World Heritage Sites: Modhera temple and Vadnagar make it to UNESCO tentative list

Two heritage sites from Gujarat — the Sun Temple at Modhera and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hometown Vadnagar — both in Mehasana district, have found place among the three sites from India that were added to the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites announced on Tuesday. 

The third site added to the list is the rock-cut relief sculptures of Unakoti in Tripura. 

Sharing the announcement, Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy tweeted, “Congratulations India! India adds 3 more sites to @UNESCO’s Tentative List: 01 Vadnagar – A multi-layered historic town, Gujarat; 02 Sun Temple, Modhera and its adjoining monuments; 03 Rock-cut Sculptures and Reliefs of the Unakoti, Unakoti Range, Unakoti District.” 

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) also shared his tweet and added that the step will provide a big boost to India’s cultural heritage. 

“Big boost to #India’s cultural heritage, as Sun Temple, Modhera & adjoining monuments, rock-cut sculptures & reliefs of Unakoti and Vadnagar, a multi-layered historic town, Gujarat, are the 3 new sites added to Tentative List of @UNESCO #WorldHeritagesites, making the count to 52,” it tweeted. 

As per the UNESCO website, “A Tentative List is an inventory of those properties which each State Party intends to consider for nomination.” 

“States Parties are encouraged to submit their Tentative Lists, properties which they consider to be cultural and/or natural heritage of outstanding universal value and therefore suitable for inscription on the World Heritage List,” cites the website. 

“States Parties are encouraged to prepare their Tentative Lists with the participation of a wide variety of stakeholders, including site managers, local and regional governments, local communities, NGOs and other interested parties and partners,” it adds. 

The Tentative Lists are published by the World Heritage Centre at its website and/or in working documents in order to ensure transparency, and access to information and to facilitate harmonization of Tentative Lists at regional and thematic levels. 

The Sun Temple at Modhera is located on the left bank of the river Pushpavati, a tributary of river Rupan in Becharaji taluka of Mehsana district. The temple description states that it is built in Maru-gurjara architectural style, consists of the main temple shrine (garbhagriha), a hall (gadhamandapa), an outer hall or assembly hall (Sabhamandapa or rangamandapa) and a sacred pool (Kunda), which is now called Ramakunda. This east-facing temple is built with bright yellow sandstone. 

Vadnagar is a historic town, which had continuous habitation for more than 2,700 years, it states. It has evolved with time and has an early historic fortified settlement, hinterland port, center for industries of shells and beads, late medieval town, religious center/temple town, a significant junction on trade routes and mercantile town. 

Rampart datable to second century BCE, fortification along the lake from third-fourth century CE, findings of Indo-Pacific glass beads and marine shells, palaeo-seismic evidence evidently point towards historical authenticity of the town. 

“The present urban fabric of the town effectively showcases the continuity of the historic planning and architectural design elements. The continuity of the historic town proves its resilience/outstanding universal value unlike the site like Harappa and Kalibangan, which were abandoned eventually,” states the description for Vadnagar on the UNESCO website. 


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