India is blessed with a vast landscape and a rich cultural and natural heritage. It is home to a total of 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites as of 2020. This makes India the country with the 6th largest number of UNESCO world heritage sites. The maximum number accounts for cultural sites which are about 30, followed by 7 natural sites and 1 mixed. Yet there are many sites that hold a deep history and importance to it but have not received recognition as much as it deserves.
So, let’s get to know such beautiful and unique places in India that deserve UNESCO recognition.
1. Raigad Fort, Maharashtra
Raigad fort is situated in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. Built-in stone, lead, and wood, the Raigad fort holds a vast history of the Maratha Empire since 1656. Once owned by the famous Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the 820-meter high fort is now open to all. We can see the well-constructed 1737 steps leading to the fort. The replica of the original throne is placed facing the main doorway in King’s durbar. This enclosure is completely designed using a very good knowledge of acoustics so that it aids in hearing from the doorway to the throne. The fort complex comprises of numerous architectural features like queens chambers, six other chambers with own private restrooms each, 3 watchtowers, ruins of a market, an artificial lake called Ganga Sagar Lake, Maha Darwaja, Nane Darwaja, Hirakani Buruj, King’s durbar, Nagarkhana Darwaja, Mena Darwaja, Palkhi Darwaja, Takmak Tok, a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the Khubladha Buruj, Samadhi of Jijabai Saheb (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s mother), and the Hatti Talav.
Raigad Fort has an immense historical as well as architectural value to it and hence deserves UNESCO recognition.
2. Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh
Tawang Monastery is the largest monastery in India and is the second-largest in the world. Situated in the valley of the Tawang River, it houses unique gold and silver idols of Lord Buddha and numerous artefacts. The main temple was constructed in 1860-1861. The enormous statue of Lord Buddha about 5.5 meters in height is said to be brought from Tibet centuries ago and remains a major attraction to date. The three-storied monastery consisting of the large assembly hall, 65 residential quarters, and ten other functional structures gives it a feel of a mansion. The monastery has many religious texts with Buddhist teachings and it remains an important place with Buddhist culture and architecture.
3. Chand Baori, Rajasthan
Chand Baori, situated in a small village of Abhaneri, Rajasthan, is a stepwell approximately constructed during the 8th or 9th century. A large temple is constructed near Baori. The long corridors of steps go about five to six floors below the ground level. Consisting of 3500 narrow steps over 13 stories, it extends 30 meters into the ground. This makes Chand Baori one of the deepest and largest step wells in India. Furthermore, Chand Baori is a unique example of how water harvesting was done in that era.
4. Unakoti, Tripura
Unakoti is a hill in the state of Tripura with a large rock relic celebrating the Hindu deity Lord Shiva. It dates back to around the 7th to 9th centuries. There are two types of images found on the hill, namely, rock-cut carvings and stone images. The central head of the Shiva is 30 feet in height along with an additional 10 feet high headdress. Along with Lord Shiva, the hill also holds images of Lord Ganesh, Goddess Durga, the Nandi (the bull), and many other deities. The Government of India has approached UNESCO to declare it as a world heritage site but it is not yet declared as one.
5. Phuktal Monastery, Ladakh
Phuktal Monastery is the only Buddhist monastery located in the Lungnak Valley in Ladakh which can be reached only by foot. It is based around a natural cave and constructed in the 12th century. Today’s structure houses the main temple, a library with rare sacred texts, prayer rooms, teaching facilities, apartments, a kitchen, the sacred spring, and the original cave.
6. Lonar Crater, Maharashtra
Lonar Lake, commonly known as Lonar Crater, is a saline and soda lake, located at Lonar in Buldhana district of Maharashtra. It was created by an asteroid collision 35,000 and 50,000 years ago and is one of the four hypervelocity impact craters in basaltic rock found on our planet. The mean diameter of Lonar Lake is about 1.2 kilometers and the depth from the crater rim is about 137 meters. Hence, it is one of the unique places found on Earth and deserves to be in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
7. Yaganti Temple, Andra Pradesh
Yaganti Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in the Kurnool District of Andra Pradesh. Constructed in the 15th century, Yaganti has many beautiful architectural elements. Pushkarini, a small pond is present on the temple premises. The fresh and sweet water flows through the hill into the lake through the mouth of a Nandi (bull). One astonishing feature of Yaganti is the Growing Nandi, the idol of Nandi in front of the temple is believed to increase in size. It is found that the rock, out of which the idol is carved, is said to have a growing or expanding nature.
8. Vaishali, Bihar
Vaishali was a city in present-day Bihar to hold archaeological importance. Gautama Buddha, well known for establishing Buddhism, preached his last sermon here before his death in c. 483 BCE. Hence, it is considered to be a place of importance for Jain and Buddhist devotees. The city comprises monasteries, stupas, and museums. Also, it is home to one of the best-preserved Pillars of Ashoka which is topped by a single Asiatic lion. In conclusion, we can say that the site of Vaishali holds historic, architectural as well as cultural value to it and makes it one of the worthy sites to receive the recognition of UNESCO.