THE RUINS of Nalanda University in Bihar were declared as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO during its ongoing session in Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday.
The UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is said to have accepted India’s nomination to inscribe “Nalanda Mahavihara” on the prestigious list after Vietnam and Thailand moved a proposal in India’s favour.
UNESCO tweeted the development: “Just insribed as @UNESCO #WorldHeritage Site: Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara at Nalanda, Bihar. #India”.
This is significant in view of objections UNESCO had raised over the 200-page dossier India submitted last year. A few months ago, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) had pointed out several “weaknesses” in the dossier. Consequently, the agency, which evaluates nominated World Heritage Sites globally, wanted “deferring” of Nalanda’s bid.
ICOMOS had recommended that the state party “deepen its study of the site” and explicitly establish its importance and authenticity. It had also recommended the project label to be changed from ‘Excavated Remains of Nalanda Mahavihara’ to the ‘Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara.’
To dispel doubts, Ruchira Kamboj, India’s Permanent Representative to UNESCO in Paris, went to the venue with delegates from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to present Nalanda’s case. “We gave them suitable literature and films on Nalanda Mahavihara, so that the Indian delegation could suitably advocate its inclusion in the World Heritage list,” a senior ASI official said. The dossier had been prepared under the ASI’s supervision.
“We were hopeful about Nalanda and had our fingers crossed,” Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said. “…it’s good news for India, and especially for Bihar.” Bihar CM Nitish Kumar thanked “everyone involved in the process”. Nalanda is the second site in Bihar, after Mahabodhi temple, to get the UNESCO heritage tag.