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Guj stepwell, Himalayan park set to get UNESCO Heritage tag

Last Updated: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 17:24

New Delhi: An ancient stepwell in Gujarat and the picturesque Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh are set to find a place in UNESCO`s World Heritage sites.

The 11th century `Rani-Ki-Vav` (The Queen`s Stepwell) and Great Himalayan National Park are likely to be declared as World Heritage property under cultural and natural heritage categories respectively, in the ongoing 38th World Heritage Session at Qatar tomorrow, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) sources told PTI.

UNESCO has recognised Rani-Ki-Vav stepwell in Patan as an exceptional example of utilising ground water resources in a single component and water management system as it illustrates the exceptional capacity to break large built spaces into smaller volumes following ideal aesthetic proportions, the sources added.

Rani-Ki-Vav is the most developed, elaborate and ornate example of an unique category of Indian subterranean structure and marks the zenith in the evolution of stepwells in India.

It is particularly large and complex example of a stepwell with seven storey of ornamented panels of sculptures representing Maru-Gurjara architecture.

"Inclusion of a site in the list of World Heritage is the recognition of its outstanding universal values. This would also bring both the sites in the international tourism map, boosting the inflow of inbound tourists to these sites," official sources said.

According to Gujarat Tourism website, Rani Udayamati commissioned the stepwell in 1063 in the memory of her husband King Bhimdev I of the Solanki dynasty. The vav or stepwell was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati River and silted over until the late 1980s, when it was excavated by the ASI with the carvings found in pristine condition.

The Rani-Ki-Vav is considered the queen among stepwells of India.

The vavs or stepwells of Gujarat were not merely sites for collecting water and socialising, but also simultaneously held great spiritual significance.

The stepwell is digitally documented through collaboration between ASI, Historic Scotland and CyArk under the project Scottish Ten.

The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh was formally declared a National Park in 1999.

GHNP and its surrounding parks together cover an area of 2,850sq km, straddling an altitude range of 1,900m to 6,110m, with several distinct ecological zones representative of western Himalayan ecosystem.

As of now, there are 30 World Heritage properties in India, of which 24 are cultural properties, while six fall under the natural category.

First Published: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 17:24

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