List of top 10 Monuments in India

India's art and culture are represented by its many monuments located around the country. We bring to you the top 10 most famous, visited monuments which are also listed by UNESCO in its World Heritage Sites List
Created On: Dec 14, 2020 19:29 IST
Modified On: Dec 15, 2020 15:56 IST
top 10 monuments in India
top 10 monuments in India

India has many monuments in its periphery. These monuments are the cultural heritage of India since time immemorial and mark the presence of India on a global map. Take a look at the most beautiful famous monuments in India.

1. Taj Mahal

If its India, it is Taj Mahal. India is known by the name of this Wonder of the world. This architectural marvel was built by Shah Jahan for his wife Arjumand Banu Begum, popularly known as Mumtāz Mahal in between 1631 to 1648. It has almost 8 million visitors every year. 

Location: It is situated on the banks of River Yamuna in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. 

Builder: Shah Jahan was a Mughal Dynasty ruler, the son of Jehangir and the father of the last famous Mughal ruler, Aurangzeb.

It is said that the emperor lost his empire to his son Aurangzeb and was conquered in the Agra Fort from where he used to visualize the Taj Mahal from a very small window in his jail. 

Taj Mahal: Significant features-

  1. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 AD by thousands of artisans and craftsmen, whereas, the outlying buildings and gardens took five more years to complete in 1653 AD.
  2. Taj Mahal symbolizes the immense treasury and political security of that era and much more by way of the finesse in art and science of architecture. 
  3. Herringbone inlays define the space between many of the adjoining elements. 
  4. White inlays have been used in sandstone buildings and dark or black inlays on the white marbles.
  5. Mortared areas of the marble buildings have been stained or painted in a contrasting colour, creating geometric patterns of considerable complexity. 
  6. Floors and walkways use contrasting tiles or blocks in tessellation patterns. The inlay stones are of yellow marble, jasper and jade, polished and levelled to the surface of the walls.

 

Ismail Afandi (a.ka. Ismail Khan) of the Ottoman Empire

Designer of the main dome.

Ustad Isa and Isa Muhammad Effendi of Persia

Credited with a key role in the architectural design.

Puru' from Benarus, Persia

Mentioned as a Supervising Architect.

Qazim Khan, a native of Lahore

Cast the solid Gold Finial.

Chiranjilal, a lapidary from Delhi

The Chief Sculptor and Mosaicist

Amanat Khan from Shiraz, Iran

The Chief Calligrapher

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2. Hampi Monuments

The austere and grand site of Hampi is basically the remnants of the Capital City of the Vijayanagara Empire. It was a flourishing city during the 14th-16th Cent CE and also one of the last great Hindu Kingdoms in the Indian subcontinent. The monuments are a part of UNESCO's world heritage site and cover an area of 4187, 24 hectares. 

Location:  It is located in the Tungabhadra basin in Central Karnataka, Bellary District.

Builder/ Ruler: Krishna Deva Rai 

Hampi: Significant Features-

  1. Hampi is situated in proximity to the river Tungabhadra, craggy hill ranges and open plains, with widespread physical remains. 
  2. The social setting back then can be visualised through the 1600 surviving remains of forts, riverside features, royal complexes, temples etc that show it was a varied urban, royal and sacred system of society in the 14th-16th century.  
  3. One can find various remains of shrines, pillared halls, mandapas, memorial structures, gateways, defence check posts, stables, water structures, etc.
  4. Among these, the Krishna temple complex, Narasimha, Ganesa, Hemakuta group of temples, Achyutaraya temple complex, Vitthala temple complex, Pattabhirama temple complex, Lotus Mahal complex are among the most well known. 
  5. Suburban townships that were called Puras, cover the periphery of the temple which also consist of subsidiary shrines, bazaars, residential areas and tanks applying hydraulic technologies to integrate the town and defence architecture with the surrounding landscape.
  6. The remains unearthed in the site delineate both the extent of the economic prosperity and political status that once existed indicating a highly developed society.
  7. The Dravidian architecture was used in buildings under the Vijayanagara Empire. It is characterised by their huge and heavy dimensions, cloistered enclosures, and big towers that cover the entrances, encased by decorated pillars.
  8. The Vitthla temple is the most exquisitely ornate structure on the site and represents the culmination of Vijayanagara temple architecture.

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3. Sun Temple

The Sun Temple is one of the major attraction of the eastern coast of India. This temple is dedicated to the Sun King or Lord Surya Dev and was built in the 13th century. This temple is also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage sites due to its architecture and Inscriptions. 

Location: Konark. Odisha

Ruler: Narasimha Deva 1

Sun Temple: Significant Features

  1. The Konarak temple, built entirely in stone, is in the form of a huge chariot consisting of twelve pairs of lavishly-ornamented wheels. It is drawn by seven richly-caparisoned, galloping horses.
  2. It is located about 35 km northeast of the city of Puri on the coastline
  3. The temple is built in Nagara style and is uses Kalinga or Orissa type of architecture which is its subtype. 
  4. The nagara style mainly has a square ground plan, contains a sanctuary and assembly hall called mandapa. In terms of elevation, there is a huge curvilinear tower called the shikhara, inclining inwards and capped. 
  5. A major attraction of the Sun Temple of Konark is when the first ray of the sun strikes the main entrance, one can visualize the shadows of giraffes, snakes, elephants, and mythological creatures etc on the walls.

4. Khajuraho Temples

Khajuraho has a group of temples which are divided into three parts on the basis of their locations that is Western, Eastern, and Southern group temples. It is well known for its exotic sculptures. These group of temples was built in the 11th century. Khajuraho temples are a well known UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to the architectural wonder.

Location: Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

Ruler: Chandela dynasty

Khajuraho Temples: Significant Features

  1. Temples of Khajuraho are dedicated to mainly Jainism and Hinduism and the temples are well-known for their finest art and sculpture.
  2. The temples at Khajuraho were built during the Chandella dynasty, which reached its apogee between 950 and 1050. 
  3. Only about 20 temples remain now and they strike a perfect balance between architecture and sculpture.
  4. Temple of Kandariya is decorated with a profusion of sculptures representing the greatest masterpieces of Indian art.
  5. The temples display an original and high quality of Nagara style of architecture.
  6. It is built in sandstone and each temple is elevated from its environs by a highly ornate terraced platform, called as jagati. On this stands the body, or jangha, the sanctum of which is topped by a tower, or shikhara, in Nagara style.
  7. On the tower, the verticality of the principal spire atop the sanctum is accentuated by a series of miniature spires flanking it, each symbolizing Mount Kailasa, the abode of the Gods.
  8. The temples are entered through an ornate entrance porch (ardhamandapa), which leads to the main hall (mandapa), through which one accesses the vestibule (antarala) before reaching the sanctum (garbhagriha)
  9. All surfaces are profusely carved with anthropomorphic and non-anthropomorphic motifs depicting sacred and secular themes
  10. There are 85 temples in all but there are 20 temples which are dedicated to various deities. Among these, 6 temples were dedicated to Shiva, 3 temples were dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras, 8 temples to Lord Vishnu and his avatars. Finally, two temples are dedicated to Sun God and Lord Ganesha.

5. Ellora Caves:

This is a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site from Maharashtra. The rock-cut activity was carried out in three phases from the 6th century to the 12th century. 

Location: Aurangabad, Maharashtra 

Ruler: Krishna 1

Ellora Caves: Significant Features

  1. These 34 monasteries and temples that extend in more than 2 km range in the area.
  2. These are dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff, not far from Aurangabad, in Maharashtra. 
  3. Ellora, with its uninterrupted sequence of monuments dating from A.D. 600 to 1000 is a unique artistic creation and a technological exploit.
  4. Its sanctuaries are devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism and it illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India.
  5. The earliest caves (caves 1–12), excavated between the 5th and 8th centuries, reflect the Mahayana philosophy of Buddhism then prevalent in this region.
  6. The last phase, between the 9th and 12th centuries, saw the excavation of a group of caves (caves 30–34) reflecting Jaina philosophy.
  7. Cave 16 is an excellent example of structural innovation and marks the culmination of rock-cut architecture in India featuring elaborate workmanship and striking proportions.
  8. The sculpture depicting Ravana attempting to lift Mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva, is especially noteworthy

6. Ajanta Caves:

The very first Buddhist cave monuments at Ajanta were built during the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. During the Gupta period that lasted from 5th to 6th centuries A.D. various other caves were added to the original group. The paintings and sculptures of Ajanta, considered masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, have had a considerable artistic influence.

Location: Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Ruler: Guptas

Ajanta Caves: Significant Features

  1. Ajanta caves are a group of 30 caves which were dated back of 2nd century BC.
  2. Every cave is especially known for various patterns of arts, paintings, murals, ceilings, and temples.
  3. Ajanta caves are known for their paintings as they are made of true natural colours by using minerals and plants. 
  4. In Ajanta caves, 1,2,4, and 17 are very popular among tourists and are known for their inscriptions.
  5. Ajanta caves are dedicated to Buddhist development so one can find Jataka stories on the walls of the cave. 

7. Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun's tomb was built in 1570 AD. It is unique as it was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. This tomb is the reason for several major architectural innovations, culminating in the construction of the Taj Mahal.

Location: New Delhi

Ruler: Akbar

Humayun's Tomb: Significant Features

  1. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi was the first of the grand dynastic mausoleum that became a synonym of Mughal architecture. 
  2. It stands within a complex of 27.04 ha. including contemporary, 16th century Mughal garden-tombs such as Nila Gumbad, Isa Khan, Bu Halima, Afsarwala, Barber’s Tomb and the complex where the craftsmen employed for the Building of Humayun’s Tomb stayed the Arab Serai.
  3. Persian and Indian craftsmen were employed together to build the garden-tomb, 
  4. It is grander than any tomb built before it in the Islamic world.
  5. Humayun’s garden-tomb is a classic charbagh which means a four-quadrant garden with the four rivers of Quranic paradise represented with pools joined by channels. 
  6. The garden's entrances are lofty gateways on the south and from the west with pavilions located in the centre of the eastern and northern walls.
  7. The mausoleum stands on a high, wide terraced platform and has two bay deep vaulted cells on all four sides. 
  8. The base is an irregular octagon with four long sides and chamfered edges.
  9. It is surmounted by a 42.5 m high double dome built of marble and pillared kiosks (chhatris). 
  10. The interior is a large octagonal chamber with vaulted roof compartments which are connected to each other by galleries or corridors.
  11. The structure is of dressed stone clad in red sandstone with white and black inlaid marble borders.

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8. Great Living Chola Temples

The Great Living Chola Temples were built by kings of the Chola Empire and they stretched over all of south India and the neighbouring islands. The main attraction is the three 11th- and 12th-century Temples. 

Location: Thanjavur, Darasuram, Gangaikondacholisvaram 

Ruler: Rajendra 1

Great Living Chola Temples: Significant Features

  1. The major tourist interest lies in Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. 
  2. The tradition of temple worship and rituals established and practised over a thousand years ago, based on Agamic texts, continues here as an inseparable part of the life of the people.
  3. The Brihadisvara temple has 53-m vimana (sanctum tower) has recessed corners and a graceful upward curving movement, contrasting with the straight and severe tower at Thanjavur.
  4. The inscriptions known as Dakshina Meru are present in the temples and the construction of this temple was inaugurated by the Chola King, Rajaraja I.
  5. The Airavatesvara temple complex, built by Rajaraja II, at Darasuram features a 24-m vimana and a stone image of Shiva.
  6. The temples testify to the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.

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9. Hill Forts of Rajasthan

Rajasthan is famous for its forts and the Rajput kings. The hill forts of Rajasthan are known for the architectural styles and bravery of Rajput rulers. These are recognized by UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Location: Rajasthan

Rulers: Rajput kings

Hill Forts of Rajasthan: Significant Features

  1. In all the six forts of Rajasthan were built between the 18th and 19th centuries. 
  2. The serial site, situated in the state of Rajasthan, includes six majestic forts in Chittorgarh; Kumbhalgarh; Sawai Madhopur; Jhalawar; Jaipur, and Jaisalmer.
  3. The Rajput style was not ‘unique’, but eclectic. It used to draw inspiration from antecedents and neighbours together with its degree of influence over later regional styles such as Maratha architecture to make it distinctive.
  4. Within the defensive walls, there were major urban centres, palaces, trading centres and other buildings enclosed.
  5. It also included temples that often predated the fortifications within which developed an elaborate courtly culture that supported learning, music and the arts was practised.
  6. All these six forts are laid on rocky terrains of the Aravali mountains.
  7. Even today, water harvesting pools in these forts build by the Rajput rulers are still in use

10. Bhimbetka Rock Shelters

The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are located in the foothills of the Vindhyan Mountains on the southern edge of the central Indian plateau.

Location: Vidhya mountains

Ruler: None

Bhimbetka Rock Shelter: Significant Features

  1. Bhimbetka reflects a long lost interaction between man and the landscape, as demonstrated through the quality of its rock art.
  2. Within massive sandstone outcrops, above the comparatively dense forest, are five clusters of natural rock shelters, displaying paintings that date between the Mesolithic Period right to the historical period. 
  3. The cultural traditions of the inhabitants of the twenty-one villages adjacent to the site bear a strong resemblance to those represented in the rock paintings.

India is full of culture and art which is significant through its ancient buildings and monuments. The cultural heritage of the country and its history is recognized throughout the world due to the preservation and upkeep of the monuments we have. 

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List of Monuments: Summarised

SNo Name Year Location
1 Taj Mahal 1648 Agra
2 Hampi Monuments 14th-16th century Bellary district, Karnataka
3 Sun Temple 13th century Konark
4 Khajuraho Temples 11th century Khajuraho, MP
5 Ellora Caves 6th-12th century Aurangabad
6 Ajanta Caves 5th-6th century Aurangabad
7 Humayun's Tomb 1570 AD New Delhi
8 Great Living Chola temples 11th-12th century Thanjavur
9 Hill Forts of Rajasthan 18th-19th century Rajasthan
10 Rock shelters Palaeolithic age Bhimbetka

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FAQ

Who was the first architect in India?

Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi is called the first architect of India

Which is the oldest monument in the world?

The Megalithic Monuments of Malta are dated back to 3600 BC and are listed as the oldest monuments in the world

Which Indian city has most monuments?

The national capital of India, Delhi has 174 monuments in its circumference. This makes it the city with the highest number of monuments

Which monument is in UNESCO World heritage list and is also one of the seven wonders of the world

Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan is one of the seven wonders of the world and is in UNESCO world heritage list
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  • DwiAug 8, 2021
    Shore Temple, Mamallapuram should have been included.
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