Indian culture is one of the oldest surviving cultures in the world with its rich archaeological heritage. There are numerous religious archeological sites which constructed in past two thousand years and some are even older than that. Below is the list of top 8 archaeological wonders of Ancient India.
- Ajanta Caves
These caves are situated at a distance of 107 Km from Aurangabad (Maharashtra, India). In the modern era, these caves have been first spotted by an army officer in the Madras Regiment of the British Army in 1819 during one of his hunting expeditions. The caves were excavated in a horseshoe shape in different periods (from 2ndcentury B.C. to 6th century A.D.). The caves were used for Buddhist monk’s religious purpose. These caves are known all over the world for its religious paintings and murals which are in good condition even today.
Mahabalipuram is the group of Hindu religious monuments situated in coastal areas of Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu, India). The name Mahabalipuram has its origin with demon king Mahabali killed by one of the Avatars of Lord Vishnu. It is also known by another name Mamallapuram, the title used by the king of Pallava Narashima Varman (AD 630-68)who has got the title of Mamalla; the great wrestler. There are nine monolithic temples, cave temples and famous among them are known after the five Pandavas of Mahabharata.
- Konarak – Sun Temple
Built in the 13th century, it consists of the gigantic Solar chariot, Mayadevi Temple, Vaishnava Temple and numerous small shrines. It is situated in Puri district (Odisha, India). The temple was desecrated by Mughal king Jahangir in the 17thcentury.
It is situated on the southern bank of river Tungabhadra (Karnataka, India). This monument of Vijayanagara Empire was built between AD 1336-1570, from the times of Harihara-I to Sadasiva Raya. Many foreign travelers have written glorious descriptions of Vijayanagara Empire in their travel accounts.
Temples of this city are known for their large dimensions, bold and delicate carvings, traditional depictions which include subjects from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The monolithic statues of Lakshmi, Narasimha and Ganesa are noted for their massiveness and grace.
- Rani ki Vav (The Queen’s Stepwell)
Rani ki Vav is an intricately constructed stepwell, built as a memorial to an 11th century AD king Bhimdev I by his widowed queen Udayamati. It was added to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites on 22 June 2014. It is situated in Patan (Gujrat, India). There are many Hindu religious sculptures. The steps begin at ground level and reach deep well below. There is also a 30 Km tunnel below the last step of the well which leads to the town of Sidhpur near Patan.
The construction of Stupa at Sanchi was started by emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE. There are numerous Stupas within few miles of Sanchi. Emperor Ashoka ordered the construction of many stupas around the country where mortal remains of Lord Buddha were to be kept. Since the fourteenth century, Sanchi remained deserted and uncared for till 1818 when General Taylor rediscovered the site.
Dholavira is an archaeological site at Khadirbet in Kutch District (Gujarat, India). The name Dholavira was given in the name of a modern day village 1 kilometer from the location of the site. It is one among the five largest Harappan cities in the Indian subcontinent. There are identified seven major cultural stages at this site numbered Stage 1 to stage 7. The excavations at the site have helped to understand the Indus Valley Civilization.
Nalanda was an acclaimed Mahavihara, a large Buddhist monastery in the ancient kingdom of Magadha. It is situated. It is situated at 95 Km southeast of Patna (Bihar, India).Nalanda got its importance in 5th century A.D. as a great monastic cum educational institution for oriental art and learning. Students from all over the world came here to gain knowledge.
It was founded by Kumaragupta I (413-455 A.D.) of the great Gupta dynasty. Excavations at the site by Archaeological Survey of India during 1915-37 and 1974-82 have exposed six major brick temples and eleven monasteries.
From above examples, we know that ancient Indians were highly advanced in the art of building massive stone structures, Astrology, and irrigation system. The conservation of these sites will be great heritage for us and the attraction for the foreigners.