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In this article, we are discussing World Heritage Sites in India.

25. Group of monuments at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu

a) The group of monuments at Mahabalipuram is situated on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram district.

b) Mahabalipuram means the City of Bali. It is also known as Mamallapuram after the 7th century Pallava king ‘Narasimhavarman I’ also known as Mammallan, who was a great warrior and wrestler.

c) This site has around 40 sanctuaries and the largest open air rock-relief in the world known as the Descent of the Ganges. 

d) These are rock-cut monolithic monuments and are important in terms of the ‘ratha architecture’ in India. Few examples of this architecture from this group of monuments are: the Pancha Rathas of Dharmaraja Ratha, Arjuna Ratha, Bhima Ratha, Draupadi Ratha, Nakula Sahadeva Ratha, and also Ganesha Ratha.

e) Monuments of Mahabalipuram have several cave temples like Varaha Cave Temple, Krishna Cave Temple, Mahishasuramardini Mandapa, Panchapandava Cave Temple; structural temples including the Shore Temple and the Olakkannesvara Temple.

f) Group of monuments at Mahabalipuram gained World Heritage Site distinction from UNESCO in 1984.

26. Khajuraho Group of Monuments, Madhya Pradesh

a) Khajuraho is the modern name of ancient city called Kharjjura-vahaka. It was the first capital city of Rajput Chandela dynasty, who ruled Bundelkhand from 10th-14th century AD.

b) Most of the temples were built between 950-1050 AD. Presently, only 20 temples remain and these belong to three distinct groups and two religions-Hinduism and Jainism. 

c) The temples in Khajuraho are famously known for their North Indian nagara-style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures. 

d) The primary feature of the style is the central tower whose highest point is directly over the temple’s main deity. The temples are built on spire upon spire, like a mirage. The spires have horizontal bands of richly-carved figures of male and female forms, animals, trees and chariots.

e) The western group of temples at Khajuraho includes the Kandariya Mahadeo Temple, Chaunsat Yogini Temple, Chitragupta Ttemple, Lakshamana Temple, Matangeshwara Temple, and Varaha Temple. The largest (31 metres) and the most popular temple among these is Kandariya Mahadeva that was built in the reign of Ganda (1017-1029 AD). It is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

f) Some famous temples the eastern group of temples at Khajuraho are the Parsvanath Temple, Adinath Temple, Ghantai Temple, Hanuman Temple, and Brahma Temple. The Parsvanath Temple is the largest of the Jain temples.

g) Famous Moroccan Traveller Ibn Battuta, who visited India during 1335-1342 AD, has mentioned Khajuraho in his memoirs.  

h) The Khajuraho group of monuments was inscribed in the World Heritage Sites list by UNESCO in 1986.

27. The Great Living Chola temples, Tamil Nadu

a) The Great Living Chola temples were built by the Chola kings during 11th and 12th Century AD. The group includes renowned Shaiva temples like the Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadeeswarar Temple at Gangaikondacholapuram and the Airavatesvarar Temple at Darasuram.

b) Brihadeeswarar Temple: It is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and was built by the great Chola king Rajaraja I at Thanjavur in 1010 AD. It is also known as Periya Kovil, Rajarajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram.   

c) The tower (vimanam) of this temple is very high (66 m) and the tallest in the world. The apex (kumbham) of the temple is carved out of single rock. It has elaborately carved gopurams and a huge courtyard, which has a huge statue of Nandi (bull). The temple has Chola frescoes portraying Lord Shiva in various forms.

d) Brihadeeswarar Temple at Gangaikondacholapuram: It is one of the largest temples in India, built in the Dravidian style of architecture by Rajendra Chola I in 1035 AD. It is located in Gangaikondacholapuram, in Tamil Nadu’s Ariyalur district.

e) This temple was built on the same model of Brihadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur. The temple tower is 55 m high. The temple has sculptures of exceptional quality like the dancing Ganesha, Ardhanarishwarar, Dakshinamurthi, Harihara, Adavallan (Nataraja), Gangadhara, Lingodhbhava, Vishnu, Subrahmanya, Vishnu-anugrahmurthi, Kalanthakamurthi, Durga, Brahma, Bairava, Kamantaka, etc. 

f) Airavatesvara Temple: It is a Hindu temple of Dravidian architecture located in the town of Darasuram. This Shiva temple was built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century AD. The temple is known as Airavatesvara because in this temple Shiva is worshipped by Airavata, the while elephant of Indra.

g) The vimanam of this temple is 24 m high. The temple has a sanctum and axial mandapas. The pillars of the front mandapa ‘Rajagambhira tirumandapam’ are highly ornate. The sculpture of Bhikshatana from this temple is a great example of Chola art. 

h) The Brihadeeswarar temple gained the World Heritage Site status from UNESCO in 1987. The temple at Gangaikondacholapuram and the Airavatesvara Temple were added as extensions to the site in 2004.

28. Hill forts of Rajasthan

a) This site includes six grand forts in Rajasthan, namely Chittorgarh Fort, Kumbhalgarh Fort, Ranthambore Fort, Gagron Fort, Amber Fort, and the Jaisalmer Fort.

b) These forts were built in the 5th & 17th-18th centuries and are based in the Aravalli Ranges. The architectural style of these forts is based on ‘traditional Indian principles’. It also has high influence of Mughal & Maratha architectural styles. 

c) Chittorgarh Fort was one of the largest forts in India and former capital of the Sisodia clan of Mewar. It was initially ruled by Guhilot and later from the 7th century by the Sisodias, the Suryavanshi clan of Chattari Rajputs.

d) The fort of Kumbhalgarh was originally known as Manchindgarh and was constructed almost around 2000 years ago. It was rebuilt again in the 15th century by Rana Kumbha.

e) There are no sure accounts as to who built the Ranthambore Fort, but it is believed that this fort was built by Rao Jat in 1046 AD. The structural remains comprise the fort wall with gateways from three sides, palace complex, including the famous Hamir Palace.

f) Gargon Fort is an example of hill and water fort. It is situated in Jhalawar district of Rajasthan.

g) The Amber Fort is located in Amer and was built by the ‘Meenas’, a tribe found in Rajasthan & Madhya Pradesh. The fort was ruled by Raja Man Singh I (1550-1614).

h) Jaisalmer Fort is one of the largest fortifications in the world. It was built by Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal in 1156AD.

i) These forts were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list in 2013.

To read the other articles in the series

Capsule 1 :

Capsule 2 :

Capsule 3 :

Capsule 4 :

Capsule 5 :

Capsule 6 :

Capsule 7 :

Capsule 9 :

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