Cultural Heritage


Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical science artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations.

The term cultural heritage encompasses several main categories of heritage: 

  1. Tangible cultural heritage:
  • movable cultural heritage (paintings, sculptures, coins, manuscripts)
  • immovable cultural heritage (monuments, archaeological sites, and so on)
  • underwater cultural heritage (shipwrecks, underwater ruins and cities
  1. Intangible cultural heritage:
  • oral traditions, performing arts, rituals etc


‘Tangible Cultural Heritage’ refers to physical artefacts produced, maintained and transmitted inter-generationally in a society. It includes artistic creations, built heritage such as buildings and monuments, and other physical or tangible products of human creativity that are invested with cultural significance in a society. ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ indicates ‘the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their Cultural Heritage’ (UNESCO, 2003). Examples of intangible heritage are oral traditions, performing arts, local knowledge, and traditional skills.


Tangible and intangible heritage require different approaches for preservation and safeguarding, which has been one of the main motivations driving the conception and ratification of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Convention stipulates the interdependence between intangible Cultural Heritage, and tangible cultural and natural heritage, and acknowledges the role of intangible Cultural Heritage as a source of cultural diversity and a driver of sustainable development. Recognizing the value of people for the expression and transmission of intangible Cultural Heritage, UNESCO spearheaded the recognition and promotion of living human treasures, ‘persons who possess to a very high degree the knowledge and skills required for performing or recreating specific elements of the intangible Cultural Heritage’.

Cultural World Heritage Sites in India

  • Agra Fort
  • Ajanta Caves
  • Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University)
  • Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi
  • Capitol Complex
  • Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)
  • Churches and Convents of Goa
  • Elephanta Caves
  • Ellora Caves
  • Fatehpur Sikri
  • Great Living Chola Temples
  • Group of Monuments at Hampi
  • Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram
  • Group of Monuments at Pattadakal
  • Hill Forts of Rajasthan
  • Historic City of Ahmadabad
  • Humayun’s Tomb
  • Khajuraho Group of Monuments
  • Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya
  • Mountain Railways of India
  • Qutb Minar and its Monuments
  • Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan
  • Red Fort Complex
  • Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka
  • Sun Temple, Konârk
  • Taj Mahal
  • The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur


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