The East and North East parts of India are well known for their distinct culture and traditions. Brimming with history, nature and tourist-friendly destinations, the states in these parts are blessed with a rich cultural heritage that makes them ideal for nature lovers, trekkers, wildlife enthusiasts and anyone interested in learning more about the region. Let’s explore the UNESCO Heritage Sites, present in this part of the country.
1.Nalanda Mahavihara: Situated in Bihar, this site comprises of the archaeological remains of a monastic and scholastic institution built in the Kingdom of Magadh. The educational institute was in use from the 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE and showcases stupas, shrines and viharas in stucco, stone and metal. Nalanda is the oldest university of global fame in India and imparted knowledge for over 800 years. Even in those times, people traveled from different parts of the world to attend this institution, as is seen from mentions in the writings of various Chinese travelers in the 7th century.
2.Mahabodhi Temple Complex, Bodh Gaya: One of the holiest pilgrimage sites for Buddhists, this place marks the spot where Lord Gautam Buddha received enlightenment. The first temple of this complex was built by Emperor Ashok in the 3rd century BCE and the temples present today were built during the 5th or 6th century CE. It is one of the oldest brick temples in India. Stretching up to about 55 metres in height, its pyramidal shikhara (tower) has several layers of alcoves, arch motifs and fine engravings.
3.Sun Temple, Konark: Situated on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, the temple at Konark is a majestic representation of the Sun God’s chariot. The 24 wheels of the chariot are decorated with symbolic designs and the magnificent carved relief is led by a team of six horses that are uniquely detailed and still inspire awe. Built in the 13th century, it is one of India’s most famous temples.
4.Kaziranga National Park: Situated in Assam, this protected forest is inhabited by the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinos, in addition to tigers, elephants, panthers, bears, wild water buffaloes, and thousands of birds. Covering an area of 42,996 hectares, it is regarded as one of the finest wildlife reserves in the world.
5.Manas Wildlife Sanctuary: A sanctuary at the foothills of the Himalayas, this sylvan ecosystem can be found in Assam. Spanning the Manas river – from which it gets its name – the sanctuary is home to many endangered species like the tiger, pygmy hog, Indian rhinoceros, Indian elephant, golden langur and wild water buffalo. It is also abundant in flora and is in fact, one of the richest biodiversity areas in the world.
6.Sundarbans National Park: The Sundarbans covers an area of 10,000 sq.km and contains the world’s largest area of mangrove forests formed by the confluence of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra river. Many rare or endangered species including tigers, aquatic mammals, birds and reptiles live in the park.
7.Khangchendzonga National Park: Located in the bosom of the Himalayan Range in Sikkim, the Khangchendzonga National Park comprises of a unique diversity of valleys, lakes, glaciers and magnificent mountains, including the world’s third highest peak, Mount Khangchendzonga.