UNESCO World Heritage Sites Of India

Suvarna Sadhu Banerjee
Suvarna Sadhu Banerjee
Travel Enthusiast.


(Declared UNESCO world heritage site in 1983.)

Probably the first of all the UNESCO world heritage sites of India, stands tall in the small town of Agra. One of the most beautiful buidlings on the planet, The Taj Mahal, is said, "where fantasy meets reality!"

Apart from its beauty and the architecture, fulfiling the criteria of being in the UNESCO world Heritage sites' list, many don't know about the tragic prayer, which Taj Mahal calls out for. Perhaps the most moving feature, engraved in perfect calligraphy on the tomb by the Emperor for his lost love, is asking for help from the almighty. "Help us, O Lord, to bear the unbearable for us mortals" it says. 

Details about Taj Mahal 


(Declared UNESCO world heritage site in 1983.)

Interestingly enough, this small town of Agra, which is situated on the banks of River Yamuna, was preferred by the Mughal rulers as their capital. Hence, this small town has three UNESCO world heritage site monuments to boast about.

This majestic fort, seems invincible and it was, in its hey days! The common belief goes that it was build by the Mughal emperor Akbar and further developed by his heirs. But in reality the fort was actually a small fortress which a Hindu war lord had built long back around the 5th century viewing the strategic importance of Agra on the banks of River Yamuna. 

Details about Red Fort of Agra



(Declared UNESCO world heritage site in 1986.)

On the outskirts of Agra, stands the tall “Buland Darwaza”, the entrance to Fatehpur Sikri, a town of victory. Built by Emperor Akbar to commemorate his victory, and a mosque built in gratitude for the saint Salim Chisti. This monument is the third one, featured in the UNESCO world heritage monuments’ list.

Although built by the Muslim ruler, Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri, stands out for its amalgamation of architectural styles.

Details about Fatehpur Sikri


All these three monuments are located in a small town of Agra, about 250 kilometres from the capital of the country; Delhi. Agra forms one angle in the famous Golden Triangle circuit of India with Delhi and Jaipur on the either side, forming the rest two angles. It takes about 3 to 4 hours' drive to reach from Delhi and about 4 - 5 hours' drive from Jaipur.

Agra falls as a major train junction for the trains going down south and south-east. Hence there are many trains which ply between Delhi and Agra. The best ones are the Shatabdi and the Gatiman Express.

Flights to Agra are scarce, as the airport is mainly used for Indian military purposes. However, plans to increase the frequency of regular flights, are on way and soon we shall see major flights landing here throughout the week.

To access the Taj Mahal and the Fatehpur Sikri, one has to either walk or take a battery van, from the parking lot. This measure was taken around 15 years back to curtail the pollution in the area, coming from the fumes of smoke of vehicles.

All the monuments are protected and the tickets are as per the standard of ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). You get one bottle of mineral water and shoe covers free of charge upon buying the entry ticket.

All three monuments open at sunrise and close at sunset. The Taj Mahal is closed every Friday. The other two monuments, are open throughout the year, unless an emergency, or a visit by the political dignitary. You can avail services of Government approved guides at the gates of all monuments. 

Although Agra is small city, it has ample choice of hotels to put up. Ranging from Home stays and cheap accommodation for the back packers to the royal stay at Oberoi or Taj Hotels.

Other than the UNESCO sites, some of the other monuments not to be missed in Agra are the Sikandara and the Idamat-ud-Daulah.



(Declared UNESCO world heritage site in 1983)

The nearly 2000 years old cave murals, carved out of rocks, on a difficult terrain, are indeed, a piece to marvel about. The 30 caves at Ajanta, were basically monasteries for Buddhist monks, who painted and decorated the walls in the most intricate manner, depicting various Jatak tales from the life of Lord Buddha.

Details of Ajanta Caves



(Declared UNESCO world heritage site in 1983)

The Ellora caves are another set of caves and are nearer to Aurangabad than the Ajanta Caves. Unlike Ajanta caves, the Ellora caves have more of sculptures than paintings, and these caves belong to 3 faiths, Hindu, Buddhist and Jain. Carved out of the strong rocks, these monolithic caves, are the best example of art and architecture which prevailed thousands of years back in India.

Details of Ellora caves


Both these caves are situated near the city of Aurangabad. Although Ajanta Caves are nearer to the city of Jalgaon in Maharashtra, Aurangabad becomes more feasible destination to travel to these caves.It takes nearly 2 hours one way, to reach Ajanta caves from Aurangabad and the full day spent visiting these caves is worth the travel. You have to take battery vans to climb the hill of the Ajanta caves. The battery vans are frequent and charge a nominal fee. 

Ellora caves comparatively nearer to Aurangabad city. A drive of 35 – 40 minutes takes you to the Ellora caves.

Both the caves open at sun rise and close at sun set, giving a full day to enjoy the beautiful sites. While Ajanta caves are closed every Monday, Ellora caves are closed every Tuesday for maintenance purposes. The mnuments are protected under UNESCO and are taken care by the ASI. You can find licenced guides at the entrance charging a nominal fee. 

Aurangabad, is one of the largest cities in the state of Maharashtra. It is well connected by Flights and trains from Mumbai and Delhi. It also well connected by road from Mumbai.

Local standard 3-star and 4-star hotels are found all around Aurangabad along with the well-known brands like the Taj and ITC hotels in the 5-star category.

Other than the UNESCO sites, some of the other monuments not to be missed in Aurangabad are the Bibi-ka-Maqbara, Aurangabad caves and the Daulatabad Fort.

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