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Heritage sites of india

Heritage sites of india

Heritage SitesWhat truly sets India apart from various other travel destinations is its vast cultural treasure stemming from a historic past.India's grand repository of ancient cultural and natural treasures is of great significance to the history and civilization of the world.The Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri in Agra, the Konark Sun Temple, Khajuraho Temples, Mahabalipuram Monuments, Brihadishwara Temple, Thanjavur, Hampi Monuments as well as the Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta Caves are some of the monuments declared as World Heritage Monuments.

Besides, these monuments there are many historically important temples scattered all over the country.In the past, as also in the present, the temple has been the focus of the religious, social and economic life of the Indian people.

Myriads of Gods, Goddesses and celestial beings are wrought on the temple walls in a tremendous display of projected emotional states, ranging from the horrific to the erotic to the sublime. These supremely complex works of art never fail to fascinate all who see.

In India there are places where the visitor encounters history at every step. Like in the desert state of Rajasthan, an area of aweinspiring physical beauty where massive forts and magnificent palaces are found even in the remotest parts of the state.

Heritage sitesAgra Fort, Agra (1983) Ajanta Caves (1983Ellora Caves (1983)Taj Mahal, Agra (1983)Mahabalipuram Group of Monuments (1984)Sun Temple, Konark (1984)Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986)Churches and Convents of Goa (1986)Fatehpur Sikri, Agra (1986)

Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986)Elephanta Caves (1987)Great Living Chola Temples (1987, 2004)Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987)Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989)Humayun's Tomb; New Delhi (1993)Qutb Complex, New Delhi (1993)Mountain RaiIways of India (1999, 2005)Mahabodhi Temple,Bodhgaya (2002)Prehistoric Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003)Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park(2004)Red Fort Complex (2007)

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985) Kaziranga National Park(1985)Kealodeo National Park (1985)Sundarbans National Park (1987)Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park (1988, 2005)

Agra Fort, Agra (1983)

Agra fort

Akbar, the grandson of Babar built his capital at Agra and laid the foundation of the Agra Fort.

He began construction of this majestic fort in 1565 when he was only 23 years old. This imposing red sandstone structure is the finest example ofcraftsmanship of the Mughal era.

The construction was started in 1565 and was completed in about eight years at a cost of thirty five lakh of rupees under the superintendence of Qasim Khan Mir Barr-u-Bahr. This fort was built on the banks of the river Yamuna.This fort was just one of the many large fortified residences that the emperor wanted to have at various strategic points of his empire. According to Abul Fazal, the fort contained over five hundred buildings. But later on Akbar's descendants added new buildings, mainly in marble to the fort and demolished the old ones.

Architecture of the Agra FortAgra fort is built in a triangular form and covers an overall area of about 1.5 miles punctuated by gracefully carved bastions at regular intervals. Of the four gates, the Amar Singh Gate to the south is the only one gate which is open to the visitors. It is beautified by glazed tiles. Within the walls of the Agra Fort, Jahangir built rose-red palaces, courts and gardens, and Shah Jahan embellished it with marble mosques, palaces and pavilions of gem-inlaid white marble. The Jahangir Mahal with its fretwork is the largest private residency within the fort. This Mahal has a complex arrangement of compartments which later became the residence of Jahangir. To the south of Jahangir Mahal are the ruins of the Akbari Mahal, guilded by a pillared hall.

Later some other buildings were added by Shah Jahan to the Agra Fort. These buildings are the Moti Masjid (pearl mosque) and the Diwan-e-Aam (hall of public audience) from where a passage and steps lead to Macchi Bhawan (the royal aquarium). In the centre of the courtyard is the grave of John Russel Colvin, Lt. Governor of the North Western Provinces who died during the 1857 uprising. The Nagina Mosque (mosque of gems) lies to the left of the throne room. Beneath this existed the Meena Bazar, from where the ladies of the house watch the merchants who display their silks, brocades and jewellery in the courtyard below. At the Chittor Gates, trophies of Akbar's captures of a Rajput fortress in 1657 are displayed. Towards the riverside is theDiwan-e-Khas (hall of private audience), built by Shah Jahan in 1637.On the terrace beyond, are two thrones in white marble and black slate. From here the prince Jehangir used to watch the elephant fights on the plains below. From here a staircase leads to the Musamman Burj (Jasmine tower). It has a beautiful courtyard paved with squares of black marble on one side. It is believed that this octagonal tower had a large bell that hung from the bastions to the ground. This bell was rung by those who came to seek justice. Shah Jahan wanted to build a replica of the white Taj in black marble as well and connect them through a bridge across the waters of Yamuna. Before he could do so he fell ill and was soon imprisoned in the Agra Fort by his son Aurangzeb along with his daughter Jahan Ara, where he finally breathed his last. It was from here that the Emperor Shah Jahan spent his last days in imprisonment, gazing at the tomb of his wife.

Probably the smallest mosque for private prayer, Mina Masjid lies just ahead. Some other such monuments are the Khas Mahal, the Golden pavilions, Anguri Bagh (grape garden), Sheesh Mahal (palace of mirrors) and the legendary Gates of Somnath, believed to have been carried away by Mahmud Ghazni in 1025. Also the famous Jami Masjid built by Shah Jahan for his beloved daughter, Jahan Ara lies here.

Ajanta CavesAJANTA is world's greatest historical monument recognised by UNESCO located just 40kms from Jalgaon city of Maharashtra, India. There are 30 caves in Ajanta of which 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29 are chaitya-grihas and the rest are monasteries. These caves were discovered in AD 1819 and were built up in the earlier 2nd century BC-AD. Most of the paintings in Ajanta are right from 2nd century BC-AD and some of them about the fifth century AD and continued for the next two centuries. All paintings shows heavy religious influence and centre around Buddha, Bodhisattvas, incidents from the life of Buddha and the Jatakas. The paintings are executed on a ground of mud-plaster in the tempera technique.

Conjures before one's vision, a dream of beauty- of caves, hidden in the midst of a lonely glen with a streamlet flowing down below, caves that were scooped out into the heart of the rock so that the pious Buddhist monk, out on mission to spread the tenets of Buddhism could dwell and pray, caves that the followers of Lord Buddha, embellished with architectural details with a skilful command of the hammer over the chisel, with sculpture of highest craftsmanship and above all, with the paintings of infinite charm.

At Ajanta, the paintings on the walls, illustrate the events in the life of prince Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism and in the more popular Jatakas stories pertaining to Buddha's previous incarnation. According to the older conceptions, the Buddha wrought many deeds of kindness and mercy in a long series of transmigration as a Bodhisattva, before achieving his final birth as the sage of sakyas.

Incidentally they contain the scenes of semi-mythological history, the royal court and popular life of the ancient times, as told in romances and plays. Some pictures recall the Greek and Roman compositions and proportions, few late resemble to Chinese manners to some extent. But majority belongs to a phase, which is purely Indian, as they are found nowhere else. These monuments were constructed during two different periods of time separated by a long interval of four centuries.

ELLORA CAVES

Ellora caves lay in the lap of the Chamadari hills extending over a mile and a quarter in the north-south direction and are situated 18 miles northwest of Aurangabad. Ellora represents some 300 years of great experiments carried out by different faiths with their very different iconography and structural compulsions. Ellora caves are finest specimens of cave temple architecture. They house elaborate facades and exquisitely adorned interiors. These structures representing the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, were carved during 350 AD to 700 AD period. The cave monuments of Ellora were chiefly patronised by the Chalukya - Rashtrakuta rulers (7th - 10th century AD). These cave shrines are memorable for their invaluable contribution to the enormous wealth of Indian heritage. There are 34 caves in total. These can be divided into three groups belonging roughly to three periods: Buddhist, Hindu and Jain. Only 12 of the 34 caves are Buddhist, but even these caves incorporate the Hindu and Jain theme, demonstrating the gradual decline of Buddhism. The Hindu caves exhibit a totally different league from the Jain and Buddhist temples in terms of style, creative vision and execution skills. These temples were built 'top to bottom' and the architecture of these caves show, that it required several generations of planning and co-ordination to give it the final shape. Cave 14 was initially a Buddha Vihar but in the 7th century it was turned into a Shiva temple. Here Shiva is depicted as "The Destroyer". The 16th cave in the group is one of the audacious feats in architecture ever achieved. The idea was to build Kailash from a single stone. Hence it got its name, Kailasnath temple. Mural paintings in Ellora are