Continuing our journey of the Indian Subcontinent we will relive some really fascinating heritage sites of the country. India is a culturally rich country. People from different religions, castes and ethnic groups reside in our country adding to its vibrancy and diversity. Each ethnic group in our country has its own tale of origin and its set of unique traditions and culture.
Hoot…Hoot…fasten your seat belts!
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus): 2004
Victoria Terminus, the Victorian Landmark, is the centerpiece of the city’s suburban train network. Known as the busiest station in India, the VT station reached completion in 1888 and was opened to commuters on the 20th of June 1888. This was also the first terminus station in the subcontinent.
The station was built about 37 years after the first train set out from the station, on the location of the Bori Bunder Station to honor Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria and named after her majesty.
This symbol of Mumbai City reflects the Victorian Gothic styles and designs of the late 19th century. Designed by the British architect F.W. Stevens, the architecture of the building exhibits a perfect blend of British and Indian designs. At the time, the building was the most expensive structure in Mumbai costing 260,000 Sterling Pounds. It is one of the first and finest products that used industrial technology merged with the Gothic Revival style in India.
After the Independence of India, the station went under the administration of central railway. In 1996, the Minister of Railways, Suresh Kalmadi, changed the name of the station to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). The CST station was declared as ‘Heritage Grade 1’ under the resolution of Maharashtra State Government Act on 21st April 1997. The CST is also a ‘World Heritage Site’ declared by UNESCO in 2004.
Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park: (2004)
The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in the Panchmahal district of the Indian state of Gujarat. This site has a concentration of largely unexcavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties cradled in an impressive landscape that includes prehistoric (chalcolithic) sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and remains of the 16th-century capital of the state of Gujarat.
Centred around the city of Champaner or Muhammadabad built by Sultan Mahmud Begada of Gujarat, this place is the only complete and unchanged Islamic pre-Mughal city. The site also includes fortifications, palaces, religious buildings, residential precincts, agricultural structures and water installations, from the 8th to 14th centuries. The Kalikamata Temple on top of Pavagadh Hill is considered to be an important shrine, attracting large numbers of pilgrims throughout the year.
One can observe a transition from the previous Hindu forms of architecture to the Muslim culture and styles of architecture. The park also houses some of the ancient Chalcolithic Indian Sites, from the Stone Age era. All in all, this site has an entire pocket full of history!
The Red Fort Complex: (2007)
The Red Fort is built as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad, the new capital of the 5th Mughal Emperor of India, Shahjahan. It gets its name from its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone.
Located to the north of Delhi, it represents the glory of the Mughal rule and is considered the Highpoint of Mughal architectural, artistic aesthetic creativity. The architectural design of the structures built within the fort represents a blend of Persian, Timuri and Indian architectural styles.
Isfahan, the Persian Capital is said to have provided the inspiration to build the Red Fort Complex. The fort is adjacent to the Salimgarh Fort on its north built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546 which is now part of the Red Fort Complex (area covered 120 acres) under the revised inscription of the UNESCO World Heritage List under categories (i),(ii), (iii) and (vi).
The palace within the fort complex, located behind the Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience), comprises a series of richly engraved marble palace pavilions, interconnected by water channels called the Nehr-i-Behishit meaning the “Stream of Paradise”, the Diwane-i-khas (Private audience hall), several other essential private structures, and also the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque built by Emperor Aurangzeb).
One of the major attractions of Mughal Red Fort and Palace is Diwan-e-Khas Hall where the Emperor held private audience.
Diwan-e-Khas is a large rectangular shaped chamber, with surrounding arched openings, and marble columns covered with floral design and patterns. The building also features four chhatris, one on each corner of the building.
The ceiling, which was originally inlaid with silver and gold, was stripped bare by successive financial crises of the empire by the Jats. The present wooden ceiling of the hall was painted in 1911. Through the centre of the hall flowed the Stream of Paradise which known as Nahr-e-Behisht. The building used to have red awnings or shamianas.
Over the corner-arches of the northern and southern walls below the cornice is inscribed the verse of Amir Khusrow: “If there be a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.”
Jantar-Mantar; Jaipur: (2010)
India has many unique monuments. One such is the Jantar Mantars of India. Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observatory built in 18th century Rajasthan. It is an astronomical observatory that was created by the Rajput King Sawai Jai Singh of Rajasthan in 1738 CE.
This site has a collection of 19 astronomical instruments including the world’s largest stone Sundial. The observatory consists of tools that were used to calculate celestial coordinate systems, the horizon-zenith local network, the equatorial system and the ecliptic system.
As one of India’s best-preserved observatories, this monument is an excellent example of the scientific as well as the cultural heritage of India.
Maharaja Jai Singh II modeled a total of five such facilities at different locations. The Jaipur observatory is the largest and best preserved of these and has a set of some 20 main fixed instruments built in masonry. It has been inscribed as cultural property on the UNESCO World Heritage List as “an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period.”
Western Ghats: (2010)
This site is one among world’s Ten “Hottest Biodiversity Hotspots”. Including many National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Reserve Forests of the Sahyadri, the Western Ghats includes the Sahyadri Sub-Cluster, Kudremukh Sub-Cluster, Talakaveri Sub-Cluster, Nilgiri sub-cluster, Anamalai sub-cluster, Periyar Sub-Cluster and Agasthyamalai Sub-Cluster.
The Western Ghats or the Sahyadri mountain ranges lies along the western coast of the Indian Peninsula. The Range runs north to south along the west edge of Deccan Plateau. It has exceptionally high biodiversity and ranks among the top 8 in World’s Biological Hot Spot Locations. The forests along the Western Ghats are home to about 325 species of flora and fauna, which included endangered, rare and critically endangered species of plants and animals.
Older than the Himalaya mountains, the mountain chain of the Western Ghats represents geomorphic features of immense importance with unique biophysical and ecological processes. The site’s high montane forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern. Moderating the tropical climate of the region, the site presents one of the best examples of the monsoon system on the planet.
Hill Forts of Rajasthan: (2013)
“Kesariya balam aaoni badharo mhare des…”
The hill forts of Rajasthan is a serial site that comprises of six majestic forts of Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Sawai Madhopur, Jhalawar, Jaipur and Jaisalmer. The architecture of these forts is spread in the area of about 20 kms. These forts boast the legacy of Rajputana Empire of 8th to 18th centuries. The Hill forts of Rajasthan are long standing masterpieces of architecture and have housed the rich cultural heritage of the Princely Clans that built them.
These Hill Forts of Rajasthan are located on rocky outcrops of the Aravallis mountain range in Rajasthan. They represent a type of Rajput military hill architecture, a style characterized by its mountain peak settings, utilizing the defensive properties of the terrain.
The number of hill forts is said to express the development of Rajput defensive architecture and are examples of Rajput military architecture. Rajput forts are well known for their defensive architecture. The forts use the natural defenses offered by the landscape: hills, deserts, rivers, and dense forests. They also feature extensive water harvesting structures, largely still in use today.
The treasures of India are unending. Looking at all these sites and knowing the sheer magnitude of sites that are not included in the list and yet are equally magnificent and important, makes you understand and appreciate the diversity of India. Really so proud to be an Indian!
Stay with me as we have a few more sites to cover…see ya tomorrow 🙂
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