The Heritage monuments and sites throughout India are the proofs of the greatness of the country accepting the best cultural form of all the invaders while inter-mingling the new culture with the existing one. Here are some of the examples of the finest heritage sites which bear great archaeological value and spots of attraction to people have wonder lust for heritage-site.
- Tajmahal – Fatehpur Sikri- Agra Fort
- Hill Forts of Rajasthan
Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a Hindu and Jain temples in Bundelkhand region, Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. Nagara style of architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures are the essence of the philosophy of Indian aesthetics. These sculptures representing the Indo-Aryan Architecture in stone reflects the Chandela dynasty’s passion and immense appreciation for the forbidden art. They are one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Khajuraho group of temples were built together but were dedicated to two religions, Hinduism and Jainism, suggesting a tradition of acceptance and respect for diverse religious views among Hindus and Jains in the region. The temples are grouped into three geographical divisions: western, eastern and southern. Various statues and panels have inscriptions. Many of the inscriptions on the temple walls are poems with double meanings, something that the complex structure of Sanskrit allows in creative compositions. The temples are believed to celebrate the marriage of Shiva and Parvathi.
Maha Shivaratri is celebrated in all the temples during which verses of Rudram are chanted, while the priests enact the divine marriage of Shiva and Parvathi.
The visiting hours for Khajuraho Temple are from 8 am to 6 pm.
Tajmahal – Fatehpur Sikri- Agra Fort
The jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage -The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. The Mughal emperor Shah-jahan commissioned it in the year 1632 to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. It also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan, the builder. The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian and earlier Mughal architecture. The tomb is the centerpiece of 42-acre complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall. The exterior decorations of the Taj Mahal are among the finest in Mughal architecture. As the surface area changes, the decorations are refined proportionally. The decorative elements were created by applying paint, stucco, stone inlays or carvings.
Tajmahal remains closed on Fridays.
Fatehpur Sikri is a town in the Agra District of Uttar Pradesh, India. The city itself was founded as the capital of Mughal Empire in 1571 by Emperor Akbar. The dynastic architecture of Fatehpur Sikri was modelled on Timurid forms and styles. The city was built massively and preferably with red sandstone. Gujarati influences are also seen in its architectural vocabulary and decor of the palaces of Fatehpur Sikri. The city’s architecture reflects both the Hindu and Muslim form of domestic architecture popular in India at the time.
Some of the important buildings in this city, both religious and secular are – Buland Darwaza, Jama Masjid, Tomb of Salim Chishti, Diwan-i-Aam , Diwan-i-Khas, Ibadat Khana, Anup Talao, Mariam-uz-Zamani’s Palace,Naubat Khana, Pachisi Court, Panch Mahal, Birbal’s House, Hiran Minar.
It opens daily from sunrise to sunset. The best time to experience and explore this historic extravaganza is from November to February.
Akbar built the Agra Fort to make it the main residence of the Mughals. The fort remained as the main residence of the emperors belonging to the Mughal dynasty until the year 1638. This powerful fortress of red sandstone encompasses, within its 2.5-km-long enclosure walls, the imperial city of the Mughal rulers. Agra Fort was built in the year 1573 under the reign of Akbar – one of the greatest Mughal Emperors. It took more than 4000 workers and eight years of hardship to complete the fort. Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well. The fort, when viewed from above, has a semicircular shape. The base of the fort faces the bank of the river Yamuna. The Agra Fort is enclosed by a double battlemented massive wall of red sandstone. It opens daily from sunrise to sunset.
The Ajanta Caves constitute ancient monasteries and worship-halls of different Buddhist traditions carved into 246 ft wall of rock. It is situated in CE in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra . The caves also present paintings depicting the past lives and rebirths of the Buddha, pictorial tales from Aryasura’s Jatakamala, and rock-cut sculptures of Buddhist deities. Textual records suggest that these caves served as a monsoon retreat for monks, as well as a resting site for merchants and pilgrims in ancient India. While vivid colors and mural wall-painting were abundant in Indian history as evidenced by historical records, Caves of Ajanta form the largest corpus of surviving ancient Indian wall-painting. There are 29 caves in Ajanta. According to UNESCO, these are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art that influenced the Indian art that followed. The caves were built in two phases, the first phase starting around the 2nd century BCE, while the second phase was built around 400–650 CE, according to older accounts, or in a brief period of 460–480 CE They were covered by jungle until accidentally discovered and brought to Western attention in 1819 by a colonial British officer Captain John Smith. The caves are in the rocky northern wall of the U-shaped gorge of the river Waghur in the Deccan plateau. Within the gorge are a number of waterfalls, audible from outside the caves when the river is high.
Ellora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. It is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world, featuring Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments, and artwork, dating from the 600–1000 CE period. Ellora complex a unique artistic creation and a technological exploit but, with its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India. There are 34 caves at Ellora.
These early caves were generally dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, although the iconography suggests that the artisans gave other gods and goddesses of Hinduism prominent and equal reverence. A common feature of these cave temples was a rock cut Linga-yoni within the core of the shrine with each being surrounded by a space for circumambulation. The Kailasha temple, inspired by Mount Kailasha, is dedicated to Shiva. Several inscriptions at Ellora, date from the 6th century onwards, the best known of which is an inscription by Rashtrakuta Dantidurga on the back wall of the front mandapa of Dashavatara temple stating that he had offered prayers at that temple.
Timings: All days of the week except Tuesday from Sunrise to Sunset.
Hill Forts of Rajasthan
The six Hill Forts of Rajasthan, spread across Rajasthan state in northern India, clustered together as a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The forts are mainly based in the Aravalli Range, and were built and enhanced between the 5th and 18th centuries CE by several Rajput kings of different kingdoms. They comprise:
1.Chittor Fort at Chittorgarh
2.Kumbhalgarh Fort at Kumbhalgarh
3.Ranthambore Fort at Sawai Madhopur
4.Gagron Fort at Jhalawar
5.Amer Fort at Jaipur
6.Jaisalmer Fort at Jaisalmer
The Chittor Fort or Chittorgarh is one of the largest forts in India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fort was the capital of Mewar and is located in the present-day town of Chittor.It was built by Chitrangada Mori. The occupants were Mauryas of Chittor, Guhilas of Medapata, Sisodias of Mewar. It spreads over 691.9 acres of land. There are seven gates of the fort. Padan Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Jorla Pol, Ganesh Pol, Laxman Pol, Ram Pol. The fort is situated 175 kilometer to the east of Udaipur and on a 180 meter high hill that rises from the banks of river Berach. Chittorgarh Fort timings are 9 am to 6 pm.
Kumbhalgarh fort in Rajsamand district personifies the spirit and grandeur of Rajasthan more than anything else. Kumbhalgarh fort in Rajasthan is perfectly perched between eleven peaks of the Aravalli ranges. Its strategic position atop a high ridge camouflaged by the surrounding peaks has made it one of the most important and probably the only impregnable fort of the state. It was bears a special significance in history as it was the birth place of Maharana Pratap. Built on a hilltop 3,600 ft above sea level on the Aravalli range, the fort of Kumbhalgarh has perimeter walls that extend 36 km making it one of the longest walls in the world. it is claimed to be the second-longest continuous wall after the Great Wall of China; the fort is among the largest wall complex in the world, and the second largest fort in India after Chittor Fort.
Ranthambore Fort was built by the Chauhan warriors in 944 A.D. This fort is located on the top of a rocky outcrop. It is in the midst of the forest. This fort is not only popular for its historical significance but the religious significance of the fort is also a great attraction for devotees. The presence of a number of temples and mosques in the Ranthambore Fort in Sawai Madhopur India attracts a large number of devotees as well. Along with various temples and lakes, Ranthambore fort is one of the top things to do for tourists and visitors who come to enjoy the wildlife at Ranthambore National Park.
The fort can be visited during the safaris of the National Park that occurs only between October to June. The timings are in between 7AM to 10:30 AM or 6:30AM to 10AM in the morning and in between 2PM and 6:30 in the evening, during different months.
The way to opt for a tour is on the basis of tour packages provided by the National Park depending on the schedule and number of days chosen to visit.
Gagron Fort is among the impressive ancient forts constructed in Rajasthan, Located 12 km away from the city of Jhalawar. it was first established in 1195 AD by Raja Bijaldev of the Parmara Empire. As per legend, the place was also known as ‘Galkangiri’ as it is believed that the powerful sage Garg Rishi achieved immense reparation and meditation in this fort. Gagron Fort is the only hill and water fort in Rajasthan and has been included in the list of World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The fort is surrounded from three sides by the tranquil waters of Ahu and Kali Sindh. On the remaining side, there was once a deep moat which completed its defences. A sight to behold, Gagron Fort is an exceptional fort which is bordered and secluded by a ‘Van’ as well as a ‘Jal Dunrg’, forest-protected and water-protected.
August To March is the best time to visit there
Amer Fort is a fort located in Amer, Rajasthan. Amer is a town 11kilometres from Jaipur located high on a hill, it is the principal tourist attraction in Jaipur.
Made out of sandstone and marble, Amber Fort consists of a series of four courtyards, palaces, halls, and gardens. At its entrance lies the primary courtyard, known as Jaleb Chowk. It’s here that the king’s soldiers assembled and paraded themselves around. Suraj Pol (Sun Gate) and Chand Pol (Moon Gate) lead into this courtyard. The town of Amer was originally built by Meenas, and later it was ruled by Raja Man Singh I. Amer Fort is known for its artistic style elements with its large ramparts and series of gates and cobbled paths. The Maota Lake is the main source of water for the Amer Palace.
Jaisalmer Fort is the second oldest fort in Rajasthan, built in 1156 AD by the Rajput Rawal Jaisal from whom it derives its name, and stood at the crossroads of important trade routes including the ancient Silk road. The fort’s massive yellow sandstone walls are a tawny lion color during the day, fading to honey-gold as the sun sets, thereby camouflaging the fort in the yellow desert. For this reason it is also known as the Sonar Quila or Golden Fort. Jaisalmer fort is 1,500 ft (460 m) long and 750 ft (230 m) wide and is built on a hill that rises above a height of 250 ft (76 m) above the surrounding countryside. The delicate blend of Islamic and Rajput architectural style will definitely catch the fancy of the eyeballs which looks stunning during the night.
Visiting Hours: 09:00 AM – 06:00 PM, Open on all days
November to March: These months constitute the winter season in Jaisalmer and considered as the best
The best time to visit Hampi, Karnataka, is during the months of October to March, when the climate is quite cool and pleasant for outdoor sightseeing.
Virupaksha Temple, Vittala Temple, Heritage Museum at the Hampi Bazaar, Archaeology Museum at Kamalapura are the prime sites to visit.
Mahabalipuram is a historic city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated just 60 km off Chennai on the Bay of Bengal coast in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The site has 400 ancient monuments and Hindu temples, including one of the largest open-air rock reliefs in the world: the Descent of the Ganges or Arjuna’s Penance. The group contains several categories of monuments: ratha temples with monolithic processional chariots, built between 630 and 668; The monuments were built during the Pallava dynasty. Known as the Seven Pagodas in many colonial-era publications, they are also called the Mamallapuram temples or Mahabalipuram temples in contemporary literature. The structures here, mostly carved straight out of granite, are among the oldest existing examples of Dravidian (South Indian) architecture.Here are the most famous tourist attractions in Mahabalipuram:
Arjuna’s Penance,Thirukadalmallai or Sthalasayana Perumal Temple,Shore Temple,Krishna’s Butterball,Cave Temples,India Seashell Museum.
The best time to visit Mahabalipuram is during the winters, from the months of November to February. During this time, days are pleasant while the nights are cool. The conditions are just perfect for sightseeing and exploration.