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20 Must-Visit Historical Places in India 

Introduction

Historical places of India are the platforms to narrate the rich diversity of all sorts that have been the peculiarity of the nation. The enriching cultural and traditional diaspora since ages and their evolution can be understood. Each historical place or monument has a story to narrate and retell that captivates its tourists or enthusiasts wanting more. Though these places boast their magnanimity, they are humble and welcoming to carry the legacy forward. Let’s look at some of the historical places in India.

Here are the 20 Must-visit historical places in India

Here are the most reputed places that revel in their own cultural and traditional significance, most of which are identified by UNESCO.

India Gate

This is a war memorial located near the Karthvaya Path on the eastern edge of New Delhi. This monument was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and built in 1921 for those who sacrificed their lives during WWI. The gate stands tall demanding respect and pride at 42 meters tall and bears over 13000 Indian and British soldiers who died in Afghan and world wars. The top of the gate is adorned with India’s national emblem, the Ashoka Chakra with the body resembling Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Made of Red Sandstone, the underneath arch glows an eternal flame symbolizing the sacrifice for the nation.

Agra Fort

This fort is located in the city of Agra, a historic fortress dating back to the 11th century. This architectural marvel was honed under the reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan started in 1565. The fort echoes the blend of Mughal, Persian, and Hindu styles built with Red Sandstone. The reach of the walls is up to 70 feet encircling about 94 acres. This fort houses palaces of Jahangir, built by Akbar, reflecting the fusion of Islamic and   Hindu designs. The beautiful and glimmering ‘Sheesh Mahal’ is a mirrored palace with ceilings and walls to behold within its weaving reflections. A place of historical stories, this offers panoramic views of the Taj Mahal which is located near the Yamuna River.

Red Fort

This is also known as ‘Lal Qila’, a historical fortress located in Delhi. Stands as a prime example of Mughal Architecture made of red sandstone in the 17th century. The walls of this fort span around 2.5 km. It served as a seat to the Emperor Shah Jahan who built it and was under the Mughal reigns for 200 years. The marble inlays and intricate interiors echo the blend of Persian, Timurid, and Indian architectural styles. The Red Fort is the nation’s pride to host a gathering every year on Independence Day to hoist the flag of the Prime Minister. The Lahore gate, Diwan-i-Aam, the Diwan-i-Khas, and the symbolic features like Chhatta Chowk and Nahr-i-Bihist are the attracting tourist spots to witness the rich heritage and culture.

Taj Mahal

A memory of the love that Emperor Shah Jahan holds dear to his beloved wife Mumtaz. This iconic white marble mausoleum is located in Agra, took over 20 years to reach its form which was started in 1632. The intricate and symmetrical designs and details are the reflection of Persian, Islamic, and Indian influences. The white marble changes its hue throughout the day, reflecting the sun and moonlight. Recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage status for its architectural perfection, holds a strong and yearning place to visit by any among their touring prospects to date. This monument with a central dome and four minarets, surrounded by lush gardens and glimmering pools.

Qutub Minar

A diverse cultural and traditional reflection of India can be witnessed through this minaret at a height of 73 meters. This is the tallest brick monument built of red sandstone and marble featuring 5 distinct stories with balconies. The construction spawns from 1192 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak (the first Muslim ruler of Delhi) till 1220 by his successor IItumish with the subsequent rulers adding their additions. This holds a rich cultural significance reflecting the rich history and influences of various dynasties that ruled Delhi. Qutub Minar is a major tourist attraction.

Fatehpur Sikri

This holds an immense historical significance as this is the former capital of the Mughal Empire during the reign of Emperor Akbar in the late 16th century. This is a blend of Persian, Timurid, and Indian architectural styles. The red sandstone structure was built by Akbar to honor the Sufi Saint Salim Chishti, who predicted the birth of Akbar’s heir. Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India within Fatehpur Sikri commemorating Akbar’s victory over Gujarat. The site stands as the Mughal architectural and cultural legacy, drawing tourists and historians alike.

Ajanta Caves

These caves are renowned for their ancient rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments, dating back to the 2nd century BCE covering about a 1000-year timeline continuing till 7th century CE. The cave is filled with 29 rock structures, monasteries, and prayer halls with vibrant murals and intricate structures. From daily life to religious stories, the interiors are painted with advanced techniques showcasing masterpieces known as ‘Frescoes’. The historical and artistic significance was brought forward by a British Officer’s rediscovery in 1819. These caves provide vital insights into the evolution of ancient Indian art and Buddhist culture.

Ellora Caves 

The caves showcase the blend of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist religious art constructed between the 6th and 10th centuries. These caves consist of 34 rock-out temples and monasteries with religious carvings. These caves are the epitome of religious diversities representing both Hindu and Jain cultures. One of the largest monolithic structures globally is Lord Shiva in Cave 16 is an artistic excellence to marvel with devotion at. Dynasties like Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, and Yadavas influences can be seen contributing to these cave designs. These caves offer an enriching experience to tourists with rich cultural and heritage significance. 

Elephanta Caves

The word ‘Elephant’ is believed to have originated from a Portuguese interpretation of a colossal elephant structure. Representing various aspects of Hindu Mythology and boasting impressive rock sculptures and architecture dedicated to Lord Shiva, caved during the 5th to 7th centuries. The main cave boasts the Shiva image in 3 primary forms creator, preservor, and destroyer. These caves suffered damage during the colonial era and vandalized many sculptures. Various restoration efforts have preserved the site’s historical grandeur. These caves attract tourists and historical enthusiasts with a captivating glimpse to cherish. 

Khajuraho

A group of ancient temples located in the Chhatrapjr district of Madhya Pradesh. The Nagara-style architecture with intricate carvings are built between 950 and 1050 CE. The temple features a remarkable and impactful array of erotic sculptures, depicting various aspects of human life with raw passion and intimate expressions of the Chandela dynasty. The complex consists of three groups of Western, Eastern, and Southern temples showcasing unique themes and architectural styles. Many temples with the Khajuraho carvings show the significance of spiritual importance. This place attracts a lot of tourists for its stunning and intricate artistry and stands as a testament to India’s rich cultural heritage.

Hampi

This site was once the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire that flourished from the 14th to 16th centuries. The ruins of Hampi are scattered across a vast landscape, featuring numerous temples, monuments, and ancient sculptures. This place showcases the rich cultural and religious heritage of the Vijayanagara era. The Virupaksha temple dedicated to Lord Shiva remains an active pilgrimage site and a marvel of Dravidian architecture. The intricate stone carvings of the Stone chariot at the Vittala Temple complex are a symbol of Hampi. Hemakuta and Matanga hills are spots to witness a heartbreaking sunrise with the backdrop of ancient rocky terrain.

Keoladeo National Park 

This is formerly known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary situated in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. It was once a royal hunting reserve during the 1850s where hunting games were conducted for Maharajas and the British. This historical place is now a heritage site with rich biodiversity and a crucial habitat for avian species. This is known to attract tourists with attractive migrating birds from various parts of the world. This encapsulates a diverse wetland with shallow lakes, marshes, and dense green vegetation. Serbian cranes, pelicans, and herons make this place a paradise along with mammals, reptiles, and amphibians dwelling within such rich biodiverse land. The park’s name is derived from the Lord Shiva’s temple within that area. This draws many nature enthusiasts, researchers, and tourists to witness such an environmental abode.

Charminar

This stands as renowned architecture showcasing rich cultural vibes at the heart of the city of Hyderabad. Built by Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah in 1951. It is a symbol to celebrate the end of the deadly plague in the region. This monument features 4 grand arches facing different directions with intricate ornamental details. The fusion of the Persian and Indian styles can be witnessed throughout the design. A small mosque atop the Charminar offers a serene space for prayers. The whole area offers a rich diversity and historical importance with the flashing lights glimmering at night adding charm to the Old City of Hyderabad.

Hawa Mahal

‘Palace of Winds’ is the literal translation of the name, an iconic and historical architecture located in Jaipur. Built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799, boasts a distinctive facade of 5-storey exterior features with 953 small windows, known as Jharokhas. The design is to accommodate royal women to have a peek at the streer festive without being seen. The windows keep the palace cool with air breezing through. The museum within presents royal clothing, artifacts, and relics providing insights into Maharajas and their lifestyles. This is a major tourist place to witness the culture and heritage. 

Mysore Palace

This is a magnificent structure as evidence of the grandeur of the Wodeyar dynasty, located in the heart of Mysuru, Karnataka. This palace is a rich blend of Indo-Saracenic, Rajput, Hindu, and Gothic architecture built in 1912. The interiors are designed intricately with exquisite paintings, carvings, and ornate ceilings. The interiors provide insights into the lifestyle and the precision of the craftsmen. This is hailed as one of the most attractive tourist places, especially during the Dasara festival, being illuminated and reflecting. This stands as a testament to the royal legacy and the cultural richness.

Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple

This is a significant pilgrimage site dedicated to Goddess Parvathi, known locally as Meenakshi, and her consort Lord Shiva Sundareshwar. This is located in the ancient city of Madurai, Tamilnadu. The boasting towering gopurams are adorned with intricate carvings depiction religious significance, renowned for their Dravidian architecture. The main sanctum is dedicated to the Goddess while a sacred tank called ‘Potramarai Kulam’ (Golden Lotus Tank) is a place to offer ceremonies and rituals. The Hall of Thousand Pillars is an architectural marvel with pillars and sculptures carved with precision. This temple not only hosts these devotees but also welcomes tourists showcasing humbly its carvings and structures.

Lepakshi

This is Located in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, renowned for the Veerabadhra Temple, a 16th-century architectural monument. This was built in the Vijayanagara Empire with intricate carvings dedicated to Lord Veerabadhra featuring a massive granite Nandi (Bull), a monolithic Nagalinga. The Nandi is a testament to ancient cultural and architectural expertise. A Hanging pillar is the most talked of as it defies gravity hanging without touching the ground. Unique features like the ‘Eyes of Viroopaksha’ and ‘Padmini Race Lady’ make this place a tourist attraction making it a  significant site in the Southern part of India. 

Pattadakal

Reflects the cultural impact and synthesis, this is a blend of Dravidian and Nagara styles with Chalukyan architecture. This is located in Karnataka, known for its remarkable collection of temples. Virupaksha, Mallikarjuna, and Papanatha temples make the largest and most elaborate constructions representing the expertise of craftsmanship and religious and cultural diversity. The evolution of the architecture is seen owing to the ‘Badami Chalukya Heritage’. This was once hailed as the coronation site for the kings. The legacy and the rich heritage are reflected through this standing as a testament to the old times. 

Golden Temple

The holiest shrine attracts many devotees and tourists every year and is situated in Amritsar, Punjab. This is also called ‘Harmandir Sahib’. The architecture is a blend of Islamic and Hindu in style with the golden leaf adorned with a majestic appearance. Surrounded by a sacred pool, known as ‘Amrit Sarovar’ offers a tranquil experience. This is often cited as a cultural place promoting equality, humility, and selfless service. The massive Langar(Kitchen) is renowned for offering free meals to people from all walks of life. The Golden Temple stands as a testament to Sikh’s unity, resilience, and enduring spirit. 

Sun Temple 

This is located in Konark, Odisha, and is dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, Surya. Built by the 13th century King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty. This is the masterpiece of Kalinga architecture, designed in the shape of a colossal chariot with intricately carved wheels and horses from stone. The stunning and explicit erotic sculptures depict various aspects of human life. Legend has it that the Sun God was once magnetized, causing ships to navigate by the temple’s magnetic force. The architecture reflects the scientific precision and advanced astronomical knowledge aligning solar and lunar movements. This place garners tourists’ attention for its architectural prowess. 

Importance of visiting the Historical places

  • These places serve as a tangible link to the bygone era.
  • They foster a sense of identity of one’s roots and origin with an inherent intent to foster continuity. 
  • Every place has a story to narrate regarding the significance of the period.
  • The bygone cultural and traditional intricacies can be found on the face of such monuments or structures.
  • They are the pride of that particular region’s people to take pride and boast about it. 
  • These historical places become a focal point during the times of festivals or commemorations, for example – Flag hoisting at Red Fort on Independence Day. 
  • The monuments and architecture showcase the expertise of the craftsmen in carving such.
  • Many artists and literature enthusiasts can be inspired by stories or by mere glimpses of them.
  • The enriching artistic and cultural expression 
  • These structures or places revamp the customs, art, and the connect.
  • The restored pieces and the arranged museums provide insights and educational purposes about the historical events.
  • The cultural practices, technological advancements, and societal structures can be understood with the help of reservation.
  • These are mostly excavated or studied to understand ancient civilizations and lifestyles. These also offer how any art form of expression has evolved to date. 
  • As historical places demand attention, these can make a great tourist place to narrate our enriching stories. Tourism develops the economic stability of a country through tickets, guided tours, souvenirs, and hospitable industries. 

Conclusion 

The history books can only take us to our imaginations and the important events associated with such places or monuments, but a visit impacts us with a surreal narration through the boasting culture and heritage structures. What is your go-to place on the list? 

Faqs

How many UNESCO heritage sites are in India?

There are a total of 42 in number.

What is the longest monument in India?

‘The Statue of Unity’ at a height of 597 feet near Kevadia in the state of Gujarat is the longest one.

What are the new heritage sites identified by UNESCO in India?

The sacred ensembles of the Hoysalas, constructed during the 12th and 13th centuries are represented by the three components of Belur, Halebid, and Somanathapura.