Gujarat’s Vadnagar town, the iconic Sun Temple at Modhera, and the rock cut sculptures of Unakoti in Tripura have been added to the tentative list of UNCESO World Heritage Sites. A Tentative List is an inventory of those properties which each State Party intends to consider for nomination.

 

About UNESCO

  • It is a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN), headquartered at the World Heritage Centre in Paris, France.
  • It was founded in 1945 as the successor to the League of Nation’s International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.
  • It was established with an aim to promote world peace and security through international cooperation in five key program areas – Education; Natural sciences; Social or human sciences; Culture; Communication/information.
  • UNESCO is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group. Thus, UNESCO’s programmes contribute to the achievement of the SDGs defined in the 2030 Agenda, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.
  • UNESCO’s activities have expanded over the years. It aids in the translation and dissemination of world literature, assists in the establishment and protection of World Heritage Sites of cultural and natural importance, works to bridge the global digital divide, etc.

 

The ‘World Heritage Sites’

  • These sites have been designated as having “outstanding universal value” under the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage 1972.
  • The convention provides a framework for international cooperation in preserving and protecting cultural treasures and natural areas throughout the world.
  • Categorisation of Sites – The sites are categorised in three types —
      • Cultural heritage sites – It includes historic buildings and town sites, important archaeological sites, and works of monumental sculpture or painting
      • Natural heritage sites – It includes those natural areas that have excellent ecological and evolutionary processes, endangered species etc.
      • Mixed heritage sites – It contain elements of both natural and cultural significance.
  • India has 40 world heritage sites, including 32 cultural properties, 7 natural properties and 1 mixed site.

 

Sun Temple at Modhera

  • Modhera is known for the Sun temple situated on the bank of the Pushpavati river.
    • It enjoys the same significance as other two well-known sun-temples in Kashmir (Martand) and Orissa (Konark).
  • The temple was built after 1026-27 CE during the reign of Bhima I of the Chalukya dynasty.
  • The temple description states that it is built in Maru-gurjara architectural style.
    • Maru-Gurjara architecture is the style of West Indian temple architecture that originated in Gujarat and Rajasthan from the 11th to 13th centuries, under the Chaulukya dynasty (also called Solanki dynasty).
  • It consists of the main temple shrine (garbhagriha), a hall (gadhamandapa), an outer hall or assembly hall (Sabhamandapa or rangamandapa) and a sacred pool (Kunda), which is now called Ramakunda.
  • This east-facing temple is built with bright yellow sandstone.

 

Vadnagar

  • Vadnagar is a historic town, which had continuous habitation for more than 2,700 years.
  • It has evolved with time and has an early historic fortified settlement, hinterland port, centre for industries of shells and beads, late medieval town, religious centre/temple town, a significant junction on trade routes and mercantile town.
  • The present urban fabric of the town effectively showcases the continuity of the historic planning and architectural design elements.
  • The continuity of the historic town proves its resilience/outstanding universal value unlike the site like Harappa and Kalibangan, which were abandoned eventually.

 

Unakoti

  • Unakoti, located in the northeastern region of Tripura, is known as an ancient holy place associated with Shaiva worship.
  • The site is a massive gallery set in a forested area displaying a number of towering low relief images in a unique style, making it a masterpiece of human creative genius.