Rural Landscapes as Heritage

Rahul Singh
Heritage sites whether belong to our country or a foreign land has to be revered and no damage should be caused to them. So one specific day, i.e. April 18, has been dedicated to world heritage sites with a view to raise the consciousness of people about the diversity of rich cultural wealth and make them aware about the vulnerability of these sites.
This day offers an opportunity to all of us to celebrate local heritage all over the world and to raise public awareness about the diversity of cultural and natural heritage and the efforts that are required to protect and conserve it.Perhaps the most important way to celebrate World Heritage Day is to search those locations near you that count as World Heritage sites, and perhaps pay them a visit, research the site and find out what steps are needed to protect it, and respect them during your visit. If you’re feeling more proactive, then perhaps consider submitting a site that you feel is worthy of being protected for it’s cultural importance to ICOMOS. Don’t let an important site disappear from the world, do your part on World Heritage Day to raise awareness and preserve it for future generations.
The day is observed with a clear aim to enlighten people about the need of preserving and protecting the world heritage sites and propagating to the world about the immense value that these monuments carry with them. These invaluable possessions are a matter of great honour for the mankind. Whether it’s the Taj Mahal – an epitome of love and romance, the Great Wall of China which can even be seen from the moon or the Great Barrier Reef that contains the wealth of the underwater world – every site has something really unique to offer to its visitors.From the magnificent Taj Mahal to the architectural ruins of Hampi, India is home to 35 World Heritage Sites, which are recognised by UNESCO.
In many ways we can contribute towards the maintenance of world heritage sites so that their beauty doesn’t fade away and these continue to remain the points of attraction for people from all over the world. The least that we can do is not to throw garbage or litter the waste anywhere close to the premise of these heritage sites. This way we can help bring down the pollution level to some extent. The natural heritage places as well as coastal regions require special attention as they offer shelter to various endangered species. For instance, poaching animals in the national park should be strictly prohibited because these animals play a major role in sustaining the ecological balance of our planet Earth.
As per one report, over 100 natural heritage places have been tampered with due to human activities in the few preceding decades and now it’s seriously a high time that we hold back ourselves and also stop others from causing degradation of these sites.
World Heritage Day is observed all over the world with a view to inspire individuals as well as local communities to realize the importance of world heritage sites in our lives as a global citizen. Every year, this day is celebrated on 18th April. It is ICOMOS, i.e. the International Council on Monuments and Sites located in France that designated April 18 as the World Heritage day in the year 1982. It was consequently passed by the UNESCO General Assembly in the following year, i.e. 1983.
Therefore, to celebrate World Heritage Day is an opportunity to emphasize the importance of safeguarding, conserving and preserving our heritage. There are a variety of events conducted on this day that help people go back to the ancient past. Programs such as heritage walks are organized, discussions and debates are also conducted amongst the expert panelists in order to facilitate cultural and ideological exchange of thoughts.
Interestingly, year after year a theme has been chosen to celebrate this day and around that particular theme, the day is celebrated and that particular theme always dominates the World Heritage Day celebration every year so that people in large number can come together and contribute towards it. here are about 1,052 world heritage sites. Out of these, 814 fall under the cultural category, 203 are considered natural and 35 are a mix of both and this time in 2019 we celebrate this day with the theme of “Rural Landscapes” as our heritage.
Rural landscapes have maintained a balance between human activity and their environment. Jammu and Kashmir, formerly one of the largest princely states of India and a land replete with cultural, historical and religious artifacts, which draw a sense of wonder for the visitors and certainly makes every Indian feel proud of this valuable possession and if we talk about the rural landscapes of Jammu and Kashmir everywhere you can find agriculture and forestry, whether the hilly areas or the others, these sectors continue to play an essential role in shaping the rural landscapes and in maintaining viable rural communities.
Rural landscapes are defined as “terrestrial and aquatic areas co-produced by human-nature interaction used for the production of food and other renewable natural resources, via agriculture, animal husbandry and pastoralism, fishing and aquaculture, forestry, wild food gathering, hunting, and extraction of other resources, such as salt. Rural landscapes are multifunctional resources. At the same time, all rural areas have cultural meanings attributed to them by people and communities, all rural areas are landscapes.”
The vast majority of the Jammu and Kashmir territory is mountainous, and the physiography is divided into seven zones that are closely associated with the structural components of the Western Himalayas.
Kashmir’s scenic beauty—its snow-clad mountains, freshwater lakes and vast meadows are often compared to Switzerland but it also boasts of a long, rich history and heritage. Then you have Jammu, known as the Land of Temples, the gateway and home to several places of worship for the deeply devoted. And of course, there’s Ladakh, with a topography so breathtakingly unique, it makes the bucket list of every adventure junkie. Everywhere, you can feel the seasons change, see the landscape go from lush green to autumnal gold and pure, blinding white. Most importantly, its citizens are amongst the country’s most hospitable and warm, proud and happy to share their culture with others.
The population of rural areas also continues to grow, despite its decline in terms of percentage share. This has a twofold effect in rural areas and, while some areas are being abandoned, others are suffering from human pressure. Furthermore, we cannot ignore the ecological footprint that urban areas have on rural zones, and the changes in the rural landscapes that this footprint induces, as well as the consequences for both the environment and communities.
It is true that our rural landscapes are exposed to various risk factors and hence, we should do all that we can do to the best of our capacity in providing protection to these precious assets.This day is indeed a day for every respective citizen of a country to feel proud of the great cultural assets of our nation. People experience a sense of detachment from their national cultural heritage and globally as well. It is extremely important to inculcate a feeling of pride at our national cultural wealth and preserve it for posterity so that the coming generation can have the privilege of appreciating the cultural possessions of our country.