Top 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India

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Are you a big fan of Bollywood movies depicting historical times like Jodha Akbar and Mughal-E-Azam? Do you fantasise being a King who ruled all over the world or a Queen famous for her exceptional beauty? Did you say YES? Undoubtedly, you’re a die-hard history buff, just like me! That’s why, this time around, I have come up with a list of top 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. Take a look!

1. Red Fort, New Delhi

UNESCO World Heritage Sites_Red Fort
Pedestrian Walkway to Red Fort | Photo Credit: Simranjit Singh

Built in the 17th century by Shahjahan, the fifth Mughal emperor, Red fort or Lal Quila is one of the most popular heritage sites of Delhi. Its 33m high red sandstone walls were built in 1638 to prevent the entry of the invaders. The complex houses many remarkable buildings like the Drum House, the Hall of Public Audience, the Pearl Mosque, Royal Baths, Palace of Colour and the white marble Hall of Public Audiences. Don’t miss the evening sound and light show which recreates events in India’s history associated with the fort.

Open: Daily, except Monday.

Timings: Sunrise to Sunset

Entrance Fee: Rs. 10 (Indians), Rs. 250 (Foreigners)

Photography Charges: Nil (Rs. 25 for video filming)

Sound & Light Shows: 6:00 p.m. onwards in English and Hindi

Ticket: Rs. 80 (adults), Rs. 30 (children)

Movies Shot: PK and Fanna

2. Taj Mahal, Agra

UNESCO World Heritage Sites_Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal | Photo Credit: Kiranjeet Kaur

The symbol of love for romantic souls, Taj Mahal is thronged by a huge number of national and international travellers all year round. Situated on the southern bank of the Yamuna river, it got the status of a World Heritage Site in 1983. It is regarded by many as a great example of quintessential Mughal architecture and is recognised as ‘the jewel of Muslim art in India.’ While adoring the beauty of the Taj Mahal, visitors should remember that smoking and eating is strictly prohibited inside the Taj Mahal premises.

Open: All days, except Friday.

Timings: Sunrise to Sunset

Entrance Fee: Rs. 750 (Foreigners), Rs. 510 (Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries), Rs. 20 (Indians), free entry for children (of both Indians & Foreigners) below 15 years of age.

Photography Charges: Nil (Rs. 25 for video filming)

Movies Shot: Youngistan, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, Tevar, Bunty Aur Babli

3. Rani ki Vav, Gujarat

UNESCO World Heritage Sites_Rani ki Vav
Rani ki Vav, Gujarat

Constructed in 11th century AD, Rani ki Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) is situated on the banks of the Saraswati River in the town of Patan. A magnificent seven storey stepwell, it is around 64m in length, 20m in width and 27m in depth. Built by King Bhimadeva’s wife, Queen Udayamati of Solanki dynasty, the stepwell will impress you with its eye-catching 1000 sculptures and intricate wall carvings.

Timings: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Entrance Fee: Rs. 5 (Indians) and USD 2 (Foreigners)

4. Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad

UNESCO World Heritage Sites_Ajanta Caves
Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad

The mesmerising Ajanta Caves were carved in two phases, the first phase was from the 2nd century BC and the second phase was during the 5th and 6th centuries AD of the Gupta period. There are 29 rock cut caves in horse-shoe shape, deriving their name from a nearby village named Ajanta located 12 km away. The ASI describes it as ‘the finest surviving example of Indian art, especially painting’ because of its figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales.

Open: All days, except Monday

Timings: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Entrance Fee: Rs. 10 (Citizens of India, SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries), Rs. 250 (Foreigners), free entry for children below 15 years of age.

5. Amer Fort, Jaipur

UNESCO World Heritage Sites_Amer Fort
Amer Fort, Jaipur

Located atop a hill and overlooking the Maota Lake, the magnificent Amber fort is distinguished by its serpentine staircases, cobbled pathways and Hindu-Muslim hybrid style of architecture. Dating back to the 17th century, this fort-palace complex will surely leave you spellbound with its in-house structures viz. Diwan e Aam, Sheesh Mahal and Sukh Niwas.

Open: Daily

Timings: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Entrance Fee: Rs. 25 (Indians), Rs. 200 (Foreigners)

Movies Shot: Jodha Akbar, Veer, Bol Bachan

Activities Not to Miss: Elephant Ride, Amber Evening Light Show, Shopping at Rajasthan Kala Mandir

6. Mahabalipuram, Chennai

UNESCO World Heritage Sites_Shore Temple
Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram

Located at a distance of about 58 km south of Chennai, Mahabalipuram is a historical town, also known as Mamallapuram. Inscribed as a cultural heritage under the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1984, it is renowned worldwide for its rock-cut and monolithic monuments, built by the Pallava kings in the 7th and 8th centuries. You’ll be left mesmerised by its chariot (rathas) temples, cave sanctuaries (mandapams), huge open-air reliefs like the 100 foot long ‘Descent of the Ganges’ and the Shore Temple with numerous glorious sculptures of Lord Shiva.

Timings: 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Entrance Fee: Rs. 10 (Indians and citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries), USD 5 (Foreigners), free entry for children below 15 years of age.

Movies Shot: The wedding scene of Krish and Ananya from the movie 2 States was shot at the Shore Temple.

7. Sun Temple, Konark

UNESCO World Heritage Sites_Sun Temple
Sun Temple, Konark

Also inscribed in 1984 as a World Heritage Site, the 13th century Sun Temple (also known as the Black Pagoda) is situated on the east coast of the Bay of Bengal. It is constructed in the form of the chariot of Surya, the sun god with 24 wheels which are opulently decorated with symbolic stone carvings and is headed by six horses.

Timings: Sunrise to Sunset

Entrance Fee: Rs. 10 (Indians and citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries), USD 5 (Foreigners), no entry fee for children below 15 years of age.

Event not to miss: Konark Dance Festival is held annually from 1st to 5th December at the Open Air Auditorium, Natamandir, near the Sun Temple.

While I’d like to think that being a history lover, you would have visited most of these heritage monuments, if you’ve not, NOW is the time!


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