World Heritage Day is observed every year on 18th April as a reminder that world’s rich heritage needs to be valued and preserved. It’s originally the “International Day for Monuments and Sites” established in the year 1982 by the International Council for Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).
It was approved by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1983. Experts from several fields including architects, engineers, geographers, and archeologists come together and think of ways so as to protect the world’s most beautiful sites and culturally important monuments.
World Heritage Day 2018
There are 10,000 members in more than 150 countries in the world, who are constantly working to preserve old sites and identify new ones that are added to the list. Every year, there is a different theme for the occasion and this year it is: “Heritage for Generations.” It simply lays emphasis on the fact that we need to protect and preserve our monuments for the generations to come.
Heritage Sites of India
In India, there are 36 world heritage sites and the country stands at the 6th rank in terms of most number of heritage sites. India is a country with a rich and interesting past as it has been time and again ruled by leaders ranging from various eras and cultures.
It’s because of this wide range of rulers and their diversity that our country possesses several memorable monuments and structures that are still an important part of India’s heritage. From tombs to temples and from minarets to palaces, we have a rich and diverse treasure of historical assets.
Some of these world-renowned sites include:
• Keoladeo National Park: Earlier known as the Bharatpur bird sanctuary, this is a famous avifauna sanctuary located in Rajasthan that hosts more than 350 species of migratory and resident birds like herons, eagles, cormorants, etc.
• Nanda Devi: Situated in Uttarakhand, this is India’s second highest mountain and 23rd highest peak in the world. Apart from being home to some endangered animals like snow leopard, it has a gentle landscape of Valley of Flowers praised by botanists from all over the world.
• Khajuraho Group of Monuments: These were built by the Chola Dynasty with a perfect blend of architecture and sculpture. Currently, only 20 temples are remaining that are divided into 3 groups belonging to Hinduism and Jainism.
• Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi: This site contains a group of Buddhist monuments including pillars, palaces, temples, and monasteries. It’s believed to be the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in existence.
Heritage for Generations
The fact that we still have centuries-old forts and buildings around us is quite astonishing but at the same time, it becomes all the more important to protect these sites. Similarly, even the natural sites like Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand to Sundarbans in West Bengal are valuable gifts of nature playing an important role in representing India’s beauty and resources.
World Heritage Day Celebrations
Every year, people from all over the world gear up to attend and/or organize events that are dedicated to the cause of spreading awareness and discussing the significance of this day. There are excursions, press conferences, heritage walks, exhibitions, symposiums, awarding of prizes, photography contests, and what not.
The World Heritage Day is the perfect occasion to educate and spread awareness as to why we need to protect these beautiful sites for the generations to come.
As per UNESCO,
“Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.”