An expert team, including a representative from the International Commission on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and other officials will visit the Hoysala temples at Belur, Halebid, and Somanathpur this week before submitting a report to UNESCO ahead of declaring them as a World Heritage Site.
The team, comprises Tiang Kian Boom, ICOMOS expert; Janwij Sharma, Additional Director-General of Archaeological Survey of India, and Madan Singh Chouhan, Director, World Heritage (ASI), and will be in the State from September 13 to 17.
The team will arrive in Bengaluru on September 13 and visit the 12th Century Chennakeshava temple at Belur on September 14, the Hoysaleshwara temple (12th Century) at Halebid on 15th and the 13th Century Keshava temple at Somanathpur on September 16. The team will dedicate an entire day at each of the monuments before leaving for Bengaluru for a discussion with the Chief Secretary on September 17.
Devaraju, Director, Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, said the team would record its observation and have a discussion with the Chief Secretary and subsequently submit a report to UNESCO. “We are confident that the monuments will be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by May 2023,” Mr. Devaraju said.
The temples at Belur, Halebid, and Somanathpur are India’s official nominations for inscription as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Belur and Halebid are on the tentative list since 2014 as ‘’The Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas’’.
Somnathapur has been included as part of the serial nomination process that provides for inclusion of new sites under the same category as long as they share the same characteristic features. Besides, it has to meet the UNESCO’s criteria of displaying outstanding universal value.
Though it was initially mooted to bring in 14 Hoysala temples and club them together for serial nominations, experts who worked on the Detailed Project Report decided to include only the Keshava temple of Somanathpur temple to the original nomination of the monuments at Belur and Halebid. It was argued that once the site management plans for other temples were ready, the World Heritage tag could be sought for them as well through the serial nomination process.
Meanwhile, the heritage sites have been spruced up in the run up to the visit of the expert team and the temple at Somanathpur has new amenities, including toilets. Going forward, the authorities also plan to have a slew of facilities including signages, some of which will come up in due course.