Thrissur: Recently, the Vadakkunatha temple had won UNESCO's Asia-Pacific award for cultural heritage conservation. Experts say that with this move, the prospects of the temple finding a place in the world heritage list has increased. Authorities are gearing up to hold more discussions regarding the heritage list when UNESCO authorities arrive to present the Asia-Pacific honor. Considering that the temple is presently under the preservation of Archeological Survey of India, the procedures for gaining a spot in the list are not likely to be tedious.
UNESCO had announced the Asia Pacific Heritage award to the temple last week describing it as a 'living heritage monument'. Preserving a temple structure complex of archeological importance and a tradition including puja ceremonies unchanged has earned the temple the honor. The temple that has been influenced by Buddhist, Jain and Vaishnava traditions is situated on nine acres land at the heart of Thrissur town. The Archeological Survey of India had taken over the preservation of the temple ten years ago.
For the past three years Chennai's TVS group has also come forward with its support for preservation. Prospects for the temple to enter the UNESCO heritage list brightened with its win of the Asia Pacific award. An entry into the Central government's short list and subsequent submission of nomination will enable Vadakkunatha temple to also follow in the footsteps of the Western Ghats into the heritage list. Authorities are preparing to enter into discussions with UNESCO officials in this regard.
The temple situated in the midst of nine acres is around 1200 years old. The location is within a compound wall marked by four big towers. Three large sanctum sanctorums are the main highlight. Two of them are circular in shape. A many storied sanctum sanctorum is a rarity in Kerala architecture. The main deity is a Siva lingam which is offered neyyabhishekam every day. The Siva lingam is covered in an eleven feet tall mountain of ghee.
Stages to go through
The first requirement is to earn a place in the Central government's shortlist of sites deserving heritage status among the country's globally important naturally blessed cultural sites. Then the Centre should submit a nomination paper from among this to the World Heritage Convention.
Upon receiving a nomination the heritage committee will hand it over to the concerned advisory committees. These are ICOMOS and World Conservation Union. These committees will review the nominations and evaluate the heritage value of the site. Afterwards the report of a non-governmental organization called ICCROM will also be sought.
The heritage committee will convene again within a year of submission of the nomination. It will review the reports submitted by various sub-committees. It will decide whether heritage status should be granted or not. It is also empowered to enquire further details with the respective countries if needed. Sites not fulfilling at least one of the ten criteria put forth by the committee will be rejected.