UNESCO World Heritage Sites: How many have you been to?

I recently visited a cluster of three temples in the Tanjore area that have been listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. A world heritage site can be a natural or a man-made monument and is held to be of special significance not only to the country that hosts the monument but to all of humanity. Of course a UNESCO listing brings in a lot of prestige and funding for the monument in question and so there’s a lot of debate about what does and doesn’t get on the list. My recent visit to the Great Living Chola Temples (as they are listed) prompted me to do a count of how many UNESCO listed sites there were in India and how many I had been to. The result, I must say, was less than satisfactory.

Out of the 32 listed sites in India I had only been to 11. And I only had 11 because of a visit nearly 20 years ago to Delhi and Agra and several other ancient trips to Mumbai- a bit shameful.  So here is the total list of listed monuments with a remark about whether I’ve visited them or not.

1. Agra Fort (UP)- YES

2. Ajanta Caves (Maharashtra)- NO

3. Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh)- NO

4. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (Gujarat)- NO

5. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (Maharashtra)- YES (To the thousands of commuters who go through this building every day- wake up!)

6. Churches and Convents of Goa (Goa)- NO (but looks like an easy win!)

7. Elephanta Caves (Maharashtra)- YES

8. Ellora Caves (Maharashtra)- NO

9. Fatehpur Sikri (UP)- NO

10. Great Living Chola Temples – YES! (my most recent and the visit that prompted this post) (Tamil Nadu)

The Great Living Chola Temples- Gangai Konda Cholapuram
The Great Living Chola Temples- Gangai Konda Cholapuram

11. Group of Monuments at Hampi- YES (Karnataka)

Stone Chariot at Vittala Complex, Hampi
Stone Chariot at Vittala Complex, Hampi

12. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram- Hell YES! Every tourist that comes home to visit me gets the grand guided tour to M’puram (Tamil Nadu)- Also the closest UNESCO listed site to where I live!

13. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal- NO (but am eyeing this very very seriously!) (Karnataka)

14. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi – YES

15. The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur- YES (thank God!)

Jantar Mantar, Jaipur
Jantar Mantar, Jaipur

16. Kaziranga National Park- NO  (Assam)(and I can’t see how I’m going to get there anytime soon unless there’s a drastic surprise)

17. Keoladeo National Park- NO (Rajasthan) (Same as above)

18. Khajuraho Group of Monuments (MP)- Nope

19. Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (Bihar)- NO but would love to!

20. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (Assam)- No and same as 16

21. Mountain Railways of India – NO (but that’s a part yes because I’ve been on one of the trains listed. Me Shah Rukh Khan and a bajillion others except I didn’t dance on the roof)

22. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks – NO (Uttaranchal) (I believe in dreaming realistically and I might visit this place in 2024

23. Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi- YES (Thank you mum and dad! For having taken us to Delhi when we were kids- my list would have been even more abysmal).

24. Red Fort Complex, Delhi- YES (I think I made my point)

25. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh)- NO- will visit in 2032- if I’m still alive at that point

26 Sundarbans National Park (West Bengal)- NO – hmmm!

27. Sun Temple, Konârak (Orissa)- No- Somehow I have a feeling I might do this sooner rather than later

28. Taj Mahal (UP)- YES ( I think I’ve thanked my parents quite a lot!) worth a revisit with my camera. My visit to Taj Mahal will always be coloured by memories of being extremely sick (motion sickness) and cold (Delhi in February in those days when I knew only the loving warmth of Chennai).

29. Western Ghats- NO (once again a part yes as I’ve visited some clusters- me and some malabar hornbills)

30. Hill Forts of Rajasthan- NO (How did I miss them on my last visit to Rajasthan?)

31. Rani Ka Vav (Gujarat)- NO- huh?

32. Great Himalayan National Park- NO (well I’ve been to Ladakh!)

So there you have it!

Inspired by my pathetic count, I tried to see if I had made any significant headway but it turned out that my score internationally was way worse than my score in India (just proves that the world is a very big place and they don’t give me enough leave or money at work!). Here’s some of the of heritage sites I’ve visited outside India.

1. Grand Canyon National Park, USA

The canyon after a glorious sunrise
The canyon after a glorious sunrise

2. The historic city of Ayutthaya, Thailand

Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya

3. Arles, Roman and Romanesque monuments, France

4. The city of Bath, UK

The Lovely City of Bath
The Lovely City of Bath

5. Pompeii, Herculaneum and the nearby areas

Vesuvius forming the Backdrop of Temple to Jupiter
Vesuvius forming the Backdrop of Temple to Jupiter

So what’s your story? Where have you been and where would you like to go?

I think the UNESCO list is a great guide to plan your future travel- what do you think?

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20 Comments Add yours

  1. Lav says:

    That’s a great idea! I should look up the full list

  2. Alex Hurst says:

    Wow! You’ve had some beautiful travels. I’ve been living in Japan the last 5 years, and I think I’ve been to about 11 of the ones just in the Kansai region. 🙂

    Great post idea!

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Alex- Japan must be amazing! It’s been on my travel plans for years but I think I’m going to be visiting soon (in a few months!). That’s amazing about having visited 11 monuments- I hope you get to see many more- have you seen much outside Japan?

  3. I just looked at the list, and I have to say that I’m surprised by how many sites I’ve visited outside of the US and how few I’ve visited inside the US. You’re right . . . this list us a great tool to use in planning travels. UNESCO sites, here I come!

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Yeah, sometimes you need a list like this as a reference- of course you’ve got to do things you like doing but just to make sure you don’t miss out on something great! I would love to visit more sites in the US. Which is your favourite?

      1. My favorite US site that I’ve visited is Grand Canyon National Park. Photos absolutely do not do it justice. We drove from Sedona to the Grand Canyon on January 1 more than 20 years ago. Along the way, the ice in the trees was absolutely beautiful. Then the snow disappeared as we reached a plateau. And then we made it to the Grand Canyon. So much grander than I ever imagined and the colors are absolutely breathtaking. Hope you get to see it one day!

      2. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

        Wow- We drove from the canyon to Sedona- the landscape is just so inspiring and beautiful and yes you’re right. It definitely is grander than your wildest imagination. I so want to visit again- but I live on the other side of the planet- oh well!

  4. V del Casal says:

    As you said, the list is long and the money short. 😦

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Unfortunately- but we can make some headway already!

  5. Nirmala says:

    I loved this blog , still laughing at some of your comments. I do hope you will be able to see most of them .

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      I hope so too!

  6. Apar says:

    Had to do a project for A listing the UNESCO sites and well my list is quite pathetic. Though planning to do the seven sisters tour in the next year or so… Guess I may be able to strike sites in Assam then :). Delhi I visited last summer so check on those. Chola temples I have visited though some I don’t remember – dad being from Kumbakonam & visits there always included the sites. May be I must do a pathetic post 🙂

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Good luck! I hope you do the tour!No post is pathetic. Even if you haven’t done any you can go to Mahabs and say you’ve visited one. And that is already better than none!

  7. Apar says:

    Been to Mahabs a few times. Want to be there during the dance festival if it still happens that is.

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Yeah no idea about that…

  8. njmagas says:

    I’ve been to Himeji Castle, and most of the sites in Kyoto, Uji, Otsu and Nara, in Japan. I’ve also been to the Changdeokgung Palace in Korea.

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Wow! That sounds awesome- I wish you many more visits in the future!

  9. yadhumooray says:

    We are happy to share that we have covered 23 out of 25 Properties inscribed under Cultural on the World Heritage List in India at one go!!!

    1. Agra Fort (UP)- YES
    2. Ajanta Caves (Maharashtra)- YES – A must visit!
    3. Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh)- YES
    4. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (Gujarat)- YES – An unexplored destination by Travellers
    5. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (Maharashtra)- YES
    6. Churches and Convents of Goa (Goa)- YES
    7. Elephanta Caves (Maharashtra)- YES
    8. Ellora Caves (Maharashtra)- YES – A must visit!
    9. Fatehpur Sikri (UP)- YES
    10. Great Living Chola Temples(TN) – YES!
    11. Group of Monuments at Hampi(Karnataka)- YES
    12. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (TN)- YES
    13. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (Karnataka)- YES
    14. Humayun’s Tomb (Delhi) – NO – I wonder how we missed this at Delhi
    15. The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (Rajasthan)- NO – Planning a visit to Jaipur very soon.
    16. Khajuraho Group of Monuments (MP)- YES
    17. Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (Bihar)- YES
    18. Mountain Railways of India – YES – Have travelled in Nilgris Mountain Railway; The other two Kalka Shimla Railway and Darjeeling Himalayan Railway are in the wishlist.
    19. Qutb Minar and its Monuments (Delhi)- YES
    20. Red Fort Complex (Delhi)- YES
    21. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh)- YES – A Hidden Gem
    22. Sun Temple, Konârak (Orissa)- YES
    23. Taj Mahal (UP)- YES
    24. Hill Forts of Rajasthan (Rajasthan)- YES
    25. Rani Ka Vav (Gujarat)- YES

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Wow! What an impressive list! I am amazed. How did you manage this? And I’m glad that you are planning to visit Jaipur very soon- Jantar Mantar is very inspiring.

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