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17 of the Coolest Heritage Sites in India

Insider Guides
by Arun Bhat Sep 14, 2015

India’s cultural and historic sites are numerous and spread across the entire country. Many have a legacy dating back more than a thousand years.

Diskit Monastery, Ladakh

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Located in rugged, mountainous terrain, Diskit Monastery was established in the 14th century and is affiliated with the yellow-hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery overlooks the Nubra Valley, one of the greenest places in the otherwise arid landscape of Ladakh.

Cenotaphs of Orchha, Madhya Pradesh

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These tall cenotaphs stand in memory of Bundela kings who ruled from the small town of Orchha for nearly 300 years. They are just some of the many ancient structures around Orchha built during their reign.

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

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Although the current structure is about 400 years old, the Meenakshi Temple is known to have a history of more than 2,000 years. Even today, it’s one of the most important pilgrimage sites for people of the region.

Lamayuru Monastery, Ladakh

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One of the largest and oldest monasteries in Ladakh is the Yung-Drung Monastery in Lamayuru village, affiliated with the red-hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery stands in a rugged landscape which was once under the waters of a deep, high-altitude lake.

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan

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Mehrangarh Fort was established in the 15th century on the top of a hill to provide safety from attackers. The current structure, built in the 17th century, now showcases opulent interior palaces and houses a museum of cannon and other arms.

Mysore Palace, Mysore, Karnataka

Mysore Palace royal palaces India

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One of the most luxurious palaces in the region, Mysore Palace will celebrated 100 years of existence in 2012. The elaborate lighting arrangement, which is turned on only on Sundays and festival days, adds to the glory of the site.

Amber Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan

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Initially built in the last decade of the 16th century, the Amber Fort has since gone through many makeovers. The interior is generously decorated with murals and mirror work.

Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

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The 18th-century Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala is known for its large monolithic idol, its pathways decorated with series of pillars, and intricate wood carvings.

Temples of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

Photo: Dmitry Rukhlenko/Shutterstock

Khajuraho is a small town with dozens of ancient temples dotting its landscape. They were built here over a span of 200 years, between 950 and 1150 AD. The temples are known for the erotic sculptures and intricate carvings on their walls.

Thiksey Monastery, Ladakh

Buddhist monastery of the Yellow Hat in Tibet

Photo: Dmitry Rukhlenko/Shutterstock

Founded in the 15th century, Thiksey Monastery is noted for the similarity of its structure to that of Potala Palace in Lhasa. The stupas, or chortens, seen in the picture above are commonly placed in front of Tibetan monasteries to ward off evil forces. 

Virupaksha Temple, Hampi, Karnataka

Virupaksha is the main temple of the Pattadakal temple complex in India

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The nine-tiered tower of Virupaksha Temple is about 50m high. Commissioned in the early 16th century, it stands as the only unspoilt structure in the middle of the vast ruins of an ancient city.

Hulikere Tank, Karnataka

Hidden in a small hamlet in South India is this beautiful tank surrounded by niches on all four sides. It served as a bath for queens in the first half of the 12th century.

Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral, Thrissur, Kerala

This cathedral was built more than a hundred years ago; its towers still stand tall in the center of Thrissur town.

Thanjavur Temples, Tamil Nadu

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The tall Brihadeeswarar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and built from sandstone in Thanjavur, recently turned 1,000 years old. One of its more interesting features is the large stone dome on top of the temple tower, which weighs more than eighty tons. How the stone was lifted to such a height remains a mystery.

Patwon Ki Haveli, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

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This site is a cluster of five private residences that once belonged to a merchant family, now declared a heritage monument. The oldest of the five is just under 200 years.

Bathing Ghats, Varanasi

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Varanasi is often called the oldest living city in the world. The bathing ghats and temples along the bank of the River Ganges are visited by thousands of pilgrims every day.

Taj Mahal, Agra

Taj Mahal

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This list wouldn’t be complete without the Taj Mahal, the mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It’s now one of the most well-known monuments in India and finds a mention in the list of new wonders of the world

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