In a major diplomatic triumph, the 13th century Ramappa temple in Palampet, Telangana was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Sunday. At the ongoing online meeting of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in Fuzhou, China, the decision was reached after a consensus, with Norway opposing the inscription while Russia led an effort for the immediate inscription of the temple at 4.36 p.m. IST.
A consensus with 17 countries backing the move ensured the inscription of the site.
The nomination for a World Heritage Site for the Ramappa and Kakatiya temples was made in 2014. The site was in the reckoning for inscription in 2020 but the WHC meeting was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Built by Racherla Senapati Rudrayya, a general of Kakatiya king Ganapatideva, in the 13th century, the main temple is flanked by the collapsed structures of the Kateshwarayya and Kameshwarayya temples in Palampet, about 220 km from Hyderabad.
The temple, known for its exquisite craftsmanship and delicate relief work, is savvy blend of technical know-how and materials of its time. The foundation is built with the “sandbox technique”, the flooring is granite and the pillars basalt. The lower part of the temple is red sandstone while the white gopuram is built with light bricks that reportedly float on water. An inscription dates the temple to 1135 Samvat-Saka on the eight day of Magha (January 12, 1214).
Earlier, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) cited nine shortcomings at the site after an initial visit in 2019, but on Sunday a majority veered round to India’s view about the site’s outstanding universal value.
India had mounted a diplomatic offensive to ensure the World Heritage Site status for the Ramappa temple by reaching out to other countries whose representatives were to vote on the proposal.
At the WHC session on Sunday, Russia invoked Rule 22.7 allowing India to make a statement after ICOMOS made its decision known to defer the examination of nomination.
Russia, backed by 17 other countries, forced the amendment to reach a consensus. India won the consensus with Ethiopia, Oman, Brazil, Egypt, Spain, Thailand, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Ethiopia and others backing its case for inscribing the site.
Norway was the only country which opposed the move citing ICOMOS’s conclusion. An amendment to the boundaries of the site saw a lot of debate with Norway demanding major changes while the other countries wanted minor changes to the boundary.
According to the temple priest, some of the iconography on the temple was damaged during the invasion of Malik Kafur in 1310. Treasure hunters vandalised the rest. But the biggest test for the temple was an earthquake in the 17th century (one of the biggest was that of 7.7-8.2-magnitude on June 16, 1819). The flooring was rocked by the waves, while the pillars and vertical structure stayed intact because of the sandbox technique used in its construction.