South Asia is a region that comprises several countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives. It is known for its diverse range of architectural styles and influences, ranging from ancient indigenous styles to colonial and modernist architecture. The region is characterized by notable architectural styles such as Hindu temple architecture, Mughal architecture, colonial architecture, and diverse vernacular architecture that vary from region to region. The architecture of South Asia reflects its rich cultural, historical, and geographic influences. The region has been home to several civilizations throughout history, each of which has left behind a unique legacy of architecture and design. From the ancient ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization in present-day Pakistan to the intricate carvings of the Khmer Empire in Cambodia, South Asia’s architectural heritage is as diverse as it is impressive. In this article, we will explore the history and characteristics of South Asian architecture and highlight some of the region’s most iconic structures.

A region with a rich and diverse heritage spanning thousands of years, South Asia is immersed in history and culture. The archaeological sites of South Asia provide a fascinating window into the past and the civilizations that shaped it, with examples ranging from ancient temples and cities to palaces and fortresses. The top ten archaeological sites in South Asia, as well as their significance, are examined in this article.

Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan

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Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, Pakistan_©Dawn
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Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, Pakistan_©Dawn

Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro are two historic cities that are now part of Pakistan and are regarded as some of the most significant archaeological sites on Earth. These cities belonged to the Indus Valley Civilization, which flourished from nearly 2500 BCE to 1900 BCE. It was one of the world’s earliest and most developed civilizations. The Indus Valley Civilization’s urban planning, engineering prowess, and social and economic systems are all revealed in detail by the ruins of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. 

Hampi, Karnataka 

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Hampi Karnataka_©Housing

The Indian city of Hampi, which is a part of the state of Karnataka, is renowned for its magnificent architecture and long history. The Vijayanagara Empire, which ruled over India between the 14th and 16th centuries, had this as its capital. Numerous temples, palaces, and other buildings on the property serve as examples of the empire’s architectural achievements. One such building is the well-known Vittala Temple, which is renowned for its intricately carved stone pillars and chariot-shaped shrine.

The site also has several inscriptions in Sanskrit and Kannada that provide valuable information about the history and culture of the region. Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered an important pilgrimage site for Hindus, who come to visit the numerous ancient temples and religious monuments. Its stunning architecture, rich history, and cultural significance make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in South Asian archaeology. 

Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka 

Anuradhapura was the capital of the ancient Sinhalese kingdom of Sri Lanka. The site has several Buddhist temples, stupas, and other structures that date back to the 3rd century BCE and provide insights into the religious and intellectual traditions of the region.

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Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka_©Traxpolio
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Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka_©Aqua Firma

Bagan, Myanmar

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Bagan, Myanmar_©The Independent

Bagan was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom that existed in Myanmar between the 9th and 13th centuries. The site has over 2000 Buddhist temples and pagodas, making it one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Asia, and providing a glimpse into the religious and cultural life of the kingdom.

Taxila, Pakistan 

Taxila was an important centre of learning in ancient India, and its ruins provide insight into the intellectual and religious traditions of the region. The site has several stupas, temples, and other structures that reflect the diverse cultures and influences that shaped the region.

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Taxila, Pakistan_©Xinhuanet

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka 

Sigiriya is a fortress and palace complex that was built by the ancient Sinhalese king Kasyapa in the 5th century CE. The site is famous for its frescoes, which depict scenes from the ancient world, and for its advanced engineering and architectural design.

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Sigiriya Rock, Sri Lanks_©Traxpolio

Angkor Wat, Cambodia 

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Angkor Wat, Cambodia_©Expeditions

Angkor Wat is a temple complex that was built by the Khmer Empire in the 12th century. The site is renowned for its intricate carvings and elaborate architecture and provides a glimpse into the religious and cultural traditions of the empire.

Takht-i-Bahi, Pakistan 

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Takht-i-Bahi, Pakistan_©Wikipedia

Takht-i-Bahi was a Buddhist monastery that was active between the 1st and 7th centuries CE. The site has several well-preserved stupas, temples, and other structures that offer a glimpse into the daily life of the ancient monks and the influence of Buddhism in the region.

Borobudur, Indonesia 

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Borobudur, Indonesia_©Audley Travel
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Borobudur, Indonesia_©Audley Travel

Borobudur is a Buddhist temple complex that was built in the 9th century. The site has several intricate carvings and sculptures that depict scenes from Buddhist cosmology and is one of the most important Buddhist sites in the world.

Mahasthangarh, Bangladesh 

Mahasthangarh was an ancient city that was founded in the 3rd century BCE. The site has several ruins, including a fortified citadel, a palace complex, and several temples, and provides a glimpse into the social, economic, and political structures of the ancient city.

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Mahasthangarh, Bangladesh_©Zyro

n conclusion, South Asia is home to a vast array of archaeological sites that provide a glimpse into the rich history, culture, and traditions of the region. From the ancient cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan to the temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, these sites offer a unique opportunity to explore the achievements of past civilizations and the ways in which they have shaped the present. Whether you are interested in architecture, religion, or the social and political structures of the past, there is something for everyone in South Asia’s archaeological sites. Visiting these sites can be an enriching and enlightening experience, allowing us to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the region’s rich heritage.


Raivati grew up in Ahmedabad, India and have always been fascinated by people, places and stories. She has completed three-year diploma course in Architecture, Bachelors of Design (Major : Space Design) from Anant National University, and currently pursuing my Master’s in Architecture and Urbanism which is focused on Computational Design, Robotic Digital Fabrication and Urban Design from University of East London. She always looks forward to expand through experiencing and learning different things while working, travelling and capturing the essence in every possible place she can. She is skilled in AutoCAD, Maya, Sketch-up, hotoshop, Architectural Writing, Design Research, Architectural and Interior Design. She has worked with various Architectural and Interior Design firms in Ahmedabad, India and in London, United Kingdom like Sachin Gandhi and Associates, Accanto Interiors, etc. She has a keen interest in Urbanization, and about how cities get evolved due to people and identities. Being in this process, she has learned to manage time and challenges and always plans to engage herself with work which gives happiness and learnings.