Karnataka

Somanathapura temple included for World Heritage Site nomination

The 12th century Keshava temple at Somanathapura in Mysuru district. | Photo Credit: M.A. SRIRAM
R. Krishna Kumar MYSURU 27 September 2020 23:12 IST
Updated: 28 September 2020 08:12 IST

Belur and Halebid temples have been on the list for six years

The Belur, Halebid, and Somanathapura temples will be nominated for seeking the UNESCO World Heritage Site status and the final dossier is set for submission ahead of the September 30 deadline.

Both Belur and Halebid have been under the UNESCO’s tentative list for the last six years, and it was decided at the stakeholders’ meeting held recently to include the 12th century Keshava temple at Somanathapura as part of the serial nomination process under the Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas.

The State Archaeology Department has tied up with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Bengaluru, for the preparation of the dossier, and the work commenced in September last year.

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B.R. Poornima, Commissioner of the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, told The Hindu that the final dossier has been submitted to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which represents the country at the UNESCO world heritage meetings. She said the stakeholders’ meeting with local community members has also been conducted and there would be follow-up regarding site management.

Pankaj Modi, an architect who lead the team of experts in the preparation of the final dossier, said INTACH initially shortlisted 14 Hoysala temples across Karnataka for serial nomination last year and conducted a comprehensive study. “We pruned the number of temples from 14 to three for the present, and apart from Belur and Halebid, which were already on the tentative list, Somanathapura has been included,” he said.

The serial nomination process allows for inclusion of other monuments at a later date, and this has happened in the case of Darasuram and Gangaikonda Cholapuram after Brihadeshwara temple at Thanjavur was first inscribed as a World Heritage Site, Mr. Modi said.

UNESCO defines serial nominations as any two or more unconnected sites that may contain a series of cultural or natural properties in different locations, provided that they are related because they belong to the same historical and cultural group. Other such serial nominations include the forts at Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur, Jhalawar, and Jaisalmer are examples.

However, Mr. Modi pointed out that the inscription as a World Heritage Site was still long ways off as the process was complex and elaborate.

Pandemic slows process

It is an 18-month process from the date of submission and there will be feedback from UNESCO, followed by field visits, approval of site management plans and more. Besides, the COVID-9 pandemic has upset the calendar of events, so this exercise could get stretched a little longer, he said.

There are 137 Hoysala monuments, of which 43 are protected by the ASI and 55 by the State Archaeology Department. Thirty-nine monuments are unprotected.

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