Maratha Military Landscapes of India
India has nominated the “Maratha Military Landscapes of India” for the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2024-25. The sites showcase the strategic military capabilities of the Maratha empire between the 17th and 19th centuries.
About Maratha Military Landscapes of India
Out of over 390 forts in Maharashtra, only 12 representative forts have been chosen as part of the nomination for Maratha Military Landscapes of India World Heritage site. They were developed under Maratha ruler Shivaji Maharaj from 1670 CE, continuing through subsequent rulers until 1818.
Eight of these 12 forts – including major ones like Shivneri, Raigad, Panhala and Sindhudurg – are protected and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The other four forts of Salher, Rajgad, Khanderi and Pratapgarh are conserved by the Maharashtra government’s directorate of archaeology and museums.
The selected 12 forts showcase the diverse nature of Maratha military architecture across landscapes – with hill forts, coastal forts, plateau forts, hill-forest forts and island forts represented. Specifically, Salher, Shivneri, Lohgad, Raigad, Rajgad and Gingee are hill forts; Pratapgad is a hill-forest fort; Panhala is a fort on a hill plateau; Vijaydurg is a coastal fort; and Khanderi, Suvarnadurg and Sindhudurg are island forts.
Significance and Uniqueness
The sites display exceptional testimony to the Maratha defense tradition and empire. They illustrate a significant stage of military fortress building in Indian history.
The sites also directly represent the military ideas, beliefs and traditions of the Maratha empire. Their natural integration with the landscape was a key strategic advantage.
Criteria for Inscription
The nomination cites three criteria – exhibiting unique cultural tradition, outstanding military architectural ensembles, and direct Maratha military heritage. India currently has 42 World Heritage sites.
The Maratha empire was influential in shaping the history, culture and identity of western India. Inscribing these sites can stimulate preservation efforts and cultural tourism.
Maharashtra already has six World Heritage sites like the Ajanta and Ellora caves. The Maratha military landscapes were added to India’s tentative list in 2021. Their inscription as the state’s sixth cultural site reinforces Maharashtra’s identity.
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