We have been looking at various sites that find a mention in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. I’m extremely sorry to have kept postponing the last part of the series for so long again. But I was really caught up in work. Hope you guys are still interested in knowing the latest additions to the UNESCO list from India.
Continuing our journey of the Indian Subcontinent we will relive some really fascinating heritage sites of the country. India is a culturally rich country. People from different religions, castes and ethnic groups reside in our country adding to its vibrancy and diversity. Each ethnic group in our country has its own tale of origin and its set of unique traditions and culture.
Hoot…Hoot…fasten your seat belts!
First of all I would like to apologise for writing after a long gap of three days. I know today is the last day of UNESCO World Heritage Week and we still have to cover a lot of Indian Heritage Sites. I was debating on whether I should cram all of them together in one post but then it won’t do them justice. So, instead of wrapping up the series today, as it originally should have, I will continue it for three more days. Hope you guys are enjoying exploring India’s Heritage with me.
Each of the sites that we have discussed and those we will discuss in the coming days deserve a dedicated lengthy write-up. I hope I will be able to write them in detail in future, but for now I hope this much of information suffices. So continuing with our story:
India, being one of the oldest civilisations of the world, has no shortage of history and heritage. It is the birth place of legends and a cradle of various religions and culture. We have discussed twelve breath-taking architectural and natural sites in past two blogs (You can find their links at the end). Now let’s continue forward with our journey.
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!
UNESCO identifies such places that are considered to be of immense cultural and natural importance in the world. 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 and India hosts 38 out of them, ranking 6th in the world!
We will explore these exotic sites of India in series of blogs. Starting chronologically with the year in which these sites were deemed as World Heritage Sites:
“India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters.
I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.
I shall always strive to be worthy of it….”
We have been reciting this pledge for more than 10 years of our schooling. We have pledged our devotion to our country and to its rich and varied heritages. But what exactly are we striving to be worthy of? What is heritage? And further, what is cultural or intangible heritage?
India has always been a riot of colours. There will be very few countries as colourful as India. Each region, state, village, and street is animated with colours as if a collage from an art book! There are cities named after colours like Jaipur – The Pink City and Jodhpur – the Blue City of India, etc. Colours and their significance in our day to day life is much a part of our Indian consciousness. Their symbolism stands out and controls every aspect of life in India. These vibrant colours are a common thread that ties together the diversity of our country. This diversity was also evident in India’s art of painting, with each region developing a culturally unique style of paintings!
The written word has an impact far greater than that what is heard. It has a farther reach, can be authenticated easily and preserved in a better way than just in memory. Communication and transfer of knowledge, in Ancient India, was more popular through oral means. We have a reference in Chanakya Niti, where Chanakya says “Knowledge reduced down to the book, like loaned money, will be of no use in time of need.” However, as time progressed most of the things began to be written down in various texts and treatises, Chanakya Niti included. This art form has served multiple purposes since its inception including the duplication of religious texts and as a form of basic communication.
As rich were the oral traditions of India so was the art of writing and calligraphy. Starting from the earliest undeciphered traces of inscriptions found in the Indus Valley Civilisation to the beautifully crafted calligraphies on the monuments, our history of the art of writing and calligraphy spans a variety of languages, scripts, writing materials and styles. While the art has easily morphed and adjusted itself in the modern digital world, the ancient style of calligraphically writing and documenting forms an alluring part of our heritage.
The World Heritage Week that commenced from yesterday aims at spreading awareness about one’s culture and past. India, being one of the oldest civilisations in the world, has no shortage of history and heritage. Protecting and caring about monuments is relatively easy, but the protection and preservation of intangible heritage is hard. Our abstract ideas, ways of life, religion and traditions form a part of this intangible heritage. One such inseparable part of our “Indian-ness” is the ability to tell stories! We are the most dramatic and animated storytellers of the world. And this oral tradition of bringing alive a story is deeply embedded in our identity as an Indian.