A UNESCO World Heritage Site can be any place such as a forest, lake, building, island, mountain, monument, desert, complex or a city; which has a special physical or cultural significance. Currently there are 1092 World Heritage sites in the world. However 37 World Heritage Properties are in India out of which 29 are Cultural Properties and 7 are Natural Properties and one is named as mixed. Let’s have a look of all World Heritage Sites of India on yearly basis.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway, The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, and the Kalka–Shimla Railway collectively got the status of World Heritage Sites in 1999. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (West Bengal) was opened in 1881. The formation of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a 46-km long metre-gauge single railway track was completed in 1908. The 96-km long single track of the Kalka Shimla Railway opened for traffic on November 9, 1903.
The UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. World Heritage Committee launched the Global Strategy for heritage list in India for the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage sites. Tentative list of India’s world heritage sites in order to qualify for inclusion are Temples at Bishnupur,Golden Temple, Lotus Temple, Mughal Gardens and River Island of Majuli etc.
Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) is situated at Patan in Gujarat state. It is located on the banks of the River Saraswati. It was built as a memorial to a king in the 11th century AD. Stepwells are considered as a water resource and storage systems on the Indian subcontinent. Rani-ki-Vav shows the ability of ‘ the craftsmens’ to build such an excellent stepwell. 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 of Rajasthan is a serial site, comprises six majestic forts of Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Sawai Madhopur, Jhalawar, Jaipur and Jaisalmer. The architecture of these forts is spread in the area of about twenty kms. These forts are boasting the legacy of Rajputana Empire of 8th to 18th centuries. These forts used the natural defenses provided by the landscape: deserts, rivers, hills, and dense forests. These forts have big water harvesting structures which are still in use.
The monuments at Mahabalipuram are situated on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, in Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu,India. It has near 40 sanctuaries, including the largest open-air rock relief in the world. These monuments includes: the Pancha Rathas of Dharmaraja Ratha, Arjuna Ratha, Bhima Ratha, Draupadi Ratha, Nakula Sahadeva Ratha, and also Ganesha Ratha. It was tagged as World Heritage site in 1984.
The Great Living Chola Temples were constructed by rulers of the Chola Empire. These temples are scattered in the all over of southern Indian region and upto the neighbouring islands. The site comprises 3 temples of 11th- and 12th-century namely the, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram (built by Rajendra I, and completed in 1035), Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur and the Airavatesvara Temple (built by Rajaraja II) at Darasuram. The temples justify the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.
The Jantar Mantar monument of Jaipur, Rajasthan is a compilation of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments, built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh II. It was completed in 1738 CE. There are jantar-mantar in the whole India, namely Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, Varanasi, and Mathura. The main purpose of this observatory was to compile astronomical tables and predict the time and movements of the sun, earth and planets. Jantar-mantar of jaipur is world heritage site since 2010.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station in Mumbai, is an excellent example of Victorian Gothic architecture in India. The building, designed by the British architect F. W. Stevens, became the symbol of Bombay as the ‘Gothic City’ and the major international mercantile port of India. This Railway Station is used by more than three million commuters daily. The terminal was completed in 10 years commenced in 1878. This was the first terminus station in the subcontinent.
Bhimbetka caves are located in the Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh. These Rock Shelters are in the foothills of the Vindhyan Mountains on the southern edge of the central Indian plateau. Dr V. S. Wakankar (one of the most renowned archeologists), discovered these caves in 1958. The word 'Bhimbetka', derived from 'Bhim Baitka'. These caves are named after 'Bhima', one of the five Pandavas of Mahabharata. Bhimbetika simply means “sitting place of Bhima".
Hampi is situated on the southern bank of the river Tungabhadra in Karnataka. It is located within the ruins of the city of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. The empire boasted a massive army comprising close to a million men. In around 1500 AD Vijaynagar had about 500,000 inhabitants (supporting 0.1% of the global population during 1440-1540), making it the second largest city in the world. It is world heritage site since 1986.
Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in Panchmahal district in Gujarat, India. It is located around the historical city of Champaner, a city which was built by Sultan Mahmud Begada of Gujarat. The Pavagadh hill composed of reddish-yellow coloured stone formation is one of the oldest rock formations in India. The hill rises to a height of nearly 800 meters from the mean sea level.
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: Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se' Cathedral, Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, Church of Lady of Rosary, Church of St. Augustine and Chapel of St. Catherine. These Churches and Convents declared as World Heritage Sites in 1986.
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. 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 Mahabodhi Temple Complex is one of the four holy sites related to the life of the Lord Buddha, and particularly to the attainment of Enlightenment. The first temple was built by Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century B.C., and the present temple dates from the 5th or 6th centuries. It is one of the earliest Buddhist temples built entirely in brick, still standing in India, from the late Gupta period. It is a location where the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.