Top 4 UNESCO World Heritage Site in South India

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Hampi, Karnataka India

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What is it?

Your exploration of South Indian architecture is incomplete without a visit to the UNESCO heritage monuments of Hampi. Spread over a massive land of 24 hectares, Hampi is an open-air gallery of fine sculptures and temples, which were majorly constructed during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya. Hampi was the capital of the Vijaynagara Kingdom, which existed from 14th to 16th century; the temples evolved for almost 200 years.

Why Visit?

Located at the banks of River Tungabhadra, the forts, palaces and shrines is a blend of sophistication and grandeur. The prime structures that seek your attention are the Krishna Temple complex, temples of Narasimha, Ganesa, Hemakuta, Achyutaraya, Vitthala, and the Lotus Mahal; the Vitthala temple is amazing with 56 pillars in its main hall which make sound when struck. These temples exhibit Dravidian architectural style while the local markets, defense structures, residential areas and tanks surrounding the temples are proof of extraordinary city planning. There are almost 500 monuments at Hampi.

When to Visit?

The temples are open from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm on all days of the week.

Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu

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What is it?

This port city of Tamil Nadu is an open-air gallery of rock cut temples of South India. The temples date back to 140 AD.

Why Visit?

Visit Mahabalipuram if you want to delve deep into the artistic magic of Indian artisans. The nine monolithic shrines of Mahabalipuram narrate stories from Indian mythology and Indian epics of Mahabharata; the most famous being the Five Rathas named after the five Pandava brothers of Mahabharata. The other sculptures exhibit Goddess Mahishasurmardini, Arujana’s Penance and the Jala-SayanaPerumal temple. The Shore Temple is another extraordinary architectural piece, consisting of three temples within its complex and each with intricate carvings and fine sculptures. Mahabalipuram is also known for its cave temples, like the Varahamandapa, ParamesvaraMahavarahaVishnugriha, which represent the Mamalla style of architecture; plastered and painted. The Raja Gopurams and the Sthala- Sayana Temple represent the grandeur of Vijaynagara Phase.

When to Visit?

The temples are open on all days of the week from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm.

Chola Group of Temples, Tamil Nadu

What is it?

Chola Temples is a group of shrines built during the reign of Emperor Rajarajain 1009-10 AD. These temples are located at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu.

Why Visit?

The Chola group of temples are considered as ‘landmark in the evolution of building art in South India.’ The most famous temple of the group is the Saiva Temple, also known as the Brihadisvara and Daksinameru. The temple has a long prakara of 240.9 meter and width of 122 meters. The unique feature of the double storied malika and parivalayas is the simplicity of designs and massive proportions. This design pattern has been the inspirations for future constructions not only in South India but all over South-East Asia. The temples are made from granite and is adorned with exquisite mural paintings. These rich paintings depict scenes from the daily lives of the Chola period and legendary stories.

When to Visit?

The Chola Group of Temples is open for visit on all days of the week. The temples are open from 6.30 am to 20.30 pm.

Pattadakal Monuments, Karnataka

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What is it?

Declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, Pattadakal monuments were built during the 7th and 8th centuries. Located at the banks of River Malaprabha, these temples are contribution of the Chalukya dynasty.

Why Visit?

All the Hindu temples located at Pattadakal are dedicated to Lord Shiva and represent a miraculous fusion of Nagara, Indo-Aryan and Dravidian architectural styles. The colossal black stone statue of Shiva’s bull, Nandi is another artistic masterpiece of the city. There is a Jain temple at Pattadakal which is dedicated to Lord Papanatha and is a blend of North and South Indian architectural style. The city is also famous for its Virupaksha temple car festival, Mallikarjun temple festival and the ChalukyaUtsav, which is a three-days dance festival.

When to Visit?

October to March is the best time to visit the city; the temples remain open from sunrise to sunset.

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