UNESCO World Heritage Sites Of India
THE SUN TEMPLE OF KONARK
(Declared UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984)
One of the earliest monuments declared as UNESCO world heritage site in India, the Sun Temple of Konark is dedicated to "Surya", the Sun God. Constructed in 1250 CE with a black stone, by the Narsimha Deva 1 of the East Ganga dynasty, the temple was perched on the higher grounds, near the sea. Due to this the sailors used to refer to it as "Black pagoda". This beautiful piece of architechture, is in the form of Chariot of the Sun god.
Although in ruins today, one can imagine the grandeur and magnificence, it once stood. The Chariot was pulled by seven horses, depicting 7 days of the week, and had 12 wheels on each side. These 24 wheels depict the 24 hours of the day. Each wheel, is ornately carved with 8 spikes each. The spikes depict the 8 "Prahar" of the day. These spokes of the wheel work as Sundials and the shadows cast by these can give precise time.
Three images of the Sun god inside the temple, catch the rays. Each for Morning, noon and Evening. It is said that the temple had some magnetic pull, due to which it made many ships get attracted and eventually crash on the shore.
Today the temple is in ruins but it definitely gives a glimpse of the glory. Once a year a beautiful cultural event is held with the temple as the back drop.
The monument is in Konark, in the eastern state of Odissha. It is near to Puri, where the famous Jagannath Temple is located. Best way to travel is by flight to Bhubaneshwar, the capital city and from there drive to Konark. Puri is also well connected by train services.
The monument is open for visitors from Sunrise to Sunset and UNESCO and ASI applicable entry fee. Other than the Sun temple, a must visit temple is the Jagannath temple in puri which is hardlyan hours driving distamce. Although non-hindus are not allowed in the main sanctrum of the temple, the architecture and the cultural extravaganza is not be missed.
Konark itself has very few hotels and to live in Puri is the best way to visit the UNESCO monument.
THE SHORE TEMPLE, ARJUNA'S PENACE & THE PANCH RATHAS, MAHABALIPURAM
(Declared UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984)
Around 60 kileometers from Chennai, the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, on the coramondel coast on the the Bay of Bengal, are these amazing group of monuments. All in the city of Mahabalipuram (Mammallapuram), the monuments hve been built between 7th & 8th Centuries. Most of these were built by the Pallava Kings and nurtured and developed further by the mammalla Kings.
There are about 40 monuments which came under the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1984 as a cultural heritage. The beautiful Shore temple, intricately carved and dedicated to Lord Shiva, is supposed to be one of the many such temples which are considered to be lying under the sea.
The Pancha rathas, which are 5 temples made out of one rock, are considered to be chariots. But actually they are the phases of temple architecture, which evolved with time.
The last but not the least, 11 Cave sanctuaries covered with bas-reliefs, rock relief of Descent of the Ganges, which is the largest open air Rock relief also known as Arjuna's Penance or Bhagiratha's Penance.
Enrty fee is applicable as per UNESCO and ASI guide lines and all the monuments are open for visitors from Sunrise to Sunset.
Hardly an hour's drive from Chennai, which is very well connected by Air, Train and Road. Mahablipuram has a range of hotels from Taj to IHG in the higher ranges and many others. Other than the UNESCO monuments, other places to must visit are the butter ball and the Dakshin Chitra.
THE CHURCHES AND CONVENTS OF OLD GOA
(Declared UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986)
Goa, one of the smallest state in the country was ruled over by the Portugese for the longest period. During this they built many Churches and convents. This cluster of Churches was given a a UNESCO Wolrd Heritage status in 1986. These 7 churches, are all built between 15th to 18th Centuries and over the years have stood the time.
The Church of our Lady of the Rosary: This was one of the first Churches built by the Portuguese, in Goa. The Church looks like a fortress and inside, it highlights the Manueline vaults of the chapels.
The Se Cathedral: Goa was elevated to the seat of a bishopric in 1534 by Pope Paul III, and a towering cathedral church dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria was built in the first decades of colonization. Although it was rebuilt over the years to accommodate the faithful, this remains one of the firest churches of Goa.
The Basillica of Bom Jesus: The Society of Jesus arrived in Goa in 1542, and its most important figure in these early days was the Francisco Xavier, considered the Apostle of the East. The church Bom Jesus is a single nave temple. It is is covered by a curved wooden liner and has no side chapel. The facade of the church is the work of Domingos Fernandes. Most importantly, in the interior of the church is the transept chapel where lie, since 1655, the remains of Francisco Xavier, in a silver urn finely crafted by local artists.
Church of St. Francis Assisi: This beautiful Church has a single vaulted nave with side chapels and transept, covered by stucco and paintings. The main chapel has several paintings on the life of St. Francis of Assisi and a large gilded altarpiece dating from c.1670.
The other churches given the statues are Chapel of Santa Catarina, Church of Saint Augustine (which is un ruins) and Church of divine providence.
All the churches are normally open for visitors from Sunrise to Sunset. There is no Entry fee levied for the visit to the Churches.
Goa, simply means bliss on the sea shore. Aprt from these beautiful Churches, there are lot many things and monuments not to be missed in Goa. Goa is a magnificent hybrid of oriental and European culture set in a tropical landscape in India. There are many fragrances to this exotic land and its charm lies essentially in the fact that it’s possible for every tourist to find exactly what he is looking for in this little haven. The people are welcoming the food is delicious and the wines are good, the exotic and the intoxicating locations are topping on the cake!
Many hotels and home stays are available in Goa where one can enjoy the stay, near to a beach or in the interiors of the city, whichever way you prefer.
The Mangeshi Temple, The Shanta Durga temple, the flea market and the beautiful northern and southern beaches are the must visit places in Goa. Easily accessible by Air Rail and Road, it has become a prime destination of India.