List of World Heritage Sites in South India

List of World Heritage Sites in South India

UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, lists a set of special places of certain cultural or physical significance. These sites could be a forest, mountain, lake, island, desert, monument, building, complex, or city. These ‘Heritage sites’ were chosen for the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and the programme was adopted on 16 November 1972.  The organization catalogues, names, and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. While each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located, UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site. Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund.

The first two sites in India that were chosen as “Heritage Sites” were the Agra Fort and Ajanta Caves. 30 more sites have been added to list over time and categorized into 25 cultural sites and 7 natural sites in all.

South India is very famous for its Temple architecture and the majestic Western Ghat Mountain range. And not surprisingly a majority of the heritage sites in South India fall under these categories. Below is the List of Heritage Sites in South India classified as Cultural & Natural.


  • Ajanta Caves (1983)
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004)
  • Churches and Convents of Goa (1986)
  • Elephanta Caves (1987)
  • Ellora Caves (1983)
  • Great Living Chola Temples (1987)
  • Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986)
  • Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984)
  • Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987)
  • Mountain Railways of India (1999)
  • Sun Temple, Konârak (1984)



  • Western Ghats (2012)The Cultural sites in India are marked by their brilliant craftsmanship on stone. Most of the temples of South India on this list are built in stone, without any mortar and with brilliant sculptures carved on it. Nowhere in the world do such intricate sculptures and architecture come together as beautifully and inextricably as in India.

Learn more about a few of these heritage sites in South India.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) is the headquarters of the Central Railways in India and is a historic railway station in Mumbai. It was designed with influences from Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and traditional Mughal buildings by Frederick Williams Stevens. It was built in 1887 and is a landmark building and one of the busiest in Mumbai.

Chhatrapathi Sivaji Terminal, Mumbai

Churches and Convents of Goa

Goa was the capital of the Portuguese Indies from the 16th to 18th century and over 60 churches were built in that period before the Portuguese left the region. Around 7 relics survive as examples of the magnificent Renaissance architecture  of the 16th century. The Church of Bom Jesus where the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier rest is of the best in terms of design and style and also the most famous.

church of Bom Jesus, Goa

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram: 

The monuments in Mahabalipuram stand as testimony to the architectural brilliance of the Pallava Dynasty. Situated on the coromandel coast, the buildings that we can see today are the Rathas, Mandapas and Open-air Relics. Also popular is the Shore Temple, providing breath-taking views with the vast sea as a backdrop especially during sunrise each day!

the shore temple, mahabalipuram

Mountain Railways of India

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka–Shimla Railway have collectively been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The construction of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a 46-km long metre-gauge single-track railway in Tamil Nadu State was first proposed in 1854, but due to the difficulty of the mountainous location the work only started in 1891 and was completed in 1908. This railway, scaling an elevation of 326 m to 2,203 m, represented the latest technology of the time.

Nilgiri Heritage Mountain Trains View

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