Rajasthan's six majestic forts received international recognition with Unesco including them in the World Heritage Sites on Friday.
The six forts — Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Jaisalmer, Ranthambhore (Sawai Madhopur), Gagaron (Jhalawar) and Amber (Jaipur) — were recognised as serial World Heritage Sites in the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia .
“The eclectic architecture of the forts, some up to 20 km in circumference, bears testimony to the power of the Rajput princely States that flourished in the region from the 8th to the 18th centuries. Enclosed within defensive walls are major urban centres, palaces, trading centres and other buildings including temples that often predate the fortifications within which developed an elaborate courtly culture that supported learning, music and the arts,” the WHC said in its official declaration.
The WHC took special note of the forts' use of the natural defences offered by the terrain.
“The forts use the natural defences offered by the landscape: hills, deserts, rivers, and dense forests. They also feature extensive water harvesting structures, largely still in use today. The extensive fortifications up to 20 km in circumference optimised various kinds of hill terrain, specifically the river at Gagron, the dense forests at Ranthambore, and the desert at Jaisalmer, and exhibit important phase of development of an architectural typology based on established traditional Indian principles,” it said.
Rajasthanis celebrated as the news about the announcement spread.
Tourism, Art and Culture Minister Binak Kak broke the news to the State from Amber, one of the forts figuring in the list.
“Enthusiastic supporters wanted to light fireworks but since these are now World Heritage Sites, I asked them to take the celebrations outside the premises of the (Amber) fort,” said Ms. Kak.
“The forts will now receive enhanced international recognition the way Jantar Mantar in Jaipur did after being inducted in the World Heritage List in 2010. This selection will also pave the way for other monuments to be nominated to the World Heritage List,” she said.
“In fact, the work relating to Stepwells of Abhaneri, Bandikui, Bundi as well as the fresco paintings of Shekhawati region for being submitted for consideration to the Unesco list has already started,” the minister informed.
Efforts like these, said Ms. Kak, will reinforce Rajasthan's position as a favoured destination on the world tourism map.
The recognition came after concerted efforts by the State and Central governments.
Since 2011, several missions of the International Council on Monuments and Forts (ICOMOS), advisory body to the Unesco, visited Rajasthan and discussed the nominations in great detail with the State archaeology department, the Archaeological Survey of India and the Indian Advisory Committee on World Heritage under the Ministry of Culture.
“This should be a lesson for the government of India and the ASI and they should try and get other similar forts across the country like Kalinjar in Uttar Pradesh, Mandu in Madhya Pradesh etc nominated to the World Heritage list,” said Ms. Kak.