With the Independence Day right around the corner and the tricolour flying high, we have set out an exploration trip to discover some magnificent monuments around the country. Belonging to different eras of India’s rich past and speaking volumes about its heritage, these six structures are remarkable examples of ingenuity and creativity.
Oh, and by the way, Independence Day 2019 is bringing along a weekend — since 15th August this year is on a Thursday, you can take offs on Friday and you have four days to explore any destination on your mind.
Chola Temples by Chola rulers, Tamil Nadu
Built by kings of the Chola Empire, the site of Great Living Chola Temples was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987. The site includes three great major temples: the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram, and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. The architecture, sculptures, paintings and bronze casting at each of the temples are truly stunning and have stood the test of the time for more than 1,000 years.
Best time to visit: March to October
Most Instagrammable Feature: Architecture and engravings of the temples
Route: Thanjavur – Kumbakonam Main Rd – Papanasam – Airavateswarar Temple
Sanchi Stupa by Mauryans, Madhya Pradesh
The historical importance of Sanchi is quite impressive. It was in the third century B.C. that Ashoka, the Mauryan emperor, repented for his part in the Kalinga war and re branded himself a Buddhist and promoter of peace. Sanchi vanished from public consciousness from the 14th century until 1818, when it was rediscovered by General Taylor. An important Buddhist pilgrimage centre, the quiet town of Sanchi hums peacefully and offers a perfect getaway for a long weekend.
In addition, Ashoka’s son Mahendra is said to have visited his mother at the Sanchi monastery before he left to preach Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and it is from here that it spread to other south-east Asian countries. Sanchi holds importance for more than religious reasons: it was the Sanchi inscriptions that enabled James Princep to unlock the ancient Brahmi script.
Best time to visit: November to April
Most Instagrammable Spot: The Sanchi Stupa
Route: Bhopal – Balampur – Chhola- Sanchi Stupa
Qutub Minar by the Mamluks, Delhi
Standing tall in its red and buff sandstone glory, the Qutub Minar symbolises the biggest power shift in the history of Delhi. In the 12th century, Mohammad Ghori ousted the Rajputs and his successor, Qutub-ud-din Aibak, thereby laying the foundation of the Delhi Sultanate. This victory reshaped the culture and architecture of this city, and this skyscraper was built to commemorate the same.
Whether it was used as a watchtower, or by the muezzin to summon the faithful to the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque next-door, this is one of the most popular monuments of the city, receiving close to 3 million visitors every year.
Best time to visit: August to April
Most Instagrammable Feature: A unique POV of the monument
Route: Connaught Place – Lodhi Road – Hauz Khaz – Qutub Minar
Taj Mahal by the Mughals, Agra
Every year, tourists numbering more than twice the population of Agra pass through the gates of Taj Mahal to catch a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of what is widely considered the most beautiful building in the world. Very few leave disappointed.
Built by Shah Jahan as a memorial to his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the whole complex was completed by 1653, although the construction began in 1631. A few years after the monument was completed, Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb and imprisoned in Agra Fort, where for the rest of his days, he could only gaze out at his creation through a window. Following his death in 1666, Shah Jahan was buried here alongside his wife.
A designated World Heritage Site in 1983, it looks as immaculate today as when it was first constructed though it underwent a huge restoration project in the early 20th century.
Best time to visit: October to December, March to April
Most Instagrammable Shot: Morning shot of the monument
Route: Delhi – Taj Express Highway – Agra – Taj Mahal
Kumbhalgarh Fort by the Rajputs, Rajasthan
According to local guides, the Kumbhalgarh Fort is the second longest, continuous wall in the world after the Great Wall of China. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has within its boundaries, thousands of ancient temples, palaces and even a wildlife park with endangered animals. In spite, of these superlatives, it takes only a moment to recognise the beauty and magnificence of this fort that is also the birthplace of the legendary warrior Maharana Pratap, a popular figure in Rajasthani folklore.
Located 80 km north of Udaipur, on the western section of the Aravalli range, it was constructed in the 15th century by Rana Kumbha, who ruled Mewar during this period. He built 32 forts during his lifetime, although this one remains not just the most popular but also undefeated as no outside army was able to lay claim to it. It only fell once, and that too due to the shortage of drinking water when the combined forces of Mughal Emperor Akbar, Raja Man Singh of Amber, Raja Udai Singh of Marwar, and the Mirzas in Gujarat attacked the fort. It is believed that Akbar later returned the fort to its rulers.
Best time to visit: October to February
Most Instagrammable Spot: Trek up to the top for a full shot of the fort
Route: Delhi – Neemrana – Jaipur – Ajmer – Bewar – Kumbhalgarh Fort
Find out more about Kumbhalgarh here.
Charminar by Qutub Shahi rulers, Hyderabad
For 423 years, the Charminar has stood tall, although now its beauty is marred by the fumes of vehicles that clog the streets around the landmark. It was built by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah to mark the founding of the city.
The gargantuan four-column, 56m-high structure has four arches facing the cardinal points, with minarets atop each column (hence the name Charminar, ‘four minarets’). Located in the heart of the main bazaar of Hyderabad, this monument is surrounded by a labyrinth of lanes filled with shops, stalls and shoppers. While the first floor provides a view of the area, the second floor is home to the oldest mosque in the state and the upper floors remain closed to the public. The monument is illuminated from 7pm to 9pm.
Best time to visit: October to February
Most Instagrammable Spot: An illuminated view of the fort
Route: Mysore – Hosur – Tumakuru – Anantpur – Kurnool – Charminar
Special mention: Port Blair, Andaman Islands
The Cellular Jail or Kala Paani as it was once known, in Port Blair, Andaman Islands, is not the most ideal pick when visiting the island. But considering its monumental relevance to the Indian freedom struggle, this place truly merits your time. Although the jail was completed only in 1906, the British started sending mutineers and political prisoners to the Andamans immediately after the uprising of 1857. It is said that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose unfurled the tricolour to proclaim independence here in 1943, after the Japanese took over the islands. Make sure you stay for the Sound and Light show here as it is particularly popular.
If this list is giving you serious patriotic and wanderlust vibes, then we don’t blame you. So don’t let your long weekends go to waste and plan your holidays to the locations mentioned above, without any further ado. Plus with 50+ resorts across 17 states, V Resorts has you sorted for a truly magical stay.