If you’re going to India, make sure you visit these historical monuments.
Hawa Mahal, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Hawa Mahal (“The Palace of Winds” or “The Palace of Breeze”) is a palace in Jaipur. The structure was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. It was designed by Lal Chand Ustad.
The five-floor exterior of this building is similar to a honeycomb with its many small latticed windows called jharokhas. Its original intent was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life and festivities without being seen from the inside.
As a result, people thought it was the palace’s front, but that’s because many couldn’t see it from inside. This is because even though this architectural feature allowed cool air from the Venturi effect to pass through, and made the area more livable in high summer temperatures, many could only see it from outside.
Hawa Mahal was also called the chef-d’œuvre of Maharaja Jai Singh. It was his favourite resort because of its elegance and elaborate, built-in interior.
Amer Fort, Rajasthan
Amer Fort is located in Amer, Rajasthan and derives its name from the Ambikeshwar Temple.
Amer and the Amber Fort were originally built by the Kachhwaha, Rajputs by Raja Bharmal, a ruler from the Kachhwaha clan of Rajputs in 1558 CE.
The fort overlooks the beautiful Maota Lake and is known for its artistic style. It has large ramparts, series of gates, and cobbled paths.
This palace, along with Jaigarh Fort, is located on the Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) which is part of the same Aravalli range of hills.
Khajuraho Temples, Madhya Pradesh
The Khajuraho Group of Monuments are a group of Hindu and Jain temples in Chhatarpur district, Madhya Pradesh.
They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples are famous for their nagara-style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures.
Most Khajuraho temples were built between 885 AD and 1050 AD by the Chandela dynasty.
Historical records show that there were originally 85 temples and by the 12th century, Khajuraho had 20 sq km. Only 25 of these can be seen today, in six sq km.
The Khajuraho group of temples were built together but were dedicated to two religions, Hinduism and Jainism, suggesting a tradition of acceptance and respect for diverse religious views among Hindus and Jains in the region.
Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh
Sanchi is a Buddhist complex, famous for its Great Stupa, on a hilltop in Sanchi Town in Raisen District of the State of Madhya Pradesh.
The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India, and an important monument of Indian architecture. It was originally commissioned by Mauryan emperor Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BCE.
The royal parasol-like chhatri is the highest point of the temple, honouring the relics inside.
On the Indian Rs 200 note, there is a depiction of the Sanchi Stupa which is important to our cultural heritage.
Konark Temple, Odisha
The Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century CE temple built by King Narasimhadeva I in Odisha. Its heritage status and the beauty of its setting on the mouth of a small natural harbour attracts many visitors.
This temple is dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya, and what remains of the temple complex has been carved to look like a large 100-foot (30 m) high chariot with immense wheels and horses.
Once towering over 200 ft tall, now much of the temple stands in ruins. Particularly significant architectural flourishes like the shikara tower over the sanctuary are gone. At one time the shikhara tower was much higher than the mandapa that remains.
There is still some controversy about the cause of the Konark temple’s destruction.
People have previously speculated as to what could have happened to the temple, with theories ranging from natural damage to deliberate destruction in the course of being sacked by Muslim armies.
The Konark Sun Temple is depicted on the reverse side of the Indian currency note of 10 rupees. It signifies its importance to Indian cultural heritage.
The Ruins of Hampi, Karnataka
Hampi, also referred to as the Group of Monuments at Hampi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Eastern Karnataka.
Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century. Chronicles left by travellers, particularly those from Portugal, describe this prosperous and wealthy city near the Tungabhadra River as having numerous temples.
Hampi-Vijayanagara by the 1500s was one of the world’s largest medieval cities and amongst the wealthiest, attracting traders from as far away as Persia and Portugal.
Hampi’s ruins are spread over 4,100 hectares (16 sq mi) and it has been described by UNESCO as an “austere, grandiose site” of more than 1,600 surviving remains of the last great Hindu kingdom.
Pampa Devi Tirtha Kshetra is one of the many holy sites in Hampi dating back from before the Vijayanagara Empire. It is mentioned in Hindu texts like the Ramayana
Hampi has been a religious centre for centuries, housing an active Adi Shankara-linked monastery and various monuments from the old city.
Rani ki Vav, Patan, Gujarat
Rani ki vav is an ancient stepwell situated in the town of Patan. It was built during the rule of the Chalukyas dynasty.
It is located on the banks of the Saraswati river. It was rediscovered in the 1940s and restored in the 1980s by the Archaeological Survey of India. Rani ki vav has been declared a Monument of National Importance and protected by ASI
It was added to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites on 22 June 2014. It won India’s “Cleanest Iconic Place” at the 2016 Indian Sanitation Conference
One of the finest and one of the largest examples of its kind, the inverted water temple is designed to highlight the sanctity of water, the stepwell is split into seven levels of stairs, with over 500 principal sculptures intertwining religious, mythological and secular imagery
Ramappa temple, Telangana
The Ramappa Temple, also known as the Rudreshwara (Lord Siva) temple, is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the state of Telangana in southern India. It is 66 km away from Warangal, 15km from Mulugu and 209 km away from Hyderabad.
The town of Palampet can be found in the Venkatapur village of the Mulugu district, a small and once prosperous town during the 13th and 14th centuries.
An inscription found in the temple itself places the construction of the temple to 1213 CE while also mentioning that it was built by a Kakatiya general named Recharla Rudra under Ganapati Deva’s rule.
Marco Polo, in his visit to the Kakatiya empire, famously called the temple “the brightest star in the galaxy of temples”
Ramappa Temple graces the countryside with its presence, with a 6-foot (1.8 m) high star-shaped platform that envelopes visitors in an experience where light and space are brought to life by the superb carving designed it.
The temple was included in the proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site “The Glorious Kakatiya Temples and Gateways”, in 2019 on the tentative list.
UNESCO accepted the proposal on 10 September 2015. They were approved as a world heritage site on 25 July 2021 under the category ‘Kakatiya Rudreswara (Ramappa) Temple, Telangana’.
Nalanda University, Bihar
Located in the ancient kingdom of Magadha, Nalanda was a renowned Buddhist university.
The ruins of Nalanda are located about 95km southeast of Patna. It was a great centre for learning from the 5th century BCE to 1200 CE and it is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The first Nalanda was a prosperous village by a major trade route running nearby the capital of Magadha. The Jain Tirthankara, Mahavira, spent 14 rainy seasons at Nalanda.
Pali was originally the main language used in Buddhist texts. A Mahavihara, or revered Buddhist monastery, is described as having this language.
The Nalanda university achieved fame during ancient times and became iconic due to its contribution to India becoming a major player in the fourth century.
Gautama Buddha too is said to have delivered lectures in a nearby mango grove named Pavarika and one of his two chief disciples, Shariputra, was born in the area and later attained nirvana there
Ajanta & Ellora Caves, Aurangabad
The Buddhist Caves at Ajanta are carved out of rock and were made over a period of about 800 years. They’re cut into hundreds of temples, gardens & courtyards, spanning from 44 to 230 CE.
The caves have some of the finest examples of ancient Indian art. The paintings and rock-cut sculptures are some of the best in existence.
The Ajanta Caves are ancient monasteries and worship-halls of different Buddhist traditions carved into a 75-metre (246 ft) rock wall.
Not only is this a great place to take in a bit of history, but the caves also feature paintings & sculptures that depict Buddhist lifetimes.
It appears that these caves were also used as a monsoon retreat for monks. There are also traces of merchants & pilgrims resting there in ancient India.
The Ellora Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage site and helped get India on the map as far as ancient Buddhist monuments go. The caves feature Hindu art and a few Buddhist & Jain artefacts.
Cave 16 is the largest carved rock and contains one monument, the Kailash Temple. It celebrates Lord Shiva’s statue.
The Kailash temple excavation features sculptures of Hindu gods & goddesses as well as relief panels summarizing the Hindu Epics.