UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India 2020

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Welcome to DataFlair Tutorial on UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. This list is as of 2020 and will help School students and Competitive exams like UPSC, IAS etc.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites of India

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UNESCO World Heritage Sites of India

UNESCO(United Nations Educational and Cultural Organisation) Established in 1972, UNESCO World Heritage and Culture recognize different sites across countries all over the world. This is done to uphold cultural significance, tradition, and heritage. India has 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites – out of which 30 sites are cultural sites, 7 are natural sites and 1 is from mixed-criteria sites, making India the 6th largest number of sites in the world. The sites are –

1. Ajanta Caves in India (Maharashtra)

Built during the 2nd century BC to the 6th century, these Buddhist caves were built over two phases (time period). The first one was during Emperor Ashoka’s reign, and the second one was during Gupta’s reign. There are 31 rock-cut caves depicting sculptures of Buddhism from Sri Lanka.

2. Ellora Caves in India (Maharashtra)

These caves have carvings that consist of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Built during 600 – 1000 AD, these consist of 34 caves and temples stretching for over 2 km.

3. Agra Fort in India (Uttar Pradesh)

Built in the 16th century, by the Mughal emperor – Akbar, this historical site can be referred to as the second Red Fort. Located on the right bank of the river Yamuna in Agra, it is built in red sandstone stretching for about 2.5 km.

4. Taj Mahal in India (Uttar Pradesh)

Also located in Agra, this was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, in the 17th century in memory of his wife Mumtaz. This site is listed as one of the seven wonders of the world. Built-in marble, the Taj Mahal depicts a fusion of Islamic, Persian, and Indian architecture. The chief architect was Ustad Ahman Lahauri; it stands amidst the Mughal Gardens and on the right bank of the Yamuna River, it covers 42 hectares.

5. Sun Temple in India (Orissa)

Located in Konark in Orissa, it was built in the 13th century by King Narasimhadeva of the Eastern Ganges Dynasty. It is structured in such a way that it depicts the Sun God of the Hindu mythology (Surya), with its 24 wheels chariot. This is considered as the largest brahmin sanctuaries in India. It shows the Kalinga architecture which prevailed during that reign.

6. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram in India

Located in Tamil Nadu, it was built by Pallava kings in the 7th and 8th centuries. The temple town has approximately 40 monuments. The monuments have been carved out of rock along the Coromandel Coast. It was included in the UNESCO World Heritage site list in 1984.

7. Kaziranga National Park in India

Located in Assam, it was included in the list in 1985 for its unique natural habitat. It is home to the famous one-horned rhinoceros and other mammals and birds. It stretches over 100,000 acres and has the largest one-horned rhino population.

8. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary in India

Situated in Assam, it is located in the foothills of the Himalayas and the Manas River. It shares its part with Manas wildlife sanctuary in Bhutan. It was included in the UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985 for its unique natural environment. This is home to endangered species like tiger, pygmy hog, clouded leopard, sloth bear, wild buffaloes and rhinoceros, elephants and Bengal florican.

9. Keoladeo National Park in India

Located in Rajasthan in the district of Bharatpur, is mostly known for its variety of exotic migrating birds. Animals such as Nilgai, chital deer, and feral cattle are found here, however, sambar can be spotted with some difficulty. This place has man-made wetlands as well.

10. Khajuraho in India

Located in Madhya Pradesh, this group of Hindu and Jain temples is known for its Nagara style symbolism and erotic figures and sculptures. Most of the temples were built between 905-1050CE during Chandella’s reign. It consists of 85 temples spread over 20 km.

11. Hampi in India

Located in Karnataka, it lies within the ancient ruins of the kingdom Vijaynagar. Hampi was the capital of Vijaynagar It is built in Dravidian style. Virupaksha Temple is an important centre for religious culture for Hindus. Other important temples are – Krishna temple complex, Narasimha, Ganesa, Hemakuta group of temples, Lotus Mahal complex.

12. Bodh Gaya in India

Located in Bihar, this place consists of the Bodhi Tree which was the tree under which Lord Buddha was enlightened. The famous Mahabodhi Temple was established by Emperor Ashoka in 250 BC. Owing to its surroundings full of temples and auspicious deeds, this is a famous pilgrimage site for many Buddhists.

13. Red Fort in India

Located in Delhi, this was constructed by Shah Jahan during his reign when he shifted his capital from Agra to Delhi. Built of red sandstone this structure showcases the fusion of Indo-Islamic, Persian, and Muslim architecture. This place also became an important hub for politics during the Mughal era.

14. Sanchi in India

Located in Madhya Pradesh (46kms northeast of Bhopal) this was built by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd Century. It is a semi-circular stupa in which the relics of Buddha are kept. Apart from Sanchi stupa, other monuments also exist here. This was listed under the UNESCO World Heritage due to its rich cultural roots which trace back to Buddhism and the Mauryan Empire.

15. Chola Temples in India

Located in Tamil Nadu, the temples were constructed during the Chola Dynasty during the 11th-12th century. They display Dravidian Architecture as well. The temples are – Brihadisvara Temples at Thanjavur, Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram. These temples show architecture splendor and showcase the beautiful art of the Chola Empire. The temples are an inseparable part of the Tamils’ culture and beliefs.

16. Sunderbans National Park in India

The majority of its portion in Bangladesh, this national park in West Bengal has mangrove trees (Sundari) surviving via the breathing roots. This park sees the National Animal of India – the Royal Bengal Tiger surviving in its natural habitat. Many birds migrate to this region of Bengal during the winter.

17. Humayun’s Tomb in India

Located in Delhi, one can see a pavilion, water channels, and a bath here. Built by the first wife of Humayun – Begum Bega in 1565-1572, this structure is the only monument to have gone through several restorations.

18. Jantar Mantra in India

Located in Jaipur, Rajasthan, this astronomical observatory was built in the 18th century by Rajput ruler Sawai Jai Singh. This has 19 astronomical instruments in it, including the world’s largest sundial stone.

19. Agra Fort in India

Located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, it was built by Akbar in 1565-75. .It encloses Jahangir Mahal, Khass Mahal, Diwan-i-Khass, Diwan-i-Am, Machchhi Bhawan, and Moti Masjid, with its 70ft wall made of red sandstone. This fort’s architecture can be seen as a fusion of the Persian form of Timurid and Indian style.

20. Fatehpur Sikri in India

Located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, this was built by Akbar, in 1571-85; it is made of red sandstone. There are special monuments here – Buland Darwaza, Diwan-i-Khass, Panch Mahal, Tomb of Salim Chisti, the Palace of Jodha Bai, Birbal Bhawan, Diwan-i-Aam and Karawan Serai.

21. Rani ki Vav in India

Located in Patan, Gujarat, this was constructed in the 3rd Millenium BC. It was constructed in the Solanki dynasty. It is famous for its stepped corridors, stone carvings on the wall, and sculptures. The carvings on the well are devoted to Lord Krishna, the carvings denoting his ten avatars. This was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2014.

22. Group of monuments at Pattadakal

Located in Karnataka, it is famous for its Chalukya style of architecture. Constructed by Chalukya rulers, it includes eight temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Jain, and Shaivite sanctuaries. Pattadakal was the capital for the Chalukya empire. The architecture is a fusion of Nagara and Dravidian style.

23. Elephanta Caves in India

Located in Maharashtra, not far away from Mumbai, it is situated in an island on the Arabian Sea. The chain of caves located on Elephanta Island is known as Gharapuri. The most important cave is cave 1 which depicts Shiva as the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer of the universe. Mostly all the caves have rock-cut carvings depicting Lord Shiva as the destroyer and creator of the universe.

24. Nalanda University in India

Located in Bihar, Nalanda, it was the world’s first University. It was built by the Guptas; this university hosted foreign students like Hueng Tsang. However, this university was destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1193. 800 years later, in 2006, Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam (then President of India) initiated the idea of reconstructing it.

25. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (formerly known as Victoria Terminus)

Headquarters of Central Railway in Mumbai, Maharashtra, was constructed by Frederick William Stevens. This structure derives its inspiration from Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and traditional Mughal structures in the 19th century.

26. Mountain Railways of India

The Indian Mountain Railways are a collective representation of trains across three regions – Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (in the Indian Northern Himalayas), Kalka -Shimla Railway (Northern Himalayas) and Nilgiri Mountain Railway (Darjeeling). It signifies the tremendous skill in forming railways in over the rugged Himalayas and mountains.

27. Champaner in India

Pavagadh Archaeological Park – Located in the district of Panchmahal in Gujarat, this was built by Sultan Mahmud Begada. This is the only complete unchanged Islamic pre-Mughal city. There are 11 different forms of heritage here – mosques, temples, tombs, gateways, pavilions, helical walls, custom house sale belonging to the 16th century.

28. Great Himalayan National Park in India

Located in Himachal Pradesh, this park is home to Snow Leopard, Himalayan Brown Bear, Blue Sheep, Musk Deer, and Himalayan Thar. It also houses 181 species of birds, and many more species of reptiles, annelids, amphibians, and insects.

29. Hill Forts of Rajasthan in India

Built from the 7th to 16th century, the hill forts consist of 6 enormous forts – Jaisalmer Fort, Chittorgarh Fort, Kumbhalgarh Fort, Ranthambore Fort, Gagron Fort, and Amber fort. This structure signifies the Rajput Military defense architecture. Many famous movies have been shot here. “The Dark Knight”, “Shonnar Kella” and other famous films were shot here.

30. Churches and Convents of Goa in India

During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Portuguese came to India. It includes St. Catherine’s Chapel, Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, Basilica do Bom Jesus, Igreja de San Francisco de Assis, Church of St. Cajetan and its seminary, Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and Church of St. Augustine. The Portuguese introduced Christianity in India. They built the monuments to evangelize. These unique, beautiful forms signify the cultural depth. They are present in Goa.

31. Rock Shelter of Bhimbetka in India

Located in Madhya Pradesh, this site signifies the earliest traces of human life in the Indian subcontinent. Situated at the foothills of the Vindhya Ranges, they are the archeological site for the Mesolithic period.

32. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks in India

Located in Uttarakhand, this place is famous for its snow leopard, black bear, brown bear, blue sheep, and Himalayan Monal. Nanda Devi is the highest mountain peak in Uttarakhand and India. The Valley of flowers stretches over an area of 15 sq. km and is the home to a different variety of flowers and fauna.

33. Western Ghats in India

Also known as the Sahyadri Range, this range lies along the western coast of India. It is among the “Hottest Biodiversity hotspots”. This has many national parks, wildlife sanctuaries in it. It is home to many species and especially elephants and tigers.

34. Kanchenjunga National Park in India

Located in Sikkim, this park includes the Kanchenjunga peak which is the 3rd highest peak in the world. This park is famous for its flora and fauna; the snow leopard is rarely seen.

35. Capital Complex in India

Located in Chandigarh, Le Corbusier, is an example of splendid modern architecture. This place hosts the Legislative Assembly for both the states of Haryana and Punjab, High Court, and the Secretariat.

36. Ahmedabad

Situated in Gujarat, this city was the first city to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was included in the year 2017. The city is extremely rich in culture, tradition and the densely packed transportation speak a lot.

37. The Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai

Located in Mumbai, Maharashtra, this is a collection of 94 buildings which are of great cultural importance in India. This was added to the list in 2018.

38. Jaipur

Also known as the Pink City, the capital of Rajasthan, this city is home to famous Bazaars like Bapu Bazaar, Tripolia Bazaar, and Johri Bazaar. This city itself is home to a few UNESCO World Heritage sites like Amer Fort, Jantar Mantar. It is surrounded by forts, walls which bring the hue pink.

39. Kumbh Mela in India

This was included in the list in 2017. This happens in 4 different places every three years. The 4 places where it is celebrated are – Haridwar, Ujjain, Allahabad, and Nasik. This Mela is an extremely important site for pilgrimage for Indians.


So finally we have seen the various UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. UNESCO has actively participated in preserving heritage, traditions, and culture amongst countries. In a country like India where varied culture thrives, these sites have been active tourist spots hence generated revenue.

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