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Unesco list gives Nalanda a miss

Nalanda University ruins

Patna, June 21: The ancient Nalanda University ruins do not figure in the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco)’s heritage list released yesterday, which had few inclusions this year.

The Unesco included the excavated site of Nalanda in its tentative list of world heritage sites in 2009. Five years passed since the inclusion, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is still in the process of preparing a dossier for its inclusion in the final list.

The draft of the dossier — a formal application for seeking a position in the coveted list — is expected to be finalised by September. The Patna circle of ASI sent the documents required for the dossier to its headquarters in New Delhi yesterday.

The superintending archaeologist of ASI’s Patna circle, M.S. Chauhan, said: “We intend to submit the draft of the dossier to Unesco by September and if they are satisfied, it might be included in the world heritage site list next year.”

Nalanda University ruins are primarily archaeological sites exposed during the excavations conducted by the ASI during 1915-37 and 1974-82. An inscribed seal written “Sri-Nalandamahavihariy-Arya-Bhikshu-Sanghasya” identifies the site as Nalanda Mahavihara.

Nalanda has a very ancient history dating back to the days of Mahavira and Buddha. It is said that in course of his journeys, Buddha often halted at this place. According to the Jain texts, Mahavira spent as many as 14 monsoons here.

According to documents submitted by the ASI to Unesco in 2009, the ancient Nalanda University rose into prominence in the 5th century AD as a great monastic-cum-educational institution for oriental arts and learning in the whole Buddhist world, attracting students like Hiuen Tsang and I-Tsing from China and other distant countries.

Some historians suggested that Unesco should take voluntary steps to include the ancient Nalanda University ruins in the world heritage site list.

“The Unesco should take initiatives to preserve this monument by including it in the world heritage site list irrespective of the dossier being prepared for the same,” said Bijoy K. Chaudhary, director of K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute, Patna.

According to records with the ASI, there are references that the city was spread over 16sqkm. The extensive remains are of six brick temples and 11 monasteries. Various subjects like theology, sabda-vidyâ grammar, hetu-vidyâ (logic), astronomy, metaphysics, chikitsâ-vidyâ (medicine) and philosophy were taught here.

“Nalanda University ruins is a world heritage site and people from the across the globe come here as it is one of the places associated with the wandering of the Buddha. The state and central government should try to get it included in the coveted list of world heritage sites,” said Deepak Anand, a Buddhist researcher in Nalanda.

Mahabodhi Mahavihara in Bodhgaya also figures in the world heritage site list.


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