UNESCO World Heritage Sites In India

Sanchi's Great Stupa, a 3rd Century BC Buddhist site in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
Sanchi's Great Stupa, a 3rd Century BC Buddhist site in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) first began to inscribe its list of World Heritage Sites in 1972. This move was taken in order to preserve and protect the world’s most important cultural and natural sites. Today, India has 35 World Heritage Sites. Of these sites, 27 are cultural, 7 are natural, and 1 is of mixed importance. This article takes a look at some of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites of India. Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India can be seen listed in the chart below.

Agra Fort

The Agra Fort was the first site in India to be inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. This cultural site, a walled city, was built during the 16th Century and used as an imperial residence during the Mughal Dynasty. This site sits along a river and is surrounded by 70-foot tall walls. The Agra Fort covers 94 acres and consists of several red sandstone palaces, including the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal. The architecture here is considered a fusion of Persian and Indian styles. Four gates lead into the fort. Delhi Gate is the most famous of these, commissioned by Emperor Akbar in 1568. This gate has a wooden drawbridge for crossing the river, white marble inlays as decoration, and two life-sized stone elephant statues guarding the entrance. The Parachute Brigade of the Indian military continues to use this gate and a section of the Agra Fort.

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal may be the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Site located in India, and was also inscribed in 1983. It is located close to the previously mentioned Agra Fort and was built between 1681 and 1648 by Shah Jahan. He dedicated this beautiful building in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. This site is protected because it is the greatest example of Indo-Islamic architecture in the world. It is recognized by its white marble buildings with precious and semi-precious stones inlaid among all of the structures. Some of the structures include a mausoleum, a mosque, a guest house, gates, and gardens. The tomb is famous for its large dome and four minarets as well as the reflecting pool leading up to its entrance. The tombs of both Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are resting next to each other in the lower level of the building.

Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary

The Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Assam, a state in northeastern India. It is located along the border of the Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity hot spot and was inducted as a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. The environmental value of this area has been recognized since at least 1908, when it was protected as a reserved forest. This 170 square mile area became a National Park in 1974. Today, the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary harbors a population of 2,401 Indian one-horned rhinoceros, the largest in the country. In addition, this sanctuary was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006 because it is home to the highest concentration of tigers of any protected area in the world. Other animals living here include elephants, swamp deer, and water buffalo.

Prospective Future UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India

India is home to one of the highest numbers of UNESCO World Heritage Sites among the countries of the world. Its list is expected to continue growing. Currently, this country has a proposed list of an additional 43 sites. These sites have already been submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Committee for evaluation, a process known as pre-listing. Among these 43 sites are temples, palaces, national parks, waterways, and monuments.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites In India

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India Year of Inscription; Type
Agra Fort 1983; Cultural
Ajanta Caves 1983; Cultural
Bhimbetka Rock Shelters 2003; Cultural
Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park 2004; Cultural
Chandigarh Capitol Complex Modernist Architecture of Le Corbusier 2016; Cultural
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Terminus) 2004; Cultural
Chola's Great Living Temples 1987; Cultural
Elephanta Caves 1987; Cultural
Ellora Caves 1983; Cultural
Fatehpur Sikri 1986; Cultural
Goa's Churches and Convents 1986; Cultural
Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area 2014; Natural
Hampi Group of Monuments 1986; Cultural
Humayun's Tomb in Delhi 1993; Cultural
Kaziranga National Park 1985; Natural
Keoladeo National Park 1985; Natural
Khajuraho Group of Monuments 1986; Cultural
Khangchendzonga National Park 2016; Mixed
Konârak Sun Temple 1984; Cultural
Mahabalipuram Group of Monuments 1984; Cultural
Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya 2002; Cultural
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary 1985; Natural
Mountain Railways of India 1999; Cultural
Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) Archaeological Site in Bihar 2016; Cultural
Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks 1988; Natural
Pattadakal Group of Monuments 1987; Cultural
Qutb Minar and its Monuments in Delhi 1993; Cultural
Rajasthan's Hill Forts 2013; Cultural
Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan in Gujarat 2014; Cultural
Red Fort Complex 2007; Cultural
Sanchi Buddhist Monuments 1989; Cultural
Sundarbans National Park 1987; Natural
Taj Mahal 1983; Cultural
The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur 2010; Cultural
Western Ghats 2012; Natural

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