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Nalanda University Included as UNESCO World Heritage Site


— Devyani Sultania.*

The UNESCO on Monday included in its list of World Heritage Sites the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh and a national park in Sikkim that is home to Mount Khangchendzonga, the world’s third highest peak, thereby approving all three Indian nominations for this session.

This approval came a couple of days after the ruins of the Nalanda University were included in the elite list during the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting that was held in Istanbul.

An official from India’s Ministry of Culture was quoted by Press Trust of India as saying that this is the first time three sites of a country got included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in a single session of the meeting.

The Capitol Complex is among the 17 sites that were designed by Franco-Swiss architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, also known as Le Corbusier. The sites spread over seven countries — France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Argentina, Japan and India. Le Corbusier was the one who had planned the city of Chandigarh in the 1950s.

In an official statement, the UNESCO said that the 17 sites are a “testimonial to the invention of a new architectural language that made a break with the past… The Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh (India), the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Japan), the House of Dr Curutchet in La Plata (Argentina) and the Unite d’habitation in Marseille (France) reflect the solutions that the Modern Movement sought to apply during the 20th century to the challenges of inventing new architectural techniques to respond to the needs of society… These masterpieces of creative genius also attest to the internationalisation of architectural practice across the planet.”

The Khangchendzonga National Park in Sikkim, which also made it to the list, consists of a unique diversity of plains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and snow-capped mountains covered with ancient forests, including Mount Khangchendzonga.

“Mythological stories are associated with this mountain and with a great number of natural elements (e.g. caves, rivers, lakes, etc.) that are the object of worship by the indigenous people of Sikkim. The sacred meanings of these stories and practices have been integrated with Buddhist beliefs and constitute the basis for Sikkimese identity,” the statement said, according to the news agency.

The committee meeting, which was suspended due to the military coup bid in Turkey, resumed on Sunday for a day.


Background and History

For background on the historical significance of Nalanda University, check out this profile by the All-India Council for Technical Education.