India is a vast country and is similar in size to Europe. It is a home to an ancient culture and one can say the oldest and greatest civilization.
India is full of fascinating natural beauty which is enough to draw tourists from all over the world. We have eternal rivers, high snow covered mountains, roaring waterfalls, majestic peaks, and greenery covered fields and much more.
Besides all these, Indian ancient buildings and architecture also makes the country and its citizens proud. If you are visiting India from abroad here are the top 11 historic buildings you should not miss out…
1- Taj Mahal
Majesty, Beauty and magnificence, unrivaled, the Taj Mahal supposed to be the only one of its kind across the world. It is the monumental labor of love from Shah Jahan (a great ruler) for his beloved queen. It is a real and true symbol of Love and is one of the Most Famous Monuments of India.
If you have already read about Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world, you probably know the three things about this magnificent monument of India.
• Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful and attractive monuments on this earth.
• It is the greatest monument of True Love that was ever built. It’s ‘the living legacy’ of Love. And above all
• There is no other monument that lies in comparison with the art and architecture of Taj Mahal.
Also to know about the construction of this beautiful monument of India, it is basically considered as the master of Mughal architecture, a style that is mixture of Indian, Islamic and Persian craftsmanship. Taj mahal was built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his favorite wife, Mumtaj (the most ravishing of the world).
Where Is Taj Mahal Located
Regarding the location of this beautiful monument, it is in the city Agra, on the banks of the Yamuna. Many of the people say just wow for this magnificent beauty and one of the most famous monuments of India.
It is one of the must visit destination on the historical tour to India and is one of the memorable and glorious ancient monuments of India. Taj Mahal is not just the piece of architecture, rather it is considered as the living monument, which is counted and will be forever as one amongst the ‘Seven Wonder s of the World’.
WHO BUILT THE WONDERFUL TAJ MAHAL
It’s the ultimate realization of Emperor Shahjahan’s dream. Shahjahan, the great emperor made this beautiful monument of India for his beloved beauty. The Taj Mahal rules on the square piece of marble platform. This is further adorned with the glaring minrates at each corner and made astonishingly beautiful.
Each one of these minrates, are actually leaned out slightly so that they won’t fall on the main complex due to any earthquake. This is simply a wonderful piece of art and architecture in India which is brilliantly designed and constructed at that non technological era of times.
Taj Mahal also includes giant arches which are beautified with the ornate carvings of the flowers. These are also inlaid with the pietra -dura mosaics of the semi precious stones and the elegant calligraphy from the holy book of Koran.
An estimated of about 20,000 people worked to complete the enchanting mausoleum which is world famous and one of the most famous monuments of the world. It took around 22 years in its making.
TAJ MAHAL CAN BE CONSIDERED AS A SHEER POETRY IN MARBLE
For a breathtaking beauty and a beautiful view of the Taj Mahal, one has to see it by moonlight and sunrise. This ancient monuments of India looks amazingly beautiful when the light change over from the cold hazy blue to any variation of pale gold, orange or skinny pink. Taj also seems to be changing its colors during the different hours of the day and during different seasons.
The sunset view of the Taj Mahal is simply brilliant and can attract any eye in the world. So now when you are in India the next time do not forget to visit this astonishingly fine beauty of world which is known as Taj Mahal India.
Qutub Minar is one of the most renowned monuments of India that is also one of the most famous historical monuments of India. Qutub-Minar in red and buff sandstone is the only highest tower in India that is known for its beauty, art and architecture. It is one unarguable one of among the India’s Pride.
Qutub Minar is sitting at the south of Delhi and comprises of five storeys. The foundation of this monument of India was first laid by Qutub- ud- Din Aibak of Slave dynesty in A.D. 1199.
The Minar was build for the use of mu’azzin (crier) to give calls for prayer. During his rule the first storey of Qutub Minar was raised. Three more storeys were added to this Minar by his successor and son- in- law, Shams- ud- Din Itutmish.
Structure of Qutub Minar
The structure of Qutub Minar is so designed that it is single piece of its kind in the whole world. All the storeys are surrounded by a projected balcony that encircles the Minar of this Indian monument.
These are supported by stone brackets decorated with honey comb design. The structure of Qutub Minar has a diameter of 14.32m at the base and about 2.75m on the top and it has a height of 72.5m.
Qutub Minar being one of the historical monuments of India happens to be the tallest self supporting stone tower in the world. Various enlightening events take place here as a division of the Festival and are set in the middle of the Minar.
During these events number of experienced persons of Indian classical music and also folk musicians give their magnificent and superb performances.
Tourists from all over the country and world participate in the three day Qutub Festival of dance and music commences which is placed at Qutub Minar. During this time the very tall monument of India wears a novel look.
Number of local food stalls is placed within the compound of this historical monument of India which serves up local cuisine of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and other northern states. These together add to the educational and artistic extravaganza.
3- Sanchi Stupa
India is full of beautiful monuments which attract a number of foreign tourists every year. Sanchi Stupa is one among them. It is a Buddhist Temple, which was built in 3rd BC. This is in the place called Sanchi, in Madhya Pradesh, India. It is the main part of India.
The Word Sanchi means Mould of Stones. This is said to be originally started by Ashoka the Great. The Stupas found here was destroyed using the method called Vandalism. Stupa means Symbolism and meaning. This symbolizes the event in the Buddha Life.
Sanchi Stupa has five parts each one represents some quality of Buddhism. This Monument has been modified by various kings according to their time and religion. The re-construction of this monument was started in the 18th century however it took more than a century to restart the restoration and was completed in the 19th Century.
Sanchi Stupa was added to the UNESCO world Heritage Site in 1989. The stupa is a mound which covered the relics of Buddha or his followers. This made Stupa to be most characteristic monument of Buddhist people in India. Stupa is not a building, these were once burial or reliquary mounds.
Sanchi Stupa is the symbol of Buddha, which resembles his doctrine of birth and re-birth, in other words “Final Dying” or “Parinirvana”. Though the history of Buddha doesn’t reveal that he was in this place, then how come there is Stupa in Sanchi?
Begging was one of their religious duties, which they have oblige for half of the day and other half of the day to perform their other religious duties. To perform other religious duties for the rest of the half day in noisy place or near to a busy trading place was difficult, the monastic communities searched for place which fit in their requirements.
Ashoka Maurya thought that Sanchi would be an apt place for that and provided a beginning to Buddism in India. This was one of the Monuments in India which has Buddhist state of art and architecture in India.
The architecture which was used in Monuments in India was of great standard, outstanding and excellent. These monuments though were related to religion directly or indirectly, the construction and the method used to construct these monuments were of high technology and incomparable architecture.
4- Agra Fort
Agra Fort, also known as Lal Qila, Fort Rouge and Red Fort of Agra, is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Agra, India. It is about 2.5 km northwest of Taj Mahal which is equally famous and is considered as its sister monument.
It contained the largest state treasury and mint, and the great Mughals governed the country from here when the rulers like Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb lived here.
This was originally a brick fort and the Sikarwar Rajputs held it. This was also a site of one of the battles during the Indian rebellion of 1857, which caused the end of the British East India Company’s rule in India, and led to a century of direct rule of India by Britain.
Notable Facts about Agra Fort
Some of the other interesting notable facts about Agra Fort are:
• In 2004, The Agra Fort has won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
• Sherlock Holmes mystery The Sign of the Four, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has mentioned the Agra Fort playing a key role
• Shivaji came to Agra in 1666 as per the “Purandar Treaty” entered into with Mirza Raje Jaisingh to met Aurangzeb in the Diwan-i-Khas.
• In the second expansion pack for Age of Empires 3, the Asian Dynasties, Agra fort is one of five wonders for the Indian civilization to advance to the next age.
• In the game “Rise of Nations” the Red Fort can be built by players as a wonder.
Art and Architecture of Agra Fort
Apart from its history, Agra fort is equally important in terms of its architectural history. Abul Fazal recorded that five hundred buildings in the beautiful designs of Bengal and Gujarat were built in the fort, of which hardly thirty Mughal buildings have survived on the south-eastern side, facing the river. The others were damaged or demolished in the battles.
The fort has a semi-circular plan with its chord lying parallel to the river. Its walls are seventy feet high. Double ramparts have massive circular bastions at regular intervals as also battlements, embrasures, machicolations and string courses. Four gates were provided on its four sides, one Khizri gate opening on to the river.
Two of the fort’s gates are notable: the “Delhi Gate” and the “Lahore Gate.” A wooden drawbridge was used to cross the moat and reach the gate from the mainland; Inside, an inner gateway called Hathi Pol (“Elephant Gate”) – guarded by two life sized stone elephants with their riders – added another layer of security.
Anguri Bagh (Grape garden), Diwan-i-Am(Hall of public audience), Diwan-i-Khas(hall of private audience, Golden Pavilions, Jahangiri Mahal, Khas Mahal, Moti Masjid, Shah Jahani Mahal, Sheesh Mahal(Mirror palace), etc are some of the site and structures within Agra fort worth seeing.
5- Jantar Mantar of Delhi
Jantar Mantar is one of the most known and Famous Monuments in Delhi. The real name of Jantar Mantar is Yantra Mantra which literally means the instrument and formula and is located in the modern city of New Delhi.
This mind blowing construction consists of 13 architectural astronomy instruments, built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur.
The primary purpose of the observatory was to compile astronomical tables and to predict the times and movements of the sun, moon and planets.
Jai Singh II built five similar observatories all known by same name but at different places in India.
Now a day’s all these observatories are mainly a tourist attraction and are significant in the history of astronomy.
Yantra Mantras is one of the five observatories well known by Jantar Mantar, in west central India i.e. Delhi others including at Jaipur- Yantra Mantra, Ujjain, Mathura and Varanasi.
Different Instruments of Jantar Mantar
Jantar Mantar in Delhi has four different Instruments which are distinct and unique. These four instruments are named as the Samrat Yantra, the Ram Yantra, the Jayaprakash, and the Mishra Yantras.
The Samrat Yantra is a huge triangle that is an equal hour sundial. Its dimensions are 70 feet high, 114 feet long at the base, and 10 feet thick. It points towards the North Pole and is parallel to the earth’s axis having 128 foot long hypotenuse.
On both the sides of the triangle is a quadrant with graduations indicating hours, minutes and seconds. The sundial of the Samrat Yantra was so designed in order to measure declination and other related coordinates of various heavenly bodies. The Jayaprakesh Yantra consists of hollowed out hemispheres with number of markings on their concave surfaces.
The stretching of cross wires between the points of their rim is good to see where as the position of star with various markings or a window’s edge can be aligned from inside the Ram. The Mishra Yantra was a unique construction which was able to indicate, when it is noon in various cities all over the world.
6- Golden Temple of Amritsar
Golden Temple is one of the oldest and most Important Sikh Gurdwaras, located in the city of Amritsar. It was established by Guru Ram Das Ji, the fourth guru of the Sikhs.
Harmandir Sahib is considered the holiest shrine by Sikhs and so the Golden Temple is also known as Harmandir Sahib.
The important part of the Golden temple is that the 11th eternal Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is present inside it and it is the holiest literature in the Sikh religion.
The 10th Guru of Sikhs, Sri Guru Gobind Singh on 7th October 1708 made it the eternal Sikh Guru and the leader of Sikhism.
Harmandir Sahib’s construction was mainly intended as a place of worship for all, from all walks of life and all religions to come and worship God equally.
It was built with four doors to show that every religion or faith is allowed to enter in and worship.
Golden Temple was constructed in Amritsar which is in the Majha region of Punjab. Majha is also known as the Bari Doab as it is a tract of land which lies between two of the five great rivers of the province, the Ravi and the Beas. Golden Temple was originally built during AD 1574. The site of the temple was surrounded by a small lake in a thin forest. The temple was completed in 1604.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji, installed the Adi Granth in it and appointed Baba Buddha Ji as the first Granthi (reader) of the temple on August 1604. In the mid 18th century it was attacked by the Afghans, by one of Ahmed Shah Abdali’s Generals, Jahan Khan, and had to be substantially rebuilt in the 1760s.
Golden Temple is known for its Artwork and Monument Sculptures
Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the leader of the Sikh Empire of the Punjab who is also known as Sher-e-Punjab was heavy donor of wealth and materials for the shrine.
And for this hi is remembered with much affection by the Punjabi people and the Sikh community in particular.
The exterior of the Gurdwara’s upper floor and domes are covered by the golden plates and the marble work is exquisite around and was done under the patronage of this Sher-e-Punjab.
The arch of the Darshani Deorhi opens onto the causeway which leads to the sanctum sanctorum of the Harmandir Sahib. It is 202 feet high and 21 feet in width. Facing the arch stands the Akal Takht.
7- Golconda at Hyderabad
Golconda is a town in Hyderabad, which is in Central Part of India. Golconda is recognized for its diamond. The famous Koh-I-Noor diamond and Hope diamond was said to be cut from gemstones found here. Golconda is built on hill, which is composed of granites.
This stood as high as 91m. This fort was first built by a Hindu King on finding of an Idol by a shepherd boy.
Later this place was built by three kings of Qutb Shahi Kings. The builders built this place with great sense of architecture, with having concentrated on sound.
This fort is built such way that if hands are clapped at the fort gate or portico, the sound could be heard at the top of the palacefort. Golconda has a secured chamber with vault which was used to diamonds.
The Forts of Golconda
Monuments in India were not only built for religious and historical events to traced, but also these were built for defending various situations like battles and natural calamities. Golconda is one of the forts which were built with battlements also known as crenellation.
This is defensive architecture. This fort is with a battlement which has cut-outs at some portions of the wall to attack the enemies with arrows or cannon balls to keep the attackers at a distance. The city surrounded with walls was used as a trading center for diamonds and Gems. All most, all of the diamonds were from the mines in Golconda. Golconda fort has wonderful and fabulous hand work and gardens.
The fort is surrounded with 10 Km wall with semicircular bastions, used to be mounted with cannons and some bastions are still found to be cannons. This monument was built with temples, mosque, stables, royal apartments and halls with highly decorated hand work.
Monuments in India can be categorized into two as before 1000 AD and after 1000 AD, again sub-categorized into four according to their geographical location, like North, South, Deccan and East.
There many monuments which were built with the best architecture and technology before 1000 AD, which is still a mystery, how those ancient architects were able to do. This shows one of the best architectural methods were used without any modern devices. This is one of the Monuments in India that everyone should visit.
8- Khajuraho Temple
Khajuraho, an Indian village in Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. It has the largest collection of Hindu and Jain temples and is famous for their erotic sculptures. It is also considered to be one of the seven wonders of India and is listed in UNESCO world heritage site.
The khajuraho temples were among the most important monuments in India and is built in a span of 200 years, ranging from 950 to 1150. The complete area is enclosed by walls. Originally it had over 80 Hindu temples but now only 25 remains that are built over an area of about 21 square kilometers.
The temples there are fine examples of Indian architecture styles which are popular due to their explicit depiction of the traditional way of sexual life during medieval times.
The architecture of khajuraho temples can be related to northern Indian shikhara temple style or a panchayatana plan. Besides a few Jain temples, the various Hindu temples are dedicated to god’s trio Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and various Devi forms.
Temples Famous for Erotic Art
Though the temples are famous for erotic art, there are no sexual or erotic images inside the temples near the figures of deities. Only the external carvings bear some of those. It is believed that to portray the arts there, one must leave their sexual desired outside the temple premises. The deities of the temples are portrayed as atmas and do not refer to any physical body. People suggest that the images there give an idea of tantric sexual practices. Some 10% of the images depict sexual art whereas others show the common life of normal Indian man and their activities.
Because of the erotic art forms here, the site is often referred to as Kama sutra temple. But they do not illustrate the positions of the Vatsyayana’s famous sutra’s philosophy. They just focus on pleasure rather than procreation.
It is also believed that the Chandela monarchs built this temple between 950 and 1150. At that time, Tantric tradition was practices. In those times, boys lived in brahmacharya until they became men and they can learn about household works by examining these images. All the sculptures present here clearly tells that these temples would have required a number of trained sculptors.
9- Ajanta And Ellora Caves
Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra, India, are rock-cut cave monuments dating from the second century BCE. It contains the paintings and sculpture and are considered to be masterpieces of both “Buddhist religious art” and “universal pictorial art”. The caves are located just outside the village of Ajantha in Aurangabad district in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
The Ajanta caves are in a wooded and rugged horseshoe-shaped ravine and is about 3½ km from the village of Ajantha. The famous Ajanta Caves known for its paintings are situated in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra State in India (106 kilometers away from the city of Aurangabad).
There are in all 29 caves (as officially numbered by the Archaeological Survey of India), located in the south side of the precipitous scarp made by the cutting of the ravine. The caves vary from 35 to 110 ft (34 m) in elevation above the bed of the stream.
The monastic complex of Ajanta consists of many viharas (monastic halls of residence) and chaitya-grihas (stupa monument halls) cut into the mountain scarp in two phases. The viharas are of different sizes and the maximum is about 52 feet (16 m). The hall was an essential element of a viharas.
The Viharas are often square-shaped and their they are made differently some have ornaments some have porch, some with simple facade and others do not have these all. The facades of many viharas are also decorated with carvings, and walls and ceilings were often covered with paintings and ornated.
Paintings of Ajanta and Ellora
Ajanta Caves are world famous for its paintings. These paintings are all over the cave except on the floor. At various places in the caves the art work has become eroded due to decay and human interference. Therefore, many areas of the painted walls, ceilings, and pillars are fragmentary.
The painted narratives of the Jataka tales are depicted only on the walls, which needs the special attention of the devotee and visitors. They gives the special message about the community and about the Buddha‘s teachings and life through successive births. The narrative episodes of these paintings are depicted one after another although not in a linear order.
The artwork used in the paintings is popularly known as mural. These Ajanta Caves are famous from the very long period of time for the artwork used in these caves. At Ajanta, the technique and process used to produce this kind of artwork is unlike any other artwork found in the art history of other civilizations.
These murals have a certain uniqueness about them, even within the history of South Asian art and are rarely seen. The painting in Ajanta, done on the walls and throughout the caves involved several stages of making process. The very first step of doing painting involved the chisel of the rock surface, to make it rough enough for it can hold the plaster. The plaster used was made of clay, hay, dung and lime.
The different ingredients and their proportions are used from cave to cave. And when the plaster was still wet, the drawings were done and the colors were applied on it. The wet plaster had the capacity to soak the color so that the color became a part of the surface and would not peel off or decay easily.
The colors were referred to as ‘earth colors’ or ‘vegetable colors.’ Various kinds of stones, minerals, and plants were used in combination to prepare different colors used in the paintings. Sculptures were often covered with stucco to give them a fine finish and lustrous polish. The stucco had the ingredients of lime and powdered seashell or conch which provided extra shine and smoothness, smoothness resembles the surface of glass. The paint brushes used to create the artwork were made from animal hairs and twigs.
10- Red Fort in Delhi (Lal Qila)
Shah Jahan constructed this massive fort in the 17th century, in the Mughal capital of and later used it as a residence for him and his family. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the beautiful Red fort, which primarily served as a palace, showcases the creativity and talent of architects and artists of the Mughal Empire.
The inside and outside of the fort demonstrate a blending of Indian, European, and Persian art and tradition. Additionally, the fort still holds contemporary significance, as the Indian Prime Minister addresses the nation from this site on August 15th every year (the Indian Independence Day). Take a trip to this great city, and get a taste of what it would be like to live during Shah Jahan’s magnificent reign.
11- Humayun’s Tomb
A few years after Mughal emperor Humayun died in 1556, his wife, Hamida Banu Begum, commissioned building a magnificent tomb in his memory. The tomb, which is surrounded my amazing imperial gardens, has intricate geometrical sandstone and marble patterns. Additionally, the monument is surrounded by minarets, evidence of the predominance of Islamic architectural style during Humayun’s reign.
The tomb was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and it includes a Char Bagh garden in the middle of the monument, which was changed many times.
It was once replaced by an English garden at a time when upkeep and maintenance became too expensive. However, restoration of the gardens and tomb continue to take place, with support of UNESCO and the Indian government.