World Heritage Sites in India : List of 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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List of 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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India’s World Heritage Sites

• A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that has special cultural or natural importance. The world “World Heritage Programme,” which is run by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, makes sure that the list of World Heritage Sites is always up to date.

The 21 UNESCO member states that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Committee are chosen by the General Assembly.

• India has 40 world heritage sites as of June 2022. There are 32 cultural sites, 7 natural sites, and 1 mixed site.

Organisation of the United Nations for Education, Science, and Culture

It was started in 1945 to promote the “intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind” as a way to build lasting peace. It is based in Paris, France.

How is a World Heritage Site selected?

• The first step towards getting a site on the list is for the government of a country to put it forward.

• For a place to be put on the World Heritage list, it needs to have an Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

• There are ten ways to figure out the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) for World Heritage application.

• At least one of these ten rules must be met by the suggested nomination.

• The International Council on Monuments and Sites and the World Conservation Union then look at the Nomination File and decide if it should be added to the list.

• These groups then tell the World Heritage Committee what they think should happen.

• The Committee meets once a year to decide whether or not to add each proposed site to the World Heritage List. Sometimes, the decision is put off to ask the country that proposed the site for more information.

10 ways to figure out if something has “Outstanding Universal Value” (OUV).

What the law says about designated sites

• A UNESCO World Heritage Site is strong evidence that culturally important sites are legally protected by the Geneva Convention, its articles, protocols, and customs, as well as other treaties like the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and international law.

• Article 53 of the Geneva Convention says that cultural objects and places of worship must be protected. Without affecting the rules of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 14 May 1954 and other relevant international instruments, it is against the law to: o Do anything hostile to historic monuments, works of art, or places of worship that are part of the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples; o Use these things to help the military effort; o Make these things the target of hostilities.

List of UNESCO World Heritage sites in India that are natural

Here is a list of India’s UNESCO World Heritage places.

UNESCO Mixed World Heritage Sites

A mixed site has both nature and culturally significant parts:

Agra Fort (1983)

Agra Fort was built by the Mughals in the 1600s. It is a red marble fortress that includes the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal, both built by Shah Jahan, as well as audience halls like the Diwan-i-Khas.

Ajanta Caves (1983)

Ajanta is a group of rock-cut caves in the Sahyadri ranges (Western Ghats) on the Waghora river near Aurangabad, Maharashtra. There are 29 caves, all of which were used by Buddhists. Of these, 25 were used as Viharas, or living caves, and 4 as Chaitya, or prayer halls.

• Time of Construction: The caves were built between 200 B.C. and 650 A.D.

Buddhist monks wrote in the Ajanta caves with the help of the Vakataka kings, with Harishena being one of the most important ones.

Chinese Buddhist travellers Fa Hien (during the rule of Chandragupta II, from 380 to 415 CE) and Hieun Tsang (during the reign of Harshavardhana, from 606 to 647 CE) wrote about the Ajanta caves in their journals.

• art: Fresco art was used to make the figures in these caves.

The drawings had red lines around their edges. One thing that stands out is that there is no blue in the art.

Most of the works are about Buddhism, such as the life of Buddha and the Jataka stories.

Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara at Nalanda, Bihar (2016)

• The ruins of a monastery and school from the third century BCE to the thirteenth century CE.

It is thought to be the oldest university on the Indian Subcontinent. It has stupas, shrines, viharas (residential and educational buildings), and important works of art made of clay, stone, and metal.

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Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989)

• It is the oldest Buddhist shrine still in use, and until the 12th century A.D., it was a major Buddhist centre in India.

• Has monolithic pillars, palaces, churches, and monasteries, most of which date back to the 2nd and 1st centuries and are in different states of conservation.

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004)

Chalcolithic sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and the remains of the 16th-century capital of the state of Gujarat are all part of the site. Other remains include fortifications, palaces, religious buildings, residential precincts, agricultural structures, and water installations from the 8th to 14th centuries.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004)

• A building in India that shows how the Victorian Gothic Revival style was mixed with ideas from Indian traditional architecture.

• The building, which was made by the British architect F. W. Stevens, became a symbol of Bombay as the “Gothic City” and India’s most important foreign trading port. The terminal took 10 years to build, starting in 1878. It was built in a style called High Victorian Gothic, which was based on designs from the late Middle Ages in Italy. Its stone dome, towers, pointed arches, and strange layout are similar to those of traditional Indian palaces.

Churches and Convents of Goa (1986)

• The churches and convents of Goa, especially the Basilica of Bom Jesus, show that the spread of Christianity to Asia began there.The holy body of St. Francis Xavier is also in the Basilica of Bom Jesus. These buildings are known for spreading Manueline, Mannerist, and Baroque art to many parts of Asia.

Elephanta Caves (1987)

• Located at Elephanta island or island of Gharapuri (literally “City of Caves”) in the Sea of Oman, close to Mumbai. • Has a collection of rock art connected to the Shaivite cult. • Is an important symbol of the greatness of Indian art, especially the huge high reliefs in the main cave. • Was built between the mid-5th and 6th centuries AD.

Ellora Caves

It is about 100 km from the Ajanta caves in the Sahyadri range of Maharashtra. It is a group of 34 caves, 17 of which are Brahmanical, 12 of which are Buddhist, and 5 of which are Jain.

The caves were built between the 5th and 11th centuries A.D. by guilds from Vidarbha, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. Because of this, the caves have a wide range of themes and architectural styles.

• Kailasa (Kailasanatha; cave 16), named after the mountain in the Kailasa Range of the Himalayas where the Hindu god Shiva lives, is the most interesting of the cave shrines.

Fatehpur Sikri (1986)

Fatehpur Sikri, also known as “The City of Victory,” was built by Emperor Akbar in the second half of the 16th century. It was the capital of the Mughal empire for a short time. It has many monuments and temples, including the Jama Masjid, which is one of the biggest mosques in India.

Great Living Chola Temples (1987, 2004)

• These temples were built by kings of the Chola empire. They show how precise and perfect the Cholas were in architecture, sculpture, painting, and bronze casting.

• Brihadisvara and Airavatesvara temple

Group of Monuments in Hampi (1986)

This place was the last city of the kingdom of Vijaynagar. Between the 14th and 16th centuries, the rulers of Vijaynagar built these Dravidian temples and palaces.

• The Deccan Muslim Confederacy took over the city in 1565 and ransacked it for six months before leaving it alone.

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984):

Along the Coromandel coast of the Bay of Bengal, Pallava kings built this group of structures in the 7th and 8th centuries.In the form of rathas (temples in the shape of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries), and giant open-air reliefs like “Descent of the Ganges,” these temples have detailed and unique architectural styles.

• It also surrounds the temple of Rivage, which has tens of thousands of figurines honouring Shiva.

A Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987)

Pattadakal in Karnataka is a unique blend of northern and southern Indian styles of architecture. It was built during the 7th and 8th centuries by the Chalukya dynasty. It has nine Hindu temples and a Jain sanctuary, including the Temple of Virupaksha, which was a masterpiece built by Queen Lokamahadevi to celebrate her husband’s victory.

The Hill Forts of Rajasthan (2013)

This site is made up of six beautiful forts in the state of Rajasthan: Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Sawai Madhopur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, and Jhalawar. The exteriors of these forts show how the Rajputs lived from the 8th to the 18th centuries, when they ruled this area. These fortifications surround urban centres, palaces, trading centres, and temples, where art and culture thrived.

Historic City of Ahmedabad (2017)

• This city was started by Sultan Ahmad Shah in the 1500s. It is on the east side of the Sabarmati River. It was also the capital of the state of Gujarat for more than a thousand years.

• The architecture of this city shows that people of different faiths can live together peacefully on this land. It has the famous Bhadra citadel, as well as many mosques, tombs, and Hindu and Jain temples.Traditional houses (pols) are packed closely together on traditional streets (puras) with gates.

Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi (1993)

• It was built in 1570 and is important to Indian culture because it was the first garden tomb to be built there.

• Several architectural advances, including the Taj Mahal, were based on this tomb.

Jaipur City, Rajasthan (2019)

• It was founded in 1727 by Sawai Jai Singh II, who was the Kachwaha Rajput king of Amber at the time. It is also the capital city of the state of Rajasthan. The city was built on the plains using a grid plan based on Vedic architecture. The city’s urban planning combines ideas from ancient Hindu, modern Mughal, and Western cultures.

• Some of the city’s most famous landmarks are the Govind Dev temple, the City Palace, the Jantar Mantar, the Hawa Mahal, and so on.

• After Ahmedabad, Jaipur is the second city in the country to be named a World Heritage Site.

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Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986)

• These churches were built during the height of the Chandella dynasty, which was from 950 to 1050.

• There are only 20 temples left, and they belong to two different religions: Hinduism and Jainism. One of the most famous is the Temple of Kandariya, which has detailed and beautiful sculptures.

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (2002)

• Emperor Asoka built this temple in the third century B.C.But the building we see today goes back to the 5th or 6th century.It is one of the first Buddhist shrines to be made out of bricks only, and it is thought to be one of the four holy places connected to Gautama Buddha’s life.

Mountain Railways of India (1999, 2005, and 2008)

• There are three railroads on this site:

• Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

• The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a single-track line in Tamil Nadu that is 46 km long. It was started in 1891 and finished in 1908.

• Kalka Shimla Railway

Qutub Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (1993)

Qutub Minar was built in Delhi in the early 1300s out of red sandstone. It is 72.5 metres tall and has a base diameter of 14.32 metres and a peak diameter of 2.75 metres. It is surrounded by a number of beautiful buildings, such as the Alai Darwaza, which was built in 1311, and two mosques, one of which is the oldest mosque in northern India.

Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat (2014)

This stepwell was made as a memorial to a king on the banks of the Saraswati river. Stepwells are easy-to-reach underground water sources and storage systems that have been built in the Indian subcontinent since the 3rd millennium B.C.

• This stepwell is an example of the Maru-Gurjara building style. It looks like an upside-down temple to show how holy water is, and it has more than a thousand sculptures that show religious, mythological, and secular scenes.

Red Fort Complex (2007)

The Red Fort was built as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad, the city of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Its name comes from the huge red sandstone walls that surround it. The Red Fort Complex as a whole also includes the Salimgarh fort, which was built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546.Red Fort shows how the best of Mughal architecture and workmanship came together. The layout of the palace is based on Islamic models, but each building has elements from Persian, Timurid, and Hindu architecture. The row of pavilions is linked by a stream called Nahr-i-Behisht, which means “Stream of Paradise.”

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003)

These shelters are on the southern edge of the central Indian plateau, at the foothills of the Vindhya range. They are made up of five clusters of natural rock shelters with paintings from the Mesolithic and later times. The cultural traditions of the people who live nearby are very similar to those shown in the paintings.

Sun Temple, Konarak (1984)

The Konark Sun Temple is in East Odisha, close to the holy city of Puri. It was built by King Narasimhadeva I (1238–1264) in the 13th century. Its size, detail, and design show the strength and security of the Ganga Empire, as well as the values of the time. The temple is built in the shape of a huge chariot. It was built to honour the Sun God. In this way, it has a clear and material connection to Brahmanism and tantra.The Konark temple is well-known not only for how big and beautiful it is, but also for how intricate and many sculptures it has. It is the pinnacle of Kalinga building, showing the grace, joy, and rhythm of life in all its wonderful variety.

• The Konark sun temple has two rows of 12 wheels on each side. Some people say that the wheels represent the 24 hours in a day, while others say that they represent the 12 months. Others say that the seven horses represent the seven days of the week.

Sailors used to call the Sun Temple of Konark the “Black Pagoda” because they thought it would cause ships to crash into the shore and sink. Konark is an important part of the history of how the cult of Surya, which started in Kashmir in the 8th century, spread to the shores of Eastern India.

Taj Mahal (1983)

• The Taj Mahal in Agra is a tomb made of white marble. It was built by the Mughal prince Shahjahan to honour his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is on the bank of the Yamuna River.

• From 1631 to 1648 AD, it took 17 years to build the Taj Mahal.In December 1920, the Taj Mahal was named a national treasure that was protected by the central government.

• It was put on the list of World Heritage Sites in 1983. It is thought to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

• It is known for its unusual design, perfect balance, and beautiful inlay work.

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier (2016)

• This transnational serial property is made up of 17 sites in 7 different countries. It is a good example of a new way of expressing architecture through modern customs.

• Taken as a whole, these sites spread the ideas of the Modern movement and are seen as a major response to some of the most important problems in architecture and society in the 20th century.Some of the well-known places on this land are the Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh, India, the Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, Japan, the House of Dr. Curutchet in La Plata, Argentina, the Unité d’habitation in Marseille, France, etc.

The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (2010)

• Jantar Mantar was built in the early 1800s so that people could look up and see where the stars were. This site has a set of 20 key instruments for making accurate observations. It is a display of astronomical skills and knowledge from the Mughal era.

Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai (2018):

This site is a collection of public buildings built in the 19th century in the Victorian Neo-Gothic style and in the 20th century in the Art Deco style. Both styles have Indian architectural features mixed in with them. For example, balconies and verandas are often found on Victorian Neo-Gothic style houses. In the same way, the word “Indo-Deco” is used to describe the style that came about when Indian elements were added to Art Deco art and architecture.

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Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple (2021)

The Hindu temple was built during the Kakatiya kingdom in the first half of the 13th century. It is decorated with carvings and sculptures made of granite and dolerite that show traditional dances from the area.In keeping with Hindu beliefs, the temple was built so that it fits in well with its surroundings. • The structure is made of carved granite and dolerite beams and pillars, and it has a distinctive pyramidal Vimana made of light, porous bricks called “floating bricks,” which made the roof structures lighter.

Dholavira: a Harappan City (2021)

During the Bronze Age, Dholavira was one of the centres of the Harappan Civilization. It was found by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi in 1968. The name Dholavira comes from a village in the Kutch area of Gujarat.

• In ancient India, it was a centre for trade and industry for about 1,500 years, until it started to fall apart around 1500 BC. • It traded with other cities in the area and even with Mesopotamia. The site was found again in 1968. It was the fifth biggest city of the Indus Valley Civilization, after Mohen-jo-Daro, Ganweriwala, Harappa, and Rakhigarhi.


Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (2014)

This Park is known for its high alpine peaks, alpine meadows, and riverine woods. It is in the western part of the Himalayas, in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It is also home to the glacial and snow meltwater sources of several rivers, as well as the catchment area.It is a “biodiversity hotspot” because it has 25 different kinds of woods that are home to a huge number of animal species, some of which are endangered.

Kaziranga National Park (1985)

• Location: It is in the state of Assam and is 42,996 ha in size. It is the largest part of the Brahmaputra Valley floodplain that hasn’t been changed and is a good representation of the whole area.

• Legal Status: In 1974, it was made a National Park.

Since 2007, it has been called a tiger reserve. It has a tiger reserve that is 1030 square kilometres in size, with a core area of 430 square kilometres.

• It is a part of the international community. In 1985, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

BirdLife International says that it is an Important Bird Area.

• Found Important Species

It is where the most one-horned rhinos live in the world.

Conservation efforts in Kaziranga are mostly focused on the “big four” animals: the rhino, the elephant, the Royal Bengal tiger, and the Asiatic water buffalo. The 2018 census found that there were 2,413 rhinos and about 1,100 elephants.

According to a tiger count done in 2014, there were about 103 tigers in Kaziranga. This was the third-highest number in India, after Jim Corbett National Park (215) and Bandipur National Park (120).

Nine of the 14 kinds of primates that live on the Indian subcontinent live in Kaziranga.

• Roads and rivers

In the park area, National Highway 37 goes through it.

In addition to the river that runs through it, the park has more than 250 seasonal sources of water.

Keoladeo National Park (1985)

• This marsh is in the state of Rajasthan, and until the end of the 19th century, it was used as a place to shoot ducks. But hunters stopped going there soon after, and in 1982, the area was made a national park.

• This National Park is home to 375 types of birds and many other kinds of animals and plants. It is also a winter home for migrating waterfowl from the Palaearctic, the critically endangered Siberian Crane, and the globally threatened Greater Spotted Eagle and Imperial Eagle. It is known for its large population of breeding birds that don’t move.

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985)

• The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam is a place with a lot of different kinds of animals. It is part of the Manas Tiger Reserve and stretches along the Manas river. It is beautiful and peaceful because of its forested hills, alluvial grasslands, and tropical evergreen forests. It is also home to many endangered species, such as the tiger, the greater one-horned rhino, the swamp deer, the pygmy hog, and the Bengal florican.

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks (1988, 2005)

• Both of these National Parks are high-altitude places in the West Himalayas that are very beautiful and are in the state of Uttarakhand.The top of Nanda Devi, which is India’s second-highest mountain, stands out in Nanda Devi National Park, which is a rough, high-mountain wilderness. In comparison, the Valley of Flowers has beautiful meadows filled with alpine flowers.In these parks, there are many different kinds of plants and animals, as well as a large number of widely threatened species, such as the snow leopard, the Himalayan musk deer, and others.

Sundarban National Park (1987)

The Sundarbans mangrove forest is one of the largest in the world. It is in India and Bangladesh on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal. It is next to India’s Sundarbans World Heritage site, which was put on the list in 1987.

Western Ghats (2012)

The Western Ghats are a chain of mountains that run parallel to India’s western coast and go through the states of Kerala, Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. They cover a huge area in a 1600 km stretch and are only broken up by a 30km gap called the Palghat Gap at 11 degrees north. They also affect the Indian monsoon weather patterns, which make the area’s climate warm and tropical and act as a barrier to rain-The Western Ghats are also home to tropical evergreen woods and 325 species that are in danger all over the world.


Khangchendzonga National Park (2016)

This National Park is in Sikkim and is dominated by Mount Khangchendzonga, the world’s third-highest peak. The Park also has steep-sided valleys, snow-covered mountains, lakes, and glaciers, such as the 26-kilometer-long Zemu glacier, which is near the base of Mount Khangchendzonga. It protects a habitat for many endemic and threatened plant and animal species.

• Khangchendzonga National Park is important to culture because it is home to a holy place for one of the most important religions in the world. The idea of “beyul,” or “hidden sacred land,” is important in Tibetan Buddhism. It covers all of Sikkim, but its heart is in the area of Khangchendzonga National Park. This idea is not just important to Sikkim, but also to the countries around it and beyond.

Khangchendzonga’s multi-layered sacred landscape and the cultural and religious importance of the hidden land (called beyul in Tibetan Buddhism and Mayel Lyang in the Lepcha tradition) are unique to Sikkim. They are a great example of how different religious traditions and people can live together and learn from each other.

The Lepcha’s traditional religion and cultural practises about the environment and the unique properties of local plants are a good example of traditional knowledge and protecting the environment.