The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) lists and maintains the International World Heritage Program. A UNESCO World Heritage site can be anywhere, such as a forest, a lake, a building, an island, a mountain, a monument, a desert, a complex or a city; which has a special physical or cultural meaning. It was in 1972 that the General Conference of UNESCO adopted a resolution with a ‘Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage’ .
The main objective of this resolution was to define the cultural and natural aspects of these sites. Out of the total sites in the world, 32 are present in India. Of these, 25 sites have cultural significance, while seven others are known for their natural splendor.
It was during the seventh session of the World Patrion in 1983 that the first two sites, the Agra fort and the Ajanta caves , were recognized as heritage sites. Since then, more than 25+ new places have been added to the list.
Let’s look at the World Heritage sites in India:
1. Agra Fort (1983): Near the gardens of the Taj Mahal is the important Mughal monument of the sixteenth century known as the Red Fort of Agra.
2. Ajanta Caves (1983): The first Buddhist cave monuments in Ajanta date back to the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. During the Gupta period (5th and 6th centuries BC), many more richly decorated caves were added to the original group.
3. Buddhist Monuments in Sanchi (1989): about 40 km from Bhopal, the site of Sanchi comprises a group of Buddhist monuments (monolithic pillars, palaces, temples and monasteries), all in different states of preservation, most of which they date from the 2nd and 1st. centuries before Christ
4. Archaeological Park of Champaner-Pavagadh (2004): a hill fortress of an ancient Hindu capital, and remains of the 16th century capital of the state of Gujarat.
5. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004): Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus in Mumbai. The terminal was built for ten years starting in 1878 according to a high Victorian Gothic design based on Italian models from the late Middle Ages.
6. Churches and Convents of Goa (1986): The churches and convents of Goa, the former capital of the Portuguese. These monuments influenced the diffusion of Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art forms in all the countries of Asia where missions were established.
7. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) (1999): The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway opened in 1881, and applied bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link through mountainous terrain of great beauty.
8. Elephanta Caves (1987): The ‘City of the Caves’, on an island in the Sea of Oman near Bombay, contains a collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva.
9. Ellora Caves (1983): These 34 monasteries and temples, which extend for more than 2 km, are not far from Aurangabad, in Maharashtra. Ellora, with its uninterrupted sequence of monuments dating from 600 d. From A. to 1000, it gives life to the civilization of ancient India.
10. Fatehpur Sikri (1986): The “City of Victory” was the capital of Akbar for approximately 12 years. The best monuments in this area are Diwan-i-Am, Diwan-i-Khas, Panch House, Panch Mahal, Buland Darwaza and the tomb of Saint Shaikh Salim Chisti, and the Jama Masjid (one of the largest mosques in India ).
11. Chola Temples (1987): The great living temples of Chola were built by the kings of the Chola Empire. The site now includes the three great Chola temples of the 11th and 12th centuries: the Brihadisvara temple of Thanjavur, the Gangaikondacholisvaram temple and the Airavatesvara temple in Darasuram.
12. Group of monuments in Hampi (1986): the fabulously rich princes of the Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar built temples and Dravidian palaces that won the admiration of travelers between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries.
13. Group of monuments in Mahabalipuram (1984): this group of sanctuaries, founded by the kings of Pallava, was carved in rock along the coast of Coromandel in the seventh and eighth centuries. I
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14. Group of monuments in Pattadakal (1987): Pattadakal, in Karnataka, has nine Hindu temples, as well as a Jain shrine built in the seventh and eighth centuries under the Chalukya dynasty.
15. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi (1993): This tomb, built in 1570, has a particular cultural significance since it was the first garden tomb in the Indian subcontinent. It inspired several important architectural innovations, which culminated in the construction of the Taj Mahal.
16. Khajuraho Monuments Group (1986): the temples of Khajuraho were built during the Chandella dynasty, which reached its height between 950 and 1050.
17. Mahabodhi temple complex in Bodh Gaya (2002): The Mahabodhi temple complex was built by Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century BC. C., and the current temple dates from the fifth or sixth centuries.
18. Qutab Minar and its monuments, Delhi (1993): built at the beginning of the 13th century a few kilometers south of Delhi, is the red sandstone tower of Qutab Minar.
19. Bhimbetka rock shelters (2003): Bhimbetka rock shelters are located in the foothills of the Vindhya Mountains on the southern tip of the central Indian plateau, known for cave painting.
20. Temple of the Sun, Konark (1984): Built in the 13th century, on the banks of the Bay of Bengal, the temple of Konark is a monumental representation of the chariot of the Sun God, Surya.
21. Taj Mahal (1983): an epitome of beauty, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of The universally admired world heritage masterpieces.
22. Kaziranga National Park (1985): in the heart of Assam, this park is inhabited by the world’s largest population of single-horned rhinos, as well as by many mammals, including tigers, elephants, panthers and bears, and thousands of birds .
23. Keoladeo National Park (1985): This former Maharajah duck hunting reserve is home to some 364 species of birds, including the rare Siberian crane and a large number of waterfowl from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia.
24. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985): the sanctuary of Manas, located in the foothills of the Himalayas, hosts a wide variety of wildlife, including many endangered species such as the tiger, the pygmy pig, the Indian rhinoceros and the Indian elephant
25. Sundarbans National Park (1987): Sundarbans, located in West Bengal, India, contains the largest mangrove area in the world. In the park live several rare or endangered species, including tigers, aquatic mammals, birds and reptiles.