Complete List of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in India

World Heritage Sites are the sites of immense cultural and natural significance that belong to whole world along with the location where it is situated. Currently, India has total 35 World Heritage Sites as listed by UNESCO and that makes India as one of the top countries with the largest number of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Have a look at the list of these UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and know what world appreciates the most about this incredible country- India:

1. Agra Fort, Uttar Pradesh

Agra Fort

Agra Fort is located nearby Taj Mahal. This fort also stands as a testimony to Mughal architecture. The architecture of Agra Fort is a blend of Persian and India architectural styles. Initially, it was commissioned as brick monument and used to be known as Badalgarh during the reign of Raja Badal Singh, a Hindu King. Followed by invasion, Sikander Lodi was the first king of Delhi who shifted to Agra and lived in fort. Agra Fort comprises of many monuments such as Khas Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Muhamman Burie, Diwan-I-Khas, Diwan-I-Aam, Nagina Masjid and Moti Masjid.

2. Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves are famous for Buddhist rock-cut cave monuments, intricate paintings and frescoes. The frescoes at Ajanta Caves are similar to Sigiriya Paintings. Ajanta Caves date back to 2nd century BCE to 650 CE. It consists of the finest masterpieces of 31 rock cut Buddhist cave monuments, sculptures and paintings. These caves were built in two phases- firstly during Satavahana Dynasty and secondly during Vakataka Dynasty. The architecture, art and style of Ajanta Caves made a revolutionary impact on Indian architecture and art. The carvings and sculptures are related to Buddha’s life mark the beginning of Indian classical art.

3. Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh

Rock shelters at Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh are very well known for its rock paintings, Stone Age inscriptions and sitting place of Bhima during Mahabharata.

Bhimbetka

These were recognized as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 2003. It is the same place where earliest traces of human life are found. Located at the foothills of Vindhaya Mountains in Deccan Plateau, Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are recognized as an archaeological site. It also indicates the beginning of South Asian Stone Age. Comprising of 5 rocks, these rock shelters were discovered in 1957 only. They are popular for beautiful carvings and intricate paintings dating back to Mesolithic era. The paintings depict the lifestyle and activities of hunter gatherers.

4. Bodh Gaya, Bihar

Mahabodhi Temple

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (96 kilometres distant from Patna) in Bihar is one of the World Heritage Sites listed by UNESCO. This site is also of immense religious significance as Mahatma Buddha attained enlightenment at this place. The Bodhi tree where Siddhartha became Gautam Buddha after enlightenment is a holy site. Mahabodhi Temple was established during the reign of Ashoka the Great during 250 BCE. The Mahabodhi Temple complex inculcates the 50 metres tall Mahabodhi Temple, Vajrasana, the holy Bodhi tree and six holy sites of enlightenment of Buddha. It is surrounded by many stupas. With all these factors, Bodh Gaya is referred as the most holy pilgrimage site for Buddhists.

5. Capitol Complex, Chandigarh

Capitol Complex

Architecture of Le Corbusier is huge contribution to modern development. His contribution has been recognized by UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites. The Capitol Complex in Chandigarh host legislative assembly for Haryana and Punjab, High Court and Secretariat. The monument is part of his outstanding work that he had done during first half of 20th century in 17 different countries. Capitol Complex in Chandigarh was built when Chandigarh was being built and developed as the capital of Punjab and Haryana in 1950.

6. Champaner- Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Gujarat

Champaner

Champaner- Pavagadh Archaeological Park in Gujarat is UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. It is located at Panchmahal in Gujarat. This site is located near Champaner or Muhammadabad City with immense historic and cultural significance. The site is the only unchanged Islamic pre-Mughal city. It includes 11 different kinds of heritage monuments such as mosques, gateways, fortresses, palaces, tombs, wells, custom houses, temples, walls and pavilions. All these belong to 16th century. The transition from Hindu architectural styles to Muslim architectural sites can be witnessed in this park.

7. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Chhatrapati

Earlier it was known as Victoria Terminus. It is also the headquarters of Central Railway in Mumbai. It was commissioned by Frederick William Stevens who was inspired from Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and Mughal architecture. It was built between 1878 and 1888. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is the perfect blend of ingenious and western architecture.

8. Churches & Convents, Goa

Church Goa

Famous churches of Goa- Basilica do Bom Jesus, Church and Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi, Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Church of Saint Augustine, Church of Saint Cajetan and its seminary, Igreja de São Francisco de Assis and Saint Catherine’s Chapel

 

During 15th and 16th century, Portuguese arrived at India and established at Goa. The established themselves along Konkan Coast in South-Western part of India. Portuguese brought Christian religion in Indian sub-continent. Thus, many churches and convents were established in Goa. These churches and convents present the beautiful architectural styles. As a result, these were included in World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

 

Architecture, sculptures and paintings in the form of Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art can be witnessed as exemplary form in churches of Goa. These churches were built by Portuguese colonial rulers in Old Goa region. Basilica of Bom Jesus is the most popular church in Goa where remnants of St. Francis Xavier were buried.

9. Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

Ellora caves are built from hills and rock-cut architecture. These are famous for Buddhist, Jain and Hindu temples and monasteries.

Ellora-Caves

Ellora Caves are located to Northwest of Aurangabad in the area of around 29 kilometres. It perfectly exemplifies the rock cut architecture of India. Around 34 rock cut temples and caves are there that date back to 600 and 1000 AD. The temples and caves indicate the lifestyle of that era. The site of Ellora Caves is amidst the Buddhist Hindu and Jain rock cut temples, Charanandri Hills, Maths of 5th and 10th century and Viharas.

10. Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra

Elephant Caves

Elephanta Caves are popular for Basal Rock Caves, Caves on Island in Arabian Sea and Shiva Temples. These caves are located on an island in Arabian Sea. On Elephanta Island, there is a chain of sculpted caves which is also known as Gharapuri. Numerous archaeological remains offer the glimpses of past. Their rock cut architecture, sculptures and carvings indicate Lord Shiva as the creator and destroyer of Universe. Cave 1 is one of the most important of all the caves as you can see Sadashiva at the entrance. Sadashiva depicts the three sides of Shiva as creator, preserves and the destroyer. Elephanta Caves are carved in solid basalt rock and are located at 10 kilometres distant to the East of Mumbai City.

11. Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh

Fatehpur Sikri

The name expresses the meaning victory (Fateh). Emperor Akbar triumphed the city over Chittor and Ranthambore. Fatehpur Sikri consists of four major monuments- Jama Masjid, Buland Darwaza (greatest door of Asia. It was built by special wood imported from Australia), Panch Mahal or Jada Baai ka Mahal (origin place of Navaratnas), Diwan-I-Aam and Diwan-I-Khas. Inside Buland Darwaza, there is a tomb of Salim Chishti. All these monuments collectively are the World Heritage Sites.

12. Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh

Great Himalayan National Park

Located in Kullu in Himachal Pradesh, Great Himalayan National Park is sprawled over 754.4 square kilometres area and is the recent addition to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. It is also a part of Himalayan Biodiversity Hotspots. The upper mountain snow melt and the glacial water melt of tributaries of Indus River is the major attraction of the park. Greta Himalayan National Park is also home to unique flora and fauna species, different species of animals like snow leopard, blue sheep, Himalayan Tahr, musk deer, vast alpine meadows and Himalayan brown bear.  Thick forests, beautiful glaciers and snowy peaks of 4,100 metres altitude add magnificent touch to its charm. Hunting in this national park is prohibited as it is also a wildlife conservation site.

13. Great Living Chola Temples, Tamil Nadu

Chola Temples

The Great Living Chola Temples include Airavatesvara Temple, Brihadisvara Temple, Darasuram, Gangaikondacholisvaram and Thanjavur. These temples are famous for its explicit Chola architecture, beautiful sculptures, paintings and bronze casting. These are major attractions in South India. These were built during Chola Empire. Of all the temples Airavatesvara Temple, Brihadisvara Temple and Gangaikonda Cholapuram temples are the most important temples. During the reign of Rajaraja 1, the Brihadisvara temple was built and is referred as the milestone of Chola architecture. The temple at Gangaikondacholapuram (dedicated to Lord Shiva) was constructed during the reign of Rajendera1. Later the Airavatesvara temple was built during the reign of Rajaraja II. It is quite different from other two temples and stand as testimony to architectural splendour and beauty of Chola style. The temples of Chola are fondly known as living temples as the rituals and traditions that were witnessed centuries ago are still performed. Thus, these temples portray the ancient Tamilian heritage and culture.

14. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Tamilnadu

The monuments at Mahabalipuram that are listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites include Pancha Rathas, Cave Temples of Mahabalipuram, Ganesha Ratha, Shore Temple, Olakkannesvara Temple and Descent of Ganges. These monuments are popular for the largest open air rock relief, chariot temples, mandapas and the architecture of Pallava Dynasty.

Mahabalipuram Temple

These temples are situated in Mahabalipuram town at a distance of 58 kilometres from Chennai. The temples were built during the reign of Pallava rulers. However, the striking feature of the temples is that they all are carved out of rock and is an important aspect of ratha architecture in India. Around 40 sanctuaries are included in the group of monument. These World Heritage Sites in India include the sites such as Arjun Rathas, Dharamaraja Ratha, Draupadi Ratha and Pancha Rathas etc. It also includes the Cave Temples of Mahabalipuram that constitute more than half a dozen caves.

15. Hampi, Karnataka

Hampi

Group of monuments at Hampi in Karnataka has been declared as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. Hampi is located in Northern Karnataka amidst the remains of ancient kingdom of Vijaynagar. The monuments present the Dravidian architecture. Virupaksha Temple is one of the most important religious sites for Hindus. Many other heritage monuments with this temple are collectively called ‘Group of Monuments at Hampi’. The other monuments are Krishna Temple, Achyutaraya Temple, Pattabhirama Temple, Narasimha & Ganesha Group of Temples and Lotus Mahal Complex. The other sites such as bazaars, living quarters and residential complexes surrounding the temple are also included.

16. Hill Forts of Rajasthan

Rajasthan

Amber Fort, Chittorgarh Fort, Gagron Fort, Jaisalmer Fort, Kumbhalgarh Fort and Ranthambore Fort are collectively the UNESCO’s World heritage Sites. These forts portray the Rajput Military Defense Architecture. These forts are located on Aravali Mountain Ranges in Rajasthan. The expanses of these forts depict the power, strength and royalty of Rajputana rulers. The fortifications of the forts are quite strong and it seemed that a different city existed within these walls. The markets, temples, palaces and trading centres used to exist inside the huge complex of these forts. The forts are also famous for their water storage and harvesting system. Many Bollywood and Hollywood flicks are shot at these forts.

17. Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi

Humayun's Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb is best known for its architecture. This World Heritage Site was built by Begum Bega who was the first wife of Humayun. Since its commissioning, it has been undergone restoration work many a times. The monument consists of tomb of Humayun, a pavilion and a bath.

18. Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, Rajasthan

Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar was commissioned by Rajput King Sawai Jai Singh in 1738 CE. It is an astronomical observatory with 19 astronomical instruments. It also includes the world’s largest stone sundial. All of these instruments are man-made. The instruments in this observatory were used for the calculations of celestial co-ordinate system, equatorial system, ecliptic system and horizon-zenith local system. It is considered as one of the finest preserved observatories. It largely exemplifies the scientific and cultural heritage of India.

19. Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam

Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary is the home to world’s 2/3rd population of great one-horned rhinoceroses along with the highest density of tigers in the world. You can also spot elephants, swamp deer, wild water buffalo and some rare species of birds.

Kaziranga National Park

Located in Assam, Kaziranga National Park is one of the less explored natural habitants in India. It is recognized as one of the World Heritage Sites in India. The project was started by Lord Curzon. It is said that his visited Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary but during her visit she could not spot a single rhinoceros so she asked her husband to take some step to protect this endangered species. This wildlife sanctuary is nestled along the flood plains of River Brahmaputra. The dense forests, grasslands and numerous lakes and water streams make it a natural haven. It is home to around 15 natural endangered animal species. Of all the species, rhino is the most endangered one. Other species include tiger, leopard, langur, water buffalo, boar, sambar, deer and more.

20. Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan

Keoladeo National Park

The man-made wetland bird sanctuary and Siberian Cranes make Keoladeo National Park a hotspot for Ornithologists. Located in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, it is also known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. It is home to more than 350 species of birds. It is also popular for many non-indigenous and migratory birds. It was developed as man-made and man-managed place which is sprawled over 29 square kilometres. Hunting is a punishable offence in this region. Along with birds, you may many other animal and floral species such as fishes, snakes, lizards, amphibians, turtles and invertebrates. Keoladeo National Park is a perfect gesture of biological heritage in India.

21. Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

Khajuraho

Khajuraho is located in Madhya Pradesh state and is one of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. The location is popular for the group of Hindu and Jain temples that are located at 175 kilometres distant in the South- East of Jhansi. Khajuraho is very well known for erotic scultures and figures and Nagara style symbolism. The stone carvings and sculptures in human and animal form are the testimony to rich heritage of India. Construction of these monuments dates back to 950 to 1050 CE during the reign of Chandella dynasty. Around 85 temples over 20 square kilometres area is an amazing sight. Kandariya Temple is one of the most prominent temples of Khajuraho complex.

22. Khangchendzonga National Park, Sikkim

Sikkim

Khangchendzonga National Park is located in North-East region of India. It was recently listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. It is sprawled over 850 square kilometres and is located at an elevation of 1,829 metres to 8,500 metres above sea level. Kanchenjunga Peak, the 3rd highest peak in the world is also included in this national park. It is also famous for flora and fauna where snow leopard can be spotted sometimes. This national park has also some trekking routes for adventure enthusiasts.

23. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is quite popular for Project Tiger Reserve, Biosphere Reserve, Elephant Reserve, Pygmy Hog, Assam Roofed Turtle, Golden Langur and Hispid Hare. Located in Assam, it is one of the World Heritage Sites in India. It was named after River Manas. The dense forests, unique vegetation in the surrounding areas offer natural habitat to many endangered species in this region. It is a very well known fact that Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is home to most endangered species as compared to rest of India.

24. Mountain Railways of India

Mountain Railways of India

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway and Kalka Shimla Railway are the mountain railways of India. These railways collectively have been recognized as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. North Bengal offers the most delightful sights such as Fun Toy Train, Tea Plantations and long tunnels. These mountain railways of India are the engineering marvels connecting the rugged mountains with people and thus added as a gem in heritage of India. Passing through the most beautiful trail, these mountain railways take you on the most romantic and fun ride.

25. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand is one of the World Heritage Sites where you can spot Asiatic Black Bear, Blue Sheep, Brown Bear, Himalayan Monal and the huge network of Biosphere Reserves.

Valley of Flowers

Nanda Devi is the highest mountain peak in Uttarakhand. Nanda Devi mountain peak is popular since the times of Puranas and Upanishads. It is at an elevation of 6,400 metres above sea level.

 

Valley of Flowers is a national park located near Nanda Devi peak. It is stretched over 8 kilometres in length and 2 kilometres in width. The varieties of flowers are spread like a bed sheet over the entire valley. Valley of Flowers is home to varieties of flora and fauna.

26. Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University), Bihar

Nalanda Mahavihara

Nalanda Archaeological Site used to be the centre for learning from 3rd century BCE to 13th century CE. Strolling around the campus, you may witness the remains of shrines, stupas and viharas that boast of its glory. Nalanda was an epicentre for evolution of Buddhism religion and also used to be an abode of Knowledge for 8 centuries. Nalanda Mahavihara or Nalanda University was also the first residential university of the world and scholars from far flung areas and countries came here for Vedic learning. It is the second World Heritage Site recognized by UNESCO in Bihar itself and thus making it more prominent on tourism map of India.

27. Pattadakal, Karnataka

Pattadakal Karnataka

A group of monuments at Pattadakal in Karnataka is one of the major tourist attractions and UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. These monuments are famous for its Chalukya architecture. Chalukya architecture was originated in Aihole and was later blended with Dravidian and Nagara architecture. Pattadakal is the site where all the kings of Chalukya dynasty were coronated. Pattadakal also served as the capital for Chalukyas. You may find many temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Jain and Shaivite. The popular monuments at Pattadakal are Kashivishwanaath Temple, Chandrashekhara Temple, Virupaksha Temple,  Galganath Temple, Sangameshwara Temple, Jain Temple and more.

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28. Qutub Minar Complex, New Delhi

Built in 1193, Qutub Minar in New Delhi has been recognized as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. It was commissioned by the first Muslim ruler Qutub-ud-din Aibak of Mamluk Dynasty. Qutub Minar is one of the buildings in Qutub Complex but it is given the most recognition due to its height. With 73 metres height, 15 metres diameter at base and 2.5 metres diameter at top, it catches the eyes of visitors. This monument was built by Aibak in the honour of Sufi Saint Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki.

Qutub Minar

Near Qutub Minar, there is Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. The mosque was built on the ruins of Lal Kot that belonged to previous Hindu Kingdom. It was the one of the first mosques in the country. Qutub Minar is famous for the brick minarets surrounding it. Together, these monuments reflect the Islamic architecture.

29. Rani Ki Vav, Patan, Gujarat

Rani Ki Vav Gujarat

Testimony to ancient Indian architecture, Rani Ki Vav was built in 3rd millennium BC. It was built by queen Udayamati in the memory of his husband Bhimdev1. It was only 2014 only, when Rani Ki Vav was recognized as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. The step-well, corridors, intricate carvings and sculptures make it an amazing architectural sight. Rani Ki Vav is structured in the form of an inverted temple with seven levels of wells. Each level is of immense religious and mythological significance.

30. Red Fort Complex, Delhi

Red Fort Complex Delhi

Known for Indian, Persian, Shahjahanbad and Timuri architecture, Red Fort Complex is made up of red sandstone. Red Fort is situated in the centre of historic New Delhi. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan at the time when he made Delhi as the capital. Delhi at that time was known as Shahjahanbad. It became the political hub for Mughals. Mughal art and architecture reached the heights exemplifying the Mughal architecture. You can easily spot the blend Indo-Islamic, Hindu, Persian and Timurid architectural styles. It is made up of red sandstone comprising of houses like private pavallions, Diwan-I-Aaam and Diwan-I-Khas. Red Fort Complex in Delhi is one of the most popular UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in India. It is directly taken care by Archaeological Survey of India.

31. Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh

Sanchi Stupa

Buddhist monuments at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh are famous for palaces, monasteries, monolithic pillars, Mauryan architecture and Ye Dharma Hetu inscriptions. They are formed of the oldest stone structures in India and are collectively listed in World heritage Sites by UNESCO. Sanchi Stupa was built by Emperor Ashoka in 3rd century BCE. It was located at a distance of 46 kilometres in the North- East of Bhopal. The core of Sanchi Stupa is a hemispherical structure built of brick over the remains of Buddha and was then crowned by Chatra that depicts the rank. During 2nd century BCE, the stupa was vandalized and was then renovated during Satavahana Period. It was the period when gateways and barriers were constructed and coloured. Along with Sanchi Stupa, there are other sites or structures that exist here such as temples, palaces, pillars and monasteries. Sanchi Stupa used to be the main pilgrimage site for Buddhist people until 12th century AD. Later, the religion witness the decrease in popularity.

32. Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha

Sun Temple

Konark is not much distant from Puri- the beach town in Odisha. The temple dates back to 13th century. This temple was built by king Narasimhadeva I who belonged to Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is exquisitely built in the shape of chariot with carved stone wheel, walls and pillars. It is then led by 6 carved horses. Sun Temple at Konark is also referred as one of the largest Brahmin sanctuaries. This temple was originally built at the mouth of Chandrabhaga River. This World Heritage Site is the reflection of Kalinga architecture.

33. Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal

Sundarbans National Park is a biosphere reserve in West Bengal and is exquisitely famous for the largest mangrove forests, Bengal Tiger and Salt Water Crocodile.

Sundarbans

It is a famous tiger reserve and a biosphere reserve. The Sundarban Deltas are formed by Rive Ganges in Bay of Bengal. It is one of the largest tiger reserves covered with thick mangrove forests.  It is also home to endangered animal species- the Royal Bengal Tiger. You can also spot other species of animals such as dear, wild boar, mammal, and amphibian and gangetic dolphin. After Royal Bengal Tiger, Sundarbans National Park is also home to rare salt water crocodile. Tiger population is maximum in this reserve. Many tigers have also been labelled as man-eaters due to frequent contact with local inhabitant.

34. Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh

Taj Mahal

Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is made up of White Marble and perfectly exemplifies the Mughal architecture. Located at the banks of Yamuna River in Agra, Taj Mahal took around 22 years for completion. It is also known as ‘Jewel of Muslim Art in India’. This monument is the most widely recognized as heritage of India.

35. Western Ghats

Western Ghats

Western Ghats is listed among the top ten hotspots for the hottest biodiversity all over the world. Western Ghats include many national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests. Western Ghats or Sahyadri mountain ranges are nestled along the western coast of Indian Peninsula. The mountain ranges of Western Ghats run across from North to South along Western edge of Deccan Plateau. Constituting a large number of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, biospheres and reserve forests in different states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, Western Ghats are a treat to eyes. The hills are sprawled over 1,60,000 square kilometres (1600 kilometres long, 100 kilometres wide and 1200 metres high). High bio-diversity of Western Ghats places it at 8th position among World’s Biological Hot Spot Locations. The forests lie along Western Ghats and are home to a large number of flora and fauna species.