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Now, 40 Indian sites on UNESCO World Heritage list

Inscribing of the Kakatiya Rudreshwara Temple in Telangana and the Harappan city of Dholavira in Gujarat into the prestigious list, bodes well for boosting India’s image as a destination with diverse heritage and culture.

The World Heritage Committee’s 44th session, which has been on since July 16 and will continue until the end of the month in Fuzhou, China, is being chaired by Tian Xuejun, China’s Vice Minister for Education and Director of China’s National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The committee seeks to encourage the identification, protection, and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972. 

While the traditional Telengana temple was announced as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 25, the addition of the Harappan complex of Dholavira to the UNESCO list was today’s breaking news. Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy tweeted, “It gives immense pride to share with my fellow Indians that #Dholavira is now the 40th treasure in India to be given UNESCO’s World Heritage Inscription. Another feather in India’s cap as we now enter the Super-40 club for World Heritage Site inscriptions. Today is a proud day for India, especially for the people of Gujarat.”

The two newly inscribed World Heritage Sites offer great insight into the knowledge and ways of life of earlier societies, customs, and communities. Here’s what you need to know about both, for whenever you plan to explore either…

UNESCO, world heritage list

The Rudreshwara temple

What: Popularly known as Ramappa Temple, it’s the main Shiva temple in a walled complex built during the Kakatiyan period (1123–1323 CE) under rulers Rudradeva and Recharla Rudra.

Where: In Palampet village, about 200 km north-east of Hyderabad, in the State of Telangana.

When: Construction of the sandstone temple began in 1213 CE and is believed to have continued over some 40 years.

Why: Whether you go for its religious significance or its stunning heritage architecture, this one is definitely worth a visit.

UNESCO, world heritage list
The temple complex has many heritage treasures.
UNESCO, world heritage list

The ancient city of Dholavira

What: Part of the Indus Valley civilisation, this city is one of the most remarkable and well-preserved urban settlements in South Asia.

When: Built between the third to the middle of the second millennium BCE, the archaeological site of the ancient city was rediscovered in 1968.
How: About 4500 years ago, Dholavira was a huge centre for trade and commerce, with sea links to other ancient civilisations. The site is set apart by its unique characteristics, such as its water management system, multi-layered defensive mechanisms, extensive use of stone in construction and special burial structures. Of note is also the art associated with the city – artefacts of various kinds such as copper, shell, stone, jewellery of semi-precious stones, terracotta, gold, ivory have been found at the site.
Why: To see the well-preserved remnants of a great city, with wide roads, a central citadel, huge water reservoirs and a splendid step well that is said to be three times as large as the Great Bath in Mohenjodaro in Pakistan. What could be the world’s oldest signboard (carved in stone) can also be seen here today.

UNESCO, world heritage list
The walls of a home from almost 5000 years ago. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

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