“It is not the honour that you take with you, but the heritage you leave behind”
Celebrated each year in the month of April, dated 18th, World heritage day is the International day for monuments and sites all across the globe. There are many heritage sites globally, which are very vulnerable to humans. The World heritage day basically focusses on increasing awareness of the public about the cultural heritage, efforts that should be done to protect it and various conservation methods to put up for it.
Heritage site is intended for the practical conservations, which would be in risk of human poaching, wars, hunting etc. if not taken care.
What is a Heritage?
Heritage is something that has been handed from the past to the future generations. A heritage site is any natural or man-made site which is of a great importance internationally. Heritage site requires special protection and attention. Heritage sites are recognised officially by The United Nations (UN) United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
According to UNESCO, Heritage sites are important for cultural and physical significance. Globally there are 1,052 heritage sites having 203 natural, 814 cultural and 35 mixed. Many of these are in danger caused by pollution, humans and changing weather patterns.
As per statistics, Italy has the most heritage sites (53) in the world and Netherlands has the least. India ranks 6th in the list of number of heritage sites present. Such sites are marked as protected zones by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation).
Heritage sites reflect the cultural, natural and architectural aspects of a country. Heritage sites help a country to attract a lot of tourists every year increasing the country’s popularity all over the world. Every individual should take the responsibility for the protection and conservation of the heritage sites present in their own country.
For a country to have its sites in the list of heritage sites, it has to nominate the sites first. A tentative list is prepared first which consists of the names of cultural and natural sites. Later, some sites are selected from tentative list and placed into a nominal file.
After that, the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the World Conservation Union select their choices from the nominal file and make their recommendations to the World Heritage Committee. The meeting for the selection of new or removing old heritage sites takes place once in a year.
There are 10 selection criteria for a site to be considered as a heritage site. The particular site, if falls into any one of those criteria is finally considered as a heritage site.
In modern times heritage sites are sometimes flooded with people or tourists due to which the natural, peace maintaining aspect of the particular heritage site is going away slowly.
Examples of heritage sites in India
- Kaziranga (Assam)
- Manas wildlife sanctuary (Assam)
- Mahabodhi temple complex at Bodh Gaya (Bihar)
- Humayun’s tomb (New Delhi)
- Qutub minar (Delhi)
- Red Fort complex (Delhi)
- Churches and convents of Goa (Goa)
- Champaner- Pavagadh Archaeological park (Gujarat)
- Group of monuments at Hampi (Karnataka)
- Group of monuments at Pattadakal (Karnataka)
- Buddhist monuments at Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh)
- Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh)
- Khajuraho group of monuments (Madhya Pradesh)
- Ajanta Caves (Maharashtra)
- Ellora caves (Maharashtra)
- Elephanta caves (Maharashtra)
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Maharashtra)
- Sun Temple (Odisha)
- Keoladeo national park (Rajasthan)
- Jantar Mantar (Rajasthan)
- Great living chola temple (Tamil Nadu)
- Group of monuments in Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu)
- Agra Fort (Uttar Pradesh)
- Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh)
- Taj Mahal (Uttar Pradesh)
- Mountain railways of India
- Nanda devi and valley of flowers (Uttarakhand)
- Sunderbans National park (West Bengal)
- Western Ghats
- Hill forts of Rajasthan
- Rani ki vav (Gurajat)
- Great Himalayan national park
- Nalanda (Bihar)
- Khangchendzonga National park (Sikkim)
- The architectural work of Le Corbusier (Chandigarh)
- Historic city of Ahmadabad (Gujarat).
About World heritage day
International day for monuments and sites was being celebrated on 18th April, 1982 on the occasion of a symposium which was organised by ICOMOS in Tunisia. From that day onwards, this day was suggested to be celebrated all over the world as World heritage day.
This idea was approved by UNESCO General Conference who passed a resolution recommending that member states should examine the possibility of declaring 18th of April as International day for monuments and sites, traditionally known as world heritage day.
Heritage day is celebrated all over the world in many ways. Some of them are:
- Aware raising activities in school, colleges and offices.
- Exhibition of various heritage sites present all over the world. Exhibition can be in the form of paintings, photographs etc.
- Publication of books, cards, post cards showing the heritage sites and citing that importance, ways to conserve them and how to visit them.
- Publishing articles in newspapers, magazines, broadcasting shows on televisions about the rich heritage and its importance.
- Schools and colleges can arrange visits to monuments and sites present in their city to make the students aware of the heritage in their country.
- Organising quizzes, conferences, seminars etc. for increasing knowledge about heritage over the globe.
Danger to our heritage sites
There are several factors which contribute to the danger to our heritage sites. Currently, there are 52 heritage sites all over the world which is in the condition of extreme danger. Some of them are:
- Armed conflict and war: Wars are very harmful to humans as well as heritage sites. Explosions during wars, bullet firing, camping for the soldiers in or near the heritage sites may cause a great harm to them.
- Earthquakes: Earthquake is a type of natural calamity which can destroy natural heritages and can cause harm to them which cannot be harmed. Specially, the man-made ones, which were made using the ancient architecture, cannot be repaired.
- Pollution: Global warming and pollution causes a great damage to ancient heritage sites. One example is Taj Mahal from India which used to be milky white, now turning to yellow due to the pollution and acid rains (acid rains are oxides of sulphur and nitrogen when mixed with rainwater forms acid and when it rains, it acts as a corrosive reagent enough to destroy monuments, plants and animals)
- Poaching: Illegal hunting or capture of any land causes harm to natural heritage sites to a great extent.
- Uncontrolled urbanisation: Urbanisation to an extent is okay when it comes to settlement of people but now a days, many natural habitats and even natural heritage sites are being cleared for the construction of buildings, parks, malls etc.
What can we do on our part?
Everyone should do their own part in World Heritage day. One should not let any important site disappear from the world due to greed in humans, one should protect and preserve it for future generations.
There are some of the measures we can take:
- Try to reduce pollution: There are many ways to reduce pollution such as using car pool, stop deforestation, use eco- friendly measures of waste disposal, try to minimize the waste production.
- Visiting heritage sites in your state or country: Visit and appreciate the construction of the ancient heritage sites in your country and try to increase awareness to the people you know.
- Attend and make your close ones attend seminars, functions, events, quizzes related to World heritage.