Shantiniketan — the abode of Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore — can well be the country’s next World Heritage Site if India’s proposal in this regard is accepted by the UNESCO.
Shantiniketan, which houses the world-famous Visva Bharati university and attracts thousands of tourists from across the globe every year, is India’s 2010 official entry for UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
If the nomination is accepted, it will become India’s 30th world heritage site and West Bengal’s third after Darjeeling mountain railways and Sunderbans National Park.
Archaeological Survey of India, the agency responsible for conservation and protection of monuments and the nodal authority for making nominations to UNESCO, has sent the dossier to the UN agency in Paris.
“We have sent a dossier to UNESCO nominating Shantiniketan as this year’s official entry for World Heritage Sites. An acknowledgement has been received from UNESCO,” B.R. Mani, ASI’s Deputy Director General, said.
“The nomination will be discussed by the World Heritage Committee. They will then take a decision in this regard,” he told PTI.
He said the entire procedure takes a maximum of 18 months. The sprawling 150-acre campus may be initially added to the temporary list of the Heritage sites as part of the procedure to be declared as a World Heritage site.
Shantiniketan’s nomination comes as the country gears up to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore, who penned India’s national anthem.
Mr. Mani said this factor was taken into account before Shantiniketan was nominated as the country’s official entry.
“We certainly looked into the 150th anniversary celebrations factor before making the nomination. And moreover Shantiniketan is a world famous site and it attracts people from across the globe,” he said.
Shantiniketan was earlier called Bhubandanga (named after Bhuban Dakat, a local dacoit), and was owned by the Tagore family. In 1862, Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, Rabindranath’s father, gave the name Shantiniketan (abode of peace).
In 1901, Tagore started a school at Shantiniketan named Brahmachary Ashram modelled on the lines of the ancient gurukul system. After he received the Nobel Prize, the varsity was renamed Visva Bharati.
Visva Bharati, now more than a hundred years old, is one of the most prestigious universities of India with degree courses in humanities, social science, science, fine arts, music, performing arts, education, agricultural science and rural reconstruction.