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Incredible Treasures

The World Heritage Sites listing by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aims to promote awareness and safeguarding of heritage sites considered to have outstanding value for all humanity. There are 38 such sites in India, as of May 2021, which include 30 cultural sites, seven natural sites and one mixed site.


A must read for every cultural enthusiast
- Revanta Sarabhai

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The World Heritage Sites listing by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aims to promote awareness and safeguarding of heritage sites considered to have outstanding value for all humanity. There are 38 such sites in India, as of May 2021, which include 30 cultural sites, seven natural sites and one mixed site.
"The World Heritage Sites listing by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aims to promote awareness and safeguarding of heritage sites considered to have outstanding value for all humanity. There are 38 such sites in India, as of May 2021, which include 30 cultural sites, seven natural sites and one mixed site. This volume presents them all together for the first time, with informative, accessible commentary and stunning photographs.

This treasure trail begins deep in the jungles of central India, with the spirited figures that shimmer on the prehistoric cave walls of Bhimbetka. Caves of another kind draw us westwards, to the radiant artistry of the rock-cut sanctuaries of Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta Caves. Further north and east are monuments materially associated with the birth and spread of Buddhism across the subcontinent, all urgent testimonies to India’s tolerant past. Elsewhere in the south, mighty stone temples rise in the air, from the Chola temples to the ruins of Hampi, and, in the east, from the Sun Temple to Khajuraho, presenting sacred and profane visions of faith. Other masterpieces of pluralism borrow from Hindu, Jain and Islamic traditions to fashion a distinct identity, like the Taj Mahal or Rani-ki-Vav, both expressions of grief turned into beauty. Finally, even very old cultures must come into the new, finding novel vocabularies from colonial masters and Christian Europe, as in the railways chugging up snowy Darjeeling, or Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh.

India’s natural odyssey takes us through forested glades that dot the country, harbouring flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. From the gelid slopes of the Himalayas and their associated spiritual manifestations to the many wildlife sanctuaries, the natural and mixed properties include biospheres of exceptional beauty and sites of long interaction between people and the landscape.

Incredible Treasures is an eloquent homage to India’s long, layered history, bearing witness to its rich biodiversity and the creativity and influence of multiple communities, crafts and religious traditions."

Shikha Jain has worked on several nomination dossiers for India and other Asian countries. She was Member Secretary of the Advisory Committee on World Heritage Matters to the Ministry of Culture, India, from 2011–15, during its elected term in the World Heritage Committee. She has worked as a consultant to UNESCO New Delhi on specific missions. She is currently Asia-Pacific Coordinator for ICOFORT, ICOMOS; UNESCO Visiting Fellow at Category 2 Centre, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun; Haryana State Convener of INTACH and Founder Director, DRONAH. She has a post-graduate degree in Community Design and Preservation from Kansas University, USA and a doctorate in architectural history from De Montfort University, UK.

Vinay Sheel Oberoi was an IAS officer of the 1979 batch of the Assam- Meghalaya cadre. He held a post-graduate degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics. During his long career of nearly four decades, he served as a consultant with the World Bank, as the Chief (Industry and Technology) of UNDP in India, and the Director of the National Mission on Bamboo Applications (NMBA), among other assignments. From 2010 to 2014, he was the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of India to UNESCO, in Paris. On his return to India, Oberoi served as Secretary in the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India and Secretary of the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development. After his retirement he continued to work in an advisory capacity with various institutions, including several governmental bodies in the fields of education and culture. He passed away in 2020.

Eric Falt has worked in the field of diplomacy and international affairs for three decades, focusing initially on communications and moving to political affairs and the management of large teams. He has been Assistant Director-General of UNESCO in charge of external relations and public information, with the rank of Assistant Secretary-General of the UN. Previous assignments have included: attendance of UN Security Council negotiations in New York; participation in the Cambodia peace process; involvement in human rights and peacekeeping activities in Haiti; responsibilities in a humanitarian program in Iraq; and overall promotion of development activities for the United Nations in Pakistan. He also led the global communications effort of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and then the global outreach activities of the United Nations Secretariat in New York. He is currently Director, UNESCO India Cluster Office.

Rohit Chawla is one of India’s leading contemporary photographers. As the erstwhile Group Creative Director for the India Today Group and Open magazine, he has conceptualised and photographed over 300 magazine covers. He has had several solo exhibitions across the world and has also done three coffee table books.

Amareswar Galla is currently Professor of inclusive cultural leadership and Director of the International Centre for Inclusive Cultural Leadership at Anant National University in Ahmedabad. He is the founding Executive Director of the International Institute for the Inclusive Museum. He has previously held the posts of Professor of Museum Studies, the University of Queensland and Professor of Sustainable Heritage Development at the Australian National University. He is co-founder of the global movement for the inclusive museum and intangible heritage studies and has an extensive publication record. He was the producer and editor of World Heritage: Benefits Beyond Borders, published by Cambridge University Press and UNESCO in 2012.

Janhwij Sharma is Joint Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, overseeing all World Heritage Sites for ASI as the nodal agency for India. He is a conservation architect, graduating from Chandigarh College of Architecture with post-graduation in conservation from York, UK.

Amita Baig is a heritage management consultant with nearly three decades of experience in heritage preservation as well as sustainable tourism in India and the Asian region. She worked for many years in Agra with the Taj Mahal Conservation Collaborative. Baig represents the World Monuments Fund in India and has been a member of Government of India’s Advisory Committee on World Heritage Matters and served as a member of the Council of the National Culture Fund.

Jyoti Pandey Sharma is a Professor in Architecture at Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram University of Science and Technology, Murthal (Haryana), India. She engages with issues pertaining to built heritage and cultural landscapes, particularly those concerning the Indian subcontinent’s legacy of Islamic and colonial urbanism. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and in edited volumes. She has been an invited speaker at a number of international symposia and conferences. Her research has received awards and fellowships including a Summer Fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Harvard University and a UGC Associate at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, India.

V. B. Mathur is Chairman of the National Biodiversity Authority and former Director of UNESCO Category 2 Centre on World Natural Heritage Management and Training for Asia and the Pacific Region (UNESCO-C2C) at the Wildlife Institute of India. A former Indian Forest Service officer, he has made over 35 years of outstanding contribution towards a better understanding of Protected Areas and natural heritage management in India. He also serves as an expert member on various inter-governmental forums.

Rohit Jigyasu is a distinguished conservation architect and risk management professional, and the project manager on urban heritage, climate change and disaster risk management at ICCROM, Italy. He serves as Vice President of ICOMOS International for the period 2017–2020. From 2010–2018, he was UNESCO Chair at the Institute for Disaster Mitigation of Urban Cultural Heritage at Ritsumeikan University, Japan. He was the President of ICOMOS India from 2014–2018 and of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICORP) from 2010–2019. He has also been a member of ICOMOS International’s Executive Board since 2011.

Kiran Joshi has been researching lesser-known 19th- and 20th-century Indian heritage for over 25 years, and exploring the diverse meanings and manifestations of Indian modernity and shared heritage. Her seminal work on Chandigarh helped to introduce the notion of ‘Modern Heritage’ in India. She has been associated with ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on 20th-century heritage (ISC20C) since 2004, and she founded ICOMOS India’s National Committee on the subject (NSC20C) in 2013. She is a founder member of DOCMOMO India and served as President of ICOMOS India during 2019–2020.

Sonali Ghosh is an Indian Forest Service Officer. She has served as a site manager in the Kaziranga and Manas World Heritage Sites, and as a founding faculty at the UNESCO-Category 2 Centre at the Wildlife Institute of India. She is a certified IUCN World Heritage Site evaluation expert and has co-edited books on cultural landscapes in Asia as well as an anthology on natural heritage writing. Her current interests lie in exploring nature-culture linkages in heritage and Protected Area management."

• Preface: Eric Falt
• Foreword: Amitabh Kant
• Introduction: Shikha Jain and Vinay Sheel Oberoi
• Cultural Sites
   ○ Vanguards of Enlightenment
   ○ From the Rock Shelters to the Stupa and the Temple
       - Patrons of Stone
   ○ Symphonies
   ○ Creators of A Syncretic Legacy
   ○ Monuments, Mausoleums, Forts and Cities
   ○ Colonial Designers and Modern Architects
   ○ New Forms for an Old Civilisation
• Natural Sites
   ○ The Sylvan Landscapes of India
   ○ Museums of Rajasthan From the Himalayas and Eastern Forests to the Western Ghats
• Mixed Site
   ○ The Mountain God
   ○ An Icy Summit
• Sonali Ghosh and Shikha Jain
• The Nomination Process
• Sites on the Tentative List
• Bibliography
• About the Contributors
• Image Credits
• Index
ISBN 9789385360718
Pages 240
Language(s) English
Rights Available All rights available
"An eloquent homage to India's long layered history"

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