India is a country boasting the perfect blend of natural, cultural, monumental, and historical beauty on its land. From concrete magnificent monuments to the shimmering man-made lakes to the natural beauty scattered all around, from the picturesque beaches to sand-covered desert lands– is there anything in India that wouldn’t make you love this land forever?
All these beguiling sites including temples, monuments, palatial structures, cultural sites, wildlife sanctuaries, natural beauty, etc. have carved their position among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. India proudly abodes 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that include 30 cultural destinations, 7 natural sites, and 1 fall among mixed criteria.
Although North India houses the capital city of India and many other magnificent monuments, you just cannot ignore the undaunting charm of South India that shines in a unique way. The historical and cultural ruins of South India are perfect destinations for the one who wishes to dive into the heritage beauty of South India.
If you are also someone looking for some astonishing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South India, here is our article that might help you a bit. Have a read and find the perfect destinations to be explored.
Top World Heritage Sites of South India:
Temples of Mahabalipuram:
The group of many aesthetic temples in Mahabalipuram makes it a popular tourist destination in South India. It is in the state of Tamil Nadu and was the 2nd capital city of the Gupta empire in ancient history. The architecture of temples here is one perfect example of the finest art and culture of Indian history depicting the old glorious time. The main attraction is the eleven rock-cut temples known as “Mandapas”. The shore temples facing the sea are another popular site which are holy shrines and popular pilgrimage spots. All the temples are unique and are extremely beautiful and due to their cultural and heritage value, they have been a part of the UNESCO world heritage site. These beautifully carved temples are a must-visit place in South India.
Popularly known for its incredible beauty, western Ghats are the chain of Mountains that runs through the western coast of India starting from Tamil Nadu, moving through Kerala along with Karnataka, Goa, and Maharashtra. It is among the top 8 Biological hotspots in the entire world because of its unique ecological and biophysical processes. The western ghats house the 9,200 species of plants, 508 species of birds, 139 species of mammals, 6,000 species of insects, 290 species of freshwater fish, 179 species of amphibians. Not just that, the place also houses 325 other species that are globally threatened.
The ecosystem of Western Ghats has a heavy influence on the pattern of the Indian monsoon. The forests of Ghats are tropical evergreen forests that are home to uncountable flora and Fauna. The Ghats are spread in very wide areas covering some of the most beautiful tourist places including Ooty, Munnar, Coonoor, Kodaikanal, Bandipur, etc.
The monuments of Hampi are the real architectural wonders, standing gracefully on the shore of the Tungabhadra river in Karnataka. It depicts the bewildering art and architectural designs of Old India. Hampi is known as the last capital city of a great and powerful kingdom, Vijaynagar. It is well known for its mind-blowing monuments and various religious sites. You would be amazed to see these structures whose designs, carvings are so rare, wonderful, and beautiful that too without the unavailability of tools and technologies. The Beauty of every temple and monument of Hampi will leave you dumbstruck, all you can do is admire them silently. Also, while you are there, do visit the Virushka temple, a very famous Hindu religious site.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway:
Imagine yourself enjoying the train ride running with that old steam engines, amidst the beautiful mountains and cold breeze. It sounds like a dream right, well you can live this dream by traveling to Ooty and get a seat in the Nilgiri mountain railway, also known as Toy Train. It is a great way to see the closer view of the amazing landscapes of Ooty and Cooner. The beautiful views during the journey are breathtaking especially when there are all fog and mist around. The Rack Pinion Engineering adopted by railways has made it possible for the train to run on the risky terrain of the mountains, due to this it became a part of the UNESCO world heritage site. Well, one should experience this beautiful journey where all you can have is a wonderful ride with lots of mesmerizing picturesque views that will remain in your memory forever.
The Chola Temple:
The Chola Dynasty was the powerful one that had ruled South India for the maximum time about which Tamilians are very proud of today also. During their ruling time, they constructed some of the most beautiful temples which are now part of the UNESCO world heritage site. While in Tamil Nadu, one must visit these gorgeous temples whose architectural designs are out of the world. The Cholas were well known for their art and designing, you can see that in those magnificent and marvelous temples in Tamil Nadu. The most famous temples that one must visit are Brihadisvara Temple (Gangaikondacholisvaram), the Brihadesvara Temple (Thanjavur), and the Airavatesvara Temple (Darasuram).
Pattadakal: The gorgeous group of monuments named Pattadakal is situated on the riverbank of Malaprabha in Karnataka state. It is quite a famous place but less explored by tourists, situated some 514 km away from Bangalore. The group of 10 amazing temples is part of the UNESCO world heritage site. You can see the mixture of North and south Indian architectural designs and patterns in all the temples. Back in the time, the place was the capital of the Chalukya Dynasty which gave us the marvelous heritage of all the time. One can witness the architectural beauty of these historic monuments and temples here.
The place has a great historical significance, anyone who is history and culture buff should visit the beautiful city of Mysore in South India. It shows the beautiful and rich cultural heritage of India in the form of beautiful Palaces, majestic monuments, and gorgeous temples. Mysore was the capital of the Wadiyar Dynasty in old times. The place is home to many heritage sites. Some of the main attractions that are worth visiting are Somnathpura temple, Chennakesava temple, and Chamundi temple. These are just exceptionally beautiful temples and hold important value as they are the main religious sites of Hindus. Don’t forget to visit the Mysore Palace, your journey is incomplete without exploring it.
Bijapur is now known as Vijaypura which is famous in India for having the second largest and the highest dome in the world. People come here to visit this architectural wonder. Apart from dome the place houses some of the amazing places that allure the history lovers. The most attractive places to visit here are the Ibrahim Rauza which is also known as the Taj Mahal of South India, the second is Gagan Mahal- well known as the tallest and widest central arch and the Chand Bawdi, which is a must-visit place, it was built was Adil Shad in the loving memory of her beloved wife, Chand Biwi. There are many other relics from Adil Shah’s time which are good to visit, overall the place is for history curious souls, if you are one of them then these majestic heritage sites in south India is just perfect eye treat for you.
Pattadakal city of Karnataka is one of the unexplored sites of South India that boasts the historical beauty of India. It is situated on the banks of Malaprabha River. For all the history and art buffs out there, this place would treat you with enormous beauty of Hindu temples constructed with magnificent medieval architecture and boasting the fusion of styles from North and South India.
The temples of Pattadakal were built by Chalukya Dynasty. The most magnificent temple of Pattadakal is Vurupaksha which is designed in Dravidian Style dating back to 740. The ruins of this temple are more like a storybook with historical tales, inscriptions of society and culture, yoga, wrestling, trapped elephant.
The place is also believed to have been a trial ground for Indian Temple architecture development.
Churches and Convents of Old Goa:
Goa isn’t just home to party freaks, but it is far beyond that. Witness a completely different side of Goa unfurled by its UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Churches and convents of Goa are the legacy monuments boasting Portuguese architecture dating back to 1510. Most of these churches still stand strong against all the developments and phrases of time. These churches are no less than reminders of the overseas visitors to Goa. The bell tower of ST. Augustine Church commemorates the arrival of Augustine in the 16th century and the ruins of Chapel of Santa Catarina remind the invasion of Portuguese in Goa.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus located in old Goa is one of the most visited UNESCO Sites that is famous for the aboding corpse of St. Francis Xavier and boasts glaringly the spectacular Portuguese architecture. Some other heritage sites in Goa are Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Church of Saint Cajetan, Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina.
I hope this article helped you in finalizing your itinerary to visit the heritage sites of South India. Still stuck at what to include and how to plan the itinerary or just do not want any mess and need help to plan a perfect South India Heritage Tour package, worry not, we are here at your service. Heritage Rajasthan Tourism curates the best South India Tour Packages. Contact us anytime and get your tour package custom made.