April 18 is World Heritage Day. India is full of monuments and sites that display our rich culture and heritage. While some of these are hugely popular such as the world-famous Taj Mahal in Agra or the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, there are several other structures that give us a peek into the bygone era. UNESCO has listed 32 sites in India as part of its World Heritage Sites in the world. However, many of us aren’t too familiar with all on the list. We pick five such lesser-known sites on World Heritage Day, that you should visit this summer. Also Read - Staffer at Rail Bhawan Tests Positive For Coronavirus; Fifth Case in 2 Weeks in Same Building
1. Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya, Bihar
Built by Emperor Ashoka in the third century BC, this temple complex is one of the holy sites that is related to Buddha’s life and his journey to the attainment of enlightenment. The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is one of the first Buddhist temples built entirely in brick. At the temple complex you will find a 50m high grand temple, the sacred Bodhi tree, numerous ancient stupas, and a lotus pond among other things. Also Read - Dean Elgar Willing To Succeed Faf Du Plessis As South Africa’s Test Captain, Says Leadership Comes Naturally to Me
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2. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh
Exhibiting the earliest traces of human life in India, these rock shelters signify the beginning of the south Asian Stone Age. Situated at the foothills of Vindhyan hills, these rock shelters display paintings dating back to the Mesolithic period. Some of these shelters are believed to be inhabited more than 100,000 years ago and some of the paintings are more than 30,000 years old.
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3. Rani ki Vav, Gujarat
The latest entrant to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, Rani ki Vav is a stepwell on the banks of Saraswati River. Built in the Maru-Gurjara architectural style, this stepwell looks like an inverted temple and has seven levels of stairs. You will find several sculptures of religious and mythological importance. Do go the fourth level which is the deepest and leads to a rectangular tank.
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4. Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area, Himachal Pradesh
Added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, GHNPCA is known for its diverse species of flora and fauna including 31 mammals, 181 birds, 127 insects and more. Consisting of forests, meadows and alpine peaks, this national park in Kullu region of Himachal houses several threatened species also and was included in the list for its outstanding significance of biodiversity conservation.
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5. Mountain Railways of India
An outstanding example of hill railways, the Mountain Railways of India includes three railways – the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways in West Bengal, the Nilgiri Mountain Railways in Tamil Nadu and the Kalka Shimla Railways in Himachal Pradesh. These railways that were built during the British Raj are fully functional even today and are proof of the engineering expertise during the 20th century.
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