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Heritage Monuments in India

India possess a rich collection of monuments, known world over for its intricate architect and its ancient history. The Taj Mahal, Agra, built by fifth Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan in the year 1648 is undoubtedly the epitome of Indian culture, heritage and civilization. Behind each monument is an underlying sense of mystery, intrigue and romance. Other popular monuments include Hazrat Nizamuddin, a tomb of medieval sufi saint and a place of pilgrimage and devotion for believers. Safdarjung Tomb, New Delhi is the mausoleum of a minister of emperor Ahamed Shah, and was built by his son in the year 1753. The Jama Masjid, built in 1650-56 by Moghul emperor Shah Jahan, is one of the largest and most beautiful mosques in India.

Humayun's Tomb, New Delhi, is the mausoleum of second Moghul emperor built in the year 1564 by his widow Haji Begum. The magnificent Charminar, built in the year 1591, is the most important landmark in the city of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Looking back at five thousand years of Indian History, there are thousands of monuments across the country from north to south and east to west belonging to Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians.
Besides, these monuments there are many historically important temples scattered all over the country.
India's grand repository of ancient cultural and natural treasures is of great significance to the history and civilization of the world.
Taj Mahal :- Architectural masterpiece and symbol of eternal love, Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world. Lying on the bank of river Yamuna, the Taj Mahal is located in Agra, a historical Indian city, Taj Mahal was built by famous Mughal ruler Shahjahan in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaj Mahal. Taking a huge 22 years to build, the wonder palace gets its appropriate description in Tagore words “a teardrop in the cheek of time”.
The great architectural wonder, Taj Mahal with its unique calligraphy, mosaic motifs, mausoleum and domes is undoubtedly one of the best tourist fascination in india. The world famous palace calls tourists from all over to witness the best preserved architectural heritage and an epitome of eternal love in its milky white pristine marbles. Giving tourists a rare experience, lily like gleam of Taj Mahal is a lovely exploration of Indian architectural beauty.
Fatehpur Sikri :- In honour of saint Shaikh Salim Chisti, the Mughal emperor, Akbar the great, founded a magnificent city on Sikri ridge. In 1571 he ordered the construction of buildings for his own use and asked the noblemen to build houses for themselves. Within a year, most of the work was finished and within the next few years, a well planned city with administrative, residential and religious buildings came into existence.
The Jami Mosque was perhaps among the first buildings to come up. Its epigraph gives AH 979 (AD 1571-72) as the date of its completion. The Buland-Darwaza was added some five years later.
Agra Fort :- It represents first major building project of Akbar, through remains of only a few buildings built by him now survive. Built on the site of an earlier castle in AD 1565-75, the fort, apart from other important units, contains Jahangiri Mahal, Khass Mahal, Diwan-i-Khass, Diwan-i-Am, Machchhi Bhawan and Moti Masjid. Many extant buildings were erected by Shah Jahan (AD 1630-55). Irregularly triangular on plan, it is enclosed by a double battlemented massive wall of red sandstone which is about 2 km in perimetre and interrupted by graceful curves and lofty bastions. Of its four gates, the most impressive is the Delhi Gate on the west.
Qutab Minar :- The tallest brick minaret of the world, Qutub Minar is the pride of Delhi - the old historical walled city and national capital of India. An excellent example of Indo-Islamic architecture, the Qutub Minar and its monuments with its deeper historical significance find its inclusion in the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO.
Emulating the minaret of Jam of Afghanistan, the first Muslim king of Delhi, Qutb-Ud-Din-Aybak started the construction of Qutub Minar in 1193. Latter, his successor, Iltutmish added second, third and fourth floor, which was latter forwarded by his successor, Firoz Shah Tughlaq, who constructed the fifth and last floor of the minaret in 1368. Requiring around 400 steps to reach to the top, the minarets with its height of 72.5 metres, unravel a very fine opportunity to see Indo-Islamic architecture.
The minaret, built on the ruins of Lal-Kot and using the materials of 27 destroyed Hindu and Jain temples, is a unique composite of diverse architectural structure. The minaret made of red sandstones have tangled carving and holy Quran inscribed on it. Hindu floral art inscribed on the pillars, heavily carved fluting (a persian technique) and Muslim calligraphy show a perfect example of Indo-Muslim architectural beauty.
Humayun Tomb, Delhi :- The first substantial example of a garden tomb on charbagh pattern with high arches and double dome was erected by Humayun's queen Hamida Banu Begam (Haji Begam) in AD 1569 at a cost of 15 lakh rupees (1.5 million).
The high rubble built enclosure is entered through two lofty double-storeyed gateways on the west and south. A baradar (pavilion) occupies the centre of the eastern wall and a hammam (bath chamber) in the centre of northern wall. The lofty mausoleum is in the centre of the enclosure and rises from podium faced with series of cells having arched openings. The central octagonal chamber contains the cenotaph, encompassed by octagonal chambers at the diagonals and arched lobbies on the sides. Their openings are closed with perforated screens. Each side is dominated by three arches, the central one being the highest. This plan is repeated on the second storey too. The roof surmounted by a double dome (42.5m) of marble has pillared kiosks (chhatris) placed around it.
India Gate :- One of the most important monuments of the historical city of Delhi, the India Gate is also one among the most visited destinations. Built as memorial commemorating 80,000 Indian soldiers, who were killed during the first World War, the historical edifice of India Gate is located exactly opposite to the President House. 42 meters high arch of the magnificence building, designed by famous architect Edwin Lutyen, India Gate, for tourists, is a wonderful two-in-one experience. On the hand, the location of New Delhi gives you feel of contemporary Delhi, on the other, the historical significance lets one peep into the importance of contribution of Indian soldiers in the world war I.
Being one of the most favourite picnic spots of Delhi, the India Gate has very large lush lawns, where tourists as well as local visitors can be seen in heaps. For children, local vendors selling ice-creams, aerated drinks, and balloons, are best to be glued to. Children park and boat club are the two spots close to the gate, which are mostly flocked by picnickers. Visiting the India Gate comes to its full circle in the evening, when the special lighting makes the monument appear very illuminating.
Elephanta Caves, Mumbai :- Elephanta anciently known as Gharapuri, the island capital of Konkan Mauryas, is celebrated for its colossal image of Mahesa-murti with three heads each representing a different form.
in fact, there are seven caves out of which the most important is the Mahesa-murti cave. The main body of the cave, excludin-g the porticos on the three open sides and the back isle, is 27 metres square and is supported by rows of six columns each. The gigantic figures of dvarapalas or doorkeepers here are very impressive.
There are sculptured compartments in this cave with remarkable images of ardhanarisvara, Kalyana-sundara Siva, Ravana lifting Kailasa, Andhakari-murti (slaying of Andhaka demon) and Nataraja Siva.
Ajanta Caves , Aurangabad :- The caves including the unfinished ones are thirty in number, of which five (9, 10, 19, 26 and 29) are chaitya-grihas and the rest are sangharamas or viharas (monasteries). After centuries of oblivion, these caves were discovered in AD 1819. They fall into two distinct phases with a break of nearly four centuries between them. All the caves of the earlier phase date between 2nd century BC-AD.
The caves of the second phase were excavated during the supremacy of the Vakatakas and Guptas. According to inscriptions, Varahadev, the minister of the Vakataka king, Harishena (c.475-500 AD), dedicated Cave 16 to the Buddhist sangha while Cave 17 was the gift of the prince a feudatory. An inscription records that Buddha image in Cave 4 was the gift of some Abhayanandi who hailed from Mathura.
Ellora Caves, Aurangabad :- The magnificent group of rock-cut shrines of Ellora, representing three different faiths, Buddhist, Brahmanical and Jaina were excavated during the period from 5th to the 13th century AD. The Buddhist Caves (1 to 12) were excavated between the 5th and the 7th centuries AD, when the Mahayana sects were flourishing in the region. Important in this group are Caves 5, 10 and 12. Cave 10 is a chaitya-hall and is popularly known as 'Visvakarma'. It has a highly ornamental facade provided with in gallery and in the chaitya-hall is a beautiful image of Buddha set on a stupa. Among the viharas, Cave 5 is the largest. The most impressive vihara is the three - storeyed cave called 'Tin - Tala'. It has a large open-court in front which provides access to the huge monastery. The uppermost storey contains sculptures of Buddha.
The Sun Temple, Konark :- Kainapara of the Periplus (first century AD), is an important port of the Orissan coast. The most notable marvel of Orissan art is the stately Sun Temple. Built in c.AD 1250, during the reign of the Eastern Ganga King Narasimhadeva-I (AD 1238-64), it was to enshrine an image of Sun (Arka), the patron deity of the place. The entire complex was designed in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on twelve pairs of exquisitely carved wheels. The sanctum symbolises the majestic stride of the Sun-god and marks the culmination of the Orissan architectural style. The vimana of the deul has collapsed, while that of jagamohana and the nata-mandapa are better preserved, The walls of the temple contain superb carving of divine, semi-divine, human and animal figures amidst floral and geometric ornamentations. The vivacious kanyas and danseuse are remarkable for their sensuous modelling, pulsating with human emotions which are absorbed in a variety of gestures and rhythmic actions. Such sculptures render the Orissan temple a class unto themselves. Mighty simha-gajas welcome the visitor at the porches.
Mahabalipuram, Group of Monuments :- Mamallapuram, the city of Mamalla, is after the title of great Pallava ruler Narasimhavarman-I (AD 630-68). It was a sea-port during the time of Periplus (1st century AD) and Ptolemy (AD 140) and many Indian colonists sailed to south-east Asia through this port town. While there is some evidence of architectural activity going back to the period of Mahendravarman-I (AD 600-30), the father of Mamalla, most of the monuments like rock-cut rathas, sculptured scenes on open rocks like Arjuna's penance, the caves of Goardhanandhari and Mahishasuramardini, the Jala-Sayana Perumal temple (the sleeping Mahavishnu or Chakrin at the rear part of the Shore temple complex) are attributed to the period of Narasimhavarman-I Mamalla.
Goa, Churches & Convents :- The most comprehensive group of churches and cathedrals built during 16th and 17th century AD at Old Goa comprise of the following:
Se'Cathedral, Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, Chapel of St. Catherine, Basilica of Born Jesus; Church of Lady of Rosary; Church of St. Augustine.
The Church of St. Cajetan is modelled on the original design of St. Peter's Church in Rome. The Church of Bom Jesus with its facade decorated with lonic, Doric and Corinthian pilasters, shows the application of the Classical order. The Se'Cathedral, with its Tuscan exterior the Corinthian columns at its portals, the raised platform with steps leading to the entrance, the barrel-vault above the nave, is yet another example of Renaissance.
Khajuraho :- Built between the period of 10th and 12th century, Khajuraho temple complex are great archaeological treasure of India. Dating more than one thousand year back, the elegant temple structure was built by the then ruler of Chandela dynasty, who clad the whole capital with numerous of tanks and beautiful temples. The temple complex with its numerous erotic sculptures is a fine portrayal of sexual and spiritual significance of the country.
Khajuraho, the land of moon god, had total 85 of temples amongst which only 20 survive today. The temple complex built in north-Indian ‘Nagara’ style of architecture are today the unique gift of love from India to the world. The temple complex of Khajuraho with its unique erotic art have become today one of the best place to witness the historical and architectural significance of the country.
Richest and largest of all temple groups, Western Complex of the temples are designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The other prominent site of the temple complex are Eastern and Southern Complex. Most of the famous temples like Lakshmana Temple, Kandaria Temple, Devi Jagdamba Temple, Chandragupta Temple and Parvati Temple are part of Western Complex, while Jain Group Of Temples, The Vamana Temple and Adinath Temple are in Eastern Complex.
Hampi :- Traditionally known as Pampakshetra of Kishkindha. Hampi is situated on the southern bank of the river Tungabhadra. Once it was the seat of the mighty Vijayanagara empire.
The monuments of Vijayanagara city, also known as Vidyanagara in honour of the sage Vidyaranya were built between AD 1336-1570, from the times of Harihara-I to Sadaviva Raya. A large number of royal buildings were raised by Krishnadeva Raya (AD 1509-30), the greatest ruler of the dynasty. The period witnessed resurgence of Hindu religion, art, architecture in an unprecedented scale. The contemporary chroniclers who came from far off countries - such as Arabia, Italy, Portugal and Russia visited the empire, have left graphic and glowing accounts of the city. It covers an area of nearly 26 sq. km and is stated to be enclosed by seven lines of fortifications.
Extensive remains of the palaces can be seen within innermost enclosure of the ancient Vijayanagara. The various religious and secular structures which include Hindu and Jain temples, audience hall of the king, the magnificent throne platform to witness the festivals and other events, the king's balance (tulabhara) are awe-inspiring.
Pattadakal :- Pattadakal was not only popular for Chalukyan architectural activities but also a holy place for royal coronation, 'Pattadakisuvolal'. Temples constructed here mark the blending of the Rekha Nagara Prasada and the Dravida Vimana styles of temple building.
The oldest temple at Pattadakal is Sangamesvara built by Vijayaditya Satyasraya (AD 697-733). It is a simple but massive structure.
Virupaksha temple of the Chalukyan period served as a model for the Rashtrakuta ruler to carve out the great Kailasa at Ellora. The sculptural art of the early Chalukyas is characterised by grace and delicate details. The ceilinig panels of the navagrahas, dikpalas, the dancing Nataraja, the wall niches containing Lingodbhava, Ardhanarisvara, Tripurari, Varahavishnu, Trivikrama bear ample testimony to the sculptor's skill as well as the cult worship in vogue. The narrative reliefs illustrating certain episodes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and Panchatantra fitted well with these grand religious edifices.
Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur :- This celebrated Saiva temple, appropriately called Brihadisvara and Daksinameru, is the grandest creation of the Chola emperor Rajaraja (AD 985-1012). It was inaugurated by the king himself in his 19th regnal year (AD 1009-10) and named it after himself as Rajesvara Peruvudaiyar. Architecturally, it is the most ambitious structural temple built of granite. The temple is within a spacious inner prakara of 240.90m long (east-west) and 122m broad (north-south), with a gopura at the east and three other ordinary torana entrances on at each lateral sides and the third at rear. The prakara is surrounded by a double-storeyed malika and parivaralayas.
The sikhara, a cupolic dome, is otagonal and rests on a single block of granite, a square of 7.8m weighing 80tons. The majestic upapitha and adhishthana and common to all the axially placed entities like the ardhamaha and mukha-mandapas and linked to the main sanctum but approached through a north-south transept across the ardha-mandapa which is marked by lofty sopanas. The moulded plinth is extensively engraved with inscriptions by its royal builder who refers to his many endowments, pious acts and organisational events connected to the temple. The brihad-linga within the sanctum is 8.7m high. Life-size iconographic representations on the wall niches and inner passages inlude Durga, Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Bhikshatana, Virabhadra, Kalantaka, Natesa, Ardhanarisvara and Alingana forms of Siva. The mural paintings on the walls of the lower ambulatory inside are finest examples of Chola and later periods.
Sanchi :- Sanchi, variously known as Kakanaya. Kakanava, Kakanadabota and Bota-Sriparvata in ancient times, has a singular distinction of having remarkable specimen of Buddhist art and architecture right from the early Mauryan period (c.thirth century BC to twelfth century AD).
Sanchi is famous in the world for stupas, monolithic Asokan pillar, temples, monasteries and sculptural wealth. During Sunga times, several edifices were raised at Sanchi and its surrounding hills. The Asokan stupa was enlarged and faced with stones and decorated with blustrades, staircases and a harmika on the top. The reconstruction of Temple 40 and erection of Stupas 2 and 3 also seem to date back around the same time. In the first century BC the Andhra-Satavahanas, who had extended their sway over the eastern Malwa, caused the elaborately carved gateways to Stupa 1. From the second to fourth century AD Sanchi and Vidisha came under the Kushanas and Kshatrapas and subsequently passed on to the hand of the Guptas. During the Gupta period some temples were built and sculptures were added. Shrines and monasteries were also constructed at the site during seventh and twelfth centuries AD.
Since the fourteenth century Sanchi remained deserted and uncared for till 1818 when General Taylor rediscovered the site, Sir John Marshall established an archaeological museum in 1919, which was later transformed into the present site museum at Sanchi.
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