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About UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Context:

The “Maratha Military Landscapes of India” will be India’s nomination for recognition as UNESCO World Heritage List for the year 2024-25.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Maratha Military Landscapes of India: Architectural Marvels
  2. What are UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

Maratha Military Landscapes of India: Architectural Marvels

Historical Context

  • Developed between the 17th and 19th centuries, the Maratha Military Landscapes in India signify an exceptional fortification and military system envisioned by Maratha rulers.

Geographical Integration

  • The network of forts is a result of integrating landscape, terrain, and physiographic characteristics specific to the Sahyadri mountain ranges, Konkan Coast, Deccan Plateau, and the Eastern Ghats in the Indian Peninsula.

Fort Selection

  • Maharashtra boasts over 390 forts, with 12 selected under the Maratha Military Landscapes.
  • Eight forts are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, including Shivneri, Lohgad, Raigad, Suvarnadurg, Panhala, Vijaydurg, Sindhudurg, and Gingee forts.
  • Salher, Rajgad, Khanderi, and Pratapgarh forts fall under the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Maharashtra.

Fort Categories

  • Hill forts include Salher, Shivneri, Lohgad, Raigad, Rajgad, and Gingee.
  • Pratapgad is a hill-forest fort, Panhala is a hill-plateau fort, Vijaydurg is a coastal fort, and Khanderi, Suvarnadurg, and Sindhudurg are island forts.

Military Ideology

  • The Maratha Military ideology originated in the 17th century during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (by 1670 CE) and continued through subsequent rules until Peshwa rule (till 1818 CE).

World Heritage Nomination

  • Nominated under cultural criteria for World Heritage status.
  • Criteria include unique testimony to a cultural tradition (iii), outstanding example of a building or landscape illustrating significant human history (iv), and direct association with events or traditions of universal significance (vi).

Current World Heritage Sites in Maharashtra

  • Maharashtra hosts six World Heritage Sites, including Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Elephanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai, and the Western Ghats.

Tentative List Nomination

  • Included in the Tentative List of World Heritage sites in 2021, making it the sixth cultural property nominated for inclusion from Maharashtra.

What are UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

  • UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of distinctive cultural or physical importance which is considered of outstanding value to humanity.
  • It may be a building, a city, a complex, a desert, a forest, an island, a lake, a monument, or a mountain.
  • They have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy as they have a special cultural or physical significance and outstanding universal value to the humanity.
  • Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites.
  • At present, India has 38 World Heritage Properties. All the sites under the Ministry are conserved as per ASI’s Conservation Policy and are in good shape.

 

More about selection and protection of World Heritage Sites

  • The sites are judged to be important for the collective and preservative interests of humanity.
  • To be selected, a WHS must be an already-classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area).
  • It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.
  • The sites are intended for practical conservation for posterity, which otherwise would be subject to risk from human or animal trespassing, unmonitored/uncontrolled/unrestricted access, or threat from local administrative negligence.
  • The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 “states parties” that are elected by their General Assembly.

UNESCO World Heritage Committee

  • The World Heritage Committee selects the sites to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger.
  • It monitors the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties.
  • It is composed of 21 states parties that are elected by the General Assembly of States Parties for a four-year term.
  • India is NOT a member of this Committee.

 

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