Deccan Sultanate gets Centre snub

Gol Gumbaz in Vijayapura

The state government’s hopes to get a Unesco World Heritage tag for the monuments of Deccan Sultanate in three districts — Vijayapura, Kalaburagi and Bidar — have been dashed as the Centre has withheld Karnataka’s proposal to showcase the Islamic monuments at the global level.

In September 2018, the state government sent to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) a proposal titled ‘Monuments and Forts of Deccan Sultanate’ in these three districts. The Telangana government sent another part of the proposal for inclusion of the Qutb Shahi monuments around Hyderabad.  “We have done the study and sent the proposal. We have been given to understand that the ASI has cleared it. We have not heard from the Ministry of Culture thereafter,” said T K Anil Kumar, secretary of Tourism Department, which also handles archaeology, museums and heritage.

However, sources involved in the conservation of heritage monuments said the Union government changed its usual strategy of sending two proposals to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). 

“India used to propose two sites to Unesco all along. But this year, it was limited to one proposal, the Ramappa temple in Telangana. While the temple deserves the tag, there is no explanation as to why the proposal for Islamic monuments was excluded,” the source said.

The monuments built by three Islamic dynasties entered Unesco’s tentative list in 2014. “(They) constitute the representative examples of Deccan Sultanate monuments in India. The series demonstrates the exemplary convergence of national and international styles of Islamic architecture and their intersections with the prevalent Hindu architecture of the period of southern India in present day Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana),” Unesco notes in the justification. 

An official said the Ramappa temple proposal was rejected twice by Unesco and the Centre got third time lucky. “We have heard rumours that the Centre was not keen on getting the tag for the Sultanate monuments. But we will wait for an official word,” he said.

K S Raykar of Indian Heritage Cities Network said a Unesco nomination is a continuous process. “The ASI officials were very happy with the dossier we had prepared. Now, it is in the list of pending proposals. We hope the Centre will send it to Unesco next year,” he said.

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