Category World Heritage Sites

What are the interesting facts of The Sundarbans National Park?

Shared between two countries

The Sundarbans is spread across West Bengal, India, and Khulna Division, Bangladesh. Covering an estimated10,00,000 hectares, about 64 per cent of the entire mangrove area of the forest is said to be in Bangladesh, with the remaining 36 per cent in India. The Sundarbans is listed as ‘Sundarbans National Park, as a World Heritage Site from India, and as The Sundarbans World Heritage Site from Bangladesh.

The largest Mangrove forest

The Sundarbans is home to the largest mangrove forest in the world, and is also the only mangrove forest to be inhabited by the tiger. Nearly 78 species of mangroves have been recorded at the Sundarbans, making it one of the richest mangrove forests, as well as one among the most biologically productive of all natural ecosystems.

The largest population of tigers

Apart from being the only mangrove forest inhabited by the tiger, the Sundarbans is also home to the largest number of Bengal Tigers in the world A part of the Sundarbans is designated as the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve to protect the species. The tigers here have adapted to the environment and have become amphibious, swimming long stretches in search of food.

A unique tidal system

The Sundarbans experiences a unique tidal phenomenon, witnessing high and low tides several times within a day. During the high tides, you can witness the water levels rising by six to ten feet. And during low tides, you can see huge areas of flat mud lands.

There is a great natural depression called “Swatch of No Ground in the Sundarbans area. This depression leads to a sudden change in the depth of the water from 20 m to 500 m.

What’s in a name?

Did you know the Sundarbans got its name from the Sundari tree? It is a special kind of mangrove tree found in this area. It has aerial roots (roots which are above the ground) to help with respiration. This is especially useful for the tree during the rainy season when the entire mangrove area is waterlogged.


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Which are the things you can do to preserve local heritage?

Follow the rules

Visiting a heritage monument might seem exciting. But many monuments have rules laid out by the organisation in charge of its conservation. These rules could include having to maintain silence at a sacred place, or not touching articles on display. Remember, these rules are made keeping preservation in min So do your best to follow the rules listed and ensure your family and peers follow them as well.

Do not litter

One of the major problems seen many monuments is littering. As the tourist inflow increases, it gets difficult for officials to monitor each and everyone. Many tourists carry food or drinks along and throw away empty packets and bottles around the site. This creates a negative impression about the monument in the eyes of the public. As a responsible citizen, do not litter and discourage your family and friends from doing so. Many monuments have trash cans placed around them. Throw rubbish only into the trash can. And if the dustbin is found to be full or if there isn’t one, take the waste back with you and discard it at the nearest dustbin.

Say no to vandalism

Another common problem witnessed at most monuments is vandalism. Vandalism is the action of deliberately damaging public or private property. When you at the walls of some heritage monuments you can find scribbles left by people. In some places, you might even see artefacts broken. Vandalism is a threat to heritage monuments. Refrain from it and talk to others about it as well. Next time you spot someone indulging in the act, inform your parents or the authorities and let them take action.


Many organisations encourage youngsters to volunteer and do their bit for physical heritage. You can volunteer individually or encourage your school to take students to different monuments as an activity and help in their preservation Volunteering can mean serving as a guide, helping people navigate the heritage site, or even helping researchers take notes during their routine checks of the site.

Take photographs and spread the word

One of the best ways to draw attention towards preservation of a heritage site is by spreading the worst. Take photographs of heritage monuments and post them on social media. You could also create brochures and pamphlets and share them with people and make them aware about the rich history of monuments Use technology and social media to your advantage and reach and encourage as many people as you can to volunteer and visit heritage monuments.


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What are the interesting facts of Grand Canyon in the U.S.?

How old is it?

No one really knows how old the Grand Canyon is. While it was earlier thought to be six million years old, around the time the Colorado river cut through the landscape, many believe the Canyon could date back as far as 70 million years. This thought came to the fore after a study released in the early 2010s suggested some of the rocks in the Canyon may have been eroded and exposed at the surface millions of years ago. However, the debate, on how old the Grand Canyon actually is, goes on.

Not the deepest canyon

Though it is one of the most popular gorges, and a natural wonder of the world, the Grand Canyon is not the deepest or the longest gorge. The average depth of the Canyon is 1.6 km and it stretches nearly 446 km. However, the Guinness Book of World Records states that the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in the Himalayas is the world’s longest and deepest canyon with its maximum depth reaching about 5,382 m and the canyon stretching nearly 496.3 km.

Experience different weather conditions

With an elevation spanning 2000 feet to 8000 feet, one can experience a variety of weather conditions at the Grand Canyon. With every 1000-feet loss in elevation at the Canyon, the temperature increases by 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hidden Caves

It is estimated that there are nearly 1,000 caves spread across the Grand Canyon. However, only 335 of them have been recorded and explored so far. Of the 335, only one cave, the Cave of the Domes on Horseshoe Mesa, is open to the public.

Beware the rock squirrel

The Grand Canyon is home to a large array of wildlife from the bighorn sheep and the Gila monster, to the California condor and Ridgway’s rail. But the most dangerous animal at the Canyon is the rock squirrel! Every year dozens of visitors to the Canyon are bitten by these animals when they try to feed them. Hence, one can find signs around the park asking people not to feed animals.


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Why Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve included in UNESCO?

The Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve – spanning more than 3,500 and the two States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu – comprises tropical forests, and houses more than 2,000 species of vascular plants, including about 400 that are endemic. It also hosts a variety of spices, including cardamom, nutmeg, and pepper. The Reserve nurtures more than 300 species of birds, 70 species of mammals, over 80 species of reptiles, 45 species of amphibians, and more than 45 species of fishes. Importantly, many these species are endemic to the region. The Reserve also includes three wildlife sanctuaries – Shendurney, Peppara and Nayar, in addition to the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. It is also an important biogeographical hotspot within the Western Ghats, where it is located.


Francolins, ducks, piculets, barbets, trogons, malkohas, coucals, swiftlets, needletails, frogmouths, nightjars, crakes, waterhens, swamphens, coots, snipes, sandpipers, thickknees, plovers, stilts, lapwings, terns, buzzards, kestrels, grebes, darters, cormorants, bitterns, ibises, spoonbills, pelicans, leafbirds, shrikes, treepies, minivets, flycatchers, woodshrikes, thrushes, robins, starlings, bushchats, nuthatches, tits, martins, prinias, munias, robins, warblers, larks, flowerpeckers, spiderhunters, wagtails and weavers can be spotted here. Among the animals found here are the Bengal tiger, leopard, sloth bear, the Asian elephant gaur, sambar, Nilgiri tahr, spotted deer, mouse deer, Nilgiri langur, slender loris, bonnet macaque, lion-tailed macaque, brown mongoose, Malabar giant squirrel, Nilgiri marten, Indian pangolin, king cobra, python, monitor lizard, and pit viper.

A treasure trove of new species

  • In 2014, as many as six species of golden backed frogs found in the Western Ghats were declared new – till then they were wrongly grouped as Hylarana temporalis, usually found in Sri Lanka. One of them – the large golden-backed frog (Hylarana magna) – was found in Agasthyamala Meanwhile, it seems Hylarana temporalis never really existed in India and it was a case of mistaken identity!
  • In 2017, another new frog species would be found in Agasthyamala Vijayan’s night frog (Nyctibatrachus pulivijayani) is extremely tiny – only 13.6 mm that it barely covers a thumbnail and sits effortlessly on a coin, with lots of space to spare. This was one of the four thumbnail-sized frog species discovered in the Western Ghats back then.
  • In 2018, a new plant species got its name from the place it was discovered in – Fimbristylis agasthyamalai is. This grass-like plant is said to have a range of only “about two square km with less than 50 known individuals”, and “highly threatened by grazing”.


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Which is one of India’s World Heritage Site part of the New Seven Wonders of the World?

The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”. Described by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore as “the tear-drop on the cheek of time”, it is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India’s rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7–8 million visitors a year.

It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–1658), to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The tomb is the centrepiece of a 42-acre complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.

Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (US$827 million). The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.


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There is only one mixed heritage site in India. What is it?

Khangchendzonga National Park (KNP), Sikkim has been inscribed as India’s first “Mixed World Heritage Site” on UNESCO World Heritage List. It fulfilled the nomination criteria under both natural and cultural heritage.

The KNP exhibits one of the widest altitudinal ranges of any protected area worldwide. The Park has an extraordinary vertical sweep of over 7 kilometres (1,220m to 8,586m) within an area of only 178,400 hactares and comprises a unique diversity of lowlands, steep-sided valleys and spectacular snow-clad mountains including the world’s third highest peak, Mt. Khangchendzonga, numerous lakes and glaciers, including the 26 km long Zemu Glacier.

The KNP lies within the Himalaya global biodiversity hotspot and displays an unsurpassed range of sub-tropical to alpine ecosystems. The Himalayas are narrowest here, resulting in extremely steep terrain, which magnifies the distinction between the various eco-zones. The KNP is located within a mountain range of global biodiversity conservation significance and covers 25% of the State of Sikkim, acknowledged as one of India’s most significant biodiversity concentrations.
The KNP is home to a significant number of endemic, rare and threatened plant and mammal species recorded in the Central/High Asian Mountains, except compared to the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas, in China; and also has a high number of bird species.


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Which is the most recent property from India to be included in the heritage list?

The walled city of Jaipur, in India’s north-western state of Rajasthan was founded in 1727 by Sawai Jai Singh II. Unlike other cities in the region located in hilly terrain, Jaipur was established on the plain and built according to a grid plan interpreted in the light of Vedic architecture. The streets feature continuous colonnaded businesses that intersect in the centre, creating large public squares called chaupars. Markets, shops, residences and temples built along the main streets have uniform facades. The city’s urban planning shows an exchange of ideas from ancient Hindu and early modern Mughal as well as Western cultures. The grid plan is a model that prevails in the West, while the organization of the different city sectors (chowkris) refers to traditional Hindu concepts. Designed to be a commercial capital, the city has maintained its local commercial, artisanal and cooperative traditions to this day.

The decision was taken at the 43rd session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC) taking place in the city of Baku, Azerbaijan, from 30th June – 10th July, 2019.

The city was nominated for its value of being an exemplary development in town planning and architecture that demonstrates an amalgamation and important exchange of ideas in the late medieval period.


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In 1983, India’s which first few properties were included in the heritage list?

First in the country to be inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1983, the Ajanta caves dates back to 2nd century BCE to 650 CE and features the finest masterpieces of 31 rock cut Buddhist cave monuments, paintings and sculpture. The caves were built in two different phases. First was built in (230BCE-220CE) of Satavahana Period under the patronage of Satvahana Dynasty and second, the caves of Vakataka Period were built during the reign of Emperor Harishena of Vakataka Dynasty. 

Also added in 1983 to the UN world heritage sites list, the Ellora Caves are well known for their Indian-rock cut architecture with 34 rock cut temples and caves dating back to about 600 to 1000 CE. The excavated site includes Charanandri Hills, Buddhist Hindu and Jain rock-cut temples, Viharas and Maths of the 5th and 10th century.

Added along with the Ajanta Caves on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1983 was the Agra Fort situated quite close to the Taj Mahal. Built during the reign of emperor Akbar, the Agra Fort includes a number of notable monuments like the Khas Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Muhamman Burie(an octagonal Tower), Diwan-e-Khas, Diwan-e-Am, Moti Masjid and the Nagina Masjid.


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How many World Heritage sites are there in India?

A World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by UNESCO for its special cultural or physical significance. The list of World Heritage Sites is maintained by the international ‘World Heritage Programme’, administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972. India has 38 world heritage sites that include 30 Cultural properties, 7 Natural properties and 1 mixed site.

Cultural World Heritage Sites in India 

  • Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
  • Hampi, Karnataka
  • Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra
  • Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
  • Bodh Gaya, Bihar
  • Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha
  • Red Fort Complex, Delhi
  • Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh
  • Chola Temples, Tamil Nadu
  • Group of Monuments in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
  • Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi
  • Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, Rajasthan
  • Agra Fort, Uttar Pradesh
  • Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh
  • Taj Mahal, Agra
  • Rani Ki Vav, Patan, Gujarat
  • Group of Monuments in Pattadakal, Karnataka
  • Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra
  • Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University), Bihar
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), Maharashtra
  • Mountain Railways of India
  • Qutub Minar and its Monuments, New Delhi
  • Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Gujarat
  • Hill Forts of Rajasthan
  • Churches and Convents of Goa
  • Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh
  • The Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai
  • The Pink City – Jaipur
  • The Historic City of Ahmedabad
  • Capitol Complex, Chandigarh

Natural World Heritage Sites in India

  • Kaziranga Wild Life Sanctuary, Assam
  • Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal
  • Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh
  • Manas Wild Life Sanctuary, Assam
  • Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan
  • Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks, Uttarakhand
  • Western Ghats
  • Kanchenjunga National Park, Sikkim


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How does UNESCO decide which properties are suitable to be heritage sites?

There are over a thousand properties around the worlds designated as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). But how does UNESCO decide which properties are suitable to be heritage sites?

Countries that have signed the World Heritage Convention and pledged to protest their cultural and natural heritage can submit nominations for consideration. Thus far, 193 countries have signed the Conversation.

UNESCO has a list of criteria explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Conversation. To be considered for inclusion in the World Heritage List a property must satisfy at least one of the ten criteria. These are regularly revised by the Committee to keep up with the evolving concept of World Heritage.

Once the nominations are in, the World Heritage Committee consisting of representatives from 21 of the member states takes the final call. This committee meets once a year to finalise the list and consults to advisory bodies which evaluate a nominated site, as mandated by the World Heritage Convention. These two bodies are the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

A tried advisory body, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, provides the Committee with expect advice on conservation of cultural sites.


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