List of UNESCO World Heritage Site – Part II

Along with its peculiar melange of cultures and traditions, India has wide spectrum of flora and fauna too. Being the seventh largest country of the world, India has a variety of geographical zones with at least three major biodiversity hotspots. It is also one of the 17 mega-diverse countries of the world.  So it’s no surprise that Natural Sites of India have found its way into List of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the last blog we discussed six out of 38 UNESCO sites of India. Today let’s continue the journey!



Kaziranga National Park: (1985)

In the heart of Assam, this park is one of the last areas in eastern India undisturbed by a human presence. Located within two districts in the Indian state of Assam -the Kaliabor subdivision of Nagaon district and the Bokakhat subdivision of Golaghat district (Assam), Kaziranga covers an area of 378 km2 (146 sq mi). The park hosts two-thirds of the world’s Great One-horned rhinoceros and has the highest density of tigers among the protected areas in the world and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006.

The vast area of Kaziranga comprises of tall elephant grass, dense tropical broadleaf forests and marshland. Four major rivers including the great Brahmaputra River cross the forest. The park also has several small water bodies. It has been titled as a “Hotspot of Biodiversity” in India because of its rich diverse species and their omnipresence.



Manas Wildlife Sanctuary: (1985)

Located at the base of foot hills of the north eastern state of Assam, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for unique biodiversity and landscape. It also happens to be the first reserve to be included in the network of tiger reserve under Project tiger in 1973.

It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 for its unique natural environment and later in 1989 Manas acquired the status of a Biosphere Reserve. It extends over an area of 2837 Sq. Km from Sankosh River in the west to Dhansiri River in the east and covers an area of 50,000 hectares (120,000 acres) in the plains of the Manas River in the foothills of the Himalayas, on the border with Bhutan.

The sanctuary is the habitat of several species of plants, 21 most-threatened species of mammals (out of 55 mammal species in the sanctuary), 36 reptile species, three amphibians and 350 species of birds. Endangered species that find home in this park include: the tiger, pygmy hog, clouded leopard, sloth bear, Indian rhinoceros, wild buffaloes (the only pure strain of buffalo in India), Indian elephants, golden langur and Bengal florican. Since 1992, the sanctuary was listed under “The World Heritage in Danger” but removed in 2011 after significant conservation efforts.



Keoladeo National Park: (1985)

Formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, the Keoladeo National Park lies between two of India’s most historic cities, Agra and Jaipur. This north Indian park is situated in the country’s north western part of Rajasthan. In 1900 it was a duck-hunting reserve of the Maharajas of Bharatpur, then became a bird sanctuary in 1956, with the Maharajas exercising shooting rights until 1972. It was recorded as a Ramsar Wetland site in 1981. Declared as a national park in 1982, it was later tagged as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985 under category (X) as a Natural Property.

The Park is located within the Indus-Ganges Monsoon Forest Biogeographical Province. It extends over an area of 2,783 hectares (6,880 acres). The park is home to over 370 species of birds and animals such as the basking python, painted storks, deer, nilgai and more. It is mainly known for migrated Siberian cranes. South of the ancient city of Bharatpur, the park’s woods and man-made wetlands protect over 350 species of migratory and resident birds, including herons, cormorants and eagles.

This is one of the major wintering areas for large numbers of aquatic birds from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia.



Churches and Convents of Goa: (1986)

The Portuguese were the first European who discovered the sea-route to India. From 1505 to 1961, some territories of India remained under Portuguese State of India {Estado da India} or Portuguese India {Índia Portuguesa}. The Indian empire of Portuguese was mainly confined in isolated colonies on both East and West Coast of India and was part of Portuguese possessions in Asia, East Africa and Pacific. One such place was the state of Goa in western India.

The Churches and Convents at Velha (Old) Goa owe their existence to the Portuguese rule in this part of the western coast of India. These monuments were inscribed by UNESCO under the World Heritage List in 1986 as Cultural Property, under criteria (II), (IV) and (VI).

The most comprehensive group of churches and cathedrals built during 16th to 17th century AD at Old Goa comprise of the following: Se’ Cathedral, Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, Chapel of St. Catherine, Church of Lady of Rosary; Church of St. Augustine.

The most significant of these monuments is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which enshrines the tomb containing the relics of St. Francis Xavier. These monuments of Goa, known as the “Rome of the Orient”, were established by different Catholic religious orders, from November 25, 1510 onward.

These monuments were forerunners in establishing an ensemble of the Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art forms in the Asian region. The monuments are built in laterites and the walls are plastered with limestone mortar mixed with broken shells.



Fatehpur Sikhri: (1986)

Fatehpur Sikri was built during the second half of the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar. It was the capital of the Empire and seat of the grand Mughal court but only for 14 years. The complex of monuments and temples, all in a uniform architectural style, includes one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid, the Buland Darwaza, the Panch Mahal, and the Tomb of Salim Chishti.

Despite bearing exceptional testimony to the Mughal Empire, it had to be abandoned due to the twin reasons of lack of water and unrest in north-west India. Hence the capital was shifted to Lahore.

A unique blend of architectural excellence, as well as religious beliefs – sums up Fatehpur Sikri. An Indo-Islamic Masterpiece, Fatehpur Sikri is enclosed by an 11 km long fortification wall which has various gateways. The mosque’s southern entrance, the colossal gateway Buland Darwaza (Victory Gate; 1575), is one of India’s greatest architectural works. The monumental gateway is constructed out of red sandstone and is attractively carved.

The city has numerous other palaces, public buildings and mosques, as well as living areas for the court, the army, and servants of the king and for an entire population whose history has not been recorded.



Group of Monuments at Hampi: (1986)

The Group of Monuments at Hampi comprise mainly of the remnants of the Capital City of Vijayanagara Empire (14th-16th Cent CE), the last great Hindu Kingdom. The property encompasses an area of 418724 hectares and is located in the Tungabhadra basin in Central Karnataka, Bellary District.

Hampi’s spectacular setting is dominated by river Tungabhadra, craggy hill ranges and open plains, with widespread physical remains.  Hampi, as an important Hindu and Jain religious centre, has the Virupaksha Temple (different from Pattadakal’s Virupaksha Temple) and several other monuments, which are part of the cultural heritage site inscribed under category (I), (III) and (IV) in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The austere and grandiose site is evident with sophistication of the varied urban, royal and sacred systems. Hampi is an open museum with more than 1600 surviving remains that include forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, Mandapas, memorial structures, gateways, defence check posts, stables, water structures etc. A carved stone chariot stands in front of the huge Vittala Temple site.

The temples of Hampi, its monolithic sculptures and monuments are an excellent example of workmanship. The Hindu style of architecture found at Hampi reflects the splendour of the Vijaynagar Empire and the bare rugged landscape adds to the historic ambience of this site.


YES, INDIA IS MUCH MORE THAN THE TAJ MAHAL….Stay tuned as we explore other sites of India in the upcoming blogs!


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