About: Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple

Telangana’s Ramappa temple inscribed as a World Heritage Site

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In News:

  • In a major diplomatic triumph for India, the 13th century Ramappa temple in Palampet, Telangana, was inscribed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site

About: Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple

  • Rudreshwara, popularly known as Ramappa Temple, is located in the village of Palampur approximately 200km north-east of Hyderabad, in the State of Telangana. 
  • It is the main Shiva temple (worshipped as Lord Ramalingeswara) in a walled complex and was built during the period of Kakatiya (1123–1323 CE) ruler Ganapati Deva by his General Recherla Rudra
  • The sandstone temple, whose construction began in 1213 CE, is located close to the shores of the Ramappa Cheruvu, a Kakatiya-built water reservoir.

  • The temple’s sculptures of high artistic quality illustrate regional dance customsand Kakatiyan culture.
  • It features decorated beams and pillars of carved granite and dolerite with a distinctive and pyramidal Vimana (horizontally stepped tower).
  • Due to all this, Marco Polo, an Italian traveler, during his visit to the Kakatiya Empire, allegedly called the temple “the brightest star in the galaxy of temples“.
  • Some of the iconography on the temple was damaged during the invasion of Malik Kafur in 1310. The temple was also damaged by an earthquake in the 17th century and the one which struck in 1819.

About: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

  • About:
    • A World Heritage Site (WHS) is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the UNESCO under the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972.
    • These sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance.
    • The sites, classified as cultural, natural and mixed (meeting both cultural and natural criteria) heritage around the world, are considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

  • Selection criteria:
    • To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be a somehow unique landmarkwhich is geographically and historically identifiable and has special cultural or physical significance.
    • For example, World Heritage Sites might be ancient ruins or historical structures, buildings, cities, deserts, forests, islands, lakes, monuments, mountains or wilderness areas.

  • Demarcation of sites: These sites are demarcated by UNESCO as protected zonesand the list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programadministered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (composed of 21 “states parties”, elected by UNESCO General Assembly).
    • The World Heritage Program began with the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972.
    • Since then, 193 states parties have ratified the convention, making it one of the most widely recognized international agreements and the world’s most popular cultural programme.

  • Number of such sites: A total of 1,121 World Heritage Sites (869 cultural, 213 natural and 39 mixed) exist across 167 countries.
    • With 55 selected areas each, China and Italy are the countries with the most sites on the list.
    • Presently, there are 39 World Heritage Sites (including Ramappa temple) located in India (out of these, 30 are cultural, 7 are natural and 1 is mixed).

  • Importance: The sites are intended for practical conservation for posterity, which otherwise would be subject to risk from human or animal or threat from local administrative negligence.

About the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):

  • Founded in 1945 as the successor to the League of Nations’ International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, UNESCO is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN), headquartered at the World Heritage Centre in Paris, France.
  • It is aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences, and culture.
  • It has 193 member states and 11 associate members as well as partners in the nongovernmental, intergovernmental and private sector.

News Summary:

  • In a major diplomatic triumph for India, the 13th century Ramappa temple in Telangana became the 39th Indian site on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
    • The nomination for a World Heritage Site for the Ramappa and Kakatiya temples was made in 2014.
    • The temple was included in the proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site “The Glorious Kakatiya Temples and Gateways”, in 2019 on the “tentative list“.

  • At the ongoing online meeting of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in Fuzhou, China, the decision was reached after a consensus (17 countries backing the move).
  • Norway was the only country to oppose the listing citing ICOMOS’s comments on the site from 2019.
    • In 2019, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) cited nine shortcomings at the Ramappa Temple site after an initial visit.
      • ICOMOS is a professional association founded in 1965 in Warsaw as a result of the Venice Charter of 1964 (now headquartered in Charenton-le-Pont, France).
      • It offers advice to UNESCO on World Heritage Sites for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places around the world.

    • India had to mount 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.
    • The consensus was built around India’s view of the site’s outstanding universal value, with Russia leading an effort for the immediate inscription of the temple.

 History & Culture

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