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The largest number of spiritual tourists are the domestic local population in India and Pakistan, the South Asian diaspora and also international tourists (Haq and Jackson, 2009; Kumar and Singh, 2015; Phukan et al., 2012; Qureshi, 2003; Timothy, 2011). Capacity building for conservation and preservation of cultural and natural SHT is an emerging profession and more and more people are being educated and made aware of preserving cultural and natural heritage monuments and sites for the future generation.

India: School of Plaiming and Architecture (SPA) in New Delhi, India is involved with ICCROM in training students and faculty about cultural heritage education, planning, implementing heritage preservation projects, natural habitat studies, and cultural heritage conservation and management in India. Natural disasters such as cyclones, floods, and earthquakes are the threats to cultural and spiritual heritage sites along with illegal land encroachment, excavations, and vandalism of the heritage properties by the people and visitors. India has numerous centuries old SHT sites and monuments from different religions. It has a total of 37 heritage sites out of which 29 are cultural, 7 natur al and 1 mixed. Many of the Mughal Empire related spiritual, cultural, and natural heritage tourism sites, gardens and monuments are protected under UNESCO heritage such as the Agr a Fort, Jaipur Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort, and the Taj Mahal. Numerous heritage monuments are under the Archaeological Society of India, which are not looked after well due to paucity of funds and are in danger. Further, many heritage tourism monuments, sites, gardens, places of worship are vandalized and dilapidated due to bad weather conditions. Furthermore, successive Indian governments in the last decade have the habit of changing names of historical heritage places and monuments, which is like destroying historical facts for the fixture generations.

According to UNESCO, the following natural and cultur al heritage sites are listed for India. Natural Heritage: In this century, two sites are included under “Natural Heritage” namely Western Ghats in (2012) and the Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area in (2014) and one in “Mixed Heritage” category called Khangchendzonga National Park in 2016.

Cultural Heritage: Nearly 13 monuments and sites are included from a total of 29 sites. They are (1) Mahabodhi temple complex in Bodlr Gaya in 2002, (2) The Rock shelters of Bhimbetka in 2003, (3) Champaran Archaeological Park in 2004, (4) Victoria Railway Terminus in 2004, (5) The Red Fort complex in 2007, (6) Mountain Railways of India in 2008, (7) Jantar Mantar Jaipur in 2010, (8) Hill forts of Rajasthan in 2013, (9) The Queen’s Step Well at Patan Gujarat in 2014, (10) Archaeological site of Mahavir-Jain Nalanda in Bihar in 2016, (11) Historic City of Alrmed-abad in 2017, (12) The Architectural work of Le Corbusier in 2016, and (13) Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai in 2018.

Heritage Walled City of Ahmedabad: The sixth century historical walled city of Ahmedabad founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah in 1411 AD is listed and protected under the UNESCO world heritage in 2017 with its multicultural and multireligious characteristics of the timber architecture and famous for its town planning, sanitation, water storage, centre court yards, and living spaces (UNESCO, 2019b). Ahmedabad meets two (2 and 4) out of ten selection criteria to be listed as a world heritage site.

“The typology of the city’s domestic architecture is presented and interpreted as an important example of regional architecture with a community-specific function and a family lifestyle that forms an important part of its heritage. The presence of institutions belonging to many religions (Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism) makes the historic urban structure of Ahmedabad an exceptional and unique example of multicultural coexistence” (UNESCO, 2019b).

According to UNESCO (2019b), heritage city of Ahmedabad an Islamic town established by the Sultan Ahmed Shah was classified on the basis of maintaining integrity, authenticity, and needs protection and management of heritage sites. In case of the integrity, heritage city of Ahmedabad has maintained its topography and geomorphology Over the centuries, the hydrology, natural features, historic and contemporary built environment has been subjected to the changes and growth due to upgrade of infrastructure in terms of the city’s population and community aspirations. Its infra structure above and below gr ound has also been successively added and/or expanded with population growth. However, Ahmedabad city’s gardens, open spaces, land use patterns, and spatial organization have largely remained unchanged for centuries. The authenticity of the unique wooden architecture and brick homes to suit its climate with the fort walls and three gates, Jama Masjid Mosque and large open spaces (Maidan), around the periphery of the mosque, small suburbs, and markets were established over time.

Due to the integrity and authenticity of the centuries old Ahmedabad Islamic city there was a need to protect and manage its cultural and natural heritage site. Therefore, 28 monuments listed by the Ar chaeological Survey of India along with 2696 heritage buildings and monuments identified by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation were given heritage status for heritage conservation and sustainable management of its cultural and natural heritage, along with the 21st century urban development in and around the historic heritage city, and conserving and promoting its rich cultural heritage.

Pakistan: In Pakistan, similar to India, there are centuries old numerous cultural and natural heritage sites. These sites need to be preserved due to damage caused by plant/bio-growth, natural disasters together with illegal land encroachment, excavations, and vandalism of the heritage properties by the locals and visitors to the heritage sites. In Pakistan, UNESCO initiated the project called “Protection of World Heritage Sites of Pakistan through Capacity Building and Awareness Raising” to preserve the centuries old Buddhist caves and monasteries from Taxila and Islamic SHT sites from the ancient and medieval periods dating back to first to fifth century (UNESCO, 2019c).

In order to address the challenge of protecting spiritual tourism heritage, capacity building by PPP projects is the key to bring awareness by involving all stakeholders and the local community, UNESCO world heritage, government, NGO, industrialists, philanthropist, spiritual leaders, archaeology department, educational institutions, universities, architectural firms, academics from various disciplines such as scientist, historians, economist, and sustainable tourism management gurus and artists. In case of preserving the Buddhist world heritage site at Taxila, PPPs were formed between UNESCO, Islamabad government, Comsats Institute of Information Technology and, Hazara University to build capacity to solve the preservation challenges (UNESCO, 2019b).

Similarly, there are numerous spiritual tourism heritage sites in Pakistan related to other religions. Such as numerous centuries’ old Hindu temples as Katsraj and over 550 years old Sikli Gurudhwara in Kartarpur Sahib, Sufi shrines, spiritual gardens, Zoroastrian fire temples, besides colonial churches in the various capital cities and hill stations. All these are in need of conservation and preservation for socioeconomic benefit of the future generations through capacity building for preservation and building peace in the minds of all people and protection from the natural disasters and illegal encroachment and vandalism of SHT.

In Pakistan, there is a treasure trove of heritage sites which are over 5000 years old. From the natural heritage of the Himalayan mountain ranges to the 5000 plus years old archaeological site of most ancient Indus valley civilization, civilizations along the Indus and Ravi and Chenab rivers, to centuries old Buddhist, Hindu, Sikli, and Islamic places of worship. In 2004, nearly 10 archaeological sites were listed tentatively and nomination as cultural heritage sites. There are nearly 26 cultural heritage and natural heritage sites considered for nomination to UNESCO world heritage listing such as forts, parks, monuments, mosques, and archaeological sites on the tentative listing. Of which there are six cultural heritage sites and monuments under UNESCO world heritage.

Cultural Heritage: Six sites are listed by UNESCO under the cultural heritage. (1) Ar chaeological mins ofMohenjo-Daro in 1980, (2) the Buddhist mins of Takht-i-Bahi and Sahr-i-Bahlol in 1980, (3) Taxila in 1980, (4) Lahore fort and Shalimar gardens in 1981, (5) Historical mountains of Makli Thatta in 1981, and (6) Rohtas fort hi 1997.

Nominated Natural Heritage Sites: hi 2016, eight national parks and landscapes were listed for nomination as UNESCO world heritage: (1) Derawar and the Desert Forts of Cholistan, (2) Hingol Cultural Landscape, (3) Karez System Cultural Landscape, (4) Nagarparkar Cultural Landscape, (5) Central Karakoram National Park, (6) Deosai National Park, (7) Ziarat Juniper Forest, and (8) The Salt Range and Kliewra Salt Mine (UNESCO, 2019d).

Tentative List of Heritage Sites: There are 26 cultural and natural sites in Pakistan identified as a tentative list to be nominated and protected under UNESCO as world heritage. Many are SHT sites. For example, in Lahore: Badshahi Mosque, Wazir Khan’s mosque, Tombs of Jahangir, son of the great Mughal emperor—Akbar, Hiran Minar in Sheikliupura, tomb of Shamkli-e-Alam tomb, and mosque Bibi Jawandi. Forts of Rani

Kot, Baltit, Derawar, and Desert Forts of Cholistan, Shah Jahan Mosque in Thatta, and Chaukhandi tomb in Karachi. Archaeological sites include, Mehrgarh, Rehman Dheri, Harappa, and Ranigat. Natural cultural heritage landscapes include Manselira Rock, Hingol, Karez, and Nagarparkar; National Parks of central Karakorum, Deosai, Ziarat Juniper, salt ranges, and Klrewra salt mines.


Capacity building for SHT preservation, development, and promotion faces many opportunities and challenges as discussed below. Capacity building provides the key to build awareness regarding the socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental importance of protecting, conserving, and promoting spiritual heritage for the future generations. Capacity building brings together people with technical skills, historians, artists, and philanthropic financial support required for protecting and conserving centuries old multi-faith spiritual heritage in India and Pakistan, who share a common history for the benefit of the local population.


i) Capacity building for SHT with involvement of all stakeholders’ at local, national, and international levels for sustainable heritage tourism conservation and development for the future generations through world heritage education program, planning, implementation, and outcomes.

ii) Employment creation in various fields related to heritage conservation, preservation, tourism, and sustainable development of cultural and natural SHT sites for the benefit of the future generations.

iii) Planning, developing, implementing, and organizing SHT tours. Attracting local and overseas heritage tourists generates foreign exchange revenue and in turn having a multiplier effect on the economy for employment creation in various sectors, small and medium businesses supporting SHT-related goods and services.

iv) Opportunities for local, national, and international World Heritage Volunteers (WHV) activities on heritage sites for heritage tourism awareness of heritage sites, its importance to the community and economy, for conservation, preservation by students, youth organizations, scholars, tourists, and people volunteering then-skills, expertise, and knowledge in identifying, listing, educating, and building awareness, regarding heritage preservation, conservation, promotion, and preparing proposals for nominating cultural and natural sites for world spiritual heritage listing.

v) World heritage campaign activities and camps to empower local communities to be aware of cultural and natural heritage in their surrounding geographical areas. To empower to protect, conserve, preserve, and promote SHT sites. For example, in India WHV camps were held in Ahmedabad by Exilier foundation for Champaran-Pavagadh, Rani-Ki-Vav, or Queen’s Stepwell and intercultural leanring camp in Hampi, Karnataka.

vi) To raise funds for preserving SHT cultural or natural sites various fund-raising activities can be organized such as intercultural events, marathon run, sporting events, music, cultural, and film festivals at the heritage sites.

vii) Given the social, cultural, recreational, and economic significance of SHT sites many visitors also experience a spiritual transformation in their outlook for cultural and natural spiritual heritage and artifacts belonging to eight major spiritual faiths in India and Pakistan. Further, South Asian diaspora, students, researchers, and scholars’ main purpose is to have transformational heritage experience, volunteer in spiritual heritage education, fund-raising for conservation, preservation, and promotion of spiritual heritage.


There are many challenges socioeconomic, cultural, political, religious, regulatory, population pressure, pollution, traffic, infra structure development, and environmental problems faced by the two countries in capacity building for effective protection, conservation, and management of its natural and SHT. Capacity building for heritage tourism awareness plan has to be implemented as many spiritual heritage tourism buildings, sites, open spaces, and gardens are within the fort walls and city complexes of heritage buildings.

i) Heritage management planning with all the stakeholders is a challenge who have different goals and obj ectives. It is an essential instrument for conservation, preservation, and sustainable management of the SHT places of worship, spiritual gardens, and natural spiritual heritage (mountains, trees, statues, oceans, and caves).

ii) Listing and documenting of all categories of historical, cultural, natural, and SHT sites should be made by the local authorities and archaeological societies with the assistance from all stakeholders such as history, archaeology, and tourism students, educational institutions, historian, scholars of architecture, history, botanist, artists, builders, tour guides, and tourists for conservation, preservation and management of spiritual heritage buildings, monuments, sites, open spaces, and gardens.

iii) Implementation of a heritage management plan should be done effectively. For example, the development and construction of new infrastructure, buildings, roads, and bridges should not displace, demolish, and destroy cultural and natural heritage buildings, places of worship, and heritage open spaces and landscapes, and maintain their integrity and authenticity.

iv) Capacity building for heritage education and awareness for the locals and tourists/visitors should be prepared with involvement of all stakeholders and community for approval, implemented for sustainable SHT development.

v) Challenge of implementing heritage management plan due to corruption as funds allocated for preservation of heritage are not used effectively. Heritage protection, conservation, preservation, and development should take place within the heritage management plan criteria for conservation of heritage sites.

vi) The challenge is to incorporate the roles, regulation, and responsibilities of all visitors to protect the heritage sites and appreciate them with respect and not vandalize or damage the SHT sites.

vii) Challenge of capacity building by sharing all technical knowledge, skills, advice, and financial assistance from all over the world is required to preserve/restore SHT sites, buildings, places of worships, gardens, and nature to benefit the future generations, which are in danger of being destroyed.

viii) Challenge of war and tenor which can destroy centuries old heritage forts, monuments, and spiritual heritage sites. For example, centuries old Buddhist SHT sites were destroyed due to war in many countries such as in Afghanistan or letting it decay or destroyed as it belongs to other minority religious groups.

ix) The conflict between India and Pakistan makes it also difficult to use scarce resources for capacity building and protect thousands of centuries old heritage cultural, archaeological, and natural sites. Both countries share centuries old Indus Valley civilization, cultural and natural heritage along with rich multi-spiritual and cultural heritage of places of worship. For example, various forts, and temples and mosques built within the fort, which are overgrown with vegetation and thus dilapidating, gardens and other heritage architecture which forms part of the spiritus heritage tourism. Such as the nominated cultural/SHT sites of Badshahi mosque in Lahore, various Sufi saints tombs in Multan, Buddhist and Hindu temples. Similarly, there are numerous centuries old forts, mosques, temples, and places of workshops belonging to eight religions in India which need capacity building with all stakeholders for conservation and restoration for fixture generations for sustainable SHT development.

x) Global Public-Private Partnerships for SHT (G-PPPs) conservation and development is required by working together with UNESCO, archaeological heritage societies for capacity building, fund raising, volunteering skills, and protecting and restoring world heritage sites like the centuries old numerous places of worships, forts, and other heritage and archaeological sites, centuries old monuments, wildlife, mountains, rivers, and forests in India and Pakistan.

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