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    50 Spectacular Places That Shows The Rich Cultural Heritage Of India

    India is a land of many cultures and paradoxes, with a rich history that leaves you spellbound. India is beautiful in its own right, and those who want to explore its rich cultural heritage must take a tour of the great heritage sites that are the very essence of this great country. Here is a list of 50 beautiful cultural hotspots in India that you cannot miss out on.

    1. Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh

    Do not miss a visit to the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World! Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, it stands majestically as a symbol of immortal love on the banks of River Yamuna. This beautiful poem in white marble with exquisite ornamentation of precious gemstones is an epitome of love and romance

    2. Humayun Tomb, Delhi

    Haresh Patel / Via Flickr: hareshpatel

    Talking about tombs, make sure you don’t miss one of the first and most magnificent tombs of the Mughal Rule, the exemplary Humayun’s Tomb. Being the first of its kind, many prevalent architectural elements are seen which would later go on to become iconic.

    3. Amer Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan

    sameer Goyal / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    The Amber (Amer) Fortress is one of the most popular day-tripper destinations in Rajasthan, attracting crowds by the score. Overlooking the Maota Lake, the fort is best known for its artistic grandeur.

    4. Mahabodhi Temple ,Bihar

    santhosh kumar / Via Flickr: sntsh

    First discovered and marked by Emporer Ashoka, Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya, Bihar, is considered the most sacred site of Buddhists. The inscribed pillars, stone rails and carvings are prevalent of the Buddhist architectural style. This is a world heritage site that’s certainly not to be missed!

    5. Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Kerala

    dilip ... / Via Flickr: ickypoo

    A visit to Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala, would not be complete without a visit to the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Take in the ambience and be amazed by its historic architecture.

    6. Qutab Minar, New Delhi

    stefan rudiger / Via Flickr: 61107193@N03

    Old Delhi city is awash with ancient ruins, and Qutab Minar marks the triumph of the Muslim rule. The Minar is also part of a bigger complex with ruins of tombs and monuments. Be sure to catch the Qutab Festival of Indian Classical Music and Dance in November/December every year.

    7. Hampi, Karnataka

    apadegal / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    Once declared the largest capital of Vijayanagar, Hampi has some of the most interesting ruins. Spend a day in Hampi to feel the mystical charm of the place taking you back to the old world like never before.

    8. Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

    alan adriana / Via Flickr: alan_adriana

    The ancient monuments of the Indus valley civilization, Khajuraho, are located in Chhatarpur District, Madhya Pradesh. Do not miss out on the professional light and sound show held every evening in the open lawns of the temple complex. The show covers the antiquity, philosophy and the art of sculpting of these temples.

    9. Red Fort, Delhi

    Hemp p.k / Via Flickr: 8193346@N08

    Delhi's most famous monument, the Red Fort, stands as a powerful reminder of the Mughal era. It takes your imagination way back to the ancient era with the sound and light show of the fort's history held there every evening.

    10. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, Karnataka

    manjunath / Via en.wikipedia.org

    Take time to marvel in the sights of the evolving architecture in the monuments of the Chalukya Empire in Bhagalkot, Karnataka. Starting from Aihole, followed by Badami and Pattadakkal, the magnificent rock cut caves leave you in wonder.

    11. Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan

    simianwolverine / Via Flickr: 53319892@N03

    The golden city, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is a famous tourist spot due to its magnificent design, and arts and crafts unique to this region. The enormous fort leaves you stunned with all its grandeur.

    12. Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh

    jean pierre dalbera / Via Flickr: dalbera

    The great Sanchi Stupa was built during the heydays of Buddhism in India, around the time of Ashoka, about 2200 years ago. Stupas and a few other remains are scattered all over the site, like a Vihara, a life-size statue of Buddha, a fallen Ashoka pillar, etc.

    13. Jama Masjid, Delhi

    rohan prakash / Via Flickr: rohanlabs

    Another marvellous treasure of the Indian capital lies in the old city. After a spirited climb to the top, you can feast your eyes on the stunning view of the magnificent Delhi City. Built in 1650, the Jama Masjid can accommodate 25000 devotees.

    14. Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

    pratheep / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    The outstanding cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora lie a bit away from Aurangabad. Dating back from the 2ndcentury BC to 6thcentury AD, they were chiselled out by generations of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monks - stylishly overstated but remarkably detailed.

    15. Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, Rajasthan

    Knowledge Seeker / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    If you are an astronomy buff, Jantar Mantar, Jaipur certainly is worth a visit. It is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century, one of the best preserved of India's historic observatories

    16. Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu

    emmanuel dyan / Via Flickr: emmanueldyan

    Mamallapuram was the major dock of the primeval Pallavas. A wander around the town’s splendid World Heritage–listed temples and carvings inflames the imagination. From ancient archaeological wonders to coastal beauty, the place holds the traveller aura of a typical tourist town.

    17. Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh

    kai dietrich / Via Flickr: maliboy

    Fatehpur Sikri is a fascinating ghost city. A brief capital of the Mughal Empire during the reign of Emperor Akbar, the city is an Indo-Islamic labour of art. The red sandstone fortress walls are most distinctive and photogenic at dusk.

    18. Jantar Mantar, Delhi

    A Winzer / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    If you are avidly interested in astronomy, it’s the time to visit Jantar Mantar - an ancient observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur. It has fascinating, ingenious instruments, but accurate observations can no longer be made from here because of the tall buildings around.

    19. Sun Temple, Konark, Orissa

    achilli family / Via Flickr: achillifamily

    The Konark Sun Temple is an incredible UNESCO World Heritage site. Built towards the conclusion of Odisha's temple construction phase, it's indisputably the most striking and finest known sun temple in India with a distinctive chariot shape. Don't miss the Konark Festival of Music and Dance held at the temple.

    20. Chittorgarh Fort, Rajasthan

    Santosh namby / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    Come experience the Rajput style architecture at its best at Chittorgarh Fort in Udaipur, Rajasthan. You’ll just love the fort complex of several palaces, gardens and temples, most of which have a great historical significance

    21. Rani Ki Vav, Gujarat

    Dharmesh Thakker / Via Flickr: dharmesh84

    The Queen's Stepwell or Rani Ki Vav, Patan, Gujarat speaks volumes on the sculpting skills of the artisans of the Solanki era. Built in Khajuraho style, the walls are decorated with images of Sheshsai Vishnu, Shiva and other gods and goddesses. The Vavs of Gujarat are not just sites for water collection and socialization, but also hold great divine significance.

    22. Golden Temple, Punjab

    sandeepachetan.com travel photography / Via Flickr: sandeepachetan

    The Golden temple in the holy city of Amritsar is one of the most blessed pilgrim spots of the Sikhs. It is famous for its architecture which draws on both Hindu and Muslim artistic styles. The Granth Sahib (Holy Book of Sikhs) is kept in the temple.

    23. Brihadeeswara Temple, Tamil Nadu

    simianwolverine / Via Flickr: 53319892@N03

    One of the prestigious temples of Tamil Nadu, the Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur was built by the Chola king, Rajaraja Chola. It is a World Heritage Site and the Vimana (main tower) of the temple is the tallest in the world.

    24. Champaner and Pavagadh, Gujarat

    sandeepachetan.com travel photography / Via Flickr: sandeepachetan

    The UNESCO World Heritage Site combines a sacred hill - Pavagadh rising theatrically from the plains, and a tumble down Gujarati capital - Champaner with beautiful mosque architecture. Pilgrims throng the Kalika Mata Temple, Pavagadh, dedicated to goddess Kali. This is also the place where the Rajputs committed Jauhar (mass suicide) in the face of defeat from Gujarat Sultan Mahmud Begada.

    25. Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra

    Himanshu Sarpotdar / Via Flickr: himanshu_sarpotdar

    Elephanta Island, Maharashtra is home to temples carved into the basalt rock of the island. Assumed to be built during AD 450-750, the art work seen is some of the most remarkable temple carvings in all of India.

    26. Vaishno Devi, Jammu and Kashmir

    Raju hardoi / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    Mata Vaishno Devi or Mata Rani beckons her devotees from high up the Trikuta Hills in Jammu. Experience the delight of the arduous trek that leads to the caves where the goddess resides and bestows countless blessings. The scenic landscape, divinity and thrilling adventure make this one journey in India that will remain etched in your memories forever.

    27. Bhoramdeo Temple, Chattisgarh

    Pankaj Oudhia / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    Here’s one temple that sings the glory of the magnificent architecture - the Bhoramdeo Shiva Temple, also known as Khajuraho of Chattisgarh! The temple architecture depicts a fusion of retreating mountain range style of Khajuraho and the curvilinear form style of Odisha. The temple makes it an incredibly religious place to visit in India.

    28. Mysore Palace, Karnataka

    Aastha lall / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    The heart of the Mysore city is more embellished with the great Mysore Maharaja Palace, also known as the Amba Vilas Palace. The palace, originally built by Maharaja Rajarshi His Highness Krishnarajendra Wadiyar IV, became one of the best tourist attractions in India after Taj Mahal. The three-storied stone structure, with beautiful marble domes and a 145 ft tower is constructed in Indo-Saracenic style. It is a classic blend of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic architecture styles.

    29. Jagannath Temple, Jharkhand

    Rshahdeo / Via en.wikipedia.org

    If you love architecture and are passionate about ancient history and culture, the Ranchi Jagannathpur Temple is the place to visit! The sacred shrine is believed to be an authentic reflection of Indian culture. The temple comes to life during the annual Rath Yatra

    30. Kamakhya Temple, Assam

    Sankhaneelbaruah / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    The Kamakhya Temple, a famous centre for Tantric religion is also called the temple of the bleeding Goddess. History says that the temple was built before the 7th century and flourished during the reign of the Kamarupa kings. The Nagara style of architecture is found here.

    31. Tulja Bhavani Temple, Maharashtra

    Anjali Sajan / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    The Bhavani temple in Tuljapur is located on Yamunachala, on the slopes of the Sahayadris. Bhavani is worshipped in the form of a three foot high granite image. Just lose yourself in devotion at this holy place in India.

    32. Agra Fort, Uttar Pradesh

    Artisdiary / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    Get an insight on Mughal opulence and power at the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Agra Fort! Located on the banks of River Yamuna, it is built with red sandstone and surrounded by a moat which encloses several palaces, towers and mosques in a remarkable fusion of Timurid Persian and Indian art forms

    33. Lotus Temple, Delhi

    Vandelizer / Via Flickr: jeremy_vandel

    Built in the shape of a lotus flower, the Bahai Temple in Delhi is made up of pure white marble. The architect, Furiburz Sabha, chose the lotus as the symbol common to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam.

    34. Kachari Ruins, Dimapur, Nagaland

    Ujjayan / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    The Kachari Ruins, Nagaland are an epitome of history that dates back to the 10th century. A series of mushroom domed pillars created by the Kachari Kingdom mark the site. It is now in ruins, but still worth a visit for those avidly interested in exploring the past era of Nagaland

    35. Dakshineswar Kali Temple, West Bengal

    Knath / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    Feel the power of spirituality at the Dakshineswar Kali Temple near Kolkata on the banks of the Hooghly River. The temple is famous for its association with Ramakrishna, a mystic of 19th century Bengal

    36. Rail Museum, Delhi

    Miya.m / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    This is a must visit for people with an avid interest in the rail heritage of the country! You’ll find rare and unique exhibits like the Patiala State Mono Rail Tram way (PSMT), “ Fairy Queen” steam mono rail locomotive and coach in working condition, and the more than 100 year old, only solid rubber tyre working vehicle “John Morris Fire Engine” on display. Vintage exhibits include Prince of Wales saloon, Mysore Maharaja Saloon, fireless steam locomotive, rail buses, rail cars, electric locos, etc.

    37. Kurukshetra, Haryana

    Chaskar / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    Being a place of great historical and religious importance, Kurukshetra in Haryana has a sacred association with the Vedas. The battle of Mahabharat was supposed to be fought here. Kurukshetra is intimately related to the Aryan civilization and its growth along the sacred river, Saraswati.

    38. Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh

    Ramnath Bhat / Via flickr.com

    The ancient city of Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh with a rich Hindu culture and tradition is known as the setting of the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana and the birthplace of the God King Ram. The Ram Janmabhoomi Temple is one of the major attractions in Ayodhya.

    39. Bijay Mandal, Delhi

    Varun Shiv Kapur / Via Flickr: varunshiv

    History buffs, this way please! Bijay Mandal, constructed in the 14thcentury, finds a mention in the writings of the Chinese Traveller, Ibn Batuta. The construction is typical of Tughlaq architecture and the complex looks part fort, part palace and part treasury.

    40. Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

    meg and rahul / Via Flickr: 99689885@N00

    Known as the yoga capital of world, Rishikesh located on the banks of sacred Ganga River has been a magnet for spiritual seekers. Inarguably one of the popular pilgrimage destinations in North India, Rishikesh lets you experience spirituality on a higher level. You can actually call it a gateway to treks in the Himalayas. It is also a popular white-water rafting centre and backpacker hang-out.

    41. Hill Palace, Kerala

    Gokulvarmank / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    Thripunithura Hill Palace Museum is the largest archaeological museum in Kerala and the former residence of the Kochi Royal family. Built in the traditional Kerala architecture style, the elegant palace houses a full-fledged ethno-archaeological museum and also Kerala's first ever heritage museum. Stepping into the museum here, you would come across 14 categories of exhibits including paintings, murals, sculpture in stone and plaster of Paris, manuscripts, inscriptions, carvings and many other items.

    42. Tomb of Mirza Ghalib, Delhi

    Varun Shiv Kapur / Via Flickr: varunshiv

    Popularly known as the 'Shakespeare of Urdu' - a poet in the Imperial Courts of the Mughal Empire, Mirza Ghalib’s tomb is a monument protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. It is dressed with a structure made of marble.

    43. Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa

    Aviatorjk / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    The magnificent Basilica of Bom Jesus contains the tomb and earthly remains of St. Francis Xavier, the Apostle of the Indies. Crowds are thickest at the basilica during the Feast of St. Francis Xavier held annually in December. The feast is preceded by a nine-day devotional novena, with lots of cheerful festivity alongside the open-air masses.

    44. Akshardham Temple, Delhi

    Russ Bowling / Via Flickr: robphoto

    Swaminarayan Akshardham temple in New Delhi is a symbol of breath-taking grandeur, beauty, wisdom and bliss. It epitomizes 10,000 years of Indian culture and showcases the essence of India’s ancient architecture, traditions and timeless spirituality. It is heralded by the Guinness World Record as the World’s Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple.

    45. Udaipur Palace, Rajasthan

    Magnus Manske / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    A must-visit in Udaipur is the Udaipur Palace showcasing the grandeur of Rajasthan - certainly an identity of the city! The crystal gallery, the vintage car museum, Daawat-i-Aam, Daawat-i-Khas, Maharani Palace and Lake Pichola are the major attractions, to name a few.

    46. Jewish Synagogue, Kerala

    Deepujoseph / Via en.wikipedia.org

    The Paradesi Synagogue at Mattancherry, Kochi is the oldest Synagogue in the Commonwealth and serves as an example of the Jewish cultural heritage of India. You should definitely include this location in your Kerala travel itinerary. It houses many rare antiques including four scrolls of the Torah (the first five books of Old Testament) that woos many visitors.

    47. Birla Mandir, Delhi

    Art Salilsharma / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    The Lakshmi Narayan Temple built by the industrialist Sh. J.K. Birla in 1939 is dedicated to Lakshmi (the goddess of prosperity) and Narayana (the preserver). The temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi on the condition that people of all castes will be allowed to enter the temple

    48. Meenakshi Amman Temple, Tamil Nadu

    Paulthy / Via Flickr: paulthy

    It’s now time to stand in awe of the soaring gopurams (towers) of the Meenakshi Amman Temple. With a history dating back thousands of years, Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple is a typical example of South Indian temple architecture that weaves divinity and culture together. The temple has many mandapams or pavilions, each with a history of its own. This beautiful temple is known for its incredible architecture.

    49. India Gate, Delhi

    Arian Zwegers / Via Flickr: azwegers

    Salute the war martyrs of India at the India Gate, Delhi, built to commemorate the 82,000 soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during World War I. Amar Jawan Jyoti, or the Flame of the Immortal Soldier is housed beneath the soaring memorial archway.

    50. Badrinath Temple, Uttarakhand

    Sumeet Basak / Via Flickr: click_ok_please

    Spirituality is set deep in Badrinath which is the most important of the Char Dhams of India. The Badrinath temple dedicated to Vishnu was originally established by Adi Sankaracharya. Badrinath is a scenic beautiful place, and the route is breathtaking, thanks to the lofty hilly terrain, curves and cliffs.

    India is a treasure house of cultural heritage sites. Only a few hotspots have been showcased here, but once you start exploring, you'll discover many more!

    If you are planning to visit India, we have one super helpful resource for you. The Ultimate Travel Guide to India – 121 Travel Resources for Your First Indian Trip. Do check it out!!

    We would love to know your favorite travel destinations in India! Share away your thoughts in the comments!!

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