Telangana may get its first Unesco World Heritage Site, but it may be the Ramappa Temple at Palampet near Warangal than any of the Qutb Shahi era sites in Hyderabad.
While the Qutb Shahi monuments of Hyderabad, Golconda Fort, Qutb Shahi Tombs and Charminar have been on the tentative list of World Heritage Sites from September 2010, the Ramappa Temple’s application, filed as ‘The Glorious Kakatiya Temples and Gateways’, has been fast-tracked from April 2014.
“We would have received the World Heritage Site tag last year itself, but the Central government wanted to push the case of Jaipur, and our listing was delayed by one year,” said B.V. Papa Rao of the Kakatiya Heritage Trust, one of the key movers.
Earlier, the Ramappa Temple was part of a ‘serial nomination’ along with the Thousand Pillar Temple, Swayambhu Temple and Keerti Thoranas of Warangal Fort. But now, thanks to a small tweak, the temple is in the reckoning as a standalone world heritage site.
The Siva temple is perhaps the only one in the country that is known by the name of the architect rather than the king who commissioned it or its presiding deity. The stunning dance sculptures and friezes of the temple appear as if they have been machined into shape on black dolomite, rather than being chiselled. The temple is built on a valley and it rests on bricks that are scientifically shown to float in water. “The Ramappa Temple is a jewel of the Kakatiya era and it stands out,” said Mr. Rao.
The world heritage site/city status appears like a series of hoops that have to be cleared by the site owners. The first step involves creating a detailed dossier showing the outstanding universal value of the site, besides meeting a few other criteria. Once the documentation is complete, it requires a push by the State party or the country where the site is located.
The property is then evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) then provides advice on conservation of the site, and training.
After all these steps, the World Heritage Committee evaluates the site and decides to inscribe it or send back the nomination. It remains to be seen whether the Ramappa temple will win the prized inscription at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee meeting to be held in Azerbaijan in the first week of July.