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UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites are the places around the world that hold special physical or cultural significance. The places include mountains, forest, lake, desert, island, monument, complex building or city. The International World Heritage Programme which is administered by the UNESCO maintains the list of the World Heritage Sites. This programme was formed on November 16th, 1972. The General conference adopted this programme for the “convention concerning the protection of the World cultural and Natural Heritage.”
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India
As of 2014, the programme has identified 1007 sites as heritage sites
across the world out of which, 32 sites are from India.
India is the land of rich culture and heritage. Out of these 32 sites,
25 sites are of cultural importance and the rest are natural sites. Most
of the cultural sites in this list are ancient temples that are well known for
their sculptures and architecture. Such beautiful carvings on the stones
can be found only on the ancient buildings in India which needs to be
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Assam
The north eastern state of Assam is a beautiful state with a variety of biodiversity zones in the world. Assam is rich in deciduous forest, tropical rainforest, bamboo orchards, wetlands and grass lands. Did you know that two of the wildlife sanctuaries of Assam are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites?
Kaziranga National Park Built in 20th century Listed in Category: 337; 1985; ix, x
Located on the south banks of Brahmaputra River, Kaziranga National Park is home to the Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros. This species is endangered as it is fast disappearing. Kaziranga national park has been set up to preserve and protect the population of the One-Horned Rhinoceros. This sanctuary is also home to many other endangered beautiful birds and animals. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary Built in 20th century Listed in Category: 338; 1985; (vii), (ix), (x)
On the foothills of Himalayas, Manas National park is located on the banks of the River Manas covering an area of 50,000 hectares. This sanctuary is home to 21 endangered species of mammals. This park is also the habitat for many other different species of plants, reptiles, birds and amphibians.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites inBihar
The eastern state of Bihar which was the center of power to the rulers of Maurya and Gupta dynasties was the abode to the Buddhist monks of the ancient and the medieval periods. Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya Built in 3rd century BC, 5th and 6th century AD and 19th century Listed in Category: 1056 rev; 2002; i,ii, iii, iv, vi
Mahabodhi temple is the place where Buddha is said to have achieved his enlightenment. This temple is spread over 4.86 hectares of land. This is the oldest temple in the Indian sub-continent that was built in the Golden Age. It is believed that Emperor Ashoka built the first temple here in the 3rd century but what we see today is the temple built between 5th and the 6th century by the Gupta dynasty.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Delhi
Delhi, the capital of India has been the seat for many rulers. Since 6th century, this city has been rebuilt many times by different rulers. How can a city with such rich history fail to have World Heritage Sites? Humauny’s Tomb Built in 1570 Listed in Category: 232, 1993, (ii), (iv)
Tomb of the Emperor Humayun was built in 1570 with great innovation. It lies in the center of a luxurious garden, elevated at a height of 42.5 meters. Humayun's tomb was the first tomb ever to be built with innovations, decorated with marble slabs and chaatris. It was built by Humayun's widow Biga Begum between 1569-1570. Qutub Minar
Built in Late 12th century Listed in Category: 233, 1993, (iv)
Built with red sandstone, the tower of Qutub Minar stands at a height of 72.5 meters with a base of 14.32 meters. This site was built during 13th century with unique and beautiful Islamic architecture and artistic excellence. The materials used to build this tower has been brought by destroying many Hindu and Jain temples. Red Fort Built in 1648 Listed in Category: 231rev, 2007, (i),(ii), (iii), (vi)
Lal Qila or Red Fort was built by Shah Jahan in the 17th century. This palace is the symbol of Mughal glory and represents the highest point of artistic aesthetic creativity and architecture of Mughals. Lal Qila stands on the right bank of River Yamuna at a height of 23 meters covering an area of 656 meters.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Goa
The smallest state of India, Goa in the Konakan region is well known for its sandy white beaches, swaying palm trees and sparkling sea water. But, what many people doesn’t know is that fact that the Churches and the convents of the Goa are Listed in Category by the UNESCO under the World Heritage monuments in 1986. Churches and Convents Built in 16th and 18th centuries Listed in Category: 232; 1986; (ii)(iv)(vi)
The Portuguese Colonial Rulers in Goa built many churches and convents between 16th and 18th centuries. The Churches and Convents also known as “Rome of the Orient” are mainly located in the old capital of Velha Goa. These monuments were built by different Catholic religious orders. The materials like limestone mixed with mortar and broken sea shells were used to plaster the walls and laterites thus requiring constant maintenance to prevent any deterioration.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Gujarat
Jewel of the West, Gujarat state lies on the Kathiawar peninsula. The home state of Father of Nation is well known for its temple towns, beaches and historic capitals. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park Built in Prehistoric and 8th to 14th centuries Listed in Category: 1104; 2004; iii, iv, v, vi
UNESCO has Listed in Category Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park in the Panchamahal district as cultural site in 2004. This site is the only Islamic and pre-Mughal city that has remained unchanged. One gets to see many palaces, hill fortress, religious buildings, agricultural structures, residential precincts and water installations in this site. Rani ki vav Built 11th century AD Listed in Category: 2014
Rani Ki Vav literally means Queen’s step well. This site is located in Patan town and was built during Solanki dynasty in the memory of Bhimdev. This step well faces east and is 27 meters deep. A small gate at the last step of the well leads to a tunnel that is 30 kilometers long leading to the town of Sidhpur.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Himachal Pradesh
The beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh is situated in the Western Himalayas. With criss-cross rivers and glaciers, this mountain state is a favorite honeymoon and vacation spot for tourists both from India and abroad. Great Himalayan National Park Listed in 2014
Spread over 90,540 the Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu is home to endangered varieties of flora and fauna. This park includes alpine peaks, riverine forests and alpine meadows. Some 375 species of fauna, 31 species of mammals, 181 varieties of birds, 9 kinds of amphibians, 3 reptiles, 127 species of insects, 17 types of mollusks and 11 annelids are inhabited in this Himalayan national park.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Karnataka
The charming state of Karnataka has a lot to offer from beaches, palaces, tiger reserves, coffee plantations, and ancient ruins. The UNESCO has identified two sites as places of cultural importance and added them to the list of World Heritage Sites. Get to know a little bit about these groups of monuments here: Group of Monuments at Hampi Built in 14th and 16th centuries Listed in Category: 241; 1986; (i)(iii)(iv)
The town of Hampi on the banks of River Tungabhadra has the ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire. As it was the capital of Vijayanagara dynasty, it is rich in palaces and Dravidian temples. The famous Virupaksha temple and other monuments are listed as sites of cultural importance by UNESCO. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal Built in 8th century listed in Category: 239; 1987; (i)(iii)(vi)
Pattadakal, a holy city for Hindus in Karnataka is well known for its temples that are built by the Chalukya Dynasty. The temples are built with architectural fusion of Nagara and Dravidian features. Nine Hindu temples and a Jain sanctuary are the significant features of this city. These remarkable temples with unique combinations are built by Kings of Chalukya.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Madhya Pradesh
Being in the center of Incredible India, Madhya Pradesh is rich in heritage and history and has many things to offer to its visitors. Such three places have been added to the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi Built in 2nd and 1st centuries BC to the 12th century AD Listed in Category: 524; 1989; (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)
The sanctuaries, palaces and temples developed by the Mauryan Empire until the end of 12th century in Sanchi is located at a distance of 45 kilometers from the capital city Bhopal. The Sanchi Stupa built about 2000 years ago is an important symbol of Buddhism.It is believed that these Buddhist monuments of Sanchi have been built in the 3rd century when Emperor Ashoka ruled this region. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka Built 300,000 years ago Listed in Category: 925; 2003; (iii) (v)
Rock paintings of Bhimbetka dates back to 300,000 years ago. These rocks shelters were found on the foothills of Vindhya range of hills about 45kms from Bhopal. The paintings depicting various animals and birds, belong to the Paleolithic and Mesolithic period. The rock paintings illustrate the life of early man who lived primarily by hunting and farming. Khajuraho Group of Monuments Built: 950 AD to 1050 AD Listed in category: 240; 1986; (i) (iii)
Monuments in Khajuraho have been built to celebrate the glory of Gurjar Pratihars. These temples are famous for their unique features that represent the creativity and art of the Chandela Culture. Of the 85 Hindu and Jain temples built, today only 22 temples stand in an area of 6 sq.kms. Other temples have been destroyed by the Muslim invaders.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Maharashtra
Maharashtra with its vibrant and colorful culture has many temples, forts, beaches and mountains that fill the land with natural beauty. UNESCO listed four places from this state as World Heritage Sites which are famous attractions of the state. Ajanta Caves Built in 2nd century BC to 6th century Listed in Category: 242; 1983; (i), (ii), (iii), (vi)
The 31 rock cut cave monuments in the Ajanta caves represent the religious art of Buddhism. Built in two phases these caves stand for Indian cultural heritage. The first phase was built in the 2nd century BC. The rulers of Gupta dynasty made further development to the caves in the 2nd phase during the 5th and the 6th centuries AD. Ellora Caves Built 600 to 1000 AD Listed in Category: 243; 1983; (i)(iii)(vi)
Ellora caves reflect the religious art of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The 34 temples and monasteries sculpted on the rocks dates back to 600 to 1000 AD. The paintings have been made on the walls of basalt cliffs that are stretched at a length of 2 kilometers. Elephanta Caves Built 5th to 8th centuries Listed in Category: 244rev; 1987; (i)(iii)
The two group of caves located on the Elephanta Island in Mumbai Harbour, are a network of sculpted caves. The first group is the larger one and has five Hindu caves and the second group is the smaller one with two Buddhist caves. The architecture in the caves belong to the 5th and the 8th centuries.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Built 1887–1888 Listed in Category: 945rev; 2004; (ii)(iv)
This ancient railway station is one of the busiest railway station in India and it also serves as the Central Railways headquarters. Frederick William Stevens designed this station in 1887-1888. It took ten years to built this station. It was named as "Victoria Terminus" in honor of Queen Victoria. In 1996, the station was renamed as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Odisha
The ancient kingdom of Kalinga, Odisha is one of the important states of India, located in the eastern part of the country. It is most famous for the Jagannath temple in Puri, a sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath. The Konark Sun Temple is listed as the UNESCO World Heritage site. Konark Sun Temple Built 13th-century Listed in Category: 246; 1984;(i)(iii)(vi)
The Konark Sun temple is built like a chariot of the sun god. It was built in the 13th century in the delta of Mahanadi on the east coast of Bay of Bengal.The temple is decorated heavily with stone carvings. The temple was built by the Eastern Ganga Dynasty King Narasimhadeva I. This temple is one of the most renowned temples of India.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Rajasthan
Rajasthan, India’s largest state is the Land of Great Kings. It is famous for its forts and havelis that adorn the state. Rajasthan also has a rich culture and is noted for its folklore and handicraft. Keoladeo National Park Built 1981 Listed in Category: 340; 1985; (x)
Spread over 2,873 hectares of land, Keoladeo National Park also known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuaryis home to migrating birds that fly from Afghanistan, China, Turkmenistan and Siberia. It lies within the range of Indus-Ganges bio geographical province of monsoon forest.This man built park extends to an area of 2,783 hectares with wetland of 1,000 hectares. Jantar Mantar Built 1727 and 1734 Listed in Category: 1338; 2010; (iii)(iv)
Jantar Mantarin Jaipur is one of the five observatories in Rajasthan that was built by King Jai Singh II during 1727 and 1734. It is modeled after the one built in Delhi by the Mughal Emperors.The King built Jantar Mantar to store his collection of architectural and astronomical instruments. Today, of the five, this observatory is well kept and preserved displaying instruments that are built in. Hill Forts of Rajasthan Listed in category: 247; 2013;(ii)(iii)
Built on Aravali mountain range, the series of Hill Forts represent the defensive architecture of Rajput Military. The Forts enclose villages and huge territories with in walled compounds. The Forts of Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Gagron, Amber Sub-Cluster, Ranthambhore and Jaisalmer are part of this property. These forts show the development of Rajput military that have strong presence across vast geographical and cultural zones.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tamil Nadu
The temple state of India, Tamil Nadu is rich in culture and heritage. The state is home to classical arts and literature. It is also a popular tourist destination and noted for hill stations and beaches.
Great Living Chola Temples Built 11th and 12th century Listed in Category: 250bis; 1987; ((ii)(iii)
The Cholas during 11th and 12th centuries built great temples to spread the cultural heritage. Brihadeeswarar temple, Airavateshwarar Temple have been named as sites of cultural importance by UNESCO.These main temples have been built by the King Rajendra I and the King Rajaraja II. These temples show the architecture, sculpture and paintings of Chola dynasty. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram Built 7th and 8th centuries Listed in Category: 249; 1984; (i)(ii)(iii)(vi)
Mahabalipuram the famous tourist spot on the Coromandel coast in south India has forty monuments that have been carved out of rock. These monuments are the world's largest open air bas relief. The groups of monuments in Mahabalipuram were built by the Pallavas during their rule in the 7th and 8th centuries.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Uttar Pradesh
The northern state of Uttar Pradesh has significance presence in the history. Many pre-historic artifacts have been found in this state. Let get know what sites have been named as World Heritage Sites from this part of India.
Fatehpur Sikri Built 16th century Listed in Category 255; 1986; (ii) (iii) (iv)
The city of Victory-Fatehpur Shikri was built by Emperor Akbar in the16ht century. This city is well known for its monuments and temples built in unique architectural designs. The city full of complex structures like public buildings, palaces, mosques and large living areas for the army, courts and the servants of the King. Agra Fort Built 16th century Listed in Category 251; 1983; (iii)
The Agra fort on the banks of River Yamuna was built with red sand stone. The monuments in this fort are built with the fusion of designs adopted from Indian, Persian and Timurid art. These monuments were built in from 16th century to the early part 18th century. The fort is very close to another remarkable monument Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal Built 17th century Listed in Category: 252; 1983; (i)
Taj Mahal was built by Emperor Shahjahan in memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal. It took 16 years to build this master piece. And Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World apart from being one of the World Heritage Sites in India. It is built with white marble combing the architectural styles of Mughal, Indian, Persian and Islamic. Mountain Railways of India Built 19th and early 20th centuries Listed in Category: 944ter; 1999, 2005, 2008; (i)(iii)(iv)
The Mountain Railways of India runs five railway lines across the country. Three of them being Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Kalka-Shimla Railway and Nilgiri Mountain Railway. These railway lines have been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites for their service in the most rugged mountain terrain in India. Other two line are in the Nilgiri Mountain Railway in South India and the Matheran Hill Railway in the state of Maharashtra.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand is a beautiful state in North India which is gifted with beautiful landscapes, valleys and mountains. It was recently separated from the state of Uttar Pradesh. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park Built 1939 and 1982 Listed in Category: 335bis; 1988, 2005 ;(vii),(x)
Located in the Chamoli District, Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park is filled with alpine flowers and various species of endangered animals. This valley is famous for its alpine flowers meadows spread on the rugged mountain terrain. This valley is also home to many species of endangered animals like Asiatic black bear, brown bear, snow leopard and blue sheep.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in West Bengal
The eastern state of West Bengal has played a very important role in the ancient history and also in the history of our independence. This state is also rich with natural beauty.
Sundarbans National Park Built 1939 and 1982 Listed in Category: 452; 1987; (ix) and (x)
The Sundarbans National Park is the single largest mangrove forest in the world. This forest is a Tiger reserve for the Royal Bengal Tiger which is getting extinct at a fast pace and also a National Park that houses various varieties of reptiles and birds. This park spread over an area of 5,980 sq.kms is full of interconnected waterways.
Listed in 2012
Western Ghats are the Shayadri Mountain range on the West side of India. This mountain range is one of the top ten hottest biodiversity hotspots in the world. Thirty nine properties across the states of Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka that include forests, sanctuaries and national parks have been listed in Category as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2012.