World Heritage Sites in India – [UPSC, SSC Notes]

World Heritage Sites in India recognised by UNESCO:

World Heritage sites in India

There are total 32 sites (As on 19th April 2015) in India listed as World Heritage sites by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO). The sites are divided into two types : Cultural sites and Natural sites.

The UNESCO World Heritage Convention for pr0tection of world’s important cultural and natural sites was adopted by UNESCO General Conference on 16 November 1972. The first two Indian sites added to the list of World Heritage sites were AGRA FORT and AJANTA CAVES. The latest indian site added to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites is the Great Himalyan National Park in Kullu (added in 2014).

 

 

Why was the need felt for World Heritage Convention?

  • The decision to build the Aswan High Dam in Egypt was of major concern. It which would have flooded the valley containing the Abu Simbel temples , a treasure of ancient Egyptian civilization.
  • In 1959,  UNESCO launched an international safeguarding campaign after recieving an appeal from the governments of Egypt and Sudan.  The Abu Simbel and Philae temples were dismantled, moved to dry ground and reassembled. The cost of the campaign  was donated by some 50 countries which displayed solidarity for the protection of cultural and heritage sites.
  • Later, UNESCO led many other safeguarding campaigns, such as saving Venice and its Lagoon (Italy) and the Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro (Pakistan) , and restoring the Borobodur Temple Compounds (Indonesia).
  • Consequently, UNESCO initiated, with the help of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the preparation of a draft convention on the protection of cultural heritage. But until now the only focus was for protection of cultural sites and not Natural sites.
  • The move for protection of Natural sites along with Cultural sites came from the 1965 White House conference in Washington D.C which called for a ‘World Heritage Trust’ for protections of Natural sites.
  • Therafter, both the ideas were linked in one text and the World Heritage Convention for the protection of cultural and natural sites was adopted by UNESCO in 1972.

 

List of World Heritage Sites in INDIA – Cultural:

 

AGRA FORT:

  • Also known as RED FORT of Agra.
  • Major part was built under the reign of Akbar.
  • Built of red-sandstone.
  • Located near the Shahjahan Gardens of Taj Mahal, on the right bank of Yamuna.
  • The Fort comprises of many fabulous buildings – the Khas Mahal, the Shish Mahal, the octagonal tower of Muhammam Burj (where Shahjahan died),
  • Diwan-i-Khas and  Diwan-i-Am were built under the reign of the Shah Jahan are also in the Agra Fort.
  • Two beautiful mosques – the Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque, constructed  by Shah Jahan and the Nagina Masjid built under the reign of Aurangzeb are alos inside the Agra fort
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1983
  • Location in India – Agra, U.P

AJANTA CAVES:

  • The first Buddhist cave monuments at Ajanta belong to the  2nd and 1st centuries B.C.
  • Many more richly decorated caves were added during the Gupta period (5th and 6th century) to the original group.
  • The paintings and sculptures of Ajanta are considered as masterpieces of Buddhist religious art.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1983
  • Location in India – Aurangabad District of Maharashtra.

Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi:

  • The site of Sanchi comprises a group of Buddhist monuments (monolithic pillars, palaces, temples and monasteries) belonging to the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C.
  • It is the oldest Buddhist sanctuary which is still in existence.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1989
  • Location in India – M.P

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park:

  • It is a  concentration of largely unexcavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties.
  • It includes prehistoric (chalcolithic) sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and remains of the 16th-century capital of the state of Gujarat.
  • The site also includes many palaces, residential and religious buildings, agricultural structures and water installations, which belongs to the 8th to 14th centuries.
  • The Kalikamata Temple on top of Pavagadh Hill is an important shrine.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 2004
  • Location in India – Panchmahal district of Gujarat

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus :

  • The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus which was  formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, in Mumbai, is a fabulous example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture blended with Indian traditional architecture.
  • The building was  designed by the British architect F. W. Stevens
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 2004
  • Location in India – Mumbai, Maharashtra

Churches and Convents of Goa:

  • The churches and convents of Goa,  particularly the Church of Bom Jesus, which contains the tomb of St Francis-Xavier is one of the important heritage sites in India.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1986
  • Location in India – Goa

ELEPHANTA CAVES:

  • Located on the ‘island of Elephanta’ near Mumbai.
  • The ‘City of Caves’, on an island in the Sea of Oman close to Bombay, contains a collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1987
  • Location in India – Maharsahtra

ELLORA CAVES:

  • These are the 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km, near Aurangabad, in Maharashtra.
  • Its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, illustrates the spirit of religious tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1983
  • Location in India – Aurangabad District of Maharashtra.

Great Living Chola Temples:

  • The Great Living Chola Temples were built by kings of the Chola Empire.
  • These temples stretched over all of south India and the nearby islands.
  • The site includes the three great Temples built in 11th and 12th century : the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram.
  • The Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram was built by Rajendra I.
  • The Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur was built by Raja Raj I
  • The Airavatesvara temple complex was built by Rajaraja II, at Darasuram.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1987
  • Location in India – South India and some islands

Fatehpur Sikri:

  • Built  by the Emperor Akbar.
  • Fatehpur Sikri (the City of Victory) was the capital of the Mughal Empire for few years.
  • The Fatehpur Sikri complex includes one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1986
  • Location in India –  U.P

Group of Monuments at Hampi:

  • Hampi was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar.
  • It has group of fabulously built Dravidian temples and palaces.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1986
  • Location in India – Karnataka, Bellary District

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram:

  •  Founded by the Pallava kings in the 7th and 8th centuries.
  • It is known especially for temples in the form of chariots, mandapas (cave sanctuaries), giant open-air reliefs such as the famous ‘Descent of the Ganges’, and the temple of Rivage, with thousands of sculptures to the glory of Shiva.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1984
  • Location in India – Tamil Nadu State, Chingleput District

Group of Monuments at Pattadakal:

  • Built in the 7th and 8th centuries under the Chalukya dynasty.
  • An impressive series of nine Hindu temples, as well as a Jain sanctuary is present there.
  • The Temple of Virupaksha, built c. 740 by Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband’s victory over the kings from the South is a masterpiece.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1987
  • Location in India – State of Karnataka, Bijapur District, Badami Taluk

Hill Forts of Rajasthan:

  • It includes six majestic forts in Chittorgarh; Kumbhalgarh; Sawai Madhopur; Jhalawar; Jaipur, and Jaisalmer.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 2013
  • Location in India – Rajasthan

Humayun’s Tomb:

  • It was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It inspired several major architectural innovations such as the Taj Mahal.
  • The tomb of Humayun was built by his widow, Biga Begum (Hajji Begum), in 1569-70. The chief architect was Mirak Mirza Ghiyath.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1993
  • Location in India – Delhi

Khajuraho Group of Monuments:

  • The temples at Khajuraho were built during the Chandella dynasty.
  • The temples fall into three distinct groups and belong to two different religions – Hinduism and Jainism.
  •  The Temple of Kandariya is  among the greatest masterpieces of Indian art.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1986
  • Location in India – M.P

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya:

  • The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is one of the four holy sites that is related to the life of Gautam Buddha.
  • The first temple was built by Asoka in the 3rd century B.C., and the present temple dates from the 5th or 6th centuries.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 2002
  • Location in India – Bihar

Mountain Railways of India:

  • This site includes three railways.
  • The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway , the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka Shimla Railway All three railways are still fully operational.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1999
  • Location in India – Agra, U.P

Nalanda Mahavira (Nalanda University, Bihar):

  • The Nalanda Mahavihara site is in the State of Bihar, in north-eastern India.
  • It comprises the archaeological remains of a monastic and scholastic institution dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE.
  • It includes stupas, shrines, viharas (residential and educational buildings) and important art works in stucco, stone and metal.
  • Nalanda stands out as the most ancient university of the Indian Subcontinent.
  • It engaged in the organized transmission of knowledge over an uninterrupted period of 800 years.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 2016
  • Location in India -Bihar

Qutb Minar and its Monuments:

  • The red sandstone tower of Qutb Minar is 72.5 m high. It was built in the 13th century
  • The surrounding archaeological area contains many  buildings, notably the magnificent Alai-Darwaza Gate, the masterpiece of Indo-Muslim art  and two mosques, including the Quwwatu’l-Islam mosque.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1993
  • Location in India – Delhi

Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat:

  • Rani-ki-Vav, on the banks of the Saraswati River, was initially built as a memorial to a king in the 11th century AD.
  • Rani-ki-Vav was built at the height of craftsmens’ ability in stepwell construction and the Maru-Gurjara architectural style, reflecting mastery of this complex technique and great beauty of detail and proportions.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 2014
  • Location in India – Patan, Gujrat

Red Fort Complex:

  • It was built b y Shahjahan.
  • The Red Fort Complex was built as the main palace fort of Shahjahanabad – the new capital of  Shah Jahan.
  • It has massive enclosing walls of red sandstone.
  • It is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546, with which it forms the Red Fort Complex.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 2007
  • Location in India – Delhi

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka:

  • The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are in the foothills of the Vindhyan Mountains.
  • There are five clusters of natural rock shelters, displaying paintings that rangesfrom the Mesolithic Period right through to the historical period.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 2003
  • Location in India – M.P

Sun Temple, Konârak:

  • The temple at Konarak is a monumental representation of the sun god Surya’s chariot.
  • Its 24 wheels are decorated with symbolic designs and it is led by a team of six horses.
  • It was Built in the 13th century and  it is one of India’s most famous Brahman sanctuaries.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1984
  • Location in India – Puri District, Odisha

Taj Mahal:

  • It was built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal.
  • The Taj Mahal is one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1983
  • Location in India – Agra, U.P

The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur:

  • The Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century.
  • Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, they represent several architectural and instrumental innovations.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 2010
  • Location in India – Jaipur, Rajasthan

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier,(The Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh )

  • Chosen from the work of Le Corbusier,the 17 sites(one of them is(The Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh) comprising this transnational serial property are spread over seven countries and are a testimonial to the invention of a new architectural language that made a break with the past. They were built over a period of a half-century, in the course of what Le Corbusier described as “patient research”.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 2016
  • Location in India – Chandigarh

List of World Heritage Sites in INDIA – Natural:

Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area:

  • This National Park in the western part of the Himalayan Mountains in the state of Himachal Pradesh is characterized by high alpine peaks, alpine meadows and riverine forests.
  • It is part of the Himalaya biodiversity hotspot. It includes 25 forest types along with a rich assemblage of fauna species, several of which are threatened.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 2014
  • Location in India – Kullu, Himachal Pradesh

Kaziranga National Park:

  • It is inhabited by the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses, as well as many mammals and thousands of birds.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1985
  • Location in India – Assam

Keoladeo National Park:

  • It is one of the major wintering areas for large numbers of aquatic birds from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia.
  • Around 364 species of birds, including the rare Siberian crane, have been recorded in the park.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1985
  • Location in India – Rajasthan

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary:

  • This  sanctuary is home to a great variety of wildlife, including many endangered species, such as the tiger, pygmy hog, Indian rhinoceros and Indian elephant.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1985
  • Location in India – Assam

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks:

  • India’s Valley of Flowers National Park is home to rare and endangered animals, including the Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, brown bear and blue sheep.
  • The gentle landscape of the Valley of Flowers National Park complements the rugged mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi National Park.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1988
  • Location in India – Uttaranchal

Sundarbans National Park:

  • It contains the world’s largest area of mangrove forests.
  • A number of rare or endangered species live in the park, including tigers, aquatic mammals, birds and reptiles.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 1987
  • Location in India – West Bengal

Western Ghats:

  • These are older than the Himalaya mountains.
  • The Western Ghats represents geomorphic features  with unique biophysical and ecological processes.
  • It also  is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity.
  • The forests of the site are home to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 2012
  • Location in India – South West Coast of India

Khangchendzonga National Park

  • Located at the heart of the Himalayan range in northern India (State of Sikkim), the Khangchendzonga National Park includes a unique diversity of plains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and spectacular, snow-capped mountains covered with ancient forests, including the world’s third highest peak, Mount Khangchendzonga.
  • Mythological stories are associated with this mountain and with a great number of natural elements (caves, rivers, lakes, etc.) that are the object of worship by the indigenous people of Sikkim.
  • The sacred meanings of these stories and practices have been integrated with Buddhist beliefs and constitute the basis for Sikkimese identity.
  • Year of Addition in UNESCO World Heritage List – 2016
  • Location in India – Sikkim

 

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