Travel to these 7 lesser known UNESCO world heritage sites of India
M3 India Newsdesk Feb 14, 2020
Do you know of any of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India? Did you know there are 36 of them? Through this article Doctor, we want to throw light on seven of the less visited, but beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites to add to your travel wishlist for 2020.
We often visit popular landmarks or touristy spots just because we want to. We don’t always know or remember the reason why these places became popular in the first place. We rarely even realise how valuable they are to the country, and the world even.
To remind us of the significance of such places and the way they contribute to a country’s heritage, UNESCO identifies, labels and protects them as World Heritage Sites. While there are over thirty such sites in India, we want to tell you about seven of them and give you reasons to travel in 2020. If you have any upcoming medical conferences, you may want to consider extending your travel to visit any of the closest places mentioned below, or even plan your upcoming family holidays to these locales.
Khangchendzonga (Kanchenjunga) National Park, Sikkim
Home to 500 species of birds, snow leopards, and red pandas.
First on our list is the Khangchendzonga National Park in Sikkim. The Park boasts geographical diversity, what with a dense rhododendron forest, the Rathong Chu River, 18 glaciers, and 19 peaks with more than 19000 feet height, all nestled within the Park area. The area is also popular because of mount Khangchendzonga (Kanchenjunga) – the world’s third highest mountain.
The Lepcha tribe and the Tibetan Buddhists, who reside in the area consider the Rathong Chu River and the valley that surrounds it sacred. Home to over 500 species of birds, red pandas and a few snow leopards, the forest and the mountains also attract wildlife enthusiasts and birders.
These are just some of the reasons why the Park is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and included in the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme. You can explore its enchanting landscape and fauna on a 10-day trek, popularly known as the Yuksom to Goecha La trek.
Bhimbetka Caves, MP
Displays ancient drawings from the Mesolithic period.
The Bhimbetka caves near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, with ancient drawings of animals and stick figures representing humans, are like an ancient canvas that depicts the time from centuries ago. It is believed that some drawings even date back to the Mesolithic period. Located within the sandstone cliffs at the base of the Vindhya Mountain Range, these caves are spread across seven hills.
The sketches are now dull but still visible on the walls of these caves. The winding route that stretches up to a mile or so, passes through a forest, making the experience similar to visiting an art gallery. The artworks are so vivid, they make you think about the cycle of life and death between the man and the wild.
To reach the spot, you just need to drive for about an hour and a half from Bhopal. Do not miss the zoo rock and the drawing of the red horned animal chasing a stick figure.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Tamil Nadu
The only rack system railway in India.
You will be surprised to know that the UNESCO considers the Mountain Railway of India as outstanding examples of hill railways. These routes include the Kalka-Shimla, the Darjeeling-Himalayan, and the Nilgiri Mountain Railways.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a meter-gauge single-line railway that still operates a toy train between Mettupalayam near Coimbatore and Ooty, both in Tamil Nadu. It is the only railway line that employs an ABT rack system, which uses special steam locomotives.
The entire route is about 46 km long and passes through the Nilgiri Mountains. The train ride is nothing short of an adventure as it passes over 208 curves and 250 bridges and through 16 tunnels. Needless to say, the toy train ride can be amusing for people of all ages.
A perfect amalgamation of Northern and Southern architecture!
Also known as Raktapura, Pattadakal is a complex that houses Jain and Hindu temples from the 7th and the 8th centuries. Located in the Bagalakote district of Northern Karnataka, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a magnificent showcase of the northern and southern architectures of India.
The place was named Pattadakal, which means ‘a place of coronation’, and it was used for the same reason in the era of the Chalukya dynasty. The place was also considered sacred as the river Malaprabha turned from here towards the Kailasa in the Himalayas.
Architecture enthusiasts can look out for the Chalukya Dravida design style of the South and the Nagara design style of the North in the temples here. The Papanatha temple here is an eclectic mix of both art forms. One can even find various inscriptions written in Kannada and friezes of musical instruments that were designed at the time.
Yet another architectural delight!
Rani-Ki-Vav or as the Gujaratis call it ‘Rani-Ni-Vav’, is an astounding stepwell that was excavated and restored by the Archaeological Survey of India. The mesmerising stepwell was built as queen Udayamati’s tribute to her loving husband Bhima I sometime in the 11th Century. The ASI discovered hundreds of idols of Hindu gods and goddesses and walls and pillars decorated with several smaller ones. Moreover, it has seven terraces overlooking a water tank at its base, in the centre.
It is believed that step-wells were perhaps, inverted temples of sorts to worship water, apart from preserving it. Today, the place is frequented by people visiting Patan, possibly with little knowledge about the sanctity of the spot.
The city of Patan is a little over three hours’ drive from Ahmedabad. The place is also immensely popular for authentic Patola sarees, which are handwoven even today. Many say that the woven pattern on the sarees are a reflection of the intricate design of the stepwell.
Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan
India's very own 'Great Wall', second largest in the world.
The Kumbhalgarh Fort is one of the five Hill Forts of Rajasthan, which were included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list. Built on the western side of the Aravalli Mountain range, the fort’s origins can be traced to the 6th century. However, the current structure is said to have taken form under the rule of Rana Kumbha.
The fort has over 300 ancient temples, including Jain temples and those of Hindu deities, and a 60-feet deep water tank. The most remarkable part of the fort is its 36 km-long perimeter wall. It is considered to be one of the longest running walls in the world. Atop the wall, you can get a view of the Thar Desert.
The Tourism Department of Rajasthan organizes various activities during a 3-day annual fest at the fort. Visiting the fort then gives you a peek into its history and also an experience of the Mewar culture.
Chandigarh’s Capitol Complex, Punjab
Truly unique design elements, unlike anything you may have seen in the rest of the country!
If you thought that World Heritage Sites would include only old landmarks, this one in Chandigarh will change your impression about UNESCO sites. The Complex was designed by the Late Swiss-French architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, also known as Le Corbusier. Although, that is not the only unique aspect of the building.
The complex’s three buildings stand in front of Shivalik Hills and have large piazzas separating them. To reflect openness and peace, an Open Hand monument and a metal hand structure were installed within the complex.
The Capitol Complex in Chandigarh houses several government buildings of importance. However, you can appreciate the architecture by booking yourself on a guided tour at its visitor centre.
We hope you can travel to these interesting places this year. If you have more UNESCO World Heritage Sites of India to suggest for our readers, please share them with us.
Disclaimer- The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of M3 India.
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