Posted 17 November 2022

Fifteen UNESCO World Heritage sites in India you should visit at least once

Known for its potpourri of cultures and traditions, the Indian subcontinent draws travellers from around the world to explore its diversity. The diversity here is evident across all spheres, whether it's the variety of Indian languages or finger-licking Indian cuisine. Cultural heritage sites in India are however an excellent example of the unity in diversity approach India has adopted. Cultural sites in India offer the best glimpses into the past, as well as an unparalleled understanding of the nation's rich heritage.

In recognition of their historical and cultural importance, UNESCO has listed many cultural sites in India as world heritage sites. Intriguingly, India has the most World Heritage sites in the world, and tourists from all over the world come to explore this hidden gem. If you are also excited by the taste of culture, then what are you waiting for?

In fact, most of India's cultural sites such as the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, Nalanda, Ajanta Caves and more give us a taste of Indian culture at its very best. World heritage sites like these speak volumes about India's cultural past and the wide diversity that defines the Indian subcontinent. So, be a part of insightful cultural tourism to travel way beyond the exotic beaches and hill stations and know all about the rich Indian heritage.

Listed below are some of the UNESCO’S World Heritage Sites that you must explore once in a lifetime.

Are you curious to know more about UNESCO’S World Heritage Sites? Then, you are at the right place as we have covered everything to quench your thirst for knowing about these sites and make you excited to plan a trip to these renowned sites in India.

1. Sun Temple, Orissa

The Sun Temple in Orissa dates back to the 13th century and is located in the Konark region of Orissa. Decorated with an enormous chariot, stone wheels and architectural pillars, the Sun Temple as the name suggests is dedicated to the Sun God. The temple is a display of the magnificence of Orissa’s architectural styles and is said to be built by King Narashimadeva.

For its exemplary beauty and significance, the Sun Temple in Konark was regarded as UNESCO's World Heritage Site in 1984. Adding to the highlights of the cultural trip to Konark Temple is the neighbouring sun-kissed beaches and century-old temples that tourists cannot miss exploring.

  • Nearest airport: Biju Patnaik Airport
  • Address: Konark, Odisha 752111
  • Other places to visit in the region: Jagannath Temple, Puri Beach

2. Taj Mahal, Agra

Renowned as one of the seven wonders of the world, it is hard to put the beauty and charm of the Taj Mahal in words. The Taj Mahal is gracefully located at the banks of river Yamuna and is the epitome of the eternal love stories of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Apart from speaking about the timeless tales of love, the Taj Mahal also displays the beauty of Mughal architecture at its best.

Adorned with white marbles, the Taj Mahal in Agra has also been recognized as the ‘Jewel of Muslim Art in India’. The lush green gardens along with the views of the vivid sky provide a perfect setting to click innumerable pictures in the backdrop of the Taj Mahal.

  • Nearest airport: Agra Airport
  • Address: Dharmapuri, Forest Colony, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001
  • Other places to visit in the region: Mehtab Bagh, Agra Fort

3. Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra

This UNESCO’S World Heritage Site is on the bucket list of most of the travellers who are in the mood to explore the nooks and corners of Maharashtra. This site consists of 31 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments and was constructed during the Vakataka period and the Satavahana period. The sculptures here offer a great display of the life of Buddha and still have a great influence on Indian art and architecture. Do not miss the chance to explore the affectionate sibling of Ajanta Caves - the Ellora Caves.

  • Nearest airport: Aurangabad Airport
  • Address: Maharashtra 431117
  • Other places to visit in the region: Grishneshwar Temple, Ellora Caves

4. Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

Nestled amidst the mighty Vindhya ranges, Khajuraho is a must for all avid travellers who wish to get a taste of Indian culture. This is an ideal place for all those who are keen to take a sneak-peek into India's rich history and want to satiate their curious soul. The quaint city of Khajuraho is home to a plethora of temples that make the place a real treat for all spiritual seekers.

For its astounding beauty, glorious rock carvings and erotic sculptures, the temples of Khajuraho and the entire region on its whole have been deemed as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. Most of the temples including Chaturbhuj Temple, Kandariya Temple, Javari Temple, etc were built by Chandela kings.

  • Nearest airport: Khajuraho Airport
  • Address: Chattarpur, Madhya Pradesh, India
  • Other places to visit in the region: Ranah Waterfall, Panah National Park

5. Mahabodhi Temple, Bihar

Bodh Gaya in Bihar is one of the key spiritual destinations for all Buddhist followers. It is here where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment under the sacred Bodhi tree. Built during the time of Emperor Ashoka’s reign, Bodh Gaya draws the attention of herds of tourists from all over the world.

This UNESCO’s World Heritage Site is home to a 50 m high Buddha statue and several Buddhist temples where one can meditate and experience solace. This is where the quest for enlightenment gets a perfect closure.

  • Nearest airport: Gaya Airport
  • Address: Bodh Gaya, Bihar 824231
  • Other places to visit in the region: Rajgirh, Vishnupad Temple

6. Hampi, Karnataka

The former capital of the Vijayanagar empire, Hampi in Karnataka offers a perfect getaway from mundane and everyday life. Although mostly ruined, the monuments in Hampi provide a window to the glorious kingdom of Vijayanagar. For its elegant and unparalleled Dravidian styles, the ruins of Hampi which is collectively called the ‘Group of Monuments’ got the status of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in 1986.

From Virupaksha temple to Narasimha temple, Hampi is home to an array of temples. Adventure lovers can also indulge in thrilling rock-climbing activities during a trip to Hampi.

  • Nearest airport: Bellary Airport
  • Address: Vijayanagar District, Karnataka, India
  • Other places to visit in the region: Lotus Mahal, Hippie Island

7. Red Fort, Delhi

Just the mention of Red Fort is sure to paint a picture of the Indian flag being hoisted on 15th August by the honourable Prime Minister. Isn’t it? The Red Fort holds great significance in Indian history and the credit for the construction of this red sandstone building goes to the famed Mughal ruler, Shah Jahan.

It was built when Shah Jahan made a historic move and shifted the capital from Agra to Delhi and now the Red Fort has been a part of UNESCO’s World Heritage site. The best part about the Red Fort is that it is easily accessible from all parts of the capital city. Also, do not miss the chance to gorge on local delicacies such as aloo tikki, Daulat ki Chaat, etc during your visit.

  • Nearest airport: Indira Gandhi International Airport
  • Address: Netaji Subhash Marg, Lal Qila, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006
  • Other places to visit in the region:Humayun’s Tomb, Qutub Minar, Lotus Temple

8. Chola Temples, Tamil Nadu

A collection of Chola Temples in Tamil Nadu is a standout amongst all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of India. The Chola rulers during their time were quite famous for building magnificent temples and the Chola temples are a testimony to it. The Chola rulers made these temples their economic and political centre too. The temples are affectionately called the ‘Great Living Chola Temples’ and are indeed a perfect place to find the uniqueness of the Dravidian style of art and architecture.

  • Nearest airport: Chennai International Airport
  • Address: Tamil Nadu, India
  • Other places to visit in the region: Valisvara Temple, Moovar Koil

9. Elephanta Caves, Gharapuri

The Indian state of Maharashtra is adorned with yet another UNESCO’s World Heritage Site that travellers must consider visiting and it is none other than the glorious Elephanta Caves. Tucked away in the Gharapuri region of Maharashtra, the Elephant Caves are largely influenced by the Shaiva traditions. While some of the sculptures of Elephanta Caves are dedicated to Lord Shiva, there are others that are dedicated to Buddha. It also houses some of the Shiva temples and is a great site for curious and religious souls.

  • Nearest airport: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
  • Address: Gharapuri, Maharashtra 400094
  • Other places to visit in the region: Gateway of India, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus

10. Nalanda University, Bihar

Once a famous centre for Buddhist learnings, Nalanda University got the title of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site only in 2016. A stroll through the region can still offer you a glimpse of the Buddhist influences - the ruins of stupas, viharas and shrines are evident of the same. The importance of the learning space here was such that thousands of scholars from not only the different corners of India but even from Tibet, Korea, China came to Nalanda University to gain knowledge.

  • Nearest airport: Patna Airport
  • Address: Bihar, 803111
  • Other places to visit in the region: The Great Stupa, Jal Mandir

11. Mahabalipuram Monuments, Mahabalipuram

Nestled in the coastal town of Mahabalipuram, the Mahabalipuram Monument got the title of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in 1984. A short trip to this historical cum cultural site will take you through a collection of monuments that is certainly a display of architectural brilliance. These temples were built by the Pallavas with carved out rocks. The site consists of Arjuna Ratha, Draupadi Ratha, and many brilliantly built caves.

  • Nearest airport: Chennai International Airport
  • Address: Fisherman Colony, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104
  • Other places to visit in the region: Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram Beach

12. Kaziranga National Park, Assam

Renowned for its one-horned rhinoceros, the Kaziranga National Park in Assam is heaven for all wildlife lovers. Home to a plethora of exotic species, Kaziranga National Park is now included in the list of UNESCO’S World Heritage Sites. A few of the species that you can spot here at the Kaziranga National Park are wild boar, sloth bear, hog deer, Indian Muntjac and a lot more. Apart from this, views of the ethereal lakes and the dense flora and fauna of the place is a sight worth witnessing.

  • Nearest airport: Jorhat Airport
  • Address: Kanchanjuri, Assam 784177
  • Other places to visit in the region: Addabarie Tea Estate, Shillong

13. Qutub Minar, Delhi

Soaring at a height of 73 m, Qutub Minar in Delhi is the beacon of the Mughal empire. This magnificent monument is also the tallest tower of India and was constructed during the reign of Qutub Ud Din Aibak. This gleaming red sandstone minaret is a perfect display of Indo-Islamic Art. The ruins of the monuments here are collectively called the Qutub Minar Complex and exploring the different corners of Qutub Minar are no less than a delight for all the history buffs.

  • Nearest airport: Indira Gandhi National Airport
  • Address: Mehrauli, Delhi, India
  • Other places to visit in the region:Safdarjung Tomb, Akshardham Temple

14. Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh

Built by the great emperor Ashoka, Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh got the title of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in 1989. One can expect a great display of Buddhist influences in the stupas, shrines and monasteries - Sanchi Stupa being one of them. So, if you are keen to gather a lot of insights about the rich Buddhist culture, then Sanchi can be the place for you.

  • Nearest airport: Raja Bhoj Airport
  • Address: Madhya Pradesh, India
  • Other places to visit in the region: Udaygiri Caves, Sanchi Museum

15. Rani ki Vav, Gujarat

Located on the banks of the meandering Saraswati river, Rani ki Vav in Gujarat has been a part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site since 2014. This one of a kind stepwell was built during the Chalukya dynasty and is enriched with fascinating carvings. The well was as deep as 27 m and the interiors of it were embellished with flamboyant sculptures incorporating numerous Hindu themes. It is one of those places that can speak volumes about the past and quench the thirst of all our curious travellers.

  • Nearest airport: Ahmedabad Airport
  • Address: Mohan Nagar Society, Mohan Nagar Society, Patan, Gujarat 384265
  • Other places to visit in the region: Panchasara Jain Temple, Varana Temple

Having said so much about UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in India, we hope that you are already excited and intrigued to set your foot in these hidden places. So, wait no more and get in touch with us to help you with ensuring a hassle-free journey. Happy exploring!

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