Why India's World Heritage Sites Are Up For 'Adoption'

The Red Fort in India has now been adopted
The Red Fort in India has now been 'adopted' | © Dan / Flickr

#IndiaOnSale began trending on social media following a private conglomerate’s ‘adoption’ of the Red Fort for a whopping INR 25 crores (a crore denotes 10 million, therefore, approximately GBP 2,786,941). Others, however, have supported the decision by labelling it a progressive step for the protection of iconic sites around the South Asian country.

What is the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme?

The brainchild of the Indian Ministry of Tourism, the Archaeological Survey of India and the Ministry of Culture, the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme was first launched on World Tourism Day in September 2017. 93 ASI (Archaeological Survey of India)-listed monuments and World Heritage Sites across India were put up for corporate adoption, including the likes of the iconic Taj Mahal and the India Gate.

Can this scheme save the Taj Mahal, which is now turning green and brown?

The companies and individuals partnering with the government under the scheme are referred to as ‘Monument Mitras’. The government has laid out three parameters for their selection – their financial credentials, their success stories with similar projects and their vision for the structure.

However, the speed at which the scheme was proposed and implemented has raised a few eyebrows. Will these private entities gain ownership of the site?

The government has denied this. ‘The ownership of these sites has not changed. There’s just a temporary change in their management and accessibility for a certain period of time’.

What will ‘Monument Mitras’ try to accomplish?

‘Monument Mitras’ will be responsible for the development, operation and maintenance of amenities and facilities of the adopted site, such as cleanliness, drinking water, accessibility, signage, lavatories, tourist multi-purpose centres, surveillance, illumination and other upkeep work. It will also take care of the site under its Corporate Social Responsibility activity.

Which sites have already been ‘adopted’?

The country’s leading cement supplier, Dalmia Bharat Group, has already adopted the historically and politically significant Red Fort and the 13th-century Gandikota Fort in the Grand Canyon of India. The SBI Foundation has obtained the rights to maintain the Jantar Mantar in Delhi while the online travel company, Yatra, has adopted the Qutub Minar, the temples of Hampi, the Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra and Stok Palace in Leh. ITC Limited and GMR Sports have expressed interest in acquiring the maintenance rights of the Taj Mahal.

The Indian Grand Canyon

Is this a good or bad step?

The corrosive effects of time, lack of adequate maintenance and human interaction have led to the degradation of these sites. In addition, the Archaeological Survey of India is starved for funds and manpower to manage and maintain these sites. In light of this, it can be considered a good step.

According to the government, ‘the Monument Mitra will make no profit from the site, however, they will get visibility on the premises as well as the Incredible India website, besides other benefits (which are yet to be known). At its core, the scheme will enhance the tourist attractiveness of the site, promote cultural and heritage value of the country, create employment opportunities through the active participation of local communities and result in economic development’.

The Great Stupa at Sanchi is included under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme

Social media reacts

Supporters have already embraced the scheme.

- embed -
- embed -
- embed -

Others, however, are quite wary of the situation.

- embed -
- embed -
- embed -
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.