Do you know that not only historical sites, but also national parks and railway routes have been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Some time ago, the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for 2021 was released, which includes the names of six Natural Heritage Sites of India. The Ganges Ghat of Banaras is also included in this list. Today we are going to tell you about those five places included in this list, about which very few people know (lesser known heritage sites in India).
What is ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’
UNESCO World Heritage Sites are called special places (such as forest areas, mountains, lakes, deserts, monuments, buildings, or cities etc.) that are selected by the World Heritage Sites Committee and this committee maintains these sites under the auspices of UNESCO. does in. The purpose of this program is to select and preserve such places of the world which are important to humanity from the point of view of world culture. Under certain circumstances, financial assistance is also given to such places by this committee. Every heritage site is the property of the particular country in which the site is located, but at the same time it is in the interest of the international community to preserve them for the future generations and for the benefit of humanity.
So far 38 destinations of India have been included in this list. These include 30 cultural, 7 natural and one mixed site. This list also includes places like the world famous Taj Mahal, Ajanta Caves to Indian Railway line built in the mountains and Sundarbans. However, most people know about places like Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Sun Temple, Qutub Minar. But today we are telling you about some such places, which have made their place in the World Heritage Sites. But people know very little about them.
1. Chandigarh Capital Complex
Do you know that the Capital Complex located in Sector 1 of the city of Chandigarh is also included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The story of this capital complex is as old as the city of Chandigarh itself. This place has been designed by Le Corbusier. He was a Swiss-French architect.
At the time of independence, when the British divided India and Pakistan, then Punjab was also divided into two parts. At that time Lahore was the capital of Punjab. The country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru decided to give Punjab a new city and a new capital. With this thought, the city of Chandigarh was born. This dream of Nehru was given flight by the famous architect Le Corbusier. It is said that in 1950, PL Verma, the then Chief Engineer of Punjab, selected the site for the new capital.
Today, it is because of the architect Le Corbusier that Chandigarh is recognized globally and the city has a lot to learn for architects from all over the world. For Le Corbusier, the city of Chandigarh was a living masterpiece. According to him Capital Complex is the head of this city, different sectors are its torso, city center is the heart, education is the left hand and industry is the right hand. The Capital Complex is spread over about 100 acres and is a great expression of the architecture of Chandigarh. It consists of three buildings, three monuments and a lake, including the Legislative Assembly, the Secretariat, the High Court, the Free Hand Memorial, the Geometric Hill and the Tower of Shadows.
Therefore, the next time you pass through the city of Chandigarh, then once you visit the capital complex and enjoy the art of a great architect.
2. Mountain Railways of India
Railway lines built in the mountainous regions of India are known as ‘mountain railways’. These include the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, and the Shimla-Kalka Railway. Interestingly, all three have been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Darjeeling Himalayan Rail is also known as ‘Toy Train’. Do you know that it runs on two feet wide track? It runs from Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling and was built by the British between 1879 and 1881. At that time, Darjeeling was a very good holiday destination for the British. It is the first mountain railway in India. This railway route is 88 km long.
The construction of the Nilgiri Hill Railway started in 1899. It was first built from Mettupalayam to Coonoor and then extended to Ottakamund in 1908. It is a single track 46 kilometers (29 mi) long that connects Mettupalayam town to Utkamandalam (Otakamund) town. There are 208 turns, 16 tunnels and 250 bridges in this 46 km journey. The uphill journey on this route takes approximately 290 minutes (4.8 hours), while the downhill journey takes only 215 minutes (3.6 hours).
The Kalka-Shimla railroad was started on 9 November 1903. This rail route runs from Kalka station 656 (m) to Shimla (2,076) m. There are 18 stations on the 96 km long railway line. The Kalka-Shimla railway line is also known as KSR. The 103 tunnels on the Kalka-Shimla railway line make the journey exciting. Barog tunnel number 33 is the longest at Barog railway station. Its length is 1143.61 meters. This train takes two and a half minutes to cross this tunnel. There are 869 small and big bridges on this railway line. There are 919 turns in the entire railroad.
3. Agra Fort
When it comes to Agra, one only remembers the Taj Mahal. But another monument makes this city special and that is the Agra Fort. There are many historical sites inside this fort made of red sandstone. But do you know that originally this monument was known as Badalgarh Fort because it was once ruled by the Hindu-Sikarwar Rajput King Badal Singh. But then its owners kept changing due to periodic wars.
When Sikandar Lodhi made his capital Agra from Delhi, he remained in this fort. It is said that when the Mughal Empire came, this monument was in a dilapidated condition, so Akbar redeveloped it. 4000 artisans contributed in making the fort. There are nine palaces in the complex of this fort, which include Jahangir Mahal, Shahjahani Mahal, Macchi Bhawan, Khas Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas, Diwan-i-Aam, Sheesh Mahal, Moti Masjid etc. Two main gates have been built in the premises of this fort, one of which is known as Delhi Gate and the other is known as Lahore Gate.
Lahore Gate also known as Amar Singh Gate was named after a Rajput Thakur. Because Amar Singh was the courtier of Shah Jahan’s court and to honor him, Lahore Gate was named Amar Singh Gate. Interestingly, many scenes of the movie Mughal-e-Azam have been shot in this fort. The famous song ‘Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya’ was also shot in this fort.
4. Rani Ki Vav
Do you recognize the picture printed on the back of Rs 100 note? Or have you ever tried to find out which place this picture is from? You will be happy to know that this picture is of ‘Rani ki Vav’ located in Patan, Gujarat. The history of Rani Ki Vav is centuries old. It is also called as Queen’s stepwell. This stepwell was built in the 11th century (1063 AD) in the memory of King Bhimdev-I of the Solanki dynasty by his wife, Queen Udayamati. Patan used to be the capital of the Solanki Empire.
This stepwell is 64 meters long, 20 meters wide and 27 meters deep. This seven-storey stepwell is built very beautifully in the Maru-Gurjara architectural style. Its fourth floor is the deepest, leading to a tank 9.5 meters long, 9.4 meters wide and 23 meters deep. The Rani ki Vav has more than 500 large sculptures and more than a thousand small sculptures carved on stones. The craftsmanship and carvings of the walls and pillars here are made on sight.
In this unique stepwell included in the list of World Heritage, the traditional sixteen makeup of Indian women has been displayed in a very spectacular way through sculptures.
5. The Khangchendzonga National Park, Sikkim
Sikkim’s Kangchenjunga National Park is the first mixed UNESCO World Heritage Site from India. It was included in the list in the year 2016. This park was established in the year 1977. It is the largest national park in Sikkim and covers an area of 850 sq km in the northern district of Sikkim.
The park is known for its spectacular wildlife like leopard, red panda, Tibetan sheep, musk deer found in the snowy terrain. In this national park, you can also spot fascinating birds like snow rooster, black-necked crane, brown peacock-pheasant, red pheasant, Himalayan monal, etc. found in the Himalayas. 18 glaciers are found in this park, of which the most famous are the massive glaciers and 17 alpine lakes. From here you will get a panoramic view of many mountain peaks, including Mount Kangchenjunga.
So if you are planning to travel somewhere, then definitely include these places in your list so that you can also know why UNESCO has included these places in its list of World Heritage Sites. Believe me, these are all places that we should all be proud of.
Editing – G N Jha
Also read: India’s only ‘World Heritage City’, not Delhi or Mumbai, but this historic city!