Introduction to Historical Places To Visit In India
“India is a curious place that still preserves the past, religions, and its history. No matter how modern India becomes, it is still very much an old country”; quoted Anita Desai, a Famous Novelist. The historic era has stayed entrenched in Indian society due to numerous historical places in India. It would not be wrong if I say that India carries one of the oldest civilizations in the world.
From the very beginning, India has experienced the rule of several kings and empires. India has several amazing historical monuments, places, palaces, legends, etc. How is it so? It is because of 5000-year-old civilization! These monuments and places pay a much deserving tribute to India’s glorious history. Also, they are so fascinating that one cannot stop visiting them. When we talk about historical places in India, the list is endless. UNESCO World Heritage Sites has listed many historical places in India.
Historical places in India indeed draws a large number of visitors around the globe. Listing down all the historical places of India in one article is not possible, but I have given it a try. Let’s read about a few of the historical places.
Historical places In Uttar Pradesh
Taj Mahal – Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Counted as one of the 7 wonders of the world & a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taj Mahal is one of the most famous & beautiful historical places in India. It lies in the lap of Agra, Uttar Pardesh & looms evocatively from the banks of the Yamuna River. Visit Taj Mahal at least once before you die! This is what I would say. It represents the pinnacle of grand Mughal architecture. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built it in the memory of one of his beloved wives, Mumtaz Mahal.
This iconic piece of architecture is built entirely of white marble. Its ultimate grandeur and mesmerizing aesthetical proportions leave the visitors captivated. It took more than 21 years to construct this splendid monument.
Also, the men who were at work on the site, their arms were cut-off from their bodies after the construction came to an end. Nobody should be able to build a piece like again; this was the logic behind doing so. An Interesting Fact About the Taj Mahal is that Dubai has a shopping complex and a hotel inspired by it. It is almost 4 times the Taj Mahal.
Timings. 6:00 AM – 6:30 PM (Friday closed).
Fatehpur Sikri – Uttar Pradesh
The Mughals indeed have built some of the finest and the most beautiful monuments in India. Fatehpur Sikri, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, has set another example of the same. We can say that it is more of a small city than a monument. It was built during the reign of the Mughal King Akbar. This royal place is home to various buildings like Birbal’s Palace, Jama Masjid, and Tomb of Salim Chisti. Also, 2 buildings Diwan-i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khas are a must to visit when you are in Fatehpur Sikri.
The city served as the capital of Akbar. The place where the legendary singer Tansen practiced his singing can also be witnessed there. The Buland Darwaza at the entrance is a must-watch. It approximately measures 54 meters. Women who were unable to get pregnant & give birth to a child used to visit the Salim Chisti tomb and seek blessings.
Timings: It remains open from sunrise to sunset (closed on Fridays).
Historical Places In Delhi
Red Fort – Delhi
Another promising historical place in India, the Red Fort was also constructed by Shah Jahan and is located in the capital city, Delhi. It was in 1638 when the construction of Red Fort had begun. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had built it when he shifted the capital from Agra to Delhi. Qila-e-Mubarak is its former name. Its octagonal shape makes it one of the most famous historical places in India. The honorable President gives his speech at Red Fort every year on Independence Day (August 15).
It is indeed remarkable and has small shops inside. One can buy various accessories and other stuff. When constructed, it was white as it was made of limestone. Later, the British men painted it red. The emperor’s wives, mistresses, and maids used to stay in the ‘Rang Mahal’. It is a must-visit when you go to Red Fort.
Timings: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm daily (Closed on Mondays)
Qutub Minar – Delhi
The Qutub Minar, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, is again a beautiful piece of art. It is an ultimate example of Indo-Muslim architecture. The iconic monument touches the sky as it stands 240ft above the ground. It was named after Qutub-ud-din Aibak, a deputy of Muhammad of Ghor, as he had started the construction of Qutub Minar. Verses from the holy Quran are finely carved onto the red sandstone stories. Most of those are in the Arabic language. The first-ever mosque in India, Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid is located at the foot of the incredible Qutub Minar.
The Qutub Minar Complex has an iron pillar that has not rusted even after 2,000+ years of its construction. One should just not miss the decorative light that is organized daily in the evening from 1800 hrs to 2000 hrs (6:30 PM to 8:00 PM). Also, The Qutub Minar Festival is something you should not miss at all. It is held every year in October/November.
Timings: The Qutub Minar remains open from 7:00am to 5:00pm daily.
Historical Places in Rajasthan
Hawa Mahal – Jaipur, Rajasthan
Jaipur, The Pink City is again one of the most popular historical places in India. Jaipur followed a ritual called the ‘Pardah System’. The people were quite curious about the happenings of the whole world. Hence, Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh built the iconic Hawa Mahal for them. Hawa Mahal, on observing closely, looks like a crown.
The Emperor who built it was a devotee of Lord Krishna. Lal Chand Ustad had designed the “Palace of Winds” or the Hawa Mahal. It beautifully resembles a beehive honeycomb with its 953 intricate windows. It is fortunately considered to be one of the tallest buildings in the world without any foundation. The minute latticework on the little windows of the Hawa Mahal is intricate and admirable.
Timings: It remains open on all days from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
Amer Fort – Rajasthan
Amer Fort, the name in itself is royal enough. It indeed occupies an honorable place in the list of popular historic places in India. Amer Fort is undoubtedly a place which you cannot afford to miss during your trip to Rajasthan. It was built with white & red sandstone and stands still as an example of ancient Indian architecture. It is home to several buildings such as Diwan-i-Khas, Sheesh Mahal, Diwan-i-Aam, etc. Several paintings in the fort depict the portraits/hunting of the Rajput rulers. Amer Fort has a series of gates, each one possessing a unique architectural element. An Elephant Ride at the Amer Fort is a delight and it takes to the Suraj Pol (Sun Gate).
At the entrance, lies the Sila Devi Temple. The Rajput kings used to worship there. It was from Maharaja Man Singh’s time in the 16th century until the 1980s, when animal sacrifice was completely stopped. The Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace) is the greatest attraction in Amer Fort. With its colored glasses & mirror mosaics, it is indeed a crowd-puller.
Timings: The Amer Fort remains open from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
Historical Places in Maharashtra
Gateway of India – Mumbai
The Gateway of India, located in Mumbai is one of the most popular historical places in India. The British had built it in 1924 and is indeed considered to be one of the most iconic landmarks of India. It was actually built with an idea to create an entry and exit point during the British period. The Viceroy, the Earl of Reading had integrated it. Though it built with just an idea to create entry and exit points; however, it has now become a famous & one of the favorite picnic spots for people.
There are dozens of street vendors serving tasty street food items & other snacks. The vendors are accompanied by balloon sellers and other selling different items/toys. The last British ships set sail from England in the 20th century from the Gateway of India. The steps behind the Gateway of India would lead to visit the Elephanta Island.
Timings: The Gateway of India remains open from 12 Noon to midnight
Ajanta & Ellora Caves – Maharashtra
Another famous historical place in India is the Ajanta and Ellora Caves in Maharashtra. Both of them are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and draw tourists in impressive numbers. The caves consist of sculptures & artifacts that belong to 3 different religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. There are 5 Jain caves, 12 Buddhist caves, and 17 Hindu caves. The monks used to study, pray, and meditate in the caves. The British officer John Smith has all the credit for discovering these caves. He was the one who stumbled upon these historic sites. It was in the year 1819 when he was on a tiger hunt. The caves’ artifacts depict the past lives and rebirths of the great Gautam Buddha.
Buddhist monks were prohibited from moving out during the monsoons. Hence, they utilized that time by carving beautiful sculptures in the Ajanta caves. Ajanta & Ellora Caves are deservingly counted among the top places to visit in Maharashtra. Cave no. 26 is a major sight of attraction as it houses the exquisite Chaitya hall with a stupa. On the other hand, “Cavern of the Ten Avatars” is the major attraction in Ellora.
Timings: Ajanta & Ellora caves remain open from 9 AM to 5:30 PM. (Ajanta Caves remain closed on Mondays while Ellora Caves on Tuesdays).
Historical Places To Visit In South India
Konark Temple – Odisha
Konark Temple in Odisha is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site and it stands in all its resplendent fame & glory. Its beauty is mesmerizing and gives an ultimate pleasure. It was built by the ruler of the Ganga Dynasty, King Narasimhadeva I along with 1200 artisans in his stone. The temple is devoted to “Lord Surya”, the Sun God. The fabulous Kalinga architecture of the temple will leave you spellbound. The gigantic chariot, walls, and pillars give the temple an authentic Odisha touch.
European sailors had referred to this structure as the “Black Pagoda”. At the temple’s gate, there is a depiction of 2 lions crushing elephants along with a human body, lying at the foot of the elephant. The 12 wheels at the temple’s base are actually sundials. They accurately measure and denote time. The moment when the sunrays fall down on the three statues of the Sun Gods is such a treat to the eyes.
Timings: Odisha’s Konark Temple remains open from 10 AM to 5 PM (remains closed on Fridays).
Mysore Palace – Mysore
One can’t fathom the greatness of the Mysore Palace unless they come face to face with the same. When you visit the Mysore Palace, you feel like you have entered a fairyland. It is so beautiful that you just can’t get your eyes off. Lord Henry Irwin, a British Architect built it in the year 1912. It was built in Indo-Saracenic style. It features intricate interiors as they are adorned with ornate ceilings, stained glass windows, jeweled corridors, and open mandaps.
Several Wadiyar memorabilia, including the jeweled throne, can also be seen there. The Palace also hosts the festivities of Dusshera. It becomes a spectacular sight during those days. Mysore Palace is illuminated with more than 1,00,000 lights during the festival of Dusshera. The golden palanquin used to serve as a seat for the Maharajas earlier but is now occupied by the idol of Goddess Durga.
Timings: The Mysore Palace remains open from 10 AM to 5:30 PM on all days except Sundays & government holidays.
Charminar – Hyderabad
Charminar in Hyderabad has many stories to tell about its history. One of those stories state that Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah had built this beautiful monument in 1591. He did this with a feeling to express his reverence to Allah. Charminar was built to celebrate the end of the plague in Hyderabad, this is what another story says. The monument has a secret tunnel that runs from there to the Golconda Fort. I cannot stop myself from quoting that this monument has a beautiful and elegant architecture.
Charminar, as the name suggests, has four pillars, each measuring around 20 meters from the side. It never fails to captivate the passers-by and onlookers. Your visit to Hyderabad is surely incomplete without a visit to the Charminar. A wonderful sight at the Charminar is that of a cat’s head that is there on one of the arches. Its purpose is to scare away rats as they had once almost destroyed the city. Charminar has Laad Bazaar situated in close proximity. One can find unique artifacts there. There are several food joints in the market itself.
Timings: Charminar remains open from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM on all days.
Hampi – Karnataka
Apart from being another UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this place is really beautiful. You just can’t afford to miss this! Hampi seems to be stuck in time, waiting for regular life to resume on the streets, temples, and other places. One would admire almost every corner of this beautiful place. Every stone a past story to tell. The great ruler of the Vijayanagara Empire, King Deva Raya II had built Hampi.
If you are an ardent lover of art and history, Hampi is a paradise for you. It is for those who want to explore the achievements and glories of the historic ages. The sculptures of Lord Shiva are one of the great attractions in Hampi. There are many other attractions which include the chariot structures, gopurams, and elephant stables. The Virupaksha Temple leaves the tourists mesmerized. It also contains multiple carvings on sculptures and that dates back to the 14th century.
Timings: Hampi remains open from 10 AM to 5 PM.
Victoria Memorial – Kolkata
The Victoria Memorial is yet another beautiful & historical place in India. The Viceroy at that time, Lord Curzon had laid down the idea of this monument. Sir William Emerson had designed it. It includes different weapons, paintings, artifacts, sculptures, etc. The royal portrait of the Queen is something you will find in this iconic monument. A Russian artist Vasili Verestchagin made a painting which can also be seen there. The painting depicts the Prince of Wales in Jaipur.
The Victoria Memorial has two sets of mysterious inscriptions. One is “VRI”, i.e. Victoria Regina Imperatrix and the other one is “Dieu Et Mon Droit”. The first one depicts Victoria Queen & Empress, while the latter means “God & my right”. The black bronze statue “Angel of Victory” is the major attraction of the monument. The statue lies on the apex of the memorial’s dome. It also acts as a weathercock in favorable weather.
Timings: Victoria Memorial remains open 5:30 AM to 6:15 PM on all days
Cellular Jail – Port Blair
Port Blair has one of the finest attractions called the Cellular Jail situated on a secluded island. The Britishers had built it in the year 1906. They used it to punish the miscreants. Cellular Jail had the criminals imprisoned to Kala Pani (to exile till death). Now, tourists visit there as it is a magnificent attraction in present times. When you visit there, you get a glimpse of the tough life of the prisoners. One must visit the Cellular Jail if they are in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Batukeshwar Dutt & Veer Sawarkar, the famous freedom fighters were imprisoned in the Cellular Jail during the time when India was struggling for Independence. A famous attraction of the place is the Ligh & Sound Show.
Timings: The Cellular Jail remains open from 9 AM to 1 PM & 2 PM to 5 PM (closed on Mondays)
Jallianwala Bagh – Amritsar, Punjab
Jallianwala Bagh is located just next to the holy Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab. It is unfortunately a site that defines a sad moment in India’s history & the struggle for freedom. The British troops had opened a massive fire on more than 10,000 unarmed protesters. It was on April 13, 1919. This incident has its name as Amritsar Massacre. The British started to shoot people without giving any warning. According to the official records, around 400 people were killed and about 1,200 were badly injured. Many people died of fear as they jumped into a well in order to escape being shot.
This incident was a turning point in India’s relations with the British. It was also a driving factor in Mahatama Gandhi’s movement to seek Independence. In 1951, a memorial at Jallianwala Bagh was constructed by the Indian government with an Eternal Flame of Liberty. The walls of the garden still have bullet marks engraved in it. The scene will give you tears, I am sure. The place where the firing took place can also be seen. Jallianwala Bagh also has a gallery with pictures of Indian freedom fighters and historical memorability.
Timings: The Jallianwala Bagh remains open on all days from 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM.
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Khajuraho Temples – Madhya Pradesh
If one wants to experience the most artistic expressions of human sensuality, then this is the place for you. Khajuraho Group of Monumentsin Madhya Pradesh is waiting for you! These temples are located in the small and peaceful town of Khajuraho. UNESCO has included Khajuraho temples in their list of World Heritage Sites. They are beautifully adorned with brilliantly carved sculptures & statues that reflect the various aspects of the Kama Sutra.
Apart from the sensual sculptures, there are many other attractions inside the temples. The Chandelas, a group of Hindu and Jain Temples had built The Khajuraho Temples. These temples reflect the acceptance of the historical religious diversity. Khajuraho is one of the most beautiful places in Madhya Pradesh. A particular attraction here is the sound and light show which depicts the tale of the Chandela dynasty.
Timings: Khajuraho temples remain open from sunrise to sunset.
Just 10 km away from Panjim, lies the historic city of Old Goa. It used to be the capital of Portuguese India from the early 16th century until the 18th century. A substantial population of more than 200,000 people was abandoned at that time due to the plague. Then, the Portuguese had to relocate to Panjim. The rulers of the Bijapur Sultanate founded Old Goa in the 15th century. It was before the Portuguese came in. After they captured it, they built many churches there. A few of the most notable ones standing today are the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral, and the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi.
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While reading this, many of you would have made a plan to visit the monuments listed here. Thus, set yourself out and go explore the various historical places in India! These places are really rich in their culture and carries a pride. There are uncountable historical places to visit in India. As I previously said, listing down each and every one of them in just one article would be difficult for sure. So, uncover the diversity of India and experience some exquisite architectural pieces of beauty.
So, pack your bags, book your tickets, and get going!