At the start of this year, I took upon myself a task, a list, a plan. India is blessed with 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which individually adds up to a big 50, dotting over various states in all directions. It was an impressive list to try and travel my way through. Not just educating and thought-provoking at times, it has made me see and learn about my nation, its culture, heritage, and history in a different light, and damn aren’t I impressed!! From temples to churches, treks and safaris in national parks, old-age train rides to forts and monuments to capture, it is some way to travel. I was intrigued and excited from the get go. They would take me to places in the country that I would otherwise skip which acted as a buffer and a further carrot to execute this plan. I’ve travels on trains, planes, busses, boats, autos, bikes, cars, carts, and horses, slept in start-rated hotels to tents, bunkbeds, and even railway stations, eaten well and wild, and experienced things which weren’t planned and accounted for. I’ll write about the learnings from these travels later. For now, I wish to furbish my preferential rating of these sites. The scale is simple – what was I most impressed with and, if I were to visit them again in what order would I wish to. Sometimes it may be difficult to justify how this ranking is charted and why one entry is placed at a specific spot, given the diversity of the list, thus I say, it is a mere attempt.

  1. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, Karnataka
  2. Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh
  3. Airavateswara – Great Living Chola Temple, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
  4. Kanchenjunga National Park, Sikkim
  5. Khajuraho Group of Monuments, Madhya Pradesh
  6. Qutub Minar and its Monuments, Delhi
  7. Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha
  8. Rani Ka Vav, Patan, Gujrat
  9. Humanyun’s Tomb, Delhi
  10. Ellora Caves, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
  11. Agra Fort, Uttar Pradesh
  12. Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh
  13. Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya, Bihar
  14. Chittorgarh Fort, Rajasthan
  15. Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
  16. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh
  17. Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
  18. Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan
  19. Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
  20. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
  21. Gangaikonda – Great Living Chola Temple, Kumbhakonam, Tamil Nadu
  22. Brihadeeshwara – Great Living Chola Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
  23. Amber Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan
  24. Group of Monuments at Hampi, Karnataka
  25. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Gujrat
  26. Manas Wild Life Sanctuary, Assam
  27. Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan
  28. Kaziranga Wild Life Sanctuary, Assam
  29. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – Mountain Railway of India
  30. Kalka Shimla Railway – Mountain Railway of India
  31. Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal
  32. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  33. Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan
  34. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks, Uttarakhand
  35. Red Fort, Delhi
  36. Nilgiri Mountain Railway – Mountain Railway of India, Ooty, Tamil Nadu
  37. Basílica do Bom Jesus – Churches and Convents of Goa
  38. Church of Saint Catejan – Churches and Convents of Goa
  39. Se Cathedral – Churches and Convents of Goa
  40. Church and Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi Churches and Convents of Goa
  41. Capitol Complex of Chandigarh, Punjab
  42. Archeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara, Bihar
  43. Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, Rajasthan
  44. Western Ghats, India
  45. Elephanta Caves, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  46. Ranthambore Fort, Rajasthan
  47. Gagron Fort, Rajasthan
  48. Church of St Francis – Churches and Convents of Goa
  49. Church of Our Lady of the Rosary – Churches and Convents of Goa
  50. Saint Catherine’s Chapel and its Seminary – Churches and Convents of Goa

What started in January from Hampi has folded successfully a day before the New Year’s eve in Delhi. It has been a great ride, one of the best experiences thus far. The carvings and artwork at Pattadakal, Chola Temples, and Sanchi, chapters in history at Chittorgarh Fort, Agra Fort, and Hampi, the allure of sheer natural beauty at Kanchenjunga, GHNP, and Manas, and for the love of being away from the manmade and amidst animals at Bharatpur and Kaziranga have all contributed to a new light of thoughts. A new discipline has been generated and alongside has come a newfound respect for history and its lessons, a fresh way to see and imbibe things, places, and their essence. If there was one word to describe it all it’d say it has been ‘blissful’.

To many more such journeys and adventure to come, raising a toast to what a wonderful year 2016 has been…