Hidden and Lesser-known Archaeological Sites in India 1
India is home to hundreds of archaeological sites and monuments but numerous landmarks are either yet undiscovered or less known. According to the Archaeological Survey of India, many hidden and unexplored archaeological marvels grace the landscape of the Indian subcontinent. These intricate structures not only baffle historians and archaeologists but also reveal much more about the history and culture of ancient India. These awe-inspiring structures have started to gain prominence and make their way to become UNESCO World Heritage sites. This list explains the lesser-known archaeological sites in India and archaeological marvels in India.
These ancient archaeological wonders showcase ancient unexplored history and architecture that are little-known in India. Following are a few hidden archaeological marvels of India:
1. Adalaj Stepwell - The mysterious stepwell of Gujarat.
Stepwells are some of the most prominent structures in the Northern parts of India. The dry and arid climate leads to a lack of water supply due to seasonal rainfall. Therefore, step-wells played a huge role in a consistent supply of water during ancient times. One such prominent stepwell is located in the town of Adalaj known as Adalaj Ni Vav in Gujarati. This stepwell is a beautiful architectural marvel and the brainchild of early engineers. Fine carvings and designs brilliantly grace this entire structure as it was built during the reign of Rana Veer Singh of Dandai Des. The project was stalled after the king was killed during an invasion of Mohammed Begda, a neighboring Muslim ruler. According to the legend, the widowed queen of Rana Veer Singh promised to marry Begda only if he completed the construction of stepwell in return. Begda hastily but perfectly completed the construction of the stepwell but the queen killed herself before fulfilling her promise. This five-story well thus adds mystery to its existence over the years and has become one of the lesser-known but interesting archaeological sites near Ahmedabad.
2. Udayagiri Caves - Rock-cut architecture in the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh
One of the most prominent excavated sites of the Archaeological Survey of India, the Udayagiri Caves are located in the town of Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh. Lying upon the banks of Betwa river, this set of twenty magnificent caves are capable enough to draw archaeological fanatics and history buffs. The oldest surviving landmarks of ancient Indian rock-cut architecture, these caves portray elegant iconography belonging to the Indian mythology of Vishnu, Shiva, and Shakti. The most popular cave among all is the eighth cave which boasts incredible carvings of Varaha, the boar-headed incarnation of Vishnu. Built during the reign of Chandragupta II, the inscriptions reveal the time period of the legendary Gupta empire. Also known as the ‘feet of the Vishnu’, these caves also house one of the oldest inscriptions belonging to Jainism.
3. Krimchi Temples - The enigmatic shrines in Jammu
There are a lot of mysterious ancient structures in India whose origin and history is not known. One such site is the ruins of Krimchi Temples. Located in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, it is the oldest structure to be found in the region. Built around the 8th-century, these temples are believed to be the creation of Raja Kichak of Mahabharata. This is also signified in the fact that the temples are also known as Pandava temples. The accurate history of the temple is difficult to trace due to the absence of any scriptures. Portraying Roman architectural influences in its design, the pillars, and columns of the temples resemble the Doric style of carvings. This is a notable proof of influences upon culture due to earlier trade relations. The complex consists of four large and three small temples. The main temple is 50 feet tall and is dedicated to Hindu deities Shiva, Ganesha, Vishnu, and Parvati. These are maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.
4. Masrur Temples - Rock-Mountain Cut Temples on the banks of River Beas
The last surviving example of a temple mountain-style Hindu architecture, the Masrur Temples are one of the finest ruined temple complexes in India. Believed to be built around the 8th-century, they are located in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh. A fine example of North-Indian Nagora style architecture, these magnificent structures are inspired by the henotheistic frameworks, Dedicated to Hindu deities Shiva and Vishnu, these temples are preserved for over 1000 years and are largely destroyed due to earthquakes in the region. With perfectly planned symmetry and layout, the interiors of the temples are epitomes of incredible ancient engineering even if they seem quite rugged on the outside. Made completely of natural hard sandstone, these temples are believed to be the home of Pandavas during their exile in Mahabharata.
5. Pattadakal - The time-worn group of monuments in Karnataka
Temples are an integral part of the heritage of the Indian subcontinent, therefore it is a must that we mention the Pattadakal group of monuments. Consisting of ten major temples, Pattakadal boasts the remnants of the legendary Chalukya dynasty. Built between the 5th and the 7th century, these temples are an incredible fusion of different architectural styles. The Rekha-Nagara-Prasada temple architectural style is used in four temples while the Dravida-Vimana structural style is used in the other four temples. Only one temple is the blend of both these styles. The mesmerizing craftsmanship and sculpting truly resonate with the magnificent essence of ancient Chalukyan culture. Also known as the ‘red soil valley of coronation’, it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site while it is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India. The wall carvings inside the temples depict stories from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata Purana, the Panchatantra, and the Kirātārjunīya. An ideal place for archaeological fanatics, temples such as ain temple, Papanatha temple, Galaganath temple, Sangameshwara temple and more await to be explored.