New Delhi, May 26 (PTI) The architectural heritage of Orchha town in Madhya Pradesh which depict peculiar style of the Bundela dynasty have been included in UNESCO's tentative list of world heritage sites following a proposal sent by the ASI to the UN body.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had sent a proposal to the UNESCO on April 15, 2019 to include the sites in its list, an ASI official told PTI.

According to the rules, to be a part of UNESCO's World Heritage sites, the heritage or any historical site first has to be on the tentative list. After it makes to the tentative list, another proposal is sent to the UNESCO, the official said.

The ASI in its earlier proposal had requested to include Orchha in the list of cultural heritage.

The historic ensemble of Orchha: Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

As the capital of the Bundela dynasty from 1531-1783 CE, Orchha's monuments, gardens, temples, and murals as an ensemble, represent remarkable evolution in town planning, fortification of settlement, in buildings, garden design and art. The cultural landscape fostered various traditions of myths, ballads, literary and folk arts.

Criterion (ii): Orchha thrived to be an example and epitome of the Bundela dynasty to showcase their unique architectural style. The local geography aided to the incorporation of the various pragmatic planning principles in the historical town while the individual elements of architecture and gardens in various buildings and houses, borrowed from the several Rajput and Mughal traditions, gave a harmonious visual language to the settlement. In Orchha, the blending of the existing Raj put culture with the invading Mughal culture carne to an exquisite apogee.

The fortification, town planning, the garden design in Orchha evolved into a unique new form with amalgamation of Mughal style of gardens (cf. char bagh), Rajput Fort gardens, Hindu sacred groves and evolved hydrology systems. These gardens were strategically located around area of dense activities to provide relief to the urban fabric and to enhance the views from the high stories of palaces and temples. Thus, Orchha houses a unique ensemble of monuments and sites to understand the organization of the 16th-18th century society in India.

Criterion (iv): Palatine and temple designs of the Bundelas were stylistic innovations in medieval Rajput architecture. Based upon archetypal mandala forms with elements from Sultanate and Mughal architecture, they are unique aesthetic statements. The three palaces, Rani Mahal (now Ram Raja Temple), Raja Mahal, and Jahangir Mahal have a mandala plan, i.e. square subdivided into smaller squares and rectangles with open space in the center leading to highly evolved composition and massing and play of solids and voids. These open courtyards alternating with pavilions at higher stories such that interior open spaces form an inverted pyramid structure, mark the achievement of the Bundeli architectural style, which influenced the later architecture of the whole of Bundelkhand.

In this style the proportions are not only very different from the architecture elsewhere in the region but also imbibes various elements of both Mughal and Rajput architecture. This amalgamation of various styles can be seen in both tangible and intangible practices resulting in the structures like those of cenotaphs of Bundeli rulers, town morphology and rituals which together outline the Outstanding Universal Value of the historic ensemble of Orchha.


Source: UNESCO World Heritage Centre