India’s rich diversity in culture and heritage is very well reflected and can be experienced at the archaeological sites. The spectacular monuments of different era state several cultures that flourished since ancient time. The land of marvel architecture displays the best wonders of the world from prominent oldest rock-cut caves to bronze age civilization, the famous universities or be the forts of various empires and kingdoms. Understanding Indian history is not so easy though you can appreciate the work of our ancestors and will be astonished of their imaginations. India, the mystical land, has the maximum number of archaeological sites listed in the world’s heritage. It is difficult to sort out all the overwhelming sites that defy the diversity. I have tried to list my top 10 archaeological sites dating as vintage from the pre-historic era.

Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh

The rocky terrain of Bhimbetka is a gift from our ancestors with the broken path which will grasp you in the pre-historic era. It is surrounded by craggy cliffs and lofty mountain which is rich in flora and fauna. The natural rock shelter is an archaeological treasure among cave paintings of the palaeolithic age established around 30,000 years old. The exclusive art of vibrant colours highlights the expression of early human social life and their interaction with nature and animals. Fortunately, these paintings in the inner walls of the cave are well preserved from the exposure of extreme weather. The entire region is environed by 600 caves at Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh. It is in the mids of the Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary at the foothills of the Vindhya Range.

How to Reach?

The nearest major airport and railway station are in Bhopal. It is about 48km which is well connected by local transports.

Rakhigarhi, Haryana

The amazing discovery of Rakhigarhi archaeological site enables us to retrace about our civilization. It approves to be the largest known city during the famous Indus Valley Civilization. The town has witnessed the first urban civilization rise more than 4000 years ago with its mysterious downfall. Walking through the open-air museum is like visualizing the ancient settlement. The excavation has revealed the interesting facts about the culture and planning of the city during the pre-Harappan era. Recently a groundbreaking discovery of 62 graves may have the answer of Indian civilization that has vexed some of the best minds in history and science.

How to Reach?

The nearest major town, Hisar, is well connected by airway and railways and from there, tourists can reach by roadways.

Dholavira, Gujarat

A journey to Dholavira is a paradise on earth through the saline desert of Rann of Kutch. The ancient town indicates the presence of the historic ruins of Indus Valley Civilization dating back 2900 BC to 1500 BC. It is the second-largest Harapan culture site in India and fifth in Indian sub-continent. You can investigate the past to discover our future in the most remarkable excavation. It narrates the story of Harappan culture that had sketched the city with broad roads, markets, embraced by two monsoon channels and the world’s largest rainwater reservoir to mention a few. The prominent charisma of Dholavira is the museum that displays Harappan artefacts as first signboards, tools, urns, ornaments and vessels that were dug out from this site.

How to Reach?

To reach the site one has to reach Bhuj which is the nearest connectivity by railway and flight.

Ajanta & Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

Ajanta and Ellora caves exhibit some the finest ancient rock-cut caves which are almost buried in the dense forest all-around. Amazingly hand-carved caves were built in the period between the 2nd century BC to 16th AD that anchors the best examples of Indian architecture and sculpture. While 29 caves of Ajanta symbolizes Buddhism, 34 caves of Ellora are the mixture of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. The same style consociates both the caves which are 100km apart. The paintings and sculptures are masterpieces that had a considerable artistic influence on modern Indian art. The most famous attraction of these caves is a single largest monolithic structure of the Kailash Temple.

How to Reach?

The closest railway station and airport for the caves is located at Aurangabad.

Nalanda University, Bihar

Nalanda University was one of the world’s greatest ancient Buddhist academic excellence. The traditional foundation of University dates back to the 5th century BC during the reign of Emperor Ashoka. It flourished as an international institution and attracted Buddhist monks from all over the world. The excavation reveals that architecture was inspired by the Kushan style having a large courtyard with the cells where monks lived. A precise portrayal of the University appears from the manuscripts of the great Chinese scholar and traveller Xuanzang who had visited in the 7th century BC. Nalanda Archeological Museum at the verge of disintegration has collections of the precious treasure of excavation and antiquities that have been unearthed.

How to Reach?

Nalanda is well connected by the major towns- Rajgir, Gaya and Patna, by regular bus service and cabs.

St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Kerala

Along the Western Ghats of white beach fringe with impenetrable tropical forests embraces one of the oldest church in our country at Palayoor. According to the folklore, the first Catholic church in India was established in 52 AD by St. Thomas who is believed to be one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. The church was built by incorporating the old Hindu deserted temple. Thus a fusion of Hindu ornamentation and Persian Church Plan is reflected on its architecture. Later an Italian missionary built a new architecture around the small old teak wooden church. The church witnessed an invasion by Tipu Sultan during the 18th century which was destroyed by fire, thereafter, it was reconstructed.

How to Reach?

The church is well connected by the railway station and with State Highway from Thrissur. The nearest airport is at Cochin. The church is basically located in Palayoor at the distance of 28kms from Thrissur. The cabs and local transports are easily accessible.

Cheraman Juma Mosque, Kerala

The landmark structure of Cheraman Juma Mosque is considered to be India’s first mosque. This stunning architecture has fascinated the travellers from all over the world with its impressive history and distinctive Kerala-style composition. The mosque was built by Malik Ibn Dinar in 629 AD on the order of Chera king. It has been a testimony of communal harmony of Hindu-Muslim coexistence with an eye-opener for modern Indians. The prime attraction of the mosque is an ancient oil lamp which is believed to be burning continuously since its origin. It has gone through a massive renovation concerning its physical appearance as it was demolished by Portuguese in 1504. The mosque exhibits a museum displaying its architecture that evolved over the years. It is located at Kodungalloor taluk in Thrissur district of Kerala.

How to Reach?

The closest railway station is Irinjalakuda and the nearest airport is in Cochin. This spot is easily reachable by cabs and local transports.

Khajuraho Temple, Madhya Pradesh

The temples of Khajuraho depict more than just erotic, but with interesting facts showcasing the life of the common man that existed during that time. Contrastingly, the world-famous erotic art of Kama Sutra is only 10 per cent of all carvings found in the complex. The epic clusters of 85 temples comprise of both Hinduism and Jainism, which was built in 950 AD to 1050 AD by the rulers of the Chandela Dynasty. Among them, only 22 temples have managed to survive and stood up from the test of time. The temples are carved from hard river sandstone embellished into three complexes-the Western, the Eastern and the Southern. It is one of the wonders of India, rich with mythological stories, artistic creativity and marvel of the architecture.

How to Reach?

Khajuraho is well connected by airways, railways and easily accessible roads from different parts of India by National Highway.

Hampi, Karnataka

A historical town of Hampi is an offset landscape that has enthralled travellers for centuries. This striking ruin of the past was once capital of famous Vijayanagara dynasty, endured around 1500 AD. The excellent workmanship of the sculptors and monuments reflects the magnificent technique of the architecture. This fascinating site used to be the second-largest city in the world perched over several kilometres of terrain. The magnificent temples mounted with heaps of boulder with remains of aquatic structures, ancient market place, royal pavilion are few among the list of attraction for tourist. The best time to visit Hampi is during the three-day festival which is held around October-November every year.

How to Reach?

Hospet is the nearest railway station and Belgaum Airport is at a distance of 270 km which is well connected by the roadways.

Qutub Minar, Delhi

A masterpiece Indo-Arabic art- Qutub Minar is one of the finest monument in India, as well as in the world. The tower signifies the victory of the first Muslim ruler over Delhi. The 73-meter high tower construction was commenced by Qutab-ud-din Aibak in 1193, it was followed by its successor Illtutmish and later in 1368 Firoz Shah Tughlaq completed its last fifth storey. The tower is embellished with the inscriptions having the projecting balconies supported by the rounded brace. The most magnificent structure in the complex is the ruin of the oldest mosque Quwwat Ui Islam which is a renowned architecture in the world. The Iron Pillar near the mosque is the most curious antique in Delhi. The World Heritage Site is established at Mehrauli of Delhi.

How to Reach?

Delhi is the capital city of India which is well connected by airport and railway. The easy access of transports makes easy to reach this spot. The nearest Delhi metro station is Qutub Minar station at a distance of around 2 km.

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