The UNESCO World Heritage Centre has recommended Santiniketan, the cultural site in West Bengal, India, for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a France-based international non-governmental organization, made the recommendation. The ICOMOS is an advisory body to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, comprising experts, representatives from local authorities, heritage organizations, and companies. Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy has expressed hope that the site would be formally inscribed on the World Heritage List in the World Heritage Committee meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in September 2023.
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A Proud Moment for India:
Visva-Bharati, the living university in Santiniketan built by Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore, would be the first university in India to receive this honour. The Vice-chancellor of the university, Bidyut Chakraborty, has called it a “great news and a matter of pride for everyone – every stakeholder of Visva Bharati, in fact, every citizen of the land.” The President of India is the ‘Paridarsaka’ (visitor) of the University, the Prime Minister is the ‘Acharya’ (chancellor), and the governor of West Bengal is the ‘Pradhana’ (rector) of the university.
The Significance of Santiniketan:
Santiniketan is a cultural site in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, known for its historical and cultural importance. It was originally an ashram built by Rabindranath Tagore’s father, Debendranath Tagore, and later developed into a university by Rabindranath Tagore himself. The site has various structures built by the Maharshi, such as the Santiniketan Griha and the Mandir, which are important in their association with the founding of Santiniketan and the universal spirit associated with the revival and reinterpretation of religious ideals in Bengal and India. The site has degree courses in humanities, social science, science, fine arts, music, performing arts, education, agricultural science, and rural reconstruction.
India’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
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India has a total of 40 sites that have been awarded the UNESCO World Heritage tag. These include 32 cultural sites such as Agra Fort, Taj Mahal, Harappan-era site in Dholavira, Elephanta Caves, Red Fort complex in Delhi, and Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodh Gaya in Bihar. India also has 52 sites on the tentative list, including Temples at Bishnupur in West Bengal, Mattanchery Palace in Kerala, and Wild Ass Sanctuary, Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. The tentative list is an inventory of those properties which each State Party intends to consider for nomination.
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