15 Must Visit Historical Places in India for a rendezvous with history
5000 years of civilization and more has given India some fantastic historical places, monuments, legends and experiences. Paying a tribute to the glorious history and heritage, these monuments are absolutely fascinating. Right from ancient to medieval times, several kings and emperors, dynasties and kingdoms have built monuments for various reasons. However, there is no denying the fact that historical places in India draw visitors in large numbers. From the Taj Mahal to the ruins of Hampi, every fort, palace or temple is an example of outstanding aesthetics and elegance.
In this blog, we bring you the 15 must visit historical places in India.
1. Red Fort, Delhi
Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an outstanding combination of size and aesthetics. Construction took over a period of ten years, from 1638 to 1648. When the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, came to Delhi shifting his capital from Agra to Delhi, the fort was his idea of residence. It was then famous as the Qila-e-Mubarak. The octagonal fort, built in red sandstone, stands proudly amid the din and commotion of Old Delhi. It draws visitors in great numbers every day.
Know this fact. The Red Fort was not actually red but white limestone. It was the British who painted it red when the limestone started cracking off.
Timings. 9.30am- 4.30pm daily (closed on Mondays)
What you should see. One of the main attractions is the Palace of Colors or the Rang Mahal where the emperor’s wives, mistresses and maids resided.
2. Khajuraho Temples, Madhya Pradesh
Khajuraho Temples, located in the town of Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. and one of the unique structures you will come across. The temples display a very powerful emotion residing within human beings, that of eroticism and sensuality. Built by the Chandel rulers, this group of Hindu and Jain temples consist of exquisitely carved statues and sculptures that reflect the traditional Hindu values of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
Know this fact. Khajuraho derived its name from the fact that it was dotted with date palms and Khajura, which means date. In ancient times, the city was also known as Khajjurpura.
Timings. The temple is open from sunrise to sunset.
What you should see. One of the major attractions in the Khajuraho Temples is the sound and light show that depicts the struggles of Chandela dynasty.
3. Taj Mahal, Agra
Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most famous historical places in India and should be visited at least once in a lifetime. It represents the pinnacle of grand Mughal architecture and is built entirely of white marble. Shah Jahan built this magnificent monument for one of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Visitors to this grand monument are left captivated by its grandeur and perfect aesthetical proportions. It took around 22 years to complete the construction of this splendid monument.
Know this fact. There is a shopping complex and hotel being built in Dubai which is inspired by the Taj Mahal. It’s estimated to be four times larger in size than the original Taj Mahal.
Timings. The Taj Mahal is open from sunrise to sunset (closed on Fridays).
What you should see. The night time shows at the Taj Mahal are a hit among the visitors and let you see its beauty in an entirely different light.
4. Hampi, Karnataka
The ruins of Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stand as a reminder of the glory that prevailed during the Vijaynagara Empire. A visit to Hampi brings you across some of the best examples of aesthetics and style in architecture. An example of that is the Virupaksha Temple, which consists of a Lord Shiva statue carved in stone. The other attractions are the Queen’s Bath, Elephant Stables, Vijay Vittala Temple and Hampi Bazaar.
Know this fact. The first instance of human settlement dates back to 1 CE.
Timings. 10 am- 5pm (closed on Fridays).
What you should see. Check out some of the monuments with carvings from the 14th century.
5. Qutub Minar, Delhi
Qutub Minar is one of the must visit historical places in India and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, it is testimony to the first Muslim kingdom in India. Touching the skies at a height of almost 240ft, it is one of the tallest ancient towers all over the world. One of the finest example of Indo-Muslim architecture, it consists of red sandstone stories which are adorned with verses from the Quran in Arabic.
Know this fact. The Qutub Minar complex is home to an iron pillar which has not rusted even after 2000 years.
Timings. 7am- 5pm.
What you should see. One of the special attractions at the Qutub Minar is the Decorative Light Show held every evening and the Qutub Minar Festival held in October/November.
6. Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh
Fatehpur Sikri, situated at a distance of almost 40km to the west of Agra, was the short-lived capital of the Mughal emperor Akbar. It served as a short lived capital of the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. However, it had to be abandoned because of problems with the water supply, among other things. Taking a tour of this royal city brings you across courtyards, audience halls and pavilions that reflect the artistic excellence achieved during the heyday of the Mughal Empire.
Know this fact. Did you know that many women who wanted a child would come to visit the tomb of Sufi saint Salim Chisti to pray here?
Timings. Fatehpur Sikri is open from sunrise to sunset (closed on Fridays).
What you should see. Two of the major attractions inside the Fatehpur Sikri are Diwan-i-Aam and the Diwan-i-Khas. These buildings are where the emperor would hold audiences with the common people and the royals.
7. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
You have not visited the most popular tourist attractions in India unless you visit the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur. Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of Winds, was more of a gallery than a monument. It was designed by Lal Chand Ustad as a gallery from where ladies of the royal household could watch the everyday life in the street, since at other times, they had to observe the purdah. Built in red and pink sandstone, it’s shaped like a crown as the ruler of Jaipur during that time, Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, was a big devotee of Lord Krishna.
Know this fact. Hawa Mahal is the tallest building in the world without a proper foundation. It consists of 5 stories, but, without a proper foundation, leans at an angle of 87 degrees.
What you should see. Look out for the intricate lattice work displayed on the tiny windows.
8. Konark Sun Temple, Odisha
Konark Sun Temple in Odisha, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an ode to the artistic brilliance achieved under the reign of King Narasimhadeva I, the glorious ruler of Ganga dynasty. Located on the coast of Bay of Bengal, it showcases exquisite ancient architecture. One particular attraction is the entrance to the temple which shows two lions crushing elephants and a human body lying at the foot of it. The Konark Sun Temple is also known as “Black Pagoda” by some scholars.
Know this fact. The 12 wheels that are located at the base of the temple are actually sundials with accurate time telling ability.
Timings. 10 am- 5pm (closed on Fridays).
What you should see. Spend some time observing the three statues of the sun gods upon whom the rays of the sun fall at dawn, noon and sunset.
9. Gateway of India, Mumbai
Gateway of India is one of the famous historical places in India. Dating back to 1924, it was as an access point for entry and exit during the British period. The monument commemorates the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to the city in 1911. However, the structure wasn’t complete until 1924. It also played a significant role in the history of India, since it was here that the British troops departed through in 1948 after India got her Independence.
Know this fact. It was from the Gateway of India that the last British ships set sail for England in the 20th century.
What you should see. There are steps behind the gateway which allow you to take trips to Elephanta Island.
10. Mahabodhi Temple, Bihar
Mahabodhi Temple is where Gautam Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment while meditating under a fig tree. The Bodhi tree is the descendant of the Fig tree and lies in close proximity to the temple. The earliest temple, however, dates back to Asoka’s rule in the 3rd century BC. It houses an enormous Buddha statue touching the earth with his right hand.
Know this fact. Bodhimanda is the spot under the Bodhi tree where Gautam Buddha is believed to have achieved enlightenment. According to legends, this spot will be the last to disappear when the world ends and the first to reappear on the recreation of the world.
Timings. 5am- 9pm.
What you should see. The Jewel Walk is the crowd puller, because this is the same spot where the Lord Buddha is believed to have gone on a seven days walking meditation after he was enlightened.
11. Victoria Memorial, Kolkata
The Victoria Memorial is indisputably one of the best examples of British architecture in India. The idea for the monument goes to Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy. While its actual designing and implantation was by Sir William Emerson. Inside the premises of Victoria Memorial stands a beautiful garden along with a museum containing British memorabilia like sculptures, paintings, weapons and artefacts, besides others. One of the best paintings is that by the famous Russian artist Vasili Verestchagin which depicts the Prince of Wales in Jaipur in 1876.
Know this fact. There are two sets of mysterious inscriptions on the monument. One of that is VRI which stands for Victoria Regina Imperatrix (Victoria Queen and Empress) and the other is Dieu Et Mon Droit (God and my right).
Timings. 5.30am- 6.15pm.
What you should see. A special attraction is the black bronze statue “Angel of Victory” which lies at the apex of the memorial’s dome. During clear weather, it also acts as a weathercock.
12. Ajanta & Ellora Caves, Aurangabad
The Ajanta & Ellora Caves in Aurangabad are a UNESCO World Heritage Sites and an example of outstanding craftsmanship. They are also one of the most fascinating historical places in India. It’s amazing to think that each rock carving was done by hand. Also, it stuns onlookers with its intricate design and artwork. Another equally interesting fact is that these caves was an accidental discovery by the British officer John Smith. There are 29 caves belonging to Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. There are 34 caves at Ellora, out of which 12 are Buddhist, 17 are Hindu and 5 are Jain.
Know this fact. Legends reveal that the Buddhist monks did not go out during monsoons and would sit and carve in the Ajanta caves during that time.
Timings. 9.00am-5.30 pm (Ajanta caves closed on Mondays & Ellora caves closed on Tuesdays).
What you should see. By far, the most grand and exquisite work in Ajanta is Cave 26 which houses the Chaitya hall with a stupa. In Ellora, the special attraction is the “Cavern of the Ten Avatars” , a landmark dating to the reign of Krishna I.
13. Charminar, Hyderabad
A popular and exciting tale revolving around the Charminar goes that it was built by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 to honor the diving being. However, historical records state that this grand structure, and an immensely popular tourist attraction is a symbol of the ending of plague in the city. There is a common legend about the tunnel according to which, there is a secret tunnel which connects it to the Golconda fort but no such discovery has been made till date.
Know this fact. A cat’s head sits on one of the arches of the Charminar to instill fear in the hearts of rats that once almost ruined Hyderabad.
Timings. 9.30 am-5.30 pm.
What you should see. There is an old bazaar by the name of Laad Bazaar where you can purchase several artefacts. There are also a lot of food joints inside the market itself.
14. Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar
Jallianwala Bagh is the site which witnessed one of the most horrific incidents in Indian history. Located in close proximity to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, it was here on 13th April, 1919 that the British troops opened fire on a large group of unarmed protestors. This incident marks the pages of history as the Amritsar Massacre. To escape the bullets, many people jumped into the well while many lost their lives in the ensuring stampede. This incident also proved to be a turning point in the history of India’s independence struggle.
Know this fact. Till today, the walls bear the bullet marks. A light and sound show recreates the painful tale.
What you should see. You should check out the well, the Martyr’s Well, as well as the wall which still bears the marks of the bullets.
15. Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
The Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (also known as Mamallapuram) are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and stand as a glorious reminder of the past. One of the must visit historical places in India, the stone carvings at these temples display the pinnacle of Pallava art. Their construction took almost 12 years to complete. The 11 temples called Mandapas lie on both sides of the hill at Mahabalipuram. They have a unique style, especially the charming mix and have Dravidian as well as Buddhist styles of architecture. The most popular attractions here are the Shore Temple, Arjuna’s Penance and Cave Temples.
Know this fact. The “Descent of the Ganges” is a beautiful carving of pink granite. It depicts the story of how Lord Shiva brought about the descent of the Ganges from the heaven onto Earth.
Timings. 6.00 am to 6.00 pm
What you should see. The temples at Mahabalipuram often host numerous dance festivals. One among them; the Mamallapuram Dance Festival is an annual celebration that falls in the month of December of January.
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