Several Bollywood movies have showcased the cultural and architectural heritage of India on the big screen. Here are our favourites:

Shatranj Ke Khilari

In this film Satyajit Ray portrays Awadh, UP, before it was taken over by the East India Company. The film was shot in Lucknow and set in the time of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s rule, depicting alongside the culture of Urdu poetry in India.

Awadh now is famous for Safdarjung’s tomb, Gulab Bari in Faizabad and places like Bara Imambara and Hazratganj Market which are situated in Lucknow.

Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam

This Guru Dutt film has a 19th century backdrop of colonial Calcutta. It shows the city’s British architecture and its contribution to India’s freedom movement. The film follows a zamindar family residing in a haveli. One of the members of this family is a part of the Brahmo Samaj.

While many havelis in the country have been demolished, West Bengal still has lot of old havelis, the most famous being Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the birthplace and residence of Rabindranath Tagore.

Umrao Jaan

Based in 19th century Lucknow, this film presents the poetry, music and dance of India through the eyes of a courtesan. This movie has exquisite poems, lyrics and music. It also shows the ornate courts, houses and palaces of the period. Lucknow’s charm is based on this rich cultural and architectural heritage.

Jodha Akbar

Set in the 16th century, this film shows the Mughal empire under the reign of emperor Akbar and his Rajput empress Jodha. This movie was shot mostly in Rajasthan’s palaces.

Rajasthan is known for its Rajput culture and its architectural heritage. Rajasthan’s popularity as a tourist spot lies in the fact that its princely charm has been preserved with its forts and palaces.


This Sujoy Ghosh film was successful in capturing Kolkata’s present culture. Shot on the city streets, the camera also captured heritage places like the Howrah Bridge, Nonapukur tram depot, Kumartuli, Victoria Memorial and a lot of old havelis and houses. The film also showed Durga Puja which is the biggest festival in Kolkata. The climax was shot on Vijayadashami and featured sindoor khela, where women apply sindoor (Vermilion) on each other as they bid goodbye to the goddess.

Kashmir Ki Kali

This 1964 classic is set in the beautiful backdrop of Kashmir. The film captured several scenic places in Kashmir highlighting its culture.

Kashmir is famous for places like Amarnath Ji Caves, Lamayuru, Dal Lake, Sinthan Top, Martand Sun Temple, Badamwari Garden, and Shalimar Bagh.

Veer Zaara

Apart from telling a good story, Yash Chopra gave us a glimpse into Punjabi culture with this film. The film featured traditional Punjabi dresses, dance forms, music and festivals. It also captured the essence of the state in various locations.

Punjab has some exquisite architecture on display including the likes of Golden Temple, Bathinda Fort, Rangla Punjab Haveli, Sheetla Mandir, Lodhi Fort and Phillaur Fort.

Khuda Gawah

The film used Jaipur and Udaipur in Rajasthan as its locations. It was shot in palaces which also highlighted the state’s impeccable architectural heritage.

Jaipur is home to tourist attractions like Hawa Mahal, Jal Mahal, Nahargarh Fort and Jaigarh Fort, whereas Udaipur is famous for its Lake Palace and Udaipur Palace.

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam for a major part was shot in Gujarat, highlighting the state’s culture and heritage alongside the plot. The film features Gujarat’s traditional dance styles of Dandiya and Garba, traditional dresses, cuisines, weddings and festivals. The plot also allowed the use of Indian classical music. Characters in the movies lived in heritage palaces, darbars or havelis. Famous palaces like Bhuj, Gondal and Mandvi, were used as locations for the movie.