UNESCO World Heritage Sites

  • must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria set by UNESCO.
  • Based on UN Cultural Heritage Convention, 1972.
  • India has 38 World Heritage Sites, including 30 Cultural properties, 7 Natural properties, and 1 mixed site.
  • Most recent addition: Pink City Jaipur.

News: The government of India submitted two nominations for inclusion in the World Heritage List for 2020: Dholavira, and Monuments and Forts of Deccan Sultanate.



1. Dholavira: A Harappan City

  • Located at Khadir Island in Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.
  • It had access to the sea prior to the decrease in sea level.
  • Largest Harappan sites in the subcontinent: Mohenjo-daro, Harappa, and Ganweriwala (all in Pakistan) and Rakhigarhi and Dholavira (both in India).
  • Two seasonal streams: Mansar and Manhar
  • Three zones:
    • Upper Town or the citadel
    • Middle Town: ceremonial ground.
    • Lower Towns: area where commoners lived.



2. Monuments and Forts of Deccan Sultanate

Indo Islamic monuments at 4 sites in Gulbarga, Bidar, Bijapur and Hyderabad.

  1. Bahmani Monuments, Gulbarga, Karnataka:
    • built-in the 14th century.
    • The Gulbarga Fort and Great Mosque in the Fort
    • Gulbarga was the first capital of the Bahmani dynasty.
    • The Haft Gumbad complex with seven tombs: It includes tombs of Mujahid Shah, Daud Shah, Ghiyath al-Din Shah, and Shams al-Din Shah.
  2. Bahmani and Barid Shahi Monuments at Bidar, Karnataka
  3. Adil Shashi Monuments at Bijapur, Karnataka
    1. The most remarkable monument is the Gol Gumbaz. Itis the 2nd largest dome in the world. It is the tomb of Muhammad Adil Shah.
  4. Qutb Shahi Monuments at Hyderabad, Telangana
    1. Golconda Fort, Qutb Shahi Tombs, and Charminar.



Vision 2024 of Ministry of Culture

  • Fixed timeline for completing work of enlisting and preserving invaluable heritage and culture of country’s monuments and traditions.


Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

  • These are the practices, expressions, knowledge, etc.; transmitted from generation to generation within communities
  • Created and transformed continuously by them
  • Depending on their interaction with nature, environment, and history.



Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India

  • The Scheme cover all recognized domains of ICH
  • Scheme by Ministry of culture.


UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH, 2003

  • The first binding multilateral instrument intended to safeguard and raise the heritage profile.


Elements of India in UNESCO Representative List of ICH

  • Ramman: Religious festival of Uttarakhand
  • Kalbelia: The folk dance of Rajasthan
  • Ramlila
  • Chhau Dance: West Bengal
  • Mudiyettu: Ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala
  • Kutiyattam: Sanskrit Theatre of Kerala
  • Vedic Chanting
  • Sankirtana: ritual singing, drumming, and dancing of Manipur
  • Buddhist chanting of Ladakh
  • Nawrouz
  • Yoga
  • Kumbh Mela
  • Traditional brass and copper craft: of Jandiala Guru, Punjab (utensil making among the Thatheras)



Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)

  • Founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
  • He was the first Education Minister of independent India.
  • Involved in India’s external cultural relations through cultural exchange.
  • Responsibility of celebrating International Yoga Day abroad.



Lalit Kala Akademi (National Academy of Art)

  • President conferred 61st Annual Lalit Kala Akademi Awards.
  • Inaugurated in New Delhi in 1954, by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
  • Statutory authority in 1957 under the Societies Registration Act 1860.
  • Established in pursuance of cultural and national identity.
  • It is the youngest of three Government Academies: the other two Sahitya Akademi and Sangeet Natak Akademi.



Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

  • The nodal agency for archaeological research, conservation, and preservation of cultural monuments.
  • Founded in 1861.
  • It is an attached office of the Ministry of Culture.
  • It regulates
    • Ancient Monuments Act, 1958. (Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act)
    • Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
  • Publications:  Epigraphical surveys in Sanskrit, Dravidian, Arabic, etc.


Heritage Management in India

News: NITI Aayog released a report on ‘Improving Heritage Management in India’.

The Constitution has divided the jurisdiction over heritage as follows:

  • Union: Parliament can declare these to be of national importance. Under this provision union has enacted two acts:
    • Ancient Monuments Act of 1958
    • Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972: to regulate the export trade.
  • State: Monuments other than those declared by Parliament to be of national importance through state Departments of Archaeology.
  • Concurrent list: both the Union and States have concurrent jurisdiction over such sites other than those declared by law and Parliament to be of national importance.
  • Article 253: Parliament can legislate for the implementation of any international treaty, agreement, or convention.
  • Article 51-A (f): fundamental duty to preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.



NGOs in Heritage Conservation in India

  • Aga Khan Trust for Culture
  • Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage
  • International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)
    • Only global NGO of this kind, which is dedicated conservation of cultural heritage.
  • World Monuments Fund
    • Heritage conservation projects and awareness programmes in India.



Government Initiatives to conserve heritage


National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana

  • By the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
  • To revitalize the unique character of twelve heritage cities in India.




Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive

  • By Ministry of Tourism (MoT)
  • For development and beautification of 40+ pilgrimage sites.


Swachh Iconic Places

  • Under Swachh Bharat Mission
  • To transform monuments as model ‘Swachh Tourist Destination’


Swadesh Darshan scheme

  • By Ministry of Tourism
  • to develop theme-based tourist circuits & world-class infrastructure.
  • Themes:
    • Religion: Spiritual, Ramayana, Krishna, Buddhist, Tirthankar, Sufi.
    • Region: Coastal, Desert, Himalayan, North East
    • Lifestyle: Eco, Heritage, Rural, Tribal, and Wildlife.


Incredible India 2.0 campaign

  • International tourism promotion campaign
  • By Ministry of Tourism



Adopt A Heritage

Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan

  • to engage private sector and individuals as “Monument Mitras

Adarsh Smarak

  • ASI identified 100 monuments to be developed as Model Monuments.
  • Upgradation of facilities like Wi-Fi, cafeteria, brail signage, etc.


Project Mausam

  • Aim: to re-connect and re-establish cultural connect between countries of the Indian Ocean world, and in the regional maritime milieu.
  • By Ministry of Culture.
  • Implemented by: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.


Ahom Kingdom (1228 to 1824)

Ahom Kingdom (1228 to 1824)

  • Founded by Chaolung Sukapha. He established a capital at Charaidau, Assam.
  • In the 13th century, they migrated from present-day Myanmar to Brahmaputra valley.
  • Suppressed the older political system of the bhuiyans (landlords)
  • Administration: Ahom society was divided into clans or khels and a Khel often controlled several villages.
  • A Census system was present.
  • The system of forced labor was prevalent. Laborers were called ‘paiks’.
  • The Ahoms worshipped their tribal gods originally, but during the mid-eighteenth century, Hinduism became a predominant religion.
  • Buranjis: written first in the Ahom language and then in the Assamese.

Chaolung Sukapha

  • Contemporary scholars trace his roots to Myanmar.
  • He is known as the architect of “Bor Asom” or “greater Assam” due to his successful efforts of assimilation of different communities.
  • In a recent controversy Chaolung Sukapha, the founder of Ahom kingdom, was referred to as a “Chinese invader”.



  • A 9th century’s sandstone Shiva idol of Rajasthan temple
  • Smuggled out of the country in 1998 was recently returned to India.
  • The idol of the Pratihara Style of architecture in Rajasthan.


Ayodhya Ram temple

  • Prime Minister recently laid the foundation for the Ayodhya Ram temple, which is to be built with the Nagara style of architecture.



Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh

  • Treasures unearthed: chariots, legged coffins, shields, sword, and helmets of around 2,000 BCE.
  • The Site and remains are declared by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to be of national importance.
  • The Discovery of a horse chariot can challenge the Aryan invasion theory.
    • The theory claims that horses were brought in around 1500 to 1000 BC.
  • Horses provided Aryans edge over Dravidians to conquer North Indian plains.


Korvai weaving

  • Weaving practiced in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu.
  • The body of the sari and the border are woven separately.
    • Interlocked by skillful weaving.


Bon Bibi'r Palagaan

  • Folk theatre from the Sundarban islands.
  • Based on the stories of Bon Bibi, the deity of the Sunderbans.


Pulikkali (Tiger Dance)

  • Folk art of Kerala.
  • Introduced by the ruler of Cochin, Maharaja Rama Varma Sakthan Thampuran.