As geographers recognize the social side of commemoration and the crucial role that space and place play in the process and politics of remembering, they are becoming more interested in memorials and monuments. According to geographers, these public symbols are part of larger cultural landscapes that not only symbolize specific historical ideas but also try to legitimize them as part of the social order. Geographers evaluate memorials and monuments through three conceptual lenses.
Memorials and monuments serve a purpose beyond just reflecting past beliefs and anchoring them to the ground. They are an outward extension of these concepts, formed as much by current political tensions as by historical conditions. Memorials and monuments are a part of the sociopolitical process of people reading, writing, evaluating, debating, performing, honoring, contesting, and healing from historical traumas in various ways. They are essentially political and can be influenced by those in power as well as those with less power who are trying to reject and modify dominant historical interpretations. Memorials and monuments have an important role in bridging the gap between public perceptions of the past and current political struggles. The social and geographical form and placement of memorials and monuments—in our sense of time and place—play a key role in defining what (and who) is ultimately remembered and forgotten, which is especially important for geographers.
The countless monuments found throughout India symbolize India's art and culture. We present to you the top ten most famous and visited monuments, all of which are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In India's periphery, there are numerous monuments. Since time immemorial, these monuments have been part of India's cultural legacy and have marked the country's presence on the global map. Take a peek at some of India's most magnificent and well-known monuments.
1. Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal is known to be the symbol of India as it is one of the seven wonders. This World Wonder's name is well-known and appreciated in India.
It is located on the banks of the holy river Yamuna River in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Between 1631 and 1648, Shah Jahan worked on this brilliant architectural marvel for his late wife Arjumand Banu Begum, also known as Mumtaz Mahal. Every year, over 8 million people visit this symbol of love.
Shah Jahan was a renowned Mughal Dynasty monarch who was the honorable son of Jehangir and the father of Aurangzeb, who was the last great Mughal ruler.
The emperor is claimed to have lost his well-earned empire to his son Aurangzeb and was captured in the Agra Fort, from where he could see the Taj Mahal through a little window in his cell and remember his love for his life.
Taj Mahal: Significant features-
- Thousands of artists along with several craftsmen worked together for five years to finish the main tomb in 1648 AD, while the other peripheral buildings and gardens took around another five years to complete in 1653 AD.
- Under lethal elegance in art and science of design, the Taj Mahal beautifully symbolizes the great riches and also the political security of that age, as well as much more.
- Many of the adjoining beautifully sculpted pieces are defined by herringbone inlays.
- Sandstone buildings feature white inlays, while use of white marbles has dark or black inlays.
- The marble buildings is a mortared portions and also have been stained or painted in a better contrasting color, resulting in intricate geometric designs.
- In tessellation patterns, floors and also the walkways use contrasting tiles or blocks make it appear unique. Yellow marble, jasper, and jade inlay stones are polished and then leveled to the surface of the walls.
2. Hampi Monument
The austere and majestic sight of Hampi is essentially structured on the ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire's capital city. During the 14th-16th centuries CE, it was a strongly thriving city and one of the last great Hindu kingdoms on the Indian subcontinent. The monuments are an integral part of a UNESCO world heritage site that spans 4187.24 hectares.
It is located in Central Karnataka's Bellary district, in the very renowned place of the Tungabhadra basin. Krishna Deva Rai was the Builder/Ruler.
Hampi: Significant Features-
- Hampi is located near the Tungabhadra River, and jagged hill ranges, along with broad plains, with numerous physical relics.
- The social environment in the 14th-16th centuries can be easily visualized rough the 1600 still surviving remnants of forts, riverbank features, royal complexes, temples, and other structures that demonstrate a royal, diverse urban, and sacred civilization.
- Shrine ruins, pillared halls, mandapas, water structures, memorial structures, defense check stations, gateways, stables, and other constructions can all be found.
- Among the most well-known are the Krishna temple complex, Narasimha, Ganesha, Hemakuta group of temples, Vitthala temple complex,Achyutaraya temple complex, Pattabhirama temple complex, and Lotus Mahal complex.
- Puras, or suburban townships, surround the temple and include auxiliary shrines, residential areas, bazaars, and tanks. Hydraulic technologies were used to connect these towns and defense architecture with the other surrounding landscape.
- Among the most well-known are the Krishna temple complex, Hemakuta group of temples, Narasimha, Ganesha, Achyutaraya temple complex, Pattabhirama temple complex, Vitthala temple complex and Lotus Mahal complex.
- The relics were discovered at the site which indicate the depth of the culture's economic affluence and political rank, eventually indicating a highly evolved society.
- The Vijayanagara Empire incorporated the very unique Dravidian architecture in its construction. The massive and heavy dimensions, cloistered enclosures, and large towers that surround the entrances, encased by ornate pillars, distinguish it.
- The Vitthala temple is the most magnificent structure on the site, and it symbolize important pinnacle of Vijayanagara temple design.
3. Sun Temple
The Sun Temple is a highly popular tourist destination on India's eastern coast. It was built in the 13th century, this temple is wholly devoted to Lord Surya Dev, the Sun King. Due to its magnificent architecture and inscriptions, this temple is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Is in Odisha's Konark.
Narasimha Deva 1 is the ruler.
Sun Temple: Significant Features
- The Konarak temple, which is known to be entirely made of stone, is shaped like a massive chariot with twelve pairs of ornately decorated wheels. Seven richly caparisoned galloping horses pull it.
- It is situated on the coast which is around 35 kilometres Puri.
- The temple is constructed in old Nagara style, with Kalinga or Orissa architecture as its important subtype.
- The Nagara architecture is characterized by a square ground plan with a sanctuary and an assembly hall which is commonly known as a mandapa. In terms of elevation, the shikhara is a magnificent curvilinear tower that inclines inwards and is topped.
- When the first rays of the light reach the main entrance of the Sun Temple of Konark, the shadows of several animals like giraffes, snakes, elephants, and mythological creatures, among other things, can be seen on the walls.
4. Khajuraho Temples
The temples of Khajuraho are perfectly split into three groups based on their locations: which is Western, Eastern, and Southern group temples. Exotic beautiful sculptures are well-known here. These temples were constructed in the late 11th century. The architectural marvels of the Khajuraho temples have easily made them UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Location: Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
Ruler: Chandela dynasty
Khajuraho Temples: Significant Features
- Khajuraho's temples are mostly religiously dedicated to Jainism and Hinduism, and they are noted for their very important exquisite art and sculpture.
- The temples of Khajuraho were constructed during the popular Chandella dynasty, which reigned from 950 to 1050.
- But sadly only roughly 20 temples survive, each striking a perfect combination of splendid architecture and sculpture.
- Kandariya Temple is adorned with a plethora of sculptures that beautifully symbolise Indian art's finest masterpieces.
- The temples are perfectly built in the Nagara style, which in its own way is very unique and of exceptional quality.
- It is made of sandstone, and each temple is elevated from its surroundings by a jagati (ornate terraced platform). On top of this whole structure is the body, or jangha, whose sanctum is capped by a Nagara-style tower, which is also called shikhara.
- The verticality of the main spire atop the sanctuary is done in order that has emphasized on the tower by a sequence of tiny spires surrounding it, each signifying Mount Kailasa, the Gods' dwelling.
- The temples are very systematically approached by an elegant entrance porch (ardhamandapa), which leads to the main hall (mandapa) and the vestibule (antarala) before reaching the sanctum (garbhagriha)
- Anthropomorphic and non-anthropomorphic motifs reflecting holy and secular themes are abundantly carved on all surfaces which magnifies its beauty.
- There are around 85 temples in all, although 20 of them are dedicated to different deities. Six temples among them were devoted to Shiva, also three to Jain Tirthankaras, and remaining eight to Lord Vishnu and his avatars, among them. Finally, the Sun God and Lord Ganesha each have their own temple.
5. Ellora Caves
This is a well-known Maharashtra UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the 6th through the 12th centuries, rock-cutting was carried out in three phases.
Location: Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Ruler: Krishna 1
Ellora Caves: Significant Features
- These are a collection of 34 monasteries and temples in the vicinity that cover a total distance of more than 2 kilometers.
- These were subsequently dug next to one other in the wall of a high basalt cliff near Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
- Ellora is a very rare artistic masterpiece and is a very much technological feat, with its uninterrupted succession of monuments dating from 600 to 1000 A.D.
- It contains sanctuaries dedicated to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and it exemplifies the old Indian attitude of tolerance.
- The first caves (caves 1–12), which were known to be excavated between the 5th and 8th centuries, reflect the Mahayana Buddhist doctrine that was also dominant in this area at the time.
- The excavation of a wide collection of caves which counts to around (caves 30–34) that has been reflecting Jaina philosophy took place during the 9th and 12th centuries.
- Cave 16 is known to be a great example of structural innovation, and it also represents the pinnacle of Indian rock-cut architecture, with intricate craftsmanship and striking proportions.
- The sculpture depicts Ravana attempting to lift Mount Kailasa, Siva's sanctuary, which is particularly notable and admirable.
6. Ajanta Caves
The first ever Buddhist cave monuments were constructed in Ajanta in the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. various more caves were added to the original group throughout the popular Gupta period, which spanned from the 5th to the 6th centuries A.D. The Ajanta paintings and sculptures, which are considered to be Buddhist religious art masterpiece, have had a very significant aesthetic influence.
Location: Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Ajanta Caves: Significant Features
- The Ajanta caves are a wide range collection of 30 caves that date back to the 2nd century BC.
- Every cave is highly noted for its unique art patterns, paintings, murals, ceilings, and temples.
- The paintings in the Ajanta caves are also famed for their true natural colors, which are achieved through the use of several minerals and plants.
- The caves 1, 2, 4, and 17 in Ajanta are particularly popular among tourists and are notable for their inscriptions that attract the spotlight.
- Because the Ajanta caves are dedicated to Buddhist, Jataka stories can be found on the cave walls in a very prominent form.
7. Humayun’s Tomb
In 1570 AD, Humayun's tomb was completed after being worked for so long. It is unusual in that it was the Indian subcontinent's first garden tomb. This tomb has inspired several key architectural advancements, which even culminated in the Taj Mahal's creation.
Location: New Delhi
Humayun's Tomb: Significant Features
- The earliest of the large dynasty known as mausoleums that became synonymous with Mughal architecture was Humayun's Tomb in Delhi.
- It is part of a 27.04-hectare complex that also inclusively includes contemporary 16th-century Mughal Garden tombs such Nila Gumbad, Isa Khan, Bu Halima, Afsarwala, Barber's Tomb, and the Arab Serai, where the skillful craftsmen hired to build Humayun's Tomb stayed.
- The garden tomb was built by Persian and Indian craftsmen working together for the whole tenure.
- It is more ornate than any other tomb that exists in the Islamic world.
- Humayun's garden-tomb is known to be a traditional char bagh, or four-quadrant garden, with lakes connected by waterways representing the four holy rivers of Quranic paradise.
- The garden's entrances are high-rise gateways giving a magnificent view on the south and west walls, with pavilions in the middle of the eastern and northern walls.
- On all four sides, the tomb sits on a high, wide terraced platform with two bay deep vaulted cells, and serves as a beautiful sight.
- An irregular octagon with four long sides and chambered edges serve as the functional foundation.
- It is topped by a 42.5 m high marble double dome with strongly pillared kiosks (chhatris).
- The interior is a vast octagonal hall with highly vaulted roof sections and galleries or corridors connecting them.
- The construction is dressed stone with several red sandstone cladding and white and black marble inlaid borders.
8. Great Living Chola Temples
The Great Living Chola Temples were planned and constructed by Chola kings and spanned all of south India and the surrounding islands. The three 11th and 12th-century Temples are the principal draws of the structure.
Location: Thanjavur, Darasuram, Gangaikondacholisvaram
Ruler: Rajendra 1
Great Living Chola Temples: Significant Features
- Brihadisvara Temple in Gangaikondacholisvaram, Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur, and Airavatesvara Temple in Darasuram are the main tourist attractions.
- Temple worship and rituals, which were meticulously developed and practiced over a thousand years ago and are based on Agamic writings, continue to be an integral part of the people's long lives here.
- The 53-meter vimana (sanctum tower) at Brihadisvara temple has recessed corners and a smooth upward curving movement, which is in contrast to Thanjavur's straight and harsh tower.
- The temples have inscriptions known as Dakshina Meru, and the Chola King Rajaraja I launched the first construction of this temple.
- Rajaraja II built the Airavatesvara temple complex at Darasuram, which has a 24-meter vimana and a mighty stone figure of Shiva.
- The temples provide witness to the Cholas' which is an outstanding achievement in construction, painting, sculpture, and bronze casting.
9. Hill Forts of Rajasthan
Rajasthan is well-known for its wonderful forts and Rajput rulers. Rajasthan's hill forts are highly noted for their architectural styles and Rajput monarchs' courage. UNESCO has designated them as World Heritage Sites taking into account how well build they are.
Rulers: Rajput kings
Hill Forts of Rajasthan: Significant Features
- Rajasthan's six forts were constructed throughout the whole of 18th and 19th centuries.
- The serial site comprises very well designed six magnificent forts in Rajasthan: Kumbhalgarh, Chittorgarh, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur, Jhalawar, and Jaisalmer.
- The Rajput style was popular to be eclectic rather than 'unique.' Its distinctiveness was especially derived from its antecedents and neighbors, as well as its degree of impact over following regional forms such as Maratha architecture.
- Major urban centers, palaces, trading centers, and other structures were all surrounded within the defensive walls of this magnificent structure.
- It also comprised temples, which typically predated the walls of the arena, and within which a complex courtly culture formed that supported the important learning, music, and also the arts.
- Water harvesting ponds built by Rajput monarchs are still in use today in these forts and making the tradition stand still.
10. Bhimbetka Rock Shelters
The Bhimbetka Rock Shelters are located on the southern edge of the central Indian plateau, which is also near the foothills of the Vindhyan Mountains.
Location: Vidhya mountains
Bhimbetka Rock Shelter: Significant Features
- As evidenced by the high quality of its rock art, Bhimbetka reveals a very important but long-forgotten relationship between man and the landscape.
- Five clusters of natural rock shelters, perched atop enormous sandstone outcrops above the enormous deep forest, display artwork dating from the Mesolithic Period to the historical period.
- The inhabitants of the twenty-one villages surrounding the site have cultural practices that are known to be very similar to those shown in the rock paintings.
India is rich in culture and art, as evidenced by its historic structures and monuments. Because of the preservation and repair of the monuments we have, the country's cultural heritage and history are recognized around the world.