If you’re on a heritage trail through India, and have only a limited time to explore its cultural and architectural diversity, here are the top monuments that are both historic and iconic, commanding a visit. From the world famous Taj Mahal, to the lesser known Bibi ka Maqbara, these monuments instantly transport you back in time.

Bibi ka Maqbara, Aurangabad

Bibi ka Maqbara located on banks of Kham river is a beautiful mausoleum that was built by the Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb in memory of his first wife Dilras Banu Begum. The architect of the structure – Attaullah – had intended to replicate the famous Taj Mahal. However, despite the similar layout, it didn’t quite turn out to be as grand as the Taj. Interestingly, the structure is considered as a symbol of Aurangzeb’s conjugal fidelity.

Charminar, Hyderabad

Arguably the most charming historic structure in Telangana, Charminar put Hyderabad on the global map. It gets its name from the Urdu words ‘char’ and ‘minar’ which literally means ‘four towers.’ The structure spells magnificence and radiates the grandeur of 16th-century Qutub Shahi architecture. The vibrant, buzzing area around Charminar is great for sampling some Hyderabadi delicacies as well as shopping.

 
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Shaniwarwada, Pune

A proud specimen of the peshwas of the Maratha Dynasty, Shaniwarwada is a big fort right in the middle of the busy city. It is reminiscent of a glorious past; the highlight being its gorgeous doors, fountains and the magnificent statue of Baji Rao I, right at the entrance of the fort.

Taj Mahal, Agra

As one of the seven wonders of the world, a visit to the Taj Mahal is a must, as clichéd as it sounds. A symbol of love, it was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his queen Mumtaz. A grand representation of the fusion of Indian, Persian and Islamic architectural styles, the construction of Taj Mahal had taken about 21 years by thousands of craftsmen, artisans and masons.

Sun Temple, Konark

Built in the 13th century, the Konark Sun Temple is in ruins today owing to the innumerable attacks on the temple through the centuries. However, dedicated to the Sun God, the interesting shape of the temple as a massive chariot with intricate carvings on the stone wheels, pillars and walls is worth seeing.

Red Fort, Delhi

One of the most stunning architectural marvels of the Mughal era, the Red Fort today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Boasting of simple yet elegant Indo-Islamic architecture, the structure is an emblem of national pride.