GoUNESCO is a travel challenge I started in 2012. It started with an innocuous tweet by Pallavi Savant which gave me an idea for my next travel goal. I decided to travel to all the UNESCO world heritage sites (WHS) in India in 2012. I emailed a few friends and asked if they would be interested in doing it too, kind of like a competition and thus started GoUNESCO.

I set up a tumblr website and started a google spreadsheet where everyone could enter dates of their travel. The spreadsheet would also calculate the points each traveler earned. While assigning points, I chose to give weight to the accessibility and the popularity of the WHS, so as to encourage travel to less visited sites. So travel to Valley of flowers, a national park which opens only for a couple of months a year would earn a traveler 60 points whereas Taj Mahal, which is on the main tourist trail earns only 25 points.

Over the course of the year, 50 folks joined the Challenge from different parts of the country and traveled more than 250,000KM in total. Some more stats are available in this presentation.

At the end of the year, Jai Bharathi was declared the winner of the challenge after she managed to visit every one of the 28 (western ghats were not part of the challenge as the site was added in the middle of the year) sites. We had a Finale event in January 2013 which was graced by well known names in heritage and conservation – Mrs. Anuradha Reddy (Convener of INTACH Hyderabad), Mr. Krishnaiah (Superintending Archeologist, ASI) and Mr. Ramakrishna Rao (Dept. of Archeology and Museums, Govt of A.P). Here’s a video which a friend made and was played at the Finale.
This year, GoUNESCO has gone global. Anyone from anywhere can join the challenge and seek adventure. Country challenges are available across all 158 countries with UNESCO WHS. The Epic Challenge covers all 962 WHS across the world – and all your travel in your lifetime counts! Check GoUNESCO.com and sign up now.