Historical places in India are like magic. They make you travel back in time and let you stand in a place where hundreds of years ago people lived. It feels like you get to be a part of your ancestor’s lives when you enter a historical monument. The fascinating historical sites in India, breathe the stories of the past, their technology, belief, religious orientation, culture, bravery and wit.
The historical places communicate the experience of the past, and it is a significant way to learn and move forward in life. What’s better than planning a trip to the wonderful historical places in India? We have come up with a list of historical places in India lesser known to the travellers out there. If you are a history buff or love travelling through less trodden paths, pick a place and celebrate India’s rich heritage by experiencing them.
Lesser known Historical places in India
- Cellular Jail, Andaman Islands
- Osian, Rajasthan
- Eran Monument, Madhya Pradesh
- Unakoti, Tripura
- Maluti Temples, Jharkhand
- Vikramshila University, Bihar
- Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan
- Rabdentse, Sikkim
- Leh Palace, Jammu and Kashmir
- Elgandal Fort, Telangana
1. Cellular jail, Port Blair, Andaman islands
Cellular jail is a dark historical monument from the British era in India. Constructed by the British over a span of 10 years, it was once a place for jailing political prisoners and now converted into a national memorial. The memorial stands for the struggle and sacrifice of Indian freedom fighters during the beginning of the 20th century. The Cellular Jail originally has seven straight wings connected to a central tower resembling a bicycle tyre.
The prison had cruel punishments and served as British’s one place to keep all the political leaders in lifetime exile. Though only three wings are intact now, the prison has a well-kept garden and many galleries like Netaji Gallery and Exhibition Gallery which has the photographs of Indian freedom fighters.
- Entry fee: Rs. 30, and Rs.50 extra for light and sound shows about the Indian freedom struggle.
- Hours: 9am to 1pm, 2pm to 5pm
- Why visit: A dark reminiscence of the British period in India, the scenic beauty of the place.
- How to reach: Port Blair has a well-connected airport and sea transport.
2. Osian, Rajasthan
Shadowed by Jodhpur attractions and the dunes of Thar, Osian is an ancient village with a rich set of temples from the 8th and 12th century. There are 12 temples from 8th century and 6 temples from 12th century that have stood the test of time. The Osain village was a famous pilgrimage site and trading centre for many centuries. The temples belong to Hindu and Jain religions and are revered as a holy sight till day. The temples are famous for their architecture; no one temple will resemble each other in the village.
The walls and towers of the temple have many intricate carvings and mouldings. The temples are famous for its ornately designed doorways, and the doorway of Sun temple is considered to be the best in India. Jain Mahavira temple and Sachiya Mata temple (Sun temple) are the most famous among the temples and display impressive artworks. Osian temple is one of the best historical places in India one cannot miss.
- Note: These are all active places of worship, so dress codes are strictly followed
- Hours: 6 am to 7:15 pm
- Why visit: Ornate temples of 8th and 12th century
- How to reach: The place is 65 km from Jodhpur, easily accessible by taxis or buses
3. Eran Monument, Madhya Pradesh
The monument is a significant historical place in the heart of modern-day India. Eran is one of the top historical places in India, which did not receive enough attention. It is an ancient city which was discovered by the British and then excavation efforts led to the discovery of many antiquities starting from BCE 2000 to the 17th century. The city has been continuously inhabited by people of different historical eras, evident from the various coins and ancient structures. The site has a statue of Varaha, the incarnation of God Vishnu, with intricate carvings of sages and women on it.
The complex has many ruins of temples, like a statue of Vishnu, a pillar with Garuda statue above it, ornately carved set of four pillars and many small statues. These were part of temples in the ancient time and only a few ruins are excavated and preserved. Eran monument is a small village present in the banks of River Bina. The farms around Eran monument has many antiquities distributed all over the place, including Sati pillars. Historians believe that Eran was a coin minting place and till now heavy rains bring up undiscovered ancient coins.
- Why visit: A rich historical city found mentioned many inscriptions and coins of the ancient era
- How to reach: Present in Sagar district, which is well connected to the capital city Bhopal
4. Unakoti, Tripura
Unakoti is one of the best Indian historical places, where ancient giant bas relief sculptures are found. The hilly region is home to many tribes and Unakoti is a testament to the style of Tribal sculptures. Unakoti’s name has a story from Hindu mythology. The story goes like this, a devotee, Kalu Kumhar, was asked to carve 1 crore images of Lord Shiva overnight in order to accompany Shiva and Parvati entourage from Tripura. The devotee managed to only 1 less than a crore and was left back, thus the name Unakoti( literally translates to one less than a crore).
Though the place doesn’t have those many sculptures, one can find large statues of deities carved out of natural hills. In the present day, one can find the sculptures among dense forest and flowing river, making it a sight to behold. The notable sculptures are a 33ft high bust of Lord Shiva accompanied by Goddess Durga and Ganga and that of Lord Ganesha, Vishnu, Narashimha, Hanuman and Nandi. Unakoti has had the influence of cults of Lord Shiva and many yogis, and the sculptures belong to 6th to 12th century.
Till today the origin, story and logistics behind the sculptures seem to be a mystery for archaeologists. You can enjoy the rawness of the tribal arts and the scenic beauty of Tripura on your trip to one of the best historical places in India.
- Why visit: Unique giant bas reliefs, picturesque surroundings of Tripura
- How to reach: Take taxis from Agartala, the state’s capital. Or take the bi-weekly flights from Agartala to Kailashawar town and take a taxi from there.
5. Maluti temples, Jharkhand
The temples are a set of 72 terracotta temples present in the forests of Dumka, Jharkhand. Maluti dynasty ruled the region from 17th to 19th century and has constructed around 108 terracotta temples. The temples stay as the only testament to the small rulers of Baj Basanta family and is one of the notable historical sites in India. Due to the decline in their wealth, only 72 temples have survived but remains in a worn out stage.
Baj Basanta royal family used the terracotta clay present in the many rivers of the region to construct the temples completely. There are terracotta relics from Hindu epics and the daily lives of people decorating the temples. The famous temple among them is the royal family’s chief deity Goddess Mauliksha temple. The rest of the temples houses Kali, Shiva and Vishnu, the Hindu deities.
- Why visit: Delightful line of architecturally rich terracotta temples
- How to reach: Rampurhat is the nearest railway station, from there take buses or autos to the site which is around 16kms from there.
6. Vikramshila University, Bihar
Vikramshila University is one of the two famous Buddhist universities of the 8th century, that has produced many eminent scholars of that time. The ruins of the university are now found near Antichak in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar. There is a museum maintained by ASI, which preserves the artefacts and ruins found in the site. There are metal certificates from the university, and many wonders of the ancient learning experience. So first visit the museum and then explore the site for better understanding.
Vikramshila Mahavihara was founded by Dharmapala, the ruler of the Pala dynasty of Bengal, and stayed active for 400 years. At the end of the 13th century, Mughal invasions led to the decline of the university. A large complex with a Hindu temple and Buddhist monastery, the university existed in an area of 100 acres. There is a large stupa in the monastery and many terracotta sculptures adorning the walls of many structures. This is one of the important historical places in India, which is not much explored like its counterpart Nalanda.
- Entry fee: Rs. 20
- Hours: 6 am to 6 pm
- Why visit: Explore the fascinating historical university from 8th century
- How to reach: Patna is the nearest airport, Bhagalpur is the nearest railhead, and the district of Bhagalpur is well connected to major cities by road.
7. Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan
Kumbhalgarh Fort is one of the hill forts listed under the Hill Forts of Rajasthan UNESCO world heritage site. The Fort built in 15th century is the second largest wall in the world after the Great Wall of China. One of the fascinating historical places in India, this Fort is overshadowed by other attractions in Rajasthan. The Mewar Fortress has a small town inside covered with 38km length walls built over a part of Aravalli hill range.
The Fort has around 360 Hindu and Jain temples in total, inside its complex along with the famous Badshahi Bavdi step tank and Lakhola Tank. These tanks are architectural marvels in the tough hilly terrain. The Fort was constructed strategically to prevent enemies from entering the territory, as the Mughal rulers were threatening the Mewar empire. The Fort is the birthplace of famous rulers like Rana Pratap and was occupied by Royal family till 19th century. Visit during winters, as the temperature is mild, it will take a day to explore the magnificent structure.
- Entry fee: Rs. 10
- Hours: 9 am to 6 pm
- Why visit: The futuristic design and execution of the Fort will leave you in awe of the medieval rulers
- How to reach: Falna Railway Station is the nearest railhead and you can take taxis from there to the Fort.
8. Rabdentse, Sikkim
The capital of the former kingdom of Sikkim, Rabdentse is a place with rich historical traces. Rabdentse remained as a flourishing hill town from 1670 to 1814, after which it was invaded and destroyed by Gorkhas. Now, only the ruins of the royal palace and religious complex is found in the site.
The southern part of the ruins is the religious complex, it has three chortens where the royals pray and offer incense sticks to the deities. Since the place is present on a hilltop amidst forests, it has stunning views of the valleys and mountains of the region. The place is also a paradise for bird watchers, as the environment houses many beautiful birds.
- Hours: 10 am to 5 pm
- Why visit: For its old world charm, significant stone ruins, Sikkim’s unbeatable scenery
- How to reach: the Nearest airport is Siliguri and nearest railhead is Jalpaiguri, take buses or taxis from there to Pelling. Rabdentse is located at 9km from Pelling, you have to travel to the bottom of the hill and then trek up to the ruins.
9. Leh Palace, Jammu and Kashmir
Leh Palace in the Ladakh Himalayan region is a Tibetian style royal palace built for the rulers of Namgyal dynasty. The palace was built from the 16th to the 17th century and has 9 storeys resembling the Potala Palace of Tibet. Leh Palace is one of the medieval Indian historical places, that is now maintained by Archeological Survey of India. From inside the palace, you can have a panoramic view of the entire town of Leh and the Himalayan mountains.
Due to many wars fought over the mid 19th century, the palace got several hits and is in bad shape now. The bigger rooms and corridors now serve as galleries displaying several artefacts. There are grand mural paintings and carvings in the walls of the palace, showcasing the grandeur of the past. The mystical charm of the palace is elevated during full moon nights of Summer, making it a must visit historical places in India.
- Entry fee: Rs. 15
- Hours: 7 am to 4 pm
- Why visit: The towering 9 storey palace among the snow-clad mountains is a mesmerizing sight, 450-year-old artefacts are preserved in a museum inside
- How to reach: Leh has a domestic airport connected to Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar. Leh can also be easily reached by buses and taxis from Srinagar.
10. Elgandal Fort, Telangana
Elgandal Fort is an ancient hill fort built by the rulers of Kakatiya Dynasty. The Fort was then invaded and occupied by Qutb Shahi dynasty. Hence, there are both temples and mosques, with Hindu and Mughal architecture designs in the Fort. Then, there are many series of doorways, with beautiful architecture, which is also a strategy to confuse invaders.
Though the doors are no more, they remain as many arches in the Fort. There’s a prayer hall on the top of the Fort and minarets surrounding the hall. There are also remains of Canyons, elephant sheds, tanks and temples in and around the Fort. Visiting Elgandal Fort, one of the best historical places in India, is great trip back in history.
- Hours: 10 am to 7:45 pm
- Why visit: A rich heritage place where the Mughals and Nizams of Hyderabad lived
- How to reach: The Fort is present 10km from Karimnagar on kamareddy road and can be reached by road easily. Karimnagar is 180km from Hyderabad.
Further Read: Top 5 Places to Visit in Hyderabad in 2 Days
As the saying goes, ‘Journey matters more than the destination’, the journey to these hidden wonders are very eventful with scenery and culture of India filling you. Instead of getting overwhelmed in a crowded destination, pick out from our list of historical places in India and have an awesome trip back in time. You can end up travelling budget friendly, and have rich experience.