Monuments

Taj Mahal Agra Taj Mahal in Agra, India’s most famous architectural wonder is one of the most famous buildings visited by international tourists from the world over. Taj Mahal literally means “Crown Palace” that is the most well-preserved and architecturally beautiful tomb in the world. As per the English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold “Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrote in living stones.” Taj Mahal stands on the bank of River Yamuna. This 400 yrs old monument was built by emperor Shah Jahan in 1631 in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, a Muslim Persian princess. The construction of Taj Mahal was completed in 22 years. Twenty thousand people worked on it. The material was brought from all over India and central Asia and it took a fleet of 1000 elephants to transport it to the site. It was designed by the Iranian architect Ustad Isa and inspired by Humayun’s Tomb of Delhi.

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Agra Fort- Agra : This is an important 16th-century Mughal monument known as the Red Fort also. It is situated in Agra close to the gardens of Taj Mahal on the right bank of the river Yamuna in Agra city. This powerful fortress of red sandstone encompasses within its 2.5-km-long enclosure walls, the imperial city of the Mughal rulers. There are many exquisite buildings as Moti Masjid, Diwan-E-Aam, Diwan-E-Khaas, Musamman Burj, Jahangir’s Palace, Khaas Mahal and Sheesh Mahal. Agra Fort is an excellent example of Mughal architecture. It is the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ajanta Ellora Caves Ajanta & Ellora Caves- Aurangabad: These marvelous caves are situated around 107 km from Aurangabad city near Mumbai. The famous Ajanta and Ellora are cave shrines cut out of rock, by hand are the outstanding specimens that are inspired by Buddhism and consists matchless artistic excellence. There are 34 caves at Ellora and the 29 caves at Ajanta. These caves discovered by a British Army Officer accidentally in 1819. Ajanta caves comprise Chaitya halls or shrines, dedicated to Lord Buddha and Viharas or monasteries, used by Buddhist monks for meditation and the study of Buddhist teachings. These caves have exotic paintings illustrating the life and incarnations of Buddha. Ajanta caves have been designated as a World Heritage Site.

 

Ellora Caves- Aurangabad : The Ellora caves, 34 in number, are carved into the sides of a basaltic hill, 30 kms from Aurangabad. The sculptors inspired by Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism created these elaborate rock carvings. These structures representing the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism were carved during the 350 AD to 700 AD period. The 12 caves to the south are Buddhist, the 17 in the centre dedicated to Hinduism, and the 5 caves to the north are Jain.

Amer Fort- Jaipur: It is situated at a distance of 11 kms from Jaipur. The Amer Fort complex is one of the finest examples of Rajput architecture. King Man Singh built the original palace and Sawai Jai Singh made additions. The best ways to reach this imposing fort is by elephant ride. The interiors of the fort has an amazing array of painted engravings and its parapets are adorned with intricate mirror and stone works. The Amber Palace is an awesome building constructed within the Amber Fort. There are the Diwan-e-Aam, the Diwan-e-Khas and the Sukh Niws within the palace. In Sukh Niwas cool breeze blows across channels of water for air-conditioning. The private chambers of the queens have windows with latticed screens so that the ladies could watch the proceedings of the royal court in privacy. There is Jai Mandir with its famous Sheesh Mahal.

Lotus Temple- Delhi : The Lotus Temple is also known as Bahai’s temple. It is situated in the heart of New Delhi, the capital of India. It is built in the shape of a half-opened Lotus flower. It has quiet prayer hall and tranquil surroundings. The Lotus Temple is the paragon of perfection architecturally, artistically and ethically. Lotus Temple is one of the remarkable architectures of Bahai faith. The temple looks like a lotus flower and most of the structure is made of marble. The temple has the capacity to accommodate nearly 2500 people and has nine doors that open in a central hall. The whole structure is made of white marble. It is about 40 meters tall surrounded by nine ponds and appears as if the temple is floating like a Lotus flower in water. The temple is open for all religions. The place provides immaculate environment for meditation, peace and wisdom. The Bahai temple was completed in 1986. Lotus Temple is among the most visited monuments in India. Lotus is a symbol of peace, purity, love and immortality. The lotus flower has an important place in Indian culture and society. Hence it is chosen the national flower of India and inspiration for the temple architecture.

The Bara Imambara- Lucknow: Bada Imambara is a famous monument of Lucknow that has historical, cultural and heritage importance. Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula built the Imambara in 1784. It was built as a famine relief programme. It is also called Asafi Imambara. The structure shows the mixture of Rajput and Mughal architectures with Gothic influences. The Bara Imambara is an interesting building. It has no beams supporting the ceiling. Bada Imambara is one of the largest arched constructions of its kind in the world. It is neither a mosque, nor a mausoleum, but a huge building having interesting elements. The construction of the halls and the use of vaults show a strong Islamic influence. The complex also includes the large Asfi mosque, the Bhul-Bhulaiah (the labyrinth) and a summer palace with running water. Imambara have a special place in the hearts of Shiite Muslims and is the seat of most of the meetings and congregations. Bada Imambara is also the venue for annual Mohharum gathering that is staged to commemorate and lament the martyr hood of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. The Bhulbhulaiya is a must see and the best way to find your way out without getting lost is by hiring a guide. It is said that great treasures are hidden in the secret tunnels of this maze. The monument remains open from morning 6am to evening 5pm.

Basilica of Bom Jesus – Goa: It is situated at a distance 10 kms east of Panaji, along the Mandovi river in old Goa. Old Goa has some of India’s greatest churches, one of the most popular and revered is the Basilica of Bom Jesus. One of the richest churches in Goa, the floor of the church is made of grand marble and inlaid with precious stones. The Basilica, dedicated to Infant Jesus, has been declared a world heritage monument. ‘Bom Jesus’ means ‘Infant Jesus’ or ‘Good Jesus’. Renowned throughout the Catholic world, the 16th century cathedral is India’s first minor Basilica, and is considered as one of the best examples of baroque architecture in India. The layout follows simple renaissance norms while the detailing and decoration is unabashed baroque. It was the first church in India to be raised to the status of a minor Basilica in 1946. The construction of the church began in 1594 and consecrated on 15th of May 1605 by the Archbishop, Dom Fr. Aleixo de Menezes. The mortal remains of Goa’s patron St. Francis Xavier are kept here. It is a fine example of Jesuit architecture. The Bom Jesus Church art gallery is the first and largest art gallery in Asia. Basilica also organizes a sound and light show based on the life of Christ, St. Francis Xavier and blessed Joseph Vaz and the feast is held every year on December 3. A trip to Basilica of Bom Jesus is a must when you visit Goa.The basilica is open from 6 am to 6:30 pm everyday.

Brhadisvara Temple – Thanjavur : The Brhadisvara Temple, built by Emperor Rajaraja. The Brhadisvara temple is a monument dedicated to lord Shiva and he named the lord as Rajarajesvaram-udayar after himself. The temple is constructed of granite, mostly of large blocks. The mural paintings on the walls of the lower ambulatory inside are finest examples of Chola period. The Brhadisvara temple is acclaimed as the finest achievement of Chola art built by Rajaraja in 1010 A.D. This temple has artistic excellence in the perfect balance in architecture, sculptures, paintings, bronze images and the idols. It represents Dravida style of temples in its purest form. It also represents the Tamil culture in its finest tradition of sculpture, painting, dance, music and literature. The temple enjoys the outstanding universal value and inscribed as a world heritage Site in the year 1987.

The other two temples, Gangaikondacholisvaram and Airatesvara were also built in the age of Cholas and testify their brilliant achievements in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.

Charminar, Hyderabad: This fascinating 400-year-old edifice is situated in Hyderabad, built by Quli Qutub Shah in 1591 to commemorate the end of the plague in the city. The Charminar is a major landmark of the city of Nawabs, Hyderabad. It is known for its unique and brilliant architecture. Charminar is often called as “The Arc de triomphe of the East”. This beautiful structure derives its name from four intricately carved minarets. The four graceful minarets literally mean  ‘Four Minars’ soar at height of 48.7 meters each above the ground. It is considered the legendary masterpiece of Qutub Shahi’s. The Charminar offers some exotic views of the city and the Golconda Fort. This beautiful monument looks very impressive when illuminated. Charminar has become the landmark of Hyderabad city over the period of time.

City Palace-Udaipur: City Palace is a palace complex situated in Udaipur, Rajasthan India. Maharana Udai Singh built it in 1559, after he moved from Chittor. It is located in the heart of the city on the east bank of the Lake Pichola and has several palaces built within its complex. Udaipur was the historic capital of the former kingdom of Mewar. The grand City Palace is the finest example of architectural and cultural extravaganza. It is a fusion of the Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles. It is built on a hilltop that gives a beautiful view of the Udaipur city and surroundings such as the Lake Palace in Lake Pichola, the Jag Mandir, the Jagdish Temple, the Monsoon Palace and the Neemach Mata temple etc. The entry to the palace is from the Hati Pol, the Elephant gate. The Bari Pol or the big gate leads to the Tripolia, the triple gate. The old part of the palace complex houses a museum that consists the legacy of the Rajput rulers. Some portions of the palace have been converted into hotels. The entry to the palace is from the Hati Pol, the Elephant gate. The Bari Pol or the big gate leads to the Tripolia, the Triple gate.

 

Dilwara Temples – Mount Abu: The Dilwara Jain temples in Mount Abu- Rajasthan India enshrine various Jain ‘Tirthankaras’. These temples are one of the finest Jain temples reputed for extraordinary architecture, craftsmanship and marvelous marble stone carvings. Some experts even consider it architecturally superior to the Taj Mahal. These temples were built between 11th to 13th century AD. The beautiful lush green hills surrounding the temple make it divinely attractive. These temples are constructed of white marble. There were huge blocks of marble transported on elephant backs from the Arasoori Hills at Ambaji, 23 Kms away to the hilly region of Mount Abu for the constuction of beautiful temples. Dilwara temples are a popular Jain pilgrimage center and popular tourist attraction.

Five unique temples of Dilwara

There are 5 temples in all, each with its unique identity. Each is named after the small village in which it is located. The most famous of these are the Vimal Vasahi and Luna Vasahi temples.

  • Vimal Vasahi (Shri Adi Nathji temple) dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankar lord Rishabh.
  • Luna Vasahi (Shri Neminathji temple) dedicated to the 22nd Jain Tirthankar lord Neminatha.
  • Pithalhar (Shri Rishabha Devji temple) dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankar lord Rishabh.
  • Khartar Vasahi (Shri Parshva Nathji temple) dedicated to the 23rd Jain Tirthankar lord Parshva.
  • Mahavir Swami (Shri Mahavir Swamiji temple) dedicated to the last Jain Tirthankar lord Mahavir.

Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi: Sanchi is a small village in Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is located 46 km north east of Bhopal. It is the location of Buddhist monuments dating from the 3rd. century BC to the 12th. century AD. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage. Sanchi is famous in the world for stupas, monolithic Ashokan pillar, temples, monasteries and sculptural wealth. Emperor Ashoka the Great originally commissioned the ‘Great Stupa’ at Sanchi in the 3rd. century BC.

The Sanchi stupas depict the incidents of the life of Buddha and his previous incarnations. Sanchi was virtually forgotten after the 13th Century until 1818, when General Taylor, a British officer rediscovered it, half buried and well preserved. Later in 1912, Sir John Marshal, Director General of Archaeology, ordered the restoration work at the site. Sanchi is famous in the world for stupas, monolithic Asokan pillar, temples, monasteries and sculptural wealth. Sanchi has remarkable specimen of Buddhist art and architecture from the ancient Mauryan period. It is a religious place with historical and archaeological significance. It is the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in existence and was a major Buddhist centre in India till 12th century A.D.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus- Mumbai: Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus formerly Victoria Terminus, better known by its abbreviation CST or Bombay VT, is a historic railway station in Mumbai. It is one of the busiest railway stations in India and serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways also. The building was designed by the British architect F.W. Stevens, became the symbol of Bombay (now Mumbai) as the ‘Gothic City’ and the major international mercantile port of India. The final design bears some resemblance to St Pancras station in London. It is situated on the suburban railway tracks of Mumbai. UNESCO acknowledged CST as a ‘World Heritage Site’ in 2004 for its wonderful structural design. This terminus is one of the rare specimens of the excellent fusion of traditional western and Indian architecture.

CST has become an inseparable part of the people of Mumbai as the station operates suburban and long distance trains. In 1996, the state government renamed the station after Chatrapati Shivaji, a famed 17th century Maratha king.