Seven Wonders Of India: Must See Architectural Masterpieces In India
Amid prevailing 2nd wave of Covid-19, thoughts of a family vacation at destinations of choice have become a distant dream. Offbeat brings a virtual tour to the seven wonders of India that are must – see architectural masterpieces in India.
1. Gomateshwara Temple
The Gomateshwara temple is situated in Shravanabelagola town at an approximate distance of 158 kms from Bengaluru and 83 kms from Mysuru. The town is renowned as a city of ponds and temples. It is the most acclaimed and propitious Jain pilgrimage in South India. Shravanabelagola is a heritage site and one of the major tourist attractions in Karnataka.
The main attraction of Gomateshwara temple is a 57 feet tall monolithic statue of Gomateshwara also known as Bahubali. Bahubali statue is World’s tallest monolithic statue carved out from a single block of granite. Situated over the Vindhyagiri hill, the statue can be seen from a distance of almost 30 kms. It was built by the commander and minister Chavundaraya of Ganga dynasty around 983 A.D.
The Gomateshwara temple was voted one of the seven wonders of India in 2007.
Brief History & Significance
According to Jain literature, Bahubali was the second son of the first Tirthankara of Jains, Rishabdeva also known as Adinath. When he left the kingdom, there was a fight between his two sons – Bharatha and Bahubali. Bahubali defeated his brother in the combat but was saddened by the rivalry between him and his brother. He decided to gave up the throne to Bharatha and went for attaining Kevala Jnana, the absolute knowledge.
The Jain pilgrims assemble every twelve years for a ‘Mahamastakabhisheka festival’ at the Shravanabelagola hills. The devotees sprinkle the Gomateshwara statue with water from a high platform. Then the statue is bathed with tons of milk, ghee, sugarcane juice and the saffron flower paste. The next Mahamastakabhisheka will be held in 2030.
2. Khajuraho Group of Monuments
A UNESCO world heritage site and one of the seven wonders of India, Khajuraho group of monuments is situated in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. As per historical records, Khajuraho temple site had 85 Hindu and Jain temples by the 12h century. Around 25 temples only have survived through to the present day spread over six square kms.
Most Khajuraho temples were constructed between 885 AD and 1050 AD by the Chandela dynasty. The temples are famous for their Nagara style architectural marvel and the erotic sculptures. Of the surviving temples, the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is ornated with a plethora of sculptures with intricate details, symbolism and expressiveness of ancient Indian art. The Brahma temple, Chitragupta temple, Chaunsat Yogini and Devi Jagdamba temple are other prominent temples in the region.
Brief History & Architecture
The Khajuraho group of Monuments dates back to the Chandela dynasty who ruled over 10th & 11th century. It demonstrates the pinnacle of temple architectural development in northern India.
Each temple is elevated from its hinterland by a highly decorative terraced platform known as Jagati. The body called Jangha stands over it whose sanctum is topped by a tower or Shikhara. The style is unique to Nagara architecture where the uprightness of the main tip atop the sanctum is highlighted by a series of tiny spikes flanking it, each signifying Mount Kailasa, the abode of the Gods.
The temples were built together between 885 AD and 1050 AD dedicated to two religions – Hinduism and Jainism. It signifies the tradition of acceptance, respect and religious harmony the two religions shared in the Chandela dynasty.
3. Ajanta & Ellora Caves
Another world heritage site declared by UNESCO in 1983, Ajanta & Ellora caves are situated in the district of Aurangabad, Maharashtra. These are a distinct group of rock-out caves situated approximately 100 kms from each other depicting rich and exclusive architecture, cave paintings and scriptures of earliest Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism culture. While Ajanta caves are nestled in a panoramic gorge in the form of a gigantic horseshoe, the Ellora caves are excavated out of the vertical face of an escarpment in a linear arrangement.
The Ajanta and Ellora caves are one of the seven wonders of India. Its paintings and sculptures are the masterpieces of Buddhist religious art. It has a gigantic influence on the development of art in India. With Ajanta & Ellora sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism & Jainism, it signifies the inherent tolerance that was the main characteristic of ancient India.
Brief History & Architecture
The Ajanta caves have around 300 rock-cut cave monuments dating back to almost 2nd century BC. The caves primarily depict murals, sculptures and paintings illustrating previous lives of Buddha known as bodhisattvas. The caves consist of Chaitya Halls devoted to Lord Buddha and Viharas that are used by monks for meditation and study the teachings of Buddha. Calm and serene sculptures of Buddha complete the carvings created using only chisels and hammers by the monks.
Ellora caves encompasses around 34 caves that enlist not only Buddhist but also Hindu and Jain temples along with the Viharas. These caves are much younger than the Ajanta caves created during 5th-7th centuries AD. The most imposing excavation is the Cave 16or the famous & magnificent Kailasha Temple also known as Verul in ancient times. It is the world’s largest monolithic structure in the world.
4. Konark Sun Temple
Konark Sun Temple is a 13th century temple at Konark situated on the eastern coastal line about 35 kms north-east of Puri. It is ascribed to king Narsimhadeva – I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple was declared UNESCO world heritage site in the year 1984 and is one of the seven wonders of India.
Dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya, the temple complex symbolizes a large chariot with immense wheels and horses all carved from a stone. Much of the temple is now in ruins with the theories of natural damage to deliberate destruction during Muslim invasions between 15th – 17th centuries told by the local guides to the visitors. The structures that survived are famous for their intricate artwork, iconography and themes including the erotic Kama and Mithuna scenes. The pilgrimage throng the place every year around the month of February for the famous Chandrabhag Mela.
Brief History & Architecture
The Konark Sun Temple was built in in 1250 AD during the reign of the Eastern Ganga King Narsimhadeva – I from the stone in form of a giant ornamented chariot dedicated to the sun god, Surya. The temple has 24 large stone wheels carved in nearly 12 feet diameter pulled by a pair of seven horses. The architecture also symbolizes twelve months of Hindu calendar with twelve pairs of wheels depicting two cycles of Shukla & Krishna paksha each.
The temple follows the traditional Kalinga architectural design built from the Khondalite rocks. It is oriented towards the east in such a way that the first ray of the sunlight strikes the main entrance of the temple. The wheels also represent the sundials, which can be used to calculate the time accurately to a minute.
5. Gol Gumbaz
Gol Gumbaz is the world’s second largest tomb situated in the northern city of Vjayapura, formerly known as Bijapur in Karnataka. The name is derived from ‘Gola Gumatta’ that translates to ‘circular dome’. It is the tomb of Muhammed Adil Shah who immediately started the construction after becoming the king in 1626.
Gol Gumbaz is one of the seven wonders of India and is the second largest dome ever built, next in size only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy.
Brief History & Architecture
Gol Gumbaz is an architectural marvel with a mesmerizing blend of Islamic influences with the Dravidian architecture constructed during the Adil Shahi dynasty. Its chamber measures 18,000 sq ft and amazes the visitors who can hear the smallest of whispers in the whispering gallery using the acoustic of the space.
The main structure is shaped in form of a cube of 48 m (156 ft), overlaid by a roof of 44 m (144 ft) in external diameter. Any sound made here echoes at least seven times or more which is an exceptional display of acoustic in the design. Another remarkable aspect of Gol Gumbaz is that there are no towers or pillars that support the central dome, which is held by eight intersecting arches from inside.
6. Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple
Situated in Tamil Nadu, Madurai is one of the most ancient south Indian cities and is over 2500 years old. It is known as the temple city with several popular temples including the Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareshwarar temple. Meenakshi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi or Parvati and God Sundareshwara or Shiva.
The temple is one of the seven wonders of India. It has a great historical and mythological significance. It is believed that Shiva in his Sundareshwara avatar married Goddess Parvati in her Meenakshi form at the site where the Meenakshi temple is situated.
Millions of pilgrims visit the auspicious temple during a ten-days annual Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival to celebrate the wedding ceremony of their deities during the Chaitra month as per the Hindu calendar.
Brief History and Significance
The Meenakshi temple was built by King Kulasekara Pandya during 1190 – 1216 AD but the present-day structure is largely attributed to the rebuilding efforts of Vijayanagara empire and the expansion work by the Nayak dynasty in the 16th & 17th centuries.
The Meenakshi temple is a classic example of Dravidian architecture that includes covered porticos on temples, tall entry gateways on two or more sides, multi-pillared halls and a water reservoir to facilitate ritual bathing.
The temple has a total of 14 towering gateways also known as gopurams, each of them being multistoried structure displaying thousands of mythological stories and sculptures. The main structure comprises of several pillared halls called Mandapam. There are 985 pillars richly carved depicting scenes from the wedding of Meenakshi and Sundareshwara.
7. Statue of Unity
The most inexhaustible creation in recent times, Statue of Unity is situated on the bank of river Narmada facing the Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadiya, Gujarat. It is a colossal statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of independent India. Patel holds highest distinction in Indian politics after Mahatma Gandhi for his single-handed effort in uniting 562 princely states to form the single union of India.
The project was announced in 2010 and the construction began in 2013 by the Government of Gujarat. The status was completed in record time. The iconic statue holds the distinction of being the ‘World’s Tallest Statue’ and is almost four times (excluding the base) the size of the famous Statue of Liberty. Standing tall at 182 meters, the Statue of Unity is 54 meters higher than the previous record holder, The Spring Temple Buddha in China.
Brief History & Significance
The project was announced in 2010 by the Government of Gujarat and the construction began in 2013. It has been designed by Indian sculptor Ram V. Sutar. The statue was made open to the general public on the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel. The Statue can withstand a wind speed of up to 180 km/hour and earthquakes measuring 6.5 on Richter scale.
The Statue of Unity is first of its kind in a Public-Private Partnership model and it is said that a total of 135 metric tonnes of scrap iron was gathered from the farmers who donated their scrap farming instruments.
The Gujarat government along with the central government have made every effort to develop the entire neighborhood as a world class tourist center.
Hope you liked the incredible list of seven wonders of India.
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