India has a vast number of heritage sites showcasing the diverse history and culture of the country. These six heritage sites are not quite as popular as some of the famous ones, but nevertheless deserve the same kind of visibility and attention.
It’s World Heritage Day today! Of course, it has all kinds of special meaning to us Indians. We can’t eat a dish, wear a cloth, or visit a temple without it being “heritage”. It’s all around us! So, we thought we’d go beyond the usual Taj Mahal, Rajasthan forts, and Ajanta-Ellora, and take a look at some heritage sites that really ought to be more famous within India!
The world’s biggest river island, nestled in the arms of the Brahmaputra river, is unassumingly picturesque and charmingly serene. Home to more than 100 species of migratory birds, and oozing history, it is a powerhouse of religio-cultural heritage…What more should it take to be on this list?
- World’s biggest river island
- 100+ species of migratory birds
- Known for satras/ hermitages
- Highlight: Art, culture, cuisine
Bishnupur Temples, West Bengal
The legendary Malla kings held sway over Eastern India and built breathtaking temples in the 17th and 18th century, drawing inspiration from Oriya, Bengali, and Mughal architecture. Rich terracotta figurines dominated this architectural splendour, a trade which still endures in the area. Bishnupur brings to this list a heady mix of history, mythology, and art.
- Built by Malla kings
- 17th to 18th Century
- Combination of Oriya, Bengali, and Mughal architecture
- Highlight: Terracotta figurines
Le Corbusier sites, Chandigarh
One of the pioneers of Modern Architecture, Le Corbusier, was commissioned by Jawaharlal Nehru to help build the city of Chandigarh. His most ambitious project yet, Chandigarh boasts of Le Corbusier’s expertise, experience, symbolism, and philosophy. It is among the best planned-cities on the Indian subcontinent, and an unmissable treasure for any architecture buff.
- Sites by Le Corbusier
- Based on Modern Architecture
- Cost-effective and climate responsive
- Highlight: Le Corbusier’s use of symbolism
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Bhimbetka rock shelters, Madhya Pradesh
What were humans like 1,00,000 years ago? What does a 30,000-year-old drawing look like? Bhimbetka, or Bhim baithaka, lends insight into all this, and more. It has more than 600 spellbinding caves of awe and beauty. We don’t know if the Mahabharat’s Bhim ever actually dwelt here, or if there’s really evidence here of aliens visiting earth. But here, the facts themselves are so wondrous, that fiction fades in comparison.
- Bhimbetka/Bhim baithaka, which means “the place where Bhim sat”
- Human dwellings from 1,00,000 years ago
- 30,000-year-old cave painting
- Highlight: Use of natural colours
Every person on the Indian subcontinent feels immense pride when the Indus Valley Civilization is mentioned. Lothal is the world’s oldest known dock, and one of the most prominent cities of the Harappans. The well-preserved site is an essay on the city planning, life, culture, and even death of these giants of ancient civilizations. It draws people from all over the world…When will we wake up to this treasure?
- Harappan site
- World’s oldest known dock
- City planning in ancient times
- Highlight: Advanced drainage system and canals
Narcondam Island, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
The islands of Andaman & Nicobar are truly striking. One of these gorgeous islands is Narcondam, an island created by a volcano, inactive in the recent past. It is home to the second-tallest point on Andaman & Nicobar. It is home to unique flora and fauna, including a particular species of hornbill found only on the island. Scenery, solitude, and (water) sports…Narcondam is truly full of heritage!
- Island created by volcano
- Beautiful like Andaman & Nicobar
- Unique flora and fauna
- Highlights: Narcondam hornbill (Rhyticeros narcondami)