The monuments at Shravanabelagola in Hassan and Lakkundi in Gadag districts will be proposed for inclusion under the tentative list of the UNESCO World Heritage Site by the State Department of Archaeology Museums and Heritage (DAMH).
Tenders will be invited in due course to conduct a study of the site to prepare the dossier and a detailed report which will be submitted to the Archaeological Survey of India.
A. Devaraj, Commissioner, DAMH, told The Hindu that any monument to be considered for final declaration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site has to be first nominated for inclusion under the tentative list.
The monuments should be under the tentative list for atleast one year before they can be proposed by the State party – in this case, the ASI – for inscription as a UNESCO site. The process is not only elaborate but time consuming, said Mr. Devaraj.
In the case of the Hoysala temples at Belur, Halebidu, and Somanathapur which were inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in September this year, the waiting period under the tentative list was for nine years. The temples at Belur and Halebidu were nominated for inclusion in the tentative list in 2014 while Somanathapur was included under serial nomination, much latter.
But entry into the UNESCO tentative list is a prerequisite besides a waiting period of a minimum of one year before any monument can be considered for final inscription and hence the first step towards it is being taken, said Mr. Devaraj.
Though a monument on completing the stipulated period of one year in the tentative list qualifies for being nominated for final inscription, it is not automatic. For, there is a clause as per which a country can nominate only one monument in an year.
And already there are 50 monuments of India under the UNESCO Tentative List some of which like Mandu in Madhya Pradesh are in queue since 1998. But the decision as to which monument is to be nominated in a particular year is taken by the Centre and the ASI.
Shravanabelagola is an ancient Jain site where the Mauryan emperor Chandragupta Maurya spent his last days having converted to Jainism under the influence of Jain monk Acharya Bhadrabahu. It is also the site of the world’s tallest free-standing statue of Gomateshwaraa which was sculpted and consecrated in 981 CE during the period of the Western Gangas. The Mahamastakabhisheka or the grand anointment to the statue takes place here once in 12 years.
Historically, Shravanabelagola is important and a treasure trove of artifacts including over 800 inscriptions spanning many centuries, have been discovered here underlining the antiquity of the town.
Lakkundi is already protected and the State government has constituted the Lakkundi Heritage Area Protection Authority for its conservation. It is known as Lokki-Gundi as per inscriptional records and the area is replete with historical monuments and heritage remnants. It has scores of ancient temples like Someshwara, Kumbareshwara, Manikeshwara, Naganatha, Nageshwara, Kashivishveshwara, Shankaralinga, Lakshminarayana, Ganapati, Chandramouleshwara, Jaina Basadi, Brahma Jinalaya etc, and were the contributions of the Chalukyas, the Kalachuris, the Seunas or Yadavas of Devagiri, Hoysalas and the Vijayanagar underlining the historical importance of the place.