India has a rich, captivating and a long history. And that has resulted in numerous monuments and places of historical importance. There is one problem though. We just don’t seem to have enough time to visit them all and know them all. So here, we will try and look at some of the historically significant places. We will try and cover some of the less popular places as the world is aware of Taj Mahal and Hawa Mahal and Red Fort.
Historical Places In India
1.Ajanta And Ellora Caves (Aurangabad, Maharashtra):
Ancient rock-cut caves, Ajanta and Ellora caves have been declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO. The Ajanta caves are 29 in number and were used by Buddhist monks as retreats. This sculptures in the Ajanta caves are all about Buddhist culture like the lives and rebirths of Lord Buddha and tales from the Jataka Tales. These caves also find mention in the memoirs of several ancient Chinese Buddhist travelers to India in the Mughal era. Ellora caves contain Hindu and Jain monuments along with Buddhist monuments. The biggest attraction in the Ellora caves is the cave 16 which has Lord Shiva’s Kailash Temple, the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world.
2. Anchuthengu Fort (Kerala):
The Anchuthengu Fort, built in 1696, was the British East India Company’s first permanent trade post on the Malabar Coast, the region along the southwestern coastline of India. This was used as a trading point by the company and later on to store ammunition during wartime. But the most important part of history associated with this beautiful fort is the Attingal Rebellion of 1721. This was a rebellion by the locals against the British East India Company and resulted in the death of over 130 British soldiers as the fort was taken over. This was amongst the first rebellions against the British East India Company.
3. Charaideo (Assam):
The Ahom dynasty ruled the present day Assam, up until the British took over. The first ruler of the dynasty, Chao Lung Siu-Ka-Pha (Sukhapa) made Charaideo as the first permanent capital of his Kingdom. This place became the burial ground for the kings and queens of the Ahom dynasty and the tombs, called Maidams, are compared to the Pyramids of Egypt. They are in the shape of massive underground vaults where the royal members were buries and only hemispherical domes are visible from the top.
4. Konark Temple (Puri, Odisha):
One of the biggest sun temples in the world, Konark Sun Temple in Puri, Odisha is shaped like a chariot with 12 wheels being drawn by 7 horses. These 12 wheels are sundials which show correct time using the ancient technique. The temple was built by Narsimhadeva of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty and was built around the 13th century. The main tower of the temple was used as a landmark by many European sailors around the 1670s and was called “The Black Pagoda” as it appears black in colour from the sea.
5. Mahabodhi Temple (Gaya, Bihar)
The most important Buddhist religious site, this temple complex houses the tree under which Gautam Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. The temple was originally a brick temple, built by Emperor Ashoka of Mauryan Dynasty as a shrine to Buddha. The temple has been reconstructed now. The place under the tree where Buddha sat meditating was marked by a stone slab, called Buddha’s Vajrasana. One of the famous Ashoka Pillars is situated in the temple complex and the temple shrine itself has a yellow sandstone statue of Buddha encased in glass.
6. Rani Ki Vav (Patan, Gujarat):
Stepwells in Gujarat were used as a way to store water and also as a place of socializing. One of the most famous stepwells, or Vav, is the Rani ki Vav in Patan. Commissioned by the widowed queen Udaymati in the fond memory of her husband Bhimdev I, son of the founder of the Solanki dynasty in 1065, this place was not discovered until the 1980s. It was covered in silt deposited by flooding of the nearby river, Saraswati. 24 meters deep, the stepwell contains around 800 pillars and is covered with intricate designs and sculptures based on Lord Vishnu. These sculptures were intentionally made to emphasize the sanctity of water. This was also given a World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 2014.
7. Gwalior Fort (Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh):
An imposing hilltop fort in Gwalior, this fort was described as “the pearl amongst fortresses in India” by the Mughal emperor Babur. This fort is believed to be built around the 5th century and the king’s 83 descendants held the fort before losing it. It has six palaces, Man Mandir Palace being the most famous one. The temples in this fort are an excellent exhibition of the mixture of North Indian and South Indian style of architecture. You can also find the second oldest reference to the number 0, from the around the 6th century. There is also a great sound and light show here every evening in Hindi and then in English on the love story of Raja Man Singh and his queen Mrignayani.
8. Cellular Jail (Port Blair, Andaman, and the Nicobar Islands)
Jails are never really great idea for a visit. But the Cellular Jail, now open to public viewing as a National Memorial, is a popular tourist destination for the history associated with it. Built by the British in colonial times, it took 10 years to build and was completed in 1906. This prison was used to incarcerate political prisoners, especially those fighting for the independence of India from the colonial rule of the British Empire. Vinayak Savarkar, Batukeshwar Dutt, and Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s associate, Mahavir Singh were amongst the famous personalities to be banished to this prison. This dreaded jail was referred to as “Kaala Pani”, which loosely translates to water of death. A jail term here ensured that the prisoner was cut off from the mainland and each other due to its design, thus weakening any revolutionary movement.
These are just a few of the historical places in India that you can visit and learn about the glorious past. And with the help of Archeological Survey of India, a lot of these places are being preserved and those in need are being restored. And they all have some interesting stories that you would not want to miss.