Telangana’s Ramappa Temple becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site

With this, India has 39 such sites, and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is now the custodian of 23 world heritage sites

On Sunday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) inscribed the 13th-century Ramappa in Palampet, Telangana as a World Heritage Site. A consensus was reached in this regard during the ongoing virtual meet of the World Heritage Committee.

As soon as the announcement came, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Congratulations to everyone, especially the people of Telangana. The iconic Ramappa Temple showcases the outstanding craftsmanship of the great Kakatiya dynasty. I would urge you all to visit this majestic Temple complex and get a first-hand experience of its grandness.”

Union Minister for Culture and Tourism, G Kishan Reddy – a Lok Sabha MP from the neighbouring Secunderabad – added, “On behalf of the nation, particularly from people of Telangana, I express my gratitude to the Prime Minister for his guidance and support.”

While India submitted the nomination dossier for Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple, Telangana, to the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in January 2019, it was on UNESCO’s Tentative list since 2014. While WHC could not meet in 2020 owing to the pandemic, the nominations for 2020 and 2021 are being discussed in the online meeting currently underway.

It is said that as many as 17 of the 21 member nations supported the inscription. With this, India has 39 sites on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is now the custodian of 23 world heritage sites.

An inscription in the temple dates it to the year 1213 and says it was built by a Kakatiya General Recherla Rudra Reddy, during the period of the Kakatiya ruler Ganapati Deva. Talking about the outstanding universal value of the temple, Raghvendra Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Culture (under which the ASI functions), told Indian Express, “Ramappa is the main Shiva temple in a larger walled temple complex, which includes several smaller temples and structures. The temple stands as a testimony to the highest level of creative, artistic and engineering talents involving various experimentations in expressive art forms of the Kakatiya period (1123-1323).”

It is built of sandstone with decorated beams and pillars of carved granite and dolerite, with a distinctive Vimana (inner sanctum) made of lightweight porous bricks, also known as the “floating bricks”. The sculptures of the Ramappa Temple, especially its bracket figures, have their lustre intact even after 800 years of construction. “The temple is a living memory of the legend of the Kakatiyas who brought a golden era to the Telugu speaking region of South India,” Singh added.

Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple is nominated under Criterion i (Masterpiece of human creative genius) and criterion iii (bearing a unique or at least an exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition, which is living or which has disappeared). Earlier, the International Council of Historic Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) had evaluated Ramappa’s heritage status and made some recommendations.

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