India is a land of ancient forts, opulent palaces and majestic structures which are not confined to just a particular part of the country. They can be found practically in every nook and corner of this vast land. These monuments have stood the test of time and depict tales of courage, love, betrayal and strength.
India is one of the few countries with such a rich past. The monuments built by different rulers are architectural wonders which can still awe and inspire people.
So whether you are a native or a tourist, try and visit some of these places of historical significance. Many of them are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to their cultural and historical importance and, therefore, cannot be missed.
1. Taj Mahal
One of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Begum. It is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country and is situated in the city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh on the banks of the river Yamuna. It took 16 years, from 1632 to 1648, for this monument to be built.
2. Qutab Minar
A perfect example of Mughal architectural brilliance, this minaret is situated in Delhi. Standing at the height of 234 feet, it is the tallest individual tower in the world. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it was built by Qutab Ud – Din- Aibak, founder of the Delhi Sultanate. With its red sandstone and Iranian architecture, it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country.
3. Red Fort
A red sandstone wonder, the Red Fort was the official seat of the Mughal Empire. When Shahjahan, the Mughal emperor, moved the capital from Agra to Delhi, he built this beautiful monument. It took nine years in the making. It is a fine blend of Persian and indigenous architectural styles.t became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. In Modern India, the Red Fort has been the site for the Independence Day celebrations since 1947.
Is a city in Madhya Pradesh with the country’s largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples famous for their erotic sculptures. This group of temples is also among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1986 and is considered one of the Seven Wonders of India. These temples built by the Chandelas are a testimony to India’s diversity. All the temples except one are east-facing and shine when the sun falls on them at the break of dawn. Famous for the intricately carved statues and sculptures, some of them are remnants of the ancient culture of Kamasutra. The temples are symbolic of the Hindu values of Dharma, Kama, Artha and Moksha.
5. Ajanta and Ellora
Another UNESCO World Heritage site, these beautiful caves are located in Maharashtra. Discovered in 1819, these caves are home to rock-cut sculpture and ancient Indian art. The sculptures depict the past lives and rebirths of Lord Buddha in the form of murals and sculptures.
6. Konark Temple
This historic temple devoted to the Sun god is located in the State of Odisha. A UNESCO world heritage site, it is one of the Seven Wonders of India. The Kalinga architecture is reflected in the gigantic chariot, the pillars and the walls of the temple. Made from Khandolite rocks, the temple is another must-visit.
7. Amer Fort
The fort is a sight to behold with its captivating architecture and beautiful red sandstone and marble. Located in Amer, 11 km from Jaipur, the fort overlooks the Maota Lake, the primary source of water for the Amer Palace. It has large ramparts and a series of gates and cobbled paths.
8. Gateway of India
An iconic landmark overlooking the Mumbai harbour, it was built by the British in 1924 to commemorate the visit of King-Emperor George V, the first British monarch to visit India. Made in the Indo- Saracenic style, the structure also incorporates elements of 16th-century Gujarati architecture. It was used as a ceremonial entrance to India for important colonial personnel. In today’s times, this has become a favourite spot for tourists and locals.
9. Kumbalgarh Fort
Often referred to as the Great Wall of India, this fort was built by Maharana Kumbha of the Mewar kingdom. The fort wall extends for more than 35 km, and it is the second-largest continuous wall in the world after the Great Wall of China. It includes 360 ancient temples, palace ruins, bunkers and step wells and is the birthplace of Maharana Partap, the legendary king and warrior.
10. Mehrangarh Fort
The fort is located in Jodhpur and is one of the largest forts in the country. Built in 1459, it is situated at the top of a 410 feet hill and overlooks the walled city of Jodhpur. Massive walls guard it, and it now houses a museum displaying weapons, paintings and other royal possessions. It is one of the most well-maintained forts of India built by the Rathore Rajputs.
11. Elephanta Caves
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, these caves are located 11 kilometres from the city of Mumbai and are a specimen of rock-cut art and architecture from medieval times. Going back to the 6th century, these caves are now in ruins and consist of two groups of alcoves; the first is a cluster of five Hindu caves, and the second is a section of two Buddhist caves. Other than this, these caves are also a trekking destination
12. Sanchi Stupa
This is an outstanding example of the Buddhist style of architecture. Ancient relics of Lord Buddha can be found in the dome-shaped structure of the stupa. Commissioned by King Ashoka, the 54 ft high stupa depicts Lord Buddha’s life through some breathtaking carvings, yet another UNESCO World Heritage site.
13. Victoria Memorial
This beautiful white building, considered the pride of Kolkata, was built between 1906 and 1921. It is dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria and now houses a museum. Surrounded by lush green gardens, the memorial covers an area of 64 acres.
14. Hawa Mahal
Built-in red and pink sandstone Hawa Mahal is located in the heart of Jaipur. Though called a Mahal, it is more of a gallery created to enable the royal ladies to look out as they had to observe the purdah.
15. Mysore Palace
The former residence of the royal family of Mysore, the palace was built in 1912 for the 24th ruler of the Wodeyar dynasty. To date, it is one of the biggest palaces in the country. Located in the centre of the city, it is an architectural wonder built in the Indo-Saracenic style with intricate and breathtaking interiors.
16. Humanyun’s Tomb
Built in 1565 AD, this Mughal architectural wonder was the first dynastic mausoleum in India. It was commissioned nine years after the death of Emperor Humayun by his widow. Its exquisite Persian architecture inspired several architectural wonders culminating with the Taj mahal 80 years later. It stands in the centre of Charbagh-style gardens with pools linked by channels. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The principal landmark of the city of Hyderabad, this four-column structure was built by Mohd. Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 marked the end of the plague. It is a massive 56-metre high structure which consists of four arches facing the cardinal points with minarets on top of each column. It is situated in the heart of Hyderabad’s main bazaar- Laal Bazaar, a labyrinth of lanes crowded with shops, stalls and people.
18. Fatehpur Sikri
The capital city of Akbar, the Mughal emperor, is located about 20 km from Agra. The entrance to the palace, Bulund Darwaza, is the highest gateway in the world. This was also home to the famous Sufi saint Salim Chisti who had prophesied the birth of a male heir to the kingdom.
Once the capital of Vijaynagar, one of the greatest Hindu empires, Hampi is situated in Northern Karnataka and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Surrounded by nearly 500 ancient monuments, temples and remains of the empire, the place is a historical delight.
20. Jallianwala Bagh
Situated in the city of Amritsar, this public garden is a symbol of the freedom struggle. Originally used for community gatherings, it became acquired historical significance when General Dyer, the British officer, ordered his troops to fire machine guns on a group of peaceful protestors
21. India Gate
Located in the heart of Delhi, this 42-metre tall war memorial is dedicated to the soldiers of the British Indian Army who lost their lives during WW1. The beautiful lawns surrounding this monument are a place for evening strolls and picnics. Designed by Lutyens, the cornices of the memorial are adorned with the inscription of the sun, which symbolizes the British Imperial colony and the word INDIA IS inscribed at the top of the arches on both sides. Every year, the Republic Day Parade is held here.