UN designates Western Ghats as world heritage site
United Nations: India's 1600-km long Western Ghats mountain chain, which has forests older than the Himalaya mountains, has been added to list of world heritage sites by the United Nations.
The Western Ghats mountain chain is recognised as one of the world's eight "hottest hotspots" of biological diversity. The chain's forests, which are older than the Himalaya mountains influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern.
The ghats, which start at the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra and runs through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala ending at Kanyakumari, was added to the World Heritage list by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
A historic opera house in Germany, a border town and its fortifications in Portugal, and eight interconnected lakes in Chad are some of the other sites that have been added to the list.
The Margravial Opera House Bayreuth in Germany, which was built in the 18th century, is considered a masterpiece of Baroque theatre architecture. It is the only entirely preserved example of its type where an audience of 500 can experience Baroque court opera culture and acoustics authentically, as its auditorium retains its original materials.
The border town of Elvas and its fortifications in Portugal, was also added to the list, as the site represents the largest bulwarked dry ditch system in the world. While Elvas contains remains dating back to the 10th century, its fortification began when Portugal regained independence in 1640.
The Lakes of Ounianga in Chad, which are 18 interconnected lakes in the arid Ennedi region of the Sahara Desert covering an area of 62,808 hectares, were also added to the list. The saline and freshwater lakes are home to diverse fauna and microorganisms.
The World Heritage Committee meets once a year, and is responsible for the implementation of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, which defines the kind of natural or cultural sites which can be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List.
Other inscriptions to the list this year include a pearling site in Bahrain Masjed-e Jame of Isfahan and an ancient mosque and a 53-metre high tomb in Iran, Gonbad-e Qabus.