UNESCO’s List of Tangible World Heritage Sites in India

Benefits of World Heritage Site Status

  • Brings international attention to the need for the preservation and conservation of the site.
  • Brings tourism to the site ensuring economic benefits.
  • UNESCO can provide funds for restoration, preservation, and training, if required.
  • Promotes close ties with the United Nations system and the prestige and support it provides.
  • Enables access to global project management resources.
  • Facilitates creating partnerships between government, the private sector, and NGOs to achieve conservation goals.
  • Site becomes protected under Geneva Convention against destruction or misuse during wartime

UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Cultural)

Ajanta Caves (Maharashtra)

  • These caves are excavated out of a vertical cliff above the left bank of Waghora River. There are 28 caves, out of which 5 are Chaityas and rest sangharamas or Viharas.
  • The caves were excavated in two phases, begining with Satavahanas and later by Vakataka rulers.
  • Six caves were excavated in the first phase by Hinayana/Theravada sect, wherein Buddha was worshipped in aniconic/symbolic form.
  • Murals: Ajanta caves are marked by beautiful murals on walls, ceilings, doorframes & pillars.
  • Technique of painting: Fresco secco method was used for paintings at Ajanta. In this technique, a thick layer of mud, mixed with vegetable material is applied on top of rock surface. A thin layer of plaster was applied on top of this. Paintings were made on this prepared surface using pigments mixed in glue or gum. The technique employed at Ajanta was different from true fresco.
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Ellora Caves (Maharashtra)

  • A collection of 34 caves in Charanandri hills.
  • The caves show a spirit of co-existence and religious tolerance as caves here belong to: Buddhism, Brahmanism and Jainism. Earliest caves belong to Mahayana tradition of Buddhism.
  • Brahmanical caves include the famous Kailasa temple, Dashavatara cave and Dumar Lena cave. The last phase saw the construction of Jain caves belong to Digambar sect.
  • Kailash Temple is the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world. It is a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Lord Shiva.
  • The Buddhist and Hindu caves were excavated during the time of Rashtrakutas and Jain caves during Yadavas.
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Taj Mahal (Uttar Pradesh)

  • Taj Mahal is the finest example of the Indo-Islamic architecture. It was built in Agra on the bank of the Yamuna river.
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Agra Fort (Uttar Pradesh)

  • Agra Fort is a 16th-century Mughal imperial fortress in Agra. It got its present layout under the Emperor Akbar. 
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Sun Temple, Konark (Odisha)

  • The temple is epitome of Kalinga (Odisha) style of temple architecture. It was constructed by king Narasimhadeva of Eastern Ganga dynasty about 1250 century AD.
  • The temple is dedicated to Sun god and is built in form of a chariot with 24 large wheels and horses.
  • The temple was called ‘Black Pagoda’ by European sailors because it looked like a black tower from the sea.
Konarka Temple

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu)

  • Pancha Ratha, Shore Temple, Arjuna’s Penance or Descent of the Ganges, Caves Temples, etc. These structures were built during the reign of Pallava kings.
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Churches and Convents of Goa

  • Goa was the capital of Portoguese in India.
  • The Church of Bom Jesus contains the tomb of Saint Francis Xavier. These churches played an important role in development of architecture, sculpture and painting by spreading forms of Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art in Asia.
    • Francis Xavier: He was a Christian missionary and saint who led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time and was influential in evangelisation work in Asia (India, Japan, China), he died in China). 
Basilika Bom Jesus

Khajuraho group of Monuments (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Group of Hindu and Jain temples which include Kandariya Mahadeva temple, Vishvanatha temple, Lakshmana temple, Chausath Yogini temple, etc of Hindu origin and Parshvanatha, Adinath and Shantinatha temples, etc of Jain origin.
  • These monuments were built during the reign of Chandella rulers of Jejabhukti (Old name of Bundelkhand).
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Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh)

  • Built by Akbar. It was capital of Mughal Empire for 10 years.
  • It was the first planned city of the Mughals. The capital of Mughals moved to Lahore from Fatehpur Sikri. The buildings are constructed in red sandstone with little use of marble and reflect a beautiful amalgamation of Indigenous and Persian styles.
  • Important structures:
    • Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private audience, also known as Jewel House);
    • Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience);
    • Panch Mahal (Entirely columnar 5 storey structure);
    • Palace of Jodha Bai (Largest building of the residential complex);
    • Jama Masjid (This mosque incorporates the tomb of Saikh Salim Chisti);
    • Buland Darwaza (Constructed to commemorate victory of Gujarat in 1572, considered as the greatest monumental structure of emperor Akbar’s reign).
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Group of Monuments at Hampi, Karnataka

  • Capital of Vijayanagar dynasty on the banks of Tungabhadra River.
  • The city has been divided into two large complexes:
    • Royal Centre and
    • Sacred Centre.
  • Important monuments: Krishna temple complex, Narasimha, Ganesa, Hemakuta group of temples, Achyutaraya temple complex, Vitthala temple complex, Pattabhirama temple complex, Lotus Mahal complex.
  • Mahanavami Dibba: A massive platform used for many ceremonies such as worship of the image, worship of state horse and royal sacrifices.
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Elephanta Caves (Maharashtra)

  • Located on Elephanta Island (Island of Gharapuri). The rock cut Elephanta Caves were constructed about 5th and 6th centuries AD.
  • This cave resembles Dumar Lena Cave at Ellora. Highlight of the cave is sculpture of ‘Sadashiva’ which represents three aspects of Shiva (Trimurti).
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Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (Karnataka)

  • These temples were constructed during 7th and 8th century AD by Chalukyan Dynasty on the banks of Mallaprabha river, a tributary of Krishna.
  • The temples have been constructed in Vesara style which represents a blending of north and south Indian traditions.
  • Nine Hindu temples and one jain temple which includes Virupaksha temple, Papanatha temple.
  • Virupaksha Temple has been constructed by Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband’s victory over the kings of South India. 
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Great Chola Temples

  • These temples were by the kings of Chola empire during 11th and 12th century AD.
  • Temples: Brihadeshwara Temple, Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu), Airavateshvara Temple, Darasuram (Tamil Nadu).
1200px A collage of Great living Chola temples UNESCO heritage site

Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh

  • Great Stupa, Ashokan Pillar, Shunga Pillar, Siri Satakarni inscriptions of Satavahana period, various other Stupas, etc.
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Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

  • First of grand dynastic mausoleums built by Mughal. It was built under the patronage of Akbar. Built in Charbagh style (a four-quadrant garden with the four rivers of Quranic paradise represented).
  • Humayun’s garden-tomb is also called the ‘dormitory of the Mughals’ as in the cells are buried over 150 Mughal family members.
Tomb of Humayun Delhi

Qutub Minar and its Monuments (Delhi)

  • Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque and Qutub Minar were built during the last decade of 12th century. This was the congregational mosque of the first city built by the Delhi Sultans. The first city of Delhi is known as Delhi-i-Kuhna.
  • The Qutub Minar was built by Qutubuddin Aibak and Iltutmish. The mosque was enlarged by Iltutmish and Alauddin Khilji.
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Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (West Bengal)

  • Under Mountain Railways of India
  • The toy train on the Darjeeling Himalayan section is not merely a source of delight for the young and old, it also represents the engineering skills of the highest order. This 83 km. long section connecting Darjeeling with the railhead at Siliguri is of great importance and has been bestowed World Heritage Site status.
Darjeeling Toy Train 1629850287718 1629850294333

Mahabodhi Temple Complex, Bodh Gaya (Bihar)

  • It is one of four holy sites related to life of Buddha (Enlightenment).
  • The first temple at Mahabodhi Temple Complex was built by Ashoka and the present temple dates from 5th-6th century AD.
  • It is one of the earliest Buddhist temples built entirely in brick and still standing from the late Gupta period.
  • Important structures:
    • Bodhi Tree (A supposed direct descendant of the original Bodhi Tree under which Buddha had his enlightenment).
    • Vajrasana (Polished sandstone (Diamond Throne), originally installed by Emperor Ashoka to mark the spot where Buddha sat and meditated).
  • Restoration of Bodhi Temple: Bodhi temple at Gaya was ruined by 19th century and was under control of Hindu Mahant.
    • The restoration of the temple was undertaken by J. D. Beglar under guidance of Alexander Cunningham, head of ASI.
  • Mahabodhi Society was founded by Angarika Dharmapala and Edwin Arnold in 1891 in Colombo. Office of Mahabodhi Society was soon transferred to Calcutta and Angarika Dharmapala from Sri Lanka was a pioneer in revival of Buddhism in India. Edwin Arnold published the poem, The Light of Asia, a narrative poem on the life of Buddha.
Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya

Rock shelters of Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Rock paintings from the Mesolithic period. The oldest paintings have larger figures, with just outline of animal or person, and attention on scenes of everyday life.
  • The newer ones have smaller but elaborate figures, with religious motives, and the outline is filled with colour and details.
  • They are considered oldest petroglyphs in the world. (A petroglyph is an image created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving or abrading as a form of rock art.)
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Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus, Mumbai (Maharashtra)

  • It is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic architecture in India. The building is designed by F.W. Stevens, became the symbol as the ‘Gothic City’.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station cropped

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (Gujarat)

  • It is located around the historical city of Champaner, a city which was founded by Vanraj Chavda, the most prominent king of the Chavda Dynasty, in the eighth century. 
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Nilgiri Mountain Railways

  • Under Mountain Railways of India.
  • The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a 1,000 mm metre gauge railway in Nilgiris district, Tamil Nadu, India, built by the British in 1908.
Darjeeling Toy Train 1629850287718 1629850294333 1

Red Fort Complex (Delhi)

  • It was built as the palace fort of Shahajanabad, the new capital of 5th Mughal Emperor of India. It is built adjacent to an older fort, Salimgarh, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546.
  • The private apartments consist of a row of pavilions connected by a continuous water channel, known as the Nahr-i-Behisht (Stream of Paradise).
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Kalka-Shimla Railway (Himachal Pradesh)

  • Under Mountain Railways of India
KSR Steam special at Taradevi 05 02 13 56

Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (Rajasthan)

  • An astronomical observation site built in 18th century by Jai Singh II.
  • Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, they embody several architectural and instrumental innovations.
Jantar Mantar at Jaipur

Six hill forts of Rajasthan

  • Chittorgarh, Ranthambhore, Jaisalmer, Kumbhalgarh, Amber, Gagron
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Rani ki Vav (The Queen’s Stepwell), (Gujarat)

  • Located on banks of Saraswati River, in Patan Gujarat. It has been built as an inverted temple in 11 century AD in Maru Gurjara style.
  • Constructed during reign of Gujarat Chalukya dynasty, also known as Solanki Dynasty.
Rani ki vav 02

Architectural work of Le Corbusier (Capital Complex, Chandigarh)

  • Le Corbusier is a swiss French architect who is considered as a pioneer of modern architecture.
  • He prepared the master plan for the city of Chandigarh in India and designed the Capital Complex which comprises of important government buildings in Chandigarh. (Open Hand Monument which reflects peace and reconciliation was designed by Corbusier, a large sculpture of open hand was designed by Corbusier in Chandigarh).
Palace of Assembly Chandigarh 2006

Archaeological site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University), (Bihar)

  • It comprises the archaeological remains of a monastic and scholastic institution dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE. It includes stupas, shrines, viharas (residential and educational buildings) and important art works in stucco, stone and metal.
NalandaMahavihara2 22.03.2018

Historic city of Ahmedabad:

  • Walled city of Ahmedabad, founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah in the 15th century, on the eastern bank.
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Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai

  • The city of Mumbai was once an archipelago of 7 islands. The islands were merged into Salsette island.
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Jaipur City, Jaipur

  • Walled city of Jaipur was constructed in 1727 by Sawai Jai Singh II. The city has been built on a plain and built according to a grid pattern. Salient features include large public squares called chaupars, uniform facades.
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Kakatiya Rudreshwara Temple (Ramappa), Telangana

  • Rudreshwara, popularly known as Ramappa Temple, is located in the village of Palampet approximately 200km north-east of Hyderabad, in the State of Telangana.
  • It is the main Shiva temple in a walled complex built during the Kakatiyan period (1123–1323 CE) under rulers Rudradeva and Recharla Rudra. 
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  • Dholavira, a Harappan city, is one of the very few well preserved urban settlements in South Asia dating from the 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BCE.
  • Dholavira not only witnesses the entire trajectory of the rise and fall of this early civilization of humankind, but also demonstrates its multifaceted achievements in terms of urban planning, construction techniques, water management, social governance and development, art, manufacturing, trading, and belief system.
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