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Consulate General of India, Vancouver

Vol. 03, Special Edition January 04, 2019.

India in Vancouver Weekly Newsletter UNESCO World Heritage Sites – India

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Vol. 03, Special Edition, January 04, 2019.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites - India Kumbh Mela In 2003, the UNESCO General Conference adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage as an International treaty acknowledging that cultural heritage is more than tangible places, monuments and objects; it also encompasses traditions and living expressions. Intangible cultural heritage encompasses the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated with them that communities, groups and in some cases, individuals recognize as a part of their cultural heritage. Based on these criteria, UNESCO has identified the world’s largest congregation of pilgrims- the Kumbh Mela, as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2017, since people from all walks of life, without any discrimination of religion, cast and creed, participate in the festival with equal fervor. As a religious festival, the tolerance and inclusiveness that Kumbh Mela demonstrates has been recognized as especially valuable for the contemporary world. The Kumbh Mela is held at Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjan and Nasik every 3 years and is a monumental event in the States concerned. Kumbh Mela entered the World Heritage List in December 2017. Click on UNESCO for more details.

Khangchendzonga National Park (KNP) Located at the heart of the Himalayan range in northern India in the State of Sikkim, the Khangchendzonga National Park includes a unique diversity of plains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and spectacular, snow-capped mountains, rich in bio-diversity, while including the world’s third highest peak. The five treasures of the area from the wildlife point of view could well be the snow leopard, red panda, lammergeier, blood pheasant and rhododendron. These and many more high-altitude fauna and flora thrive in KNP’s habitat of pristine forests, lush green meadows dotted with wild flowers in spring and fast-flowing torrents of glacierfed rivers and streams. UNESCO recognition has given a further push to sustainable eco-tourism in the State of Sikkim. The site entered the World Heritage list on 17 July 2016.

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City of Ahmedabad The 606-year-old walled city of Ahmedabad, which was founded by emperor Ahmed Shah, has become India’s first World Heritage City. It presents a rich architectural heritage, notably the Bhadra citadel, the walls and gates of the Fort city and numerous mosques and tombs as well as important Hindu and Jain temples of Later periods. For over 600 years, Ahmedabad has stood for peace and unity with its elegant carvings in its Hindu and Jain temples as well as displaying some of the finest examples of Indo-Islamic architecture and Hindu Muslim art. Beyond this, it epitomizes the United Nation’s objective of sustainable development as it accelerates in its development. In this regard, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) started the Heritage Cell way back in 1996 to preserve the historical legacy of the city. The AMC launched the heritage movement with the active participation of the citizens of the city adhering to the UNESCO system of demands culminating in this achievement. Due to this recognition by UNESCO, Ahmedabad will see an influx of Heritage enthusiasts and focus in conservation of its “Living heritage”. The city entered the world heritage list on 12 July 2017.

The Ajanta Caves (1983) Maharashtra The Ajanta Caves (75°40’ N; 20°30’ E) are situated at a distance of 107 km north of Aurangabad, the district headquarters. The caves attained the name from a nearby village named Ajanta located about 12 km. These caves were discovered by an Army Officer in the Madras Regiment of the British Army in 1819 during one of his hunting expeditions. Instantly the discovery became very famous and Ajanta attained a very important tourist destination in the world. The caves, famous for its murals, are the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting. These caves are excavated in horse–shoe shaped bend of rock surface nearly 76 m in height overlooking a narrow stream known as Waghora. The location of this valley provided a calm and serene environment for the Buddhist monks who retreated at these secluded places during the rainy seasons. This retreat also provided them with enough time for furthering their religious pursuits through intellectual discourses for a considerably longer period. The caves were excavated in different periods (circa. 2nd century B.C. to 6th century A.D.) according to the necessity. Each cave was connected to the stream by a flight of steps, which are now almost obliterated, albeit traces of some could be noticed at some places. The Ajanta Caves entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1983.

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Agra Fort (1983), Uttar Pradesh Agra Fort is located (270 10’ 47’’N & 780 1’ 22’’ E) on the right bank of the river Yamuna in the city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the most important and robustly built stronghold of the Mughals, embellished with number of richly decorated buildings encompassing the imposing Mughal style of art and architecture. It was constructed by the third Mughal emperor Akbar on the remains of an ancient site known as Badalgarh. Sikandar Lodi (1487-1517) was the first Sultan of Delhi to shift his capital from Delhi to Agra. After Sikandar Lodi who died in 1517, his son Ibrahim Lodi held the fort for 9 years until he was defeated and killed in the battle of Panipat in 1526. Several palaces, wells and a mosque were built in the fort during the Lodi period. When Babur sent his son Humayun to Agra, he captured the fort and seized a vast treasure, which included the world famous ‘Koh-i-noor’ diamond as well. Babur built a baoli (step-wall) here. Humayun was coronated here in 1530. Nazam, a water-carrier (saqqa), who had saved Humayun from drowning, was crowned here as an emperor for half-a-day. After Humayun’s defeat at Bilgram in 1540, Sher Shah of the Sur dynasty occupied Agra fort and garrisoned it. The fort entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1983.

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984), Tamil Nadu Mamallapuram, the city of Mamalla, is after the title of great Pallava ruler Narasimhavarman-I (AD 630-68). It was a sea-port during the time of Periplus (1st century AD) and Ptolemy (AD 140) and many Indian colonists sailed to South-East Asia through this port town. While there is some evidence of architectural activity going back to the period of Mahendravarman-I (AD 60030), the father of Mamalla, most of the monuments like rock-cut rathas, sculptured scenes on open rocks like Arjuna's penance, the caves of Govardhanadhari and Mahishasuramardini, the Jala-Sayana Perumal temple (the sleeping Mahavishnu or Chakrin at the rear part of the Shore temple complex) are attributed to the period of Narasimhavarman-I Mamalla. Of the nine monolithic temples found in Mahabalipuram, the most important are Five Rathas known after the famous five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata fame. These monuments are carved out a single rock with choice of all known forms of plan and elevations. While the Dharmaraja, Arjuna and Draupadi rathas are square on plan, the Bhima and Ganesa rathas are rectangular and Sahadeva ratha apsidal. The Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1984.

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Taj Mahal (1983), Uttar Pradesh Taj Mahal, the pinnacle of Mughal architecture, was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1658), grandson of Akbar the great, in the memory of his queen Arjumand Bano Begum, entitled ‘Mumtaz Mahal’. Mumtaz Mahal was a niece of empress Nur Jahan and granddaughter of Mirza Ghias Beg I’timad-ud-Daula, wazir of emperor Jehangir. She was born in 1593 and died in 1631, during the birth of her fourteenth child at Burhanpur. Her mortal remains were temporarily buried in the Zainabad garden. Six months later, her body was transferred to Agra to be finally enshrined in the crypt of the main tomb of the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is the mausoleum of both Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan. The mausoleum is located on the right bank of the river Yamuna at a point where it takes a sharp turn and flows eastwards. Originally, the land where the Taj Mahal presently stands belonged to the Kachhwahas of Ajmer (Rajasthan). The land was acquired from them in lieu of four havelis as is testified by a court historian, Abdul Hamid Lahauri, in his work titled the BadshahNamah and the firmans (royal decrees). For construction, a network of wells was laid along the river line to support the huge mausoleum buildings. Masons, stonecutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome-builders and other artisans were requisitioned from the whole of the empire and also from Central Asia and Iran. While bricks for internal constructions were locally prepared, white marble for external use in veneering work was obtained from Makrana in Rajasthan. Semi-precious stones for inlay ornamentation were brought from distant regions of India, Ceylon and Afghanistan. Red sandstone of different tints was requisitioned from the neighboring quarries of Sikri, Dholpur, etc. It took 17 years for the monument complex to be completed in 1648. The Taj Mahal entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1983.

Ellora Caves (1983), Maharashtra The Ellora caves, locally known as ‘Verul Leni’ is located on the Aurangabad-Chalisgaon road at a distance of 30 km northnorthwest of Aurangabad, the district headquarters. The name Ellora itself inspires everyone as it represents one of the largest rock-hewn monastic-temple complexes in the entire world. Ellora is also world famous for the largest single monolithic excavation in the world, the great Kailasa (Cave 16). The visit to these caves is enjoyed maximum during monsoon, when every stream is filled with rainwater, and the entire environ is lush green. The monsoon is not only a season of rains in this part, the local visitors are attracted to visit these ideal locations to have a glimpse of the mother nature in full bloom. The caves are hewn out of the volcanic basaltic formation of Maharasthra, known as ‘Deccan Trap’, the term trap being of Scandinavian origin representing the step like formation of the volcanic deposits. The rock formation, on weathering has given rise to the appearance of terraces with flat summits. At Ellora, one can also have a glimpse of the channels (near Cave 32) through which the volcanic lava once flowed. These channels, due to overheating, have a characteristic brownish red colour. Similar rock was used in the construction of the Grishneshwar Temple nearby and also utilised for the flooring of the pathways at Bibi-ka-Maqbara. The Ellora Caves entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1983.

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Champaner-Pavagarh Archaeological Park (2004), Gujarat Champaner is located at a distance of 50 km from Baroda and at the foothill of the Pavagadh hill in Gujarat. The Pavagadh hill composed of reddish-yellow colored stone formation is one of the oldest rock formations in India. The hill rises to a height of nearly 800 m from the mean sea level. Pavagadh hill was a famous Hindu fortress under the Solanki kings of Gujarat followed by Khichi Chauhans. In 1484, Sultan Mahmud Begarah took possession of the fort and renamed it Muhammadabad. These monuments are located on the Mauliya plateau, which is situated on the hill. The earliest temple datable to 10th – 11th century is dedicated to Lakulisa of which only gudhamandapa and antarala is extant. Other temples belong to Hindu and Jaina sects and are datable to circa 13th – 15th centuries A.D. All the temples are of the Nagara style having garbhagriha, mandapa and an entrance porch. The historical monuments at Champaner consist of a series of fortifications, some of which originate on the hill top and end on the plains. The fortification is consisted of massive sandstones with intermediate bastions with beautiful balconies. Out of the massive ruins, five mosques are still in good condition. The most important among them is the Jama Masjid which is located 50 east of the royal enclosure. The structures represent a perfect blend of Hindu-Moslem architecture, mainly in the Great Mosque (Jami Masjid), which was a model for later mosque architecture in India. This special style comes from the significant period of regional sultanates. Champaner-Pavagarh Archaeological Park entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 2004.

Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh Sanchi, variously known as Kakanaya, Kakanava, Kakanadabota and Bota-Sriparvata in ancient times, has a singular distinction of having remarkable specimen of Buddhist art and architecture right from the early Mauryan period (c. third century BC to twelfth century AD). Sanchi is famous in the world for stupas, monolithic Asokan pillar, temples, monasteries and sculptural wealth. It was Emperor Asoka who laid the foundations of a religious centre at Sanchi fascinated probably by the location of the hill or because of his Queen Devi, who was the daughter of a merchant of Vidisha. He erected the Great Stupa (Stupa 1) here after redistribution of mortal remains of Lord Buddha for erecting several stupas all over the country in order to spread Buddhism. This stupa was originally a low structure of brick, half the diameter of the present edifice hemispherical in shape with raised terraces at the base. It was enclosed by a wooden railing and a stone umbrella at the top. This Great Stupa served as a nucleus to the large Buddhist establishment during the later period. The Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1989.

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Prehistoric Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are located about 45 km south east of Bhopal on the road to Hoshangabad. The site spread over 10 km in length and about 3 km in width has more than 700 rock shelters, of which over 400 have paintings. The earliest human activities are known from the numerous stone tools including handaxes, cleavers and also the pebble tools. The latter pertinently was found in primary contexts. The continuity of human evolution from the Lower Palaeolithic Period is noticed by the smaller size of stone tools in the following Middle Palaeolithic Period besides new tools like scrapers. During the Upper Palaeolithic Period newer tool types like: blades, borers and burins had also emerged. However, it is in the Mesolithiic Period that there is a clear change in the materials and tool typology. Earlier, the tools were largely made of quartzite and sandstone, whereas the tools being made in the Mesolithic Period were most often of chalcedony. The stone tools of this period include blades, triangles, trapezes, crescents besides quern and muller. The Mesolithic culture at Bhimbetka continued much longer as understood by the presence of Chalcolithic potteries in otherwise Mesolithic contexts. By the Early Historic times it appears that interaction with the surrounding cultures became more pronounced. This is evidenced by the presence of rock-cut beds in a rock shelter on the top portion of an inselberg like outcrop not far from the later built temple at this site. In all respect it resembles the Sallekhana spots observed in South India. The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 2003.

(General view of the rock outcrops, Bhimbetka)

(Depiction of animals and humans, Zoo Rock, Bhimbetka)

Churches and Convents of Goa

The Churches and Convents at Velha (Old) Goa owe their existence to the Portuguese rule in this part of the western coast of India. The most comprehensive group of churches and cathedrals built during 16th to 17th century AD at Old Goa comprise of the following: Se' Cathedral, Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, Chapel of St. Catherine, Basilica of Bom Jesus; Church of Lady of Rosary; Church of St. Augustine. The Church of St. Cajetan is modelled on the original design of St. Peter's Church in Rome. The Church of Bom Jesus with its facade decorated with Ionic, Doric and Corinthian pilasters, shows the application of the Classical order. The Se' Cathedral which was begun as a small chapel built of mud and straw under the order of Alfonso Albuquerque after his conquest of Goa is yet another example of Renaissance with its Tuscan exterior, the Corinthian columns at its portals, the raised platform with steps leading to the entrance and the barrel-vault above the nave. The principal chapel is large and ornamented with engraved pillars and pilasters. The images of Senhora d’Esperanca (Our Lady of Hope), Christ crucified and St. Catherine standing in the centre with statues of St. Peter and St. Paul on either side. The Churches and Convents of Goa entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1986.

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Sun Temple, Konarak, Orissa Built in the thirteenth century, it was conceived as a gigantic solar chariot with twelve pairs of exquisitely-ornamented wheels dragged by seven rearing horses. The temple comprised a sanctum with a lofty (presumably over 68 m. high) sikhara, a jagamohana (30. m. square and 30. m. high) and a detached nata-mandira (hall of dance) in the same axis, besides numerous subsidiary shrines. The sanctum and the nata-mandira have lost their roof. The nata-mandira exhibits a more balanced architectural design than that of other Orissan temples. The sanctum displays superb images of the Sun-god in the three projections which are treated as miniature shrines. The sanctum and the jagamohana together stand on a common platform studded with an intricate wealth of decorative ornaments and sculptures, often of a highly erotic type. The roof of the jagamohana, made of horizontal tiers grouped in three stages with life-size female sculptures of matchless charm and delicacy adorning each stage, the whole surmounted by two stupendous crowning members, produces a picturesque contrast of light and shade and is unparalleled for its grandeur and structural propriety. Majestic in conception, this temple is indeed one of the sublimest monuments of India, notable as much for its imposing dimensions and faultless proportions as for the harmonious integration of architectural grandeur with plastic elegance. The Sun Temple entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1984.

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Qutb Minar and Its Monuments, Delhi Qutb-Minar in red and buff standstone is the highest tower in India. It has a diameter of 14.32 m at the base and about 2.75 m on the top with a height of 72.5 m. Qutbu'd-Din Aibak laid the foundation of Minar in AD 1199 for the use of the mu'azzin (crier) to give calls for prayer and raised the first storey, to which were added three more storeys by his successor and son-in-law, Shamsu'd-Din Iltutmish (AD 1211-36). All the storeys are surrounded by a projected balcony encircling the minar and supported by stone brackets, which are decorated with honey-comb design, more conspicuously in the first storey. The Qutb Minar and its Monuments entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1993.

Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra The Elephanta Caves (180 56’ 20” N; 720 55’ 50” E), taluka Uran, district Raigad is located on island hills about 11 km north-east of the Apollo Bandar, Mumbai and 7 km from the shore of the mainland, approximately covering an area of 7 km in circumference. The island is named after a colossal elephant found in the island, which is popularly known as ‘Gharapuri’. At present, the statue of elephant is housed at Jijamata Garden in Mumbai. In ancient period, the place is variously identified as Puri which is mentioned in the Aihole inscription of Pulakesin II. It seems, different dynasties held their sway over this island, namely, the Konkan-Mauryas, Trikutakas, Chalukyas of Badami, Silaharas, Rashtrakutas, Kalyani Chalukyas, Yadavas of Deogiri, Muslim rulers of Ahmedabad and then by the Portuguese. The Marathas also had this island under their control and from them it passed into the control of the British. There are seven cave excavations in the Elephanta group and these are datable from circa 6th – 7th centuries A.D. Among the cave excavations, the Cave 1 is the most impressive which represents the evolved Brahmanical rock-cut architecture. The cave is also famous for the exquisite and vibrant sculptures. On plan it almost resembles the Dumar Lena (Cave 29) of Ellora. The cave has a main entrance on the north with two other openings on the east and west respectively and a central hall with six rows of pillared columns, six in each row except on the western corner, where a shrine of lingam is provided. Elephanta Caves (1987), Maharashtra entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1987.

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Humayun's Tomb, Delhi Humayun died in 1556, and his widow Hamida Banu Begam, also known as Haji Begam, commenced the construction of his tomb in 1569, fourteen years after his death. It is the first distinct example of proper Mughal style, which was inspired by Persian architecture. It is well known that Humayun picked up the principles of Persian architecture during his exile, and he himself is likely to have planned the tomb, although there is no record to that effect. The tomb was constructed at a cost of 15 lakh rupees (1.5 million). Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian, was the architect employed by Haji Begam for this tomb. The tomb proper stands in the centre of a square garden, divided into four main parterres by causeways (charbagh), in the centre of which ran shallow waterchannels. The high rubble-built enclosure is entered through two lofty double-storeyed gateways on the west and south. A baradari (pavilion) occupies the centre of the eastern wall and a hammam (bath chamber) in the centre of northern wall. The square red sandstone double-storeyed structure of the mausoleum with chamfered corners rises from a 7-m. high square terrace, raised over a series of cells, which are accessible through, arches on each side. The grave proper in the centre of this cell-complex is reached by a passage on the south. The octagonal central chamber contains the cenotaph, and the diagonal sides lead to corner-chambers which house the graves of other members of the royal family. Externally each side of the tomb, its elevations decorated by marble borders and panels, is dominated by three arched alcoves, the central one being the highest. Over the roof pillared kiosks are disposed around the high emphatic double dome in the centre. The central octagonal chamber contains the cenotaph, encompassed by octagonal chambers at the diagonals and arched lobbies on the sides. Their openings are closed with perforated screens. Each side is dominated by three arches, the central one being the highest. This plan is repeated on the second storey too. The roof surmounted by a double dome (42.5m) of marble has pillared kiosks (chhatris) placed around it. The mausoleum is a synthesis of Persian architecture and Indian traditions-the former exemplified by the arched alcoves, corridors and the high double dome, and the latter by the kiosks, which give it a pyramidal outline from distance. Although Sikandar Lodi's tomb was the first garden-tomb to be built in India, it is Humayun's tomb which set up a new vogue, the crowning achievement of which is the Taj at Agra. There is also a somewhat common human impetus behind these two edificesone erected by a devoted wife for her husband and the other by an equally or more devoted husband for his wife. Several rulers of the Mughal dynasty lie buried here. Bahadur Shah Zafar had taken refuge in this tomb with three princes during the first war of Independence (AD 1857). On the southwestern side of the tomb is located barber's tomb (Nai-ka-Gumbad) which stands on a raised platform, reached by seven steps from the south. The building is square on plan and consists of a single compartment covered with a double-dome. The Humayun's Tomb, Delhi entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1993.

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Group of Monuments at Hampi, Karnataka Traditionally known as Pampakshetra of Kishkindha, Hampi is situated on the southern bank of the river Tungabhadra. Once it was the seat of the mighty Vijayanagara empire. The monuments of Vijayanagara city, also known as Vidyanagara in honour of the sage Vidyaranya were built between AD 1336-1570, from the times of Harihara-I to Sadasiva Raya. A large number of royal buildings were raised by Krishnadeva Raya (AD 1509-30), the greatest ruler of the dynasty. The period witnessed resurgence of Hindu religion, art, architecture in an unprecedented scale. The contemporary chroniclers who came from far off countriessuch as Arabia, Italy, Portugal and Russia visited the empire, have left graphic and glowing accounts of the city. It covers an area of nearly 26 sq km and is stated to be enclosed by seven lines of fortifications. Group of Monuments at Hampi entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1986.

Great Living Chola Temples, Tamil Nadu The celebrated Saiva temple at Thanjavur, appropriately called Brihadisvara and Daksinameru, is the grandest creation of the Chola emperor Rajaraja (AD 985-1012). It was inaugurated by the king himself in his 19th regnal year (AD 1009-10) and named it after himself as Rajesvara Peruvudaiyar. Architecturally, it is the most ambitious structural temple built of granite. It has been regarded as a ‘landmark in the evolution of building art in south India’ and its vimana as a ‘touchstone of Indian architecture as a whole’. The temple is within a spacious inner prakara of 240.9 m long (east-west) and 122 m broad (north-south), with a gopura at the east and three others ordinary torana entrances one at each lateral side and the third at rear. The prakara is surrounded by a double-storeyed malika with parivaralayas. The temple with its massive proportions and simplicity of design provided inspiration for future designs in constructions not only in south India but also in south-east Asia. The sikhara, a cupolic dome, is octagonal and rests on a single block of granite, a square of 7.8 m weighing 80 tons. The majestic upapitha and adhishthana are common to all the axially placed entities like the ardha-maha and mukha-mandapas and linked to the main sanctum but approached through a north-south transept across the ardha-mandapa which is marked by lofty sopanas. The moulded plinth is extensively engraved with inscriptions by its royal builder who refers to his many endowments, pious acts and organisational events connected to the temple. The brihad-linga within the sanctum is 8.7 m high. Life-size iconographic representations on the wall niches and inner passages include Durga, Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Bhikshatana, Virabhadra, Kalantaka, Natesa, Ardhanarisvara and Alingana forms of Siva. The mural paintings on the walls of the lower ambulatory inside are finest examples of Chola and later periods which depict the contemporaneous scenes with legendary ones. Sarfoji, a local Maratha ruler, rebuilt the Ganapati shrine. The celebrated Thanjavur School of paintings of the Nayakas is largely superimposed over the Chola murals. The temple is rich in iconography as well as inscriptions which provide an account of events showing achievements, financial arrangements, donations and bearing an impression of contemporary society. The Great Living Chola Temples entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1987.

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Group of Temples, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh Khajuraho, the ancient Kharjjura-vahaka represent today a distinct pattern of art and temple architecture of its own reminding one of the rich and creative period it witnessed during the Chandella rule. It was the principal seat of authority of the Chandella rulers who adorned it with numerous tanks, scores of lofty temples of sculptural grace and architectural splendour. The local tradition lists eighty-five temples but now only twenty-five are standing examples in various stages of preservation. But for Chausath-Yogini, Brahma and Mahadeva which are of granite, all the other temples are of fine grained sandstone, buff, pink or pale yellow in colour. Yasovarman (AD 954) built the temple of Vishnu, now famous as Lakshmana temple is an ornate and evolved example of its time proclaiming the prestige of the Chandellas. The Visvanatha, Parsvanatha and Vaidyanatha temples belong to the time of king Dhanga, the successor of Yasovarman. The Jagadambi, Chitragupta, are noteworthy among the western group of royal temples of Khajuraho. The largest and grandest temple of Khajuraho is the immortal Kandariya Mahadeva which is attributed to king Ganda (AD 1017-29). The other examples that followed viz., Vamana, Adinatha, Javari, Chaturbhuj and Duladeo, are smaller but elaborately designed. The Khajuraho groups of temples are noted for lofty terraces (jagati) and functionally effective plans comprising of an ardhamandapa, acting as entrance generally adorned with makara torana and kakshasana, the mandapa, as the hall with antarala leading to garbha griha or sanctum. The larger temples have mahamandapas in front of the ardhamandapa. They also have minor shrines at four corners and thus categorized as pancayatana. The exterior of the temples are richly decorated. In contrast, Javari and Brahma temples are simpler creations. The sculptural embellishments include, besides the cult images; parivara, parsva, avarana devatas, dikpalas, the apsarases and sura-sundaris which win universal admiration for their delicate, youthful female forms of ravishing beauty. The attire and ornamentation embrace the winsome grace and charm. The recent excavation at Bija Mandal in Jatkara near Khajuraho has revealed the remains of a huge temple base datable to 11th century A.D. which extends over 4 m than the largest known temple (Kandariya Mahadeo Temple). An exquisite image of Sarasvati was also found from here. The Group of Temples, Khajuraho entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1986. Picture

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Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, Karnataka Chalukyan rulers were not only empire builders, but great patrons of art whose encouragement prompted the artists and craftsmen to experiment and innovate in different architectural styles and giving it a new dimension. It is in their period that transition from rock-cut medium to structural temples took place. Pattadakal located in Bijapur district of Karnataka was not only popular for Chalukyan architectural activities but also a holy place for royal coronation, ‘Pattadakisuvolal’. Temples constructed here mark the blending of the Rekha, Nagara, Prasada and the Dravida Vimana styles of temple building. The oldest temple at Pattadakal is Sangamesvara built by Vijayaditya Satyasraya (AD 697-733). The other notable temples at Pattadakal are the Kadasiddhesvara, Jambulingeswara both attributed to 7th century A.D. while Galaganatha temple was built a century later in the style of rekha nagara prasada. The Kasivisvesvara temple was the last to be built in early Chalukyan style. The Mallikarjuna temple was constructed by Rani Trilokyamahadevi to celebrate the victory over the Pallavas by Vikramaditya II. She is also credited to have built the Virupaksha temple influenced by the architecture of the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram. The Virupaksha temple later served as a model for the Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna I (757 -783 A.D.) to carve out the great Kailasa at Ellora. However, the last addition at Pattadakal was made during the reign of Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna II of the 9th century A.D. in form of a Jaina temple, locally famous as Jaina Narayana, with its two lower storeys functional. The sculptural art of the early Chalukyas is characterised by grace and delicate details. The ceiling panels of the navagrahas, dikpalas, the dancing Nataraja, the wall niches containing Lingodbhava, Ardhanarisvara, Tripurari, Varahavishnu, Trivikrama bear ample testimony to the sculptor’s skill as well as the cult worship in vogue. The narrative relief illustrating certain episodes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and Panchatantra fitted well with these grand religious edifices. The Sangamesvara, Virupaksha and Mallikarjuna temples at Pattadakkal exhibit to a large degree the southerly elements in their vimanas, as crystallized in the contemporary Pallava temples. The Sangamesvara, the earliest of the three, built by Chalukya Vijayaditya (697-733), is nearer the Pallava form in that it has no sukanasika, while the other two, which possess this, are the earliest of the Chalukyan type and its derivatives possessing this architectural member, as also does the Kailasa at Ellora. Both the Sangamesvara and the larger Virupaksha are similar to each other in being square on plan from the base to sikhara. The Virupaksha, built by the queen of Vikramaditya II (733-46), is the earliest dated temple with the sukanasika, being closely followed by the Mallikarjuna, built by another queen of the same king. The main vimana of the Sangamesvara is of three storeys. The lowermost storey is surrounded by two walls, the inner and outer, the second storey being an upward projection of the inner wall, while the outer wall encloses the covered circumambulatory round the sanctum. The Virupaksha is a large complex consisting of a tall vimana with axial mandapas and peripheral sub-shrines round the court, enclosed by a wall with gopura-entrances in front and behind, all designed and completed at one time. As such, this is the earliest extant temple-complex in the Chalukyan series. The massive gopuras are also the earliest. The compound-wall of the complex, following the plan of the group itself, has on its coping kuta and said-heads, suggestive of a derivation from the Shore-temple at Mahabalipuram-a device which gives the impression of a lower storey when viewed from a distance. The Mallikarjuna, built immediately after and close to the Virupaksha, is a smaller temple with a four-storeyed vimana with a circular griva and sikhara. It has more or less a similar plan. The Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, Karnataka entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1987.

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Vol. 03, Special Edition, January 04, 2019.

Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area, Himachal Pradesh This National Park in the western part of the Himalayan Mountains in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh is characterized by high alpine peaks, alpine meadows and riverine forests. The 90,540 ha property includes the upper mountain glacial and snow meltwater sources of several rivers, and the catchments of water supplies that are vital to millions of downstream users. The GHNPCA protects the monsoon-affected forests and alpine meadows of the Himalayan front ranges. It is part of the Himalaya biodiversity hotspot and includes twenty-five forest types along with a rich assemblage of fauna species, several of which are threatened. This gives the site outstanding significance for biodiversity conservation. The Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area, Himachal Pradesh entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 2014.

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam Manas takes its name from the Goddess Manasa. The site is noted for its spectacular scenery, with a variety of habitat types that support a diverse fauna, making it the richest of all Indian wildlife areas. The park represents the core of an extensive tiger reserve that protects an important migratory wildlife resource along the West Bengal to Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan borders. Its wetlands are of international importance. Lying in the foothills of the Outer Himalaya, the area is low-lying and flat. The Manas River flows through the western portion of the park, where it splits into three separate rivers, and joins the Brahmaputra some 64 km further south. These and other rivers running through the tiger reserve carry an enormous amount of silt and rock debris from the foothills, resulting from the heavy rainfall, fragile nature of the rock and steep-gradients of the catchments. This leads to the formation of alluvial terraces, comprising deep layers of deposited rock and detritus overlain with sand and soil of varying depth, shifting river channels and swamps. The area of the Boki basin, in the west of the park, is sometimes inundated during the monsoon. The three main types of vegetation are: tropical semi-evergreen forests in the northern part of the park; tropical moist and dry deciduous forests (the most common type); and extensive alluvial grasslands in the western part of the park. The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1985.

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Vol. 03, Special Edition, January 04, 2019.

Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh Sikri an extension of the upper Vindhyan ranges is situated on the bank of a large natural lake, which has now mostly dried up. It is a pre-historic site and, with abundant water, forest and raw material, it was ideal for primitive man’s habitation. Rock shelters with paintings exist on the periphery of the lake. Stone age tools have been found in this area. Ochre Colored Pottery (c. 2nd millennium B.C.) and Painted Grey Ware (c.1200-800 B.C.) have also been discovered from here. Sikri has been mentioned in the Mahabharata as ‘Saik’. Lexicons define ‘Saik’ as a region surrounded by water. An inscription found on the stone sculpture of Jaina Saraswati (dated 1067 Vikram Samvat = 1010 A.D.) mentions this place as ‘Sekrikya’, which seems to be a similar derivative. All this shows that Sikri was continuously inhabited since the prehistoric period. Fatehpur Sikri entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1986.

Mahabodhi Temple Complex, Bihar Bodh Gaya is associated with the enlightenment of Lord Buddha (566-486 B.C.). The sacred Bodhi tree under which he is believed to have attained enlightenment. The place is highly venerated by the Buddhists. Emperor Asoka visited Bodh Gaya around 260 B.C. and constructed a small temple near the Bodhi tree. An inscription datable to 1st – 2nd century A.D. mentions that the temple of Asoka was replaced by a new one. Fahien first makes reference to the main temple and the Bodhi tree in 404-05 A.D. Hieun Tsang, who visited the site in 637 A.D. mentions the presence of walls surrounding the Bodhi tree, within which stood the Mahabodhi temple nearly 160 feet tall and a large fine sanctuary. Several additions and alterations took place and the present temple may be datable to the 6th century A.D. The temple fell into disuse in the 13th century A.D. after the conquest of this region by the Delhi Sultanate. During the 19th century, the Burmese kings made certain repairs which were continued by the British in 1880-84. The temple covers an area of nearly 4.8 hectares and 55 m in height. The sanctum carries a lofty pancharatha sikhara of a straight-edged pyramidal design, demarcated into seven storeys by bhumi-amalakas (amalakas occurring at the corners of the sikhara to denote storeys). The Mahabodhi Temple Complex, Bihar entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 2002.

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Vol. 03, Special Edition, January 04, 2019.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) Mumbai, Maharashtra Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is an outstanding example of late 19th-century railway architecture in the British Commonwealth, characterized by Victorian Gothic Revival and traditional Indian features, as well as its advanced structural and technical solutions. It became a symbol for Bombay (now Mumbai) as a major mercantile port city on the Indian subcontinent within the British Commonwealth. The site on which this property is situated is associated with the origins of Mumbai as a city. Bombay Island had formed a coastal outpost of the Hindu in western India, but was not used for commerce. It was first passed to the Portuguese and then, in 1661, to the British. In 1667, the island was transferred to the East India Company, who was principally responsible for its commercial development. Merchants settled here from elsewhere, and the shipbuilding industry and the cotton trade prospered. The town flourished, especially after the building of railway connections with the inland and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. With the development of trade, the Governor of Bombay planned a series of works aiming at the construction of a more representative city. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 2002.

Red Fort Complex, New Delhi The Red Fort Complex was built as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad – the new capital of the fifth Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan. Named for its 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. The private apartments consist of a row of pavilions connected by a continuous water channel, known as the Nahr-i-Behisht (Stream of Paradise). The Red Fort is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity which, under the Shah Jahan, was brought to a new level of refinement. The planning of the palace is based on Islamic prototypes, but each pavilion reveals architectural elements typical of Mughal building, reflecting a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions The Red Fort’s innovative planning and architectural style, including the garden design, strongly influenced later buildings and gardens in Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra and further afield. The planning and design of the Red Fort represents a culmination of architectural development initiated in 1526 AD by the first Mughal Emperor and brought to a splendid refinement by Shah Jahan with a fusion of traditions: Islamic, Persian, Timurid and Hindu. The innovative planning arrangements and architectural style of building components as well as garden design developed in the Red Fort strongly influenced later buildings and gardens in Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra and further afield. The Red Fort has been the setting for events which have had a critical impact on its geo-cultural region. The Red Fort Complex, New Delhi entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 2007. 15 | P a g e

Vol. 03, Special Edition, January 04, 2019.

Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan The site is situated in eastern Rajasthan, the park is 2 km south-east of Bharatpur and 50 km west of Agra. The area consists of a flat patchwork of marshes in the Gangetic plain, artificially created in the 1850s and maintained ever since by a system of canals, sluices and dykes. Normally, water is fed into the marshes twice a year from inundations of the Gambira and Banganga rivers, which are impounded on arable land by means of an artificial dam called Ajan Bund, to the south of the park. The first time, usually in mid-July, is soon after the onset of the monsoon and the second time is in late September or October when Ajan Bund is drained ready for cultivation in winter. Thus, the area is flooded to a depth of 1-2 m throughout the monsoon (July-September), after which the water level drops. From February onwards, the land begins to dry out and by June only some water remains. For much of the year the area of wetland is only 1,000 ha. Soils are predominantly alluvial - some clay has formed as a result of the periodic inundations. The Keoladeo National Park entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1985.

Hill Forts, Rajastahan The serial site, situated in the state of Rajastahan, includes six majestic forts in Chittorgarh; Kumbhalgarh; Sawai Madhopur; Jhalawar; Jaipur, and Jaisalmer. The ecclectic architecture of the forts, some up to 20 kilometres in circumference, bears testimony to the power of the Rajput princely states that flourished in the region from the 8th to the 18th centuries. Enclosed within defensive walls are major urban centres, palaces, trading centres and other buildings including temples that often predate the fortifications within which developed an elaborate courtly culture that supported learning, music and the arts. Some of the urban centres enclosed in the fortifications have survived, as have many of the site's temples and other sacred buildings. The forts use the natural defenses offered by the landscape: hills, deserts, rivers, and dense forests. They also feature extensive water harvesting structures, largely still in use today. The Hill Forts entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1985.

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Vol. 03, Special Edition, January 04, 2019.

Rani-ki-Vav (The Queen’s Stepwell), Patan, Gujarat Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat is located on the banks of the Saraswati River and was initially built as a memorial to a king in the 11th century AD. Stepwells are a distinctive form of subterranean water resource and storage systems on the Indian subcontinent, and have been constructed since the 3rd millennium BC. They evolved over time from what was basically a pit in sandy soil towards elaborate multi-storey works of art and architecture. 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. Designed as an inverted temple highlighting the sanctity of water, it is divided into seven levels of stairs with sculptural panels of high artistic quality; more than 500 principle sculptures and over a thousand minor ones combine religious, mythological and secular imagery, often referencing literary works. The fourth level is the deepest and leads into a rectangular tank of 9.5 by 9.4 metres, at a depth of 23 metres. The well is located at the westernmost end of the property and consists of a shaft, 10 metres in diameter and 30 metres deep. The Hill Forts entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 2014.

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Western Ghats Older than the Himalaya mountains, the mountain chain of the Western Ghats represents geomorphic features of immense importance with unique biophysical and ecological processes. The site’s high montane forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern. Moderating the tropical climate of the region, the site presents one of the best examples of the monsoon system on the planet. It also has an exceptionally high level of biological diversity and endemism and is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. The forests of the site include some of the best representatives of non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests anywhere and are home to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species. The Western Ghats entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 2012.

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Vol. 03, Special Edition, January 04, 2019.

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks The Nanda Devi National Park is one of the most spectacular wilderness areas in the Himalayas. It is dominated by the peak of Nanda Devi, which rises to over 7,800 m. No people live in the park, which has remained more or less intact because of its inaccessibility. It is the habitat of several endangered mammals, especially the snow leopard, Himalayan musk deer and bharal. The park lies in Chamoli district, within the Garhwal Himalaya. It comprises the catchment area of the Rishi Ganga, an eastern tributary of Dhauli Ganga which flows into the Alaknanda River at Joshimath. The area is a vast glacial basin, divided by a series of parallel, north-south oriented ridges. These rise up to the encircling mountain rim along which are about a dozen peaks, the better known including Dunagiri, Changbang and Nanda Devi East. Nanda Devi West, India's second-highest mountain, lies on a short ridge projecting into the basin and rises up from Nanda Devi East on the eastern rim. Trisul, in the south-west, also lies inside the basin. The upper Rishi Valley, often referred to as the 'Inner Sanctuary', is fed by Changbang, North Rishi and North Nanda Devi glaciers to the north and by South Nanda Devi and South Rishi glaciers to the south of the Nanda Devi massif. There is an impressive gorge cutting through the DevistanRishikot ridge below the confluence of the North and South Rishi rivers. The Trisuli and Ramani glaciers are features of the lower Rishi Valley or 'Outer Sanctuary', below which the Rishi Ganga enters the narrow, steep-sided lower gorge. The Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1988. (Sources: and

Kaziranga National Park (Assam) In the heart of Assam, this park is one of the last areas in eastern India undisturbed by a human presence. It is inhabited by the world's largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses, as well as many mammals, including tigers, elephants, panthers and bears, and thousands of birds. The site is on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra River at the foot of the Mikir Hills. The park lies in the flood plains of the Brahmaputra. The riverine habitat consists primarily of tall, dense grasslands interspersed with open forests, interconnecting streams and numerous small lakes (bheels ). Three-quarters or more of the area is submerged annually by the flood waters of the Brahmaputra. Soils are alluvial deposits of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. There are three main types of vegetation: alluvial inundated grasslands, tropical wet evergreen forests and tropical semi-evergreen forests. Grasslands predominate in the west, with tall 'elephant' grasses on the higher ground and short grasses on the lower ground surrounding the bheels .

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They have been maintained by annual flooding and burning over thousands of years. Tropical wet evergreen forests, near Kanchanjhuri, Panbari and Tamulipathar blocks, are dominated by trees. Tropical semi-evergreen forests occur near Baguri, Bimali and Haldibari. The Kaziranga National Park entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1985.

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Vol. 03, Special Edition, January 04, 2019.

Sundarbans National Park (West Bengal) The site lies south-east of Calcutta in the District of West Bengal and forms part of the Gangetic Delta, which borders on the Bay of Bengal. The Sundarbans, covering some 10,000 km2 of mangrove forest and water, is part of the world's largest delta formed from sediments deposited by three great rivers, the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna, which converge on the Bengal Basin. The whole Sundarbans area is intersected by an intricate network of interconnecting waterways, of which the larger channels are often a kilometre or two in width and run in a north-south direction. These waterways now carry little freshwater as they are mostly cut off from the Ganges, the outflow of which has shifted from the HooghlyBhagirathi channels progressively eastwards since the 17th century. This is due to subsidence of the Bengal Basin and a gradual eastward tilting of the overlying crust. In the Indian Sundarbans, the western portion receives some freshwater through the Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system but that portion designated as the tiger reserve is essentially land-locked, its rivers having (Sources: and become almost completely cut off from the main freshwater sources over the last 600 years. Thus, waterways in the tiger reserve are maintained largely by the diurnal tidal flow, the average rise and fall being about 2.15 m on the coast and up to 5.68 m on Sagar Island. The Sundarbans National Park entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1987.

Mountain Railways of India This site includes three railways. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was the first, and is still the most outstanding, example of a hill passenger railway. Opened in 1881, its design applies bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. The construction of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a 46-km long metre-gauge single-track railway in Tamil Nadu State was first proposed in 1854, but due to the difficulty of the mountainous location the work only started in 1891 and was completed in 1908. This railway, scaling an elevation of 326 m to 2,203 m, represented the latest technology of the time. The Kalka Shimla Railway, a 96-km long, single track working rail link built in the mid-19th century to provide a service to the highland town of Shimla is emblematic of the technical and material efforts to disenclave mountain populations through the railway. All three railways are still fully operational. Mountain Railways of India entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1999.

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Vol. 03, Special Edition, January 04, 2019.

The Jantar Mantar The Jantar Mantar, in Jaipur, is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century. It includes a set of some 20 main fixed instruments. They are monumental examples in masonry of known instruments but which in many cases have specific characteristics of their own. Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, they embody several architectural and instrumental innovations. This is the most significant, most comprehensive, and the best preserved of India’s historic observatories. It is an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period. The Jantar Mantar entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 2010.

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Consulate Weekly Vol 03 Special Edition - UNESCO World Heritage Sites – India  
Consulate Weekly Vol 03 Special Edition - UNESCO World Heritage Sites – India