5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Maharashtra You Should Visit

From the rock-cut caves of Ajanta and Ellora to the grandeur of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, each site tells a unique story of human achievement and creativity
Intricacies of Ellora
Intricacies of ElloraShutterstock

Maharashtra, a state located in western India, boasts a remarkable blend of cultural diversity, historical significance, and architectural marvels. Home to bustling cities and serene countryside, the state is adorned with several UNESCO World Heritage Sites that stand as a testament to its rich history and cultural heritage. These sites offer a glimpse into Maharashtra's past, showcasing its architectural brilliance and the stories of the civilizations that thrived here. Let's embark on a virtual journey to discover five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Maharashtra that capture the essence of the state's heritage.

Ellora Caves

Entrance to Ellora Caves
Entrance to Ellora CavesShutterstock

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ellora Caves feature intricate rock-cut temples and monasteries representing Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. These caves date from the 6th to the 10th century CE and exhibit impressive architectural and sculptural diversity. The entire complex is awe-inspiring, but the Kailasa Temple stands out as a magnificent example of rock-cut architecture in India.

The rock-cut Kailasa Temple
The rock-cut Kailasa TempleShutterstock

Timings and Fee: It costs Indian nationals INR 30 to enter the Ellora Caves. It is open from 6 am to 6 pm.

How To Reach

Air: Aurangabad airport is located about 15 km from the Ellora Caves and it is the closest airport to the site. The airport is well-connected to the major cities of the country.

Rail: Aurangabad Railway Station is the nearest railhead from the Ellora Caves at 30 km. It is connected to major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, and Ahmednagar.

Road: Only 27 km from Aurangabad city, Ellora Caves can be reached easily via buses and taxis.

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves
Ajanta CavesShutterstock

The Ajanta Caves are an exquisite site of Buddhist art and sculptures, housing 29 ancient rock-cut caves that date back to the 2nd century BCE. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site showcasing intricate carvings and paintings depicting Buddha's life. An interesting fact about the place is the story of its accidental discovery in 1819 by a colonial British officer, Captain John Smith at a tiger-hunting party.

Inside the Ajanta Caves
Inside the Ajanta CavesShutterstock

Timings and Fee: It costs Indian nationals INR 40 to enter the Ajanta Caves. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm.

How To reach

Air: The closest airport is Aurangabad, about 15 km from the Ajanta Caves.

Rail: Aurangabad is the nearest railway station and is well-connected to Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Kolkata etc.

Road: Aurangabad is 99 km away from Ajanta Caves, while Jalgaon is only 59 km away.

Elephanta Caves

Elephanta Caves
Elephanta CavesShutterstock

Located on Elephanta Island in close proximity to Mumbai, these caves contain rock-cut sculptures that pay homage to Lord Shiva. Renowned for their meticulous carvings, these caves have become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island, initially known as Gharapuri, acquired the name Elephanta when the Portuguese encountered a substantial stone elephant near their point of arrival and christened the island accordingly.

Inside the Elephanta Caves
Inside the Elephanta CavesShutterstock

Timings and Fee: It costs Indian nationals INR 40 to enter the Ajanta Caves. It is open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.

How To reach

Air: The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai is well-connected to all major cities. Reach the Gateway of India and take a ferry to reach the island.

Rail: The Churchgate Railway Station is nearest to Gateway of India, where you can hail a ferry for the island.

Road: The Gateway of India is located on the waterfront at the Apollo Bunder area at the end of Chhatrapati Shivaji Marg in South Mumbai. Reach there to hail a ferry to the island.

Western Ghats

Tamhini Ghat
Tamhini GhatShutterstock

Preceding the Himalayas in age, the Western Ghats mountain chain holds vital geomorphic significance with distinct biophysical and ecological processes. These high montane forest ecosystems shape India's monsoon patterns, offering a prime example of this global weather system. Renowned for exceptional biological diversity and endemism, it stands among the world's top eight biodiversity hotspots. Within its forests thrive over 325 globally endangered species of flora, fauna, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish, showcasing the richness of these ecosystems.

The Western Ghats can be enjoyed from the various places in Maharashtra. The list includes Amboli, Mahabaleshwar, Lonavla, Igatpuri, Dhamanohol, Mulshi, and Tahmhini Ghat.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Chhatrapati Shivaji TerminusShutterstock

Formerly popular as the Victoria Terminus, this historic railway station in Mumbai was designed by the Italian architect F W Stevens. It is an architectural marvel that combines Victorian Gothic and traditional Indian styles. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a bustling transportation hub. The highlights are high ornamented ceilings and an excellent heritage gallery that showcases clones of the original designs by F W Stevens and photographs from the architecture detailing the growth of the railways in India.

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