Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India

A trip to this exotic destination wouldn’t be complete without experiencing some of these World Heritage Sites in India.

India is the world’s second-most populous country and its largest democracy. Indian civilization predates that of Europe, and the vast South Asian country is home to a dizzying mélange of geography, climate, culture, language and ethnicity. UNESCO has recognized India’s diversity, denoting 32 landmarks, archaeological ruins and other sites of great physical and cultural significance as World Heritage Sites. While they’re all stunning hallmarks of the common heritage of humanity, these eight should appear on everyone’s bucket list.

  • UNESCO World heritage site in India Sanchi

    Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi


    The World Heritage Site in India at Sanchi is the oldest extant Buddhist sanctuary in the world. The monolithic pillars, monuments, palaces, temples and monasteries make it an unrivaled masterpiece of early Buddhist art. The sculptured decorative work on the massive gateways to the stupa meditation sites is especially stunning; the Great Stupa is the oldest stone structure in India, dating to the third century B.C.

    Photo Credit: iStock

  • World Heritage Site in India Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park

    Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park


    Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is a World Heritage Site in India built around the historical city of Champaner, the only complete and unchanged pre-Mughal Islamic city. The concentration of largely unexcavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties is cradled in an impressive, fort-studded landscape that includes the remains of a 16th-century Hindu capital and pre-Copper Age sites. The Kalikamata Temple on top of Pavagadh Hill, thought to be an important shrine, attracts large numbers of pilgrims throughout the year.

    Photo Credit: UNESCO

  • World Heritage Site in India Chhatrapati Shijavi Terminus

    Chhatrapati Shijavi Terminus


    The train station, built in 1878 and still used by some three million commuters daily, is a brilliant blend of two cultures. British architects worked with Indian craftsmen on this World Heritage Site in India to include traditional Indian palace architecture—including a remarkable stone dome and pointed arches covered in ornate grotesques—in the station’s Victorian Gothic revival façade.

    Photo Credit: eStock

  • World Heritage Site in India Elephanta Caves

    Elephanta Caves


    The so-called City of Caves, on an island a ferry ride away from Mumbai, is a seventh-century cave temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and filled with exquisite carvings and standing sculptures hewn from the solid rock of the hillsides. The 15 huge, high reliefs surrounding the lingam chapel in the main cave at this World Heritage Site in India constitute not only one of the greatest examples of Indian art but also one of the most important collections for the cult of Shiva.

    Photo Credit: eStock

  • World Heritage Site in India group of monuments at Hampi

    Group of Monuments at Hampi


    The austere, grandiose World Heritage Site in India of Hampi, surrounded by verdant banana plantations, was the last capital of the last great Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar. Archaeologists estimate the city was home to about 250,000 people, which would have made it the largest city in the world. Besides the magnificent Virupaksha Temple, there are several fascinating structures, including the Lotus Mahal, the geometrically intricate Stepped Tank, and the iconic stone chariot, pulled by little stone elephants.

    Photo Credit: UNESCO

  • World Heritage Site in India Red Fort

    Red Fort Complex


    A landmark 17th-century Mughal fortress built in towering red sandstone, the Red Fort is now a complex of museums. The vaulted arcade of Chatta Chowk, a bazaar selling tourist trinkets, leads into the huge fort compound. Inside of this World Heritage Site in India is a veritable trove of buildings, including the Drum House, the Hall of Public Audiences, the white marble Hall of Private Audiences, the Pearl Mosque, the Royal Baths and the Palace of Color. Also cool: The prime minister of India addresses the nation from there.

    Photo Credit: Alamy

  • World Heritage Site in India Sun Temple Konark

    Sun Temple Konârak


    When the poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote that “here the language of stone surpasses the language of man,” he was referring to the magnificent Sun Temple and World Heritage Site in India. Bathed in the rays of the sun that reflect off the Bay of Bengal, the temple at Konârak is, literally, a monumental representation of the chariot of the sun god, Surya. Built in the 13th century and decorated in detailed reliefs, the temple, also called the Black Pagoda, is the culmination of Kalingan architecture, with all its defining elements in complete and perfect form.

    Photo Credit: iStock

  • World Heritage Site in India Taj Mahal

    Taj Mahal
    One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the spellbinding Taj Mahal is, indeed, the most important World Heritage Site in India. An immense mausoleum built of white marble, it is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage. The color combination of the lush green landscape, the reddish pathway and the blue sky overhead enhances the Taj Mahal’s architectonic beauty, a rhythmic combination of convex and concave, solids and voids, light and shadow.

    Photo Credit: eStock

  • UNESCO World heritage site in India Sanchi
  • World Heritage Site in India Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
  • World Heritage Site in India Chhatrapati Shijavi Terminus
  • World Heritage Site in India Elephanta Caves
  • World Heritage Site in India group of monuments at Hampi
  • World Heritage Site in India Red Fort
  • World Heritage Site in India Sun Temple Konark
  • World Heritage Site in India Taj Mahal

Travel to India on the nine-day guided AAA Vacations “A Week in India” tour. Go to AAA.com to view the trip itinerary or call 877-396-7159 to speak to a AAA Travel Counselor.

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David Kallas, AAA Travel Counselor, Murray, Utah

I'm all about once-in-a-lifetime trips to destinations such as the Cook Islands, Australia or an African safari. I love to plan trips that my clients return from not regretting anything.

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