14 World Heritage Sites of South India, a Tour Plan

There are 35 (27 cultural, 7 natural and 1 mixed) World Heritage Sites in India that are recognized by the UNESCO as on July 2016. This post is a tour plan to visit 17 World Heritage sites of South India. Of these 17 sites, 3 are natural ones in the Western Ghats.

World Heritage Sites of South India

If you have been craving to visit the World Heritage sites in south of India, now is the time. Plan a vacation for coming winters. Winters are not so severe in South India and weather is most pleasant. Depending on the number of days you plan to tour various sites can be visited. A 20 days itinerary can help cover the 14 World Heritage Sites of South India at a relaxed pace. This will be a great learning and enriching experience.

Visit HampiDay 1

Start from Mumbai, as Mumbai is easily reachable by air, rail and roads. The city has 2 Indian world heritage sites. One of them is Elephanta Caves which got its status in 1987. Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai too figures in the list. Budget stay possible with MTDC.

Day 2

Fly to Aurangabad from Mumbai; plenty of flight, rail and road options available. Spend two days seeing Ajanta and Ellora caves, these two places got the prestigious status of UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. Two days here will enable a relaxed tour. Like in Mumbai MTDC has budget hotels here too.

Ajanta Caves World Heritage Sites of South IndiaDay 4

Goan churches figure in world heritage sites list. Fly to Goa, spend the day leisurely seeing the Churches and convents of Goa. The next day can be spent leisurely strolling the beaches of Goa. In Goa you can avail GTDC hospitality at Panjim Residency. From Goa you can plan Hampi which is 7 hours journey by road, a distance of 350kms. Alternately you can fly to Bangalore and then drive down to Hampi.

Day 6

Spend couple of days here. From Hampi you can make a trip to Pattadakal which got its heritage status in 1987. Pattadakal will take just a day. But I suggest spare another day for Badami and Aihole. Though these two sites aren’t included in UNESCO’s list yet they are worth visiting. There is a lot to see in these two places; even after the end of four days here you may have the urge to extend your stay here. From Hampi drive down to Bangalore for a flight to Chennai. You have now covered 6 of the 14 UNESCO Heritage sites.

Chariot at HampiDay 11

Leave for Chennai, with Chennai as base you can cover the other three world heritage site, Mahabalipuram, Chola temples and Mountain railways of Nilgiris, which is year 2005’s addition to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites of India. Span these visits over six days to enable unhurried enjoyable visit. Another option would be road trip from Bangalore to Ooty for Mountain Railways and halt there for a day. Next day set off for Thanjavur for Chola Temples, spend a couple of days here and then set off for Mahabalipuram. Finally drive to Chennai. The distance fom Bangalore to Chennai via these 3 world Heritage sites is 976kms. It is a doable one and enjoyable too if you heritage and history!

Day 16

Arrive at Bhubaneswar, capital of Odisha. From there proceed to Sun Temple Konark. The distance between Bhubaneswar to Konark is 72kms, that should take one and half hours approx. Budget stay facilities is possible at OTDC. The 13th century Sun Temple here is mesmerizing! On day 18 evening fly to Kolkata. You are in last phase of the travel.

Day 19

Though Sunderbans cannot be counted in South India heritage sites, I included it because of Kolkata which is a very well connected city. Visit Sunderbans, a natural world heritage site. A stay in one of the islands here can be the most refreshing end to your journey.  At the end of 20 days you will be rich with memories of sights of these sites!


Go ahead make your plans and have a grand tour of

the World Heritage Sites in South India!




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54 Responses to “14 World Heritage Sites of South India, a Tour Plan

  • Nice post Indrani! Been to most of these sites and yes they really are marvelous and are worth a visit! Loving the new look of your site – clean, clutter free and sophisticated.

  • Indrani Ghose
    1 year ago

    Thank you Chaitali for the nice words on my blog. Still not sure whether I am liking it or not. 🙂

  • Great compilation Indrani! Very informative.

  • Love the new look! ( you should like it!) 🙂

    Wonderful article. A south heritage trail is an absolute must do. The temples and the architecture is mind blowing! 🙂
    Lovely post!

  • Nice post. Planning a trip to Hampi in December. Will remember to include Badami and Aihole

  • Fascinating sites, all of them..specially Hampi! South India is a treasure trove of architecture, history and history. The best part is that most sites are remarkably well preserved as compared to North India, where more destruction took place around the British rule.

  • This would be a whirlwind tour of the sites. I think I would prefer to put in a few more days here and there so I would not get so tired from the trip. We are 65 so we need to stop and take a little more time than some people. We went to India in the north and central last year and loved our trip. We are working on new Visas from the U.S. that will be 10 year visas and that will give us time to really enjoy the country on our next trip in 2017. I will bookmark you list and plan on this as part of our trip. We had already decided on Goa and this will give us many more place to see.

  • Blair Villanueva
    1 year ago

    Is the 20-day tour itinerary is really enough to visit all these beautiful places? I think it needs to spend more days to really enjoy it 😀

    • Indrani Ghose
      1 year ago

      20 days are sufficient if one is doing only the UWHsites. If one wishes to cover other surrounding sights then it the whole trip will take more than a month.

  • Probably most of us plan a trip by thinking of the destination or area, but not specifically by a method such as “Let’s visit the World Heritage sites”. I may not make it to South India soon, but my next trip, I’ll search to see if any WH sites around around wherever I’m going.

  • Such a great plan of action ! Actually spoke about your blog today to my Tourism students will be sharing your blog with them. I visited the Western Ghats they are so beautiful. You have inspired me to make it a point to visit a UNESCO site wherever I travel to from now on

  • What an amazing itinerary. India is so vast you really have to plan for the different regions. This South India itinerary is right up my alley as I like to visit world heritage sites. Thanks for all the tips. You have inspired me.

  • This is a great list. I sadly didn’t get to any of these while I was in India as my trip didn’t cover Chennai, Mumbai and Odisha. If I am able to get back to India for another trip, I will keep this list in mind!

  • You have pushed in quite a long list in this post. I am born in Mumbai and my parents took me to see all the heritage sites . Unfortunately they took a six months old me and I have no recollection. Mumbai is on my list for a long time and I would definitely go there as soon as possible. Hampi happens to be my photogtrapher friends favourite place in the whole world. His constant nagging about how beautiful the place is has put it in my bucket list too.

  • Nice detailed plan. We have been to most of the WH places in South India. There are lots of history and architecture behind every place which makes it even more interesting to visit.

  • India has never been in my travel list, I always think it must be too warm hehe. Anyway, suddenly I only see more and more fantastic places everywhere there, I guess I will have to visit! Thanks a lot for sharing these amazing locations!

  • Great Travel Plan…Indias size always baffles me, you have so many great spots to visit…I like that you picked a theme for your journey, makes the whole trip so much more interesting when you have some kind of goal in mind and it would keep me from constantly switching up my travelplans 😉

    Going to India next year and will put this into good use^^

  • Great travel plan, albeit very packed! I’d love to visit the sacred temples and places you mention in this fascinating article, very interesting, Karen

  • Laveena Sengar
    1 year ago

    Every time I visit your site I feel really blessed and proud of India. There is so much here. Though I wasn’t aware of this list so that is something new and informative. 🙂

  • I went through India very fast by myself and did indeed skip many of the things on your list. This sounds like a very good idea for first timers in India!


  • I can’t believe how many World Heritage sites there are in this area of India. It looks like it would be better to plan a longer than shorter trip here.

  • One can easily plan a fab road trip for covering these places!!! Loved the article – kickass and super comprehensive travel plan Indrani 😀

  • That would be a fast and furious tour of the sites over the course of just 20 days, but I agree….that’s about the bear minimum of time I would recommend. I never realized how much I’ve missed by never visiting South India!

  • I have only visited the North of India and I can see how different the South is. I would love to see all those amazing architectural gems and also relax on the beaches of Goa. I had no idea that there are so many Unesco sites in South India.

  • HAMPI! Hampi is my very favorite place in all of India. It is just breathtaking! (which is saying a lot, since the whole country is pretty spectacular!) I’ve got a TON of Hampi photos over on my blog:

  • Very well compiled list. While I was sitting at my home in Kolkata all the time, now I realize I could have done so much more. I think I am going to plan for some of these places for next month

  • Fascinating sites and amazing list! Have traveled to a couple of places on your list during my college days except Hampi and Sunderbans!

  • You know, India is in my top 5 favorite countries to travel. I really regret that I have not visited Hampi, it is a beautiful and special place. I also did not reach Bangalore, I only reached Mysore. I am saving your post to my India folder as it includes very detailed travel information and places I have never heard before.

  • This is such a great travel plan. I didn’t know there were 14 World Heritage sites in Southern India, and that only is quite impressive. India is on my Top 5 of countries to visit and I do really want to set a foot on this country! Im planning to go really soon, and I’m saving it to my Pocket so I can relate when I will be! You’re just describing the perfect and concise travel plan!

  • I haven’t been to India yet, but I can see there’s going to be quite a lot of sightseening one I finally get there!

  • I’ve not made it to India yet (it’s on my list) but LOVE World Heritage Sites so your schedule looks amazing! Although I’m all about ‘fast travel’ I am not sure I could do this in such a short time frame as I’d want to stay and explore each site longer. Great itinerary though!

  • Fourteen world heritage sites in just 20 days? Wow! This is quite a comprehensive itinerary. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

  • I love to discover World heritage Sites on my travels. I admit I’ve never been to India – but I wish to do that one day soon. I loved this itinerary – really comprehensive , well planned – and so many wonderful places to see. I don’t even know what to pick first! As for your last place included, I have to say that Kolkata has indeed an international fame – so it has potential to lure tourists, therefor an important site next to it – aka Sunderbans – is definitely a great addition to the list!

  • It is a great list. Having covered most of the heritage sites in South India, I am just looking through your list to figure out what I have missed out. I think Sundarbans doesnt count as south India though.

  • WOw! A lot of sights. Never been to India and this is giving me some ideas. Thank you

  • I spent a couple of days in Chennai and had an excellent guide, so I’ve seen a few of your recommendations. I also loved the silk weaving village we visited in Tamil Nadu…

  • Wow, so many various monuments to see in just 19 days! Sounds like little exhausting but adventurous trip. I would like to come back to India and visit for Chennai!

  • I’ve been to a couple of these wonderful places. Elephanta Caves and the caves at Aurangabad, Ajanta and Ellora. I’d love to do this whole tour and see all the ones you list.

  • Very impressive and comprehensive itinerary. Visiting 14 World Heritage sites in 19 days would be amazing. I’ve only been to New Delhi so your tour would be perfect.

  • There is so much to see and do in India that it makes planning travel in the country quite overwhelming!! I’ve never been myself, but have a long list of places I’d like to visit in the country. This guide was really great about introducing me to some of the lesser-known (at least to N Americans) places in the country. I’d really love to visit Hampi!

  • Wow looks like a fantastic list. I love South India, it’s so much more relaxing I found! I never made it to Chennai but would love to come back to India a third time and check it out.

  • I’ve always wanted to visit India, but would have no idea where to start. This is a great guide.

  • Great post! India is on my list, hopefully, I get to visit it soon

  • Detailed itinerary, thanks again Indrani… South India is really rich heritage sites… Hope to visit them all.. And I’m sure if I follow this 20 journey,aside from memories I will surely have more photos to treasure…

  • India is pretty high up on my travel list, mostly because I do think it has such a rich and intriguing history (which my family are part of!). Great to have an overview of some of the sights I could expect to see on such a trip.

  • Such an awesome compilation Indrani. I m glad I have been able to cover many of the sites covered here on different trips. Hoping to cover the remaining ones soon. I shall use this post as a checklist to complete the rest of the locations 🙂

  • A great itinerary Indrani. I have visited some, need to cover the others. Although I can’t do a 20 days vacation, I will definitely love to split it into multiple and cover all these great heritages of India

  • I have seen a couple in Chenai and Bangalore. My biggest regret was Elephanta Caves, I missed them because I was in Mumbay on Monday, the only day they are closed! Thanks for the list

  • I think it is the best way to explore the the National heritage sites! You have a great itinerary!

  • There’s always something in India that always captivate me and one of this is the Heritage site. I’ll surely check them all when I get the chance to visit India soon.

  • Sounds like an amazing itinerary. I try and make a point of visiting UNESCO sites in my travels. I didn’t realize India had so many. I like how you also added some interesting sites that are not part of UNESCO if they are convenient as part of your itinerary.

  • Wow! there’s a lot of them and will take days to visit all! This is a good itinerary and a lot of preparation is needed to pull this off the record and make the most out of it! Very nice!

  • So many wonderful things to see in India. Your country is really blessed to be home to such many heritage sites. Would really love to visit India soon. Among all of these, Goa is on top of my list.

  • This is indeed an epic itinerary. What lovely places to cover. From the beautiful caves of Ajanta-Ellora to the magnificent ruins of Hampi to the mangroves of the Sunderbans. Would a great and rewarding experience.

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