India has a glorious history dating back to 5000 years and has been the seat of some early civilizations in the world. India has been considered as the land of ancient history and heritage due to the presence of several historic kingdoms, noble rulers, spiritual gurus, and cultures. They all left their unique imprints in the form of heritage sites dotted all over the country, from east to west and north to south. India has now 35 World Heritage Sites listed by UNESCO and is considered as the biggest attractions among international tourists visiting India. Some of these heritage sites are at least 1000 years old and are still retain their old charm and rich legacy.
Here is the list of 7 heritage sites in India which are at least 1000 years old:
Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
Khajuraho is an ancient city located in the heart of India- Madhya Pradesh and is well known all over the world for its beautiful temples. Khajuraho Group of Monuments, attributed to the Chandela dynasty, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 CE for its unique original artistic creation. It consists of total 85 temples out of which only 22 have survived, belonging to Hinduism and Jainism. Built between 950 to 1050 CE under the reign of the Chandela dynasty, the monuments of Khajuraho are famous for their nagara-style architecture, grand structures, and their erotic sculptures. The stone carvings in erotic poses are very artistically portrayed and stand testimony to the rich cultural heritage of India.
Ajanta & Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
Ajanta and Ellora Caves are ancient rock-cut Buddhist caves and are considered as the most outstanding heritage monuments in India. Dating back to 2nd century BC, Ajanta Caves mainly consist of 31 rock-cut monuments dedicated to the ancient Buddhist traditions. Built over two periods under the Satavahana and Vataka dynasties, these UNESCO World Heritage Sites comprise some of the awe-inspiring paintings and sculptures of Buddhist religious art. The Ellora Cave complex comprises of 34 rock-cut caves dating back from 600 to 1000 AD. These were a cultural mix of religious arts of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. The most remarkable Kailash Temple, also known as Cave-16, is the central attraction at Ellora.
Spread over an area of 14 hectares, Nalanda Mahavira is an ancient seat of learning and a Buddhist monastery situated in Bihar. Nalanda was among the oldest and largest universities of its time serving more than 10,000 students. It is the second world heritage site recognized by UNESCO in Bihar after Bodh Gaya. Built in the 5th century AD, it comprises the archaeological remains of learning centers, monasteries, and a gigantic library dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 12th century CE. The ruins of Nalanda is said to be one of the world’s oldest universities and attract tourists from far and wide.
Chola Temples, Tamilnadu
The Great Living Chola Temples were built during the 11th and 12th centuries CE by the kings of Chola dynasty in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This group consists of three temples namely Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. Built-in Dravidian style, these temples stand testimony to the architectural splendor and beauty of Chola art and sculpture.
The Brihadeeswarar Temple was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987 and the other two temples were added as extensions to the site in 2004. Brihadeeswarar Temple was built by King Raja Raja Chola I and is one of the most visited temples in Tamil Nadu even today. The Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple was patronized by Rajendra I while the Darasuram Temple was built by Raja Raja II. These three temples are living temples and the rituals and festivities are still observed.
Located on the banks of Malaprabha River, Pattadakal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and also one of the popular tourist destinations in Karnataka. Also known as ‘City of Crown Rubies’, the Group of Monuments at Pattadakal are famous for Chalukya style of architecture that was originated in Aihole. Built by Chalukya rulers between 6th & 8th centuries, the Group of Monuments at Pattadakal consist of 10 temples out of these nine are Hindu temples and the remaining one is a Jain sanctuary. These temples were built in a remarkable fusion of Nagara and the Dravidian architectural features. Pattadakal is considered as a laboratory of South Indian temple architecture, which is still followed in the temple construction in India.
Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
Mahabalipuram, also called Mamallapuram, in Tamil Nadu is famous for its group of monuments built by Pallavas in the 7th and 8th centuries AD. Mahabalipuram was the second capital of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram and the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram were designated as a UNESCO site in 1984 AD. These monuments at Mahabalipuram have been carved out of rock along the Coromandel Coast. Shore Temple, Arjuna Penance, and Pancha Rathas are the must-visit monuments in Mahabalipuram. The mandapas and the Pancha Rathas are made from the granite rock face, while the Shore Temple was built as a structured temple with huge blocks of rocks following wonderful architecture.
About the Author:
Santhi Sadda is a frequent traveler who works with popular online travel portal, Trawell.in. She loves visiting scenic & historical sites and share her experiences. She already visited most of the popular tourist places in India & in a quest to visit all UNESCO sites in India by 2018.