6 UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites In India

Let’s take you on a journey to some lesser-known heritage sites that’ll have you backpacking through the winding lanes and dust-layered paths of our rich and relatively unknown history.

By Kannalmozhi Kabilan


6 UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites In India

1. Rani ki Vav (The Queen’s Well) 

6 UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites In India

Rani Ki Vav is one of the best examples of the long tradition of step wells of ancient India. Built over seven levels in the form of an inverted temple, the structure was not only employed to reserve water but also to underscore the sanctity of the resource. Intricately-carved religious, mythological and secular sculptures adorn every surface of the well. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 2014.

Where: Patan, Gujarat

Nearest airport: Ahmedabad

Nearest railway station: Mehsana, connected to all major cities of Gujarat

2. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal

6 UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites In India

This is the oldest surviving temple group from the Chalukya kingdom. The group of temples beautifully infuses northern and southern styles of architecture, drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources. They mark the beginning of structural temples. The shrines and sanctuaries are symbolic of the Dravidian, Rekha, Prasada and Nagara styles of construction. The temples joined the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1987.

Where: Bijapur, Karnataka

Nearest airport: Belgaum

Nearest railway station: Badami, connected to all major cities of Karnataka

3. Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi

6 UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites In India

Dated between the 2nd and 1st century BC, the group of monuments at Sanchi makes up the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in history. The ‘Great Stupa’ is the oldest of the structures and is also the most well-preserved. Commissioned by Asoka the Great, the hemispherical dome was first built with bricks and then overlaid with stone during its expansion thus making it twice its original size. Symbols, motifs and ornamental depictions furnish the entire structure. The monuments were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1989.

Where: Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh

Nearest airport: Bhopal

Nearest railway station: Bhopal, connected to all major cities of Madhya Pradesh

4. Champaner-Pavagadh archaeological park

6 UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites In India

An assortment of forts, palaces, halls of worship, city blocks, agricultural and water reservation facilities, most of which still remain unexplored and unexcavated, make up the Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park. They can be dated from the 8th to the 16th century AD. There is also evidence of occupation during the Chalcolithic (the period that gave way to bronze) period in this site. It houses a pre-Mughal Islamic city that has remained unchanged. The Kalika Mata Temple and the Jama Masjid are two of the most popular attractions of this place. This park was added to the ranks of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2004.

Where: Champaner, Gujarat

Nearest airport: Vadodara

Nearest railway station: Vadodara, connected to all major cities of Gujarat

5. Bhimbetka rock shelters

6 UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites In India

700 rock shelters grouped in five large clusters at the southern edge of the Vindhyan Mountain Range made it to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2003. The paintings found in nearly 400 of them are the reason behind it. These paintings go as far back as the Mesolithic period. The type of carvings and the tools believed to have been employed here explain the lifestyles of civilisation from the Palaeolithic period, right up to the medieval period. The paintings showcase a range of animals and battle scenes in abundance.

Where: Bhojpur, Raisen, Madhya Pradesh

Nearest airport: Bhopal 

Nearest railway station: Bhopal, connected to all major cities of Madhya Pradesh

6. Mahabodhi Temple complex

6 UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites In India

Commissioned by Emperor Asoka, the site of the Mahabodhi temple is believed to have been the place where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. Built entirely using brick, this is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in India. The first temple was built in the 3rd century BC. The complex houses other temples which were added in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. The Bodhi tree (also known as peepal tree) in the complex is believed to be a direct offspring of the one under which Buddha sat to meditate. The temple complex was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2002.

Where: Bodhgaya, Bihar

Nearest airport: Gaya

Nearest railway station: Gaya, connected to all major cities of Bihar 

UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites in India

  • Agra Fort, Uttar Pradesh
  • Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), Maharashtra
  • Churches and Convents, Goa
  • Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra
  • Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
  • Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh
  • Great Living Chola Temples, Tamil Nadu
  • Group of Monuments at Hampi, Karnataka
  • Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
  • Hill Forts, Rajasthan
  • Humayun's Tomb, Delhi
  • Khajuraho Group of Monuments, Madhya Pradesh
  • Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi
  • Red Fort Complex, Delhi
  • Sun Temple, Konark
  • Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh
  • The Jantar Mantar, Rajasthan
  • Mountain Railways of India

What are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get set on a heritage journey with your child to explore the diverse cultural history of our nation. 

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