Alpesh Patel’s Political Sketchbook: “India and the UN – Some Good Things”

Alpesh Patel Monday 02nd May 2022 23:21 EDT

India's UN Security Council membership and votes have attracted a lot of attention lately. However, that's not the full extent of the country's relationship with the United Nations. India also has a strong heritage relationship with the UN, having submitted many sites for UNESCO consideration.


This soft global power of India lies in its tourism and heritage. When combined with its diaspora and global icons like Mahatma Gandhi, it allows the country a certain amount of latitude in international situations.


India has 40 UNESCO heritage sites comprising a mix of stunning temples, architecture, and natural wonders. Let's look at some of these places of cultural and historical significance.


#1. Taj Mahal, Agra

Often hailed as the "Jewel of Muslim Art in India", this incredible piece of Mughal architecture is instantly recognised worldwide. By the time the Mughals (descendants of the Mongols) has built the Taj, they saw themselves as Indian. It was built on a haveli of Hindu ruler Raja Jai Singh.


Completed in 1653, emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a monument to his wife, Mumtaj Mahal.


#2. Bodh Gaya, Bihar

Bodh Gaya is home to the holy Bodhi Tree, where Mahatma Buddha achieved enlightenment. Furthermore, it is the site of the famous Mahabodhi Temple, which was established around 250 BCE.


The present-day Mahabodhi Temple Complex contains the Vajrasana alongside six other sacred sights.


#3. Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

Khajuraho is recognised for its spectacular Hindu and Jain Temples. The figures and sculptures are excellent examples of Nagara style symbolism. Built under the Chandella dynasty between 950 and 1050 CE, the site holds 85 Temples across 20 sq km, including the famous Kandariya temple.


#4. Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra

The Ajanta Caves were one of India's first World Heritage sites. These incredible caves date back to the 2nd century BCE and contain 31 rock-cut Buddhist sculptures, cave monuments and paintings.


The Ajanta Caves were built during two separate periods. Firstly during the Satavahana Dynasty of 230 BCE to 220 CE; second, during the Vakataka period. Historians suggest that Ajanta art marks the birth of Indian Classical Art.


#5. Hampi, Karnataka

The ruins of Hampi are a stunning collection of heritage sites that serve as a reminder of the beautiful Dravidian art and architectural styles. The Virupaksha Temple — which is still intact —  is an important religious centre for Hindus.


The other attractions at the site referred to as the "Group of Monuments at Hampi" include Ganesa, the Krisha temple complex, Narasimha, the Hemakuta group of temples, and many more.

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