UNESCO World Heritage Sites are the ultimate must-sees from every nation that uphold the place’s culture, history, heritage, traditions and basically everything that goes into building the foundation of a nation as we go. Although for a nation as diverse as India it is difficult to encapsulate its culture in just seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it surely does give you the hint of the same diversity that defines the country. By Shubhanjana Das
It is no surprise that the world’s largest mangrove forest that shelters one of the most magnificent creatures from the cat family tops our list. The Royal Bengal Tiger calls the forest of the ‘sundari’ tree its home and has adapted to navigating its way through the saline waters of the Ganga, Brahmaputra, Padma and Meghna. Spread over 10,000 sq. Km, the Sundarbans is not only the world’s largest but also the widest, deepest and most active delta. The rare salt-water crocodile, Gangetic dolphins, wild boar and spotted deer also inhabit the region.
Every person who has ever visited the Deccan Plateau of India leaves with praises of Hampi. These ancient ruins of the Vijayanagara Kingdom attract thousands every year from all around the world and you will know why just as the vehicle makes its way to the village. Even though called ‘ruins’, the monuments and archaeological relics in Hampi can hardly be described as such. They are the specimen of the wealthy Vijayanagars Empire and provide a window to peek into the architectural prowess of our ancestors.
What can be said about the Taj Mahal that hasn’t been said before? That it took 20 years and thousands of skilled artisans to build this monument of love by Shah Jahan? That it is often the first place people end up in right after they land in India because its praises are spread far and wide across the world? That it is one of the seven wonders of the world? There are very few words that can describe the absolute grandeur and magnanimity that is imbibed in this structure and it needs for the onlooker to gaze for hours to truly come to the realisation that they are standing in front of one of the shining beacon of the example of the prowess of the humans.
Khajuraho may have been built between 900 BC and 2 AD but is more relevant at the contemporary times than ever. The intricate sculptures on the temple not only showcase but proudly boast of India as the land of Kamasutra and the comfort with which the same was discussed hundreds of years ago than it is now. If you are planning a visit, make sure it overlaps with the annual dance festival held at the temple complex. The Kandariya temple is considered one of the most important in the complex.
While Rajasthan may be dotted by multiple forts and monuments, each one of them worth seeing, the Kumbhalgarh Fort is one that never misses any itinerary of the state. Also known as the Great Wall of India, the thick wall that encompasses the fort is around 36 km-long and used to stand as a barrier to every enemy who had their eyes on this grand structure of power and authority back in the day. While the fort takes you back in time to the era of its glory, the views from it are absolutely breathtaking.
The Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand shelters over 600 species of flora and over 520 species of fauna and boasts of grand views that will make it hard for anyone else to believe that it’s an actual place and not a photo-shopped picture! However, be ready to toil a bit before you finally get to rest your eyes on this idyllic sea of flowers as the only way to reach it is by trekking.
Kaziranga has been a World Heritage Site since 1985 and the pristine experience of standing amidst the home of the one-horned rhinoceros that the park is widely known for, its tall elephant grass and shallow pools and of course, the different shades of green makes it one of the most incredible national parks in all of Southeast Asia. The floodplains of the Brahmaputra allow the diverse flora and fauna that Kaziranga boasts of and that which can be encountered on its jeep safaris.