India isn’t called incredible for nothing. Go north, south, east or west, and you will find hidden gems that offer jaw-dropping visuals and inspiring stories. Some showcase Mother Nature in all her glory. Everything associated with history and heritage needn’t be boring or out-dated. Instead, you will find some of these places so enchanting that you will want to keep coming back for more! Here is a roundup of 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India that should be on every millennial’s must-visit list.
1. Khangchendzonga National Park, Sikkim
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One of the most recent entrants in the UNESCO listing is Sikkim’s Khangchendzonga National Park. It is home to an exceptional combination of plains, valleys, lakes and glaciers. In addition, it also boasts snow-capped mountains adorned with pre-historic forests, including the world’s third highest peak, Mount Khangchendzonga.
With so much on offer, it is truly a wonderland for wildlife, nature, trekking and photography enthusiasts. The deep forests are laden with stories of the supernatural that have been integrated into local Buddhist beliefs and form a strong basis for the overall identity of the Sikkimese people. Now it is your turn to visit and find out just how many of these stories are true.
2. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks, Uttarakhand
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While both parks are situated in the West Himalayas, their terrains are in contrast to—while still complementing—each other. The Nanda Devi National Park is home to the imposing Nanda Devi Peak, situated at a height of 7,817m, which makes it the second-highest peak in India. Whereas the Valley of Flowers National Park, just like its name suggests, has a softer topography.
It is lined with endemic alpine flowers like Himalayan orchids, poppies, marigolds and daises that ensure the park is covered by a colourful carpet. Interesting animals like blue sheep, musk deer, snow leopard and Asiatic black bear can be found in the area. Both parks have been lauded by botanists and mountaineers alike and it’s up to you to decide which side you’re on. PS: You can be on both.
3. Mountain Railways of India
If you go to the east, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway will enchant you. If you head south, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway will captivate you. And if you choose to embark on a journey up north, the Kalka Shimla Railway will mesmerise you. One thing is common to all three: a lot of engineering masterminds overcame great challenges to build these railways in difficult mountain territory.
As a result of all that labour, we now have these heritage trains snaking their way through curvy turns and slopes of mountains, all the while chugging to make their presence felt! Feel like royalty, a colonial sahab or a yesteryear actor/actress by taking a trip through the hills in these quaint trains. Choose from a wide selection of Hotels in Darjeeling.
4. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh
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At the foothills of the Vindhya Ranges and cooped within large sandstone outcrops and dense forests are five clusters of natural rock shelters. Their walls showcase indigenous paintings that date as far back as the Mesolithic Period. Furthermore, the lifestyle of the inhabitants of the 21 villages around this site bear a strong resemblance to those portrayed in the paintings implying a long interaction between people and landscape – one that spans not only generations, but significant historical ages. Those interested in archaeology and geology will find that this place has many intriguing stories to tell. You might just learn a little anthropology from the adivasis too.
5. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Gujarat
The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park offers a mixed bag of historic and pre-historic goodies. The complex houses many unexcavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties against a spectacular backdrop which includes chalcolithic sites, an early Hindu capital’s hill fortress, and remains of the 16th-century capital of the state of Gujarat.
As if that list wouldn’t keep you busy for a couple of days, it is also home to fortifications, palaces, agricultural structures and religious buildings that could be built any time between the 8th and 14th centuries. Interestingly, this place is the only unchanged Islamic pre-Mughal city of India.
6. Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal
The Sundarbans National Park covers an area of 10,000 sq kms in the Ganges delta. It is the home to thriving mangroves. A whopping 78 types of mangrove plants grow here. Apart from that, it also houses a diverse range of fauna like King Cobras, waterfowls, marine turtles, primitive horseshoe crabs, and the elusive tiger. Species that were once considered as extinct, like the river terrapin, have also been spotted here. Needless to say, this place should be on every wildlife enthusiast’s bucket list. Book your stay in and around Sundarbans National Park.
7. The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, Chandigarh
Architects, architecture students and architecture lovers will have a field day at The Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh, which is one of the 17 architectural sites designed by Le Corbusier from across the world that are chosen to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They are special because they represent the invention of a new architectural language devised by Le Corbusier that was a break from the past.
They reflect the Modern Movement’s solutions to problems and needs posed by a 20th century audience. This specific Chandigarh complex is spread across 100 acres and constitutes buildings, monuments and a lake including the Palace of Assembly or Legislative Assembly, Secretariat, High Court, Open Hand Monument, Geometric Hill and Tower of Shadows. Choose from a wide selection of Hotels in Chandigarh.
8. Churches and Convents of Goa
Take a break from revelry to explore the peaceful and artsy side of Goa. Its Churches and Convents display unique architecture and are a break from what Goa is increasingly becoming famous for nowadays. They hold a significant place in history because they represent the evangelisation of Asia and are reminiscent of the erstwhile Portuguese Indies.
They showcase distinct Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art and are credited with the spread of these artistic styles throughout the regions where missionaries travelled to in Asia. Stroll through the most prominent of these examples, the Church of Bom Jesus which contains the tomb of St. Francis Xavier and see a whole new Goa unravel in front of your eyes! Book your Goa Hotel in advance and save big!
9. Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara, Bihar
We bet you will be really excited to attend this school and university and learn all about its classes! The Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara in Bihar is a testament to India’s illustrious educational past. The excavated site boasts both monastic and scholastic institutions dating back to the 13th century C.E. On display are stupas, shrines and viharas, which are a combination of residential and educational buildings.
The usage of stucco, stone and metal is quite marvellous. Nalanda has a lot of accolades in its portfolio: it is the most ancient learning institution in the Indian subcontinent, it imparted education for over 800 years and even helped Buddhism evolve over the years. A visit here and you will have a totally different opinion about dull college lectures. Read genuine reviews and Book Hotel in Patna online.
10. Buddhists Monuments at Sanchi
Growing up, we always saw pictures of the ‘Sanchi Stupa’ in our history textbooks. But did you know that there is more to the area than just that one structure? Monolithic pillars, palaces, temples and monasteries make up the entire complex of Buddhist monuments at Sanchi, a town located 40 km from Bhopal. Most of these date back to the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C., and are in varying stages of preservation.
Not only is it the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in the world, but was also a major Buddhist hub in India until the 12th century A.D. Come here for inspiration or come just for the gorgeous structures -- whatever it is, you will feel the peace of Buddhism flow through you, making your troubles fade. Compare and save big on Sanchi Hotel Booking. Book now!
Even if you visit just one property on this list, we guarantee that you will come back enriched and refreshed. However, our prediction is that you won’t be able to stop at just one. The best solution to this would be to club sites in one geographical area together and do that every time you plan a vacation. What’s more, these sites are perfect for solo travelers as well, because they offer so much to visitors that you will soon realise that you won’t feel the need for company. That said, sometimes learning can be fun in groups too. After all, the more the merrier, right?