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Harappan City Dholavira in Gujarat gets UNESCO World Heritage Site tag

Harappan City Dholavira in Gujarat gets UNESCO World Heritage Site tag


  • GS 1 || Art & Culture || Culture of India || UNESCO Sites in India

Why in news?

  • The Harappan city of Dholavira, in present-day Gujarat, was named the 40th Indian site on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. UNESCO’s announcement came just days after another site, Ramappa Temple in Telangana, was admitted to the list recently.

Details of the move

  • According to the Ministry of Culture, India submitted the nomination for Dholavira to the World Heritage Centre in January 2020. The site was on the UNESCO’s tentative list since 2014.
  • With this successful nomination, India now enters the Super-40 club for World Heritage Site inscriptions.
  • Apart from India, Italy, Spain, Germany, China, and France have 40 or more World Heritage sites. India has 40 world heritage sites overall, which includes 32 cultural, 7 natural, and one mixed property. Ramappa Temple (Telangana) was India’s 39th World Heritage Site.

About Dholavira

  • It is the first site of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) in India to get the tag.
  • It dates from the 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BCE. Archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi discovered Dholavira in 1968.
  • Dholavira became the fourth site from Gujarat to be added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.
  • The site’s excavation between 1990 and 2005 under the supervision of archaeologist Ravindra Singh Bisht uncovered the ancient commercial city.
  • After Mohen-jo-Daro, Ganweriwala, and Harappa in Pakistan and Rakhigarhi in Haryana of India, Dholavira is the fifth largest metropolis of Indus Valley Civilization (IVC).

Other Unique Features

  • Cascading series of water reservoirs. It has two seasonal streams, Mansar and Manhar.
  • Outer fortification
  • Two multi-purpose grounds one of which was used for festivities and as a marketplace, nine gates with unique designs
  • Extensive use of stone as a building material
  • An expansive water management system designed to store every drop of water available shows the creativity of the people to survive against the rapid geo-climatic transformations and
  • The funerary architecture features tumulus — hemispherical structures like the Buddhist Stupas.
  • Artifacts that were found here include terracotta pottery, beads, gold and copper ornaments, seals, fish hooks, animal figurines, tools, urnsand some imported vessels.

What is a World Heritage site?

  • A World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by UNESCO for its special cultural or physical significance. The list of World Heritage Sites is maintained by the international ‘World Heritage Programme’, administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
  • The World Heritage List comprises 1121 properties of Outstanding Universal Value. Natural sites represent about 23% of this list, including 39 mixed (both cultural and natural) sites and 213 natural sites.

Protection of World Heritage

  • The Convention for the protection of world heritage,1972
    • The 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage developed from the merging of two separate movements: the first focusing on the preservation of cultural sites, and the other dealing with the conservation of nature.
    • The Convention defines the kind of natural or cultural sites which can be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List.
    • India ratified the Convention in 1977.
    • The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection, and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.
    • Every year International heritage day is celebrated on 18 April.

What is India doing for the protection of heritage sites?

  • Constitutional Provision- According to Article 51 A (f) of the Constitution of India, ‘It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.’
  • Legal framework: The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958- It provides for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance. It also provides for the regulation of archaeological excavations and the protection of sculptures, carvings, and other like objects.
    • The AMASR (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 –The Act prescribes the limits of the regulated and prohibited area around a monument by amending section 20 of AMASR Act 1958.
  • India celebrates World heritage day on 25 July every year.

Issues with the heritage conservation

  • Degradation and lack of conservation: Biological agents such as mosses, fungi, algae, and insects degrade building materials such as wood, bricks, stucco, and so on. Furthermore, temperature and moisture, which is a primary cause of monument deterioration, are major concerns. However, conservation efforts have primarily focused on World Heritage sites, while other monuments have been largely ignored and thus degraded over time.
  • Encroachments/illegal occupation: Encroachments on ancient monuments have been a major source of concern. These encroachments are carried out by local shopkeepers, souvenir vendors, or residents. These temporary or permanent structures are incompatible with the architecture of the monument or the surrounding environment. For example, the CAG Report of 2013 noted encroachment within the Taj Mahal’s premises near Khan-i-Bagh. Alam’s
  • Pollution: Various types of environmental pollution endanger heritage properties. Sulfur dioxide and other pollutants emitted by an oil refinery in Mathura and more than 200 furnaces in the Taj Ganj area, for example, harmed the Taj Mahal. Environmentalists, with the assistance of the Supreme Court, prohibited the emission of these polluting agents.
  • Governance issues: The Ministry of Culture’s governance is lax and deficient in areas such as policy and legislation adequacy, financial management, conservation project monitoring, and human resource provision to concerned agencies.
  • Funds: There is a scarcity of funds for conservation projects and upkeep. Furthermore, faulty conservation work budgeting exacerbates the problem.

Central Government’s Recent Initiatives

  • Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY)
    • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme on 21st January 2015, with a focus on the holistic development of heritage cities.
    • The scheme aims to preserve and revitalize the soul of the heritage city to reflect the city’s unique character by encouraging an aesthetically appealing, accessible, informative & secured environment.
  • Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan
    • This scheme is an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India. It was launched in September 2017 on World Tourism Day.
    • Under it, the government invites entities, including public sector companies, private sector firms as well as individuals, to develop selected monuments and heritage and tourist sites across India.
    • The corporate sector is expected to use corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds for the upkeep of the site.

Significance of the Protection of world heritage sites

  • Heritage sites and buildings can have a very positive influence on many aspects of the way a community develops.  Regeneration, housing, education, economic growth, and community engagement are examples of how heritage can make a very positive contribution to community life.
  • Protection & preservation:UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection, and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.
  • Economic benefits:The international recognition of the heritage precinct can significantly boost the local economy in various manners. It also gives a tremendous fillip to domestic and international tourism leading to increased employment generation, the creation of world-class infrastructure, and heritage memorabilia.
  • Access to funding:One of the most important benefits of getting listed among world heritage sites is access to annual financial grants from the World Heritage Fund, for identification, preservation, and promotion.
  • Global awareness:Another intangible benefit of being inscribed on the world heritage list is the development of global awareness of the site and its outstanding values.
  • A matter of pride: Furthermore, inclusion into the UNESCO’s list becomes a matter of pride to the nation.
  • Foster civic responsibility- Areas where the heritage is understood and valued tend to be better looked after than those where heritage items have no link with the community.  Such links help to foster civic responsibility and citizenship and contribute to everyone’s quality of life.


  • Holistic preservation of Indian heritage would necessitate pedagogical changes in schools and higher education aimed at rediscovering ancient Indian wisdom in arts, sciences, and philosophies, which would rely on mainstream fundamental research and R&D in the field. The economic viability of heritage will be a byproduct of the process as a result of the revival of traditional arts and crafts, also known as intangible heritage, and the introduction of new disciplines.

Mains model question

  • The cultural and natural heritage of a nation, as embodied in buildings, monuments, and natural wonders, is evidence of a nation’s or civilization’s history. Discuss