Forgotten by Government, Recognized by UNESCO: Degrading World Heritage Sites

Posted on June 9, 2012 in Specials

By Awanish Shahi:

Countries like China and Japan as the best examples of curators of their heritage and as marketers of these sites to international tourists. India has multiple exquisite heritage sites and 28 has been recognized by international agency UNESCO as world heritage sites but India itself remained oblivious to its treasure and no government till date seems enthusiast to protect our heritage. Here is a walkthrough of 5 UNESCO world heritage sites in India.

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park

Located in Panchmahal district in Gujarat, Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park was inscribed by UNESCO world heritage site in 2004. Built by Mehmood Shah Begara this site has unexcavated archaeological, historic as well as living cultural heritage properties. Apart from being a pre-historic site it includes fortifications, palaces, vestiges, religious buildings, water installations from 8th to 14th century. The Pavagadh Hill has famous the Kalimata temple on the top which attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. But despite of its grand stature this site is not well protected and need immediate concern.

Mahabodhi Temple Complex

Mahabodhi temple complex popularly known as the Boudh Gaya is one of the holy sites for Buddhist that was demarcated as the UNESCO world heritage site in 2002. According to ancient mythology Lord Budhha attained enlightenment under Bodhi tree and when Emperor Ashoka visted Boudh Gaya around 260 BC, it led the inception of this monastery. Constructed in bricks from ‘Gupta period’, it has 55m high temple tower which in turn is surrounded by four similar lower towers. The railings of the temple stone carved figures of Hindu Gods, birds and lotus.

Old Goa

Though old Goa resides among the UNESCO world heritage sites but still few people are aware of its international status apart from Goa as a holiday destination. The churches and convents reside in former capital of Velha Goa that was abandoned by Portuguese officially in 1843. Now this place embodies some of the finest monuments which are emblematic to golden past of Goa. The prominent monuments are St. Cathedral church which is the largest church in Goa, India and reportedly Asia. Another famous church of Goa is Bascilia of Bom Jesus contains the relics of the famous patron saint of Goa, St. Francis Xavier. The other famous spots are Museum of Christian Art, Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, Church of Lady of Rosary, Chapel of St. Catherine, Chapel of St. Cajetan, Archaeological Museum and Portrait Gallery, Sound and Light Gallery Museum and others.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)

Chatarapati Shivaji Terminus aka CST is a perfect epitome of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture which was constructed back in 1887 and still stands tall and boasting. UNESCO recognized this 18 platforms terminus (7 are for locals trains and 11 are for long distance) as the world heritage site in 2004.Originally designed by Frederick William Stevens (1848-1900) a British architect, many ancillary buildings has been appended till date making it a grand emblem of Art and architecture serving as inevitable part of Mumbai.

Jantar Mantar (Jaipur)

Jantar Mantar as the name sounds signifies the magically grand astronomical instruments build by Maharaja Jai Singh II in Jaipur, which is modeled after the same in Delhi too built by him. UNESCO inscribed it among world heritage site stating “”an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period”. This is the largest observatory among the five built by his highness Jai Singh II and has 14 geometric devices for measuring time ,tracking star location and other celestial activities. As instance, Samrat Yantra is the largest instrument that depicts time of the day by shadow plot. Though declared national monument in 1948, UNESCO recognized it 2010 as a world heritage site.
By seeing the inscribed year of these sites one can guess how recently they were recognized by UNESCO when Indian government itself never paid heed to these tokens of glory. Many of our heritages are degrading day by day due to negligence and indifferent behavior of our government. Like the Nalanda University in Bihar is victim of the negligence of our government as only 80 acres of the land of this erstwhile university has been excavated so far and some 100 acres remains to be excavated but political jostle has put this step in thick soup. Awareness and the importance for our emblem of grand history are the utmost need as we as Indian owe responsibility to conserve and protect our beautiful and glorious past.