From India’s elaborately decorated Ajanta Caves to the splendor of the Taj Mahal, UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites offers a spectacular window into South Asia’s past. Robert DeCaroli, a professor of art history at George Mason University, highlights historic palaces, grand temples, royal mausoleums, and more that showcase the subcontinent’s abundant historically and culturally significant destinations.
9:30–10:45 a.m. Rock-cut Wonders
Marvels of engineering and sites of artistic beauty, India’s enormous structures carved from the living rock are architectural wonders. Explore prehistoric cave paintings, the rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments of Ajanta, Ellora’s enormous temple caves, and beach-front Hindu caves and sanctuary temples at Elephanta and Mahabalipuram.
11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Sacred Sites (Part 1)
India’s rich religious traditions have inspired the creation of many cultural heritage sites. DeCaroli examines Buddhist sites at Bodhgaya, Sanchi, and Nalanda and offers examples of Hindu architecture at Khajuraho and Konarak, whose temples display masterfully sculpted exteriors.
12:30–1:30 p.m. Break
1:30–2:30 p.m. Sacred Sites (Part 2)
The survey continues with the mature Hindu temple cities of the Chola and Chalukya dynasties; the grand minaret of the Qutb Minar; and the churches of Portuguese Christian Goa.
2:45–4 p.m. Seats of Power
Discover sites of religious and political power: Mughal splendors in Agra and Fatehpur Sikri; the palace-forts of Rajasthan and the city of Hampi; and the great train stations of the British Raj.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*
*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.