It’s no surprise that India has a great heritage and culture; and the grandeur, royalty and opulence of the many kingdoms reflect in the architecture that have survived the sands of time. These structures and monuments are in every nook and cranny of the country, yet only a handful leave an impact on you. These are the most important UNESCO World Heritage Sites one must visit:
Group of monuments at Hampi, Karnataka
If there’s one place in India no traveller should miss, it is Hampi. Dotted with innumerable temple complexes of the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi is recognised as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of the immense historic and archaeological value of its architectural wonders. As of today, all these 14th-century monuments are in ruins and yet retain the charm of the erstwhile kingdom. Among the many attractions, the most important ones are: Vitthala Temple, Narasimha Temple, Pattabhirama Temple, Hazara Rama Temple, Hampi’s Golden Chariot, Krishna Temple Complex and Achyutaraya Temple Complex.
Konark Sun Temple, Odisha
Konark Sun Temple, dedicated to the Hindu God Surya, was built in the 13th-century by Narasimha Deva I. Inarguably, the most popular sight in Odisha, the temple was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its stunning architectural brilliance and beautiful stone carvings depicting ancient tales. While this temple was built in the shape of a huge chariot with twelve pairs of wheels and seven horses drawing it; it today stands almost in ruins with some parts such as the Audience Hall and Dancing Hall still intact. It is about 35km away from the town of Puri.
Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
Khajuraho is a group of Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh, famous for their nagara-style of architecture and erotic sculptures. These group of temples date back to the 11th-century and are recognised by the UNESCO World Heritage Site. While there was a time when there were 85 of these temples, only 25 of them have survived. These temples stand for kinship, meditation, spirituality and acceptance and respect for diverse religions. The most famous temples of Khajuraho include: Chitragupta Temple, Vishwanath Temple, Lakshmana Temple, Jagdamba Temple, Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, and Chaunsat Yogini Temple.
Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
Tucked away in Maharashtra, the Ajanta and Ellora Caves are one of the richest heritage places of India. From sculptures, paintings, to frescos, murals and precious arts, these caves preserve the lifestyle and culture of 2nd-century BC till 6th-century AD. Recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, while Ajanta is a group of 30 caves, dedicated to Buddhism, Ellora is a group of 34 caves, dedicated to Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism.
The Hill Forts of Rajasthan
If you’re forever enamoured by the grandeur and opulence of the erstwhile Rajput kingdom of Rajasthan, visiting the royal forts here built between the 18th and 19th centuries are a must. There are a six in total built across the Aravali Range: Amber Fort, Chittorgarh, Jaisalmer, Gangron, Kumbhalgarh, and Ranthambore forts. And they’re all recognized by UNESCO World Heritage Site. These forts are perfect examples of great architectural skills and cultural traditions, that instantly transport you into the royal past.