UNESCO tag: Nalanda faced hurdles, ASI says it was confident

Patna/New Delhi, Jul 17: Ancient ruins of the historic Nalanda university in Bihar faced "few hiccups" on the road to being inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, even as the ASI asserted that it was "confident" of earning the coveted tag.

The archaeological site of the ancient seat of learning was on Friday declared as a world heritage, but sources said it needed an "all-out effort" from the Centre and the Bihar government to convince the jury as the ICOMOS had pointed to "weakness" in the over 200-page nomination dossier.

UNESCO tag: Nalanda faced hurdles

The inclusion of Nalanda and three other sites from China, Iran and Micronesia was announced at the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Istanbul in Turkey.

"ICOMOS in its recommendations had asked India to deepen the study of the nominated property in order to better articulate the attributes of its potential significance and even suggested to defer the bid," informed sources said.

It had also recommended the nomenclature of the nomination to be "changed from 'Excavated Remains of Nalanda Mahavihara' to the 'Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara'," the sources said.

International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), founded in 1965, provides the World Heritage Committee with evaluations of cultural and mixed properties proposed for inscription on the World Heritage List.

Last August, an expert from ICOMOS had visited the ruins of the ancient university to evaluate India's bid and the Paris-based NGO had offered "suggestions" on the dossier prepared under the supervision of ASI, a few months ahead of the Istanbul meet.

Read More: India's Nalanda among 9 new cultural sites added to World Heritage List

But the Archaeological Survey of India asserted it was "confident that Nalanda would earn the UNESCO tag." "We were confident of achieving it from day one. We were confident that our bid was strong and our dossier made our case. We were not worried about what ICOMOS had suggested," ASI Director General Rakesh Tewari told PTI.

"We had all the details in our dossier that exhibited the Outstanding Universal Value of the ancient site and we also had made photographic documents and a film on it especially for the bid," he said.

Tewari said India's bid was supported by over 16 countries and India's Permanent Representative to UNESCO in Paris, Ruchira Kamboj, also made a strong case which helped us clinch it.

"Vietnam initiated it and countries like Indonesia, Jamaica and the Philippines supported it," he said. Sources said a top official from Bihar government also visited Paris and added strength to India's case.

The ancient seat of learning, said to be one of the world's oldest universities, construction of which began in 6th century AD, flourished under the Gupta Empire.


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