India is a diverse country. Its art, history, and culture date back to several thousand years BC. It has been through historical and cultural upheavals due to conquests and rebellions. For these reasons, suggesting a short list of attractions in India or things to do in India is a daunting task. To help you out we have compiled a list of monuments, temples, and buildings that have been identified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Many IMers suggst that you visit at least one of these when in India. In no particular order, they are:

Taj Mahal, Agra

 Taj Mahal By nadreg
A visit to India is incomplete without a glimpse of the eternal souvenir of love - the Taj Mahal. Located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, North India, Agra spells out the ultimate reminder of love in its famed mausoleum, the Taj Mahal - an architectural wonder that marks the glory of the Mughal Empire as it was in the 16th and 17th century when the city was indeed the capital of Hindustan, now India.

Former US President Bill Clinton had rightly said that the world is divided into two parts - people who have seen the Taj Mahal in Agra, and people who have not.


Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai

 Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus By aarosh
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) is a prominent landmark and attraction in the city of Mumbai in Western India.

A historic railway station, the famous Victoria Terminus (VT) was rechristened Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and is the main link on the Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay) suburban railway network. The Terminus is the junction that connects the westernmost end point of the Central Railway Network of India to the southern end point and to its branch, the Harbour Line of Mumbai’s metropolitan rail transport system.

Now tourists can visit the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Heritage Gallery from Mondays to Fridays from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Ticket rates are Rs 100/- for students with valid I-card and for others it is Rs 200/-. It is closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays. 


Qutub Minar, Delhi

 Qutub Minar By Indranil_Dutta
Towering over the landscape of the city of Delhi is the tallest brick minaret in the world – the Qutub Minar, meaning “Axis Minaret”.

The Qutub Minar is unique product of Indo-Islamic architecture dating back to the 13th century. UNESCO now demarcates the Qutub complex as a World Heritage Site.


Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh

 Fatehpur Sikri By biman
The royal fort city of Fatehpur Sikri is a historic town situated twenty-six miles west of Agra and was founded by the great Mughal emperor Akbar.

Fatehpur Sikri served as the capital of Akbar's mighty empire for twelve years (1571-1585) and was abruptly abandoned thereafter. Today it a grand and silent witness to that glorious era and a wondrous sight for tourists from world over.


Ellora and Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra

 Ellora Caves By cyberhippie
The Ajanta caves are a series of historic rock cut caves located in a region about 100 km from the city of Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra. The caves are nestled in a horseshoe shaped ridge in a panoramic gorge in the Western Deccan. These spectacular caves are a rare specimen of Buddhist art and architecture spanning a glorious era over several centuries from 200 B.C. to 650 A.D, after which they slipped into oblivion and were discovered thousands of years later by a British hunting party in 1819.

One of the finest examples of rock cut architecture and amalgam of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain styles is found in the Ellora caves, around thirty kilometers from Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra in India. Hewn out of solid basalt rock face is a complex of temples, shrines, monasteries, halls and galleries over a period of several centuries from 600 AD to 1000 AD. It is situated on the ancient North-South route of Dakshinapatha.

Agra Fort, Agra

 Agra Fort By Swapnil
Agra Fort, a World Heritage Site, came into being in 1571. Located in the city of the marvelous Taj Mahal, Agra Fort is yet another assertion of Mughal prowess.

The Agra Fort is characterized by magnificent towers, bastions, ramparts and majestic gateways that emphasize Emperor Akbar’s eminence and power during his reign. It is said that one of the battles during the rebellious Indian uprising of 1857 was staged in and around the fort site. It was a landmark fight that ended the rule of the British East India Company and led to direct rule of India by Britain.

Buddhist Monuments, Sanchi

 Agra Fort By IndiaJim
Sanchi is the best place to head for those seeking beauty, spirituality, history and romance all rolled in one. Situated forty-six kilometers from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh in central India, it sits upon a hill, and is a mute witness to a glorious era of Buddhism in India spanning its efflorescence to its decadence.

The Buddhist Monuments in Sanchi house the best example of Buddhist art and architecture anywhere in the world and attracts common pilgrims as well as art aficionados from the world over.

Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

 Elephanta Caves By Wanderer22
Hewn out of solid rock face of the Gharapuri Island some eleven kilometers east of the Mumbai harbor are the Elephanta Caves, a magnificent specimen of rock cut architecture of ancient India.

Originally called Gharapuri Caves, the Elephanta Caves are a Hindu cave temple complex, a legacy of the Konkan Mauryan Empire, Rashtrakuta Dynasty and the Gupta Dynasty.

The Portuguese, who controlled the area from mid 16th to mid 17th century, named the island and the caves as Elephanta after the huge statues of elephants that were found there. The British later transferred these statues to a local museum in Mumbai.

Champaner-Pavagadh Archeological Park, Gujarat

 Champaner Pavagadh By travel_world80
Located in the Western Indian state of Gujarat, the World Heritage site of Champaner-Pavagadh Archeological Park is a data sheet amassed in history within its ruins.

This Champaner Park situated forty seven kilometers northeast of Vadodara in Gujarat, is a grand historical confluence, displaying 1,200 years of history and culture. It is believed to bear testimony to the Puranas / Indian Puranic ages, the Rajput saga, the glory of the reign of the Marathas, the Islamic influences and finally lays proof to the British India occupation within its remains.

The Great Living Chola Temples in Tamil Nadu

 Great Living Chola Temples By snonymous
The Great Living Chola Temples in Tamil Nadu in South India consist of the 11th century Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur, the 11th century Brihadisvara temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram, and the 12th century Airavateswara temple at Darasuram.

These Chola temples are fine examples of the spectacular Dravidian Race art and architecture and the glorious reign of the Chola Dynasty in South India, and have been classified as World Heritage monuments by UNESCO.

Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu

 Mamallapuram By Lou Wilson
Mahabalipuram or Mamalapuram is a 7th century port city of the Pallava rulers of South India, around fifty-eight kilometers from Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Mamallapuram was named after King Narasimhavarman I, or Mamalla as he was known, the greatest of the Pallava Dynasty kings. Mahabalipuram has hundreds of ancient monuments built between the 7th and 9th centuries and is a World Heritage site. The monuments are mostly rock cut and monolithic, reflecting the early Dravidian style of architecture, with a bit of Buddhist influence.

Pattadakal, Karnataka

 Pattadakal, Karnataka By naveenamohanrao
Situated around five-hundred kilometers away from Bangalore and thirty kilometers from Badami in the southern state of Karnataka is Pattadakal, the ancient capital city of the Chalukya Dynasty.

It houses some of the finest monuments, sculptures and buildings in South Indian history, and was deemed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.

Pattadakal is a corruption of “pattada kisuvolal”, and means “stone of coronation”. It was the auspicious site where the Chalukya kings were crowned. Pattadakal appears to have been inhabited since prehistoric times and even earns a mention in the great geographer Ptolemy’s writings as Petrigal.

Hampi, Karnataka

 Hampi By pkalra
Hampi is a village in northern Karnataka state in India. It contains the ruins of the ancient city of Vijayanagara, one of the most glorious and prosperous citadels from the 3rd to the 6th century.

Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagar Dynasty, the last of Hindu empires in India. Hampi was also the site of the Virupaksha temple, a center of religious activity in central India. The ruins of Hampi are now a World Heritage Site.

Hampi is first mentioned as the site of the mythical Kishkindha, a monkey kingdom described in the epic of Hindu mythology, the Ramayana, although the first documented settlements of Hampi date to 1st century AD.

Churches and Convents, Goa

 Churches and Convents in Goa By steven_ber
The passage of Portuguese rule in Goa has earned this popular holiday retreat its name, ‘Rome of the East’. Despites images of sandy beaches and resorts, this Indian holiday destination, located in the western coast, exudes a somber mood in its history paying spiritual tribute to the innumerable shrines, cathedrals, convents and chapels around the city.

The churches and chapels primarily date back to the 16th and 17th century AD when Goa served as the Portuguese East Indian capital city. Goa was conquered by the Portuguese in 1510, which resulted in the building of churches and convents that flaunted the legacy of Portuguese India within their architecture. In 1961, the Portuguese abandoned Goa and the city was merged within the territorial constitution of India.

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi

 Humayuns Tomb By Mohamed Majid
The tomb of Humayun, the second in line of Mughal emperors to rule India is an amazing example of early Islamic architecture in India, which eventually culminated into the great Taj Mahal.

Humayun’s Tomb is one of the most spectacular Mughal buildings in India and was deemed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in1993.

Khajuraho Temples, Madhya Pradesh

 Khajuraho By Bhaswaran
The Khajuraho temples were built during the reign of the Chandela dynasty over a period of one-hundred years from 950 to 1050. When the physical beauty of man and woman is carved in stone, sheer poetry is derived in the imagination, and nowhere is this exemplified more than in the Temples of Khajuraho in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

A small, quiet village located six-hundred-and-twenty kilometers east of Delhi, Khajuraho used to be the glorious capital of the Chandela dynasty between the tenth to the twelfth centuries. Its beautifully carved temples are a big tourist draw today, though only twenty-two temples of the original eighty temples have survived. Since 1986, the Temples of Khajuraho have been deemed a World Heritage Site and it has dazzled visitors with its sensuous images of men and women.

Mahabodhi, Bodh Gaya, Bihar

 Mahabodhi Temple By TimMakins
Mahabodhi, meaning Great Enlightenment, is a Buddhist temple located in Bodh Gaya in Bihar, India. Situated near the river Niranjana, Bodh Gaya is where Lord Buddha attained his enlightenment under a Bodhi tree.

Hence the area is a pilgrimage site for millions of Buddhists and Hindus who throng here through out the year. In 2002, UNESCO declared the Mahabodhi temple to be a World Heritage Site.

Rock Shelters of Bhimbhetka

 Bhimbetka Rock Paintings By soumen369
Down the ages, men have liked to leave artistic impressions of their beliefs, thoughts, dreams, everyday life, and flora and fauna of their period. Prehistoric man was the trend setter with his beautiful, elegantly etched figures of humans, plants, and animals adorning their living places and a wonderful example of such art in India are the rock shelters of Bhimbhetka in Central India. Here rock paintings covering a vast spread of periods still exist, a vibrant witness to the life of people of those periods. The Bhimbetka caves are evidence of human occupation in the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, several thousands of years ago.

The Bhimbetka caves were put on the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 2003. Around fifteen of the most spectacular of these caves are open to the public. They have been carefully fitted with passageways that keep visitors from damaging the drawings but close enough to get a good view of the paintings. These caves have to be preserved for posterity as they are a treasure trove of history and art from time immemorial.