As a part of our past, present and future, heritage is undoubtedly irreplaceable. Classifying places as World Heritage Sites because of their cultural and physical significance allows the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to ensure that countries across the globe protect their natural and cultural heritage.
There are 32-recognized India UNESCO sites, 25 classified as cultural sites and seven classified as natural sites. Tourists and locals frequent the five UNESCO sites below and trips to the other 27 are highly recommended for all cultural and nature enthusiasts.
1. Humayun’s Tomb
The cultural significance associated with Humayun’s Tomb emanates from it being the first garden tomb in India. The Mughal Emperor traveled to multiple Islamic regions and the ideas he returned with are reflected in the architectural design of his tomb. The tomb, recognized as the first structure to use red sandstone at such a scale, was used for the burial of royal family memxbers and contains at least 150 graves. As the inspiration for future architectural wonders, Humayun’s Tomb also set the stage for the exquisite Taj Mahal.
Photo courtesy | Brandon Price
2. Taj Mahal
Housing the tomb of Emperor Shah Jahan’s wife, this white marble mausoleum is recognized as an architectural phenomenon in today’s modern world. This symbol of eternal love took 22 years to complete. The fusion of Indian, Persian and Islamic architectural design elements form what is referred to as Mughal architecture. Praised for its intricate designs and unique style, the Taj Mahal is one of a kind; perhaps because the architect and workers who constructed it had their fingers cut off and were never capable of reconstructing a similar structure.
Photo courtesy | McKay Savage
3. Great Himalayan National Park
For its exceptional natural beauty and conservation biological diversity, the Great Himalayan National Park was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 2014. Home to many plants and animals endemic to the region, the park is known for its biodiversity conservation. The property not only protects 31 species of mammal, but also provides habitat for four-globally threatened mammals and three-globally threatened birds. Visitors can enjoy easy day walks in the Ecozone or challenge themselves to weeklong or longer treks through the terrain.
Photo courtesy | Partha Chowdhury
4. Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya
Considered to be one of the holiest sites in the Buddhist religion, the Mahabodhi Temple Complex marks the location where Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment. The complex encompasses the sacred Bodhi Tree, which currently is the fifth succession of the original tree that was destroyed several times by man-made misery and natural calamities. The statues of Buddha that are scattered throughout the temple are hundreds of years old. Frequented by Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims, the temple’s historical significance and serene atmosphere attracts people from all corners of the world.
Photo courtesy | Evan Lovely
5. Valley of Flowers National Park
The credit for discovering the Valley of Flowers National Park is given to British mountaineers who stumbled upon the valley on their way home. The national park, home to rare and endangered animals, is primarily known for its meadows to endemic alpine flowers and a variety of flora. The expedition to the valley begins when tourists travel to a town called Govindghat, where they can begin the 10.5-mile trek to the park. While the journey is tiresome and difficult, the scenic views and the diversity of flowers covering the park make any fatigue fade away.
Photo courtesy | Prashant Ram