5 Historical Places in India You Must Visit

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Ajanta Cave Painting

Photo of 5 Historical Places in India You Must Visit by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya

Ajanta Cave Painting

Photo of 5 Historical Places in India You Must Visit by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya

Ajanta Cave Painting

Photo of 5 Historical Places in India You Must Visit by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya

Ajanta Caves. Picture from amyhanks.typepad.com

Photo of 5 Historical Places in India You Must Visit by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya

Strewn across almost every state in India are historical sites. Remnants of a glorious empire perhaps. A serene Buddhist shrine. Or a temple. A monument to commemorate a famous victory. Or perhaps a monument to commemorate love, to commemorate death. Historical sites are can be architectural wonders, they can be educational and informative, they can be a study in arts and aesthetics. But most importantly, they are time machines. They are portals to the past. They can take us back in time and and space and situate us in the middle of history itself. It helps us to focus again on our own locations in the scheme of time- where we stood, and how far we have come.

The single point agenda of travelling to specific historical sites is more apparently travelling through history. In India, there are almost too many places to see, too many cities to visit, too many tales to hear. The five places that make it to my list do so for no great historical reason. They are on my list because they are personal favourites. They are my summer holidays, my Puja vacation, my go-to topic for an essay once school re-opened. I learned more history by travelling to these places than I ever did in any classroom. 

Ajanta images (paintings) taken from www.indian-heritage.org

The best way to get to the Ajanta is to stay at the tourist lodge at Fardapur, only five kilometers away. Battery operated autos ferry tourists from the lodge to the UNESCO Heritage Site. You can choose to stay in Aurangabad as well, but the distance is 100 kilometers, and if you want to make multiple trips to Ajanta (which you will, in all probability), staying at Aurangabad might not be the best option. The caves at Ajanta date back to almost two centuries before the birth of Christ. Of course, it took centuries to complete the entire structure. Architecture proves that Ajanta used to be a Buddhist monastery, and it is most famous for the frescoes depicting the life of Buddha.
To visit Ellora, set up camp in Aurangabad, a distance of a mere 30 kilometers. This architectural wonder's most interesting facet is that it is a monolithic structure, that is, it has been carved out of a single block of stone, in this case, the Charanandri Hills. The UNESCO World Heritage site, dating back to the 5th century, was constructed for almost four hundred years. It contains Buddhist monasteries or viharas, as well as caves depicting scenes related to the Hindu and Jain faith. The Kailasa Temple is the centerpiece of the grandeur that is Ellora. It depicts Mount Kailasa, said to be the place where Lord Shiva of the Hindu pantheon resides. The temple appears to have several layers whereas it is carved out of a single rock. A single day's visit is not sufficient to take it all in. Allow yourself at least two days to explore this historical site.
Photo of Ellora, Maharashtra, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Ellora, Maharashtra, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
The rock shelters at Bhimbhetka are said to represent the earliest sign of human life in the Indian subcontinent. We know, of course, that from the very beginning, humans have felt the urge to express themselves, to record their lived experiences. History has given us enough evidence to support this statement. Bhimbhetka's rock paintings are examples of such evidence. The paintings show animals and birds, men riding horses, and hunting scenes. The earliest paintings are said to be around 30,000 years old. Bhimbhetka can be reached by car from Bhopal, located at a distance of around 45 kilometers.
Photo of Bhimbetka rock shelters, Amchha Khurd, Madhya Pradesh, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Bhimbetka rock shelters, Amchha Khurd, Madhya Pradesh, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Bhimbetka rock shelters, Amchha Khurd, Madhya Pradesh, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Bhimbetka rock shelters, Amchha Khurd, Madhya Pradesh, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Bhimbetka rock shelters, Amchha Khurd, Madhya Pradesh, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Nalanda, a Mahavihara (large Buddhist monastery) part of the ancient city of Magadha, now Bihar, is situated at a distance of about 95 kilometers from Patna. Many think that Nalanda is one of the oldest universities in the world. Undoubtedly, the Buddhist monasteries had provisions for imparting education, and the architecture of Nalanda locates residential quarters and classrooms. It is said to have attracted students from all over Asia. Hire a car from Patna to visit this ancient site, and if you have time on your hands, also visit Rajgir, the ancient capital of Magadha. It is around 15 kilometers away from Nalanda.
Hampi, the capital of the ancient Vijaynagar empire is located in Karnataka. The ruins of the city of Vijaynagar are scattered across Hampi. Hampi, though, predates the city of Vijaynagar. It is said that Hampi used to be a glorious city, and the architectural evidence that remains today provides ample support to such theories. The nearest railway station is Hosapete, a distance of 13 kilometers.
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
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