My 30-Before-30 UNESCO Challenge

It’s the ‘Age of The List’, of sorts.
And nowhere else is this truer than in the Blogosphere.
Top 5 Places to Visit in… Ten Reasons to Fall in Love with… 50 Foods to Try in… 100 Reasons for…
The list of “lists” on the internet would be never-ending.
Heck, there are even multiple lists on Why We Love Lists!

Having dabbled in some of these lists too here on the blog, like my post on 8 Fabulous Ways to Experience New York, or the one on 8 Reasons Why Brooklyn is Pretty Awesome; I decided I wanted to keep going with the list-making.

So when I celebrated my 27th birthday a few months ago, I began on another one: my list of ‘30-Things-I-Want-To-Accomplish-Before-I-Turn-30’. AKA my 30-Before-30 List!

While the larger 30-Before-30 List is still a Work-in-Progress, I thought I’d introduce you to two of the items that are certainly on that list, a Challenge that I’m putting myself through. We all know how much I love a good challenge: I’m already on the verge of completing the Take12Trips Challenge (10 down, 2 to go; Yea – ME!). So what do you get when you combine a love for lists and a love of challenges? You get what I’m calling the 30-Before-30-UNESCO-Challenge!

Logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee Source: Wikipedia

Logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee
Source: Wikipedia

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is one of the United Nations’ Specialized Agencies. UNESCO has been operating since 1945 with the main aim of promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture.

Here’s a little bit of history for you: one of the first things UNESCO did in the area of culture was the Nubia Campaign in 1960. After the construction of the Aswan Dam in Egypt, a 20-year project was undertaken in which 22 monuments and architectural complexes were relocated, so as to prevent the Great Temple of Abu Simbel from getting swamped by the Nile. The success of this campaign as well as subsequent similar projects in places like Fez (Morocco) led to the Convention on Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1972. The World Heritage Committee was established in 1976 and the first sites inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978 (Source: Wikipedia).

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, island, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance.
Source: Wikipedia.

I have been visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, both in India and abroad, long before I thought of undertaking this challenge; in fact many moons before I even started writing this blog. It adds a wonderful dimension to your travels, in my opinion. As of 2014, there are a total of 1007 historic monuments and culturally significant places that are designated with World Heritage Status.

The 30-Before-30 UNESCO Challenge: India

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Source: Wikimedia Commons

When I first thought of undertaking this challenge, there were exactly 30 sites in India enjoying World Heritage status, so the idea sort of fit perfectly. But in 2014, two additional sites have been added to the list. So as per the revised 30-32-Before-30 UNESCO Challenge, I propose that I would have visited all UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India before my 30th Birthday! I’ve visited 13 of these sites so far, and I have three years to visit the remaining 19. Got to start planning the rest of my vacations accordingly!

Total Number of Sites: 32
Number of Sites Visited: 13

  1. Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi
  2. Qutub Minar and its Monuments, New Delhi
  3. Red Fort Complex, New Delhi
  4. Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra
  5. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), Maharashtra
  6. Keoladeo National Park – Bharatpur, Rajasthan
  7. Jantar Mantar, Jaipur
  8. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu (partially)
  9. Agra Fort, Uttar Pradesh
  10. Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh
  11. Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh
  12. Western Ghats (partially)
  13. Hill Forts of Rajasthan (partially)

 The 30-Before-30 UNESCO Challenge: Rest of the World

Palace of Westminster, United Kingdom Source: Wikimedia Commons

Palace of Westminster, United Kingdom
Source: Wikimedia Commons

1007 is a whopping number, and that’s a task for another day! But I’m attempting a baby-step in that direction: I’m going to try to visit at least 30 sites across the world from UNESCO’s World Heritage List before my 30th Birthday. I’m at 12 so far!

Total Number of Sites: 1007
Total Number of Sites to be visited: 30
Number of Sites Visited so far: 12

  1. Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg, Austria
  2. Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn, Austria
  3. Historic Centre of Vienna, Austria
  4. Historic Centre of Prague, Czech Republic
  5. Palace and Park of Versailles, France
  6. Paris, Banks of the Seine, France
  7. Works of Antoni Gaudi, Spain
  8. Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville, Spain
  9. Historic Areas of Istanbul, Turkey
  10. Palace of Westminster & Westminster Abbey, United Kingdom
  11. Tower of London, United Kingdom
  12. Statue of Liberty, United States of America

Follow along, I’ll keep updating this section as and when I visit more sites in India and the rest of the world.

What about you? Do you visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites when you travel? How many have you been to? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


I’m linking this post up to the #SundayTraveler weekly blog party, co-hosted by some awesome bloggers.
You can link your travel posts here or here, or you can join the party by following #SundayTraveler on Social Media!

And I’m also linking this up to #WeekendWanderlust; you can link up your posts here or here


So, where are you off to next?

21 comments on “My 30-Before-30 UNESCO Challenge

  1. Was just updating my own UNESCO lifetime goal list and had to come and check in to see how you were making out with your 30…though now 32 before 30 challenge. 13 in India and 12 from the rest of the world- nicely done! Any upcoming plans to add more to the list? Were you able to count any of the ones that were just added a couple of weeks ago? I was able to add the San Antonio Missions to my list (visited in 2013) and then, as crazy luck would have it, I happened to be in Hamburg for business when they announced a site was being added from that city and it was literally a five minute walk from my office building! I’m only up to 30 total for my lifetime but it’s amazing how many you can see when you put your mind to it eh?

    • Hey… Thanks much! I definitely have plans to add more to the list! I’m traveling to Russia next month and hopefully will add a couple of sites there. Plus also plan to visit maybe 1-2 more in India before the end of the year as well, hopefully!
      Unfortunately, none of the newly added ones can be counted for me! Good job to you on covering 30 already, and good luck for more 🙂

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    • Thank you 🙂
      Well, they’re all so lovely, its hard to pick a favourite.
      The Historic Centers of Prague and Salzburg are absolutely stunning!

      In India, the Taj Mahal and Humayun’s Tomb are both gorgeous!

  4. An ambitious goal! Good luck! I’ve been trying to keep track of the UNESCO sites I’ve visited too. I’m always surprised about what places are included as sites and it’s always lovely to discover when I’ve unknowingly visited a heritage site.

    • Thanks so much Adelina! Keeping my fingers crossed I actually achieve it!
      I agree with you completely, its lovely to discover you’ve ended up at an attraction that also turns out to be a heritage site.

      But there’s always a flip side. I have visited a few places and not realized a site is UNESCO heritage listed, and ended up missing out. And that’s almost painful! 😛

      Like for instance, Goa is one of my favourite places in India, its the most popular beach destination in our country. I’ve been to Goa many times, but always to the beaches, never realizing I’ve been missing out on the Churches of Goa (part of the city’s Portuguese heritage); which are in fact a UNESCO WHS! 🙁

      • Yes! That’s my worst nightmare – missing out on something without even knowing it until after the fact. I’m terrible at properly planning so it happens more often than I like. You’d think I would have learned my lesson by now…. alas no.

  5. I didn’t even know some of the Europe ones you have are UNESCO sites. So that means I’ve visited more than I thought! I’m not really keeping track (then again, I’m terribly unorganized) but I like visiting historic places! Best of luck on this challenge!!

  6. That is a great challenge to set for yourself! These 30-before-30 challenges sure make me wish I was still in my 20s. Looking forward to reading more of your blog. All the best!

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