In a recent development, the Ministry of Culture has officially submitted the 'Maratha Military Landscape' for evaluation as a potential inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List during the 2024-25 cycle. This submission comprises a comprehensive collection of 12 distinct components, reflecting the rich historical and cultural significance of the Maratha military heritage.
The proposed 'Maratha Military Landscape' for UNESCO World Heritage List consideration boasts renowned forts, including Salher Fort, Shivneri Fort, Lohagad, Khanderi Fort, Raigad, Rajgad, Pratapgad, Suvarnadurg, Panhala Fort, Vijay Durg, Sindhudurg in Maharashtra, and Gingee Fort in Tamil Nadu.
Salher Fort: Perched atop the Sahyadri mountain range in Maharashtra, Salher Fort is a historic stronghold known for its strategic location and panoramic views. It played a crucial role in various military campaigns.
Shivneri Fort: Nestled in the Shivneri Hills, this fortress holds historical significance as the birthplace of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha Empire. The fort offers a glimpse into the early life of this legendary ruler.
Lohagad: Meaning "Iron Fort," Lohagad stands tall in the Western Ghats. This formidable fort served as a pivotal defensive outpost and offers visitors a blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue.
Khanderi Fort: Situated on an island near Mumbai, Khanderi Fort has maritime importance. Originally constructed to guard against naval invasions, it provides a fascinating insight into the Maratha naval strategy.
Raigad: Once the capital of the Maratha Empire, Raigad Fort sits atop a hill. It symbolizes the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and features impressive structures, including the iconic 'Takmak Tok' cliff.
Rajgad: Known as the "King of Forts," Rajgad stands proudly in the Sahyadris. Its strategic location and architectural grandeur make it a must-visit for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Pratapgad: Perched on a mountain in Satara, Pratapgad is renowned for the Battle of Pratapgad between Shivaji Maharaj and Afzal Khan. The fort offers breathtaking views and historic insights.
Suvarnadurg: Located off the Konkan coast, Suvarnadurg is an island fortress with a rich maritime history. It served as a crucial naval base, protecting the Maratha kingdom from seaborne threats.
Panhala Fort: Nestled in the Sahyadris, Panhala Fort is one of the largest and oldest forts in the region. Its historical significance, coupled with scenic surroundings, attracts history buffs and nature enthusiasts.
Vijay Durg: Positioned on the Konkan coast, Vijay Durg is a coastal fort that played a vital role in the Maratha naval strategy. Its well-preserved structures stand as a testament to the region's maritime history.
Sindhudurg: This island fort off the Konkan coast was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and is known for its intricate architecture. Sindhudurg served as a key naval base in the Arabian Sea.
Gingee Fort: Located in Tamil Nadu, Gingee Fort has historical importance predating the Maratha era. It showcases a unique blend of architectural styles and served as a formidable stronghold in southern India.
These 12 Maratha forts collectively represent a diverse range of historical, strategic, and architectural facets of the Maratha military legacy.
These components, strategically positioned across varied geographical and physiographic regions, stand as a testament to the Maratha rule's military prowess. Developed between the 17th and 19th centuries, the 'Maratha Military Landscapes of India' showcase exceptional fortification and military systems, integrating landscapes from the Sahyadri mountain ranges, Konkan Coast, Deccan Plateau, to the Eastern Ghats in the Indian Peninsula.
Having earned a spot in the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2021, this nomination is a distinctive cultural property. The selection of forts, carefully curated from Maharashtra's extensive list of over 390 forts, reflects a diversity of hierarchies, scales, and typological features. Notably, eight of these forts are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The 'Maratha Military Landscapes of India' encompasses various fort categories, including hill forts, hill-forest forts, hill-plateau forts, coastal forts, and island forts. The military ideology traces back to the 17th century under the reign of Maratha King Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1670, persisting through subsequent rules until the Peshwa rule in 1818.
The nomination aligns with UNESCO criteria by bearing testimony to a living or disappeared cultural tradition, serving as an outstanding example of a building, ensemble, or landscape illustrating significant stages in human history. It is also directly associated with events, living traditions, and artistic works of universal significance.
Currently, India boasts 42 World Heritage Sites, with Maharashtra contributing six recognized sites, including Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Elephanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai, and the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala.
This recent nomination further underscores India's rich cultural and historical tapestry, enhancing global acknowledgment of its diverse and significant heritage.
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