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In this article, we are discussing World Heritage Sites in India.
29. Taj Mahal, Agra
a) Situated in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, the Taj Mahal is the epitome of Mughal architecture. It is a mausoleum in white marble built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan on the banks of Yamuna River for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
b) Taj Mahal literally means ‘Crown of Palaces’. Its construction was completed in 1653 AD along with the mosque, the guest house and the main gateway on the south, the outer courtyard.
c) The marble dome is the most remarkable feature of the monument. It is almost 35 m high and was made prominent by the cylindrical “drum”, which was also decorated with a lotus design. Four smaller domes have been placed on the main dome’s corners replicating the onion shape of the main dome.
d) From the edges of base walls, tall decorative spires (guldastas) extend to visually underline the dome’s height. The dome was topped by a gilded finial, which was topped by a moon, a typical Islamic motif.
e) Minarets, that are over 40 m high, stand in the four corners around the main structure. Each minaret was divided into three equal parts by two working balconies that ring the tower.
f) The decorative elements in the exterior of Taj Mahal have been created by applying paint, stucco, stone inlays or carvings in calligraphic forms, abstract forms and vegetative motifs.
g) Its interior is an octagon, which was decorated with precious gemstones and an intricate screen (jali) cut from marble.
h) Taj Mahal was added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list in 1983.
30. Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh
a) Fatehpur Sikri is a city in Agra, which was previously known as Vijaypura Sikari by the Sikarwar Rajoput clan. Later, it was founded by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1569 AD and named as Fatehpur Sikri.
b) From 1571 to 1585, Fatehpur Sikri served as the capital of Mughal Empire. After Akbar’s conquest of Gujarat in 1573, the prefix Fatehpur or ‘city of victory’ was added to its name.
c) The city is 3 km long and 1 km wide. It is surrounded by 6 km of wall on three sides. The wall can be accessed through nine gates namely, the Delhi Gate, the Lal Gate, the Agra Gate, the Birbal’s Gate, the Chandanpal Gate, the Gwalior Gate, the Tehra Gate, the Chor Gate and the Ajmere Gate.
d) The monuments in the city were built in locally-quarried red sandstone (known as Sikri sandstone) in a blend of Hindu, Persian & Indo-Muslim traditions.
e) Jama Masjid: It is the congregational mosque with an enormous entrance to the courtyard. It was built similar to Indian mosques, with iwans around a central courtyard.
f) Buland Darwaza: It is the big south wall of Jama Masjid and is 55 m high. To commemorate Akbar’s Gujarat campaign Buland Darwaza was added as a victory arch after five years of construction of Jama Masjid.
g) Tomb of Salim Chishti: Within the courtyard (sahn) of Jama Masjid, a white marble tomb of Sufi saint Salim Chishti was placed.
h) Some other prominent monuments in Fatehpur Sikri are Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, Ibadan Khana, Hujra-i-Anup Talao, Panch Mahal, Birbal’s house etc.
i) Fatehpur Sikri was inscribed in the World Heritage Sites List by UNESCO in 1986.
31. Agra Fort, Uttar Pradesh
a) Agra Fort is located on the banks of Yamuna River. It was a stronghold of Mughal emperors and the imperial city of several Mughal rulers.
b) Agra Fort was constructed by Mughal Emperor Akbar on the remains of an ancient site known as Badalgarh held by Raja Badal Singh.
c) It is a semi-circular structure surrounded by a 21.4 m high wall. It has double ramparts with broad massive circular bastions at regular intervals.
d) Out of the monument’s four gates, the Delhi Gate and the Lahore Gate are notable. The “Khizri Gate” (water gate) opens to the river front.
e) Emperor Akbar’s court historian Abul Fazal recorded a total of 5000 buildings in the Agra Fort region built in Bengali and Gujarati style.
f) The Bengali Mahal was built in a red sandstone. It is split into Akbar Mahal & Jahangiri Mahal.
g) Agra Fort was inscribed into UNESCO’s World heritage site list in 1983.
32. Jantar Mantar, Jaipur
a) Jantar Mantar is a collection of 20 architectural instruments in Jaipur, Rajasthan. It was built by Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh in 1738 AD.
b) Jantar Mantar literally means ‘calculating instrument’ and has the world’s largest stone sundial.
c) The architectural instruments in Jantar Mantar were built using astronomy and instrument design principles laid down in the ancient Hindu and Sanskrit scriptures. These instruments measure time, predict eclipses, track location of major stars, ascertain declinations of planets, and determine the celestial altitudes and related ephemerides.
d) These instruments are built from local stones and marbles. There is also a wide use of bronze tablets, brass, bricks and mortar. Each instrument carries an astronomical scale, generally marked on the marble inner lining.
e) Chakra Yantra, Dakshin Bhitti Yantra, Digamsha Yantra, Disha Yantra, Dhruva Darshak Pattika, Jai Prakash Yantra etc. are few major instruments at Jantar Mantar.
f) Ancient Sanskrit texts called Vedangas mentioned astronomical instruments like gnomon & clepsydra for the first time. Many other texts like Katyayana Sulbasutras, Arthashastra, Shardulakarnavadana & Surya-Prajapati had mentioned several other astronomical instruments.
g) Jantar Mantar was inscribed in UNESCO’s world heritage sites in 2010.
To read the other articles in the series
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Capsule 2 :
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