UNAKOTI IN UNESCO HERITAGE LIST !
SANKHA SUBHRA DEVBARMAN
December 22, 2022, 11:13:52
Ministry of Tourism recently Tweeted and shared the news in its Facebook page . It shared said congratulatory news which read like ‘‘India adds 3 more sites to UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Tentative List.’’ Those three sites were Vadnagar, a multi-layered Historic town, Gujarat. Sun Temple, Modhera along with its adjoining monuments, Gujarat and Rock-cut Sculptures and Reliefs of Unakoti, Tripura.
With this, India now has 52 sites on the UNESCO Tentative List. The List indicates the rich cultural and natural wealth of India and shows huge diversity of our heritage. But this is not an end. India is committed to add more sites on the World Heritage List. ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) is instrumental for their role in identifying more monuments and places for the UNSECO’s world heritage nomination.
It is to be mentioned hetre that UNESCO is a cultural organisation that makes some directives and principles on the basis of which a list of heritage sites is declared as world heritage. This declaration results in the growth of country’s economy by increasing the attraction of tourists and generating more income to the govt.
Vadnagar is a municipality under Mehsana district of Gujarat. A multi-layered Historic town, the history of Vadnagar stretches back to nearly 8th Century BCE., The town still retains a large number of historic buildings that are primarily religious & residential in nature.
The Sun Temple, Modhera dedicated to Surya dev, is a gem of temple architecture in India & the pride of Gujarat. It is the earliest of such temples which set trends in architectural & decorative details, representing Solanki style at its best.
Located in north-eastern part of Tripura, Unakoti dates back to 7th – 9th centuries is known as an ancient holy place associated with Shaiva worship. The site is massive gallery set amongst the forest displaying number of towering low relief images in unique style, making it a masterpiece of human creative genius. Crafted by expert artisans, the stone sculptures brought the region’s local legends to life. The word ‘Unakoti’ literally translates to less than one crore, it is known as Subrai Khung in Kokborok language. The site has suffered centuries of neglect causing degradation and loss of considerable scale to the rock art. Since its adoption by the ASI as a heritage site, the situation has slightly improved, though a lot of work including substantial excavation remains to be undertaken. The Centre has recently granted Rs 12 crore to the state for developing the area,
The myth behind Unakoti carvings tells of Lord Shiva and his famous wrath. As per the story, on one of his trips to Kashi, Shiva was accompanied by ninety-nine lakh ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine gods and goddesses. The entourage spent a night at this location and were expected to awaken and make their way to the pilgrimage site before dawn. However, none of the other gods apart from Lord Shiva himself awoke. Enraged at his companions, the destroyer unleashed his fury upon the lot and turned them all to stone, lending the site its name.
Another legend speaks of a fine artisan named Kallu Kumhar, who asked to accompany Parvati and Lord Shiva and their entourage on their journey to Mount Kailash. This was when Parvati suggested that he build one crore stone sculptures of Shiva and his company to appease the lord. But the catch was that he had only one night to do so. Skilled at what he did, Kallu managed to make almost one crore sculptures, falling short by one.
Now recognition of Unakoti (although in the tentative list) by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site is a cultural or natural landmark. Historical site like Unakoti is thus deemed worthy of preservation due to its outstanding universal value to humanity, in the present and for future generations.
Unakoti being a part of World Heritage Site henceforth will have multiple benefits and advantages as it will bring international attention to the need for the preservation and conservation of the site. UNECO’s recognition will help to bring tourism to the site, with its accompanying greater economic benefits to the host country and local area.
It can also provide funds for restoration, preservation, and training besides promoting national and local pride in the international level. Unakoti, Tripura will also have closer ties with the United Nations system due to the prestige and support it provides that will further provide access to global project management resources. Due to UNECO’s support , partnerships between government, the private sector, and NGOs to achieve conservation goals will be now possible. Another notable thing is that Unakoti is now protected under the Geneva Convention against destruction or misuse during wartime !
After Unakoti, henceforth our collective efforts are needed for enlisting Ujjayanta Palace and Neer Mahal in UNESCO’s world heritage sites.