Places in News 2017

Places in news and current affairs for preparation of the Geography papers and map locations for UPSC Civil Services and State related examinations of 2017

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Walled City of Ahmedabad designated as India’s first World Heritage City

The 600-year-old Walled City of Ahmedabad was declared World Heritage City by the World Heritage Committee (WHC) of UNESCO after it met in Karlow, Poland. It is first Indian city get the honour.

The Walled City of Ahmedabad is located on the eastern banks of Sabarmati river. It presents a rich architectural heritage from the sultanate period, notably the Bhadra citadel, walls and gates of the Fort city and numerous mosques and tombs, as well as important Hindu and Jain temples of later periods. It will be third city from the Indian subcontinent to enjoy this status along with Bhaktapur in Nepal and Galle in Sri Lanka.

Background

The nomination of Ahmedabad was supported by about 20 countries including Turkey, Tunisia, Lebanon, Peru, Portugal, Croatia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Korea, Croatia, Cuba and Poland. Earlier, the committee also added Asmara (capital of Eritrea), added Hebron-Al Khalil Old Town (Palestine) and W-Arly-Pendjari Complex (Benin, Burkina Faso) to the list.

About Walled City of Ahmedabad

The Walled City of Ahmedabad was founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah I of Gujarat Sultanate in in 1411. It remained the capital of the Gujarat Sultanate and later important political and commercial centre of Gujarat.

It was established as a product of the Sultan’s ambitions to create a trading rival to the neighbouring Hindu trade centre of Asaval. Further, he made Ahmedabad centre of his own line of dynasty and replaced the old capital of Anhilvad Patan, located nearby.

Ahmed Shah I had laid the foundation of Bhadra Fort starting from Manek Burj, the first bastion of the city in 1411 which was completed in 1413. During Mughal rule, Bhadra Fort served as the seat of Governor of Gujarat

The richness of architecture present in Ahmedabad is enhanced by the cultural fusion of Hindu and Muslim elements. The city also holds rare distinction of being one of the oldest trading points in India and also centres of Indian freedom struggle under Mahatma Gandhi.

Spread over 5.43 square kilometres, the city now has approximate population of four lakh, living in century old wooden residences in around 600 pols or neighbourhoods. Today, despite having become extremely crowded and dilapidated, it still serves as the symbolic heart of metropolitan Ahmedabad.

About World Heritage Cities Programme

It is one of six thematic programmes formally approved and monitored by the WHC. It aims to assist state parties in the challenges of protecting and managing their urban heritage. The programme is structured along a two-way process (i) development of a theoretical framework for urban heritage conservation, and (ii) provision of technical assistance to States Parties for the implementation of new approaches and schemes.

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UNESCO puts Old City of Hebron on its heritage in danger list

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee acting on a proposal brought by Palestine has put the West Bank city of Hebron on its list of world heritage in danger.  This has made Israel angry and has triggered a new Israeli-Palestinian spat at the international body.

Salient Facts

The inclusion of the Old City of West Bank into the list of World Heritage in danger is aimed at drawing world’s attention to the situation in Hebron.

The resolution for declaring Hebron as a protected area of outstanding universal value was brought by the Palestine and the resolution was fast-tracked by the UNESCO on the basis that the site was under severe threat. Palestine accuses Israel for involving in violations, vandalism and for causing damage to properties in the area.

In a separate vote, the heritage committee had also supported a resolution condemning Israel’s actions in Jerusalem. This has further infuriated Israel.

The resolution is viewed as a major victory for the Palestinian Diplomacy at the UN. In 2012, Palestine has been granted observer status by the UN General Assembly, meaning it is not recognised as a fully-fledged country.

Hebron

Hebron is cited as one of the oldest cities in the world. The city is very old dating from the Chalcolithic period or more than 3,000 years BC. The Old City of Hebron has sites that are holy to both Jews and Muslims, known as either the Tomb of the Patriarchs or the al-Ibrahimi mosque. The city which is the largest city in the West Bank is home to more than 200,000 Palestinians and a few hundred Israeli settlers.

Israel

Israel has rejected the Hebron resolution saying that the resolution’s reference to the city as Islamic denies thousands of years of Jewish connection with the city.

Israel believes that Hebron is the birthplace of the Jewish people. The religious site at the Hebron was originally built by the Jewish King Herod, which was later added to by the Muslim caliphs.

Israel has accused the UN for adopting anti-Israel bias at all issues concerning it. In May, UNESCO had passed a separate resolution on Jerusalem condemning Israel.

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