryana
- Matheran Hill Railway - Maharashtra
- Kangra Valley Railway - Punjab - Himachal Pradesh
- Lumding–Halflong–Badarpur hill section located in Assam
Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks
* Nanda Devi National Park is in Garhwal, Himalayan North. 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.————————
Qutb Minar and its Monuments : 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.———————— Rani ki vav is located in Patan, Gujarat. This step well 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.———————— The Red Fort in Delhi is a red sandstone fort (and ruling palace) built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan of Taj Mahal fame. Unfortunately; 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.———————— Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka: 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.———————— Sundarbans National Park is central area of the Sundarban tiger reserve in the Sundarban Reserve Forest. Sundarbans Reserve Forest is located in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, India. Sundarban is translated as "beautiful forest" in Bengali. Note: In Bangladesh the Sundarbans South Wildlife Sanctuary, East Wildlife Sanctuary and West Wildlife Sanctuary are also thought of as part of the Sundarbans.———————— The Sun Temple (Konark Temple) in Konark 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,———————— The Taj Mahal in Agra 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.———————— Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks
* The Valley of Flowers National Park located in Uttarakhand 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————————
A recent addition to the UNESCO World Heritage List are various buildings in Mumbai (cinemas, residential buildings and balconies) that represent an urban project in 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).———————— The Western Ghats (or Sahyadri) is located 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.————————