I recently visited a cluster of three temples in the Tanjore area that have been listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. A world heritage site can be a natural or a man-made monument and is held to be of special significance not only to the country that hosts the monument but to all of humanity. Of course a UNESCO listing brings in a lot of prestige and funding for the monument in question and so there’s a lot of debate about what does and doesn’t get on the list. My recent visit to the Great Living Chola Temples (as they are listed) prompted me to do a count of how many UNESCO listed sites there were in India and how many I had been to. The result, I must say, was less than satisfactory.
Out of the 32 listed sites in India I had only been to 11. And I only had 11 because of a visit nearly 20 years ago to Delhi and Agra and several other ancient trips to Mumbai- a bit shameful. So here is the total list of listed monuments with a remark about whether I’ve visited them or not.
1. Agra Fort (UP)- YES
2. Ajanta Caves (Maharashtra)- NO
3. Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh)- NO
4. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (Gujarat)- NO
5. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (Maharashtra)- YES (To the thousands of commuters who go through this building every day- wake up!)
6. Churches and Convents of Goa (Goa)- NO (but looks like an easy win!)
7. Elephanta Caves (Maharashtra)- YES
8. Ellora Caves (Maharashtra)- NO
9. Fatehpur Sikri (UP)- NO
10. Great Living Chola Temples – YES! (my most recent and the visit that prompted this post) (Tamil Nadu)
11. Group of Monuments at Hampi- YES (Karnataka)
12. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram- Hell YES! Every tourist that comes home to visit me gets the grand guided tour to M’puram (Tamil Nadu)- Also the closest UNESCO listed site to where I live!
13. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal- NO (but am eyeing this very very seriously!) (Karnataka)
14. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi – YES
15. The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur- YES (thank God!)
16. Kaziranga National Park- NO (Assam)(and I can’t see how I’m going to get there anytime soon unless there’s a drastic surprise)
17. Keoladeo National Park- NO (Rajasthan) (Same as above)
18. Khajuraho Group of Monuments (MP)- Nope
19. Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (Bihar)- NO but would love to!
20. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (Assam)- No and same as 16
21. Mountain Railways of India – NO (but that’s a part yes because I’ve been on one of the trains listed. Me Shah Rukh Khan and a bajillion others except I didn’t dance on the roof)
22. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks – NO (Uttaranchal) (I believe in dreaming realistically and I might visit this place in 2024
23. Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi- YES (Thank you mum and dad! For having taken us to Delhi when we were kids- my list would have been even more abysmal).
24. Red Fort Complex, Delhi- YES (I think I made my point)
25. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh)- NO- will visit in 2032- if I’m still alive at that point
26 Sundarbans National Park (West Bengal)- NO – hmmm!
27. Sun Temple, Konârak (Orissa)- No- Somehow I have a feeling I might do this sooner rather than later
28. Taj Mahal (UP)- YES ( I think I’ve thanked my parents quite a lot!) worth a revisit with my camera. My visit to Taj Mahal will always be coloured by memories of being extremely sick (motion sickness) and cold (Delhi in February in those days when I knew only the loving warmth of Chennai).
29. Western Ghats- NO (once again a part yes as I’ve visited some clusters- me and some malabar hornbills)
30. Hill Forts of Rajasthan- NO (How did I miss them on my last visit to Rajasthan?)
31. Rani Ka Vav (Gujarat)- NO- huh?
32. Great Himalayan National Park- NO (well I’ve been to Ladakh!)
So there you have it!
Inspired by my pathetic count, I tried to see if I had made any significant headway but it turned out that my score internationally was way worse than my score in India (just proves that the world is a very big place and they don’t give me enough leave or money at work!). Here’s some of the of heritage sites I’ve visited outside India.
1. Grand Canyon National Park, USA
2. The historic city of Ayutthaya, Thailand
3. Arles, Roman and Romanesque monuments, France
4. The city of Bath, UK
5. Pompeii, Herculaneum and the nearby areas
So what’s your story? Where have you been and where would you like to go?
I think the UNESCO list is a great guide to plan your future travel- what do you think?