Heritage Monuments of India

The Sun Temple of Konark:
The Sun Temple of Konark in Orissa is a 13th century sandstone temple dedicated to the Sun God.  It was built by king Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty and is a magnificent example of Odissi architecture. The entire complex was designed in the form of Surya’s huge chariot with twelve pairs of exquisitely decorated wheels, drawn by seven spirited horses. The spokes of the wheels serve as sundials and the shadows cast by these give you the precise time of the day. The pyramidal roof soars to over 98 ft in height. The temple also has erotic sculptures similar to those found at Khajuraho.  
Chittorgarh Fort:
Chittorgarh is the largest fort in India. Situated in Rajasthan and built by descendants of the Maurya Dynasty in the 7th century AD, Chittor came to be ruled by the famous clan of Suryavanshi Rajputs later. The fort sprawls majestically over a hill, 591 ft in height, spread over an area of 692 acres above the plains of the valley drained by the Berach River. The fort precinct, with an evocative history, is studded with a series of historical palaces, gates, temples and two prominent commemoration towers. Emperor Akbar finally wrested it from Rana Uday Singh in 1567 AD. 
The Golden Temple:
Located at Amritsar in Punjab, the Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple is a prominent Sikh Gurudwara built by the 5th Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Arjan Dev in the 16th century. In 1604, he completed the Adi Granth, The holy scripture of Sikhism, and installed it in the Gurudwara. There are four doors to the Harmandir Sahib that symbolise the openness of the Sikhs towards all the people and religions. The present day Gurudwara was rebuilt in 1764 by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. In the early 19th century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh secured Punjab from external enemies and covered the upper floors of the Gurudwara with gold, which gives it distinctive appearance and English name ‘ The Golden Temple’.
Qutub Minar:
Commenced by Sultan Qutab-ud-din Albak in 1192 AD and completed by IItutmish, the Qutab Minar is constructed with red sandstone and marble and is the tallest minaret in India, with a height of 238 ft. It has 379 stairs leading up to the top and a base diameter of 14.3 metres. The Sultan wanted to construct a monument that would immortalize his memory for posterity. It is India’s most visited monument attracting around 3.9 million visitors every year. The Minar has been repaired many times by many rulers since its inception and has survived the ravages of time rather impressively.
The Chola Temples:
Bearing witness to the glory of the once flourishing Chola Empire in Tamil Nadu, the Chola Temples stand unrivalled as examples of Dravidian architecture. The most important and the biggest of these, the Brihadeeshvara temple in Thanjavoor, was commissioned by the very famous Raja Chola himself. Built of solid granite over a period of 200 years, from the 10th to the 12th century AD, these temples bear testimony to the brilliant achievements of the Cholas in architecture, sculpting, painting and bronze casting.
Agra Fort:
Originally built of brick, the Agra fort was earlier held by the Hindu Sikriwal Rajputs. Babur the Mughal, seized it after his victory over Sultan Ibrahin Lodhi and then on, the fort became the residence and capital of the Mughals. Every Mughal emperor went on embellishing the fort with new constructions, so as to make it a brilliant showcase of Indo-Persian architecture. Located on the banks of the river Yamuna, the 94 acre settlement was one of the most robust strongholds of India, with its ramparts rising to over 70 feet in height.
The Stupa of Sanchi:
The ‘Great Stupa’ of Sanchi is the oldest stone structure in India and was originally commissioned by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. Situated near Bhopal, the Stupa’s nucleus is a simple hemispherical brick structure parasol-like structure symbolising high rank, which was intended to honour and shelter the relics. It has four intricately carved ornamental gateways and a balustrade encircling the whole structure. It is the most important pilgrimage destination for the Buddhists in India.
Fatehpur Sikri
The city of Sikri was originally held by the Sikriwal Rajputs. Akbar, the third Mughal, captured it and named it Fatehgarh or the ‘City of Victory’. He shifted his capital from Agra to Fatehpur for a brief period and took keen interest in planning the construction of the city as a tribute to the great sufi, Salim Chishti, whose blessing bore him his eldest son Salim or Jahangir, as he was later known. Built out of red sandstone, Fatehpur Sikri reflects the genius of Akbar in assimilating diverse regional architectural influences within a holistic style that was uniquely his own. 
The Mahabodhi Temple: 

The Mahabodhi Temple or the temple of the ‘Great Awakening’ at Bodh Gaya, Bihar is built next to the Bodhi tree underneath which Siddhartha Gautama is said to have attained enlightenment and become ‘The Buddha’. Situated about 100 kms away from Patna, This temple built in traditional Dravidian architecture is said to have been founded by Emperor Ashoka in 250 BC, about 200 years after the Buddha attained enlightenment. Ashoka commissioned the ‘Vajraasana’ or the diamond throne beneath the Mahabodhi tree. 
Ellora Caves:
Built by the kings of the Rashtrakuta Dynsaty, between the 5th and 10th century AD. The Ellora Caves are the epitome of Indian rock out architecture. These are 34 Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave temples beautifully sculpted, representing the religious harmony prevalent during the period. Situated about 30 km away from the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, the greatest attraction of Ellora is the Kailasa temple, the world’s largest monolithic sculpture that covers an area double the size of the Parthenon in Athens. Initially the temple was covered with white plaster, thus further increasing the similarity to the snow covered Mount Kailasa
The Temples of Mahabalipuram:
Considered an extremely important city during the region of the Pallava Dynasty. Mahabalipuram or Mahamallapuram, as it was originally called is named after Narasimhavarman, who took on the epithet of ‘Maha Malla’, as the favourite sport of the Pallavas was wrestling. The constitute cave temples, chariots, sculpted reliefs and structural temples, all serving as excellent examples of Pallava art.
Taj Mahal
Considered to be the greatest testimony of man’s love for woman, the Taj Mahal at Agra is India’s pride and one of the greatest wonders of the world. Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his third wife, Mumtaz, The Taj Mahal is a marble mausoleum, built in a seamless blending of Indian, Persian, Turkish and Mughal architecture. It took 22 years and over 20,000 workers to build it. Its principal architect was Ustad Ahmed Lahoori and it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan.
The Remains of Hampi:
Situated in northern Karnataka, the remains of Hampi bear testimony to a glorious bygone era, the era that saw the rise and fall of the great vijayanagara Empire. Most of the sites at Hampi were built during the 16th century under the region of king Krishnadevaraya.  Hampi continues to be an important religious centre, being home to the virupaksha temple, The patron deity of the vijayanagara rulers, as well as several other monuments that belong to the old city. The city derived its name from Pampa, which is the old name of the Tungabhadra River on whose banks it is built. 
Golconda Fort:
Situated in Andhra Pradesh and originally built in 1143 AD by kings of the Kakatiya clan, the citadel of Golconda later served as the capital of the Bahmani Sultanat and the Qutab Shahi Kings. Considered a marvel in military architecture, the fortress is built on a granite hill that is 400 ft high and surrounded by massive ramparts. It has a perfect acoustic system by which a hand clap sounded at the main gates can be heard at the top of the citadel, The qutab shahis extended the fort’s outer wall to over 7 kms. The city was then them a focal point for the shia islam order in india.
The Statue of Gomateshwara:
Shravanabelagola or the ‘white pond’ in Karnataka is the most important Jain pilgrimage destination. In this town, the 57 ft tall monolithic statue of Gomateshwara is located on Vindyagiri hill. It is considered to be the world’s largest monolithic stone statue. The inscriptions at the base of the statue, dating back to 981 AD, praise the king of Western Ganga Dynasty, Once in every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the ‘Mahamastaakabhisheka’ , a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is bathed with milk, curd, ghee, saffron and gold coins.
The Temple of Khajuraho
Built by the kings of the Chandela Dynasty over a period of 200 years, from 950 – 1150 AD, the Khajuraho temples stand unparallel as India’s most elaborate tribute to eroticism and passion. Situated at Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh, these temples and their sculptures unabashedly celebrate the essence and the myriad hues of human sexuality. Built of sandstone and tenon joints, these megalithis house various Hindu and Jain deities. Spread across 20 sq kms, the temples exemplify every posture of love-making expounded by the ‘kamasutra’. Sadly only 25 of the 80 temples are in a state of decent preservation.
This architectural brilliance was constructed during the region of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 AD. This monument was built to commemorate the eradication of an epidemic of plague from the new city when the shah had shifted his capital from Golconda to Hyderabad. It is in fact a mosque and is built at the very place where the shah had offered prayers to Allah, asking him to rid the city of the plague. Built in classic Islamic architecture, the structure came to be known as Charminar as it has four minarets.
Humayun’s Tomb:
The very first garden mausoleum to be built on the Indian sub continent, the construction of the second Mughal Emperor Humayun’s tomb was commissioned in 1562 AD by his wife Hamida Banu Begum and was designed by Mirak Mirza, a Persian architect. It was the first structure to use red sandstone in such a scale. Located on the banks of the river Yamuna in Delhi, This structure is a magnificent piece of architecture that took almost 9 years to complete. It also houses the tomb of Hamida Banu Begum and Prince Dara Shukoh, the eldest son of the later Emperor Shah Jahan
Jama Masjid
The Masjid-e-Jahan-Numa or ‘The mosque that reflects the world’, also commonly known as the Jama Masjid is the principal mosque of the old Delhi in India. Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1650 AD, it was completed in the year 1656 AD. It is the largest and the most well known mosque in India. The courtyard of the mosque can hold up to 25,000 worshippers. It also houses several relics including an antique copy of the quran written on deer skin.
Hawa Mahal:
The Hawa Mahal or ‘The Palace of Breeze’ in Jaipur was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawal Pratap Singh, and designed by Lal Chand Ustad in the form of the crown of Lord Krishna.  Built of red and pink sandstone, its unique five-storey exterior is akin to a honeymcomb with its 953 small windows called ‘Jharokhas’ that are decorated with intricate latticework. The original intention of the lattice was to enable royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to observe strict ‘Purdah’. The jharokas make the interiors of the palace extremely breezy.  The Mahal’s golden hue when viewed in early sunrise is absolutely breathtaking.
Vidhana Soudha:
The Vidhana Soudha, at Bangalore is the seat of the state legislature of Karnataka. It is an imposing building constructed in a style sometimes described as Neo-Dravidian, and incorporates elements of Indo-Saracenic and Dravidian architecture. Its construction was completed in 1956. Shri Kengal Hanumanthaiah is credited with the achievement of converting the earlier Residency Building into this magnificent historical landmark. Its foundation stone was laid by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru himself. It is the largest Secretarist in India.
Victoria Terminus:
Designed by Frederick William stevens with influences from Victorian, Italian, Gothic, Revival, Mughal and Hindu traditional architecture, Victoria Terminus the headquarters of the erstwhile Great Indian Peninsular Railway, was built in 1987 in the Bori Bunder area of Bombay to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. One of British India’s greatest works of art, today it serves as both a terminal for long distance and commuter trains of the Mumbai Suburban Railway. Its name was changed to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in 1996.
Velankanni Church:
Velankanni or ‘The virgin of velai’ is a Roman Catholic shrine situated by the Bay of Bengal, about 350 kms from Chennai. Also known as the ‘Lourded of the East’, It is one of the most frequented religious sites in India. The Basilica of our lady of good health was built in the late 16th century with modifications by the Portuguese and later expanded due to the heavy influx of pilgrims. The church is an imposing building with inspiring Gothic architecture. While the whole structure has been painted white, in striking contrast, the roof of the church is made of red tiles. 


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