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World Heritage Sites in India

By Edited Sep 18, 2015 2 3
World Heritage Sites in India(130306)

World Heritage Sites

The World Heritage Sites are identified by the UNESCO. The World heritage Convention, which is recognized in 28 Articles, refers these sites as being significant in terms of natural and cultural heritage. According to Article 1 of the 28, these sites are acknowledged as monuments and a group of sites and buildings. Article 2 of the 28 refers these natural sites as having several natural features containing physiographical and geological constructions. The present list drawn up by the World Heritage has enlisted 911 lands comprising 711 cultural and 180 natural sites respectively and besides this, there are 27 joint lands of 152 countries.

The Agra Fort and the Ajanta caves were enlisted in the year 1983 as the first two sites but after some years, 27 more such sites were added along with a new one – the Western Ghats in the year 2012. To conclude, there are twenty nine sites in India recognized as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, among them twenty three sites are considered as cultural and six are natural properties.

Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983

These caves are Buddhist caves and were built in two various phases during the period of the Gupta’s. They are enlisted as a cultural property by the UNESCO as a World heritage Site. These caves contain a few paintings which are rich and ornamental and the same Sigiriya paintings along with their statues are seen in Sri Lanka. Altogether, the rock-cut caves are 31 in number and they symbolize the Buddhism faith.

Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983

Ellora Caves are also known as the Ellora Complex and they represent the faiths of the Hindus, the Buddhists and the Jains. These caves contain temples that are carved near the walls of rock of a high basalt precipice and also have 34 monasteries. The rock walls are spanning almost 2 km and they exhibit clearly India’s earlier civilization through the views of artists. It is considered as a cultural site which belongs to 600 AD and 1000 AD. 

Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983

Taj Mahal, is a famous mausoleum made by the Mughal King, Shah Jahan for Mumtaz Mahal, his favorite wife. It is a part of the Seven Wonders of the World. White marble is used to make this famed mausoleum and is a perfect example of Mughal architecture blending the Indian, Persian, and Islamic styles of architecture with the help of several thousands of artisans who belonged to many different parts of the world. It took him roughly 16 years to build this stunning and impressive masterpiece. It was declared as a World Heritage Site in the year 1983 as the greatest monument of culture ever seen. It is built by the King besides the Yamuna River and is seen inside the Mughal Gardens. This monument has some calligraphic writings carved on it with some richly adorned bands having arabesques in flowery shapes. Four minarets which are quite special are found in all the corners having a perfectly high dome. The tombs are found just beneath this dome in a chamber located under the ground. All these perfections highlight the monument’s beauty in a graphic way and thus the viewer is left with an impression that lasts in his mind forever long after he has left this huge world famous monument which is visited by visitors from all over the world.

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984

The Group of Monuments seen at the city of Mahabalipuram achieved great fame due to the Mamalla kings. The Pallava rulers constructed these monuments made from rock and are found near the Coromandel shore. Nearly 40 monuments are seen in this town also comprises the world’s biggest outdoor bas-relief. The Ratha Temples are included in these monuments and are chariot-shaped. These monuments are enlisted as a part of the World Heritage List in the year 1984. The other parts of these monuments are the bas-relief which surrounds the eleven cave sanctuaries, several Mandapams, the Penance of Arjuna and this is the largest outdoor Rock relief of this place.

Sun Temple at Konârak, Orissa

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984

The Sun Temple in Konark, Orissa belongs to the 13th century located in the Bay of Bengal’s eastern coast. This temple is also known as the ‘Black Pagoda’ and is in the form of a chariot of the Sun God comprising 24 wheels. These wheels are having carvings of stone which are very richly bedecked and a team of 6 horses are leading this chariot. Ferruginous sandstone is used to make it and is considered India’s most famous temples constructed by the ruler of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty - King Narasimhadeva I. This temple was enlisted a World Heirtage Site in the year 1984.

Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, Karnataka

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984

The Group of monuments in Pattadakal was enlisted as a World Heritage Site in the year 1987. It has a Jain sanctuary besides nine Hindu temples located in northern Karnataka. Lokamahadevi built the Virupaksha temple to honor her husband King Vikramaditya II battle over the kings of the Pallava dynasty and is a very good work of architecture. These temples were built by the Chalukya empire and these temples are located in various places such as Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami. All the temples combine the styles of architecture of north and south India. Pattadakal is a holy city and it has around 8 temples with Lord Shiva being the main deity and besides this, there is a shaivite sanctuary too. The Jaina and the temples of Papanatha are also found within this temple compound.

Kaziranga Wild Life Sanctuary, Assam

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985

Kaziranga Wild Life Sanctuary is found in the flood plains of the Brahmaputra river in Assam and it was enlisted by the UNESCO as a natural property in the year 1985. It was at first known as a reserve forest to save the Rhinos and finally it was re-titled as the Kaziranga Wild Life Sanctuary in 1950 and a national park in the year 1974. This national park has the Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros and is considered as the world’s largest collection of Rhinos. Besides, this park has some rare species of birds and numerous mammals too.

Manas Wild Life Sanctuary, Assam

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is found in the river plains of Manas in the base of the Himalayas bordering Bhutan. It has some unique natural environment and hence, was enlisted as a World Heritage Site in the year 1985. This sanctuary has several plant species and around 55 mammals, three amphibians, thirty six classes of reptiles and 350 species of birds. This sanctuary was considered initially as a forest reserve but being a part of Project Tiger, it became a Tiger Reserve as well as a World heritage Site in the year 1985. However, it was enlisted in The World Heritage in Danger from 1992 onwards.

Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985

Keoladeo National Park is found in Bharatpur and spans a region of around 2,783 h. In 1956, it was a park meant for hunting ducks and it became a sanctuary for birds in the year 1956 used by the Maharajas of this city for shooting birds. Finally, it became a World Heritage Site in the year 1985. The size of this park’s wetland region reduces to roughly 1,000 h often during the year. This park comprises walls or banks and the level of the water in it is controlled by the sluice procedure. Nearly 364 different types of birds come here to spend their time in winter season from as far as Siberia, China, Turkmenistan and even Afghanistan. Around 17 villages are located near this park and Bharatpur. 

Agra Fort, Uttar Pradesh

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985

The Agra Fort is a symbol of the power and wealth enjoyed by the Mughal rulers. It became a World heritage Site in the year 1982 as a cultural property. You can find this fort besides the flowing River Yamuna. Red sandstone is used to build this fort and a moat surrounds it. Many palaces and mosques and towers built during the 16th century by King Akbar are a part of this fort. The Shish Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas, Diwan-i-Am, white marble mosque or the Pearl Mosque, the Nagina Masjid, Muhamman Burje, and  the Khas Mahal are structures which are inspiring and are seen inside this fort. The art forms of India and the Timurid Persian are an amalgamation noted on these monuments and it is located very near the world famous, Taj Mahal. The fort spans a length of nearly 2.5 km all around.

Group of Monuments at Hampi, Karnataka

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986

The Group of Monuments at Hampi is found on the river banks of the river Tungabhadra in Karnataka. Hampi contains the relics of the city of Vijayanagara and the capital of the Vijayanagara reign. This town has plenty of temples and palaces of the Dravidian race and is also known as a holy center of the Hindus. It also has a few other monuments including the temple of Virupaksha and hence, is enlisted by the UNESCO as a cultural heritage site. 

Churches and Convents, Goa

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986

The Churches and Convents of Goa are constructed by the Portuguese rulers of Goa and are listed as a World Heritage Site somewhere between the 16th and the 18th centuries. The former capital was Velha Goa and you can see them here. The chief monument containing the relics of St. Francis Xavier is found inside the Basilica of Bom Jesus. Many Christian orders set up these monuments also called the Rome of the Orient. Today, just a few churches are surviving which include the Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina, the Jesuit Borea Jezuchi Bajilika, the Saint Catherine's Chapel, the Church and Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi, Igreja de São Francisco de Assis, the Theatine Igreja da Divina Providência (São Caetano) and also the Igreja de Santo Agostinho. They are made using laterites and the walls are plastered using limestone mortar in a combination of a few shells which are broken. During the monsoons, this construction tends to get damaged easily, so they need to be preserved carefully time and again.

Khajuraho Group of Monuments, Madhya Pradesh

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986

Khajuraho Group of Monuments was owned by the Chandela Empire and enjoyed the pinnacle of their fame amid 950 and 1050 A.D. They are a wonderful blend of art and sculpture which belonged to the Hindus and the Jains. A good sample of this perfection of art is seen in the Kandariya Temple and twenty two other temples which managed to endure representing the period of the Chandelas during the 10th century. These monuments are enlisted as a World heritage site. These monuments are also a real proof of the culture of the Chandelas and their one of a kind art and design. Hence, it became a cultural property during the year 1982.

Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986

Fatehpur Sikri was constructed by King Akbar and was the main seat and the capital of the Mughal Empire. This city is also called the "the City of Victory" and was built during the second half of the 16th century. Akbar built this city in the year 1573 taking three years to make it in architectural style of the Mughals. Some monuments and temples are a part of this complex including some large mosques like the Panch Mahal, Jama Masjid, the Buland Darwaza, and Salim Chishti’s tomb. All of these constructions were made in the architectural style of the Mughals. The design and planning of later towns in India were based on this city’s shape and type of construction. This city had many other buildings which belonged to the public and some mosques and most of these constructions were not documented including the town’s past.

Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987

The Elephanta Caves are a group of carved caves and are found in Gharapuri which is also known as the city of caves. There are basically two sets of Elephanta caves dating back to the 5th and 8th centuries of which the first set comprises 5 Hindu caves and the other comprises 2 Buddhist caves. Lord Shiva symbolizes the Hindu caves which are cut from rocks and the statutes are made of stone. The origin of their builders is not known and it is a controversial subject. Basalt rock is used to make these caves and is enlisted as a World Heritage Site in the year 1987.

Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987

The Sundarbans National Park is the world’s biggest estuarine mangrove forest, a Tiger Reserve, a national park, a World Heritage Site and besides all this, also a Biosphere Reserve located near the delta rivers near the Bay of Bengal. It is made because of the sediments left by the Brahmaputra, the Ganges and the Meghna Rivers. They together comprise the biggest delta in the world and finally meet in the Bengal Basin. In this area, you can find high tidal waves along with a thick network of inter-linking waterchannels. This park is enlisted as a world heritage list and this area contains very thick forests of mangroves and it is also the biggest reserves for the famous Bengal Tiger. In the year 1984, it became an important center for the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve. Several birds and reptiles and some species of invertebrates besides the famous salt-water crocodile are found within this national park premises.

Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1989

Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi, are found near Bhopal around 45 km from this place and they belong to around 100 - 200 B.C. Emperor Ashoka developed this site in the 3rd century and the main building is Stupa 1.  The Buddhists considered these monuments as lively and sacred and hence, they reached the pinnacle of their prosperity up till the 12th century A.D. Massive pillars are found in this sanctuary along with some palaces, temples and monasteries in different states of being repaired. These monuments were enlisted in the World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in the year 1989. After undertaking some excavations, around fifty exclusive monuments were exposed.

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993

Humayun’s Tomb, in Delhi is built with great improvisations in the midst of stunning gardens facing the Taj Mahal in the year 1570. It is culturally a very important tomb and was enlisted as a World heritage Site. This tomb is known as the necropolis of the Mughal Empire because of its Mughal work of art and its dual dome which is elevated. Near the tomb you can see several water outlets, a pavilion and a bath too. This tomb has a decorative chhatri on its top and is enclosed with slabs made of marble. The dome is built at a great height of 42.5m.

Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993

Qutb Minar and its Monuments, in Delhi is a huge complex and this pillar is built in the middle of it. It is made of red sandstone having a diameter of 9.0 ft and a height of 238 feet. The pillar was built in early 13th century comprising of an Iron Pillar, the Iltumish tomb, the Alai Minar, the Qubbat-ul-Islam Mosque, and the Alai Darwaza Gate. The bright iron pillar contains some writings in Sanskrit language and has a height of 23 feet. This project was finally done by Iltumish and Alauddin Khalji and it endured several damages done on it due to lightning and the changes many rulers did on it later on. This pillar is considered a work of excellent art and Islamic architecture and hence became a World heritage site by the UNESCO. 

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya, Bihar

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2002

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya is a unique destination of archeological and cultural importance. It was listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and the first temple was constructed by King Ashoka. The present temples are made of bricks and are the place of Buddha’s enlightenment. Hence, Buddhists come here from all parts of the world to pray in these holy temples. The main temple is built in Indian architectural design and is also one of the most ancient temples dating as far as the Gupta period. The archeological museum contains the Emperor Ashoka’s carved railings.

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka is located in the center of Madhya Pradesh at the foothills of the Vindhya’s and this World heritage site spans around 1893 ha and is shaped using sandstone. These shelters are basically a group of rock shelters and its paintings date back to the Mesolithic period. They were uncovered in the year 1957 and were enlisted by the UNESCO as an amazing  complex of natural rock shelters with rock paintings within it. They were also found in about four hundred shelters inside a thick forested area which had vast variety of fauna and flora. These rock shelters are the only one of a kind cultural property showing a blending of the landscape art and people of the past who hunted as their means of livelihood.

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Gujarat

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is found in the district of Panchmahal in Gujarat. This park is enlisted as a natural property and hence is a World Heritage Site having big and unexplored historical, cultural and archeological sites with stunning landscapes. It also has some remains of the 16th century including a former Hindu capital’s fortress found on a hill and a few pre-historical properties too. Besides this, there are a few palaces and forts, water fittings, few forts and palaces, some agricultural constructions, holy buildings that date back between the 8th and 14th centuries. An important holy place is the Kalikamata temple found on the Pavagadh hill and this temple attracts many religious people the whole year. This site is symbolic of the past era of the Islamic Mughal city and is an untouched property.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Maharashtra

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is a railway station found in the city of Mumbai and is currently the main center of the busiest Central Railways. Frederick William Stevens was the architect who designed this railway station and hence, it was called as – Victoria Terminus in the year 1887. The name was given in Queen Victoria’s honor and is a very popular attraction using the architecture of Gothic style. The State Government of Maharashtra gave this station a new name after Chatrapati Shivaji in the year 1996. The station was finally enlisted as a World Heritage Site in the year 2004. 

Chola Temples, Tamil Nadu

Brihadeeswarar temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Airavateshwarar Temple at Darasuram and Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004.

These temples which are considered as a cultural property were made by the kings of Chola reign and are found in the entire state of Tamil Nadu. The three main temples -  the Brihadisvara Temples found in Thanjavur and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram are found in this main temple complex. The Gangaikondacholisvaram temple comprises the sanctum tower built in a graceful curved shape is quite different from the upright tower seen in the city of Thanjavur. Rajaraja II made the Airavatesvara Temple and it comprises a tower built at 79 feet high with Lord Shiva’s statue in it. They all became a part of the World Heritage List in the year 2004.

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks, Uttarakhand

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks are mainly famed for their stunning meadows containing a vast expanse of alpine flowers found in the western Himalayan Mountains. It is a place of superb natural beauty found in Uttaranchal comprising rare and extinct animals including the brown bear, the snow leopard, the blue sheep and the Black bear from Asia. The park’s lovely environment is in perfect sync with the rough and wild mountains of this park combining to become a changing zone located between the Himalayan ranges and the Zanskar Mountains. In the year 2005, it became a part of the World heritage List. The national park along with the game sanctuary together form the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve enlisted in the list of Biosphere Reserves by the UNESCO.

Red Fort Complex, Delhi

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007

Red Fort Complex is also known as the ‘Lal Quila’ or the palace fort. It was made by Shah Jahan during the 17th century in the north of Delhi which was the capital of his kingdom. The splendor of the Mughal reign is noticed strongly in this complex and symbolizes the Mughal architecture which blends the creative art styles of Persia, India and the Timuri. Red Sand Stone is used for the outer walls of this complex and hence, it was known as the ‘Red Fort’. It was enlisted by the World Heritage Site and constructed near the Yamuna River close to the Salimgarh Fort. The plush and richly engraved palace within this complex comprises several water channels called the “Stream of Paradise” or the ‘Nehr-i-Behishit’ and besides this, it has the Moti Masjid, the Diwane-i-khas or the Private audience arena, and many such vital private constructions.

Mountain Railways of India

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in West Bengal - Declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Tamilnadu - Declared a World Heritage Site in 2005 and Kalka-Shimla Railway in Himachal Pradesh - Declared a World Heritage Site in 2008.

The Mountain Railways of India are a part of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, the Railways between the cities of Kalka and Shimla and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. These railways were made during the British rule during the 19th and initial years of the 20th century. They are declared as a world heritage site and are run by the Indian Railways.  The hilly regions of the Himayalas comprise three railways namely the Kangra Valley Railway, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and the Kalka-Shimla Railway. The Western Ghats have the remaining two railway lines. All the three together comprise the Mountain Railways of India.

Jantar Mantar at Jaipur, Rajasthan

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2010

The Jantar Mantar is found in Jaipur and was built somewhere between 1727 -1734. Maharaja Jai Singh had made it comprising astronomical instruments similar to what he had made in his capital city, Delhi. The biggest and the best maintained astronomical observatory is found in Jaipur comprising roughly 20 important astronomical instruments using masonry. It was enlisted as a World Heritage Site as it stands as an example for astonishing astronomical skills and cosmological ideas.

Western Ghats

Agasthyamalai, Periyar, Nilgiri, Talakaveri, Anamalai, Kudremukh ans Sahyadri Sub-Clusters - Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.

The Western Ghats is basically a range of mountains known as the Sahyadri Mountains. These mountain ranges are regarded as the world’s ten best Hottest biodiversity hotspots comprising 39 properties. They include many national parks and natural wildlife sanctuaries and some reserve forests as a part of the natural world heritage properties. Kerala has 20 of these natural properties, Tamil Nadu has five, 4 are in the state of Maharashtra and Karnataka has ten such natural sites.



Feb 26, 2013 5:45am
What a great idea for an article! Very informative! Thumbs up!
Mar 11, 2013 4:45pm
Wow India is full of world heritage sites. I wonder if it is common for a country to have so many? I couldn't help thinking about the blockbuster movie "Slumdog Millionare" when I was reading the part about Taj Mahal, the famous mausoleum made by the Mughal King, Shah Jahan for Mumtaz Mahal, his favorite wife. There is a very funny part in that movie where the young character in the movie describes the history of this place. Great article!
Mar 13, 2013 5:47am
Hey chopsooy, in Slumdog Millionaire that is really a very funny scene. He describes his own story, even i like that scene.
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