Delhi out of Unesco’s heritage city tag race; eyes on Nalanda in 2016https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/art-and-culture/delhi-out-of-unescos-heritage-city-tag-race-eyes-on-nalanda-in-2016/

Delhi out of Unesco’s heritage city tag race; eyes on Nalanda in 2016

Despite its rich history, Delhi was pulled out of the race for the tag of UNESCO World Heritage City in 2015 citing restrictions that would be imposed on infrastructural projects, if awarded the status.

Delhi, UNESCO, World Heritage City, Nalanda University, Bihar, INTACH, Bakhtiar Khilji, Shahjanabad, Lutyen's Delhi, Sir Edwin Lutyen, Archaeological Survey of India
The two areas listed in the Delhi dossier sent to Unesco were — Shahjahanabad in old Delhi and Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone (LBZ). (Picture: Delhi Gate of Red Fort in Shahjahanabad, Delhi. Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The city of Delhi being pulled out of the race for the Unesco Heritage List was one of the biggest dampeners in the field of art and culture in 2015, though the ruins of ancient Nalanda University vying for the coveted tag this year will bring some cheer to heritage lovers looking forward to a hopeful 2016.

The Centre earlier last year had decided to ‘pull out’ the nomination of Delhi as a World Heritage City — saying the prestigious tag, if granted, will put ‘lot of restrictions’ on carrying out infrastructure works in the national capital.

The two areas listed in the dossier sent to Unesco were — Shahjahanabad in old Delhi (which has Mughal-era heritage), and Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone (LBZ) in New Delhi (which is part of the new imperial capital designed by Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker after the 1911 Delhi Durbar).

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A team from INTACH’s city chapter had prepared a ‘voluminous’ nomination dossier sent by the Centre in January 2014. The Union Ministry of Culture had sent the initial nomination to the Unesco in 2012.

A team from the world body had visited the city in October to examine the heritage sites mentioned in the dossier. The decision to pull out Delhi barely a few months before its fate was to be decided at the 39th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, had left heritage experts and lovers disheartened.

But with the ancient ruins of Nalanda in Bihar up for consideration of the tag this year, the news has brought some cheers post Delhi-gloom.

Nalanda is India’s 2015 entry for the Unesco World Heritage City tag in the cultural heritage segment, in pursuance of which the Ministry of Culture — through the Archaeological Survey of India — had sent an over 200-page-long nomination dossier on January 23 last year.

The university’s construction began in 6th century AD and flourished under the Gupta Empire. Its end came in 12th century when it was ransacked, looted and burnt in 1193 AD by the invading Turk Army, led by its commander Bakhtiar Khilji.

An expert from Paris-based International Council of Monuments and Sites also visited the ruins of the university, situated in Nalanda district — about 90 km from Patna — to evaluate India’s bid in pursuance of the coveted tag.