Sudha Murty Calls for UNESCO Recognition of India’s Hidden Heritage Gems

Sudha Murty Calls for UNESCO Recognition of India's Hidden Heritage Gems

Sudha Murty Calls for UNESCO Recognition of India's Hidden Heritage Gems

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Chetna Raja

In her debut speech in the Rajya Sabha, philanthropist and author Sudha Murty passionately advocated for the promotion of domestic tourism through the recognition of several Indian destinations as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Murty, the mother-in-law of former UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and wife of Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy, emphasized the need to focus on 57 pending sites that hold significant cultural, historical, and natural value.

One of the key sites highlighted by Murty is Shravanabelagola in Karnataka. This Jain pilgrimage center, known for the towering 57-foot Gommateshwara Bahubali statue, is a major religious destination that attracts numerous devotees. Similarly, Mandu in Madhya Pradesh, with its splendid Afghan architecture including the Jahaz Mahal and Hindola Mahal, stands as a testament to the region’s rich history.

Murty also drew attention to the Unakoti rock carvings in Tripura, often referred to as the ‘Angkor Wat of the Northeast.’ These ancient Shaivite sculptures are already shortlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcasing their immense cultural significance. In Mizoram, the natural root bridges are unique natural wonders that Murty believes should be celebrated and preserved.

In Tamil Nadu, the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam is an architectural marvel that deserves global recognition. Recently, the temple saw a large turnout of devotees for the Chithirai Ther festival, highlighting its religious importance. Similarly, the Mughal Gardens in Jammu and Kashmir, with their distinct features, are popular film shooting locations yet await UNESCO status.

Sarnath in Madhya Pradesh, where Buddha preached his first sermon 2,500 years ago, holds profound historical and religious importance. Murty stressed that these ancient monuments should be recognized as World Heritage Sites. Additionally, the Maratha Military Landscapes, including forts like Shivneri, Raigad, and Pratapgad in Maharashtra, are significant for their strategic military history and are nominated for UNESCO recognition.

Karnataka’s Gol Gumbaz, famous for its enormous dome, has narrowly missed UNESCO status multiple times despite its architectural grandeur. Lastly, Majuli in Assam, a culturally rich river island next to the Brahmaputra River, remains largely unknown yet holds potential as a prime destination for tourism and recreation.

Sudha Murty’s call to action underscores the urgent need to recognize and preserve these invaluable sites. By promoting these hidden gems, India can enhance its tourism industry while safeguarding its rich cultural and historical heritage for future generations.