India is a land of magnificent diversity. From the stunning temples of South India to the finest Mughal architecture of the North, there are several iconic buildings and historical marvels that pay testament to India’s deep and rich heritage. Here are some of the most famous and wondrous places of India that deserve a mention among every traveler’s bucket list.
Timeless ruins, the Nalanda was a thriving center of learning from B.C.E. to 1200 C.E. Having students from across the subcontinent and nearby Asian countries like China, Korea, Tibet, the place is a stunning reminder of our rich history. The ruins occupy just about 12 hectares now but earlier it was a much larger complex with space for meditation halls, classrooms, temples, and dormitories for over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers.
The Sun Temple has found mention in the seven wonders of India by various media sources. Constructed in 1255 C.E.the temple is built in the shape of a gigantic and decorative chariot that contains twelve pairs of carved stone wheels that are pulled by a set of seven horses just like the chariot owned by Sun God, Surya. The temple is structured in a manner that upon sunrise, the sun’s first rays strike the main entrance.
The Tawang Monastery is the largest monastery in India and the second largest in the world. Situated in Arunachal Pradesh, it was built in the year 1680-81 abiding by the wishes of his holiness, the 5th Dalai Lama. Offering a remarkable view of the Tawang River valley and nearby mountains, this majestic building is three storeys high with beautiful and colorful details along with a stunning 18-foot high idol of the Buddha. The monastery also has an impressive library having several rare ancient scriptures.
The Makkah Masjid is one of the oldest mosques in India. Built-in the 16th century by ruler Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the central arch of the mosque was built using the bricks which were made from the soil brought from Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims. Although Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah had laid the foundation stone of the mosque, it was Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who completed its construction when he invaded Hyderabad.
The Palace of Breeze or the Hawa Mahal situated in the pink city of Jaipur, Rajasthan, was built in the 18th century. It was constructed for the women of the royal household who could observe the city street life without having to go out, especially during occasions and festivities. The five-story building is almost like a pyramidal monument that is made from red and pink-colored sandstone and has a façade rich in intricate details.
Any list that contains some of the greatest architectural examples of India is incomplete without the mention of the iconic Taj Mahal. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal is made with pristine white marble and represents the best of Mughal artistic heritage in India inspiring millions of visitors each year.
Built-in the 1010 C.E. in the historic city of Thanjavur, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is a popular UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited attractions in Tamil Nadu. Made from approximately 60,000 tons of granite, the temple features novel historical frescos, mural paintings, and painstakingly detailed sculptures. The place a fascinating destination for historians and cultural enthusiasts.
Being the tallest minaret in the world, the 240-foot-tall Qutub Minar was built by Qutb al-Din Aibak, founder of the Delhi Sultanate in the early 13th century. Situated in Delhi, the monument is made of bricks that are covered with detailed iron carvings and verses from the Quran.
Built as a tribute and in the memory of the 11th-century king by his widowed queen, Rani Ki Vav is an elaborately designed stepwell in Patan that contains intricate patterns and sculptures which resemble an inverted temple. This architectural marvel focuses on tghe sanctity and life-giving essences of water.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Vittala Temple Complex features iconic stone chariot, famous musical pillars, and impressive sculpture work. It is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara (city of victory), which used to be the capital of the historic Vijayanagara Empire (1336-1646 C.E.).
So here is the list of ten wondrous architectural marvels that tell great stories about the culture and history of India. When you plan your India trip this year, make sure you get to visit as many as possible as you get familiar with the beauty of this wonderful nation called India.0