Jaipur City, finally a UNESCO World Heritage Site

This week is the 43rd annual convention of UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Baku,  the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan is this year’s host city.

For over 10 years, I have been following and documenting the proceedings – as if a participant or a delegate representing the Philippines in this important convention about cultural preservation and documentation.

Truly, it has been my dream to sit down in the convention – not necessarily as the official diplomatic representative of the Philippines but even only as an observer, which in my knowledge, the United Nations welcomes one or two annually. I just do not know how to come in as one – there are no available details about it on the UNESCO website.

If the universe is listening, I hope it sends this message to the UNESCO: I VOLUNTEER TO BE AN OBSERVER!

Anyhow, this year, the convention is currently deliberating 35 nominations (28 cultural, 5 natural, 1 mixed and 1 significant modifications in the boundaries) to be included or inscribed as World Heritage Sites. No entry from the Philippines is going to be deliberated this year but I am vouching for one nominee to be included: Jaipur City, Rajasthan.

My friends and colleagues know very much how fascinated I am with South Asia, particularly India. I am in love with its food. I am amazed by its cultural performances. I idolize its home grown scholars from Homi Bhabha to Rustom Bharucha to Gayatri Spivak. And I am intrigued by its religion.

My first exposure to India was through Jaipur via Ravi Chaturvedi of Manipal University, who in 2017 hosted the Asian Theatre Working Group for the organization’s annual colloquium.

The Jal Mahal (Photo: SAPT)
An obligatory pose in front of the Hawa Mahal (Photo: SAPT)
One of the gates of the Pink City (Photo: SAPT)
Inside the City Palace (Photo: SAPT)
The entrance gate to the City Palace (Photo: SAPT)
The huge plaza inside the city palace (Photo: SAPT)
Inside the City Palace (Photo: SAPT)
The magnificent Pink City! (Photo: SAPT)

I will not forget the charm Jaipur impacted on me that it paved the way for me to return to India in 2018 (see my entry on Mumbai here).

Anyhow, two days ago, I was reading the report of the ICOMOS for the World Heritage Convention. I felt sad that the committee are not endorsing Jaipur for its inscription. According to the report on page 26: “defers the examination of the nomination of Jaipur City, Rajasthan, India, to the World Heritage List.” This is also the reason why I had to shut off the watching the online streaming of the proceedings. Then, later this afternoon, I checked the UNESCO website and realized the inscription of Jaipur City as finally a World Heritage Site!

Jaipur is a popular tourist destination in India and forms a part of the what India calls the Golden Triangle toursit circuit along with Delhi and Agra (popular for the Taj Mahal). But what is also fascinating here: it is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Jantar Mantar and the Amer Fort.

And now, the city itself is a WHS. So there are two WHS within this WHS city!

To end this post, would like to repost the synthesis found in the UNESCO website re the inscription of Jaipur:

“The fortified city of Jaipur, in India’s northwestern 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, stalls, 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 modern Mughal as well as Western cultures. The grid plan is a model that prevails in the West, while the organization of the different districts 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.”

I am really glad I was able to glimpse Jaipur’s magnificence even before it becoming a WHS!

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