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‘Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas’ enter UNESCO’s world heritage site list

The temples spread across Hassan and Mysuru in Karnataka are India's 42nd entry in the World Heritage list

‘Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas’ enter UNESCO’s world heritage site list
[Source photo: Archaeological Survey of India, Bengaluru]

The UNESCO this week added the ‘sacred ensembles of the Hoysala’, comprising 12th-century temples spread across Hassan and Mysuru districts of Karnataka, as India’s 42nd entry in the World Heritage Site list.

The development came a day after the UN’s culture body inscribed Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan on its distinguished list.

All the three temples from the Hoysala era–between the 10th and 14th centuries–that are located in Belur, Halebidu, and Somanathapura are already protected monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India.

The Chennakeshava temple in Belur and the Hoysaleshwara temple in Halebid, both located in Hassan district, have been on the UNESCO’s tentative list since 2014. The Keshava temple in Somanathapur, situated in Mysuru, was subsequently added to this tentative list.

In February 2022, India officially submitted all three temples as India’s nomination for the 2022-23 UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition.

A specialist from the International Commission on Monuments and Sites conducted comprehensive site visits in September 2022.

Following the assessments, the monuments were formally included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites at the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee that is currently on in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and will conclude on 25 September.

“Just inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas, India. Congratulations!” declared the United Nations’ specialized agency in a social media post on Monday, shared via platform X (formerly Twitter.)

Responding to the inclusion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed pride, highlighting that the temples serve as a testament to India’s abundant cultural heritage.

“More pride for India! The magnificent Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas have been inscribed on the @UNESCO World Heritage List. The timeless beauty and intricate details of the Hoysala temples are a testament to India’s rich cultural heritage and the exceptional craftsmanship of our ancestors,” he remarked on X.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah also took to X to share the ‘proud moment’.

“Happy to know that Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas are now included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is a proud moment for all of us. These heritage structures speak volumes about our rich history and people. New addition to the list will bring more people to these sites and our government is committed to improve the tourism experience by improving infrastructure. Karnataka is One State with Many Worlds!!” he said.

The temples are renowned for their intricate and ornate architecture. The Hoysala dynasty emerged as a prominent power in the Deccan region during the 10th century.

The Hoysala kings were passionate patrons of art and architecture, and employed talented architects and artisans to create temples that reflected their grandeur and devotion. The temples exhibit a blend of various architectural styles, including Dravidian, Nagara, and Vesara, resulting in a distinctive Hoysala style.

Each temple narrates stories from Hindu mythology, depicting gods, goddesses, mythical creatures, and epic narratives.

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