The group continues its expansion in the region with its first Raffles resort in the Middle East
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Travel might be our last concern right now as a country, with the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic continuing to claim lakhs every day and flights to and from India suspended indefinitely. But, hey, hope finds its way through the tiniest of cracks—in the latest instance, Madhya Pradesh's Bhedaghat-Lametaghat and Satpura Tiger Reserve yesterday made it to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites tentative list.
Four other sites in addition to these were picked for the list out of the nine that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had sent to the agency. These include the historical temples of Kanchipuram, the Megalithic site of Hirebenakal in Karnataka, the iconic riverfront of the Ganges in Varanasi, and a series of Maratha military architecture in Maharashtra's Konkan region. Minister for Culture and Tourism Prahlad Patel, who hails from Madhya Pradesh, tweeted the development on May 19.
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What is the UNESCO Tentative List All About?
India currently has 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the tentative list—which, as the name indicates, is a preliminary round for evaluation before the sites can join the senior list—now has 48 entries waiting for approval. According to an official, "As per Operational Guidelines, 2019, it is mandatory to put any monument/site on the Tentative List (TL) before it is considered for the final nomination dossier. As per rules, any country can submit the nomination dossier after one year of it being on the TL. So we can utilise this time to prepare the nomination dossiers."
After the submission of the nomination dossier to a body called the World Heritage Centre, evaluation of the Madhya Pradesh sites will be carried out in collaboration with the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), since both Bhedaghat-Lametaghat and Satpura Tiger Reserve have been nominated in the Natural category.
The Latest Entrants
While the recently added sites in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kanchipuram and Varanasi evidently boast a rich architectural and cultural heritage, the nomination of the sites in Madhya Pradesh is surely a pleasant surprise. The state currently has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites—the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, the Buddhist monuments at Sanchi, and the rock shelters of Bhimbetka.
The medieval town of Orchha, which joined the tentative list in 2019, still awaits graduation into the World Heritage Sites list along with the historical monument town of Mandu in Dhar; Indore, as part of the Satyagraha sites in the country, and the sari town of Chanderi.
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Bhedaghat-Lametaghat, often referred to as the Grand Canyon of India, is close to Jabalpur, is a captivating region in the Narmada Valley where the culturally much-venerated river splits a magnificent marble mountain in its course, revealing fascinating geological metamorphism, in addition to some truly unbelievable rock formations. The result is a visually ancient appeal that often even draws film crews. Read more about it here.
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The Satpura Tiger Reserve, also listed in the Natural category, is a perennial favourite of wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers all over India. It made the UNESCO tentative list for being one of the most "globally significant landscapes in terms of tiger conservation", a unique Indian Central Highlands ecosystem, its serene landscape, rich biodiversity and the presence of over 50 prehistoric rock shelters.
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