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International Day of Monuments of Sites

  • Category
    History & Culture
  • Published
    26th Apr, 2021

April 18th was celebrated as World Heritage Day (UN’s International Day for Monuments and Sites). This year’s theme was “Complex Pasts: Diverse Futures”.

Context

April 18th was celebrated as World Heritage Day (UN’s International Day for Monuments and Sites). This year’s theme was “Complex Pasts: Diverse Futures”.

Background

  • The day has been promoted by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) globally and is recognised by UNESCO.
  • The aim of celebrating this day is to raise awareness about our Cultural heritage.
  • It also aims to promote historical monuments and sites, which will help in preserving them through community efforts.
  • Due to COVID-19, this year's celebration is being done by visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites virtually through the online exhibits on Google Arts & Culture.
  • Out of 1121 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the World, India is home to 38.

 

List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India

1. Cultural (30)

  • Agra Fort (1983)
  • Ajanta Caves (1983)
  • Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara at Nalanda, Bihar (2016)
  • Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989)
  • Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004)
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004)
  • Churches and Convents of Goa (1986)
  • Elephanta Caves (1987)
  • Ellora Caves (1983)
  • Fatehpur Sikri (1986)
  • Great Living Chola Temples (1987,2004)
  • Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986)
  • Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984)
  • Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987)
  • Hill Forts of Rajasthan (2013)
  • Historic City of Ahmedabad (2017)
  • Humayun's Tomb, Delhi (1993)
  • Jaipur City, Rajasthan (2019)
  • Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986)
  • Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (2002)
  • Mountain Railways of India (1999,2005,2008)
  • Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (1993)
  • Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat (2014)
  • Red Fort Complex (2007)
  • Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003)
  • Sun Temple, Konârak (1984)
  • Taj Mahal (1983)
  • The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier (2016)
  • The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (2010)
  • Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles, Mumbai (2018)

2. Natural (7)

  • Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (2014)
  • Kaziranga National Park (1985)
  • Keoladeo National Park (1985)
  • Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985)
  • Sundarbans National Park (1987)
  • Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks (2005)
  • Western Ghats (2012)

3. Mixed

  • Khangchendzonga National Park (2016)

Analysis

Why is World Heritage Day celebrated?

  • ICOMOS, in 1982, suggested to UNESCO that April 18 should be celebrated as the International Day of Monument and Sites.
  • UNESCO approved the day in 1983.
  • Since then the day is dedicated to recognise sites of historical importance, raising awareness about them and emphasizing on the need to preserve and restore them.

Why should Monuments and Sites be protected?

  • Provide information about the country's past: Historical places give a holistic picture of a country's socio-economic, political and religious status of a country.
    • They throw a light on the way of life, skills, knowledge etc. of our ancestors.
  • Give identity to present and direction of future:
    • Historical establishments serve as reminders of the past and thus help people in understanding where they are coming from.
    • This understanding of people and community about their past, helps them in connecting more with the place.
    • The understanding of the past and present provides people a hope for their future.
  • Duty of citizens to protect Monuments in India: Article 51(f) puts a duty upon the people to preserve the rich heritage and composite culture.

Constitutional Provisions for Protection of Monuments in India

  1. The Constitution of India has conferred various rights and duties on Indian citizens to protect and preserve our Historical heritage.
    • Article 49: The DPSP puts responsibility for protection of monuments of national importance on the State.
    • Article 51(f) puts a Fundamental duty on citizens of India to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture of the country.
  2. Further it has put responsibility on the Union and State to protect and preserve the Historical Monuments of India.
    • Entry 67 of the Union List puts under protection any Ancient and Historical monuments declared of National Importance by a law made by Parliament.
    • Entry 12 of State List:
      1. Libraries, museums and other similar institutions controlled or financed by the State
      2. ancient and historical monuments and records, other than those declared by or under law made by Parliament to be of national importance
    • Entry 40 of Concurrent List: Archaeological sites and remains other than those declared by or under law made by Parliament to be of national importance.
  3. The Section 30 of Indian Penal code (IPC) also punishes anyone who destroys, removes, inquires, alters, defaces, imperils, or misuse a protected monument with imprisonment or fine.

Steps taken by Government to preserve Monuments of India

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)
    • The organisation is aimed for the archaeological research and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.

About Archaeological Survey of India

  • Alexander Cunnigham is attributed to be the founder of Archaeological Survey of India in 1861.
  • It is an attached office under the Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
  • It has been established as a premier organization for the archaeological research and protection of the cultural heritage in the country.
  • The ASI is primarily concerned with maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites of national importance.
  • The ASI regulates archaeological activities and functions under provisions of Acts:
    • Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
    • Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
  • Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY)
    • The scheme has been launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, with a focus on holistic development of heritage cities.
    • The scheme is aimed to revitalise heritage sites and preserve their unique character. It will be done by making them aesthetically appealing, accessible and providing a safe and informative environment.
  • Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan
    • This scheme is a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Tourism, the Archaeological Survey of India and the Ministry of Culture.
    • Under the scheme, the government invites entities, including individuals, public sector companies and private sector firms, to adopt a heritage across India and develop it.

Challenges in preservation and conservation of Monuments and Sites

  • Lack of Master Plan: Many sites of national importance face negligence of local or state administrations. The lack of a proper master plan leads to haphazard growth around the sites. This results in sites losing their charm and significance.
  • Pollution: There are several types of environmental pollution such as air pollution, water pollution etc which become a cause of degradation of heritage properties. e.g. Even Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of World, was affected badly by Sulphur dioxide pollution. The gases were emitted by oil refineries at Mathura and more than 200 furnaces used in Taj ganj area.
  • Tourism and irresponsible Behaviour of Visitors: Increasing tourism and lack of civic sense among the majority of tourists have caused large damages to monuments degrading their aesthetic value. Criminal damage such as defacement of monuments and graffiti on monuments have also been a major concern.
  • Encroachments/illegal occupation: Encroachments done by local shopkeepers, souvenir sellers or local residents are also a cause of concern. For eg. A 2013 CAG Report highlighted encroachment within the premises of the Taj Mahal near Khan-i-Alam’s Bagh.
  • Degradation and lack of conservation: Conservation practices have been primarily directed towards World Heritage sites, while other monuments of national importance have been largely neglected and thus degraded over time.

Conclusion

Historical monuments and sites provide a sense of identity to communities and become a source of pride for India’s past, but that is not all. Conservation of the historical monuments and sites also provides the country an opportunity for generating employment and income through heritage tourism and development of ancillary local industries. Thus, we should Value, Protect, Conserve, interpret and Foster India’s unique and diverse monuments.

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