From the ancient temples of southern India to the most beautiful monuments built by the Mughals, these are the ten most iconic historic buildings in the country. With an impressive architecture and a very rich history, India is a place to visit.
1. Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
Completed in 1010, this famous temple dedicated to the God Shiva in the historic city of Thanjavur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the most visited tourist attractions in the state of Tamil Nadu, the temple, made with approximately 60,000 tons of granite with historical frescoes, murals and minutely detailed sculptures, is fascinating to architecture, art and history enthusiasts.
2. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Built so that the women of the royal house could observe life on the streets and festivals without having to leave, the five-storey pyramidal monument is one of the main attractions in Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan. Built in red and pink sandstone and with a facade rich in details, the building is dating from the 18th century.
3. Temple of the Sun in Konark, Orissa
The temple of the Sun in Konark, Orissa has been called one of the seven wonders of India by various means of communication. Built in 1255, the iconic temple takes the form of a giant ornate carriage with twelve pairs of sculpted stone wheels drawn by a set of seven horses, as it represents by the Sun God, Surya. The temple is also structured in such a way that the first rays of the sunrise reach its main entrance.
4. Makkah Masjid, Hyderabad, Telangana
One of the oldest mosques in the country, the Makkah Masjid in Hyderabad was built by sixteenth-century ruler Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah. The central arch of the mosque was built with bricks brought from Mecca, the holiest city of Islam and thus, the mosque received that name. Although Muhammad Quli Qutb shah laid the cornerstone, it was the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who completed his construction when he invaded Hyderabad.
5. Qutb Minar, Delhi
The world’s tallest brick minaret, the Qutb Minar was built in the early 13th century by Qutb al-Din Aiba, founder of the Sultanate of Delhi, the Muslim predecessors of the Mughals in the rule of much of Northern India. Made of bricks that are covered with detailed iron sculptures and verses from the Quran.
6. Nalanda, Bihar
Now in ruins, Nalanda used to be a thriving learning center attracting students and scholars from across the subcontinent and from as far away as Tibet, China, Korea and Central Asia. Although the ruins occupy an area of approximately 12 hectares, the university has occupied a larger area and consisted of meditation rooms, classrooms, temples and dormitories for more than 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers.
7. Rani ki Vav, Patan, Gujarat
Built as a memorial for an eleventh century king by his widowed queen, this is an architectural wonder to look at enlessly. With side walls covered with sculptures and drawings, the staircase is built in such a way that is resembles an inverted temple designed to highlight the importance of water.
8. Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh
The largest monastery in India and the second largest in the world, the Tawang Monastery in the state of Arunachal Pardesh was built in 1680-1681 according to the wishes of the fifth Dalai Lama. With a remarkable view of the Tawang River valley and nearby mountains the majestic three-storey building features striking and colorful details as well as an 18-meter-high image of the Buddha. The monastery also has a library with several rare ancient writings.
9. Vijayanagara, Hampi
At its peak, the historic temple town of Hampi was one of the richest cities in the world. Today it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an attraction for tourists visiting India. Of the many complexes that make up the ruins of Vijayanagra, Vittala Temple is particularly known for its iconic stone carriage, famous musical pillars and impressive sculptures.
10. Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Best known among Indian historical buildings, the Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 to house the tomb of his wife, it is now universally recognized is an icon of love. The architectural marvel of marble represents the best of Mughal’s artistic heritage in India and attracts about 7 to 8 million visitors each year.