What is the World Heritage List, and how does a country get to be a part of it? In layman terms, it is a protection list that has been in effect since 1976. Countries put in a request to a committee of people who will review the information provided, and hopefully approve and agree of the value of that building, land, or other areas that it benefits mankind, and to have the funds necessary to make sure that this piece of history is protected. So, when traveling to India, don't miss these top 5 world heritage sites in India.
Great Living Chola Temples--These temples were built during the 11th and 12th century, during time of the Chola Empire, which included all of south India and nearby islands. The site includes the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram.
It is because these temples are a perfect testiment of the architecture and the ideology of the Chola Empire and the Tamil civilization.
Fatehpur Sikri--Translated as the "city of victory," this was the capital of the Mughal Empire for almost ten years. A very wise woman, Shaikh Salim Chisti, predicted to the Emperor Akbar that his future son, Jahangir, would be born on this site. It is because of this prediction that Akbar built this city, and supervised the construction until its completion in 1573. However, Akbar left the city to go to war against the Afghan tribes, and in the end, chose a new capital that was more convenient, Lahore. Before leaving for war, he did see the predicition of his son's birth come true in 1569. Akbar's son, Jahangir, returned to Fatehpur Sikri in 1619. It was soon abandoned after Jahangir's death, and the city remained abandoned until its discovery in 1892.
There is no way to describe the beauty and grandeur of this once grand city, but it did make the list due to the religious and votive monuments, the tomb holding Shaikh Salim Chisti's body attributed with highly detailed art and inscriptions that was even further detailed when Jahangir came back to live in the city, and having one of the largest mosques in India, Jama Masjid. Truly a cultural heritage worthy of reverence.
Humayun's Tomb--This tomb was commissioned by Humayun's widow, 14 years after his death. However, this does not house just Humayun, it also has 150 members of the ruling family buried inside. This is of cultural and sub-continent importance as this is the first garden representation--complete with causeways and channels--of a tomb and domed architecture that would be noticed a century later when a grieving husband had his wife's body entombed under such a domed building, the Taj Mahal.
Under the guidance of Humayun's widow, this building's design was precise and well thought out, incorporating ideas from Humayun's travel to Persia and Asian countries, and because of such planning, the tomb has withstood time with minimal interference.
Sun Temple, Konarak--Like the Brahmin Temple on the east coast of India, this place was a center of sun worship. In truth, archeologists are not sure who built the temple, but it was most likely, King Narashimhadev I of the Ganga Dynasty. It fell into disuse when Jahangir, the Mughal Emporer, sent his warriors over to desecrate it. According to legend, the true architect is Samba, Lord Krishna's son. He was given leprosy, but it was after 12 years of pennance, the sun god Surya, cured him. To honor Surya, Samba built this temple for him. It is a beautiful representation of the sun god's chariot that is being pulled by seven horses (due to time, six now).
Elephanta Caves--this is one of the most brilliant collections of rock art in India. This island consists of seven caves and is still largely argued over how old it is. The general consensus is that it has to be between the 6th and 8th century. This island is supposed to have been the home of Shiva, and in these caves, you will see many carved depictions of him. These caves are also considered a great collection of the following of Shiva.
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