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A UNESCO World Heritage Site may be defined as a specific site (forests, mountain range, lake, desert, building, complex or city) which is nominated for the World Heritage Program administered by UNESCO. These are outstanding sites which UNESCO aims to preserve for the future and for which funds are released and technical expertise is provided. India is home to 27 World Heritage Sites that include interesting caves, magnificent forts and monuments, well-maintained wildlife parks and some other important heritage properties.

Caves Forts and Monuments Wildife Temples Others

Caves

Ajanta CavesAjanta Cave
Location : Aurangabad District, Maharashtra
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1983
Description : Situated in the state of Maharashtra, the Buddhist caves at Ajanta is home to some of ancient India's most magnificent paintings. Considered as masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, the paintings and sculptures of Ajanta Caves relate to the life and times of Lord Buddha. You can see 29 caves here which were inhabited around 200 B.C and abandoned in 650 A.D.

Ellora Caves
Ellora CaveLocation : Aurangabad District, Maharashtra
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1983
Description : Constructed between 600 A.D to 1,000 A.D, the Ellora Caves brings the ancient Indian civilization to life. Here, you can see 34 monasteries and temples sprawling over an area more than 2 km which were dug side-by-side on the wall of a high basalt cliff. Apart from its unique artistic creation and technological excellence, the Ellora Caves are known for its sanctuaries devoted to three religions - Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Elephanta Caves
Location : Kolaba District (Island of Elephanta), Maharashtra
Elephanta Cave Declared World Heritage Site In : 1987
Description : The Elephanta Caves are located on Elephanta island in Oman Sea just 9 kms away from Mumbai. For Elephanta Caves you have to take boat ride from Gateway of India, Mumbai. Rock-cut temples are the principle attraction of Elephanta Caves. Believed to be carved out between the years 450 A.D and 750 A.D, the Elephanta Caves have carvings depicting Lord Shiva, his marriage to Parvati, the killing of Andhakasura and the six-metre-high triple-headed Trimurti etc.

Forts and Monuments

Red Fort
Red FortLocation : Delhi
Declared World Heritage Site In : 2007
Description :One of the jewells of Mughal architecture, Red Fort has been declared World Heritage Site in 2007. Mughal Emepror Shah Jahan started the construction of this fort in 1638 and was given the final touch in 1648.A red sandstone monument, Red Fort houses a number of interesting structures namely Diwan - I - Khas, Diwan - I Aam, Rang Mahal, Khas Mahal, Moti Masjid etc.

Agra Fort
Agra FortLocation : Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1983
Description : Agra Fort, the 16th century imposing Mughal monument lies just one km away from the world famous Taj Mahal. The red sandstone monument built by Emperor Akbar, speaks of the splendour of Mughal architecture. Visit the imperial city of the Mughal rulers and see several fairy-tale palaces such as the Jehangir Palace, Khas Mahal and other notable buildlings like Diwan-I-Khas, Diwan - I- Aam, Moti Masjid etc.

Fatehpur Sikri
Fatehpur SikriLocation : 40 kms south - west of Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1986
Description : Constructed by Emperor Akbar in 1569, Fatehpur Sikri remained the capital of the Mughal Empire for less than 15 years. Also referred to as the 'deserted city', Fatehpur Sikri is now the complex of monuments including Jama Masjid, one the biggest mosques in India. In addition to Jama Masjid, you can see other magnificent monuments like Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, Panch House, Panch Mahal, Buland Darwaza and tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti.

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal - AgraLocation : Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1983
Description : One of the seven wonders of the world, Taj Mahal stands as a symbol of eternal love along the banks of river Yamuna. A beautiful white marble mausoleum, Taj Mahal was built between 1631 and 1648 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Today, Taj Mahal is the jewel of the Muslim art in India and one the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage.

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram
Temple - Mahabalipuram Location : Chingleput District, Tamil Nadu
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1984
Description : The group of monuments at Mahabalipuram were founded by the Pallava kings between 630 A. D and 800 A.D. Carved out of rock along the Coromandel coast, these monuments are known for rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries), giant open- air reliefs like the famous 'Descent of the Ganges', the temple of Rivage and thousands of sculptures dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Group of Monuments at Khajuraho
Khajuraho ArtLocation : Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1986
Description :Built between 950 A.D and 1050 A.D by the Chandela rulers, the Khajuraho group of monuments are considered as the fantastic example of early medieval period art form. The sensual and erotic art forms in Khajuraho temples strike a perfect balance between architecture and sculpture. Originally, there were around 85 temples, but now only 22 temples remain which have been categorized into three distinct groups such as Southern, Western and Eastern and belong to two different religions - Hinduism and Jainism.

Group of Monuments at Hampi
Hampi Monuments Location : Bellary District, Karnataka
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1986
Description : Hampi, the last capital of great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar houses some of the finest temples and monuments of world. Constructed between the 14th and 16th centuries, the group of monuments at Hampi are considered as masterpieces of Dravidian style of architecture. In the year 1565, the city was conquered by the Deccan Muslim and later it was abandoned.

Group of Monuments at Pattadakal
Location :Pattadakal Monument Bijapur District, Karnataka
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1987
Description : Pattadakal in Karnataka is home to an impressive series of monuments including nine Hindu temples as well as a Jain Sanctuary. The group of monuments showcases the splendid art forms of the 7th and 8th centuries under the Chalukya dynasty. Among the group of monuments, the Virupaksha temple built in 740 A.D by Queen Lokamahadevi is considered the best. Virupaksha temple was constructed by the Queen to commemorate her husband's victory over the kings from the South.

Buddhist Monastery at Sanchi
Location : 40 kms away from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
Sanchi Buddhist Stupta Declared World Heritage Site In : 1989
Description : 40 kms away from Bhopal, the site of Sanchi houses a group of Buddhist monuments perched atop a hill overlooking the plain. Construction of Sanchi Stupas were started by Emperor Ashoka between 272 B.C and 237 B.C, but surprisingly the construction completed by 12th century. Sanchi is the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in existence, here you can see monolithic pillars, palaces, temples and monasteries displaying the unique Buddhist architecture of that period.

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi
Location : Delhi
Humayun Tomb - DelhiDeclared World Heritage Site In : 1993
Description : A masterpiece of Mughal architectural style, the Humayun's Tomb was built in 1570 by Haji Begum, wife of Humayun. Humayun's Tomb is of particular importance as it was the first garden-tomb in the Indian subcontinent. Built of red and white sandstone and black and yellow marble, this wonderful tomb is surrounded by beautifully laid gardens. Interestingly after its construction Humayun's Tomb inspired several other architectural innovations including the Taj Mahal.

Qutab Minar and its Monuments, Delhi
Location : Delhi
Qutub Minar - DelhiDeclared World Heritage Site In : 1993
Description : Qutab Minar, the imposing tower soaring to a height of 72.5 mts is the tallest stone tower of India. One of the finest Islamic monuments of the country, Qutab Minar was built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak after his victory over the Delhi's last Hindu kingdom. Situated just few kilometres south of Delhi, the tower tapers from 2.75 mts in diameter at its peak to 14.32 mts at its base and it has alternating angular and rounded flutings. In addition to Qutab Minar, you can see other notable monuments like massive Alai Darwaza, two mosques including the famous Quwwatul Islam mosque.

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka
Location : Madhya Pradesh
Rock Shelters - BhimtekaDeclared World Heritage Site In : 2003
Description : The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are situated in the foothills of the Vindhya mountain ranges. Bhimbetka is the very place where earliest known traces of human life in India were discovered. Within the massive sandstone outcrops lies five clusters of natural rock shelters, displaying paintings dating back to some 9000 years. In the rock paintings, you can see the cultural traditions of the inhabitants of 21 villages adjacent to the site.

Wildlife

Kaziranga National Park
One Horned Rhino - Kaziranga National ParkLocation : Assam
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1985
Description : Situated in the heart of Assam, Kaziranga National Park is home to the largest population of one-horned rhinoceros in the world. Undisturbed by human presence, Kaziranga is a place where nature could be seen in its most unadulterated form. In addition to rhinoceros, you can spot other wildanimals like tigers, elephants, panthers, bears and thousand of avian species.

Manas National Park
Elephant - Manas Wildlife SanctuaryLocation : Assam
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1985
Description : Sprawling over a gentle slope in the foothills of the Himalayas, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is the place where wooded hills give way to alluvial grasslands and tropical forests. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary provides shelter to a variety of wild animals such as rhinoceros, tigers, pygmy hogs, elephants including many endangered species. Considered as a bio-diversity hotspot, Manas was designated as a world heritage site in 1985.

Keoladeo Ghana National Park
Migratory Bird - Keoladeo Ghana National Park Location : 55 kms west of Agra, Bharatpur, Rajasthan
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1985
Description : Formerly a duck-hunting reserve of the Maharajas, Keoldeo Ghana National Park now houses highest number of avian species in the world. Here, you can see more than 400 bird species including some rare and endangered species like Siberian crane. Every year, during winter large number of migratory birds come to the park from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China, Siberia and many other countries.

Sunderbans Tiger Reserve
Tiger - Sundervan Tiger ReserveLocation : West Bengal
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1987
Description :112 kms south of Kolkata, Sunderbans Tiger Reserve is world's largest delta formed by Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers. Spreading over an area of 10,000 sq. kms of land and water, Sunderbans is home to a huge tiger population and also has the largest Mangrove forest cover in the world. Apart from these, you can see several endangered species in this park including large number of aquatic mammals, birds and reptiles.

Nanda Devi National Park
Snow LeopardLocation : Uttaranchal
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1988
Description : Situated in the Garhwal Himalayas, Nanda Devi National Park boasts of a unique climate and a distinctive flora and fauna. Some of the peculiar climatic features are strong winds, daily drizzle and regular heavy snowfall. Notable wild animals which you can spot here include snow leopard, musk deer, Himalayan black bear and snow partridge.

Temples

Sun Temple, Konark
Konark Sun TempleLocation : Puri District, Orissa
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1984
Description : Perched on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, the Sun Temple of Konark is an excellent example of innovative and symbolic architecture of medieval period. Built in the 13th century, this temple is one of India's most popular Brahman sanctuaries. Dedicated to Sun Goa, Konark temple was constructed in the form of a massive chariot fitted with 24 wheels and it was pulled by seven horses.

Brihadisvara Temple / Great Living Chola Temples
Brihadishwara TempleLocation : Thanjavur
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1987
Description : Built between 985 A.D and 1012 A.D, the Brihadisvara Temple of Thanjavur is a fine example of the brilliant architecture of early medieval period. Later, in the 11th and 12th century two Great Living Chola Temples were added to Brihadisvara temple. Constructed by the kings of the Chola Empire, the Great Living Chola Temples were stretched over South India and the nearby islands. Now, the site houses the three great 11th and 12th century Chola Temples, the Brihadisvara temple of Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram.

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodhgaya
Mahabodhi TempleLocation : Bodhgaya, Bihar
Declared World Heritage Site In : 2002
Description : The Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodhgaya, is one of the four holy sites related to the life of Lord Buddha. Built by Emperor Ashoka, Mahabodhi Temple Complex is the places where Lord Buddha had attained enlightenment. The first temple in this complex was constructed by Ashoka in the 3srd century B.C. and the present existing temples date back to 5th or 6th centuries.

Other World Heritage Properties

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Darjeeling TrainLocation : Darjeeling, West Bengal
Given World Heritage Status in : 2002
Description : Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the narrow-gauge toy train running from New Jalpaiguri Railway Station to Darjeeling is the only of its kind in the world. Opened in the year 1881, the challenging route laid through hilly terrain is a fine example of modern railway engineering.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Station
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminul Station Location : Mumbai, Maharashtra
Given World Heritage Status in : 2004
Description : Earlier known as Victoria Terminus, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Station is the main railway station of Maharashtra's capital, Mumbai. A wonderful example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, the building also has the elements derived from traditional Indian palace architecture. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Station was inaugurated in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Made of local red sandstone, the building comprises remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches etc.

Champaner - Pavagadh Archaeological Park
Champaner  Pavagadh Archaeological ParkLocation : Panchmahal District, Gujarat
Given World Heritage Status in : 2004
Description : In Panchmahal District of Gujarat, there is a collection of largely unexcavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties. Here, you will see fortifications, palaces, religious buildings, residential precincts, agricultural structures and water installations dating back to the 8th and the 14th centuries. The Kalikamata Temple situated atop the Padagadh Hill is an important shrine which attracts large number of pilgrims all through the year.

Churches and Convents of Goa
Se Cathedral - GoaLocation : Goa
Given World Heritage Status in : 1986
Description : Built several centuries ago by the Portuguese rulers, the Churches and Convents of Goa are known for their unique architectural style. Some of the popular Churches and Convents of Goa include Basilica de Bom Jesus, Church of Lady Rosary, Se Cathedral, Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi.


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