Maharashtra to seek UNESCO world heritage tag for Raigad Fort

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Raigad (Maharashtra), June 6 (IANS) The Maharashtra government will make efforts to secure a place for the imposing Raigad Fort, the erstwhile capital of Chhatrapati Shivaji Bhonsle, in the UNESCO world heritage list, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced here on Monday.

He said it is a matter of concern that the historic fort atop a steep hill does not figure on the world heritage sites and the state would not rest till the site secured its rightful place in the Unesco list.

“There are several forts in Maharashtra… but none of these figure in the Unesco. We will ensure that this (Raigad fort) gets recognition internationally,” said Fadnavis, to thunderous applause, in his address at the 343rd commemoration ceremony of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s coronation which took place here on June 6, 1674.

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In this context, he said that Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje, a descendent of the great warrior king, had discussed the issue with him as well as plans to develop and conserve the fort as well as its surroundings for future generations.

For this, the state government has approved a Rs 5 billion development plan, including development of 21 villages within a seven km radius of the fort, to boost tourism in the region.

Fadnavis became the first chief minister ever to attend the solemn ceremony and took part in the coronation rituals performed on Chhatrapati Shivaji’s statue by Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje.

A 100-page coffee table book “Rajdhani Raigad” giving rare historical insights into Raigad accompanied by an aerial picture of the fort clicked by Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, was released by Fadnavis on the occasion.

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The book, the first-ever coffee-table presentation by the state government, is the culmination of joint efforts of Aniruddha Ashtaputre, Vilas Kane, Sadashiv Tetvilkar, Dilip Balsekar with inputs from Shri Shivaji Raigad Smarak Mandal.

Thousands of people from all over Maharashtra had started for the gruelling 1,737-step climb to the hilltop fort, 2,700 feet above sea level, from Sunday onwards for Monday’s ceremony.

The historic fort, mostly in ruins and now accessible even by an aerial tramway within 20 minutes, was a witness to a glorious era of Maratha history which started with Chhatrapati Shivaji’s coronation, and it was from here he laid foundation of the ‘Hindavi Swarajya’.

Presently, Maharashtra has four world heritage sites – the Elephanta Caves off Mumbai, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, the Ajanta-Ellora Caves in Aurangabad and the Western Ghats.

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