Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Famous Places India by UNESCO India

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines famous places India as world heritage sites. These include places both culturally and naturally beautiful and famous. These sites and monuments in India are listed as ‘World Heritage Sites’. These heratage sites are considered of exceptional interest and universal value, and measures are taken for the protection of these treasures so that future generations can experience their beauty.

Currently, 812 cultural and natural wonders around the world have been given the status of ‘World Heritage Sites’ by UNESCO India. India has been an active member State of the World Heritage since 1977. Today, there are 27 famous places India that have been given the title of World Hertage Properties. Out of these, 22 are Cultural Properties and 5 are Natural Properties. Here is a list of them with a few details.

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1. Ajanta Caves - The Ajanta Caves are situated at a distance of 107 kms north of Aurangabad, Maharashtra. This Unesco India heritage monument consists of a total of 30 excavations that were hewn out of rock. Out of these, five are chaityagrihas and the rest are viharas (halls). Some caves have paintings on the walls. These caves can be dated back to the pre-Christian era, the earliest among them being Cave 10 dating from 2 B.C.

2. Ellora Caves - Locally known as ‘Verul Leni’, the Ellora Caves are located on the Aurangabad-Chalisgaon road in Maharashtra. The caves are one of the largest rock-hewn monastic-temple monuments India and the entire world. This monument is renowned for the largest single monolithic excavation in the world, the great Kailasa. Ellora consists of nearly 100 caves, which are dateable from 6 - 7 A.D. to 11 - 12 A.D.

3. Agra Fort – Situated on the right bank of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra in Uttar Prades, the Agra Fort remains one of the most robustly built strongholds of the Mughal Emperors. This monument is one of the famous places India. It is spread over an area of about 94 acres and consists of around twenty-four richly embellished monuments. Akbar, the third Mughal emperor, renovated the Agra Fort with red sandstone during his reign and built many new buildings.

4. Taj Mahal, Agra - This mausoleum is located on the right bank of the river Yamuna in Agra. The Taj Mahal has some beautiful specimens of polychrome inlay art on the interior and exterior of the building. It was built in 1648 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his queen Arjumand Bano Begum, also known as ‘Mumtaz Mahal’. What’s more, this UNESCO heritage monument India, one of the major attractions of the country, is also one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

5. Konark - Sun Temple – This temple is located in the town of Konark, Orissa. It was constructed in the thirteenth century and is dedicated to the Sun God. The Sun Temple is one of the main famous places of India. It is built in the shape of a huge solar chariot with twelve pairs of exquisitely ornamented wheels pulled by seven rearing horses. The temple comprises a sanctum with a tall shikhara, a jagamohana and a detached hall of dance, besides numerous smaller shrines.

6. Mahabalipuram – This is the site of nine monolithic temples located on Mamallapuram beach in the southern State of Tamil Nadu. The most important of these temples are the ‘Five Rathas’, which have been named after the five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata. The Shore Temple is another renowned temple at this site. These monuments have been carved out of a single rock in between AD 600-700.

7. Churches of Old Goa – Located in Old Goa, in the State of Goa, these Roman Catholic churches and convents were built in the 16th and 17th centuries by the Portuguese. They comprise the Se' Cathedral, Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, Chapel of St. Catherine, Basilica of Bom Jesus; Church of Lady of Rosary; Church of St. Augustine and the Church of St.Cajetan. These churches are constructed in a blend of Ionic, Doric and Corinthian styles and are one of the biggest attractions of India when it comes to monuments.

8. Khajuraho – This city in Madhya Pradesh houses the ancient Khajuraho temples, which were built by the Chandella rulers in the 10th and 11th century. Local tradition lists as many as eighty-five temples at the site, however, today, only twenty-five temples stand. All the temples are included in the list of world heritage sites of Unesco India. The temples of Chausath-Yogini, Brahma and Mahadeva are made of granite, while the other temples are built of fine-grained sandstone, buff, pink or pale yellow in colour.

9. Hampi - Hampi is situated on the southern bank of the Tungabhadra River in the State of Karnataka. It was once the capital of the powerful Vijayanagara Empire and consists of a series of famous places India monuments that were built between AD 1336-1570. The temples at this heritage site are noted for their large dimensions, florid ornamentation, bold and delicate carvings, stately pillars, magnificent pavilions and iconographic depictions from the Ramayana.

10. Fatehpur Sikri – This ancient city is a Unesco World Heritage Site that is situated on the bank of a natural lake in Uttar Pradesh, which has now mostly dried up. Pre historic ochre coloured pottery (c. 2nd millennium B.C.) and painted grey ware (c.1200-800 B.C.) have been discovered here. Later on, from 1572 to 1585, Mughal emperor Akbar built elaborate palaces and other monuments in the Indo – Muslim composite style.

11. Pattadakal – This site is made up of a group of Hindu and Jain temples in the town of Pattadakal in Karnataka. The Chalukyan rulers erected these temples from AD 697 to the ninth century AD. The edifices illustrate episodes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and Panchatantra. Temples constructed here mark the blending of the Rekha, Nagara, Prasada and the Dravida Vimana styles of temple building and are one of the major tourist attractions of India.

12. Elephanta Caves - The Elephanta Caves are located on an island in the Arabian Sea approximately 11 km of the coast of Mumbai city, Maharashtra. There are seven cave excavations in the Elephanta group. These caves can be dated from the 6th to 7th centuries AD. Amongst the cave excavations at this world heritage site, Cave 1 is the most impressive with its display of evolved Brahmanical rock-cut architecture.

13. Great Living Chola Temples – The Great Living Chola Temples can be found in the State of Tamil Nadu. The Kings of the Chola Empire built these monuments India in the 11th and 12th centuries to commemorate various events. This World Heritage Site includes three temples – the Brihadisvara temple of Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikondacholapuram and the Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram.

14. Sanchi – This Unesco India site is located in Madhya Pradesh and includes a collection of Buddhist monuments that consist of stupas, monolithic Asokan pillar, temples, monasteries and sculptures. The Mauryan Emperor Asoka laid the foundations of this religious centre at Sanchi in the third century BC. Construction continued till the twelfth century AD with later rulers adding structures such as staircases, railings and sculptures.

15. Humayun's Tomb – Situated in New Delhi, Humayun’s Tomb is one of the famous places India declared as a world herritage site. It contains the graves of the Mughal Emperor Humayun and his family members. Humayun’s widow Hamida Banu Begum constructed it in 1569, 14 years after the death of her husband. This tomb is made of red sandstone and is the first distinct example of the famous Mughal style, which was a synthesis of Persian architecture and Indian structural design.

16. Qutb Minar – Built from red and buff sandstone, Qutb Minar in New Delhi with its height of 72.5 metres is the highest tower in the country. Qutbu'd-Din Aibak of the Slave Dynasty laid the foundation of the Minar in AD 1199 for the use of the mu'azzin (crier) to give calls for prayer. This famous place in India also includes other monuments in the vicinity such as the Iron Pillar, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque and the tomb of Iltumish.

17. Mahabodhi Temple – This temple is located in the town of Bodhgaya in Bihar. It was built in 260 B.C. when the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka visited Bodh Gaya. The temple was constructed near a Bodhi tree, under which the Buddha is believed to have received enlightenment. Today, a direct descendant of this sacred Bodhi tree (Pipal) stands in the temple complex.

18. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka – The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are situated around 45 kms south east of Bhopal in the State of Madhya Pradesh. These rock shelters are spread over 13 square kilometres and have more than 700 rock shelters, of which over 400 have rock paintings. Numerous stone tools including hand axes, cleavers and blades from the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Chalcolithic and Mauryan periods have been found here.

19. Champaner – This town is sited around 50 kms from Baroda in Gujarat at the foot of the Pavagadh Hill. The Champaner Pavagadh Archaeological Park consists of monuments India such as the Muhammadabad Fort, Jama Masjid, Lakulisa Temple and other Hindu and Jaina temples. They are datable from the 10th to 15th century AD. Many buildings are a good combination of Hindu and Muslim architecture.

20. Mountain Railway of India – This UNESCO India site includes two hill passenger railways – The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway that opened in 1881 and the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, which was completed in 1908. These railways have been constructed over rugged mountainous terrain and are a testimonial to the engineering prowess of 19th century India. Still operational, these railways pass through regions of amazing natural beauty.

21. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus – Originally called the ‘Victoria Terminus’, this railway station is an exceptional example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India. Located in the city of Mumbai, Maharashtra, the Victoria Terminus was designed by British architect F.W. Stevens and built over ten years starting from 1878. It is characterized by a stone dome, turrets, pointed arches as well as Indian themes.

22. Red Fort, Delhi – Mughal Emperor Shahjahan built The Red Fort in New Delhi after he shifted his capital here from Agra. It is one of the most famous places India. The erection of the Red Fort began in 1639 and was completed after nine years. The Fort is an irregular octagon, with two main entrances called the Lahori Gate and Delhi Gate. The walls, gates and a few other structures in the fort are constructed of red sandstone while marble has been largely used for the palaces.

23. Kaziranga National Park - Spread over an area of 430 square kms, the Kaziranga National Park is the natural home of the one-horned Indian rhinoceros. This Unesco world Heritage Site is around 217 kms from Guwahati in the State of Assam. Other than the rhinoceros, animals such as elephants, swamp deer, sloth bear, tigers, leopard cats, hog badgers and a host of migratory birds are also present here.

24. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary – One of the nine Tiger Projects in India, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the banks of the Manas River at the foothills of the Himalayas in Assam. Covering an area of 519.77 square kms., Manas is situated around 176 kms from Guwahati by road. In the winter, it is home to hundreds of migrating birds such as the Riverchats, Forktails, Cormorants and various types of ducks.

25. Keoladeo National Park – Located in the State of Rajasthan, this former duck-hunting reserve of the Maharajas is today one of the major wintering areas for a large numbers of aquatic birds from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia. Around 364 different species of birds, including the rare Siberian crane, have been spotted at this park. Visitors are advised to maintain a low noise level and avoid littering the park when visiting this top famous places of India.

26. Sunderbans National Park - Situated in the lower end of Gangetic West Bengal, the Sundarbans covers 10,000 square kms. of land and water in the Ganges Delta. Thick mangrove forests and vast saline mud flats of the area harbour flora like the Sundari and Goran trees. A number of endangered animals live in the park such as the Royal Bengal Tiger and Axis Deer.

27. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers – The Nanda Devi National Park is situated near the 7800 metre Nanda Devi Peak in the State of Uttaranchal. It is the habitat of several endangered species such as the snow leopard, Himalayan musk deer and bharal. The Valley of Flowers is a nearby scenic area with meadows of endemic alpine flowers and rare animals like the Asiatic black bear, brown bear and blue sheep.

This Unesco India world heritage site rounds up the list of top famous places India. While visiting India, it would be great to check out some of these places to make the most of your trip.

Happy touring!!

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