India is a land of rich ancient civilisation. Through various artefacts, archaeological findings and of course books, we have studied a great deal about the nature of mankind that existed in the ancient times. History loudly speaks that India was one of the most progressive civilisations in the ancient time. India was known for its architectural miracles including bridges, temples and fortified cities. Even today, ancient forts built during the 15th and 16th centuries stand strongly on the Indian soil. There is a strong archaeological proof that practices like rock cutting; carving, painting and mining were performed successfully in the ancient India.
Monuments like Iron Pillar in Mehrauli, Ajanta Caves, Khajuraho Temple and Qutab Minar speak of the magnificence of Indian architecture. In the recent times, travellers visiting to India have shown a keen interest towards Indian History and ancient civilisation.
It is a known fact that the study of anthropological origins of a country is the most tested method to understand its history and civilisation. However, the list of anthropological sites in India is so long that it can easily confuse a traveller. For all you travellers out there who are planning to visit India, here is a to-the-point account of five important anthropological sites that you should not miss on your trip to India.
Ajanta Caves are 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which are situated on the outskirts of Aurangabad city. Built between the 2nd century B.C and 480 CE, Ajanta Caves are home to artistic figures of Buddha and have been defined as the living masterpieces of Buddhist religious art.
In the ancient times, these caves were assigned to Buddhist Monks for their living, education and worship. Paintings and sculptures included in the caves have been described as ‘the finest surviving examples of Indian Art’ by the Archaeological Survey of India. Since 1983, Ajanta Caves have been declared as ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’ and hold a crucial value in Indian history.
Nalanda University, Nalanda is popularly characterized as the most ancient university in the history of Indian civilisation. Nalanda’s history began as an important trade centre because of its close proximity to Magadha, the ancient capital city. It is believed that the entry of Gautama Buddha and Mahavira in Nalanda led to its development into a spiritual and learning centre.
This ancient hub of learning attracted students and scholars from faraway places like Tibet, China, Korea and Central Asia. After some revival efforts from the Government of India, Nalanda was deemed to be a university in 2006. Historians visit this place to understand the ancient Indian Education System.
Dholavira is the living example of the most ancient and grandest civilisation of Indian culture i.e Harappan/ Indus Valley Civilisation. The area of full site is spanned across 250 acres in the Khadir belt in the Great Rann of Kutch. This site was discovered by J.P Joshi in the 1960s and has been under excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India since 1990.
Dholavira is a very fine example of the ancient Indian architectural brilliance. This site contains one of the world’s oldest water harvesting system. Dholavira takes you back in time through the remains of ancient water reservoirs, fossilized trees and stones present there. It is a must visit site for history buffs.
4. Konark Sun Temple
Photo by Achilli Family, CC BY 2.0
Konark Sun Temple is often regarded as one of the most magnificent examples of architecture in the state of Odisha. The temple captures your imagination with its brilliantly carved rock pillars and wheels. Dedicated to the sun-god or ‘Surya Deva’, this temple is a symbol of mathematical efficiency of our ancient scholars.
Sun Temple is also known for its erotic carvings on the roofs and walls. It is believed that these carvings depict the everyday life of men and women of the ancient age. One can also find sculptured horses, warriors and other animals in the form of carvings on the walls.
The temple has three images of the Sun God which are so placed as to receive the rays of the sun at dawn, noon and sunset. The audience hall, dining hall and dancing hall of the temple are among the surviving structures of the temple which are present today. Konark Sun Temple is a beautiful amalgam of science, artistry and culture that persisted in ancient India.
Location: Dholka, Ahmedabad
Lothal is known as one of the oldest planned cities in the sub-continent. Also termed as the oldest port town of India, Lothal was a trading point for the export of precious gems and beads to Africa and West Asia. This site is a rare example of ancient town planning. The structures of marketplace, bathrooms and toilets excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India here have reassured the fact that Lothal was a planned township.
Anthropological sites in India have a tremendous potential to take you back in the ancient era. Through their carvings, paintings and rock cuttings, the above mentioned sites give you a first-hand account of the life that existed in ancient India.
What are you waiting for now? Pack your bags and go explore the rich civilisation that India was.
Rohit is a travel blogger at Trans India Travels. He has an intense love for history and can be regularly spotted at various ancient sites. He believes that travelling is an important means of intellectual growth and everyone should pursue this activity with an open heart.