Environment & Biodiversity

Three more sites added to UNESCO’s preliminary list of World Heritage Sites

The tentative list of UNCESO World Heritage Sites now includes Gujarat’s Vadnagar town, the iconic Sun Temple at Modhera, and the rock cut sculptures of Unakoti in Tripura.

UNESCO tentative list

  • The UNESCO preliminary list is an inventory of the properties that each State Party intends to nominate.
  • With the addition of these three sites, India now has 52 sites on the UNESCO Tentative List.

The sites

(1) Sun Temple, Modhera

  • The Modhera Sun Temple is situated on the left bank of the river Pushpavati, a tributary of the river Rupan, in the Becharaji taluka of Mehsana district.
  • According to the temple description, it was built in the Maru-gurjara architectural style and consists of the main temple shrine (garbhagriha), a hall (gadhamandapa), an outer hall or assembly hall (Sabhamandapa or rangamandapa), and a sacred pool (Kunda), which is now known as Ramakunda.
  • This temple faces east and is made of bright yellow sandstone.
  • It is the first of such temples to set architectural and decorative trends, exemplifying the Solanki style at its best.

(2) Vadnagar

  • Vadnagar is a historic town that has been inhabited for over 2,700 years.
  • Vadnagar’s history dates back to nearly the eighth century BCE, making it a multi-layered historic town.
  • The town still has a large number of historic buildings, the majority of which are religious or residential in nature.
  • It has an early historic fortified settlement, a hinterland port, a centre for shell and bead industries, a late mediaeval town, a religious center/temple town, a significant junction on trade routes, and a mercantile town.
  • Ramparts from the second century BCE, fortifications along the lake from the third to fourth centuries CE, Indo-Pacific glass beads and marine shells discovered, and palaeo-seismic evidence all point to the town’s historical authenticity.

(3) Unakoti

  • Unakoti, in Tripura’s northeastern region, is known as an ancient holy place associated with Shaiva worship.
  • It is dubbed the “Angkor Wat of the North-East.”
  • The structures of the rock-cut sculptures are massive, with distinct mongoloid features and almost the same mystical charm as the spellbinding figures in Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple.

UNESCO World Heritage Committee

  • The World Heritage Committee chooses which sites will be included on the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger.
  • It monitors the state of conservation of World Heritage properties, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund, and distributes financial assistance to States Parties who request it.
  • It is made up of 21 states parties who are elected for four years by the General Assembly of States Parties.
  • This Committee does not include India.
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