Rajasthan hill forts vie for World Heritage status

Stepwells and fresco paintings next to be nominated

Rajasthan hill forts vie for World Heritage status


Three years after the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, made it to the World Heritage List, state’s hill forts has been inscribed in the list for the World Heritage Committee meeting in Pnom Penh, Cambodia.

If granted this status, it would be the first serial cultural property from India where six forts would collectively be recognised as a single World Heritage (WH) Site. 

Rakesh Srivastava, state's principal tourism secretary will represent Rajasthan at the WH Session in Cambodia along with Pankaj Dhirendra, a state archaeology official.

Srivastava said the department of culture, Rajasthan have been pursuing this nomination since 2011. Several missions of ICOMOS (advisory body to UNESCO) visited Rajasthan since 2011 and discussed the nomination in great detail with state archaeology department, Archaeology Survey of India and the Indian Advisory Committee on the World Heritage under the Ministry of Culture. On November 2012, it was decided to also include the Jaisalmer fort in the nomination.

State's tourism minister Bina Kak said the ICOMOS report recognises the Outstanding Universal Value of Hill Forts outlining the significance of each individual fort, and the report mentions “As a former capital of the Sisodia clan and the target of three famous historical sieges, Chittorgarh is strongly associated with Rajput history and folk lore and also embodies the sheer number and variety of architectural remains (ranging from the 8th to the 16th centuries)”.

Scale of forts monumental

The minister emphasised that these features mark it as an exceptional fort in its scale and monumentality comparable to very few other Indian forts. She added that Kumbhalgarh was constructed in a single process and (apart from the palace of Fateh Singh, added later) retains its architectural coherence. Its design is attributed to an architect known by name –Mandan – who was also an author and theorist at the court of Rana Kumbha in Chittorgarh. This combination of factors is highly exceptional.

Situated amidst forests, Ranthambore is an established example of forest hill fort and in addition, the remains of Hammir’s palace are among the oldest surviving structures of an Indian palace.

River-protected fort

Gagron is an exemplar of a river-protected fort. In addition its strategic location in a pass in the hills reflects it control of trade routes.

Amber Palace is representative of a key phase (17th century) in the development of a common Rajput-Mughal court style, embodied in the buildings and gardens added to Amber by Mirza Raja Jai Singh I.

Jaisalmer is an example of a hill fort in desert terrain. The extensive township contained in the fort from the outset, is still inhabited, making it an important example of a sacred and secular (urban) fort.

Bina Kak added that Rajasthan has taken lead in the country to get its heritage for the UNESCO World Heritage list. She adds, “We will attempt to do a hat-trick by submitting Rajasthan's step wells (at Abhaneri, Bandikui, Bundi etc) this year itself and next year, fresco paintings of Shekhawati region. The work will start simultaneously.”

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