At present, India has 32 cultural and natural sites on the World Heritage List, but as many as 46 sites, including Indian cities, monuments, archaeological sites, feature on UNESCO’s tentative list. This is a mandatory requirement before a site is finally considered for the nomination. Most of us are familiar with the line-up of India’s World Heritage List, but which are the contenders? From the cities of Delhi and Jaipur, to the temples of Binshupur and Harimandir Sahib, the list actually consists of many names that may come as a surprise that they’re not UNESCO sites already. Here are 15 of them.
Temples at Bishnupur, West Bengal: Built in bricks and also in laterite, the temples at Bishnupur are mostly of Eka-Ratna type with a single tower upon a sloping roof and a square cell (Garbhagriha) flanked by a porch on each side with three multicusped arches (i.e. Lalji, Kalachand, Radhashyam, Jormandir and Nandalal). Besides these there are a few with multiple towers of Pancha Ratna types (Shyam Rai of A.D. 1643). The Jor Bangle temple (A.D.1655) bears a distinctive character with two Dochala structures joined together by a Charchala Sikhara at the top. The Rasmancha (A.D.1600) represents a singular architectural style with a pyramidal roof standing on a spacious laterite plinth. The sanctum is enclosed by three successive circomambulatory galleries.
Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar in Punjab: Sri Harmandir Sahib (The abode of God), also Sri Darbar Sahib, and informally referred to as the Golden Temple, is the holiest Gurdwara of Sikhism, located in the city of Amritsar. Amritsar (literally, the tank of nectar of immortality) was founded in 1574 by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das. The fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan, designed the Harmandir Sahib to be built in the center of this holy tank, and upon its construction, installed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, inside the Harmandir Sahib. The Harmandir Sahib complex is also home to the Akal Takht (the throne of the timeless one, constituted by the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind). While the Harmandir Sahib is regarded as the abode of God’s spiritual attribute, the Akal Takht is the seat of God’s temporal authority.
The Qutb Shahi Monuments of Hyderabad Golconda Fort, Qutb Shahi Tombs, Charminar: Located in the city of Hyderabad, capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh, Golconda Fort, Qutb Shahi Tombs and Charminar are the landmarks that symbolize the Qutb Shahi Dynasty. Golconda Fort lies 11 km to the west of city of Hyderabad, while the Qutb Shahi tombs are a further kilometre north-west of the Fort. Charminar is located in the heart of the old city of Hyderabad.
The Glorious Kakatiya Temples and Gateways: The three proposed serial sites have a common linkage characteristic of Kakatiyan kingdom with Tank, Temple and Town as an example for Creative masterpieces, interchange of cultural values and unique testimony to Kakatiya Cultural Tradition. Though the three edifices may give isolated view of their role of the period, invariably the water tanks (water conservation structures) resulting in raise of Towns flourished with temples and knitted to each other.
Bahá’í House of Worship at New Delhi: The Baha’i House of Worship at New Delhi stands in testimony to the efforts of the Baha’is community of Indian subcontinent towards the promotion of communal harmony. An independent worldwide religion, the Baha’i Faith recognizes the unity of God, the unity of all religions, and the unity of mankind. A true cross-section of humanity, adherents of the Baha’i Faith, who currently number about six million globally, come from virtually every nation, ethnic group, culture, profession and socio-economic class.
Mughal Gardens in Kashmir: This comprises six gardens in Kashmir that are generally categorised as Mughal Gardens, which have evolved from their earliest prototypes like the Humayun’s Tomb Gardens and thus are representatives of Mughal Gardens in their highest state of development. These gardens therefore, apart from being of exceptional beauty, are important and irreplaceable physical evidence to the understanding of Mughal Garden evolution and culmination. As key examples of this tradition these gardens are also an outstanding and irreplaceable resource for the understanding of garden history in general and the Mughal Period in India. The spectacular, mountainous natural settings, within which all of these gardens are laid, are perhaps impossible to be found in any of the other Mughal Gardens of India.
Santiniketan, West Bengal: Santiniketan, popularly known today as a university town, a hundred miles to the north of Kolkata, was originally an ashram built by Debendranath Tagore, where anyone, irrespective of caste and creed, could come and spend time meditating on the one Supreme God. It is considered to be a hallowed spot and prayer services are held here on very special days. Rabindranath, too, like his father before him would sit in meditation here, under the chhatim trees during sunset.In 1922, Visva Bharati was inaugurated as a Centre for Culture with exploration into the arts, language, humanities, music and these are reflected in diverse institutes that continue in their educational programmes, which are based on the founding principles of excellence in culture and culture studies.
River Island of Majuli in midstream of Brahmaputra River in Assam: The geographical region of Majuli is North-East of India, which has seven states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalya are a part of the greater sub llimalyan Region. The island situates itself is in the state of Assam, mid-stream of the Great male river Brahmaputra river, which is also one of the largest rivers in the world. It is a part of the vast dynamic river system of Brahmaputra basin with a total length of 2706kni and a catchment area of 5,80,000 sq km. The Majuli Island is a fluvial landform (a riverine delta), a unique geographical occurrence and a result of the dynamics of this vast river system.The island itself extends for a length of about 80km.