India is known for its rich cultural heritage, traditions, temples, palaces and forts. Several dynasties, including Mauryas, Mughals, Chalukyas and the British, ruled India during different periods. And each dynasty left its indelible mark on the country’s soil in the form of incredible buildings, which are some of the most notable works of art we have. The list of iconic historic buildings in India is never-ending. However, we have picked 11 architectural masterpieces you must see in your lifetime. Have a look:
1. Taj Mahal, Agra
Known as the symbol of love, this ivory-white marble tomb was built by King Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal in 1632. Taj Mahal is located in the historical city of Agra and was constructed on the bank of river Yamuna. It is among the 7 wonders of the world and combines the design elements of Persian, Ottoman Turkish and earlier Mughal architecture.
2. Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha
Konark sun temple or Surya Mandir is a 13th-century temple situated on the Coastline of Odisha. The temple built from Khondalite rocks is known for its intricate artwork and sculptural work. The whole temple is has been envisaged as giant adorned chariot of the Sun god, Surya with 24 wheels, each having a diameter of 10 feet, with a set of spokes and intricate carvings. It follows the traditional style of Kalinga architecture or the Odisha style of Architecture.
3. Victoria Memorial, Kolkata
Located in the heart of Kolkata, Victoria Memorial was built between 1906 and 1921 in memory of Queen Victoria by Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India at that time. Drawn inspiration from Indo-Saracenic revivalist style, Victoria Memorial incorporates a blend of Mughal, British, Deccani and Egyptian elements. Currently, this marble building is a museum and an excellent tourist spot supported by the Ministry of Culture.
4. Virupaksha Temple, Karnataka
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Virupaksha Temple, also called Pampapati Temple, is the most astounding marvel situated in the exquisite city of Hampi, Karnataka. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was built in Dravidian architecture style during the period of Deva Raya II of the great Vijayanagara Empire. The most spectacular part of this temple is the beautiful stone carvings of Lord Shiva.
5. Lotus Temple, Delhi
This is the prime attraction of Delhi that brings all the religions together. Constructed in the shape of a lotus flower in 1986 by an Iranian-American architect Fariborz Sahba, Lotus Temple is last of seven Bahás temples around the world. It is made up of 27 free-standing marble-clad petals that are arranged in groups of three to form nine sides. It gives the feeling of a half-open lotus, floating, surrounded by its leaves.
6. Chand Baori, Rajasthan
Built in the 9th century, Chand Baori is one of the world’s oldest and largest stepwell in the Abhaneri village of Rajasthan. The baori has13 floors with a square construction of 35 meters on each side. The design of Chand Baori was proposed to harvest as much water as possible. Named after King Chand Raja from the Gujara Pratihara clan, this stepwell has a precise geometrical pattern, which makes the air in the well 5-6 degrees cooler than at the surface. It was earlier used as a community gathering place for natives to save themselves from intense heat.
7. Meenakshi Temple, Madurai
It is a historical sacred Hindu temple situated in the temple city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Meenakshi temple is also known as Meenakshi Amman or Minakshi-Sundareshwara Temple. Built between 1623 and 1655 by the survivors of the Kumari Kandam, the temple has around 14 towers (gopurams). Each of these towers has a multi-storeyed structure, covered with several stone figures of gods, demons and animals painted in bright hues.
8. Red Fort, Delhi
Red Fort, also known as Lal Qila, is a famous historical fort located in the centre of Delhi. Shah Jahan built it in the mid-17th century. In 2007, it was also designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Constructed in Mughal architecture, the fort has 75 feet high red sandstone walls that enclose entertainment halls, palaces, baths, projecting balconies and indoor canals. The artwork of this fort reflects a fusion of Persian, European and Indian art.
9. Khajuraho Temple, Madhya Pradesh
Located in Madhya Pradesh, India, Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a group of Jain and Hindu Temples. The temples are famous worldwide for their nagara-style architectural symbolism and erotic sculptures. Built during the rule of Chandela dynasty between 950 and 1050, Khajuraho temples are made of sandstone, with a granite base that is almost hidden from view. The Khajuraho group of temples were grouped into three geographical divisions: western, eastern and southern.
10. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, previously known as Victoria Terminus, is an outstanding example of the Victorian Gothic style of architecture and designs of the late 19th century. Built in 1878, it is a historic railway station in the bustling city of Mumbai and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
11. Golden Temple, Amritsar
Situated in the beautiful city of Amritsar, Golden Temple is the most significant pilgrimage site of Sikhism. Guru Ram Das built it in 1577. It is named Golden Temple after Maharaja Ranjit Singh rebuilt it in marble, copper and gold. It has a fusion of the Hindu Rajput and Indo-Islamic Mughal architecture.