The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is now a World Heritage Monument. The 34th session of the World Heritage Committee, presently underway in Brasilia, has inscribed Jantar Mantar in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's World Heritage List. Thirty-three countries across the world had submitted 32 sites for consideration this year.

The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur was chosen since ‘it is the most significant and the best preserved of India's historic observatories.'

‘Architectural innovation'

The UNESCO website observes that these structures ‘designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, embody several architectural and instrumental innovations.'

Located outside the city palace, this large stone observatory with its many instruments was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in the 18th century. It is one of the one of the four existing astronomical observatories in India. The others are located in Varanasi, Delhi and Ujjain. The fifth one built in Mathura is not extant. The Samrat Yantra in Jaipur is one of the largest sundials in the world, with its gnomon raising about 73 feet above its base.

India had also submitted the Matheran Light Railway line for consideration as an extension of the Mountain Railways of India, which includes the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Nilgiri Railway and Kalka-Shimla Railway that are already inscribed as heritage sites.

Other sites

The other international sites added to the list this year include, 11 Australian convict sites, the palace ensemble at ad-Dir'iyah in Saudi Arabia, Tabriz historic bazaar complex in Iran and the natural site of the Central Highlands in Sri Lanka.

Every year the World Heritage committee reviews sites proposed by various countries and inscribes the selected new ones to the heritage list. It also reviews the state of conservation of the sites already inscribed.

So far, about 890 properties are included in the list for their “outstanding universal value.” The committee also oversees the disbursement of about $4 million annually from the World Heritage Fund.