Pune: Maratha Military Landscapes To Be Nominated For UNESCO World Heritage Recognition

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Mubarak Ansari

Pune, 30th January 2024: India is set to nominate the “Maratha Military Landscapes of India” for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List for the year 2024-25. This significant nomination comprises twelve distinct components, each exemplifying the strategic military prowess of Maratha rule.

The proposed components include Salher Fort, Shivneri Fort, Lohgad, Khanderi Fort, Raigad, Rajgad, Pratapgad, Suvarnadurg, Panhala Fort, Vijay Durg, Sindhudurg in Maharashtra, and Gingee Fort in Tamil Nadu.

Developed between the 17th and 19th centuries, the Maratha Military Landscapes showcase an exceptional fortification and military system envisioned by the Maratha rulers. This intricate network of forts, spread across diverse geographical regions including the Sahyadri mountain ranges, Konkan Coast, Deccan Plateau, and the Eastern Ghats, demonstrates the unique integration of landscape, terrain, and physiographic characteristics.

Out of the over 390 forts in Maharashtra, only 12 have been selected under the Maratha Military Landscapes, with eight forts protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the remaining four by the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Maharashtra.

The nominated forts exhibit diverse characteristics, including hill forts like Salher, Shivneri, Lohgad, Raigad, Rajgad, and Gingee; hill-forest fort – Pratapgad; hill-plateau fort – Panhala; coastal fort – Vijaydurg; and island forts – Khanderi, Suvarnadurg, and Sindhudurg.

The Maratha Military ideology traces its roots back to the 17th century during the reign of Maratha King Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1670 CE) and continued through subsequent rules until the Peshwa rule in 1818 CE.

The nomination falls under the category of cultural criteria, specifically under criteria (iii), (iv), and (vi), emphasizing the unique testimony to a cultural tradition, outstanding architectural and historical significance, and tangible association with events or living traditions.

India currently boasts 42 UNESCO World Heritage sites, with 34 cultural sites, seven natural sites, and one mixed site. Maharashtra contributes significantly with six World Heritage Sites, including the recently added Western Ghats of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. The Maratha Military Landscapes of India, included in the Tentative List of World Heritage sites in 2021, is the sixth cultural property nominated for inclusion in the World Heritage List from Maharashtra. As the nomination progresses, it holds the promise of further enriching India’s cultural and historical representation on the global stage.