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Sunset view of the Taj Mahal
Sunset view of the Taj Mahal | © Kewal Somani / WikiCommons
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The Most Beautiful World Heritage Sites in India

Picture of Poonam Binayak
India Writer
Updated: 28 April 2018
India is home to 36 World Heritage Sites, ranging from historical and architectural masterpieces reminiscent of the glorious eras gone by to spectacular landscapes created by Mother Nature. Culture Trip explores the 15 most beautiful UNESCO-listed sites in this South Asian country.

Taj Mahal

Archeological site, Memorial, Mosque
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Taj Mahal, an iconic symbol of love
Taj Mahal, an iconic symbol of love | © Joel Godwin / WikiCommons
Commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is a historical and architectural marvel that attracts more than eight million visitors every year. About 20,000 people worked on this magnificent ivory-white mausoleum inlaid with nearly 28 kinds of precious and semi-precious stones. An iconic symbol of love, it changes colour depending on the light of the day – it’s pinkish in the morning, a yellow hue midday, milky white in the evening and a golden hue at night. It remains open every day, except Friday, from sunrise to sunset.
More Info

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly, Kid Friendly

Services & Activities:

Guided Tours, No Smoking, Entrance Fee, Worship services

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Instagrammable, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark, Touristy

Agra Fort

Archeological site, Building, Mosque
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The Agra Fort is a red sandstone structure comprised of palaces, mosques and audience halls
The Agra Fort is a red sandstone structure comprised of palaces, mosques and audience halls | © Tanvirsinghsra / WikiCommons
Built in the 16th century, the Agra Fort is as huge as it is valuable. It has palatial palaces, audience halls and two stunning mosques. The exterior of the fortress is composed of red sandstone, which is beautified with inlay work in white marble, while the interior boasts intricate carvings and Indo-Islamic touches. Visitors can wander inside the fortress, linger for a while in the Mughal-era and catch unbeatable views of the iconic Taj Mahal.
More Info
Mon - Sun:
6:00 am - 6:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly, Kid Friendly

Services & Activities:

Guided Tours, Entrance Fee, No Smoking

Atmosphere:

Touristy, Instagrammable, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark

Group of Monuments at Hampi

Archeological site, Ruins
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Stone chariot at the Vittala Temple, Hampi
Stone chariot at the Vittala Temple, Hampi | © Hawinprinto / WikiCommons
UNESCO regarded Hampi as a World Heritage Site, owing to its architectural and historical splendour. This ancient town is filled with ruins reminiscent of south India’s greatest dynasty, the Vijayanagar Empire. From sun-kissed boulders and monoliths to Dravidian temples and palaces dating back to the 14th to 16th centuries, a stroll around these ruins will leave you spellbound.
More Info

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Free, Worship services

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Instagrammable, Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark, Photo Opportunity, Touristy

Konark Sun Temple

Archeological site, Hindu Temple
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Night view of the Konark Sun Temple
Night view of the Konark Sun Temple | © Sujit kumar / WikiCommons
One of Odisha‘s most popular tourist sights, the Konark Sun Temple was built in the 13th century and is dedicated to the Hindu god Surya. Shaped like a huge chariot with 12 pairs of wheels that are drawn by seven horses, the temple impresses visitors with its intricate stone carvings depicting the tales of ancient times. Also, erotic sculptures along with images of Hindu deities, Apsaras (celestial women), mythological and aquatic creatures, various animals and musical instruments adorn its walls.
More Info
Mon - Sun:
6:00 am - 8:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Guided Tours, Entrance Fee, No Smoking

Atmosphere:

Indoors, Architectural Landmark, Instagrammable

Hill Forts of Rajasthan

Archeological site
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Kumbhalgarh Fort is also called the Great Wall of India
Kumbhalgarh Fort is also called the Great Wall of India | © Ajith Kumar / Flickr
Dating back to the 5th century all the way up to the 18th century, the Hill Forts of Rajasthan includes six majestic forts, namely Jaisalmer Fort, Kumbhalgarh Fort, Amer Fort, Gagron Fort, Chittorgarh Fort and Ranthambore Fort. You can’t help but be mesmerised when you see these hill forts for the first-time and not only because of their historical and architectural magnificence but also due to their well-preserved state. Today, these hill forts are popular tourist attractions that provide an unprecedented glimpse into the royal era.
More Info

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly, Kid Friendly

Services & Activities:

Guided Tours, Entrance Fee

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Instagrammable, Photo Opportunity, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark, Touristy, Indoors

Rani Ki Vav

Archeological site, Ruins
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Rani Ki Vav is a seven storey deep stepwell
Rani Ki Vav is a seven storey deep stepwell | © Bernard Gagnon / WikiCommons
Built in the 11th century, the Rani Ki Vav is a visually stunning stepwell built by Queen Udayamati in memory of her beloved husband King Bhimdev. It is seven stories deep, complete with beautiful carvings of Hindu gods and goddesses, Apsaras and other divine religious and mythological forms.
More Info
Mon - Sun:
8:30 am - 7:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

No Smoking, Entrance Fee

Atmosphere:

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark, Instagrammable

Bhimbetka Rock Shelters

Archeological site, Ruins
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Dating back to the Stone Age, the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters are considered to be the earliest and oldest remaining traces of human habitation in the Indian subcontinent. The main highlight of these rock shelters are its paintings and drawings of human and animal figures, which date as far back as 30,000 years.
More Info
Mon - Sun:
7:00 am - 6:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Entrance Fee, Guided Tours

Atmosphere:

Historical Landmark, Instagrammable, Architectural Landmark, Peaceful

Khajuraho Group of Monuments

Archeological site, Hindu Temple
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Erotic sculptures at Vishvanath temple at Khajuraho
Erotic sculptures at Vishvanath temple at Khajuraho | © Aotearoa / WikiCommons
Dating back to the early 11th century, the Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a group of Hindu and Jain temples that are known for their intricate carvings and erotic sculptures as most of them depict sexual acts adhering to the Kama Sutra.
More Info
Mon - Sun:
7:00 am - 5:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Adults Only

Services & Activities:

Worship services, Entrance Fee

Atmosphere:

Touristy, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark, Photo Opportunity

Western Ghats

Archeological site, Forest, Natural Feature
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Stretching over 1,000 miles across the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Maharashtra, the Western Ghats are UNESCO’s biodiversity hotspot. Home to a myriad of plant and animal species, it beckons naturalists and zoologists from across the world.
More Info

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Free

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Instagrammable, Scenic

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram

Archeological site, Hindu Temple
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Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram
Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram | © C Fotografia / Flickr
The Mahabalipuram Group of Monuments is an architectural and historical extravaganza of intricately carved Hindu temples and rock-cut monuments that date back to the 7th and 8th centuries. The Shore Temple and the Five Rathas are particularly noteworthy.
More Info

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Worship services, Guided Tours, No Smoking, Entrance Fee

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Instagrammable, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark

Humayun's Tomb

Archeological site
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Humayun's Tomb is the epitome of Mughal architecture
Humayun's Tomb is the epitome of Mughal architecture | © Himeshrahi / WikiCommons
Built in 1570, Humayun’s Tomb is the epitome of Mughal architecture. Nestled in the midst of an ornately designed four-squared Mughal garden, this majestic tomb is constructed using red sandstone and granite with inlay work in white marble. Its stunning architecture served as an inspiration for the design of the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
More Info
Mon - Sun:
6:00 am - 5:30 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Entrance Fee

Atmosphere:

Instagrammable, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark

Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi

Archeological site, Buddhist Temple
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The Great Stupa at Sanchi is included under 'Adopt a Heritage' Scheme
The Great Stupa at Sanchi is included under 'Adopt a Heritage' Scheme | © AmitNimade / WikiCommons
Dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries BC, the Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi comprises beautifully preserved Buddha monasteries, palaces, temples and monolithic pillars – which are together the most spectacular example of their kind still standing today. Not only it is the world’s oldest Buddhist sanctuary, but it also served as the main Buddhist centre in the country until the 12th century.
More Info

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Entrance Fee, No Smoking

Atmosphere:

Peaceful, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark, Instagrammable

Ajanta and Ellora Caves

Archeological site
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Both the Ajanta and Ellora Caves have been amazing places to visit for centuries. The sculptures, frescos and paintings found in every corner of these ancient caves make for a truly mesmerizing voyage into the past. There are about 29 caves in Ajanta, which were built between the 2nd century BC and the 6th century AD, and 34 caves in Ellora dating back to the 6th to 11th centuries. The Ajanta Caves are all Buddhists, while the Ellora ones are a blend of Jain, Buddhist and Hindu.
More Info

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Guided Tours, Entrance Fee

Atmosphere:

Instagrammable, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark, Crowded

Churches and Convents of Goa

Archeological site, Cathedral, Church
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Basilica of Bom Jesus stands out with its Baroque architecture
Basilica of Bom Jesus stands out with its Baroque architecture | © P.S.SUJAY / WikiCommons
When visitors hear the name Goa, the first images that probably come to mind are beaches and nightlife. But there’s more to Goa than just that. This smallest state in India is blessed with churches and convents, which host outstanding works of art, carvings and decorations. The UNESCO-listed site includes the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which stands out with its Baroque architecture and houses the remains of Saint Francis Xavier (a well-known Spanish missionary), the 16th century Se Cathedral, which is the largest church in Asia known for its gigantic ‘Golden Bell’ and the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, which impresses visitors with its mix of Gothic and Manueline architecture.
More Info

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Worship services, No Smoking

Atmosphere:

Indoors, Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark, Instagrammable

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks

Archeological site, Natural Feature
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Rare and exotic flowers at Valley of Flowers National Park
Rare and exotic flowers at Valley of Flowers National Park | © Mahendra Pal Singh / WikiCommons
Both the Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks are home to blooming wildflowers, rare and endangered animals, high-altitude birds and splendid natural beauty. The multi-coloured meadows of the valley complement the rugged mountainous terrain of the Nanda Devi. Also, the tranquillity and aesthetic appeal are magical, to say the least.
More Info
Mon - Sun:
8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Guided Tours, Entrance Fee

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Instagrammable, Scenic, Peaceful