Speak to a Travel Advisor

Unesco World Heritage Sites In Southern India

Located on a confluence of the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, the coastal region of South India is a land of magnificent tropical paradise beaches, lush-green landscapes, serene lakes, rolling tea garden, scenic backwaters and amazing biodiversity.

But one of the biggest reasons it draws millions of tourists is its rich historical, artistic, architectural and archeological legacy. Many of its significant man-made monuments and landmarks, and natural wonders are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

The South Indian region comprises roughly the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and the small collective of islands Lakshadweep (Union Territory).

For more details for a well-rounded tour of South India, check out our LUXURY SOUTH INDIA TOURS here 

If you are in the south of India for the trip of a lifetime, we recommend that you do not miss the following UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Plan A Trip

Seven Amazing Unesco World Heritage Sites In Southern India 


1. Hampi Temples And Monuments (Karnataka)



Located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, the small village of Hampi in Karnataka was once the glorious and fabulously rich Vijayanagara Empire (the mightiest and richest of all empires in the Indian south that peaked in the 13th century).

Hampi comprises some 2000 marvellous historical remnants of the Vijayanagar Empire. These ruins include palaces, temples, royal complexes, gateways, giant carved pillars, sculptures, stone arts, public monuments and other urban landmarks.

This famous UNESCO World Heritage Site —which is one of the finest exhibits of the Dravidian tradition of architecture and art— is one of India’s greatest archeological landmarks at par with the Taj Mahal and the Ajanta & Ellora Caves.

What Not To Miss In HAMPI 

When you are in Hampi, we recommend that you check out the enigmatic Vijaya Vittala Temple famous for its musical pillars and the iconic Stone Chariot.

Be sure to go on a coracle ride in the nearby Tungabhadra River.

Plan A Trip

2. Pattadakal Group Of Monuments (Karnataka)



Located only 80 miles from Hampi in Karnataka, the Pattadakal Group of Monuments was recognized by UNESCO as a Heritage Site in 1987.

Flanked by the Malapradha River, the Pattadakal ruins in the Bagalkot District comprise nine Hindu temples and a Jain Sanctuary dating back to the eighth century AD.

Along with Badami (14 miles away) and Aihole (6 miles away), the trio of destinations spearheaded by Pattadakal is considered the epicenter of what was CHALUKYA DYNASTY which thrived in this part of India in the seventh and eighth centuries.

The unique artistic and archeological tradition on display at Patadakal-Aihole-Badami is known as the Chalukya Style. UNESCO has described these sites as a unique blend of the ancient traditions of South India with those of North India.


What Not to Miss in Pattadakal 


The Virupaksha Temple built by Queen Lokamahadevi is considered the most important of all temples. Other significant temples are Galaganatha and Kadashiddheswara.

For more details on what to do in Karnataka, check out our exclusive LUXURY KARANATAKA TOURS here.

Plan A Trip

3. Great Living Chola Temples (Tamil Nadu)



The Great Living Chola Temples of Tamil Nadu consist of the temples of Brihadisvara (in Thanjavur), Cholapuram and Airavatesvara (at Kumbakonam).

Superb exhibitions of stone art, sculpting, architecture, and bronze casting mastery, the GREAT LIVING CHOLA TEMPLES are among the most significant milestones in Tamil Nadu (and indeed all of South India).

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, these temples dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries were recognized as Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1987.

The name comes from the CHOLA DYNASTY which ruled this part of Tamil Nadu in that era. Chola Empire ruled not just most of South India but also the neighboring islands.

What Not to Miss


The most popular site of the 3 temples is the granite Brihadeeswara which boasts the tallest tower in South India.


4. Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu)


Also known as Mamallapuram, the small coastal town of Mahabalipuram (in the district of Chengalpattu District) of Tamil Nadu is famous for its 7th and 8th century Group of Monuments.

With the expansion of the capital Chennai, the town has now become a satellite for Chennai. Mahabalipuram was the premier trading post of the great PALLAVA KINGDOM.

The Pallavas are famous for building grand palaces, temples and monuments. The Mahabalipuram monuments were carved out of giant living rock. They comprise RATHAS (temples), MANDAPAS (cave sanctuaries) and the SHORE TEMPLE dedicated to Lord Shiva.

What Not to Miss in MAHABALIPURAM


Arjuna’s Penance (also known as DESCENT OF THE GANGES) is a giant open-air relief (rock) carved from two open air monolithic rocks boulders and is an absolute must-see work of art.

The PANCHA RATHAS (Five Chariots) are five monolithic pyramidical structures that are worth a visit.

Another important monument is the SHORE TEMPLE along the Bay of Bengal.

If you are a fan of Cave Art, visit the Cave Temples at Varaha, Adi Varha, Koneri and Dharmaraja.

Plan A Trip

5. Ramappa (Kakatiya Rudreshwara) Temple – Telangana



The Ramappa Temple, located 130 miles from the capital city of Hyderabad (Telangana) is one of India’s latest entries into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was added in 2021.

Also known as Kakatiya Rudreshwara, these Hindu Temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and are among the significant sites of south India.

Comprising three temples, the Ramappa Complex is believed to have been constructed between 1212 and 1234 AD and was described by Marco as “the brightest star in the galaxy of temples.”

This complex stands out due to its towering pyramidal structure, architectural brilliance and musical pillars.


6. Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Ooty (Tamil Nadu)



Operated by the Southern Railway division of Indian Railways, the quaint and exotic Nilgiri Moutain Railway located in the Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu is among the most important heritage sites in south India dating back to the British Raj. It was recognized by UNESCO in 2005.

It is a traditional steam engine /“steam locomotive” (the modern Indian trains run on diesel) that was originally built in 1908 by the British.

It is one of the two famous heritage “Toy Trains” in India. The other is the Darjeeling Toy Train in West Bengal (which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Ooty in Tamil Nadu, where it is located, is one of the most notable hill stations in this part of India famous for its tea plantations.

Also known as Udagamandalam, Ooty was the summer Headquarters of the East India Company and provided refuge to the officers from the heat and humidity of the coastal areas and plains.

Not only can you enjoy a toy train experience at the Nilgiris Mountain Railway in Ooty, but you can also savor the picturesque beauty of this little gem in the Nilgiris Mountains of the Western Ghats. It is famed for its lush green rolling tea gardens, cascading waterfalls and quaint colonial aura.


7. Western Ghats (Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu)/ South India



The Western Ghats Moutain Range are to the South and South West of India what the Himalayas are to the North of India. They are also known as the Great Escarpment of India and are ( fun fact!) actually older than the Himalayas.

Also known as the Sahyadri Moutain Range, this humongous mountain range covers a whopping 62,000 sq miles and span across (from West to east) the state of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Due to their biodiversity, the Western Ghats have been recognized as a Heritage Site and one of the total 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world. (A biogeographic region with amazing biodiversity which is in peril from rapid human expansion and deforestation).

The Western Ghats account for much of the biodiversity, flora and fauna of India.

A hill station holiday should always be on your bucket list on a visit in South India. We recommend the following hill stations (best places to visit) in the Western Ghats for an ideal escape in the Western Ghats


  • Munnar and Wayanad (Kerala)
  • Coorg and Chikmagalur (Karnataka)
  • Ooty and Coonoor (Tamil Nadu)
  • Mahabaleshwar (Maharashtra)

Plan A Trip

Planning a Trip?

Go tailor-made!
Bespoke travel plans curated by destination experts
Handpicked exclusive tour experiences with trained local guides
Transparent pricing with a complete cost breakup
Round-the-clock prompt support for a hassle-free experience
Plan My Trip

More Travel Itinerary & Routes

Different Path to Explore