India, home to some breathtakingly beautiful monuments like the Red Fort and Charminar, is truly an incredible country. Centuries of illustrious history has gifted India several monuments, many of which are world heritage sites today. But in many small towns that dot the map of India, are several lesser known historical monuments that bear testimony to the country’s rich architecture and culture.
Here are some of them.
1. Salim Singh Ki Haveli, Jaisalmer
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Also known as Jahazmahal, literally the ‘ship-palace’ because of the similarity of the façade to the stern of a ship, Salim Singh Ki Haveli was constructed in 1815. Built in a distinct style, the Haveli is one of the best examples of lesser known historical monuments in India, with many interesting characteristics. The roof was inspired from peacocks, while life-like sandstone sculptures of elephants guard the gateways. Each of the 38 balconies of the Haveli has its own singular design. Salim Singh, the then prime minister of Jaisalmer, commissioned the building.
2. Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer
Image Credit: TripsOnBid
Bada Bagh is a garden complex north of Jaisalmer. Numerous chhatris or cenotaphs dot the monument. Maharaja Jai Singh II commissioned a dam for the creation of a lake during his reign in the 16th century. His son, Lunkaran, built a beautiful garden by the lake and a chhatri for his father on a nearby hilltop. Many other cenotaphs were later constructed here. Construction of most recent cenotaph in memory of Maharaja Jawahar Singh, commenced in the 20th century, but remains incomplete today.
3. Chini Ka Rauza, Agra
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
While the Taj Mahal in Agra hogs all the limelight, Chini Ka Rauza remains among the lesser known historical monuments in the town founded by Delhi Sultan Sikandar Lodi. Built in 1635, Chini Ka Rauza is the tomb of renowned poet and scholar Afzal Khan Mullah, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s prime minister. It is a masterpiece of Indo-Persian architecture. The walls of the monument are adorned with beautiful pietra dura inlay work. The tomb gets its name from the colourful tile-work which is also known as ‘kashi’ or ‘chini’. The inscriptions on the walls add to the uniqueness of Chini ka Rauza.
4. Kanch Mahal, Agra
Image Credit: flickr.com
Another lesser known monument in Agra, Kanch Mahal is among the finest examples of Mughal architecture in India. Located near Akbar’s tomb, Kanch Mahal was initially constructed as a residence for imperial women, and was later used by Mughal Emperor Jahangir as a shikargah (hunting lodge). It is a mesmerising monument resting amid a garden with water channels, causeways and tanks. The exterior of the palace has a red stone inlay, and is adorned with niches containing flowering creepers and geometrical designs.
5. Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, Agra
Image Credit: Remote Traveler
Talk of lesser known historical monuments and it seems Agra has no dearth of it. The tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah is the resting place of Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s wife Noor Jahan and her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg. Built between 1622 and 1628, the tomb was named after Mirza Ghiyas Beg, on whom Jahangir had conferred the title Itmad-ud-Daulah. This monument is considered as the predecessor of the Taj Mahal for its beauty and majesty, and is sometimes called the ‘Baby Taj’. It was constructed over a red stone platform surrounded by the famous Persian garden called Char Bagh.
6. Marble Palace, Kolkata
Image Credit: Remote Traveler
The Marble Palace is a magnificent example of Bengali architecture built by Raja Rajendra Mullick in 1835. Mullick was a wealthy Bengali merchant with a for art. Constructed entirely of white marble, the palace has a beautiful garden. Heirs of the royal family still reside here. The Marble Palace was primarily built in the neoclassical style. Situated next to the building is the Marble Palace Zoo, also built by Mullick. It was the first zoo in India and currently serves as an aviary housing birds like peacocks, pelicans and hornbills.
7. Bolgatty Palace, Kochi
Image Credit: hotel-travel-booking.com
The Bolgatty Palace, is perhaps the only building of its kind, in that it was not built by an Indian ruler. It is believed to have been constructed by the Dutch in 1974, and is said to have housed a wealthy landlord. A garden, swimming pool and an Ayurveda centre surround the Bolgatty Palace today, making it one of the lesser known historical monuments in India, worthy of a visit.
8. Bidar Fort, Karnataka
Image Credit: YouTube
Bidar, located in the Deccan, is also commonly known as The City of Whispering Monuments. The Bidar Fort does full justice to the moniker. The 15th century Bahmani building was constructed at a time when Sultan Ala-ud-Din Bahman shifted his capital to Bidar from Gulbarga in 1427. The Bidar Fort consists of a number of monuments within the complex, some of which are the Rangin Mahal (the painted palace), Jami Masjid (the great mosque) and Sola Khamba Masjid (the mosque with sixteen pillars).
9. The Maluti temples, Dumka
Image Credit: Mystery of India
Maluti, a village in Jharkhand, boasts of over 70 terracotta temples that depict scenes from the Hindu epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The temples, built during the reign of the Baj Basanta dynasty between 17th and 19th centuries, are in dire need of maintenance. It is said that these temples were granted by the medieval Bengal Sultan Alauddin Husain Shah to a Brahmin named Basanta as a present for saving his pet baaz (hawk) and returning it to him. The Maluti temples, popular legend notwithstanding, remains among the lesser known historical monuments of the country.
10. Sarkhej Roza, Makarba
Image Credit: Group Outing
A mosque complex and tomb, the Sarkhej Roza is situated in Makaraba village near Ahmedabad. The monument was once a renowned centre for Sufism, and residence of Shaikh Ahmed Ganjj Baksh, a renowned Sufi saint. The monument has earned the epithet of Ahmedabad’s Acropolis.
11. Basgo Monastery, Leh
Image Credit: discoverladakh.co.in
The Basgo Monastery (also known as the Bazgo Gompa), towers over an ancient town and has several statues dedicated to Buddha. Considered among the relatively unknown historical places in India, the monastery is located 40 kilometres from Leh, and was built in the 17th century reign of Namgyal rulers. Before it became a spiritual monument, the Basgo Monastry served both as a cultural and political centre in the 15th century.
12. Kumbhalgarh Fort, Mewar
Image Credit: udaipurmagic.com
Rajasthan is the home to several lesser known historical monuments, and Kumbhalgarh Fort is one of them. This majestic monument was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. The wall of Kumbhalgarh Fort, at a length of 38 kilometres, is the second largest in the world after the Great Wall of China.