UNESCO team concludes visit to Hoysala temples in Karnataka for World Heritage Site tag evaluation

The team visited Belur, Halebid, Somanathapur temples which are India’s official nomination for World Heritage Site status

Updated - September 16, 2022 09:05 pm IST

Published - September 16, 2022 06:00 pm IST - MYSURU


A UNESCO team, including ICOMOS expert Tiang Kian Boon, visited the Keshava temple in Somanathapura in Mysuru district, on September 16, 2022.

A UNESCO team, including ICOMOS expert Tiang Kian Boon, visited the Keshava temple in Somanathapura in Mysuru district, on September 16, 2022.



Tiang Kian Boon, ICOMOS expert, taking a close look of the sculptures embellishing the Keshava temple at Somanathpur in Mysuru district on on September 16, 2022.

Tiang Kian Boon, ICOMOS expert, taking a close look of the sculptures embellishing the Keshava temple at Somanathpur in Mysuru district on on September 16, 2022. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The UNESCO team, including an expert from International Commission on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), visited the 13th century Keshava temple at Somanathapur in Mysuru district on September 16 before concluding its tour of Hoysala monuments in Karnataka.

The visit is a precursor to the ICOMOS expert, Tiang Kian Boon, submitting his report to UNESCO, which will decide whether the monuments could be accorded the World Heritage Site tag, possibly some time in 2023.

The Chennakeshava temple at Belur, Hoysaleshwara temple at Halebid and Keshava temple at Somanathapur are India’s nominations for the World Heritage Site tag. Of these, the temples at Belur and Halebid have been in UNESCO’s tentative list since 2014.

At Somanathapur, Mr. Tiang Kian Boon had specific queries regarding the architecture of the temple and the sculptures. He was apprised of its salient features by a team of officials, comprising Jahnwij Sharma, Additional Director-General (Conservation and Scientific Preservation), Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

A team from INTACH-Bengaluru, which prepared the dossier for submission to UNESCO, including Pankaj Modi, architect, Meera Iyer, convener of INTACH-Bengaluru, and Aravind Chandramohan, co-convener, briefed Mr. Tiang Kian Boon in the presence of Mysuru district Deputy Commissioner Bagadi Gautham and A. Devaraju, Commissioner, Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage.

UNESCO expert meets local stakeholders at Somanathapur

Mr. Tiang Kian Boon also met local stakeholders, including representatives from Somanathapur village, who were asked to spell out their concerns, if any.

Mr. Gautham translated the views of the local community for the benefit of the ICOMOS expert. The local community was positive in their views on the evaluation by UNESCO and expressed optimism that development of tourism would benefit villages in the vicinity.

The local representatives opined that the historic monument, with its sublime architecture, was being appreciated only by the locals. If upgraded as a World Heritage Site, it would be universally known, and bring fame and pride to the village as well.

Mr. Tiang Kian Boon appreciated the opinion of  the villagers and said that it synced with the UNESCO’S  views on shared universal values.

Also Read - Karnataka Tourism | One State, many worlds, and a missed opportunity

The villagers wanted the process of according the World Heritage Site tag to the temple to be expedited, but aired concerns about relocation.

However, their fears were allayed by Mr. Gautham and Sudha Murty, who heads the State Tourism Vision Group.  

The local community was informed that the ASI would continue to be the custodian of the monument, and not UNESCO, as suspected by a few villagers.

But the stakeholders were apprised of the imperatives of adhering to certain ASI norms and guidelines in the surrounding areas so as to preserve the aesthetics of the monuments.

On September 17, the UNESCO team will meet officials of the Karnataka Government, including the Chief Secretary, in Bengaluru.

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