Prelims level : Art & Culture - Art & Culture Mains level : GS-I Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to Modern Times.
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  • Nomination dossiers of ‘Dholavira: A Harappan City’ and ‘Monuments and Forts of Deccan Sultanate’ have been submitted for inclusion in the World Heritage List for the year 2020 – Culture Minister.

UNESCO World Heritage List:

  • This list comprises the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A World Heritage Site is a landmark or an area selected by the UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, which is legally protected by international treaties.
  • The sites are regarded important for the collective and preservative interests of humanity.
  • To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an already-classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance.
  • The sites are intended for practical conservation for posterity, which otherwise would be subject to risk from human or animal trespassing, unmonitored/uncontrolled/unrestricted access, or threat from local administrative negligence.
  • The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 “states parties” that are elected by their General Assembly.
  • As of July 2019, a total of 1,121 World Heritage Sites exist across 167 countries. The maximum number of sites in one country is 55, both China and Italy having 55 each. India is in fifth position with 38 sites.
  • The first place to be declared a World Heritage Site: City of Quito (capital of Ecuador) in 1978.

Tentative Lists:

  • States Parties are encouraged to submit Tentative Lists to the UNESCO.
  • This list consists of properties which they consider to be cultural and/or natural heritage of outstanding universal value and therefore suitable for inscription on the World Heritage List.
  • The Tentative List should be submitted at least one year prior to the submission of any nomination.
  • Nominations to the World Heritage List will not be considered unless the nominated property has already been included on the State Party’s Tentative List.
  • Both Dholavira and the Deccan Sultanate forts and monuments are included in India’s Tentative List. There are another 40 sites in the Indian list.
  • Both were submitted in 2014.

Dholavira: A Harappan City:

  • Dholavira is located in the Khadir Island in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
  • It belonged to the Mature Harappan Phase.
  • It is a fortified quadrangular city set in a harsh and arid land. It was once a thriving metropolis for 1200 years between 3000 BCE and 1800 BCE.
  • It had access to the sea.
  • The city’s ruins show large-scale use of dressed stone in construction.
  • Highly polished stone pillars of square or circular section having a central hole are also seen.
  • To create a pillar, such segments were piled to attain the requisite height and a wooden pole was inserted to ensure stability. This method of constructing a column was an ingenious alternative to a monolithic column.
  • The city also had an excellent water conservation system that ensured regular water supply to the parched land.
  • Many antiquities have also been found during excavations.

Why is it included in the List?

  • The excavated site demonstrates the ingenuity of the Harappan people to evolve a highly organised system of town planning with perfected proportions, interrelation of functional areas, street pattern and an efficient water conservation system that supported life for more than 1200 years in a hot and arid climate.
  • Its water management system was one of the most efficient in the ancient world.
  • The city had a three-tier zonation comprising of distinct upper (citadel, bailey) and middle (having a distinct street-pattern, large scale enclosure and a ceremonial ground) towns enclosed by a lower town (with narrower streets, smaller enclosures and industrial area – this feature distinguishes it from the other metropolises of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
  • The importance of Dholavira’s planning was furthered with the excavation of Kampilya in Uttar Pradesh, a city considered of mythical origin in the Gangetic plains. Belonging to the Gangetic Civilization, which is considered the second phase of urbanization of the Indian subcontinent, Kampilya adopted the town planning principles (in terms of scale, hierarchy of space and road network) established in Dholavira.
  • The area is protected and managed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Globally, Dholavira can be compared to the cities of the Ancient River Valley Civilization, the urban metropolises of the Egyptian, Chinese and Mesopotamian civilisations.
  • In the region, Dholavira can be compared to the other major cities of Harappan culture like Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Kalibangan, Rakhigarhi, Banavali and Lothal. The excavated remains of the complete water system distinguish this site from others.

Monuments and Forts of the Deccan Sultanate:

  • The ‘Monuments of the Deccan Sultanate’ is a serial property comprising of four components.
  • They constitute the most representative, most authentic and best-conserved examples of Deccani Sultanate monuments in India.
  • The series demonstrates the exemplary convergence of national and international styles of Islamic architecture and their intersections with the prevalent Hindu architecture of the period in southern India, in present-day Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
  • The contributions of Deccan Sultanate to the arts and architecture of India is impressive with iconic Indo-Islamic monuments constructed in Gulbarga, Bidar, Bijapur and Hyderabad.
  • These sites emerged as important medieval fortifications and walled cities of the Deccan Sultanates with a vigorous new architectural style of the sultanate that emerged from encounters with the Deccan Hindu heartland of the period.
  • Individually, each of the components of the Deccan Sultanate cover important aspects of Sultanate history with Gulbarga evolving as the first capital of the Bahmani Kingdoms in mid-14thcentury CE including its impressive fortifications, Jami Masjid and royal tombs
  • Bidar emerged as the next Bahmani capital in the mid-15thCentury CE.
  • Further evolution of the Deccani Sultanate style was done by the Adil Shahi dynasty in the monuments at Bijapur such as the Gol Gumbaz that stands as the 2nd largest dome in world history.
  • The final diversification and manifestation of the style is seen in the Qutub Shahi monuments of Golconda fort, tombs and the Charminar at Hyderabad. The iconic Charminar is a ceremonial gateway built to celebrate the foundation of Hyderabad in 1591 A.D.
  • Subtly blending influences from Iran, West Asia, southern India, and sometimes Europe, as well as southern and northern India, the arts produced under these Deccan sultanates are markedly different from those of the rest of India and especially from those created under the Mughal patronage.
  • The monuments and citadels provide a unique testimony to the social, economic, cultural, political and technological landscape of the period as well as unique expressions of the religious and artistic flowering of the Islamic Sultanate in Southern India.
  • The monuments were also accompanied by the development of syncretic forms of art, architecture, language, literature, music, cuisine and costume.


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