The Golden Temple: A Potential WHS

Selection criteria for a WHS

According to UNESCO, any of the following criteria need to be satisfied to be nominated as a World Heritage Site.

(i)to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;

(ii)to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;

(iii)to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;

(iv)to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;

(v)to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;

(vi)to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);

(vii)to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;

(viii)to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;

(ix)to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;

(x)to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.


Criteria fulfilled by the Golden Temple

In my opinion out of the above, the criteria satisfied by the Golden Temple are :

  1. Creative work : The Golden Temple is a Masterpiece of Architecture. Being one of the Most Modern Religions, it has a mix of influences from Hinduism as well as Islam. Louis Rousselet, writing in 1882, regarded it as a “handsome style of architecture”. Major Cole described it as an adaptation of Mohammadan styles, flavoured with a good deal of Hindu tradition. Percy Brown considered it to be a product of the synthesis of Hindu and Muslim influences, combined with elaborations that imparted it an appearance of its own. In the opinion of Hermann Goetz, Kangra transformation of Oudh architecture was taken over by the Sikhs and evolved into that wonderful, though occasionally gaudy, Indian ‘rococo’ art often seen in the gurudwaras of Punjab.
  2. Exhibiting an important interchange of human values : Handing over of Sri Guru Granth Sahib to the Sikhs as their Final Guru – Sikhism had ten Gurus. After the tenth Guru Shri Guru Gobind Singh ji, The Guru Granth Sahib was made the Guru for the future. This represents a sea change for a community that accepted a Holy Book as its eternal leader after a long line of human successions. This is the only major religion in the world that underwent this transition. In comparision, Christianity still has the Vatican leadership and Hinduism has major leaders such as the Shankaracharyas. The Original Guru Granth Sahib is seated in the Golden Temple.
  • A Cultural Testimony: It is a testimony to the great religion of Sikhism in India. The Akal Takht has been the centre of the Sikh community and the nodal body for all affairs concerning the Religion.

Survey Results

A survey was conducted on 83 students of Delhi University, North Campus. The following 5 questions that represent five out of the ten pre requisites for being nominated as a World Heritage Site were asked. The results indicated that more than 40 percent of the respondents agreed to the criteria that the Golden Temple could be nominated as a World Heritage Site.


Based on the analysis and survey results, I believe that The Golden Temple should be nominated as a World Heritage Site.