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UNESCOWorld Heritage Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India

India is a country having a precious and vast culture and history and as a result of it, 36 sites from all over India are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It shows India’s rich and immense cultural and natural importance. Out of 36 World Heritage Sites in India, 28 are cultural sites, 7 are natural sites and 1 is a mixed site of culture and nature. India stands at number 6th position on the list of the countries with the most number of world heritage sites. 
Below is the list of all UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India:

Agra Fort:

Agra Fort is situated near to the Taj Mahal in the Agra District of Uttar Pradesh. Agra Fort was declared as World Heritage Site in 1983. Agra Fort is a 16th Century Mughal monument and also known as Red Fort of Agra. It was the main residence of Mughal emperors till 1638 when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi. There were more than five hundred buildings in the beautiful designs of Bengal and Gujarat which were built in the fort and which shows its importance in architectural history. Later some of these buildings were demolished by Shah Jahan (Mughal emperor) to make way for his white marble palaces and few were demolished by the British during their rule.

Ajanta Caves:

Ajanta Caves are situated in the Aurangabad District of Maharashtra state. Ajanta Caves were added to UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1983. The Ajanta Caves are about 29 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments. Rock-cut sculptures and painting inside the caves show the finest surviving example of ancient Indian art. UNESCO described Ajanta Caves as masterpieces of Buddhist religious art. The Ajanta Caves are located on the side of a rocky cliff that is on the north side of a U-shaped gorge on the small river. These caves served as a monsoon retreat for monks and as well as resting sites for merchants.

Ellora Caves:

 Ellora caves are also situated in the Aurangabad District of Maharashtra state. Ellora Caves is one of the largest rock-cut monastery and temple complex in the world. There are 34 monasteries and temples in 2 km area. Out of 34 caves, 12 consist Buddhist, 17 to Hindu and 5 to Jain. Cave 16 is the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, which is chariot shaped monument dedicated to Lord Shiva and knows as Kailashanatha Temple.

Taj Mahal:

Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of Yamuna River in India city of Agra. In 2007 it was declared one of the winners of New 7 Wonders of the World. Taj Mahal is also known as ‘The epitome of Love’ which was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, in between 1628 to 1658. The name Taj Mahal was delivered from the name of Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal and means “Crown Palace”. The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram:

The Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram is located in Chingleput District of Tamil Nadu. These groups of monuments were declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. This site has around 400 ancient monuments and Hindu temples which include the world largest open-air rock reliefs: the Descent of the Ganges or Arjuna’s Penance. This monument contains temples in the form of chariots and cave temples known as mandapa.

Sun Temple Konark:

Konark Sun Temple is located at Konark about 35 kilometers from Puri in Odisha. Konark Sun Temple is attributed to king Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty about 1250 CE. Konark Sun Temple is dedicated to the Hindu God Surya and the appearance of the temple is about 100 feet high chariot with immense wheels and horses which are carved from stone. Konark Sun Temple was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. It is also considered as the larges and famous Brahmin Sanctuaries of India.

Kaziranga National Park:

Kaziranga National Park is famous for its one horn rhinoceroses and this sanctuary host two-third of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses. Kaziranga National Park is situated in the Golaghat and Nagaon District of Assam. This park is also the home of tigers and large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo and swamp deer. Observing wildlife and birds is one of the main activities of visitors who are exploring the park. In 1985 Kaziranga National Park was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in India.

Keoladeo National Park:

Keoladeo National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird sanctuary is located in the Bharatpur Rajasthan. It is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Keoladeo National Park is one of the major wintering areas for a large number of aquatic birds from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China, and Siberia. Keoladeo National Park is home of around 366 bird species, 379 floral species, 50 species of fish, 13 species of snakes, 5 species of lizards, 7 amphibian species, 7 turtle species and various variety of other invertebrates. The sanctuary is one of the richest bird areas in the world and is known for nesting of resident birds and visiting migratory birds including water birds.

Manas National Park:

The name Manas National Park is originated from the Manas River, which is named after the goddess Manasa. The Manas river is a major tributary of Brahmaputra River, which passes through the heart of the Manas National Park. Manas National Park falls in five districts of Assam which are Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa, Barpeta, and Udalguri. In December 1985 Manas National Park was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in India. Located in the foothills of Himalaya, Manas National Park is also contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan. Park is famous for its population of the wild water buffalo. Other endangered and rare wildlife such as the Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur, and pygmy hog. Manas National Park is a biosphere reserve in Assam along with Tiger reserve and elephant reserve.

Churches and Convents of Goa:

In 1986, UNESCO declared Churches and Convents of Goa to its World Heritage Sites in India. The city was constructed by the Bijapur Sultanate in the 15th century and severed as the capital of Portuguese India from the 16th century. The remains of the city are now UNESCO World Heritage Site. These monuments are well known for spreading the art forms of Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art in all the countries of Asia where missions were established. Some of the famous churches of Goa are the See Cathedral, the church of St. Francis of Assisi, the church of St. Caetano and Basilica of Bom Jesus.

Fatehpur Sikri:

Fatehpur Sikri is a town in the Agra District of Uttar Pradesh. Fatehpur Sikri was built during the second half of the 16thcentury by the Mughal emperor Akbar. Sikri word is delivered from Shukri means thanks and Fatehpur means the city of Victory. Babur called this place Shukri because of its large water lakes which were needed for his armies. In 1986 UNESCO declared Fatehpur Sikri as World Heritage Site in India due to the complex of monuments and temples which are all in a uniform architectural style. Fatehpur Sikri also includes the largest mosque in India known as Jama Masjid. Buland Darwaza the high entrance to Fatehpur Sikri Complex and Diwan-i-khas a hall of a private audience of the emperor Akbar are also some examples of great architectural work.

Group of Monuments at Hampi:

Hampi town is located in the Ballari District of Karnataka. Hampi was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. Hampi was a prosperous, wealthy and grand city near the Jungabhadra River, with the number of temples, farms and trading markets. It is also the world’s second-largest medieval-era city after Beijing. The Group of Monuments at Hampi was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in India in 1986. In 1565 the Vijayanagara Empire was defeated by Muslim sultanates and its capital was conquered and destroyed by the sultanates armies and after that Hampi remained in ruins. Hampi ruins are spread over 4100 hectares and more than 1600 surviving remains of the largest Hindu Kingdom in South India that includes forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas, memorial, and water structure are there.

Khajuraho Group of Monuments:

In 1986 UNESCO declared the Khajuraho Group of Monuments to World Heritage Site in India. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments is located in the Madhya Pradesh state of India. These monuments are famous for their nagara style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a group of Hindu and Jain temples that were built between 950 and 1050 by the Chandela dynasty which shows the acceptance respect for diverse religious views among both religions in the region. In the 12th century, there were around 85 temples which were spread over 20 square kilometers but now only 20 of them have survived and spread over 6 square kilometers only. Kandariya Mahadev Temple is one of the surviving temples which is decorated with a profusion of sculptures with intricate details, symbolism, and expressiveness of ancient Indian art.

Elephanta Caves:

Elephanta Caves are declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in India in 1987. Elephanta Caves are located in Elephanta Island in Mumbai Harbour which is around 10 kilometers away from the city of Mumbai, Maharashtra. In Elephanta Caves, there is a collection of Cave temples that are dedicated to Hindu god Shiva. Elephant Caves also consists of some Buddhist Stupa mounds. These are also the rock-cut stone sculptures. Some of the famous attractions of Elephanta caves are 20 feet Trimurti Sadashiva (three-faced Shiva), Nataraja (lord of dance) and Yogishvara (lord of Yoga).

Great Living Chola Temples:

In 1987, Great Living Chola Temples were declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in India. These Chola Temples were built between the 11th and 12th century CE by King of Chola Empire in the Tamil Nadu state of India. The Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram are the brilliant achievement of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.

Group of Monuments at Pattadakal:

Group of Monuments at Pattadakal is a complex of Hindu and Jain temples that were built in the 7th and 8thcentury. These groups of monuments are located on the west bank of the Malaprabha River in Bagalakote district of Karnataka. These monuments show the historic significance of the Chalukya dynasty. In 1987 these groups of Monuments at Pattadakal were declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. UNESCO has described Pattadakal as “a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India” and an illustration of “eclectic art” at its height.

Sundarbans National Park:

Sundarbans National Park is a Biosphere Reserve and Tiger Reserve in the West Bengal state of India. It is a part of the Sundarbans on the Ganges Delta and adjacent to the Sundarban Reserve Forest in Bangladesh. Sundarbans National Park contains the world's largest area of mangrove forests and also contains the largest reserve of Bengal Tiger. Park is also home to a variety of birds, reptiles and other invertebrate species. Saltwater crocodile are also famous in Sundarbans National Park. In 1987, Sundarbans National Park was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in India.

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park:

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers is located in the Uttarakhand state of India. The Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park is a beautiful high altitude Himalayan landscape with outstanding biodiversity. Nanda Devi is the second highest mountain peak in India. Its height is 7817 meters. On the other hand, the valley of Flower National Park has a gentle landscape and breathtaking beautiful meadows of alpine flowers. In 1988, UNESCO declared Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park as World Heritage Site in India. This park is also home to some rare and endangered animals including Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, brown bear, and blue sheep. In Hindu mythology, this place has significant importance as it has a magical herb called Sanjeevani which could revive a dead person.

Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi:

Sanchi is a town in Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh which is famous for its Buddhist complex and Great Stupa. The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India and it was originally commissioned by the emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE. It is the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in existence and was a major Buddhist center in India until the 12thcentury A.D. in 1989, Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi are declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in India.

Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi:

Humayun’s Tomb is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun in Delhi. This tomb was commissioned by Humayun’s first wife Bega Begum also known as Haji Begum in 1569 -70. Humayun’s Tomb was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It was also the first structure were red sandstone was used at such a scale. There are several other smaller monuments nearby the Humayun’s Tomb. Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi is the first of the grand dynastic mausoleums that were to become synonyms of Mughal architecture style. In 1993, Humayun’s Tomb was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in India.

Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi:

In 1993, Qutb Minar and its Monuments were declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in India. The Qutb Minar is the complex that was built by Qutbuddin Aibqak, who later became the first Sultan (King) of Delhi in the Mandlik dynasty. The minar was later added upon by his successor Iltutmish and much later by Firoz Shah Tughlaq, a Sultan of Delhi in the Tughlaq dynasty. Apart from Qutb Minar several other monuments are there including Quwwat ul-Islam Mosque, Alai Gate, the Alai Minar, the Iron Pillar, the ruins of several earlier Jain Temples, and the tombs of Iltutmish, Alauddin Khalji, and Imam Zamin.

Mountain railways of India:

The Mountain Railways of India refers to the railway lines built in the mountains of India. There are three railways which are included in the Mountain Railways of India by UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These three railways are the Darjeeling Himalaya Railway, the Nilgiri Mountain Railways, and the Kalka –Shimla Railway which were in UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India and declared in 1999. Darjeeling Himalaya Railway was the first mountain railway opened in 1881 and still the most outstanding example of a hill passenger railway. The fourth railway the Matheran Hill Railway is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Site. All these railway lines are narrow gauge railways. Some other mountain railways such as Jammu- Baramulla line are under construction, while Bilaspur –Manali- Leh Line, the Jammu – Poonch line, the Srinagar – Kargil- Leh line, and Chota Char Dham railway is in the planning stage.

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya:

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya is located in the Gaya District of Bihar. Mahabodhi Temple Complex is one of the holy sites related to Lord Buddha and it is said that Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment here. The site contains a descendant of the Bodhi Tree under which Buddha gained enlightenment and it has been a major pilgrimage destination of Buddhists from the past two thousand years. The first temple was built by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century B.C. and it is one of the earliest Buddhist temples which were built entirely in bricks and still standing from the late Gupta period. UNESCO added Mahabodhi Temple Complex in 2002 to a list of World Heritage Site in India.

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka:

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are located in Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh. This site consists of seven hills over 750 rock shelters which are distributed over 10 kilometers. These hills are in the Vindhyan Mountains. Among these shelters, some of the shelters were inhabited by Homo erectus (species of archaic humans that lived throughout most of the Pleistocene geological epoch) more than 100000 years ago. These rock shelters and caves provide evidence of evolution from hunter-gatherers to agriculture and expression of spirituality. In 2003, Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

Champaner – Pavagadh Archaeological Park:

Champaner – Pavagadh Archaeological Park is located in Panchmahal district of Gujarat. It is located around the historical city of Champaner, which was built by Sultan Mahmud Begada of Gujarat. Champaner – Pavagada Archaeological Park includes archaeological, historical and living cultural heritage monuments such as chalcolithic sites, hill forests of an early Hindu Capital and remains of the 16th century capital of the state of Gujarat. Several other places such as entrance gates and arches, mosques, tombs and temples, residential complexes, agricultural structures and water installations such as step wells and tanks are there which were built between the 8th to 14th centuries. The Kalimata Temple on top of Pavagada Hill is considered the most important shrine, which attracts a large number of pilgrims every year. In 2004, Champaner- Pavagadh Archaeological Park was included in UNESCO, Worlds Heritage Sites in India.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus):

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus formerly known as Victoria Terminus is a historic railway station in Mumbai, Maharashtra and serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways. This building was designed by the British architect Frederick William Stevens. It is an outstanding example of the meeting of two cultures; the British architects worked with Indian craftsmen and include Indian architectural tradition. Its remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches and eccentric ground plan are close to traditional Indian palace architecture. In the year 2004, UNESCO declared Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus as a World Heritage Site in India.

Red Fort Complex:

Red Fort is a historic fort in the capital city of Delhi in India. As the name suggest Red Fort is made with the massive enclosing walls of red sandstone which was built by the fifth Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan. It was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for nearly 200 years. Red Fort is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh which was built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546 with which it forms the Red Fort Complex. The fort complex is considered to present the zenith of Mughal creativity under Shah Jahan. In 2007, UNESCO designated the Red Fort complex as World Heritage Sites in India. Every year on the Independence day of India, the Prime Minister hoists the Indian tricolor flag at the main gate of the fort and delivers a nationally broadcast speech.

The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur:

The Jantar Mantar is located in Jaipur, Rajasthan and it is the collection of 19 architectural astronomical instruments. The Jantar Mantar was built by the Rajput King Sawai Jai Singh II. It also features the world’s largest stone sundial. Sundial us a device that tells the time of day when there is sunlight by the apparent position of the sun in the sky. The monument features masonry, stone and brass instruments that were built using astronomy and instrument design principles of ancient Hindu Sanskrit texts. The Jantar Mantar is near to Hawa Mahal of Jaipur. In 2010, The Jantar Mantar was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

Western Ghats:

The Western Ghats is a mountain range that runs parallel to the western coast of the Indian Peninsula. It is one of the eight hottest hot spots of biological diversity in the world. The range starts near the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra and runs approximately 1600 km south of the Tapti River through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu ending at Swamithoppe near Kanyakumari. The Western Ghats is one of the hottest biodiversity hotspots and has over 7402 species of flowering plants, 1814 species of non-flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 birds species, 179 amphibian, 6000 insects and 290 freshwater fish species. In 2012 it was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

Hill Forts of Rajasthan:

Hill Forts of Rajasthan is the series site of Fort situated in the state of Rajasthan. These forts are in Arrivalli Range and were built in between 5th and 17th-18thcenturies CE by several Rajput King of different kingdoms. These forts are Chittor Fort at Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh Fort at Kumbhalgarh, Ranthambore Fort at Sawai Madhopur, Gagron Fort at Jhalawar, Amer Fort at Jaipur and Jaisalmer Fort at Jaisalmer. The forts use the natural defense offered by the landscape hills, deserts, rivers, and dense forests. They also feature extensive water harvesting structures, largely still in use today. In 2013 Hill Forts of Rajasthan were added in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area:

Great Himalayan National Park is located in the Kullu region in the state of Himachal Pradesh. This park is spread over an area of 1171 km2 at an altitude of between 1500 and 6000 m. Great Himalayan National Park is home to 375 fauna species including approximately 31 mammals, 181 birds, 3 reptiles, 9 amphibians, 11 annelids, 17 mollusks, and 127 insects. Great Himalayan National Park has high alpine peaks, alpine meadows, and reverie forests. Due to its outstanding significance for biodiversity conservations, in June 2014 the Great Himalayan National Park was added to UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

Rani-ki-vav (the Queens’s Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat:

Rani ki vav is located on the banks of Saraswati River of Patan in Gujarat. Rani ki vav is an intricately constructed stepwell that was built a memorial to an 11th century AD king Bhimdev I. Rani ki vav was built in a complex Maru-Gujara architecture style with an inverted temple and seven levels of stairs and holds more than 500 principal sculptures. Rani ki vav is an exceptional example of a distinctive form of subterranean water architecture of the Indian subcontinent. In June 2014 Rani ki vav was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) at Nalanda, Bihar:

Nalanda stands out as the most ancient university in the Indian subcontinent. It is engaged in the organized transmission of knowledge over 800 years. The site is located in the southeast of Patna near the town of Bihar Sharif. Nalanda has a large Buddhist monastery in the ancient kingdom of Magadha. The archaeological remains of the monastic and scholastic institutions dating from 3rd century BCE to the 13thcentury CE. The Archaeological site includes stupas, shrines, viharas (residential and educational buildings) and important artwork in stucco, stone, and metal. In 2016, the Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara was added in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

Khangchendzonga National Park:

Khangchendzonga National Park is the only Mixed Heritage site in India. In 2016 Khangchendzonga National Park becomes the first mixed Heritage site of India. It is a National Park and a Biosphere reserve located in Sikkim, India. The park gets its name from the mountain Kangchenjunga, which is the third highest peak in the world with a height of 8586 meters. There are many glaciers in the park including the Zemu glacier. Animals like musk deer, snow leopard, clouded leopard, and Himalayan tahr are founded in this park Khangchendzonga National Park includes a unique diversity of plains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and spectacular snow-capped mountains covered with ancient forests.

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an outstanding contribution to the Modern Movement:

Le Corbusier was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer and one to the pioneer of what is now called modern architecture. His career spanned five decades and he designed buildings in Europe, Japan, India, North and South America. The Architecture work of Le Corbusier, an outstanding contribution to the Modern Movement is a collection of 17 sites designed by the Le Corbusier. These sites demonstrate how modernism was applied to construction and shows the global range of style and architecture. In 2016, The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an outstanding contribution to the Modern Movement as added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

Historic City of Ahmadabad:

Ahmadabad has become India’s First World Heritage City after the UNESCO World Heritage Committee included it in its list on July 8, 2017, 41st session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow in Poland. It is the former capital of Gujarat. Ahmadabad was one of the three cities along with National Capital Delhi and Mumbai which was shortlisted for the title from India. Ahmadabad was also listed in Forbes list as the World's 3rd Fastest-Growing cites in the year 2010. There are around 36 structures protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. The walled city of Ahmadabad, founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah in the 15th century, on the eastern bank of the Sabarmati River, presents a rich architectural heritage from the sultanate period, notably the Bhadra citadel, the walls and gates of the Fort city and numerous mosques and tombs as well as important Hindu and Jain temples of later periods. The urban fabric is made up of densely-packed traditional houses (pols) in gated traditional streets (puras) with characteristic features such as bird feeders, public wells, and religious institutions. The city continued to flourish as the capital of the State of Gujarat for six centuries, up to the present.

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