Styles of Architecture also plays a vital role in classification of Historical Places of India. For example the monuments built during Mughal era are classical examples of Turkish-Persian architecture, while the monuments of South India gives the glimpses of Dravidian Architecture. Some of the important and famous historical monuments of India are as follows:
Famous Historical Monuments of India
- Year of construction – 11th century originally, by Akbar in 1573 in present form
- Built by – Mughals (in present form)
From starting, Agra Fort was a strategic place and epicenter of power and it was used to command the entire India. The exact time of construction of the original fort is unknown. The fort in its present form was constructed by Mughals. All mughal rulers contributed to some extent in the construction of the present structural form. Originally the fort was called Badalgarh which was held by Raja Badal Singh, a Rajput king in year 1475. This fort however came under control of Lodi dynasty of Delhi. Sikandar Lodi, the first delhi sultan shifted his capital from Delhi to Agra and occupied this Agra Fort.
After the first battle of Panipat in 1526 between Ibrahim Lodi (son of Sikandar Lodi) and Babur, the Agra Fort came under the control of Mughals. In year 1540, this fort came in possession of Sher Shah Suri who defeated Humayun and ousted him out although Humayun managed to recapture it again in 1555. The fort was also occupied for few years by Hindu king Hem Chandra Vikramaditya (Hemu) who defeated Humayun. But after the second battle of Panipat in year 1556 between Hemu and Akbar, Hemu was defeated and the fort came under the control of Mughals again. It was Akbar who built the fort in the present form by red sandstones in 1573 and Shah Jahan also contributed in its present design. Later this fort was captured by Marathas in 18th century and then it came under the hands of British rule after Anglo Maratha war of 1803.
- Year of construction – 1576 AD
- Built by – Akbar
Buland Darwaza was built by Akbar in 1576 to mark his victory over Gujarat. Buland darwaza is the highest entrance gate of its kind in all over world. This represents the classical example of Mughal architecture. This is built at the main entrance of the palace of Fatehpur Sikri. This is built by using red sandstones and beautified with marble at various key locations. The whole structure of the gate is 54 m above ground level. There are 42 steps to be climbed to reach the main platform over which the gate is built. The height of the gate itself from the base platform is 40 m.
- Year of construction – 1591
- Built by – Md. Quli Qutub Shah
Charminar is a symbolic icon of city of Hyderabad. It was constructed in year 1591 by Quli Qutub Shah. It is basically a mosque which is situated on the banks of Musi river. As per the legend, Char minar was constructed as a commemoration for the eradication of deadly plague disease which was causing grave danger to the city. Quli Qutub Shah prayed and vowed to construct the monument once the plague gets eradicated. Quli Qutub Shah also founded the city of Hyderabad around this monument. Persian influence can be found from the architecture of this building. The structure is basically square 20 m long and having a minaret located at each corner. Height of each minaret is 56 m. Granite, limestone and mortar are used as main building materials.
- Year of construction : 1653
- Built by : Shah Jahan
Taj Mahal was built the famous Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan who is also called as Mughal Architect. He has built a number of other monuments also like : Red Fort of Delhi, Jama Masjid of Delhi, Moti Masjid of Lahore, Shalimar gardens of Kashmir etc. This monument was built by him as a tribute and loving memory of her wife Mumtaj. The construction work of Taj Mahal started in year 1632 and completed in 1653. It was built under the supervision of Architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri and 20,000 craftsmen. The cost of construction is estimated to about 32 Million rupees at that time.
- Year of construction – 1569
- Built by – Akbar
Fatehpur sikri is a planned fully fortified wall city which was founded by Akbar in 1569. This city is located 37 Km from Agra and the main attraction includes tomb of the sufi saint – Salim Chisti. This city was constructed by Akbar to commemorate, consolidate and safeguard his victories over Rajput kings of Chittor and Ranthambhor. Fathepur Sikri served as Mughal capital from the period of 1571 to 1585. Its original name was coined as Fatehabad which was later changed to Fatehpur Sikri. The name Fateh was coined to mark the victory of Akbar over this Rajput kingdoms. The buildings of Fathenpur Sikri represents the example of classical Persian architecture. The buildings are made of red sand stones. The main attractions of this city are – Buland Darwaza, Birbal’s house, Jama Masjid, Salim Chisti ki Dargah, Diwan – e – Aam, Diwan – e – Khas, Ibadat Khana, Anup Talao, Panch Mahal, Mariam-uz-Zamani Palace, Pachisi Court and Naubat Khana.
Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib)
- Year of construction – 1585 to 1604
- Built by – Guru Arjan
Harmandir Sahib which is popularly known as Golden Temple is located in Amritsar, Punjab state, India. This temple is among the holiest Sikh shrines across the whole world. The construction of the temple was started in 1585 and completed in 1604 by fifth Sikh Guru – Guru Arjan. The present structure in the form of Gurudwara was built by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia in 1764. It was Maharaja Ranjit Singh who got the outer walls and roof covered by gold to which the acronym Golden Temple started. The devotees took bath in the holy water of reservoir surrounding the temple which is fed by river ravi. As contrary to the other Sikh shrines, there are total four entrances to the temple. There are three pious trees in the vicinity of temple each representing important milestones of Sikh culture.
- Year of construction – 1626 to 1656
- Built by – Md Adil Shah
Gol Gumbaz is basically a tomb of Mohammad Adil Shah and his two wives. This gumbaz is located in Bijapur of Karnataka. The structure is a huge dome which is second largest of its kind of medieval world (first one is Hagia Sofia of byzantine empire, presently in Turkey). This was constructed Adil Shah when he was alive by the architect Yaqut of Dabul. The structure consists of four minarets on each corners of a central dome standing on a cubical base. The sides of the base are 47.5 meter in length and the dia of the dome is 44 meter. The minarets are seven storied and octagonal from inside carrying staircase up to the upper dome structure. The most interesting part of this dome is whispering gallery where even a slightest sound can be heard at other side due its acoustic design.
- Year of construction – 1799
- Built by – Sawai Raja Pratap Singh
Hawa Mahal was built by Sawai King Pratap Singh and the construction was completed in year 1799. The palace was designed by Ustad Lal Chand and red and pink sandstones are used in the construction. Hawa Mahal has achieved a distinguished image and iconic representation of the pink city of Jaipur. This palace is the shape of crown of Krishna and is named so because of its numerous windows in form of honeycomb structure. The palace is a 5 storeyed structure which has total 953 windows which enables the royal ladies to watch the outside streets of palace without being seen from out. The unique feature of the palace is the air ducts design which allows air to pass like venturi leaving a cool breeze giving air conditioning effect.
- Year of construction – 1724 to 1735
- Built by – Maharaja Jai Singh II
There are total 5 Jantar Mantars which were built by Maharaja Jai Singh of of Jaipur. The locations of these Jantar Mantar are New Delhi, Mathura, Jaipur, Ujjain and Varanasi. The Jantar Mantar of Jaipur is the largest one which houses world’s largest stone Sun dial and is also defined as a World Heritage site. These Jantar Mantar are basically astronomical observatory containing of a number of scientific instruments related to astronomy. These instruments measure the time of day as per the position of sun in sky. These devices were used to study the position of planets with respect to sun, calculations related to astronomical tables etc.
Red Fort (Lal Quila)
- Year of construction – 1638 to 1648
- Built by – Shah Jahan
Red Fort is yet another masterpiece delivered by Mughal Architect Shah Jahan after Taj Mahal. This was designed by Ustad Ahmad Lahauri who also designed Taj Mahal. Likewise Taj Mahal, Red Fort is also situated on the banks of river Yamuna. Red Fort which is also called as Lal Quila served as official residence of Mughal Kings. In addition to residence, it also served as political and administrative center of Mughal Empire. As the name suggest, the fort is made up of red sandstones and reflects a blend of Persian and Timurid architecture styles. It was also declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2007. The importance of this monument can be understood by the fact that Prime Minister of India hoists the tricolor and delivers speech on every independence day annually.
After Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb made some modifications by constructing moti masjid (Pearl Mosque) and fortified gateway at the two main gates of entrance. After Aurangzeb, the fort was occupied by Jahandar Shah, Farrukhsiyar and then Muhammad Shah. In 1739, Nadir Shah defeated the later Mughals and plundered Delhi and looted the peacock throne of Red Fort. For brief time till 3rd Panipat battle, the control of Red Fort came under hands of Marathas. After Marathas lost in 3rd Panipat battle by Ahamad Shah Durrani, Shah Alam came to power and occupied Red Fort with support of Marathas and Sikhs. In 1803 after Anglo Maratha war of Delhi, the fort came under the control of British.
Some of the other important structures in the premises of Red Fort are – Delhi Gate, Lahori Gate, Khizrabad Gate, Water Gate, Chhatta Chowk, Mumtaz Mahal, Rang Mahal, Hammam, Baoli, Moti Masjid, Hira Mahal, Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khas.
- Year of construction – 1193 AD
- Built by – Qutub-ud-din Aibak
Qutub Minar is second tallest minar (tallest is Fateh Burj of Mohali, Punjab) in India while it is tallest brick minaret of India and World. This minar is located in Mahrauli, Delhi, India. This minar was constructed by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak, who is also the founder of Delhi Sultanate. Qutub Minar is also one of the UNESCO world heritage sites in India. The structure is made of red sandstones and marbles. The total height of minar is 73 meters (240 feet) which is actually tapering from base diameter of 47 feet and top being 9 feet. Total number of stairs from base to top is 379. Later three more storeys were added by Iltutmish in year 1220 CE. After the top floor was destroyed by thunderbolt in year 1369, two more storeys were built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq.
Some other important historical monuments in the vicinity of Qutub Complex are – Alai Darwaza, Alai Minar, Ala-ud-Din’s Madarsa, Tomb of Imam Zamin, Diamond Pole of Delhi, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque and Iron Pillar of Gupta Empire.
Historical Monuments which are UNESCO World Heritage sites
There are total 35 sites in India which were declared as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Apart from the monuments listed above, the list of world heritage monuments of India are as follows –
Some other Important Historical Places and Monuments of India
Famous Historical Temples, Stupas, Ashrams
Famous Historical Caves
Famous Historical Forts, Palaces, Gardens
Famous Historical Tombs, Shrines, Mosques